Archive for the ‘Uncertainty’ Category

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.

View original post 1,270 more words

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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School destroyed by mud flow [image credit: Hugh e82 / Wikipedia]


Whether caused by the blowout of a natural gas well, a distant earthquake or something else, the Sidoarjo mud flow is the biggest of its kind in the world.

The world’s most destructive mud volcano was born near the town of Sidoarjo, on the island of Java, Indonesia, just over 11 years ago – and to this day it has not stopped erupting, as The Conversation explains.

The mud volcano known as Lusi started on May 29, 2006, and at its peak disgorged a staggering 180,000 cubic metres of mud every day, burying villages in mud up to 40 metres thick.

The worst event of its kind in recorded history, the eruption took 13 lives and destroyed the homes of 60,000 people. But although the mud is still flowing more than a decade later, scientists are not yet agreed on its cause.

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How Moorside might look [credit: in-cumbria.com]

Moorside no more? The UK doesn’t seem to be making much, if any, progress with its plans for new nuclear power plants, as the old ones head for retirement.

The GMB union has once again demanded that the government “stop faffing” and step in to save the Moorside nuclear development from falling apart, reports Utility Week.

The union made the comments after Utility Week reported yesterday that National Grid has shelved a multi-billion project to connect the proposed plant to the transmission network.

GMB slammed the government for “continued dithering” following the latest in a series of setbacks.

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Emergency measures in a vineyard [image credit: BBC News]


Unexpected weather systems can arrive from the ‘wrong’ direction at the wrong time, as this BBC report shows.

English winemakers have warned that at least half of this year’s grape harvest has been wiped out by heavy frost. The air frost that hit last week caused “catastrophic” damage to buds that had bloomed earlier than usual thanks to a warm start to the year.

About 75% of buds at Denbies Wine Estate in Surrey – which produces 500,000 bottles of wine a year – were affected, its chief executive said. England has 133 wineries, which produced five million bottles in 2015.
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H/T GWPF

Put the ‘consensus’ to a test, and improve public understanding, through an open, adversarial process, says Steven Koonin in the Wall Street Journal.
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Tomorrow’s March for Science will draw many thousands in support of evidence-based policy making and against the politicization of science.

A concrete step toward those worthy goals would be to convene a “Red Team/Blue Team” process for climate science, one of the most important and contentious issues of our age.

The national-security community pioneered the “Red Team” methodology to test assumptions and analyses, identify risks, and reduce—or at least understand—uncertainties.
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It sounds promising, but what happens if the satellites fail to predict a serious eruption? The case of the convicted but later exonerated Italian earthquake experts springs to mind.

A UK-led team of scientists is rolling out a project to monitor every land volcano on Earth from space, reports BBC News.

Two satellites will routinely map the planet’s surface, looking for signs that might hint at a future eruption. They will watch for changes in the shape of the ground below them, enabling scientists to issue an early alert if a volcano appears restless.

Some 1,500 volcanoes worldwide are thought to be potentially active, but only a few dozen are heavily monitored. One of these is Mount Etna where, last month, a BBC crew was caught up in a volcanic blast while filming a report on the new satellite project.
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Credit: VIRTUAL TELESCOPE [click to enlarge]


Dr Roy Spencer discusses today’s asteroid approach, the closest for 13 years.

An asteroid capable of destroying Washington D.C. and New York City at the same time will be making its closest approach to Earth on April 19.

At a half-mile wide, it will have over 30,000 times as much mass as the 2013 meteor which exploded over Russia in 2013.

The current asteroid, called “2014 JO25“, is traveling at the unimaginably fast speed of 75,000 mph. It has been estimated that an asteroid of this size is capable of wiping out an area the size of New England, and causing global cooling from the dust that would be lofted into the stratosphere.

“2014 JO25” will be the closest approach asteroid of this size in the last 13 years.
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Icebergs in the North Atlantic [image credit:
maritime-executive.com]


H/T Paul Vaughan
Whether admittedly stronger than usual winds have led to more iceberg material and/or some of the ‘normal’ icebergs have broken up into smaller ones, is not clear, perhaps not known. A record 953 icebergs were observed in April 1984.

More than 400 icebergs have drifted into the North Atlantic shipping lanes over the past week in an unusually large swarm for this early in the season, forcing vessels to slow to a crawl or take detours of hundreds of kilometres, reports CTV News (via AP).

Experts are attributing it to uncommonly strong counter-clockwise winds that are drawing the icebergs south, and perhaps also global warming, which is accelerating the process by which chunks of the Greenland ice sheet break off and float away.

As of Monday, there were about 450 icebergs near the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, up from 37 a week earlier, according to the U.S. Coast Guard’s International Ice Patrol in New London, Connecticut. Those kinds of numbers are usually not seen until late May or early June. The average for this time of year is about 80.
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