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Author Topic: Environmental issues  (Read 97383 times)
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #350 on: November 09, 2014, 07:21:05 PM »

http://www.kiwithinker.com/2014/10/an-empirical-look-at-recent-trends-in-the-greenhouse-effect/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #351 on: January 02, 2015, 10:13:56 AM »

http://www.businessinsider.com/arctic-sea-ice-grows-but-still-shrinking-2014-9
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DougMacG
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« Reply #352 on: January 05, 2015, 10:29:46 AM »

A serious scientist ponders the cause of the 18+year pause in "global warming".  The only thing we know for sure is that the models used for forecasting alarmist outcomes are wrong.  CO2 has a minor greenhouse gas, heat trapping effect, smaller than widely believed.  And then there are positive and negative feedback factors, most poorly measured or completely unaccounted for.

http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2014/12/cause_of_pause_in_global_warming.html

December 29, 2014
Cause of Pause in Global Warming
By S. Fred Singer

There has been essentially no global warming since 1998.  Some would choose 1997, others would more conservatively use 2002 as the proper starting date, based on satellite data.  Of course, this is quite unexpected, since CO2 -- a leading GHG, which climate models presume to cause anthropogenic global warming (AGW) -- has been increasing rapidly in the 21st century.

Even if we cannot readily find the cause for the “pause” -- as it is sometimes called -- we can be absolutely sure that it was not predicted by any of the dozens of the UN-IPCC’s General Circulation Models (GCMs).  Therefore, logically, such non-validated GCMs cannot, and should not, be used to predict the future climate -- or as a basis for policy decisions.

Here I would like to discuss some of the possible causes for the GW “hiatus.”  Its existence is creating a scientific challenge for climate skeptics -- and a real crisis for alarmists; it can no longer be ignored by any who consider themselves to be scientists -- nor, indeed, by responsible politicians.

One possibility, of course, may be that the pause is simply a statistical fluctuation, like tossing a coin, with 15 to 18 heads in a row.  Such an explanation cannot be dismissed out of hand, even though it has a very low probability -- which becomes even smaller with each passing year of no GW.  Obviously, climate alarmists like this possibility -- although the number of such ‘true believers’ is shrinking.  Most have started to look for a physical cause for the pause -- an explanation of why current GCMs are failing to match observations.

Internal and external causes

When we look at possible causes, we should first of all distinguish between internal and external ones that might offset the expected GW from CO2.  Internal causes rely on negative feedbacks from either water vapor (WV) or clouds; they act to decrease the warming that should be attributed to increasing CO2.  The problem with internal effects is they can never fully eliminate the primary cause -- almost by definition.  So even if they diminish the CO2 effect somewhat, there should still be a remaining warming trend, though small.

It is quite important to obtain empirical evidence for a negative feedback.  In the case of water vapor, one would look to see if the cold upper troposphere (UT) was dry or moist.  If moist, as assumed implicitly in current IPCC-GCMs, one gets a positive feedback -- i.e., an amplification of the CO2-caused warming.  On the other hand, if the upper troposphere is dry, then most emissions into space take place from WV in the warm boundary layer in the lower troposphere.  This leaves less energy available to be emitted into space from the surface through the atmospheric ‘window,’ and therefore produces a cooler surface.

[NB: To avoid the vexing issue of the effects of the down-welling infrared radiation, it is easiest to think of long-term zero energy imbalance, as measured by satellites at the top of the atmosphere -- after the underlying atmosphere adjusts.  Imbalance = incoming less reflected solar radiant energy minus the heat energy from surface and atmosphere escaping to space.]

The physical model I have in mind for this negative WV feedback is based on a proposal of Prof. William Gray (Colorado State University), who pictured cumulus clouds carrying moisture into the UT, but occupying only a small area; the remaining (and much larger) area experiences descending air (“subsidence”) -- hence drying.  In principle, it should be possible to measure this difficult-to-explain effect fairly easily, using available satellite data.

Negative feedback from increased cloudiness is easier to describe but more difficult to measure.  The idea is simply that a slight increase in sea-surface (SST) temperature (from the GH effect of a rising CO2) also increases evaporation (according to the well-known “Clausius-Clapeyron” relation), and that this increased atmospheric moisture can also increase cloudiness.  The net effect is a greater (reflecting) albedo, less sunlight reaching the surface, and therefore a negative feedback that reduces the original warming from increasing CO2.

Unfortunately, establishing the reality of this cloud feedback requires a measurement of global cloudiness with an accuracy of a small fraction of a percent -- a very difficult problem.

We now turn to external effects that might explain the existence of a global warming pause; the principal ones are volcanism and solar activity.  The problem here is one of balancing; the amount of cooling by volcanism, for example, has to be just right to offset the warming from CO2 during the entire duration of the pause.  It is difficult to picture why exactly this might be happening; the probabilities seem rather small.  Still, the burden is on the proponents to demonstrate various kinds of evidence in support of such an explanation.

Similarly, atmospheric aerosols, generally human-caused, can increase albedo and cool the planet -- especially if they also increase cloudiness by providing condensation nuclei for WV.

Hidden Warming?

Note that all the explanations mentioned so far act to reduce ‘climate forcing’ -- defined as the energy imbalance measured at the top of the atmosphere (TOA)

There is an important school of thought that does not rely on offsetting the forcing from increased CO2; instead it assumes that there really exists an imbalance at the TOA and that GW is taking place somewhere, but is not easily seen.  Many assume that the “missing heat” is hiding in the deep ocean.  It is difficult to see how such a mechanism can function without also raising surface temperatures; but an oscillation in ocean currents might produce such a result.

Still, if measurements could demonstrate a gradual increase in stored ocean heat, one would be forced to consider possible mechanisms.  Its proponents might be asked, however, why the storage increase started just when it did; when will it end; and how will the energy eventually be released, and with what manifestations?

There is yet another possibility worth considering:  The missing energy might be used to melt ice rather than warm the ocean.  Again, quantitative empirical evidence might support such a scenario.  But how to explain the starting date of the pause -- and how soon might it end?

Yet another explanation

It is generally accepted that the warming effect from CO2 increases roughly as the logarithm of CO2 concentration.  The reason has to do with the broadness and shape of the CO2 absorption lines -- as is well known among molecular spectroscopists.  But even the log of CO2 would show a steady rise, albeit smaller than that of CO2 itself; so that this simple explanation does not work.

But CO2 is an interesting and complicated molecule.  Its climate-forcing effect might actually decline to zero -- albeit for only a number of years.  The reason is that part of the CO2 absorption and emission takes place in the stratosphere, where the temperature gradient is positive, i.e. there is warming with increasing altitude, instead of cooling.

But until someone does the necessary work, by analyzing available satellite data, one should not put too much faith in this hypothesis.

So after all, the global warming pause still remains somewhat of a puzzle.  The simplest description is that the climate sensitivity is close to zero -- as demonstrated empirically.  But why?  How then to explain the reported surface warming from 1975 to 2000?

Conclusion

Regardless of any unsettled science details, it seems sure that current climate models cannot represent what is actually happening in the atmosphere -- and therefore one should not rely on predictions from such unvalidated models that are based simply on increases of carbon dioxide.  It should be obvious that this discussion has important policy consequences since so many politicians are wedded to the idea that CO2 needs to be controlled in order to avoid “dangerous changes of the global climate.”

S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and director of the Science & Environmental Policy Project.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #353 on: January 16, 2015, 11:16:20 AM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/17/science/earth/2014-was-hottest-year-on-record-surpassing-2010.html?emc=edit_na_20150116&nlid=49641193&_r=0
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #354 on: January 16, 2015, 08:49:12 PM »

Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says

JAN. 15, 2015
Photo
A dead whale in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in 2011. As container ships multiply, more whales are being harmed, a study said. Credit Marco De Swart/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A team of scientists, in a groundbreaking analysis of data from hundreds of sources, has concluded that humans are on the verge of causing unprecedented damage to the oceans and the animals living in them.

“We may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event,” said Douglas J. McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an author of the new research, which was published on Thursday in the journal Science.  But there is still time to avert catastrophe, Dr. McCauley and his colleagues also found. Compared with the continents, the oceans are mostly intact, still wild enough to bounce back to ecological health.

“We’re lucky in many ways,” said Malin L. Pinsky, a marine biologist at Rutgers University and another author of the new report. “The impacts are accelerating, but they’re not so bad we can’t reverse them.”

Scientific assessments of the oceans’ health are dogged by uncertainty: It’s much harder for researchers to judge the well-being of a species living underwater, over thousands of miles, than to track the health of a species on land. And changes that scientists observe in particular ocean ecosystems may not reflect trends across the planet.


Dr. Pinsky, Dr. McCauley and their colleagues sought a clearer picture of the oceans’ health by pulling together data from an enormous range of sources, from discoveries in the fossil record to statistics on modern container shipping, fish catches and seabed mining. While many of the findings already existed, they had never been juxtaposed in such a way.

A number of experts said the result was a remarkable synthesis, along with a nuanced and encouraging prognosis.

“I see this as a call for action to close the gap between conservation on land and in the sea,” said Loren McClenachan of Colby College, who was not involved in the study.

There are clear signs already that humans are harming the oceans to a remarkable degree, the scientists found. Some ocean species are certainly overharvested, but even greater damage results from large-scale habitat loss, which is likely to accelerate as technology advances the human footprint, the scientists reported.

Coral reefs, for example, have declined by 40 percent worldwide, partly as a result of climate-change-driven warming.

Some fish are migrating to cooler waters already. Black sea bass, once most common off the coast of Virginia, have moved up to New Jersey. Less fortunate species may not be able to find new ranges. At the same time, carbon emissions are altering the chemistry of seawater, making it more acidic.

“If you cranked up the aquarium heater and dumped some acid in the water, your fish would not be very happy,” Dr. Pinsky said. “In effect, that’s what we’re doing to the oceans.”

Fragile ecosystems like mangroves are being replaced by fish farms, which are projected to provide most of the fish we consume within 20 years. Bottom trawlers scraping large nets across the sea floor have already affected 20 million square miles of ocean, turning parts of the continental shelf to rubble. Whales may no longer be widely hunted, the analysis noted, but they are now colliding more often as the number of container ships rises.


Mining operations, too, are poised to transform the ocean. Contracts for seabed mining now cover 460,000 square miles underwater, the researchers found, up from zero in 2000. Seabed mining has the potential to tear up unique ecosystems and introduce pollution into the deep sea.

The oceans are so vast that their ecosystems may seem impervious to change. But Dr. McClenachan warned that the fossil record shows that global disasters have wrecked the seas before. “Marine species are not immune to extinction on a large scale,” she said.

Until now, the seas largely have been spared the carnage visited on terrestrial species, the new analysis also found.

The fossil record indicates that a number of large animal species became extinct as humans arrived on continents and islands. For example, the moa, a giant bird that once lived on New Zealand, was wiped out by arriving Polynesians in the 1300s, probably within a century.

But it was only after 1800, with the Industrial Revolution, that extinctions on land really accelerated.

Humans began to alter the habitat that wildlife depended on, wiping out forests for timber, plowing under prairie for farmland, and laying down roads and railroads across continents.

Species began going extinct at a much faster pace. Over the past five centuries, researchers have recorded 514 animal extinctions on land. But the authors of the new study found that documented extinctions are far rarer in the ocean.

The Gulf of Maine has suspended codfishing and shrimping, it is one of many tactics needed to replenish biomass.Sadly, many nations do not...

Before 1500, a few species of seabirds are known to have vanished. Since then, scientists have documented only 15 ocean extinctions, including animals such as the Caribbean monk seal and the Steller’s sea cow.

While these figures are likely underestimates, Dr. McCauley said that the difference was nonetheless revealing.

“Fundamentally, we’re a terrestrial predator,” he said. “It’s hard for an ape to drive something in the ocean extinct.”

Many marine species that have become extinct or are endangered depend on land — seabirds that nest on cliffs, for example, or sea turtles that lay eggs on beaches.

Still, there is time for humans to halt the damage, Dr. McCauley said, with effective programs limiting the exploitation of the oceans. The tiger may not be salvageable in the wild — but the tiger shark may well be, he said.

“There are a lot of tools we can use,” he said. “We better pick them up and use them seriously.”

Dr. McCauley and his colleagues argue that limiting the industrialization of the oceans to some regions could allow threatened species to recover in other ones. “I fervently believe that our best partner in saving the ocean is the ocean itself,” said Stephen R. Palumbi of Stanford University, an author of the new study.

The scientists also argued that these reserves had to be designed with climate change in mind, so that species escaping high temperatures or low pH would be able to find refuge.

“It’s creating a hopscotch pattern up and down the coasts to help these species adapt,” Dr. Pinsky said.

Ultimately, Dr. Palumbi warned, slowing extinctions in the oceans will mean cutting back on carbon emissions, not just adapting to them.

“If by the end of the century we’re not off the business-as-usual curve we are now, I honestly feel there’s not much hope for normal ecosystems in the ocean,” he said. “But in the meantime, we do have a chance to do what we can. We have a couple decades more than we thought we had, so let’s please not waste it.”
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #355 on: January 22, 2015, 07:05:01 AM »

http://www.climate.gov/news-features/videos/old-ice-arctic-vanishingly-rare
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #356 on: January 24, 2015, 12:43:58 PM »

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2015/01/23/greenlands-melting-ice/
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DougMacG
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« Reply #357 on: January 24, 2015, 06:59:40 PM »


Interesting phenomenon.  Odd that the author finds a natural occurrence he doesn't understand to be "catastrophic".
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #358 on: January 26, 2015, 11:47:08 AM »

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/01/22/3614256/hottest-year-ocean-warming/
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