Wednesday, September 05, 2012

New paper finds solar activity has a strong influence on Arctic winter severity

A paper published today in the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics finds the ice winter severity index over the past 600 years in the Baltic region of the Arctic is "strongly modulated" by solar activity over periods as short as one decade. The authors also found that the 180 year cycle of the Barycenter modulates solar activity and the ice winter severity index.
Solar forcing on the ice winter severity index in the western Baltic region

By M.C. Leal-Silva & V.M. Velasco Herrera


The Sun is the fundamental energy sources of the Earth's climate and therefore its variations can contribute to natural climate variations. In the present work we study the variability of ice winter severity index in the Baltic Sea since the 15th century and its possible connection with solar activity, based in a new method for finding and measuring amplitude-phase cross-frequency coupling in time series with a low signal/noise ratio, we suggests that the ice winter severity index in the Baltic Sea is modulated by solar activity and solar motion in several frequency bands during the last 500 yrs. According to our model a strong coupling between the decadal periodicity in the ice winter severity index time series and the secular periodicity of solar activity is present. We found that the ice winter severity index is strongly modulated by solar activity at the decadal periodicity. We also found that the 180 year periodicity of the Barycentre motion modulates the amplitudes of the decadal periodicity of solar activity and the Ice winter severity index. This method represents a useful tool for study the solar-terrestrial relationships.


Obama the legislator again

Between conservatives focusing all their attention on the successes/failures of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., and the left having a meltdown over the supposed “racism” and unprecedented disrespect of Clint Eastwood’s “Empty Chair” routine, little attention has been given to an executive order issued last Thursday by President Barack Obama that targets industrial “efficiency” and carbon emissions.

“Today, we are taking another step to strengthen American manufacturing by boosting energy efficiency for businesses across the nation,” said President Obama.

“This action will cut costs, increase efficiency, and help our businesses create strong, middle class jobs. We’ll continue to do everything we can to put more people back to work and build an economy that lasts,” he added.

The order, which aims to increase the number of cogeneration plants in the U.S. by 50 percent by 2020 and slash carbon emissions by 150 million tons per year, is the administration’s latest effort to “deploy cleaner and more efficient energy production in the country by working around political resistance to climate change and ‘green’ energy legislation on Capitol Hill,” Reuters reports.

“The Federal Government has limited but important authorities to overcome … barriers, and our efforts to support investment in industrial energy efficiency and CHP [Combined heat and power] should involve coordinated engagement with a broad set of stakeholders,” the order says.

Translation: If duly elected representatives of the people get in the way of “climate change” (formerly known as “global warming,“ formerly known as ”global cooling”) legislation, work around them.
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“The man is legislating by presidential fiat!” conservative author and radio show host Mark Levin said Friday. “This is unconstitutional.”

The order dictates that the Departments of Energy, Commerce, and Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency coordinate their actions to provide “policy and technical assistance” to states in order to ensure energy efficiency targets are being met.

What could possibly go wrong?

The order also “establishes a new national goal of 40 gigawatts of new combined heat and power capacity by 2020, a 50% increase from today,” according to a statement from the White House.

“Meeting this goal would save energy users $10 billion per year, result in $40 to $80 billion in new capital investment in manufacturing and other facilities that would create American jobs, and would reduce emissions equivalent to 25 million cars,” the statement adds.

Sure, it sounds nice and (like most things in this administration) it promises a great return on investment, but are there any possible downsides to this executive order?

“This is a fiat from on high for these utilities to change the way they process energy — an enormous capital expense and many of them are going to close down,” Levin argued. “And they only have eight years to do it as part of this ‘cap-and-trade,‘ ’green’ energy, ‘climate change’ bull crap.”

“You’re going to see your bills go up, up, and up some more. And you’re going to see brownouts and one day blackouts,” he added.

But more than the possible economic burden the order may cause, Levin takes umbrage with the fact that the president keeps issuing these types of orders.

“The fact of the matter is he doesn’t have the power to mandate this. We don’t have a king who decides, ‘you know what? You utilities, this is how you’re going to process energy.’ Imperial president! … [T]he very nature of our government, our very constitution is under attack,” Levin said Friday.


Do as I Say, Not as I …

Even as the Energy Department preaches energy conservation and efficiency, it is failing to take advantage of readily available, low-cost opportunities to reduce its energy consumption, the department’s inspector general said in a report released on Tuesday.
Some electricity meters went unmonitored at the Y-12 national security complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn.Department of EnergySome electricity meters went unmonitored at the Y-12 national security complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

At the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, for example, a 2009 audit found that the site could save $53,000 a year by taking a single low-tech step that would cost $7,000: installing variable speed drives on air-moving equipment. That would have allowed air to be delivered or removed at the appropriate volumes rather than having systems start up and shut down over and over, which consumes far more energy. Installing fans to move air around in buildings and even out the temperature would save $15,000 a year and cost just $1,400.

Oak Ridge and a nearby site, Y-12, have also failed to determine whether heating and lighting systems for buildings are operating as intended, the audit said. Some meters were not functioning at Y-12 , but managers did not notice, the report added.

At the moment, managers at Y-12 are trying to fix security problems that allowed three pacifists led by an 82-year-old nun to creep up to what was supposed to be a heavily defended building where nuclear bomb fuel is stored.. The building’s electric meters are apparently well protected, however; workers recorded the same reading for one of them for nearly five years because it was behind a locked door and inaccessible, the auditors found. Another meter was removed during a construction project and was not reinstalled, but plant personnel recorded the same estimated reading for it month after month for almost five years.

In addition to energy-related activities, the department is involved in nuclear weapons maintenance and cleanups of waste from nuclear weapons manufacturing. The department has 47 major sites, and the annual energy cost of its buildings is around $277 million, according to the inspector general. The department does produce a stream of scholarly reports on how to save energy, however.

In some places, the department has achieved substantial savings. But as with most of the rest of America, energy conservation sometimes seems like goal No. 11 on the Top 10 list of things to get done, judging from the report. The department’s excuses sounded a lot like everybody else’s. One was that because its energy users were not billed directly for usage, “there is little financial incentive to conserve energy.’’ This is a familiar problem in the private sector, where tenants who do not pay a separate electric bill often do not try to reduce their consumption.

Energy Department managers told the auditors it was often difficult to balance their chief mission goals with energy conservation measures, the report said. The rationale calls to mind the homeowners and commercial office managers who say their daily lives are too busy for them to make energy fixes.

Like an overweight person admitting that he or she might benefit from a diet, the Energy Department mostly agreed with the auditors’ findings.


Florida sea turtle numbers UP, but that's bad too

You would think that a rise in numbers accompanying a rise in temperature would be reassuring but there's no such thing as a happy Greenie

Canaveral National Seashore and neighboring beaches in central Florida are reporting record numbers of loggerhead sea turtle nests, a promising change from a decade-long drop.

But now a new threat is looming: rising temperatures. Summers are gradually getting warmer at Canaveral. And with climate change scenarios projecting the trend to continue, there's increasing concern it might get so hot that the eggs literally fry.

This could mean trouble especially for the male of the species, which is already at a disadvantage in Florida. Sea turtle biologists have long used the adage "hot mamas, cool dads" as a reminder that loggerhead sea turtles become male or female based on the temperature when their eggs incubate — higher temperatures make them females.

With the prospect of even hotter weather as a backdrop, the interplay between temperatures and sea turtle eggs is the basis for a study by University of Central Florida graduate student Monette Auman, who is tracking nest temperatures and hatching success of some loggerhead sea turtle nests at Canaveral National Seashore.

"It's an interesting subject to discuss because there are questions like, what does an overabundance of females mean to the population?" Auman said. "And what happens if rising temperatures put sea turtles in a more precarious situation?"

From 2001 to 2011, average temperatures at Canaveral were 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit higher than they were from 1961 to 1990, according to a new study released by two environmental groups, the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and the National Resources Defense Council.

Climate change scenarios suggest that average temperatures could continue to increase an additional 1.8 to 4 degrees by 2060, the report said.

Loggerhead sea turtles are protected under federal law as a threatened species, and Florida beaches are home to 90% of the nation's loggerhead nests, making the state's shoreline crucial to the species' survival. The marine turtle nests are closely tracked, and regulations protect them from human interference.


Romney finds a good middle ground

Mitt Romney:

I am not a scientist myself, but my best assessment of the data is that the world is getting warmer, that human activity contributes to that warming, and that policymakers should therefore consider the risk of negative consequences. However, there remains a lack of scientific consensus on the issue — on the extent of the warming, the extent of the human contribution, and the severity of the risk — and I believe we must support continued debate and investigation within the scientific community.

Ultimately, the science is an input to the public policy decision; it does not dictate a particular policy response. President Obama has taken the view that if global warming is occurring, the American response must be to slash carbon dioxide emissions by imposing enormous costs on the U.S. economy. First he tried a massive cap-and-trade bill that would have devastated U.S. industry. When that approach was rejected by Congress, he declared his intention to pursue the same course on his own and proceeded through his EPA to impose rules that will bankrupt the coal industry.

Nowhere along the way has the President indicated what actual results his approach would achieve — and with good reason. The reality is that the problem is called Global Warming, not America Warming. China long ago passed America as the leading emitter of greenhouse gases. Developed world emissions have leveled off while developing world emissions continue to grow rapidly, and developing nations have no interest in accepting economic constraints to change that dynamic. In this context, the primary effect of unilateral action by the U.S. to impose costs on its own emissions will be to shift industrial activity overseas to nations whose industrial processes are more emissions-intensive and less environmentally friendly. That result may make environmentalists feel better, but it will not better the environment.

So I oppose steps like a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system that would handicap the American economy and drive manufacturing jobs away, all without actually addressing the underlying problem. Economic growth and technological innovation, not economy-suppressing regulation, is the key to environmental protection in the long run. So I believe we should pursue what I call a “No Regrets” policy — steps that will lead to lower emissions, but that will benefit America regardless of whether the risks of global warming materialize and regardless of whether other nations take effective action.

For instance, I support robust government funding for research on efficient, low-emissions technologies that will maintain American leadership in emerging industries. And I believe the federal government must significantly streamline the regulatory framework for the deployment of new energy technologies, including a new wave of investment in nuclear power. These steps will strengthen American industry, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and produce the economically-attractive technologies that developing nations must have access to if they are to achieve the reductions in their own emissions that will be necessary to address what is a global issue.


Australia: A win for brown coal (lignite) power stations

Heh! The Feds have realized that they cannot afford to close Australia's cheapest electricity generators. It must put noses out of joint that super-correct Germany is actually building more of them -- even though lignite puts out about 8% more CO2 than black coal. One of the Victorian generators has the world's highest emissions of CO2! Very good for plantlife

THE federal government has abandoned plans to pay some of Australia's dirtiest coal-fired power generators to shut down under its co-called contract for closure program.

Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said the government could not be satisfied that entering into such arrangements would achieve value for money against the program's objectives.

"The contract for closure negotiations have taken place constructively and in good faith but there remains a material gap between the level of compensation generators have sought and what the government is prepared to pay," Mr Ferguson said in a statement on Wednesday.

The program had sought to support the closure of around 2000 megawatts of highly emissions-intensive generation capacity by 2020. But a June 30 deadline for locking in a deal has already been and gone.

Mr Ferguson said forecasts for lower energy demand in Australia "presented serious questions around the value-for-money evaluation of proposals".

He insisted last week's decision to scrap a proposed $15-per-tonne floor price for Labor's emissions trading scheme - which starts in mid-2015 - and instead link the ETS with Europe's scheme was not a factor.

The government had been negotiating possible closures with Hazelwood, Yallourn and Energy Brix power stations in Victoria as well as Playford in South Australia and Collinsville in Queensland.

The federal energy minister said the $200 million regional structural adjustment assistance program would still be available to support communities significantly affected by the government's carbon price regime.

A $23-a-tonne carbon tax was introduced on July 1 this year.

Environment groups on Wednesday said if the dirtiest coal-fired power stations didn't accept payments to close down generation they shouldn't receive any other carbon tax compensation.

"If these facilities now claim they have a profitable future and their asset values remain high, then there is no public policy justification for the compensation payments that are coming at great cost to Australian taxpayers," Environment Victoria campaign director Mark Wakeham said in a statement.

Four stations in Victoria's Latrobe Valley received the lion's share of $1 billion delivered mid-year to help coal-fired generators cope with the carbon tax.

Hazelwood received $266 million, Yallourn pocketed $257 million, Loy Yang Power got $240 million and Loy Yang B received $117 million.

The cash was the first tranche of assistance from the federal government's $5.5 billion energy security fund.

It will be followed by annual allocations of 42 million free carbon permits from 2013/14 to 2016/17 to assist highly emissions-intensive power stations.




The graphics problem: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here and here


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