Wunderground Meteorologist Shaun Tanner

No New Plastic Month! Listen to The Daily Downpour for Details!

By: shauntanner, 5:56 PM GMT on April 29, 2010

Join meteorologists Shaun and Tim on The Weather Show today.

For the entire month of May, Tim and I will challenge ourselves to not introduce any new plastic into our lives. We will be documenting our challenge throughout the month via video and photographs and we appreciate any support from the Weather Underground crowd!

Join meteorologists Shaun and Tim on The Weather Show today.

We will be talking about the challenge on the show today, so please listen and learn how you can help!

We will also be taking your phone calls!

Here is the schedule for today:

All times are in Eastern
4:00-4:10: National Forecast
4:10-4:20: Dr. Jeff Masters Blog Recap
4:20-4:30: Learning Corner
4:30-5:00: The Weather Show and Plastic Challenge

Please join us. We promise you will learn something!

Updated: 5:57 PM GMT on April 29, 2010

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Recap of Severe Weather and National Weather On The Daily Downpour. Listen here!

By: shauntanner, 5:17 PM GMT on April 27, 2010

Join meteorologists Shaun and Tim on The Weather Show today. On today's show, we will recap the severe weather from over the weekend, and talk about active national weather. Relief organization Portlight.org will call in to discuss their relief efforts in the tornado-hot areas of Mississippi. We will also have our thoughts on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

We will also be taking your phone calls!

Here is the schedule for today:

All times are in Eastern
4:00-4:10: National Forecast
4:10-4:20: Dr. Jeff Masters Blog Recap
4:20-4:30: Learning Corner
4:30-5:00: The Weather Show

Please join us. We promise you will learn something!

Updated: 6:39 PM GMT on April 27, 2010

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Ode To The Earth

By: shauntanner, 5:12 PM GMT on April 23, 2010

So I am a day late for Earth Day. Earth Day 2010 was the 40th anniversary of the day that is meant to inspire people to respect the environment and atmosphere for at least a day. After all, these two things allow us to thrive on the surface and have pointed us to where we are today via evolution.

The modern environment movement began in 1968 with the first manned mission to orbit the moon turned its camera toward Earth and took a very famous photograph called "Earthrise".


Earthrise

For my money, this picture not only remains my favorite picture, it also evokes specific emotion every time I see it. On the day the picture was taken, people were going about their business on Earth, milling around at work, home, and running errands getting ready for Christmas (the picture was taken on December 24). Weather systems were racing around the atmosphere, ships were steaming through vast open oceans, and political strife remained high much as it does today. Yet all of that, every single person on the planet, every manufactured item, every droplet of rain or water vapor molecule is represented in Earthrise by just a few pixels. To me, that is stunning.

So, I wanted to pay a bit of homage to the beauty that sustains us. The environment could very well have been something that simply gave, and continues to give, us life. It could have chosen to be dull, with the boring purposes of providing oxygen to our lungs, growing nutrients for our health, and giving us permission to wander the surface. Instead, Earth is beautiful. Would we really have missed a rainbow had the atmosphere been incapable of producing one? Should a tulip never existed, would we have noticed? If waterfalls never formed, would we have found a different thing to stare at in wonder? Truly, these are all gifts we have all taken for granted and to bring your attention back to the beauty that once was, and still is. While I find cliches a bit annoying, sometimes it is best to look at the atmosphere through a child's eyes. A child will look at a halo around the sun and wonder why. A child will stare at the ripples on a pond and wonder why they are there. To adults, we know sky is blue. To a child, why is the sky blue?

So I leave you with only a small collection of my favorite atmospheric and environmental characters. Please, add to them.

Updated: 5:26 PM GMT on April 23, 2010

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Severe Weather Threat on The Daily Downpour. Listen here!

By: shauntanner, 4:42 PM GMT on April 22, 2010

Join meteorologists Shaun and Tim on The Weather Show today. On today's show, we will discuss the severe weather threat that is possible today. We will be talking to Dr. Rob Carver, our resident severe weather expert.

We will also be taking your phone calls!

Here is the schedule for today:

All times are in Eastern
4:00-4:10: National Forecast
4:10-4:20: Dr. Jeff Masters Blog Recap
4:20-4:30: Learning Corner
4:30-5:00: The Weather Show

Please join us. We promise you will learn something!

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The Daily Downpour and Volcano Update 4 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. PT. Listen here!

By: shauntanner, 4:48 PM GMT on April 20, 2010

Join meteorologists Shaun and Tim on The Weather Show today. On today's show, we will discuss the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland and related airspace disaster in Europe.

We will also be taking your phone calls!

Here is the schedule for today:

All times are in Eastern
4:00-4:10: National Forecast
4:10-4:20: Dr. Jeff Masters Blog Recap
4:20-4:30: Learning Corner
4:30-5:00: The Weather Show and Portlight

Please join us. We promise you will learn something!

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The Daily Downpour and Portlight Thursday at 4 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. PT. Listen here!

By: shauntanner, 4:22 PM GMT on April 15, 2010

Join meteorologists Shaun and Tim on The Weather Show today. On today's show, we will discuss the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland and related airspace disaster in Europe. Also, we will talk to Pat and Paul from Portlight to get an idea about the relief effort in Haiti.

We will also be taking your phone calls!

Here is the schedule for today:

All times are in Eastern
4:00-4:10: National Forecast
4:10-4:20: Dr. Jeff Masters Blog Recap
4:20-4:30: Learning Corner about tsunamis
4:30-5:00: The Weather Show and Portlight

Please join us. We promise you will learn something!

Updated: 6:28 PM GMT on April 15, 2010

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Two Coral Reef Shipwreck Officers Arrested

By: shauntanner, 7:32 PM GMT on April 14, 2010

You can tell how much someone respects their home by how they treat it. People with little respect often have homes that are decrepit and overrun with weeds, have chipped paint, and have a general lack of upkeep. Over time, these homes become more rundown and eventually collapse. Homes that are well-kept, clean, and pleasant last much longer in comparison.

You can tell home much someone respects their planet by how they treat it...

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system and is located off the east coast of Australia in the...Coral Sea (go figure). It is the largest structure made of and by living organisms and can be seen from space. It has been designated a World Heritage Site, meaning that of all the natural and manmade sites in the world, The Great Barrier Reef is on the short list of things that we should try our hardest to preserve for future generations. It's special stuff.

Part of The Great Barrier Reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park which puts that portion of the reef off limits to most fishing and keeps tourists away. The coral is extremely fragile. So much so that the main modern concern for coral is bleaching due to increased ocean temperatures. I will leave that explanation for any oceanographers in the crowd.

The Great Barrier Reef is so large and protected that cargo ships coming and going from Australia are required to go through certain wider and deeper passages that minimize the damage to the reef. Any unnecessary diversion from these well-maintained tracks will land the ship captain in deep trouble. Obviously, I bring this up for a reason. On April 3, the Shen Neng 1 slammed into the southern tip of the reef carrying a load of coal and standard dirty and cleaner ship fuel. The coral sliced into the ship's hull, emptying 2 tons of this fuel into the waters near the reef. The initial fuel spill was quickly treated chemically and did little to the reef, but some of the fuel has begun to wash up in a wildlife sanctuary. The ship then remained stuck on the reef until this Monday, when salvage crews finally were able to attach two tugboats to the stranded vessel and gently pull the ship back to flotation. Thankfully, fears of the vessel breaking in two or spilling more fuel into the protected waters have so far remained only fears. But, while the ship was stuck on the reef, tides and currents continuously nudged the ship along, cutting a nearly 2 miles long, over 800 feet wide scar in the pristine marine environment. Also, while the ship was grinding the reef, paint from the ship's hull scraped off onto the coral. This paint is specially designed to prevent marine life from growing on a ship, thus the you can imagine what this specific design does to a marine habitat.

It is still under investigation by the ship's crew was off course. Early reports suggest that the ship simply did not turn at a specific waypoint. This waypoint should have been programmed into the ship's course well before it began its voyage, but an diversion due to bad weather would have changed its course.

Word has come today that two of the ship's officers have been arrested pending investigation of the accident. The ship's captain is facing a possible $51,200 fine, while the chief officer faces possible prison time because he was technically in charge of the ship during the time of the accident. Now, keep those two penalties in mind. It has been estimated that the damage the ship caused will take 10 to 20 years to reverse. In some areas, the coral and "all marine life has been completely flattened and the structure of the shoal has been pulverized by the weight of the vessel", according to Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority chief scientist David Wachenfeld. He added that this grounding has caused more damage than he has seen in previous groundings.

If this is a site that we are supposed to pass on undamaged to our children, are the possible penalties for the two crew members equal to the crime? Think about how long the reef itself will take to renew itself.

Updated: 7:37 PM GMT on April 14, 2010

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The Daily Downpour today at 4 p.m. Eastern, 1 p.m. Pacific.

By: shauntanner, 4:59 PM GMT on April 13, 2010

Join meteorologists Shaun and Tim on The Weather Show today. Please join us as we will discuss a variety of topics.

We will also be taking your phone calls!

Here is the schedule for today:

All times are in Eastern
4:00-4:10: National Forecast
4:10-4:20: Dr. Jeff Masters Blog Recap
4:20-4:30: Learning Corner
4:30-5:00: The Weather Show with Shaun and Tim.

Please join us. We promise you will learn something!

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Cows Are Vindicated

By: shauntanner, 5:01 PM GMT on April 09, 2010

Take this for what it is worth.

For a long time, I have listened to fellow students and colleagues vent about how cows are destroying the planet. Just the other day, Dr. Masters was telling me that the best way to combat global warming is to become a vegetarian or vegan. But...why?

The theory is that cows harm the climate in two ways. First, they release methane through their manure. Methane, as I am sure you know, is a harmful greenhouse gas. Some would say that it is much, much more harmful to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. So, just a little bit of methane will go a long way to keeping longwave radiation in the atmosphere and thus warming the surface in the long run. Second, the land used by cattle to graze is often land that was previously forest and has been clear cut. Deforestation is one of the main causes of the increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases.

So, by becoming a vegetarian, there is less of a demand for cattle and their associated greenhouse gas output. Cows bad, veggies good. But, is this true?

Finally, I came across an article out of The Telegraph that seems to refute this a little bit.

The article quotes a study undertaken in Mongolia that found that grazing cattle actually cut down the emissions from another greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is emitted by microbes in grassy areas, especially in the Spring when the ground begins to thaw and the microbes flourish. The study found that these microbes emit more nitrous oxide when the grass was long than when it was cut down by cattle and other grazing animals. The theory is that when the grass is long, the ground remains slightly warmer than if it was cut. The colder the ground, the more likely the microbes to be killed. So, grazing cattle actually cut down on the amount of nitrous oxide that these grasslands emit.

The caveats in this study abound. The author, Klaus Butterbach-Bahl, himself admits that the study did not take into account the amount of methane emitted from the cattle. That is, if you increase the amount of grazing cattle to decrease nitrous oxide, is that decrease overpowered by the amount of methane pumped into the atmosphere? Also, to cut down on the nitrous oxide, you have to have free range, grazing cattle. Without cattle actually doing the grazing on the grasses, you don't actually get the cut in emissions. Unfortunately, in this country at least, a lot of our cattle do not graze in open grassland. Instead, they are put in small pins with other cattle and forced to eat a diet that is not natural to them, including corn and even other animal meat. Not only is that not good for the cow, but it is not good for people when they eat the cow meat. So, now we find out that there is another potential benefit for having the cows feed in open grassland...a cut in greenhouse emissions.

So, I am afraid the same questions remain. To eat red meat or not to eat red meat.

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The Daily Downpour and Climate Apathy

By: shauntanner, 4:32 PM GMT on April 08, 2010

Join meteorologists Shaun and Tim on The Weather Show today. Please join us as we will discuss a variety of topics.

We will also be taking your phone calls!

Here is the schedule for today:

All times are in Eastern
4:00-4:10: National Forecast
4:10-4:20: Dr. Jeff Masters Blog Recap
4:20-4:30: Learning Corner
4:30-5:00: The Weather Show with Shaun and Tim.

Please join us. We promise you will learn something!


Climate Apathy

If you are reading this, you are officially in the minority.

During the last presidential election, many people suffered from political fatigue. We were bombarded with an insane amount of news coverage of the two main political candidates so it is no wonder that people got bored with coverage of the most minute detail of what Obama and McCain where doing. There was, however, a good deal of the general public (including myself) who remained riveted throughout the campaign. In fact, there was enough people to make the election extremely popular.

I am seeing evidence of the same thing happening in the climate change debate. I teach an introductory to meteorology class in my "spare time" and one topic we discuss is climate change. We talk about how the climate can change naturally and unnaturally. At some point, I show a video that talks about climate change and last for two class periods. On the second of the two periods, there is always a noticeable decline if class attendance. No doubt, the students who do not show up think the video is not that important so there is no point in showing up. This is especially troubling because they have paid for their education. What is more alarming is that most students in the class have a general apathy about learning about climate change. The general consensus is that there are people smarter than they are who will eventually solve the problem. Little do they know, that could not be farther from the truth. There are extremely smart people out there who are actively declining to solve the problem. Not only that, but some of these smart people are actively trying to disprove the idea of human induced climate change merely to pad their own wallets.

What I try to impress on the students who are still awake is that the solution to climate change is not external. It comes from the ideas in their own heads. Some solutions cost money, but a large amount actually save money. Yet, people refuse to take even the cost saving actions into account. I have yet to figure out why. Perhaps we simply just don't care anymore.

Updated: 10:30 PM GMT on April 08, 2010

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The Daily Downpour

By: shauntanner, 4:27 PM GMT on April 06, 2010

Join meteorologists Shaun and Tim on The Weather Show today. Please join us as we will discuss a variety of topics.

We will also be taking your phone calls!

Here is the schedule for today:

All times are in Eastern
4:00-4:10: National Forecast
4:10-4:20: Dr. Jeff Masters Blog Recap
4:20-4:30: Learning Corner
4:30-5:00: The Weather Show with Shaun and Tim.

Please join us. We promise you will learn something!

Updated: 10:21 PM GMT on April 06, 2010

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Dr. Jeff Masters on The Daily Downpour Today at 4 p.m. Eastern, 1 p.m. Pacific

By: shauntanner, 4:11 PM GMT on April 01, 2010

Dr. Jeff Masters will join meteorologists Shaun and Tim on The Weather Show today. Please join us as we welcome our chief meteorologist for an in-depth discussion about the world of meteorology.

We will also be taking your phone calls!

Here is the schedule for today:

All times are in Eastern
4:00-4:10: National Forecast
4:10-4:20: Learning Corner
4:20-5:00: The Learning Show with Shaun, Tim, and Dr. Masters.

Please join us. We promise you will learn something!

Updated: 7:20 PM GMT on April 01, 2010

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About shauntanner

Shaun Tanner has been a meteorologist at Weather Underground since 2004.

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