Tropical Storm Cindy nears Louisiana

❝ Tropical Storm Cindy formed in the Gulf Tuesday afternoon and was heading toward the Louisiana coast, bringing with it the potential threat of life-threatening flash floods.

As a result, the Gulf coast from the Louisiana-Mississippi border, which includes New Orleans, to the Houston-Galveston area of Texas was under a tropical storm warning — which means tropical storm conditions are expected.

❝ Stacy Stewart, Senior Hurricane Specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, said that what’s notable about Cindy was that some of the storm’s most intense weather was far from its core.

Tropical storm-force winds were extending about 205 miles from the storm’s center, mainly to the north and east, forecasters said.

“It’s a large sprawling system, it’s not a classic tropical cyclone,” Stewart said.

❝ Whether it’s a sign of things to come this season remains to be seen, but NOAA’s prediction of a busier-than-normal hurricane season is ringing true so far.

As much as we often whine about the absence of rain – average annual rainfall here in northern New Mexico is 14+ inches. If we’re lucky. Still, I do not miss the weather on the Gulf of Mexico. Even if I miss the crawfish.

Paul Allen has a new plane and it’s very, very BIG


Click to enlargeStratolaunch Systems

Paul Allen’s intriguing launch company, Vulcan Aerospace, has gone relatively quiet in recent years, and questions about the venture’s viability have been increasing. But on Wednesday, the cofounder of Microsoft shared a new photo of the company’s Stratolaunch airplane — the largest in the world — and it seems the company is moving forward.

The new plane is, in a word, bigly. The aircraft has 385-foot wingspan and, powered by six Pratt & Whitney engines used on Boeing 747 aircraft, has a maximum takeoff weight of 1.3 million pounds. The Stratolaunch’s wingspan is the largest in history, blowing away the previous record-holder (Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose) by 65 feet. Vulcan Aerospace says its Stratolaunch airplane will have an operational range of 2,000 nautical miles. Serving as a reusable first stage for rocket launches, the Stratolaunch system will be capable of delivering payloads to multiple orbits and inclinations in a single mission.

Recently…the company moved the Stratolaunch aircraft out of its hangar at the Mojave Air & Space Port in the eponymous California desert. This was first time it had been moved outdoors, and Allen said the purpose was to conduct a “fueling test.” This event marked the completion of the construction phase, the company later said, and the beginning of ground and eventually flight tests.

I’m the only member of my extended New Mexico family who’s never been a pilot. But, wow, would I love to go along on this critter for a launch flight.

Archetypal East Coast Trees Are Moving West

❝ As anybody who’s taken a drive through Vermont in the autumn will know, the eastern US has plenty of iconic trees, like maple and oak. But over the past three decades, deciduous tree species in this part of the world seem to be shifting westward, according to new research…Evergreens, meanwhile, are going north.

❝ Past research has tracked how some tree species are moving north for reasons related to climate change. But in Science Advances, researchers looked at 30 years’ worth of tree data from the US Forest Service, including 86 species, reflecting changes between 1980 and 2015 — and, to their surprise, saw this westward shift of deciduous trees. “We show that more tree species have experienced a westward shift than a poleward shift (62%) in their abundance, a trend that is stronger for saplings than adult trees,” it reads.

This wasn’t a modelling exercise that casts forward to something that may happen in the future. Rather, it’s tracking changes that are happening now.

❝ This strange shift appears to be linked to climate change and its accompanying effects. Over the last 30 years, the study says, the mean annual temperature in the eastern US has gone up by 0.16 ̊C, on average, and the northern region has seen the highest increase…

Precipitation patterns are shifting, too: The central US has seen an increase of more than 150 mm total in annual precipitation, and there’s been a reduction in the southeast…

“There is still some skepticism out there about climate change,” Songlin Fei of Purdue University acknowledged. With this study, “we’re saying, let’s look at what’s actually happened. We wanted to show the reality, not speculations.” Our environment is changing more rapidly than many scientists expected. Fei asked: “Is our society ready to adapt?”

Yes, this is probably too short-term to be classified as climatology. But, as Fei correctly characterized, scientists have a habit of being conservative – regardless of propaganda from fossil fuel pimps. The inclination described just may be a short-term trend, e.g., meteorology not climatology.

Follow this lightning storm halfway across the US to the East Coast

❝ Watch a huge lightning storm move across the eastern USA. The huge storm caused much damage and unfortunately some loss of life for people in its path.

❝ Seen from space, the lightning is seen as momentary flashes in the featured time-lapse video recorded last month by the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) aboard the GOES-16 satellite. The outline of North America is most evident during the day, while the bright lightning strikes are most evident at night

The video shows that much of the lightning occurred at the leading edge of the huge tail of the swirling storm. Because lightning frequently precedes a storm’s most violent impact, lightning data from GLM holds promise to help reduce the harm to humans from future storms.

Thanks, UrsaRodinia

Reality of falling oxygen levels in Earth’s oceans is worse than expected

❝ A new analysis of decades of data on oceans across the globe has revealed that the amount of dissolved oxygen contained in the water – an important measure of ocean health – has been declining for more than 20 years.

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology looked at a historic dataset of ocean information stretching back more than 50 years and searched for long term trends and patterns. They found that oxygen levels started dropping in the 1980s as ocean temperatures began to climb…

❝ The study, which was published April in Geophysical Research Letters, was sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The team included researchers from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Washington-Seattle, and Hokkaido University in Japan.

Falling oxygen levels in water have the potential to impact the habitat of marine organisms worldwide and in recent years led to more frequent “hypoxic events” that killed or displaced populations of fish, crabs and many other organisms.

❝ Researchers have for years anticipated that rising water temperatures would affect the amount of oxygen in the oceans, since warmer water is capable of holding less dissolved gas than colder water. But the data showed that ocean oxygen was falling more rapidly than the corresponding rise in water temperature.

“The trend of oxygen falling is about two to three times faster than what we predicted from the decrease of solubility associated with the ocean warming,” associate professor Taka Ito said. “This is most likely due to the changes in ocean circulation and mixing associated with the heating of the near-surface waters and melting of polar ice.”

RTFA to see where and when this leads. Unless you’re one of those Trumpkins who sucks up fake news like sugary drinks through a fat plastic straw.

Scientists are by definition and practice a cautious and conservative lot. I’m never surprised when bad news exceeds their predictions. Or, for that matter,when the cowards in Congress and the White House ignore even conservative advice.

Couple of quick iPhotos


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1st walk, this morning, I grab a quick snap of this bunny out front. Didn’t even notice the bull snake till I went to crop and edit. Don’t see many out towards the road. We figure he’s new. Then…


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Ready to step out the door for another walk after our morning coffee break, look who’s cruising by the doorstep! Damned near came in the dog door. Still looking for a place to settle, I guess.