Monthly Archives: January, 2014

Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links For Jan. 20 – 27, 2014

It’s been an active week in science news from many areas of study. Weather wise, a severe drought continues across parts of the contiguous USA from OK and TX westward to CA. As of this post, many southern states are taking a shellacking from a rare and robust winter storm. While it may look laughable, keep in mind that southern winter storms often have freezing rain (aka a  layer if ice) below just a couple of inches of snow…ergo, the gridlock that’s paralyzing many metro areas. As a veteran of many devastating ice storms in OK, I’ll take 18″ of powdery snow any day over 1/2″ of ice.

Let’s take a look at this week’s links…

CITIZEN SCIENCE

Citizen scientists can not only gather data for scientists, but increase the quality of research.

Here’s a very nice interview with biologist Caren Cooper, “How Rise of Citizen Science Is Democratizing Research.”

Are you a teacher? Ever wonder if citizen science benefits your students? Good news…yes it does!

SOCIAL SCIENCE/EDUCATION

There’s something to be said for “snow days” and this article renews my belief in them.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Considering the tinderbox conditions that are plaguing much of the USA, here are some tips on conserving water.

I’m looking forward to some good info from a new journal from the American Geophysical Union called Earth’s Future.

The EU has taken on an ambitious quest to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030.

GEOLOGICAL SCIENCE

The USA’s Grand Canyon is old…but new studies show it may have formed more recently than previously though.

Read how a virtual earthquake generator shows that Los Angeles would experience stronger-than-expected ground motions.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

A new NASA satellite will be launched in February, 2014 and do something pretty amazing…measure precipitation from space.

Part climatology, part business: “Industry Awakens To Threat Of Climate Change

Was there a recent hiatus in global warming? Simply put, no.

Arctic sea ice is melting rapidly…freefall style.

If you’ve not seen this wind map, take a look and have fun interacting.

The big Superbowl game is coming soon. UCAR/NCAR takes a look at forecasting the big game: 1967 vs. 2014.

While a rare winter snow storm gives Dixie a southern shellacking, Alaska basked in record January warmth.

FIGHTING FIRE WITH FIRE

Considering the abundance of vitriol spreading from nefarious trolls that’s aimed at the scientific community, here are several items worth reading. Most of the titles speak for themselves.This is as much a sociological and/or psychological look into a certain element of human behavior as it is a documentation of a plethora of anti-science elements in media…both broadcast, print, or social media.  I’m offering for your consideration the following articles under the spirit of, “know thy enemy.”

I’ve been described as being “polite to a fault” by an evangelical Christian minister no less. Are scientists (both professional and citizen) too polite?

An insider’s story of the global attack on climate science.

Targets of climate hate mail rally to support one another.

Why conservatives can’t resist “snow trolling.”

Climate and vaccine deniers are the same: Beyond Persuasion.

As for the trolls…why we can’t ignore Twitter abuse: a guest post by a police officer.

Speaking of trolls, they are often two-faced. Critical of the trolling in person while anonymously engaging in the behavior behind the safety of their monitors. They often lead two lives.

Normally, I try to “tweet with a smile” but this is not often the best policy to adhere to for every single tweet or post…especially in an increasingly hostile social media environment. Your perceptions of the information I pass along are your responsibility regardless of whether you agree with me or not. Having said that, it’s my intention to leave the world a better place for our children and the many generations to follow. We owe it to them.

And on that note, it’s a wrap…

Cheers!

Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links For Jan. 13 – 20, 2014

A relatively quiet weather week has been on hand for most of North America save for the latest snowstorm which, as of this post, is blanketing much of the northeast with several inches of snow. As for climate, the big news of the week was NOAA’s State Of The Climate Report which reviewed 2013 and gave us no surprises for long-term climate trends…our planet is warming.

Here are this week’s links…

HISTORY OF SCIENCE

The history of science has always fascinated me and this article is no exception. Take a look at these amazing old medical illustrations.

CITIZEN SCIENCE

This could easily go under the ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE category, but I want to emphasize the importance of the citizen scientists with the mPING app from the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, OK. Anyone with a iOS or Android smart phone can download the app (which is amazingly small compared to so many other apps) and year round contribute to weather research by reporting your weather conditions.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Would I invite an environmentalist  to a party? You bet I would. But, like so many other science fields, there are unfair “stereotypes” that taint the non-scientists’ view of certain professions or fields of study.

ASTRONOMY

Smile Earthlings! You had your photo taken from a point in our solar system very near Saturn.

An amazing story that is sadly ignored. If there was anyone who deserves a follow on Twitter, it’s this astronaut.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

Most of the atmospheric science community is VERY tired of hearing the polar vortex over-hype. I’d like to think the AMS has put a stake through the heart of a term that has been around for decades…and is nothing new.

A fascinating read that’s part science history, part climatology. What caused a 10-year winter starting in 536?

A great read by Brad Panovich that all aspiring and/or hobbyist meteorologists should read: Wishcasting versus Forecasting.

An interesting project is underway with NASA drones studying the western Pacific stratosphere.

Several good climate reads this week…starting with this one: Andrew Dessler’s testimony on what we know about climate change…and from Real Climate: If You See Something, Say Something.

Finally, here’s NOAA’s comprehensive State Of The Climate Report. Pour yourself a cup of your favorite beverage and settle in for a spell. There’s a lot of data to absorb here but the message is more than clear.

Have a great week everyone…

Cheers!

Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links For Jan. 6 – 13, 2014

It’s hard to believe that the first month of a new year is half over, but I guess time flies when you’re having fun. I’m running a couple of days late on my weekly post due to previous commitments that took far too much time to complete. At least the journey to the finished product was enjoyable.

Here’s a look at a few links for this week…

CITIZEN SCIENCE

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has revamped its Citizen Science website, “to assist the public in conducting scientific research and collecting data to better understand their local environment and address issues of concern.” Information via the SciStarter blog. 

This article from SciStarter looks at the connections between children, citizen science, privacy, and COPPA compliance.

TECHNOLOGY

Net neutrality took a big blow this week.

ASTRONOMY

Ten years of amazing Rover action on Mars…and here’s to many more!

When you can’t measure the wind speed and direction on other planets, just use the sand dunes as “windsocks.”

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Make no mistake about it. There’s no such thing as “clean” coal. Here’s a thought-provoking read on Australia’s use of the old-hat fossil fuel.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

NOAA’s National Climactic Data Center has released their latest State Of The Climate report. Some fascinating data here. It is a must-read.

A very good read that’s more than timely ~ Global Warming: The Conversation We Need To Have

A very thoughtful essay on attacks targeting climate scientists.

While North America froze during the recent “polar vortex” cold snap, Scandinavia basked in unusually mild winter weather.

There are many ways of recording temperature on the Earth. Here’s a good read on utilizing satellites for that purpose.

The Tulsa World has a very nice “behind the scenes” look at the Tulsa, OK National Weather Service including some important food for thought (i.e. the silly myth that Tulsa can’t be hit by a major (EF-4/5) tornado).

And speaking of potential disasters, 2013 was a big year for major disasters of all kinds across all points on the globe.

Finally, “We The Geeks” is an enjoyable video to watch with a host of great guests. And yes, they talked about the much maligned “polar vortex” that so many curmudgeons are dismissing.

Have a great week everybody…

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

An inside look at the Tulsa NWS @NWStulsa office from Tulsa World h/t @FredOrth

It’s not often that we get an inside look at the operations of a National Weather Service office. The Tulsa World has written a nice article that takes us inside the Tulsa National Weather Service that not only gives a glimpse of the day-to-day operations, but points out some things that make the Tulsa office unique compared to other NWSFO & a badly needed reminder that Tulsa is just as vulnerable as Moore, OK or Joplin, MO to a devastating tornado. As the 2013 severe weather season wound down across the great plains, I thought back about the events of this past spring and years past and couldn’t help but think, “There’s no reason why those devastating events can’t happen here.” Reading the article brought back a flood of great memories. If you’ll bear with me, I’d like to share some with you.

My first visits to the Tulsa NWSFO were back in the mid 1970’s when it was still located at the southwestern portion of Tulsa International Airport. By today’s standards, the equipment was primitive. Upon entering the main forecast room, I felt like I’d entered a “nirvana” of sorts. Looking back, I wonder how, in such cramped conditions, they managed to crank out forecasts and handle the mayhem and multi-tasking that probably took place during many severe weather events. One wall held countless weather maps, most transmitted by facsimile, others carefully drawn with hand analysis. To the right was the teletype room that so often was filled with the din of machines banging out various weather products. The smell of the oil, ink, and heat from those teletypes is still so vivid to me. Across the hall was the radar room. Always darkened, the radar sat with its WSR-57 scope softly glowing. Rain showers and thunderstorms appeared like ghostly blobs on the screen. Farther back were the Meteorologist In Charge office and another separate room. Overall, the working conditions were cramped, dated, and lacking any creature comforts. Yet for 365 days a year and 24/7, the Tulsa meteorologists worked diligently at forecasts, hourly observations, and quite often, life saving warnings.

I’ll never forget the meteorologists that took me under their wings and patiently answered the incessant questions of this wide-eyed 14-year-old weather geek. Ben Barker was the Meteorologists In Charge (MIC) and he, along with Lloyd Spyres and Jim Irwin, were never anything but gracious and welcoming to me on the countless visits I made there over an eight year period. Ben Barker helped me with a career planning project for my 8th grade Civics & Economics class and gave me my first radiosonde…which I still treasure with a great deal of sentiment. Jim Irwin was always happy to help explain the technical side of things. I vividly recall him taking 30 minutes of his time to explain to me how to understand and interpret SKEW-T data. Lloyd Spyres was also such a gracious mentor in so many ways. On one of my last visits with Lloyd, he listened to my vivid account of the damage from the Mannford and Morris, OK tornadoes of April, 1984. After patiently listening to me, he smiled and agreed that severe weather is indeed interesting but if tornadoes and severe thunderstorms were the only part of the atmospheric sciences that I was interested in, I was selling myself short and missing out on the main point of meteorology…the entire planet is covered in this fantastic ocean of air we live at the bottom of…and there’s always interesting weather going on. “It’s all interesting, everything about the physics of the atmosphere is fascinating. It’s not just about storms, that’s not the point.”

It’s all interesting. Those words have stuck in my mind for almost 30 years. On rare occasions, I have to remind myself of the sage wisdom that Lloyd shared with me that day. I very subtle ways, Ben Barker and Jim Irwin also conveyed the same message to me. All too often in social media, I’ll come across folks who mean well, but whose entire interest in weather encompasses little more than severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. It’s not my place to “correct” them, but I have to bite my tongue and realize that I was like that as a young teenager. Still, if a person’s only interested in severe weather, they’re missing the point. All weather is  interesting.

My thanks to Tulsa World for a nice article about the hard-working folks at the Tulsa NWS and @FredOrth for sharing this article with me.

I’m looking forward to a rainy Friday tomorrow and a pleasant warm-up for the weekend. Why? Because it’s weather…and all weather is interesting.

Cheers!

 

Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links For Dec. 30, 2013 – Jan. 6, 2014

I hope everyone in the US & Canada is weathering the “polar vortex” and staying warm. The polar vortex is nothing new. I recall one meteorologist explaining what basically amounts to a polar vortex to me back in the mid 1980’s.

Here’s a look at this week’s links…

GENERAL SCIENCE

A good read for non-scientists…how to read and understand a scientific paper.

Communicating science to non-scientists can be a daunting challenge for many scientists. Here are a few habits that don’t work.

Sadly, in spite of well established scientific facts, this is still an issue in 2013 C.E.

TECHNOLOGY

My, how far we’ve come. Smartphones, DSLR’s & film. What’s next?

While geared towards business settings, these tips on protecting yourself against a data breach should be considered across the board.

ASTRONOMY

Take a look back at 10 years of spectacular Mars images from the Spirit and Opportunity rovers.

SOCIAL SCIENCE

Recovering from a natural disaster means more than a clean up and rebuild. The social & psychological effects are addressed in this information page from FEMA.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

An ecosystem that has nothing but long-term deleterious consequences…the plastisphere.

Recycling is not a new idea. In fact, it’s been around for hundreds of years.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

The Daily Climate takes a look ahead at the potentially hot (and perennially un-hot sophomoric trolls) of climate news for 2014.

Speaking of lively topics, Ars Technica has taken a bold and very appropriate stance on moderating online discussions that so often are the fodder of climate change denialist trolls. Mind you, professional and objective debate is one (rare) behavior if for no other reason than the scientists who really understand climate have better things to do than waste time on endless discussion threads, but bullying, nefarious trolls spewing impertinence and vitriol is pandemic in the online world.

A very thoughtful essay by Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd reflecting on his year as president of the American Meteorological Society.

2013 will likely be remembered as a good year for climate science, but a mixed bad for climate policy.

And that’s a wrap for this week. I hope everyone’s new year got off to a good start & regardless of the weather, you’re having a grand time.

Cheers!

A Particularily Dangerous Situation…For #Winter Cold

In case you’ve missed it, the latest Wind Chill Warning issued by the National Weather Service in Twin Cities, MN has some very strong wording. Previously, a Particularly Dangerous Situation scenario was only used in relation to Tornado or Severe Thunderstorm Watches. While my intention isn’t to add to any unnecessary hype, this is dangerously cold air and if at all possible, minimize your exposure to it. 

For future reference, NOAA has some great winter weather safety info at the following links:

Winter Weather Safety & Awareness

National Weather Service Wind Chill Chart

Here’s the Wind Chill Warning from the Twin Cities NWS office. One challenge will be the snow driven wind which can reduce visibility in spite of the fact that no snow may be falling.

URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN MN
1014 AM CST SUN JAN 5 2014

...HISTORIC AND LIFE-THREATENING COLD AIR HAS ARRIVED...
...THIS IS A PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION...

.A WIND CHILL WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN
MINNESOTA AND WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN THROUGH NOON TUESDAY.

THE COLDEST AIRMASS SINCE 1996 IS MOVING INTO THE REGION AND WILL
BE WITH US INTO TUESDAY. WIND CHILL VALUES TODAY WILL RANGE FROM
30 BELOW TO 45 BELOW ZERO. TEMPERATURES TONIGHT WILL BOTTOM OUT IN
THE 20S AND 30S BELOW ZERO WITH ONLY A SMALL RECOVERY ON MONDAY.
THE ARCTIC COLD TONIGHT AND MONDAY WILL BE ACCOMPANIED BY BRISK
NORTHWEST WINDS. THE COMBINATION OF THE COLD AND WIND WILL PRODUCE
WIND CHILLS OF 50 BELOW TO 65 DEGREES BELOW.

THIS IS A LIFE THREATENING SITUATION IF YOU BECOME STRANDED. WIND
CHILLS COLDER THAN 50 BELOW CAN CAUSE EXPOSED FLESH TO FREEZE IN
ONLY 5 MINUTES. COVER AS MUCH FLESH AS POSSIBLE WHEN VENTURING OUT
OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS.

THE GUSTY WINDS WILL ALSO BRING AREAS OF BLOWING SNOW TO MUCH OF
THE AREA THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT. WIND GUSTS MAY REACH 35 TO 45
MPH OVER WESTERN AND SOUTHERN MINNESOTA. AS A RESULT...VISIBILITIES
MAY BE REDUCED AT TIMES TO LESS THAN A HALF MILE...WITH NEAR
BLIZZARD CONDITIONS. THIS WILL BRING AN ADDITIONAL LEVEL OF DANGER
TO ANYONE STRANDED.

...WIND CHILL WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON CST TUESDAY... A WIND CHILL WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON CST TUESDAY. * THIS IS A PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION. * WIND CHILL VALUES: 35 TO 65 BELOW...WITH THE COLDEST READINGS TONIGHT AND MONDAY MORNING. * IMPACTS: EXPOSED FLESH WILL FREEZE IN 10 MINUTES WITH WIND CHILLS OF 35 BELOW...AND IN 5 MINUTES WITH WIND CHILLS OF 50 BELOW OR COLDER. * OTHER IMPACTS...WINDS GUSTING BETWEEN 35 AND 45 MPH THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT WILL LEAD TO BLOWING SNOW WITH VISIBILITIES OCCASIONALLY DROPPING TO 1/2 MILE OR LESS IN NEAR BLIZZARD CONDITIONS. SHOULD YOUR VEHICLE BECOME STRANDED... YOUR LIFE WILL BE AT RISK. CONSIDER POSTPONING ALL TRAVEL. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... A WIND CHILL WARNING MEANS THE COMBINATION OF VERY COLD AIR AND STRONG WINDS WILL CREATE DANGEROUSLY LOW WIND CHILL VALUES. THIS WILL RESULT IN FROST BITE AND LEAD TO HYPOTHERMIA OR DEATH IF PRECAUTIONS ARE NOT TAKEN.

Stay safe folks and keep warm!
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