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2014 Holiday Shopping Guide for the Weather and Climate Change Enthusiast

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 3:02 PM GMT on November 28, 2014

Every serious weather enthusiast deserves a Personal Weather Station (PWS) in their backyard! Not only can you enjoy seeing what the weather is in your backyard, you can share the data with everyone else on the Internet by uploading to the Wunderground Personal Weather Station network, which boasts data from over 30,000 stations. You don’t need to have a computer on all the time to collect the data and send it to the Internet—a company called Ambient makes a weather bridge that will keep the data flowing to the Internet even when your computer is turned off. A full list of wunderground-compatible PWS models, software, and add-ons like the Ambient WeatherBridge is available from our Personal Weather Station page, or check out our "promotions" page which highlights special deals for our WU users.

Weather station for a smart phone: Netatmo
The Netatmo Weather Monitor ($179) contains a unique set of sensors to monitor your living environment and wirelessly transmits all your data to your Smartphone. The Netatmo App displays your station’s indoor and outdoor measurements into clear and comprehensive dashboards, graphs and notifications.

A low-end PWS choice: Davis Vantage Vue
The Davis Vantage Vue + WeatherBridge Package is $595 from ambientweather.com. Combine the convenience of WeatherBridge with Davis Instruments' Vantage Vue™ station which is fully featured, highly accurate and affordably priced.

A high-end PWS choice: Rainwise
I have had a Davis Vantage Pro2 in my backyard for the past six years, and have been very happy with it, but I also recommend the RainWise Direct to Weather Underground Package, $999 from rainwise.com. The RainWise RapidFire™ enabled weather station doesn't need a PC to upload to us, and with an ultra-fast refresh rate of every 3-5 seconds, new data is updated instantly.

A webcam choice: Ubiquiti Networks AirCam
The AirCam Indoor/Outdoor IP Camera from Ubiquiti Networks ($103) combines advanced industrial design, powerful performance, and market-leading cost effectiveness.

Figure 1. A prototype Air Umbrella.

An air umbrella? No way!
Since the invention of the umbrella 3,000 years ago, not much has changed in its design. The revolutionary Air Umbrella, from designers in Nanjing, China, aims do away with the frustration of inside-out metal ribs during a strong wind, by creating an overhead dome of jetted air that shields you from the rain. It might also be handy for keeping ash off of your head during a volcanic eruption! So far, the Air Umbrella is just an idea, but the project raised over $100,000 in October 2014 in a KickStarter campaign (ten times their $10,000 goal). The designers aim to have Air Umbrellas available for purchase in December of next year.

Holiday books for the climate science enthusiast
If you're bewildered by the complexity of the climate change/global warming issue, and want a comprehensive, easy-to-understand guide that presents an unbiased view of the important issues, look no further than Robert Henson's ”The Thinking Person’s Guide to Climate Change”, published in August 2014. The book is an updated version of his "Rough Guide to Climate Change", which I reviewed back in 2008. I've thought so highly of this book that I've purchased over 200 copies over the years, giving them to students, TV meteorologists, politicians running for U.S. Congress, and the leadership of The Weather Channel. If I were teaching a course on climate change at the high school or introductory college level, this would be the text. Mr. Henson is probably the world's premier science writer in meteorology and climate change, and has been a writer/editor/media relations specialist since 1990 for the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research/National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, where he updates their their excellent AtmosNews website. The Big News: I'm pleased to announce that Bob will be leaving NCAR in early January and joining Wunderground, where he will be making regular posts in my blog on weather and climate change topics. ”The Thinking Person’s Guide to Climate Change” is $20.90 from Amazon.com. I give it five stars out of five.

“This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate”, by Naomi Klein, is my #1 must-read climate change book of 2014. This book has relatively little to say about the science of climate change, but rather focuses on how the climate change crisis has its roots in the unsustainable form of neo-liberal capitalism that dominates the global economy. Klein writes, "Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war. What the climate needs to avoid collapse is a contraction in humanity's use of resources; what our economic model demands to avoid collapse is unfettered expansion. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it's not the laws of nature." Ms. Klein discusses how we must make radical changes to rein in corporate power, rebuild local economies, and restore democracy in order to reform a corrupt out-of-control political and economic system that is wrecking the natural systems needed to sustain life. The changes needed are daunting and will not come from the existing political power structure, she argues. The changes must come from below, from the the rapidly evolving social movements that are rising to combat the crisis. Naomi Klein is a journalist who wrote the #1 international best seller The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, and is a contributing editor for Harper's Magazine, a reporter for Rolling Stone, and a syndicated columnist for The Nation and The Guardian. The New Yorker called her "the most visible and influential figure on the American left," and many conservatives will find the philosophy espoused in her book abhorrent. The paperback version of “This Changes Everything” is $14.17 from Amazon.com. I give it four stars out of five.

Have a great holiday weekend, everyone!

Jeff Masters
Was not going to go out in the strong wind for the sunrise. Looking at photos on WUG and turned around to see this. I made a bee line, sliding on ice to capture this. We don't have clouds like this in North Carolina. From my son's back yard.

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The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.