Archive for the ‘Uncertainty’ Category

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More on the mysteries behind noctilucent clouds. Lots of extra water vapour has turned up this season that can’t easily be explained.

Spaceweather.com

June 19, 2019: The 2019 season for noctilucent clouds (NLCs) has been remarkable, maybe the best ever, with NLCs appearing as far south as Los Angeles CA and Albuquerque NM. What’s going on? Researchers aren’t sure, but Lynn Harvey of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics has just found an important clue.

“The mesosphere is quite wet,” she says. “Water vapor concentrations are at their highest levels for the past 12 years.”

electricblueNoctilucent clouds over Piwnice, Poland, on June 18th. Credit: Piotr Majewski

Noctilucent clouds form when summertime wisps of water vapor rise to the top of the atmosphere. Water molecules stick to specks of meteor smoke, gathering into icy clouds that glow electric blue when they are hit by high altitude sunlight.

When noctilucent clouds began appearing at unusually low latitudes in early June, Harvey took a look at data from NASA’s Microwave…

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Mars-Earth comparison
[image credit: Wikipedia]


A manned trip to Mars is not looking like a good idea from a health point of view, according to this report.

An astronaut on a mission to Mars could receive radiation doses up to 700 times higher than on our planet—a major showstopper for the safe exploration of our solar system, says Phys.org.

A team of European experts is working with ESA to protect the health of future crews on their way to the Moon and beyond.

Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere protect us from the constant bombardment of galactic cosmic rays—energetic particles that travel at close to the speed of light and penetrate the human body.

Cosmic radiation could increase cancer risks during long duration missions.

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Get ready: “In June 2019 the Earth will approach within [0.06 AU or 9 million km] of the center of the Taurid swarm, its closest post-perihelion encounter with Earth since 1975”. Is there a Tunguska link?

Spaceweather.com

May 24, 2019: In November 2032, Earth will pass through the Taurid Swarm, a cloud of debris from Comet 2P/Encke that makes brilliant fireballs when its gravelly particles occasionally hit Earth’s atmosphere. Previous encounters with the Swarm in 2005 and 2015 produced showers of bright meteors observed around the world; in 1975 the Swarm contacted the Moon, making Apollo seismic sensors ring with evidence of objects hitting the lunar surface. If forecasters are correct, we’re in for similar activity 13 years from now.

Some researchers are beginning to wonder if there might be more to the Taurid Swarm than the pebble-sized particles that make fireballs–something, say, that could level a forest. On June 30, 1908, a forest in Siberia did fall down when a 100-meter object fell out of the sky and exploded just above the Tunguska River. Back-tracking the trajectory of the impactor suggests it may have come from…

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Tesla model X [image credit: IB Times]


Can electric car companies ever be financially viable? The Tesla example isn’t looking too good since government subsidies were withdrawn, pushing up prices. This article asks if Tesla is running out of buyers for its vehicles.

Late last year, Tesla Inc. was fully charged and cruising down the highway on Autopilot, says Phys.org.

Shares were trading above $370 each, sales of the Model 3 small electric car were strong and the company had appointed a new board chair to rein in the antics of sometimes impulsive CEO Elon Musk.

But around the middle of December, investors started having doubts about the former Wall Street darling’s prospects for continued growth, and the stock started a gyrating fall that was among the worst in company history.

For the year, the share price is down around 40%, largely on concerns Tesla is running out of buyers for its vehicles, which range in price from a base $35,400 Model 3 to a larger Model X SUV that can run well over $130,000.

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Some might not agree with the claim here that ‘The basics of climate change are well known’, but the author spotlights the shortcomings of climate models that almost invariably over-predict warming that fails to occur – which strongly suggests a faulty basis for understanding climate patterns. Even the newest model shows signs of repeating these long-known errors.

There is a gap in climate predictions, says Dr. David Whitehouse.

It is between the annual and decadal.

I was once told by a very eminent climate scientist that he didn’t care what the observations of the real world were, he believed in models, and only models, and they were enough to work out what is going on.

But I wonder?

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Fine summer weather [image credit: BBC]


Plenty of assertions, but we’re still no nearer to knowing ‘what fraction of the observed rise in global surface temperature over the last thirty or so years…is attributable to the human-induced increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide’. It could be anything, including nothing. We don’t even have a CO2 number to work with, as any natural increases are hard to quantify. But in many countries national energy policy ploughs on regardless of the huge uncertainties.

The bottom line of politically correct thought on climate alarm is so full of holes that it brings the overall sanity of mankind into question, argues Garth Paltridge.

That is, we need to put a dollar number to the cost of doing something now, a dollar number to the benefit thus obtained by the future generations, and a number to a thing called “discount for the future”—this last being the rate at which our concern for the welfare of future generations falls away as we look further and further ahead.

Only the first of these numbers can be estimated with any degree of reliability.

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Scales of Justice
[image credit: Wikipedia]


Unless there are accepted ways of testing for attribution of climate effects (e.g. human-caused, natural variability or a measureable mixture), who can be sure they know the truth? Reliance on climate models, known to be strongly biased towards levels of warming that are not observed, can’t be the way forward.

Some seem to think man-made global warming is proven. Others believe there’s no evidence for it.

Neither is correct, argues John McLean at American Thinker.

Evidence exists, but, as people familiar with courts of law will know, what’s submitted as evidence is not automatically proof.

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Location of Mayotte, in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Southeast Africa


Epic. Why are ‘schools of dead fish appearing in the water?’

Last November, a huge seismic event that shook the planet left experts wondering about its possible source, says ScienceAlert.

Researchers now think they know what might have caused it: an offshore volcanic event unlike any other in recorded history.

If the hypothesis is right, and there has been a massive movement of magma underneath the sea floor, that has implications for nearby Mayotte and the neighbouring Comoros islands off the coast of Africa.

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Any takers?


From next year EU-based carmakers will be hit with monster fines if, or far more likely when, they fail to sell enough ‘low emission’ vehicles to a public that has an increasing taste for SUV models but lacks interest in electric power.

European car makers complain they are being crippled by controversial EU emissions rules, rising US tariffs and uncertainty about UK leaving the bloc, says the South China Morning Post.

The Geneva Motor Show kicks off this week with carmakers eager to show off new electric models, even as they nervously eye a horizon coloured by trade wars and Brexit uncertainty.

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Polar vortex [image credit: NASA]


H/T Phys.org
Changing polar vortex patterns and wavy jetstreams – do they suggest solar magnetic changes as sunspots decline, or another 0.01% of trace gases in the atmosphere, or something else? Much scientific head-scratching, although research has been going on for a while.

It might seem counterintuitive, but the dreaded polar vortex is bringing its icy grip to parts of the U.S. thanks to a sudden blast of warm air in the Arctic, writes Seth Borenstein.

Get used to it. The polar vortex has been wandering more often in recent years.

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Arctic region


At last – something that can’t be blamed on Brexit! Just joking of course, and wandering poles can be a serious matter for navigators.

Erratic motion of north magnetic pole forces experts to update model that aids global navigation.
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Something strange is going on at the top of the world, a Nature article says.

Earth’s north magnetic pole has been skittering away from Canada and towards Siberia, driven by liquid iron sloshing within the planet’s core.

The magnetic pole is moving so quickly that it has forced the world’s geomagnetism experts into a rare move.

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German Chancellor Merkel surveys an offshore wind site [image credit: evwind.es]


The bad news for Germans is that energy costs as a percentage of income seem set to rise inexorably under current policies aimed at eliminating coal and nuclear power generation. That means spending even more on expensive and unreliable renewables plus vast new transmission lines, as well as importing more power when renewables fall short, with all the inevitable high costs these things incur. Of course Germans are far from the only ones facing these issues.

More and more Germans are worried about not being able to make ends meet when they retire, a new study has shown.

Rising energy costs and low interest rates are also feeding fears of financial insecurity, says DW.com.

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Kansas tornado [image credit: Wikipedia]


Of course 2019 may be different, but claims of a trend towards more severe weather due to human activity fall flat when the evidence fails to point in the predicted direction.
H/T The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF)

2018 [has] become the first year since formal record keeping began in 1950, in which the United States has not endured even one “violent” tornado.  

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Credit: NASA climatekids


The official view of US experts on the current status of El Niño will be delivered on Thursday.

Heavy rain in California and piles of snow in the Southeast may be signs another El Niño weather phenomenon is upon us, says CBS News.
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Heavy rain and mudslides in California, flooding in Texas, and up to 2 feet of snow in North Carolina — all these recent weather events are symptoms of the infamous climate phenomena called El Niño.

For months now we have been on the verge of an official El Niño, but so far the climate community has not pulled the El Niño trigger.

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Smoke from a California wildfire [image credit: BBC]


From huge wildfires to cold stormy weather in a matter of a few weeks in California.

A powerful storm will crawl across the southern tier of the U.S. over the next several days, delivering snow, ice, rain, floods and even a few tornadoes, says USA Today.

A powerful storm that slammed southern California Thursday will crawl across the southern tier of the United States over the next several days, delivering a nasty mix of snow, ice, heavy rain, floods and even a few tornadoes.

Ahead of the storm, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for all 77 counties in her state.

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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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