Kilauea image courtesy milazinkova via wikipedia, click image for details
Doug Protor writes: -
“I’m on the Big Island, Hawaii right now. There is a “drought” here: at the Volcano Winery just outside the Kilauea crater, they are only getting 110 inches of rain a year, instead of 180 inches of rain. Been going on for 7 years. The vineyards need irrigating and the grasslands are yellow and dry, in an extreme hazard for fire.
But still 110 inches of rain. The term “drought” as used by McKibben, clearly has a use aspect, not just a technical term of quantity. If your vineyards need water, it is a drought. If your cactus farm is drowning, it’s a record flood. If you are doing nothing with it, it is dry, which it sometimes does, and the resultant fires put nutrients into the lava fields.
I was up at the Mauna Loa observatory yesterday, 6 miles from the summit, at just over 11,000′ above sea-level. During the last ice age, there were glaciers on Mauna Loa and Mauna Lea. From the summit to sea level, the temperature rose from 55*F to 81*F. Normal adiabatic temperature profile, I suppose, 2.4F/1000′. Higher than I thought from my university days, but physics these days is special, according to Al Gore and David Suzuki, so what relevance does my observation have to anything of current importance.
But this rate did make me wonder about the snow on the summits of these volcanoes. If 26K difference is not weird, to get to freezing temperatures of 32F (0C) at 11,000′, you’d probably have to have 60F on the coast. Cold for sure, but understandable at time. However, as an average, this would be the temperature of a “temperate”, not tropical, climate. And Hawaii has not been in a temperature climate for geological ages.
It does get cool at times, but that is the point, at times. Even back in the day of continental glaciers, the term would be “at times”.
It strikes me that despite the global cooling during the ice age, there would be no reason for temperatures to be consistently below freezing at either summit. Then how do you account for glaciers in Hawaii?
Glaciers develop because more snowfall happens during the cold times than melts during the warm times. This is the fundamental law of glacial development and must be kept in the forefront of any discussion of glacial expansion or shrinkage. It is separate, though related to ice advance: after 125m or so of ice has developed, ice changes from a rigid solid to a plastic solid. Ice flows, and a glacier now exists (until then it is not a glacier, but a “stagnant” block of ice, which is what most of our Rocky Mountain “glaciers” are these days).
Glaciers masses develop because more snow falls than melts, and glaciers move because thick ice becomes plastic under pressure. Neither of these is temperature dependent in itself, except that the heat balance must allow a retention of subzero temperatures in a portion – only a portion – of an ice mass.
Next part of the thought sequence:
So I connect the “drought” with the loss of glaciers in Hawaii. We’re in the middle of the warm, pacific ocean, and I suggest that there is not a dearth of moisture potential. But there clearly is a dearth of actual moisture near the dew point relative to the recent past, i.e. when the winds rise up the volcano flanks, there is less rain or (at the top) snow. So however moist air arrives here, it comes with a lower relative humidity today than it did 10 years ago. And probably relative to what it did 50,000 years ago.
Global warming is blamed for every drought. Out here, global warming should create higher moisture levels in the air at the water surface, a higher absolute and relative humidity. Going up the mountain should mean more rainfall, not less. And during the last ice age, the only way that glaciers could exist here is if there was more moisture in the air arriving than today.
Which brings us back to regional effects, not necessarily global. Winds and ocean currents, principally winds. A significant heat redistribution issue, not necessarily a significant heat rise or fall issue. Winds that START OUT moist moving across the Pacific bring a lot of rainfall to Hawaii, not just winds that move across the Pacific and pick up moisture. If the winds are drier, the vineyards fail and glaciers disappear.
That is not global warming, not at points of a degree. It might even be – horrors! – longer-term weather variations, i.e. climatic variability.
Now here is another thought from the trip up Mauna Loa, CO2:
Mauna Loa is the center of Global Warming because of its CO2 record. Perhaps we need to look closely at its precipitation, temperature, sunshine, oceanic pH as well as CO2 record to see if the “centre” has more to say about the reality of “global” changes than we have thought:
The CO2 profile you see is very much massaged and “corrected”. Not only is the air there modified by seasonal variations in degassing of CO2 from the surrounding ocean, but longer term variations in CO2 degassing must occur: I have read of studies of the English Channel and the near-Antarctic waters that found significant changes over the years, but never did I wonder about the near-Mauna Loa waters. Have they changed over the long term? Has the Mauna Loa record been seeing long-term, not just seasonal, oceanic degassing changes? Beyond those, what of the Kilauea volcano out-gassings.
The Kilauea volcano alternates between summit and flank eruptions. I haven’t the map in front of me, but eruptions happened In the 1950s, the early 70s, and early 80s, the last, which almost took out the coastal city of Hilo. Starting 2008 the summit has been active again, so much that only the upwind half of the crater rim drive is open to the public (a bit of the nervous-nelly precautionary principle here, I think). Sometimes the winds blow one way and sometimes the other: the CO2 measurements of Mauna Loa have to take this local outgassing and wind variation into account. Which must be difficult, because when you look at the lava you can see that there are significant chemical changes in the rock in terms of iron content, temperature and gas (bubble density and size). CO2 output must change along with the easily recognized sulphur content.
This is not to say that the Mauna Loa CO2 profile is wrong, but that what we might naively think of as a simple picture of what is in the air from day-to-day, is clearly an “adjusted” representation. All the things that are considered to be not representing the “global” or planetary air have been removed. And since Mann and Hansen have taught us to be wary of adjustments which fit a narrative, perhaps we should check out the raw data for CO2. (Which I haven’t done, though I’m sure it is easily available.)
CAGW has made us suspicious not just of industry and politicians, which we already discounted, but of the men in the white coats that H.G. Wells and Bernard Shaw thought should guide us into a golden age of the philosopher kings dedicated to reason. That’s a shame, but it’s a fact that we do not experience facts but interpretations. Even our own eyes deceive us, because what we think we see is what our brains TELL us we see.
Now I want to see the raw data of Mauna Loa. And I want to see some other raw data, maybe from central Antarctica where at least I won’t have vegetation (including phytoplancton) screwing up the record. And even then I won’t be happy because I’m worried that oceanic outgassing is more significant than I have been told.
Caveat emptor, I suppose. For everything.
P.S. In a couple of hours I am getting on a helicopter out of Hilo for a volcano tour. Will see the Kilauea crater and the place where current fissures leak lava into the ocean, outside Kalapana. If I knew how you guys paste images/graphs onto your blog post, I’d put in photos of the Observatory. You aren’t allowed onto the observatory grounds, but you can look up at them. The Observatory is 6 miles/10 km from the summit, in large lava fields that erupted in 1984.”
Many thanks Doug, copied from Suggestions