The different responses to hurricane Katrina and Harvey.

The hurricane Katrina was our costliest hurricane this far. Not the deadliest, that was the 1900 Galveston hurricane that killed 6 to 12,000 people. At that time it had passed through the Florida Strait as a tropical storm, so the Galveston people didn’t take it seriously, after all they had an 8 foot seawall. It entered as a category 4 hurricane, the storm surge was 15 feet, topped the seawall and wiped out the city like a tsunami.

I have always been fascinated by hurricanes, the enormous energy they disperse and how beautiful they appear from space. So  it was on Aug 27, 2005 that I watched the press conference with the Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco reassuring the people “I believe we are prepared,” she said in Jefferson Parish. “That’s the one thing that I’ve always been able to brag about.”

Though experts had warned it would take 48 hours to evacuate New Orleans, Blanco did not order a mandatory evacuation that Saturday.

“We’re going to pray that the impact will soften,” she said.

 

Later the same day in city Hall she is still trying to decide when or if to reverse flow on the highways, she has still no clue on how severe the situation is and refuses to hear the warnings from NHC that warned more or less that an unprecedented catastrophe is coming. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin agreed that he would take care of his people.

The next day the hurricane had grown to category 5 and everybody that could started to evacuate with or without an evacuation order, but it wasn’t until 20 hours before landfall that she ordered mandatory evacuation and reversed direction on all the exit highways. Everybody that could evacuate had already started, so the coaches were picked up by the hotels to evacuate the tourists. The traffic  jams were enormous since everybody tried to get out at the same time. They more or less knew the levies would be topped, but even then Mayor Nagin refused to use the school buses to evacuate. He claimed “My people will not be bused in  school buses, they deserve coaches.

The U.S. government begged repeatedly that the governor would call in  the national guard, but she refused. The Federal government considered calling in the U.S. military, but decided against it, since it is against the law unless the governor authorizes it.

It had landfall as a category 3 hurricane east of New Orleans so the major storm surge, 26 feet high, hit Mississippi and wiped out casinos and other structures at the coast, and hurricane winds affected an area the size of England. New Orleans was on the west side of the path, so New Orleans was spared an over topping of the levees. That is, until the next morning one levee gave way due to incorrect secured footing and New Orleans got flooded.

FEMA was still busy cleaning up from earlier hurricanes, so new people needed to be hired or transferred to other department, but to work for FEMA you needed at least 3 days extra of sensitivity training, so  FEMA paperwork got delayed another week.

There was plenty of blame to go around, but President Bush is still getting blamed for it.

Image result for hurricane Katrina

Not so with Hurricane Harvey. It also grew very rapidly from a tropical disturbance to a major hurricane and was still growing at landfall as a category 4 hurricane. It looked like it was going to get inland fast and follow the normal path and rain out while moving rapidly, but instead it got blocked by two high pressures and decided to stall after rainfall, move back into the gulf, picking up more rain and then rain out over Houston and surrounding areas. The wind damage and storm surge was normal for a category 4 hurricane, but the staying in place for a long time made it the rainiest hurricane ever hitting the U.S. mainland, with some areas around Houston getting over 50 inches of rain.

Yet the hurricane response has been nothing short of excellent. The Governor of Texas acted early in cooperation with the Federal Government to pre-stage national guard and supplies in conjunction with local government. But the thing that made the biggest difference has been the volunteer response from thousands of people with high clearance trucks and boats evacuating thousands of people. About he only thing going wrong was the mayor of Houston discouraging early evacuation when he knew the rains were going to be horrendous.

It is going to be the costliest hurricane in U.S. history, but without the volunteer response and excellent cooperation between all levels of government it could have been so much worse.

The American spirit is alive and well in Texas, as is the Trump leadership

Houston’s vulnerability to flooding is getting worse.

The pictures from Houston are horrific, with water, water everywhere and roads flooded in so many places that the only way to evacuate people is with boat.  But is it unprecedented? Here are photos of the flood of Dec 1935.

Houston is built on what was once swampland and river delta-land leading into Galveston bay.  Houston is now a concrete and asphalt jungle as seen in these photos

There have been many flood disasters in the Houston area, even dating to the mid-1800s when the population was very low. In December of 1935 a massive flood occurred in the downtown area as the water level height measured at Buffalo Bayou in Houston topped out at 54.4 feet.

By way of comparison, as of 6:30 a.m. this (Monday) morning, the water level in the same location is at 38 feet, which is still 16 feet lower than in 1935. But Buffalo Bayou is still rising.

Buffalo Bayou at low level.

Here is a map of Houston in 1940 and 2017. Green area is undisturbed land, red area is over 50% filled with buildings, asphalt or concrete. In these areas no water is absorbed into the ground.

The drying up of what was originally wetland leads

to a rapid sinking of the Houston area. See map of Harris County of which Houston is a part.

 

 

 

Most of Houston has dropped about 5 feet  since 1920, but near the bayou levels has dropped about 10 feet. It is not ocean rising, it is land sinking, since undisturbed land is not sinking.

Vulnerability to flooding will only get worse from now on.

The Norwegian Lady at Virginia Beach, a Limerick..

There once was a lady from Moss

whose faith had been shaped by the cross.

With God’s love she did cope,

as the anchor, her hope

Her faith, hope and love came across.

There stands in Virginia Beach a statue, donated by the citizens of Moss, Norway; a statue memorializing the dangers of the sea. Many ships have been shipwrecked on the American East Coast during the ages, and the seas have always been treacherous. Before telegraph and radio the women waited for their husbands safe return from their journeys, whether it had been a long journey to America, or just a fishing tour on the North Sea. I can still remember from my childhood’s Sweden how my great aunt Hanna sat, looking out the window with a perfect view of Skagerrak, watching the ships go in and out of Gullmarsfjorden. She was always the first spotter and sent a message to the town: “En, to, tre, hurra, no kommer Majblomma fra Gullholmen.” (One, two, three, Hooray, now is “Mayflower” coming in around the nearest island.) Their lives were full of waiting and longing, and with that, a deep faith. “Everybody” went to church, fearing God, the faith was dark but deep, well anchored in God’s word.

Which brings us to the importance of being well anchored. On the U.S. east coast  nor-easterns and hurricanes come up the coast, and during these, sailing ships have to cut sail and throw anchor to stabilize the ship. If there are no solid rocks, only sand, the anchor does not hold and the ship drifts helplessly closer and closer to land, and runs ashore where the storm finally breaks it up.

Watching the statue this old hymn came into my head and reminded me of the importance of being securely anchored.

In times like these you need a Savior,
In times like these you need an anchor;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

This Rock is Jesus, Yes He’s the One,
This Rock is Jesus, the only One;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock
!

 

 

Thanks to clouds, the temperature governor is alive and well on planet earth.

In real estate appraisals the three most important factors to determine the value of a property are: Location, location, location.

Likewise, in climate modeling the three most important factors to estimate the future climate on earth are: Clouds, clouds, clouds.

CO2 is a strong greenhouse gas, second only to water vapor in affecting the climate on earth. If CO2 were to double from pre-industrial times, which it will have done in 50 years or so, global temperatures on earth will increase about 0.9 degree Celsius from pre-industrial times, if that was the only factor affecting the greenhouse effect. This corresponds to a radiative forcing of  4.9 W/m2. But water vapor is a stronger greenhouse gas than CO2, and, this is important, they are not orthogonal as defined by chemometrics, that means, the responses from water vapor and CO2 are not independent, and they are only partly additive. Check this figure: The bottom line is the absorption of water vapor, the green line is for CO2. The area of interest is between 8 and 20 microns, where CO2 absorbs more than H20 and is at the maximum of outgoing black body emission at 0F. The CO2 concentration is on the order of 400 ppm, the average global H2O concentration at surface level is around 12,500 ppm. Since both H2O and CO2 absorb in the same area, if water vapor concentration is more than 30 times higher, the CO2 con- centration doesn’t matter, it is all absorbed by H2O, and this is the reason there is no hotspot in the equatorial troposphere. All climate models predict there must be one, so there must be something seriously wrong with all climate models. Let us take a look at what factors IPCC consider in the consensus of climate models. See the following table:

This table is listing all the possible contributions to radiative forcings that IPCC chose to list. It does include the effect of aerosols on clouds, but it assumes that this is the sum total of the effect of clouds. Let us take a look at a picture of  earth from space:The first impression of earth from space is: How beautiful! Green land, brown mountains, blue oceans and absolutely white clouds! The clouds seem to reflect all incoming sunlight, and indeed, clouds can have an albedo of about 0.9, versus ocean with an albedo of about 0,07. Taking a look at the energy flows, we can see that the clouds reflect about 79 W/m-2 back into space, or about 23% of the incoming sunlight.

But that is only half the story. Clouds are even more important than that for the energy balance of the earth. If you have a house with no air conditioning, and it is hot in the summer, you close the windows and close the shades during the day to keep the hot air and the sunshine out. Then during the night you open the windows and shades to let the cooler air in. In the winter you do the opposite, during the day you may or may not open the windows dependent on the temperature, but you always let in as much sunshine as possible. Then at night you draw the shades to retain as much warmth as possible. By manipulating the windows and shades you provided the negative feedback to keep the house somewhat temperature controlled. In fact, you acted as a governor, providing the negative feedback necessary to keep the house temperature controlled.

It is the same with clouds, they cool by day and warm by night, and they come and go, so it does matter a great deal when they do appear. At the risk of oversimplification let me take a stab at 3 cloud types, clouds, clouds, clouds.

Cumulus clouds, also called “Beautiful weather clouds.”  The best example comes from Willis Eschenbach from his observations on a tropical island. The morning starts clear, and as the sun heats the moist air cumulus clouds appear around 9 a.m., and the temperature goes down!

Cumulus clouds have an albedo of about 0.9, so 90% of the incoming radiation of  341 W/m2, or up to 300 W/m2 less solar heat reaches ground at mid day.

The sun continues its path, and by mid afternoon Cumulonimbus clouds may appear. They are also called thunderstorms. In addition to have a very high albedo, they transfer a lot of heat to the upper atmosphere, rain out, keeping the ecosystem going, and cool the lower atmosphere.

The third very important type of clouds are frontal clouds. They carry energy in the form of water vapor from one area to another, in the northern temperate region typically from Southwest to Northeast, but they can also follow the jet stream, which exhibits a wave pattern.

The long and short of this oversimplification is that even a one percent change in the global average of cloud cover means more to the energy balance than all the factors listed by IPCC. In addition, cloud averages are misleading, day clouds cool, night clouds warm. So how are the climate models doing? Check this figure:

Not very encouraging. They all miss the mark. The only way to explain this discrepancy is that they all put too much emphasis on CO2 and way too little on clouds. But it helps to explain why they all miss the mark. See fig.

The clouds are the main temperature regulator in the ecosystem, providing a strong negative feedback once the temperature is favorable for cloud formation. Unless the oceans run dry we will never have to worry about a thermal runaway.

However, it can get cold, and we will get another ice age, which is the normal steady state for the earth. This will start by increasing cloud cover for whatever reason. Let me name a few:

Volcanoes: Volcanic eruptions like Pinatubo can decrease global temperatures by a degree or so for a few years. A super volcano like Yosemite erupting will trigger the next ice age.

Solar cycles: Solar cycle 24 is the most quiet in a century. A new solar minimum is to occur in the next few years and solar cycle 25 promises to be even quieter. When this happened last time it caused the little ice age, the winters were brutal indeed, and cloud covers increased, cooling the earth by at least half a degree.

The earth’s magnetic field is starting to act erratically. The magnetic north pole is speeding up and is now way up in the Arctic, near the North pole. The chart on the right shows the observed north dip poles during 1831 – 2007 as yellow squares. Modeled pole locations from 1590 to 2020 are circles progressing from blue to yellow. In addition the magnetic field is getting substantially weaker, maybe a breakup is possible having two North Poles and two South Poles. If this occurs, the protection from the cosmic radiation from the Sun will be weakened, causing more clouds and maybe trigger the next ice age.

Then there is the double star KIC 9832227. They are only 1,800 light-years away,  an eclipsing binary pair, which means as they revolve around one another, each one briefly blots out the other from the perspective of a viewer on Earth. In 2021 or 2022 we will see them merge into one causing a red supernova. When this happens, because they are so close, we may even observe gravity waves. But from a climate standpoint there will be a burst of cosmic radiation, first the gamma rays coming at the speed of light, then with a slight delay the other cosmic radiation, coming at a time of the solar minimum and an unusually weak earth magnetic field.

This is new territory, and the best we can do is to increase CO2. It will not help much, but CO2 will help rather than hurt.

In any case, we are going to a cooler earth, and it is only a matter of time until we enter another ice age. The good news is, there is still time to develop and switch to Thorium based nuclear power generation when coal and oil are exhausted, and there is unlimited quantities of limestone to degass and make cement to keep the CO2 level up.

The good news is that thanks to increasing CO2 vegetation is increasing, reducing erosion, feeding another 2 billion people without starving, and also the fauna. The benefits flow from industrialized nations to developing nations that cannot afford fertilizers but benefit from the increased CO2. In addition, photo synthesis occur more efficiently, using less water with increasing CO2.

A Climate Realist’s (not so) short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change. Question 16 (of 16) Is it really all about carbon?

NOV. 28, 2015 gave his answers to 16 questions in the N.Y. Times regarding Climate Change. This Climate realist added his answer.

 Answers to Question 1: How much is the planet heating up?

Answers to Question 2. How much trouble are we in?

Answers to Question 3. Is there anything I can do?

Answers to Question 4. What’s the optimistic scenario?

Answers to Question 5. Will reducing meat in my diet help the climate?

Answers to Question 6. What’s the worst-case scenario?

Answers to Question 7. Will a tech breakthrough help us?

Answers to Question 8. How much will the seas rise?

Answers to Question 9. Are the predictions reliable?

Answers to Question 10. Why do people question climate change?

Answers to Question 11. Is crazy weather tied to climate change?

Answers to Question 12. Will anyone benefit from global warming?

Answers to Question 13. Is there any reason for hope?

Answers to Question 14. How does agriculture affect climate change?

Answers to Question 15. Will the seas rise evenly across the planet?

Justin Gillis answer to Question 16. Is it really all about carbon?

“Here’s a quick explainer.

The greenhouse gases being released by human activity are often called “carbon emissions,” just for shorthand. That is because the two most important of the gases, carbon dioxide and methane, contain carbon. Many other gases also trap heat near the Earth’s surface, and many human activities cause the release of such gases to the atmosphere. Not all of these actually contain carbon, but they have all come to be referred to by the same shorthand.

By far the biggest factor causing global warming is the burning of fossil fuels for electricity and transportation. That process takes carbon that has been underground for millions of years and moves it into the atmosphere, as carbon dioxide, where it will influence the climate for many centuries into the future. Methane is even more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, but it breaks down more quickly in the air. Methane comes from swamps, from the decay of food in landfills, from cattle and dairy farming, and from leaks from natural gas wells and pipelines.

While fossil-fuel emissions are the major issue, another major creator of emissions is the destruction of forests, particularly in the tropics. Billions of tons of carbon are stored in trees, and when forests are cleared, much of the vegetation is burned, sending that carbon into the air as carbon dioxide.

When you hear about carbon taxes, carbon trading and so on, these are just shorthand descriptions of methods designed to limit greenhouse emissions or to make them more expensive so that people will be encouraged to conserve fuel.”

My answer to Question 16. Is it really all about carbon?

Climate change has very little to do with carbon. The term “carbon pollution” is a misnomer set up to simplify the argument to put the blame for climate change on increased CO2.

Coming out of the ice age both temperature and CO2 rose, but, and this is important, temperature rose first, and then, with a 300 to 800 year lag CO2 rose. When temperatures had risen to a couple of degrees higher than today, temperature stopped rising, CO2 caught up and has been stable until about 1700 A.D, when coal mining started in earnest. During this time of CO2 stability we have had the Minoan warm period, a cooldown, the Roman warm period, sharp cooldown during the dark ages, the Medieval warm period, the little ice age, and finally today’s warming period, called “Climate change.” Each warming period was a little cooler than the previous, and each cooling period a little colder than the previous. We are now well into the bog building phase of the interglacial period, during which time the CO2 levels used to decrease until the Milankovitch cycles ended the interglacial period. The unprecedented increase in CO2 levels experienced since the start of the industrial era might get us back to  the Medieval warming period, but the long term trend is lower temperatures, and the nest cooling period might trigger the next ice age.

What is putting a limit on temperature rise? One have to remember that the major greenhouse gas, bar none, is water vapor. In the tropics water vapor is more than ten times as abundant as when temperatures reach the freezing point. In the tropics water can be measured in percent, at the poles in parts per million. This has tremendous ramifications. Water vapor is lighter than air, and humid air tend to rise, get cooled down as temperature falls with altitude, and when saturation occurs clouds will form if there are condensation points, such as pollen, soot or cosmic radiation. The amount of CO2 does not matter in the tropics, if clouds or, better yet, thunderstorms occur there is a negative feedback keeping the temperatures stable, near the temperature of the oceans. Not so in the deserts and at the poles. Where water vapor is lacking CO2 plays a role. In the deserts the long term temperatures will increase at the full 0.9 degree C for every doubling pf CO2, at the poles far more, not so much because of increased CO2, but increased water vapor will cause it to snow more, releasing additional heat, causing more snow. And we can see that snowfall over the northern hemisphere is increasing, but the spring melt is also earlier.

In short, climate change so far has been all to the good.

 

 

 

A Climate Realist’s (not so) short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change. Question 15 (of 16) Will the seas rise evenly across the planet?

NOV. 28, 2015 gave his answers to 16 questions in the N.Y. Times regarding Climate Change. This Climate realist added his answer.

 Answers to Question 1: How much is the planet heating up?

Answers to Question 2. How much trouble are we in?

Answers to Question 3. Is there anything I can do?

Answers to Question 4. What’s the optimistic scenario?

Answers to Question 5. Will reducing meat in my diet help the climate?

Answers to Question 6. What’s the worst-case scenario?

Answers to Question 7. Will a tech breakthrough help us?

Answers to Question 8. How much will the seas rise?

Answers to Question 9. Are the predictions reliable?

Answers to Question 10. Why do people question climate change?

Answers to Question 11. Is crazy weather tied to climate change?

Answers to Question 12. Will anyone benefit from global warming?

Answers to Question 13. Is there any reason for hope?

Answers to Question 14. How does agriculture affect climate change?

Justin Gillis answer to Question 15. Will the seas rise evenly across the planet?

Think lumpy.

Many people imagine the ocean to be like a bathtub, where the water level is consistent all the way around. In fact, the sea is rather lumpy – strong winds and other factors can cause water to pile up in some spots, and to be lower in others.

Also, the huge ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica exert a gravitational pull on the sea, drawing water toward them. As they melt, sea levels in their vicinity will fall as the water gets redistributed to distant areas.

How the rising ocean affects particular parts of the world will therefore depend on which ice sheet melts fastest, how winds and currents shift, and other related factors. On top of all that, some coastal areas are sinking as the sea rises, so they get a double whammy.

My answer to Question 15. Will the seas rise evenly across the planet?

We are still recovering from the last ice age. The planet is becoming less ovoid, more like a sphere. In the Bothnian Bay land is rising out of the ocean at a rate of about 3 feet per century. It is by no means over yet. The displaced water gets redistributed over the rest of the earth. In addition the Mid-Atlantic ridge is expanding and rising with numerous undersea volcanoes, maybe up to one third of all undersea volcanoes are located between Jan Mayen and Svalbard. Teutonic plate movements explain the rest. The Eastern Seaboard is slowly sinking into the sea, more than the rest of the world. Te expansion of the ocean is not accelerating.The take home from this picture is that there are cyclical factors quite apart from rising CO2, but sea level rise is not accelerating.

Answers to Question 16. Is it really all about carbon?

A Climate Realist’s (not so) short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change. Question 14 (of 16) How does agriculture affect climate change?

NOV. 28, 2015 gave his answers to 16 questions in the N.Y. Times regarding Climate Change. This Climate realist added his answer.

 Answers to Question 1: How much is the planet heating up?

Answers to Question 2. How much trouble are we in?

Answers to Question 3. Is there anything I can do?

Answers to Question 4. What’s the optimistic scenario?

Answers to Question 5. Will reducing meat in my diet help the climate?

Answers to Question 6. What’s the worst-case scenario?

Answers to Question 7. Will a tech breakthrough help us?

Answers to Question 8. How much will the seas rise?

Answers to Question 9. Are the predictions reliable?

Answers to Question 10. Why do people question climate change?

Answers to Question 11. Is crazy weather tied to climate change?

Answers to Question 12. Will anyone benefit from global warming?

Answers to Question 13. Is there any reason for hope?

 

Justin Gillis answer to Question 14. How does agriculture affect climate change?

It’s a big contributor, but there are signs of progress.

The environmental pressures from global agriculture are indeed enormous.

The demand for food is rising, in large part because of population growth and rising incomes that give millions of once-low income people the means to eat richer diets. Global demand for beef and for animal feed, for instance, has led farmers to cut down huge chunks of the Amazon rain forest.

Efforts are being made to tackle the problems. The biggest success has arguably been in Brazil, which adopted tough oversight and managed to cut deforestation in the Amazon by 80 percent in a decade. But the gains there are fragile, and severe problems continue in other parts of the world, such as aggressive forest clearing in Indonesia.

Scores of companies and organizations, including major manufacturers of consumer products, signed a declaration in New York in 2014 pledging to cut deforestation in half by 2020, and to cut it out completely by 2030. The companies that signed the pact are now struggling to figure out how to deliver on that promise.

Many forest experts at the Paris climate talks in late 2015 considered the pledge as ambitious, but possible. And they said it was crucial that consumers keep up the pressure on companies from whom they buy products, from soap to ice cream.

My answer to Question 14. How does agriculture affect climate change?

Whenever a forest is cut down and the earth gets tilled the local microclimate changes, and not for the better. The earth warms about 0.8 degrees C, the evapotranspiration is drastically reduced, the ground dries up having lost its protective shade. That is why it is an insane idea to cut down the rainforests of Borneo to produce biofuel.

Thanks to increasing CO2 levels agriculture is in much better shape than before.

CO2, the life-giving gas, not “Carbon Pollution”. A Limerick – and explanation.

What then is this “Carbon Pollution”?

A sinister, evil collusion?

CO2, it is clean,

Makes for growth, makes it green,

A transfer of wealth, a solution.

CO2 concentration has increased from about 280 ppm in pre-industrial times to 405 ppm today, and is increasing at a rate of 2 ppm per year. We are way past the point of no return, 350 ppm which would lead to a temperature catastrophe. (1) But instead, something rather interesting is occurring. The earth is getting greener! (2) This 40 % increase in CO2 the last 250 years has led to a more than 30 % increase in agricultural production all by itself without adding fertilizer or using higher yielding seeds. (3) Thanks to this we can now feed an additional two billion people on earth without starvation. The news are so good, that the per capita food production is increasing, even as the population is increasing. (4)

Look at it this way. The value of basic agricultural products is more than 1.5 trillion dollars worldwide. 30% of that is due to increased CO2. That means that the CO2 emitted is worth 450 billion dollars, spread out over all farmers and ranchers worldwide. This wealth transfer is occurring right now, and knows no national boundary. It is a gift from the developed countries to the rest of the world. Who could be against that?

It turns out that this wealth transfer occurs without global governance. The leaders of the world will not have their say in who gets the wealth transfer, the U.N. bureaucrats will not get their cut, and politicians cannot get a campaign issue since it  occurs without their involvement.

So to recapture the initiative they renamed this life-giving gas “Carbon pollution” and managed somehow to get the Supreme Court to agree with the notion that CO2 is a pollutant.

How can that be? They argued that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which is true. It is second only to water vapor. It is responsible for about 9 degree Celsius rise in global temperature, and if CO2 increases, so does the greenhouse effect and the temperature increases. This in turn leads to more water vapor in the air, and water vapor is the strongest greenhouse gas, so there is a risk of reaching a “tipping point” when we could experience a thermal runaway of the planet. All of this is true, so U.N. and many governments around the world have sponsored studies to model  climate change, over a hundred models have been constructed, and they all come up with rather gloomy forecasts. The research is so intense that over 3 billion dollars of government monies are spent yearly on climate change research.

All models show a similar pattern, a fairly steep and more or less linear rise in temperature as CO2 increases. There is only one major thing wrong with them. They do not agree with what is happening to the global temperature. We have now had 224 months (Sep 2015) without any global warming, in fact, the trend is down. (5)

What is wrong with the models? They all assume a passive earth, where there is no negative feedback to the changing environment. It turns out, the earth has a “governor”, and it can be expressed in one word, albedo, which means “whiteness” or how much of the incoming sunlight that gets reflected back into space.

The major albedo changers are the amount of ice around the poles and clouds, but even land use changes such as forests cut down and replaced by agriculture and urbanization.

When there is snow or ice on the ground, more sunlight gets reflected and it gets colder still. Urban heat islands are warmer than the surroundings, airports are warmer than its surroundings. Interestingly, that is where we are placing our new weather stations. (This is great for pilots that have to evaluate take-off and landing conditions, but is less than ideal for climate research. But then again, climate research has moved from the realm of physical science to political science, where different rules do apply.)

The most important albedo changers of the earth are clouds. Without them no land based life would be possible since clouds serve both as rainmakers and temperature stabilizers. If there were no clouds the equilibrium temperature at the equator would be around 140 degrees F.

Over the oceans, in the so called “doldrums” where there are no trade winds, the mornings start with a warm-up, and when the conditions are right a shower or thunderstorm occurs. The ambient temperature is usually between 84 and 88 degrees when this happens. As CO2 concentrations increase thunderstorms occur a few minutes earlier and last a little bit longer, but they are no more severe and as a result the average temperature stays the same. (5)

In desert areas of the world this temperature regulator doesn’t work well, so deserts will receive the full force of temperature increase which is 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit per doubling of CO2 levels.

In the temperate region the temperature increase will be somewhere in between. Dry days will be warmer, cloudy and rainy days will have the same temperature as before, since the regulator starts to function.

The polar region is a special case. None of the models have done a good job at modeling the clouds at the poles, especially the South Pole. (6) They will warm up more than 2 degrees F, how much is a question. In the South average temperatures will rise from – 70 degrees F in the interior all the way to maybe – 63 degrees F, and come closer to freezing in the summer at the northern edges. There may be added snowfall that will expand the ice sheet. The Antarctic ice sheet has set new records since record keeping began, and is at the moment bottoming out at 30% more ice than the 30 year average. (7)

The North Pole region is even more complicated since it is partially land, partially ocean. The oceanic ice cap has been shrinking  at a fairly constant rate the last 30 years, but last year it broke the trend and grew back to break the trend line. The winter snow cap has remained at about the same level year to year with a slightly positive trend line, this year being no exception.  So, why is the snow cover growing slightly, but ice cover shrinking? The common explanation has been global warming, but the ice cover kept shrinking even as the temperature increase leveled off. There are two possible explanations: Warming oceans and changes in pollution. The North Atlantic Oscillation has been mostly positive (warmer) since 1970 and has only recently turned negative, so that is certainly part of the cause of the shrinking of the icecap, but another candidate is even more likely: Carbon Pollution. With that I do not mean CO2, but good old soot, spewing out from the smokestacks of  power plants in China. 45% of all coal burned is burned in China, often low grade lignite with no scrubbers. The air in Beijing is toxic to humans more days than not. Some of that soot finds its way to the arctic and settles on the ice, changing its albedo, and the sun has a chance to melt the ice more efficiently. This occurs mostly in the months of August and September when the Sun is at a low angle anyway, so the changing of the albedo has very little effect on temperature. The net result of all this is that the temperature in the North Pole region will rise about 3 degrees Fahrenheit for a doubling of the CO2. This will have a very minor effect on the Greenland ice cap since they are nearly always way below freezing anyway (-28 degree C average). The largest effect will happen in August and September in the years when all new snow has melted and the soot from years past is exposed. This happened two years ago with a sudden drop in albedo for the Greenland ice. It will also lead to an increase in the precipitation in the form of snow, so the net result is the glaciers may start growing again if the amount of soot can be reduced.

The conclusion is: The temperature regulator of the earth is working quite well, and the increase in temperature at the poles is welcome as it lessens the temperature gradient between the tropics and the polar regions, which in turn reduces the severity of storms, since they are mostly generated by temperature differences and the different density of warm, humid and dry, cold air. (8) The Polar Bears will do quite well, their numbers have more than doubled in the last 50 years.

(1). This is a message from 1010global.org. Their aim was to reduce carbon emissions by 10% in 2010.

https://lenbilen.com/2014/02/22/a-religious-message-from-1010global-org-and-a-limerick/

(2). The earth is getting greener!  https://lenbilen.com/2013/03/19/co2-the-solution-to-climate-change/

(3).

greenearthhigh_resolution1

(4).

chart11-2

(5). Reality versus climate models.CMIP5-73-models-vs-obs-20N-20S-MT-5-yr-means1(6) Projected cloud cover for various climate models versus reality.Cloudmodels

(7)

seaice.recent.antarctic46

(8).

uah-lower-troposphere-temperature

Thabout_face_bookere is a new book out:

About Face! Why the World Needs More Carbon Dioxide is easy reading from two scientists and an economist. About Face! is the product of two scientists and an economist. The scientists are Madhav Khandekar in Canada and Cliff Ollier in Australia, plus economist Arthur Middleton Hughes in the USA.

It will change your understanding of climate science and explain how we can save millions of lives and billions of dollars per year.

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