Thursday, September 10, 2020

'Doomsday Glacier' vulnerability seen in new maps

Doomsday my foot.  As the map shows, the glacier is in the middle of volcanic hotspots.  So it does show some melting from that cause. But it has had volcanoes under it for a long time.

And volcanoes wax and wane.  The volcanic activity will drop off at some stage and the glacier will expand again

Scientists may just have identified Thwaites Glacier's Achilles heel.

This Antarctic colossus is melting at a rapid rate, dumping billions of tonnes of ice in the ocean every year and pushing up global sea-levels.

Now, a UK-US team has surveyed the deep seafloor channels in front of the glacier that almost certainly provide the access for warm water to infiltrate and attack Thwaites' underside.

It's information that will be used to try to predict the ice stream's future.

"These channels had not been mapped before in this kind of detail, and what we've discovered is that they're actually much bigger than anyone thought - up to 600m deep. Think of six football pitches back to back," said Dr Kelly Hogan from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

"And because they are so deep, and so wide - this allows a lot more water to get at, and melt, Thwaites' floating front as well as its ice that rests on the seabed," she told BBC News.

Why is Thwaites Glacier so important?

Flowing off the west of the Antarctic continent, Thwaites is almost as big as Great Britain.

It's a majestic sight, with its buoyant front, or "ice shelf", pushing far out to sea and kicking off huge icebergs. But satellite monitoring indicates this glacier is melting at an accelerating rate.

In the 1990s it was losing just over 10 billion tonnes of ice a year. Today, it's more like 80 billion tonnes. The cause of the melting is thought to be the influx of relatively warm bottom-water drawn in from the wider ocean.

Currently, Thwaites' ice loss contributes approximately 4% to the annual rise in global sea-levels, with the potential to add 65cm in total should the whole glacier collapse.

No-one thinks this will happen in the short-to-medium term, but Thwaites is considered particularly vulnerable in a warming world, and scientists would like to know precisely how fast any changes might occur.

What does the latest research show?
The UK and the US joined forces in 2019 to investigate Thwaites.

Their scientists sailed a ship equipped with an echo-sounder right up to shelf's ice cliffs, to trace the shape of the seabed below.

A plane was also flown back and forth across the shelf to measure small variations in the pull of gravity. These deviations reflected the seafloor's undulations under the shelf.

The two datasets taken together now provide the best view yet of Thwaites' underlying topography.

"The connected channels that we've mapped in detail for the first time are the potential pathways for deep-ocean warm water to get in and do damage at that point where the glacier is still grounded on the seabed, where it begins to lift up and float," explained BAS colleague Dr Tom Jordan, "but also to melt the base of the ice shelf, which if you weaken will make the ice further upstream in the glacier flow faster."


The Feds Just Threw a Lifeline to California During Energy Crisis

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced on Sunday that Sec. Dan Brouillette, in response to an urgent request from the state of California, issued a Section 202 (c) emergency order to help prevent California's already-faltering power grid from being completely overwhelmed.

"I hereby determine that an emergency exists in California due to a shortage of electric energy, a shortage of facilities for the generation of electric energy, and other causes, and that issuance of this Order will meet the emergency and serve the public interest," reads a letter from the Assistant Secretary for Electricity Bruce Walker.

The DOE order authorizes the emergency use of stationary and portable generators, as well as auxiliary engines on board ocean-going vessels berthed in California ports. The order suspends any laws, regulations or permits limiting the use of these power-generating machines. The order is set to expire just before midnight on September 13.

"The Secretary concurs with the California Independent System Operator Corporation (CAISO) that a grid reliability emergency exists which demands immediate federal intervention," said DOE spokeswoman Shaylyn Hines in a statement.

Despite the rolling blackouts, California policymakers are too busy these days lowering penalties for adults who have sex with minors to deal with the faltering power grid. California's blackouts are entirely the fault of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and his ilk of quixotic environmentalists.

California decided to mandate the use of renewable energy despite the lack of technology to make such a mandate reliable to California residents. Usually, other western states, who haven't pursued reckless green policies, are available to bail out California by sending the state some of their power. But with the high temperatures, neighboring states have less power on hand these days. Combine blackouts with wildfires and many Californians are unable to receive advance warnings of approaching flames or operate electric water pumps that could save residents from losing their homes.

So California is now forced to turn to the feds.

"While the Secretary has offered this emergency assistance to California in this time of crisis, he also encourages state policymakers to evaluate why the grid is not able to handle extreme stress, which could be alleviated with the support of greater baseload power generation and natural gas supply," said Hines.


No, Banning Fossil Fuels Won't Raise Life Expectancy; Fossil-fueled Electricity Will

Mathematical modeler Caleb Stewart Rossiter of the CO2 Coalition reviews a model-based life expectancy study published in the journal Cardiovascular Research. The model misleadingly projects only the benefits and not the costs of eliminating affordable, reliable, and increasingly clean fossil fuels in favor of expensive, intermittent "renewables." Read the full letter below:

Letters to the Editor, Cardiovascular Research:

Lelieveld et al. (March 3, 2020) conclude that ending the use of fossil fuels would add one year to global life expectancy, because of reductions in outdoor air pollution.1 This paper is typical of trendy, misleading "climate change" research that focuses only on one side of a cost-benefit analysis. If fossil fuels were banned, far more expensive and less reliable wind and solar grids would be needed to meet even current demand. That would raise prices and reduce exports and economic growth. Life expectancy is strongly influenced by economic growth.

In addition, the alternative of increased reliance on intermittent wind and solar energy would drive up brownouts and blackouts and the resulting back-up, soot-spewing "dieselization" in unreliable grids like Africa's. Without ready fossil-fueled backup power, a "renewable" grid would collapse daily, at great cost to restart and repair. Ironically, because the mining, refining, construction, and transportation of wind blades, solar panels, and batteries is so fossil-fuel intensive, building enough to replace current methods of power generation would add the very pollutants to the atmosphere that a ban on fossil fuels would eliminate.

China and Sub-Saharan Africa had the same life expectancy in 1960: 44 years. Today, China is at 77, near the U.S. figure of 79, while Africa has only risen to 61.2 For the one billion Sub-Saharan Africans, this represents a loss of 16 billion years of life for not keeping pace with China.

Low access to electricity, at about a third of households and with daily blackouts for businesses, is one of the key causes of Africa's low level of life expectancy. The primary reason for this is that economic growth in a competitive, global market requires reliable, universal electrification. A secondary reason is that, according to the World Health Organization, indoor air pollution is the world's greatest environmental health risk.

Globally, WHO estimates that three billion people cook, heat, and light inside their homes with solid fuels - wood, charcoal, and dried animal dung. The poisons and particulate matter from burning solid fuels kill almost four million people a year from pneumonia (27%), heart disease (27%), pulmonary disease (20%), stroke (18%), lung cancer (7%), and a variety of impaired immunities. Half of pneumonia deaths in children under five are from soot in the house.3

UNICEF estimates the African share of these annual indoor pollution deaths at 400,000. Dangerous levels of indoor air pollution are almost guaranteed for families without access to electricity. UNICEF reports that 352 million Africa children live in homes with solid fuel cooking.4 One top researcher told the WHO: "Having an open fire in your kitchen is like burning 400 cigarettes an hour."5

The coming expansion of Africa's fossil-fueled grid will help solve the indoor air pollution problem. Even better, the use of "new-tech" electricity generation power and scrubbing technologies would keep the 258,000 annual toll from outdoor air pollution in Africa from rising.6 Researchers concerned with health outcomes of energy production would do well to study all sides of the question. None of the factors I have cited are accounted for in the Lelieveld paper.

The CO2 Coalition:

Australian students launch class action to prevent coal mine approval

This is just virtue signalling.  Similar lawsuits previously have got nowhere

Eight young Australian students have brought a class action in the country's federal court seeking an injunction to prevent government approval of a coal project, lawyers representing the claimants said on Wednesday.

The lawsuit against Environment Minister Susan Ley comes ahead of a decision this month on whether to approve the Whitehaven Coal-owned Vickery coal mine extension project in New South Wales.
"The case is an Australian first, as it seeks to invoke the Minister's common law duty of care to protect younger people against climate change," Equity Generation Lawyers said in a statement.

All the claimants are under the age of 18 years and Equity Generation is urging other youngsters from across the world to register for the class action.

"It is the only class action on climate change that includes every single person under the age of 18 around the world as a result of the likely harm each one will experience from climate change."

Ley's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment while a spokeswoman for Whitehaven Coal declined to comment.

Climate change has been a divisive topic in Australia, which counts coal and iron ore as its two top exports.

The country's reliance on coal-fired power also makes it one of the world's largest per capita carbon emitters and just last year it approved a huge new coal mine by India’s Adani Enterprises .
"As a young person, I cannot vote to have my voice heard by politicians," said 16-year-old Laura Kirwan from Sydney, one of the litigants.

"I believe that the government has a duty to young people to protect our futures from the impacts of climate change, including stopping the climate impacts of the Vickery Extension Project."

The eight young Australians have all been involved in "School Strike For Climate", which was initiated by student activist Greta Thunberg in 2018 demanding that world leaders adopt urgent measures to stop an environmental catastrophe.

The injunction comes less than two months after a 23-year-old Melbourne student filed a class action against the government alleging it had failed to disclose climate change-related risks to investors in the country's sovereign bonds.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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


No comments: