September 2017: Earth's 4th Warmest September on Record
By Dr. Jeff Masters
September 2017 was the planet's fourth warmest September since record keeping began in 1880, said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and NASA this week. The only warmer Septembers came during 2015, 2016 and 2014. Minor differences can occur between the NASA and NOAA rankings because of their different techniques for analyzing data-sparse regions such as the Arctic.
Global ocean temperatures last month were the fourth warmest on record for any September, according to NOAA, and global land temperatures were the third warmest on record. Global satellite-measured temperatures for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were the warmest for any September in the 39-year record, according to the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) and Remote Sensing Systems (RSS).
(Above) Departure of temperature from average for September 2017, the fourth warmest September for the globe since record keeping began in 1880. Record warmth was observed across parts of central and southern Africa, southern Asia and scattered across the western, northern, and southern Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean (off the southeastern coast of South America), the Norwegian Sea, Greenland Sea and Barents Sea, and across parts of the Indian Ocean. No land or ocean areas experienced record cold September temperatures. Photo credit: National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).
(Above) Departures from the 20th-century global average temperature for September, 1880-2017. The four warmest Septembers on record have all occurred in the last four years. Photo credit: NOAA / NCEI
Second-Warmest Year on Record Thus Far
Each of the first eight months of 2017 have ranked among the top four warmest such months on record, giving 2017 the second highest January–September temperature in the 138-year record: 0.78°C (1.57°F) above the 20th-century average. This is behind the record year of 2016 by 0.13°C (0.24°F). This near-record warmth in 2017 is especially remarkable given the lack of an El Niño event this year. Global temperatures tend to be warmer during El Niño years, when the ocean releases more heat to the atmosphere. Given the lack of an El Niño event in 2017, it is unlikely that we will surpass 2016 as the warmest year on record. However, 2017 is almost certain to be the planet's warmest year on record that lacks any influence from El Niño, and Earth's four warmest years of the last century-plus are likely to be 2016, 2017, 2015 and 2014.
Two Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters in September 2017
Two Category 5 Atlantic hurricanes caused billion-dollar weather disasters last month, according to the September 2017 Catastrophe Report from insurance broker Aon Benfield: Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. Through the end of September, Earth had 21 billion-dollar weather events for the year, which is a typical number for this point in the year. The year that ended with the most billion-dollar weather disasters in records going back to 1990 was 2013, with 41; that year had 33 billion-dollar disasters by the end of September. Last year, there were 28 billion-dollar weather disasters by the end of September; that year ended up with 31 such disasters. Here are this year's billion-dollar weather disasters through the end of September:
- Hurricane Harvey, U.S., 8/25 – 9/2, >$20 billion, 60 killed
- Hurricane Irma, Caribbean, Bahamas, SE U.S., 9/5 – 9/12, >$30 billion, 124 killed
- Hurricane Maria, Caribbean, 9/18 – 9/21, >$20 billion, 78 killed
- Flooding, China, 6/22 – 7/5, $7.5 billion, 141 killed
- Flooding, China, 7/13 – 7/17, $4.5 billion, 20 killed
- Typhoon Hato, Macau, Hong Kong, China, 8/23 – 8/24, $3.5 billion, 22 killed
- Flooding, Peru, 1/1 – 4/1, $3.1 billion, 120 killed
- Severe Weather, Rockies, Plains, U.S., 5/8 – 5/11, $2.6 billion, 0 killed
- Drought, China, 5/1 – 8/31, $2.5 billion, 0 killed
- Tropical Cyclone Debbie, Australia, 3/27 – 4/5, $2.4 billion, 14 killed
- Drought, Italy, 1/1 – 7/31, $2.3 billion, 0 killed
- Severe Weather, Plains, Southeast, Midwest U.S., 3/26 – 3/28, $2.3 billion, 0 killed
- Severe Weather, Midwest, Plains, Southeast U.S., 3/6 – 3/10, $2.1 billion, 0 killed
- Severe Weather, Midwest, Plains, Southeast MS Valley U.S., 4/28 – 5/01, $2.0 billion, 20 killed
- Drought, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, 1/1 – 3/31, $1.9 billion, hundreds killed
- Severe Weather, South U.S., 2/27 - 3/2, $1.9 billion, 4 killed
- Severe Weather, Midwest U.S., 6/11, $1.8 billion, 0 killed
- Severe Weather, South U.S., 1/18 - 1/23, $1.3 billion, 21 killed
- Tropical Storm Nanmadol, Japan, 7/4 – 7/6, $1.0 billion, 37 killed
- Severe Weather, Plains, Midwest, Northeast U.S., 6/27 – 6/30, $1.0 billion, 0 killed
- Winter Weather, Plains, Midwest, Southeast, Northeast U.S., 3/13 – 3/15, $1.0 billion, 11 killed
55 – 65 Percent Chance of La Niña by Winter
In its October 12 monthly advisory, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) stated that neither El Niño nor La Niña conditions were present in the Eastern Pacific (ENSO-neutral conditions existed). Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region (in the equatorial Pacific) were about 0.5°C below average over the past week; SSTs of 0.5°C or more below average in this region are required to be classified as weak La Niña conditions, with the 3-month average SSTs holding at these levels for five consecutive months (with an accompanying La Niña-like atmospheric response). Enhanced east-to-west blowing trade winds are predicted for the west-central Pacific over the next two weeks and these stronger-than-average trade winds will help the progression towards La Niña. NOAA forecasters gave a 55 - 65 percent chance of a La Niña event by winter, similar to the 55 – 60 percent odds given in their previous month's forecast.
(Above) Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region (in the equatorial Pacific) were oscillating around 0.5°C below average for the first half of October, near the 0.5°C below average threshold for weak La Niña conditions. Photo credit: Levi Cowan, tropicaltidbits.com.
Arctic Sea Ice Extent the Seventh Lowest on Record for September
Arctic sea ice extent during September 2017 was the seventh lowest in the 38-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). The Arctic was dominated by low pressure and clouds in the summer of 2017. The cyclonic (counterclockwise) winds associated with the stormy pattern also tend to spread out the sea ice. Together, this two influences brought slower ice loss than in the record-low extent years of 2012 and 2007. The Arctic reached its lowest extent for the year on Sept. 13, which was the eighth lowest extent on record. The five lowest Arctic sea ice extents were measured in September 2012, 2007, 2016, 2011 and 2015.
Antarctic Sea Ice Extent the Second Lowest on Record for September
Sea ice surrounding Antarctica had the second lowest extent on record in September 2017 and has been at record- to near-record lows since September 2016. A recent study by John Turner and colleagues links the recent Antarctic sea ice decline to a series of strong storms accompanied by long periods of warm winds from the north. These changing weather conditions are associated with large shifts in the Southern Annual Mode (SAM) index.
Notable Global Heat and Cold Marks Set for September 2017
- Hottest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: 50.3°C (122.5°F) at Mitribah, Kuwait, Sept. 3
- Coldest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: -37.0°C (-27.2°F) at Summit, Greenland, Sept. 3
- Hottest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: 42.8°C (109.0°F) at Birdsville, Australia, Sept. 27
- Coldest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: -78.3°C (-108.9°F) at Concordia, Antarctica, Sept. 2
(Courtesy of Maximiliano Herrera.)
Major Weather Stations That Set (Not Tied) New All-Time Heat or Cold Records in September 2017
So far in 2017, 168 major weather stations have set records for the all-time highest temperature ever measured and 17 have set records for the all-time lowest temperature ever measured. Here are the records for September 2017:
- San Francisco (California) max. 41.1°C, Sep. 1
- Salinas (California) max. 42.8°C, Sept. 2
- Palo Alto (California) max. 42.2°C, Sept. 2
- San Luis Obispo (California) max. 46.1°C, Sept. 2
- King City (California) max. 46.1°C, Sept. 2
- Santa Cruz (California) max. 43.3°C, Sept. 2
- Conceicao do Araguaia (Brazil) max. 41.5°C, Sept. 19
(Courtesy of Maximiliano Herrera.)
No All-Time National Heat Records Set or Tied in September 2017
No all-time national heat records were set or tied in September 2017. As of October 17, thirteen nations have set or tied all-time national heat records in 2017 and two have set or tied all-time cold records. National all-time monthly temperature records so far in 2017 have numbered 44 for maximum temperature and two for minimum temperature. Most nations do not maintain official databases of extreme temperature records, so the national temperature records reported here are in many cases not official. I use as my source for international weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera, one of the world's top climatologists, who maintains a comprehensive list of extreme temperature records for every nation in the world on his website. If you reproduce this list of extremes, please cite Maximiliano Herrera as the primary source of the weather records.
All-Time National Heat Records Set or Tied in 2017:
- Macau: 102.2°F (39.0°C) at Ka Ho, Coloane Island, Aug. 22 (tie)
- Hong Kong: 102.2°F (39.0°C) at Wetland Park, Aug. 22
- San Marino: 104.5°F (40.3°C), at Serravalle, Aug. 3 and 9
- Vatican City: 105.3°F (40.7°C) at Roma Macao AWS, Aug. 2 (tie)
- United Arab Emirates: 125.2°F (51.8°C), at Mezaira, July 30
- Spain: 117.1°F (47.3°C), at Montoro AEMET, July 13
- Iran: 128.7°F (53.7°C), at Ahwaz, June 29
- Oman: 123.4°F (50.8°C), at Qurayyat on May 30 and at Joba on May 31 (tie)
- Pakistan: 128.3°F (53.5°C), at Turbat on May 28 (tie)
- Guinea: 113°F (45.0°C), at Koundara, March 29 (tie)
- Ghana: 110.8°F (43.8°C), at Navrongo, March 26
- Chile: 113°F (45.0°C), at Cauquenes, Jan. 26
- Cocos Islands (Australia): 91.0°F (32.8°C), at Cocos Island Airport, Feb. 23 (tie with April 8, 2015 and April 11, 1998)
All-Time National Cold Records Set in 2017:
- United Arab Emirates: 22.3°F (-5.4°C) at Jabel Jais, Feb. 3
- Qatar: 34.7°F (1.5°C) at Abu Samra, Feb. 5
National Monthly Maximum Temperature Records Tied or Beaten in 2017 (44):
- Jan: Comoros, Uganda, Singapore, Mexico
- Feb: Iceland
- Mar: Kenya, Indonesia, Spain, Chile, Cook Islands
- Apr: Ghana, Wallis and Futuna, Honduras, Samoa, Uganda, Pakistan, Cabo Verde, UAE
- May: Greece, Iran, Norway, Austria
- June: Mexico, Oman, Iraq, Turkey, Albania, Portugal, UAE
- July: Cyprus, Comoros, Mayotte, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Niger
- August: Iran, UAE, Trinidad and Tobago, U.S., French Guiana
- September: Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iceland
- October: Portugal
National Monthly Minimum Temperature Records Set in 2017 (2):
- Jan: St. Eustatius
- July: Greenland
Other Records Set in 2017:
- World record of highest minimum temperature for March: 35.6°C at Yelimane, Mali, March 31
- Asian record of highest temperature ever recorded in April: 50.0°C at Larkana, Pakistan, April 19
- World record of highest temperature ever recorded in May (tied): 53.5°C at Turbat, Pakistan, May 28
- Asian record of highest temperature ever recorded in June: 53.7°C at Ahwaz, Iran, June 29
- Northern Hemisphere record of lowest temperature ever recorded in July: -33.0°C at Summit, Greenland, July 4
Reposted with permission from our media associate Weather Underground.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Zahida Sherman
Cooking has always intimidated me. As a child, I would anxiously peer into the kitchen as my mother prepared Christmas dinner for our family.
Falling in Love With Food All Over Again<p>Slowly, through my most intimate relationships with friends and partners, I began to see the beauty — and rewards — of cooking.</p><p>I got tired of giving in to defeat and always bringing chips or paper products to social gatherings. I started asking my mom to send me her Christmas and Thanksgiving recipes. I even volunteered to host Thanksgiving dinner at my place.</p><p>Each time I heard my loved ones sing the praises of the foods I prepared for them, I felt a tinge more confident that I could carry out our traditions my way.</p><p>In reaching out to other relatives for their favorite recipes, I learned that they had a little help of their own. They didn't rely solely on their ancestral cooking instincts. They turned to Black chefs for guidance.</p><p>These 7 cookbooks by Black chefs have inspired my family and fed us in nutrients, joy, and spiritual sustenance. They're also helping me overcome my personal fears of cooking.</p>
Get CookingWhether you're in recovery from cooking fears like me, or are just looking to expand your culinary confidence with dishes honoring Black heritage, these Black chefs are here to support you on your journey.Turn on some music, give yourself permission to make mistakes, and throw down for yourself or your loved ones. Glorious flavors await you.
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By Tara Lohan
The conclusion to decades of work to remove a dam on the Middle Fork Nooksack River east of Bellingham, Washington began with a bang yesterday as crews breached the dam with a carefully planned detonation. This explosive denouement is also a beginning.
The History<p>The Middle Fork Nooksack drains glacier-fed headwater streams that run off the icy summit of 10,778-foot Mt. Baker. The Middle Fork joins the North Fork and then the mainstem of the Nooksack River, which travels to Bellingham Bay and Puget Sound. The entire Nooksack watershed stretches 830 square miles across Washington and into British Columbia.</p>
A Plan Comes Together<p>The Middle Fork dam is not a pool dam built for water storage. Much of the time, water flows over the top until dam operators drop a floodgate to divert water to new locations. That water travels about 14 miles through tunnel and pipeline to Mirror Lake, then Anderson Creek, and to Lake Whatcom before finally being delivered to residents' taps.</p><p>Before removing the dam, engineers had to move the water intake 700 feet upstream and situate it at an elevation that still enabled city water withdrawals throughout the year, regardless of flow conditions.</p><p>They also needed to make sure that the rushing water didn't sweep up fish and accidentally send them through the water-supply system.</p><p>"The solution required a fairly complex design in the intake structure, including a fish exit pipe out of that structure to put fish back into the river in a way that meets current environmental permit standards," explains LaCroix.</p>
Project layout for the removal of the Middle Fork Nooksack diversion dam and rebuilding of water intake. City of Bellingham<p>Despite the cost and the work, she says, being able to continue to meet their municipal water obligations while opening up habitat for threatened species has been a win-win.</p><p>"I think there's a lot of benefits to having a dam removal versus fish passage — the main one being that you get a free-flowing river that can be a dynamic ecosystem and change over time," she says. "A static fish ladder just can't provide that same level of ecosystem benefit."</p>
Restoration Success<p>Despite local authorities' championing dam removal on the Middle Fork, the project has largely flown under the radar, overshadowed in the Pacific Northwest by heated discussions about a much larger potential project — removing <a href="https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/feds-reject-removal-of-4-snake-river-dams-in-key-report/" target="_blank">four federal hydroelectric dams on the lower Snake River</a>, a major tributary of the Columbia River.</p><p>Proponents of dam removal there see it as the best chance for recovering threatened salmon populations, including Chinook, which could help starving Southern Resident killer whales. Those dams also provide irrigation water, barge navigation and hydropower, so there's been more pushback against removal efforts.</p><p>Previous dam removals around the country, however, have proved successful at aiding fish recovery and river restoration.</p><p>Most notably the 1999 demolition of <a href="https://therevelator.org/edwards-dam-removal/" target="_blank">Edwards Dam on Maine's Kennebec River</a> restored the annual run of alewives, a type of herring essential to the food web. The fish run has gone from zero to 5 million in the two decades since dam removal. Blueback herring, striped bass, sturgeon and shad have also extended their reach. And the resurgence has brought back osprey, bald eagles and other wildlife, too.</p><p>The overwhelming success of river restoration on the Kennebec helped to spur a nationwide dam removal movement that's now seen 1,200 dams come down since 1999. Last year a record <a href="https://www.americanrivers.org/conservation-resource/a-record-26-states-removed-dams-in-2019/" target="_blank">90 dams</a> were removed in 26 states, including <a href="https://therevelator.org/cleveland-forest-dam-removal/" target="_blank">20 dams in California's Cleveland National Forest</a>.</p>
Spider excavators remove on dam on San Juan Creek in California's Cleveland National Forest. Julie Donnell, USFS<p>The results have been seen in the Pacific Northwest, as well, which boasts the largest dam removal thus far in the country. In 2011 and 2014, the demolition of <a href="https://therevelator.org/elwha-dam-removal/" target="_blank">two dams</a> on Elwha River, which runs through Washington's Olympic National Park, opened up 70 miles of habitat that had been blocked for a century. Scientists have started seeing all five species of salmon native to the river coming back, particularly Chinook and coho. Bull trout, they've observed, have increased in size since the dams were removal.</p>
Benefits on the Middle Fork Nooksack<p>McEwan hopes to see a similar outcome on the Middle Fork.</p><p>Like the Elwha the Middle Fork Nooksack is a relatively pristine river with little development, and dam removal is expected to provide a big boost to fish. The additional miles of spawning habitat are important, but so is the temperature of that water.</p><p>The dam removal will open access to cold upstream waters, which are ideal for salmon and getting harder to come by as climate change warms waters and reduces mountain runoff.</p><p>"This is really great for the climate change resiliency for these species," says McEwan.</p><p>Steelhead will get back 45% of their historic habitat in the river, and scientists expect Chinook populations to increase in abundance by 31%.</p><p>That <em>could</em> help Southern Resident killer whales.</p><p>"When you get to the ocean, it's a little bit of a black box in terms of what you can model and say definitively is going to help, but more fish is better for orcas," McEwan says.</p><p>Upstream habitat will see benefits, too.</p><p>Oceangoing fish like salmon enrich their bodies with carbon and nitrogen while at sea. When they return to their natal rivers to spawn and die, the marine-derived nutrients they carry back upriver become important food and fertilizer for both riverine and terrestrial ecosystems — aiding everything from trees to birds to bears.</p><p>"Once the fish start making their way back, it will start changing the whole ecological system," says Delgado.</p><p><span></span>But any ecological benefit from salmon restoration, either in the ocean or the upper watershed, won't be immediate.<br></p><p>"The population of salmon on the Middle Fork is so low that we expect it's going to take quite a while to rebound," she says. "But the big picture is that what's good for salmon is good for the region — our history and our destiny are intricately intertwined."</p><p>After decades of work, that process of restoration has finally begun.</p>
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By Katie Howell
A new tool called The Food Systems Dashboard aims to save decision makers time and energy by painting a complete picture of a country's food system. Created by the Johns Hopkins' Alliance for a Healthier World, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Dashboard compiles food systems data from over 35 sources and offers it as a public good.
By Manuela Callari
It can grow to a maximum of six inches (16 centimeters), change color depending on mood and habitat, and, like all seahorses, the White's seahorse male gestates its young. But this tiny snouted fish is under threat.
Building an Ocean Seahorse Destination<p>Seahorses are found in tropical and temperate coastal water worldwide, but are most abundant around Australia, China and the Philippines. </p><p>Trade in the tiny creatures is strictly regulated because of their use in traditional medicine, aquariums and their sale as dried curios. But because they are poor swimmers and cannot easily move elsewhere, habitat loss is a particular threat for these curious animals. </p><p>Seahorses wrap their tails around seagrass and corals to avoid being carried away on currents. They use the habitat to spawn and hide from predators such as crabs, while also feeding on riches of plankton and small crustaceans living in the reef.</p><p><span></span>Where corals aren't available, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/aqc.1217" target="_blank">scientists</a> found seahorses taking up residence in fishing nets and old crab traps abandoned at the bottom of the ocean. </p>
Mixing With the Locals<p>Baby seahorse mortality is high in the wild because they are easily caught, so those bred in the protected environment of the aquarium weren't ready to be released into the wild until early May.</p><p>The team released 90 new arrivals into Sydney Harbor, placing some directly into the purpose-built hotels, and others onto a net that wild seahorses had already settled on.</p><p>Before setting them free, the researchers marked each young seahorse with a fluorescent tag with unique IDs inserted just beneath the skin to track how they get on in the different environments. </p><p>"The most exciting part was being able to put these animals into the wild and then go back a month later and still see them surviving and growing," said McCracken. </p><p>The seahorses will be old enough to mate and reproduce around October or November 2020. And researchers hope that by then, they will be able to breed with the wild population. </p>
Building a Global Seahorse Hotel Chain<p>With seahorses everywhere facing the loss of their coral reef homes, similar projects have sprung up in places like Greece and South Africa, home to the world's most endangered seahorse, the Knysna seahorse. </p><p>"The endangered South African seahorse is benefiting from something quite similar, even though it wasn't intentional," said Peter Teske, professor at the Department of Zoology, University of Johannesburg.</p><p>In the South African <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322649251_An_endangered_seahorse_selectively_chooses_an_artificial_structure" target="_blank">case</a>, seahorses have bedded down in "Reno mattresses" — wire cages filled with rocks — that were used to build a new marina. Researchers from NGO Knysna Basin Project found the structures acted as a refuge for the animals.<span></span></p><p><span></span>While Teske describes the seahorse hotels as "a positive news story" and a great way to create public awareness of conservation, he added that establishing artificial habitats in some areas will only prevent the extinction of local populations.</p><p>"For a complete recovery, it is necessary to give the natural habitat a chance to regenerate," said the seahorse expert. </p>
Underwater Mascot<p>In Australia, the researchers hope the project could provide an opportunity to raise awareness not only of the plight of the Sydney seahorses but the other animals with which it shares its ocean habitat.</p><p>The waters around Sydney and the east coast are rich in biodiversity and include several threatened species like the weedy seadragon — a relative of the seahorse — and the grey nurse shark. Like the seahorse, they're also under pressure from pollution, ocean traffic and habitat loss through storms and coastal construction. </p><p>"It's a good thing to get people's support and interest. The seahorses are a useful vehicle to get people concerned if the harbor is in trouble," said David Booth, professor of marine ecology at the University of Technology Sydney who is also working on the project. </p><p>The hotels have become an attraction for divers hoping to catch a glimpse of these small but near mythical creatures. </p><p>"Everyone loves seahorses," added Booth, "they are so popular." </p>
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