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Unforced variations: July 2015

Filed under: — group @ 3 July 2015

This month’s open thread. How about a focus on cimate science this time? Data visualizations anyone?

273 Responses to “Unforced variations: July 2015”

  1. 51

    #47–Chuck, I’m a bit dubious about the headline’s term, “Rennaissance,” suspecting that the acceleration they note was to a considerable extent driven by the economic expansion in the developed world during their period of study. For instance–and actually, I’m going to just consider the Indian situation in this comment, because the comment figures to be unfocussed enough already, without trying to deal with everyplace from Malaysia to Chile!–Indian electric generation tripled between 1990 and 2012, and about four fifths of their electricity is coal. And coal was unquestionably the cheapest option during much of that time.

    However, that is no longer the case. Renewables are beginning to undercut coal on price, according to multiply analyses. The result is that adoption of alternatives to coal has really taken off on a global basis. Take India, for example; official goals are now to add 100 GW of solar capacity and 60 GW of wind by 2022; current total capacity is about 250 GW, so that’s very considerable. The early results of those efforts have been promising.

    http://www.nrdc.org/media/2015/150216.asp
    http://cleantechnica.com/2015/05/07/india-increases-renewable-energy-capacity-13-beats-target/

    It is true that, on paper, India plans to add enormous amounts of coal generation. But IMO it’s very dubious that those plans will be carried out; India’s coal establishment is notoriously inefficient–so much so that it can’t effectively manage existing assets:

    http://www.powerengineeringint.com/articles/2015/02/india-s-coal-fired-power-plants-underperforming-study-finds.html

    Looking at current form, of 23 pages of Indian coal plants listed in the endcoal.org tracker, 7 or so pages fall in the ‘cancelled’ category, with ‘shelved’ accounting for another 4–basically half.

    http://endcoal.org/tracker/

    Forbes, of course, disagrees:

    Indeed, environmental groups MUST realize that even under the IEA’s highly optimistic best-case policy projection for renewables (450 Scenario), wind and solar together will be just 8% of India’s electricity in 2020 and 17% in 2035.

    But calling the IEA’s renewables projections “highly optimistic” is laughable; the IEA has consistently under-predicted deployment of renewables (though not as badly as the US’s EIA.) The current Indian 5-year plan envisages (and the Forbes piece notes) that to the extent to which new plants are supercritical or better (which can increase efficiency sufficiently to cut CO2 emissions by up to 40% per kilowatt), they enable the retirement of older, less efficient coal plants. In fact, the Plan says that in the short term, this dynamic can cut emissions more rapidly than can solar.

    http://planningcommission.gov.in/plans/planrel/12thplan/pdf/12fyp_vol1.pdf

    (See p. 122.)

    Nuclear will play some role, but the post-Fukushima chill inhibits short-term growth. In 2011, projections were for “14,600 MWe by 2020-21 and 27,500 MWe by 2032, relative to present 4780 MWe and 10,080 MWe when reactors under construction were on line in 2017.” Their first indigenously-developed breeder reactor is set to come online in September:

    http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/kalpakkam-prototype-fast-breeder-reactor-to-go-on-stream/article7396541.ece

    Note the last paragraph: “Later, the AERB will give clearance for loading the fuel. In the first stage of the nuclear power programme, a fleet of Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors, running on natural uranium, had been built. In the second stage, a series of breeder reactors will come up. Reactors running on thorium will form the third stage.”

    There’s a design for the prototype ‘third stage’ reactor:

    http://www.itheo.org/articles/world’s-first-thorium-reactor-designed

    But:

    “The plan is to have a 300MW prototype in operation by 2016 and then expand thereafter. By 2050, thorium should meet 30% of India’s electricity demand.”

    So, that’s more a long-term prospect–even if the prototype does get built as proposed, which I doubt. (Design to operating in 2 years, for new technology? Really? And there’s no news of progress that I could find, not even an announcement.)

    Turning more specifically to your question, Chuck–“How can we turn this around?”–there are two large headings to the response: ‘we’ can discourage coal use, and ‘we’ can encourage the provision of alternatives. The first heading would encompass a good climate treaty this December, or the widespread adoption of carbon pricing (which may not be two exclusive things.) The second is exemplified by the renewables targets discussed above, and particularly so because those targets were adopted with US assistance:

    http://www.pace-d.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Progress-Report-for-printing.pdf

    And I’d note that there’s a fundamental trend that’s working in ‘our’ favor: the continuing declines in the costs of solar and wind energy. They’ve been pretty stunning, and are likely, by all projections, to continue for some time. That means that coal’s competitiveness is apt to continue to erode, even though there’s a bit of a negative feedback there insofar as declining demand will tend to soften coal prices a bit, too.

  2. 52
    Hank Roberts says:

    Wili, please, please, type your opinion into a search box to check it before posting a scary story.

    Wili, above, is wrong in claiming that:

    If anyone had predicted beforehand the kind of losses seen in Arctic sea ice extent and area in 2007 that actually occurred, they would have been way beyond ‘fringe’–none of the models …..

    I refute it thus:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/01/arctic-sea-ice-decline-in-the-21st-century/

    Future abrupt reductions in the summer Arctic sea ice
    Marika M. Holland,
    Cecilia M. Bitz, Bruno Tremblay
    First published: 12 December 2006
    DOI: 10.1029/2006GL028024
    Cited by: 231 articles

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/12/not-just-ice-albedo/

    The people promoting the arctic methane emergency don’t have models.
    They have scary stories.

    There’s a real difference and you’re missing the facts here.

  3. 53
    wili says:

    Be nice to your local climate scientist–they’re going through a lot: http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a36228/ballad-of-the-sad-climatologists-0815/

  4. 54
    Russell says:

    A flagship journal of pneumatics has shed new light on the coevolution of the climate & tobacco wars by recalling the early career of a noted Ecofuturist.

  5. 55
    wili says:

    Hank, nice sleuthing, but I don’t see how the studies you site refute my claim that all the major models missed the crash in sea ice extent that happened in 2007. Thanks for the condescending tone, though. Wadhams has a long history of observation and science in the Arctic before his association with the AMEG group, so, hank ‘please, please’ don’t bring them up every time his name or his observations come up. For the record, I’m not a fan of much of what AMEG does or promotes, either.

    …..
    WRT my note at #53, I do invite everybody to read this excellent piece. It includes interviews with our own dear gavin and michael, as well as with Jason Box and Gail Parmesan. I think everyone here would find it very interesting with much to discuss and ponder.

  6. 56
    Hank Roberts says:

    > ballad-of-the-sad-climatologists

    Well yeah; nothing there is news to anyone who’s been paying attention for a while.

    “… existentialists declare That they are in complete despair, Yet go on writing.”

  7. 57

    #53–Thanks for that link, wili. Shared, thrice.

  8. 58

    Re: #31 and #46–

    Possibly of interest to my fellow math-challenged–I had a second thought about the ‘takeaway’ of the subthread, which concerned intuitions of exponential growth.

    I was reflecting on this bit:

    “84.5 meters difference from just 1 doubling of the doubling?”

    It seems intuitive enough a description, and arguably it can be interpreted to be correct. But it’s also misleading, because unless one is careful, one tends to think that it means something like doubling the first result twice to get the second. So 0.5 meters SLR under a 10-year doubling regime ‘should’ be something like 2 meters SLR under the 5-year regime.

    What happens instead is that the *total number* of doublings itself doubles, from eight and a half to seventeen. (Illustratively, 2e8.5 is ~362; but 2e17 is 131,072.)

    So translating back into terms of the quoted comment, it’s really 8.5 ‘doublings of the doubling.’

  9. 59
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Thank you wili for defending Dr. Wadhams. I posted a comment similar to yours but I don’t see it. Anyway, I read this depressing artical and will post it here. If you have an opinion on the validity of the information I’d like to hear it:

    http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a36228/ballad-of-the-sad-climatologists-0815/

  10. 60
    Pete Best says:

    Re #56, Climate Scientists have to earn and living and do a job and its not their job to vent their spleen to journalists either. Personally I would suggest that the IPCC are the main body who work slowly but with great merit and thought, its only in our 24/7 media era that every 5 years is now enough and we want to be constantly drip fed despair and pessimism.

  11. 61
    Pete Best says:

    The most harrowing thing about humans emissions is that we are not about to turn around the issue overnight or even within a generation. We all know that political interests and general apathy with regard to cutting back on our lifestyles has delayed action for 40 years and even now its a struggle to get much done but it looks like to some degree a corner has been turned and progress can be made but it wont be quick and it wont be obvious either (millions of wind turbines, CSP and solar farms are going to spring up and blight the landscape overnight).

  12. 62
    Dan H says:

    Wili,
    Even this year there is one prediction (out of 30) of a very low Arctic sea ice minimum. Granted, it is Wadhams. None of the major models show a crash this year, nor did they in 2007. Perhaps Wadhams was the only one – but he does so year after year. He is bound to correct once.

    http://www.arcus.org/sipn/sea-ice-outlook/2015/june

  13. 63
    Hank Roberts says:

    Wili, models don’t predict a specific year.

    Dr. Bitz’s work — and guest topic here — described scenarios.
    You know how models work.

    You run it.
    You run it again.
    You run it again.

    Each time you get somewhat different wiggly lines — because there are variables that interact.

    You get a large bundle of those wiggly lines.

    They represent a whole lot of variations on the scenario.

    Let the model run out and see what happens.

    Repeatedly.

    Dr. Bitz et al. published a paper that, after doing that, said very large drops in Arctic sea ice could happen.

    Shortly thereafter, a very large drop in Arctic sea ice did happen.

    They weren’t considered “fringe” as you claim.

    You can read about it. You probably did read about it, you were commenting here at the time.

    You’re conflating Wadhams’ claims — that have no model published — with good solid scientific work that has been published, and claiming it’s all considered “fringe” by some kind of climate science establishment here.

    This is conspiracy theory stuff. Please, look up your own claims.
    Google them first.

  14. 64
    Hank Roberts says:

    P.S. — it’s not the climatologists who are conspiring to hide the facts.

    You can look this stuff up:

    http://www.ucsusa.org/global-warming/fight-misinformation/climate-deception-dossiers-fossil-fuel-industry-memos

    (And yes, I realize Wadhams and Maslowski both have worked with the UK and US Navy, respectively, and we can imagine that they have unpublished information from undisclosed sources — the submarines operating under the Arctic — to support the claims both of them make that the Arctic is melting faster than anyone else knows. Yes, typically, our governments do lie to us. So do our corporations, obviously. But the working climate scientists who publish in the journals and write here are fully disclosing everything they know. They don’t deserve to be tarred with that brush of conspiracy)

  15. 65
    Chuck Hughes says:

    wili – I agree with you on this one. I don’t think Dr. Wadhams projections should be dismissed so quickly. And your post @ 53 is sobering to say the least. Everybody is betting on when the Arctic Ice will disappear. I say we just don’t know. Anything can happen with this screwed up jet stream and El Nino and all the crazy weather patterns. I personally think the Earth can do whatever it wants to do. There’ll be plenty of surprises along the way. None of them pleasant.

  16. 66
    Mal Adapted says:

    Hank:

    > ballad-of-the-sad-climatologists

    Well yeah; nothing there is news to anyone who’s been paying attention for a while.

    The AGW-denier noise in the comments won’t be news to anyone either, nor will it help sad climatologists feel better.

  17. 67
    perwis says:

    New Science paper on paleo sea level rise by A. Dutton1,*, A. E. Carlson2, A. J. Long3, G. A. Milne4, P. U. Clark2, R. DeConto5, B. P. Horton6,7, S. Rahmstorf8, M. E. Raymo9. Here is the PALSEA press release: http://www.pages-igbp.org/download/docs/working_groups/palsea/2015-07-07-Press-release-PALSEA-Science-paper.pdf

    I hope Stefan is working on a blog post on this very interesting paper.

  18. 68
    wili says:

    Good (imvho; I’m sure hank will disagree ‘-)) in-context discussion of the current forest fires incinerating the taiga here: https://robertscribbler.wordpress.com/2015/07/09/unprecedented-fire-season-has-burned-11-million-acres-so-far-for-alaska-and-canada/#comment-44173

  19. 69
    Digby Scorgie says:

    44 Mal Adapted

    The difference is that, until recently, SF authors writing about society after a collapse tended to see nuclear war as the cause. One would think that climate change would now feature more often, but I bought a few SFs recently whose authors either ignore climate change altogether or outright deny it. It seems even the SF world reflects the attitudes of the wider society to climate change. I’m quite disappointed.

  20. 70
    Hank Roberts says:

    The figures seem to have gone missing from Dr. Bitz’s topic:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/01/polar-amplification/

    Wili, if the figures for that topic come back, there’s information there for you about what was (not) considered “fringe” back then.

    [Response: Fixed! – gavin]

  21. 71
    wili says:

    Thanks for the many interesting comments on the Esquire piece on how climate scientists deal with thinking about the consequences that they study. Here’s Eric Holthausen’s reflection on the piece: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/07/climate_scientists_despair_most_devastating_parts_of_esquire_s_jason_box.html

    Digby, there is actually an entire, named genre on climate-induced catastrophe. Try searching under ‘cli-fi.’

  22. 72

    DS 69,

    As an SF writer, I can assure you that climate change is not neglected, starting with a work called “Hothouse Earth” from the ’70s. There is even a subgenre devoted to it, informally called “cli-fi.”

  23. 73
    Matt McIrvin says:

    Climate change could easily cause a nuclear war! The risk of one is actually still rather high, and probably increasing at the moment.

    The science-fiction community includes a fair number of authors of a political persuasion for whom denying anthropogenic climate change has, unfortunately, become a sort of tribal identifier.

  24. 74
    Killian says:

    #35 flxible said, Now where is that wizard…?

    “Some of us already know about Cuba… and the role Permaculture played/plays there. Crashed after fall of Sov. Union, but death rate didn’t increase. Hmmm…. despite avg. weight falling 20 lbs. for a few years… Hmmm…”

    Some of us know the actuality of the Cuban situation, Urban Agriculture born of desperate hunger, NOT permaculture

    First, if English is not your first language, I have taught it and can help you. Note “…Cuba… and…” That sentence can only be understood to mean something happened in Cuba and, additionally, permaculture was part of it. Second, between 1989 and 2014 there’s been no role played by those practicing permaculture? 25 years and no permaculture? Nah… not even an international meeting there in 2013…

    Roberto Perez, Part I:

    And at the same time, I think that the permaculture side of add, like, intelligent design. Not only to produce food, but also to improve some of the health conditions, like shade places that they were very sunny, or ameliorate the high temperatures in some of the rooms because the electricity… have blackouts, no?

    Nobody said it was the only reason, as you wish to imply I said. And to claim nobody applied permaculture in Cuba is to distort fact. Roberto Perez might disagree with you.

    with the reason folks there lost weight due to having a very limited diet

    WHAT?! NOoooooooooo! As for imports, Perez states (Part II) changes in diet would allow local production of all food, but people want wheat, etc. Listen to Part II where he makes some overview comments about the acceptance and application of permaculture, even at the university level.

    Stop trolling. Second Straw Man, B.S., just plain wrong response from you. You’re hitting 100% pointless.

    Special Period in Cuba, the IPC in Cuba

  25. 75
    Killian says:

    #46 Kevin McKinney said #31–I’m a Bear of Very Little Math, but am also always up for a learning exercise…

    Famously, doubling time can be “…approximated by dividing 70 by the percentage growth rate.” So:

    Td = 70/Gr

    Which means that:

    Td*Gr = 70, or Gr = 70/Td.

    Actually, 69 is a more accurate approximation, so let’s use it. The growth rates are then roughly:

    5-year: 13.8% annual growth rate

    10-year: 6.9% annual growth rate

    That will let us calculate future growth in SLR increase, given this…

    Very perfect wonderful great useful excellentness of post-ness! Don’t ask me why I didn’t think of the doubling formula myself. Just shows how math-challenged I can be.

    The main takeaway, though, is probably that a 5-year doubling time has little relation to reality in this case.

    Ah, well, I think we have learned by now not to underestimate rates of change in Mother Nature’s disposition. Besides which, there have been several different studies either positing or measuring melt rate changes ranging from 5 or 6 years up to ten for various parts of the cryosphere over the last couple years. Hansen posited 5 years was possible. I think a study on Greenland found a doubling of melt rate that covered five or six years. Etc.

    I’d feel pretty good putting money on a melt rate doubling somewhere between 5 and 10 years averaged over the next 85 to a 100 years. (Given the nature of exponents, that 15 years is a huge buffer, but of such things are hedges made.) Then there are the stories out just yesterday about SLR and 400 ppm being enough to get something like 6+ meters of melt… just like Hansen, et al., stated a few years back.

    And what of the WAIS assessments out earlier this year stating a potential 200 years or less for 10 ft of rise? Even that would be less than a 10 yr doubling period.

    Kevin also said I was reflecting on this bit:

    “84.5 meters difference from just 1 doubling of the doubling?”

    Simpler fix, “84.5 meters difference from just 1 doubling of the doubling rate?”

    It seems intuitive enough a description, and arguably it can be interpreted to be correct. But it’s also misleading

    Yet, you were not mislead. This is why we teach context; people are imperfect and say things in funny ways at times. It’s only misleading if one is mislead. The use of “5” and “10” pretty much ruled that out.

    :-)

  26. 76
    Hank Roberts says:

    Further for Wili:

    http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~bitz/holland_etal2006GRL.pdf

    Seriously, I can find _nobody_ who called this science, anticipating the rapid changes in the Arctic, “fringe” work as you claim.

    Remember models are run repeatedly to get a range of results. They do not give individual specific projections for year by year change.

    So no, no model specifically said 2007 would be a rapid change, and yes, the models have been less pessimistic than observations year by year. Models are like that, they don’t start off perfect. But imperfect models on this kind of question aren’t dismissed as “fringe” work — people look at them, cite the papers, and improve them.

    I urge you most sincerely to check what you claim — because others will.

    I do really want you to be able to convince people who take you seriously and then go to the library and ask a reference librarian “is this true?”

    You want the librarian to look it up and say, well, yes, Wili is right about what he told you.

    Your heart’s in the right place.

    Tell people facts they can go to the library and check.

    Reality is plenty scary.

    Be convincing. Dismissing the science by lumping everything into a “fringe” category, and claiming that’s what other scientists thought before 2007 — sounds convincing — until you check.

    Conspiracy is a very convincing narrative. We’re good at seeing patterns, real or otherwise.

    This is one of the steps predicted long ago for the climate change policy — that as evidence began to build up, more and more people would be saying that oh, those scientists, they weren’t convincing enough early enough to help, blame them because they didn’t convince us.

    Well, Holland and Bitz and the others were convincing, before 2007.
    What they modeled said we would get periods of sudden ice loss.

    And — wham! — earlier than expected.

    Models aren’t perfect. Surprises happen.

  27. 77
    SecularAnimist says:

    Killian wrote to flxible: “First, if English is not your first language, I have taught it and can help you.”

    That’s a gratuitous, belligerent, and childish insult. Which is increasingly the only real content of your posts.

    I should think by now you’ve made it clear to yourself that you are the smartest person in the room and the rest of us are fools. Do you really need to belabor the point?

  28. 78
    Aaron Lewis says:

    In 2002, I used industrial control statistics as I had been trained while at IBM and Motorola to predict a major drop in Arctic sea ice within 10 years.

    I posted the result here at RealClimate and was told such alarmism was unhelpful.

    Four later, papers reported 1 computer-model-run in 7 predicted a significant drop in sea ice in 30 years. In fact, the drop came less than 2 years later. The computer models were wrong about the likely-hood and the time frame.

    In my job, I needed 15 minutes to get workers to the safety shelters. If I said, “30 minutes to system upset” and the correct answer was “2”, I would have been dead. Being on site was motivation to get the numbers correct. And yet, some here say that being off by a factor of 15 is close enough.

    No! We are all “on site”, and we need to get the numbers correct.

    Now, consider an ice sheet as a mechanical structure. It is different from a glacier where most of the weight of the higher, colder, stronger ice is supported by rock. In an ice sheet, the higher, colder, stronger ice is supported by is supported by lower, warmer, weaker ice. When the lower, warmer, weaker ice becomes too weak to withstand the stress, it fractures. Fractures are discontinuous, and must be modeled by finite element analysis rather than differential equations. And, fracturing requires only a millionth as much energy as melting. Any model that requires the ice sheet to melt in place is going to get the time frame very wrong.

    Any ice model that does not include the effects of latent heat in the atmosphere is going to get the time frame for ice sheet collapse wrong.

    Any sea level rise estimate that does not account for the discontinuous behavior of ice near its melting point AND the potential energy stored in the ice sheet, will get the time frame wrong.

    Any climate model that does not include carbon feedback is going to get the time frame wrong.

    Too many climate scientists saw climate science as a career. It was not. It is a war that must be waged and won quickly. If we make serious errors in principle or the calculation of time frames, we die. We are on site, and there is no safety shelter. If we win, we can go on to other things.

  29. 79
    Doug says:

    “Wili, , models don’t predict a specific year” LOL. Wili?

  30. 80
    Hank Roberts says:

    Aaron, can you find and link to your 2002 post here? It’d be good to have handy for reference.

    In other news, a surprise from the other side of the planet:

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-07/uoc–sfs070215.php

    “This is the first geothermal heat flux measurement made below the West Antarctic ice sheet ….”

    Speaking of data visualization — this is ONE dot on a big map.
    That’s an improvement over zero points measured, of course.

    Watch the discussion and see how it gets extrapolated — or not, of course.

  31. 81
    Omega Centauri says:

    Aaron. Beyond a depth of a couple of tens of meters, ice is self healing, i.e. the hydrostatic pressure (the weight of all ice above a given spot per unit area) is greater than the resistance to plastic flow.
    So cracks cannot stay open, they will be pushed shut by the pressure.

    Also the ice near the center of a major ice sheet, like Greenland is very cold all the way to the base. Now, if the periphery is lowered then the horizontal sheer stresses driving the flow will increase, but that’s a pretty slow process as teh periphery is typicall hundreds of kilometers away from the center.

  32. 82
    Dean Malencik says:

    A few days ago I described a paper in Science (348,1238-1241, 2015) which correlated temperature effects of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere along with precipitation and the effect that oxygen concentration has on these parameters. The lower the oxygen concentration the greater were the increased temperature effects of carbon dioxide and the greater the precipitation.

    This had me wondering what oxygen concentrations were doing over the past 600 million years. Berner described this in the following graph (PNAS 96, 10955): Also this paper is worth reading for its discussion of the geologic carbon and sulfur cycle.

    Carbon dioxide concentrations over this same time period are shown below:

    To my surprise the oxygen content of the atmosphere (21% now) has been declining in both the atmosphere and the ocean. Combustion of fossil fuels from 1 carbon methane to higher order carbon chains consume about 1.4 moles of oxygen per mole of carbon dioxide produced. Plants fix about 1 mole of carbon dioxide per 1.1 moles of oxygen. However, for one thing, O2 and CO2 have very different solubility in seawater; while 99 percent of the O2 remains in the atmosphere, 98 percent of the CO2 is in seawater (http://www.i-sis.org.uk/O2DroppingFasterThanCO2Rising.php). Experimental data indicate that the oxygen concentration is declining 2 to 4 times faster than that accounted for by the molar ratios described above. The question is what this oxygen sink we are missing is. So where does the oxygen concentration become a problem for man and other higher species. Oxygen deficiency is currently set at 19.5 percent in enclosed spaces for health and safety, below that, fainting and death may result. So there is very little leeway for oxygen concentration becoming a problem. Using charcoal (Biochar) from the burning of fast growing trees has been touted in order to produce biofuels and lower CO2 in the atmosphere since charcoal is very stable in soil. Biochar has been blessed by the USA congress in various farm bills but there are major problems in going this route (see http://www.i-sis.org.uk/bewareTheBiocharInitiative.php). You can imagine the fires during the period when O2 was at 35% or about 80% of the atmosphere by weight. Imagine the charcoal that formed and was finally put into the soil. `

    The higher oxygen concentration of 35% which peaked about 300 million years ago and reached a supposed low point of 15% after the time of the Carboniferous era (a time when coal deposits were being formed and CO2 is at a maximum) is interesting. Of course during this time period we had the Siberian traps, the Permian extinction, possibly large coal seam fires and possibly anoxic conditions resulting from hydrogen sulfide formation. This low point of 15% oxygen is unreliable and is based on the fact that charcoal is found at all geologic time periods and 15% is a low point for any combustion to take place. However, while flaming combustion can occur at concentrations as low as 14 to 16 percent oxygen in air at room temperatures of 70°F (21°C), flaming combustion can continue at close to 0 percent oxygen under post-flashover temperature conditions. Also, smoldering combustion once initiated can continue in a low-oxygen environment (I assume producing varying amounts of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide) even when the surrounding environment is at a relatively low temperature. The hotter the environment, the less oxygen is required. Therefore, oxygen concentrations could have been even lower than 15%. Any carbon monoxide produced from smoldering would react with hydroxyl radicals producing CO2. Of course, the hydroxyl radicals are important for the breakdown of methane, other hydrocarbons, and the isoprene and terpenes from vegetation and trees. The hydroxyl radical is responsible for cleaning of the atmosphere by its strong oxidative properties. As mentioned below the fungal peroxidases are responsible for cleaning up the solid material on land and shallow water. I am not sure if any equivalent for strong oxidation exists in the deep ocean.

    In addition breakdown of lignin and other plant woody material is a very slow process on land or shallow water, but with the evolution of protein peroxidases in fungi (150-200 million years ago), this decomposition became a much more rapid process and could lead to lower oxygen concentrations. Speculation now would say that coal or methane formation could no longer take place on the scale of the Carboniferous era because of the presence of a large variety of peroxidases from the different fungal species leading to oxidation rather than reduction of decomposed trees and vegetation. Once again buried frozen peat in the far north as it thaws will become decomposed by the catalytic action of peroxidases possibly tipping the oxygen to a lower level in the atmosphere.

    The equilibrium level of oxygen and carbon dioxide over geologic time periods must be taken into account. The short half-life of methane (although very important for short term warming) is eventually converted to CO2 (by the hydroxyl radical) and thus over these long time periods negates methane entering into the discussion. From the last graph we clearly see that when the average temperature of the planet reaches 22 degrees C it tends to hold constant over a long time period and then some unknown negative feedback/s drops the temperature sharply and the CO2 (but at a slower rate) to low levels over a rather short time period.

  33. 83
    Digby says:

    71 W, 72 BPL, 73 MM

    It seems we have some SF fans around. I did use the words “tended” and “until recently” you know! I’ve heard of cli-fi. I had a look at a few but was put off by the depressing blurbs. In my old age I prefer stories with happy endings, and I don’t think climate change is going to give us a happy ending.

  34. 84
    wili says:

    OMG. Just look at all the official models for Arctic sea ice included in the IPCC report in 2007 (AR4), and look at what actually happened to the ice in that and succeeding years.

    Revisionist history seems to be rampant among certain quarters, here.

  35. 85
    Edward Greisch says:

    78 Aaron Lewis: Thank you. You have identified another kind of specialist that RealClimate needs.
    Do we know the temperatures inside the ice sheets? We must since we have bored holes in the ice.

    Google scholar of “compressive strength of ice at temperature” gets 47,200 results.

    Review mechanical properties of ice and snow
    JJ Petrovic – Journal of materials science, 2003 – Springer

    Compressive strength of sea ice sheets
    GW Timco, RMW Frederking – Cold Regions Science and Technology, 1990 – Elsevier

    A review of ice rheology for ice sheet modelling
    WF Budd, TH Jacka – Cold Regions Science and Technology, 1989 – Elsevier
    Acta Metallurgica, 30 (8) (1982), pp. 1514–1551. …paywall

    Mechanical strength of polycrystalline ice under uniaxial compression
    M Arakawa, N Maeno – Cold regions science and technology, 1997 – Elsevier
    … Schulson (1990)also studied the brittle compressive strength of ice at temperatures between −10 and −50°C … the brittle strength obtained in previous works under the uniaxial compression was so scattered that the distinctive relation between strength, temperature and strain
    “A systematic change of the deformation type from brittle fracture to ductile deformation was observed to take place at a critical strain rate and temperature. A systematic increase of the strength was also found with decreasing temperature and increasing strain rate. In both the ductile and brittle regions, a similar relation was found to hold” paywall

    So there has been a lot of research on this topic.

  36. 86

    #75: “Very perfect wonderful great useful excellentness of post-ness! Don’t ask me why I didn’t think of the doubling formula myself. Just shows how math-challenged I can be.”

    – See more at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2015/07/unforced-variations-july-2015/comment-page-2/#comment-633708

    Hey, you’re the one who asked “What am I doing wrong?”

    Very odd to get defensive when my answer was “Nothing, I think.”

  37. 87
    Hank Roberts says:

    Note to self: this is cautionary, from http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738571.001.0001/acprof-9780199738571-chapter-005

    We all know self-righteous people. (And, if we are honest, many of us will admit having wallowed occasionally in self-righteousness ourselves.) It is a familiar and rather normal human condition, supported—even promulgated—by messages in mass media. Although there are many drawbacks, self-righteousness can also be heady, seductive, and even … well … addictive. Any truly honest person will admit that the state feels good. The pleasure of knowing, with subjective certainty, that you are right and your opponents are deeply, despicably wrong. Or, that your method of helping others is so purely motivated and correct that all criticism can be dismissed with a shrug, along with any contradicting evidence.

    Sanctimony, or a sense of righteous outrage, can feel so intense and delicious that many people actively seek to return to it, again and again. Moreover, as Westin and his colleagues have found, this trait, when applied to politics, crosses all boundaries of ideology (Brin, 1998). Indeed, one could look at our present-day political landscape and argue that a relentless addiction to indignation may be one of the chief drivers of obstinate dogmatism and an inability to negotiate pragmatic solutions to a myriad modern problems. It may be the ultimate propellant behind the current “culture war.”

    Sanctimony, or a sense of righteous outrage, can feel so intense and delicious that many people actively seek to return to it, again and again.

    If there is any underlying truth to such an assertion, then acquiring a deeper understanding of this one issue of addictive self-righteousness may help us deal with countless others, ranging from codependency to outrageously self-defeating political partisanship.

  38. 88
    Edward Greisch says:

    http://jspp.psychopen.eu/article/view/443/pdf

    “Recurrent Fury: Conspiratorial Discourse in the Blogosphere Triggered by Research on the Role of Conspiracist Ideation in Climate Denial
    Stephan Lewandowsky*, John Cook, Klaus Oberauerd, Scott Brophye, Elisabeth A. Lloyd, Michael Marriott”
    “A growing body of evidence has implicated conspiracist ideation in the rejection of scientific propositions.” Downloadable as .pdf with no paywall.

    We are dealing with a mental illness called paranoia. There is nothing we can do to cure the denialists of their disease.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paranoia: “Paranoia is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion.[1] Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself (e.g. “Everyone is out to get me”). ……. Violence and paranoia: It has generally been agreed upon that individuals with paranoid delusions will have the tendency to take action based on their beliefs.”

    Reference book: “Dangerous personalities : an FBI profiler shows how to identify and protect yourself from harmful people” by Joe Navarro 2014
    There are 4 dangerous personalities:
    narcissus complex
    paranoid
    unstable
    predator [psychopath? sociopath? sciopath?]
    There are combination mental illnesses.

    Lewandowsky et al suggest the following:
    “strict moderation of comments,” requiring evidence to back up claims
    and “educate the public about the difference between scientific and non-scientific forms of discourse”

  39. 89
    sidd says:

    Mr. Aaron Lewis wrote, on the 10th of July, at 2:08 pm:
    Re: Strength of ice under warming

    It is my understanding that models try and put this in with temperature dependent Glen’s law exponents or other modification.

    Re: discontinuity at melting point
    i think the models have the thermo right, but not (yet) basal hydro

    Re: latent heat transfer through the atmosphere

    Quite. Rain on Greenland worries me.

    sidd

  40. 90
    Russell says:

    New York Magazine reports an outbreak of climatolological” Pre-Traumatic Stress Syndrome ”

    The sure cure for severe cases may be a pilgrimage to the Vatican Observatory.
    http://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2015/07/bolivia-vatican-reach-liberation.html

  41. 91
    Lynn says:

    Any comments or ideas about this, projecting global cooling or mini-ice-age:

    “Solar activity predicted to fall 60% in 2030s, to ‘mini ice age’ levels: Sun driven by double dynamo” re an article by Valentina Zharkova at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150709092955.htm

  42. 92
    Richard Palm says:

    Is this legit?

    “Solar activity predicted to fall 60% in 2030s, to ‘mini ice age’ levels: Sun driven by double dynamo” – Science Daily summary of Valentina Zharkova’s research results

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150709092955.htm

    [Response: It’s a 60% reduction in the magnitude of the solar cycle (not solar activity), and it’s not obviously terrible. It’s a statistical projection with no physics, so the extent to which it’s believable is unclear. The connection to a new ‘mini ice age’ is completely made up. That level of change in solar forcing is about -0.1W/m2, which would be made up in just 3 years of current CO2 concentration growth. – gavin]

  43. 93
    Killian says:

    [edit – just stop this. It’s childish and completely pointless.]

  44. 94
    Russell says:

    Killian has linked us not to ordinary political BS, but the organic , biodegradble, pesticide -free sort:

  45. 95
    Dan H. says:

    Aaron,
    Part of the problem in your war is the public perception. The media will play up the most dire predictions as scientific mainstream. When these fail to materialize, the general public loses faith. Had we stated that 2007 and 2012 were anomalies, instead of the new norm, there would be little backlash. While the long term trend is still decreasing sea ice, the claims of acceleration are not substantiated. Those like Prof. Wadhams are are a hindrance, not a help in the war effort. Accuracy is important, and uncertainties and extraneous data should be emphasized as such.

  46. 96
    Dan S. says:

    re: Gavin’s comment.

    It is quite telling that the media is jumping all over this, publicizing this press release despite its obvious lack of scientific validity. Whereas the numerous strong, peer-reviewed science papers re: global warming are ignored for the most part. The anti-science media is back to feeding the false equivalency meme and stoking the climate change deniers.

  47. 97
    Aaron Lewis says:

    Look at the formation of moulins, where liquid water forms a channel down through an ice sheet, and then liquid water flows through the channel. For the life of the moulin, there is ice at its melting point, from the top to the bottom of the ice sheet.

    Here is a video of ice cracks staying open: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hC3VTgIPoGU Any ice model that does not include such behavior is incomplete.

    The temperature of the surface of the ice in the channel is the local melting point of the ice. Sometimes the flow is greater than Niagara Falls, and we remember from 5th grade science that falling water releases energy, thus energy is transferred deep into the ice – very rapidly. Recently we have noticed the fallen water actually causes local and temporary elevation of the ice sheet. That means there is liquid water at the base of the ice sheet. If there is liquid water, then the bottom of the ice sheet is at its melting point and is warm and weak.

    Hank: You asked for cites, so you should remember it.

  48. 98
    Hank Roberts says:

    Zharkova and her colleagues derived their model using a technique called ‘principal component analysis’ …

    That’s a technique much discussed here previously, e.g.

    1) What is principal component analysis (PCA)?
    This is a mathematical technique that is used (among other things) to summarize the data found in a large number of noisy records so that the essential aspects can more easily seen. The most common patterns in the data are captured in a number of ‘principal components’ which describe some percentage of the variation in the original records. Usually only a limited number of components (‘PC’s) have any statistical significance, and these can be used instead of the larger data set to give basically the same description.

    from http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/02/dummies-guide-to-the-latest-hockey-stick-controversy/

    For more, use the Search.

  49. 99
    Richard Palm says:

    Re: Gavin’s reply to post #92: Thanks – glad I asked! It certainly seemed like a bold claim. And sorry for the duplicate post; I couldn’t remember if I had pressed the “Say It” button.

  50. 100
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Green Climate Fund partners with Deutsche Bank, to green fury

    Brandon Wu, senior policy analyst at ActionAid USA and one of two civil society “active observers” on the GCF Board, was one of the signatories of the statement.

    He said: “The Green Climate Fund is supposed to be a fund for climate action in developing countries, with a particular focus on the poorest and most vulnerable.

    “For it to partner with one of the largest private-sector coal financiers in the world – and one embroiled in multiple scandals around market manipulation and money laundering – is so far from this vision and mandate that it boggles the mind.”