Thursday, June 26, 2008

Huge volcanic fires under the Arctic icecap discovered

Reality trumps theory again: An international expedition has discovered gigantic volcanic eruptions in the Arctic Ocean. Ya think it might melt some of the ice above it? This blog has had posts about Gakkel ridge vulcanism since Feb, 2005. See also another of my posts of Jan. 1, 2007 on the subject

An international team of researchers was able to provide evidence of explosive volcanism in the deeps of the ice-covered Arctic Ocean for the first time. Researchers from an expedition to the Gakkel Ridge, led by the American Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), report in the current issue of the journal Nature that they discovered, with a specially developed camera, extensive layers of volcanic ash on the seafloor, which indicates a gigantic volcanic eruption.

"Explosive volcanic eruptions on land are nothing unusual and pose a great threat for whole areas," explains Dr Vera Schlindwein of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association. She participated in the expedition as a geophysicist and has been, together with her team, examining the earthquake activity of the Arctic Ocean for many years. "The Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD and buried thriving Pompeii under a layer of ash and pumice. Far away in the Arctic Ocean, at 85ø N 85ø E, a similarly violent volcanic eruption happened almost undetected in 1999 - in this case, however, under a water layer of 4,000 m thickness."

So far, researchers have assumed that explosive volcanism cannot happen in water depths exceeding 3 kilometres because of high ambient pressure. "These are the first pyroclastic deposits we've ever found in such deep water, at oppressive pressures that inhibit the formation of steam, and many people thought this was not possible," says Robert Reves-Sohn, staff member of the WHOI and lead scientist of the expedition carried out on the Swedish icebreaker Oden in 2007.

A major part of Earth's volcanism happens at the so-called mid-ocean ridges and, therefore, completely undetected on the seafloor. There, the continental plates drift apart; liquid magma intrudes into the gap and constantly forms new seafloor through countless volcanic eruptions. Accompanied by smaller earthquakes, which go unregistered on land, lava flows onto the seafloor. These unspectacular eruptions usually last for only a few days or weeks.

The Gakkel Ridge in the Arctic Ocean spreads so slowly at 6-14 mm/year, that current theories considered volcanism unlikely - until a series of 300 strong earthquakes over a period of eight months indicated an eruption at 85ø N 85ø E in 4 kilometres water depth in 1999. Scientists of the Alfred Wegener Institute became aware of this earthquake swarm and reported about its unusual properties in the periodical EOS in the year 2000.

Vera Schlindwein and her junior research group are closely examining the earthquake activity of these ultraslow-spreading ridges since 2006. "The Gakkel Ridge is covered with sea-ice the whole year. To detect little earthquakes, which accompany geological processes, we have to deploy our seismometers on drifting ice floes." This unusual measuring method proved highly successful: in a first test in the summer 2001 - during the "Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge Expedition (AMORE)" on the research icebreaker Polarstern - the seismometers recorded explosive sounds by the minute, which originated from the seafloor of the volcanic region. "This was a rare and random recording of a submarine eruption in close proximity," says Schlindwein. "I postulated in 2001 that the volcano is still active. However, it seemed highly improbable to me that the recorded sounds originated from an explosive volcanic eruption, because of the water depth of 4 kilometres."

The scientist regards the matter differently after her participation in the Oden-Expedition 2007, during which systematic earthquake measurements were taken by Schlindwein's team in the active volcanic region: "Our endeavours now concentrate on reconstructing and understanding the explosive volcanic episodes from 1999 and 2001 by means of the accompanying earthquakes. We want to know, which geological features led to a gas pressure so high that it even enabled an explosive eruption in these water depths." Like Robert Reves-Sohn, she presumes that explosive eruptions are far more common in the scarcely explored ultraslow-spreading ridges than presumed so far.


Richard Courtney shoots down a Greenie ignoramus

As noted here on 24th., Courtney recently took up the NRDC challenge to skeptical scientists to 'let NRDC's real climate experts take them on'. One of the Greenies did actually comment on Courtney's response. Below is the comment and Courtney's reply to it. The name of the Greenie suggests that he is a Finn, so perhaps he can be forgiven for not knowing that "Rick" is a customary abbreviation for "Eric"

Tuuka Simonen: "Richard S Courtney says that the temperature is similar to 1940. That is utterly bollocks. Rick himself is full of fossil industry money:"

No, it is not "utterly bollocks": it is simply true. Please do not take my word for it but check it for yourself. I cite CRU data from here.

In that CRU dataset the 1940 monthly values of temperature anomalies from the 30 year mean are presented in degrees Celsius.

They range between -0.191 and +0.057 with an annual mean of +0.018. In that same dataset the monthly 2008 anomalies to date are +0.053, +0.192, +0.430, +0.254 and +0.278. This is a mean value for the months in 2008 to date of +0.241.

The ranges of the monthly values for these years overlap; i.e. the highest monthly value in 1940 (+0.057) was higher than the lowest monthly value in 2008 (+0.053). I think it very reasonable to say they are "similar" when their ranges overlap.

However, my use of the word "similar" could be considered to an understatement because the mean values differ by only 0.223 degrees Celsius and the data has inherent error of +/- 0.2 degrees Celsius. So, within their inherent errors the mean values are not similar because THEY ARE THE SAME.

But atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration has increased by more than 30% since 1940 and increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is supposed to induce "dangerous" global warming.

Also, I am not impressed by reference to a blog that only exists to smear and defame climate realists. I fail to understand how that in any way refutes the facts I have presented here and that anybody can check with little effort.

So, Tuuka Simonen, if you are one of NRDC's "real climate experts" who wanted to "take on" climate realist arguments then you need to do much better than you have managed so far. However, I do give you credit for trying to address one of the points made here. You completely failed, but your attempt was the only one that NRDC's "real climate experts" have provided.

Incidentally, nobody calls me "Rick" (or they only do it once).


Big Coal Fires Back Over James Hansen's Criminal Complaint

Reports Revkin of the NYT:

Big Coal is firing back at James Hansen, NASA's top climate expert, who on Monday told a House committee on energy and climate that he thought top executives of coal and oil companies should be tried for "crimes against humanity and nature."

Below is a note sent to me by Vic Svec, who you heard from here earlier in the year in relation to efforts by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, a rising star in the Democratic Party, to deny permits for two proposed coal-burning power plants because of their potential contribution to global warming. Mr. Svec is a senior vice president for Peabody, which is the largest private coal producer in the world (to get an idea of their volume, and mission, visit and watch the amazing coal-sales "ticker" at the bottom reel off tons of coal sold per second). Here's what Mr. Svec said about Dr. Hansen's assertions:
1. His use of Holocaust analogies is outrageous and demeaning. It cheapens the dialogue and invites ridicule.

2. The suggestion that a dissemination of ideas be criminalized -- coming from a government employee no less -- does hearken back to World War II. It is stunning and should be pounced upon by everyone who advocates free speech, from the ACLU and talk radio complex to yourself.

3. Blaming big oil and big coal for the broad array of opinions about climate change is disingenuous. If he would imprison those who don't march in lockstep with his views, the jails would be very, very big. It would include thousands of scientists and university professors and the likes of the president of the Czech Republic, a former founder of Greenpeace and the former founder of The Weather Channel.

4. Speaking for Peabody, our time and energy are being devoted to satisfying an energy-hungry world's need for coal and advancing the commercialization of carbon capture and storage technology. Among other initiatives, we're proud to have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions intensity by more than 30% since 1990; to be the initial developer of a supercritical coal plant that will emit 15% lower carbon dioxide than existing plants; to be a founding member of the FutureGen Alliance; to be a part of Australia's low-carbon Coal 21 program; and to be the only non-Chinese partner in China's zero-emissions GreenGen project.

In short, while some are interested in sound bites, we'll keep going about the serious work of providing clean coal, energy solutions and environmental improvement.


Climate Expert: Kyoto Would Save Only One Polar Bear a Year

Bjorn Lomborg explains greenhouse gas treaty would cost $180 billion annually, but do very little to help the mascot of global warming alarmism.

Want to save the polar bear? According to one expert, don't think you're going to do it by making significant lifestyle changes in order to reduce your carbon footprint. In May, the Interior Department listed the polar on its threatened species list because of the risks of shrinking sea ice. But Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish author and professor at the Copenhagen Business School, told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on June 25 that the threat is exaggerated and wouldn't go away even if every country in the world signed and followed the Kyoto Protocol.

Lomborg, author of "Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming," explained during the speech in Washington, D.C., how inefficient and ineffective it would be to try to improve the polar bear population via massively curbing greenhouse gas emissions. "The polar bear has become the icon of global warming and certainly [former Vice President] Al Gore was a part of doing that," Lomborg said. "A lot of people think polar bears are threatened right now - actually that's not the case."

According to Lomborg, global polar bear population was about 5,000 in 1960. Since then, the population has quadrupled. Now there are an estimated 22,000 polar bears. But, Lomborg warned the polar bear still eventually could be threatened by the effects of global warming.

"My point is simply: if we actually care about the polar bear, why is that we are so intent on only discussing one option - that is cutting carbon emissions?" Lomborg said. "Nobody ever talks about what would be the effect of cutting carbon emissions. Well, let me show you - if everybody did the Kyoto Protocol all the way through the century, which is very, very far away, but if everybody actually did that, we'd save one polar bear every year."

Lomborg said he was all for saving that one polar bear a year, but questioned the costs. He estimated the worldwide annual cost of the Kyoto Protocol to be $180 billion. Kyoto is a treaty supported by Gore and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He proposed a simpler solution:

"It strikes me as odd, that in this conversation, nobody seems to mention the fact that every year, we shoot somewhere between 300 and 500 polar bear," Lomborg said. "Wouldn't it be smarter to first stop shooting the polar bear?" "Why is it we care about polar bears in the least effective way and the most costly way, rather than dealing with the issue where we would do a lot of good?" Lomborg added.


Wind turbines are 'unreliable and will cost each British home 4,000 pounds

The Government's plan to build thousands of new wind turbines across Britain is misguided, doomed to failure and will cost every household at least 4,000 pounds, a new report claims. Rather than trying to solve the UK's energy crisis by investing in wind power, ministers should focus on tidal energy, clean coal and nuclear power, it says.

The report from the Centre for Policy Studies - a right of centre think tank - comes on the eve of the Government's announcement on the future of green energy. Ministers will tomorrow reveal how the UK will meet the EU's target for producing 15 per cent of all energy from renewable sources within 12 years.

The plans include a six-fold expansion of wind farms on land, and a 30-fold increase in offshore turbines. To meet the targets, Britain will need to build one new turbine every day between now and 2020. The dash for wind is also being fuelled by concerns that Britain is running out of power. By 2015 new European clean air laws will have shut many coal power stations while many of the UK's ageing nuclear power stations will be shut, leaving a energy gap of up to 32 gigawatts.

"A rush to wind energy is not the answer to these problems," said Tim Knox, of the CPS. The report says wind is unreliable - and only provides power if the weather conditions are right. The UK will need a fleet of coal, gas or nuclear power stations in reserve for when the wind drops.

Turbines are also expensive. The Royal Academy of Engineering estimates that wind energy is two and a half times more costly than other forms of non- oil and gas electricity generation, according to the report Wind Chill: Why Wind Energy Will Not Fill the UK's Energy Gap.

The shift to renewables could cost 100 million - or 4,000 for every household in the country, it adds. "It is also impractical," Mr Knox added. "The UK does not have the capability to build the 3,000 new offshore wind farms that are proposed, nor can the national grid handle the enormous new strains that will be imposed upon it. "This matters. The increase in consumers' electricity prices required to pay for and maintain expensive wind energy will contribute to the difficulties faced by the six million householders facing fuel poverty."

A poll carried out for the report found just three per cent of people were willing to pay higher electricity bills to fund renewable power such as wind. Another 37 per cent were "very unwilling," while 24 per cent said they were "fairly unwilling". Only 12 per cent said they were happy to pay more.

The report - written by energy analyst Tony Lodge, concludes: "Greater reliance on wind power could lead to electricity supply disruptions if the wind does not blow, blows too hard or does not blow where wind farms are located."

The wind industry dismissed the criticisms. "The National Grid has said many times they can cope with the variability of wind," said Chris Tomlinson of the British Wind Energy Association. "Never in history has there not been wind blowing somewhere in the UK." Creating thousands of new turbines would be a "challenge", but the job was not impossible, he added.


McCain is a moron

Just HOW is he going to cut CO2 emissions drastically without sacrificing economic growth?? The only way of getting any movement at all would be to replace all the coal-fired plants with nuclear and that is going to cost a hell of a lot more than pocket change -- particularly considering the huge costs that Greenie regulations impose. Such costs would amount to a huge burden on the economy. McCain is obviously talking through his anus

Republican nominee-elect John McCain Tuesday vowed to combat global warming without sacrificing economic growth, contradicting President George W. Bush on the need for binding emissions cuts. Unlike Bush, McCain pressed for mandatory cuts in emissions of warming gases as he spoke at a California event alongside Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who opposes the White House hopeful's call for offshore oil drilling...

Both McCain and Democratic rival Barack Obama support "cap and trade" markets to slash emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, but the Republican took coded shots at Obama over who would offer greater leadership...

Obama, who wants to invest 150 billion dollars over 10 years in alternative energy like wind and solar power, also derided McCain for proposing 45 new nuclear reactors without spelling out where the waste would be stored. In the teeth of local opposition, the Bush administration wants to create a long-term nuclear waste repository in Nevada's Yucca Mountain...

As the international community debates a successor to the Kyoto treaty on climate change, which Bush abandoned, McCain set out his proposal to reduce carbon emissions to 2005 levels by 2012. By 2020, he said, emissions should be cut to 1990 levels, "and so on until we have achieved at least a reduction of 60 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050." "In this way, we will transition into a low-carbon energy future while staying on a course of economic growth," McCain said.

More here


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Re the wind turbines:

I'm very relaxed about it -- the UK government is about to go broke (along with the rest of the country) -- there just isn't going to be the money about and with all the PFI and pension stuff that the UK won't be able to pay in the near future... not only is there no capability to build the stuff, there isn't the money to pay for the toys either.

Now the 2015 law will simply be ignored due to practicalities(riots, further economic collapse etc), and those knackered power stations are maybe a little 'unsafe' by sane standards, but still a huge margin above as to what is thought to be serviceable in the 3rd world. Ergo, they will stay online for the foreseeable future.

But it's quite funny to see them try this stuff, the entire thing has a very special dadaist appeal to it... ;-D