Tornado Quest Science Links And Much More For July 5 – 15, 2015

Summer has settled in over the southern plains of the USA with the annual vengeance. With the exception of a recent rainy spell complete with flash flood warnings and plenty of fuel to fire a bumper crop of hungry, vindictive mosquitoes, heat indices have been brutal even without the air temperature reaching the century mark. It’s all part of life in this neck of the woods. Fire and ice. If you’re a native to the region like me, you know it takes a thick skin to “weather the weather.” With the severe weather season winding down overall, it is a perfect time for those of us into the atmospheric sciences to stretch our wings and explore different weather and climate vistas; tropical weather (sans tropical cyclones), global wind patterns, climate change, dual-pol doppler radar case studies, atmospheric chemistry, or the ever-present connection between weather, climate, and life forms of all kinds. There’s an almost endless and ever-changing continuum of fascinating atmospheric science topics for the taking and, if you dare step out of your comfort zone, a great deal of knowledge can be yours. As one of my meteorological mentors emphasized with me over 30 years ago, “Everything about the atmosphere and every science related to it is fascinating. If it isn’t, you’re just a one-trick-pony and need to find another interest.” If variety is the spice of life, it is exceptionally important in the sciences. On a more personal note; I’m temporarily back up to speed for the time being. Ongoing heath issues are the reason I’ve had to spread recent posts out several days apart. Friendly suggestion: never take good health for granted. Thanks for the words of encouragement and concern from followers and online friends. You know who you are…and I know who is on my side. Your support, regardless of whether is in-person or from thousands of miles away, is something I appreciate a great deal. Thank you!

For your consideration, here are this week’s links…

GENERAL SCIENCE

A fascinating, but rather technical, read on the limitations of statistics in scientific research.

“For women who aspire to the sciences, a sense of belonging is a powerful force in determining the path they take.”

TECHNOLOGY/SOCIAL MEDIA/PRIVACY

An excellent essay covering anonymity online…which is becoming more difficult to maintain in lieu of convenience.

Some good news for fellow Firefox users…Mozilla is taking Flash down and hard.

PHYSICS

Here’s some awesome physics news on the building blocks of our universe. “World record: Most powerful high-energy particle beam for a neutrino experiment ever generated.

ASTRONOMICAL SCIENCE

Ten years in the making, NASA’s New Horizons reached the pinnacle of a 3 billion mile voyage to Pluto. The images are amazing!

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE/RENEWABLES

Smoke from recent Alaskan and Canadian wildfires has been taking a significant toll on contiguous USA air quality.

NASA captured from space the annual population of algae (the blue-green color of the phytoplankton) in the North Atlantic reaching towards its peak.

For seasonal allergy sufferers, the BBC takes a look at the science behind the summer pollen count in the UK.

Worse than allergies…new research shows approximately 9,500 people die every year in London from air pollution.

Both and environmental and atmospheric science essay where the title says it all. “The Oceans can’t take any more: Fundamental change in oceans predicted.”

Suger-coating the issue or avoiding being labeled “doom and gloom” won’t make the potential environmental disaster go away.

For decades, the fossil fuel industry (by some accounts) has been involved in a game of public deception that continues to this day.

Some great news on the renewables front. Kenya is building Africa’s biggest wind power farm to generate one fifth of its power needs.

Want more awesome renewables news? Denmark just generated 140 percent of its electrical needs from wind power.

Here’s even more good renewables news! The price of solar power has once again dropped to a new low!

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

The National Weather Service recently implemented new graphics on their websites which will make it easier for you to interpret forecasts and how they will impact your day-to-day life.

The National Weather Service needs your feedback in another very important (and potentially life-saving) topic: Severe Weather Impact Graphics. These have, IMHO, been exceptionally effective in giving you important severe thunderstorm and tornado warning impact information that can be found nowhere else. Your local NWS office will issue these products over social media (specifically Twitter). You can also follow @NWSSevereTstorm and/or @NWSTornad0 on Twitter and get every severe thunderstorm warning and tornado warning issued for the USA. This example of a Tornado Warning from the National Weather Service in Tulsa, OK is a good example of a Severe Weather Impact Graphic.

NWS Tulsa Tornado WarningTake careful notice of the plethora of information you get in addition to the warning over your NOAA weather radio. Population, the area in square miles, number of public schools, hospitals, airports, etc. are included. The time the warning is valid til is also included as well as storm information regarding movement and hazards. Media meteorologists (whom you should follow…your personal favorites of your choice) are excellent at conveying this information to the public. Ultimately, your first line of defense in a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning scenario is knowledge and awareness of impacts to your and your loved ones…and that comes from the National Weather Service…and no one else…storm chasers and weather hobbyists in particular.

While on the topic of severe weather warnings and the use (and abuse) of social media to disseminate warning information, here’s a spot-on essay that shows just hot bad the deterioration, specifically with Twitter, has become with bots and “mediarologists” run amok.

The PECAN severe storm research project has been gathering some incredible data this spring across the Great Plains. I can’t wait to see the data presented at conferences!

Good advice. “Keep calm and stop obsessing over weekly changes in ENSO.”

As if the western USA drought wasn’t bad enough, an unusually hot summer is raising the misery index for many residents of Washington to Utah.

The heat has also been problematic in Europe as well. “Heat records all over: The Northern Hemisphere Is In Hot Water.”

“Which Advanced Country Has The Most Climate Sceptics?” No, it’s not the United States. Yes, some of the internet’s most notoriously hostile climate change denialists live there.

As of late, there’s been a rubbish story making the rounds that an “ice age” is imminent. Don’t believe it for a minute.

“Nobel Prize-Winning Scientists Call For Action To Minimize The Substantial Risks Of Climate Change.”

The IPCC is at a crossroads with many key points to consider. Here’s an excellent essay that provides the reader with a concise overview.

Why do people in the path of a hurricane ignore evacuation orders?

Speaking of storm safety, is this tornado photo an awesome childhood experience or reckless parenting? My main concern would be the lightning danger…which is always a potentially lethal killer in every thunderstorm.

Last but certainly not least, here’s some “bookmark worthy” summer heat safety tips from the NWS that will help keep you and your family safe from this underrated killer.

THE QUIXOTIC

Some people, in spite of being the beneficiaries of broadcast meteorologists, simply can’t wrap their heads around the importance of potentially life-saving information. Sadly, this is an all-too common behavioral phenomenon.

ON A BRIGHTER NOTE…

In our contemporary society where technology reigns 24/7…this could be just the ticket to de-stressing from our obsession with being plugged in.

Now dust off those coloring pencils and crayons…and de-stress! 🙂

Cheers!

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