Gee-O-Science Links for January, 2013

We’re in the middle of winter for the Northern Hemisphere. For much of the contiguous 48 United States, it’s been a relatively mild winter with drought conditions continuing throughout much of the plains states. But there’s plenty of other science topics to touch on at the start of a new year. But first a quick note; since this blog format is still in it’s formative stages, I’m combining a wide variety of topics under General Science for the sake of simplicity and the lack of a 36 hour workday. Like all diamonds in the rough, this will become more polished as my time and resources allow. But, the primary focus will always be on geosciences with heavy emphasis on the atmospheric sciences.

General Science & A Little More…

There was a lot of really cool thing happening in the physical sciences during 2012. New Scientist has a look back at an amazing year.

Science News magazine came out with their own “Science News Top 25”…at least there was one climate article. Nice list overall, but could be more diverse, especially with the earth/atmospheric sciences.

If you fancy social science, Psychology Today has a retrospective on their top posts of 2012.

In need of a map displaying the time zones around the world? This nifty one called WorldTimeZone should fit the bill.

Air quality indoors is just as important (or often more important) than outdoor air quality. Here are 6 tips to improve indoor air quality.

Scientists, whether professional or citizen, are generally by nature “skeptics” due to processes that areΒ  imperative to looking at our world via the scientific method. The Skeptic’s Dictionary will no doubt come in handy.

Speaking of the scientific method, this blog entry from Bora Zivkovic in Scientific American can easily be applied to all of the sciences. Besides, it’s a great read for those not familiar with the research process.

Whilst in the midst of research, the “inner voice” can be invaluable. Never underestimate the power of your intuition.

Now that research has been completed, there’s no reason to hide it behind a paywall. Simply put, it’s not right.

Many of the folks who toil at research are university professors. It’s a common misconception that a professor’s career is a cake walk secured by tenure. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There are some things that you just don’t mess with, or you’ll find yourself in a terrible fix. Time is one of them.

Jared Diamond’s take on everyday activities that are seemingly benign, yet they’re some of our greatest hazards as opposed to the ones that make hyped headlines.

Some folks not only have a problem with the scientific method, but science in general. Chris Mooney takes a look at “The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science”

Ah yes, belief. A hot potato topic if there ever was one. Al Jazeera talks with the inimitable Richard Dawkins on whether religion is a force for good or evil.

Communicating science to the general public can be a tough job. Trust me, I’ve been through that boot camp before. The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry chats with Cara Santa Maria, one of today’s brightest minds in science media.

Communicating science to the general public also means you’d best don your finest flak jacket. Mine have decades of battle scars…which gives me pause for thought…if the trolls have that much time dispensing hate online (which they’ d never do if confronted one-on-one in person), is malevolence all their lives consist of? If you’re the target of said sophomoric behavior, the Twitter Help Center has tips on dealing with online abusive behavior.

The history of science is quite often just as fascinating as science. Here’s a look at “Ten Historic Female Scientists You Should Know.”

Take a look at this 26,000 year old carved sculpture. Humans were interested in portraiture earlier than previously thought.

Our favorite dinosaur, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, had a complex structure of teeth for a specific, and lethal, purpose.Β  It also had the most powerful bite of any terrestrial animal, living or extinct.

Believe it or not, a certain ilk of political persuasion strongly feels that NOAA satellites are a waste of money. Well, if the life-saving data they provide isn’t enough to justify their worth, maybe this will help.

Meteorology & Climatology

Let’s start off our atmospheric science reads with the National Climactic Data Center’s State of the Climate overview for 2012. From drought to wildfires to Sandy, it was quite an eventful year.

Every state in the contiguous 48 had an above average year for warmth in 2012. NOAA takes a look back at the warmest year yet.

North American isn’t the only continent which is took a beating from the heat. Australia has baked in a heatwave the smashed all records. Yes, climate change is not only for the northern hemisphere. It high time that the scientific evidence was no longer ignored.

The American Meteorological Society has a nice profile on broadcast meteorologist Jim Gandy (WLTX in Columbia, SC) and his endeavors to convey the complex nature of climate change to his viewers.

Few natural phenomenon carry as many myths as the tornado. Chuck Doswell very efficiently drives a stake through the heart of some very dangerous fallacies that still run rampant.

Check out the U.S. Tornado Environment Browser from NOAA. For a tornado statistics and history fan like me, this is really awesome.

While we’re on the topic of tornadoes, from June 24, 2012 to January 30, 2013, there were no tornado fatalities in the United States. That was the longest period of time since official records began without a tornado fatality. Unfortunately, a tornado in GA ended the fatality-free period of 200+ days.

The NWS Enhanced Data Display (experimental) is really nice and has a wide variety of data for all of us weather geeks. Check it out!

The Water Cycle is a fascinating process that is always in full gear. Here’s an awesome diagram for kids that’s even printable!

Medical technology isn’t just for the life sciences. Scientists are giving mathematical techniques used for medical analysis a shot at diagnosing climate model data.

Settle into your favorite reading chair for a long, but very interesting read. The National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee has released the draft of their climate assessment report.

Phil Plait (aka Bad Astronomer) can’t write a bad article. His take on Debunking the Denial: “16 Years of No Global Warming” is a great read.

There’s no denying that denying climate change is common among people that either (a) are apathetic, or (b) have particular financial, legal, or political interests that keep them turning a blind eye to the science they find so threatening. How do you respond to them?

With climate change well underway, the risks of Sandy-like storm surge events is on the upswing leaving tens of millions of people living along United States coastlines increasingly vulnerable.

Rossby waves are a very important element in the grand picture of global jet streams and climate trends. If you’re not sure what they are, here’s a good primer to get you started.

Air and moisture aren’t the only things transported by upper level winds. Add microbes to the list.

The National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, OK needs your winter weather precipitation reports. Snow, sleet, freezing rain, et al. are needed from citizen scientists just like you. You can report online or download the iOS or Android apps for citizen science reports on the go.

Not only does the NSSL need your winter weather reports, they could use you as a Skywarn spotter. Many of you know that I’m a very strong advocate for citizen science. Is being a Skywarn spotter part of citizen science? You bet. Life-saving information is conveyed to the National Weather Service every year by dedicated spotters in the field. So, don your critical thinking cap, brush up on your fluid dynamics, and sign up to help save lives. Here’s the caveat! It’s a serious commitment & has nothing to do with adrenaline junkies or getting your video on television or YouTube…so think very carefully before you get involved. You can find out if your local National Weather Service has Skywarn training classes scheduled by simply clicking on this map of NWS forecast offices.

Last but not least, in spite of it being January, everyone should be aware of severe weather hazards that happen year round.

And that’s a wrap for January, 2013. I hope everyone’s new year has gotten off to a prosperous and rousing start. Til next time…

Cheers!

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