Thursday, August 22, 2013

[jules' pics] RMNP

Had to find another Nat'l Park to visit to make the annual pass truly a discount. Luckily, Rocky Mountain National Park was not far away.
Bear Lake
Bear Lake

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/22/2013 08:30:00 PM

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

[jules' pics] Nice marmot

Marmot pretends to be invisible.
Nice marmot
Husband calls out "marmots, marmots!". Marmot wonders if it might not be invisible after all.
Nice marmot
And hippity hops away
Nice marmot
Nice marmot
Nice marmot
Nice marmot
Now cleverly disguised as rock, invisible again. Phew! Safety marmot!
Nice marmot

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/21/2013 09:41:00 PM

Geoscientific Model Development: the world's best journal just got better!

Disclaimer: although I'm one of the founding executive editors, I'm not speaking on their behalf.

GMD was set up about 5 years ago "to promote model development as a serious and worthwhile activity, by providing a home for papers covering a wide range of aspects of the subject." I previously blogged a little about it here on the occasion of it first being included in the ISI list.

We recently got our new impact factor, which now is a shade over 5 - an impressive value that places the journal a whisker behind the front-runner ACP in the EGU stable, and in the top 20 of all of the vast array of relevant geoscience-type journals (according to another ed who looked at the list - it seems broken at the moment). For context, GRL and Journal of Climate are about 4, the JGR family around 3. Basically, little beyond the tabloids and some review journals are more highly cited. Submissions are also still rising strongly. So clearly we were right, there was indeed a gap in the market and by any reasonable measure GMD has been wildly successful.

So we've changed it.

It had always been our hope that papers describing new models would be accompanied by the actual code. This would ensure persistence and traceability of models, and hopefully help to propagate good practice. But as a new journal (and one that was establishing an entirely novel niche) we didn't think we were in a position to require this. And while it was always encouraged, this wasn't enough in practice - only a very small number of authors actually provided the code. Now we are much better established and successful, and have decided it's time to take this step:
The paper must be accompanied by the code, or means of accessing the code, for the purpose of peer-review.
Just to be clear, the reviewers are not required to review the code - this in some cases will be wholly impractical. Some models are massive, and/or tied to specific computer architectures. But the principle is clear. I'm hopeful that this requirement, together with a new mandatory section on wider code availability, should help the push towards open access.

There are various other more minor modifications (eg rationalisation of manuscript types) which we have made in light of what is now several years of experience. The full editorial is here, which also includes a link to the original proposal, as supplementary info.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

[jules' pics] Driving home...

By now, on the way back to Boulder, we'd picked up one or two extra passengers.
Due to my propensity for driving off the road (so says my fussy husband) I wasn't allowed to steer our bus along the relatively precipitous last part of the road to Ouray.
Ouray itself is a good place to stay, with an historical town centre and nice places to eat.
But I'm not sure about these astonishing coffees. I had just a regular latte, which seemed harmless enough.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/20/2013 09:28:00 PM

[jules' pics] Train etiquette

Much like in Scotland, where it is important to dress like your dogs, in Japan you should dress to suit the train on which you are intending to travel

Shonan-Shinjuku Line 

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/20/2013 09:13:00 AM

Monday, August 19, 2013

[jules' pics] Ancient peoples

The 6th bear of the trip was the hardest to spot of all - the inlaws spent some time stomping around in the sun saying it did not exist - it was only visible from a particular angle.
Apparently some of the doodles are older than others.
I wonder why so many of the ancient people are depicted carrying beachballs.
The cool thing about the ancient peoples that lived in what is now the USA, is that quite a lot of their being ancient was done rather recently. This must be great for those who study the evolution of ancient peoples. This (Mesa Verde, in Colorado) is about the same age as the Daibutsu.
Mesa Verde
Mesa Verde

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/19/2013 09:10:00 PM

Sunday, August 18, 2013

[jules' pics] Utah tree #2

Another Utah Tree (dead, naturally) especially for David B Benson.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/18/2013 08:51:00 PM

Monday, August 12, 2013

How to run for fun in the sun

I expect this may be too late for the UK 'heatwave' that was in the news a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, in case it happens again, I may as well write down what I've discovered. Last year we didn't run in July and August, but this year James decided to try to run a marathon in autumn (silly boy) so feels obliged to keep totting up some miles in his legs.

In the cold of winter it is only natural to try to keep warm by getting to your destination as fast as possible. But in the blessed warmth of summer this is not necessary. The goal each week is still to beat your previous time, but the other way around. If last week in 26C you did 1hr 20mins, then this week in 29C you do 1hr 25, or even 30. You can and should further slow yourself down by carrying water. The idea is to run so slowly that you finish feeling like you could run forever. Given the altered goals there is plenty of time for taking in the views, so the run needs to be scenic, and of course as much in the shade as possible. Early morning may be slightly cooler than midday. Dress as naked as is decent in your culture and wear a hat. And that's about it. The astonishing thing is that it actually works. Still not as fun as mountain biking of course.

Oh yes, finally - remember to dodge the very very danger hornets. The air in the woods is thick with them this year.

'Scuse my white belly... 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

[jules' pics] Beach

A break from jules' unpaid advertising of the the US National Parks.

Weather update: it is now nice and warm here in Kamakura. Fiery red sun!
So, for more fun than you can bear, and if you don't want to pay 2 USD to swim energetically at the relatively clean pool, you can get pissed at the beach instead. And thousands do.
By 5pm everyone is getting tired, life guards included, and those that have not already passed away will soon head home.

I'm including this photo just because I'm amazed the panorama worked at all. All I have is some HP photo-stitching software that came with a now defunct printer.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/11/2013 04:22:00 PM

Friday, August 09, 2013

AGU: advocacy or information?

This debate continues to generate more heat than light. I think it's time to attempt to bring some clarity into the proceedings.

One of the main problems (IMO) is the Rorschach-test nature of the original article. "Climate scientists must not advocate". There's a lot of room for people to read their own meanings into this. I'm not blaming Tamsin for this - the original article was necessarily brief and she can't be criticised for not anticipating every possible interpretation and misunderstanding. But I don't think I'm alone in having been repeatedly accused of misinterpreting what she wrote (though she herself has not commented one way or the other), and I don't think it is reasonable for people to throw out quite serious criticisms without being prepared to explain what they actually mean. One obvious way of moving forward is to ask for examples of this advocacy that has apparently cause so much trouble. What does this actually mean in practice?

So here's a test case for you - the recently updated AGU Position Statement on Climate Change (full statement here). Is this an example of climate scientists advocating on policy, outside of their areas of professional expertise? Does it reduce trust in climate science and/or climate scientists? Or are they just stating some fairly obvious and well-established truths?

I think it's obvious enough that (self-identified) climate sceptics will say that yes, the AGU is inappropriately dabbling in politics. Indeed a few of the usual suspects have already indicated as much (h/t Stoat) and I presume their followers will agree. I'm really more interested in the views of those who regard themselves lying in the mainstream in their scientific view - which we can probably take to mean, broadly in agreement with the content of the IPCC report (WG1 of AR4). The AGU is a huge and influential organisation, and probably a large proportion of climate scientists are AGU members at least on an occasional basis - you have to join to submit an abstract to one of the meetings, and it's only $20 anyway. (FWIW, I think my membership has just lapsed, at least my EOS subscription appears to not be working, and I'm not going to San Francisco this time round). So this is rather more than just a theoretical question about some inconsequential bit of fluff on the internet. I'm asking if one of the biggest voices in climate science is behaving appropriately in the opinion of its (real or potential) members.

Tamsin, Steven Phipps, Doug McNeall, I'm looking at you.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

[jules' pics] Utah flowers

option of pink or yellow

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/08/2013 09:05:00 PM

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

2K yatta!

It has only taken us 12 years to work out what every Japanese child knows: in July and August we should swim. It is the only sensible thing to do with temperatures in the 30s and humidity in the 90s. How has it take us so long to work it out?

When I first came to Japan I looked for swimming pools and was surprised to find them uncommon and inconvenient. I sometimes felt a bit sad about it but didn't think of researching further. About a year ago, while we were in the USA, and I didn't feel like running as much as James, I had the idea of swimming. After all a swim suit is even less gear to carry about that running shoes. So I bought a new suit and when we were abroad sought out the pools. Since then I've swam in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Honolulu, New Jersey, Jeju (South Korea). It took a while to get used to swimming again after a decade off. At some point, James, who always likes to beat me at everything, decided he should also give it a go. However James is not a good swimmer. Apparently this is because he is an "athlete" and I am only "fitness" (ie fat to muscle ratio). But he was sufficiently motivated to catch me up that he did some research on pools in Japan. And he discovered Japanese swimming culture. 

This is it:

I'd looked in completely the wrong places. Japanese swimming is outdoors, and only in summer! The outdoor pools are plentiful. There is one near the beach in Kamakura (includes a 50m, a 25m, and two kiddy pools), there is one (25m + kiddy pool) 10 mins ride from work. The one in the photo above is a few miles away near Ishikawacho in Yokohama. The pools open mostly 9am-5pm, 1st July-31st August. So there is no early morning swim before work and what people do for swimming the rest of the year remains a mystery. The strangest ubiquitous rule is that every hour everyone gets out of the pool for 10 minutes, so the lifeguards can pull out the dead bodies. All the pools are very shallow. James has yet to be out of his depth. The most amazing thing is how kind everyone is to everyone else. The pools can be quite full at times, with lots of young kids, but there is no screaming or splashing and no bad behaviour at all. Everyone is just having fun. The Lifeguards (or which there are many) are very courteous. They come up to you and quietly inform you right away when you inadvertently break a rule. I don't mind what rules they have if it enables them to manage so many people. At the Kamakura pool you take you shoes and towel in a bag to the poolside, so you can get quickly shod and run up the hill should there be a tsunami warming. And at least you will have your towel with you even if all your other personal possessions are washed away, which would please Douglas Adams, if no one else.

I'd never swum in a 50m pool before so it took a while to get used to it. With quite a lot of people and wind waves too, it can be a bit choppy. However, first I managed one length, then two and then more. The gates open at 9am, and I can get into the pool by 9:05am so then there are 55mins to swim before one has to get out and rest while they do the ceremonial dredging thing. Obviously the goal is to swim as far as one can in that 55 minutes. I managed the mile (32 lengths) a couple of weeks ago, a frustrating 39 lengths last week, but today completed the magical 2km (40 lengths). This includes a gentle warm up and a mixture of breast stroke and front crawl; really I wasn't going very hard until I noticed I had about 15 minutes to complete the remaining 14 lengths. Then it was a bit of a race against the clock!

Meanwhile, James has been improving my swimming technique considerably, as he finds videos on the internet that are supposed to help him stay afloat. He has actually improved immensely. He can complete lengths of the 50m pool for both breatstroke and front crawl. He can also now swim front crawl faster than my breast stroke!! ...but only for 25m until some freak outside thing prevents completion of the race, like he "gets bored" or "stops" or gets a "lungful of water" or "water in his eyes" or "water up his nose". I have been attempting to teach him too, and have learnt that he is almost as obstinate and difficult a pupil as I am. With all that muscle he surely must have the potential to beat me.  But, in the meantime I get to enjoy really truly being faster than James at a self-propelled sport despite my puny "fitness" body!

Monday, August 05, 2013

[jules' pics] Slickrock

Moab slickrock is anything but - actually quite sticky as rock goes. However, it is famous in the mountain biking world. So it was quite a thrill to visit it for a joggette one dawn. Quite glad I didn't have a mountain bike with me. We saw three in total and they were all moving a lot slower than we were on foot. With its scary angles, it is the sort of course that, for mountain biking, I'd want to gradually build up confidence on over a period of weeks or months. A one-day trip would be sure to be disappointing. Well perhaps when we grow up we can take our MTB tandem to Utah...
running - Moab slickrock
After the exercise we enjoyed a particularly good breakfast in Moab.
breaky in Moab

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/05/2013 02:57:00 PM

Friday, August 02, 2013

[jules' pics] Lizardy

Mother-in-law had me photographing all sorts of things for purposes of identification with my fantabulous 2012 Christmas present, a D600 (Nikon DSLR). Normally I would not have bothered as I knew the objects were too far away, the light all wrong, or the camera settings pushed too far to make a potential photo good enough to hang on the wall. However, it was quite a revelation. Although binoculars give the better experience while you are viewing the wildflife (I "only" have a 300mm lens), the photos enable confirmation of sightings. I was well into this by the time we met the Utah lizards. Previously I'd have thought they were all just the same brown lizard, but I learned that there are many different sorts. Here are two examples:

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/02/2013 01:37:00 PM

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Should climate scientists engage in advocacy?

So, there's this article which is provoking lots of hot air on the twittersphere. And since I haven't blogged much for a while, I might as well add a bit more. This is a bit of a ramble as I don't have the energy for a carefully edited post.

I'm far from convinced by Tamsin's argument. I don't see why climate scientists should abandon their democratic rights (one could even consider them responsibilities) just by virtue of having some slightly better understanding of some aspects of how the world works. Merely writing down the idea makes it sound absurd to me. Of course no-one is required to be an advocate, but I don't recall taking a vow of silence when I was inducted into the hallowed world of the Climate Scientist. And why should climate scientists be singled out for this treatment, anyway? Is it really in the public interest that one entire cadre of people with a particular (relevant) expertise should be excluded from the public debate? If so, surely we should exclude the economists and energy policy experts too, for exactly the same reasons. Who would be left, apart from Monckton-types and assorted hippies and eco-terrorists?
I'm not implying that we should all be advocating things where we are uncomfortable and/or unconvinced. But it's important to be clear about what "advocacy" might mean in the various spheres that we find ourselves. In the UK, perhaps that means a detailed discussion on what particular policy is going to be most effective in controlling carbon emissions. In the USA, it's more likely to be the question of whether one is permitted to accept that anthropogenic climate change actually exists. I think it's highly plausible both that Gavin knows a lot more than his audience, and that Tamsin does not know much more than hers, on their respective debates. While she claims her approach has won lots of friends, I would be interested to see the reaction if she chose to express and defend her "absolutely mainstream" climate science views on her blog, rather than the meta-science that she's focussed on so far. I suspect the sceptics would get markely less effusive in their praise (even though, in the UK, most sceptics are far removed from the caucasian wingnuts seen across the pond).

Finally, the idea that concealing our political views is the way to increase trust in climate science, seems entirely misguided to me. Biases don't go away just by not being talked about.

[jules' pics] Canyonlands

Yes - it's a real packrat! You can tell because it is carrying a pack. Among the paleoclimate community they are famous for their ancient middens found in places like this, so it was nice to at last meet a live one.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/01/2013 04:54:00 PM