Saturday, April 18, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
Note: The author of this blog has made a classic mistake, mistaking "weather" for "climate". Weather is CNN, climate is the History Channel. You can't look out your window and reach global conclusions, as tempting as that may be. One storm, one front, doesn't mean a thing. Professional skeptics and deniers love to point to one arctic front or one snowstorm and reach sweeping conclusions. It's short-sighted, bordering on laughable. In the same manner, one record high does not prove or validate global warming either! What's required is a careful, organized search of GLOBAL temperature records over decades, and there the trend is undeniable. It's true that temperatures have leveled off a bit since 2005, but we have NOT reversed 30+ years of warming. Rarely is the temperature trend ever a straight line, there are peaks and dips, but the overall trend in the last generation has been ever upward, and climatologists believe the upward trend will resume soon. The next time a friend or colleague or know-it-all neighbor points out the window at flurries and laughs about the "global warming hoax" gently remind them that it's weather, not climate!
The federal government is finally getting serious about regulating CO2 and other, potentially harmful, greenhouse gases. Here is the full text of the New York Times article.
Vaisala Lightning Explorer
Vaisala Lightning Explorer displays recent lightning activity across the entire continental U.S. The lightning data displayed is 20 minutes delayed and updated every 20 minutes. Get the latest map available by clicking "Refresh" under the map. The map shows a 2-hour time period with lightning data color coded in 20-minute increments.
Lightning Data from the U.S. National Lightning Detection Network
Vaisala Lightning Explorer uses lightning data from Vaisala's U.S. NLDN, the most reliable lightning detection system in the U.S. The U.S. NLDN constantly detects lightning discharges anywhere in the continental U.S. Each symbol on the map represents one recorded lightning event.
Go ahead and bookmark this page for a quick check before heading out to the lake or ball field. But know that the data is delayed by 20 minutes so it's useful, but by no means "real time". If you want fresher, more current data you'll have to subscribe to Vaisala, but they have a number of different options, some quite affordable (if you have a weather-sensitive business and lightning is a constant threat). The 20 minute delayed lightning information can be found here.
Click here for the entire article.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
How global warming can shrink glaciers and alter frontiers
ONCE frontiers were changed by armies. Now the job is done by global warming. Italy and Switzerland are preparing to make—or rather to recognise—alterations to the border that runs through the Monte Rosa massif of the Alps. Despite what romantically minded locals may say, the name of the massif has nothing to with the pink blush its peaks acquire at sunset. It comes from a dialect word meaning glacier. The massif has nine glaciers. In several places the line between the two countries is set at the watershed. Because of global warming, the glaciers have shrunk, so the watershed has shifted, “in some places by as much as ten metres”, says General Carlo Colella of Italy’s Military Geographic Institute in Florence. In January, after four years of work by the general and his staff, Silvio Berlusconi’s cabinet approved a change in the frontier.
Here is the entire article in the Economist.
To explore the Drought Monitor (click on specific regions and states) click here.
The full text of the article is here.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
This is a "true color" image of Minnesota, which will slowly transform into more of a green hue as leaves begin to bud statewide in the coming weeks. Check out the lingering snow cover across the Minnesota Arrowhead. One more weekend for snowmobiling along the North Shore?
For the main MODIS web page (definitely bookmark-worthy!) click here.
BY CASSANDRA BROOKS
Experts on marine science, policy and law came together on Friday at the Stanford Law School for a symposium on managing ocean ecosystems in an uncertain future of climate change. The daylong panel discussion was hosted by the Stanford Journal of Law, Science and Policy. "The event was an amazing cross-section of state agencies, academic institutions, government and students," said Meg Caldwell, a senior lecturer at the Law School and at Stanford's Woods Institute for the Environment. Caldwell moderated a panel on protecting marine species."This was real-time education for policymakers," added Caldwell, who also serves as director of the Center for Ocean Solutions, a collaboration of Stanford University, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.
The complete article is here.
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Cutting greenhouse gases by 70 percent this century would spare the planet the most traumatic effects of climate change, including the massive loss of Arctic sea ice, a study said Tuesday. Warming in the Arctic would be almost halved, helping preserve fisheries, as well as sea birds and Arctic mammals like polar bears in some regions, including the northern Bering Sea, according to scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).But the massive cuts of greenhouse gas emissions advocated by the researchers would only "stabilize the threat of climate change and avoid catastrophe," said NCAR scientist Warren Washington, the study's lead author.
Click here for the entire article.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
I'm dating myself, but when I went to school to become a meteorologist we used paper maps. Nobody in the late 70s could imagine the wealth of information that would be at our fingertips 20 years later. Today there are an estimated 6,000+ web sites in the U.S. devoted to weather; the National Weather Service has a wealth of information on-line, major universities are another good, trusted source of updated weather information.
Here is the GFS model prediction for the Twin Cities, looking out 7-8 days into the future. This "Meteogram" is fairly self-explanatory, tracking the expected highs, lows, probability of precipitation and cloudcover. The computer models are essential, but research shows that the best accuracy comes from a mix of man & machine, ie. meteorologists knowing when the computers are on-track, or out to lunch and way off the mark. Watch how the forecast for Day 4-8 changes (sometimes dramatically) over time as new data arrives and new models, simulations of how the atmosphere SHOULD flow, display contradictory forecasts. Spend a little time deciphering the models and you too will be pulling what few gray hairs are left on the top of your head. Long-range weather forecasting is definitely not for the timid!
Today marks the anniversay of Minnesota's deadliest tornado. On April 14, 1886 a massive tornado descended on the St. Cloud/Sauk Rapids area. 800 yards wide, it remained on the ground for 20 miles, so large it didn't look like the classic tornado "funnel". When the winds subsided 74 residents of Sauk Rapids and St. Cloud had lost their lives, over 200 people were injured, much of Sauk Rapids wiped clean off the map. 11 of the fatalities were members of a wedding party, including the bride and groom. Historical lore claims that the winds were so strong and violent that survivors could see the bottom of the Mississippi River immediately after the tornado vortex passed.
For more information on Minnesota tornadoes, climatology, and a list of the worst twisters ever reported click here.
The Minnesota Historical Society has a huge library of images from the storm, free to browse on-line. Some of the images are truly incredible.
The Earth Observatory article is here.
Looks like the Red River will crest roughly 3 feet less than the historic crest of 40+ feet on March 28. The very latest NWS flood forecast for downtown Fargo shows a crest near 37 feet by Saturday. Residents in the Fargo/Moorhead area may yet dodge a bullet.
The entire Time Magazine article is here.