Thursday, October 24, 2013

Judy Finds Willis XIV

As has been remarked upon wandering into climate science provides a healthy dose of catnip to the self satisfied.  Judy Curry, of course, is happy, sometimes at her cost, to provide a forum for the Sky Dragons and whomever else wanders into her Email box, and, of course, Roy is having great fun with Willis.  Willis is not so happy about this. 

Eli, Eli was enjoying life, when he happened to wander into Judith Curry's house of mirrors to find another digression by one of her pet polymorphs (she really should collect lagomorphs, a much better and nicer bunch), Rud Istvan.  Rud is pushing new carbon based materials for energy storage capacitors in real life.  At least Russell blows microbubbles.   But as a hobby, Istvan has been here and there in comments and the occasional guest post in the usual places.  He really values his opinion.

Few others do.  In this case he goes after people who know something about the fresh water supply in the Caribbean, perhaps because he is so much smarter than them, than all of us.  He tries ridicule
Experts like Avril Alexander, Caribbean coordinator of Global Water Partnership:
“When you look at the projected impact of climate change, a lot of the impact is going to be felt through water.”
Experts like Lystra Fletcher-Paul, Caribbean land/water officer for the UN FAO:                    
 “ Inaction is not an option. The water resources will not be available.”
Istvan is not impressed
Yet another anthropogenic global warming alarm, and just in time for IPCC AR5, whose newly released WG1 chapters 7 and 11 say there is high confidence that dry regions will get drier, wet regions will get wetter, and storms will get stormier. “But there is only low confidence in the magnitude.” These Caribbean experts are much more certain—Caribbean water resources will not be available.
And then he tosses himself in at the deep end
Saltwater intrusion doesn’t apply much to Caribbean island groundwater. The islands are mountainous. Pico Duarte in the DR is 3098m. Pic la Selle in Haiti is 2680m. Jamaica’s Blue Mountain is 2256m. Cuba’s Pico Turquina is 1974m. Antigua’s ‘Boggy Peak’ is 402m. St. Croix’ ‘Mount Eagle’ is 355m.  Barbados is only hilly, with a maximum elevation of ‘just’ 343m.
Rising sea levels will not contaminate Caribbean fresh water supplies.
Rud has maybe never visited the Caribbean.  While mountains on many Caribbean islands rise up from the sea, most of the population and infrastructure lives on the coast. That is especially true of the tourist infrastructure.  Runoff, especially on the volcanic islands can be really fast.  Aquifers and water supplies are often (when they exist, in Bermuda for example many collect rainwater run off) local to the coastal cities and settlements, and thus vulnerable to sea water intrusion. The nature of the climate with wet and dry seasons exacerbates the situation.  Oh yeah, storm surge pushing sea water inland is not wonderful for agricultural lands and water supplies.
 
This was made clear in the article that Istvan linked to.  The reporter talked to Cedric Van Meerbeeck, a climatologist with the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology & Hydrology.
Van Meerbeeck said water supplies will continue to decrease if individuals as well as agriculture and tourism, the region's key industries, do not monitor use.
"Climate is maybe not the biggest factor, but it's a drop in an already full bucket of water," he said. "It will have quite dramatic consequences if we keep using water the way we do right now."
Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados have ordered rationing this year, with Barbados reducing pressure and occasionally cutting off supply to some areas. The island also began to recycle water, with officials collecting treated wastewater to operate airport toilets.
Overuse of wells elsewhere has caused saltwater seepage and a deterioration of potable water underground, leading to the construction of hundreds of desalination plants in the Caribbean.
There is a bunch of other childish misdirection in Istvan’s writing, for example, Jamaica and Cuba may have mountains, but the highest point in Bermuda is 76 m, and in the Bahamas 63 m. As Van Meerbeeck said the issue is not sea water intrusion due to sea level rise or subsidence due to depletion but sea water intrusion due to sea level rise and subsidence due to depletion. For a summary of the issues, the AR4 WGII Chapter 16 is a useful place to start

Or wait a couple of months for the AR5 WGII.  Or not.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I saw numbers that ( in the 90s ) humans were using the equivalent of 70% of total global precipitation. Obviously much of that was ground water, but the implication was clear - current water use is unsustainable.

It's a problem and Cli-mut change is largely an irrelevant part of that.

Eunice

dbostrom said...

The guy is amazingly ignorant.

Such of these islands as do have any significant ground water find it mostly in the form of pretty delicate and insubstantial "lenses", very vulnerable to shrinkage due to over-extraction, drought etc.

As well, much of the potable water available isn't ground water at all but is harvested by catchment. Storage quantities are perilously tuned; a little drought turns into a big shortage.

The fundamental problem is that despite Istvan's being so impressed with elevations found on these islands, for the most part they're simply too low to produce any rain from adiabatic effects. They're naturally parched pimples for the most part.

I suppose this has all been pointed out, ad nauseam.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Eunice,
Cough-cough, sea-level rise. Cough-Cough.

Jeffrey Davis said...

Shrinking over-taxed resources more isn't relevant?

Anonymous said...

saltwater intrusion is so much not a problem that half our missions in Guadeloupe and Martinique aim to find these nonexistant saltwater intrusions for local water management authorities.

Maybe I should dive in curryland, but I'm not that late to meet the Judith Queen so I shouldn't hurry.

bratisla

Brian said...

California has mountains taller than all those and we have saltwater intrusion problems. Coastal Southern California has taller peaks than many of those, peaks that are likely closer to coast and cities than those peaks, and it has saltwater intrusion problems.

The ability to wave away problems that someone knows nothing about is amazing. Reminds me of Bobby Jindal ridiculing the need to study volcanoes.

EliRabett said...

Bratisla, Brian, care to write more about that so that we can get a post out of it. Maybe even Email the thing to Judy.

EliRabett said...

"equivalent of 70% of total global precipitation."

Given that the Earth is 2/3 ocean, using 70% of TGP implies that people are using multiples of what falls on the land. OTOH what gets flushed gets reused, etc.

Russell Seitz said...

One needs to pay attention to harder stuff than bubbles, and i divide my condensed matter quality time between thermal transport in stuff with high Debye temperatures , and the archaeiology of materials ,
especially jade in and around the Caribbean
as we discovered to our surpiise that the high pressure geology we unw=earthed in Guatelala continues on out along the north edge of the Cariv=bbean plate to produce parallel deposits of jadeite all alomg the Greater Antilles.

The water problems scale inversely with island size- abasent significant catchment areas , small popupalions can drink small watersheds dry , creating desertisands that need water tankers to support permanent settlements, let alone tourism. For this reason, many of the smaller Windward islands ,and some off the Venezuelan coast are, absent desalinization plants, as uninhabited today as in the days of the Spanish Main

Thomas Lee Elifritz said...

I guess you never heard of a solar still. I've built quite a few, and of course, quite a few cisterns too.

Anonymous said...

"OTOH what gets flushed gets reused, etc."

Some water professors coursework had a reminder in it -

"All water issues are -quality- issues"

De-salinization plants that dump the salts back in the ocean wind up killing flora and fauna because they make the ocean too salty!

This all does come back full circle, though because to my surprise, the largest use other than agriculture of water is energy production. That includes solar thermal.

Though they are the costliest, and though she thinks that more CO2 makes it easier to produce Eunice' Dark Pale Ale, wind and photo-voltaics may be the best because operations don't involve wasting lots of water.


Thomas Lee Elifritz said...

De-salinization plants that dump the salts back in the ocean wind up killing flora and fauna because they make the ocean too salty!

I kind of take issue with that statement. I've seen terrible problems when the water wasn't properly disposed of, entire hillsides dessicated, but I've never seen a problem once in the water and a simple examination of the problem pretty much voids that issue. If you have a reference to sea water saltification I'll be happy to look at it though.

Russell Seitz said...

De-salinization plants that dump the salts back in the ocean wind up killing flora and fauna because they make the ocean too salty!

Even thnking about the dimensional analysis that went into that statement may result in brain death.

Anonymous said...


"Aquifers and water supplies are often (when they exist, in Bermuda for example many collect rainwater run off) local to the coastal cities and settlements, and thus vulnerable to sea water intrusion."

One really has to know the detailed geology. Presence of an aquifer along the coast need not mean that it is vulnerable to sea level rise.

It depends not only on the elevation but also on the details of the rock layers (permeability, thickness, etc) separating the salt and fresh water.

To know those details, one actually has to study (and understand) the detailed geological maps, including aquifers, of the islands in question

What a concept.

Anonymous said...

These two are pertinent:

http://www.ipsnews.net/2012/03/caribbean-looks-ahead-to-stave-off-fresh-water-scarcity/

http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/10/caribbean-looks-to-the-sky-for-water-security/

Adam

Anonymous said...

FYI, IUDKTA, in UK TSET of the S of OP, funny?? http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-and-eat-your-curry-4/

Brian said...

Brines can be a problem if the place you dump them isn't well-mixed (e.g., a shallow bay). Get them into deeper ocean levels or in places with a strong current and you've solved the problem, but this may add to the cost of the project or limit where you situate your desalination plants.

They're also a problem if you're desalinating salty groundwater, which can happen far from a convenient ocean.