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Edward Maibach, Raphael Mazzone, Robert Drost, Teresa Myers, Keith Seitter, Katharine Hayhoe, Bob Ryan, Joe Witte, Ned Gardiner, Susan Hassol, Jeffrey K. Lazo, Bernadette Placky, Sean Sublette, and Heidi Cullen

Abstract

Findings from the most recent surveys of TV weathercasters—which are methodologically superior to prior surveys in a number of important ways—suggest that weathercasters’ views of climate change may be rapidly evolving. In contrast to prior surveys, which found many weathercasters who were unconvinced of climate change, newer results show that approximately 80% of weathercasters are convinced of human-caused climate change. A majority of weathercasters now indicate that climate change has altered the weather in their media markets over the past 50 years, and many feel there have also been harmful impacts to water resources, agriculture, transportation resources, and human health. Nearly all weathercasters—89%—believe their viewers are at least slightly interested in learning about local impacts. The majority of weathercasters are interested in reporting on local impacts, including extreme precipitation and flooding, drought and water shortages, extreme heat events, air quality, and harm to local wildlife, crops and livestock, and human health; and nearly half had reported on the local impacts in at least one channel over the past 12 months. Thus, it appears that a strong majority of weathercasters are now convinced that human-caused climate change is happening, many feel they are already witnessing harmful impacts in their communities, and many are beginning to explore ways of educating their viewers about these local impacts of global climate change. We believe that the role of local climate educator will soon become a normative practice for broadcast meteorologists—adding a significant and important new role to their job descriptions.

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Piers Sellers, Forrest Hall, Hank Margolis, Bob Kelly, Dennis Baldocchi, Gerry den Hartog, Josef Cihlar, Michael G. Ryan, Barry Goodison, Patrick Crill, K. Jon Ranson, Dennis Lettenmaier, and Diane E. Wickland

The Boreal Ecosystem Atmosphere Study (BOREAS) is a largescale international field experiment that has the goal of improving our understanding of the exchanges of radiative energy, heat, water, CO2, and trace gases between the boreal forest and the lower atmosphere. An important objective of BOREAS is to collect the data needed to improve computer simulation models of the processes controlling these exchanges so that scientists can anticipate the effects of global change.

From August 1993 through September 1994, a continuous set of monitoring measurements—meteorology, hydrology, and satellite remote sensing—were gathered overthe 1000 × 1000 km BOREAS study region that covers most of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Canada. This monitoring program was punctuated by six campaigns that saw the deployment of some 300 scientists and aircrew into the field, supported by 11 research aircraft. The participants were drawn primarily from U.S. and Canadian agencies and universities, although there were also important contributions from France, the United Kingdom, and Russia. The field campaigns lasted for a total of 123 days and saw the compilation of a comprehensive surfaceatmosphere flux dataset supported by ecological, trace gas, hydrological, and remote sensing science observations. The surface-atmosphere fluxes of sensible heat, latent heat, CO2, and momentum were measured using eddy correlation equipment mounted on a surface network of 10 towers complemented by four flux-measurement aircraft. All in all, over 350 airborne missions (remote sensing and eddy correlation) were flown during the 1994 field year.

Preliminary analyses of the data indicate that the area-averaged photosynthetic capacity of the boreal forest is much less than that of the temperate forests to the south. This is reflected in very low photosynthetic and carbon drawdown rates, which in turn are associated with low transpiration rates (less than 2 mm day−1 over the growing season for the coniferous species in the area). The strong sensible fluxes generated as a result of this often lead to the development of a deep dry planetary boundary layer overthe forest, particularly during the spring and early summer. The effects of frozen soils and the strong physiological control of evapotranspiration in the biome do not seem to be well represented in most operational general circulation models of the atmosphere.

Analyses of the data will continue through 1995 and 1996. Some limited revisits to the field are anticipated.

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