elnino

Posted by & filed under CSAG blog, Frontpage.

A lot of attention has been given to the consequences of the latest strong El Niño event. Were these a surprise? Where do we get our notions of what we expect? A lot of ‘big picture’ intuition about climate patterns and variation comes from some rather straightforward statistical methods. I wanted to briefly unpack a bit about how this is gone about and what such results are, and are not, indicative of. That post can be found here.

I’ve set the blog-post in a different platform because it has a few subtle differences in construction than other blog sites. Some of these are just convenience factors, or some aspects of the set up that I find more intuitive. The main reason for this post, however, is that I wanted to try working with Authorea and GitHub (where the code that generates the images in the post is available). What I find interesting about these sites is that they aren’t designed so much as to be pedestals for content, their primary raison d’être is to be tools that assist collaboration. Paul Valery is credited with saying “an artist never really finishes their work, they merely abandon it”. I suspect that’s quite true, and that’s not a negative thing. Nothing is ever really complete(ed), or really original. We’re all picking up the pieces of what we find around, fixing mistakes, discarding what’s irrelevant or undesirable to us, and reassembling and reapplying what we find useful [1].

These tools are designed to further that process. There are some drawbacks to this. For example, I realized earlier today that I had incorrectly set the grid-offset parameter in a many of my scripts, and so spent a portion of my afternoon rerunning these programs and updating the images on the blog site and the scripts on the code repository. This editing process has been diligently documented for all the world to see in the histories maintained by the two websites. But that’s the point. There aren’t definitive documents, or authoritative procedures, it’s just a record of what I’ve been messing around with, and how far I’ve gotten with it to date. There’s no reason by next week they can’t be something completely different, or copied, altered, and then remade in a different direction. Hopefully because someone found them to be a useful starting point.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Hopefully giving some credit to those who helped us in the process. In an imperfect attempt to practice this I’m acknowledging that  the cover image for this post was generated by NOAA,although I couldn’t find the original image, that’s just the source that all of the many websites I found that have re-posted it have claimed.

 

 

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