Bob Ryan ad­dresses cli­mate change with Rapp at Home

Rappahannock News - - The Rapp - By Chris Doxzen

One of me­te­o­rol­o­gist Bob Ryan’s fa­vorite quotes is from No­bel Prize win­ning chemist Sherwood Row­land. Known for his ex­per­tise sur­round­ing ozone de­ple­tion, Row­land’s words con­tinue to in­spire sci­en­tists around the world:

“What’s the use of hav­ing devel­oped a sci­ence well enough to make pre­dic­tions if, in the end, all we’re will­ing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?”

Ryan is a man of Rap­pa­han­nock renown, in­clud­ing with those of us who re­lied on his nim­ble weather fore­casts from the New York set of The To­day Show and later NBC4 in the big Wash­ing­ton. Oth­ers who harken from New Eng­land grew up with Bob in Bos­ton, where he tracked all man­ner of weather, in­clud­ing the deadly win­ter storm of ‘78 that in 24 hours’ time buried the re­gion in 36 inches of snow.

Ryan might be re­tired, his home with its own pri­vate weather sta­tion atop a Woodville-area moun­tain, but his me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal prophe­cies are still burn­ing. In fact, he spoke this week to a Rapp at Home au­di­ence about the mea­sur­able im­pacts of cli­mate change, here in Rap­pa­han­nock County and around the world.

He re­called the 1940’s and 50’s and ENIAC, the first nu­mer­i­cal weather pre­dic­tion com­puter to pro­vide a 24-hour fore­cast. It wasn’t much longer that so­phis­ti­cated satel­lites could pin­point plumes of sand­storms in the north­ern tip of Africa, and even more re­veal­ing the del­i­cate thin at­mos­phere of our earth that is now in such dan­ger.

He spoke of the eco­nomic driv­ers of cli­mate change, green­house gases, warm­ing seas, and ris­ing tem­per­a­tures in An­chor­age. The oceans, Ryan ex­plained, are get­ting more acidic with the in­creased heat. The wa­ter is ris­ing in places like Mi­ami and Hamp­ton Roads here in Vir­ginia, where lo­cal gov­ern­ments have al­ready taken to build­ing new bridges and taller struc­tures, with sea­walls protecting land and ship­ping docks.

More heat results in more rain­fall, Ryan added, list­ing the con­se­quences to mankind as well — he was fac­tual, not dra­matic, not pre­dict­ing the earth’s end, but me­thod­i­cally, in great de­tail, dis­cussing the changes over mil­len­nia that are well un­der­way in our lifetime.


Renowned me­te­o­rol­o­gist Bob Ryan spoke this week to mem­bers of Rapp at Home.

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