Earth as 1989 Planet of the Year – We’ve come so far. Not.

(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.


The cover of Time Magazine: January 2, 1989

This was the magazine cover that changed my life. Continue reading

Oh, wait…What did I just say?


Learning to communicate effectively in another language is like putting together pieces of a mosaic. There are so many little details to consider – sometimes you’re able to see the beauty in the big picture, but you may not understand exactly what it all means. (Photo from the Quito Basilica – Feb 2015)

“I have already lost my meal,” I say as the waitress walks up to the table. I don’t realize what I’ve said until she looks at me a little funny. Of course, I really meant to say, “I have already ordered my meal,” but the Spanish verbs for ‘to lose’ (perder) and for ‘to ask for, or, to order’ (pedir) are too close in my head, and I constantly mix them up. If you’ve spent any amount of time trying to communicate in another language, you’ve certainly had moments of enlightenment where you realize exactly how silly you probably just sounded.

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Learning to write all over again

I might be crazy, but I’ve decided to keep a blog in Spanish. I’m not linking it to FB – but if you want to read it, you can find it here: A Través de la Niebla (Through the Fog). Actually, if you speak Spanish, I’d appreciate feedback from time to time. Learning to write in another language involves going through the process of learning how to write all over again. I suddenly feeling a lot of empathy for my students – all those times I’ve returned papers slathered in red ink.

The theme photo for my Spanish-language blog 'Through the Fog' - courtesy of the California landscape.

The theme photo for my Spanish-language blog ‘Through the Fog’ – courtesy of the California landscape.

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On Being A Student…Again

I have a secret. One I’d rather not let any of my students know about. But I figured I should get it out in the open. In July I was attending a week-long workshop in Boulder at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. I signed up for the workshop with my grad student, so we could learn how to use a popular weather research and forecasting model to study climate. Each day we had ~6 hours of lecture, followed by an afternoon lab/practice session. The lectures covered everything from how to operate the model, to discussions of the theory and physics behind it. Each day: 6 hours of lecture. Guess what happened? Continue reading