Friday, December 22, 2017

Why Nikolov and Zeller's Pressure Claim Violates Basic Physics

Nikolov and Zeller claim that planetary surface temperatures are set by surface pressure. Published in a journal indicted for fraud.

They even go so far as to assert that there is no greenhouse effect. Or that it's 90 K, not the usual 33 K we have all seen. (Which, by the way, is a heuristic calculation only.) Hard to keep their claims straight.

This is obviously bull -- but why?

Because N&Z did no science -- they just fit 5 independent data points to a curve of 6 independent data points. Just curve-fitting.

I trust you understand why that's trivially easy to do, and why it's not science.

But they insist they have made a ground-breaking discovery, a la Galileo or Newton.

(That should set your bullshit detector off right there, ringing very, very loudly. See John Baez's Crackpot Index.)

But here's the thing -- their claim isn't even in accord with basic physics.

Their formula for surface temperature as a function of surface pressure, Ts(Ps), implies, for current Earthlike conditions

dTs/dPs > 0
where "s" stands for surface.

But this is wrong, for the simple reason that a higher surface pressure leads to a lower surface temperature. And it's not difficult to understand why.

It comes down simply to density and optical path. More pressure means more molecules in the path of incoming sunlight, which means less sunlight reaches the surface, because there is less shortwave (Rayleigh) scattering. From Poulsen et al, Science 2015:

Click to Enlarge

So lower pressure means less scattering of sunlight, so more of it reaches the surface. The surface is warmer at lower pressure. That's not surprising -- though N&Z choose to turn their back on this physics.

And a warmer surface means a higher temperature in the lower troposphere, which in turn means the air holds more water vapor. (See the Clausius-Claperyon equation.) That water vapor increases the greenhouse effect, leading to an even higher surface temperature.

So the idea that pressure somehow creates a higher surface temperature is clearly wrong. Atmospheric pressure does not increase incoming shortwave radiation -- radiation from the Sun. It decreases it.

Naturally (and unfortunately), Nikolov and Zeller have ignored all questions about this on Twitter, as if they think blatantly ignoring these question about the physics will get rid of these inconvenient questions, and their stolid, unenlightening, unphysical curve-fitting will shine through.

This is why they're properly classified as "deniers." Real scientists and real people do not ignore questions, if they're interested in getting at the truth.

If you don't want to be labeled a denier, don't act like one.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Scientists Link Hurricane Harvey’s Record Rainfall to Climate Change

NY Times: "Two studies of the storm that overwhelmed Houston last summer say global warming made the rain much worse."


Monday, December 11, 2017

Major New Discovery Using the Principle of Nikolov and Zeller

I've made a "major discovery" -- for the five solar system objects considered by Nikolov and Zeller, their Principles show that an object's Global Mean Annual near-surface Temperature (GMAT) is exactly determined by its radius.

And I only used five free parameters. Their model uses six.


Eli Rabbet has a nice post about the games Nikolov and Zeller are playing. Nikolov is all over Twitter proclaiming their "new discovery," which is nothing more than curve fitting with almost no physics involved. ≧ 2 can play at that game.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

"Physics is Not a Religion"

"Physics is not a religion. It it were, we'd have a much easier time raising money."

-- Leon Lederman

Friday, November 24, 2017

Turkeys Acting Weird

When I was searching for "turkeys" yesterday I came across this page. It sure looks weird:

This clip purports to answer the question of why turkeys do this, but I don't find it very convincing, let alone scientific.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Quite a Day for Schadenfreude

Days like this don't come along often, so enjoy them when they do.

1) Joe Barton, epic harasser of scientists Mann, Bradley and Hughes for their hockey stick, was caught sending a public dick pic to a woman on Twitter. Here's the picture, if you really have to see it. Always nice to see the sanctimonious suffer, especially by their own hand.

Barton says he's still trying to decide if he's going to resign.

Update 11/24 4:42 pm PST - Barton says he's a victim of "revenge porn" -- he says he sent his dick pic to someone, who released it, or aided its release, onto the Internet. That wasn't a very smart thing to do.... And, of course, Barton had no problem invading the privacy of Mann, Bradley and Hughes by expecting them to release all kinds of information pertaining to their research -- a clear fishing expedition. So I still find it hard to feel sorry for him. 

2) OMICS Publishing, publisher of that ridiculous paper by Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller claiming that surface temperatures are solely determined by surface pressures -- a paper that contained no physics whatsoever, but merely fits a curve with five free parameters to five data points -- received an injunction from a US court issued for deceptive business practices. Via Retraction Watch via Eli Rabbett.

Man, that's gotta sting....


Do forgive me. Tomorrow.

Monday, November 13, 2017

3rd Quarter Ocean Heat Content Drops

NOAA has released the 3rd quarter ocean heat content data (thanks JHC) -- the best measure of the planet's energy imbalance -- and there has been a lot of cooling, at least in the top half of the ocean, compared to three months ago.

where ZJ = zettajoule = 1021.

Clearly this means AGW is over. Perhaps this is why UAH and RSS both showed a record high for the lower troposphere for both September and October, and, for RSS, August as well. (UAH LT had the third warmest August.)

Here are the graphs.

(The graphs with error bars look...weird.)

Finally, the acceleration of the top half of the ocean (0-2000 m) is dropping, but still positive: 0.038 ± 0.019 W/m2/year. But my uncertainty doesn't include autocorrelation, which clearly the ocean has in abundance. Maybe I'll work on that later.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Zombie iPhone

So this is strange. My iPhone 5c failed about three weeks ago -- it wouldn't boot up, just, when I tried to recharge it, would only show the Apple logo, then fail and try to power cycle again, endlessly. My battery was 3 years old and failing fast, so I took it to Batteries & Bulbs, but a new battery did not work -- they said my phone was broken. What do I know. So I went to Sprint and bought an iPhone 7, which is more or less the same, but the camera is noticeably better. And it has this strange "taptic engine" -- you feel clicks and scrolls in the hand that's holding the phone -- which I don't like and could do without. (The iPhone 8 has it too. Don't know about the X.)

I didn't want to donate my old phone anywhere, since all my data are still in it, so tonight I took the plunge (...) and flooded it in a container of water.

Immediately the flashlight turned on, and it's been on now for about an hour, while completely underwater. I didn't hit any buttons, certainly not the power button, when I submerged it. It just turned on and has stayed on.

Can anyone explain that?

PS: I hope to get back to blogging about climate soon. Though my interests are necessarily expanding -- too many other people writing about climate these days.

Update: Two hours later, and the light is no more.

The Bloop

This is interesting -- the loudest noise ever recorded -- from The Atlantic:

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Country-by-Country CO2 Emissions

With #COP23 here, some deniers are trying to play number games with carbon emissions, claiming that US isn't the problem in the world because it has reduced CO2 more than anyone else.

First, let's note that by trying to diminish the US role regarding CO2, they're implicitly admitting that CO2 matters. I suspect they know that, but have to then  dismiss it (viz. lie) for the sake of their audience.

The fact is, the US has emitted more CO2 than any other nation, by a factor of over two. And that emitted CO2 is just as much of a factor as are today's emissions -- in fact, they're more, since CO2's forcing changes slower than linearly with concentration. For example, the atmosphere now has 45% more CO2 (406 ppm on an annualized basis, as of October) than in pre-industrial times (280 ppm), but CO2's radiative forcing is 54% of its value when doubled.

Here are the data, from WRI's CAIT database (which seems to be offline at the moment). Through 2014:

As you can see, the US has emitted over twice as much CO2 as has China, and almost nine times more than India.

And you can barely detect any US reductions, there near the end of its line.

Here's another way of looking at it: the top 10 cumulative emitters, and how they compare to the US:

And I'm not even talking about per capita emissions here, which is the fair way to talk about emissions. (Some people seem to think that only country emissions matter, as if an American citizen has an inherent right to emit more CO2 than an individual Chinese citizen. That's just not ethical thinking.)

This can be broken down even further, per capita, which Damon Matthews et al did a few years ago:

By my estimation, China's cumulative emissions by 2014 were 1.9 times its cumulative emissions of 2005; the US's were 1.16. I haven't worked out the updated numbers for this chart, but there's no way China's per capita cumulative emissions today are anywhere near the US's.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Guns and Mass Shootings

Yesterday, for the first time, I donated to a gun control group, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a group of 48 good organizations with a common goal I support.

And I will donate again, in a few months. We can whine and whinge all we want, and we do (me included), but the only thing that's going to stop these shootings is making craven, corrupt politicians more afraid of the gun control crowd than of the NRA.

At the very least, assault rifles have to be banned (again). With harsh penalties for anyone who owns one or sells one -- years in prison. These weapons are designed only to kill as many people as quickly as possible, and no citizen needs one or deserves one. Even the Second Amendment, like all rights, must have its limitations.

Ultimately the Second Amendment must be repealed, as Bret Stephens wrote about last month in the New York Times. It had a purpose at one time in this country's history, but that purpose is now long gone, and the judicial branch has badly misinterpreted it. And completely ignored the phrase "self-regulated."

Here's something I learned recently: while the term "militia" appears in the 2nd amendment (with the most disastrous comma splice in history)
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
the word "militia" also appears in several other places in the Constitution, and its use there makes it clear that the "militia" has a purpose, and its use clearly does not mean all citizens of the US. For example:

Under Section 8:
The Congress shall have Power To...

15. ...provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

16: ...provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

Under Section 2:
1: The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States....

Clearly "militia" means an 'organized, armed and disciplined' organization, and not just anyone.

The ownership and use of extreme firepower has unfortunately become a fetish, one of the ways some people make a statement about who they are, who they aren't, and who their people are. They're part of a tribe with certain attributes -- gun ownership of no matter what kind, climate denying, economically shut out and angry. Of course, I'm part of a (different) tribe, but I feel for their plight -- I grew up among them, in the mountains of rural Pennsylvania. Back then everyone on our ridge was a Democrat who belonged to a union. Then the steel industry collapsed. My dad, who had worked in a steel mill since his early 20s, moved our family 50 miles away to a different steel mill, and then 2000 miles to Albuquerque to yet another steel mill. My uncle lost a well-paying job in a mill near Pittsburgh, and became a bartender. Eventually everyone divorced.

But last November, 64% of Westmoreland County voted for Trump.

Unfortunately I don't see America solving its gun problem. The gun crowd is too useful to the GOP, whose votes that party wants but who then screw them over ever chance they get. But they got their guns! And we are too violent of a country -- led by the militarism and violence of our own government, home and abroad -- and too inured to that violence. Our educational system is failing to educate many, and entire classes of people are being left behind economically, with no one being seriously interested in addressing the problem. And the GOP's tax machinations will only make this worse.) Most of our politicians are cowards -- including Hillary, who bone-headedly called them "deplorable" -- and even they must know "thoughts and prayers" sounds ridiculous at this point. But everyone lies and is afraid to say what they're really thinking, because they might lose power or lose the next Supreme Court seat.

The US is in a long-term decline, and we all know it.

I'm not sure where exactly it falls from here, but guns will probably have something to do with it. It won't be pretty -- and isn't already.

I've been trying to drop hints to my nephew and niece -- now 13 and 10 -- that their world is changing (though I haven't gotten too much yet into how, or how bad), and that they should prepare themselves -- that in their lifetime they may well find more and better opportunities abroad, and a better, safer, more healthy life, and they should learn all they can about the rest of the world, about everything, and learn a language that will be useful -- perhaps Mandarin.

I'd also like to see the US split up -- really. I don't see why I, living in the blue part of Oregon, should be subject to the backward values (as I see them) of the south, of extreme so-called Christians, of politicians who pass more & more extreme gun rights laws, even in the face of mass shootings, as they did after Newtown. I am not going to live in a society where guns are as ubiquitous as the old West.

I believe that smaller is beautiful -- that we each have more power and influence in much smaller entities -- towns, states, countries -- instead of the huge country we live in now when one's vote feels useless and no federal politician care about our values and hopes and opinions. The only times I've ever felt remotely connected to my government was when I lived in New England, and received phone calls from my representatives in the small states of Vermont and New Hampshire. They really wanted to talk, or at least listen for 10 minutes. One guy in NH, who wasn't even my rep, talked with me for an hour about an email I sent him regarding his position on an arcane matter of where on the Piscataqua River the NH-Maine border lay -- in the middle, or on the northern bank. (I no longer remember my position on the matter.)

So let's split Washington and Oregon in two, bisected by the Cascade Mountains. Those on the left (in both senses) can join with northern Canada, and start the nation of Cascadia. Maybe British Columbia will join us, or maybe we can join them. Maybe I/we can have some hope for our country again.

Wouldn't that be nice.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Anomalies Relative to the Earliest Possible Baseline

A recent Facebook post from Stefan Rahmstorf showed temperature anomalies relative to the earliest period in a temperature record -- I think it was GISS, which starts in 1880. I can't find his link, but found it interesting and remembered it.

Here's how NOAA surface data looks in that scheme:

This makes it clear that we're at or above 1 deg C of global surface warming.

And 1880-1909 isn't really "pre-industrial," which is probably (?) before 1850. Maybe 1750. I think BEST goes back that far. I should probably look at that. Someday.

So why don't the various data groups use this for a baseline? I'm not sure. Perhaps because the data from back then have some relatively large uncertainties -- see HadCRUT 4.6, column 2 is the monthly anomaly, and columns 3 and 4 the upper and lower bounds (sigma or two sigma, I don't remember). These bounds get smaller as time trends to the present. But not exceedingly fast. I need to learn more here -- or maybe someone in the comments can correct me.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

And the Award for the Most Diabolical Scheme Goes To....

If they gave an annual award for most diabolical policy maneuver of the year -- something spiky, black and oily, foul-smelling with stink rising off it like dirty steam, this year's prize would surely go to whoever in the EPA came up with this idea.

Scott Pruitt announced yesterday that scientists who get grants from the EPA cannot serve on EPA advisory committees. I doubt Priutt was smart enough to come up with this idea, so the award goes to whatever dark henchman thought of this while he was busily plucking the whiskers out of tiny kitten snouts.

It's diabolical because at first glance -- which is about all that most Americans give anymore, if that -- it seems pretty reasonable. Sure, scientists funded by the EPA shouldn't be advising the EPA, because they're only going they recommend they get more of the funding goodies!

They're biased, right. Therefore it follows (in Trumpville) that those who don't get EPA funding aren't biased, and so they obviously should be the ones serving on EPA advisory committees.

That's for the nonthinking. For the thinking, we realize it's absurd, but how do you make that clear given the diabolical reasoning above?

You could point out that the members of a company's board are often handsomely compensated, yet advise the company, and occasionally make big decisions about its direction.

You could point out that those who don't receive EPA funding -- usually those who work for or are funded by industries and companies -- have their own conflicts of interest. But they're not beholden to the EPA, right? They want to serve out of the good of their hearts.

This decision strikes me as a clever, neat and tidy way to remove all science from the EPA's decisions and give power back to the only people Trump and Pruitt clearly care about -- industry and corporations.

I thought Bush Jr was bad for the environment (and he was; he was bad for practically everything). But It's difficult for me to believe/accept that in 2017 politicians in this country are so brazen, so corrupt, so dismissive of the electorate, so obviously willing to play American citizens for fools -- plays us smart ones easily recognize, but they don't care in the least what we think -- they're openly and obviously and even cheerfully holding their middle fingers right in our faces.

Trump was obviously going to be a big, big problem, but he's turning out to be a far bigger destroyer than anyone imagined. He lied about everything. Everything. He doesn't care about the country at all -- even about his base.

Pruitt's EPA isn't going to significantly alter the world's ability to address climate change (but it could well increase air and water pollution in the US, killing people). The Paris Agreement is a first step only, just as Kyoto was a first step, and as the Copenhagen Agreement was supposed to be a first step. US emissions aren't going to double or anything, and might not increase at all. Maybe the rest of the world can go it without us. China will take the lead. And we'll be stuck with very dumb and corrupt politicians who want to destroy everything for the sake of a few dollars. How do you combat such heathens?

Piling Idea on Idea

“Our riches were made not by piling brick on brick, bank balance on bank balance, but by piling idea on idea.”

-- Deirdre N. McCloskey, Bourgeois Equality, University of Chicago Press (2017)

 Bourgeois Equality

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Geostorm: Another Crazy Climate Movie

Here we go again: another climate-goes-amuck movie that ends up looking like Venus smashes into Earth. This one checks off all the boxes: catastrophic climate change, the hubris of geoengineering, people freezing in place, lasers shooting out of satellites, smart-alecky but brilliant scientist-hero, airplanes freezing solid, crashing to the ground, and skyscrapers toppling like dominoes. Did I miss any other cliches?

Opens this Friday, October 20th.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

US Coal Production is Rebounding

Yet Trump still wants to socialize it, bypassing the free market and requiring US ratepayers to pay more for a dirty, polluting, less efficient electricity.

Data via EIA.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

My Slate Article on Measuring Hurricanes

I have an article in Slate tonight:

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Lessons on Scientific Prefixes

1072 = yotta yotta yotta

This Year's Accumulated Cyclone Energy is Far Above "Normal"

Here's an interesting graph of this year's ACE (Accumulated Cyclone Energy) for the North Atlantic, compared to the 1981-2010 average:

Another hockey stick! 😉

Thursday, September 07, 2017

The IPCC on Hurricanes: What It Says

Perhaps just a short note about what the science actually says about hurricanes, as oppose to what many people are assuming it says:

In Oregon

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

It Seems Like Half of Oregon is On Fire

It seems like half of Oregon is on fire right now. From the Oregonian:

Here it's smoky -- you can see it clearly and smell it too. The most prominent fire, the Eagle Creek Fire, is in the (incredibly beautiful) Columbia River Gorge, east of Portland. The only highway through there, I-84, is closed and they've ordered some evacuations near the Bridge of the Gods. About 10,000 acres are on fire, and it's jumped the river into Washington. The fire is 0% contained, as they say. There are lots of trails and waterfalls on both sides, especially the Oregon side -- someone called it "Portland's playground." And it's now all being burned. And it was probably started by a teenager playing with fireworks.

Plus there's ash falling in Portland. Here's a picture of my sister's car early this morning:

Not any in Salem at the moment. There are health advisories all over the place, and Portland schools are letting out early. It's not helping that we're having another heat wave -- highs of 98°F in Salem both last Saturday and Sunday. Normal high for those days is 80°F.

August in Salem was 5.4°F (3.0°C) above the 1981-2010 average.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Richard Muller on Moving From AGW Skeptic to Believer

From an Q&A with Richard Muller in Physics Today (2/10/17; paywalled):
PT: When talking about global warming, you’ve described yourself as a “converted skeptic.” What persuaded you to move from skeptic to believer? Does your experience suggest strategies for talking to current climate skeptics?
MULLER: I was a skeptic because there were five major issues that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was not adequately addressing. My daughter Elizabeth and I formed the nonprofit Berkeley Earth to examine those, and remarkably, we were able to address all five issues. We enlisted some great team members who were experts at objective analysis of big data, including [Nobel-winning astrophysicist] Saul Perlmutter and [the late Berkeley physicist] Art Rosenfeld.

All of the issues legitimately raised by skeptics were potential biases: data selection, temperature-station siting, data adjustment, and heat island. The fifth was potential bias from the large number of adjusted parameters that were used in the global climate models, and from the instability of those enormous simulations. We came up with a solid analysis of each of the biases and were able to conclude, using our independent work, that global warming was real and caused by humans. We can go farther than the IPCC by attributing 90% of the warming of the past 260 years to humans. We’ve kept our work open and transparent.

I get along very well with skeptics, largely because I respect them. Most of their complaints against climate change are legitimate. Most headlines and most comments made by politicians―and by many scientists!―on this subject are either exaggerated, misleading, or false; that’s why there are so many skeptics. I’ve talked privately to very prominent scientists who admitted to me that they exaggerate on purpose to garner public concern and action. But I think such exaggerations are counterproductive; they lead to a mistrust in science.
All well and good. Separately, I still remember when Muller wrongfully scorned the Michael Mann and the hockey stick, and as far as I know he never corrected himself on that, or apologized. He should.

There's more about this in Wikipedia.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Trump Picked a Climate Change Denier to Head NASA

On Friday Trump indicated he will nominate Representative James Bridenstine, a Republican from Oklahoma, to be the next administrator of NASA.

But Bridenstine is a climate change denier, pure and simple:


There's some opposition, but only because he's a "politician" and not a space person, not because his views on climate science are completely whacked.

Added 7:24 pm - Amazingly, the New York Times did not mention Bridenstein's climate denial.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

How Fast Is the Probability of Extreme Temperatures Increasing?

So awhile back I hypothesized that the probability of extreme temperatures increases exponentially when global temperatures increase linearly.

Recently the NY Times posted some data that I think lends some qualitative support to this contention. It's in a graphical form, not numerical, so I can't really analyze it statistically -- only by eyeball. They're the changing probability distributions of summer temperatures in the northern hemisphere:

I don't know -- is the forward tail increasing outward (leftward) faster than the leftward movement of the the distribution peaks? It kind of looks like it, to me....

Monday, August 28, 2017

How Climate Change is Making the Houston Situation Worse

One way climate change is certainly making the Houston flooding is because because sea level is rising. That increases the height of storm surges and brings more water inland.

NY Times:

"Exacerbating the situation, said Hal Needham, a storm surge expert and founder of the private firm Marine Weather & Climate in Galveston, Tex., was that the storm surge elevated Galveston Bay, blocking drainage of the rain that pummeled coastal and inland areas."

Galveston, which is a barrier island, has seen 0.75 meters of sea level rise since 1900. Much of that is due to the island’s subsidence, but sea level rise is making this worse than where the land isn’t sinking. And, with small-slope beaches and relatively flat land, the inland extension of the water is increasing too.

inland extension ~ sea level rise/sin(coastal slope)

And the storm surge of a hurricane is much more dangerous than the winds.

According to a 2013 article in the Houston Chronicle
A 2007 study underwritten by the city of Galveston that anticipated rising sea levels would cover the coastal highway on the west of the island within 60 years appears to have been overly optimistic.

The $50,000 geological hazard report was prepared for the city by geologists from the University of Texas, Rice University and Texas A&M University but then shelved. The report based its calculation on historic sea level rise and failed to include climate change. Sea levels are rising much faster than previous estimates that accounted for climate change, according to reports released in December by U.S. government scientists and in November by the World Bank.
So right there is an example of how political influence in a climate report (which is why I assume the Texas university's report left out climate change) is dangerous.

A 2016 article from the Houston Chronicle about the land subsistence shows that it is large all over the region.
Parts of Harris County have dropped between 10 and 12 feet since the 1920s, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

State and local officials have made various efforts over the past 40 years to stabilize the ground, but some areas continue to sink - by as much as 2 inches per year.
And why is this happening? Humans. People are drawing too much groundwater out of the aquifers, and the land above is sinking.
There is little mystery to why this is happening: The developing region draws an excessive amount of groundwater to keep itself quenched. Over the last century, aquifers here have lost between 300 and 400 feet, leaving the land to collapse.

The science behind this phenomenon is called subsidence.

Houston sits in one of the nation's largest subsidence bowls, so-called because of the crater effect that happens when the ground caves.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Sun's Changing Obscuration During the Eclipse

Sorry, but there's one more eclipse-related topic I need to get out of my system.

As we were watching last Monday's eclipse, from the moment the Moon's disk was first noticeable over the Sun, we were trying to figure out how fast the Sun's light was diminishing. First it starts at 0 (0%), of course, and at totality it's 1 (100%).

But how fast does it proceed between the beginning and totality? It's a calculation of how much one disk (the Moon) obscures the other (the Sun).

I had actually tried to calculate this before the eclipse, and while it's just geometry it's a bit tricky, especially for someone who rarely calculates anything anymore. My brother-in-law is a laser physicist, and he said he once had to calculate this once regarding two laser spots (or some such), and only found it after a few hours of work.

Eventually I started hunting around the Web, and found this nice derivation from ​Adrian Jannetta, a math instructor in England. He also built this interactive calculator (at the page's top) to calculate the Sun's obscuration for different radii of the Sun and Moon.

Eclipse astronomers classify how far along the eclipse is by the magnitude M, which is how much of the Sun's diameter is covered up, at any given time, by the Moon. Also, the algebra simplifies considerably if you take the Sun and Moon to have the same radii -- remember, this is the radii as seen in the sky, not in actuality, and the very reason a solar eclipse happens is because the angular diameter of the two is very nearly equal.

(Actually for Monday's eclipse I read the Moon, at totality, obscured 103% of the Sun's area, so its angular radii was just a bit bigger than the Sun's, but I'm going to ignore that here.)

So setting the Sun and Moon radii equal in Janetta's equations gives


where again, M is the magnitude, and α is just an intermediate parameter to make the math look simple.

M is going to be proportional to time, assuming the Moon glides uniformly across the Sun's disk. (Probably not exactly true, but close enough for this example. At our location it took 1 hr 11 m 55 s from beginning to totality.)

Then I get the following for the obscuration as a function of magnitude:

The eclipse banana
This is a lot more boring than I was hoping for. The obscuration starts out relatively slowly. At M=0.5 it's only 39%, and then it proceeds almost linearly to totality. The it reverses as the Moon starts past the Sun.

I guess I thought there might have been a quickening, nonlinear obscuration closer to totality -- when the "banana" shows up, then continually shrinks. But we were all too excited to really judge it objectively.

Anyway, I spent some spare hours working on this because I couldn't get it out of my head. Now's it's gone.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Final Thoughts on Today's Eclipse

I've seen three things in my life that didn't look real -- the Grand Canyon, Crater Lake, Oregon, and today's total solar eclipse from Salem, Oregon.

Of the three, the eclipse is the least describable. Words don't exist. It was as if the entire world suddenly turned into a giant dream, where all rules were suddenly turned off and you instantly realized you were someplace you'd never been before. I can't exactly remember what I expected to see -- except, in my mental image, I stupidly pictured myself in this park looking to the west. (I know the sun rises in the east, but my pre-image had it backwards, because the eclipse started at the coast and went west-to-east, and perhaps also because the sky from the park I knew we would be in is much larger to the west.)

Still this was nothing like I could have expected. By that I mean, I don't think I'm capable -- or anyone is capable -- of imagining this in any way like it actually happened. It's a relatively simple astronomical event to grasp, but the actuality of it is not.

About 20 minutes before totality we started to notice the day was getting darker. Subtly at first. Not so much the sky as the grass and trees around the park -- they were tinged in a more muted shade of green. The last few minutes before totality were very exciting -- in fact the entire hour and 6 minutes was exciting -- but then suddenly darkness seemed to come out of nowhere.

It didn't get completely dark, but more like a night with a full moon. The rest of the sky turned to dusk on the horizon (see below for a few pictures). For the two minutes of totality here, I wasn't aware of anything else going on in the world, of anything else even existing in the world -- it was a deep immersive experience that took me over at my core. And then, at the end of the quick two minutes, the diamond ring appeared -- and the entire park of maybe 300 people erupted in even louder cheers and whooping. The ring only lasted 2-3 seconds, but it was the most amazing sight of all.

I now understand why you have to be in the path of totality to experience this fully. Even the last 30 seconds of pre-totalilty, when obscuration was 98-99%, was nothing like totality -- the sun is just too bright even at one or two percent. At totality everything suddenly changes. The world collapses. I can understand why the ancients might have thought the world was ending. The sun's corona was very clear, and seemed to extend several solar diameters -- three or four? -- but still it was too much for my unfiltered iPad camera (see below).

Ten minutes after totality we were already Googling to see where the 2024 U.S. eclipse will happen -- it's a swath from Texas up through the Ohio valley to Cleveland and Buffalo. Today's event was so absolutely amazing that I am
definitely going try and travel to the path of totality to see that eclipse.

Today here couldn't have been more perfect. It was a completely clear, blue sky -- not a cloud to be seen. It was at a nice time of the day, a refreshing morning still hanging in the air. It was in August, when the Williamette Valley usually sees very clear skies. And it was Monday, easy to take off, and you still have the week ahead of you. I got lucky.

Below are some pictures I took today. The pictures during totality aren't good -- I was using my unfiltered iPad. Also, as I only realized later, I had it set to Video and not Photo, so every click was a 1/2-second video. (Here I've included screen shots of those clips.) I now wish I had not attempted to take any pictures at all -- especially without a filter -- and instead just looked at the eclipse and felt it even more; as it was I forgot to look for stars coming out, or planets (my sister said she clearly saw Venus), or pay attention to the temperature and the winds. I was barely aware of myself. My sister wept during totality; I got goosebumps. It seemed like a dream, and it still feels like it was a dream. I can't convey what I felt. I can't even convey it to someone who also saw totality, it was that unique.

The best my unfiltered camera could do at totality.

Looking west during totality

Totality, looking east


This was the best I could do with my unfiltered iPad. Totality was almost dreamlike.... The whole park cheered at the diamond ring.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

A Solar Eclipse As Seen From the Moon

A painting of a solar eclipse as seen from the moon, from space illustrator Pat Rawlings, was published at Rawlings painted this almost 30 years ago; from his tweet:  “I actually thought 28 years in the future tourists might watch the eclipse from the Moon. Sigh.”

A Nonvertical Ice Spike

From the mysterious confines of my refrigerator's freezer:

Friday, August 18, 2017

Getting Ready for the Eclipse

The eclipse is only two and a half days away, and the weather forecast for Salem, Oregon is looking good for Monday.

My biggest stressor is that my sister and her family are coming down Sunday morning -- they're saying traffic is going to be a serious mess -- and they'll tent in my back yard. (I only have one bed. But at least I arranged to turn off the 5:15 am water sprinklers.) It's stressful because, let's just say, her and I have different standards of housekeeping. So I'm trying to clean up things I should have cleaned up months ago. This is actually what worries me the most about this grand celestial spectacle.

We're going to watch the eclipse from a park just across the street. Here, the Moon starts to obscure the Sun at 9:05:25 am PDT, and totality begins at 10:17:21 am PDT. Totality here lasts for 1 minute, 54 seconds.

I haven't detected any increased traffic here yet, despite some claims I've read around the Internet that grocery store checkout lines are out the door. They are not. But people are already arriving out in the sticks of central Oregon. Those poor small towns just aren't prepared for an influx of visitors -- an Oregon tourist administrator told me that they're expecting one million people to travel into the path of totality, a 25% increase in the population of the state. Salem is allowing people to sleep in its parks, no permit required. My sister is hoping to beat traffic by coming down Sunday morning, when hopefully the traffic won't be too bad, and they'll try to get home Monday evening. I hope we don't have an argument about housekeeping.

I wrote a couple of blog posts for Physics World magazine: "America counts down to the big eclipse," and "The American eclipse: wonder, science and festivities." There are a lot of eclipse-related activities going on here and in Corvallis (and elsewhere across the U.S.), but I'm wary of traffic. Truth is, I'll be happy if there are no serious discussions about the housekeeping. (Hey, she has a maid who comes in weekly to clean!)

I'm not planning on taking any pictures. I may shoot a couple with my iPhone at totality, without any filter, but there will be pictures galore. I'm more interesting in how the eclipse will feel, how the temperature will drop, winds pick up, and the general strangeness and grandeur of it all.

I've been looking forward to this since I first learned of it six years ago. I have this picture in my head, surely not realistic, that it's going to be a massive bacchanalia, something like the 5-year end-of-the-world party in Ian Banks' The Hydrogen Sonata.

If only.

Now, back to the cleaning. Yikes.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Some Things I Noticed Today

GISS's global temperature anomaly for July was the warmest July in their record, albeit only by 0.01°C, so technically it's a statistical tie. (But global warming is only preceding at about 0.02°C/yr, by itself a statistically insignificant. Short-term comparisons are really just numerology.) Also, they've changed their ocean surface data from ERSST v4 to the newer ERSST v5.

Still, it's rather surprising July was so warm. The El Nino has been over for a year now, and the most recent season, 2016-2017 that just ended with May/June/July, was a weak La Nina, according to the ONI.

JFK, upon Accepting the Liberal Party Nomination for President, New York, New York, September 14, 1960: "What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label, "Liberal"? If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of "Liberal." But, if by a "Liberal," they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people - their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties - someone who believes that we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say that I'm a "Liberal.""

Rich Lowry, Politico: "Trump’s sensibility is highly unusual for a politician—let alone for the leader of the free world—but very familiar from the internet or social media. As his news conference showed, his level of argument is at the level of a good Breitbart blogger, or of a Twitter egg of yore. He would absolutely kill it in the comments section of a right-wing website or trolling a journalist."

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Global Sea Ice Extent Sets a Record Low

Every year, global sea ice extent -- the simple sum of Arctic SIE and Antarctic SIE -- has two maxima.

The first, lower maximum, usually occurs sometime in July. The second, higher maximum, in November.

This year's first maximum is a record low:

and here's the plot of the annual first maximum:

Currently, Arctic SIE is 2nd lowest in the satellite record, and Antarctic SIE is 4th lowest. But they add such that global SIE is lowest, and it has been for most of 2017. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Dept of Wrong Predictions -- No Tricks Zone edition

The denier blog No Tricks Zone was sure, almost seven years ago, that global cooling was coming.

They even compiled a list of 31 scientists who said so! Wow. Impressive.
"As winters get harsher and the snow piles up, more and more scientists are now warning of global cooling. Reader Matt Vooro has compiled a list (see below) of 31 prominent scientists and researchers who have words that governments ought to start heeding."
And then they added yet another scientist's voiced to the list! 32. Looked like an attempt to establish a "consensus."


Needless to say, no cooling of any kind has occurred since 2010 -- there's been only warming, with 2014 and 2015 clearly warmer, and 2016 the warmest year on record -- warmer even than the El Nino season of 1997-98.

Do you suppose the blog's keeper Pierre Gosselin, or the blog post's writer, Matt Vooro, admitted they were wrong, and contacted those 32 scientists to ask why their predictions were wrong? ...Don't be silly....

GISTEMP up to June 2017

Saturday, August 05, 2017

The Stupidest Part of that Stupid WSJ Op-ed

On July 30th the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by David R. Henderson and John H. Cochrane, whoever they are, two economists at the conservative Hoover Institute, titled "Climate Change Isn’t the End of the World: Even if world temperatures rise, the appropriate policy response is still an open question."

So apparently now deniers are nearing the endgame: climate change is real, but we shouldn't do anything about it.

The article is paywalled, but you can find the first half or so here.

It contains a lot of shallow thinking, but this I found the most incoherent of all:
"But spread over a century, the costs of moving and adapting are not as imposing as they seem. Rotterdam’s dikes are expensive, but not prohibitively so. Most buildings are rebuilt about every 50 years. If we simply stopped building in flood-prone areas and started building on higher ground, even the costs of moving cities would be bearable. Migration is costly. But much of the world’s population moved from farms to cities in the 20th century. Allowing people to move to better climates in the 21st will be equally possible."
This is just dumb, because people aren't going to "moving" to escape climate change in, say, Florida, as it's inundated by sea level rise, they're going to be abandoning Florida.

No one will buy the house anyone abandons due to sea level rise -- home and business owners will simply lose the amount they've paid for their property and buildings, in a reverse game of musical chairs. No insurance companies will bail them out -- insurance companies are already pulling out of Florida.

  • "If sea levels rise as much as climate scientists predict by the year 2100, almost 300 U.S. cities would lose at least half their homes, and 36 U.S. cities would be completely lost.
  • "One in eight Florida homes would be under water, accounting for nearly half of the lost housing value nationwide.
  • "The median value of a home at risk of being underwater is $296,296. The value of the average U.S. home is $187,000." [Source]

If they're made whole at all, it will be by the federal government, which I expect will happen. Too many affluent people will complain to their representatives, saying it's not their fault that sea level rose, and it will be U.S. taxpayers who bail them out, who make them whole. And the same in most OECD countries.

How much will this cost? Trillions of dollars, at least, in the U.S. That will likely be paid by US taxpayers.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Now Haze, Too

It's supposed to be 107°F here again in Salem -- that was yesterday's high, a record -- and on top of that there is noticeable haze in the air, which meteorologists say is due to wildfires in British Columbia and in the mountains east of Salem. Here's a view of the haze here:

It's just a bit eerie.... Here's a satellite view of the Pacific Northwest, showing the big picture:

Meteorologists say the haze is keeping temperatures down a degree or two. There's an air quality alert for most of the state. In Portland it's even worse, with the air called "unhealthy" [news video that I can't get to embed; pictures from Portland].

I didn't mind the heat when I was younger -- I lived for 3 years in New Mexico and a year and half in Tempe, Arizona, and bicycled lots -- but as I've gotten older -- and, okay, larger -- I find it unpleasant. 80°F is about the top for me. The average high peaks at 84°F here, but in recent years there have been 100+ °F heat waves every couple of years. This is the worst I've see since I've been here. I loathe air conditioning, but am using it these last few days -- a fan just isn't enough. Even my cats are content to stay inside.