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Lewis Cleverdon
central Wales
started growing up in'68. still working on it.
Interests: coppice forestry , global commons institute focus on Contraction & Convergence, public understanding of feedbacks & the need of albedo restoration
Recent Activity
With electricity supplied by Li ion batteries weighing ~ 1.0kg per 250 Wh of rated capacity, of which ~20% must be retained as an unused reserve, the key question apparently remains one of how to store, or generate, sufficient power for prolonged flight. To quantify this problem it can be seen that current batteries to supply 800kWhs would weigh ~ 4.0 tonnes. The Wuhan research doesn't mention the level of power required for its plasma drive when scaled up to equal the output of a normal plane's jet engine, which presumably indicates that it is not low enough to resolve the power supply question. Is this correct ? Batteries with better p/w ratios will no doubt be developed, but it is unclear to me how soon that might provide an affordable solution, or how that compares with a solution being found via a sustainable biofuel-cell approach (e.g. Native Coppice Forestry for charcoal + methanol [CH3OH] with the latter reformed on board and used in a high efficiency fuel cell). Regards, Lewis
Neven - to what extent does the pronounced cold patch east of Spitzbergen in the SST Anomalies plot reflect a lack of penetration by the Gulf Stream ? Here in Britain we had a very warm summer until the start of August, so there should presumably have been plenty of heat heading north. Regards, Lewis
Toggle Commented Aug 24, 2014 on ASI 2014 update 8: neck and neck at Arctic Sea Ice
Neven wrote: "We see the drastic changes in the Arctic, we know there's around 1500 Gt of methane in the Arctic Ocean's seabed, and so it's quite legitimate to think about worst case scenarios, in this case a rapid release of just 3% of those methane stores." An aspect of the Archer-Wadhams debate that Ned and others here have yet to assimilate is that a 50Gt CH4 bomb (~3.3% of ESAS stock) is not the threshold for a terminal impact. A mere 1Gt CH4 annual output (0.067% of ESAS stock) poses a terminal threat in its consequences. Over the critical 20yr timeframe its CO2e of 105Gts would impose an additional warming equal to roughly a quadrupling of present anthro-CO2 outputs. While the CO2e of CH4 does decline by year 100 to around 23, an annual 1.0Gt CH4/yr output would mean that what happens 100 years hence would no longer be of any concern to humans. To put that 1.0Gt/yr output into perspective, it equates to about 10 new China's-worth of emissions, continuing for an open ended period. Its impact on the six other already-accelerating interactive mega-feedbacks -(of Water Vapour, Albedo Loss, Microbial Peat Decay, Permafrost Melt, Forest Combustion and Soil Desiccation) would, undoubtedly, be profoundly destabilizing. Ned's notion that 1C of anthro-warming plus 0.2C of clathrate-CH4 warming then generates only 0.04C of subsequent clathrate warming, not only massively understates the ratio of anthro to clathrate warming potentials at 5 : 1, it also ignores both the direct and timelagged feedback-interaction warmings, that are now driven not by 1.0C but by 1.2C. Morever, given that most of the combined feedback warming must go into the oceans, whose waters then circulate though the Arctic including over the ESAS, it seems scarcely credible to propose that a clathrate output would be constrained to just 1.0Gt CH4/yr. While the belief in an effective resolution of AGW by Emissions Control alone is already patently delusional for reasons of physics, not politics, the scale of the potential feedback warming driven by 1.0Gt CH4/yr is beyond the viable control capacity of any Albedo Restoration technology that I've heard of. It is for this reason that it can fairly be described as a 'terminal impact'. Regards, Lewis
Toggle Commented Aug 2, 2013 on Arctic time bombs at Arctic Sea Ice
Does anyone have a topographic map showing access channels from the sea to the interior of the GIS ? If so, please could they get it posted ? The one above kindly posted by Kevin clearly shows 3 low points in the mountain ring, but no means of sea access. Large surface melt pools within the mountains' internal watershed (which increase in number annually as they gain altitude each year) have been observed to drain very fast once their moulin gets 'unplugged', indicating an extant arterial system of a large capacity, which must logically form a riverene pattern flowing to the lowest point in the bowl. From this it follows that melt water from 100s of kms south must feed through arteries to the lowest point, before meeting arteries from just inside the watershed at Jacobshaven, which are now acting as outflow channels. This would imply that each melt season a watertable rises above the level of the 3 outlets, lubricating their glaciers but also softening the interior ice by raising its temperature. Can anyone clarify whether or not interior collapses are to be expected ? Their blocking of the arterial system would greatly raise the watertable in summer, degrading ice higher in the sheet. On being flushed out, increased internal voids holding additional meltwater would be formed, raising the annual heat transfer. With the GIS being over 100 to 1 in width to height, and with surface melt pools occurring further inland each year, an inland collapse of the sheet into an open annually expanding lake on a latitude with Jacobshaven would seem the logical outcome of that hypothetical internal collapse process. A critical set of data that would at least clarify the rate of increase of meltwater input is the area within the ring watershed where melt-pools are forming. If anyone can post a link, I'd be most grateful. Regards, Lewis
Neven - thanks for your response. I guessed that other issues might have pushed that of the cryoconites off the writing to-do list. The reason I'd urge a fresh focus on them is that the propensity to snow droughts under the rising occurrence of the Greenland high seems to me pretty much ideal for the acceleration of their expansion across the GIS. If it is correct that the entrained and windborne dust have no significant darkening effect, as the clean white ice under emptied melt-lakes attests, then it is the microbial component of cryoconites that are capable of imposing very significant albedo loss to coincide with the peak of the melt season. Given that the melt area since '79 has on average extended right across the GIS as far north as 67 degrees (NSIDC), and that this releases water through the permeable surface to form a fairly impermeable ice layer at the level that it freezes, the cryoconites' need to be able to form mini-pools is increasingly being met across potentially huge areas of what has been the accumulation zone as the accumulation declines. In effect the ablation zone is gaining elevation, which is critical to the rate at which the ice-sheet's internal decay advances. To my mind it is not simply the area of additional melt lakes forming over newly impermeable ice that is troubling, but their location. For example, along the west coast for each five metres of extra altitude melt-lakes form at, there is around 1,000 kms2 of extra area whose moulins deliver melt water within the bedrock watershed to increase the retained water under the ice cap. We already have around 60,000 kms2 in the SW and 20,000 kms2 in the SE whose melt-lake moulins are within the watershed and are feeding that reservoir (as can be seen by overlaying the watershed and maximum melt-lake altitude lines on a topographical map). Moreover that water is not heading for Jacobshaven but for the lowest point it can find, specifically the 300km-wide depression at about 68 degrees North. Only when the water-table in the arterial melt-water system and in any caverns it carves out exceeds the level of the bedrock watershed inland of Jacobshaven does it start to overflow to the sea. And at the end of the melt season and the end of that outflow it then has all winter to transfer its heat into the base of the ice sheet. From this perspective the potential of snow droughts to assist the cryoconite microbial ecology's expansion not only along the coasts but also up and across higher elevations looks like a highly significant factor in the coming GIS melt rate, and in the advance of the date where the ice-sheet base is decayed to the point of starting to collapse into its underlying water reservoir. All of which of course demands the caveat of: "if we failed to apply effective geo-engineering to cool the arctic while we still have the geopolitical stability to agree to do so." Regards, Lewis
Espen - I was aware of the Coppinger report from C19 but I hadn't seen a scan of it - so thanks for that. I wonder just what other feedbacks' quiet acceleration has been ignored - given that the IPCC can't even report properly on the majors such as permafrost thaw, I suspect there will be more 'surprises' awaiting us. Regards, Lewis
P-maker - you could do with checking the Royal Society's definition of geo-engieering before indulging your imagination. You might also want to check the figures for cumulative emissions - those of the EU are way beyond China's. Some geography study might be helpful too, concerning the area of the GIS, on which anthropogenic deposition appears to be a rather minor factor in current albedo decline. With regard to your not being in favour of geoengineering, how many dark-skinned people need to be starving (and they will be first against the wall) before you think it's an essential expedient ? I'm looking for an order of magnitude here, not a specific number. Regards, Lewis
Glacierchange - thanks for the link to the very interesting paper by Wientjes et al. I'm struck by the fact that while it cites four of Prof. Takeuchi's papers, it neither supports nor challenges his finding that the area of cryoconites is expanding. Of the five main classes of contaminants identified, anthropogenic deposits appear a minor factor, with higher concentrations in the ablation zone - but since it is an ablation zone, is it not predictable that they would be more concentrated there than in the accumulation zone ? Moreover, the clean white ice of emptied melt pools (with no visible dust streaks on the bottom of the bath) remains a stark contrast to surrounding areas where microbial activity has developed cryoconites, indicating that dust entrained in the ice is not itself a darkening factor, but in 'fertilizing' microbial ecologies it contributes indirectly to that darkening. Or am I missing something? With regard to the expansion of cryoconite production, I wonder if you know of any research showing that the present darkened area has a particular entrained-dust signature that is not available elsewhere ? If there is no such limiting factor, then given unconstrained warming Takeuchi's expectation of an expansion across the GIS would appear logical. Regards, Lewis
Neven - I'm puzzled by the general lack of discussion of the cryoconite issue as a potentially major factor in GIS albedo loss. According to satellite imagery their darkening effect spreads uphill each spring over fresh snow, tracking the filling of the melt-lakes. An article on Japanese GIS research included the following: - The Tokyo Institute of Technology and Chiba University have been observing cryoconites since the 1990s and have reported that they accelerate the speed at which ice melts. Professor Nozomu Takeuchi of the Faculty of Science at Chiba University thought that "microbe populations may be growing in the polar regions due to warming," so he analyzed past satellite imagery of Greenland. He says the area covered by the blackish ice has been spreading inland from the coasts over the years. "There's no doubt the stains are from microbes. I think it's only a matter of time before they cover the entire ice sheet,” said Takeuchi, who has visited the ice sheet. “Changes in the ecosystem on the ice could significantly alter the Earth's environment." - The first two links below are to images taken on July 4 & August 17 2010 by NASA's EO-1 of an area of SW Greenland centered on 68.91N & 48.54W, with the second two being enlargements of the ~6km lake in those images' upper left. The degree of darkening shown is plainly not the uniform coverage that airborne dust and soot would provide, and it is emphasized by the contrast in the latter two images between exposed ice and ice shielded by meltwater that then drained away. Given the year on year ascent of the melt-lakes accompanied by the cryoconites, how about a post on the prognosis for the latters' influence on the rate of GIS albedo loss and consequent melt-rate ? Regards, Lewis
A further feedback seems predictable from the expansion of thermokarst pool terrains and also landslip dam-lakes interacting with the increasing prevalence of deciduous shrubs and tree species over what had previously been essentially tundra grasses, sedges, etc. Positing 5Ts dry matter in the leaf-fall per hectare would give around 2.5MTs Carbon per MHa (10,000km2). Unlike dead grasses dead leaves are shed and will tend to blow across open country, with pools being a prime trap for them. For each megatonne of leaf-carbon entering the pools and rotting anaerobically, there is a potential emission of 1.25MTs CH4. With the same volume of carbon rotting aerobically to 3.664MTs CO2, and CH4 having around 100 times the GWP of CO2 over the critical 20-year time horizon, deciduous leaves rotting anaerobically would raise their carbon outputs' CO2e value about 34-fold. The significance of this potential feedback depends on the areas of permafrost going to open water and to deciduous plant cover, as well as on their proximity. Notably the potential land areas are very large indeed. Should anyone find studies relating to this aspect of the arctic problematique I'd be much obliged if they'd post a link. Regards, Lewis
I'm sorry to see such irrational defeatism here on ASI regarding the efficacy of albedo restoration and carbon recovery, though it's heartening that at least the assessment of the futility of an 'emissions-control-only' strategy stands unchallenged. With respect, the claim that 'It is too late' to apply geo-engineering effectively makes no sense, given that our incidental release of fossil sulphates is currently masking over 50% of warming - according to the mean finding of no less a pair of scientists than Hansen & Sato. While additional sulphates are patently not the best choice for albedo restoration, it is very plain that global SA temperature is being, and can be, controlled. Finding and deploying the best means of doing so is already occupying numerous scientists and while it will not be achieved overnight, it is both eminently feasible and patently urgently necessary. Such is the catastrophic warming to which we are now committed that, even with best efforts at emissions control, this is not a free choice; given the alternative of serial global crop failure and geopolitical destabilization and conflict, it is an unavoidable expedient. That the practice of geo-engineering would need to be maintained (to some degree) while anthro GHG output is ended (2050?), and airborne anthro CO2 is fully recovered (2100?), and excess oceanic heat dissipated (2250?), does not diminish its practicality in the slightest; it merely indicates the duration of the task. What the scope of the task indicates strongly is that those techniques that offer multiple benefits, particularly including some self-funding potential, should be pursued as priorities. Both the extraction of Gulfstream heat for liquid fuel synthesis and a global afforestation program for biochar and coproduct methanol exemplify this criterion. Quite how many years it will take for techniques to be applied to restore the PI SAT, and thus how much further the feedbacks will accelerate before most are stopped by lack of heat, is an open question. I'd well agree that there may be a cut-off point - as in a Shakhova-style eruption of clathrates' methane - beyond which albedo restoration would likely be ineffective. To respect that window of viability what counts is just how soon the necessary international adamant demand for very specific effective action can be assembled, from which the decisions over well-supervised trials and deployments flow. Those who've overlooked these realities to date would do well to reconsider their defeatism - and most definitely to avoid voicing it in public fora - for the propagation of defeatism is at least as damaging to the urgent necessity of assembling effective demand for political action as the ramblings of the paid pseudo-skeptic deniers. Perhaps more so given ordinary peoples' propensity to jump from "It's not happening" to "There's nothing we can do about it." As has been pointed out before, what is said here matters. Regards, Lewis
Toggle Commented Oct 11, 2012 on Naive Predictions of 2013 Sea Ice at Arctic Sea Ice
Chuck - with regard to viewing rapid renewable energy investment as an alternative to the requisite Albedo Restoration mode of geo-engineering, I'd respectfully differ with you for three reasons. First, renewable energy offers a partial solution to the energy fraction of our future CO2 emissions, which are only a fraction of our future GHG emissions. No amount of investment in them can address more than a minor fraction of the problem we face. Second, any fossil fuels locally displaced by renewable energies are being bought and burned elsewhere, and despite major REs' deployment-spending, the FFs' volume burnt is still rising inexorably (despite a slump arguably worse than the '30s since we lack the cheap energy and collective politics to climb out of it). In my view FF usage is likely to rise until after the agreement of a stringent global climate treaty that caps and allocates tradable declining national emissions budgets. Only that treaty can end the bought-&-burnt-elsewhere syndrome. Free Market shills and dupes, and the latters' sites such as Grist, HuffPo, Climate Progress and others, may ignore both that syndrome and the question of how cheap fossil fuels would become if renewables eventually took say a third of the world energy market - but that is their problem, not mine: I merely point it out now and again. Third, our best efforts at emissions control, say an early stringent treaty that cuts global GHG outputs to near zero by 2050, entailing full scale renewables' adoption, is not remotely commensurate with the problem we face:- - Summing the realized warming of 0.8C, plus the timelagged pipeline output of 0.7C, plus the phase-out emissions' output of 0.6C, equals 2.1C. - Ending emissions also ends our upkeep of the cooling 'sulphate parasol', which Hansen et al report will unveil a mean rise of 110% of warming (+/-30%), which would yield 4.41C (+/-0.6C), timelagged after 2050 to be fully realized around 2080. - In the continually intensifying warming over the intervening 68 years, we can be very confident that the six out of seven interactive mega-feedbacks that are already accelerating would contribute major additional warming, as would the methyl clathrates under those conditions. As a measure of just how remote those 'best efforts' at emissions control would be from a commensurate response to our predicament, it's worth considering just how much global food production is being affected by the climate destabilization due to a mere 0.8C of global warming. In short, a failure to include the mandating of accountable scientific supervision of both Albedo Restoration and Carbon Recovery in an equitable and efficient global climate treaty would be the pivotal failure to address the problem. We've reached the point where it needs saying that those who claim otherwise either haven't been paying close attention (no blame is implied: it is a foul issue to study) or in some cases have some political motive driving them to mislead people. Fortunately it seems that, due in large part to the feedback's role in sea-ice loss, there is a wave of recognition under way that poses a step-change in the motivation for collective action, as well as for a fresh assessment of just what demands need to be focussed where - so maybe as individuals we can engage with others in advancing the common purpose. If you or others have thoughts on aspects of the above - I'd be glad to hear them. Regards, Lewis
Toggle Commented Oct 10, 2012 on Naive Predictions of 2013 Sea Ice at Arctic Sea Ice
Ggelsrinc - While I too would doubt the practicality of directly manufacturing ice in significant volumes, I've no doubt of the need to reverse its decline, or of the confidence of scientists of renown that there are indeed attainable options for doing so. The writings of professors Wadhams, Salter and Caldiera are worth studying in this regard. As you may know, Professor Salter was the originator of the 'Cloud Brightening' concept (by means of lofting seawater mist several thousand feet from wind-powered vessels) which may be particularly appropriate for targetted use over the arctic ocean in summer. He and a Dr Latham have worked on the dynamics and engineering for over a decade, but it's still some years off. Another possibility (merely a surmise on my part) on which I'd be glad of feedback, is that of robbing heat from the Gulf Stream before it reaches the arctic, by means of barrages of Marine Heat Pump Energy Technology and possibly Ocean Thermal Energy Technology (if the temp differential were enough), with the potentially massive power output used for liquid fuel production, apart from a fraction transmitted to urban blots in Europe. This benign larceny would offer four main benefits: - it's active year round against the most advanced mega-feedback; - it's potentially self-funding in deployment after R&D; - it's providing non-fossil energy; - and it's mitigating the rising impact of Peak Traded Oil on geo-economic and thus geo-political coherence that threatens the entire mitigation effort. If it could be done, 'twere well it were done well, and soon. Regards Lewis
Toggle Commented Oct 10, 2012 on Naive Predictions of 2013 Sea Ice at Arctic Sea Ice
My thanks for the responses concerning the kinetic energy injected to the GIS by melt lakes' drainage. Johnm33 - if the bedrock were soft enough for flowing water to erode, surely we'd have seen the results being flushed out at Jakobshavn, Petermann, etc ? From this perspective making arteries wider in ice on bedrock would seem a more likely event, allowing larger surface areas for heat transfer while the water backs up waiting to reach an exit. Steve C - I'd agree that ice near the bedrock likely isn't very far below freezing given the constant upflow of heat energy from below, but we'd differ over the speed water needs to move at to avoid freezing - we've had -20C in the last few winters here and as long as the last tap is allowed to trickle, the whole system stays liquid. If we could rig it I think I'd bet a good bottle of wine against your confidence that the moulins would feed channels essentially sloping continuously to the sea. I'd expect them to have made routes down to the lowest point, and then to fill all voids until the level of an exit was reached, after which repeated annual flows would expand the routes leading to it. Given the south to north annual development of melt lakes, and the fact that the lowest point of the depression is far to the north with numerous feeds along the way, arteries running full length if the ER seem predictable, but to what extent they keep going or stop and freeze up each winter is debatable. If the latter, how much heat energy is transferred to the surrounding ice? And what happens to incoming melt water next season ? Perhaps fresh channels are cut beside and over the old ones each year ? Given that a mean of 2,000ms of ice exerts a pressure of around 2,800psi, I'd suspect that major change will be occurring around arteries in ice that is nearing melting point and has lost significant structural integrity. The reduction to slush, being crushed ice plus melt water, would of course take far less heat energy than getting through the phase change. With this concern in view, I'm still looking for the numbers to describe the kinetic energy's input, on top of melt-lakes limited heat energy, to achieve that degree of warming. Lecollie - I'd well agree with the small actual melt ratio you enumerate, but the issue is a bit finer - it's about what fraction of that energy gets expressed as heat - by compressing air, friction, slamming into dead ends, pressure waves, etc. I'm sorry I should have made clear that getting through the phase change of unfreezing is not the primary issue. With thanks to all, any further thoughts would be much appreciated, regards, Lewis
Johnm33 - I'd like to help but I've been stumped by a parallel problem on the GIS, which may be far simpler in having fewer components but is beyond me, and that I'm hoping that you or anyone else might perhaps find intriguing. The issue is to identify the volume of ice melted within the ice cap by the kinetic energy delivered by a supraglacial lake suddenly emptying when its moulin unblocks. Teams from both Woods Hole and Aberystwyth Uni have witnessed such events, with the former reporting a "2kms diameter lake". . . "holding over 11 billion (US) gallons" . . . "emptying in two hours". My maths reliably gets me as far as an average of 6,000 tonnes/sec off 11Bn US Gls in two hours, but then as far as I can see from their report the lake was at about 700ms over bedrock that was about 200ms above sea-level, on the interior slope of Greenland's 'encircling ridge' [ER]. (The bedrock altitude numbers are as hazy as the poor best topographical map I can find). The height above sea level [asl] of the summer internal water table is unknown, as it the sum volume of myriad air-filled closed-top moulins above that water table, as is the sum area of open-topped moulins that had already drained their lakes. To disappear like that the water has to have gone into an extant void (equal to a 350m cube) or to have pushed other water out of the way, with 6,000Ts/sec flow being in part the measure of the resistance. The nearest low point in the ridge (100ms asl ?) was about 180kms north at Jacobshavn Isbrae, where some fraction of the island's summer water table finds its escape by pushing the glacier to go faster. Glaciologists refer to a 'conduit system' for these transport routes, but given the myriad melt-lakes emptying within the encircling ridge [ER], and the far greater distances that a good fraction are from any of the four low points in the ER, and that the lowest of these points (at Petermann Gl) appears to be ~50ms asl, perhaps 'hydro-vascular system' might be a more descriptive title. Recent research showed a mean diameter of melt lakes at over 1.0km, and a mean depth of 4 to 5ms, and that almost the full potential albedo loss effect occurs in water over 1.5ms deep, so there is substantial solar heat intake, but most will presumably go directly into melting ice on the lake bed, rather than down the moulin. So the larger issue here may be just what melting the kinetic energy of melt lakes' drainage would achieve, using the example of the Woods Hole 43.2MTs of water under the above conditions. Given that there are tens if not hundreds of thousands of melt lakes within the ER on the S,W,N & NE coasts, - and that as annual warming raises the altitude at which they form and as the slope they form on declines with height, this is generating both more numerous and larger additional lakes, - and that a large fraction of them and their drainage canals/gorges are being re-used and thus enlarged each year, - and that those collection systems will channel rainfall and its surface meltwater down the moulins as long as they remain open, - and that soon after the start of each melt season the standing volume of water in the 'arteries' below 50ms asl will have been flushed with a fresh intake to transfer its heat to the base of the ice cap, it appears that just how much melting is achieved by the kinetic energy of the melt lakes' drainage may matter rather a lot. It seems to me that we're looking not at 2.9Mkm^3 of ice just waiting to be exiled, but at 2.9M gigatonnes of ice at a mean height of ~2,000ms asl, with all of the potential energy that entails. From this perspective global warming and its feedbacks and multipliers are not so much melting the ice-sheet's surface as unlocking its inherently destructive potential energy - My maths won't get anywhere near a useful answer on this issue - such as they are my skills are in other fields - so I'd really appreciate any help available as it has me rather troubled. Regards, Lewis
Aaron - you're to be congratulated on your judgement - which would take some beating. WRT the GIC under increased water vapour, what effect, if any, should this have on the altitude at which melt lakes and moulins develop ? I gather they're limit had risen to something over 1400ms in 2010, but from around 1800ms on up the incline tends to get much shallower, favouring much larger lakes, and the vulnerable area gets much larger, allowing many more of them. Given that the great majority of such lakes south of about 73N already occur over the inner slopes of Greenland's 'encircling ridge' (all of 50ms high for some W, NW & NE stretches) then IF those lakes' moulins drop near-vertically (rather than tracking the slope to the coast for up to 60kms) they must presumably feed a central water table of some sort. From which perspective it would seem that bottom-melting/degrading might not be just an open ocean issue. Apart from the solar energy collected by the lakes, there is also the distinctly non-trivial energy delivered by several million tonnes of water suddenly draining in 2 hrs or less, and dropping potentially 1400ms (as witnessed at lesser altitudes by teams from both Woods Hole and Aberystwyth Uni). And such lakes have till now been around the mean of the range, and they are very numerous - Which leaves me rather puzzled - I can't find anything published on the rising energy injection of melt-lakes' solar or kinetic potentials and their likely scale of effect on the ice-cap's stability. Can you (or anyone else) post a link for anything useful & public that you know of ? Regards, Lewis
Chris - thanks for your response. "So I'll ask you the same question I asked of the denialists - If the models are useless and aren't able to reproduce what is going on then how do these model studies produce details of atmospheric behaviour that are seen in the real world? Yes the model projections of sea ice loss are unbelievably behind events. But that does not mean what the modellers are doing is futile. And it does not mean the models are useless. All models are wrong, the question is are they useful. And the answer to the is a resounding - Yes. " ________________________________ Given that I haven't, and wouldn't, suggest that "the models are useless" or futile, since such a position would be absurd as you suggest, I'm unclear why you pose these straw questions. We're agreed that the models (of sea-ice loss) are as you put it "incredibly behind events", which was the basis of my observation of the need of a pro-tem OUFI model expressing the extrapolated advance of observed arctic warming beyond that modelled off global warming - that could be attributed, as a working hypothesis, to feedback interactions. That numerical indicator of the growing risk of uncontrolled self-reinforcing arctic warming has no cogent scientific expression at the moment, and this forms a critical gap in the advice provided to the global negotiations, on which they are mandated to proceed. So no, I don't suggest that modelling is futile - it is absolutely central to the advancement of climate science - yet approaches that are as far off as the mean of sea-ice models cannot yet offer useful predictions - quite the contrary, they have turned out to have been seriously misleading. As I remarked, their improvement will of course be pursued, but with rising complexity of increasingly diverse interactions, no one could propose a delivery date on a reliably predictive comprehensive model of arctic warming. Hence the proposal for a fresh approach that will inform society in timely manner of the risk that it is wading into full steam ahead. Hoping this clarifies my position so that we may avoid further misunderstanding, regards, Lewis
Jim - thanks for your response. "I like the approach Lewis, but I'm not sure that risk analysis should be the climate modeler's or climatologist's job. (---) . . . The risk analysis is a function more appropriate to the military, or to some other body charged with decisionmaking in the face of unknown risks. It isn't appropriate for the people charged with reducing the quantity of unknowns as it will inappropriately color their analysis." I don't quite follow this, as it is only scientists who could credibly put together the required OUFI projections, and risk assessment is surely a large part of standard reporting, right down to how: "Doubling airborne CO2ppm would cause a warming of between 1.5C and 4.5C" The probability is assumed by the listener to be highest between the two, with a lower probability of either of the tail values, thus giving a basic risk assessment. A scientist such as Prof Bill McGuire, who runs Aeon-Benfield Hazard Research, and is entrusted with providing the policy advice on vulcanism-risk assessment by the trillion-dollar re-insurance giant, Munich Re, clearly has no problem with this clouding his judgement on vulcanism research, in which field I gather he is considered quite eminent. Or am I missing something ? Regards, Lewis
If it blathers unlike a duck - its due to natural cycles - and it boasts unlike a duck - I teach science teachers, mostly physics - and it smears unlike a duck - a full blown warmist propaganda blog - and then it whines unlike a duck - your comments are hurtful and libellous - then it ain't a duck it's a troll. The error is in feeding these parasites with any attention whatsoever, as it only encourages confidence in them (and in the commercial sponsors of paid shills) that they can distract significant sites' attention away from questioning just why commensurate action is blocked, and away from the pivotal scientific and political issues of just what the science indicates is needed as that commensurate response to anthropogenic climate destabilization. Regards, Lewis
Rob - "It looks like models have a hard time keeping up with the rapid changes of the Northern Hemisphere cryosphere that are unfolding as we speak. I start to wonder if maybe the changes we cause to our environment may unfold more rapidly than the improvement in the models that we need to project these changes." _______________________________ The rate of summer snow cover loss may well be as relevant to arctic warming as sea-ice loss, not merely in raised summer heat output from immense areas of warmed land to passing air-masses and rivers, but also in the similarly rising destabilization of sub-surface carbon stocks with high methane output potential. Yet I'd differ somewhat with your account of the modellers' predicament. Firstly, modelling isn't having a hard time keeping up, it has patently failed, drastically, to reflect the accelerating destabilization of arctic ice and carbon stocks. What is more, under the "anything-but-exponential hypothesis" the fact that decline trends show exponential rates is still conventionally dismissed as 'mere curve-fitting', while the objective is still seen to be defining the interactions of the underlying drivers and eventually building a usefully predictive model. Given the decades that modelling has failed in that attempt at defining interactions, and the lack of a maths capable of doing so even if the initial conditions could be observed down to the requisite resolution, it seems like a dangerous hubris to pursue models at the expense of acknowledging the observed obvious exponential changes now under way. That approach is not a victim-free error - for two decades it has misinformed the UNFCCC negotiations as to even which century would see fundamental destabilization of arctic norms and the consequences thereof, thus robbing the issue of its real urgency, leaving untold millions vulnerable to lethal climate impacts, not least on global food production. Yet there is one manner in which modelling might both acknowledge and transcend the reality of its deficient maths and sporadic data on a meta-complex system, which is to title the gap between conventional forecast and current observation of arctic warming as reflecting 'Observed Unquantifiable Feedback Interactions' [OUFIs] and to extrapolate that data as the indicator of the risk of uncontrolled arctic-wide self-reinforcing warming. That risk indicator approach may be much less than reductionist science would aspire to (and will of course pursue) but it is exactly what is required by society as a basis on which to negotiate commensurate action. At issue is just how long scientists will take to facilitate this advance in society's response capacity. Regards, Lewis
Neven - about the Age of Consequences, and this exceptional site's contribution . . . The ripples of concern at this year's radical confirmation of the exponential trend of sea ice decline have to be spreading through both the scientific and activist communities, and this is one of rather few places where they’ll converge. While I'd hope this aspect of the site as a meeting place will grow (activists’ grasp of the science often seems to me dire) it brings the problems of success with it. Though the coherence of conversations between larger numbers could readily be bolstered by sub-threads (akin to TOD, but preferably author-titled) the choices over to what extent the site’s focus might be extended, and in which directions, are more complex. At one pole there is the purely scientific inquiry into ASI-decline impacts, from GIC mass-loss & SLR, to the interactive mega-feedbacks, to hemispheric climate destabilization via the jet stream, etc – and at the other pole there is the essentially political debate with deniers, rapturists, oil company shills etc, that some activists delight in. As a dissenter from the ‘received wisdom’ of the denial groups’ supposed functions, I must confess that debating them seems to me more demeaning than utterly pointless – particularly when there are SkS and numerous other sites all piling in on a daily basis. If ASI were henceforth to put a greater focus on Consequences, I’d greatly value that careful inquiry on the scientific pole noted above, but also on areas converging with the politics – for without a scientific appreciation of just what would be a feasible commensurate response to redeem our position, how can effective policy be promoted ? Similarly, there is the ‘politics’ within the scientific community, whereby observed changes due to feedbacks are given no more weight in the modelling than is the precautionary principle, to the point that science has persisted for two decades in misdirecting the UNFCCC negotiations as to just which century would see an ice-free summer arctic. – An expression of regret, and a commitment to review practices, would seem fitting . . . At the core of the politics is the question of just why US global climate policy under Bush has since been maintained and relentlessly advanced, and though some who are willing to debate deniers may find that issue unpalatable (each to their own) in my view it seems clear that until the pressure for action is focussed on the actual resistance to action and on its tawdry rationale, our position will continue to deteriorate. Beyond that there is of course the central question of just what treaty is required, and quite how national shares of tradable emission rights should best be allocated under its stringent CO2e budget ? Again, this may be beyond the pale for some, but perhaps it needs saying that I’ve yet to find any public forum that gives this central question any serious focus. Facing the Consequences constructively requires morale, and for most of us that is eroded by the emerging scope of the climate problem and the ongoing politics of inaction. Scientists have an advantage in their training to a dispassionate perspective, but I guess that few are wholly immune to some degree of angst on the issue. I’m reminded of an eminent US psychoanalyst whose address to the AGM of his professional body focussed of the fact that, given the present state of the world and its prospects, any patient who doesn't face some depression has something seriously wrong with them. (Did his professional standing no good at all). In this light I hope that you may consider extending ASI’s focus both into the physical consequences of the sea-ice decline and into the questions of doing something useful about it, i.e. into the politics of the issue, not only because scientific input is sorely needed in that field, but also because all concerned may be the better for exploring and advancing the commensurate remedies rather than focussing solely on the ailment’s symptoms. With regrets for the length, and hoping these ideas may perhaps chime with what you’ve been thinking about – Regards, Lewis
Neven - your question of whether the models can catch up is actually about the mindset of the modellers. A simple extrapolation of observed ASI extent loss by 2000 would have given an incomparably more accurate forecast than the median of the AR4 projections - and that failure was the modellers' choice, not the available maths. Putting orthodox theory before observation seems to me a pretty poor sort of science, and given the continuing kant about summer ice loss 'perhaps by 2030 to 2050', it would appear that doctrine is pretty impervious to blatant failure. Yet there is the added difficulty of the number of interactive self-reinforcing variables rising, along with a rise in random contributory events, making the dim prospect of reliable modelling of arctic ice and carbon stocks' destabilization simply vanishingly remote. Mass-loss from the Greenland Ice Cap has to be a major case in point. Having risen at an average of over 10% per year for the last decade, if that exponent somehow held steady, the cap would be cleared down to a huge land-locked melt-lake by 2080. There are multiple known feedbacks powering that exponent, some of whose internal thresholds are unclear, including: - rising air temperatures from global warming, from a warming Atlantic, and from a warming Arctic Ocean under increasing ice cover loss; - rising extreme insolation from the emerging annual phenomenon of the Greenland Summer High; - rising precipitation from the northward migration of rainfall, of which an increasing fraction is falling as rain, with both a direct heat transport effect, and an increased lubrication effect via moulins, and a destruction of reflective snow cover over the darker ice cap; - rising fallout of soot and other particulates from shipping causing cryoconite melt holes across the surface; - rising incidence of very large numbers of minor earth tremors (reflecting just the mass-loss so far) further mobilizing the glaciers. If we were to fail to apply effective timely Albedo Restoration measures across the Arctic Ocean, most of these factors would be further accelerated by the ongoing acceleration of the mega-feedbacks present in the arctic as sea-ice loss progresses, and as they start to interact with eachother. While I don't predict a 'sans Geo-E' clearance by 2080 - if only because mass loss would be reduced to melt-water only once the cap declined to a shallow dome over the island's central depression and gradient to passes between encircling mountains was lost - I see no reason to pretend that the mass loss exponent will stay as low as 10% prior to that point. But the chances of anyone usefully modelling those interactions under the prevailing reductionist science seem to me just nebulous. In short, scientists are either going to face up to adopting the precautionary principle and the need to promote the worst-case scenario (as every military strategist does as standard procedure) or they are liable to be more of a hindrance than a help as the mega-feedbacks take off. If one starts from the premis that the purpose of science is the service of humanity, it could be argued that the failure to adopt the precautionary princple as the basis of prediction is essentially unscientific. Regards, Lewis
Can anyone explain how a voluntary drive for renewable energy actually changes our climate prospects ? Thus far, with oil at around $100 and global coal and gas prices keeping pace, renewables aren't even covering the annual rise in fossil energy demand as a couple of billion people aspire to one fifth of US consumption rates. They do help somewhat to stop prices spiking, but the notion that they displace any fossil fuels is just seductive hype - any fossil fuels locally displaced are bought and burnt elsewhere. The meme that the "free market" will boost renewables to a point where they're so cheap that we'll leave fossils in the ground is appealing, but it offers neither an economic rationale nor any plausible timeline remotely commensurate with the rate of destabilization of the climate and of the vast natural carbon banks in the arctic, the forests, and the soils. To the extent that a drive for renewables has been gaining popular priority over that for a global climate treaty, it seems to me regressive and a diversion. Under the treaty, there is a declining ceiling on global annual CO2 emissions and a trade in national emissions entitlements, meaning that renewables are greatly boosted and the 'bought & burnt elsewhere' loophole is closed. Similarly, the equally crucial drive for energy efficiency no longer suffers from its present massive loophole of Jevon's Paradox. (Better coal fire-box efficiency raises profits - funds more steam engines - burns more coal). To change our climate prospects the climate treaty is the starting point - without it neither renewables nor energy efficiency have any significant traction on the problem. Yet an emissions control treaty, however stringent, cannot of itself control the warming to which we're committed. Devi remarked blithely how :- "More than 3 degrees will lead not only to very significant alterations to the climate but also the onset of positive feedback loops" when in reality we are committed to: 0.8C realized plus 0.7C pipeline timelagged plus 0.6C phase-out emissions via a near-zero by 2050 treaty times 2.1 loss-of-sulphate-parasol multiplier equals 4.41C of warming. That multiplier is the median of Hansen's finding btw, so, if he's as right as he's tended to be, the final figure is +/- 0.6C Given the pipeline timelag after the treaty ended emissions in 2050, we'd be looking at around 4.4C of warming by 2080, which allows around 70 years of intensifying warming for Devi's "onset" of those interactive mega-feedbacks. The problem with this view is that at least 6 out of seven are already accelerating under just 0.8C of warming, and they didn't start yesterday:- Rising water vapour had begun by 1940s; cryosphere decline by 1950s; microbial decay of peatbogs by 1960s; rising permafrost melt by 1970s; rising forest combustion by 1980s; rising global soils desiccation by 1990s; - and whats happened to methane hydrates in the 2000's is still "awaiting publication." Our best efforts at emissions control give around seventy years of additional warming to empower those interactive feedbacks, when it looks from present events in the arctic as if we can't afford even seven years. Both modes of Geo-E (Albedo Restoration AND Carbon Recovery) are patently required as the complements to the emissions control treaty for a commensurate response to change our climate prospects, but both could and likely would be done really badly if left to the motivations of corporate nationalism. And given their potential scope, we have to see to it that they're done very well indeed. Which brings us back to the paramount importance of the treaty. Under its mandate, the R&D of Geo-E can be conducted under stringent scientific supervision that is answerable to all nations, and the loopholes gutting renewables and efficiency programs' effectiveness are closed and locked. But in my view, without the treaty, we're going nowhere we want to end up, rather fast. Given that this is a science forum, I'd be chuffed if people would apply scientific rigour to the analysis of the issues raised in this thread, because the longer we allow ourselves to be fooled into promoting the 'conventional wisdoms' (that just happen to suit the status-quo goal of postponing action rather well) the less our chances of raising our climate prospects. Seeking brevity may have made this comment sound a bit brusque - which was not my intention. Regards, Lewis
Toggle Commented Sep 17, 2012 on Joe Bastardi found a cherry at Arctic Sea Ice
D - well spotted. RIA don't seem very keen to give much detail - three terse paras only. Can anyone identify what the dirty-looking foam is in the press photo ? CH4 outgassing from seawater plus some sediment brought up by the torus effect perhaps ? And the interface of foam and seawater appears to have a subduction of the latter occurring along a stable front - again torus ? Regards, Lewis
Toggle Commented Sep 15, 2012 on Joe Bastardi found a cherry at Arctic Sea Ice
Neven - my apologies. I'm grieved to have written so poorly that you should think my comment on addressing the fabricated circus of denial was sniping at your running of this outstanding site. Far from it, my hope was to generate discussion among commenters here of just what is the function of that circus in the continuation since 2000 of the bipartisan US climate policy. Maybe the question needs putting the other way round :- - Could the bipartisan US climate policy of a brinkmanship of inaction with China have continued under Obama without the fabricated circus of denial and rebuttal ? With my thanks for your outstanding efforts, regards, Lewis
Toggle Commented Sep 14, 2012 on Joe Bastardi found a cherry at Arctic Sea Ice