Dan's Outside

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

California’s ARkStorm

WeatherUnderground has a great post about ARkStorm, the historical (and expected at some future point) periodic “biblical” floods that can afflict California once every few hundred years when the “atmospheric river” of tropical moisture lines up just right… or wrong. I had previously heard of the 1862 even in historic reports that I have read in sources that were not specifically focused on weather or climatology, but now it sounds like climatologists are understanding the process more clearly. Rather than attempting a layman’s description of my own, I suggest taking a look at the link.

January 30, 2011 Posted by | Environment, History | Leave a comment

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

Hey, More Wilderness!

SF Gate reports that congress has voted to expand wilderness areas in nine states, perhaps the largest such moves in about a quarter century. Is that a breath of fresh air I feel!?

(Predictably, Republican opponents described the protection of a few more remaining bits of American wonder as a “land grab.” Funny, I thought they supported “land grabs…” But I guess that is only as the ones doing the grabbing are their corporate donors. ;-)

March 25, 2009 Posted by | Commentary, Environment | Leave a comment

To Quote Muir…

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything in the universe.”

This thought occurred to me just now as I came across a story in the New York Times about a possible link between earthquakes and dam construction in China – Possible Link Between Dam and China Quake.

Nearly nine months after a devastating earthquake in Sichuan Province, China, left 80,000 people dead or missing, a growing number of American and Chinese scientists are suggesting that the calamity was triggered by a four-year-old reservoir built close to the earthquake’s geological fault line.

A Columbia University scientist who studied the quake has said that it may have been triggered by the weight of 320 million tons of water in the Zipingpu Reservoir less than a mile from a well-known major fault. His conclusions, presented to the American Geophysical Union in December, coincide with a new finding by Chinese geophysicists that the dam caused significant seismic changes before the earthquake.

While the story reports that a quake on the fault would occur eventually in any case – that’s what happens on earthquake faults – the realization that human endeavors of this sort are not without unpredictable consequences could be extrapolated to other important (very important – e.g. climate change) environmental issues and argue for some caution.

February 6, 2009 Posted by | Environment | Leave a comment

Boy Scouts, Nature, and the American Way

From an article in SFGate:

The last large stand of woods in a Seattle suburb. A scenic canyon just outside of Los Angeles. Rangelands deep in the heart of Texas…. All are set to be felled, filled and bulldozed so that stately homes, a reservoir and perhaps even a hydroelectric plant may one day rise in their place.

Aside from their now unspoiled, ecologically sensitive settings, the lands share a common bond: The Boy Scouts of America sold them for development.

Sigh…

January 31, 2009 Posted by | Commentary, Environment | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Think climate scientists disagree about global warming? Think again!

A post in Dr. Jeff Masters Wunderblog sheds some light on the overwhelming agreement among climate scientists that human activity is affecting the earth’s climate:

According to a 2007 Newsweek poll, 42% of Americans believe that “there is a lot of disagreement among climate scientists about whether human activities are a major cause” of global warming”. I posed the same question to members of the wunderground community on Monday, and even higher 56% of them thought so. However, the results of a poll that appears in this week’s edition of the journal EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, reveals that the public is misinformed on this issue. Fully 97% of the climate scientists who regularly publish on climate change agreed with the statement, “human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures”.

Follow the link for the full story.

January 28, 2009 Posted by | Environment | Leave a comment

And While You're At It, Go Ahead and Inflate Those Tires

August 14, 2008 Posted by | Environment | 1 Comment

A Car Story

Since my outdoor adventures involve a significant amount of travel, and since the price of gas and environmental concerns make it more and more necessary to think about the impacts of such travel, I thought I’d write something about the car we bought last year. Yes, a Prius. Continue reading

July 29, 2008 Posted by | Commentary, Environment, Equipment | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smoke. Everywhere.

I escaped the worst of the awful smoke that covers vast portions of California this week by spending some time at near 10,000′ in the Yosemite backcountry. The smoke affected the views even that high, but it was much worse at lower elevations – as I discovered on my drive home last night.


California Wildfire Smoke and Yosemite Forest. Tioga Road, Yosemite National Park, California. July 10, 2008. © Copyright G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

And it only got worse as I continued my descent into the Central Valley. At one point it was so awful that – for the first time in my experience – the smoky pall actually made the sun disappear.

July 11, 2008 Posted by | Commentary, Environment, Sierra Nevada, Yosemite | 2 Comments

Speaking of the Darn Global Warming Thing

A couple interesting articles and more of the pesky reality-based evidence stuff:

Dot Earth: Federal Report Links Warming to Climate Extremes. A new federal report sees more harmful climate extremes accompanying a warming climate. [NYT > Science]

Dot Earth: Seas Rising Faster Than Realized. A new study indicates that heat held in by a building greenhouse blanket has largely accumulated in the oceans. [NYT > Science]

On a positive note, it sounds like many citizens are “getting it” and that the car companies may not be far behind:

The Smaller the Better, Automakers Are Finding. The demand for fuel-efficient small cars and hybrids is so fierce that automakers cannot produce them fast enough. [NYT > Business]

June 19, 2008 Posted by | Commentary, Environment | Leave a comment

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