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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Suggestions of “strong negative cloud feedbacks” in a warmer climate

Natural heat engine - the cumulonimbus cloud, transports heat from the lower to upper levels of the atmosphere. Source International Space Station/NASA - click for large image

Natural heat engine - the cumulonimbus cloud, transports heat from the lower to upper levels of the atmosphere. Source International Space Station NASA - click for large image


I thought this post on clouds and climate modeling below from Steve McIntyre’s Climate Audit was interesting, because it highlights the dreaded “negative feedbacks” that many climate modelers say don’t exist. Dr. Richard Lindzen highlighted the importance of negative feedback in a recent WUWT post.


One of the comments to the CA article shows the simplicity and obviousness of the existence of negative feedback in one of our most common weather events. Willis Eschenbach writes:

Cloud positive feedback is one of the most foolish and anti-common sense claims of the models.

This is particularly true of cumulus and cumulonimbus, which increase with the temperature during the day, move huge amounts of energy from the surface aloft, reflect huge amounts of energy to space, and fade away and disappear at night.

Spot on Willis, I couldn’t agree more. This is especially well demonstrated in the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) The ITCZ has been in the news recently because early analysis of the flight path of Air France 447 suggests flying through an intense thunderstorm cell in the ITCZ may have been the fatal mistake. There is a huge amount of energy being transported into the upper atmosphere by these storms.


Here are some diagrams and photographs to help visualize the ITCZ heat transport process. First, here is what the ITCZ looks like from space. Note the bright band of cumulonimbus clouds from left to right.

The ITCZ from space. Source: NASA Earth Observatory. Click for larger image

The ITCZ from space. Source: NASA Earth Observatory. Click for larger image


Here is a pictorial showing a cross section of the ITCZ with a cumulonimbus cloud in the center.

Cumulonimbus heat transport diagram

ITCZ Cumulonimbus heat transport diagram


And finally, a 3D pictorial showing ITCZ circulation and heat transport. Note the cloud tops produce a bright albedo, reflecting solar radiation.

Circulation in the ITCZ

Circulation in the ITCZ


And here is the post on Climate Audit


Cloud Super-Parameterization and Low Climate Sensitivity


by Steve McIntyre on June 11th, 2009

“Superparameterization” is described by the Climate Process Team on Low-Latitude Cloud Feedbacks on Climate Sensitivity in an online meeting report (Bretherton, 2006) as:

a recently developed form of global modeling in which the parameterized moist physics in each grid column of an AGCM is replaced by a small cloud-resolving model (CRM). It holds the promise of much more realistic simulations of cloud fields associated with moist convection and turbulence.

Clouds have, of course, been the primary source of uncertainty in climate models since the 1970s. Some of the conclusions from cloud parameterization studies are quite startling.


The Climate Process Team on Low-Latitude Cloud Feedbacks on Climate Sensitivity reported that:

The world’s first superparameterization climate sensitivity results show strong negative cloud feedbacks driven by enhancement of boundary layer clouds in a warmer climate.

These strong negative cloud feedbacks resulted in a low climate sensitivity of only 0.41 K/(W m-2), described as being at the “low end” of traditional GCMS (i.e. around 1.5 deg C/doubled CO2.):

The CAM-SP shows strongly negative net cloud feedback in both the tropics and in the extratropics, resulting in a global climate sensitivity of only 0.41 K/(W m-2), at the low end of traditional AGCMs (e.g. Cess et al. 1996), but in accord with an analysis of 30-day SST/SST+2K climatologies from a global aquaplanet CRM run on the Earth Simulator (Miura et al. 2005). The conventional AGCMs differ greatly from each other but all have less negative net cloud forcings and correspondingly larger climate sensitivities than the superparameterization

They analyzed the generation of clouds in a few leading GCMs, finding that a GCM’s mean behavior can “reflect unanticipated and unphysical interactions between its component parameterizations”:

A diagnosis of the CAM3 SCM showed the cloud layer was maintained by a complex cycle with a few hour period in which different moist physics parameterizations take over at different times in ways unintended by their developers. A surprise was the unexpectedly large role of parameterized deep convection parameterization even though the cloud layer does not extend above 800 hPa. This emphasizes that an AGCM is a system whose mean behavior can reflect unanticipated and unphysical interactions between its component parameterizations.

Wyant et al (GRL 2006) reported some of these findings. Its abstract stated:

The model has weaker climate sensitivity than most GCMs, but comparable climate sensitivity to recent aqua-planet simulations of a global cloud-resolving model. The weak sensitivity is primarily due to an increase in low cloud fraction and liquid water in tropical regions of moderate subsidence as well as substantial increases in high-latitude cloud fraction.

They report the low end sensitivities noted in the workshop as follows:

We have performed similar +2 K perturbation experiments with CAM 3.0 with a semi-Lagrangian dynamical core, CAM 3.0 with an Eulerian dynamical core, and with the GFDL AM2.12b. These have λ’s of 0.41, 0.54, and 0.65 respectively; SP-CAM is about as sensitive or less sensitive than these GCMs. In fact, SPCAM has only slightly higher climate sensitivity than the least sensitive of the models presented in C89 (The C89 values are based on July simulations)…

The global annual mean changes in shortwave cloud forcing (SWCF) and longwave cloud forcing (LWCF) and net cloud forcing for SP-CAM are _1.94 W m_2, 0.17 W m_2, and _1.77 W m_2, respectively. The negative change in net cloud forcing increases G and makes λ smaller than it would be in the absence of cloud changes.

Wyant et al (GRL 2006) is not cited in IPCC AR4 chapter 8, though a companion study (Wyant et al Clim Dyn 2006) is, but only in the most general terms, no mention being made of low sensitivity being associated with superparameterization:

Recent analyses suggest that the response of boundary-layer clouds constitutes the largest contributor to the range of climate change cloud feedbacks among current GCMs (Bony and Dufresne, 2005; Webb et al., 2006; Wyant et al., 2006). It is due both to large discrepancies in the radiative response simulated by models in regions dominated by lowlevel cloud cover (Figure 8.15), and to the large areas of the globe covered by these regions…

the evaluation of simulated cloud fi elds is increasingly done in terms of cloud types and cloud optical properties (Klein and Jakob, 1999; Webb et al., 2001; Williams et al., 2003; Lin and Zhang, 2004; Weare, 2004; Zhang et al., 2005; Wyant et al., 2006).
(Bretherton 2006)

Dessler et al (GRL 2008) made no mention of strong negative cloud feedbacks under superparamterization, stating that sensitivity is “virtually guaranteed” to be at least several degrees C, unless “a strong, negative, and currently unknown feedback is discovered somewhere in our climate system”:

The existence of a strong and positive water-vapor feedback means that projected business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions over the next century are virtually guaranteed to produce warming of several degrees Celsius. The only way that will not happen is if a strong, negative, and currently unknown feedback is discovered somewhere in our climate system.

There are a limited number of possibilities for such a possibility, but it is interesting that cloud super-parameterizations indicate a strong negative cloud feedback (contra the standard Soden and Held results.)


This is not an area that I’ve studied at length and I do have no personal views or opinions on the matters discussed in this thread.

Lab experiment regarding CO2 “snow” in Antarctica at -113°F (-80.5°C) – not possible

Frozen CO2 at the poles of Mars - but not possible on Earth

Frozen CO2 at the poles of Mars - but not possible on Earth


A couple of days ago WUWT carried a story, talking about intense cold in Antarctica, carbon dioxide, and the icecap of Mars. This one passage stirred up a significant debate:

According to Weather Underground, Vostok, Antarctica is forecast to reach -113F on Friday. That is four degrees below the freezing point of CO2 and would cause dry (CO2) ice to freeze directly out of the air.

It seemed (at the time) a reasonable statement. The freezing point of CO2 is -109.3 degrees Fahrenheit (-78.5 degrees C). There’s been mentions of this supposed phenomenon of CO2 freezing out of the air before on other blogs and websites. One of the best examples was even an entry in the website “ask a scientist” where the question of CO2 freezing out of the air was posed, and the answer from an Argonne National Laboratory scientist seemed to indicate that CO2 could indeed precipitate as a solid from the air if the temperature was low enough at Earth’s South Pole, specifically Vostok Station, which holds the record for the lowest temperature recorded on Earth at −89.2°C (−128.6°F)

Certainly, at least some of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at the poles does freeze out during the winter. However, there is not enough frozen out to accumulate to any extent at the present.

David R. Cook
Atmospheric Research Section
Environmental Research Division
Argonne National Laboratory

So, it seemed possible. But as WUWT commenters soon pointed out, temperature is only part of the equation needed to deposit CO2 as a solid from the free atmosphere at that temperature.


Soon we were discussing gas laws, phase diagrams, and partial pressures. The debate mainly centered on whether or not this phase diagram for carbon dioxide applied to 1 atmosphere of pressure of pure CO2 versus simply 1 atmosphere of pressure independent of the purity of the gas.


The author of the post, Steven Goddard wrote:

The phase diagram shows unambiguously that the equilibrium state of CO2 at one atmosphere at 113F is solid. The freezing point of CO2 is -109F at 1 atmosphere.
http://www.chemicalogic.com/download/co2_phase_diagram.pdf

The PDF referenced doesn’t translate well to the blog size format, but this less detailed phase diagram for CO2 does fit and was mentioned in comments also:

CO2_phase_diagram

Since many of us know from experience that with ice, be it water ice or CO2 (dry) ice, that a phase change can occur directly from solid to gas (sublimation). It seemed reasonable to conclude that the reverse could be possible, going from a gas to a solid as long as the temperature was below the “triple point” of CO2 as well as the freezing point at 1ATM.


The freezing point/sublimation point of CO2 at 1ATM is at -78.5C (-109.3F). In the situation described in the forecast for Vostok station, the temperature was forecast to reach below the freezing point for CO2 at -80.5 C (-113F ). It seemed reasonable then to concludes that CO2 would freeze right out of the air, much like frost does from water vapor. Plus we had a statement from a scientist at a National Laboratory saying it was possible also. What’s not to like?


One small detail: partial pressure.


The concentration of CO2 in the free atmosphere is very small. Thus the partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere is about 0.0004 atmospheres. But wait there’s more. Vostok station is at a high elevation, 3288 meters above sea level (10,787 feet) and the atmosphere is thinner. Thus the partial pressure of CO2 is even lower.


Commenter George E. Smith summed it up pretty well with this paragraph:

At -78.5 deg C (-109F), that equilibrium occurs at a partial pressure of CO2 of 760 mm Hg, one atmosphere. Below that pressure, there isn’t enough abundance of CO2 molecules in the vapor phase for collisions with the solid surface to occur at a fast enough rate to make up for the ones that escaped; so the solid CO2; dry ice, will continue to sublimate.

Basically, there are so few CO2 molecules in the free atmosphere, sublimation rules over deposition as a solid. Yes some CO2 may deposit on a surface at at -80.5 C (-113F ), but it would quickly sublimate back into the free atmosphere, and thus accumulation would not occur.


Meanwhile WUWT reader Ric Werme had written to Dr. David Cook of Argonne National Lab to ask about his original opinion he wrote for “ask a scientist” web site. Ric reports he responded with this:

Ric,

You are correct. In my attempts at being simplistic I made a mistake in my answer to “Freezing CO2″ on the Ask-A-Scientist page. -57 C is the boiling point of CO2. The freezing point of CO2 at atmospheric pressure is -78.5 C (-109.3 F). If the temperature reaches -113 F at Vostok, Antarctica, some carbon dioxide might freeze out of the air, assuming that the carbon dioxide vapor pressure drops to its saturation vapor pressure.


The vapor pressure must reach the saturation vapor pressure for dew or frost to form. This happens at the dew point or frost point temperature, which is dependent on atmospheric pressure and the absolute amount of vapor in the air. As atmospheric temperature increases, the dew/frost point temperature increases. As atmospheric pressure increases, the vapor pressure increases. At very low temperatures, the dew/frost point temperature is very low.


When the temperature of the surface (whether grass or a car window) is below freezing, frost will usually form instead of dew, although water can be super-cooled and not produce dew, fog, or clouds in some cases. Surfaces on the Earth cool off sooner than the air, so dew/frost will normally form on them before fog (water or ice) forms in the air.


The temperature being at “freezing” or below does not imply that frost will form on surfaces or in the air. The vapor pressure must be high enough (saturation vapor pressure) and the temperature low enough (the frost point temperature) for frost to form.

So it seems, Dr. Cook (and our own Steve Goddard) made the basic and simple error of not taking vapor pressure into account. Given our human experience with the everyday freezing of water, we don’t often think about it. I didn’t catch it either initially, nor did some WUWT commenters.


It does demonstrate though, how little CO2 there is in our atmosphere, we can’t even precipitate it to solid under any natural condition of earth.


But, even with the debate apparently settled, the CO2 freezing question was still all in the realm of opinions and phase diagrams. Some people really wanted to see some empirical proof. Some thoughts on experiments were tossed about.


Enter WUWT reader Dr. Thomas Thatcher of the University of Rochester who had not only an idea for an experiment, but the means with which to carry it out. He had a lab freezer which would “maintains -80˚C (-112˚F) in my lab, and it can be set as low as -86˚C (-122˚F).”.


He proposed that he could use that freezer to do a test with dry ice:

The argument, as far as I can tell, is that at the atmospheric partial pressure of CO2, dry ice at -113F will sublimate faster than it forms (which may be different than how a pure CO2 atmosphere would behave). I am in a position to test this, as described above.

Based on the arguments presented here, the two postulated outcomes are,
1) significant loss of mass, as the sublimation rate exceeds the deposition rate
2) no change, or negligible gain in mass.


(I suspect that any gain in mass will evaporate on the short walk from the freezer to the balance.)


It’s admittedly an imperfect experiment. But I expect the outcome will be rather obvious; the dry ice will be gone in the morning. We’ll see.

He conducted his experiment overnight between Thursday and Friday, and writes:

The freezer is a VWR brand ultralow temperature upright freezer, similar to models shown here.
http://www.vwrsp.com/catalog/product/index.cgi?catalog_number=14230-120&inE=1&highlight=14230-120


It is set to -86C, the temperature typically rises 1-3C when opened, and recovers in about 30 minutes. (Factory temperature calibration was NIST-traceable but it has not been recalibrated since it was installed here.) The samples were loaded at 4:30 pm and removed at 9:30 am, so the freezer will have been largely undisturbed during that time.


The interior is mostly filled with stainless steel racks that hold cardboard boxes for storing biological samples. I placed the test samples in two boxes on the bottom shelf at the rear of the freezer, the coldest zone and closest to the temperature probe.


One sample was placed in an open box with extra holes cut to allow air circulation. The other sample was placed in small zip top plastic bag inside a cardboard box. The samples were weighed by difference before being placed in the freezer and after removal in the morning. Additional weighings were taken to estimate the amount of sublimation during the weighing procedure and the amount of water that might condense on the boxes, but these amounts proved insignificant next to the overall results.


The samples were placed in the freezer at 4:30pm (reading -82C) and removed at 10:00am (reading -83C).


Open container, start weight 36.5g dry ice, end weight 0g, amount sublimated 100%.
Zip-top bag, start weight 27.6g dry ice, end weight 25.3g, amount sublimated 8.3%


Proving, I think, that CO2 will freeze and remain frozen at below -78.5C if the partial pressure of CO2 is near 1 ATM, but the CO2 will rapidly sublimate is the partial pressure of CO2 is near atmospheric normal.

And he concludes:

Bottom line, 40g of dry ice placed in an open container at -82C completely sublimated overnight, while 27g of dry ice placed in a zip top bag retained 90% of its mass. This proves two things, first, that the temperature of the freezer did not exceed -78.5C for any appreciable period of time, and second that yes indeed, the partial pressure of CO2 is the key to the problem.

Best of all, he sent photos of the experiment he conducted:

Interior of the freezer showing sample box racks
The placement of the two sample boxes for the CO2 sublimation experiment
The two sample boxes with dry ice of equal weights, enclosed on the left, open on the right, just before they were placed into the freezer for the night.
The sample boxes immediately after removal the next morning.
With the plastic bag removed, showing the leftmost sample still about 90% intact.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the debate, including Ric Werme for his correspondence help and especially Tom Thatcher for conducting the experiment and taking photos.


We all learned something, we had a little fun, some online yelling occurred, and some egos were bruised. Overall though it was worthwhile that this myth of “CO2 snow at Vostok station” was finally put to rest.

Slower or Faster? Take your pick.

I saw these two stories about wind studies related to global warming. Both were actually posted on the same day (yesterday).


The first one from the Guardian states........The great gusting winds of the American Midwest - and possibly the hopes for the most promising clean energy source - may be dying, in part because of climate change, according to a new report.


The second one from ScienceDaily starts out like this.......As a result of stronger winds caused by global warming, seeds and pollen are being carried over longer distances.


Well, which one is it. Granted, the first study is focusing on the wind in the American Midwest, while the second one is talking about the winds in the Boreal forest. Is one of these studies coming up with the wrong conclusion? Based on what I read from the Guardian article, it appears that there are some scientists that feel that the Midwest wind conclusion is way too premature.


Or, is it true that wind speeds due to global warming are increasing in some areas and weakening in others?

Definitive Link of CO2 Emissions to Global Warming Found

A professor from Concordia University's Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, along with colleagues from Victoria and the U.K. have found a direct relationship between carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and global warming.


The team, lead by Damon Matthews, used a combination of global climate models and historical climate data to show that there is a simple linear relationship between total cumulative emissions and global temperature change, according to the Concordia University press release.


Matthews and his colleagues show that each emission of carbon dioxide results in the same global temperature increase, regardless of when or over what period of time the emission occurs.


For every tonne of CO2 that is emitted there will be an increase of 0.0000000000015 degrees of global temperature change.


A look at CO2 emissions across the world (2006 data). Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

According to the study, we must restrict total carbon emissions, from now until forever, to little more than half a trillion tonnes of carbon, or about as much again as we have emitted since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

-------------
This study was published in the journal Nature today.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Global warming has already changed oceans

In Washington state, oysters in some areas haven't reproduced for four years, and preliminary evidence suggests that the increasing acidity of the ocean could be the cause. In the Gulf of Mexico, falling oxygen levels in the water have forced shrimp to migrate elsewhere.


Though two marine-derived drugs, one for treating cancer and the other for pain control, are on the market and 25 others are under development, the fungus growing on seaweed, bacteria in deep sea mud and sea fans that could produce life-saving medicines are under assault from changing ocean conditions.


Researchers, scientists and Jacques Cousteau's granddaughter painted a bleak picture Tuesday of the future of oceans and the "blue economy" of the nation's coastal states.


The hearing before the oceans subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee was expected to focus on how the degradation of the oceans was affecting marine businesses and coastal communities. Instead, much of the testimony focused on how the waters that cover 70 percent of the planet are already changing because of global warming.


Ocean acidification or diseases that thrive in acidified, oxygen-depleted seawater could be responsible for oysters not reproducing in Washington state, said Brad Warren, who oversees the ocean health and acidification program of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership in Seattle. A federal study found that two-thirds of larval blue crabs died when exposed to acidity levels like those currently measured off the West Coast, he said.


Federal studies also found acidity levels in the North Pacific and off Alaska are unusually high compared to other ocean regions. The high acidity is already taking a toll of such tiny species as pteropods, which are an important food for salmon and other fish.


As greenhouse gas emissions increase, billions of tons of carbon dioxide from smokestacks and vehicle tailpipes are absorbed by the oceans. The result is carbonic acid, which dilutes the "rich soup" of calcium carbonate in the seawater that many species, especially on the low end of the food chain, thrive in, Warren said.


"If we lose it, it is gone forever," Warren said of the oceans' delicate chemical balance.


In the Gulf of Mexico, Alexandra Cousteau said, the runoff down the Mississippi River from farms in the Midwest has created a dead zone the size of New Jersey where few species can survive. Wetlands in Louisiana are disappearing at the rate of 33 football fields a day as hurricanes grow in strength and frequency because of climate change, she said.


"We must start to realize that there can be no standalone policies, especially as they relate to our water resources," Cousteau said. "Energy, transportation, climate change, infrastructure, agriculture, urban development: this is where our ocean policy must begin. It is all interconnected."


Others testified that the economic toll eventually could be enormous for fishing and other ocean-related industries and for the nation's coastal communities. Taken together, the ocean and coastal economies, including the Great Lakes, provide more than 50 million jobs and make up nearly 60 percent of the nation's economy.


"Significant environmental changes, such as sea level and sea temperature rise, oxygen depletion and ocean acidification, will dramatically change the landscape, restructuring an array of natural and physical assets as well as cultural and economic," said Judith Kidlow of the National Ocean Economics Program. "Over the next 30 years, the nation will see the most significant changes in the ocean and coastal economies since the arrival of industrialization and urbanization."


The subcommittee's chairman, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., suggested a doubling of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration budget, which is now about $4 billion, and giving the agency additional responsibilities.


Cantwell, however, said the key has to be passing comprehensive climate change legislation to reduce carbon emissions.


"Protecting our oceans is an environmental and economic imperative," Cantwell said.


ON THE WEB

Information on oceans from NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov/ocean.html

Texas Blasts Federal Efforts to Fight Global Warming

Texas elected officials Tuesday railed against federal efforts to curb global warming, claiming it would throttle the state's economy -- one of the few that generated job growth last year.


State comptroller Susan Combs said that if passed, a landmark climate change bill winding its way through Congress could cost the state 164,000 jobs and shave some $25 billion per year, or 2%, off the state's total economic output.


"Texas is the kitchen of the country. We cook up all of the products that are used elsewhere," said Ms. Combs, a Republican, referring to the state's large petrochemical and plastics industry. "The recipe for disaster is being cooked up in Washington D.C.," she added.


Ms. Combs joined Gov. Rick Perry, also a Republican, at a meeting with industry leaders in the state capitol to discuss the threat of federal climate-change policy and underscore the energy-producing state's skittishness towards the environmental concerns that are at the core of the Obama administration's policy-making.


"I happen to think that what they are discussing could wreck our traditional energy industry and put a very serious dent in our economy," said Mr. Perry. He repeated his view that the proposed provisions that recently passed out of committee in the House of Representatives amounted to the largest tax increase in history. The provisions would put a limit on emissions of the gasses blamed for climate change and require companies to pay for permits to pollute. As a result, "Every American that uses any source of energy would see their bills go up," he said.


The impact would be felt acutely in Texas, home to a giant refining complex. Refineries under the legislation would be forced to purchase emissions permits, driving up the cost of producing fuel. It is also home to the corporate headquarters of the world's largest oil company, Exxon Mobil Corp., and the largest refining company based on refining capacity, Valero Energy Corp., as well as another major oil company, ConocoPhillips.


Political observers have pointed out that Mr. Perry has a political agenda for attacking Washington D.C. He will likely face a stiff challenge from within his party next year in the Republican gubernatorial primary from U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. His critique of Washington regulations has traditionally played well with Republican primary voters, and might be Mr. Perry's strongest strategy for fending off the challenge from Ms. Hutchison, a three-term U.S. Senator, to win an unprecedented third term.


Ms. Hutchison, however, also stands against a carbon cap-and-trade system. "A cap and trade approach to address climate change is onerous and misguided, and it will raise energy prices for consumers and adversely impact workers and small businesses during a time of economic hardship," she said Tuesday in a statement.

BREAKING NEWS: NASA admits Global Warming probably has nothing to do with air pollution, or humans at all

We here at Republibot have long gone on record as being dubious about this whole "Global Warming" thing. Our individual opinions vary from outright disbelief that the phenomenon is actually happening to a grudging admission that something is going on, but we're unsure whether or not it has anything to do with us stupid humans. All three of us agree, however, that fear of Global Warming has been shamefully used to scare people out of their money and their votes. And it's been highly effective at that.


Back during the whole "Inconvenient Truth" thing, when every government agency was forced with the Stalinist reality of either agreeing with the ignorant hippies or being pilloried in public and having their funding cut, NASA went on record as saying that Gore was right, the world was getting warmer, we're all gonna' die, and it's all our fault, now can we please get back to working on that piece-of-crap space station that we don't even own, if it's ok with you?


Nowadays, with the Democrats firmly in office, NASA appears to feel a bit more secure about casting a dissenting voice (Make of that what you will), and have admitted that the Sun probably has a whole lot more to do with temperature on Earth than whether or not you drive a Prius and eat vegitarian.


Daily Tech addressed this in a recent article in which they state:
>>>While the NASA study acknowledged the sun's influence on warming and cooling patterns, it then went badly off the tracks. Ignoring its own evidence, it returned to an argument that man had replaced the sun as the cause current warming patterns. Like many studies, this conclusion was based less on hard data and more on questionable correlations and inaccurate modeling techniques.


The inconvertible fact, here is that even NASA's own study acknowledges that solar variation has caused climate change in the past. And even the study's members, mostly ardent supports of AGW theory, acknowledge that the sun may play a significant role in future climate changes.<<<


If you go to their site here http://www.dailytech.com/NASA+Study+Acknowledges+Solar+Cycle+Not+Man+Res... they've also got some charts that compare global temperatures to cycles of sunspot activity, and not surprisingly they more or less mirror each other.


Science Daily posted a longer version of basically the same story a few months back here http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080512120523.htm


and of course if you want to tool around the NASA site to find the original sources for this info, this link'll get you started http://search.nasa.gov/search/search.jsp?nasaInclude=global+warming


Of course this info comes as no surprise to any of us here, since weather data we've been getting back from Mars over the past 30-odd years strongly suggests that Mars is having a mild bout of Global Warming as well. Clearly, we can't be responsible for that, since there's never been a single person on the Red Planet.


I should point out that we here at Republibot are not the kinds of people who automatically gainsay any environmental concerns. We do openly admit that there are many serious ecological threats and crises throughout the world - Deforestation, the reduction of Tropical Rain Forests, heavy metal dumping at sea, and of course the alarming increase in the ammount of lead in our atmoshphere over the last century. (The ammount of lead in the air is ONE THOUSAND times what it was 110 years ago!) These are real, clear-and-present dangers to humanity and the world itself. Our objection to the Global Warming mania is that even if it's real, it's a very minor problem that is part of a natural cycle we can't do anything about anyway - there have been 35 "Hot ages" in the last three million years, and obviously we couldn't have caused any of those - and all the money and attention blown on this non-issue is detracting more legitimate and immediate environmental concerns.


Or, to put that another way: We're not anti-environment, we're anti-frightening-the-gullible-public-to-make-a-few-bucks-and-ignore-real-problems. We've got a very strong anti-frightening-the-gullible-public-to-make-a-few-bucks-and-ignore-real-problems agenda here at the 'bot.

Energy and Global Warming News for June 9th: Drinking water from air humidity; Greens gain in EU parliament vote

Facilities “producing large quantities of drinking water from moisture in the air could look like this” — and it looks to me this could be powered by the waste heat from concentrated solar thermal plants.

Drinking Water From Air Humidity

Not a plant to be seen, the desert ground is too dry. But the air contains water, and research scientists have found a way of obtaining drinking water from air humidity. The system is based completely on renewable energy and is therefore autonomous….


In the Negev desert in Israel, for example, annual average relative air humidity is 64 percent – in every cubic meter of air there are 11.5 milliliters of water.


Research scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart working in conjunction with their colleagues from the company Logos Innovationen have found a way of converting … air humidity autonomously and decentrally into drinkable water.


“The process we have developed is based exclusively on renewable energy sources such as thermal solar collectors and photovoltaic cells, which makes this method completely energy-autonomous. It will therefore function in regions where there is no electrical infrastructure,” says Siegfried Egner, head of department at the IGB.


The principle of the process is as follows: hygroscopic brine –- saline solution which absorbs moisture -– runs down a tower-shaped unit and absorbs water from the air. It is then sucked into a tank a few meters off the ground in which a vacuum prevails. Energy from solar collectors heats up the brine, which is diluted by the water it has absorbed….


Greens make big gains in EU parliament vote

Riding a wave of public concern over the effects of climate change, the Green-European Freedom Alliance bloc captured 53 of the EU parliament’s 736 seats, compared with 43 spots in the last 785-seat assembly.


“To have increased our side with the parliament seats going down in number is a nice surprise,” said Greens-EFA spokesman Chris Coakley.


Green candidates now account for 46 of their Green-EFA’s seats, compared with 36 previously, according to the political bloc, which also includes independents and members of smaller pro-EU national parties. The bloc’s final size could change slightly, depending on alliances.


Europe’s Greens were the only major bloc whose parliamentary proportion increased — from 5.5 percent to 7.1 percent in this election. Far-right groups and anti-EU parties, including the UK Independence Party, also saw big increases in the independent group.


Planes, trains or automobiles? Air travel may be no worse for the environment than rail

Jet-setters get a bad rap for their role in spewing greenhouse gases into the upper atmosphere, but a new study says that flying is really no worse for the environment than taking the train.


When most people think about air pollution and carbon emissions, they usually just consider just what’s coming from a vehicle’s exhaust pipe. But a new study in the journal Environmental Research Letters compares the impact of different transportation modes by taking into account everything from the steel in train tracks to the tires on aircraft landing gear.


A large aircraft emits about three times the greenhouse gases per passenger kilometer traveled than a train during operation. But if you consider the infrastructure that supports train and light rail travel, it effectively increases greenhouse gas emissions by a factor of 155 percent. A similar calculation for jets only increases the effective greenhouse gas emissions by 31 percent.


Indian farmers to insure themselves against climate change crop failure

For more than half a million farmers in rural India the age old fear of crops failing due to bad weather could soon be banished, thanks to an innovative insurance scheme that UN negotiators gathering in Bonn this week are considering as a central component of climate change adaptation measures in Africa, Asia and Latin America.


Following a successful trial last month, MicroEnsure, a company specialising in providing insurance to poor communities, plans to launch a scheme next year for up to 600,000 farmers in India’s Kolhapur province allowing them to insure against their rice crops failing due to drought or heavy rains during the plants’ flowering period.


[Austin’s Note: Raymond Fisman and Edward Miguel, prominent developmental economics both, have long argued for an insurance scheme like this]


Amsterdam: A Smart City Goes Live

On the streets of Amsterdam last week, major changes were afoot. The first of 1,200 households installed an energy-saving system from IBM and Cisco aimed at cutting electricity costs. Others were given fresh access to financing from Dutch banks ING and Rabobank to buy everything from energy-saving light bulbs to ultra-efficient roof insulation. And on Utrechtsestraat, a major shopping avenue in the center of the Dutch capital, solar-powered panels on local bus stops were installed to transform the road into a “Climate Street” piloting clean technology.


The projects are Amsterdam’s first steps toward making its infrastructure more eco-friendly. Other projects are expected to follow soon. They include 300 power hookups around the city to recharge electric cars, solar panels that will be installed on Amsterdam’s historic 17th century townhouses, and infrastructure upgrades that will allow households to sell energy they generate from small-scale wind turbines or solar panels back to the city’s electricity grid for a profit.


Energy panel will back gulf drilling plan — Dorgan

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will vote on an amendment today that would bring eastern Gulf of Mexico oil and gas leasing closer to Florida’s coast.


“I expect my amendment to pass,” said the measure’s sponsor, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.). The committee is resuming its markup of a broad energy bill this morning and hopes to complete the bill this week.


Dorgan said his amendment to the oil and gas title would shrink the no-leasing zone around Florida’s gulf coast to 45 miles from shore, which is less than half the current buffer.


Climate vows insufficient to hold back climate change, expert says

Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said on Monday that the pledges made so far were well below the target for emissions reduction laid down by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).


The proposals from representatives of more than 30 of the world’s richest nations meeting in the former West German capital amount to a reduction in the range of 17 percent to 26 percent of 1990 levels by 2020.


“This is not enough to address climate change,” de Boer said.


The IPCC proposals, made in a 2007 report, call for a 25 percent to 40 percent reduction in emissions to limit the risk of climate change caused by human activity. The Bonn meeting, which ends on Friday, is discussing new emission targets to be put in place after 2012 when the Kyoto Protocol on curbing greenhouse gas emissions expires.


Energy, Climate and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Last year, when energy prices soared, things got so bad in the United States Virgin Islands that some businesses in St. Croix shut down and people protested in the streets.


That’s according to Donna Christensen, the territory’s nonvoting delegate to Congress, who said that the islands’ power plants were almost completely reliant on imported diesel fuel. “Thank God it’s gone down,” she said of the price of energy. “People got some relief.”


The islands are now urgently trying to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, Ms. Christensen said. She is hoping that ocean thermal technology — generating electricity from the difference between the ocean’s cold depths and warm surface — will catch on, and the territory plans to host a pilot project on renewable energy for a partnership called Energy Development in Island Nations, although the particulars are unclear.


Future Of Metals

Could metals become extinct? That question has popped up in magazine articles and in the blogosphere in response to predictions by several scientists—taken out of context—that some metals running up against high demand and low supply could go the way of the dinosaurs.


Metals can’t really become extinct because their atoms are immutable, at least under most conditions. But it’s not such a farfetched idea that as world population and the average standard of living increase, some metals could become unavailable for new uses.


That realization is inspiring some scientists and economists to develop forward-thinking approaches to achieving sustainable cycles of metal use—that is, a continuous supply loop of a metal that runs from starting material to product to end-of-life recycling and back to starting material, with minor additions of virgin metal as needed to balance any inevitable processing losses.


Airlines promise global emissions cap by 2020

The International Air Transportation Association announced its committment today to setting a global cap on emissions in 2020.


“After this date, aviation emissions will not grow even as demand increases,” IATA chief Giovanni Bisignani said today during the IATA’s annual meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. “Airlines are the first global industry to make such a bold statement.


Airlines reject new tax to fight global warming

The airline industry has rejected calls for a compulsory tax on international flights to help the world’s poorest countries fight global warming.


The chief executive of the International Air Transport Association, Giovanni Bisignani, said carriers were “absolutely against” another levy in a year that the industry is expected to lose $9bn (£5.65bn).


“We are absolutely against,” he said. “We have seen so many taxes that we are fed up. We are serious about what we pay in emissions [taxes] going towards the environment in a serious way.”


The world’s 50 least developed countries have proposed a levy on all international fares that would raise $10bn a year, increasing the cost of tickets by about 1%. The idea has been raised as the second week in the latest round of UN climate talks gets under way in Bonn, where 192 countries are negotiating an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Natural Carbon Sequestration In Antarctica – A Litmus Test For Global Warming?

How cold is it in Antarctica? According to Weather Underground, Vostok, Antarctica is forecast to reach -113F on Friday. That is four degrees below the freezing point of CO2 and would cause dry (CO2) ice to freeze directly out of the air.

http://www.adventistforum.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/ubb/download/Number/3036/filename/dry%20ice.jpg

The south pole of Mars (seen below) similarly has an eight metre thick layer of dry (CO2) ice on top of the H2O ice.

http://www.daviddarling.info/images/Marssouthpole.jpg
Mars Southern Ice Cap
The Mars dry ice cap has been shrinking however, due to global warming on that planet. As explained in National Geographic in 2007.
Mars, too, appears to be enjoying more mild and balmy temperatures. In 2005 data from NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey missions revealed that the carbon dioxide “ice caps” near Mars’s south pole had been diminishing for three summers in a row. Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of space research at St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, says the Mars data is evidence that the current global warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun. ”The long-term increase in solar irradiance is heating both Earth and Mars,” he said.
If Dr. Abdussamatov is correct, the Mars ice caps should now be growing, due to the solar minimum. Does anyone have any information about this? A cooler earth coincident with a cooler Mars coincident with solar minimum would be difficult to argue with. Note that the diminishing Mars ice occurred at the same time as diminishing Arctic ice below.
Perhaps the IPCC should have their next polar melting discussion at Vostok in -113F weather? That would seem more fitting than Bali or Honolulu.

Eavesdropping on Storm Waves

Scientists are now electronically filtering out the sounds of earthquakes to that they can listen to storm waves. It is usually much more common to filter out the sounds of waves so that scientists can listen to earthquakes.


The noise of waves crashing ashore creates very specific vibrations, according to study leader Peter Bromirski of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. And those vibrations indicate how severe storms at sea actually are.


The research team has been studying seismological data on storms which goes back to the 1930's and they note an obvious trend over the past 75+ years. "There is a definite increase in severe storm events over the years that we are noticing at the recording stations," said Bromirski.


According to the National Geographic article, many scientists believe that an increase in severe storms is one of the signs of climate change.

--------------------

The full findings of this study can be found in the journal Science.

Monday, June 8, 2009

By 2050, Poland Will Be Like Sicily

Global warming is changing everything about our lives. It is changing how insects spread disease to us and plants. It is melting the ice that dominates the poles and it is causing the complete altering of climate patterns, leading to mass extinctions. As it turns out, global warming could also be changing where people take their vacations in 2050.

As things get warmer, typically milder and colder places begin to have longer and hotter summers. Such is the case with Poland and Hungary, which are expected to have a climate more like Sicily and Spain by mid-century.

Right now, Hungary and Poland have 22 days above 30 degrees C each year. According to a new study, the number of days above 30 degrees C will increase to 37 by 2050.
It is generally accepted that places like Poland, Russia, Canada, Scandinavian countries and the Ukraine will benefit greatly from global warming due to longer growing seasons and more rainfall. However, there are many more countries that will not benefit at all and could see a complete collapse of their social order.

According to the study, countries in the former Soviet Union that will be hurt the most by global warming are Tajikistan, Albania and Kyrgyzstan, while Slovenia, Czech Republic and Estonia are former Soviet provinces that will benefit the most.

So, in 2050 are we going to be getting our wine from Poland? If Poland is going to be like Sicily, does that mean Sicily will be more like Northern Africa? Or the Sahara? With global warming, for every benefit for countries like Poland, there are many more disadvantages for countries like Italy, Greece, Turkey and Spain. These countries will be completely altered due to global warming and they could find themselves as a barren wasteland. What can be said is that as the world warms, more and more people will move to the north. For countries like Canada, which has a very low population, that could lead to a conflict as more people want what we have here in Canada.

Until that time, begin enjoying the wine coming out of Poland, I hear the vintage of 2047 is supposed to be great.

Rising acid levels at sea a serious threat

MOST of us live and work on land. So we tend to forget that oceans cover more than 70 per cent of the earth and play a vital role in regulating the climate.

For centuries, humans have used the sea as a convenient dumping ground, even as they have intensified their harvesting of fish and other marine products. Vast amounts of waste have been tipped into the sea, which has been treated as an inexhaustible rubbish dump.

It might be so for normal trash. But 70 national academies of science, from both developed and developing countries, recently joined forces to warn that the massive release into the atmosphere of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main global warming gas, is raising acid levels at sea, 'with potentially profound consequences for marine plants and animals, especially those that require calcium carbonate to grow and survive, and other species that rely on these for food'.

The joint statement, issued on June 1, is intended to persuade international negotiators crafting a new framework to combat global warming to treat ocean acidification as one of the world's most important climate change challenges.

When CO2 is absorbed in sea water, it forms carbonic acid, making the water more acidic. Not only that, it reduces the availability of carbonate ions, which many creatures use to build shells and skeletons out of calcium carbonate. As a result, organisms such as plankton, algae, corals and molluscs struggle to build or maintain their protective or supportive structures.

Some scientists reckon that the oceans have absorbed as much as 50 per cent of the CO2 released by human activity over the past 200 years. The national science academies, in their joint statement, took a more conservative view, saying that approximately 25 per cent of the CO2 had been absorbed by the sea.

Still, there is no disagreement among mainstream scientists on the significance of what is happening and why. France's National Centre for Scientific Research, which is in the midst of a major study of ocean acidification with 26 partners, calculates that more than 25 million tonnes of CO2 dissolve in sea water every day, making the oceans a giant natural sink. If that were not so, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would be far greater.

If recent trends in CO2 emissions continue, computer projections suggest that by 2050, concentrations of the gas in the atmosphere will be more than double pre-industrial levels and the oceans will be more acidic than they have been for tens of million of years.

The current rate of change is much more rapid than at any time over the past 65 million years. Scientists say that these changes in ocean chemistry would be irreversible for many thousands of years, while the biological consequences could last much longer.

The acid level of the world's oceans is not consistent across the globe. However, no region is expected to escape the impact and South-east Asia is expected to be among the regions hardest hit.

Marine food supplies, already threatened by pollution and over-harvesting, are likely to be reduced, adversely affecting food security, as well as human health and well-being, in places dependent on fish protein.

A study published last month by the World Wide Fund For Nature looked at the future of the coasts, reefs and seas of Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste. These countries form the so-called Coral Triangle. Although just 1 per cent of the earth's surface, this zone includes 30 per cent of the world's coral reefs, 76 per cent of its reef-building coral species and more than 35 per cent of the coral reef fish species. The zone is a breeding ground for many fish, including tuna, and sustains the lives of more than 100 million people.

The study said that the Coral Triangle and its resources were imperilled by rising ocean temperature, acidity and sea level. It warned that as poverty increased, tens of millions of coastal dwellers would migrate to already crowded cities and urban slums.

The national science academies have reinforced this sombre outlook, saying that tropical waters will suffer rapid declines in the carbonate ions important for coral reef construction.

Calling for cuts in global CO2 emissions of at least 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050, the academies said that without such cuts coral reefs may dissolve globally by the end of the century and other parts of the marine food chain would be unable to adapt.

Another development climate scientists are watching with concern is whether the oceans will reach the point where they are so saturated in CO2 that they will be unable to absorb as much of the gas as now, leaving more of it in the atmosphere to intensify global warming.

The writer is a visiting senior research fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Burger King Owners Revolt Against Global Warming Hoax

More than a few have figured out that global warming is a malignant hoax, designed to strip us of our freedom and transfer our wealth to the government, corrupt corporations like GE, and still more corrupt charlatans like Al Gore. The establishment almost uniformly promotes this swindle, but Tennessee Burger King owners are fighting back with about a dozen signs like this:

Burger-King-Rebellion.jpg

Mirabile Investment Corporation owns over 40 Burger Kings. Its marketing president John McNelis is defiant:

The [restaurant] management team can put the message up there if they want to. It is private property and here in the US we do have some rights. … Burger King can bluster all they want about what they can tell the franchisee to do, but we have free-speech rights in this country so I don't think there's any concerns.

According to Burger King, franchisees have agreed to comply with orders from on high to remove the signage. If the signs are replaced with new ones reading, "Global Warming Is Real, Taxes Are Good, Obama Is the Messiah," we'll know the top brass has the situation in hand.

Global Warming and Air France Flight 447?

Blog posted by AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Mark Paquette

Hello again. As I usually do, I search the web for an article that sticks out to me, and this subject has been in the news quite a bit recently, so I figured I would pass it on to you.


This article asks the question "Does global warming pose a threat to the airline industry?" At first glance, I said, oh my, another loose cannon of an idea. How in the world are these two subjects even remotely related? After reading the article, maybe these two ideas are related a little more closely than I had first thought.


What if global ocean temperatures did rise? A big if, I know that. Would this lead to stronger updrafts from more frequent and stronger thunderstorms? Should pilots just try to avoid thunderstorms all together when they fly? This may not always be possible and almost always will be inconvenient to the pilots and everyone on board as this will often cause delays. This question then needs to be asked, are delays worth it when you are talking about the risk of human lives? I think everyone knows the answer to that question.


However, this article and any theories about global warming causing catastrophic events like this need to be taken with a grain of salt. As is so often pointed out to me and heard in the courthouse of public opinion, who even knows if global warming caused by man is occurring? Until we prove that it is or it is not happening, maybe we should use our time on more important subjects rather than trying to guess if helped cause a devastating plane crash.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Why are Large Trees in Yosemite N.P. Disappearing?

global-warming.accuweather

Sixty years of data collection by forest ecologists indicates that climate change could very well be causing the disappearance of the oldest and largest trees in Yosemite National Park, which is located in California.


Yosemite in the winter. Both images found in the Accuweather.com photo gallery.

Yosemite in the summer.

The key finding through this research is that the density of large diameter trees has fallen by 24% between the 1930s and 1990s, within all types of forest inside the park, according to the BBC Earth News article.


The famous Wawona Tree, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park. It Looks like this picture was taken in the 1940s.

Excerpts from the BBC article below......


"These large, old trees have lived centuries and experienced many dry and wet periods," says James Lutz of the University of Washington. "So it is quite a surprise that recent conditions are such that these long-term survivors have been affected."


The cause is difficult to pin down, but "we certainly think that climate is an important driver," says Lutz.


Higher temperatures decrease the amount of water available to the trees. The suppression of natural wildfires in the park also allows younger trees and shrubs to grow, increasing the competition for the water that is around.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Daily Arctic Sea Ice Images back Online

The daily Arctic sea ice images from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) were brought back online on Tuesday. The NSIDC completed the transition from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) F13 satellite, to the DMSP F17 satellite, which will allow the NSIDC to continue their long-term record of sea ice extent.


Looking at the latest sea ice extent, it appears that there was a significant drop off during the month of May. At the start of the month, the sea ice extent was very close to the 1979-2000 average, but by the end of the month it was closer to the record minimum year of 2007. Time will tell where it ends up at the end of the melt season in September.


June 2, 2009

Here is that same graph going back one year to June 3, 2008.


Here is an image showing the sea ice concentration as of June 2, 2009 over the Arctic region. Image courtesy of the University of Bremen, Germany.

Let's go back one year and see what the sea ice concentration looked like on June 2, 2008

It appears that there are many more areas of lower sea ice concentration currently compared to last year, especially on the Canadian side of the Arctic.

A Cooling Haze caused by High Heat

Haze just off the Carolina Coast

Satellite and ground-based sensor data from a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley indicate that sweltering summers can, paradoxically, lead to the temporary formation of a cooling haze in the Southeastern U.S. (negative feedback).


According to the EurekAlert article, manmade pollutants mix with the natural compounds emitted from forests and vegetation during the hot summer months, they form secondary aerosols that reflect light from the sun. Such aerosols may also contribute to the formation of clouds, which also reflect sunlight.


Why just the Southeast U.S.?

There is a known regional pattern of biogenic volatile organic compounds, such as natural hydrocarbons from plants and trees within this region, which increase exponentially when the temperature increases, according to lead author Allen Goldstein.


Based on their results, the authors of this study believe that climate models are likely underestimating the effects of organic aerosols.

Tropical Cyclones Adding to Global Warming?

Eyewall of Hurricane Ivan.

Usually, when most people see the words global warming and tropical cyclones put together, they think about the influences (or lack of) of global warming on tropical cyclones, and not the other way around.


In this new study from Harvard University, we read about the possible influence of tropical cyclones on climate.


Using 23 years of infrared satellite imagery, global tropical cyclone best-track data, and reanalysis of tropopause temperature, the authors found that tropical cyclones contribute a disproportionate amount of the tropical deep convection that overshoots the troposphere and reaches the stratosphere, according to the ScienceDaily article.



Diagram of the hurricane eyewall.


The authors of the study found that tropical cyclones contribute 7% of deep convection in the tropics, but that 15% of that convection reaches the statosphere.


Based on this information, the research team concluded that tropical cyclones could play a key role in adding water vapor (the most widespread greenhouse gas) to the stratosphere, which has shown to increase surface temperature. This leads them to conclude that there is the possibility of a positive feedback between tropical cyclones and global warming.


If this is in fact true, I would think the influence would be extremely small based on the percentages, especially when you think globally.

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This paper is published in the Geophysical Research Letters.

Geothermal Ice Circles in Russia’s Lake Baikal?

In the “Steig et al – falsified” thread, since we have been discussing geothermal activity along the Antarctic peninsula, I thought I’d pass along these images that show other parts of the planet where geothermal heat seems capable of melting ice and making it all the way to the surface. Lake Baikal is quite deep, over 5000′ feet in places, so this demonstrates that even in deep water, the melting of ice from that geothermal heat is a real possibility. Hat tip to WUWT commenter “Mark” – Anthony


By Betsy Mason, Wired News

baikal1

Click for a larger image - photo from NASA - ISS


Astronauts aboard the International Space Station noticed two mysterious dark circles in the ice of Russia’s Lake Baikal in April. Though the cause is more likely aqueous than alien, some aspects of the odd blemishes defy explanation.


The two circles are the focal points for ice break-up and may be caused by upwelling of warmer water in the lake. The dark color of the circles is due to thinning of the ice, which usually hangs around into June.


Upwelling wouldn’t be strange in some relatively shallow areas of the lake where hydrothermal activity has been detected, such as where the circle near the center of the lake (pictured below) is located.


Circles have been seen in that area before in 1985 and 1994, though they weren’t nearly as pronounced. But the location of the circle near the southern tip of the lake (pictured above) where water is relatively deep and cold is puzzling.


The lake itself is an oddity. It is the largest by volume and the deepest (5370 feet at its deepest point), as well as one of the oldest at around 25 million years. The photo above was taken by an astronaut from the ISS.


The photo below was taken by NASA’s MODIS satellite imager.

baikal3

Click for a larger image - photo from NASA - MODIS

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