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Climate Services

Filed under: — rasmus @ 9 September 2009

I recently attended the World Climate Conference-3 (WCC-3), hosted by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Geneva. Most of the talk was of providing “climate services” (CS) and coordinating these globally. But what are climate services, and how much of what was envisaged is scientifically doable?

Climate services is a fairly new term that involves the provision of climate information relevant for adaptation to climate change and climatic swings, long-term planning, and facilitating early warning systems (EW).

CS includes both data describing past and future climate, and usually involves downscaling to provide information on regional and local scales. It can be summarised by the contents of (also see this link to an article discussing the US National Climate services).

It was stressed during WCC-3 that CS must not only communicate relevant information, but this information must also be ‘translated’ to non-expert in a way that it can be acted upon.

One concern expressed during WCC-3 was that global climate models still do not give a sufficiently accurate description of the regional and local aspects of the climate. The models also have serious limitations when they are to be used for seasonal and decadal forecasting. Climate models were originally designed to provide the large picture of our climate system, and the fact that ENSO, cyclones, various wave phenomena (observed in the real world) appear in the model output – albeit with differences in details – give us increased confidence that they capture real physical processes. For climate prediction, these details, often caricatured by the models, must be more accurate.

Although the dynamical aspects and regional scales are important, one must keep in mind that the atmospheric radiative transfer atmospheric models represent the core of the theory behind AGW, and that AGW involves longer time scales. Few scientists seriously doubt these radiative transfer models, which are closely related to the algorithms used in remote sensing, e.g. by satellites, to calculate temperatures. If one interprets the the New Scientist report from the WCC-3 as that the situation is no longer as dire previously thought, then one is in for a big disappointment. The sentiment is rather that climate change is unavoidable, and that we need to establish tools in order to plan and deal with the problems.

There are some signs, however, that biases and systematic errors in the global climate models (GCMs) can be reduced by increasing the spatial (and temporal) resolution, or by including a realistic representation of the stratosphere. Problems associated with the description of local and regional climates cannot merely be corrected through downscaling.

One concern was that the bit of code called ‘parametrisation’ (employed in the models to describe the bulk effect of physical processes taking place over a spatial scale too small for the model grid) may not be sufficiently good for the job of simulating all local climatic aspects. For this reason, there was a call for a globally coordinated effort in providing computer resources and climate simulation.

Some speakers stressed the importance of a truly global set of climate observation. In this context, it’s also crucial to share data without restrictions, in addition to aiding poor countries to make high quality measurements.

Although the focus during the WCC-3 was on adaptation, it was also stressed that mitigation is still a must, if we are to avoid serious climate calamities. It was concluded that we must move from a ‘Catastrophe handling’ strategy to a ‘Risk management’ policy.

One sad example showing that we are not there yet, was the forecasted June-August 2008 floods over the western/central Africa. It was the first time in history when Red Cross/Crescent launched a pre-emptive appeal based on a forecast. Unfortunately, there was a lack of willingness to donate funds before a disaster had taken place, and sadly, the forecasts turned out to be fairly accurate. The question is whether we are doing the same mistake when it comes to climate change.

Webcasts from the conference have been posted on the WMO WCC-3 web site. In addition to the science, a number of speakers discussed politics. There is also a new book – Climate Senses – that has recently been published for the WCC-3, dealing with climate predictions and information for decision making

201 Responses to “Climate Services”

  1. 101
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Aaron Lewis, You are mixing up science–in which conservative analyses must err on the low side–and engineering–where conservatism requires the analyses to bound from above. Both are needed. However, if you confuse them, you’ll get very confused policy makers.

  2. 102
    David B. Benson says:

    Andrew Hobbs (99) — Parts of the world are in extermis: North India, Nepal and Kenya come immediately to mind for this season; in prior ones parts of Eastern Europe had difficulties and other parts of Africa much worse ones. Not sure exactly how North China is doind, but from what I read it does not seem to be going well.

    Lets start greening portions of some deserts. If we can make the problems go away we can always stop desalinating and pumping water; the deserts rapidly revert to approximately their current state.

  3. 103
    Aaron Lewis says:

    #100: G,
    There is already way too much science for any young scientist to learn.

    We do not want to put the engineers out of work.

    Engineers and scientists have different jobs. Each should do their own job. Then,they cross check each other’s work.

  4. 104
    jyyh says:

    Re:Forestation… Preservation of the so-called natural habitats (remember f.e. the Pacific gyre of plastic waste) is well done, but what about those areas that are experiencing possibly climate related devastation by natural pests and overexploitation by humans, such as the Rocky mountain pine beetle outbreaks, dropping levels of many aquifiers around the world? Shouldn’t these areas be restored to sustainable ecosystems, what ever they might in future be?

  5. 105
    Donald Oats says:

    Without getting into the question of whether it is good or bad to do it, what kind of plants can build groundcover in the Australian South and South East deserts? What kind of trees and shrubs can handle the many 40+ degrees Celcius days, without dying from the stress? As an example of the kind of climates we need to deal with, a mining town in Western Australia called Marble Bar, boasts a record 161 consecutive days above the 100 degrees Fahrenheit mark – see the Guinness Book of Records. It has never been below 0 degrees Celcius since records began. It’s a tough plant that can manage conditions like that.

    In the 1970’s efforts were made in South Australia to “reintroduce” native flora on a large scale. That effort showed how difficult it is to do properly. On another blog site we had a recent discussion about preparing trees for planting in South Australia. The success rate was around 15%, meaning only 15% of trees survived.

    I personally like the idea of trying to re-establish plantlife and forests where they once were, but I suspect that much of South Australia would be too harsh an environment to make much headway. Catch 22 really, in that well-established forests change the local environment, but a harsh environment works against establishing that forest in the first place.

  6. 106
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Aaron #92:
    > we put in safety factors of 10, 100, or even a thousand
    …and you can do the same with sea level projections. It’s easy: project 80 m for 2100… there just isn’t more land ice. Find out how useful policy makers would find that…
    What you don’t understand is that doing that isn’t the IPCC’s mandate. And this isn’t the way science is done.
    Sigh. I’ve pointed this out now three times… have the last word if you like. Doesn’t mean you’re right.

  7. 107

    25 Dennis Baker: The best that can be done by replacing coal with other sources of electricity is a 39% cut in CO2 production and that happens ONLY if we go to nuclear power. Wind, solar, geothermal and hydro all require more concrete and much longer transmission lines than nuclear. Note that spent nuclear fuel is recyclable.

  8. 108
    Andrew Hobbs says:

    David (#102), They are certainly stressed but I do not consider that the world in general is ‘in extremis’. When all aircraft are grounded, power generation from coal has stopped or extremely limited to only producing sufficient for food production, use of liquid fuels are used only for food production etc. That is ‘in extremis’. Anything earlier and all you are doing is sacrificing ecosystems to allow some people to continue their carbon rich lifestyle.

    That is my view.

  9. 109

    #98 llewelly

    This can be a tough crowd ;)

    While I was suggesting that Fred ‘could’ become more significant, I did not mean to say it absolutely would.

    …and I almost wrote in post #83, if Fred moves north to cooler waters, it dies, if more west it strengthens… then one can add if it goes wnw it hits the trough, cools down… then if it survives the trough and hits the warmer water on the other side… goes… et cetera

    I guess I was too lazy or figured most here understand the complications. There are still so many possibilities. If Fred, or any hurricane makes it to the gulf and rolls over the toasty waters…

    But yes, sheer, sand, jetstream, pressure zones, depth of warm surface layer, sunspots, galactic cosmic rays, alien landings at Roswell, the iris effect, red matter (saw that in Star Trek this year, etc… lots of stuff to consider.

  10. 110
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Edward Greisch again #105:
    > Note that spent nuclear fuel is recyclable.
    Pray tell how to recycle 90Sr. An old lie, and off-topic. Don’t you ever give up?

  11. 111
    Hank Roberts says:

    Martin, don’t _ask_ him to explain, that’s just inviting him to keep disrupting the thread. He knows if he wants discussion he can always point to it, it’s going on at Barry Brooks’s site:

    Grumble. Sorry. More coffee needed.

  12. 112
    Ike Solem says:

    You know, there are a number of schemes cooked up by the coal and oil lobby for inclusion in the climate bill that have serious problems, and it directly relates to much of the conversation on this thread. The problem is this:

    Setting up “biomass sequestration” projects in Third World countries and claiming that this allows U.S. coal plants to continue operation without adding CO2 to the atmosphere is scientific gibberish.

    The essential issue here is that is fossil CO2, not recycled CO2, that coal plants add to the atmosphere. As ocean acidification shows, the important variable is the total amount of carbon circulating through the atmosphere, oceans and biosphere. Slow burial in sediments & peatlands over thousands to millions of years is the only natural carbon removal mechanism; those buried sediments in the right geological arena generate petroleum and other fossil fuels.

    Thus, you have to get rid off most of the “carbon offset” mechanisms included in the latest version of the U.S. climate bill, or you are just talking scientific nonsense.

    However, the focus on ‘clean coal carbon capture and sequestration’ is also scientific nonsense, so the government really has no problem passing off gibberish as scientific fact. This can most clearly be seen in the “natural gas vs. clean coal with carbon capture” debate. Proponents of coal say that the latter is better.

    However, even the most clueless chemist would note that it is going to be far easier to capture carbon from natural gas combustion than from coal combustion – in fact, if you wanted a prototype carbon capture and sequestration system, you’d start with natural gas, because the emission stream is so much cleaner – no sulfur, arsenic, mercury, uranium, etc. to deal with, and no large particulates either. So, why isn’t carbon capture being touted for natural gas combustion?

    The reason is that carbon capture is a fraud that is only promoted by the coal industry and several greenwashed oil companies in order to continue business-as-usual, especially in the Canadian tar sands, which the State Department just took a big step to promote by offering a permit for a U.S. export pipeline.

    Take a look at the petroleum side of “carbon capture” – all the sponsors have investments in dirty Canadian tar sand oil and similar heavy sour oil projects that are sure to result in even more carbon emissions per gallon of gasoline produced than at present:

    DOE, the EU and a Norwegian government group are ‘partners’ on that piece of greenwashing propaganda, along with BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ENI, Petrobras, Shell, StatoilHydro and Suncor – carbon capture is everyone’s favorite PR line.

    On the coal side of the fossil fuel equation, see this recent press release from the DOE/FutureGen ‘public-private partnership.’

    Next-generation clean coal initiative FutureGen has inked a deal with the US Department of Energy (DoE) that will see the initiative take on a greater share of the funding burden.

    The FutureGen Alliance, which will create a pilot clean coal plant and carbon sequestration facility in Illinois, was originally meant to have 11 members. However, the Alliance agreed to increase that number to 20, and to seek more external funding.

    The sweetener for the deal is a $17.3m (£10.6m) shared cost Co-operative Agreement with the DoE, which will carry the plant through preliminary design activities.

    No one is ever going to apply this non-existent technology to the hundreds of coal plants in the U.S., in Britain, in China, or in India. There will be no lucrative technology transfer deals based on intellectual property. That’s because it doesn’t work.

    Even the FutureGen operators have no plans to keep their ‘research project’ in operation – so far, the plan is to sell off the plant components as soon as the ‘research’ is over (they appear to be the same components used in coal-to-gasoline plants)

    The current U.S. government response to global warming ranges from the deceptive to the ineffective, and that simply needs to change. We may need to look to China and other nations for realistic and plausible strategies, for example:

    The Chinese government is readying a feed-in tariff (FIT) for utility-scale solar plants that will dwarf the country’s previous solar subsidies, and drive a wave of investment into the sector, according to Suntech.

    If you want to pursue carbon capture, forget about using it to mitigate fossil fuels – BUT, it can be used to generate hydrocarbon fuels from atmospheric and oceanic CO2, and even, eventually, to convert CO2 to stable chemical forms like graphite.

    Current CO2 capture/sequestration research (like the 19 coal-based projects approved by the DOE on Aug 25) is useless for this purpose.

  13. 113
    Hank Roberts says:

    Climate service example:

    “… While satellites provide accurate and expansive coverage of ice in the Arctic Ocean, the records are relatively new. Satellites have only monitored sea ice extent since 1973. NASA’s Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) has been on the task since 2003, allowing researchers to estimate ice thickness as well.

    To extend the record, Kwok and Drew Rothrock of the University of Washington, Seattle, recently combined the high spatial coverage from satellites with a longer record from Cold War submarines to piece together a history of ice thickness that spans close to 50 years.

    Analysis of the new record shows that since a peak in 1980, sea ice thickness has declined 53 percent. “It’s an astonishing number,” Kwok said. The study, published online August 6 in Geophysical Research Letters, shows that the current thinning of Arctic sea ice has actually been going on for quite some time….”


    Hat tip to Sekerob over at Tamino’s for that.

  14. 114
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Hank #111, :-)

  15. 115

    #109 John, about #90. Well , at least you tried to set the record correctly. However being correct, for contrarians, is an after thought….

    #115, Hank Satellites are fine,

    But I measured +0.5 C with my thermometer at sea by Cornwallis Island,
    having more measurements wont hurt.

    Deja Vu

    Satellites are fine:

    But the vast larger part of Barrow and Cornwallis was Ice free in August, with sail boat and catamaran reaching it . Hard to see how they made it with this map… Submarines had it right, glad to see that they are useful for peaceful purposes.

  16. 116
    David B. Benson says:

    Donald Oats (105) — I will suggest considering Acacia species as potentially suitable. The plan is to water the trees, which should help with the heat stress.

    Andrew Hobbs (108) — People are starving in Nepal, tha’s not “in extremis”? People are dying of thirst, not to mention hunger, in Kenya.

    In addition the coastal BC black bears have almost all died due to the failure of the chum salmon runs. Not “in extremis”? Not a ecosystem change.

    Farmers in North India, maybe also in Murray-Darling, committing suicide, occasioned by crop failure from lack of water. Not “in extermis”?

    A “green the deserts” plan takes years to put into place. Far better to begin at once.

  17. 117
    Hank Roberts says:

    > acacia

    > water the trees
    Until someone doesn’t, then they burn. Artificial tree farms especially outside the natural range of the plants can’t replace ecosystems, because they require services that aren’t available reliably.

    Show me a plan that first saves the forests — and the ecosystems — in the Amazon and Canada and Siberia, and lets them get back to their mature state in a couple of centuries. Nothing could work faster than that.

    And don’t worry all that much about the beetles because there’s nothing much humans can do about them. But they’re sure to provide a boom in woodpeckers.

    Ike says, wisely
    > you have to get rid off most of the “carbon offset” mechanisms included
    > in the latest version of the U.S. climate bill, or you are just talking
    > scientific nonsense.

    Amen. Back before I got a clue about how big climate problems were, I was doing preservation (acres of temperate rainforest) and restoration (forest fire rehab) on my own account with my own money, starting in the 1970s. Even then I picked property above the geologically most recent high sea level stand, thinking longterm, knowing melting was coming.

    I just got offered roughly $30,000 to commit ten acres of that 2nd growth rainforest to a carbon offset program — a onetime payment for a 100-year commitment to specified timber stocking. They’d resell that to someone who wanted to buy a carbon offset, after documenting it and recording a land use plan, and taking a percentage.


    On the one hand it looks like a good program — better than people logging everything off their property. On the other, leaving it alone makes it wildlife habitat instead of tree-farm. And that amount wouldn’t likely even pay the county taxes for the period of the commitment.

    But that’s ecosystem services, not climate services. I keep thinking there has to be some way a mature wildlife habitat can pay its own taxes and be left alone. But that’s Stone’s old failed argument from “Should Trees Have Standing” — the law didn’t go that way.

    France seems to be getting this right. Carbon tax.

  18. 118
    Hank Roberts says:

    Oh, for the record, that’s

    Read it and think about the parallel universe in which that was the path taken.

  19. 119
    David B. Benson says:

    Acacia grows in Australia and also in the Negev desert:

  20. 120

    Daivd B. Benson: you’re doing a good job of convincing several of us that the trees thing is not viable.

    #112 Ike Solem: I recently did a search on carbon sequestration schemes and as I recall found 4 that were at least full-scale demonstration projects, and they were all natural gas power plants. The likelihood that the concept will work at acceptable cost with dirty fuel sources like coal is low. You need to pre-process the fuel (e.g. coal gasification) to stand a reasonable chance, which adds another whole slew of problems.

    This takes me back to an earlier observation. Almost every major change in the energy economy requires solving hard engineering problems. At least renewables get rid of another intractable problem: coping with depletion of fuel. So why bother with all this other junk, unless you are in the business of profiting from depletion of fuel? (Hint: check what happens to earnings of oil producers at times of shortage.)

  21. 121
    GlenFergus says:


    Please stop now David. You’re way OT, and you clearly know little about inland Australia. Less about the engineering and agricultural challenges of irrigation there.

    1. Water is a viscous fluid. When moving it huge distances to deliver to individual trees, friction is the dominant energy term. It can exceed gravity by one or two orders in a flat place like Australia.
    2. Inland Aus soils are salty, poorly structured and ancient. Phosphorous from where? Salt leached to where? By what gradient?
    3. Evap there is about 3m. So why would 0.5m of irrig. be sufficient? Some wild optimism about increased humidity? Hint again: Insolation is the dominant term. You need clouds, not humidity, to reduce evap.
    4. Inland Aus burns whenever there’s biomass to burn. Lightning ignition is ubiquitous. And you prevent that with 0.5m?
    5. Notoryctes typhlops is vastly more interesting than Ursus arctos. Leave the poor bugger alone.]


  22. 122
    David B. Benson says:

    Philip Machanick (120) — Viable: feasible; capable of being done with means at hand and circumstances as they are.

    Certainly the means are at hand and the circumstances even require some greening of some deserts. On the other hand, the viability of coal CCS has yet to be demonstrated, it seems.

  23. 123

    David Oats, #10:

    David B. Benson already mentioned Acacia – which was also explicitly mentioned in our paper (you really ought to read it!).

    In the early stages of establishing a forest in a desert, watering demands per unit leaf area will be much higher than when the forest is fairly mature. But the total leaf area will be much smaller. The irrigation system has to be built to satisfy the much larger demands of the mature forest, so although more water has to be ‘wasted’ per tree, during establishment – for example, to keep the saplings cool – that ‘waste’ ends up being only a small part of the maintenance costs, averaged over decades. In general, all costs during establishment will run higher, but become ‘unimportant’ when amortized over a decade or more. Such costs include some soil preparation for each sapling; some shelter – and most importantly, careful monitoring of the health of the crop – to avoid the miserable success rates (15%) that you quote.

  24. 124
    David Horton says:

    #117 Hank do you have a link/reference for “Stone’s old failed argument from “Should Trees Have Standing”” please.

  25. 125
    Thomas says:

    Another issue with afforestation, or indeed any free air capture form of geoengineering, is that it is the time integral of past capture that matures, not the current rate (I’m assuming we’ve hit some sort of warming based climate ememrgency, here). The only geoengineering schemes that cam rapidly cool the planet, should we see ourselves entering an emergency period are the short wave (I think this is now called SRM Solar Radiation Management). Schemes that rely upon gradual removal of CO2, are useful, but will take a long time to have an effect.

    I want to put in my two cents on the issue of offsets. I share the concern about the reality of the offsets -will the carbon really be sequestered longterm? But, I think we have a different nerterm issue. That issue involves being able to get some sort of global climate pact signed within the next couple of years. Lacking that, and we are screwed. And, I think the key is getting to most recalitrant big economy on board, and that country is the US. I’d much rather have some serious compromises at this point than no bill whatsoever. The former situation is far from the ideal, but the later outcome is a complete disaster. And I think we are quite close to that outcome. So, I’m prepared to compromise a lot, just to get something started.

  26. 126
    David Horton says:

    #119 David you know Acacia is a big and varied genus with species in all kinds of different habitats across Australia, right?

  27. 127
    Richard Steckis says:

    David B. Benson says:
    12 September 2009 at 5:09 PM

    Acacia grows in Australia and also in the Negev desert:

    David. Acacias are native to Australia and Southern Africa. I think those in the Negev desert are introduced (although I could be wrong). They are also notoriously slow growing with only a shrubby habit in desert areas but some species assume a significant tree habit in more temperate and high rainfall zones (e.g. Golden Wattle in Australia).

  28. 128
    Richard Steckis says:

    #121 GlenFergus,

    Hear Hear Glen.

  29. 129
    Richard Steckis says:

    #119 David B. Benson.

    David. On further investigation, it seems that the Negev Acacias are native to that region. This means that geographic range of the family is much wider than I thought.

  30. 130
    Pekka Kostamo says:

    Maybe OT, but president Sarkozy is proposing a national CO2 tax system not unlike the one proposed by Jim Hansen. Much more complicated of course.

  31. 131
  32. 132
    Ray Ladbury says:

    I find it interesting the response David Benson’s link to the reforestation article has generated. While I too am skeptical, it does raise fact that we will eventually have to adopt some significant and probably unpalatable strategies if we are to get through the projected maximum human population of 9 billion people without a massive crash.

    We are overstretching our environment already, and we do not know how flexible it will be. Ultimately, environmentalism may be confronted with a question not of how we preserve ecosystems, but of which ones we can sacrifice in the name of our own survival. And of course, the longer we wait to take action, the more unpalatable our options will be.

  33. 133
    Ike Solem says:

    Thomas says: “That issue involves being able to get some sort of global climate pact signed within the next couple of years. Lacking that, and we are screwed.”

    Well, I’m sure the permafrost carbon is eagerly awaiting the outcome of Copenhagen before it decides how to respond to the current Arctic temperature increase.

    You can’t ‘roll back’ global warming – all you can do, at present, is stop altering the atmospheric composition via fossil fuel combustion. This means we’ll have to adapt to the first tier of global warming effects – drought and flooding and severe weather in once-productive agricultural regions being perhaps the main concern, as well as massive species extinction due to rapid habitat loss.

    A pact to eliminate fossil fuel combustion is really what is needed, but political cowardice at the international level keeps that off the table – instead, we have scientifically dubious and unsubstantiated proposals like coal carbon sequestration and biomass carbon offsets.

    This is just a delaying game. In the end, the elimination of coal and oil and gas as energy sources is needed – well before they run out (Complete exploitation of global fossil fuel reserves would push CO2 up to 1500 ppm plus). That of course requires an extremely ambitious renewable energy infrastructure program to replace that energy demand – not the band-aid solutions being proffered at the federal U.S. level.

  34. 134
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Here’s an idea for biochar & sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere. I don’t have any idea about the feasiblity, but why green deserts (or perhaps in addition to doing so), when we could take all the yard waste in very vegetative productive areas, like South Texas, and turn it into biochar. You see tons and tons of yard waste (palm & live oak branches, shrub trimmings) on the curbs in our neighborhoods every 5 weeks to be hauled away by the city — and I think turned into mulch. We have a 5 foot high pile of such right now in our front yard just waiting to be hauled.

    They say in our area, if you plant your foot, it might grow a body, so productive is our vegetation (except in July-August when it’s very hot). But the moringa tree keeps growing — nothing, not drought, not flood, not poor soil, nothing can stop it from growing, shooting up 30 feet in a few years. Since it also provides good food (leaves and drumsticks), my husband has been loathe to include it in our yard waste pile, but now we’re going to throw a bunch of branches on, make it into a 6 foot pile.

    Why not have some very very low CO2 emitting biochar thingies in each city that hauls away such massive amounts of yard waste that would not only produce char pellets to be plowed into agri lands (increasing their productivity), but also uses the energy it captures to run the process, and captures other useful byproducts? Such tech exists, but I don’t know how expensive it would be, and whether selling the biochar soil amendment to local seed&feed and garden shops might help offset its costs.

  35. 135
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    BTW, I provide this free climate service. I tell people that they better shape up and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, or we all may have to ship out to oblivion. Of course, no one listens, even tho it’s free.

  36. 136

    Just for the record, my comment did not show up on Accuweather’s website.

    I’m guessing that the blog owner (of that item) is Joe Bastardi.

    Maybe in this case it is Accubias

    My comment as follows:


    The graph to which you are referring (Monckton graph) is a misrepresentation of data. The IPCC trend is a 100 year trend line that has been misrepresented and juxtaposed against a short term cooling trend that is within the bounds of natural variation.

    Joe Bastardi essentially used Lord Moncktons arguments which have already been debunked. You can see the graph Joe Bastardi used on the two top web page links below.

    Monckton Debunk Page OSS

    Monckton Debunk Page RealClimate

    PDF Debunk of Monckton argument

  37. 137

    Acacias are also native to the Sahel and all of northern Africa. Some are very fast growing, when the water supply is adequate. And they are legumes, so they add soluble nitrogen to the soil which other plants get to use.

    GlenFergus, #121:

    If you’ll read our paper, you’ll learn that the GCM runs robustly demonstrate that the forests generate considerable cloudiness as well as rain!

    As mentioned above, during establishment (before the forest can change the local climate) soil preparation (including some local ‘fertilization’) and ‘excess’ irrigation will be required to support the ‘new crop’.

  38. 138
    don says:

    I’m curious, do you brave people get your climate service funding from George Sorros,, and the Daily Kos?

    [Response: No. I’m curious though why anyone would deliberately spread such a silly lie. – mike]

  39. 139
    Hank Roberts says:

    David Horton — the link is in #118.

    Acacias — achoo! Nasty allergy problem from those, at least in California.
    But seriously, someone should do the tradeoff comparing restoring the Amazon and Canadian and Siberian forests, versus creating new ones in Australia.

    Less money flowing into Australia, more money flowing into the Amazon — how’s that sound?

  40. 140
    David B. Benson says:

    GlenFergus (121) — Leonard Ornstein et al. suggested the Australian Outback, not me. I propose starting in Tunisia and Mauritania.

    David Horton (126) — Yes, after reading the Wikipedia article. Acacias have been introduced in the American Southwest.

    Richard Steckis (127) — Despite being slow growing, starting with some Acacia species might the best in very dry deserts.

    Thomas (125) — Yes, slow and fairly safe. So we ought to start now. Since some parts of the world already have or can forsee emergencies and this will obviously spread.

    All — Another scheme is so-called artificial trees with CO2 sequestratiion in ultra-mafic rock, or even in under ocean basalt. I think this would work and might be less expensive than greening deserts. There is no pilot project AFAIK. I don’t know how to even approximately price such a scheme.

    Every method I have looked at, and can approximately price, for actually permanently removing the ecess carbon from the active carbon cycle always comes in at a price which, if supplied by a carbon tax, about doubles the cost of coal. Is an equitable climate worth that?

  41. 141
    Ike Solem says:

    Philip M says:

    “Ike Solem: I recently did a search on carbon sequestration schemes and as I recall found 4 that were at least full-scale demonstration projects, and they were all natural gas power plants.”

    I’ve seen these kinds of claims before, and they’re always characterized by a lack of names or specifics – it’s just a completely dishonest claim, probably made for PR purposes. Flat-out lying to further one’s agenda – that’s not exactly surprising, this is the fossil fuel lobby we’re talking about. There’s also the issue of putting “full-scale” next to “demonstration” – but one thing you can be sure of, the performance characteristics of these demonstration projects are not going to be made publicly available, and they’ll be hidden from FOIA requests because they are being run by the “private partners” of the DOE. It really seems to be a massive fraud that will never be implemented at any scale.

    For example, I would expect CO2 capture booster Chevron to include a carbon capture and sequestration scheme for their new giant $42 billion Gorgon natural gas project in Australia. They intend to liquefy the gas (by burning gas to power the process) and ship it to China and other local regions – which will result in massive on-site CO2 emissions.

    But wait!

    Chevron has a plan to capture and sequester all that carbon – carbon capture, in their words, is “safe” and “cost-effective”. Likewise, they are only selling their liquefied gas to consumers who have natural gas plants that capture all their emissions – they are, after all, a model of “corporate responsibility” and that is seen by their public-private partnership with the DOE, the EU, ConocoPhilips, BP and some other fossil fuel companies:

    So, it really is exciting to see that their new Gorgon gas project – as well as their Canadian tar sands projects – are going to include full-scale carbon capture and sequestration.

    April Fools Day!

  42. 142
    David B. Benson says:

    Ray Ladbury (132) — Indeed. If you are skeptical, kindly work out preliminary cost figures for air capture from aritifical trees. Then add about $7 per tonne of CO2 for injection into ultra-mafic rock formations. We need to try that as well and we have no time to lose.

    Ike Solem (133) — Actually, it is conceivable, although expensive, to lower CO2 concentrations once we all stop the emission of additional fossil based CO2. For example, deeply bury biochar.

    Lynn Vincentnathan (134) — Good plan. Every little bit helps. Make it happen!

  43. 143
    David B. Benson says:

    Here is an older paper on air capture, but at least there are cost estimates.

    Capturing Carbon Dioxide From Air
    (click on first entry)

    The paper suggests about $20 per tonne of CO2 captured. However, I am unable to locate any followup paper, just a press release.
    First Successful Demonstration of Carbon Dioxide Air Capture Technology Achieved
    as well as the similar one from Univ. Calgary.

    So use the above figure with an additional $7 per tonne for sequestration. With emissions of about 37 gigatonnes per year, that’s about one trillion dollars per year to remove all emissions.

  44. 144
    Hank Roberts says:

    Joe Bastardi:

    “Common sense dictates that a trace gas needed for life on the planet would not be the cause for destroying life on the planet.”

    I refute him thus:

  45. 145

    Lynn’s idea probably should count as a “stabilization wedge.” I did some informal research a few months back, and the amounts of waste wood in America’s urban areas is enough to provide something like 10% of electrical demand (IIRC), if it’s burnt as biofuel. So the amount of char could be quite sizable. Of course, you’ve got a lot of trucking of waste wood to do, with concomitant carbon footprint, but the wood gets trucked around to whatever disposal method is used anyway.

  46. 146
    David Horton says:

    #138 Thanks Hank, my eyes saw, but the eye-brain link was running slowly yesterday!

  47. 147
    Ray Ladbury says:

    David, The indigenous tribes have been fighting a losing battle against the advance of the Sahara for decades if not centuries. All I’m saying is that I don’t think that trend will be easy to reverse, and that we could make things worse by trying. I planted trees in Africa in the Sahel. The survival rate was low. Ecosystems are complex entities. You know this. I’m not saying dismiss it out of hand, but give it the same respect you would any other geoengineering project.

  48. 148
    David Horton says:

    #138 “restoring the Amazon and Canadian and Siberian forests, versus creating new ones in Australia” versus restoring forests/woodlands in Australia.

    By the way the link at #118 seems to be only to a part of the very interesting Stone paper – it ends abruptly.

  49. 149
    David B. Benson says:

    Ray Ladbury (147) — Sure, but starting some pilot projects near the sea coasts in Tunisia and Mauritania would help by starting the learning curve and settling the actual costs. Both are so far from the Sahel as to have no effect initially.

  50. 150
    Hank Roberts says:

    David H, keep googling, you may find more; Interlibrary Lo-an can get you a copy of the whole book.