6 December 2014

What You Missed In Science This Week

Posted by Dan Satterfield

Unfalsifiable Belief- The Dark Side of Reason This piece on a recently published paper (in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2014. DOI: 10.1037/pspp0000018) is a must read. Click the image to read it. Could this explain the faulty reasoning of those who refuse to accept the truth that greenhouse gases are warming the atmosphere, and those white lines behind jet aircraft are not government mind control chemicals?

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What do you call a veterinarian who only treats one species? A physician. This TED video by a cardiologist is a must See:

Chris Mooney and Joby Warrick at the Washington Post have a well done piece about two papers that are just being published on the Western Antarctic Ice shelf (WAIS). The science on how much ice is being lost in Antarctica is getting better and better as remote sensing methods improve. My friends at Climate Central are really good at coming up with high quality science info graphics, and this is a new one regarding the high likelihood that 2014 will be the warmest year globally on the instrumental record (and arguably one of the warmest since the last interglacial).

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A Frozen Choptank River in Maryland last Febr. Dan's photo.

A Frozen Choptank River in Maryland last Febr. Dan’s photo.


I have posted before about the possibilities of another cold and snowy winter in the Eastern U.S., and a write-up by the NWS Philadelphia adds even more to the idea. The best way to do a long-range forecast is to look at both ocean temperature patterns, and longer term atmospheric pressure oscillations (like the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Arctic Oscillation), and add in the state of the El Nino Southern Oscillation. You then look back at the winters that had similar patterns to see if they all had something in common. In spite of my opinion that there is no such thing as too much snow, those who disagree may find this piece by the NWS forecasters in Philadelphia a bit frosty for their taste!

Although it was written for their area, it’s pretty much valid for the entire region, and it adds in a couple of factors I didn’t mention in my previous. Speaking of El Nino, Bob Henson at NCAR has a fascinating piece about the history of our knowledge about it. The odds of a strong  El Nino for this winter are low, but we may see a weak one. The WMO has a good update on it here.