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Edward Maibach, James Witte, and Kristopher Wilson

Abstract

Television (TV) meteorologists are a potentially important source of informal climate change education in that most American adults watch local TV news and consider TV weather reporters to be a trusted source of global warming information. In January 2010, we used a Web-based survey of TV meteorologists nationwide to assess the impact of “Climategate”—the unauthorized release of, and news stories about, e-mails between climate scientists in the United States and the United Kingdom—on their beliefs about climate change; the response rate was 52%. Most respondents (77%) had followed the story; 42% of those who did indicated it made them more certain that global warming is not happening. Conservatives (57%) were more likely than moderates (43%) and liberals (15%) to endorse this view (χ2 = 49.89, p < 0.001), and those who believed global warming is not happening (74%), or who did not know (46%), were more likely to endorse the view than those who believed it is happening (25%; χ2 = 108.59, p < 0.001). Multivariate analysis showed that political ideology, belief in global warming, and gender each predicted a negative impact of the story, but certifications from professional associations did not. Furthermore, respondents who followed the story reported less trust in climate scientists (2.8 versus 3.2; p < 0.01), and in the IPCC (2.2 versus 2.7; p < 0.01), than those who had not. We conclude that, at least temporarily, Climategate has likely impeded efforts to encourage some weathercasters to embrace the role of climate change educator. These results also suggest that many TV weathercasters responded to Climategate more through the lens of political ideology than through the lens of meteorology.

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Steven E. Koch, Wayne Feltz, Frédéric Fabry, Mariusz Pagowski, Bart Geerts, Kristopher M. Bedka, David O. Miller, and James W. Wilson

Abstract

Families of solitary waves (“solitons”) associated with two atmospheric bores on the same day were observed by an unprecedented number of ground-based and airborne profiling systems during the International H2O Project (IHOP). In addition, a very high-resolution numerical weather prediction model initialized with real data was used with success to simulate one of the bores and the evolving soliton. The predicted wave amplitude, phase speed, wavelength, and structure compared well to these extraordinarily detailed observations. The observations suggest that during the active phase (when turbulent mixing was active, which was prior to bore collapse), the bores and waves vigorously mixed dry air from above a nocturnal boundary layer down to the surface. Refractivity computed from near-surface radar observations showed pronounced decreases due to sudden drying during the passage of the bores in this phase, but refractivity increases appeared during the period of bore collapse. During both phases, the bores wafted aerosol-laden moist air up to the middle troposphere and weakened the capping inversion, thus reducing inhibition to deep convection development. The model results indicate that the refractivity decreases near the surface were due to drying caused by downward turbulent mixing of air by the wave circulations. Turbulent kinetic energy was generated immediately behind the bore head, then advected rearward and downward by the solitary waves. During the dissipation stage, the lifting by the bore head produced adiabatic cooling aloft and distributed the very moist air near the surface upward through the bore depth, but without any drying due to the absence of vigorous mixing. Thus, this study shows that the moist thermodynamic effects caused by atmospheric bores and solitons strongly depend upon the life cycle of these phenomena.

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