Category Archives: Meteorology

Why did two meteorologists receive the Nobel Prize?

It was with great excitement that we learned last week that the Nobel Prize in Physics was shared among three scientists who had each made “groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of complex systems.” Two of the three so awarded were meteorologists, professor Syukuro (Suki) Manabe of Princeton University and professor Klaus Hasselmann of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology.

Together, they were cited for their work in “the physical modeling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming.” Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology

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What is the ozone hole?

Ozone is a colorless gas made up of three oxygen atoms (chemically denoted as O3). It occurs naturally in small amounts in the upper atmosphere (the stratosphere), about 18 miles above the surface.

Ozone in the stratosphere is a result of a balance between sunlight that creates ozone and chemical reactions that destroy it. Ozone is created when oxygen (O2), is split apart by ultraviolet energy emitted by the sun into single oxygen atoms. The single oxygen atoms can rejoin to make O2, or they can join with O2 molecules to make ozone. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Phenomena

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When does autumn begin?

The changes are subtle but apparent to the keen observer at this time of year — the first changes of color on trees, the earlier sunset and the rapid temperature drop that follows.

Summer is ending and fall is taking its place. This fact is formalized at 2:20 p.m. Wednesday when the autumnal equinox occurs. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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Why do tornadoes happen in hurricanes?

When hurricanes make landfall, they can spawn tornadoes.

The friction over land is much stronger than friction over water, where the hurricanes form. Frictional force quickly weakens the farther you get from the ground. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena, Severe Weather, Tropical

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Is hurricane forecasting improving?

There are two important components of hurricane forecasting: the hurricane track (where it is going) and hurricane intensity (how and if its winds are increasing).

Hurricane forecasts are becoming more accurate and are extending further out in time. Accurate forecasts provide needed information to make sound decisions and effective risk communication. In addition to improved hurricane forecasts, technological advances, such as smart phone apps, are making the information more accessible and can alert those in harm’s way. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Severe Weather, Tropical

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