The 2010s will go down in history as Earth’s warmest ~ The Washington Post

The planet is also finishing its warmest five-year period as effects are felt from the oceans to the Greenland ice sheet.

Global average surface temperature departures from average for the January-to-October period. (WMO) (World Meteorological Organization)

December 5

The 2010s almost certainly will be the warmest decade on Earth since instrument temperature data began to be gathered in the 19th century (and very likely long before that), according to new data released this week from the World Meteorological Organization. “Since the 1980s, each successive decade has been warmer than the last,” the WMO stated in its provisional state of the climate report.

The WMO also found that the past five years have been the warmest such period on record, as 2019 careens toward the second- or third-warmest year.

The past month tied for the warmest November on record globally, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service, in a statistical dead heat with November 2016 and just behind November 2015. The global average temperature in 2019 (January through October) was about 1.96 degrees Fahrenheit above the preindustrial period.

What’s remarkable about the warmth this year is that there has been no strong El Niño present in the tropical Pacific Ocean, as there was in 2015-2016. Such events tend to boost global average surface temperatures and can reconfigure weather patterns from the United States to Africa and Australia. Typically, the hottest years of a given decade occur when an El Niño is present, but 2019 illustrates the increased role played by human-caused climate change in driving temperatures ever higher.

One trend the WMO pointed to is a sharp uptick in ocean heat content, which is leading to more pervasive marine heat waves.

Marine heat waves in 2019, with the dark red areas denoting the “severe” heat wave category. (WMO) (World Meteorological Organization)

The oceans are the world’s main heat sponge, absorbing more than 90 percent of the added energy building up in the climate because of increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases.

“In 2019, ocean heat content in the upper 700 meters (in a series starting in the 1950s) and upper 2000 meters (in a series starting in 2005) continued at record or near-record levels, with the average for the year so far exceeding the previous record highs set in 2018,” the WMO found.

Marine heat waves can have a cascading effect on marine ecosystems, bleaching or even killing coral reefs, driving out cold water fish species, and causing mass mortality events in iconic marine species such as gray whales.

The effects of warming were observed far and wide. The Greenland ice sheet shed an unusually large amount of ice in 2019, the WMO found, amounting to a loss of 329 billion tons. This was not a record but was well above the long-term average of 260 billion tons per year. Ice melt from land-based ice sheets, including Greenland, are the largest contributor to sea level rise.

This 115-Year-Old Japanese Wave Design Book Made To Inspire Craftsmen Is Still Inspiring Artists Today And Is Now Available For Free

In 1903, Mori Yuzan – a little known Japanese artist from Kyoto – has created a 3 volume book titled ‘Hamonshū’. The books featured various traditional Japanese wave designs and were created to serve as inspiration for local craftsmen. Over a hundred years have passed since the books were published and now you can download and browse them for free on the Internet Archive.

Although the books originally were created as inspiration for the decoration of traditional items, like swords and sculptures, nowadays they can be used for anything you can think of. If you are looking for a neat tattoo design or just want something relaxing to look at, these books might be just what you need.

Check out the traditional Japanese wave art in the gallery below!

More info: Vol 1 | Vol 2 | Vol 3 | h/t

In 1903, Mori Yuzan created an illustration book titled ‘Hamonshū’

The 3 volume book features traditional Japanese wave designs

They were created to serve as inspiration for local craftsmen 115 years ago

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Meet Memo, the Marie Kondo of Fitness ~ New York Times

In a cluttered world of boutique fitness studios and high-end gear, Guillermo Piñeda Morales reminds us that we don’t need much to be our best.


Screen Shot 2019-11-24 at 8.49.20 AM.png

~~~  WATCH  ~~~

Video by Lindsay Crouse, Nayeema Raza, Taige Jensen and

Meet Memo, the Marie Kondo of Fitness

In a cluttered world of boutique fitness studios and high-end gear, Guillermo Piñeda Morales reminds us that we don’t actually need much to be our best.

Memo is a minimalist, so we’ll keep this short. In the Video Op-Ed above, we trail Guillermo Piñeda Morales, a.k.a. Memo. He clocked a 2:28:42 at this year’s Boston Marathon. At age 46, that places him in the top 10 marathon runners for his age group globally. That’s very fast.

The American fitness industry is worth $30 billion, but Memo’s not in on the trend. He won’t pop up in your Instagram #fitspo feed and you won’t get a glimpse of him at your gym. But if you have a resolution to run a marathon sometime, Memo will likely be whizzing past you. This Sunday, he’ll be running the New York City Marathon, bib #477. You can track him on the marathon’s official app. Share your photos, signs and well wishes using #WatchMemoRun on social media.

What’s Memo’s trick? Well, you can find that in the video. But it’s far simpler and cheaper than anything else out there.


Global 5G deal poses significant threat to weather forecast accuracy, experts warn ~ The Washington Post

A satellite image shows a mid-latitude cyclone swirling in the Gulf of Alaska on Nov. 12.  (NOAA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

November 22 at 5:41 PM

A long-awaited international deal governing how the world’s technology companies should roll out 5G technology poses serious risks to weather forecast accuracy, according to data from federal agencies and the World Meteorological Organization.

Negotiators from around the world announced a deal Friday at a meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for how to roll out 5G technology that operates using specific radio frequency bands.

Studies completed before the negotiations by U.S. government agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and the Navy had warned that 5G equipment operating in the 24-gigahertz frequency band could interfere with transmissions from polar-orbiting satellites used to gather weather data. This could make forecasts much less reliable, the reports found.

Specifically, these highly technical analyses concluded that if deployed widely and without adequate constraints, telecommunications equipment operating in the 24 GHz frequency band would bleed into the frequencies that NOAA and NASA satellite sensors also use to sense the presence and properties of water vapor in the atmosphere, significantly interfering with the collection and transmission of critical weather data.

The NOAA report, for example, warned of a potential loss of 77.4 percent of data coming from microwave sounders mounted on the agency’s polar-orbiting satellites.

The agency’s microwave sounders operate at a frequency of 23.6 to 24 GHz, which is close to the frequency that the Federal Communications Commission auctioned off the use of for about $2 billion beginning this past March.

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Why it was so satisfying to watch Fiona Hill take charge

Fiona Hill, former top Russia adviser to the White House, testified Thursday in the impeachment inquiry against President Trump.  (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)
Fiona Hill, former top Russia adviser to the White House, testified Thursday in the impeachment inquiry against President Trump. (Bonnie
Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

November 22, 2019 at 10:49 a.m. MST

I will say this for President Trump: He certainly makes you appreciate smart, accomplished women.

It is not because he appreciates them; we all know by now that the only thing about a woman he appreciates is whatever he can grab. But his bad behavior really does bring amazing women out into the spotlight from where they were formerly working competently but with little fanfare. Reluctantly, because they are far too busy to bother with vainglorious showboating, more and more of them have been compelled to step forward on behalf of a grateful nation to testify — with authority, expertise and conviction — about the corrupt and ill-advised actions of a self-dealing president.

The latest in a long line of amazing, impressive wholly stan-worthy women to make us swoon with their briskly efficient competence is Fiona Hill, an expert in Vladimir Putin’s ways and former National Security Council official. Hill was the star witness in Thursday’s House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearings, not because of any glittery celebrity or grabby cable sound bites but because of the substance of her testimony. She did not have talking points; she just had her deep knowledge and years of experience (and, of course, the bare minimum common sense to know that, yes, two plus two equals four).

Hill had no time for Republican conspiracy-mongering about anyone other than Russia meddling in the 2016 election, and she scolded the GOP accordingly: “In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.” (Translation: Stop being useful idiots.) She also had no time for U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s ill-informed office politics, GOP histrionics or workplace sexism. (She did, however, have time for an I-told-you-so: “I said to him this is all going to blow up, and here we are.”)

It was a humdinger of a day — the word to describe its defining quality might be “pizazz” — and all because of yet another learned, righteous woman with an impressive command of those pesky things called “facts.” Which means Hill joined the ranks of former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. attorney (and, briefly, acting attorney general) Sally Yates, and, yes, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who could fairly be called the OG of smart, accomplished women getting under Trump’s skin. There’s also Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Christine Blasey Ford (you know why), respected writer E. Jean Carroll (Trump knows why), Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), NBC’s Katy Tur and Mika Brzezinski, former Fox and NBC anchor Megyn Kelly, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, House SpeakerNancy Pelosi, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederickson, “The Squad,” a.k.a. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, journalist April Ryan, and Taylor Swift. This is not an exhaustive list.

Comparing Trump to these women is like juxtaposing a dense, properly footnoted scholarly paper to his big-print Sharpie, and just to be clear, it is the Sharpie that is mentally exhausting. Yet it is instructive to realize these women are notable precisely for what he diminishes and dismisses: experience, hard work, credibility. Hill’s cool, crisp testimony was the opposite of Trump’s unhinged Twitter ranting; her calm authority gave us comfort that, yes, there are still people who actually know what they are doing in the executive branch (or at least, there were until she resigned). After an unsettling almost three years of knee-jerk, whiplash governance by a White House led by an impetuous, impulsive wannabe autocrat, it was almost … soothing. It was not just the cavalcade of people on Twitter declaring themselves fans (George Conway) and stans (or in progressive podcast host Zerlina Maxwell’s case: “stannnnnnnnnnnnnnn”), it was Hill’s book suddenly zooming into the Amazon top 100. That is a dense 520-page book on Putin, shipping weight 2 pounds, and yes, of course, I bought it. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Fiona Hill’s most striking impeachment testimony moments
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Former National Security Council Russia adviser Fiona Hill testified on the fifth day of impeachment hearings against President Trump on Nov. 21. (Video: Adriana Usero/Photo: Bonni Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

Even more, the sense of relief and comfort was obvious everywhere. Listen to author Morra Aarons-Mele: “The grown-ups are back: smart and calm, informed and unbiased.” Or journalist Lizzie O’Leary: “Today’s episode of Impeachment really hitting the sweet spot of my personal Netflix algorithm: procedural drama and British female leads.” Or comedian Heather Gold: “Listening to Fiona Hill testify is the most relaxed I’ve felt since election night 2016.”

The point is, it is not just that Hill is impressive. (And don’t call her overprepared!) She is, but it is also the realization of how rare it is to see a person — let alone a woman — like her in this bumbling, ruinous, norm-shattering administration. Trump is all grifty bravado; he plays the strongman even as he withholds his tax returns, pays $2 million in settlement for shorting a charity, callously separates young children from their families, and oh yeah, uses the power and privilege of the Oval Office to push his reelection advantage (a.k.a. for a “domestic political errand,” as Hill put it, much to the chagrin of Stephen R. Castor, the Republican lawyer who unwittingly led her right into that line). Hill is due process and righteous anger, brains and brilliance and fire and loyalty ready to be deployed for her country, now and forever.

It is not just that we are hungry for norms and qualifications. We are desperate for someone competent and principled to be in charge. We want someone smart to tell us it will be okay and that they care.

It was nice, however briefly, to find her.

Study says ‘specific’ weather forecasts can’t be made more than 10 days in advance

November 7 at 10:54 AM

Imagine someone telling you the weather forecast for New Year’s Day today, two months in advance, with exact temperature bounds and rainfall to a hundredth of an inch. Sounds too good to be true, yes?

A new study in Science says it’s simply not possible. But just how far can we take a day-by-day forecast?

The practical limit to daily forecasting

“A skillful forecast lead time of midlatitude instantaneous weather is around 10 days, which serves as the practical predictability limit,” according to a study published in April in the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences.

Those limits aren’t likely to change much anytime soon. Even if scientists had the data they needed and a more perfect understanding of all forecasting’s complexities, skillful forecasts could extend out to about 14 or 15 days only, the 2019 study found, because of the chaotic nature of the atmosphere.

The American Meteorological Society agrees. Their statement on the limits of prediction, in place since 2015, states that “presently, forecasts of daily or specific weather conditions do not exhibit useful skill beyond eight days, meaning that their accuracy is low.”

Pedestrians struggle to cross Evans Avenue near the University of Denver as the season’s first snowstorm swept over the metropolitan area on Oct. 10. (David Zalubowski/AP)

Beyond the limit

Although the American Meteorological Society strongly advises against issuing specific forecasts beyond eight days, popular weather vendor AccuWeather has, for years, churned out detailed predictions many days further into the future. It initiated 45-day forecasts in 2013, which it extended to 90 days in 2016 — and has been heavily criticized for it.

On Oct. 12 this year, AccuWeather even wrote a news feature headlining specific snow forecasts for major cities 30 to 90 days into the future:

AccuWeather’s article, posted Oct. 12, heralded Salt Lake City’s first snowfall on Nov. 18. The article called for 0.42 inches of snow. (

“There will be snow on Thanksgiving or the day after in Chicago, Detroit and Green Bay,” AccuWeather wrote, while also calling for snow around New Year’s Day in Boston, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City.

AccuWeather’s long-range forecasting approach has elicited criticism across the meteorological enterprise for being overly specific and not communicating uncertainty.

“We just don’t have the data available to be able to do [what AccuWeather does],” wrote Beth Carpenter, a consulting meteorologist who owns and operates Thermodynamic Solutions. The forecasts, she said, are “not feasible and should not be trusted.”

We asked AccuWeather for its justification and goals for continuing to issue these forecasts, including the snowfall forecast. “Keep checking the AccuWeather forecast day by day out through 90 days,” responded communications director Rhonda Seaton.

Why does AccuWeather issue such forecasts if they are beyond the bounds of modern-day science?

“Personally, I think it’s marketing,” said Victor Gensini, an assistant professor of atmospheric sciences at Northern Illinois University, who specializes in long-range predictions of severe weather.

“[AccuWeather] is only doing half of the work,” Gensini said. “It’s easy for anybody with social media or a large successful company to do long-range forecasts. … I don’t take any forecast seriously unless there’s a verification that goes with it. If they show they are [accurate], we can start having that discussion.”

When put to the test by outsiders (see here, here, here and here), AccuWeather’s long-range forecasts generally showed no value starting between nine and 11 days into the future (in many cases offering less accurate predictions than historical averages would), right in line with what science says is the limit of such specific predictions.

“These long-range specific weather forecasts are hurting the weather enterprise,” wrote Beau Dodson, a meteorologist who operates his own forecasting business. “This causes a loss of trust in meteorologists.”

How long-range forecasts can have value

Whereas the lines have been drawn as to the limits of highly specific predictions, known as “deterministic forecasts,” meteorologists have developed and continue to advance techniques for more generalized long-range outlooks expressed using likelihoods or probabilities.

You see this with seasonal forecasts, with phrases like “above-average chances of a cool winter” or “below-average hurricane activity is likely.” For example, the federal government’s official winter outlook, released in October, called for above-average chances of a relatively warm winter for much of the United States, but it did not specify precipitation amounts and temperatures each day.

These probabilistic forecasts are an attempt to qualify the likelihood of something occurring. Thanks to a better understanding of how the ocean and atmosphere work, as well as increased computing power, researchers and forecasts have been able to improve these kinds of forecasts.

Gensini, for example, recently published a study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters explaining how his team was able to “anticipate the potential for an extended period of favorable severe weather conditions nearly four weeks in advance” leading up to this past May’s historic tornado outbreak. His forecast was conveyed using probabilities.

The Washington Post is a customer of AccuWeather for weather services and forecasts in its print edition, for predictions no more than 10 days into the future.

Two Poets With Alert and Nimble Eyes on American Life ~ NYT

Credit…Ira Nowinski


“I am writing the Great American Suicide Note,” Bob Kaufman (1925-1986) once declared. He was a street poet, an African-American surrealist and one of the original Beats — he founded a magazine with Allen Ginsberg. Kaufman had a natural aptitude for subversion and distinctive utterance. He was arrested umpteen times in San Francisco on disorderly charges, and spent time in psychiatric institutions. He appeared before the world as if in angry comic dishabille. In a poem titled “Suicide,” he wrote: “The first man was an idealist, but he died, / he couldn’t survive the first truth.”

A new book, “Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman,” is the most comprehensive selection of his verse to date, a volume that contains a lot of previously uncollected work. It reminds us that Kaufman had his weaknesses; his poems could tip over into splintered whimsy. Yet this book makes a case for him as a perceptive and eccentric American original, a man who seems to have fallen out of the sky like a meteor.

Kaufman was among those lucky poets who looked like a poet; he seemed his own voice made dryly manifest. As the writer and curator Raymond Foye writes in an afterword, to gaze at the many photographs of Kaufman is to intuit “the power of one man, small in stature, staring into you with dignity and defiance, tenderness and humor. His face is a map: of Africa, of the West Indies and the Caribbean, of his beloved New Orleans and the birth of jazz. It is the face of a holy man on Earth as a hero and a martyr, in the guise of a hipster and flâneur.”

Credit…Sonny Figueroa/The New York Times


Kaufman was born in New Orleans. He joined the merchant marine as a teenager, then studied at New York’s New School for Social Research before moving to the West Coast. He often didn’t bother to write his own jazz-inspired poems down; his wife, the poet Eileen Kaufman, was wise enough to do that, often scribbling them on napkins and paper sacks.



Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman
Edited by Neeli Cherkovski, Raymond Foye and Tate Swindell
Illustrated. 234 pages. City Lights Books. $19.95.

By Reginald Dwayne Betts
95 pages. W.W. Norton & Company. $26.95.