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Project White Elephant :: An Albedo Restoration Proposal I have recently been involved with an industrial consortium that has just returned from an extensive research mission to the Gamma Quadrant. This industrial group has been granted exclusive access to methods and materials that far exceed any currently known human-originated technology. This group is able to deploy an albedo restoration system on Earth that will partially compensate for the recent loss of Arctic sea ice. They will build this system to cover an area the size of Texas, but deployed in a manner spread out across the geographical United States, in a fashion that disturbs the least amount of currently used land surface. This system will be installed in one year and be maintained for a minimum of 100 years. The total fee will include installation and maintenance, and will also include all materials, labor, fuel, factories, distribution, pollution remediation, legal, and all other associated costs. They want to keep it simple for us - we only need to agree to their flat-rate fee. The fee will be $1.00 (one dollar) for each square foot of albedo restoration coverage. Albedo is guaranteed to be at least 0.9. The area of Texas is 7,494,000,000,000 square feet. They will round up to 7.5 trillion, just to keep things simple. This group will begin construction as soon as payment is made for this incredibly reasonable proposal. Note: It is not true that unicorns and leprechauns are involved in the manufacture and deployment of this system, as has been rumored. I have seen the technology, and it is far more advanced than anything these magical beings can provide.
That certainly makes sense that timing is everything - enough factors have to be known before a decent projection can be made for a seasonal forecast. I imagine that some people could get fairly good at intuitively knowing both when enough factors are in place, and what the factors are cumulatively pointing to. The unfolding new AGW developments from year to year will give these folks plenty of chances to prove their worth. Especially when it is more clear that historical patterns are not very helpful any more. The people who are both open to seeing new things popping up, and can pull together a train of thought as you are getting at above, may have a decent shot at out-performing any set of models. I wonder if Neven has given any thought to the possible value of using the "successful large-scale colloborative process" of this blog, as A-Team called it in the "Record dominoes 12" thread, to someday start a more solid "Forecast Team" part of this site? - A part of the site where the collective wisdom is actually condensed into some specific seasonal forecasting (obviously taking things much further than just a couple of polls in the right hand column).
Thanks Wayne, but I can't claim anything more than a WAG on that one. Just thinking about the possible connections - connections that I am aware enough to know are there, but not knowledgeable enough, especially regarding any recent data, to posit more. I am also not familiar enough with all the relevant mechanisms to claim anything as strong as a deduction. There are others here who are making much better deductions and observations about the various changes underway. (Thinking for example of Chris Reynolds and his Greenland observations that were recently noted in the "Record dominoes 12" thread.) There are people here with the potential to dig around and find more things like this. I am not yet one of them. But again, what really is interesting to me is that there are so many different connections to be made (like storms over weak ice, to keep this somehwhat close to the topic :) Do we have enough observational power to even know a fraction of what is going on out there? That quote from Mike Halpert really struck me. How can we get our science about this out of infancy, when the climate itself is changing right under out feet? Once the science is more clear about seasonal prediction, the time when those particular seasons actually existed is going to be history - meaning the PDO, ENSO, NAO and other factors that we've been analyzing historically are all going to be shifted, twisted and maybe even eradicated to some degree. And what we learned in the process of making those seasonal predictions is not going to be helpful for understanding the new state of things. We will be, in a very real way, dealing with an entirely new set of initial conditions, and an entirely new set of chaotic outcomes from such conditions. Again, this points strongly to the need for more emphasis on observation, and for less faith in modeling.
Hey LRC, looks like e360 changed the format of their links - the above link is dead. But I think this is the one you were referring to:
Reading CO Bob's link also made my mind ping over to something I read on TWC this morning: "The science behind seasonal prediction is in its infancy," said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. "Despite recent advances, this year's winter outlook has been difficult." Halpert added that the trend toward and then away from El Nino conditions is unique. "We really haven't seen it before. When we reach a certain threshold by August or September, we always proceed into El Nino," said Halpert. "It is incredibly unique in 60 years of data, which is a relatively small sample size." So, the science behind seasonal prediction is in its infancy, at the same time AGW is going to change pretty much everything under the sun with our climate? OK... (...wait! We have a model for that... actually, no, we don't. But maybe our model can teach us something, like how much energy it takes to cool a city block's worth of supercomputers.) Could the freaky El Nino behavior be distantly related to the Antarctic changes mentioned above? Could it be related to the recent Arctic changes? Both at once and more besides? Yes, it could. As Neven was already getting at with his "Why Arctic sea ice shouldn't leave anyone cold" thread, the basic premise of this great blog is slightly cockeyed. It can't realistically be just "Arctic Sea Ice" when it is really about the whole dang she-bang. Cool! Suddenly I am happy again. :)
Colorado Bob's link is bone chilling. Fasten your seatbelt, Sam? More like jump off an airplane and try to invent a parachute on your way down, as I heard it expressed so well recently. '-) As one scientist reported in that link, no, they are not being alarmist. Just reporting some interesting facts. To steer this back to the post, of course the Great Ocean Conveyor is one very big piece of the puzzle to what is going on in ASI and Arctic weather in general. I had thought the various inertial factors would give us some time before there was a possibility there could be a widespread global failure or slowdown of the GOC. If this article is close to the truth, we may be much closer to the edge than even most "alarmists" had feared. Damn.
Hey guys, really glad that helped!
Toggle Commented Oct 18, 2012 on Record dominoes 12: CT SIA anomaly at Arctic Sea Ice
Great post. Thanks, Neven.
Regarding the sign-in issues, in case it may help: It have been able to sign-in using TypePad directly, but was not seeing the "Post a comment" box. This was the same with FF, Chrome or Safari. I have just noticed that if I check the "Remember me" box, the "Post a comment" box is now visible. I don't ever recall having to check that box before. I just confirmed this, and it is still the same. Just wanted to share this info in case it is relevant, or helps anyone else get signed on and posting.
Toggle Commented Oct 17, 2012 on Record dominoes 12: CT SIA anomaly at Arctic Sea Ice
Ggelsrinc: I don't think it's insane to fight against superior odds, where sound judgment says you are going to lose. I don't think I'm unique by being that way and somebody put to the test will do the same. One of my favorite quotes, from Emiliano Zapata: It is better to die on your feet that to live on your knees. I have every intention of going down fighting, if I have to. The fight won't be against Nature but against the very likely totalitarian ugliness that will break out at some point. I am as married to our broken systems just as much as anyone else, mostly just by being alive and wrapped in the technology of our modern culture, but I do what I can to fall more towards the side of sanity, in various ways large and small, like making a conscious choice not to have children. What I mean by "insane" is this: our cultural consciousness and "ways of being" in the world, whether liberal environmentalist or redneck, or budding Asian middle-class wannabe or dying EU denizen - all our very matter-of-fact and "normal" attitudes about how the world works, all of these are utterly disconnected from reality. What reality? Of course, just the larger reality of being mammals on Earth, and everything that implies. Being human and creating real "newness" in the world always has the touch of Icarus about it. So much so that one would think there might be a more generalized awareness, and conscious avoidance, of taking things too far. But that lesson hasn't gotten into our genetics yet, and that is the real problem. What we can do to change course, and the worthiness of fighting for the light and finding some way to save ourselves - I am all for this. Unfortunately our tendencies so far in these directions are still wrapped up in all the confusion of our "old ways." Back to the topic! I would peg the likelihood of a whack in the 2013 max, big enough to get more attention, at no more than about 20%. Nature just seems to have a diabolical way of stringing this out in such a way that we (the larger "we") keep getting lulled to sleep again and again. Honestly, that infuriates me almost as much as the denialists!
Toggle Commented Oct 15, 2012 on Naive Predictions of 2013 Sea Ice at Arctic Sea Ice
Michael, you are right that high-altitude sulfur clouds will cause drought. By the time it is clear enough to everyone that we are in a truly desperate state, this will be sold as a benefit of sulfate geoengineering. Number one, because everyone will be thinking "how could it be any worse than this?" and number two, because we will be well-aware by then that increased flooding due to the increased evaporation cycle has gone into the realm of totally intolerable. So the very likely side-effects of slowing the evaporation cycle will look like a potential salvation, even though it will be completely unpredictable, in any real sense, just how these "benefits" will play out. It is becoming rapidly clear that the only thing that will stop geoengineering will be economic and other pressing difficulties that just overwhelm the kind of widely organized response that geoengineering would require. It is clear for one reason: our climate really is going off the rails, and everyone will know it sooner or later. Sure, it takes longer to wake up to this than it does to stormtroopers marching into Poland, but that only means the response, when it finally happens, will the all the more desperate and far-reaching. All that said, we are already well down the path of insanity on our current course, and the time of geoengineering, if we still have the power to even attempt it, is only going to be the final, thrashing death of our Great Global Civilization. What comes after, whether we can find a way to be in harmony with it, eventually, or not, will be Nature doing her beautiful and completely impersonal geoengineering like she always does.
Toggle Commented Oct 15, 2012 on Naive Predictions of 2013 Sea Ice at Arctic Sea Ice
Aaron Lewis: The real solutions of population control and conservation have been ruled out as "politically unacceptable" Not to worry, Nature has the real solutions well in hand. Ohio and Florida don't have any say in the matter, either. Yes, a few companies could try to make some money off of geoengineering, but they won't. Ultimately, because no one will stand for it. By that time, people, pretty much everyone, will be well aware that our climate is screwed. They will know who profited the most from the screwing as well. Those same companies are the ones who would be the best equipped to build the big projects that will be attempted. There is an excellent chance they would be nationalized almost instantly, when it gets down to it. You can bet there would be a full-scale revolution underway before anyone allows those same companies to profit off of geoengineering, temporarily successful or not. The ugliness and desperation that is going to be unleashed when the blinders finally fall away is going to be absolutely astonishing. No, no one will be profiting, thank God. We will be in an effort that makes WWII look like a quick trip to the corner store to get some milk. Sacrifice will be so suddenly and deeply part of the mix that profiteers of any kind will likely be dealt with in short order.
Toggle Commented Oct 14, 2012 on Naive Predictions of 2013 Sea Ice at Arctic Sea Ice
For my take on naive/intuitive predictions for 2013, it seems like there will be some point where there has to be a breakdown in the maximum part of the cycle, similar to what happened with the minimum breakdown in 2007. This breakdown will likely be foreshadowed by the appearance of several different 'wacky' changes, similar to what Werther mentions just above and what is being looked for in other parts of this thread. Certainly the volume decrease has passed the wacky point. Whether the various oceanic and atmospheric mechanisms will join in the fun yet...? The big question: is what we saw with the 2012 minimum, and the intense summer storms of 2012, part of this signal? Like a dark, cloaked figure pointing a very long, very bony finger, down into an even darker tunnel. I do think it could be any time, and it probably will be hard to miss. It will be the effect of a cause that we are still blind to, but this effect will only allow a freeze-up that is well outside the bounds of what we've seen in the last 20 years. Isn't it fun knowing that our climate instability really is like a hidden bomb in some wild techno-thriller movie? Those red LEDs just keep on ticking... The fact that we had the setup of this phenomenal low in 2012, without much or any of the pro-low conditions we had in 2007, makes me think there is a very decent chance these decisive wacky patterns could appear this winter cycle, and we might see something strikingly new in the 2013 max.
Toggle Commented Oct 14, 2012 on Naive Predictions of 2013 Sea Ice at Arctic Sea Ice
R. Gates: this beautiful planet has survived much worse than anything humans can throw at it The rest of your comment I agree with, but this one part is not quite accurate, I believe. What we have thrown at this planet easily compares with any of the great traumatic and sudden events of the planet's history (except for the very first birth trauma where a planetary body the size of Mars whacked the hell out of our place and created the moon.) This is why our age, aside from now being known as the Anthropocene, is also known as the Sixth Great Extinction. What we are doing (and it has only really gotten going just now) is already ranked as similar to the previous five Great Extinction events. But yes, the planet will continue on, and will thrive in new ways. But all this relates to what seems to be missed again and again, especially in the discussions of geoengineering and alternative energy technology. It is all about the scale of things. Effectively everything we have built to date rides on the back of cheap fossil fuels. Massive, and seemingly inexhaustible quantities of what has been essentially magic pixie dust, that we have used to gild our globe with endless wonders. Now it is starting to look like the pixies are growing tired, and yet we are still married to every magical way of being and thinking they have shared with us. Yes, we can build solar, wind, and who knows what else, while we still have some love from the pixies. But how much? How will we do this while we also ask them to take care of all the trillions of dollars in deferred maintenance in the rest of our infrastructure, in the USA alone? I imagine that there will be one day, perhaps five hundred or so years from now, when a mother and daughter walk the trails of North America. They come across the vast tracks of the open pit tar sand mines, and the astounding rusting and crumbling remains of whatever geoengineering schemes we cook up. The daughter looks to mom and says "Mommy, what is all this stuff?" Mom says "This is what remains of the Great Global Civilization. They built these things and dug those pits at the very end. By then they had been insane for quite some time. They just hadn't realized it yet." I would dearly hope some of our remaining power is used to radically prepare for what is really coming. We need to protect, as deeply as possible (maybe in a literal sense), what knowledge we have gained. We need to build resilient systems and new technology that can survive great planetary change. That is where I would like our energy to be focused. Not on any more schemes to save the systems we are still insanely married to at this time.
Toggle Commented Oct 12, 2012 on Naive Predictions of 2013 Sea Ice at Arctic Sea Ice
I think Werther's post further up is a great summary of our predicament. It’s a sort of law of thermodynamics, the combined EROEI of the whole fossil fuel age would maybe be reduced to practically zero. It may be even worse than this. Burning things is taking things from a highly concentrated energy state to a lower, more dispersed state. All the FF carbon was/is very concentrated, in tiny areas of volume relative to the top few miles of the Earth's crust taken in total. Now this carbon is effectively everywhere, and we are thinking, hmm, how can we counteract its effects? How much energy is that going to take? Maybe it would be good to think about just how much energy, and time, went into getting the carbon from its previously dispersed low energy state into the concentrated FF state in the first place. As a guesstimate, approximately a hundred million years of sunlight and photosynthesis went into that process. How much energy is that? It could be roughly calculated, but I am sure it is unimaginably enormous. So, we burn it, get the goodies, and then think, OK, let's find a way to put the genie back in the bottle. Barring the sudden intervention of alien technology, that is probably not going to happen. Then we think about the need to stop burning the FFs, or at least not so much - and then when we think about how much energy will be required to build and maintain the thorium reactors, solar installations and zillions of other alternatives necessary to maintain a state of energy flow even close to where we are now. And then... I think we are adaptable and clever enough to survive and possibly even thrive on some reduced population level even in the Hothouse, but that is about as undefeated as I can get at the moment.
Toggle Commented Oct 11, 2012 on Naive Predictions of 2013 Sea Ice at Arctic Sea Ice
(Please note, my smiley face comment was written and posted before I saw your post, Joe. Sorry about that!) The question of a planetary reset is very disturbing, and will of course affect the youngest of us the most. As much as I see things unfolding in a troubling way, and think there may be a larger purpose to that, I never lose sight of the very real impact this will have on countless lives.
Joe Smith, you and your son have my deepest sympathy. I am very sorry to hear what happened, but very glad to hear your son will avoid all permanent damage. I like your larger wish. You are very right, the ASI consequences are so large they will inevitably touch us far deeper, in many ways, than we are likely prepared for.
(if you are both guys that is! :)
Lol! (Clue)^2 Thank guys. Sorry Gwynne!
...Dodger, Lodger, or just A/D? :) I also didn't know enough to give prominence to Gwynne, although the quality of her article should have clued me in. Anyways... it is great.
Totally agreed, Dodger. I'll keep that in mind! (I almost considered keeping my yap shut your as you post was much better than mine at drawing attention.)
Thanks, Lodger, but I beat you to it! Same article, different link. Really is an awesome piece though - a must read. Yes, Jim. Totally understood. Given just that fact that we really don't have a lot of ice caps to model against, you'd think there would be waaaaay more caution, I mean statements along the lines of "this model is almost certainly worthless, but it is a stab at something!" Much more prominence to this, or we (the general public "we") will be seriously mislead. Given NeilT's last note in the PIOMAS thread about how PIOMAS was misled by satellites not correctly measuring MYI, my jaw just about hit the floor that no-one has realized this puts PIOMAS very close to the "not even wrong" category. Come on! MYI is central to everything PIOMAS was trying to accomplish. That is not just a small boo-boo. No way no how - it blows it basically out of any further discussion unless anyone has come along since and made some serious adjustments. Haven't heard about that at all. Do you think a boo-boo like that is the only misadventure we are having with Artic measurements? Not a chance. It is a very long list, and that is just the things we know about measuring. Those wonderful unknown unknowns are all over the place. Just wish people would be more cautious about pronouncements that "this can't happen!" or "that will happen!" Nature has this ugly and painful habit lately of clonking us over the head saying "Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!" Are we listening, or still playing pretend fantasy camp science where we really shouldn't be?
Really cool to see the complexity discussion, the fast-moving nature of what we are facing, making it out further and further. This is a great example of several recent articles along these lines I have seen popping up here and there. From a link right here: "The temperate zone has been seeing a lot of that sort of thing in the past couple of years — much more than usual. It’s cutting deeply into food production in the major breadbaskets of the planet, like the U.S. Midwest and southern Russia, which is why food prices are going up so fast. And this was an “unknown unknown”: nobody saw it coming." Joe Six-Pack: "But we had models, didn't we? We were told we had some time!" Researcher: "Well, we had fake models, and maybe, after all, we actually have no time. Sorry about that! Here, eat a bug..." Jim, You think we maybe we should have a really good General Systems model in place before we should try anything more micro?
Chris, others: As I said: "this question could belong in this PIOMAS thread as well as anywhere else, I believe, but correct me if I am wrong" Of course I meant that. I respect the unspoken rules here, and apologize for being OT in larger and smaller ways as I have been. "If I am wrong," fine! - there isn't any problem dropping it or taking this elsewhere. PIOMAS is an important model, and one I have been following a long time. It looked like PIOMAS was doing well. Now it seems it may be off a bit. Possibly a big bit. I am personally disappointed about that. So thinking about that more, I started thinking even more about the value of what even the best Arctic models are predicting. Chris: "all models are wrong, but some are useful." - completely agree. The distinction has to be made where models fall on the (not even wrong)<------------>(very very useful) scale. Volume is key to larger models, and my thinking about PIOMAS still possibly getting it way wrong leads me down this train of thought. "Storms don't have memory like sea ice!" Thanks for pointing that out. Both memory and chaos work on a variety of scales, in time and space - that was my point. How does the larger-scale memory of sea ice work with the larger-scale chaotic factors? Any solid basis for thinking we have a handle on that? Even close to having a handle on that? Personally, I have come to the conclusion that we are very possibly just dorking around in the land of folly with Arctic models that are trying anything better than "hey, the ice will melt!" - on the 10-100 year scale. And that is with all due respect to my intellectual superiors - and also does not include my feeling about global AGW models. There is a reason Pauli came up with that brilliant turn of words. Please read: Especially the part: "cannot be used to make predictions about the natural world." For my last word on this, I will leave it with God. Or at least Feynman. Close enough for me. "I can live with doubt and uncertainty. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong."
Chris Reynolds: "Why not try reading some of the science?" I have been reading the science, published research papers, since just a few years after I was old enough to read. Being born into a family of hard-core scientists makes that rather easy. I helped my parents feed stacks of punch cards into now-ancient university computer systems in order to complete statistical runs on their PhD work when I was very young. I was also programming on machines that were just a bit less ancient than that. Having extended convos with my dad on many of the ASI issues, and pretty much all of the extended AGW issues, being discussed here, when I was seven, also gave me a bit of a heads up. I was also aware of what Hansen was researching a while before his first presentation to congress. Model deficiencies, assimilating models, initial conditions, chaos, etc, are all very old hat for me. "Having now read a fair amount you might be able to see why comparing tropical storm behaviour to sea ice is fatuous" Hint: Why do you think I said the hurricane model prediction I was talking about is "strictly impossible" ? (Answer: Chaos and initial conditions.) "You might then wonder if there is something in the atmospheric situation that's adding to ice loss, an element the models are missing." This is exactly the point I was making. Why do you think it could be just "an element" ? There are currently dozens of elements feeding into this, many of which we have missed entirely until very recently, many of which we are probably still missing, and yes, probably many of which are interacting chaotically. Memory in physical systems appears in many ways. Storms leave various traces behind that serve as memory that affects storms after them, as one example. Still the overall situation is chaotic and unpredictable past a certain horizon. Yes, it will all melt via AGW. That is certain. If we know that already, what, then, are we trying to achieve with the Arctic models, and is it realistically approachable? (I completely respect the people and their efforts going into this. That's beside the point.) When and how it comes across to the larger public that Arctic changes are drastically impacting us, they will look at the work the modellers have done, and say, what the hell? If you think a few city and state governments and their citizens can get worked up about hurricane forecasts and their fallibility, you ain't seen nothing yet. It would be wise to get a handle exactly on what we are trying to achieve, what we are capable of achieving, and get this clear to the public in advance.