Monthly Archives: June, 2013

Busy Week Ahead & Independence Day Holiday

Due to a full dance card, I’ll be putting off the post of “Gee-O-Science” links until after the USA Independence Day holiday. I’ve also got a few other projects that are screaming for completion. In the meantime, if you’re sweltering in the western US heat wave, stay cool & hydrated…Happy Canada Day to my Canadian followers…and Happy Independence Day to you good folks in the US of A. Speciell hälsningarna till min följde efter i Skandinavien. hoppas du er njuta av din sommar!

As usual, I’ll always be prowling round Twitter… 🙂

Cheers!

Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links for June 9 – 22, 2013

Across the great plains of North America, signs of the “death ridge” are settling in as severe weather events across the southern plains become less frequent. After the incredible & violent spectacle of May, a ridge of high pressure is a welcome relief to many. While we (specifically Oklahomans) are licking our wounds, lets take a look at the past two weeks. A few articles go back to January, 2013…all still relevant and timely…I simply didn’t have the time to include them in previous posts. Enjoy!

GENERAL SCIENCE

A very enjoyable episode of “To The Best Of Our Knowledge” where the relationship between humans and chimpanzees is explored.

The U.S. science fleet is on the budget chopping block and, in just a little over a decade, will be half its current size.

Should parents worry about energy drinks? Consider the fact that caffeine is an unregulated drug with behavioral & physiological ramifications…

Summer solstice is here. Find out where our solstice traditions come from.

Speaking of summer, it’s a great time to get outdoors with your kids and explore nature. From plants to insects to clouds, there’s always something interesting.

SCIENCE EDUCATION

Kansas’ new science standards finally make evolution and climate change a key part of science education curriculum. Hopefully, many other states will follow suit very soon.

TECHNOLOGY

I use two browsers…Firefox & Opera…and no others. For both, Ghostery is a must-have add on. As you use Ghostery, you’ll be shocked at the numbers of trackers, ads, etc. that follow you online.

DuckDuckGo is a favorite search engine of mine. Read how a physicist made a search engine that doesn’t follow you.

This could easily fall under atmospheric science, citizen science, or technology. I decided to go with the latter. Smart phones can be used to gather weather data across the world.

The perfect length of a tweet? 140 characters? Wrong…71-100.

ASTRONOMY

Twice the daily high/low temperature forecasting fun…but on Mars!

A fun read with theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss about the origins of the universe.

Not all of the energy blasted toward the Earth in a CME makes it here. Some of that mass goes right back into the sun.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

A tale of two arid cities. Phoenix has plentiful water. Tuscon, well, they’re a different story.

You can never start recycling too young. Read how school kids  convinced Crayola to start recycling their pens.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

Take a look at the Americas on June 21…summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere.

Rare noctilucent clouds have been appearing earlier and farther south than ever before.

Summer heat means summer ozone levels go through the roof in many metro areas. Tulsa is just one of many American cities that has a good website with beneficial info.

Here’s some citizen science & atmospheric science rolled into one. Join CoCoRaHS and become a part of  the largest provider of daily precipitation observations in the United States. CoCoRaHS also exists in Canada too!

NASA is taking part in a very cool research project to ascertain the role of Saharan dust in Atlantic tropical cyclone formation.

From Asia to Europe, several cities could be at risk of flooding induced by climate change.

As our climate changes, interactions with warming ocean waters are responsible for much of the ice sheet melting in Antarctica.

Researchers have traced the cause of vast melting of the Greenland ice sheet in the summer of 2012 to changes in the jet stream.

NASA is tracking greenhouse gases released as Artic ice melts.

Some climate scientists are wondering if a sleeping climate giant is stirring in the Artic. Chances are, the answer is, “yes.”

Some research shows global cooling (116 million years ago) was as significant as current global warming.

As of this writing, Alaska is in the midst of a heat wave with temps that would make southerners proud.

The amount of dust blowing across western parts of the USA is increasing. Judging by the number of dust storms/haboobs in recent years, it’s hard to ignore the upswing in frequency.

Long-term drought conditions in the southwest USA can have far reaching effects on forests around the globe.

Plants are amazingly sophisticated forms of life & can even help in detecting drought conditions.

Here’s an interesting read on the surprising role of CO2 in changes on the African savanna.

During mid June, Alaska had some record high temperatures. Take a look at a rare and almost cloud-free satellite image of the USA’s largest state.

Check out this fascinating time-lapse view of the birth of a supercell thunderstorm.

The Tulsa National Weather Service has issued their Spring 2013 edition of the Tulsa Tornado Tribune (12 page PDF file). From May snow to May tornadoes, the Tulsa forecast area had it all.

Broadcast meteorologist James Spann gets right to the point when he explains why Facebook is a horrible platform for disseminating life-saving severe weather warnings.  Twitter & Google+ are the ways to go.

Structural engineers have released detailed studies of the damage pattern from the 22 May 2011 Joplin, MO tornado. Much of the damage and deaths can be attributed to winds less than 135 mph. That should come as no surprise since construction (both residential and commercial) is largely substandard.

One month on…a look back at the severe weather in OK in May 19 and May 20 including the devastating Moore, OK EF-5 tornado.

Chuck Doswell chimes in on the recent events in storm chasing with a must-read essay: Storm Chasing’s Day Of Infamy

Dr. Doswell also wrote a good piece on a topic that will be around for some time to come: The EF-Scale Ratings Brouhaha

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE…

Surely the parties in question didn’t believe that any intelligent person would condone this racket…especially in the 21st century.

After taking in the above rubbish of dubious integrity, the inimitable Richard Dawkins has a concise reply regarding science in general.

Midsummer is upon us. Scandinavians, Swedes in particular, celebrate the longest day for the northern hemisphere in a big way and far better than anyone else.

A belated “happy summer solstice” for you folks in the Northern Hemisphere. Stay cool, hydrated, & enjoy the warmth. Each day from now until late December will be slightly shorter…and winter will be here before we know it. I’ll have a post out next week with more goodies, including a quick retrospective on the May 31, 2013 El Reno, OK tornado event.

Cheers!

One Month On…A Look Back At The Moore, OK Tornado #okwx

It’s hard to believe that one month has passed since the devastating EF-5 tornado carved a path of destruction through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, OK. Twenty-four people were killed, including seven students at an elementary school, along a seventeen mile long path. If you have a while, watch this live coverage from KWTV in Oklahoma City. Few other cities will experience this kind of scenario, even fewer will have viewers watching a life-threatening situation unfold before their eyes. Both the Oklahoma City and Tulsa broadcast meteorologists had their hands full & gave “multi-tasking” a new definition.

Many folks across OK still need help. If you’d like to offer assistance, a donation to the Red Cross would be greatly appreciated.

For the northern hemisphere, summer is on our doorstep. Here’s to a pleasantly warm, but beneficially wet, summer season. After last month, we need a break.

Cheers!

Tornado Quest “Gee-O-Science” Links for June 1-8, 2013

To ease the blog load, I’ve decided to make the Tornado Quest “Gee-O-Science links post a weekly feature. Sorting through up to 250 articles once a month can be a daunting, time consuming task, especially with my current schedule. Lots of good stuff out there for your reading pleasure, so let’s get started…

GENERAL SCIENCE

Conveying scientific principles to the general public can be tricky for the average journalist. Here are some techniques that will help make that article click.

Open access scholarly publications are invaluable as open education resources. Lets hope the trend of open access continues.

Stunning images can be taken from low earth orbit. Here are over 100 images that are sure to be a treat for your eyes.

Putting together a family disaster kit can be frustrating and confusing. Fortunately, FEMA has some good info to help you get started.

Here’s a list of dozens of apps & sites for teaching that’s bound to have something for everyone.

CITIZEN SCIENCE

An excellent post on the rebirth of citizen science and open innovation.

Caren Cooper has written an excellent essay on “The Citizen Science of Climate Change: we are not bystanders.”

TECHNOLOGY

Social media is revolutionizing the way information and data is disseminated during disaster response.

It’s no surprise to me that Twitter takes top honors (at least in this one opinion) for online trustworthiness.

It’s a bit much to call all of these “obsolete”, but more people than you think are still using technologies that have been around for ages.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES

Noctilucent clouds are very rare. I’ve love to see them some day. Recently, some were observed over northern Ireland.

Landspouts on the high plains can be spectacular. Here’s a nice video of some in CO that occurred in early June 2013. Note the multiple vortex structure at the 20 second mark.

This handy page will help you locate your local National Weather Service office on Twitter or Facebook.

If you’re a major league weather “geek” like me, even this site with live data from hurricane hunter reconnaissance missions is fascinating.

Could lightning provide earlier tornado warnings? Maybe, but maybe not…read on.

There are many things that can be learned by the May 2013 tornado events in Oklahoma. Here’s an excellent post.

Recently, the WeatherBrains show had and excellent array of guest discussing not only the recent Oklahoma tornadoes, but severe weather forecasting and storm chasing in general. You can watch or listen to it here on YouTube.

The University of Oklahoma’s RaXpol mobile radar got some amazingly spectacular data on the El Reno, OK tornado of 31 May 2013. Here’s some detailed info on the equipment.

Here’s a nice look at the El Reno tornadic supercell as it passed through central OK. A very dangerous HP supercell indeed. Fortunately, storms of this kind are a rare breed.

The OKC metro television coverage of the El Reno, OK tornado has caused quite a stir like nothing I’ve seen. Here’s one of many posts/essays online you can read and come to your own conclusion.

Here’s the Public Information Statement from the Norman, OK NWS with info on the EF-5 rating of the El Reno, OK tornado.

The El Reno tornado has also stirred up consternation regarding the EF-5 rating which, by some accounts, needs a second look.

Could UAV’s aka “drones” replace storm chasers?

The Moore, OK tornado of 20 May 2013 not only devastated a significant part of that city, but left a scar visible to a NASA satellite.

This guest post by severe weather researcher Harold Brooks is a good read. Unfortunately, it’s overwhelmed by the number of comments. Regardless, Brooks is spot on.

Read how meteorologist Stu Ostro came to a change of heart & mind regarding climate change.

This is a very nice presentation with Stu Ostro, Jennifer Francis, & Chris Mooney on the science behind climate change. The presentation starts at approximately the 1:10:00 mark.

AND FINALLY…

I was left speechless after watching this video. I’m truly gobsmacked & at a loss for words…

Ah well…  :-/

Till min följde efter i Skandinavien , Jag hoppa det du er får klar till njuta av den längst dag om år!

Hope everyone has a great week…peace & cheers!

Gee-O-Science Links for May, 2013

Running a few days late due to local severe weather events, but here’s May’s post. Hope you enjoy.

To say that May, 2013 was histrionic (in a weather way) is a vast understatement. A cool spell across the plains, including record latest snowfalls in OK, got the month off to an unusual start. But the most notable climactic characteristic  of May for North America, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, made up for lost time with a multi-day severe weather episode that reached it’s peak with the EF-5 tornado that damaged much of Moore, OK and killed 24 people. The large volume of atmospheric science links I’ve compiled for this month dictates that I’ll be using most of this post for those topics and combine general science, tech, social science, etc. together…so let’s get started.

GENERAL SCIENCE/TECH/SOCIAL MEDIA/SOCIAL SCIENCE

My, how far we’ve come. Here’s a look back at science labs over the past few centuries.

Take a visit to The People’s Science whose purpose is to increase communication between scientists and the general public.

Light pollution is a constant annoyance for many photographers and astronomers. Now there are two new citizen science apps to measure light pollution.

Got a green thumb? Why not make a garden that’s a haven for wildlife & chip in on some citizen science at the same time?

When I was a kid, the school bullies had a field day teasing me about my interest in dinosaurs. Looks like I won in the long run.

This comes as no surprise to me. Political ideology affects energy-efficiency attitudes and choices.

Daniel Dennett, whom I admire a great deal, has a new book out that I’m itching to read!

Skeptics (including yours truly) are often misunderstood and mislabeled “everythingologists.”  The reality is otherwise.

Our climate is changing…and so is the English language. The Grapes of Wrath and the language of the Dust Bowl.

Have a tough decision to make? Give the 10/10/10 rule a try.

Some new tech gadgets are pretty cool, but this is a first. Meet Memoto, an automatic life-logging camera.

Yahoo, in a desperate attempt to appear appealing to my fellow Gen Xr’s and younger crowd, bought Tumblr. No, I’m not happy. I’ve had a Tornado Quest Tumblr blog for many years. All I can say is…Yahoo, you’d better not screw this up.

Affirmations can be a great mental boost to help you though the good and bad times of life. Here are some knowledge affirmations, many of which I thought were quite helpful.

If there ever was a browser add-on that I couldn’t live without, Ghostery would be the one. It’s available for Firefox & Opera and I can’t recommend it highly enough. They’ve put together a very clever list of trackers that’s modeled after the periodic table of elements. As the saying goes, “know thine enemy.”

Which company protects your privacy the most or least? Check out this list. There are some pleasant surprises & disappointments.

There’s a reason all of my photography that’s posted online is watermarked & copyrighted & I suggest others follow suit.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES: METEOROLOGY

NOAA has released their research & development five year strategic plan for 2013-2017.

Infrastructure around the US is in dire need of replacement. Very important parts of the weather forecasting process are not immune.

Are you following your local National Weather Service office on Twitter? Here’s a very comprehensive list.

Hurricane Preparedness Week is May 26 – June 1…here’s what you need to know…and prepare now.

Speaking of hurricane preparations, taping windows is useless. Here’s info on why it’s a waste of time, money, & could be increasing danger to yourself and others.

Researchers are working on a new way of measuring the destructive potential of hurricanes.

Why are hurricanes given names? Here’s the reason why.

The Center For Disease Control (CDC) has released some very interesting data on deaths associated with Hurricane Sandy.

While on the topic of Sandy, that storm forced third-most  people from their homes worldwide for the year 2012.

Lofted by hurricanes, some bacteria is living the high life right outside of your airplane window.

Some tropical cloudiness apparently likes to “fly” by its own rules.

Atmosphere agitated by breaking waves…an interesting read in the physics of fluid dynamics.

Interesting new information on cirrus clouds forming around mineral dust and metallic particles.

The “haves” and the “have nots.”  The US is a nation divided (as of late May, 2013) by drought.

The MPEX (pronounced “em-pex”) Mesoscale Predictability Experiment runs from 15 May to 15 June and will study where and when thunderstorms form along the CO front range & adjacent great plains.

Here’s a very nice article on a fascinating wind phenomenon known as “sting jets.”

Global Warming vs Climate Change: Is there a difference? Do we need to change terms? Perhaps not.

There’s much news circulating today about the concentration of carbon dioxide topping 440 ppm. Here’s just one of many articles, more here & here. But nothing can beat NOAA’s Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii for solid data.

More carbon dioxide is good for the environment. And so is addiction to nicotine. Keeps the tobacco industry healthy & robust. Makes sense…right?

There’s nothing like a good discussion over a glass of fine wine. Here’s 99 one-liners that’s bound to help liven up the evening. From personal experience, you can’t change their mind if they see science as an enemy of a “free” society. Trust me.

Many species of plants and animals are just as vulnerable to our rapidly changing climate.

As glaciers melt and retreat, they’re exposing long-frozen species of plants…some of which are coming back to life.

Alaska’s not only the largest state in the USA, but one that struggles with the meshing of politics and climate change.

A very clear statement from the American Meteorological Society on the inclusion of climate science in science education.

Does climate change play a part in the frequency and/or intensity of tornadoes? There could be a connection, but most scientists agree we need more research.

The Moore, OK tornado of 20 May 2013 brought back to the forefront of tornado discussions the 3 May 1999 OK/KS outbreak. Here’s the NOAA service assessment (51 page PDF file) of the largest tornado outbreak in OK history.

Discriminating between EF-4 and EF-5 damage can be a daunting task for even the most seasoned meteorologists with vast experience in tornado path surveys. Here’s a very nice slide presentation (26 slide PDF file) that has some great information.

Tornadoes of F-5/EF-5 intensity are exceptionally rare. Here’s a map and list of all the F-5/EF-5 tornadoes in the US since 1950 (the year official tornado records began). OK & AL are tied for 1st place with seven each.

Many folks have questions about the Enhanced Fujita Scale. This is a good primer to get you started.

The Atlantic magazine has some awe-inspiring images of tornado damage in Moore, OK. As graphic as the photos are, they can’t replace being there and seeing this magnitude of damage first hand.

This “swipe map” shows the jaw-dropping effects of the Moore, OK EF-5 tornado. A great deal of information can be deciphered from observing damage in a before/after format.

This time lapse video of the Moore, OK tornado speaks volumes about the various changes and fluid dynamics of the tornado life cycle.

Here’s the first Public Information Statement from the Norman, OK NWS rating the Moore, OK tornado as an EF-5.

A good read from a SPC meteorologist on the forecasting challenges of the May 31, 2013 tornado outbreak in the plains. Meteorology is one of the few occupations where many critical life and death decisions are made trying to second guess something as chaotic and erratic as the earth’s atmosphere.

Wrapping this up, here’s a nice piece from the Capital Weather Gang written in light of some unfortunate encounters storm chasers had with tornadoes in central OK on May 31, 2013.

It’s quite likely that I’ll be doing a weekly post of geoscience & science links if for no other reason than to spread out the workload. Some of the information is also time sensitive, especially in today’s “this morning’s news is yesterday’s history” state of mind.

See you…soon!

Maybe even next week.

Cheers!

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