andygates: (polarbear)
Well Def Jeff over at Weather Underground has a detailed post on a new weather pattern that's been identified over the Arctic:

The old atmospheric patterns that controlled Arctic weather--the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Arctic Oscillation (AO), which featured air flow that tended to circle the pole, now alternate with the new Arctic Dipole pattern. The Arctic Dipole pattern features anomalous high pressure on the North American side of the Arctic, and low pressure on the Eurasian side. This results in winds blowing more from south to north, increasing transport of heat into the central Arctic Ocean.

This is fascinating - we knew there would be these large-scale changes, but not really what they'd be until they happened. The heat transport possibly explains the excess melting that has occurred in recent years: it wasn't in the current crop of ice prediction models, so they've been conservative.

The Arctic is switching from swirling jetstreams around the pole to winds from the South slurping warm air, so "fascinating" should be accompanied with a generous side of "oh crap".
andygates: (Default)
10:10 is a simple challenge: cut your emissions by 10% in 2010. It ain't a huge leap but it's big enough to matter and small enough not to hurt. Now, long-term, this sort of personal effort isn't going to do it: it's not going to effect the infrastructural changes, but it might highlight where those changes are really needed.

It's close enough to the end of the year for me to audit my emissions:
  • Transport: According to my training diary I had 200 drive days in 2009 (ouch!). I'm committing to no more than 180 in 2010. I actually want way more bike days, but running and weights both kill my legs and gumption - and if that's the case then I should look at the bus and carpooling as well.
  • Food: I'm reliably informed that if a vegan diet is a baseline carbon intensity, veggie is double that and meaty is triple. A shift from "plenty of meat" to "meat is a treat" should take the edge off that. I've already downloaded a couple of veggie ebooks.
  • Domestic power: Pretty green already here, but I'll try to run the heaters less. If any appliances explode, they'll be replaced with A+ energy savers.
  • Work: Okay, I'll turn my PC off on weekdays. Running BOINC really isn't an excuse for laziness, is it? ;)
  • Leisure: Hard to do triathlon without a vehicle, but sharing will help. Didn't fly in 2009, not planning to fly in 2010.
andygates: (Default)
I love Deltoid. Here's their beautiful takedown of one of the so-called climategate drama points: the "very artificial!" computer code: Quote Mining Code. In a nutshell: the code was ugly but so is my appendix. It's vestigial crap that was never published, disk cruft that's been dug up and paraded around by the usual wingnut buffoons.

Every point of science has been taken apart now, clearly and easily. It was never going to be any other way.

(There remains the procedural matter of the alleged FOI stuff, but that's still in the air especially as no FOI request may actually have been made and the data may not have been FOI-able at all: again, shooting the shit is not conspiracy even if it's dumb shit).

Of course someone was bound to try to use this rubbish as leverage at Copenhagen. Who would that be? Who has vested interests in selling scads of fossil fuel? Why, Saudi Arabia of course. Follow the money.

Zerg Rush

Nov. 26th, 2009 02:07 pm
andygates: (Default)
The game is memetic warfare. The opponent has built a spawning pool (a PR industry) and is producing many zerglings (ideas with no real merit: one-hit monsters) in great quantity. The player has developed their tech tree (science) and has used it to build strong troops (verified, rational ideas).

Given enough time, the strong troopers will win (tobacco/cancer, CFCs/ozone, etc etc). Is the zerg-rush model useful in suggesting tactics to use to speed up their victory?
andygates: (Default)

The Wave, on Saturday 5 December, will be a carnival style procession through the streets of London to call for international action on climate change. It is being organised by the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, which has been organising peaceful climate change marches since 2006 to keep the pressure on government for definite action on climate change.
details of the day

* Meeting from 12pm, Grovesner Square, central London
* Starts at approximately 1pm
* The route will flow from Grosvenor Square, via Piccadilly and Whitehall, to finally encircle the Houses of Parliament on both sides of the Thames.
* A stunning finale will take place at 3pm as The Wave encircles the Houses of Parliament
And there's a local coach going up! Grin

Greenies and activists, you have a few days to convince me that this will be more worthwhile and less soul-crushing than the Iraq protest.  I can't face that level of cynical ignoring again.  I'd rather just go do something direct.
andygates: (polarbear)
Both NOAA and NASA rate September's global temperatures as the second-hottest on record, narrowly missing the 2005 peak (by well under a tenth of a degree).  Meanwhile, a first look at the data from Pen Hadow's arctic ice survey - the Catlin Ice Survey - show that ice is thinner than expected, bringing the ice-free Summer Arctic forward from around 2050-ish to around 2030-ish. 

You'll get to see it.

Thin ice means ice that has formed this year.  It's relatively flimsy and breaks up in heavy weather, and broken ice melts faster.  Hadow's team got the data by walking across the ice with an auger, drilling holes, and measuring how far down the water was.  Pretty hands-on stuff.  This was married up to the satellite data, allowing better calibration of ice-sensing kit (mostly radar, IIRC).  The spiffy radar sled they were supposed to be using broke down at the start, which is why they had to go oldschool.

I think even the dimmest bastard out there can grasp the technique here:  Drill a hole, plunge a stick into it, and say "holy fucking shit".  Repeat a couple thousand times. 

(Polar data is available for all, at the Polar Data Catalog)
andygates: (polarbear)
Walruses might be the new polar bears, their territories moving as sea ice retreats and a gruesome mass death reported here

Meanwhile in Arctic sea ice news, the melt has pretty much finished for the year and it's the same area as the last few years. 

This year's melt was blocked somewhat by weather - prevailing winds meant that melted ice was backing up in pinch points rather than drifting into the oceans, and that's a major factor in how much total ice goes. 

So, were still in the realm of cosmic doom -- though an optimist could look at the minima and see a fall to 2007 then a bounce back to today, there's no mechanism to support that and it's most likely noise, not signal.

Not as bad as it could have been.  Not a return to pre-"holy crap!" levels either.  The models predicting ice-free summers by mid-century still hold.

andygates: (polarbear)
American boffins have reconstructed Arctic summer temperatures back to 0AD.  Since then there's been a steady, gentle cooling as the Earth's orbit changes along well-known paths, until you get to about 1900 when it hikes way up.  Yup, it's another hockey-stick shaped graph.  Yup, it's more doom.  Yup, it's good solid science.  Well Def Jeff explains it very well, and NCAR have a press release.  The paper is here in Science, and for that arse-clenching feeling of eschatological melting doom we all know and love, here's NCAR's graph:
Jeff mentions another snippet of Arctic melty news that I haven't heard elsewhere: This year's Northeast Passage is now open and a couple of commercial vessels are headed through it.  Commercial shipping through seasonal melt passages?  Check.  Give it three years and it'll be on TV as one of those "Most Dangerous Jobs" shows:   "Pyotr and the crew of the Barents Babushka are still two hundred kilometres behind Hans and Ludo but with the summer melt ended and the Passage beginning to refreeze, the Germans face disaster as the Kara 2 throws a cylinder in the middle of thickening frasil ice."  You heard it here first.
andygates: (polarbear)
This year's seasonal Arctic melt is getting well underway.  The exact level is mostly guesswork unless you've been paying attention to the last year or so's weather up there - and even if you have, there's plenty of natural variability to season the pudding. 

To help choose your "extent o' doom" [tm] here's a pointer: so much ice melted last year that a lot of this year's ice is thin single-year stuff, more vulnerable to warm weather and storm breakup. 

To recover multi-year ice, we'll need the last couple of years to have been a blip and for a couple of years of better-than-the-scary-plunging-red-eyetrend.  If the coverage ends up below 4,000,000 sq km, the blip is strongly reinforced as a nose-dive trend.


Apr. 24th, 2009 12:17 am
andygates: (Default)
So, the gov say "moar coal!" - BOO! - and they stitch carbon-capture requirements to it.  YAY?  Or not yay?

On the one hand, shoveling cash at the tech will get it developed faster than the market would do -- the market will definitely not save our arses, it doesn't respond fast enough.  So we have a good chance of getting industrial-scale CCS and a stack of British expertise to flog to India, China and the USA.  This is good.

On the other hand, the string connecting the new plants to the CCS isn't as tight as I'd like - it really needs to apply to all of the plant's emissions and be a requirement before the plants go live. It's a gamble on future-tech, which makes me twitchy.

I sense two strategies for making this work, other than just lots of boffins brainstorming in their thinking pits:  First, before CCS is properly born, direct action will slow down plant construction to a crawl.  Swampy in Kingsnorth, so to speak.  Second, the big green lobbies ought to be able to get all legal on the generators and compel them to apply the capture tech to the whole plant - you don't put a cat on just one cylinder of your car, the idea is absurd.

So overall, a guarded welcome, with plenty of sceptical eyes out for welshing.  Thoughts?

Time for a heated debate!
andygates: (polarbear)
More doom.  It comes to something when Well Def Jeff says, "The latest Arctic Report Card 2008 concludes that "it is becoming increasingly likely that the Arctic will change from a perennially ice-covered to an ice-free ocean in the summer". The best hope I see for the Arctic sea ice to recover in the next few years is for a major volcanic eruption in the tropics to create a "Volcanic Winter" cooling effect for a year or two."

My prediction remains 2012 for an ice-free summer Arctic.  Whaddya know, it'll be the end of the world as we know it after all. 

Thin ice

Apr. 8th, 2009 06:30 pm
andygates: (polarbear)
More analysis of this years Arctic ice shows that it's now 90% one-year ice, only 10% 2+ year ice.  One-year ice is pretty thin compared to multi-year ice, and melts and breaks up more easily.  It's not a happy omen.  (Source: BBC)


This from the CC with Walt Meier NISDC and Ron Kwok NASA/JPL last Monday:

Current multiyear ice is 9.8%
That is a record low since 1981
That is 66% lower that the 1981-2000 average

andygates: (polarbear)
Arctic sea ice spreads in winter and retreats in summer.  The figures for this winter's maximum extent are out, and they show the fifth-lowest maximum in the satellite record. 

On February 28, Arctic sea ice reached its maximum extent for the year, at 15.14 million square kilometers (5.85 million square miles). The maximum extent was 720,000 square kilometers (278,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average of 15.86 million square kilometers (6.12 million square miles), making it the fifth-lowest maximum extent in the satellite record. The six lowest maximum extents since 1979 have all occurred in the last six years (2004 to 2009). [emphasis mine]

Source: NSIDC, with more detail to follow (follow NSIDC_Arcticice on Twitter for updates). 
andygates: (Default)
Geoengineering fun: Iron-seeding experiments caused an algal bloom... but the algae didn't die off nicely, instead, it was all et by algae-eating critters who had a population explosion of their own and pulled the plug on the bloom before it peaked and died and sank nicely like it did in the lab.  Oops!
andygates: (polarbear)
The autumn freeze is under way in the Arctic and analysis of the summer melt is getting under way.  You'll recall that the ice area didn't beat 2007's startling minimum, coming a mere second-worst-since-humans-evolved.


It's not all roses though (if that qualifies as roses, and frankly, if that does qualify as roses then I want what you're taking).

This NSIDC map shows the ice age at the melt minimum.  Red is first-year ice, stuff that froze in the winter of 2007-8.  Orange is two-year ice, yellow is three years or older (white is where there isn't enough ice to tell - patchy, grobbly stuff the satellite can't get a bead on).

The North Pole is just about where the old ice that's shoved up against Greenland ends and the one-year ice in the middle of the 2008 picture begins.

New ice is thin, old ice is thick.  So while the area isn't less, the volume of ice in the Arctic is less: like the NSIDC boffins say, "no recovery at all" and it "strongly reinforces the downward trend".


andygates: (Default)

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