• (Belated) countdown to 12/9/2011

    Due to my hectic AGU/Kepler schedule I’ve been unable to post until now… so I’m going to avoid news stories and instead focus on the things I learned at AGU this week.

    3. Like hollywood, planetary atmospheric modeling is all about 3-D these days. We held a session on planetary atmospheres, and it was filled with 3-D models for Mars, Venus, the Archean Earth, snowball planets, exoplanets… and even Titan and Pluto! This is exciting because it means we can study the effects of things such as clouds that can’t be examined in 1-D. However, we also have to be careful not to “over-tune” our models. Until we have more generalized codes that don’t require much tuning, the results from such work need to be viewed as warranted but not the final word…

    2. The properties of water are important to the chemistry of life. Amongst other effects, water allows for high-fidelity information storage and transfer in a chemical system. In other words, water allows us to pass down our genetic code from generation to generation with an extremely low error rate (orders of magnitude lower than my “typo rate.”) More generally, water allows certain bonds to form and break and form and break in the perfect balance for the beautifully complex chemistry we call life. This is what I learned at Tori Hoehler’s excellent presentation on Tuesday evening…

    1. The best “bang for the buck” when convincing the public about the realities of anthropogenic climate change may come from convincing them that a scientific consensus on this topic exists. This is based on a presentation by Ed Maibach that I missed, but heard about at the meeting. However, I was able to look at Dr. Maibach’s organization’s website, which has the polls and reports he was presenting on. Take a look here. Amongst people that are not very worried about climate change, about half say their concern about the topic would increase if 90% of climate scientists “agreed and state publicly that global warming is happening.” This is a significant number of people, as the % of individuals that thought there is no scientific consensus (39%) was almost as great as those that realized there is a scientific consensus (41%). Food for thought, to be sure…

    For those that missed the meeting, or (like me) were there but had a huge itch to be two (or more) places at once… you can watch some of the conferences sessions on demand here:

    http://sites.agu.org/fallmeeting/scientific-program/sessions-on-demand/