Archive for the ‘Uncertainty’ Category

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.
– – –
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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View from Titan [artist’s impression]


‘The grains that cover Saturn’s [largest] moon act like clingy packing peanuts.’ An obvious question might be: where is Titan’s electrical charge coming from?

Experiments led by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology suggest the particles that cover the surface of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, are “electrically charged.”

When the wind blows hard enough (approximately 15 mph), Titan’s non-silicate granules get kicked up and start to hop in a motion referred to as saltation. As they collide, they become frictionally charged, like a balloon rubbing against your hair, and clump together in a way not observed for sand dune grains on Earth — they become resistant to further motion.

They maintain that charge for days or months at a time and attach to other hydrocarbon substances, much like packing peanuts used in shipping boxes here on Earth. The findings have just been published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

“If you grabbed piles of grains and built a sand castle on Titan, it would perhaps stay together for weeks due to their electrostatic properties,” said Josef Dufek, the Georgia Tech professor who co-led the study. “Any spacecraft that lands in regions of granular material on Titan is going to have a tough time staying clean. Think of putting a cat in a box of packing peanuts.”

The electrification findings may help explain an odd phenomenon. Prevailing winds on Titan blow from east to west across the moon’s surface, but sandy dunes nearly 300 feet tall seem to form in the opposite direction.
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Alaskan aurora [image credit: NASA]


When they say ‘an as yet unknown driver is causing the problem’ they probably don’t mean a motorist 😉

The leading hypothesis used to explain why the aurora borealis and its southern hemisphere counterpart, the aurora australis, play havoc with global positioning systems has been knocked into a cocked hat, reports Sott.net.

The spectacular auroras are produced when gas particles in the earth’s atmosphere collide with charged particles emitted by the sun. The resulting plasma turbulence has long been assumed to be the reason that the phenomena interfere with Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS).

Now, research led by Biagio Forte of the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Bath in the UK has discovered that the predicted turbulence doesn’t actually exist, meaning that an as yet unknown driver is causing the problem.
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Arctic sea ice [image credit: cbc.ca]

Arctic sea ice [image credit: cbc.ca]


Variations of this aerosol claim have been around for many years. These researchers seem uninterested in known oceanic cycles which might help to explain the observed temperature changes, instead relying on climate models. But another researcher notes that ‘black carbon emissions in some parts of the Arctic are still quite common’, as confirmed recently here. An earlier study (2007) reported ‘There is, however, at least a fourfold uncertainty in the aerosol forcing effect.’ So it looks like the jury is still out regarding air pollution in the Arctic.

Humans may have been altering Arctic sea ice longer than previously thought, according to researchers studying the effects of air pollution on sea ice growth in the mid-20th Century.

The new results challenge the perception that Arctic sea ice extent was unperturbed by human-caused climate change until the 1970s, reports Phys.org. Scientists have observed Arctic sea ice loss since the mid-1970s and some climate model simulations have shown the region was losing sea ice as far back as 1950.

In a new study, recently recovered Russian observations show an increase in sea ice from 1950 to 1975 as large as the subsequent decrease in sea ice observed from 1975 to 2005.
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Image credit: relativelyinteresting.com

Image credit: relativelyinteresting.com


Results so far from climate models are very unconvincing, despite huge resources of manpower and technology.

London, 21 February: Claims that the planet is threatened by man-made global warming are based on science that is based on inadequate computer modelling. That is the conclusion of a new briefing paper published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).   

The report’s author, eminent American climatologist Professor Judith Curry, explains that climate alarm depends on highly complex computer simulations of the Earth’s climate. 

But although scientists have expended decades of effort developing them, these simulations still have to be “tuned” to get them to match the real climate. This makes them essentially useless for trying to find out what is causing changes in the climate and unreliable for making predictions about what will happen in the future. 
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Credit: Scottish Power

Credit: Scottish Power


When does the UK climate fiasco budget run out? Not any time soon it seems, unless the Treasury squeezes out mad and/or bad ideas like unilateral CCS projects.
H/T GWPF

The UK government spent £100m on a competition to promote carbon capture and storage (CCS) schemes but it all fell apart. This was even after £68m had been spent on a previous competition for CCS, which it cancelled in 2011.

NAO’s report finds that the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s plan to use a second competition to develop and deploy carbon capture and storage was ambitious, but ultimately, unsuccessful when the Treasury pulled the rug away because of uncertainty over costs.
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Credit: thegwpf.com

Credit: thegwpf.com


Alan Carlin argues that the stability of the Earth’s climate within its two fundamental modes, glacial and interglacial, is underestimated or ignored by climate modellers in their desire to talk up supposed human-caused factors.

The UN IPCC reports on climate are truly unusual scientifically.

Without any serious discussion or even an attempt to point out their unusual nature, they try to convince readers that the basic nature of Earth’s climate has been radically changed after millions of years, all because one very minor constituent of the atmosphere has been increasing, as it usually does during interglacial periods in response to higher temperatures.

During this long period the basic nature of Earth’s climate can be characterized as bistability. In other words, Earth has had dual climate equilibria. One occurs during ice ages and the other during interglacial periods. Both are very stable except that Earth flips from the ice age equilibrium to the interglacial roughly every 100,000 years and flips back again after another 10,000 to 12,000 years.

History suggests that we may be close to the next flip into an ice age, the colder of the two bistability climates. This has enormous implications for humans and all life on Earh. But the upper “limit” on interglacial temperatures does not appear to have been breached in all that time.
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A different view - source:  ARGO marine atlas [credit: climatedepot.com]

A different view – source: ARGO marine atlas [credit: climatedepot.com]


This is from US CLIVAR. If their graph is to be believed the ocean heat content went up by a factor of about 6 between 1980 and 2012. The title of their paper is ‘The global warming hiatus: Slowdown or redistribution? (Earth’s Future)’. Of course ‘missing heat hiding in the ocean’ is not exactly a new claim from climate alarm theorists.

Atmospheric greenhouse gases have continued their steady increase in the new century. Logically, one would expect that global mean surface temperature (GMST) would also continue to increase in the same fashion as experienced in the latter decades of the 20th century.

However, between 1998 and 2013 GMST actually plateaued with much smaller increases than the average over the last 60 years and labeled the “global warming hiatus.” The fact that this slowdown in GMST increase was not predicted by most climate models has led some to question the steady increase in heat predicted under increased greenhouse gas conditions.

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Scott Adams on global warming

Posted: December 9, 2016 by tchannon in ideology, Uncertainty

Tim wrote

Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) has an article up

The Non-Expert Problem and Climate Change Science

Before I start, let me say as clearly as possible that I agree with the scientific consensus on climate change. If science says something is true – according to most scientists, and consistent with the scientific method – I accept their verdict.

So when I say I agree with the scientific consensus on climate change, I’m endorsing the scientific consensus for the same reason I endorsed Hillary Clinton for the first part of the election – as a strategy to protect myself. I endorse the scientific consensus on climate change to protect my career and reputation. To do otherwise would be dumb, at least in my situation.

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cardellini_scrTalkshop readers with good memories may remember the article I wrote back in 2012 on findings by Cardellini et al that volcanic soils emitted far more CO2 than previously thought (and are not included in IPCC carbon cycle inventories). The implication is that longer sunshine hours during the 1980s-90s may well have released a lot of sequestered CO2 from these soils, thus raising atmospheric levels. Which would mean humans are not responsible for all of the increase, as has long been assumed.

Now another article from Robert Wylie on Livescience.com raises the issue again:

Robin Wylie, is a doctoral candidate in volcanology, atUniversity College London. He contributed this article to LiveScience’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

The exploding hills really give the game away: We’ve always known the Earth is a smoker. The true extent of its habit, though, is only just beginning to surface.

Before the human species found its talent for pyromania, atmospheric levels of the Earth’s greenhouse superstar, carbon dioxide (CO2), were controlled, for the most part, by volcanoes.

Since our planet emerged from the debris which formed the solarsystem, some four and a half billion years ago, a lifetime supply of primordial carbon has been locked away in the mantle — against its will. Partnering with oxygen and smuggled as a dissolved gas in liquid rock, it breaches the surface at our planet’s volcanic airways: CO2, then, has been seeping into the planet’s atmosphere for as long as there has been one.

Until the end of the 20th century, the academic consensus was that this volcanic output was tiny — a fiery speck against the colossal anthropogenic footprint. Recently, though, volcanologists have begun to reveal a hidden side to our leaking planet.

Exactly how much CO2 passes through the magmatic vents in our crust might be one of the most important questions that Earth science can answer. Volcanoes may have been overtaken in the carbon stakes, but in order to properly assess the consequences of human pollution, we need the reference point of the natural background. And we’re getting there; the last twenty years have seen huge steps in our understanding of how, and how much CO2 leaves the deep Earth. But at the same time, a disturbing pattern has been emerging.

In 1992, it was thought that volcanic degassing released something like 100 million tons of CO2 each year. Around the turn of the millennium, this figure was getting closer to 200. The most recent estimate, released this February, comes from a team led by Mike Burton, of the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology – and it’s just shy of 600 million tons. It caps a staggering trend: A six-fold increase in just two decades.

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Credit: NASA climatekids

Credit: NASA climatekids


Another round of claims and counter-claims about climate is underway as natural variation takes its course. Talk of records often relates only to the satellite era.
H/T GWPF

Global average temperatures over land have plummeted by more than 1C since the middle of this year – their biggest and steepest fall on record, reports David Rose in The Mail on Sunday. 

According to satellite data, the late 2016 temperatures are returning to the levels they were at after the 1998 El Niño. The news comes amid mounting evidence that the recent run of world record high temperatures is about to end.

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US President-elect Trump [image credit: politico.com]

US President-elect Trump [image credit: politico.com]


The winds of change following the US election are about to blow through the well-funded – up to now at least – world of climate-related bureaucracy, as CCN mournfully reports.

US Republicans are expected to axe billions of dollars in climate finance when they take the White House and Congress in January.

Funds to help poor countries adapt to the impacts of global warming and develop sustainably will be redirected to domestic priorities.

“We are going to cancel billions in payments to the UN climate change programmes and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure,” said President-elect Donald Trump in his 22 October Gettysburg address. With a Republican majority in the Senate and House of Representatives, there appears to be little standing in his way.

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A solar cycle 24 prediction chart [credit:NASA]

A solar cycle 24 prediction chart [credit:NASA]


What follows are extracts, omitting a few of the more technical aspects which can be viewed in the GWPF’s full article here. Possible ‘colder climates’ get a mention.

Sten Odenwald of NASA Heliophysics Education Consortium writes:
Forecasters are already starting to make predictions for what might be in store as our sun winds down its current sunspot cycle in a few years. Are we in for a very intense cycle of solar activity, or the beginning of a century-long absence of sunspots and a rise in colder climates?

Ever since Samuel Schwabe discovered the 11-year ebb and flow of sunspots on the sun in 1843, predicting when the next sunspot cycle will appear, and how strong it will be, has been a cottage industry among scientists and non-scientists alike.

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Hinkley Point, Somerset [image credit: conservativehome.com]

Hinkley Point, Somerset
[image credit: conservativehome.com]


Seconds out, round 10 – or so it might seem in the Hinkley nuclear struggle. Who kept who in the dark [pun intended]? PEI’s Diarmaid Williams takes a ringside seat.

Five of the 17 board members who voted to approve a decision by EDF to press ahead with the development of Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in England are now seeking a court annulment of that decision.

The board members, all union representatives, say they were not provided with information that was crucial to their decision on the day.

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