by Aisha Keown-Lang '18
Storm Juno, named after the Roman goddess of love, was pretty fun — students across the East Coast enjoyed cancelled classes and an impromptu pajama day. Juno was an example of a storm gone “right” — that is to say, it was underwhelming. While the Weather Channel and media promised us the “blizzard of the century,” those of us who ventured outside know that it was just some heavy snow and a few gusty winds.
How much did you prepare for Storm Juno? If you are like most people, you bought a few extra snacks and bunkered down inside to avoid the cold. Deciding how much to prepare for any natural disaster is a serious issue; during Hurricane Katrina, as with other storms, many deaths were the result of a lack of preparedness. The reason for this lack of preparation, however, may surprise you. A study published in 2014 garnered substantial media coverage with its claim that female-named hurricanes are more deadly than male-named hurricanes because sexist biases lead them to believe female hurricanes are less dangerous. As a result, people tend to prepare less for storms with female names, which can have deadly consequences.
by Sarah Blunt ‘17
Eavesdropping on my classmates’ conversations around campus on a particularly cold day a few weeks ago (all in the name of science), I was surprised to hear the words “El Niño,” and “global warming” almost as often as “cold,” “brr,” and “polar vortex.” I remembered learning about El Niño in high school, but I couldn’t see how it related to global warming, if at all. I decided to do some digging, to inform the population of Brunonia once and for all about what El Niño is, how it’s measured, and how it relates to global warming.
El Niño is a result of the continuous exchange of water between the Earth’s atmosphere and its largest ocean, the Pacific. (It’s just a large-scale water cycle). Periodic disruptions in this cycle that stem from massive, planet-traversing ocean waves cause pressure differences between the ocean and the water-vapor-filled atmosphere. These differences are cyclical, just like the massive waves that cause them, and therefore have both high and low pressure extremes. El Niño occurs when the difference between the pressures of the atmosphere and the Pacific is lowest, and is characterized by increased precipitation and higher temperatures in equatorial regions of the Earth. Since the Earth’s atmosphere flows (it’s a fluid, after all, mostly made up of water vapor), these El Niño conditions can have far-reaching effects all around the globe . In Rhode Island, for example, the average temperature during an El Niño year is almost 2 degrees hotter than during a normal year!