Monthly Archives: May 2011

The Selective Bias Of NOAA’s National Climate Data Center (NCDC) With Respect To The Analysis And Interpretation Of Multi-Decadal Land Surface Temperature Trends Under The Leadership Of Tom Karl and Tom Peterson

I have posted on the science of our paper

Fall, S., A. Watts, J. Nielsen-Gammon, E. Jones, D. Niyogi, J. Christy, and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2011: Analysis of the impacts of station exposure on the U.S. Historical Climatology Network temperatures and temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., in press. Copyright (2011) American Geophysical Union

in the post

A Summary Of Our New Paper “Analysis Of The Impacts Of Station Exposure On The U.S. Historical Climatology Network Temperatures and Temperature Trends” By Fall Et Al 2011

John Neilsen Gammon and Anthony Watts have excellent posts on our paper also; see, for example,

Something for Everyone: Fall et al. 2011

Fall et al. 2011: The Statistics

Fall et al. 2011: What We Learned About the Climate

According to the best-sited stations, the diurnal temperature range in the lower 48 states has no century-scale trend.

Today, I want to summarize the clear bias of NOAA’s National Climate Data Center under the leadership of Tom Karl and Tom Peterson on the research we have completed on the remaining uncertainties and systematic biases in the multi-decadal surface temperature analyses that are used by the IPCC and others in the quantification of global warming. Tom Karl is Director of the NOAA’s National Climate Data Center [NCDC], and Tom Peterson works for Tom Karl and has a leadership role in the analysis and interpretation of long term surface temperature data trends and anomalies.

The origin of the Fall et al 2011 study has roots in the paper

Davey, C.A., and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2005: Microclimate exposures of surface-based weather stations – implications for the assessment of long-term temperature trends. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., Vol. 86, No. 4, 497–504.

This study was part of the reason Anthony Watts launched his world-class study of the siting quality of the US climate reference network (USHCN). His outstanding (unfunded!) leadership on this project cannot be overstated.

Our Fall et al 2011 paper is one more illustration of the failure of NCDC, under the leadership of Tom Karl and Tom Peterson, to consider perspectives on the collection, analysis, and interpretation of the multi-decadal surface temperature record that differ from their view. It remains a real puzzlement to me why colleagues, who are personable on an individual level and who have published important science papers, become arrogant (e.g. see) and biased when they assume a leadership position.

That they failed in this leadership is documented, in depth, in

Pielke Sr., Roger A., 2005: Public Comment on CCSP Report “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences“. 88 pp including appendices.

E-mail Documentation Of The Successful Attempt By Thomas Karl Director Of the U.S. National Climate Data Center To Suppress Biases and Uncertainties In the Assessment Of Surface Temperature Trends

Since NCDC did not want to examine the robustness of their analyses with respect the issues that were raised when I was a member of the 2005 CCSP report, I invited a number of colleagues to participate in research papers to examine these issues. I have listed these papers below this paragraph. 

NCDC scientists, however, have failed to respond in the peer reviewed literature to the science issues that we raise in our papers with the limited exception of the Menne et al 2010 paper (see and see for how poorly NCDC handled this). Ignoring these science issues does not make them disappear!

Our papers [and I have listed associated papers and blog posts from my weblog where others have responded] on the multi-decadal surface temperature data issue include, for example,

1. General papers

Pielke Sr., R.A., T. Stohlgren, W. Parton, J. Moeny, N. Doesken, L. Schell, and K. Redmond, 2000: Spatial representativeness of temperature measurements from a single site. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 81, 826-830.

Pielke Sr., R.A. J. Nielsen-Gammon, C. Davey, J. Angel, O. Bliss, N. Doesken, M. Cai., S.  Fall, D. Niyogi, K. Gallo, R. Hale, K.G. Hubbard, X. Lin, H. Li, and S. Raman, 2007: Documentation of uncertainties and biases associated with surface temperature measurement sites for climate change assessment. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 88:6, 913-928.

Pielke Sr., R.A., T. Stohlgren, L. Schell, W. Parton, N. Doesken, K. Redmond, J. Moeny, T. McKee, and T.G.F. Kittel, 2002: Problems in evaluating regional and local trends in temperature: An example from eastern Colorado, USA. Int. J. Climatol., 22, 421-434.

 Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229.

Parker, D. E., P. Jones, T. C. Peterson, and J. Kennedy, 2009: Comment on Unresolved issues with the assessment of multidecadal global land surface temperature trends. by Roger A. Pielke Sr. et al.,J. Geophys. Res., 114, D05104, doi:10.1029/2008JD010450.

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2009: Reply to comment by David E. Parker, Phil Jones, Thomas C. Peterson, and John Kennedy on “Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D05105, doi:10.1029/2008JD010938

2. Dependence of temperature trends on wind speeds and height above the surface

Pielke Sr., R.A., and T. Matsui, 2005: Should light wind and windy nights have the same temperature trends at individual levels even if the boundary layer averaged heat content change is the same? Geophys. Res. Letts., 32, No. 21, L21813, 10.1029/2005GL024407.

Lin, X., R.A. Pielke Sr., K.G. Hubbard, K.C. Crawford, M. A. Shafer, and T. Matsui, 2007: An examination of 1997-2007 surface layer temperature trends at two heights in Oklahoma. Geophys. Res. Letts., 34, L24705, doi:10.1029/2007GL031652. (see Urs Neu correction based on error in the Lin et al paper and the consequences for our conclusions on this weblog post

Steeneveld, G.J., A.A.M. Holtslag, R.T. McNider, and R.A Pielke Sr, 2011: Screen level temperature increase due to higher atmospheric carbon dioxide in calm and windy nights revisited. J. Geophys. Res., 116, D02122, doi:10.1029/2010JD014612.

3. Spatial representativeness of the surface sites

Hanamean, J.R. Jr., R.A. Pielke Sr., C.L. Castro, D.S. Ojima, B.C. Reed, and Z. Gao, 2003: Vegetation impacts on maximum and minimum temperatures in northeast Colorado. Meteorological Applications, 10, 203-215.

 Montandon, L.M., S. Fall, R.A. Pielke Sr., and D. Niyogi, 2011: Distribution of landscape types in the Global Historical Climatology Network. Earth Interactions, 15:6, doi: 10.1175/2010EI371

4. Divergence in time of the surface and lower tropospheric temperature trends

Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2009: An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D21102, doi:10.1029/2009JD011841.

Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2010: Correction to: “An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D21102, doi:10.1029/2009JD011841″, J. Geophys. Res., 115, D1, doi:10.1029/2009JD013655.

5. Effect of concurrent trends of absolute humidty on dry bulb temperature trends

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, and J. Morgan, 2004: Assessing “global warming” with surface heat content. Eos, 85, No. 21, 210-211

Davey, C.A., R.A. Pielke Sr., and K.P. Gallo, 2006: Differences between near-surface equivalent temperature and temperature trends for the eastern United States – Equivalent temperature as an alternative measure of heat content. Global and Planetary Change, 54, 19–32.

Fall, S., N. Diffenbaugh, D. Niyogi, R.A. Pielke Sr., and G. Rochon, 2010: Temperature and equivalent temperature over the United States (1979 – 2005). Int. J. Climatol., DOI: 10.1002/joc.2094.

6.Role of mesoscale and larger land use/land cover change on the multi-decadal surface temperature trends; 

 Marshall, C.H. Jr., R.A. Pielke Sr., L.T. Steyaert, and D.A. Willard, 2004: The impact of anthropogenic land-cover change on the Florida peninsula sea breezes and warm season sensible weather. Mon. Wea. Rev., 132, 28-52.

Marshall, C.H. Jr., R.A. Pielke Sr., and L.T. Steyaert, 2003: Crop freezes and land-use change in Florida. Nature, 426, 29-30.

Marshall, C.H., R.A. Pielke Sr., and L.T. Steyaert, 2004: Has the conversion of natural wetlands to agricultural land increased the incidence and severity of damaging freezes in south Florida? Mon. Wea. Rev., 132, 2243-2258.

Fall, S., D. Niyogi, A. Gluhovsky, R. A. Pielke Sr., E. Kalnay, and G. Rochon, 2009: Impacts of land use land cover on temperature trends over the continental United States: Assessment using the North American Regional Reanalysis. Int. J. Climatol., DOI: 10.1002/joc.1996.

NCDC, under the leadership of Tom Karl and Tom Peterson, has ignored  studies such as these. More importantly, the significance of our findings with respect to the level of confidence we should have in the robustness of their analyses, and the accuracy of their reports on temperature anomalies and trends, are misleading the public, government and the rest of the climate science community. 

I invite them to start fresh, and work with us, on the issues we have raised on the analysis and interpretation of the USHCN data.

Source of  image

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Intriguing New Paper “Climate Sensitivity To Changes In Ocean Heat Transport” By Barreiro Et Al 2011

We have been alerted to an intriguing new paper that further illustrates the complexity of the climate system (h/t to Geoff Smith). It is

Marcelo Barreiro, Annalisa Cherchi and Simona Masina, 2011: Climate sensitivity to changes in ocean heat transport. J of Climate. doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-10-05029.1 [in press]

The abstract reads [highlight added]

Using an atmospheric general circulation model coupled to a slab ocean we  study the effect of ocean heat transport (OHT) on climate prescribing OHT from zero to two times the present-day values. In agreement with previous studies an increase in OHT from zero to present-day conditions warms the climate by decreasing the albedo due to reduced sea-ice extent and marine stratus cloud cover and by increasing the greenhouse effect through a moistening of the atmosphere. However, when the OHT is further increased the solution becomes highly dependent on a positive radiative feedback between tropical low clouds and sea surface temperature. We found that the strength of the low clouds-SST feedback combined with the model design may produce solutions that are globally colder than the Control mainly due to an unrealistically strong equatorial cooling. Excluding those cases, results indicate that the climate warms only if the OHT increase does not exceed more than 10% of the present-day value in the case of a strong cloud-SST feedback and more than 25% when this feedback is weak. Larger OHT increases lead to a cold state where low clouds cover most of the deep tropics increasing the tropical albedo and drying the atmosphere. This suggests that the present-day climate is close to a state where the OHT maximizes its warming effect on climate and pose doubts about the possibility that greater OHT in the past may have induced significantly warmer climates than that of today.”

The paper starts with the informative text

“The oceans absorb heat mainly in the tropical regions where cold water upwells to the surface and lose it in high latitudes where cold and dry winds blow over warm currents during winter time. This implies a net heat transport by the oceanic circulation from the equator to the polar regions that contributes to remove the surplus of heat received in the tropics. Averaged over long times the ocean must gain and lose equal amounts of heat in order to maintain a steady state. The oceanic heat transport is largest in the tropical region and becomes very small poleward of 45° (Trenberth and Caron 2001).”

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New Paper “A Model Investigation Of Aerosol-Induced Changes In Tropical Circulation” By Ming and Ramaswamy 2011

In our paper

Matsui, T., and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2006: Measurement-based estimation of the spatial gradient of aerosol radiative forcing. Geophys. Res. Letts., 33, L11813, doi:10.1029/2006GL025974

we reported that the heterogeneous character of aerosol forcing (in terms of the horizontal pressure gradient force) of atmospheric circulations was significantly larger than from the more homogeneous forcing from added greenhouse gases.

There is an important new model process study paper which confirms our finding, and examines this effect in more detail. It is

Yi Ming and V. Ramaswamy, 2011. A Model Investigation of Aerosol-induced Changes in Tropical Circulation. J of Climate (in press)

with the abstract (highlight added)

We study how anthropogenic aerosols, alone or in conjunction with radiatively active gases, affect the tropical circulation with an atmosphere/mixed layer ocean general circulation model. Aerosol-induced cooling gives rise to a substantial increase in the overall strength of the tropical circulation, a robust outcome consistent with a thermodynamical scaling argument. Owing to the interhemispheric asymmetry in aerosol forcing, the zonal-mean and zonally asymmetrical components of the tropical circulation respond differently. The Hadley circulation weakens in the Northern Hemisphere, but strengthens in the Southern Hemisphere. The resulting northward cross-equatorial moist static energy flux compensates partly for the aerosol radiative cooling in the Northern Hemisphere. In contrast, the less restricted zonally asymmetrical circulation does not show sensitivity to the spatial structure of aerosols, and strengthens in both hemispheres. Our results also point to the possible role of aerosols in driving the observed reduction in the equatorial sea level pressure gradient. These circulation changes have profound implications for the hydrological cycle. We find that aerosols alone make the subtropical dry zones in both hemispheres wetter, as the local hydrological response is controlled thermodynamically by atmospheric moisture content. The deep tropical rainfall undergoes a dynamically induced southward shift, a robust pattern consistent with the adjustments in the zonal-mean circulation and in the meridional moist static energy transport. Less certain is the magnitude of the shift. The nonlinearity exhibited by the combined hydrological response to aerosols and radiatively active gases is dynamical in nature.”

The paper starts with the text

“Although much remains to be done to gain a more definitive understanding of the climate effects of aerosols (radiative and microphysical alike) (e.g., Forster et al. 2007), it has been widely accepted that aerosol cooling “masked”, on the global scale, a considerable fraction of greenhouse gas warming since the preindustrial times (e.g., Hegerl et al. 2007). Unlike well mixed greenhouse gases, the spatial distributions of aerosols are highly non-uniform owing to inhomogeneous emission sources and short lifetimes (on the order of days).This basic recognition leads one to speculate that aerosols may be more capable of altering atmosphericand oceanic circulation, especially on the regional scale, than greenhouse gases.”

The excellent Ming and Ramaswamy paper also support our conclusion in

Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell,  W. Rossow,  J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian,  and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union

that the IPCC hypothesis

“Although the natural causes of climate variations and changes are undoubtedly important, the human influences are significant and are dominated by the emissions into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, the most important of which is CO2. The adverse impact of these gases on regional and global climate constitutes the primary climate issue for the coming decades”

should be rejected. The only hypothesis that is scientifically robust is

Although the natural causes of climate variations and changes are undoubtedly important, the human influences are significant and involve a diverse range of first-order climate forcings, including, but not limited to, the human input of carbon dioxide (CO2). Most, if not all, of these human influences on regional and global climate will continue to be of concern during the coming decades.

As we wrote in our paper

“In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, other first-order human climate forcings are important to understanding the future behavior of Earth’s climate. These forcings are spatially heterogeneous and include the effect of aerosols on clouds and associated precipitation [e.g., Rosenfeld et al., 2008]…..”

With the new Ming and Ramaswamy paper, we are even more confident of our findings reported in the Pielke et al 2009 EOS paper.

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Recommended Weblog Post By John Nielsen-Gammon On One Aspect Of Fall Et Al 2011

There is an important discussion of the significance of one of our findings (on the daily temperature range) in the paper

 Fall, S., A. Watts, J. Nielsen-Gammon, E. Jones, D. Niyogi, J. Christy, and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2011: Analysis of the impacts of station exposure on the U.S. Historical Climatology Network temperatures and temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., in press. Copyright (2011) American Geophysical Union.

in a post on Climate Abyss by John Nielsen-Gammon. His post is titled

Fall et al. 2011: What We Learned About the Climate

and is recommended reading.

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Important New Report “Parallel Air Temperature Measurements At The KNMI observatory In De Bilt (the Netherlands) May 2003 – June 2005″ By Theo Brandsma

There is an important, much-needed, addition to the scientific literature which adds to our conclusions in

Fall, S., A. Watts, J. Nielsen-Gammon, E. Jones, D. Niyogi, J. Christy, and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2011: Analysis of the impacts of station exposure on the U.S. Historical Climatology Network temperatures and temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., in press. Copyright (2011) American Geophysical Union.

that siting of climate reference stations do matter in terms of long term temperature trends and anomalies. This new report is

Parallel air temperature measurements at the KNMI observatory in De Bilt (the Netherlands) May 2003 – June 2005

The summary reads (emphasis added)

Air temperature measurements at the KNMI-observatory in De Bilt are important mainly because the observatory has a long and relatively homogeneous record and because its observations often serve as an indicator of changes in climate for the Netherlands as a whole. Among others, relocations of the temperature measurement sites and (gradual) changes in surroundings influence the measurements. To improve the homogeneity of the long-term temperature record and to study the representativeness of the current measurements, a parallel experiment was carried out at the observatory of KNMI in De Bilt from May 2003 through June 2005.

Five sites at the KNMI-observatory, including the (at that time) operational site WMO 06 260 (further denoted as DB260), were equipped with identical (operational) instruments for measuring temperature and wind speed at a height of 1.5 m (see for an overview of the sites Figure 1.1). The instruments were calibrated each half-year and the calibrations curves were used to correct the data to minimize instrumental errors. With the measurements at the Test4 site (operational site since 25 September 2008) as a reference, the temperature differences between the sites were studied in connection with the local wind speed and its differences and operationally measured weather variables at the KNMI-observatory. In September/October 2004 the area west of the operational site DB260 was renovated and made into a landscaped park. From 1999 onwards that area slowly transformed from grassland into a neglected area with bushes (wasteland). The parallel measurements provided the opportunity to study the impact of this new inhomogeneity in detail.

The results show that changes in surroundings complicate or impede the use of present-day parallel measurements for correcting for site changes in the past. For instance, the (vertical) growth of the bushes in the wasteland area west of DB260, caused increasing temperature differences between the operational site DB260 and four neighboring stations. The effects were most clearly visible in the dry summer of 2003, when the mean monthly maximum temperatures at DB260 were up to about 0.4C larger than those at the reference Test4. This increase was more than counteracted by a decrease in the mean monthly minimum temperature of up to 0.6C. After the renovation of the wasteland area, the temperature differences between DB260 and Test4 became close to zero (< 0.1C). The comparison of DB260 with four neighboring stations showed that the renovation restored to some extent the temperatures of the old situation of before the year 1999. However, the land use west of the DB260 has been changed permanently (no longer grassland as in the period 1951-1999, but landscaped park land with ponds). Therefore, operational measurements at DB260 became problematic and KNMI decided to move the operational site to the Test4 site in September 2008. The Test4 site is the most open of five sites studied in the report.

The results increase our understanding of inter-site temperature differences. One of the most important causes of these differences is the difference in sheltering between sites. Sheltering stimulates the build up of a night-time stable boundary layer, decreases the outgoing long-wave radiation, causes a screen to be in the shade in the hours just after sunrise and before sunset, and increases the radiation error of screens due to decreased natural ventilation. Depending on the degree and nature of the sheltering, the net effect of sheltering on temperatures may be a temperature increase or decrease. DB260 is a sheltered site where the net effect is a decrease of the mean temperature (before the renovation). The former historical site Test1 is an example of a site where the net effect is a temperature increase. The monthly mean minimum temperature at Test1 is up to 1.2C higher than the reference and the maximum temperature is up to 0.5C higher than that at Test4. The mean temperature at Test1 is, however, only slightly higher than the mean at Test4. This is caused by the relatively low temperatures in the hours after sunrise and before sunset, when the screen at Test1 is in the shade. Both the Test1 and Test4 location are probably not affected by the renovation.

The renovation of the wasteland area causes not only a shift of the location of the pdf of the daily temperature differences but also a change in the shape. This means that for the homogenization of daily temperature series it is not sufficient to correct only the mean.

We showed that the magnitude of the inter-site temperature differences strongly depends on wind speed and cloudiness. In general the temperature differences increase with decreasing wind speed and decreasing cloudiness. Site changes directly affect wind speed because they are usually accompanied by changes in sheltering. Some effects, like the built up and (partly) breaking down of the stable boundary layer near the surface, are highly non-linear processes and therefore difficult to model. The fact that these processes are mostly active at low wind speeds (< 1.0 m/s at 1.5 m) further complicates the modeling. Regular cup anemometers are not really suited to measure low wind speeds. Operationally these anemometers have a threshold wind speed of about 0.5 m/s and this threshold wind speed often increases with the time during which the anemometer is in the field. In addition, anemometers are mostly situated at a height of 10 m. During night-time stable conditions the correlation between wind speed at 10 m and wind speed at screen height is weak. This complicates the homogenization of daily temperature series.

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Guest Post ” Notions At The Intersection Of Climatology And Renewable Energy” By Jeremy Fordham

 Notions at the Intersection of Climatology and Renewable Energy by Jeremy Fordham

 It’s quite common to hear renewable energy lauded as “America’s last saving grace” these days—after all, how else will the U.S. relieve its dependence on foreign oil imports? How else will the nation engage in macroscopic sustainable practices that will ultimately preserve the environment and stop us from regurgitating greenhouse gases into the atmosphere? It’s still uncertain when renewable technology will attain economic parity with traditional methods of energy use, but there’s no doubt that these technologies are a lot cleaner.  There’s also no doubt that progress in this sector is heavily dependent upon the analytical data provided by climatological studies.

  NASA has extensive databases full of information on surface meteorology and solar characteristics available online. In turn, engineers use this data as a set of parameters for installing things like solar panels and wind turbines in a given location.  The effectiveness of photovoltaic (PV) technologies, for instance, is measured in part by a region’s insolation characteristics. How much direct sunlight does a place receive in a given year? How does a region’s insolation change over a decade, and what factors affect this oscillation? The answers to these questions come from climate scientists, of course.

 While chemical engineers of all specialties work to improve the electronic capabilities of PV cells, their work could easily be rendered null if these improved devices are stationed in places with erratic insolation tendencies. Climatological data is so important to the economic optimization of renewable technology that without it, it would make little sense to fund the improvement of these devices.

 While online PhD programs in renewable energy have yet to come to fruition, many institutions around the world have developed long-distance programs that are geared towards addressing advanced issues at the intersection of technology development, climatology and energy economics.  Loughborough University offers online distance learning curriculum that leads to a Master of Science in Renewable Energy Systems Technology, and numerous other universities, especially in Europe, are offering a significant amount of courses related to these subjects online. As universities in the U.S. continue to realize the importance of interdisciplinary study in general sustainability, more programs focused understanding climatology’s relationship to technology development are sure to gain popularity.

 However, climate science doesn’t just influence the technical development of energy systems. It’s also a very important part of energy policy creation and is essential to an objective analysis of the societal parameters associated with climate change.  A course taught by meteorologist David Eichorn as part of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry seeks to blend web-based climate change media with outside opinions in order to

 “…enable students to continue their exploration of personal and societal climate change solutions…”

 It’s difficult for one person running their electric car to significantly affect a region’s greenhouse gas levels, but all it takes is a single example to spark larger trends. It is courses like David Eichorn’s that inspire informed opinions and dialogue between people who might potentially be making policy decisions in boardrooms in the future. More universities need to recognize the importance of interdisciplinary integration when it comes to climate science. Sure, it involves a lot of differential calculus for those heavy math-lovers, but it is also very much a social discipline that deserves examination through various critical lenses.

  It’s very difficult to get a handle on what sustainability actually is, but a common thread that runs through most of the official definitions is that it doesn’t have distinct ties with a specific field. Engineers can be “sustainable,” but so can policy makers and architects and even businesses. The idea of “being nice to the environment” or “reducing carbon emissions” or “creating processes that ensure the longevity of future generations” is almost impossible to put into a single concept. The very idea of sustainability arises from the principles of multi-disciplinary collaboration—that includes government leaders, janitors, manufacturers, writers, scientists, doctors … and the list continues. Will any of these professionals have a truly appreciative understanding of sustainability if they’re not exposed to the principles while studying in school?

 It would be wise for universities to take a less-standardized approach to sustainability education. Climate scientists should have the opportunity to learn how their work can influence public policy.  Engineers should have to know why the implementation of a multi-megawatt solar infrastructure is only to be improved by a deep knowledge of a region’s climate. In the long run, leveraging this interconnectedness will ultimately lead to better, more optimized solutions in the space of “green energy” while giving graduates with this knowledge an edge over their competition.

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Job Announcement Western Kentucky University


Western Kentucky University, Kentucky Climate Center (KCC), housed within the Department of Geography and Geology and a charter member of the Applied Research and Technology Program (ARTP) is seeking applicants for a Research Scientist position in Applied Meteorology and Climatology. This person must have a strong background in both atmospheric modeling and data analysis (both modeled and observed). The department also has a strong program in Geographic Information Science, and the KCC has an established record of collaboration with other units within WKU and with other institutions. Research performed in this position will involve significant use of the Kentucky Mesonet data, along with other atmospheric datasets, which would lead to development of a wide variety of decision tools. Opportunities for collaboration will be available and encouraged.

The Kentucky Mesonet is a research grade operational network observing weather and climate in the Commonwealth. Continued employment is for several years pending budgetary approval and satisfactory performance evaluations.

The following duties and responsibilities are customary for this position.  They are not to be construed as all-inclusive, and therefore may be added, deleted and assigned based on management discretion and institutional needs.

  • Collaborates with primary supervisors
  • Interacts and collaborates with students, staff members, and other atmospheric and environmental scientists in the KCC and the department
  • Conducts applied research, collaborates with software developers for designing and creating interactive, web-based decision tools, writing papers for peer-reviewed journals, and writing grant proposals
  • Participates in grant writing as a PI or Co-PI

 Required Qualifications:

  • Doctoral degree in Atmospheric Science, Meteorology, Environmental Science, Geography, or a closely related field
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Strong background in Atmospheric Modeling (e.g., WRF, MM5, or RAMS or Climate models) and data analysis
  • Experience in working with both modeled and observational data
  • Strong background in programming (C, C++, FORTRAN, PHP, Perl, Java, JavaScript etc.) and data analysis and visualization software (GrADS, IDV, NCL, S-Plus, Matlab etc.)
  • Experience in working as a member of a research team
  • Ability to think creatively and perform research duties
  • Ability to move computers, connect computers with relevant accessories and upload software

Expected Salary Range:  $60,000.00 – $70,008.00 annually

Applications for employment will be accepted electronically only.  Interested candidates should submit a cover letter with statement of professional goals, and up-to-date CV including list of publications, and names, addresses and daytime phone numbers of three professional references.  Please refer to the following website to apply:   Please reference requisition number S2897.  For further assistance please call (270) 745-5934.  To ensure full consideration please submit application materials by May 31st, 2011.  Position will remain open until filled. 

Western Kentucky University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, or marital status in admission to career and technical education programs and/or activities, or employment practices in accordance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Revised 1992, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

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