The skies lit up over Russia back in February. It was frightening, and most everyone has seen various videos from Chelyabinsk, in the Ural region of southwestern Russia. But on a recent trip to a junior college in central California, I found many students didn’t know the difference between an event like the one in Russia and a comet. Word of a big comet later this year brought initial trepidation that it might hit them. No doubt, a teachable moment has arrived in 2013 regarding sights we can all see in the skies.
Weather conditions have always been critical to agriculture, transportation and commerce. Through the ages while humanity has engaged to better understanding the atmosphere, college courses in meteorology have appeared only recently. Through its scientific infancy, weather observation and forecasting was conducted by hobbyists with a bent toward general science. US military weather records were compiled by the surgeon corps at remote outposts for much of the 19th century. When the US Weather Bureau was formed in 1890 as a civilian operation within the Agriculture Department, a succession of academics was chosen to lead it. The Bureau’s first chief was Professor Mark W. Harrington from the University of Michigan. He held a Master’s Degree in mathematics and astronomy, continuing to teach after his bureaucratic tenure. Meantime, many of the modern constructs of atmospheric science were being developed by Norwegians early in the 20th century. For the first several decades that followed, these concepts were included in syllabi of several colleges and universities in geology or earth science courses.
February is ending on a dry and mild note. March will come in like a lamb.
The importance of knowing what the weather will be has been a practical necessity of agriculture and transportation for thousands of years. Simply viewing the sky to see what was coming in the next 15-30 minutes pushed the envelope of capability for most of history. But our relentless march toward the computer predictions of today was slow to begin. All the elements of what now makes up a sophisticated suite of models had to first realize a vast infrastructure that included several disparate branches of science and technology.
January has ended on an interesting note. It was more of an extreme month than you might think, even though no records were set.
Meteorology has evolved over the years from a necessary concern in agriculture and a critical element of marine transportation. In today’s modern era, weather is of vital importance for a wide variety of interests. Back at the beginning of human history, weather simply appeared on the horizon and people had no real foresight into what might happen tomorrow. A large part of contemporary atmospheric science is to know what’s out there, as explicitly as possible, and then plug observations in to prediction models. Modern technology has provided great leaps in our ability to “see” the clouds, precipitation, temperature, moisture content, wind flow and many other parameters. This capability to “nowcast” from a stationary platform and sample various ingredients making up the atmosphere is vital to accurately forecast the weather.
This is the age of science and technology. In medicine, information, economics
and many other fields, this modern era has allowed people of the civilized world to avoid daily threats in their lives and to their property ,through enhanced knowledge. Due to the vigilant experimentation of passionate scientists determined to wipe various plagues away, humankind
has been the beneficiary of tremendous improvement in the quality of life. Even the internet has brought about an ability to access any information about anything from nearly anywhere. In some ways, we are rapidly approaching a strange new time in which it may be possible to assess any type of weather whenever we want it. How incredible would it be to not only be able to dial up a rain shower when needed, but also to command the skies if threatening weather was coming and avert conditions that could damage or kill?
Every winter, for at least a short time, the sub-tropical jet stream combines with its northern counterpart, the polar jet stream, to bring a “Pineapple Express” to our state. Extreme rainfall with very high snow levels can deliver either beneficial rains or extreme rainfall resulting in major flooding.
As society evolves and technologies advance, an increasing number of people desire to minimize their impact upon the earth, understanding that everything is finite. Resources are limited. Supply and demand becomes more problematic with additional billions of people on earth to accommodate. So, a more deliberate accounting of what we have and how earth’s citizens can better utilize or re-use our resources has led to an “adjustment in our thinking”. Essentially, it is to be perpetually aware of humanity’s impact on the earth. Many people have altered their life style, placing ecological considerations above mundane routine.
October has ended slightly warmer and decidedly drier than average. This is a pattern we’ve seen since August.
The incredible storm affecting much of the US eastern seaboard and its huge population may have a long lasting impact. And many experts have stated that this so called “Frankenstorm” will have been the strongest storm residents of the east have ever seen- a storm without precedent. It certainly is potentially deadly and will wreak destruction from coastal storm surge, damaging winds and intense rainfall. But without precedent? Let me place this storm in its proper perspective.
Over the past 4 months I have highlighted a wide variety of disruptive weather that affects Americans. Each weather phenomenon is observable and sensed by humans and animals, plants and trees. But today’s topic involves a type of weather that goes mostly unnoticed by people. It is not monitored by rain gauges or thermometers or blowing hair. Today’s topic is Space Weather !
August ended on a slightly cooler note. However, the month has turned out to be the abnormally warm, the 5th hottest August since 1889 (124 years of records) and tied for the 22nd hottest month of all for Bakersfield. Heat Wave #4 lasted 17 days marking the second longest heat wave in the past 20 years.
“Moderation in all things”, is a famous quote. And it is certainly applicable to everything we do- from our balance of work and play, our balance of food and exercise, the balance of each person’s blood chemistry, etc. “Too much of a good thing is bad”- also a proverb we’ve all heard. I believe that everyday parts of normal lifewhen taken to excess will pervert their original intent. Be it anything from food to sex- what is consumed in proper proportions is good, but if consumed to excess it usually brings about unintended consequences.