April 23, 2014

Keep calm, carry on and prepare

Combination berm-tower structure in profile view
Combination structures offer the advantages of two types of structures: berm and tower. In the berm-tower combination, the footprint in reduced by creating a tower platform that is accessed by a series of ramps and/or sloping berms and can reduce visual impacts of hardened towers or large berms. Credit: Ron Kasprisin, University of Washington

Written by John Schelling, Washington State Emergency Management The invitation to contribute my perspective on tsunami risk reduction efforts to “The Bridge” arrived on my tablet as I sat in the Snohomish County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Everett, Washington. There I was—working as part of the response and recovery effort to a major landslide (the Oso landslide, which occurred at 10:37 a.m. on March 22)–and presented with the question, …


April 4, 2014

Cutting back on refrigerants could drop greenhouse gas emissions

Models of the atmosphere can be used to simulate how synthetic greenhouse gases are transported around the globe. The yellow, green and blue areas show the highest concentrations of climate-warming Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) near areas with the highest emissions. Scientists used these models in combination with measurements of trace gases to calculate the amount of HFCs in the atmosphere, according to new research.
Credit: M. Rigby

By Alexandra Branscombe Originally posted on AGU GeoSpace WASHINGTON, DC – Phasing down powerful climate-damaging greenhouse gases used in refrigerators and air conditioners could prevent the equivalent of up to three years of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions from being released into the atmosphere, according to a new study. Research accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, calculates the environmental impact of phasing down …


March 21, 2014

The President’s Budget Request: A Mixed Bag for Science

The President’s Budget Request: A Mixed Bag for Science

The President’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15) is a mixed bag for science. According to the White House, the FY15 budget request strives to build on the progress made by Congress with the recent omnibus passage, while continuing to cut the deficit in a balanced way. For Earth and space science, the proposed budget contains both good and bad news.


February 26, 2014

March Madness

The most recent budget showdown has just barely faded over the horizon. The president and Congress can finally talk about something that doesn’t involve the contentious issue of doling out funding for the government to stay open and operating. We can finally get back to focusing on setting policy – or can we?


February 21, 2014

Aaaannndddd We’re Back!

Valentine's Day spirit at AAAS

Between the Arctic conditions and what felt like hurricane-force winds, Chicago was not the most enjoyable place to be in February. But did we let that dampen our spirits while attending the AAAS Annual Meeting? Absolutely not.


February 12, 2014


Every year, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) draws thousands of individuals from across the globe to their annual meeting. This year, the event will be held in the Windy City this Thursday, 13 February through Monday, 17 February. The temperature forecast looks to be in the teens. Brrrr.


February 10, 2014

Citizen-Scientists Find a Receptive Climate in Congress

Climate scientists meet with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA). Pictured from left to right: Dr. Matt Huber, Sen. Warren, Dr. Eric Davidson, and Erik Hankin.

Residing in a state that is about as blue as they come, I had reservations that participating in AGU’s Climate Science Day to visit offices of my Massachusetts congressional delegation would involve little more than preaching to the choir. Although that was mostly true, the staffers we met did sincerely seem to appreciate the visit. Still more rewarding for me, I was paired with a New Hampshire scientist and got to tag along on his visits to a mixed delegation. Well, it is mixed in terms of political parties, but, curiously, all four of NH’s senators and representatives are women. What’s that got to do with climate change science?


February 3, 2014

State of the Union Takeaways

Courtesy of the White House

Now that sufficient time has passed to digest the President’s speech, it’s time to figure out how our State of the Union wish list fared. Below are our three big points we wanted to see mentioned, and the president’s response, if any.


January 28, 2014

AGU’s State of the Union Wishlist

Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Every January, the president of the United States appears before Congress and the nation to reflect on the previous year and to set forth his agenda for the next 365 days. As President Obama embarks on his fifth State of the Union, the American Geophysical Union has put together a list of critical issues that should be included in tonight’s address.


January 24, 2014

The Biggest Surprise

"Legislators and staff members respect and value scientists"

The safe confines of my coffee shop and flashing terminal screen became the mainstay during my doctoral studies at Purdue University. As a computational modeler you spend days buried under lines of code trying to find a bug that you think exists somewhere between line 200 and 1000. I loved every minute of it, especially the times when you had a breakthrough, which could be as simple as watching the climate model produce output without crashing. I walked away from this world in August to head to Capitol Hill as a Congressional Science Fellow sponsored by the American Geophysical Union.