Monday, March 31, 2014

Global Methane hits 1802 ppb - Four Months Earlier Than 2013 and IASI Outage

On March 25, 12-24 hrs, the METOP/IASI global mean methane hit 1802 ppb at 586 mb. This same level of global mean methane was not hit until July 1st in 2013.
Factors that may impact the increased speed of reaching this level is the faster thaw in Siberia and higher methane levels over Antarctica.

Unfortunately, the METOP A IASI and METOP 2 both went down on or about March 26th. It seems there is a hardware issue with at least one satellite and it is not clear why the other is down as well.

"On 26 March 2014, at 08.40 UTC, the MHS instrument on Metop-A entered into a fault mode during preparations for the out-of-plane manoeuvre.

Attempts to recover the instrument have so far not been successful and the anomaly investigation is focusing on the possible failure of a hardware switch on the instrument. The instrument is to remain OFF until a better understanding of the problem allows further diagnostic commanding to be performed. This is not expected before mid-next week and the data service could remain off for considerably longer."

Also, the AIRS/Aqua NRT imagery is also down - seemingly indefinitely. See:

"*Details/Specifics of Change: *ESPC received an email from NASA
reporting that the AIRS Instrument has encountered an anomaly as of
March 22, 2014 17:27 UTC. AIRS NRT data will not be available until

further notice. We will let you know once the data is available.****:

It seems we are being left blind to tracking global atmospheric methane and CO2 by satellite at the moment we are proclaiming the need to do so!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

More Hurricane-force North Atlantic Winter Storms in 2013-14 than Winter Season 2012-13

The UK and North Atlantic winter storm season have already smashed the record for storms with hurricane force winds, and the season can potentially last another month.

As reported by the NOAA Ocean Predication Center, average wind speeds for the North Atlantic basin were far above normal in January and February, 2014. See

"Blues indicate areas with wind speeds that were higher than the 1981-2010 average; browns indicate winds were lower than average. Most of the Northern Hemisphere is awash with white and muted blues and browns, indicating winds were not especially different from the long-term average for this time of year. In the North Atlantic, however, an unusually high number of hurricane-force storms have left splashes of dark blue off southeastern Greenland, Norway, Europe, and the western Mediterranean."
"Between the first hurricane-force event of the season on October 25, 2013, and March 8, the most recent one to date, 43 unique hurricane-force events have blasted their way across the North Atlantic. 
According to NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center, 20 separate hurricane-force wind events occurred during January through February alone, and 14 of them had low-pressure centers that underwent the rapid intensification that meteorologists call bombogenesis, in which the storm’s central pressure drops by at least 24 hPa in a 24-hour period. 
Between October 25, 2013 and March 8, 2014, thirty of them underwent rapid intensification. The most intense system occurred on December 24, 2013. The pressure in the heart of that storm dropped to 929 hPa as the storm lurked north and northwest of the British Isles. During January and February, 2014, 8 of the low centers had a central pressure below 950 hPa.
"In comparison, the hurricane-force storms totals for 2012-2013 were a bit lower, with 41 unique hurricane-force events between October and April. Only 22 storms had low-pressure centers that underwent rapid intensification—8 fewer than this winter to date. Last year’s (2012-2013) final event occurred on April 19th, 2013.

The Unending UK Storms

Given this year's storm tracks, the UK has been the dominant recipient of these storms impacts. Overall, the period from mid-December 2013 to mid-February 2014 saw at least 12 major winter storms, and, when considered overall, this was the stormiest period of weather the UK has experienced for at least 20 years. The MET office reported on the following storms in its January post: 


December 5-6, 2013
The 1200 UTC, December 5, 2013 pressure map, showing a deep area of low pressure bringing strong winds to the north-east of the UK.
Analysis chart 1200 GMT 5 December 2013Analysis chart 1200 GMT 5 December 2013
Maximum wind speeds of 5 to 6 December 2013 varied widely at 60 to 70 kt across Scotland, with Altnaharra (Sutherland) recording a gust of 81 kt (93 mph). The mountain station at Aonach Mor (at an elevation of 1130 m a.s.l.) recorded a gust of 123 kt (142 mph). Gusts also exceeded 60 kt along North Sea and Irish Sea coasts and over 70 kt in the Western Isles.

December 18-19, 2013

The frontal boundary and surface pressures of 19 December, 2013, 0000 UTC depicted a deep area of low pressure to the north-west of Scotland. Analysis chart 0000 GMT 19 December 2013
Analysis chart 0000 GMT 19 December 2013
This storm brought maximum gust speeds 18 to 19 December 2013 of 60 to 70 kt around exposed coastlines of the north and west, with gusts exceeding 70 kt in the Western Isles, South Wales and South Coast.  A gust of 74 kt (85 mph) was recorded at Plymouth and 82 kt (94 mph) at Needles Old Battery (Isle of Wight). Winds reached over 100 kt across the Scottish mountain summits.

December 23-25, 2013

The frontal boundary and SLP map of December 24, 2013,1200 UTC showing an exceptionally deep area of low pressure to the north-west of Scotland. The 927 mb reading is one of the lowest ever recorded for a North Atlantic Winter Storm.
Analysis chart 1200 GMT 24 December 2013Analysis chart 1200 GMT 24 December 2013
The December, 2013 Christmas Storm brought more winds that gusted at 60 to 70 kt across much of Scotland, the coast of Wales and South Coast of England. A gust of over 100 kt was again recorded across Scotland's mountain summits.

December 26-27, 2013

The surface pressure map of 0600 UTC, December 27, 2013, depicted another deep area of low pressure to the west of Scotland
Analysis chart 0600 GMT 27 December 2013Analysis chart 0600 GMT 27 December 2013
Large areas of the UK experienced gusting winds of 50 to 60 kt, with the strongest winds around Irish Sea coasts. Aberdaron and Capel Curig (both Gwynedd) recorded gusts of 95 kt (109 mph) and 82 kt (94 mph) respectively, while Cairngorm Summit (1237 m a.s.l.) recorded a gust of 119 kt (137 mph). This last reading is equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane wind speed!
Maximum gust speed 26 to 27 December 2013Maximum gust speed 26 to 27 December 2013

December 30-31, 2013

December 31, 2013, 1200 UTC found the UK facing another strong low pressure bringing further strong winds and heavy rain. Fortunately, the winds were not as strong, but the rains were what did greater damage with flooding.
Analysis chart 1200 GMT 31 December 2013

January 3, 2014
January, 2014 began with a continuing series of storms with another area of deep low pressure to the west of Scotland
Analysis chart 1200 GMT 3 January 2014Analysis chart 1200 GMT 3 January 2014
Maximum wind gust speeds on January 3rd reached 60 to 70 kt around exposed coastlines of the south and west, with 92 kt (106 mph) at Needles Old Battery (Isle of Wight) and 71 kt (82 mph) at Mumbles Head (Swansea).

January 5, 2014

In early January, the focus of concern again shifted to coastal flooding, particularly affecting exposed locations in South West England and South Wales. A large area of low pressure in the north Atlantic, driving strong winds and coinciding with high spring tides resulted in exceptionally high waves affecting coastal communities along the South Coast of England and west coast of Wales. In estuaries, the potential flood risk was exacerbated by high runoff from rivers.
Synoptic situation at 1200 UTC 5 January 2014, with a deep area of low pressure in mid-Atlantic driving very large waves towards western and southern coasts.
Analysis chart 1200 GMT 5 January 2014Analysis chart 1200 GMT 5 January 2014
The most significant January, 2014 storms occurred 25 to 26 January, 31 January to 1 February, 2014. 

January 25-26, 2014

The surface pressure chart for 1200 UTC,  January 26, 2014, depicts a deep area of low pressure to the north-east of the UK bringing strong winds and heavy rain to much of the UK.
Analysis chart 1200 GMT 26 January 2014Analysis chart 1200 GMT 26 January 2014
The map below shows maximum gust speeds 25 to 26 January 2014. Winds gusted widely at 50 to 60 kt around exposed coastlines of the west and north, with 70 kt (81 mph) at South Uist (Western Isles). Taken individually, this storm was notable but not exceptional for the time of year.

January 31 to February, 2014.

The January 31  to 1 February 2014, storm is revealed in the map below, showing another deep area of low pressure over Ireland.
Analysis chart 1200 GMT 1 February 2014Analysis chart 1200 GMT 1 February 2014
Maximum gust speeds for 31 January to 1 February 2014 varied around 50 to 60 kt along exposed coastlines of the north and west UK - comparable with the storm winds of 25 to 26 January - with 73 kt (84 mph) at Aberdaron (Gwynedd). 

February brought no relief for the UK from hurricane-force storms.

Major hurricane force storms occurred on  February,4 to 5, 8 to 9, the 12th and 14 to 15.

The photograph below provides some indication of weather impacts experienced from these storms.
Waves at Porthleven (Cornwall) 5 February 2014
This image shows huge waves battering the Cornish coast at Porthleven on February 5, 2014 Photograph: Matt Clark, Met Office
February 4-5, 2014
The February 4, 2014, 1800 UTC  map shows another deep area of low pressure to the south-west of the UK bringing the next storm. The analysis charts for sequence of four storms from 4 to 15 February are strikingly similar. With ongoing double storms tracking across the Atlantic,
Analysis chart 1800 GMT 4 February 2014Analysis chart 1800 GMT 4 February 2014
This storm was more severe across south Wales and south-west England where winds gusted at 60 to 70 kt widely around exposed coastlines. St Mary's Airport (Isles of Scilly) recorded a gust of 80 kt (92 mph) and Berry Head (Devon) 79 kt (91 mph). This storm damaged the South West main line railway at Dawlish.

February 8-9, 2014

Synoptic situation at February 8, 2014, 0600 UTC showing the next storm and deep low pressure system to the west of Ireland.
Analysis chart 0600 GMT 8 February 2014Analysis chart 0600 GMT 8 February 2014
Wind speeds were comparable with the previous storm and again gusted at 60 to 70 kt around the coastline of south Wales and south-west England, with 80 kt (92 mph) at Needles Old Battery (Isle of Wight).

February 12, 2014

February 12, 2014 chart shows the next storm in the series with a deep low pressure system over Ireland.
Analysis chart 1200 GMT 12 February 2014Analysis chart 1200 GMT 12 February 2014
Maximum gust speeds February 12-13, 2014. were the most severe of the sequence, particularly for coastal areas of Wales and north-west England where winds gusted at 70 to 80 kt - and a Met Office Red Warning for wind was issued for this region. Maximum recorded gust speeds included 94 kt (108 mph) at Aberdaron, Gwynedd, 83 kt (96 mph) at Lake Vyrnwy (Powys) and 81 kt (93 mph) at Capel Curig (Gwynedd) - close to record values; the highest gust speed on record for North Wales is 97 kt (112 mph) at Aberdaron on 24 December 1997. This was one of the most significant storms to affect Wales and north-west England in recent decades. Most of these gusts were category 1-2 in hurricane strength!

February 14-15, 2014

The last of the major storms affecting the UK occurred February 14-15 2014, and the center of the low pressure system to the south-west of Ireland.
Analysis chart 1200 GMT 14 February 2014Analysis chart 1200 GMT 14 February 2014
The coasts of south Wales and southern England were affected by the strongest winds, gusting at 60 to 70 kt or higher. Needles Old Battery (Isle of Wight) recorded a gust of 95 kt (109 mph).

This series of storms has produced major rainfall affecting large areas of the UK over the last several months.

The UK MET Office produced the following rainfall anomaly map. Temphasize the exceptional nature of the wet weather, the map below plots rainfall totals for this same 67-day period but as a percentage of the 1981-2010 long term average rainfall for the whole year. Remarkably, much of central southern England, parts of south Wales and eastern Scotland received around half a year's worth of rainfall through this period, with a few locations approaching 75% of the annual average in just over two months.
Rainfall totals 11 December 2013 to 15 February 2014 as percent of annual long-term average
Finally, the Azores high is beginning to move in place, deflecting recent North Atlantic storms northward - away from the UK. They are finally beginning to dry out, but there will be challenges with lambing season and crop production to still be totaled.


MET Office: Winter storms, December 2013 to January 2014

MET Office: Winter storms, January to February 2014

NOAA Ocean Prediction Center,

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Tracking Recent Methane Concentration Trends - Part 1: Mauna Loa

Tracking atmospheric methane (CH4) concentrations often gets summarized in media and blog conversations as a parts per billion (ppb) number representing a reading at a point in time, range of time, or across a set of locations.

At times I have used the publicized numbers without much thought. However I discovered that while CH4 numbers were, at times, impressive (or sensational), often they do not reflect a broader reality. I had assumed I knew what they measured - and didn't. 

There are advantages to daily (real-time) reporting of something like the Keeling Curve for CO2, which continue to capture media attention for good reasons. But there is no ground-based equivalent of the Scripps CO2 reporting for methane, that is compiled an a real time basis, (one possibility is the GHG Earth Networks data, but it fluctuates and does not have a daily mean or average reading. See: )

So I start with a basic question: How do we measure CH4 trends and what is it we are really measuring? Is what we are measuring "accurate" as a global or regional proxy?

There are fundamental and important questions, whether tracking CH4 over the short, (days, weeks or months), recent (annually over the last few decades), or long term (centuries or over thousands of years). 

Even more complexity becomes apparent when we consider the collection site location, whether in the ocean, on land, or the tropics vs the poles, winds and altitudes.

I have been grappling with this issue for a while, and decided to explore it. I decided to start with the key CH4 indices, such as Mauna Loa (MLO) CH4 trend data.

While the graph depicts the daily/monthly readings for the entire data set, once you begin to examine the data, it gets more complex.

For example, the graph depicts the flask data collected on site and re-verified by a QA process. This gives a strong sense of reliability for readings from May, 1983 up to December, 2012 - the end of the blue dots in the image above.

Looking at the historical data from May, 1983 until March 1987, there is no question over the data, we only have the flask CH4 available. However, beginning in April, 1987, the in situ readings commence, and throughout the data set to December, 2012 they are usually at variance with the flask data. The variability in any given month can range as much as +/- 9.6 ppb.

For example in October, 2011, the flask readings are 9.68 ppb less than the in situ reading. In November 1992, it was the opposite, the flask reading was 9.15 ppb above the in situ monthly average.

The data became more mixed, when in May, 1991, the CSIRO CH4 collection commenced at MLO.

With this, the ESRL flask and CSIRO readings revealed even greater variance, with the MLO flask readings being as much as 32 ppb below (June, 1991) or 26 ppb above (November, 1992) the CSIRO monthly averages.

So what advantages and disadvantages do we have in the MLO CH4 data? I suggest the following:


It seems to me that the advantages for Muana Loa CH4 flask data use are:

1) It represents a stream of readings collected at the same location over an extended time period, allowing the trends to be apparent in relation to seasonal variability.
2) Its trend serves as a global proxy for creating awareness of the impacts of GHG's on global climate change.
3) Its location places it farther away from local sources or sinks, that might "bias" the data.


As helpful as this information is, there are shortcomings. 

1)  In reality, we are only seeing the CH4 trend at one location, and at one altitude. It is a single point of data collection through time.
2) It does not provide the changes in methane globally, based upon seasonality, altitude, or sources.
3) CH4 trends at the poles are not reflected in the data.
4) In reality, depending on the device or organization, variant readings may mean that the actual needs to be some type and average of the different collection and recording methods.
5) There is no "provisional" data for near real time comparison or evaluation by the public. This means that others who have an interest in data have to wait as long as a year for access, despite the provisional being available for charting as above. 
6) It is not global in a real sense, more collection points would have to be included.

A potential suggestion: 

1) Since we do have three data sources for the same location, not including the Scripps readings mentioned above, perhaps all three monthly readings need to be averaged as a composite reporting number, unless there is a real issue with data validity in a given period and instrument.

2) Having more provisional "real time" readings would be a real plus for monitoring MLO methane readings.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mauna Loa Daily CO2 Hits 401.62 ppm

This afternoon, the Scripps Observatory daily CO2 reading at Mauna Loa was 401.62 ppm, this is the first daily reading above 400 ppm in 2014. Hourly readings topped 402 ppm.

This reading comes almost two months earlier than last year when the Keeling Curve first topped a hourly reading of 400 ppm on May 10, 2013.

The last month's readings track the increase which will continue likely into May or perhaps early June, 2014.

Through this week, readings have been creeping higher globally with the METOP-IASI global mean methane topping 398 ppm on March 11 2014 12-24 hrs UTC at 945 mb. The areas in yellow have readings above 410 ppm.


Global Mean Methane (CH4) Hits 1800 ppbv Two Weeks Earlier Than 2013

The METOP-IASI tracked global mean methane hit 1800 ppbv at 586 mb during March 12, 2014, 12-24 hrs UTC. The higher concentrations are occurring, not only over the Eurasia and the Arctic, but also beginning to increase over Antarctica, as it begins to lose the sun, and winter sets in. I will comment more on particular areas in another post.

During the last week, global mean methane readings have begun tracking higher than last year on a regular basis.

This reading was achieved almost exactly two weeks earlier this year than last, when the reading was reached on March 26, 2013.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Global Mean CO2 Hits 398 ppm, an Annual Increase of 3 ppm on March 3, 2014 0-12 hrs UTC

Tracking global CO2 is usually based upon the Keeling Curve readings at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, given its long tracking record. While this is very helpful, satellite imagery is providing a new perspective of global CO2 (carbon dioxide) and CH4 (methane) concentrations.

One useful means for tracking global CO2 is the EUTMETSAT Metop A and B satellites which carry the IASI instrument. The IASI instrument enables sampling the atmosphere in 100 layers for CO2 concentrations. (More on this in another post).

On March 3, 2013 0-12 hrs, the IASI CO2 global mean concentration was 395 ppm at 945 mb. What the image also reveals is that there were few areas with concentrations above 410 ppm, except in central Africa and the northwestern coast of Australia.

This has changed significantly, for on March 3, 2014, with the global mean CO2 at 945 mb is now at 398 ppm, and many areas have concentrations above 420 ppm over the Arctic and North America. This vividly illustrates the ongoing increase of CO2 in the atmosphere over the past year.
When one considers the entire atmospheric column of CO2, the mean level is a bit lower, but still captures the increase of 2014 vs 2013, and reveals that the CO2 ppm increase over 400 ppm for the entire column is widespread.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Mauna Loa Hourly CO2 hits 400 ppm on February 26, 2014

It appears, for the first time this year, the hourly Mauna Loa (MLO) CO2 crossed 400 ppm during the evening of February 26, 2014. If so, it seems to put us on track for at least one week - or perhaps more - above 400 ppm at that site in May, 2014. We may even get individual days as high as 402-403 ppm if the prior year's trends hold.

Here are the readings for the week, month, year and two years, plus the entire set of CO2 ppm readings at MLO since 1958 as of February 26, 2014
The instrument was down for the February 27  readings. What the next set of readings reveals will be of interest. Perhaps in March or certainly in April we will have our first for day above 400 ppm for 2014.
Daily and weekly readings have been creeping up through the last month. We will likely have our first week of readings above 400 ppm some time in May.
Glancing at the above annual CO2 readings at MLO, it seems that we are easily 1-2 ppm above last year's weekly averages. That is more readily apparent when we have two years of readings as portrayed below.
The rate of annual increase between December 2013 from 2012 ranged between 2.3-2.5 ppm.
The entire set of readings by month since the records began in 1958 are below. There has been no slowdown in CO2 increases in the past 56 years and none seems coming soon.
While a focus on the CO2 record at Mauna Loa is helpful, in reality many locations are reporting above 400 ppm this winter. For example, the Barrow, AK CO2 readings reached almost 405 ppm in January, 2014.
The following image is the average global CO2 in the atmosphere as of February 26, 2014, 0-12 hours UTC as imaged by the METOP A IASI satellite instrument. The yellows are atmospheric levels above 410 ppm for the entire atmospheric column - not just the surface 

In individual atmospheric layers, the actual readings in these areas may be much higher, but the METOP reporting has restricted the highest readings to 420 ppm.
Although the entire mean is 396 ppm, it is only a matter of time before we cross 400 ppm level globally.


Barrow, AK CO2: