Climate clippings 30

Antarctic research team with DC3

East Antarctic ice sheet sits on rivers and lakes

The Science Show reported on a new survey of East Antarctica published in nature.

probably something like the Northern Territory area was actually below 500 metres below sea level, and if you look at the deepest bits, something like the size of Tasmania was more than one kilometre deep.

The implication is that at some stage the sheet will melt faster than previously thought.

The lakes are formed through thermal heat from below.

See also here. Continue reading Climate clippings 30

Climate clippings 29

Planet earth

Take a look at where we are heading

This was linked on a previous thread, but I want to emphasise that 2010 saw the worst ever carbon emissions.

There’s a link in that article to five scenarios of temperature change by Mark Lynas. The scenarios are derived from his book Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet which was favourably reviewed at RealClimate.

A rise of 1°C is unacceptable. For example, at that level the coral reefs of the world are under threat. At 4-5°C, which is where we’re heading if the do nothing brigade had their way, we have nightmare territory. Continue reading Climate clippings 29

Climate clippings 28

Joplin tornado

Link between tornadoes and climate change

Recent bad weather in the US, for example the tornado which mashed Joplin, Missouri, has led to many many stories speculating about the link between the intense tornado season and climate change. Joe Romm at Climate Progress takes a measured view:

1. When discussing extreme weather and climate, tornadoes should not be conflated with the other extreme weather events for which the connection is considerably more straightforward and better documented, including deluges, droughts, and heat waves.

2. Just because the tornado-warming link is more tenuous doesn’t mean that the subject of global warming should be avoided entirely when talking about tornadoes.

Joe Romm’s substantive post Tornadoes, extreme weather, and climate change is well worth a read and has lots of comments and links about extreme weather in general as well as tornadoes. Continue reading Climate clippings 28

Climate crunch time arrives

Three emission reduction trajectories

The Climate Commission has just released its first report (download from here) entitled The Critical Decade: Climate science, risks and responses. The report is clear, simple and succinct with excellent illustrations.

If you want to cut to the chase, the message is encapsulated in the highlighted graph. If we, the world, start to reduce emissions now (impossible) by 3.7% a year, we can get away with an eventual reduction of about 85% by 2050. If we start reducing emissions in 2020 we’ll need to reduce by 9% each year (impossible). If we start in 2015 we can get away with reductions of 5.3% per year (barely possible). But we will have to reach zero net emissions by 2040 and then go negative. Is that possible? Barely, if at all, I suspect. Continue reading Climate crunch time arrives

Climate clippings 27

Solar power could crash Germany’s grid

Harnessing the sun’s energy could save the planet from climate change, an approach that Germany has readily adopted. Unfortunately, this enthusiasm for solar panels could overload the country’s ageing electricity grid.

Installed capacity is such that a huge surge can occur when the sun comes out. What’s needed, they say, is an electricity grid that can equalise inputs from the wind of the north to solar in the south.

(Please note the article dates from October 2010.) Continue reading Climate clippings 27

Own goal from the climate sceptics?

If you read the post at Deltoid superficially, you might get the impression that ex-weatherman and blogger Anthony Watts had scored a massive own goal. The bottom line is that he probably has, but the story is complicated, with some wriggle room. Continue reading Own goal from the climate sceptics?

Climate clippings 26

Renewables need consistent policy

From Climate Spectator:

Andrew Garrad, the founder of Garrad Hassan, the world’s largest renewable energy consultancy, has an interesting way of describing Australia’s stop-start renewable energy policy. It goes something like this, in binary code, where nought represents a step backwards, and one represents an advance: 100101100101011010010. The point he’s making is that, more than anything, renewables need consistent policy. And in Australia, and elsewhere in the world, that has been clearly lacking.

The rest of the article is worth reading. Greg Hunt shows what it would be like to have a climate change minister who is interested in climate change.

The Koreans show how to pick winners:

he suspects the future may be dominated by the Korean companies who have become household names in electrical appliances. The likes of Samsung and Hyundai are investing huge sums into clean-tech. “They are going to do things, very fast and well.”

Hunt picks algae as a winner “echoing predictions that it could emerge as a $20 billion industry.” Continue reading Climate clippings 26

Climate clippings 25

Sea level risk worsens: Need for greater urgency as Arctic ice melting faster

The ice of Greenland and the rest of the Arctic is melting faster than expected and could help raise global sea levels by as much as one and half metres this century, dramatically higher than earlier projections, an authoritative international assessment says.

The findings ’emphasise the need for greater urgency’ in combating global warming, says the report of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), the scientific arm of the eight-nation Arctic Council.

The melting of Arctic glaciers and ice caps, including Greenland’s massive ice sheet, is projected to help raise global sea levels by 90 to 160 centimeters by 2100, AMAP said, although it noted that estimate was highly uncertain.

Now the AMAP assessment finds that Greenland was losing ice in the 2004-2009 period four times faster than in 1995-2000.

The last bit is interesting, the rest is not news, except that the article appeared in the Courier Mail. Probably just a page-filler grabbed off the wires. Turn over a few pages and there was a column by Jennifer Marohasy. Normal service restored. Continue reading Climate clippings 25

Climate clippings 24

I’ve been on holidays for a bit. Here are some links that I saved from a few hours spent on my daughter’s computer last week by checking some of the usual sources. In the next few days I’ll check the feeds and see whether there are more links to share.

E10 debacle puts the brakes on biofuels in Germany

German motorists have shown uncommonly good sense by not buying the biofuel mixture E10.

The real reason, though, was confusion over which car models could use the stuff without harm. Meanwhile a study found that:

up to 69,000 square kilometers (about 27,000 square miles) of forest, pasture and wetlands would have to be cultivated as farmland to satisfy the future demand for biofuel in Europe alone. This is an area twice the size of Belgium. One consequence of such cultivation would be the release of up to 56 million tons of CO2 a year, or the equivalent of the emissions of an additional 12 million to 26 million cars on European roads.

Continue reading Climate clippings 24

Climate clippings 23

These posts include a brief mention of a number of news items relating to climate change. They don’t preclude treating any of these topics at more length in a separate post.

They can also serve as an open thread so that we can keep each other informed on important climate news.

Melting glaciers

A new study has looked at the contribution of glaciers to sea level rise based on observations of the Patagonian icefields between Chile and Argentina.

They found that the glaciers have lost volume on average “10 to 100 times faster” in the last 30 years, faster than at any time in the last 350 years. Continue reading Climate clippings 23

Climate clippings 22

These posts include a brief mention of a number of news items relating to climate change. They don’t preclude treating any of these topics at more length in a separate post.

They can also serve as an open thread so that we can keep each other informed on important climate news.

Gillard’s speech goes global

On 16 March 20011 Julia Gillard gave a speech to the Don Dunstan Foundation.

Climate Progress picked it up, quoted a long slab and highlighted these bits with approbation and the wish that Barack Obama would do as well:

Australians of the future will look back on [opposition leader Tony] Abbott’s campaign with pity and shame. The pity and shame posterity reserves for leaders who miss the wave of history and misjudge the big calls.…

We will cut carbon pollution. We will not leave our nation stranded by history. We will not live at the expense of future generations. We will get this call right and get this job done: For our nation. For our people. For our future.

It’s a mighty fine speech, but why did I have to find out about it from the other side of the world? Continue reading Climate clippings 22

Minchin’s junk science

Articles like this give the impression that climate change doubters and believers talk from two legitimate but different scientific frames of reference.


Roy Spencer is one of the main proponents paid as an academic scientist who claims that the human effect on climate is negligible. Barry Bickmore of Brigham Young University critically analyses Spencer’s position. In a 2008 paper:

Spencer was only able to obtain this result by assuming unrealistic values for various model parameters. If realistic values are used, the effect Spencer described is negligible.

Then in later work Spencer “claims to show with his simple climate model that, not only is climate sensitivity low, but most of the global warming in the 20th century can be explained by a natural cycle called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.”

I took apart Spencer’s climate model, programmed it into my computer, and showed that, once again, he was only able to come to his conclusions because he was willing to use absurd values for some of his model parameters. Furthermore, he used a bizarre statistical technique that he apparently just made up, because it was capable of giving him nearly any answer he wanted.

Continue reading Minchin’s junk science

Climate change, sustainability, plus sundry other stuff