Jim Spencer

Who’s your hero?

March 26th, 2015 at 4:23 pm by under Weather

Kaxan preferred Superman for his cover-shoot for Austin Pets Directory. Many dogs and their humans will be dressing in “hero” costumes for the 2015 Mighty Texas Dog Walk, where this year’s theme is “Who’s Your Hero?” It’s coming up Saturday, April 4th, and there is a special discount for registering early. Details below!

KAXAN 2

3-23 dog walk logo

17th Annual Mighty Texas Dog Walk 2015

The Doggiest Day in Austin returns to beautiful Auditorium Shores.Join thousands of dogs and their best friends for a scenic stroll near Ladybird Johnson Lake, free samples galore, advice from top vets and trainers.
New this year:
Teams – Win Trophies for “Most Funds Raised”, “Biggest Team” and “Best Team T-shirt”
Rescue Dog Squad – Rescue Groups With Dogs to Meet
Shopping Plaza – Fun things for fun peopleSpecial Price Rollback: $20/dog pre-registration!Date/Time
04/04/2015
9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Easter dog1

REGISTER

Saturday, April 4, 2015
The Doggiest Day in Austin!

Pre-Registration: $20/dog, extra humans walk for free!
Day Of Registraion:  $30/dog, extra humans walk for free!

Online registration is open!
(Click on REGISTER or REGISTER A TEAM on this page.)

In Person Pre-Registration:

Saturday, March 28, 11 – 3
Whole Pets Market
911 W. Hwy 290
Dripping Springs, TX 78620
(512) 858-5400

Thursday, April 2,   11 – 8
Petco
9828 Great Hills Trail
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 345-2355

Friday, April 3, 11 – 8
Petco
5601 Brodie Ln
Sunset Valley, TX 78745
(512) 892-7804

Rules & Logistics

team 1

REGISTER A TEAM
TEAM FUNDRAISING DONATIONS

New This Year: TEAMS! Put together a team representing your dog’s breed, family, company, club, favorite color or whatever you want!  Registration still only $20/dog.

We’ll be awarding Trophies for:

Team Raising the Most Funds – donations should mention Team Name
(Donations other than registration fees.)  This team will also win Free Dog Food for a Year from Beyond Natural Pet Food by Leader of the Pack Sponsor Purina (1 only)

Largest Team of Dogs - counted by number of dogs on a Team

Best Team T-Shirt - wear them and Emcees KXAN’s Jim Spencer and Service Dogs, Inc. President Sheri Soltes will invite the audience to judge by applause.  Theme: Who’s Your Hero?

sponsor webiste

BE A SPONSOR

Introduce your product or service to thousands of dogs and their best friends!


Storms should not catch you by surprise

March 25th, 2015 at 11:11 pm by under Weather

Some of the victims of Wednesday evening’s tornado in Moore, Oklahoma (yes, another tornado in Moore, and in the same location as the May 20, 2013 EF-5 storm that killed 24 people) said they had no idea a tornado was approaching.

The area was under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch at the time, and local television stations were broadcasting live images of the approaching storm. To be truly safe during severe storm season, it is important to stay aware the weather situation every day. One easy way to do that is to download the KXAN Weather App, which can alert you when severe weather warnings are issued. Details are below.

Once you know severe weather is threatening, you then need to take very specific actions depending on where you are. Click here to download our Severe Weather Guide, which will provide detailed instructions for any situation.

KXAN First Warning Weather App

Weather App Home Screen

Apple App Store Download Link

Never let the weather catch you by surprise again. The trusted weather experts of the KXAN First Warning Weather team deliver Austin and central Texas’ most accurate hour-by-hour forecast for the next day and for the week ahead. Unlike other weather apps, you’ll get a local forecast that is customized for you.

Download the KXAN Weather app for fast, accurate local and national weather at your fingertips. With its personal alert notifications, you’ll know when significant weather is heading your way and when to take cover. And when you are traveling, use KXAN Weather to get real-time weather forecasts, interactive radar and current conditions for anywhere in the U.S.

The KXAN Weather app utilizes the most advanced radar maps, weather and digital technology available. With its easy to use interactive radar, you can take control and see where the storm is now and where it is tracking. Then, set customized alerts to keep you and your family informed and safe.

Download: iPhone/iPad
Download: Android


Happy World Meteorological Day!

March 23rd, 2015 at 5:35 pm by under Weather
Each year on March 23, the World Meteorological Organization, along with its 191 members–including the National Weather Service–and the worldwide meteorological community, celebrates World Meteorological Day, commemorating the formation of the WMO. This year’s theme is “Climate knowledge for climate action” highlighting both recent advances in climate science and the need for decisive measures to limit climate change. Click here to read more.

Kaxan says register now for Mighty Texas Dog Walk

March 23rd, 2015 at 4:00 pm by under Weather

Jim and Kaxan invite you to join them at the Mighty Texas Dog Walk April 4th

3-23 dog walk logo

17th Annual Mighty Texas Dog Walk 2015

The Doggiest Day in Austin returns to beautiful Auditorium Shores.

Join thousands of dogs and their best friends for a scenic stroll near Ladybird Johnson Lake, free samples galore, advice from top vets and trainers.
New this year:
Teams – Win Trophies for “Most Funds Raised”, “Biggest Team” and “Best Team T-shirt”
Rescue Dog Squad – Rescue Groups With Dogs to Meet
Shopping Plaza – Fun things for fun people

Special Price Rollback: $20/dog pre-registration!

Date/Time
04/04/2015
9:00 am – 1:00 pm

Easter dog1

REGISTER

Saturday, April 4, 2015
The Doggiest Day in Austin!

Pre-Registration: $20/dog, extra humans walk for free!
Day Of Registraion:  $30/dog, extra humans walk for free!

Online registration is open!
(Click on REGISTER or REGISTER A TEAM on this page.)

In Person Pre-Registration:

Saturday, March 28, 11 – 3
Whole Pets Market
911 W. Hwy 290
Dripping Springs, TX 78620
(512) 858-5400

Thursday, April 2,   11 – 8
Petco
9828 Great Hills Trail
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 345-2355

Friday, April 3, 11 – 8
Petco
5601 Brodie Ln
Sunset Valley, TX 78745
(512) 892-7804

Rules & Logistics

team 1

REGISTER A TEAM
TEAM FUNDRAISING DONATIONS

New This Year: TEAMS! Put together a team representing your dog’s breed, family, company, club, favorite color or whatever you want!  Registration still only $20/dog.

We’ll be awarding Trophies for:

Team Raising the Most Funds – donations should mention Team Name
(Donations other than registration fees.)  This team will also win Free Dog Food for a Year from Beyond Natural Pet Food by Leader of the Pack Sponsor Purina (1 only)

Largest Team of Dogs - counted by number of dogs on a Team

Best Team T-Shirt - wear them and Emcees KXAN’s Jim Spencer and Service Dogs, Inc. President Sheri Soltes will invite the audience to judge by applause.  Theme: Who’s Your Hero?

sponsor webiste

BE A SPONSOR

Introduce your product or service to thousands of dogs and their best friends!


St. Patrick’s Day solar storm sets off green northern lights

March 17th, 2015 at 9:55 pm by under Weather
(NBC News)
Image: Aurora over Whistler
David McColm Photography

A massive solar storm is bombarding Earth now, and it could supercharge the northern lights to offer a better chance of seeing dancing green auroras just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, weather permitting.

The surprisingly strong solar storm — ranked as a G4 geomagnetic storm by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center — could trigger brilliant auroras for people in dark areas as far south as Tennessee on Tuesday night if the space storm continues. The storm began at about 10 a.m. ET today.

 The storm was given a “severe” rating of G4 on NOAA’s 1-to-5 scale for geomagnetic effects. It’s not a danger to satellites or astronauts in space, but it could affect GPS and radio signals on Earth, space weather scientists said during a teleconference. The solar storm has not been linked to any power outages on the planet, they added. [See photos of the biggest solar flares of 2015]

“This is one of two severe geomagnetic storms that we have experienced during this current solar cycle,” said Thomas Berger, director of the Space Weather Prediction Center.

The G4 storm is the result of two large eruptions that left the sun on Sunday. Two huge explosions of solar plasma, known as coronal mass ejections, joined up while speeding toward Earth to create a larger solar storm. The active region on the sun that spawned the eruptions is currently rotating out of Earth’s view.

NOAA officials expect that the solar storm should continue for at least the next several hours, but these types of storms are difficult to predict.

Image: Graphic showing where the northern lights are likely visible due to solar storm
NOAA / Ovation
A computer-generated graphic from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center shows the region where northern lights are expected to be seen due to a strong geomagnetic storm that swept past Earth on Tuesday. The colors correspond to the probability of seeing the auroral lights.

If the storm does continue, it’s possible that people in northern Europe will have a great view of auroras tonight. United States stargazers might also be able to see the light show when darkness falls, assuming the storm continues.

Some skywatchers have already reported amazing views of the northern lights.

“We have heard of some very vivid sightings of aurora before the sun rose today,” Brent Gordon, the Space Weather Prediction Center’s space weather services branch chief, said during the teleconference. “Aurora sightings were mainly confined to the northern tier of the United States — Minnesota, Wisconsin, both North and South Dakota as well as Washington state … and of course Alaska as well.”

— Miriam Kramer, Space.com

This is a condensed version of a report from Space.com. Read the full report. Follow Miriam Kramer on Twitter. Follow Space.com on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

For more of David McColm’s photography, check out his website, Twitter account and Facebook page. If you take an amazing photo of the northern lights from the March 17 geomagnetic storm and you’d to share it for a possible story or image gallery, send images and comments to Space.com managing editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com.

The online Slooh Community Observatory will webcast live views of the aurora from Iceland on Tuesday night starting at 6 p.m. ET. You can watch it directly through Slooh or live on Space.com.


NOAA disputes BP’s Gulf of Mexico assessment

March 16th, 2015 at 8:23 pm by under Weather
DWH header
Contact
Ben Sherman, ben.sherman@noaa.gov, 301-713-3066 (office), 202-253-5256 (cell)
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees have issued the following statement in response to today’s press release and report from BP concerning the health of the Gulf of Mexico:

GULF OF MEXICO, March 16, 2015 — In a news statement released today, BP claims that the “…Gulf environment (is) returning to pre-spill conditions” although the Deepwater Horizon oil spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees (NRDA Trustees) are still assessing the injury resulting from the largest offshore oil spill in our nation’s history. It is inappropriate as well as premature for BP to reach conclusions about impacts from the spill before the completion of the assessment.

Citing scientific studies conducted by experts from around the Gulf, as well as this council, BP misinterprets and misapplies data while ignoring published literature that doesn’t support its claims and attempts to obscure our role as caretakers of the critical resources damaged by the spill.

At over 100 million gallons of spilled oil, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is more than 10 times the size of the Exxon Valdez. From decades of experience with oil spills, we know that the environmental effects of this spill are likely to last for generations.

The state and federal trustees, including our scientific colleagues at universities and institutions around the Gulf, are engaged in a rigorous, scientific process of injury assessment and are still analyzing the data, conducting studies, and evaluating what happened.

Our obligation under the Oil Pollution Act is to restore the public’s natural resources injured by the Deepwater Horizon spill to the condition they would have been in but for the spill and to compensate the public for the services of those natural resources that were injured or lost. In addition to assessing the damage, we are undertaking early restoration and developing a long-term restoration plan with public involvement to meet that responsibility.

The assessment is a thorough and time consuming process by which we evaluate the best scientific evidence available to ensure we understand the injuries caused by the spill, as well as the most appropriate means to restore those injuries and to compensate for the lost use of the Gulf’s resources while they are injured. The restoration planning effort involves a great deal of public outreach to ensure we consider the public’s perspective when making restoration decisions.

The natural resource trustees from Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, NOAA, DOI, USDA, EPA, and DOD to the extent of DOD-owned lands are conducting the NRDA through a coordinated effort.

For additional information about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment, visit http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/.

 


Having fun on Pi Day

March 13th, 2015 at 1:11 pm by under Weather
On Pi Day, How Scientists Use This Number

Fast Facts:

› The number pi, the ratio of circumference to diameter of a circle, is celebrated every year on March 14, or 3/14

› NASA/JPL scientists and engineers use pi frequently in calculations

› Take the NASA/JPL Pi Day Challenge at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/piday2015

If you like numbers, you will love March 14, 2015. When written as a numerical date, it’s 3/14/15, corresponding to the first six digits of pi (3.1415) — a once-in-a-century coincidence! Pi Day, which would have been the 136th birthday of Albert Einstein, is a great excuse to eat pie, and to appreciate how important the number pi is to math and science.

Pi is the ratio of circumference to diameter of a circle. Any time you want to find out the distance around a circle when you have the distance across it, you will need this formula.

Despite its frequent appearance in math and science, you can’t write pi as a simple fraction or calculate it by dividing two integers (…3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3…). For this reason, pi is said to be “irrational.” Pi’s digits extend infinitely and without any pattern, adding to its intrigue and mystery.

Pi is useful for all kinds of calculations involving the volume and surface area of spheres, as well as for determining the rotations of circular objects such as wheels. That’s why pi is important for scientists who work with planetary bodies and the spacecraft that visit them.

At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, pi makes a frequent appearance. It’s a staple for Marc Rayman, chief engineer and mission director for NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. Dawn went into orbit around dwarf planet Ceres on March 6. Rayman uses a formula involving pi to calculate the length of time it takes the spacecraft to orbit Ceres at any given altitude. You can also use pi to think about Earth’s rotation.

“On Pi Day, I will think about the nature of a day, as Earth’s rotation on its axis carries me on a circle 21,000 miles (34,000 kilometers) in circumference, which I calculated using pi and my latitude,” Rayman said.

Steve Vance, a planetary chemist and astrobiologist at JPL, also frequently uses pi. Lately, he has been using pi in his calculations of how much hydrogen might be available for chemical processes, and possibly biology, in the ocean beneath the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa.

“To calculate the hydrogen produced in a given unit area, we divide by Europa’s surface area, which is the area of a sphere with a radius of 970 miles (1,561 kilometers),” Vance said.

Luisa Rebull, a research scientist at NASA’s Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, also considers pi to be important in astronomy. When calculating the distance between stars in a projection of the sky, scientists use a special kind of geometry called spherical trigonometry. That’s an extension of the geometry you probably learned in middle school, but it takes place on a sphere rather than a flat plane.

“In order to do these calculations, we need to use formulae, the derivation of which uses pi,” she said. “So, this is pi in the sky!”

Make sure to note when the date and time spell out the first 10 digits of pi: 3.141592653. On 3/14/15 at 9:26:53 a.m., it is literally the most perfectly “pi” time of the century — so grab a slice of your favorite pie, and celebrate math!

For more fun with pi, check out JPL Education’s second annual Pi Day challenge, featuring real-world NASA math problems. NASA/JPL education specialists, with input from scientists and engineers, have crafted questions involving pi aimed at students in grades 4 through 11, but open to everyone. Take a crack at them at:

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/piday2015

Share your answers on Twitter by tweeting to @NASAJPL_Edu with the hashtag #PiDay. Answers will be revealed on March 16 (aka Pi + 2 Day!).

Caltech manages JPL for NASA.


March bird forecast

March 12th, 2015 at 2:23 pm by under Weather

What to watch for in March: Warblers on the Move

Here’s the Central Texas bird forecast for the month, courtesy of Travis Audubon. Learn more about Central Texas birds and bird-related events for all ages at travisaudubon.org or by calling 512-300-BIRD. Travis Audubon is on Twitter and Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @TravisAudubon and give us a like at www.facebook.com/travisaudubon.

Golden-cheeked Warbler - photo by Jim deVries

Golden-cheeked Warbler – photo by Jim deVries

What’s the Buzz?

Our beautiful, endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler males will be showing up any day now, from their wintering grounds in Mexico and Central America. The males usually arrive about a week before the females. They will be setting up and defending their territories in the old growth, oak-juniper woodlands of western Travis County.  Golden-cheeks as they are affectionately called, have an interesting relationship with the bark of old-growth Ashe Juniper (known colloquially as cedar or mountain cedar.)  The females always use this bark to make their cup-shaped nests.  Much of west Austin is built on former prime Golden-cheeked Warbler habitat, but fortunately there is land set aside in our Balcones Canyonlands Preserve system and at the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge where the birds can successfully raise their young. The male has two main song types. One is used to attract the female, and has the rhythm of “la cucaracha” and the other is used to defend its territory. Even though the name “warbler” connotes a really musical, rich song, the Golden-cheek’s song is buzzy. Listen to a recording at allaboutbirds.org before venturing out on your next Hill Country hike and you may be able to spot this small warbler singing from the top of an oak or juniper.

Black-and-white Warbler - photo by William Majoros, commons.wikimedia.org

Black-and-white Warbler – photo by William Majoros, commons.wikimedia.org

Another warbler that arrives just about the same time as the Golden-cheeks is the striking Black-and-white Warbler.  Some are just passing through on their way to eastern and northern forests, but some will stay and nest here.  Interestingly they nest on the ground, usually close to the base of a tree or tree stump, or under a log or shrub. This makes their young very vulnerable to predation by all sorts of mammals and snakes. The Black-and-white does not have a musical song. Instead it sounds like a high-pitched creaky wagon wheel.

Visit the Balcones Songbird Festival in late April to have a chance to see these two beauties. http://www.friendsofbalcones.org/festival

Garden for warblers and other songbirds

Native plants are critical to the survival of many songbirds since they host the insects that form the basis of songbirds’ diets. Songbirds almost exclusively feed their insects to their nestlings, particularly caterpillars.  These insects provide the protein, carbohydrate and fats that allow the babies to grow and leave the nest after an amazingly short period of time. For example, Black-and-white Warblers leave the nest 8-12 days after hatching! If you are replacing some plants this spring, choose natives. Travis Audubon has a list of recommended bird-attracting native plants at their website.

http://travisaudubon.org/conservation/urban-habitat-committee/bird-friendly-habitats

Monthly Meeting Highlights of the 2014-15 Christmas Bird Count Season

6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 19, 2015
Location: Hyde Park Christian Church, 610 E 45th St., Austin, TX 78751

Dr. Brent Ortego, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Non-game Biologist for South Texas, will give a presentation on the highlights of the Christmas Bird Count Season. He will discuss how Texas placed nationally for total species and also for highest counts of individual species. More importantly he will discuss the value of conducting Christmas Bird Counts and how you can improve your results. His breadth of knowledge about the status of birds around our great state is phenomenal.

Field Trips — Beginners welcome. Check the Travis Audubon website for other field trips and details.  http://travisaudubon.org/get-outdoors/field-trips

Two-hour Tuesday at the Lake Creek Trail, led by Ginny and Ray Steelman
Tuesday, March 17, 7:30 am to 9:30 am

Hornsby Bend Monthly Bird Walk
Saturday March 21, 7:30am to 11:00am

Birding the Austin Wildlands Water Quality Preserves (South Austin)
Friday, March 27, 7:30 to 11:30am

BIRD POKER (What’s “”Bird Poker?””) at Commons Ford Park
Saturday, March 28, anytime between 5:00am and 3:00pm

Two hour Tuesday at Windermere Park, led by Dan Callaway
Tuesday, March 31, 7:30 am to 9:30 am

Compiled by Travis Audubon volunteers Jane Tillman and Jorjanna Price


Global warming could hit rates unseen in 1,000 years

March 10th, 2015 at 9:49 pm by under Weather

(Climate Central)

We are standing on the edge of a new world where warming is poised to accelerate at rates unseen for at least 1,000 years.

That’s the main finding of a paper published Monday in Nature Climate Change, which looked at the rate of temperature change over 40-year periods. The new research also shows that the Arctic, North America and Europe will be the first regions to transition to a new climate, underscoring the urgent need for adaptation planning.

Credit: Several Seconds/Flickr

“Essentially the world is entering a new regime where what is normal is going to continue to change and it’s changing at a rate that natural processes might not be able to keep up with,” Steven Smith, a researcher at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, said.

Historical records show temperatures have typically fluctuated up or down by about 0.2°F per decade over the past 1,000 years. But trends over the past 40 years have been decidedly up, with warming approaching 0.4°F per decade. That’s still within historical bounds of the past — but just barely.

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By 2020, warming rates should eclipse historical bounds of the past 1,000 years — and likely at least 2,000 years — and keep rising. If greenhouse gas emissions continue on their current trend, the rate of warming will reach 0.7°F per decade and stay that high until at least 2100.

Global rates of temperature change in high and declining greenhouse gas emission scenarios.
Click image to enlarge. Credit: Smith et al., 2015

The northern hemisphere will be the first region to experience historically unprecedented warming. The Arctic, which is already the fastest warming part of the planet, will see temperatures rise 1.1°F per decade by 2040. North America and Europe will see slightly lower, though equally unprecedented, warming.

“With those high rates of change, there’s not going to be anything close to equilibrium,” Smith said, underscoring the profound potential impacts on both the natural world and society.

“The authors have demonstrated that we are currently headed into uncharted waters when it comes to the rate of climate change we are now seeing,” Michael Mann, who runs Penn State’s Earth System Science Center, said. “While past studies have focused on the unprecedented nature of the current warmth in the context of the past millennium, there has been less attention to the equally — if not more — critical issue of the rate of warming.”

The research comes on the heels of two recent papers — one which Mann co-authored — projecting that rapid warming is likely to resume in the next decade. That growing body of research has hypothesized that oceans have been stashing extra heat in their depths, leading to a slowdown in the rise of surface temperatures around the globe. But a coming shift in the Pacific trade winds could remove the cap holding that heat down and lead to increased surface warming.

Smith’s work didn’t specifically address this issue, but he said the global warming slowdown isn’t surprising given its comparatively short time frame. That’s partly why he chose to focus on 40-year intervals, which strip away year-to-year noise and represent an important time horizon for infrastructure planning.

“The normal will keep changing over time and that’s something we’ll have to expect and adapt to,” Smith said.


Once again, the least rain falls where it is needed most

March 9th, 2015 at 6:49 pm by under Weather

While most of the Austin metro area and counties east of IH-35 received 2-3 inches of rain or more, the Colorado River basin upstream from Austin received much less, with most locations west of US-281 recording less than an inch. Mason received only .17″.

As with most storm systems over recent years, little runoff will be generated by this latest Hill Country rainfall, extending the worst drought in the history of the Highland Lakes.  Below are rainfall totals from Monday’s storm. Click here to see hundreds more totals.

3-9 Hill Co rain totals

3-9 Metro rain totals

3-9 East rain totals