Tag Archives: Oceans

Climate clippings 71b

This post was written in October 2012 trialling the site. I’ve decided to leave it in time sequence and fiddle the numbering.

1. Did climate change shape human evolution?

There’s no evidence yet that it did according to Richard Leakey.

I’m not sure about his four key questions, though. Yes, bipedalism seems to be important as does using tools to make tools. But I can’t see the importance of migration out of Africa as important to our evolution. Apart from picking up some Neanderthal genes presumably in a palm grove somewhere in the Middle East, which did boost our immune system, those of us who left Africa are much the same genetically as those who stayed behind.

I’d say the development of language was important. If you want a fourth I’d suggest our patterns of social organisation – how we interact and how we co-operate within groups. But I don’t know how much of that is in our genes.

2. Aid for climate refugees

Speaking of climate and migration, displacement by extreme weather events does not qualify you as a refugee under present UN arrangements. The International Organisation of Migration (IOM) hopes this will change at the annual United Nations climate change summit to be held in Qatar later this year, gaining access to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and other sources. It seems that 42 million people were displaced by storms, floods and droughts in Asia and the Pacific during 2010 and 2011.

3. Ocean heat content update

Skeptical Science recently posted on an update by Levitus et al on ocean heat content, which increases apace. Around 93% of additional warming goes into the ocean which is truly vast with, for example, an average depth of around 3,790 metres. This graph indicates the changing heat content within bands of the upper 2000m:

4. Southern Ocean research shows decrease in dense Antarctic bottom water

Antarctic Bottom Water is a massive current of super dense salty water which used to be which used to occupy the bottom mile of the Great Southern Ocean. Used to. Researchers are now able to report that the current is diminished by 60% compared to what it was in 1970.

Antarctic Bottom Water is colder than the normal freezing point and is a vast store of CO2. Understanding changes in this deep ocean current are crucial to understanding the likely future of global climate patterns as the planet warms. The researchers have not only been able to make direct observations, they have distributed buoys which should be able to provide data at times of the year when field work is impossible.

5. Plants flower faster than climate change models predict

For years scientists have been doing experiments to find out how much earlier plants will flower and leaf with global warming. A new study using field observations has found that plants are responding much faster than they had thought. Their research suggests that that spring flowering and leafing will continue to advance at the rate of 5 to 6 days per year for every degree celsius of warming.

What surprises me is that they thought they could model natural conditions in the lab.

It seems they will have to rethink the impacts of global warming on ecosystems and food production.

See also Science Daily.

6. Climate change experimentation goes bush

Another approach is to manipulate the environment on a large scale and monitor what happens. Researchers are using to control the amount of CO2 available to plants.

The idea is explore the role of “Australia’s large tracts of undeveloped land, known as bush” in storing carbon. They will be able to add carbon or take it away.

I’m not sure it doesn’t suffer from the same problems as experiments with plants, where only one variable was controlled, neglecting changes in precipitation patterns and cloudiness, for example.

7. Wind farms do not cause global warming

There has been a raft of articles in the MSM suggesting that wind farms cause global warming, mainly in the headlines, it seems.

In fact a study of some large wind farms in remote areas of Texas found local warming. The authors don’t know what’s going on but the suggestion is that thermal energy is being redistributed, perhaps by pulling down warmer air from higher altitudes during the nights.

For the spinning blades of wind turbines to increase the overall temperature of the planet some basic laws of physics would need to be rewritten.

Climate clippings 65

I’m still stressing out over the project I’m working on and various health matters that are annoying, time-consuming but OK-ish. John D has helped as always, but don’t blame him for the fourth one, the one on Rupert’s WSJ.

Australian solar project to be the world’s tallest building

Hyperion solar chimney

Hyperion believes their so-called “solar updraft tower” would provide much needed power to mining operations in Western Australia, and could also connect to the grid. It hopes to go live by 2014. The company is currently seeking approval for the $1.7 billion plan.

Unlike many solar projects, this one would keep the generators humming day and night, as the ground continues to give off captured heat from dusk to dawn. Continue reading Climate clippings 65

Climate clippings 56

Energy from biomass

A new report suggests that we should be able to feed a growing population, conserve the environment and produce 20% of world energy needs from biomass by making “the best use of agricultural residues, energy crops and waste materials”.

The report by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) can be downloaded from here.

I’m not sure how well they took into account the impact of climate change on agricultural productivity. They did consider an IPCC report on renewable energy (large pdf) and a study by the German Advisory Council on Climate Change (WBGU). Of the latter they said:

The WGBU08 report is arguably the most comprehensive study of the implications of growing bio-energy crops considered here. The approach uses a spatially explicit yield model for terrestrial productivity (LPjmL) driven by IPCC climate models, and scenarios. (p. 35)

You would need to go back to those studies to see what changes of weather, melting glaciers, sea penetration of river deltas etc were taken into account. Continue reading Climate clippings 56

Climate clippings 48

Greenland ice loss

The rate continues to accelerate, according to Skeptical Science.

It looks ugly, but see comment 24 and the correction @ 27. Doubling the rate each decade will give you 3,200 gt each year by 2050. But that’s still only a bit less than 9mm pa of sea level rise, according to my calculations. Concerning, certainly, but not yet catastrophic. Continue reading Climate clippings 48

Ocean heat content and Earth’s energy balance

In Climate clippings 46 I thought the most important segment was the last, on Deep heat. I don’t think it attracted a single comment.

To recap, the world’s oceans have a total mass of 1.37 billion gigatonnes of water. A gigatonne of water equals a cubic kilometre.The average temperature is, I understand, 3.5C, so the capacity for storing energy in the oceans is truly massive.

Around 90% of heat trapped by greenhouse gases ends up in the ocean.

A post by Kevin Trenberth on the earth’s energy balance tells us of a study that will show that energy can easily be “buried” in the deep ocean for over a decade.

Skeptical Science
now has a post on this study, by Meehl (2011), including this graph showing periods of more than 10 years with the ocean heat content at 0-700m roughly static: Continue reading Ocean heat content and Earth’s energy balance

Climate clippings 46

Herr Doktor Hüttlin’s magical Kugelmotor

From Gizmag via John D comes an invention from the Black Forest area of a spherical engine that can drive directly, generate electricity or store energy from braking in the motor itself. There seems to be considerable potential for it as a range extender in plug-in electrics.

“Pre-production prototypes of 1.18 liter capacity have been in testing for some months and power output at present is 74kW (100hp) at 3000rpm with torque up to 290Nm (213ft-lb). Dr Hüttlin expects efficiency to increase by another 40% with reduced bearing friction and optimization of the combustion. The engine weighs 62 kg and consists of only 62 parts, while a conventional engine has at least 240.” Continue reading Climate clippings 46

Climate clippings 41

Antarctica’s glacial movements

Via Gizmodo researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and the University of California, Irvine have made a map of every glacier on the continent, down to its individual shape and flow velocity, illustrating how water melting in the interior of the continent makes its way out to the coasts. Lead author Eric Rignot calls it a “game changer for glaciology.”

I think the implication may be that we will lose more ice than previously thought from East Antarctica with a temperature rise of 1 or 2C.

NASA press release here. Continue reading Climate clippings 41

Climate clippings 35

Australian greenhouse graphs

The ABC has a graph of Australia’s greenhouse gases. I’ve extracted the pie chart here:

Australian GHG emissions 2009-10

The figures are for 2009-10 and exclude land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) which in 2005 was 6%.

Lots of GHG information can be found at the UNFCCC GHG data site, including a global map (may take a while to load).

This graph is of changes, 1990-2008 (including LULUCF), showing Australia and NZ in a bad light, but Turkey is the runaway champion. I suspect outsourcing of manufacturing from the EU.

There’s an interesting champagne glass image Jo Abess’s blog (scroll down) but I’m not sure of it’s pedigree. Continue reading Climate clippings 35

Climate clippings 34

Mt Pinatubo

Volcanic CO2

Open Mind tells us that even earth scientists outside the field of volcanology don’t know how much CO2 volcanoes emit. Claims are made that it dwarfs human activity and that Mt Pinatubo emitted more than humans in the history of the world.

The answer is that it’s probably less than 1% and that we emit in half a day the equivalent of the Mt Pinatubo event. Continue reading Climate clippings 34

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 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