Greenhouse Emissions of Agriculture

By: Dr. Ricky Rood , 6:25 AM GMT on July 27, 2013

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Greenhouse Emissions of Agriculture

In the last blog there was a comment by peregrinepickle on the emissions from agriculture. It started:

“It sounds like they may be putting the cart before the workhorse with this study. A 2010 survey of the literature found that too few studies on GHG emissions and the impact of various alternative farming practices have been done in US agricultural regions, including the Great plains Ironically, more research is being done in this vein in China. So it seems premature to appeal to US farmers re: willingness to adopt certain practices before knowing exactly where you are going with it.

Agriculture, compared to other sources, is not a huge contributor to GHGs, relative to the contributions by industry, transportation, and utilities. In the US farming is responsible for 6% of the overall emissions of the six major GHGs. However, farming does contribute about 25% of all CH4 emissions in the US, which is major, as this gas is 21-33 times more potent in warming potential than CO2.”

Back in April and May I wrote two entries on the emissions from agriculture (first entry, second entry). These two entries highlighted both the complexity of calculating the greenhouse emissions related to agriculture as well as suggested some of the controversy associated with the calculation. The controversy is especially high in the calculation associated with livestock.

The amount of direct fossil fuel emissions from use of fuels in machinery and pumps for agriculture is modest, as stated in peregrinepickle’s comment. Those numbers are based on a 2010 inventory by the Environmental Protection Agency. Here is a link to the chapter that details the agricultural inventory. The greenhouse gas emissions compiled in the chapter on agriculture are for greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide, especially methane and nitrous oxide. For the EPA inventory, the carbon dioxide associated with agriculture is accounted for in the energy inventory. Additional emissions and removal of greenhouse gasses are calculated with land use, land change and forestry. The national forests are part of the Department of Agriculture.

The accounting with soils and forests influences, greatly, the budget of emissions associated with agriculture. Based on soil management agriculture can remove and store substantial amounts of greenhouse gases. In the U.S. agriculture is a mature and extensive enterprise, and we are not aggressively converting forest to agricultural land. In fact, the amount of forest is increasing and, therefore, can be accounted as an agricultural removal of carbon dioxide. This fact of increasing forest land is not the case in much of the world. World-wide, deforestation as forest is converted to agricultural use, especially rangeland, accounts for much of the carbon footprint of agriculture. Phil Robertson in an article to appear in the Encyclopedia of Agriculture estimates the total greenhouse gas footprint of agriculture is between 26 and 36 percent (thank you Professor Robertson). This range seems soundly based in the synthesis of research, and the number I would quote based on the current state of knowledge.

As detailed in Livestock’s Long Shadow and stated in the entirety of peregrinepickle’s comment, the impact of agriculture reaches far beyond the relevance to climate change. Notably there are impacts on water quality and land quality, and, in my opinion, the impact of nitrogen (fertilizer) pollution is one of the most under appreciated sources of environmental degradation. Management of this whole portfolio of environmental impacts is one of the special challenges of the agricultural sector of human activities.

The mix of greenhouse gas emissions, the details of the practice of land use, the role of biological processes, and the potential to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and store them in soil and biomass characterize the climate impact of agriculture. Agriculture is also vulnerable to climate change. Since agriculture is a highly competitive, market-dependent undertaking, market response to weather and climate can amplify weather-related impacts. Agriculture becomes more entangled with the climate problem, when we consider the possibility of biofuels to replace some of our fossil fuels. This complexity complicates the accounting of climate impacts, but also offers some of our best opportunities to improve our management of the environment. Agriculture is no doubt an important player in our management of climate change, and notably absent in President Obama recent speech on climate change.

A primary source of agricultural information is Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. An often cited document is the 2006 documentLivestock’s Long Shadow. There has been much criticism of this report, especially in its calculation of the emissions of the transportation sector. The original authors did modify their specific statements about transportation. As noted in an earlier blog in this series, there is substantial controversy about the impact of agriculture. Therefore, I end here with a set of reference materials that I have used.

EPA National Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data

PDF of Agriculture Chapter of EPA Inventory of Emissions

Agriculture’s Role in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Chapter 8: Working Group 3: IPCC 2007

Energy Efficiency of Conventional, Organic and Alternative Cropping …

Livestock and Climate Change

and to appear

Soil Greenhouse Gas Emissions and their Mitigation, G. Philip Robertson, W.K. Kellogg Biological Station and the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, Michigan State University, Hickory Corners, MI 49060

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TEPCO struggling to contain contaminated water

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125699
Living with climate change in Greenland - in pictures

Joe Raedle joined Getty Images in 2000 and is based in Miami. His work has varied from outlandish festivities in the bayous of Louisiana, to the mountain peaks of Afghanistan and the deserts of Iraq.

Here, he covers the landscape again, capturing images of Greenlanders adapt to the changing climate as researchers from the National Science Foundation and other organisations study the melting glaciers and the long-term ramifications for the world.


Potato farmer Arnaq Egede stands on the front steps of her home in Qaqortoq. The farm, the largest in Greenland, has seen an extended growing season due to climate change
Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
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Noaa report says Arctic sea ice is disappearing at unprecedented pace
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate study puts 2012 among the 10 warmest years on record


The Arctic lost record amounts of sea ice last year and is changing at an unprecedented pace due to climate change, a landmark climate study said on Tuesday.

Last year was among the 10 warmest years on record – ranking eighth or ninth depending on the data set, according to a report led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa). The year 2012 also saw record greenhouse gas emissions, with concentrations of carbon dioxide and other warming gasses reaching a global average of 392.7 parts per million for the year.

"The findings are striking," Kathryn Sullivan, Noaa's acting administrator, said on a conference call. "Our planet as a whole is becoming a warmer place."

The scientists were reluctant to point directly to the cause of the striking changes in the climate. But the annual reports are typically used by the federal government to prepare for the future, and in June president Barack Obama used his climate address to direct government agencies to begin planning for decades of warming atmosphere and rising seas.

The biggest changes in the climate in 2012 were in the Arctic and in Greenland, said the report, which is an annual exercise by a team of American and British scientists. The Arctic warmed at about twice the rate of lower latitudes, the report found. By June 2012, snow cover had fallen to its lowest levels since the record began. By September 2012, sea-ice cover had retreated to its lowest levels since the beginning of satellite records, falling to 1.32 million square miles.

That was, the report noted, a whopping 18% lower than the previous low, set in 2007, and a staggering 54% lower than the mark for 1980.

The changes were widespread on land as well, with record warm permafrost temperatures in Alaska and in the Canadian Arctic, the report's authors noted. On 11 July last year, Greenland experienced surface melting on 97% of the ice sheet. The record-breaking events indicate an era of "new normal" for the climate, the researchers said.

"The record or near-records being reported from year to year in the Arctic are no longer anomalies or exceptions," said Jackie Richter-Menge, a civil engineer with the US army corps of engineers. "Really they have become the rule for us, or the norm that we see in the Arctic and that we expect to see for the foreseeable future."

That ice melt was also a major cause of sea-level rise, the report found. Global sea levels rose to record highs last year, after being depressed during the first half of 2011 because of the effects of La Niña. The average global sea level last year was 1.4in above the 1993-2010 average.

"Over the past seven years of so, it appears that the ice melt is contributing more than twice as much to the global sea level rise compared with warming waters," said Jessica Blunden, a climatologist at Noaa's national climactic data centre.
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Quoting 554. JohnLonergan:
Trends in Atmospheric Carbon DioxideLink

Recent Monthly Average Mauna Loa CO2
July 2013: 397.23 ppm
July 2012: 394.30 ppm



RESCALE PPM GRAPH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20221
From the Guardian:

Seven facts you need to know about the Arctic methane timebomb

Posted by Nafeez Ahmed, Monday 5 August 2013

Dismissals of catastrophic methane danger ignore robust science in favour of outdated mythology of climate safety


Melting ice in the Arctic. Photograph: Getty

Debate over the plausibility of a catastrophic release of methane in coming decades due to thawing Arctic permafrost has escalated after a new Nature paper warned that exactly this scenario could trigger costs equivalent to the annual GDP of the global economy.

Scientists of different persuasions remain fundamentally divided over whether such a scenario is even plausible. Carolyn Rupple of the US Geological Survey (USGS) Gas Hydrates Project told NBC News the scenario is "nearly impossible." Ed Dlugokencky, a research scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) said there has been "no detectable change in Arctic methane emissions over the past two decades." NASA's Gavin Schmidt said that ice core records from previously warm Arctic periods show no indication of such a scenario having ever occurred. Methane hydrate expert Prof David Archer reiterated that "the mechanisms for release operate on time scales of centuries and longer." These arguments were finally distilled in a lengthy, seemingly compelling essay posted on Skeptical Science last Thursday, concluding with utter finality:

"There is no evidence that methane will run out of control and initiate any sudden, catastrophic effects."

But none of the scientists rejecting the plausibility of the scenario are experts in the Arctic, specifically the East Siberia Arctic Shelf (ESAS). In contrast, an emerging consensus among ESAS specialists based on continuing fieldwork is highlighting a real danger of unprecedented quantities of methane venting due to thawing permafrost.

So who's right? What are these Arctic specialists saying? Are their claims of a potentially catastrophic methane release plausible at all? I took a dive into the scientific literature to find out.

What I discovered was that Skeptical Science's unusually skewered analysis was extremely selective, and focused almost exclusively on the narrow arguments of scientists out of touch with cutting edge developments in the Arctic. Here's what you need to know.

Continue Reading >>

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Myth of Sustainability by Dr. McPherson

He's a wealth of knowledge on many key environmental topics, from global warming to peak oil, and he's an excellent instructor," said Darlene DeHudy, the MCC Meijer Library and Information Technology Center reference librarian organizing McPherson's talk in Collegiate Hall. The former professor of natural resources and environment at the University of Arizona will address "The Myth of Sustainability, the Importance of Durability, and a Method for Saving the Planet."

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125699
The Sun's Magnetic Field is about to Flip

Heliospheric Current Sheet

science.nasa.gov
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Quoting 549. Naga5000:
Using conservative sources of information for things like climate change makes people less likely to trust scientists. Link First link is for the salon.com article, second link is the actual paper, without pay wall! Hooray for science! Link


A well written and reasoned post in the comments section of the Salon article -

"Leslie

My experience of reading the posts to science stories on yahoo! (which is a broader sampling of the public at large) has left me utterly appalled and very concerned for the future of this country. The bottom line is that I believe we may be overtaken technologically by at least one nation in within the next generation. Right now we are getting by with the importation of of science minds through immigration and H1b visas. We can't count on that going on indefinitely, especially as we are not graduating enough pf our native born people in the sciences.

The article seemed to focus on the subject of global warming, but I feel the problem is far more fundamental than that. On any science thread (I especially focus on astronomy stories), I hear a vast amount of general science skepticism, with much of originating from religious believers. A lot of it also comes from angry sounding righties, many of whom have said science and science research is but a liberal boondoggle, meant to soak the govt. and waste their tax dollars. These people don't just question climate change, but question the conclusions of almost all astronomical science as well, declaring it all a false jumping to conclusions. They sound like uneducated laymen who never studied or learned much science in school, yet who feel they can declare all the research and knowledge in the field a sham.


The election of Obama has really unhinged these people, and it shows in their comments and posts. They hate and distrust all govt as long as he is the head of it, and that includes non support for any govt funding of scientific research, or of programs they once supported, like NASA. (Also sometimes called a liberal boondoggle by these folks.) One thing I often hear on numerous posts is the critique that Obama has "shut down" NASA, something they must keep hearing in their right wing media, because I have seen that view posted so many times. (Many also criticise the fact that Obama has cut the NASA budget, but it's no use pointing out to these people that those cutbacks were part of a deal with a GOP house that wanted cuts and only cuts to all govt spending. Otherwise they were going to shut down the govt.) Yet this same contingent also says NASA is a waste! There is no pleasing these people; they have become emotionally disturbed and unreasonable with the election of a black man to the Presidency. In their blind rage, they attack anybody and anything and that includes scientists, who they suspect of being in collusion with liberals and big government.


On the issue of climate change, they reject it because they fear and loathe the idea of having to make lifestyle changes, especially those that may affect their use of cars, as well as the possibility of increased costs that may come from such changes. They fear and resent the govt. passing environmental laws and feel that by doing so, the govt. is just being a liberal fascist nanny state.

These troubled voices are by no means a small minority on yahoo!; on some science threads such comments are often as much as 40% of the response. Their comments do get voted down by the readership, which helps to restore some faith in my fellow Americans. Still, the vast reservoir of bigotry and ignorance is disheartening, with much of it playing out on threads whose subject has no political connection. But that's all these people know. Any ignorant and uninformed person can spout politics, while science knowledge seems to be a scarce commodity among us.


I reiterate, I'm concerned for our future. As a society we haven't made the investment in education and boy does it show on those science threads! A collective mediocrity has taken hold of us, and will not assure us of continuing technological and economic primacy as the 21st century unfolds.
"

I too am aware of the uninformed and the misinforming people on Yahoo's "Question and Answer" section. OttawaMike is somewhat famous there simply because he asks what seems to be well reasoned questions. I see just another attempt at misdirection and misrepresentation of the information provided. What worries me the most is that many of Yahoo's users are the youth of this nation and what they are being fed as knowledge there.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 4728
Trends in Atmospheric Carbon DioxideLink

Recent Monthly Average Mauna Loa CO2
July 2013: 397.23 ppm
July 2012: 394.30 ppm

Member Since: June 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2788
Study: Watching Fox News Makes You Distrust Climate Scientists

The study, conducted by Jay Hmielowski of the University of Arizona and colleagues at several other universities, relied on a large polling sample of Americans in two phases: 2,497 individuals were interviewed in 2008, and then a smaller sample of 1,036 were reinterviewed in 2011. The respondents were asked about what kind of media they consumed—conservative choices included Fox News and the Rush Limbaugh Show; "non-conservative" media outlets included CNN, MSNBC, National Public Radio, and network news—as well as about how much they trusted or distrusted climate scientists. They were also asked about their belief that global warming is happening. (The study controlled for variables like political ideology, religiosity, and other demographic factors.)

The results showed that conservative media consumption led to less trust in climate scientists, even as consuming nonconservative media had the opposite effect (leading to an increased trust in climate scientists). Between people who said they don't consume any conservative media and people who said they consume a large amount, "we see a 13 percent difference in the amount of trust in scientists," according to study coauthor Lauren Feldman of American University.

The authors then proposed that distrust of scientists is a key link in the chain between watching Fox (or listening to Rush) and coming to doubt climate science. The idea is that because most people don't know a great deal about the science of global warming, they rely on "heuristics"—or mental shortcuts—to make up their minds about what to believe. "Trust" (or the lack thereof) is a classic shortcut, allowing one to quickly determine who's right and who's wrong in a seemingly complex and data-laden debate. Or as the paper put it: "The public's low level of knowledge and the media's conflicting, often value-laden messages about global warming lead people to use heuristics to make sense of this complex issue."

more at MotherJones.com
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Climate Change Spreads Disease Worldwide

Climate change is affecting the spread of infectious diseases worldwide - posing serious threats to not only humans, but also animals and plants, a team of international disease ecologists write in the journal Science.

Public health officials should change the way they model disease systems of all kinds to include climate variables, researchers argue. Taking climate into account could help more accurately predict and prevent the spread of deadly disease.

The changing climate is already massively affecting plants and animals, researchers write in the study. The muskox, pictured above, is one arctic animal that's already seeing higher mortality rates because of one climate change-spread infectious disease, researchers said. Biodiversity loss has even been linked to greater risks from certain infectious diseases, such as Lyme disease and the West Nile Virus, according to researchers.

Additionally, certain human diseases, such as dengue, malaria and cholera, thrive in warmer temperatures, threatening much of the developing world. The warming globe's impact on agricultural systems and game species pose a particular concern for the indigenous people of the Arctic, among other groups in rapidly changing areas.

The next step, researchers say, is taking action.

"We need to transcend simple arguments about which is more important - climate change or socioeconomics - and ask just how much harder will it be to control diseases as the climate warms?" coauthor Richard Ostfeld of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies said in a statement. "Will it be possible at all in developing countries?"

more at Weather.com
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Remember 3 Mile Island and Fukushima?




Radioactive water seeping into Pacific from Fukushima is 'emergency,' official says
By Antoni Slodkowski and Mari Saito, Reuters

TOKYO - Highly radioactive water seeping into the ocean from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is creating an "emergency" that the operator is struggling to contain, an official from the country's nuclear watchdog said Monday.

This contaminated groundwater has breached an underground barrier, is rising toward the surface and is exceeding legal limits of radioactive discharge, Shinji Kinjo, head of a Nuclear Regulatory Authority task force, told Reuters.

Countermeasures planned by Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) are only a temporary solution, he said.

Tepco's "sense of crisis is weak," Kinjo said. "This is why you can't just leave it up to Tepco alone" to grapple with the ongoing disaster.

"Right now, we have an emergency," he said.


Link
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Creationist radio ad says dinosaurs were on Noah's Ark

Why did the dinosaurs go extinct? Answers in Genesis doesn't say, but the Creationist group is sure of one thing: the giant reptiles were on Noah's Ark.

In a 60-second radio ad released Monday, Answers in Genesis President Ken Ham lamented that dinosaurs had been used to indoctrinate children to believe in the theory of evolution.

He said dinosaurs could not have existed before humans because the Bible clear stated all land animals and humans were created on the same day about 6,000 years ago.

There was nothing mysterious about dinosaurs for those who understood the Bible, Ham concluded.

But why were did dinosaurs go if they were created a mere 6,000 years ago? For that, you apparently have to visit the Creation Museum in Kentucky.

Listen to the ad, uploaded to YouTube, below:


RawStory.com


"These People are watching the Flintstones as if it were a Documentary" - Lewis Black
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Using conservative sources of information for things like climate change makes people less likely to trust scientists. Link First link is for the salon.com article, second link is the actual paper, without pay wall! Hooray for science! Link
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 4 Comments: 2726
From Climate Science Watch:


Richard Somerville: Concerns of a Climate Scientist

"What concerns me most about climate change now is the stark contrast between the apathy of the public and the troubling facts that we climate scientists have established and that President Obama clearly recognizes," says climate scientist Richard Somerville. "We have a window of time within which we simply must act if we are serious about meeting the 2 degree Celsius goal. The window is still open, but it will soon close and will then remain closed."

The following article by Richard Somerville, Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Research Professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, is re-posted from Climate Sense with the permission of the author:

CONCERNS OF A CLIMATE SCIENTIST


By Richard C. J. Somerville


President Obama’s speech on June 25, 2013 proposed a broad array of new Federal initiatives to reduce the threat of severe climate change. This is encouraging news indeed, because until now, there has been little evidence in Washington of political leadership on this important issue. President Obama’s announced commitment to act has now given the world reasons for being more hopeful. In the months and years ahead, we shall see whether effective policies can be implemented that produce meaningful results.

What concerns me most about climate change now is the stark contrast between the apathy of the public and the troubling facts that we climate scientists have established and that President Obama clearly recognizes. Most people are not well informed about what our science has discovered. In the United States, we also have the sad spectacle that almost the entire national leadership of the Republican party still does not accept the most basic findings of mainstream climate science. In the 2012 US Presidential election, the topic of climate change was essentially ignored by both sides. Problems cannot be solved by pretending they do not exist, and future generations will not judge us kindly unless we accept the science and act quickly.

The existential threat of climate change affects national security, economic prosperity, and the health and safety of people throughout the world. It should not be marginalized as a niche issue of interest only to a few people whom we label as “environmentalists.” Journalists should never make the mistake of framing the issue as a controversy -- is man-made climate change real and serious or not -- in which both sides deserve equal time.

The plain fact is that what mankind decides to do in the coming years and decades will largely determine the climate that our children and grandchildren will inherit. To meet the very real threat of climate change caused by human activities, policymakers must listen to the science and then must act. Humanity needs to decide collectively how much man-made climate change is acceptable. Science cannot specify what level of climate change is “dangerous.” That is a question involving risk tolerance, values, priorities and other subjective concerns. It is governments that will decide, by their actions or inactions.

Governments already have made a tentative decision. Many governments have adopted the aspirational goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the average pre-industrial temperatures of the 1800s. Given that goal, climate science can provide useful information about what actions are needed to give a reasonable chance of meeting the goal. Science tells us that it is urgent to act soon. The world has already warmed by almost half of the 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit goal. Some further warming is unavoidable. However, humanity has the ability to limit the amount of future climate change.

We are already watching human-caused climate change occur. It is not only a problem for the future. It is happening here and now. The warming is just a symptom. Climate is complex, and warming has many consequences. Melting Arctic sea ice and rising sea level are consequences. Extreme weather events today occur in a changed environment. For example, Hurricane Sandy, which killed hundreds of people and caused some 75 billion dollars in property damage in 2012, occurred in a climate with higher ocean temperatures and more water vapor in the air than only a few decades ago. The heat-trapping gases and particles that humanity has emitted into the atmosphere increase the odds of severe weather events, just as steroids taken by a baseball player can increase the odds of home runs. Today we are seeing climate change on steroids. To limit global warming to moderate or tolerable amounts, the entire world must act quickly to reduce these emissions. As the world’s only superpower, the United States needs to reduce its own emissions and must also provide leadership so that other countries will reduce their emissions too.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the single most important heat-trapping gas that humanity emits into the atmosphere. Because some of the CO2 that we emit will stay in the atmosphere for many centuries, it is our cumulative emissions that matter. If today’s rates of emitting heat-trapping gases and particles continue without change, then after just 20 more years the world will probably be unable to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius.

To have a reasonable chance of meeting this 2 degree Celsius goal, the science shows that global emissions of heat-trapping gases and particles must peak soon and then start to decline rapidly, not in 50 or 100 years, but within the next 5 to 10 years, reaching near zero well within this century. Given the 2 degree Celsius goal already agreed to by many governments, the case for great urgency in taking meaningful actions to reduce emissions is a consequence of science. It is based on facts and evidence. It is not an ideological or political choice. We have a window of time within which we simply must act if we are serious about meeting the 2 degree Celsius goal. The window is still open, but it will soon close and will then remain closed.

If the world continues to procrastinate throughout the current decade, so that global emissions of heat-trapping gases and particles continue unabated for another ten years, then we will almost certainly have lost the opportunity to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Thus, it is encouraging that President Obama’s announcement comes now, rather than later. All of us can help, and we climate scientists in particular can participate in the critically important effort to increase our knowledge of climate change and to communicate our understanding clearly and objectively to as broad an audience as possible.

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Cooper, who thinks nuclear energy's cost overruns and frequent shutdowns have always made it more expensive than it appears, recommends that the industry develop an orderly closing plan over the next few years, avoiding the rate chaos that unplanned closings might create.

"In 2013, more (nuclear) capacity retired early than in any year of the U.S. commercial nuclear sector," he said in a press briefing. "In recent months, four reactors have been closed in early retirement, five major up-rates (increases in generating capacity) were cancelled.

"The bottom line is that the tough times the nuclear power industry faces today are only going to get tougher. Over three dozen reactors in almost two dozen states are at risk of early retirement. And a dozen face the greatest risk of being shut down," he said.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125699
Nuclear Energy is on the downslide thankfully.

Quoting 465. RevElvis:
Big Nuke Company Decides Renewables Are a Better Bet in the US

The world's largest operator of nuclear power plants is dumping its stake in American reactors, turning its focus instead to wind and solar power.

French utility company EDF announced this week that it will sell its stake in Constellation Energy Nuclear Group (CENG), which operates five nuclear reactors in New York and Maryland.

EDF cited cheap power produced by fracked natural gas as the big reason why it's abandoning its American nuclear facilities. But the company said it will now focus its American business strategy not on fossil fuels but on renewable energy.

The French utility's pullout comes as nuclear power plants shutter in California, Florida, and Wisconsin. The price of operating nuclear power plants has risen as the plants have grown older. Hopes of nuclear power being "too cheap to meter" were long ago dashed. Mark Cooper, a senior fellow at the Vermont Law School's Institute for Energy and the Environment, recently published a 40-page obituary [PDF] for the nuclear industry. From an article published a couple of weeks ago in The Plain Dealer:

Cooper, who thinks nuclear energy's cost overruns and frequent shutdowns have always made it more expensive than it appears, recommends that the industry develop an orderly closing plan over the next few years, avoiding the rate chaos that unplanned closings might create.

"In 2013, more (nuclear) capacity retired early than in any year of the U.S. commercial nuclear sector," he said in a press briefing. "In recent months, four reactors have been closed in early retirement, five major up-rates (increases in generating capacity) were cancelled.

"The bottom line is that the tough times the nuclear power industry faces today are only going to get tougher. Over three dozen reactors in almost two dozen states are at risk of early retirement. And a dozen face the greatest risk of being shut down," he said.

more at ReaderSupportedNews.org
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From New Scientist:

Arctic ice grows darker and less reflective

by Fred Pearce

Arctic ice is losing its reflective sheen. It's common knowledge that each summer, more and more of the ice melts leaving the dark waters of the ocean uncovered – a process that accelerates global warming by reducing the amount of solar radiation reflected back into space. Now it turns out that the surviving sea ice is also becoming darker and less reflective.

For the first time, a detailed analysis of 30 years of satellite data for the Arctic Ocean has quantified how much the albedo, or reflectivity, of Arctic ice is diminishing. Aku Riihela of the Finnish Meteorological Institute told New Scientist he estimates that darker ice means the Arctic Ocean's albedo at the end of the summer is of the order of 15 per cent weaker today than it was 30 years ago.

The cause of the darkening, says Riihela, is partly due to thinning ice and the formation of open water fissures, and partly because in the warmer air, ponds of liquid water form on the surface of the ice. The shallow ponds on the ice can dramatically reduce reflectivity and increase the amount of solar radiation that the ice absorbs. "This shows that the increasing melt affects the inner Arctic sea ice, too," said Riihela.

Earlier this year, Marcel Nicolaus of the Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany, reported a trans-polar study aboard a German icebreaker, which found that "more than 50 per cent of the ice cover now consists of thin one-year ice on which the meltwater is particularly widespread".

The melting and darkening of the Arctic is a major factor in climate change. It acts as a positive feedback, because the more ice melts or darkens, the more the Arctic warms and the more ice melts.

It may help explain the speed of Arctic ice loss, which far exceeds the predictions of existing climate models, including those used in the 2007 climate assessment of the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change.

At the end of summer 2012, Arctic sea ice extent hit a record low. Some recent predictions suggest the Arctic Ocean could have no ice left at the end of each summer by 2030.

The authors of the new paper have not yet calculated the effect of their findings on those predictions. But they can only hasten the day when the Arctic is ice-free in summer.

Journal reference: Nature Climate Change: DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1963
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The brass ring of climate modeling


Finding a simple way to express complex climate processes is the ultimate prize. Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, University of Leeds, Colorado State University, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and Carnegie Mellon University developed a simple mathematical model to represent how atmospheric aerosol particles affect the Earth's energy balance through their role in forming cloud droplets. The simple model not only efficiently and effectively describes complex processes, but the results are consistent with those from much more detailed global climate simulations.



"Integrated assessment models used to explore emissions scenarios often use a crude treatment of aerosol indirect effect processes," said Dr. Steven J. Ghan, lead author and atmospheric scientist at PNNL. "Our model fills the need for a simple treatment with a stronger physical basis. The research team applied understanding of the physical mechanisms involved in a diverse set of global aerosol models."

How aerosol particles affect clouds is one of the most difficult challenges facing climate modelers because the processes involved are very complex. (See sidebar, Indirect and Direct Effects of Aerosols). Whether climate models represent this complexity depends on gathering and calculating all the relevant processes, and doing so at every grid cell of the model. This challenge is often formidable and can take an enormous amount of computational power. The simple model developed in this research is much more efficient and produces similar estimates of the global average impact of the aerosol indirect effect in a small fraction of time. This type of solution is useful for improving understanding of what determines the aerosol indirect effect. Scientists can also use it to run multi-century simulations with climate models designed to explore the impacts of different energy technology options.

The research team designed a simple model that uses physically based relationships between emissions, aerosol concentrations, droplet concentrations, cloud reflectance, and the Earth's energy balance, and accounts for spatial variations in both aerosols and clouds.

The model is now available to the university community as a teaching tool and to the integrated assessment community to better represent the complexity of the aerosol indirect effect.


Explore further:Scientists use satellites to measure how pollution particles affect clouds

Member Since: June 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2788
Billionaire environmentalist goes big in Virginia governor's race

Tom Steyer, the environmentalist billionaire who has mounted a national campaign opposing the Keystone XL pipeline, has directed his political operation to spend heavily in the Virginia governor’s race in support of Democrat Terry McAuliffe, POLITICO has learned.

Steyer, a California-based financier, instructed advisers on Friday to launch television ads starting this week. The paid-media blitz from his group, NextGen Climate Action, will be the opening salvo in what’s expected to be a much larger effort aimed at mobilizing and turning out climate-oriented voters in a key off-year gubernatorial race.

The enterprise will be a test both of Steyer’s individual influence in electoral politics, and of the impact of heavily-funded advocacy politics within the Democratic Party. The bet, for Steyer, is that making climate issues a prominent part of the Virginia election will nudge the center of national politics in a greener direction, shaping the political landscape for 2014 and 2016 and giving environmental interests a stronger hand to play in Washington policy debates.

It will be Steyer’s second major foray this year into electoral politics, after he funded a turnout operation in Massachusetts on behalf of now-Sen. Ed Markey in the special election to replace Secretary of State John Kerry. In 2012, he put about $30 million into a successful home-state ballot initiative, Proposition 39, which will require multistate energy companies to pay higher taxes in California.

Plans for Steyer to play in Virginia have been in the works for some time now: his consultants have already polled the state and drawn up plans for an extensive voter contact and turnout effort. But the timetable for spending money on television accelerated last week in reaction to stepped-up advertising on the Republican side.

In a lengthy interview with POLITICO, Steyer outlined the thinking behind his decision to engage in Virginia, calling Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli an environmentalist’s nightmare and describing the 2013 election as an opportunity to send a national message about the power of climate-oriented politics.

“I would say there’s a very clear choice on this topic between these two candidates, and I think the citizens of Virginia deserve to understand both what the truth is and what the implications of that are,” Steyer said, in a wide-ranging conversation that began during a visit to Richmond and continued through his drive up to Washington D.C.

Climate has already become a flashpoint in the race between McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee; and Cuccinelli, the sitting state attorney general. McAuliffe has run ads accusing Cuccinelli of a “witch hunt” against University of Virginia climate scientist Michael Mann, who was the subject of a probe by Cuccinelli’s office into whether Mann manipulated climate data. The Virginia Supreme Court later ruled that Cuccinelli did not have the authority to investigate Mann’s research, and other reviews cleared Mann of wrongdoing.

Cuccinelli, meanwhile, has said on the campaign trail that McAuliffe is an instrument of national liberal interests, including environmental groups hostile to Virginia’s historic connection to the coal industry. In addition to charging that McAuliffe will put fossil-fuel jobs at risk, Cuccinelli and his allies have attacked McAuliffe’s role in founding and promoting the company GreenTech Automotive, an electric-car manufacturer that has not produced the jobs or the cars it initially promised.

Steyer’s involvement in the Virginia race is likely to raise the already-significant stakes in the debate over energy and the environment, elevating a set of issues that reflect the left-right cultural gap between McAuliffe and Cuccinelli.

“It’s no surprise Terry McAuliffe is depending on yet another rich, national Democrat — instead of grassroots support from Virginians — in his campaign for governor,” Cuccinelli press secretary Anna Nix said. “Radical environmentalist Tom Steyer will be a strong addition to McAuliffe’s War on Coal, which will raise electricity prices on every Virginian and destroy the economy of Southwest Virginia. Unlike Ken Cuccinelli who has a long history of defending the coal industry and putting the needs of Virginians first, Terry McAuliffe once again shows that his loyalties lie with advancing the agendas of his campaign donors instead of doing what’s best for the Commonwealth.”

While Steyer’s first overt move in Virginia comes in the form of paid television advertising, he told POLITICO repeatedly that he views get-out-the-vote efforts as a better overall investment, along with digital advertising and other, less-traditional independent expenditure methods.

“Our going-in assumption is that the bulk of what we’re doing is field – is enabling the citizens to literally speak to each other,” Steyer said. Referring to the Prop. 39 fight, he explained: “Our sense in California was that technology enabled a lot of viewers to just skip our ads.”

He added on a wry note: “The other thing that’s true, as I’m sure you know, is the traditional way for consultants to get paid is through a percentage of the TV buy … So it’s like you say, you know, ‘There’s a flood in Afghanistan.’ And they’ll say, ‘We need a bigger TV buy.’”

The billionaire freely acknowledged that he was a newcomer to Virginia, but in a whirlwind tour of Richmond last week, he introduced himself to a number of prominent figures in the state political and clean-energy communities.

Steyer met in Virginia’s capital city Thursday with a collection of climate activists and another group of about 20 energy executives. One of those executives – Mike Healy of Skyline Innovations, who invited Steyer to Richmond in the first place – delivered a letter signed by several colleagues asking that Steyer use his financial firepower in the governor’s race.

The consensus in that meeting, Steyer said, was that the advanced-energy sector could pack a much bigger punch in state politics if it were better organized politically and more deliberate about pushing the message that green policies can translate into jobs. (And, it goes without saying, if a deep-pocketed out-of-state figure would be willing to deliver a nuclear-level strike against a politician like Cuccinelli.)

The cheerful hedge fund executive-turned-activist said he came away from Richmond convinced that Virginia is a “business-oriented state” that is primed to move in a greener direction. Voters, Steyer said, would be more persuaded of the value of environmentally safe energy if they heard about the number of jobs that Virginia’s clean-tech and energy efficiency firms can create, relative to the coal and fossil-fuel sector.

“Our experience has been that having a business voice talking about jobs is an essential part of talking about any economic change,” Steyer said. “If you get away from that, then you get away from what the human beings in this society care about.”

The Virginia coal sector, he said, gets “amazing deference for a whole bunch of reasons, including the fact that there’s very high unemployment there, that there’s not a second job if those jobs go away, the … toughness of that job and how painful it’s been for everybody involved.

“But there’s no sense of, what are the alternatives? How many jobs are we giving up by doing that? If we start going in a different direction, how much growth are we going to engender?”

Steyer and his advisers emphasized that the groups he met with in Richmond made it clear that his involvement in the state would be welcome – an important hurdle for Steyer, who said it’s his perception that parts of Virginia have “a really strong insider-outsider culture.” He explained that in his view, political advocacy only works when it matches up with authentic local sentiments.

“People in California do not want people in Virginia to come in and tell them what to do. I bet the same is true of Virginia, for people from California,” Steyer said. (In parts of coal country, in particular, Steyer said: “It doesn’t matter if you’re telling them to tie shoes; it’s a very strong, independent culture that wants to make up its own mind and the people don’t want to be told what to do. Hasn’t that been the cliché since they were shooting IRS agents?”)

Still, even before the visit to Richmond, Steyer’s team had laid the groundwork for a sustained and expensive investment in the governor’s race. On his car ride to Washington, Steyer placed a phone call to Democratic state Sen. Donald McEachin and made it plain that he intended to leave a big footprint in the 2013 election.

“We’d like to win with the message being clear, so that there’s a discussion coming out of it and a mandate of what the right things to do are,” he said, sitting feet away from a POLITICO reporter. “We have spent a lot of time thinking about this. It’s not like we’re coming from a standing start.”

During the same Richmond-to-D.C. trip, Steyer’s political advisers, including Tigercomm PR consultant Mike Casey and GMMB ad man John Rimel, urged their client to consider moving up plans for TV advertising to counter a new wave of ads from the Republican Governors Association. The RGA ads, which were booked early last week, totaled over $400,000 in broadcast and cable airtime statewide, according to two media-tracking sources.

The next day, Steyer convened a meeting of the various consultants working on his Virginia efforts. They included strategists from the media firm GMMB and the polling firm Benenson Strategy Group, which both worked for President Barack Obama in 2012, as well as the voter targeting and GOTV firms Grassroots Solutions and Winning Connections. His chief adviser, California-based Democratic strategist Chris Lehane, was not present at the meeting Friday but has steered Steyer’s political operation from the opposite coast.

After reviewing the full battle plan for the fall campaign, Steyer gave the go-ahead for immediate TV advertising, citing the RGA buy, and green-lighted the larger-scale effort for the Virginia general election.

For as much as he’s determined to make Virginia a test case for his brand of pro-business, pro-environment, left-of-center politics, Steyer had relatively little to say about McAuliffe, a man Steyer said he has met but does not know well.

“I think he would be a good governor,” Steyer said in the interview. “I think he’s pretty much a business Democrat. I hope it’s what Virginia wants. I’m a business Democrat.”


Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/08/tom-steyer-t erry-mcauliffe-virginia-governor-race-95174_Page3. html#ixzz2bCQo5SLl
Member Since: November 1, 2006 Posts: 71 Comments: 20123
Quoting 539. zampaz:

Count me in!
Some nuclear technologies are so promising...



There you are...

Problem is heat and salt don't mix... It is the enemy of the all the power industry... OTEC combined with Gulfstream kinetic energy is the solution to Fossil Fuel GHG pollution 24/7/365....
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20221
Quoting 539. zampaz:

Count me in!
Some nuclear technologies are so promising...



Here you go- a home made reactor!
Link

He had a great idea, but it sounded a little risky to me :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
This in from Eli's Rabett Run this morning:

The AGU has issued its revised statement on climate change, approved by the fifteen member committee chaired by Gerald North with one (predictable) dissent.



Human induced climate change requires urgent action.


Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years.
Rapid societal responses can significantly lessen negative outcomes.


Human activities are changing Earth’s climate. At the global level, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other heat trapping greenhouse gases have increased sharply since the Industrial Revolution. Fossil fuel burning dominates this increase. Human caused increases in greenhouse gases are responsible for most of the observed global average surface warming of roughly 0.8°C (1.5°F) over the past 140 years. Because natural processes cannot quickly remove some of these gases (notably carbon dioxide) from the atmosphere, our past, present, and future emissions will influence the climate
system for millennia.

Extensive, independent observations confirm the reality of global warming. These observations show large scale increases in air and sea temperatures, sea level, and atmospheric water vapor; they document decreases in the extent of mountain glaciers, snow cover, permafrost, and Arctic sea ice. These changes are broadly consistent with long understood physics and predictions of how the climate system is expected to respond to human caused increases in greenhouse gases. The changes are inconsistent with explanations of climate change that rely on known natural influences.

Climate models predict that global temperatures will continue to rise, with the amount of warming primarily determined by the level of emissions. Higher emissions of greenhouse gases will lead to larger warming, and greater risks to society and ecosystems. Some additional warming is unavoidable due to past emissions.

Climate chan ge is not expected to be uniform over space or time. Deforestation, urbanization, and particulate pollution can have complex geographical, seasonal, and longer term effects on temperature, precipitation, and cloud properties. In addition, human induced climate change may alter atmospheric circulation, dislocating historical patterns of natural variability and storminess.

In the current climate, weather experienced at a given location or region varies from year to year; in a changing climate, both the nature of that variability and the basic patterns of weather experienced can change, sometimes in counterintuitive ways -- some areas may experience cooling, for instance. This raises no challenge to the reality of human induced climate change.

Impacts harmful to society, including increased extremes of heat, precipitation, and coastal high water are currently being experienced, and are projected to increase. Other projected outcomes involve threats to public health, water availability, agricultural productivity (particularly in low latitude developing countries), and coastal infrastructure, though some benefits may be seen at some times and places. Biodiversity loss is expected to accelerate due to both climate change and acidification of the oceans, which is a direct result of increasing carbon dioxide levels.

While important scientific uncertainties remain as to which particular impacts will be experienced where, no uncertainties are known that could make the impacts of climate change inconsequential. Furthermore, surprise outcomes, such as the unexpectedly rapid loss of Arctic summer sea ice, may entail even more dramatic changes than anticipated.

Actions that could diminish the threats posed by climate change to society and ecosystems include substantial emissions cuts to reduce the magnitude of climate change, as well as preparing for changes that are now unavoidable. The community of scientists has responsibilities to improve overall understanding of climate change and its impacts. Improvements will come from pursuing the research needed to understand climate change, working with stakeholders to identify relevant information, and conveying understanding clearly and accurately, both to decision makers and to the general public.

Adopted by the American Geophysical Union
December 2003; Revised and Reaffirmed December 2007, February 2012, August 2013.

The 15-person panel that reviewed and updated the position statement included the following:

•Amy Clement, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami (approve)
•John Farrington, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (approve)
•Susan Joy Hassol, Climate Communication (approve)
•Robert Hirsch, U.S. Geological Survey (approve)
•Peter Huybers, Harvard University (approve)
•Peter Lemke, Alfred Wegener Institute (approve)
•Gerald North, Texas A&M University (approve, panel chair)
•Michael Oppenheimer, Princeton University (approve)
•Roger Pielke Sr., University of Colorado Boulder (dissent)
•Ben Santer, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (approve)
•Gavin Schmidt, Goddard Institute for Space Studies, NASA (approve)
•Leonard A. Smith, London School of Economics (approve)
•Eric Sundquist, U.S. Geological Survey (approve)
•Pieter Tans, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (approve)
It is notable here that the committee was quite willing to vote the statement out based on a strong consensus but not unanimity. As Eli noted in December last after attending the Fall AGU meeting, climate scientists are not only 97% for the proposition that the climate is changing driven by human influences but that it is also dangerous. Action to stop carbon emissions is needed immediately.

The mood of the attendees had shifted. It was much sourer about the few in the atmospheric science community still running interference for inactivism. People were being called out in private, but also in public and not just in sessions dealing with education and communication and blogging.

It is now clear to the climate science community that keeping your head down has not been an effective option for climate scientists for quite a while (see Kathryn Hayhoe). The denialists and their funders are coming for you in the Niemoeller sense, sooner or later. This means that many in the community have woken up. Those who do not, or believe they cannot, are feeling guilty about not supporting the science they are part of. Those folks need to be encouraged and supported and come out.
Member Since: June 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2788
Quoting 531. Birthmark:

Who wants to go in halfsies on planning a nuclear power plant in FL? SMH.

Count me in!
Some nuclear technologies are so promising...

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 523. yoboi:

Do you ever have an honest discussion with yourself and just say we are screwed????


Yeah, and I already bent over to pick up the soap.
Don't give up Yoboi, there's hope!
Every challenge presents an opportunity to explore your imagination for possible solutions.
Luckily for me I was in the girls shower ;)
Our species has a new opportunity to evolve.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 536. zampaz:

Here I am,
Thanks for asking!
Sorry, been busy on sci-fi writing projects and working on improving communications skills!
Good grief, lots to catch up on...it's 0430, don't know if I should go to bed or have morning coffee...
COFFEE wins the toss :) HOORAY COFFEE!
-z

Boat --the same one I am in. Same decision I made, too. /Yoda
Member Since: October 30, 2005 Posts: 7 Comments: 5279
Quoting 421. cyclonebuster:
Where is zampaz?

Here I am,
Thanks for asking!
Sorry, been busy on sci-fi writing projects and working on improving communications skills!
Good grief, lots to catch up on...it's 0430, don't know if I should go to bed or have morning coffee...
COFFEE wins the toss :) HOORAY COFFEE!
-z
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 531. Birthmark:

Who wants to go in halfsies on planning a nuclear power plant in FL? SMH.


No way the heat that is generated by nukes gets trapped by fossil fuel GHG's...
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20221
Now Hiring: 210,000 Workers to Cut Carbon Pollution (Op-Ed)

Over the past several decades, power plants have curtailed their emissions of harmful pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, soot and mercury. This has saved lives, cleaned rivers and lakes and created tens of thousands of jobs in clean-technology industries. But power plants have continued to pump unlimited amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, with disastrous consequences. That pollution has been warming the climate, leading to an increase in deadly and destructive storms, droughts, floods and wildfires. Cutting dangerous carbon pollution now is imperative to protect public health.

It's also — as cutting pollution has proved to be in the past — a good way to create jobs.

In Massachusetts, dubbed the most energy-efficient state in the nation for two years running, Gov. Deval Patrick's goals of reducing energy consumption and cutting greenhouse-gas pollution have spurred the growth of start-up companies like Next Step Living, which specializes in reducing residential energy waste.

Massachusetts is still pushing for more efficiency, launching a major initiative this year to retrofit 700 state-owned facilities — some 4,000 buildings, from swimming pools to police barracks to university campuses — with energy-efficient equipment, lighting, heating and cooling systems. The move is expected to save the state government, the biggest consumer of electricity in the commonwealth, $43 million in energy costs annually. It will also create 4,000 jobs in Massachusetts.

Last month, Hawaii announced a similar large-scale energy initiative to revamp airports, universities and other public buildings with energy-efficient appliances, lighting and cooling systems. The plan will help the state meet its goal of achieving 70 percent clean energy by 2030, and is also expected to generate 5,000 jobs on the islands.

article at LiveScience.com
Member Since: September 18, 2005 Posts: 25 Comments: 948
Coal Plants Are Victims of Their Own Economics

During the presidential campaign last fall, a single message was repeated endlessly in Appalachian coal country: President Barack Obama and his Environmental Protection Agency, critics said, had declared a "war on coal" that was shuttering U.S. coal-fired power plants and putting coal miners out of work. Not so, according to a detailed analysis of coal plant finances and economics presented here yesterday at the annual meeting of AAAS (which publishes ScienceNOW). Instead, coal is losing its battle with other power sources mostly on its merits.

Although the United States has long generated the bulk of its electricity from coal, over the past 6 years that share has fallen from 50% to 38%. Plans for more than 150 new coal-fired power plants have been canceled since the mid-2000s, existing plants have been closed, and in 2012, just one new coal-fired power plant went online in the United States. To investigate the reasons for this decline, David Schlissel, an energy economist and founder of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis in Belmont, Massachusetts, dove deeply into the broader economics of the industry and the detailed finances of individual power plants.

Schlissel, who serves as a paid expert witness at state public utility board hearings for both utilities and advocacy groups that oppose coal plants, found several reasons for coal%u2019s decline. Over the past decade, construction costs have risen sharply, he said. For example, when the Prairie State Energy Campus in southern Illinois, which opened last year, was first proposed, its then-owner, Peabody Energy, said it would cost $1.8 billion to build. Instead it cost more than $4.9 billion.


more at ScienceMag.org


Bad news, coal industry: Proposed export terminal is in for a tough review (Grist.org)

Activists Raise Awareness of Toxic Coal Pollution in Our Waterways (TreeHugger.com
Member Since: September 18, 2005 Posts: 25 Comments: 948
Ignoring climate change is like driving on to a collapsed bridge

Climate pie chart

William Skaggs in Scientific American compares not taking action on the climate change crisis to driving towards accelerating towards a bridge that may have collapsed, because we're not 100% sure each decision will end in disaster.

Climate depends on lots of variables in complicated ways, and many of them have not been measured with much precision. But if we stop talking about certainty and simply focus on the odds, then the situation clears greatly. There may be a few semi-plausible models that fail to predict serious warming, but the majority of models — and the models that have the greatest acceptance in the community — certainly do. Even if a skeptic prefers the models that don’t predict warming, can the skeptic really be *sure* that they are the correct ones?

If one isn’t sure, then to argue against any action at all is to behave like Larry Jones. A skeptic need not believe that we must immediately destroy the world’s economy by shutting down our use of fossil fuels — it would be just as stupid for Larry Jones to jam down the brakes in the middle of the freeway as to do nothing — but even a skeptic must see that prudence calls for slowing down, getting as much information as we can, and making contingency plans.

TreeHugger.com
Member Since: September 18, 2005 Posts: 25 Comments: 948
Quoting 529. RevElvis:
Duke Kills Florida Nuclear Project, Keeps Customers' Money

Who wants to go in halfsies on planning a nuclear power plant in FL? SMH.
Member Since: October 30, 2005 Posts: 7 Comments: 5279
Quoting 528. overwash12:
Have faith,there are still some good people in this world. You are one of them!

I won't be satisfied until I am two of them. As I understand it, this will require several more rather severe blows to the head. That's really no problem, though, as there is more than a sufficient number of volunteers. :)
Member Since: October 30, 2005 Posts: 7 Comments: 5279
Duke Kills Florida Nuclear Project, Keeps Customers' Money

The decision by Duke Energy (DUK) to scuttle a proposed nuclear reactor project in central Florida leaves utility customers in the state with a tab of more than $1 billion—most of it already paid to Duke—for unbuilt plants that may never produce a single kilowatt of energy. That’s proved a powerful irritant for customers in the Sunshine State, where air conditioning is a necessity for much of the year.

The company said Thursday that it will halt construction on two reactors planned for Levy County, north of Tampa, after their estimated date of completion had stretched into 2024 at a projected cost of some $24 billion. Duke inherited the project as part of its purchase of Progress Energy last year, which made it the nation’s largest power utility. Duke’s decision also calls into question whether another large utility in the state, Florida Power and Light (NEE), will proceed with two new reactors it plans near Homestead, south of Miami.

“Consumers should rejoice that the fleecing will end by one of the companies in this long and unfortunate chapter in Florida energy history, where utilities have conspired with legislators and the Public Service Commission to take advantage of Florida consumers,” said Stephen Smith, executive director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, an organization that has criticized plans for nuclear power plants in several states. The group held a conference call Friday to discuss the project’s end. “The bad news about all of this is clearly that consumers have paid literally billions of dollars for a facility that they are going to get no value from.”

The primary reason for those huge sums? Lawmakers in at least three states have allowed utilities to recoup their engineering and planning costs from customers years before any construction begins on new plants. Florida legislators passed the first such law in 2006, followed by Georgia and South Carolina. A lawsuit over the Florida measure went to the state Supreme Court, which ruled it constitutional. Multiple efforts to repeal the law have failed.


article at www.businessweek.com
Member Since: September 18, 2005 Posts: 25 Comments: 948
Quoting 527. Birthmark:

I'm not worried about me. But, yeah, people generally are screwed IF things continue on their present track, politically and environmentally. That sounds bad, but America has an amazing habit of coming up with exactly the right kind of person we need to get back on track. I will support that person as long as it's not me. (I know where I've been.)
Have faith,there are still some good people in this world. You are one of them!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 523. yoboi:



Do you ever have an honest discussion with yourself and just say we are screwed????

I'm not worried about me. But, yeah, people generally are screwed IF things continue on their present track, politically and environmentally. That sounds bad, but America has an amazing habit of coming up with exactly the right kind of person we need to get back on track. I will support that person as long as it's not me. (I know where I've been.)
Member Since: October 30, 2005 Posts: 7 Comments: 5279
You're welcome yoboi.
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 25 Comments: 8067
523. yoboi
Quoting 522. Birthmark:

The only "people" that either party is representing is "corporate people." Individual citizens have virtually no one on their side.

The Corporate Dark Age is beginning.



Do you ever have an honest discussion with yourself and just say we are screwed????
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 6 Comments: 2011
Quoting 518. yoboi:


I posted the other day how they had a gag order for children due to fracking.........when oil industry MASTERS lie to the American public about health risk they should be charged with treason......I am tired of both the repukes and demnuts lying........both are only in it for the money.......they don't care about small people anymore.........

The only "people" that either party is representing is "corporate people." Individual citizens have virtually no one on their side.

The Corporate Dark Age is beginning.
Member Since: October 30, 2005 Posts: 7 Comments: 5279
Quoting 519. cyclonebuster:
Do they count the lakes/ponds and moulins as part of Greenlands ice extent/mass?

I doubt it shows up in the mass balance since those are done seasonally, afaik.

Melt ponds won't make a difference in extent, only area --assuming that extent and area are calculated the same for Greenland as they are for Arctic Sea Ice. But I can't say for sure. Good questions!
Member Since: October 30, 2005 Posts: 7 Comments: 5279
520. yoboi
Quoting 519. cyclonebuster:
Do they count the lakes/ponds and moulins as part of Greenlands ice extent/mass?


It depends......
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 6 Comments: 2011
Do they count the lakes/ponds and moulins as part of Greenlands ice extent/mass?
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20221
518. yoboi
Quoting 516. JohnLonergan:
From DeSmogBlog:

Exclusive: Censored EPA PA Fracking Water Contamination Presentation Published for First Time



DeSmogBlog has obtained a copy of an Obama Administration Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fracking groundwater contamination PowerPoint presentation describing a then-forthcoming study's findings in Dimock, Pennsylvania.

The PowerPoint presentation reveals a clear link between hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") for shale gas in Dimock and groundwater contamination, but was censored by the Obama Administration. Instead, the EPA issued an official desk statement in July 2012 - in the thick of election year - saying the water in Dimock was safe for consumption.

Titled "Isotech-Stable Isotype Analysis: Determinining the Origin of Methane and Its Effets on the Aquifer," the PowerPoint presentation concludes that in Cabot Oil and Gas' Dimock Gesford 2 well, "Drilling creates pathways, either temporary or permanent, that allows gas to migrate to the shallow aquifer near [the] surface...In some cases, these gases disrupt groundwater quality."

Other charts depict Cabot's Gesford 3 and 9 wells as doing much of the same, allowing methane to migrate up to aquifers to unprecedented levels - not coincidentally - coinciding with the wells being fracked. The PowerPoint's conclusions are damning.


"Methane is released during the drilling and perhaps during the fracking process and other gas well work," the presentation states. "Methane is at significantly higher concentrations in the aquifers after gas drilling and perhaps as a result of fracking and other gas well work...Methane and other gases released during drilling (including air from the drilling) apparently cause significant damage to the water quality."

Despite the findings, the official EPA desk statement concluded any groundwater contamination in Dimock was "naturally occurring."

"EPA found hazardous substances, specifically arsenic, barium or manganese, all of which are also naturally occurring substances, in well water at five homes at levels that could present a health concern," read the EPA desk statement. "EPA has provided the residents with all of their sampling results and has no further plans to conduct additional drinking water sampling in Dimock."

Two EPA whistleblowers recently approached the American Tradition Institute and revealed politics were at-play in the decision to censor the EPA's actual findings in Dimock. At the heart of the cover-up was former EPA head Lisa Jackson.

Former EPA Head Lisa Jackson's Role in Censoring Report

EnergyWire's Mike Soraghan explained the studies were dropped - according to one of the unidentified whistleblowers close to the field team in Dimock - "out of fear the inquiries would hurt President Obama's re-election chances."

Though the two EPA career employees' initial findings pointed to water contamination in Dimock - as seen in the PowerPoint presentation - their superiors told them to stop the investigation, in turn motivating them to blow the whistle.

One of the whistleblowers said he came forward due to witnessing "patently unethical and possibility illegal acts conducted by EPA management."

"I have for over a year now worked within the system to try and make right the injustice and apparent unethical acts I witnessed. I have not been alone in this effort," the unnamed whistleblower told Soraghan. "I took an oath when I became a federal employee that I assume very solemnly."



Former EPA Head Lisa Jackson, now Apple Environmental Advisor; Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

At the center of the management team overseeing the false desk statement: former EPA head Lisa Jackson, who now works as Apple's top environmental advisor. Jackson was recently replaced by just-confirmed EPA head Gina McCarthy.

This was revealed by the other whistleblower, who as part of the regular duties of his job, was a member of the "HQ-Dimock" email listserv. On that list, Jackson went by the pseudonym "Richard Windsor" as a way to shield her real name from potential Freedom of Information Act requests.

"Many members of the email group...were lawyers and members of Lisa Jackson's inner political circle," explained Soraghan.

Key Freedom of Information Act Filed

American Tradition Institute has filed two FOIA's in response to the whistleblowers coming forward.

"One FOIA request seeks certain e-mails, text messages, or instant messages of three specified EPA field staff which are to, from or make reference to the White House or EPA HQ," explained ATI. "The second FOIA request focuses on emails sent as part of the ‘HQ-Dimock’ discussion group. Both requests cover the seven-month period from December 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012."

Natural Resources Defense Council - which has also been critical of the EPA on this issue - is suspicious of ATI's motives in this case.

ATI is more well-known for denying climate change's existence and "ClimateGate" in particular. Yet, when push comes to shove, NRDC's Kate Sinding approves of ATI's FOIA filing and looks forward to what it discovers.

"It appears to be an attempt to bully EPA out of these cases," Sinding told EnergyWire. "If their request results in getting more information about the decisionmaking, that's good information for everyone. But I question their motivation."

"Hide It, Drop It, Forget About It"

The real question at the heart of the matter: What were the EPA's motives for doing an about-face on a key multi-year tax-payer subsidized study?

"It is unconscionable that, in the name of political expediency, the Obama Administration suppressed key information that would have connected the dots between fracking and water contamination," Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food and Water Watch told DeSmogBlog. "Gina McCarthy must put the health and safety of Americans first and prevent the agency from succumbing to political pressure."

Scott Ely - a former Cabot employee and Dimock resident who has three small children and whose water was contaminated by Cabot - expressed similar despair over EPA abandoning ship in this high-profile study.

"When does anybody just stand by the truth? Why is it that we have a bunch of people in Washington, DC who are trying to manipulate the truth of what's happening to people in Dimock because of the industry?," Ely asked rhetorically.

Ely says he keeps an open line of communications with EPA employees, who regularly check in and caution him not to use his water. The employees remain unidentified for fear of retribution by EPA upper-level management.

"We thought EPA was going to come in and be our savior. And what'd they do? They said the truth can't be known: hide it, drop it, forget about it."


I posted the other day how they had a gag order for children due to fracking.........when oil industry MASTERS lie to the American public about health risk they should be charged with treason......I am tired of both the repukes and demnuts lying........both are only in it for the money.......they don't care about small people anymore.........
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 6 Comments: 2011
From Science Daily:

Carbon Emissions to Impact Climate Beyond the Day After Tomorrow

Future warming from fossil fuel burning could be more intense and longer-lasting than previously thought. This prediction emerges from a new study by Richard Zeebe at the University of Hawai'i who includes insights from episodes of climate change in the geologic past to inform projections of human-made future climate change. The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Humans keep adding large amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, among them carbon dioxide (CO2), the most important human-made greenhouse gas. Over the past 250 years, human activities such as fossil fuel burning have raised the atmospheric CO2 concentration by more than 40% over its preindustrial level of 280 ppm (parts per million). In May 2013, the CO2 concentration in Earth's atmosphere surpassed a milestone of 400 ppm for the first time in human history, a level that many scientists consider dangerous territory in terms of its impact on Earth's climate.

A global cooling calamity as depicted in the movie 'The Day After Tomorrow,' though, is very unlikely to be the result of climate change. The globe is likely to become warmer in the near future, and probably a lot warmer in the distant future. Now Zeebe, Professor of Oceanography in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, has examined humankind's long-term legacy of fossil fuel burning.

The study suggests that amplified and prolonged warming due to unabated fossil fuel burning raises the probability that large ice sheets such as the Greenland ice sheet will melt, leading to significant sea level rise.

"When we talk about climate sensitivity, we're referring to how much the planet's global surface temperature rises for a given amount of CO2 in the atmosphere," Zeebe said. A standard value for present-day climate sensitivity is about 3°C per doubling of atmospheric CO2. But according to Zeebe, climate sensitivity could change over time. Zeebe uses past climate episodes as analogs for the future, which suggest that so-called slow climate 'feedbacks' can boost climate sensitivity and amplify warming.

An example of a feedback is the familiar audio feedback experienced when a microphone interacts with a speaker. If the audio output from the speaker is received again by the microphone, the initial audio signal is strongly amplified in a positive feedback loop.

A variety of feedbacks also operate in Earth's climate system. For example, a positive feedback loop exists between temperature, snow cover, and absorption of sunlight. When snow melts in response to warming, more sunlight can be absorbed at Earth's surface because most surfaces have a lower reflectivity than snow. In turn, the additional absorption of sunlight leads to further warming, which leads to more snow melt, and so forth.

Previous studies have usually only included fast climate feedbacks (snow cover, clouds, etc.). Using information from pre-historic climate archives, Zeebe calculated how slow climate feedbacks (land ice, vegetation, etc.) and climate sensitivity may evolve over time. Armed with these tools, Zeebe was able to make new predictions about long-term future climate change.

"The calculations showed that human-made climate change could be more severe and take even longer than we thought before" says Zeebe. Although we will not see immediate effects by tomorrow -- some of the slow processes will only respond over centuries to millennia -- the consequences for long-term ice melt and sea level rise could be substantial. "Politicians may think in four-year terms but we as scientists can and should think in much longer terms. We need to put the impact that humans have on this planet into a historic and geologic context."

"By continuing to put these huge amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, we're gambling with climate and the outcome is still uncertain," Zeebe said. "The legacy of our fossil fuel burning today is a hangover that could last for tens of thousands of years, if not hundreds of thousands of years to come."


Member Since: June 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2788
From DeSmogBlog:

Exclusive: Censored EPA PA Fracking Water Contamination Presentation Published for First Time



DeSmogBlog has obtained a copy of an Obama Administration Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fracking groundwater contamination PowerPoint presentation describing a then-forthcoming study's findings in Dimock, Pennsylvania.

The PowerPoint presentation reveals a clear link between hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") for shale gas in Dimock and groundwater contamination, but was censored by the Obama Administration. Instead, the EPA issued an official desk statement in July 2012 - in the thick of election year - saying the water in Dimock was safe for consumption.

Titled "Isotech-Stable Isotype Analysis: Determinining the Origin of Methane and Its Effets on the Aquifer," the PowerPoint presentation concludes that in Cabot Oil and Gas' Dimock Gesford 2 well, "Drilling creates pathways, either temporary or permanent, that allows gas to migrate to the shallow aquifer near [the] surface...In some cases, these gases disrupt groundwater quality."

Other charts depict Cabot's Gesford 3 and 9 wells as doing much of the same, allowing methane to migrate up to aquifers to unprecedented levels - not coincidentally - coinciding with the wells being fracked. The PowerPoint's conclusions are damning.


"Methane is released during the drilling and perhaps during the fracking process and other gas well work," the presentation states. "Methane is at significantly higher concentrations in the aquifers after gas drilling and perhaps as a result of fracking and other gas well work...Methane and other gases released during drilling (including air from the drilling) apparently cause significant damage to the water quality."

Despite the findings, the official EPA desk statement concluded any groundwater contamination in Dimock was "naturally occurring."

"EPA found hazardous substances, specifically arsenic, barium or manganese, all of which are also naturally occurring substances, in well water at five homes at levels that could present a health concern," read the EPA desk statement. "EPA has provided the residents with all of their sampling results and has no further plans to conduct additional drinking water sampling in Dimock."

Two EPA whistleblowers recently approached the American Tradition Institute and revealed politics were at-play in the decision to censor the EPA's actual findings in Dimock. At the heart of the cover-up was former EPA head Lisa Jackson.

Former EPA Head Lisa Jackson's Role in Censoring Report

EnergyWire's Mike Soraghan explained the studies were dropped - according to one of the unidentified whistleblowers close to the field team in Dimock - "out of fear the inquiries would hurt President Obama's re-election chances."

Though the two EPA career employees' initial findings pointed to water contamination in Dimock - as seen in the PowerPoint presentation - their superiors told them to stop the investigation, in turn motivating them to blow the whistle.

One of the whistleblowers said he came forward due to witnessing "patently unethical and possibility illegal acts conducted by EPA management."

"I have for over a year now worked within the system to try and make right the injustice and apparent unethical acts I witnessed. I have not been alone in this effort," the unnamed whistleblower told Soraghan. "I took an oath when I became a federal employee that I assume very solemnly."



Former EPA Head Lisa Jackson, now Apple Environmental Advisor; Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

At the center of the management team overseeing the false desk statement: former EPA head Lisa Jackson, who now works as Apple's top environmental advisor. Jackson was recently replaced by just-confirmed EPA head Gina McCarthy.

This was revealed by the other whistleblower, who as part of the regular duties of his job, was a member of the "HQ-Dimock" email listserv. On that list, Jackson went by the pseudonym "Richard Windsor" as a way to shield her real name from potential Freedom of Information Act requests.

"Many members of the email group...were lawyers and members of Lisa Jackson's inner political circle," explained Soraghan.

Key Freedom of Information Act Filed

American Tradition Institute has filed two FOIA's in response to the whistleblowers coming forward.

"One FOIA request seeks certain e-mails, text messages, or instant messages of three specified EPA field staff which are to, from or make reference to the White House or EPA HQ," explained ATI. "The second FOIA request focuses on emails sent as part of the ‘HQ-Dimock’ discussion group. Both requests cover the seven-month period from December 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012."

Natural Resources Defense Council - which has also been critical of the EPA on this issue - is suspicious of ATI's motives in this case.

ATI is more well-known for denying climate change's existence and "ClimateGate" in particular. Yet, when push comes to shove, NRDC's Kate Sinding approves of ATI's FOIA filing and looks forward to what it discovers.

"It appears to be an attempt to bully EPA out of these cases," Sinding told EnergyWire. "If their request results in getting more information about the decisionmaking, that's good information for everyone. But I question their motivation."

"Hide It, Drop It, Forget About It"

The real question at the heart of the matter: What were the EPA's motives for doing an about-face on a key multi-year tax-payer subsidized study?

"It is unconscionable that, in the name of political expediency, the Obama Administration suppressed key information that would have connected the dots between fracking and water contamination," Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food and Water Watch told DeSmogBlog. "Gina McCarthy must put the health and safety of Americans first and prevent the agency from succumbing to political pressure."

Scott Ely - a former Cabot employee and Dimock resident who has three small children and whose water was contaminated by Cabot - expressed similar despair over EPA abandoning ship in this high-profile study.

"When does anybody just stand by the truth? Why is it that we have a bunch of people in Washington, DC who are trying to manipulate the truth of what's happening to people in Dimock because of the industry?," Ely asked rhetorically.

Ely says he keeps an open line of communications with EPA employees, who regularly check in and caution him not to use his water. The employees remain unidentified for fear of retribution by EPA upper-level management.

"We thought EPA was going to come in and be our savior. And what'd they do? They said the truth can't be known: hide it, drop it, forget about it."
Member Since: June 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2788
Quoting 514. JohnLonergan:
Extensive Dark Snow, Very Large Melt Lakes Visible Over West Slope of Greenland as Late Season Melt Pulse Continues



A strong, late-season melt pulse continued over the Greenland ice sheet this weekend as melt covered a much greater portion of the ice sheet than is typical for this time of year. As of late July, the area of the Greenland ice sheet subject to melt had spiked to nearly 45%. Soon after, a second melt spike to around 38% followed. Over the past two weeks, melt area coverage has fluctuated between 5 and 25 percentage points above the seasonal average for this time of year, maintaining at or above the typical melt season maximum of around 25% for almost all of this time.

This late-season melt surge was driven by a switch in the polar Jet Stream. A trough which had dominated through much of summer, bringing near average temperatures and melt conditions, had eroded and by late July a broad ridge began to form. This high amplitude wave dredged warm air up from as far south as the south-eastern US, then dumped it on the west facing coast of Greenland. There, last week, a new record all time high temperature of 78.6 degrees (Fahrenheit) shattered Greenland%u2019s previous highest temperature of 77.9 degrees.

And this record heat is beginning to have a very visible affect on the ice. Aqua satellite passes this weekend recorded a visible darkening of ice cover in the region most greatly impacted by high temperatures last week. The snow and ice cover there has taken on a sooty appearance with darker gray tendrils finding their way deep into the ice pack. At the same time, large melt lakes expanded over the region with some of these lakes measuring more than three kilometers across.

In this first Modis shot we see a broad region of darkened, melt-pond speckled ice forming over a very large swath of Greenland%u2019s western ice sheet:



For reference, Baffin Bay is toward the left of the image, the southern tip of Greenland, toward the bottom, and the far right frame of the image runs about down the center-line of the south Greenland ice spur. Note the swatch of dark ice that appears much like dirty snow running down western side of the ice sheet. This major melt region, at its widest, appears to dive as much as 100 miles into the ice sheet. Even at this level of resolution, we can see the large melt lakes speckling the inland border of this darkened region.

Zooming in to a region where melt appears to have penetrated deepest into the ice pack, we find even more dramatic features.



The orientation of this particular image is the same as the larger image above, but we have just zoomed in to a large, central melt region. Toward the coast, we can see melt and ice flowing into channels and fjords. Adjacent to this rocky coastal zone is a region of more rapidly mobile and fractured ice flows. Few melt ponds are visible in this region and this is, likely, due to the large fissures and steep vertical faces that cover most of the ice surface in this area. It is beyond this boundary margin and inward toward the ice sheet%u2019s center that we find a second region of very dark snow and ice. This area shows some large melt ponds, but its prominent feature is an almost complete loss of reflective snow cover with lower layers of soot deposition and darker sediment now exposed. Still further in, we find the third, and arguably most dramatic, melt zone. This particular area is coated, not in dark gray, but in blue. It is a feature primarily caused by a very extensive surface melt covering much of this region. In this single picture, we can count over a hundred large melt lakes mostly dominating this region. They range in size from about a half kilometer to over three kilometers across. Connecting these lakes is what appears to be a web of melt rivers, some of which terminate in moulins that core into the glacier%u2019s heart, delivering warm melt water the frigid ice%u2019s center and base. The general bluish color of this region indicates a very high degree of melt with puddles and pools below the 250 meter resolution of this particular satellite shot lending an azure tint to the ice.

Conditions in Context

Over the past two decades, Greenland has shown a very disturbing and rapid melt response to human-caused warming. During the mid 1990s, Greenland began to show a net loss of ice mass. Through the 2000s, this melt rate accelerated, growing generally, but rapidly peaking in rather disturbing melt surges as warm weather conditions grew more extreme during certain years. By 2012, a very extreme melt year had occurred, resulting in ice sheet losses on the order of 700 cubic kilometers in just one year. These peak melt years appeared to re-cur at a rate of once every 2-5 years even as overall average melt from Greenland grew to a disturbing 500 cubic kilometers by the early 2010s.

Even worse, sensors deep within the ice sheet indicated that the ice sheet had become more mobile, increasing in velocity by about 2-3 percent each year since 2010.

Though 2013 does not appear to be a peak melt year, as weather conditions have favored less melt than in 2012, the continued softening of the Greenland ice sheet remains a very disturbing summer feature. This year%u2019s west coast melt has been particularly dramatic, with the most recent shots shown above featuring some of the worst melts I have yet witnessed.



Do they count the lakes/ponds and moulins as part of Greenlands ice extent/mass?
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20221
Extensive Dark Snow, Very Large Melt Lakes Visible Over West Slope of Greenland as Late Season Melt Pulse Continues



A strong, late-season melt pulse continued over the Greenland ice sheet this weekend as melt covered a much greater portion of the ice sheet than is typical for this time of year. As of late July, the area of the Greenland ice sheet subject to melt had spiked to nearly 45%. Soon after, a second melt spike to around 38% followed. Over the past two weeks, melt area coverage has fluctuated between 5 and 25 percentage points above the seasonal average for this time of year, maintaining at or above the typical melt season maximum of around 25% for almost all of this time.

This late-season melt surge was driven by a switch in the polar Jet Stream. A trough which had dominated through much of summer, bringing near average temperatures and melt conditions, had eroded and by late July a broad ridge began to form. This high amplitude wave dredged warm air up from as far south as the south-eastern US, then dumped it on the west facing coast of Greenland. There, last week, a new record all time high temperature of 78.6 degrees (Fahrenheit) shattered Greenland’s previous highest temperature of 77.9 degrees.

And this record heat is beginning to have a very visible affect on the ice. Aqua satellite passes this weekend recorded a visible darkening of ice cover in the region most greatly impacted by high temperatures last week. The snow and ice cover there has taken on a sooty appearance with darker gray tendrils finding their way deep into the ice pack. At the same time, large melt lakes expanded over the region with some of these lakes measuring more than three kilometers across.

In this first Modis shot we see a broad region of darkened, melt-pond speckled ice forming over a very large swath of Greenland’s western ice sheet:



For reference, Baffin Bay is toward the left of the image, the southern tip of Greenland, toward the bottom, and the far right frame of the image runs about down the center-line of the south Greenland ice spur. Note the swatch of dark ice that appears much like dirty snow running down western side of the ice sheet. This major melt region, at its widest, appears to dive as much as 100 miles into the ice sheet. Even at this level of resolution, we can see the large melt lakes speckling the inland border of this darkened region.

Zooming in to a region where melt appears to have penetrated deepest into the ice pack, we find even more dramatic features.



The orientation of this particular image is the same as the larger image above, but we have just zoomed in to a large, central melt region. Toward the coast, we can see melt and ice flowing into channels and fjords. Adjacent to this rocky coastal zone is a region of more rapidly mobile and fractured ice flows. Few melt ponds are visible in this region and this is, likely, due to the large fissures and steep vertical faces that cover most of the ice surface in this area. It is beyond this boundary margin and inward toward the ice sheet’s center that we find a second region of very dark snow and ice. This area shows some large melt ponds, but its prominent feature is an almost complete loss of reflective snow cover with lower layers of soot deposition and darker sediment now exposed. Still further in, we find the third, and arguably most dramatic, melt zone. This particular area is coated, not in dark gray, but in blue. It is a feature primarily caused by a very extensive surface melt covering much of this region. In this single picture, we can count over a hundred large melt lakes mostly dominating this region. They range in size from about a half kilometer to over three kilometers across. Connecting these lakes is what appears to be a web of melt rivers, some of which terminate in moulins that core into the glacier’s heart, delivering warm melt water the frigid ice’s center and base. The general bluish color of this region indicates a very high degree of melt with puddles and pools below the 250 meter resolution of this particular satellite shot lending an azure tint to the ice.

Conditions in Context

Over the past two decades, Greenland has shown a very disturbing and rapid melt response to human-caused warming. During the mid 1990s, Greenland began to show a net loss of ice mass. Through the 2000s, this melt rate accelerated, growing generally, but rapidly peaking in rather disturbing melt surges as warm weather conditions grew more extreme during certain years. By 2012, a very extreme melt year had occurred, resulting in ice sheet losses on the order of 700 cubic kilometers in just one year. These peak melt years appeared to re-cur at a rate of once every 2-5 years even as overall average melt from Greenland grew to a disturbing 500 cubic kilometers by the early 2010s.

Even worse, sensors deep within the ice sheet indicated that the ice sheet had become more mobile, increasing in velocity by about 2-3 percent each year since 2010.

Though 2013 does not appear to be a peak melt year, as weather conditions have favored less melt than in 2012, the continued softening of the Greenland ice sheet remains a very disturbing summer feature. This year’s west coast melt has been particularly dramatic, with the most recent shots shown above featuring some of the worst melts I have yet witnessed.

Member Since: June 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2788
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About RickyRood

I'm a professor at U Michigan and lead a course on climate change problem solving. These articles often come from and contribute to the course.

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