Thursday, November 09, 2017

Mysterious geothermal 'mantle plume' under Antarctica is heating its ice sheet, NASA study confirms

It's nice to be able to say "I told you so" and I said years ago that the occasional bits of melting in polar ice were most likely the result of subsurface vulcanism.  Due to the oblate shape of our globe, the earth's surface is closest to the molten core at the poles

Scientists have uncovered new evidence for an ancient heat source beneath the West Antarctic ice sheet.

The underground mantle plume is thought to be driving some of the melting seen beneath the ice, giving rise to lakes and rivers.

It’s thought to have formed 50-110 million years ago, long before the ice sheet itself, and has likely played a role in rapid collapses that took place during past periods of climate change – and, it could help explain the instability seen today.

According to NASA, mantle plumes are narrow streams of hot rock, which spread like a ‘mushroom cap’ beneath Earth’s surface.

As the material is buoyant, it pushes the crust upward.

 The study found that the energy flux from the mantle plume must not exceed 150 milliwatts per square meter – compared, for example, to a heat flux of 490 to 60 milliwatts in regions with no volcanic activity, and an average 200 milliwatts per square meter beneath Yellowstone.

When the researchers simulated a greater heat flow, they found it resulted in too much melting.

The suspected geothermal heat source is situated deep beneath Antarctica’s Marie Byrd Land.

While it’s not a new phenomenon, it could help scientists better estimate the rate of future ice loss in the area, as the meltwater helps to lubricate the glaciers.

A scientist at the University of Colorado Denver first suggested the presence of a mantle plume beneath Marie Byrd 30 years ago.

This could explain volcanic activity and the dome feature.

‘I thought it was crazy,’ said Hélène Seroussi of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, of when she first heard the idea.

‘I didn’t see how we could have that amount of heat and still have ice on top of it.’

In a new study, however, researchers used numerical modelling with the Ice Sheet System Model to study the plume, revealing natural sources of heating and heat transport from a number of processes.

They scientists also used observations of changes in the altitude of the ice sheet surface, captured by NASA’s IceSat satellite and airborne Operation IceBridge campaign.

‘These place a powerful constraint on allowable melt rates – the very thing we wanted to predict,’ said Erik Ivins of JPL.

The study found that the energy flux from the mantle plume must not exceed 150 milliwatts per square meter – compared, for example, to a heat flux of 490 to 60 milliwatts in regions with no volcanic activity, and an average 200 milliwatts per square meter beneath Yellowstone.


If you MUST "decarbonize", you need nukes and dams

Which Greenies hate.  Sadly for them, windmills and solar have hardly any effect

By Michael Shellenberger

This report was born from an ongoing effort by the staff and research fellows of Environmental Progress and other researchers to understand the fastest way to decarbonize national economies (i.e., reduce emissions per unit of gross domestic product) in order to mitigate anthropogenic climate change. We publish it to fill a gap in the scientific literature and the regularly issued reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which are overwhelmingly focused on modeling future scenarios with little regard for real-world historical trends.

My own involvement in analyzing decarbonization began a half-decade ago when I was president of Breakthrough Institute. In 2012, we published an analysis that decomposed the two drivers of carbon intensity of the economy: changes to the energy intensity of the economy and changes to carbon intensity of energy. The study found that five nations decarbonized their economies at rates double the global historic average. Sweden and France did so mostly by decarbonizing energy supply, while the United Kingdom and Ireland did so mostly by reducing the energy intensity of their economies. Belgium did so through a roughly equal contribution of the two.

The Breakthrough study concluded that state-led efforts to deploy nuclear energy caused the decarbonization of energy in France and Sweden while the shift to service economies caused the decline in energy intensity in the UK and Ireland. Contrary to widespread opinion at the time, the decline in energy intensity was driven not through increased energy efficiency but sectoral shifts largely independent of state policies. Moreover, those nations that had decarbonized rapidly by reducing energy intensity were outliers. “[E]xcepting Ireland,” the Breakthrough analysis concluded, “in no cases are sustained energy intensity improvement rates observed much in excess of 2 percent per year, with most nations experiencing rates ranging from 1 to 1.5 percent per year.”

As such, the Breakthrough analysis reached a conclusion that was, at least at the time, surprising: state-led efforts to deploy nuclear power plants are the only proven way for governments to deliberately and rapidly decarbonize economies. If there were other ways for governments to achieve the same outcome, they hadn’t been proven. The analysis reads:

While sectoral economic transitions are largely outside the domain and impact of energy policy, and deindustrialization is hardly a global strategy for rapid decarbonization, it appears that history presents at least one replicable strategy to accelerate the pace of decarbonization: the directed decarbonization of global energy supplies via the state-led development and deployment of scalable zero-carbon energy technologies.

The analysis was surprising to me for a different reason. The data appeared to contradict what Breakthrough and I had been arguing for several years. Until then, we had been calling for state-led efforts to accelerate technological innovation to make clean energy — principally renewables like solar and wind, but also nuclear — cheap. But the analysis concluded that what mattered most was “standardization, economies of scale, rapid construction and quick installation” of nuclear plants.

Renewable energy advocates responded that the Breakthrough findings had to be wrong because it takes so much longer to build a nuclear power plant—with much of the protracted timeframes owing to construction delays—than, say, a solar or wind farm. This response was specious, since it compared solar and wind farms that generated far less electricity than nuclear plants—a point that would be made one year later in a then-novel analysis by Geoff Russell, a mathematician in South Australia, for Breakthrough.

Russell’s analysis compared the total amount of clean, electrical energy added by different nations during 11-year periods of peak deployment. (Russell calculated per-capita added energy to control for population.) He found that Sweden, France, and Belgium produced seven, two, and five times more electrical energy, respectively, with nuclear during their 11-year peak deployment periods than did Germany during its own 11-year peak deployment period with solar. As such, Russell noted, it could be said that nuclear was “faster” in decarbonizing than solar or wind.

Part of the power of these studies was the fact that no complex modeling was required to reach their conclusions and thus could be easily replicated by lay analysts without need for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Even so, a team of six respected scientists, including Environmental Progress (EP) Senior Science Advisor, James Hansen, published a bar chart of “Average annual increase of carbon-free electricity per-capita during decade of peak scale-up” in Science in August last year. (See Figure II.) That chart used more recent data than Russell and, generously, combined solar and wind into a single bar. But even then the chart showed the peak deployment of nuclear was up to 12 times faster than the peak deployment of solar and wind.

Then, in the summer of 2017, EP Senior Analyst Mark Nelson and EP Research Fellow Arun Ramamurthy took these analyses of energy decarbonization a step further. Where I had simply sought to update existing analyses, Mark and Arun were after something far more ambitious. Why only compare decades of peak deployment between a small set of countries, they reasoned, when there was publicly available data covering 68 nations over 52 years (1965 - 2016)? And why only look at solar, wind, and nuclear? Why not include hydroelectricity, which is the largest source of clean electricity globally?

I was both surprised and unsurprised when they showed me an early version of the four-square chart (See Figure IV.) that aggregated the national cases depicting the relationship, or lack thereof, between the per-capita deployment of nuclear, hydro, wind, and solar and carbon intensity of energy. I was unsurprised in that it showed what I had come to expect: the deployment of nuclear was strongly correlated with declining carbon intensity of energy. I also wasn’t particularly surprised by the correlation between the deployment of hydroelectricity and energy decarbonization, given how much power large dams generate.

On the other hand, I was surprised to see no correlation between solar or wind and the carbon intensity of energy at an aggregated level. After all, both clean energy sources are associated with the decarbonization of electricity, and the deployment of wind appears to have caused the decarbonization of energy in Denmark. Additionally, the decadal “peak deployment” bar graphs had suggested some correlation between solar and wind deployment and decarbonization, albeit a far more modest correlation than that between nuclear and hydro deployment and decarbonization. (I was further surprised nobody had conducted a similar analysis before — something we address directly in this report.)

While the deployment of nuclear (and hydro) at national scales for some countries can be safely said to have caused reductions in carbon intensity, we err on the side of caution and refrain from claiming a causal connection at aggregated national levels. In the context of a single nation like France, the deployment of nuclear energy very clearly drives energy decarbonization.

The causal relationship between nuclear and changes to carbon intensity are further demonstrated when nuclear plants are closed, as they were in Japan following the 2011 Fukushima accident. When their nuclear plants were closed, the Japanese energy supply recarbonized immediately, and there is no doubt as to why. There are too many other factors that could confound such a strong claim of causality at aggregated national levels, however.

In service to transparency, we have reproduced all 68 national carbon intensity of energy charts used in this analysis in our appendix, in addition to publishing the aggregated national charts.

Ten years after my initial forays into this subject area I am more than ever of the view that a future-facing climate policy must be informed by backward-facing energy analysis. The attention given by energy analysts, policymakers, and the IPCC to scenarios ungrounded from history is wildly disproportionate to the attention given to the real world experience of deploying clean energy technologies and their impact, or lack thereof, on carbon intensity and emissions. Given what’s at stake, this constitutes a grave error. Those who insist on ignoring the past, to modify Santayana, should not be allowed to force the rest of us to repeat it.


'Bombshell' Climate Report, Part 5,743,865

Leftist holdovers are working overtime to demonize the Trump administration's work

Jordan Candler   

On Friday, the fourth edition of the Climate Science Special Report was officially unveiled. In summary, “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” according to the report. “For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”

Recall back in August when The New York Times claimed to have procured a draft copy that it asserted “has not yet been made public.” This was false — the draft had long been up for public review, which the Times later clarified — but it helped support the premise supplied by the Times’ headline: “Scientists Fear Trump Will Dismiss Blunt Climate Report.”

As we reported at the time, this now-demonstrably fake news bolstered the narrative two-fold: It furthered the Times’ agenda of portraying Donald Trump as a Neanderthal who “could change or suppress the report” without the public’s knowledge, and it also helped portray ecofascists as brave whistleblowers who had no choice but to “leak” a report to save humanity. In reality, the report formally went out without a hitch. But hey — narrative!

According to CBS, “The Trump administration did not seek to block its release, but the conclusion directly contradicts statements made by senior members of his cabinet.” That’s the difference between the Obama and Trump administrations — the former pulled out all the stops to suppress every little thing with which it disagreed, while the latter respects debate and the Rule of Law.

There are many ways to question and counter causation without pulling out an executive order, a practice that became Barack Obama’s modus operandi. As Trump spokesman Raj Shah put it, “The Administration supports rigorous scientific analysis and debate and encourages public comment on the draft documents being released today.”

Interestingly, not everyone on the Left agrees wholeheartedly with the report — and not because it lacks sensationalism. Even an Obama-era official is calling into question some of the report’s findings. Physicist Steven E. Koonin, former undersecretary of energy under Obama, addresses two specific issues in The Wall Street Journal, where he writes:

One notable example of alarm-raising is the description of sea-level rise, one of the greatest climate concerns. The report ominously notes that while global sea level rose an average 0.05 inch a year during most of the 20th century, it has risen at about twice that rate since 1993.

But it fails to mention that the rate fluctuated by comparable amounts several times during the 20th century. The same research papers the report cites show that recent rates are statistically indistinguishable from peak rates earlier in the 20th century, when human influences on the climate were much smaller. The report thus misleads by omission.

This isn’t the only example of highlighting a recent trend but failing to place it in complete historical context. The report’s executive summary declares that U.S. heat waves have become more common since the mid-1960s, although acknowledging the 1930s Dust Bowl as the peak period for extreme heat. Yet buried deep in the report is a figure showing that heat waves are no more frequent today than in 1900.

This artifice also appeared in the government’s 2014 National Climate Assessment, which emphasized a post-1980 increase in hurricane power without discussing the longer-term record. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently stated that it has been unable to detect any human impact on hurricanes.

Koonin rightly calls this dichotomy “the difference between science and advocacy.” It’s not like anything in this report is “news.” If anything, it’s a regurgitation of what we’ve been hearing for decades, only with fresh data and enhanced alarm. The report also should not be interpreted as a Trump administration flip-flop, as many of these agencies are controlled by career activists.

More importantly, Trump officials — particularly EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt — are enacting policies that jettison the agenda being propagated by climate activists. It’s for that reason climate reports will be sensationalized further in the years ahead, as holdovers work to demonize the Trump administration’s work.


Green Energy Crash: Wind Turbine Maker Siemens Gamesa To Cut 6,000 Jobs

Siemens Gamesa is to cut 6,000 of its 27,000-strong workforce as part of a restructuring plan “to consolidate its position as a market leader”, the company said on Monday. Since Siemens took full control earlier this year, the wind company’s shares have fallen 46 per cent.

The world’s second-largest maker of wind turbines announced the job cuts as it released disappointing earnings and a 2018 outlook that was below forecasts.

“The guidance for next year is 14 per cent lower than the street had expected,” said Gurpreet Gujral, analyst at Macquarie, referring to operating profits.

Gamesa, the Spanish wind and renewable energy group acquired by Siemens this year, projected 2018 revenues of between €9bn and €9.6bn — about €1bn lower than the median consensus — while operating margins were targeted at between 7 per cent and 8 per cent, a modest projection relative to forecasts of 7.9 per cent.

Mr Gujral said the projections implied an underlying operating profit next year of €698m, well below forecasts of €814m.

The second half of the year, including the six months since April when Siemens completed its takeover, was hampered by a downturn in India and an inventory impairment in the US and South Africa. Sales in the six months declined 12 per cent, while underlying operating profit fell 63 per cent to €192m.

Management problems at Gamesa emerged in April when Ignacio Martín, chief executive, abruptly indicated he would not be staying on once the deal was complete. Siemens’ embarrassment over its inability to retain senior management was exacerbated by two profit warnings this year.


Greenie scientists want West Australia iron ore mine banned

Some big rocks need saving?

Fifty scientists and academics have signed a letter urging the West Australian government to block an iron ore mine expansion that would affect the Helena Aurora Range.

The range and its distinct red rocks that were formed billions of years ago is a refuge for threatened flora and fauna, including two declared rare native flowering plants found nowhere else on earth, according to the letter.

The fact the Environmental Protection Authority had rejected miner Mineral Resources' proposal in June should send a clear message that the range's "natural and cultural values ... should be preserved in perpetuity and for all to enjoy", the letter said.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson received a report last Friday by WA's Appeals Convenor, who considers appeals to EPA decisions.

But it would be a whole of government decision, a spokeswoman said.

The 50 scientists and academics called on Premier Mark McGowan and Mr Dawson to adopt EPA duty chair Robert Harvey's recommendation to protect it and the letter calls for the area to be made a "class A" national park.

The Helena and Aurora Range Science Declaration was released on Monday by Emeritus Professor John Bailey, a past member of the EPA and chair of the Conservation Commission of WA.

He said the Helena Aurora Range was the most significant intact banded ironstone formation range left in the Yilgarn region, 500km northeast of Perth.

"These ranges are remnants of a landscape dating back over 2.6 billion years, meaning that they are among the most ancient landforms on Earth," the letter says.

Former premier Carmen Lawrence says the area is an incredible landscape.  "I think as a community we're only just starting to really appreciate how unique and rare places like this are," she said.

Yilgarn Iron Ore Producers Association chief David Utting rejected claims the range was unique.

"It is not a unique area. There are also not endangered species of animals and plants there that stand to be wiped out," he told ABC radio.

The previous WA Liberal National government intervened in support of Mineral Resources and ordered a review after the EPA rejected the project in 2014.




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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