The Winter Solstice, the moment when the Earth’s axial tilt is fully 23º26′ from the Sun, is tomorrow, Friday, December 21st, at 4:12 AM MT in the northern hemisphere. It is, of course, the Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Earth’s orbit is elliptical not circular. The earliest sunset (in the northern hemisphere) was around two weeks ago. The latest sunrise is in about two weeks.
But Friday is the shortest time between the two, the shortest daylight of the year in the northern hemisphere.
For more than 1600 years in western Europe the northern winter solstice was celebrated on December 25th, though astronomically it increasingly came later than that due to errors in the Julian calendar.
“This week’s news that the National Park Service has O.K.ed a ban on the sale of small disposable water bottles at the Grand Canyon National Park, reportedly over the objections of the Coca-Cola Company, a major donor, put me in mind of Edward Abbey. . . . ”
Read more from The New Yorker.
In the natural world, scientists have documented a vast range of shifts in biological behavior related to climate change, from birds laying their eggs earlier to bears emerging earlier from hibernation in time for the first blossom of spring.
As it turns out, humans are not excluded from such behavioral changes. Over the last 30 years, a new study has found, peak park attendance has shifted by about four days, probably in response to climate change.
Green — A Blog About Energy and the Environment has more.
pourmecoffee says this is the video clip of the year. No dispute here.
Here’s the background.
Wind gust of 64!
Update: 67 mph gust.
Latest report from weather station four blocks away: 74 mph.
So a climate skeptic, a physicist at Cal Berkeley, thought the data was wrong and he could do better. He even got the Koch brothers to fund the work.
Global warming is real, according to a major study released today [October 20, 2011]. Despite issues raised by climate change skeptics, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study
fines finds reliable evidence of a arise rise in the average world land temperature of approximately 1ºC since the mid-1950s.
Analyzing temperature data from 15 sources, in some cases going as far back as 1800, the Berkeley Earth study directly addressed scientific concerns raised by skeptics, including the the urban
hear heat island effect, poor station quality, and the risk of data selection bias.
On the basis of its analysis, according to Berkeley Earth’s founder and scientific director, Professor Richard A. Muller, the group concluded that earlier studies based on more limited data by teams in the United States and Britain had accurately estimated the extent of land surface warming.
Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature
At Forbes, Peter Gleick writes a letter. He begins:
To the few of you left,
OK, you have fought hard to deny or challenge the realities of climate change, perhaps because you are afraid of the policies that might have to be put in place; or are afraid of the possibilities of increased government intervention; or you don’t think it will be that bad; or you think it will be too expensive to do anything about; or you don’t understand the science; or you don’t trust scientists, including, by the way, every national academy of sciences and every professional scientific organization in the geosciences (see the list attached to this Congressional testimony); or whatever.
You may not think the expected consequences of climate change are bad enough to do anything, despite what researchers have been telling us for years about higher temperatures, worsening frequency and intensity of storms and droughts, rising sea levels, altered water quality and availability, growing health risks from pests and heat, and much more.
Fine. But you are dragging the rest of us, who still believe in science and think that things can and should be done quickly, down into what increasingly seems like a future hell. You need to get on board. Why? Here is the final straw.
Now click here to read about the FINAL STRAW
You don’t have to be a scientist to see that the climate is changing, even on a human time scale. Just look at the forests of the west, as the Times does — With Deaths of Forests, a Loss of Crucial Climate Protectors. The article begins:
WISE RIVER, Mont. — The trees spanning many of the mountainsides of western Montana glow an earthy red, like a broadleaf forest at the beginning of autumn.
But these trees are not supposed to turn red. They are evergreens, falling victim to beetles that used to be controlled in part by bitterly cold winters. As the climate warms, scientists say, that control is no longer happening.
Across millions of acres, the pines of the northern and central Rockies are dying, just one among many types of forests that are showing signs of distress these days.
. . .
Oh, and did you know that trees absorb carbon dioxide, so if the trees die, less will be absorbed, more trees will die and … and … and we have a classic feedback loop.
It isn’t likely to rain today and local science and weather writer John Fleck is reporting a water year final total at my house: 4.94 inches (12.55 cm). 50.5% of normal. I believe John lives near the University of New Mexico in the central part of Albuquerque.
“Water Year” is a U.S. Geological Survey term running from October 1st through September 30th. This is because stream flows in the U.S. are usually at their lowest in October, therefore less variable from day-to-day.