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Filed under: — gavin @ 13 December 2015

So this week it’s the biggest Earth Science meeting on the planet

There is a lot of great science that will be freely streamed via AGU On-Demand (registration required), and there’ll be a lot of commentary using the hashtag #AGU15. Many posters will be available online too. A few highlights have already been discussed by Victor Venema related to the surface temperature station datasets, but there’ll be much more on offer if you dig deeper.

As the week goes on, we’ll link to anything good we see, and we’ll be happy to host any commentaries that anyone has on specific climate sessions or talks.

Happy conferencing!

73 Responses to “#AGU15”

  1. 51

    EG 48: Fewer than 100 died from Chernobyl radiation.

    BPL: That’s immediate deaths, mostly from the explosion and fires. The cancer cases number in the thousands, possibly tens of thousands. More on nuclear history:

    It is probably true to say the industrial history of nuclear power is no worse than a lot of other industries. But for a long, long time the nuclear industry was saying things like “no civilian has ever died as a result of nuclear power,” or “nuclear never killed anyone,” or “nuclear has the best safety record of any industry” which were blatant lies. One of the reasons the anti-nuke folks are so vitriolic is because the nuclear industry was so dedicated to lying and treating the public like fools for so long. It wears on you.

  2. 52
    patrick says:

    @38 Kevin McKinney: That’s a great chart on Texas CO2, economic and electricity trends 1990-2013, including installed wind capacity and generation.
    Thank you. I like the next one too:

    I think it’s my nomination for best affect in a climate visual for 2015, and it’s not even a cartoon. Some people walk the talk.

    Quite a photobucket.

  3. 53
    patrick says:

    @48 Edward Greisch > Zero people have died of radiation at Fukushima.

    That kind of spin rivals the kind that is found among deliberate and willing climate know-nothings. It fits the mold of the earlier tobacco know-nothings, too.

    The bodies of the first two workers to die at Fukushima “had to be decontaminated.” We don’t know what their level of radiation sickness would be now, had they lived.

    Further, the first cancer attributed to radiation poisoning at Fukushima has been announced this year. There will be more cases like this. Per the worst news about the Fukushima disaster to date, this kind of news is likely be delayed.


    Death by radiation damage takes a while. That’s why your remark (“Zero people have died…”) is pathetically disingenuous on its face. Plus, the time-dependent game in it is an insult to the suffering of thousands of people who continue–and will continue–to experience the long-lived effects of the disaster, from radiation or otherwise.

  4. 54

    #48 & 53–Were the evacuations “unnecessary” they could easily have been reversed. The reality is that only this year has the first village been declared safe:

    It’s not clear when some of the others will be considered safe, but it won’t be any time soon. No doubt the radiation regs are set very conservatively. But that’s by design. It’s rather remarkable that anyone would accuse the authorities of ‘murder’ for acting in accordance with them–and doubly so, given that almost by definition an emergency situation involves incomplete information.

  5. 55

    #52–Thanks very much, Patrick. I’m glad the charts were helpful. (Though your praise makes me wish I hadn’t neglected to note the data sources; at the time I was in ‘back of the napkin’ mode.)

    I’ve got to say, Hank Roberts is a bit of an inspiration for me, in terms of substituting searching for wondering. If someone says “Renewables drive up CO2 emissions”, there are ways that any of us can test that proposition with easily accessible data. Hank’s example leads me to take the next step and actually have a look. Like a lot of folks, I hadn’t internalized the idea that in the Internet age, you really, practically, can.

  6. 56
    SecularAnimist says:

    I find it appalling that Edward Greisch has taken over a discussion thread about the AGU meeting and once again turned it into a torrent of pro-nuclear zealotry and attacks on renewable energy.

    I don’t know why anyone bothers arguing with him. When it comes to the subject of nuclear power he is a textbook example of a troll, and will respond to your arguments with repetition of the same falsehoods and nonsense, along with accusing you of being paid by the Koch Brothers to promote “windmills”.

  7. 57
    The Arkham Knight says:

    56: You Misspelled Alarmist in your name

  8. 58
    Edward Greisch says:

    51 BPL: 1. ZERO Americans have died because of COMMERCIAL nuclear accidents in the US. Zero people were exposed to radiation at 3 mile island.

    2. Chernobyl did not have a containment building. Chernobyl put out as much radiation as a coal fired power plant the same size puts out in 7 years and 5 months. Cancer deaths number about 15 because the Russian doctors have watched carefully for thyroid cancers and removed them before they became serious.

    The nuclear industry has a better record of safety than the wind industry, which has already killed 110 people.
    downloaded some time ago:
    “Indeed on 11 December 2011 the Daily Telegraph reported that RenewableUK confirmed that there had been 1500 wind turbine accidents and incidents in the UK alone in the past 5 years. Data here reports only 142 UK accidents from 2006-2010 and so the figures here may only represent 9% of actual accidents.”

    Tim McCartney, fall from tower while removing small turbine. Body found near tower. 

    Terry Mehrkam, atop nacelle, run-away rotor, no lanyard, fell from tower.

    250 Turbines exposed to wind speeds of 35 m/sec for 10 min resulted in 9 failures and 30% damaged Pat Acker, 28, rebar cage for foundation came in contact with overhead power lines, electrocuted.

    Jens Erik Madsen, during servicing of controller, electrocuted.

    Eric Wright on experimental VAWT – tower collapsed while he was on it.

    J.A. Doucette, unloading towers from a truck, towers rolled off truck, crushing him.

    Art Gomez, servicing Dynergy crane

    Ugene Stallhut, ground crew, driving tractor as tow vehicle, tractor flipped over crushing him 

    John Donnelly, atop nacelle, servicing Nordtank nacelle, no brake, lanyard caught on main shaft protrusion, death attributed to “multiple amputations” as he was dragged into the machinery.

    Dick Hozeman, atop nacelle, entered Polenko nacelle in storm, no brake, caught on spinning shaft.

    Leif Thomsen, & Kaj Vadstrup, both killed servicing rotor, no locking pin on rotor, brake released accidentally, rotor began moving catching man basket & knocking it to the ground, third man clung to tower until rescued.

    Thomas Swan, crane operator, traveling, locking pin failed, boom swung downhill into 66 kV power line, electrocuting him. 

    A 16 year old boy died of asphyxiation in a windmill accident on his family’s farm. Apparently he climbed the windmill to retrieve a broken coupling, and in doing so he was caught by the rotating shaft, and strangled by his own clothing. His mother found him with his arms above his head and his clothing twisted up around his neck. His skivvy was twisted very tightly around the windmill shaft. His mother desperately tried to untangle him, or to lift him, but she was unable to do so. Despite her frantic efforts, she was aware that her son was already dead when she found him. The 1991 date is uncertain but hinted at by a pro-wind group.

    A farmer died after falling from a windmill while attempting to repair its tail section. The top of the windmill was approximately seven meters from the ground and the tail section of the windmill was broken and hanging down. The fan portion was not turning and several blades on the fan were missing. There was a steel ladder, constructed on one side of the windmill, which extended from the ground to the platform (five meters above the ground). 

    Richard Zawlocki, descending tower without lanyard, without fall restraint system in place, lanyard found holding nacelle cover open, found at base of tower, fell to death.

    Blades damaged by lightning two weeks after opening Accelerated, human-induced erosion caused by rain runoff from service roads and wind turbine pads in the Tehachapi Pass, CA. The site is now owned by Florida Power & Light and the eggbeater or Darrieus turbines have since been removed and several erosion control practices instituted. While these practices have reduced erosion in the gullies shown, new gullies have formed elsewhere along the ridge, hence erosion continues.

    downloaded from comments link no longer available
    Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD* 
    March 1, 2005 
    A nacelle (generator and gearbox) weighing up to 60 tons atop a  265 ft. metal tower, equipped with 135 ft. blades, is a significant  hazard to people, livestock, buildings, and traffic within a radius  equal to the height of the structure (400 ft) and beyond. In  Germany in 2003, in high storm winds, the brakes on a wind turbine failed and the blades spun out of control. A blade struck  the tower and the entire nacelle flew off the tower. The blades and  other parts landed as far as 1650 ft (0.31 mile) from the base of  the tower (Note that all turbines discussed in this article are  “upwind,” three-bladed, industrial-sized turbines. “Downwind”  turbines have not been built since the 1980’s.) Given the date, this  turbine was probably smaller than the ones proposed for current  construction, and thus could not throw pieces as far. This distance is nearly identical to calculations of ice throw from turbines with 100 ft blades rotating 20 times per minute (1680 ft)”

  9. 59
    Edward Greisch says:

    See good vacation spots at
    Hot Spots: Earth’s 5 Most Naturally Radioactive Places

  10. 60

    Re Nuclear. Hansen also underlined the need for nuclear to meet requirements. The problem is, there are so many questions and Hansen is not addressing any concerns (cooling in jeopardy, pollution, security, rising seas, new plants decades away from real tests). I would think that we can even meet peek demand, we just need to meet the renewable energy targets required.

    Btw i posted a coupel videos from AGU (, i.e.

    AGU 2015: Michael Mann explains why Scientists need to speak up more #Ethics #PrecautionaryPrinciple

    In regards to above we still need a price on carbon and must slash incentives, according to Hansen a carbon price at the source of generation would not increase consumer taxes (as some try to make you believe). And sanctions could enforce this on a global level.

    Happy New Year

  11. 61
    Dan says:

    re: 58. re: safety…
    Once again completely ignoring the long-term effects of radiation and cancer rates by using the same methods as climate deniers do…classic cherry-picking. Absolutely classic.

  12. 62

    EG 58: ZERO Americans have died because of COMMERCIAL nuclear accidents in the US.

    BPL: Crap. One plant alone (Surrey, in Virginia) has killed six people so far in two steam explosions.

  13. 63

    #58–Uh-huh. And are we to believe that workers at nuclear plants never fall, get caught in machinery, never have health crises like heart attacks on the job?

    Oh, wait, all of those things have happened just in the last year or two, just at Fukushima, as a cursory search shows. Nuclear workers have also died on the job in South Korea, the US, and France fairly recently.

    It might be interesting to compare the safety records of various industries, but let’s not turn off critical thought, as apparently happened when ordinary construction/OM accidents were ruled out a priori in the case of the nuclear industry.

  14. 64
    Edward Greisch says:

    53 patrick: How would you know what caused a particular cancer? You are only guessing.

    Read this Book “Radiation, What it is, What You Need to Know” by Robert Peter Gale, M.D. and Eric Lax, 2013
    The color plate just before page 115 shows a graphic of some things that cause cancer. From highest to lowest they are:
    Sharing a room with a smoker
    air pollution from hazardous chemicals
    formaldehyde in indoor air
    Dioxins and furans in food
    PCBs in food
    Current exposure to fallout
    Vinyl Chloride

    Of course, genetics is also a cause of cancer. Terry Tempest Williams could have inherited very bad genes.
    Nobody knows what caused the cancer that you are referring to, but the tiny leak in the reactor was almost certainly not the cause. Here are some good vacation spots for you:

  15. 65
    Hank Roberts says:

    Welcome to the Edward Greisch Boring Blog, formerly discussing climate.

    Happy new year.

    [Response: Agreed. Sorry – I’ve opened in new open thread, and will try and moderate better. – gavin]

  16. 66
    Edward Greisch says:

    62 BPL: Steam is also produced by coal and gas fired power plants. You loose. Steam is not a nuclear problem. You have not identified a single death due to the fact of a power plant being nuclear.

    56 SecularAnimist: I find it appalling that there are so many intermittency denialists posting here. Wishful thinking will not make the wind blow or the sun shine whenever you want it to.

    53 patrick: From that LA Times article: “Two workers’ bodies recovered at Fukushima nuclear plant
    The two are believed to have been killed when the tsunami struck.”

    Their deaths had nothing to do with radiation and their deaths had nothing to do with the power plant being nuclear. “An autopsy revealed that they likely died from the force of impact from the tsunami.”

    And we already know that Japanese law is at least 1000 times too strict on radiation from “Radiation and Reason, The impact of Science on a culture of fear” by Wade Allison. The Wade Allison in England, not the other Wade Allison at Harvard.
    Professor Allison says we can take up to 10 rems per month, a little more than 1000 times the present “legal” limit in the US.

    [Response: Enough. This has nothing to do with AGU. – gavin]

  17. 67
    Hank Roberts says:

    So what if those of us interested in climate talk about climate?

    For the pro and con nukees there’s discussion at that would welcome your participation and appreciate (or argue) your ideas.

    So — about climate?

    I found a couple of tidbits (for values of tidbit equal to oh shit) from the climate-related news — if these were talked about at AGU, perhaps someone who was there can say more?

    Predicted slowdown in the rate of Atlantic sea ice loss
    DOI: 10.1002/2015GL065364
    … Recent forecasts indicate that a spin-down of the thermohaline circulation that began near the turn of the century will continue, and this will result in near-neutral decadal trends in Atlantic winter sea ice extent in the coming years, with decadal growth in select regions.

    Research Letter
    A reduction in marine primary productivity driven by rapid warming over the tropical Indian Ocean
    DOI: 10.1002/2015GL066979

    Among the tropical oceans, the western Indian Ocean hosts one of the largest concentrations of marine phytoplankton blooms in summer. … the current study points out an alarming decrease of up to 20% in phytoplankton in this region over the past six decades. We find that these trends in chlorophyll are driven by enhanced ocean stratification due to rapid warming in the Indian Ocean, which suppresses nutrient mixing from subsurface layers. Future climate projections suggest that the Indian Ocean will continue to warm, driving this productive region into an ecological desert.

  18. 68
    patrick says:

    Sorry for the bad link in my comment @53 (the second link in the comment). It should be:

    Now I’m going back to #AGU15. It was so intensively informative there.

  19. 69
    Killian says:

    Re: #60 Chris Machens said Re Nuclear. Hansen also underlined the need for nuclear to meet requirements

    What requirements? Ask the wrong question, get the wrong answer. Hansen is hero of mine, and I don’t have heroes, but he’s got little understanding of the nature and design of sustainable systems.

    What are the requirements? Well, pretty much everything we extract from the planet is limited, and what isn’t, like water, is limited by rates of use. A rough estimate is 10-20% of current consumption, and the 20% is generous, is necessary for a sustainable society.

    We already produce more than 10% of electricity via wind, solar and hydro. Thus, additional nuclear is needed not at all.

  20. 70
    patrick says:

    Richard Alley gave an excellent geologist’s-eye view of how the industrial age in America was powered, from whale oil forward. And he said: For food humans have gone largely from hunting and gathering to harvesting–but for energy the human race has yet to make a similar transition.

    I think this is a good paradigm. For energy humans are still mainly hunting in rocks for fossil fuels to gather and burn. The race has yet to adopt a harvesting mentality about energy, in a big-time way.

  21. 71
    SecularAnimist says:

    It does seem a bit unseemly for the AGU conference to be sponsored by ExxonMobil, which has for decades been the driving force behind a campaign of denial, deceit, obstruction and delay:

  22. 72

    Eric Rignot – Ice Sheet Systems and Sea Level Change

    Good summary lecture on SLR contribution, commitments (How many flood gates have we opened so far?), and current observations.

  23. 73
    patrick says:

    #72 Chris Machens: Thank you for linking the talk by Eric Rignot on ice sheet systems and sea level change. It’s state of the art. Thank you Eric Rignot. Thank you AGU. Thank you ClimateState.