1 July 2008

A Fascinating Week

Posted by Dan Satterfield

I spent last week in Denver at the American Meteorological Society conference

on Broadcast Meteorology.

You should know that of all the Meteorologist who belong to the AMS in this
country, very few work on TV! There are many many more who work for NOAA, NASA,
and private firms. Researchers, climate scientists, university professors etc.

Having the conference in Denver gave us the ability to visit two key research
facilities. The first was NCAR- The National Centers For Atmospheric Research.

NCAR is funded by Universities, NOAA and the National Science Foundation. Almost every person working in the field of Atmospheric Science knows someone who worked at or works now at NCAR. I have two friends who work there. Some of the first research into dual polarimetric radar was initiated there.

NCAR has a nice audio tour with exhibitions, so if you find yourself in Boulder, bring the kids up and take the tour. They even have stromatolites..the very oldest fossils of life on earth. They are thought to have developed very early on the evolutionary time line.

After NCAR I went down the road a bit to ESRL. The NOAA facility at the Earth Systems Research laboratory. We had a nice briefing on the latest Climate Change research and I saw the fabulous Science on A Sphere invented by Dr. Sandy McDonald the director of ESRL. We must get one of these in Huntsville!!! I hope to talk some big local high tech company into donating the $161,000 to get one at Sci Quest. NOAA will provide it at cost.


Imagine walking into a dark room and in front of you hanging in space is the Earth is all it’s colour! The sphere makes it possible to show everything from real time images from the GOES satellites to plate tectonics and climate models. I think it is one of the best educational tools I have ever seen. Imagine following Alabama’s place on the earth through 550 million years of earth history. Radically cool dude!

Last but not least is the bad news. The updates on our climate are full of bad news. In spite of the junk science on internet sites and blogs, the peer reviewed science is full of data indicating the planet is perhaps approaching a tipping point in our climate. Arctic sea ice is diminishing at a much more rapid pace than the IPCC forecasted. Sea level is also rising at a rate above the IPCC midlines.

The public in general is very confused on climate change issues because they have difficulty in picking out science from opinion. The way to do it is Peer Review, and my next blog entry is going to be on just that topic!

Forecasting is my job..Science is my passion….Email me anytime with a science question..I iwill try and find the answer for you!