Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I wanna start a fight

I don't really, but it looks a bit like some people do:

It is shown that the results of a previous analysis, which suggested a likely positive value for the short-term cloud feedback, depended upon combining all-sky radiative fluxes from NASA's Clouds and Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) with reanalysis clear-sky forecast fluxes when determining the cloud radiative forcing (CRF). These results are contradicted when ΔCRF is derived using both all-sky and clear-sky measurements from CERES over the same period.

This reads a bit like a criticism of a previous Dessler paper, and the man himself had plenty to say during the open review process. Which based on my armchair viewpoint, seems to have worked fairly well in this contentious case, which is ranked highly on the "most commented papers" list.  Whether it is the end of the matter, remains to be seen...

Anyway, ESD seems to be turning into quite an interesting journal.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Off the cliff

without fresh borrowing the government will run out of money by October.
We have the somewhat embarrassing situation here presently where a handful of research scientists have already been laid off and re-employed on casual contracts of about ¥1000/h (minimum wage is ¥800), with the supposed promise of a proper job if and when the money comes through. But recruitment for these proper jobs (which are themselves only short term contracts, naturally) has been frozen. (Let's not even mention that under the new "formal" procedures, all recruitment has to take place via open competition.)

Various managers seem to be running round in a panic. Jules and I have been "warned" that JAMSTEC HQ has only actually guaranteed our salaries to the end of September, at which point (back in April when this budget-shuffling was organised) a tranche of soft money had been expected to appear. However, our contracts clearly run for a full fiscal year, so I am interested to see if they will actually try to renege on them. Given the parlous state of employee rights here, it wouldn't entirely surprise me. I don't think that JAMSTEC is actually out of money, it is just that the bureaucrats would have to agree to change their budget plans, which usually takes several months of discussions. They might consider it simpler to break the contracts.

We are off on holiday in the middle of September, and I wonder what we will return to in October...of course the most likely outcome is that the Govt will cobble together a budget, on a promise of an early election. But even so, the money probably won't percolate as far as JAMSTEC in time. I suppose if I actually cared, it would be quite stressful, but at the moment I can't seem to make myself feel particularly bothered either way. For the future of climate science in Japan, it might be better if this entire field was taken over by an institute that had more of a commitment to it.

(FWIW, the position we are currently recruiting for seems entirely unaffected, as that is coming from a different fund.)

[jules' pics] Green Hoppity Monsters

Back to the normality of sea-level living - cute green grasshoppery crickety things are hopping around the neighbourhood, enjoying the unremitting heat of summer.

grasshopper or cricket
What cool back leg patterns.

But then I found a monster: AAaggggh!

Help help help - monster!!

I think it may be a shouryou-batta (ショウリョウバッタ)/ Acrida cinerea antennata/ oriental long-headed locust, but it looks rather more colourful than most of those I found online. I guess from its massive size (10cm+?) that it is a girl. I'd hate to meet the preying mantis that would gobble it up for tea.

The top photo is from my D90, and the lower one from the RX100. As a special treat, for those of you interested in the new RX100, I also took the monster's photo with my D90 (see here).

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/27/2012 01:51:00 PM

Friday, August 24, 2012

[jules' pics] Starbucks Green

Back from the mountains to normality, Japanese style.
Starbucks Green
British Racing Green isn't a specific colour, but any green that British teams have raced in. So said Wikipedia, last time I checked. Starbucks Green seems to be similarly vague.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/24/2012 09:36:00 PM

Thursday, August 23, 2012

[jules' pics] Mountain Views

Shiomidake and tree

The route

James on Kita Dake
3rd time lucky with the weather on Kita Dake, Japan's 2nd highest mountain.

clouds and mountains

A tree and mountains

MInami Alps

jules and Fuji-san

MInami Alp


Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/23/2012 06:06:00 PM

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

[jules' pics] Mountain Wildlife

The reader will be pleased to hear that we are nearing the end of the mountain photos.

Sometimes I think we should sneak more quietly through the mountains in order to see more wildlife but we generally walk quite noisily so as to avoid being eaten by the lions, tigers and bears. The Japanese mostly carry bear bells, or even radios. I bet the mother bears get really fed up of the cubs hankering after the latest noise-making gizmo.

Shika - Deer.
Mountain wildlife - deer

Raicho - Ptarmigan.
Mountain wildlife - raicho - ptarmigan

Hebi - Snake.
Mountain wildlife - sneek

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/22/2012 02:44:00 PM

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

[jules' pics] Mountain stream

On the tops of the mountains water is scarce with just the occassional spring. So after four days of trekking, descending down to 2300m this hut feels like an oasis, with its snazzy onsite water feature (a natural stream runs by the side of the hut). The experience is made 10 times better by the horrible rarity in Japan of any kind of stream or river that is not covered in concrete. We arrived early enough to go on photo safari. The lighting assistant was in charge of holding and adjusting the vari-ND filter.
Mountain stream

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/21/2012 10:34:00 AM

Monday, August 20, 2012

[jules' pics] Mountain huts

As previously mentioned, all the mountain huts serve beer. But they do not all have much in the way of bedding or room to sleep. However, the hut staff often find some extra space to put James in, and as we were out of the peak season we did not have too much trouble this time.

First, some huts that we didn't stay at... on the ridge before Kita Dake (2nd highest mountain in Japan) summit.
Katanokoya (hut on the shoulder)

Then this one is down the other side of Kita Dake.
Kita Dake Hut

Later we got to sleeping bag on wooden boards territory (we were ready and took thermarests this time!). But it is quite a picturesque hut, and it was from here that this view was taken at dawn (4:30am) the next day.

This one is a favourite, and one of the main reasons I wanted to do the walk again. Still not enough bedding, but a lovely location by a steam and plenty of excellent food.
Liccle Hutty
Hyakkenbora yama-no-ie

And here we are on the last night, waiting for people to pile in next to us. As you see, the big foreigners are put in one corner, and then other people are filled in from the other corners, so that the space next to us is the last to be filled. Eventually, the Olympic snoring champion arrived and took the spot, although there was still space for 3 or 4 Japanese between us and him.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/20/2012 04:51:00 PM

Saturday, August 18, 2012

More Minami Alps

Reverting (for the time being at least) to my previous habit of writing up our walking trips with a web page full of pictures, I bring you...

Friday, August 17, 2012

[jules' pics] Blue bell alpine flowers

The alpine flowers put us clumsy humans into perpective by growing in inaccessible places. I suppose we can still metaphorically tread on them through our climate changing activities, but they are probably in more immediate danger from the collapsing mountains. It was quite interesting how much of the path we trod 7 years ago through the Minami Alps has now disappeared over the cliffs. A Tokyo University geologist once told me that the mountains are going up faster than they are falling down, but it doesn't seem like it when you are there.

alpine blue bell flowers

My Japanese flower book says there are a number of kinds of these little blue bell flowers, but I can't tell them apart. James is the expert at photographing them.

alpine blue bell flowers

alpine blue bell flowers

alpine blue bell flowers

alpine blue bell flowers

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/17/2012 01:51:00 PM

Thursday, August 16, 2012

[jules' pics] Mountain Flowers

alpine flowers
A week of bright sunshine made for tricky flower photography, saved by the technical lighting assistant and his magic hat.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/16/2012 12:59:00 PM

Statistically improbable phrases

"As you are the prominent expert in the field of Environmental Biotechnology, we cordially welcome you to deliver a speech in the Congress."

Not the sort of thing I usually expect to see in my inbox. Neither am I tempted by the offer of a trip to China to find out if this is a real meeting. (Googling suggests the meeting might actually exist, but it's primarily a money-raising venture.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

[jules' pics] More Fuji-san


I have been wondering why the good people of flickr so much prefer this photo to the two I posted last week. I wouldn't say it's exactly "gone viral", but I don't self-promote my pix much, so 1700 views, 31 favourites, 12 comments, 1 gallery, an appearance on flickr's "explore" and on something called "reddit" are unheard of. I like the minimalism of the other two pictures, the colours, and the way they go together well (which doesn't come across on a single-pic-view site like flickr), despite being taken from different places.

But the crucial thing may be that the the first two photos seem to me to be an improvement over the origial view. Meanwhile, the goal of the third photo was to capture the layers of hills and cloud leading to Fuji-san. I thought I'd nailed it at the time, but now I think the original view was more wonderful. So that makes me pleased with the former pics and slightly disappointed with this one. Nevertheless, I guess I'll have to print it out and see how it looks on the wall.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/14/2012 02:18:00 PM

Monday, August 13, 2012

[jules' pics] Mountain resources

The mountain water comes out of the ground (via dodgy looking pipes),
mountain water

but at 3000m, the coffee comes in china cups.
mountai coffee

Provisions are brought in by helipcopter, but beer is available at every hut.
mountain beer

Here are all the requirements for a relaxing post-walk afternoon tea...
essential food groups
sake, coffee, chocolate, nuts and map.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/13/2012 12:49:00 PM

Thursday, August 09, 2012

[jules' pics] Fuji-san



We walked the Minami (South) Alps from North to South, which is towards Fuji-san. From about half way through the walk, it was visible for much of the time.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/10/2012 05:58:00 AM

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

[jules' pics] black and yellow and buzzy

alpine hoverflies

Little hoverflies buzz over the alpine flowers, although not usually in this density. There were also bigger hoverflies.
And then there were these:
James had seen a hornet warning at the bottom of the mountain path. And this caused us to notice the yellow and black stripyness of the enormous things buzzy around us every few minutes along the path. But Asian hornets are a like Fuji-san in the sense that they are so massive and dramatic that when you see the real thing you know it. And the behaviour of these didn't seem quite the same. Hornets can hover but they tend to fly with motivation - i.e. angrily towards something. These were sitting near the path and would loop, or figure of eight the two of us, 2-10 times as we walked past their territory. The best we could come up with was that they were stripped down happy mountain hornets. However, after return and much Googling, I found a British reference to a "hornet mimic hoverfly". And cropping my photo (I didn't want to get too close!) reveals a relatively smaller face, bigger eyes, and, crucially, the lack of bee-crushing mandibles, and inclusion of some kind of stabbing mechanism. They were, however, absolutely huge, but then so are our hornets, so I guess they have upped their game compared to the European ones...

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/09/2012 07:15:00 AM

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

[jules' pics] Mountain butterflies - and a bee.

I don't know why, but they are so much more amazing seen on the mountain, than in the butterfly house. Can anyone tell me what kind the amazing big brown and white one is?

James is now making serious moves to try and adopt my new RX100 camera! It could be a tough fight. It was pretty cool carrying 1.5kg less stuff and the 20Mpixel resolution is phenomenal.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/07/2012 05:25:00 PM

Monday, August 06, 2012

Time Management

The climate science community went a bit bonkers last month. People got thin and pale and stressed. The reason? There was a deadline! (as Gavin has already noted) The idea is that, in order to make the jobs of the IPCC AR5 authors tractable, papers to be quoted in second draft of the report should have been submitted to a journal by the end of July. I would have thought that at this 5th iteration of the IPCC report, climate scientists would be used to this, and be able to set sensible targets - but apparently not.  It seems that many people overestimate what they will do, and then work themselves into the ground.  How properly finished or well thought out are the papers that result? 

As coordinator of JUMP (Japan Uncertainty Modelling Project) which has a strong "towards IPCC" component, my main strategy towards this deadline has been to encourage everyone to publish their work over the last 5 years. This might sound odd but generally there is not a much pressure to publish in Japan - rather promotion is gained by pleasing your boss (shining his shoes, tidying his desk etc). The strategy seemed to work OK, with about 15 papers cited in the first order draft of the report. As James has previously mentioned, this compares rather well with other groups in Japan, but then, remember that they are under no pressure to publish...

After Gavin & Axel's meeting in Hawai'i in March we made a plan for which papers we needed to write in time for the deadline. Part of me wanted to just go on holidays, but we had requests from two IPCC authors to write up particular pieces, one by jules and one by James. I imagine it must be awkward for the authors to see relevent work presented at meetings and be unable to cite it, so we wrote these two papers into the plan. Our colleague (Tokuta Yokohata) in NIES was also working on an evaluation of the CMIP5 ensemble using our methods, so we put aside some time to help with that. Then there was the extra piece of work that I offered to do at the workshop to go towards the paper that Gavin was going to write. By late May the plan became a week-by-week schedule. Key to success was stopping James starting any new work after he had submitted his paper so he could contribute to the other papers. Extra things always pop up. This time it was revising 2 papers which came back from review. Despite that, the plan was completed with a few days to spare, which meant that, on the day of the deadline, jules and James were already off walking along the sunny ridges of the Japanese alps. 

The only not yet submitted paper is Gavin's one, but really that is his responsibility - we gave him our contribution in mid-June.  :-) I do, however, think that Gavin is correct - that papers should not be submitted in a shoddy state, as these merely waste the valuable time of reviewers. 

I return from holidays to find my email inbox stuffed full of papers to be edited!