Thursday, August 27, 2015

Alaska in May

Back in May, Dr. Randi Brazeau and I took a class of students to Alaska to study glaciers and ecosystems.  We had such an awesome experience!  Although I don't have time to write up the details right now, I want to drop some pictures here.  We had amazing weather due to the massive drought affecting the western US and Alaska this year.

Despite the fact that there weren't cell phones for us to plan to meet up, without fail, I would run into my like-minded students at the back of the ship enjoying the sunset!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Climate Change and Ecosystems: an Alaskan Cruise Class

On May 28 I set off to Seattle where I got in a full day of exactly what I wanted:  quality time with one of my best friends from high school while eating seafood at the Crab pot and exploring the fish throwing and fresh flowers of Pikes Place.  I bought some wine for the ship and that night I got gluten free lobster macaroni and cheese and enjoyed the views from my 20-something floor hotel room at the Renaissance.  That whole day I never noticed Mt. Rainier, it must have been hazy, or maybe the thunderstorms over the mountains clouded the view.   The next day I got to meet up with a great friend from Boulder who recently started a post-doc at the University of Washington and just had a little baby!  I got to experience the Seattle bus system, which, downtown is underground!!!  How smart!  We had breakfast at an adorable little shack on the river called Agua Verde.  So good!

Then I made my way to the dock via taxi where a giant cruise ship, the Jewel of the Seas, was waiting for me.  Their computer system broke down, but after an hour or so of standing with two heavy bottles of wine in my backpack, and a few students texting to see where I was at, I finally got on the ship.  I eventually started running into students and we passed the word around that we'd meet for dinner before our first class meeting.   Ashara and I toured the boat and she explained cruising to me since I was a novice.  A bunch of us found ourselves outside on the heli pad as we left the port of Seattle until the wind became too much for us dress-wearers to withstand.  We were all super excited for our trip!

As we sat down to dinner, all 14 of us, the ship began to really feel like it was swaying.  It was an odd feeling and we all tried to eat lightly, although I do remember still eating at least two desserts.  There were lots of gluten free options, something I'm not used to.  When we made it to our first meeting, it was in the back of the ship and we got some great views of the mountains, and my third dessert, some ice cream.  We also started to feel a little ill.  There were these pool tables that would stay level as the boat moved, which was pretty weird.  Luckily we were prepared with patches, dramamine, and ginger chews.  I'm a big fan of the patch, but it makes my mouth really dry, which is super annoying.

Saturday was a travel day, a gloomy one, but the only gloomy weather we really had the whole trip, so that's okay.  We met for class in the morning, grabbed some lunch, then went to a lecture on glaciers.  My students and I all agreed that any one of us could have given a more interesting talk and the idea of doing just that on cruise ships in the future seemed like an interesting occupation.  I think we lounged around at the pool before dinner, which was formal.  If my memory serves me right we got to sing some Karaoke and take note of some hidden talents, then we ended up at the dance club.  I think we were all so bored just waiting to get to Alaska that we took drastic measures.  I'm sure they can all agree that clubbing with their professor was probably not on their wish list, but I'm glad they let me enjoy their company.  Some of us have storm chased together, some have been my supplemental instructor, and others I had just met.  It was a great way to break any lingering ice.  (Pun intended.)

Juneau, Alaska
Sunday we arrived in Juneau around noon.  We had an excursion planned called Whales, Glaciers, and Rainforest Trails.  We met up with our guide, Skip, who bussed us to a harbor where we waited for his boat to pick us up.  While there we found a bunch of eagles.  Eagles are old news to me, they are pretty common in northern Wisconsin where I vacation, and apparently even more common in Alaska, but it's hard not to enjoy them.

We got on the boat and got our little safety talk while Skip taught us about the whales we were going to see:  the humpback whale.  This whalewatching was just so amazing.  Right away we found a whale and eventually we had a mom, baby, and a sea lion all playing together.  It was so neat.  The thing is, the scenery was just amazing.  Even without the whales, this place on the water was just beautiful.  Snowcapped mountains everywhere, the sun was out, the water a beautiful color, eagles around.  It was amazing, I couldn't seem to get over how perfect it was!

After a bit we headed back to shore and bussed to a hiking trail through the Tungass National Forest where we learned about moss, fungi, and things you wouldn't expect to exist in Alaska.  Eventually the hike opens to sand, a lake, and the Mendenhall glacier in all of its glory.  We were, again, just in awe.  We snapped as many pictures as humanly possible of the icebergs in the water, the waterfall happening off to the right, the glacier itself, and even a group picture before we had to head back to the bus for our trip back to the cruise ship.  On the way back we passed a little damned up area of a river (no salmon this
time of year) and saw the little beaver responsible.  This little pond made for a neat reflection of the mountains and glacier.  On the bus back to the ship Skip shared some of his photos of the glacier from a long time ago compared to today showing its retreat.

We got back on the ship and caught some buffet style dinner before calling it an early night.  We had another excursion early the next morning.  The ship left port for Skagway.

I'm finding this post as a draft almost 3 years later and am sad that I didn't finish my description of the trip before most of the details were forgotten.  Luckily I have some captioned photos around that remind me of some of the story.  Here's the continuation. 

Skagway, AK:  Davidson glacier canoe trip
Canoe to/from the glacier


Alex enjoying the Davidson Glacier

Density shift from glacial water to sea water

Tracy Arm Fjord and Sawyer Glacier:

Sawyer Glacier

Victoria, Canada:

Whale-watching trip.  We didn't see any whales, but enjoyed other wildlife on the rocks.  

Sea otter

Fata Morgana mirage being enjoyed while whale watching
Mt Rainier in the background of Seattle from the space needle.  

Space needle from inside the glass art museum.  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Climate change myth-busting resources for all!

It was a success!
The Edx MOOC Denial101x Making Sense of Climate Science Denial was a huge success.  We have a 69 page document with student praise and lists of what they learned.  We have videos from students  all over the world talking about how it made a difference in their lives, here's a compilation of some favorites:

It really makes me feel like all of the hard work was worth it!  I spent most weekends this semester working on this course.  Plus, I made a lot of new friends that I hope to continue to work with in the future.  Thanks to John Cook for inviting me to participate!

The videos and the course live on for all to use!
Luckily, it wasn't just a one-time event.  We have the course sitting in self-paced mode so anyone can drop in and check it out:  (It goes live July 1.)  It's still free, you still only need an email address to participate.  You also still don't have to worry about your grades because it's a MOOC.  There's really nothing to lose!

Here's where you come in.  One of our team goals is to make sure that these videos live on and are tweeted, posted on Facebook, and shared any time these myths pop up in main stream media.  Imagine a comments section that's out of control somewhere.  All you have to do is drop the proper video and your point is made!  Imagine every time Donald Trump tweets about it being cold outside so global warming doesn't exist, if his followers would just reply by dropping the video or even just the infographic that proves him wrong.  Frankly, I feel like I explain the same climate myths over and over and over again and I look forward to video-dropping knowledge to save myself some time (and sanity).

This means that the skeptical science team is working to embed these videos into the existing myth debunking system on their website.  We're working on other easy ways to make sure teachers can find our videos and use them in class.  Luckily, all of our videos are freely available on YouTube.

Here's a playlist of the videos I made (hey, it's my blog, I get to self-promote!):  Heat Waves, Wavy Jet Stream, Sea Level Rise, Extreme Weather, Weather vs Climate models, Water Vapor Amplifies Warming, and IPCC Underestimates.

Here's the Denial101x playlists for all of the weeks in the course:

Here's the full list of videos in case you are looking for something specific:

Week 1:  Overview of the climate controversy

Consensus of evidence
Consensus of scientists
Consensus of papers
From the experts: Scientific consensus
Knowledge based consensus
Vested interests
Dragons of inaction
Ideological bias
From the experts: Psychology of denial
Manufacturing doubt
From the experts: Skepticism vs Denial
Media balance-as-bias
Five characteristics of science denial
From the experts: Spread of denial
From the experts: Attack on science
Week 1 wrap up
Full interview with Ben Santer
Full interview with Naomi Oreskes
Full interview with Peter Doran
Full interview with Stephan Lewandowsky
Full interview with Lawrence Hamilton
Full interview with Katharine Hayhoe
Full interview with Michael Mann
Full interview with Eugenie Scott
Scientific Method
Full interview with Ritayan Mitra

Week 2:  Global warming is happening

Week 2 overview
Heat build-up
Hot records
Shrinking glaciers
Greenland ice loss
Antarctic land ice vs sea ice
Cryosphere: Expert Interviews
Building a robust temperature record
Heat in the city
Wavy jet stream
Climate change vs global warming
From the experts: Full interview with Phil Jones
Week 2 wrap up
From the experts: Full interview with Jonathan Bamber
From the experts: Full interview with Fabrice Calmels
From the experts: Full interview with Antoni Lewkowicz
From the experts: Full interview with Eric Rignot
From the experts: Full interview with Lonnie Thompson
From the experts: Full interview with Isabella Velicogna

Week 3:  We are causing global warming

Week 3 overview
Upsetting natural balance
The CO2 rise is man man-made
Taking up residence
From the experts: Carbon cycle
The greenhouse effect
Increasing the greenhouse effect
Reinforcing feedback
From the experts: Greenhouse effect
Structure of our atmosphere
Measuring from space
Daily and yearly cycle
Week 3 wrap up
Full interview with Corinne Le Quéré
Full interview Ed Hawkins
Full interview with Steve Sherwood
Full interview with Luke Barnard
Full interview with Joanne House
Full interview Mike Lockwood
Full interview with Bill Ruddiman

Week 4:  The past tells us about the future

Week 4 Overview
Message from the past
The Little Ice Age
Ancient CO2 levels
From the experts: The past
Medieval warm period
Confused decline
From the experts: The decline
Principles that models are built on
Success stories
Weather vs climate
Climate science in 1970s
Future ice age
Tendency to underestimate climate impacts
From the experts: Climate Models
Week 4 wrap up
The Climate of Middle Earth: Part 1
Full interview with Tim Osborn
Full interview with Andy Pitman
Full interview with Greg Webb
Full interview with Katrin Meissner
Full interview with David Stevens

Week 5:  We are feeling the impacts of climate change

Week 5 overview
Climate is sensitive
Water vapor amplifies warming
The role of clouds in climate change
Methane clathrate feedback
Adaptation takes time
From the experts: Ecological impacts
Polar bears
Ocean acidification
From the experts: Coral bleaching and ocean acidification
Overall impacts
Carbon Dioxide is a pollutant
Agricultural impacts
From the experts: Impacts on society
Extreme weather
Heat waves
Week 5 wrap up
Making sense of the slowdown
The Climate of Middle Earth: Part 2
Full interview with Richard Alley
Full interview with Charlie Veron
Full interview with Annamieke Van De Heuvel
Full interview with Sir David Attenborough
Full interview with Christine Hoskings
Full interview with Kevin Trenberth

Week 6:  Responding to denial

Week 6 overview
Vocal Minority
Worldview Backfire Effect
From the experts: Psychology of denial
Inoculation Theory
Sticky science
Flu Shots
From the experts: Debunking
From the experts: Climate metaphors
Week 6 wrap up
The Climate of Middle Earth: Part 3
Full interview with Dan Lunt
Full interview with Simon Donner
Full interview with Ullrich Ecker
Full interview with Michael Ranney
Full interview with Courtney St. John
Full interview with Mark McCaffrey

Please help us share these videos, especially with teachers who are encouraged to use them in their classes.  Enjoy!

Citation for MOOC:

Cook, J., Schuenemann, K., Nuccitelli, D., Jacobs, P., Cowtan, K., Green, S., Way, R., Richardson, M., Cawley, G., Mandia, S., Skuce, A., & Bedford, D. (April 2015). Making Sense of Climate Science Denial. edX

Update:  Here's a more detailed version of the above list: