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Elisee Reclus
USA
Sailor, astronomer, geographer/cartographer.
Interests: Collecting star atlases, celestial navigation, late '60s rock and roll, tidal invertebrates, SETI.
Recent Activity
Concerning Sam and Jim's comments -- Yes, there are many data metrics, each with its positive and negative aspects, they are all important and I do not particularly reject some and favor others. I do like Sea Ice Extent (SIE) because it is commonly used, it has been determined as particularly useful by experts in the field, and an easily referenced archive of it is available from one sensor and published in one source. There is also an unbroken set of these datasets from one sensor going back to the beginning of the satellite era. This makes discussing these observations less open to insinuendos of bias or fraud. I worked in the reduction and interpretation of remotely sensed data for earth science applications for many years (Landsat, TM, HCMM, SeaSat, Multichannel Airborn Infrared Reflectance Radiometer); both in the development of image processing algorithms as well as the interpretation of those images for earth resource evaluation and monitoring. I concede I have been out of the field for twenty years now and may not be up-to-date on the latest developments, but I am well aware of the assumptions, processing and modelling that must be carried out to convert raw numerical pixel values from the satellite sensor into some sort of conclusion as to what is happening on the ground. Believe me, I am painfully aware of just how much subjective judgement, not to mention smoke and mirrors and hand-waving, is involved. However, although imagery from one sensor may vary greatly from that gathered by another, and different processing will also reveal very different images from the same data, a continued inspection of one consistent data set as seen by one sensor and processed in the same way has great value in detecting trends and communicating them to others. There are many different ways of squeezing information out of data, but when looking for long-term trends in a noisy signal, it is best to minimize as many of the variables as possible. The earth climate engine is a complex and chaotic system and is only poorly understood. That's why we all come here to compare notes and see what is going on and what others with our interests are following. But when it comes to communicating conclusions we have arrived at to critics with honest skepticism, (not to mention villains with political, ideological or economic agendas) I believe the simplest and most straightforward display of data is the most effective. I have chosen the NSIDC SIE time series graphic as my tool. In my opinion, its consistent and unambiguous depiction of the dramatic meltdown in the Arctic Basin over the last four decades is most convincing at describing what is happening and why.
Toggle Commented Sep 14, 2019 on PIOMAS August 2019 at Arctic Sea Ice
A historical note: From a discussion of climactic provinces in the distribution of intertidal species, Rachel Carson (remember her from "Silent Spring"?) describes a growing awareness of global warming already becoming obvious to marine biologists early in the last century. Again, note the sensitivity of the Arctic regions to climate change. The canary in the coal mine… "Although these basic zones are still convenient and well-founded divisions of the American coast, it became clear by about the third decade of the twentieth century that Cape Cod was not the absolute barrier it had once been for warm-water species attempting to round it from the south. Curious changes have been taking place, with many animals invading this cold-temperate zone from the south and pushing up through Maine and even into Canada. This new distribution is, of course, related to the widespread change of climate that seems to have set in about the beginning of the [twentieth] century and is now well recognized–a general warming-up noticed first in arctic regions, then in subarctic, and now in the temperate areas of northern states. With warmer ocean waters north of Cape Cod, not only the adults but the critically important young stages of various southern animals have been able to survive." from “Patterns of Shore Life” in “The Edge of the Sea” Rachel Carson (1955) She then goes on to describe instances of animals found outside their normal ranges, and changes in historical fisheries resulting from these migrations. Those lines were written over sixty years ago.
Toggle Commented Sep 14, 2019 on PIOMAS August 2019 at Arctic Sea Ice
Jim-- There are other metrics that are more persuasive than Sea Ice Extent, which can be made noisy by local or short term wind and sea conditions. But I prefer to use SIE because: 1) There is an unbroken, consistent record going back 40 years through the SAME sensor. 2) Because of that, the year-to-year ice loss is directly comparable. There may be variations due to weather and current, but they tend to cancel out in the long run. The resulting trends, as shown by the monthly SIE average cover time series, allows a linear regression to be drawn for each month, and they are all dropping over the years, even at the height of winter. Also, the negative slope becomes even more extreme as you approach the summer. It is hard to explain that in any other way except that the Arctic is responding in an amplified way to global warming. 3) The averaged monthly SIE coverage smooths out a lot of the day-to-day variation as plotted in the NSIDC monthly report graph. The yearly minimum may be an outlier or a statistical fluke, but the averaged minimum is a more robust measure of long-term trends than any daily reading 4) SIE gives a better idea of how much solar insolation of blue water is occurring. 5) Metrics like sea ice volume are determined by modeling, and can be too easily attacked by denialists as biased. The SIE raw data is right off the satellite with nothing to mess with the signal. That leaves them nothing to cherry-pick. The 2012 minimum was a perfect storm situation, a true outlier, a statistical anomaly. It so far exceeded the normal ice loss trends that it has tended to obscure the fact the ice is still melting. That's why we haven't had a record low for 7 years now, while record minima in the past have been, on the average, about 4 to 5 years apart. If we simply removed 2012 from the interactive NSIDC graph, the overall trend would be even more noticeable. But the denialist community tends to point out the failure of the 2012 record to be broken as evidence of some kind of "recovery". I find the efforts made by the denialists to make this problem go away by discrediting their opposition extremely disturbing--it is akin to arms trafficking or war crimes. This is not a question of a difference of opinion or an honest misinterpretation of evidence. It is a deliberate and systematic effort to see that efforts to solve this problem are delayed for as long as possible. These people know exactly what is going on, and they intend to prolong it and profit from it. Even while they insist the Arctic ice is not disappearing, they are rapidly mobilizing to exploit the blue water to further extract its resources. They are corrupt and they are ruthless.
Toggle Commented Sep 14, 2019 on PIOMAS August 2019 at Arctic Sea Ice
No doubt all of you are familiar with the NSIDC website's interactive graph https://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/sea-ice-tools/ that allows you to turn on and off the display for each year's SIE curves. If you do this in chronological order, you get the time dimension . Its all the proof I need that the climate is changing, and fast. And the direction is clear. The data is noisy, but if you display it like this there is no denying what is going. And the denialists know this perfectly well. They just have convinced themselves they can profit from this disaster and they are determined to do so. Maybe we won't break the record THIS year, but the trend is obvious.
Toggle Commented Sep 13, 2019 on PIOMAS August 2019 at Arctic Sea Ice
Perhaps it's still too early to say for sure that rising CO2 levels and other greenhouse gases generated by human agricultural and industrial activities are the cause of global warming. Still, its the explanation that most closely corresponds to the observations, isn't it? No other excuse can offer as convincing a fit to the facts as a side-by-side comparison of CO2 PPM and SIE curves. The resistance to the obvious hypothesis has nothing to do with science, it persists because the human genesis of climate change is a threat to the ideological paranoia and entrepreneurial fantasies of the denialist community. And lets not forget history, we've seen the same tactics employed against pesticides, tobacco carcinogens, and lead gasoline additives. Follow the money. And as Bobby Zimmerman tells us, "Money doesn't talk, it swears." The Keeling curve goes up and the SIE time series data goes down--not just for September, but for every single month of the year! Maybe it is changes in the solar constant, volcanic outgassing, cosmic rays or some other unexpected factor, but I haven't heard even a reasonable hypothesis yet as to what it might be or even any anecdotal evidence as to what it could be. Yes, the data is noisy, but the slope of the linear regression of the SIE for the entire time the satellites have been working is unmistakable. That is simple, unambiguous data from one sensor, showing a 50% drop in a key metric in only 40 years. Consider this, the trolls come out as soon as it looked like the 2012 record wouldn't be breached, but they were as scarce as hen's teeth just a few days ago, weren't they?
Toggle Commented Sep 13, 2019 on PIOMAS August 2019 at Arctic Sea Ice
Listen to us. Read between the lines. Have you noticed how we all seem to be anticipating the collapse of the Arctic ice with barely-disguised glee? No, I'm not being critical, I catch myself doing it all the time, too. We want to have the satisfaction of rubbing the denialists' nose into the truth, that they were wrong and we were right. We are all hoping for the final "Aha! I told you so!" The world may be going straight to hell, but we got it right, and they have been exposed for the cynical opportunist frauds they really are. Its about the only comfort we can still derive from this tragedy. No matter how this all turns out in the end, we have all been damaged profoundly by this.
Toggle Commented Aug 5, 2019 on Comparing at Arctic Sea Ice
Never having heard the term before, I had to look up "virtue signalling". I assumed it was just another innocuous technical expression (like "crisis actors") cleverly weaponized as a pejorative. Here's a comment from Wikipedia: "Jane Coaston of the The New York Times notes that in using the term "virtue signalling" one is "trying to signal something about their own values: that they are pragmatic, appropriately cynical, in touch with the painful facts of everyday life". In The Guardian, David Shariatmadari argues that this makes it "indistinguishable from the thing it was designed to call out" adding that it is "smug posturing from a position of self-appointed authority." Neoliberal political theorist and economist Sam Bowman, criticized the term claiming that "virtue signalling is hypocritical. It’s often used to try to show that the accuser is above virtue signalling and that their own arguments really are sincere". "Adam Smith Institute Executive Director Sam Bowman opined that the meaning of the term popularised by James Bartholomew misuses the concept of signalling and encourages lazy thinking. In The Guardian, Zoe Williams suggested the phrase was the "sequel insult to champagne socialist" while fellow Guardian writer David Shariatmadari says that while the term serves a purpose, its overuse as an ad hominem attack during political debate has rendered it a meaningless political buzzword."
Toggle Commented Jul 8, 2019 on June 2019, one hell of a month at Arctic Sea Ice
I don't know how much we should rely on neuroanatomy to explain behavioral differences. Personally, I'm inclined to believe perceived short-term financial gain plays the dominant role. Follow the money.
Toggle Commented Jul 7, 2019 on June 2019, one hell of a month at Arctic Sea Ice
"...so, I lit a fire, isn't it good, Norwegian wood?"
Toggle Commented Jun 26, 2019 on PIOMAS June 2019 at Arctic Sea Ice
ERRATUM: what I meant to say above was: "OPACITY of the atmosphere in the infrared continues to increase"
Toggle Commented May 24, 2019 on PIOMAS May 2019 at Arctic Sea Ice
Dear Paul, Your comment seems reasonable, but I suspect heat losses due to evaporation (even at near-freezing temperatures) probably greatly exceed those due to thermal infrared emission from the water's surface. Also, with even a modest ice cover, the sea surface is protected from the cooling effect of wind. Although the Arctic ocean may be only a few degrees above the freezing point of salt water, Under a thick cap of ice it must represent a great reservoir of heat energy. Likewise, a cloud cover would also have the dual effect of protecting the Arctic sea from solar radiation, while simultaneously protecting the sea from heat loss at night. Surely there must be some mathematical expression that provides a first order summary of these effects. There are only three ways heat can be transmitted; radiation, conduction and convection. Of course, its all a moot point, as long as the overall transparency of the atmosphere in the infrared continues to increase due to greenhouse gas forcing, any negative feedback mechanisms would eventually be overwhelmed.
Toggle Commented May 24, 2019 on PIOMAS May 2019 at Arctic Sea Ice
Perhaps someone can answer a question for me... In polar summer, when the sun is high in the sky for many hours of the day, solar radiation is not reflected back into space and is absorbed by open water which tends to add heat energy to the sea, promoting further ice loss. However, at the opposite pole, (or in winter) where it is dark and the sun is low or missing in the sky, open water is not insulated by ice cover and gives up its heat by evaporation and radiation. My question is, do these effects tend to compensate for one another, balancing the heat budget in the long run, or does one take precedence? I suspect the heating due to ice loss overwhelms the cooling due to ice loss, but I really don't know this for a fact. Can anyone shed any light on this for me?
Toggle Commented May 22, 2019 on PIOMAS May 2019 at Arctic Sea Ice
and from the same Timmermans paper... "Total heat content in the warm halocline layer: near doubling in ocean heat content over the past 3 decades"
Toggle Commented May 9, 2019 on PIOMAS April 2019 at Arctic Sea Ice
Dear AJbyT "Beaufort Gyre Structure and Dynamics"---Mary-Louise Timmerman "Late summer SSTs should be ~ 5°C warmer in recent years compared to three decades ago." https://clima.caltech.edu/files/2018/11/Timmermans.pdf
Toggle Commented May 9, 2019 on PIOMAS April 2019 at Arctic Sea Ice
Serious dimensionality indeed! Long before a black hole was proposed as the mechanism driving this active galaxy, astronomers were aware that something really profound was occurring there. Jets of ionized plasma tens of thousands of light-years long were being ejected from M87's nucleus at relativistic speeds. One researcher speculated if maybe what we were witnessing was really a colossal industrial accident. So yes, there is, (at least), a metaphorical analogy to how our own planetary engineering has perturbed our own planetary environment through climate change.
Toggle Commented Apr 17, 2019 on PIOMAS April 2019 at Arctic Sea Ice
According to WIKIPEDIA The radius (in kilometers) of a black hole is approximately 2.95 times the mass (in Solar Masses). So a 7 billion solar mass black hole would have a radius of 2.065 x 10**10 km. That's 138 AU. Pluto's mean distance from the Sun is about 39 AU. This is an extraordinary object. The black hole in the center of the Milky May is thought to be only several million Solar masses.
Toggle Commented Apr 16, 2019 on PIOMAS April 2019 at Arctic Sea Ice
Robert S & gkoehler The observed SIE satellite data is uniform and unambiguous, derived one way from basically one sensor. Its noisy, but the linear regression is really compelling. Its usually enough to stop a denialist in his tracks, unless he's on somebody's payroll. However, we only have 40 years' worth of data, so it doesn't make much sense to do much more than a linear least-square's fit through it. Subjectively, it looks like a slight decrease in slope around the turn of the century, so maybe a more complex curve, a parabola perhaps, might be a better fit. But that is subjective. Still, the linear regression is scary enough. Roughly half the September SIE is still there after 40 years, even if there is no second derivative the rest will be gone by by 2060. And although I can't prove it, my guess is the curve will get even steeper between now and mid-century. Not in my lifetime, but certainly in that of our children. Now how THAT will translate to changes in global weather patterns, particularly rainfall, is something else again. The stochastic elements do tend to cancel out in the long run.
Toggle Commented Apr 16, 2019 on PIOMAS April 2019 at Arctic Sea Ice
Dear AJBT There are a number of possible reasons for the unsymmetrical nature of the image of the accretion disc. The visible light signature of the disc may not be close enough to the event horizon to be gravitationally lensed, so we are seeing its true, distorted shape. The disc is chaotic, turbulent, and filled with knots, clumps, eddies and other irregularities. The disc may be partially obscured by dark nebulosities in the line of sight. The disc plane may be tilted with respect to the line of sight, i.e., it is not orthogonal to it. The odd shape may be an artifact of the imaging technique, my understanding is that it was acquired using Very Long Baseline Interferometry, a calculation-intensive process. It would be very useful if someone would include a space bar into the image so we could get some rough idea of the scale of this object. i.e., how many parsecs across is the disc, the hole in the middle, etc? It would be also useful to know the image resolution, both pixel size (in parsecs)and the color resolution. i.e., how many colors, in the spectrum are represented? Is the red and yellow true color, or false color (arbitrary color assignment to different sensors)or pseudo color (color value assigned to pixel brightness level)?
Toggle Commented Apr 15, 2019 on PIOMAS April 2019 at Arctic Sea Ice
Dear Wayne Perhaps you could clarify for me your analogy of "black hole optics" with sunset refraction phenomena in the Arctic. These processes occur under totally different circumstances and as a result of completely different causes. I just don't see how they could be related, even by analogy. The distorted appearance of the setting sun results from refraction in the atmosphere, light bent by transmission through a distorting but transparent medium which is nowhere near the sun or the observer, but in between. The extreme visual effects are caused by the rays (light paths) passing through distinct zones of different density in the atmosphere, superimposed on one another due to the geometry of sun-horizon-atmosphere-observer. They are most extreme near the horizon because the geometry of the situation is exaggerated--the light goes through more and thicker layers (from the POV of the observer). A black hole's "appearance" is due to the fact that it is invisible, light can't escape it and it appears as simply an absence of light, a black hole. Light from the surroundings or from background objects or its surroundings is distorted by the curvature of space-time itself, and is totally symmetrical viewed from all directions. What we see in the astronomical image is not the black hole itself, but the glowing gasses and other debris, the accretion disc, spiraling into the hole--a flat disc of material heated by friction. This material is well outside the event horizon so the light escapes easily, without any distorting effects. No doubt it radiates in all colors, although I understand most of the energy of the emitted photons is in the X-ray region of the spectrum. This final, most energetic emission occurs just outside the event horizon and at the distances involved appears to us as a point source, not an extended object. If it is distorted by the gravitational lensing, the distortion is symmetrical and would appear the same in any direction (a ring of X-rays surrounding the hole). Other than the fact that there is some geometrical distortion of the light in both the Arctic and the astronomy cases, they have nothing in common. Two entirely different physical processes are at work here, and the visual appearance is entirely different.
Toggle Commented Apr 14, 2019 on PIOMAS April 2019 at Arctic Sea Ice
For Another-- How did Mars get its water? Probably the same way Earth got it, although astronomers seem to be divided on that issue. Some say it originated in local volcanic processes, others feel it came from bombardment by comets. My guess is it was probably some combination of the two. As Wayne points out, the solar nebula, particularly in the early days, was loaded with water, as well as other volatiles such as methane, carbon dioxide, ammonia and perhaps others. These compounds are common in the interstellar medium (IM) as well as in the molecular clouds where stars (and solar systems) form. There have been several dozen complex molecules detected in the IM by their radio emission, including many organics such as alcohol, formaldehyde, etc. Even amino acids have been found in meteorites (probably of non-organic origin). There is a lot of active chemistry going on in the yawning gulfs between the stars. The chemistry that led to life on Earth probably already had a good head start long before the primordial planet cooled off. This explains why microbial life seems to have originated so soon in Earth's history, and it suggests that other planets may have had had conditions in their history conducive to life.
Toggle Commented Dec 26, 2018 on PIOMAS December 2018 at Arctic Sea Ice
Typo above. I meant, of course, 2H2 + O2 <-> 2H2O. Incidentally, in this environment it is possible that conditions existed that favored production of peroxides. Hasn't there been evidence of peroxides in the Martian soil?
Toggle Commented Dec 25, 2018 on PIOMAS December 2018 at Arctic Sea Ice
The standard opinion in astronomy has long been that water dissociated into hydrogen and oxygen due to solar radiation in the Martian atmosphere, and the former preferentially escaped into space due to the planet's light surface gravity. Oxygen combined with iron in the crust. The same processes must have occurred on Earth, but the rate of hydrogen loss was much lower and the 2H2 + O2 <-> reaction managed to reach an equilibrium until an ionosphere formed to protect the surface from solar radiation. All this must have occurred in our own primordial atmosphere long before the release of biogenic O2 reintroduced free oxygen to the atmosphere in large quantities. Its a purely descriptive, qualitative explanation, but it makes sense. Mars lost its ocean because it didn't have enough gravity to hold on to its hydrogen.
Toggle Commented Dec 25, 2018 on PIOMAS December 2018 at Arctic Sea Ice
I don't live on the Mexican border, and maybe I don't know what's going on there, but I do live in South Florida and I know exactly what's happening here. We have the best border wall of all, the Straits of Florida, and that hasn't stopped thousands from coming here. They come on rafts. They also come on airplanes. You can keep out economic immigrants by simply prosecuting those who give them jobs. But walls can't stop refugees fleeing for their lives any more than they can stop a rising sea.
Dear Clueless Have no fear. I think I know exactly where you're coming from now. And at the risk of putting words in Mr McKinney's mouth, I expect he does too.
Toggle Commented May 29, 2018 on PIOMAS May 2018 at Arctic Sea Ice
Dear Clueless FM, Perhaps you misinterpreted my comments. I am not trying to contradict, challenge or embarrass you. I am simply trying to determine if the observed rise in SST is a result of recent increased geothermal activity, OR, is it caused by an interruption of the AMOC (as alluded to by P-Maker). If I'm not mistaken, (he may correct me if I am) I feel that is the same ambiguity that Mr McKinney refers to. My motivation for this question is not to present you with a "gotcha", but to determine the significance of your observation. A sudden increase in geothermal activity would (in my opinion) not necessarily have any climatic consequences. An interruption in the AMOC certainly would.
Toggle Commented May 29, 2018 on PIOMAS May 2018 at Arctic Sea Ice