Dan's Outside

I go, I see, I do, I walk, I think, I like…

Bad News for Climate Change Deniers

Although the preponderance of evidence clearly points to warming global temperatures in recent years, there are those who prefer not to accept the evidence. One thread that got a lot of coverage during the past few years was the claim that poor siting of weather stations used to acquire long term temperature data had biased the trend towards an imaginary increase in average temperatures.

It turns out that the deniers had a valid point about the siting of the measurement equipment. Quite a few stations were “poorly sited” – too close to buildings, near vents, next to parking lots, etc. All of these factors could throw off measurements and create faulty data.

So, were the deniers correct that the evidence of warming from these stations was the result of poor siting?

It turns out that they had it exactly backwards. Careful studies comparing the results from the poorly sited stations to the results from properly sited stations show that the poorly sited stations were actually biased to produce incorrectly COOLER readings than the correctly sited stations. To state it another way, the deniers were correct in noting that measurement sites were not optimally placed but when the biases from incorrect sites are accounted for it turns out that the rising temperature trend is confirmed… and perhaps slightly more significant than scientists first believed.

Not that any of this will given the deniers a moments pause…


January 25, 2010 Posted by | Commentary, Environment | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Death Valley and the SoCal Recent Storms

Being a regular Death Valley visitor – and probably a Death Valley return visitor in the next month or two – I like to keep up with the conditions in the park. If you aren’t familiar with the place you might envision static, hot, dry desert conditions in all seasons. You would be very wrong! I’ve most often visited around the beginning of April and I’ve seen everything from hot (upper 90 degree range) to snow (more than once!) and on several occasions rain and a few memorable dust storms. When rains do occur it isn’t unusual for there to be floods, some of epic proportions. (Within the last decade there have been several very serious floods than have led to major damage and deaths.)

I’ve been thinking about this during the past week’s huge storms in the Southwest – storms that have brought record low pressure systems to much of the area, created tornadoes, dropped snow to low elevations across several states, and dropped a lot of precipitation. Recently, photographer Bob Young shared with me the web address of a great resource for current conditions in the Death Valley area. (Thanks, Bob!)

From the report I read there today, it sounds like the storms hit DV fairly hard. Many (most?) back-country routes have been closed by rain, mud, and/or snow – including some of the popular locations such as Titus Canyon and the Racetrack. I get the impression that some of the low lying areas that can become flooded during wet years may indeed be flooding. While I don’t know the full extent of the conditions, I’m wondering if we might see some interesting and unusual water “events” this year and whether this might produce another exceptional wildflower bloom in a month or two.

January 23, 2010 Posted by | Places | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Death Valley and the SoCal Recent Storms

Yosemite's Delaware North Companies Customer Service: Mea Culpa

I hate it when I blow it. Double-hate it when I do it so publicly. But better to own up and apologize.

I earlier posted a message about what I thought was a customer service issue with my Yosemite lodging reservation. But it was my own error and my fault. It took me a while, but I finally figured out that I gave DNC the wrong confirmation number – from a previous visit – when I called.

My earlier post was simply dead wrong. I am contacting DNC now to apologize for my error.

I must now report clearly and unequivocally that I have had no negative experiences with DNC, their personnel, or their facilities on my many visits to Yosemite. In fact, on this occasion, when I played the part of “confused but insistent and annoying customer” to the hilt, they remained respectful and helpful and even followed up with me directly by telephone.

I want to extend my apology to the reservation person, and I have so informed the DNC customer service person who called me later this afternoon. I thank her for her call to talk to me about the situation and for her calm, friendly, and helpful demeanor. I am in the process of deleting my posts on this topic along with replies based on my original mistaken post, and I have corrected or commented on those I cannot delete. The original text of this post has been replaced by what you see here, and any remaining links to it on the net should go to the text you are now reading.

From the “Lessons Learned” department…

It is probably good to occasionally be completely and publicly wrong when you think you are completely right. Embarrassing and no fun… but perhaps good for the soul once in a while. A bit of humility is a good thing, and today I managed to re-teach myself that I sometimes need a bit more of it.

And that it is a good idea to think twice, three times, or even more before posting certain things on the net…

January 22, 2010 Posted by | Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Better prospects for a good wildflower year?

After several years of below-normal rainfall, it is great to find myself living through a week of solid rain with more on the way! (It is interesting to watch the “typical” El Niño pattern play out – tons of rain heading toward central and southern California.) While it is too soon to know how the season will ultimately play out, for the first time in a few years we are currently ahead of normal for rainfall in the lowlands and for snowfall in the Sierra.

One question that outdoor folks are wondering about is: “Will this be a big wildflower year?”

  • It was after similar heavy rains a few years back that the deserts – especially Death Valley – experienced an unusually spectacular wildflower bloom, and desert plants are uniquely adapted to take advantage of rare wet periods by reproducing like crazy! I’ve heard some early speculation that this could be another big year for desert wildflowers if this keeps up. On the other hand, at least one report suggested that the rain might have arrived a bit late.
  • I’m pretty certain that this will be a good year for coastal and lowland wildflowers – I’m betting on it! This flora generally got an early start with heavy rains back in October, and while it hasn’t rained a lot between then and now it hasn’t been totally dry either.
  • I’m also hopeful that a good Sierra snowpack may enhance the bloom and perhaps extend it a bit later in the season. During the previous major El Niño event in the 1990s, I recall still coming across high elevation wildflowers and green plants well into September!

    January 22, 2010 Posted by | Commentary | Comments Off on Better prospects for a good wildflower year?

About this blog…

I realized recently that I haven’t posted here in some time – despite the fact that I post daily or more frequently at my photography blog, sometimes on related subjects. I haven’t quite decided yet whether it is better to:

  • get my act together and post here again more regularly, or
  • do all of my posting in one place at the photography blog since it is sort of related, or
  • just leave this content here as a sort of archive since people still visit the older stories regularly, or
  • something else that will come to mind shortly.

    My preference is to get this blog going again, and that may become a bit more likely as we move toward spring and so forth. We’ll see…

    January 22, 2010 Posted by | Commentary | Comments Off on About this blog…


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