Pine Island Glacier spawns a giant iceberg

As David Spratt posted at Climate Code Red a giant crack has opened across the full width of the Pine Island Glacier (PIG) ice shelf, spawning a new iceberg about 720 square kilometres in area, roughly eight times the size of Manhattan Island in New York. This is about the best photo I can find:

Pine Island Glacier_dn23847-1_450

We’ll get some orientation first and then look at the implications. This image locates the PIG on the continent of Antarctica:

AntarcMapPelto-300x255

This image from the LiveScience photo gallery outlines the PIG basin:

Pine Island Gl;acier_pi-3-PIG_map_Bodentopograpfie_beschriftet_w

This basin together with the Thwaites Basin just to the south drains 40% of West Antarctica. These two glaciers alone could lead to sea level rise of half a metre by 2100 according to material cited by Spratt. Continue reading Pine Island Glacier spawns a giant iceberg

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?????????????????????????These posts are intended to share information and ideas about climate change and hence act as an open thread. Again I do not want to spend time in comments rehashing whether human activity causes climate change.

This edition contains items, exclusively, I think, in the broad mitigation category.

1. Nationwide EV fast charging networks

Estonia with around 1.3 million people achieved the first Nationwide EV fast charging network. Now the Netherlands with about 16.8 million souls has established a contract to build the world’s largest. No citizen will be more than 50 km away from a charging station.

That’s impressive, but given the range of EVs still fairly thin on the ground. Will the charges include the cost of the capital required to roll out the plan? Also if they are going to be “user friendly”, will they sell you coffee while you wait the 15-30 minutes it takes to charge the batteries? Continue reading Climate clippings 81

Climate change begins to bite

Irukandji_A000043bgt Recently my wife and I saw an item on the TV about the Irukandji jellyfish, which was said to be moving south as waters warm. I thought it was the 7.30 Report, but can’t find it. Googling reveals that the same tale was being told in 2010.

Here’s the distribution map from Australian Venom Research Unit:

irukandji_map

You won’t have much chance of seeing these things coming. This photo from the Courier Mail gives some idea of the size, but the bell can be up to 2cm and the tentacles up to a metre:

irukandji-jellyfish_CM_450

This article tells us the Irukandji is thought to be the most venomous creature on earth, 100 times more potent than a cobra and 1000 times more potent than a tarantula. Not as quick to kill you, though, as the larger box jellyfish which has a similar distribution. So far:

Australia has only had two confirmed deaths from irukandji and though the real figure could be higher, there have been 71 cases of death from box jellyfish sting.

Continue reading Climate change begins to bite

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Climate clippings_175In these posts the aim is to include eight segments averaging 125 words long with sufficient detail so that casual readers can get the sense of the featured article without following the links, which are there for those interested in more detail. Lately I have been alternating week by week collections of science/observations/predictions and practical matters associated with adaptation and mitigation.

During the last week of political distractions I have had about half my usual time at the computer. Moreover some segments just won’t fit within the 125 word constraint. Next cab off the rank, I hope, will be President Obama’s climate initiative, which demands extended treatment.

So for the next little while I’ll attempt to post whatever I have to hand every Tuesday until things settle down a bit.

As usual these posts are intended to share information and ideas about climate change and hence act as an open thread. And again I do not want to spend time in comments rehashing whether human activity causes climate change.

1. Climate change measuring instruments are on life support

That’s the story from John Abraham at Climate Consensus – the 97%. He is warning that many measuring systems, especially the satellite platforms, are headed for declines in coverage, which will lead to an information deficit. His worry is that straightened budgets will not allow replacement and hence continuity of information may be broken.

In a specific example, the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) array, which consists of 55 oceanic moorings is involved in the detection, understanding and prediction of El Niño and La Niña, is only operating at 50%. Continue reading Climate clippings 80

What should Kevin Rudd do about climate change policy before the election?

No-one should doubt the political potency of the climate change issue. Malcolm Turnbull’s demise came as a direct result of the bi-partisan agreement on an ETS negotiated between Ian Macfarlane and Penny Wong in 2009. In a three-way contest Joe Hockey was expected to win in a landslide, but he was eliminated in the first round of voting.

So what went wrong for Joe?

Yesterday, Mr Hockey was demanding a free vote to decide Coalition policy on climate change early next year, if he were to agree to take on the leadership.

That angered right-wing Liberal powerbrokers and prompted Mr Abbott to stay in the race for the top job.

It’s worth noting, as I did in the post Political thuggery and climate change that it was Abbott and Nick Minchin who told Turnbull he could only keep his job if he changed his stance on the CPRS. Also that Andrew Robb’s actions were described by Hockey as “the worst act of political treachery I have seen in twenty years of politics” and by Turnbull as “an act of almost inconceivable treachery and dishonesty”.

Rudd’s dumping of the CPRS in April 2010 was followed by a sharp fall in Rudd’s approval rating and party voting intentions. As I pointed out in Rudd, Gillard, the CPRS and public opinion the notion that Rudd was talked out of doing something about climate change by Gillard and Swan does not hold up. Rudd was dithering and unapproachable on the issue. When he called a meeting to discuss the issue his view was to leave an ETS until broad international agreement was achieved. Gillard wanted to wait for a return of bipartisanship with the LNP. Rudd decided to do it his way.

Climate change was nominated by Gillard as one of three policy areas where the Government had lost its way. Continue reading What should Kevin Rudd do about climate change policy before the election?

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Climate clippings_175These posts are intended to share information and ideas about climate change and hence act as an open thread. This post has emphasised science, observations and impacts. Comments, about science, observations impacts, and future predictions are welcome. I do not, however, want a rehash of whether human activity causes climate change.

1. SAM and ENSO divorce

Roger Jones at Understanding Climate Risk has a post on global warming breaking the link between SAM and ENSO, with consequences for our weather.

To help, GMT in the graph means ‘global mean temperature’.

wang-cai-fig-3_500

With the global warming signal taken out (top panel), the relationship between ENSO and SAM is strong but with it in, they depart in the late 1960s (lower panel).

There’s also an article in The Age.

From Jones:

So what does this mean for Australia’s climate? It means that an overwhelmingly positive SAM is keeping the westerlies south and contributing to our drier autumn winters and delivering weather typical of the Riverina to southern Victoria according to Cai. Recovery of the ozone layer and reduction in greenhouse gas emission would stabilise this process, rather than continuing to send it south.

In summer it also allows the easterly trades greater access, bringing in more moisture from the tropics and enhancing La Niña summer rainfall. Continue reading Climate clippings 79

Climate clippings 78

????????????????????????? These posts are intended to share information and ideas about climate change and hence act as an open thread. This post has emphasised adaptation and mitigation, essentially what we need to do to achieve a safe climate.

Comments, about science, observations, impacts, and future predictions are welcome. I do not, however, want a rehash of whether human activity causes climate change.

1. Mining company donations to political parties

Bernard Keane Looked at the astonishing trend in mining company donations to political parties:

Mining-Donations-mine

Sandi Keane adds some value in her two part series on the cartelisation of the major parties. Bernard wrote:

The sheer scale of mining company generosity illustrates why Tony Abbott remains committed to repealing the carbon pricing package and the mining tax.

Sandi added:

He might also have added that if Abbott wins office on September 14, we will no longer have a democracy but an oligarchy – a government run by powerful mining and media magnates looking for a return on their investment – with George Pell as spiritual adviser. As Keane tweeted recently:

“Australians are a bunch of sheep about to hand themselves over to a pack of wolves”.

Continue reading Climate clippings 78

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1. Antarctic ice melt studies

A recent study by Abram et al showed that the ice on the Antarctic peninsula was melting about 10 times faster than it was 600 years ago, concluding that further melting was particularly sensitive to temperature increases. The headline and the text of this story perhaps gave the impression that the whole continent was ready to go.

A more sober assessment was found at The Carbon Brief where the study was linked with another study by Steig et al that finds recent changes in the West Antarctica ice sheet “cannot be distinguished from decadal variability that originates in the tropics.”

Nevertheless Antarctica overall is losing mass (see also here). Antarctica contributed strongly to sea level rise during the Eemian and the Andrill study showed that “the West Antarctic ice sheet has collapsed and regrown over 60 times in the past few million years”. Any complacency would be misplaced.

2. New review of ice sheet studies

The Carbon Brief has also posted on a new major review of the latest research on ice sheets. The last IPCC report (AR4) relied on about 10 years worth of reliable sea level data, from 1993 and 2003. Greenland and Antarctica together were found to be raising sea levels by about 0.42 mm per year. That has now doubled to about 0.82mm per year.

So while we are still dealing with short time periods, a clear acceleration is in evidence.

3. Skeptical bloopers

The Carbon Brief reckons that once about every six months David Rose runs an article saying global warming has stopped. Here’s their post of October 2012. Then they lined up six top rebuttals of the week, and a reader contributed a seventh by Tamino.

It’s a tired canard and I didn’t bother reading them all. It did introduce me to the Met Office News Blog which has, for example, a very clear post on tornadoes.

Elsewhere in case you missed it Andrew Glikson debunks the notion that CFCs are responsible for global warming.

4. Garnaut recommends 17% target

Dr Jenny Riesz of the University of NSW reports on Garnaut’s recommendation to the Climate Change Authority which is currently deliberating on the Caps and Targets Review. He favours a 17% target by 2020 to put us in line with the US, Canada and other major economies.

At the Cancun United Nations negotiations in 2010, President Obama committed the USA to an emissions reduction target of -17% by 2020 (below 2005 levels). This has been somewhat ignored in Australia’s carbon targets debate, because policy to implement a national carbon pricing scheme to achieve this target was filibustered by the US Senate.

However, the USA remains committed to this target, both in spirit, and in writing with the UNFCCC.

Canada has promised to match the USA.

He suggests that the EU has found it much easier to meet their targets than originally anticipated, which is a typical experience. This, he says, is in part why their carbon price has collapsed.

Garnaut points out that:

the biggest change of all is coming from China, in terms of quantity of emissions reduction from business as usual. They have set truly ambitious targets, and are meeting them through a wide range of activities, including substantial structural change in the Chinese economy. These actions are driven by a wide range of objectives, including environmental drivers, desire for expansion of the role of services in the economy, and desire for more equitable income distribution.

5. Carbon trading schemes

In the last CC thread Jumpy linked to a Parliamentary Library paper Countries trading greenhouse gas emissions.

Over the last three years, the global carbon market has more than doubled in volume but almost halved in value. In that time a further eight countries, states or cities have adopted a carbon market as their primary means for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Yet the price for one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent has dropped by as much as 100 per cent in some markets.

That last sentence looks like an oops! A 100% drop gives you nothing!

The paper is the most recent of 25 on climate change in the past few years. In fact their blog Flagpost looks a valuable resource.

6. Floods in Central Europe

Dramatic floods have spread over central Europe.

The New Scientist reports caution about a link with climate change:

While it is premature to pin the heavy rainfall on climate change, it could be partly to blame, says Stéphane Isoard of the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen, Denmark. But he says bad land management is just as important.

Nevertheless wetter weather is predicted by climate change, making more floods inevitable.

Deutsche Welle goes into more detail, saying that while individual events can’t necessarily be linked to climate change, they’ve had once in a century floods now in the 1990s, in 2002 and now in 2013. We’ll have to expect more and prepare accordingly.

They make reference to Stefan Rahmstorf’s blog (which is auf Deutsch), but this paper is in English. On a quick look I think he’s saying they have found a mechanism linking floods, droughts and heat waves to climate change and if they are right expect more. And, yes they need money for research of the kind expended on the Higgs boson.

7. Interest grows in the Arctic

Now that the Arctic is increasingly becoming trafficable during the summer many countries are becoming interested. The politics of who sits where at the Arctic Council is complex, but China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, India and Italy have now been admitted as permanent observers.

According to the New Scientist China is the one to watch. They’re interested in the Arctic as a shipping route, but also in fish and oil.

“It’s fair to say China will drive development of Arctic resources,” says Malte Humpert of the Arctic Institute in Washington DC.

The Arctic is fragile so we hope they take care.

8. US and China agree to cooperate on phasing out HFCs

From the White House brief:

For the first time, the United States and China will work together and with other countries to use the expertise and institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down the consumption and production of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), among other forms of multilateral cooperation. A global phase down of HFCs could potentially reduce some 90 gigatons of CO2 equivalent by 2050, equal to roughly two years worth of current global greenhouse gas emissions.

William S. Becker explains that China had always wanted to consider the issue in the context of the current round of climate talks, which would delay action, whereas the Montreal Protocol already exists. HFCs were introduced as an alternative to chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which were destroying the ozone layer. Unfortunately HFCs have a greenhouse effect like CO2.

Climate Progress has more detail and the AFP places this topic in context of the whole meeting agenda.

To provide further context HFCs amount to about 2% of GHG emissions, as shown on this wondrous flowchart.

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?????????????????????????This week I’ve concentrated on the practical side of Climate change – mitigation and adaptation and the relevant policies.

1. China to cap emissions

According to Giles Parkinson news reports from China indicate that the powerful National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has proposed a cap on emissions from 2016, from RenewEconomy, picked up at Clean Technica.

What’s more it looks as though China will cease to be an importer of coal within a few years (please note Gina, Clive et al).

Please note also, Tony Abbott and Greg Hunt. The coalition will be phasing out the carbon price just as China is phasing it in. The LNP reckoned a price on carbon was unnecessary because the rest of the world was not going there, remember?

[Update: indigo @ 8 advises that this story is based on a passing comment from a delegate of the NDRC and that no proposal has yet gone forward.]

2. Carbon markets have to take Abbott seriously!

Two weeks ago Giles Parkinson attended a day hosted by the Carbon Market Institute looking at the future of carbon markets in Australia. It seems that the audience of bankers and such had never taken the Direct Action thing seriously, they thought was just a bit of politicking. Now they are having to face the fact that Greg Hunt, former champion debater, will almost certainly be tasked to implement whatever it turns out to be.

Antony Green’s session was the best attended. The only serious question to be resolved on September 15 is whether the LNP can get the numbers in the Senate. The final numbers, Green explained, can be a lottery, with the balance of power possibly finally held by fringe candidates no-one has heard of. Still markets have to deal with the possibilities and this is how they sit:

The forward curve of the carbon market – such as it is – is pricing odds of 60 per cent that the carbon price will no longer exist by July next year, analysts say. The market odds for it to be gone by 2016 are 80 per cent.

The forward curve for contracts in the National Electricity Market is pricing the odds around the same level. Even Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which said earlier this year that there was just a 30 per cent chance of repeal, is now reviewing that assessment and is likely to lift the odds to above 50 per cent.

And yes, there is an issue of compensation, which doesn’t figure so far in LNP budgeting.

3. No more money for adaptation research

I was intrigued to find a blogger from Knoxville, Tennessee listing five policy briefs released by Australia’s National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF), with seven more to come by June 30 this year. On closer investigation, I found this speech by Yvette D’Ath officially launching their research portfolio, a portfolio of more than 140 peer-reviewed research projects across 33 universities around Australia. D’Ath praised the work of the scientists and appealed to them for help in countering climate denialism.

Ironic really as the NCCARF is to be wound up by the end of June as there was no more money coming from the Government. More than 100 researchers will be affected nationally.

Instead NCCARF2 will be funded at $3 million per annum for two years as a dissemination project.

The same Knoxville blogger notes the release of the EU Strategy on Climate Change Adaptation which was produced by the Directorate-General for Climate Action, which is a program, not a project, of the European Commission. Their 2013 program of work is worth €20.75 million and the employ 160 people internally and externally.

4. Quick charging buses come to Geneva

European technology giant ABB has developed a new technology that will help power the world’s first high-capacity flash charging electric bus system, where buses will receive top up charges in 15 seconds at selected bus stops. A pilot project termed TOSA (Trolleybus Optimisation Système Alimentation) is planned in conjunction with Geneva’s public transport company.

An arm connects with an electricity outlet in the roof of the bus shelter. At the end of the run three to four minutes gives a complete charge. It’s like a trolley bus without overhead wires.

I’m wondering how electric vehicles go with heart pacemakers. I’ve just learned that you can’t use electric hand tools with a pacemaker.

This link has a video showing roughly how the bus shelter connection is made.

5. ‘Black Carbon’ flows from soil to oceans

It was thought that ‘black carbon’ created by the burning of organic matter such as grass or forests stayed in the soil for millions of years.

By examining carbon in rivers it is now thought that up to 40% of such black carbon dissolves and flows into the oceans.

6. Soil carbon farming

I gather that soil carbon farming is a different issue, but seems similarly fraught. Di Martin investigated the soil carbon conundrum.

The shorter story is that some exceptional farmers have demonstrated that soil carbon can be increased dramatically. One farmer did this by ‘pasture cropping’. Native grasses were encouraged and the crop was sown directly into the pasture, rather than plowing, harrowing etc.

Another used ‘cell grazing’, which involves high intensity and high rotation grazing, with long rest periods for pasture.

There are problems in measurement, which may be resolvable with new technology. What is not resolvable, however, is the 100-year guarantee required by international protocols if the activity is deemed to benefit the planet.

Bernard Keane, following Lenore Taylor, was rather scathing about Direct Action soil magic.

7. Renewable energy in the wars

The fossil fuel incumbents are rolling out a campaign to damage the solar industry. One nasty trick being considered in Queensland is the following:

Gross metering – a proposal made in Queensland which would force households to sell all the output from their rooftop systems to the grid operators, and buy it back at a higher price

Campbell Newman keeps saying that feed-in tariffs PV solar are “just ridiculous”.

The campaign seems to be extending to the whole Coalition policy on renewables, if there is one.

There is increasing concern in the [renewables] industry that the Opposition will pave way for the Renewable Energy Target to be diluted, under pressure from state governments, utilities and generators worried about sliding profits from their coal and gas generators, and noisy anti-renewable lobbies promoted by the likes of [Alan] Jones.

Please note the note at the end of the piece:

it seems the biggest problem the [coal] industry faces is a lack of demand. We’ve noted this before, but this week, this was reinforced by reports from China that imported coal is sitting unwanted and clogging up the country’s biggest ports.

Deutsche Bank energy analysts said this was due to “weak coal demand all over China” which had been apparent since late last year. Indeed, half the coal companies in one region of Mongolia had ceased production of thermal coal because of falling prices, and most small coal mines in Shanxi Province had also closed, Deutsche Bank reported.

8. Solar panel art

Now for something lighter: solar panel art.

SolarForestBrianBorelloPortlandOregon

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1. The scientific consensus remains solid

Suzanne Goldenberg in The Guardian has the story. A study led by John Cook of Skeptical Science fame considered the work of some 29,000 scientists published in 11,994 academic papers between 1991 and 2011.

Of the 4,000-plus papers that took a position on the causes of climate change only 0.7% or 83 of those thousands of academic articles, disputed the scientific consensus that climate change is the result of human activity, with the view of the remaining 2.2% unclear.

The survey found that the consensus has grown slowly over time, and reached about 98% in 2011.

The study authors tell their story at Skeptical Science and the Guardian’s new blog.

Of the papers which specifically examine the contributors to global warming, they virtually all conclude that humans are the dominant cause over the past 50 to 100 years.

Continue reading Climate clippings 75

Oklahoma tornado and climate change

Tornado damage_cropped_300

The Courier Mail had quite a good piece. If you want pics the BBC has a gallery or enter Oklahoma tornado at Google images. There are some videos collected here. The Courier Mail has a large photo gallery.

Climate Progress revisits tornadoes, extreme weather and climate change. The bottom line is that the jury is out.

In the US tornado alley warm moist air flows north from the Gulf of Mexico in the lower atmosphere and becomes unstable. Dry, cold air comes from the west over the Rockies in the upper atmosphere, with a shear effect to create the top of the column. The warm air becomes unstable and lifts. The shear effect of the upper wind spins the rising column. More air is sucked in by the spinning, rising column. That’s simplistic but those are the basic elements as I understand them.

With climate change the lower atmosphere warm air flow and instability are likely to be enhanced, but there could actually be less wind shear. We don’t know what the result of those factors will be over time, but the suggestion is that if anything there have been fewer severe tornadoes over recent decades. Continue reading Oklahoma tornado and climate change

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The weekend was a bit ordinary for me, but as supercoach Wayne Bennett says, if you can’t say anything nice say nothing. That’s how he addressed his troops after the thrashing they got in the previous week. This week they creamed the opposition!

This CC concentrates on climate mitigation, the practical stuff, rather than science, observations and future predictions. What I’m stepping around at the moment is politics, policy, opinion etc.

1. Renewables in surprising places

This image at Clean Technica indicates the potential of renewable energy. Please note that the amounts for coal etc are total reserves, whereas the renewables are annual.

renewable-energy-reserves

I’m not sure the natural gas is accurate as there is a lot of unconventional gas around. Continue reading Climate clippings 74

Climate change, sustainability, plus sundry other stuff