Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Bomb Cyclones, Nor’easters, and the Messy Relationship Between Weather and Climate

After three frigid nor’easters in less than two weeks, even the most devout prophet of climate change could be forgiven for echoing the sentiment that President Trump tweeted a few months ago, to much ridicule, shortly before one of the coldest New Year’s Eves on record: “Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming.” By this point, most people outside the White House understand that climate is not the same as weather—that climate is the forest and weather is the trees. Yet the global climate system is enormously complex, and there is, in fact, a lively scientific debate in progress about the relationship between human-caused climate change (especially in the Arctic) and the increased frequency of extreme cold-weather events across the United States—blizzards, bomb cyclones, and the dreaded wintry mix.

The debate began in late 2011, at a meeting in San Francisco of the American Geophysical Union, when an atmospheric scientist named Jennifer Francis gave a talk that electrified her colleagues. Perhaps, she suggested, the persistent outbreaks of extreme weather that people were experiencing in the Northern Hemisphere were connected to the colossal loss of sea ice in the Arctic—a region that, with increasing greenhouse-gas emissions, has warmed at double the rate of the rest of the planet. Up until that moment, while scientists knew that the Arctic was changing rapidly—since the nineteen-seventies, sea ice, snow cover, and glaciers had all declined dramatically, and the permafrost was starting to thaw—they did not think it had an influence on weather systems in the midlatitudes. Credit for that went entirely to the tropics. Read More

Monday, March 5, 2018

New study finds sea level rise accelerating

February 13 2018 - The rate of global sea level rise has been accelerating in recent decades, rather than increasing steadily, according to a new study based on 25 years of NASA and European satellite data.

This acceleration, driven mainly by increased melting in Greenland and Antarctica, has the potential to double the total sea level rise projected by 2100 when compared to projections that assume a constant rate of sea level rise, according to lead author Steve Nerem. Nerem is a professor of Aerospace Engineering Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, a fellow at Colorado's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), and a member of NASA's Sea Level Change team.

Global sea level rise is accelerating incrementally over time rather than increasing at a steady rate, as previously thought, according to a new study based on 25 years of NASA and European satellite data.

If the rate of ocean rise continues to change at this pace, sea level will rise 26 inches (65 centimeters) by 2100 — enough to cause significant problems for coastal cities, according to the new assessment by Nerem and colleagues from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; CU Boulder; the University of South Florida in Tampa; and Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. The team, driven to understand and better predict Earth's response to a warming world, published their work Feb. 12 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"This is almost certainly a conservative estimate," Nerem said. "Our extrapolation assumes that sea level continues to change in the future as it has over the last 25 years. Given the large changes we are seeing in the ice sheets today, that's not likely."

Rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere increase the temperature of air and water, which causes sea level to rise in two ways. First, warmer water expands, and this "thermal expansion" of the ocean has contributed about half of the 2.8 inches (7 centimeters) of global mean sea level rise we've seen over the last 25 years, Nerem said. Second, melting land ice flows into the ocean, also increasing sea level across the globe. Read More

Sunday, March 4, 2018

A new report is out on how the US economy is rigged against the poor

A new report is out on how the US economy is rigged against the poor. Via TomDispatch

"The 2018 Prosperity Now Scorecard and its report, Whose Bad Choices? How Policy Precludes Prosperity and What We Can Do About It, also make the argument that the U.S. economic system and policies of the Trump administration and Congress are stacked against people of color.

Criminalize poverty and start a revolution

“'We’ve heard more rhetoric lately about [low-income] people making ‘bad choices’ or being ‘irresponsible with money’ and that’s been the direction policy has been going,’ said Kasey Wiedrich, director of applied research at Prosperity Now. 'We wanted to attack that.' One example of the rhetoric: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) recently said lower-income Americans 'are just spending every darn penny they have whether it’s on booze or women or movies.'

"In reality, however, the Prosperity Now report said, 'the dominant narrative about low-wealth people is nothing but a series of myths.' Poor choices, the analysts there say, aren’t why people are poor." https://goo.gl/WkU7AJ

Carbon Cool

In 2009 a team of Engineering Students from Michigan State University traveled to a workshop organized by the Appropriate Technology Collaborative in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Their task: a refrigerator that can be built from locally available materials almost anywhere and run without power.

Design an adsorption refrigerator capable of maintaining a temperature between 2°C and 8°C that utilizes passive solar energy and can be built in developing countries. The team’s final product will be a clear and comprehensive set of instructions for building the device.
The students built a vaccine refrigerator that does not use electricity. It does not have any moving parts. You simply place it in the sun and it chills or freezes things.

This very remarkable machine runs on pyrolytic carbon. The char does not need to be food grade, as for biochar or activated carbon. It stays inside a closed loop. It could be cascade carbon from a variety of feedstocks. Its essential service is evaporative cooling. The total cost for the prototype was $917.39. Estimated worker cooperative production cost at the scale of three per month, including labor, would be under $300. Their report reads:
Based on the design decision matrices, a solar-powered adsorption refrigerator was selected for the design of the vaccine refrigerator. This refrigerator has no moving parts aside from a few valves. It uses no toxic materials, generally available materials, and should be simple to build and operate. The refrigerator has an intermittent cycle. It will “charge” during the day and remove heat from a cooling volume at night.

Some previously used adsorbent/refrigerant pairs used for solar adsorption refrigeration systems are zeolite and water, silica gel and water, activated carbon and methanol, activated carbon and ammonia, and activated carbon and ethanol. It has been determined that the performance of each pair depends greatly on the climate in which it is tested. Read More

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Seychelles protects an area 'as big as Britain' in Indian Ocean

The Cayman Islands could benefit from a similar initiative as has been implemented in the Seychelles

This is understood to be the first debt swap designed to protect ocean areas in the world.

The Seychelles government agreed the debt swap with the Nature Conservancy, a US charity, and a number of investors back in 2016.
Under the terms of the $21m (£15m) deal, the charity and the investors - including the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation - paid for a portion of the Seychelles national debt.
The country will then direct future national debt payments into a new trust, the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT).
This trust will offer lower interest rates on debt repayments, and any savings will go to fund new projects designed to protect marine life and handle the effects of climate change.

"This is a critical accomplishment in our mission to bring conservation to scale across the globe," said Nature Conservancy CEO Mark Tercek.

"What you see today in Seychelles is what we expect to introduce in the Caribbean and other ocean regions facing the threats of climate change." Read More

#caribbean #cayman #sids #islands

My Tesla Runs on Banana Peels

My Tesla Runs on Banana Peels – Albert Bates – Medium

Put biochar in the ground, and regardless who the next farmer is, or what the weather decides to do, the biochar carbon will stay in the ground. That is possibly our strongest asset in relation to other options that are only as good as the management that maintains them. Forests can be bulldozed, soils can be ripped up and oxidized, biochar is stable in soil.
— Josiah Hunt

The amount of thermal energy or electricity produced during that conversion is variable, depending on the energy potential of the biomass and the process. The types of machines used are typically divided between CHAP (combined heat and power) and CHAB (combined heat and biochar). CHAP is mostly carbon neutral (depending on transportation distances) and CHAB is carbon negative, or net drawdown, as long as the product — biochar — is not reused as a fuel. Read More

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Breathing Highways and Sponge Cities

The Great Change: Breathing Highways and Sponge Cities

During the 20th Century, the rate of global warming was twice as fast in Taiwan (1.7°C) as for the world as a whole (0.74°C). Partly as a result, the number of days with rainfall decreased dramatically and typhoons gained strength. In 2009, Typhoon Morakot dropped over 1,000 mm (39.4 inches) in a single day and caused the loss of 699 lives. A massive mudslide wiped out Xiaolin Village and 474 people were buried alive. In 2015, Typhoon Soudelor left similar damage. It took months to repair the roads.

Then Taiwan and East China were struck by Dujuan, known in the Philippines as Typhoon Jenny, a killer storm and the thirteenth typhoon of the 2015 Pacific typhoon season. Eight months later, Nepartak became the third most intense tropical cyclone on record with 114 deaths and more than $1.5 billion damage in Taiwan and East China. September brought Meranti, a super typhoon and the strongest ever to make landfall in China in more than 1000 years of records. Meranti’s peak sustained winds tied the record set by Haiyan in 2013, 195 mph (315 km/h), comparable to a tornado, or a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. In Taiwan, nearly 1 million households lost power and 720,000 lost water supplies. Flooding in Zhejiang took 902 homes and affected 1.5 million people.

Between those punctuations, the erratic weather brought long droughts. New Taipei City had to enforce water restrictions when the Shihmen reservoir went dry in April. All cities along coasts or rivers have engineered means to remove excess water and to prevent flooding. Few have the means to sustain themselves in severe droughts. Read More