Archive for the ‘research’ Category

Flooding in Houston from Hurricane Harvey 2017 [image credit: BBC]


This looks like another way of saying nobody can be sure what is natural variation and what – if anything – isn’t, when it comes to rainfall patterns at least. Or if they think they can work something out, it would have to be over a lot longer period than currently available data allows. Result: decision makers must fly blind as Phys.org suggests – probably by making assumptions based on poorly-performing climate models.

New research from The Australian National University (ANU) and ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science suggests natural rainfall variation is so great that it could take a human lifetime for significant climate signals to appear in regional or global rainfall measures.

Even exceptional droughts like those over the Murray Darling Basin (2000-2009) and the 2011 to 2017 Californian drought fit within the natural variations in the long-term precipitation records, according to the statistical method used by the researchers.

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Image credit: metlink.org


One finding was ‘that in the state of Florida alone urban heat island effects cause an estimated $400 million in excess costs for air conditioning’. Of course in somewhere cold like Alaska such effects would likely be beneficial.

The way streets and buildings are arranged makes a big difference in how heat builds up, study shows.

The arrangement of a city’s streets and buildings plays a crucial role in the local urban heat island effect, which causes cities to be hotter than their surroundings, researchers have found.

The new finding could provide city planners and officials with new ways to influence those effects, says MIT News.

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Fiji beach [image credit: travelonline.com]


H/T The GWPF

The oceanographer Nils-Axel Mörner challenges the IPCC and warnings about sinking islands, in a recent interview.

Mr. Mörner, you have recently visited the Fiji islands in South Pacific several times in order to research changes on the coasts and sea levels. Why Fiji?

Nils-Axel Mörner: I knew there would be a science conference in New York in June 2017 that focused on sea level changes in Fiji. In addition, it was known that the island nation would chair the 23rd World Climate Conference, which took place last November in Bonn. Thus, Fiji moved into the focus of interest. It was said that the rising sea level had done a lot of damage there. I wanted to check with my own eyes if that is true.

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Image credit: theozonehole.com


‘The salinity puzzle’ – something new for climate theorists to ponder and debate. Here they still refer to ‘heat-trapping’ gases, having ignored or forgotten about convection.

Researchers aboard an Australian ship undertaking pioneering work in the Southern Ocean have found the “first hint” of a shift in a decades-long trend towards fresher, less dense water off Antarctica, reports The Age.

Teams of scientists on the RV Investigator have been profiling the salinity and temperature of water between Tasmania and Antarctica at 108 locations. They also released the first batch of deep Argot floats to measure conditions as deep as 4000 metres.

But it is the early analysis of data on salinity in the so-called bottom waters near the seabed that may stir international debate.

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A reconstruction of the Anglian ice sheet in Precambrian North London (credit: BBC / The Natural History Museum, London)

This isn’t the first time a dust-related theory of long-term climate change has been put forward. But this one looks at what could have caused the Earth to go into cycles of glacial and interglacial periods in the first place.

Dust that blew into the North Pacific Ocean could help explain why the Earth’s climate cooled 2.7 million years ago, according to a new study, reports ScienceDaily.

One of the co-authors was Alex Pullen, an assistant professor of environmental engineering and earth sciences at Clemson University.

“Why study the past? It’s a great predictor of the future,” he said. “The findings of this study were both interesting and very unexpected.”

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Image credit: strangesounds.org


But amplitude variations in the hum did not correlate with the seasons as once thought.

Scientists finally capture hum coming from the centre of the Earth, reports GeologyIn.

Although we like to think we know everything – and technology has advanced so much we practically have the answer to everything we don’t know at our fingertips – there are still plenty of mysteries left to solve.

For the past few decades, something has been becoming increasingly clear: Earth constantly hums, even though we can’t hear it.

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Solar wind at Mars [image credit: universetoday.com]


The researchers say ‘the solar wind likely only had a very small direct effect on the amount of Mars atmosphere that has been lost over time.’ This makes them suspect that ‘a magnetic field is not as important in shielding a planet’s atmosphere as the planet’s gravity itself.’ It was always hard to see how the magnetic shield theory worked when Venus with its dense atmosphere has little magnetism.

The Red Planet’s low gravity and lack of magnetic field makes its outermost atmosphere an easy target to be swept away by the solar wind, but new evidence from ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft shows that the Sun’s radiation may play a surprising role in its escape, reports Phys.org.

Why the atmospheres of the rocky planets in the inner solar system evolved so differently over 4.6 billion years is key to understanding what makes a planet habitable.

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Solar flare [image credit: NASA/SDO]

The “entangled magnetic ‘rope’ forms” leading to eruptions sound similar to Birkeland currents, which can become like ‘twisted or braided rope’ and also feature in auroras.

A single phenomenon may underlie all solar eruptions, according to researchers from the CNRS, École Polytechnique, CEA and INRIA in an article featured on the cover of the February 8 issue of Nature.

They have identified the presence of a confining ‘cage’ in which an entangled magnetic ‘rope’ forms, causing solar eruptions, reports Phys.org.

It is the resistance of this cage to the attack of the rope that determines the power and type of the upcoming flare.

This work has enabled the scientists to develop a model capable of predicting the maximum energy that can be released during a solar flare, which could have potentially devastating consequences for the Earth.

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Image credit: phys.org


When does absence of evidence become evidence of absence? Dark matter has never been detected despite years of effort. Here we have ‘a universal phenomenon that demands new explanations’, says the lead researcher. Galaxies in disc-shaped planes appear to mirror what we see with solar systems – like ours – and their planets.

An international team of astronomers led by the University of Basel in Switzerland has looked at the movement and distribution of satellite galaxies in the constellation Centaurus A and finds that their observations call into question the existence of dark matter, says The Space Reporter.

The findings are reported in the journal Science.

Dark matter is a hypothetical type of invisible matter that has never been directly observed because it does not emit or interact with electromagnetic radiation. Its existence has been inferred by its apparent influences on visible matter and light.

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US wind farm [image credit: Steve Wilson @ Wikipedia]


Some resistance is inevitable but the policy is clear: let the renewables industries pay more for their own research.
H/T Phys.org

The Trump administration will ask Congress to cut funding for clean energy and energy efficiency programs by 72 percent in this year’s budget, according to a report in the Washington Post, underscoring its preference for fossil fuels.

The Post said it had obtained draft documents that outlined the administration’s starting point for negotiations for the 2018 budget, set to be unveiled in February.

Congress, which is ultimately tasked with deciding appropriations, could push back—but the documents signal the White House’s policy priorities, the newspaper said.

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Credit: NOAA


It’s those wavy jet streams again.

A new study identifies a method for predicting the likelihood of damaging hailstorms in the United States—up to three weeks in advance, reports Phys.org.

Hail is the most economically destructive hazard posed by severe thunderstorms, producing on average billions of dollars in U.S. losses each year, including damage to roofs, homes and especially crops.

“We found a really strong relationship between jet stream patterns over the Pacific Ocean and U.S. hail frequency,” said Victor Gensini, a meteorologist at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois and lead author of the new study. “In simple terms, when the jet stream is really wavy, the likelihood of experiencing hail greatly increases.”

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Earthquake zones in Chile [image credit: lahistoriaconmapas.com]


One finding was that ‘giant earthquakes (like the one in 1960) re-occur every 292 ±93 years’. Coincidentally or not, these numbers seem to align with lunar apsidal cycles (33 ±10.5).

By analyzing sediment cores from Chilean lakes, an international team of scientists discovered that giant earthquakes reoccur with relatively regular intervals, reports Phys.org.

When also taking into account smaller earthquakes, the repeat interval becomes increasingly more irregular to a level where earthquakes happen randomly in time.

“In 1960, South-Central Chile was hit by the largest known quake on Earth with a magnitude of 9.5. Its tsunami was so massive that –in addition to inundating the Chilean coastline– it travelled across the Pacific Ocean and even killed about 200 persons in Japan,” says Jasper Moernaut, an assistant professor at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, and lead author of the study. “Understanding when and where such devastating giant earthquakes may occur in the future is a crucial task for the geoscientific community”.

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The lead author found it ‘remarkable’ that ‘The results indicate that in present and past the Atlantic Ocean surface currents correlate with rainfall patterns in the Western Hemisphere.’
It turns out that ‘If we go back in increments of 30 [years], we’re well positioned to understand things on the order of centuries.’ Could we call it natural variation perhaps…?

Research conducted at The University of Texas at Austin has found that changes in ocean currents in the Atlantic Ocean influence rainfall in the Western Hemisphere, and that these two systems have been linked for thousands of years, reports Phys.org.

The findings, published on Jan. 26 in Nature Communications, are important because the detailed look into Earth’s past climate and the factors that influenced it could help scientists understand how these same factors may influence our climate today and in the future.

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The GOLD mission to learn more about the Earth’s ionosphere ran into comms problems after launch yesterday and may take longer than expected to reach its required orbit height. NASA’s own publicity says: “Just like an infrared camera allows you to see how temperatures change with different colors, GOLD images ultraviolet light to provide a map of the Earth that reveals how temperature and atmospheric composition change by location”.

NASA has reported that despite a glitch within minutes of its GOLD mission launch, the satellite is communicating with control systems, reports the Indian Express.

The aim of the Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk, or GOLD, mission is to study the dynamic region where space and Earth’s uppermost atmosphere meet.

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Recent volcanic activity at Mount Agung in eastern Bali [image credit: BBC]


Any kind of advance in understanding volcanic processes has to be welcomed. Sci-News reporting.

Tiny crystals of clinopyroxenes that form deep in volcanoes may be the key for advance warnings before volcanic eruptions, according to a team of vulcanologists from the University of Queensland, Australia, and Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

“Our research provided new information that could lead to more effective evacuations and warning communications,” said University of Queensland vulcanologist Dr. Teresa Ubide.

“This could signal good news for the almost one in 10 people around the world who live within 100 km of an active volcano.”

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Image credit: easyevcharge.uk


Even a relatively small number of EVs charging at once in a local area could put the local transformer under serious strain, as Phys.org reports.

An influx of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) charging without coordination could prove challenging to the nation’s electric grid, according to research conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Matteo Muratori, a transportation and energy systems engineer at NREL and author of the new Nature Energy paper, “Impact of Uncoordinated Plug-in Electric Vehicle Charging on Residential Power Demand,” created a computer simulation to explore the effects of in-home charging on the grid.

“Realizing the full benefits of vehicle electrification will necessitate a systems-level approach that treats vehicles, buildings, and the grid as an integrated network,” said Johney Green Jr., NREL’s associate lab director for Mechanical and Thermal Engineering Sciences.

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Earth and climate – an ongoing controversy


But the researchers are still hooked on the unlikely idea that trace gases alone can ‘determine’ variations in global temperatures, despite lack of correlation in the data and poor results from climate model ‘projections’.

Earth’s surface will almost certainly not warm up four or five degrees Celsius by 2100, according to a study released Wednesday which, if correct, voids worst-case UN climate change predictions, reports Phys.org.

A revised calculation of how greenhouse gases drive up the planet’s temperature reduces the range of possible end-of-century outcomes by more than half, researchers said in the report, published in the journal Nature.

“Our study all but rules out very low and very high climate sensitivities,” said lead author Peter Cox, a professor at the University of Exeter.

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Arctic Ocean


The researchers believe Saharan air reaching the Arctic was a rare but significant factor in an unusual warming event two years ago.

In the winter of 2015/16, something happened that had never before been seen on this scale: at the end of December, temperatures rose above zero degrees Celsius for several days in parts of the Arctic, reports Phys.org. Temperatures of up to eight degrees were registered north of Svalbard.

Temperatures this high have not been recorded in the winter half of the year since the beginning of systematic measurements at the end of the 1970s. As a result of this unusual warmth, the sea ice began to melt.

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Wavy jet stream
[image credit: BBC]


The team say they have found ‘a strong driver of climate extremes in Europe for the last 300 years’, which obviously pre-dates the Industrial Revolution and its ’emissions’ by a wide margin.

Increased fluctuations in the path of the North Atlantic jet stream since the 1960s coincide with more extreme weather events in Europe such as heat waves, droughts, wildfires and flooding, reports a University of Arizona-led team.

The research is the first reconstruction of historical changes in the North Atlantic jet stream prior to the 20th century, reports Phys.org.

By studying tree rings from trees in the British Isles and the northeastern Mediterranean, the team teased out those regions’ late summer weather going back almost 300 years—to 1725.

“We find that the position of the North Atlantic Jet in summer has been a strong driver of climate extremes in Europe for the last 300 years,” Trouet said.

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Who knew? Apart from nearly everyone who ever gave it any thought, that is. But if confirmation and analysis from published research is needed, PEI reports it here. It seems to be worse than they thought.

Grid stability is likely to be increasingly challenged as power distribution moves from a centralized to a more decentralized model, new research has found.

According to a paper published this week in the journal Nature Energy by researchers from Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization and the UK’s Queen Mary University of London, integrating growing numbers of renewable power installations and microgrids onto the grid can result in larger-than-expected fluctuations in grid frequency.

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