Record Runoff into the Missouri Basin

Record Runoff into the Missouri Basin : Image of the Day.

Record Runoff into the Missouri Basin

acquired May 1 – 31, 2011
Color bar for Record Runoff into the Missouri Basin

As floods along the Mississippi River began to recede, waters rose along the Missouri River. Extending across 10 U.S. states, the Missouri drains nearly one-sixth of the area of the United States. In June 2011, above Sioux City, Iowa, the Missouri River Basin experienced the highest runoff for any single month since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) began keeping detailed records in 1898.

Multiple factors contributed to the heavy runoff into the Missouri River Basin, the USACE explained, including heavy snowpack on the plains, near-record snowpack in the western U.S. mountains, and rainfall. This color-coded map shows rainfall anomalies for May 2011, compared to the 1998–2010 average. Below-average percentages are brown, and above-average percentages are blue. Rivers are thin blue lines.

Blue dominates most of the western United States in this color-coded map, testifying to the unusually high rainfall in May 2011. The USACE characterized the rainfall into the upper Missouri River Basin in mid- to late May as a critical factor in subsequent runoff. In May 2011, eastern Montana received 300 to 400 percent of normal rainfall, with some locations receiving more than a year’s average rainfall in just two weeks. Parts of North and South Dakota and Wyoming received more than 200 percent of normal rainfall. In some places, heavy rain continued into June.

By June 2011, the heavy rain had translated into heavy runoff. That month, the USACE reported, runoff into the Missouri River Basin above Sioux City totaled 13.8 million acre feet. (An acre foot is the amount of water required to cover one acre with one foot of water.) It was enough water, the USACE explained, to fill Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska, every five minutes throughout the month of June.

The previous record monthly runoff for the Missouri River Basin above Sioux City was set in April 1952, at 13.2 million acre feet. In 2011, the combined runoff for May and June was 24.3 million acre feet, just below the normal annual runoff total of 24.8 million acre feet.

Not all of the western United States was soggy in May 2011. In this image, a brown patch of below-average rainfall extends from southern Colorado and Kansas into New Mexico and Texas. This region experienced deepening drought as the summer of 2011 progressed.

This image is based on data from the Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis produced at Goddard Space Flight Center, which estimates rainfall by combining measurements from many satellites and calibrating them using rainfall measurements from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite.

  1. References

  2. National Weather Service. (2011, July 22). Missouri Basin, Pleasant Hill. Accessed July 22, 2011.
  3. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (2011, July 11). Corps: June 2011 was highest single month of runoff into Missouri River basin.(PDF file) Accessed July 22, 2011.
  4. U.S. Drought Monitor. (2011, July 14). Conditions for July 12, 2011. (PDF file) University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Accessed July 22, 2011.
  5. U.S. Geological Survey. (2009, September 8). Missouri River. Accessed July 22, 2011.

NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using near-real-time data provided courtesy of TRMM Science Data and Information System at Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Michon Scott.


Ice Island Calves off Petermann Glacier

Ice Island Calves off Petermann Glacier : Natural Hazards.

Ice Island Calves off Petermann Glacier

acquired July 20, 2011download large image (716 KB, JPEG, 2000×2600)
acquired July 20, 2011download GeoTIFF file (7 MB, TIFF, 2000×2600)
acquired July 20, 2011download Google Earth file (KMZ)

In August 2010, the Petermann Glacier along the northwestern coast of Greenland calved an ice island roughly four times the size of Manhattan. Nearly a year later, on July 20, 2011, a piece of that ice island—named Petermann Ice Island-A (PII-A) and about the same size as Manhattan—was still visible to the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer(MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite.

The Canadian Ice Service (CIS) tracked the ice island as it drifted through the Labrador Sea. On July 8, 2011, the CIS reported that the PII-A was approximately 55 square kilometers (21 square miles), and was continuing to lose surface area through calving and melting. On July 20, MODIS observed PII-A slightly south of where it had been a month earlier.

On July 21, 2011, MSNBC reported that PII-A was slowly drifting toward Newfoundland. The glacier was not likely to reach land; its base would probably become grounded on the sea floor off the coast. The ice chunk did, however, pose a potential hazard for shipping lanes and offshore oil rigs.

  1. References

  2. Canadian Ice Service (2011, July 8). Petermann Ice Island Updates. Accessed July 22, 2011.
  3. MSNBC. (2011, July 21). Massive ice island drifts toward Canada. Accessed July 22, 2011.

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Michon Scott.

Terra – MODIS

Horn of Africa Famine: Millions at Risk

Horn of Africa Famine: Millions at Risk in “Deadly Cocktail” of War, Climate Change, Neoliberalism.

The United Nations has called an emergency meeting to discuss the Horn of Africa drought, which it says has already claimed tens of thousands of lives. Famine was declared in two regions of Somalia on Wednesday where 3.7 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Another eight million people need food assistance in neighboring countries including Kenya and Ethiopia. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls the situation a “catastrophic combination of conflict, high food prices and drought” and has appealed for immediate aid. We go to Nairobi for an update from Kiki Gbeho of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. We also speak with Christian Parenti, author of “Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence.” “This was predicted long ago by people on the ground,” Parenti says. “It’s a combination of war, climate change and very bad policy, particularly an embrace of radical free market policies by regional governments that mean the withdrawal of support for pastoralists, the type of people you saw with their dead cattle.” [includes rush transcript]