Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Greenland icecap discovery

I don't know much about glaciology but nor do glaciologists, it seems.  Ice lenses (isolated masses of ice) are familiar in rock and soil but glaciologists seem to have discovered only recently that they exist in glacial firn (semi-compacted snow) as well. And they have figured a way to see that as promoting the Greenie scare of sea-level rise, as they would of course.  That's a great basis for a big juicy new research grant.

Most interesting, however is their discovery that ice lenses are becoming more massive in firn.  But what does that tell us?  What makes water into ice?  COLD, low temperatures.  So if more ice is forming lately that means that it must be getting colder at the site concerned.  Have they discovered global cooling?  Seems like it!

I like the last sentence below

The rate at which water is released from the Greenland ice sheet is accelerating, according to a multinational team of scientists.

Studying the upper layers of snow on the island's glaciers, they found the compacted snowy frosting on the ice cap, called firn, is losing its ability to absorb meltwater.

This is due to the formation of 'ice lenses' beneath the surface, indicating that the sponge-like ability of the firn to soak up melting surface water is being lost.

Experts fear this could lead to increased release of the meltwater into the oceans.

Firn can be up to 260ft (80 metres) thick and is an integral part of the Greenland ice sheet, which is second only to Antarctica in size and is up to 14,000ft (4.3km) thick.

It contains ice formed up to 100,000 years ago, created by snow that gradually built up and compacted.

Snow is regularly deposited on top of the ice cap, and previous studies have shown that snowfall is increasing as a result of climate change.

The new study, from a team of Danish, American, and Swiss scientists, shows that current atmospheric warming is changing the firn layer and allowing meltwater to be released faster than previously seen.

'Basically our research shows that the firn reacts fast to a changing climate,' said Horst Machguth, lead author of the study by the University of Zurich.

'Its ability to limit mass loss of the ice sheet by retaining meltwater could be smaller than previously assumed.'

The researchers travelled to Greenland to investigate the impact of recent atmospheric warming on the structure of near-surface snow and ice layers.

Over the course of three expeditions, they mapped the structure of firn layers with a radar unit and drilled 66ft-deep (20 metre) cores into the top layers of ice, including sites where cores had been drilled 15 to 20 years ago.

Earlier research has shown that the firn layer acts similar to a sponge.

It stores meltwater seeping down from the surface in what are referred to as 'ice lenses’ - pockets between soil and rock.

Comparison of the new and old cores revealed substantially more ice lenses than in the past, the study published in Nature Climate Change explained.

Cores at lower elevations showed 'exceptional amounts' of meltwater which formed a 'surprisingly massive' ice layer close to the surface.

‘It appears that the intensive and repeated entry of meltwater formed numerous ice lenses, which ultimately hindered percolation of further meltwater’, said Dirk van As, a co-author of the study from the Geological Survey in Denmark and Greenland.

As a result, many small lenses join into an ice layer several metres thick, acting like a lid beneath the surface of the snow.

This means that surface meltwater is diverted into new rivers at or just below the surface, travelling to the sea more quickly and contributing to sea level rise.

Mike MacFerrin of the University of Colorado at Boulder said: 'In contrast to storing meltwater in porous firn, this mechanism increases runoff from the ice sheet.'

He said the process has never been seen before in Greenland and that 'the total extent of this ice lid capping the ice sheet firn remains unknown.'

'For this reason, the amount of additional ice sheet runoff associated with this newly observed process cannot yet be quantified.'


Another new scare.  Just as laughable

The dams are going to dry up!  Would you believe?  It only defies basic physics to prophecy that but so what?

OK. Let me go back to junior school basics.  Rain happens when heat from the sun strikes the surface of the oceans and turns some of their water into water vapour.  The water vapor rises into the clouds.  The clouds get blown about by the wind until they hit mountains.  When they hit the mountains they turn into water again and that falls as rain.  Maybe even a Warmist could understand that.

And what would happen under global warming?  The oceans would get hotter too!  And in doing so would give off more water vapour than ever and thence more rain.  Global warming might lead to floods but but it WON'T lead to water shortages.  Boy!  Am I tired of Warmist dishonesty

Thousands of power plants around the world may face severe reductions in their ability to generate electricity by mid-century due to water shortages, according to new research.

Hydro- and thermo-electric (nuclear, fossil-fuelled, biomass-fuelled) power plants are vulnerable to dwindling rivers and reservoirs as the planet warms, a study published in Nature on Monday said.

These technologies, which provide 98% of global electricity supply, depend on abundant water to cool generators and pump power at dams.

Lower river levels and warmer water temperatures could reduce generating capacity by as much as 86% in thermo-electric- and 74% in hydro plants, according to researchers at Wageningen University and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

It comes as water demand for power generation is set to double within the next 40 years, the report said. Drought-stricken hydro producers have reverted to dirtier energy sources in the past to shore up tottering grids.

Global warming is set to boost river levels in Canada, India and central Africa as global weather patterns shift. Yet most hydroplants are in regions forecast to see shortages, like South America, which generates almost two-thirds of its electricity from hydro.

If those plants became 10% more efficient in producing electricity that could offset the constraints, the study said.

Converting to seawater and dry air cooling would achieve the same result for thermo-electric plants, but likely raise energy bills. Switching from coal to gas-fired power plants, whose cooling towers need less water, was preferable.

Non-hydro renewable sources are growing, but are unlikely to be the dominant sources of power generation over the course of the century, the study said.

Planners were urged to take heed of future constraints as they build new plants, which remain in operation for several decades.

“Considering the increase in impacts of water constraints on power generation and the long design lifetime of power plant infrastructure (∼30–60 years for thermoelectric power and 80 years for hydro power), adaptation options should be included in today’s planning to fulfil the growing electricity demands in the next decades.”


What's causing all this bizarre weather?

Comment from the UK:

What's causing all this bizarre weather? The answer, at least on my side of the Atlantic, seems to be: "Someone or something I happen not to like."

Britain, like the U.S. and, indeed, much of the world, had an unusual December. Balmy weather brought daffodils freakishly into flower where I live; a neighbor saw cherry trees in blossom. Further north, the unseasonable warmth was accompanied by floods, driving hundreds of people from their homes.

What triggered the floods? People on social media had several answers. Leftists blamed the Conservative government for spending too little on flood defenses. Euroskeptics blamed the EU's Water Framework Directive, which discouraged the dredging of rivers. Councilors in the afflicted areas blamed the Treasury for spending money in other parts of the country. People who dislike state bureaucracies blamed the colossally inefficient Environment Agency, which is supposed to be in charge of managing rivers. George Monbiot, one of Britain's leading radical journalists, blamed aristocrats for draining their grouse moors upstream of the stricken towns.

Maybe I'm missing something here, but the floods weren't actually caused by David Cameron or the EU or the Environment Agency or the grouse. They were caused by, you know, rain.

Human beings are naturally anthropocentric. We like to make everything about other human beings. We see faces in potatoes, but not potatoes in faces. We impute human emotion to inanimate objects, swearing at our laptops when they seem to be messing around with us.

In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins blames this trait for the rise of religion. Our ancestors couldn't accept that floods just happened; they must somehow have been caused by human wickedness.

Is our generation so very different? We, too, struggle with the idea that weather is not, ultimately about human misdeeds — defined, these days, as environmental pollution generally, and carbon emissions specifically. We treat climatologists less as scientists than as sacerdotal figures, expecting them not simply to analyze what is happening, but to offer us policy prescriptions. We want penances (in the form of emissions caps) and indulgences (in the form of carbon trading). When bad things happen meteorologically — whether in Texas or in Yorkshire — we want to blame human activity.

We do so despite the fact that, if you listen carefully, meteorologists are making no such link. The unsettled weather, as they are perfectly well aware, is mainly the result of the El Nino phenomenon. Neither the United Nations climate panel nor Britain's Meteorological Office has posited a causal connection between rising CO2 levels and rivers in northern England bursting their banks. The closest they get is to say that extreme weather events are "consistent with" global warming.

Well, yes. They're also "consistent with" a vengeful deity. They're "consistent with" being caused by witches. I'd be much more impressed with the climate lobby if they set out a weather pattern that would be inconsistent with their global warming thesis. After all, as Karl Popper said, the essence of a scientific thesis is that it is verifiable; that's what distinguishes science from superstition.

Of course, if you're up to your waist in sewage, watching your possessions being ruined, you don't want to hear any of this. You very naturally want to blame someone. Probably someone you didn't much like in the first place, such as a politician from a party you oppose. Okay, you can't burn him in a wicker man to appease the rain gods, but you can berate him on Twitter for not visiting the right places, or not spending enough, or setting too low a carbon reduction target.

In fairness, most of the people directly affected have been cheerful and resilient, and we shouldn't blame the blamers. False inference of agency is deep in our DNA. "Each natural event is supposed to be governed by some intelligent agent," wrote the brilliant Scottish philosopher David Hume in 1757, "and nothing prosperous or adverse can happen in life, which may not be the subject of peculiar prayers."

It is often said that ours is the first post-Christian age. Perhaps so, but we have been quicker to shed our belief in morality than our belief in magic. Deep down, we still struggle to accept that bad things might happen without anyone being at fault. I leave the last word to the great Ulster poet Louis Macneice:

"The glass is falling hour by hour, the glass will fall forever. But if you break the bloody glass you won't hold up the weather."


Kerry: Paris Climate Change Deal Tops Obama Administration’s List of Accomplishments in 2015

For once Kerry is absolutely right.  Promotion of a meritless scare that will be laughed at by posterity IS the peak of Obama's achievements. What that says for his other deeds (such as signing the Obamacare legislation) is, I think, clear

Secretary of State John Kerry says the climate change deal he helped broker in Paris was the Obama administration’s most “important” accomplishment in 2015.

“As one year gives way to the next, international leaders have an opportunity to build on several major achievements of 2015,” Kerry wrote in an oped published Tuesday in the Boston Globe in which he also listed the nuclear deal with Iran, signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba.

“Of these, none is more important than the recent global agreement in Paris to prevent the most harmful impacts of climate change.” Kerry wrote.

Kerry credits the administration’s “reaching out to China, the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases,” as a cornerstone of the success of the United Nation’s climate change agreement,

“We have a shared responsibility now to sustain the momentum generated in Paris, so that the targets established there are considered not a ceiling on what we can accomplish, but rather the platform upon which we can make further gains,” Kerry wrote.

President Barack Obama and federal officials agreed to give $3 billion in funding to the U.N.'s Green Climate Fund to help developing nations - including China and India, which produce more greenhouse gases than industrialized nations - deal with the effects of climate change.

Earlier in the month, Kerry defended the climate change agreement against criticism from former NASA scientist James Hansen, who called it “a fraud really, a fake.... It’s just worthless words.”

“I understand the criticisms of the agreement because it doesn’t have a mandatory scheme and it doesn’t have a compliance enforcement mechanism. That’s true,” Kerry said on ABC’s This Week.

“But we have 186 countries, for the first time in history, all submitting independent plans that they have laid down, which are real for reducing emissions. And what it does, in my judgment, more than anything else, there is a uniform standard of transparency. And therefore, we will know what everybody is doing.”

Kerry began his commentary by comparing the Obama administration to the New England Patriots football team, which clinched the top spot in the AFC East with a 12-3 record.

“One reason for the remarkable record of the New England Patriots is the team’s single-minded focus on the next game,” Kerry wrote.

“Managing world affairs requires the same concentration on future challenges, for past accomplishments provide no guarantee of continued success. They can, however, lend confidence that, with the right preparation and effort, positive results will follow,” he said.


The irrational legacy of COP21

In 1688, British author Aphra Behn penned the literary couplet "The World ran Mad, and each distempered Brain, Did Strange and different Frenzies entertain."

This poetic verse could well serve as an accurate description of the apparent scientific absurdity associated with the climate alarmist movement of today. A case in point is illustrated in negotiations at the United Nations climate conference in Paris (COP21), where despite much data and many observations to the contrary, delegates are holding fast to the assertion that human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing dangerous climate change.

One of the most bizarre claims to come out of the conference is the assertion that global temperatures must be kept from rising a mere seventy five-hundredths of a degree Celsius (0.75°C) above present day values (they are to be kept within a total increase of 1.5°C since pre-industrial times) or climate Armageddon will result. This narrative includes melting glaciers and ice sheets, rising sea levels, inundated coastlines, more frequent and severe hurricanes, droughts, floods and other types of extreme weather events, crop failures, plant and animal extinctions, and widespread human suffering, diseases and death.

Such a claim is preposterous. It exists only in the deranged output of computer model projections that are derived from the most extreme and frenzied future scenarios. Data and observations provide no hint whatsoever that such a catastrophe would occur if the world warmed another 0.75°C or more. Temperatures were likely at least that warm, if not warmer, a thousand years ago during the Medieval Warm Period, and another thousand years before that during the Roman Warm Period. Additionally, global temperatures were approximately 2°C warmer than present some 5,000 years ago during the peak warmth of the current interglacial period. Yet in none of these time periods did climate Armageddon occur.

Despite these and many other observational facts that challenge and discredit each and every tenet of the apocalyptic narrative of human-induced climate change, delegates to the Paris meeting have continued to press forward in a deranged attempt to reduce and ultimately eliminate all carbon-emitting sources of energy just a few short decades from now. If they weren't so serious about this endeavor it would be laughable — but they are serious. In their view, carbon dioxide is a perilous "pollutant" whose emission into the atmosphere must be regulated and halted at all costs.

Nothing, however, could be further from the truth.

Carbon dioxide is a well-known aerial fertilizer, and many thousands of studies have proven the growth-enhancing, water-saving and stress-alleviating benefits it provides for plants. The reality is that rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations are providing a multitude of benefits to the biosphere. One recent study conducted by my Center calculated that over the 50-year period ending in 2001, the direct monetary value conferred by rising CO2 since the Industrial Revolution on global crop production amounts to a staggering $3.2 trillion. And projecting this positive externality forward in time reveals it will likely bestow an additional $9.8 trillion in crop production benefits between now and 2050. And those figures do not include all the CO2-induced benefits that are accruing in unmanaged, natural ecosystems.

Sadly, rather than acknowledging these verities, delegates at the Paris conference simply disregard them. Such actions speak truth to Mrs. Behn's 17th century couplet. The people behind the Paris climate negotiations care little for the truth, little for fossil fuels, little for affordable energy and little for the millions of unfortunate people who will suffer the negative consequences of their misguided plans to eliminate carbon-based energy.

We live in a time when half the global population experiences some sort of limitation in their access to energy, energy that is needed for the most basic of human needs, including the production of clean water, warmth and light. One-third of those thus impacted are children. And an even greater portion finds its ranks among the poor.

As a society, it is high time to recognize and embrace the truth. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Its increasing concentration only minimally affects earth's climate, while it offers tremendous benefits to the biosphere. Efforts to regulate and reduce CO2 emissions will hurt far more than they will help.


Australia: Green power freaks hit by big price rise

Consumers want answers after energy providers have announced a price increase of up to 41 per cent for their green energy contribution to coincide with the new year.

In the days leading up to Christmas, Origin Energy customers were notified that "a rise in the market price of renewable energy" meant GreenPower electricity charges would increase from 3.61¢ per kilowatt hour (excluding GST) to 5.10¢ per kilowatt hour from January 1, 2016.

The increase was so steep, northern NSW resident Russell Mills was sure there had been a mistake.  "I did the maths very quickly and it came up as a 41 per cent increase. I thought that's substantial, am I missing something?" he said.

"There was nothing in the letter explaining the rationale for it, so I rang them and I spoke to three different people who could tell me no more, just that it was due to changes in renewable energy prices."

In Mr Mills' case, the 41 per cent increase would equate to an extra $77 each year.

GreenPower is government-accredited renewable electricity from a source such as wind or solar-powered built since 1997.

Providers purchase large-scale renewable energy certificates on their customers' behalf to offset the power they use in any given year, therefore increasing the amount of renewable energy in the national energy grid.

Consumers who choose GreenPower electricity as an add-on to their bill can select a percentage of their electricity usage to be matched into the grid with electricity from accredited renewable GreenPower sources.  More than 32,500 organisations around Australia purchase accredited GreenPower.

Mr Mills lives with his wife and two children in a three-bedroom home in Clunes, where they spend between $450 and $550 per quarter on electricity.

For the past year, he has contributed to renewable energy through the 100 per cent GreenPower product. However, after being hit with the 41 per cent increase, he has made a "hip-pocket decision" to reduce his 100 per cent contribution to 50 per cent.

"There's a huge disincentive here for average consumers to actually choose renewable energy. I'm not laying blame totally on Origin, I'm still with them, I just feel it's a bit depressing really," he said.

"We need more renewable energy and there's not really any incentive for us to choose it."

Significant price jumps in GreenPower charges can be linked to the large-scale generation certificates used for the product, which have experienced a steady increase of about $40 to upwards of $75 in the past six months.

All GreenPower providers have changed their prices to reflect the underlying cost increase.

Large-scale generation certificates are traded through the wholesale market and prices fluctuate considerably, determined largely by supply and demand.



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.  

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