Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Hiatus in Sea Level Acceleration Looks to be Ending

So I was looking at the latest sea level data from AVISO in France. A recent publication found that sea level rise is accelerating, at 0.084 ± 0.025 mm/yr2 (In just the satellite era.) I get 0.061 ± 0.007 mm/yr2 when I fit the data to a second-order polynomial (the same method used by Nerem et al, the paper mentioned in the previous sentence.), but I'm sure my error bar (2σ) is too small because I didn't include autocorrelation. Anyway, I get about the same number they do.

The acceleration has been about constant for about two years, but maybe there's a little uptick at the end:

Two comments about this graph:

1) the missing error bars (white gaps) are, I'm pretty sure, due to a bug in Excel, and
2) again, the error bars here are without considering autocorrelation. (As I've written before, I don't know how to do the calculation of error bars for a 2nd-order (or higher) polynomial in the presence of autocorrelation. If anyone reading this knows, I'd appreciate a comment with more information.)

The acceleration changes relatively slowly, but once it starts changing it takes some time to stop. It has a lot of inertia, you might say. So its slight upturn now will probably continue into larger values,especially since we're entering an El Nino -- see the 2015-2016 period in the graph, with its monster El Nino.

I'm working on doing to 3rd-order polynomial fit. It's not obvious it will be better....

It Confounds the Science

Monday, December 10, 2018

India's Clean Energy Efforts are Very Impressive

This is impressive, and from a country whose per capita CO2 emissions are 11% of Americans'.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Oil Drilling Likely Caused Post-WW2 Los Angeles Earthquakes

A new study says 1940s and 1950s earthquakes in Los Angeles were likely caused by WW2-era oil extraction.
Six independent earthquakes and two aftershocks of magnitude 4.4 to 5.1 shook Los Angeles between 1935 and 1944, a rate of about one every two years. The area also experienced a higher rate of low-intensity earthquakes during that time frame. After 1945, the rate dropped to one moderate earthquake every seven years.
The article's link has an interesting picture of oil derricks right up next to Huntington Beach. Up to 9 billion barrels came out of the ground -- about what the US now produces in years.
Unlike recent earthquakes associated with hydraulic fracturing in Oklahoma, the mid-century events were not caused by deep fluid injection but were likely caused by taking oil out of the ground, according to the new study.
The article says the oil companies knew they were causing earthquakes, because of smaller and more frequent earthquakes in their oil fields. ('Course, they didn't pay for the damages they did. Maybe no one complained back then because "oil fueled the growth of Los Angeles from 50,000 people in 1890 to 1.5 million in 1940."

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

2018's CO2 Increase is 2.7% Over 2017's

So the big news of the day is that 2018's global CO2 emissions are projected to be 2.7% above 2017's number.

That is, indeed, not good news. It's a fairly big number. It will deflate a lot of hopes.

FRED says only that, strangely, 2015 World GDP was -5.6% lower than 2014's. I've seen this before and it mystified me then, too.

So I can't compare 2017's World GDP to 2016's.

WaPo plays coy with their source material, but it's this paper in Earth System Science Data. (Which is at least open access.)

Why the increase? Part of it is the increase in US CO2 emissions that I wrote about earlier, running about 1%. Part of it is about China's increased emissions. And then India's too. These Big-3 cover most of what's going on.... After a quick read, I don't see where they give the recent annual increases by country, but I might change my mind after a 2nd reading with fresh eyes.... I hope I'm wrong about this, but if not they've been irresponsible.

The problem is that from 2013-2015 global CO2 emissions seemed to be flat. People misattributed this (apparently) to a permanent decrease in global burning of fossil fuels, but that was clearly not true when the year-over-year increases in 2017 were 1.6% over 2016's value.

Then the yellow jackets in France are protesting higher fuel prices due to carbon taxes. I think a carbon tax-and-dividend would handle this nicely, and even alleviate poverty, but no politicians have enough foresight and bravery to offer one. So it's no surprise they are going to get pounded on such taxes.

How can these emissions be calculated so exactly? Because oil, natural gas and coal cost money!, and these billings from large companies are relatively easy to add up. And because carbon people have a pretty good idea of how land use changes -- like turning a forest into a field, or building in a city -- count towards carbon emissions. I'm sure it's not easy work, but it's not especially complicated, either.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Edward Teller's 1959 Warning about Global Warming

There was an even earlier, significant warning about carbon dioxide, than that in 1965 from the American Petroleum Institute. It came from Edward Teller in 1959.

That year, there were five invited speakers at a symposium at Columbia University. Teller talked about some wild applications for nuclear bombs, but he started his talk with these words about carbon dioxide:
"Carbon dioxide has a strange property. It transmits visible light but it absorbs the infrared radiation which is emitted from the earth. Its presence in the atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect in that it will allow the solar rays to enter, but it will to some extent impede the radiation from the earth into outer space. The result is that the earth will continue to heat up until a balance is re-established. Then the earth will be at a higher temperature and will radiate more. It has been calculated that a temperature rise corresponding to a l0 per cent increase in carbon dioxide will be sufficient to melt the icecap and submerge New York. All the coastal cities would be covered, and since a considerable percentage of the human race lives in coastal regions, I think that this chemical contamination is more serious than most people tend to believe."
This comes from a book review of the symposium's talks on Amazon, and it's what The Guardian printed earlier this year. There was a question after the talk's end that offers more insight into Teller's thinking:
Dean Brown: Here is another clarifying question. Would you please summarize briefly the danger from increased carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere in this century?

Dr. Teller: At present the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen by 2 per cent over normal. By 1970, it will be perhaps 4 per cent, by 1980, 8 per cent, by 1990, 16 percent, if we keep on with our exponential rise in the use of purely conventional fuels. By that time, there will be a serious additional impediment for the radiation leaving the earth. Our planet will get a little warmer. It is hard to say whether it will be 2 degrees Fahrenheit or only one or 5. But when the temperature does rise by a few degrees over the whole globe, there is a possibility that the icecaps will start melting and the level of the oceans will begin to rise. Well, I don't know whether they will cover the Empire. State Building or not, but anyone can calculate it by looking at the map and noting that the icecaps over Greenland and over Antarctica are perhaps five thousand feet thick.
Teller wasn't pessimistic enough. In 1970 atmospheric CO2 was 16% above the preindustrial value, 21% in 1980, and by 1990 it was 27%.

This was almost six decades ago. Scientists knew. The oil industry knew. The Lyndon Johnson administration knew. A large research program should have been set up then, and something like the IPCC. Those denying a CO2 role should be ashamed of themselves.