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20 Mar, 2008

Equinox day, Resolute Bay, Fair - 35C

Wayne Davidson, the weatherman

Wayne Davidson has known Ohba and helping him for 20 years time. He is a weather guy here in Resolute. Born in Toronto and lived in Montreal, he loves city life as well as the north.

Wayne Davidson at his desk

The weather station is near the airport, a sliver-metal-walled building with a white dome on the top, shinning cold in the Arctic winter light. Inside was a clean set up of equipments and computers. And in one room, there was a foldable bed which tells you that he spends quite much of time there. His children, he says, have grown up and on their own already, and it seems he is devoting his time to his work.

The weather station Resolute

Besides his duty to make regular observations as a weatherman, he has his own project. It is a project to establish a method to measure the atmospheric temperature, not by thermometers, but by observing the shape of the sun

Each weatherman of the weather stations nationwide Canada launches a weather balloon to collect data (atmospheric temperature, relative humidity and atmospheric pressure of the air above from the ground to about 30,000 m) every morning and evening. And those data processed by computer will be the base for weather forecast. But one day, Davidson came up with an idea that the refraction of the sun, as the temperature changes its shape as you see it through the atmosphere, may be able to tell you the atmospheric temperature above the place. He uses his hand-made digital scope camera system to photograph the sun. He downloads the photographs into his computer and measures the differentiation of the horizontal and vertical lengths of the sun in Photoshop. The figures will be calculated in the equation he invented to give the atmospheric temperature of above air (average of the temperatures measured between from the ground to stratosphere). After years of study, his method is near the completion, and in last several years, his calculations have never been wrong but once.

Launch of the weather balloon

Davidson is always on the run. Going out to launch the balloon, coming back in to put data in the computer, going out to photograph the sun, coming back to work on another computer. He has been working on his project for about 10 years all by himself, without any support and sponsors, and about to yield great achievement. He said it would have been a lot faster and easier if there were more people and bit of financing, but he added, "Science does not necessary need big money, but it requires hard work." And he cheerfully stated, once his system is completed and authorized, he would visit Nikon or Canon to talk business. 'With this method, weather stations would be able to carry out daily observations away easier and cheaper with simple camera recording systems, and there can be a lot more mini stations throughout the country. That would make the weather observations even more accurate." His eyes twinkled like those of a boy's.

Wayne Davidson with his hand-made telescopic digital camera system

Resolute right now is shivering in cold, getting close to minus forty tonight. He quickly checked the weather map and said, 'Coldest place on earth! Right here around us'. Nunavut has had a cold winter this year, and north eastern Canada received record breaking snow. Davidson lifted his index finger and said, "But don't be fooled. Although surface temperature maybe cold on the ground, you have to measure the atmospheric temperatures to know what's really going on. And the figures tell you that this winter is not any cooler than last winter which was very warm. Global warming is still on." He also predicted that 50% of multi-year ice in the Arctic may well be gone this summer.

They say, 'It is not people who picks north, but north picks people.' In north, many people come, but not all stay. It may not be whether you take the cold and dark well. But it may well be whether you have enough passion to thaw the ice and snow that accumulates in your soul. It does all the good but harm if you melt the ice in your heart.

Izuru Toki