Saturday, January 26, 2008

Free/Low-Cost Classes

Skywarn; climate course; astronomy for non-scientists

If you're interested in learning something about meteorology and also performing a public service, the National Weather Service (NWS) has several Skywarn classes scheduled in the metro region. Skywarn is a program through which trained members of the public can become spotters for weather events such as severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail and flooding, and report their observations to the local NWS. The classes, which are free, consist of one three-hour introductory session. Several optional advanced sessions are also offered separately.

The next scheduled Basics I class (prerequisite for all other classes) inside the Beltway is Feb. 9 at the University of Maryland in College Park, sponsored by the meteorology graduate student organization. You can register for the class online and also view the slides and videos from a previous presentation. Other upcoming classes in the Washington/Baltimore region are scheduled for Leesburg and Towson. For graduates of Basic I training, Basics II, Flooding, and Tropical classes are also available.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

NOAA's NWS Near Naming New NHC Noggin?

The Orlando Sentinel reported today: "National Weather Service veteran Bill Read likely to be next hurricane chief." This promises to be the final chapter in one of the more unusual bureaucratic dramas in recent history. If named as the permanent director of the National Hurricane Center near Miami, Read would replace Bill Proenza, who took over the position at the beginning of last year, replacing the retiring Max Mayfield, but was ousted when havoc broke out at the center during the 2007 hurricane season.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

551.5: Book Nook

551.5 is the Dewey Decimal System classification for meteorology.

In his post last weekend, Ground Truth, Andrew points out that seeing is believing: Because climate change "exists beyond our field of vision it's hard to be completely convinced of its existence, and therefore of the necessity of addressing it." Andrew Revkin expressed similar thoughts in his Dot Earth blog last month.

A new climate change book, published last year in the U.K., was released in the U.S. yesterday by National Geographic. It aims to address precisely that problem. Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, by Mark Lynas, takes the dry data and analyses of climate science and puts them into human terms by describing the specific effects of each degree of warming predicted in the current range of scenarios documented in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, from 1°C to 6°C:

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Climate Corner: Myth-tery Science Theater 2008

One of the major myths of the climate change saga comes in for some major debunking at a session Wednesday of the 20th Conference on Climate Variability and Change, which is meeting in conjunction with the 88th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) this week in New Orleans. It didn't make the top-10 list of a major global warming skeptic, but a favorite theme of climate science fiction, both literary and political, is that the same people who predicted an ice age in the 1970s are now the ones promoting the global warming story. This argument is even favored by some meteorologists.

The cooling myth turns out to be wrong on multiple levels. First of all, even if the premise were true, it would be perfectly consistent with the scientific method:
  • Make an hypothesis: The earth is cooling.
  • Collect and analyze data: It's not.
  • Refine the hypothesis: The earth is warming.
  • Repeat until done.
Stephen H. Schneider, a veteran climate scientist (also the apparent coiner of the term "mediarology"), was interviewed last year on this subject on The Weather Channel's Forecast Earth series. I'm quoting from memory, so this hasn't been subjected to the usual rigorous fact-checking of the Googling monkeys here in the Climate Corner, but the gist of what he said was, "We were wrong. We thought there could be a cooling, but we did some more analysis and found out that was not the case. That's how science works."

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Seasonal Outlook

Latest seasonal forecast: Click here.

Latest 3-month temperature outlook from Climate Prediction Center/NWS/NOAA.