→ Climate Modeling

What if humans continue to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at a rising rate? How will this affect global climate? How will the biosphere (life on Earth) respond to these changes? Actually, these questions were first asked more than 100 years ago by Swedish physicist Svante Arrhenius.

Interesting write-up by David Herring (from 1999) about climate modeling using computer models, different model types (simulation vs. data-driven), their role and function, caveats and their potential to help us understand the future.

→ Bangladesh Confronts Climate Change

River deltas around the globe are particularly vulnerable to the effects of rising seas, and wealthier cities like London, Venice and New Orleans also face uncertain futures. But it is the poorest countries with the biggest populations that will be hit hardest, and none more so than Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated nations in the world. In this delta, made up of 230 major rivers and streams, 160 million people live in a place one-fifth the size of France and as flat as chapati, the bread served at almost every meal.

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Bangladesh relies almost entirely on groundwater for drinking supplies because the rivers are so polluted. The resultant pumping causes the land to settle. So as sea levels are rising, Bangladesh’s cities are sinking, increasing the risks of flooding. Poorly constructed sea walls compound the problem.

The country’s climate scientists and politicians have come to agree that by 2050, rising sea levels will inundate some 17 percent of the land and displace about 18 million people, Dr. Rahman said.

[...]

Rising seas are increasingly intruding into rivers, turning fresh water brackish. Even routine flooding then leaves behind salt deposits that can render land barren.

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Mr. Karim estimated that as many as 50 million Bangladeshis would flee the country by 2050 if sea levels rose as expected.

Fascinating story in The New York Times about the devastation climate change, rising sea levels and coastal erosion have on a low-lying and poor country like Bangladesh.

☆ Climate Data Initiative

As part of an effort to make the public see global warming as a tangible and immediate problem, the White House on Wednesday inaugurated a website, climate.data.gov, aimed at turning scientific data about projected droughts and wildfires and the rise in sea levels into eye-catching digital presentations that can be mapped using simple software apps.

I had the great honor of attending the launch of this initiative and it will be interesting to see how it develops. The simple idea is to make all kinds of climate data that the government collects publically available so that anyone can use it, either directly or to build interesting applications that make use of it in novel ways.

It seems like a no-brainier.

→ Improved Gmail Security

Starting today, Gmail will always use an encrypted HTTPS connection when you check or send email. Gmail has supported HTTPS since the day it launched, and in 2010 we made HTTPS the default. Today's change means that no one can listen in on your messages as they go back and forth between you and Gmail's servers–no matter if you're using public WiFi or logging in from your computer, phone or tablet.

In addition, every single email message you send or receive—100% of them—is encrypted while moving internally. This ensures that your messages are safe not only when they move between you and Gmail's servers, but also as they move between Google's data centers–something we made a top priority after last summer's revelations.

Sounds like good steps to take given the recent security breaches by the NSA.

The cat and mouse game continues.

☆ Postgres Full Text Search

A common feature that a software application often needs to support is efficient text search. Search is simply expected to be available, and users want it to be fast. This article explores how efficient text search support can be provided by the underlying application database. We will look at Postgres and its built-in support for efficient indexed text search. But other database systems provide similar functionality.

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