Some Hurricane Science

Hurricanes are the topic of choice this year given Harvey’s record breaking destruction of the Texas coast and the unusual position of three concurrent North Atlantic hurricanes tracking as I write this. Given the circumstances, some are left wondering why this year is unusual. Not since 2005 have we seen so many powerful hurricanes. And even 2005, those were weaker compared to this year and less frequent. Some of us point to the dangers of climate change, though that is apparently up for debate. In order to understand the role of climate change, it helps to understand a bit of

Irma is Not Category 6, but Could be

As Hurricane Irma continues to gain strength, some have started calling it a category 6 hurricane. The problem with this is the scale only goes up to 5. There are 5 hurricane strength categories and two sub-hurricane strength levels. We can see those plotted below. It is worth asking, if there were a category 6, 7 or even 8, what would that intensity be? What the demarcation point? The plot shows the scale is not strictly linear. There’s a smallish curve that tightens the bands at the top of the scale. In contrast, the Richter scale works the other way,

Making the Things You Buy Better

For reasons too complicated to get into, I am taking a course in environmental chemistry. And that means I will be writing about it occasionally here. Because that’s the kind of thing I do. Acrylamide (ACR) is a common hydrocarbon used in industrial settings and found in some foods fried at high temperatures as well as some fruits. Industrially, ACR is used to manufacture some plastics and is also used in the wastewater treatment process. ACR is also a known neurotoxicant causing peripheral neuropathy. The exact mechanism of ACR on neurological systems is unknown, but some have suggested that ACR

The Effects of Rising Temperatures

As climate change progresses, one of the most obvious effects will be the increasing temperature, overall. That’s why we call it global warming. Right now, the IPCC predicts global mean temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius by the year 2100. Most people focus on the effects of rising ocean. But I gotta say, it’s the rising temperature that’s got me worried. See, I like the cold. I am not happy unless I see a penguin wearing a sweater. So how are we going to adapt to rising temperatures, other than cranking up the air conditioning? Two degrees C doesn’t sound

The Flush Tax Pays Off

I’ve written a couple of posts about protecting the Chesapeake Bay. Actually, I have written a lot of them. But one I have not covered is the Bay Restoration Fund, and it is an integral part of the Bay’s protection regime. Let’s look at why. The Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund is designed to reduce nutrient loading in the Chesapeake Bay caused by wastewater. Like most places, we process wastewater from homes and, after some cleaning, the water gets dumped into a nearby water source. Usually, a stream or river because it will carry away the water. The wastewater cleaning process

Ensuring Water Security

Water security is a complex issue with a lot of independently moving parts. While the earth’s surface is three-quarters water, almost all of that is ocean, unusable due to its salinity. There are limited freshwater resources available for everyday use, consumption by humans and human food products. Global climate change is slowing replenishment of fresh water supplies while there has been no let up in demand. In 2012, the United States created the U.S. Water Partnership (USWP) to help provide access to information about water and provide outlets for collaboration on water improvement projects. Of course, this is only a