Warming Of Planet Will Affect Storms Differently In Northern And Southern Hemispheres

There should be an image here!Weather systems in the Southern and Northern hemispheres will respond differently to global warming, according to an MIT atmospheric scientist’s analysis that suggests the warming of the planet will affect the availability of energy to fuel extratropical storms, or large-scale weather systems that occur at Earth’s middle latitudes. The resulting changes will depend on the hemisphere and season, the study found.

More intense storms will occur in the Southern Hemisphere throughout the year, whereas in the Northern Hemisphere, the change in storminess will depend on the season — with more intense storms occurring in the winter and weaker storms in the summer. The responses are different because even though the atmosphere will get warmer and more humid due to global warming, not all of the increased energy of the atmosphere will be available to power extratropical storms. It turns out that the changes in available energy depend on the hemisphere and season, according to the study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Fewer extratropical storms during the summer in the Northern Hemisphere could lead to increased air pollution, as “there would be less movement of air to prevent the buildup of pollutants in the atmosphere,” says author Paul O’Gorman, the Victor P. Starr Career Development Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Science in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. Likewise, stronger storms year-round in the Southern Hemisphere would lead to stronger winds over the Antarctic Ocean, which would impact ocean circulation. Because the ocean circulation redistributes heat throughout the world’s oceans, any change could impact the global climate.

O’Gorman’s analysis examined the relationship between storm intensity and the amount of energy available to create the strong winds that fuel extratropical storms. After analyzing data compiled between 1981 and 2000 on winds in the atmosphere, he noticed that the energy available for storms depended on the season. Specifically, it increased during the winter, when extratropical storms are strong, and decreased during the summer, when they are weak.

Because this relationship could be observed in the current climate, O’Gorman was confident that available energy would be useful in relating temperature and storminess changes in global-warming simulations for the 21st century. After analyzing these simulations, he observed that changes in the energy available for storms were linked to changes in temperature and storm intensity, which depended on the season and hemisphere. He found that available energy increased throughout the year for the Southern Hemisphere, which led to more intense storms. But for the Northern Hemisphere, O’Gorman observed that available energy increased during the winter and decreased during the summer.

This makes sense, O’Gorman says, because the changes in the strength of extratropical storms depend on where in the atmosphere the greatest warming occurs; if the warming is greatest in the lower part of the atmosphere, this tends to create stronger storms, but if it is greatest higher up, this leads to weaker storms. During the Northern Hemisphere summer, the warming is greatest at higher altitudes, which stabilizes the atmosphere and leads to less intense storms.

Although the analysis suggests that global warming will result in weaker Northern Hemisphere storms during the summer, O’Gorman says that it’s difficult to determine the degree to which those storms will weaken. That depends on the interaction between the atmosphere and the oceans, and for the Northern Hemisphere, this interaction is linked to how quickly the Arctic Ocean ice disappears. Unfortunately, climate scientists don’t yet know the long-term rate of melting.

[Photo above by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Jen Hirsch @ Massachusetts Institute of Technology


WeatherBar For Windows 7

There should be an image here!If you’re a weather guru, you’ll love the WeatherBar!

WeatherBar is a free third party program for Windows 7 that puts the local weather right on your taskbar. After downloading the zip file, launch WeatherBar and enter your location. An icon appears on your taskbar that shows the current weather conditions for your location. Furthermore, right click on the icon to see the local four-day weather forecast.

You can download WeatherBar here.

[Photo above by Pete Reed / CC BY-ND 2.0]

[awsbullet:meteorology dummies]

Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change: An International Perspective

There should be an image here!The world will need to make substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions below current levels over the next few decades if the worst impacts of dangerous climate change are to be avoided. This was a key conclusion from UK and US climate scientists at an international workshop on the UK AVOID program in Washington, DC exploring the most policy-relevant aspects of understanding dangerous climate change.

Latest results from AVOID have shown that strong mitigation action to limit temperature rise to below 2 °C avoids many of the climate impacts, but not all of them. Examples show that 50% of the impact of water scarcity, and almost 40% of the impact of decreasing crop suitability can be avoided through early action on greenhouse gas emissions. Time is short and delaying action reduces the chance of limiting temperature rise to 2 °C and increases the chance of significant impacts.

The AVOID program is a unique inter-disciplinary research collaboration across the physical sciences, climate impacts and the technical and socio-economic implications of climate change. AVOID is targeted to provide policy-focused research and evidence needed to allow policymakers to develop mitigation and adaptation policy that is strongly grounded in scientific evidence. This workshop, the first international meeting of AVOID, was designed to discuss, engage and partner with US scientists.

Jason Lowe, Head of Mitigation Advice at the Met Office, United Kingdom, and Chief Scientist for the AVOID program, said “This workshop has provided the opportunity to compare approaches in the UK and US to identify the results that are the most robust. The aim now is to work together to find concrete ways of taking forward the best UK and US science for the benefit of policymakers.

“Such work is essential to inform government policies both in the UK and the US with robust and up-to-date evidence.”

Peter Backlund, Director of Research Relations at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, and Director of NCAR’s Integrated Science Program, said “Designing mitigation and adaptation strategies to avoid dangerous climate change is a major challenge for the US, the UK, and other nations. Scientific research is critical for informing this process, but the scientific community needs to do a better job in focusing research efforts on issues that are central to making decisions about how to respond to climate change.

“The UK AVOID program, with its integration of research from multiple institutions across the physical, social, and economic sciences, is one of the best examples of delivering advice that is directly relevant to policymakers. The program is producing useful information about the probabilities of achieving emissions reductions, the consequences of different levels of emissions, and options for reducing impacts. I am hopeful that we can create a similar program here in the US.”

Participating UK and US scientists agreed to explore further options for collaboration in this area of science of relevance to policymakers.

Dave Britton @ National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

[Photo above by ItzaFineDay / CC BY-ND 2.0]

[awsbullet:climate cover up]

Ocean's Color Affects Hurricane Paths

There should be an image here!A change in the color of ocean waters could have a drastic effect on the prevalence of hurricanes, new research indicates. In a simulation of such a change in one region of the North Pacific, the study finds that hurricane formation decreases by 70 percent. That would be a big drop for a region that accounts for more than half the world’s reported hurricane-force winds.

It turns out that the formation of typhoons — as hurricanes are known in the region — is heavily mediated by the presence of chlorophyll, a green pigment that helps the tiny single-celled organisms known as phytoplankton convert sunlight into food for the rest of the marine ecosystem. Chlorophyll contributes to the ocean’s color.

“We think of the oceans as blue, but the oceans aren’t really blue, they’re actually a sort of greenish color,” said Anand Gnanadesikan, a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, New Jersey. “The fact that [the oceans] are not blue has a [direct] impact on the distribution of tropical cyclones.”

In the study, to be published in an upcoming issue of Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, Gnanadesikan’s team describes how a drop in chlorophyll concentration, and the corresponding reduction in ocean color, could cause a decrease in the formation of hurricanes in the color-depleted zone. Although the study looks at the effects of a simulated drop in the phytoplankton population (and therefore in the ocean’s green tint), recently-published research argued that global phytoplankton populations have been steadily declining over the last century.

Gnanadesikan compared hurricane formation rates in a computer model under two scenarios. For the first, he modeled real conditions using chlorophyll concentrations in the North Pacific observed by satellites. He then compared that to a scenario where the chlorophyll concentration in parts of the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre — a large, clockwise-circulation pattern encompassing most of the North Pacific — was set to zero.

In the latter scenario, the absence of chlorophyll in the subtropical gyre affected hurricane formation by modifying air circulation and heat distribution patterns both within and beyond the gyre. In fact, along the equator, those new patterns outside the gyre led to an increase in hurricane formation of about 20 percent. Yet, this rise was more than made up for by the 70 percent decrease in storms further north, over and near the gyre. The model showed that more hurricanes would hit the Philippines and Vietnam, but fewer would make landfall in South China and Japan.

In the no-chlorophyll scenario, sunlight is able to penetrate deeper into the ocean, leaving the surface water cooler. The drop in the surface temperature in the model affects hurricane formation in three main ways: cold water provides less energy; air circulation patterns change, leading to more dry air aloft which makes it hard for hurricanes to grow.The changes in air circulation trigger strong winds aloft, which tend to prevent thunderstorms from developing the necessary superstructure that allows them to grow into hurricanes.

A decrease in hurricanes in the North Pacific is just one example of how changing chlorophyll concentrations can have far-reaching, previously unconsidered, effects. The specific outcomes over different patches of the ocean will vary based on local currents and ocean conditions, said Gnanadesikan.

A complete absence of chlorophyll in parts of the ocean would be a drastic change, Gnanadesikan admits. Yet, its potential impact is still important to consider, he maintains. The northern Pacific gyre that he studied is already the “biological desert of the ocean,” he said. So the surprise, then, is that “even in this region that is apparently clear, biologically-mediated heating is important.”

This research was primarily supported by NOAA, with additional support from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

[Photo above by NASA Goddard Photo and Video / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Colin Schultz @ American Geophysical Union?

[awsbullet:Heidi Cullen]

An Easy Course On How To Be A TV Reporter

This morning as I roamed through the different TV stations it jogged my memory on what it takes to be a TV reporter. Below are some examples of how easy it is to be a TV reporter.

Example #1 ask stupid questions. I remember back the day after 9-11 when Mayor Giuliani had to promote a Deputy Chief to Chief because the Chief had been killed in one of the towers. A reporter asked the new Chief  ‘How do you feel about your promotion?’  How does he feel???? Are you dumb or what?

Example #2 stand knee high in flood waters. You see, you need to show the viewers how deep the water is because we can’t figure it out for ourselves. Just because the water covers the wheels of a standard passenger car, without you standing in the water wadding around for us, how are we to know how deep the water really is?

Example #3 you must stand outside during a hurricane to show us how fast the wind is really blowing. We can’t tell how fast the winds is blowing when the trees are leaning at a 90 degree angle unless you stand outside for us. Also, make sure you show us a piece of metal siding laying on the ground for added affect. Without seeing this, we would not have a clue as to what is going on.

Example #4 is my all time favorite. When I was living on California our local TV station was in Sacramento. When the first snow arrived, which happened every winter like clock work, they would send a reporter up to Blue Canyon to stand in the snow. The report was basically the same year after year. The reporter would go down where a chain installer was and ask the person, ‘cold enough for you?’  Next they would interview a Highway Patrol officer who would be taking an accident report for some idiot that was driving to fast and ask ‘what happened?’ Duh! Next they would interview the family from San Jose, Ca. who were standing by the side of the road in shorts and t-shirts, not knowing it was going to snow. Duh! I always wondered if these people ever watched or listened to the weather reports.

So there you have it. Simple ways to be a TV reporter. LOL

PCMag Puts WeatherBug For The BlackBerry On The Map

blackberryRecently I was told that PCMag had picked WeatherBug for the BlackBerry to be among the PCMag Top 20 Free BlackBerry Applications. And based on the features offered by WeatherBug for the BlackBerry, this makes a lot of sense.

Some of the features offed by this free WeatherBug BlackBerry app include:

  • Live neighborhood weather from over 8,000 weather stations in the U.S.
  • Current weather, forecast and NWS alerts for your GPS location.
  • Current conditions icon and outdoors temp on your BlackBerry desktop.
  • “Always on” NWS weather alerts such as Tornado warnings even when the WeatherBug app is turned off.
  • 7-day forecast and hourly forecast.
  • Detailed radar and maps.
  • Check the weather on BlackBerry Maps by simply touching any area on the map for two (2) seconds.
  • Daily National Weather Outlook broadcast provided by WeatherBug meteorologists.
  • View snapshots and time-lapse animation from more than 2,000 weather cameras in the U.S.
  • Set-up new locations by pulling the location information from your contact list.
  • Share the current weather information, forecast, alerts and photographs with friends and family.

Clearly, not bad at all consider this is FREE! Best of all, WeatherBug is committed to providing their users as much choice as possible. So for those users who are willing to spend a couple of bucks to have an ad-free experience, WeatherBug has their Elite app.

WeatherBug Elite for the BlackBerry provides these additional features:

  • No ads
  • Real-time weather alerts with BlackBerry Push*
  • Delivers lightning alerts using the WeatherBug Total Lightning Network (WTLN)*
  • Current temperature next to the time on the home screen (changes in the event of a weather alert)
  • Enhanced contour weather maps with 10 overlays: Temperature, Radar, Humidity, Pressure, Wind Speed, Forecast Hi, Forecast Lo, Satellite, NWS Alerts* and Lightning Strikes*
  • Deep integration with BlackBerry OS, such as forecast for events in BlackBerry Calendar, current weather for BlackBerry Contacts and weather within BlackBerry Maps
  • Weather alerts delivered to BlackBerry Inbox*
  • Enhanced customization: English/Metric units, show/hide alerts in Inbox and Calendar, turn on/off “my location,” set update interval, show/hide forecast hi or lo on home screen and turn on/off real-time alerts*
  • Precise weather conditions for GPS, saved locations and an unlimited number of static locations
  • Detailed alert maps with vector polygons and full NWS alert messages*
  • Three forecast levels: 7-day forecast summary, 7-day detailed forecast, 7-day hourly forecast
  • Forecast graphs: 7-day hi/lo, hourly feels like, hourly humidity, hourly wind speed, hourly dew point

So there you have it. PCMag’s free pick listed with all of the great features, in addition to WeatherBug’s own Elite app with even more great functionality. If you have not tried either, I would suggest you do. I believe either of them to be the best mobile weather apps in their class.

Bill Gates Vs Hurricanes

Bill Gates has done a lot of good over the years. Certainly his foundation is a fine example of this. So despite my misgivings with some of the things that Microsoft has done over the years, I was not really surprised to hear that Bill Gates is looking tackle hurricanes.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/HJydFJORWf4" width="350" height="288" wmode="transparent" /]

According to this article, it seems that some recent patent filings have lead people to believe that Gates is looking to control the weather. Yes, I am completely serious. He among others, are looking into ways of hurricane-suppression techniques. And based on his track record in life thus far, I am not willing to say that it could not be done. He has the money and the will…

At this point, the entire idea is merely just that – an idea on paper. There has not been any signs of life or evidence that this will even come to fruition. All of this said however, I think that the idea of some kind of hurricane reduction would be of benefits to thousands. Hopefully something like this will be implemented. Or would this be a bit too “Mr. Burns” controlling the weather?

T. Boone Pickens Wind Farms – There Is One Major Problem

After reading about T. Boone Picken’s adventures in wind power, and his ambitious goal of producing enough electricity to replace 20% of the power currently generated by natural gas, it reminded of what California has been doing for over 25 years. Just outside of San Francisco back in 1981, a wind farm was erected in the area known as the Altamont Pass area.

For those not familiar with this part of the country, the Altamont Pass separates the Bay Area from the San Joaquin valley. Those who have driven over the pass soon recognize the windy nature of the area, when their vehicle is jostled and buffeted by the wind. The wind farm, along with other wind farms in California, produces a meager 1.5% of the state of California’s electrical needs.

When my wife and I were living in the MotherLode,  we made frequent tripe to the Bay Area to visit family and friends. Our travels took us on I-580 which runs over and  through the Altamont Pass. There were times in which the turbines were either stopped or barely turning. You guessed it. No wind. No power.

Which makes one wonder. How many turbines is Mr. Pickens thinking will be needed?  Weather patterns sometimes change. What type of backup is going to be in place?

What do you think?

Comments welcome.


User Applications And APIs


When I first tried Twitter, I remember asking myself why am I even bothering with MySpace and Facebook. Because despite my hesitation with getting overly involved with social networking websites, my work generally dictates that I maintain some presence.

With Twitter, I found that I could both “social network” in addition to doing so on my terms, largely thanks to their great API. And as you can see here, in many ways, it is their API that makes Twitter so successful.

And this brings me to a contest that I happen to be a part of, for WeatherBug’s API. Well as of today, WeatherBug is officially launching a contest for developers interested in adding real-time, extremely local weather data to new or existing applications. This includes mobile, web based and installable platform specific applications. Perhaps one of the best known examples comes from Singer’s Creations.

If you program with PHP, C#, Python, Java, Visual Basic or any programing language for that matter, you might want to check into this contest. International developers encouraged to participate. There might very well be a new iPod touch in it for you.

Silverlight With Moonlight

I have been watching the Silverlight project for sometime now and I must say, it can indeed do more than Flash. It is also proving to be quite the portable solution as well I might add. But I am not typing this on a Windows box, I am using Ubuntu with Firefox 2.x (no beta 3 browsers for me).

So you might think that is means that I am never going to be able to use the wonders Silverlight when in fact, thanks to the Novell Sponsored Moonlight project, as of today, I can begin to. As it states here, this release of Moonlight is still what I consider to be alpha release as it does not yet support the Firefox 3 beta or anything to do with multimedia.

Great, so how do you test this then if there is no multimedia support? If you are on Linux and have been wise enough not to bother with the Firefox 3 beta (yuck, very beta), then you will be able to see Silverlight working nicely on your Linux box using two of the links below.

For my choice of test sites, I went to WeatherBug’s own Silverlight project, which was actually a Microsoft featured project on the Silverlight website. If you are running Silverlight, click on anything, the entire emulation of this Nokia application is fully interactive. I like it when the snow starts to fall myself. Another WB Silverlight project that is designed for their website can be found here.

Most of the Silverlight stuff I found on Google was for use on a Windows box as a Windows program. So if you want to try Moonlight out with some interesting ready to go Silverlight examples, I would suggest the links above. WeatherBug was on board very early with Silverlight, you can learn more about it here if you would like.

If you would like to further test out Moonlight, try out Microsoft’s Silverlight portal. There are a number of apps that may very well be compatible with Moonlight out of the box.

Week #6 With Vista RTM – Update

During week #6 of exploring Windows Vista, I started to play with what is called the ‘Sidebar.’ Basically, this is a bar that sits where you put it (defaults to the right side of the desktop) and will display ‘gadgets’ of your choosing.

It is similar to Yahoo! Widgets (aka Konfabulator), offered here.

The Sidebar allows the user to configure what are called ‘gadgets’ that come in a variety of flavors. These gadgets are basically mini-applications that connect to Web services to deliver business data, weather information, news updates, traffic maps, Internet radio streams, and even slide shows of online photo albums.

Gadgets can also integrate with your applications to provide streamlined interaction. For example, a gadget can give you a quick view of all your online IM contacts, the view from your calendar, or an easy way to control your media player. Gadgets can also have any number of dedicated purposes. They can be calculators, games, sticky notes, and more.

Additional gadgets can be downloaded online. Naturally you need an Internet connection for these gadgets to function properly. I tried using a gadget for my Gmail account from Google, and it worked just fine. So you are not limited to Microsoft stuff only, which was a pleasant surprise.

And if you don’t want to use the Sidebar feature, you can turn it off. :-)

I think that once Vista is in full swing, you will see more and more gadgets being offered that could make your daily computer chores somewhat simplified. I found that after using the Sidebar since first installing Vista RTM, it has now become a part of the desktop that I will be using now and in the future.

Bottom line: It’s a toy that every Vista user can try, then decide whether to use or not.

[tags]vista, rtm, sidebar, gadgets, weather, calendar, traffic, games, sticky notes, media player, gmail, news, contacts, yahoo widgets[/tags]

Christmas Wish List 2.0

For many kids throughout the world, it’s time to make up that Christmas wish list and check it twice. Now in the past, kids were restricted to using the postal mail system to get their requests in to Santa Claus before Christmas Eve.

Then with the advancement of the Internet, Santa wised up and began taking in email requests from those who were a little more tech savvy. An improvement to be sure, but Santa’s elves quickly became overburdened with email as they found themselves sifting through a bundle of Viagra ads and phishing schemes. In short, the elves were growing restless and for a time there, it looked as if a strike was imminent. Had it not been for the Starbucks outlet opening up inside of Santa’s workshop, things could have gotten ugly real quick. Luckily for Santa, coffee acts a tranquilizer to elves.

Hey, it was either ushering in the coffee franchise or firing all of the elves, only to outsource their jobs to Oompa Loompas. At the time, it seemed like the lesser of two evils.

Well, once things finally settled down a bit, something wonderful happened. Santa was struck by an idea to alleviate his growing cranky elf problem: utilize WeatherBug’s youCaster video technology to streamline the incoming gift requests! After all, the technology already existed and Santa had been using WeatherBug data for some time, now, when plotting out his yearly course. (What, you thought he used ESP to avoid those dangerous winter storms?) So for the big man in red, it was a match made in Heaven!

A short time later, Santa and WeatherBug worked out a deal that empowered the world’s children to submit their most recent wish list(s) to Santa directly, thus eliminating the need for any unruly elf intervention.

Unlike other past methods of holiday wish list submission, youCaster allows its users to show Santa exactly what they have in mind. Simply drag and drop pictures of your favorite items right into your video wish list in progress, then submit it. Santa will then email the user his receipt acknowledgment via email.

Now some of you might be tempted to call this a strategic partnership between WeatherBug and Santa’s “North Pole Enterprises, Inc.” Speaking for myself, I like to think of it as the next logical progression of Christmas wish list management. Yeah, this could very well be the beginning of Christmas Wish Lists 2.0.


It's Like The Weather Channel, But Accurate And Timely!

It has been my experience that you can do some pretty amazing stuff with Flash these days. One example that comes to mind is how people we once used to watch on TV have managed to carve out a name for themselves on the ‘Net by using Flash Video technology. Not only does it make the video cross platform, it’s just easier to access in general.
Continue reading “It's Like The Weather Channel, But Accurate And Timely!”

It's About The Data, People

As I stated back in August, WeatherBug (AWS) was working on some pretty cool projects that I have been anxiously waiting to come out. At the time of my tour in Maryland, much of their work in this area was still in development. So it was logical to put much of this on hold from my perspective until it was ready for public eyes.

Well, today is that day. Enter WeatherBug Labs. In the continuing effort to prove that they are a company that is about data, not desktop apps, WeatherBug has made some really exceptional strides in a variety of distribution methods for getting critical weather data out to the people. Below is a close up look at some of the recent ideas they have come up:
Continue reading “It's About The Data, People”