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Unforced variations: Mar 2014

Filed under: — group @ 3 March 2014

This month’s open thread.


679 Responses to “Unforced variations: Mar 2014”

  1. 101
    prokaryotes says:

    #97, Eric Swanson, “..the albedo of water can be quite high.”

    Well, there are many studies who estimated the albedo loss from cryospheric degradation and they all have in common – a general agreement in regards to albedo forcing, and we can observe dramatic changes in the Arctic. So if you suggest all the estimates are bad, provide some study, thanks. Even if water can keep ice-albedo like properties, these are minimal at best when compared to a white snow or ice layer, i would suspect.

    At least waves, water composition, temperature, angle of incoming rays – seasons, different physical properties, particulates and clouds play a role.

    Water reflects light very differently from typical terrestrial materials. The reflectivity of a water surface is calculated using the Fresnel equations (see graph).

    At the scale of the wavelength of light even wavy water is always smooth so the light is reflected in a locally specular manner (not diffusely). The glint of light off water is a commonplace effect of this. At small angles of incident light, waviness results in reduced reflectivity because of the steepness of the reflectivity-vs.-incident-angle curve and a locally increased average incident angle.

    Although the reflectivity of water is very low at low and medium angles of incident light, it increases tremendously at high angles of incident light such as occur on the illuminated side of the Earth near the terminator (early morning, late afternoon and near the poles). However, as mentioned above, waviness causes an appreciable reduction. Since the light specularly reflected from water does not usually reach the viewer, water is usually considered to have a very low albedo in spite of its high reflectivity at high angles of incident light.

    Note that white caps on waves look white (and have high albedo) because the water is foamed up, so there are many superimposed bubble surfaces which reflect, adding up their reflectivities. Fresh ‘black’ ice exhibits Fresnel reflection. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albedo#Water

    “Just the melting of all the floating ice in the arctic ocean, will add as much heat to the earth, as all the Co-2 we put in the atmosphere to date.” Dr. James Lovelock

    Estimating the Global Radiative Impact of the Sea-Ice-Albedo Feedback in the Arctic
    ..a more realistic ice-free-summer scenario (no ice for one month, decreased ice at all other times of the year) results in a forcing of about 0.3 W m−2, similar to present-day anthropogenic forcing caused by halocarbons. The potential for changes in cloud cover as a result of the changes in sea ice makes the evaluation of the actual forcing that may be realized quite uncertain, since such changes could overwhelm the forcing caused by the sea-ice loss itself, if the cloudi- ness increases in the summertime. Source

  2. 102
    prokaryotes says:

    Re #97 Albedo claim by Eric Swanson

    A perfectly black surface has an albedo of zero percent and a perfectly white surface has an albedo of 100 percent. The albedo of fresh snow is typically between 80 and 90 percent whereas the albedo of the ocean surface is less than 20 percent. Clouds and other factors also influence the albedo of the Earth.
    The researchers calculated that the albedo of the Arctic region fell from 52 percent to 48 percent between 1979 and 2011.
    “It’s fairly intuitive to expect that replacing white, reflective sea ice with a dark ocean surface would increase the amount of solar heating,” said Pistone. “We used actual satellite measurements of both albedo and sea ice in the region to verify this and to quantify how much extra heat the region has absorbed due to the ice loss. It was quite encouraging to see how well the two datasets — which come from two independent satellite instruments — agreed with each other.”
    The National Science Foundation-funded study appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 45 years after atmospheric scientists Mikhail Budyko and William Sellers hypothesized that the Arctic would amplify global warming as sea ice melted.
    The Scripps study is the first to use direct satellite measurements to assess the changes in albedo associated with retreating sea ice. Previous studies have relied on computer models. The Scripps team used NASA’s CERES satellite instruments, as well as observations of sea ice cover made with other satellites.
    The researchers found that the magnitude of surface darkening has been two to three times as large as that found in previous studies. They also compared their results to model simulations to assess the capability of computer models to portray and forecast albedo changes.
    “Scientists have talked about Arctic melting and albedo decrease for nearly 50 years,” said Ramanathan, a distinguished professor of climate and atmospheric sciences who has previously conducted similar research on the global dimming effects of aerosols. “This is the first time this darkening effect has been documented on the scale of the entire Arctic.” Link

  3. 103
    Tony Weddle says:

    SA,

    Using adjectives like “plummeting” and “skyrocketing” does nothing to improve your argument. I’ve been reading about skyrocketing efficiencies for years and see little (by skyrocketing standards) improvement in what people can put on their roofs (or elsewhere). Even cost improvements seem to take ages to percolate down, though I wasn’t really talking about costs.

    David McKay’s talk was more about the area needed to provide the energy used by today’s societies, though it didn’t address (as far as I could tell) the resources needed for that infrastructure or whether electricity could be used to power our whole global civilisation.

    Sadly, there hasn’t been much work done on determining the limits of renewables (both environmentally and resource-wise).

    However, speculation that so-called renewable power is the solution does enable people to think that there are no limits and that can be comforting.

  4. 104
    DIOGENES says:

    Steve Fish #93,

    “You claim that- “Sharp demand reduction is a policy/action,” -but this would require all of the governments of the world to enforce it on all their citizens almost immediately and this idea is obviously utterly impossible. It is not a viable step in a plan.”

    Suppose you wanted to launch a mission to Pluto in the next decade, and you found there was a five minute window three years from now. Suppose you designed a plan that would allow you to meet that window, but it would cost one trillion dollars, and the voters and legislators are not willing to spend anywhere near that amount. What is it you have? Well, you have designed a plan that will meet the required objective, is doable in theory, but is not viable.

    Well, the plan I designed to avoid the climate Apocalypse is the only one I have seen that will meet the required objectives/targets. The main parts are not viable because the citizens and politicians of the planet have made an unstated decision that they are not willing to endure the privations necessary to meet the objectives. The plans I have seen that are viable will not even come close to meeting the targets or objectives. What is the value of a viable plan that will lead you straight into the climate Apocalypse, other than the Windfall it will provide for its supporters and sponsors?

    “Adults, when faced with a seemingly insoluble problem don’t dither about and argue that an action plan has to be established before any action can be taken. Instead, they pick out portions of the solution that are individually doable and get to work while continuing to look for better solutions.”

    Actions in the absence of targets are the foundation of Windfalls. Look, my plan, stated in #63, has a lifestyle maintenance component. That includes rapid implementation of low-carbon technologies, energy efficiency improvement technologies, and other measures we have known about for years. Someone can obviously implement the lifestyle maintenance component of my plan only and achieve what you want. It won’t avoid the climate Apocalypse, but it will insure that a few are in ‘fat city’.

    “The problem is fossil fuel pollution and the obvious solution is to switch to nonpolluting energy as quickly as possible. You claim that this can’t be done quickly enough? Prove it or, better yet, think of ways to make this happen. I can. Ultimately, renewable energy is the only solution.”

    Your first sentence is not correct, and your conclusion is not correct. The problem is threefold: massive fossil fuel emissions now; high CO2e concentration in the atmosphere now; autonomous emission of GHGs that we have already unleashed, especially in the Arctic. Addressing any one of these problems is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition to solve the problem. Any credible plan has to address all three. My plan addresses the first two, and has severe requirements for both because of the urgency of time in which the problem must be corrected. The hope, as Hansen points out, is that a ceiling on temperature could hold the positive feedbacks to manageable levels. My plan would offer reasonable chances of staying within this ceiling. If further computations show that such a temperature ceiling is insufficient to control the positive feedbacks, then some form of geo-engineering might be required. I have not included geo-engineering in my plan so far, since I view such unproven actions on a global scale as a last resort.

  5. 105
  6. 106
    Fred Magyar says:

    Some food for thought, (pun intended)
    http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/
    http://www.uni-kiel.de/ecology/users/fmueller/salzau2006/ea_presentations/Data/2006-07-05_-_Thermodynamics_II.pdf
    Thermodynamic Footprint http://www.paulchefurka.ca/TF.html

    Meeting of anaerobic bacteria circa 3.5 billion years ago… “we need to tax the oxygen production of those pesky cyanobacteria, they are destroying our environment!”

    There is nothing that I have seen in my 60 plus years on this planet that gives me any reason to believe that collectively humans are any smarter than yeast or the cyanobacteria that changed the atmosphere about 3.5 billion years ago! Every where I go I see drastic changes to every part of the ecosystem that supports human life. Those changes are caused mostly by humans! Humans have only been around for a blink of an eye and there is nothing special about us in terms of long term staying power… “The planet is fine it’s the people that are f@cked! Pack your bags folks, we’re leaving!” The late great George Carlin.

  7. 107
    Chris G says:

    One could map out global surface reflectance and how it varies with time (season) from analysis of data MODIS, ETM+, etc. Three questions:
    1) Has that been done and, if so, where’s the database?
    2) How much of an effect does reflectance (emissivity) variation have on climate model predictions? (Do climate models incorporate wavelength-dependence or do they just use a single effective albedo?)

  8. 108
    DIOGENES says:

    Tony Weddle #103,

    “However, speculation that so-called renewable power is the solution does enable people to think that there are no limits and that can be comforting.”

    More importantly, it enables lucrative Windfalls for those who ‘speculate’ that renewable power is the solution, but offer no tangible evidence other than adjectives like ‘plummeting’ and ‘skyrocketing’. These ‘speculations’ are nothing more than unpaid advertisements!

  9. 109
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Just a wild thought. I wonder what effect on albedo there might be from the undulating nature of a fluid surface compared to a flatter ice surface. If the low angle of the sun were a limiting factor, you might get an effect that goes both ways, increasing variability. Also, if angular effects were significant, it seems to me that any increased energy on top of what would be a very low baseline could significantly affect dynamics.

  10. 110
    Eric Swanson says:

    Re: prokaryotes #101 & #102 – I do not disagree with claims that there will be an increase in energy into the Arctic Ocean as sea-ice declines. My disagreement is with the earlier assessments which claim that this increase will be large and due in most part to the changes in the relative areas covered by sea-ice and open water. As your references point out, during summer, sea-ice melts and ponds form, thus the sea-ice albedo declines sharply. The energy absorbed enters the sea-ice and causes further melting. Little of that energy penetrates the sea-ice and warms the water below, so there isn’t going to be much additional melting after the melt season has ended. I think this process is seen in the fact that the Spring maximum sea-ice extent has seen little change, while the Fall minimum has exhibited considerable decline. As it is, the yearly sea-ice minimum in the Arctic occurs near the Equinox, when the sun slips below the horizon at the North Pole.

    Your second reference notes:

    “The Scripps study is the first to use direct satellite measurements to assess the changes in albedo associated with retreating sea ice. Previous studies have relied on computer models. The Scripps team used NASA’s CERES satellite instruments, as well as observations of sea ice cover made with other satellites.”

    One should be aware that the CERES is another of those cross track scanners and they are mounted on satellites with sun synchronous orbits, which thus results in an inability to directly measure all the energy reflected from pixels with high solar zenith angle orientations. Also, the orbits cross the highest latitudes at early morning or late evening times (~equator crossing time +/-12 hrs), which puts the instruments in such situations most of the year. The CERES data in the study is adjusted using a model to calculate the reflected energy from the actual measurements. The next question is, obviously: “How good are those adjustments?”…

  11. 111
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Eric Swanson,
    But if you are correct, then any increase in solar energy absorbed will be on top of a very low baseline, won’t it? As such, it could significantly affect the dynamics of the cryosphere.

  12. 112
    Eric Swanson says:

    Darned. The local time of highest latitude ground track passage occurs at local equatorial crossing time +/-6 hours, not 12. The Aqua satellite has a daylight equator crossing time of 1:30PM local time and Terra crosses at 10:30AM local.

  13. 113
    prokaryotes says:

    Eric, please provide a study to further explain your disagreement with the science.

  14. 114
    SecularAnimist says:

    Tony Weddle wrote: “Using adjectives like ‘plummeting’ and ‘skyrocketing’ does nothing to improve your argument.”

    I’m not making any “argument”. I am trying to communicate real-world information about the cost and EROI of solar and wind. Those adjectives are entirely appropriate and if anything are an understatement.

    Hard data on the rapidly plummeting cost and skyrocketing efficiency of both wind turbines and solar photovoltaics is readily available online if you want to look at the real world numbers. They are quite different from the outdated numbers that peak oil theorists like Richard Heinberg wrote about years ago.

    Mainstream, mass market silicon PV panels today cost about half what they cost in 2008, and 100 times less than much less efficient panels cost in 1977. The cost of installed PV systems dropped 15 percent in 2013 alone — that’s one reason why solar accounted for 29 percent of new US electricity generation capacity in 2013, up from 10 percent in 2012, second only to natural gas. More solar capacity has been deployed in the USA in the last 18 months than in the previous 30 years.

    Some references from the Solar Energy Industries Association, if you are interested in following up:

    http://www.seia.org/research-resources/solar-market-insight-2013-q3

    http://www.seia.org/news/new-report-us-solar-market-grows-41-has-record-year-2013

    Regarding wind power, a February 2012 report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that “Recent declines in turbine prices & improved technology have reduced the estimated LCOE [levelized cost of energy] of wind; LCOE for projects being planned today in fixed resource areas is estimated to be at an all-time low … the LCOE for 2012-2013 projects is estimated to be as much as ~24% and ~39% lower than the previous low in 2002-2003 …”

    PDF available at:

    http://emp.lbl.gov/sites/all/files/wind-energy-costs-2-2012_0.pdf

    The American Wind Energy Association reports that “American wind power topped 4 percent of the U.S. power grid for the first time last year and has delivered 30 percent of all new generating capacity for the last five years. In Iowa and South Dakota, wind power now exceeds 25 percent of total electricity production. In nine states it provided more than 12 percent and in 17 states, more than five percent … In a 2010 study, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory reported over 10 million MW of wind resource in the U.S., enough to power the equivalent of the nation’s total electricity needs 10 times over.”

    With minimal and unreliable support from public policy, both wind and solar power are growing rapidly and are already making major contributions to eliminating GHG emissions from electricity generation. Much more is possible, and much faster progress is possible, with support from appropriate public policies.

  15. 115
    SecularAnimist says:

    Tony Weddle wrote: “Using adjectives like ‘plummeting’ and ‘skyrocketing’ does nothing to improve your argument.”

    By the way, it is interesting — and disappointing — that your response complains about the “adjectives” I used, and completely ignores the two peer-reviewed studies on the EROI of solar and wind that I linked to and excerpted, which were a direct and substantive response to your comment “regarding EROI and energy needed for our industrial economy”.

  16. 116
    prokaryotes says:

    Re THC and abrupt developments.

    Rapid Reductions in North Atlantic Deep Water During the Peak of the Last Interglacial Period [..] southward expansions of polar water influence, suggesting that a buoyancy threshold for convective instability was triggered by freshwater and circum-Arctic cryosphere changes. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/343/6175/1129.abstract

  17. 117
    SecularAnimist says:

    Joe Romm has a good article today discussing the relationship between global warming and the California drought:

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/03/07/3370481/california-drought/

  18. 118
    Killian says:

    Re 18 SA: “What experts who have studied the issue have found — and have detailed in numerous studies — is that we can, if we choose, eliminate ALL fossil fuel use much more quickly and easily and at much lower cost than most people realize, with very large reductions achievable up front.”

    And I’ve seen studies that show renewables can’t power industrial civilisation, as we know it, because of the low net energy return (even if the resources were available to build out a big enough infrastructure). Of course, air travel and international trade, as we know it, would be impossible.

    The problem is the failure to do a proper resource assessment to determine what the planet can provide vs. what we wish we could keep. However, there is more immediate problem, no? Rapid Climate Change? So, the question is, what does THAT require of us? So, what is the problem, what are the resources? Stop talking about anything else until you figure this out first.

    Let’s take the 2nd first. What level of GHG’s equals a (relatively) stable climate, say similar to the period 1 CE to 1850 CE? The best proxy for this is Arctic Sea Ice. If you check the historical extent record you see it measurably started falling @ 1953. CO2 at that time? 315, iirc.

    Now, we all accept climate has a 30 year lag, roughly, due to ocean overturning, yes? So, we can guestimate the conditions for ice melt really were being put in place by 1900 – 1925. What was CO2 then? @ 300. Took a while for the extra heat to warm the oceans is my take. Atmospheric temps probably had little to do with ASI melt till the warming restarted in the 1970′s.

    We also have a couple million years of the Ice Age in which CO2 never went above @ 300. These two extremely well-correlated facts frame where we must be. Anything above that risks continued warming, even if at a slower rate than today – if, say, we could get to and hold at 350 ppm.

    So, 300 is the threshold. What can we do at 300 ppm without going above 300? A lot less than we do today, at least in terms of industry. We can intentionally raise the level of sequestration to fudge this a bit so consumption might be able to be a bit above what equaled a steady 300 ppm back then, but consumption must drop to something between 1700 and 1800.

    The more informed here will recognize innovation, rediscovered old tech and new tech combined can give us a higher standard of living than in, say, 1850, but let’s set this issue aside for brevity.

    The fact is, consumption must fall dramatically to 1. get back to <300 ppm and can then 2. rebound a bit to maintain < 300. Those who frame this discussion in terms of maintaining current productive ability are quite simply either ignoring or dismissing facts we cannot afford to dismiss.

    The resources simply do not exist for even an extensive "renewables" energy system. We have plenty of resources for a sustainable lifestyle. Many of you will likely confuse that with a caveman-like existence, which is not the case.

    Still, even if you only frame this in terms of CO2 levels, it is clear consumption must fall dramatically for **at least some extended period of time,** and if we are going to bother for a century or so, why not just keep that up?

    Nature is framing the conversation for you. Listen.

  19. 119
    Eric Swanson says:

    prokaryotes #113 – Here’s one:

    Perovich et al., “Increasing solar heating of the Arctic Ocean and adjacent seas, 1979–2005: Attribution and role in the ice-albedo feedback”, GRL 2007, which says:

    “Pegau and Paulson [2001] determined that while the albedo of open water in Arctic pack ice had modest variations due to solar zenith angle and cloud conditions, a value of 0.07 was typical and representative. The ocean albedo is set equal to 0.07 for all calculations in this paper.”

    Sad to say, that’s not what Pegau and Paulson concluded. They claim higher albedo for high zenith angles, agreeing with work published by Paine in 1972, which also as indicated in your #101 Wiki link above. Perovich has done lots of data collection which shows the effects of surface melt ponds on albedo, as also shown by Pistone et al. in figure 3 of their recent PNAS paper: “Observational determination of albedo decrease caused by vanishing Arctic sea ice”.

  20. 120
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by DIOGENES — 7 Mar 2014 @ 6:13 AM, ~#104

    In this comment you admit that your plan is not viable, so why do you keep repeating it? You say that the “absence of targets are the foundation of windfalls.” In other words, nobody should profit from a shift to renewables. Tell this to your local photovoltaic retailer and installer. It seems to me that one of the more possible scenarios out of our mess is for a bunch of corporations to make outrageous profits in the switch to renewable energy. They have the resources and power to get the job done and they could be revved up like Franklin D. Roosevelt did to alter the U.S. economy for WWII. Do you really think that outrageous profit is worse than apocalypse?

    Finally, there is no point in future climate warming that suddenly produces an apocalypse (biblical end of everything). Instead there would be a graded response to increasing CO2. The more positive changes we make now will result in more future ecological diversity and fewer human deaths from starvation and war. Just quit stalling. Again, what “personal deprivation and hardships required to avoid the climate Apocalypse” are you currently volunteering for the cause?

    Steve

  21. 121
    Dan Bloom says:

    CLI FI COMMUNITY ALERT: cli fi writers seminar March 21 – #clifi – http://www.vabook.org/site14/program/details.php?eventID=85

  22. 122
    barry says:

    I’ve been reading up on studies about the jet stream and the polar vortex (yup, someone on the internet is wrong). Recent explanations about the weakening of the jet stream from a reduced equator to pole temperature gradient tie extreme weather in the northern mid-latitudes to AGW. But the history of research on the atmospheric circulation seems to conflict with recent theory – which I assume is driven mainly by Jennifer Francis and colleagues, and which is what US science advisor Holdren is referring to when he says there is a growing body of evidence linking meandering jet stream behaviour to Arctic temperature amplification. Prior to the 2010s, it seems that it was expected the polar vortex would strengthen under global warming, factoring GHGs, temperature, ozone and sea ice.

    As the topic has received quite a bit of press due to winter’s weather events in the UK and US, it would be great to have a realclimate post on recent developments and historical context of the science. My immediate interest is to understand the scientific validity of the recent hypothesis, and more generally to understand the processes and interactions affecting NH atmospheric circulation, particularly the jet stream and polar vortex. If I had my druthers, I’d love to see Jennifer Francis or other expert do an overview. But I’d be greatful for any comments/pointers. (Hank, I’m still trawling google scholar, checking the cite lists too, but if you have any tips, bring them on)

  23. 123
    simon abingdon says:

    #109 Ray Ladbury “Just a wild thought.”

    Not a wild thought Ray; that would be uncharacteristic. Rather, it’s yet another reasonable question that needs answering before climatology can ever claim to be a mature science.

  24. 124
    DIOGENES says:

    Steve Fish #120,

    “In this comment you admit that your plan is not viable, so why do you keep repeating it?”

    What I said specifically was “the plan I designed to avoid the climate Apocalypse is the only one I have seen that will meet the required objectives/targets. The main parts are not viable because the citizens and politicians of the planet have made an unstated decision that they are not willing to endure the privations necessary to meet the objectives.”

    I also said “The plans I have seen that are viable will not even come close to meeting the targets or objectives. What is the value of a viable plan that will lead you straight into the climate Apocalypse, other than the Windfall it will provide for its supporters and sponsors?”. I could ask you the same question: why do you and SA continually repeat the call for actions that will not even come close to meeting the targets or objectives?

    “You say that the “absence of targets are the foundation of windfalls.” In other words, nobody should profit from a shift to renewables.”

    Again, the SA tactic of attributing statements to me I never made. What my statement says is that if you are proposing actions that you have not shown will meet the targets necessary to avoid the worst of the climate Apocalypse, their effect will be to create Windfalls for their proponents. Why else would anyone propose such actions? In any other field of endeavor, people usually propose actions that will solve a problem, and the proposal usually is required to demonstrate that. In the climate change amelioration business, the usual rules don’t seem to apply. You/SA propose actions with no evidence they will reach the necessary targets. In fact, Anderson has shown with – gasp – actual computations that the supply side is insufficient to stay within 2 C as peak temperature; fossil demand reductions are REQUIRED. If that’s the case for 2 C, fossil demand reductions must be the predominant mode to come even close to 1 C.

    “It seems to me that one of the more possible scenarios out of our mess is for a bunch of corporations to make outrageous profits in the switch to renewable energy. They have the resources and power to get the job done and they could be revved up like Franklin D. Roosevelt did to alter the U.S. economy for WWII. Do you really think that outrageous profit is worse than apocalypse?”

    Oh, don’t worry, a bunch of corporations (and their myriad front men) will make outrageous profits in the switch to renewable energy, and nuclear (if we go that route), and geo-engineering (if we go that route), and whatever other technologies can be foisted on an unsuspecting public as the ‘solution’. I don’t have problem with them making profit, as long as the actions resulted in avoiding the worst of the climate Apocalypse. Unfortunately, all we will get is their making the profit, and we the citizenry heading directly into the climate Apocalypse. The choice is not between profit and Apocalypse, since the profit will occur and the actions will have little impact on avoiding the Apocalypse.

    Actions in the absence of targets are the foundation of Windfalls. My plan, stated in #63 and the only one on the climate blogs that could avoid the worst of the climate Apocalypse if implemented, has a lifestyle maintenance component. That includes rapid implementation of low-carbon technologies, energy efficiency improvement technologies, and other measures we have known about for years. Someone can obviously implement the lifestyle maintenance component of my plan only and achieve what you want. It won’t avoid the climate Apocalypse, but it will insure that a few are in ‘fat city’. The demand reduction is the essential component at this late point in time, and much of it could be implemented starting today.

  25. 125
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Simon,
    Horse puckey! Climate science is older than evolution, older than electromagnetism, older than thermodynamics. The prediction that we would warm the planet is older than relativity, older than plate tectonics, and 11 years older than Al Gore’s father.

    The basic elements of the consensus theory of Earth’s climate haven’t changed since about the 1950s. Anthropogenic warming is an inevitable consequence of that theory if we insist on dumping powerful greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

    There are things we do not know, but at the same time, there are things we can take to the bank. A scientist would know the difference. Don’t mistake your own ignorance for global ignorance.

  26. 126
    DIOGENES says:

    Killian #118,

    “The fact is, consumption must fall dramatically to 1. get back to <300 ppm and can then 2. rebound a bit to maintain < 300. Those who frame this discussion in terms of maintaining current productive ability are quite simply either ignoring or dismissing facts we cannot afford to dismiss."

    You are 100% correct. Unfortunately, as with my plan in #63 that requires severe fossil demand reduction to achieve its targets, that's not the message even posters on a climate advocacy blog want to hear, much less the general public. The plans that will offer even a chance of avoiding the worst of the climate Apocalypse are not salable because of their hard demand reductions (and ensuing global economic collapse), and the plans that are salable will insure an express ride to the Apocalypse. We know what has to be done; is there any way you see to get this accomplished in the real-world?

  27. 127
    prokaryotes says:

    Eric Swanson: During summer, when there’s sunlight in the Arctic, the zenith angle for the incoming solar energy is quite large. Thus, under clear sky conditions when the energy beaming down is at a maximum, the albedo of water can be quite high, – See more at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/03/unforced-variations-mar-2014/comment-page-2/#comments

    Yes, but for how long is the incoming Sun’s ray angle actually in that “pseudo-albedo” position? What are the actual angle’s you referring to and what is considered “albedo-like” angle? Further, you’ve to factor in inter-annual variability of sea ice thickness and extent. I would assume study models or observation calculations will take this into account and estimate the mean. You really need to provide more explicit findings – and not from 2007, since the science is advancing fast.

    When you plot observational sea ice data to satellite measurements of albedo you should be able to verify the actual impact, thus your arguments in regard to albedo changes (or cloud cover) in time and space might be interesting but doesn’t change the general assumptions, the observations.

    However, because extra energy warmth surface water, you would require to take water samples from below to really understand the entire situation. “Will ocean heat uptake come back to haunt us?”

    On another note, freshwater influx creates a cold water lid (even a bulge) in the Arctic – protecting sea ice to some extent. But how fast is the Arctic water warming beneath the freshwater lid? And what happens if wind changes drive warmer waters through the lid? And what exactly happens if the freshwater spills into other Oceans?

  28. 128
    prokaryotes says:

    Eric mentioned the “Observational determination of albedo decrease caused by vanishing Arctic sea ice” study, here more data:

    Significance

    The Arctic sea ice retreat has been one of the most dramatic climate changes in recent decades. Nearly 50 y ago it was predicted that a darkening of the Arctic associated with disappearing ice would be a consequence of global warming. Using satellite measurements, this analysis directly quantifies how much the Arctic as viewed from space has darkened in response to the recent sea ice retreat. We find that this decline has caused 6.4 ± 0.9 W/m2 of radiative heating since 1979, considerably larger than expectations from models and recent less direct estimates. Averaged globally, this albedo change is equivalent to 25% of the direct forcing from CO2 during the past 30 y.

    Abstract

    The decline of Arctic sea ice has been documented in over 30 y of satellite passive microwave observations. The resulting darkening of the Arctic and its amplification of global warming was hypothesized almost 50 y ago but has yet to be verified with direct observations. This study uses satellite radiation budget measurements along with satellite microwave sea ice data to document the Arctic-wide decrease in planetary albedo and its amplifying effect on the warming. The analysis reveals a striking relationship between planetary albedo and sea ice cover, quantities inferred from two independent satellite instruments. We find that the Arctic planetary albedo has decreased from 0.52 to 0.48 between 1979 and 2011, corresponding to an additional 6.4 ± 0.9 W/m2 of solar energy input into the Arctic Ocean region since 1979. Averaged over the globe, this albedo decrease corresponds to a forcing that is 25% as large as that due to the change in CO2 during this period, considerably larger than expectations from models and other less direct recent estimates. Changes in cloudiness appear to play a negligible role in observed Arctic darkening, thus reducing the possibility of Arctic cloud albedo feedbacks mitigating future Arctic warming. http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/02/13/1318201111.abstract | doi: 10.1073/pnas.1318201111

    So Eric, Pegau and Paulson was from 2001 and they used melt ponds and models? So why relay only on them on your argument?

  29. 129
    prokaryotes says:

    Btw if you type the name into the search the second thing which pops up is WUWT and they even offer the paper for download, lol.

  30. 130
    prokaryotes says:

    In any case here is a legit download of the paper

    K. Pistone, I. Eisenman, and V. Ramanathan (2014). Observational determination of albedo decrease caused by vanishing Arctic sea ice. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 111, 3322-3326. http://eisenman.ucsd.edu/reprints/Pistone-Eisenman-Ramanathan-2014.pdf

  31. 131
    Dave Peters says:

    California got normal rain in February, in parts, but March is not looking wet. The subject is likely to linger this year. Here are some current WH thoughts:

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/critique_of_pielke_jr_statements_on_drought.pdf

  32. 132
    Eric Swanson says:

    prokaryotes #127, 128, 129, 130 – Your rants are noted. Clearly, sea-ice with melt ponds will have lower albedo than sea-ice with snow cover and the data show this. Also, I don’t disagree with the overall finding that there’s an Arctic Amplification due to the difference in albedo between sea-ice and open water. My questioning is about the size of that difference and the resulting effects.

    I have no clue what you mean when you write “pseudo-albedo” and “albedo-like” angle. The zenith angle varies thru the day at the top of the atmosphere and can be calculated for any position minute-by-minute for any date thru the year.

    It’s been known for many years that the surface waters of Arctic Ocean are freshened by melting sea-ice and runoff from rivers. That does not impede the formation of new sea-ice, once the air temperature falls in Winter. When the sea-ice forms later in the year, the freezing process rejects brine and thus the resulting sea-ice has a lower salt content than the surface water below.

  33. 133
    Hank Roberts says:

    > “Prior to the 2010s, it seems that it was expected”

    Suggestion: Post a brief summary and links to what you’ve found so far that sums up, to attract the attention of the real scientists who know more and might join the conversation (the standard advice from http://www.catb.org/esr/faqs/smart-questions.html‎ )

    > “my plan … avoid”

    Good advice for the 1950s, woefully outdated now — we’re well into it.
    “Don’t go there” is helpful before trouble. Too late for that now.
    But I expect everyone’s glad you’ve caught up that far. Keep reading. Remember, others have been through this, you’re rediscovering what’s known.

  34. 134
    SecularAnimist says:

    To speak of “consumption” without specifying consumption of WHAT, to speak of “growth” without specifying growth of WHAT, to speak of “demand” without specifying demand for WHAT, to speak of “reductions” without specifying reductions in WHAT — this is obfuscatory, not illuminating.

  35. 135
    Peter Shepherd says:

    A British geologist & TV nature show host said (~ 2009) that we’re now burning 3 million years worth of paleo-historic fossil (or it might have been oil only) production per year. I emailed him to ask where he got these figures, he said he’d get back with details from those who sent him the original calculations but never heard back. Does this sound right for either all fossil, or simply oil paleo-production/present consumption rates?

  36. 136
    prokaryotes says:

    Eric Swanson, if you take my comments as ranting then you’ve misunderstood something. “Like-Albedo” stands for the supposed larger albedo of watery areas you allege might exist during summer time when the sun is in it’s zenith, with areas considered ice free (-15%), besides the latest assessments from satellites. I asked you about any evidence to back up your arguments, but you only cite some references which do not support your questions.

  37. 137
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    As a warm up for our annual model-data comparison enjoy the Climate Model Bake-Off. It links to a pdf you get for free. In that pdf one thing does not look obviously right to me: “a run with an instantaneous quadrupling of CO2 to derive the equilibrium climate sensitivity;”. Doubtless team RC can explain why this is a good approach. Is sensitivity the same at all starting temperatures? Does the pathway to a certain CO2 concentration make a difference? How is potential Arctic carbon release handled?

  38. 138
    deconvoluter says:

    Re: #105 prokaryotes. Daisy World.

    Clouds = white daisies ?? (i.e. all clouds), incorrectly implying a world with low climate sensitivity?

    Is this neglect of cirrus clouds and long wavelengths due to advice given by James Lovelock or Richard Lindzen? I think it may confuse those trying to learn.

  39. 139
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Global warming and changes in drought.
    Kevin E. Trenberth, Aiguo Dai, Gerard van der Schrier Philip D. Jones Jonathan Barichivich Keith R. Briffa, Justin Sheffield 2013

    Note that Dai and Sheffield are co-authors.

  40. 140
  41. 141
    Thomas says:

    Pter @135. That sounds ball-parky (to coin a phrase) correct. The reasoning is that the deposits are mostly from the last 300 million years, and we are consuming them in the century timeframe. Of course the deposition rate was far from constant, and much buried carbon has been lost due to geologic processes, so I don’t think anything which attempts to be more accurate than order of magnitude makes sense.

  42. 142
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Peter Shepherd — 8 Mar 2014 @ 1:38 PM, ~#135

    This is a good start if you want to know more about fossil carbon formation and the carbon cycle.
    http://old.dgeo.udec.cl/~gshaffer/MSCfiles/Literature/BernerNature2003.pdf

    Steve

  43. 143
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by DIOGENES — 8 Mar 2014 @ 6:32 AM, ~#124 and elsewhere

    OK let’s summarize. Folks who advocate a fast switch to nonpolluting energy starting as soon as possible are acting like shills of carbon polluting industries because this isn’t viable as a complete solution to the problem. In contrast, you have a plan that you have admitted has a nonviable principal component and thereby is not a complete solution to the problem, but you think that you are not acting like a shill of polluting industries.

    I am still waiting for examples of demand reduction sacrifice that you insist others should undergo and if you are setting a good example of this.

    Steve

  44. 144
    barry says:

    Hank@133

    Your link no longer exists, but thanks for the suggestion. I’ll try again.

    Below is a list of papers proposing that a shallower equator to pole temperature gradient due to GHG-incurred Arctic amplification may be responsinble for a weakened polar jet stream and more southerly excursions.

    I am curious to know how robust the theory is – something I can’t figure out just from trawling google scholar. US science advisor John Holdren refers to a “growing body of evidence” as he explained why extreme weather events in northern mid-latitudes may be linked to anthropogenic global warming, saying he believed the “odds are good” that this will occur more frequently in future.

    ——————————————————————————-

    Winter Northern Hemisphere weather patterns remember summer Arctic sea-ice extent – Francis et al (2009)
    doi:10.1029/2009GL037274

    Large-scale atmospheric circulation changes are associated with the recent loss of Arctic sea ice – Overland & Wang (2010)
    doi:10.1111/j.1600-0870.2009.00421.x

    Warm Arctic–cold continents: climate impacts of the newly open Arctic Sea – Overland et al (2011)
    doi:10.3402/polar.v30i0.15787

    Impact of a Reduced Arctic Sea Ice Cover on Ocean and Atmospheric Properties – Sedlacek et al (2011)
    doi:10.1175/2011JCLI3904.1

    Impact of sea ice cover changes on the Northern Hemisphere atmospheric winter circulation – Jaiser et al (2012)
    doi:10.3402/tellusa.v64i0.11595

    The recent shift in early summer Arctic atmospheric circulation – Overland et al (2012)
    doi:10.1029/2012GL053268

    Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes – Francis & Vavrus (2012)
    doi:10.1029/2012GL051000

    The Atmospheric Response to Three Decades of Observed Arctic Sea Ice Loss – Screen et al (2013)
    doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00063.1

    Cold winter extremes in northern continents linked to Arctic sea ice loss – Tang et al (2013)
    doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/1/014036

    Warm Arctic, cold continents: A common pattern related to Arctic sea ice melt, snow advance, and extreme winter weather – Cohen et al (2013)
    doi:10.5670/oceanog.2013.70

    ——————————————————————————-

    These developments are somewhat antithetical to predictions made in the 90s and 2000s, when the polar vortex was in a strong phase (positive AO). Eg,

    ——————————————————————————-

    Simulation of recent northern winter climate trends by greenhouse-gas forcing – Shindell et al (1999)
    doi:10.1038/20905

    TAR 2001 – Ch 9.3.5.4
    “A few studies have shown increasingly positive trends in the indices of the NAO/AO or the AAO in simulations with increased greenhouse gases, although this is not true in all models, and the magnitude and character of the changes varies
    across models.”

    Dynamics of Recent Climate Change in the Arctic – Moritz et al (2002)
    doi:10.1126/science.1076522

    AR4 2007 – Ch 10.3.5.6
    “A plausible explanation for the cause of the upward NAM trend simulated by the models is an intensifi cation of the polar vortex resulting from both tropospheric warming and stratospheric cooling mainly due to the increase in greenhouse gases (Shindell et al., 2001; Sigmond et al., 2004; Rind et al.,2005a).”

    AR4 2007 – Ch 11.8.1.1
    “In the future, global models project a positive trend in the NAO/NAM during the 21st century”

    ——————————————————————————

    Because of the press on the recent weather extremes in the NH and focus on the polar jet stream, including Holdren’s public remarks giving credence to the hypothesis that global warming may be responsible for weakening the polar jet, there is greater public consciousness of the topic (and some minor controversy). A realclimate overview with some historical context would be useful. I note Gavin was a co-author of Shindell et al 1999.

    Once again, any comments/leads greatfully received.

  45. 145
    DIOGENES says:

    Steve Fish #143,

    “OK let’s summarize. Folks who advocate a fast switch to nonpolluting energy starting as soon as possible are acting like shills of carbon polluting industries because this isn’t viable as a complete solution to the problem.”

    Again, the Secular approach of attributing statements to me I never made. The goal of rapid switching to renewables WITHOUT STRONG DEMAND REDUCTION, which is what you/Secular are proposing, will yield Windfalls for the proponents (and their front men), but will result in an express ride to the climate Apocalypse. Why would anyone support such a losing proposition; that’s like investing in a Yugo after it’s been on the market for five years!

    “In contrast, you have a plan that you have admitted has a nonviable principal component and thereby is not a complete solution to the problem, but you think that you are not acting like a shill of polluting industries.”

    My plan is the only self-consistent plan on the climate blogs that will offer any chance of avoiding the worst of the climate Apocalypse. As listed in #63, it requires severe fossil demand reduction to achieve its targets. That’s not the message the Type 2 deniers who post on a climate advocacy blog want to hear, much less the general public. The plans that will offer even a chance of avoiding the worst of the climate Apocalypse are not salable because of their hard demand reductions (and ensuing global economic collapse), and the plans that are salable (such as yours/Secular’s) will insure an express ride to the climate Apocalypse. Now, if you had any interest in avoiding the worst of the Apocalypse, you might think about ways in which my plan could be made viable. It’s the only way out!

    “I am still waiting for examples of demand reduction sacrifice that you insist others should undergo and if you are setting a good example of this.”

    Secular must have sent in a new play from the sidelines: divert! I’m not playing that game; I remain focused on avoiding the climate Apocalypse.

  46. 146
    DIOGENES says:

    Pk #140,

    http://guymcpherson.com/2014/03/presenting-in-olympia-washington/

    McPherson’s response to a general question on extinction; relates to your post “Climate Change Pushes World to Brink of Food Crisis”. Do you agree or disagree with his response; why?

    Q: “He mentions 3.5 C by the 2030′s means extinction but does not explain very well why or by what manner. People want to know exactly (and specifically) what events will cause extinction, not just that humans have not been around at those temperatures in the past. That is not sufficient explanation. They feel we’re more advanced so we could develop technologies to survive higher temperatures than our ancestors.”

    A: “It’s about habitat for humans, not about temperature per se. As I’ve explained frequently, we need food. Our food comes from two sources: oceans and land. We’ve lost half the phytoplankton in the ocean at 0.85 C above baseline. At 3.5 C above baseline, we’ll lose all or nearly all the phytoplankton, the base of the marine food web. Also at 3.5 C, we’ll lose habitat for all or nearly all land plants because of temperature fluctuations and denaturing of proteins.”

    [Response: This is complete nonsense. 'Denaturing of proteins' does not occur with a 3.5ºC change in global mean temperatures. The Jurassic would have been a rather tough time if that were even approximately true. - gavin]

  47. 147
    DIOGENES says:

    Gavin #146,

    Appreciate the comments. However, I find it interesting that you offered immediate comments on a question I raised with Prokaryotes about McPherson’s statement , but neither you, nor any of the other moderators, have offered any comments on the plan I put forth that might offer a chance to ameliorate climate change (#63). Any reason?

    [Response: I prefer to talk about stuff I know something about. On other topics, it's usually best to listen. - gavin]

  48. 148
    prokaryotes says:

    Diogenes, as much as i welcome strong messaging,Guy McPherson lost his credibility with his fatalistic one way messaging of unpreventable doom. And surprise, he plays exactly the role the denial machine needs for their alarmist claims. Just ask yourself why would he bother if everything is set into stone already?

    See, we only just begun to experience the emissions we helped to emit 40 years ago

  49. 149
    SecularAnimist says:

    Recommended reading for anyone interested in multiple, detailed studies with real numbers attached on what it will take for clean energy to make a major contribution to ending GHG emissions:

    Green Bank Academy Provides Lessons Learned, Direction For States Looking To Help Finance Clean Energy
    By James Lester
    CleanTechnica.com
    March 9 2014

    Excerpt:

    The clean energy sector, backed by innovative entrepreneurs, investors, and government policymakers, has seen enormous growth over the past 6 years. US solar power capacity recently surpassed 10 gigawatts as the price of solar panels has fallen some 75% during the past 5 years … Wind installations have surged past 60 gigawatts and non-hydro renewable energy sources accounted for more than 99% of all new US electrical generating capacity installed during January. These numbers are spurring new investment from the private sector, but this investment is not enough to close the gap and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

    Ceres, a coalition of investors, industries, and environmental groups that advocates for sustainable business development, recently completed an analysis looking at closing this gap, identified as the Clean Trillion. In order to limit global warming to 2°C and avoid the worst effects of climate change, the world needs to invest an additional $36 trillion in clean energy, an average of $1 trillion per year for the next 36 years.

    Likewise, groups such as the World Economic Forum (WEF), the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the International Energy Association (IEA) have produced studies of the shortfall of current clean energy investment. Everyone agrees that closing this gap will be an enormous challenge, and will only be possible if businesses, investors, and policymakers join forces.

    To put the Ceres figure of $1 trillion per year in perspective, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Yearbook 2013, total military spending by the nations of the world in 2012 was 1.75 trillion dollars, with just the top six spenders accounting for more than 1 trillion of that.

  50. 150
    Kevin O'Neill says:

    #146 — From Global Climate Change and Agricultural ProductionTemperature effects on the rates of biochemical reactions may be modelled as the product of two functions, an exponentially increasing rate of the forward reaction and an exponential decay resulting from enzyme denaturation as temperatures increase (Figure 6. la). The greatest concern is whether it is possible to increase the upper limit of enzyme stability to prevent denaturation.

    Failure of only one critical enzyme system can cause death of an organism. This fact may explain why most crop species survive sustained high temperatures up to a relatively narrow range, 40 to 45°C. The relationship between the thermal environment for an organism and the thermal dependence of enzymes has been well established. (Senioniti et al., 1986).

    Gavin — Wouldn’t 3.5ºC global increase push temperatures in many areas above the denaturization threshhold for dangerous periods of time?

    [Response: Tropical temperatures will rise less, and while I'm certainly not saying there is no affect on agriculture, most places currently used for agriculture have a long way to go before they are above 45ºC on a regular basis. - gavin]


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