Friday, January 17, 2020

The Testable, Falsifiable Science That Supports Human Causes of Warming

About Temperature Changes in the Ocean

Every time changes in ocean heat content make it into the news -- and it reached another high again in 2019, as it does almost every year -- woefully uninformed people like Willis Eschenbach complain that the temperature changes are oh so small, so what can it matter??

It's true that the ocean is vast and has a high mass -- 0.02% of the Earth's mass, in fact. It does not warm or cool easily. But:

a) that does not mean any change in its heat content is small, and

b) it certainly does not mean that the temperature changes by the same amount at all depths.

Exactly because the ocean is so massive, it takes a lot of heat to change its temperature -- in any region. Since 1955, the average temperature of the top 2000 meters of the ocean -- about 1/2 its average depth -- has increased by about 0.10°C. From the heat angle, that means the change in that region's heat content is about 300 ZJ (1 ZJ = 1021 J).

Exercise for the reader: compare this to the rate at which the Earth receives energy from the Sun, either at the top of the atmosphere or at the surface.

So who cares, right? Besides the question of the effect on marine life -- which I'm working on understanding, check back later, but let's point out that at equilibrium there will be little change at all -- what does this mean about the temperature change at various depths? It means it can still change by a lot by depth.

Using NOAA's data on ocean temperature anomalies and ocean heat content, we can calculate the temperature and heat changes in average regions. It's pretty simple; just recall that ΔQ = mc*ΔT (definition of specific heat). The data gives:

Put another way, here is the average temperature change as a function of ocean depth:

There's your thermocline. Calculating temperature change from changes in ocean heat content makes no sense unless you do it as a function of ocean depth.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

edX Course on Global Warming Science

This looks like a good course for anyone who wants to learn the basic science of global warming. It's a step beyond the course Michael Mann taught a few years ago; this one requires knowledge of calculus, mechanics and electromagnetism -- that is to say, college freshman physics. It's taught by Kerry Emanuel (et al) of MIT, and consists of video lectures. It's free to audit. If you haven't wanted to read a climate science textbook but want to go beyond the zeroth-order energy balance equation, this looks like a good opportunity.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Pct of Earth with Warmest and Coldest Decade

Here's an interesting result from climatologist Brian Brettschneider -- the percentage of Earth with the warmest and coldest decade since 1900:

BTW, GISS found 2019 was the 2nd warmest year for the globe in their records. Easily the warmest ENSO-neutral year. And it was the warmest year in the southern hemisphere. Northern hemisphere and land-only were the 2nd warmest year. This is the 5th year in a row that the land-only anomaly was > 1°C -- for 2019 it was 1.3°C (2.3°F). For Dec-19 it was a high 1.52°C (2.74°F) -- the 3rd warmest month ever (viz. third highest anomaly).

Friday, January 03, 2020

Greta Thunberg on Living Sustainability

This really hits the nail on the head, and very simply:
Greta Thunberg: "It is impossible to live sustainably today, and that needs to change."
I don't think I've ever said this so simply. Or came close.

Record UAH Temperatures

Here we are, in a non El Nino year, and UAH calculates that the lower troposphere was at a record high temperature for December in their records (starting in 1978).

It was also a record high meteorological autumn (Sept-Nov).

The year ranked 3rd highest in their records, making it a record high ENSO-neutral year.

Who ordered that?

PS: One genius at Spencer's blog, Bob Weber, thinks we're in a "mini-ice age."

The 2020s are going to be a contest to see which denier can make the laughable statement possible. Starting out, I nominate this.

US Exporting More Oil Than It Imports

This past week the US had net negative imports of oil -- that is to say, more exports than imports. It's the least net exports since at least 1990:

Click to Enlarge
Of course I don't know what's going on behind the scenes, but I wonder if US oil companies, abetted by the Trump administration, aren't engaged in a last gasp of oil drilling before climate considerations put an end to it. Making us an "energy superpower," in the words of former DOE chief Rick Perry. The gasp might last 10 years or even twenty, but they've gotta see it on the horizon, something coal saw too late.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Australian PM Gets a Firehose of Criticism

The prime minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, visited New South Wales yesterday, which has seen some of the devastating, scary wildfires. In this jaw-dropping clip, the people there gave him a good piece of their mind:

Notice the fireman near the clip's end who refuses to shame Morrison's hand. Notice Morrison feebly trying to address climate change. It was so bad Morrison scambered home.

The fires are expected to get worse.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Dogs, Nature’s Supreme Suck-ups

Nick Greene, at Slate, beginning to answer the reader question "I Want a Dog, but My Husband Refuses. Should I Just Do It?"
Humans didn’t always like dogs. According to one widely believed theory, history’s greatest friendship began thousands of years ago when packs of relatively docile wolves began loitering near hunter-gatherer camps to nosh on the leftovers and trash. These proto-pups realized this strategy was far easier than hunting, and so the species began its millennia-long effort to enter our good graces. Wolves evolved into dogs, and nature’s supreme suck-ups now live inside our houses and eat specially formulated food that we invented just for them. Playing the long game worked.

Nevertheless, some Homo sapiens, like your husband, have managed to resist dogs’ charm offensive. You may find it annoying, but you should be happy he’s doing this now and not thousands of years ago. If he had been one of those hunter-gatherers hanging around the campfire, he might have chased away those affable wolves and changed the course of human and canine history forever. Who knows, we could all be snuggling with our domesticated possums right now.
Nick Greene usually cover sports at Slate, and he's an interesting, funny, off-kilter writer who I always read.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Trump on Wind (Oy Vey)

On Saturday impeached President Trump gave a speech to the conservative student group Turning Point USA. He talked about wind power, and it went like most things do with Trump:
“I never understood wind,” Trump said, according to Mediaite. “I know windmills very much, I have studied it better than anybody. I know it is very expensive. They are made in China and Germany mostly, very few made here, almost none, but they are manufactured, tremendous — if you are into this — tremendous fumes and gases are spewing into the atmosphere. You know we have a world, right?”
Suddenly Trump is the world's expert on wind. Suddenly he notices we have a world. Apparently doesn't connect that to his administration's policies on the environment.
“So the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk about the carbon footprint, fumes are spewing into the air, right spewing, whether it is China or Germany, is going into the air,” the president added.
Suddenly Trump cares about something's carbon footprint.
“A windmill will kill many bald eagles,” he said, according to Mediate. “After a certain number, they make you turn the windmill off, that is true. By the way, they make you turn it off. And yet, if you killed one, they put you in jail. That is OK. But why is it OK for windmills to destroy the bird population?”
Suddenly Trump cares about birds.

As The Hill pointed out, wind turbines kill about 1/6th the number of birds that cats do. And coal and oil and gas kill many millions.

PS: That first sentence, "I know windmills very much" -- sounds like something a 3rd grader would say. Help us.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Reading of the Urgenda Verdict

Here's an abbreviated reading of the Urgenda case in the Netherlands, with English subtitles. It's only 18 minutes long, and clearly stated (as far as legal language goes). It's a dream for anyone wanting reductions in greenhouse gas emissions -- the court took the science into account (which the two parties did not dispute), explained why it has jurisdiction, then gave the verdict, ruling the government must cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% by the end of 2020 (compared to 1990 levels). (Court costs are to be paid by the Dutch government, but they didn't look too high.) I don't yet know the numbers or how onerous and difficult these cuts will be.

Update: According to the BP Statistical Review 2019, the Netherlands emitted 196 Mt CO2 in 1990 and 203 Mt CO2 in 2018. So they have their work cut out for them. A 25% drop from 1990 would be 2020 emissions of 147 Mt CO2, so it's actually a 28% drop from 2018. That seems near impossible.

Watching this, it seems to me that the ruling was made on the basis of Dutch civil law, not on their adherence to the European Convention on Human Rights. But I'm not lawyer and would be happy to hear from anyone who is, or others here who followed the verdict better than I did.