Something New in the Past Decade? Organizing U.S. Climate Modeling (1)

By: Dr. Ricky Rood , 5:05 AM GMT on February 05, 2011

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Something New in the Past Decade? Organizing U.S. Climate Modeling (1)

Next week in Washington a panel is convening to write about “A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling.” (link) I am a member of this panel, and I have been asked to review an older report on which I was a lead author. The report was published in 2000, and it is still available on line at the USGCRP website. (U.S. Global Change Research Program)

When my co-authors and I wrote this report, we presented the results to several panels of distinguished people. Over the years, people have continued to send comments to me about the report. I contend that this report was different from a lot of other reports. I think it is safe to say that the authors of the report were chosen because of a willingness to look beyond their home agencies. Also we included as an author a sociologist who is expert in organizations and how to make organizations function.

The report was motivated by what I might call discontent by some of those responsible for oversight of Federal climate expenditures. There was in the late 1990s a (highly politicized) national assessment of climate change. Much of the information for model predictions came from Canadian and British models. This occurred despite the fact that not only were their several U.S. modeling efforts, but the U.S. spent (far) more money on modeling than these other countries. A natural question, what was wrong with the U.S. efforts?

In the report, we concluded some things that some of our colleagues considered radical. We focused much of our discussion on issues of management of scientific programs and organizations, and concluded that the culture and practice of science in the U.S. was, fundamentally, fragmenting. We even went as far as to state that “Without addressing these management issues, providing additional funds to the existing programs will not be effective in the development of the Climate Service." (Not sure that statement helped my career and reminding people of that might take me right through retirement.)

For my presentation next week, I need to return to the report and perhaps think about what is different in the past 10 years.

In the spirit of being conversational – there was press coverage of the report at the time, and most of that press coverage was in publications that focused on computing and supercomputing. We authors quickly regretted this emphasis on computing, and the document being cast as a “computing report.” True we did say that U.S. policy on supercomputing and our ability or inability to import supercomputers impacted, negatively, the competitiveness of U.S. climate and weather modeling. But we did not feel that our primary message was about computing.

Our primary message was meant to be about fragmentation and distribution of resources that could be brought together to address integrated problems such as climate assessments. The U.S. scientific culture values highly innovative, curiosity driven research. This is often best achieved through the efforts of individual scientists and small groups. This individuality is exciting, and it is how scientists get promoted. It develops a culture of expertise. Our point in the document was that there needed to be another path of scientific practice, one that valued the integration of all of the pieces and the production of validated, science-based products. We called this “product-driven” research. We could have as easily called it applied research.

So the question comes forward, how do we value product-driven research? It’s hard. In the U.S. we have this idea that if we generate products from our research, then that is in some way damaging to innovation and the generation of the “best science.” The “science” gets compromised. The word “operational” is invoked, and there is a prejudice that operational systems, ones that produce products on a schedule, must be less than they can and should be scientifically. Hence, anytime there is a push towards product-driven research, there is both individual and institutional resistance that rises to defeat the push. This makes sense, because it is asking people to change, and it is asking them to do something for which they cite plenty of evidence that it will assure less successful careers.

We have institutions where people are expected to work on community models but, at least historically, their performance plans make no mention of community activities. I have worked on documents for U.S. agencies as recently as 2010 where I tried to write that we were building climate models that could be used in energy planning, policy decisions, and by society to anticipate and plan for climate change. This, however, was deemed as contrary to the true agency mission of fundamental research for the benefit of the nation. People are hired to do multi-disciplinary research, but they are promoted or given tenure for their individual accomplishments in specific disciplines. Individuals are recognized for novel breakthroughs, programs are recognized for funding novel breakthroughs, and agencies are recognized for having programs that fund novel breakthroughs.

So in the final presentations we made of the 2000 Report we drew pictures like the one below. We put in arrows and money signs and suggested lines of management, and argued that there needed to be internalized incentive structures. (For those with energy, the article continues below the figure!)



Figure 1. An organization designed to deliver product-driven research (maybe what we should do).

What I have stated above is that the fragmented way we approach the practice of science is valued because it encourages innovation and fundamental discovery. One the other hand, it stands in way of the cross-disciplinary unifying branch of science. As climate scientists we have a need to perform assessments, and assessments are, by definition, cross-disciplinary unifying science. Therefore, to align our assets and efforts to perform assessments comes into basic conflict with not only our fragmented scientists and science organizations, but with the underlying culture of our practice of science.

The fragmentation extends beyond the practice of research. There are separate organizations responsible for high-performance computing, and they have their needs to demonstrate breakthroughs. Such a goal might be the greatest number of calculations in a second. Goals like that are achieved with special problems and computer codes, not with messy real problems like weather prediction and climate modeling. Computers are often provided for a set of grand challenge problems. Another point in the report was that the climate models and computational platforms needed to co-evolve; they needed to be managed together.

And if computers and models need to co-evolve, then there needs to be balanced development of software and data systems and analysis capabilities. In fact, in the 2000 report, we identified the greatest deficiency in federal investment being in software infrastructure. Since 2000, there has been significant development of software and data systems and analysis capabilities.

Perhaps then, there is some impact from the report, with more balance in the funding of all of the pieces that are needed in a robust climate program. The expenditures, however, are still fragmented, and the developments have a tendency to be independent. Even given the recognition that these expenditures are essential for a robust climate program, there is always a fight to maintain the expenditures as they are viewed to take away resources from “the science,” from research, from discovery. The program managers and software engineers and the data system professionals have to compete with the high profile breakthroughs of research and high-performance computing.

I paint here a fundamental characteristic of our practice of science. It is deeply ingrained, and in many ways, it is highly successful. Therefore, approaches to provide assessments, to address cross-disciplinary unifying science, to develop climate services – these approaches need to build from this practice and from these successes. This is a challenge to agencies who like to think in terms of re-organizations, institutions, and programmatic collocation of needed assets. Reorganization does not address the basic fact that the underlying structure is fundamentally fragmenting, that there is perceived value in that fragmentation, and that there is investment in that fragmentation.

In the 2000 report we described the type of organization that we thought was needed to address the issues of climate modeling, high-performance computing, and climate services. Today, I would nuance or refine that recommendation, based on emergence of community-based approaches to complex problem solving. A new type of organization is needed, one with stable, balanced, coordinated, product-focused investments in all of the elements necessary for science-based climate products. Essential in this organization is giving value to those who perform cross-disciplinary unifying scientific research to address complex problems. This is not reorganization or restructuring; this is not merging agencies and programs; this is focused, mindful development of a capability to achieve a specific, needed goal.

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Quoting JFLORIDA:
We are entering an era of food volatility and disruptions in supplies. This is a very serious business for the world. We think that we are in an era where we have to be very serious about food supply.
That we can agree about...just not for 0.2% of farmland flooded, or whatever.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
So, you read nothing that Skye wrote in your blog...

Flooding in those places affected such a tiny part of the farmland. Show us a satellite pic of more than half of farmland underwater. 15% ? 5% ? Didn't think so.
Besides the fact that flooding is GREAT for farmland. Farmland that floods every year is the most productive and long-term sustainable kind.
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Quoting JohnTucker:
Sky spoke of corn ethanol. This isnt about that. Back to the account where I cant see the absurdity.
Read it again.

Quoting Skyepony:
Ethanol is not the answer. Death rates & asthma attacks from air pollution are higher with an ethanol blend than gas alone.

Ethanol is corrosive to motors. Ask your mechanic.

The corn used is a genetically modified corn so it can live through being sprayed by round up.. it is. Monsanto profits.

It's fertilized with fossil fuel based fertilizers. This is slowly using up the top soil, farming unsustainably (& using the resources this is suppose to be saving).

The fertilizer run off adds to the dead zone in the GOM.

Using other plants like switchgrass for ethanol like in South America is much more energy productive with less pollution..

A vicious market set up has occurred through subsidies..1st corn can't make it to ethanol without tax payers giving (something like 5 billion this last year).. The cost of oil & corn have become linked..If oil by the barrel is too cheap ethanol loses it's better subsidies. Run oil up & that puts ethanol in higher demand. This drives corn prices up for cattle feed (meat & milk) & with the higher cost of fuel.. to ship that food costs even more. High corn prices also mean less soybean, wheat cotton & etc being planted, affecting their prices, lowering our exports. Adding to the food cost instabilities of the world. It's estimated that if oil was $120 a barrel at the current oil/ethanol subsidies scheme 51% of US farmland would be growing corn for ethanol. Imagine how expensive food would be then.



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Quoting JohnTucker:


So corn is wheat and vegetables too. Yea there you go genus.

Yes they are lying and destroying their own crops and starving their people so they can get a lower price and less return on biofules. Makes perfect sense.

How predictably ridiculous can you become in your denial.
?
Increased demand for corn, more corn and less soybeans and wheat, higher costs for livestock feed, higher overall food costs.

No idea where you got those notions you typed, but it wasn't from what I typed, JF2.

(From the very same guy that I see issuing considerable derision to others that have more than one handle. I couldn't live with myself if I were that hypocritical.)
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Show us a satellite pic of more than half of farmland underwater. 15% ? 5% ? Didn't think so.


Quoting JFLORIDA:
"Proof"




Where?
Member Since: September 15, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 563
Quoting JFLORIDA:
No actually it doenst - as farms follow profit. There was surplus production. But Ive seen that floated in the right wing press as the cause. Besides wheat isn't really a biofuel.

Flooding in Pakistan, Drought/heatwave in Russia, Flooding and drought in Asia, Flooding in Africa. all have contributed to this mess.

We are seeing the real first large scale consequences of ignoring climatic instability unfold right in front of us firsthand. The rice crop and the Chinese wheat crop is next and already its looking dismal.
So, you read nothing that Skye wrote in your blog...

Flooding in those places affected such a tiny part of the farmland. Show us a satellite pic of more than half of farmland underwater. 15% ? 5% ? Didn't think so.
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No proof.
Member Since: September 15, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 563
Quoting JFLORIDA:
The problem is that while efficiency has increased on a large scale - large scale centralized food production is more susceptible to extreme events. The current Mideast crisis can be traced directly to food prices. Food prices that have increased due to a string of extreme weather and climate events in 2010 across Australia, Africa, Europe and Asia.

Its not that it cant happen, it did happen and the result is right in front of us now. Undeniable.

Its continuing too.
Has nothing at all to do with this?
Corn

How could anyone confuse "extreme weather events" that affect some number of square miles totaling 2% of a continent's farmland, or whatever, with part of an entire global market being shifted to fuel, rather than food?

(No, I don't care for the OPEC cartel nor the taste of MTBE any more than the next guy...just sayin.)
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Quoting cyclonebuster:
Ricky,
What would happen to Earths climate if we held SST's in the Gulfstream with an area of 30,000 square miles a constant 70 degrees for one year? The area in this example would be 30 miles wide by 1000 miles long and four hundred feet deep.


Why do you want to control the Earth's weather? Sounds like a bad movie to me.
Member Since: September 15, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 563
Ricky,
What would happen to Earths climate if we held SST's in the Gulfstream with an area of 30,000 square miles a constant 70 degrees for one year? The area in this example would be 30 miles wide by 1000 miles long and four hundred feet deep.
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20474
Quoting JFLORIDA:
Statement By WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran On The Role Of Food In Civil Unrest Across The Middle East

This upward pressure adds further stress to the carefully calibrated systems in place to bring enough food into countries to feed hungry populations, and provide the subsidies that ensure it is sold at prices that are accessible to the poor and the vulnerable.

We are entering an era of food volatility and disruptions in supplies. This is a very serious business for the world. We think that we are in an era where we have to be very serious about food supply.


Florida, assuming that the world is actually warming, do you actually believe the world would be less or more productive with regard to food production?
Do you actually believe that the world's food production is less or more stable today than say 50 years ago. That is, are there more or less famines today than before?
Last of all, do you consider the above questions stupid since the answers are so obvious?
Member Since: July 29, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 970
Another Article

Not that the number of signers should be all that relevant, I do wonder why there were only 18 signers of the open letter to Congress that is referenced in this article.Given the "consensus", I would have expected thousands to sign the letter to Congress.

Member Since: July 29, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 970
Here is an interesting article. Note when it was written and think about what seems to be happening these days.


Article
Member Since: July 29, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 970
I find it funny the alarmists won't touch that article that has been posted once and quoted twice.
Member Since: September 15, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 563
Quoting JFLORIDA:
Some one was talking to me about that and I dont know. I wonder what will happen when we kick into el nino.


Report: Oceans gobbling up more carbon dioxide
CARBON DIOXIDE
March 29, 2001

The amount of carbon consumed by land plants and ocean algae rose from 111 billion metric tons during the peak of the El Nino season in 1997-1998 to 117 billion metric tons during the strong La Nina that followed


Just as the oceans are a huge heat sink they are also a sponge for Co2!
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20474
OUCH! Have we already peaked?

Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20474
Quoting martinitony:


You can be such a hypocrite. You blast anyone who posts material not based on pure climate science. Then you post the rantings of a socialist economist as though they should have some special weight here. They don't and neither do your posts.


Now, Now, He is using the right think method.
If he thinks, it must be right.

Link

Looks the sun is getting very quiet, in Stereo!



PRESTO FROM SIDC - RWC BELGIUM Sun Feb 6 2011, 1242 UT

All new active regions on the Sun are small and declining. The current very low solar activity should thus extend over the coming days. The solar wind speed is slowly decreasing and now approaching 500km/s. This should keep the geomagnetic activity at unsettled levels on Feb.6. On Feb.7, the activity will decay to quiet to unsettled levels. However, on Feb.8, a fast stream coming from a small coronal hole now transiting the solar central meridian may slightly raise again the geomagnetic activity to unsettled levels.
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Quoting martinitony:
Big Snow Storms are Weather, Not Climate
By Art Horn, Meteorologist
Recently sometimes liberal, sometimes conservative Bill O’Reilly posed this question, “Why has southern New York turned into the Tundra?” Of course Bill was being funny when he asked that. Tundra is located in the Arctic, mountainous areas and Antarctica. It has very few trees, in many areas none and under its surface there is permafrost, the ground a few inches down is permanently frozen. Actually the Tundra has very little snowfall and is really a cold desert in many parts of the world with 6 inches or less of annual precipitation. So if you think the Tundra is covered in 10 feet of snow you would be wrong.
Self proclaimed climate expert Al Gore responded to Bills question saying “In fact, scientists have been warning for at least two decades that global warming could make snowstorms more severe.” He went on to say “A rise in global temperature can cause all kinds of havoc ranging from hotter dry spells to colder winters, along with increasingly violent storms, flooding, forest fires (from global warming?) and loss of endangered species.”
Funny how Gore never mentioned that global warming would cause more severe snow storms or colder winters in his 2006 move “An Inconvenient Truth.” Not once in the movie was there any indication that global warming would cause anything other than higher temperatures, melting ice, shorter and less cold winters and less snowfall. His answer to Bill is clearly an attempt to cover his tracks.
Are snowstorms really getting more severe? No. History is replete with massive snowstorms decades and centuries ago. Chicago’s biggest snowstorm was from January 26th to the 27th 1967 with 23.0 inches, not the most recent storm. The Blizzard of March 11th to the 14th 1888 dumped an incredible 50 inches of snow on Connecticut! Can you imagine what the media would say if that happened today? In the late winter of 1717 a series of 4 storms from late February to early march buried parts of New England in 10 to 15 feet of snow! And you thought 3 feet was something unusual.
There is a fundamental problem with Al Gore and others who believe that global warming is causing bigger snow storms and every other severe weather event around the world. That problem is that they have no appreciation for the massive natural variability of everyday weather. They are confusing weather with climate. Weather is what we wake up to and deal with every day. But weather also operates on weekly, monthly and yearly time scales. If we had a hot summer last year that was not climate, it was weather. If we had a big snowstorm a few weeks ago that was weather, not climate. If December was record cold that was weather, not climate. A hurricane that struck 5 years ago was not climate, it was weather. Oh and by the way Al, a forest fire is not cause by global warming. Also, the earth’s interior does not have a temperature of several million degrees as he said on late night TV last year.
Climate is the average of the weather over a longer, rather arbitrary time period. Typically climatologists like to use 30 year time periods to take an average of the weather and then call it climate. Climate trends can be inferred from shorter time periods like 15 to 20 years but the standard is 30 years.
The average temperature of the earth, as inferred from our 160 thermometer measurements has increased about 1 degree Fahrenheit since those readings began. Historically this is not a big number, not even close. Data from ice cores in Greenland show us that over the last 10,000 years temperature has varied by 6 degrees Fahrenheit, far more than the rise of the last 160 years. In fact the average monthly global temperature of the earth can vary by 1 degree or more in just one year! This means that in just one year we can experience all of the average global warming that has taken 160 years to accumulate. What does that mean? It tells us that from day to day, week to week and year to year the variability of THE WEATHER can be massive and have nothing to do with the long term climate trend. If a baseball player hits 500 for the week with 7 home runs and knocks in 20 runs does that mean he will be in the hall of fame at the end of his career? Of course not, it’s his long term performance (his baseball climate history) that will determine that. In the same light big snow storms or floods or heat waves or any other extreme weather event is not an indication of what the long term climate is doing or will do, it’s just weather.
The Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia has temperature records dating back to 1850. Although the data is somewhat tainted due to very questionable “adjustments” that have been made, we can still roust out details of the large month to month and year to year temperature variability. One of the most striking examples of just how much the monthly average temperature can change in a short time was in the middle 1940s. From early 1945 to late 1946 the earth’s average monthly temperature fell 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit. That is one and a half times the total “global warming” of the last 160 years in a one year period! More recently the satellite derived temperature data showed a remarkable rise from of 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit from May of 1997 to March of 1998. In a little less than one year the temperature variation dwarfed all the average global warming of the last 160 years. This dramatic temperature rise was due to a dominant El Nino in the Pacific Ocean. The very warm water along equator warmed the entire planet just as El Nino’s always do to one degree or another. The warmth from the El Nino peaked in spring of 1998 and a La Nina developed, cooling the waters. In response to this cooler water the earth’s temperature plunged 1.8 degrees from May of 1998 to February of 2000, a drop nearly double all the average temperature rise in the last 160 years in a little less than two years!
Recently NOAA declared that 2010 tied 2005 as the warmest year on record. “On record” is the period of time the earth’s temperature has been measured with thermometers, since 1880 for NOAA. The attempt was to make this sound like global warming had something to do with it since NOAA is firmly in he camp of global warming alarmists. But look at what’s happened to the average global temperature since last April. In the 9 months since then the temperature has crashed 1 degree as of the end of January 2011. In just 9 months we wiped out all the global warming of the last 160 years! No, of course that’s not true at
all. And that’s my point. The big drop since April is the weather. The rise of the last 160 years is climate.
So what does that all have to do with Al Gore and climate alarmists and global warming making cold weather and snowstorms? What is says is that the year to year and even month to month variability of weather is so large that it can be double the average temperature rise of the last 160 years. It tells us that we could have the same weather experienced in March of 1888 today, tomorrow or next month or next year. Last winter Washington DC had 55.9 inches of snow. That total broke the record of 54.4 inches set in the winter of 1898/99, a record that stood for 111 winters. Many said hurricane Katrina was the worst hurricane in United States history but the Galveston hurricane of September 1900 killed 8,000 people. In England the winter of 1249 was a remarkable example of just how extreme the weather can be, 762 years ago. “Last winter there was so pleasant, sweet and warm that people fancied the season was changed. There was no snow or frost the whole winter. Folks threw off their cloaks and went in the thinnest, lightest summer dress.” Now that’s extreme. If that took place today the howls of terror from the global warming alarmists would be heard from here to eternity!
Extreme weather will come and go with all its amazing variety and social impacts, it always has and always will. The answer to Bill’s question is perhaps best addressed by Mark Twain. He said in 1876 “Now, as to the size of the weather in New England - lengthways, I mean. It is utterly disproportioned to the size of that little country. Half the time, when it is packed as full as it can stick, you will see that New England weather sticking out beyond the edges and projecting around hundreds and hundreds of miles over the neighboring states (New York). She can't hold a tenth part of her weather. You can see cracks all about, where she has strained herself trying to do it.” That about says it all Bill.


Nobody even acknowledged this post so I'll quote it.
Member Since: September 15, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 563
The thing you talk about occurs in industry all the time. It occurs because there is an overarching purpose and a money making ability. So a company combines multiple disciplines to create something they can sell, and they make sure that all those groups work together toward a common purpose. In science, that overarching purpose doesn't exist. The purpose is to discover new things, and to discover them as the urge moves you. No one *buys* the product. Most science makes such incremental changes that there is nothing *to* buy.

So, I'm agreeing with you, and suggesting that there is likely to be little progress in this area until there is a customer willing to pay for such cooperation and the product it would produce.

PS to all the people posting unrelated material about climate change in response to the article. If it makes you feel good, do it, but it is a foregone conclusion that there is going to be no or only limited action on this. The world population is going to increase by almost 50% in the next 40 years. Those new people, and all the existing people who don't already have it, will want access to the kind of lifestyle that we enjoy in the developed world. That means they will need to use energy, lots of energy. And the cheapest energy is fossil fuel (ignoring externalities) without considering sunk cost. So they will use it. That means every lump of coal, every whiff of gas, every drop of oil will be consumed, barring some amazing breakthrough in energy technology. Reality bites.

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#19

As mentioned before this is a typical pattern of la nina periods

nothing impressive
Member Since: March 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 2212
Quoting JFLORIDA:
Droughts, Floods and Food
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: February 6, 2011

While several factors have contributed to soaring food prices, what really stands out is the extent to which severe weather events have disrupted agricultural production. And these severe weather events are exactly the kind of thing wed expect to see as rising concentrations of greenhouse gases change our climate which means that the current food price surge may be just the beginning.


On my blog I posted some additional links to resources but I think after 2010 this is all rather obvious.


You can be such a hypocrite. You blast anyone who posts material not based on pure climate science. Then you post the rantings of a socialist economist as though they should have some special weight here. They don't and neither do your posts.
Member Since: July 29, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 970
Michael your graph! The top 300 meters is what fuels hurricanes of course it is going to be warmer. Logically GHGs have a devastating effect on hurricanes making them worse.
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20474
Quoting MichaelSTL:
Of course, whether we see record high SSTs later this year depends on what happens with this:



You can be assured it will happen if not this year but in the near future due to us pumping out gigatons of Co2 which will trap more heat in the atmosphere and not allowing it to go on into space. This GHG blanket will cause the oceans to heat up more because it prevents the radiative heat from escaping the atmosphere. We need to remove the blanket so the heat can escape to space therefore allowing the oceans to cool again thus restoring Northern Arctic ice.
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20474
Earth Warming Unevenly: Tropical Atlantic Sees Weaker Trade Winds and More Rainfall



Although ocean surface temperature in the tropical Atlantic has risen, the pattern has changed and with it the climate. The cold tongue of water that stretches out from the eastern tropical Atlantic coast has warmed more than the western part of the basin. At the same time, the weakened trade winds have resulted in less upwelling of cold water and nutrients in the eastern tropical Atlantic. These latter changes could impact marine life.

Link
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20474
OVER A MONTH LATE! OUCH!


Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20474
OUCH!


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About RickyRood

I'm a professor at U Michigan and lead a course on climate change problem solving. These articles often come from and contribute to the course.

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Clouds in the lee of the Rockies at sunset.
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