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Westward Idaho

Idaho Storm

A storm boils up boils up in Idaho, May 23, 2015.  Credit NOAA-NASA GOES Project

Western Montana typically gets thunder weather from the southwest, from Idaho.  This video assembled from data at the NOAA-NASA GOES Project shows a relatively rare phenomenon, a low pressure system pulling moist air from the northeast – from Montana – into a slightly warmer Idaho, where it blows up into a towering cloud as the sun sets in the west, May 23, 2015.  There’s a considerable amount of wind shear, with upper level flow pulling the highest clouds to the southeast.  This wall of cloud lit up yellow and orange by the setting sun must have been quite impressive-looking to the relatively few witnesses that live in central Idaho.

I assembled the gif while learning how to batch process large numbers of photos in Adobe Photoshop CS2 – I let the software crop and autocontrast a large series of photos rather than doing it myself one by one.   It was assembled as a gif in Adobe Imageready CS2.  It’s slightly older software, but powerful and fun to use.  And for some reason Adobe gave it away for free.

Lolo Complex Fires Blow Up

Lolo Complex of fires from Aqua satellite, 2:00 MDT 8/19/2013, courtesy NASA/GSFC, Rapid Response

Lolo Complex of fires from Aqua satellite, 2:00 MDT 8/19/2013, courtesy NASA/GSFC, Rapid Response

The Aqua satellite happened to capture a picture of the Lolo Complex fires at exactly the same moment they “blew up in perfect conditions,” according to the Missoulian.  I had to stitch together the version above from the edges of this image, and I didn’t bother to do any spherical correction or anything, so you may notice a few weird artifacts.  The 22-mile Canyon Ferry Lake in the lower right corner can be used for scale.

Broken Time Machine Redux

Having posted about GlacierWork’s stunning photos documenting glacier declines in the Himalayas just a few months ago, I was caught off guard by a new paper that suggests the glaciers in the Karakoram range are getting bigger.  The Karakorams are actually just the northwestern extension of the Himalayas, and GlacierWorks posted numerous photos documenting glacier decline there over the last century or so.    For instance, look at the colorized version of this 1909 photo, originally black and white, by Vittorio Sella of Concordia, the junction of the Baltoro and Godwin-Austin glaciers:

A glacier-filled valley

Concordia, 1909, by Vittorio Sella

It wouldn’t be a broken time machine without the weird color artifacts, like the fractal blue “lightning” in the upper right corner, due to differences in the positions of objects (especially clouds) in the current photo the colors came from:

Godwin-Austen & Upper Baltoro Glaciers 2009

Concordia, 2009, Click to see full size at GlacierWorks

It’s patently obvious that the glacial volume has decreased substantially in a century.  The new paper by Julie Gardelle, Etienne Berthier, and Yves Arnaud in Nature Geoscience compared satellite data between 1999 and 2008 and reported a mass gain (technically, an increase in ice volume).  Of note is how their last data was collected in 2008 and the most recent GlacierWorks photo is from 2009.  Apparently, after a decade of weight gain, the glaciers are still looking thinner than they did a century ago.  So while it is interesting that these glaciers are currently bucking the trend amongst sub-polar glaciers, it is far from certain that they can keep it up.  I also think this demonstrates that scientists are completely willing to admit “global warming” is not a monolithic trend, and that regionally some odd things can happen.  That’s why the preferred term is “climate change.”

Visiting Everest in a Broken Time Machine

Everest and Main Rongbuk Glacier

Mallorie's Original 1921 Everest/Rongbuk Photo

I was quite pleased to stumble upon a series of photographs taken in the Himalayas by David Breashears and his GlacierWorks team  in late 20007-8 from the same vantage points as black and white photos from as far back as 1899.  I realized that I could borrow the colors from the new photographs and apply them to the old photographs.  The thought of placing a color camera in the hands of George Mallory (of “Because it’s there” fame) as he faced the Rongbuk Glacier in 1921 was thrilling.  I did not want to do any airbrushing – the color added to the old photo should be as true as possible to the new photo.  I split the colored version into color, hue, and lightness channels, I then combined them back together using the old 1921 photo in place of the lightness.  The result was close to what it must have looked like in 1921, with odd exceptions.  A small purple anti-cloud hangs over Mt. Everest.  A few minor snow fields that existed in 2007 but not 1921 show as bizarrely colored stripes or dots – the algorithm used to extract hue and saturation values has the same problem a human does when pondering what the color of white is.  Continue reading →