Navigating the collapse

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Damnthematrix
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Navigating the collapse


Arctic melt 20 years ahead of climate models

* 13:59 19 December 2008 by Devin Powell

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16307-arctic-melt-20-years-ahead-of-climat\
e-models.html

Though scientists tend to agree that summer ice at the North Pole will
eventually disappear, they haven't settled on a date. And one group
now claims to have evidence that Santa may have to start swimming much
sooner than we thought.

US researchers claim to have found evidence that accelerated melting
has crossed a "tipping point" from which there is no going back.

The amount of summer ice at the North Pole has steadily declined since
1979, according to satellite images. Computer models predict that this
trend will continue, leaving the Arctic completely ice-free during the
summersMovie Camera as early as 2030.

In 2007, though, the ice surprised everyone by contracting far more
rapidly than the models predicted. A particularly warm summer left
only 4.28 million square kilometres by September - a record 23% below
the previous minimum.
Accelerated ice loss

At the time, researchers including Mark Serreze of National Snow and
Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado claimed that the Arctic had
reached a "tipping point" - a dramatic and irreversible slide towards
ice-free conditions.

As the summer melting season finished up this year, they waited with
bated breath to see how much, if any, ice would survive.

4.67 million square kilometres remained at the end of September. A
positive interpretation says that the Arctic defied the apocalyptic
prophecies by recovering slightly, thanks to a pattern of colder and
windier weather.

But Serreze is sticking to the idea that we have reached a point of no
return.

"If you look over the past five years, you see an acceleration of ice
loss," says Serreze. Though 2008 did not beat the record set by 2007,
it is still the second-lowest amount on record, below the record lows
of 2002 and 2005.

He and his colleagues, speaking at the American Geophysical Union
meeting in San Francisco this week, presented new evidence for a
mechanism driving this acceleration.
Dramatic changes

During the summer, as ice melts, it is replaced by dark ocean waters
that absorb heat. When the cooler winter weather arrives, the oceans
release this warmth, creating a pocket of higher temperatures above
the Arctic that slows down the regrowth of sea ice during the winter.

By measuring the air temperature directly over the Arctic after the
end of the summer melt, Serreze found a large amount of released heat.
Temperatures in areas losing ice were as much as 5 °C higher over the
last four years as compared to the historic average.

The computer models predict this "Arctic acceleration," says Serreze
but 20 years into the future. "The models are giving us the big
picture of what is going on, but it's all happening much faster than
expected," he says.

This change may already be irreversible, as the extra heat creates a
runaway thinning of ice that will soon be unable to survive in the
summer Sun. If it disappears entirely during the summers, the
ramifications would be global.

"The Arctic is the heat sink of the Northern hemisphere; the
circulation patterns of the oceans could change dramatically," says
Serreze.

What's more, the effects from this rush of heat seem to already be
bleeding out into neighbouring Alaska and Siberia.
Balmy spell?

Katey Walter of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, presented data at
the AGU suggesting that lakes and permafrost are thawing in these
regions. These changes release methane - a greenhouse gas with 21
times the warming power of carbon dioxide.

Cecelia Bitz of the University of Washington in Seattle, who helped to
create one of the more widely accepted climate models, agrees that an
ice-free Arctic ocean is inevitable at this point.

She suspects, though, that the rapid sea-ice loss of recent years may
simply be a fluke of the weather that will soon return to the longer
trend. "I can't predict the short-term weather, but I do have a good
idea about the long-term climate," says Bitz.

Her latest simulations, also presented at the AGU meeting, offer a
message of tentative hope for recovery. At constant greenhouse gas
emissions fixed to projected 2020 levels, sea ice retreats slowly, not
precipitously. And when greenhouse gases are removed entirely from the
model, sea ice regrows, even in future scenarios in which global
warming has stripped the Arctic of ice year-round.

"A tipping point suggests falling of a cliff, with no way to climb
back up - I can't see the evidence for this," says Bitz.

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Damnthematrix
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
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Posts: 3998
Re: Navigating the collapse

 World Coal Reserves Could Be a Fraction of Previous Estimates

http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/12/world-coal-rese.html

SAN FRANCISCO — A new calculation of the world's coal reserves is much
lower than previous estimates. If validated, the new info could have a
massive impact on the fate of the planet's climate.

That's because coal is responsible for most of the CO2 emissions that
drive climate change. If there were actually less coal available for
burning, climate modelers would have to rethink their estimates of the
level of emissions that humans will produce.

The new model, created by Dave Rutledge, chair of Caltech's
engineering and applied sciences division, suggests that humans will
only pull up a total — including all past mining — of 662 billion tons
of coal out of the Earth. The best previous estimate, from the World
Energy Council, says that the world has almost 850 billion tons of
coal still left to be mined.

"Every estimate of the ultimate coal resource has been larger," said
ecologist Ken Caldeira of Stanford University, who was not involved
with the new study. "But if there's much less coal than we think,
that's good news for climate."

The carbon dioxide emitted when humans burn coal to create usable
energy is primarily responsible for global warming. Leading scientists
think that the stability of Earth's climate will be dictated by how
the world uses — or doesn't use — its coal resources. And the thinking
has been that the world has more than enough coal to wreak
catastrophic damage to the climate system, absent major societal or
governmental changes.

So the new estimate, which opens the slim possibility that humankind
could do nothing to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions and still escape
some of the impacts of climate change, comes as quite a shock.

Rutledge argues that governments are terrible at estimating their own
fossil fuel reserves. He developed his new model by looking back at
historical examples of fossil fuel exhaustion. For example, British
coal production fell precipitously form its 1913 peak. American oil
production famously peaked in 1970, as controversially predicted by
King Hubbert. Both countries had heartily overestimated their reserves.

It was from manipulating the data from the previous peaks that
Rutledge developed his new model, based on fitting curves to the
cumulative production of a region. He says that they provide much more
stable estimates than other techniques and are much more accurate than
those made by individual countries.

"The record of geological estimates made by governments for their
fossil fuel estimates is really horrible," Rutledge said during a
press conference at the American Geological Union annual meeting. "And
the estimates tend to be quite high. They over-predict future coal
production."

More specifically, Rutledge says that big surveys of natural resources
underestimate the difficulty and expense of getting to the coal
reserves of the world. And that's assuming that the countries have at
least tried to offer a real estimate to the international community.
China, for example, has only submitted two estimates of its coal
reserves to the World Energy Council — and they were wildly different.

"The Chinese are interested in producing coal, not figuring out how
much they have," Rutledge said. "That much is obvious."

The National Research Council's Committee on Coal Research,
Technology, and Resource Assessments to Inform Energy Policy actually
agrees with many of Rutledge's criticisms, while continuing to
maintain far sunnier estimates of the recoverable stocks of American coal.

"Present estimates of coal reserves are based upon methods that have
not been reviewed or revised since their inception in 1974, and much
of the input data were compiled in the early 1970's," the committee
wrote in a 2007 report. "Recent programs to assess reserves in limited
areas using updated methods indicate that only a small fraction of
previously estimated reserves are actually mineable reserves."

And don't look to technology to bail out coal miners. Mechanization
has actually decreased the world's recoverable reserves, because huge
mining machines aren't quite as good at digging out coal as human
beings are.

With Rutledge's new numbers, the world could burn all the coal (and
other fossil fuels) it can get to, and the atmospheric concentration
of CO2 would only end up around 460 parts per million, which is
predicted to cause a 2-degree-Celsius rise in global temperatures.

For many scientists, that's too much warming. A growing coalition is
calling for limiting the CO2 in the atmosphere to 350 parts per
million, down from the 380 ppm of today, but it's a far cry from some
of the more devastating scenarios devised by the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change.

"Coal emissions really need to be phased out proactively — we can't
just wait for them to run out — by the year 2030," said Pushker
Kharecha, a scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
"There is more than enough coal to keep CO2 well above 350 ppm well
beyond this century."

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change uses economic models
that assume that the world will not run out of coal. Some IPCC
scenarios show 3.4 billion tons of coal being burned just through
2100. That's more than five times what Rutledge thinks will be
possible — and a good deal higher than the WEC's estimate for
recoverable coal reserves, too.

On the other hand, if the world were really to encounter a swift and
steep decline in accessible coal resources, it's unclear how humans
could retain our current levels of transportation, industry and
general energy-usage.

So, even if coal were to run out and the most dangerous climate change
averted, the imperative to develop non–fossil-fuel energy sources
would remain.

"Peak Oil and peak gas and peak coal could really go either way for
the climate," Kharecha said. "It all depends on choices for subsequent
energy sources."

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ckessel
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 12 2008
Posts: 465
Re: Navigating the collapse

Mike,

I can only assume that the Greenland Icecap is progressing similarly.  That of course will have much more impact on sea levels than Arctic Ice.

Another point I see out there is the cumulative effects of beyond "peak oil"  shortages making it much more costly to extract the remaining coal reserves. This would help the environment but accelerate human impacts. I expect to see oil shortages making news by summer 2009.

Do you use methane digestion systems in your sustainable lifestyle? I have studied the references you have posted and am looking for more information on the grinding required for the cellulose systems used in France.

Coop

 

Damnthematrix's picture
Damnthematrix
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 10 2008
Posts: 3998
Re: Navigating the collapse

Well Chris, it's already started here...  http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/12/19/2451169.htm

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh says arrangements are in
place to avoid a shortage of fuel over the Christmas period, after
problems at a Brisbane refinery.

Caltex Australia's refinery at Lytton near the Port of Brisbane is
slowly returning to full production after a shutdown last Friday.

The company has warned its stocks are low and some of its service
stations in south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales are
experiencing fuel shortages.

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Ray Hewitt
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 5 2008
Posts: 458
Re: Navigating the collapse

Arctic melt 20 years ahead of climate models

Too funny. They make models by pulling numbers out of there asses. 

 World Coal Reserves Could Be a Fraction of Previous Estimates

What does "could be" supossed to mean? They aren't sure? Could be the climate models were wrong and the coal reserve estimates were wrong.

I remember one prediction Matrix posted by a scientist written in 2005, saying we had three years of uranium left.

The carbon dioxide emitted when humans burn coal to create usable
energy is primarily responsible for global warming. 

Yeah, yeah yeah. China now surpasses the US in CO2 emission because coal is their primary fuel source. China only started industrializing in the 70s, too late to account for earler warming.

When you see these doomsday predictions, hold on to your wallet. This is the kind of stuff Christian apocalyptics feed on.

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gyrogearloose
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 8 2008
Posts: 537
Re: Navigating the collapse
Damnthematrix wrote:


Arctic melt 20 years ahead of climate models

* 13:59 19 December 2008 by Devin Powell

The computer models predict this "Arctic acceleration," says Serreze
but 20 years into the future. "The models are giving us the big
picture of what is going on, but it's all happening much faster than
expected," he says.

This change may already be irreversible, as the extra heat creates a
runaway thinning of ice that will soon be unable to survive in the
summer Sun. If it disappears entirely during the summers, the
ramifications would be global.

Hmmm..... 

When your model fails to correctly predict future events, speculate on what may happen...........

 

How about using a new and novel idea.

If your model fails, admit that you don't understand enough about what you are modelling.

Then say you not sure as to what the future may hold.

Then go back to your model and try and see where you went wrong.

 

 

There is the old saying "If at first you don't succeed, try , try again "

But I love a little twist on it I saw one day " then give up, there's no point in making a fool of yourself" 

 

Cheers Hamish

 

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