Extreme events of 2011: climate change a major factor in some, but not all

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:54 PM GMT on July 11, 2012

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The science of quantifying how climate change changes the odds of extreme weather events like droughts and floods took a major step forward Tuesday with the publication of NOAA's annual summary of the past year's weather. The 2011 State of the Climate report contains a separate peer-reviewed article published in the July issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society titled, Explaining Extreme Events of 2011 From a Climate Perspective. In the paper, a group of scientists led by Peter Stott of the Met Office Centre in the United Kingdom looked at how climate change may have changed the odds of occurrence of some of 2011's notable weather extremes. These kinds of attribution studies require huge amounts of computer time and take many months to do, but the scientists plan to start making this a regular part of the annual NOAA State of the Climate report. Some of their findings for 2011:

- Determining the causes of extreme events remains difficult. While scientists cannot trace specific events to climate change with absolute certainty, new and continued research help scientists understand how the probability of extreme events change in response to global warming.

- La Niña-related heat waves, like that experienced in Texas in 2011, are now 20 times more likely to occur during La Niña years today than La Niña years fifty years ago.

- The UK experienced a very warm November 2011 and a very cold December 2010. In analyzing these two very different events, UK scientists uncovered interesting changes in the odds. Cold Decembers are now half as likely to occur now versus fifty years ago, whereas warm Novembers are now 62 times more likely.

- The devastating 2011 floods in Thailand caused an estimated $45 billion in damage, making it the world's most expensive river flooding disaster in history. The study found, however, that the amount of rain that fell in the catchment area was not very unusual, and that other factors such as human-caused changes to the flood plain and the movement of more people into flood-prone areas were more important in causing the disaster. "Climate change cannot be shown to have played any role in this event," the study concluded, but warned that climate models predict an increase in the probability of extreme precipitation events in the future in the region.

- The deadly drought in East Africa, which killed tens of thousands of people in 2011, was made more likely by warming waters in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific. While the scientists did not specifically tie the warming of these waters to human-caused global warming, they noted that climate models predict continued warming of these waters in the coming decades, and this will likely "contribute to more frequent East African droughts during the spring and summer."


Figure 1. An SH-60F Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 14, flies around the Bangkok area with members of the humanitarian assessment survey team and the Royal Thai Armed Forces to assess the damage caused by the 2011 floods. Image credit: Petty Officer 1st Class Jennifer Villalovos.

Weather on steroids
One interesting aspect of the paper was the scientists' use of the baseball player-steroids analogy to help explain how climate change can increase the odds of extreme weather: "One analogy of the effects of climate change on extreme weather is with a baseball player (or to choose another sport, a cricketer) who starts taking steroids and afterwards hits on average 20% more home runs (or sixes) in a season than he did before (Meehl 2012). For any one of his home runs (sixes) during the years the player was taking steroids, you would not know for sure whether it was caused by steroids or not. But you might be able to attribute his increased number to the steroids. And given that steroids have resulted in a 20% increased chance that any particular swing of the player’s bat results in a home run (or a six), you would be able to make an attribution statement that, all other things being equal, steroid use had increased the probability of that particular occurrence by 20%. The job of the attribution assessment is to distinguish the effects of anthropogenic climate change or some other external factor (steroids in the sporting analogy) from natural variability (e.g., in the baseball analogy, the player’s natural ability to hit home runs or the configuration of a particular stadium)."



Video 1. National Center for Atmospheric Research scientist Dr. Jerry Meehl explains how climate change's impact on extreme weather is like how steroids affect a baseball player.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting schwankmoe:


neither will bending over the line and deliberately kissing the ring of rank ignorance. there's no use in trying to change the minds of people that have an irrational knee-jerk disbelief in the most basic way the universe works. as i said, all that does is waste time.

look, you're not teaching me the rules of debating. there is no debate here when it comes to people who refuse to believe the basic rules of the physical world. people don't get to bring utter bullheaded ignorance to the table and demand to be treated as equals, to say 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge'. giving the deliberately ignorant a seat at the table just gives them the idea that they deserve to be there. they don't.



Then question then becomes, WHO are the truly ignorant people? If you are steadfast in your opinion and are bullheaded about it, and so is the other person, and both have facts on their respective side giving credence to their own position, then both would be considered ignorant by not listening with an open mind to each other.
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Quoting StormTracker2K:
Tampa Bay are is getting pounded right now.

..this is bad, i have a river flowing down my street gee i dont want to hear them say oh..we got a half inch of rain..its simply pouring rain, the kind that floods people and the wind..and the heavy booming..hahaha..oh how i love it
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579. yoboi
Quoting schwankmoe:


neither will bending over the line and deliberately kissing the ring of rank ignorance. there's no use in trying to change the minds of people that have an irrational knee-jerk disbelief in the most basic way the universe works. as i said, all that does is waste time.

look, you're not teaching me the rules of debating. there is no debate here when it comes to people who refuse to believe the basic rules of the physical world. people don't get to bring utter bullheaded ignorance to the table and demand to be treated as equals, to say 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge'. giving the deliberately ignorant a seat at the table just gives them the idea that they deserve to be there. they don't.


but if ya look at all scientific polls your way of thinking is the minority concerning climate change and if you really desire change you will first have to understand there thinking so ya can use that to your advantage with teaching them to maybe be on your side of the debate, ya can't just stand there with the big ole whip and swing it at people who don't share your views, be creative counter flank tactics and understanding the big picture will lead to change.
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Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7928
Tampa Bay are is getting pounded right now.

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Quoting Bluestorm5:


You think Emilia can get any stronger or we're looking at the peak strength of Emilia?

This is Emilia's secondary peak. It will be a slow decline from here. And since it's annular, I do mean SLOW.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31502
Quoting SteveDa1:
Resolute, Nunvaut in the far Canadian north at 74N latitude surpassed 20C(68F) on the 2nd day of July for the first time ever since record-keeping began up there in 1947. The thermometer peaked at 20.1C.

The temperature has been much above normal (from 5C to as much as 15C) for the last 2 weeks and is forecast to stay that way for the next week at least...
I am thinking there is a reasonable chance we could see open water at the North Pole near the end of this melt season. A Fram Strait flush could set it up.
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Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:


No thank you.

That circulation over Florida about 60 miles ESE of Naples is very interesting. Anyone been tracking it ? Which way is it going? If it got over water it would be even more interesting!


its over land due south of lake okeechobee.

It will not develop
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Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:


No thank you.

That circulation over Florida about 60 miles ESE of Naples is very interesting. Anyone been tracking it ? Which way is it going? If it got over water it would be even more interesting!


I think WNW maybe NW.
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Quoting schwankmoe:


neither will bending over the line and deliberately kissing the ring of rank ignorance. there's no use in trying to change the minds of people that have an irrational knee-jerk disbelief in the most basic way the universe works. as i said, all that does is waste time.

look, you're not teaching me the rules of debating. there is no debate here when it comes to people who refuse to believe the basic rules of the physical world. people don't get to bring utter bullheaded ignorance to the table and demand to be treated as equals, to say 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge'. giving the deliberately ignorant a seat at the table just gives them the idea that they deserve to be there. they don't.


Harsh, but true....
Member Since: February 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1344
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Cloud tops are generally warming around the eye for now.





You think Emilia can get any stronger or we're looking at the peak strength of Emilia?
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This spin is in the mid levels but it is interesting to watch especially later this evening and into tonight when thunderstorms will likely fire over this feature. This is exactly how Claudette formed in 2009.

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Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7928
Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


In the absolute literal sense, your statement is correct. When one evaluates how well life, as we know it, fairs on this planet then we do see a great destruction. Not a destruction of the planet itself, but in the diversity of life itself on this planet. Perhaps even enough of a change to end all but the microbial life on Earth. Yes, this planet will still be here, but perhaps only as a place holder in our solar system.


The planet will not be destroyed literally, but figuratively. Humankind is just one of the "figures" that will be greatly challenged to survive on a warmer planet that will no longer support the current biodiversity of ecological populations.

Perhaps, if the focus shifts to saving humans, instead of the planet, maybe then we can muster some real sustainable change? Unfortunately, I think it will take another disaster, and panic of epic proportions for any real change to occur in the direction of ecological sustainability.

I also agree with Neapolitan via CarolinaHurricanes87(post 281). The eco-political powers that be, i.e the 1% or the global corporate oligarchy, will only be moved to change the status quo if some great global die-off begins to happen, and starts to affect billion dollars of profits. Is the mainstream media talking about the cesium levels in fish we eat from the Pacific Ocean as a result of the Fukushima nuclear disaster? No, it will affect profits.

If we think cyclical rather than linear, there is precedence for socio-economic change occurring as a result of both cataclysms and revolutions. The Black Death changed the feudal system of the Middle Ages, and American founding fathers created the constitutional democracy.

We don't have to wait for the planet to start the process, we the people can effect such change of the status quo. But who has the time, or even the sense of any realistic inevitability? If 2013 comes and no apocalyptic cataclysm has come to pass, then this apathy could entrench us even further.
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127592
Quoting LargoFl:
..sure is strange like it wants to build into something
It sure does! Hope all is good down there in Tampa area today!
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Dennis? you getting in this action yet?



I just hope all that rain in Texas gets to where its needed most i.e. Central/West Texas?
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5133
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127592
Quoting Bluestorm5:
I don't think I've seen the radar doing this before... the rain north of Raleigh is moving west, while the rain south of Raleigh is moving east. Strange looking radar today, eh?

..sure is strange like it wants to build into something
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Quoting yoboi:



join the debate ya have good ideas maybe ya can help someone, talking and debating is a good thing....


No thank you.

That circulation over Florida about 60 miles ESE of Naples is very interesting. Anyone been tracking it ? Which way is it going? If it got over water it would be even more interesting!
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5133
Cloud tops are generally warming around the eye for now.



Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31502
I don't think I've seen the radar doing this before... the rain north of Raleigh is moving west, while the rain south of Raleigh is moving east. Strange looking radar today, eh?

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Quoting yoboi:


i am just teaching ya basic debating skills, if you really desire change to your way of thinking and i am not saying you are right or wrong, you need to understand the other side of view so you can use that to your advantage and with a clean debate you might get them to agree with your way of thinking. the tactic of drawing a line in the sand and picking what side is what will not lead to change.


neither will bending over the line and deliberately kissing the ring of rank ignorance. there's no use in trying to change the minds of people that have an irrational knee-jerk disbelief in the most basic way the universe works. as i said, all that does is waste time.

look, you're not teaching me the rules of debating. there is no debate here when it comes to people who refuse to believe the basic rules of the physical world. people don't get to bring utter bullheaded ignorance to the table and demand to be treated as equals, to say 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge'. giving the deliberately ignorant a seat at the table just gives them the idea that they deserve to be there. they don't.
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Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4393
Quoting StormTracker2K:


The key is will this refire tonight and move off the SW FL coast. If it does then this will probably develope. The rain here today has been almost like banding features that you would get in a tropical system. Very squally at times.



no development either way
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Hasn't rained all day in my area since before sunrise. Nuttin, only got 0.15"
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Honestly, there's way too much politics on here today... but since it involves climate changes, I'll have to ignore it. Anyway, many areas in the South is getting much needed rain today :)



Research Triangle had gotten lot of rain today.
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Quoting wxmod:


If I was making a beer, I would expect yeast to make alcohol. I would expect that yeast to eat all the sugar I fed it until the the yeast made so much alcohol that it couldn't eat any sugar anymore. People are yeast. Oil is our sugar. Polluting ourselves to death is our destiny, unless we think our way out of it. People who don't want to think are not helpful.


What does your comment have to do with climate science? Making beer is both art and science. The fermentation part of the process is very well understood and no alternate scientific explanations for the mechanism of fermentation is postulated. This suggests that the probability for this mechanism is extremely high - but not absolutely certain (even though every bit of evidence points, not proves, to the mechanism.)

One needs to get emotion out of these discussions and talk science and not extrapolate one piece, or many pieces, of data to a conclusion. There is after all the scientific method.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


The key is will this refire tonight and move off the SW FL coast. If it does then this will probably develope. The rain here today has been almost like banding features that you would get in a tropical system. Very squally at times.
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Dennis? you getting in this action yet?

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...................pouring rain and booming now, winds picking up and the sky is so dark, and this is a slow mover
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98E may be bigger than Emilia.

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25371
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


WOW!!!!!!!!!
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5133
547. yoboi
Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:


I behaved myself totally. I was going to open my yapper but overcame the urge and instead will stay on the subject I come here for: TROPICAL WEATHER!



join the debate ya have good ideas maybe ya can help someone, talking and debating is a good thing....
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Emilia doesn't look half bad........
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SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAMPA BAY AREA - RUSKIN FL
337 PM EDT WED JUL 11 2012

FLC057-101-103-112015-
/O.CON.KTBW.SV.W.0039.000000T0000Z-120711T2015Z/
HILLSBOROUGH FL-PINELLAS FL-PASCO FL-
337 PM EDT WED JUL 11 2012

...A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 415 PM EDT
FOR SOUTHWESTERN PASCO...PINELLAS AND WESTERN HILLSBOROUGH
COUNTIES...

AT 336 PM EDT...DOPPLER RADAR CONTINUED TO INDICATE A LINE OF SEVERE
THUNDERSTORMS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING QUARTER SIZE HAIL...AND DAMAGING
WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60 MPH. THESE STORMS WERE LOCATED ALONG A LINE
EXTENDING FROM NEW PORT RICHEY TO 6 MILES SOUTHEAST OF DOWNTOWN
SAINT PETERSBURG...MOVING NORTHWEST AT 10 MPH.

SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WILL AFFECT PORTIONS OF...
SNELL ISLE.
VINOY PARK.
BAYONET POINT.
JASMINE ESTATES.
OLDSMAR.
HUDSON.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

IN ADDITION TO LARGE HAIL AND DAMAGING WINDS...CONTINUOUS LIGHTNING
IS OCCURRING WITH THIS STORM. MOVE INDOORS IMMEDIATELY. LIGHTNING IS
ONE OF NATURES NUMBER ONE KILLERS. REMEMBER...IF YOU CAN HEAR
THUNDER...YOU ARE CLOSE ENOUGH TO BE STRUCK BY LIGHTNING.

&&

LAT...LON 2822 8286 2819 8283 2838 8271 2833 8242
2766 8238 2765 8238 2766 8255 2789 8241
2792 8248 2782 8246 2783 8252 2796 8256
2799 8267 2782 8258 2758 8277 2813 8279
2821 8286
TIME...MOT...LOC 1936Z 135DEG 8KT 2830 8266 2769 8261

$$
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


staying out of N GA
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Quoting Skyepony:
How's those 15" rain storm totals treating y'all in TX?.


I'm not in it, so I can't tell ya
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.........................not so sunny florida this afternoon huh
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Good afternoon... Very nice structure on Emilia right now...



Is she going Annular?
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5133
540. yoboi
Quoting BobWallace:


No, consensus among scientists counts. If the vast majority of scientists in a field of study have examined all the data and agree that A is causing B then that's important.

If a significant number aren't convinced by the available data that is also important.

Science questions are not answered by a democratic vote, by consensus if you will, but when you've got almost all people working in a field in agreement it would be best to pay attention.

Scientists do not get to pick and choose the data they like. If they start doing that then they quickly cease to become scientists. It's a good way to lose your license to practice.

Pull a trick such as trying to make a statement based on cherry-picked data and you'll likely find that you can't get your paper published in a good quality journal. When other scientists get a chance to read your draft they will recommend not publishing and back up their recommendation with the data you omitted.

"Have all alternate explanations been shown to not be responsible in part or in total?"

Yes. Scientists have looked at every know reason for previous climate changes (Earth orbit, solar output, rise of mountain ranges, continental movement, meteorite strikes, volcanic eruptions, etc.) and none can be shown to be causing this round of heating.

"Are all alternate explanations even known?"

Possibly not. That's the "unknown unknown" problem. It could be that there is something other than human-produced greenhouse gases and soot causing the warming. Find that cause and you'll be famous.

(Here's a head start - you're looking for something very, very strong. And you'll have to show why it is not the greenhouse gases, something supported by available data.)






what have we released to all the fracking??? and oil exploration is like area 51 we don't know half the stuff they are doing...heating up the core makes for easy oil production...does heat rise or fall???
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
538. Skyepony (Mod)
How's those 15" rain storm totals treating y'all in TX?.
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Quoting VINNY04:
Is it not working for you GeorgiaStormz? i guess i was the only one who behaved myself.


I behaved myself totally. I was going to open my yapper but overcame the urge and instead will stay on the subject I come here for: TROPICAL WEATHER!
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5133
Quoting wxchaser97:
I can only imagine what it is to have storms almost everyday. Seems like the summertime pattern is back. Last week today I had 2 damaging t-storms go through my city so I get what is going on now.
yes the rainy season is here
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Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3468
Quoting wxmod:


If I was making a beer, I would expect yeast to make alcohol. I would expect that yeast to eat all the sugar I fed it until the the yeast made so much alcohol that it couldn't eat any sugar anymore. People are yeast. Oil is our sugar. Polluting ourselves to death is our destiny, unless we think our way out of it. People who don't want to think are not helpful.


Wiping ourselves out via epidemic diseases spread through human waste was our destiny.

Then we got busy and built sewage systems.
Member Since: February 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1344
Quoting LargoFl:
..was down by clearwater beach this morning lots of people were there, beautiful morning here..now..its boom time for sure,sky is getting so dark and the boomers geez
I can only imagine what it is to have storms almost everyday. Seems like the summertime pattern is back. Last week today I had 2 damaging t-storms go through my city so I get what is going on now.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7928
Quoting lahcuts:
A few comments on the discussion of climate change:

Consensus in science does not prove anything. Only hard, accurate data counts. The fact that some percentage of the scientists agree (or disagree) is not an argument for or against anything. It is even less of an argument relative to the general population. On what scientific basis does the public make a scientific conclusion? Consensus of a jury has lead to hundreds of wrongful convictions for capital murder. Then there is Galileo.

The climate may be changing but who has seen the data to show man, via carbon dioxide release, is singularly responsible. Circumstantial evidence, piecemeal, on a relatively local basis may or may not point to anything. One does not get to pick and choose the data which supports their view. How is the original data statistically treated to form a database that is used in analyses? After a multitude of correction factors are applied, what does the corrected data mean?

Have all alternate explanations been shown to not be responsible in part or in total? Are all alternate explanations even known? Changing ocean currents seem to be in vogue lately. Why are they changing, fundamentally, root cause?

Laboratory simulation experiments and their results, pro and con, seem to be absent from discussions.

Just a few thoughts.


No, consensus among scientists counts. If the vast majority of scientists in a field of study have examined all the data and agree that A is causing B then that's important.

If a significant number aren't convinced by the available data that is also important.

Science questions are not answered by a democratic vote, by consensus if you will, but when you've got almost all people working in a field in agreement it would be best to pay attention.

Scientists do not get to pick and choose the data they like. If they start doing that then they quickly cease to become scientists. It's a good way to lose your license to practice.

Pull a trick such as trying to make a statement based on cherry-picked data and you'll likely find that you can't get your paper published in a good quality journal. When other scientists get a chance to read your draft they will recommend not publishing and back up their recommendation with the data you omitted.

"Have all alternate explanations been shown to not be responsible in part or in total?"

Yes. Scientists have looked at every know reason for previous climate changes (Earth orbit, solar output, rise of mountain ranges, continental movement, meteorite strikes, volcanic eruptions, etc.) and none can be shown to be causing this round of heating.

"Are all alternate explanations even known?"

Possibly not. That's the "unknown unknown" problem. It could be that there is something other than human-produced greenhouse gases and soot causing the warming. Find that cause and you'll be famous.

(Here's a head start - you're looking for something very, very strong. And you'll have to show why it is not the greenhouse gases, something supported by available data.)



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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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