Wacky baccy pipes

Not a very good title I fear. I’m referring to Lovelock and Rapley propose cure for global warming wherein James “we’re all doooomed I tell ‘ee” Lovelock and Chris “used-to-be-my-director” Rapley propose a load of floating pipes to haul up nutrient rich water to cause blooms to lock up CO2.

Its rather short on numbers (how many of these things would you need?) or that wave action via a flap valve will do the pumping required (I presume it must, because they can’t have got that bit wrong, can they?). A diagram might help. Ah, the BBC has one but I’m still not sure. Maybe I need a video :-). Meanwhile Nude Scientist has Andy Watson equivocal and Hoskers cautious.

The BBC note that a company exists that is proposing this, and indeed has actually started trials: atmocean. So its not really clear why L+R are getting the credit for the idea (except they are famous and atmocean unknown, and unknown companies don’t get published by Nature. Seriously, though: if the L+R letter had been an aricle about science, it would have had to be rejected for lack of novelty). Atmocean even have some numbers: “134 million pipes could potentially sequester about one-third of the carbon dioxide produced by human activities each year”. They want to moor them in vast pipe-farms (“When fully deployed, our 3m diameter by 200m deep pumps spaced 2 km apart will be positioned across 80% of the world’s oceans” so these people are ambitious); more numbers from their faq.

Well, the objections are obvious: maintaining these vast arrays is a problem, as is what they might actually do: bizarrely, the atmocean folk say “The problem we would be most concerned about would be acidification. We’re bringing up higher levels of CO2 along with the nutrients, so it all has to be analysed as to the net carbon balance and the net carbon flux.” – in other words, they don’t know whether this would reduce CO2 or not.

Is it financially viable? Who knows: atmoceans business model page is a 404. Still it would be interesting to see a small scale trial.

Hmm… I’ve just realised quite how ambitious these plans are. Earths ocean sfc is about 4*pi*r^2*2/3 ~ 8*36million km^2 ~ 300 million km^2. At a spacing of 2 km, thats about 100 million in total (close enough to their 134 million for now). So they want to cover the whole ocean (*including the sea ice areas*?) and even that will only sequester (on their doubtless optimistic calculations) 1/3 of current emissions? Not to mention that there are large areas of the ocean where this won’t work. So as a planet-saver its not going to work. You’d be better off with the good old “area the size of spain in the sahara covered in photovoltaics”. At least thats in theory possible.

[Update: surprisingly negative reaction by LeQuere: Other scientists welcomed the proposal as thought-provoking but doubted that it would work.Corinne Le Quéré, who led research this year which showed that oceans were losing the capacity to soak up carbon dioxide, was scathing and feared that if pipes were deployed around the world’s oceans they could exacerbate, rather than cure, the warming trend. “This idea is a complete waste of time,” said Dr Le Quéré, a researcher at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the BAS. “It doesn’t make sense. There is absolutely no evidence that geoengineering options work or even go in the right direction. I’m astonished that they published this. Before any geoengineering is put to work a massive amount of research is needed – research which will take 20 to 30 years.” I can’t see how she can justify that. It may not work, but then again it might. It would need testing -W]

Lapse rate changes

i-13b9de5afb984b9d1ebb83b6c94e4565-t-xsect-2080-2000.png Look at my nice picture. It shows a height-latitude zonal mean of (modelled) temperature, a difference of two 20 year means: 2080-2099 minus 2000-2019. This is for the far-future but we’ll pretend its a rough proxy for the present day trends, suitably scaled, shall we.

If you’re at all familiar with the “lapse rate problem” you see the familiar: that (at least in the tropics) the upper atmosphere gets to warm far more than the surface: up to 5 oC compared to about 2.5. The reverse is true in the arctic, the antarctic is nearly isothermal except for the top which is probably ozone hole recovery.

But… the degree of warming depends on where you look. If you’re looking at 500 hPa, ie the mid-level, even the tropics are only a bit warmer at the surface. If you’re using MSU data to try to understand this, then its hard to know exactly what you’d be seeing, because the MSU integrates over a broad range of atmospheric layers. This was prompted by Inels comment today from Singer in an old post no-one will ever read again.

Melting in Greenland

Via desmogblog, a Nasa article about snow melting in Greenland: NASA Finds Greenland Snow Melting Hit Record High in High Places. A new NASA-supported study reports that 2007 marked an overall rise in the melting trend over the entire Greenland ice sheet and, remarkably, melting in high-altitude areas was greater than ever at 150 percent more than average. In fact, the amount of snow that has melted this year over Greenland could cover the surface size of the U.S. more than twice.
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Does Hilary Benn matter?

He does if you read FP Passport, whatever that is (thanks Inel). He says Nobody is really arguing about the science. Everybody acknowledges the cost of doing something is a lot less than the cost of doing nothing. Everybody acknowledges that each of us has a part to play. The question is, how do you define that? Arguably (so to speak) no-one has been arguing about the science for quite a long time; though people have been using cherry-picked bits of sci as weapons (RP Jr’s favourite meme). Invisibly, of course, there is still lots of science to discuss, most obviously over how much sea level rise we might get.
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New constraints on the gas age-ice age difference along the EPICA ice cores, 0–50 kyr

Eli had a note on this, forgetting of course that I had scooped this long ago :-).

Its worth noting that the paper got slightly weaker after review: the published version says

Whatever the cause of the 1age overestimate, our finding suggests that the phase relationship between CO2 and EDC temperature previously inferred for the start of the last deglaciation (lag of CO2 by 800±600 yr) seems to be overestimated.

The submitted said:

Our finding suggests that the phase relationship between CO2 and EDC temperature inferred at the start of the last deglaciation (lag of CO2 by 800±600 yr) is overestimated and that the CO2 increase could well have been in phase or slightly leading the temperature increase at EDC [my bolding]

(Note that the idiots publishing CP have moved the URLs so my old links in prev posts are broken: this should get you the submitted version).

So, the in-phase-or-leading has gone, replaced by seems-to-be-overestimated.

If you had the patience you could wade through the comments and find out why. Well its not that hard.

Return of the dead: global cooling

I assume this is all mostly a matter of stupidity and mischief making rather than any concerted attack, but the 1971 R+S science paper makes an unexpected comeback. Tim Lambert has the story; Lubos falls for the lies (I’m being a bit inaccurate there: Lubos doesn’t fall for it, he jumps in with enthusiasm and ignorance).
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Comet catastrophe

Stein already took the better title. I only mention this because we had that Mike Baillie at BAS a week ago, talking about his theory that comets caused a couple of notable events – the black death amongst them – and not only that, but they caused a “corruption of the air”; by which he meant not just clouds of steam but, in some way, toxic vapour. And then along comes the Peruvian meteorite causing a mystery illness. It all fits I tell you…
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