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!

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