Archive for the ‘atmosphere’ Category

The Sun Watcher and the Dragon 

Posted: December 16, 2017 by oldbrew in atmosphere, Measurement, research, Solar physics
Tags: ,

TSIS-1 heading for the ISS [image credit: NASA]


In these times of unusually low sunspot activity, it’s more important than ever to get the best possible data about solar irradiance, using the latest technology – and here it is.

A new solar irradiance sensor is headed for the International Space Station, NASA reports.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off on December 15, 2017, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The rocket carried a SpaceX Dragon laden with 4,800 pounds of research equipment, cargo, and supplies for the International Space Station.

Amidst the research equipment is the Total and Spectral Solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS-1), a Sun-watching sensor that will measure how much solar energy reaches Earth (total solar irradiance) and how that energy is distributed across the electromagnetic spectrum (spectral solar irradiance).

The measurements are critical to understanding Earth’s energy budget, climate change, and how small variations in the Sun’s output can change the way energy circulates through Earth’s atmosphere.

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Jupiter’s cloud bands [image credit: NASA]


The report says: ‘On Earth, this relationship between distant events in a planet’s climate system is known as teleconnection.’ The surprise was to find evidence of it on both of the solar system’s two biggest planets.

Immense northern storms on Saturn can disturb atmospheric patterns at the planet’s equator, finds the international Cassini mission in a study led by Dr Leigh Fletcher from the University of Leicester.

This effect is also seen in Earth’s atmosphere, suggesting the two planets are more alike than previously thought, reports Phys.org.

Despite their considerable differences, the atmospheres of Earth, Jupiter, and Saturn all display a remarkably similar phenomenon in their equatorial regions: vertical, cyclical, downwards-moving patterns of alternating temperatures and wind systems that repeat over a period of multiple years.

These patterns—known as the Quasi-Periodic Oscillation (QPO) on Saturn and the Quasi-Quadrennial Oscillation (QQO) on Jupiter, due to their similarities to Earth’s so-called Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO)—appear to be a defining characteristic of the middle layers of a planetary atmosphere.

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Wind turbines towering over the landscape


This doesn’t seem to tie in with alarmist claims that warming will make hurricanes worse. Note there are several contentious assertions and assumptions about present and future climate in this report, i.e. it’s aimed squarely at man-made global warming believers. But it’s not too hard to see through their spin.

Warming is causing wind farms to get less efficient in the amount of power they can generate and it is bound to get worse, says the IB Times.

Climate change will cause wind farms to eventually get less efficient because the warming planet is changing the way wind currents move around the globe. Winds that traverse the northern hemisphere are more likely to be affected by this, and it is only going to get worse, according to two studies.

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New Sentinel satellite tracks dirty air

Posted: December 2, 2017 by oldbrew in atmosphere, Emissions, News, pollution

Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite [image credit: ESA]


This looks like a big advance in monitoring the contents of the Earth’s atmosphere, whether ‘dirty’ or not.

It’s been working less than a month but already the UK-Dutch-built Sentinel-5P satellite is returning spectacular new views of Earth’s atmosphere, says BBC News.

The spacecraft was designed to make daily global maps of the gases and particles that pollute the air.

The first sample images released by mission scientists show plumes of nitrogen dioxide flowing away from power plants and traffic-choked cities.

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Although the author appears sold on the idea of trace gases controlling the temperature of planetary atmospheres, the discussion about planets and water is worth a look. The answer to the question may depend on more powerful space telescopes like the James Webb.

Wherever we find water on Earth, we find life writes Elizabeth Tasker at Many Worlds.

It is a connection that extends to the most inhospitable locations, such as the acidic pools of Yellowstone, the black smokers on the ocean floor or the cracks in frozen glaciers.

This intimate relationship led to the NASA maxim, “Follow the Water”, when searching for life on other planets.

Yet it turns out you can have too much of a good thing.

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Blackpool, England [image credit: BBC News]


They say ‘these results are important as they demonstrate a previously unknown source of isotopes in the Earth’s atmosphere. These include carbon-13, carbon-14 and nitrogen-15…The findings also have implications for astronomers and planetary scientists.’

Thunder and lightning have sparked awe and fear in humans since time immemorial, says Phys.org. In both modern and ancient cultures, these natural phenomena are often thought to be governed by some of the most important and powerful gods – Indra in Hinduism, Zeus in Greek mythology and Thor in Norse mythology.

We know that thunderstorms can trigger a number of remarkable effects, most commonly power cuts, hailstorms and pets hiding under beds. But it turns out we still have things to learn about them. A new study, published in Nature, has now shown that thunderstorms can also produce radioactivity by triggering nuclear reactions in the atmosphere.

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Pluto probe


Uncertainty abounds here. Scientists expected –173° Celsius but ‘the probe found temperatures closer to –203° — with no obvious explanation.’ Perhaps there is a place where enlightenment could be found, if they cared to look.

Meanwhile the ‘gas only’ theory is under pressure [sic] again, as Pluto’s atmosphere apparently defies expectations.

Pluto may be the only place in the solar system whose atmosphere is kept cool by solid hazes, not warmed by gas, says Science News.

Blame Pluto’s haze for the dwarf planet’s unexpected chilliness. Clusters of hydrocarbons in the atmosphere radiate heat back into space, keeping the dwarf planet cool, a new study suggests.

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Hurricane Katrina, 2005 – The air pressure, another indicator of hurricane strength, at the center of this Category 5 storm measured 902 millibars, the fourth lowest air pressure on record for an Atlantic storm. The lower the air pressure, the more powerful the storm.
[image credit: Jeff Schmaltz, NASA/GSFC]


This is supported by Hurricanes – Science and Society, which says:
‘It is well accepted that the most influential factor in storm surge generation is the central pressure deficit, which controls the intensity of a hurricane, i.e. wind velocity and stress over the ocean surface and inverse barometric effects.’

The system for categorizing hurricanes accounts only for peak wind speeds, but research published in Nature Communications explains why central pressure deficit is a better indicator of economic damage
from storms in the United States, reports Phys.org.

“Sandy is the classic example. It was a very big storm, but in terms of maximum wind speed it was arguably not a hurricane,” said Dan Chavas, an assistant professor of atmospheric science at Purdue University who led the study. “If you looked at the central pressure deficit, you would have expected it to cause a lot of damage. But if you used maximum wind speed, as people usually do, you wouldn’t expect it to do the damage that it did.”

Central pressure deficit refers to the difference in pressure between the center of the storm and outside it. Pressure and wind speed have been used interchangeably to estimate potential damage from hurricanes for years, but the relationship between them has been a long-standing riddle in tropical meteorology.

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Juno probe


There’s nothing like observation for contradicting, or supporting, theory and the Juno probe has already upset a few ideas that scientists had about Jupiter.

Since it established orbit around Jupiter in July of 2016, the Juno mission has been sending back vital information about the gas giant’s atmosphere, magnetic field and weather patterns, as Universe Today reports.

With every passing orbit – known as perijoves, which take place every 53 days – the probe has revealed more interesting things about Jupiter, which scientists will rely on to learn more about its formation and evolution.

During its latest pass, the probe managed to provide the most detailed look to date of the planet’s interior. In so doing, it learned that Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field is askew, with different patterns in its northern and southern hemispheres.

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I got back from Rome last night following the highly successful World Climate Conference. Quite a number of CO2 sceptics gave presentations, which were politely received and discussed by all present. We even made a few converts. Here’s a short interview I made with Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller where they give their impressions and some insight into their paradigm shifting discovery of the temperature-pressure relationship which holds good across the entire solar system.

Ned and Karl’s two papers are here:

New Insights on the Physical Nature of the Atmospheric Greenhouse
Effect Deduced from an Empirical Planetary Temperature Model

On the average temperature of airless spherical bodies and the magnitude of Earth’s atmospheric thermal effect

They show that the uplift in temperature on Earth’s surface due to the presence of the atmosphere is not 33K as the current greenhouse theory states but 90K, and is due to atmospheric pressure at the surface, not the back radiation from ‘greenhouse gases’.

We’ve been following Ned and Karl’s work since 2010 here at the Talkshop. They are finally getting heard in a wider forum.


The researchers say ship exhaust can alter thunderstorm intensity. They seem to have ignored the fact that ships on the open seas have always been a natural target for lightning.

Thunderstorms directly above two of the world’s busiest shipping lanes are significantly more powerful than storms in areas of the ocean where ships don’t travel, according to new research reported at Phys.org.

A new study mapping lightning around the globe finds lightning strokes occur nearly twice as often directly above heavily-trafficked shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea than they do in areas of the ocean adjacent to shipping lanes that have similar climates.

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Is there a contradiction in this IB Times report? First it says volcanism causes cooling, then we’re told the resulting volcanic CO2 could have caused warming.

High concentration of mercury identified in ancient sediments suggest that large-scale episodes of volcanism coincided with the end-Triassic mass extinction around 201 million years ago.

It is likely that these huge pulses of volcanic activity led to great environmental perturbations, leading to the extinction of many species living on Earth at the time and setting the scene for the dawn of the dinosaurs.

Previous studies had already shown that volcanic activity was happening around the time of the extinction and there was some evidence for an increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.

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This guest post from Stephen Wilde offers a descriptive theoretical and qualitative perspective on the ‘gravito-thermal’ theory. It covers the vertical profile of the atmosphere as well as the surface temperature comprehensively quantified by Nikolov and Zeller’s latest paper.

How conduction and convection cause a greenhouse effect arising from atmospheric mass.
Stephen Wilde

Introduction

The current scientific consensus is that Earth’s so called ‘greenhouse effect’ is caused by the presence of radiating gases in the atmosphere but many years ago, I learned what  I then understood to be the consensus view that it is actually a result of atmospheric mass such that the radiative characteristics of the atmosphere are either wholly or largely irrelevant.

The ‘greenhouse effect’ is an apt description for the mass based phenomenon because warming, descending air (which is occurring over half the planet at any given moment) will inhibit convection in the same way as does a greenhouse roof and by dissipating clouds it increases incoming sunlight through that barrier to convection just like the transparency of a greenhouse roof.

If the greenhouse effect is attributable to atmospheric mass rather than radiative characteristics then the fact that the vast bulk of Earth’s atmosphere is comprised of mass that is non-radiative is likely to mean that human emissions of radiative gases are not important as a regulator of surface temperature.

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N-KFig_4

Back in late 2011, the Talkshop splashed the story on a ‘Unified Theory of Climate’  developed by PhD physicists Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller. They set out to show that the ‘greenhouse effect’ is not a phenomenon arising out of the absorption and reemission of outgoing long-wave radiation by the atmosphere (as thought for 190 years), but is a form of compression heating controlled by solar radiation and the total atmospheric pressure at the Earth’s surface. Pressure is in turn a product of the gas mass contained in a column of air above a unit surface area, and the planet’s gravitational effect on that mass.

It’s been a long and treacherous road involving many revisions and refinements of the original study. On several occasions the manuscript was rejected unread, but Ned and Karl have finally got their greatly improved and expanded paper published. This latest version is a tour de force strengthened by the rigors of criticism from an army of peer reviewers at several journals along the way.

Using dimensional analysis (a classical technique for inferring physically meaningful relationships from measured data), they show that the long-term global equilibrium surface temperature of bodies in the solar system as diverse as Venus, the Moon, Earth, Mars, Titan and Triton can accurately be described using only two predictors: the mean distance from the Sun and the total atmospheric surface pressure. This type of cross-planetary analysis using vetted NASA observations has not been conducted by any other authors. It represents the first and only attempt in the history of climate science to assess Earth’s surface temperature in the context of a cosmic physical continuum defined by actual planetary-scale observations. The result is a new insight that planetary climates are independent of the infrared optical depth of their atmospheres arising from their composition, and that the long-wave ‘back radiation’ is actually a product of the atmospheric thermal effect rather than a cause for it.

dimensional

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One high-altitude nuclear test even managed to create its own artificial aurora. Others knocked out orbiting satellites.

Our Cold War history is now offering scientists a chance to better understand the complex space system that surrounds us, says Phys.org.

Space weather — which can include changes in Earth’s magnetic environment— is usually triggered by the sun’s activity, but recently declassified data on high-altitude nuclear explosion tests have provided a new look at the mechanisms that set off perturbations in that magnetic system.

Such information can help support NASA’s efforts to protect satellites and astronauts from the natural radiation inherent in space. From 1958 to 1962, the U.S. and U.S.S.R. ran high-altitude tests with exotic code names like Starfish, Argus and Teak.

The tests have long since ended, and the goals at the time were military. Today, however, they can provide crucial information on how humans can affect space.

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Image credit: Chris Sampson / Wikipedia


Even buying an ice cream from a van could be a health hazard, in Britain at least, according to the Mail on Sunday’s roadside test results. A pre-existing condition might be triggered by the fumes, they say. The anti-diesel campaign rumbles on.

Diesel-engined ice cream vans are spewing out dangerously high levels of a deadly pollutant which is especially harmful to young children, a Mail on Sunday investigation has revealed.

The engines are kept running while the vans are parked to power their fridges, leaving queuing families to breathe in a pollutant that can trigger asthma attacks after just a few minutes’ exposure and is responsible for thousands of deaths each year.

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The satellites won’t land as the surface pressure – 92 times that of Earth – and heat of Venus would destroy them. Instead they will look for a ‘mysterious substance’ thought to be lurking in its atmosphere.

NASA has spent $3.6 million to build 12 small satellites to explore the planet Venus in search of a mysterious substance that absorbs half the planet’s light, reports The Daily Caller.

The CubeSat UV Experiment (CUVE) mission will launch the satellites to investigate atmospheric processes on Venus. The 12 satellites vary in size. One is less than four inches across and weighs a few ounces. Another weighs 400 pounds.
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Who gets a say in deciding whether to interfere with nature on a global scale?


Despite confessing to being ‘baffled by clouds’, climate science and its media followers are still prone to assertions like ‘as the world warms’ – as though it’s bound to do so indefinitely.

Though we see them every day, clouds remain such a mystery to scientists that they are inhibiting climate change predictions. But a new atlas could be a game changer, thinks DW.COM.

Nothing beats a lazy afternoon sitting on the grass and watching the clouds roll by. These white fluffy friends can feel like a constant and comforting presence in life. And since the dawn of air travel, as folk singer Joni Mitchell once sang, we’ve looked at clouds from both sides now.

But as Mitchell cautioned, somewhow we still don’t know clouds at all. Her words were true in 1969, and they are still true today.
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Tropical beach

Tropical beach


Can the tropics ever get too hot for life on Earth, or not? That’s the question posed by this research. As the report notes: ‘these theories are controversial’.

New research findings show that as the world warmed millions of years ago, conditions in the tropics may have made it so hot some organisms couldn’t survive, reports Phys.org.

Longstanding theories dating to the 1980s suggest that as the rest of the earth warms, the tropical temperatures would be strictly limited, or regulated by an internal ‘thermostat.’

These theories are controversial, but the debate is of great importance because the tropics and subtropics comprise half of the earth’s surface area, greater than half of the earth’s biodiversity, as well as over half the earth’s human population.

But new geological and climate-based research indicates the tropics may have reached a temperature 56 million years ago that was, indeed, too hot for living organisms to survive in parts of the tropics.
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