International Environmental Data Rescue Organization

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 6:13 PM GMT on March 01, 2006

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While persusing the booths at this year's annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society, I stumbled across the International Environmental Data Rescue Organization (IEDRO), and non-profit organization dedicated to saving old climate records throughout the world. I quickly signed up the Weather Underground to be a financial supporter, and urge those of you interested to contribute to this worthwhile charity!

IEDRO works primarily in third-world countries such as Kenya, Malawi, and the Dominican Republic. They hire and train local people to scan in paper climate records using a digital camera. The data are then keyed into a computer in comma-delimited format, burned onto a CD-ROM, and sent via
courier from the local U.S. embassy directly to the U.S. The final CD-ROMs end up at the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).

In many of the countries IEDRO works in, the old climate records are literally molding away in old cardboard boxes. These records often have decayed into non-legibility. So, IEDRO is in a race against time to save the data before they are permanently lost. With the issue of climate change quickly emerging as one of the most important scientific challenges of all time to solve, as much historical data as possible needs to be saved so that we can better see where climate change might be occurring. IEDRO also provides employment to third-world workers who typically desperately need jobs, so IEDRO's efforts have a double benefit.


Dr. Rick Crouthamel of IEDRO describes how the workers they hire digitize data, using the digital camera on the stand behind him.

My next blog will be Friday.

Jeff Masters

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85. globalize
7:48 PM GMT on March 04, 2006
I'm from south central Alabama. Due south five hundred miles is the center of the Gulf of Mexico. Historically, Hurricanes in the Gulf formed in the Gulf, not unlike the cutoff low which formed earlier in the week. The phenomenon of storms forming far to the east and crossing the straits into the Gulf of Mexico is a more recent thing.
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84. Skyepony (Mod)
7:15 PM GMT on March 03, 2006
Today's SST in the Gulf
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 193 Comments: 38698
83. Weather456
7:10 PM GMT on March 03, 2006
A BROAD MID-UPPER AMPLIFIED RIDGE EXTENDS FROM THE EPAC INTO
THE CENTRAL U.S WITH THE UPPER AXIS ALONG 100W. A MID-UPPER
LEVEL LOW JUST NE OF THE YUCATAN PENINSULA NEAR 22N87W IS
PRODUCING BROKEN/OVERCAST CLOUDS AND SCATTERED MODERATE SHOWERS
BETWEEN 83W-89W FROM 18N-26N. THIS FEATURE HAS A SURFACE
REFLECTION AS A TROUGH FROM 20N87W TO 26N84W...HOWEVER...AS OF
LATE THIS MORNING IT HAS MORE CURVATURE TO ITS STRUCTURE AND MAY
BE CLOSING OFF AS A SURFACE LOW IF THIS KEEPS UP. GLOBAL MODELS
DO NOT HAVE IT VERY WELL INITIALIZED AND THEREFORE ARE NOT
FORECASTING ANY
DEVELOPMENT.
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82. Skyepony (Mod)
6:59 PM GMT on March 03, 2006
more Katrina fallout
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81. HurricaneMyles
6:07 PM GMT on March 03, 2006
I think you did a pretty good job TPaul. When you're moving the same direction as the shear, it's going to have less of an effect. Anyone how much shear was the trough she was captured by supposed to be producing anyways?
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
80. TPaul
5:46 PM GMT on March 03, 2006
Keep one thing in mind about sheer. If a storm is traveling west at 10 knots with a 20 knot easterly sheer, thus effectively it is suffering 30 knots of sheer. However when that storm turns back and is headed east (like Wilma) and the reverse is the case and now that storm is only suffering 10 knots of sheer. Wilma was also a large storm and so the impact to the eye was significantly less. I am sure there are many more people on here on can explain all that better.
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79. ForecasterColby
5:55 PM GMT on March 03, 2006
Blog is up.
78. dcw
5:29 PM GMT on March 03, 2006
I'll be posting a new blog (under ForecasterColby) in a minute.
Member Since: August 2, 2001 Posts: 2 Comments: 3
77. dcw
5:23 PM GMT on March 03, 2006
That low is still looking pretty interesting, it's over the straits between the Yucatan and Cuba now.
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76. rwdobson
5:14 PM GMT on March 03, 2006
lighting, wow, bet that doesn't happen much in the area...hope that energy brings some rain to KC...
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75. rwdobson
5:13 PM GMT on March 03, 2006
Don't believe me about dry air being more dense? Try this..

Link
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74. lightning10
5:08 PM GMT on March 03, 2006
Take a look at this we just had some hail just a minute ago and a very very heavy downpore.

Link
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73. rwdobson
4:58 PM GMT on March 03, 2006
cyclonebuster: "The volume it takes up is much greater per cubic meter than just air it becomes more dense."

umm, so many things wrong with this statement, i don't know where to begin. but the fact is, moist air is LESS DENSE than dry air. period. there is no debate on this. if it weren't true, there wouldn't be any hurricanes, or any kind of storms, because the evaporation of water would cause sinking air, and no storms would form.

"volume much greater per cubic meter" is gibberish. perhaps you meant "mass is much greater", which would be possible, but it's not true. moist air is less dense than dry air, because the lighter water vapor replaces heavier N2 and O2 molecules within the parcel of air. this is a well-established fact, not debateable.
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72. Inyo
4:31 PM GMT on March 03, 2006
well any form of condensation will heat the air, making it effectively less dense
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70. globalize
4:43 AM GMT on March 03, 2006
Right jeffb. Maybe operative word there is 'condense'.
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69. Skyepony (Mod)
4:27 AM GMT on March 03, 2006
both discriptions work, though the 2nd is more discriptive in a way. Intense works well too. The link between higher SST & intensity seems to have been made & the more intense a storm is~ the more it affects the weather around it. Though to form in the 1st place it requires a pocket of well reduced shear for a bit, which is harder to find in winter.
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68. jeffB
4:19 AM GMT on March 03, 2006
cyclonebuster wrote:

Look at a pot of warming water the vapor rises more and more the warmer you get it. Cool it down and the vapor stops rising and spreads out more.Could be that the rising vapor makes it harder for shear to effect the storm.The water vapor molecules are more dense than any dry air.

Actually, that's exactly wrong. "Water vapor molecules" are less dense than dry air.

According to the ideal gas law, which is "close enough" for most common gasses, the density of a gas is proportional to its molecular weight. The "molecular weight" of dry air is somewhere around 29, because it's 4 parts nitrogen (28), 1 part oxygen (32), and a little bit of stuff that doesn't make much of a difference. The molecular weight of steam is 18. So steam is actually less than 2/3 the density of dry air. As you mix in water vapor to make wet, er, humid air, the density of the the mixture is actually LOWER than that of dry air.

When the water condenses, of course, it's more dense than air, or any other gas (at least under standard conditions).
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67. globalize
4:20 AM GMT on March 03, 2006
Think I used a poor word to describe recent storms. Since a tropical storm is not cognizant (I don't think), tenacity is a bad word. Storms of the last several years seem to show stronger inertia.
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66. HurricaneMyles
4:01 AM GMT on March 03, 2006
I think Wilma expirienced less shear due to the fact that she was moving just a little slower then the shear around her. Storm Relative Shear I think it was called. It wasent a big burst of shear that killed her as happens to many storms. She just was pulled underneath a weaker trough that didnt rip her apart, she just ended up going extratropical. Plus going over the loop current is always going to have bad results.

As far as tenacity is concerned, I wont disagree. But unless there is a fundamental change in weather patterns I dont see us having devastating storms from Dec-April. And I doubt a early season May, or late Nov storm will ever really cause much damage either, unless it stalls and produces flooding rains.
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65. Skyepony (Mod)
4:04 AM GMT on March 03, 2006
The last 2 passes of quickscat has missed the area of observation.

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64. Skyepony (Mod)
3:56 AM GMT on March 03, 2006
Yeah the onion~spoof ~ i know~ should have posted the one where NWS said they were giving the storms proper names ~ Hurricane Brent Alan Cheshire III.
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62. globalize
3:17 AM GMT on March 03, 2006
Hurricane Myles- I think Wilma was strengthening in the face of shear after it hit Mexico and headed toward the Keys and SW Florida. I'll qualify the statement about strengthening in strong shear. Better said, the storms seem to show a tenacity by which they are not ripped apart by shear as they should be, and strengthen quickly as soon as the shear environment weakens.
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61. Inyo
3:13 AM GMT on March 03, 2006
warming might increase the severity of storms in general, but that doesnt mean it will cause year round hurricanes. If anything, the warming would probably increase the strength of winter storms too. Winter storms and the polar jet stream increase shear.. so perhaps shear will actually increase over the ocean if the climate continues to warm.
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59. HurricaneMyles
2:54 AM GMT on March 03, 2006
There's already plenty of water vapor in a storm. I dont think that wator vapor helps to inhibit shear.

Globalize, what storms are you refering to when you mention some strengthen despite strong shear?
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
57. HurricaneMyles
2:37 AM GMT on March 03, 2006
I doubt it. El Nino, which is warmer SSTs off S. America as Im sure you know, causes more shear over the Atlantic. If SSTs warmed permanently to El Nino levels would that cause permanent El Nino-like conditions in the Atlantic? Who knows, I bet there are some people studying it though.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
55. taco2me61
2:05 AM GMT on March 03, 2006
Well guys, Mardi Gras is over and I'm back... Just sitting in the back row for now and read... :-)

Although the weather hereb has been in the 80's and that does bother me on how fast the waters will warm in the next few weeks... :-(


Taco
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54. globalize
2:17 AM GMT on March 03, 2006
Look what is setting up. West and East ice and snow. And a tropical storm may form in the Gulf. Wow.
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53. globalize
2:13 AM GMT on March 03, 2006
cyclonebuster is right about year round higher SST's, and look at the way several of last year's storms strengthened in spite of strong shear environment.
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52. HurricaneMyles
2:01 AM GMT on March 03, 2006
But it's always been like that. Shear has always been the inhibiting factor for storms during the winter time. Even with warmer water during winter I dont see that much of a threat from hurricanes at this time. Even if a tropical storm did develope, it is 99% likely that shear would rip it apart before it could do anything. The westerlies are just too strong and too far south during winter to be held back long enough for a hurricane to develop, let alone strengthen and move over land as a strong system.
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49. HurricaneMyles
1:47 AM GMT on March 03, 2006
and what would make you say that cyclonebuster?
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47. dcw
12:55 AM GMT on March 03, 2006
The Onion is a spoof site, just so you know.
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46. Skyepony (Mod)
11:46 PM GMT on March 02, 2006
Was I on the computer that evening, when this says the sun set an hour early? Does anyone remember all this histaria last week? Link
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45. RL3AO
11:34 PM GMT on March 02, 2006
quick question, when is the meeting to announce/decide the Social Security recievers of the 2005 Atlantic Season?
43. Skyepony (Mod)
9:49 PM GMT on March 02, 2006
TROPICAL WEATHER DISCUSSION
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
2205 UTC THU MAR 02 2006

WELL DEFINED CUTOFF UPPER LEVEL LOW IS CENTERED OVER THE BAY OF
CAMPECHE NEAR 21N92W.

~ once again notice time, coming out early
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42. globalize
9:47 PM GMT on March 02, 2006
MSTL- you could be right. We saw the long held notion that 80 degree sst was needed for tropical development contradicted a half dozen times last year.
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40. globalize
9:38 PM GMT on March 02, 2006
No, that low is not going to develop, perhaps hook up with the moisture to the north and makes some rain. But it's picture perfect, and would be kicking if the water were 5 degrees warmer, just 5 degrees. That's only a few more weeks. Heat in the south and the Gulf is building fast.
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39. Skyepony (Mod)
9:37 PM GMT on March 02, 2006
Well when NOAA was a 1/2 hour behind TWC was near an hour behind & accuweather was a full 2 hours behind.
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38. ForecasterColby
9:21 PM GMT on March 02, 2006
*shifty eyes* It's Bush trying to prevent us from seeing a global warming caused 'cane :)))
37. Skyepony (Mod)
9:20 PM GMT on March 02, 2006
the 20:45 just came up the center of circulation now matches the quickscat alot better. It really jumped north in the last hour. There is a lot of dry air around there & looks to have just sucked some toward the center area.
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36. Skyepony (Mod)
9:15 PM GMT on March 02, 2006
it doesn't look too likely to develop to me. I'm getting caught out in the inconsistances... Nothing images on quickscat a few minutes (20:54 UTC) it's up with the time taken at like 21:08. the floater & NOAA images in 1 min will be running a full hour behind with last update missed at 20:45
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35. ForecasterColby
9:12 PM GMT on March 02, 2006
I'd say it has a chance, but not much of one - it is March, after all.

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.