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UC Santa Barbara
Department of Geography
UC Santa Barbara
Department of Geography
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UC Santa Barbara Geography / News & Events / Department News

October 30, 2014 - Important Notice to Isla Vista Residents: Important Dates and Restrictions Regarding Halloween Weekend


If you have a party, know who your guests are:

  • Check your lease. Some leases have restrictions during Halloween weekend, including no parties, no kegs, no overnight guests.
  • No overnight guests are allowed in any of the UCSB residence halls beginning 5 p.m., Friday, 10/31 through 5 p.m., Sun., 11/2.
  • Students want to Keep It Local and Keep it Safe! Please discourage out-of-town visitors to Halloween weekend. Don’t leave a friend stranded. Call a CSO evening escort at 893-2000. If your friends have been drinking, check on them. Stay with them if they need help.

KNOW WHAT’S LEGAL AND WHAT ISN’T - Note: Fines may vary due to circumstances.

  • Furnishing alcohol to a minor: $4,070
  • If a minor is driving and alcohol is in the vehicle (even if there is someone 21 or over, unless parent or guardian): $1000 + license suspension if under 21 + possible 30-day vehicle seizure.
  • Possession of an open container: $235-$500
  • Minor in possession of alcohol: $416 + $165 Youth Offender Program (or one-year license suspension if no YOP).
  • Public intoxication: $375-$1000 (+ $165 Youth Offender Program if under 21)
  • Public urination: $235 for first conviction.
  • Possession of less than one ounce of marijuana (without a doctor’s prescription): $100 + license suspension if under 21.
  • Under the influence of a controlled substance carries a mandatory 90-day jail sentence.

Noise and festival ordinance violations:

  • $500 administrative fines (unpaid fines will appear on your credit report)
  • Social host ordinance violations: $500 + required class for each resident. If law enforcement determines that Isla Vista has become unsafe for the public, roads will be closed by the County and proof of residency (lease agreement, utility bill, etc. with your name and Isla Vista address) may be required for vehicle entry.


The festival ordinance (6-70.01) is in effect from Sun., 10/26 through Sun., 11/4, each evening from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. the following morning. This ordinance means no live or recorded music can be heard outside your residence and carries a $500 fine.

PARKING INFORMATION – ISLA VISTA All cars in following locations must be moved off the street by 3 p.m. on Friday, 10/31 until 6 a.m. on Sun., 11/2, or will be towed:

  • 6500-6700 blocks of Del Playa
  • 6500 block of Trigo
  • Camino del Sur between Del Playa and Trigo
  • Camino Pescadero between Del Playa and Trigo
  • El Embarcadero between Del Playa and top of loop Cars parking in violation will be towed

PARKING INFORMATION – UCSB Registered UCSB undergraduates with the Annual Night & Weekend (N&W) Parking Permit (which must be displayed on inside of driver’s side windshield) are eligible to park in designated campus lots or structures from 11am on Friday , 10/31 to 7:30 a.m. on Mon.,11/3 . The current cost of the Undergraduate N&W permit is $35.00 plus $5.95 shipping & handling fee. The cost for the Undergraduate N&W parking permit as of October 1st will be $ $26.25 plus $5.95 shipping & handling fee Apply online for permit at Select waitlist; once eligibility is approved, payment must be made to complete order and generate mailing of decal. To park on campus during these times you are encouraged to apply / order by October 17, 2014 to ensure your permit arrives by mail prior to Halloween weekend. Go to: to place your permit order. Only one permit per registered student.

Parking for Halloween weekend is allowed only in specific campus areas: 22 Parking Structure, 18 (Mesa) Parking Structure, and Lot 16, with overflow parking in Lots 30 and 38. All other campus lots and areas will be closed to public parking. Vehicle info must match permit, or it will be towed, resulting in a $300 citation plus tow charge. Individuals without a regular UCSB or N&W parking permit will not be allowed to park on campus; cars not displaying valid permits will be cited and towed. Temporary, paper permits will not be honored; vehicles must display the Annual N&W decal, Faculty, Staff, 22 IVA, or authorized special event permits to get past all check points on campus.

IVA 22 Storage Permit. The IVA 22 (Isla Vista Access) perit allows you to store your vehicle in 22 Parking. The permit does not restrict your ability to freely move your vehicle in and out of the parking structure. Who is eligible for 22 IVA? Community members as well as UCSB staff, faculty, and non-resident students are eligible to purchase the IVA 22 permit. The program accommodates up to 100 automobiles and motorcycles. NO out-of-town visitors will be allowed to park on campus or in local parking lots such as Calle Real, Camino Real Marketplace, Kmart, Girsh Park, University Village Plaza, Fairview Center or in local Goleta neighborhoods. Cars parked in violation will be towed. No taxis will be allowed to pick up or drop off on campus. Please visit: for more information on campus permits and parking restrictions.

POLICE ROADBLOCKS Police roadblocks will be placed at six intersections by 4 p.m. on Friday, 10/31 through 6 a.m. on Sun., 11/2. The roadblocks will prevent vehicle access to Del Playa, Sabado, and Trigo Roads, from 6500 through mid-6800 blocks. Police roadblocks will be set up to provide access for emergency vehicles and to keep excess traffic out of Isla Vista. For your convenience and safety, please observe these controlled access points. Roadblocks along Trigo, Sabado Tarde, and Del Playa will be set up at 4 p.m. each night until 3-4 a.m. the following morning. Vehicle access to Isla Vista from EI Colegio Road will remain open unless judged to be unsafe by the CHP or Sheriff’s Department. If roads are closed by public officials, proofof residency may be required to enter.

FIRST AID Emergency first aid for public at Embarcadero Loop (Embarcadero del Mar/El Embarcadero) Friday, 10/31; and Sat., 11/1, from 8:00pm – 3:00am Search and Rescue unit at Camino Pescadero and Trigo to respond to emergency first aid needs.

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ISLA VISTA HALLOWEEN ROAD CLOSURES AND INFORMATION (click to enlarge). Graphic credit: Thira Khor

October 29, 2014 - Fall 2014 Winners of the Landon Romano Book Scholarship

Landon Romano, a 1999 graduate of the Department of Geography, initially became interested in geography after taking Geography 5. He established the textbook scholarship fund in order to give something back to the department that made such a positive difference to his career. The funds are used to pay for textbooks used by undergrad students in Geography 3A, 3B, or 5, and calls for applications are made at the beginning of each quarter. Applicants are asked to write a short essay of approximately 100 words, describing why they chose a Geography course/major and what interests them most about geography. Successful applicants receive the UCSB Bookstore cost of the applicable textbooks, usually in the range of $100-$150, within the first three weeks of class. Three undergraduates received the award for the fall quarter, 2014.

Akash Patel took top honors for his Geography 3A (Oceans and Atmospheres) entry: “The ocean covers 70% of the world, meaning it will always be an important subject for politicians and diplomats. We face rising land temperatures and the melting of the polar ice caps, and these events could drastically change the earth’s percentage of dry land and the mating patterns of species. As a Global Studies major and a hopeful diplomat, understanding how the ocean works and interacts with the atmosphere will help me in the event that I need to debate about or make a decision involving our environment and climate.”

Brian Fabela was the awardee for Geography 3B (Land, Water, and Life): “My major is in Economics, but the field of geography has always been of huge interest to me. Growing up near the Salton Sea in southern California I have always been intrigued about how such a body of salt water could exist in the middle of the desert. I am also amazed at how humans were able to shape the barren desert in that same area into an agricultural miracle. By taking a class in geography I hope to understand the driving forces behind the shaping of the earth and how humans can have a more positive impact in the world around us.”

The successful applicant from Geography 5 (People, Place, and Environment) was Bianca Lucero: “Geography, that subject that just covers places and locations, right? No, that’s incorrect. Two days into the course and I have already learned and discovered in depth the analytical and detailed aspects that factor into Geography. The dynamic of how important geography is in relation to everyday life is remarkable. I went into this class blindly, not knowing what to expect. Well, I am surprisingly intrigued and am looking forward to becoming more knowledgeable about our world and the daily aspects that influence our world as a whole.”

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Landon Romano, the youngest alumni to ever fund a UCSB Geography award.
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Akash Patel, the winner of the Landon Romano Book Scholarship for Geography 3A
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Brian Fabela, the winner of the Landon Romano Book Scholarship for Geography 3B
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Bianca Lucero, the winner of the Landon Romano Book Scholarship for Geography 5

October 29, 2014 - To Help Combat Ebola, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Provides Online Access to Unclassified Products

To help combat the spread of the Ebola virus disease, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is providing unprecedented online access to its unclassified geospatial intelligence products to lead federal agencies and their partners through a public-facing website dedicated to the crisis. The dynamic site, which uses Esri's ArcGIS Platform hosted in the cloud by Amazon Web Services - both publically available services - features various base maps that provide foundational context for users, who will then have the ability to visually overlay public NGA data, as well as ingest open-source data. NGA's first exposure of data includes geospatial layers relevant to the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, including cultural places and structures, and communication, electric power, and ground transportation infrastructure. The team will continue to update the site and will provide layers for the other affected countries soon.

Please visit on the NGA home page to view the data. Step 1: Click on Ebola Support; Step 2: Click on Advanced View and Quick View Applications for NGA provided unclassified data. We thank you for your continued interest and support of the WWHGD Working Group. We are excited at the opportunity to share unprecedented NGA data access to the unclassified community providing critical support during this time of crisis (source: email forwarded from Professor Keith Clarke, who received it from the World Wide Human Geography Data Working Group).

Paul Frommelt, writing for the NGA Office of Corporate Communications, goes on to report: "

This has the potential of being a global incident,” said Tim Peplaw, GEOINT mission manager for NGA’s Integrated Working Group - Readiness, Response and Recovery, or IWG-R3, which provides GEOINT support to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief activities. NGA’s role in the Ebola crisis has been in step with many other global events that have required the agency’s disaster support, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Haiti earthquake in 2010, Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, said Peplaw. The difference this time is the size of the affected area. “We are looking at multiple locations and we are trying to provide support,” said Peplaw. “It’s not single-threaded. It’s not just one event taking place, it’s happening on the entire western part of the continent.”

The combined size of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone is 165,625 square miles, or roughly three times the size of Louisiana and 15 times the size of Haiti. Other countries like Nigeria, which has been minimally affected, or other neighboring countries, may be at risk in the future, adding to the scope of the problem. A crisis this large requires an international response of a similar size, said Martin Cox, national geospatial-intelligence officer for Africa and NGA issues manager for the Ebola crisis. So NGA is focused on unclassified support – making its products available through a public-facing portal no caveats or limits in distribution. “If we don’t keep it unclassified, the majority of the people who are working in the field will not be able to access the information that they may need to help bring this epidemic to a close,” said Cox, who added that infection rates in West Africa are predicted to grow at an exponential rate.

The large number of non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, involved in the relief effort requires NGA take a different approach to disseminating information, said Peplaw. “We want to get this stuff into the hands of NGOs as quickly as possible.” To accomplish this, NGA’s created an unclassified public-facing website to support relief efforts. The dynamic site, which uses Esri’s ArcGIS Platform hosted in the cloud by Amazon Web Services – both publically available services – features various base maps that provide foundational context for users, who will then have the ability to visually overlay public NGA data, as well as ingest open-source data. NGA’s data will provide logistical information relevant to the situation on the ground, said Steven Alness, deputy director of the Office of Future Xperience for NGA’s Xperience Directorate. “As we expose the data, we want it to be used, useful and usable,” said Alness.

NGA’s first exposure of data includes geospatial layers relevant to the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, including cultural places and structures, and communication, electric power and ground transportation infrastructure. “For example, you will be able to see Ebola cases by province and locations of emergency treatment units,” said an IWG-R3 analyst. “Users will be able to ascertain the distance from a certain airfield to the closest emergency treatment unit.”

Traditionally, NGA provided relief workers with static products, or “snapshots in time,” said the analyst. “Those are disposable bits of information,” the analyst said. “We are providing information in a dynamic manner which is continually updated as new information comes in.” This mindset is in line with NGA’s focus on putting its knowledge directly into the hands of the user, said Cox. Doing it at a completely unclassified level, however, is uncharted territory. “The level at which we are trying to expose our data and commercial imagery products is unprecedented,” said Cox. “If they are trying to do good, why would we not want to help?”

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The World Health Organization indicates that regional health authorities in West Africa have reported (as of 1 October 2014) 7,178 cases of Ebola virus disease with 3,338 deaths since the outbreak was first recognized in March 2014. Source:
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NGA’s interactive Ebola map
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October 29, 2014 - Krzysztof Janowicz Wins the Harold J. Plous Memorial Award

The Harold J. Plous Memorial Award is given annually to a faculty member of the rank of Assistant Professor from the fields of the humanities, social sciences, or natural sciences who has demonstrated outstanding performance as measured by creative action or contribution to the intellectual life of the college community. Established in 1957 to honor Harold J. Plous, an Assistant Professor of Economics at UC Santa Barbara from 1950 until his death in 1957, it is the highest honor the College of Letters and Science can bestow upon a junior faculty member.

The 2014-15 Plous Award recipient is Krzysztof Janowicz, an assistant professor in the Department of Geography. Jano is the first member of the UCSB Department of Geography to win this award in its 57 year-long history. Professor Janowicz will deliver the annual Harold J. Plous Lecture in winter or spring quarter, 2015. Professor Janowicz works on computational methods to improve the publishing, retrieval, reuse, and integration of data without the need to restrict the semantic heterogeneity of these data which results from different cultures, backgrounds, perspectives, granularities, and so forth. His STKO lab investigates the role of Space and Time for Knowledge Organization. Within the realm of the Semantic Web, Linked Data, Web Science, and ontology research, Jano is especially interested in studying what human behavior reveals about place categories and how to leverage similarity and analogy reasoning models from cognitive science to improve geographic information retrieval. Methodologically, his niche is the combination of theory-driven (e.g., semantics) and data-driven (e.g., data mining) techniques.

Jano feels very honored and would like to thank the Geography Department, his colleagues, and his students for their support and the research collaborations that made this award possible. They, in turn, consider it an honor and a privilege to have Jano as part of the Geography team.

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Dr. Krzysztof Janowicz joined the UCSB Geography Department as an Assistant Professor of Geographic Information Science in 2011. Before that, Krzysztof was an Assistant Professor at the GeoVISTA Center of the Department of Geography at Pennsylvania State University, and before moving to the U.S., he was working as postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Geoinformatics at the University of Münster in Germany for the international research training group on Semantic Integration of Geospatial Information. Krzysztof did his PhD on similarity-based information retrieval for the Geospatial Semantic Web at the Münster Semantic Interoperability Lab (MUSIL). Before starting his academic career, Krzysztof was working as a software developer and Internet security consultant and was also running his own Information Technology company. To ensure that he did not have to spend his entire life in front of a computer (as he put it), Krzysztof also studied Ecology at the University of Münster, Germany.

October 28, 2014 - Ansel Lundberg Interns at AAG for Fall Semester

Ansel Lundberg is a fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, working on a B.A. in Geography and English. His interests include geographic information systems, urban and transportation geography, and environmental literary criticism and theory. After graduating, he is interested in living and working in an American city for a few years and eventually returning to university. He plans to work towards a master’s in public administration or to teach high school English. With his degrees, he hopes to incorporate processes of time and place into better managing municipalities and regional governments so that all citizens have fair access to resources, no matter their location.

As an intern at the AAG this fall, he will be working on the Association’s guide to geography programs and various Eye on Earth projects to better utilize environmental data from national governmental agencies. When he’s not at work or studying, he enjoys reading American literature, enjoying craft beer, and backpacking” (source: AAG Newsletter).

Editor’s note: Many thanks to Crystal English, a PhD Student in our Joint Geography Doctoral Program with SDSU, for bringing this material to our attention.

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“I like reading, and I like knowing where I am” (from Ansel’s Facebook page)

October 28, 2014 - Weather History Time Machine

A new software program allows researchers to look back in time to see how precipitation across the globe contributed to major weather events. The following is a San Diego State University Research Story written by Michael Price and posted on October 15, 2013, with the title above:

During the 1930s, North America endured the Dust Bowl, a prolonged era of dryness that withered crops and dramatically altered where the population settled. Land-based precipitation records from the years leading up to the Dust Bowl are consistent with the telltale drying-out period associated with a persistent dry weather pattern, but they can’t explain why the drought was so pronounced and long-lasting.

The mystery lies in the fact that land-based precipitation tells only part of the climate story. Building accurate computer reconstructions of historical global precipitation is tricky business. The statistical models are very complicated, the historical data is often full of holes, and researchers invariably have to make educated guesses at correcting for sampling errors.

The high degree of difficulty and expertise required means that relatively few climate scientists have been able to base their research on accurate models of historical precipitation. Now, a new software program developed by a research team including San Diego State University Distinguished Professor of Mathematics and Statistics Samuel Shen will democratize this ability, allowing far more researchers access to these models.

“In the past, only a couple dozen scientists could do these reconstructions,” Shen said. “Now, anybody can play with this user-friendly software, use it to inform their research, and develop new models and hypotheses. This new tool brings historical precipitation reconstruction from a ‘rocket science’ to a ‘toy science.’” The National Science Foundation–funded project is a collaboration between Shen, University of Maryland atmospheric scientist Phillip A. Arkin, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climatologist Thomas M. Smith.

Prescribed oceanic patterns are useful for predicting large weather anomalies. Prolonged dry or wet spells over certain regions can reliably tell you whether, for instance, North America will undergo an oceanic weather pattern such as the El Nino or La Nina patterns. The problem for historical models is that reliable data exists from only a small percentage of the earth’s surface. About eighty-four percent of all rain falls in the middle of the ocean with no one to record it. Satellite weather tracking is only a few decades old, so for historical models, researchers must fill in the gaps based on the data that does exist.

Shen, who co-directs SDSU’s Center for Climate and Sustainability Studies Area of Excellence, is an expert in minimizing error size inside model simulations. In the case of climate science, that means making the historical fill-in-the-gap guesses as accurate as possible. Shen and his SDSU graduate students Nancy Tafolla and Barbara Sperberg produced a user-friendly, technologically advanced piece of software that does the statistical heavy lifting for researchers. The program, known as SOGP 1.0, is based on research published last month in the Journal of Atmospheric Sciences. The group released SOGP 1.0 to the public last week, available by request.

SOGP 1.0, which stands for a statistical technique known as spectral optimal gridding of precipitation, is based on the MATLAB programming language, commonly used in science and engineering. It reconstructs precipitation records for the entire globe (excluding the Polar Regions) between the years 1900 and 2011 and allows researchers to zoom in on particular regions and timeframes.

For example, Shen referenced a region in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that sometimes glows bright red on the computer model, indicating extreme dryness, and sometimes dark blue, indicating an unusually wet year. When either of these climate events occur, he said, it’s almost certain that North American weather will respond to these patterns, sometimes in a way that lasts several years. “The tropical Pacific is the engine of climate,” Shen explained.

In the Dust Bowl example, the SOGP program shows extreme dryness in the tropical Pacific in the late 1920s and early 1930s — a harbinger of a prolonged dry weather event in North America. Combining this data with land-record data, the model can retroactively demonstrate the Dust Bowl’s especially brutal dry spell. “If you include the ocean’s precipitation signal, the drought signal is amplified,” Shen said. “We can understand the 1930s Dust Bowl better by knowing the oceanic conditions.”

The program isn’t a tool meant to look exclusively at the past, though. Shen hopes that its ease of use will encourage climate scientists to incorporate this historical data into their own models, improving our future predictions of climate change. Researchers interested in using SOGP 1.0 can request the software package as well as the digital datasets used by the program by e-mailing with the subject line, “SOGP precipitation product request,” followed by your name, affiliation, position, and the purpose for which you intend to use the program.

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Shen and colleagues created a video showcasing their historical precipitation data. At 00:31 (July 1933 - June 1934), you can see the extreme dryness in the Pacific Ocean preceding the Dust Bowl. From the SDSU article.
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Annual global-average precipitation from 1900 to 2011, reconstructed from the method used in this paper. Zero anomalies correspond to GPCP climatology of 2.65 mm day−1. Figure 1 from the article in the Journal of Atmospheric Sciences.
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On June 26, 2012 in Toronto, SDSU Professor of Mathematics and Statistics, Dr. Sam Shen, received the Arthur Beaumont Distinguished Service Award at CAIMS. Sam Shen joined SDSU in 2006 as the Department Chair of Mathematics and Statistics. Prior to this appointment, he was a professor at University of Alberta, Canada for 15 years. He was actively involved in the Canadian communities of both applied and pure mathematics. In 2003-2005, he served as a Vice President of Canadian Mathematical Society, which is mainly for pure math. Dr. Shen has a broad interest of research in applied mathematics, but he focuses on climate change data analysis. He applies statistical tools to quantify uncertainties in the climate data from both observations and models. He currently directs the SDSU Lab of Climate Informatics, which is funded by a number of agencies, including National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and NASA.

October 22, 2014 - Salary Data and Trends for Geography Careers

Thinking about a career in geography? The Association of American Geographers is glad to help you tap into important resources to explore and plan your career!

There are many different occupations that require knowledge of and skills in geography. Using information from the US Department of Labor, the AAG has compiled data on a broad list of occupations (over 90!) related to geography. Using this online careers database, you can explore the diversity of career opportunities available to geographers, as well as retrieve data on salaries, projected growth, demand for key skills, and much more to guide your career planning. For each occupation, you can retrieve a description with related job titles, salary and trends data, as well as links for further exploration (source:

The various occupations in the database are grouped in categories based on the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS), which is a "standard for use by Federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the collection, analysis, and publication of statistical data related to the business economy of the U.S." (see NAICS FAQ).

Use the listing below to select one of the major NAICS sectors and view information about occupations for that sector. Enjoy the journey as you explore the wide array of career opportunities available to geographers!

“The AAG offers a variety of resources to answer questions, guide your career planning, and help you find a job. AAG members can access job announcements through the Jobs in Geography Center. Members and non-members alike are invited to explore our profiles of individual geographers; information about specific occupations, skills, and salary trends; and an assortment of other career advice and information” (source).

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AAG logo
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AAG jobs and careers graphic
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AAG Health Geography Wordle (Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text).
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Why study Geography at UCSB?
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UCSB Geography logo

October 20, 2014 - 2014 on Track to be Hottest Year on Record

The following is a Climate Central article by science journalist Andrea Thompson, posted September 18, 2014, with the title above:

Just days after NASA data showed that August 2014 was the warmest August on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed the ranking and raised the ante: There’s a good chance 2014 could become the warmest year on record. “If we continue a consistent departure from average for the rest of 2014, we will edge out 2010 as the warmest year on record,” said Jake Crouch, a climatologist with NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, during a press briefing Thursday. Specifically, if each of the remaining months of the year ranks among the top five warmest, 2014 will take the top spot, he said.

The news may come as a surprise to those living in the eastern portion of the U.S., which has seen a relatively cool year so far, with a frigid winter followed by a near-average summer (which seemed extremely mild compared to recent steamy summers). But the global picture shows that the East was “pretty much the only land area in the globe that had cooler-than-average temperatures,” Crouch said. (The western U.S., on the other hand, has been baking.)

For the year-to-date, the globe has measured 1.22°F above the 20th century average of 57.3°F, which makes January-August 2014 the third warmest such period since records began in 1880. The record-hot August marks the 38th consecutive August and the 354th consecutive month with a global average temperature above the 20th century average, according to the NCDC.

The oceans have fueled much of this year’s warmth, with parts of the Indian Ocean and central Pacific, among other spots, recording their record warmest conditions in both August and the entire January-August period. “And most of the oceans were much warmer than average” during that period, Crouch said.

The Pacific warmth is due in part to the El Nino that has been struggling to develop there for much of the year. An El Nino is defined by warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical central and eastern Pacific and tends to raise global temperatures; some El Nino years rank among the warmest on record.

Of the five warmest years on record (2010, 2005, 1998, 2013, and 2003, in that order), only 2013 and 2014 didn’t start with a mature El Nino, according to NOAA. Of the top 10 warmest years on record, 1998 is the only year that didn’t occur in the 21st century, showing how much global temperatures have risen due to the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

While some argue that a weak El Nino has arrived, it has not yet been officially declared by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, which makes such a ruling when the temperatures in a particular region of the eastern Pacific reach 0.5°C (0.9°F) above normal for more than a month and when the atmospheric patterns typically seen with an El Nino are in place. These patterns haven’t been seen yet, and the temperatures have only recently crossed the threshold, said CPC scientist Dan Collins during the briefing.

If the El Nino does officially develop, which has been given a 65 percent chance of occurring over the rest of the year, “that’s another sign that global conditions will continue to be warm for the rest of 2014,” Crouch said, bolstering the chances that 2014 will top the record books.

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Temperature departures around the world for the period from January-August 2014, which ranks as the 3rd warmest such period on record. Credit: NOAA
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The temperatures so far in 2014 compared to the top 5 warmest years on record. Credit: NOAA
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The top 10 warmest years on record globally, according to NOAA data.
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NOAA’s seasonal outlook (from the Climate Prediction Center, op. cit.)
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In its National Climatic Data Center October release, NOAA announced that “The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for September 2014 was the highest on record for September, at 0.72°C (1.30°F) above the 20th century average of 15.0°C (59.0°F).”

October 20, 2014 - Only Six Northern White Rhinos Left on Earth

A 34-year-old male northern white rhino has died in a wildlife conservancy in Kenya, leaving only six northern white rhinos left in the world. Ari Phillips, writing for (“Death of Northern White Rhino Leaves Only Six Left In Existence,” October 19, 2014), goes on to say: “Suni, one of four northern white rhinos living in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, was the first-ever northern white rhino to be born in captivity. He arrived at the conservancy in 2009 from Dvůr Králové Zoo in Czech Republic as part of a breeding program along with another male and two females.

The cause of his death is yet to be determined. His father Saút died in 2006 of natural causes at the same age as Suni. No northern white rhinos are known to have survived in the wild, and Suni was one of the last two breeding males in the world leaving the future of his species in serious doubt.

‘The species now stands at the brink of complete extinction, a sorry testament to the greed of the human race,’ said the conservancy in a statement. The conservancy will continue to work towards breeding a northern white rhino calf. In 2012, Suni entered a courtship ritual and mated with another northern white rhino named Najin, however the mating did not result in a pregnancy.

The northern white rhino is the world’s rarest large mammal. While it is often considered one of two subspecies of white rhinoceros — the southern white rhino being the other — recent research has found that the northern white rhino may indeed be a distinct species. Having once ranged across Southern Africa, southern white rhinos were considered extinct in the late 19th century. Then in 1895, a small population of less than 100 individuals was discovered in South Africa. Now there are about 20,000 southern white rhinos living protected areas, making them the only non-endangered rhino.

Formerly found in several countries in East and Central Africa south of the Sahara, the northern white rhino was decimated by poaching, with their wild population reduced from around 500 to 15 in the 1970s and 1980s. In Asia, rhino horn was used as a traditional medicine and is often now used as a status symbol of success, especially in Vietnam. It can sell for more than gold or platinum.

According to a recent report from the World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London, the Earth has lost half its vertebrate species — mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians — since 1970. The report found that the worst declines of animal populations have occurred among developing, low-income nations. About seven percent of the overall decline could be attributed to climate change, according to the report, with over one-third due to exploitation such as poaching, while most of the rest was due to habitat alteration, degradation, or loss.

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The white rhinoceros or square-lipped rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) is the largest and most numerous species of rhinoceros that exists. It has a wide mouth used for grazing and is the most social of all rhino species. The white rhinoceros consists of two subspecies: the southern white rhinoceros, with an estimated 17,460 wild-living animals at the end of 2007 (IUCN 2008), and the much rarer northern white rhinoceros. The northern subspecies has very few remaining, with six confirmed individuals left, with only four still able to reproduce (Including those in captivity) (Wikipedia: White rhinoceros)
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Northern White Rhino cows Najin & Fatu at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Photo: African Wildlife Defence Force (AWDF) (Wikipedia: Northern white rhinoceros)
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Formerly found in several countries in East and Central Africa south of the Sahara, the Northern white rhino is considered Critically Endangered or Extinct in the Wild. Range map in orange (Ibid.)

October 20, 2014 - Joel Michaelsen: All Star Athlete, Academic, and Administrator

Geography Professor Joel Michaelsen was one of four UCSB alumnae honored at the 2014 Annual Alumni Awards Luncheon on October 11. Joel was honored with the Graver University Service Award which was presented to him by Chancellor Yang for his exemplary service as a scholar, faculty leader, and distinguished administrator.

According to the Alumni Association: "In 1991, the Alumni Service Award, named after influential Association board member Chuck Graver, was created to honor those who demonstrated exceptional leadership and service to the University through involvement with the Alumni Association. In the last 50 years, the Alumni Association has honored more than 200 individuals. As the excellence of UC Santa Barbara and its alumni has grown, these awards have highlighted the men and women who have brought distinction to their alma mater" (source).

UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang made the following announcement about Michaelsen’s appointment as Interim Executive Vice Chancellor: “Following broad consultation with our Academic Senate and administrative and faculty colleagues, I am pleased to announce that Professor Joel Michaelsen has graciously agreed to serve as our Interim Executive Vice Chancellor, effective Friday, January 17, 2014, pending Presidential approval, until the next EVC is in place.

As a UCSB alumnus and distinguished faculty member since 1982, Professor Michaelsen has lent his wisdom and expertise to help our university in countless ways over the years, including as chair of our Academic Senate from 2006 to 2010 and as department chair of Geography from 1991 to 1997. He is an exemplar of the importance and value of shared governance at UC Santa Barbara and has chaired or served on a broad range of campus committees, including the Chancellor’s Coordinating Committee on Budget Strategy, Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Faculty and Staff Housing, Campus Planning Committee, Design Review Committee, Chancellor’s Campus Sustainability Committee, and many more.

Dr. Michaelsen is a dedicated teacher and mentor and an outstanding researcher, renowned for his expertise in climatology, climate change, and statistics. Within our Department of Geography, he founded the UCSB Climate Hazard Group, which specializes in looking at the climate-related components of food-security in developing nations through the lens of geography. We greatly appreciate Professor Michaelsen’s long-standing devotion to our campus and his willingness to help ensure a smooth transition by taking on this critical interim role.”

To quote Professor David Lopez-Carr regarding the Alumni Awards Luncheon: "Representing Geography, Dan Montello, Ray Smith, and I were at the table with Joel. The others seated with us, in addition to Joel’s wife, were Henry Yang and our new EVC David Marshall, which suggests how much Joel’s contributions are valued by our campus administration. Dan noted that the bottles of wine at our table were VIP level juice.” Dan commented: "Joel gave a very charming speech that was warmly received. We all felt proud and just a little sad at the passing of time marked by this ceremony. Yes, I could see that our table had some really nice bottles of wine (a little pricey), while the othertables had only serviceable bottles. Too bad I had to return to my office afterwards - nothing but ice tea for me!"

Image 1 for article titled "Joel Michaelsen: All Star Athlete, Academic, and Administrator"
Joel Michaelsen served as chair of Geography from 1991 to 1997, chair of the Academic Senate from 2006 to 2010, and Interim Executive Vice Chancellor for the past year. On top of his service to the University, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Use of Remote Sensing for Human Welfare applications and on the proposal review panel of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Global Change
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Joel Michaelsen in his college days at UCSB. He earned his degree in geography in 1969. As a high school student, Joel was a decorated four-sport athlete and former student body president
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Joel Michaelsen during his graduate school years. He earned a master's degree and a PhD from UC Berkeley
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Joel's Climate Hazard Group, established in fall, 2002. The climate hazard group specializes in applying climatology to problems of food security: "We act as intermediaries between institutions specializing in forecasts, such as the NOAA climate prediction center (CPC ) and users of climate forecast and monitoring data, such as the agronomists and economists evaluating food security for the Famine Early Warning System Network (
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