Dr Thunder Wonders

On the adventures (or non-adventures) of an weather guy

Thursday, September 21, 2006

First Snow

At a conference last week. A very interesting and integrated view of climate change in the state of California was presented. Everything from paleo, to present, to future climate scenarios and how its impacts may be felt, and if it may be mitigated.
A few interesting tidbits

-A 1m rise in sea level will inudate 500 sq km of the Sacramento Bay Delta
-80,000 sq km of the state has been converted into Agricultural Land
+The impacts of Agriculture on climate appears to drop day time high temperatures and raise nighttime low temperatures...though the jury is still out
-Aerosols emitting in cities appear to decrease precipitation in the Sierras
-The ponderosa pine (lowest growing pine in the Sierras) has migrated upward 527 meters over the past 150 years
-A dry cow emits 14 thousand pounds of CO2 per year, a lactating cow emits 18 thousand

LINK O'WEEK: Check out some of the presentations here

Driving back through the Sierras we encountered the first snow of the season (mark your calendars, Sept 15). Coincidentially there was a beach volleyball tournament in Tahoe...interesting mix, a white volleyball in a white court! Not sure if they still wore their speedos.

Thanks to my Mom! She helped me sort things out as I moved into my new apartment. I will post pics when I have a chance.

Still working too much. I need to make it a policy to leave before the sun sets...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The fallacies of Living in a "Model" home

So the apartment complex where I will eventually be a tenant has graciously allowed me to stay in one of the model apartments. They gave me a rather large two bedroom unit decked out with nice furniture, wine bottles, and bed's made for a king. However there is more to this than meets the eye, and I am here to dish out the truth of the matter.

The bed I have slept on while appearing comfy, is actually nothing more than a glorified box spring atop a boxspring. This bed has exactly 72 sharp coils that violate me at night! It is so rough in fact that when you roll over at night you get burns, and I now realize that my elbows are scabbed up because of a bed. Another matter of fact is that these beds are a bit shorter than "normal" beds to give the room a larger feel about it - either that or I grew to 6'5".

Another interesting fact to note is that the shower has only a half curtain. Essentially to showcase the shower. Yet the functionality is pretty sad, as to take a shower and not wet the floor of the entire bathroom I must use my body as a makeshift shower curtain.

Finally, a couple random things...there are food items in the pantry. Yet they are unopened and hollow! I guess this is supposed to make you feel more at home. Yet they have decrepit food items that you would have found at Lucky's before it turned into Albertsons. I am not exactly digging the corn beef hash (aka dog food for humans) that is prominently displayed in the cabinet. They also have some fake deodorant in the bathroom cupboards. Don't ask me why.

I worked a bit less this week, only since it was a four day workweek. I talked a bit to an NPR reporter who is covering the regional climate change issue in the state of California. I am presenting a poster next week in Sacramento at a California Energy & Climate conference. We are trying to diseminant an objective way to classify regions of California into climate divisions (essentially by seeing how stations vary with one another). It is pretty tough to put together anything sound in such a short time on the job, so it is a work in progress. I'll let you know what comes of this.

Since I have been in Reno it has smelled like one big campfire here. There is essentially a fire every other day here (well not in Reno, but in the Tahoe forest, or surrounding environs). Not a bad smell, but certainly a bit scary considering that the hillside about 1 mile from my apartment burned in August.

Finally, unbeknownst to me, there has been an explosion of hot air balloons in the skies of Reno. I had no idea what was going on, it was as if these people in their balloons knew something that I didn't. Had the fires encompassed Reno, was an earthquake about to happen, was it the end of the world? No, it is the Reno Balloon Races, an event that has occurred for the last 20 years or so. It is a real float parade where balloons of all shapes (and crazy people who drive them) take to the skies in the early morning hours. Apparently they have races and also there are targets around town where they attempt to drop things into? Anyhow, it is pretty funny since these balloons tend to land wherever they please. I saw one about 200m from my office yesterday, and another one atop a Safeway this morning.

Link of the week: http://www.bobrivers.com/ Bob Rivers show: a great funny and informative morning show based in Seattle. I've been listening to their podcasts for the last 6 months or so, great stuff.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Week One

Well, one week on the job and 55 hours at the office later...

Let me briefly tell you of the things that I still do not know
(1) All but a handful of people's names
(2) Where the bathrooms are
(3) How to use the computer system there
(4) What the heck I am supposed to be doing

I will be working with a montronsety of station data collected from hundreds of locations across the great state of California with the objective to form a climate index (e.g., temperature, precip) for the state which may be great use to citizens, policy makers, energy + water companies... This may sound rather simple, yet one must understand that the climate in say Santa Monica varies in a different fashion from that in Woodland Hills, even though the two locations are really not that far in distance from one another. In addition station data is taken in coop-type forms such that individual observers note the temperature and precip...it turns out that many days the observer was "sick" or "drunk" or what have you and hence has a missing day (or string of days) which lead to an incomplete record. Also, there are stories of an observer (stationed in Bakersfield, for example) who went on vacation in Florida, and took his instruments with him and recorded the data in Florida, yet it is included in the Bakersfield record! So there are tons of nuances that you must push through before even doing any kind of analysis.

OK, so now that I have bored you with that let me mention a few things about Reno/Sparks.
(1) They have traffic reports on the radio...But unlike in SoCal they last for about 10 seconds only to report, "there are no traffic problems at this time". This means that you can drive 10 miles in 10-20 minutes (depending on how ambitious you are).
(2) Gambling is omnipresent. At the grocery store and drug store (e.g., Safeway, and Longs Drugs) there are slot machines behind the checkout line, all manned by little old ladies who needless to say, have been exposed to the elements
(3) Outdoors. As the metropolitan area is surrounded by mountains, there are plenty of great mountain views and lures. I am sure when my mom comes to visit she will insist on doing some rock hunting like many of the people who settled here in the first place. My roommate for the time, a clay mineralogist, is very interested in the many rock quarries and outcrops. I might be too, if I happened across some Silver, the state's emblem. I will keep you posted on that behalf.

I am looking forward to this 3-day weekend to get my feet back under me. Although, rest assured my labor day will likely consist of labor. Hopefully for the rest of you, you will take this day as it is intended.

Pictures to follow, as soon as I can dig through my stuff to find my camera. Stay tuned!

Link of the week: Google moon, take a close look!