Monday, May 11, 2009

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust: theory that Atlantic Ocean is warming due to climate change laid to rest

This is the BBC catching up with the academic journal article I mentioned yesterday

The North Atlantic is hotting up fast but it's not because of climate change, say scientists in the most recent edition of the journal Science. No, it's because there's less dust around to keep the water cool.

Over the past 30 years, the North Atlantic has been warming up at a rate of a quarter of a degree Celsius per decade. (That's pretty fast for a tropical ocean basin, apparently.) Like the left-handed man in a Sherlock Holmes novel who limps, smokes Indian cigars and carries a blunt pen-knife in his pocket, suspicion immediately fell upon climate change. But the real culprit, it now emerges, is a drop in the amount of dust and sulphate in the skies above the Atlantic.

Dust blown out of West Africa (the world's largest 'dust superstore') and volcano-belched sulphate, both of which cool the atmosphere by scattering sunlight, are on the decline, say the scientists, which is why the ocean is warming.

Of course, climate change could still get the last laugh, according to the study, a joint project between the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Wisconsin.

In fact, the report concludes that rising CO2 concentrations could change wind patterns and reduce sand erosion through 'fertilisation' of desert vegetation, thereby driving the temperature of the Atlantic up by another 0.4° Celsius by 2050. Not cool.


Getting real about the urban heat island effect

A MUCH higher estimate here of the urban heat island effect than Warmists normally allow. Jones and Wang argued for just half a degree and it is their work that dominated the IPCC conclusions

LONDON and other cities could see summer temperatures rise to more than 10C above those in the surrounding countryside, according to Met Office research being used to help devise the first official climate change map of Britain. Scientists have been studying a phenomenon known as the urban heat island effect, in which cities become significantly hotter than the areas around them because of the heat they generate themselves.

Big cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow already reach temperatures 2C - 3C above their surroundings in the summer. Scientists fear that difference could grow four to fivefold as hotter weather combines with soaring energy use and population growth, making such temperature gaps more frequent and more extreme.

The research is linked to a wider project aimed at helping scientists predict the impact rising temperatures will have on different parts of the country. The full results will be released next month by Hilary Benn, the environment secretary.

Vicky Pope, the head of climate change advice at the Met Office, said: “As the climate gets warmer, sweltering summer temperatures will combine with rising energy use, the heat-retaining properties of buildings, and the sheer volume of people, to push temperatures higher and higher. “It may sometimes make life in the metropolis intolerable. Imagine the scorching conditions that commuters will face on London’s Tube network.”

The warning follows the disclosure by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that global temperatures have risen by almost 1C since preindustrial times. The panel predicts global temperatures will have risen by 2C by 2050 with total warming of up to 5-6C possible by 2100.

Such findings are now widely accepted but questions remain, especially regarding the impact on cities, where more than half the world’s population live. New York – hotter in summer than British cities - is regularly 7C-8C hotter than nearby rural areas.

In Britain, 90% of the population lives in urban or suburban areas so the impact on people is potentially huge. The research is based partly on data from heatwaves, such as the one in 2003, and on computer projections. It also looked at cities such as Athens and Beirut which suffer from the urban heat phenomenon. The August 2003 heatwave saw England’s daytime temperatures top 30C for 10 days and exceed 35C in many places. The same heatwave saw temperatures in the upper 30Cs in the centres of cities such as London, Birmingham and Manchester. This was often 6C-7C above those in rural areas.

Researchers fear central city temperatures may exceed 40C as the century progresses. “The high temperatures of 2003 were extraordinary but may become common by 2050 and even be seen as relatively cool by 2100,” said Pope.

One of the factors that made London so hot was its inability to cool down. At night during the heatwave, the city centre was sometimes 9C warmer than its surrounding green belt. This is because rural and suburban areas lose heat at night but in cities the materials used for hard surfaces store more solar energy and lose it more slowly. This effect is amplified by the heat from lights, electrical equipment and cars. Also, as cities get warmer, they consume more power trying to stay cool, because of air-condition-ers and fridges working harder.

Richard Betts, head of climate impacts at the Met Office, who oversaw the research, said Tokyo showed what British cities might face. Its tall, densely packed buildings and high energy use mean the Japanese capital is often 10C hotter than the surrounding countryside. [Yet Tokyo is thriving! How odd!!] “We must change how we plan cities, to maximise green spaces and create structures that dissipate heat,” said Betts.

Urban heat islands have a serious impact on health. In 2003 there were 2,091 more deaths than normal between August 4 and 13 in Britain, most of them among elderly people in southeast England. For people aged over 75 there was a 33% increase in mortality.


When CO2 increase led to an ice age

It's actually a very weak Greenhouse gas

An international team of geologists may have uncovered the answer to an age-old question - an ice-age-old question, that is. It appears that Earth's earliest ice age may have been due to the rise of oxygen in Earth's atmosphere, which consumed atmospheric greenhouse gases and chilled the earth.

Scientists from the University of Maryland, including post-doctoral fellows Boswell Wing and Sang-Tae Kim, graduate student Margaret Baker, and professors Alan J. Kaufman and James Farquhar, along with colleagues in Germany, South Africa, Canada and the United States, uncovered evidence that the oxygenation of Earth's atmosphere - generally known as the Great Oxygenation Event - coincided with the first widespread ice age on the planet.

"We can now put our hands on the rock library that preserves evidence of irreversible atmospheric change," said Kaufman. "This singular event had a profound effect on the climate, and also on life."

Using sulfur isotopes to determine the oxygen content of ~2.3 billion year-old rocks in the Transvaal Supergroup in South Africa, they found evidence of a sudden increase in atmospheric oxygen that broadly coincided with physical evidence of glacial debris, and geochemical evidence of a new world-order for the carbon cycle.

"The sulfur isotope change we recorded coincided with the first known anomaly in the carbon cycle. This may have resulted from the diversification of photosynthetic life that produced the oxygen that changed the atmosphere," Kaufman said.

Two and a half billion years ago, before the Earth's atmosphere contained appreciable oxygen, photosynthetic bacteria gave off oxygen that first likely oxygenated the surface of the ocean, and only later the atmosphere. The first formed oxygen reacted with iron in the oceans, creating iron oxides that settled to the ocean floor in sediments called banded iron-formations - layered deposits of red-brown rock that accumulated in ocean basins worldwide. Later, once the iron was used up, oxygen escaped from the oceans and started filling up the atmosphere.

Once oxygen made it into the atmosphere, the scientists suggest that it reacted with methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, to form carbon dioxide, which is 62 times less effective at warming the surface of the planet. "With less warming potential, surface temperatures may have plummeted, resulting in globe-encompassing glaciers and sea ice" said Kaufman.

In addition to its affect on climate, the rise in oxygen stimulated the rise in stratospheric ozone, our global sunscreen. This gas layer, which lies between 12 and 30 miles above the surface, decreased the amount of damaging ultraviolet sunrays reaching the oceans, allowing photosynthetic organisms that previously lived deeper down, to move up to the surface, and hence increase their output of oxygen, further building up stratospheric ozone.

"New oxygen in the atmosphere would also have stimulated weathering processes, delivering more nutrients to the seas, and may have also pushed biological evolution towards eukaryotes, which require free oxygen for important biosynthetic pathways," said Kaufman.

The result of the Great Oxidation Event, according to Kaufman and his colleagues, was a complete transformation of Earth's atmosphere, of its climate, and of the life that populated its surface. The study is published in the May issue of Geology.


Carbon Capture?

Here's a handy boil-down of "Carbon Capture and Burial — a Stupid Answer to a Silly Question," from the Carbon Sense Coalition's Viv Forbes:

"These are the likely effects [of carbon capture and storage (CCS)]:

About 30% [some say as high as 50%] of the power station electricity will be wasted in separating, compressing and pumping of CO2. Thus a power station now using 1 million tonnes of coal per annum will need 1.5 Mt of coal to produce the same output of usable power for electricity consumers or other industries.

A 50% increase in coal used will require a similar increase in coal mine capacity and transport and handling facilities — a huge waste of community land, resources and capital.

The resource life of every thermal coal mine will be reduced by 30% [50%].

Capital costs for every power station forced to wear this ball-and-chain will rise 30-100%, and electricity charges must rise by a similar amount to cover the parasitic power losses and the increased capital and operating costs.

No wonder some greens support CCB [carbon capture and burial] – it will make coal fired electricity so expensive that even piddle power from windmills will look attractive.

The same dismal story will emerge at every cement plant and steel works that is forced to install CCB.

The figures for gas powered facilities are similar in principle, and only slightly better.

The use of oxygen instead of air in the boilers merely shifts the nitrogen separation costs from the end of the process to the beginning.

And after all that trouble and expense, the effect on climate is probably undetectable. There is no proof or evidence that man’s production of CO2 controls the climate.

A typical 1,000 MW power station could burn about 3 million tonnes of coal per year, requiring 300 trains per year to supply the coal. If CCB is installed, the extra power needed will call for another 150 trains of coal. And if trains were used to haul away the captured CO2, the mass of material moved would require another 1,150 trains per year, each train carrying 10,000 tonnes.

Australia currently uses 128 million tonnes of coal per year to generate electricity. The CO2 produced by all of these stations could total over 300 million tonnes py. If triple header trains were used to transport this as liquefied CO2 it would require 30,000 trains per year or 600 trains per week. No matter what method of transport is used, the tonnage realities are still there and it will require immense energy to capture, compress, transport and bury the CO2 anywhere."

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Climate change: The elements conspire against the warmists

An international team of scientists has used the latest electro-magnetic induction equipment to discover that the Arctic ice is in fact "twice as thick" as they had expected, says Christopher Booker.

As the clock ticks down towards December's historic UN Copenhagen conference on climate change, the frenzied efforts of the warmists to panic us over all that vanishing Arctic and Antarctic ice are degenerating into farce.

That great authority Ban Ki-moon, the UN's Secretary-General, solemnly tells us that the polar ice caps are "melting far faster than was expected just two years ago". Yet the latest satellite information from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (passed on by the Watts Up With That blog) shows that, after the third slowest melt of April Arctic ice in 30 years, the world's polar sea ice is in fact slightly above its average extent for early May since satellite records began in 1979.

This news came as the website was reporting "It's snowing all over the world". Snow was still falling in the Alps after a record winter, while in the southern hemisphere the skiing season was starting "five weeks early".

Meanwhile, up in the Arctic, after yet another delay for bad weather, the hapless Catlin trio, sponsored by an insurance firm which hopes to make money out of alarm over global warming, continue their painful progress towards the distant North Pole, measuring the ice with an old tape measure and assuring Prince Charles by satellite telephone that it is "thinner than expected".

When the trio heard a passing aircraft, which they hoped was bringing much-needed supplies, they little realised it was a DC-3 carrying an international team of scientists, using the latest electro-magnetic induction equipment to discover rather more efficiently that the ice was in fact "twice as thick" as they had expected.

A last symbolic drama was the fate of another three-man expedition aiming to publicise the effects of climate change. Followed by schools across Britain, they were aiming to reach Greenland in a "carbon-free" boat powered only by wind and the sun. Last week, after running into appalling weather, they were rescued by – it had to be – a US oil tanker. I wonder whether the schoolchildren were told.


Global warming goes missing in NZ

More evidence has emerged that the world is indeed warming in the way that the global warming brigade have been warning. Not.

Check this out from New Zealand, where the Helen Clark-led former labour Government signed up to the Kyoto Protocol to stop a cold country warming:

Canterbury’s Mt Hutt looks set for a bumper ski season this winter. Assistant ski area manager James McKenzie says the wintry weather over the past week has seen snow at levels that are not usually seen at this time of the year. The latest front has delivered around 40 to 50 centimetres of snow which comes on top of the existing 90 centimetres.

Please read on - it’s only early May and winter has well and truly arrived well ahead of schedule. So much for global warming.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Parrot endangers 1000 jobs in Australia

All based on speculation that the birds MIGHT be upset. Nobody is killing them and they are still there after years of work in the area

A PARROT is about to cost 1000 workers their jobs because the Federal Government has ordered a timber industry to be shut down to protect the bird. The unprecedented government intervention will see the jobs cut within days.

The Daily Telegraph has learned Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett's department issued a stop-work order to the New South Wales Government 10 days ago, a move the industry claims could wipe out the entire town of Deniliquin in the state's south.

The Opposition says the move is overkill and has branded Mr Garrett a "warbling twit". "There are a lot of them out there," Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said of the parrots. "As one person put it to me this morning, you've got the warbling twit protecting the green leak parrot but sacrificing 1000 jobs."

The Environment Department ordered New South Wales cease all clear felling of red gum in the Central Murray Darling region - timber used mainly for firewood and railway sleepers - due to concerns over the future of the parrot.

Sometimes referred to as the green leek parrot, the social bird nests in the hollows of the red gums and is nationally listed as vulnerable. Conservationists claim the flight patterns of the bird, which lives for up to 25 years, are being disrupted as it does not like flying over open spaces.

The discovery hundreds of families face losing their livelihoods comes a day before Treasurer Wayne Swan hands down a Budget aiming to help buffer the country against unemployment. The State Government is seeking an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Mr Garrett, claiming the intervention by the Commonwealth to declare the logging illegal would cause the immediate loss of at least 500 timber jobs and 360 indirectly related jobs.

The NSW Government is also seeking legal advice on whether it can get around the Federal Government order, which has given NSW State Forests until May 31 to stop logging of the Central Murray wetlands in the Riverina area or face legal action. A Forests NSW briefing note obtained by The Daily Telegraph warned 11 sawmills would be forced to close overnight and 800 people would lose their jobs along with the closure of an industry worth $60 million to the NSW economy. It accused the Federal Government of being cavalier in its approach to NSW by acting before a $2 million State Government funded Environmental Impact Statement on logging in the area had been completed. It was due to go on public exhibition a day later on June 1.

The Daily Telegraph has obtained a letter of demand to stop work, written on May 1 from Mr Garrett's secretary for the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), Rose Webb, to Forests NSW manager Garry Rodda. Ms Webb raised concerns about the impacts of the State Government's harvesting practices on the birds' flight patterns and nesting habitat.



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