Archive for September, 2009

Orders Countermanded, Comrades! Strong El Nino Is Good For You!

2009/09/30 1 comment

Thus spoke Bill Patzert, an oceanographer and climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California on Sep 28. 2009:

A macho El Niño like that of 1997-1998 is off the board, but I’m hoping for a relaxation in the tropical trade winds and a surprise strengthening of El Niño that could result in a shift in winter storm patterns over the United States. If the trade winds decrease, the ocean waters will continue to warm and spread eastward, strengthening the El Niño. That scenario could bring atmospheric patterns that will deliver much-needed rainfall to the southwestern United States this winter. If not, the dice seem to be loaded for below-normal snowpacks and another drier-than-normal winter…Don’t give up on this El Niño. He might make a late break and put his spin on this fall and winter’s weather systems

Wait a moment…so now a non-weak El Niño is good? Is this the first time anybody has said anything positive about El Niño?

No, it isn’t. Still, the ENSO has often been described as some kind of scourge. For example, here’s an article from The Independent on Jan 1, 2007:

A combination of global warming and the El Niño weather system is set to make 2007 the warmest year on record with far-reaching consequences for the planet, one of Britain’s leading climate experts has warned.

Professor Jones said the long-term trend of global warming – already blamed for bringing drought to the Horn of Africa and melting the Arctic ice shelf – is set to be exacerbated by the arrival of El Niño, the phenomenon caused by above-average sea temperatures in the Pacific.

The WMO said its latest readings showed that a “moderate” El Niño, with sea temperatures 1.5C above average, was taking place which, in the worst case scenario, could develop into an extreme weather pattern lasting up to 18 months, as in 1997-98. The UN agency noted that the weather pattern was already having “early and intense” effects, including drought in Australia and dramatically warm seas in the Indian Ocean, which could affect the monsoons. It warned the El Niño could also bring extreme rainfall to parts of east Africa which were last year hit by a cycle of drought and floods

And from a brochure published the UK’s Met Office in Nov 2006:

Dry spells are not unusual in the Amazon, but normally occur in El Niño years.

[…] the large number of Indonesian fires and associated increase in carbon emissions during the 1997-1998 El Niño event

And the IPCC (TAR)? Here it is:

El Niño is associated with dry conditions in northeast Brazil, northern Amazonia, the Peruvian-Bolivian Altiplano, and the Pacific coast of Central America. The most severe droughts in Mexico in recent decades have occurred during El Niño years, whereas southern Brazil and northwestern Peru have exhibited anomalously wet conditions

More recently, from the IPCC’s AR4, WG2, chapter 1:

After the accelerated shrinkage of the glacier during the 1990s, enhanced by the warm 1997/98 El Niño, Bolivia lost its only ski area

Are Warmist-Journalists Helping Spread The Skeptical Word In The UK?

2009/09/29 6 comments

Who could have guessed…journalists are third from bottom in the list of trusted public figures in the UK, a poll has just shown. A great progress indeed (they had the pride of last place until now), apart from the fact that this year they have been beaten by scandal-plagued parliamentarians and Government ministers on their way down.

Now, consider also the vast amounts of AGW belief among British journalism (eg BBC, Guardian, Independent, most tabloids if not all of them, apart from a tiny number of mostly politically-motivated people at The Daily Telegraph).

Is it any wonder then that AGW skepticism is on the increase in the UK?

Perhaps the impact of all the rivers of ink and bytes dedicated by non-skeptical AGW British media should not be underrated…

The Union of Soviet Climate Change Writers

2009/09/28 11 comments

The Union of Soviet Climate Change Writers
– a guest blog by Geoff Chambers

I have an unhealthy obsession with Guardian Environment and their Climate Change web site. As the unofficial voice of the worried middle classes, they have (of course) every right to express the consensus views of their readers on global warming – but twenty times a day?

In the year or so that I have been following their climate change coverage, the Guardian has foresaken all pretence of rational argument. Monbiot’s “Bullshit” campaign; the use of the terms “denier”, and “climate creationist”; and the savage censorship on the so-called “Comment is Free” blogs, all disgrace the reputation of this once respectable newspaper.

This weekend they have reached a new lowpoint with their invitation to “ten of our greatest writers” to treat the subject of Global Warming.

There’s a wonderful moment in “the Office” when a confused Brent is trying to dig himself out of the racist hole he’s dug for himself, and his colleague (the sane one) whispers “He’s going to mention ‘Melting Pot” – and sure enough he does.

UPDATE – Geoff might be referring to this clip

You can get a similar buzz by clicking on Jane Winterton’s prose poem which begins:

I am your inner polar bear

or by reading Andrew Motion’s:

Here are the baffled species taking to high ground,
the already famously lonely polar bear and caribou

The most ardent warmist, the Greenest believer commenting on a Guardian blog would know better than to utter these ineptitudes, simply because a few hours on a climate change blog would make you savvy enough to know that polar bears are passé; everything that needs to be said about polar bears has already been said a million times.

The only people who don’t know that are the country’s greatest writers, apparently.

Not only is there not a single murmur of doubt or dissent from the consensus view of imminent catastrophe; but the sickening regurgitation of the tiredest warmist clichés demonstrates that not one of “our greatest writers” has spent a single hour researching the subject of AGW.

They don’t need to – They Know, and their warning to the doubters is terrible. Here’s Helen Simpson:

Nobody will be able to plead ignorance, either. We can all see what’s happening, on a daily basis, on television

That’s right. Our greatest writers know what’s going on, because they saw it on the telly.

These are proper writers, with talent. But so were the Union of Soviet Writers who extolled Stalin’s five-year plans. No-one is threatening our best writers with the labour camp if they don’t conform. So why do they do it? Are they too stupid, or too lazy, or too cowardly, to confront received opinion?

What’s happening to the intellectual life of our country?

To Study The Sun, Go To The Moon

2009/09/25 6 comments

or “On The Surface Of The Moon, a Four-billion-year Record of Solar Activity Awaits Us”

[UPDATE : More evidence of the “imprint” of solar wind into lunar soil]

In her 2007 article “The Sun and the Earth’s Climate” published in “Living Reviews in solar physics” (Living Rev. Solar Phys. 4, (2007), cited on Sep 25, 2009), Professor Joanna D. Haigh writes in the Conclusions:

One important issue is to establish the magnitude of any secular trends in total solar irradiance (TSI). This may be achieved by careful analysis and understanding of the satellite instruments [and] continued [with] current and new satellites. For longer periods it requires a more fundamental understanding of how solar magnetic activity relates to TSI. This would not only facilitate more reliable centennial-scale reconstructions of TSI, from e.g. sunspot records, but also advance understanding of how cosmogenic isotope records may be interpreted as historical TSI.

Actually, there is another source of information for the history of solar activity, and it could open possibilities of discovery and understanding of an almost unheard-of scale.

I am talking about the surface of the Moon.

As per my notes about my (yes, peer-reviewed!) 2005 article “W.W.W. MOON? The why, what and when of a permanent manned lunar colony” (Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. 58(3-4):131-7):

The […] lunar soil’s regolith contains also an at-least-billion-year-long record of the solar activity [22] [23] [24] that would help a lot in the understanding of the behaviour and evolution of our star. Just as well, buried regolith deposits are expected to preserve traces of the very young Sun [25].

These are the references for the above

[22] H Y Mc Sween, Jr., Stardust to Planets‘, St. Martin’s Press, 1993, p136

[23] P D Spudis, ‘The Once and Future Moon‘, Smithsonian, 1996, p196

[24] P D Spudis, ‘The Once and Future Moon‘, Smithsonian, 1996, p106

[25] P D Spudis, ‘The Once and Future Moon‘, Smithsonian, 1996, p115

One doesn’t need to be a hardcore skeptic or AGW believer to understand the enormous worth of getting such information, awaiting us at a distance that can be covered in a mere 3 days.

Drought News From Australia (Guess The Date!)

2009/09/24 7 comments


Date: (try to guess!)

(Reuters) – A drought that has parched Australia’s rich eastern farmlands for the last few years is now forcing the nation’s cities to take drastic measures to save water.

Melbourne, the second largest city and the leading commercial center, has sharply restricted the use of water after an unusually dry winter that has left its reservoirs only half full.

Official cars will prowl the streets looking for people illegally watering their lawns or washing their cars. Anyone doing so risks a fine of $950.

The water board has warned the city’s 2.8 million residents that tighter limits will be imposed during the normally dry summer months unless the new measures succeed in cutting consumption.

With no seasonal rain due for almost six months, fears are growing that the drought could turn much of eastern Australia into the sort of dust bowl seen in the United States during the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

Dust Blankets Town

The first signs appeared recently when the remote mining town of Broken Hill in New South Wales reported its first dust storm in decades.

A cloud of red dust, swept by hot dry winds from the interior deserts, settled over the town, cutting visibility to less than 1,000 yards for several hours.

Sydney, Australia’s largest city, still has adequate water supplies, but a city official said the situation could change if a recent run of above-average temperatures continued and brush fires now smoldering around the suburbs burst out of control.

It is the rural areas, however, that are bearing the brunt of the drought, now in its fourth year in some areas. Prime Minister XXX has described it as the worst in living memory. YYY, president of the National Farmers Federation, said last weekend that the drought had become a disaster for the Australian economy as well as farmers. Government figures show that four out of five farms are affected by the drought.

The federation estimated the value of crops lost in the drought at $2.4 billion. Since economists say that every dollar of farm income generates two dollars in the rest of the economy through related industries, the total loss would be around $7 billion.

(this is the link if you want to know the original publication date…)

Coral Atolls and Sea Level Rise

2009/09/23 4 comments

Coral Atolls and Sea Level Rise
– a guest blog by Willis Eschenbach

Much has been written of late regarding the impending demise of the world’s coral atolls due to sea level rise. Recently, here in the Solomon Islands, the sea level rise has been blamed for salt water intrusion into the subsurface “lens” of fresh water under some atolls. Beneath the surface of most atolls, there is a lens shaped body of fresh water which floats on the seawater underneath. The claim is that the rising sea levels are contaminating the fresh-water lens with seawater.

These claims of blame ignore several facts. The first and most important fact, discovered by none other than Charles Darwin, is that coral atolls essentially “float” on the surface of the sea. When the sea rises, the atoll rises with it, and when the sea falls, they fall as well. Atolls exist in a delicate balance between new sand and coral rubble being added from the reef, and sand and rubble being eroded by wind and wave back into the sea.

When the sea falls, more sand tumbles from the high part, and more of the atoll is exposed to wind erosion. The atoll falls along with the sea level. When the sea level rises, wind erosion decreases. The coral grows up along with the sea level rise. The flow of sand and rubble onto the atoll continues, and the atoll rises. Since atolls go up and down with the sea level, the idea that they will be buried by sea level rises is totally unfounded. They have gone through sea level rises much larger and much faster than the current one.

Given that established scientific fact, why is there water incursion into the fresh water lenses? Several factors affect this. First and foremost, the fresh water lens is a limited supply. As island populations increase, more and more water is drawn from the lens. The inevitable end of this is the intrusion of sea water into the lens. This affects both wells and plants, which both draw from the same lens. It also leads to unfounded claims that sea level rise is to blame. It is not. Seawater is coming in because fresh water is going out.

The second reason for salt water intrusion into the lens is a reduction in the amount of sand and rubble coming onto the atoll from the reef. When the balance between sand added and sand lost is disturbed, the atoll shrinks. This has two main causes — coral mining and killing the wrong fish. The use of coral for construction in many atolls is quite common. At times this is done in a way that damages the reef as well as taking the coral. This is the visible part of the loss of reef, the part we can see.

What goes unremarked is the loss of the reef sand, which is essential for the continued existence of the atoll. The cause for the loss of sand is the indiscriminate, wholesale killing of parrotfish and other beaked reef-grazing fish. A single parrotfish, for example, creates about half a tonne of coral sand per year. Parrotfish and other beaked reef fish create the sand by grinding up the reef with their massive jaws, digesting the food, and excreting the ground coral.

In addition to making all that fine white sand that makes up the lovely island beaches, beaked grazing fish also increase overall coral health, growth, and production. This happens in the same way that pruning makes a tree send up lots of new shoots, and in the same way that lions keep a herd of zebras healthy and productive. The constant grazing by the beaked fish keeps the corals in full production mode.

Unfortunately, these fish sleep at night, and are easily wiped out by night divers. Their populations have plummeted in many areas in recent years. Result? Much less sand.

The third reason for salt water intrusion into the lens is the tidal cycle. We are currently in the high part of the 18 year tidal cycle. The maximum high tide in Honiara in 2008 was about 10 cm higher than the maximum tide in 1996, and the highs will now decrease until about 2014. People often mistake an unusually high tide for a rise in sea level, which it is not. There has been no increase in the recorded rate of sea level rise. In fact, the global sea level rise has flattened out in the last couple years.

What can be done to turn the situation around for the atolls? There are a number of essential practical steps that atoll residents can take to preserve and build up your atoll, and protect the fresh water lens:

1. Stop having so many kids. An atoll has a limited supply of water. It cannot support an unlimited population. Enough said.

2. Catch every drop that falls. On the ground, build small dams in any watercourses to encourage the water to soak in to the lens rather than run off to the ocean. Put water tanks under every roof. Dig “recharge wells”, which return filtered surface water to the lens in times of heavy rain. Catch the water off of the runways. In Majuro, they have put gutters on both sides of the airplane runway to catch all of the rainwater falling on the runway. It is collected and pumped into tanks. On other atolls, they let the rainwater just run off of the airstrip back into the ocean …

3. Conserve, conserve, conserve. Use seawater in place of fresh whenever possible. Use as little water as you can.

4. Make the killing of parrotfish and other beaked reef grazing fish tabu. Stop fishing them entirely. Make them protected species. The parrotfish should be the national bird of every atoll nation. I’m serious. If you call it the national bird, tourists will ask why a fish is the national bird, and you can explain to them how the parrotfish is the source of the beautiful beaches they are walking on, so they shouldn’t spear beaked reef fish or eat them. Stop killing the fish that make the very ground under your feet. The parrotfish and the other beaked reef-grazing fish are constantly building up your atoll. Every year they are providing tonnes and tonnes of fine white sand to keep your atoll afloat in turbulent times. You should be honoring and protecting them, not killing them. This is the single most important thing you can do.

5. Be very cautious regarding the use of coral as a building material. An atoll is not solid ground. It is is not a constant “thing” in the way a rock island is a thing. An atoll is an eddy, an ever-changing body constantly replenished by a (hopefully) unending river of coral sand and rubble. It is a process, wherein on one side healthy reef plus beaked coral-grazing fish plus storms provide a continuous stream of coral sand and rubble. This sand and rubble are constantly being added to the atoll, making it larger. At the same time, coral sand and rubble are constantly being eaten away, and blown away, and eroded away from the atoll. The shape of the atoll changes from season to season and from year to year. It builds up on this corner, and the sea washes away that corner.

And of course, if anything upsets that balance of sand added and sand lost, if the supply of coral sand and rubble per year starts dropping (say from reef damage or coral mining or killing parrotfish) or if the total sand and rubble loss goes up (say by heavy rains or strong winds or a change in currents) the atoll will be affected.

So if coral is necessary for building, take it sparingly, in spots. Take dead or dying coral in preference to live coral. Mine the deeps and not the shallows. Use hand tools. Leave enough healthy reef around to reseed the area with new coral. A healthy reef is the factory that annually produces the tonnes and tonnes of building material. You mess with it at your peril.

6. Reduce sand loss from the atoll in as many ways as possible. This can be done with plants to stop wind erosion. Don’t introduce plants for the purpose. Encourage and transplant the plants that already grow locally. Reducing water erosion also occurs with the small dams mentioned above, which will trap sand eroded by rainfall. Don’t overlook human erosion. Every step a person takes on an atoll pushes sand downhill, closer to returning to the sea. Lay leaf mats where this is evident, wherever the path is wearing away. People wear a path, and soon it is lower than the surrounding ground. When it rains, it becomes a small watercourse. Invisibly, the water washes your precious sand into the ocean. Invisibly, the wind blows the ground out from under your feet. Protect your island. Stop it from being washed and blown away.

7. Monitor and build up the health of the reef. You and you alone are responsible for the well-being of the amazing underwater fish-tended coral factory that year after year keeps your atoll from disappearing. Coral reseeding programs done by schools have been very successful. Get the kids involved in watching the reef. Educate the people that they are the guardians of the reef. Talk to the fishermen.

8. Expand the atoll. Modern coastal engineering has shown that it is quite possible to “grow” an atoll. The key is to slow down the water as it passes by. The slower the water, the more sand builds up. Slowing the water is accomplished by building low underwater walls perpendicular to the beach. These run out until the ends are a few metres underwater. Normally this is done with a geotextile fabric tubes which are pumped full of concrete. In the atolls the similar effect can be obtained with “gabbions”, wire cages filled with blocks of dead coral. Wire all of the wire cages securely together in a triangular shape, stake them down with rebar, wait for the sand to fill in. It might be possible to do it with old tires, fastened together, with chunks of coral piled on top of them. It will likely take a few years to fill in. Here’s a before and after picture of the system in use on a beach (not an atoll), taken three years apart. Note the low height and triangular shape of the wall extending out from the beach and continuing underwater (made of 3 concrete-filled geotextile fabric tubes). This triangular shape does not attempt to stop the water currents. It just slows them down and directs them toward the beach to deposit their load of sand. Eventually, the entire area fills in with sand.

Of course to do that, you absolutely have to have a constant source of sand … like for example a healthy reef … with lots of parrotfish. That’s why I said above that the single most important thing is to protect the fish and the reef. If you have beaked fish and a healthy reef, you’ll have plenty of sand and rubble forever. If you don’t, you’re in trouble.

Coral atolls have proven over thousands of years that, if left alone, they can go up and down with any sea level rise. And if we follow some simple conservation practices, they can continue to do so and to support atoll residents. But they cannot survive an unlimited population increase, or unrestricted fishing, or overpumping the water lens, or unrestrained coral mining.


On sea level rise in Honiara: Pacific Country Report Sea Level & Climate: Their Present State Solomon Islands June 2006

On global sea level rise levelling off: University of Colorado at Boulder’s Sea Level Change

On Darwin’s discovery: Darwin, C., The Autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809-1882, 1887

No other work of mine was begun in so deductive a spirit as this; for the whole theory was thought out on the west coast of S. America before I had seen a true coral reef. I had therefore only to verify and extend my views by a careful examination of living reefs. But it should be observed that I had during the two previous years been incessantly attending to the effects on the shores of S. America of the intermittent elevation of the land, together with the denudation and deposition of sediment. This necessarily led me to reflect much on the effects of subsidence, and it was easy to replace in imagination the continued deposition of sediment by the upward growth of coral. To do this was to form my theory of the formation of barrier-reefs and atolls. (Darwin, 1887, p. 98, 99)

On the results of coral mining and changing the reef: Xue, C. (1996) Coastal Erosion And Management Of Amatuku Island, Funafuti Atoll, Tuvalu, 1996, South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC)

On the same topic: Xue, C., Malologa, F. (1995) Coastal sedimentation and coastal management of Fongafale, Funafuti, Tuvalu, SOPAC Technical Report 221

On parrotfish creating sand: this link

On the cause of erosion in Tuvalu: Tuvalu Not Experiencing Increased Sea Level Rise, Willis Eschenbach, Energy & Environment, Volume 15, Number 3, 1 July 2004 , pp. 527-543

On expanding island beaches: Holmberg Technologies

On the dangers of overpopulation: Just look around you …

Climate Is Weather When It Is Not Climate, Weather Is Climate When It Is Not Weather. Or Not?

2009/09/23 3 comments

or…”Climate Belief In Disarray”

Front-page article today by Andrew C Revkin on the International Herald Tribune about the problem of “selling” any urgency for warming-stopping CO2 emission cuts to the public in a non-warming planet (now that that concept has been accepted even by the hardest climate integralist).

Parts of what is reported by Revkin is interesting as it appears there is no shortage of scientists providing all sorts of opinions on why the world has not been warming as expected. Trouble is, if the recent 10-year-long set of observations showing “non-warming” cannot be used to falsify AGW, then no 10-year-long set of any observation showing anything can be used to demonstrate AGW either.

Therefore there is no meaning in the just-released climate forecasts by the Met Office talking about “the odds of a 15-year pause” after analysing “how often decades with a neutral trend in global mean temperature occurred in computer modelled climate change simulations” (my emphasis).

In fact, some are fond to say that climate is a 30-year-long average of weather. Well, if that is true, all we should be scientifically able to talk about with any amount of knowledge, is the climate trends for… 1979.

Everything else is (interesting, but just) speculation.

ps Dr Mojib Latif says he “gives about 200 talks to the public, business leaders and officials each year“. There are 365 days, in most years. At what times during the year is then “climate science” studied at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Kiel, Germany? And shall we worry about the absence of private life for AGW scientist-advocates?

pps Shame to Revkin for publishing this absurdist remark by Joe Romm: “We need all the unmuffled warnings we can get“. Why? Because Romm is a known “muffler” himself.


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