Archive for the 'Science' Category

earth day, reprise

First GOES-11 Image

First GOES-11 Image

Following last year’s earth day post I decided to do a short reprise of a few images of earth. Above is the first image sent back by the GOES-11 satellite on May 17th, 2000. You may not be familiar with the GOES satellites directly, but this type of satellite provides all of the visible cloud and water vapor imagery that gets shown during the weather section of the news. One of the most amazing things I notice in this image is the strong linear feature of clouds just north of the equator. This is called the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and is where the air from the northern and southern hemispheres meet and ascend. We write equations about it, talk about it in theory, but there it is!


Collapsed Larsen B Ice Shelf

Larsen B Ice Shelf

This next image shows the Larsen B Ice Shelf (on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula) during 2000 before its rapid collapse (over 35 days) in 2002. From NASA “[the shelf] lost 3,250 square kilometers (about 1,255 square miles) — an area somewhat larger than Rhode Island — sending a plume of icebergs into the Weddell Sea.” The collapse of such a large piece of ice in connection with the warming observed at these locations (about 3 degrees since the 1940′s) makes it a physical realization of the climate change I know is coming.
For more about Larsen B see “Fragment of its Former Shelf” from NASA earth observatory.

Climate Models

CCSM3 T341, November

CCSM3 T341, November - click to load video

My last image is not actually an image of the Earth directly, but a computer model simulation of the atmosphere calculated at very high resolution. I use this same model (at a much lower resolution) to run experiments to find how vegetation can influence climate. The videos have water vapor shown in white and rain shown in orange. I could watch these simulations all day…

Look at the Amazon and Congo rainforests for the orange pulse of the daily cycle in precipitation! There are even hurricanes! Last year I talked about how the complexity and heterogeneity of the earth’s surface makes me think it is impossible to write down in the form of equations. This year I’ll go with optimism. These results look like a real atmosphere. Amazing!

(I have limited video embedding skills (or desire to gain such skills) so please bear with me for the screen shot and link) To see more months or view the entire year go to the Community Climate Model.

People often ask me if I get depressed studying global warming, but in truth, I don’t. I guess I feel good about the fact that I’m trying to do something about it in the best way I know how. I hope you can all do the same. Happy earth day everyone!

earth on earth day

The classic 1972 image of Earth from Apollo 17. Link

It is earth day. I’m at my desk at work still so instead of sharing some creative or clever idea for earth friendly crafting (my opinions can be summed thus: yay recycling!) I will share some images of the earth that fascinate me. And yes, it is an atmosphere-centric view, but that is what you get from someone who studies climate all day.

First up: Atmospheric vortices.

A vortex on a large scale, Hurricane Katrina at landfall

Image From Earth Observatory

Also amazing is this video of the entire 2005 Atlantic Hurricane season. Link

von Karmon vortex sheet in the atmosphere

From Earth Observatory
It blows my mind that these features from tank experiments actually show up in the real world. Wow!

Next: Thunderstorms

Thunderstorms look like boiling water! It is unlikely that I will ever get over that. These are over the Amazon. Link

here is another one over Africa

Image from Earth Observatory

Also fantastic is this sequence of images showing the onset of the rainy season over the Amazon. Link

And finally: Crazy fantastic landscapes

Agricultural Patterns

Image from Earth Observatory
This set of images makes me wonder how I can possibly expect to represent crops in large grid cell climate models. It also makes me think about the patterns that humans exert on the landscape. Just look at Kansas!

North Slope of Alaska

I have this on my screensaver and it is impressive how many heads it turns. Tundra, lakes AND the arctic ocean all in one. Link

So I hope that you made it through this extremely craft-free tour of earth images from space. I understand that most people don’t find these all as amazing as I do, but then most people don’t choose to spend all day thinking about it either :)

Happy Earth Day!

Improved Sheep-Wash

Yesterday during a routine academic search for journal articles about the sensitive dependence of coupled carbon cycle climate models to land surface parameter values I came across this patent.

What do you think you get from boiling tobacco, adding chalk and tersulphide of calcium (prepared it in the usual way, whatever that is)? Improved Sheep-wash, thats what. Apparently the wash is not limited to sheep (on no!) the author claims that it is “equally efficacious when applied to cattle and other animals.” Get yer tobacco a boilin…

Oh google scholar, how you do entertain me….

Save the Planet with Sheep!

An April fools day chuckle (a few days late).

I occasionally have my issues with Real Climate but this is, although incredibly nerdy, very cute (and woolly).

Not your ordinary day

I had lunch with a Nobel Laureate yesterday!

And all anyone wanted to ask him was what it was like to go to the academy awards…..

That doesnt happen everyday!

tetanus factory

poison lump, originally uploaded by abmatic.

I got a tetanus shot on friday which has resulted in this alien lump masquerading as a bizzarly shaped muscle in the bicep region. Its a strange sensation to have a large firm growth like this which is, as karrie pointed out, just a factory for tetanus antibodies. Imagine smokestacks spewing little bacteria.