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Two degrees

Filed under: — david @ 8 July 2009

The countries of the G8 today approved a target of 2° C rise in global average temperature above the natural, preanthropogenic climate, that they resolve should be avoided. The Europeans have been pushing for 2 degrees as a target maximum temperature for several years, but this is something of a development for the Americans. We posted recently on two new papers about what it would take to limit global average warming, finding that it would require fairly strong change in trajectory. About 2° C as a target, we wrote,

… even a “moderate” warming of 2°C stands a strong chance of provoking drought and storm responses that could challenge civilized society, leading potentially to the conflict and suffering that go with failed states and mass migrations. Global warming of 2°C would leave the Earth warmer than it has been in millions of years, a disruption of climate conditions that have been stable for longer than the history of human agriculture. Given the drought that already afflicts Australia, the crumbling of the sea ice in the Arctic, and the increasing storm damage after only 0.8°C of warming so far, a target of 2°C seems almost cavalier.

Nevertheless, we view today’s development as a constructive step.

411 Responses to “Two degrees”

  1. 251
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re Edward Greisch – Why no grid connection? How is that cheating? Most American houses are grid connected. Storage may be more efficient if it doesn’t have to be at all individual buildings, and will be less necessary if energy is mixed together from type and over distance into the total supply at any one place.

    Jerry Gardner (195) highest price for grid without batteries, presumably including inverters, was $20,000. With batteries, and a pool!, $50,000. Your figure: $1,000,000

    Solar panel prices range from maybe $1 to $6 per peak W now; some figures from EIA suggest around $3/peak W. Let’s say $4/peak W. A typical panel in most of the lower 48 states may get 170 W/m2 at least (
    ). So $4/peak W * 1000 peak W/ 170 average W = approximately $24/average W.

    Average person’s electrical use, ~ approx. 1500 W. This includes at home, at work, and via products purchased, etc. Let Residential electricity = x * 1500 W per person; x is less than 1, perhaps 1/3, though I’m not sure offhand.

    Family of 4, average power needed is x * 4*1500 W = x * 6000 W.

    Cost: x * $24/average W * 6000 W = x * $144,000

    $144,000 is a lot more than Jerry Gardner’s figure, but that’s for home, office, and industry for four people, and it’s roughly 1/7 of your figure. And prices are heading down. Just 1 question – how much is the inverter? I doubt it makes up the full difference between 144,000 and 1,000,000. Then there’s efficiency improvements, etc. You can preheat your water by using a hybrid system to use waste heat from the panels and/or in a seperate portion of roof space – water heating panels are much less costly per unit area and in terms of energy, but they are not of much use for electrical production; hence the need for other things.

  2. 252
    Richard Steckis says:

    David Horton says:

    “The overall weather patterns in Australia are a function of its latitudinal position and of oscillations in the water temperatures in both the Pacific and Indian Oceans. El Nino brings droughts to eastern and southern Australia (La NIna brings floods).”

    This is not quite true. More recent research shows that the weather patterns governing southern Australia are driven by the Indian Ocean Dipole and not El Nino. El Nino affects northern Australia as does La Nina.

    Therefore, for droughts in southern Australia, we should be monitoring what is going on in the Indian Ocean and not the Pacific. This is why the Australian BOM considers both El Nino and the IOD in seasonal forecasts.

  3. 253
    Jerry Toman says:

    David Horton,

    Desertification is a “creeping phenomenon” involving many positive feedbacks which tend to accelerate the process to the point of irreversibility, as is observed in the Sahel of Africa.

    What I don’t understand is why nobody in South Australia (or in any other place for that matter) can’t come up with a plan to fight the problem “at the margin” which would involve harvesting “humidity” from the seas to the south and west and moving it eastward and northward, pushing the “dry line” back toward the north.

    It won’t be instantaneous, but progress could be made with a properly conceived plan, including reforestation, which could “make the winters longer and wetter”.

    As I mentioned in a previous post here, “reflective” greenhouses seem to be reducing temperatures in southeastern Spain, although ground water is being depleted as a result of that particular scheme.

    Seawater greenhouses could be part of the solution as well as Vortex Ventilators which could serve as “artificial trees” to shade and cool nearby areas.

    All I read is talk and nothing about action–have all the Aussies just given up and are resigned to let the entire continent just dry up and blow away without a fight? It just doesn’t seem possible.

    One Australian, Don Cooper, agrees. Is anyone down there paying any attention to him and his presentations?

  4. 254

    129 John E. Pearson:
    more carefully.
    Iran and North Korea cannot make a Pu240 bomb that they could use, would kill mostly their own people if they tried, and would be caught very early in the process. Al Qida cannot do it. Technical sophistication and suicide workers don’t go together. If North Korea did make a Pu240 bomb, I doubt that they could deliver it because Pu240 has too short a half life, meaning Pu240 is too radioactive. They don’t have rad hard electronics. Ask yourself: could they make a missile guidance system with tubes instead of transistors? Tubes are not reliable enough or small enough for missile guidance computers. Most transistors don’t work long enough when irradiated with neutrons. One transistor failure out of thousands would be enough to send the missile off course.

    A Pu240 bomb, being very radioactive, is too easy to detect.

    Making a Pu240 bomb may seem simple if you forget how radioactive and how poisonous Pu240 is. In the US, it would be done entirely by robots. North Korea and Iran don’t have robots, so they would have a lot of dead machinists.

    You should assume that told you the worst story they could if they told you the truth. Even if told you the flat truth, I don’t see a Pu240 bomb as a believable threat. Was North Korea’s first bomb a Pu240 bomb? NO. My guess is that the yield was too high for a North Korean Pu240 bomb. Even though it was a fizzle, my guess is that it didn’t fizzle badly enough. If anybody would have built a Pu240 bomb it would have been the North Koreans, and they went to the trouble of trying to make something better. Remember, they wanted to convince the US government that they had a nuclear bomb, so they needed a credibly nuclear yield. To be credible, the yield had to be too big to be a chemical explosive. How much RDX could the North Koreans have put in a hole in the ground? So now you can try to find out the exact yield of the North Korean fizzle, and see if you can distinguish what kind of a fizzle it was. Also try to find out if there were any signs of a lot of Pu240 dust or oxide in the air near North Korea.

    Al Qida, North Korea and Iran would do much better with conventional explosives than with a Pu240 bomb. It just doesn’t make sense that they would even try to make a Pu240 bomb.

    32 nations have nuclear power plants. Only 9 have the bomb if you count North Korea. Anybody crazy enough to want to make a Pu240 bomb would be too crazy to succeed. The idea that nuclear power plants mean nuclear bomb proliferation is a coal industry scare tactic. Again: King Coal stands to loose $100 Billion per year in the US alone if you quit being afraid of nuclear power. That $100 Billion per year would pay for a huge number of nuclear power plants [fuel included] and lots of oversight.

    My computer is too old for
    or their server is down right now.

  5. 255
    Jacob Mack says:

    Droughts, historically have beenn recorded which were of immense severity prior to 1850. I do think that we humans are needlessly speeding things along, but do not think that even if we get the global mean temperature increase below 2 degrees that we cannot or will not have widespread droughts and potential world catastrophes in terms of both weather and climate. I think reducing emissions by an adequate amount to slow global warming is still a band aid (albeit large) on the global situation. I am of course all for trying to reduce emission by a far greater %. I just do not see the solutions being implemented, whatever they may be.

  6. 256
    Brian Dodge says:

    @ Tad Boyd 11 Jul 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Depending on rain in Australia is like playing craps. Sometimes the roll of the
    dice, or the fall of the rain, goes your way, sometimes it doesn’t. If the dice are
    weighted a little, you’ll still win on some rolls, and lose on some others, but you
    can’t say for any single roll, “I lost because the dice are weighted” (and a crooked dealer will be sure to emphasize your wins). Global warming is skewing the Australian odds towards more drought, more wildfire, and less crops. Few people know
    the odds, or even appreciate the bets they’ve made in terms of depending on rice
    exports, or building their houses in the bush. 200+ people paid the wildfire bet
    with their lives this year. Not everybody who smokes dies of cancer; not everyone
    who dies in a drought, or wildfire, or starves to death, dies because of global
    warming. The US could offset some loss of Australian rice exports by replacing it
    with corn destined for ethanol, but that would reduce Archer Daniels Midland
    profits; we could let the “free market” determine the relative value of ADM profits
    and poor third world lives, but given taxes, subsidies, the government’s power to
    print money, and the ability of ADM and Oxfam to pay lobbyists to influence
    government actions, the market is far from free. As long as you win some of the
    time, even though the odds are getting more and more stacked against you, do you
    think the game is fair?

    About polar bears -fuzzy, white, photogenic symbols of the Arctic-

    Possible Effects of Climate Warming on Selected Populations of Polar Bears(Ursus
    maritimus) in the Canadian Arctic

    “Furthermore, in Western Hudson Bay at least,
    recent studies have confirmed that the ice is melting
    earlier, apparently in response to climate warming, and
    that both the condition of bears and their population size
    are declining (Stirling et al., 1999; Gagnon and Gough,
    2005; Regehr et al., 2005; I. Stirling and N.J. Lunn,
    unpubl. data).”
    “…there is a clear overall trend toward progressively earlier
    sea-ice breakup. A linear least-squares fit through the data
    points of Figure 2b yields a slope of -0.75 ± 0.25 days/year,
    which is statistically significant at a confidence level
    exceeding 99% (p = 0.003). ”
    “Consequently, over those decades, the entire
    polar bear population of Western Hudson Bay has been
    forced to come ashore progressively earlier to begin fast-
    ing and also to fast for a longer period…”
    “Figure 3 shows the decline in mean estimated mass of
    lone (and thus possibly pregnant) adult female polar bears
    in Western Hudson Bay from 1980 through 2004. Their
    average weight declined by about 65 kg (from 295 to about
    230 kg), a change that is statistically significant ([math that won’t format] p < 0.001)." "in Western Hudson Bay, the decline in population size, condition, and survival of young as a consequence of earlier breakup of the sea ice brought about by climate warming have all been well documented (Stirling et al., 1999; Gagnon and Gough, 2005; Regehr et al., 2005; I. Stirling and N.J. Lunn, unpub." Journal of Wildlife Management 71(8):2673-2683. 2007 doi: 10.2193/2006-180 Effects of Earlier Sea Ice Breakup on Survival and Population Size of Polar Bears in Western Hudson Bay ERIC V. REGEHRa,1, NICHOLAS J. LUNNb, STEVEN C. AMSTRUPc, and IAN STIRLINGd "Survival of juvenile, subadult, and senescent-adult polar bears was correlated with spring sea ice breakup date, which was variable among years and occurred approximately 3 weeks earlier in 2004 than in 1984.We propose that this correlation provides evidence for a causal association between earlier sea ice breakup (due to climatic warming) and decreased polar bear survival." Are there lots of polar bears surviving now? Yes. Are the images of polar bears isolated on small ice floes symbolic rather than actual representations? Of course. Can the average guy tell whether the bear in a photograph weighs 295 or 230 kg, and if that is statistically significant? Doubtful, but when it comes time to vote, I'll bet most remember the symbolic picture, and won't even know the science. At least you have come to inquire, Tad. Can we prove that global warming killed THAT polar bear? The ranger shot him. Because he threatened humans. Because he was roaming in a populated area. Because he was eating garbage. Because he was starving, Because he fasted longer. Because he came ashore earlier. Because the ice melted earlier. Because of global warming. QED? Do your gut instincts tell you whether the summer ice melt will accelerate, or reverse course? Will polar bears be threatened with extinction because of AGW? How long will it take? Do you gut instincts raise alarms if you are traveling at 30 mph(48 kph) toward a bridge abutment 1/2 mile(0.8 kilometer) away? If you are on a supertanker which will take 5 mi(8km) to stop, you'd best be abandoning ship. I'm comfortable driving a car, and am qualified to captain charter boats with ~20 times the mass of my car. Few are qualified to captain supertankers, and I have no gut feeling what the mass ratio of them to my car is. I doubt that anyone has an accurate gut feeling of what the mass ratio of anthropogenic atmospheric CO2 is to my car, or how ponderous the changes that CO2 will make will be. Some people, including me, trust that Jim Hansen has a good idea, because he has devote his life to doing the math and developing an understanding. Others trust Jim Inhofe.

  7. 257
    David Horton says:

    #252 Thanks Richard, I was trying to keep it as simple as possible, and I am used to thinking in terms of Pacific Ocean, which does seem to have an effect in the east as well as the north. I also don’t know what effect rising ocean temps will have on the IOD, do you?

    #253 Jerry it is only in recent times that Australian farmers are starting to come to terms with climate change, after more than a decade of denial from conservatives (and not much better from the new Labor government, who just love coal mines) and their supporters among farmers organisations etc. The leading National Party (the farmer’s political party) members in federal parliament are still denialists, and refusing to support any GHG reduction measures. So it is very hard to convince farmers themselves that this isn’t “just another drought” but a sign of the future, and hard to get adaptation measures underway. Even a reduction in irrigation is being fought tooth and nail by farmers groups and right wing think tanks. But there is the beginning of people starting to think about changing crops and animal varieties and land use practice. But reforestation? No, land clearance still going on, and any attempt to stop or even reduce it is being fought hard. I can’t see any cause for optimism.

  8. 258

    142 Barton Paul Levenson: You must have gotten a price from the coal industry.
    Nuclear: 5.5 cents per kilowatt hour or 1.72 cents per kilowatt-hour or 1/3 cheaper than coal:

    HyperionPowerGeneration makes nuclear power plants in a factory:
    From: Jim Jones>
    Date: Tuesday, February 3
    Subject: Re: $.05 to .06 per KWh

    Assume HPM costs $30M and plant side doubles it:

    $60M divided by 25,000kw = $2,400/kw
    $2,400/kw divided by 5 years = $480/KWyr
    $480/KWyr divided by 8760 hours = $.0547945/KWhr (Call it 5 and half cents per KWhr)


    $60M divided by 20,000 homes = $3,000/home
    $3,000/home divided by 5 years = $600/home/year
    $600/home/year divided by 12 months = $50/home/month (How’s that for an electric bill?)

    Reference: “Power to Save the World; The Truth About Nuclear Energy” by Gwyneth Cravens, 2007 Finally a truthful book about nuclear power. Gwyneth Cravens is a former anti-nuclear activist.
    Page 211: “In 2005, the production cost of electricity from
    nuclear power on average cost 1.72 cents per kilowatt-hour; from
    coal-fired plants 2.21; from natural gas 7.5, and from oil 8.09.
    American nuclear power reactors operated that year around the
    clock at about 90 percent capacity, whereas coal-fired plants
    operated at about 73 percent, hydroelectric plants at 29 percent,
    natural gas from 16 to 38 percent, wind at 27 percent, solar at 19
    percent, and geothermal at 75 percent.”
    Read: “Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy”, by B. Comby
    English edition, 2001, 345 pp. (soft cover), 38 Euros
    TNR Editions, 266 avenue Daumesnil, 75012 Paris, France;
    ISBN 2-914190-02-6
    order from:
    Read a review of this book by the American Health Physics Society at:
    Association of Environmentalists For Nuclear Energy [EFN]

    Nuclear power is 30% cheaper than the coal power we have been duped into using.

  9. 259

    CO2 absorption is close to saturation:

    Have you considered the case of Venus? If CO2 absorption is close to saturation, why is Venus hotter than Earth? It isn’t THAT much closer to the sun, but lead is a liquid there.

  10. 260
    Tad Boyd says:

    Replies to (Drought in Australia)

    Thanks all for your replies. I’ve had my specific question answered as well as several I probably wouldn’t have thought to ask.

    #256 Brian

    I appreciate that you’ve shared your thought process with me. I’m afraid that the older I get, the less trust I seem to have. It’s a sad thing really. Politicians, I am most wary of. Even though I’m far less equipped than probably everyone else blogging here, I will continue to try to put the pieces together for myself and when I run into a point of contention in my thinking, do what I can to resolve it; And since several here have availed themselves to me, I’ll likely continue to take advantage of RC bloggers’ kindness as questions arise.

    You have nothing to gain by convincing me because really, I’m nobody in the grand scheme of things, so I appreciate that you took the time to share your thoughts on my question.


  11. 261

    Why don’t I hear any crickets or frogs or whatever they were outdoors at night any more? 2 weeks ago I heard 1 cricket. Now, Nature is dead silent. I hear only machinery sounds: cars and air conditioners. It used to be noisy after midnight. No cyotes either.

  12. 262
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Edward Greisch 11 July 2009 at 11:10 PM

    Edward, your link points us to “Environmentalists for Nuclear Power”. Could you do everybody a favor and stick to nuclear power as a topic? I’m sure you know something about that subject. I personally would never follow your advice about anything because you’ve destroyed your own credibility by insisting on propagating misleading and inaccurate rumors about PV technology, but perhaps you’re better informed about nuclear energy.

    You appear to unable to contain your enthusiasm about nuclear power, to the point that you can resist trashing other power generation technologies, a leading indicator that your enthusiasm about nuclear power has deranged your judgment.

    You do realize you’re doing actual harm by providing misinformation of this kind, don’t you? Can you see that? Do you understand that fabrications of the kind you’re spreading affect decisions that real people make?

    Also, you forgot condition #5 in your latest “challenge”:

    “Anybody with a clue about how PV technology is deployed and used is disqualified.”

  13. 263
    Doug Bostrom says:

    ‘”An effort on the scale of the Apollo mission that sent men to the Moon is needed if humanity is to have a fighting chance of surviving the ravages of climate change. The stakes are high, as, without sustainable growth, “billions of people will be condemned to poverty and much of civilisation will collapse”.

    This is the stark warning from the biggest single report to look at the future of the planet – obtained by The Independent on Sunday ahead of its official publication next month. Backed by a diverse range of leading organisations such as Unesco, the World Bank, the US army and the Rockefeller Foundation, the 2009 State of the Future report runs to 6,700 pages and draws on contributions from 2,700 experts around the globe. Its findings are described by Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the UN, as providing “invaluable insights into the future for the United Nations, its member states, and civil society”.’

    Well, there’s good news. The U.S. alone did do Apollo, even while we were trashing Vietnam, simultaneously building “The Great Society” -and- feeding voracious consumer habits. Presumably the entire world can do a bit better. Of course, back then the U.S. at least was not dominated by a bunch of wet blankets insisting that “our best days are behind us, we absolutely cannot improve the smallest iota about our technologies or habits without simply laying down and dying right on the spot”. That would be the climate change deniers I’m speaking of, of course. Real patriots, them.

    Captcha “the preachy”. Hah!

  14. 264
    CM says:

    Edward Greisch (#248),
    Let’s make it a fair contest with your preferred energy solution. Put a house in Illinois or New York. Disconnect your house from the grid — anything connected to the grid doesn’t qualify, you say. NOW provide ALL of the energy for the house from a nuclear reactor in your garage or basement. One meltdown in 10 years and you lose. We’ll be waiting for a statement from your accountant.

  15. 265
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Edward Greisch:

    If North Korea did make a Pu240 bomb, I doubt that they could deliver it because Pu240 has too short a half life, meaning Pu240 is too radioactive. They don’t have rad hard electronics

    The half-life of Pu-240 is 6.5ka, one-fourth of that of Pu-239. Not enough of a difference to be of consequence. What you missed is the big difference between the two: Pu-240 is about 10,000 times more likely to spontaneously fission, producing neutrons instead of alpha particles. It’s the kind of radioactivity that’s different. (And yes it complicates handling the stuff… but humans are inventive.)

    To me that’s a giveaway that you don’t have a clue.

  16. 266

    US Senator Inhofe “Vows a full investigation” into “suppressed” EPA report claiming no such thing as AGW. And guaranties that the cited above G8 deal is dead on arrival… Not that the deal will change anything, except for UK government which has been fantastic on Carbon reductions, The Senator and acolytes would have trouble explaining the disappearing Arctic Ocean ice, not that someone is capable of “Hoaxing” vanishing multi year ice, and even further, failing to match their statements with Polar ice disappearing in tandem with world wide temperatures being flat, not rising for ten years now, as they like to claim, how to explain the disappearing ice then??? Those trying to explain a long term cycle, beware! Polar people ancestors housing ruins, going back 5000 years prove otherwise.

    Someone should send the Senator a memo!

  17. 267
    James says:

    Greg Simpson says (11 July 2009 at 1:52 PM):

    “I see substantial effort by China to reduce pollution. China is closing many of their dirtiest coal power plants, and they are building much clean nuclear and wind generation.”

    After having first created that pollution. And there’s still increased urbanization, etc.

    You might find it illustrative to think of China (or indeed, any urban society) from the viewpoint of say a battery chicken farmer. The more chickens he can crowd into his farm & the less he can spend on supplying food & fresh water and cleaning the cages, the greater his profit. However, if he packs them too tightly & keeps the cages too dirty, the “wastage” will increase and his profit will diminish accordingly. So the trick is to find the optimum point that maximizes profit.

    “They are still building many new coal plants…”

    Enough said?

  18. 268
    Hank Roberts says:

    Here’s the _Nature_ article from the ANDRILL work:

    “… an understanding of the behaviour of the marine-based West Antarctic ice sheet (WAIS) during the ‘warmer-than-present’ early-Pliocene epoch (approx5–3 Myr ago) is needed to better constrain the possible range of ice-sheet behaviour in the context of future global warming…. a switch from grounded ice, or ice shelves, to open waters in the Ross embayment when planetary temperatures were up to approx 3°C warmer than today and atmospheric CO2 concentration was as high as approx 400 p.p.m.v.”

    Uh oh.

    So that took a very long time to warm up — low rate of change.
    This time — very fast.

  19. 269
    James says:

    Edward Greisch says (11 July 2009 at 11:10 PM):

    “California doesn’t qualify because the climate is too nice there also.”

    You’ve OBVIOUSLY never spent much time in California :-) Look at today’s weather for say Palm Springs, or a typical summer in Sacramento.

    “Put the house in a reasonable climate like Illinois or New York or Alaska.”

    Now why would you think those places have “reasonable” climates? But in fact I grew up in northern New York state, and don’t remember ever encountering air conditioning until I went off to college.

    “No cheating by adopting an energy conserving lifestyle or a heat pump. It has to be like most American houses.”

    Why? Seems like changing an energy-wasting lifestyle is the first thing – and the cheapest & easiest – to do. Nor is it all that hard. Quite apart from your parochial idea of what most American houses are like, you might think about the fact that much of this lifestyle of yours is only about a generation old.

    “One brownout in 10 years and you loose.”

    Hardly fair, since the power company has lots more than that.

  20. 270
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Hank Roberts 12 July 2009 at 12:28 PM

    Quoting a bit more:

    “Our data provide direct evidence for orbitally induced oscillations in the WAIS, which periodically collapsed, resulting in a switch from grounded ice, or ice shelves, to open waters in the Ross embayment when planetary temperatures were up to approx3 °C warmer than today and atmospheric CO2 concentration was as high as approx400 p.p.m.v. ”

    So in a nutshell and roughly speaking, the grand yet unintentional experiment we’re running today has already been performed albeit w/the surrogate input of orbital forcing (if that’s the correct way to put it) to induce the disappearance of the WAIS. The result of the ancient “run” seems to confirm that the WAIS is quite fragile.

    So what happens if the orbital forcing is not in “bad” phase w/our mucking about w/the atmosphere? For that matter, is it or is it not? I suppose I should go find out.

    More work for Spencer Weart, too!

  21. 271
    Jim Bouldin says:

    David said:
    I also don’t know what effect rising ocean temps will have on the IOD, do you?

    Don’t know what effect it will have but there was a study done last year on the effect it has had from 1880 to 2004:

    Ihara et al., 2008. Warming Trend of the Indian Ocean SST and Indian Ocean Dipole from 1880 to 2004. J. Climate 21:2035


    The state of the Indian Ocean dipole representing the SST anomaly difference between the western and southeastern regions of the ocean is investigated using historical SST reconstructions from 1880 to 2004. First, the western and eastern poles of the SST-based dipole mode index are analyzed separately. Both the western and eastern poles display warming trends over this period, particularly after the 1950s. The western pole tends to be anomalously colder than the eastern pole from 1880 to 1919, whereas in the interval 1950–2004 the SST anomalies over the western pole are comparable to those over the eastern pole though there are occasional outliers where the eastern pole is anomalously colder than the western pole.

    The tendencies of the occurrences of positive and negative dipole events in September–November show three distinct regimes during the period analyzed. In 1880–1919, negative dipole events associated with La Niña events occur more frequently than positive events. In 1920–49, some weak positive events occur relatively independently of El Niño events over the Pacific. The period of 1960–2004 is characterized by strong and frequent occurrences of positive events associated with El Niño events.

    Summary and discussions

    The state of the Indian Ocean dipole mode is investigated using SST anomaly data from 1880 to 2004. The SST anomalies over the western and eastern poles of the Indian Ocean dipole show a clear warming trend during the entire period of analysis, particularly after the 1950s. The warming trend appears in the western pole around the 1910s, about a decade earlier than in the eastern pole in both the ERSST and Kaplan SST datasets, which were reconstructed by different methods, although the limitation of the quality in the historical SST data disallows a precise discussion on this issue. The relationship between the SST anomalies averaged over the western pole of the dipole, WEIO, and the SST anomalies averaged over the eastern pole, EEIO, shows different features in the earlier period compared to the later period. In 1880–1919, WEIO tends to be anomalously colder than EEIO most of the time. Whereas in 1950–2004, the values in the WEIO are generally comparable to the values in the EEIO. However, the existences of occasional outliers where WEIO is anomalously much warmer than EEIO stand out.

    In 1880–1919, more negative Indian Ocean dipole events occur in September–November than positive events. In 1920–49, some positive events occur in the ERSST data but these events are weak. Few negative events occur in this period. Strong and frequent positive events appear after 1960. These positive events are characterized by both significant anomalous warming over the western pole and significant anomalous cooling over the eastern pole, whereas only significant cooling compared to the climatology over the eastern pole is observed in the earlier two periods. With respect to the association with Pacific events, positive dipole mode events are strongly significantly linked with El Niño events in 1950–2004 and negative events with La Niña events in 1880–1919. Two different historical SST reconstructions are used in this study, but overall our results are not sensitive to which SST datasets are used.

    There is ongoing debate in the research community regarding whether the Indian Ocean dipole mode is a phenomenon that is independent of ENSO. Our composites maps of Indo-Pacific SST anomalies during positive (negative) events demonstrate a strong El Niño (La Niña) signal over the Pacific during the period between 1950 and 2004 (1880 and 1919). At the same time, analyses of observational data from the late nineteenth century to the present performed in this paper and in Ashok et al. (2003), as well as some modeling work (Behera et al. 2006; Bracco et al. 2005; Lau and Nath 2004; Fischer et al. 2004), indicate that the dipole events can sometimes occur without ENSO. Some weak positive events in 1920–49 are examples. Also, the results presented in this paper make us speculate that the dipole mode events in the early twentieth century are influenced by the warming trend that started over this region during that period. In 1880–1919, before the appearance of the strong warming trend over this region, WEIO tended to be anomalously colder than EEIO most of the time, and thus we see the strong negative events show in Fig. 4 , since we have used the climatology of the entire period from 1880 to 2004 as the reference. It can be said that the warming trend appeared earlier in WEIO than in EEIO; thus, the values of WEIO caught up with those of EEIO before the warming trend started over EEIO. After the 1960s, unlike in the early twentieth century, the values of WEIO are mostly comparable to those of EEIO. However, strong positive events that are characterized by both significantly warmer than normal WEIO and significantly colder than normal EEIO occasionally appear; something that is not found in the earlier two periods.

    It is interesting that the eastern pole sometimes cools among the strong warming trend over this region. In contrast to the surface warming trend of the Indian Ocean, Alory et al. (2007) found a subsurface cooling trend of the main thermocline over the Indonesian Throughflow region, that is, near EEIO, in 1960–99, the interval using the new Indian Ocean Thermal Archive. Thus, it can be speculated that water carried to the surface by upwelling during positive dipole events is becoming colder and results in a colder EEIO during positive events in recent decades. We also hypothesize that shoaling of the thermocline over the EEIO, corresponding to a subsurface cooling trend (Alory et al. 2007), can make this region more susceptible to the wind–thermocline feedback and leads to frequent occurrences of positive events in recent decades. Thus, the emergence of intense and frequent positive dipole events in recent decades may be speculated to have some connection to the trend of the climatic conditions over this region.

  22. 272
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Martin Vermeer 12 July 2009 at 9:15 AM:

    “To me that’s a giveaway that you don’t have a clue.”

    Elsewhere Edward has also said:

    “You don’t buy fuel every day for a nuclear power plant. The fuel is built in to the reactor and is part of the building cost. You remove and RECYCLE the fuel once every 10 years.”

    Going beyond being a gross oversimplification, this is just wrong, so wrong that it’s deceptive. There is a spectrum of fuel replacement methodologies in use w/commercial power reactors; a few reactors are essentially in a continuous refueling mode (RBMK, but let’s not go there), others are replenished on a periodic basis.

    Here’s a handy link describing typical scenarios in the U.S.:

    Edward I think is well intentioned but has let his enthusiasm carry him away. What I wish he’d do is confine his misinformation to the specific area of his enthusiasm. There is work to be done and needless friction is not helpful.

  23. 273

    Edward Greisch writes:

    142 Barton Paul Levenson: You must have gotten a price from the coal industry.
    Nuclear: 5.5 cents per kilowatt hour or 1.72 cents per kilowatt-hour or 1/3 cheaper than coal:

    When are your figures from, 1970? Nobody charges only 5.5 cents per kilowatt-hour these days, let alone 1.72.

  24. 274
    Mark says:

    ““One brownout in 10 years and you loose.”

    Hardly fair, since the power company has lots more than that.”

    Well, apart from it should be lose, what’s so bad about that?

    He’s insisting that nuclear is great. And the current rid system has a minority of power produced by nuclear AND has to deal with massive surges (which isn’t the case when it’s just one house rather than millions).

  25. 275
    Hank Roberts says:


    Constraints on the amplitude of Mid-Pliocene (3.6-2.4Ma) eustatic sea-level fluctuations from the New Zealand shallow-marine sediment record.
    Naish TR, Wilson GS.
    Philos Transact A Math Phys Eng Sci. 2009 Jan 13;367(1886):169-87.

    “… This paper presents a synthesis of faunally derived palaeobathymetric data for shallow-marine sedimentary cycles corresponding to marine isotope stages M2-100 (ca 3.4-2.4Ma). Our approach estimates the eustatic sea-level contribution to the palaeobathymetry curve by placing constraints on total subsidence and decompacted sediment accumulation. The sea-level estimates are consistent with those from delta18O curves and numerical ice sheet models, and imply a significant sensitivity of the WAIS and the coastal margins of the EAIS to orbital oscillations in insolation during the Mid-Pliocene period of relative global warmth. Sea-level oscillations of 10-30m were paced by obliquity.”

  26. 276
    Mark says:

    ““No cheating by adopting an energy conserving lifestyle or a heat pump. It has to be like most American houses.”

    Why? Seems like changing an energy-wasting lifestyle is the first thing – and the cheapest & easiest – to do.”


    1) it can just as easily be used for wind/solar, making it orthogonal to the test being done. One variable at a time
    2) accountants like Thuranga keep continuing the idea that change costs and this would then, in her estimation, be a cost. Either then used to not change the process or to be added on to the “cost” of any change thereafter.

  27. 277
  28. 278
    Doug Bostrom says:

    I must say, the Hyperion reactor Edward mentions is quite interesting. Edward has infected me with his enthusiasm; the notional simplicity of the device is pretty intriguing, very appealing. Can any of the ground-dwelling nuclear experts here comment on this idea?

    –What’s the probability it gets a license from the NRC?

    –When a unit is breached after statistics catch up with the thousands of reactors proposed to be deployed, what’s the downside? Hyperion proposes burial sequestration for operational units- does this restrict them to locations above ground water tables? Would the fuel be particularly mobile if it encounters ground water?

    –Is it reasonable to dismiss radiolysis effects in such a device?

    –For the circulating connection of the device to steam turbines, what challenges could we expect?

    –What will be entailed in reconditioning units returned to Hyperion for service? In particular are the material handling requirements for such a proposal realistic if the concept should enjoy commercial success, thus requiring Hyperion to reprocess hundreds of units per year? Would we expect the neutron flux inside such a device to induce radioactivity in the non-nuclear components of the reactor?

    Edward, in all kindness I’d rather hear from somebody else. Though I of course cannot stop you answering, please don’t bother replying on my account.

  29. 279
    Mark says:

    “Exactly what I think of G8 accords which are never really enforced :)”

    Y2K was worked on worldwide.

    CFCs was changed worldwide.

    Why the CERTAINTY that this won’t be actioned?

    The only reason I can think of is that Big Oil has more money to spend on making it not happen than white goods/fridge makers did.

  30. 280
    Chris Winter says:

    Mark (#131) writes:

    “Richard 103, people HAVE informed themselves. They’ve informed themselves of the current cut and paste arguments against AGW.

    They haven’t informed themselves of whether these arguments are *right*, mind.

    But that’s not their problem.”

    If people are repeating and/or defending bogus arguments, that is very much their problem. Especially when the stakes are as high as they are with AGW.

  31. 281
    Mark says:

    re Chris #280.

    It isn’t a problem in their eyes.

    As long as “debate” is still going on, even if it’s bogus debate, they can always point to “the science isn’t settled, so lets wait”.

    And the stakes are only high if you consider other people. The costs are bourne by the rich and the damage for not mitigating is not seen by them. After all, if it turns out that the rich man’s home is flooded and some poor person has the new beachfront property, he’ll just get it bought and make his new house on it.

  32. 282
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 273 – not that I am prone to agreeing with Edward Greisch, but those numbers are presumably before profit, or… Well, the number for coal seems about right, so far as I know, though it is much less than what anyone pays for retail electricity now.

    Industry gets the cheapest rates for electricity, but still more than the cost of producing coal electricity.

    The profit margin is not THAT great, is it?

    And yet the transmission/distribution costs do make up the difference.

    Where is the missing money? Anyone?

    (PS in terms of costs of replacement to maintain total generation capacity, solar power is also quite cheap – maybe 2 to 3 cents/kWh, or maybe even less, depending. In case that’s how the nuclear costs were figured (?)).

    Re 274 – I’m thinking that on site solar power generation would reduce the average transmitted electric power, so the same capacity could handle greater power variations in proportion to the total average power.

    Also, if the big solar power plants out west and some of the geothermal,hydroelectric,biofuel,and wind plants all connect to the same HVDC lines, the ratio of average to peak power transmission can be reduced along those lines by having geothermal,biofuel, and hydroelectric plants respond to variations in wind and solar.

    But fair point in 276, although some solar technologies are linked to energy efficiency so it might not be precisely orthogonal in all cases (?).

  33. 283
    David Horton says:

    #271 Thanks JIm.

  34. 284
    Hank Roberts says:

    Rob, don’t miss David Archer’s inline reply and link, added to your earlier question

    Nukees — please. Not here yet again. You’d be topical at, for example,

  35. 285
    save gaia says:

    Cost of nuclear waste do not go into account in recent comparsions with cost efficiency.

    Use industrial biochar production to relativate Co2 in the process of solar device construction.

  36. 286
    Jerry Toman says:

    David Horton,

    Nothing gets accomplished overnight–but if anything is to be accomplished, it will be because someone has done something, even on a small scale, that captures the imagination of the public–something that appears to them to be almost appears like magic.

    I can’t help but notice that the St. Vincents Gulf temperature now is 22 C, including something like a 3 C positive anomaly, whereas the normal winter air temperature in Adelaide may be something like 12 C. Using “cooling tower” calculations, I think it should be possible to heat up the air by contacting it with 22 C sea water raining through it to a temperature of at least 18 C. Such air, would also be 90+% saturated with water vapor, and due to the 2+% density difference between it and the surrounding air at 12 C, should be positively buoyant.

    A 25-50 m floating generator on the Gulf should be able to produce a “water spout” sized vortex which rises several kim, being visible due to the condensation within. Increases in precipitation downstream should be measurable.

    Still–not very practical at this size, but an “enduring waterspout” could be one helluva tourist attraction! Hopefully it might also serve to open some minds.

  37. 287
    Richard Steckis says:

    David Horton says:

    “#252 Thanks Richard, I was trying to keep it as simple as possible, and I am used to thinking in terms of Pacific Ocean, which does seem to have an effect in the east as well as the north. I also don’t know what effect rising ocean temps will have on the IOD, do you?”

    The IOD is the difference in sst between the tropical East Indian Ocean and the tropical West Indian Ocean ( If the tropical East Indian has a lower sst relative to the WIO then the IOD is in positive phase and rainfall is reduced in Southern Australia. There is an interaction between IOD and ENSO that affects Australian rainfall patterns ( If rising SSTs in the Indian Ocean affect the differential between the WIO and EIO then the weather patterns are accordingly affected. I can only assume that increasing SST will dampen the positive IOD in favour of neutral or negative IOD but I am probably wrong on that.

  38. 288
    save gaia says:

    @196 Patrick,
    Would there be a specific trend in certain specific wavelength?
    I ask this for the reason to test planets for growing civilizations.

  39. 289
    Jim Bouldin says:

    Richard (287): Dead links.

    If rising SSTs in the Indian Ocean affect the differential between the WIO and EIO then the weather patterns are accordingly affected. I can only assume that increasing SST will dampen the positive IOD in favour of neutral or negative IOD but I am probably wrong on that.

    According to the paper cited above (271), there is a concordance between rising SSTs and strength of the dipole over the last 130 years, and between positive IOD and ENSO events since 1950. Since we are now officially in an ENSO that is supposed to last through the austral summer, the likelihood of yet another dry year in the southeast seems good. Not good news obviously.

  40. 290

    Tue, 03 Feb 2009 is the date of the email from Hyperionpowergeneration. You have the URL and the email address. Ask them.

  41. 291
    James says:

    Hank Roberts says (12 Jul 2009 at 5:57 pm):

    “Nukees — please. Not here yet again.”

    How about the same for the anti-nukees? As in if they’d stop dragging in inflated cost estimates and such, I’d be more than happy not to have to point out how wrong they are :-)

  42. 292
    James says:

    Mark says (12 Jul 2009 at 2:08 pm):

    “Well, apart from it should be lose, what’s so bad about that?”

    You don’t want a fair test? Seems to me fair would mean the same performance as the grid over some suitable period, no?

    BTW, there’s already considerable operational experience with small-scale nuclear power. Consider radioisotope thermal generators: the ones on the Voyager probes have been running for something over three decades now, without maintenance or outages of any sort.

    “…AND has to deal with massive surges (which isn’t the case when it’s just one house rather than millions).”

    In fact, it’s just the other way around. One house tends to have much greater surges (as percentage of load), than the grid as a whole. As for example starting my table saw will dim the garage lights for a second.

  43. 293
    Chris Dudley says:

    Doug (#278)

    The Hyperion reactor uses uranium hydride for fuel, something that has not been used in commercial reactors. Because uranium hydride reacts violently with air or water, one can anticipate a similarly poor safety record as found with sodium cooled reactors except that since it would be the fuel reacting, one can expect guaranteed contamination of the environment with radioactive material, sort of like a dirty bomb. It is doubtful that installations of the sort envisioned by the company could be secured against a fairly simple security breach that would spread contaminants across a fairly broad area. Even on a military base, the extra effort needed to protect the reactor may well make it less useful than, say, a diesel generator. Certainly the planned frequent transport of the reactors could not possibly be secured at any reasonable cost owing to the nature of the fuel.

  44. 294
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #66 & “let’s not pretend there would be no cost in the short or medium term for reducing emissions. Oil, coal and gas are cheap; nuclear, solar, wind and biomass are currently more expensive. You can’t wish that fact away.”

    Well, the actual problem is that the externalities for that cheap fossil and nuclear fuel (not to mention gov subsidies and tax breaks) have not been factored in. Even if one were to exclude the externalities from GW (cost for GW harms), the other externalities, both enviro/health harms & military expenses & all the other stuff, plus cut the subsidies and tax breaks (don’t forget big oil/coal buy the politicos, who in turn provide these tax-breaks and subsidies), the cost for a gallon a gas may exceed $50 per gallon & coal-base electricity may be over $1 per KWH. That would then provide a level playing field for wind and solar, etc.

    Now let’s include the externalities for GW. Consider what price you might charge for all life on planet earth and its viability, divide that by the amount of fossil fuel used, and you’d get a whopping $infinity per gallon or KWH.

  45. 295
    Mark says:

    “You don’t want a fair test? Seems to me fair would mean the same performance as the grid over some suitable period, no?”

    It is a fair test.

    The position is that nuclear is good to go NOW.

    And NOW, such changes are not extant at his house. So he should disconnect from the grid and WITH NO OTHER CHANGES, put in place nuclear.

    This is fair.

    And brownouts? Well California encountered brownouts because the power companies wanted to up the price.

    Other forms of brownout is unexpected demand from other places and failures in the grid. There are also contractual agreements with bigger customers compared to residential. E.g. the hospital gets proority, as to police, fire, ambulance and the armed forces. Then big industry. Your home is right at the bottom of the list.

    First it’s his own house, so unexpected is not a problem. There’s no grid, so no grid to fail and he’s the only customer.

    So that seems fair too: if his system has no better brownout resistance under such perfect conditions, it will be worse under real ones.

  46. 296
    Richard Steckis says:

    Jim Bouldin says:

    “Richard (287): Dead links.”

    My apologies. The closing bracket is not supposed to be part of the URL. Just delete the close bracket and the link works.

  47. 297
    Chris Dudley says:

    David (in #123),

    Thanks for the response. That is an interesting idea about tipping forward but not back. Surely, a serious loss of altitude in Greenland would not be recovered but presumably cutting the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air would avoid that. If the American Pika were to go extinct while we have not yet cut the concentration, then that would seem to be irreversible.

  48. 298
    Martin Vermeer says:

    #278, #293, Doug, Chris:
    a relevant link on UH3:

    While using up my welcome here on an OT subject, I must say that the Hyperion reactor concept made my neck hairs stand up. This is a nuclear materials control nightmare. The first production run is 4000 reactors… and those must be transported (by road? By ship? By air??) to, and five years later, back from, their respective deployment sites, packed with hot waste. Thousands of compact, stealable objects travelling around the globe. Shudder.

  49. 299
    Doug Bostrom says:

    James 13 Jul 2009 at 12:40 am

    Agreed. In my case I “react violently” to hyperbole intended to deceive. There’s scads of actual information to draw on in making the case for one technology versus another, exaggerations and distortions just lead to degeneracy, cultural dementia. In my case they’re directly counterproductive, making me suspicious. Something genuinely virtuous can stand on its own merits without recourse to deceptive assassinations of alternatives.

    Chris Dudley 13 Jul 2009 at 7:19 am

    Thanks, that’s the sort of detail I was wondering about. The self-modulating nature of the reactor is very attractive, from an engineer’s perspective it’s positively seductive. My concerns are the same as yours, basically a matter of worry over statistics. It still seems like a marvelous idea for particular contexts, like so many others. Same as an RTG- indispensable in certain situations.

  50. 300
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 288 (save gaia) – I’m not quite sure what you mean.