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June 12, 2014

New research questions emerge from Arctic melting

By Alexandra Branscombe Originally posted on AGU GeoSpace WASHINGTON, DC – What is hidden within and beneath Arctic ice? Why does winter matter? What is being irretrievably lost as the Arctic changes? These are just some of the emerging questions that scientists are being challenged to answer about the rapidly changing Arctic in a new report, “The Arctic in the Anthropocene: Emerging Research Questions,” released last month by the National …


January 13, 2014

The Polar Vortex Gets Its 15 Minutes of Fame

Every science has its own language and terms, and meteorology has more than most. It’s strange though how every now and then, a scientific term you’d only hear if you were listening to a group of meteorologists discuss weather gets turned into a water cooler topic. In 2012, it was the term DERECHO (dah-ray show), when one came through the mid-Atlantic (and knocked down a million trees and power lines from Ohio all the way to the Eastern Shore of Maryland).

Now, the polar vortex has gotten its 15 minutes of fame. The cold outbreak at the beginning of the year was certainly one of the more severe chills in a couple of decades, but by no means as bad as what we saw during several winters in the1970’s and 1980’s. In the past few days I’ve seen images on TV news of snow, frozen lakes, and high winds that were labeled as the polar vortex, but they were wrong. The polar vortex is high above the surface and what you were seeing in those news reports was, (wait for it), snow, frozen lakes, and high winds!

While my fellow meteorologists have cringed as the public tries to make sense of this new word in the public’s weather dictionary, I think it’s a wonderful teaching moment. Albert Einstein said that science should be made as simple as possible, but no more so, and I cannot accurately explain the polar vortex in one sentence (or even one paragraph), but I can do it in three or four. So, if you will bear with me, I promise it will be quite interesting and you’ll never look at a TV weather report the same again!


June 21, 2013

Science Policy Conference: ARCUS Arctic Forum Highlights Interagency Collaboration

The Arctic Forum track organized by the Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. (ARCUS) for the AGU Science Policy Conference will focus on interagency collaboration for arctic change research in the United States. Comprised of three sessions, all moderated by Dr. Brendan P. Kelly (Assistant Director for Polar Science, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President), the Forum will include remarks by science program directors from …


May 30, 2013

Melting Ice and Burning Questions for the Future

  As the climate changes, so do the impacts on society and the way we prepare for things such as severe weather, rising seas, droughts and wildfires, changing ecosystems, and melting glaciers. Looking at the world through the eye of a camera lens is one way that James Balog has been witnessing the impacts of climate change. One of his most recent works documents melting glaciers at various locations around …