Speaking Event: The Art + Science of Climate Change

Climate change is a complex scientific subject with a plethora of data-rich reports that detail its diverse impacts. Not everyone, however, responds to facts and figures or charts and graphs. That is why art can help broaden the public conversation and help create new pathways to understanding this critical issue.

On Monday, February 15th, I will be giving my presentation called The Art and Science of Climate Change for the Park West Camera Club at Soho Photo Gallery in NYC. Blending my two worlds, it introduces the basic science of climate change and explores how artists from around the globe are reacting to its various impacts and possible solutions.

If you are in the area, please stop in and say hello. The program begins at 7 PM.

Soho Photo Gallery
15 White Street
New York, NY 10013

Please contact me to arrange a presentation for your organization.

Snow Does Not Disprove Climate Change

Given the fact that 2015 surpassed 2014 as the hottest year on record and that nearly 200 countries signed an agreement to limit their greenhouse gas emissions this past December, you would think that climate change is an accepted reality. But, it seems that cold weather and snow can still lead some people to question its validity.

While walking across mid-town Manhattan recently, I saw an example of this literally written in snow (see photo below). It is hard to say if the person who wrote it was joking or trying to be ironic, but it made me think of the Arnold H. Glasgow quote, “The fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.”

For more information on how arctic outbreaks and snow events do not disprove global warming, please read my previous post: Cold Winters and Climate Change.

Global warming message written in snow on the back of a car parked mid-town Manhattan, Winter 2016. Photo Credit: Melissa Fleming

Global warming message written in snow on the back of a car parked mid-town Manhattan, Winter 2016. Photo Credit: Melissa Fleming

Groundhog Day 2016

Today is Groundhog Day, the midpoint of the winter season.

On this day, according to legend, the weather conditions for the second half of winter can be predicted by the behavior of a prognosticating groundhog. If the groundhog sees its shadow after emerging from its burrow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If it does not see its shadow, then spring will arrive early.

The practice of using animal behavior to predict future weather conditions goes back to ancient times. The particular custom that we are familiar with in the United States grew out of the old world tradition of Candlemas that German settlers brought to Pennsylvania in the 1880s. Today, many communities across the U.S. and Canada continue this age-old ritual with their own special groundhogs.

The most famous of these furry forecasters is Punxsutawney Phil from Pennsylvania – he was portrayed in the 1993 film, “Groundhog Day”. Here in New York City, our local weather-groundhog is Charles G. Hogg – more popularly known as “Staten Island Chuck”. This year, neither groundhog saw its shadow and both are predicting an early spring.

Long-range forecasts can be a tricky business, so we will have to wait and see what actually happens. Either way, the spring equinox is 47 days away.

Punxsutawney Phil held in the gloved hands of his handler at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, PA. Credit: Syracuse.com

Punxsutawney Phil held in the gloved hands of one of his handlers at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, PA. Credit: Syracuse.com/AP

NYC Monthly Summary: January 2016

January is usually the coldest month on the calendar for New York City, but this year it felt like a weather rollercoaster. We had highs that ranged from an unseasonably balmy 59°F to a frosty 27°F. In the end though, with 19 out of 31 days posting above average readings, the warmth won out. These multiple extended warm spells helped push the city’s mean temperature for the month up to 34.5°F, which is 1.9°F above normal.

On the precipitation side of things, snowfall was abundant. In all 27.2 inches was measured in Central Park this January. Most of this impressive total fell during a single storm – The Blizzard of 2016. This classic nor’easter moved up the coast during one the city’s cold snaps and brought us 26.8 inches of snow – the second largest snowfall total from a single storm on record. On average, the city normally sees 7 inches of snow during the month of January and 25.8 inches for the entire winter season.

Rainfall was also plentiful during the first month of the year. The city received 4.41 inches, which is 0.76 inches above normal. Again, most of this came down during a few heavy precipitation events, including January 10th when 1.8 inches was measured in Central Park setting a new daily rainfall record for the date. As a result of all this precipitation, the city is no longer listed in any category on the US drought monitor.

Temperatures in NYC this January felt like they were on a rollercoaster. Credit: The Weather Gamut

Temperatures in NYC this January felt like they were on a rollercoaster. Credit: The Weather Gamut

Blizzard of 2016: Fourth Most Powerful Snowstorm on Record in Northeast

The blizzard that slammed a large section of the northeastern US, including NYC, last weekend was one of the most powerful winter storms to hit the region in decades.

According to NOAA, the storm was given a value of 7.66 on the Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale (NESIS). That is considered a category 4 or “crippling” snow event.  It was also the 4th most powerful winter storm to impact the northeast since 1950.

Covering 434,000 square miles across 26 states, the storm impacted more than 102 million people. Of those, approximately 24 million people saw more than 20 inches of snow.

The region’s strongest storm on record was the so called “Super-Storm” of March 1993.

Source: NCEI

Source: NCEI

Source: NOAA

Source: NOAA

Blizzard of 2016: The Second Biggest Snowstorm on Record for NYC

A massive winter storm slammed the eastern United States this weekend. With some areas getting more than two feet of snow, records fell across the region.

Here in New York City, a whopping 26.8 inches of snow was measured in Central Park – the city’s second highest storm total since record keeping began in 1869. This storm, according to the NWS, was only one-tenth of an inch shy of tying the city’s all time record of 26.9 inches set in February 2006.

To put this event into perspective, consider that, on average, NYC normally sees 7 inches of snow during the month of January and 25.8 inches for the entire winter season.

The cause of this historic event involved a few key players.  First, an area of low pressure moved up the east coast funneling in relatively warm and humid air from the southeast. At the same time, an area of high pressure to the north pushed cold air south. When the two air masses met, the warmer air was forced to rise and cool. Since cool air holds less moisture than warm air, the moisture was wrung out of the atmosphere as precipitation – snow, in this case. While developing as a classic nor’easter, this storm gained an extra boost of both energy and moisture from a warmer than normal Atlantic Ocean. Sea surface temperatures off the coast have been running about 5°F to 6°F above average for this time of year.

The pressure differences between the low and high also produced powerful winds. In Central Park, wind gusts peaked at 42 mph.

Dramatically ending the region’s so-called snow drought and impacting tens of millions of people, this storm garnered a great deal of media attention. Known by a few different names – The Blizzard of 2016, Winter Storm Jonas, and Snowzilla – this storm will not be forgotten anytime soon, regardless of its moniker.

Credit: NWS/NOAA

Three of the city’s top five snow producing storms have occurred in the past ten years. Credit: NWS/NOAA

What is a Blizzard?

A blizzard is expected to blast a large part of the northeastern United States, including NYC, this weekend. Different than a typical winter storm, a blizzard is characterized more by its winds than the amount of snow it produces.

According to the NWS,  the three key factors in a blizzard are wind, visibility, and time. More specifically, they are:

  • Wind – Sustained winds or frequent gusts of 35mph or higher.
  • Visibility – Falling and/or blowing snow that reduces visibility to ¼ mile or less.
  • Time – Wind and reduced visibility conditions must prevail for at least 3 hours.

These conditions heighten the risk for power outages and often produce whiteout conditions on roadways, making travel extremely dangerous.  Stay Safe!

First Snowfall of the Season for NYC

The first measurable snowfall of the 2015-2016 winter season has finally arrived in New York City!

According to the NWS, 0.4 inches fell in Central Park on Sunday. With the snow sticking only to grassy areas and parked cars, it was not a blockbuster event by any stretch of the imagination.  But, after this winter’s mild start, it was exciting to see flakes fill the air.

This first snowfall arrived rather late by local standards, but it was not the latest. That record belongs to January 29, 1973. On average, the city should have already seen about 9 inches of snow at this point in the season.

First Snowfall of the season in NYC

First snowfall of the season in NYC.  Credit: The Weather Gamut.

Panel Discussion: “The Paris Climate Agreement – Our Take”

Last month’s climate change agreement, COP21, was an historic event. Nearly 200 countries came together and agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions over time. Looking at ways to harness this positive momentum at the local level, the non-proft group, NYC Metro Climate Reality Leaders, is hosting a panel discussion this Tuesday, January 12th, at Civic Hall called, “The Paris Agreement: COP 21 – Our Take.”

As a member of the panel, I will be speaking about the benefits of cross-disciplinary collaborations in the arts and sciences. Offering observations and opinions from their own unique perspectives, my fellow panelists include:

Harriet Shugarman, Founder and Executive Director of Climate Mama will moderate the panel. Mrs. Shugarman and Simone Rothman, Founder and CEO of Future Air, are co-producers of the event.

The discussion begins at 5PM and will be followed a Q&A session. This event is free, but does require registration. Seats are limited.  Hope you can join us.

Civic Hall
156 Fifth Ave, 2nd Floor
(Between 20th and 21st Streets)
New York, NY 10010