Sunday, August 25, 2013

Huge and unexpected carbon sink found in the Atlantic

Another big hole in the models -- it should reduce CO2 buildup.  Any guesses about whether this new info will be incorporated into the Warmist predictions?

Previously, oceanographers thought the Atlantic Ocean seafloor didn’t spit out as much iron as other regions. However, a recently discovered plume of iron billowing from the depth of the Atlantic Ocean suggests the seafloor may be pumping iron like a young Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The oceanic iron cloud spreads for more than 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) across the Atlantic from west of Angola, Africa, to northeast of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The iron-rich waters flow 1,500 to 3,500 meters (4,921 – 11,482 feet) beneath the surface of the ocean. The complete extent and shape of the iron plume remains to be discovered.

“We had never seen anything like it,” said Mak Saito, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute scientist and lead author of the study, in a press release. “We were sort of shocked—there’s this huge bull’s-eye right in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. We didn’t quite know what to do with it, because it went contrary to a lot of our expectations.”

“This study and other studies like it are going to force the scientific community to reevaluate how much iron is really being contributed by hydrothermal vents and to increase those estimates, and that has implications for not only iron geochemistry but a number of other disciplines as well,” said Saito. [I wonder which?]

The Atlantic Ocean iron plume may provide a smorgasbord for oceanic phytoplankton, the tiny, plant-like organisms that form the base of many marine food webs.

Those phytoplankton provide food for fish and whales. The plankton also suck in large amounts of carbon dioxide. When the plankton die they can carry that carbon with them to bottom of the ocean.


Deficiencies of Modeled Temperature Extremes

Discussing:  Morak, S., Hegerl, G.C. and Christidis, N. 2013. Detectable changes in the frequency of temperature extremes. Journal of Climate 26: 1561-1574.


The authors report that studies of observational temperature records over the last 50-100 years have found evidence for increases in both mean and extreme (maximum and minimum) near-surface air temperatures; but they note that the increase in maximum temperature has been of smaller magnitude than the increase in minimum temperature, which state of affairs has led to a decrease in the diurnal temperature range.

What was done

In further exploring this intriguing subject, Morak et al. compared "observed and climate model-simulated trends in mean values of temperature extreme indices, splitting the year into the dynamically active boreal cold (ONDJFM) and warm (AMJJAS) seasons." This they did using "modeled daily minimum and maximum surface temperature data derived from simulations with the Hadley Centre Global Environmental Model, version 1 (HadGEM1)."

What was learned

Among a number of other things, several unfortunate findings came to the fore, namely, the three UK researchers report that the model: (1) "significantly underestimates changes in some regions, particularly in winter across large parts of Asia," (2) "has a tendency to overestimate changes in the frequency of hot days in both the [a] winter and [b] summer seasons over [c] most regions, and in the [d] global and [e] hemispheric mean," (3) "also overestimates changes in the frequency of warm winter days on larger scales," while with respect to changes in cold extremes the model (4) "does underestimate them in some regions," while (5) "there are some regions with trends of the opposite sign." In addition, they say that (6) "the particular regional trend pattern, often also referred to as the 'warming hole,' is not evident in the simulated trend pattern," citing Pan et al. (2004), Kunkel et al. (2006), Portmann et al. (2009) and Meehl et al. (2012). And they indicate that (8) "the model shows a tendency to significantly overestimate changes in warm daytime extremes, particularly in summer."

What it means

Although the HadGEM1 does some things well, there are a number of other things that it has yet to satisfactorily accomplish.


Dry Heathland Response to Elevated CO2, Warming and Drought

Discussing:  Albert, K.R., Boesgaard, K., Ro-Poulsen, H., Mikkelsen, T.N., Andersen, S. and Pilegaard, K. 2013. Antagonism between elevated CO2, nighttime warming, and summer drought reduces the robustness of PSII performance to freezing events. Environmental and Experimental Botany: 10.1016/j.envexpbot.2013.03.008.


The authors write that "plant responses to predicted global warming, elevated CO2 and precipitation changes involve complex interactions of the factors," and, therefore, they say that "continued focus on the combined impact of factors is needed to understand the directional responses of ecosystem processes," citing, in this regard, the work of Beier et al. (2004), Rustad (2006), Heimann and Reichstein (2008) and Dieleman et al. (2012).

What was done

Working in a dry heathland ecosystem on sandy soil in North Zealand (Denmark), which was dominated by the evergreen dwarf shrub Common heather (Calluna vulgaris L.) and Wavy hairgrass (Deschampsia flexuoso L.), Albert et al. studied the effects of potential changes in three environmental factors and their combined impacts on photosystem II (PSII) performance during an autumn-to-winter period. These three factors were "elevated CO2 (free-air carbon enrichment; CO2), warming (passive nighttime warming; T) and summer drought (rain-excluding curtains; D)."

What was learned

The six Danish scientists report that "neither passive nighttime warming nor elevated CO2 as single factors reduced PSII performance via incomplete cold hardening," in contradiction of what might have been expected based on the results of several prior studies. In fact, they say that "the passive nighttime warming strongly increased PSII performance, especially after freezing events; and when combined with elevated CO2, a strongly skewed positive TxCO2 interactive effect was seen," indicating, as they put it, that "these plants take advantage of the longer growing season induced by the warming in elevated CO2 until a winter frost period becomes permanent." However, they also found that if previously exposed to summer drought (D), the positive effect of TxCO2 is immediately reduced after freezing events, "causing the full combination of DxTxCO2 not to differ from control."

What it means

In a CO2-enriched and warmer world of the future, the dry heathland ecosystem studied by Albert et al. should do much better than it does currently. And if significant summer droughts occur, it should do no worse than it does at the present time.


Penalized: EPA Wrings Public Service Out of a Private Company

A protection racket.  Al Capone would understand

The actual fine is far less than the cost of community service that a Rhode Island company must perform to settle its case with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Northland Environmental and its owner, PSC Environmental Services, have agreed to remove chemicals from 60 high schools and middle schools within a 50-mile radius of Northland's Providence facility -- even though the alleged violation has nothing at all to do with those schools.

Nevertheless, R.I. officials said they are happy to have the free help in disposing of "old and unnecessary" chemicals in school science labs.

The EPA on Friday announced that Northland, a commercial waste handler, has agreed to pay a $58,278 fine -- and spend $252,152 on the school cleanup -- to settle EPA claims that the company violated state and federal hazardous waste laws at its facility in Providence.

The EPA alleged that Northland/PSC Environmental Services violated the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and state hazardous waste laws by "failing to properly identify certain hazardous wastes and failing to properly maintain hazardous waste tanks and containers."

According to the EPA announcement, "These alleged violations could have resulted in the release of hazardous wastes to the environment" (emphasis added). The EPA also said the company also stored incompatible hazardous wastes next to one another, creating a potential for fire or explosions (emphasis added).

"The company quickly came into compliance after the violations were identified," the news release stated.

Despite its quick compliance, and in addition to the fine, the EPA used its authority to compel the company to do something on behalf of the community at large, even though the community suffered no ill effects.

“All facilities that generate or manage hazardous wastes have an obligation to make sure they carefully adhere to the environmental requirements that result in safer, cleaner communities,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “This case will have a positive outcome, since the projects under this settlement will help provide safer classrooms at many schools in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.”

The school clean-outs involve removing outdated and unwanted chemicals from schools at no cost to the participating schools. As the EPA noted, "Chemical management is often a low priority for schools and it is not uncommon for school science departments to have outdated and unneeded stock chemicals present."

School and state officials are glad for the assistance that they say they cannot afford:

“We are pleased to see funds from EPA actions like this reinvested in making Rhode Island a cleaner and safer place,” said Terrence Gray of the RI Department of Environmental Management (DEM). “For many years, DEM has directly supported school districts across Rhode Island by removing old and unnecessary chemicals, but that effort has always been limited by the resources we have available. This recent investment extends this important initiative so that more of these dangerous materials can be taken out of our schools, providing a much safer environment for students and educators.”

Rhode Island schools within a 50-mile radius of the Northland facility received emails letting them know of the opportunity to have toxic, hazardous, or chemicals prohibited by the state removed, courtesy of the EPA's settlement with Northland.

The EPA said interested schools provided a list of the chemicals that need to be removed. Cranston, R.I. is using the opportunity to provide both Cranston East and Cranston West High Schools with chemical clean-outs before school starts on Aug. 27.

"Safety is our first concern so we were delighted to have a partnership with the EPA Integrated Chemical Management Program  who worked with our science teachers to inventory, organize chemicals, with regards to safety and to the benefit of classroom use," said Dr. Judith Lundsten, Superintendant Cranston Public Schools. "Working with this program provided our teachers with invaluable insights with regards to managing chemical supplies. The ultimate goal is to maximize safety and learning of science inquiry in Cranston Public Schools."

In addition to paying the fine and completing the environmental project, Northland/PSC has agreed to make sure the Providence facility remains in compliance with federal and state hazardous waste management regulations, the EPA said.

Northland/PSC’s Providence facility accepts and handles a broad spectrum of wastes including acids, alkalis, flammable wastes, water reactive wastes, cyanides, sulfides, oxidizers, toxic wastes, oily wastes, photochemical wastes and laboratory packs. Hazardous and non-hazardous wastes are received, stored and or consolidated and then shipped off site for treatment or disposal.


Obama is Denying Energy Independence to America


Watching the events unfold in the Middle East, it occurred to me that, if we had a president who had even the slightest grasp of energy facts, we could be living in a nation that is not dependent in part on Middle East oil.

Instead, we have a president who will not allow the Keystone XL pipeline to be extended from Canada at no cost to American taxpayers while providing thousands of jobs, short and long-term and whose administration denies access to the nation's vast energy reserves.

Why? Some observers say President Obama is trying to maintain his bona fides among environmentalists and it's important to keep in mind that virtually every major environmental organization opposes any and all forms of energy development. I suspect the President simply sees the pipeline as symbolic of his overall attack on America's ability to have sufficient energy to meet its needs and provide for growth. It is an attack on our economy.

Billions of gallons of crude oil is used daily in America and the nation has an extensive network of pipelines to transport it; approximately 55,000 miles. In addition there is also an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 miles of small gathering lines, located primarily in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Wyoming with small systems in a number of other oil producing states. Right now, hundreds of miles of Keystone XL pipe sit idle on 83 acres of leased land outside Gascoyne, North Dakota.

Testifying in April before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, Dan Simmons of the Institute for Energy Research, said that both America and our neighbor Mexico are energy rich countries with total recoverable oil reserves that exceed 1.7 trillion barrels. At our current rate of use, that is enough for the next 242 years.

In terms of natural gas, North America has approximately 4.2 quadrillion cubic feet, enough for 176 years at the current rate of use. U.S. recoverable coal reserves are estimated at more than 497 billion short tons; enough for nearly 500 years at our current rate of use.

As events in Egypt are reported, commentators note the importance of the Suez Canal through which much of the oil the West uses must pass, but given the U.S. oil reserves our nation could function independent of that imported oil.

Ironically, we will have to build more pipelines to transport it internally and we need to build more liquid gas facilities to export our huge reserves of natural gas. This is not likely to occur over the remaining years of the Obama administration, nor will the shutdowns of coal-fired plants in a nation that is the Saudi Arabia of coal cease. Coal in federally controlled land is estimated to be worth $22.5 trillion to the U.S. economy, but it remains barred from mining.

Not only could the U.S. be energy independent, but could be a major exporter to other nations because oil, natural gas, and coal will comprise almost eighty percent of the global energy supply in 2040. Energy demand is expected to grow by 56 percent between now and 2040, mostly due to the economic growth of nations such as China and India.

The nation remains mired in an economy that is barely growing at two percent annually and part of that is due to the energy policies of the Obama administration. As this is being written, the Obama Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Department, and other agencies have quietly raised their estimated "social cost" of carbon emissions from $21 per ton to $35 per ton. The increase was not debated in Congress, nor available for public review. Instead, its announcement was buried in an unrelated Energy Department regulation on microwave ovens!

Having been defeated in its efforts to impose a tax on carbon emissions, the Obama administration is engaging in the outright fraud of claiming that carbon emissions are causing global warming/climate change. As part of its war on energy provision the Obama administrated wasted billions on wind power, solar power, and electric car company failures throughout its first term. Without mandates and subsidies, none of these enterprises could remain in business or be competitive.

The U.S. economy should be booming given the huge reserves of natural gas and oil that exist nationwide, but instead it remains hostage to nations such as Saudi Arabia. At the same time a major oil exporter, Iraq, has seen its exports reduced due to the turmoil that has escalated since the U.S. military was withdrawn. Sanctions on Iran affect its oil exports. Expect the cost of oil to remain high for years to come.

The U.S. is suffering from the attacks on its energy sector by the major environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth at the same time the Obama administration continues its regulatory attacks to reduce the coal mining industry and restrict access to oil reserves. In states and on privately owned lands, there is a boom in natural gas extraction.

Every American who fills up his auto's gas tank, air conditions or heats their home or apartment, and whose livelihood is directly affected by the cost and availability of energy is being held hostage by the Obama administration, forced to pay higher costs and forced to suffer the loss of opportunity in a nation whose access to its own vast energy reserves is being denied.


The new Luddites are standing in the way of Britain's shale gas revolution. They must be stopped

Why do some countries, at certain times in history, advance technologically, while others stagnate? Are they just lucky? Or smarter?

No. It's all about freedom - the ability to apply and benefit from the new way of doing things.It is not that people in stagnant societies don't have clever ideas. They're just not free to exploit them.

Ming China is perhaps the most tragic historical example of this. Despite coming up with printing, gunpowder, the compass, and a host of other innovations, it wasn't China that managed to really apply those new ideas. China might have had plenty of coal, yet no 19th-century industrial revolution took place there like it did in the West.

Why? In China, officialdom and obstructivism kept getting in the way. Edicts and decrees were drawn up micro managing things. A parasitical state meant that those who produced more ended up merely supplying more to sustain the state. China, once the world's great innovator, fell behind.

Europe, on the other hand, forged ahead. Why? Because, in politically fragmented Europe, officialdom could not keep getting in the way. Quack ideas that would have otherwise held back the advance of reason could not hold things up.

To be sure, in some European states, princes and parasites did stop innovation. But the ideas and innovators simply moved next door. Europe in aggregate advanced.

Tragically, it is no longer like that. Europe and the UK are proving to be hostile to innovation.

Imagine if at the dawn of the industrial revolution, water wheels had been banned? Or if the Luddities had got their way, and outlawed new spinning machines? What if coal mining had been outlawed because the new-fangled pit technology was not trusted? ("It contaminates ground water" perhaps some shrieked. "Causes earthquakes!" yelled others. Thankfully history does not record such voices, and they were not allowed to prevail).

We are in danger of doing something similar with shale gas today.
Just like with coal at the beginning of the industrial revolution, beneath our feet lie zillions of cubic feet of gas. A way of extracting it has been discovered which could unleash enormous productive potential.

So what do we do? Enterprises that seek to lawfully utilise the new technology are prevented from doing so by the new Luddites. The state stands by, regulating every aspect of the new technology, but doing little to guarantee the freedoms of the innovators.

Tim Yeo yesterday suggested that we are better at regulating shale gas here in Britain than they are in America. Indeed. Which is why right now we have no shale industry to speak of. In the US, meanwhile, where they are so "cavalier"  about these things, shale gas revolution has cut energy costs dramatically, triggering a wider industrial revival.

It would be tragic if we let the looters and the moochers get in the way of shale gas technology.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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 or here


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