11 Jan, 2013 – Extreme weather strikes worldwide, bringing floods, fire and ice

Extreme weather strikes worldwide, bringing floods, fire and ice

Last year was the hottest on record in the United States, and 2013 has already shown itself to be another year of extreme weather worldwide.

Just in the past ten days, Australia has seen record temperatures sparking wildfires (that can be seen from space), Turkey has been blanketed in snow, and Israel and the Palestinian territories have waded through major flooding.

Extremely cold weather has also struck South Asia, prompting people to put coats on goats and huddle around fires.

Looks like climate change is planning to settle in for a long stay.

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11 Jan, 2013 – Incredible wall of sand whipped up by cyclone hits Western Australia

An enormous wall of dust has hit part of Australia as residents brace themselves for a tropical cyclone.

The stunning images of the wild dust storm were captured by tugboat works and aeroplane passengers near the town of Onslow in north-western Australia.

Local reports say the huge swathes of red sand and dust had been picked up by strong winds in the Indian Ocean before being dropped near the town.

The tsunami-like wave of sand could be seen travelling for miles and dwarfed ships out at sea.

Tugboat worker Brett Martin, who shot some of the pictures, said before the storm hit conditions were calm and glassy.

But when the dust arrived visibility was reduced to just 100 metres and the swell rose to two metres.

It is the latest incident in weeks of dramatic weather in the country that has been besieged by terrible bush fires after unprecedented high temperatures and strong winds ravaged much of the south east.

Extreme weather, including Hurricane Isaac, Superstorm Sandy, dominated 2012 in U.S., NOAA says

Extreme weather, including drought, wildfires, hurricanes and storms, dominated the nation’s climate in 2012, according to a statistical summary released Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Louisiana’s unusual weather features were included in the report, including Hurricane Isaac and its unexpectedly large storm surge, as well as the state’s flirtation with record heat.

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Australia Sizzles in Unprecendented Heat Wave

It is getting hot Down Under. And it’s only going to get worse before it’s over.

Australia and Tasmania, where it is currently summer, are in the midst of a horrendous heat wave. Yesterday (Jan. 7), the average temperature throughout the country broke a 40-year-old record, reaching 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40.3 degrees Celsius), according to the Guardian. One area in the country’s south hit 119 F (48.3 C) this weekend, AccuWeather reports.

The forecast for next Monday (Jan. 14), with temperatures above 125 degrees Fahrenheit (52 degrees Celsius) in the state of South Australia, is so unprecedented that the Australian Bureau of Metereology had to implement a new color to its temperature map, an incandescent purple.

“What makes this event quite exceptional is how widespread and intense it’s been,” Aaron Coutts-Smith, the weather bureau’s climate services manager, told the Guardian. “We have been breaking records across all states and territories in Australia over the course of the event so far.”

The high heat, combined with a lack of rain, has created some of the worst wildfire conditions the country has seen. Today (Jan. 8) there were 130 wildfires throughout New South Wales, the country’s most populous province, in southeast Australia, according to the Guardian.  About 40 fires also continued to burn out of control in Tasmania, just south of Australia, destroying some 77 square miles (200 square kilometers) and dozens of buildings, the Guardian reports.

An image taken yesterday by NASA’s Terra satellite shows the smoke rising from numerous blazes occurring throughout Tasmania, as well as the red outlines where the satellite detected the high heat of the flames. More than 100 homes were destroyed and 100 people are missing, many in southeast Tasmania, according to the NASA Earth Observatory.

The New South Wales fire service issued “catastrophic” fire warnings in four areas of the province, the highest level on the scale.

“The word catastrophic is being used for good reason,” said Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard today on television, according to the AP.  “So it is very important that people keep themselves safe, that they listen to local authorities and local warnings. This is a very dangerous day.”

While it’s difficult to blame any single weather event on climate change and global warming, climatologists generally agree that heat waves in Australia will become more frequent and intense with the warming trend. The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that there is a 90 percent chance that heat waves will become more frequent and longer-lasting as a result of climate change, the Guardian noted.

“Whilst you would not put any one event down to climate change, weather doesn’t work like that,” the AP quoted Gillard as saying. “We do know over time that as a result of climate change we are going to see more extreme weather events and conditions,” the prime minister said.

Reach Douglas Main at dmain@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @Douglas_Main. Follow OurAmazingPlanet on Twitter @OAPlanet. We’re also on Facebook and Google+.

Yes, it was hot, hot, hot: 2012 weather sets U.S. record

Yes, it was hot, hot, hot: 2012 weather sets U.S. record

Last year was the hottest on record for the contiguous 48 states and the second-worst in terms of extreme weather events like tornadoes, wildfires and drought,  part of a trend that scientists see strengthening with climate change, according to researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In its annual report, “State of the Climate,”  NOAA reported that the average annual temperature was 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit, 3.3 degrees greater than the average temperature for the 20th century. It was also a full degree higher than the previous record high average temperature set in 1998, the biggest jump from one record temperature to another.

The report also confirmed what Americans have lived through for the last year: extreme weather events that are becoming more common. The only year there were more extreme weather events was 1998, when a greater number of tropical cyclones made landfall.  In 2012, the Upper Midwest was hit with floods, the mid-Atlantic with a sudden summertime storm called a derecho, the West with wildfire and the Northeast with Hurricane Sandy, among many other events. Most of the country remains in the grip of drought.

For years, climatologists have been reluctant to draw a line from climate change to specific weather events, and NOAA researchers on a conference call about the report were somewhat cautious about making links. But a growing body of research has started to indicate that climate change creates conditions for the kinds of temperatures and events the United States experienced last year, and scientist don’t expect such patterns to change considerably.

“We expect to see a continued trend of big heat events, we expect to see big rain events and with slightly less confidence, we expect to see continued trend in drought,” said Deke Arndt, chief of the climate monitoring branch, NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. “This is consistent with what we would expect in a warming world.”

Source:

Prepare for the worst bushfires in history’: Australia forecasters

Prepare for the worst bushfires in history’: Australia forecasters forced to extend charts as temperatures soar to a catastrophic 54°C

  • Country’s forecasting chart’s temperature range extended to 54°C
  • ‘Catastrophic’ conditions as 100 people remain missing in Tasmania
  • More than 130 fires blazing across New South Wales
  • 120 holidaymakers and staff evacuated from central Australian resort
  • First six days of 2013 among the top 20 hottest days on record

Tasmania wildfires leave hundreds homeless – 5th Jan, 2013

Tasmania wildfires leave hundreds homeless

Wildfires on the Australian island of Tasmania have destroyed at least 100 homes, leaving hundreds of people homeless or stranded amid scorching temperatures and high winds.

The small town of Dunalley, east of the Tasmanian capital of Hobart, was worst hit by a blaze that destroyed around 80 buildings, including the school, police station and bakery.

The Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, said the federal government was working with local and state authorities to support those affected by the fires. “For those who have lost their homes, a devastating experience, … we will be working with them, as will the state government to support people through,” she said.

“There are media reports that a life has been lost – I’m not in a position to confirm that, but bushfires are very dangerous things.”

The temperature in Hobart reached a record high of nearly 42 degrees Celsius on Friday. Conditions eased across much of the region on Saturday, but 40 fires remained and officials warned the danger from some remained high.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/05/tasmania-wildfires-hundreds-homeless

Strong earthquake jolts Alaska, sparks tsunami warning – 5th Jan, 2013

A tsunami warning is in effect for parts of southern Alaska and coastal Canada after a strong earthquake shook the region at midnight Friday.

The warning area includes coastal areas from about 75 miles southeast of Cordova, Alaska, to the north tip of Vancouver Island, Canada, the Alaska Tsunami Warning Center said. The warning area extends for about 475 miles.

A small tsunami was observed at Port Alexander, Alaska, according to the National Weather Service.

The magnitude 7.5 quake struck at midnight Friday (1 a.m. PST Saturday) and was centered about 60 miles west of Craig, Alaska, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Polar ice sheets ‘are melting three times faster than they were just two decades ago’

 

Polar ice sheets are now melting three times faster than they did in the 1990s, a ‘definitive’ study of satellite data has found.

The amount of ice lost from Greenland and Antarctica is enough to raise world sea levels by almost one millimetre a year.

Since 1992, it has added more than 1cm to global sea levels – contributing around a fifth of the total rise.

About two thirds of the ice loss was from Greenland and the remainder from Antarctica, said scientists.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2240917/Polar-ice-sheets-melting-times-faster-just-decades-ago.html#ixzz2DoStRbBO
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