Atmospheric river storms create $1 billion-a-year flood damage

Science Daily  December 4, 2019 Researchers found that flooding has caused nearly $51 billion in damages to western states in the last 40 years. More than 84 percent of these damages were caused by atmospheric rivers (ARs), long narrow corridors of water vapor in the atmosphere, capable of carrying more than twice the volume of the Amazon river through the sky. A team of researchers in the US (UC San Diego, US Army) used 40 years of data from the National Flood Insurance Program to show that ARs are the primary drivers of flood damages in the western United States. […]

Nine climate tipping points now ‘active,’ warn scientists

Science Daily  November 27, 2019 According to an international team of researchers (UK, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia) the evidence from tipping points alone suggests that we are in a state of planetary emergency: both the risk and urgency of the situation are acute. They summarize evidence on the threat of exceeding tipping points, such as the loss of the Amazon rainforest or the West Antarctic ice sheet, identify knowledge gaps and suggest how these should be plugged. They explore the effects of such large-scale changes, how quickly they might unfold and whether we still have any control over them. According […]

How Dust Could Have Brought About The Collapse of a Once Mighty Empire

Science Alert  October 28, 2019 New research by an international team of researchers (Japan, Germany) suggests that the Akkadian Empire, based around the city of Akkad in ancient Mesopotamia, may have been brought low by a more unusual cause: dust storms. Fossil samples are windows in time showing that variations in climate significantly contributed to the empire’s decline. Meteorological conditions together, and a harsh environment for growing crops appears, one that most likely lead to civil unrest and societal collapse. All of which means a greater insight not just into the past, but into the changing climate conditions today. Just […]

Machine learning helps predict if storms will cause power outages

Science Daily  August 2, 2019 Researchers in Finland collected data about the amount of power disruptions to their network from companies who have power grids through storm-prone central Finland. They sorted the storms into 4 classes, class 0 did not knock out electricity, class 1 storm cut-off up to 10% of transformers, class 2 up to 50%, and class 3 storm cut power to over 50% of the transformers. By grouping 16 different features of each storm, they were able to train the computer to recognize when storms will be damaging. The algorithm was very good at predicting which storms […]

What Is ‘Hot Lightning’? Satellites Reveal Which Strikes Are Most Likely to Start Wildfires

IEEE Spectrum  August 2, 2019 The U.S. National Lightning Detection Network keeps a record of virtually all lightning that strikes the ground anywhere in the United States. That network is maintained by Helsinki-based Vaisala. The company researchers plan to combine all the data available to them to pinpoint exactly which flashes pose the greatest threat. Lightning that harbors a continuing current is more likely to start fires and damage homes or equipment. A continuing current is not as powerful as the flash itself. While a flash might have a peak current of 20,000 amps (averaged from the multiple composite strokes that […]

Ammonia from agriculture influences cloud formation over Asia

Science Daily  July 11, 2019 An international team of researchers (Germany, France, Italy) has shown that the presence of ammonium nitrate particles in the upper troposphere from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Western Pacific is fed by convection that transports large amounts of ammonia from surface sources into the upper troposphere. Solid ammonium nitrate particles in the upper troposphere play a hitherto neglected role in ice cloud formation and aerosol indirect radiative forcing…read more. Open Access TECHNICAL ARTICLE 

Computer scientists predict lightning and thunder with the help of artificial intelligence

Science Daily  June 26, 2019 Current satellite-based approaches to predict thunderstorms are usually based on the analysis of the observed brightness temperatures in different spectral channels and emit a warning if a critical threshold is reached. Researchers in Germany have developed a method using the error of two-dimensional optical flow algorithms applied to images of meteorological satellites as a feature for machine learning models. They trained different tree classifier models as well as a neural network to predict lightning. The results show a high accuracy of 96% for predictions over the next 15 minutes which slightly decreases with increasing forecast […]

Distant processes influence marine heatwaves around the world

Science Daily  June 17, 2019 An international team of researchers (Australia, USA – University of Washington, Canada, Spain, UK) considered marine heatwaves and their drivers in 22 regions across four ocean and climate zones, based on published papers since 1950. They found that marine heatwaves may be influenced by several factors in combination, where processes may be both local and remote to the events, other climate phenomena such as El Niño — Southern Oscillation or the North Atlantic Oscillation, with their centre-of-action in one ocean basin can increase the odds of marine heatwaves in other regions thousands of kilometres away. […]

Here are 10 ways AI could help fight climate change

MIT Technology Review  June 20, 2019 A team of researchers in the US led by the University of Pennsylvania has developed a road map suggesting how machine learning can help save our planet and humanity from imminent peril. 10 of the “high leverage” recommendations from the report are: Improve predictions of how much electricity we need, Discover new materials, Optimize how freight is routed, Lower barriers to electric-vehicle adoption, Help make buildings more efficient, Create better estimates of how much energy we are consuming, Optimize supply chains, Make precision agriculture possible at scale, Improve deforestation tracking, Nudge consumers to change […]

‘Impossible’ research produces 400-year El Niño record, revealing startling changes

Science Daily  May 6, 2019 Researchers in Australia have identified spatial and temporal patterns in observed sea surface temperatures that distinguish the evolution of Eastern and Central Pacific El Niño events in the tropical Pacific for the past four centuries, using patterns recorded by a network of 27 seasonally resolved coral records. They found a simultaneous increase in Central Pacific events and a decrease in Eastern Pacific events since the late twentieth century. Compared to the past four centuries, the most recent 30-year period includes fewer, but more intense, Eastern Pacific El Niño events. Having a better understanding of how […]