Your Big Gift
I'm stepping off the consumerism-treadmill this year. Why? More megapixels and gigabytes won't make me any happier; technology that's obsolete when I walk out of the store.
In the end all this "stuff" won't matter much. The magic of Christmas? The most precious gifts are staring us in the face: the hustle & bustle of gloriously inconvenient friends & family camped out under the tree.
No ties, socks or shiny-red Dopplers this year. Experiences trump things. Turn off your Facebook and surprise me with some face-time. Quality time with your (real) social network is the biggest gift of all.
Although, come to think of it, monogrammed snowshoes might make a lovely gift this year.
Last night's snowy burst has freshened up our Winter Wonderland; no more accumulating snow is in sight into the weekend. 20s will feel like sweet relief today; 30s likely Saturday before Canada sends a series of sweet, Yukon treats south of the border next week. Unnecessary chill spills over into the first week of 2014, but I see evidence of slight moderation by week two. Old Man Winter may take his foot off the gas within a few weeks.
Until then think warm thoughts and have a blessed Christmas.
New Cameras Aid Snowflake Research. Here's an excerpt of a fascinating article from The Salt Lake Tribune and The Register Guard: "They say every snowflake is unique. University of Utah researchers test that theory every time it snows at Alta Ski Area in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Multi-Angle Snowflake Cameras — constructed at the university and now being provided to other weather-related researchers — placed at Alta automatically kick on when snow starts to fall and record images until it stops. “Since April of 2011 we have obtained views of snowflakes that I don’t think have ever been seen before,” said Tim Garrett, a professor in the department of atmospheric sciences and lead researcher in the project. “We are seeing things that really are new and exciting. We are opening up scientific questions that we had not thought about before...”
Illinois Tornado Survivors Say "It Never Goes Away". This story, more than most I've read recently, captures the emotional and psychological toll of tornadoes and other forms of extreme, life-threatening weather. Here's an excerpt from NBC Chicago: "...So when you have those dark moments, those bad times, you're going to sense you're stuck in this morass, and that's when it's going to seem like it's worse. Then it's going to start up again." Now, the bad. "It never goes away. ... They'll never heal," said Bobbe Marion, who in 1990 survived the most violent tornado to strike the Chicago metropolitan area. "They're going to do the same thing we do. It gets nasty outside, and they're going to be afraid. "How do you explain to a kid what happened? Your house is here one minute, and you come back and now the house is gone, and maybe the dog is gone, and all your toys are gone..." (File photo from November 17m, 2013 EF-4 tornado in Washington, Illinois: Chicago Tribune).
Photo credit above: "A tourist wearing a protective mask looks at buildings at the Bund under heavy haze in Shanghai, China, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. Shanghai’s environmental protection bureau issued a “yellow” pollution warning this afternoon and said it was taking “emergency emission reduction” measures and recommended that children, the elderly and people suffering from heart disease or lung disease should stay indoors and cease outdoor exercises." (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko).
The 5 Top U.S. Weather Stories Of 2013. Here's an excerpt of a list compiled by The Capital Weather Gang that (in my humble opinion) has the right idea: "In the United States, the major weather stories of 2013 are somewhat contradictory. One the one hand, several horrible weather events occurred, from violent tornadoes in Oklahoma to record wildfires in the West to “biblical flooding” in Colorado. But the year also brought the fewest tornadoes in recent memory and a largely absent Atlantic hurricane season. Overall, 2013 is likely to finish with 8 billion dollar weather disasters in the U.S., down from 11 in 2012 and 13 in 2011 but up from the 4 in 2010 and 6 in 2009. Here are my selections for 5 biggest weather events of 2013 in the United States, presented in no particular order..."
Photo credit above: "Tornado passes across south Oklahoma City, Monday, May 20, 2013." (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Paul Hellstern).
Photo credit: Flickr/PrayItNoPhotography.
Image credit above: "An orographic cirrus cloud formation on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains, as seen at night by the Suomi NPP satellite on 12/18/13." (Source: CIMSS Satellite Blog).
Photo credit above: "Tacloban after Typhoon Haiyan: Climate models have improved in the past couple of decades, yet impact models which show the effects on agriculture, flooding, drought and even human health still have a level of uncertainty." Image: UK Department for International Development/Flickr.
Photo credit above: "A house in Mantaloking, N.J., severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Each of the town's 521 houses was destroyed or damaged in the storm." Mel Evans - AP.
"We need new production equal to a new Saudi Arabia every 3 to 4 years to maintain and grow supply... New discoveries have not matched consumption since 1986. We are drawing down on our reserves, even though reserves are apparently climbing every year. Reserves are growing due to better technology in old fields, raising the amount we can recover – but production is still falling at 4.1% p.a. [per annum]."- from a post at The Guardian, details below. Image above: Clean Technica.
Solar Activity Is Not A Key Contributor To Climate Change: Study. International Business Times has the story - here's an excerpt: "Variations in heat from the sun have not strongly influenced climate change, according to a new study conducted by scientists at the University of Edinburgh, which instead points the finger at volcanic activity and greenhouse gases for the planet's ever-changing climate patterns. The findings of the study, published in Nature GeoScience on Sunday, have overturned a widely-held scientific concept that long-lasting periods of warm and cold weather in the past might have been caused by periodic fluctuations in solar activity. The researchers examined causes of climate change in Earth’s northern hemisphere over the past 1,000 years and found that until the year 1800, the key driver of periodic changes in climate was volcanic activity..."
Photo credit above: " NASA/SDO/AIA.
Image credit above: "Counting birds at Christmas: Volunteers this holiday season are tallying birds as part of Audubon's 114th annual Christmas Bird Count, which helps scientists understand how birds are responding to various pressures, including climate change." (Michael Risinint/The Journal News).
"Increased heating from global warming may not cause droughts but it is expected that when droughts occur they are likely to set in quicker and be more intense."In the end, climate change is important because it affects our lives, our societies, and our economies; impacts that are occurring because of extreme weather. It is critical to be able to accurately assess the trends in observed extreme weather so we can better plan our mitigation and adaptation strategies. The old adage of "you don't know where you are going unless you know where you've been" seems to apply pretty well here..."
Photo credit above: "A new study finds that global warming will probably cause droughts to set in quicker and be more intense." Photograph: David Gray/REUTERS.