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CNAP science gone wild!

June 6, 2014

From CNAP Researcher Dr. Mike Dettinger:

Beginning in 2010, and continuing to this day, CNAP researchers Dettinger, Cayan, and Redmond have been contributors to development and exploration of an extreme winter storm scenario, called ARkStorm, for use by emergency responders and communities all over California (and more recently in northwest Nevada). The project used firm scientific information and insights as a basis for pulling together a storm sequence and detailed description of how those storms would look in fine spatial and time detail (e.g., Dettinger et al. 2012).


Cover of book by Ron Foster

So its been a real interesting experience to see two (count them!) separate sci-fi novels spawned and published based on the ARkStorm story and its scariest implications. The first, “ARkstorm—The ones that made it,” by Ron Foster (2012, available from Amazon), is a prepper novel, a book with a bit of story mixed into a lot of how-to-survive-an-apocalypse kinds of survivalist information. To be honest, its editorially pretty rough and was a bit unnerving to see and it took some getting to use to the lack of attributions of long passages lifted directly from our reports.



Back and cover of book by Linda Davies

The second is due out in August, so I haven’t read it yet, but the cover is gorgeous (and not just a copy of a figure from one of our reports). This one’s title is simply “Ark Storm” and it’s by Linda Davies, an accomplished thriller writer. One of her blurbs is from a former Defense Secretary, describing it as “a brilliantly crafted ecothriller with characters who are authentically good—and bad.” A tag line is “The Ark Storm is coming—a catastrophic weather event that will unleash massive floods and cause more havoc in California than the feared megaquake!”

I’m looking forward to reading this new one, but also am expecting that cold-water-in-the-face feeling that comes from having a fiction writer leap off into thrilling fantasies from some of our stolid, carefully crafted science. It’s a combination of ego-boost and chastening reminder of how wild some of the topics we explore can become once they get out into the public eye.


Dettinger, M.D., Ralph, F.M., Hughes, M., Das, T., Neiman, P., Cox, D., Estes, G., Reynolds, D., Hartman, R., Cayan, D., and Jones, L., 2012, Design and quantification of an extreme winter storm scenario for emergency preparedness and planning exercises in California: Natural Hazards, 60, 1085-1111, doi:10.1007/s11069-011-9894-5.  (Please click here for a personal-use copy of this article.)

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