Posts

September 26, 2014

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12:45 PM | The Politics of Fracking: Polarization in New York State
While public opinion is fairly skewed against the fracking process, policy actors in New York State can best be described as polarized. Predictably, the pro-fracking group generally disagrees with environmental groups while the anti-fracking group generally disagrees with the oil industry. Policy actors in New York had stark differences in answers on a wide variety of questions.
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12:17 PM | The hackathon is coming
The Geophysics Hackathon is one month away! Signing up is not mandatory — you can show up on the day if you like — but it does help with the planning. It's 100% free, and I guarantee you'll enjoy yourself. You'll also learn tons about geophysics and about building software. Deets: Thrive, Denver, 8 am, 25–26 October. Bring a laptop. Need more? Here's all the info you could ask for. Even more? Ask by email or in the comments.  Send your project ideas The […]
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12:05 PM | Friday fold: passively folded marble
It’s Friday! Here’s Baxter, last Friday, in Athens, Greece. He’s checking out some folds in the marble that’s everywhere in that city: This is a lovely example of passive folding, where all the rock layers being folded have about the same viscosity (low viscosity contrast between layers). No buckling, as a result… Enjoy the weekend, hopefully passively!
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11:00 AM | GeoEd: Under review
In this month’s GeoEd column, Sam Illingworth tells us about how teaching undergraduate students about peer review can help eliminate bad practice. To anybody other than a researcher, the words peer review might seem like a fancy new age management technique, but to scientists it is either the last bastion of defence against the dark […]
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11:00 AM | Brazil Refuses to Join UN Pact to End Deforestation
Leaders from 27 nations and representatives of big companies signed a historic pact to stop deforestation by 2030, but one crucial player -- Brazil -- is notably absent. Continue reading →
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9:30 AM | Friday Photo (129) – Annual Conference
  GfGD Annual Conference 2014 A selection of photographs taken from the GfGD Annual Conference, hosted and supported by the Geological Society of London. The event focused on the skills required to make a long-term, effective contribution to international development. (Credit: Geology for Global Development, 2014)
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6:44 AM | Your questions on climate sensitivity answered
This is a re-post from Roz Pidcock at Carbon Brief How sensitive is the earth to carbon dioxide? It's a question that's at the heart of climate science. It's also complicated, and scientists have been grappling with pinning down the exact number for a while now. But while the exact value of climate sensitivity presents a fascinating and important scientific question, it has little relevance for climate policy while greenhouse emissions stay as high as they are. Nevertheless, each time a new […]
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2:59 AM | Saharan Dust Storm Below Towering Thunderstorms
Here are the particulars of the image, and what you are seeing from NASA Earth Observatory: More dust blows out of the Sahara Desert and into the atmosphere than from any other desert in the world, and more than half of the dust deposited in the ocean lifts off from these arid North African lands. Saharan dust influences the fertility of Atlantic waters and soils in the Americas. It blocks or reflects …
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1:39 AM | Pac-Man Aggregate Mining
I was doing some of my volunteer work on the Whatcom County Surface Mining Advisory Committee (SMAC). One of the issues we are dealing with is trying to balance the new goals and policy with the fact Whatcom County ended what the then county geologist referred to as Pac-Man (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pac-Man) miningPac-Man mining was a means of avoiding Department of Natural Resource mining and restoration permitting by keeping the size of the mine under 3 acres. After mining 3 acres, […]
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1:30 AM | Tmetoceras Ammonite Fossil
Here is a picture of a Tmetoceras scissum ammonite fossil at the Museo di Paleontologia at Sapienza University of Rome Italy. Creature existed in the Middle Jurassic Period. Image taken in June 2014.
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1:24 AM | Dead Rat Journalism, and The Ethics of Communicating Scientific Uncertainty
  I spent all day Monday (and part of Tuesday) at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, attending a seminar on the ethics of communicating scientific uncertainty. It was hosted by the Environmental Law Institute with funding from the National Science Foundation, and it brought together a diverse group of lawyers, journalists and scientists. I was one of two meteorologists invited (Jason Samenow of the Washington Post being the other) …

September 25, 2014

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11:08 PM | freezing samples
A comment on this post reminded me of an occasional problem with managing environmental samples: getting them too cold.I have two "war stories" about freezing samples:1. I was working on an island, and a blizzard blew in as we were wrapping up groundwater sampling for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) - small vials, no headspace allowed. We ended up fleeing and leaving the coolers where they were. We came back two days later, fought our way through epic snow drifts, and found that all our VOC […]
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9:42 PM | Bárðarbunga daily update 25-September-2014
This is the current status of Bárðarbunga volcano at 21:42 UTC. This information might go outdated quickly. Eruption continues in Holuhraun and shows no signs of stopping. The lava field is now larger than 40 square km. I … Continue reading →
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9:38 PM | Probably not betting on sea ice, again
Over at NoTricksZone they claim they’re desperate to bet that (Arctic) sea ice will increase, not decrease, in the “future”. However, the cheapskates are only offering $1k, which isn’t worth getting out of bed for out to 2022. I offered them $10k, and a closer date, and guess what – they jumped at it! No,…
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9:23 PM | Ich war einst ein Wikinger
Das Internet vergisst nie. Das mag manchmal trivial, manchmal ärgerlich sein. Dabei ist es vermutlich egal, ob wir Google und andere Suchmaschinen zum Löschen von Einträgen auffordern, oder es bleiben lassen. Aber die Merkfähigkeit des Netzes soll hier nicht das Thema sein, ich schweife ab. Oder auch nicht. Denn unter den diversen Dingen, die das Netz über uns und unsere Vergangenheit zu berichten weiß, sind manchmal auch verstaubte Perlen der eigenen […]
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8:22 PM | Contingency planning in the Upper Colorado River Basin
Water managers in the Upper Colorado River Basin are beginning to roll out details of their contingency planning aimed at preventing Lake Powell from dropping to troublingly low levels. Among the key steps being discussed, according to a presentation Monday by New Mexico’s Kevin Flanagan to his state’s Interstate Stream Commission (more over on my ...Continue reading ‘Contingency planning in the Upper Colorado River Basin’ »
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7:55 PM | 8 Ways We Can Strengthen Development and Increase Climate Resilience
President Obama this week announced a set of actions designed to help populations here and abroad develop better resilience against drought, sea level rise and other consequences of a changing climate. At The Earth Institute, the International Research Institute for Climate and Society has been working on these issues for years -- making regular climate forecasts, insuring farmers against bad weather, and using data to better anticipate outbreaks of disease, manage water resources and improve […]
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5:49 PM | Join the Crowd: Scenes from the Climate March
Student Jane Rebecca Marchant was one among the hundreds of thousands who joined the People’s Climate March Sunday, and she took a lot of photos. You can see her photo essay on the march on the website of the Morningside Post, the student-run newspaper at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs.
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5:42 PM | Geo 730: September 25, Day 633: The Other Rocks
The rocky island from two days ago is to the left in this photo, and you can see a larger one in the foreground and a third in the back right. The foreground rock is also covered with nesting birds, which commenter Bob P. identified yesterday as predominantly common murres (I think there are some cormorants in there too, the black ones in the second crop in yesterday's post). Whodathunk, when this Columbia River Basalt erupted some 16 to 18 million years ago, that it would later be infested […]
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4:52 PM | Renga for the Fifth Season: Phats Valley Residency
no proper vantage I look to weather.com can the app explain why I cannot read the sky from within the fifth season? September’s insects my ears must turn to find you no use, you call from every mountain as you search for your spring summer autumn winter formal connection. the silhouette of Corn Hill the mounds of […]
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4:30 PM | Ancient Fish Remains Fertilize the Amazon Rainforest
Dust from the Sahara blows minerals from fish fossils across the Atlantic and helps plants grow in the Amazon rainforest.
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2:42 PM | Person For Scale – You Know You’re a Geologist When…
There are lists hopping around the Internet about ways to tell if you’re this or that. One of my favorites is the You Know You’re a Geologist When… list. There is a lengthy discussion of the signs and habits of … Continue reading →
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12:18 PM | Where do we go but nowhere?
New Zealand’s general election is over. The National Party has won itself another three years in government. With a probable overall majority and the support of three fringe MPs, prime minister John Key and his cabinet will be able to do more or less what they like. Given the government’s performance on climate matters over […]
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5:48 AM | Adventures in Creationist Earth Science Education: In the Beginning…
For a while, now, I’ve planned a series on the kind of creationists who like to run around calling themselves geologists and invade GSA meetings under false pretenses. People like Steven... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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5:29 AM | Citizen scientists classify storms for the Cyclone Center
Taking measurements of the Earth’s weather and climatic state is challenging in many ways. One challenge is that we just don’t have sensors everywhere all the time. Sometimes we can use automated sensors (like Argo ocean floats or satellite imagery). But other times, scientists have to put their boots on, fire up a vehicle, and get out in the world. One great example is with hurricanes/cyclones. The best measurements of cyclone strength come from flights of airplanes through the […]
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3:09 AM | Silicate Minerals and Bowen’s Reaction Series
Essentially all of the solid Earth, except for the slimy biological parts, is composed of minerals. Minerals on Earth may be divided into several categories, depending upon their composition and structure. Carbonate and phosphate minerals are important for life, in … Continue reading →
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1:30 AM | Idmonea Bryozoan Fossil
Here is a picture of a Idmonea clathrata bryozoan fossil at the Museo di Paleontologia at Sapienza University of Rome Italy. Image taken in June 2014.
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12:53 AM | Revitalizing Africa’s Soils
To feed our burgeoning global population, the world has to at least double crop yields by 2050, by improving seeds of high yielding crops and cultivating healthy fertile soils. A new on-the-spot soil testing kit will help meet this challenge.

September 24, 2014

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10:16 PM | 97 Hours of Consensus reaches millions
On 9/7, Skeptical Science launched 97 Hours of Consensus. Every hour for 97 consecutive hours, we published a quote from a climate scientist, as well as a hand-drawn caricature of the scientist. We had a simple goal: communicate in a playful fashion the overwhelming scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming. Now that the dust has settled, we've had a chance to analyse how the campaign went. The result exceeded our expectations. Millions of people were exposed to the 97 quotes […]
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9:47 PM | Bárðarbunga daily update 24-September-2014
This information is going to get outdated quickly. Current status in Bárðarbunga volcano at 21:47 UTC Eruption in Holuhraun continues at the same phase as yesterday. There is however just one or two crater erupting at the moment. … Continue reading →
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