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15 July 2022

12-Extinctions: Space station splashdown

The International Space Station feels like a permanent fixture. It’s been up there since 2000! But earlier this year, NASA announced it is bringing the ISS back to earth in the 2030s as it plans for new space stations.

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1 July 2022

10-Extinctions: Showdown of the giant space rocks

Dani DellaGiustina is one of the youngest leaders of a NASA mission, and she was in charge of image processing for OSIRIS-REx before she even got her PhD. OSIRIS-REx is a spacecraft sent to study asteroid Bennu and scheduled to return a sample to Earth in 2023.

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10 June 2022

7-Extinctions: Dinosaurs, a Big Rock, and…Climate Change?

When you hear the word “extinction,” chances are you probably think of the extinction of the dinosaurs and a big rock. But did you know that there were other factors at play that lead to that extinction including volcanos and sea-level rise?

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19 August 2019

Centennial E9 – The Sun and the Exploding Sea

In 1972, in the waning years of the Vietnam War, U.S. military pilots flying south of Haiphong harbor in North Vietnam saw something unexpected. Without explanation, and without warning, over two dozen sea mines suddenly exploded. While the phenomenon was never officially explained, it piqued the interest of space scientist Delores Knipp.

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31 May 2019

E18 – Riders on the Storm

Few natural phenomena are more difficult to study than tornadoes. They’re short-lived, their locations are notoriously hard to predict, and getting close enough to observe them is both challenging and extremely dangerous.

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20 May 2019

Centennial E6 – A Tale of Two Journeys

In 1911, two competing groups of explorers attempted to be the first to reach the South Pole. In this episode, atmospheric scientist Ryan Fogt recounts the journeys of Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen and discusses how extraordinary weather that year affected the two polar parties in vastly different ways.

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15 January 2019

Centennial E2 – Uncovering the Ozone Hole

In the mid-1980s, scientists uncovered a troubling phenomenon: The ozone layer, which protects all living things on Earth from the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation, was rapidly thinning over Antarctica.

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6 August 2018

The Invention of Air, by Steven Johnson

This is an interesting book – simultaneously about Enlightenment science, energy flows driving human history, and the boundary-less conception of politics, religion, and science that was embraced by Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and the book’s principal protagonist, Joseph Priestley (and to a lesser, or at least less-well-documented, degree by John Adams).  The discussion begins in the coffeehouses of 1760’s London, where conversation roamed freely and exuberantly  between intellectuals and amateur …

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15 August 2016

The Paps of Jura, with a nice example of orographic effect (plus a seal)

The isle of Jura in Scotland is where George Orwell wrote 1984. It’s just across a narrow channel from the eastern side of Islay, where I spent four lovely days geologizing this summer. Looking across the gap, you can see a cluster of prominent mountains on Jura. These are the “Paps” of Jura, and they are held up by quartzite. I took these photos when driving home after an afternoon …

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