Given my educational background I thought I would chime in about Geography. Most people see it as a pointless major memorizing states and capitals, there is more to it than that I hold a science degree in the area relating to Weather and Climate so it is a bit more than that. It differs from the main subject of this site being theoretical physics a lot of that stemming from how mathematics is taught at university. Ask a question get a reply hey dumb kid this is easy math 500 level stuff being even though you are taking 200 level class, have further questions ask the Graduate Assistant taking other classes teaching other classes and the only avaible office hours are while you are in other classes or working. Well this lack of teaching in the math department caused me to go from being physics major to geography major. Though my past knowledge in physics was useful for my geography studies as I was interested in weather forecasting but my university really just focused on Climate in the hard science, probably more along the lines of urban planning for the softer side of Geography anyhow that is not here or there just a brief introduction into commenting on this topic.
Geography is really about the study of spatial patterns more precisely those relating the globe, this can include economics, natural resources, the spread of virus, the best location for transportation hubs, cultural differences etc. For myself I studied that natural aspects of Geography in particular weather and climate which in essence is physics tied to location: temperature, wind direction, latent heat, chemistry et cetera at various longitude and latitude locations. Climate is something I know a lot about due to schooling though I find weather and astrophysics in general more interesting but haven’t commented on it as it is too politicized which a science really shouldn’t be.
Climate is real simple it is just catalogued historical weather data the simplest concrete example being the four seasons: in the middle latitudes every year we expect four seasons winter, spring, summer and fall. Historically climate has be described as a 10-year average of weather data as the science progressed we could catalogued proxy data in the geologic record and learn things like the planet was warmer when the dinosaurs were around then today all fine and dandy until you project things into the future then people start debating climate.
I think the vast majority people fit into three camps when it comes to “climate change” a bit of an oxymoron as climate always changes there a long geologic record of it after all. People either buy climate change, don’t buy it, or in the middle some which can be attributed to not understanding climate and climate models. Most people have a general understanding of climate the seasons at least regionally anyway climate models not so much. But if you would like to understand climate models better and own a PC or Mac EDGCM (edgcm.columbia.edu) may be the way to go. It is an older Climate Model from the 1980’s but will now run fine on home computers and laptops more modern models can be downloaded through NASA or MIT but then they are not much use without access to supercomputers. Below is an example from the EDGCM climate model for the near future showing the max and low surface air temperatures averages for 2004 to 2019 using IPCC emission projections?
I chose the grid format as that is essentially how the computer sees it of course curvilinear coordinates are more accurate for things such as wind flow due to geostrophic wind and so forth. The Grid format shows how course the 1980’s model was more modern models use larger datasets and smaller girds which is why you need a supercomputer to do the calculations. If you noticed in Max surface temperature graphic there is a lot of blue, there are places actually cooling when the global average temperature is rising. By looking at the minimum surface air temperature you the minimum surface air temperature has more red than the maximum surface air temperature graphic. The images shows that you can have mild increase in the summer lower than normal variations in weather and not detectable and regions with increased cooling even though global average temperature is on the rise. The reason weather and climate are complex processes. The EDGCM is good learning tool because anyone can use it on a PC change its parameters and see the outcomes without taking someone else’s word on the subject who may have an agenda. You could for example cut carbon emissions to zero and see that the Milankovitch cycle would usher in another ice age in about 1,500 years.
With all that said I prefer to study the weather, in most people’s mind the weather man or lady is wrong half the time so there isn’t nearly as much politicization of that data. Weather forecasting can save lives doing climate analysis could tell you how high or low to build a bridge based on climatologically data, that’s there point use them or ignore them at your own peril.
Since I brought up weather I thought I would mention the WRF model (www.wrf-model.org) for weather enthusiasts and people having access to *nix machines. I mainly downloaded and ran the WRF to check its accuracy for local forecasting it’s a bit hit and miss but useful for understanding upper level air movements that you won’t get from a local forecast. And secondarily to compare and contrast climate and weather models.
Having run both climate and weather models I could go into their differences in another post. I’ve seen problems from one used against another on the web enough to see there is lot of misunderstanding between the two from Lorentz attractors to initial and boundary value problems fun stuff that will probably bore anyone who is not a modeler or math enthusiast.