satellite

Readers will know that the Trump administration was determined to cancel an important NASA program which monitors global carbon fluxes.

Looks like another example of good science being tougher to kill than climate deniers (and Vladimir Putin) would like.

Earther:

Update 5/18: In a surprising turnaround, the House Appropriations Committee voted yesterday to reinstate the $10 million NASA needs to continue the Carbon Monitoring Program in an amendment to a 2019 spending bill. According to Science Magazine, representative John Culberson (R-TX), who heads up the spending panel that oversees NASA, reportedly gave his colleague Matt Cartwright (D-PA) a shoutout for urging that CMS funding be restored. Democracy in action!

Science:

A U.S. House of Representatives spending panel voted today to restore a small NASA climate research program that President Donald Trump’s administration had quietly axed. (Click here to read our earlier coverage.)

The House appropriations panel that oversees NASA unanimously approved an amendment to a 2019 spending bill that orders the space agency to set aside $10 million within its earth science budget for a “climate monitoring system” that studies “biogeochemical processes to better understand the major factors driving short and long term climate change.”

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That sounds almost identical to the work that NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System (CMS) was doing before the Trump administration targeted the program, which was getting about $10 million annually, for elimination this year. Critics of the move said it jeopardized numerous research projects and plans to verify the national emission cuts agreed to in the Paris climate accords.

Assuming the money is intended to restore the CMS, researchers familiar with the program were hailing the vote. “That’s great news!” earth scientist Pontus Olofsson of Boston University wrote in an email. “[W]e need a research program that investigates the use of all the data and tools we now have at our disposal for the how to study, understand and mitigate carbon emissions. NASA CMS is such a research program and it’s essential that the program will be allowed to continue its work.”

“Effective climate policies require the ability to accurately and independently measure greenhouse gas emissions,” Philip Duffy, president and executive director of the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts wrote in an email. “I applaud today’s bipartisan action.”

The amendment is now part of a $62 billion spending bill covering the departments of commerce, justice, and several science agencies including NASA. It was offered by Representative John Culberson (R–TX), chairman of the spending panel that oversees NASA. Culberson cited the climate program’s importance as part of the agency’s efforts to track all sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Culberson also thanked Representative Matt Cartwright (D–PA) for urging him to restore funding for the monitoring system. Read the rest of this entry »

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Wind energy is coming to the midwest, and the heart of Michigan in a big and successful way.
No surprise, a very well organized fossil fuel funded push-back is active across the state, and throughout the heartland.

They’ve been operating mostly unopposed, spreading a lot of misinformation to hard hit rural americans (sound familiar?).  All the polls tell us that Americans living with wind turbines generally like them – and just down the road from me, Gratiot County,  home to Michigan’s largest wind development, is about to enthusiastically add another large array – proving the point.

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I’m serving notice there will be a pushback.  Here’s my recent op-ed in a local paper.

Mount Pleasant (Michigan) Morning Sun:

 

Isabella County is about to take an important step into the renewable energy revolution of the 21st century.

Two wind power projects are potentially in the works – one, in Coe Township, could break ground as early as this spring. Another project could be generating clean, inexpensive electricity, and paying taxes, as early as 2020 – pending an application process.

A few key points:

The latest “all in” prices for electricity in the United States shows that wind energy is cost competitive everywhere, and in many areas, hands down the cheapest option.

Lazard, one of the world’s largest, and oldest financial advisory and asset management firms, shows that wind energy ranges from $30/MWhr to $60/MWhr, compared to $42 to $78 for the nearest competitor, natural gas.

Nationally, wind energy is down in price by 67 percent since 2009.

Dow Chemical is one of the largest industrial purchasers of wind power, having contracted for wind to entirely power its Freeport, Texas facility, Dow’s largest plant, and the largest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

A big reason Dow chose wind energy in gas-rich Texas, is that wind power has a completely predictable fuel cost, namely zero, which budget planners like – they don’t have to guess what their costs will be a decade in advance – creating a “long-term competitive advantage”.

Across the country, industrial leaders like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, and others are contracting extensively for wind, as well as solar energy, as a way to hedge against future cost increases and decrease pollution.

Many of these companies will not even consider a location unless they can access 100 percent renewable energy.

For instance, the company Switch has just opened a new five billion dollar data center near Grand Rapids – the largest capital investment in Michigan history. The company would not have located in Michigan if they could not source 100 percent renewable energy.

Switch will bring 1000 sorely needed good jobs to the area, something that would not have happened without wind energy.

One state that has benefitted greatly from wind energy has been Iowa, which is now the state with the greatest penetration of wind energy, at a very reliable 36 percent. Read the rest of this entry »

Climate science is built on first order physics, and reliable observations of past climate – not models.

The adage “Every model is wrong, but some models are useful” applies, but nevertheless, looking back at the earliest attempts at modeling the atmosphere with modern computers, we can now make a judgement on climate science’s accuracy.

Above, archival footage of scientists predicting in the 1980s changes that had not yet been observed, versus current obs.
Below, Andy Dessler and others on why Dilbert, among others, don’t understand climate models and climate science.

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Astrophysicist Ethan Siegel in Forbes:

Modeling the Earth’s climate is one of the most daunting, complicated tasks out there. If only we were more like the Moon, things would be easy. The Moon has no atmosphere, no oceans, no icecaps, no seasons, and no complicated flora and fauna to get in the way of simple radiative physics. No wonder it’s so challenging to model! In fact, if you google “climate models wrong“, eight of the first tenresults showcase failure. But headlines are never as reliable as going to the scientific source itself, and the ultimate source, in this case, is the first accurate climate model ever: by Syukuro Manabe and Richard T. Wetherald. 50 years after their groundbreaking 1967 paper, the science can be robustly evaluated, and they got almost everything exactly right.

If there were no atmosphere on Earth, calculating the climate would be easy. The Sun emits radiation, the Earth absorbs some of the incident radiation and reflects the rest, then the Earth re-radiates away that energy. Temperatures would be easily calculable based on albedo (i.e., reflectivity), the angle of the surface to the Sun, the length/duration of the day, and the efficiency of how it re-radiates that energy. If we were to strip the atmosphere away entirely, our planet’s typical temperature would be 255 Kelvin (-18 °C / 0 °F), which is most definitely colder than what we observe. In fact, it’s about 33 °C (59 °F) colder than what we see, and what we need to account for that difference is an accurate climate model.

The number one contributor, by far, to this difference? The atmosphere. This “blanket-like” effect of the gases in our atmosphere was first discovered nearly two centuries ago by Joseph Fourier and worked out in detail by Svante Arrhenius in 1896. Each of the gases present has some amount of absorptive effects in the infrared portion of the spectrum, which is the portion where Earth re-radiates most of its energy. Nitrogen and oxygen are terrible absorbers, but good ones include water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and carbon dioxide. When we add (or take away) more of those gases from our planet’s atmosphere, it’s like thickening (or thinning) the blanket that the planet wears. This, too, was worked out by Arrhenius over 100 years ago.

Read the rest of this entry »

Her name is Rachel Price.

So much stupidity on display at the Wall Street Journal, and in congress, on sea level rise.

Fortunately, there is help.

Climate Feedback:

This commentary published by The Wall Street Journal, written by Fred Singer, claims that warming (and therefore greenhouse gas emissions) has no effect on global sea level rise. Although Singer concedes the physical fact that water expands as its temperature increases, he claims that this process must be offset by growth of Antarctic ice sheets.

Scientists who reviewed this opinion piece explained that it is contradicted by a wealth of data and research. Singer bases his conclusion entirely on a cherry-picked comparison of sea level rise 1915-1945 and a single study published in 1990, claiming a lack of accelerating sea level rise despite continued warming. But in fact, modern research utilizing all available data clearly indicates that sea level rise has accelerated, and is unambiguously the result of human-caused global warming.supportdarksnow

Chris Roberts, Research Scientist, ECMWF/Met Office:
This article severely misrepresents the scientific understanding of the processes responsible for observed changes in global sea level. Understanding and attributing the causes of changes in global sea level is an area of active research and there are genuine uncertainties, but there is a clear consensus on the important roles for ocean thermal expansion and addition of mass to the oceans from melting glaciers and ice caps during recent decades. For example, the following paper by Church et al. (2008)* summarizes the independent lines of evidence for changes in sea level from satellite altimeter and tide gauge measurements and how these changes can be explained by a combination of thermal expansion and exchange of mass (either liquid water or ice) between the oceans and continents:

Figure – Global sea‐level budget from 1961 to 2008. (left) The observed sea level using coastal and island tide gauges (solid black line with grey shading indicating the estimated uncertainty) and using satellite altimeter data (dashed black line) with thermal expansion and glaciers melting components; terrestrial storage (e.g. dams) partially offsets other contributions to sea‐level rise. (right) The observed sea level and the sum of components.

Stefan Rahmstorf, Professor, Potsdam University:
The article has almost nothing to do with the modern state of sea-level science. The author tries to call into question that global warming causes sea-level rise, and does so by cherry-picking a short segment of data from 1915-1945, a time when data quality is poor and the warming signal small—a bizarre approach that could never pass scientific peer review and is apparently aimed at misleading a lay audience.

Keven Roy, Research Fellow, Nanyang Technological University:
This article is misleading, and presents inaccurate statements about global mean sea level rise.

Benjamin Horton, Professor, Earth Observatory of Singapore:
If this were an essay in one of my undergraduate classes, he would fail.

Read the rest of this entry »

wsjsealevel

File this alongside “There is no gravity, the Earth sucks.”

One more reason to support Dark Snow Project.

Fred Singer in Wall Street Journal:

Of all known and imagined consequences of climate change, many people fear sea-level rise most. But efforts to determine what causes seas to rise are marred by poor data and disagreements about methodology. The noted oceanographer Walter Munk referred to sea-level rise as an “enigma”; it has also been called a riddle and a puzzle.

It is generally thought that sea-level rise accelerates mainly by thermal expansion of sea water, the so-called steric component. But by studying a very short time interval, it is possible to sidestep most of the complications, like “isostatic adjustment” of the shoreline (as continents rise after the overlying ice has melted) and “subsidence” of the shoreline (as ground water and minerals are extracted).

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I chose to assess the sea-level trend from 1915-45, when a genuine, independently confirmed warming of approximately 0.5 degree Celsius occurred. I note particularly that sea-level rise is not affected by the warming; it continues at the same rate, 1.8 millimeters a year, according to a 1990 review by Andrew S. Trupin and John Wahr. I therefore conclude—contrary to the general wisdom—that the temperature of sea water has no direct effect on sea-level rise. That means neither does the atmospheric content of carbon dioxide.

This conclusion is worth highlighting: It shows that sea-level rise does not depend on the use of fossil fuels. The evidence should allay fear that the release of additional CO2 will increase sea-level rise.

In my talks, I often hold up a thermometer to remind the audience of what they learned in 5th grade about fluids expanding when they are warmed.
An example of settled science, don’t you think?

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The cause of the trend is a puzzle. Physics demands that water expand as its temperature increases. But to keep the rate of rise constant, as observed, expansion of sea water evidently must be offset by something else. What could that be? I conclude that it must be ice accumulation, through evaporation of ocean water, and subsequent precipitation turning into ice. Evidence suggests that accumulation of ice on the Antarctic continent has been offsetting the steric effect for at least several centuries.

It is difficult to explain why evaporation of seawater produces approximately 100% cancellation of expansion. My method of analysis considers two related physical phenomena: thermal expansion of water and evaporation of water molecules. But if evaporation offsets thermal expansion, the net effect is of course close to zero. What then is the real cause of sea-level rise of 1 to 2 millimeters a year?

Read the rest of this entry »

eriebloom

We know that creating new lakes with dams is not a good idea climate wise, as emissions of methane are thought to be significant.

Turns out that under current conditions, existing lakes can become significant sources as well – another example of not-so-positive positive feedback in the climate system.

Inside Climate News:

Blooms of harmful algae in the nation’s waters appear to be occurring much more frequently than in the past, increasing suspicions that the warming climate may be exacerbating the problem.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) published newly collected data on Tuesday reporting nearly 300 large blooms since 2010. Last year alone, 169 were reported. While NOAA issues forecasts for harmful algal blooms in certain areas, the advocacy group called its report the first attempt to track the blooms on a nationwide scale.

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The study comes as scientists have predicted proliferation of these blooms as the climate changes, and amid increasing attention by the news media and local politicians to the worst cases.

Just as troubling, these blooms could not only worsen with climate change, but also contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.

EWG based its study on news reports and before-and-after satellite images that show the expansion of the blooms. Though the rapid increase in the annual numbers might reflect more thorough observations and reporting in recent years, Craig Cox, who focuses on agriculture for EWG, said the numbers may still be on the low side.

In 2014, the news was especially urgent in Toledo, where a toxic algal bloom in Lake Erie forced health officials to declare the water unsafe for drinking and bathing. Harmful algae blooms had been common in the western part of Lake Erie from the 1960s through the 1980s, but they had diminished with better pollution controls—until about a decade ago, according to NOAA.

Now the blooms—thick undulating mats of green—have become an annual occurrence there.

The root cause of the problem lies mainly in agricultural runoff that contains phosphorus, which encourages algal growth.

At a recent conference, the mayor of Toledo pointed the blame for the continuing problem squarely at the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, saying that lawmakers in the state were too intimidated by the group to support legislation to deal with the problem. “It’s probably the most powerful interest group in Ohio,” Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said in an interview.

Kapszukiewicz noted that the city spent billions of dollars upgrading its water treatment facility more than a decade ago and that there have been no sewage overflows into the lake since then, and yet the blooms are getting worse. “Toledoans are paying for a problem we didn’t create,” he said.

“Nutrient runoff” comes from sewage and other sources, but mostly from fertilizer and manure, which are especially high in phosphorus.

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