Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Guesses For the Update of the Doomsday Clock?

The Doomsday Clock, set every year by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' Science and Security Board, will be reset this January 24th. It's currently set at 11:58:00 pm, up one full minute from 2016. (Here's their full list, which goes back to 1947 when it was 11:53:00 pm.)

Any guesses? There isn't much space left, but I'd be surprised if they can ignore Trump's heedless craziness for even a year, and the contribution of climate change to the hurricanes and wildfires in the US last year.

So I'm guessing they will set it forward by a half-minute.

You can watch this year's announcement on 1/24 on their Web site or Facebook page.

Are Underwater Volcanoes Causing Ocean Warming?

There's important climate news in the last week -- ocean warming has been found to be 40% higher than was given five years ago by the IPCC 5th Assessment Report, bringing it in line with climate model predictions. And Antarctic ice melt is six times greater than it was in the 1970s.

But I feel like blogging about the skeptical conjecture that underwater volcanoes are causing the observed ocean warming. For example, the radio host Lars Larson, whose show I was on last summer, conjectured that recently on Twitter:
Could this be causing ocean warming? Seems unlikely....

1) these volcanoes and vents didn't suddenly flare up during the Industrial era or in the 1970s -- they've been there for, what, billions of years at mid-ocean ridges where tectonic plate spread apart? 

2) But let's do a little back of the envelope calculation to estimate their influence -- for underwater volcanoes, at least. (Plus it's always fun to get a chance to make LaTeX equations again.) Here's what I found:

"About 5 cubic-miles of lava erupt every year along the mid-ocean ridges and submarine fault systems associated with subduction zones...." (Forbes)

The lava is at a certain temperature TL, and the ocean at (an average of) TO. As the lava pours into the ocean, it gives up heat to the ocean, raising the temperature by ΔT. The final temperature of the lava will be TO + ΔT. Then by energy conservation, the heat gained by the ocean is the heat lost by the lava:

where M is mass and C is specific heat. Then


Here are the numbers I found for lava:

where 1200°C was the maximum value in the given range. For the ocean:

(The initial temperature of the ocean doesn't matter much, since TL is over an order of magnitude larger.) So

α = 4.7 × 109 ≫ 1
ΔT = 3 × 10-7 K/yr

so tiny, as expected. Converting this to a ocean heat gain gives

ΔQ = 1 × 1018 J/yr = 4 × 1010 W → 1 × 10-4 W/m2

over the Earth's surface area. Compare that to the trend found in the first paper mentioned above of about 0.60 W/m2.

So undersea volcanoes only contribute ~0.1% of the ocean's heat gain.

(I think it's hard to imagine just how huge the ocean is. For example, it's 1.5 times more massive than Ceres, the largest body in the asteroid belt, with a diameter of almost 600 miles.)

Anything I missed?

Tuesday, January 08, 2019


Pacific Island Represent! (@PIrepresent)
We had the honour of meeting .⁦‪@GretaThunberg‬⁩, 15 year-old Swedish climate activist, at the global climate talks in Poland - #COP24. Change is coming ✊ pic.twitter.com/ppZtxX7jlg

Saturday, January 05, 2019

A Professional Scientist Actually Cited This Graph

Who? Roy Spencer. I'm not sure where it comes from, but it doesn't matter -- he needs to retake an undergraduate course in the proper presentation of data, because this graph is scientific malpractice. The proper response can only be this.

Of course, a proper graph -- recall from 5th grade that the point of a graph is to convey as much information as possible -- looks something like this:

and it would have error bars which I'm not going to bother with here. But you get the point. (Note 1/7: I replaced the original graph with one that includes the 1-year (4-quarter) moving average.)

And the 0.04°C on Roy's graph? (I get 0.05°C, but it makes little difference here except that it's just a little tiny additional 25%.) A real scientist would understand (as I'm sure Roy does; he's just more interested in propaganda) that: 

(a) it's really about heat gained, not temperature change, which for these data I find to be 1.4 x 1023 J. All that heat will not necessarily stay in the ocean, but much will come out to the atmosphere over millennia. The ocean is vast, and has a higher specific heat than air; if this amount of heat were in the atmosphere instead, the temperature change would be ~1000 times larger.

(b) for living things, the problem with ocean warming is that many of them live near the surface, for which the temperature change is much larger. (I wanted to plot the 0-100 m change in the ocean, but NOAA's site is down now because of Trump's moronic government shutdown.) So I have to go with this:

Comparatively, the temperature change of the top 700 m of the ocean is, over the same time period, 0.08°C, and the temperature change of the global sea surface is (HadSST3) 0.26°C. 

Ironically, Roy's post is about Chuck Todd's decision not to allow "climate deniers" on his television show, and how Roy claims there really aren't any climate scientists who deny that the climate isn't warming and man isn't partly responsible. (Except Fred Singer.) So Roy isn't a full-blown climate denier, but then he use the standard dumb denier trick graph that's the most climate denying graph of all. 

One more point. Roy ignores the entire professional literature and cites just one paper by Lewis and Curry, as if it's the final word. And he cheats on that, too, citing the CO2 climate sensitivity they found to be 1.0°C, when that's only the lowest value of their range (added 1/6: and anyway it's the range for the transient climate response -- the warming at the moment CO2 doubles, not ECS), which is 1.0-1.9 C (5%-95% confidence limits). 
Spencer: "...the lastest (sic) analyses (Lewis & Curry, 2018) of what this would mean leads to an eventual warming of only 1 deg. C from a doubling of atmospheric CO2 (we are currently about halfway to that doubling)...."
Now how can Roy think CO2's climate sensitivity is as low as 1.0 C, when 

(a) we've already had 1.0°C of warming.
(b) polluting aerosols are holding warming down by about 0.5°C, and
(c) CO2's share of manmade radiative forcing is, for 1990-2017, 66%.  

These would imply CO2's warming so far is (assuming CO2's radiative forcing fraction is the same since the pre-industrial era) 0.66*1.5°C = 1.0°C, when CO2 hasn't even increased by 50% yet, let alone doubled. 

And Roy is upset that Chuck Todd doesn't want to have the likes of Roy Spencer on his show, and in writing about it shows exactly why Todd doesn't.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Who's Burning the Fossil Fuels?

Here's an admirable case of bookkeeping: "Global Carbon Budget 2018" in the journal Earth System Science Data by Le Quéré and about 80 other co-authors. They crunch a lot of numbers to present the trends in where carbon is coming from and where carbon is going. It's open access, so I'm only going to highlight a few things I found interesting about their Figure 5 on emissions:

Some things I noticed:
  • It's hard to see much hope that global emissions are coming to a peak, though the trend is lower this decade.
  • The US is still the carbon hog of the world. (It's not even close.)
  • Coal is still the predominant source of carbon, and its peak may be reversing.
  • China's per capita emissions seem to be flat throughout much of the 2010s. (Can that be right??)
  • About 10% of China's emissions are for products consumed in other countries.
  • Current per capita emissions for the globe is about 1.2 t/yr -- so the US emits as if it were an average country of 900 million people.
  • US per capita emissions peaked around 1975, and EU28's (the full European Union) around 1980. But US emissions rose again and almost reached a new peak around 2000, whereas the EU's have been on a steady decline since peaking. The decline for both is about 30%. Some fossil fuel advocates snicker than the US has decreased its carbon emissions more than any other country so we deserve a gold star on our forehead, but that's only because we started out with much higher emissions in the first place. Percentage wise it's the same between the US and EU. And it's a dumb argument anyway because we still emit far more per capita than anyone else, as if (they seem to think) Americans have some god-given right to do so.
  • It would be interesting to see the numbers for EU15. (Here's an explainer on the different EU subsets (at the moment!))
  • per capita emissions for the globe have stayed remarkably close to flat for 60 years. It's almost as if the increases from China and India have been offset by the US and EU and everyone else has stayed flat/impoverished.

See anything else?

Monday, December 24, 2018

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Why I Get so Few Comments

Recently I realized why I don't get many comments on this blog -- I don't blog about open-ended issues.

I certainly appreciate the comments I do get. But here I tend to present graphs, papers, findings, which have little wiggle room. (And, I don't present them as if there's much wiggle room.) But blogs like And Then There's Physics and Stoat do more opinionated posts that leave lots of room for discussion and disagreements or other points of view. I'm not very good at that.

I'll admit, I'm not really a deep thinker and am more interested in the math and the data and the minutiae. That's just who I am. I find numbers more attractive than words or, even in some sense, ideas. Numbers make much more sense to me than words, even as a writer -- I can't diagram a sentence to save my life, barely know what an adverb is, let alone a preposition, and couldn't even do that when I was in 10th grade. I took a college summer class in linguistics after my junior year to fulfill an elective, and none of it made any sense to me at all, and I got a "C" that ruined the 4.0 grade point average I'd had up until then. I wish I was more versatile in big, deep picture thinking, but I've never really been so, even, I think now, when I was doing research in graduate school. Not happy to admit that.

It was probably a good thing that I didn't stay in physics -- though I might possibly perhaps have made it somewhere at a very small college teaching physics to pre-med majors -- but neither does science writing have a big calling for number geeks -- we're too slow, if nothing else, trying to figure out the units. I guess I'm not really fit for much of anything.

Arctic Warming, 1958 vs 2018

Here's a nice comparison of Arctic warming -- north of 80 deg north latitude -- comparing 1958's average temperature to 2018's. (Source.) The warming is obvious, and stark.

PS: The summers aren't warming because when the temperature gets above 0°C, the extra energy goes first into melting ice, and only after in raising the air temperature. (Recall the phase diagram for water.)

Angry Sea

"Two hours from his office, her car crests the cliff road and the church steeple juts into view. The rest of town follows, hunched in rucked hills sloping to the water. Smoke coils from the pub chimney. Fishing nets pile on the shore. In Newville you can watch the sea eat the ground, over and over, unstopping. Millions of abyssal thalassic acres. The sea does not ask permission or wait for instruction. It doesn’t suffer from not knowing what on earth, exactly, it is meant to do. Today its walls are high, white lather torn. 'Angry sea,' people say, but to the biographer the ascribing of human feeling to a body so inhumanly itself is wrong. The water heaves up for reasons they don’t have names for."

― Leni Zumas, Red Clocks

Monday, December 17, 2018

Four Minutes of Required Listening

Greta Thunberg of Sweden, 15-years old.

Latest Temperature Numbers

The Japanese Meteorological Association found the average global surface temperature for Nov 2018 to be the second-warmest November in their record, which goes back to 1891. 2018 is almost certainly going to come in as their 4th warmest year.

NASA GISS found Nov 2018 to be the 5th-warmest in their record (which starts in 1880), and 2018 will also be their 4th warmest year unless there's an humongous asteroid strike almost immediately.

GISS will also have the 4th-warmest year in the northern hempisphere, the 3rd-warmest in the southern hemisphere, and the 3rd-warmest land-only temperature. (This are all essentially guaranteed at this point, bounded both below and above.)

GISS's land-only annual average surface temperature is going to be at or greater than 1.0°C, which would make the third year in a row. The land is warming rapidly -- the 15-yr trend is +0.26°C/dec, and 30-yr trend is +0.24°C/dec.

We're approaching 1/2°F land-warming every decade. I don't think Americans really get that. If you're an American not well-versed in Celsius-thinking (and I'm not, completely; I mean I can do the conversions, but I don't have an intuitive feel for X°C; I have to think about it for a couple of seconds*), if you hear the IPCC or a climate scientist talk about a (say) 2°C warming, you should multiply that by 3 to get the land-only warming in Fahrenheit**.

*my basic scale is 10°C is a cool day, 20°C is a nice day, and 30°C is a hot day.

**First multiple the global average by 1.5 to get the land-only average warming, then by 9/5 to get the number in Fahrenheit. (1.5)(9/5)=27/10 = almost 3.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Banks Cash-on-Hand Spiked in Anticipation of Y2K Problems

This is interesting. Here's the amount of cash US banks keep/kept in their vaults, total nationwide, available for withdrawal. Note the amount spiked just prior to 1/1/2000, as people deposited extra cash in case there were Y2K problems:

Note: Y2K was an issue. There were few problems not because it was hyped or overestimated, but because business spent about $100 billion to fix potential software problems beforehand. It's really a great success story, but some people insist on saying it was all a hoax or unnecessary alarmism. Instead it was healthy alarmism, with a potential disaster avoided by a lot of hard work.

Added: I don't know why there was a jump step circa 1980. It doesn't necessarily represent anything social; it might have been some change in the amount of cash banks were required to keep on hand. Anyone know?

Friday, December 14, 2018

Exxon Scientist on Global Warming, 1978

This is old news, but I might want to refer to it later.

Exxon scientist J.F. Black, memo of June 6, 1978:
"What is considered the best presently available climate model for treating the Greenhouse Effect predicts that a doubling of the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere would produce a mean temperature increase of about 2 C to 3 C over most of the Earth. The model also predicts that the temperature increase near the poles may be two to three times this value.

- J.F. Black, Products Research Division, Exxon Research and Engineering Co.

Forecasts of Old Climate Models

Zeke Hausfather, now at Carbon Brief, shared the poster he's presenting today at the AGU Fall Meeting in DC.
Click on the image to get a fuller 
presentation of the Hansen graphs.

I assume he put the actual forcings that occurred into Hansen's projections, instead of what Hansen assumed.

I don't know what models Zeke's considering here, but there were only a few big models that cover that time period -- see the IPCC ARs of the period.

It will be interesting to see how much the observations of the 2010s bring the agreement back in line from the 'noughts. You can get a sense of that from Ed Hawkins' monthly update comparing observations to CMIP5 models; they've come back up after the lows around 2010:

Added about one hour later:

I asked ZekeH on Twitter how he corrected model projections for the actual emissions, instead of the assumed emissions. He wrote: