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Upsidence?

December 24, 2010 Filed under Blog, Excerpts, Featured, Potpourri, Uncategorized, Writing 

Dave Mechem (University of Kansas) and my Manchester colleagues have been telling me about a new term that has been adopted from geology into atmospheric science: upsidence. My understanding of upsidence is that the term means ascent in an environment with otherwise large-scale descent. The term is used to refer to an “upsidence wave”, a gravity wave visible in the subtropical stratocumulus deck. In geology, the term refers to“reduction in subsidence”, such as from underground mining leading to subsidence in region.

In Eloquent Science (pp. 96–97), Mark Stoelinga discusses the introduction of new scientific terminology. His essay arose out of a discussion the two of us had about how bad terminology would get into the literature (sometimes by authors who seemed intent on always giving a new name to something that didn’t necessarily need a new name). Then, these terms would be almost impossible to get rid of. His four points:

1. Use existing terminology whenever possible.

2. Follow existing customs and conventions.

3. Terms must be scientifically accurate, precise, and descriptive.

4. Try to get terminology right the first time, and avoid subsequent changes.

So, if you agree with the above four points, is introducing a new term upsidence really needed?

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Comments

3 Responses to “Upsidence?”
  1. Matt Bunkers says:

    No. I hear forecasters colloquially refer to upsidence as general upward motion — which differs from your take on it. Thus, I’m already confused.

  2. It strikes me as needless concoction of trite jargon for the sake of appearing to be cute or innovative. How about simply “ascent amidst ambient subsidence”, which is what it is?

  3. Rob Wood says:

    I think the name is actually very useful (at least in my own subfield) as meaning a short period of large scale upward motion in a region dominated by large scale subsidence.

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