Though we’re still more than two weeks from the end of 2012, it’s not too soon to get a sense of how the year will go down in meteorological annals. Some of the signals from January to November are so strong that December won’t change the outcome.
The United States faces more varied weather risks than most nations on Earth, but we also have uniquely strong capabilities to confront these risks, thanks to decades of research conducted by government agencies, universities, and the private weather industry.
Studies show 63% of hurricane-related deaths occur inland. To help emergency managers prepare, NCAR scientists are pinpointing vulnerable populations using tropical storm winds, census data, and flood maps.
Heat and drought are punishing much of the United States right now, but there’s actually some good weather news to report. July 2012 is on track to produce fewer tornadoes than any July on record, and by a long shot.
A small, sophisticated instrument package developed at NCAR and dropped from aircraft has led to notable improvements in hurricane prediction. Now these devices are poised to deliver more data than ever, thanks to a new design and a remotely piloted NASA aircraft.
A multisatellite observing system that was only a gleam in researchers’ eyes in the 1990s is now a key tool for monitoring Earth’s atmosphere. An ambitious follow-up project could yield up to ten times the data gathered by the current satellites.
University students and faculty soon will have the chance to peer at day-to-day weather through the same lens used by National Weather Service meteorologists. A new version of the NWS’s workhorse graphics software will reach campuses through UCAR’s Unidata program.
Thanks to deicing treatment and careful route selection, commercial pilots now avoid most of the threat that ice will encase critical parts of a plane. But another, more mysterious kind of in-flight icing hazard is now gaining attention.
Many facets of everyday life, from boarding a plane to turning on the lights or driving down the highway, are becoming safer and more cost-effective with the help of technologies rooted in atmospheric science.
The winter of 2011–12 was the second in a row to feature La Niña, the quasi-cyclic cooling of the eastern tropical Pacific—but the two seasons departed from the La Niña script in strikingly different ways.