Sunday, September 23, 2018

While Eli's Away, the Arctic's That Way


Hi Gang,

Eli is out on the flatlands and yes he has been neglecting his duties, but there are a couple of interesting things this year in the Arctic.  For one thing although the melt is not as large as in some other years, it is continuing quite late in the season


For another, the Northern Sea Route is wide open, with container ships making the transit and, very strangely, the Northwest Passage opened up late in September after being jammed all summer.  Even the main channel threatened to open up


That's September 15.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Mongolia: land of Priuses and coal





The headline is the answer to where we spent our summer vacation: two weeks in Mongolia, finishing with a week in South Korea.

Lots that could be said. Maybe the most blog-relevant though was the astounding number of Priuses (my favored plural form) we saw in the country, I'd guess they're almost half of the medium-sized and smaller cars on the road, virtually all of them second-hard cars from Japan with retrofitted frames to accept larger wheels for off-roading. Mongolia makes California look Prius-unfriendly.

By contrast to the Priuses, here's a view of air quality in the capital city:

This was in summertime a little over a week ago and our eyes stung within minutes; in winter the air quality is one of the worst in the world, for a city of 1.5 million people. Beijing had better air quality when we flew through there in transit. Most power (80%) comes from the pictured coal power plants. Even worse, the ger (yurt) districts ringing the capital are heated by individual coal stoves, or by wood and trash fuel.

We asked two elderly people in different parts of the country, a woman and a man, about what had changed the most in their lifetime, and both volunteered that it was the climate. Spring is always the dry and dusty season, but in the last 20 years it's been dryer for longer periods. Rains didn't start this year until July, and then came as floods. A country of pastoralists faces huge problems for climate.

With 3 million people, Mongolia doesn't contribute much to climate change, and it's on a good trend with the Priuses. I'd say most of the gers also sported PV solar panels like the one in the first pic; they've replaced generators for limited power needs.

Our guide says motorcycles have only recently replaced trucks as a way to herd animals around. One suggestion then would be the electric motorcycles now coming available could be used along with additional PV panels (and presumably an additional charging battery) to get the nomadic one-third or so of the country off the use of fossil fuels.

By contrast to the rural gers, the village buildings almost never had solar panels, so the fiscal incentives to hook up to coal-powered electricity must be heavily subsidized. I understand the need to do that in the capital, but in the villages it could be changed.

Our guide was shocked when I told him that in the US, wind power is cheaper than coal. He guessed that powerful people in government own the coal mines and have locked in the power contracts. It was windy every place we went to in southwest Mongolia, and there's more where that came from:


Mongolia's first priority has to be to fix air quality in the capital. The gers are picturesque but have to be replaced with housing connected to sewer and modern indoor heating. Soon they need to make use of this real wind power potential and limit coal. They should also just do everything possible to reduce incentives for people to move there, including decentralizing government functions.

Some other thoughts from the trip:

  • Mongolians prefer the term "Ulan Bataar" over "Ulan Bator" for their capital, and "Chingis Khan" over "Genghis Khan".
  • In a rare piece of good news, we saw lots of black-tailed gazelles, and our guide said there are a lot more of them due to new hunting regulations. Governmental rules in Mongolia are not just scraps of paper.
  • The over-simplified Mongolian viewpoint is that China was and remains a colonial oppressor, while Russia was the liberator (although they recognize some oppression there too). America has a good rep, maybe as a slight bit of counterbalance to the two giants on either side of Mongolia
  • AFAICT, Putin hasn't done anything potentially menacing in Mongolia like he has in many other former client states. Maybe there's no longstanding historical interest to move him, and Mongolia could theoretically rebalance towards China. It's interesting that Mongolia survives as a democratic country surrounded by dictatorships, albeit a somewhat corrupt dictatorship.
  • I'm somewhat - not completely but somewhat - cynical about indigenous peoples' cultural attachment to their environment resulting in better environmental protections, but it might actually make a difference in Mongolia. We'll see.
  • I have no big insights into South Korea, other than the sense that South Koreans (like Americans) don't have a great reputation as tourists, but they were incredibly nice to us visitors in their home country.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

One of Life's Little Delingpole Lights or Nature Bites Last


James Delingpole is out there shaking the cup for himself, setting up a gofundme to pay for treatment for chronic lyme disease and a bad overbite.

Delingpole is a Brit, and the Brits have a National Health Service so why is Delingpole out there with the begging bowl.  Well, it turns out that the right wing climate change denying rags, and Delingpole is an a number one denier of climate change, don't pay so well, and the National Health Service won't.  Why, well chronic lyme is one of those things that you can start a bar fight about at a medical convention.  The quacks don't believe in it and the people who believe they are suffering from it don't believe the quacks.

Flimsin is not very understanding, perhaps understandably
but Eli is laughing his head off.  Why the bunnies ask, enjoyment at the discomfort of others is not becoming they say to Eli.  Well, some not Eli to be sure, might be enjoying Delingpole brought low, but Eli he knows some stuff.

Like lyme disease is carried by a tick.  If you have ever been walking through the north woods, you inspect yourself and your loved ones inch by inch for those buggers if they have dug in because of lyme. Done correctly that can be. . . enjoyable.  Lyme is getting a lot worse.  Indeed the EPA tracks the incidence of lyme. on  a page with the title "Climate Change Indicators: Lyme Disease".  Turns out that the ticks can't survive cold winters, and if the winters are warmer there are more ticks.

James Delingpole has been laid low by climate change.  Nature bites last

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Heat Has No Hair


Among physicists and chemists, well at least the theoretical side of the latter it is well known that electrons have no hair by which is meant that a bunny can't tell one electron from another.  This has serious consequences in quantum mechanics because in a multi-electron system you have to allow for each electron to be anywhere any electron is and it gets quite complicated.  True, when an atom is ionized you can trace the electron as it is expelled from the atom, but you can't say WHICH electron it was.  Same for electron capture.  You could identify an atom before it is captured, but once it was captured you can not identify it from any of the others in the atomic system.

The same thing is true of heat.  Heat in an object, perhaps better thermal energy, is random motion of atoms and molecules, translation, vibration, whatever.  You can say where heat entering an object came from (say radiation from the sun), but  if there is more than one source (trivial case).
once it is randomized and in the object you can't say where it came from.

Which brings Eli to the evergreen claim of those who deny the greenhouse effect, that radiation is not important compared to convection. 


We can summarize the data in the figure above adding that ~40 W/m2 go directly from the surface to space as IR radiation of the 398 W/m2 leaving the surface.  In and out in the table below means into and out the surface the atmosphere and space respectively.  In is taken as a positive addition to the heat content and negative a decrease. All numbers are fluxes in W/m2 


The total amount of thermal energy leaving the surface is ~502 W/m2 with 398 of them coming from radiation and 104 from a combination of evaporation and sensible heat.  Just in passing note that the variability in the latter is much higher when integrated over the globe.

In addition to 161 W/m2 from the sun absorbed at the surface the surface is warmed by 342 W/m2 of IR radiation from the atmosphere.  At this point a whole lot of people say, hmm, 104 W/m2 from sensible heat and evaporation, e.g. convection, is bigger than the net 398 - 342 = 56 W/m2 from radiation, so radiation is not such an important process in cooling the surface, more properly removing thermal energy from the surface.  A lot of the more, shall Eli say, sky dragonny, or numerically impaired go so far as to say radiation is not important, even though on their own terms it accounts for about a third of the heat leak.

However, that is not the important point.  The important point is to realize that surface IR radiation absorbed in the atmosphere is rapidly (10 μs) thermalized and converted into random motion of the molecules in the atmosphere, just as is latent heat from condensation of water vapor and from sensible heat.  Very little, less than a part per million, is directly radiated back to the surface and we can neglect that.

The 342 W/m2 of back radiation is OBSERVED, so this ain't a model or a theory, where does it come from?  It comes from ALL of the sources pushing heat into the atmosphere, from the convective and radiative heat transfer from the surface.

That being the case the source of the IR backradiation must be allocated by proportion to the amount transferred from the surface.  Let's do that as is shown in the second and third lines of the table below


The bunnies can refer to the first table above and read out the amount of flux absorbed in the atmosphere from each source.  The next and last line is the proportional flux which warms the atmosphere.  By inspection IR radiation from the surface is much larger than the other three, indeed it is about twice as big as the sum of them.

As far as emission to space, 29% directly from reflection from the atmosphere and surface, 12 % directly from thermal IR emission of the surface and 59% comes from IR emission from the atmosphere.

Friday, August 31, 2018

The Simplest Green Plate Effect


Sometime ago Eli created a simple example of how the presence of a colder body can limit the rate at which a warmer one emits energy.  If the warmer body is receiving energy at a constant rate, then the steady state (colliquially equilibrium) temperature of the warmer body will be higher.

Of course this kind of kicks in the nuts arguments about how Uncle Clausius Bunny (he was a Bunny, not a Rabett) said that it was unpossible, even though he said no such thing and was quite aware that warmer and colder objects interchange thermal energy, aka heat, just that more flows from the hotter to the colder so on net, the warmer heats the colder.

Following Izen's lead and a suggestion by Christian Anders, Eli has a stripped down version to break even more heads.


Let's start with a blue plate special and a heat source which constantly transfers an amount of heat a per unit area to the plate.  To maintain a constant temperature the plate then radiates an amount of heat b from each side (yeah, Eli is assuming an really large blue plate, but edge effects are a bitch and if the plate is big enough the heat transfer from the edges can be neglected).  The algebra is trivial and the result is that the blue plate sheds an equal amount of heat in either direction





Now let us insert a green plate behind the blue plate.  Working the example through the bunny at the back of the class with his hand up finds that more of the absorbed heat a is radiated from the blue plate b'=2/3a and c=1/3a since a has to equal b'+c








Eli can keep on adding plates, Ms. Rabett has gone out to buy some extras.  Here is the red plate special.  If somebunny works it through they will find that b'=3/4 a, go another plate and, as Christian pointed out, now b' has increased to 4/5 a and so on. 

Eli has not said anything about how the heat is being transferred, radiation, convection or conduction but since heat transfer, no matter the mechanism, is always proportional to temperature, the temperature of the blue plate must increase as more plates are added.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Temperature Correlation Scale Over Time and Distance


What makes global temperature anomalies plots and maps go is the correlation of temperatures over a large area.  This also is key to homogenization of individual station data when something like position or time of day when measurements are made changes.  ATTP has a discussion going along these lines and perhaps Eli, as a long time observer, can add a bit of history and even some new insights.

The first (as far as Eli and most of the Bunnies know) study to make use of this was the ur-GISSTemp work of Hansen and Lebedeff in 1987 which settled on a correlation distance of ~1000 km, but noting a variation with latitude shown to the left.  The figure can be enlarged by clicking on it.

At middle and high latitudes the correlations approach unity as the station separation becomes small; the correlations fall below 0.5 at a station separation of about 1200 km, on the average. At low latitudes the mean correlation is only 0.5 at small station separation.
that they ascribed to

The distance over which strong correlations are maintained at high latitudes probably reflects the dominance of mixing by large-scale eddies. At low latitudes the most active atmospheric dynamical scales are smaller, but apparently there are also substantial coherent temperature variations on very large scales (for example, due to the quasi-biennial oscillation, Southern Oscillation, and E1 Nifio phenomena), which account for the slight tendency toward positive correlations at large station separations.

Casper, Alexander and Vose advanced the climateball in 2006, but to some, maybe only in Eli view not enough, notice, measuring how the correlation depended on season as well as latitude, clearly showing that the correlation distance decreases well below 1000 km during the summer and increases well above it in the winter.

While using a variable correlation distance would be hard to implement with a pad of paper and a comptometer for multiplication and division, it should be easy to do today with significantly greater computer power and better organized data bases to improve homogenization algorithms and temperature anomaly maps.

Which brings Rabett Run to the next point, how many stations are needed.  Sticking to his upbringing, Eli will ask needed for what? If all a lagomorph needs is a global temperature anomaly plot, the answer is not too many and one of the locals, Caerbannog, owns that franchise with his Wattsbuster, which he has been using on and off Twitter to slice dice and rice all use raw station data, use rural station data, use less station data, use more station data, use data from stations with left handed thermometer readers or right. bleats.







You can even get a reasonable match to the various global temperature anomaly measurements with fewer, even less that 10, but what you can't get are maps of the anomalies.  How many do you need for that.

While looking for the Casper, Alexander and Vose paper the existance of which Eli had dredged out of memory, Bunny came across Bridget Tobin's Master''s Thesis (advisor:Jerry North) which makes the point that

The autocorrelation length scale found in annual averaged observational surface temperature data is about 1500km (Hansen and Lebedeff, 1987; Kim and North, 1991). 1500km is the inherent length scale for long term averages in noise-forced energy balance models (North, 1982). It also happens to be the characteristic size for the synoptic scale features that are prominent on daily weather maps. This latter is probably due to the corresponding size of the Rossby radius of deformation (Hess, 1959). The climate (time averaged data) length scale is not solely determined by dynamical considerations but seems to be dependent on radiation damping as well.

It is interesting to see if this is a property exclusively of the surface temperature. If one takes disks of 1500 km radius and covers the earth, about 65 are required. This implies there are about 65 statistically independent regions on the earth with respect to low frequency surface temperature fluctuations (Hardin and Upson, 1993). If the correlation lengths are significantly larger in one season than in the other, it may be possible to use fewer than 65 statistically independent regions to cover the earth during that season. At the same time, the correlation areas seem to be largest in the more variable seasons. This coincidence suggests that a compensation occurs making the sampling errors seasonally invariant. 

So the answer is 65 or so.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Administrivia

Yes, Rabett Run has a full time administrator, but he sleeps a lot being very old.  Thus Eli has removed the comment notification gadget because the spam is getting fierce and it was exceedingly annoying. 

Read the damn topnotch posts and comments.

Reto Knutti on Research in the Era of Fake News


Reto Knutti wrote his experiences of Fake News and how to deal with it for the Schweiz am Wochenende.  It also appeared on the ETH Zurich website.  Since it is in German, Eli thought a translation would be useful.  As a scientist he included a few footnotes.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Research in the Era of Fake News

Fake news is everywhere, but climate research is specially targeted.  Reto Knutti on his experience with fake news and slander

Reto Knutti

A Russian website cites me under a picture as saying that mankind has only three quiet years left.  As a climate scientist I supposedly had written a report to this effect that was under lock and key [1].  Or: I was supposed to have said in another report that mushroom spores cause hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis [2]. Of course this is all completely made up from the first to the last word.  Still it did not take long for a Russian television station to come calling for an interview.

Communicating climate change is not for the faint of heart:  The range of reactions to my public statements ranges from allegations of fraud, power seeking and greed to hand written “proof”, that claim to show that conservation of energy is really something else than you find in physics books.  I’ve gotten used to this but it’s different when it comes to slander.


Those who lie about climate change or spread false rumors mostly do that because proposed solutions collide with their personal world view (Picture: marchmelena29 /iStock)

Known Symptons

The problem in a post factual age are at least superficially well known:   Democracy requires an informed public that in spite of differing opinions find common solutions.  But the opening of academic discourse (wissen-ER) through social media has led to each and every being able to say something faster and faster.  Everybody talks, no one listens and experts are often held to be suspicious rather than trustworthy.

In social media we often find ourselves in bubbles, there are no quality controls and fantasies or controversial statements get the most “likes”.  Fake news spread on Twitter faster and wider than facts [3].

There are reasons why the truth does not penetrate.  Sometimes it’s just about paying attention or advertising revenue.  In the case of climate there are often political or economic interests.  In 1998 an internal report from Shell documented the dangers of manmade climate change and the possible effects on the oil industry.  After that for many years the company tried to cast doubt on the scientific consensus [4].

Even today in the US one in four registered voters believes that global warming is fictional [5].  More than anywhere else opinions about climate change are determined by political ideology:  People don’t “believe“ in climate change because the possible solutions (high energy prices, governmental regulations) contradict their personal neoliberal convictions about unlimited growth and small government.

Hand Wringing About Solutions

Much of this diagnosis is not new.  The underlying problems are made worse by the vanishing of quality journalism, shouting on social media and as a result an increasingly polarized society.  How can one best deal with Fake News?

I have no conclusive answer.  Some answers which at least at first view seemed clear (not only to me) simply don’t work.  More facts in even more reports are to be sure relevant for policy decisions and technical solution but they scarcely change the opinions of the already convinced.  On the contrary, making clear why Fake News is fake often only increases its visibility.

Most of my attempts to respond to hostile or random claims and discuss them on line have not been fruitful.  The exchanges give the impression that the situation is unclear and everything is open to debate.  It is astounding that even penetrating the bubble does not help.  People who every day voluntarily confront different perspectives on Twitter become even more convinced in their views [6].

Get Involved Anyhow

There are also bright spots.  New work shows that readers can better deal with fake news if they are warned beforehand that it exists on a topic [7].  I am still convinced that we must continue to think about the relevant questions and discuss them in public despite the abundance of evidence and the shortage of time.

My experience is that eye to eye dialog is best when we are trying to separate facts from opinion.  A thermometer is not politically right or left exactly the same as there are not two sides to gravity.  We can agree about the facts and still have a debate about how we should react to them.  As scientist I don’t dictate to society what should be done.  However, I consider it my duty not only to produce numbers but to look at them critically and to explain what they mean without engaging in PR – a tightrope dance in the age when researchers are fighting for money and positions [8].

In addition to a common (fact based) denominator I always try to find common values and goals in conversations.  For this the way a problem is formulated, so called framing, is extremely important.  Respect for other opinions and readiness to listen are elements that build the trust that helps build bridges.  In this stories are crucial to deliver the message.  It all takes time but for me there is no way around it.

Sometimes It Needs a Few More Characters

Controversy delivers good headlines buy hardly constructive discussions.  With all the enthusiasm for new media and big data, for me, a real discussion requires both the solid synthesis of a quality newspaper and an informed reader rather than propaganda tweets from Trolls on the Web.  Not to mention algorithms that daily determine what is true or false.  Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, once said: “One can change the world with 140 characters”  He is really right.  But to understand the world and to improve it for the next generation you need a few more.

References

1. The ETH deliberately is not linking to these pages.  A Google search “knutti "the impending weather and climate catastrophe" will find multiple examples

2. The ETH deliberately is not linking to these pages.  A Google search “knutti Monica Gagliano" will find it

3. Article in Science

4. Center for international and environmental law: Internal Documents Shed New Light on Shell’s Role in the Climate Crisis (April 2018)

5. Yale Program on Climate Change Communication: Politics & Global Warming (March 2018)

6. Article in the Tagesanzeiger based on a preprint of a scientific manuscript

7. PNAS: Science in the age of selfies

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Interesting Times in the Arctic


Well, after what has been a boring melt season, maybe even Neven thinks so, the Northern Hemisphere heat wave appears to have created some interesting times (in the sense of the Chinese curse, may you live in interesting times) at the end. 

It may in the long run be nothing, but the ice pack appears to have separated from Greenland and the passage between Ellesmere Island and Greenland, or at least some impressive melt pools have formed and the ice to the west of the separation is not healthy



EH2R has a nasty gif  showing this from NASA Worldview, again, interesting in the catastrophic sense with a comparison from 2012 where it was smooth enough to skate on (well not really but not nearly so broken up)



Zack Labe has a really good tweet about this



And last, but not least, there are, again, interesting things happening on the Pacific side.  Neven has that story.  Basically WTF?


Could be interesting.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

The blind orange squirrel on Trump's scalp finds a nut






I share the same appalled reaction as the rest of the planet to Trump's dimunitive behavior when standing next to Putin. That isn't really what this post is about, but I can't entirely ignore it. I disagree with the claim that he made a Kinsley Gaffe when he said:

...they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be

A Kinsley Gaffe is when someone publicly says something they privately believe to be true and gets in trouble for it. That didn't happen here - Trump knew he was lying the first time around about there being no reason for Russian interference. He then lied again a few days later by claiming he meant to say he didn't see any reason why it "wouldn't" be Russia - he didn't mean to say that, he's just layering on another lie because he was in trouble from his previous lie. Saying there was literally no valid reason arguing against Russian involvement would be completely inconsistent with virtually everything that comes out of his mouth on the subject, constantly casting doubt on Russian involvement.

And none of that is what I want to talk about - which is the new gas pipeline, and Trump's Blind Squirrel is right to criticize it. However bad and dangerous Russian interference is in American elections, it's even worse in Europe. Why is Germany rewarding Russia when Germany and the rest of the democratic world is under attack?

I get the interdependence idea that Germany has advanced even during the Cold War, but this pipeline has the opposite effect - it reduces interdependence with Eastern European countries that are otherwise under the Russian thumb. Right now, if Russia cuts off supplies to Ukraine or other East European countries it's mad at, then it also loses sales to Western Europe. This new pipeline decreases integration and interdependence.

Trump's goal is for Europe to buy more American natural gas instead. A better goal and an achievable one is to further ramp up European renewables generation and storage capacity. It's not just an environmental issue, it's a national security one. Germany is missing the boat.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Public Access Policies for NASA

At least for the physical sciences public access policies are fairly recent and not at all clear.  This became obvious to Eli in a recent Twitter exchange and indeed, shows that many have not read the FAQ.

Note, that these are public access policies, not an open access policy, the difference being that any material not labelled open access remains under copyright but can be read.  It is subject to normal copyright use.  Open access publications are usually covered by Creative Commons copyrights.

NASA has established an archive for public access, NASA PubSpace, as part of PubMed Central.  Policy requires that digital copies of all peer reviewed articles sponsored by NASA in full or in part be made available for public access on PubSpace for publications supported by NASA grants that started after November 28, 2016 (OTOH there is another place which says it applies to all funded proposals submitted after January 2016.  Consult your program officer).  Unlike some other US government publication archives the final version must be deposited although an embargo of 12 months is allowed. IF the journal has an agreement with PubMed Central this may occur automatically.  Talk to your publisher.
What repository does NASA require PIs to use for depositing publications?  
NASA requires principal investigators who publish peer-reviewed journal articles or juried conference papers to deposit a copy of the item (either the final accepted version or the version of record, as defined in NASA's public access plan) in the NASA public access repository hosted by the National Institutes of Health at PubMed Central. 
What is a "final accepted version" of a manuscript?  
The final accepted version is the author's final manuscript of a peer-reviewed paper accepted for journal publication, including all modifications resulting from the peer-review process. It is the version before the journal makes edits that will constitute the final "version of record."  
What is a "version of record"?  
The version of record is the publisher's authoritative copy of the paper, including all modifications from the publishing peer review process, copyediting, stylistic edits, and formatting changes.
In other words no preprints.  Whose gonna pay for it?
What if my grant does not have sufficient funds to cover publication costs (remember this means costs with the public access in 12 months or less), or the grant has expired?  
Please consult with your institutional official for advice and options.
:)

Where is the hammer?
Will compliance with the NASA Public Access Policy affect the outcome of the application review? 
Compliance with the NASA Public Access Policy is not a factor in the scientific and technical merit evaluation of grant applications. Non-compliance will be addressed administratively and may delay or prevent awarding of funds. 
Are there exceptions?
Will NASA grant exceptions to the policy?  
NASA will consider exceptions only under the most extreme circumstances, such as the death of the sole author, on a case-by-case basis.
They have a video for external grantees, for civil service folk  and a FAQ

For civil service types there is undoubtedly training.  For external grantees, the first step is to register with Orcid.  With your grant you should have received information about linking your NASA grant to Orcid.  If not contact nasa-openaccess@mail.nasa.gov.  This is mandatory for PIs but co-Is and authors should also do this.  Registering links your grant to the National Institutes of Health Manuscript Submission System.  You should also check in your grant/contract whether your project requires pre-publication review.  In case of doubt check with your grant monitor.

At this point you have to go to the NIH Manuscript Submission System and it gets complicated.  Briefly, you login using your NASA Orcid ID, fill in some metadata, identify a Reviewer (PI appears simplest), upload the manuscript files including supplementary data


The FAQ and the Video have more information.  Eli's candid advice at this point is to take somebunny with an R1 out to lunch and get their advice on PubMed Central and the NIH Manuscript Submission System.

The End of Physics


Science is maybe only three times as old as Eli (Eli is very old, has he mentioned that recently) maybe 5 if you count back to Newton.  About a month and a half ago, the Bunny pointed out that physics was the simplest science, the one where you could most easily combine and contrast observations with theoretical descriptions in useful models.  It is also the science where humans have gone the farthest.  That raises the interesting question as to whether we have reached the end of physics or if a lagomorph prefers, the end of physics that a bunny can understand or do or use for other ends.  Comes to the same thing

There is little doubt that progress on foundations of physics finds itself in a traffic jam of a multitude of unprovable theories.  String theory, the multiverse, and other attempts to break out have not been very successful, one could say not at all for more than a few decades.  Astronomy, confronted with the issues of dark matter or modified gravity may not be far behind.

Attempts to go beyond the current paradigms for gravity and quantum behavior have become increasingly fanciful.  Peter Woit, on his blog, Not Even Wrong, has chronicled the search.  Sabine Hossenfelder, on her blog Backreaction and book Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray grapples with these issues.  Both are optimists in that they think that further progress is possible.  Eli maybe not so much. 

John Horgan, in 2012, wrote about an interview he had with Thomas Kuhn.  There is much of what Kuhn says that Eli disagrees with but perhaps more on that later.  For example, Kuhn appears to miss much of the interplay between observations and theory and models.  He also appears to fall into the philosophers trap of what does a thermometer measure, however there is a disturbing for us thread in the interview.

Kuhn described normal science as the working out of puzzles within an accepted framework or paradigm.  IEHO, for some areas it is almost certain that humans have approached the point where no further changes are likely.  Paradigm shifts in those areas are jogs not car crashes, and most often the new is simply an extension of the old to more extreme, smaller, or larger conditions.  Extension rather than revolution is something that the follow on to physics sciences are now experiencing. 

In that sense it is to be expected, that for example in chemistry, many new, exciting and useful puzzles will be solved in new ways but don't expect the hydrino revolution.  Ain't happening folks.

New foundational science can end.  It might have already done so in physics

Sunday, July 15, 2018

On Records


A distinguishing mark of a new record in a time series is that it exceeds all previous values another is that the first value in a time series is always a record. 

Given a stationary situation with nothing except chance, aka natural variation, the number of new records should decline to zero, or pretty close, as the series extends in time.

If governed by natural variation the rate at which it declines should be a marker of the nature of the wings, e.g. the distribution characterizing the climate from which the weather is sampled.

It’s pretty hot out there, with all sorts of new record highs being recorded. They are not declining to zero. This is strong and convincing evidence of increasing global temperatures.





That, and it being pretty hot out everywhere

ADDED:  Two interesting items, the first a 2017 paper by Andrew King on Attributing Changing Rates of Temperature Record Breaking to Anthropogenic Influences pointed out by Doug McNeil, the second a blog post by Andrew Gelman “A Headline That Will Make Global-Warming Activists Apoplectic”  on new temperature records.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Betts Test

Having engaged himself in a worthy round of hole digging while trying to explain why he never used what he himself acknowledged as the excellent Skeptical Science’s explanations about climate issues, Richard Betts fell back on defending Ethon’s favorite, Roger Pielke Jr., against the Skepticals listing said Roger as a climate misinformer.

This too did not go so well until Richard came up with the Betts test, that there were nowhere to be found on said list those who were really out of their mind worried about the dangers of climate change (the name of Peter Wadhams came up in this regard and indeed Dana Nucetelli has a few words on this)

However Eli finds the Betts test a good one and would point to an interesting example previously discussed here on Rabett Run, specifically Roger Jr.’s Convenient Truthiness. Now at the time, Roger’s Prometheus had not yet been pecked to death by Ethon, and Rabett Run was but a small vanity blog, but Eli had asked over there why Roger reserved all his fire for Mike Mann, Al Gore and the IPCC. The answer came

Question: Why don’t I write about glaciers, solar variability, Fred Singer, or Pat Michaels?  
Answer: I don’t know anything special about glaciers, solar variability, or the issues which are often discussed by Fred Singer or Pat Michaels. By contrast, I do know something about disasters and climate change. In fact, I know a lot, perhaps as much as only a few dozen people.
Eli was not particularly impressed
Other than the fact that the Google turns up a mess of Singer / Michaels pronuncimientos about climate change and disasters, we here at the Rabettorium were under the impression that the good Prof. Pielke runs a SCIENCE POLICY INSTITUTE and is always telling us that he loves science policy and we don't.

S. Fred and Pat have been playing in the science policy patch like forever, and maybe before. I am morally certain that RPJr has never, ever read a single word of that stuff. On the other hand, I am a bunny, and you know about the morals of hares. In the words of Dorothy Parker about a particularly childish children's book, Tonstant Weader Fwowed up.
UPDATE: Well, it looks like Roger knows S. Fred well enough to invite him to lecture his classes. FWIW, Trenberth, Sawitz et al also came. Roger also knows Pat Michaels work well enough to cite it in his publications on hurricane damage and elsewhere, as well as the fact that his father and Michaels are co-authors and long term collaborators. In short, the deniability here is not even plausible.
You want the links bunnies, well go to the original

Then, not a single comment from the audience now, well, ATTP has gathered a few but he always does a better job of that than Eli, but none at the time.

As to Roger, the Betts test is a wonderful razor to tear apart the envelop of his latest and Richard might consider taking a Betts test hisself.  Eli will be back with the results.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Hansen 1988 Retrouvé

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the 1988 publication of Global climate changes as forecast by Goddard Institute for Space Studies three-dimensional model Hansen, J., I. Fung, A. Lacis, D. Rind, S. Lebedeff, R. Ruedy, G. Russell, and P. Stone Eli along with others (like Gavin Schmidt, Nick Stokes and others) Eli went back and took a look at what had been discussed in these parts as well as those.  There are a lot of very good people who contributed to that paper, so it henceforth hereabouts shall be known as HFLRLRRS.

One of the most important things is that the current discussion focuses on the predictions of forcing as well as outcomes.  The first is more or less ecomonics, the second physics.

That being the case, HFLRLRRS were pretty good on both.  Back in 1988 Hansen described the choice of scenarios
For the future, it is difficult to predict reliably how trace gases will continue to change. In face, it would be useful to know the climatic consequences of althernative scenerios. So we have considered three scenarios for future trace gas growth, shown on the next viewgraph. 
Scenerio A assumes the CO2 emissions will grow 1.5 percent per year and that CFC emissions will grow 3 percent per year. Scenerio B assumes constant future emissions. If populations increase, Scenerio B requires emissions per capita to decrease. 
Scenerio C has drastic cuts in emissions by the year 2000, with CFC emissions eliminated entirely and other trace gas emissions reduced to a level where they just balance their sinks. 
These scenarios are designed specifically to cover a very broad range of cases. If I were forced to choose one of these as most plausible, I would say Scenario B. My guess is that the world is now probably following a course that will take it somewhere between A and B
In 2006, Eli pointed out that the CO2 prediction was eerily accurate


It shows that many details in emission scenarios are unimportant, or rather that false estimates in one direction are most likely going to be cancelled by false estimates in the other for a different forcing agent, and that on average the scenarios should be useful for larger periods.
Which is what happened using the illustration from Real Climate


A neat thing in HFLRLRRS which has not been commented on much were the color coded maps of temperature anomalies by decade in the future which can be compared to measurements. Eli finds this much more interesting and informative about the early GISS model than the time one dimensional variation of averate global temperature change.  Comparing the result for the 2010s with measurements between 2014-2016 show that HFLRLRRS captured the broad picture but was not perfect


Arctic amplification is clear in the model and 30 years later in the observation.  Otoh, the Antarctic in the model is clearly too warm as is the Arctic south of Greenland. The third pole (the Tibetan Highland is too warm also. It would probably be better to map out more of the current decade wrt the El Nino - Southern Oscillation, 2016 being a monster El Nino, but the period also includes about a year of La Nina.
Another, not remarked much upon thing is that  HFLRLRRS calculated the temperature change compared to the interannual variabilty of their 100 year control run.  The change is everywhere (with the exception of the Indian Ocean off Perth) positive compared to the null of the control.  What would be interesting (to Eli) to compute would be the model interannual variability for the 2010s compared to that of the control run.  Indeed were Eli in charge, CIMP runs would include such a metric.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Democratic National Committee "quietly" bans fossil fuel company contributions

Some good news for a change:

The Democratic National Committee voted over the weekend to ban donations from fossil fuel companies, HuffPost has learned.

The resolution....bars the organization from accepting contributions from corporate political action committees tied to the oil, gas and coal industries....

“We talk about how climate change is real and climate change is a planetary emergency, what we need to do is stop taking money from the institutions that have created this crisis,” said RL Miller, president of the super PAC Climate Hawks Vote Political Action and a co-author of the resolution.

The DNC may consider a second resolution at a full board meeting in Chicago in August to ban contributions over $200 from individuals who work for the fossil fuel industry. Miller said the proposal ― which has not yet been submitted to the DNC ― will hopefully lead candidates to adopt similar policies....

The energy and natural resource sectors, including fossil fuel producers and mining firms, gave $2.6 million to the DNC in 2016, according to data collected by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. That’s a pittance compared to the $56.1 million that came from the finance and real estate sectors, the DNC’s largest corporate donors that year. This year, the energy and natural resource sectors’ donations totaled $186,100 by the middle of May....
The coal mining industry gave 97 percent of its donations to Republicans in 2016 ― a figure that has dipped to 95 percent this year. 

While it's not a huge change in how the money is currently distributed, it will have a cascading effect as Democratic politicians find it increasingly hard to accept fossil fuel contributions, and then be influenced by those donations. I think it will be even more important at the state and local level, where we'll be seeing most of the climate action for the time being.

And at some point the Ds will have the same control in Washington that they had for six months of Obama's first term, and this will give them more freedom to act.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Physics is the Simplest Science

Physics is the simplest science, a hard won truth that Eli has reached after many years in many fields. A bunny can do a lot of physics with pencil and paper, maybe even without those if enough homework has been passed in and marked.

This may seem, perhaps, a bit simplistic to some and mistaken to your average physicist, but consider, science is done through a mix of observation and computation. Physicists in the 17th century didn’t have to observe very much before they could start generating computational theories using pen and paper and testing them against observation. Physics is simple enough that one only need observe a few things before starting to build theories and compute results that could be compared to observations.

Other areas, not so simple. Lavoisier put it well, you cannot have a science without an agreed nomenclature because without you cannot talk about anything.

“The impossibility of separating the nomenclature of a science from the science itself, is owing to this, that every branch of physical science must consist of three things; the series of facts which are the objects of the science, the ideas which represent these facts, and the words by which these ideas are expressed. Like three impressions of the same seal, the word ought to produce the idea, and the idea to be a picture of the fact. And, as ideas are preserved and communicated by means of words, it necessarily follows that we cannot improve the language of any science without at the same time improving the science itself; neither can we, on the other hand, improve a science, without improving the language or nomenclature which belongs to it. However certain the facts of any science may be, and, however just the ideas we may have formed of these facts, we can only communicate false impressions to others, while we want words by which these may be properly expressed”
A useful working definition of science, a well liquored and tasty combination of observation, ideas and discussion.

Just to pick the next simplest science chemistry, the nomenclature is voluminous, systematic though it might be, to occupy a huge database and committees of learned souls called together by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry to deal with new discoveries. Biology is worse. A lagomorph might argue that biology began with Linnaeus’ nomenclature for living organisms and for quite some time stayed there. And then we have geology and the rest of the alphabet soup of the geosciences each with their own dictionary that has to be mastered.

Eli conceptualizes this as the cladistic dimension. The physics dictionary is pretty thin by comparison except where physics meets materials and the other sciences bring their descriptive overload in.

Computationally a lot of physics can indeed be done with pen(cil) or paper depending on how many mistakes are to be made. You can do damn near no chemistry with pencil and paper beyond simple physics applications such as thermo or stat mech.

When Eli moved over to chemistry in the 1970s, theory was an object of derision and, as general chemistry today, required a series of rules, sequentially setting forth any number of simple models for chemical bonding and reaction following the historical development of the science. As each model was stacked on the next to extend them and handle myriad exceptions to each, students struggle. Why each of these simplifications works and their limits of applicability was not obvious, or at least not so until reaching the quantum basis of atomic and molecular structure. At that point, perhaps, when it became obvious how each of the historical models is an expression of quantum mechanics everyone, hopefully nods their heads and says "Oh yeah".

By the 1970s computational chemistry was a hungry beast posed to devour computer cycles. The formalism was prepared and a few brave souls had seen the future, working out relatively simple cases on several reams of paper, or with mainframe heat pumps filled with vacuum tubes.

The driving force is interesting. About twenty years ago it became clear that observation could never be complete enough to describe all the chemistry that was wanted. One could never measure any chemical process for all of the conditions possible and even if one could and could do a statistical parameterization of the results it would be flying blind because there would be no understanding of the underlying chemistry. It would all be handwaving, perhaps statistically valid handwaving but handwaving none the less, and worse, it would not be clear under what conditions the handwaving would fail.

Computational chemistry, validated against observational chemistry is today’s gold standard.

Eli would posit that atmospheric science has passed through this same progression enabled by computational forcing, but more so. Not only can we not make all the observations that would be needed to fully describe the Earth’s atmosphere, but absent a time machine and a large ensemble of Earth, or at least Earth like planets, we could never do so.

Thus Earth System Models, if you like Global Climate Models grown up.

Part II will add a few dimensions to the Kuhn Cycle and Part III will use all of this to illuminate the crisis in fundamental physics

Friday, June 01, 2018

Tobis' Rule

MT has come up with an interesting observation, which Eli has dubbed Tobis' Rule

 If a large data set speaks convincingly against you find a smaller and noisier one that you can huffily cite.
There are any number of wonderful examples of Tobis' Rule.  All the bunnies have observed that the mean global sea level rise since 1880 has accelerated in the last twenty years.  The record is built on tide gauges and in recent decades on satellite observations.  Tamino has been all over this one time and again

So Eli asks, what is the smaller and noisier one that our friends at denial central point to?  Hold the Bunny's beer:

 carefully selected from the NOAA tides and currents data base.

Who amongst us Eli asks has not observed that the global temperature anomaly is rising

Well there are a lot of Okies out there


This being the Stanley Cup final weeks, the classic hockey stick based on a large number of proxys

Of course, there are a lot more where that came from


 and if you get a cast of a thousand or so paleoclimate people out pops Pages 2K but what does Eli see without end on blogs, twitter and so forth, why a sketch from HH Lamb that appeared in the first IPCC report based on the Central England Temperature series
A bunny could make a hobby out of tracing down all the "enhanced" variations of this sketch which had it's origin in the 1960s, but that, of course is another story

Humble readers, in Eli's humble opinion Tobis' Rule ranks right up there with the Gish Gallop.  Make it so.  Make it so

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Quoted without comment, from "The Fortunes of Africa"

Page 581:

With relentless propaganda, the Nationalists played on the electorate's racial anxieties at every opportunity. They paid particular attention to working-class Afrikaners facing competition from cheap black labour. By 1948 about half of the white Afrikaans-speaking population lived in urban areas. A large proportion were miners, railwaymen, transport, factory and steel workers for whom the Nationalist slogan of apartheid, promising protection of white jobs, had a potent appeal....

The National Party won the 1948 election by a narrow margin. In his victory speech, Malan declared: 'Today South Africa belongs to us once more. For the first time since Union, South Africa is ours, and may God grant that it will always remain our own.'

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Kicking the gas engine scooters while they're down



Interesting article on Electrek, with small gas-engine scooter sales in Europe plunging:

New figures report that sales of gas-powered scooters and motorcycles dropped by 6.1% in the first quarter of 2018, as compared to the same period in 2017. The largest decline in sales has been attributed to smaller scooters and mopeds below 50cc.

Sales of scooters and mopeds under 50cc have dropped by 40.2% over the same period. In France, which is the largest moped market in Europe, sales dropped even further by 41.5%.

Electric scooters and motorcycles sales are rising rapidly but only account for about a quarter of the equivalent gas engine sales, so they're only part of the picture. The rest of the picture:

Electric bikes aren't registered so they don't have the same level of recent data, but their range, speed, convenience, and cost are eating into the small scooter market. (Side note: I can speak to this personally, the Ford GoBike program I use now has electric bikes and they make my commute even easier.)

So good news if not exactly the biggest news in the world, but is there a policy implication? Yep - the market is proving that right now that there are great substitutes for small gas engine scooters, so ban the sales of new ones. If that's too dirigiste for some, then ban the gas engines that don't pay for an equivalent amount of lifetime operational carbon emissions, or just require a hefty fee of the ones that don't - it'll have the same effect.

One might argue the effect, regardless, is zero because the market is probably going to eliminate these scooters within several years. My response is that probably doesn't mean certainly, and cutting off a long tail of dwindling sales is a good thing. Even more important though is the cultural and political precedent showing that gas engine vehicles are on their way out, and we're going to give them an additional push in that direction.

While these things barely exist in the US, maybe the mostly-dreaming legislative bills here in California to eventually ban gas-engine cars could take a baby step for now by banning these scooters.