Blog me like a hurricane
What can a museum–a place generally associated with old, dusty stuff–tell you about the weather right now? Well, we do try to keep things as up-to-date as possible around here, but it’s hard to update traditional exhibits for one-time events (no matter how BIG those one time events might be). The monster storm Sandy is pummeling the East Coast right now, so here are a few ways for you to think like a scientist during the storm.
1. First let’s take a moment to appreciate the wind. Sandy’s swirling winds are mesmerizing, and you can see them here in this real-time map: http://hint.fm/wind
This visualization is based on data from the National Weather Service. Taking raw data and presenting it in an attractive visual format is one of the main goals of museum exhibits. This particular site is simple, elegant, and easy to understand, exactly what we hope most exhibits will be. Of course you can bookmark it, but this wind site can also be viewed in one of the Investigate Labs in the Nature Research Center.
2. Water, water everywhere! When scientists see a storm like this, one question they have is how to analyze the water involved–where did it come from? Where does it end up? To that end, they collect precipitation samples and analyze the isotopes of the elements in the water. It’s difficult to collect data from such a large area, so they often request help. If you live in Sandy’s path and you’re willing to collect rain and snow samples for study, go to the SciStarter website to learn more.
3. When in doubt, go to the most reliable source. For weather info, that’s NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Their Environmental Visualization Laboratory has the most recent images from weather satellites, like the geostationary GOES-13 satellite, which updates every 30 minutes. When we develop content for exhibits, resources like these make a world of difference.
4. Stay safe! Scientists who work in dangerous conditions–whether that means outside in a storm like Sandy or inside a laboratory with toxic chemicals–always take measures to protect themselves. You should too!