Why is climate modelling stuck?

Why is climate modelling stuck? asked mt, and Bryan weighs in too. So I don’t see why I shouldn’t too. This is no kind of comprehensive list or manifesto, the way mt’s is. Just some random thoughts.
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Confusing weather and climate

RP Jr has a whole succession of posts, starting here. I was going to point out why it was all rather pointless, but it seems so obvious and tedious to wade through that I’m not going to bother.

This probably wins my award for least enthusiastic post of all time 😦

[Update: RC do this in rather more detail. And there is a vaguely-relevant old post of mine -W]

Mind you, Nature isn’t any better.

Clean coal?

Clean coal – as in burning and capturing the CO2 – is an idea being floated. There are obvious problems (apart from anything else, the capture and storage costs extra energy and so burns even more coal…), and AFAIK only a few pilot schemes exist. So the story that a commercial-scale plant was being built was interesting. Desmogblog commented on it under the heading “The Expensive Myth of Clean Coal” (and just in case youre not inclined to follow the link, there’s an extra bonus of a gratuitous tart-in-a-bikini awaiting you). It looks to be a coal-industry boondoggle: for a $1.8B plant there is a $1B subsidy, which according to DSB makes it about 2* as expensive as wind and about as expensive as solar. I wonder how much subsidy the US solar industry gets?

Green aeroplanes, ho ho

A mind-bogglingly stupid article in the Times came my way. Someone has built a small aeroplane powered by batteries. So far nothing exciting. But then to report the claim Ms Lavrand said that the fuel cost per hour of the Electra was €1 (70p) compared with about €60 for an equivalent petrol-driven machine. The motor and batteries will cost between €10,000 and €15,000, about the same as existing small petrol engines. I don’t believe that a 25 hp engine would be anything like €10,000, nor that the fuel price disparity could be a factor of 60 – it should be the same as for electric/petrol cars; ie, not very much.

Rather more sanely, Hot Topic points to a report saying that NZ “causes” about 10% of its CO2 emissions from long-haul flights. I say “causes” because its not really obvious who to count the emissions against – NZ for being such a nice place that people want to come, or the home country of the people that go. Plane CO2 is the hardest to reduce (electric planes are obviously hopeless) and NZ is a long way away, so this may become a problem for them, in the unlikely event of peoples conciences getting the better of them.

Polar amplification, again

People constantly get polar amplification wrong. The most obvious mistake is to assume it applies equally at both poles. It doesn’t in both models and observations: there is far more warming in the Arctic (at present, and expected in the future. This picture is somewhat complicated if you look back to, say, the last glacial, where climate change was amplified at both poles; but thats because it was for long timescales, hence the stabalising effect of the Southern Ocean doesn’t apply (e.g. this RC post)).
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