Monday, December 24, 2007

What will Santa do when the North Pole melts?

While searching online for something else, I came across this prescient song about the North Pole melting. It was written in 1988 by Captain Sea Level (from the Environmental Protection Agency). Here is the chorus.

When the North Pole Starts to Melt?
What is gonna happen to his little elves?
Will they be too busy swimming to make the toys?
And what will Santa do?
If the North Pole melts too fast
Is this Christmas gonna be his last?
What will parents have to tell their girls and boys?

Friday, December 21, 2007

I-35: A Highway of Holiness

A group of religious evangelicals is trying to name the highway that goes through Norman, Oklahoma, the Highway of Holiness.

Remember that the National Weather Center is just a few kilometers away from I-35! Blessed are they who attempt to forecast and understand the weather!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The book I am writing

Some people know that I am writing a book on improving your scientific communication skills: writing journal articles, giving conference presentations (oral and poster), and writing reviews. The progress has sputtered from time to time with activity. This holiday season I hope to really make progress. Just this week, I finished at the 80% level, several key early chapters. Yesterday I made substantial progress on the chapter on references and citations. I hope that I can proudly announce the publication of this book in early 2009. Watch this space for details!

Declining Arctic Sea Ice

Image from The Crysophere Today at the University of Illinois

Does it rain more on the weekends?

When I first arrived in Norman, Oklahoma, for my postdoctoral fellowship in 1996, one of the first projects I started on my own was to see if it rained more on the weekend. In 1998, I published my preliminary results in the science humor journal, Annals of Improbable Research. (Link to that paper here.) Finishing up the formal publication of that paper took a lot more time and statistical prowess than I had. Eventually, the work was shelved in 2001.

Occasionally, I had received interest in this work. Maxim magazine even published a short interview with me on the topic for their Q&A section.

When I got to FMI, Ari Laaksonen and Doug Worsnop encouraged me to complete the research. Ari's graduate student Santtu was enlisted and off we went. We found no significant weekly cycles in precipitation at 222 stations across the United States, the most comprehensive assessment to date. Our work was published this month in Geophysical Research Letters.

Schultz, D. M., S. Mikkonen, A. Laaksonen, and M. B. Richman (2007), Weekly precipitation cycles? Lack of evidence from United States surface stations, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L22815, doi:10.1029/2007GL031889.

FMI made a press release that was picked up by the Helsinki Sanomat. Nature magazine, which wouldn't publish the paper, was happy to cite the work on their news site.

A recent paper in press by Bell et al. at Geophysical Research Letters claims to have discovered a weekly cycle, only in the summer in the southeast US, and only since the 1980s.

Looks like the fat lady hasn't sung yet on this topic...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sunset in Helsinki

Just minutes ago, I snapped this photo from our apartment.And here's another one about ten minutes later...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Great photos

Mary sent me this link to Pekka Parviainen, a Finnish photographer and his photos. Lots of night sky photos, atmospheric phenomena (mirages, noctilucent clouds), and other outdoor nature photos.

Finnish Independence Day

Thursday December 6 was the 90th birthday of Finnish Independence. Yvette and I decided to celebrate by watching the Finnish movie "The Man Without a Past", which I received on my birthday from Jenni. It was a rainy day, so most of the outdoor activities like parades and candle-light vigils we missed out on. Even so, we couldn't find any information online about the times of these events, at least in English. That night, we went out to Savotta, a Finnish restaurant downtown and had a wonderful dinner. When we got back, we watched part of the presidential ball and saw Prof. Markku Kulmala on the TV.

Friday, December 07, 2007

US teens are 29th in science...Finland is number one

From the US perspective: Christian Science Monitor article

From the Finnish perspective: Helsinki Sanomat article

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Boss in Helsinki

Bruce Springsteen is coming to Helsinki's Olympic Stadium on July 11, and I've got tickets to see him!