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2012-11-14  |  Paul Beckwith

By Paul Beckwith (with input from Matthew Ladd)

A few days ago in Ottawa, the temperature reached 21oC. The old record was 18oC and the average high for this time of year is 5oC. This is not a local Ottawa effect or a one-shot anomaly. Weather records that have stood the test of time for over 100 years are dropping like flies everywhere. What is causing this?

Canada’s main meteorological office generates its weather forecasts by running complex analogical weather prediction models (commonly referred to as the “analog method”). In the analog method the existing state of the atmosphere in a particular region is determined, and then compared against a massive database of atmospheric states for the same time and region in previous years. The closest matches of the atmospheric states are identified, and the forecast is basically obtained by examining how those prior systems evolved over time.

...

2012-10-29  |  Paul Beckwith

Melting Arctic sea ice aims Frankenstorm Sandy directly at the Big Apple

By Paul Beckwith

Frankenstorm Sandy is a scary beast. A hybridization between a tropical hurricane and a mid-latitude cyclone, her behavior is not natural at all. Moving northward off the east coast, Sandy is turning left toward land instead of right toward the sea. Sandy’s being blocked from moving north by a high pressure area of enormous magnitude, and being sucked west by a low pressure region of very exceptional (and highly unusual) strength. Thus the designation “Frankenstorm”.

Because the Earth rotates on its axis, circulating air deflects toward the left in the Southern Hemisphere and to the right in the Northern Hemisphere. This deflection is called the...

2012-10-11  |  Gordon Edwards

 

Gordon Edwards is President of the
Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility
.

 

Increasingly, nuclear power appears be a future technology whose time is past.

This was already evident as far back as 1978 – the last year that a CANDU nuclear plant was ordered in North America.  In that year the Ontario Royal Commission on Electric Power Planning – in its Report on Nuclear Power in Ontario entitled “A Race Against Time” – summed up two years of hearings by saying: “Far from offering...

2012-09-28  |  Paul Beckwith

By Paul Beckwith

Push something and it moves a little. Push it a little more and it moves a little more. This is called a “linearity” response. But sometimes a little push can lead to something totally unexpected! This is called “nonlinearity” and, contrary to what one might think, nonlinearities are inherent in most systems - like our atmosphere, for example. In fact, abrupt and unexpected change happens at some point in most systems - we even have a saying for such unexpected outcomes: a tipping point.

Until recently, our atmosphere and oceans behaved like linear systems: incremental dumping of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere caused incremental changes, like rising temperatures and predictable rates of ice melt. But things are now changing unexpectedly fast – nonlinearity is kicking in! We only have to look at the rapidly vanishing arctic icecap for astonishing evidence.

A few years ago, I felt compelled to...

2012-09-23  |  John Bennett

The climate change issue reached new heights in Canadian public dialogue this week. It wasn’t because of the unprecedented melting of Arctic sea ice this summer, the phony-baloney announcement about Canada’s ‘progress’ toward meeting its greenhouse gas targets, or government’s caving on real regulations for coal plants. Nope, it wasn’t because of any of these worrisome situations.

Fighting climate change was selected by the Harper government for use as an all-purpose distraction -- a fog machine -- for the new parliamentary session. Now it didn’t have to answer to a number of pressing issues (like the rapidly melting Arctic icecap or 1.4 million unemployed Canadians). So when the leader of the opposition rose to ask his first question he was promptly attacked as an economy-destroying peddler...

 
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