Embattled UK climate scientist steps down

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:53 PM GMT on December 03, 2009

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The embattled director of the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU), Dr. Phil Jones, announced that he will be temporarily standing aside as director. An independent review of his conduct in light of the emails illegally hacked from his computers last month is in progress. In a press release, Professor Jones said: "What is most important is that CRU continues its world leading research with as little interruption and diversion as possible. After a good deal of consideration I have decided that the best way to achieve this is by stepping aside from the Director's role during the course of the independent review and am grateful to the University for agreeing to this. The Review process will have my full support".

The University and the police are investigating the break-in, and it is currently unknown if this was the act of an insider or an external break-in. I think it is highly unlikely this was the work of an insider in a whistle-blower type of action, since a computer at realclimate.org was hacked into the same week (via a computer in Turkey), and the criminal attempted to upload the emails stolen from CRU to the realclimate.org server. This is not the sort of action a whistleblower would do. Dr. Gavin Schmidt of realclimate.org said in a comment yesterday that the CRU break-in appeared to have been done from the outside, into a backup mail server. It is unlikely the hacker acted alone, since hackers aren't typically intimately familiar with the details of the climate change science debate. The emails and code stolen were selectively culled by someone who appeared to have considerable expertise in climate science.

What did Dr. Jones do wrong?
So, what did Dr. Jones do wrong? For starters, he should have confronted the allegations raised by his critics immediately and talked candidly to the press about some of the specific accusations being made. For example, one of the emails contained the statement that he would like to "redefine what the peer-reviewed literature is" to exclude two questionable papers from the IPCC report. Well, that's not something a good scientist should seriously advocate, and is an impossibility, in any case. No one can redefine the peer-reviewed literature, since the rules for this are well-established an not subject to change. When I read the comment in the context it was made, it reads as a joke. There is no discussion in the hacked emails about how to go about redefining the peer-reviewed literature. In the end, the two papers Jones was referring to with this comment, McKitrick and Michaels (2004) and Kalnay and Cai (2003), ended up being cited and discussed in Chapter 2 of the IPCC AR4 report. Those intent on discrediting the science of human-caused global warming are spinning the comment differently, creating a controversy about something that is impossible to do, and was not being seriously suggested. Jones should have immediately spoken up to quash the hype on this comment.

The "trick" to "hide the decline"
Another area of concern is over a graph Dr. Jones helped construct in 1999 showing the "hockey stick" of Earth's surface temperature going back 1,000 years. This graph combined instrumental measurements made since the 1800s with older paleoclimate data (including data from tree rings) to show a continuous 1,000 year record of Earth's temperatures. The paleoclimate data after 1960 show a bogus decline in Earth's temperatures that does not agree with what modern thermometers have been measuring, due to a well-known variation in tree ring thickness as a function of time, referred to as "the decline". Thus, Jones elected to toss out the bogus paleoclimate data (using a "trick" to "hide the decline") rather than present it in the graph. The graph was not properly labeled to show this was done, so viewers of the graph would have had needed to be familiar with a 1998 paper published in Nature or the 1999 paper referenced in the caption on the graph, which explained this well-known data issue. The graph that Jones used his "trick" on was put into a 1999 report called the "WMO Statement on the Status of the Global Climate". The report was given to policy makers, but was never published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. No reputable climate scientist believes that the paleoclimate data since 1960 is of higher quality than the instrumental record (this is discussed in detail in Chapter 6 of the 2007 IPCC report). In order to make the "hokey stick" graph less confusing, removing "the decline" from the tree ring data is a reasonable thing to do--provided one labels the graph properly. The graph was not properly labeled. Does Jones' "trick" and failure to properly label the graph constitute data falsification, or was it merely sloppy science? The hacked emails contain no suggestions that the "trick" was done to intentionally fool people, and the "trick" never appeared in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, including the IPCC reports. In Dr. Jones' words, "This is well-known and is called the "decline" or "divergence". The use of the term "hiding the decline" was in an email written in haste. CRU has not sought to hide the decline. Indeed, CRU has published a number of articles that both illustrate, and discuss the implications of, this recent tree-ring decline, including the article that is listed in the legend of the WMO Statement figure".




Figure 1. The WMO 1999 "hockey stick" figure (top) with climate reconstructions and instrumental temperatures merged, and a version (bottom) with the climate reconstructions (coloured) and instrumental temperatures (annual & summer in black) shown separately. Note "the decline" in the temperature obtained from tree ring data (green curve) in the bottom curve. Image credit: University of East Anglia.

Global warming contrarians are spinning the "trick" as reason to discredit the "hockey stick", claiming that the data was falsified to hide the fact that tree rings were telling the real story. Since the hockey stick was falsified, some claim, the entire science behind human-caused global warming needs to be questioned. This is plain ludicrous. The graph was never published in a scientific journal. Several updated versions of the "hockey stick" graph have been published in the ten years since the disputed graph was produced, and the "hockey stick" can be reproduced in essentially the same form excluding the controversial tree rings, using other paleoclimate data such as boreholes (See Mann et al., 2008, Figure 2). Furthermore, the peer-reviewed science supporting human-caused global warming is not based solely upon the "hockey stick" and the CRU data used for the last 150 years of the hockey stick graph. There are three separate data sets of global temperatures maintained by NASA, the CRU, and NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, that all show essentially the same global warming. We also have evidence from nature herself in the form of plants and animals expanding their ranges poleward, the record loss of Arctic sea ice in 2007 and record loss of multi-year Arctic sea ice this year, the shrinking of mountain glaciers, reductions in the length of freeze season in many Northern Hemisphere lakes and rivers, the shifting of spring blooms earlier in most regions of the world, and on and on and on. Again, Jones should have spoken up immediately to kill the ridiculous hype being pushed by global warming contrarians about the importance of a 10-year old graph that is now scientifically irrelevant, and was never published.


Figure 2. The "hockey stick" of global temperature anomalies since 300 A.D., as published in a 2008 paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Mann et al.. Even if one excludes tree rings (blue curve), the hockey stick looks the same.

Resistance to releasing data to other researchers
The hacked emails also show that Dr. Jones resisted releasing his data to contrarians and urged others to delete emails regarding Freedom Of Information (FOI) related requests. Many countries protect their weather data under an international agreement called World Meteorological Organization Resolution 40, which prohibits the data from being made public (this is why wunderground can't give out the UKMET model forecasts on our web site, for example). About 5% of the CRU data fell in that category, making release illegal. However, deleting emails related to FOI requests is inadvisable and implies one has something to hide. The investigation should certainly pursue the issue of whether Dr. Jones properly handled the requests to turn over his data to outside researchers. Ideally, weather data documenting Earth's climate history should be free to everyone on the planet (I am not a big fan of WMO Resolution 40). However, another aspect to this issue is the time it takes for the scientists involved to prepare the data for release. Large, complicated data sets require extensive documentation and access to related computer codes in order to process them, and making the data available to every amateur investigator interested in the data puts an unfair burden on the scientists who maintain the data sets. In particular, an amateur climate science investigator named Stephen McIntyre, who runs the web site Climate Audit, has created such an issue. McIntyre, a retired mining executive and an investor, is not a professional scientist, but has been successful identifying several technical errors made in the published literature. He has also generated a huge amount of misleading and incorrect information over the years, and has done a tremendous amount of damage to the understanding of climate science. McIntyre is intent on discrediting the science of human-caused global warming--presumably for ideological reasons, since he has no obvious ties to the fossil fuel industry--and has generated a large number of Freedom of Information requests to further his cause. One of the hacked emails, from Dr. Ben Santer, complained that McIntyre's FOI requests were intrusive and unreasonable with no scientific justification or explanation given, and appeared to be a calculated strategy to divert Santer's attention and focus away from research. It's worth reading Santer's reaction to the hacked email affair to learn more. Given such tactics by McIntyre, Dr. Jones' resistance to FOI requests from McIntyre is understandable, but appears to have been poorly handled.

The science of human-caused global warming remains unaffected
None of the hacked emails reveal any conspiracy to publish falsified or "fudged" material in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. The science of human-caused global warming will require no revision as a result of this affair. Baseless accusations of fraud, data manipulation, and conspiracy against climate change scientists stemming from the hacked emails are being massively hyped by the Manufactured Doubt industry in an effort to discredit climate scientists, since no flaw with the science can be found. Most of the public is in no position to distinguish good science from bad, so if you can create doubt, uncertainty, and confusion, you can win--or at least buy time, lots of it. The hacked email affair is all about politics, not science. Dr. Jones is an excellent scientist, but unfortunately was over-matched as a politician. It was hardly a fair fight--one scientist against the political might of the mightiest PR campaign against science ever waged, armed with some selectively culled stolen emails taken out of context.

Other posts in this series
The Manufactured Doubt industry and the hacked email controversy
Is more CO2 beneficial for Earth's ecosystems?

Next post
I'm working on a post called, "Don't shoot the messenger", and plan to run this Sunday or Monday.

Our Climate Change expert, Dr. Ricky Rood, will be in Copenhagen for Monday's start to the crucial COP15 climate change treaty negotiations. Be sure to tune into his blog for updates on the talks. Wunderground has provided financial support for several University of Michigan students to attend the talks, and I may be featuring portions of their blogs over the coming weeks.

Jeff Masters

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1325. IKE
12/04/2009 0735 PM

Jackson, Hinds County.

Snow u0.0 inch, reported by public.


Snow is picking up in intensity at Jackson State
University





12/04/2009 0738 PM

Jackson, Hinds County.

Snow u0.0 inch, reported by public.


Moderate to heavy snow reported at Metro center mall with
accumulations on car tops and grassy surfaces. Light snow
reported at medical mall.





12/04/2009 0738 PM

Jackson, Hinds County.

Snow u0.0 inch, reported by public.


Moderate snow reported at Metro center mall. Light snow
reported at medical mall.





12/04/2009 0722 PM

Clinton, Hinds County.

Snow u0.0 inch, reported by trained spotter.


Light snow beginning to fall in the Clinton area. No
accumulations.





12/04/2009 0710 PM

Jackson, Hinds County.

Snow e0.0 inch, reported by broadcast media.


Light snow falling now at Memorial Stadium in downtown
Jackson... reported by wapt-TV and wadm-TV
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46 to 37 in about 90 minutes...

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From same place, different views. Yeah, dat's snow in Livingston Parish.



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Quoting atmoaggie:

Better, but I am thinking it is conservative on the snow line...

This looks like snow to me. In Walker, one parish east of Baton Rouge...middle of it, really.



Awww! Look at Walker! Im just a tad south of them. Come south snow!
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1240
1321. amd
Will the east coast and the inland areas in the east coast states have their first real accumulating snow of the meteorological winter season? My only concern with possible snow accumulations from north carolina to the upper mid-atlantic (including the NYC area) is the lack of arctic air at the surface.

For instance, in Houston, about 3" of snow fell from the clouds according to ABC 13, however there was very little accumulation in much of Houston because temperatures ranged from 33-35 degrees.

Will there be enough cold air to allow for temperatures to get below freezing and allow for snow accumulation, or will a lot of people get their first snow along the east coast, but have almost no accumulation?
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Quoting Drakoen:
This radar is more accurate:


Better, but I am thinking it is conservative on the snow line...

This looks like snow to me. In Walker, one parish east of Baton Rouge...middle of it, really.

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Reporting 1 inch here in Lumberton, Texas mostly 3:00 - 6:00 p.m.
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1318. Walshy
...
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1317. Walshy
Quoting natrwalkn:


GREAT!! Bring on the cold air!




Most of the rain in that image is not reaching the ground. However, it shows us that the atmosphere is starting to get more moist and widespread rain will develop tonight.

Cold air is lagging behind out west. Therefor, snow will be closer to the mountains of NC until afternoon Saturday when a mix of snow/rain could occur east before the moisture leaves. It might not make it to Raleigh if the moisture leaves to soon. Greensboro might see some mix precip after 1pm.
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http://pajamasmedia.com/?p=73717
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1315. Drakoen
This radar is more accurate:

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1314. Drakoen
Quoting atmoaggie:

I can tell ya, it is NOT reaching ground level still frozen in southern St. Tammany Parish.

Those precip type radars are so misleading when the conditions are tenuous...


I know. I checked the weather stations. It looks like the rain/snow line is around Baton Rouge; south of there is just rain.
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Quoting Walshy:
Atlantic moisture on the increase spreading west.




GREAT!! Bring on the cold air!
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Quoting Drakoen:

I can tell ya, it is NOT reaching ground level still frozen in southern St. Tammany Parish.

Those precip type radars are so misleading when the conditions are tenuous...
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Quoting Drakoen:


Is the blue supposed to be all snow? Because thats alot more then the actual radar shows.
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1240
1310. Walshy
Atlantic moisture on the increase spreading west.


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1309. Drakoen
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Ohh please let it snow in mobile county!!!!!!!
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1307. IKE
Quoting alaina1085:

Im only 15 miles south of BR and looks like we wont get any snow... that sucks!


You should get some.
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Quoting weatherman874:


You will

you think? I hope so.
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1240
Quoting alaina1085:

Im only 15 miles south of BR and looks like we wont get any snow... that sucks!


You will
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Quoting IKE:
Snow in Louisiana...

Alexandria...Baton Rouge...Fort Polk...Lafayette and Lake Charles.

Im only 15 miles south of BR and looks like we wont get any snow... that sucks!
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1240
1303. IKE
Snow in Louisiana...

Alexandria...Baton Rouge...Fort Polk...Lafayette and Lake Charles.

Mississippi...

McComb...Vicksburg.
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um, is there a misrepresentation of the snow on the accuweather radar?
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Greenhouse Gas research...




Gaseous State
Reuters

Scientists measure methane at the source: In a lush pasture near Buenos Aires, this cow and its compatriots are digesting important information: how much methane—a greenhouse gas 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide—is released by the country’s 55 million bovines. Researchers from Argentina’s National Institute of Agricultural Technology connected inflatable tanks to the cows’ first stomach, where methane is made, through a small hole between their ribs.

By measuring methane production directly inside each cow, biologist Silvia Valtorta hopes to more accurately determine the country’s overall agricultural contribution to global warming. According to the data, an average cow releases more than 70 gallons of the stuff every day. But a change in diet could reduce that. Cows that eat mostly grain produce 20 to 25 percent less methane than grazing cows, and adding tannin—a bitter chemical found in wine—to the feed could lower it further.
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Baldwin County, AL. 49.3*, Dew Point 41.3*, Wind 0.00. No rain within 75 miles on radar but it's sprinkling.
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Any Louisiana snow pictures anybody????
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting kanc2001:
all the snow weenies have crashed the eastern wx board


Come on! Everybody has to take turns having snow!! LOL..
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting Inyo:


I agree with the last part of this. In fact, I think the science should be removed from policy entirely. The scientists should not be getting involved in politics either way, scientists are generally not good politicians and visa versa. They should be generating data that will be used to set policy. (ie: the problem needs to be determined seperately from the solution). This holds true for all sides of this whole mess. And I don't think that one scientist makes a laughing stock of all scientists, any more than ENRON's actions mean that every single businessman is crooked.


Just remember, 'Good news is no news.', so even if it was only one, if the news looks better with the whole group smeared, that is how it will be.
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1296. xcool
kanc2001 lol
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
all the snow weenies have crashed the eastern wx board
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Quoting xcool:
Winter Storm Warning for slidell la now .n.o yay


AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS LA
512 PM CST FRI DEC 4 2009


.DISCUSSION...THINGS ARE EVOLVING QUICKLY JUST WEST OF US. AS
FEARED BY PREVIOUS FCSTR WITH THE SUN GOING DOWN RAIN HAS QUICKLY
STARTED TO CHANGE OVER TO IP/SN AND THEN COMPLETELY OVER TO SN.
REPORTS OF A MIX HAVE BEEN REPORTED AS FAR EAST AS LFT SO FAR.
WITH THIS WE ARE TRYING TO STAY AHEAD OF THE GAME AND HAVE
UPGRADED PORTIONS OF THE ADV TO A WARNING FOR AREAS ALONG AND
NORTH OF 1-12 EAST TO I-55. CALLING FOR 1-3" OF SNOW IN THE
WARNING AREA AND WOULD NOT BE SURPRISED IF WE GET ISOLATED HIGHER
AMOUNTS. THE REMAINDER OF THE ADV AREA REMAINS UNDER AN ADV WITH
SNOW FALL TOTALS OF .5" TO 1.5" THE HEAVIEST SNOW SHOULD OCCUR IN
NRN PORTIONS OF THE ADV MAINLY WALTHAL COUNTY AND WASHINGTON
PARISH. /CAB/

Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
1293. IKE
Lafayette, Louisiana (Airport)
Updated: 30 min 22 sec ago
Light Snow
36 °F
Light Snow Mist
Windchill: 27 °F
Humidity: 93%
Dew Point: 34 °F
Wind: 13 mph from the North
Pressure: 30.20 in (Falling)
Visibility: 4.0 miles
UV: 0 out of 16
Clouds:
Mostly Cloudy 900 ft
Overcast 1500 ft
(Above Ground Level)
Elevation: 39 ft
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1292. xcool
Winter Storm Warning for slidell la now .n.o yay
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
“North American temperatures would have been considerably colder in 2008 had there been no human-induced warming influence present,” Perlwitz said.

ROTFLMAO!
How much is "considerably" exactly? 1*C? And how do you know?

No one can quantify exactly the effect of our existence on surface temps. It simply is not possible.

I hope she didn't really say that out loud...sounds more than a little assuming.
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WINTER WEATHER WATCH NEW ORLEANS METRO!
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1289. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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1288. Walshy
Quoting natrwalkn:
How frustrating!! Some forecasts for Greensboro say nothing but rain and others say up to 3" of snow.




Rain to start off in your area and mixing with wet snow after 1pm and ending around 6pm with accumulation less than half a inch unless your in one of those lucky spots in the afternoon that sees heavy precip.

Up to half a foot possible for the counties west of me near the western slopes of North Carolina above 3,500 feet.

Im thinking 1-2inches for me around 1300FT unless the recent models keep the consistency of heavy banding over the Blue Ridge which is where im near, it might be more.

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1287. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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Here she comes, heads up tonight folks in SFL


1285. Skyepony (Mod)
Today a bit in NOAA news concerning the climate change..

“We found that North American coolness resulted from a strong bout of naturally caused cooling in the tropical and northeastern Pacific sea surface temperatures,” said Martin Hoerling, a NOAA meteorologist and co-author. “This illustrates how regional patterns can vary independent of the overall global average. In 2008, global land temperatures were the sixth warmest on record, whereas it was the coldest year in North America since 1996.”

The analysis included historical data and climate model simulations that were conducted in the U.S. and internationally. The science team discerned both natural and human-caused influences for 2008.

“North American temperatures would have been considerably colder in 2008 had there been no human-induced warming influence present,” Perlwitz said.

The scientists conclude that the North American temperatures are likely to resume increasing again, and do not see the recent coolness as an emerging downward trend.

“Our work shows the importance of the role of natural climate variability in temporarily masking or enhancing human-induced climate change. Through diagnosis, we ensure that natural changes, when occurring, are not misunderstood to mean that climate change is either not happening or is happening more intensely than the expected human influence,” said Arun Kumar, a NOAA meteorologist and co-author.

Authors of A strong bout of natural cooling in 2008 are Judith Perlwitz, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Boulder, Colo., and NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colo.; Martin Hoerling, NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colo.; Jon Eischeid and Taiyi Xu, both of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Boulder, Colo., and NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colo.; and Arun Kumar, NOAA Climate Prediction Center, Camp Springs, Md.

The work was funded by the NOAA Climate Program Office.
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Quoting mossyhead:
The Mobile NWS is predicting rain with snow for the Crestview area after midnight.

The least they could do is issue a winter weather advisory for portions of the panhandle too...I mean come on, how often does FL receive one of those? I really feel they left us out on this one...
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How frustrating!! Some forecasts for Greensboro say nothing but rain and others say up to 3" of snow.
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1282. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting AstroHurricane001:

A very strong thunderstorm cluster is heading for South and south central Florida to the Lake Okeechobee area.
iam watin it
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
and snow will fall in fla

A very strong thunderstorm cluster is heading for South and south central Florida to the Lake Okeechobee area.
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1280. Skyepony (Mod)
Farewell old friend..

Satellite surpassed planned five-year mission

December 2, 2009


NOAA officially deactivated its Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-10 today after 12 years of service. GOES-10 tracked some of the most memorable tropical cyclones in history, including Hurricane Mitch, which devastated parts of Central America in 1998; and Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged the Gulf Coast in 2005.

NOAA anticipated the end of service for several months and began deactivating GOES-10 yesterday, when it fired the spacecraft’s booster moving the satellite into an orbit approximately 22,186 miles above the Earth. Today the agency finished its third, and final, firing of the booster putting it safely out of commission.

Launched in April 1997, GOES-10 was originally planned for a five-year mission. It was positioned as NOAA’s GOES-West satellite, more than 22,000 miles above the Earth’s surface. In 2006, a newer satellite, GOES-11, replaced GOES-10. NOAA then repositioned GOES-10 to support hurricane forecasting efforts in South America. NOAA anticipates moving GOES-12 to provide coverage for South America by May 2010.

“GOES-10 has served America – and other nations – admirably and well beyond its expected lifespan,” said Mary Kicza, assistant administrator for NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service. “The success of GOES-10, built by Space Systems/Loral, was a credit to a large team of NOAA staff and contractors, who acquired and managed the spacecraft and processed and distributed the data to users.”

Kicza added that with the help of its partners, including NASA, “NOAA is creating better satellites that will provide better data that improve our understanding – and prediction – of climate and weather.”

Currently, NOAA has four GOES in space: GOES-11 and GOES-12, which are in operation; GOES-13, in orbital storage and slated to replace GOES-12 when it is repositioned; and GOES-14, which launched this spring and is undergoing post-launch tests.

NOAA is planning the next-generation GOES-R series, set to begin launching in 2015. GOES-R is expected to double the clarity of today’s GOES imagery and provide at least 20 times more atmospheric observations than current capabilities.
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1279. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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Quoting AwakeInMaryland:
1269. CONCERNING...HEAVY SNOW

Go ahead...ya'll are killing me...what's considered "heavy" there?

I'll stop sassing ya'll now. It's time for supper. Thnx. for the fun.


The report indicates 1/2 to 1 inch per hour snowfalls over an area that sees 1 inch of snow every 6-12 yrs on average.
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
1277. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
and snow will fall in fla
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Quoting quakeman55:
Allright guys...what's the thinking now for snow in the western panhandle of FL? Temp is already down to 46, with a lot of hours to go for it to really start getting cold. I can't see why there can't be an extension of snow in the early morning hours as temps drop to the mid to upper 30's throughout the area. Mets still want to dismiss the idea of snow here...is it THAT crazy?
The Mobile NWS is predicting rain with snow for the Crestview area after midnight.
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Its snowing in Baton Rouge!
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1240

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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