Archive for the ‘Uncertainty’ Category

Lava flow in Hawaii

One volcanologist commented: “When a house today might look like it’s perfectly safe, it might get taken out by a lava flow five years from now if the eruption keeps on going.”

So much destruction, as ScienceAlert reports.

For the fleeing residents who had to evacuate the cracked, burning streets of Leilani Estates, Hawaii, last week, it would be natural to hope they could return to their homes shortly once the fury of eruption relents.

But that fury may not quit soon. The truth is this eruption didn’t happen last week.

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Antarctic sea ice [image credit: BBC]


Another mystery in ‘settled’ climate science. Experts now say they ‘acknowledge that the Antarctic is an important factor in climate change, but still a poorly understood one’. Snowfall is arriving on the land mass while ice is drifting into the sea – as usual in that part of the world. What is needed is accurate data before reaching for the alarm bell.
H/T The GWPF

Previous climate change models predicted that global sea levels would rise by a meter by the year 2100 due in part to melting Antarctic ice, but those estimates have proven to be flawed.

Over the past century, the Antarctic has gone from being a vast Terra Incognita to a continent-sized ticking time bomb: according to NASA, Antarctica has lost “approximately 125 gigatons of ice per year [between 2002 and 2016], causing global sea level to rise by 0.35 millimeters per year.”

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Distant galaxies [image credit: phys.org]


Does the exception prove the rule, or is the rule on shaky ground? Nobody knows.

Scientists have imaged a “transparent” galaxy that may have no dark matter, reports BBC Science.

An unusually transparent galaxy about the size of the Milky Way is prompting new questions for astrophysicists.

The object, with the catchy moniker of NGC1052-DF2, appears to contain no dark matter.

If this turns out to be true, it may be the first galaxy of its kind – made up only of ordinary matter. Currently, dark matter is thought to be essential to the fabric of the Universe as we understand it.

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Scottish offshore wind project [image credit : urbanrealm.com]


Researchers have discovered what common sense thinking has led many people to believe anyway, namely that sales pitches and reality can be quite far apart when it comes to renewable technologies and reliable electricity supplies.

A variety of models predict the role renewables will play in 2050, but some may be over-optimistic, and should be used with caution, say researchers.

The proportion of UK energy supplied by renewable energies is increasing every year; in 2017 wind, solar, biomass and hydroelectricity produced as much energy as was needed to power the whole of Britain in 1958, says EurekAlert.

However, how much the proportion will rise by 2050 is an area of great debate. Now, researchers at Imperial College London have urged caution when basing future energy decisions on over-optimistic models that predict that the entire system could be run on renewables by the middle of this century.

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Credit: mygridgb.co.uk


No doubt the UK gas drilling companies will point out they have a way of tackling this kind of problem. As it’s cold almost everywhere in Europe at the moment, with high gas demand, nobody wants to bail Britain out. Some industrial users will get paid to cut their demand instead.

The UK’s gas system operator National Grid has issued a gas deficit warning for Thursday’s Gas Day starting at 0600 GMT as demand is set to significantly outstrip supply due to a number of outages, reports Platts.

UK gas demand is forecast at 396 million cu m on Thursday, while supply is now forecast at just 361 million cu m, leaving a deficit of 35 million cu m.

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Met Office seasonal forecasting skill turns out to be below average – heading towards the lowest 20%.

NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

By Paul Homewood

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Conditions over the weekend and into the early part of next week will become increasingly cold, possibly exceptionally cold.

Yellow National Severe Weather Warnings for snow are in force for parts of eastern and southeast England from 4pm on Monday and for large parts of the UK through Tuesday and Wednesday.

Snow showers are expected to develop widely during the start of the week, with some locations likely to see accumulations of 5 to 10 cm. Although other sites may see less frequent showers leading to much smaller accumulations up to 2 cm.

The very cold conditions, which are likely to be the coldest spell of weather for several years, are likely to remain in place for the remainder of next week. The cold easterly wind will persist bringing a significant wind chill which will make it feel several degrees colder than thermometers indicate. Even without…

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As the 2008 financial crash fades into history, a sudden lack of availability of cheap money for big industrial projects could undermine some of the newer renewables enterprises, if or when bankers start asking for their ‘umbrellas’ back.

The chief executive of Spanish utility Iberdrola, Ignacio Galan, has warned of the prospect of financial disaster for the global renewable energy sector, reminiscent of the collapse of Enron, reports PEI.

Galan said that the imminent end of cheap finance would have a damaging impact on the new players to the green energy market, adding that these new non-industrial entrants with little experience were making overly aggressive bids on contracts to build renewable energy, thinking it was a financial “El Dorado”.

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Bordeaux in south western France
Credit: worldatlas.com


The French wine industry in Bordeaux is counting the cost of the unusual April 2017 frosts that wiped out 40% of its expected crop, with some growers losing over 70%. Nothing like it had happened in the region for over 25 years. Quote: “As of January 3, banks are starting to pull back. They’ve been sending out letters demanding that short-term loans be paid back immediately”.

Surveying a nearly empty cellar, Frederic Nivelle of Bordeaux’s prestigious Chateau Climens, reflects on what might have been an outstanding year for the sweet white Sauternes wine, reports Phys.org.

“We have nine batches which are satisfactory but not enough to produce a Climens,” Nivelle says of the 2017 harvest.

“It’s a shame, it had a nice potential.”

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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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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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Hazelwood power station, Australia – closed in 2017 [image credit: Simpsons fan 66 at English Wikipedia]


How much enforced variability in electricity generation can a country’s power system tolerate? A close look at the numbers for Australia is not encouraging, to say the least.

How often have you heard that Wind power is intermittent, but has anyone ever explained that to you, or shown just how it actually is intermittent, and what it means, asks TonyfromOz.

What if you need a dedicated amount of power all the time? Can wind power be relied on to generate that dedicated amount of power?

Over the last Month, I have been detailing the closure of the 53 year old Hazelwood brown coal fired power plant in the State of Victoria here in Australia, and comparing that plant’s power generation with wind power across the whole of Australia, and that Post is at this link.

The main comparison was with all the wind plants across the whole of Australia, but I was also including the data for just the wind plants in the same State that the Hazelwood plant was in, Victoria.

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Closed due to snow
Image credit: BBC


A shock to the system for many Europeans after years of being told that the world is supposed to be warming at an alarming rate, so they must pay billions for decades to try and buy a ‘better’ climate.

The heaviest snowfall in four years in Britain caused travel mayhem Sunday, while more than 300 flights were cancelled at Germany’s busiest airport and a ferry ran aground in the French port of Calais, reports Phys.org.

The heaviest snowfall in four years in Britain caused travel mayhem Sunday, while more than 300 flights were cancelled at Germany’s busiest airport and a ferry ran aground in the French port of Calais.

Hundreds of air passengers were stranded in Frankfurt, Germany’s financial capital, as well as Britain, and many took to Twitter to complain.

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Channel 4’s Liam Dutton


TV weather presenter Liam Dutton runs through some of the pitfalls awaiting UK forecasters.

Predicting snow in the UK is difficult and weather computer models rarely get it right more than a few days ahead. But why is this the case?

The past week has seen Arctic air and snow affect the UK, and with another cold blast later this week, there is much excitement about the prospect of snow.

Twitter has been awash with graphics from various weather computer models showing large swathes of the UK covered in snow in a week’s time.

However, the bottom line is that you should never believe a detailed UK snow forecast more than three days ahead.

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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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Good luck grappling with this longstanding physics conundrum. Even the meaning of ‘faster’ in this context could be open to question. For example there’s rate of heat loss, then there’s total time taken.

Ever since the days of Aristotle, people have made the counterintuitive observation that hot water sometimes freezes faster than cold water, says Phys.org.

In modern times, the observation has been named the Mpemba effect after Erasto Mpemba, an elementary school student living in what is now Tanzania in the early ’60s. When making ice cream, Mpemba observed that using warmer milk causes the ice cream to freeze faster than when using colder milk.

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A computer-generated image of Apple’s first Irish data centre [credit: Apple]


Data centre owners won’t like the idea of being at the mercy of unreliable power sources for their vital electricity. ‘Welcome to the energy crunch’ seems to be the message out of this report from Power Engineering International.

Data centres will consume 20 per cent of Ireland’s power generation capacity by 2025, according to the country’s main grid operator, Eirgrid.

Eirgrid added that the huge increase in data centre activity in the country would eat up to 75 per cent of growth in Irish power demand.

The Irish Independent reports that the amount of power needed to store emails, texts and other online data could rise seven-fold as Ireland chases inward investment from tech giants including Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft.

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Windy enough today?


One possibility is that ‘it could be due to ageing wind speed instruments producing inaccurate results’, says the GWPF. If not – bad news for wind turbine operators.

Wind speeds around the world seem to be decreasing in a phenomenon known as ‘stilling’ and European scientists are hoping to find out why.

Few people have probably noticed, but the world’s winds are getting slower. It is something that cannot be picked up by watching the billowing of dust or listening to the rustle of leaves on nearby trees.

Instead, it is a phenomenon occurring on a different scale, as the average global wind speed close to the surface of the land decreases.

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Star KIC 8462852 in infrared (2MASS survey) and ultraviolet (GALEX) [credit: NASA]


One observer commented about “Tabby’s Star” that ‘every explanation that doesn’t involve aliens has some sort of problem’. Its nickname is the WTF star, reports Phys.org.

Round 5 a.m. on a Tuesday this past May, Tabetha “Tabby” Boyajian sat staring at a laptop, cross-legged on her couch in the living room of her Baton Rouge, La., home. The coffee table was cluttered with the artifacts of an all-nighter: an empty wine glass to calm her nerves alongside an empty coffee mug to fuel her through the night.

Since midnight, Boyajian had been downloading and analyzing data from the Las Cumbres telescopes—two on Maui, Hawaii, and two more on the Spanish island of Tenerife off the coast of West Africa—that sat trained on an F-type star, bigger and hotter than the sun, near the constellation Cygnus.

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Hurricanes, AMO , And Sahel Droughts

Posted: September 10, 2017 by oldbrew in climate, research, Uncertainty, weather
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What really drives Atlantic hurricanes? Paul Homewood looks at some relevant research.

NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

By Paul Homewood

Reader Dermot Flaherty questioned the relationship of ENSO to the Atlantic hurricane season.

There are indeed many factors which affect hurricane activity. As leading hurricane expert Chris Landsea stated in his 1999 paper “Atlantic Basin Hurricanes: Indices of Climatic Changes”:

Various environmental factors including Caribbean sea level pressures and 200mb zonal winds, the stratospheric Quasi-Biennial Oscillation, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, African West Sahel rainfall and Atlantic sea surface temperatures, are analyzed for interannual links to the Atlantic hurricane activity. All show significant, concurrent relationships to the frequency, intensity and duration of Atlantic hurricanes.

Landsea goes on:

Finally, much of the multidecadal hurricane activity can be linked to the Atlantic Multidecadal Mode – an empirical orthogonal function pattern derived from a global sea surface temperature record.

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Texan wetland [image credit: Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept.]


This study reported on the U.S. East Coast, but all ideas for protection of increasingly populated coastal areas from severe weather should be under the microscope after the recent floods in Texas. Phys.org reporting.

With the Atlantic hurricane season well under way and Tropical Storm Harvey causing devastation in Texas, a new scientific study reports that coastal wetlands significantly reduce annual flood losses and catastrophic damages from storms.

Led by a team of scientists from the engineering, insurance, and conservation sectors, including researchers at UC Santa Cruz, the study found that coastal wetlands in the northeast United States prevented $625 million in direct flood damages during Hurricane Sandy, reducing damages by more than 22 percent in half of the affected areas and by as much as 30 percent in some states.

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