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Comment Re:Painful cold (Score 1) 684

I think we're on the wobbly edge of the thing.

Today's my 53rd birthday, and I never remember a January snowstorm like the one we just had. Usually temperatures rise in a snowstorm because of the cloud cover, and particularly in a northeaster which pulls both warmer air and moisture off the Atlantic. But a northeaster snowstorm with temperatures dropping close to 0F? Never seen such a thing in my lifetime. Usually air temps rise into the low 30s F. On the plus side the extreme cold made for the easiest to shovel 1+ ft storm ever.

Still, it's common here in Boston to have wild fluctuations in winter weather, depending on whether we're getting continental air masses or ocean moderated breezes. When I was a kid, some people called a northwest wind a "Montreal Express". If you drive an hour and half inland to the Blackstone River valley and you're in a different, more continental winter climate area.

Comment You need smoking gun? (Score 3, Informative) 382

As for "not predicted in theory", how does a result from 1902 grab you?

The relatively greater importance of wind over thermodynamics in antarctic sea ice extent was well established over thirty years ago;

Recent statistical and function (EOF) analyses have shown two primary areas of higher annual variation of sea ice conditions which are presumed to be more sensitive to variations in forcing fields, probably of dynamic (winds and currents) rather than thermodynamic (temperature) origin.

[Ackley, S. F., 1981: A review of sea-ice weather relationships in the Southern Hemisphere. Sea Level, Ice and Climatic Change, Vol. 131, I. Allison, Ed., International Association Scientific Hydrology, 127–159.]

If you want a smoking gun, here is one from 2001 (Flato, G.M. and G.J. Boer, 2001: Warming asymmetry in climate change simulations. Geophys. Res. Lett., 28:195-198.:

Observed trends in sea-ice extent over the past two decades exhibit hemispheric asymmetry with a statistically significant decrease in northern but not in southern ice cover.

In summary, the models did not predict a reduction in Antarctic summer sea ice extent, because has been well-established for decades now that wind patterns account for more than 2/3 of the annual variation.

And, *yes*, there have een

Comment Re:"near the frozen continent's eastern edge" (Score 1) 382

I interpret "near the continent's frozen eastern edge" as meaning "along the eastern edge of the Antarctic Peninsula, which sticks up to 63 degrees or so south latitude. This tends to collect floating sea ice on its eastern side (the western Weddell Sea) when there are strong easterly winds.

Oddly enough I have not been able to find the coordinates of the stranded ships anywhere. Does anyone here know this?

Comment Chaotic? Sure, but the explanation is simple. (Score 5, Informative) 382

At least in principle. The exact details of *weather* are always complex.

Here's a link to an article explaining where the ice in question comes from:

“There's a misconception here – we are not trapped in new ice that's been created because its cold,” said Turney. “This is very old, thick ice that's been re-mobilised. It was attached to another part of the continent and has broken out and, with the south-easterly winds we've had, has pushed it up against the coast and pinned us in.”

The austral sea ice situation is complicated by the fact there's a continent down there and it's not perfectly round. It sticks out into the sea in irregular ways. This means that the extent of sea ice (which is present year round) is dependent on the wind, which in turn is stronger with a more energetic (warmer) atmosphere.

Comment Re:Chinese or Russian Operations? (Score 3, Interesting) 573

He'd have access to what the NSA stole from Russia or China.

The biggest concern with any Russian or Chinese documents is what the NSA's having them reveals about the American intelligence capabilities and operations. A public release of such documents, while embarrassing to Russia and China, might be even more damaging to US intelligence, and might possibly expose people working for the US.

But a *public* release hasn't happened. Instead, Snowden spent several days in the Russian consulate before being allowed into Russia. What did he do to convince the Russians to let him in? If *you* were the Russian foreign ministry, how would *you* handle this? It's a legitimate question.

If Snowden is to be pardoned, it has to be done on the basis that the good he did in revealing the NSA domestic spying program outweighs the damage he has done to our foreign intelligence, which may well be the case.

Comment Falls short in one critical public library job: (Score 2) 212

Preservation of information for future generations, and conversely providing information generated past generations to the present.

I can walk into my nice, but hardly cutting edge public library and look up my hometown paper's front page for December 8, 1941 and read about the reaction to the Pearl Harbor attack. I can look for science fiction books published in the 1950s by publishers that have gone out of business. I can find strange, but interesting books that have never been digitized and are very hard to find, like a military history of the bicycle written in the 1960s.

If I go to a *world class* library, like the main branch of the Boston Public Library, I can examine rare manucripts, maps and sheet music, although they have been making an effort to digitize that stuff. If I needed a service manual for a fifty year-old TV set, this is the first place I'd look.

I can understand going primarily ebook for a community that can't afford a real library, but even such a library needs stacks where it preserves books of local interest for future generations. Given that they've given up physical books and all the associated expenses, 10,000 books seems like an awfully thin collection to me.

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