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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

If the oceans are warming they cannot be causing the warming

This is the interesting "logic" you run into debating Climate Change.  I got this response discussing how the oceans are more accurately described as a thermal reservoir than a thermal sink.  If you consider the oceans to be a thermal sink, you are using a classic Carnot Engine model. 

The Carnot engine is a simple two box model, Tsink or Tc (for cold) is one box and Tsource or Th (hot) is the other box.  Heat flows from hot to cold and if you have both boxes in a prefectly insulated container, eventually, both boxes would end up at the same temperature Taverage.

Carnot never used a Taverage model, because it is useless, and meaningless, because a flow of energy is needed to perform any work, which is the whole point of an engine.  Carnot's concept though was very useful because it estimates efficiency and provides reasonably limits of expectation.  Getting more than 50% efficiency requires a bit of creativity like adding a second engine to use the wasted energy of the first.  You can keep adding energy until you run out of money, but you will never get 100% efficiency.

The problem with the "logic" is that "warming" is related to Taverage and the oceans viewed as Taverage are reservoirs not sinks.  A sink at the same temperature as the source or even a greater temperature than the source, is meaningless in thermodynamics.  Carnot's simple two model shows then problem once you add the "effective" radiant energy to the problem.

If Th start at 400 K and Tc starts at 200K, if both boxes contain the same volume the final temperature should be 300 K assuming no energy is lost.  Tc would have an effective energy of 1423 Wm-2, Tc and effective energy of 89 Wm-2 which would be an average energy of 667 Wm-2, the average temperature of 300 K should have an average energy of 450 Wm-2, so since we are looking at an unrealistic situation, using average temperature as a metric for a heat engine, as if by magic the "blending" caused the system to "warm".  But can this actually happen in a real world situation?  You bet your ass.

It is easier to add energy to something that is cold than it is to add energy to something that is hot.  Heat "wants" to flow from hot to cold so there is always heat flow unless you dream up some perfect barrier to heat flow or an "ideal" model.  You can use "averages" to a point to assume that internal flow is insignificant, but the greater the temperature differences involved the less likely that is a valid assumption.  When you use a "sink" model, you are assuming a large difference in temperature so that small variations are insignificant, so as the variations become larger, that assumption is less valid. In climate science "discussions", hopefully not in real climate science, people tend to flip flop between assumptions and have Eureka moments.

So let's just look at the difference is ocean surface temperature by hemisphere.  The NH is on average 3 C degrees warmer than the SH, 24.5 C versus 21.5 C for the 45 to 90 higher latitudes.  Compared to the Carnot example, this difference is next to nothing, but if the two areas were to magically equalize to the same temperature, there would be about 0.23 Wm-2 of unaccounted for warming which happens to be about 1/3 of the entire energy imbalance of the planet.  Since the southern oceans are cooler, they are also easier to warm, nearly all of the current ocean heat uptake just so happens to be in the southern hemisphere.  Since the Solar energy varies seasonally and currently the southern hemisphere gets the highest energy, the greater temperature difference would imply a higher heating efficiency.  The entire imbalance "could" be due to the planet's current position in the precessional cycle,

Now we know better than that because adding CO2 and other GHGs will produce some warming by providing additional atmospheric insulation for one analogy, but ignoring the potential issues of internal imbalances and unbalanced "external" forcing would just "enhance" the efficiency of CO2 related warming to an unrealistic level.  Anthropogenic warming cannot be as large as indicated by simple models.  With the exception of online climate "experts", the entire thermodynamic literate world knows this.

So how well do the climate modelers do?  The "average" climate model over estimates the temperature of the southern oceans and underestimate the temperature of the northern oceans.  That is a pretty good indication the models miss part of the thermodynamics which is a large part of the physics they are supposedly based on. 

Now the "typical" online expert wants, equations, a better model or some other definitive "proof" that this is a valid issue, which is simple insane, because the Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics, is a "Law" not a suggestion.  It is their job to show they aren't playing fast and loose with the law, not mine. 

A great example of how much they are clueless is how they consider internal variability.  Internal oscillation or peudo-oscillations are a result of internal temperature gradients which constantly exist.  Since winds and currents are parts of these oscillations and winds and currents are drivers of the majority of internal mixing of fluids containing heat energy, they directly impact the "average" energy in the system.  Increased variability would be greater mixing which would indicate more heat uptake aka "warming" so assuming the oscillations "average" to zero impact is nuts.  You can assume some "average" rate of turbulent mixing, but then you have added another layer of assumptions.  Assuming internal oscillations have zero impact on "warming" is just another source of over estimation of CO2 forcing impact.

Now when you consider the oceans as a thermal reservoir, you can start to understand why a volcano can sometimes appear to "cause" warming.  If the volcano cause more localized cooling, like in the Arctic, the ocean overturning circulation can increase delivering more energy than normal to a region with extremely old temperatures so there is a maximum impact of the poor choice of ignoring the zeroth law.  Whether that "warming" is real or not, depends on the rate of ocean heat uptake, so "surface" warming can be a result of total system heat loss or just a glitch in the validity of a poor choice of metric, "Average Global Surface Temperature."   When you use just land temperatures, the situation gets worse because the temperature range for determining "average" gets larger.

Hopefully, this is the last time I have to write a post about something that should be common knowledge, the Zeroth LOT.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Erin Brockovich - From environmental hero to ambulance chaser

Chromium 6 and Erin Brockvich are getting more press again.  The California Department of Health has placed a health goal of 0.02 ppb on Chromium 6 is drinking water but the reality is that 10 ppb is about the best that can be expected since Chrome, both as 3 and 6 are fairly common in US ground water, especially in the more desert regions of the southwestern US.  It was recently "discovered" that Chromium 6 at about 2 ppb is common in North Carolina ground water and based on a larger EPA study about 218,000,000 people in the US have greater than 0.02 ppb in their water supplies. 

So Ms. Brockovich has picked up the battle again and quoted something interesting, "12,000 excess cases of cancer by the end of the century."  So in 84 years the US can expect 12,000 "excess" cases of cancer based on testing of mice and rats.  Mice and rats are not "human" so there is some debate on how valid animal test actually is, so Chromium 6 is listed as a "probable" carcinogen not a known carcinogen like say Vodka.  A UK study estimated that 4% of all UK cancers were "caused" by drinking alcohol and the Chromium 6 "crisis" should produce an excess cancer rate on the order of 0.0003% which is close to negligible in my opinion.

California is known for attempting extremely conservative health standards while 1 in a million is generally considered negligible,  the 0.02 ppb looks to be about 1 in 2.25 million.  1 or 2 ppb is generally considered "safe" with the EPA picking 10 ppb as an action level.  For some perspective, you have a 1 in 6000 chance of dying in a car crash driving 10,000 miles per year and about a 1 in 16,000 chance of not making back from a hike in the mountains.  I am pretty sure mountain biking increases your risk.  The current US risk for all cancers is in the about 50% over a lifetime and 84 years is one ample lifetime. 

So while by her own sources there is as close to negligible risk as is possible, that doesn't stop Ms. Brockovich from trying to make some health related point to save the good people of the US from some evil corporate demon.  I am all for clean water, but this is getting bizarre.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades - "Nearly Ice Free"

The main thing that attracted me to climate science was watching grown, educated people making complete fools of themselves.  This really started when Steig et al. published a paper on Antarctic Warming.  That group went to great lengths to "prove" what they expected to happen in the Antarctic when the "physics" really indicated that the opposite was more likely.  CO2 and other green house gases increase heat retention so without heat energy they do squat, they actually increase heat loss below temperatures of around -20 C degrees.  If you don't want to take my word for that, play around with the MODTRAN model available from the University of Chicago.

Now Greg Goodman has a post at Climate Etc. concerning the "ice free" Arctic mentioned often in the press which is really a shorten version of "nearly ice free" defined as less that 1 million kilometers squared Arctic sea ice area for five consecutive years in September.  "Nearly ice free" is a real Climate Change metric defined in the IPCC literature.  "Ice free" has become a sales slogan for the climate activists.  Since Climate Change is both "scientific" and a political hot button, abuse of the not all that well thought out "nearly ice free" climate metric should be fair game.

"Nearly ice free" isn't particularly useful because it is only a small change in sea ice cover for a short period of time in an area that represents a tiny fraction of the Earth's surface.  As soon as the area becomes "ice free" winter sets in and the cycle starts over again.  Whether ice is retained or not depends more on winds and wind direction than it does on actual temperature and retained atmospheric energy.

In fact, an "ice free" Arctic in September should lead to more snow fall/snow accumulation and brighter cleaner snow would tend to reflect more solar energy the next season, more than offsetting any September albedo reduction. 

The bizarre desire to blame everything on CO2 or mankind tends to overlook that when Arctic sea ice thins in summer, ice breakers move into the region to open shipping lanes which leads to greater flow of ice from the region.  It also over looks all the soot and dust deposited on the snow thanks to agriculture and shipping which often uses the most polluting liquid fuel every, bunker oil.  Left alone, the sea ice would last longer and the ice itself would help retain more ocean heat energy. 

However, thanks to climate activists like Al Gore, what little scientific meaning "nearly ice free" might have is completely lost to the political value of "alarming" "ice free" conditions that are happening many decades prior to model "projections."

All the while, Antarctic sea ice expansion is down played and the northern shift of the InterTropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) which were completely missed in the models is ignored as much as possible along with the general reduction in Atlantic hurricanes related to that shift.  These shifts are most likely related to century and multi-century scale ocean circulation variations related to the hemispheric seasaw often discussed in paleo-climate research. 

Century and multi-century scale "oscillations" are bad for climate science business though since all that has been assumed to be insignificant.  Instead, climate scientists tend to look for anything close enough to be plausible, to use to reinforce their "projections".  "It doesn't look as bad as we expected" should be the order of the day, but climate change politics has far too much invested to take the rational path.

Horseshoes, hand grenades and "close enough for government work" are hard to argue against.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Technology versus Mysticism

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAP or DAPL) is in the news because of a protest by Lakota (Dakota and Nakota) tribes being joined by quite a few other first nation groups concerned over water rights and "sacred" sites.  The actual path of the pipeline is not on tribal land according to most recent determination of what those lands are, but because the borders have moved over the years, there is some dispute over what those lands should be as well.

Since the tribal lands are downstream of the pipeline path, the Standing Rock Sioux (sic) have a right to be concerned, but they have a mystical approach to potential risk versus a technical approach of risk determined by the Army Corps of Engineers, EPA and industry professionals.  A classic battle of science and pseudo-science. 

While pipelines are not fool proof, they are considered much safer than over land transportation via rail or road.  Older pipelines already in the general area have had a break or two requiring expensive clean up in pristine places like the Yellowstone River but with a 400% or more increase in rail transportation of oil, the number of spills, damage and deaths associated with rail have increased greatly.  Both rail and pipeline companies have done quite a bit of work to improve safety, but pipelines still have an edge in safety and cost.  However, statistics, science and economics are hard sells compared to the mystical traditions of the "noble" savage. 

The (sic) by Sioux is because it is an Anglo nickname for the group that roughly means snake or enemy.  The French traders back in the day were allied with other tribes and the Dakota in the Minnesota and Iowa territories tended to have a blood feud on occasion with their neighbors.  Young male members of tribes needed to prove themselves and capture potential brides to gain status.  Since fur and hide trading could allow them to get better weapons and conveniences for their households, the ideological notion that native Americans only took what they needed and were admirable stewards of the land was a bit of a myth created by big city Anglos to sell papers and treaties. 

Blood law and survival of the fittest is the default laws of any land and the belief that the dead might return to avenge wrongs pretty common.  Dakota, as well as other groups, were known to dismember and mutilate their victims so their ghosts would be less of a threat.  The Dakota War of 1862 started in Minnesota when a group of 4 or 5 young warriors attacked a homestead and killed 5 or 6 settlers, mutilated the bodies and burned everything they didn't find of value.  The actual numbers vary a little depending on source.  The settlers were on land that the Dakota Tribe had sold to the US government for $5 million years earlier and due to typical Federal government efficiency during the start of the Civil War, the tribe's $80,000 in gold annuity had not arrived on time.  The young warriors were just doing what their traditions allowed and the situation escalated into a war where the tribe attacked and killed about 600 settlers in a village they thought was an easier target than a small fort that had actual Anglo warriors to tackle. 

While the Dakota were attacking the New Ulm township, their barrels of gold had arrived at Fort Ridgely where is was buried for safety and local settlers joined the handful of military in the fort which had 5 or 6 serviceable field pieces including Howitzers.  Once the Dakota warriors finally decided to agree with Chief Little Crow and attack the fort, the timing was lost and the Howitzers took their toll.  Had the tribe listened to their "chief", they most likely would have collected their $80,000 in gold, had a short court case involving 4 or 5 young warriors that would have been hanged and lived happily ever after until the next dust up.

Instead, the citizens of the Minnesota territory with the help of the US Army managed to raise a few thousand troops and despite a lack of military skill, managed to drive the Dakota Tribe out of Minnesota.  Since tales of the mutilated bodies of the settler men, women and children were wide spread, the militia retaliated in kind creating what one would call a less than Christian end to the story.  Nearly half of the estimated 6,500 Dakota were killed or captured.

Over 300 Dakota combatants captured were sentenced to death and while President Lincoln pardoned the majority, 38 warriors where hanged in the largest mass execution in US history.   This was the start of 30 year war with the Sioux Nation that ended at Wounded Knee where native men, women and children were killed in the same manner that New Ulm men, women and children were killed at the start of the war. The bones of Chief Little Crow who was killed a year after the 1862 war were on display at the Minnesota State Capital along with his scalp until 1971 when they were finally buried.

 Prior to the 911 attacks, the Dakota Tribe of Minnesota held the record for the largest mass slaughter of Americans.  The Sioux have a rich heritage as warriors but not a rich heritage of diplomacy.  

Here is a native American perspective of the Dakota WarAnother perspective. 

It will be interesting to see how our current scientifically enlightened leaders deal with the Dakota Access Pipeline situation and revisionist Native American history.