I know everyone is writing and posting about the total eclipse last week. But I still feel the need to put it into words, mostly so I can remember it in the years to come. Viewing a solar eclipse is like going on roller coaster ride in a very busy amusement park: You wait in line for hours, enjoying the scenery, the snacks, and the company of friends. Then you strap into a cart and whoosh! It’s over in 2 minutes, before you even know what really happened. Afterward, you have the choice of hopping on the slow ride to watch the sun wax back to normal, or heading to your car in hopes of beating the traffic home.
(Alternative title: How I became a climate scientist). I’m back! After a long hiatus (also known as ‘spring semester’), I’m getting ready to publish a few posts that have been in the works for some time. This post, in fact, has probably been ‘in the works’ for more than 25 years.
I recently gave a talk to a group of faculty at my university. I was asked to speak about my work, but also share a bit about how I got into climate science in the first place. I started with this cover from Time Magazine – January 1989.
This was the magazine cover that changed my life. Continue reading
A couple of weeks ago the major outdoor retail chain, REI, announced that they would close their doors for Thanksgiving AND Black Friday, pay their employees, and encourage everyone to go out and enjoy the great outdoors. I think this is awesome, and I applaud this move. In fact, it makes me want to do all my Christmas shopping at REI, so maybe that was the point. But how many people really care?
Imagine cruising into a tiny, protected bay, where the water laps gently on the rocks. Your vision is saturated with shades of blue, from the sky and the water, and shades of red, brown, grey and purple of volcanic cinder cone – you begin to feel like you’re on another planet. This is the small islet of Bartolomé in the Galapagos.
I felt as though I had walked into an episode of National Geographic. There it was, the famous blue-footed booby, less than 5 feet away, contentedly situated atop a small rock, and staring at us with alien eyes. He didn’t even blink as cameras shuttered and beeped. I’m guessing that this particular booby – and every booby on North Seymour Island – is already featured in thousands of photo albums and Facebook pages.
The blue-footed booby, along with the giant tortoise, are the iconic creatures of the Galapagos. Although, iguanas and sea lions are prominently featured. And if you’ve ever studied biology, you’ve heard of Darwin’s finches. Yes – that’s right – the Galapagos Islands is the place that inspired Charles Darwin to formulate his theory of evolution. I’ve met enough people who don’t quite know where the Galapagos are, that this warrants a short geography lesson before I go much further. Continue reading
Imagine a high, windswept, rolling plain, with tall grasses sprouting from spongy soil. This is a place where you can watch the clouds and feel them engulf you before they scurry past, as they race to the next mountain top. The sky here is ever-changing, offering an occasional glimpse of blue, where wispy cirrus cruise by at a leisurely pace high above compared to the ragged cumulus and foggy patches that race by just above your head.
The Ecuadorians have a saying ‘Abril, aguas mil.’ (And lodo=mud.) The direct translation is roughly: April – a thousand waters (and I added the part about the mud). You get the idea – it’s basically the same sentiment as ‘April showers bring May flowers.’ True to form, the atmosphere has delivered us aguas mil this month. For that matter, March was also a month of aguas mil. I have become accustomed to donning rain gear, boots, and marching out of the house with my giant umbrella (mi sombrillo gigante!) that I purchased on a street corner in a moment of soggy desperation sometime back in March. Everyday I wish we could send some of this deluge off to California, where people actually need the water.
There is something about a windswept, lonely place that draws me in. It’s the escape from the bustling crowds and the diesel. Living in Ecuador’s third largest city is sometimes a challenge simply because it is a city. When I first arrived, I thought I was suffering from culture-shock. I think a lot of the shock was simply adjusting to city life. I’ve adapted, but I still need to escape regularly – to breathe fresh air and wipe the grime from my face.
New Zealand has the Middle Earth claim-to-fame. But the Andes could have easily played a starring role as the Misty Mountains in Lord of the Rings.
Just in time for Easter, this post has a little religion and a little science all in one! Not that I ever mix the two, but sometimes it’s interesting when they stand side by side.
Last Thursday I took my first pilgrimage up the mountain with colleagues to check out one of the weather stations. We drove about 30 minutes up toward Cajas National Park, west of Cuenca. I was excited to get out in the countryside, having been cooped up from all the rain these past couple of weeks.
(A post for the science geeks! And for anyone who’s curious!) After a very hesitant start, the folks at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration made it official earlier this month: El Niño is here! If you remember back to my post on Why Ecuador? I’ve always wondered, what would it be like to be in the tropics, in a country heavily impacted by El Niño, during an El Niño event? El Niño is one of the reasons I’m interested in weather and climate in Ecuador.