Monday, January 4, 2010

Anchors away!

(The view from inside an Snow Cave)

Just thought I would share one option of exploration in these winter months! This photo is from a snow cave class I taught last year near Lake Tahoe. Anyway, let's get this year of nature exploration underway! If you are new to this blog, or you have not yet done so, please make sure you can locate the cardinal directions from where you live. Also, discover what watershed you live in, and make sure you can identify harmful plants such as poison ivy, and stinging nettles. Also make sure you are aware of what wild animals might be of concern such as raccoons, coyotes, deer, bees, and skunks.

For this entry we are going to discuss selecting an Anchor Spot for you and your children. If you are working with kids in an environmental education setting, you can at least introduce your students to the concept of a an Anchor Spot. If time permits during your program, perhaps you can have your kids have at least one Anchor Spot experience.

An Anchor Spot is somewhere outside that is close to your house or a place you visit frequently. It is a place where you and your kids can sit comfortably and have a good view of the surrounding area. The spot you chose may be a spot that you already spend time in anyway such as a garden or porch. The idea of an Anchor Spot is to develop a spot where you sit and notice changes in the area around you. For our first visit simply head out and find a spot that you are attracted to or looks like a good spot to sit in. If you and your kids are choosing Anchor Spots together, you can decide if you want to have your spots together or separate. Either is fine.

Once you find your Anchor Spot, have a seat and get to know your area. Look around with normal vision and your Coyote Eyes. Use you Deer Ears and take a few sniffs of the area and see what you notice. Are you sitting in a windy spot, or is it calm? You can also start a Nature Journal, or continue one you already have. You could start by listing the plants and trees in your Anchor Spot. You do not have to list scientific or even common names. Call them whatever you want. We can get into naming things later. Also list any unique things in your area. We will use the Anchor Spot frequently during the next year. If you can, visit your Anchor Spot at least once a week for about 15 minutes. Try and visit it at different times of day just to see what your spot looks like at different times. If you live in a city, or area where you do not have a space outside, choose a spot near a window that provides you with a view of the outside world.

Your Anchor Spot(s) can be used to work on almost all of the activities posted in this blog. It can become an easy place to build awareness of the natural world just outside your back door! So get out there and just don't do anything, sit and enjoy the world around you!

Remember that if you have any ideas, comments, or thoughts please send me an email:

Nature Nugget: The Jet Stream.

Weather in the winter seems to occupy more of our nightly news than other times of the year. Constant reports of record low temperatures, snowfall, rain, sleet, etc seem to dominate the news. For example, it was -37 (without wind chill) this morning in International Falls MN. Now that is proper cold! One factor that is taken into account when weather forecasts are made is the Jet Stream.

Jet streams are fast flowing, narrow air currents found in out atmosphere. The main jet streams are located near the tropopause, the transition area between the troposphere (where temperature decreases with height) and the stratosphere (where temperature increases with height). The major jet streams on Earth flow from west to east. Their paths usually have a meandering shape; jet streams may start, stop, split into two or more parts, combine into one stream, or flow in various directions including the opposite direction of most of the jet. In short, Jet Streams are mobile things!

The strongest jet streams on Earth are the polar jets, at around 23,000–39,000 ft above sea level, and the higher and somewhat weaker subtropical jets at around 33,000–52,000 ft. Both hemispheres have a polar jet and a subtropical jet.

Jet streams on Earth are caused by a combination of atmospheric heating through solar radiation and the Earth’s rotation on its axis. Meteorologists use the location of the jet streams as an aid in creating weather forecasts. The other main relevance of the jet streams to us humans is in air travel. And one future benefit of jet streams could be to power airborne wind turbines. An estimation is that if we were able to capture around 1% of the wind energy in a Jet Stream, we could produce all the energy we currently need. 

The website below has a whole bunch of information on current jet stream movement.

Websites to Check Out:
If you live in a cold and or snowy area, check
out this website from NOAA:

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