Sunday, February 14, 2016
Ozone layer holier than ever!
So the Arctic has developed an ozone hole too. And it's a big one. It was the Antarctic hole that triggered the Greenie campaign against refrigerant gases but the logic behind the ban meant that the Arctic should have been protected too. It wasn't. So now that the ban has been in force for many years, we have got a holier ozone layer than ever. The science behind the ozone nonsense has long ago been shown to be mistaken and reality too has now caught up. Greenies hailed the antiozone Montreal protocol as their biggest achievement. But it was as poorly founded as all the rest of the Greenie scares
A huge hole in the ozone layer over the Arctic is set to grow even larger this spring as a blast of cold weather combines with returning sunshine and lingering air pollutants.
The hole over the Canadian Arctic is already thought to be around 770,000 square miles (two million square kilometres) or around the size of Greenland.
But environmental scientists are predicting the gap in the Earth's protective atmospheric layer could grow even larger this spring when the sunshine returns to the region after the long, dark winter.
According to Science magazine, a record low temperature in the Earth's upper atmosphere could release chemicals which destroy the layer.
Ozone is a gas composed of three oxygen molecules which can be hazardous to our health on the ground, but in the upper atmosphere it protects us by soaking up ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
Without it, the planet's surface would be exposed to dangerous levels of UV-B rays which can shred DNA, leading to mutations that cause cancers.
Towards the end of the 20th Century, the ozone was found to have been depleted by the now banned chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which react with the ozone as they break down.
The extent of the hole above Canada was revealed in 2011. In extended cold periods, like the Arctic winter, the hole can become enlarged.
Dr Markus Rex, an atmospheric chemist at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Germany explained that by next week as much as a quarter of the Arctic's ozone will be destroyed.
Ozone is constantly replenished in the atmosphere but if the rate of destruction outstrips this then the hole can enlarge.
Scientists warn that if this year's polar vortex – the wintry weather pattern which traps circulating cold air in the upper atmosphere – continues longer than usual into the spring, the returning sunlight could set off a chemical chain reaction widening the hole even further.
Dr Markus Rex, an atmospheric chemist at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Potsdam, Germany explained that by next week as much as a quarter of the Arctic's ozone could be destroyed.
'Should the vortex persist until well into March, the formation of a deep ozone minimum over the Arctic has to be expected,' said Dr Rex.
He added: 'However, if the vortex breaks up before then, the air masses will sufficiently mix with fresh air from lower latitudes and the Arctic will narrowly avoid a new record of ozone depletion.'
The team at the AWI say that the while they are unable to accurately predict the fate of the vortex, and if it will break up before spring returns, the researchers say that there is a chance that a hole in the layer – or 'ozone minimum' – could even drift over central Europe.
The scientists are continuing to monitor the atmosphere closely and releasing weather balloons from a number of stations dotted throughout the Arctic.
And sea levels are disappointing Greenies too
A slowing sea level rise -- a far cry from Al Gore's prophecies of a catastrophic rise
Idyllic islands and bustling cities such as Venice and Miami may be spared from rising sea levels in the near future because parched land is absorbing some of the water released by melting glaciers.
The planet's continents have soaked up and stored 3.2 trillion tons of water in soils, lakes and underground aquifers, according to Nasa.
The agency analysed satellite measurements collected over the past decade to show the rate of sea level rise has slowed by 22 per cent – although the effect may be temporary.
'We always assumed that people's increased reliance on groundwater for irrigation and consumption was resulting in a net transfer of water from the land to the ocean,' said lead author JT Reager of Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
'What we didn't realise until now is that over the past decade, changes in the global water cycle more than offset the losses that occurred from groundwater pumping, causing the land to act like a sponge - at least temporarily.'
The global water cycle involves the evaporation of water droplets over the oceans to rainfall, which runs off into rivers that lead back into the ocean.
The effect land storage of water has had on sea level rise has remained unknown until now because there are no land-based instruments that can measure such changes planet-wide.
The latest data came from a pair of Nasa satellites launched in 2002, known as the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace).
Between 2002 and 2014, it measured changes in gravity and therefore underlying changes in water storage.
The team of researchers, from Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the University of California, Irvine, University of Bonn, Germany, and National Taiwan University, combined the satellite data with estimates of mass loss of glaciers to calculate the impact land water storage might have had on sea level change.
Their analysis suggests that during this timeframe, climate variability resulted in an increase of approximately 3.2 trillion tons of water being stored in land.
The team learned that the 'water gains over land were spread globally, but taken together they equal the volume of Lake Huron, the world's seventh largest lake.
This gain partially offset water losses from ice sheets, glaciers, and groundwater pumping, slowing the rate of sea level rise by between 0.7 and 0.2 millimetres each year.'
They believe the findings, published in the journal Science, will help scientists better calculate sea level changes in the years ahead.
'These results will lead to a refinement of global sea level budgets, such as those presented in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, which acknowledge the importance of climate-driven changes in hydrology, but have been unable to include any reliable estimate of their contribution to sea level changes,' said senior author Jay Famiglietti, a professor at the University of California, Irvine.
'But we'll need a much longer data record to fully understand the underlying cause of the patterns and whether they will persist.'
The silent sun: A mini ice age coming?
The sun is in the midst of its quietest period in more than a century. Several days ago, it was in 'cue ball' mode, with an incredible image from Nasa showing no large visible sunspots seen on its surface.
Astronomers say this isn't unusual, and solar activity waxes and wanes in 11-year cycles, and we're currently in Cycle 24, which began in 2008. However, if the current trend continues, then the Earth could be headed for a 'mini ice age' researchers have warned.
Astronomers have been counting sunspots for centuries, and they have seen that the solar cycle is not perfectly regular.
We've had the smallest number of sunspots in this cycle since Cycle 14, which reached its maximum in February of 1906.
'With no sunspots actively flaring, the sun's X-ray output has flatlined,' wrote Vencore Weather.
'The number of nearly or completely spotless days should increase over the next few years as we continue to move away from the solar maximum phase of cycle 24 and approach the next solar minimum phase and the beginning of solar cycle 25.'
'The current level of activity of solar cycle 24 seems close to that of solar cycle number 5, which occurred beginning in May 1798 and ending in December 1810,' added an analysis by Watts Up With That.
The previous solar cycle, Solar Cycle 23, peaked in 2000-2002 with many furious solar storms.
During Solar Max, huge sunspots and intense solar flares are a daily occurrence. Auroras appear in Florida. Radiation storms knock out satellites.
The last such episode took place in the years around 2000-2001.
During Solar Minimum, the opposite occurs. Solar flares are almost non-existent while whole weeks go by without a single, tiny sunspot to break the monotony of the blank sun. This is what we are experiencing now.
The Maunder Minimum (also known as the prolonged sunspot minimum) is the name used for the period starting in about 1645 and continuing to about 1715 when sunspots became exceedingly rare, as noted by solar observers of the time. It caused London's River Thames to freeze over, and 'frost fairs' became popular.
This period of solar inactivity also corresponds to a climatic period called the 'Little Ice Age' when rivers that are normally ice-free froze and snow fields remained year-round at lower altitudes.
There is evidence that the Sun has had similar periods of inactivity in the more distant past, Nasa says.
The connection between solar activity and terrestrial climate is an area of on-going research.
The longest minimum on record, the Maunder Minimum of 1645-1715, lasted an incredible 70 years.
During this period, sunspots were rarely observed and the solar cycle seemed to have broken down completely.
The period of quiet coincided with the Little Ice Age, a series of extraordinarily bitter winters in Earth's northern hemisphere.
Many researchers are convinced that low solar activity, acting in concert with increased volcanism and possible changes in ocean current patterns, played a role in that 17th century cooling.
Military preparing to fight ‘climate change’ instead of wars?
When our national focus was still sane, the United States Department of Defense had a singular goal: defending the U.S, while maintaining the capability to wage war on two fronts. What did that look like? If the United States were drawn into a two front war like World War II, we would be able to triumph.
So what happens when you take on so many priorities that the objective actually becomes more elusive? We should ask the Pentagon after they implement Directive E 4715.21, or the directive relating to “Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience.”
The directive comes as a direct result of Executive Order 13653, Obama’s effort to institutionalize his stance on climate change within the government. The thinking goes, “If the effects of climate change are imminent, shouldn’t we make the appropriate preparations?” What could go wrong?
For starters, what happens when the military procuring weapons based not solely on cost, reliability and effectiveness? Does the introduction of “climate sustainability” disrupt this already cumbersome balancing act? Producing cost effective, functioning technology is already a challenge that the defense establishment grapples with, doesn’t this create more problems than it solves?
This is corroborated by the Daily Caller’s report, which excerpts the report by saying “The way in which DoD acquires its weapons platforms and supplies will also see significant changes. According to the document, the assistant secretary of defense for acquisition will overhaul “policies to integrate climate change considerations into mission area analyses and acquisition strategies across the life cycle of weapons systems, platforms, and equipment.”
That’s pretty bad, but it gets worse. It also creates “climate boards” that will integrate the new standards into all layers of the services.
Worse still, the military’s tactical aims are being complicated, according to Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning, “Sergeants leading a platoon should not be worried about the environmental sensitivity of a rice paddy that needs to be traversed to achieve their mission, while providing the maximum security for the personnel under their command. Tank commanders should be afforded all the training they need no matter how much fuel is expended in the process. And Naval Captains should run their ships at the speeds that are necessitated by the immediate needs of the situation. Instead, President Obama would install bureaucratic boards and other second guessers along with real time tactical climate change assessments that would be held over officers’ heads should they choose what was deemed to be a climate change insensitive course of action.”
A three year moratorium on the Obama climate order should be instituted by Congress to assure that the full impacts can be realized before doing great damage to the technical capabilities of our armed forces, as well as damaging our capability to project force. If we want to return to the original mission of our military, which is readiness, Congress itself must be ready to flex its Article I muscles. Our safety may very well depend on it.
Cosmic Cycles, not Carbon Dioxide, Control Climate
By Viv Forbes, a qualified geologist who has spent much of his life studying geological and climate history as written in the rocks
Those who think the political war on carbon will lower Earth’s temperature or keep climate stable need to study climate history.
Temperatures on Earth dance to a cyclic rhythm every hour, every day, every month, every season, every year, and to every beat of the sun-spot and glacial cycles.
The daily solar cycle causes continual changes in temperature for every spot on Earth. It produces the frosts at dawn, the mid-day heat and the cooling at sunset. It is regulated by rotation of the Earth.
Superimposed on the daily solar cycle is the monthly lunar cycle, driven by the orbit of the Moon around the Earth. These two cycles interact to produce variations in atmospheric pressure and tides, and currents in the oceans and the atmosphere. These are the daily weather makers.
The yearly seasonal cycle is caused as the tilted axis of Earth’s rotation affects the intensity of solar energy received by each hemisphere. This produces spring, summer, autumn and winter for every spot on Earth.
Then there is the 22 year sun-spot cycle, which correlates with cycles of floods and droughts. Sunspot cycles are indicators of solar activity which causes periods of global warming and cooling.
Variations on the sun also affect the intensity of cosmic rays reaching Earth’s surface – cosmic rays create nuclei for low level cloud formation, and the shading from such clouds reduces surface temperatures.
Earth’s climate is also disrupted periodically by the effects of changing winds, ocean hot spots and submarine volcanism that produce the El Nino Southern Oscillation.
The least recognised but most dangerous climate cycle is the glacial cycle. We are fortunate to live in the Holocene Epoch, the latest warm phase of the Pleistocene Ice Age. The climate history of the Holocene, and its predecessor the Eemian, are well documented in ice core logs and other records in the rocks. Each cycle consists of a glacial age of about 80,000 years followed by a warmer age of about 20,000 years, with the peak warming occurring over about 12,000 years. Our modern warm era commenced 12,000 years ago and peaked during the Medieval Warming, so it is probably nearing its end.
There have been eight warm eras separated by long glacial winters over the last 800,000 years of the Pleistocene. In every beat of this cycle, the vast ice sheets melt, sea levels rise dramatically, coral reefs and coastal settlements are drowned, and forests and animals re-colonise the higher land released from the ice. Warm climate animals such as hippos, water buffaloes and elephants got as far north as Germany in the last warm era. Then suddenly the ice returned, covering the northern hemisphere as far south as Chicago and London, destroying the forests, lowering the seas, stranding the relocated coral reefs and eliminating unprepared species. (Some dopey grizzly bears got stranded in the Arctic Ice and the most enterprising of them survived to evolve into white grizzlies now called polar bears.)
This regular repetition of natural climate change is partially explained by the Milankovitch cycles relating to changes in Earth’s precession, orbit and tilt. These drive variations in solar energy received by Earth and have the greatest temperature effect on the large land masses of the Northern Hemisphere.
On an even longer time scale, oscillation of the solar system through the plane of the Galaxy seems to trigger magnetic reversals and violent spasms of volcanism, crustal movements, glaciation and species extinction. Earth is never still for long.
These cycles interact to produce a wide range of ever-changing temperatures. Even at the same moment, temperatures vary dramatically from the equator to the poles and from the surface to the stratosphere. For would-be climate “managers” to claim they can calculate a mythical “global temperature” with precision greater than thermometers can measure is statistical nonsense.
It is a wonder of the modern era that people who cannot accurately forecast next weekend’s weather claim they can regulate the temperature of the whole globe by bashing industry and taxing carbon.
What is the role of carbon dioxide in climate? Al Gore did a great job to dramatise the recurring glacial cycles in his widely acclaimed work of science fiction. But he missed two inconvenient truths.
First, ice cores show that in the glacial spring-time the temperature rose BEFORE the CO2 levels rose. Therefore the rising CO2 cannot be a CAUSE of the warming – it is a RESULT of CO2 being expelled from the warming oceans.
Second, at the top of every summer-time in the glacial cycle, the high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere were unable to prevent the cooling into the next cycle of ice.
We are already in the autumn of the current glacial cycle and nothing man can do will change that. Global temperatures today are lower than they were in Roman and Medieval times. They will still fluctuate with the effects of daily, lunar, yearly and sun-spot cycles, but the long-term trend of maximum and minimum temperatures will continue drifting downwards. Once summer temperatures in places like Siberia are unable to melt last winter’s snow, the already growing glaciers will join to form ice sheets and Earth will once again be gripped by another long Glacial Winter.
The transition from Greenhouse Earth to Icehouse Earth always occurs suddenly. Once our verdant greenhouse is gone, life on Earth will never be the same again. Greenhouse Earth will surely come around again, but many of today’s species will probably not survive to welcome the return of the warmth.
The warm days, seasons, years and epochs have never been a deadly threat to life on Earth. Frost, snow, hail and ice are the killers. If our descendants do not have the energy, resources and wisdom to keep their people warm and fed through the coming glacial epoch, humans may follow our Neanderthal cousins who perished in the last glacial winter, just 20,000 years ago.
There is NO evidence in climate history that carbon dioxide has a detectable effect on global temperatures. However if our continued use of cheap reliable hydro-carbon energy does slightly delay the onset of the next glacial winter, we and all life on Earth should count ourselves extremely lucky.
SOURCE (See the original for links)
Tasmania’s Burning Peatlands Caused by global warming?
No. There was no statistically significant terrestrial global warming for over 18 years. And even El Nino pushed the average terrestrial global temperature to a 2015 rise of just over one tenth of a degree Celsius
As the climate warms, the hoary peatlands that blanket Tasmania’s west are drying out, and burning up. The cool moist conditions they rely on are disappearing but the peatlands are exacting a small revenge on the species responsible.
While fires have typically burned across peatlands with little effect, Professor David Bowman said that as they dry, the centuries-old organic soils beneath are starting to smoulder.
In turn, public health experts say the smouldering peatlands are letting off nasty smoke, exacerbating the already serious threats posed by bushfires.
According to Prof. Bowman, there’s little doubt that human-induced climate change is to blame, and the problem will only grow as temperatures rise.
“A lot of people haven’t caught up to how fast climate change is in comparison to the background ecological change,” Prof. Bowman said. “What is happening with a warming climate is ecological change is just speeding up, and there’s going to be collateral.”
“There is damage, and I think these fires are part of that. There have been big fires in the past…but I suspect the trend we’re seeing now, of really big fires, and high frequency big fires, often lit by lightning storms, is signalling something different.”
It’s unclear how bad the damage is at this stage, but if the organic soils under the peatlands combust, they take centuries to regenerate. During that time, peatland ecosystems also becomes more fire-prone, lessening the peat’s chances of regeneration.
Prof. Bowman predicts peat soils will likely be relegated to localised patches along creek lines, and on lower slopes by the end of this century. Outside of these refugia, he expects large tracts of Tasmania’s western wilderness, much of it World Heritage Listed, will be replaced by “scrublands on gravelly ridges”.
“I actually think at a broader scale – if you believe the climate models, and data – it’s pretty simple analysis,” Prof. Bowman said.
“That is, that peatlands require a certain climate; the Tasmanian peatlands are right on the margin; and if you warm the world, the peatlands that exist in Tasmania will … be replaced by a different sort of bush that will be more flammable and has a different sort of hydrology.”
And out of the ashes of Tasmania’s peatlands, a new threat is rising.
“The odd bushfire, you know, every so often, is typical basically anywhere in Australia,” said Dr Fay Johnston, a Menzies Institute researcher at the University of Tasmania. “But here we’ve got vegetation and soil burning that doesn’t normally burn. It’s more than just smoke from a passing vegetation fire, and that can be bad enough.”
“The mixture is more toxic, particularly if you’re close to it, and the sheer load of particles, because it’s incomplete [and]inefficient combustion, is much greater,” Dr Johnston said.
“The smoke mixture has a higher load of toxic ingredients, including suspended particles and products of incomplete combustion – hydrocarbons, volatile organic acids, a whole suite of things – that in their own right are highly irritating.”
“With peat fires, you tend to have a bigger exposure and you tend to have an exposure that goes on for longer,” she said.
On Friday, when authorities issued their latest stakeholder update, there were still over 70 fires – 30 of them uncontrolled – still burning across Tasmania. Smoke has reached as far as Melbourne, and Dr Johnston said that it’s likely around half of Tasmania has been exposed to the damaging haze.
“Everybody in Tasmania, more or less, would’ve got some smoke, but it was the people who live up in the north west who really got affected. It was quite bad for a good week, and it’s fluctuating on and off in some cases since then,” she said.
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Posted by JR at 1:37 AM