Over the past few months, ChatGPT and other forms of artificial intelligence (AI) have become something of an obsession in academic circles. Some of my colleagues are appalled by these development while others are thrilled, but no one is uninterested. Some professors think that AI will make it impossible to give take-home exams and will compromise student research papers and critical essays. But one colleague responded by quipping that at least we will no longer have to read incoherent papers. That might be true, but there is no guarantee that ChatGPT-assisted essays will not be trite and filled with misinformation.
With such controversies in mind, I decided to test ChatGPT against my most recent GeoCurrents post, which examined summer 2023 precipitation patterns in the United States. I tried several prompts of lesser and greater specificity. Two of the more representative ones are posted below, with my appraisals included [IN BRACKETS AND IN ALL CAPS]. What I received from ChatGPT was, to put it bluntly, rubbish. Evidently I do not have to worry that my blogging efforts can be outsourced any time soon to artificial intelligence (or artificial idiocy, as the case may be).
My Prompt: “Write a 700-word essay on precipitation patterns in the United States in the summer of 2023”
Title: Summer 2023 Precipitation Patterns in the United States: A Weather Roller Coaster
The summer of 2023 in the United States has been marked by unpredictable and extreme precipitation patterns [TRITE]. From scorching droughts in the West to relentless rainfall in the East [LARGELY UNTRUE], this summer has been a roller coaster of weather events. In this article, we will delve into the complex factors driving these precipitation patterns and their impacts on different regions of the country.
The West: Drought Persists
Summer 2023 began with a continuation of the severe drought that has plagued the western United States for several years. The states of California, Nevada, and Arizona, in particular, experienced another season of water scarcity [FALSE]. Low snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and reduced reservoir levels exacerbated the situation [ONLY OFF BY 180 DEGRESS].
The primary drivers of this prolonged drought include a lack of winter precipitation [NO], higher temperatures leading to increased evaporation [NOT IN CALIFORNIA], and climate change-induced alterations in atmospheric circulation patterns. The West’s arid conditions have not only strained water resources but have also contributed to an increased risk of wildfires, as dry vegetation becomes more susceptible to ignition [NOT IN THE SUMMER OF 2023].
Despite some scattered showers and thunderstorms [THAT HAPPENS EVERY YEAR], many parts of the West faced water restrictions, mandatory conservation measures, and heightened concerns about future water availability.
The Midwest: Abundance of Rain
In stark contrast to the parched conditions in the West, the Midwest experienced an unusual abundance of rainfall in the summer of 2023. States like Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri witnessed frequent and heavy downpours, causing localized flooding and waterlogged fields. [IOWA WAS VERY DRY]
The primary factor behind this excessive rainfall was a persistent low-pressure system that remained nearly stationary over the region. This system acted as a moisture conveyor belt, pulling in warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico and generating frequent thunderstorms [NOT THIS YEAR].
While the surplus of moisture had negative consequences for agriculture, leading to waterlogged crops and delayed planting schedules [NOT IN MOST AREAS], it also had a silver lining. It helped alleviate concerns about drought and replenished aquifers, ensuring a more secure water supply for the coming months.
The South: A Tale of Contrasting Precipitation
The southern United States had its own share of precipitation variability in the summer of 2023. States along the Gulf Coast, such as Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, experienced a mix of heavy rain events [MOST OF TEXAS AND LOUISIANA WERE VERY DRY] and periods of drought.
The Gulf of Mexico played a central role in driving these weather patterns. Warm sea surface temperatures contributed to increased moisture in the atmosphere, resulting in heavy rainfall and occasional flooding in coastal areas [NOT SO MUCH THIS YEAR]. Conversely, the same warm waters fueled the development of tropical storms and hurricanes, which could bring substantial precipitation but also destructive winds and storm surges [THIS SENTENCE REFERS TO GENERAL CONDITIONS, NOT THOSE OF 2023].
In the interior South, areas farther away from the Gulf Coast often experienced drier conditions and occasional heatwaves [DUH]. These fluctuations created challenges for farmers, who had to navigate between excessive moisture and parched fields, making it a season of mixed blessings .
The Northeast: Unpredictable Rainfall
The northeastern United States, including New York, Pennsylvania, and New England, witnessed a summer characterized by unpredictable rainfall patterns. While some areas enjoyed near-normal precipitation, others faced extended dry spells punctuated by sudden, heavy rain events [OVERALL, THIS AREA RECEIVED MUCH HIGHER THAN NORMAL PRECIPITATION].
One of the driving factors behind this variability was the position of the jet stream. Its meandering path influenced the movement of weather systems, leading to localized variations in rainfall. Areas under the jet stream’s influence saw more frequent and intense rain events, while those outside of it experienced drier conditions [REFERS TO GENERAL CLIMATOLOGY, NOT CONDITIONS IN 2023].
This inconsistency in precipitation had consequences for agriculture, water management, and recreational activities [THIS IS TRUE EVERY YEAR]. Farmers struggled to predict planting and harvesting schedules, while water resource managers had to adapt quickly to shifting water supply conditions.
The summer of 2023 brought a diverse range of precipitation patterns to the United States. While the West continued to grapple with drought and the associated challenges, the Midwest saw an abundance of rain that alleviated drought concerns but presented its own set of problems. The South experienced a mix of heavy rain and drought, depending on proximity to the Gulf Coast, while the Northeast faced unpredictable rainfall [ALREADY STATED].
These diverse patterns highlight the complex interplay of atmospheric and climatic factors that influence regional weather [TRITE]. In a world affected by climate change, extreme weather events are becoming increasingly common, emphasizing the need for adaptive strategies in agriculture, water resource management, and disaster preparedness [BOILERPLATE].
As we move forward, it is crucial to monitor and understand these changing precipitation patterns and their impacts on various sectors of society. Building resilience and implementing sustainable water management practices will be essential to mitigate the challenges posed by future weather extremes, ensuring a more stable and secure future for the United States. [I WONDER HOW OFTEN THESE TWO SENTENCES ARE REPRODUCED BY CHATGPT FOR WEATHER-RELATED TOPICS]
ESSAY GRADE: D-
My More Specific Prompt: “Write a 700-word essay on 2023 summer precipitation patterns in the United States, paying particular attention to the U.S. corn crop”
Title: Analyzing 2023 Summer Precipitation Patterns in the United States: Implications for the U.S. Corn Crop
Summer precipitation patterns play a crucial role in shaping agricultural outcomes, especially in the United States, where agriculture is a significant contributor to the economy [UTTERLY TRITE]. The U.S. corn crop, in particular, is highly sensitive to variations in precipitation, as it is a staple crop used in various industries, from food production to biofuel [EQUALLY TRITE]. In this essay, we will examine the 2023 summer precipitation patterns in the United States and their implications for the U.S. corn crop.
- The Importance of the U.S. Corn Crop
Before delving into the specifics of summer precipitation patterns, it is essential to understand the significance of the U.S. corn crop [NO, IT IS NOT]. Corn, or maize, is one of the most widely cultivated crops in the United States, with millions of acres dedicated to its growth. It is a versatile crop, serving as a food source for humans and livestock, a raw material for various industrial processes, and a critical component of the biofuel industry. As such, fluctuations in corn production can have far-reaching economic and societal consequences.
- 2023 Summer Precipitation Patterns
To assess the impact of summer precipitation patterns on the U.S. corn crop in 2023, we must first examine the climatic conditions during that period. In recent years, climate change has led to increased variability in weather patterns, making it crucial to monitor and analyze the effects of these changes on agriculture.
The summer of 2023 witnessed noticeable variations in precipitation patterns across the United States. While the Western and Southwestern regions experienced extended drought conditions, the Central and Eastern parts of the country saw above-average rainfall [POOR GENERALIZATION]. These divergent patterns had significant implications for corn cultivation.
III. Impact on Corn Production
- Drought in the West and Southwest
The Western and Southwestern regions of the United States, including states like California, Arizona, and New Mexico, experienced severe drought conditions during the summer of 2023 [NO]. These regions are not traditionally major corn-producing areas but do contribute to overall national production. However, the prolonged drought significantly impacted corn yields in these states, leading to decreased production. Farmers in these regions faced challenges related to water scarcity, increased irrigation costs, and reduced crop quality.
- Above-Average Rainfall in the Central and Eastern U.S.
Conversely, the Central and Eastern regions of the United States, including states like Illinois, Iowa [NO], and Ohio, received above-average rainfall during the summer of 2023. While adequate rainfall is generally beneficial for crop growth, excessive precipitation can lead to waterlogging and crop diseases [TRITE]. Corn, in particular, is susceptible to water stress and fungal infections when exposed to prolonged periods of high moisture [WATER STRESS IN PLANTS IS CAUSED BY A DEFICIENCY OF WATER].
- Adaptation and Resilience
In the face of increasingly erratic climate patterns, farmers and agricultural scientists have been working to adapt and develop more resilient farming practices. These efforts include the use of drought-tolerant corn varieties, improved irrigation techniques, and enhanced soil management practices.
In regions affected by drought, farmers have adopted more water-efficient irrigation methods, such as drip irrigation [DRIP IRRIGATION IS NOT A SIGNIFICANT FACTOR IN U.S. CORN PRODUCTION], to conserve water resources. Additionally, some have shifted towards drought-tolerant corn varieties that can withstand water scarcity to a certain extent [COULD YOU BE A LITTLE MORE SPECIFIC?].
In areas with excess rainfall, farmers have focused on improving drainage systems and selecting corn varieties resistant to waterlogging and fungal diseases. These adaptations aim to mitigate the negative impact of excessive moisture on crop yields [OVERLY GENERAL].
- Government Policies and Support
The U.S. government plays a crucial role in supporting farmers and managing the impact of climate-related challenges on agriculture. In response to the 2023 summer precipitation patterns, the government implemented various policies and programs to assist farmers affected by drought or excess rainfall . These measures included financial assistance, crop insurance programs, and research initiatives aimed at developing climate-resilient agricultural practices [NONE OF THESE INITIATIVES WERE IMPLEMENTED IN REPONSE TO 2023 SUMMER PRECIPITATION PATTERNS] .
The 2023 summer precipitation patterns in the United States had a significant impact on the U.S. corn crop [BEYOND TRITE]. While drought in the Western and Southwestern regions led to decreased yields and increased production costs, above-average rainfall in the Central and Eastern states presented challenges related to waterlogging and crop diseases [GROSSLY OVERGENERALIZED]. Adaptation and resilience-building efforts have become essential for farmers, with the support of government policies and programs.
As climate change continues to alter weather patterns, it is crucial for the agricultural sector to develop sustainable and climate-resilient practices. The U.S. corn crop, as a linchpin of the nation’s agriculture and economy [WHILE VERY IMPORTANT, THE CORN CROP IS HARDLY THE LINCHPIN OF THE NATION’S ECONOMY], will continue to face challenges and opportunities in the years to come, making it imperative for stakeholders to adapt and innovate in response to evolving climate conditions.
ESSAY GRADE: D-
As GeoCurrents posts are always accompanied my maps, I asked ChatGPT what it could do in the regard. The result is posted below. AsChatGPT evidently has no access to recent climatological date, this was perhaps an unfair test. My next post will therefore assess the chatbot’s ability to write a different kind to essay.