Posts

April 26, 2015

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1:07 AM | Reflections on a packed week at #AAG2015
The AAG (Association of American Geographers) annual meeting is said to be the largest gathering of geographers worldwide. I don’t know whether this claim is true or not, but I do know, that this conference IS large. So if you ever feel alone as geographer, go to the AAG annual meeting and you will never […]

April 22, 2015

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7:40 AM | What Kind of Animal Are You?
Happy Earth Day, everybody! Have you paused for a moment and considered what a nifty planet we live on? It’s got all kinds of great stuff! I’ve shared a few of my favorite places for an... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

April 21, 2015

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2:08 AM | Cycling Chicago
Yesterday I had the privilege to spend some time with Steve Vance – of course on the backs of bicycles, riding through some neighbourhoods in Chicago. Steve is the mastermind behind the Chicago Bike Guide and a dedicated OSM mapper . It was a great experience to connect with a local who is deeply rooted […]

April 20, 2015

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5:09 PM | Communicating science and ocean currents – an interesting mix
This week I had a couple of guest posts at Canadian Science Publishing and on Science Borealis. 1. Scientists Must Communicate! But How? This post provides a list of seven ways in which you can communicate your science, from small local events to multi-day workshops. Multiple links throughout connect you to a range of resources…

April 18, 2015

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8:07 PM | As 2015 Begins With Record Warmth, is the Pacific Primed to Dump Huge Amounts of Heat Into the Atmosphere?
It's official: According to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, the first quarter of 2015 has set a new record, with the January through March period coming in as the warmest such period on record across the globe's land and ocean surfaces. The month of March was also ranked warmest by NCDC in a record dating back 136 years. The Japan Meteorological Agency concurs, whereas NASA, which does its own independent analysis, ranked March as third warmest. That's a distinction without much of

April 17, 2015

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2:34 PM | "Bombogenesis": Watch as a Storm in the North Atlantic Explodes into a Powerful Cyclone
https://youtu.be/tbI_Dxo2zSA Want to cook up a nice meteorological stew called "bombogenesis" (otherwise known as explosive growth of an extratropical cyclone)?  Here's the recipe: Take a low pressure system mix in a big dollop of heat coming off the Gulf Stream. Now, move the developing storm into the North Atlantic where you've got relatively warm air to the southeast and frigid, polar air to the northwest. Stir... The video above shows what you […]

April 16, 2015

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7:19 AM | When it’s worth teaching …
Teaching obligation – doesn’t sound very attractive. Why? Because generally it means much work for little money and almost no reward. Apply for a job in academia. What are the metrics of your qualification? Publications. Impact points. Don’t worry, this is not another discussion about quality metrics in academia, but a very clear statement, that […]

April 15, 2015

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3:58 PM | Seen From Space: High Winds Kick up Big Dust Storm in Nevada and California
Last week I shared a dramatic animation showing a massive sand storm sweeping across the Arabian Peninsula and across the sea to India and Pakistan. Yesterday, the action shifted to the desert southwest of the United States: People from southern California to Utah experienced high winds and blowing dust — including the dust storm seen in the animation above. (To get your geographic bearings, click on the thumbnail at right.) In terms of size, there was no comparison. Even so, winds

April 13, 2015

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8:15 PM | Lorries ARE dangerous, but there’s a lot more to consider!
Currently a vivid discussion about HGV’s threat to bicycle safety is going on. A major reason for this is a series of fatal accidents in London . In the wake of this discussion, the European Cyclist’s Federation (ECF) published a blog post by the organization’s Safety Policy Officer, Ceri Woolsgrove. He investigated the ratio between […]

April 12, 2015

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7:00 PM | On loss, language and nature
Consider all the losses that occur without our notice. The friend who stops calling, and you only realize six months later that you haven’t heard from them in a while. The bird that no longer overwinters in your yard, but you only notice the second winter it fails to appear. Lately I’ve been reading about…

April 11, 2015

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5:04 PM | Winter Postcard from Antarctica: A Green Auroral Lightning Bolt From the Blue
A green lightning bolt zapping a British habitation module on Mars? Well, of course not. It's actually a display of the aurora australis setting the winter sky on fire above the Halley Research Station in Antarctica. The aurora australis is the Southern Hemisphere's version of the aurora borealis. You can call them the "southern lights." The photo above is the second 'postcard from Antarctica' sent by Thomas Welsh, the station's winter manager. I posted the first one on March […]

April 10, 2015

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7:23 PM | Taking a few side roads
While I’ve written a few posts here recently, I’ve also been busy elsewhere and thought I’d share some of my posts that have come up on other blogs. Over at Canadian Science Publishing: 1. What is a scientist? A scientist is someone who wears a lab coat 24/7, right? Who speaks in a language the…

April 09, 2015

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7:18 PM | The Living Room
Producer Briana Breen and the podcast Love + Radio bring us a story about a very eventful year in the life of an accidental voyeur.
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2:52 PM | Odds of El Niño Continuing Through Summer Upped to 70%
In its monthly update, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center today said the odds of El Niño continuing into Northern Hemisphere summer have increased to 70 percent. This is up from 50 to 60 percent last month. According to the report: By the end of March 2015, weak El Niño conditions were reflected by above-average sea surface temperatures (SST) across the equatorial Pacific (Fig. 1), and by the expected tropical atmospheric response. During an El Niño, trade winds […]
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6:14 AM | New Record Low for Arctic Sea Ice, Plus More Sobering News About Western U.S. Snowpack
| See update below| The extent of Arctic sea ice in March hit a record low for the month in the satellite era, according to the latest update from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Back on February 25, a record low winter ice extent was set. SEE ALSO: It's Now Official: Arctic Sea Ice Sets a New Winter Low The satellite image above, acquired on April 3, shows dark open water in the Fram Strait between Svalbard and Greenland. At this time of year there is typically more sea i

April 08, 2015

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3:47 PM | Watch as a Massive Sandstorm Sweeps Across a Region Nearly as Large as the Contiguous United States
It began relatively modestly as a few plumes of sand blowing out of the northwestern portion of the Arabian Peninsula. Within less than a day, it had transformed itself into a monster. Or, more accurately, a gargantuan "haboob" — a sandstorm that ultimately swept down the entire peninsula and all the way across the Arabian Sea to Pakistan and India. SEE ALSO: Deadly Snowboob Envelops Ontario From April 1 through April 6, the sand moved across an […]

April 05, 2015

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12:50 AM | Watershed management: the big and the small
I live in the Shawnigan Lake watershed – a 110 km2 parcel of land edged by the hilly topography of the glacially scraped coastal hills, with the jewel of Shawnigan Lake nestled almost directly in the middle. The lake is a key drinking water source for many who live along the lakeshore, though it sees…

April 04, 2015

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9:00 AM | PSA: Bluffs Aren’t Bluffing – Use Caution!
Bluffs are inherently unstable landforms. They’re gone in a geologic eyeblink, which means they can be dangerous. No matter how solid and stable that big, beautiful bluff looks, be cautious... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

April 03, 2015

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10:27 PM | North of Drought-Plagued California, Snowpack in the Cascades is at Record Lows Too
The news out of California this past Wednesday was so grim that it once again grabbed headlines away from another region that is suffering too. Following Wednesday's news that snowpack in California's Sierra Nevada range is virtually gone, today the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service announced that snowpack in the Cascades of Oregon and Washington is also at record lows. You can watch it pretty much vanish year to year in the animation above. I created it using […]

April 02, 2015

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5:38 PM | VIDEO: Radiolab Presents: Radio Ambulante
As a follow-up to our story Los Frikis, we're bringing you a translated version of Radio Ambulante's story on the same subject.

April 01, 2015

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7:13 AM | Famous Fools for Fool’s Gold
So what would you do if I said, “Look! I got you some gold!” and handed you a chunk of this? Well, you would look at those lovely well-developed crystal faces, for one. You would maybe... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

March 31, 2015

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9:42 PM | Here We Go Again... Super Typhoon Maysak Swirls in the Overheated Pacific Ocean — And it Just Set a Record
Micronesia's Caroline Islands have been taking a beating today from Category 5 Super Typhoon Maysak. As of 2 p.m. today EDT (morning on Wednesday in Micronesia), the Joint Typhoon Warning Center pegged Maysak's strongest sustained winds at 160 miles per hour, with gusts to 195 mph. This makes Maysak "one of only three Category 5 storms ever observed in the Northwestern Pacific prior to April," according to Jeff Masters of Weather Underground. Also, Maysak's development has caused tw
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7:29 PM | Robber Barons Would Have Loved Facebook’s Employee Housing
Yours truly, reporting for Wired: Of course, elaborate, amenity-filled campuses are nothing new to Silicon Valley’s big tech firms. Google’s microcosm looks and feels like nothing so much as a college campus with a zillion-dollar endowment. Many current Facebook employees presumably eat at the Facebook BBQ pit, relax on the Facebook plaza, and exercise at […]∞
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6:25 PM | Costa Rican electricity has been fossil fuel free for months
Lizzie Wade, reporting for Wired: Like Paraguay, Colombia, Brazil, and many other Latin American countries, Costa Rica gets most of its energy—about 80 percent—from hydroelectric plants. Damming rivers has environmental consequences too, obviously, but the energy from the resulting power plants is carbon-free. Hydropower is also more reliable and easier to scale up than existing […]∞
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1:27 PM | Let’s Talk About Designer Wild Critters, Not Designer Babies
Yours truly, writing at NOVA Next: While the world frets over whether CRISPR, a powerful genetic engineering technique, should be used to alter the DNA of our children, a pair of researchers in San Diego achieved something more sweeping and, according to some scientists, equally disconcerting. In a paper published yesterday, Valentino Gantz and Ethan […]∞
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2:01 AM | Watch the West's Snowpack Shrink Dramatically Right Before Your Eyes in Striking Satellite Image Animations
On March 18th, I posted a story about the other big drought story you need to pay attention to — not the one in California, which has been garnering most of the headlines but the one that has been afflicting the Colorado River Basin. Since then, I've been keeping an eye on how our snowpack has been doing. And now, at the end of the month, I'm sorry to report that it's not doing well at all. The main culprit: High temperatures — outrageously so in some areas — have […]

March 28, 2015

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11:30 PM | Finding home
Spring is out in full force on the West Coast, punctuated by pink cherry blossoms, yellow forsythia, and the delicately sculptured white blooms of sweet-scented magnolia. Red-winged blackbirds are puffing up to squeeze out their buzzing marsh song, and the nighttime frog chorus has become deafening, like those rocky Atlantic cliffs shown on British nature…

March 27, 2015

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6:50 PM | Antarctic Ice Shelves are Thinning Rapidly — and the Losses are Accelerating in West Antarctica
Yesterday, I posted a story about the Halley Research Station on Antarctica's Brunt Ice Shelf. I titled it a "Winter Postcard from Antarctica," and it included photos and comments about life at the station from Tom Welsh, the wintertime manager there. Well, I was so busy putting that post together that I missed the big news yesterday about Antarctic ice shelves in general: They are thinning faster than previously thought. This is a big deal because these ice shelves act like dams […]
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12:29 AM | As Seen From Space: Russian Volcano Throws A Tantrum
Shiveluch is at it again. The volcano — one of the largest and most active on Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula — erupted yesterday, belching a giant plume of ash high into the atmosphere. You can see the plume in the animation above. I created it using two images captured by NASA's Terra satellite. In the natural color image, Shiveluch's eruption plume is brownish in color. In the false-color image, tiny water droplets make the plume appear white, […]

March 26, 2015

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6:25 PM | Winter Postcard From Antarctica: Life on Ice at the British Halley Research Station
Back in February, I stumbled across a Tweet about a 'not so nice day' at the British Halley Research Station in Antarctica. It featured a photo of a person wearing ski goggles and a big puffy parka being pummeled by wind-blown snow standing in front of an intriguing structure in the background. A 'not so nice day' at Halley VI Research Station...Read more about life on an #Antarctic base http://t.co/VqhT1wa3gH pic.twitter.com/tJUse3eCKq — Antarctic Survey (@BAS_News) […]
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