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AGU 2011: Day 5 and wrap-up

Filed under: — group @ 11 December 2011

(Day 1)(Day 2)(Days 3&4)

After 5 days, there is a definite slowdown in energy, desire to ask questions and attendance. But there were still a lot of good talks to be seen. Perhaps most relevant here were a few sessions talking about initial results from the CMIP5 models and the data with which they are being assessed. Overall, most comparisons to the CMIP3 models showed that despite substantial improvements in resolution, completeness, and scope, the CMIP5 models do not show any dramatic differences at the broad-scale diagnostics (global means etc.).

This is not particularly surprising, since it is expected that the importance of the new simulations will be seen in the differences between model types (i.e. including carbon cycles, atmospheric chemistry etc.), or in new kinds of diagnostics from say, the initialized decadal predictions, that weren’t available before.

Looking back at the whole meeting (20,000+ scientists, dozens of simultaneous sessions), it is perhaps worth noting the reasons why such meetings are so important. Obviously, no-one can see everything that is relevant to their research, or talk to everyone they might want to, but there is a lot that can be seen and absorbed much more efficiently than would be possible at home. The social aspect of conferences is also important – beer is an essential lubricant for geophysicists it seems. More important than the sessions are often the chance encounters on the escalators or corridors. Many people get to meet in person who only ever emailed – and this includes other bloggers as well as scientists. We met Eli Rabett, John Cook (Skeptical Science), Zeke Hausfather, Kate @ ClimateSight, Steve Easterbrook, and many others who are only known by their screen names and comments. Many of the scientists whose work has been discussed here recently were also present – Andreas Schmittner, Robert Rohde (of BEST), Jim Hansen, Ben Santer, Roy Spencer, along with many, many first timers whose work will become more prominent. The palpable sense of excitement at the directions the science is taking is very much driven by the bright ideas and new approaches being generated by the younger scientists – including undergraduates and graduate students. And it is the serendipitous encounters with these new voices that are the most unanticipated (and unplanned) benefits of these meetings. This doesn’t happen with Skype unfortunately.

We know that we didn’t see everything we wanted to, so if any other attendees are reading this, we encourage them to point out in the comments any particular highpoints they came across – especially if the talks were part of those broadcast, or if the poster is available on-line.


75 Responses to “AGU 2011: Day 5 and wrap-up”

  1. 1
    Anteros says:

    The Charney lecture sounded interesting. It was given by Graeme Stevens and concerned cloud feedbacks. It was highlighted at Judy Curry’s blog and can be seen here –
    http://sites.agu.org/fallmeeting/scientific-program/lectures/bowie-and-named-lectures/6dec/.

    It sounded like a lot was crammed in to five days. Roy Spencer was obviously distracted because the UAH November anomaly is a week late…[perhaps only relevant to those of us who gamble Quatloos on the result at Lucia’s Blackboard.. :)]

    Does anyone know how well the science was represented at Durban?

  2. 2
    Sou says:

    Just to say thank you for highlighting these sessions. I’m working through the videos available – across many of the areas covered (not just climate science).

    It’s a wonderful opportunity to see research in progress and in much more detail and with many more nuances than you can get from reading a paper in a journal. And to get a glimpse of what is likely to be published soon (subject, presumably, to review). And to put a face to all the famous names we associate with science – and those who are maybe on the way to being famous :D

  3. 3
    Craig Nazor says:

    Anteros,

    About the talks in Durban, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri recently said, “Actually, to be honest, nobody over here [at COP 17] is paying any attention to science.” I think the noise of money and power still continues to overpower the sounds of science far too easily.

    However, there was also this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ko3e6G_7GY4&feature=channel_video_title

    The science isn’t the only area where the future is more and more in the hands of our young people. Actually, the fate of the whole planet may be.

  4. 4

    Tiny correction: its Hausfather, not Hausfeather :-p

    [Response: oops! – gavin]

  5. 5
    Marco says:

    I think James Annan will be disappointed not to have been mentioned in that illustrious list of names. He was even worshipping at Prof. Mann’s feet!
    Link:
    http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2011/12/jules-pics-agu-day-3.html (2nd picture)

    [Response: In reality, James and I were having a rather mundane discussion of spatial error structure in data assimilation approaches ;) He gave a great talk in our session on paleodata assimilation. James is doing some very nice work in this area, and indeed its an area where there is a lot of exciting work going on now, as became plainly evident at this year’s AGU meeting. Hugues Goosse gave a related talk later on in our session, and another related talk the next day (mentioned in this post) on constraining atmospheric circulation anomalies during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) by assimilating information from proxy data. The latter talk was given in the “Climate of the Common Era” session, a really nice new session spearheaded by Jason Smerdon, Kevin Anchukaitas, and co. which I hope we’ll see continued in the years ahead. One interesting theme that emerged from the various “last millennium” paleo sessions this year: precisely what was going on w/ the tropical Pacific/ENSO over the past millennium remains quite enigmatic. A number of quite careful and seemingly convincing regional proxy studies using central Pacific corals vs. tropical African lake records vs. tropical ice cores all yield fundamentally different and seemingly inconsistent pictures. While there is much that we have learned over the past decade, there are still some rather profound puzzles that remain to be worked out. The science is never done. – mike]

  6. 6
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Mike @ 5, I don’t doubt that much remains to be learned about the past, given the complexities of the present. It can’t be easy to track the Hadley & Walker cells across the vast Pacific 1000 years ago. It might help though to have information from clear around the globe at similar latitudes. Why does the Indian Ocean warm so much? Did it in the MWA? Could research like these three add any light?

    1) Williams and Funk 2011. A westward extension of the warm pool leads to a westward extension of the Walker circulation, drying eastern Africa

    2) Turney and Jones 2010. Does the Agulhas Current amplify global temperatures during super-interglacials?

    3) Lee et al. 2011 What caused the significant increase in Atlantic Ocean heat content since the mid-20th century?

  7. 7
    John Mashey says:

    There were lots of good talks, but I also mention the posters, which essentially fill up the main floor of Moscone South and change every day. It takes a few hours just to walk past them all, not even stopping to talk.
    It’s always fun to pick a few and talk to the (usually) grad students at the posters.
    Their enthusiasm is great, and some are so grateful that someone cared enough to ask.
    Those who talk about “scientists are doing it for the big $$” should try this.

  8. 8
  9. 9
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Conferences are great for scientists meeting scientists. But when the topic is human-caused change that will have severe consequences if people keep on burning until climate disruption stops them, public education and outreach is also very important. It was discussed some at AGU and Serendipity’s review is a treasure trove for educators.

  10. 10
    Mike Smith says:

    There’s a bit of talk here about the arctic-methane results (Dr Semiletov). Any comments? I got the impression that getting a baseline on these methane plumes was a bit tricky?
    Here’s an article (from The Independent), that we were discussing:
    http://tinyurl.com/methaneA

    Thanks!

    Mike.

  11. 11
    Hank Roberts says:

    For Mike Smith:
    https://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Arealclimate.org+Semiletov

    The story you link has today’s date, and I only found a hundred web blog mentions quoting the same words from Semiletov, so maybe it’s new news.

    There have been breathless news stories about this going back several years. You’ll find those easily:
    https://www.google.com/search?q=scientists+rushed+methane+Semiletov

    It’s been very hard to tell which is new and which isn’t new.

    One of the RC posts recently has links to a couple of science institutes that promised news from last summer’s field works would become available sometime in the next few months.

  12. 12
    Hank Roberts says:

    ps, the link Mike Smith gave ends with:
    “Dr Semiletov released his findings for the first time last week at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.”
    Is there a poster or video or any reference to that, for us outside watchers?

  13. 13
    Anonymous Coward says:

    I’m not sure methane alarmism is in-topic but there’s been two posts in this thread already. Since there’s no official reply, I’ll opine…

    Newspapers frequently give ludicrous titles to their articles and usually fail to provide context.
    The artcle talk about speculation with regards to hundreds of millions of tons of that “deadly” gas which they figure is 20 times stronger as a GHG than CO2 (that number is arbitrary). Well, I reckon it would take not hundreds but something like 2500 megatons to get 1 more ppm of methane. And methane is short lived so you’d need hundreds of extra megatons yearly to maintain that extra ppm.
    People can speculate about how foreboding the methane releases observed by Dr Semiletov are. It makes for good doomer p0rn. But CO2 is a much bigger problem than the methane releases which have been observed so far. People have no notion of how much fossil fuels are burned on this planet.

  14. 14
    Hank Roberts says:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Aagu.org+arctic+methane+2011

    First items on the first page are:

    Strong atmospheric chemistry feedback to climate warming from Arctic

    Arctic methane sources: Isotopic evidence for atmospheric inputs

    Identifying sources of methane in the Arctic

    Contribution of oceanic gas hydrate dissociation to the formation of Arctic Ocean methane plumes

  15. 15
    Yvan Dutil says:

    This seams to be related to this news a two months ago.

    http://arctic.ru/news/2011/10/data-arctic-methane-will-be-available-six-months

    Looks like eyeball data assessment for the moment.

  16. 16

    #13–“People have no notion of how much fossil fuels are burned on this planet.”

    True. But in principle we can control how much fossil fuels are burned. Not so the methane releases.

    You’re right, of course, about the magnitudes so far–but ‘so far’ is a very untrustworthy guide.

  17. 17
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Kate’s AGU reflections:
    Reflection 1
    Reflection 2
    Reflection 3

  18. 18
    Anonymous Coward says:

    #16
    Lurid speculation is an even worse guide than “so far”. Got a skilled model?
    In contrast, there’s little doubt that the coal problem is serious.

  19. 19
    steven mosher says:

    My highlight was meeting Gavin. So, thanks again for stopping by the poster.

  20. 20
    Number9 says:

    seemingly convincing regional proxy studies using central Pacific corals vs. tropical African lake records vs. tropical ice cores all yield fundamentally different and seemingly inconsistent pictures. While there is much that we have learned over the past decade, there are still some rather profound puzzles that remain to be worked out. The science is never done. – mike

    Isn’t that what the ‘skeptics’ say, that the science isn’t settled, hence is not ready to be used to make policy?

    [Response: Well that is the illogical jump that ‘skeptics’ keep trying to make, yes. Still doesn’t make it valid. The existence of uncertainty of some facts says nothing about the certainty of others. Does the fact that the Riemann Hypothesis is unproven mean that 2+2=4 can not be used in policy? – gavin]

  21. 21

    #18–Of course I don’t have a skilled model–but I’m not arguing for anything “lurid.” Just saying that methane release could become serious, and deserves attention.

    And as for minimizing the “coal problem,” IMO, the potential for methane release only reinforces how serious it is. We need to avoid inciting a really sizable methane feedback, if at all possible. Stopping coal combustion with all ‘deliberate speed’ would be most helpful in doing so.

  22. 22
    Mike Smith says:

    Thanks Hank et al. sorry if it wasn’t on-topic – I was interested as the findings it was referring to were presented at the AGU meeting.

    In summary, if I understand the conversation correctly:
    1. We should already be worrying ~100% by CO2, so the methane threat doesn’t really change things.
    2. The methane output is likely to remain probably small-beer in comparison to the CO2 issue.

    I’ll relay this to my friends :)

    Thanks all! (and thanks for the fantastic resource/blog).
    (sorry if I accidentally double post)

  23. 23
    Killian aka ccpo says:

    Lurid? I’ll say something “lurid” because the change from the 2010 report to this report, at my best estimate, is a 22x to 33x increase in methane bubbling up from the sea bed over just those two years.

    I don’t need to define hyper-parabolic, I assume. I will remind you that when Walter, et al., announced a three-fold increase in thermokarst lakes back in, I believe it was ’08, I said something like this was coming, and faster than virtually anyone knew – or at least was saying. I was dismissed and scolded, but all the signs were there.

    The thing about science is that it is able to tell us what was expertly, but what will be only cautiously. The thing about human intelligence and creativity, and this incredible brain we have, is that it can tell us things we cannot even explain. We don’t understand how it calculates what it does so we dismiss it. We call it clairvoyance or ESP or second sight or intuition. It’s just our brains working a heck of a lot better and faster than we can begin to measure.

    Hopefully now you are listening. Those calling for geo-engineering are correct in stating the need, completely off their heads in offering solutions; the last thing we need to do now is trigger a set of unintended consequences.

    Reforestation, regenerative and localized food production, food forests/edible forests/edible landscaping, and serious decreases in consumption via localization/walkable neighborhoods > local production and consumption, steady-state economics, etc., etc.

    Nature just yelled, “WAKE UP! The house is on fire!”

    http://www.flipdocs.com/showbook.aspx?ID=10004692_698290

  24. 24
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Lurid? That’s not lurid. This is lurid.

  25. 25
    wili says:

    The methane chart for Barrow, Alaska confirms a big jump in atmospheric methane in the most recent data.

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/dv/iadv/graph.php?code=BRW&program=ccgg&type=ts

    Barrow and Cold Bay show big jumps in CO2. Are these related phenomena?

    Killian is right–this is a fire alarm going off. Semiletov talked about a 100 fold increase in methane release. He also said that methane plume sizes went form tens of meters in diameter to over 1000 meters. It seems to me that this implies an increase of some 10,000 times (pi r^2 and all that). But maybe they were bigger but fewer?

    If anyone went to any of the methane sessions, could they inform us?

  26. 26
    Ray Ladbury says:

    The science is never done. – mike

    Isn’t that what the ‘skeptics’ say, that the science isn’t settled, hence is not ready to be used to make policy?–Number 9

    Not quite, Number 9. See, real scientists advance their understanding and then ask other questions and still more questions based on ever deeper understanding. They are true skeptics because they look at what the evidence has to say. Denialists or pseudoskeptics (e.g. you) keep revisiting the same subject over and over and over again, never understanding anything and deluding themselves that their confusion is a sign of wisdom. See the difference?

  27. 27
    Hank Roberts says:

    wili, you’re looking at the orange dots on the Barrow Alaska methane chart, right? Those are preliminary and very often far higher than the corrected data. Check again later; look at the monthly and daily charts. The outlier values don’t generally hold up and there’s no “big jump” or trend there yet.

    Yes the concern is real. No, the data aren’t there yet to support this.
    Whatever Semiletov is talking about, he will publish eventually.

    I’m puzzled that nobody on any of those trips appears to have blogged anything or poste any pictures– we only hear Semiletov’s press releases and interviews. If the ship was out there surrounded by bubbling methane, wouldn’t someone have taken a picture? Lighted a match, even?

  28. 28
    Anonymous Coward says:

    #25
    What’s the source for this: “Semiletov talked about a 100 fold increase in methane release.” It’s not in the linked newspaper article.
    If it’s a genuine quote, it’s got to refer to a small area which is insignificant compared to global methane emissions. Stripping the context of such a quote is… is there another word than lurid?

    If you want reasonable speculation, try this (found by Hank): http://www.atmos.washington.edu/academics/classes/2011Q2/558/IsaksenGB2011.pdf
    The key word is “unlikely”.

  29. 29

    Where are the denialists when you really need them….the ones who claim that in the past the warming preceded and caused the increased atmospheric carbon.

    Note that while CH4 only lasts about 10 yrs in the atmosphere, it degrades into CO2+, and it is the rapidity of its release that is really dangerous — like if there is a huge gigantic release within that 10 year frame, it could lead to even greater evermore gigantic releases in succeeding 10 year frames. BTW I’ve seen it figured as 23 and 25 times more potent than CO2, and don’t know where #13 got 20.

    For disaster-movie potential re methane hydrates see: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/12/methane-hydrates-and-global-warming/

    Also read Hansen’s STORMS OF MY GRANDCHILDREN, re his discussion of how our “methane shotgun” is more heavily loaded this time than during the PETM massive warming.

    It’s like we’re poking this sleeping big dangerous dragon with our AGW, and he’s beginning to awaken.

  30. 30

    Here’s something interesting from the AGU only partly connected to GW, by way of bigger deluges and hurricanes, and also people using up resources (involving world inequalities & the political ecology of this), etc:

    “Why the Haiti earthquake may not have been a natural disaster”

    Deforestation and extreme weather may later cause earthquakes, scientists believe.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/why-the-haiti-earthquake-may-not-have-been-a-natural-disaster-6275044.html

    [Response: I would be very suspicious of such a claim. And I doubt very much that ‘scientists believe’ in this context is anything other than ‘a scientist has suggested’. We have enough real anthropogenic effects to worry about without making up some more. – gavin]

  31. 31
    Hank Roberts says:

    Lynn’s referring to a story about something by Shimon Wdowinski (University of Miami in Florida) that was just presented at the AGU. I did not find anything about it on his home page or with Scholar.

  32. 32
    SecularAnimist says:

    Hank Roberts wrote: “If the ship was out there surrounded by bubbling methane, wouldn’t someone have taken a picture? Lighted a match, even?”

    Oh, yeah. If I were on a ship surrounded by bubbling methane I would DEFINITELY want to light a match. Just to, you know, see what happens and all.

  33. 33
    Kate says:

    I had a fabulous time at AGU, and it was great to meet most of the RealClimate folks. Hope to see you all again soon!

    [Response: I think I speak for all us Kate, in saying that it was a real pleasure to meet you. Keep up the great work! I’m sure we’ll cross paths again at many future AGUs. -mike]

  34. 34
    wili says:

    Hank@#27, Thanks for the response. I am aware that those most recent data points are preliminary. One would normally assume that such anomalous data were also erroneous. But this time:

    –They come right after a major international scientific expedition has found dramatic increases in methane release.
    –They correspond to increases in CO2 concentrations in the same and in near by locations.

    Together, these make it rather unlikely, it seems to me, that these date point are due to errors in instruments or some very local releases. The instruments would all have to have diverged in the same direction at the same time.

    I see three (at least) independent sources of data all pointing in the same dramatic direction–Semiletov and team’s direct observations, instrumental CH4 data, and instrumental CO2 data (the later many more than two data points and from more than one location). Do you have a convincing scenario about how all these could be pointing in the same direction by accident?

    It would be good to hear from someone who saw the presentation at AGU–anyone??

  35. 35
    Yvan Dutil says:

    @34 You can add anomalous isotopic ratio also.

  36. 36
    Hank Roberts says:

    Wili, let us know if you find a publication by Semiletov; one should be coming somewhere. Scholar finds a lot published, but not the work you’re talking about. Newspaper stories don’t tend to get this stuff right, generally.

    GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 38, L08602, doi:10.1029/2011GL047222, 2011
    Rising Arctic Ocean temperatures cause gas hydrate destabilization and ocean acidification [PDF] Geophysical Research Letters, 2011
    http://www.ozean-der-zukunft.de/fileadmin/user_upload/pdf/rising-arctic-ocean-temperatures.pdf “… Russian slope remain almost unaffected (Figure 2c). Only the shallow and potentially methane‐rich [Shakhova et al., 2010] shelf regions in the Laptev Sea show significant annual variations….”

    citing

    Shakhova, N., I. Semiletov, A. Salyuk, V. Yusupov, D. Kosmach, and
    O. Gustafsson (2010), Extensive methane venting to the atmosphere
    from sediments of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, Science, 327,
    1246–1250, doi:10.1126/science.1182221

  37. 37
    Hank Roberts says:

    PS for Wili, there’s a piece on the Shakhova paper and video interview here:
    http://sciblogs.co.nz/hot-topic/tag/semiletov/
    “The CH4 emitted is about 2 per cent of global annual emissions, so it is certainly significant. Ed Dlugokencky of NOAA, who confirmed a couple of weeks ago that recent increases in atmospheric methane were continuing, tells me that the emissions estimates are reasonable, but that the global data is not yet consistent with a large and growing source of Arctic methane ….”

  38. 38
    Yvan Dutil says:

    @34 Dismiss my previous post. Isotope looks ok but not H2.

  39. 39

    #28–“What’s the source for this: “Semiletov talked about a 100 fold increase in methane release.”

    I suspect it was an error; the last sentence of the linked story says that concentrations of methane were 100 times normal (at the sites of the ‘torch-like structures,’ presumably.) Not the same as release rates 10 times higher, of course.

  40. 40

    “Not the same as release rates 10 times higher, of course.”

    An error of my own. Of course I meant “100 times.”

    Ah, well.

  41. 41

    The finding of huge plumes of methane rising in the Arctic ocean is a worry. The plumes of course are acting like vast air-lift pumps. They will increasingly bring in water from beside the rising plume. That water is obviously warm enough to trigger the release of the methane.

    This inflow of energy and higher velocity water flows will hasten the release, possibly even strip overburden sediment off deeper deposits, which will lead to a worsening of the situation.

    When air surface temperatures are higher than the surface water temperature, then then the upwelling water will pick up energy from the air. The induced overturning of the water column will bring still more warmer water back down to the sea floor, adding another energy source.

    At the ocean floor this pox will spread sideways limited only by the amount of calthrate in a given area.

    While methane is short-lived, all it has to do is shift the global energy balance for a while, to trigger irreversible loss of tundra methane, loss of Arctic sea ice cover and more calthrate loss, then loss of ice sheets and everything else Hansen et al promise.

    Not pretty to contemplate. And its happening as we speak.

    Oh darn!

  42. 42

    @ Hank Roberts

    AGU Fall Meeting THURSDAY, DECEMBER 08, 2011

    GC41B-0794. Ebullition-driven fluxes of methane from shallow hot spots suggest significant under-estimation of annual emission from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf
    Natalia E. Shakhova; Igor P. Semiletov; Anatoly Salyuk; Chris Stubbs; Denis Kosmach; Orjan Gustafsson

    ABSTRACT FINAL ID: GC41B-0794

    TITLE: Ebullition-driven fluxes of methane from shallow hot spots suggest significant under-estimation of annual emission from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf

    SESSION TYPE: Poster

    SESSION TITLE: GC41B. Permafrost and Methane: Monitoring and Modeling Fluxes of Water and Methane Associated With Arctic Changing Permafrost and Coastal Regiona I Posters

    AUTHORS (FIRST NAME, LAST NAME): Natalia E Shakhova1, 2, Igor Peter Semiletov1, 2, Anatoly Salyuk2, Chris Stubbs3, Denis Kosmach2, Orjan Gustafsson4

    INSTITUTIONS (ALL):
    1. IARC, Univerrsity Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, United States.
    2. Laboratory of Arctic Research, Pacific Oceanological Institute FEBRAS, Vladivostok, Russian Federation.
    3. University of California, Marine Science Institute, Santa Barbara, CA, United States.
    4. Institute of Applied Environmental Research, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.

    Title of Team:

    ABSTRACT BODY: The high-latitude, shallow ESAS has been alternately subaerial and inundated with seawater during glacial and interglacial periods respectively. Subaerial conditions foster the formation of permafrost and associated hydrate deposits whereas inundation with relatively warm seawater destabilizes the permafrost and hydrates. Our measurements of CH4 in 1994-2000 and 2003-2010 over ESAS demonstrate the system to be in a destabilization period. First estimates of ESAS methane emissions indicated the current atmospheric budget, which arises from gradual diffusion and ebullition, was on par with estimates of methane emissions from the entire World Ocean (≈8 Tg-CH4). Large transient emissions remained to be assessed; yet initial data suggested that component could increase significantly annual emissions. New data obtained in 2008-2010 show that contribution of ebullition-driven CH4 fluxes from shallow hot spots alone could multiply previously reported annual emission from the entire ESAS.

    KEYWORDS: [0330] ATMOSPHERIC COMPOSITION AND STRUCTURE / Geochemical cycles, [0312] ATMOSPHERIC COMPOSITION AND STRUCTURE / Air/sea constituent fluxes, [0428] BIOGEOSCIENCES / Carbon cycling, [4219] OCEANOGRAPHY: GENERAL / Continental shelf and slope processes.

    SPONSOR NAME: Natalia Shakhova

    The Shakhova/Semiletov Presentation Poster can be found here:
    http://www.arctic-methane-emergency-group.org/#/agu-brochure/4558306797

    Note that the brochure is a 10.1 Mb download, for those on a slow connection.

  43. 43
    wili says:

    Thanks all for links, corrections, and insights. It is maddening to watch, but more maddening would be to feel as though absolutely no one else was watching or caring.

    recaptcha: egialia life

  44. 44
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #30 & the Haiti quake being strengthened by landslides/erosion (due to deluges and hurricanes), it made a tiny bit of sense to me, since I’d read something earlier about how glacier melt in Greenland may be causing or contributing to very minor, local quakes.

    When the Chile quake happened, I thought perhaps serious glacier melt in the region may have contributed somewhat to the quake’s intensity, and perhaps the same might be for Himalayan quakes. It’s probably an understudied topic, since, as Gavin says, there are much worse, more substantiated anthropogenic problems to focus on.

    I guess it does seem far-fetched that landslides and erosion would lighten the load enough to contribute to quakes. But they did find a correlation apparently.

    If there is a way to access the Wdowinski paper, I’d like to get it for some social science colleagues who specialize on disaster reserach.

  45. 45
    Hank Roberts says:

    > If there is a way to access the Wdowinski paper
    Ask the author; his web page has his contact info.

  46. 46
    Tokodave says:

    Re: #30 Geologist’s perspective: Surficial loadings/unloadings and other anthropogenic factors can be linked to some localized minor earthquakes…here in Montana the filling of Lake Koocanusa behind Libby Dam on the Kootenai River was likely responsible for a series of small quakes in the area, and then there’s the recent series of articles that link “fracking” to minor quakes, but major earthquakes generally occur several kilometers or more below the surface and are related to large scale tectonic forces. It’s hard to imagine how surficial disturbances, however egregious, could be related? Poor land management practices can have a huge impact on a variety of “sustainability” issues, but I’ll second Gavin’s thoughts: we need to be cautious about making things up…. If there are any seismologists that watch the site I’d be interested on their perspective.

  47. 47
    wili says:

    Daniel Bailey at #42, thanks for the link, but that seems to be about geoengineering. I don’t see any info there on the latest excursion to the Arctic.

  48. 48

    Wili, the linked site hosts the AGU poster presentation itself; however, the graphics quality is poor. The brochure flipbook seems to be a walk-through of the poster.

  49. 49
    Alex says:

    Mike MacPhaden has been kidnapped by french geologists !
    http://iceblog.over-blog.com/article-agu-2011-92472425.html

  50. 50
    Mark A. York says:

    RE 30 “I would be very suspicious of such a claim.” Me too. The last thing climate analysis needs is to attribute natural geologic occurrences, bad as they are, to the same causes as a warming climate.


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