Friday, September 23, 2011

Shock News : Alaskan Glacier Melting 500 Million Cubic Feet Of Ice – Every Day!

News from 1892, Yes: 1892, not 1982

The Muir glacier, which is the great wonder of of Alaska, was, says a scientific writer in the Globe, doubtless discovered by Vancouver in 1791, but Professor John Muir was the first to describe it. Muir Inlet, at the head of Glacier Bay, is the termination of this great ”river of ice.”

The wall of blue ice is there a mile long and about 400 feet high. It is worn into towers, castles, and caverns, and is continually discharging fragments, from the size of a paving-stone to that of Cologne Cathedral. These falling into the sea cast up the spray for hundreds of feet into the air, and send forth waves which dash upon the shores and echo like thunder among the mountains.

The Muir glacier is really a sea of ice, with numerous branches in the valleys, any one of which is as large as the Gomer or Aletzch glacier of Switzerland. It is according to Mr. S. P. Baldwin, a recent visitor, as large as all the Alpine glaciers in one, being 1,200 square miles in area. The ice is 1,000 feet thick at the mouth in Muir Inlet, and the glacier, is estimated to comprise as much water as Lake Erie​.

It disharges 77 billion cubic feet of ice as icebergs, and 175 billion cubic feet of water by melting every year. The centre of the glacier, where the motion is quickest, is so rough and broken into crevasses that it is considered impassable. The eastern half, however, can be travelled as far as the névé.

Professor Wright has found the motion at the centre to be as much as 65 feet a day, whereas that of the Alpine glaciers is only 33 inches or so. As much as 90 feet a day has been found in the case of a Greenland glacier. The Muir glacier has once extended much further into the bay, and is now receding every year, while the sources of the ice supply are failing.


The cold hard proof Australia is getting warmer (?)

Contrary to what the author says below, the graph appears to cover just one ski location: Spencer's Creek, which reminds one of Keith Briffa's solitary Siberian tree. None of the other trees fitted Keith's global warming story so he relied on the one tree that did.

And Australia has had unusually early openings to its ski seasons in recent years so why is that not reflected in the graph? It could be that we are getting less extreme weather. The average depth rather than the peak depth would be more informative. The Greenies keep shrieking that were are having MORE extreme weather but a lot of data show the opposite. America has had unusually few major hurricanes in recent years, for instance

But the major point is that snowfall in most locations is more influenced by available atmospheric moisture than by temperature, and Australia DID suffer one of its recurrent droughts up until recently. If there is a real effect there, it's a drought effect

Look at this graph. Each blue bar shows the peak annual snow depth at Snowy Hydro’s five official snow measuring stations at Spencers Creek, about halfway between the NSW ski resorts of Perisher and Thredbo.

The black line shows the downward trend over the last 58 years. Pronounced decline, isn’t it. The consistent big seasons of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s are a thing of the past. On average, we’re losing three quarters of a centimetre of snow each year. That’s nearly half a metre since records were first kept.

Snowy Hydro has taken these measurements since the 1950s because they like to know how much snowmelt is going to end up in their dams each summer. The information is neutral, reliable, and untainted by ski resort PR. Even more crucially, it relies not on pie-in-the sky computer modelling, but on clinical, unhysterical observation.

And those observations reveal beyond doubt that Australia is getting warmer.

The problem with the climate change debate is that most of us can neither observe, nor feel, the data presented.

We cannot detect small annual changes in temperature, and are no hope of perceiving increases in CO2 or other gases. Moreover, popular graphs like the “hockey stick” championed by Al Gore, are endlessly open to misinterpretation and dispute.

But there’s no arguing with this snow depth graph. It is elegantly simple and best of all, it represents something tangible. The graph clearly shows that less snow is falling, and less snow is sticking around. And that ain’t happening because the world’s getting cooler, as some argue.

A warming globe impacts the Australian snow pack in two simple ways. Firstly, and most obviously, warmer weather means a greater likelihood of rain instead of snow, and quicker melt after snowstorms.

The second effect is a little more technical. Basically, a warmer globe makes it tougher for the snow-bearing cold fronts in the Southern Ocean to push north and make landfall on the Australian continent. Most experts agree that’s why areas like SW Western Australia are drying out so rapidly.

Now, no one’s saying the snow is going to disappear entirely this century, as predicted by a 2003 CSIRO report with a distinctly doomsday tone. But slowly, it’s going.

The $64 million question is why. Is all this part of a natural cycle or is the hand of human activity at work here?


Sea Level: Another Thing The IPCC Got Wrong

Our current rising sea level is often given as evidence of anthropogenic influence on the oceans, though usually when data from only the past decade or two are taken into consideration. An example is frequent comments by the UK government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Sir John Beddington, who has said that global sea level has increased by about 10 cm in the last 50 years and that is evidence of mankind’s influence. At first sight it is a dramatic and compelling statement for mankind’s effects on this parameter. Beddington also said, “the general issues on overall global temperature, on sea level and so on, are all pretty unequivocal”.

To get an idea of what is happening to sea levels it is necessary to take a view that is longer than 50 years. In its influential report the IPCC assumed that global sea level change during the past two thousand years up to the middle of the nineteenth century, was zero.

To my mind this is a puzzling statement. Few parameters of our complex, changing world are actually zero. If it is zero then it is in stark contrast to today’s rising seas, and if one was cynical one could deduce a political motive behind the IPCC’s sweeping statement. Whatever the motivation it is obvious that looking at sea level change over the past two thousand years is essential to put today’s changes into context.

A Complex Mixture

Sea level, at any given location, is a complex mixture of local, regional, and global processes. Information about sea levels prior to the tidal gauge and satellite era is limited although the substantial evidence that glaciers and ice sheets have altered significantly in size over the past two millennia makes the thought that sea levels have remained static a bit strange.

Curiously, the rebound of the Earth following the release of ice overlay after the end of the last glaciation, has caused sea level globally to fall at about 0.3 mm per year.

A crucial point is the effect of global ice melt in the past two millennia is unknown, but is thought by some to be close to zero. The IPCC assumes it is 0.0 – 0.2 mm per year.

However, there is also evidence that Northern hemisphere glaciers grew until the end of the Little Ice Age (1550 – 1850.) Antarctic ice surges have been estimated to be 2,000 and 700 years ago. Ice advances are not consistent, thinning of the Marie Byrd Land in West Antarctica thinning may have contributed 20 – 30 cm to global sea level rise.

In geologically stable areas of the world one can deduce sea levels using proxies such as; salt marsh sediments from Atlantic Canada that show stable sea levels between 0 and 1000 AD, then falling levels until to the mid-19th century, Mollusc distribution, and corals microatols (that occur close to average low water) also show falling levels until the past 200 years or so.

Archeological evidence, especially from the Mediterranean, suggest sea level was at its current level 2000 years ago, possibly higher between 300 and 600 and lower between the 13th century and the 19th, and rising since.

The important point is that all records show a falling sea level in the past thousand years. Another important point is what happened about 1850 when sea levels started to rise consistently?

The IPCC is therefore wrong in saying that prior to 1850 or so global sea levels were unchanging. Adding what we know casts a very different light on the changes we see today. It seems that sea level was rising and falling, due to millennia cycles perhaps, up until about 1850 when it started rising linearly. There was a change of gradient around 1910 when the rate of rise increases, and it has been constant ever since. Claims that sea level is accelerating, and, more recently, that it is slowing down are not statistically significant.

Just like the long term decline in Arctic sea ice we recently discussed, it is obvious that the current observed trend in sea level has its origins in the mid-nineteenth century before man’s influence on the climate became apparent (according IPCC estimates.) the fact that it is a straight line for the past century is also significant as it betrays no imprint of recent warming..

So, the statement by Professor Sir John Beddington, who has said that global sea level has increased by about 10 cm in the last 50 years (and so man must be to blame, unequivocally) is highly misleading, and a partial representation of the data. Whilst it is true that the sea level has increased by 10 cm in the past 50 years (coincident with a period of global warming), it also increased by 10 cm in the previous 50 years when man could not have been to blame!


An inconvenient Gore

Another Warmist who is repelled by Gore's histrionics

Last week I went to the London showing of Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project - it was one of 24 consecutive presentations held around the world on the 15th of September. There was a lot to look forward to in attending this, particularly to see how Mr Gore would respond to the troubling attacks on the science currently seen in some political debates and the continued challenge to carbon pricing policy in countries like Australia. Some have argued that we are at a crossroads in climate policy, with richer nations seemingly deciding that they will wing it and let the physics play out over the coming century (for a thoughtful piece on this click here).

This time though, I was disappointed and I am even more disappointed that this was the case. The core section of the presentation focused on extreme weather events and pretty much blamed them all on the long term change in the climate that is seemingly underway. By chance that same afternoon, I had listened in to an MIT web cast on exactly the same subject – extreme weather events. For me the contrast between the two was a concern. Although both presentations explained the observable shifts taking place in the global hydrological cycle and both showed the disturbing trend in measurements such as atmospheric humidity, Mr Gore then went straight from that to the remarkable cascade of disasters that have unfolded over the past 12 months. MIT did not, nor would their presenter be drawn on it even when pressed on the subject by one of the listeners. Rather, MIT focused on the rising global temperature and humidity and declining ice coverage and showed real measurements which illustrated how warmer ocean surface temperatures might lead to more intense hurricane activity.

Included within the Climate Reality slideshow were the Pakistan floods, the Australian floods and bush fires, the US floods from North Dakota to Nashville and down the Mississippi / Missouri River system, mud slides in Colombia and the Texas drought. These have been (and continue to be) awful events and they are illustrative of some of the possible impacts of a warmer, moister atmosphere, but they are not necessarily caused by this. In fact, 1974 also suffered a string of such disasters and both it and 2010/11 had another thing in common, an intense La Nina (1973-1975) in the Pacific. Record Australian, Brazilian, Colombian and Bangladeshi floods all featured in 1974, together with a super-outbreak of tornadoes in the United States. Somalia suffered an intense drought in that period as did the central USSR.

I don’t want to undermine the efforts of Mr Gore, but only point out that he is going to have to do better to communicate his important message. In this era of soundbites and media savvy politicians it will be all too easy to take shots at this new work. The much longer but more rigorous MIT approach is where we should be, despite the huge challenge of successfully communicating uncertainty and atmospheric chemistry to a global audience. Let’s not forget that a much more complex atmospheric chemistry issue (CFCs and the ozone layer) was communicated in the 1980’s.

In the last section of the presentation Mr Gore poured scorn on those who have challenged the science. This included special interest lobby groups (oil companies among them) and a number of well known political figures. I can’t agree with the statements made by some leading politicians who dispute the work of the scientific community, but direct attack isn’t the answer here, despite the huge temptation to do so. Nor is it the reality that all industry lobby groups are seeking to undermine the science. While some groups have been less than helpful and others have just displayed ignorance, many, many business groups have positively contributed to the development of a way forward. In the US, USCAP did a remarkable job in helping craft and then supporting the Waxman-Markey bill. Globally, some 150 companies (many of which are Fortune 500) belong to the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) and actively press for cap-and-trade approaches at national and regional level. Similar work is done in the WBCSD, the UK and EU Corporate Leaders Groups on Climate Change, the European Round Table of Industrialists, just to name a few. Sure, the businesses in these groups might fight their corner and will have no qualms about challenging issues such as allowance allocation in trading systems, but that is in the nature of reaching agreement.

The Climate Reality Project is an important next step, but at the moment it feels like a somewhat inconvenient one. The challenge back is the right thing to do, but the debate needs to be moved to a higher level, out of the trenches that currently seem to be occupied by many. This is an issue that will be around for the next 100 years and possibly much longer. We will all be too exhausted to even think about a true response if the current level of rancor is simply maintained.


Victory is sweet, but the war continues

Millions of Americans recently celebrated the demise of the Environmental Protection Agency’s job-killing ground-level ozone regulations. While a toast was appropriate, we shouldn’t drink too much champagne just yet.

As with the Battle of Midway and Lt. Col. James Doolittle’s Tokyo Raid in early 1942, White House action on this single EPA rule is merely a welcome victory in a long struggle. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce may have declared, “Now, at least they’re listening,” but other observers say the EPA and Obama administration are still tone deaf.

Indeed, a major factor in the White House decision on ozone was a map showing that 85 percent of America’s counties would be out of compliance with the Clean Air Act if the new rules were implemented. That would mean no new construction or manufacturing projects could begin — and no jobs “created or saved” — until billions are spent to bring existing facilities into compliance with arbitrary new ozone standards.

Many of those counties are in politically important states like Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia – which better explains the administration’s sudden “conversion,” than does any supposed recognition that its rules are unnecessary and harmful. Moreover, the ozone rule was not killed; it was postponed until after the 2012 elections, to safeguard jobs: White House, administration, Democrat and SEIU jobs.

The administration’s mile-long regulatory freight train merely paused to shunt the ozone boxcar onto a siding, to be retrieved later. The engines and remaining cars are still roaring down the tracks, heading for a collision with a sick economy that has left 14 million Americans jobless, 9 million forced to take part-time work, 2.5 million who have given up looking for jobs, and 46 million on food stamps.

Orchestrated environmentalist outrage over the delayed ozone rule may deflect attention from the rest of the freight train, and make it easier to impose hundreds of other regulations. In fact, reams of complex Dodd-Frank financial rules and Obamacare health sector regulations are still onboard, as are National Labor Relations Board unionizing schemes, Agriculture and Interior Department land use regulations, and many others.

The Energy Department continues to lavish taxpayer dollars on expensive wind and solar projects that provide minimal energy at exorbitant cost, even after two more solar companies went bankrupt, costing Americans another $1 billion and 1,900 jobs. Solyndra alone cost US taxpayers $535 million, to create 1,100 temporary jobs at $485,000 apiece. They’re all gone now.

Citing Energy Department reports, the Washington Post reports that the $39-billion loan guarantee program, which President Obama promised would “create or save” 65,000 jobs, has instead spawned a measly 3,545 new, supposedly permanent jobs — after blowing nearly $18 billion, or $5 million per job.

Green jobs? Greenback jobs is more like it — taxpayer greenbacks for Obama and cronies. Worse, by draining billions from taxpayers, consumers and productive sectors of the American economy, the administration is killing two to three traditional, sustainable jobs for each greenback job it creates.

Then there is EPA, which even in this toxic environment remains the biggest single job-killing agency in government. Its ozone rulemaking is just one of dozens it has planned, finalized, or brought to the brink of sign-off and implementation.

Unable to get cap-tax-and-trade passed in Congress, EPA has its economy-killing carbon dioxide rules waiting on a railway siding, until the November elections spur a regulatory frenzy. It is still preparing coal-fired power plant emission rules to control the 0.5 percent of mercury that actually enters America’s atmosphere from those facilities, as well as expensive regulations on heavy-duty trucks.

“Cross-state” air pollution regulations will force utilities in a few states to install billion-dollar retrofits on coal-fired power plants that EPA computer models say could (minimally) affect air quality hundreds of miles away. EPA claims 20 states affect downwind states during the May-September NOx/ozone season, but demands that Florida shoulder 79 percent of the national responsibility.

It claims seven states affect Houston’s air quality, but wants Florida to provide 94 percent of the alleged benefits for the Texas city, 800 miles away, across the sultry, largely windless summertime Gulf of Mexico — after Florida utilities already reduced their NOx emissions by two-thirds since 2003. EPA also says Texas must retrofit power plants that might affect Illinois communities 400 miles away.

Even crazier, EPA is using outdated air pollution measurements to justify these rules. In reality, data from recent years show the supposedly impacted cities already meet national ambient air quality standards.

EPA’s “maximum achievable control technologies” (MACT) rules will impact power sources in factories and refineries. Its “reciprocating ignition compression engine” (RICE) rules will curtail the availability of thousands of backup, “peaking” and emergency generators at colleges, hospitals, malls, groceries and other facilities. When storms knock out power, or heat waves strain overloaded grids, the dearth of electricity will cause brownouts, blackouts and widespread chaos, especially in hospitals.

Coal ash and water quality rules will raise costs even further for nearly half of America’s power plants — and electricity users — for minimal environmental gain.

For three years EPA has used global warming claims to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline project, which could create hundreds of thousands of American refinery, construction, manufacturing, financial and other jobs — and stymie Shell’s oil drilling plans in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea.

In every instance, EPA claims “the regulatory benefits far exceed the costs.” However, as independent natural scientist Dr. Willie Soon and other analysts have documented, the health, welfare and environmental risks and benefits have frequently been exaggerated or even fabricated.

Worse, EPA steadfastly refuses to consider the significant adverse effects that its rules will have on human health and welfare. The cumulative weight of these rules will send energy costs skyrocketing and kill millions of additional jobs, Affordable Power Alliance co-chair Niger Innis points out.

Poor and newly jobless families will be even less able to afford gasoline, clothing, healthcare, proper nutrition and other basic needs, Innis notes. Many will suffer increased stress, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and crime rates. Many low income families will be unable to afford proper heating during frigid winter months or air conditioning during summer heat waves. People will die.

Equally outrageous, while it may have shunted its ozone boxcar onto a railway siding, EPA is ramping up its campaign to rally support for its dangerous policies. Under its “Plan EJ 2014” initiative and other programs, the agency is “leading from behind” — funneling millions of taxpayer dollars to minority, low-income and environmentalist groups that will advance EPA’s rulemaking, permitting, compliance, enforcement and other agenda items under guise of “environmental justice” and “civil rights” claims.

The Environmental Protection Agency is setting the stage for a national disaster.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson insists she wants “a real conversation about protecting our health and the environment.” By all means, let’s have that conversation. It’s likely, however, that she and her radical allies will not enjoy it one small bit.


British government's wind farm plans are 'big gamble' and the numbers do not add up, say MPs

The Government’s wind farm plans are a ‘big gamble’ which may not pay off, according to a committee of MPs. They say ministers are banking on the cost of offshore wind going down and major improvements in efficiency to ‘make the numbers add up’.

In a report out today, they say a ‘supergrid’ – costing up to £60billion – may be needed to join Britain’s wind farms to plants in other European countries.

There are more than 500 turbines off the coast of the UK and another 1,000 approved or under construction. But thousands more will be needed to meet the target of generating 15 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The Energy and Climate Change Committee report says: ‘Today the national grid is struggling to cope, because so much of our electricity is produced in remote areas, especially the North.

‘Our transmission systems do not always have the capacity to deliver power to where is needed. ‘If the Government hopes to deliver its aspirations at all, let alone in a cost-effective way…a more efficient way of connecting wind needs to be planned.’

It says offshore wind is necessary to reduce Britain’s dependence on oil. But the reports adds that it is ‘a notoriously expensive and intermittent source of electricity supply and imposing an unacceptable cost on consumers’.

It continues: ‘The Government is banking on reductions in the cost of offshore wind and improvements in efficiency to make the numbers add up.’

It was revealed this weekend that £2.6million was paid in compensation to 11 wind farm owners to switch off their plants because the National Grid could not cope with the surge in electricity.

The committee’s chairman, Tim Yeo, said connecting the UK’s electricity network to other countries would make the system cheaper and more efficient. He added: ‘At the moment we are paying some generators to switch off because we haven’t got the wires to deliver electricity from where it is produced to where it is needed. ‘An offshore grid can relieve some of this pressure.’

The cost of reinforcing the existing lines and cables to deliver electricity where it is needed has been put at £32billion by 2020, the committee said.

A spokesman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change said it was in talks with nine countries about the feasibility of a supergrid in the North Sea.

He added: ‘Offshore wind has a crucial role to play in the UK’s future energy mix, with huge potential benefits for our economy and our energy security, but we are clear that increasing offshore wind deployment is dependent on reducing the costs.’



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 are mirrors of this site here and here


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