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petronius

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Gender: Male
Hometown: California
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 26,170

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Inveniet quod quisque velit; non omnibus unum est, quod placet; hic spinas colligit, ille rosas.

Journal Archives

I've always liked this version:

How to read and understand a scientific paper: a guide for non-scientists

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2016/05/09/how-to-read-and-understand-a-scientific-paper-a-guide-for-non-scientists/

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Reading a scientific paper is a completely different process than reading an article about science in a blog or newspaper. Not only do you read the sections in a different order than they’re presented, but you also have to take notes, read it multiple times, and probably go look up other papers for some of the details. Reading a single paper may take you a very long time at first. Be patient with yourself. The process will go much faster as you gain experience.

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Before you begin reading, take note of the authors and their institutional affiliations. Some institutions (e.g. University of Texas) are well-respected; others (e.g. the Discovery Institute) may appear to be legitimate research institutions but are actually agenda-driven. Tip: google “Discovery Institute” to see why you don’t want to use it as a scientific authority on evolutionary theory.

Also take note of the journal in which it’s published. Reputable (biomedical) journals will be indexed by Pubmed. {EDIT: Several people have reminded me that non-biomedical journals won’t be on Pubmed, and they’re absolutely correct! (thanks for catching that, I apologize for being sloppy here). Check out Web of Science for a more complete index of science journals. And please feel free to share other resources in the comments!} Beware of questionable journals.

As you read, write down every single word that you don’t understand. You’re going to have to look them all up (yes, every one. I know it’s a total pain. But you won’t understand the paper if you don’t understand the vocabulary. Scientific words have extremely precise meanings).

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http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2016/05/09/how-to-read-and-understand-a-scientific-paper-a-guide-for-non-scientists/

Some thoughtful and useful advice here (with embedded links). Although perhaps this post should be packaged with a post on "Living a balanced life: a guide for scientists." (The reading process described is a bit time-consuming... )

What a Wet Winter Means for Wildfire Season

Above-average precipitation in California and other parts of the West doesn’t necessarily mean there will be fewer wildfires this season – the Golden State has already seen more than twice as many acres burned as it did last year.

Every spring firefighters throughout the West approach the summer season with a proverbial prediction: If the winter was dry, all those parched trees will burn like torches; if it was a wet winter, all those new grasses will fuel quick fire starts and hot, runaway flames.

After a winter that left record piles of snow in the mountains and drenched most of California’s valleys, it’s no surprise that it is grass fires that are fueling a fast start to the state’s 2017 fire season. More than 16,000 acres had burned by June 3 in 1,229 blazes, most of them in central and southern California.

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We can look to the hills for relief, federal officials said. The rains that are fueling the green-up in the valleys fell as snow at the higher elevations. The result is a slow start to the fire season in the Sierra Nevada, mostly managed by the United States Forest Service: just 2,576 acres of federal lands had burned by June 3. By June 7 last year, nearly 13,000 acres had burned. The moisture should lead to a delayed and shorter season overall in the Sierra, according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, ID.

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https://www.newsdeeply.com/water/articles/2017/06/19/what-a-wet-winter-means-for-future-of-wildfire-season

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I knew that a wet winter provided fuel, but I didn't know about the difference between grass/scrub and mountain forests - that all this moisture will slow things down in the Sierra, but the grass lands and other semi-arid regions will burn more intensely. Also an interesting point that a slower fire season in the high-elevations will allow more controlled burns to deal with beetle-killed trees...

Climate Change Is Shrinking the Colorado River

The nation’s two largest reservoirs, Lake Mead on the Arizona/Nevada border and Lake Powell on the Arizona/Utah border, were brim full in the year 2000. Four short years later, they had lost enough water to supply California its legally apportioned share of Colorado River water for more than five years. Now, 17 years later, they still have not recovered.

This ongoing, unprecedented event threatens water supplies to Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, Denver, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque and some of the most productive agricultural lands anywhere in the world. It is critical to understand what is causing it so water managers can make realistic water use and conservation plans.

While overuse has played a part, a significant portion of the reservoir decline is due to an ongoing drought, which started in 2000 and has led to substantial reductions in river flows. Most droughts are caused by a lack of precipitation. However, our published research shows that about one-third of the flow decline was likely due to higher temperatures in the Colorado River’s Upper Basin, which result from climate change.

This distinction matters because climate change is causing long-term warming that will continue for centuries. As the current “hot drought” shows, climate change-induced warming has the potential to make all droughts more serious, turning what would have been modest droughts into severe ones, and severe ones into unprecedented ones.

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https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/environment/climate-change-shrinking-colorado-river/


Caption: The combined contents of the nation’s two largest reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, since their initial fillings. The large decline since 2000 is shaded brown for 2000-2014, our 15-year study period, and pink for the continuing drought in 2015-2016. The loss was significantly influenced by record-setting temperatures, unlike a similar 15-year drought in the 1950s which was driven by a lack of precipitation. (Bradley Udall, Author provided)




Lots of excellent links and graphics at the article source, and a much longer discussion...
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