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Funny, Scary, Fascinating, and Geeky. What You Missed in Science This Week.

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 10:28pm
I am going to start doing a weekend post here with links and images from the world of geek that caught my eye this week. First up is Will Marshall and the TED talk below. Data is the fuel that science runs on, and he has figured out a way to harvest a LOT of it.   Guess what body of water is the 4th fastest warming on Earth? This …

Stylolites in Helderberg crinoidal grainstones, Corridor H

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 11:13am
Long week, no blog. But, hey – it’s Saturday, and I have a couple of hours of breathing room – so here are some stylolites in a crinoidal grainstrone in the New Creek member of the Helderberg Formation, exposed on Corridor H in West Virginia. Stylolites are pressure solution features, which overall form perpendicular to the maximum squeezing direction (maximum principal stress direction, σ1), and have little wiggle peaks that …

Duck Season Now Open. What’s in Congress’ Sights?

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 12:19pm
The 113th Congress returned to session last week after the mid-term elections. Democrats are seeking to compromise while they still have leadership of the Senate, and Republicans want to tie up loose ends to make room for more ambitious legislation in the 114th Congress when they take control of both chambers. The hope is that the lame duck Congress will be productive in passing fiscal year 2015 (FY15) appropriations, confirming nominees for administrative posts, and selecting party leadership positions for congressional committees.

Thinking of giving a TEDx-style talk? Do it – but with plenty of preparation!

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 9:53am
Although presenting my research to scientific audiences has always been one of my favorite parts of being a scientist, I’ve never found the opportunity or the courage to share my work more publicly. But that changed last March...

2014 On Way to Hottest Year on Record

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 9:24pm
My friends at Climate Central produced an excellent video that you should see and share.

Update: American Farm Bureau Federation et al. v. EPA Oral Arguments

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 10:49pm
American Farm Bureau Federation, et al. v. EPA, Case 13-4079 oral arguments were held Tuesday (see previous post) and early indications suggest the Farm Bureau is fighting an uphill battle as it attempts to block the EPA from implementing a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program for Chesepeake Bay. The program calls for a 25% percent cut in nitrogen, 24% cut in phosphorus, and 20% reduction in sediment loads by …

And This Weeks Most Scientifically Illiterate Post on Twitter Goes To…

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 10:28pm
The Heartland Institute long ago proved that they are not among the scientifically literate, but today they posted a real “LMAO fall in the floor laughing” tweet on their twitter account. Let’s talk about just how preposterous this is, and how it shows an absolute total lack of the ability to reason. So, here are 10 reasons why my little dog Riley has greater critical thinking skills than anyone who …

Kolmanskop in Pictures

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 12:11pm
Last month I spent some time in Namibia for work. During one of my days off, I was able to spend some time visiting Kolmanskop. Located in the Namib Desert a few miles outside of the seaside town of Lüderitz, Kolmanskop is a “Ghost Town” that is the remains of a former diamond mining town. Kolmanskop was founded shortly after diamonds were discovered in the region in 1908 and was abandoned …

Fountain of youth underlies Antarctic mountains

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 10:13am
Time ravages mountains, as it does people. Sharp features soften, and bodies grow shorter and rounder. But under the right conditions, some mountains refuse to age. In a new study, scientists explain why the ice-covered Gamburtsev Mountains in the middle of Antarctica looks as young as they do.

Teaching Professional Skills… what exactly is a “Doctor of Philosophy”?

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 8:44am
True story... student walks in to a faculty member's office, sees the diploma hanging above her desks and comments, "Wow! For someone that has a degree in philosophy, you certainly know oceanography really well!" What can we learn from this and teach students when they see our diplomas that state we have a "Doctor of Philosophy"?

Western New York Buried By Lake Effect Snow Blizzard

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 10:48pm
You could hardly put together a better synoptic weather set-up for a HUGE lake effect snow event than what happened today in Buffalo. A mid-January type outbreak of Polar air rushing across the Great Lakes (that are still “November warm”), and the result is nearly 4-5 feet of snow in Western New York.Travel is totally stopped to the South (and southeast) of Buffalo this evening, and heavy lake effect is …

Sutherland Sky: Part VII – Scenes from the Cape Fold Belt

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 9:18am
At long last, I’m finishing up my series of posts about my October 2013 visit to the small town of Sutherland in South Africa’s Northern Cape province. Sutherland is home to a South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) research station that contains many telescopes, including the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT). You can read Part I of this series here, Part II of this series here, Part III of this series here, Part IV of this series here, Part V of this series here, …

Rabenstein, South Tyrol: a great new landslide video (and a quick update on the Mannen landslide)

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 3:05am
On Sunday a 20,000 cubic metre landslide occurred at Rabenstein in South Tyrol, Italy. It was captured on a dramatic video.

Seeing with Your Own Eyes- What You Can’t See with Your Own Eyes

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 8:15pm
This is a pretty amazing video from NASA Goddard. Worth a watch!

Markagunt: A truly gigantic gravity landslide (2000 cubic kilometres!)

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 3:33am
A new paper in Geology describes for the first time the Markagunt gravity slide - a c.2000 square kilometre landslide deposit in Utah, USA that occurred about 22 million years ago.

American Farm Bureau Federation vs. EPA: Oral Arguments Scheduled for Tuesday

Sun, 11/16/2014 - 11:47am
American Farm Bureau Federation, et al. v. EPA, Case 13-4079 oral arguments are scheduled for Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia. The American Farm Bureau Federation (Farm Bureau) is suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its authority to regulate farm runoff. The issue has gained attention following this summer’s “do not drink” advisory affecting over 500,000 residents in the Toledo, Ohio …

Indian Summer For The End of November?

Fri, 11/14/2014 - 5:26pm
There are growing sign,s that after one more blast of even colder air next week, we will see some much warmer air over the Central and Eastern U.S. as we head into Thanksgiving. Indian summer may be on the way! The forecast below is based on an average of many long-range model runs of the Climate Forecast System. Research shows that an average of model runs provides a more accurate …

Friday fold: GSW fall field trip

Fri, 11/14/2014 - 7:43am
Last Saturday was the Geological Society of Washington’s fall field trip. Dan Doctor, Alan Pitts, and I led a team of ~20 geologists out to the great new exposures along Corridor H in West Virginia. Here’s the team in front of some of the parasitic anticlines and synclines that decorate the larger structure of the Patterson Creek Mountain Anticline: The strata here are Silurian-aged tidal flat carbonates of the Tonoloway …

Satellite nightlight images show flood exposure increasing worldwide

Thu, 11/13/2014 - 11:43am
More people around the world live in flood-prone regions than did 20 years ago, increasing death tolls and economic damage from floods and the chances that flooding will cause similar losses in the future, a new study finds. The increased concentration of human populations in flood-risk zones could exacerbate an already expected upsurge in flood-related destruction in a warming climate, the researchers report. The study has been accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. Its authors used satellite images to show that a widely used proxy for population—the number of lights seen at night—increased globally along rivers by an average of 1.2 percent each year between 1992 and 2012.

Gypsum casts? You be the judge — UPDATE: Syneresis cracks!

Thu, 11/13/2014 - 7:47am
Silurian aged mud cracks feature small lensoidal features: are they casts of ancient gypsum crystals?