Saturday, December 27, 2008

Possible climate effects of variations in Earth's orbit

An interesting email below. Comments sought

I have been desparately seeking ratification of a theory I have that explains the Little Ice Age and the current climate shift (if there really is one). I will make the assumption that you are aware of the relationship between the effects on the absorption of the sun's energy by the eliptical shape of the Eart's orbit plus the 23.5 degree angle of the axis of rotation.

Every thing I've read points to the fact that the northern hemisphere is hotter in the summer because of the sub-solar near-perpendicularity with the northern land masses and the longer summer due to the further distance from the sun at the aphelion. During the winter, the Earth is at perihelon and the southern waters absorb the sun's rays and distribute the heat around the planet.

Nowhere has the phenomenon, which I call the Leap Year Effect, been used to explain climate change, such as that which occurred 200-500 years ago, the Little Ice Age (LIA). It's incredible that this has been overlooked and that I am the only person aware of it. I hope you can verify the following....

Since every 4 years we have to add a day (Leap Year) to accomodate the calendar and make it coincide with the seasons, it also means that the Earth is also approximately 1 degree of longitude further advanced relative to its position in its orbit 4 years earlier. No big deal, but that means that in 720 years the earth will have rotated 180 degrees from it's position at the aphelion, and at the perihelion as well, since the axis of rotation has gone thru insignificant precession.

The effects are self evident, the southern waters are heating up, sending more warm water north, but the heat reflecting land masses are cooler. This is what happened in the LIA, and we are headed for another one right now, with more and more evaporated water in the air condensing in the cold air of the northern hemisphere at the same time as the higher density water is melting the Artic ice from below. If I'm wrong, please tell me why.


After various helpful comments from readers, the author of the above concludes that he was in error in what he said.

Solar Meets Polar as Winter Curbs Clean Energy

Old Man Winter, it turns out, is no friend of renewable energy. This time of year, wind turbine blades ice up, biodiesel congeals in tanks and solar panels produce less power because there is not as much sun. And perhaps most irritating to the people who own them, the panels become covered with snow, rendering them useless even in bright winter sunshine. So in regions where homeowners have long rolled their eyes at shoveling driveways, add another cold-weather chore: cleaning off the solar panels. "At least I can get to them with a long pole and a squeegee," said Alan Stankevitz, a homeowner in southeast Minnesota.

As concern has grown about global warming, many utilities and homeowners have been trying to shrink their emissions of carbon dioxide - their carbon footprints - by installing solar panels, wind turbines and even generators powered by tides or rivers. But for the moment, at least, the planet is still cold enough to deal nasty winter blows to some of this green machinery.

In January 2007, a bus stalled in the middle of the night on Interstate 70 in the Colorado mountains. The culprit was a 20 percent biodiesel blend that congealed in the freezing weather, according to John Jones, the transit director for the bus line, Summit Stage. (Biodiesel is a diesel substitute, typically made from vegetable oil, that is used to displace some fossil fuels.) The passengers got out of that situation intact, but Summit Stage, which serves ski resorts, now avoids biodiesel from November to March, and uses only a 5 percent blend in the summertime, when it can still get cold in the mountains. "We can't have people sitting on buses freezing to death while we get out there trying to get them restarted," Mr. Jones said.

Winter may pose even bigger safety hazards in the vicinity of wind turbines. Some observers say the machines can hurl chunks of ice as they rotate. "It's like you throw a plate out there and that plate breaks," said Ralph Brokaw, a cattle rancher in southeast Wyoming who has 69 wind turbines on his property. When his turbines ice up, he stays out of the way. The wind industry admits that turbines can drop ice, like a lamppost or any tall structure. To ameliorate the hazard, some turbines are painted black to absorb sunlight and melt the ice faster. But Ron Stimmel, an expert on small wind turbines at the American Wind Energy Association, denies that the whirling blades tend to hurl icy javelins. Large turbines turn off automatically as ice builds up, and small turbines will slow and stop because the ice prevents them from spinning - "just like a plane's wing needs to be de-iced to fly," Mr. Stimmel said. Mr. Brokaw says that his turbines do turn off when they are too icy, but the danger sometimes comes right before the turbines shut down, after a wet, warm snow causes ice buildup.

From the standpoint of generating power, winter is actually good for wind turbines, because it is generally windier than summer. In Vermont, for example, Green Mountain Power, which operates a small wind farm in the southeastern part of the state, gets more than twice the monthly production in winter as in August.

The opposite is true, however, for solar power. Days are shorter and the sun is lower in the sky during the winter, ensuring less power production. Even in northern California, with mild winters and little snow, solar panels can generate about half as much as in the summer, depending on how much they are tilted, according to Rob Erlichman, chief executive of Sunlight Electric, a San Francisco solar company.

Operators of the electrical grid do not worry much about the seasonal swings, because the percentage of production from renewable energy is still so low - around 1 percent of the country's power comes from wind, and less from solar panels. In addition, Americans use slightly less electricity in the winter than in the summer because air conditioners are not running. This is especially true in sunny areas, so solar panels' peak production matches the spikes in demand.

But as renewable energy becomes a bigger part of the nation's power mix, the seasonable variability could become more of a problem. Already, power developers are learning that they must make careful plans to avoid the worst impacts of ice and snow. Trey Taylor, the president of Verdant Power, which has put small turbines in the tidal East River in New York City and plans more for the St. Lawrence River in Canada, said that ice chunks could slide over one another "like a deck of cards," pushing ice below and harming turbines. That may rule out parts of otherwise promising sites like the Yukon River in Alaska, he said.

Kevin Devlin, the vice president for operations of Iberdrola Renewables, a wind developer, said that winter was probably the hardest time of year to maintain turbines, because workers must go out in snow and ice. Occasionally, he said, the turbines will shut down or set off alarms if it is too cold, and workers must brave the elements to fix them.

For homeowners, the upkeep of their power sources can also be a bother. Mr. Stankevitz keeps his panels tilted 40 degrees or higher, but they still become covered with snow - and experts say that if even one cell in a panel is covered, the panel will not produce power. On the other hand, the panels can get extra power from sunlight reflected off nearby snow. And like other electronic gear, solar panels work better when cold. Mr. Stankevitz said that on some rare winter days, when the Minnesota sky is clear, the weather is freezing and the sun is shining brightly, his panels can briefly churn out more electricity than they were designed to produce, more than on the balmiest days of summer.


No Matter What Happens, Someone Will Blame Global Warming

Global warming was blamed for everything from beasts gone wild to anorexic whales to the complete breakdown of human society this year -- showing that no matter what it is and where it happens, scientists, explorers, politicians and those who track the Loch Ness Monster are comfortable scapegoating the weather. takes a look back at 10 things that global warming allegedly caused - or will no doubt soon be responsible for - as reported in the news around the world in 2008.

1. Cannibalism

In April, media mogul Ted Turner told PBS's Charlie Rose that global warming would make the world 8 degrees hotter in 30 or 40 years. "Civilization will have broken down. The few people left will be living in a failed state, like Somalia or Sudan, and living conditions will be intolerable," he said. Turner blamed global warming on overpopulation, saying "too many people are using too much stuff." Crops won't grow and "most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals," Turner said.

2. The Death of the Loch Ness Monster

In February, Scotland's Daily Mirror reported that 85-year-old American Robert Rines would be giving up his quest for Scotland's most famous underwater denizen. A World War II veteran, Rines has spent 37 years hunting for Nessie with sonar equipment. In 2008, "despite having hundreds of sonar contacts over the years, the trail has since gone cold and Rines believes that Nessie may be dead, a victim of global warming."

3. Beer Gets More Expensive

In April, the Associated Press reported that global warming was going to hit beer drinkers in the wallet because the cost of barley would increase, driving up the price of a pint. Jim Salinger, a climate scientist at New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, said Australia would be particularly hard hit as droughts caused a decline in malting barley production in parts of New Zealand and Australia. "It will mean either there will be pubs without beer or the cost of beer will go up," Salinger said at a beer brewer's convention, the AP reported.

4. Pythons Take Over America

Giant Burmese pythons - big enough to eat alligators and deer in a single mouthful - will be capable of living in one-third of continental U.S. as global warming makes more of the country hospitable to the cold-blooded predators, according to an April report from The U.S. Geological Survey and the Fish and Wildlife Service investigated the spread of "invasive snakes," like the pythons, brought to the U.S. as pets. The Burmese pythons' potential American habitat would expand by 2100, according to global warming models, the paper reported. "We were surprised by the map. It was bigger than we thought it was going to be," says Gordon Rodda, zoologist and lead project researcher, told "They are moving northward, there's no question."

5. Kidney Stones

A University of Texas study said global warming will cause an increase in kidney stones over the next 30 years, the Globe and Mail reported in July. Scientists predict that higher temperatures will lead to more dehydration and therefore to more kidney stones. "This will come and get you in your home," said Dr. Tom Brikowski, lead researcher and an associate professor at the University of Texas at Dallas. "It will make life just uncomfortable enough that maybe people will slow down and think what they're doing to the climate."

6. Skinny Whales

Japanese scientists, who have claimed that the country's controversial whaling program is all in the name of science, said in August that if they hadn't been going around killing whales, they never would have discovered that the creatures were significantly skinnier than whales killed in the late 1980s, the Guardian reported in August. The researchers said the study was the first evidence that global warming was harming whales by restricting their food supplies. As water warmed around the Antarctic Peninsula, the krill population shrank by 80 percent as sea ice declined, eliminating much of the preferred food of the minke whale. The whales studied had lost the same amount of blubber as they would have by starving for 36 days, but the global warming connection couldn't be proven because no krill measurements are taken in different regions.

7. Shark Attacks

A surge in fatal shark attacks was the handiwork of global warming, according to a report in the Guardian in May. George Burgess of Florida University, a shark expert that maintains an attack database, told the Guardian that shark attacks were caused by human activity. "As the population continues to rise, so does the number of people in the water for recreation. And as long as we have an increase in human hours in the water, we will have an increase in shark bites," he said. Shark attacks could also be the result of global warming and rising sea temperatures, the Guardian said. "You'll find that some species will begin to appear in places they didn't in the past with some regularity," Burgess said.

8. Black Hawk Down

Although it happened in 1993, the crash of a U.S. military helicopter in Mogadishu that became the film "Black Hawk Down" was blamed on global warming by a Massachusetts congressman in 2008. "In Somalia back in 1993, climate change, according to 11 three- and four-star generals, resulted in a drought which led to famine," Rep. Edward Markey told a group of students who had come to the Capitol to discuss global warming, according to "That famine translated to international aid we sent in to Somalia, which then led to the U.S. having to send in forces to separate all the groups that were fighting over the aid, which led to Black Hawk Down."

9. Frozen Penguin Babies

Penguin babies, whose water-repellant feathers had not grown in yet, froze to death after torrential rains, National Geographic reported in July. "Many, many, many of them-thousands of them-were dying," explorer Jon Bowermaster told National Geographic. Witnessing the mass penguin death "painted a clear and grim picture" of global warming. "It's not just melting ice," Bowermaster said. "It's actually killing these cute little birds that are so popular in the movies."

10. Killer Stingray Invasion

Global warming is going to drive killer stingrays, like the one that killed Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, to the shores of Britain after a 5-foot -long marbled stingray was captured by fishermen, the Daily Mail reported in June. A single touch can zap a man with enough electricity to kill, the Mail said, and global warming is bringing the Mediterranean killers north. "Rising sea temperatures may well have brought an influx of warm water visitors," sea life curator Alex Gerrard told the Mail. "Where there's one electric ray, it's quite likely that there are more."


The Great Seattle Salt Silliness: Sand on roads worse than salt, scientists say

Sand — one of Seattle's main weapons against icy streets — is more likely to harm aquatic life than the salt the city refuses to use out of concern for its environmental effects. That's the opinion of scientists who have studied the issue and officials from other cities that use salt to clear icy roads.

Seattle doesn't use salt, an effective ice-buster used widely by other cities and the state Department of Transportation, because of environmental concerns. Since last Thursday, Seattle has sprinkled more than 6,000 tons of sand on city streets and this week ordered 700 more tons for storage.

Instead of clearing major roads, Seattle aims to create a "hard-packed" snow surface suitable for all-wheel and four-wheel-drive vehicles, and front-wheel-drive vehicles with chains. The packed snow is then sprinkled with sand and sprayed with de-icer. The strategy failed to clear ice from many streets, leaving drivers struggling to navigate this week. More snow was expected overnight.

Richard Sheridan, of the Seattle Department of Transportation, said the city is less concerned about sand because the streets are swept once the snow is gone. Seattle has not used salt since the mid-1990s, he said, because it corrodes metal bridges and "degrades" the marine environment. But he could not say which areas the city is concerned about. Sheridan said sand is more environmentally friendly than salt, but scientists say sand damages waterways by clogging the spaces in gravel where insects live, making it hard for them to cling to rocks. Insects, a key part of the food chain, are an indicator of stream health.

Salt is less an issue because melting snow dilutes it, according to two scientists who studied effects of road salting on aquatic life. "In general, what my colleagues have found, and I have found, is that sand actually has a greater impact, at least on stream systems," said University of Dayton (Ohio) professor Eric Benbow, an aquatic ecologist. "Sand's the problem, as much as people don't want to recognize it."

Canadian studies on road salting in the late 1990s found potential impacts on groundwater, roadside plants and creatures in streams near roads where large amounts of salt were used. In a place such as Seattle, where salt is used infrequently, Benbow said he couldn't imagine the concentrations getting high enough to do any harm. Doug Myers, of the environmental group People for Puget Sound, said salt on city streets would not likely impact saltwater in the Sound. He said he is concerned about the impact on creeks that feed the Sound because they may contain species sensitive to salt or creatures already compromised by toxic chemicals. The group has not taken a position on the use of sand, he said.

Seattle's aversion to salt is shared by Bellevue and Spokane, which use chemical de-icers. Judy Johnson, Bellevue's street-maintenance superintendent, said the city used nothing to clear icy streets for a while. But the streets were too slick, so the city started using calcium chloride, which contains a rust inhibitor to protect cars. "We needed something in the toolbox for ice, for safety reasons," Johnson said, noting the decision to use chemicals was driven in part by concerns about the harm from sand. "It's a balancing act," she said. "You don't want to use a lot of any of this stuff. It's all got environmental effects."

Tacoma uses a saltwater brine before and after it snows, then follows up with a mixture of salt and sand. It has used 2,000 tons of the salt and sand mixture already this year. Environmental concerns about salt haven't garnered a lot of attention in Tacoma, but community-relations manager Rob McNair-Huff said sand is actually of larger concern. "It both clogs up the drainage systems and can be damaging as far as the habitats of macroinvertebrates [insects] and salmon," he said.

Everett has tried several products, but its standby is an 8-to-1 mix of sand and salt, said Kate Reardon, the city's spokeswoman. Since the city's drainage is treated in combined sewers or detention ponds, it doesn't drain directly to the Sound, she said. Vancouver, B.C., also uses salt and sand.

Decisions about snow clearance are influenced as much by social, financial and political concerns as by science, said Mark Devries, chairman of the winter-maintenance committee for the American Public Works Association, a professional organization. "We're driven by our budgets, we're driven by the level of service we're expected to give and we're driven by what's available to us in our areas," said Devries, the maintenance supervisor for McHenry County, Ill.

Professor Wilfrid Nixon, a winter-highway-maintenance expert at the University of Iowa College of Engineering, said salt is the best ice-buster around and that using it should be weighed against the environmental costs of other measures. Plows burn more fuel when they have to plow more, and accidents caused by icy roads have environmental consequences, too, he said. "Every crash in the winter is an environmental disaster," Nixon said. "You have spills of engine oil, gas, coolant. ... It may not be hundreds of miles of road, but the effect is intensely local."


Emailed comment from W. F. Lenihan [] on the story above:

Gov Gregoire had no choice. The roads throughout the state are a mess. More snow has fallen in the Seattle area recently than any other time except the winter of 1942-43. I am a Seattle native and 78. I had a paper route in 1942 and had to slog through snow 2 to 3 feet deep dragging a sled. This snow pack remained for four or five weeks.

The real stupidity by far is that of Mayor Nickels, who prohibited the use of salt on roads because it might harm fish in Puget Sound (salt water). See: here. You will FDLOL.

The spin from the mayor is that rubber edges on plow blades that pack the snow on the roads rather than remove it is used in NY and Chicago, both of which have flat terrain while Seattle's is more hilly than SF. Nickels and the entire city council should be recalled for stupidity.

Another point that is not clear from your post is that Gregroire's pride is enacting the Western Climate Initiative (Little Kyoto cap and trade system) involving 7 states and 4 Canadian Provences. Already a hundred or so employees are busy inventorying emission levels and determining the CO2 emission quotas for all emitters notwithstanding the fact that WA has one of the smallest carbon footprints in the nation.

A $6.5 billion deficit is anticipated for the current budget cycle, that is large enough to bankrupt the state. The idiot Dems that control the Legislature and run the State and major cities are determined to ruin the economy while solving non-existent problems.


For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.



Anonymous said...

Getting it globally clear:

1960s (way earlier, but must plug a date), 1965, Prince Philip and his band of merry rich partners in crime decided on the World Wildlife Federation ("WWF").

But, it began as that Club of Rome, initially, the "global elite" who were raping, pillaging and plundering the planet and all its' inhabitant forms -- noticed that this behavior was taking its' toll.

GREEN sold as a new brand to ingest and digest as our slow poison.

CHEMTRAILS, for example.

How long these chemicals in our skies have been sprayed, and for the save the planet, of course.

Our family won an EMINENT DOMAIN case in the State of Washington, and the Governor was in on the fraud. Twenty (20) years of a land grab in the State of Washington was finally exposed.

SALMON RECOVERY. What a scam for the highway departments to steal the ownership of Americans.

Yes, the Governor of the State of Washington has been no doubt promised a piece of safety in the coffers of the multi-billionaire ZIONISTS who are running the game.

The ENVIRONMENTAL "movement" is precisely about what is happening: global cleansing of life forms that can't be managed by a few when too many have brains that can think about the idea of freedom.

Global warming in other words, appears to be a select few humans with an enormous amount of money and power who have decided to depopulate the earth after growing the disposable commodities that these same choose as "collateral damage."

Brilliant site.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

From a starting point the earth is 1/4 day short of reaching the same point in it's orbit around the sun after exactly 365 days. For the second, third, and the fourth year the same 1/4 day shortfall in reaching the point that it started from each of those years. So finally, after 4 years of 365 day movements around the sun, the earth ends up 1 full day short of reaching the point it started from four years before,,, so we add 1 full day allowing it to reach the starting point of 4 years before.

Your error is not understanding that we arrive at that starting point every four years because of the added day on leap year so we never continue to just keep moving the approx one degree of longitude that you mention.

Simple as that!

Alice Finkel said...

The Puget Sound area is very special. Voters do not actually die in the Seattle area, but rise from the dead every 4 years or so to make sure the appropriate governor and Senators are elected to office.

In fact, the current Governor of Washington was elected by these same resurrected voters. Fascinating, yes, I know.