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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Wednesday, December 16, 2015: The winds are testy; China products rock ... and suck

You know you're still a kid at heart when you see this and think "Ah, man, gotta try that!" 

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I'm finally pulling out for the winter ... anybody have a side yard you won't be using until spring? 

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Whadda ya tryin' to say??? 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015: The winds are testy, out of the NE, but will do a rapid shift, first east then south. Rain is a’comin’. While most folks realize rain is needed during the growing season, it is actually needed year around. Winter moisture, in all forms, secures the water table for spring. Spring is vernal pond times, when temporary ponds and puddles form to allow herptiles and other forms of water-based wildlife to reproduce. Water accumulated during winter and spring means life and death to that indispensable component of the ecosystem.

But enough on the arriving rain, it’s the wind that’ll make or break fishing for the next many days.  The SE winds will remain iffy into by Friday, when west winds will pour in, pushing 20 mph and gusty, through Saturday; dying down a bit by Sunday.

As I always note, with west winds there are often early-day calm-down periods. Sunrise to 9-ish. Just don’t count on them staying soft very long, this go’round.  

Wreck fishing or going offshore? Forgetaboutit. Winds will be blowing gale to near-gale into Sunday.

Above: www.jerseycatch.com

I took the ocean temp in Ship Bottom today and it’s holding steady at between 52 and 53. This weekend should see a huge dip in bay and inlet water temps, as land-based lows touch-down near freezing – and cold rains enter the system.

The ocean won’t be so responsive to the short bout with artic chilliness, especially when we get back into the 60s by next week. In fact, Pine Barrens locales will see 70 as a Christmas gift. Hey, for me, there’s no finer place to spend Christmas Day than in the outback – wearing a ton of orange for protection from any over-eager shotgunners.

I mentioned it yesterday but it’s worth a stocking stuffer repeat. Getting a subscription to “The Fisherman” is a great gift. It’s one of those things many anglers swear they’ll get around to getting -- but forget.

And, yes, I’m always promoting “news” publications. Even though most newspapers have on-line or “cloud” editions, I refuse to let ink media, i.e. hardcopy, die without a fight.

GO BOGA: I was told a hot gift item this Christmas is a better-quality BoGa Grip hand scale. I’m fully gung-ho with these scales because they’re perfect for catch/weigh/photograph/release fishing.

I will warn that these are more than simply stocking stuffers. Many good BoGa Grips run well over $100.

GO CHINA – OR NOT: You likely noticed my “better-quality” angle on those handscales. With China instantly trying to duplicate virtually any saleable item out there, I routinely worry that inferior Asian products, better known as knockoffs, might flood the market. Fishing items are no exception.

Below: ceramic bearing for fishing reels bracket made in china high quality Chinese supplier.

But, get this (for what it’s worth), there are better-quality items being made in China.

Hey, don’t kill the messenger. I’ve literally been researching this. Mark my word, the quality of Asian-made items depends on how closely USA companies monitor their overseas production. When micromanaging the fabrication of an item –literally eyeballing every single little step of production in China – a final product can be damn decent.

Yes, I just said that. Now, let’s return to shoddy-merchandising reality. Poorly monitored US-brand “Made in China” items leave things in the hands of, well, the Chinese. They will murder a product’s quality if left to their own devices.

Don’t think for a Hong Kong moment that Asians aren’t master crafters, world-class workers … when they wanna be. I believe it’s often the pinko Beijing government that turns a blind eye when factories cut corners on prescribed products bound for the USA.  Every dumb-down and corner-cutting pays those Communism charlatans greenback dividends. They gotta be chuckling all the way to the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China.  

Then there’s that knockoff thing, where products, seemingly identical to those first developed in America, are sketchily copied. It’s a flagrant form of marketplace deception and a mockery of our nation’s patent laws.

The look of a knockoff can be appealing but the inner quality is oft-purposely in the crapper. However, let those chintzy items hit the world shelves at a fraction of what the real item costs, non-discerning buyers ravenously bite. They’re convinced they’re getting a steal -- until moments after trying their alleged “just-as-good” bargain. Go ahead, try to return that insufferably poor-quality item to Shanghai. It was a steal alright.

(I bring this up because many fishing products are now made in China. Still, tackle shops stay in business selling better imports ... and domestic items. 

To be sure, whenever possible 

In fact, try to limit import-buying by doing close "Made in ..." checks of labels and packages. 

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Groupering down south ... 

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Don Brown

Wayne Beach with a 41 incher he caught yesterday .One of several fish beached and released.

Don Brown's photo.

The Arctic is Now Warmer Than it's Been Since 1900

 

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Alaska Dspatch News]  By Yereth Rosen  -  December 16, 2015

The 2015 Arctic Report Card, a project sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, details the state of weather, sea ice, snow cover and marine and wildlife habitat in the Arctic and subarctic, and how those have changed as the region continues to warm at about twice the global pace.

“We know this is due to climate change. And its impacts are creating major challenges for Arctic communities who depend on the region for sustenance and cultural identity. We also know what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic,” Rick Spinrad, NOAA’s chief scientist, said at a news conference at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, where the report card was unveiled.

Arctic change affects the global climate and international security, he said. “One could argue that the trailing indicators of the Arctic are in fact the leading indicators for the rest of the planet.”

This year’s Arctic Report Card, the 10th such annual report, was authored by 72 scientists from 11 nations. It comes days after governments of 196 nations reached an agreement in Paris to curb carbon dioxide emissions. The governments committed to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and set a more ambitious goal of achieving a 1.5-degree limit.

Would accomplishing that arrest or reverse Arctic climate change? Not in the short term, said a coauthor of the Arctic Report Card.

“Unfortunately, we passed some critical points on that,” Jim Overland, a NOAA oceanographer, said at the news conference. “If the globe goes to 2-degree warming, we’re looking at a 4- or 5-degree warming for the winter in the Arctic by 2040, 2050. That’s based upon the CO2 that we’ve already put into the atmosphere and will be putting in for the next 20 years.”

However, actions taken now to curb emissions will likely pay off later, Overland said. “We do know that with a reasonable mitigation scenario, that will slow down and have a big effect in the second half of the century,” he said. “The next generation may see an ice-free summer but, hopefully, their descendants will see a return of more sea ice later in the century.”

For now, sea ice is continuing its trend toward seasonal disappearance, according to the report card. In February, Arctic sea ice extent hit its annual maximum -- the lowest maximum since satellite records began in 1979. The melt season began 15 days earlier than average and was the second-earliest start in the 38-year satellite record. In February and March, the time of peak freeze, 70 percent was new and fragile first-year ice and only 3 percent was thick multiyear ice more than 4 years old. That compares to the situation in 1985, when 20 percent of the ice was more than 4 years old and only 35 percent was first-year ice, the report said.

The good news about sea ice, Overland said, is that it appears that there will not be a “tipping point” that scientists had feared. In 2007, after sea ice had hit what was a record low at the time, the concern was that future melt would be so severe that it would send the Arctic into one-way warming spiral, he said. But that seems not to be the case, he said.

Over the past year, the increase in Arctic air temperature was dramatic.

For lands north of 60 degrees latitude, average annual surface air temperatures were 1.3 degrees C  (2.3 F) warmer than the long-term average measured from 1981 to 2010 -- and 2.9-degrees C (5.2 F) warmer since the beginning of the 20th century, the report said. That means air temperatures over land in the circumpolar north were higher during the course of the past year than at any other time since detailed records first began being kept, the report said.

“Strong connections” between the usual warmth in the Arctic and conditions in more temperate latitudes were documented, the report said. That was particularly evident in the North Pacific, where warm air flowed across Alaska from November 2014 to June 2015, creating conditions that contributed to the state's second-biggest wildfire season on record, the report said.

Warming was evident in the waters of the circumpolar north as well, according to the Arctic Report Card.

Sea-surface temperatures in all seas of the Arctic Ocean are increasing, and the most dramatic warming over the past year was found in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska and eastern Baffin Bay off Greenland, where surface water temperatures have risen 0.5 degrees C (0.9 F) per decade since 1982, the report said. Melting sea ice is allowing much more sunlight to penetrate the upper levels of the ocean, causing widespread and “exceptional” phytoplankton blooms, the report said.

The warming trend is also putting more fresh water into the Arctic Ocean. Flow from the eight biggest Arctic rivers, including the Yukon and Mackenzie in North America, has increased 10 percent from the annual average recorded in the 1980s, the report said. Those changes, which include earlier peak discharge than in the past, are attributed to increased Arctic precipitation that is linked to warming.

Spring snowmelt continues to occur earlier, a trend previously observed, and June snowpack in the North American and Eurasian Arctic was the second lowest in a satellite record that goes back to 1967, the report card said.

One puzzling finding highlighted in the report is a trend to tundra “browning” -- the disappearance of plants in the Arctic. Until recently, high-latitude vegetation was blooming and spreading, but that process has reversed. Tundra greenness in 2014, the most recent year of measurement, was below the 33-year average, the report said.

What is the explanation? “It’s an excellent question. And we don’t have the answer to the question yet,” said Howard Epstein, a University of Virginia environmental scientist and coauthor of the report card. A drop in Arctic greenness lasting a year or two doesn’t attract much attention, but this trend has gone on for four years in some spots, so it has “actually just gotten on our radar,” he said at the news conference.


Other changes noted in the Arctic Report Card include:

• The past year’s unusual surface melt in Greenland, which was the most extensive since the record-low sea ice year of 2012;

• Threats to walruses, especially disappearing summer and fall sea ice, but also overhunting, ship traffic and offshore industrialization, including oil development;

• The northward migration of boreal fish, like cod, to higher latitudes, a trend most noticed in the Barents Sea; and

• The emerging work of local observer networks, such as the program established by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, and their role in supplying data to the world scientific community.

Some of the changes highlighted in the report card were predicted through modeling, but that is not always the case, Overland said.

“Almost every year we’re seeing new surprises on the rapidity of the types of changes that we’re seeing. So the real world with the data in the report card is the real information that things are rapidly evolving,” he said.

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Climate Researchers Employ Tool From 1800s: Whaling Logs

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Associated Press]  by Mark Pratt  -  December 16, 2015

Maritime historians, climate scientists and ordinary citizens are coming together on a project to study the logbooks of 19th-century whaling ships to better understand modern-day climate change and Arctic weather patterns.

Whaling ships kept meticulous daily logbooks of weather conditions during their often yearslong voyages searching the globe for whales, valued for their light-giving oil, said Michael Dyer, senior maritime historian at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, which is supplying much of the data.

Some logs include information about life on board, such as sailors falling overboard, or being disciplined for stealing or other transgressions, and of course, notations whenever whales are spotted. More important for this project, they include precise longitude and latitude measurements, weather conditions, the presence of icebergs and the edge of the ice shelf.

"If they're cruising in the Bering Strait and there's ice, there will be a notation in the logbook that ice fields are present," Dyer said.

The project, called Old Weather: Whaling, is led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The whaling museum is transcribing and digitizing its own logbooks, as well as original data sources from the Nantucket Historical Association, Martha's Vineyard Museum, Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, and the New Bedford Free Public Library.

The digitized logbooks are being posted online so ordinary "citizen-scientists" can help researchers sift through the vast amounts of information.

The museum has about 2,600 whaling logbooks dating from 1756 to 1965, but the project so far includes just about 300 logbooks related to whaling trips to the Arctic from the mid-1800s to the first decade of the 20th century.

One entry from the San Francisco-based whaler Beluga during a two-year voyage to the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort seas from 1897 to 1899 is typical of the information in the logs.

"Lat. 61.19. Long. 175.42. Fast to the ice till 6 A.M. then made sail and worked to the N.E. at 8:45 A.M. Commenced steaming. Steamed till 1 P.M. then struck open water. Carrying topsail and fore and aft sails. Steering from N.N.W. to N.E. as the ice allowed. Wind light and variable first part. Latter part strong E.S.E. winds thick and snowing. Ther. 30. Bar. 29.60."

On a most basic level, the information from an old whaling logbook can be compared to current conditions; for example, is there sea ice today in the places where whalers saw sea ice 150 years ago?

Above: www.arthurmonizgallery.com

But the project is much more than that, said Kevin Wood, a climate scientist with NOAA's Joint Institute for the Study of the Ocean and Atmosphere at the University of Washington and a lead researcher on the project. By recovering as much weather data as possible, the information could help create sophisticated computer models of past climate and help predict future conditions.

He called it a "virtual time-traveling weather satellite."

"We can build an enormously detailed reconstruction of the conditions at the time ... and we can we can understand how the climate has been changing over a longer period of time," Wood said.

The project launched this month is an offshoot of Old Weather, an ongoing partnership between NOAA and Zooniverse, the citizen science Web portal that is looking at logbooks of other vessels, including merchant and naval ships.

Sifting through the documents is where the public comes in. There is just too much data for a small group of scientists to pore over.

High-resolution images of historical documents, extracted data and related research products are available online, sad Michael Lapides, the museum's director of digital initiatives.

Already, the logbooks of more than 20 whalers are online. The project is expected to take about a year, Lapides said.

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