New Find Shows Yucatan Peninsula Asteroid Strike Warmed Planet for 100,000 Years

A small team of researchers from the U.S. and Tunisia has found evidence that suggests a huge asteroid that struck the Earth approximately 66 million years ago caused the planet to warm up for approximately 100,000 years. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes their study of oxygen ratios in ancient fish bones and what it revealed.

Prior research has shown that approximately 66 million years ago, a massive asteroid struck the Earth at a point near what is now Chicxulub, Mexico. Other studies have suggested the sudden change in climate that resulted is what caused the dinosaurs to go extinct. The belief has been that the smoke and particles thrust into the atmosphere blocked out the sun causing the planet to cool for a long period of time. In this new effort, the researchers suggest the cooling period likely was shorter than thought and that it was followed by a lengthy hot spell. The researchers came to this conclusion by studying the bones and teeth of ancient fish.

The fish remains were sifted from sediment samples collected at a site in El Kef, Tunisia. During the time before and long after the asteroid strike, the area was covered by the Tethys Sea. The researchers looked at oxygen ratios in the fish remains as a means of determining the temperature of the water at the time that the fish died. Collecting samples from different layers allowed for building a temperature timeline that began before the asteroid strike and lasting hundreds of thousands of years thereafter. In looking at their timeline the group found that sea temperatures had risen approximately 5°C not long after the asteroid struck and had stayed at that temperature for approximately 100,000 years.

The researchers suggest the strike by the asteroid very likely released a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere because the ground area where it struck was rich in carbonates. The strike very likely would have also ignited large long-burning forest fires which would have also released a lot of carbon into the air. The evidence suggests that the cooling after the impact was short-lived as massive amounts of carbon dioxide were released into the atmosphere setting off global warming.

The researchers note that a lot more work will need to be done to confirm their findings. Another site will have to be found with similar evidence, for example, to prove that the warming was not localized.

First Seismic Evidence For Mantle Exhumation At An Ultraslow-Spreading Center

A mountain range with a total length of 65,000 kilometers runs through all the oceans. It marks the boundaries of tectonic plates. Through the gap between the plates material from the Earth’s interior emerges, forming new seafloor, building up the submarine mountains and spreading the plates apart. Very often, these mid-ocean ridges are described as a huge, elongated volcano. But this image is only partly correct, because the material forming the new seafloor is not always magmatic. At some spreading centres material from the Earth’s mantle reaches the surface without being melted. The proportion of seabed formed this has been previously unknown.

Scientists from the Universities of Kiel (Germany), Austin (Texas, USA) and Durham (Great Britain) have now published data in the international journal Nature Geoscience that, for the first time, allow a detailed estimation on how much seafloor is formed by mantle material without magmatic processes. “This phenomenon occurs especially where the seabed spreads at paces of less than two centimeters per year,” explains Prof. Dr. Ingo Grevemeyer from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, lead author of the study.

One of these zones is located in the Cayman Trough south of the island of Grand Cayman in the Caribbean. In 2015, the researchers used the German research vessel METEOR to investigate the seafloor seismically, i.e. by using sound waves. Sound signals sent through different rocks or sediment layers, are being reflected and refracted in different ways by each layer. Rock, which has been melted and solidified on the seabed, has a different signature in the seismic signal than rock from the Earth’s mantle, which has not been melted.

But scientists had a problem so far: The contact with the seawater changes the mantle rocks. “After this process called serpentinisation mantle rocks are barely distinguishable from magmatic rocks in seismic data,” says Professor Grevemeyer. Until now, mantle rock on the seabed could only be detected by taking samples directly from the seafloor and analyzing them in the laboratory. “But that way you only get information about a tiny spot. A large-scale or even in-depth information on the composition of the seabed cannot be achieved,” says Grevemeyer.

However, during the expedition in 2015, the team not only used the energy of ordinary sound waves — it also detected so-called shear waves, which occur only in solid materials. They could be recorded very clearly thanks to a clever selection of measuring points.

From the ratio of the speed of both types of waves, the scientists were able to differentiate mantle material from magmatic material. “So we could prove for the first time with seismic methods that up to 25 percent of the young ocean floor is not magmatic at the ultra-slow spreading centre in the Cayman trough,” says Ingo Grevemeyer.

Since there are similar spreading centres in other regions, such as the Arctic or Indian Ocean, these results are of great importance for the general idea about the global composition of the seabed. “This is relevant, if we want to create global models on the interactions between seabed and seawater or on processes of plate tectonics,” summarizes Professor Grevemeyer.

New Theory Finds ‘Traffic Jams’ In Jet Stream Cause Abnormal Weather Patterns

The sky sometimes has its limits, according to new research from two University of Chicago atmospheric scientists.

A study published May 24 in Science offers an explanation for a mysterious and sometimes deadly weather pattern in which the jet stream, the global air currents that circle the Earth, stalls out over a region. Much like highways, the jet stream has a capacity, researchers said, and when it’s exceeded, blockages form that are remarkably similar to traffic jams — and climate forecasters can use the same math to model them both.

The deadly 2003 European heat wave, California’s 2014 drought and the swing of Superstorm Sandy in 2012 that surprised forecasters — all of these were caused by a weather phenomenon known as “blocking,” in which the jet stream meanders, stopping weather systems from moving eastward. Scientists have known about it for decades, almost as long as they’ve known about the jet stream — first discovered by pioneering University of Chicago meteorologist Carl-Gustaf Rossby, in fact — but no one had a good explanation for why it happens.

“Blocking is notoriously difficult to forecast, in large part because there was no compelling theory about when it forms and why,” said study coauthor Noboru Nakamura, a professor in the Department of the Geophysical Sciences.

Nakamura and then-graduate student Clare S.Y. Huang were studying the jet stream, trying to determine a clear set of measurements for blocking in order to better analyze the phenomenon. One of their new metrics was a term that measured the jet stream’s meander. Looking over the math, Nakamura realized that the equation was nearly identical to one devised decades ago by transportation engineers trying to describe traffic jams.

“It turns out the jet stream has a capacity for ‘weather traffic,’ just as highway has traffic capacity, and when it is exceeded, blocking manifests as congestion,” said Huang.

Much like car traffic, movement slows when multiple highways converge and the speed of the jet stream is reduced due to topography such as mountains or coasts.

The result is a simple theory that not only reproduces blocking, but predicts it, said Nakamura, who called making the cross-disciplinary connection “one of the most unexpected, but enlightening moments in my research career — truly a gift from God.”

The explanation may not immediately improve short-term weather forecasting, the researchers said, but it will certainly help predict long-term patterns, including which areas may see more drought or floods.

Their initial results suggest that while climate change probably increases blocking by running the jet stream closer to its capacity, there will be regional differences: for example, the Pacific Ocean may actually see a decrease in blocking over the decades.

“It’s very difficult to forecast anything until you understand why it’s happening, so this mechanistic model should be extremely helpful,” Nakamura said.

And the model, unlike most modern climate science, is computationally simple: “This equation captures the essence with a much less complicated system,” Huang said.

Pluto May Have Formed from 1 Billion Comets

At its heart, Pluto may be a gigantic comet.

Researchers have come up with a new theory about the dwarf planet’s origins after taking a close look at Sputnik Planitia, the vast nitrogen-ice glacier that constitutes the left lobe of Pluto’s famous “heart” feature.

“We found an intriguing consistency between the estimated amount of nitrogen inside the glacier and the amount that would be expected if Pluto was formed by the agglomeration of roughly a billion comets or other Kuiper Belt objects similar in chemical composition to 67P, the comet explored by Rosetta,” Chris Glein, a scientist at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, said in a statement. [Photos of Pluto and Its Moons]

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission orbited Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from 2014 through 2016. The orbiting mothership also dropped a lander named Philae onto the icy body, pulling off the first-ever soft touchdown on a comet’s surface. (The Kuiper Belt is the ring of frigid objects beyond Neptune’s orbit; Pluto is the belt’s largest resident.)

Glein and his SwRI colleague Hunter Waite devised the new Pluto-formation scenario after analyzing data from Rosetta and NASA’s New Horizons mission, which flew by Pluto in July 2015.

The scientists also made some inferences about the dwarf planet’s evolution in their new study, which was published online Wednesday (May 23) in the journal Icarus.

“Our research suggests that Pluto’s initial chemical makeup, inherited from cometary building blocks, was chemically modified by liquid water, perhaps even in a subsurface ocean,” Glein said.

Glein and Waite aren’t claiming to have nailed down Pluto’s origin definitively; a “solar model,” in which the dwarf planet coalesced from cold ices with a chemical composition closer to that of the sun, also remains in play, the duo said.

“This research builds upon the fantastic successes of the New Horizons and Rosetta missions to expand our understanding of the origin and evolution of Pluto,” Glein said.

“Using chemistry as a detective’s tool, we are able to trace certain features we see on Pluto today to formation processes from long ago,” he added. “This leads to a new appreciation of the richness of Pluto’s ‘life story,’ which we are only starting to grasp.”

Rosetta’s mission ended in September 2016, when the probe’s handlers steered it to an intentional crash-landing on 67P’s surface. New Horizons’ work, however, is far from done. The NASA spacecraft is speeding toward a flyby of a small Kuiper Belt object known officially as 2014 MU69 (and unofficially as Ultima Thule). This close encounter, which will occur on Jan. 1, 2019, about 1 billion miles (1.6 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto’s orbit, is the centerpiece of New Horizons’ extended mission.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center Is Forecasting A 75-Percent Chance That The 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season Will Be Near- Or Above-Normal.

Forecasters predict a 35 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 25 percent chance of a below-normal season for the upcoming hurricane season, which extends from June 1 to November 30.

“With the advances made in hardware and computing over the course of the last year, the ability of NOAA scientists to both predict the path of storms and warn Americans who may find themselves in harm’s way is unprecedented,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The devastating hurricane season of 2017 demonstrated the necessity for prompt and accurate hurricane forecasts.”

NOAA’s forecasters predict a 70-percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 4 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes.

The possibility of a weak El Nino developing, along with near-average sea surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, are two of the factors driving this outlook. These factors are set upon a backdrop of atmospheric and oceanic conditions that are conducive to hurricane development and have been producing stronger Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1995.

“NOAA’s observational and modeling enhancements for the 2018 season put us on the path to deliver the world’s best regional and global weather models,” said Neil Jacobs, Ph.D., assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction. “These upgrades are key to improving hurricane track and intensity forecasts, allowing NOAA to deliver the best science and service to the nation.”

NOAA’s suite of sophisticated technologies – from next-generation models and satellite data to new and improved forecast and graphical products – enable decision makers and the general public to take action before, during, and after hurricanes, helping to build a more “Weather-Ready Nation.” New tools available this year to assist in hurricane forecasts and communications include:

NOAA’s fleet of earth-observing satellites is more robust than ever with the successful launch of the GOES-17 satellite in March. This satellite, along with the GOES-16 satellite – now GOES-East – contribute to a comprehensive picture of weather throughout the Western Hemisphere, allowing forecasters to observe storms as they develop.

The new polar-orbiting satellite, NOAA-20, will join the NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite and use a suite of sophisticated instruments to gather high-resolution data from around the globe to feed NOAA’s weather models, driving the 3-7 day weather forecast that is critical to preparedness and effective evacuations.

The National Weather Service will run a version of the Global Forecast System (called FV3 GFS) with a new dynamic core alongside the current GFS model – often referred to as the American model – during the 2018 season. This will mark the first dynamic core upgrade to NOAA’s flagship weather model in more than 35 years, representing the first step in re-engineering NOAA’s models to provide the best possible science-based predictions for the nation.

NOAA’s hurricane-specific model – the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecast system – will be upgraded to offer greater resolution than ever before, increasing model resolution from 1.2 miles to 0.9 miles (2 km to 1.5 km) near the center of a storm. Additionally, the Hurricanes in a Multi-scale Ocean coupled Non-hydrostatic model was first implemented in 2017 and will undergo upgrades for the 2018 season to include greater resolution, new physics and coupling with ocean models.

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center will make the Arrival Time of Tropical-Storm-Force Winds graphics operational for this hurricane season. One graphic displays the “earliest reasonable” arrival time of tropical-storm-force winds, at which point further preparedness activities could be hindered. A second graphic displays the “most-likely” arrival time of tropical-storm-force winds.

“Preparing ahead of a disaster is the responsibility of all levels of government, the private sector and the public,” said acting FEMA Deputy Administrator Daniel Kaniewski. “It only takes one storm to devastate a community so now is the time to prepare. Do you have adequate insurance, including flood insurance? Does your family have a communication and evacuation plan? Stay tuned to your local news and download the FEMA app to get alerts, and make sure you heed any warnings issued by local officials.”

In addition to the Atlantic hurricane season outlook, NOAA also issued seasonal hurricane outlooks for the eastern and central Pacific basins. An 80 percent chance of a near- or above-normal season is predicted for both the eastern and central Pacific regions. The eastern Pacific outlook calls for a 70-percent probability of 14 to 20 named storms, of which 7 to 12 are expected to become hurricanes, including 3 to 7 major hurricanes. The central Pacific outlook calls for a 70-percent probability of 3 to 6 tropical cyclones, which includes tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.

NOAA will update the 2018 Atlantic seasonal outlook in early August, just prior to the peak of the season.

Tropical Development, Future Alberto, Likely in the Gulf of Mexico; Flash Flood, Rip Current Threats Over Memorial Day Weekend

The first tropical or subtropical storm of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season is now likely in the Gulf of Mexico Memorial Day weekend, bringing the threat of heavy rain and flash flooding to a large swath of the Southeast and Florida, lasting into next week.

Currently, satellite imagery is showing an area of low pressure becoming better organized just off the east coast of Mexico’s eastern Yucatán Peninsula near Cozumel.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has dubbed this low-pressure system Invest 90L, which is a naming convention used by the NHC to identify features it is monitoring for potential future development into a tropical depression or storm.

Strong upper-level westerly winds are still blowing most of the thunderstorms to the east of the surface area of low pressure, hampering what would be more immediate development of the disturbance.

However, the U.S. Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters are scheduled to fly into the disturbance this afternoon, according to the NHC. If they can find a solid, persistent area of surface low pressure with thunderstorms in close enough proximity, it’s conceivable the NHC could initiate advisories on either a subtropical or tropical depression or storm as soon as Friday afternoon.

Regardless, the overall environment is expected to become more favorable for development and strengthening over the Gulf of Mexico this weekend. Some wind shear may remain over the system, but water temperatures are sufficiently warm, in fact warmer than late May average, over the northern Gulf of Mexico.

At this time, it appears likely we’ll eventually have at least the first named storm of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, Alberto, move north toward the northern Gulf Coast Sunday into Memorial Day.

Let’s break down the potential impacts below, as best as we can at this early stage.

Flooding the Main Concern, Regardless

Regardless of what this system is called by meteorologists, the main threat from this system will be heavy rain and flash flooding in the Southeast that could last well into next week.

Developing upper-level low pressure over the Gulf of Mexico and high pressure aloft east of the Bahamas will channel a plume of deep tropical moisture from the southwestern Caribbean Sea and Central America into the Southeast and Florida.

A building dome of high pressure over the Upper Midwest responsible for a holiday weekend heat wave will trap this Gulf system, allowing it move only very slowly near the Gulf Coast from late Sunday into Memorial Day.

Even after landfall, the system will move slowly, maintaining the tropical moisture fetch into the Southeast well into next week.

Flood watches are already in effect for parts of the Southeast, lasting from Saturday evening through Tuesday along parts of northern Gulf Coast.

Slow-moving tropical or subtropical storms are notorious heavy rain producers, and that will be the case here.

A broad area of at least 3 inches of rain is likely from Florida to the northern Gulf Coast to parts of the Carolinas through early next week.

Slow-moving rainbands or clusters of thunderstorms may produce heavier rainfall over a shorter time period – on the order of a few hours – in localized areas this weekend into next week, triggering flash flooding, particularly in urban areas, foothills and mountains, and in areas where the ground has been saturated by recent heavy rain over the past one to two weeks.

In most areas away from the Gulf Coast in Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas, 3-hour rainfall of 3 inches or less would trigger flash flooding, according to the National Weather Service.

This heavy rain will eventually trigger river flooding that will last well into next week, as the National Weather Service in Mobile noted.

As the system gains strength, onshore winds will produce increasingly higher surf along the northern and eastern Gulf Coast from southeast Louisiana to western Florida beginning as soon as Saturday.

This will bring a high threat of dangerous rip currents through at least Memorial Day. Stay out of the water this holiday weekend along the eastern and northern Gulf Coasts.

The other impacts depend on the exact track and intensity of the Gulf system.

Rain-soaked ground may make it easier for winds to topple over trees near where the center tracks Sunday and Monday. Some power outages can also be expected near the landfall location.

If the system remains a subtropical storm, it may have a more expansive wind field, and could bring stronger winds to a wider area.

Coastal flooding or some normally dry areas can also be expected from southeast Louisiana to Florida’s Gulf Coast particularly Sunday and Monday, peaking with high tides and near and to the east of the landfall location along the northern Gulf Coast.

This coastal flooding may eventually pose problems backing up rain-swollen rivers trying to drain to the Gulf, as well.

As with any landfalling system, there will also be a threat of tornadoes Sunday and Monday, possibly lingering into early Tuesday near the northern Gulf Coast from embedded cells within rainbands.

May Storm Origins

Tropical or subtropical storms can occasionally develop in the Atlantic Basin during May.

The Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and the southwestern Atlantic Ocean are the most likely areas for development in May. This is illustrated on the map below, which shows the origin points for tropical storms that have formed in May since 1851, including a few that became hurricanes.

What’s more unusual is to have a storm form in the Gulf of Mexico in May. That’s happened only three other times in NOAA’s historical database, last occurring in 1976.

Since 1950, 20 Atlantic Basin storms have developed before the start of June, according to NOAA’s historical hurricane database. That’s an average of roughly one storm developing before June 1 every three to four years.

Since 2012, preseason storm activity has been an outlier from the norm.

Four of the past six years have featured named storms before June 1 in the Atlantic, including 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Two of those years – 2012 and 2016 – featured the genesis of two named storms before June 1.

BREAKING NEWS: Kilauea Volcano Has Deeper Roots Than Most Understand

NOTE: I will be on Coast to Coast AM radio with George Noory for a news brief on Kilauea volcano. Radio Stations: Click Here

Kilauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. It is a shield-type volcano that makes up the southeastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii. The volcano rises 4,190 feet (1,227 meters) above sea level and is about 14 percent of the land area of the Big Island. The summit caldera contains a lava lake known as Halema’uma’u that is said to be the home of the Hawaiian volcano goddess, Pele.

Cecily Wolfe of the University of Hawaii, used sea bottom sensors to identify how seismic waves propagate through the pliable mantle layer beneath the Earth’s crust. She believes her evidence has pinpointed the location of the mantle plume. However, Qin Cao, an MIT seismologist, believes a giant deep thermal anomaly hundreds of miles wide located far west of Hawaii is what feeds the island’s volcanoes.

As both well researched hypothesis have merit, as of the time of this writing we still do not have conclusive evidence as to the source. Wolfe says: “I acknowledges the importance of the new find, but believes it will take much more work to truly explain how her thermal plume and the “pancake” of hot rocks are related and how they provide the heat source for Kilauea and the other active volcanoes of the Hawaiian Islands.”

“We need to think about different types of mantle plumes,” Cao said. “The picture of the internal dynamics of the Earth and material-exchange processes between the upper and lower mantle are more complicated than people thought before.”

We know one thing – the residents of Hawaii are not so concerned on why the eruption is so large and everlasting, but ‘when’ will it stop….

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