Greenland melt

You may have seen images like this before, demonstrating the progressive summer melting of the Greenland ice sheet:

image_large_570

Then in July 2012 this happened:

670398main_greenland_2012194-570

The image on the left represents melting on 8 July. By 12 July some 97% of the ice sheet surface was melting. The Carbon Brief (a quality blog) has the story. Continue reading Greenland melt

CO2 hits 400 ppm

On May 9 CO2 reached 400 ppm at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) monitoring centre at Muana Loa and at at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California. This is what’s been happening over the last 130 years in broad terms:

co2-temp_570

It seems many news organisations, for example the BBC, and some scientists are stressing that the last time concentrations were so high was 3 to 5 million years ago. In the linked article Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State gives a different view:

Mann said the last time scientists are confident that CO2 was sustained at the current levels was more than 10 million years ago, during the middle of the Miocene Period. Continue reading CO2 hits 400 ppm

Climate clippings 73

In this edition I’ve stuck to scientific articles, and, incidentally have used a couple (items 3 and 4) from stuff I gathered around this time last year when I thought I might be launching a new blog. For reasons we won’t go into it didn’t happen at that time.

1. Arctic ice watch

While we were on sabbatical last year the northern cryosphere had an exciting time. There was a giant storm in the Arctic ocean, Greenland surface melt covered virtually the whole ice sheet and all sorts of records were broken in the Arctic summer sea ice melt. I’m hoping to do an update to catch us up, but follow this link to see a dramatic animation of Arctic sea ice volume loss since 1979. I’ve posted this image to show how far we’ve come:

volume-comparison-1979-2012-v4

You can monitor Arctic sea ice extent on the NSIDC site. This image is a screenshot from the interactive graph on that page showing the way summer sea ice is sagging:

Sea ice extent_cropped_580 Continue reading Climate clippings 73

NSW coal generation under pressure

Well it is if the country stays on its present policy trajectory.

Sophie Vorrath at RenewEconomy comments on the latest pitt&sherry electricity emissions update (April data). Back in 1998 coal used to supply 90% of NSW’s National Electricity Market (NEM) electricity. Now this has fallen to less than 75%. One factor is that demand is falling more in NSW than in other states, as shown in these graphs:

Figure 1: Channges in electricity demand by state
Changes_electricity by state_cropped_580 Continue reading NSW coal generation under pressure

Climate clippings 72

Climate clippings_275

The last Climate clippings was back in March 2012. I’ve decided to start it up again, so we’ll see how we go. What I try to do is to include up to eight entries with an average of no more than 125 words. Readers who want to keep up in a general way should be able to gain a basic understanding by reading the entries without following the links.

This time the entries blew out to an average of about 150 words.

Climate clippings also serves as an open thread to share interesting links.

1. Climate Consensus – the 97%

Announced at Skeptical Science as a new Guardian blog, John Abrahams and Dana Nuccitelli will be writing at Climate Consensus – the 97%. It does have comments, but to me is not formatted like a blog. Maybe a newspaper blog.

It really started on 24 April. So far it’s not high volume, but looks interesting. Nuccitelli blogs at Skeptical Science as dana1981. The new blog is targeted at a more general audience. It appears their output is going to include correcting the errors and myths of the climate change contrarians, which is welcome. Continue reading Climate clippings 72

Global heating update

Little ice age_130421152401-270

Last month we had a look at the Bigger, better, new hockey stick from a study by Marcott et al. Since then Skeptical Science has a post on the phoney skeptical/denialist critique of the study. We now have a new study, Continental-scale temperature variability during the past two millennia, by 78 scientists from 24 nations analyzing climate data from tree rings, pollen, cave formations, ice cores, lake and ocean sediments, and historical records from around the world published in the journal Nature Geoscience. The study found:

There were no globally synchronous multi-decadal warm or cold intervals that define a worldwide Medieval Warm Period or Little Ice Age, but all reconstructions show generally cold conditions between ad 1580 and 1880, punctuated in some regions by warm decades during the eighteenth century.

The real interest was in the regional variations on a continental scale. Temperatures were identified for the Arctic, North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Australasia and the Antarctic. There was insufficient data for Africa. Continue reading Global heating update

European ETS

EU_0,,16746928_403,00_300

Last week when the European Parliament voted down a proposal to prop up the EU Emissions Trading System’s languishing carbon price by postponing the sale of 900 million emission allowances until the back-end of this decade the price fell to below AU$4. There are obvious concerns about the legislated linking of the Australian carbon price to the EU scheme in mid-2015. Treasury had forecast an EU price of at least $29 in 2015.

Radio National’s PM program had a roundup of political commentary. Julia Gillard on the 7.30 Report was very clear. The legislation was there, it was hard enough to get through the parliament in the first place and we’d have to work with it.

Big business, quick off the mark, was suggesting that link with the EU should occur earlier, so they could buy permits while they were cheap.

Ross Garnaut said, don’t panic, the ETS is only one measure and targets may tighten by impacting on the price: Continue reading European ETS

Tipping point for climate action?

Recently the Climate Commission issued a report in its The Critical Decade series on Extreme Weather looking at the issues of

  • Heat
  • Bushfires
  • Rainfall
  • Drought, and
  • Sea level rise.

At Radio National’s The World Today Professor Lesley Hughes, a Macquarie University ecologist, talked to Eleanor Hall.

The report looks at extreme weather experience in recent times, such as that documented in the Commission’s report The Angry Summer, puts it in a broader context using the latest science and then uses that as a window to project into the future. The message is plain. The climate has shifted, expect more and more extreme weather and we need to act now.

we really need to view all these events not in isolation but as part of a trend for the future. We need to prepare for them and we need to do our absolute best to cut greenhouse gases to stabilise the climate to prevent them getting to the point at which we cannot adapt.(Emphasis added)

Continue reading Tipping point for climate action?

Hansen retires to embrace activism

Activist_cropped

We are going to see more images like the one on the left, it seems. I picked up the news from a Google feed to this article at mother nature network. Climate scientist James Hansen has retired at the age of 72 from NASA GISS in order to concentrate on activism. The scoop was claimed by the New York Times. Climate Progress quickly picked up on the story.

Hansen first made a splash with an article with six other scientists in 1981. After his testimony to Congress in 1988 he retired from public advocacy and communication for about 15 years, concentrating on the science and his administrative role at NASA GISS, to become publicly active again from about 2003.

NASA’s press release on his retirement emphasises that his research was closely aligned with:

the development of increasingly sophisticated satellite platform measurements, such as the terrestrial radiation budget, ozone and weather-related data, and the need for increasingly sophisticated atmospheric models to assess and evaluate the information content and utility of these measurements.

Also the use of models to make climate change predictions for the future. Continue reading Hansen retires to embrace activism

New bigger, better hockey stick

Holocene_Temperature_Variations_Rev_300 One of the most contested graphs in climate science has been the hockey stick. Inconveniently for gain-sayers later science has confirmed the shape of the thing as sites such as Skeptical Science and New Scientist confirm.

The hockey stick was confined to temperatures for the last 1000 years. Graphs of the whole Holocene era were rare, although they did exist, as the featured image above. Now a study by Marcott et al has used 73 proxies to study average global temperature for the whole Holocene period of the last 11,300 years. You can read about it at New Scientist, Mother Jones, Climate Progress here and here. Continue reading New bigger, better hockey stick

Lists

Lists are difficult to format with the Word Press software. This post sets out some of the options available. Authors can click on “edit” to see how the HTML tags produce the examples below.

Here is an ordered list:

  1. News
  2. Entertainment
  3. Sports
  4. Music
  5. Graphic Design
  6. Comedy

Here’s an ordered list indented:

    1. News
    2. Entertainment
    3. Sports
    4. Music
    5. Graphic Design
    6. Comedy

Here is an unordered list:

  • News
  • Entertainment
  • Sports
  • Music
  • Graphic Design
  • Comedy

Again, double-spaced:

  • News
  • Entertainment
  • Sports
  • Music
  • Graphic Design
  • Comedy

Double-spaced, ordered, indented:

    1. News

    2. Entertainment

    3. Sports

    4. Music

    5. Graphic Design

    6. Comedy

Another variation:

    1. News

    • Television
    • Radio

    2. Entertainment

    • Movies
    • Games

    3. Sports

    4. Music

    5. Graphic Design

    6. Comedy

National greenhouse emissions accounts

Tristan Edis at Climate Spectator makes a valid point that insufficient attention has been given to the increase in mining emissions in our national inventory.

The two graphs displayed represent change in emissions. To provide context we really need to know the total quantum of emissions for each category. So I looked for the source of his graphs.

Turns out there is no one source. You have to go to this page. There is also a search facility here.

Edis has chosen his graphs well to make the points he makes, but some of the impressions may be misleading. Mining is the fastest growing sector but agriculture, residential and manufacturing are all still larger sectors. And residential in his graphs is only about half electricity consumption. The other half is mostly transport, but also includes emissions generated at residences, presumably mainly from gas. There are many messages you can dig out of the mine of information provided online. I’ll try to give a brief overview here.

This table, from the National Inventory by Economic Sector 2009/10 gives a snapshot of Australia’s direct emissions, that is from the point they are generated:

Direct emissions

Land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) activities are included.

The figure for electricity needs to be largely distributed across the other sectors. For example, the residential figure cited here would comprise only transport plus other emissions generated at homes.

Edis’s first graph is Figure 6 in the Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory: December 2011. I’ll skip it and go to his second graph, which is Figure 7 of National Inventory by Economic Sector 2009/10:

Percentage change in direct and indirect emissions

The MtCO2e on the y-axis should have been omitted. Use of grid electricity is included in each sector. Agriculture is left out. It really should have been accompanied by Figure 6:

The graph that best captures everything happening now (at least in 2002-2010) is Figure 8 from the same document (p20). The graph is too big to reproduce here, so I’ve made this table:

Some thoughts.

Given the size of the electricity sector as a source and its potential in reducing emissions in the transport sector, clearly decarbonising electricity generation would go almost half way towards achieving zero emissions. Tackling electricity generation and transport represent the low-hanging fruit.

We have to ask whether an emissions trading system (ETS) by itself will achieve this in a time frame compatible with avoiding dangerous climate change. Recently I heard on Radio National that the fall in the demand for electricity is effectively locking in coal as a source of baseload power. If this article is correct we are spending $100 billion on a grid which will not be capable of handling diversified power generation.

This article is one of many detailing the falling electricity demand and some of the implications.

From the National Inventory by Economic Sector document, Figure 3 gives the direct emissions for each state:

Queensland would be the champion in per capita terms.

The Queensland LNP Government has decided to axe the policy and programs section of the Office of Climate Change. ‘Can-do’ can do whatever he wants!

Climate change, sustainability, plus sundry other stuff