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Professor Jason E. Box, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) joins Thom. June 2016 marked the lowest recorded level that arctic sea ice has ever hit in the month June – and that’s bad news for our planet’s climate.

My Dark Snow colleague Dr. Jason Box offers some welcome buffering to some of the overly hyped Arctic methane-bomb rhetoric on the internet.

Bottom line:
There is indeed reason for concern, and nobody is more concerned than scientists like Dr. Box who follow the issue, and importantly, have children.

Yes, large amounts of methane are frozen in undersea arctic permafrost, and a large release of that powerful greenhouse gas would indeed mean, as Dr. Box  famously tweeted two years ago, that we would be “effed”.  Indeed,  methane seeps have been observed in the arctic ocean, but the area has not been well enough studied to tell how many, over what area, and whether these are new, or background phenomena that have been ongoing for some time.

But, data does not show a Methane melt-down currently in progress, despite what you may have seen on various heavy breathing you-tubes and websites from the “imminent human extinction” crowd.
Still, the risk is real, and represents a possible global high impact event that needs more study, which it is starting to get, with serious resources being deployed by several Arctic nations, as Dr. Box relates above.

See also today’s other sea ice post below on this page.

As the video above points out, arguments that wind and solar are “intermittent” and therefore unreliable are erroneous – as they fail to understand that ALL forms of energy are intermittent, and can fail at any moment.  Utilities, therefore, are required to have sufficient back up resources available to pick up in a moment’s notice when a large power plant might go offline.

In the case of wind, for instance, the flow of energy is quite predictable days in advance, and although occasionally an individual turbine goes off line for a few days or weeks, it is almost unheard of for an entire multi-hundred megawatt array to go down at once.
Not so with coal or nuclear plants, which can trip offline in a microsecond.

Case in point.

St. Joseph Michigan Herald Palladium:

BRIDGMAN — Donald C. Cook’s Unit 2 nuclear reactor is back in operation, about a week after it was shut down due to a steam line rupture.

The reactor was returned to power at 6 p.m. Tuesday, spokesman Bill Schalk said.

On July 6, workers manually took the reactor off-line after the steam line rupture was discovered.

Preliminary findings indicate the steam line ruptured due to “vibration-induced metal fatigue” of a steam expansion joint bellows, Schalk said.

Staff will redesign the equipment and make changes when the unit is shut down for a planned maintenance and refueling outage in the fall, he said.

“We’re working on that already,” he said. “We’ll either do something to reduce vibrations or strengthen the equipment.”

Metal parts had to be fabricated for the plant by its vendor before the repairs could be completed, Schalk said.

The steam line leads to low-pressure turbines and released pressurized, high-temperature steam. The rupture damaged the wall of the turbine building.

Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors assigned to the plant, and from the NRC’s regional office in Lisle, Ill, will be independently evaluating the company’s response to the incident.

My sea ice video from 2011 September 2011 is interesting because I included climate denier Joe Bastardi’s predictions from 2010, for what sea ice was going to do from that point.

You can skip to 6:37 to see how well self-styled ice expert and science denialist hero Bastardi’s predictions have done.

We never expect that those in the insular world of denial will acknowledge fact, but the steady accumulation of data shows why the number of Americans now alarmed about climate change has continued to grow.  Not something to be particularly happy about, but here it is.

juneseaice

Black and Bloom is a UK based, multi-year project that will probe deeper into the interactions of Greenland ice with black carbon, dark algae, and increased melting.

Joe Cook is a key researcher in the effort. I interviewed Joe in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, and also on the ice as the team was putting in on July 12.

For more, check out the interview with team member Chris Williamson the other day.

I hear frequently from congressional staffers – I’ll bet anything Liz was primed by watching some of the videos below.

Read the rest of this entry »

I shot this last week in Greenland after connecting with the UCLA team working on a major survey of water flow on the ice sheet.

The idea is to get extremely accurate ground level measurements of water flow thru the system, in order to better understand and calibrate data coming from the satellites.

That should make for more accurate measurements of water flow and mass loss over the whole ice sheet.

I’m posting this having just gotten back from following yet another group, the Black and Bloom folks from the UK. Was able to fly along on their put-in, and got some very good (I think) shots on the ice, and more interviews with the team. They are drilling down deeper into the whole phenomenon of dark snow/albedo, and melt.
More on that soon.

Spent the morning doing interviews with the Black and Bloom team, a multi-year effort out of the UK to quantify effects of Black carbon (black) and Algae blooms (bloom. get it?) on Greenland ice sheet albedo.

Chris Williamson, interviewed here, is the algae guy, – with a background in Marine biology – not something you would normally expect to find on the ice sheet.  But his expertise in tracing impacts of climate changes on algae species lends itself to this task.

I’ll be breaking out smaller pieces of the discussions over coming days and weeks. Tomorrow, the team puts in on the ice, and they have enough gear that it will take two flights to get it all in.  I’ll fly in with the first team, shoot some footage, and (knock on wood) fly out with the second flight.

Black and Bloom:

Jim and Joe have been in touch a few times to let me know of progress in Kangerlussuaq. All is going well, I’m happy to report. They’ve been in touch with the helicopter pilots and confirmed the loading and flight times, Monday afternoon and first thing Tuesday morning. We’ve arranged radio contact channels with the helicopter and reconfirmed emergency call out numbers. Several folk have been very helpful to us. First, getting gas regulators for the cookers – thank you Jason Box. Peter Sinclair has kindly provided us with flares in the very unlikely event that we get a visit from a polar bear. We’ve also picked up rifles from Miki Nielsen. Thanks folks all.

Next things the team will be doing is to go through a mental check list of all the things you need for living and working on ice. It’s getting close to being the last time to treble check that you’ve packed all the little things that enable you to do your job and then to relax properly afterwards. The next helicopter will be in two weeks time, and so forgetting, say, your multi-tool knife or the ears phones for your music can be thoroughly frustrating while you wait for them to come next flight. It will also be the last time to get your tea bags and chocolate. Little things like these take on a disproportionate value when you’re trying to unwind after a hard day’s work in the cold.

For the last few days, the group has been packing and loading gear at a warehouse next to the Air Greenland hangar.  One key activity, practice putting up the lab tent – something they won’t want to be guessing about once they are on the ice. See Below. Read the rest of this entry »

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