2021 marked another year of weird and extreme weather events across the U.S. and beyond. The year brought with it raging wildfires in the West, unusual plummeting temperatures in the South, another record-breaking hurricane season, and unseasonal and deadly tornadoes in the Midwest. But 2021 also brought us incredible advances in areas like science, medical technology, and sustainability.
Columnist Ann Marie Gardner got the chance to sit down with some of the brilliant people who contributed to these advancements, and here we've rounded up some of our favorite interviews to revisit as we look ahead at the New Year. From scientists and researchers to artists and engineers, we learned something new from each conversation, and are looking forward to another year of interviews in 2022.
All about avalanches
Meet Stephan Harvey, a researcher behind the White Risk avalanche app, which offers a dizzying and comprehensive exploration of avalanches through illustrations, maps, 3-D graphics, and videos showing the mesmerizing devastation of avalanches. Read more >>>
"You cannot buy expensive equipment and consider yourself safe. You have to be educated and know how avalanches happen, what triggers them, and how to travel safely through avalanche terrain."
(STORM) CHASING THE PERFECT SHOT
When Emmy-winning, storm-chasing photographer Mike Olbinski is not watching his favorite team, the Phoenix Suns, you can find him roaming the Central Plains, chasing storms and his next photo opportunity. His time-lapse films and photographs are truly epic, and his work has appeared everywhere, from ads for Allstate to Lamborghini commercials and even Thor 2! Read more >>>
"When we started, there were no smartphones or internet. Our whole network of information was different. In 2000, we started to use mobile phones to measure automatic weather stations. With the advance in technology of weather stations, nowadays, we can place weather stations in remote areas where nobody lives and can measure every 30 minutes. It’s very useful."
MAKING SENSE OF AIR QUALITY
Olivia Ryder, the lead scientist at Kids Making Sense, by Sonoma Technology tells us about deploying air sensors as an education tool and the importance of air quality education in schools. Kids Making Sense is an air quality curriculum and kit that teaches middle school and high school students how to measure air pollution, interpret the data they collect, and take action to reduce emissions and exposure to air pollution around them. Read More >>>
"We realized there was a need for environmental education in classrooms. The program evolved organically. It started out as a few lessons. Our scientists would go out to classrooms and teach. It developed and we put together a whole kit that we market to schools...It empowers students to drive positive change during a time when they are forming their own transportation and consumption habits."
Get your flood risk report
Matthew Eby is the founder of the First Street Foundation, a non-profit research group that has turned flood risk into a useful consumer tool. Their new report is a bombshell, building on their database and quantifies the risk of floods to homeowners in the U.S. Read More >>>
"Over 4 million homes will face annual financial losses from flooding that are 4.5 times their current NFIP premium, and that will increase to 6.2 times over the next 30 years. Said another way, 4.5 million homes could have their insurance go from roughly $980 a year to $4,400 a year."
GEARING UP TO COOL DOWN
Professor Yi Cui serves as director for Stanford's Precourt Institute for Energy, where he applies nanotechnology to solve environmental problems around water, air pollution, energy storage, and smart wearable textiles. With rising temperatures across the globe and record heat-related deaths, Tempest reached out to Yi Cui to talk about innovation on the horizon that can manage our body's adaptation to extreme temperatures. Read more >>>
"My lab invented a new type of fabric that lets MIR from the human body pass directly through it, cooling by about 3° C. If you feel cooler, this material will allow you to turn down the AC by 3 degrees, saving 30% of energy. In winter, we can save another 30-40% by keeping you warmer so you can turn the heat down. This is how we want to change the world."
better data for better decisions
WeatherFlow-Tempest's CEO Buck Lyons knows weather data. The entrepreneur has been in the private weather business for more than 20 years. But he supports collaboration between the private and public weather sectors, asserting that each needs the other to adequately leverage our respective strengths and resources to achieve common goals. Read more >>>
"We provide data to NOAA from Tempest stations without charge because it’s good for the community and ultimately that is good for us. We try to be complementary to existing government organizations when it comes to protecting people, especially from broad weather events, where organizations like NOAA exist to help."