Monthly Archives: December, 2012

Gee-O-Science Happy Holiday’s Links: Part Two

One of the great things about geoscience is the fact that it doesn’t take a holiday, weekend, vacation, or an evening off.  The pale blue dot that we live on just keeps going 24/7 and offers a never-ending supply of goodies to fascinate us.  Here’s part two of the holiday link smorgasbord…dive on in…and pass the egg nog.

Our closest relatives can suffer from a mid life crisis too. After all, we’re not that much different from them.

The Liberal Republic of Science: a nice four part read that’s very thought provoking and well worth your time.

Calling all fellow introverts! If you’re exhausted by crowds, chit-chat, and “life-of-the-party” folks, you’ll enjoy this video. Were you bullied too? I was and know all too well the feeling of being a verbal punching bag. Little did those opportunistic interlopers know that they were giving me strengths that they will never comprehend or possess.

In spite of the myth, a well-rounded scientist is more productive, happy, and simply more fun to be around.

Before we head into the weather and climate links, here’s a look back at the most fascinating human evolution discoveries of 2012.

And speaking of species changing and adapting, approximately two million years ago changing environmental conditions in eastern Africa could have had an effect on human evolution.

It’s winter and, as I write this, many areas of the southern plains received snow over the Christmas holiday. Like to find out how much snow fell at your location? You can measure the snow depth yourself but, it’s not as simple as it sounds. Here’ s the proper way to measure snowfall accurately.

Speaking of snow, do you know how it forms? Watch and learn!

One of the most popular computer weather forecast models (often referred to as the EURO) compiles it data in Europe, but is highly dependent on data from USA satellites.

Even the relatively quiet & lonely continent of Antarctica is showing signs of warming…rather quickly too.

One of the challenges of conveying important scientific research is making it easily “digestible” to a general public that, for many reasons, finds science intimidating and/or boring.  Here’s a nice read on how we can get a start on changing that.

Forecasting weather is one of the most challenging tasks for the atmospheric scientist. It’s even tougher when weather systems go “missing” and make a difficult task worse that it should be.

Yes, Facebook is popular and hundreds of millions of people literally live on that site. Unfortunately, it’s a horrible platform for spreading potentially life-saving weather information!

Climate change is as real as the sky is blue. Sadly, some would rather pledge allegiance to the withering tin foil hat crowd and live in the Dark Ages.

2012 will go down as one of the driest years for the USA in decades. Unfortunately, the US Drought Monitor keeps looking worse as the weeks go by…with little relief in sight.

As of December 20, there were eleven billion dollar weather related events during 2012 in the USA. NOAA has detailed preliminary data on each of them.

Winter weather warnings, advisories, special weather statements, etc. can be confusing to many folks.  NOAA’s National Weather Service would like your feedback on how to improve their products. Here’s how you can help!

In the spirit of the season, I’ll wrap this up with an essay on the returns of being thankful.  Though not spiritual, I am fully aware that I can say, “thank goodness” (in the spirit of Daniel Dennett) for many things…

  • The countless people the world over who devote their lives to the never-ending search for the ultimate truth…which resides in the halls of science.
  • The courage of many scientists to take on the bully pulpit of corporations, big money religion, and politicians that are little more than puppets of lobbyists.
  • The amazing fact that by a mere roll of the dice, we live on a planet that has just the right ingredients for life and untold numbers of species have evolved over billions of years…a few leading to what we (humans) are today…and that we’re never satisfied with the knowledge we have now…and we crave the acquisition of new knowledge as much as we crave the very food and water that keeps us alive.
  • The amazing technology that keeps us all connected and has made the world a much smaller place. Some long for the “good old days” of a telegraph, gossip in the local cafe, and a bucolic existence of a world gone by. Give me the technology of computers and the internet any day. Today’s most modest laptop computer can give its user the world and his or her fingertips, news from any country, free communication with someone thousands of miles away in real time. Like Johannes Gutenberg’s press, computers, the digital world, and the internet have revolutionized human existence…and the best it yet to come. Yes, I’m optimistic about our species and, if we mind our fragile planet, we’ll have the greatest gift we can give to future generations…a planet fit for our species to live on in the brief amount of geologic time that we’re a guest on this amazing orbiting sphere we call home.

Here’s to an amazing 2013 full of spectacular discoveries! Now get out there, ruffle some feathers, and raise some hell. We’ve got some awesome SCIENCE to do!

Cheers!

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Gee-O-Science Happy Holiday’s Links: Part One

There’s a plethora of good science to pass along before 2012 comes to a close. This month, I’ll be splitting my selection up into two posts. There’s plenty to explore, so let’s get started.

Are atmospheric vorticies strictly a Earth phenomenon? No way. Dust devils have been well documented on the planet Mars…and Curiosity is having some close encounters.

Looking for a cool website to monitor seismic activity? Look no further. The Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology has a nice map and even an archive of the past thirty days.

People who know me well are aware that I’ve been a long-time advocate of citizen science. AAAS has a nice write up on SciStarter, currently the most prominent citizen science organization. The list of projects is almost limitless. Want to watch birds? Gotcha covered. Documenting snowfall amounts and dates of the first and last freezes of the autumn/winter season? No problem. You can help, and you can give valuable data for scientists to use in important studies.

Few areas of science fascinate me more than physics (thanks to my 7th grade science teacher who spent almost the whole year on the topic) so if that’s in your realm of interest, check out HyperPhysics. It’s got about everything you need to whet your appetite. I highly recommend this site as a good starting place for learning physics on your own, especially if you’re interested in weather and storm chasing. For the budding storm chaser, an intimate knowledge of physics may seem daunting, but is imperative.

Is our species getting more stupid, or is it just easy to say that because people love posting videos on YouTube of folks doing ridiculous things? I’d like to think it’s the latter because, in my humbly optimistic opinion, I think we’re brighter than ever before.

Check out Elementa, a “new, open-access scientific journal publishing original research that will report new knowledge of the Earth’s physical, chemical, and biological systems during this era of human impacts; feedbacks between human and natural systems; and steps that can be taken to ameliorate harmful changes.”  Their description sounds so much better than anything I could devise. You can also follow them on Twitter!

These stunning views of our Earth from NASA have been making the rounds as of late, but I couldn’t help but mention them once again.

The National Weather Service needs your feedback regarding winter weather warnings, advisories, et al. Forecasting winter weather is very tricky…and getting the correct message conveyed to the public can be an equally daunting task. Like to help? Click right here!

The busy 2012 Atlantic hurricane season came to an end with 19 named storms. Here’s a review from NOAA.

The year 2012 will also be known for record arctic sea ice melt. The World Meteorological Organization has a retrospective on yet another warm year.

The uneven nature of climate change is simply due to the fact that our atmosphere is an ever-changing fluid…and fluids are rarely stable.

Could the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change be underestimating the degree of climate change?

Among my favorite things about atmospheric science are the amazing satellite images that are available. Check out this nice satellite blog from CIMMS.

I’m all for the use and development of green energy development. But when wind farms meet radars, well…see for yourself.

Wrapping up the weather and climate links is a nice analysis from the Climate Prediction Center on El Nino and ENSO for the coming months.

Finally, as you set cozy and comfy while curled up on the sofa with your laptop or smartphone, prying eyes are watching you & your every online move. While we may not be able maintain a completely invisible online existence, here are some privacy tips that will help.

Part Two coming along soon…hope you’re having a good holiday season.

Cheers!

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