Climate clippings 61

David Archer on methane

Arctic methane plumes

Climate clippings 58 led with an item on Methane worries. @ 18 I identified David Archer as one who is “very knowledgeable on the matter [and] thinks the process will be chronic rather than catastrophic.”

He is still of the same opinion according to his post at RealClimate. In short he thinks decomposing permafrost and hydrates will not happen fast enough in sufficient quantity to cause a serious problem:

The methane hydrates in the ocean, in cahoots with permafrost peats (which never get enough respect), could be a significant multiplier of the long tail of the CO2, but will probably not be a huge player in climate change in the coming century.

Andrew Revkin at Dot earth picks up on this item, the latest of a series of posts on the topic.

More wild winters to come?

People who lived through freakish cold weather in the US and Europe in recent years are asking whether there is more to come. The New Scientist has an article which concludes that while the jury is still out there may be a link to global warming. The polar jet stream normally sits like a scull cap on top of the globe in a relatively smooth wavy pattern. In recent times the jet stream has weakened, allowing cold air to flow south and warm air to flow north. The weakened jet stream has a tendency to block, producing persistent cooling or warming.

Here’s a graphic representation of a distended jet stream in the winter of 2100-11:

Distended polar jet stream

The article outlines some theories about what’s happening which appear to be consistent with a warming planet. We’ll have to wait and see how things work out.

CO2 and Antarctic glaciation

It seems there has been a conundrum about the onset of Antarctic glaciation, 33.7 million years ago.

Previously published records of alkenone-based CO2 from high- and low-latitude ocean localities suggested that CO2 increased during glaciation, in contradiction to theory.

A new study, The Role of Carbon Dioxide During the Onset of Antarctic Glaciation, has re-aligned observations with theory as reported at Skeptical Science.

The bottom line is that on our present trajectory we”ll be in territory by 2100 where substantial deglaciation will be triggered, albeit over many centuries. We have been told by scientists that emissions reduction commitments made so far since Copenhagen imply a temperature rise of 3.5C by 2100. I think this graph puts the broad implications fairly well:

Temperature related to sea level rise

I got the image from David Spratt and Philip Sutton’s book Climate Code Red: the case for emergency action. I understand it hails from Archer (2006) via Rahmstorf.

Hansen on sea level rise

James Hansen doesn’t, I think, go hard on 5 metres as the likely sea level rise by 2100, but he certainly entertains the possibility. Stuart Staniford at Energy Bulletin looks at his basic argument. It’s based on ice sheet melting being exponential rather than linear. Doubling the melt every 10 years produces a pattern like this:

Exponential vs linear sea level rise

Hansen and Sato point out that we got a metre every 20 years in Meltwater pulse 1A. I would point out that they have a metre by 2080 and then another four metres in the following 20 years.

My bet is somewhere in between. A metre by 2080 and then perhaps another metre by 2100. Curt Stager’s book tells us that the sea level rose at the rate of a metre every 20 years for a hundred years towards the end of the Eemian, but four times that rate from 2080 to 2100 stretches credibility.

Hansen on extreme heat events

Climate Progress has a post on a draft paper by Hansen, Sato and Ruedy. There’s another at Skeptical Science. In essence this is what they found:

“The most dramatic and important change of the climate dice is the appearance of a new category of extreme climate outliers. These extremes were practically absent in the period of climatology, covering much less than 1% of Earth’s surface. Now summertime extremely hot outliers, more than three standard deviations (σ) warmer than climatology, typically cover about 10% of the land area. Thus there is no need to equivocate about the summer heat waves in Texas in 2011 and Moscow in 2010, which exceeded 3σ – it is nearly certain that they would not have occurred in the absence of global warming. If global warming is not slowed from its current pace, by mid-century 3σ events will be the new norm and 5σ events will be common.”

It should be noted that they looked a temperature anomaly only, from a base of the mean from 1950-1980. Their key result is contained in Figure 5:

Global temperature anomalies

Interestingly, continental USA has not had the global pattern of 20C warming.

Jones on shifts and extremes

Roger Jones has just done a post on climate shifts and extremes. He looks at very hot days at Laverton in Victoria and finds a step change in 1997. This is an example of his contention that the climate changes in steps or jerks, rather than in smooth linear patterns, a notion put in a poster at the recent AGU Conference and taken up at Rabett Run.

You might recall the second segment of Climate clippings 57 where I posted this graph from Tamino at Open Mind’s discussion of a paper by Foster and Rahmstorf:

Foster and Rahmstorf combined temperature series

That graph removes the effects of short-term variability due to ENSO, solar cycles and volcanic eruptions. While the result is elegant and may represent the underlying effect of global warming, I think the idea is that we live in the real world and in the real world things are bumpy and jerky.

Our CO2 exports

Roger Jones has also taken a look at the implications for CO2 emissions of our coal and gas industries. Guy Pearse has done the numbers:

I estimate that Australian coal exports will generate around 75Gt CO2 between now and 2050 – perhaps another 5Gt will come from domestic coal use, and 8-10 Gt from LNG if the expansion of coal seam gas proceeds. In rough terms, between now and 2050, Australian fossil fuel could account for about 1/8th of the remaining carbon budget for 2 degrees C.

By way of comparison, Australia’s emissions inventory for 2009 was 554 million tonnes. IPCC AR4 gave the GHG emissions for 2004 as the equivalent of 49Gt of CO2:

Global GHG emissions

EU tax on airlines

The EU is placing a carbon tax on airlines from 1 January. Countries including the US, China and India are all threatening to declare a trade war over the issue.

I agree with the author of the article. It’s amazing is that this will be a contentious issue at all.

Richard Black at the BBC reports that the US airlines have just lost a legal challenge, and the Chinese are refusing to pay. The EU is standing firm. Black reports that Delta have just added a levy to cover it, all of $3 per ticket!

75 thoughts on “Climate clippings 61”

  1. Brian re Jet Streams, a while backNASA illustrated very effectively the link between a stalled jet stream system and major weather events in Extreme 2010 Russian Fires and Pakistan Floods Linked Meteorologically . It also contains a section on Future Directions and several animations. On the southern hemisphere this plays out slightly different because of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. An interesting and topical discussion re Jet Streams and relationship with ENSO at Weatherzone (posted by ROM, it also contains link to Southern Hemisphere Jet Stream analyses.) There were other reports, that the recent heat wave in SA were delivered by ‘unusual’ Jet Stream.

    Btw. later in that WZ Enso thread @p4 there is much venting re BOM and presumably Climate Modelling not taking into account ENSO in AGW models. I was just wondering whether this links with
    “In general, while doing a pretty good job, models tend to under-represent some aspects of natural climate variability (usually those on longer timescales) in the method section in rogers post linked in CC 60?

  2. Ugh …. rogers post above.
    (I am, health wise, under the weather again at present – hope yous don’t mind me occasionally loosing focus)

  3. Ootz, hope your health picks up (is this the wet season ailment?).

    The models have a range of responses re ENSO. Some produce the variability really well, in others it is suppressed. In the CSIRO model some years ago it was improved by better representation of the tight thermocline in the Pacific (that’s the layer in the ocean separating surface mixing from depth and marks a rapid temp change with depth.) Thermoclines are critical for surface water energy balance.

    One of the areas where models are less sensitive is in the reproduction of the sub tropical ridge over Australia in the 20th century. The SEACI (SE Oz Climate Initiative) project showed that the obs showed greater changes than in the NCAR model – similar behaviour in many of the other models.

    This is why, on balance, when the modelling represents better climate dynamics, the risks become even larger than in earlier simpler versions. The criticism of models doing a bad job is a two-edged sword.

  4. Brian,

    thanks for the summaries. Obviously I think the recent heat extremes are due to non-linear warming, or shifts. I analysed the Tamino (Foster and Rahmstorf) time series you show. Taking the variability influences out of it makes the shift in 1997 even clearer for the statistical tests I use. Adds support to my argument, I reckon.

    Will put up the analysis but need to pay some attention to the garden first.

  5. Jumpy @ 1, I think China, the US etc think the EU should not have acted unilaterally.

    Roger, I look forward to your analysis.

    Ootz, thanks for the links and hope health is better soon. You clearly take a closer interest in the weather than I do.

    A while ago there was an attempt to link cold European winters with low solar activity. See here , here and here.

    I’m not sure whether the linked article in the New Scientist is visible (I have a subscription). They mention research by James Overland, who suggests that the cause is warming in the Arctic area.

    Then there is research by Jennifer Francis, who also seems to favour surface warming:

    The jet stream is driven by the difference in temperature between the high and low latitudes, but the rapid warming in the Arctic is weakening that temperature gradient, especially in autumn, she says. “I think what’s happening at the surface is driving the changes at the upper level.” A slowdown in the jet stream means it is more likely to develop the enormous kinks that let Arctic air spill south. What’s more, these kinks move more slowly, making the weather they bring much more persistent.

    It’s the persistence that she emphasises rather than cold.

    Kinks in the jet stream can bring warm weather as well as cold, though, Francis points out. “It’s not that we will have increasingly cold winters but more persistent conditions,” she says. “This winter could be incredibly warm for a long time.”

    I think your NASA link shows us how complex the atmospheric circulation systems are.

  6. Yes, Lefty E. In the piece he says:

    Clearly, if we burn all fossil fuels, we will destroy the planet we know. Carbon dioxide would increase to 500 ppm or more. We would set the planet on a course to the ice-free state, with sea level 75 meters higher. Coastal disasters would occur continually. The only uncertainty is the time it would take for complete ice sheet disintegration.

    He sees complete deglaciation as happening at 500 ppm rather than the 600-700 ppm in the paleoclimate research in the post. It matters little. Catastrophe would be our lot either way. But he sees the biggest problem as species extinction, Which new research suggests has been underestimated.

  7. Thats right Brian. Politically, we should be using language like “Moratorium” , and “Non-proliferation Treaty” etc.

    Coal-fired power stations are WMDs. Pure and simple.

  8. The Canadian bloke who made the Compact Linear Fresnel Reflectors, Dr David Mills, is on Youtube stating that it is too late for the 440ppm level to not be passed!

    This was years ago he made that statement…

    He reckoned it was unkown if that 440ppm level could be breached and then brought back under but he said it was definately inevitable that it would be passed in the first!!

    Fairly sure this is the link but I haven’t got sound at the moment unfortunately ~;^{

  9. Keithy: The Mauna Loa data indicates that the increase in CO2 at this site increased at an average rate of 2.05 ppm for the last 10 yrs. The current seasonally adjusted level is 393 ppm. On these figures the seasonally adjusted figure should reach 440 by 2035.
    The increase for the last 10 yrs is the highest 10 yr average in the ML record which started in 1959. 10 yrs ago the highest 10 yr average was 1.636 ppm/yr.

  10. Jumpy @1

    Albanese is between a rock and a hard place. He should be four square behind Qantas in opposing this illegal, under international law, tax and supporting the national interest – Governments exist in order that the national interest be advanced, do they not? – but opposing a carbon tax elsewhere would raise even more uncomfortable, if very pertinent, questions about what the Government has wrought in Australia. So he makes a ludicrously feeble attempt to nod in Qantas’ direction while supporting the principle of carbon taxes everywhere on everyone.

    Ludicrously feeble because as even a halfwit knows – come to think of it, of course, this gives Albanese an out – ICAO has no power to levy taxes. Even the UN doesn’t. And why on earth would any Government which objects to this tax as imposed by the EU agree to it if it came out of ICAO? Which of course it never could anyway, since with the US, China and India (and almost everyone else outside the EU, except possibly – we’ll never know because this pusillanimous Government will continue to sit on the fence with Albo-isms – Australia) opposed, ICAO would never pass it.

    Leaving aside the Albanese-bashing, this is a very important dispute. Where the rubber hits the road for global carbon pricing. I don’t understand, Brian, how you can dismiss it with “it’s amazing is that this will be a contentious issue at all”. It doesn’t matter if the impact is only $3 a ticket (and the substantial rest actually, but let’s take your figure since it doesn’t affect the argument), the issue is extra-territorial application of a tax imposed by one entity for dubious reasons in violation of international law. OK, it is possible to query the “violation” – not credibly in my view, but at the very least the US et al can be expected to contest the principle down to the last legal option since if the ruling is against them there are lots of implications outside aircraft fuel.

    After all, it’s in their national interests, and there are some countries fortunate enough to have governments that still know what this means.

  11. My understanding is that Delta will charge a massive $3 surcharge on its airfares to cover the cost of this airline destroying tax.
    A number of countries may actually feel that the EU is setting a useful precedent that can be used against the EU or other countries.

  12. Wozza @ 13, I was giving my initial reaction FWIW. Which is not much as I’m not versed in international law. I’ve always understood that other countries may believe that the EU should not have acted unilaterally and that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) may have been an appropriate forum to raise the matter.

    The EU for whatever reason decided to act unilaterally. This link tells us that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) found the EU’s emissions tax legal.

    “Application of the emissions trading scheme to aviation infringes neither the principles of customary international law at issue nor the Open Skies Agreement” across the Atlantic, the ECJ decided.

    “It is only if the operators of such aircraft choose to operate a commercial air route arriving at or departing from an airport situated in the EU that they are subject to the emissions trading scheme,” it added.

    As a result of this choice, the EU system “infringes neither the principle of territoriality nor the sovereignty of third states, since the scheme is applicable to the operators only when their aircraft are physically in the territory of one of the member states of the EU”.

    Obviously you know better and we should all accept your view.

  13. Keithy @ 11, what Mills says comes about 8 mins in. He’s talking about the urgency of doing something and that we will inevitably overshoot.

    He mentions a target of 400 ppm by 2050 and says we obviously will go higher and have to come back to that. But he’s an engineer constructing and selling solar power plants, not an authority on climate science.

    This raises the issue of the other GHGs and CO2 equivalence, which I’ve been neglecting a bit. If you look at the (b) section of the IPCC figure given in the post, I think you’ll find that the CO2 only amounts to about 77% of the whole. If you work the figures through on the 393 ppm provided by John D you get 510 ppm of CO2e.

    When Hansen says we need to get to 350 ppm I think he means CO2e. And when he says the Antarctic will melt @ 500 ppm (eventually) he almost certainly means CO2e. So we’ve already overshot. Sorry!

  14. Brian @15: believe it or not, the European Court of Justice has no jurisdiction over international trade disputes which is what this is.

    In September, the US, Brazil, India, China, Russia and 21 other governments made a joint representation to the EU, saying that unilaterally imposed European measures on airline emissions were “inconsistent with international legal regimes”. Subsequent to the ECJ decision, the US and India have both reiterated that position, threatening retaliation if the EU go ahead, the Chinese have said bluntly that they won’t pay, and none of the September signatories have actually said “oh, that’s it, we were wrong then”.

    But on the basis of an assertion from a European institution with no jurisdiction over international law, you prefer to believe that everyone’s out of step but our EU? Well, fair enough, we’re all entitled to an opinion but frankly I don’t think this one has enough behind it to justify snide remarks about mine.

    As for the only $3 per ticket, that depends whom you believe. The Washington Times says $30 per round trip, and Bloomberg quoting a UK aviation industry organisation says up to 3% of ticket value.
    We’ll have to see, and that will take a while since the tax doesn’t cut in till March 2013, but I would point out that, if it is only $3, this will have next door to no impact on actual emissions, the ostensible point of the exercise. So, defy international opinion and precipitate a trade war for nothing achieved, is in your view praiseworthy?

    And whatever the eventual outcome, and the legal rights and wrongs – and I concede that airline services is a murkier area in that sense than most other areas of services trade, under the GATT/WTO treaties – the point that Jumpy and I were making about the pusillanimous, sit on the fence, bugger Qantas, totally characteristic of this government, response from Albanese, is not affected.

  15. Wozza, I wrote my initial reaction after making the first link, and left it there after I added the BBC link. I should have taken it out.

    I don’t have a final opinion, because I lack sufficient information.

    In the end the matter may be settled by power politics rather than international law. One body they all seem to respect (except perhaps the Russians, who aren’t in it) is the WTO, so whether the dispute will wind up there, I don’t know. It seems likely. I wondered why the Americans bothered to challenge it under European law, except that if they’d won there that would have been the end of it, presumably.

    The BBC article indicates that they are only taxing 15% of emissions and the airlines get 85% free. That seems to indicate that there is a ‘thin end of the wedge’ element to this, which would be one reason for the rest of the world to worry.

    It seems to me that the Europeans take climate change more seriously than most, which may be one reason they are acting. They may have seen the alternative of talks for a decade or so unacceptable.

  16. Wozza said in part:

    whatever the eventual outcome {…} under the GATT/WTO treaties – the point that Jumpy and I were making about the pusillanimous, sit on the fence, bugger Qantas …

    It’s fine with me. Firstly, there are no GATT/WTO implications as the measure falls easily within the provisions — (non-discrimination, public policy purpose, compliance with international treaty) — and it’s one of the reasons why an ETS here applying to transport was called for.

    Personally, I believe QANTAS/Jetstar/Air Some Place in South East-Asia deserves whatever bad stuff comes its way after its appalling conduct last year. If it goes to the wall, I’ll be amongst those waving goodbye with a smile — not that $3 or even 3% of ticket price — if it came to that would make the slightest difference given that everyone else is going to be wearing the same cost or bound to show that it is subject to an equaivalent cost burden per tCO2e.

  17. BRIAN @ 16, OK- “sorry Forum, I was wrong… the relevant figure was 400ppm I apologise! (I could have sworn it was 440ppm!!!!)”

  18. Fran @ 19

    You are more forgiving of a politician obfuscating than I am. Though I suspect you wouldn’t be if it were Abbott not Albanese.

    The fact is that almost every non-EU country with a major airline has come out firmly against this tax, except Australia. Because it is against their national interests. Albanese has to explain why, unlike other countries, it is not against Australia’s national interests, or acknowledge that his comments are actually driven by partisan domestic politics. So should you.

    You are very confident that this measure is not contrary to the EU’s GATT/WTO obligations. On what grounds? It hasn’t been legally tested and this is one of the issues to be explored. Core air services are excluded from GATS and the TBT agreement, but there is an Annex to GATS covering some aspects of air services. Its scope is unclear. This paper if you are interested enough to lay out some money on it explores the issues:

    Furthermore, the WTO is not all or even most of the international legal obligations the EU has in regard to air services. Most are in the web of bilateral air services agreements the EU and EU countries have with other countries. Including Australia, though funnily enough Albanese feels this is not worth mentioning.

    In regard to the WTO, it needs to be considered that, if the EU’s actions are indeed outside WTO disciplines, so therefore are retaliatory measures against EU airlines taken by the US et al. This could get very nasty very quickly.

    The bottom line is that the EU measure is shoot first, ask questions afterwards. This is fundamentally incompatible with an effective rules-bound international trading system. Since the Kyoto Protocol excludes airline emissions it gets no cover there or anywhere else in international law either. You may think that this is unimportant in comparison to computer-driven doomsday climate scenarios, but many well-informed,sovereign governments do not.

  19. Brian @ 18: yes, I think we can agree on most of that, particularly the importance of the thin end of the wedge. But I would invert the prism through which you are viewing it (“it seems to me that the Europeans take climate change more seriously than most”). It seems to me that the issue is that others take the rule of international law, and particularly its (relative) success over many years in preventing trade and economic disputes deteriorating and expanding into beggar thy neighbour wars, more seriously than does the EU.

    Without wanting to repeat what I have just said in response to Fran, extra-territorial application of domestic law is a hugely sensitive issue in international trade. It is more so now, with more and more suspicions that some, and as often as not the EU, are using environmental excuses to enact what are essentially protectionist measures. There is even greater vigilance with the expiry of the Kyoto Protocol, and the expectation (justified or not) that those who didn’t get what they wanted through that failed endeavour will now try to get it in other ways.

    In other words, the thin end of the wedge has got little to do with airlines per se. It is about this tax as a potential precursor to something much broader and much worse.

    For the record, I am not suggesting either that there is an easy answer to the issues raised by the EU carbon tax on airlines. I am suggesting only that there is a lot in play, and that it really can’t be dismissed with a simple “it’s amazing is that this will be a contentious issue at all”.

  20. Without seeing the argument put by SSRN Wozza it’s hard to assess its force, but the more general provisions of GATT/WTO would not exclude this measure, and if someone felt they did, it would need to be arbitrated. If the losing party didn’t accept, the only alternative would be trade sanctions — and since both parties would lose in that scenario, one suspects a deal would be cut.

    Personally, I’d be happy to see a trade war over airline operations — it would be bound to cut airmiles in the longer run by more than any potential impost from the EU on carbon emissions.

    Not the least of the failures of the first iteration of the EU ETS was the failure to address this issue. I suppose that is why they have just decided to make a decision.

  21. Dave @ 22, the link doesn’t seem to work. The only way I can do it is to copy and paste the url.

    Curious, as is the article!

  22. David Archer has a look at what would happen if the Arctic methane venting increased by 100 times.

    He reckons it is about equivalent of what CO2 will do under BAU. It does not lead to a runaway greenhouse or “a wild blow-the-doors-off unpleasant surprise”.

  23. Wikipedia has quite a comprehensive article on the environmental impact of aviation.

    This 2007 article puts aviation at 3% of the EU’s emissions. Clearly with the growth rate the significance increases over a few decades as emissions from other sources diminish.

    Seems aviation is part of Phase 2 of their ETS.

  24. Fran Barlow @26

    I assume that would be the Victorian modelling done in response to the Federal modelling, done using a Treasury model which has also not been made public?

    While I have no sympathy for Baillieu’s position, a phrase about pots and kettles does come to mind.

  25. The next edition of Climate clippings will definitely not appear today. Tomorrow is in doubt, bit it should happen by at least Sunday.

  26. I’m getting a few articles through such as this one suggesting that winter in Europe and the US this time may be mild rather than wild.

    This adds strength to the view of Jennifer Francis I outlined @ 6, who says the slowing of the jet stream may produce more persistent weather in those parts, whether mild or cold. I follow a few temperatures in the daily press. As an impression it seems to be persistently colder in Seoul this year than in Toronto and Frankfurt. I’d normally expect Toronto to be the coldest of the three.

  27. Personally Wozza, I’d be entirely happy for the Federal Treasury modelling to be released, and believe strongly that it should be. That said, it was the Victorian government playing the alarmist card here, and if as seems likely, the modelling shoots down their claim, then the two are hardly comparable.

  28. I’ve seen a lot of PV panels on rooves lately Lefty. Coming back from Maitland (on John Hunter Drive?) there was a place which had every piece of north facing roof space covered — perhaps 40 panels. On Kissing Point Rd Dundas there’s a roof with 28 panels. And just down the street from the Bunnings at Carlingford someone has about 18 installed.

  29. dear Brian
    my relatives report mild winter in alberta this time ’round: edmonton & points north. little or no snow on christmas day.v

    also, environment canada says 7 degrees above average is the norm this year across the country – this certainly gels with what my family’s been saying.

    i would have picked frankfurt as coldest myself because its inland, like edmonton; i don’t know about seoul, but i understand toronto has moderating effects from the lake.

    and this today from nasa:-
    “Much of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba is predicted to see major shifts northward of plant and animal species.”
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  30. “”The NASA model used a global temperature increase of two to four degrees this century, as predicted by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.””

    So NASA is programming IPCC data into their models?

    I thought it was supposed to be the other way around?

  31. @34, our bill has gone down from $500 to $200 with a 1.5 kw system, and the inport export meter still has to be installed. (Shhh!) Go solar!

    I complained to both Origin and the installers about the the peak output being well below the 1.5kw and neither could give the actual reason, which, from my own research, is that the panel output is rated at 25C and loses .5% efficiency per degreeC above this. Even on a cool day, the temperature of the cells will be well above 25C.

  32. @38
    And there are idiots up here in Mackay with solar panels on black roofs with giant a/c units,triple stupid.

  33. alfred @ 36, I checked on the averages here.

    For January Toronto is -8.4C to -1.2.

    Seoul is -8.3 to 0.3.

    Couldn’t get the max and min for Frankfurt am Main but the daily average is 0.2. A nearby area was -1.6 to 2.8.

  34. Alfred, I tried this mob.

    They give -7.3 to -1.1 for Toronto, -6.1 to 1.6 for Seoul and -1.3 to 4 for Frankfurt. I expect there are different weather stations around those cities.

    I did notice a forecast for Toronto tomorrow for -13 to -10, which would be not uncommon for this time of the year. It does go below -20C, lake or no lake.

  35. SG @ 38 – what sort of peak output are you getting? I think I read in the ReNew magazine that panels in summer often run around 85C so thats quite a drop in efficiency. Maybe they should be water cooled 🙂

    At an Adelaide latitude I’m expecting to get around 4kWh/day per kW of installed rated power. Averaged over the whole year, with a lot more in summer than winter of course. With the FiT my panels should pay for themselves within about 7-10 years. With the upfront capital cost it is a bit like paying a few years of electricity in advance though 🙂

  36. Salient – Ive noticed the same, except for day 1, we’ve never got better than 1100 on our 1500 kw ph system. That said, the temp in Melbourne seems to suit the system well. On a 9-month scale, its provided 50% of our energy use. The good news is that the missing 3 months is summer. So I expect abuout 55%.

    Of course, with the feed-in tarriff for what we hae produced, the reduction in costs will be much greater than 55%. Id say closer to 70-75%.

  37. Lefty, we’re getting around the 1.3kw but our area would be getting at least 100w/m2 sun than Melbourne. I have noticed that it will still crank up to the 1.5kw when there are a few white clouds in the sky. They seem to magnify the brightness.

  38. Considering the falling efficiency of PV in conditions where ambient temperatures are above 25degC …

    Given that many people also have solar hot water, and the source of that water is either mains water or perhaps a rainwater tank, I wonder how feasible it would be to pass this water underneath the PV panels using a series of thin pipes (to maximise the heat sink effect). This should reduce the heat of the panels and by pre-heating the water, lead to improved efficiencies with hotwater output. It might even cool the roof.

  39. LeftyE & SG – I think what you’re seeing is pretty typical for PV installations. Depending on the panel type/quality you can get quite different results. Some I had a look at promised 10% higher output but then they also cost more than 10% more. But more importantly than peak output is the overall energy production matching the modelling that the solar PV company supplied you with?

    Fran @ 45 – I’ve wondered why they don’t sell those sorts of systems here. Perhaps its complexity. Also in summer most solar hot water systems would produce way more hot water thatn people use and so the cooling capacity is greatly reduced unless you are willing to dispose of the water somewhere.

  40. Also in summer most solar hot water systems would produce way more hot water thatn people use and so the cooling capacity is greatly reduced unless you are willing to dispose of the water somewhere.

    I can see that this could be a problem but you could always dump the excess into a rainwater tank. Raising the heat of the water there would help control small fauna and pathogens.

  41. Loss of PV power with temperature.
    Given constant insolation the power output from silicon based PV is reduced by almost 0.6% per degree centigrade above 45C . At solar noon I have measured about 90C at the back of the cell. This means at least 33% loss of power. You won’t hear about this from the solar shonks .
    Fran , water cooling has been tried – does not work.
    The most astonishing thing is that the module manufacturers cover the back of the module with white Tedlar which has a very high Albedo and thus poor emissivity.
    The other thing is the issue of thermally induced degradation in high voltage arrays. The PV industry won’t tell you about this either.
    Will your PV array really last 20 years? No way,, About as long as your Inverter – 5 to 10. Some fail after one year.
    That’s the power of the market folks.

  42. And of course, the heat sink problem would be non-existent in medium and high density developments since ther relationship between roof collection capacity and users would be very different from that applying in traditional freee-standing residences.

  43. Well, if we’re going to talk about short term weather, I’ve been waiting for someone to mention the global temperature anomaly for 2011. Since no-one has – and I appreciate of course that today’s temperature in Toronto is much more significant for climate change than the most recent 12 months worth of data for the whole world – I guess I should.

    Global temperature anomaly less than +0.13C in December (UAH) wasn’t it? 2011 well below even Hansen’s scenario C (no net new greenhouse forcing after 2000)? Global temperature based on the last 6 years increasing at 0.45C per century?

    OK, granted, it’s weather. But it’s a sight nearer being climate than current temperatures in Toronto, Seoul and Frankfurt.

    Oh and in case anyone says “La Nina”, can I point out that Environment Canada were predicting a warm winter for Toronto before it started, because of ….. La Nina.

  44. Wozza, alfred and I were just having a chat about some personal perceptions. That’s all. I have a sister in Toronto and friends in or near the other places.

    So as the most responsible and balanced person around your intervention was not unexpected.

    It would be helpful if you provided a link. I might consider including a segment about 2011 in the next CC. I have in fact seen stories about the 2011 temp, but at the time they didn’t rate with whatever else was around at the time. We don’t aspire to being comprehensive.

  45. dear Brian
    thanks for the reply & the data – i’m open to correction. looks like frankfurt might be experiencing a beneficial effect from the gulf stream i didn’t account for, and seoul has its ocean currents, too. but when you say “It does go below -20C, lake or no lake” i cracked a wry smile. as i recall the minus 20’s are about as cold as it gets in toronto & that’s largely due to the lake. where i grew up (edmonton) minus 20’s the average in winter, the extreme is minus 30/ minus 35.

    the worst thing about winter in toronto is the humidity (again due to the lake) which combines with sub-zero temps into something very uncomfortable indeed. the cold moisture clings to your clothes, accumulates & gradually seeps in however carefully you wrap yourself. edmonton on the other hand is notoriously dry (guitarists & string players have slow release moisture sticks, called “snakes”, they insert into their instruments so the wood doesn’t split). consequently, the cold doesn’t seep into the very fabric of your clothes & chill you to your existential core. don’t get me wrong its still uncomfortable: your pants appear to freeze solid & feel like cold metal pipes around your thighs, your face stings. but at least you don’t feel “soggy” as well. the discomfort its qualitatively different. and of course the usual wind chill discomfort applies in both locales.

    they grow grapes in the toronto & make reasonably good wine in small volumes; they grow crab apples in edmonton & make stewed preserves in glass jars. if nasa’s right they’ll be growing mangoes in toronto & grapes in edmonton after i shuffle off. by the way, the “ice wine” production is down this year ’cause it wasn’t cold enough.
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  46. I just remembered, we did the WMO preliminary take on 2011 back in CC 57 (first item). La Nina years of course tend to be cooler worldwide, whatever the effect in Toronto may or may not be. 2011 as the warmest La Nina year is interesting.

  47. alfred, my sister actually lives in Mississauga, which I think is a bit away from the lake. I used to check the temperatures on Yahoo weather and it could be I remember the low ones from there. The lowest I remember is -22 to -26. In recent times I’ve taken to checking the local rag which has daily temperatures from around the world.

  48. Huggy @ 48 – the reputable solar PV sales people talk about how much power they will generate over a year rather than peak output. And they do warn people that output drops in higher temps, but you have longer days in summer which compensates…

    Also most PV panels have output guarantees over 20 years so if they degrade significantly within that time you’ll get replacements (as long as you bought from a manufacturer that will still be around!)

  49. And talking about weather this year, it has been a fairly wet and cool (relatively speaking) summer in Adelaide this year – not that I’m complaining! Talking about short term weather effects in the context of global warming isn’t that helpful because there are such large natural variations from year to year.

  50. Chris,

    It is all about what happens in June. Remember August’s summer blast?

    I’m flaked out here in my office, suitably inebriated by a heavy application of medicinal red wine contemplating Robert Rapiers monthly video message of “it is not what the US have done or are doing now, it is what DC’s (developing countries) will do in the future” message, while complexing my contribution’s next week’s “business” spot visit to Charlotte NC.


    The word is rooted!

  51. dear Brian
    mississauga’s practically toronto, like parramatta’s practically sydney, just has a smaller “lake-frontage” and suburbs nearer the lake get more of the effect than suburbs further in land. some of my rels are in thunder bay ontario where the local climate benefits from the mitigating effects of another lake. of course, the best situated city in canada for local climate has to be vancouver, which has the further advantage of being stunningly beautiful.
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  52. Vancouver is stunningly beautiful. One of my favourite places. And there is the ferry ride to Victoria,….or Seattle for that matter.

  53. BilB, haven’t heard from you for a while. A bit of self medication never hurt me too much while contemplating the world’s problems although the red wine can dampen the benefit quite a bit if you’re not careful. I prefer a margarita or bourbon and coke for medicine, save the red for a meal. Enjoy and gluck.

  54. alfred @ 52, I’d never heard of winter wine. We live and learn, but at those prices I won’t be tasting.

    There’s no link in your @ 55. I googled and found some forecasts for 2010-11 as the worst La Nina winter since 1955.

    I also found some forecasts for this winter here, here, here, and here. It does indeed seem as though a milder start to winter was on the cards for the SE, but there is also a note that the weather is becoming more erratic and harder to predict.

  55. Chris @48
    20 year warranties for PV; they are warranted to be within a certain percentage of power at a Normal Operating Cell Temperature of 45C.
    In any case, homes change hands about every 7 years on average. So the PV module guys are totally safe; by the time the modules start to die the house will have changed hands maybe 3 times or if the original owners are in residence they will be far too demented by then to even give a stuff.

  56. As it happens, Alfred, I’m going to visit a guy whose father fought in the Pacific in all of the same places that my dad did, and in the same way. It makes one think.

    You know, I was living in Port Moresby when the Japanese came through in the 50’s to take in all of the metal trash left from the War. There is some irony there. To the loser goes the spoils.

    My dad didn’t talk too much about the war. There was the occaisional story. One I remember was dad talking briefly about them hosing what was left of the tail gunner out as that was all that could be done. This, we humans, did to ourselves.

    I’m afraid, Alfred, that I am full of foreboding for what we…humans…are preparing for ourselves in the coming decades. The “war” will be tame by comparison. The tells are falling into place. Current talk of oil prices and energy supplies are more of many in that direction. And the environment? This thread is about the building climatic energy flows. What happened in Japan recently is a small glimpse of the future.

  57. dear Brian
    don’t know what happened to that link, but here it is again, out in the open, no fancy pants:-

    its just a fluffy life-style section color piece (like annabel crabbe used to write) but its based on a data set of “white christmases” maintained by environment canada since 1955. defined as “at least 2 cm of snow on the ground at 7:00 am”, last year saw the largest proportion of population not experiencing “white christmas” since records were started in 1955. it was predicted that “even where snow accumulates, there will be less than average … whitehorse [yukon], for example, has 16 cm of snow this year compared to an average of 28 cm”. the averages referenced would have factored in all the mild & harsh winters since 1955 & still this winter has had snowfall “below average” & its still the first winter in that dataset that hasn’t had a white christmas where most people live. la nina or el nino prevailing.

    the article stimulated an interesting set of responses from readers; less of the climate topic vitriol and more anecdotes & reflections on personal experiences of winter. not “scientific” to be sure, but “social” evidence of a sort. some of the comments:-
    – It’s not just the lack of snow that worries me in northern ontario – it is the lack of precipitation winter and summer. our precipitation levels have dropped so much over the last decade. the great lakes levels, inland lakes, rivers are all way down.

    – we have a good blanket of snow in the yukon [whitehorse?], but temperatures are bizarrely mild for this time of year – nice for us, but I do worry about the polar bears 600 mi further north.

    – thirty-five years ago, when I first moved to ottawa, there was always a bit of snow on the ground by remembrance day.

    – here on the west coast, there has been light snow in the 3 to 5 day forecast for almost the entire month of december. kinda like “free beer tomorrow”.

    and, yeah, that ice wine sounds like an enterprise born of desperation. but with new york city so close, where already they pay a premium for jamaican coffee that bats have eaten & shat, then maybe there a little niche for it, after all. apparently, the concept’s got some traction in germany, too, as you might expect. but its too pricey for me, too.
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  58. Over the break I was able to catch up with current Coalition internal “thinking” on Global Warming. This is the thinking that allows these “great” minds to walk confidently in public.

    There are 2 main threads. The first is that Climate Change is simply natural fluctuation. Everyone “knows” that climate fluctuates, and this occurs on a 40 year cycle, according to the best Liberal/National scientific thinking.

    This “best” science has the aura of Barnaby Joyce about it. Fourty years is a period long enough for all political responsibility to be annulled, and for most “players” to have collected their pensions and be well retired.

    I just reviewed the graphs at CC 57. No 40 year trend even vaguely evident there.

    The second thread is an old one. “Barack Obama is the most dangerous politician in the world today”. Why is that?????

    He secretly aims to achieve Global Domination!!!!….and Julia Gillard is part of the plot. Their stealth weapon to achieve this is Global Climate Change Action.

    There you have it. The core Coalition environmental and political evaluation at the start of this 21st century, according to the very best science that business money can buy.

  59. Brian @ 51: I apologise if I misunderstood the background to the discussion on temperature in Toronto. Since the New Scientist article you link to is behind a paywall, it is quite possible.

    The exchanges on Toronto etc began (@ 32 and 36) in a reference back to your brief discussion of that link. I took it therefore as less to do with a concern about whether your deer friend in Canada had wasted his expenditure on woolly underwear this winter, than as relating winter temperaures in a few similar latitude northern cities to climate change, as it appeared to me from its allusion to Arctic warming that the New Scientist was talking about climate change. That is, that the Toronto discussion was predicated on a confusion of weather with climate.

    I am pleased to learn it was not.

    The 2011 UAH temperature summary is here

    There is discussion of it at a number of what you would describe I suppose as sceptic sites. Surprisingly enough the Skeptical Sciences of this world seem to have been mute. The tale of James Annan’s losing bet on made in 2007 on the probable 2007-11 temperature record (albeit on HadCrut) is amusing though, given his urging that sceptics should take a more odds-driven view along the lines of financial markets. The warmist assessed odds didn’t do him any financial favours.

    I suppose Skeptical Science did have a post crying triumphantly “2011 expected to be second warmest year on record for the UK”, so I shouldn’t accuse it of ignoring 2011 temperatues. Only those of 99.5% of the globe. Nothing to do with habitual cherry-picking to its preferred narrative of course.

  60. Wozza, my ‘friend’ in Toronto is my sister. We don’t usually talk about her underwear!

    As to the rest of it, I dunno, people like talking about the weather, especially their own. And are generally very irrational and I find inaccurate in what they say. I’m not sure that one of Skeptical Science’s bloggers picking up a UK Met Office news release means very much. I agree, it would have been more appropriate to post about the world average, but that may have involved some work.

    BTW here’s BOM 2011 Climate Statement. It was wet, of course, but not where you might expect.

    And cool, 0.14 °C below the 1961 to 1990 average.

  61. Well, that proves it, Brian. If Australia was 0.14 degrees below average last year, global warming has stopped (or wasn’t ever happening, depending on how much more you care to cherry-pick).

    I’m glad that’s settled!

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