Sea level rise: what has happened so far

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:05 PM GMT on June 10, 2009

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Sea level has been rising globally since the late 1700s. This rise has accelerated in recent decades, thanks to increased melting of glaciers and ice sheets due to a warmer climate, plus the fact that warmer oceans are less dense and expand, further increasing sea level. Though sea level rise appears to have slowed over the past five years, it will significantly accelerate if the climate warms the 2 - 3°C it is expected to this century. If these forecasts of a warmer world prove accurate, higher sea levels will be a formidable challenge for millions of people world-wide during the last half of this century. Sea level rise represents one of my personal top two climate change concerns (drought is the other). I'll present a series of blog posts over the coming months focusing on at-risk areas in the U.S., Caribbean, and world-wide. Today, I focus on the observed sea level rise since the Ice Age.

What's at stake
Higher sea levels mean increased storm surge inundation, coastal erosion, loss of low-lying land areas, and salt water contamination of underground drinking water supplies. About 44% of the Earth's 6.7 billion people live within 150 km (93 miles) of the coast, and 600 million people live at an elevation less than ten meters (33 feet). Eight of the ten largest cities in the world are sited on the ocean coast. In the U.S., the coastal population has doubled over the past 50 years. Fourteen of the twenty largest urban centers are located within 100 km of the coast, and are less than ten meters above sea level (McGranahan et al., 2007). The population of many vulnerable coastal regions are expected to double by 2050, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Sea level rise since the Ice Age
Before the most recent Ice Age, sea level was about 4 - 6 meters (13 - 20 feet) higher than at present. Then, during the Ice Age, sea level dropped 120 meters (395 ft) as water evaporated from the oceans precipitated out onto the great land-based ice sheets. The former ocean water remained frozen in those ice sheets during the Ice Age, but began being released 12,000 - 15,000 years ago as the Ice Age ended and the climate warmed. Sea level increased about 115 meters over a several thousand year period, rising 40 mm/year (1.6"/yr) during one 500-year pulse of melting 14,600 years ago. The rate of sea level rise slowed to 11 mm/year (0.43"/yr) during the period 7,000 - 14,000 years ago (Bard et al., 1996), then further slowed to 0.5 mm/yr 6,000 - 3,000 years ago. About 2,000 - 3,000 years ago, the sea level stopped rising, and remained fairly steady until the late 1700s (IPCC 2007). One exception to this occurred during the Medieval Warm Period of 1100 - 1200 A.D., when warm conditions similar to today's climate caused the sea level to rise 5 - 8" (12 - 21 cm) higher than present (Grinsted et al., 2008). This was probably the highest the sea has been since the beginning of the Ice Age, 110,000 years ago. There is a fair bit of uncertainty in all these estimates, since we don't have direct measurements of the sea level.


Figure 1. Global sea level from 200 A.D. to 2000, as reconstructed from proxy records of sea level by Moberg et al. 2005. The thick black line is reconstructed sea level using tide gauges (Jevrejeva, 2006). The lightest gray shading shows the 5 - 95% uncertainty in the estimates, and the medium gray shading denotes the one standard deviation error estimate. The highest global sea level of the past 110,000 years likely occurred during the Medieval Warm Period of 1100 - 1200 A.D., when warm conditions similar to today's climate caused the sea level to rise 5 - 8" (12 - 21 cm) higher than present. Image credit: Grinsted, A., J.C. Moore, and S. Jevrejeva, 2009, "Reconstructing sea level from paleo and projected temperatures 200 to 2100 AD", Climate Dynamics, DOI 10.1007/s00382-008-0507-2, 06 January 2009.

Sea level rise over the past 300 years
Direct measurements of sea level using tide gauges began in Amsterdam in 1700. Additional tide gauges began recording data in Liverpool, England in 1768 and in Stockholm, Sweden in 1774. These gauges suggest that a steady acceleration of sea rise of 0.01 mm per year squared began in the late 1700s, resulting in a rise in sea level of 2.4" (6 cm, 0.6 mm/yr) during the 19th century and 7.5" (19 cm, 1.9 mm/yr) during the 20th century (Jevrejeva et al., 2008). There is considerable uncertainty in just how much sea level rise has occurred over the past few centuries, though. Measuring global average sea level rise is a very tricky business. For starters, one must account for the tides, which depend on the positions of the Earth and Moon on a cycle that repeats itself once every 18.6 years. Tide gauges are scattered, with varying lengths of record. The data must be corrected since land is sinking in some regions, due to pumping of ground water, oil and gas extraction, and natural compaction of sediments. Also, the land is rising in other regions, such as Northern Europe, where it is rebounding from the lost weight of the melted glaciers that covered the region during the last Ice Age. Ocean currents, precipitation, and evaporation can cause a 20 inch (50 cm) difference in sea level in different portions of the ocean. As a result of all this uncertainty, the 1996 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report gave a range of 4 - 10" (10 - 25 cm) for the observed sea level rise of the 20th century. The 2007 IPCC report narrowed this range a bit, to 5 - 9" (12 - 22 cm), or 1.2 - 2.2 mm/year. Rates of sea level rise are much higher in many regions. In the U.S., the highest rates of sea-level rise are along the Mississippi Delta region--over 10 mm/yr, or 1 inch/2.5 years (USGS, 2006). This large relative rise is due, in large part, to the fact that the land is sinking.


Figure 2. Absolute sea level rise between 1955 and 2003 as computed from tide gauges and satellite imagery data. The data has been corrected for the rising or sinking of land due to crustal motions or subsidence of the land, so the relative sea level rise along the coast will be different than this. The total rise (in inches) for the 48-year period is given in the top scale, and the rate in mm/year is given in the bottom scale. The regional sea level variations shown here resulted not only from the input of additional water from melting of glaciers and ice caps, but also from changes in ocean temperature and density, as well as changes in precipitation, ocean currents, and river discharge. Image credit: IPCC, 2007

Sea level rise over the past 15 years
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 report, sea level accelerated from the 1.2 - 2.2 mm/yr observed during the 20th century to 3.1 mm/year during the period 1993 - 2003. These estimates come from high resolution measurements from satellite radar altimeters, which began in 1992. Tide gauges showed a similar level of sea level rise during that ten-year period. The IPCC attributed more than half of this rise (1.6 mm/yr) to the fact that the ocean expanded in size due to increased temperatures. Another 1.2 mm/yr rise came from melting of Greenland, West Antarctica, and other land-based ice, and about 10% of the rise was unaccounted for. However, during the period 2003 - 2008, sea level rise slowed to 2.5 mm/year, according to measurements of Earth's gravity from the GRACE satellites (Cazenave et al., 2008). This reduction in sea level rise probably occurred because ocean sea surface temperatures have not warmed since 2003 (Figure 3). The authors concluded that sea level rise due to ocean warming decreased more than a factor of five from 2003 - 2008, compared to 1993 - 2003, contributing only 0.3 mm/yr vs. the 1.6 mm/yr previously.


Figure 3. Global average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) from 1990-2008. SSTs have not increased in the past seven years. Image credit: NASA/GISS.

For more information
The best source of information I found while compiling my sea level pages was the Coastal Sensitivity to Sea-Level Rise: A Focus on the Mid-Atlantic Region report by the U.S. Climate Science Program. It has a huge number of references to all the latest science being done on sea level rise.

References
Bard, E., et al., 1996, "Sea level record from Tahiti corals and the timing of deglacial meltwater discharge", Nature 382, pp241-244, doi:10.1038/382241a0.

Cazenave et al., 2008, "Sea level budget over 2003-2008: A reevaluation from satellite altimetry and Argo", Global and Planetary Change, 2008; DOI:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2008.10.004

Grinsted, A., J.C. Moore, and S. Jevrejeva, 2009, "Reconstructing sea level from paleo and projected temperatures 200 to 2100 AD", Climate Dynamics, DOI 10.1007/s00382-008-0507-2, 06 January 2009.

IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), 2007: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor, and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, and New York, 996 pp.

Jevrejeva, S., J.C. Moore, A. Grinsted,, and P.L. Woodworth, 2008, "Recent global sea level acceleration started over 200 years ago?", Geophysical Research Letters, 35, L08715, doi:10.1029/2008GL033611, 2008.

McGranahan, G., D. Balk, and B. Anderson, 2007, "The rising tide: assessing the risks of climate change and human settlements in low elevation coastal zones", Environment & Urbanization, 19(1), 17-37.

Moberg, A., et al., 2005, "Highly variable northern hemisphere temperature reconstructed from low- and high-resolution proxy data", Nature 433, pp613-617, doi:10.1038/nature03265.

United States Geological Survey (USGS), 2006, National Assessment of Coastal Vulnerability to Sea-Level Rise: Preliminary Results for the U.S. Gulf of Mexico Coast, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 00-179.

Tropical update
The tropical Atlantic is quiet, and the only region worth watching is the Western Caribbean, which could see formation of a tropical disturbance with heavy thunderstorm activity this weekend.

Jeff Masters

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282. IKE
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Quoting Hurricajun:
That's where Bobby Hebert belongs... in a box! Just don't put his box near his birth home, that is only 2 streets from my house Pat!



We lost the High School State Championship to S Lafourche in 77 in Their Stadium.
Hebert was the Quarterback for S. Lafourche.
Nov.or Dec 77

I am a Bonnabel Bruin.

Tommy Wilcox,who Played for Jim Mora in the USFL was our Quarterback.

Cutoff nice Folks. Good Gumbo too.



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127371
Levi....why then green shading when none there earlier? I obvioulsy visually see no swirl...just saw it on the map and it looked to have vorticity there.....Thanks
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Hey guys please help me out. I'm volunteering with a large outdoor fundraiser for cancer on Saturday in Kingston, Jamaica. Should we be planning for a gentle shower or a monsoon?
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In response to someone who said something of the order of "why not try to prevent global warming/sea-level rise...we've done all sorts of environmental damage in the past...etc."

The trouble is, there is almost no chance of stopping whatever is causing the warming, and the efforts to try and stop it will kill the U.S. economy (our present situation is rosy compared to what would happen if Al Gore and his cronies got what they want). The whole man-made-global warming/climate change issue is political. Those who want to destroy the U.S. see it as a way to meet that goal. There are many bad people out there who want the U.S. to be just another European state. By killing our economy, we would be forced to be subservient to other forces/entities out there. Global warming would probably benefit the U.S.; longer growing seasons, lower heating costs, etc. The downside would possibly be greater rates of sea level rise (greater than what has been going on for 18,000 years), but we're pretty smart, and could deal with it.
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That's where Bobby Hebert belongs... in a box! Just don't put his box near his birth home, that is only 2 streets from my house Pat!
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PAT...Bobby Hebert greatest usfl QB ever.....LOL!
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Quoting canesrule1:

no that one i RIP-ed is dead im talking about the one emerging of the Panama, Costa Rica area.

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Quoting Buhdog:
is it me or is the voticity looking greater off the SWFL coast? something there?


There's nothing there.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26543
Quoting IKE:


I remember you "RIP-ing" it?
no that one i RIP-ed is dead im talking about the one emerging of the Panama Costa Rica area.
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270. IKE
Quoting canesrule1:
I think you guys this AOI in the southwest Caribbean should be monitored closely for the next 36 hours because i think an invest is imminent.


I remember you "RIP-ing" it?
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Bobby "Hebert"..in a "Box"

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127371
I am a student at Florida State and last summer this kid in the union was going off on sea level rise and said and I quote "imagine how many people will drown"-to this I responded "only Rip Van Winkle if he fell asleep on Miami Beach"

I write this from 140 ft above sea level waiting for my property value to rocket skyward as the Gulf swallows the coastline.

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TROPICAL DISCUSSION - INTERNATIONAL DESKS


THE PATTERN EVOLUTION/FORECAST OVER THE CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN CARIBBEAN CONTINUES TO PUZZLE THE MODELS. CYCLOGENESIS AS THE GFS FORECASTED HAS FAILED TO MATERIALIZED. IN EACH CYCLE THE GFS DELAYS ONSET BY 12-18 HRS...AND THE LATEST RUN IS NOT THE EXCEPTION. THE ECMWF CONTINUES TO FORESEE A MUCH SLOWER EVOLUTION...AND THIS IS STARTING TO LOOK AS THE BEST OPTION. THE EARLIEST WE MIGHT SEE A CYCLONE FORMING IS GOING TO BE AT 42-54 HRS...WITH A LOW FORMING NEAR SAN ANDRES ISLAND...TO THEN PULL NORTH TOWARDS JAMAICA/THE CAYMAN ISLES BY 66-72 HRS. ALTHOUGH THE SYSTEM IS SLOW TO DEVELOP...CONDITIONS FOR ORGANIZED CONVECTION REMAIN FAVORABLE ACROSS JAMAICA-PORTIONS OF HAITI AND THE SOUTHEAST COAST OF CUBA. IN THIS AREA EXPECT RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF 20-40MM/DAY AND MAXIMA OF 150-250MM. WE MIGHT SEE A LULL IN ACTIVITY ON DAY 02...WITH ANOTHER SURGE ON DAY 03 AS THE SURFACE CYCLONE BECOMES BETTER ORGANIZED. BUT OVERALL...THIS REMAINS A HIGH UNCERTAINTY FORECAST.
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
256. Orcasystems

Once I found that website, I understood better. That Radarsat is 6000 watts, yet you only are exposed to microwatt levels. So QuikScat at 110 watts must be picowatts.

For comparison, the average household microwave transmits about 1000-1500 watts.
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I think you guys this AOI in the southwest Caribbean should be monitored closely for the next 36 hours because i think an invest is imminent.
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is it me or is the voticity looking greater off the SWFL coast? something there?
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Quickscat and Radarsat and all the sattellites must be the reason for the honey bee population to mysteriously dissapear, thats it! those watts of power are the culprit! lol

Their being internally fried
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256. Orcasystems

Once I found that website, I understood better. That Radarsat is 6000 watts, yet you only are exposed to microwatt levels. So QuikScat at 110 watts must be picowatts.
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260. IKE


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Quoting StormJunkie:


lol Makoto :~)

Not sure how long you have been reading the blogs, but I doubt that will be the first or last time you see that link. Usually it is posted in response to a question, but figured if I was going to call any other site "second rate"; then I should make sure to include mine.

The problem with this whole "create your own weather site" is that rarely do individuals have what it takes to make it to the next level. Not only do you have to offer something extremely unique, but you also have to have patience, the capability of marketing it, and the ability to sell it. Also have to be able to step outside of your ambition/dreams and try to find a way to make it something that Joe Public will use. May not seem like a big list, but it is a tough list. And if you don't do it all; then people will just continue to use what they already use for their weather.


lol I've seen it before, I just find it amusing.
Quoting StormJunkie:


lol Makoto :~)

Not sure how long you have been reading the blogs, but I doubt that will be the first or last time you see that link. Usually it is posted in response to a question, but figured if I was going to call any other site "second rate"; then I should make sure to include mine.

The problem with this whole "create your own wether site" is that rarely do individuals have what it takes to make it to the next level. Not only do you have to offer something extremely unique, but you also have to have patience, the capability of marketing it, and the ability to sell it. Also have to be able to step outside of your ambition/dreams and try to find a way to make it something that Joe Public will use. May not seem like a big list, but it is a tough list. And if you don't do it all; then people will just continue to use what they already use for their weather.


As a case in point, I used both accuweather and WU for a full year, before I kicked accuweather to the curb. Weather forecasting is something that people don't want a lot of change. (by people, I mean the public at large) Some "weather geeks" may jump on a new site quickly, but the public won't. It will take several years at the least.
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Quoting StormJunkie:


lol Makoto :~)

Not sure how long you have been reading the blogs, but I doubt that will be the first or last time you see that link. Usually it is posted in response to a question, but figured if I was going to call any other site "second rate"; then I should make sure to include mine.

The problem with this whole "create your own weather site" is that rarely do individuals have what it takes to make it to the next level. Not only do you have to offer something extremely unique, but you also have to have patience, the capability of marketing it, and the ability to sell it. Also have to be able to step outside of your ambition/dreams and try to find a way to make it something that Joe Public will use. May not seem like a big list, but it is a tough list. And if you don't do it all; then people will just continue to use what they already use for their weather.


Gee, all I did was post pretty pictures :)
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
206. Ossqss

QuikScat's transmitter is 110 watts. Link


Scenario

Physics is fine, but most of us are happier if we can relate unfamiliar situations to every day life. So lets look at a more familiar source of radiation as a parallel to what we can expect to experience from RADARSAT.

As the primary effect of microwave exposure on the human body is heating, let us look at the thermal radiation exposure that we experience from an ordinary 100 Watt incandescent lamp and try to match it to radiation from a RADARSAT overpass.

If the lamp is reasonably well worn (like the front porch light at home) we can expect that only about 10% of the power supplied to it is radiated as electromagnetic energy in the form of heat and light. If we assume that this radiation is isotropic (radiated uniformly in all directions) then our radiation exposure is just the radiated power times the solid angle defined by us and our distance from the light.

How far from the light bulb must we be to have a radiation exposure equivalent to our exposure from RADARSAT? This distance is just the square root of the radiated lamp power times our surface area divided by 4 pi and divided by the power that we intercept from RADARSAT. This would be approximately 300m.

Couple 300m light bulb



In order to experience the full thermal effect of the light bulb "equivalent", you would have to coat your naked body in soot (to help absorb the radiation). Then, expose yourself to the light bulb, positioned 300 metres away, for three quarters of a second!

We don't recommend trying this experiment because:

* you will not notice the heat
* you will impress the neighbours
* you may have trouble explaining your actions.


OK, I got all the pictures in it this time
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Quoting Makoto1:


Nice subtle advertising, lol


lol Makoto :~)

Not sure how long you have been reading the blogs, but I doubt that will be the first or last time you see that link. Usually it is posted in response to a question, but figured if I was going to call any other site "second rate"; then I should make sure to include mine.

The problem with this whole "create your own weather site" is that rarely do individuals have what it takes to make it to the next level. Not only do you have to offer something extremely unique, but you also have to have patience, the capability of marketing it, and the ability to sell it. Also have to be able to step outside of your ambition/dreams and try to find a way to make it something that Joe Public will use. May not seem like a big list, but it is a tough list. And if you don't do it all; then people will just continue to use what they already use for their weather.
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egads!
climate change blog is on here somwhere....

the tropical blog has nothing to talk about.... that leads to bickering.... we have been there... let's not go back, ok fellas?
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AOI #1

AOI #2
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
206. Ossqss

QuikScat's transmitter is 110 watts. Link


Scenario

Physics is fine, but most of us are happier if we can relate unfamiliar situations to every day life. So lets look at a more familiar source of radiation as a parallel to what we can expect to experience from RADARSAT.

As the primary effect of microwave exposure on the human body is heating, let us look at the thermal radiation exposure that we experience from an ordinary 100 Watt incandescent lamp and try to match it to radiation from a RADARSAT overpass.

If the lamp is reasonably well worn (like the front porch light at home) we can expect that only about 10% of the power supplied to it is radiated as electromagnetic energy in the form of heat and light. If we assume that this radiation is isotropic (radiated uniformly in all directions) then our radiation exposure is just the radiated power times the solid angle defined by us and our distance from the light.

How far from the light bulb must we be to have a radiation exposure equivalent to our exposure from RADARSAT? This distance is just the square root of the radiated lamp power times our surface area divided by 4 pi and divided by the power that we intercept from RADARSAT. This would be approximately 300m.
a couple 300m light bulb



In order to experience the full thermal effect of the light bulb "equivalent", you would have to coat your naked body in soot (to help absorb the radiation). Then, expose yourself to the light bulb, positioned 300 metres away, for three quarters of a second!

We don't recommend trying this experiment because:

* you will not notice the heat
* you will impress the neighbours
* you may have trouble explaining your actions.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


Well when I finish my C# course this year, I am planning to integrate it into weather by making a weather software for the company some time in the Winter and Spring of next year. But I just want to be a big weather site.
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Quoting StormJunkie:
Ok MD, don't take this the wrong way but...

Isn't that what the NWS, NHC, NOAA, TWC, WU, Accu, and others do?

Not to mention the other million second rate weather websites do?


Nice subtle advertising, lol
Quoting futuremet:
I am currently making a video for Futuremet Productions. I will release up to 45 videos this summer.


Got a site? Do you mind sharing the URL to da site if ya got one?
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Ok MD, don't take this the wrong way but...

Isn't that what the NWS, NHC, NOAA, TWC, WU, Accu, and others do?

Not to mention the other million second rate weather websites?
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245. IKE
Quoting IKE:


You deserve a break.........


Or...maybe you don't...lol:)
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244. IKE
Quoting Orcasystems:


Hurrah..I am off the hook.. somebody else said a swear word :)


You deserve a break.........
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Quoting Orcasystems:


Hurrah..I am off the hook.. somebody else said a swear word :)

Nope!

Quoting Orcasystems:
1705. Orcasystems 1:23 PM GMT on June 10, 2009

Quoting IKE:


LOL!


:(



We are in desperate need of a new Blog :(
Its getting so slow.. he might even mention GW just to Heat things up a bit (pun intended).


I should be taken out and shot :(
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I am currently making a video for Futuremet Productions. I will release up to 45 videos this summer.
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Quoting IKE:


I'm not sure. Two fellow blogger's just said something about..Herbert Box or Hebert Box.

Chocolate candies?



Hurrah..I am off the hook.. somebody else said a swear word :)
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206. Ossqss

QuikScat's transmitter is 110 watts. Link
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239. IKE
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Quoting StormJunkie:
What will your "weather company" do MD?


Predict Weather for mainly the US. It will mainly be focused on Tropical Weather, and Severe Weather and when the time comes, it will be focus on Wintry Weather
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Quoting clwstmchasr:
Quoting CybrTeddy:
Alright newer folks that its their first year, here's how it pretty much works for the blog and the tropical cyclone. From last year atleast and its showing this year.
1) GFS predicts a system like 200+ hours out,
2) After a few straight days of enduring the GFS some other models jump on board.
3) A disturbance develops in the general area of the models predicting something to develop.
4) The next day the NHC takes notice with usually a Low or sometimes a medium chance of development.
5) The disturbance gets the snot beat out of it over night due to Durinal Cycles.
6) The disturbance rebounds overnight and a lot of the times has -80C cloud tops.
7) Declared an Invest 90L-99L.
8) Invest recycles through step 5 and 6 for a few days,
9) Finally the invest either dies out or becomes a Tropical Depression or some times straight to Tropical Storm and we go out from there,

That is quite possibly the best plot synopsis I have seen of our local soap opera, "As the Blog Turns".


So are you telling me that the GFS is forecasting a storm and I should be worried:)


I prefer the Soap Opera name "As the Wind Blows"
Member Since: August 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2162
AMEN!!!Apocalypse -induced misanthropic environmental nervousness!!
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213

The volcanic eruptions that occured right before the end of the dinosaurs put out more "greenhouse gases" than we could ever hope to produce in the next 5000 years. To think that we are controlling the temperature of the planet is to ignore geological history. We aren't helping air quality for humans but on a planetary scale, it's like one person smoking a cigarette in the middle of the Superdome, in my opinion.
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234. IKE
Quoting Orcasystems:


Mind you.. if you did... it might get me off the hook for earlier.... so Ike... what do you think they are :)


I'm not sure. Two fellow blogger's just said something about..Herbert Box or Hebert Box.

Chocolate candies?

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What will your "weather company" do MD?
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So I am about to start a weather company and I am trying to figure out which name that I want it to be..

I have came down to four names. Which do you all think is best?

  • Spark Weather

  • Star Weather

  • People Weather

  • iWeather Live
  • Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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