Redoubt volcano unlikely to have a major climate impact

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:27 PM GMT on March 24, 2009

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Alaska's Redoubt Volcano continues to erupt, with the latest blast coming just after midnight Eastern time (7:41pm AKDT). The latest eruption threw ash 50,000 feet into the air, but the ash has settled to the ground and the ashfall advisory for cities to the north and northwest of Anchorage such as Talkeetna has expired. Redoubt is located about 100 miles southwest of Alaska's most populous city, Anchorage. The prevailing southerly winds deposited a swath of ash about 200 miles long to the north of the volcano (Figure 1). Redoubt last erupted between December 1989 - April 1990, and its ash clouds presented a major hazard to aviation. On December 16, 1989, Redoubt's eruption spewed ash into the air to a height of 14,000 m (45,000 ft) catching KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight 867, a Boeing 747 aircraft, in the plume. All four engines stalled and the aircraft plummeted 13,000 feet before the pilot was able to restart the engines and land safely in Anchorage. The total costs to the aviation industry from the 1989 - 1990 eruption were about $100 million. Eighty percent of these costs were due to damaged equipment. For more information on the Redoubt eruption, check out the Alaska Volcano Observatory home page.


Figure 1. Ash on the snow to the north of Alaska's Mt. Redoubt crater in this true color image from NASA's Terra satellite. Image taken 21:49 GMT March 23, 2009. Image credit: Johnathan Dehn, Geographic Information Network of Alaska..


Redoubt's effect on the climate should be minimal
Many historic volcanic eruptions have had a major cooling impact on Earth's climate. However, Redoubt is very unlikely to be one of them. To see why this is, let's examine recent volcanic eruptions that have had a significant cooling effect on the climate. In the past 200 years, Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines (June 1991), El Chichon (Mexico, 1982), Mt. Agung (Indonesia, 1963), Santa Maria (Guatemala, 1902) Krakatoa (Indonesia, 1883), and Tambora (1815) all created noticeable cooling. As one can see from a plot of the solar radiation reaching Mauna Loa in Hawaii (Figure 2), the Mt. Pinatubo and El Chichon eruptions caused a greater than 10% drop in sunlight reaching the surface. The eruption of Tambora in 1815 had an even greater impact, triggering the famed Year Without a Summer in 1816. Killing frosts and snow storms in May and June 1816 in Eastern Canada and New England caused widespread crop failures, and lake and river ice were observed as far south as Pennsylvania in July and August. Volcanic eruptions cause this kind of climate cooling by throwing large amounts of sulfur dioxide gas into the stratosphere. This gas reacts with water to form sulphuric acid droplets (aerosol particles), which are highly reflective, and reduce the amount of incoming sunlight.


Figure 2. Reduced solar radiation due to volcanic aerosols as measured at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii. Image credit: NOAA/ESRL.

You'll notice from the list of eruptions above that all of these climate-cooling events were from volcanoes in the tropics. Above the tropics, the stratosphere's circulation features rising air, which pulls the sulfur-containing volcanic aerosols high into the stratosphere. Upper-level winds in the stratosphere tend to flow from the Equator to the poles, so sulfur aerosols from equatorial eruptions get spread out over both hemispheres. These aerosol particles take a year or two to settle back down to earth, since there is no rain in the stratosphere to help remove them. However, if a major volcanic eruption occurs in the mid-latitudes or polar regions, the circulation of the stratosphere in those regions generally features pole-ward-flowing, sinking air, and the volcanic aerosol particles are not able to penetrate high in the stratosphere or get spread out around the entire globe. Redoubt is located near 59° north latitude, far from the tropics, and thus is unlikely to be able to inject significant amounts of sulfur aerosols into the stratosphere. Furthermore, the previous 1989 - 1990 eruption of Redoubt (Figure 3) put only about 1/100 of the amount of sulfur into the air that the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo did, according to the TOMS Volcanic Emissions Group. We can expect the current eruption of Redoubt to be similar in sulfur emissions to the 1989 - 1990 eruption, and have an insignificant impact on global climate.


Figure 3. Amount of sulfur gases put into the air by recent volcanic eruptions. Note that the 1989 eruption of Redoubt put only 1/100 the amount of sulfur dioxide (SO2) into the air that the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo did. Image credit: TOMS Volcanic Emissions Group.

For more information
Realclimate.org has a nice article that goes into the volcano-climate connection in greater detail. One interesting quote from the article: There can be some exceptions to the tropics-only rule, and at least one high latitude volcano appears to have had significant climate effects; Laki (Iceland, 1783-1784). The crucial factor was that the eruption was almost continuous for over 8 months which lead to significantly elevated sulphate concentrations for that whole time over much of the Atlantic and European regions, even though stratospheric concentrations were likely not particularly exceptional.

scienceblog.com has an interesting article about the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century--the 1912 eruption of Alaska's Mt. Novarupta, located in the same chain of volcanoes as Mt. Redoubt. According to a NASA computer model, Novarupta's climate-cooling aerosols stayed north of 30°N latitude, and did not cause global cooling. However, the model indicates that the eruption may have indirectly weakened India's summer monsoon, producing an abnormally warm and dry summer over northern India.

Jeff Masters

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149. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
6:38 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Seychelles Meteorological Services
Tropical Cyclone Warning Number SEVEN
FORTE TEMPETE TROPICAL IZILDA
22:00 PM Réunion March 25 2009
================================

At 18:00 PM UTC, Severe Tropical Storm Izilda [978 hPa] located at 23.7S 42.5E has 10 minute sustained winds of 55 knots with gusts of 80 knots. The storm is reported as quasi-stationary.

Dvorak Intensity: T4.0

Storm Force Winds
================
20 NM radius from the center

Gale Force Winds
===============
50 NM radius of the center

Near Gale Force Winds
===================
70 NM radius of the center, extending up to 120 NM in the northern semi-circle and up to 200 NM in the southwestern quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
=======================
12 HRS: 23.8S 42.4E - 65 knots (CYCLONE Tropical)
24 HRS: 23.7S 42.4E - 60 knots (Forte Tempéte Tropicale)
48 HRS: 22.9S 40.6E - 50 knots (Forte Tempéte Tropicale)
72 HRS: 22.4S 38.6E - 40 knots (Tempéte Tropicale Moderée)

Additional Information
=====================
Convection has clearly improved around the eye, as the system goes on intensifying (CF microwave imagery F17 at 1452z). The eye remains quite irregular and a weak constraint is visible on satellite imagery. Izilda has clearly slowed down and is expected to become stationary within the next 24 hours before recurving west-northwestwards under the steering influence of the subtropical high pressures rebuilding in its southwest. This subtropcial ridge is expected to become the main steering flow beyond 36 hours. System is also expected to recurve west-northwestwards upper level jet (well showed on infrared METEOSAT-7 imagery) existig in the west and in the south of the system expected to keep improving the upper level poleward divergence but could become a limiting factor as the system recurves west-northwestward linked to a strengthening wind shear. Izilda could before reach minimal tropical cyclone stage.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 48 Comments: 43658
148. presslord
6:02 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
For anyone interested...the ordination of Msgr. Robert Gugliemone as Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Charleston (which encompasses the entire state of South Carolina)can be viewed now @ www.catholic-doc.org....trust me: it'll be quite a show....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10458
147. HurricaneKing
6:00 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
You know what's ironic? The storm over the nw Atlantic is producing more convection then some of the subtropical storms we saw last year.
Member Since: July 6, 2005 Posts: 71 Comments: 2449
146. Ossqss
5:08 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Ice cores interpreted from both sides of the fence. CUL8R


Link

Link


Link
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8183
145. Ossqss
4:44 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
black soot from burning resources that we know is warming the arctic 5º

In theory, and unproven. I am not sure I like the sediment of this subject matter. :) Speculation based upon short term sampling can be dangerous when attempting to draw long term conclusions. This planet has been impacted in many larger ways, by vitue of natural and cosmic events, than the human scape goat senario.

This now, may not be that, then. º¿ª
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8183
144. tampabos
4:38 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
I should have made it more clear that on the Alaska Volcano Observatory website, in order to view the information about recent earthquakes, you must click on the tab labeled Current Volcanic Activity, then click the Recent Earthquakes link that appears in the summary section.
143. tampabos
4:31 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
I have found that the Alaska Volcano Observatory website is a useful tool to track this latest eruption. On this website is a useful tool that describes the link between eruptions and earthquakes. I would recommend it to anyone here who is interested.

Link
142. atmoaggie
4:27 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Quoting Skyepony:
atmo~ Can you name any artic volcano that caused the northwest passage to open in the past due to the ash settling? I would atleast like to see the sea Ice graph compared to years in recent history with known volcanos in the northern hemisphere. Your backing that up with nothing..

Sulfur aerosols tend to cool by blocking sunlight which may cancel the effect & how dark is the ash compared to the black soot from burning resources that we know is warming the arctic 5º? After looking at pictures of both I'm not convinced soot is lighter than ash. It's worth looking at numbers.


Not sure how the albedo quantitatively compares to black soot...

Soot is surely darker than ash. Ash is surely much darker than ice.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
141. tampabos
4:24 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Quoting Ossqss:
Try this item for the volcano type/size question.

Link


This is the item that concerns me most on this type of activity. Scary stuff.

Link


Thank you for the links. I was not aware that Yellowstone was such a hot bed of seismic activity.
140. atmoaggie
4:21 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Quoting TampaSpin:


Sky you are Correct. Sulfur dioxide partiticles tend to reflect sunlight causing cooling not heating. Atmo i'm not sure how you see warming occuring. Just my opinion but, i just don't see warming.


Sulfur dioxide particles tend to reflect sunlight in the atmosphere...as compared to clear sky. They are not pure white, therefore, they will reflect less than any snow/ice they might be deposited on.

Just my opinion but, i just don't see warming. Of the atmosphere? Me neither. Earlier melting of ice that has more non-white aerosols deposited on it than usual? A clear physical certainty if there actually are more non-white particles than usual in/on the ice.

No, I do not have any publications to list. Just intuition of albedo. Using my eyeballs comparing light reflected from one substance and another.

I will admit that the amount of ash deposited on Arctic sea ice, and the spatial coverage, is an important variable.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
139. Ossqss
4:19 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Try this item for the volcano type/size question.

Link


This is the item that concerns me most on this type of activity. Scary stuff. This would make Redoubt look like an ant hill.

Link
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8183
138. tampabos
4:11 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Compared to other recent volcanic activity, how does the latest erruption at Mt. Redoubt compare? With hurricanes and tornadoes there are different classification systems that tell us the strength or severity of the storm, do volcanoes have any such classification system?
137. Ossqss
3:59 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
126 -- This could help a bit and is quite interesting.

Link
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8183
136. fireflymom
3:43 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Quoting natrwalkn:
Does anyone have any creative ideas I can use for my Applied Climatology project? This is the assignment as written by my professor:

"A statistical analysis project which attempts to assess the association or relationship between climate and a human or physical system in North Carolina. The analysis must include at least two locations and four climate variables.
Example: Assess the relationship between climate and auto accidents in Wilmington and Asheville."


Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. I'm thinking of doing a relationship between climate and crime rates, but that seems sorta boring. I'd love to do something really interesting and unusual.

Thanks!!
How about snowfall rates and heart attacks?
Member Since: June 5, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 573
135. natrwalkn
3:38 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Quoting Ossqss:


Sounds like he has impacted the statistics recently. :)


Well, I know some of my other professors certainly have!
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 67
134. Ossqss
3:37 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Quoting natrwalkn:


Thanks for the suggestion!! My professor suggested the alcohol sales relationship too.


Sounds like he has impacted the statistics recently. :)

Nice flounder pic also
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8183
133. natrwalkn
3:35 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Quoting Ossqss:


How about -
1- climate and unemployment
2- climate and carwash business
3- climate and emergency room volume
4- climate and alchohol sales

I believe you will find that NC has significant shifts in all of these based upon the weather by season and even weekly. Good luck.


Thanks for the suggestion!! My professor suggested the alcohol sales relationship too.
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 67
132. NEwxguy
3:30 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Quoting Ossqss:


Things were just fine while you stayed in Florida, and you went back north and things are breaking loose all over the place. We have to blame someone. :-)


Hey,If I can quell severe outbreaks by staying in Florida,I'll be glad to volunteer,we all have to make sacrifices.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 862 Comments: 15079
131. TampaSpin
3:27 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
101. P451 8:03 AM EDT on March 25, 2009

Please Delete your post or fix your post. It caused a widening of the screen. Thanks.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
130. Ossqss
3:26 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Quoting natrwalkn:
Does anyone have any creative ideas I can use for my Applied Climatology project? This is the assignment as written by my professor:

"A statistical analysis project which attempts to assess the association or relationship between climate and a human or physical system in North Carolina. The analysis must include at least two locations and four climate variables.
Example: Assess the relationship between climate and auto accidents in Wilmington and Asheville."


Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. I'm thinking of doing a relationship between climate and crime rates, but that seems sorta boring. I'd love to do something really interesting and unusual.

Thanks!!


How about -
1- climate and unemployment
2- climate and carwash business
3- climate and emergency room volume
4- climate and alchohol sales

I believe you will find that NC has significant shifts in all of these based upon the weather by season and even weekly. Good luck.
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8183
129. fireflymom
3:24 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
"It shows Seismic activity."
The thicker the line the more activity there is, it is showing you enough activity to be another steam or ash event.
Member Since: June 5, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 573
128. TampaSpin
3:24 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Quoting tampabos:


From your graph, I would assume there is a positive correlation between volcanic activity and seismic activity. Do you agree?

Also, would volcanic activity bring about seismic activity just in the immediate area, or could it bring about activity world wide?


Yes in this case it is very clear on the Graph. Look at the time posted when the last Eruption was and the graph you can see the Eruption on the graph.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
127. tampabos
3:21 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Quoting TampaSpin:


Its an AVO Webicorders - of Valcano Redoubt

It shows Seismic activity!


From your graph, I would assume there is a positive correlation between volcanic activity and seismic activity. Do you agree?

Also, would volcanic activity bring about seismic activity just in the immediate area, or could it bring about activity world wide?
126. natrwalkn
3:19 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Does anyone have any creative ideas I can use for my Applied Climatology project? This is the assignment as written by my professor:

"A statistical analysis project which attempts to assess the association or relationship between climate and a human or physical system in North Carolina. The analysis must include at least two locations and four climate variables.
Example: Assess the relationship between climate and auto accidents in Wilmington and Asheville."


Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. I'm thinking of doing a relationship between climate and crime rates, but that seems sorta boring. I'd love to do something really interesting and unusual.

Thanks!!
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 67
125. TampaSpin
3:16 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Quoting tampabos:


What does this graph represent?


Its an AVO Webicorders - of Valcano Redoubt

It shows Seismic activity!
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
124. tampabos
3:11 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Quoting TampaSpin:


What does this graph represent?
123. Ossqss
3:06 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Quoting NEwxguy:
I get the feeling severe weather season is starting to ramp up.


Things were just fine while you stayed in Florida, and you went back north and things are breaking loose all over the place. We have to blame someone. :-)
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8183
122. NEwxguy
3:03 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
I get the feeling severe weather season is starting to ramp up.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 862 Comments: 15079
121. TampaSpin
2:56 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
120. Ossqss
2:54 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Red Cross encourages earthquake preparedness
Desert Sun Wire Service • March 24, 2009

The more than two dozen earthquakes that struck near the Salton Sea today prompted the American Red Cross to encourage Coachella Valley residents to be prepared for a bigger earthquake that could strike at any time.



Residents should put together an earthquake kit, have a disaster plan and know their city's disaster plan, according to Randy Phillips, an instructor for the Red Cross in Riverside.

``If you're not prepared, you're going to be more apt to panic, not know what to do, what to take and trying to plan all of that in some short urgent time frame rather than being prepared and following your system,'' Phillips said.

People should also make a plan for what to do during any disaster, not just earthquakes, Phillips said.

``They should make a plan on how are they going to get out of the house, where are they going to go,'' Phillips said, adding that people should share those plans with people from out of the area in case communications are down.

People should put together a kit that contains ``at least three days worth of supplies,'' including food, water and sanitary supplies, Phillips said.

``A couple things people forget are medications, some extra clothing and some cash,'' Phillips said.

Residents should also be informed of their city's disaster plan, Phillips said.

More information about disaster preparedness can be found at the American Red Cross' Web site at www.redcross.org.


Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8183
119. TampaSpin
2:53 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Looks like Redoubt is not done yet.......

Redoubt Volcano Latest Observations
2009-03-25 06:30:17

The cloud from the 05:12 AKDT is not visible on radar. It is unlikely that there will be any impact from this event.

2009-03-25 06:07:51

A small explosion occurred at Redoubt volcano at 05:12 AKDT (1312 UTC). The cloud height is estimated to be about 15,000 ft and is drifting north to northwest of the volcano. The event lasted about 10 minutes.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
118. tampabos
2:51 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Dr. Masters,

I was very lucky to stumble across your blog yesterday morning. I am grateful for the information you have provided. As I am a tropical weather fanatic, I cannot wait to see your expertise at work during the tropical season.

Do you believe there is a correlation between the volcanic erruption and seismic activity?

Thank you for your time.
117. fireflymom
2:48 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
"Ossgss
Don't forget the near miss with an Asteroid :)" Twice
2009 DD45
Mar. 2

0.2 LD

11

35 m
2009 FH
Mar. 18

0.2 LD

14

21 m
Member Since: June 5, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 573
116. TropicTraveler
2:36 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Aaaaccccckkkkkk! I missed that one.
Member Since: July 24, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 919
115. Ossqss
2:30 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Quoting TropicTraveler:
I log back on after being away for a few days and find you all have let the weather get completely out of control. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, cyclones, severe weather outbreaks, floods, and more forecast. Come on, let's shape it up now!


Don't forget the near miss with an Asteroid :)
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8183
114. TropicTraveler
2:23 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
I log back on after being away for a few days and find you all have let the weather get completely out of control. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, cyclones, severe weather outbreaks, floods, and more forecast. Come on, let's shape it up now!
Member Since: July 24, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 919
113. TampaSpin
2:07 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
River Flooding Map.....Left Click to Zoom....
Sorry i fixed it i messed up the first try:)

Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
112. Ossqss
2:02 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Quoting Patrap:
Interesting story for the "Model" minded.


Volcano in Alaska may have screwed up computer models


Interesting Patrap, I never knew how dependent we were on air travel to predict the weather.
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8183
111. TampaSpin
1:55 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
I just updated my Web Site and WU Blog if anyone would like to view.....SEVERE Weather Coming!

TampaSpins Web Link

TampaSpins WU Link
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
110. Patrap
1:49 PM GMT on March 25, 2009


Hurricanes rip into profit at Lloyd's of London
March 25, 2009


By Robert Barr

Lloyd's of London's pretax profit fell 51 percent last year under the effect of blows from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, the world's largest insurance market player said yesterday.

Pretax profit for the year was £1.9 billion (about R26.2 billion), compared with £3.85 billion recorded in 2007.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125572
109. Patrap
1:47 PM GMT on March 25, 2009



Is the problem over insurance or hurricanes?

The state would take on storm risks under a new plan.

TALLAHASSEE - The state would take over all hurricane insurance in Florida while at the same time dismantling its property insurance and reinsurance funds under a sweeping plan that received a lukewarm reception Tuesday.

Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, says her bill would calm the roiled property insurance market in Florida and actually allow taxpayers to save money while boosting the private sector.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125572
107. fireflymom
12:59 PM GMT on March 25, 2009
Quakes shake California's southeastern desert

1 hour ago

BOMBAY BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Dozens of small earthquakes are shaking the desert of southeastern California, the day after a moderate temblor struck on the edge of the Salton Sea.

The largest of the Wednesday morning earthquakes was a magnitude-3.5 at shortly before 1 a.m., and swarms of smaller quakes continued into the morning in the sparsely populated area about 90 miles east of San Diego, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Tuesday's magnitude-4.8 quake struck before dawn near the small town of Bombay Beach.

There have been no reports of damage or injury from any of the quakes.

Scientists are closely watching the increased earthquake activity because it is near a section of the San Andreas Fault that has not broken loose in more than 300 years.
On the Net:

* http://www.usgs.gov
* http://shakemovie.caltech.edu/event?evid14433456 Always one more thing to watch out for. May be a busy year for seismic activity.
Member Since: June 5, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 573
Quoting Skyepony:
atmo~ Can you name any artic volcano that caused the northwest passage to open in the past due to the ash settling? I would atleast like to see the sea Ice graph compared to years in recent history with known volcanos in the northern hemisphere. Your backing that up with nothing..

Sulfur aerosols tend to cool by blocking sunlight which may cancel the effect & how dark is the ash compared to the black soot from burning resources that we know is warming the arctic 5º? After looking at pictures of both I'm not convinced soot is lighter than ash. It's worth looking at numbers.


Sky you are Correct. Sulfur dioxide partiticles tend to reflect sunlight causing cooling not heating. Atmo i'm not sure how you see warming occuring. Just my opinion but, i just don't see warming.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430

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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.