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Fall AGU

Filed under: — gavin @ 9 December 2006

The Fall AGU meeting in San Francisco is always an exhilarating/exhausting (take your pick) fixture of the Earth Science calendar. This year will be no different, and since about half of us will be there, RealClimate will probably be a little quiet next week. Hopefully, we should be able to report on any highlights when we get back.

N.B. If any readers will be attending and want to say hi, I will be giving a talk on ‘Science blogging: and the Global Warming debate‘ on Friday (PA53A, 13:40, MCS 309).

Update: AGU went well – lot’s of good stuff. The actual RealClimate presentation is available here – it’s pretty basic though (only 15 minutes worth)).

131 Responses to “Fall AGU”

  1. 101
    Eli Rabett says:

    There are ways to extract the CO2 from the air. They are very expensive and unlikely to scale to the size needed. More practical would be to capture the CO2 emitted from large sources such as power plants. Then you have to find a place to put it for a long time. This is called sequesterization. Searching under CO2 or carbon sequesterization should get you a fair number of links. OTOH, we could do the dinosaur trick and turn into coal.

  2. 102
    Matt says:

    I think you misunderstand economics which is a science in itself. People mobilise to war because of the PERCEIVED benefits of doing so and behaviour of people and their LEADERS is the realm of economics as well as psychology and politics. What I was targeting was the opinion that alternatives would be priced to match what we use for fuel now, that I don’t believe to be true. However the only failure is in giving people the feeling that GW will have a cost too large. In that I agree fully with Grant as it is true the economic principles concerning game theory and cost benefit requires all the players to have an idea what those costs and benefits are, that is where you guys come in so keep it up and try making it more public (crack the media). Also until some of you become the leaders of people you will always underachieve in the realm of influence which you most richly deserve given your intelligence and wisdom.

  3. 103
    Adam says:

    There is a very cheap way of extracting CO2 from the air, called trees. The difficulty is then in locking that CO2 so it does not get re-released. This probably adds to the expense. ;)

    One supposes that wooden mine-shorings in now sealed coal mines were the original carbon offset scheme, if rather inefficient and unintentionally so.

  4. 104
    Matt says:

    Adam that is by far the best thing I have ever read regarding climate change

  5. 105
    Roger Smith says:

    If you’re interested in power plant economics and CO2, this is a decent read:

    Climate Change and Power: Carbon Dioxide Emissions Costs and Electricity Resource Planning

  6. 106
    Randy A. says:

    Pat Neuman — stop spreading your lies about Gore.

    2000 Debate transcript:

    “GORE: I do. I think that in this 21st century we will soon see the consequences of what’s called global warming. There was a study just a few weeks ago suggesting that in summertime the north polar ice cap will be completely gone in 50 years. Already people see the strange weather conditions that the old timers say they’ve never seen before in their lifetimes.”

    And again:

    “GORE: I’m really strongly committed to clean water and clean air, and cleaning up the new kinds of challenges like global warming.”


    There is also a much longer exchange about Global Warming on there as well.

  7. 107
    cat black says:

    103: This *is* a good cut on the tree question (pardon the pun) but the problem with all sequestration options is keeping the carbon locked up but in an economical manner.

    Rather than bury the trees, I’d think we could find novel uses for the pulp they create for us, or the lumber if you stick with firs and pines. Even low grade pulp and wood chips from fast growing species are being used to make new kinds of building materials like OSB and wood i-beams. Planting fast-growing trees over vast areas of former forests would pull in a lot of carbon and generate a lot of wood suitable for pulp and chips, which when harvested and formed into suitable building products could generate a lot of homes, bridges and public structures. Cement manufacturing is a HUGE source of CO2, so let’s stop using cement entirely for structures, build smaller, build more often, and build EVERYTHING out of wood or wood products.

    Structures so built would eventually collapse or fall to termites, so the amount of time you buy is measured in decades or centuries rather than millenia… but at least it doesn’t require any new inventions or additional environmental damages, other than the damages that come from harvesting the trees, which could and should be managed.

    I’m not even a lumberjack! I’m a systems biologist. But I’ve longed for a world of cities and homes made entirely of wood. Even, grown in place around wood panels and posts. Huge trees with integrated platforms, or hollowed out and buttressed inside. There is so much we could do besides rip up the ground to make cement, bricks and steel for buildings, while we pump CO2 into the air in the process, making those same concrete canyons unlivable in a few decades.

  8. 108
    Adam says:

    #104 Thanks Matt…are you sure? Anyway I did make a mistake. It is of course the carbon that needs locking as the CO2 has been converted.

  9. 109
    pete best says:

    James Hansens latest take on AGW set against Peak Oil and Gas and Coal usage. It would seem to suggest that we need to address/tackle electricity supply via Coal (there are numerous options available to us here) rather than bothering with transport although it would be a good idea to reduce gas and oil use somehow to allow us to transition away from them over time.

    So nuclear, renewables, and the like can replace Coals energy production but what replaces transports energy source. Type II Ethenol, Hydrogen made from renewables, energy efficiency gains help less energy rich fuels etc?

    One other thing is: would 1 Deg C be that benign that we just go ahead and blow all of the Gas and Oil anyway?

  10. 110
    Florifulgurator says:

    Re: Trees:
    What about producing char coal from wood and dump it? It´s very simple low-tech. The coal might improve the soil (terra preta?), and you could harvest pyrolysis oil as bio fuel. I´m looking for some expert commentary on that scheme.

  11. 111
    Pat Neuman says:

    Re #106.


    I did not spread lies about Al Gore!

    My comments in #86 were that my letters to several directors and supervisors within the Clinton/Gore administration went unanswered on a subject of great importance to me, the U.S. and the world and that I think Al Gore knew about my letters of request for help to others in his administration – or he should have known about them. I learned recently that my brother sent a letter to Al Gore in 2000 as well, which also went unanswered.

    View comments on an absence of response to letters of concern at:

  12. 112
    Hank Roberts says:

    Pat, you’re saying what you think might be the case.

    But you don’t know who if anyone read your letters or what they did with them.

    Focus — are you complaining about being personally ignored by Mr. Gore himself?

    You don’t know if he ever saw your letter.

    You may not be at the level of concern the vice president even hears about personally from his staff, you know?

    “The problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” — Rick, in _Casablanca_.

  13. 113
    Dan says:

    re: 111. I beleive post 106 was in response to post 86, in which you wrote “I would like to know why…Al Gore didn’t bring up global warming as an issue in the 2000 debates.”

  14. 114
    Pat Neuman says:


    Global warming was not brought up as an issue in the 2000 or 2004 Presidential debates that I remember. I remember being very disappointed about that, especially in 2004. In commenting in #106, I wasn’t even thinking about Vice President debates, which few people watch. I don’t remember watching the Gore vs ? debates in 2000. Do you know how the numbers stack up i.e percent of viewers watching debates for President vs percent watching V.P. debates?

    Even in the V.P. debates in 2000, global warming was not really brought up as an issue by the weakness of the comments made by Al Gore about global warming (#106). Compare what Al Gore said in 2000 about global warming vs some of what I said about global warming in 2000:

    ———- Forwarded Message ———-
    Subject: My job, safety, and global warming
    Author: Pat Neuman at W-CR-MSR
    Date: 4/20/2000 10:21 AM

    TO: William Daley, Secretary of the Department of Commerce

    From: Pat Neuman, Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and
    Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service, North
    Central River Forecast Center, Chanhassen, Minnesota

    April 20, 2000

    I appreciated your 4/19/00 message to us. You have my full and
    enthusiastic support in seat belt safety efforts. I also appreciated
    your encouragement for us to share thoughts and ideas about the
    Department and its work, and to feel free to respond to this message.
    Thank you.

    I now ask for your views relating to short and long term safety
    from floods and the consequences of global warming.

    I also ask for your specific views about my job responsibility
    to the public, in relation to a 3/30 Proposal to Suspend memorandum
    from my supervisor at the NWS North Central River Forecast Center
    located in Chanhassen, Minnesota. The 3/30/00 Proposal to Suspend
    is now on the desk of the acting NWS Central Region director for his
    decision. I received the Proposal to Suspend for two reasons: 1) not
    following my supervisor’s instructions to not work on global warming,
    and 2) using my computer at work for expressing personal views on
    global warming.

    My job to provide spring snowmelt flood outlooks for the National
    Weather Service requires that I learn about global warming. My efforts
    to learn about global warming, it’s hydrologic consequences, and the
    need to provide for public understanding of the hydrologic implications,
    have been in direct response to the messages that Dr. James Baker,
    director of NOAA, has been giving on national television, beginning
    in January, 2000.

    My efforts to provide snowmelt flood outlooks in late winter of this
    year benefited from my knowledge about global warming which I
    obtained through recent study, particularly the work of NOAA and EPA. In addition to providing operational hydrologic outlooks and
    forecasts, my job also requires the development of procedures for
    hydrologic outlooks, river forecasting, and flash flood guidance. I
    believe that knowledge of global warming and its implications to
    hydrology are essential for development of sound hydrologic
    procedures for making outlooks and flood forecasts.

    I successfully accomplished all supervisory assigned duties at work
    that were not related to global warming. My supervisor acknowledged
    that was true in my recent six month performance review.

    Most of my work and sending of messages related to global warming were
    accomplished using e-mail from my home computer, on my personal time,
    without reference to my noaa e-mail address.

    I sent some messages from my work computer, where I keep some addresses that are not on my home computer. Messages that I sent from
    work had a message in them identifying myself as a private citizen.
    My intention was to represent myself as a private citizen, and not to
    use my work e-mail to imply that my office of employment was in support
    of my messages.

    On January 28, I wrote and sent a message titled: “President Clinton’s
    Strategy Wrong” on my home computer, during the same evening of the
    President’s State of the Union Address. The next day, from work, I
    forwarded that message to several other locations, including: other
    governmental agencies, the President, Vice President, CBS News, and
    some newspaper editors. I sent that message to help in spreading Dr.
    James Baker’s message that global warming is real, that global warming
    affects public safety, and that its consequence are short and long term. I also felt a need, in conscience and duty, to make recommendations on
    how to act to slow global warming.

    My purpose of bringing attention to the existence and consequences of
    global warming, related to my job, is that by doing so, I can be more
    direct and successful in providing improved spring snowmelt flood
    outlooks to the public, this year and in years to come.

    Without public understanding of global warming, the NWS mission, which
    I support, can not be fulfilled. I believe that without some action
    by all governmental agencies and the public to slow global, the knowledge
    and commitment to understanding global warming by governmental agencies and the public will be shallow. Without a deep
    understanding of global warming, the public will not have the
    confidence or ability to obtain maximum benefit from NCRFC spring
    snowmelt flood and hydrologic outlooks and predictions.

    Many tasks for many government agencies, including my office, will be
    most successful, short and long term, if the tasks are performed based
    on the latest scientific knowledge that global warming is here, and
    that global warming, according to National Climatic Data Center under
    NOAA and the Department of Commerce, is accelerating. This is what I
    believe to be true.

    For your personal evaluation, I have included the 1/28/00 e-mail message
    that I sent from my home and work computers, provided below.

    Response from all of my messages has been minimal. I believe that
    most people refuse to believe that global warming is real, with major
    hydrologic implications and major consequences to Earth.

    Please reply to the following requests:

    1. I would appreciate knowing your views on the hydrologic implications
    of global warming, especially in relation to providing
    NWS operational outlooks and forecast products, and procedure

    2. I would appreciate knowing your views about my job responsibility
    to the public, in relation to a 3/30 Proposal to Suspend memorandum
    from my supervisor at the North Central River Forecast Center located
    in Chanhassen, Minnesota. As given earlier in this message, I received
    the Proposal to Suspend for two items: 1) not following my supervisor’s
    instructions to not work on global warming, and 2) using
    my computer at work for expressing personal views on global warming.

    I will look forward to your reply.


    Patrick J. Neuman, senior hydrologist
    NWS NCRFC, located in Chanhassen, Minnesota
    work phone: 952 361 6664 ext 514
    home address Chanhassen, MN (moved in March).
    home phone: XXX

    ———- Forwarded Message ———-
    Subject: Request to DOC Ethics Division , 4/11
    Author: Pat Neuman at W-CR-MSR
    Date: 4/11/2000 2:51 PM

    To: DOC Ethics Division, Gaye Williams and J. Roell
    From: Pat Neuman, National Weather Service, NCRFC, Chanhassen, MN


    I also request, as I had requested in a previous message to DOC
    Ethics Division, that DOC Ethics Division provide me with an
    explanation on why I did not receive a reply from several messages
    that I sent in early February, 2000, to Dr. James Baker, Dir. of NOAA,
    requesting assistance in my efforts to provide for improvements in the
    understanding of the relationships that exist between global warming
    and hydrology, and requesting assistance in office related problems
    that I was encountering in my efforts related to global warming,
    following Dr. Baker’s statements on CBS News on global warming,
    January, 10, 2000.

    I now have deep feelings on this subject, and in good conscience, I
    believe, that there is a direct relationship between global warming
    and the responsibility that I have as a National Weather Service North
    Central River Forecast Center employee, in providing for accurate and
    timely spring snowmelt flood outlooks, and other hydrologic outlooks,
    that must incorporate the latest state of knowledge and evidence in
    providing services for maximum public benefit.

    I do not wish to be a bother to such an important person, as is
    Dr. James Baker.

    It is now clear to me that I need to know, from Dr. Baker
    himself, which direction I should go regarding my complications at
    work, on this extremely complex and controversial issue, which has
    large professional and personal implications for me as an individual,
    and large implications for the public, in the present and in the future.

    Please contact Dr. James Baker and ask him for his
    recommendations on:

    A. How I should proceed, personally, in dealing with the 3/30
    Proposal to Suspend memorandum from my supervisor, and subsequent
    related, and yet to be specified, unjustified and unethical
    disciplinary actions directed against me by my supervisor.

    B. How I should proceed, as a deeply concerned NWS employee,
    with good conscience, and having devoted my career, with good effort
    to the mission of NWS, to deal with a supervisor who I believe
    has acted unethically, by choosing to ignore, discount, or cover up
    the significance of global warming as it is related to the
    mission of NCRFC and NWS.

    When I informed my supervisor in January and early February that I was
    researching global warming, in following the lead of Dr. James Baker,
    concerning the seriousness and definitive evidence of global warming,
    and the hydrologic implications, my supervisor’s reply to me was that
    Dr. Baker, and related efforts and reports from NOAA and NCDC were all
    driven by politics, and of little or no long term meaning with respect
    to the missions of the NWS and NCRFC.

    My supervisor expressed these views to me on more than one occasion,
    which was very disheartening to me.

    Please respond as soon as possible to my request, since my time
    on this effort is very limited, as stated in the 3/30 Proposal to
    Suspend memorandum from my supervisor.


    Pat Neuman
    NWS NCRFC, Chanhassen, MN
    personal e-mail: work e-mail:
    work phone: 952 361 6664 ext 514

  15. 115
    Dan says:

    “In commenting in #106, I wasn’t even thinking about Vice President debates, which few people watch. I don’t remember watching the Gore vs ? debates in 2000.”

    Pat, in 2000 the presidential race was Gore versus Bush! Gosh, how can anyone forget the Florida vote counting fiasco and the Supreme Court’s subsequent action which resulting in the selection of Bush as president? Thus, the quote in post 106 is from the 2000 campaign *presidential* debate. And global warming was specifically brought up during that debate, per the transcript link. The vice presidential campaign debate that year was between Lieberman and Cheney.

  16. 116
    Pat Neuman says:

    Re 115.

    Dan, Thanks for making that clear. I just woke up from a nap which I needed.

  17. 117
    Luke Silburn says:


    Just a note to the RC guys to congratulate them on making the Guardian’s 100 most useful websites today.

    Good job.


    [Response: Cool! – gavin]

  18. 118

    Re “One supposes that wooden mine-shorings in now sealed coal mines were the original carbon offset scheme, if rather inefficient and unintentionally so.”

    Wood used in construction is usually dead.

  19. 119
    Pat Neuman says:

    Re: # 112


    I suppose you’re right, but it should not have been that way. I received a message last night from my brother, Mike Neuman, about his letter and attachment which he sent in May, 2000 to his Elected Government Officials.



    May 26, 2000

    To: My Elected Government Officials
    President Bill Clinton
    Vice President Al Gore
    … *
    From Michael T. Neuman, Resident of Madison, Wisconsin

    Subject: Protection From Global Warming

    * Senator Kohl
    Senator Russ Feingold
    U.S. Representative Tammy Baldwin
    Governor Tommy Balwin
    State Senator Fred Risser
    State Representative Terese Berceau
    Madison Mayor Sue Bauman
    Alderperson Jean MacCubbin
    Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk
    Dane County Supervisor Al Matano

    “World scientists now agree. Global warming is a potential threat to
    present world populations: human, animal and plant populations, and
    all future world populations as well.”


    “In my professional (1) opinion, major, large scale actions to cut
    greenhouse gases must begin now. People” …



    No replies.

  20. 120
    Pat Neuman says:

    Re: 119 Typing error: should say Governor Tommy Thompson

  21. 121
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #114, I agree GW is hardly being brought up at all during election campaigns. You might be interested to know that big oil gave nearly as much to the Clinton campaign in 1992 as to Bush Sr.

    Anyway, you might be interested in an organization that is trying to get it on the plate as a topic (mainly for students and college campuses, but for everyone). Go to , or contact

    It seems that we people are the ones who will have to demand GW as an issue. Also see the League of Conservation Voters for environmental voting records of all the politicos ( ).

    It’s our and our children’s future; we have a right to better representation in a democracy.

  22. 122
    John Atkeison says:

    Tides leveraging Antarctic glaciers into the ocean??
    I’ll be glad when conferences and holidays get out of the way *smile* and we can hear about this tidbit — seesm to be one of those little stories with huge implications:
    Report Says Tides Affect Speed of Antarctic Ice Slide
    December 21, 2006 � By Alister Doyle, Reuters
    The Rutford Ice Stream of western Antarctica slips about a metre (3 ft) a day towards the sea but the rate varies 20 percent in tandem with two-week tidal cycles, it said. And the effect is felt even on ice more than 40 km (25 miles) inland.
    Gudmundsson said it was unclear whether a projected long-term rise in world sea levels, like a rising tide in slow motion, might accelerate a run-off of ice from Antarctica. *snip*

  23. 123
    Hank Roberts says:

    Good find, John. Anyone got the Nature article, if so can you suggest search terms we might use to find related info available without a sub?

    I’d noted these earlier along the same general lines, they all lead to more about tides and sea level and rifting:

  24. 124


    If triage has any place in science education, as AGU members we have a clear duty to advance the authors of the two following letters to the front of the line.

    They are suffering from the effects of Pat Michaels latest effort at reinterpreting Proc. NAS ,’Sealing the Fate of Antarctica’:

    “Patrick J. Michaels writes: “First, Gore’s science fiction. Due to the warming of the surrounding ocean, big ice-shelves begin to crack off and float away. Because that ice is floating, it doesn’t raise sea level a bit. But then the ice cracks all the way back to where it is grounded on the ocean floor. That stuff isn’t floating and the ocean rises dramatically, some twenty feet in a hundred years.”

    I haven’t seen this movie, nor do I intend to, but how can ice be “grounded on the ocean floor” when ice floats? Further, if there was such ice, for it to come adrift and melt would surely lower sea levels, not raise them! I write some science-fiction, which doesn’t claim to be anything more, but I don’t think any self-respecting SF editor would accept a story grounded on such a plot.
    — Hal G. P. Colebatch
    Nedlanbds, Western Australia

    Dear Patrick, I like your title “Sealing” — Republican (elephant) Seals, at that!

    RE: the ocean-floor “grounded” non-floating ice you mention, (which al-Gore’s “indocyoudrama” “depicts” elementary… to his envirocatastrophism- hysterics-induced scenario) — as you know, that portion which is submarine contracts to 90% of its volume upon liquification. That in order not to reduce sea-level, it must be offset by 10% of its pre-melt volume in “grounded supra-marine” (above-water) ice, is obvious (with only that portion of above-water “grounded” ice exceeding the 10% necessary to offset the contraction of the submarine portion of “grounded” ice, being able to cause any increase in sea-level; and of that excess, only 90% of its pre-melt volume, were it entirely to melt). Decreased salinity from infusion of fresh melt-water would facilitate refreezing during six months of darkness.

    Has anyone made any realistic calculations on actual net change in sea-level were the sun to go completely berserk and relegate the water-cycle to an exclusively two-state system (liquid-gas) vs. (solid-liquid-gas)? Such calculations would be essentially unambiguous quantitatively. I have yet to see mathematical documentation (all relevant factors considered) of any resultant sea-level under said parameters, much less any convincing argument to suggest the realization of such terms are in any way forthcoming.
    — Gary Clark
    Hesperia, California”

  25. 125
    Joseph O'Sullivan says:

    # 122 (John Atkeison) and 123 (Hank Roberts)

    I saw the news article on the Environmental News Network. ENN has articles from the popular press (mostly AP and Reuters) on environmental and scientific issues. You can subscribe and they send a weekday email with summaries of articles. Its very useful to keep up with the environmental issues. They have the Reuters article:

    I could not find the Nature article on a non-subscription site, but I did find an interesting paper on the same issue

  26. 126
    Henry says:

    In fact, a high tide hinders the ice flow – in effect, holding it back, with the higher rate occurring when the tide is low. Thus rising sea levels will tend to reduce the rate of ice loss, or as least slow the increasing rate.

  27. 127
    John Atkeison says:

    RE 126 – tides holding it back
    The potential that got my attention was the possible jiggling (surely that is a term of craft for some physical scientist…) which might contribute to movement, if only because of a loosening of the bond between the ice and the land.

  28. 128
    John Atkeison says:

    RE Pat Neuman

    I am impressed that Pat continues to be active on this issue after taking The Big Hit for the cause.

    I have observed his contributions online for years.

    Thanks, Pat!

  29. 129
    Eli Rabett says:

    What’s the cause? As far as I can see Pat Michaels is doing very well, whatever he is doing.

  30. 130
    Hank Roberts says:

    >Ice shelf
    The paper by Dr. Fricker linked above says:

    “… study rifts at the front of the ice shelves. Rifts are fractures which cut to the base of the ice shelves and eventually lead to tabular iceberg calving. Iceberg calving accounts for 2/3 of the total mass loss from Antarctica, yet little is known about the processes involved in rift propagation, and we do not know how these processes will respond to climate change.

    ” … study the propagation and evolution of active rifts using a combination of fieldwork and satellite remote sensing (see ) …

    ” … rift propagation is episodic and occurs in discrete events separated by approximately 2 weeks.”

  31. 131
    Roger Smith says:

    “I am impressed that Pat continues to be active on this issue after taking The Big Hit for the cause.”

    Re 129- I’m not sure if you’re joking, but that’s Pat Neuman, not Pat Michaels! I’m sure Michaels is well compensated and wonder if he gets free gas cards from Exxon.