Predicting tipping points
Tim Lenton is now attempting to link the basic theory of climatic “tipping points” with observed early warning signals.
Problem is, these tipping points may not be sudden and dramatic but involve a steady but inevitable increase. When outbreaks of pine beetles first became obvious perhaps the eventual destruction of Canada’s boreal forests was inevitable. But Lenton is making an argument “from almost a mathematical point of view” that there are general properties of tipping points.
Polar climate change may lead to ecological change
This article looks at the complex changes in the polar regions associated with warming which is greater than at lower latitudes.
If you are looking at tipping points, the release of methane from permafrost is an obvious candidate. Ask yourself whether it is likely to gradually increase from here on, whether it is stoppable and what change in conditions would reverse the trend.
Sea level rise during the Eemian
Skeptical Science summarises research on sea level rise during the Eemian, the last interglacial. It’s also worth looking at the press release of a paper by McKay, Overpeck, and Otto-Bliesner of the University of Arizona.
It’s being suggested that the sea level may have been higher than previously thought, the contribution of Antarctica greater and of Greenland less, and the temperature may have been only 1C higher than now. Mckay et al suggest 4.1 to 5.8 metres from Antarctica out of a total of 8m.
Iron-rich dust plays a role in the ice ages
The New Scientist tells us about Swiss research that looked at iron dust in marine sediments going back 4 million years. They think that as the planet cooled there were dust storms which spread iron on the oceans, which stimulated the growth of plankton, which drew further carbon out of the atmosphere, creating further cooling.
The heading is rather misleading, implying that iron dust caused the ice ages, whereas the article makes clear that they think it was a feedback mechanism amplifying the cooling. The possible implications for geoengineering are obvious.
Can spotting dead polar bears add up to misconduct?
Back in 2006 Charles Monnett of the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement wrote a paper on four polar bears observed drowned in 2004. Now according to the New Scientist he has been suspended from duties and is accused of scientific misconduct.
The news set competing narratives loose in the blogosphere. Environmentalists claim that [Monnett] is the victim of a “witch hunt” aimed at opening up more of Alaska to oil and gas drilling. Meanwhile, climate sceptics have dubbed the affair “polarbeargate” and claim Monnett’s work is discredited.
While the specific allegations are unknown, the suspicion is that it related to the 2006 paper and that someone wants him out of the way.
The article notes that in 2009 according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature
eight polar bear subpopulations are declining, three are stable and one is increasing. Seven others could not be assessed due to a lack of data.
Inflatable wind turbines are said to save 50% on installation costs.
The company says the rotor is lighter and safer than any other product currently on the market. As its construction doesn’t require expensive molds or specialised tooling, Winflex says customising a turbine to a particular capacity or site location is rapid, as is assembly.
VW spring surprise at Frankfurt motor show
From John D’s Gizmag scanning, Volkswagen announce a new diesel one-litre 380kg baby capable of 1.38 litres per 100km or 170mpg in the old language.
Revolutionary wave disc generator combustion engine
Again from John D’s Gizmag, now all you have to do is fit the VW with one of these. Still in prototype, but the claim is 60% efficiency (compared with the conventional 15%), a greatly-reduced engine weight and a 95% reduction in CO2 emissions.
Carbon price crash
I think it was last Tuesday when only two prices in the equity and trading markets went up. One was gold, the other the newly downgraded US Treasury bonds. Carbon prices were about the worst hit, according to Climate Spectator with applause coming, curiously, from both opponents and proponents of carbon markets.
All I can offer is that the EU scheme might behave like a half-decent market when they stop giving away so many credits.
This space is meant to also serve as an open thread on climate change.