According to an article posted by NBC.com, the levels of Arctic sea ice have shrunk to new lows covering an area less than have the size of the U.S. That can be significant for geo-political and economic reasons as well as climate and weather reasons. Our climate is controled to large extend by ocean currents and wind patterns. By melting the arctic sea ice, we reduce the amount of sunlight reflected back to space and increase the amount absorbed by the darker colored ocean waters. That in turn warms the air that blows over it which can then affect the weather patterns. It also thins the existing ice so that the amount of ice cover will vary much more over a shorter time period. The net result is our climate changes.
At the same time in an article published by Scoop Independent News, the amount of Antarctic sea ice is increasing...significantly. Why? Apparently ice that covers a continent such as Antarctica acts differently than ice that covers water such as in the Arctic. Both changes though will have an impact on our climate. Check out both articles for more.
We have discussed in class how much we human beings pollute our atmosphere. Mother Nature though, can make just as big of a mess when she blows the top off a volcano. This volcano in Central America, specifically just outside of Guatamala City, is over 12,300 feet high and it's sending ash another 2000 feet above that. While most of it is settling down wind leaving ash nearly one half inch thick on everything, some of it will be carried around the globe on the upper level winds. The net effect is a slight cooling of the atmosphere downwind. We won't notice the effect in our part of the world but it can have some short term climate effects around the equator. The added ash can lead to more cloud formation and possibly more rainfall where the ash remains in the air. The last volcano to influence our weather was Mt. St. Helens in Washington State. It exploded in 1980 and ash was carried on the Prevailing Westerlies all the way to Michigan. While the net effect was small, only a few tenths of a degree cooling for about a week. it did make for some beautiful orange sunsets.
Associated Press/Joey Mure
In a story posted by the Associated Press and put up on Yahoo, I was able to find once again why we need to educate reporters before they print a story...or at least have someone with knowledge of the subject proof read it before they send it out.
The lead paragraph states;" A tornado swept out of the sea and hit a beachfront neighborhood in New York City on Saturday...". Sorry, tornadoes don't come from the sea, they form from thunderstorms.
Next paragraph says,"Videos taken by bystanders showed a funnel cloud sucking up water, then sand, and then small pieces of buildings...". Funnel clouds don't touch the ground. If it does, it's then called a tornado. Tornadoes don't "suck" stuff up like a giant vacumn cleaner hose. Extreme wind sheer around the vortex rips things apart and blows them through the air. The result may at times make the tornado appear to be sucking things off the ground but that is not actually the case.
When people read this kind of journalism, they develop the wrong concepts about the world around us which educators in turn have to reteach correctly or we end up with "dark ages" knowledge like alchemy. Meteorology is often a victim of this because many people have folklore knowledge of the weather which most times is only somewhat correct. It is my hope that someday we will understand the importance of teaching Earth Sciences, not just Life and Physical Sciences, so our future generations can be as knowledgeable about all the parts of the world we live in.
Check out this link to a video of a huge solar flare that erupted on the Sun on August 31! Just click on the words "huge solar flare". There is an advertisement at the beginning for about 25 seconds but once that plays, the video is awesome. We have been talking in Science Topics class this past week about how these events affect our planet and ultimately our weather. This flare was over 3 solar diameters in length ( the Sun is almost 865,000 miles in diameter) and traveled at over 900 miles per second away from the Sun's surface! The blob of charged particles that it sent out, called a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), just missed the Earth but it did just glance our Magnetosphere. The result was an Auroral light display on September 3rd. The Sun is in the middle of one of it's cycles where it is literally rocked by huge geomagnetic storms. These storms send shock waves through our solar system. The picture below shows the Earth to scale with this flare. The cycle is expected to peak next year so we will continue to see these monster storms explode on the Sun more frequently over the next 12 -24 months. Ask your student to tell you about how solar storms affect our weather
My name is Mr. Carmichael. I received my B.S. degree in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma and spent 2 years as a tornado chaser. I have taught weather and climate for 20 years in Grandville Public Schools. I worked for 15 years as a Broadcast Meteorologist. I LOVE to talk about weather!