Friday, May 1, 2015

The Question Is: How Much Acceleration Is Involved In SLR? - 4

I urge readers to watch the two videos at the bottom of today's post, if you haven't yet.

One is a little less than 6 minutes, the other is about 40 minutes, and both are about Greenland and the melting of the ice sheet there.

They show literal rivers of melt taking place and running across the surface of the ice sheet.

Some of those streams of rapidly flowing water abruptly disappear when they empty into a giant sink hole in the ice sheet, sink holes that are officially called "moulins."

The strange thing is that it is not perfectly certain what happens to the water when it enters those moulins, other than the water disappears deep down into the ice sheet.

There is speculation that a large lake or lakes is the final destination, rather than the ocean.

More study is being done.

The destination determines sea level rise (SLR), because if the water stays in a sub-glacial lake, there will be no SLR at that time.

There will be no SLR related to that event until that lake flows into the sea.

One fear is that such a flow could take place at once en masse, which could cause not only SLR, but also serious damage to the ice sheet itself (similar to this, but larger).

All that could lead to an acceleration in SLR that would at first be slower than expected, but later it could suddenly exceed normal melting and normal flowing into the sea:
Many scientists have studied how the glaciers and big chunks of ice breaking off the edges of the Greenland ice sheet are contributing to sea level rise. Yet a new research study led by geographers at UCLA is the first to comprehensively examine how the rivers on top of the ice sheet drain meltwater and contribute to sea level rise. Importantly, the researchers found that current climate models, which do not account for subglacial processes, could be overestimating sea level rise because they do not consider the fact that a significant portion of meltwater is stored inside and below the glacier. Not all of the meltwater, in other words, immediately flows out to sea.

Both fieldwork and remote sensing were used to develop the models behind their results, which were published in PNAS, a leading science journal, earlier this week. Vena Chu, a PhD student in the UCLA Department of Geography, explained to Cryopolitics, “This is the first big study focusing on the rivers on top of the Greenland ice sheet. It brings attention to how much water is being transferred over the surface down into the ice sheet through moulins – in other words, sinkholes in the ice sheet.”
(Cryopolitics, cf. Greenland Melt Underestimated?). Where the water goes may be the same as what has sometimes happened in Antarctica.

The emptying of a lake of melt water took place in Antarctica where it was less expected, so it could happen in Greenland too it would seem:
ESA’s CryoSat satellite has found a vast crater in Antarctica’s icy surface. Scientists believe the crater was left behind when a lake lying under about 3 km of ice suddenly drained.
(Cryosat - 2, cf. Same in Greenland). The suddenness of this type of event could be more troublesome, in some cases, than normal SLR caused by normal melt.

This type of event could explain some strange, and yet for the most part unexplained, surges in SLR:
Coastal sea levels along continental margins often show significant
Fig. 1: Arctic Current (click to enlarge)
year-to-year upward and downward fluctuations. These fluctuations are superimposed on a longer term upward trend associated with the rise in global mean sea level, with global mean sea level rising at roughly 3 mm per year during the recent 20 years of accurate satellite measures. For society, it is the regional changes along any particular coastal zone that are most important. Our analysis of multi-decadal tide gauge records along the North American east coast identified an extreme sea-level rise event during 2009–2010. Within this relatively brief two-year period, coastal sea level north of New York City jumped by up to 128 mm [~5 in.]. This magnitude of inter-annual sea level rise is unprecedented in the tide gauge records, with statistical methods suggesting that it was a 1-in-850 year event.
(Agnotology: The Surge - 16, emphasis added). Regular readers will note that cumulative ice volume loss for Greenland and Antarctica "doubled since 2009" (see section "V. Attempts Based On Percentages" here, and read about the danger to 20 million Americans: here).

We are talking about a scenario where rivers of melt water flowing on top of the Greenland ice sheet mysteriously flow into moulins (holes) that go straight down.

Straight down into the sub-glacial underworld, but then where does the water flow?

IMO, the ocean around Greenland is the best bet for the destination where the melt water eventually flows.

It would flow into ocean water that is being warmed by an ocean current (Fig. 1) that flows north, up from the mysterious "warm blob" in the Pacific Ocean near "The Pacific Gyre", then further north between Russia and Alaska, then through the Bering Strait, into the Chukchi Sea, then east across the Arctic Ocean, and finally, it then flows south along the coast of Greenland:
The normal pattern is for that to happen as follows:

Fig. 2: East Coast area of higher SLR threat
1) warm water will flow up through the Gulf of Alaska from "The Blob" into and through the Bering Strait; 2) It will make its way into the Chukchi Sea; 3) Then if will flow across into and through the Fram Strait; and 4) Finally it will then flow around both sides of the coast of Greenland ([Woods Hole:] The Arctic: Ocean Circulation).
(On The Origin of Tornadoes - 6). The map of the Arctic Ocean circulation (Fig. 1) would indicate that melt from Greenland would eventually flow south, making arcs of surges like a mini-tsunami (see Fig. 2 and this: Coast Guard: Labrador Current).

Fig. 3: Mid-level river drainage system (drains west)
The direction would include the East Coast of the U.S., where it could cause a surprise SLR at a location that is already experiencing  higher SLR than the global norm (Fig. 2).

This is especially so if the river system under the Greenland ice sheet has ice dams that melt and the raging river comes alive again (NASA Data Reveals Mega-Canyon under Greenland Ice Sheet).
Fig. 4 Northern river drainage system (drains north)

It would be another surprise because "statistical methods [suggest] that it was a 1-in-850 year event" of SLR there.

If Greenland is the source, surprises may happen much more often than expected, to eventually become the norm, as the videos and ice volume loss data show.

Additionally, Fig. 3 and Fig. 4 depict the ice-penetrating-radar-discovered scenario, where large river systems in canyons like the grand canyon have been reveaed to exist far down under the ice sheet.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Greenland melt zones:

Thursday, April 30, 2015

An Old Catastrophe: Climate Policy - 3

Nature healing itself? ... Or Not?
In A Methanol Economy Way Out of Here - 6 I pointed out how the oil barons thwarted a California plan to stop using fossil fuels in state vehicles.

The plan had been going well until Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, shut down California's efforts (ibid).

Now, deep into its worst drought, the current governor, Gov. Jerry Brown, has issued a couple of executive orders in what appears to be futile reactionary efforts:
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued an executive order to establish a California greenhouse gas reduction target of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 - the most aggressive benchmark enacted by any government in North America to reduce dangerous carbon emissions over the next decade and a half.

"With this order, California sets a very high bar for itself and other states and nations, but it's one that must be reached - for this generation and generations to come," said Governor Brown.

This executive action sets the stage for the important work being done on climate change by the Legislature.
(Office of Governor). This is on the heels of a previous executive order that had to do with conserving water:
Following the lowest snowpack ever recorded and with no end to the drought in sight, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced actions that will save water, increase enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, streamline the state's drought response and invest in new technologies that will make California more drought resilient.

"Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow. This historic drought demands unprecedented action," said Governor Brown. "Therefore, I'm issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our state. As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible."

High resolution photos of previous snow surveys are available here.

For more than two years, the state's experts have been managing water resources to ensure that the state survives this drought and is better prepared for the next one. Last year, the Governor proclaimed a drought state of emergency. The state has taken steps to make sure that water is available for human health and safety, growing food, fighting fires and protecting fish and wildlife. Millions have been spent helping thousands of California families most impacted by the drought pay their bills, put food on their tables and have water to drink.
(Office of Governor; Executive Order, PDF). One governor stops efforts to get off the fossil fuel addiction bandwagon, then another governor thwarts it at the behest of Oil-Qaeda.

Sounds like the legislature needs to pass some statutes that will withstand the back and forth.

However, if the California legislature is like the federal congress, that would be a non-starter.

And that hypothetical effort would follow an effort begun in 1990 that was working, but was stopped by influential oil company actions 20 years later.

Somehow, this sounds a lot like deathbed repentance or major surgery in the last week of an individual's life:
"Surgery is surprisingly common in older people during the last year, month and even week of life, researchers reported Wednesday, a finding that is likely to stoke, but not resolve, the debate over whether medical care is overused and needlessly driving up medical costs.

The most comprehensive examination of operations performed on Medicare recipients in the final year of life found that nationally in 2008, nearly one recipient in three had surgery in the last year of life. Nearly one in five had surgery in the last month of life. Nearly one in 10 had surgery in the last week of life
(Surgery Rate Late in Life Surprises Researchers, emphasis added). Consistency is sometimes not what it is cracked up to be.

The previous post in this series is here.

Leave it in the ground ...

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

On The Origin of Tornadoes - 6

Fig. 1 A cold mini-vortex is calved
I. Introduction

March was the warmest month on record for the global average.

The quarter (Jan., Feb. Mar.) was likewise the warmest quarter in recorded weather history for the globe we call the Earth.

More to the point, "This marks the highest March temperature in the 136-year period of record, surpassing the previous record of 2010 by 0.05°C (0.09°F)" (NOAA, Global Analysis - March 2015).

In other words, there was an acceleration in global warming.

People in the North East U.S. probably missed the heat since they were repeatedly blasted with polar air from the polar vortex.

People in the western U.S. experienced record highs as their fellow citizens in the eastern U.S. experienced the cold polar vortex sections breaking off and floating southward.

Yesterday, and the day before, a small hurricane-looking section of a vortex of cold air, 25 deg. below normal (45 deg. low and lower) floated over Texas and headed east (see Fig. 1).

II. One Abrupt Change Goes Almost Unnoticed

As I pointed out in the last post, I expected the tornado count to drop in 2014.

Tornadoes had been, and still are, taking an abrupt drop in numbers from the ongoing trend:
It’s the great depression for tornado activity in the U.S.

At least 400 fewer tornadoes than average have touched down in the U.S. this year, making it one of the quietest years on record for twisters, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Whereas an average of 1,260 tornadoes form each year in records dating to the early 1950s, only 823 have occurred in 2014 through November, says Greg Carbin, warning coordination meteorologist at the NWS Storm Prediction Center, in Norman, Okla.
(U.S. Tornado Numbers Among Lowest In Recorded History in 2014). The unique conditions in the U.S. that produce 75% of the world's tornadoes here have changed.

III. What Is Up With That?

Cold air from the polar vortex, i.e., spinning off and calving little vortexes that travel south, inhibit tornado formation:
Under normal climate conditions, cold air is confined to the Arctic by the polar vortex winds, which circle counter-clockwise around the North Pole. As sea ice coverage decreases, the Arctic warms, high pressure builds, and the polar vortex weakens, sending cold air spilling southward into the mid-latitudes, bringing record cold and fierce snowstorms. At the same time, warm air will flow into the Arctic to replace the cold air spilling south, which drives more sea ice loss.
(Wunderground, emphasis added). The laws of fluid dynamics tell us that "Heat flows from hot to cold ... The first statement of the 2nd law of thermodynamics - heat flows spontaneously from a hot to a cold body - tells us that an ice cube must melt on a hot day, rather than becoming colder" (Univ. Winnipeg).

In the video at the bottom of this post, beginning at 11:05, the Arctic scientist explains that as ice cover melts away heat from the water enters the atmosphere and breaks up the polar vortex the same way it breaks up ice.

IV. What Is To Be Expected RE: Tornadoes?

In the near term the decrease in the number of tornadoes is welcome, but what does this abrupt climate change portend?

Not only is there a source of warm air flowing in forcing cold air out, there is a source of warm water too, as explained in Section V, Fig. 2, below.

These changes in the Arctic are producing strange phenomena that can be considered a type of feedback loop:
As the sea ice covering the Arctic continues to shrink under the influence of greenhouse gas-induced warming, it’s causing a host of other changes in the region, including the growth of large waves in the previously iced-over areas. Those waves could potentially reinforce and hasten the demise of sea ice, leading to further changes in the fragile polar realm.

Changes brought on by global warming in the Arctic region have been well documented. Temperatures there have risen twice as fast as the global average. That rise is tied to a decline in Arctic sea ice, which has seen its seasonal minimum area shrink by nearly 14 percent per decade since the late 1970s. Those changes could be influencing weather patterns in lower latitudes of the world, though that’s an area of continuing research for scientists.

And in the latest sign of more changes afoot, according to a recent study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, waves are swelling to heights never before seen in the Arctic Ocean — a shift that’s tied to the loss of sea ice and could further exacerbate it.
(Swelling Waves Could Hasten Demise of Arctic Sea Ice). Thus, when the ice has all melted and the cold air mass has been replaced or modified with warmer air, it is likely that the tornado count will increase as the vortex diminishes.

V. What About Sea Level Rise (SLR)?

The Greenland Ice Sheet, especially along the coast, is sure to feel the warmth if warmer
Fig. 2 Source of warm water for Arctic
air and warmer water incursion into the Arctic generates additional ocean currents.

The normal pattern is for that to happen as follows:

1) warm water will flow up through the Gulf of Alaska from "The Blob" into and through the Bering Strait; 2) It will make its way into the Chukchi Sea; 3) Then if will flow across into and through the Fram Strait; and 4) Finally it will then flow around both sides of the coast of Greenland (The Arctic: Ocean Circulation).

The ice sheet areas of Greenland will likely see an acceleration of melt in the coastal zone there (see "IV. The Melt Zones" @ What Do You Mean - World Civilization? - 2).

VI. When Will There Be SLR Impact?

That depends, first, on acceleration of melt of the Arctic ice that is floating on the ocean.

The diminishing of ice extent will not be a factor in SLR because that ice has already done its displacement, however, as it melts the reflective power it has goes away.

Then the darker ocean will be impacted by absorbing more and more sunlight instead of reflecting it.

That means more warm water flowing through the Fram Strait, and then around Greenland.

Increased Greenland ice melt will follow, which means an acceleration of SLR (The Question Is: How Much Acceleration Is Involved In SLR?, 2, 3).

VII. Conclusion

"The toe bone's connected to the foot bone, The foot bone's connected to the ankle bone, The ankle bone's connected to the leg bone" (Dem Bones).

And so forth.

The global climate system is like that too, so "The Blob" over at the "Garbage Patch" (see link @ Fig. 2) can have an impact on Greenland in unexpected ways.

Not to mention having an impact on civilization's energy infrastructure that will be worse than tornadoes (FERC Plan To Limit Overpopulation?, Sea Level Rise: Impact on Energy Infrastructure).

The previous post in this series is here.

2011 Tedx Video featuring long-time Arctic scientist:

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Message of Science & Religion - Western - 4

The Hypothetical Epistle
Put down your copy of The Holy Origin of Species, The Holy Bible, The Holy Koran, The Holy Vedas, and The Holy Book of Atheism for a moment.

Put away your notion of "my doom is better than your doom" for a short while as well.

And I will too.

Then, let's focus on what so many who espouse any of those ideologies have noticed: that there is overlap on a major issue, which The Guardian calls The Biggest Story (What are the risks of telling the biggest story in the world?).

This series began years ago to consider the concept of doom that is prevalent in both climate and war science as well as in climate and war religion:
Science and religion both tell us of future catastrophe and a way out.

They both tell us to learn to live together to avoid the catastrophe, and they both tell us we must go into "heaven" or suffer "hell" for it. Yes they do.
Science says our star the sun will destroy the earth in the future, but there is a way out.

We must go into the heavens and find another home planet to live upon.

We must learn to live together here and now, and be decent to this planet in the interim.
If we do not travel into the heavens our fate will be determined when the sun eventually turns the inner four planets of this solar system into the fires of hell.

Religion talks of potential Armageddon but those who are good will be spared, those who are good will go into heaven to a better home.

It generally teaches us that the golden rule is to be good to each other treating one another as we would be treated. If we do not there will be a hell instead of a heaven.

That is essentially the same story told by two factions, but the how it is done is where the two stories drift far apart.

Science teaches us we must physically do it ourselves, but religion in a general sense teaches us that we are to be saved by metaphysical intervention.
(Message of Science & Religion - Western, 2009). The advent of the murder suicide pact of current civilization (Civilization Is Now On Suicide Watch, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) is way, way ahead of the very long term solar catastrophe written about in that quote.

The threat of doom in the near term is a matter of focus on nuclear war and the environmental destruction of our life support system on Earth.

Let's take a look at the environmental suicide dynamics, from both the scientific as well as from the religious sides of the equation.

Today's religious and scientific contemplation:
The Vatican is hosting a climate change summit that will focus on the need for decisive action to combat global warming as a moral imperative and Christian duty, especially given its impact on poor people.

The Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity meeting in Rome on Tuesday is a precursor to the release of Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, which is due out in June or July and is expected to centre on the duty of the faithful to address climate change, whatever its causes.

Pope Francis is not scheduled to speak at the summit but was due to have a private meeting with the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, who will be delivering the keynote address. The planned remarks by Cardinal Peter Turkson, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, will also be closely followed because of his role drafting the encyclical.

The summit – which will include speakers and representatives from all major religions – has brought about a rare meeting of minds between scientists and religious officials on climate change, even if they frame their arguments in different ways.
(Vatican Climate Change Summit, emphasis added). Both religious and scientific disciplines have members who realize that destroying the life support system of the Earth is the mindset of those who are not here (You Are Here).

The alternative is a murder-suicide pact (MOMCOM's Mass Suicide & Murder Pact - 5, 4, 3, 2, 1).

One is good, the other is not.

Our civilization must learn which is which in order to pass the test.

The conference overseers produced this statement:
"Humanity has entered a new era. Our technological prowess has brought humanity to a crossroads. We are the inheritors of two centuries of remarkable waves of technological change: steam power, railroads, the telegraph, electrification, automotive transport, aviation, industrial chemistry, modern medicine, computing, and now the digital revolution, biotechnologies and nanotechnologies. These advances have reshaped the world economy into one that is increasingly urban and globally connected, but also more and more unequal.

However, just as humanity confronted “Revolutionary Change” (Rerum Novarum) in the Age of Industrialization in the 19th century, today we have changed our natural environment to such an extent that scientists are redefining the current period as the Age of the Anthropocene, that is to say an age when human action, through the use of fossil fuels, is having a decisive impact on the planet. If current trends continue, this century will witness unprecedented climate changes and ecosystem destruction that will severely impact us all."
(Statement of the Joint PAS/PASS Workshop on Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature: Our Responsibility).

The previous post in this series is here

Monday, April 27, 2015

FERC Plan To Limit Overpopulation?

Indian Point on the Hudson River
"A very large gas pipeline will soon skirt the Indian Point Energy Center (IPEC), an aging nuclear power plant that stands in the town of Cortlandt in Westchester County, New York, 30 miles north of Manhattan. The federal agencies that have permitted the project have bowed to two corporations -- the pipeline's owner, Spectra Energy, and Entergy, which bought the Indian Point complex in 2001 from its former owner." (HuffPo, emphasis added).

This situation ignores sea level rise (SLR) and flooding dangers, not to mention the Safety 101 notion of not stacking risk upon risk ("don't put all of your eggs in one basket"):
Paul Blanch is a professional engineer with nearly five decades of experience in nuclear safety, engineering operations and federal regulatory requirements. He has security clearance for his work, and is a nuclear industry proponent. He has worked with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission since its inception and for utility corporations across the United States, including Entergy. He also works pro bono for nuclear safety and has been doing this for the town of Cortlandt and local organizations including the grassroots group, Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Extension (SAPE), which has been fighting AIM for the past year and a half.

"I've had over 45 years of nuclear experience and [experience in] safety issues," Blanch told Truthout. "I have never seen [a situation] that essentially puts 20 million residents at risk, plus the entire economics of the United States by making a large area surrounding Indian Point uninhabitable for generations. I'm not an alarmist and haven't been known as an alarmist, but the possibility of a gas line interacting with a plant could easily cause a Fukushima type of release."

The potential hazards of the AIM construction near IPEC are no longer hypothetical. On March 3, 2015, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the AIM project in its entirety, from New York to the Canadian border.
(Truthout, emphasis added). The cities that have considered the SLR issue (Sea Level Rise: Impact on Energy Infrastructure) have evidently been alarmist, in the eyes of FERC, which seems to embrace "What, me worry?" policy (like FEMA at New Orleans a la Katrina).

Perhaps they want to be patted on the butt and told they are "doin' a heckuva job" by the High Priest in Chief.

I mention SLR in this context because the Hudson River is impacted by tides:
"The lower half of the river is a tidal estuary ... Tidal waters influence the Hudson's flow from as far north as Troy [north of Albany, >100 mi inland] ... it is an estuary throughout most of its length below Troy and thus only a small fraction of fresh water ... is present ... The Hudson River estuary system is part of The National Estuarine Research Reserve System as the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve."
(Wikipedia, emphasis added; cf Hudson River Estuary). Can it be said of FERC that they are unaware of any dangers or risks which are being ignored?

It is said of such estuaries:
"Severe storms, climate change, pollution, habitat alteration and rapid population growth threaten the ecological functions that have supported coastal communities throughout history."
(National Estuarine Research Reserve, emphasis added). The plant operator did not properly consider the environment when it contemplated using water from the Hudson:
During the summer, the sprawling nuclear power plant here draws up to 2.5 billion gallons of water each day from the Hudson River to operate.

Over the course of a year, the plant, known as Indian Point Energy Center, sucks in about 1 billion tiny fish, including river herring, bay anchovy and striped bass, and their eggs. The water is discharged back into the river.

The plant's reliance on the Hudson River and its impact on aquatic life are at the center of a dispute between state regulators and Indian Point's operator, Entergy Corp.
(WSJ, emphasis added). Safety, environment, and pollution seem to be little more than afterthoughts to the plant operator and the federal agencies that are "regulating" the nuclear plant, and endangering 20 million Americans.

High water threatened nuclear power plants during Hurricane Sandy ("water levels from the Hudson River ... reached 9 feet 8 inches") then went back down.

With SLR, there is no going back down, there is only incessant SLR, with no intermittent, temporary impact to fall back on.

Evidently, the powers that be do not have the capacity to believe the inevitable (FERC it!).