I used the term “Sunsational” today for the first time this year. It is a word that I can’t say for sure that I “invented”, but that I first started using almost 15 years ago to describe a perfect day – weatherwise. There were many candidate days earlier in the year but I just couldn’t use the term because we were in the midst of a drought. I couldn’t be happy with the sunshine while knowing nothing much was growing because of the drought. Now that we have picked up some very nice rain amounts in June and the countryside is lush and green – it is time for a sunsational day – today! Tomorrow will be quite nice as well and then it will turn a bit hotter over the weekend. It still looks like the next chance of rain will come late in the day on Sunday – at which point we could receive some heavy rainfall due to some extra moisture in the air from the remnants of hurricane Alex (or at least the tropical moisture brought on land by Alex).
Today didn’t start out all that sunsational because it was quite cool around daybreak. Low temps flirted with record territory in many locations. Here in Wausau the low was 45 which was only 5 degrees above the record of 40 set back in 1943. The low in Merrill and Eagle River was 37. In Antigo the mercury dipped to 39. Tomahawk had a low of 35 and Land O’ Lakes was the coldest at a frosty 32.
I thought this was an interesting article about anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Arctic Climate May Be More Sensitive to Warming Than Thought, Says New Study. Researchers found that Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic was much warmer 2.6 to 5.3 million years ago than it is today, during a time when carbon dioxide levels were higher than today. The island had some trees a likely no permanent ice-cover. This is much different than today, as Ellesmere is covered by tundra and ice/snow. According to the authors of the article, this a reason for alarm because they expect that if carbon dioxide levels continue going up, the Ellesmere will become more like it was a couple million years ago. I have to wonder if there is a big case for alarm here. Whatever warm spell the planet and the arctic went through in the past, it seems life survived (and one could say even thrived). The big problem for life in the arctic was the advent of the ice ages. Another point I can’t help but belabor is a pet-peeve of mine. It is when writers and researchers use the term “irreversible” when talking about AGW. Ellesmere Island was much warmer with higher levels of carbon dioxide a couple million years ago and that situation was most certainly reversible as the island we know today is a harsh tundra environment and frozen over most of the year.
Here is a little update on the Mars rover Opportunity. It is now close enough to its next target – the Endeavor crater – to get a higher resolution image. Check it out here. It is nothing too exciting yet but it should be interesting if Opportunity makes it all the way because clay has been detected in the new crater. Opportunity could end up performing the first up-close analysis of clay deposits (created by water) on Mars.
No word yet on whether JAXA’s Hayabusa picked up any material from the asteroid it visited, but JAXA is applying to be enteredinto the Guinness Book of World Records. They want Hayabusa to be recognized for being the first spacecraft to land on and return from a celestial body other than the moon.
Maybe they could also get an entry into the World Book of Records for the first successful deployment of a solar sail. Take a look at the shimmering solar sail craft IKAROS here. The picture was taken by a self-deployed camera. What a cool spacecraft! One thing I give JAXA credit for is that they put some thought into getting quality pictures and video from their experimental spacecraft. Remember that their lunar probe had a high definition video camera.
Have a fine Wednesday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
This post was written by jloew on June 30, 2010