Climate clippings 71

1. State of the climate 2012

BOM amd the CSIRO have produced the State of the Climate – 2012 report. BOM has a handy summary summary and link to the brochure. The CSIRO site has some added interviews. I’ve extracted two images. First is the relentless increase in ocean heat content:

Ocean heat content

Second is the rainfall pattern for April to September from 1997 to 2011:

Rainfall April to September, 1997-2011

According to the report we can expect the same only more so in the future.

See also The Conversation.

2. Southeast Australia’s wet, cool summer

The Climate Commission has also produced a report by Will Steffen on The science behind southeast Australia’s wet, cool summer which you can download from here. (Thanks to Roger Jones for the headsup.)

It makes the point that the wet weather in the past few years is consistent with scientists’ understanding of climate change.

Climate change cannot be ruled out as a factor in recent heavy rainfall events. The Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) around northern Australia during the spring and early summer of 2010–2011 were the highest on record. This has very likely contributed to the exceptionally heavy rainfall over much of Australia in the last two years. La Niña events bring high SSTs to the seas around northern Australia, but warming over the past century has also contributed to the recent record high SSTs.

Atmospheric temperatures tend to be cooler during La Niña years, but La Niña years are getting warmer. Both reports have a version of this graph:

Graph showing La Niña and El Niño years

The La Niña are blue and El Niño orange.

3. Climate shifts are step-wise

That’s what Roger Jones has found in relation to SE Australia and thinks it holds true elsewhere also. The notion is that heat captured by GHGs goes mostly into the ocean whence it is re-emitted periodically into the atmosphere, although the identification of the physical processes is, I gather, a work in progress. Step-wise change makes adaptation more difficult.

4. Looking into the deep past

David Spratt at Climate Code Red has an addendum to the CSIRO/BOM report. It’s really a correction. The report said CO2 levels were the higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years, a fact that has been highlighted. I heard one of the authors on the radio say that CO2 hadn’t been above 300 ppm over the last 800,000 years, a much less misleading statement. Spratt quotes new work by Triparti et al:

The last time carbon dioxide levels were apparently as high as they are today — and were sustained at those levels — global temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit [DS: 3 to 6 degrees Celsius] higher than they are today, the sea level was approximately 75 to 120 feet higher than today, there was no permanent sea ice cap in the Arctic and very little ice on Antarctica and Greenland.

Make that 25 to 40 metres.

5. Salt-resistant wheat

Australian scientists have produced a strain of salt-resistant durum wheat. Durum wheat is used to make products like pasta and couscous. They now working on a salt-resistant strain of bread wheat.

Dr Matthew Gilliham of Adelaide University:

“It’s currently estimated that about 69 per cent of the Australian wheat belt is affected by salinity, and currently about 11 per cent of the total agricultural land in Australia is affected by salinity,” he said.

“This figure is predicted to rise to about 34 per cent in the next 38 years due to the affects of climate change.”

6. Efficiency standards

Stephen Lacy at Climate Progress reports on American efficiency standards.

The CO2 savings from existing standards in 2010 were 203 million metric tons, an amount equal to the CO2 emitted by 51 coal-fired power plants. By 2025, the CO2 savings grow to 448 million metric tons, an amount equal to the emissions of 112 average-sized coal-fired power plants.

Are we doing anything here? If we are I haven’t heard.

7. Understanding the India’s monsoon

The Climate Commission document @ 2 above said that we can have greater confidence in future priojections at a global and continental scale rather than at a regional or local. Scientists have had trouble in coming to grips with what may be the future of the Indian monsoon. Now they have had a comprehensive look at the past over the last 10,000 years, finding step-wise drying 4,500 and 1,700 years ago. They also found a stabilisation over the last 100 years, with a lessening of long droughts. So warming may not be bad for the future of the Indian monsoon. Then again…

8. Time to end the clean coal charade

Tristan Edis at Climate Spectator pays out on the clean coal charade, particularly carbon capture and storage (CCS). This is old news to LP readers, but the problem is still there. CCS is an integral part of Treasury modelling of the carbon price and in the IEA future energy scenarios.

31 thoughts on “Climate clippings 71”

  1. The key quote from the Indian monsoon article was:

    “We found that when the Asian continent is least heated by the sun, the northward movement of the rain appears to hesitate between the Equator and Asia, bringing less rain to the north,” said Giosan. “The fact that long droughts have not occurred over the last 100 years or so, as humans started to heat up the planet, but did occur earlier, suggest that we changed the entire monsoon game, and may have inadvertently made it more stable!

    One of the realities of climate change is that there will be parts of the world that will actually be better places to live as a consequence of global warming.

    But this doesn’t mean that climate action should stop.

  2. Like California, Australia has a big enough economy for changes in our standards to influence other parts of the world (Ex: The introduction of lighting efficiency regulations. The sort of things we should be looking for now include:
    1. Things to reduce/eliminate standby power draw. (10% of domestic power!)
    2. Insisting that household items are set up to work with smart power systems. For example, allow the range of air conditioner settings to be controlled externally during peak load periods and allow freezers to be run on an appropriate combination of off peak and on demand power. (Run on offpeak if temp is below the low set point, on demand only if temp is above a higher set point.
    3. Insist on the use of phase change materials to improve efficiency and/or reduce peak loads for things like air conditioners and fridges.
    4. Changing road rules and vehicle standards to aid the introduction of things like narrow track vehicles. (Ex: Define narrow track vehicles and introduce changes to traffic laws to allow two narrow tracks to travel side by side in a single traffic lane.)

  3. It is good to see that we are finally getting passed the “Global Warming, is it or isn’t it?” to the “Global Warming, how fast, what does it mean?” phase.

  4. JohnD @2
    TYou are 100% correct, energy efficiency has ahuge role to play in GG reductions.
    I am taking the liberty of adding a few things to yor list.
    5. Mandat the installation of instant boiler taps instead of electric jugs/kettles they only boil the exact amount of water you need.
    6. Refrigerators must have improved insulation, also freezers
    7. Mandate variable speed motors in refrigerators not the on/off control that is used at present
    8. Mandate ventilation around refrigeration condensers.

    I could go on forever


  5. It’s a post 9-11 world! Change away from the old model is already on the cards… i.e. BOTTLENECKS ARE COMING FAST which means business opportunities abound to exploit a new paradigm!!



  6. Huggybunny @ 7 – have a link to those instant boil taps that you’ve been talking about? The ones I’ve seen all have a small reservoir of hot water – eg they’re not really instant and so consume quite a bit of energy in standby if you don’t use much hot water. Works well in office scenarios but for home use its better to just use a kettle to boil the amount of water you need rather than fully

  7. CHRIS I think you may be right about that, the numbers I have give about 40% energy savings for the best of them, even though some of them have insulated tanks.


  8. The problem with instant biolers, HB, is the current that they pull. You can’t run them on solar panels effectively, unless you have a lot of them with a healthy battery backup system (and yes one can be connected to the grid but if you follow Brian’s link to the IPART issue it is clear that in the not too distant future it will be far better to be independent of the grid). Secondly if they are installed to give instant local hot water at the sink to avoid the water wastage due to the long piping run from the main hot water cylinder but the water still comes via the main hot water tank, then they save no energy at all, only water. It is a far better strategy to have all houses with solar water heating systems, as in China, and achieve the energy savings that way.

  9. Bilb: The problem with electric jugs is that people tend to have more water in the jug than what is actually needed for the cup of coffee – hence the waste. Perhaps we simply need to get used to tipping the required amount of water into an empty jug and emptying all of it into the cup when the boiling is finished.

  10. There are some electric jugs on the market now that can be set to boil a specified number of cups. I can’t remember the brand details, but the ATA reported it in an issue of Renew a couple of years ago.

  11. There are some electric jugs on the market now that can be set to boil a specified number of cups. I can’t remember the brand details, but the ATA reported it in an issue of Renew a couple of years ago.

    Your point is beyond demur, though in my experience, electric jugs are pretty efficient at producing enough hot water for two cups of tea. The last one I used was ready to go in just over a minute. Perhaps that was because I wasn’t adding much more than needed anyway.

  12. The discussion was about in-line water heating, John D.

    Kettle boiling is impractical for most family size applications other than tea and coffee as the volumes required are greater. For our Western life style the dishwashing maching provides the greates efficiency as it heats the water at time of use and only the amount required for the task.

    I have lived for some years with the primary source of hot water being a kettle over a kerosene stove, and it does work for one person. But for a family, not practical. On the boat I eventually installed a 100 litre water heating system.

  13. Well, I think it’s a travesty that electric kettles are not internet enabled. As long ago as 1990, I witnessed first hand at the Interop trade show/conference in San Jose, California, the famed SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) controlled toaster working in a multi-vendor environment. What have we been doing for all these years as atmospheric CO2 rises inexorably?

    I’m off to make a cup of coffee.

  14. BilB @ 15 – actually I think huggybunny was talking about the instant boil systems like you have here:

    Not general hot water systems which don’t heat the water hot enough for tea/coffee anyway.

    The instant boil systems have a small reservoir of hot (and often cold water) and they are more efficient in office like situations than kettles. Because rather than a full kettle being boiled and reboiled every 10-20 mins, only a small amount of hot water is used each time and the systems are well insulated.

    The one they have in one office I worked in is also on a timer so it only operates while people are around. So they try to be energy efficient, but I rather doubt it is worth installing in most residential situations.

  15. Why do I get annoyed at pedantic little tantrums?

    HB @7

    “5. Mandat the installation of instant boiler taps instead of electric jugs/kettles they only boil the exact amount of water you need.”

  16. The top of the range Billi tap at $3400 delivers 20 litres per hour of hot water and draws 2400 watt. And that was my original point. The delivery rate of instant water heaters requires either 4800 watts or more time.

    Everything at the kitchen tap is a compromise one way or the other, so bite the bullet and install a solar water heater, and get full energy efficiency from day one.

  17. BilB @ 20 – perhaps I’m missing your point, but what you use water from an instant boil system is quite different than what you’d use water from your instant hot water system or even solar hot water heater.

    The former is generally only used for very low volume uses such as making a cup of coffee or two at a time.

    If you have a solar hot water system you still need something to boil water for making coffee as most hot water system these days are limited to 55-65C. And lots of kettles out there will easily pull 2kW.

  18. So to conclude, Chris, boiling a 1.5 litre variable content kettle for several minutes versus boiling a 10 litre fixed content ZIP type over sink water heater makes more sense for efficiency and practicality.

    An example of an “instantaneous” water heater, the InSinkErator, turns out to have a 3 litre holding tank which it keeps to temperature and tops up to boil the water on exit. Not so efficient in the manner imagined.

    And then there are the the high energy solutions such as

    which pull 7 to 13 Kw depending on the model. And if the power is out, you have no hot water at all once the small holding tank is flushed with cold.

    The good old kettle is not such a bad boy after all.

    The real energy efficiency is the one on the roof absorbing the sun’s heat. Or the ultimate is the old faithful chip heater, one of my fondest memories.

  19. Just to let you know, I haven’t started on compiling the next CC yet.

    No, it’s not the Qld election. The weather’s fine so I have to work. And in my computer time I’ve been looking at what happened to those flood engineers who managed the Wivenhoe Dam in January last year. The ones who are going to be investigated by the CMC for possible misconduct.

    It’s all a bit complicated and while I have my head into it I want to finish it.

  20. No worries Brian, look forward to your post on the Wivenhoe findings. Meanwhile we should support you by contributing important information and developments.

    With no policy change, continued degradation and erosion of natural environmental capital could be expected, ”with the risk of irreversible changes that could endanger two centuries of rising living standards”. For openers, the cost of inaction on climate change could lead to a permanent loss of more than 14 per cent in average world consumption per person.

    We’re not yet at the point where the sources of official orthodoxy are ready to concede there are limits to economic growth. But this report comes mighty close.

    Ross Gittins, on the new OECD ENVIRONMENTAL OUTLOOK TO 2050: The Consequences of Inaction. Highlights (pdf)

  21. Oh and remember me mentioning painting your roof white as an insulation in CC70. Well apparently this has been confirmed by researchers commissioned by the City of Melbourne. This morning on RN Breakfast, Cathy Oke,Chair of the Future Melbourne Eco City Committee, reported you can keep buildings up to 3 oC cooler and reduce their energy needs simply by painting the roof white.
    “It’s estimated that if every commercial building in the Melbourne CBD got out the paint brush, 1,500 tonnes of carbon emissions could be saved every year.”

    There is some fancy space age paint available but ordinary acrylic does work just as well. However, you have to check for and clean mould regularly, particularly up here in the tropics.

  22. Ootz

    However, you have to check for and clean mould regularly, particularly up here in the tropics.

    Apparently it’s not mould but moss that grows on roofs. Copper sulphate that is found in some algaecides you can get at a swimming pool shop is said to work. 5ml in a 10L bucket, spray it on and when it’s dry, broom the moss off ( as dust)
    I don’t know how environmentally friendly it is but it has to be better than some of the chlorine cocktails iv’e seen used by the gallon.

  23. Jumpy, perhaps off topic, though it highlights some of the complex issues climate change/energy efficiency can throw up.

    Dealing with exactly that issue, Copper Sulfate and its environmental impact vs chlorine vs mechanical (Gerni) when managing a large public amenity. Made my decisions on individual cases based on ‘chemical load’ and ‘down stream’ capacity to absorb. I have seen what a seemingly innocuous copper pipe can do to an aquatic system – respect.

  24. The IPCC’s Special Report on Extremes, released March 28, reads, “There is medium evidence and high agreement that long-term trends in normalized [property] losses have not been attributed to natural or anthropogenic climate change.”

    Translation and interpretation please?

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