Archive for the ‘Uncertainty’ Category


What if anything can ‘uncertain predictions’ about the climate tell us that might be worth taking seriously? Excitable headline-chasing fearmongers do nothing to help, especially when proved wrong.

The ways climate scientists explain their predictions about the impact of global warming can either promote or limit their persuasiveness, reports ScienceDaily.
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The more specific climate scientists are about the uncertainties of global warming, the more the American public trusts their predictions, according to new research by Stanford scholars.

But scientists may want to tread carefully when talking about their predictions, the researchers say, because that trust falters when scientists acknowledge that other unknown factors could come into play.

In a new study published in Nature Climate Change, researchers examined how Americans respond to climate scientists’ predictions about sea level rise.

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The Mysterious Movements of GOES-13

Posted: September 14, 2019 by oldbrew in Astronomy, satellites, Uncertainty

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Conspiracy theorists will probably like this one…

Spaceweather.com

Sept. 11, 2019: Scott Tilley has an unusual hobby. He scans the skies for satellites where they shouldn’t be. Using an S-band receiver, the amateur radio operator has tracked many classified spacecraft orbiting Earth and famously found NASA’s IMAGE satellite when it woke up from the dead last year. This past weekend he bagged another one: GOES-13.

“This was quite a surprise,” says Tilley. “I thought GOES-13 was in a graveyard orbit–yet I found it quite active and wandering on Sept. 8th.”

GOES-13 is a NOAA weather satellite. It was retired in January 2018 after a storied 12-year career during which it monitored some of the most notorious weather events in recent U.S. history – including Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and the triple disaster of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2018. The satellite also experienced significant space weather: In December 2006, GOES-13 observed a solar flare so intense it…

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Image credit: NASA


But why so? ‘No theories so far’ seems to be the real meaning behind the quote ‘for reasons that are not yet fully understood’. One of the few clues is that such strikes tend to be over water, and mainly in specific areas e.g. the Mediterranean.

The lightning season in the Southeastern U.S. is almost finished for this year, but the peak season for the most powerful strokes of lightning won’t begin until November, according to a newly published global survey of these rare events.

A University of Washington study maps the location and timing of “superbolts”—bolts that release electrical energy of more than 1 million Joules, or a thousand times more energy than the average lightning bolt, in the very low frequency range in which lightning is most active, reports Phys.org.

Results show that superbolts tend to hit the Earth in a fundamentally different pattern from regular lightning, for reasons that are not yet fully understood.

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Credit: weather.com (31 Aug. 2019)


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UPDATE 1st Sept.: Dorian is now reported to be a Category 5 storm as it strikes the Bahamas.
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After an unusually quiet start to the Atlantic hurricane season, things have suddenly become serious. Uncertainty abounds but this could become ugly for south-eastern USA, Florida in particular. This report says ‘there were fears it could prove to be the most powerful hurricane to hit Florida’s east coast in nearly 30 years.’ Or it might not hit at all – at this stage, nobody knows.

Hurricane Dorian powered toward Florida with increasing fury Friday, becoming an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm but leaving forecasters uncertain whether it would make a direct hit on the state’s east coast or inflict a glancing blow, reports Phys.org.

The storm’s winds rose to 130 mph (215 kph) and then, hours later, to a howling 140 mph (225 kph) as Dorian gained strength while crossing warm Atlantic waters.

The hurricane could wallop the state with even higher winds and torrential rains late Monday or early Tuesday, with millions of people in the crosshairs, along with Walt Disney World and President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

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An Acoustic Anomaly

Posted: July 31, 2019 by oldbrew in Uncertainty

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Mysterious happenings here – something to do with fracking perhaps?

OK Geological Survey Field Blog

by Andrew Thiel, OGS Research Scientist

“What is that?” asked Dr. Walter, pointing to the seismograms displayed on a flat screen TV hanging on the wall of the OGS seismic lab. There were a series of red marks that indicate automatic picks by the computer as potential earthquakes. However, these marks were spaced very regularly, so regularly that at first glance they looked like some sort of mechanical noise. The problem with that assumption was that they were showing up on stations all across the state, all at the same time. Anything that widespread is usually associated with a correspondingly large scale event, like an earthquake. This pattern we were seeing looked nothing like an earthquake, or even a series of earthquakes. Other potential causes we guessed at were military aircraft, meteor shower, or something related to gas pipelines. We dubbed this acoustic pattern ‘The Anomaly.’ 

This .gif is a…

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[click on image to enlarge]


NOAA’s latest offering on this topic is here. Of course we’re pitched into the world of ‘greenhouse gas’ theory. But it seems to be a world of considerable uncertainty, if the phrases highlighted (by the Talkshop) are anything to go by. Most attention is given to CO2 in the media, but it’s only a very minor player in the atmosphere (0.04%). There’s no accepted figure for ‘water vapor’ (NOAA uses US spelling) as exact data doesn’t exist, although ballpark estimates from various readings can be found. Why do greenhouse gas believers obsess about CO2 when they don’t know a lot about what’s going on with water vapor, which is on the face of it far more important to their theory?

Water Vapor is the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, which is why it is addressed here first. However, changes in its concentration is also considered to be a result of climate feedbacks related to the warming of the atmosphere rather than a direct result of industrialization.

The feedback loop in which water is involved is critically important to projecting future climate change, but as yet is still fairly poorly measured and understood.

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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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