BAN #131: Comic Con!, the hottest June on record

July 15, 2019 Issue #131

[Saturn image credit: NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute / Gordan Ugarkovic]


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Upcoming Appearances/Shameless Self-Promotion

Where I’ll be doing things you can watch and listen to or read about

Hey nerds! Going to San Diego Comic Con? Then mark your calendars: On Thursday July 18 at 5:45 p.m. in room 6DE I am moderating the NASA-sponsored panel “The Science of Star Trek! The panelists are from both the world of Trek and the science of worlds:

We did a similar panel last year to an SRO crowd and it was a blast. We had so much fun, and for the rest of the con I had people coming up to me telling me how much they enjoyed it. This year we’ll be talking about real planets we’ve discovered orbiting alien stars and how Star Trek compares; can we outimagine the Universe itself? (Answer: No).

At the moment that is my only official role at SDCC, but I’ll be around. I hope to go to as many panels as time permits, including my friend Bear McCreary’s panel on the music of monster movies, the panel for The Expanse, the Archer panel (I never pass up a chance to see Lucky Yates), Inside the Writers’ Room (because Amy Berg), and a bunch more as I can figure out what’s what.

I hope to see you there. Come up and say hi!



Is it hot in here, or is it just anthropogenic global warming?

Climate change is real, y’all, so here’s a cavalcade of news about it

In more somber news…

If you thought June seemed a little extra hot, then you’re right: the European Copernicus Climate Change Service confirmed that last month was the hottest June on record for the planet. The reason for that is simple: The Earth is heating up.

This isn’t surprising; we’ve seen a lot of high temperature records broken, with more happening as time goes on. That’s how this works… globally.

[The June 2019 global temperature anomaly (temperature difference from average) was 0.93°C above the average from 1950 - 1981 (when global warming was just starting to kick in). LOTI means Land-Ocean Temperature Index. From the NASA-GISS Twitter feed.]

What’s weird about it is what happens when you look locally. For example, in my home state of Colorado, we had the coolest and wettest June in years. It was noticeably cooler, with not a single day above 32°C for the first three weeks, which is pretty odd. It rained a lot more than usual in June, and really locally we had a pretty wet spring, enough to finally offset the drought we’ve been suffering for years.

But this is due to climate change as well, in its way. The Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world — as ice melts to water it gets a lot less reflective, allowing more sunlight to get absorbed, heating things up more. But it’s the temperature difference between the tropics and the northern latitudes that drives the stability of the jet stream; as that difference drops due to Arctic warming, the jet stream destabilizes.

[June temperatures (just Europe at top, globally on bottom) for every year from 1981 to 2019 shown as a difference from the average (using 1981 - 2010, which is already after global warming had raised temperatures significantly). June 2019 is highlighted, and was the hottest ever for Europe and the planet. Credit: ECMWF, Copernicus Climate Change Service]

That means weather patterns are disrupted; one example is what are called omega or blocking patterns, which can squat over a region and sustain weather patterns there. In 2013 such a pattern kept a huge rain storm over Boulder county in Colorado for much longer than usual, and we had catastrophic flooding here. The past few weeks we’ve seen thunderstorms approach from the east, which is bizarre; our weather is very reliable in coming from the west. So we’re seeing lots of strange weather here.

It’s clear that stopping climate change won’t be a top-down process politically, as the GOP-controlled White House and Senate not only won’t allow legislation to pass, they are still actively denying the very science of climate change and working to increase greenhouse gas emissions. But on the state level some good things are happening; my own state’s legislation passed a slew of climate change related bills, all of which were signed into law by governor Jared Polis (in that article are links to the bills, and they are all listed as passed).

Other states are acting accordingly as well. The majority of the American public knows climate change is a huge issue and wants something done about it; it’s the head-in-the-sand (or more accurately cranially-rectally-inverted) politicians on the right who deny this.

2020 is an election year, my friends. Find out who’s running both locally and nationally, and vote for the ones who put science — who put reality — ahead of their own narrow-mindedness. There are a lot of reasons to vote blue next year, but taking action about climate change is at the top of that list. I want a livable world for the next generation.


Blog Jam

What I’ve recently written on the blog, ICYMI

[A total eclipse on Earth seen from just beyond the Moon, from Wednesday’s post. Credit: CNSA / Dwingeloo / Daniel Estévez ]

Monday July 8, 2019: Soon, we may be sailing between the planets on a beam of sunlight

Tuesday July 9, 2019:  2019 LF6: The asteroid with the shortest year known

Wednesday July 10, 2019: From Earth and from space, the wonder of a total solar eclipse

Thursday July11, 2019: 4000 exoplanets, in sight and sound

Friday July 12, 2019: TESS finds a super-Earth orbiting a star in a nearby triple-red-dwarf star system


Et alia

You can email me at thebadastronomer@gmail.com (though replies can take a while), and all my social media outlets are gathered together at about.me. Also, if you don’t already, please subscribe to this newsletter! And feel free to tell a friend or nine, too. Thanks!