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Unforced Variations: July 2013

Filed under: — group @ 1 July 2013

This month’s open thread…

We have just updated the blog software, and are taking a little time to assess how up-to-date some the content is (including the theme, mobile theme, blogroll, about pages and the RC wiki etc.). So this might be a good time to chime in with your suggestions as well as discussing the latest climate science issues.

350 Responses to “Unforced Variations: July 2013”

  1. 151
  2. 152
    patrick says:

    @144 Thank you very much. Here’s the abstract and the paper:

    The first story, from the article you’ve linked, is for climate modelers:

    “…measurements taken during the 2011 Las Conchas fire near Los Alamos National Laboratory show that the actual carbon-containing particles emitted by fires are very different than those used in current computer models, providing the potential for inaccuracy in current climate-modeling results.”

    “Tar balls” were found to be 10x more abundant than soot in the aerosols sampled–article.

    I would like to hear more comment about this.

    The electron microscope soot particle images are instructive for anyone studying aerosols.

    The second story is that this research on “‘tar balls’ in the sky” was accidental climatology, because of the proximity of the Las Conchas fire to Los Alamos.

    “Immediately after Los Alamos National Laboratory reopened to scientists and staff, the team set up an extensive aerosol sampling system to monitor the smoke from the smoldering fire for more than 10 days.”

    The general story is: “A range of fine carbonaceous particles rising high into the air significantly degrade air quality, damaging human and wildlife health, and interacting with sunlight to affect climate.”

    I always wonder about the secondary effects of smoke. It’s hard to believe ‘no one was harmed,’ even when that’s the story.

    Whether it’s wildfires; or the rainforests being torched; the black smoke of war; piles of weapons “destroyed” by being burned; or a tragedy like Lac-Megantic–the first thing that strikes me is, “Never send to know for whom the bell tolls…”

    I remember a Russian astronaut doing his second orbital flight. Urbane he was not. They asked him what was different the second time around.

    He said: It’s darker now [the atmospheric horizon]. Too bad. We might want to stop and think about it.

  3. 153
  4. 154
    perwis says:

    @149 MARodger RE: airborne fraction of CO2

    Have you seen the graph on the airborne fraction at James Hansen’s excellent graph page (no 16):

    It is only the 7 year mean, however.

    Recent papers i Nature CC discuss the development of the airborne fraction:
    Francey, R. J. et al. Nature Clim. Change 3, 520–524 (2013).
    Response by Raupach, M. R., Le Quéré, C., Peters, G. P. & Canadell, J. G. Nature Clim. Change 3, 603–604 (2013).
    Reply by:
    Francey et al. Nature Climate Change 3, 604 (2013) doi:10.1038/nclimate1925

  5. 155
    patrick says:

    Accidental climatology is an experiment or analysis one would not otherwise do. [compare: accidental epidemiology] It’s not merely happenstance. It takes improvisation, perspective, and maybe some insight from outside of/time-beyond the box. This is how the Russian astronaut was like the team in this study.

    If you tell me, “Soot particles are ‘fractal-like aggregates’ and their ensemble morphology can be characterized by analysing many individual aggregates using the following statistical scaling law,” (see study) and you graph the fractal dimension of compared soot particles–you’ve got my attention.

    Then I, like the rustic astronaut, am mildly in awe.

  6. 156
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 151 Hank Roberts – thanks, that was interesting.
    The paper I had in mind: (“Schneider, T., 2006: The general circulation of the atmosphere. Annual Reviews of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 34, 655-688.” – linked (and reference quoted) from (go down to “Spinup of General Circulation”) – although I couldn’t (in a quick skim) find the statement I was remembering, maybe it was from somewhere else…

  7. 157
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Hansen’s excellent graph page

    That just about tells the story, doesn’t it, just by pondering those graphs.

  8. 158
    MARodger says:

    perwis @154.
    Yes. I have seen the Hansen graph before (fig 16 on the page you link). Its Airborne Fraction differs from my efforts at creating equivalent graphs due to Hansen not including Land Use Change emissions. Such inclusion reduces the AF% over the entire period by some amount. Also over recent years the Land Change emissions have dropped, resulting in the Airborne Fraction not showing Hansen’s recent decline if Land Use is included.
    That leaves the Pinatuba eruption as the major feature on the graph, the dip during the 1990s seen on the Hansen graph.

    The Francey paper is paywalled but its abstract doesn’t fill me with much ‘confidence’ in its findings & also now seeing its figures showing here I am less confident still.
    Therefore seeking out the Raupach response presents no surprises to me, nor the pantomime-esque abstract of the reply from Francey et al.
    It perhaps would be interesting to get a better grasp of what Francey et al think they are on about but they don’t help themselves – usually an abstract is not written to be so, what would you call it, abstract?
    And to make clear, my concern of the size of annual CO2 increases is only evident over recent months & doesn’t feature on these graphs discussed here.

  9. 159
    Killian says:

    90 I guess discovery of km-wide plumes last year was everyone’s imagination.

    In fact, you can look it up. The source is repeated repostings of a newspaper story, as though it were happening again and again. It hasn’t happened yet.

    I think you mean it hasn’t been published to your specifications. I’ll be sure to let the Russian scientists and the U of A know they’ve been lying about their research.

    Ivory Tower loon.

  10. 160
    Killian says:

    93 Patrick said, declaratively, it is rather a response to the last ice age while the abstract said, conditionally, is believed to be.

    And I repeat I was told in 2007 there would be no significant seabed hydrate emissions for 100 years. (I can search out and copy the e-mail if you like.) I said they’d be going long before that and, based on the permafrost, likely already were. Tomato, tomahto? Or another case of the science catching up to observations?

    You can be sanguine with the idea the increased river runoff, warm inflow of water from the Pacific and Atlantic, the inversion of water temp layers in the Arctic Ocean from melting ice, the ASI melt, the disappearing sea ice all mean the sea bed emissions are just because… but I I’d be tempted to move away from you for when the lightning strikes.

    Sometimes common sense is just good sense. But what is certain is being sanguine about clathrates is extremely poor risk assessment and makes for really, really dangerous policy.

    Me? I’m listening to the duck quack and not expecting to see a chicken. The science will catch up with the physical reality, I promise. It is doing so WRT to ASI, after all, no?

    This is a time in history to give more weight to the leading edge in discoveries rather than hang back and chat with the formerly standard.


  11. 161
    Killian says:

    96 Patrick said …voodoo… But any trade should be profitable…

    Nooooope. Trade should be fair.

    …You wouldn’t spend money on something if you got more out of keeping your money than on the thing you buy…

    So sad, stuck on money. Can you eat money? No? Then ultimately not really important, is it? Don’t think about WHERE and WHEN you are, think in terms of where and when you will and must be. Yes,the transition is the trick, but understanding where you are going is the key. Backcasting.

    I’d expect the profit motive still would make sense even in a steady state economy, for the same reasons (even if average profits shrink, economic success (such as that which would attract investment) could be measured as a deviation from that average).

    ZzzZzzzzZzzzzzzz… huh… wha…? Oh. Alright, then… Uh, no. What is profit? It is getting more than you give. It is hoarding. It is imbalance. It is draining resources out of the system. It is accumulation of waste (resources lying around is waste – and money doesn’t count since it is an abstraction unless or until it gets back to directly representing real goods, at which time it returns to being a convenience rather than an end in itself.)

    why not use math as the key: if inflation goes to zero, just drop interest rates accordingly, etc.

    That’s not math, that’s voodoo. the economist has no clothes

    Patrick, if you are trying to understand sustainability via the standard economic models, you are already so far off in the weeds there is no hope of steering you back to the road. However, check out C.A.S.S.E. and Steve Keen.

    Profit is growth. Note I did not say “economic” growth, I said growth. You may wish to quibble here, but I really am… snore… not … snore… interested in this conversation yet again.

    Still… sigh…. they say we can use tar sands, shale…. this is… not smart. If I have to point out why on this blog, well, you don’t deserve the answer. Set aside the obvious however, and go look up fungibility. Apply it to oil. Then see what there is out there as fungible as oil. Wait, don’t bother. Your search ended without beginning: It doesn’t exist. Many implications due to this. Go find them.

    And, worse, are we in kindergarten or something? Growth is only about oil or energy? Did I not point out Liebig’s? Mm.. yup, I did.

    My favorite Liebig’s is… phosphorus. Starvation is not pretty. Easy to fix, but when I say “regenerative” around here, it doesn’t get me very far. Problem, that. Soo…. so long as it’s just me and my cohorts understanding what we must do to make phosphorus a non-issue…

    Sorry to be somewhat flippant, but listening to economists talk about sustainability is, for me, like listening to Monkton talk about climate.

  12. 162
  13. 163

    Regarding the Airborne Fraction of CO2, I believe that this is a tricky characteristic to estimate. First, the amount airborne is a combination of FF carbon emissions plus any changes due to outgassing of CO2 from overall temperature changes (seasonal or otherwise). Second, the amount airborne due to emissions is an integral or more precisely a convolution of the yearly emissions with the sequestering response.

    That means to estimate the amount due to FF emissions requires us to either deconvolute the CO2 signal, or to convolve the FF emissions with the sequestering response (BERN model) and compared that to the CO2 signal. In the latter case, we also want to remove the seasonal temperature fluctuations.

    I figured out how to do the seasonal removal using regional SST data and came up with this residual fit.

    I did it for both the Mauna Loa and American Samoa CO2 measurements, and you can see how the perturbations of excess CO2 from the measurement trend match the estimated yearly carbon emissions rather well.

    I think everyone who does this gets a different profile because yearly changes are accentuated by differences between large numbers and that can get noisy and generate a drifting bias.

    Scroll to the bottom of this post to more details on what I tried to do:

    Bottomline is that the excess atmospheric CO2 is all from mankind’s fossil-fuel emissions, that I am convinced of.

  14. 164

    “What is profit? It is getting more than you give.”

    Really? I thought it was getting paid for the value you add.

  15. 165

    In the wake (I suppose that’s a lame pun) of the Toronto and Calgary flood events, Canadian MSM talks ‘adaptation,’ even if they don’t exactly use the term:

    Captcha seems to be talking attribution: “creadini causal.”

  16. 166
    patrick says:

    From the 300 mb jetstream images, one could have seen the steeply looped flow of Gulf air up into Alberta at the time of the Calgary floods and got some idea of the fact that it dwelled unusually long. The 300mb jet image is always only one small factor in the puzzle of course–whether for the Calgary BC floods, the recent Moore OK hurricanes, or things to come.

    The images are in the crws archive.

    From the archive it’s easy to get 6-hour lapsed images of the 300 mb jet–and run them in sequence:

    For the most infamous hurricane, the image of a wide deep southward excursion at noon on the 20th of May is striking.

    For the floods, the sequence of images shows a steep loop–as if the 300 mb jet was a lasso being thrown straight north from southern CA–right over Calgary, or right around it.
    Follow the sequence starting 00hrs June 18. By June 19 the northward excursion (warm air behind it) is backing up on itself over Canada–so to proceed slightly west instead of east–to encircle a low pressure area over Alberta (as of noon June 20) inside of the northward loop of the jet. More or less.

    Current maps are linked at the top of the archive start page.

  17. 167
    Chuck Hughes says:

    90 I guess discovery of km-wide plumes last year was everyone’s imagination.

    In fact, you can look it up. The source is repeated repostings of a newspaper story, as though it were happening again and again. It hasn’t happened yet.

    “I think you mean it hasn’t been published to your specifications. I’ll be sure to let the Russian scientists and the U of A know they’ve been lying about their research.”

    – Comment by Killian

    So I’m thinking the jury may still be out on this one? This is the video I saw that made me think this was a serious problem. I assume the scientists in this video are credible since one of them is Dr. James Hansen and another one is Dr. Peter Wadhams. the video is dated 2012 according to youtube so I’m not exactly sure when it was published. Maybe someone can help put it into context. Not that I trust everything I see on youtube but this sounded plausible to me but then of course I’m no scientist. Thanks

  18. 168
    Patrick 027 says:

    re Killian – “stuck on money.” – substitute a bartering system and it still makes sense – ideally you would trade to get more for less. In an instantaneous sense that would be true even if you are stuck between a rock and a hard place, but … (PS just to be clear about where I’m coming from – I think the hypothesis of an efficient market is good to keep in mind. I know real markets are not ideal (even setting aside simple cases of externalities like pollution), and even if they were, that wouldn’t address all issues – I still wouldn’t worship the Laizze Faire market like it’s God; however, I think it makes sense to take market economics and find bugs and apply patches, rather than to design an entirely different scheme – I don’t see why a zero net growth economy would have to be communist or feudal or whatever (not that you said any of those). Trade should be fair (sometimes the market should tend to make it so but sometimes it may not); but it should be profitable (in the broad wholistic sense I meant) too, or else what’s the point of any trade? – okay, if it’s a redistribution ‘share the wealth’ trade than it may only be profitable to one side and thus wouldn’t (be expected to) occur spontaneous… well I’m not going to go into every point here.) A sustainable economy would still have flows of goods and services being processed and exchanged to get some net benefit (at a bare minimum, the survival of some sustainable population – they need to keep eating, simply eating once won’t keep them and their children going indefinitely, and that’s the picture I had in mind. Maybe every meal is a profit, or maybe not, maybe it is only that portion of the meal (the good flavors, etc.) that are not strictly necessary for the consumer to provide labor in exchange… etc. The profit is what keeps this from being a dismal pointless rat race… and profit motive *ideally* makes it more efficient; getting more for less makes sustainability easier)

    and obviously I’m using profitable in a different sense than you, and that is probably because I’m not an economist, and my ‘voodoo’ (which I realized was erroneous (I put a + instead of – sign on something doing the mental math – silly arithmetic slip up) as shown by a subsequent comment) was a product of an open mind trying to be a creative problem solver (and I get some immunity for only being in the brainstorming phase), not a standard economic model, which I believe would have disagreed with me. Yes, I don’t know how things like student loans would work in no growth, but people would still invest in the future (they still raise children, that takes effort before payout)… I’m with you on the tarsands. And I also addressed an issue with Liebig’s – I don’t know to what extent it applies to P – which is also to say, I don’t know that it doesn’t – but of course, if we address pollution issues then wouldn’t we be recycling P more … etc.

    This is jumbled because I tried to be brief, though I could be briefer – you seem to have misjudged me – maybe it’s my fault for picking at an issue, but I agree with you more than you seem to think.

  19. 169
    Frank Grober says:

    I like to point out the dozens to zero count of national science academies and major league scientific societies that say we have a problem with greenhouse gas emissions. There is polling that shows that this argument seems to work well with the politically conservative. Two common retorts are that the scientists are just saying it to get grant money and the statements are made by administrators and activists who are going against the wishes of some sort of “silent majority” of members. I can handle the first argument well by just showing how small a fraction of support for science comes from climate and green energy research and so on. I can speak to how things are done in a very few organizations from personal experience and conversations with friends, but it would be nice if I could find out how to do it for more organizations with easily accessible sources.

  20. 170
    Hank Roberts says:

    > I think you mean it hasn’t been published to your specifications….
    > they’ve been lying about their research.
    > Ivory Tower loon.

    Killian, birdwatcher, reports in.

    No, I didn’t say the scientists were lying. You misrepresented what I said.

    I said you’ve reblogged a claim based on one 2009 news story, likely because you read one of many rebloggings and believed you’d seen news from last year.

    Cheer up. Things will get worse. The evidence will bubble up, eventually.

  21. 171
    Patrick 027 says:

    re Killian – clarifications and new thinking:

    When I said I wouldn’t talk about it anymore in my original response: 1. clearly that wasn’t true. Oops. – but 2. it wasn’t a ‘negative’ directed at you, but rather a ‘positive’ directed at the moderators. We aren’t really supposed to get into economics here. A little bit is tolerated but…

    More clearly delineating my points (with their weaknesses/caveats):

    Profit: setting aside matters of fairness, profit motive means trying to get more from/for less. Prima facie, that’s good. It suggests efficiency; do away with profit motive and expect waste. However, in my ‘meal’ example, that portion which is not strictly necessary to keep the system going – that’s a bit fuzzy. Happiness, after all, is part of the motivation for keeping everything going. Including the people, among all else, and a sustainable steady-state economy is ‘more of a closed loop’ (setting aside the streams of available energy and entropy coming in and out), there is no profit exhaust one sees from outside the system – it all gets put back in. But that really means that the system is not serving another purpose besides it’s own existence (either setting aside the niche in the global ecosystem, or include that within the system – of course there’s caveats and clarifications to make here, I can’t address them all…). I think when one is within the system one would perceive profits. When profits are spend or reinvested, are they no longer profits… (?) I guess it depends on how a system is defined (point of view)? I haven’t resolved this yet…

    Investment (I think you actually didn’t say anything about that but…) – a world without investment implies a world of instant gratification. I don’t think that’s what we want (well, we don’t want how that would end up). However, for the economy as a whole, in steady state, net investment should average to zero – which means that present investment inputs would be balanced by present returns from previous investments. The implications for banking, credit, stocks and bonds, lo-ans, etc, I don’t know.

    Okay, I’m really done – here, on this topic on this blog (because I don’t want the moderators to decide that for me (and because I have other things I need/want to do)…).

  22. 172
    Radge Havers says:


    Um, maybe go to the root of the argument which would one of consensus among those who have earned their reputations with tested and proven skills, expertise, and knowledge…

  23. 173
    wili says:

    For people who want to keep track of the most recent developments in Arctic methane, here is a new resource, soon to be up and running (thanks to A4R from Neven’s sea ice forums for the link):

  24. 174

    Had a chance to return to the topic of the Indian floods that killed over 500 people last month. The ever-interesting Wunderground blog had this to say:

    According to the Indian Meteorological Department, Uttarakhand received more than three times (329%) of its normal June rainfall from June 1 – 21, and rainfall was 847% of normal during the week June 13 – 19. Satellite estimates indicate that more than 20″ (508 mm) or rain fell in a 7-day period from June 11 – 17 over some regions of Uttarakhand, which lies just to the west of Nepal in the Himalayas. Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand, received 14.57″ (370 mm) of rain in 24 hours on June 16 – 17.

    I guess that would qualify as ‘extreme precipitation.’

  25. 175

    Indian media are now reporting new fatalities as the intense monsoon rains create landslides. Santopanth glacier has melted sufficiently to create a lake, the formation of which is seen as a threat to communities downstream. This in turn has prompted an official alert:

    The reports are not very circumstantial WRT the extent of melt, nor how unusual this is.

  26. 176
  27. 177
  28. 178
    John Mashey says:

    The NSF found clear proof of a long-time academic climate scientist on the “gravy train,” using financial chicanery to mis-use Federal funds. Unfortunately for those who claim this about honest scientists often, this one was one of theirs, see Murry Salby: Galileo? Bozo? Or P.T.Barnum?

    Actually, it illustrates a few ideas.
    First, the NSF and good universities try pretty hard to deal with funds mis-use.
    Second, neutrinos may not be faster than light, but foolishness can propagate across the Internet amazingly fast, especially with no error checking.

  29. 179
    Patrick 027 says:

    number of jets: related to what I remembered reading (but not = what I remembered reading) is at the bottom of p. 9 – top of p. 10 here: (looks like the unpublished version – I think a published version is also available)

  30. 180
    Patrick 027 says:

    aha! p. 12 (of the aforementioned source) : “Because for Earth the midlatitude baroclinic zone is a bit wider than necessary for a single eddy-driven jet, the jet can move north and south within the baroclinic zone and this behavior arises even in simple models of the general circulation (Robinson 1991; James and James 1992; Yu and Hartmann
    1993; Lee 2005)
    ” …(and baroclinic eddies can act to reinforce these shifts)… but still no mention of two jets in winter (let alone summer)…

  31. 181
    Patrick 027 says:

    p.17 “Baroclinic wave energy also cascades to equivalent barotropic waves, which typically have lower phase speeds [I believe this refers to eastward propagation, relative to the surface] and so can exist and propagate in the weaker winds on the edges of the jet. The dispersion relation for these barotropic waves is such that they are refracted back into the jet and in so doing pump momentum out of the jet (Lorenz and Hartmann 2001). One can imagine then that a competition exists between high frequency eddies whose propagation out of the jet acts to strongly reinforce a jet, and low-frequency external modes that are refracted into the jet and thereby weaken it. The intensity and structure of eddy-driven jets are thus partly determined by a balance between the effects of baroclinic and barotropic eddies.” … it was stated prior that the eddies driving the jet could be expected to propagate away from the jet because that is where they are being produced. But I’ve been wondering – if you picture separate belts of varying PV gradients and winds, a westerly jet must be associated with a larger PV gradient and thus higher phase speed relative to the air, but the air is moving faster in the other direction; if there is some wavelength for which the two effects cancel, shorter wavelengths’ propagation ought to be more strongly affected by the wind and thus be deformed so as to tilt westward away from the jet, and this would make them propagate (group velocity) away from the jet, while longer wavelengths (or in three dimensions, less vertically-tilted waves with same horizontal wavelength – I think (?)) would be deformed by faster westward propagation within the jet and thus tilt the other way and be ‘pulled into the jet’ (group velocity)… however, this treats the wave within each belt as determining it’s own propagation, but neighboring belts would interact (the wind produced by the wave in the belt next to the jet would produce stronger PV anomalies within the jet than vice versa so … a constant wave structure might be maintained if the wave amplitude varies across regions of different PV gradients, I suspect (?)) … Well I guess I have to go read Lorenz and Hartmann now… (actually it will be later)

  32. 182

    Researching evaporative cooling technologies yesterday, I was intrigued to see just how much water is used by typical industrial users in high-heat processes–thermal power generation (whether nuclear or combustion), oil refining, various chemical/materials processes, et cetera. For example:

    The circulation rate of cooling water in a typical 700 MW coal-fired power plant with a cooling tower amounts to about 71,600 cubic metres an hour (315,000 U.S. gallons per minute) and the circulating water requires a supply water make-up rate of perhaps 5 percent (i.e., 3,600 cubic metres an hour).

    So I wasn’t so surprised to run across this study in Climateprogress today:

    …the study found a decrease in river flow of 13 to 15 percent for Southern Europe in the 2031-2060 time period (relative to 1971-2000) while places like Spain, Italy and Greece dropped as much as 20 percent. That was offset by an increase of 3 to 5 percent in river flow for Northern Europe. Water temperature increases, again thanks to global warming, were much more evenly distributed, usually around 0.6 to 0.8 degrees Celsius…

    …northern countries… saw an overall increase of 8 percent for hydropower capacities, while southern countries… saw an overall decrease of 15 percent. For the continent as a whole, it’s a decrease of 4 to 5 percent. For nuclear and fossil fuel power plants, around half of Europe looks like it’ll escape essentially unscathed, especially the north. But reductions ranged from 5 percent all the way to 21 percent in other areas, with the the biggest reductions in some southern European countries. The hits were, again, substantially worse in the summer. But the study also determined that adapting with better cooling technology and more advanced fuels could take a lot of the edge off.

    Of course, “better cooling technology and more advanced fuels” cost money. Another price tag on adaptation.

  33. 183
    Hank Roberts says:

    173 wili says: 11 Jul 2013 at 9:32 PM
    > … here is a new resource … link
    Wrong link, the link posted is circular, goes to top of this page here.

  34. 184
    Jim Larsen says:

    177 Prok brought up bitcoin.

    Thanks for the link. I was surprised that bitcoin appears to have an absolute maximum circulation of $21 million. Given that there’s over a trillion Federal Reserve notes, digital currency has quite a bit of growing up to do.

  35. 185
    Hank Roberts says:

    “… Pockmarks are crater-like structures on the seafloor created by fluids and gases as they erupt into the water through ocean-bottom sediments.

    “Researchers from New Zealand, Germany and the United States said three newly discovered pockmarks — the largest of which is 7 miles long, 4 miles wide and more than 300 feet deep — may be twice the size of the largest pockmarks previously recorded in scientific literature ….”

    “… they believe the structures, at a depth of about 3,200 feet under the ocean surface, are the ancient remnants of vigorous degassing from under the seafloor into the ocean, although there is currently no sign of gas being emitted from them.”

  36. 186
    doug says:

    Gavin, are we seeing an unusual amount of extreme rainfall events in the Northern Hemisphere this Summer?

    [Response: not as far as I’m aware. In general rainfall is becoming more intense, but whether this year is above or below expectations, I have no idea. – Gavin ]

  37. 187
    Michael Sweet says:

    John Mashy at 178:

    I think you post is unclear. To add detail: Murray Salby is a well known denier. He has been fired for fraud and not doing his work. The deniers are upset that he has been caught. Unfortunately, the deniers will try to tar the real scientists with this fraud.

  38. 188
    David B. Benson says:

    Hank Roberts @185 — There is also a pockmark offshore from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The assumption is that during the last glacial the water was just cold enough for methane clathrates to form; less pressure requires colder water. During the deglaciation the water warmed and the clathrates, rather explosively, disassociated to release the methane. I have seen a video of an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico which caused such a release. It was sinking into the methane-water mixture in which it was no longer buoyant.

  39. 189
    wili says:

    Oops. Thanks for alerting me to that, Hank. Here are the proper links for methanetracker:,432.0.html

  40. 190
    Patrick 027 says:

    re 187 David B. Benson – “It was sinking into the methane-water mixture in which it was no longer buoyant. – interesting aside, that sounds like a hypothesis I think I’ve heard regarding disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle (A “Duck Tales” cartoon version had it that ships got trapped in the seaweed, as best I can recall; don’t take my word for it)…

    re my 181: “if you picture separate belts of varying PV gradients and winds,” – with a ‘default’ phase speed determined by assuming waves propagate as if amplitude and PV gradient are constant among neighboring belts, and then accounting for effects of variations as deviations from the default (vs. finding the wave behavior along PV fronts and how that changes when many PV fronts (such as infinite number of infinitesimal strength) or frontal zones run parallel to each other

    shorter wavelengths’ propagation ought to be more strongly affected by the wind and thus be deformed so as to tilt westward away from the jet, – here picturing a wave packet, once formed, wandering around with it’s group velocity. I can imagine reflection occurring by entering a shear zone, being turned around so as to reverse group velocity, etc…
    However, I’ve gotten the impression it is more typical (perhaps for good reason – if the waves propagate relatively fast through the air compared to the rate at which flow variations would deform them?) to consider wave propagation scenarios where waves emanating from a region with a set wavelength in some direction (say x, or in the x-y plane or x-z plane…) propagate with some component of group velocity in a perpendicular direction (y/z, or z, or y … respectively); the wavelength must stay constant along the first direction/plane and the phase speed must also relative to some frame of reference; then the variation in flow determines the variation in intrinsic phase speed (that with respect to the fluid at any location) and combined with the wavelength, determines the intrinsic frequency, and thus via some dispersion relation, determines the wavelength in the other direction – so we have a map of varying wave vector over space, and in some places intrinsic frequency goes to zero (critical lines) and becomes imaginary, etc.

  41. 191
    Russell says:

    Heartland legal eagle Peter Ferarra has been baldly misrepresenting the literature in Forbes again.

    This is the sixth or seventh time he and his sidekicks Taylot and Bell have been caught out by angry authors in the last year .

    Randall Donohue of CSIRO is their latest victim

  42. 192


    Glaciers don’t only depend upon global climate or even regional climate. Some may have a particular kind of micro-climate and grow while the glaciers over the next mountain range shrink.

    Glacier growth may remind some of irony which can be so broad that it seems to disappear.

  43. 193

    #186–Yes, I’ve been posted some of the recent ‘anecdotes,’ but I’m not suggesting that there is probative value–though I think that there is great illustrative value.

    On the research side, though, there is this:

    This study investigates the presence of trends in annual maximum daily precipitation time series obtained from a global dataset of 8326 high-quality land-based observing stations with more than 30 years of record over the period from 1900 to 2009.

    Two complementary statistical techniques were adopted to evaluate the possible nonstationary behavior of these precipitation data. The first was a Mann–Kendall nonparametric trend test, and it was used to evaluate the existence of monotonic trends. The second was a nonstationary generalized extreme value analysis, and it was used to determine the strength of association between the precipitation extremes and globally averaged near-surface temperature.

    The outcomes are that statistically significant increasing trends can be detected at the global scale, with close to two-thirds of stations showing increases. Furthermore, there is a statistically significant association with globally averaged near-surface temperature, with the median intensity of extreme precipitation changing in proportion with changes in global mean temperature at a rate of between 5.9% and 7.7% K−1, depending on the method of analysis. This ratio was robust irrespective of record length or time period considered and was not strongly biased by the uneven global coverage of precipitation data.

    Finally, there is a distinct meridional variation, with the greatest sensitivity occurring in the tropics and higher latitudes and the minima around 13°S and 11°N. The greatest uncertainty was near the equator because of the limited number of sufficiently long precipitation records, and there remains an urgent need to improve data collection in this region to better constrain future changes in tropical precipitation.

    (Paragraph breaks added for legibility.)


    Precipitation changes can affect society more directly than variations in most other meteorological observables, but precipitation is difficult to characterize because of fluctuations on nearly all temporal and spatial scales. In addition, the intensity of extreme precipitation rises markedly at higher temperature, faster than the rate of increase in the atmosphere’s water-holding capacity, termed the Clausius–Clapeyron rate. Invigoration of convective precipitation (such as thunderstorms) has been favoured over a rise in stratiform precipitation (such as large-scale frontal precipitation) as a cause for this increase, but the relative contributions of these two types of precipitation have been difficult to disentangle.

    Here we combine large data sets from radar measurements and rain gauges over Germany with corresponding synoptic observations and temperature records, and separate convective and stratiform precipitation events by cloud observations. We find that for stratiform precipitation, extremes increase with temperature at approximately the Clausius–Clapeyron rate, without characteristic scales. In contrast, convective precipitation exhibits characteristic spatial and temporal scales, and its intensity in response to warming exceeds the Clausius–Clapeyron rate. We conclude that convective precipitation responds much more sensitively to temperature increases than stratiform precipitation, and increasingly dominates events of extreme precipitation.

    Searching “increasing extreme precipitation” also produced quite a lot of regional-scale work.

  44. 194
    patrick says:

    Killian, check the graphic on economic convexity presented here by HJ (John) Schellnhuber (43:08) where he says, “And I will end with a little animation on this industrial revolution, so to speak. It goes like this…”

    In context it’s here: the “1st Keynote” at the “Four Degrees or More?” Conference:

  45. 195
  46. 196
    Hank Roberts says:

    For Peter Backes — here’s one way to check, search the site, e.g.

  47. 197
    Hank Roberts says:

    Russell, thanks (shudder) for the Peter Ferarra pointer.
    I didn’t see CSIRO mentioned on those pages, but found his earlier, um, interpretation of the science.

    Bloomberg quotes him on his availability to opine.

  48. 198
    patrick says:

    @201 Peter Backes, thanks for the link to Scott Mandia’s post on the defense fund. I think it tells you what time it is.

    “Going to the AGU 2013 Fall Conference? If so mark your calendars for Thursday December 12 between 12:30 – 1:30. CSLDF and AGU will be hosting a special brown bag lunch event titled Facing Legal Attack: Scientists Tell Their Stories featuring a panel discussion with Drs. Andrew Dessler, Katharine Hayhoe, Michael Mann, Naomi Oreskes, Ben Santer, and Kevin Trenberth, along with a few legal experts.”

    This subject connects to sessions at AGU 2012 Fall on the public communications dilemna for scientists raised by the events surrounding the Lacula earthquake(s)–worth looking up. The increasing involvement of aware meteorologists puts climate issues on the surface, you might say. Just put them in astronaut gear to make the point: it’s a mission to earth.

    Knowing you’ve got legal back-up lets you keep working instead of tightening up under pressure.

  49. 199

    #203–Ah, yes:

    Peter Ferrara, a senior policy adviser at the conservative Institute for Policy Innovation, says he, too, took money from Abramoff to write op-ed pieces boosting the lobbyist’s clients. “I do that all the time,” Ferrara says. “I’ve done that in the past, and I’ll do it in the future.”

    Ferrara, who has been an influential conservative voice on Social Security reform, among other issues, says he doesn’t see a conflict of interest in taking undisclosed money to write op-ed pieces because his columns never violated his ideological principles.

    Seems to me there’s a difference between writing on sympathetic subjects (which I certainly do myself, and hope to make at least a little from doing so) and writing a piece to order to advance the interests of specific parties, while maintaining a facade of ‘disinterest.’

  50. 200
    patrick says:

    Here’s the Skeptical Science review of Janin and Mandia’s book. If you are going to the Fall AGU, be sure to take with you a slide of the inset photo (note source). It’s a perfect image of (public interest in) the interface between meteorology and climate science.

    If you want to go farther just interview Stu Ostro in front a big screen of this photo–preferably in an astronaut’s suit–and ask him about the life support systems here. Or ‘there.’ Jill and David Archer please note.