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CNN10 2021-04-19

CNN 10

Researchers Make Initial 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season Predictions; Reasons Why Scientists Continue To Research The Red Planet. Aired 4-4:10a ET

Aired April 19, 2021 - 04:00:00 ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Hi, I'm Carl Azuz for CNN 10. Welcome to our viewers around the world. This week we're starting with a forecast for a type of season that doesn't begin until June 1st. Why are we looking so far ahead? Because the season we're discussing is the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season and there may be increased interest in this year's forecast because last year's season was a doozy.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season covers main storms in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Scientists have been keeping records of these storms in these regions since 1851. Storms can form outside of the season and several did last year and a major record that was broken last year was the total number of systems.

There were 30 named Atlantic storms in 2020. The previous record had been set in 2005 when there were 27 named storms. What's interesting as far as the names themselves go is that they're only 21 of them pre-selected for each season.

So in 2005 and 2020, scientists used the letters of the Greek alphabet. Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, for the storms that came after the first 21 names. They're not going to do that again. Meteorologists announced this year that if the 21 original names get used up, a supplemental list with more names will be used instead of the Greek letters.

Forecasting the number of hurricanes is kind of like forecasting the weather. It's not an exact science. Last April for instance, Colorado State University initially predicted there would be 16 named storms.

There turned out to be almost double that and there were seasons when the group initially predicted more storms than there turned out being. But unlike the U.S. government which predicts a range in the number of hurricanes, Colorado State predicts a specific number and CNN 10 Contributor Tyler Mauldin tells us what that is.


TYLER MAULDIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The Atlantic Hurricane Season is right around the corner Carl. Early predictions say it could be another busy one.

The six-month season runs from June 1st to November 30th. Researchers at Colorado State say this year will be above average in the preseason outlook.

The team calls for 17 named storms. Eight of which will become hurricanes and four of those becoming major hurricanes. An average year would feature 14 named storms and seven hurricanes. This is based on the newly released 30-year averages from 1991 to 2020. NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will publish its prediction in May.

It's important to note researchers are simply trying to forecast how many systems will form. A busy season doesn't mean a lot of landfalls nor does a quiet season mean fewer landfalls. A tropical system receives a name once it reaches a wind speed of 39 miles per hour.

A named tropical storm then becomes categorized as a hurricane when its winds hit 74 miles per hour. The intensity is measured on the Saffir-

Simpson Wind Scale which ranges from one, the weakest to five being the strongest. Here's a look at this year's names. Do you see yours on the list?

The names come from the World Meteorological Organization and are reused every six years. You can easily find the list for upcoming seasons on the internet. If a storm is significant enough, the WMO will retire the name and replace it with a new one.


AZUZ: 10 Second Trivia. Which of these is not an active, current NASA mission to Mars? Reconnaissance Orbiter, Insight, Maven, or Sample Return.

The key word here is active. Mars Sample Return is a proposed mission but it hasn't gotten off the ground yet.

Counting its rovers, its lander, its work with the European Space Agency and its orbiters. The spacecraft zipping around Mars, NASA says it currently has eight active missions to the red planet.

On Monday morning, Earth time at 3:30 eastern, the small Ingenuity helicopter was set to make its first attempt to fly on the red planet if all went according to plan. Factoring in its construction and operation, the drone cost $85 million.

One example of how expensive it is to experiment on Mars and critics of Mars exploration say NASA should focus on finding solutions to life on Earth, instead of looking to establish new life or research on the red planet. But for scientists, the Mars allure is undeniable.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mars. Its blood red color inspired the Romans to name it after their god of war. The ancient Egyptians called it the red one, the Chinese, fire star. Now with NASA aiming to send humans to the planet in the 2030s, the question many have is why?

Mars is our second nearest celestial neighbor and the fourth planet from the sun. At its closest, it's 30 million miles from Earth. It's the second smallest planet after Mercury yet has the largest volcano in the Solar System, Olympus Mons. Mars has no known resources that would be valuable enough to send back to Earth.

It's bombarded by solar radiation and has dust storms that cover the entire planet which raises the question why governments and private enterprise are spending billions of dollars on getting there. Perhaps the most intriguing reason is the search for extra-terrestrial life.

In 1976, NASA's Viking I became the first spacecraft to successfully land on Mars. Onboard was apparatus designed to detect life. Chemical soil tests were initially promising but doubts were raised and has since been discounted that life was discovered by Viking I.

Yet it's still super charged the debate on whether there was life beyond our planet and what it means for our place in the universe. Conditions on Mars indicate life could have existed and in 2018, NASA's Curiosity Rover found organic matter, like methane in rocks.

DR. JENNIFER EIGENBRODE, RESEARCH SCIENTIST, NASA: Organic molecules could be the food for life or they could be the product of life or maybe they're from something all together different such as geology or meteorites that were deposited into the lake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: NASA's Perseverance Rover, which touched down on the red planet February 2021 is actively testing for signs of life too. The samples it collects are due to be returned to Earth for analysis in 2031. NASA's model for hunting extra-terrestrial life has been follow the water and in fact, water did once flow on Mars in abundance, enough to cover a fifth of the planet.

And the water still exists. Today, the planet's two polar caps are largely made up of ice. If it melted, the water could flood the entire planet to a depth of 35 meters. The presence of water also makes the prospect of human settlements on Mars possible even though there are only small amounts on the surface.

As well as drinking it, NASA's exploring using water as protection from solar radiation and as a possible fuel source. But Martian settlements won't come cheap, in the 1960s and '70s, NASA's Apollo program cost $280 billion.

NEIL ARMSTRONG, AMERICAN ASTRONAUT: That's one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That hasn't stopped people like SpaceX founder Elon Musk from pushing the idea.

ELON MUSK, FOUNDER, SPACEX: So history going to bifurcate on two directions. One -- one -- one path is we stay on Earth forever and there will be some eventual extinction event. The alternative is to become a space (inaudible) civilization and multi-planet species which I hope you do agree that is the right way to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Musk floated the idea of terraforming the red planet to make it more habitable. Even suggesting this could be achieved by dropping nuclear bombs on it. Historically, the idea of terraforming has been met with skepticism by members of the scientific community.

Many doubt there are enough resources on Mars to do it. Then there are all the other unexpected benefits of attempting to go to Mars. The last space race brought a boom in technological innovation that gave us things like GPS, ear thermometers, camera phones, cat scanners, athletic shoes and LEDs.

Perseverance Rover is just the latest in a series of missions to Mars that spans decades. And each new step towards the red planet has brought the potential for better understanding of our own. There may not be a lot on Mars but it's the unknown and the adventure of getting there that might just merit the price tag.


AZUZ: For 10 out of 10, this kind of thing might not attract much of a crowd in parts of Britain or Australia. But when officials shut down a highway in Idaho for a rancher and 2,500 sheep to cross, well, this has become a tradition in the "Gem State".

Every year about this time, the rancher moves his flock from his farming community to the foothills near Boise so they can munch on grass there through the summer. Highway 55 stands in their way. So with the help of handlers and some working dogs and under the watchful eyes of excited onlookers, the flock makes its way to greener pastures.

Well why not? It's a sight to "sheep". Of course, folks are going to make "Bo Peep" about it. Of course, some might think the animals are on the "lamb" and want to "lamb baste" someone for this. But the rancher's not trying to pull the "wool" over anyone's eyes.

He just wants to "flock" to where the grass is greener to keep his sheep in "sheep shape". It's really not a "baaaaaaaad" idea. Hey, one to give a shout out to Creekside High School today. The one in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. Thank you for your comment on You Tube. I'm Carl Azuz for CNN.