Observing & Predicting

As the assessment now known as the BAMS State of the Climate report pushes into its third decade, international participation is at an all-time high. From atmospheric chemists to tropical meteorologists, more than 420 authors from institutions in 57 countries contributed to this year’s report.

January 2014

  • The WestMap climate analysis and mapping toolbox is an interactive, web-based tool that helps users see the climate conditions that underlie droughts, storms, floods, and changes in streamflow.

  • As climate changes in the Great Lakes region, the popular yellow perch–which some consider the ultimate pan-fried fish–may become much less common, potentially forcing consumers to adopt new traditions.

  • Concentration of carbon dioxide is about 1.4 times what it was before the Industrial Revolution. How much and how fast will Earth warm if carbon dioxide concentrations double the pre-industrial?

  • Among the questions triggered by the entrapment of a Russian ship near Antarctica on Christmas Eve were whether the ice conditions were out of the ordinary, and, if so, whether long-term climate change was playing a role.

  • ANIMATION: The globally averaged temperature for 2013 tied as the fourth warmest year since record keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA scientists. It was the 37th consecutive year with a global temperature above the 20th-century average. This animation starts with the 2013 difference from average temperature and continues through monthly temperature anomaliies for January-December.

  • The Arctic Oscillation describes simultaneous, geographically “choreographed” shifts in multiple features of the polar vortex: air pressure, temperature, and the location and strength of the jet stream. They all follow the hemisphere-wide oscillation of atmospheric mass back and forth between the Arctic and the middle latitudes, sort of like water sloshing in a bowl.

  • A few days of unusually cold weather in the U.S. and Canada aren't a sign that a century-or-more trend of rising global surface temperatures has reversed itself. In fact, the cold wasn't even all that widespread for the Northern Hemisphere.

  • Meteorologists have known for years that the pattern of the polar vortex determines how much cold air escapes from the Arctic and makes its way to the U.S. during the winter. Climate scientists are wondering if a warmer Arctic could explain its odd behavior in recent years.