Taxonomy term

meteorology

Tsunamis from the sky: Can meteotsunamis be forecast?

The Great Lakes, along with the U.S. East Coast, the Mediterranean, Japan and many other parts of the world, have a long history of mysterious large waves striking unsuspecting coastlines. Such waves have characteristics similar to tsunamis triggered by earthquakes or landslides. Only recently, however, have scientists unraveled how a storm can create and propagate these far-traveling waves — called meteorological tsunamis or meteotsunamis. 

19 Feb 2014

A history of tsunami-like waves on the Great Lakes

Severe and deadly seiche events are rare on the Great Lakes. In the last century, about 10 major waves have hit the shores of the Great Lakes, but smaller anomalous waves occur much more frequently. Many of the deadliest have occurred on Lake Michigan, but Lakes Superior, Huron and Erie have also experienced them. In addition to the June 26, 1954, event, some others were: 

18 Feb 2014

A tsunami by many other names

Storm-triggered waves have been recognized and recorded around the world, including the U.S. where, in addition to the Great Lakes, they have occurred in New England, on the West Coast and on the Gulf Coast. In some parts of the world, they are common enough to have special names. In Croatia, the phenomenon is called Šćiga; in Malta, it is Milghuba; in Spain, Rissaga; in Japan, Abiki; and in Finland, Seebär. Scientists everywhere call them meteorological tsunamis, or meteotsunamis. Here are a few notable occurrences:

18 Feb 2014

Down to Earth With: Jacob Haqq-Misra

Jacob Haqq-Misra is all but addicted to music, which is why the astrobiologist balances his time between research and performing as a percussionist and vocalist with the psychedelic jam band, Mysterytrain.

18 Nov 2012

Foretelling next month's tornadoes

Tornadoes are notoriously difficult to forecast, with often deadly results: In 2011, tornadoes in the U.S. killed more than 550 people, a higher death toll than in the past 10 years combined. Now a new study of short-term climate trends offers a new approach to tornado forecasting that may give people in tornado-prone regions as much as a month of forewarning that twisters may soon be descending.

02 Apr 2012

Benchmarks: October 13, 1947: A disaster with Project Cirrus

Two days after clipping Cuba and Florida, a hurricane was drifting out into the Atlantic. All predictions had it remaining at sea without further landfall, making it the perfect test subject for the newly minted Project Cirrus, a U.S. government- backed project bent on discovering a way to disable deadly hurricanes. The researchers planned to seed the hurricane’s clouds with dry ice, hoping that the ice would interact with the clouds and disrupt the cyclone’s internal structure, thus weakening it. So on Oct. 13, 1947, a plane flew over the storm and dumped 80 kilograms of dry ice into the storm’s swirling clouds.
 
04 Oct 2010

From science to science fiction

Project Cirrus may have flopped in the meteorology world, but its research left an indelible impression on the literary world.
 
04 Oct 2010

Raindrop study splashes old assumptions

Predicting the weather has been central to human civilization since the Babylonians started studying cloud patterns in 650 B.C. The key to weather predictions is making correct assumptions. Today, instruments like Doppler radar that measure rainfall work under the assumption that raindrops fall at their terminal velocity. A new study, however, shows that some raindrops fall faster than they should, indicating rainfall instruments — and by extension, weather forecasts — may need some tweaking.

23 Jul 2009

Cityscape, 'wet regions' fueled Atlanta tornado

On March 14, 2008, at 9:38 p.m., something happened in Atlanta that had never happened in the city’s 171-year history: A tornado ripped through a 10-kilometer-long swath of the city’s downtown. The twister, with winds reaching 210 kilometers per hour, blew out skyscraper windows and stalled a major college basketball conference tournament.

23 Jun 2009

Storms brewing over volcanoes

Two hundred years ago, a sea captain was sailing in the Azores, a Portuguese archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, when he observed “an immense body of smoke rising from the sea.” As he watched, the smoke, from a volcanic vent offshore of the island of St. Michael’s, began to rotate on the water “like a horizontal wheel,” the captain wrote in his 1811 account of the event. The rotating smoke and ash grew into a dark column and ascended high into the sky, spawning waterspouts and flashes of lightning.

09 Apr 2009

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