James Hansen worries that “we may be approaching a point of no return, a situation in which our children inherit a climate system undergoing changes that are out of their control, changes that will cause them irreparable harm”. He’s looked at the models, at current observations, and at what happened during the Eemian interglacial 118,000 years ago, and he doesn’t like what he sees.
During the Eemian, when global average temperatures were about 1°C more than now, sea level was about 3-4 metres higher than now for a considerable time. Then about 118,000 years ago, towards the end of the interglacial, it peaked at 6-9 meters, including a rise of 2-3 metres within several decades. A similar sea level rise of several metres now would see the inundation of many of the world’s major cities.
Back in 2011, we wrote about a fascinating new way to heat-treat regular, cheap steel to endow it with an almost miraculous blend of characteristics. Radically cheaper, quicker and less energy-intensive to produce, Flash Bainite is stronger than titanium by weight, and ductile enough to be pressed into shape while cold without thinning or cracking. It’s now being tested by three of the world’s five largest car manufacturers, Continue reading Climate clippings 160→
Glaciers observed in a recent study are losing between half a meter and one meter of ice thickness every year – two to three times more than the corresponding average of the 20th century. Continue reading Climate clippings 152→
It’s happening, he says, through the action of consumers and industry.
“This is a consumer revolution, as much as it is an energy transformation empowering Australian households, communities and businesses,” Shorten said. (It is) putting control back in the hands of the user, shifting the balance away from big power companies.”
PERC technology developed by UNSW is likely to become standard in more than half of all solar cell production across the globe by 2020, ushering in new dramatic falls in the cost of solar technology. Continue reading Climate clippings 147→
that a hectare of lawn in Nashville, Tennessee, produced greenhouse gases equivalent to 697 to 2,443kg of carbon dioxide a year. The higher figure is equivalent to a flight more than halfway around the world.
Most of the energy from global warming goes into the ocean as this graphic from Skeptical Science illustrates:
The linked paper stresses the role of the Atlantic in heat uptake. The following graph shows the heat uptake for the four main oceans. The black line is the sea surface temperature, the red line shows the heat below 1500 metres.
All this is considered in relation to the socalled warming ‘hiatus’. The suggestion is that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation is the critical influence and it changes phase every 20 to 35 years. If so the ‘hiatus’ could last another decade or so.
Other scientists see the hiatus as multi-causal. It also depends which temperature series you are looking at. The HadCRUT temperatures always look flatter in recent years, as in this article. The Gistemp series from NASA has 1998 as about the third highest and shows a continuing upward trend, albeit slowed..
2. ‘Unprecedented’ ice loss in Greenland and Antarctica
The Chinese market, when fully functional, would dwarf the European emissions trading system, which is now the world’s biggest.
It would be the main carbon trading hub in Asia and the Pacific, where Kazakhstan and New Zealand already operate similar markets. South Korea will start a national market on Jan. 1, 2015, while Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam are drawing up plans for markets of their own.
Looks like quite a trend. Time perhaps for Australia to join in!
Small scale solar power is quite popular in Africa and supported by environmentalists. A few panels are able to run a few lights, a radio, charge the mobile phone but stop short of boiling a kettle. Critics see this as condemning the poor to a constrained future. Only 20% of Kenyans are connected to the grid.
Coal fired power is obviously not the answer. Dams take years to build, are typically over budget, inundate fertile lands or forest areas and interrupt natural stream flow.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo the mega project of the Inga 3 dam is due to start construction on the Congo River. If fully developed it will produce twice as much electricity as the world’s largest, the three Gorges in China. But will it be economically justified and what impacts will it have on the environment?
Carbon emissions from the country’s main electricity grid have risen since the end of the carbon tax by the largest amount in nearly eight years.
Data from the National Electricity Market, which covers about 80 per cent of Australia’s population, shows that emissions from the sector rose by about 1 million tonnes, or 0.8 per cent, at an annualised rate last month compared with June.
That is the biggest two-month increase since the end of 2006, and came as a result of an increase in overall demand and a rise in the share of coal-fired power in the market, according to Pitt & Sherry’s monthly Cedex emissions index.
From what I can make of it, gas is increasingly going to export, there is some scaling back of hydro, presumably because of the weather. and large scale solar was killed off ages ago. The slack is being taken up by old coal, including brown coal.
Abbott’s strategy of saving the coal fired power industry seems to be working.
Building new more efficient coal would be his ultimate aim. This would involve investors and lenders having confidence in the future of coal. Surely they can’t be that stupid!
Reminder: Use this thread as an open thread on climate change.
THE cracks are beginning to show. Greenland’s ice sheets slid into the sea 400,000 years ago, when Earth was only a little warmer than it is today. That could mean we are set for a repeat performance.
If Greenland goes, West Antarctica also goes, giving 13 metres of sea level rise from those sources. If that happens there will also be a complete loss of other glaciers and ice caps, thermal expansion and some partial melting from East Antarctica. A mess!
The question is how soon and what can we do? The answer is we need more research and we need to think more in terms of centuries.
We should be thinking about the next 500-1000 years, how ice sheet decay can be minimised, stabilised and headed in the other direction. Our plans for the next 50-200 years should be made in the light of this.
This image from the article shows a part of Greenland where the ice is quite dynamic.These areas are expected to grow.
“A game changer” is how climate scientist Dr Malte Meinshausen describes newly published research that West Antarctic glaciers have passed a tipping point much earlier than expected and their disintegration is now “unstoppable” at just the current level of global warming. The research findings have shocked the scientific community. “This Is What a Holy Shit Moment for Global Warming Looks Like,” ran a headline in Mother Jones magazine.
Meinshausen says this is new information. He says that the beaches we know and love all around the world will disappear. He also wonders what other nasty surprises lie this side of a 2°C temperature rise. Spratt says we told you ages ago it was coming, by James Hansen, for example and by himself and Philip Sutton in 2007.
This NASA image shows the temperature changes from 1957 to 2006:
It’s par for the course for climate policy-makers to hope for the best, rather than plan for the worst. More than once this blog has warned that sea-level rises are being underestimated by Australian policy-makers, and that the tens of millions of dollars being put into adaptation planning for sea-level rises of no more than 1.1 metres by 2100 will be a waste of money, and all that work will have to be done again. And now that has come to pass.
GIANT “whirlpools” in the ocean carry far more water than expected and have a big impact on the weather – though as yet we don’t know exactly what.
The areas of swirling water are 100 to 500 kilometres across. These “eddies” generally move west, driven by Earth’s rotation, until they stop spinning. Now, for the first time, the amount of water and heat they carry has been measured.
Nestled into the pastoral landscape of Treviso, Italy, BioCasa_82 is a beautiful home that boasts some seriously energy-efficient technologies.
The house is made from 99% recyclable materials and scores
117 points out of 136, according to the American protocol LEED Platinum, and 10 out of 11 points in regards to innovation in design, the building is a real gem in the European building practice.
According to the carbon footprint analysis, BioCasa_82 yields 60% less emissions than traditional buildings. Its photovoltaic system produces around 14kWh/mq of electricity, and a high-efficiency geothermal plant provides heat, hot water and cooling. These strategies are complemented by a rainwater harvesting system.
That is everyone’s problem since he owns a world-wide media empire.
Many of Murdoch’s news outlets are also among the worst when it comes to getting climate science wrong and disseminating climate myths and misinformation. Inaccurate media coverage is in turn the primary reason why the public is so misinformed about global warming.
I won’t go into the details, but Climate Progress observes that he ‘lowballed’ the numbers and minimized possible impacts. Here in Oz:
”We can be the low-cost energy country in the world,” he said. “We shouldn’t be building windmills and all that rubbish.”
Generally speaking I don’t rate the number 100 much except that it’s the number after 99 and the number before 101. Which might be just as well because when I was going through all the posts after transporting them (thanks tigtog) from Larvatus Prodeo I found two with the same number. So the 100th edition was actually number 99!
A ‘normal’ Greenland summer melt is illustrated by the left-hand panel taken at 8 July 2012, when about 40% of the ice sheet was subject to melting.
The right-hand panel shows what happened for about a week thereafter and is not relevant except as a harbinger of things to come.
A new study looks at the increased melting from dust and soot. It found that a relatively minor decrease in the brightness of the ice sheet could cause double the average yearly rate of ice loss seen over the period 1992-2010.
Soot resulting mainly from wildfires in North America and Russia has a greater melting impact than dust as such. However, increased dust is being produced in the Arctic and finding its way to the Greenland ice. Now 150 times as much dust as soot has been found at a site in the north-east.
While this can’t be extrapolated to the rest of the ice sheet, there is concern that Greenland melting could be greater than previously thought. See also Antarctic images for context.
Australia is one of the few places in the world where green jobs are decreasing according to figures released by the International Renewable Energy Agency.
Globally the sector now provides an estimated 6.6 million jobs, an increase of 800,000 from 2013 figures, but in Australia, jobs across solar photovoltaics and solar heating have declined, with up to 22 per cent of jobs lost in PV and 20 per cent in heating, according to Ethical Jobs general manager Michael Cebon.
This is happening:
entirely the result of government policy, both through loss of incentives at the federal level and backpedalling by state governments.
While a structural shift is occurring in the workforce elsewhere, Australia is regressing. The graphic shows the jobs potential of investment in various sectors:
4. Climate change impacts will ‘cost world far more than estimated’
By the end of the book, co-written with fellow historian Eric Conway, the Netherlands and Bangladesh are submerged, Australia and Africa are depopulated, and billions have perished in fires, floods, wars and pandemics. “A second dark age had fallen on Western civilisation,” Oreskes writes, “in which denial and self-deception, rooted in an ideological fixation on ‘free’ markets, disabled the world’s powerful nations in the face of tragedy.”
Oreskes and Conway say it’s a worst-case scenario, not a prediction.
One way or another, the game is up, we need to act with vigour and determination.
6. Coal to fuel human progress for decades – Tony Abbott
Our fearless leader has been strutting his stuff on the world stage, ignoring the science and embarrassing us all. He told Texan business leaders that:
we don’t believe in ostracising any particular fuel and we don’t believe in harming economic growth.
“For many decades at least, coal will continue to fuel human progress as an affordable energy source for wealthy and developing countries alike.”
Under the fig leaf of Direct Action anything goes.
Once again they are out of tune with the nation. In a recent opinion poll 57% of those polled said the government should take climate change more seriously.
while more than half of respondents felt the federal government was the primary body which should address climate change, there was a negative rating of -18 when people were asked to rank the government’s performance.
This compares to a -1 rating from last year. These rankings are the differential between respondents’ “good” versus’ “poor” response to the government’s performance.
Reminder: Use this thread as an open thread on climate change.
7. Pacific presidents speak out against Australia’s stand on climate change
This edition includes important updates on Greenland and Antarctica, global food supply, CSIRO cuts, CO2 levels moving decisively past 400 ppm and CO2 compared to global temperature rise.
1. Greenland may melt faster than expected
You may recall from the post Arctic images I included an image of the underlying topography of Greenland (Figure 5). It is saucer-like with large areas inland below sea level. The glaciers tend to drain through narrow gateways in the external rim. So they tend to be narrow and fast-flowing:
The mouths of most glaciers are melting from contact with warmer seas. It was felt that as this process continued the ice would lose contact with the water, slowing the melting.
New studies of the topography have shown that many of these channels are below sea level.
Valleys underlying many of the glaciers stay below sea level and extend much farther inland than previously suggested, so warm ocean currents that have migrated northward with the changing climate could eat away at the ice for much longer than current climate models suggest. “It will take much longer for these glaciers to lose contact with the ocean,” study author Mathieu Morlighem, of the University of California, Irvine, told Climate Central.
2. Melting Antarctica could devastate global food supply
A new report is the “first to factor in the effects of the slow-motion collapse of the Western Antarctica ice sheet on future food security.”
About time, I’d say.
The report acknowledges recent findings that that the retreat of the Western Antarctica ice sheet was unstoppable – and could lead to sea-level rise of up to 4 metres over the coming centuries.
“That sea-level rise would take out half of Bangladesh and mostly wipe out productive rice regions in Vietnam,” Nelson told The Guardian. “It would have a major effect on Egyptian agricultural areas.”
“A sea level rise of 3 meters (10 feet) over the next 100 years is much more likely than the IPCC thought possible,” the report said.
In terms of absolute land loss, China would be at risk of losing more than 3 million hectares (7.4 million acres). Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar could lose more than 1 million hectares (2.5 million acres), the report said.
The report recommends a radical increase in expenditure on agricultural research, which has been in decline everywhere over recent decades.
Dr Borgas [president of the CSIRO Staff Association] said a plan to move the Aspendale Laboratories to the organisation’s larger site in Clayton had been previously discussed but had come to nothing.
He said it was unclear whether the relocation would reduce the research performed by the 130 staff, which includes ice core analysis, air quality and pollution research and climate and atmospheric modelling.
Most countries planning for a future increase their scientific research funding.
4. CO2 levels decisively pass 400 ppm
During April all 12 World Meteorological Organisation northern hemisphere monitoring stations passed the 400 ppm mark, the first time ever. This is how such a level compares to the 800,000 year ice core record:
“This was a time when global temperatures were substantially warmer than today, and there was very little ice around anywhere on the planet. And so sea level was considerably higher — around 100 feet [30 metres] higher — than it is today,” said Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann, in an email conversation. “It is for this reason that some climate scientists, like James Hansen, have argued that even current-day CO2 levels are too high. There is the possibility that we’ve already breached the threshold of truly dangerous human influence on our climate and planet.”