How ’bout that weather, eh?

Talking about weather is a great pastime, some countries even consider it one of their defining traits. Talking about weather is the go-to topic for awkward small talk encounters, and talking about weather has even become a popular social media topic. So much so that a Dutch design studio CLEVER°FRANKE decided to analyze trends in weather overlaid with information gathered from social media sites that related how people felt about the weather that day. The result are a series of beautiful and complex graphics, which show that the public tends to have more negative feelings about weather, and that sunshine is a prominent factor in the way most people rate weather.

Complex graphic showing temperature (red), precipitation (blue), sunshine (yellow), windspeed (green), weather rating (number), and social media sentiment (grey circle). The take away messages, people are more likely to say something positive online about the weather, when the sun is out- but generally are negative about weather . Source

Oscar Wilde said that “Conversation [or tweeting] about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” However with the recent extremes in weather, conversations about weather (here are some helpful tips) are actually exciting!

Right now, 72% of the USA is experience dry or drought conditions. A lack of winter snow cover and ongoing drought has primed the vegetation in these states for ignition. High temperatures dry out vegetation and decrease the relative humidity, making it easier for fires to ignite and spread: Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, and Arizona have all experienced wildfires over the past week. Fortunately there is some relief on the way, but things have been pretty bad.

In light of the recent extreme weather events, many are blaming global warming. Phil Plaith has a great post over at Bad Astronomy which tackles that subject

Is all this due to global warming? Hard to say, exactly. However, these conditions are preciselywhat you would expect as the Earth warms: weather patterns change, temperature records get broken, conditions go from normally wet to dry, normally dry to wet.

 

He further wonders, when does weather become climate

“Weather” is what you look at if you want to know if you need an umbrella or not today. “Climate” is what you expect on average for a given day in a given place. Weather changes on short time scales; climate over long ones. But how long?

Weather + time = climate. It’s well past time to start thinking of that “time” as now.

 

When discussing climate change, you are bound to run into a skeptic or two. Fortunately Grist has complied an informative and extensive guide for Talking to a Climate Skeptic, pair that with the guide over at the Contemplative Mammoth on How to Argue with a Scientist, and you should be able to get your point across. And if that fails, just direct them to this tongue in cheek article by Bill McKibben on the Global Warming Hoax.

With all the weather extremes that have been happening lately it is hard not to be in awe of the awesome power of nature. For all its destructive capabilities it still offers up some beautiful moments, like this photo which is taking the internet by storm (groan, sorry). It is oddly appropriate that this heat wave is coinciding with the 66th anniversary of the invention of the bikini. Necessity breeds invention.

 

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