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18 September 2014

Planetary atmospheres and climate: An interview with Dr. Jonathan Mitchell

Dr. Jonathan Mitchell is Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth & Space Sciences and the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at UCLA. Dr. Mitchell’s research interests include surface-atmosphere interactions on Titan, superrotating atmospheres, tidal interactions of synchronous satellites, and Earth’s paleoclimate.


17 September 2014

If The Scientific Truth Is Inconvenient, Publish your Own Truth!

A fellow meteorologist pointed me to a web-site today about a new scientific society called the Open Atmospheric Society (OAS), which is apparently in the process of organizing. They have a fancy logo, and a list of membership requirements that look very similar to that of other scientific societies, until you start looking closely. When you do, things begin to look a rather strange. One of the options to full …


Learning science through reading, writing… and doodling

What do you do when you see a student doodling in class? Studies show that perhaps we should encourage this behavior.


Shake, Rattle and Frack

A new study was published today in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, by three USGS scientists, and it’s the latest in a growing number of scientific studies that show that deep injection of waste water during fracking is causing earthquakes. It seems pretty likely that a quake will do damage in a fracking zone soon, and all this science will be moved into a courtroom. The graph …


16 September 2014

First results from Rosetta landing expected to be unveiled at AGU Fall Meeting

Scientists expect to present preliminary results from the first spacecraft to land on a comet at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting in December. That’s assuming, of course, that they first succeed at dropping a lander from thousands of meters away onto a tiny comet – a feat never tried before.

The Rosetta mission is the first designed to orbit and land on a comet, according to the European Space Agency. The mission’s Philae lander will touch down at candidate site “J” at the head of comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 11 November, the ESA announced Monday morning after weeks of deliberation.


15 September 2014

Monday Geology Picture(s): Cross-Bedding in Ceres, South Africa

Soon, I’ll continue with sharing more pictures from my geological wanderings in Mauritius earlier this year. However, for this week’s “Monday Geology Picture” I want to share some pictures from my recent visit to the little town of Ceres in the Western Cape of South Africa. Last Friday, I went to Ceres for the day with my husband and two friends visiting from America. Ceres is about an hour and a …


14 September 2014

If British Airways Offered Jet Service To The Moon, How long A Flight Would It Be?

Have you ever thought about how long a commercial airline flight to the Moon would take?? It’s actually a good question, and an excellent way of getting your head around the vast distances of just our own solar system. It’s actually an easy math problem, and while not all such questions are that simple, they almost all come with surprising results. Meteorologists frequently get these type questions, and  can tell …


11 September 2014

Seismic gap may be filled by an earthquake near Istanbul

When a segment of a major fault line goes quiet, it can mean one of two things: The “seismic gap” may simply be inactive — the result of two tectonic plates placidly gliding past each other — or the segment may be a source of potential earthquakes, quietly building tension over decades until an inevitable seismic release.

A new study published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, has found evidence for both types of behavior on different segments of the North Anatolian Fault — one of the most energetic earthquake zones in the world.


Lurching ground and bouncing bridges in the Napa earthquake

My rides along Amtrak California’s Capitol Corridor now include an eerie stretch where they pass the site at which the highest ground motions in the Napa earthquake were recorded mere weeks ago. Just at the south abutments of the I-80 bridges over the Carquinez Strait, where the Union Pacific tracks pass through the C&H refinery, a shallow borehole seismometer recorded an acceleration of 0.99g, nearly the full force of gravity lurching soil and …


10 September 2014

Bring the field to students with live webcams

If you can’t get your students to the geology, bring the geology to your students via webcams.


9 September 2014

Global food trade may not meet all future demand, new study indicates

As the world population continues to grow, by about 1 billion people every 12 to 14 years since the 1960s, the global food supply may not meet escalating demand – particularly for agriculturally poor countries in arid to semi-arid regions, such as Africa’s Sahel, that already depend on imports for much of their food supply.

A new study, published online in the American Geophysical Union journal, Earth’s Future, examines global food security and the patterns of food trade that – until this analysis – have been minimally studied.


8 September 2014

The Young Volcanic Landscape of Mauritius

For the next little while, I will be blogging about my recent (March 2014) vacation to Mauritius, a young volcanic island in the Indian Ocean. I recently shared a couple of pictures of volcanic basalt in Mauritius for my “Monday Geology Picture” posts here and here. In future posts, I’ll write a little more about the volcanic history of Mauritius. In brief, Mauritius is believed to have been formed by a …


The Sunkoshi landslide dam breach

The Sunkoshi landslide dam in Nepal breached and drained early on Sunday morning. The discharge data suggests that the breach was initiated in response to increased river flow caused by heavy rainfall.


97 Scientists Attempt To Dispel The Greatest Scientific Myth in 97 Hours

The biggest scientific myth of today is that the science community is divided about the threat to our climate from burning fossil fuels. It is simply not true, and if you were to read the different scientific journals, you would quickly see that the consensus is overwhelming. Progress is being made, and those who refuse to accept it are increasingly being seen as out of touch with reality. The media …


7 September 2014

Who Really Declared War on Coal

Have you seen those slick adverts about clean coal on cable TV lately? They seem to have disappeared, but I may be just missing them. If you live in the UK, you won’t be seeing them on British TV, because they’ve been banned by regulators there as misleading, and that’s the kind way of putting it. Bald faced lie is IMHO more accurate. (Here in America, you can get away …


3 September 2014

An Empire State of Mind On Climate Change

On 23 September 2014, the U.N. Secretary-General will host leaders from around the world at the United Nations headquarters in New York City to engage in discussion, and hopefully make commitments, on a legal climate agreement for the year 2015. The leaders will discuss four themes: the science of climate change, societal benefits that come with taking action on climate change, why climate action makes sense for business and economic growth, and voices from the frontlines of climate change.


Heading out to sea as a NOAA Teacher at Sea

Ahoy! I’m heading out to sea with the NOAA Teacher at Sea program for a hydrographic survey and professional development opportunity.


1 September 2014

Field work on the Grinnell Formation at Red Rock Canyon, Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

Callan’s Rockies field course students document faulting and jointing in Red Rock Canyon, Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta.


31 August 2014

How Hot Is Your City?

You’ve probably heard about the urban heat island effect, but I bet you do not realize is how much it affects your weather (and how much it costs you in cooling costs). The folks at Climate Central put out a report this month that breaks down how large the temperature differences are between some cities, and the rural areas surrounding them. The report makes it obvious that we are paying a …


30 August 2014

Earthquake rupture through a U.S. suburb

In the quiet wee hours of a NorCal summer night, the ground lurched beneath the mud of the northern San Francisco Bay and sent seismic waves roaring upward and outward into the world-famous wine valley’s central city, Napa, CA. After they wreaked their havoc in Napa and nearby communities the seismic waves spread farther afield and gently rumbled most of the Bay Area and its exurbs from our weekend slumber. By the time …