Friday, February 23, 2018

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Damn the tildes and full speed ahead!

December 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog, Featured, Writing

Reader Matt Bunkers raised the issue of the tilde (~) in scientific writing. Some use it for “proportional to”. Others use it for “order of magnitude”. Still others use it for “approximately”. Given the wide variety of uses for the tilde, why not just write out what you mean? Doing so will make your writing […]

My response to 3monththesis’s “Why some perfectionism is a good thing”

March 6, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog, Featured, Writing

The original post is here, and the post starts: One of the most common pieces of writing advice is to “just get words down on the page; don’t worry about detail, and don’t think too much”. This is often given as a way of overcoming writers block, or the “fear of the blank page”. Perfectionism […]

Polarimetric radar terminology

February 27, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog, Featured, Writing

My colleague Joey Picca from the Upton NWS Forecast Office tells me that the term “dual-polarimetric” is redundant because “polarimetric” already implies the use of a radar with multiple polarizations. Thus, “polarimetric” or “dual-polarization” are more proper. Image from

The importance of picking good terminology the first time

May 22, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Featured, Writing

In an early paper that I lead authored, I used the term cold surge to describe the cold front associated with the Superstorm of March 1993. Schultz, D. M., W. E. Bracken, L. F. Bosart, G. J. Hakim, M. A. Bedrick, M. J. Dickinson, and K. R. Tyle, 1997: The 1993 Superstorm cold surge: Frontal […]

A subjective discussion of the meanings of “subjective” and “objective”

April 8, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Featured, Writing

Scientists are objective. Personal bias is not acceptable and interpretation that is subject to the observer is frowned upon. The above statement is the ideal to which we presumably strive to attain as scientists. The reality that we construct in our research is independent of the person doing the research. So, when someone performs some […]

An example of why hyphens are necessary

March 14, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Featured, Writing

The following is an excerpt from an email sent to staff at the University of Manchester. As part of the University’s commitment to creating change in gender equality across the University we are running a half day unconscious bias training session focussed on recruitment and promotion. The following is how it should have been punctuated […]

An abstract that says nothing

July 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Featured, Writing

This abstract comes from a recently published in an atmospheric science journal: Previous studies have shown that numerical diffusion plays a crucial role in the ability of mesoscale models to reproduce features similar to sub-meso motions found in observations, particularly in terms of spectral energy distribution. In this study, the impacts of surface heterogeneity and […]

“Cold” equivalent potential temperature?

June 1, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Featured, Writing

As scientists, we need to be precise in our writing. Evgeni Fedorovich at the University of Oklahoma has tried to keep me honest about writing about “cold temperatures”. Know that the air can be “cold” or “warm”, but temperatures are “high” or “low.” I want to take this argument one step further. It makes no […]

How important is it to use “important” in your writing?

Have you read an article where the author talks about “an important process” or “the important role of another process”? Do these sort of platitudes go in one of your ears and out the other? Are you convinced by the author’s use of the word “important” that it truly is an important process? Or, do […]

Problems with the term “overrunning”

Several authors have criticized the use of the term overrunning to represent warm-frontal lifting here and here. I don’t need to add anything to those Web pages, but I do want to point out that the definition provided in the American Meteorological Society’s Glossary of Meteorology is wrong and ambiguous. overrunning—A condition existing when an […]

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