Reposting. I liked this last night better than when I first made it.

You probably wouldn’t be lurking here if you didn’t think this was cool.


Volcanism at Mexico’s Popocatépetl is highly punctuated, especially during its current level of activity where domes of lava grow in the summit crater. These domes occasionally collapse or are destroyed by explosions that can lessen the pressure on the magma beneath to create an even larger explosion. This is akin to popping the top off a shaken bottle of soda — the dissolved bubbles come out of solution rapidly as the pressure is released and you get an explosion of soda.

Today, Popocatépetl had one of those explosions, and thanks to the beautiful weather in Mexico and some nice placement of webcams surrounding the volcano, the explosion was caught on some pretty amazing webcam footage compiled by webcamsdemexico (see above). The video is short, only 30 second long, but after the first few seconds of calm, the explosion occurs, sending a dark grey plume into the atmosphere above the volcano. Now, these explosions come with a lot of force, and you can see after the initial explosion is how the clouds of water vapor around Popocatepetl shudder as the explosion front moves past. Then quickly, the upper flanks of the volcano turn grey from the rapid raining out of ash and volcanic debris (tephra). It is a little surprising how little the clouds actually care that the explosion just occurred at first, but as the explosion continues in this sped up video, the clouds do begin to show more disruption from the hot ash and volcanic gases being released during the explosion. You can also notice how the plume reaches neutral buoyancy not too far above the volcano (bigger the explosion, the higher it can reach before this happens) as the plume begins to spread laterally (to the right in this video) into that classic shape. My guess is the plume was a few kilometers tall by the time the video ends.

You can see how pulsatory the eruption is as well, with the dark plume churning like steam from a steam engine. This might be due to new magma rising in the conduit, feeding the eruption as it continues. However, even with all this fury, the volcano went back to looking idyllic with only some minor puffs of ash within two hours after the explosion (see below) and only the grey ash on the slopes to show for the seemingly giant explosion. Even as impressive as that explosion seems, these ash and tephra deposits usually are wiped clean out of much of the geologic record by rains as they are only a few centimeters thick near the volcano and millimeters thick further away.

Windbaggers, my name for the fossil fueled fake “grassroots”, tea-party inspired, anti-science activists who oppose renewable energy development, like to talk about the “threat” posed to birds by wind energy.  The first lie you have to believe is that the Koch Brothers and their allies give a damn about birds, or any other living creature.

What science shows it that the greatest threat, not just to birds, but all species, is climate change.

New Scientist:

Between a quarter and a half of all birds, along with around a third of amphibians and a quarter of corals, are highly vulnerable to climate change. These findings have emerged from the most comprehensive assessment to date of the impact of global warming on life. Its results have led some researchers to warn of the need for unprecedented conservation efforts if we don’t cut our emissions.

The new assessment of climate change risk was performed by scientists from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the organisation that produces the Red List of Threatened Species. “When the Red List was invented, it was long before anyone worried about climate change,” says Wendy Foden of the IUCN in Cambridge, UK.


From IPCC Fourth Assessment, 2007 –  Figure 4.4. Compendium of projected risks due to critical climate change impacts on ecosystems for different levels of global mean annual temperature rise, ΔT, relative to pre-industrial climate (approach and event numbers as used in Table 4.1 and Appendix 4.1). It is important to note that these impacts do not take account of ancillary stresses on species due to over-harvesting, habitat destruction, landscape fragmentation, alien species invasions, fire regime change, pollution (such as nitrogen deposition), or for plants the potentially beneficial effects of rising atmospheric CO2. The red curve shows observed temperature anomalies for the period 1900-2005 (Brohan et al., 2006, see also Trenberth et al., 2007, Figure 3.6). The two grey curves provide examples of the possible future evolution of temperature against time (Meehl et al., 2007, Figure 10.4), providing examples of higher and lower trajectories for the future evolution of the expected value of ΔT. Shown are the simulated, multi-model mean responses to (i) the A2 emissions scenario and (ii) an extended B1 scenario, where radiative forcing beyond the year 2100 was kept constant to the 2100 value (all data from Meehl et al., 2007, Figure 10.4, see also Meehl et al., 2007, Section 10.7).

Red List assessments of extinction risk do consider climate change, but in a limited way. The main tools used in these earlier assessments are species distribution models, says Foden. These map out the climate conditions where a species lives now, then estimate how that liveable area will alter as the climate changes. In many cases, species’ habitable ranges will move and shrink, putting them at risk.

Read the rest of this entry »

While fossil fuel interests continue to cling to 19th century technology in developed nations, the developing world increasingly is betting on the technologies of the 21st century.

IPS News:

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Jun 13 2013 (IPS) – Emerging economies such as Mexico and India are shifting energy investments into renewable resources while industrialised countries hesitate, noted two new United Nations reports released Wednesday in Nairobi, Kenya.

“There is a structural change in the global energy sector underway,” said Ulf Moslener, head of research of the Frankfurt School in Germany.

“Costs are dropping radically. Renewables represented 6.5 percent of all electricity generated and reduced carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes in 2012,” said Moslener, co-author of Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2013, a report sponsored by the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP).

Developing countries are finding installing green energy to be far less expensive than relying on fossil fuels, Moslener told IPS. Poorer countries want to reap the benefits of stable energy costs, new jobs, improved air quality and reduced health and climate damage.

While political debates about the future of green energy preoccupy countries such as the United States, United Kingdom and Germany, developing countries have embraced cleaner energy. The move is reflected by a narrowing investment gap. In 2012, developing countries invested 112 billion dollars in clean energy, compared to developed economies’ 132 billion dollars.

Investors understand that clean energy no longer costs more than fossil energy. As such, there is a lot of excitement about the potential of large-scale projects in wide range of countries.

Read the rest of this entry »

If  you did not see part 1, by all means, check that first in the post below, or you’ll be lost here.
That’s the major part of the story.
I post part 2 of my interview with Eli Lehrer here primarily for completeness.

This past week, a unique event occurred in DC that brought together a fairly large group of movement conservatives and libertarians to discuss the prospects and possibilities of a carbon tax.  The event was sponsored by the R Street Institute, a new think tank on the block that not only believes in small government, and conservative economic solutions, but actual science as well.

Above, you can watch Part 1 of my 2010 interview with R Street founder Eli Lehrer, who left the famously science unfriendly Heartland Institute to found his own unique, and increasingly visible, shop. Part 2 when I get it loaded, tomorrow.

In regard to the debate, I heard thru the grapevine that Bob Inglis kicked major butt, I’m sure in a nice, folksy, low key way.

Do not know if there is video – but below, Inglis displays signature style.


Yesterday, I moderated a debate on the question: Resolved: Under no circumstances should conservatives support a tax on carbon emissions. The debate was organized by the R Street Institute and the Heartland Institute as a debate among free market friends. For the proposition were James Taylor from Heartland and David Kreutzer from the Heritage Foundation. Against the resolution were former Congressman Bob Inglis from the Energy and Enterprise Initiative and Andrew Moylan from R Street.

The audience consisted of perhaps 150 people. Looking over the list of the folks who RSVPed to the discussion most of the attendees could be fairly characterized as leaning conservative or libertarian.

The debate was spirited, but friendly. At the end of the discussion, we called for a division of the house and all participants agreed (with some surprise) that the majority was opposed to the resolution. In other words, a revenue neutral carbon tax could be acceptable to conservatives and libertarians.


Discussions around taxing carbon have increased among conservative groups in the past year, although that hasn’t carried over to Republican lawmakers, who oppose tax increases and generally look on climate change with disinterest.

But you wouldn’t have known the topic is considered lifeless in Congress by attending the event last night. Organizers planned for 150 people, but received about 270 requests to attend. The crowd didn’t reach that size, but the Globe Theater near Dupont Circle was nearly full.

Carbon tax events routinely draw big crowds, but Lehrer smiled as he guessed that the open bar also played a role.

“A year ago, there was no conversation on carbon tax,” he said.

Read the rest of this entry »

New study from JPL has big implications for ice dynamics at the South Pole.  I interviewed study author Eric Rignot in December at the AGU conference in San Francisco, above.  You’ll hear him discuss IMBIE, the Ice Mass Balance Inter-Comparison Exercise  an earlier, 2012 effort.
Interesting to compare perspective from the interview, and the press release below.


PASADENA, Calif. — Ocean waters melting the undersides of Antarctic ice shelves are responsible for most of the continent’s ice shelf mass loss, a new study by NASA and university researchers has found.

Scientists have studied the rates of basal melt, or the melting of the ice shelves from underneath, of individual ice shelves, the floating extensions of glaciers that empty into the sea. But this is the first comprehensive survey of all Antarctic ice shelves. The study found basal melt accounted for 55 percent of all Antarctic ice shelf mass loss from 2003 to 2008, an amount much higher than previously thought.

Antarctica holds about 60 percent of the planet’s fresh water locked into its massive ice sheet. Ice shelves buttress the glaciers behind them, modulating the speed at which these rivers of ice flow into the ocean. Determining how ice shelves melt will help scientists improve projections of how the Antarctic ice sheet will respond to a warming ocean and contribute to sea level rise. It also will improve global models of ocean circulation by providing a better estimate of the amount of fresh water ice shelf melting adds to Antarctic coastal waters.

The study uses reconstructions of ice accumulation, satellite and aircraft readings of ice thickness, and changes in elevation and ice velocity to determine how fast ice shelves melt and compare the mass lost with the amount released by the calving, or splitting, of icebergs.


Rates of basal melt of Antarctic ice shelves (melting of the shelves from underneath) overlaid on a 2009 mosaic of Antarctica created from data from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA’s Terra and Aqua spacecraft. Red shades denote melt rates of less than 5 meters (16.4 feet) per year (freezing conditions), while blue shades represent melt rates of greater than 5 meters (16.4 feet) per year (melting conditions). The perimeters of the ice shelves in 2007-2008, excluding ice rises and ice islands, are shown by thin black lines. Each circular graph is proportional in area to the total ice mass loss measured from each ice shelf, in gigatons per year, with the proportion of ice lost due to the calving of icebergs denoted by hatched lines and the proportion due to basal melting denoted in black. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UC Irvine/Columbia University

“The traditional view on Antarctic mass loss is it is almost entirely controlled by iceberg calving,” said Eric Rignot of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and the University of California, Irvine. Rignot is lead author of the study to be published in the June 14 issue of the journal Science. “Our study shows melting from below by the ocean waters is larger, and this should change our perspective on the evolution of the ice sheet in a warming climate.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Nothing to see here. Move on.

Published on Jun 11, 2013

7 News Denver — AIRTRACKER7 shows video of homes burning during in the Black Forest Fire

Denver Post:

BLACK FOREST —The Black Forest fire burning north of Colorado Springs has now destroyed at least 360 homes and consumed 15,000 acres, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said at a news conference early Thursday. The list of homes that has been evaluated has been posted online and is updated whenever possible.

No wildfire in Colorado history has destroyed more homes.The Waldo Canyon fire west of Colorado Springs in 2012 destroyed 347 homes.

Read the rest of this entry »

One of the comments I had on my most recent Yale Video was, “after Bob Schieffer’s opening, I wanted to hear more from that gentleman he was talking to on the other side of the split screen”.

That gentleman is the new president of the American Meteorological Society, Marshall Shepherd.

So it’s serendipitous that Shepherd now has  a TED talk on line, posted here.  Not a whole lot that’s new, but given the visibility and credibility of his post, his pro-active, higher profile stance can only be helpful.

I included clips from an NPR interview with Shepherd following the impact of Hurricane Sandy.