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Did a 'gustnado' topple the stage at the Indiana State Fair?

Did a ‘gustnado’ topple the stage at the Indiana State Fair? | MNN – Mother Nature Network.

Another older post that highlights some interesting and unusual wind events….

The stage, just as it began to collapse Photo: JSilas7/YouTube
Investigators are searching for clues about the Aug. 13 stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis that killed five people.

Some meteorologists think a kind of wind storm called a ‘gustnado’ could be to blame.

Cousins to tornadoes, gustnadoes are brief, low-to-the-ground swirling clouds. They are relatively weak compared to tornadoes, but they can still pack a punch and are capable of knocking over weak structures.
At the very least, the damage was caused by a strong gust front, or outflow boundary. This front is what separates thunderstorm-cooled air from the warmer air surrounding it. Gustnadoes are known to develop along gust fronts.
“The video shows a swirl of dust coming across the stage, and it’s only when the swirl hits the stage that the stage actually collapses,” according to meteorologists at AccuWeather.com. [Click here to see the video on YouTube. Warning: The footage may be considered disturbing.]
Weather slang
The gustnado designation hasn’t been given to the Indiana storm by the National Weather Service.
“Normally we don’t classify an event as a gustnado,” said Dave Tucek, a meteorologist with the NWS in Indianapolis. According to the NWS storm report, the wind gusts were estimated at between 60 and 70 mph (97 and 113 kph).
Gustnado wind speeds can reach 80 mph (129 kph), according to the National Weather Service. Winds of that speed can cause damage similar to that of an EF-0 or EF-1 tornado, the lowest rankings on the tornado damage scale.
Tucek told OurAmazingPlanet that from the videos he has watched, he does not see evidence of a swirling motion in the dust and that “it’s hard to say for sure,” whether a gustnado formed.
Investigation continues
If a tornado had struck, storm survey teams for the NWS would be investigating to determine the strength. The Indianapolis NWS station has no plans to send a team to investigate the wind damage, Tucek said. The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the state fire marshal’s office are investigating what caused the collapse, reported the New York Times.
Telling the difference between a strong gustnado and a tornado can be tricky.
Gustnadoes may be accompanied by rain, just like tornadoes, but they are usually wispy or only visible as a debris cloud or dust whirl — a far cry from the dense and menacing funnel clouds of tornadoes.
Yet small tornadoes can seem wispy at first; the key is to look at the top of the suspected gustnado. Unlike tornadoes, gustnadoes are not connected to the storm clouds above, sticking closer to the ground.
True tornadoes spin off huge rotating storm clouds, called mesocyclones, which can tower tens of thousands of feet into the sky. Gustnadoes are more likely to be associated with a shelf cloud, a low, horizontal structure in the front of a thunderstorm.
This article was reprinted with permission from OurAmazingPlanet.

Rare 'derecho' storm sweeps across the Midwest

Rare ‘derecho’ storm sweeps across the Midwest | MNN – Mother Nature Network.

From July but still interesting….

A derecho uprooted a huge tree in Chicago, Ill. A MIGHTY WIND: A derecho uprooted a huge tree in Chicago, Ill. (Photo: DERRICKR_SMG/lockerz.com)
A severe storm is sweeping across the Midwest today with winds so strong that it has a special name: derecho.

A derecho (from the Spanish adverb for “straight”) is a long-lived windstorm that forms in a straight line — unlike the swirling winds of a tornado — and is associated with what’s known as a bow echo, a line of severe thunderstorms. The term “derecho” was first used over a century ago to describe a storm in Iowa. Across the United States, there are generally one to three derecho events each year.

The Midwest derecho has wind gusts between 60 and 80 mph (97 to 129 kph), according to the Weather Channel. Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois have all reported severe winds. These severe winds are the main cause of damage from the storm, said Rose Sengenberger, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Romeoville, Ill., but added that people should be on the lookout for other dangerous weather.
“With any long-lived storm, there is also the threat of lightning and heavy rain,” Sengenberger told OurAmazingPlanet.
Tornadoes are not any more likely during a derecho, Sengenberger said. Still, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for parts of southwest Michigan. Dangerous rain-wrapped tornadoes could shoot down from the squall line, said the NWS. As their name suggests, rain-wrapped tornadoes are shrouded from view by pouring rains, making them even more potentially dangerous for their ability to surprise.
A derecho is not the worst of the windstorms, however. On May 8, 2009, a rare windstorm that swept across Kansas, Missouriand Illinois was in a league of its own. An intense vortex and eyelike structure similar to what forms at the center of tropical storms and hurricanes appeared in the bow echo. The storm was so severe that it earned a brand-new name: super derecho.
The super derecho gained strength as it moved across Kansas in the early morning, spinning off 18 tornadoes and packing wind speeds from 70 to 90 mph (115 to 145 kph) when it hit Springfield, Mo. The super derecho plowed a path of destruction through the state about 100 miles (62 kilometers) wide, crossed the Mississippi River with 90 to 100 mph (145 to 160 kph) wind gusts and blew through Illinois before dissipating at that state’s eastern border.
This article was reprinted with permission from OurAmazingPlanet.

Prehistoric greenhouse data from ocean floor could predict Earth's future

Prehistoric greenhouse data from ocean floor could predict Earth’s future, study finds.

ScienceDaily (Oct. 27, 2011) — New research from the University of Missouri indicates that Atlantic Ocean temperatures during the greenhouse climate of the Late Cretaceous Epoch were influenced by circulation in the deep ocean. These changes in circulation patterns 70 million years ago could help scientists understand the consequences of modern increases in greenhouse gases.

“We are examining ocean conditions from several past greenhouse climate intervals so that we can understand better the interactions among the atmosphere, the oceans, the biosphere, and climate,” said Kenneth MacLeod, professor of geological sciences in the College of Arts and Science. “The Late Cretaceous Epoch is a textbook example of a greenhouse climate on earth, and we have evidence that a northern water mass expanded southwards while the climate was cooling. At the same time, a warm, salty water mass that had been present throughout the greenhouse interval disappeared from the tropical Atlantic.”

The study found that at the end of the Late Cretaceous greenhouse interval, water sinking around Greenland was replaced by surface water flowing north from the South Atlantic. This change caused the North Atlantic to warm while the rest of the globe cooled. The change started about five million years before the asteroid impact that ended the Cretaceous Period.

To track circulation patterns, the researchers focused on “neodymium,” an element that is taken up by fish teeth and bones when a fish dies and falls to the ocean floor. MacLeod said the ratio of two isotopes of neodymium acts as a natural tracking system for water masses. In the area where a water mass forms, the water takes on a neodymium ratio like that in rocks on nearby land. As the water moves through the ocean, though, that ratio changes little. Because the fish take up the neodymium from water at the seafloor, the ratio in the fish fossils reflects the values in the area where the water sank into the deep ocean. Looking at changes through time and at many sites allowed the scientists to track water mass movements.

While high atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide caused Late Cretaceous warmth, MacLeod notes that ocean circulation influenced how that warmth was distributed around the globe. Further, ocean circulation patterns changed significantly as the climate warmed and cooled.

“Understanding the degree to which climate influences circulation and vice versa is important today because carbon dioxide levels are rapidly approaching levels most recently seen during ancient greenhouse times,” said MacLeod. “In just a few decades, humans are causing changes in the composition of the atmosphere that are as large as the changes that took millions of years to occur during geological climate cycles.”

The paper, “Changes in North Atlantic circulation at the end of the Cretaceous greenhouse interval,” was published in the October online edition of the journal Nature Geoscience. Coauthors include C. Isaza Londoño of the University of Missouri; E.E. Martin and C. Basak of the University of Florida, and A. Jiménez Berrocoso of the Unviersity of Manchester, United Kingdom. The study was sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Journal Reference:

  1. K. G. MacLeod, C. Isaza Londoño, E. E. Martin, Á. Jiménez Berrocoso, C. Basak. Changes in North Atlantic circulation at the end of the Cretaceous greenhouse interval. Nature Geoscience, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1284

APA

MLA

University of Missouri-Columbia (2011, October 27). Prehistoric greenhouse data from ocean floor could predict Earth’s future, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 1, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­/releases/2011/10/111027150213.htm

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

 

New Scientist special about what we do/don't know about Climate change

Climate change: What we do – and don’t – know – New Scientist.

(Image: Maria Stenzel)

There is much we do not understand about Earth’s climate. That is hardly surprising, given the complex interplay of physical, chemical and biological processes that determines what happens on our planet’s surface and in its atmosphere.

Despite this, we can be certain about some things. For a start, the planet is warming, and human activity is largely responsible. But how much is Earth on course to warm by? What will the global and local effects be? How will it affect our lives?Watch movie online A Cure for Wellness (2017)

In these articles, Michael Le Page sifts through the evidence to provide a brief guide to what we currently do – and don’t – know about the planet’s most burning issue.

KNOW

Greenhouse gases are warming the planet

From melting glaciers and earlier springs to advancing treelines and changing animal ranges, many lines of evidence back up what thermometers tell us
Read more

DON’T KNOW

How high greenhouse gas levels will rise

We can’t say how much Earth will warm over the coming years unless we know how much more greenhouse gas will end up in the atmosphere
Read more

KNOW

Other pollutants are cooling the planet

We pump all kinds of substances into the atmosphere. Some of them reflect the sun’s heat back into space and so cool things down
Read more

DON’T KNOW

How great our cooling effects are

Pollutants that form minute droplets in the atmosphere have horrendously complex effects – so it’s far from certain what they mean for global warming
Read more

KNOW

The planet is going to get a lot hotter

Extra carbon dioxide means a warmer world – and then positive feedback effects from things like water vapour and ice loss will make it warmer still
Read more

DON’T KNOW

Just how much hotter things will get

On current trends the temperature rise could exceed 4 °C as early as the 2060s. But even that could be an underestimate
Read more

DON’T KNOW

How things will change in each region

Which regions are going to turn into tropical paradises? Which into unbearably humid hellholes? It would be useful to know. Unfortunately, we don’t
Read more

KNOW

Sea level is going to rise many metres

Studies of past climate indicate each 1 °C rise in the global mean temperature eventually leads to a 20-metre rise in sea level
Read more

DON’T KNOW

How quickly sea level will rise

Do we have time to get temperatures back down before seas rise by more than a few metres? We have little clue how much room we have for manoeuvre
Read more

DON’T KNOW

How serious the threat to life is

The problem for the plants, animals and people living today is that they and we have adapted to the unusually stable climate of the past few thousand years
Read more

KNOW

There will be more floods and droughts

Warm air holds more moisture. This means more rain or snow overall, and more intense rain or snowfall on average
Read more

DON’T KNOW

Will there be more hurricanes and the like?

A wetter atmosphere will provide more of the fuel that powers extreme events like hurricanes, but it is not clear how often this fuel will be ignited
Read more

DON’T KNOW

If and when tipping points will come

The Amazon could become grassland. Massive amounts of methane could be released from undersea hydrates. And we may not realise in time to do anything about it
Read more

Fires in Russia and China

Fires in Russia and China : Natural Hazards.

Fires in Russia and China

acquired October 8, 2011 download large image (5 MB, JPEG)
acquired October 8, 2011 download GeoTIFF file (35 MB, TIFF)
acquired October 8, 2011 download Google Earth file (KMZ)

Smoke clouds the skies across northeastern China and southeastern Russia in this image taken on October 8, 2011, by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. Widespread fires are marked in red.

The dry, windy weather of autumn created hazardous fire conditions in northeast China. On October 9, officials in Heilongjiang province raised the fire alert level to its second-highest level, said Xinhua news. Russian officials, meanwhile, reported monitoring four large wildfires in the Far Eastern Federal District, which includes the area shown here.

  1. References

  2. EMERCOM of Russia. (2011, October 10). Fire situation as of 06:00 10.10.2011. Accessed October 10, 2011.
  3. Xinhua. (2011, October 9). Hundreds evacuated for grassland fire in NE China. China Daily. Accessed October 10, 2011.

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Holli Riebeek.

Instrument: 
Aqua – MODIS

Hurricane Katia off the Northeastern US Coastline

Hurricane Katia off the Northeastern US Coastline : Image of the Day.

Hurricane Katia off the Northeastern US Coastline

acquired September 9, 2011 download large image (292 KB, JPEG)

Hurricane Katia had diminished to Category 1 strength on the Saffir-Simpson scale by the time this astronaut photograph was taken, but it still presented an impressive cloud circulation as its center passed the northeastern coast of the United States on September 9, 2011. The storm reached Category 4 strength earlier on September 5, making it the second major hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season. Katia remained over open waters of the Atlantic Ocean for all of its lifetime, unlike two preceding storms of the season— Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee—that both made landfall on the continental U.S.

The approximate center of Hurricane Katia is visible at image right, with its outer cloud bands extending across the center of the view. A small part of New York—including Long Island and the Hudson River—is visible through a gap in the cloud cover. The Hudson River has a chocolate brown coloration due to heavy loading with sediment, a consequence of flooding and erosion of the upstream watershed by precipitation from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. A plume of sediment is visible entering the Atlantic Ocean on the southern coastline of Long Island, directly to the south of New York City (partially obscured by clouds).

Crew members on the International Space Station can take images like this one by looking outwards at an angle through ISS windows—much like taking photographs of the ground from a commercial airliner window, albeit from an average altitude of 400 kilometers (250 miles).

Astronaut photograph ISS028-E-45516 was acquired on September 9, 2011, with a Nikon D2Xs digital camera using a 28 mm lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 28 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast. Lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by William L. Stefanov, Jacobs/ESCG at NASA-JSC.

Instrument: 
ISS – Digital Camera

Significant ozone hole remains over Antarctica

Significant ozone hole remains over Antarctica.

Ozone levels in the atmosphere above the South Pole dropped to a seasonal low of 102 Dobson Units Oct. 9, tied for the 10th lowest in the 26-year record. The ozone layer helps protect the planet's surface from harmful ultraviolet radiation. Every year, an ozone hole forms above the Antarctic for several weeks, because of environmental conditions and the presence of ozone-depleting chemicals. (Credit: NOAA)

ScienceDaily (Oct. 20, 2011) — The Antarctic ozone hole, which yawns wide every Southern Hemisphere spring, reached its annual peak on September 12, stretching 10.05 million square miles, the ninth largest on record. Above the South Pole, the ozone hole reached its deepest point of the season on October 9 when total ozone readings dropped to 102 Dobson units, tied for the 10th lowest in the 26-year record.

The ozone layer helps protect the planet’s surface from harmful ultraviolet radiation. NOAA and NASA use balloon-borne instruments, ground instruments, and satellites to monitor the annual South Pole ozone hole, global levels of ozone in the stratosphere, and the humanmade chemicals that contribute to ozone depletion.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

“The upper part of the atmosphere over the South Pole was colder than average this season and that cold air is one of the key ingredients for ozone destruction,” said James Butler, director of NOAA’s Global Monitoring Division in Boulder, Colo. Other key ingredients are ozone-depleting chemicals that remain in the atmosphere and ice crystals on which ozone-depleting chemical reactions take place.

“Even though it was relatively large, the size of this year’s ozone hole was within the range we’d expect given the levels of manmade, ozone-depleting chemicals that continue to persist,” said Paul Newman, chief atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Levels of most ozone-depleting chemicals are slowly declining due to international action, but many have long lifetimes, remaining in the atmosphere for decades. Scientists around the world are looking for evidence that the ozone layer is beginning to heal, but this year’s data from Antarctica do not hint at a turnaround.

In August and September (spring in Antarctica), the sun begins rising again after several months of darkness. Circumpolar winds keep cold air trapped above the continent, and sunlight-sparked reactions involving ice clouds and humanmade chemicals begin eating away at the ozone. Most years, the conditions for ozone depletion ease by early December, and the seasonal hole closes.

Levels of most ozone-depleting chemicals in the atmosphere have been gradually declining since an international treaty to protect the ozone layer, the 1987 Montreal Protocol, was signed. That international treaty caused the phase out of ozone-depleting chemicals, then used widely in refrigeration, as solvents and in aerosol spray cans.

Global atmospheric models predict that stratospheric ozone could recover by the middle of this century, but the ozone hole in the Antarctic will likely persist one to two decades beyond that, according to the latest analysis by the World Meteorological Organization, the 2010 Ozone Assessment, with co-authors from NOAA and NASA.

Researchers do not expect a smooth, steady recovery of Antarctic ozone, because of natural ups and downs in temperatures and other factors that affect depletion, noted NOAA ESRL scientist Bryan Johnson. Johnson helped co-author a recent NOAA paper that concluded it could take another decade to begin discerning changes in the rates of ozone depletion.

Johnson is part of the NOAA team tracks ozone depletion around the globe and at the South Pole with measurements made from the ground, in the atmosphere itself and by satellite. Johnson’s “ozonesonde” group has been using balloons to loft instruments 18 miles into the atmosphere for 26 years to collect detailed profiles of ozone levels from the surface up. The team also measures ozone with satellite and ground-based instruments.

This November marks the 50th anniversary of the start of total ozone column measurements by the NOAA Dobson spectrophotometer instrument at South Pole station. Ground-based ozone column measurements started nearly two decades before the yearly Antarctic ozone hole began forming, therefore helping researchers to recognize this unusual change of the ozone layer.

NASA measures ozone in the stratosphere with the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) aboard the Aura satellite. OMI continues a NASA legacy of monitoring the ozone layer from space that dates back to 1972 and the launch of the Nimbus-4 satellite.


Hurricane Hilary

Hurricane Hilary : Natural Hazards.

Hurricane Hilary

acquired September 24, 2011 download large image (5 MB, JPEG)
acquired September 24, 2011 download Google Earth file (KMZ)

Hilary was a Category 4 hurricane on September 24, 2011, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC). At 8:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) on that date, the NHC reported that the storm had maximum sustained winds of 140 miles (220 kilometers) per hour, and was located roughly 210 miles (335 kilometers) southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this natural-color image at 10:40 a.m. PDT on September 24. Although relatively compact, the storm has the distinct eye and spiral shape characteristic of strong storms. The storm lies west of Mexico and is headed farther out to sea.

At 8:00 a.m. PDT on September 25, the NHC reported that Hilary was now a Category 3 hurricane, but remained a dangerous storm, with maximum sustained winds of 125 miles (205 kilometers) per hour. Located about 395 miles (640 kilometers) south of the southern tip of Baja California, Hilary had the potential to create life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

  1. References

  2. National Hurricane Center. (2011, September 25). Hurricane Hilary Advisory Archive. Accessed September 25, 2011.

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

Instrument: 
Terra – MODIS

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Runtime : 117 min.
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