Friday, February 5, 2010

Science stuff on a glass half full day

It's another rainy Friday here.  The rain is supposed to steadily increase throughout the evening with flash flood warnings out.  We decided to make it a boating weekend, regardless of the weather.  Tomorrow is supposed to be decent as is Sunday.  At least, we aren't getting the snow storm that is supposed to hit the mid-Atlantic.

The unusual amount of rainfall we have been having can be attribute to El Nino which is a climate pattern that began this year.  It is associated with floods, droughts, and other weather disturbances depending on the region of the world.  The temperature of the sea in the central and eastern Pacific region is above average which is bringing increased moisture across North America. The unusually warm sea surface temperatures in the western Pacific move east. That changes the heating pattern of the atmosphere, which in turn pulls the Pacific jet stream farther south. The interesting thing is that there will be below-average snowfall and above average temperatures through the central northern region of the US, excluding New England, while below-average temperatures are estimated for the south-central/eastern US.

I read letters to the editor almost every day saying that this has been a cold winter which is evidence that global warming isn't occurring. The cyclical pattern of El Nino has occurred for many years so even though there are colder temperatures in the South and more snowfall, the long-term trend in temperature indicates warming around the globe. However, it has been hypothesized that warmer global sea surface temperatures can enhance El Nino.  El Niños have been more frequent and intense in recent decades. There have been relatively more frequent and persistent El Niño episodes rather than the cool episodes called La Niñas. This behavior is highly unusual in the last 130 years. This is the strongest El Nino since the winter of 1997-98.

Anyway, when you are digging out this weekend or dodging a deluge, remember that this is a weather phenomenon that is cyclical.  Plus, it helps dampen the threat of hurricanes that are much more prevalent during La Nina years. 

My glass is half full today. I heard the spring peepers making their sweet sounds of spring last night as I drove home.  The freshwater wetland near the house is filled to the brim.  The cypress trees, the old snapping turtle, the bull frogs, and the snakes are enjoying having the wetland filled up. 

All the wetlands and their inhabitants in this state are rejoicing because the state Supreme Court dealt a smashing blow Monday to developers who have tried for years to overturn state rules that safeguard coastal freshwater wetlands from unchecked development.  If this had not been done,  potentially hundreds of thousands of acres of freshwater wetlands would have been open for development without state oversight. Chalk up a big one for the snapping turtles, frogs and friends. 

Hope that you are having a day of optimism too.  If you look closely, there might be something right there in front of you that makes your heart sing.


  1. Yeah for the turtles!!! We are having a rainy, sleety day here so I am entertaining the dogs inside. I won't be on a boat but I bet our frontyard would qualify as a wetland now.


  2. I aspire to constant optimism.
    In God's time with his help.
    Blessings and aloha...

  3. At two o'clock this afternoon my bird feeder was teeming with Jays, sparrows, woodpeckers,cardinals titmouse, even a robin! At two twenty five the snow started to fall. They knew what was coming. We are supposed to get hammered 6-12 inches over the next two days.

    Hooray for the turtles! Just what the world does not need another development of cookie cutter houses at mother natures expense. Have a great weekend, great post.

  4. Peepers already?! Wow. You make the south sound more and more appealing all the time. We won't be hearing any peepers here in CT for months.

    I remember well the winter of '97-'98; I felt as if all I did was eat, sleep, shovel snow. I was glad to see Spring that year, glad when I could finally put the snow shovel away and get my life back.

    Have a great weekend.

  5. I love your last paragraph. It always amazes me how easy it is to miss what's right in front of me. Thanks for the reminder and have a great weekend.

  6. I have to admit that my mood can still shift so quickly it makes my head spin. Last night ended on a less than positive note. Today, the sun is shining in my heart.

    My negativity can be brought on by weariness as well as people not behaving as I would like them to. Still more for me to learn. :)


  7. Case in point.
    Vancouver is about to host the 2010
    Olympic Winter Games.And we have NO snow.

    Not even any frost.


    I'm against the Olympics here anyways because of it's cost and all of the bullying VANOC has done to local business's..But I'll stop there ;)

  8. Loved the weather lesson and the final paragraph. So many things in front of me make my heart sing. Let your heart sing tomorrow, Syd, for my Simple Things Challenge.

  9. the very cracks on the edge of spring.... my favorite time!

  10. it always weirds me out when people say "it's been so cold, so much for global warming". It's idiotic.
    Severe and strange weather patterns should be enough for people to realize our impact on the environment.

    We're having an extra mild winter, not nearly the amount of rain we need. we're also having a little "false spring". It's been warmer with some sun and the crocuses are shooting up. They'll be sad in a few weeks when it gets cold again and rains like hell before the real spring comes.

  11. I'm still recovering from the discovery that you have spring peepers now. Shouldn't they be called winter peepers? Weird. Latitude matters.

    My shock aside, beautiful post. :)


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