Monday, February 28, 2011

Defense! Woot! Woot!

Well, I successfully defended my thesis. I would say posting will resume soon - but it won't because I am traveling for the next 6 weeks! Woohoo! I am going to Peru for 2 weeks, Japan for 2 weeks, and then China for 2 weeks. All for pleasure. Then I start working in May. I hope to resume sporadic blog posts then, at the very least, to blog about some of my trip! Have a great couple months everyone! -Melody

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Framework for Science Education

Came across this draft of "A Framework for Science Education" from The National Academies. I'm still skimming through it on my work breaks, but so far - good stuff! I've always thought our K-12 education system needed some revamping, with more focus on critical thinking skills. So far these recomendations are in line with changes I would like to see made. I'll post an update if I come across something I disagree with and any comments I have for their earth science topic recommendations.
Web page:
Conceptual Framework for New Science Education Standards

A Framework for Science Education

They also have a brief survey to take if you are interested in providing feedback.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Oil Spill Cleanup Link

In searching for an unbiased article on whether burning ocean oil spills is the best solution, I came across this article discussing their cleanup. It does a decent job of discussing burning & some alternatives. I don't think they do a very good job discussing the benefits and problems with bioremediation based on my knowledge of land based bioremediation. But, they do cover nutrient limited reactions an important problem in many bioremediation strategies.

It's from an interesting source as well - The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Limited. Besides oil spill cleanup consultation it looks like they also compile data on all oceanic oil spills. I like seeing diagrams like this - oil spills decreasing over time!

Quantities of oil spilt over 7 tonnes between 1970 - 2009

I am still on a quest for a good article discussing the pros and cons of burning oils spills and the alternatives. Anyone have a better article?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Couple of links

Just a couple of links I found interesting...

An FAQ about oil spills:

Lightening/Charging in Sandstorms - too big or too little won't charge:
The Nature Physics article is behind a paywall, but here's the link for those of you with access

And if you aren't looking at all the Eyjafjallajokull shenanigans going on, what have you been doing?
I could just keep posting links... You get the idea.

Update - I forgot one. AGI's Geoscience Currents:
I am familiar with many parts of AGI's web site, but this was new to me. AGI's Geoscience Currents are webinars, links, and discussions on "quick snapshots of data released by AGI on the status of the geoscience workforce." Check it out.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Geologic Heroes: Avalanche Forecasters!

I recently changed decided to change the topic of this post after reading that there was another snow avalanche fatality in MT this week. I’d like to thank my local geologic hero – the Avalanche Forecaster.

During ski season I rely heavily on the experience and field reports that our local Avalanche Center puts out. They describe the locations they visit, the past, present, and future weather, current snow conditions, the stability of the snowpack as they and others have observed, and the presence of natural and human triggered avalanches. Not only do their reports give me a head up on good (or bad!) skiing over the years it has given me a healthy respect for avalanches & backcountry skiing (or snowmobiling).

I know how to evaluate the snow pack and slope stability from taking classes and working with snow scientists in our department. But the Avalanche Forecasters tireless work paves the way for me to pre-plan what angle slopes I MIGHT be able to ski, what aspects I MIGHT be able to ski, and what days I should just stay home! Without their evaluation of the snowpack on a day to day basis, I would be less prepared for what slopes were wind-loaded the week(s) before and what layers I should be expecting in the snowpack.

I don’t mean to make their work seem like they just make my life easier and improve my success at getting to ski the backcountry. They do. But, they do so much more. They have helped me to understand the human factor in all of this. I may have worked my butt off to get someplace to ski, but if I see the signs of instability, it means I should go home or ski on lower angled slopes. We all feel the drive to ski bigger and better slopes, but because of their daily reports I have learned there is a time and place for everything.

This year our snow pack has been particularly unstable, with twice the number of avalanche occurrences as last year. We have had some close calls here in MT and unfortunately a few losses as well. These forecasters work tirelessly to educate the public on what the snow pack is like in our area, how to evaluate the snowpack on slopes you are considering skiing, and when you should suppress your desires to ski that sweet, sweet line and retreat to safer terrain; leaving that line for another day in safer conditions.

I have provided a sampling of some of their work in the links below. This 10 minute YouTube video provides a brief intro into avalanche safety and the job that they have to do – trying to mitigate the human factor. This was of particular concern when a ski resort opened it’s boundaries for easy backcountry access (a National Forest Service policy).

Stay Alive! From the Avalanche Guys

This other video describes a huge avalanche on some very popular terrain that slid – fortunately without incident. But, if it had happened minutes earlier or later there would have been fatal consequences. This town hall meeting tries to show the public the danger they were in and the rescue work that goes into such an event. They try to get you to reconsider skiing that terrain in such conditions. Maybe you were willing to accept the risk. They are ok with that. They are just trying to educate the public about the risk they were putting (and continue to put) themselves in. Worth a look and a listen if you have the time.

Saddle Peak Avalanche Q & A Part 1 (10 minutes)

Saddle Peak Avalanche Q & A Part 2 (66 minutes)

For more information on Avalanche Forecasting see and my local forecasters: including their YouTube video archives.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Writing recommendations... Advice?

It looks like some of us may be getting together to write a recommendation for the AWG Outstanding Teacher Award. Many of us have not written recommendations before and I was wondering if the geoblogosphere had some advice. Namely some examples or PDF's on how to write a GREAT recommendation. This colleague is well deserving of the award and we want to give her the best possible chance of winning. I'll do some digging myself and post what I find. I have an article on the subtleties of language chosen to describe someone that make a big difference on how someone perceives the recommendation.

Also, if anyone has submitted a recommendation for a similar prestigious award, what was your experience with the process?

JournalFire - An Online Journal Club?

While at school I started a geology journal club where we would get together once a week and discuss a short article. This is good practice for communicating an argument and defending that position. The one thing I learned early, is that you should pick a controversial paper to discuss - so you HAVE something to discuss. It's a really boring meeting when everyone sits around saying "yeah, good article" or "I agree with everything." Even with beer involved it's hard to generate discussion from a really good paper.

I bring up Journal Clubs because I came across a link to this product JournalFire. It is an online forum for posting what you are reading, what you think of it, and provides an opportunity for others to comment back and forth. An online journal club. I would still prefer the personal interaction that comes from a journal club meeting, but for those long distance colleagues that want to have that same sort of communication this looks like a great resource. Has anyone used this?