This is a great series, glad to see its been discovered.
Closer look at a little known episode of earth deep-time history.

Caution: requires belief in science.

The most reliable information about ice mass balance has been coming from the Gravity Recovery and Environment Experiment (GRACE) satellites for the last decade.

But that pair of satellites was reaching the end of its useful life, and scientists have been anxiously awaiting launch of the important GRACE FO (Follow On).
Successfully launched, will start sending useful data in 90 days.


Today, NASA successfully launched a pair of satellites collectively known as GRACE-FO (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On mission) as a replacement for the two GRACE satellites currently in orbit.


Launched in 2002, GRACE helped provide a better understanding of many of Earth’s most pressing conditions, including rising sea levels, melting ice sheets and droughts. But last year, after 15 years of service, the original GRACE duo completed its mission.

The new satellites will continue GRACE’s work, but feature updated tech, including improved batteries and an extra camera. The pair will map out changes in Earth’s gravitational field, which scientists use to monitor distribution of water on the planet’s surface. And as NPR’s Christopher Joyce notes, they might even help in earthquake prediction.

As Joyce explains, the Earth’s gravitational field changes with our planet’s mass. It’s stronger over areas with lots of mass, like mountains or bodies of water, and weaker where there’s less mass.

As Alessandra Potenza writes for The Verge, to observe these tiny variations, the pair of car-sized spacecraft will zip around Earth—one trailing roughly 137 miles after the other. According to NASA, the pair will use super-sensitive “microwave ranging instruments” to continually monitor the distance between them. By measuring minute changes in this gap, they can track differences in the tug of Earth’s gravity over the planet’s many features.

By measuring these changes month after month, the satellites can monitor long term shifts of water resources on the ground—glaciers growing or shrinking, shifts in underground water storage, snow melt in the spring. ”[T]hat shift of water leaves an imprint on the gravity field, and that’s what we detect and what we’re after,” NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory geophysicist Felix Landerer tells Joyce.

These measurements will enable researchers to improve weather models and more accurately forecast catastrophic events like floods, water shortages and droughts. “The GRACE-FO mission gives us a rich understanding of a fundamental resource on our Earth, which is water,” says Sascha Burton, systems engineer for the mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a NASA video. “How it moves and how it’s changing and that helps us better understand our climate.”

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Disruptive technology.
Practice using this phrase in a sentence.
Just trust me on this.

Perennial climate denier distortion is to claim that Electric vehicles do not run cleaner, because they are charged from a dirty grid (which deniers want to keep dirty).

Truth: Even charging on a coal-dominated grid, EVs are so efficient, that they are a gain for most drivers, in every state (unless you only rode a motor scooter before..).
AND, the grid keeps getting cleaner as more renewable energy comes on board.


Inside EVs:

It’s never been better than today, as electric cars are now cleaner than the average new gasoline car everywhere in the country – the report states – even where plug-ins are recharged from the dirtiest coal-dominated electric grid.

“The analysis, which looked at the latest data on power plant emissions, revealed the average electric vehicle on the road today emits so little in the way of global warming pollution that it’s like driving a conventional car that gets 80 miles to the gallon.

The gap between gasoline vehicles and electric vehicles has grown over time. In 2012, only 45 percent of Americans lived in parts of the country where driving electric produced lower emissions than driving a 50 mile per gallon (mpg) car would. Today, 75 percent of Americans get their electricity from regional grids this clean.

Electric vehicles will continue to get even cleaner as more coal-fired power plants close in favor of wind and solar power, whose prices continue to drop. Coal already has fallen from providing 50 percent of the power on the grid to 30 percent. Renewables now provide 10 percent of America’s electricity.

Electric car technology is improving, too. Looking at the most efficient electric models, 99 percent of Americans could drive cleaner on electricity than they would in a 50 mpg gasoline car.”

Below, Stanford lecturer Tony Seba is extravagantly optimistic about EVs in this 2016 talk.
Nothing that’s happened since makes him look wrong – quite the opposite.

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My wife says I need to back away from obsessive concerns about climate change.
Think I’ll take up knitting.


Q. What do you get when you cross crochet and climate science?

A. A lot of attention on Twitter.

At the weekend I like to crochet. Last weekend I finished my latest project and posted the picture on Twitter. And then had to turn the notifications off because it all went a bit noisy. The picture of my “global warming blanket” rapidly became my top tweet ever, with more retweets and likes than anything else. Apparently I had found a creative way to visualise trends in global mean temperature. I particularly liked the “this is the most frightening knitwear I have seen all year” comment. Given the interest on Twitter I thought I had better answer a few of the questions in this blog. Also, it would be great if global warming blankets appeared all over the world.



The global warming blanket was based on “temperature” blankets made by crocheters around the world. Their blankets consist of one row, or square, of crochet each day, coloured according to the temperature at their location  . They look amazing and show both the annual cycle and day-to-day variability. Other people make “sky” blankets where the colours are based on the sky colour of the day – this results in a more muted grey-blue-white colour palette.

I wondered what the global temperature series would look like as a blanket. Also, global warming is often explained as greenhouse gases acting like a blanket, trapping infrared radiation and keeping the Earth warm. So that seemed like an interesting link. I also had done several rainbow themed blankets in the past and had a lot of yarn left that needed using.


I used the annual and global mean temperature anomaly compared to 1900-2000 mean as a reference period as available from NOAA This is what the data looks like shown more conventionally.


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Science literate readers respond to Wall Street Journal Op Ed that questioned first order physics of thermal expansion.

Briefly, former scientist, tobacco apologist, and dotard Fred Singer questioned whether sea level was rising due to a warming planet. Must be something else…

If you have not seen, and you want to see a media outlet deeply embarrass itself – go here.

Fortunately, science.


Would the Journal run the op-ed “Objects Are Falling, but Not Because of Gravity”? That’s pretty similar to climate contrarian Fred Singer saying The Sea Is Rising, but Not Because of Climate Change” (op-ed, May 16).

No, ice is not accumulating on Earth—it is melting. No, Antarctica isn’t too cold for melting—warming oceans are eroding the ice from beneath, destabilizing the ice sheet. And no, legitimate scientific conclusions are not reached in op-ed pieces, but through careful peer-reviewed research.

That research shows that sea levels are rising and human-caused climate change is the cause. Don’t take our word for it; help yourself to the mountain of scientific literature showing as much. When water warms, it expands. When ice warms, it melts. To deny these facts is not just to deny climate change. It is to deny basic physics.

New York City experienced an additional 25 square miles of flooding from the approximately one foot of sea-level rise that has occurred due to human-caused warming. Without concerted efforts to reduce carbon emissions, it could experience as much as eight feet by the end of the century—permanently inundating most of Wall Street.

Asst. Prof. Andrea L. Dutton

University of Florida

Gainesville, Fla.

Prof. Michael E. Mann

Penn State University

University Park, Pa.


Fred Singer leaves out any real evidence to refute research attributing the measured sea-level rise almost exactly to the measured thermal expansion of seawater and glacier melt.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.)

Newport, R.I.


Michigan Radio:

General Motors says a new wind farm being constructed in Ohio brings it one step closer to running all its facilities worldwide on 100% renewable energy.

The 100 megawatt wind farm in northwest Ohio was grandfathered in, before a new law made it almost impossible to build wind farms in that state.

Rob Threlkeld, head of global renewable energy for GM, says the Ohio project, along with one being constructed in Illinois, will offset carbon emissions from seven GM plants in the Midwest.

“Once these projects are completed later this year, renewable energy will be used to power 20% of our facilities globally,” says Threlkeld.

Threlkeld says making it to 100% renewables by 2050 will require more wind and solar, increased energy efficiency in GM plants, along with overall grid improvements, and battery storage to address the intermittent nature of wind and solar.


Companies are buying renewable power at a record pace.

AT&T Inc. and Walmart Inc. are among 36 businesses, government agencies and universities that have agreed to buy 3.3 gigawatts of wind and solar power so far this year. That’s on track to shatter the previous high of 4.8 gigawatts of disclosed deals last year, according to a report Monday by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

One of the key reasons is that smaller companies are more comfortable doing these deals now.

“There’s a blueprint now,” said Kyle Harrison, a New York-based analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “So it’s a lot easier for other companies to do it.” In addition to the 4.8 gigawatts in announced deals last year, BNEF also estimates 600 megawatts of undisclosed contracts were signed in Asia.

The gains are also due to local renewables program and growing demand in international markets like Mexico and Australia.


Hurricane Season starting soon, while many areas will still be recovering from last year’s  record destruction.  What’s the forecast?

Peter Jacobs, above,  is a PhD student and researcher at George Mason University Department of Environmental Science and Policy, and with climate comms ace  John Cook, whips up the Evidence Squared podcast.

He is co-author, with Kevin Trenberth and LiJing Cheng, on a new paper examining Hurricane Harvey and Ocean heat.

Market Watch:

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, which kicks off June 1, is expected to bring at least 14 named storms, according to researchers, putting it above the long-term average of 11 recorded between 1950 and the present day.

Colorado State University is forecasting 14 named storms, including seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes. North Carolina State University is forecasting 14 to 18 named storms, seven of which are expected to grow to hurricane strength, and three to five of which may become major hurricanes, defined as Category 3 or higher.


The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 and includes the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. The Pacific season, which covers the Eastern Pacific basin, started on May 15 and also runs through Nov. 30.

Last week, the first tropical depression of the season formed far from the west coast of Mexico, but eventually dissipated, according to the Weather Network. The National Hurricane Center is urging coastal residents to start preparations now for an active season.

There were 18 named storms in the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, according to the NHC, in what was one of the deadliest — and costliest — seasons ever. Of that total, 10 became hurricanes, and six of those were Category 3 storms or higher.

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Global warming is on track to cause a major wipeout of insects, compounding already severe losses, according to a new analysis.

Insects are vital to most ecosystems and a widespread collapse would cause extremely far-reaching disruption to life on Earth, the scientists warn. Their research shows that, even with all the carbon cuts already pledged by nations so far, climate change would make almost half of insect habitat unsuitable by the end of the century, with pollinators like bees particularly affected.

However, if climate change could be limited to a temperature rise of 1.5C – the very ambitious goal included in the global Paris agreement – the losses of insects are far lower.

The new research is the most comprehensive to date, analysing the impact of different levels of climate change on the ranges of 115,000 species. It found plants are also heavily affected but that mammals and birds, which can more easily migrate as climate changes, suffered less.

“We showed insects are the most sensitive group,” said Prof Rachel Warren, at the University of East Anglia, who led the new work. “They are important because ecosystems cannot function without insects. They play an absolutely critical role in the food chain.”

“The disruption to our ecosystems if we were to lose that high proportion of our insects would be extremely far-reaching and widespread,” she said. “People should be concerned – humans depend on ecosystems functioning.” Pollination, fertile soils, clean water and more all depend on healthy ecosystems, Warren said.

“We know that many insects are in rapid decline due to factors such as habitat loss and intensive farming methods,” said Prof Dave Goulson, at the University of Sussex, UK, and not part of the new analysis. “This new study shows that, in the future, these declines would be hugely accelerated by the impacts of climate change, under realistic climate projections. When we add in all the other adverse factors affecting wildlife, all likely to increase as the human population grows, the future for biodiversity on planet Earth looks bleak.”

Important however, to note that not all the news is bleak, there are some points of light indicating responsible stewardship of biosystems is possible, and happening in some cases.   Here, Fisheries.

Environmental Defense Fund:

At a time when there is significant concern about the erosion of environmental protections, a new report card from the National Marine Fisheries Service confirms that one of the most important conservation success stories of our time remains on track. The turnaround of U.S. fisheries is a remarkable bipartisan success story. This week’s annual Status of U.S. Fisheries report documents how a recovery kick-started during George W. Bush’s time in office, then accelerated under President Obama, held pace during the Trump administration’s first year. Read the rest of this entry »


Turns out Millenials give a damn about their planet and their children. Sorry, angry old people.


A new survey from global auditing and consulting firm Deloitte suggests the gap between environmental concern and consumer action may be shrinking. The pillars helping to bridge the divide include falling prices for solar power, higher awareness of clean energy options, growing concern about climate change and the inclinations of millennials.

“In addition to expressing broad support for renewables, residential consumers are generally striving to do more to become greener at a personal level,” the report authors wrote.

In this year’s Deloitte Resources Study, 68 percent of electric power buyers said they are very concerned about climate change and their carbon footprint. That’s the highest percentage ever recorded in the study, topping the previous record of 65 percent in 2016.


The resources survey is Deloitte’s first since President Donald Trumpannounced in June that the United States was pulling out of the Paris climate agreement. That high-profile decision has actually raised awareness of environmental issues and caused businesses to revisit their sustainability plans, the study authors told CNBC.

The survey found that 74 percent of respondents believe climate change is caused by human actions, up 5 points from 2017. Just 37 percent said environmental concerns are overblown, down 8 points from last year.

That concern is percolating up to businesses. In Deloitte’s survey of businesses, 7 in 10 companies reported that customers were demanding that they draw at least some of their power from renewable sources.

American Wind Energy Association:

Six companies signed wind PPAs for the first time during the first quarter, adding to the list of Fortune 500 companies and other non-utility purchasers powering their operations with wind energy. First-time wind buyers included Adobe Systems, AT&T, Brown Forman, Kohler, and Nestlé. AT&T led the pack, signing two PPAs for a total of 520 MW, one of the largest corporate renewable energy purchases in the U.S.

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