Posts

March 02, 2015

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12:30 PM | Better thoughts
During my weird week, I also had a couple signs of beauty.  Both from my nieces, and one in the midst of sadness.  If I haven't reminded you before: I've got great nieces!First, from my niece Kristen, whom you've heard from before, an observation about science/scientists: Somehow I was chosen as one of two students who got to share dinner at an excellent Cuban place (which the school paid for) with most of the chemistry professors and the person who gave a presentation to us […]
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12:12 PM | Shear flow
Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities in a shear flow in Elbe river. Last week I talked about how I wanted to use the “Elbe” model in teaching. Here is another idea for an exercise: On the picture below you see Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities. They might be … Continue reading →

March 01, 2015

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8:57 PM | A weird week
Between people denying that there is a correlation between CO2 and temperature and several other items, last week was just plain weird for me.  A few pieces of, I hope, some more general interest.One is, of course, the reminder that CO2 is indeed correlated with temperature.  And, of course, since that original article is pushing 6 years old, I should make an update.  (Clue: The conclusions won't change much -- 6 years isn't large compared to the 50+ already used.)  But also […]

February 27, 2015

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4:57 PM | Diversity and extinction of tongues and species
Some years ago, at a rather posh function in a swanky London venue, I got talking to a peer of the realm. By this point I had been drinking my endless glass of wine for some time (they have stealthy waiters at these kinds of dos), and didn’t quite catch his name, but he had been, apparently, head of a large supermarket chain. And his response to me mentioning the word ‘biodiversity’ has stuck with me. “When I took over... Read more
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3:33 PM | EnviroHack 2015 kicks off
NERC's Head of Science Information and Data Management Coordinator, Mark Thorley, opened the NERC EnviroHack today.This 'hackathon' event provides an exciting opportunity to collaborate and create value from environmental data sets. EnviroHack was organised by the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH).Mark Thorley kicks off the NERC EnviroHack ©Data collected by environmental scientists are being made available for 'hackers' to explore […]
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12:43 PM | How can we use interactive flow simulations in teaching of hydrodynamics?
That was quite a teaser on Wednesday, wasn’t it? I said I had the solution to any hydrodynamics problem you might want to illustrate. So here we go: I recently had the privilege to be given a private demonstration of … Continue reading →

February 26, 2015

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5:13 PM | 10 Cool Facts About Dolphins
1. Dolphins are mammals and breathe air through the blowhole at the top of their head. Their blowhole doesn’t shoot out water, only air. 2. Killer Whales, or Orcas, are the largest dolphin and grow up to 23 feet (7 meters) long. 3. The most common and recognizable dolphin is the Bottlenose Dolphin. 4. Some […]
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4:21 PM | Rough Reputation: Are Invasive Species All Bad?
[php]Pick up any news article about invasive species and you may confuse it with a police blotter. Generally, invasive species are "almost bulletproof" "marauders," "terrorizing" ecosystems and wildlife. The one-inch amphipod Dikerogammarus villosus—better known as "killer shrimp"—is "vicious" and "violent,"...
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12:30 PM | Question place 2015
Time to hang out the shingle again for questions.  What would you like to know about?In the mean time -- See Dr. Kate Marvel's distressingly accurate description of the peer review process.  Fortunately it isn't always like that.  Unfortunately, it sometimes is, or at least is close.  While you're at it, add her to your regular reading.  See her also at @DrKateMarvel on twitter.Also, If you need your fellow scientists to be dry & stern & aloof in order to take […]
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1:20 AM | Do not flip-flop variables to make them work in your #@%*^& ANOVA
I was reading a paper this morning. It included a perversion of a common statistical analysis that is fundamentally wrong, utterly unneccesary, and has an easy solution. This perversion, unfortunately, is also distressingly common. Inspired by O’Hara and Kotze’s 2010 … Continue reading →

February 25, 2015

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3:11 PM | Rescuing historic Maltese tide gauge data
By restoring historic tide gauge data from Malta and making it available to the public, researchers at the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) and the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) hope to shed new light on past tsunamis and climate change in the Mediterranean.Chart from Valetta, Malta, 2nd April 1872, after undergoing conservation, showing the 'seiching' ©A tide gauge installed in the Maltese port of Valetta working in 1871 offers the only continuous record of the sea level in […]
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12:35 PM | Wave fields around objects in a channel
One of the reasons I have been wanting to do the vortex street experiment I wrote about on Monday is that it is pretty difficult to visualize flow fields (especially if you neither want to pollute running water somewhere in nature, nor want … Continue reading →

February 23, 2015

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5:05 PM | Unearthing Information About Invasives From the Bottom of a Cargo Ship
[php]I am once again leaving my familiar world behind and descending into the abyss below. The first dive of an entirely new expedition is the most magical. I am a member of a scientific research dive team studying biological invasions in coastal marine ecosystems off the coast of Bermuda for the Smithsonian Marine Invasions Research Lab. As I sink beneath the belly of a massive cargo ship, I glide my hand down the side of the vessel. The painted metal feels like smooth skin, but it is covered […]
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12:22 PM | Vortex streets on a plate
You might think that three hours of canoe polo on a Saturday morning would be enough water for the day, but no.  As when I did the experiment for the “eddies in a jar” post a while back, sometimes I just need to … Continue reading →

February 20, 2015

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2:53 PM | Hvalreki
Hvalreki really should have been the title of my last post. It is my favorite Icelandic word, which I learned visiting that country almost five years ago. It translates to “windfall” in English, and, like that word, originally referred to … Continue reading →
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11:14 AM | Exploding water balloons – again!
I am usually very motivated to write posts for this blog, but for some reason today I’m not. I have interesting posts scheduled for next week, don’t you worry, but today was supposed to be a review of some literature on teaching … Continue reading →

February 19, 2015

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12:30 PM | Forecast Evaluation
Boy, blow one historic blizzard forecast and people get all cranky*.  Except, as H. Michael Mogildiscusses, it was an almost perfect forecast.  For the specifics of that storm and its forecast, I refer you to Mogil's article.I'm going to take up the more narrow topic of forecast evaluation.  (Disclosure: I do work for NOAA/NWS, but, as always, this blog presents my thoughts alone.  Not least here, because I agree more with Mogil than the head of the NWS, Louis Uccellinni, […]

February 18, 2015

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10:59 AM | Signal velocity
How can a signal travel faster than the phase of a wave, or individual particles? I remember having a really hard time with the concept of a signal traveling faster than the phase of a wave or than individual particles … Continue reading →

February 17, 2015

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4:08 PM | Giant Squid Myths–True or False?
1. The eyes of the Giant Squid Architeuthis dux are the size of dinner plates. *TRUE* Giant Squid eyes are the largest in the animal kingdom. 2. The Giant Squid have tentacles 60 feet long. *FALSE* The longest measured dead Giant Squid was 43 feet (13 meters) long. 3. Giant Squid are the Kraken of […]
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12:30 PM | Chandler and the Chandler Wobble
The fact that the earth wobbles was expected/predicted long before it was observed, which makes for a couple stories about the nature of science and the people who do it.  The story of the Chandler wobble starts up almost a century before Chandler was born.  In 1765, the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler, whose name appears throughout mathematics and physics, was examining the mathematics for conservation of angular momentum on a rotating spheroid -- i.e., something like the […]

February 16, 2015

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4:09 PM | New blog -- Philosophically Purple
Very different topics than here, very different writing style, but one similarity -- a love of the universe.  Secondary similarity is that the author is my sister.  Philosophically PurpleFrom the close of her first note:You will have to forgive what I can assure you will be phrasing and punctuating that lives outside the happy boundaries of the Chicago Manual of Style. I am aware of punctuation, I just reserve the right to use it — and word choice — as I see fit. Yep, […]
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10:40 AM | Guest post: ‘OCEAN DRIFTERS – a secret world beneath the waves’
Today, I am very excited to share with you a guest post by Dr Richard Kirby, who recently produced an amazingly beautiful film on plankton (linked at the very bottom of this post, a MUST SEE!) Dr Richard Kirby – … Continue reading →

February 13, 2015

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11:11 AM | Standing waves in a tank
And really high order ones, too! On Monday, I showed you a movie on wave generation in Hamburg Ship Model Basin (HSVA)’s wave tank. At the end of that movie, we see that the wave energy is being dissipated by a … Continue reading →

February 12, 2015

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5:11 PM | Charles Darwin's Ocean Upwelling
[php]Charles Darwin is so well known he almost needs no introduction. The 19th-century naturalist and geologist spent his life documenting and collecting information on the natural world. From birds to flowers to invertebrates, living and extinct, all species and their distributions held his interest, and he yearned to explain the great diversity of life—the "endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful"—that he observed. After more than 20 years of reading, writing, asking […]

February 11, 2015

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11:13 AM | Stokes drift
When a higher-order effect suddenly becomes important. During our excursion to Hamburg Ship Model Basin (HSVA), one of the experiments we ran was on Stokes drift. You can already see in that post’s movie that there is some swimming thing moving down the tank in … Continue reading →

February 09, 2015

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12:30 PM | The earth wobbles
The earth wobbles about in its rotation.  This was predicted long before it was observed, which is a story itself that I'll tell later.  For now, consider the earth and its rotation.  The north pole of the earth points towards the north star, and rotates once per day.  Open your right hand.  Your thumb points north, and when you close your fingers, they are moving in the direction of the earth's rotation.  With your arm making a right angle at the elbow, hand […]
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11:34 AM | Wave tank
Excursion to Hamburg Ship Model Basin. I recently got to join a class on their excursion to Hamburg Ship Model Basin (HSVA, “Hamburgische Schiffbau-Versuchsanstalt” klingt so viel besser!). Those are amazing facilities and shipbuilding students are always excited to go there and … Continue reading →

February 06, 2015

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5:59 PM | Looking for Love? Online Dating Under the Sea
[php]Love is in the air at the National Museum of Natural History! Our scientists are helping species look for love in this series of “dating profiles” to celebrate Valentine’s Day. For more dating options head over to the Unearthed Blog from Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History! We're partial to the sea otter and the triplewart seadevil!...
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10:36 AM | Dictionary oceanography terms English-Norwegian-German – Work in progress: we need you!
For anyone interested: a couple of years ago we started working on a collection of translations of oceanography terms in English, Norwegian and German. If you find it useful, please feel free to use and share it! Oceanography terms: English … Continue reading →

February 05, 2015

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8:07 PM | Have We Hit The Chicken Little Point In Ocean Conservation?
[php]Credit: Illustration from "Chicken Little" in the New Barnes Reader vol.1, New York, 1916 The sky is falling! The sky is falling! So cries Chicken Little (or Chicken Licken, or Henny Penny, depending on the telling) in the well-known folk tale. In the story, an acorn falls on Chicken Little’s head, and she takes it as a sign...
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