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Field Notes from a Catastrophe book review

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:43 PM GMT on July 14, 2006

Elizabeth Kolbert is a writer for the New Yorker magazine. A three-part series she wrote for the magazine in 2005 has been converted into a short, well-researched, and very readable book on climate change called, "Field Notes from a Catastrophe" ($15 from amazon.com). The science presented is excellent, and I couldn't find any errors. Kolbert visits leading climate change scientists in the field, spending time in the Arctic, Greenland, Dr. James Hansen's laboratory, and in United Nations climate change meetings. We get to see the science the way these scientists see it, which is a very powerful way to emphasize the major climate changes that are already underway on our planet.

Kolbert delivers a memorable description of a visit to Alaska, where record temperatures have begun melting permafrost that formed at the beginning of the last ice age, 120,000 years ago. She visits the remote island of Sarichef, five miles off the coast of the Seward Peninsula. A subsistence hunting village has existed there for centuries. However, the entire population of 591 must be relocated to the mainland because the island is eroding away. The problem? Lack of the customary sea ice in the fall has allowed storm surges from the powerful storms that hit during that season to push far inland. Kolbert talks to an Inuit hunter named John Keogak, who lives in Canada's Northwest Territories, 500 miles north of the Arctic circle. He and his fellow hunters started seeing robins for the first time a few years ago. The Inuits have no word for the bird in their language. Kolbert travels to "drunken forests" where the trees lean at crazy angles due to the collapse of the permafrost beneath. In one of many of the odd and amusing observations the book is sprinkled with, she writes:

A few blocks beyond the drunken forest, we came to a house where the front yard showed clear signs of ice wedge melt-off. The owner, trying to make the best of things, had turned the yard into a miniature golf course.

As the title implies, this is not a cheerful book, and Kolbert paints a gloomy picture of the how climate change is affecting the planet. I highly recommend the book for those interested in reading about climate change. Three and a half stars.

Jeff Masters

Permafrost Collapse (akalaska)
Climate change is causing rapid coastal erosion in the Arctic. As the permafrost melts, the land falls into the ocean. (Elson Lagoon, Barrow, Alaska)
Permafrost Collapse
Coastal Erosion (akalaska)
A scientist is taking high-precision GPS measurements of coastal erosion in the Arctic, due to melting permafrost. The coast is eroding at the rate of 3-12 feet per year.
Coastal Erosion

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

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823. IKE
9:32 AM CDT on July 15, 2006
That wave in the caribbean is headed away from the strongest shear...hey it's the only game in town.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
822. StormJunkie
2:07 PM GMT on July 15, 2006
NWAC, I think that shear is too high in that area, although I am not certain. It also looks like it will move NW or WNW, but again this is all speculation.

As for the ULL, that is a ULL and a tropical wave. The shear looks to be high in all of these areas.
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821. guygee
2:13 PM GMT on July 15, 2006
From the late morning Melbourne FL AFD:

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820. guygee
1:59 PM GMT on July 15, 2006
WildHorseDesertTx - Wow, that was a "long way to go"...I would be more interested to learn where Sen. Clinton (and other U.S. Senators) stand on funding for NOAA, and funding for research and infrastructure in meteorology and climatology.

That other stuff plays better on RedState or DailyKos, choose your flavor...
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819. IKE
8:56 AM CDT on July 15, 2006
8:05 am...tropical weather discussion...."A tropical wave is in the central Caribbean along 76w/77w south
of 20n moving west around 15 kt. Widely scattered showers and
isolated tstms are along the wave axis from 15n-20n. Clusters of
scattered moderate/isolated strong convection are over the SW
Caribbean ahead of the wave axis from 11n-14n between 79w-84w.
This wave is expected to reach South Florida...the Florida Keys
and western Cuba Sunday evening."

That's a pretty lengthy wave...ALL the way to south Florida by tomorrow night???
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818. IKE
8:48 AM CDT on July 15, 2006
Anyone notice that spin down in the southern Caribbean??? Looks like it's headed for or just North of Central America. Maybe that's what the NAM has an 1008 mb low east of the Yucatan in 84 hours.

And...what's that in the Bahamas...OMG...another ULL...how many is this???? And it's headed for Florida again.
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817. sebastianjer
9:33 AM EDT on July 15, 2006
`Wild horse
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816. NWAtlanticCyclone
1:25 PM GMT on July 15, 2006
I just have one question. What's that convection going to do off the Carolinas assoicated with the front? Any formation or just thunderstorms over the ocean water
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814. punkasshans
11:49 AM GMT on July 15, 2006
And I expect Bush to do the right thing soon, attach Iran (once Iran attacks Israel after Israel attacks Syria. . oh, life might get interesting soon [and not in a good way])
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811. Fshhead
9:51 AM GMT on July 15, 2006
Promise I will read soon. Cya, Compadre
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809. Fshhead
9:50 AM GMT on July 15, 2006
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808. Fshhead
9:49 AM GMT on July 15, 2006
LMAO!!! yea we'll see about that. I already hot the preliminary report LMAO!!!!!
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806. Fshhead
9:47 AM GMT on July 15, 2006
take it easy randrewl!!!!
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805. Fshhead
9:44 AM GMT on July 15, 2006
What bothers me the most is the current got in with alot of the religous vote. Hmmmmm I am still a little peeved that "Kenny Boy" kicked it before serving some time. This is supposed to be a "Godfaring" person???
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803. Fshhead
9:41 AM GMT on July 15, 2006
Posted By: Randrewl at 5:39 AM AST on July 15, 2006.
Smart man. But not totally a Democrat.
Hmmmm sounds good already LMAO!!
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801. cajunkid
9:36 AM GMT on July 15, 2006
Any of you guys know how to use a wrapper to compile simulcast? I think you can use netbeans IDE, but I'm not sure.
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800. Fshhead
9:37 AM GMT on July 15, 2006
i will have to look into this Richardson guy. Never heard of him so I can't say.
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798. Fshhead
9:34 AM GMT on July 15, 2006
oops years
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797. chefjeff
5:32 AM EDT on July 15, 2006
Back to the weather. Looks like a real nice weekend shaping up here in Fla. I think I'll get ready to enjoy it.
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796. Fshhead
9:33 AM GMT on July 15, 2006
I saw him one late night & he hit the oil thing right on the head for me. He pretty much said the same things I have been sayin for 10 yeard
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795. Fshhead
9:31 AM GMT on July 15, 2006
Randrewl what do you think of Howard Dean, he was the one I voted for in the primarys. I know he a little intense.... Maybe that is what we needed LMAO
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791. Fshhead
9:28 AM GMT on July 15, 2006
thanx for the tip ;)
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790. Fshhead
9:23 AM GMT on July 15, 2006
I also still say that the electoral college should be abolished. Gore won the popular vote & had the peoples choice taken away. Be honest though I always think that Gore would have been a big mistake also. I do say this Thank God he was not Pres. on 9/11. the oil pimp has all the connections along with dr. Evil. They were the right combination there. Just wish sometime they would finish waht they started over there though
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788. Fshhead
9:21 AM GMT on July 15, 2006
yea been ALOT of talk about those machines lately for sure. So when you do absentee it is easy ??? You got a good idea there.
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786. Fshhead
9:19 AM GMT on July 15, 2006
Funny thing it took 9/11 to bring both sides together momentarily...... How sad!!!!!
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785. chefjeff
5:14 AM EDT on July 15, 2006
Fshhead, I totally agree. Wish they could work together to solve some problems. I realize that might be asking to much.
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784. Fshhead
9:15 AM GMT on July 15, 2006
Y'know guys... one thing that is so funny. Remember whem Nixon got caught????? Huge Huge scandel like the country was about to end or something LOL But now, stuff happens almost weekly with the highlight the spying on us.At least Nixon was only spying on the other party
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783. Fshhead
9:13 AM GMT on July 15, 2006
Randrewl I heard George Carlin call him the "little oil pimp" that one kinda stuck with me LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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782. Fshhead
9:09 AM GMT on July 15, 2006
I'll say this. I hope alot of people that voted for him realize they made a mistake (like yourself no offense) & really show up for the Nov.. elections. The balance in power has to be reinstated. Hey I'm a Dem. & I don't want them to have all the power either. There has to be a balance. The house & the Senate needs to switch to Dem. so when all this hanky-panky is going on someone can actually look into the matter with a little authority instead ob being like a muzzled dog.
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781. chefjeff
5:08 AM EDT on July 15, 2006
Randrewl, I was in the Military when Nixon was Prez. Got us out of Nam.
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779. Fshhead
9:06 AM GMT on July 15, 2006
I always laugh so hard when GW has to talk from the hip & when he always says "Well you know it's hard work"
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776. Fshhead
9:03 AM GMT on July 15, 2006
welll like I said he was good Pres. LMAO I always hear that it is GW further down the road that will be the greatest in history, the great democracy spreader LMAO
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774. Fshhead
9:02 AM GMT on July 15, 2006
I just knew we were going down this road. Thats why I voted for the other MORON!!!!!
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773. chefjeff
4:55 AM EDT on July 15, 2006
When Jeb talks , he tells it straight and honest, not like we are a bunch of morons. Can't say that about his brother or anyone else in D.C. for that matter.
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