Arctic temperatures the warmest in 2,000 years; 2009 Arctic sea ice loss 3rd highest

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:32 PM GMT on September 04, 2009

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It's time to take a bit of a break from coverage of the Atlantic hurricane season of 2009, and report on some important climate news. The past decade was the warmest decade in the Arctic for the past 2,000 years, according to a study called "Recent Warming Reverses Long-Term Arctic Cooling" published today in the journal Science. Furthermore, four of the five warmest decades in the past 2,000 years occurred between 1950 - 2000, despite the fact that summertime solar radiation in the Arctic has been steadily declining for the past 2,000 years. Previous efforts to reconstruct past climate in the Arctic extended back only 400 years, so the new study--which used lake sediments, glacier ice cores, and tree rings to look at past climate back to the time of Christ, decade by decade-- is a major new milestone in our understanding of the Arctic climate. The researchers found that Arctic temperatures steadily declined between 1 A.D. and 1900 A.D., as would be expected due to a 26,000-year cycle in Earth's orbit that brought less summer sunshine to the North Pole. Earth is now about 620,000 miles (1 million km) farther from the Sun in the Arctic summer than it was 2000 years ago. However, temperatures in the Arctic began to rise around the year 1900, and are now 1.4°C (2.5°F) warmer than they should be, based on the amount of sunlight that is currently falling in the Arctic in summer. "If it hadn't been for the increase in human-produced greenhouse gases, summer temperatures in the Arctic should have cooled gradually over the last century," Bette Otto-Bliesner, a co-author from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said in a statement.

The Arctic melt season of 2009
Arctic sea ice suffered another summer of significant melting in 2009, with August ice extent the third lowest on record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. August ice extent was 19% below the 1979 - 2000 average, and only 2007 and 2008 saw more melting of Arctic sea ice. We've now had two straight years in the Arctic without a new record minimum in sea ice. However, this does not mean that the Arctic sea ice is recovering. The reduced melting in 2009 compared to 2007 and 2008 primarily resulted from a different atmospheric circulation pattern this summer. This pattern generated winds that transported ice toward the Siberian coast and discouraged export of ice out of the Arctic Ocean. The previous two summers, the prevailing wind pattern acted to transport more ice out of the Arctic through Fram Strait, along the east side of Greenland. At last December's meeting of the American Geophysical Union, the world's largest scientific conference on climate change, J.E. Kay of the National Center for Atmospheric Research showed that Arctic surface pressure in the summer of 2007 was the fourth highest since 1948, and cloud cover at Barrow, Alaska was the sixth lowest. This suggests that once every 10 - 20 years a "perfect storm" of weather conditions highly favorable for ice loss invades the Arctic. The last two times such conditions existed was 1977 and 1987, and it may be another ten or so years before weather conditions align properly to set a new record minimum.

The Northeast Passage opens
As a result of this summer's melting, the Northeast Passage, a notoriously ice-choked sea route along the northern Russia, is now clear of ice and open for navigation. Satellite analyses by the University of Illinois Polar Research Group and the National Snow and Ice Data Center show that the last remaining ice blockage along the north coast of Russia melted in late August, allowing navigation from Europe to Alaska in ice-free waters. Mariners have been attempting to sail the Northeast Passage since 1553, and it wasn't until the record-breaking Arctic sea-ice melt year of 2005 that the Northeast Passage opened for ice-free navigation for the first time in recorded history. The fabled Northwest Passage through the Arctic waters of Canada has remained closed this summer, however. An atmospheric pressure pattern set up in late July that created winds that pushed old, thick ice into several of the channels of the Northwest Passage. Recent research by Stephen Howell at the University of Waterloo in Canada shows that whether the Northwest Passage clears depends less on how much melt occurs, and more on whether multi-year sea ice is pushed into the channels. Counter-intuitively, as the ice cover thins, ice may flow more easily into the channels, preventing the Northwest Passage from regularly opening in coming decades, if the prevailing winds set up to blow ice into the channels of the Passage. The Northwest Passage opened for the first time in recorded history in 2007, and again in 2008. Mariners have been attempting to find a route through the Northwest Passage since 1497.


Figure 1. Sea ice extent on September 2, 2009, with the Northwest Passage (red line) and Northeast Passage (green line) shown. The Northeast Passage was open, but the Northwest Passage was blocked in three places. The orange line shows the median edge of sea ice extent for September 2 during the period 1979 - 2000, and this year's ice extent is about 19% below average. Image credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Commercial shipping begins in the Northeast Passage
This year's opening marks the fourth time in five years that the Northeast Passage has opened, and commercial shipping companies are taking note. Two German ships set off on August 21 on the first commercial voyage ever made through the Northeast Passage without the help of icebreakers. The Northeast Passage trims 4,500 miles off the 12,500 mile trip through the Suez Canal, yielding considerable savings in fuel. The voyage was not possible last year, because Russia had not yet worked out a permitting process. With Arctic sea ice expected to continue to decline in the coming decades, shipping traffic through the Northeast Passage will likely become commonplace most summers.

When was the Northeast Passage ice-free in the past?
People have been attempting to penetrate the ice-bound Northeast Passage since 1553, when British explorer Sir Hugh Willoughby attempted the passage with three ships and 62 men. The frozen bodies of Sir Hugh and his men were found a year later, after they failed to make it past the northern coast of Finland. British explorer Henry Hudson, who died in 1611 trying to find a route through Canada's fabled Northwest Passage, (and whom Canada's Hudson Bay and New York's Hudson River are named after), attempted to sail the Northeast Passage in 1607 and 1608, and failed. The Northeast Passage has remained closed to navigation, except via assist by icebreakers, from 1553 to 2005. The results published in Science today suggest that prior to 2005, the last previous opening was the period 5,000 - 7,000 years ago, when the Earth's orbital variations brought more sunlight to the Arctic in summer than at present. It is possible we'll know better soon. A new technique that examines organic compounds left behind in Arctic sediments by diatoms that live in sea ice give hope that a detailed record of sea ice extent extending back to the end of the Ice Age 12,000 years ago may be possible (Belt et al., 2007). The researchers are studying sediments along the Northwest Passage in hopes of being able to determine when the Passage was last open.

References
Belt, S.T., G. Masse, S.J. Rowland, M. Poulin, C. Michel, and B. LeBlanc, "A novel chemical fossil of palaeo sea ice: IP25", Organic Geochemistry, Volume 38, Issue 1, January 2007, Pages 16-27.

Darrell S. Kaufman, David P. Schneider, Nicholas P. McKay, Caspar M. Ammann, Raymond S. Bradley, Keith R. Briffa, Gifford H. Miller, Bette L. Otto-Bliesner, Jonathan T. Overpeck, Bo M. Vinther, and Arctic Lakes 2k Project Members, 2009, "Recent Warming Reverses Long-Term Arctic Cooling", Science 4 September 2009: 1236-1239.

Howell, S. E. L., C. R. Duguay, and T. Markus. 2009. Sea ice conditions and melt season duration variability within the Canadian Arctic Archipelago: 1979.2008, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L10502, doi:10.1029/2009GL037681.

Tropical Weather Outlook
The remains of Tropical Storm Erika are bringing heavy rain to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands today, and this activity will spread to the Dominican Republic on Saturday. Radar-estimated rainfall shows up to three inches of rain has fallen in eastern Puerto Rico from the storm. Long range radar out of Puerto Rico shows no surface circulation or organization of the echoes, and redevelopment of Erika over the next three days is unlikely to occur due to high wind shear of 25 - 30 knots. By Monday or Tuesday, shear may drop enough to allow redevelopment, depending upon the location of Erika's remains. Redevelopment is more likely if Erika works its way northwestward into the Bahamas.

A large tropical wave with plenty of spin is located a few hundred miles southwest of the Cape Verdes Islands, off the coast of Africa. Heavy thunderstorm activity has increased slightly in this wave over the past day, and it has the potential to gradually develop into a tropical depression by early next week. NHC is giving this wave a low (less than 30% chance) of developing into a tropical depression by Sunday. The GFS model continues to predict development of this wave into a tropical depression early next week.

I'll have an update Saturday or Sunday, depending upon developments in the tropics.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting tornadodude:


then say the same thing to those who are debating the cause of global warming

really, football and global warming etc .. we're just talking. the tropics are kinda quiet right now. What's the harm in friendly banter? sheese.
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275. Murko
"then say the same thing to those who are debating the cause of global warming"

How is that not weather related?

M
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True but when the majority is ruled by the minority then how do we expect change in any form?
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Quoting presslord:


I am real...democracy does not allow for the incorporation of the views of a minority...representative republic does...


I'll say it again, read it slowly so you'll understand:

Republicanism is a form of democracy.
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Quoting bluehaze27:
Warmingistas? That's a good one. Spoken like a person with no argument who would rather cast aspersions and cast doubt on those YOU disagree with by name calling.Oh, by the way, using language like that does more to shut down an argument faster than all the facts one can ever "SHOUT" out.



neener neener boo boo...
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Quoting rareaire:
I like this one "Franklin knew that if people didn't educate themselves on current issues they are doomed to their own ignorance. When you trust too much in a Leader lying to you, you give power to a tyrant or tyrants. We must insist on truth from our leaders and if we receive none it's our duty to remove them. Freedom without truth leads to destuction of liberties. "
Well said.
The problem really does lie within "the people". Unfortunately many people vote strictly for their "team" much like in sports. The candidates really don't have to work for the vote so much anymore.
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Quoting yonzabam:


It's the basketball that makes my jaw drop. People actually go to watch that and pay to get in!

Heh, yeah. Almost as bad as baseball, but bad enough.

..In one's own humble opinion, of course.
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Quoting rareaire:
I like this one "Franklin knew that if people didn't educate themselves on current issues they are doomed to their own ignorance. When you trust too much in a Leader lying to you, you give power to a tyrant or tyrants. We must insist on truth from our leaders and if we receive none it's our duty to remove them. Freedom without truth leads to destuction of liberties. "


The problem is that they ALL lie...Democrats, Republicans, Independents...I'm telling you that being POTUS is the worst job in the world and those that seek the office are either absolute altruists with concern for themselves, liars and thieves looking to line their pockets or just nuckin' futs...the latter are the oines that scare me...Pat Roberts as POTUS? That would be Armageddon
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
apocalyps your still here


Have to go.
Elvis also left the building.
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Quoting Floodman:


if, for example, everyone stopped paying income taxes all at once there would be nothing the government could do...prosecute 150 million people? The shear numbers would assure success...enough "peaceful revelutions" like that would be about all it would take


If everyone had to write a check for their taxes at the end of the year or even quarterly like a small business, then this scenerio would be more likely to happen. However, people are so used to not getting the money that the government steals out of their check every week they have become lemmings. You don't miss what you've never had.
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Quoting Patrap:


Oz ..LOL..you best read up On the Topic friend,,..or do a lil research.

A Warmer GOM,and Atlantic Basin fuels the Large CV Hurricanes and that dude,..well, affects Millions.

Rising Artic Sea Levels have already caused some Coastal Inuit Native Alaskans to Move whole Villages inland miles.

Dont Bully others for your Lack of Understanding of the reality and facts.

You only make oneself look,well..uninformed. Id read the entry above for a starter.

What One believes and whats reality arent related,

The warming continues as the Planet has no ears and dosent Listen to you nor I.



Okay...you want to do something about it...great.

1) Lose the gas-powered car and make sure your new electric one is solar only and make sure that the solar only materials, as well as the rest of the car parts are made without the use of fossil fuels.
2) Take your home off the grid and do not heat your home by burning wood.
3) Quit buying (supporting) food that is produced using machinery / or meat products. In fact, stop buying anything that requires the use of fossil fuels to either create it or transport it.
4) Finally...influence the developing nations and the rest of the civilized world to do the same thing that you have chosen to do (China, India, Indonesia, South America, Africa.)

But...after you've done all that, make good and well sure that me, as an American and a free-market consumer...can do just as I please when it comes to such things, or you'll have a negative impact on my freedoms and liberties.

Chances are, you're not willing to do any of those things.

But if you are, please show me pictures and other proof so I might believe that someone living today in a civilized society is really crazy enough to do things like that.
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Quoting Murko:


Yes, because it's off-topic. This is a weather blog. If you want to talk about football, go somewhere else.

M


then say the same thing to those who are debating the cause of global warming
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apocalyps your still here
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53308
.
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Quoting Cotillion:


Hah, no, I'm in the minority.

I don't mind football (or soccer as you guys call it. Unfortunately. A thoroughly ugly word.) but I don't like the way it's organised. Same teams win again and again... just boring. And the amount of silly theatrics .. it's just not worth it anymore.

Been hooked on "American" football for quite some time, a few years at least. Favourite sport, just in front of cricket.

Just a shame you guys have to play baseball...


It's the basketball that makes my jaw drop. People actually go to watch that and pay to get in!
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257. Murko
Quoting tornadodude:


so because you have a problem with these topics, everyone should shut up???


Yes, because it's off-topic. This is a weather blog. If you want to talk about football, go somewhere else.

M
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Thx Storm nice update. My favorite part was..

The forecast center will be closed this weekend, unless there are any new developments. (I need a rest).

"Storm"
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Quoting presslord:


...as a matter of fact...we've never had a democracy...we have a representative republic...
I stand corrected .. it's all rather slippery ;)
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Quoting mikatnight:
This can’t be right:

ESPN NFL 2009 Power Rankings: Offseason
Top 20

1. Steelers
2. Patriots
3. Giants
4. Eagles
5. Colts
6. Chargers
7. Titans
8. Falcons
9. Vikings
10. Ravens
11. Panthers
12. Cardinals
13. Bears
14. Cowboys
15. Dolphins
16. Texans
17. Packers
18. Seahawks
19. Saints
20. Redskins


the entire NFC east is in the top twenty
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Erika just blew up all her convention.
She had to go to the convection of geneve to debat global warming.
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Quoting Floodman:


Lord, that's a whole other debate...that's been the case through the ages; we outnumber the government and if as Jefferson said, we decide the government is not working in our interest as they should, we need, from time to time clean house...
I like this one "Franklin knew that if people didn't educate themselves on current issues they are doomed to their own ignorance. When you trust too much in a Leader lying to you, you give power to a tyrant or tyrants. We must insist on truth from our leaders and if we receive none it's our duty to remove them. Freedom without truth leads to destuction of liberties. "
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Quoting mikatnight:


A representative republic is a form of democracy...get real.


I am real...democracy does not allow for the incorporation of the views of a minority...representative republic does...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
This can’t be right:

ESPN NFL 2009 Power Rankings: Offseason
Top 20

1. Steelers
2. Patriots
3. Giants
4. Eagles
5. Colts
6. Chargers
7. Titans
8. Falcons
9. Vikings
10. Ravens
11. Panthers
12. Cardinals
13. Bears
14. Cowboys
15. Dolphins
16. Texans
17. Packers
18. Seahawks
19. Saints
20. Redskins
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Quoting fireflymom:

Too many Politians-all that hot air causing ice melt.


ROFL!! Truer words have never been spoken!!
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Quoting NRAamy:
Cot....I thought you'd be more interested in REAL football...

:)


Hah, no, I'm in the minority.

I don't mind football (or soccer as you guys call it. Unfortunately. A thoroughly ugly word.) but I don't like the way it's organised. Same teams win again and again... just boring. And the amount of silly theatrics .. it's just not worth it anymore.

Been hooked on "American" football for quite some time, a few years at least. Favourite sport, just in front of cricket.

Just a shame you guys have to play baseball...
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Quoting TreasureCoastFl:
It's hard to clean house when the house has full control. We are fooling ourselves into thinking we have a democracy at all anymore, imo. It's been that way for quite a while. but as you said, that's a whole 'nother story ;)


This country has always been a Republic, a less open form of democracy but it had to be that way; too much distance between people. My problem is when the government forgets who they are why they're there...not advocating open rebellion, but a couple of high enough ranking officers in the military would make it possible, but then we'd be governed by a Junta, and that is certiainly no good. Gandhi had the right idea...without our participation in day to day operations of the country the govenrment starts to lose their hold...if, for example, everyone stopped paying income taxes all at once there would be nothing the government could do...prosecute 150 million people? The shear numbers would assure success...enough "peaceful revelutions" like that would be about all it would take
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Quoting presslord:


...as a matter of fact...we've never had a democracy...we have a representative republic...


A representative republic is a form of democracy...get real.
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Quoting apocalyps:


Did you now god is an excellent foofballplayer?


Did you say Brock Berlin? LOL
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Quoting Murko:


The truth is the truth even if nobody believes it.

And can we PLEASE stop talking about football?? People jumped on Connie the other day when she mentioned god. Football is just as much off-topic as religion and I have little interest in either.

M


Did you know god is an excellent footballplayer?
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Quoting Murko:


The truth is the truth even if nobody believes it.

And can we PLEASE stop talking about football?? People jumped on Connie the other day when she mentioned god. Football is just as much off-topic as religion and I have little interest in either.

M


so because you have a problem with these topics, everyone should shut up???
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Quoting LUCARIO:
Humans are Causing the world to heat
they are the cause for most world problems.
too many humans

Too many Politians-all that hot air causing ice melt.
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Cot....I thought you'd be more interested in REAL football...

:)
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Quoting TreasureCoastFl:
It's hard to clean house when the house has full control. We are fooling ourselves into thinking we have a democracy at all anymore, imo. It's been that way for quite a while. but as you said, that's a whole 'nother story ;)


...as a matter of fact...we've never had a democracy...we have a representative republic...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
238. Murko
Quoting Patrap:


What One believes and whats reality arent related,


The truth is the truth even if nobody believes it.

And can we PLEASE stop talking about football?? People jumped on Connie the other day when she mentioned god. Football is just as much off-topic as religion and I have little interest in either.

M
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:
You can't even discuss AGW/CC without the warmingistas shouting down anyone who may disagree. It is pointless.
Warmingistas? That's a good one. Spoken like a person with no argument who would rather cast aspersions and cast doubt on those YOU disagree with by name calling.Oh, by the way, using language like that does more to shut down an argument faster than all the facts one can ever "SHOUT" out.
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Quoting TreasureCoastFl:
It's hard to clean house when the house has full control. We are fooling ourselves into thinking we have a democracy at all anymore, imo. It's been that way for quite a while. but as you said, that's a whole 'nother story ;)
Well put.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20569
goodbye, all

I was sent to this blog to foreward people about hurricane season, see I got the power to know the future. but everyone so fat and happy won't listen to me. This season is going to be Bad! Atleast one storm will be bad, and it will hit Florida or texas. There is nothing we can do to stop it. It will come in late Sept, when its all so calm. It will be alot stronger then Katrina and Wilma. I have told Y'all its gonna happen, it will be large as gilbert. But no one wants to listen. This storm is going to be huge, I'm like Noah of the ark. I have already got everything ready all I need is more water. I am very scare of this monster. Guess no one has heard of calm before the storm. So, I'm leaving with a few more warnings


1. The world is overpopuled. so many humans, it takes 30 mins to get your food at a fast food place.\

2. this season is going to be strong. the big one will knock wilma off her socks.

erika will make a come back

bye yall

be careful FLORIDA AND TEXAS.

Im praying for you

i try to warn yall
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Quoting 954FtLCane:

thats only when they're at a convention


true,lol
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Quoting apocalyps:


Also a lot of pinguins.

thats only when they're at a convention
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Quoting Floodman:


Lord, that's a whole other debate...that's been the case through the ages; we outnumber the government and if as Jefferson said, we decide the government is not working in our interest as they should, we need, from time to time clean house...
It's hard to clean house when the house has full control. We are fooling ourselves into thinking we have a democracy at all anymore, imo. It's been that way for quite a while. but as you said, that's a whole 'nother story ;)
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Quoting stormno:
ok we will see if the saints click i have waited to long every year is the same old thing...im just thankful we have the TIGERS!!!!


Wrong there are no tigers on the arctic.
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Quoting cajunmoma:
One thing is for sure. If you go and ask someone that is let say 80 years old, if there is any difference in the seasons from when they were younger, I am willing to bet they would say yes.

I have heard stories of how cold it use to get here in South Louisiana, sometimes it snowed, others it didn't, but the temperature use to get and stay below freezing for quite some time, so the older generation says.

My point, it is not that hard to figure out things are changing, the problem is what is it that is having such an effect?? As my grandfather use to say..."Opinions are like a holes, and everyone has one, some even have 2!"



opinions are like arm pits, everyone has a couple and they both stink
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Quoting LUCARIO:
Humans are Causing the world to heat
they are the cause for most world problems.
too many humans

Well we could eliminate all the child molesters and rapists and that would be a good start. IMO
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Quoting TreasureCoastFl:


But then again, it really does depend on who you ask. kinda like Crichton (may he rest in peace) book "State of Fear" where the governemnt loves us being in just that.. a state of fear. (for obvious reasons)


Lord, that's a whole other debate...that's been the case through the ages; we outnumber the government and if as Jefferson said, we decide the government is not working in our interest as they should, we need, from time to time clean house...
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is the hurricane hunters on a early mission.they were schedule to leave at 1700 and they are in route now @ 1500.
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About

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