Thursday, 24 May 2012

Sea Levels around Australia

I've added a reference page to the top of the sidebar. It's complete as intended, but I plan to add several more stations as I collect the data, mainly to fill-in sparsely represented lengths of coast. Please leave any comments here, as they're not active on fixed Blogger pages.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Global warming threatens pine forests, forcing federal officials to shift strategy

Really? It's global warming threatening pine forests? The ever-balanced and conclusive report in the Washington Times has all the facts:
A bag, a beetle and a warming threat to trees: A plastic bag that fights a beetle infestation on a western conifer is an emblem of how federal researchers are working to steel high-elevation pine forests in the West against the onslaught of climate change.
A beetle? A beetle is climate change? Seems the "federal researchers" are working to "steel high-elevation pine forests" against a beetle, not climate change. Are the beetles caused by climate change? There are plenty of links in the second paragraph to seemingly provide additional information from the WP archives of truth and light for those who bother to click on them. Most people don't of course, I do, I'm an inveterate link-clicker.
The conifer, with its accoutrements, represents a small salvo in the battle against a beetle infestation, fueled partly by warmer temperatures. But it is also a larger symbol of how researchers from the Forest Service — in concert with National Park Service officials and other scientists — are working to steel high-elevation pine forests in the West against the onslaught of climate change.
Let's take them in order, first the "beetle infestation".
The death rates of trees in Western U.S. forests have doubled over the past two to three decades, according to a new study spearheaded by the U.S. Geological Survey, driven in large part by higher temperatures and water scarcity linked to climate change.
Beetles feature in that report, but the emphasis is on other factors, the "driven in large part" factors, the immediate threat being from beetles, as one might expect.

What about the "Forest Service" - lots of information about that august body, their policies and their strategy? No, it's titled "Obama administration issues major rewrite of national forest rules", and it's about how the Forest Service will respond to that "rewrite". Two down two to go, so how about the "high-elevation pine forests" link? All about pine forests? No, it's about bark beetles, and there's a lot more about beetles in this article, supposed to tell us about forests, than on their "beetle infestation" link. Confused yet? Here's what it says about the main reason for the beetle-fest
In a natural forest, wildfires keep the percentage of prime beetle fodder at around 25 percent, says Allan Carroll, one of Canada’s foremost insect ecologists at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. But thanks to dedicated firefighting and other factors, aging pines made up more than half of some forests by 1990. In other words, human management of the forests has turned them into an incredible smorgasbord for beetles.
That's the main reason for forest fires also, the increase in older, diseased and dead trees, which the "join the dots" brigade ignore totally in blaming an increase in fires on "climate change". Try lighting a fire with green twigs.

The best is to come, the "climate change" link surely must do better, and explain climate change and what's causing it, and what the terrible outcomes will be? No, it's about the threat of rising sea level on Louisiana's Highway 1. Wait, what? The report blames climate change for the apparently imminent demise of one of the world's iconic species, a strip of concrete and tarmac. What does it have to say about the real reason for Highway 1's fate?
The land is sinking, in part because engineers have redirected sediment flowing from the Mississippi River more directly into the Gulf of Mexico, improving navigation but no longer shoring up the wetlands.
Score for this link: climate change 0, facts 1

That's the "informative" links done and dusted, ridiculed and debunked, so back to the reason for this post. The beetle infestation is "fueled partly by warmer temperatures":
Scientists know that global warming will reshape these forests, which provide crucial habitat and food for key species, curb soil erosion and slow melting snow destined for local water supplies. What they don’t yet understand is which trees are best poised to survive under these changed conditions and how they can help them adapt in the decades to come.
If they don't know which trees are "best poised to survive", then they clearly don't know which trees are "least poised to survive" either (if you know one, you must know the other), and by extension what the effects of "climate change" will be on pine trees in general (but they know a lot about beetles, so that's alright).
Now, some regions of the Northern Rockies have experienced an 80 percent die-off of whitebark pines, and the Natural Resource Defense Council projects that between 80 and 100 percent of remaining trees in some areas will be killed by mountain pine beetles, whitepine blister rust or a combination of the two.
Not "global warming", not "climate change"?
“It’s not as if after these threats come through and climate change continues that these ecosystems will return to what they were,” Schoettle said, “but they will persist and will continue to function.”
So it's not "global warming" that's the real threat, it's pine beetles and bark rust(aided by people nailing plastic bags to thousands of trees maybe?). From that last comment, the imminent demise of North America's pine forests has been greatly exaggerated. When has the Washington Post ever printed any good news? (It's a rhetorical question btw, but if you know of any, the comment box is below.)

For a factual and detailed of the mountain pine beetle, check out this on the Colorado State University site (beware, the linked pdf is 10mb, and takes an age to download)

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Australia - The Murray mouth & the effect of the tides

This is a post to provide a convenient repository for charts & images I've linked to in this post on Jennifer Marohasy's blog concerning the Murray-Darling Basin, and the Murray mouth and the barrages in particular. First, a bird's-eye view of the subject under discussion (the full-size pic is BIG btw):

Murray mouth from the NW                                                              Source: Carbon Talks Blog
... and a map of the area of the lakes and the mouth showing the barrages:

The Barrages                                                  Source: Murray-Darling Basin Commission 2005
Another BIG hi-res pic showing the incoming tide and dredging in progress.

Murray mouth - dredging in progress, July 2010                                     Source: Water for Good
Bathymetric (depth) map of Lake Alexandrina
Bathymetry - Lake Alexandrina (May 2009)                      Source: Department of Environment

Bathymetric (depth) map of the mouth and upper Coorong.
Bathymetry - Murray mouth & Upper Coorong (2010)       Source: Department of Environment

Bathymetric (depth) map of the lower Coorong, South Lagoon.
Bathymetric map - Coorong South Lagoon (2010)           Source: Department of Environment

The tides at Goolwa Beach, off the map to the NW (actually from Victor Harbor) during April 2012, reproduced from WillyWeather and combined by me:

.. and sea level at Victor Harbor, 2000-2010 (note the zero trend):

Portland, VIC, though a fair distance (I'll check it out) away to the SE, is IMHO a good proxy for Victor Harbor, and therefore the Murray mouth. Peak tides at Victor Harbor are often higher than at Portland, though the monthly and annual profiles are almost exactly in step. Here's the max. and min. tides for Victor Harbor (read from WillyWeather) for February 2012, chosen because there's an overlap with the latest available hourly data from Portland:

Note the individual tidal range increases from 0.5m on the 1st and 2nd up to 0.9m on the 7th, when there's a stretch of double-tides, with the lesser second tide increasing as the first tide begins to decrease. Two green "trough" (low tide) markers close together indicates two tides over 24-25 hours. The extreme tidal range is 1m, from 0.2m above datum to 1.2m. MSL is 0.65 (calculated) above datum. The resolution here is 0.1m, so the accuracy is +/- 0.5m (5cm). The NTC (BoM) flags Victor Harbor as having a range of 1.25m over a year as shown below:
Tidal range around the Australian coast.                     Source: Bureau of Meteorology
... and a wind rose for Adelaide (nearest location on the selector map here.)

Wind rose for Adelaide, SA                                           Source: Bureau of Meteorology

This shows that for about one third of the time, the wind is from the NE or N, pushing the sea back from the Murray mouth, assuming there's little difference between Adelaide and the mouth.

I'll add a few more charts later to demonstrate the parallels between Portland and Victor Harbor (and therefore the mouth) later, but this hourly chart for Portland gives a good picture of the annual tidal profile (though with slightly lower extreme tidal range). Note the lighter areas indicating single tides, the darker areas double tides, and the annual tidal profile and range. Month numbers on the bottom (x) axis are out-of-step because calendar months have varying numbers of days, though after May they line up quite well.

... and finally, another very large hi-res aerial photo of the mouth, this time at low tide, complete with ubiquitous and never-tiring dredger. Note how far out the waves begin to break over the shallow-sloping sea bed.

Murray mouth at low tide, dredging in progress                                        Source: StudyAdelaide
Any suggestions for content and/or links below, please....

Sunday, 6 May 2012

A game of Consequences; A question of scale (4)

Consequences, schmonsequences, all is consequences. We've been told, indeed we've had it proved to us by climate models (pause for snigger) that it's the atmosphere which drives climate. While I'm prepared, like the White Queen in Alice in Wonderland, to "believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast", it's now well after breakfast, and that notion is an impossible thing to believe. The atmosphere is a major component of climate; the atmosphere transports heat and fresh water around the globe, dumping them where they're needed, and sometimes where they're not wanted, or at least in quantities that aren't wanted, or not wanted just now.

Blaming changes in the atmosphere for causing changes in the atmosphere is a circular argument, and leads nowhere but back to square one, and delusion, and vast expenditure on research that's leading nowhere, and vast costs to cure a non-existent problem, or at least a problem that can't be solved by mankind. I'm of the opinion that everything that happens in the atmosphere is climate. Clouds are climate, rain is climate, temperature is climate, high and low pressure systems and the consequent winds and storms are climate, and the greenhouse effect is climate.

Many climate scientists, and meteorologists, and glaciologists, and marine biologists, appear to me to be particularly myopic. Every day, or at least every week, we see the results of another "study" published; studies which usually set out to "prove" something or other, and which therefore have an agenda up front. It's all too often that agenda (usually driven by funding sources) which dictates the conclusions drawn. If the conclusions are a bit thin, because the data is a bit thin, or murky, or both, then often models are used, and the output from those models is hailed as "evidence". In all such cases, the results are published with many caveats; X  "could", "may" "might" cause Y. In some cases, even with caveats included, the scientists "spin" the results by applying a liberal dose of their own beliefs and prejudices, either in their published conclusions, or in press releases, or both. That's not science, it's advocacy, and it's dangerous advocacy.

I introduced this topic because it's central to how the role of the atmosphere is perceived; warmer air, and/or long-wave radiation from that warmer air is said to be warming the ocean. Poppycock say I - it's the ocean (and to a lesser extend the land) which gave the atmosphere that temperature in the first place. Heat is transported into the atmosphere by conduction and convection, by evaporation, and by long-wave infrared radiation, a small proportion of the latter being absorbed by greenhouse gases, the most important of which is water vapour, which the ocean (and to a lesser extend the land) put there in the first place, complete with the additional heat energy that water vapour molecules have compared to water molecules in liquid water and ice.

it's not necessary to be a climate scientist, or a physicist to understand these basic principles. it's only necessary to have a basic grasp of the relative sizes of all these factors to have a grasp on the fundamentals of climate. I said earlier that only a small proportion of the infrared radiation emitted by land and water is absorbed by greenhouse gases, the rest escapes to space, and the emitted radiation is just a part of the heat lost by the Earth's surface. Only about half of the radiation absorbed by greenhouse gases is re-emitted back down towards the surface, and not all of that is absorbed by the surface; some is reflected. The overall picture is of a great deal of heat being lost by the surface, much of that escaping to space, and a small proportion of the emitted heat finding its way back to the surface. That small proportion is what the hullabaloo is all about. That's why I introduced the topic of myopic scientists.

Given that the proportion getting back to the surface is relatively small, and that the effect of CO2 as a greenhouse gas is small in relation to its bigger brother (sister, sibling, mustn't appear sexist) water vapour, and given that human-generated  CO2 emissions are tiny compared with those emitted by plants, animals, and yet again the ocean, it's not surprising that many wonder what the fuss is all about. It is surprising that many climate and other scientists haven't yet grasped this question of scale at all. I read recently that some scientists were surprised to discover that it wasn't slightly warmer air which melted sea-ice, but slightly warmer water. Not surprising to me, as I and more enlightened and informed others know full well that air, even moist air, has a heat capacity hundreds of times less than the same volume of water; even less if it's sea-water. See A Question of Scale (2).

Marine biologists examine a tiny part of the Great Barrier Reef, see what they interpret as problems, extrapolate that to the entire reef and declare it doomed. I don't believe it. Glaciologists examine the snouts (lower ends) of a few glaciers, see that they're melting, measure the rate of retreat of the snouts, and ignoring those rates and whether the glaciers may be accumulating mass at a greater rate far above in the mountains, declare that they'll all have melted by Christmas. I exaggerate, of course (sauce for the goose, etc.), it was Christmas 2035.

There are only about 300 glaciers studied in detail out of a conservative estimate of 160,000 worldwide. It's that question of scale again. Scale also crops up in relation to individual glaciers. A paper breathlessly announces an "alarming rate of retreat of the Gangotri glacier" of 22.5 metres/year, and mentions the totally misleading "fact" of how many people in Asia "depend on its meltwater" (it's a perpetuated myth), They don't do the simple arithmetic and disclose that even if their "alarming rate" doubled or tripled, the 35 km glacier would still be there in a thousand years. They don't mention that temperature drops with height, so any retreat will slow down in time. They don't study the accumulation zone at the top of the glacier which dictates what the thickness of ice will be at the snout in 2000-or-so years time; it's too cold up there and it would take time to do, and would likely utterly destroy their blinkered conclusions in any case. They're seemingly unaware that the ice they're studying was formed 2000 years ago, and it's the mass and thickness of that ice which largely dictates what's happening at the snout today. Remember, air has little heat capacity, and it's more likely that less cloud/more sun is the a factor (rarely mentioned in the literature). Perhaps the cooking stoves of gaggles of glaciologists is causing what they've come to measure! See a Cool Look at Glaciers

By now you may have grasped why I'm a sceptic. I'm anti-alarmist, not anti-warmist. The warmists can believe what they like - in my opinion they're looking through binoculars. Do just that, lower them and see how much of the scene before you is captured in their field of view. They and the sub-class of scientists I've discussed here are myopic, and the only correction is scepticism and an understanding of scale, and a sense of proportion.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

"When Global Warming Ate My Life"

No, really, you must read this HuffPo piece in its entirety, but if you just can't bear to experience the "green machine", here're a few extracts. If you read a sentence, then look away, and repeat the process, you will most likely (>97%) get to the end of the page unaffected.
It was our sanctuary -- the safest, happiest place on earth. Later our children taught us to be green. We installed windmills and solar panels, recycled and composted, and became more mindful of our footprint. Still, we felt safe from the worst ravages of global warming in our bucolic corner of the "first" world here in New England. The real catastrophes were "out there" in sub-Saharan Africa, Bangladesh, the Andes or tiny Pacific islands. Then global warming crashed our party in paradise. 
Then a bolt of lightning crashed through the kitchen window, mowed me down like a freight train hurtling through my chest and triggered a blast so loud I thought the sound barrier had been breached somewhere between the crockery and the curtains. When I opened my eyes, I was lying on the floor. Then came smoke. Fifteen minutes later we were out in the storm, watching in disbelief as our beloved home vanished in a towering wall of flame.
I am not a climate change scientist, but I have come to understand that I am a climate change victim. Our daughter took the lead investigating destructive lightning in Maine. She found that the NASA Goddard Institute estimates a 5-6% change in global lightning frequencies for every 1 degree Celsius global warming. The Earth has already warmed .8 degrees Celsius since 1802 and is expected to warm another 1.1-6.4 degrees by the end of the century.
What's a "climate change scientist"? Oh nevermind, let's just get on with it -
Maine's temperatures rose 1.9 degrees Celsius in the last century and another 2.24 degree rise is projected by 2104. I learned from our insurance company that while the typical thunderstorm produces around 100 lightning strikes, there were 217 strikes around our house that night. I was shocked to discover that when it comes to increased lightning frequency and destructiveness, a NASA study concluded that eastern areas of North America like Maine are especially vulnerable. Scientists confirm a 10% increase in the incidence of extreme weather events in our region since 1949.
Is there just the teeniest, weeniest hint of a possibility that the storm wasn't a "typical thunderstorm"? "[T]here were 217 strikes around our house that night" - how does she (yes, it's a she) know? Did she count every one? Before the strike, and Including the period between the strike and opening her eyes? Was hubby counting? Were they both counting while their "beloved home vanished in a towering wall of flame"? Did the insurance company count 'em? Stick with me, not long to go, here's an NCDC temperature chart for Maine

Maine 1895-2011 Annual temperature
Clearly, that green (appropriate, huh?) trend line is horizontal because the scale is in Fahrenheit, not Celsius.
Was the lightning bolt in our kitchen caused by global warming? The facts are too compelling to ignore. It seems that global warming turned my family into refugees in our own lives, stripped of everything that once carried our memories and meaning. Since then I've learned some lessons that may help others reckon with the realities of climate change and the terrifying prospect that our future will be different from our past.
"The facts are too compelling to ignore" - what facts? "Since then I've learned some lessons..." - what lessons? She doesn't mention anything which might "help others reckon with the realities of climate change". Keeping it to herself, planning to make a fast buck out of other peoples fears, by the look of things.
I thought I could keep my children safe in this peaceful place. Now I know that no one of us can keep our children safe. There is no shelter from the storm of global warming. All we can do is learn how to pivot and impart that soulful skill to those we love. Breed it in their bones that they may become agents of adaptive change in these new times. We are all just earth travelers now: many addresses but only one home.
Aaaaah - sweet. "This peaceful place" where never-before-heard-of 217-strike storms incontrovertibly spawned by a 1.9 degrees Celsius in the last century warming, suddenly (did all the 1.9 degree warming occur in 2011?) burst out of nowhere (from the sky - Ed.) and destroy an idyllic farmstead. A farmstead with "windmills and solar panels" which are made of - plastic? Glass? Wood? Hershey bars? Obama campaign leaflets? No, metal, metal with wires attached. Wires leading into the idyllic farmstead through the walls and roof. Wires which conduct electricity. Lightning is electricity, big-time. They say lightning never strikes twice in the same place, but "they" didn't have a wooden farmhouse surrounded by tall metal windmills and with a roof covered in solar panels in mind. Even Ben Franklin knew enough not to surround his house with lightning conductors that were attached to it by wires.