Astrid Caldas

Climate scientist

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Astrid Caldas is a climate scientist with the Climate & Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Her research focuses on climate change adaptation with practical policy implications for ecosystems, the economy, and society. See Astrid's full bio

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The Moon is seen as is rises, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017 in Washington. Photo by NASA. CC-BY-2.0 (Flickr)

Supermoons, King Tides, and Global Warming

Were you, like me, dazzled by the supermoon this weekend? Did you also stare in a state of wonder at the bright and shiny orb of color illuminating the night? Supermoons happen when a full or new moon is at its closest point to Earth. While we can’t see them during the new moon, supermoons that occur during a full moon are indeed something to behold. They bring thoughts of the universe, of space, stars and planets.

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Catastrophic Intensity: Why Is Hurricane Irma Gaining Strength So Quickly?

UPDATE (September 8, 4:20 pm)—For more on this developing storm event, including how it compares to Hurricane Harvey, we’ve posted a round-up of expert and scientist perspectives: UCS Experts’ View of Risk and Preparedness as the Impacts of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma Mount.

UPDATE (September 7, 11:50 am)—Hurricane Irma currently remains a category 5 hurricane, feeding off abnormally warm waters along its path across the northeast Caribbean. The hurricane’s strength is expected to continue and it is forecast to remain a category 4 or 5 storm over the next several days (the National Hurricane Center is maintaining Irma as a category 5 until Friday).

Hurricane Irma’s 180-plus mph winds held for over 24 hours (currently nearly two days), setting a record for an Atlantic hurricane and leaving casualties and destruction on the French island territories, U.S and British Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Early on  September 7, Irma’s center was about 95 miles north of the Dominican Republic, moving at about 17 mph and expected to go north of the Dominican Republic and Haiti on Thursday, Turks & Caicos and the Bahamas by Thursday night, and then Cuba on Friday night/Saturday. After that, recent tracks show it heading towards Florida and the Eastern US coast; those tracks will keep being updated.

Regardless of its final path, there is a real threat of extreme storm surge—residents should heed the National Hurricane Center advisories and take recommended measures to ensure safety.


In a world that is increasingly defined by superlatives, let’s start with this just-released statement from the National Hurricane Center: Hurricane Irma is the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic basin outside of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico in their records, and a potentially catastrophic one, tied for second place as the strongest ever in the Atlantic. And it is following on the footsteps of Hurricane Harvey, which gathered strength very fast and dumped record amounts of rain on Texas and Louisiana.

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October 17, 2016 tidal flooding on a sunny day during the "king tides" in Brickell, Miami, FL that peaked at four feet MLLW. Photo: Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0.

Sea Level Rise and High-Tide Flooding Outlook Make It to NOAA’s Climate Update

On June 15, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) held its Monthly Climate Update press conference, in which it releases the global temperature for the previous month. The big piece of information in this press conference usually comes on the very first slide of their presentation, which includes the measured global temperature for the month, and how much it deviates from the 20th century average of 58.7°F. Read more >

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The 2017 Hurricane Season Begins: Here Are 3 Alarming Things I’m Watching

There are so many things happening in the world and in the US that we have a lot to digest. However, one of the things that should be on everyone’s radar – whether you live on the coast or not – is the 2017 hurricane season, which starts June 1st. Why? Read on.

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April 2017 Was the Second Hottest April on Record: We Need NOAA More Than Ever

We are still seeing warming that is basically unprecedented. Read more >

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