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Scattered Storms... Nice Next Week... Send a DVD to Mars... "Earth Gauge": Spring Migrants, Ozone Hole, Valley Fever

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Updated: 5/12/2013 9:48 am

** SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE **

Happy Mother's Day!......it looks like the best moisture/higher humidity + the location of the cold front will add up to most -- if not all -- of today's (Sun.) showers & t'storms developing south of Jax this afternoon.  Highest risk is near & south of Highway 16 -- Starke, Green Cove Springs, St. Augustine, Palatka, Palm Coast.  This bodes well for "The Players" where only a brief isolated shower could occur.  Winds will become W/NW at 10-20 mph with highs today in the 80s.  Enjoy!

FROM LATE FRIDAY.......

A warm, humid weekend on the way.  An approaching upper level disturbance Sat. afternoon should ignite t'storms across the area which could affect "The Players".  Sunday's rain will continue to be predicated on the exact location of a cold front.  It looks like the cold front will be near the Fl./Ga. border by late morning moving through Jax in the early afternoon.  If accurate, then the heaviest storms Sun. should occur near & south of I-10 with a diminishing trend from north to south late in the day.
Once the front clears the area, the early & middle part of next week will be gorgeous with nice, cool nights returning & pleasantly warm temps. during the day.  Keep an eye to the sky as conditions will change quickly this weekend - click ** here ** to follow me on Twitter.

NASA INVITES PUBLIC TO SEND NAMES AND MESSAGES TO MARS

WASHINGTON --  NASA is inviting members of the public to submit their names and a personal message online for a DVD to be carried aboard a spacecraft that will study the Martian upper atmosphere.

Scheduled for launch in November, the DVD will be in NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft. The DVD is part of the mission's Going to Mars Campaign coordinated at the University of Colorado at Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (CU/LASP).

The DVD will carry every name submitted. The public also is encouraged to submit a message in the form of a three-line poem, or haiku. However, only three haikus will be selected. The deadline for all submissions is July 1. An online public vote to determine the top three messages to be placed on the DVD will begin July 15.

"The Going to Mars campaign offers people worldwide a way to make a personal connection to space, space exploration, and science in general, and share in our excitement about the MAVEN mission," said Stephanie Renfrow, lead for the MAVEN Education and Public Outreach program at CU/LASP.

Participants who submit their names to the Going to Mars campaign will be able to print a certificate of appreciation to document their involvement with the MAVEN mission.

"This new campaign is a great opportunity to reach the next generation of explorers and excite them about science, technology, engineering and math," said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator from CU/LASP. "I look forward to sharing our science with the worldwide community as MAVEN begins to piece together what happened to the Red
Planet's atmosphere."

MAVEN is the first spacecraft devoted to exploring and understanding the Martian upper atmosphere. The spacecraft will investigate how the loss of Mars' atmosphere to space determined the history of water on the surface.

"This mission will continue NASA's rich history of inspiring and engaging the public in spaceflight in ongoing Mars exploration," said David Mitchell, MAVEN project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

MAVEN's principal investigator is based at the University of Colorado at Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. The university will provide science operations, science instruments and lead Education and Public Outreach. Goddard manages the project and provides two of the science instruments for the mission. Lockheed Martin of Littleton, Colo., built the spacecraft and is responsible for mission operations. The University of California at Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory provides science instruments for the mission. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., provides navigation support, the Deep Space Network and the Electra telecommunications relay hardware and operations.

To participate in the Going to Mars campaign, visit ** here **.

Earth Gauge:
Spotting Spring Migrants (Gulf Coast and Southeast)
This is the time of year when migratory birds are on the move!  Migratory birds are traveling from their wintering grounds in Mexico, Central and South America to the U.S. and Canada, where they feast on abundant insects and plant foods during spring and summer.  How do they know when to leave and where to go?

Birds that migrate short distances – such as waterfowl that migrate within the U.S. – learn migration routes and from older individuals who are more experienced, usually family members.  Most long-distance migrants are genetically programmed to head in a specific direction for a specific distance.  A bird’s first long-distance migration is completely genetically determined, but more experienced birds may incorporate information learned on past journeys – for example, they may use learned information to return an especially good breeding location in future years.

Tip: The spring migrants you will see depend on where you live, the time of year and weather conditions. BirdCast -- click ** here ** provides regional, real-time migration forecasts that take weather conditions into account. Widespread precipitation east of the Mississippi River will likely shut down migration this week, whereas clear skies west of the Mississippi will allow for movement. Birds you may spot in the Gulf Coast and Southeast this week include White-rumped sandpiper, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Olive-sided flycatcher, and Warblers (Wilson’s, Mourning and Magnolia).

Check BirdCast for weekly regional updates on weather and migration forecasts.

(Source: Deinlein, M. “Neotropical Migratory Bird Basics.” Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Migratory Bird Center; eBird. BirdCast Migration Forecast: 4-11 May, 2013)

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Climate Fact: Is the Ozone Hole Affecting Earth’s Climate, Too?

When you hear about the Ozone Hole, you probably think about sun burns and skin cancer.  Or, maybe you think about aerosol cans, CFCs and the Montreal Protocol.  You probably don’t picture stronger winds and frothier oceans, but the latest research shows that ozone depletion isn’t just about UV rays – it’s about Earth’s climate as well.  Research has shown that ozone depletion is partially to substantially responsible for reducing Antarctic snowmelt, changing storm patterns and reducing the ocean’s ability to store carbon dioxide – a major uncertainty in climate change projections.

Some of these effects were first discovered in the 1980s when the westerly winds that whirl around Antarctica began to strengthen and move farther south.  Climate models blamed these shifts on stratospheric ozone depletion and rising greenhouse gas concentrations, but scientists weren’t sure which driver played a more important role. A new study of Antarctic wind data used self-organizing maps to identify four repeating wind patterns from 1979 to 2008, and their results show that the wind pattern most readily associated with ozone depletion explained approximately two-thirds of the westerlies’ changes.

Oceanographers, in turn, have long suspected that these ozone-driven wind shifts would also affect the ocean, but they weren’t sure how.  Now, researchers have ironically used the culprits of ozone depletion – CFCs – to trace the ocean’s response. They’ve found that these winds aren’t merely stirring the ocean’s surface, they are accelerating ocean overturning (the process of flipping the ocean’s water upside down like a baker folding dough).  This brings carbon-rich water to the surface that may have been submerged for hundreds or thousands of years.  Now on the surface, this water can “ventilate” and dissolved carbon can be released back into the atmosphere.

(Sources: Sukyoung Lee and Steven B. Feldstein, 2013, “Detecting ozone- and greenhouse gas-driven wind trends with observational data,” Science, 339:6119, doi: 10.1126/science.1225154; Darryn W. Waugh et al. 2013, “Recent changes in the ventilation of the southern oceans,” Science, 339:6119, doi: 10.1126/science.1225411.)

________________________________________

Climate in the News: “Surge in valley fever blamed on climate change” – Washington Post, May 5, 2013 – A hotter, drier climate has increased the amount of dust carrying spores that cause Valley fever, a disease prevalent in arid parts of the U.S., Mexico, Central and South America.

Have a great & safe weekend!

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