Two typhoons threaten eastern China / the Atlantic and climate news
Storms threaten major Chinese city
While the Atlantic heats up, two storms of concern are in the West Pacific. Both storms could affect the Shanghai area, the largest city in Mainland China situated on the Yangtze River Delta. Typhoon Saola is expected to strengthen to a category three storm by the time it hits Fujian Province after skirting the northern edge of Taiwan:
Saola is very broad and asymmetrical, throwing another element of unpredictability into the exact rainfall rates as they will fall over the region. Yesterday, its outer bands affected Luzon, sending barges barrelling into two slums in the capital Manila. So far in the Philippines, the storm has killed at least nine people. Currently, Saola is making a slow progression toward the north-northwest. Storm surge will likely be a concern in Zhejiang and quite possibly up to Shanghai as the storm makes its landfall in the early morning hours of Friday.
TS Damrey, meanwhile, is a much smaller storm that is expected to pass the southern end of Kyushu Island, where it will intersect the warm Kuroshio Current on the western end of the North Pacific Gyre. The storm has actually shrank over the last 24 hours, as it begins to pull its outer bands inward, and if this trend continues, the storm may be well-protected from disruption by the wind shear from much larger Saola. The two storms are undergoing a weak Fujiwara interaction (when two storms spin around one another in counter-clcckwise fashion), accelerating the smaller Damrey toward the west while Saola slows down and could make a westward turn as it continues northwest. Typically, storms in the Yellow Sea region this time of year will either hit Taiwan and southeastern provinces like Fujian, as in the case of Saola, or continue on toward the Korean Peninsula and Japan for storms situated in Damrey's location. However, due to a strong blocking ridge of high pressure combined with the counter-clockwise pull from Saola, the smaller storm is now espected to make landfall in eastern China, near Chongming Dao or southern Jiangsu Province. Much of eastern Jiangsu, from Yancheng in the north to the Yangtze (Chang Jiang) River mouth in the south, is very low-lying and only a few metres above sea level, being built on ancient river sediment. Although Damrey is a very small and compact storm and will likely not pose a large storm surge threat, is is possible that the combined effect of both storms, as well as concentrated heavy precipitation, will pose a threat to the Shanghai Delta region. China's largest city last experienced a direct hit from a category one typhoon in the mid-1980's.
Evacuations along the shoreline are likely to be announced by the Chinese central government in the coming days. Damrey is likely to make landfall in the late afternoon of Thursday, prior to Saola's landfall further south. All computer models currently point to both storms migrating westward over Southern China, likely worsening the flooding situation along those provinces, and possibly sending further moisture along a frontal boundary to places such as Hebei, Beijing and Tianjin, which were hit by weekend floods earlier in July that killed at least 109 people and left 20 more missing. So far, the Beijing floods have incurred $2 billion USD in damage. Close to 1.6 million people in Beijing were affected.
>>The news service from Ningbo City, Zhejiang calls the storms "Sura" and "David", respectively.
>>National Meteorological Center of the Chinese Meteorological Administration - in Chinese (click on 台风)
>>Sina.com news - unofficial, in Chinese, may contain timely weather information
>>Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomic Service Administration (PAGASA)
>>Japan Meteorological Agency: Tropical Cyclones - forecasts may differ
>>Joint Typhoon Warning Center, an American-based naval forecasting agency with satellite images, forecast discussions and trackmaps
>>National Hurricane Center for North America and Hawaii
>>CIMSS - tropical cyclone information by current and past atmospheric conditions
>>Cyclone phase forecasts - unofficial computer models (USE AT OWN RISK!)
>>Weather Underground: Tropics - access sea surface temperature maps, track map forecasts, computer models and a collection of other useful links
>>English Wikipedia - 2012 Pacific typhoon season: warning - Wikipedia is NOT AN OFFICIAL SOURCE AND MAY BE DELAYED IN UPDATING
>>NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, for tracking long-term atmospheric oscillations and trends
Droughts, floods, and rapid intensification
The floods across Mainland China this year have killed several hundred people, while a heat wave and further flooding has also hit Japan. Last year, floods claimed more than 300 lives, affected 36 million people and left some other regions still in drought. In 2010, over 3,000 people died from the flooding that affected well over 300 million people, causing $10+ billion USD in damages and affecting nearly every province, autonomous region and Provincial-level Municipality in the country. So far this year, 22 provincial-level regions have been affected. The total number of such regions in China is 33.
In any region affected by both droughts and floods, agricultural output may suffer, leading to increases in food prices around the world that are most extreme when oil prices are also rising. In recent years, rapid shifts between El Nino and La Nina, and a general increase in cases of extreme prolonged precipitation or anomalous temperatures has taken a significant toll on the world population.
Last week, Typhoon Vicente made landfall in Guangdong Province, near the port city of Macau. Heavy flooding occurred along the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong, but no deaths occurred in either Hong Kong (Xianggang) or Macau (Aomen). In six hours, the storm strengthened from a category one with 130 km/h (70 kt, 80 mph) winds to a category four with 220 km/h (120 kt, 135 mph) winds. According to Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground, a division of The Weather Channel, we are still a few years away from truly understanding how storms strengthen rapidly so close to shore. This information will be vital for coastal cities to prepare for incoming hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones and willy-willies in the years to come. Vicente killed at least three people in Guangdong Province.
In other news: the Western Hemisphere
Currently, 99L has become the first Cape Verde disturbance that has a significant likelihood of developing into a named storm, after four early-season Atlantic tropical storms in 2012. Cape Verde storms are generally long-track tropical storms or hurricanes that originate off the coast of Africa or the Central Atlantic (Main Development Region) and affect such areas as the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico or the East Coast of the United States. Some of the worst storms on record, including Ivan of 2004 and Isabel of 2003, were Cape Verde hurricanes, while many more originate as tropical waves off the coast of Africa.
A drought across West Africa in the Sahel region, a grassland biome separating the southern subtropical forests from the northern desert, is affecting close to eight million people in several countries: As famine looms in Niger's Sahel, reasons for hope emerge. A drought in East Africa, which affected close to ten million people and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, recently ended near the beginning of 2012.
In climate news, a Harvard team has discovered that summer thunderstorms over the mid-latitude United States may deplete ozone in the lower stratosphere. Spring is typically the season when the Arctic ozone hole is most prominent, and in 2011, a significant "hole" appeared over the Arctic for the first time. Meanwhile, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) team has released data supporting a conclusion that nearly all the global warming since 1753 is attributable or closely matches the rise in atmospheric CO2 caused by humans. On the same day, Anthony Watts of "Watts Up With That", the most popular climate change website in the world, made an announcement that picked up a lot of press. He suggested that nearly half of American land surface warming was added erroneously by NOAA, citing poorly placed station thermometers and a French method for calibrating temperature records accepted by the World Meteorological Organization, indirectly throwing doubt onto the BEST conclusion. Although this data is limited to the United States, the authors of surfacestations.org note that American thermometers have the largest collection and the oldest collection in the world. At the same time, the Berkeley team used over 1.6 billion records from around the world, and adjusted each reading using a computer script to correct for all known errors. In the next three decades, solar activity may slow down as the helioseismic readings show jet streams are missing for Solar Cycles 25 and 26, which could mean a minor Maunder Minimum, or a "Little Little Ice Age". The best astronomers and climate scientists meanwhile have refused comment on any possible effects this may have on the world climate, as the short-term variability is only about +/- 0.07C (0.13F) from solar activity, though regional effects may be greater.
Although global temperatures closely followed solar activity for 10,000 years during the Holocene, the trend had shifted toward following anthropogenic (manmade) carbon emission since humans started using agriculture and more so since we started burning fossil fuels in large industrial quantities.
The debate continues.