Changes in the Jet Stream

The Washington Post article, One of the most troubling ideas about climate change just found new evidence in its favor, summarizes a recent study on the possible impact to the jet stream due to climate change.

The Northern Hemisphere jet stream flows in a wavy pattern from west to east, driven by the rotation of the Earth and the difference in temperature between the equator and the North Pole. The flow is stronger when that temperature difference is large.

But when the Arctic warms up faster than the equator does — which is part of the fundamental definition of global warming, and which is already happening — the jet stream’s flow can become weakened and elongated. That’s when you can get the resultant weather extremes.


The changes in the jet stream’s flow fixes weather patterns for a longer period of time. So, for better or worse, patterns in weather persist longer.

The study, its authors write, “adds to the weight of evidence for a human influence on the occurrence of devastating events such as the 2003 European heat wave, the 2010 Pakistan flood and Russian heat wave, the 2011 Texas heat wave and recent floods in Europe.”

What goes unmentioned in the article is that devastating weather events disproportionately impact the poor. The original paper, Influence of Anthropogenic Climate Change on Planetary Wave Resonance and Extreme Weather Events, has all the technical details.


Proposed Cuts to Science Budgets

This blog is generally not meant to be explicitly political, although there is no doubt that the posts and data provided here are minimally implicitly political. There will be occasions where a more explicitly political post will appear and this is one of these times. The NYT has an article on the proposed presidential budget and how it will impact science research: Scientists Bristle at Trump Budget’s Cuts to Research.

Still, the extent of the cuts in the proposed budget unveiled early Thursday shocked scientists, researchers and program administrators. The reductions include $5.8 billion, or 18 percent, from the National Institutes of Health, which fund thousands of researchers working on cancer and other diseases, and $900 million, or a little less than 20 percent, from the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which funds the national laboratories, considered among the crown jewels of basic research in the world.

“As to climate change, I think the president was fairly straightforward: We’re not spending money on that anymore,” Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, said at a White House briefing on Thursday. “We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that.”

Methane Bubbles – A Feedback Loop

The Siberian Times brings us this article: 7,000 underground gas bubbles poised to ‘explode’ in Arctic

Their appearance at such high latitudes is most likely linked to thawing permafrost which in is in turn linked to overall rise of temperature on the north of Eurasia during last several decades,’ said a spokesman.

The summer was abnormally hot for the Yamal peninsula, with the air temperature reaching 35C.

This heat impacted on the depth of seasonal thawing which grew both deeper  spread wider than in the past, so causing the formation of new lakes and a noticeable change in the regional tundra landscape.

Scientists are simultaneously observing the sudden formation of the large craters, evidently caused by eruptions or explosions of methane gas which has melted below the surface.

This is another situation where warming permafrost is related to the release of the greenhouse gas methane, which then adds to warming. In other words, a positive feedback loop. There are some excellent photos in the article.

Simplifying Statistics

These two videos present statistics about the U.S and World Population in the context of 100 people. The two videos provide opportunities for comparisons between the U.S. and the world that could be used in stats or QL class.

Association Between State Same-Sex Marriage Policies and Adolescent Suicide Attempts

The Feb 20 article in JAM, Difference-in-Differences Analysis of the Association Between State Same-Sex Marriage Policies and Adolescent Suicide Attempts, provides some useful tables and graphs for a stats course. For example see table 2 (pictured here). From the paper:

Question  Are state same-sex marriage policies associated with a reduction in adolescent suicide attempts?

Findings  This difference-in-differences analysis of representative data from 47 states found that same-sex marriage policies were associated with a 7% reduction in the proportion of all high school students reporting a suicide attempt within the past year. The effect was concentrated among adolescents who were sexual minorities.

Meaning  Same-sex marriage policies are associated with reduced adolescent suicide attempts.

Antarctica Ice Hits a Record Low

The WunderBlog has an excellent summary of the current state of Antarctica Ice in their post Sea Ice Extent in Antarctica Bottoming Out at Lowest on Record.  The chart here comes from the NSIDC Interactive Chart and is a full version of the one in the article.

A few tips on using the interactive chart.  On the top left you can click to get a chart for Antarctic or the Arctic. In the top right of the years menu there is a button to press that allows you to download the chart you create as a jpeg or png file. The bottom of the years menu has a scroll down button to get to more recent years. The chart is updated daily.


World Development Indicators: Proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments

If you are looking for graphs and data on a variety of sustainability issues you should look at the World Bank’s Sustainable Development Goals – World Development Indicators 2017. The site contains interactive related to 17 development goals. For example, the chart here (downloaded from the site) is the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments. The U.S. is the bold light blue line. You can also download the data to be analyzed.

Melting Permafrost and a Feedback Loop

The BBC has a great article on a Siberian crater, the Batagaika crater, that is growing quickly due to melting permafrost. Excerpt from the article:

As more permafrost thaws, more and more carbon is exposed to microbes. The microbes consume the carbon, producing methane and carbon dioxide as waste products. These greenhouse gases are then released into the atmosphere, accelerating warming further.

“This is what we call positive feedback,” says Günther. “Warming accelerates warming, and these features may develop in other places. It’s not only a threat to infrastructure. Nobody can stop this development. There’s no engineering solution to stop these craters developing.”

The article provides some great context in understanding the impacts of global warming.