Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bridge Building

Eli grew up in Brooklyn and one of the things he particularly was fond of, other than Flatbush carrots, was biking down to and across the Brooklyn Bridge.  The story of the Roeblings and especially Emily Warren Roebling at Scandalous Women is worth reading

I’ve always found the story of Emily Warren Roebling inspiring, because it’s a story of how a woman came into her own and learned what she was capable of through adversity.  It’s also a deeply moving love story. When Washington Roebling was unable to continue hands-on work as chief engineer, his wife Emily worked tirelessly to relay his wishes to the workers, and to keep the vision that father and son had worked long and hard to achieve.   This was during the late 19th century, when the idea of a woman being able to understand complex mathematics or science, was unheard of.  Many men(and women) believed that women’s brains weren’t developed enough or that they were too weak. The idea that a woman could be even partly responsible forbuilding one of the world’s marvels was just too ridiculous to contemplate.  Without Emily’s perseverance and faith, Washington Roebling might have been replaced, and the history of the Brooklyn Bridge would have turned out much differently.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Melting Ice and Cold Weather

UPDATE:  After reading this see the update at the bottom for more or just go over to Neven's place

Translated from an article by Stefan Rahmstorf  [] are translation notes

The media are debating if the decrease in  Arctic ice  is related to this winter's cold weather in Germany. This post discusses the most recent current research about this including the most important figures from relevant studies.

First, what does the unusual temperature distribution observed this March actually look like? Here is a map showing the data (up to and including March 25, NCEP / NCAR data plotted with KNMI Climate Explorer):

Freezing cold in Siberia, reaching across northwestern Europe, unusually mild temperatures over the Labrador Sea and parts of Greenland and a cold band diagonally across North America, from Alaska to Florida. Averaged over the northern hemisphere the anomaly disappears - the average is close to the long-term average. Of course, the distribution of hot and cold is related to atmospheric circulation, and thus the air pressure distribution. The air pressure anomaly looks like this:

There was unusually high air pressure between Scandinavia and Greenland. Since circulation around a high is clockwise [anticyclone], this explains the influx of arctic cold air in Europe and the warm Labrador Sea. 

Arctic sea ice

Let us now discuss the Arctic sea ice.  The summer minimum in September set a new record low, but also at the recent winter maximum there was unusually little ice (ranking 6th lowest - the ten years with the lowest ice extent were all in the last decade). The ice cover in the Barents sea was particularly low this winter.  All in all until March the deficit was  about the size of Germany compared  to the long-term average.

Is there a connection with the winter weather?  Does the shrinking ice cover influence the atmospheric circulation, because the open ocean strongly heats the Arctic atmosphere from below?  (The water is much warmer than the overlying cold polar air.) Did the resulting evaporation of sea water moisten the air and thus lead to more snow? These questions have been investigated by several studies in recent years.

Petoukhov and Semenov, JGR 2010

These two scientists from the Potsdam Institute and the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences in Kiel used the ECHAM5 atmospheric model.  As a boundary ondition in a series of simulations they reduced ice cover in the Barents and the adjacent Kara Seas. With a medium sized reduction in ice volume similar to what we now see they calculated the anomaly in the pressure distribution shown below (they also examined what would happen for a complete loss):

Thus, abnormally high air pressure between Scandinavia and Greenland. Leading to the following temperature anomaly:

Cold from Siberia to Western Europe and a heat bubble centered on Labrador - quite similar to the temperatures this March.

Jaiser et al., Tellus 2012 

Our colleagues from the Alfred Wegener Institute, together with U.S. researchers, examined the question of whether one finds this relationship in observational data. For this purpose, they investigated the correlation between the distribution of air pressure and ice cover in an analysis of their covariance. They concluded: 
Our analysis suggests that Arctic sea ice concentration changes exert a remote impact on the large-scale atmospheric circulation during winter 
The following graph from this work shows how the distribution of air pressure in winter changes between phases of low and high fall-ice cover in the Arctic:

You can see that low ice cover correlates with high pressure in the Arctic winter, again between Scandinavia and Greenland - just as in the model calculations of Petoukhov and Semenov. (Jaiser et al do not show temperature maps)

Liu et al., PNAS 2012

Next on the dance card is a study which appeared shortly thereafter by researchers from the U.S. and China, which approached the problem from both sides: model simulations and data analysis. The following map shows the linear regression between less ice cover in autumn and the temperature in winter:

Again, these temperature anomalies are similar to the two shown above, the temperature map for this March and that from the model of Petoukhov and Semenov.

An observed correlation (as in this diagram and in Jaiser et al.) is still not a causal connection, therefore Liu et al. also made a series of model calculations, but with a different model (the American model from NCAR). Further, they calculated a larger ensemble (20 runs with varying initial conditions), which makes the results statistically more robust. As a boundary condition in the model they took the observed reduction of the ice cover in the Arctic and calculated ensembles with or without the ice decrement. The result of these simulations for the temperature is as follows:

Again cold in Siberia and Europe, warmer over the Labrador Sea, and a cold band across North America. From the model, we know that it's not just a correlation, but a causal relationship: In the model setting the prescribed ice cover results in cold temperatures over Europe, just as in Petoukhov and Semenov. The associated air pressure maps are also similar. 

Liu et al. also have dealt with whether alternatively the Arctic Oscillation (AO) or the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) could explain the temperature anomalies.  They showed that these natural oscillations lead to different spatial patterns and inter-annual fluctuations - they ruled out the AO and NAO as causes. 

They also have examined the relationship with snow and come to the conclusion that additional open water in the Arctic humidifies the air, leading to increased snowfall.  The snowpack is important because even the strong March sun can hardly heat up snow-covered land; the white surface simply reflects the sun's rays. According to Liu, et al.
 We conclude that the recent decline of Arctic sea ice has played a critical role in the recent cold and snowy winters. 
However, the taz quoted [German paper] yesterday the spokesman of the German Weather Service [DWD in German] as saying that if there was a direct relationship with the sea ice cover,  the entire winter would have to be very cold in Germany.  I think this trivial argument with which he would like to wipe from the table the climate research results shown above is pretty embarrassing for the DWD.  Of course open water in the Arctic  does not prevent stochastic weather variability.  There will always be warm and cold periods. In all these studies it comes down to changing probabilities in the prevailing weather patterns: Petoukhov and Semenov estimate that the probability of cold winter extremes could triple, that is even in the Abstract. One wonders whether the DWD representative has read the relevant studies at all - and if not, why he feels the urge to comment on them in the media. Unfortunately, it has a certain tradition that meteorologists dealing with weather, are not familiar with climate science. 

In my view, the above studies provide strong evidence for a link between Arctic ice loss due to global warming, more frequent winter high pressure, especially over the Atlantic-European part of the Arctic, and an associated influx of cold air to Europe. As we have often seen in recent winters - for example in a spectacular way in the first half of February 2012

Still this is still not settled science - the studies are relatively new and need to be discussed intensively in the professional community and confirmed by further research, or perhaps called into question. This is the normal process of scientific debate, through which at the end findings are distilled which are robust and widely accepted, such as the fact that our emissions of greenhouse gases warm the climate. 

P.S. (29.3.) I see now that the climate lie detector has put its finger on the beautiful article in Welt Online, which a few days ago once again presented the proverbial "Russian scientists who predict an ice age" warning of a "freezing pig cycle".  There is no better way of actually disproving that solar fluctuations are to blame, when even diehard "climate skeptics" can not find any more respectable arguments. This time, even sponsored by Gazprom (for real!).  Anyone interested in the subject of climate and sun: could read What role does the sun play? [Maybe Eli will translate some day for some carrots]


Jaiser R, Dethloff K, Handorf D, Rinke A, Cohen J (2012) Impact of sea ice cover changes on the Northern Hemisphere winter atmospheric circulation.Tellus Series A-Dynamic Meteorology and Oceanography 64th doi: 10.3402/tellusa.v64i0.11595

Liu JP, Curry JA, Wang HJ, Song MR, Horton RM (2012) Impact of declining Arctic sea ice on winter snowfall. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109 (11) :4074-4079th doi: 10.1073/pnas.1114910109

Petoukhov V, Semenov VA (2010) A link between reduced Barents-Kara sea ice and cold winter extremes over northern continents. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres 115th doi: 10.1029/2009jd013568

UPDATE:  R Gates at Neven's Sea Ice Blog
There are certainly two dynamics at play in the "weirding" of this winter's weather, but before discussing them, it would probably be good to understand that we are in a new regime of climate and therefore weather patterns, and thus, the weather is only weird compared to some former regime. In other words-- weird is the new norm, and it will be weird in the future not to have blocking patterns and associated extremes that come with climate change.

But back to the two big dynamics at work in this winter's NH winter. The first is of course the big SSW [Sudden Stratospheric Warming]  event that took place in early January. This event was not unlike the big SSW events of 2009 and 2006. The polar vortex was shattered and the normal westerlies over the Arctic reversed and cold air from the east has been generally circulating over N. Europe for several months. The SSW event from January, in addition to breaking down the vortex and warming the stratosphere over the Arctic, brought downwelling air actually all the way from the mesosphere down into the stratosphere and created higher pressure all the way down to the troposphere. . . .  In short, the SSW event from January has had lingering repercussions far beyond the original rapid stratospheric temperature spike. [continued]

Thursday, March 28, 2013

What Is Science?

To be honest Eli don't often agree with KT but K said something profound down below

No, and I think you'll agree with me here: it's a science and we ought to hold it to exactly the same standards as any other.

You really don't 'get' science.

There are no standards and there are no rules, except possibly for the journals, and the journal publications do not define science - they just report some of it. In fact, there is no real definition of science, there are just devices that can be fabricated repeatably that do actual work, and the work itself, which reveal insights to you, if it happens to be communicated to you by way of print or any other media, or in the form of product devices, which you can then use to do your own 'science'. It's a cumulative self correcting collective effort with parts that rise and fall according to the whims and funding of the investigators. You should try it sometime, you might like it. You can even incorporate some of its methods into your daily life.
The auditors just don't get it. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Laughing at those who laugh at science

Chris Mooney had one of his usual good Point of Inquiry shows back in November that I just caught, an interview with Michael Gordin, who wrote The Pseudoscience Wars. Gordin considers the idiot Velikovsky to be one of the originators of modern pseudoscience. Astronomers of the time tried denouncing him, tried ignoring him, and then Carl Sagan even tried engaging and refuting his nonsense one step at a time. None of it worked. Instead, just as science advances one funeral at a time, pseudoscience sometimes gets scrubbed away one funeral at a time. Nobody cares about Velikovsky any more.

It's still unclear how to handle idiotic attacks on science. A latest idiotic attack by people who don't understand science and therefore respond by laughing at it, is an attack stating the study of evolution of duck genitalia is so stupid that it's funny. At the link, Carl Zimmer disposes of the idiots, but I think he's using Carl Sagan's technique of engaging and refuting them on the facts. As Sagan found out, that doesn't really work.

Eli's trick has been to engage, refute, and laugh at the science deniers. I think it's worth a shot but I don't know if it'll work, and I've not quite figured out the right tone to take myself. I've also tried engage, don't refute, just bet them, but that hasn't gone all that far. I can't figure out how to bet people who laugh at the scientific value of biology experiments, so maybe just laughing at those people is the best bet right now. The experiment of figuring out how to handle pseudoscience will have to continue.

Bernard J Has Another Suggestion

It has come to Eli's attention that some of the bad bunnies don't think much of the Marcott Wheelchair curve.  Bernard J has another suggestion.


My carbon or yours?

So our water district staff presented how they thought we could reach carbon neutrality by 2020. Depending on how you do the numbers, we became carbon neutral without even trying.

A lot depends on this:

(Full presentation via scrolling to March 26 2013, Item 4.1)

That's how much energy's used to cradle-to-grave a water drop from the Sierras to the outflow of a wastewater treatment plant. My district is a water wholesaler - we handle the first three steps, and then a water retailer (either a private company or city government) buys the water from us, gets it to the end user, and picks it up from there to a sewage treatment plant. You can see the main energy use is the end user, mainly because they heat it. Our staff argues that end use is by the end user, not our responsibility, and I said I'd have to chew on it. Any thoughts? Possibly relevant is that the vast majority of water we sell them never gets heated, so that end use figure conflates some very high and much lower energy using water together.

This is important not only because it says we're not causing that lion's share of energy use, but because our water conservation programs are focused on end users, so reducing their usage could be counted as an offset. That gets us to carbon neutrality pretty easily if you accept numbers that no one's really going to accept, but still more easily than I expected even with more realistic assumptions.

In other news, the Army Corps of Engineers is drawing a reasonable amount of tax money from our county but not funding many flood control or San Francisco Bay restoration projects. You can hear what passes for a "concerned statement" on my part below:

Get Microsoft Silverlight

If the link's bad, click here, go to March 26 2013, and the video segment is from 1:57:50 to  1:59:04.

Should Eli Believe His Lying Eyes or Makarieva

James reminds Eli of  Makarieva et al in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics as well as featuring on several blogs.  One can summarize the entire thing by noting that Makarieva claims that winds are formed when water vapor condenses decreasing the gaseous volume.  Were this the major process, air would move inwards towards the area where the condensation occurred.  Most others point out that the release of energy from the heat of condensation will blow the air outwards.  That's the summary

There was an almost infinite amount of mathturbation about this including the original paper, and Dr. Makarieva was very, well, insistent.

Eli OTOH is a member of the reality based community.  The Rabett likes to look at what is going on and figure out what it means before turning the math crank.  Recently Ms Rabett dragged Eli off into the mountains where he could actually watch the clouds form.  He could tell you what happened, but in this world we have the video.

There are lots more of these on You Tube and in all of them when the cloud forms it expands, the condensed water vapor provides an excellent tracer of the process,

So who should the bunnies trust.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Inside Baseball Memo War

NASA Watch yesterday had posts and comments about a memo issued by NASA suspending all educational and public outreach activities

From:     NASA Chief Financial Officer and the NASA Chief of Staff 
Subject:   Guidance for Education and Public Outreach (EPO) Activities Under Sequestration

. . .  Effective immediately, all education and public outreach activities should be suspended, pending further review. In terms of scope, this includes all public engagement and outreach events, programs, activities, and products developed and implemented by Headquarters, Mission Directorates, and Centers across the Agency, including all education and public outreach efforts conducted by programs and projects. The scope comprises activities intended to communicate, connect with, and engage a wide and diverse set of audiences to raise awareness and involvement in NASA, its goals, missions and programs, and to develop an appreciation for, exposure to, and involvement in STEM. Audiences include employees, partners, educators, students, and members of the general public. The scope encompasses, but is not limited to:
  • Programs, events, and workshops.
  • Permanent and traveling exhibits, signage, and other materials. 
  • Speeches, presentations, and appearances, with the exception of technical presentations by researchers at scientific and technical symposia. 
  • Video and multimedia products in development (and renewal of existing products). Web and social media sites in development (excludes operational sites).  
  • External and internal publications, with the exception of Scientific and Technical Information as defined by NPD 2200.1B.  
  • Any other activity whose goal is to reach out to external and internal stakeholders and the public concerning NASA, its programs, and activities.
Planet 3.0;s  evaluation is
After years of squirming about what to say in public for fear of irritating people who find science vaguely suspicious, NASA is apparently now hiding under the protective covering of “sequestration” (the financial kind) to stop public outreach altogether.
But then it was decided that some things are more important than saving money
David S. Weaver
Office of Communications

TO: Communications Coordinating Council (CCC)

FROM: Associate Administrator for Communications

SUBJECT: Instructions for Waiver from Guidance and Additional information for Education and Public Outreach Activities Under Sequestration

I am providing additional information and instructions regarding the review of public outreach activities under sequestration as outlined in the memorandum from the NASA Chief Financial Officer and Chief of Staff dated March 22, 2013.

First, I am exempting the following activities from immediate suspension:

* Mission announcement media events and products
* Breaking news activities
* Responses to media inquiries
Which MT thought was unfortunate backsliding from NASA's real mission of burning money to fly bricks. Still, all is not lost, today's memo exempts most of NASA's educational programs
TO: Educational Coordinating Council (ECC)

FROM: Associate Administrator of Education

SUBJECT:  Waiver from Guidance for Educational and Public Outreach Activities Under Sequestration.

Following the memo from the NASA Chief of Staff dated march 22, 2014 I am exempting the following activites from immediate suspension
  • Digital Learning Network activities currently scheuled
  • First Robotis
  • Flight Projects - specifically ARISS, Earth KAM, Education Downlinks, Zero Robotics
  • Great Moonbuggy Race
  • Lunabotics Competition
  • Microgravity University activities currently scheduled
  • NASA Educational Technology Services (NETS)
  • NAS Internships, Fellowships and Scholarships
  • NASA Museum Alliance
  • Science Engineering Mathematics Aerospace Academy (SEMAA)
  • Student Launch Initiative/Undergraduate Student Launch Initiative
  • Summer of Innovation
Waiver of these activites does not provide permission for an emplyee to attend or participated in these activities.  Individual employees must still meet the following criteria. . .
which says nothing about the contractors who are involved in most of these activities.

Oh yes, NASA Public Affairs is being very shy about the last memo.  According to NASAWatch 
NASA PAO has decline to provde a copy of this letter and has said that I need to file a FOIA request in order to get it. I have filed the FOIA request. This usually takes weeks although they could expedite this.
Eli has been awaiting this sort of stuff ever since Disney bought the Star War's franchise.  It's definitely Star War Time.

Another Reason to Subscribe to Rabett Run


Just heard that Climate Nexis is holding a Web Ex press conference right now.  Bunnies are invited to join but let the press ask the questions

Most experts now predict that sea ice-free Arctic summers may occur as soon as 2030, a dramatic shift from the International Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 projection of an ice-free summer by 2100. Some say it could happen this decade.

WHAT: A WebEx tele-press conference with four leading scientists
WHERE: Please use this link to join. The password is “arctic.”

  • Dr. Walt Meier, Research Scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)
  • Rear Adm. David Titley (retired), Expert in the field of climate, the Arctic and national security; Former Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for Operations, the Chief Operating Officer position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • Dr. Stephen Vavrus, Senior Scientist, Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

My "prediction": Tolkien was a wrestler

Off topic, but still a prediction in that I don't know the answer:  I think Tolkien wrestled in his youth. When you read his description of armed combat, it's pretty simple and somewhat vague, but when it becomes unarmed combat, suddenly every single motion gets described and punching takes a distant second place to grappling.

Maybe it's out there somewhere, but I've looked around and not read much about Tolkien's athleticism - some brief mention of tennis and rugby at Oxford, but that's about it.

Anyway, I always thought his description of physical combat demonstrated the saying, write what you know. Maybe sometime I'll find out if my prediction's right.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Have some denial spaghetti

Original, clean, persuasive chart from Skeptical Science:

BTW, as much as Hansen 1988 has been proven right despite fraudulent misrepresentations of what he said, the first consensus view like this one from 1990 is probably the best place to test consensus predictions.

Enter Deltoid:

Ridley doesn't look very good, and his escape attempts don't work.

Anyway, I want to play:

Lindzen is from his 2004 prediction that temps were as likely to go down as up in 20 years, and his offer to bet over that prediction that he ran away from as fast as his denialist legs could take him (by insisting on unscientific odds in his favor). To be fair, he didn't specify exactly what temps would do between 2004 and 2024, but we've eaten a big chunk of that time period already. You could also be more generous to Lindzen than I've been - his bet offer was reported on November 10 2004, I assume it had been his position for at least a little while and picked mid 2004 as the start. If instead, you pushed the start to as close to that 2005 peak as possible, then he might not look that bad to you. If you want to do that, please please let me know that you'd like to bet over it, 3:1 odds in your favor sound great to me.

Don Easterbrook, one of the bad Easterbrooks, said in 2006 that temps would decline "soon" and keep cool until 2040. Who knows what soon means, I assumed 2007. We're over one-sixth of the way through his time period though - a reasonably soon date would've started by now.  I chose a slightly declining slope for his prediction, I'm not aware of him being more specific. And yes, he's also ignored my effort to get him to bet over his prediction.

I'm happy to add others as long as they're at least semi-prominent and claim scientific credentials. Abdusamatov and Sorokhtin both predicted declines starting around 2012, so we can add them soon.

For good stuff on predictions, try the good Easterbrook. I don't consider the Christy/Spencer '95 ref to be a prediction though, it was just wrong stuff about satellites, and strangely for them finds a warming trend (UPDATE:  due to greenhouse effects) of .09C/decade, not all that far off the mark.

For where the models do seem to be getting things wrong, try Stoat's concern about Arctic ice:
even with the junk removed I fear you’d find the obs retreat faster than the models; and I’m beginning to wear thin the idea that this is just a few years anomaly. So, really, we need better models and a better understanding of what is going wrong with the current models.

My unscientific addendum is wondering whether models are getting frequency of La Ninas wrong for whatever reason, pushing more heat into the ocean than expected, and where the heat will get its revenge on us later (when is that, by the way?).

The Egg Was First, No, the Chicken, No Never Mind

An evergreen in Eli's business is which came first exiting the ice age, the temperature or the greenhouse gas concentrations.  Since the forcing is orbital changes, it is reasonable to expect at least some initial lag in the greenhouse gas and that includes water vapor, but the length of this lag has been an issue ever since Monnin, et al's analysis of the EPICA Dome C core inferred a lag of 800 + 200 years.  This has become an evergreen amongst the less serious, and indeed, there has even been considerable discussion by reasonable folk. Jeff Severinghaus provided an answer

So one should not claim that greenhouse gases are the major cause of the ice ages. No credible scientist has argued that position (even though Al Gore implied as much in his movie). The fundamental driver has long been thought, and continues to be thought, to be the distribution of sunshine over the Earth’s surface as it is modified by orbital variations. This hypothesis was proposed by James Croll in the 19th century, mathematically refined by Milankovitch in the 1940s, and continues to pass numerous critical tests even today.
The greenhouse gases are best regarded as a biogeochemical feedback, initiated by the orbital variations, but then feeding back to amplify the warming once it is already underway. By the way, the lag of CO2 of about 1000 years corresponds rather closely to the expected time it takes to flush excess respiration-derived CO2 out of the deep ocean via natural ocean currents. So the lag is quite close to what would be expected, if CO2 were acting as a feedback.
As pointed out by EJ Brook, the experimental  issue is that for this core it is untrivial to correlate the age of the ice along the core with the age of the gas in it. There has been significant work on this recently.  Pedro, Rasmussen, and van Ommen narrowed the lag to less than 400 years by looking at different Antarctic cores ( these cores had their own problems).  This month, Parrenin and colleagues (here as a pdf) reanalyzed the EPICA Dome C core by using 15 N enrichment to determine the depth at which air is locked in providing better relative dating. (TI is Termination I coming out of the last ice age, aCO2 is CO2 atmospheric concentration, AT is temperature anomaly)
We infer the aCO2-AT phasing at the four break points using a Monte-Carlo algorithm (supplementary materials): the onset of TI (Transition I) (10 ± 160 years, 1σ, aCO2 leads), the onset of the Bølling oscillation (–260 ± 130 years, AT leads), the onset of the Younger Dryas (60 ± 120 years, aCO2 leads), and the onset of the Holocene (–500 ± 90 years, AT leads). The uncertainty takes into account the uncertainty in the determination of the break points and the uncertainty in the determination of Δdepth. The only significant aCO2-AT lags are observed at the onsets of the Bølling oscillation and the Holocene. It should be noted that during these two events, the associated sharp increases in aCO2 were probably larger and more abrupt than the signals recorded in the ice core, due to the diffusion in the gas recording process (17). This atmosphere–ice core difference biases our break point determination toward younger ages. If we use these fast increases to determine the break points in aCO2, we find a lag of –10 ± 130 years (1σ) for the Bølling onset and –130 ± 90 years (1σ) for the Holocene onset; that is, no significant phasing. If, instead of using aCO2 we use the radiative forcing of aCO2 (18) [rCO2 = 5.35 W/m2 ln(CO2/280 parts per million by volume)], the inferred phasing is not significantly changed

Of course, bunnies also need to think about how this ties in with the picture painted by Shakun, et al previously described at RR

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Good Tidings

Back at the beginning of time, well, to be honest Rabett Run, but did anything exist before, Eli had two excellent rants (Rant I and Rant II) about textbook prices and the machinations of the publishers. As you may have noticed in the US when your kid goes to college, the price of General Chemistry textbooks has shattered the $200 barrier.  On the other hand, in markets where students are free to buy their own books, the price is much lower. For example, the International paperback edition (you can only get the hardcover in the US) costs ~$80 list and you can get it discounted.  It is even less expensive in less expensive countries, which brings Eli to the law.

It turns out that the publishers think it illegal to bring textbooks into the US from overseas, bought at those lower prices, and they sue people who do, or at least those who raise their heads above the parapets.  Thanks to David Post at Volokh, Eli can now report that it is no longer so.  In a case decided by the US Supreme Court

Petitioner, Supap Kirtsaeng, a citizen of Thailand, moved to the United States in 1997 to study mathematics at Cornell University.  . . .While he was studying in the United States, Kirtsaeng asked his friends and family in Thailand to buy copies of foreign edition English-language textbooks at Thai book shops, where they sold at low prices, and mail them to him in the United States. Kirtsaeng would then sell them, reimburse his family and friends, and keep the profit.

In 2008 Wiley brought this federal lawsuit against Kirtsaeng for copyright infringement. Wiley claimed that Kirtsaeng's unauthorized importation of its books and his later resale of those books amounted to an infringement of Wiley's exclusive right to distribute as well as related import prohibition. Kirtsaeng replied that the books he had acquired were "`lawfully made'" and that he had acquired them legitimately. Thus, in his view, "first sale" doctrine permitted him to resell or otherwise dispose of the books without the copyright owner's further permission.
Justice Breyer writing for the court found for Kirtsaieng remanding the case back to the Court of Appeals whose decision was reversed.  The dissenters were Ginsberg, Scalia and Kennedy. 

On Tuesday, Eli was visited by a textbook rep flogging his wares.  The Rabett mentioned that he really was not interested in asking his students to buy a $200 book, but maybe they would sell the less expensive paperback or the hardcover that they sold overseas, only to receive the snort version of you should live so long.  Eli suspects that in this brave new world he has lived that long.  Many are already thinking of this as a business opportunity.

Shameless self-promotion, Part Two

So the contest of Solutions for Planetary Stability continues, and both of the solutions I entered (former blog posts) have made it to the finalist stage. That sounds a little better than it is - they have a lot of company that also made it through as finalists.

The contest organizer, Sustainable Silicon Valley, encourages entrants to go out and drum up support for their solutions in a crowd-sourcing vote contest. If you like my solutions, please hop online and vote!

Solution #1:  Greening the Chambers - this solution works on increasing the green business/clean tech participation in San Francisco Bay Area Chambers of Commerce, with the dual goals of encouraging local environmental action and pressuring the US Chamber of Commerce to stop harming green business through its anti-climate activity. I'm very serious about this one, by the way - I'd consider it a career-topping life accomplishment to end the US Chamber's role in fighting action over climate.

Solution #2:  A first practical step towards a Vehicle-to-Grid system - using Electric Vehicle battery systems as backup power supplement during power outages for organizations that need 24/7 power. This would be a V2G system that would provide practical benefits if your organization owns several dozen EVs, instead of needing many thousands, and simplifies some of the technical and regulatory complexity of transitioning to a smart grid.

So if you like them or want to read up and vote for other solutions, first click here to register, then click here to read and vote for the Greening the Chambers entry, click here to vote for the Vehicle to Grid entry, or here to see all the solutions (all of them including non-finalists can receive votes). The crowdsource contest is officially independent of the expert judgment contest, but I'm sure that getting popular support is going to be helpful.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Shameless self-promotion, Part One

Following Eli's Twitter lead (@EthonRaptor), I'm Brian Schmidt @backseatdriving, where I talk about  some of the same stuff as here and other randomness.  A recent tweet discusses how important operations and maintenance budgets are to public infrastructure funding - subscribe now to get still more riveting/enthralling tweets along the same lines!

And rather than leaving all the shameless self-promotion to me, feel free to post a comment with your Twitter handle and a sentence or two about your tweets.

About as good as I can get

I'm sure other folks can top this

UPDATE:  Eli can try?. (the curve scarily follows the frame)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


From the New York Daily News describing testimony today before the House Science Committee by Charles Bolden NASA Administrator
"What would we do if you detected even a small one like the one that detonated in Russia headed for New York in three weeks? What would you do?" Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.) asked.

The witnesses turned to look at each other.
“Bend over and what?" Posey pressed, drawing chuckles from the hearing room.

"The answer to you is, if it's coming in three weeks, pray," Bolden said.

He said Americans might want the government to be able to zap asteroids —but the government has not provided the money to do so.

"We are where we are today because you all told us to do something — and between the Administration and the Congress ... the funding did not come," he said.

Eli is looking for the video

Rose gets stuck on statistical significance

Too many takedowns to count for David Rose who doesn't realize that short-term fluctuations in temperature tell you little about long term trends.  The latest case is that according to one computer model, the temperature sequence ending in 2012 is close to the bottom edge of the statistical uncertainty range, a point where there's only supposed to be a 5% chance that random variation produces a temperature below the modeled range. Rose thinks this means an end to warming.

The above link shows a broader set of models gives a wider uncertainty range.  And anyway, it's within the uncertainty range for the more sensitive model albeit near the lower edge.

The being near the edge is where our Rose gets stuck. A little over two years ago, Rose declared that global warming had halted since 1995. His proof - while measured temperature had risen since 1995, the amount of rise was only near the edge of being statistically significant:
Phil Jones replies: "The key statement here is 'not statistically significant'. It wasn't for these years at the 95% level, but it would have been at the 90% level. If you add the value of 0.52 in for 2010 and look at 1995 to 2010 then the warming is statistically significant at the 95% level." [What this means is that the warming trend for the past few years previously met a lower test of statistical significance. With addition of the results so far for 2010, it now means the higher test.]
So according to Rose, being near the edge may as well be proof if it's on the cold side, but means nothing at all if it's on the warm side.

Might also be worth noting that given decades of data, random variation will actually push the actual result outside the 5%-95% band at some points.

The Wheelchair

UPDATE:  An English version of Jos Hagelaars Dutch  post is now available on Our Changing Climate.  Eli appreciates their recognition that this indeed is the Wheelchair Curve

Jos Hagelaars splicing of the Shakun, Marcott, HadCRUT4 and CMIP5 A1B temperature anomaly reconstructions is clearly going to become iconic.  Icons, like the hockey stick, need names.  Eli was playing around with a few, the beach chair,  the Barca lounger the airplane seat, none quite fit, until the Rabett thought about what we are doing to our world

Oh yes, FWIW, the spike at the end is the instrumental record and the CMIP5 models of our future based on our current behavior and has nothing to do with how accurate the Marcott reconstruction is at recent times.  Indeed that is the strength of Hagelaar's wheelchair, that it uses multiple sources to give us the big picture in one figure. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Going Vertical

UPDATE:  An English version of Jos Hagelaars Dutch  post is now available on Our Changing Climate.  Eli appreciates their recognition that this indeed is the Wheelchair Curve 

Jos Hagelaars has spliced together Shakun et al, Marcott et al, HadCRUT4 and the A1B scenario

Hogelaars points out that Marcott pretty much agrees with previous work where there is overlap and it is indeed a wonder how many posts that Willard Tony's gang is generating on this.  As for climate audit, well in Jos' words the "statistical wonderboy McIntyre blogs merrily along. The reader would otherwise come to the conclusion that humans strongly influencing the climate, and of course that is not exactly desirable."

An important point in Marcott is that it pretty well delineates the start of the Anthropocene, about 150 years ago, when we added the blade to the hockey stick

Google does a fair job translating and Eli will not step on Jos and Bart's toes by attempting same (Dutch is close enough to German that Eli can Grok it given incentive)

Happy Birthday Nat

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Night in Doolin

The First User Experience

For the computer lovers amongst the bunnies, Lovelace and Babbage suggest Go2 2-D Goggles

2000 Posts Later . . .=:)

Eli Rabett remains; a not quite failed professorial techno-bunny, on his way to retirement, at a wanna be research university that has a lot to be proud of but has swallowed the Kool-Aid. The students remain naive but great and the administrators still vary day-to-day between homicidal and delusional. His colleagues are for the most part merely fey but not harmless. This is not to say that they are not smart, they are, but that they have a curious inability to see the holes that they for dig themselves. Prof. Rabett is thankful that they occasionally heed his pointing out the implications of the various enthusiasms that rattle around the department and school. Ms. Rabett is thankful that Prof. Rabett occasionally heeds her pointing out that he is nuts. There are no little Rabetts, so you have not heard about the doings of Jessica the Wonder Bunny. As he grows older Eli has learned that it is less important what is done, than that it be done well and consistently.

Eli has published a fair amount of research in a wide variety of engineering/physical science areas and is almost competitive. He does know most of the people who do research for a living and some of them might respect him, if they knew who he was. Some of what he knows is relevant to climate studies, although he is not a climate scientist as such, and he has commented on other blogs on climate, as well as chemistry and physics.

As someone who has floated between chemistry, physics and engineering Dr. Rabett is a mile wide and an inch deep. But he is also familiar with the lack of understanding the inch wide and mile deep folk have about most things and the curious implications of this among what are probably the brightest group of people on the earth.

So hi again, I must be going.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Are we at the "then they fight you" stage?

I think it's promising that climate denialists in Congress feel a need to actively fight against carbon taxes and a "fee and dividend" proposed legislation. Given that the legislation has zero shot of passing before 2017, I'm glad that the forces of status quo feel the need to fight it.

The article at the first link is good but flawed, with the incorrect and uncited statement, "Economists favor a carbon tax over cap-and-trade as more efficient and transparent". A tax gives greater certainty on costs but less on carbon emissions than cap-and-trade. It's a less efficient and less transparent way to achieve a proposed level of emissions, but more efficient and more transparent way to demonstrate the costs.

This part's good:

most new versions of the tax, including Boxer/Sanders, would include a border tariff on the carbon content of imports that is equivalent to the tax. That would create a big incentive for exporting countries like China to impose their own carbon tax so as to keep the revenue. 
Opponents clearly think the idea is gaining traction and want to stop it before it gets too far.
I'm looking forward to seeing something similar in Europe and Australia, providing the same incentive to us that we'd like to provide to China. I do think though that at least half of the revenue from an import tariff from a developing country should be sent back to exporter to help reduce their emissions.

UPDATE:  The Bunny is glad to see that Eli Rabett's Simple Plan to Save the World is catching on

Nations wishing to make major progress on decreasing greenhouse gas emissions should introduce emission taxes on all products. These taxes should be levied on imports as well as domestic goods at the point of sale, and should displace other taxes, such as VAT, sales taxes, and payroll (e.g. social security, health care) in such a way that tax revenues are constant, and distributed equitably.

These should be introduced as an Emissions Added Levy (avoiding the bad jokes). EAL would be imposed on sale for emissions added in the preceding step and inherent to the consumption of the product, as would be the case for heating oil and gasoline. Manufacturers would pay the EAL on electricity they bought, and incorporate this and the levy on emissions they created into the price of the product they sell.

Imports from countries that do not have an EAL would have the full EAL imposed at the time of import. The base rate would be generic EALs based on worst previous practices in the countries that do have EALs, which would be reduced on presenting proof that the actual emissions were lower.

All countries with EAL systems would reserve a portion (say 5%) for assisting developing countries with adaptations (why not use acclimations?) and mitigating programs.

By basing the levy on emissions rather than carbon all greenhouse gases stand on a common level, sequestration is strongly encouraged as well as such simple things as capturing methane from oil wells and garbage dumps (that gets built into the cost of disposal). The multipliers would come from CO2 equivalents on a 10 year basis.

Eli slept well and the good eco faries visited his dreams

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Trans Canada's Humpty Dumpty wrote Obama's environmental review of Keystone. Nothing unusual about it, sadly.

Brad Johnson writes that the Environmental Impact Statement giving a fairly decent review was written by, wait for it, a consultant hired for that purpose by Trans Canada, the applicant for the permit.

Conflict of interest, you say? Humpty Dumpty says a conflict of interest is what he says it is and no more, and in the best Washington DC scandal sense, my sense is that this is legal.

I should qualify that by saying I don't know federal environmental review (NEPA) law as well as California's equivalent (CEQA) law, but this would pretty much be allowed under California law, and CEQA is usually stronger than NEPA. Here I am banging on about this, nearly 6 years ago:

In most Bay Area cities, when a developer applies for a permit that requires the city to do environmental review, the developer pays a fee and the city then uses the fee money to hire expert consultants to prepare the environmental report. San Jose, by contrast, allows the developer to directly select and hire the environmental consultants who prepare an administrative draft of the environmental report. While San Jose may then modify the administrative draft, the developer-controlled draft is biased to play down the impacts. The direct expertise is in the hands of people loyal to the developers, not to the City or to a neutral evaluation process.
While most Bay Area cities have moved away from this, San Jose still hasn't, and it's still legal.  Almost as embarrassing, my own water district has the same bad policy (it's on my to-do list and we almost never issue complicated permits for private parties anyway, so there). Now under CEQA, an agency can get in theoretical trouble if it can be shown they rubber-stamped the document they received from the developer's consultants, but you know that happens anyway, and the bias will survive regardless. I'm not sure what the standard is under NEPA and whether they've met it, but given the scrutiny, they probably have.

There is another check on the developer bias - an environmental report can be challenged in court, and going too far in one direction will make it legally vulnerable. By express legal design, however, the courts favor agencies over plaintiffs for the more extensive environmental reviews, and many reviews never get challenged by anybody.

There's been some noise in California about "reforming" CEQA, mostly to make it easier to get projects done. I'm not adverse to some deals on it, but the type of reform I'm talking about hasn't seen much discussion.

For a contrary opinion to the idea that Keystone won't have much of a climate effect, read NRDC.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Circling the Drain

In the Atlantic a letter from Paul Alivisator, director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Eric Isaacs, director of Argonne National Laboratory and Thom Mason, Director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Most of the talk about sequestration has focused on its immediate impacts -- layoffs, furloughs, and cancelled White House tours in the days and weeks ahead. But one severe impact of the automatic spending cuts will only be felt years -- or even decades -- in the future, when the nation begins to feel the loss of important new scientific ideas that now will not be explored, and of brilliant young scientists who now will take their talents overseas or perhaps even abandon research entirely.

Less than one percent of the federal budget goes to fund basic science research -- $30.2 billion out of the total of $3.8 trillion President Obama requested in fiscal year 2012. By slashing that fraction even further, the government will achieve short-term savings in millions this year, but the resulting gaps in the innovation pipeline could cost billions of dollars and hurt the national economy for decades to come.

As directors of the Department of Energy's National Laboratories, we have a responsibility both to taxpayers and to the thousands of talented and committed men and women who work in our labs. We are doing everything we can to make sure our scientists and engineers can keep working on our nation's most pressing scientific problems despite the cuts. It's not yet clear how much funding the National Labs will lose, but it will total tens of millions of dollars. Interrupting -- or worse, halting -- basic research in the physical, biological, and computational sciences would be devastating, both for science and for the many U.S. industries that rely on our national laboratory system to power their research and development efforts.
Instead, this drop in funding will force us to cancel all new programs and research initiatives, probably for at least two years. This sudden halt on new starts will freeze American science in place while the rest of the word races forward, and it will knock a generation of young scientists off their stride, ultimately costing billions in missed future opportunities.
More at the link

An Apology From Eli

For about a year, Eli has been saying that the UAH (and the RSS) software for decoding the (A)MSU data is not publically available.  To be honest the Rabett had expected that if it was available somebunny (Hi Lucia) would be churning away on it and others (Hi Steve) would be auditing and still others would be rewriting it in Python (Hi Nick) and they would have haruphed at Eli.

Well, it turns out that a recent poke at this by Eli, brought a pointer to a place where this was mentioned three years ago,

Dr. Christy and Dr. Spencer of UAH asking about the public availability of the source code used to process UAH data. Dr. Christy replied:
We are in a program with NOAA to transfer the code to a certified system that will be mounted on a government site and where almost anyone should be able to run it.  We actually tried this several years ago, but our code was so complicated that the transfer was eventually given up after six months.
and in turn mentioned a name of someone who might have some information 
So UAH source code isn't currently available, but they're in the process of working with a NOAA program to make it available. I followed up asking if there was a general ETA for this availability.  He replied:
I talked with John Bates of NOAA two weeks ago and indicated I wanted to be early (I said the "first guinea pig") in the program.  He didn't have a firm date on when his IT/programming team would be ready to start the transition, so I don't know.
So Eli googled John Bates and got a reply 
you can find details on code and download the code itself for Christy and for RSS MSU from this web page:


Rejoice, AMSR2 is live from "Shizuku".  Not yet fully calibrated but ramping up for the melt season.  Somebunnies are already taking bets.  Maps are available at UniBremen from January 25 on.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Some Reading

Eli got Klotzbach Revisited by Jos Hagelaars on Bart's old stomping grounds looking at what the march of time has brought wrt predictions

The expected increase in the differences between the surface temperatures and the satellite temperatures over land has not occurred. To the contrary, 13% more data show that the trend difference over land has decreased by 18% for NCDC/RSS and by 33% for NCDC/UAH.
The trend difference has thus decreased rather than increased, and whereas Klotzbach-2009 and its fans champion the argument that this difference is due to a ‘bias’ in the surface temperature record (some 1700 words were spent on this argument in K-2009), a ‘bias’ in the satellite record may be equally, or perhaps even more plausible.
John Christy has replied to this, saying among other things that
It appears Hagelaars’ key point is that when the data from Klotzbach et al. are extended beyond 2008 to include data through 2012, the discrepancies, i.e. the observed difference between surface and tropospheric trends relative to what models project, are reduced somewhat.” 
And Hagelaars raises an interesting point in his reply to the zombies
My key point is that if K-2009 were correct, the absolute temperature difference between surface and troposphere would be expected to increase over time (due to the fact that the presumed bias in the surface temperature data has not magically disappeared, see e.g. this paper by Watts et al). In contrast, this temperature difference has decreased about 33% for the ‘NCDC minus UAH’ data (which showed the largest discrepancy). This absolute difference was used by Marcel Crok in his book “De Staat van het Klimaat” to suggest that the surface temperatures is biased.
Why this large difference with only 13% (4 years) more data? If anything, it casts doubt on the robustness of the K-2009 results.
The other point I wanted to make is that the apparent discrepancies could also, perhaps even more likely, be due to biases present in the satellite data, as indicated by Santer et al 2005. Also new biases are constantly being discovered, see the Po-Chedley & Fu paper.
Which brings Eli to the question of whether Christy and Spencer have ever released their software.  There are evils that lurk in loops and squirrels unseen by bunnykind.  If not, they better get ahead of the truck, e.g. the new regulations on releasing scientific results.

Ed Darrel is on an obit kick (there are some more immediately below that one) and Evan Jones is trying to defend his and Willard Tony's cherry picking (they appear to have submitted something somewhere).

Science of Doom is playing in Wonderland with radiative forcing.  Seriously great stuff.

Anyone else.  Consider this an open thread

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Crying Wolf

NASAWatch is an interesting blog run by mostly Keith Cowing that deals with the ins and outs of the agency with an emphasis, if any, on manned space flight.  The header goes:

This is not a NASA Website. You might learn something. It's YOUR space agency. Get involved. Take it back. Make it work - for YOU.
If Eli had to describe the group politics, it would be slightly libertarian, slightly Republican, full spacenut.  Well anyhow there have been several recent posts on Frank Wolf, a Republican Congresscritter from Northern Virginia who has been on a tear accusing NASA of talking to Chinese people
 House Chairmen Say NASA May Have Released DOD Secrets To China, Aviation Week
"According to sources at Ames and on Capitol Hill, the case involves Ames Center Director Simon P. "Pete" Worden and members of the center's staff who are not U.S. citizens. ... Among the charges mentioned in the congressional letters are allegations that the protected technology information has been disseminated in public conferences overseas "with Chinese and other foreign officials present," and that information-protection "safeguards may not have been used or may have explicitly been ignored on multiple occasions" at Ames."
Keith's 8 Feb note: Its is rather odd that Aviation Week would make this statement about Worden's personal "involvement" given that his name is not even contained in the letters (linked below). What is especially baffling is how Rep. Wolf, an avowed China hater, could think that a former Brigadier General - someone who worked throughout the Cold War to defend the U.S. against potential foes such as China, would suddenly - and knowingly - allow his employees to leak things to China or to condone such behavior.
This is serious enough stuff that the US Attorney for Northern CA issued a statement denying that there was any investigation and the Ames Center Director, issued a Center wide announcement calling Wolf's claims rubbish

From: Centerwide Announcement
Date: February 12, 2013

Ames and National Security.

Last week a news story appeared regarding national security and access to Ames by foreign national individuals. The article referenced letters written by US representatives. The article and the letters mentioned in it are littered with inaccuracies. I take very seriously our responsibility to safeguard sensitive information, so I wanted to let you--Ames employees--know the facts. To the best of our knowledge I am not, nor have I been, the subject of an International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) investigation. I have offered to talk to the news reporter, meet with the US representatives and/or testify under oath regarding export control issues at Ames.

Since NASA's inception, the contribution of foreign nationals has been an important element in making the agency the world's leading space program. Indeed, NASA's most successful space project- the International Space Station - inherently involves ongoing collaboration with Russia, the European Space Agency and numerous other international partners and that very collaboration is recognized as the core to its success.

I am justifiably proud of our international collaborations at Ames. We have had more than 50 International Space Act Agreements in the past five years. Last year we conducted a successful audit of all 114 projects and programs where there might be ITAR concerns. The next Ames export control audit, which includes ITAR, will occur in the next two weeks.

A goal of our country's National Space Policy, ( ) is to "Expand international cooperation on mutually beneficial space activities to: broaden and extend the benefits of space; further the peaceful use of space; and enhance collection and partnership in sharing of space-derived information."

Working with international partners is, has been, and will continue to be, a central part of our civil space effort. Ames will continue to exercise the fullest diligence in monitoring these collaborations and ensuring their compliance with ITAR policy as well as making sure NASA export control procedures are followed.

See me if you have any questions.

Godspeed Ames!
 Wolf has an excellent record on human rights, is a champion of Tibet, and is a Republican in a district that is trending Democratic (see, Morella, Connie).  Now some, not Eli to be sure, may think that this all has something to do with his recent behavior.  It also looks like some unfortunate is being nominated for the Wen Ho Lee prize but bunnies can get a better idea over at NASAWatch

Saturday, March 09, 2013

We should admire and learn from them

That is all.*

*Except that I'm breaking my own rule of not posting a hotlink without giving people some idea of what it's about.  I'm annoyed when bloggers do that.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Think Fast, An Angry Hungry Mob of Urban Warfare Gangsters . . .

Honest bunnies have to admit that it is impossible to figure out the dysfunction of denial, however, we often get a taste of it at Easter dinner, after the chocolate eggs have been delivered and consumed, when Uncle Lew begins to hold forth over the creamed carrots.  The scams that our nearest and dearest fall for are scary, they are meant to be scary, scary separates the marks from their money.  Rick Perlstein called it the long con and was eerily accurate (as you shall see and hear to your cost if you dare start the video below )
The strategic alliance of snake-oil vendors and conservative true believers points up evidence of another successful long march, of tactics designed to corral fleeceable multitudes all in one place—and the formation of a cast of mind that makes it hard for either them or us to discern where the ideological con ended and the money con began.  .
But the New Right’s business model was dishonest in more than its revenue structure. Its very message—the alarmist vision of White Protestant Civilization Besieged that propelled fundraising pitch after fundraising pitch—was confabulatory too. 
There is more, and anybunny who has not read Perlstein in the Baffler, go do so now.

As Perlstein, Eli is also on a couple of remailing lists that are, shall we say curiously right wing, probably owning to the Rabett making comments here and there.  While they are ostensibly political lists, they have nothing against selling space to the grifters, a great example of which is below.  Start it if you dare, but think about it as a Uncle Lew test.   Eli also advises strongly turning the speakers down to zero before inserting head into vice, but if and when the bunnies do so, reflect on Christopher Monckton, Anthony Watts, the Pielkes and the others selling their oilfields in the placenta.

How to deal with your denialist Uncle?  Ask him how much he spends on right wing bling.


Thursday, March 07, 2013

Aerosols in the Woods

Direct Observations of Atmospheric Aerosol Nucleation

  • Markku Kulmala,
  • Jenni Kontkanen,
  • Heikki Junninen,
  • Katrianne Lehtipalo,
  • Hanna E. Manninen,
  • Tuomo Nieminen,
  • Tuukka Petäjä,
  • Mikko Sipilä,
  • Siegfried Schobesberger,
  • Pekka Rantala,
  • Alessandro Franchin,
  • Tuija Jokinen,
  • Emma Järvinen,
  • Mikko Äijälä,
  • Juha Kangasluoma,
  • Jani Hakala,
  • Pasi P. Aalto,
  • Pauli Paasonen,
  • Jyri Mikkilä,
  • Joonas Vanhanen,
  • Juho Aalto,
  • Hannele Hakola,
  • Ulla Makkonen,
  • Taina Ruuskanen,
  • Roy L. Mauldin III,
  • Jonathan Duplissy,
  • Hanna Vehkamäki,
  • Jaana Bäck,
  • Aki Kortelainen,
  • Ilona Riipinen,
  • Theo Kurtén,
  • Murray V. Johnston,
  • James N. Smith,
  • Mikael Ehn,
  • Thomas F. Mentel,
  • Kari E. J. Lehtinen,
  • Ari Laaksonen,
  • Veli-Matti Kerminen,
  • Douglas R. Worsnop
In case anybunny was wondering how many Finns can dance on the entry port of a mass spectrometer.  But more seriously, this is an important paper.  The authors used a panalopy of  mass spectrometers and other instruments to follow the growth of aerosols at a research station in the woods of southern Finland.  The results are astounding.

First, they found that the number of small clusters (< 1.2 nm) was essentially constant over time with loss from evaporation and reaction balancing growth by accretion and reaction. 

Second, growth up to about 1.9 nm occurs through reactions with sulfuric acid.  Significant growth only occurred on days when sulfuric acid concentrations increases and was synchronous with it.  On the other hand, theory shows that sulfuric acid/water aerosols are not stable by themselves requiring amines to stabilize and measurements with an atmospheric pressure inlet time of flight mass spectrometer showed that the intermediate aerosols did incorporate amines.  This means that sulfuric acid from SOx oxidation can be rate limiting

Third, above this limit, organic addition dominates and growth requires (photo)chemical activation by oxidation

Fourth, neutral clusters dominate as shown in the figure above and for all aerosol sizes.  The purple line shows the relative numbers of neutral (purple), ionic( blue) and ions formed by recombination (red) aerosols.  This is surprising and casts a different light on claims that cosmic ray ionization controls aerosol production.