NASA’s Animation of NASA’s unmanned aircraft. Video available from NASA at http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a004000/a004035/index.html
HS3 Global Hawk is NASA’s hurricane research program that involves 2 Global Hawks, unmanned drones that fly for 30 hours and at 60,000 feet.
Forest fires continue to burn in Colorado. Western Colorado is in its 3rd year of drought. Despite the late spring snow and rain and the apparent “greeness” of the landscape the forests are quite dry (June 22, 2013). Since 1980 snowpacks have declined through out the Rocky Mts. Computer modeling demonstrates that the 2 degree temperature increase over that period has been a major contributor to this trend, which increase the risk of wild fires.
PAGE 8: “(From) 1971 to 2000 large effects have been seen with less than 1 °C warming (~2F) over the past 30 years. For example, snowpack is melting earlier in the spring, forest fires are becoming larger, bark beetles are moving higher in elevation and attacking species that were climatically protected in the past, bark beetle and other insect outbreaks have become larger and more frequent without very cold winters to stop them, and drought has killed trees in the drier regions of tree species’ ranges.”
Snow cover in the Rocky Mountains has declined by 20 percent over the past three decades, a study* published in May 2013 shows. Coupled with earlier and faster snowmelt, the dwindling snowpack poses problems for ecosystem health and watershed management in the western states.
Scientists used monthly data recorded from 1895 to 2011 to quantify the influences of winter and spring temperatures and precipitation on snowpack trends and variations in the region. Since 1980, snowpacks have decline throughout the Rocky Mountains, and most severely in the northern Rockies. Modeling demonstrates how temperature has been the major driver of this trend, which increases the risk of floods and wildfires.
*The study was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey scientists and published in Geophysical Research Letters a journal of the American Geophysical Union. GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 40, 1811–1816, doi:10.1002/grl.50424, 2013
This photo is from a NASA satellite showing a plume of dust blowing off of Africa. These dusty layers generally float between 3-5,000 feet and 15,000 feet.
The forest fires in Colorado continue to burn this early summer. Much of Colorado has suffered a 3 year drought, and this last winter snowfall was less than normal (though there were some late season snows) so many of the rivers are below normal stream flow.
June 22, 2013