Sunday, August 30, 2009

Rediscovering the obvious

Big shock! Climate warming does NOT necessarily melt glaciers. As most glaciers are well below zero Celsius, the principal determinant of glacial mass is the amount of precipitation (snowfall) received -- and warmer oceans should evaporate more and hence increase precipitation

Ice, when heated, is supposed to melt. That’s why a collection of glaciers in the Southeast Himalayas stymies those who know what they did 9,000 years ago. While most other Central Asian glaciers retreated under hotter summer temperatures, this group of glaciers advanced from one to six kilometers.

A new study by BYU geologist Summer Rupper pieces together the chain of events surrounding the unexpected glacial growth. “Stronger monsoons were thought to be responsible,” said Rupper, who reports her findings in the September issue of the journal Quaternary Research. “Our research indicates the extra snowfall from monsoonal effects can only take credit for up to 30 percent of the glacial advance.”

As Central Asia’s summer climate warmed as much as 6 degrees Celsius, shifting weather patterns brought more clouds to the Southeast Himalayas. The additional shade created a pocket of cooler temperatures. Temperatures also dropped when higher winds spurred more evaporation in this typically humid area, the same process behind household swamp coolers.

The story of these seemingly anomalous glaciers underscores the important distinction between the terms “climate change” and “global warming.” “Even when average temperatures are clearly rising regionally or globally, what happens in any given location depends on the exact dynamics of that place,” Rupper said.

The findings come from a framework Rupper developed as an alternative to the [absurdly simplistic] notion that glaciers form and melt in direct proportion to temperature. Her method is based on the balance of energy between a glacier and a wide range of climate factors, including wind, humidity, precipitation, evaporation and cloudiness. [Sounds like she is a bit too good a scientist to be a Warmist]

Gerard Roe and Alan Gillespie of the University of Washington are co-authors of the new study.

Knowing how glaciers responded in past periods of climate change will help Rupper forecast the region’s water supply in the coming decades. She and collaborators are in the process of determining how much of the Indus River comes from the vast network of glaciers far upstream from the agricultural valleys of India and Pakistan.

“Their study can be used to help assess future glaciological and hydrological changes in the most populated part of our planet, which is a region that is now beginning to experience the profound effects of human-induced climate change,” said Lewis Owen, a geologist at the University of Cincinnati who was not affiliated with this study.


What is causing the Increase in Atmospheric Water Vapor?

This is delusional. Warming from ANY cause (man-made or natural) will increase atmospheric water content. And constructing models that assume human input proves nothing

Researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and and a group of international researchers have found that model quality does not affect the ability to identify human effects on atmospheric water vapor.

The atmosphere's water vapor content has increased by about 0.4 kilograms per square meter per decade since 1988, and natural variability alone can't explain this moisture change, according to lead author Benjamin Santer of the LLNL .

More water vapor, which is itself a greenhouse gas, amplifies the warming effect of increased atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, according to the LLNL press release.

The group of scientists ran a "fingerprint" analysis of 22 different climate models and tested each model individually. Regardless of model quality, each model came to the same conclusion.....Humans are warming the planet, and this warming is increasing the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. In every case, a water vapor fingerprint arising from human influences could be clearly identified in the satellite data

"One criticism of our first study was that we were only able to find a human fingerprint because we included inferior models in our analysis," said Karl Taylor, another LLNL co-author. "We've now shown that whether we use the best or the worst models, they don't have much impact on our ability to identify a human effect on water vapor."



Oil refiners, including regional giant Sunoco Inc., say that proposed federal legislation aimed at curbing global warming could impair fuel production nationally and in the region, where it is a mainstay of the economy.

A study released this week by the American Petroleum Institute (API), the industry's trade group, projects that the cap-and-trade bill in its current form could cause a 17 percent reduction in U.S. refinery output by 2030. The reduction would be made up by doubling fuel imports from foreign refiners, who may not face climate restrictions.

API said the analysis by EnSys Energy shows the "devastating" effect the American Clean Energy and Security Act would have on U.S. jobs and energy security. While the proposed bill would dramatically reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from U.S. refineries, there would be only a slight worldwide reduction as fuel production shifted overseas, the study said...

The study was released as the Senate prepares to consider the climate-change bill, sponsored by Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D., Calif.) and Ed Markey (D., Mass.). The bill narrowly passed the House in June, and it is likely to be substantially amended by the Senate.

Cap-and-trade is a method to control greenhouse gases by creating a market for emissions permits. The government would set a cap on emissions, but emitters that don't use their full quota could trade their excess permits to companies needing them. The caps would become gradually more restrictive.

Refiners complain because the proposed legislation would force them to become big buyers of the permits. Though refiners emit about 4 percent of the nation's greenhouse gases, they are held responsible for 44 percent of all emissions, including the exhaust from automobiles, planes, trains, and heating oil. But the bill would allocate only 2.25 percent of the permits to refiners. "In its current form, the legislation will likely increase the cost of domestic refining so much - through the need to purchase credits, higher electricity costs, and the financial carrying costs to actually buy the allowances - that it will be cheaper to import gasoline, diesel, and other products from overseas," said Thomas P. Golembeski, spokesman for Sunoco, which is based in Philadelphia.

"Eventually, we would expect that higher domestic refining costs would force some U.S. refining capacity to close, which would mean the loss of jobs, tighter fuel supply, and higher fuel costs for consumers," Golembeski said.

Supporters of the cap-and-trade legislation say it would force a transition to clean energy by imposing market conditions that would penalize imported fossil fuels and reward development of renewable energy.

The API study said that in its worst-case scenario, the proposed law could reduce annual U.S. refining investments by up to $89.7 billion, reduce refinery utilization rates from 83.3 percent to as low as 63.4 percent, and would cut refinery production by up to 4.4 million barrels a day. Refineries on the Gulf Coast and in California would be hit hardest.

Sunoco, which has three refineries in the Philadelphia area, is not a member of API, but Golembeski said the company was aware of the study. He said Sunoco prefers a carbon tax levied directly upon sources of greenhouse gases, rather than the more complex cap-and-trade system. "A transparent and direct carbon tax would be, in our view, a much more workable solution," Golembeski said.


Climate change supercomputer makes Met building one of Britain's most polluted

And they still struggle to predict Britain's weather even a few days ahead

The Met Office's new supercomputer has scored it's second own goal since it was unveiled with much fanfare in May. After tempting the nation into holidaying in Britain by wrongly forecasting a "barbecue Summer", it has now earned the Met Office's Exeter headquarters the shame of being named as one of the most polluting buildings in Britain.

By the time it reaches peak performance in 2011 the £30 million machine's massive processing power - it can perform 125 trillion calculations per second - will require 1.2 megawatts of power to run, enough energy to power a small town.

As a result it will contribute 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide to the problem of global warming every year. That places the Met Office HQ close to the top of the list of carbon emitters - 103rd out of 28,259 UK public buildings assessed for their carbon footprint by the Department of Communities and Local Government.

Barry Gromett, a Met Office spokesman, came to the defence of the machine, claiming that its severe weather warnings could help to save lives and its predictions for the airline industry helped to save 20 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year. He also defended the Met Office building. “Our supercomputer is vital for predictions of weather and climate change," said Mr Gromett. “By failing to discriminate between office and supercomputing facilities the process reflects badly on the entire Met Office site. In fact, the general office space is rated excellent and has consistently done so since the Met Office building in Exeter was completed in 2003.”

The supercomputer analyses data from satellite images and sea temperature gauges. Its supporters say it will be able to predict previously unforeseeable weather events, such as the 1987 hurricane that unexpectedly devastated Britain. By 2011 it will offer processing power approaching 1 PetaFlop - equivalent to more than 100,000 PCs and over 30 times more powerful than what is currently in place.

Maurice Spurway, a Friends of the Earth spokesman, said it was wryly amusing that the Met Office had been fingered for damaging the climate. “Life is full of ironies and I think this is one of those situations,” he said.

Manchester University's Oxford Road campus was named the most polluting building in Britain in the government survey, followed by the Royal London Hospital and Scarborough Sports Centre.


Greenies are 'emotionalizing' the cap-and-trade debate

Environmental activists who favor anti-global warming regulations like the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill now before the U.S. Senate have long claimed that government intervention is essential to save the planet from an imminent man-made catastrophe. In fact, only Waxman-Markey threatens to be a man-made catastrophe. The bill would create billions of dollars' worth of government credits to businesses that reduce carbon emissions. Businesses that exceed the required reductions could sell the credits to firms that fail to do so. The approach won't work because it would use a government mandate to create a market for which there is no consumer demand.

Since the American economy is mainly powered by energy produced from carbon fuels and will be for the foreseeable future, reducing carbon emissions requires slowing or eliminating economic growth, with the result that 2 million more Americans will become unemployed by 2012, according to an analysis by the conservative Heritage Foundation. Similarly, the Brookings Institution -- certainly no sentinel of rightward analysis -- also predicts dire economic results from Waxman-Markey.

To overcome such objections, environmental advocates project a dire future in the hope Congress will adopt measures like Waxman-Markey to assuage public fears. At least one major environmentalist leader has confessed to "emotionalizing" the anti-global warming case as a way of capturing public attention and generating support. Gerd Leipold, retiring director of Greenpeace, in an Aug. 7 interview with the BBC, conceded that Arctic ice would not all melt by 2030, contrary to his organization's prediction earlier this year.

But when pressed by the BBC reporter to defend such predictions in Greenpeace news releases and briefing materials, Leipold admitted errors but defended them as a necessary means to an end: "What we have said by and large over the last 20 years I think was wise and was rational and reasonable. ... We are confronted with a world that has unfortunately only recently woken up to it. We as a pressure group have to emotionalize issues, and we are not ashamed of emotionalizing issues." In other words, Greenpeace is engaging in propaganda.

Waxman-Markey has already passed the House, but in September, the Senate will have an opportunity to de-emotionalize the debate over the bill. And Senate members do, they should take a hard look at the pronouncements of Greenpeace and other environmentalist groups, and separate the propaganda from the facts.


Australia: Solar power a dud

Lack of savings in S.E. Queensland said to be a "mystery" but: 1). We have had a lot of rainy and overcast weather this year in the Brisbane area and: 2). Panels vary a lot in efficiency. No doubt people were given estimates based on maximum efficiency -- not the efficiency obtainable from the actual cheaper panels used

HOMEOWNERS are fuming after spending tens of thousands of dollars on solar panels only to find their power bills have stayed the same or only marginally dropped. Each of the cases involved installations by Modern Solar, which has blamed Energex meters for the problems.

One customer said he had estimated it would take 190 years to recoup the cost of the installation, when he was promised it would take 13 years in a worst-case scenario.

Energex said it was aware of the problem but, despite repeated testing of various installations, could not pinpoint the cause. Energy Ombudsman Barry Adams said there had been a rise in complaints from people unhappy with their savings. He said it appeared some companies had "over-exaggerated" the savings. Mr Adams had raised the issue with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and Queensland's Office of Fair Trading.



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