Oroville Dam, a disaster in waiting? A Limerick.

The water from Oroville dam

comes down like a battering ram.

They skipped maintenance, when

it was drought. That was then.

Repairs? Always bill Uncle Sam!

On May 31, 1889 The South Fork dam failed and unleashed 20,000,000 tons of water that devastated Johnstown, PA.  The flood killed 2,209 people, and is remembered as one of the worst dam disasters to have ever befallen innocent and unaware people.

The dam was small by today’s standard, releasing only 16,220 acre-feet of water. Compare this to the water behind Lake Oroville Dam, 3,500,000 acre-feet, and another 370,000 acre feet of rain expected in the next few days.

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Right now the dam is releasing 80 to 100,000 cubic feet of water a second, or about 2 acre-feet per second, about 6 times the capacity of the power station, which is rated at 835 MW. This means the release is about 5.5 GW of power rushing down and eroding the new spillway channel carved out by up to 7.5 million horse-power of destructive force. Normally this energy is absorbed as heat in a functional spillway, but if unleashed, much of its power is erosion force. The new channel of water, mixed with debris choked the normal water outlet from the power station and its diversion pool, so the power has been turned off since the emergency began.

For now, the main dam seems to be undamaged, but if more rains come, and there are 2 more major storms lined up coming from Japan and Taiwan with torrential rains, so this scare is far from over. Meanwhile, residents downstream are told to have their bags packed, and listen to emergency radio every hour, if the spillway gives way much further, this is going to be big.

The repair bill for damage done so far is probably a quarter billion dollars, not counting the cost of the evacuation. Proper maintenance would probably have cost less than 20 million dollars. This is about par for  California politicians.

The original spillway is now totally diverted by erosion.

la-me-lake-oroville-spillway-pictures-105.jpg

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The spillway while it was still functioning as planned

Lake Oroville dam in more trouble. A Limerick.

Lake Oroville fills up again

Ten trillions more gallons of rain

Will the spillway give way?

It’s too early to say,

while permanent drought fears remain.

In 2005 environmental groups and structural engineers pointed out that the emergency spillway was in dire need of being reinforced, or the whole dam would fail if it was ever used. The claim was ignored, but the stimulus package of 2009 was looking for shovel ready projects, so  more than 32 million dollars was offered for dam repairs, but the Sacramento politicians chose instead to use some of that money on beautification of side-walks and a set of bike-ways for the University of California. Thanks to Climate change the spillway would never be used, and California was entering a state of permanent drought.

So much for spending billions of dollars of climate change research. A quick look at the flood of 1862 would have given them reason to keep the dams in good repairs. Now the cost of repairing Oroville Dam will run into hundreds of millions of dollars.

If a new event like 1862, the total cost to California could be up to 700 Billion dollars, part of that due to failing dams,  unless the dams are reinforced and properly maintained. The rain damage may be bigger than the damage from “the next big earthquake” another sure thing.

Meanwhile, due to debris, the 835 MW power station is out of commission, so all the water has to go down the spillway rather than generating electricity. Lake Oroville Dam has the ideal peak power plant, so they lose more than a million dollars a day in revenue as well.

California is in big trouble, and the politicians are still sticking their heads in the sand hoping it will not happen on their watch.

 

 

 

Death Valley rains lead to super bloom! A Limerick.

The desert and the parched land will be glad;
    the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
    it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
    the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
    the splendor of our God. (Isaiah 35:1-2)

living_prairieIt rained cats and dogs in Death Valley.

Find passable roads, Rand McNally!

See the desert in bloom;

not the feeling of doom,

a wish that is right up my alley!

In 1953 Walt Disney came out with a ground breaking movie. The name of it was “The living Desert” and showed time lapse photography of wild flowers bursting out from what looked like bare rock. My father took me as a little lad to see it in a movie theater in small town Sweden, and I was blown away. Ever since then I have wanted to see Death Valley in full bloom. Now it has happened. Death Valley is in full bloom. But, as with all blessings it comes with a price. Reading the park bulletin I see the following alerts:

Scotty’s Castle CLOSED until 2018 due to flood damage.  Alert 1 , Severity ,closure ,,Scotty’s Castle CLOSED until 2019 due to flood damage. Flooding in Grapevine Canyon from a severe thunderstorm has destroyed the road to Scotty’s Castle, damaged infrastructure and some out-buildings in the Castle complex. more

Closed Roads: Alert 1 , Severity ,closure ,,Closed Roads Titus Canyon, Emigrant Canyon, West Side, and Scotty’s Castle (also known as North Highway) Roads are closed due to snow and mud. Artists Drive is also closed. Please visit our Alerts & Conditions page by selecting “more.”  more

Weather conditions for 2/18 : Rain so far today in Death Valley, 0.66 inches, and more is expected.

For now I am reduced to admire the pictures some other people have taken:

600_447397036death-valley-super-bloom-california-03-blooms0316

 

 

The spillway at the Oroville Dam fails. Blame Climate Change, not the politicians. A Limerick.

The spillway at Oroville Dam:

The “permanent drought” was a scam.

“No more need for repairs,

if it fails,  no one cares.”

“It’s Climate Change. Blame Uncle Sam.”

In May of 2016 California Gov. Jerry Brown made some of the state’s temporary water restrictions permanent. The executive order, in response to the state’s drought, permanently bans wasteful practices like hosing sidewalks and washing cars with hoses that don’t have shut-off nozzles.

“Californians stepped up during this drought and saved more water than ever before,” Brown said in a statement. “But now we know that drought is becoming a regular occurrence and water conservation must be a part of our everyday life.”

Meanwhile, the concerns for the existing dams faded. They would never be filled to capacity again, so why worry about emergency spillways? Regular maintenance and repair work, not of an emergency nature was delayed yet another year, and resources were diverted to other priority items, such as a Satellite program to monitor Climate change  if disaster should strike and Donald Trump, perish the thought, would be elected.

This was in the middle of the last El Niño, and temperatures had only one way to go, up, and with that increasing capacity to hold water vapor. Now the El Niño has been replaced by a La Niña, the temperature are getting back to normal, the 19 year pause is back, and now the excessive humidity is raining out over the Pacific West.

k_street_inundation_of_the_state_capitol_city_of_sacramento_1862This should not have come as a surprise. The Great flood of 1862 was worse. The Oroville Dam spillwater empties out in what is Sacramento river, and flood control by building dams has been successful to avert major flooding like that. Politicians have short memories and even less sense of history. The climate changes all the time. We are now raining out from a very temporary temperature rise, and we know that eventually our descendants will have  to face another ice age. More CO2 may delay that inevitability by a few hundred years, but the long term trend is down. 2016 was still on of the 1000 coldest in the last 10000 years.

 

On Climate Change. What can we learn from the snow?

Having a snow day here at State College, and watching the birds feast on theseeds dsc_0355in the feeder, remembering the temperature was in the fifties yesterday my thoughts went back, way back to a time when I was trying to figure out why it was so hard to calibrate a temperature programmed gas chromatograph  when analyzing samples  from -40C to 275C. During the cryogenic phase water vapor froze on the inside of the oven, and when the oven temperature then rose through the melting point of water, temperature rise took a pause until all the ice was evaporated. As a result, calibration could vary widely dependent on the humidity and how long the oven was in the cryogenic state.
The weather has been unusual this year. After a long drought the Pacific coast has been hit with a seemingly unbroken string of storms, carrying moisture all the way from the Philippines, resulting in record rain and snow. Likewise, in the Atlantic there have been a string of strong storms going from the Gulf of Mexico all the way up to Greenland or Norway, and the storms are still roaring. From time to time the temperature has been reported to be up to 30 degrees warmer than normal, and it has been raining as far north as Svalbard.

A few years ago there was a prediction (was is Al Gore?) that Arctic Sea ice would be totally gone by the year 2015 and the following charts were produced as proof:

arctic-albedo-loss-and-feedbacks-9-638The charts seem to indicate that by September 2015 Arctic ice would be totally gone and all Arctic snow by summer 2014.

Yogi Berra said: “It is hard to predict, especially about the future.” So how are we doing?

Arctic ice started out with the lowest minimum since 2012 and is still at record low levels for this time of the year.arctic_sea_ice_extent_zoomed_2017_day_34_1981-2010

The total sea ice volume is also at a record low for this time of the year: (from DMI, Danish Meteorological Institute)

cice_combine_thick_sm_en_20170211

Couple this with the message that 2016 was reported the warmest year on record, and there seems to be plenty cause for alarm. But then it was reported by whistle blowers that the temperature data is homogenized to better align with climate models, in other words, falsified, so we may have to look for something that does not change over time, like temperature. Snow and ice have the characteristic of freezing and melting at the same temperature, al long as there is no change in what else is in the snow or ice, like soot or salinity.

With all this ice melting, what is happening to the snow? Checking Rutgers’ University Global Snow Lab ice charts it is clear that the fall snow cover is increasing, signifying an about 8% increase in the last 50 years, and surprisingly,  a significant rise in the last 8 years.

This seems to hint it is getting colder.

Not so fast: what happens to the winter snow cover?

Again we see a slight upward movement, about 2% in the last 50 years.

The January 2017 result are in, and the snow cover was the 5th highest on record for January, so the upward trend continues, indicating the climate is getting colder.

But what happens in spring?

The story is quite different with the snow cover decreasing about 10% in the last 50 years.

That must mean the climate is warming.

Let us look at one more piece of smb_combine_sm_acc_en_20170206statistics: The Greenland ice cover.

This fall has seen a lot of snow falling over Greenland, about double of normal, much like the rain falling in California, the result of a string of storms starting in the Philippines, raining and snowing i California, snowing out in the Western states, recharging  themselves with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, and finally snowing out over Greenland or Norway.

When the storms hit Greenland the temperature spikes, sometimes reaching 30F above normal, but it is still snowing!

This year the snow fallen over Greenland is larger than ever recorded. This means that  al this new-fallen snow will not melt during the melting season, which means the snow albedo is higher this year and will cause less snow melt than in years when the albedo is lower

ice-glaciers-2015-fig3-3c-tedesco_smlThe albedo was constantly getting lower until 2012, and then it again snowed more than normal and the albedo recovered in 2013, from then continuing a downward trend. This year it will probably recover some more, leading to a year of ice gain over Greenland.

Why is the albedo decreasing? Blame China. The last few years they have been building one dirty coal plant every week, spewing out soot and sulphur compounds in spite of their claim to have the best scrubbers. This is the reason for the earlier spring snow melt.

The conclusion?

The effects of  increasing CO2 is mush less than the effects from clouds and what the clouds reflect back into the sky and what they carry in the form of water vapor. We are now seeing the result of the end of the el nino, the raining out of the excess humidity, which happens when the earth again is cooling.

The 18 year pause is back, and is now 19 years.

Groundhog day 2017. A Punxutawney Phil Limerick.

The Phil Punxutawney prediction:

Six MORE weeks of winter affliction.

In the Climate change game

it is worth ’bout the same

as IPCC claims of fiction.

 

Here are the Climate models used by IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change) Models versus reality:

CMIP5-73-models-vs-obs-20N-20S-MT-5-yr-means1

Scientists’ march on DC, a Limerick.

A scientists’ march on D.C. ?

It can’t apolitical be.

For they must get their grants

through political chants.

Conform or get cut, can’t you see?

Sometimes in the near future there will be yet another march on Washington. This time it is from “concerned scientists” that want to take politics out of science, be allowed to be true scientists with no biases or prejudices.  To prove the point they have laid down the ground rules for participation in the march and produced this manifesto: There are certain things that we accept as facts with no alternatives. The Earth is becoming warmer due to human action. The diversity of life arose by evolution. Politicians who devalue expertise risk making decisions that do not reflect reality and must be held accountable. An American government that ignores science to pursue ideological agendas endangers the world.

Let’s take a look at that manifesto. There are certain things that we accept as facts with no alternatives. What happened to scientific curiosity? Is science ever settled? Do they mean there is nothing new to discover?

The Earth is becoming warmer due to human action. Well, for once I agree. We are returning CO2 to the atmosphere in increasing amount, and that is good. If nothing else changed, the logarithmic temperature increase with increased CO2 levels would cause the earth to warm up by 0.9C for a doubling of CO2, more if there is a gain in the system, less if there is negative feedback. The gain factors are mostly due to increased evaporation from warmer oceans, the negative feedback is supplied mostly through increased clouds, coming from increased absolute humidity. (I realise there are many other factors affecting climate, but this is a start, science is by no means settled). What is observed is that the earth is getting greener, and the increased CO2 from 280 PPM to 405 PPM makes the earth able to feed another two billion people without starving, not to mention plants and animals, and also use less water in doing so. Check the figure:increaseThe growth without added fertilizers 11%, extrapolated from the beginning of burning fossil fuels to now the increase is about 42%. This is a transfer of wealth from areas burning the fuel to agricultural areas, mostly in developing countries.

The diversity of life arose by evolution. Now that is a limiting statement. While there is great evidence for adaption, a valid scientific explanation for evolution simply is not credible, apart from intelligent design. The math is not there for another explanation, the DNA code is too complicated and complete including repair codes, start and stop codes to induce aging, and with codes to allow for future adaption already built in!

Politicians who devalue expertise risk making decisions that do not reflect reality and must be held accountable. The number of guilty politicians are too numerous to count.

An American government that ignores science to pursue ideological agendas endangers the world. Agree. No government exemplified this more than the Obama Government.  The Trump administration will restore balance in science, no longer excel in nonsense like this from Charles Bolden  “When I became the NASA administrator — or before I became the NASA administrator — he (Obama) charged me with three things. One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science … and math and engineering,”