Archives for October 2013

Crossley Britain and Ireland Blog Tour Kicks off on Monday! Here’s the complete schedule.

Crossley GB&Ire blog tour logo 250px (srgb)We are, once again, partnering with a stellar group of bloggers to celebrate the launch of The Crossley ID Guide: Britain and Ireland. The complete schedule of articles is below. Please support our partners by visiting their sites and reading their articles. You may also enjoy this free ebook assembled by Richard Crossley on The Common Garden Birds of Britain and Ireland.

Monday, November 4

Fair Isle (http://fair-isle.blogspot.co.uk/) – Blue and Great Tits – not common up here on Fair Isle

Tuesday, November 5

Birding Ecosse (http://birdingecosse.co.uk/birding-ecosse-blog/) – Scoters and Long-tailed ducks

Wednesday, November 6

Birding Frontiers (http://birdingfrontiers.com/) – Seabirds of Flamborough

Thursday, November 7

Another Bird Blog (http://anotherbirdblog.blogspot.co.uk/) – Wildfowl and waders of the N-W

Friday, November 8

The Biggest Twitch (http://www.thebiggesttwitch.com/diary) – Some classic Welsh birds: Pied Flycatcher, Common Redstart, Wood Warbler, Black Grouse and Chough

Saturday, November 9

10,000 Birds (http://10000birds.com/category/birds) – British and Irish avian visitors in the USA (with an opportunity to win a book!)

Sunday, November 10

Mark Avery (http://markavery.info/blog/) – Pipit ID-ing and THE LINNET

Monday, November 11

Ireland’s Wildlife (http://www.irelandswildlife.com/wild-blog/) – The Birdwatch Ireland Garden Bird Survey: how you can help monitor Ireland’s garden birds

Tuesday, November 12

Bird Words (http://www.birdwords.co.uk/) – Gull ID-ing

Wednesday, November 13

The Drunk Birder (http://thedrunkbirder.wordpress.com/) – Winter thrushes

Thursday, November 14

Derek BirdBrain (http://derekbirdbrain.blogspot.co.uk/) – Using the ID Guide in the field

Friday, November 15

The Urban Birder (http://urbanitybirder.blogspot.co.uk/) – Ring Ouzel

RSPB Nature’s Home (http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/ourwork/b/natureshomemagazine/default.aspx) – Wild Geese

Thursday, November 21

19.00-20.00 GMT, Shindig event – this is a live internet video chat presentation to which all are invited (the capacity is limitless!). Dominic and Richard will discuss the book and take questions from the audience. Details and RSVP: http://shindig.com/event/crossley-id-guide

 

[Now closed] Princeton University Press is also giving away 5 autographed copies of The Crossley ID Guide: Britain and Ireland. Enter to win here. [Now closed]

 

37 presses (including PUP!) will kick off University Press Week (November 10-16) with a blog tour #UPWeek

Capture

Click to view a larger version of the schedule

Next month, the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) will celebrate University Press Week November 10-16. This week started back in the summer of 1978 when President Jimmy Carter proclaimed a University Press Week “in recognition of the impact, both here and abroad, of American university presses on culture and scholarship.”

In the spirit of partnership that pervades the university press community, Princeton University Press and 36 other presses will unite for the AAUP’s second annual blog tour during University Press Week. This tour will highlight the value of university presses and the contributions they make to scholarship and our society. Individual presses will blog on a different theme each day, including profiles of university press staff members, the future of scholarly communication, subject area spotlights, the importance of regional publishing, and the global reach of university presses.

The tour will run November 11-15, and comes to our blog on November 15, with a post by Press Director Peter Dougherty reflecting on his trip to the Frankfurt Book Fair. For a complete University Press Week blog tour schedule click here. And if you want to look back at what we did last year, you can re-read this fantastic interview with Dorothea von Moltke the owner of Labyrinth Books.

In addition to the blog tour, the AAUP and other member presses are planning several features and events for University Press Week. For more information, visit universitypressweek.org.

Rarity Season Begins!

Derek Lovitch, author of How to Be a Better Birder and an avid birdwatcher, is at it again with his blog, Maine Birding Field Notes, posting about another exciting day of bird-watching as ‘Rarity Season’ starts up. Keep your eyes peeled for some more rare sightings coming your way!


AUDUBON’S WARBLER at Fort Foster!

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of leading our annual “York County Rarity Roundup” Field Trip for York County Audubon today. With no rarities to “round up,” we set out to find our own, birding from Kittery through Wells.  We followed a very similar route to what Jeannette and I always do on our monthly south-coastal run.  The difference today was that with a group, and with so many birds at FortFoster, we never made it out of Kittery by lunchtime.  Too bad that meant we just HAD to have lunch at Loco Coco’s Taco (mmm, chili relleno burrito…)!

It was a very birdy day overall, even in the windy afternoon.  A preliminary total of 63 species of birds included 9 species of sparrows, 5 species of shorebirds, and 4 species of warblers.  Excellent-for-the-season bird diversity was augmented by 5 species of butterflies, 3 species of mammals, 2+ species of dragonfly, 1 reptile (Garter Snake), and 1 amphibian (Spring Peeper).

The bird of the day by far was “Audubon’s” Yellow-rumped Warbler that I found at FortFoster.  This western subspecies of Yellow-rump (it once was, and I believe will likely once again be considered a full species) has only occurred – or should I say, been detected – in Maine a few times.  I can only think of one recent record, an adult that nearly-overwintered at Dyer Point in Cape Elizabeth a few years ago.

If anyone wants to look for it, the bird was flycatching and occasionally eating Red Cedar berries along the west edge of the park. Follow the entrance road into the park, until the large gravel parking lot opens up on the left. The bird was loyal to the right (west) edge here, especially around the big cedars in the mowed lawn.

Noah Gibb and I photographed the bird extensively, and I was also able to borrow a phone to get a voice recording.  All aspects of the bird – from plumage to voice – fit perfectly with a pure “Audubon’s” Warbler.

I first glimpsed the bird sallying for insects in and out of shadows.  The overall extremely cool gray plumage tone – top to bottom – brought to mind a first fall female Pine Warbler. But something wasn’t right.  The bird began to call, and that was definitely not the call of a Pine Warbler…but what was it?  We saw the bird briefly a few times, the pieces began to come together, and then as it flew to another tree the bright yellow rump became evident.  “Audubon’s Warbler!!!!” I exclaimed.
DSC_0059_AUWA1,Fort Foster,10-27-13

DSC_0046_AUWA3,FortFoster,10-27-13

DSC_0044_AUWA,FortFoster,10-27-13

DSC_0057_AUWA5,FortFoster,10-27-13

We studied the bird extensively for at least a half hour, occasionally in perfect light for prolonged periods.  I scribbled notes, and encouraged others to do the same before we discussed the bird any further.  Plenty of “Myrtle” Warblers (the Eastern subspecies of Yellow-rumped) were nearby for convenient comparison.

– Obvious “Yellow-rumped” Warbler with bright yellow rump, overall size and shape, bill size and shape, etc.
– Exceptionally cool gray overall plumage tone, not suggesting the brownish tones of even the palest Myrtles.
– Very diffuse streaking below.
– Very restricted and pale yellow “blobs” on sides of chest.
– Very subtle and restricted yellow on throat, not visible in all light conditions, but quite obvious in good sunlight.
– Lacked the extension of pale on the throat that “points” up around the back of the auriculars as on Myrtle.  Therefore, throat patch appeared rounded, or encircled by the cool gray of head.
– Auriculars only marginally darker than rest of head, often looking concolorous.
– Call note very different from surrounding Myrtles, much sharper and not as “blunt.”
– Exceptionally dull plumage highly suggestive of a first fall female, but the lack of a definite molt limit within the greater coverts prevents us from clinching the age. (reference: The Warbler Guide, Stephenson and Whittle, 2013)

Good bird!  And yes, Rarity Season is most definitely in full swing!  Good thing it appears that, after a prolonged drought, I have finally refound my rarity-finding mojo.  Phew.

Now, about that Saltmarsh Sparrow – which I admittedly called an “Interior” Nelson’s Sparrow in the field…  Expecting to see an “Interior” Nelson’s Sparrow based on the timing, micro-habitat, and behavior, I reached for my camera before I fully studied the bird. After firing off some photos, and making sure everyone got on the bird, it took off and we never saw it again. Although I mentioned that the malar looked “quite dark,” I didn’t second-guess the call until I looked at photos on the computer this afternoon.  Yeah, it’s a Saltie.  The malar is not only dark and distinct, but it frames a clear white throat.  The breast streaking is dark and extensive, the bill has a fleshy-pink cast, and it is simply too long-billed for an “Interior” (subspecies alterus or nelsoni; I don’t believe they are identifiable in the field).  As a final clincher, note the fine streaks towards the rear half of the supercilium.  Behavior and timing wise: odd for a Saltmarsh.  Plumage: essentially textbook for a Saltmarsh.  Therefore, “After further review, the call (in) the field is overturned.”
DSC_0061_SMSP1,SeapointBeach,10-27-13

DSC_0062_SMSP2,SeapointBeach,10-27-13

Princeton University Press’s best-selling titles for the last week

These are the best-selling books for the past week.

Mass Flourishing Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change by Edmund Phelps
k10054 The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality by Angus Deaton
Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson
McCallSmith_Auden What W. H. Auden Can Do for You by Alexander McCall Smith
Helmreich_NewYork The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City by William B. Helmreich
Stephenson_WarblerG The Warbler Guide by Tom Stephenson & Scott Whittle
The Five Elements of Effective Thinking The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward B. Burger & Michael Starbird
k8967 Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism by George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller
k9383 The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger by Marc Levinson
k9687 The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup by Noam Wasserman

Solution for Week Two Migration Quiz Monday

Visual Quiz: Bird On The Ground Answered

Ready to find out the solution to this week’s Migration Quiz Monday from the authors who brought us The Warbler Guide? Then read on below!

bird1

OUR QUIZ BIRD

Let’s look at the Warbler Guide Finders to narrow this one down.  There are a number of birds with yellow in them…let’s see if there are any other features we can find that will help us narrow it down.

bir

THE FINDERS SHOW A NUMBER OF YELLOW BIRDS – WHAT ELSE CAN WE LOOK FOR?

Let’s work from head to tail … on the head we see a pronounced supercillium (eyebrow)…that should be helpful!  There’s a tinge of brown on the crown, too.  The upperparts of the back are brownish – and look at those wings…there are wingbars but they’re brown, which might be another useful point.  The underparts are patchy yellow, and the rump and undertail are yellow (brighter in the undertail).
bird

SOME USEFUL MARKS INCLUDE A WIDE SUPERCILLIUM, BROWN IN THE CROWN AND WINGS, BROWNISH WING BARS, PATCHY YELLOW IN THE BODY, AND A YELLOW RUMP AND UNDERTAIL.

So let’s look again at the finders…there really aren’t that many birds that are drabish yellow with a strong supercillium.  I see Palm, Prairie, Hooded, Tennessee, Orange-crowned, Blackburnian, Worm-eating, Swainsons, Blackpoll, and Yellow-rumped (Myrtle).  Out of those, which have yellow in the body or undertail?  Just Palm, Prairie, Hooded, Orange-crowned and maybe Blackpoll.  Great!  We’re really narrowing it down now.

biiii

ONLY A FEW SPECIES HAVE A SUPERCILLIUM AND ARE DRABISH-YELLOW LIKE OUR QUIZ BIRD.

Here’s something else, though…what about those brown wingbars?  And the yellow upper and undertail?  Really, that only looks like Palm as far as I can see.  If I go to the Palm Warbler account, I see that in fact those are a unique combo…and combined with tail-pumping, this looks like a really good match.

bbb

OUR PALM WARBLER COMPARISON PAGE CONFIRMS THE ID.
The only thing close is Prairie…but look how the wingabars are yellow, not brown, the streaking is black as opposed to reddish-brown, and the Prairie has a distinct facial pattern that is different from Palm.  It is, in fact, a fall Palm Warbler.  These birds are often seen feeding on the ground, and also in small flocks.  Their continuous tail-pumping is a great tip-off, too, and although there are some other tail-pumping warblers (the Waterthrushes, Magnolia, Prairie and Kirtland).  the flocking, yellow undertail and rump, brownish wingbars (and often crown) and sometimes brown breast streaks are all separators.


And to check out the free downloads we’re currently offering, check out the links below:
Crossley ID Guide Raptors : A sampler raptor guide in PDF format
Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide : A ‘quick finder’ designed to help you identify over 50 warblers faster with targeted color photos.

Princeton University Press Nobelists

600px-NobelPrizeJust in case you haven’t heard, Robert J. Shiller, a professor at Yale University, has won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Economics along with Eugene Fama and Lars Peter Hansen. Both Shiller and Hansen have published books with Princeton University Press before, so we are specially excited about this news!

To read a little more about these authors and this incredible accomplishment, click here.

In honor of these amazing gentlemen, we’ve put together a list of all 48 of the Nobel Prize winners that the Press has published. Some of the highlights include Woodrow Wilson, former President of Princeton University and the 28th President of the United States, and Albert Einstein, who published more than 300 scientific papers throughout his astounding academic career.

S. Y. Agnon
George Akerlof
Philip W. Anderson
Kenneth Arrow
Robert J. Aumann
Baruch S.Blumberg
Robert Coetzee
Peter A. Diamond
Manfred Eigen
Albert Einstein
Robert Engle
Richard Feynman
Val L. Fitch
Milton Friedman
Clive W. J. Granger
Günter Grass
David J. Gross
François Jacob
Lars Peter Hansen
J. J. Heckman
William Arthur Lewis
Mario Llosa
Maurice Maeterlinck
Daniel L. McFadden
Hervé Moulin
John Nash
Douglass C. North
Elinor Ostrom
Luigi Pirandello
Christopher A. Pissarides
Edmund S. Phelps
Alvin E. Roth
Thomas J. Sargent
George Seferis
Amartya Sen
Lloyd S. Shapley
William F. Sharpe
Robert Shiller
Vernon Smith
Robert Solow
Michael Spence
Joseph Stiglitz
Wislawa Szymborksa
Hermann Wey
Eugene P. Wigner
Frank Wilczek
Woodrow Wilson

In the past three years alone, five authors published with the Press have won the Nobel Prize, all of which were for the Economic Sciences:

1) Robert J. Shiller is the best-selling author of Irrational Exuberance and The New Financial Order (both Princeton University Press titles), among other books. He is the Arthur M. Okun Professor of Economics at Yale University and a 2013 Nobel Prize winner.

2) Lars Peter Hansen is the David Rockefeller Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, where he is also the research director of the Becker Friedman Institute. He is a 2013 Nobel Prize winner. His most recent book, Recursive Models of Dynamic Linear Economies, was co-authored with Thomas J. Sargent, another Nobel laureate on this list.

3) Alvin E. Roth is the George Gund Professor of Economics and Business Administration in the Department of Economics at Harvard University, and in the Harvard Business School and the the Craig and Susan McCaw Professor of Economics at Stanford University. He won the Nobel Prize in 2012 and is the author of The Handbook of Experimental Economics.

4) Lloyd Stowell Shapley is a Professor Emeritus at UCLA, affiliated with departments of Mathematics and Economics. He won the Nobel Prize in 2012 “for the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design.”

5) Thomas J. Sargent is professor of economics at New York University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His books include Rational Expectations and Inflation and The Conquest of American Inflation. Hansen and Sargent are the coauthors of Robustness. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics in 2011.

Thomas Blom Hansen a Finalist for the 2013 Herskovits Award

Thomas Blom Hansen Melancholia of Freedom: Social Life in an Indian Township in South Africa
Finalist for the 2013 Melville J. Herskovits Award, African Studies Association

The African Studies Association presents the Herskovits Award to the author of the most important scholarly work in African studies published in English during the preceding year. The winner of the Herskovits Award is announced each year at the ASA Annual Meeting, where he or she receives an honorarium of $500.  The ceremony will take place in 2013 on November 23rd in Baltimore, MD.

For more information about the award, click here.

Melancholia of Freedom In this book, Thomas Blom Hansen offers an in-depth analysis of the uncertainties, dreams, and anxieties that have accompanied postapartheid freedoms in Chatsworth, a formerly Indian township in Durban. Exploring five decades of township life, Hansen tells the stories of ordinary Indians whose lives were racialized and framed by the township, and how these residents domesticated and inhabited this urban space and its institutions, during apartheid and after.

Hansen demonstrates the complex and ambivalent nature of ordinary township life. While the ideology of apartheid was widely rejected, its practical institutions, from urban planning to houses, schools, and religious spaces, were embraced in order to remake the community. Hansen describes how the racial segmentation of South African society still informs daily life, notions of race, personhood, morality, and religious ethics. He also demonstrates the force of global religious imaginings that promise a universal and inclusive community amid uncertain lives and futures in the postapartheid nation-state.

Thomas Blom Hansen is professor of anthropology and the Reliance-Dhirubhai Ambani Professor of South Asian Studies at Stanford University, where he also directs the Center for South Asia. His books include The Saffron Wave and Wages of Violence.

Derek Lovitch’s Bell’s Vireo Sighting

bellsDerek Lovitch, author of How to Be a Better Birder and avid birdwatcher, had an exciting week  as he reported on his blog, Maine Birding Field Notes, to have seen a very rare bird in his recent birdwatching travels in Harpswell.

The Bell’s Vireo (pictured here) has only been seen a handful of times in Maine, so it appears to be a bit of a Maine-birder’s dream day. Congrats on the find Derek!


BELL’S VIREO in Harpswell!!!

Yesterday, Jeannette and I discovered a Bell’s Vireo on Abner Point Road, Bailey Island in Harpswell.  There are only three previous records of Bell’s Vireo for the state of Maine. 

In other words: MEGA!  And needless to say – especially since I missed the two from last year, despite my best efforts – this was a thrilling find, capping a very productive morning of birding Bailey Island that included a Yellow-breasted Chat (my first of the year) at Land’s End, and a total of 5 species of warblers on Bailey Island this am:  Hundreds of Yellow-rumps, and one each of Black-throated Blue, Black-and-white, Common Yellowthroat, and Blackpoll.  Song Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, White-throated Sparrows, and other seasonal migrants made for a very birdy visit.

In what turned out to be our last stop of the morning, Jeannette and I walked Abner Point Road.  Upon reaching a promising thicket, I began to pish.  Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Winter Wren responded immediately, and as Jeannette attempted to photograph the wren, I sorted through the yellow-rumps, hoping to find one with a yellow throat.  A handful of minutes later (about 10:35am), we heard a harsh, scolding chatter emanating from the dense vegetation.  “Vireo?” Jeannette asked quizzically as we both looked at each other, unsure of the sound – it sounded like nothing we are used to hearing.  I wondered out loud about a Carolina Wren making some odd sound (they’re good at that, and there was one in that particular thicket), and the nasal quality led me to consider a funky Red-breasted Nuthatch.  We looked hard but could not turn up anything that fit the sound.

About 5 minutes later, a small vireo pops out of the brush in front of me.  At first I called “White-eyed Vireo” due to the bright yellow flanks and overall shape, but then I got a clear look at the head.  “BELL’S VIREO!” I exclaimed, as Jeannette, a few yards away still working on photographing the wren rushed over.

As is often the case for Bell’s Vireos, it quickly ducked back into the cover.  I continued to pish, and the bird popped back up.  I had a second brief, but unobstructed view of the whole bird.  Jeannette went for the camera, and prepared to fire away, only to see the bird dive back into the shadows once again.  One last brief glimpse of the bird was all we would have for the next hour.

We searched hard, but could not relocate it.  A Blue-headed Vireo was more cooperative, and permitted us some comparison.  We listened to a recording of the call of a Bell’s, and there was no question in either of our minds’ that is what we had heard earlier.

We thought we heard that call in the distance of the thicket one more time, and perhaps even a snippet of a song, but background noise and an increasing southerly wind made us unsure of that.  And that wind was clearly not making this skulker any more likely to show itself.  At 11:50, we heard the distinctive call once again, but from thick shrubs behind a house across the street.  We hustled over, but unfortunately only managed to pish in a cat (one of at least five in this immediate area; it was worse than Monhegan!), which was likely the object of the vireo’s recent ire.  We worked the area as best as we could, and eventually saw the homeowner in her yard and received permission to wander around.  No luck.  We had also received permission earlier from the homeowner adjacent to the first thicket to check her yard, so we did another circuit, but we came up empty, and it was getting breezier and cloudier.  Lunchtime was calling us, too.

While I left with almost three pages of field notes, it was rather frustrating to not get a photo, especially since Jeannette was so close to snapping it!  However, as a firm believer in the value of written field notes for documentation of rare birds, I scrawled away in my notebook.


To see Derek’s notes on the Bell’s Vireo and his full description of its location, click here.

Arthur Danto, philosopher, art critic, and PUP author, dead at 89

We were saddened to hear the news this morning that PUP author and The Nation art critic Arthur Danto has died at the age of 89 at his home in Manhattan. Here is his impressive obituary in the New York Times. In 1996 we had the pleasure of publishing his influential book AFTER THE END OF ART: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History.

Hurricane Sandy and Global Warnings, an original article by Ian Roulstone and John Norbury

Hurricane Sandy and Global Warnings

Ian Roulstone and John Norbury

There are many heroes in the story of Hurricane Sandy, but we arguably owe the greatest debt of gratitude to mathematicians who wrangle massive amounts of data to improve the accuracy of our weather predictions. Two devastating storms, decades apart, provide a fantastic snapshot of how weather prediction has improved thanks to the introduction of computational mathematics over the last century.

Just over 75 years ago, on September 9th 1938 above the warm tropical waters near the Cape Verde islands, a storm gathered. As the weather system intensified, it was ushered westward by the prevailing larger-scale ridge of high pressure over the Atlantic. By the 16th the storm had become a hurricane, and the captain of a Brazilian freighter caught sight of the tempest northeast of Puerto Rico. He radioed the U.S. Weather Bureau to warn them of the impending danger – no satellites or sophisticated computer models to help the forecasters in those days.

A deep trough of low pressure over Appalachia forced the storm northward, avoiding the Bahamas and Florida, and towards the north-eastern seaboard of the United States. The forecasters were relying on real-time reports of the storm’s progress, but it advanced at an incredible pace, moving northward at nearly 70mph. By the time the Weather Bureau realised it was on a collision course with Long Island it was too late. The death toll from the Great New England Hurricane approached 600, with over 700 injured, and the damage was estimated at $308 million – or around $4.8 billion at today’s prices.

History very nearly repeated itself on October 29 and 30th last year, when Hurricane Sandy slammed into New Jersey. Meteorologists referred to Superstorm Sandy as a “multi-hazard event”, with major damage resulting from wind gusts, from high seas, from a tidal surge, from heavy rain, and even from driving snow. The number of fatalities in the U.S., attributed either directly or indirectly to Hurricane Sandy, were around 160: a tragedy, but mercifully fewer than the number killed by the Great Hurricane of 1938.

It is almost certain that timely warnings averted greater catastrophe last year. Unlike the storm of 1938, which caught forecasters by surprise, one of the most remarkable features of the forecast of Hurricane Sandy from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) was the prediction made on October 21st, 36 hours before Sandy even formed, of a one-in-four chance of a severe storm, centred on New York, on October 30th.

ECMWF routinely produce two types of forecast for 10 days ahead. As they state in a recent newsletter “The ECMWF global medium-range forecast comprises a high-resolution forecast (HRES) and an ensemble of lower-resolution forecasts (ENS)”, and it was the ENS that helped forewarn of Sandy.

To calculate a forecast we use supercomputers to solve seven equations for the seven basic variables that describe weather: wind speed and direction (3 variables), pressure, temperature, air density, and humidity. The equations governing weather are highly nonlinear. This means that the ‘cause and effect’ relationships between the basic variables can become ferociously complex. To deal with the potential loss of predictability, forecasters study not one, but many forecasts, called an ensemble. Each member of the ensemble is started from a slightly different initial state. These different initial states reflect our ignorance of exactly how weather systems form. If the forecasts predict similar outcomes, we can be reasonably confident, but if they produce very different scenarios, then the situation is more problematic.

In the figure below the ensemble of forecasts for Sandy, starting at midday on October 23rd indicates the high probability of the ‘left turn’ and the most probable landfall – information that helped save lives. The inset at top right shows the strike probability chart that highlights the region around New York within which there is 25% chance of a severe storm by midnight on October 30th. This forecast was computed from an earlier ensemble starting at midday on October 21st and gave forecasters the vital “heads-up” of severe weather striking a highly populated area.

Forecasting Superstorm Sandy: The ensemble of forecasts covering the 10 days from the formation of the cyclone on October 23; the dotted black line is the actual track of the storm. Top right inset shows the storm strike probability from midday October 21. Bottom right inset shows the ensemble predictions of Sandy’s central pressure. © ECMWF

Forecasting Superstorm Sandy: The ensemble of forecasts covering the 10 days from the formation of the cyclone on October 23; the dotted black line is the actual track of the storm. Top right inset shows the storm strike probability from midday October 21. Bottom right inset shows the ensemble predictions of Sandy’s central pressure. © ECMWF

The science of weather and climate prediction was utterly transformed in the second half of the 20th Century by high-performance computing. But in order to fully exploit the computational power, and the information gathered by weather satellites and weather radar, we need mathematics.  As we explained in our article in Scientific American [hyperlink] math quantified the choreography of Hurricane Sandy. And to account for the ever-present uncertainties in the science of weather forecasting, math delivers the tools to analyse the predictions and to highlight the dangers.

Lives were saved because of the quality of our weather forecasts, which are made possible by an international group of mathematicians and weather prediction centers. The math that helps us quantify uncertainty in weather forecasting is being used to quantify uncertainty in climate prediction. It is easy to underestimate the value of this research, but investing in this science is vital if we are to stave off future billions in damages.

 


For further insights into the math behind weather and climate prediction, see Roulstone and Norbury’s new book Invisible in the Storm: The Role of Mathematics in Understanding Weather.

 

Henry R. Nau Events On November 4th

nau-henryConservative Internationalism: Armed Diplomacy under Jefferson, Polk, Truman and Reagan
featuring author Henry R. Nau

Debates about U.S. foreign policy have revolved around three main traditions – liberal internationalism, realism, and nationalism.  This book delves deeply into a fourth, overlooked foreign policy tradition that he calls “conservative internationalism.”  This approach spreads freedom, like liberal internationalism; arms diplomacy, like realism; and preserves national sovereignty, like nationalism.  It targets a world of limited government or independent “sister republics,” not a world of great power concerts or centralized international institutions.

Conservative Internationalism shows how the United States can effectively sustain global leadership while respecting the constraints of public will and material resources.

___________________________________________________

Monday, November 4, 2013 at 11:00 a.m.

Hosted by Edwin Meese III

Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow Emeritus, The Heritage Foundation

RSVP online | or call (202) 675-1752

The Heritage Foundation’s Lehrman Auditorium

~  Books will be available for purchase. ~

 
214 Massachusetts Avenue, NE | Washington, DC 20002 | (202) 546-4400


Plus! Later in the same day at 5:30, Nau will be speaking at the American Enterprise Institute:

5:15 PM
Registration

5:30 PM
Introduction:
Arthur C. Brooks, AEI

Lecture:
Henry Nau, US–Japan–South Korea Legislative Exchange Program

7:00 PM
Adjournment and Reception

To learn more, visit their website here.


Henry R. Nau is professor of political science and international affairs in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. His many books include The Myth of America’s Decline, At Home Abroad, and Perspectives on International Relations.


Fall Warbler Sighting!

Scott Whittle and Tom Stephenson, authors of The Warbler Guide, are busy all month with events (see here), but that won’t stop us from keeping their awesome warbler images coming!

The photo below from The Warbler Guide is of a female Black-and-white Warbler in the fall, snapped by none other than Scott Whittle himself. And don’t worry, we promise the bird is upside down, not your computer!

Black-and-white warbler
Have you spotted any interesting birds this migration season? Let us know in the comments below!