24 March 2012

Weekend Digest Of Science On The Web

Posted by Dan Satterfield

I have not done a digest in a while, but there is a lot of interesting bits of science online this week, so here goes!

Bob Henson at NCAR has a MUST read post about this past winter and how it was very atypical of what you would normally expect for a La Nina year. I have also written a post on how looking at the La Nina alone to guess the winter weather is a mistake. Click the image below to read Bob’s piece in ATMOS News.


NASA has a video about how the thermosphere reacted to the big X class flare and CME that hit Earth recently. It’s worth a look!


Comic by Tony Auth.

It seems Tennessee is trying to join Louisiana in attempting to teach political/religious beliefs in science class. The Tennessee Academy of Sciences has joined many other groups in blasting a proposed law allowing teachers to present the “scientific weaknesses” of such subjects as climate change and biological evolution.  I would like to think that a total lack of understanding of scientific method and how scientific theories differ from a belief is behind this.  Astronomer Phil Plait is one of many science bloggers who has also written about this.

Do not get me wrong here, everyone should respect someones personal beliefs, no matter if they be protestant, Hindu or Islam. Teaching these beliefs as if they are science, or using them to falsely put doubt on bedrock scientific principles is doing a grave disservice to students in a science classroom. This is something that virtually the entire world has realised except for areas in the U.S. Put it in a religious or political studies class. Just don’t pretend it’s science, because it’s not.


The records just keep tumbling in the March heat wave. Portland recorded it’s earliest 80 degree reading today as records fell over New England. This heat is not just unusual or very rare, but it is without precedent. Northern Michigan saw temperatures reach 50 degrees above normal this past week. Astounding is the only word for it, just look at the records below from the NCDC (NOAA).

I have written on this already here and here, but there some other thoughts out there by fellow meteorologists that are worth a read. Joe Romm at Climate Progress has a good summary, and mentions my friend Stu Ostro. Steve Scolnik at Capital Climate also has some excellent graphics showing how incredible this heat wave has been. 35 record highs for every record low. Did I say astounding??