The uncertain legacy of Copenhagen

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:39 PM GMT on December 22, 2009

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The Copenhagen (COP15) climate summit is over, and leaves an uncertain legacy. What was accomplished in Copenhagen was far outweighed by what was not accomplished. While the final Copenhagen Accord affirmed that we must hold the warming of our planet below 2°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100 to avert dangerous climate change, no timetable for accomplishing that goal was specified. The promises made by the various nations at the summit would likely lead to a 3.9°C warming of the planet, according to an analysis by MIT's Sustainability Institute. Copenhagen did demonstrate that the hype preceding the talks was not undeserved--the stakes involved are huge, and we have an epic political battle on our hands that will afford high drama in 2010. Probably the best summary of the political battle at Copenhagen was posted by author Mark Lynas on the UK Guardian's web site. The title of the article was, "How do I know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal? I was in the room".

The leaders for greenhouse gas reductions
While the Copenhagen Summit made it clear that the coming battle will feature the U.S. and China, the voices of two tiny island nations--Tuvalu and The Maldives--will be important as well. When ranked by percentage of population located near the coast at an elevation of ten meters or less, the top five spots are held by small island nations with more than 90% of their population in this Low Elevation Coastal Zone--the Maldives, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Cayman Islands, and Turks and Caicos Islands (McGranahan et al., 2007). The very existence of these island nations are threatened by sea level rise due to climate change. The leaders of Tuvalu and The Maldives brought considerable attention to their plight at the Copenhagen conference, and President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, in particular, has made his tiny country a force to be reckoned with in the coming battle.


Figure 1. President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed and 11 cabinet ministers donned scuba gear and submerged 4 meters below the surface of sea to hold the world's first underwater cabinet meeting on October 17, 2009, in order to dramatize the threat sea level rise poses to their country.

The leaders against greenhouse gas reductions
Canada has joined Saudi Arabia as a leading voice against efforts to control emissions of greenhouse gases. According to The Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), which is published annually by Germanwatch and CAN-Europe, Canada ranks second to last in climate policy and in overall efforts to tackle climate change, among the 57 industrialized countries and emerging economies that together account for more than 90 per cent of global energy-related CO2 emissions. Canada's national statement at COP15 featured no commitments of money or targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and Canada also lobbied to change the "base" year from when emission reductions should be computed from 1990 to 2006. Croatia was the only other country to support Canada's position. The notorious political pranksters The Yes Men dramatized Canada's position by issuing a phony press release during COP15 claiming that Canada had come to its senses and was now going to work toward a 40 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions, the type of cut scientists say is necessary if we are to avoid dangerous warming of more than 2°C over pre-industrial levels. Canadian reporters immediately recognized the news release as a hoax. Canadian politics is heavily dominated by the fossil fuel industry, and Canadian reporters immediately saw the impossibility of the Canadian government performing an about-face on climate policy.


Figure 2. The top ten and bottom ten performing countries on the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), published annually by Germanwatch and CAN-Europe to rank the efforts to combat climate change of the 57 industrialized countries and emerging economies that together account for more than 90 per cent of global energy-related CO2 emissions. The ranking system factors in three scores: the emissions level (CO2 per primary energy unit, primary energy unit per GDP, and primary energy unit per capita); the emissions trend (whether emissions are rising or falling), and a subjective rating of the nation's national and international climate policy. Tall bars indicate a higher ranking, and thin bars represent a poor ranking. None of the 57 countries were doing enough to keep global warming below 2°C, so the top three spots on the list were left blank. Image credit: Germanwatch.org.

Comparison with the battle over CFC regulations and the ozone hole
On June 28, 1974, Sherry Rowland and Mario Molina, chemists at the University of California, Irvine, published the first scientific paper warning that human-generated chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) could cause serious harm to Earth's protective ozone layer (Molina and Rowland, 1974). They calculated that if CFC production continued to increase at the going rate of 10%/year until 1990, then remain steady, CFCs would cause a global 5 to 7 percent ozone loss by 1995 and 30 - 50% loss by 2050.

They warned that the loss of ozone would significantly increase the amount of skin-damaging ultraviolet UV-B light reaching the surface, greatly increasing skin cancer and cataracts. The loss of stratospheric ozone could also significantly cool the stratosphere, potentially causing destructive climate change. Although no stratospheric ozone loss had been observed yet, CFCs should be banned, they said. A huge international political battle ensued, one that eerily echoes many of the same themes as the battle over global warming. In a 1984 interview in The New Yorker, Dr. Rowland concluded, "Nothing will be done about this problem until there is further evidence that a significant loss of ozone has occurred. Unfortunately, this means that if there is a disaster in the making in the stratosphere we are probably not going to avoid it." These prophetic words were proved true the very next year with the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole. Speedy action to save the planet from potentially disastrous loss of the ozone layer was realized with the swift implementation of the Montreal Protocol two years later, though.

As was the case with the battle over the CFCs and the ozone layer, I expect it will take a obvious imminent climate change disaster to motivate governments to take strong action. I believed in September 2007 that such an event had occurred, when the Arctic ice cap lost more than half of its area, compared to levels observed in the early 1950s. I was astounded at the nonchalance the event earned in the press and among politicians. But, in hindsight I should not have been surprised, since the stakes are very much higher than the battle to ban CFCs--now we are talking about the fossil fuel industry, the very basis for our modern industrialized society. A very big, very obvious disaster in the making will probably be needed to motivate strong enough action to make a major difference in CO2 emissions. Our climate is certainly capable of generating such an event in the coming decade. Unfortunately, if we wait until a disaster is obviously imminent, we will have far less time to prevent a climate disaster than we had for the ozone depletion crisis. The lifetime of CFCs in the atmosphere is 50 - 140 years, but a substantial portion of the CO2 put in the air stays for thousands of years. According to the 2007 IPCC report, "About 50% of a CO2 increase will be removed from the atmosphere within 30 years, and a further 30% will be removed within a few centuries. The remaining 20% may stay in the atmosphere for many thousands of years."

References
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.

Molina, M.J., and F.S. Rowland, "Stratospheric Sink for Chlorofluoromethanes: Chlorine Atom-Catalyzed Destruction of Ozone", Nature 249, 810-812, 1974.

Next post
Have a great Christmas, everyone, and I'll be back with a new post on Monday (at the latest).

Jeff Masters

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After looking at Satellite image archives, the Atlantic storm is actually the merger of the second low pressure center trailing behind last week's Mideast low merging with the tropical flare-up in the Caribbean. The original storm has already sent four cyclones toward Western Europe, and this one could be counted as the fifth. The frontal systems associated with the Atlantic lows are actually sending pieces of itself outward that undergo cyclogenisis and become storms of their own. This is what Nida did in the North Pacific and the East Pacific low did to California. So while the US Midwest is getting a storm roughly once every week, Western Europe is getting an almost continuous stream of blizzards marching across the North Atlantic. This is eating away into the Bermuda High, and if it continues, it could alter the direction of the Gulf Stream.

Paris, the capital of France, gets a little snow on some winters, but not usually this early in the year. When it does snow, adults carry umbrellas and children cry (because they've never seen something like this before). Kind of reminds me of the 1999 book The Coming Global Superstorm, on which "The Day After Tomorrow" was originally based.
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2835
Quoting Patrap:
Maybe Dr. Jeff Masters if he's a-lurking can give us the skinny on the Atlantic Neutercane.




Central pressure 966MB, 28.53", as strong as Hurricane Ike, when he hit Galveston, 9-13-08.
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1186. Patrap
Maybe Dr. Jeff Masters if he's a-lurking can give us the skinny on the Atlantic Neutercane.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127536
Quoting Bordonaro:


It was a Dallas-Ft Worth Metroplex Christmas Miracle. I took a slew of pic's yesterday morning, I have to download them to my computer. I enjoy the taste of coffee way too much for an IV drip, plus I cannot stand needles.

I make my coffee nice and strong so I can get my morning "jolt". But not as strong as Louisiana coffee though!!


You have to do what I do... I have an old fashioned stove top Coffee percolator... now thats coffee :) When I first got it.. SWMBO didn't even know what it was... or how to use it. Now she loves it..
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1184. Patrap
A Modakai El Nino Winter can do that..expect more of the same as the pattern is Locked in for a spell to come too.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127536
1183. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127536
Patrap, nice pic. It was SO WINDY here on Christmas Eve, sustained winds of 25-40MPH gusts up to 50-55MPH> It was snowing sideways, upside down, loopty-loops, maybe even upside down!
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Quoting P451:
Not sure, Bord, but here's the surface: "Hurricane Force".



Looks like 2 surface Lows indicated, one is at 982MB, the other is at 972MB, or 28.93" and 28.70". One monster storm!
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AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI

Humor in Comments
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1179. Patrap
I posted a Entry on the Tsunmai from 5 years ago today,The Great Boxer Day Tsunami of 2004.

Truly a Earth Shaking event with a terrible Human toll.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127536
Patrap, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is a 20TH Century classic spoof on how dysfunctional Christmas can be! I watched it online on You Tube, about a week before Christmas, it was hysterical!
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P451, that Nor'Easter is going to SLAM Europe, I hope thy're watching it closely. What is the Central pressure of that, near 960MB?
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1175. Patrap
Quoting Bordonaro:
Patrap, whatever you do, if the "crapper" on your RV is full do not dump it down a storm sewer!!




LOL..okay Clark
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127536
Quoting Bordonaro:


We ended up at 43F yesterday, after a morning Low of 25F. And the snow was 85% melted by 3pm yesterday.


oh man, at least you had snow :P
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Patrap, whatever you do, if the "crapper" on your RV is full do not dump it down a storm sewer!!
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1171. Patrap
Quoting Bordonaro:


It was a Dallas-Ft Worth Metroplex Christmas Miracle. I took a slew of pic's yesterday morning, I have to download them to my computer. I enjoy the taste of coffee way too much for an IV drip, plus I cannot stand needles.

I make my coffee nice and strong so I can get my morning "jolt". But not as strong as Louisiana coffee though!!


We had snow Dec 25th,Xmas in 2004 along with Houston,..was a fantastic Xmas.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127536
Quoting tornadodude:


haha well I had temperatures around 55 early christmas morning, then ended the day with snow


We ended up at 43F yesterday, after a morning Low of 25F. And the snow was 85% melted by 3pm yesterday.
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1169. Patrap
Hang on to ya mittens and Storm Drains in Se. La next week.

Itsa gonna get a tad wet and Bumpy,then into da freeza seems.




Area forecast discussion
National Weather Service New Orleans la
622 am CST Sat Dec 26 2009



Update...
sounding discussion...


The flight terminated near 300 mb due to limiting angles. The
atmosphere remains dry and stable with a strong middle level jet in
place over the area. Winds are calm near the surface and out of
the southwest aloft.


&&


Previous discussion... /issued 422 am CST Sat Dec 26 2009/


Short term...
first system not expected to make a lot of noise. A light cold
rain for Sat night into sun. Cloudy skies will keep temperatures cool on
sun as well.


We then fast forward to Tuesday evening. A surface low develops near brn
then moves NE to the southeast la coast by Wednesday bringing at first some
light cold rain. The deepening surface low will bring in a lot of
moisture to the area. It will also bring a deep dry air surge
from the west. The deep dry air will act like a wall causing the
moisture to be forced upward very quickly Wednesday afternoon through a
good part of Wednesday night. This will cause some moderate to heavy
rainfall to break out over a section of southeast la close to the surface
low. There will also be some strong wind speeds over the coastal
sections of the area and offshore. So there looks to be two major
things to look at. First will be amount of rainfall and the second
is strong gradient winds. Severity does not look to be an issue
at this time. Will begin to watch this system for its heavy rainfall
potential over the New Orleans metropolitan area.


Long term...
cold high pressure moves into the area and stays through the
remainder of the fcast pack.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127536
Quoting Patrap:
Thanx Mr. B..Ill take it here a la natural,in da cup.

But thanx anyway,..and for the B-day wishes 2

I saw you had a White Xmas. Always and festive touch for the Holiday


It was a Dallas-Ft Worth Metroplex Christmas Miracle. I took a slew of pic's yesterday morning, I have to download them to my computer. I enjoy the taste of coffee way too much for an IV drip, plus I cannot stand needles.

I make my coffee nice and strong so I can get my morning "jolt". But not as strong as Louisiana coffee though!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Bordonaro:


Well, at least you got a lil' snow for Christmas. I originally thought the TX Monster L was gonna pass to your E, putting tou on he cold side of the storm. Another serving of crow, well done, please :o)!!


haha well I had temperatures around 55 early christmas morning, then ended the day with snow
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1166. Patrap
Thanx Mr. B..Ill take it here a la natural,in da cup.

But thanx anyway,..and for the B-day wishes 2

I saw you had a White Xmas. Always a festive touch for the Holiday
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127536
Patrap, would you like an intreveous feed of coffee this morning? By the way, an early Happy Birthday:

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1164. Patrap
presslord..Im sending some info on the matter at hand now,..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127536
Quoting tornadodude:
1160:

I was being a little sarcastic :P


Well, at least you got a lil' snow for Christmas. I originally thought the TX Monster L was gonna pass to your E, putting tou on he cold side of the storm. Another serving of crow, well done, please :o)!!
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1162. Patrap
Coffee,..coffee..and more coffee.


is it 2010 yet ?

Did I mention I turn 50 Jan 15th?

In lieu of presents,just send a donation to portlight.org instead.

The need is great and it will help others in need as well.


Im "gifted" enough some say,LOL



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127536
1160:

I was being a little sarcastic :P
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Quoting tornadodude:
I got a white Christmas (:



You call that a white Christmas?! Here in S. Ontario, we'd call that a green Christmas because the grass is still green, unless you had more snow earlier. That looks like less than 0.1 inch of snow on the ground.

At my location, the snow cover has been reduced to 2 cm, from closer to 10 cm on the ground yesterday. It's still raining, although not as heavily as before. It's ridiculous that the Midwest has seen so much snow and we have seen none so far from this storm. However, this Texas low also illustrates the danger of blizzard conditions in the Midwest: two dozen people were killed. Some places have seen over 45 cm (18 inches) of snow, and many records have been broken. Again, it looks like a storm of this intensity is hitting the North American continent about once every week, if not at a higher rate.

The nor'easter storm in the North Atlantic is strengthening and preparing to hit Europe, likely to bring more blizzard-like conditions to places such as France, the British Isles, and Germany. The cold front loops around the system, from the western North Atlantic to Portugal to the Virgin Islands. The GFS forecast currently depicts part of the current storm in the Midwest to head toward Europe on the same track, and a storm behind it is expected to head in the same direction as well. It looks like the storms are affecting the direction and temperatures in the Gulf Stream, as many warm and cool eddies have developed, and most of the current is in deep warm and cold anomalies.

Back to Southern Ontario, rain has switched to drizzle with some possible mixing. It was 1.9C when I went to sleep the night before. My thermometer never recorded a temperature below 1.7C (35.1F), meaning that the cold sector of the storm is still looping back on itself. Texas lows often dissapoint if you want snow in S. Ontario, as the storm on the first of December did. This December so far has been warmer than most in previous years.

The warm anomaly in the South Pacific is drifting closer to Antarctica. The WHWP seems already to be rather large in the East Pacific, although high pressure appears to be rebuilding over the Caribbean.
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2835
Quoting presslord:
it's a long story...but the short version is: last year I agreed to be photographed in a dress if we raised $10000 for Portlight...we did...it's in Dr Masters archive...just before Halloween last year...


Ha, ha, ha!! Good for you!! I believe I saw the picture :o)!
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From my Christmas present, a Weather Station, someone should have had a camera as I was on top of our 30' roof at noon yesterday:

SE Arlington, TX
Saturday, Dec 26, 2009 @ 9:53AM

Sunny

Temp: 39F
Rel Hum: 53%
Dew Point: 23F
Winds: N at 3 MPH
Bar Press: 30.15" and rising

This mornings Low temp: 25F
Highest Rel Hum: 86%

I wish I had this up for our Christmas Eve wind/snowstorm!
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it's a long story...but the short version is: last year I agreed to be photographed in a dress if we raised $10000 for Portlight...we did...it's in Dr Masters archive...just before Halloween last year...
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Quoting Bordonaro:


Ok, why is Press wearing a dress??


must he show you haha
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Quoting tornadodude:
haha well I'd prefer to remain uninformed this time!


Ok, why is Press wearing a dress??
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Gonna go get my butt kicked in Chess. I like to play online. Wont take long.
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 551
haha well I'd prefer to remain uninformed this time!
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Quoting tornadodude:


is that what you wear under your dress? :P



Hey now!

Press looks good in a dress!
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 551
maybe...maybe not...a girl's gotta have some secrets ya know...
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Quoting presslord:
things...not thongs...I'm pretty sure we agree on thongs


is that what you wear under your dress? :P
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Re: 1145

That must mean the Saints are gonna win the Superbowl!!!
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 551
things...not thongs...I'm pretty sure we agree on thongs
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I dont ever disagree on thongs!!!
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 551
Quoting PensacolaDoug:
this is ridiculous...if we're at war...then we're at war...a few bad guys getting the crap beat out them is just OK by me...


Holy moly! Press and I agree on Something!
Hell must have froze over!


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Of course if Hell really does freeze over, somebody, somewhere, will blame it on you-know-what!
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 551
Dude...we probably agree on a lot...the nice part is we can disagree on some thongs and still be civil...
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this is ridiculous...if we're at war...then we're at war...a few bad guys getting the crap beat out them is just OK by me...


Holy moly! Press and I agree on Something!
Hell must have froze over!
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 551
Quoting PensacolaDoug:




I wouldn't have blamed the passengers had they beat that guy to death.



yup...I'm very disappointed they didn't
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:
Lawmakers rally to sailors' aid in court martial
By KEVIN FREKING (AP) %u2013 Dec 4, 2009

WASHINGTON %u2014 Lawmakers are seeking a reprieve for three Navy SEALs facing court-martial because one allegedly punched a suspect after arresting him for an ambush killing of U.S. contractors in Iraq.

Rather than accept a reprimand, the sailors chose to fight the charges in a military court. Their appeal greatly raises the stakes because a guilty finding could bring stiff punishment.

A letter that Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif, circulated in the House said prosecuting the three SEALs "seems to us to be an overreaction by the command."

One of the SEALs is accused of punching Ahmed Hashim Abed in the face after his September arrest; the others are accused of falsifying statements on the episode.

Hunter, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said the men could face loss of rank, up to one year of confinement, a bad conduct discharge and forfeiture of a portion of their pay each month for up to a year.

About 20 lawmakers signed the letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, including House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

"The Navy SEALs could have been slapped on the wrist for this %u2014 unfairly then, too," Hunter said. "But they said, 'We want to let the facts be known." Prosecuting them is "baloney."

The SEALs involved are Special Warfare Operators 2nd Class Matthew McCabe and Jonathan Keefe, and Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Julio Huertas.

According to Special Operations Command Central, McCabe is charged with assault, dereliction of duty and making a false official statement; Keefe is charged with dereliction of duty and making a false official statement; and Huertas is charged with dereliction of duty, making a false official statement and impeding an official investigation.

The command said in a press release Friday night the alleged assault happened after "the prisoner had been apprehended and while he was in their custody at the base." The command stressed that the charges were merely accusations and the sailors were presumed innocent unless proven guilty at court martial.

The plight of the three men seems to be gaining attention on Capitol Hill. On Wednesday, Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., sent a similar letter to Gates, asking the secretary to give the case his personal attention. He said it appeared to him that highly skilled personnel have been removed from the war effort "due to a fat lip and some slanderous allegations by one of the most-wanted individuals in Iraq."

The letter by House members said prosecution of the sailors would hurt others in the military who risk their lives in dangerous, ambiguous situations.

"It appears from all accounts that these SEALs are exceptional sailors, demonstrated by the fact that each had recently been advanced in rank," the letter said. "They captured a terrorist who had planned an attack that not only killed Americans but also maimed and mutilated their bodies."

Abed had evaded capture since the ambush that killed four Blackwater USA contractors in March 2004. The burned bodies of two of the victims in the attack were hung on a bridge over the Euphrates River.




this is ridiculous...if we're at war...then we're at war...a few bad guys getting the crap beat out them is just OK by me...
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1137. Thanks for posting that story, Doug. Once again, "buried" info...I was wondering why the Seals didn't just make a deal to accept a little reprimand...and then I read the last two paragraphs. To paraphrase you, "I wouldn't have blamed the (SEALS) had they beat that guy to death."
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
JUST OPENED THIS E-MAIL FROM MY FRIEND WHO WORKS AT OUR EMBASSY IN LONDON...Pls. excuse caps but wow, when you receive news like this, from a close friend who has worked in "third-world" countries and worried very little about venturing out and about...

Excerpt from her e-mail...

Now I'm worried about my kids' trip to London. They leave Nashville to Chicago on Sunday after hearing about the attempted terrorist bombing of the Delta flight to Detroit. I'm watching BBC now and they are showing the press outside the basement flat of the perpetrator. It's about 2 blocks from my flat. BBC is saying it's odd that this young man could afford a flat in this area, because they rent for about $7000/month. He was a mechanical engineering student at University College London. Scary stuff.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918

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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.

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