5 September 2011

Weekend Science Digest- A Symphony of Science

Posted by Dan Satterfield


Lots of science news this week caught my eye and number one on the list is the video above (thanks to “Bad Astronomer” Phil Plait) . John Boswell has his entire collection of videos online along with the music. You can download them for whatever you think is fair. These videos are IMHO a great teaching tool about what and who we are, and what science and scientific method is. I’ve posted his videos before here and you already know, I never pass up anything with N. D. Tyson or Carl Sagan (not to mention Brian Cox), who are surely the greatest popular science communicators of the last 40 years.

More Fallout From Spencer Paper

Kevin Trenberth along with Peter Gleick and John Abraham have published a response to the news Friday that the editor of Remote Sensing resigned and apologised over the failure of their peer review process (regarding the Spencer/Braswell paper). Trenberth is a renowned expert on climate science and the comment was devastating in its critique of the claims made not only in this recent paper, but in two previous papers. I find it interesting that while a local university professor here in Huntsville is the subject of intense criticism in the international media (Number one story for 24 hours on the BBC website), there is nothing in the local media here about it.

Note: The UA Huntsville press release on the paper which makes some rather incredible claims is still online.

The Other Inconvenient Truth

Hat tip to Michael Tobis over at Only In It For The Gold for the video below which speaks for itself and is well worth a watch. Isn’t TED and TEDx great!


Sometimes Only A Graph Says It Best

I saw this from the Texas State Climatologist on Tobis as well. The Texas drought is so far worse than anything on the previous record, it is hard to express, but this graphic does it very well. Cooler and wetter summers are on the bottom right with hotter and drier on the upper left. Read more about it here.

Wet & Windy In The Big Un-Easy.

Rainfall totals with Tropical Storm Lee have passed the one foot mark in spots.  The obs below are from 10:30 AM this morning (4 Sep. 2011).


HOLDON              13.93
N.O. CAROLLTON      12.97
MAUREPAS            11.97
CONVENT 2S          11.55
GALLIANO            11.40
LIVINGSTON          11.24
N.O. AUDUBON        10.79
SLIDELL CITY        10.62
PASCAGOULA          10.60
COVINGTON           10.46
TERRYTOWN 3S         9.86

Unofficial obs from the VERY reliable cocorahs gauges are 14 inches at Waveland, LA and over 8″ at Gulfport Miss. Here in the Huntspatch, we had a nice steady rain all day Sunday and it was really needed. Lee is drifting slowly north, but my gut feeling from a perusal of the NWP models is that we will not see those kind of totals over North AL and Miss., although a good heavy soaking is likely. A decent cool front is going to pick up the remains of Lee and shove it into eastern Tennessee by midweek.

Arctic Ice Just A Hair Above 2007

With just a couple of weeks remaining in the summer melt, the Arctic sea ice extent is just barely above the record low set in 2007, and if it breaks the record, it will be big news. The sea ice area (which is calculated differently from the extent) is at or below 2007 now. To understand the difference, go to the IARC website.

I’ll Take Record Highs for 500 Alex

In the last 30 days there have been 251 record low temps. and 5,140 record high overnight lows in the U.S. The stats in the graph below from NCDC are simply amazing. Take some time and look at those numbers, and while you do keep in mind that the record highs have been increasingly out pacing record lows for over 30 years now.

Even last winter’s cold was outdone by its unusual heat according to a just published paper in the AGU journal Geophysical Res. Letters. To quote from a press release about the paper:

During the last two winters, some regions of the northern hemisphere experienced extreme cold not seen in recent decades. But at the same time, the winters of 2009-10 and 2010-11 were also marked by more prominent, although less newsworthy, extreme warm spells.

New research examines daily wintertime temperature extremes since 1948 The study finds that the warm extremes were much more severe and widespread than the cold extremes during the northern hemisphere winters of 2009-10 (which featured an extreme snowfall episode on the East Coast dubbed “snowmaggedon”) and 2010-11.  Moreover, while the extreme cold was mostly attributable to a natural climate cycle, the extreme warmth was not, the study concludes.

“We investigated the relationships between prominent natural climate modes and extreme temperatures, both warm and cold. Natural climate variability explained the cold extremes; the observed warmth was consistent with a long-term warming trend,” says Kristen Guirguis, a postdoctoral researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego and lead author of the study..

It’s Fall In Mera Kuh When…

Starbucks starts selling pumpkin spice lattes on Tuesday 😉

Have a good week- I am going to sit back and watch the Doctor (Who that is)….