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Messages - Ken Feldman

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'Worst-Case' CO2 Emissions Scenario Is Best for Assessing Climate Risk and Impacts to 2050

The RCP 8.5 CO2 emissions pathway, long considered a "worst case scenario" by the international science community, is the most appropriate for conducting assessments of climate change impacts by 2050, according to a new article published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Long dismissed as alarmist or misleading, the paper argues that is actually the closest approximation of both historical emissions and anticipated outcomes of current global climate policies, tracking within 1% of actual emissions.

"Not only are the emissions consistent with RCP 8.5 in close agreement with historical total cumulative CO2 emissions (within 1%), but RCP8.5 is also the best match out to mid-century under current and stated policies with still highly plausible levels of CO2 emissions in 2100," the authors wrote. "... Not using RCP8.5 to describe the previous 15 years assumes a level of mitigation that did not occur, thereby skewing subsequent assessments by lessening the severity of warming and associated physical climate risk."

The commentary also emphasizes that while there are signs of progress on bending the global emissions curve and that our emissions picture may change significantly by 2100, focusing on the unknowable, distant future may distort the current debate on these issues. "For purposes of informing societal decisions, shorter time horizons are highly relevant, and it is important to have scenarios which are useful on those horizons. Looking at mid-century and sooner, RCP8.5 is clearly the most useful choice," they wrote.

The article also notes that RCP 8.5 would not be significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that "we note that the usefulness of RCP 8.5 is not changed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Assuming pandemic restrictions remain in place until the end of 2020 would entail a reduction in emissions of -4.7 Gt CO2. This represents less than 1% of total cumulative CO2 emissions since 2005 for all RCPs and observations."

Christopher R. Schwalm el al., "RCP8.5 tracks cumulative CO2 emissions," PNAS (2020)


A close read of the study shows that it didn't take into account economic considerations, such as the fact that renewables are now cheaper than fossil fuels.  And it's also missing the point that emissions up through the 2020s are very close in all scenarios.  Here's a figure from the paper that shows that fact:

For future projections, they rely on the IEA assessment of Government policy decisions, ignoring the impacts of the energy transition underway.  And let's not forget how badly the IEA has been at forecasting the pace of the energy transition.

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: July 31, 2020, 07:31:47 PM »
While we're mainly concerned about carbon emissions on this site, let's not forget what else coal brings to the surface.

Judge Rules Justice-Controlled Coal Company Liable For Pollution Violations At W.Va. Mine
By Brittany Patterson • Jul 27, 2020

A federal judge has ruled a coal company owned by the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is liable for more than 3,000 violations of federal clean water standards stemming from pollution discharged from a coal mine in southern West Virginia.

In a motion issued Monday, U.S. District Judge David Faber ruled Bluestone Coal Corporation discharged selenium at the Red Fox Surface Mine in McDowell County many times at levels above its permitted allowances from July 2018 to March 2020. Selenium is a chemical element found in coal that accumulates in the body and has been linked to growth deformities and reproductive failure in fish.

Faber also ruled that the company violated its permit under the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act 183 times.

Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: July 31, 2020, 07:28:05 PM »
It looks like Ohio may repeal the law that was passed because of the corruption.  That's bad news for the nuclear reactors that are benefiting from the subsidies, but could be good news for renewables as they're the cheapest form of unsubsidized electrical generation now.

July 23, 2020
Ohio governor calls for repeal of state nuclear bailout bill under probe
Timothy Gardner

(Reuters) - Ohio Governor Mike DeWine on Thursday reversed course and called on the state’s legislature to repeal and replace a nuclear energy bailout bill at the center of a federal investigation into bribery.

DeVillers said the company, without identifying it, gave $60 million to Generation Now, a political nonprofit operated by the five men, funds used for lobbying that secured passage of a controversial $1.5 billion bill.

The bill, which passed mostly on a party-line vote with Republicans in the majority, also rolled back renewable energy standards, requiring utilities to get 8.5% of their power from renewable energy, down from 12.5%. DeWine said the legislature should debate whether to reinstate the measure.

Eventually the heat stored in the deep ocean comes back to the surface.  If we can lower the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere before it comes back to the surface, the stored heat can radiate out to space when the warmer water upwells to the surface.

Only a small portion of the warm water comes into contact with the ice sheets.  Most of it circulates around the globe for centuries.

Here are a couple of studies that discuss the Southern Ocean (where most of the excess heat gets stored) and how it interacts with the Antarctic Ice Sheet.

The Southern Ocean and its interaction with the Antarctic Ice Sheet
David M. Holland, Keith W. Nicholls and Aurora Basinski
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz5491 (6484), 1326-133

The Southern Ocean exerts a major influence on the mass balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, eitherindirectly, by its influence on air temperatures and winds, or directly, mostly through its effects on iceshelves. How much melting the ocean causes depends on the temperature of the water, which in turn is controlled by the combination of the thermal structure of the surrounding ocean and local ocean circulation, which in turn is determined largely by winds and bathymetry. As climate warms and atmospheric circulation changes, there will be follow-on changes in the ocean circulation and temperature. These consequences will affect the pace of mass loss of the Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Sallée, J.-B. 2018. Southern Ocean warming.
Oceanography 31(2):52–62,

Article Abstract

The Southern Ocean plays a fundamental role in global climate. With no continental barriers, it distributes climate signals among the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans through its fast-flowing, energetic, and deep-reaching dominant current, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. The unusual dynamics of this current, in conjunction with energetic atmospheric and ice conditions, make the Southern Ocean a key region for connecting the surface ocean with the world ocean’s deep seas. Recent examinations of global ocean temperature show that the Southern Ocean plays a major role in global ocean heat uptake and storage. Since 2006, an estimated 60%–90% of global ocean heat content change associated with global warming is based in the Southern Ocean. But the warming of its water masses is inhomogeneous. While the upper 1,000 m of the Southern Ocean within and north of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current are warming rapidly, at a rate of 0.1°–0.2°C per decade, the surface sub­polar seas south of this region are not warming or are slightly cooling. However, subpolar abyssal waters are warming at a substantial rate of ~0.05°C per decade due to the formation of bottom waters on the Antarctic continental shelves. Although the processes at play in this warming and their regional distribution are beginning to become clear, the specific mechanisms associated with wind change, eddy activity, and ocean-ice interaction remain areas of active research, and substantial challenges persist to representing them accurately in climate models.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 27, 2020, 08:19:50 PM »
Gas flaring remains a problem in Texas and it's growing globally.

1 In 10 Gas Flares In Permian Malfunction
By Irina Slav - Jul 23, 2020

More a tenth of gas flares in the Permian play tend to malfunction and release unlit methane into the atmosphere, the Environmental Defense Fund has reported, based on a new aerial survey.

According to the Fund, the survey revealed that one in ten flares either didn’t burn the methane completely, with some of it escapimg into the atmosphere, or they didn’t burn it at all, releasing it as it is.

Flaring is a serious problem and it is getting increasingly serious, it appears. The World Bank reported earlier this week that global gas flaring last year jumped to 150 billion cu m, from 145 billion cu m in 2018.

It is also a growing problem in the Permian, specifically: after a decline in flaring accompanying the decline in oil production during the worst of the crisis, flaring in the Permian is once again on the rise, the Environmental Defense Fund reported, with flaring in June 50 percent higher than the previous month.

The linked article about the differences between the short-term and long-term global warming potentials of methane indicates that focusing exclusively on methane reductions at the expense of reducing carbon dioxide emissions results in higher long term temperature increases.

Demonstrating GWP*: a means of reporting warming-equivalent emissions that captures the contrasting impacts of short- and long-lived climate pollutants
John Lynch et al 2020 Environ. Res. Lett.15 044023

The atmospheric lifetime and radiative impacts of different climate pollutants can both differ markedly, so metrics that equate emissions using a single scaling factor, such as the 100-year Global Warming Potential (GWP100), can be misleading. An alternative approach is to report emissions as ‘warming-equivalents’ that result in similar warming impacts without requiring a like-for-like weighting per emission. GWP*, an alternative application of GWPs where the CO2-equivalence of short-lived climate pollutant emissions is predominantly determined by changes in their emission rate, provides a straightforward means of generating warming-equivalent emissions. In this letter we illustrate the contrasting climate impacts resulting from emissions of methane, a short-lived greenhouse gas, and CO2, and compare GWP100 and GWP* CO2-equivalents for a number of simple emissions scenarios. We demonstrate that GWP* provides a useful indication of warming, while conventional application of GWP100 falls short in many scenarios and particularly when methane emissions are stable or declining, with important implications for how we consider ‘zero emission’ or ‘climate neutral’ targets for sectors emitting different compositions of gases. We then illustrate how GWP* can provide an improved means of assessing alternative mitigation strategies. GWP*allows warming-equivalent emissions to be calculated directly from CO2-equivalent emissions reported using GWP100, consistent with the Paris Rulebook agreed by the UNFCCC, on condition that short-lived and cumulative climate pollutants are aggregated separately, which is essential for transparency. It provides a direct link between emissions and anticipated warming impacts, supporting stocktakes of progress towards a long-term temperature goal and compatible with cumulative emissions budgets

We can demonstrate the utility of multi-gas cumulative CO2-w.e. totals in a decision making context by considering how they would describe alternative mitigation pathways, as infigure8. In this scenario, the emissions of one gas cease in year 50, and then the emissions of the remaining gas in year 100. Stopping methane first results in a large initial reversal of recent warming, but temperatures then start to rise again due to the ongoing CO2 emissions. Temperature then stabilises at the temperature reached in year 100 when CO2 emissions are also stopped. Stopping CO2 first,we see that the rate of warming declines, and then when methane emissions stop in year 100 we have a significant reversal of warming, stabilising at a lower long-term temperature than in the methane-first scenario. Cumulative CO2-w.e. provides a clear indication of these dynamics, while cumulative CO2e suggests either strategy would lead to the same response, but which represents neither scenario.

Antarctica / Re: Methane in Antarctica
« on: July 22, 2020, 08:07:45 PM »
Not a video, but a pretty clear narrative explanation.

Because CO2 has a very long residence time in the atmosphere, its emissions cause increases in atmospheric concentrations of CO2 that will last thousands of years [8]. Methane’s average atmospheric residence time is about a decade. However, its capacity to absorb substantially more energy than CO2 gives it a GWP ranging from 28 to 36. The GWP also accounts for some indirect effects; for example, CH4 is a precursor to another greenhouse gas, ozone.

What happens to the methane GWP if a 20-year averaging time is used?

A 20-year GWP is sometimes used as an alternative to the 100-year GWP. The 20-year GWP is based on the energy absorbed over 20 years, which prioritizes gases with shorter lifetimes, since it ignores any impacts that occur after 20 years from the emission. The GWPs are calculated relative to CO2, so the GWPs are based on an 80% shorter time frame that will be larger for gases with atmospheric residence times shorter than that of CO2 and smaller for gases with residence times greater than CO2.

Since CH4 has a shorter atmospheric residence time than CO2, the 100-year GWP is much less than the 20-year GWP. The CH4 20-year GWP has been estimated [8] to be 84–87, compared with the 100-year GWP of 28–36.

A new metric, GWP*, has been developed to address the confusion between the short term and long term GWPs of short lived greenhouse gases like methane.  Here's a link to a study about GWP*.

Demonstrating GWP*: a means of reporting warming-equivalentemissions that captures the contrasting impacts of short- and long-lived climate pollutants
John Lynch, Michelle Cain, Raymond Pierrehumbert and Myles Allen

The atmospheric lifetime and radiative impacts of different climate pollutants can both differ markedly, so metrics that equate emissions using a single scaling factor, such as the 100-year Global Warming Potential (GWP100), can be misleading. An alternative approach is to report emissions as ‘warming-equivalents’ that result in similar warming impacts without requiring a like-for-like weighting per emission. GWP*, an alternative application of GWPs where the CO2-equivalence of short-lived climate pollutant emissions is predominantly determined by changes in their emission rate, provides a straightforward means of generating warming-equivalent emissions. In this letter we illustrate the contrasting climate impacts resulting from emissions of methane, a short-lived greenhouse gas, and CO2, and compare GWP100 and GWP* CO2-equivalents for a number of simple emissions scenarios. We demonstrate that GWP* provides a useful indication of warming, while conventional application of GWP100 falls short in many scenarios and particularly when methane emissions are stable or declining, with important implications for how we consider ‘zero emission’ or ‘climate neutral’ targets for sectors emitting different compositions of gases. We then illustrate how GWP* can provide an improved means of assessing alternative mitigation strategies. GWP* allows warming-equivalent emissions to be calculated directly from CO2-equivalent emissions reported using GWP100, consistent with the Paris Rulebook agreed by the UNFCCC, on condition that short-lived and cumulative climate pollutants are aggregated separately, which is essential for transparency. It provides a direct link between emissions and anticipated warming impacts, supporting stock takes of progress towards a long-term temperature goal and compatible with cumulative emissions budgets.

Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: July 22, 2020, 12:05:02 AM »
Remember when Ohio passed a law to subsidize those two nuclear reactors that can't compete against cheap renewables?

Ohio House Speaker Arrested In Connection With $60 Million Bribery Scheme

July 21, 2020

FBI agents arrested Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder on Tuesday morning at his rural farm. Householder was taken into custody in connection with a $60 million bribery scheme allegedly involving state officials and associates.

Four others were also arrested: former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges, Householder adviser Jeffrey Longstreth and lobbyists Neil Clark and Juan Cespedes.

The charges are linked to a controversial law passed last year that bailed out two nuclear power plants in the state while gutting subsidies for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Federal prosecutors say that between March 2017 and March 2020, entities related to an unnamed company — but that would appear to be nuclear power company FirstEnergy Solutions — paid approximately $60 million to Householder's Generation Now.

"Make no mistake, this is Larry Householder's 501 (c)(4)," U.S. Attorney David DeVillers told reporters on Tuesday. The money from the scheme was spent to the detriment of other political candidates and the people of Ohio, DeVillers said.

Members of Householder's enterprise used those payments for their own personal benefit and to gain support for Householder's bid to become speaker, prosecutors say.

In exchange for payments, prosecutors say, Householder and his associates helped pass House Bill 6, then worked to ensure it went into effect by defeating a ballot initiative.

The plan worked. The complaint says Householder-backed candidates that benefited from money from Generation Now helped to elect Householder as the Speaker. House Bill 6 was introduced three months into his term – legislation worth $1.3 billion to Company A.

Regular payments to Householder's secret company from Company A began in March 2017, a couple months after he took a trip on Company A's private jet, according to the federal complaint. But the payments got much bigger after the legislation was introduced: In May 2019, while the bill was pending before lawmakers, Company A allegedly wired $8 million to Generation Now.

In total, Company A allegedly paid the Householder enterprise $60 million over a three-year period, in exchange for the billion-dollar-bailout.

Prosecutors say the payments were "akin to bags of cash – unlike campaign or PAC contributions, they were not regulated, not reported, not subject to public scrutiny—and the Enterprise freely spent the bribe payments to further the Enterprise's political interests and to enrich themselves."

Last year's nuclear bailout law tacked on a charge to residents' power bills, sending $150 million a year to the nuclear power plants. They are owned by the company Energy Harbor, which was previously known as FirstEnergy Solutions.

The law also included a subsidy for two coal plants.

NPR member station WOSU reported that FirstEnergy contributed more than $150,000 to Ohio House Republicans in the run-up to the 2018 election — including over $25,000 in donations to Householder's campaign.

Science / Re: Where are we now in CO2e , which pathway are we on?
« on: July 17, 2020, 08:27:20 PM »
Renewables only became cheaper than fossil fuels in some areas starting in 2018.  With costs of renewables continuing to decline, they are becoming cheaper than fossil fuels in more areas.  And given that it can take two years for a new wind or solar farm to come online, and five to ten years for a fossil fuel plant, it will take some time for the full impact of the cost reductions in renewables to be seen.

We're already seeing it in new investments.  Investments in renewables are now outpacing investment in fossil fuel infrastructure.

Goldman Sachs says renewable-energy spending will surpass oil and gas for the first time ever in 2021 — and sees total investment spiking to $16 trillion over the next decade
Ben Winck
Jun. 17, 2020

Green-energy investing will account for 25% of all energy spending in 2021 and, for the first time ever, surpass spending on traditional fuel sources like oil and gas, Goldman Sachs said in a Tuesday note.
Should the US aim to hold global warming within 2 degrees Celsius, the pivot to renewable energy sources will create between $1 trillion and $2 trillion in yearly infrastructure spending, the team of analysts added, or an investment opportunity as big as $16 trillion through 2030.
While past economic downturns halted efforts to lift clean energy initiatives, the coronavirus recession "will be different," the firm said.
Green technologies "are now mature enough to be deployed at scale," and the transition can benefit massively from cheap capital and "an attractive regulatory framework," according to Goldman.

In the US, electric utilities are retiring coal plants early and replacing them with renewables.  Becuase they can save lots and lots of money.  It's cheaper to build new renewable power plants than to operate existing coal fired power plants.  And that trend is spreading around the world.  It's estimated that $141 billion can be saved by replacing coal with clean energy by 2025.

Replacing coal with clean energy can save up to $141 billion by 2025

Out of 2,500 coal plants, the share of uncompetitive coal plants worldwide will increase rapidly to 60 per cent in 2022 and to 73 per cent in 2025

ETEnergyWorld July 10, 2020

New Delhi: Replacing coal with clean energy can potentially save electricity customers around the world $141 billion by 2025, according to a report by US-based Rocky Mountain Institute launched in collaboration with Carbon Tracker Initiative and the US-based environmental organisation Sierra Club.

Utilities are increasingly skip the "bridge" of replacing coal with natural gas and just jumping strait to solar or wind.

More utilities bypassing natural gas bridge and going straight to renewables

Utilities that are transitioning away from coal are starting to view the creation of a natural gas “bridge” to renewable energy as an unnecessary step.
July 2, 2020 Jean Haggerty

Utilities that are transitioning away from coal are starting to view the creation of a natural gas “bridge” to renewable energy as an unnecessary step. Last week utilities in Arizona, Colorado and Florida announced plans to close one or more of their coal plants and build renewables without adding any new gas-fired generation.

There are many more examples I could post of renewables replacing operating fossil fuel plants.  And the trend will accelerate in the future as the costs of renewables continue to decrease.

Found the paper.  It was published in PNAS in 2004.

Greenhouse gas growth rates
James Hansen* and Makiko Sato

We posit that feasible reversal of the growth of atmospheric CH4 and other trace gases would provide a vital contribution toward averting  dangerous  anthropogenic  interference  with  global  cli-mate. Such trace gas reductions may allow stabilization of atmospheric CO2 at an achievable level of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, even if the added global warming constituting dangerous anthropogenic  interference  is  as  small  as  1°C.  A  1°C  limit  on  global warming, with canonical climate sensitivity, requires peak CO2 ~440 ppm if further non-CO2 forcing is ~0.5 W/m2, but peak CO2 ~520 ppm if further non-CO2 forcing is ~0.5 W/m2. The practical result is that a decline of non-CO2 forcings allows climate forcing to be stabilized with a significantly higher transient level of CO2 emissions. Increased ‘‘natural’’ emissions of CO2, N2O, and CH4 are expected  in  response  to  global  warming.  These  emissions,  an indirect  effect  of  all  climate  forcings,  are  small  compared  with human-made climate forcing and occur on a time scale of a few centuries,  but  they  tend  to  aggravate  the  task  of  stabilizing atmospheric composition.

We have suggested (13) that a concerted effort to reduce CH4 emissions could yield a negative forcing, which would be amplified ~40% by the indirect effects of CH4 on stratospheric H2O and tropospheric O3. CH4by itself could yield a forcing change of ~0.25 W/m2 if it were reduced from today’s 1,755 ppb to 1,215 ppb, which would require reducing anthropogenic CH4 emissions by 40–50% (ref. 14 and Drew Shindell, personal communication). Conversely, CH4 could provide large positive forcing if emissions grow, e.g.,CH4 increases to 3,140 ppb in 2100 in the IPCC (3) IS92a scenario,yielding ~0.5 W/m2 forcing.

Science / Re: Where are we now in CO2e , which pathway are we on?
« on: July 16, 2020, 06:57:37 PM »
Keep in mind that RCP 2.6 is a scenario with a peak above 3.0 w/m2 and then a decrease in the later half of the century back down to 2.6 w/m2.  Given the rate at which renewables are replacing coal and natural gas plants and the coming transition from gas to electric vehicles, RCP 2.6 is still very possible.

Also, RCP 4.5 is currently possible too.  This article was written before the Covid recession and the oil and natural gas gluts that are currently stifling further investment in fossil fuel infrastructure.  (It also uses the new SSP scenarios, which are an update over the RCPs).

Our business-as-usual projection of 3C of warming — rather than 4 or 5C — is a testament to the progress in global decarbonization over the last few decades. It also reflects the fact that rapid growth in coal use during the 2000s was not necessarily characteristic of longer-term energy use trends. The world has taken concrete steps to move away from coal in the past decade, and this progress should be reflected in our assessment of likely emissions pathways — and their resulting climate impacts — going forward.

The worst case outcomes of ten years ago appear far less likely today. But there is also a risk of overenthusiasm about progress; there is still an ever-growing gap between current emissions and what would be needed to limit warming below 2C. With every year of continued emissions growth and increased deployment of clean energy, we make both low warming (<2C) and high warming (>4C) increasingly unlikely.

IEA CPS emissions in 2040 are in-between the SSP4-6.0 and SSP2-4.5 scenarios, and are in the bottom 15% of all the baseline scenarios in the SSP database. The SPS scenario is a bit below SSP2-4.5, and lower than any baseline scenarios — though this is not necessarily unexpected, as baseline scenarios exclude current commitments that have not yet been translated into policy.

The recent UNEP Emissions Gap report provided an estimate of combined emissions from all greenhouse gases — including land use change — in the year 2030 under both current policy and under a scenario where countries meet their Paris Agreement nationally determined contributions (NDCs). UNEP’s current policies scenario has 2030 GHG emissions of 60 GtCO2e. This falls between SSP2-4.5 (57 GtCO2e) and SSP3-6.0 (62 GtCO2e), and is well below SSP3-7.0 (69 GtCO2e) and the worst-case SSP5-8.5 (71GtCO2e). UNEP projects 2030 emissions of 54 GtCO2e if all Paris Agreement NDCs are met.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 16, 2020, 01:29:52 AM »
In the US, a seven year-old financial technology startup raised $100 million to invest in 300 solar power companies.

Boulder solar industry fintech company raises more than $100 million
By Greg Avery
July 15, 2020

Solar financing company Wunder Capital raised a fresh $100 million fund from which it will help finance commercial and industrial-scale solar power projects around the U.S.

The money will go to solar project loans that Boulder-based Wunder Capital arranges with its network of more than 300 solar project installers and developers.

Wunder Capital assembles funds from credentialled investors and then finances the commercial and local government solar power projects that property owners and investors build at malls, factories, warehouses, libraries and other places. Its goal is to eliminate bottlenecks that have traditionally limited investment in solar power projects.

The 24-employee startup formed in 2013 and later graduated from the Boulder startup accelerator Techstars. It built financing software designed to match solar projects with funding, and its loans have financed solar projects with a total generating capacity of 185 megawatts of electricity.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 16, 2020, 01:18:51 AM »
The Netherlands is going to pay Denmark 100 million Euro to count some of Denmark's renewable energy generation toward their goal.

Netherlands to pay EUR 100m to count Danish renewables towards 2020 goal
June 24 (Renewables Now) - The Dutch State will pay EUR 100 million (USD 113m) to Denmark under an agreement for statistical transfer so as to be able to count 8 TWh of Danish green power towards the Netherlands’ binding 2020 renewable energy target.

Arctic sea ice / Re: When will the Arctic Go Ice Free?
« on: July 15, 2020, 11:15:30 PM »
The "ice free" definition was set at less than 1 million square km because there will be many years when the thick ice near Greenland and the CAA won't melt out but the rest of the Arctic will be ice free.  So you'll have deniers claiming that a BOE isn't a BOE because there's still 100,000 to 900,000 of ice around the fringes.

An "ice-free" Arctic Ocean is often defined as "having less than 1 million square kilometers of sea ice", because it is very difficult to melt the thick ice around the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.[20][21][22] The IPCC AR5 defines "nearly ice-free conditions" as sea ice extent less than 106 km2 for at least five consecutive years.[4]

James Hansen wrote a paper that emphasized the benefits of decreasing methane concentrations in the short term while we worked on bringing down CO2 (a much harder task).  I can't find it thought (he's written a ton of papers).

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 15, 2020, 08:59:00 PM »
The UK is relaxing planning rules related to energy storage projects (excluding pumped hydro) to spur the installation of more utility scale battery storage.  And construction began on a cable to link the UK grid to Denmark's, a project that will be completed in 2023.

UK hopes to ramp up battery storage and boost renewables by loosening planning rules
Published Wed, Jul 15 2020
Anmar Frangoul

The U.K. government is to relax planning rules to make the development of large battery storage systems easier.

In an announcement Tuesday, authorities said secondary legislation would be introduced to get rid of “barriers for storage projects above 50 MW (megawatts) in England and 350 MW in Wales.”

In simple terms, the change will be a technical one related to who has the authority to grant permission to a project. At the moment, if a facility is 50 MW or less in England or 350 MW or less in Wales, planning permission is needed from a local planning authority.

Larger projects are deemed to be “nationally significant” and need consent from the secretary of state under something called the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, or NSIP, regime. Under the plans, legislation will be introduced to remove electricity storage, excluding pumped hydro, from the NSIP regime in England and Wales.

The government explained that while the U.K. was home to the “largest installed capacity of offshore wind in the world” the fact that “the availability and speed of wind” was not constant meant energy could “sometimes be produced when it is not needed and then lost.” It added that 1 gigawatt (GW) of battery storage was currently in operation, with 4 GW of projects being planned.

The battery storage news comes in the same week that construction on Viking Link, a major energy infrastructure project, began.

On Monday, National Grid said that work on a 2.4 kilometer access road to a converter station site in Bicker Fen, Lincolnshire, had started.

The Viking Link Interconnector project is a subsea, high-voltage direct-current link between Denmark and the U.K. that will be 765 kilometers long once completed.

The 2 billion euro ($2.29 billion) scheme, which will enable the two countries to share clean energy, is a joint venture between National Grid Ventures and Denmark’s Energinet. Siemens Energy is undertaking construction work on the project’s converter stations. The cable is slated for completion at the end of 2023.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 15, 2020, 08:51:07 PM »
The European Union is reviewing its policies on bioenergy in recognition that much of it is not sustainable.

Not all biomass is carbon neutral, industry admits as EU reviews policy
Published on 14/07/2020, 11:51am

The EU is working on stricter sustainability criteria for bioenergy, posing a challenge for the industry and several member states

By Frédéric Simon for Euractiv

Leading industry figures acknowledge that not all biomass brings benefits to the climate, insisting that only low-value wood and forest residues should make the cut under EU law.

“Not all biomass is good biomass,” says Jennifer Jenkins, chief sustainability officer at Enviva, a US-based company which is the world’s largest producer of industrial wood pellets used for electricity and heat production.

To bring climate benefits, biomass needs to come from low-value wood residues or smaller trees coming from timber harvests – not from high-value trees that could be used in products like furniture or construction material, Jenkins said.

The question now facing policymakers in Brussels is how to ensure EU energy policies do not encourage the wrong sort of biomass, even inadvertently.

Biomass currently represents almost 60% of the EU’s renewable energy, more than solar and wind power combined, according to the EU’s statistical office, Eurostat.

And even though wind and solar are growing fast, countries such as Austria, Denmark, Finland, Latvia and Sweden would be unable to achieve their 2020 renewable energy targets without biomass, experts say.

Earlier this year, the European Commission announced it would perform a comprehensive assessment of biomass supply and demand in Europe and globally with a view to “ensure that EU biomass-related policies are sustainable”.

“The overall objective is to ensure that EU regulatory framework on bioenergy is in line with the increased ambition set out in the European Green Deal,” the Commission said in its biodiversity strategy, published on 20 May.

But sorting out “good” from “bad” biomass is notoriously tricky.

Last year, a group of climate activists filed a lawsuit against the European Union to challenge the notion that forest biomass is carbon neutral, a principle which is currently enshrined in the bloc’s renewable energy directive.

“The treatment of biomass as carbon neutral runs counter to scientific findings” showing that burning wood for energy typically emits 1.5 times more CO2 than coal and 3 times more than natural gas, the plaintiffs claimed.

So how could policymakers distinguish “good” from “bad” biomass? According to some experts, one way could be to contrast the impact of biomass on global carbon stocks in the short and long term.

“If you burn biomass, then of course there is CO2 being emitted,” said Junginger, adding that from that point of view, biomass “critics have a point” and that climate scientists are concerned about the immediate CO2 emissions, which can be “up to twice more than natural gas”.

However, what critics fail to acknowledge is the long-term positive effects of biomass on the climate, Junginger added, saying bioenergy from sustainably managed forests is carbon neutral in the long run because trees re-absorb carbon dioxide as they grow.

Ultimately within two or three decades, even the less sustainable kinds of biomass will have repaid their carbon debt and perform better than fossil fuels,” he argued.

The linked study provides a good assessment of our ability to reduce methane emissions over the next few decades.

Lena Höglund-Isaksson et al 2020 Environ. Res. Commun. 2 025004
Technical potentials and costs for reducing global anthropogenic methane emissions in the 2050 timeframe –results from the GAINS model


Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide contributing to human-made global warming. Keeping to the Paris Agreement of staying well below two degrees warming will require a concerted effort to curb methane emissions in addition to necessary decarbonization of the energy systems. The fastest way to achieve emission reductions in the 2050 timeframe is likely through implementation of various technical options. The focus of this study is to explore the technical abatement and cost pathways for reducing global methane emissions, breaking reductions down to regional and sector levels using the most recent version of IIASA's Greenhouse gas and Air pollution Interactions and Synergies (GAINS) model. The diverse human activities that contribute to methane emissions make detailed information on potential global impacts of actions at the regional and sectoral levels particularly valuable for policy-makers. With a global annual inventory for 1990–2015 as starting point for projections, we produce a baseline emission scenario to 2050 against which future technical abatement potentials and costs are assessed at a country and sector/technology level. We find it technically feasible in year 2050 to remove 54 percent of global methane emissions below baseline, however, due to locked in capital in the short run, the cumulative removal potential over the period 2020–2050 is estimated at 38 percent below baseline. This leaves 7.7 Pg methane released globally between today and 2050 that will likely be difficult to remove through technical solutions. There are extensive technical opportunities at low costs to control emissions from waste and wastewater handling and from fossil fuel production and use. A considerably more limited technical abatement potential is found for agricultural emissions, in particular from extensive livestock rearing in developing countries. This calls for widespread implementation in the 2050 timeframe of institutional and behavioural options in addition to technical solutions.

This article summarizes the study:

Three workable strategies for putting a big dent in methane, the “other” greenhouse gas
April 16, 2020
Andrew Urevig

Improve Waste Management

Yard waste and uneaten food decomposing in landfills vent methane into the air, so the study finds lots of potential in improved garbage management. The researchers estimate that separating waste by source, with better recycling and schemes to capture energy from some trash — plus a ban on organic waste in landfills — could help the world avoid emitting 778 million metric tons (858 million tons) of methane that would otherwise make its way into the air between now and 2050.

Repair Leaks

Ultimately, fossil fuels will also need to be phased out, Höglund Isaksson writes. But in the meantime, the study finds that we could slow the growth of methane emissions by taking steps such as implementing programs to detect and repair leaks in oil production and the extraction and transportation of natural gas. Coal mines could consistently implement degasification and improve ventilation, and oil drillers could try to recover associated gas. Such steps — with leakage detection and repair being the biggest — could prevent 2.35 billion metric tons (2.57 billion tons) of methane emissions by 2050.

Modify Agricultural Practices

Methane emissions from agriculture, the study finds, will be the hardest area for technical improvements. Rice cultivation’s footprint could decrease if farmers used alternative hybrids, improved water management and added materials to improve soil properties. These steps could avoid 335 million metric tons (370 million tons) of emitted methane by 2050. Livestock breeders could continue efforts to raise more productive animals: If farmers could use fewer cows to produce the same amount of milk, for example, that would cut back on emissions. This approach could yield different emissions results in cows, pigs, sheep and other livestock.

The European Union is formulating policies to address methane emissions.

EC consults on methane leaks in push to clean up EU gas imports
13 Jul 2020
Siobhan Hall

Brussels — The European Commission is seeking views on how to reduce leaks of potent greenhouse gas methane from oil, gas and agricultural sectors as part of the EU's efforts to become climate-neutral by 2050.

Most of the methane leaks from fossil gas production and transport happen before the natural gas or LNG reaches the EU, so a new EU policy on methane emissions could have far-reaching impacts on the global gas market.

The key challenge is how to improve measuring, reporting and verifying emissions at the level of private entities, it said.

On average, 5% of sources account for 50% of the leaks, known as "super-emitters".

Leak detection and repair programs, as well as finding and addressing these "super-emitters, can be a very effective action," the EC said.

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: July 14, 2020, 12:37:06 AM »
While both China and the US are trying to prop up coal, both countries are failing to do so.  Coal just isn't competitive with the alternatives, formerly natural gas and now increasingly solar and wind power.

Global demise of coal-fired generation driven by idle and unprofitable plants

China grapples with overcapacity by slowing coal plant construction while more U.S. plants have closed during the first three years of the Trump administration than in Obama’s two terms.
June 23, 2020 K Kaufmann

The demise of coal is now a global phenomenon that — rather like Covid-19 — is no respecter of borders or governments, with both China and the United States grappling with the social and economic impacts of overcapacity.

In other words, baseload power just isn’t what it used to be, and too many coal plants around the world are sitting idle and unprofitable too much of the time. In China, the issue has surfaced in a recent government policy statement calling for the elimination of outdated coal-fired plants and stricter controls on new capacity.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., President Donald Trump’s efforts to revive the coal industry have not slowed the snowballing pace of plant closures, now running at a higher rate than during the eight years of the Obama administration. According to figures from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), reported in E&E News, 15 GW and 33 GW were retired during Obama’s first and second terms, respectively, versus 37 GW since Trump took office in 2017. Another 3.7 GW of capacity are projected to close in the next six months.

While China leads the world in solar capacity, its continuing reliance on coal and on the construction of new coal-fired plants to drive economic growth has also made it the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Coal accounted for 57.7% of the country’s energy consumption in 2019.

Capacity up, utilization down

But, according to a recent analysis published on the Carbon Brief website, as capacity has increased, utilization has gone down, with many Chinese coal companies running at a loss, and plants typically operating at 50% capacity.

The story in the U.S. is more familiar and more certain, with the EIA reporting coal-fired generation at its lowest point since 1976, undercut primarily by cheap natural gas and wind. Even with ongoing plant closures, utilization rates also fell to 48%, and for the first time, Americans consumed more renewable power, including hydroelectric, than coal-fired generation.

The IPCC Special Report on the Oceans and Cryosphere covers this topic in section and includes the reference on short lived greenhouse gases (Zickfeld et. al., 2017).

Beyond the 21st century, the relative importance of the long-term contributions of the various components of SLR changes markedly. For glaciers, the long-term is of limited importance, because the sea level equivalent of all glaciers is restricted to 0.32 ± 0.08 m when taking account of ice mass above present day sea level (Farinotti et al., 2019). Hence, there is high confidence that the contribution of glaciers to SLR expressed as a rate will decrease over the 22nd century under RCP8.5 (Marzeion et al., 2012). For thermal expansion the gradual rate of heat absorption in the ocean will lead to a further SLR for several centuries (Zickfeld et al., 2017).

While the IPCC SR1.5 didn't make it super-clear, they did discuss this issue in brief.  The reference that I bolded discusses the same issue for CO2.

Sea level

Policy decisions related to anthropogenic climate change will have a profound impact on sea level, not only for the remainder of this century but for many millennia to come (Clark et al., 2016). On these long time scales, 50 m of sea level rise (SLR) is possible (Clark et al., 2016). While it is virtually certain that sea level will continue to rise well beyond 2100, the amount of rise depends on future cumulative emissions (Church et al., 2013) as well as their profile over time (Bouttes et al., 2013; Mengel et al., 2018) . Marzeion et al. (2018) found that 28–44% of present-day glacier volume is unsustainable in the present-day climate and that it would eventually melt over the course of a few centuries, even if there were no further climate change. Some components of SLR, such as thermal expansion, are only considered reversible on centennial time scales (Bouttes et al., 2013; Zickfeld et al., 2013) , while the contribution from ice sheets may not be reversible under any plausible future scenario (see below).

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 13, 2020, 10:32:47 PM »
Investment in offshore wind farms has quadrupled globally in the first half of this year.

Offshore wind energy investment quadruples despite Covid-19 slump
Investors give greenlight to $35bn worth of projects worldwide in first half of 2020

Jillian Ambrose
Mon 13 Jul 2020

Global offshore wind investment more than quadrupled in the first half of the year even as the coronavirus pandemic triggered an unprecedented economic shock.

A report has found that investors gave the greenlight to 28 new offshore windfarms worth a total of $35bn (£28bn) this year, four times more than in the first half of 2019 and well above the total for last year as a whole.

The growth in offshore wind powered a 5% jump in total renewable energy investment to $132.4bn despite a slump for onshore wind and solar power projects. Onshore wind investment for the first half of the year fell by a fifth to $37.5bn, while solar investment slipped 12% to $54.7bn.

Keep in mind that the cost of renewables has been declining every year (in every country of the world), so this means that much more capacity is being installed (globally) for a given amount invested (in any country).

Edit:  Modified to clarify that this applies in every country in the world.

Arctic sea ice / Re: The 2020 melting season
« on: July 10, 2020, 10:53:53 PM »
Maybe this belongs in the stupid questions thread, but I see this come up a lot in this thread.

How can you tell the difference on a satellite photo between a ice covered in melt ponds and frozen ice that isn't covered by snow?  Both would appear blue from a distance and I don't think most satellite photos have the resolution to show the difference.  Is there something I'm missing?

Science / Re: Where are we now in CO2e , which pathway are we on?
« on: July 09, 2020, 08:58:42 PM »
kassy, are the rising permafrost emissions, possible subsea methane bursts, rising lake emissions and lost forest-sinks etc. included in our radiative forcing path?

Many of the projects about emissions from permafrost, methane bursts, etc... are based on RCP8.5 model runs.  Reading the papers, you see that the projections of increased emissions are much lower for RCP 4.5 or RCP 2.6.  And the amount of methane from the Arctic is much less than what's emitted in the tropics, much of it coming from fossil fuel extraction and agriculture.

Here's today's view of methane emissions from Copernicus, the North Pole view.  Note that many parts of the Arctic Ocean over the ESAS are free of sea ice now, Siberia is burning up, etc...  Yet those areas are below the global average methane concentration.,3,2020070803&projection=classical_north_pole&layer_name=composition_ch4_totalcolumn

Science / Re: Where are we now in CO2e , which pathway are we on?
« on: July 09, 2020, 08:45:23 PM »
The energy mixes assumed in the RCPs were extremely pessimistic on renewables.  The RCPs were drafted in the early 2000s when renewables were much more expensive than fossil fuels.  Now renewables are cheaper than both new build and operating coal, and new natural gas.  As a result, more money is being invested in renewables then in fossil fuel plants.  Some fossil fuel plants are being shut down and being replaced with renewables at a savings to the rate payers.

Skepticalscience has a great article on the RCPs:

The Beginner's Guide to Representative Concentration Pathways

By G. P. Wayne

Welcome to the Beginner's Guide to Representative Concentration Pathways. Arranged in three parts, you can access each part by clicking on the tabs below. Part 1 provides background to the scenarios used by climate scientists. Part 2 describes the development of RCPs, and Part 3 provides a quick reference to many of the key parameters and data (there’s also a further reading list at the end). The guide is also available as a PDF.

Here are some images from that article related to energy trends:

Figure 13: Development of primary energy consumption (direct equivalent) and oil consumption for the different RCPs (van Vuuren 2011). The grey area indicates the 98th and 90th percentiles (light/dark grey) (AR4 database (Hanaoka et al. 2006) and more recent literature (Clarke et al. 2010; Edenhofer et al. 2010). The dotted lines indicate four of the SRES marker scenarios

    “For energy use, the scenarios underlying the RCPs are consistent with the literature— with the RCP2.6, RCP4.5 and RCP6 again being representative of intermediate scenarios in the literature (resulting in a primary energy use of 750 to 900 EJ in 2100, or about double the level of today).

    “The RCP8.5, in contrast, is a highly energy-intensive scenario as a result of high  population growth and a lower rate of technology development”. (van Vuuren 2011).

Figure 14: Energy sources by sector (van Vuuren 2011)

    “In terms of the mix of energy carriers, there is a clear distinction across the RCPs given the influence of the climate target. Total fossil- fuel use basically follows the radiative forcing level of the scenarios; however, due to the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies (in particular in the power sector), all scenarios, by 2100, still use a greater amount of coal and/or natural gas than in the year 2000. The use of oil stays fairly constant in most scenarios, but declines in the RCP2.6 (as a result of depletion and climate policy).

    The use of non-fossil fuels increases in all scenarios, especially renewable resources (e.g. wind, solar), bio-energy and nuclear power. The main driving forces are increasing energy demand, rising fossil-fuel prices and climate policy. An important element of the RCP2.6 is the use of bio-energy and CCS, resulting in negative emissions (and allowing some fossil fuel without CCS by the end of the century)”. (van Vuuren 2011).

While we are currently somewhere between 2.6 and 8.5, current investments in energy infrastructure that will dictate future energy trends are much closer to the RCP2.6 scenario, even though the mix is much more weighted to renewables than bioenergy with CCS.

Antarctica / Re: Ice Apocalypse - MULTIPLE METERS SEA LEVEL RISE
« on: July 09, 2020, 08:30:55 PM »
The Miami SLR mitigation effort with building walls will generate a lot of CO₂ emissions.
Miami is build on porous limestone, if I remember correctly, so I think the water will come up behind the walls and therefore render the mitigation effort useless apart from exceptional storm surges. Massive retreat seems inevitable.
Am I correct with this line of thinking?

I believe that the Corps is proposing to inject/pump freshwater into the porous limestone in order create an underground hydraulic head to limit saltwater from mixing with the local groundwater; however, I do not believe that this method will work for high levels of SLR.

It wont work for low levels of SLR either.  As mentioned upthread, the ground is porous limestone and water already comes up from it during the highest high tides of the year.  There's no way to cap every pore with concrete. 

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 09, 2020, 06:39:03 PM »
The Washington DC transit system just sold the air space above its parking lots to solar developers.  The deal will generate funds for public transit and allow for 12.8 MW of solar power capacity in an urban environment.

Metro agrees to solar power deal worth $50 million
Justin George
July 8, 2020 at 4:12 p.m. PDT

Metro has sold 13 football fields’ worth of space at its parking lots and garages in the District and Prince George’s County for a solar power project worth up to $50 million over 25 years, the transit agency said Wednesday.

The deal provides SunPower Corporation and Goldman Sachs Renewable Power space on Metro’s surface parking lots and above its parking garages to install solar-paneled carports or canopies at four rail stations. Metro said the four sites will have the capacity to generate 12.8 megawatts, making it “the largest community solar project” in the Washington region.

The high-flying models have more to prove in terms of tracking actual temperatures, than their more realistic competitors. So what's the argument, ASLR, why should they be "downweighted", as you propose? Because they don't err on the side of maximum ECS drama?

It is clear that climate change is more complex than any current model can simulate, thus it is bad science to keep focusing on relatively simple models and then demanding unreasonable accuracy from more nonlinear models, as the use of simple models for a complex system entails a large degree of climate risk.

It's also bad science to focus on the few models that appear to be outliers, denigrate the vast majority of other models and ignore the paleoclimate evidence that supports a lower ECS.

The aforementioned Zeke Hausfather has a good article on this:

Cold Water on Hot Models
Feb 11, 2020

News headlines have recently warned about “troubling” new warming projections from climate models that are “running red hot.” In reality, these only represent a small subset of the new models currently being developed — most of which are not running notably “hot.” And many of the “hot” models do a relatively poor job of reproducing past temperature changes, an important test of model skill. Climate scientists use many different lines of evidence to estimate how sensitive the climate is to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, and it is premature to conclude that climate sensitivity is likely higher than we previously thought.

Many high sensitivity models have poor hindcasts

Climate models provide both projections of future warming and “hindcasts” of past temperatures. These hindcasts can be used as a tool to evaluate the performance of models, though historical temperatures are only one of many hundreds of different variables that climate models generate.

A number of the higher sensitivity models in CMIP6 have had trouble accurately “hindcasting” historical temperatures. Some show almost no warming over the 20th century — with cooling effects from aerosols almost completely counterbalancing rising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations — followed by a massive warming spike in recent decades. Others show too much warming over the past 150 years.

High sensitivity models (in red) generally show more warming than observations over the last three decades, while those with a TCR of around 2.2C or less (in blue) tend to agree much better with observations. High ECS models tend to have high TCR, though the two measures of sensitivity are not perfectly correlated. In this case, all the models in the figure with an ECS above 5C (except for one — CESM2) also have a TCR value above 2.5C.

Climate sensitivity should be based on multiple lines of evidence

Models are an important way that climate scientists estimate sensitivity, but they’re far from the only one. Sensitivity can also be estimated by applying emergent constraints to climate models — for example, identifying which models perform better on observable metrics such as cloud behavior that are correlated with climate sensitivity. Sensitivity can also be inferred from the instrumental temperature records over the past 150 years, as well as from climate proxy records from the Earth’s more distant past — periods such as recent ice ages, the Pliocene, or the Eocene.

By considering these multiple lines of evidence — rather than just a subset of the latest climate models — we get a more nuanced view of climate sensitivity than if we only rely on the latest climate models. The figure below shows the climate sensitivity range inferred from various types of studies, based on a review of 142 estimates published between 2001 and 2018.

These new 5C ECS models should remind us that large uncertainties (and long tails of risk) remain, but they do not by themselves overturn the long-term consensus that climate sensitivity is likely somewhere around 3C (+/- 1.5C) per doubling of CO2.

More information has come in on the CMIP 6 models and Realclimate has an update:

Sensitive but unclassified: Part II
Filed under:

    Climate modelling Climate Science

— gavin @ 13 June 2020

The discussion and analysis of the latest round of climate models continues – but not always sensibly.

In a previous post, I discussed the preliminary results from the ongoing CMIP6 exercise – an international, multi-institutional, coordinated and massive suite of climate model simulations – and noted that they exhibited a wider range of equilibrium climate sensitivities (ECS) than in previous phases (CMIP5 and earlier) and wider than the assessed range based on observational constraints (of many kinds).

Since then, more model results have been added to the archive, and thanks to Mark Zelinka, we can see some of the analysis as it updates in real time.

Since my first post, there have been a number of papers have looked at the skill of these models to see whether there are some key observational data that might help in constraining the sensitivity (and by extension, the projections into the future). One set of papers has focused on the global mean trends from 1990 or so onward which is a period of stable or declining aerosol trends and which might therefore be a closer test of the models’ transient sensitivity to CO2 than earlier periods. Notably Tokarska et al. (2020) and Njisse et al. (2020) suggest that many of the high ECS group warm substantially faster than observed over this period and therefore should be downweighted in the constrained projections of the future.

In the meantime, claims that climate sensitivity is much higher, or that worst cases scenarios need to be revised upwards, are premature.

In the linked reference, Pollard and DeConto largely confirm their 2016 projections for the WAIS.  Furthermore, if they were adopt the TCR and ECS values from E3SM1 (one of the CMIP6 models) then their projected collapse dates for the WAIS under RCP8.5 would most likely be significantly earlier than indicated by the attached image.

Pollard, D. and DeConto, R.: Improvements in one-dimensional grounding-line parameterizations in an ice-sheet model with lateral variations, Geosci. Model Dev. Discuss.,, in review, 2020.

Abstract. The use of a boundary-layer parameterization of buttressing and ice flux across grounding lines in a two-dimensional ice-sheet model is improved by allowing general orientations of the grounding line. This and another modification to the model's grounding-line parameterization are assessed in two settings: a narrow fjord-like domain (MISMIP+), and in future simulations of West Antarctic ice retreat under RCP8.5-based climates. The new modifications are found to have significant effects on the fjord results, which are now within the envelopes of other models in the MISMIP+ intercomparison. In contrast, the modifications have little effect on West Antarctic retreat, presumably because dynamics in the wider major Antarctic basins are adequately represented by the model's previous simpler one-dimensional formulation. As future grounding lines retreat across very deep bedrock topography in the West Antarctic simulations, buttressing is weak and deviatoric stress measures exceed the ice yield stress, implying that structural failure at these grounding lines would occur. We suggest that these grounding-line quantities should be examined in similar projections by other ice models, to better assess the potential for future structural failure.

Caption: "Figure 7. Equivalent global sea level rise in simulations of future West Antarctic ice retreat with climate forcing based on the RCP8.5 greenhouse gas scenario. The sea-level rise calculation accounts for ice grounded below sea level, which if melted contributes only its ice-overflotation amount. Thin lines: with previous model (no modifications, version A). Medium lines: with new 2-D grounding-line orientation (section 2.1, version B). Thick lines: with new 2-D orientation and new grid-cell weighting of imposed grounding-line velocities (section 2.2, version C). Blue: control (perpetual modern climate). Green: with RCP8.5 forcing, without hydrofracturing or cliff failure. Red: with RCP8.5 forcing, with hydrofracturing and cliff failure."

Why did they do a new paper using the "extreme" (their word) RCP 8.5 scenario (red line in their graph)?  I think most scientists recognize that RCP 8.5 is incredibly unrealistic now, given the complete collapse of coal mining and the rapid ascent of wind and solar.

The current forcings, continued, is somewhere between RCP 4.5 and 2.6.  It's represented by the blue line in their graph.  It would appear to be more realistic, if less sensational.

Figure  7.  Equivalent  global  sea  level  rise  in  simulations  of  future  West  Antarctic  ice  retreat  with  climate  forcing  based  on  the  RCP8.5 greenhouse gas scenario. The sea-level rise calculation accounts for ice grounded below sea level, which if melted contributes only its ice-over-260 flotation  amount. Thin  lines:  with  previous  model  (no  modifications,  version  A).Medium  lines:  with  new  2-D  grounding-line  orientation (section 2.1, version B). Thick lines: with new 2-D orientation and new grid-cell weighting of imposed grounding-line velocities (section 2.2, version C). Blue: control (perpetual modern climate). Green: with RCP8.5 forcing, without hydrofracturing or cliff failure. Red: with RCP8.5 forcing, with hydrofracturing and cliff failure.

The link study reports on an updated survey of sea level experts for their projections of future sea level rise.

Published: 08 May 2020

Estimating global mean sea-level rise and its uncertainties by 2100 and 2300 from an expert survey

Benjamin P. Horton, Nicole S. Khan, Niamh Cahill, Janice S. H. Lee, Timothy A. Shaw, Andra J. Garner, Andrew C. Kemp, Simon E. Engelhart & Stefan Rahmstorf

Climate and Atmospheric Science volume 3, Article number: 18 (2020)


Sea-level rise projections and knowledge of their uncertainties are vital to make informed mitigation and adaptation decisions. To elicit projections from members of the scientific community regarding future global mean sea-level (GMSL) rise, we repeated a survey originally conducted five years ago. Under Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 2.6, 106 experts projected a likely (central 66% probability) GMSL rise of 0.30–0.65 m by 2100, and 0.54–2.15 m by 2300, relative to 1986–2005. Under RCP 8.5, the same experts projected a likely GMSL rise of 0.63–1.32 m by 2100, and 1.67–5.61 m by 2300. Expert projections for 2100 are similar to those from the original survey, although the projection for 2300 has extended tails and is higher than the original survey. Experts give a likelihood of 42% (original survey) and 45% (current survey) that under the high-emissions scenario GMSL rise will exceed the upper bound (0.98 m) of the likely range estimated by the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is considered to have an exceedance likelihood of 17%. Responses to open-ended questions suggest that the increases in upper-end estimates and uncertainties arose from recent influential studies about the impact of marine ice cliff instability on the meltwater contribution to GMSL rise from the Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: June 22, 2020, 11:43:30 PM »
Don't forget that the oil and gas companies spend a great deal of money lobbying their Congressional representatives for these subsidies.  They also pay people to write articles denigrating renewables and all of the subsidies the government gives the renewable sector.

In the meantime, they've received many orders of magnitude more subsidies, such as the lack of funding for cleaning up their mess, than the renewables sector has received.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: May 22, 2020, 01:45:40 AM »
Perovskite solar cells have taken a major step toward commercial feasibility.  This will have a huge impact on the deployment of solar cells in many new applications.  In addition, silicon solar cells have almost reached the limits of their ability to convert sunlight into energy; layering on perovskite will allow much more efficient solar panels to be produced.

Cheap Renewable Energy a Step Closer As Next-Generation Solar Cells Pass Strict International Tests

By University of Sydney May 21, 2020

Australian scientists have for the first time produced a new generation of experimental solar energy cells that pass strict International Electrotechnical Commission testing standards for heat and humidity.

The research findings, an important step towards commercial viability of perovskite solar cells, are published today (May 21, 2020) in the journal Science.

However, the energy conversion rate of silicon in solar panels is close to reaching its natural limits. So, scientists have been exploring new materials that can be stacked on top of silicon in order to improve energy conversion rates. One of the most promising materials to date is a metal halide perovskite, which may even outperform silicon on its own.

“Perovskites are a really promising prospect for solar energy systems,” said Professor Anita Ho-Baillie, the inaugural John Hooke Chair of Nanoscience at the University of Sydney. “They are a very inexpensive, 500 times thinner than silicon and are therefore flexible and ultra-lightweight. They also have tremendous energy enabling properties and high solar conversion rates.”

Australian researchers claim world first in global race to develop better solar panels

Experimental cell using the potentially game-changing material perovskite passes a series of heat and humidity tests

Graham Readfearn
Published on Thu 21 May 2020

A team of Australian researchers are claiming a world first in a global race to develop cheaper, more flexible and more efficient solar panels after their experimental cell passed a series of heat and humidity tests.

Using a type of crystal material known as perovskite, the group found that a simple glass and synthetic rubber coating around the cell was enough to stop it from degrading too quickly.

Solar cells that use the crystals to convert sunlight to an electrical current are about 500 times thinner than those that use silicon – the material that’s been the basis for solar cells since the 1950s.

As well as being thinner, perovskite crystals are also flexible, meaning they could potentially have much wider applications than the brittle silicon-based cells.

“Perovskite opens the market in ways that we hadn’t thought of. It’s lightweight, it’s flexible, and you could fold it up and roll it out. For us, the sky is the limit.”

Weber said perovskite technology was “of intense interest” because it combined “a rare combination of highly desirable properties”.

The technology offered multiple “and potentially very cheap” ways of making solar cells, could be modified across different applications and allowed more efficient cells to be produced.

He added: “Typical layers have a thickness about one-hundredth the diameter of a human hair. This means that material costs can be very low as well – which is important when you want to make many square kilometres of product.

More on the importance of controlling methane emissions.

News Release 20-Sep-2019
Controlling methane is a fast and critical way to slow global warming, say experts

In independent studies, two Princeton University research teams recently identified surprisingly large sources of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, being leaked into the atmosphere. Pound for pound, methane causes a far greater warming effect in the atmosphere than does carbon dioxide -- 86-fold more heating over 20 years, and 35-fold more over the course of a century.

In one study, a team headed by Mark Zondlo, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Princeton, looked at an area around western Pennsylvania rich with natural gas wells and found that a small number of these wells are "superemitters" of methane. The other study came from the research group of Denise Mauzerall, a Princeton professor jointly appointed in civil and environmental engineering and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. By equipping fishing boats with sensors and sailing around offshore oil and gas rigs in the North Sea, the researchers found that these facilities leak substantially more methane than previously reported.

Fortunately, both fracking (which is what is common in Pennsylvania these days) and off-shore oil are among the highest cost forms of oil production, and thus are suffering most from the oversupply and Covid-19 recession impacting the oil industry.

Oil May Never Fully Recover From This Crisis
By Irina Slav - May 21, 2020

Ten years ago, oil was one of the first industries to emerge from the crisis relatively unscathed, with demand strong and prices in the $80s. Now, it is likely to be among the last ones to recover from the double blow of demand destruction by the pandemic and the excess supply resulting from excessive production. And it may never recover fully.

Isn´t 2.6 the one were we actively collectively do something about it? Not everyone is on board.

The linked 2015 reference discusses how much negative emissions were estimated to be needed back then to follow RCP 2.6:

Gasser, T., Guivarch, C., Tachiiri, K. et al. Negative emissions physically needed to keep global warming below 2 °C. Nat Commun 6, 7958 (2015).

To limit global warming to <2 °C we must reduce the net amount of CO2 we release into the atmosphere, either by producing less CO2 (conventional mitigation) or by capturing more CO2 (negative emissions). Here, using state-of-the-art carbon–climate models, we quantify the trade-off between these two options in RCP2.6: an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scenario likely to limit global warming below 2 °C. In our best-case illustrative assumption of conventional mitigation, negative emissions of 0.5–3 Gt C (gigatonnes of carbon) per year and storage capacity of 50–250 Gt C are required. In our worst case, those requirements are 7–11 Gt C per year and 1,000–1,600 Gt C, respectively. Because these figures have not been shown to be feasible, we conclude that development of negative emission technologies should be accelerated, but also that conventional mitigation must remain a substantial part of any climate policy aiming at the 2-°C target.

Yes, negative emissions will be required.  That's been known for decades.  There are many ways to achieve negative emissions without new technologies.

Stopping deforestation and allowing forests to regrow could sequester 120 PgC between 2016 and 2100.  120 billion tons in 84 years is 1.4 billion tons per year, or about half of what is required.

Negative emissions from stopping deforestation and forest degradation, globally
Richard A. Houghton, Alexander A. Nassikas
21 August 2017


Forest growth provides negative emissions of carbon that could help keep the earth's surface temperature from exceeding 2°C, but the global potential is uncertain. Here we use land‐use information from the FAO and a bookkeeping model to calculate the potential negative emissions that would result from allowing secondary forests to recover. We find the current gross carbon sink in forests recovering from harvests and abandoned agriculture to be −4.4 PgC/year, globally. The sink represents the potential for negative emissions if positive emissions from deforestation and wood harvest were eliminated. However, the sink is largely offset by emissions from wood products built up over the last century. Accounting for these committed emissions, we estimate that stopping deforestation and allowing secondary forests to grow would yield cumulative negative emissions between 2016 and 2100 of about 120 PgC, globally. Extending the lifetimes of wood products could potentially remove another 10 PgC from the atmosphere, for a total of approximately 130 PgC, or about 13 years of fossil fuel use at today's rate. As an upper limit, the estimate is conservative. It is based largely on past and current practices. But if greater negative emissions are to be realized, they will require an expansion of forest area, greater efficiencies in converting harvested wood to long‐lasting products and sources of energy, and novel approaches for sequestering carbon in soils. That is, they will require current management practices to change.

Biochar use for agriculture can improve soil quality, reduce the amount of fertilizers needed (and the amount of NO2 emitted, the third most important greenhouse gas behind CO2 and CH4) and is a negative emission technology.

Potentials, Limitations, Co-Benefits, and Trade-Offs of Biochar Applications to Soils for Climate Change Mitigation
by Alexandre Tisserant * and Francesco Cherubini
Published: 23 November 2019

Biochar is one of the most affordable negative emission technologies (NET) at hand for future large-scale deployment of carbon dioxide removal (CDR), which is typically found essential to stabilizing global temperature rise at relatively low levels. Biochar has also attracted attention as a soil amendment capable of improving yield and soil quality and of reducing soil greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In this work, we review the literature on biochar production potential and its effects on climate, food security, ecosystems, and toxicity. We identify three key factors that are largely affecting the environmental performance of biochar application to agricultural soils: (1) production condition during pyrolysis, (2) soil conditions and background climate, and (3) field management of biochar. Biochar production using only forest or crop residues can achieve up to 10% of the required CDR for 1.5 ∘C pathways and about 25% for 2 ∘ C pathways; the consideration of dedicated crops as biochar feedstocks increases the CDR potential up to 15–35% and 35–50%, respectively. A quantitative review of life-cycle assessment (LCA) studies of biochar systems shows that the total climate change assessment of biochar ranges between a net emission of 0.04 tCO 2 eq and a net reduction of 1.67 tCO 2 eq per tonnes feedstock. The wide range of values is due to different assumptions in the LCA studies, such as type of feedstock, biochar stability in soils, soil emissions, substitution effects, and methodological issues. Potential trade-offs between climate mitigation and other environmental impact categories include particulate matter, acidification, and eutrophication and mostly depend on the background energy system considered and on whether residues or dedicated feedstocks are used for biochar production. Overall, our review finds that biochar in soils presents relatively low risks in terms of negative environmental impacts and can improve soil quality and that decisions regarding feedstock mix and pyrolysis conditions can be optimized to maximize climate benefits and to reduce trade-offs under different soil conditions. However, more knowledge on the fate of biochar in freshwater systems and as black carbon emissions is required, as they represent potential negative consequences for climate and toxicity. Biochar systems also interact with the climate through many complex mechanisms (i.e., surface albedo, black carbon emissions from soils, etc.) or with water bodies through leaching of nutrients. These effects are complex and the lack of simplified metrics and approaches prevents their routine inclusion in environmental assessment studies. Specific emission factors produced from more sophisticated climate and ecosystem models are instrumental to increasing the resolution and accuracy of environmental sustainability analysis of biochar systems and can ultimately improve the characterization of the heterogeneities of varying local conditions and combinations of type feedstock, conversion process, soil conditions, and application practice.

And RCP2.6, like the other RCPs, overestimated how much coal would be burned and how quickly renewable energy would replace fossil fuels.

Stopping methane leaks would have an almost immediate impact on warming, as it's lifetime in the atmosphere is around a decade and it has a warming potential around 35 times that of CO2.  With the curtailment of fracking in the US due to the oversupply of oil and natural gas this spring, we should see decreases this year.  The oil industry may never recover to its 2019 levels of production.

Timelines for mitigating the methane impacts of using natural gas for carbon dioxide abatement
Magdalena M Klemunand Jessika E Trancik
Published 16 December 2019


Reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions through a reliance on natural gas can create a hidden commitment to methane (CH4) leakage mitigation. While the quantity of CH4 leakage from natural gas has been studied extensively, the magnitude and timing of the CH4 mitigation required to meet climate policy goals is less well understood. Here we address this topic by examining the case of US electricity under a range of baseline natural gas leakage rate estimates and emissions equivalency metrics for converting CH4 to CO2-equivalent emissions. We find that CH4 emissions from the power sector would need to be reduced by 30%–90% from today's levels by 2030 in order to meet a CO2-equivalent climate policy target while continuing to rely on natural gas. These CH4 emissions reductions are greater than the required CO2 reductions under the same policy. Alternatively, expanding carbon-free sources more rapidly could meet the 2030 target without reductions in natural gas leakage rates. The results provide insight on an important policy choice in regions and sectors using natural gas, between emphasizing a natural gas supply chain clean-up effort or an accelerated transition toward carbon-free energy sources.

The linked reference indicates that improved modeling of future thermokarst behavior in northeast Siberia indicates that:

"... by 2100 thaw-affected carbon could be up to three-fold (twelve-fold) under RCP4.5 (RCP8.5), of what is projected if thermokarst-inducing processes are ignored."

AR5 projections ignored this significant positive feedback mechanism.

Nitzbon, J., Westermann, S., Langer, M. et al. Fast response of cold ice-rich permafrost in northeast Siberia to a warming climate. Nat Commun 11, 2201 (2020).

Abstract: "The ice- and organic-rich permafrost of the northeast Siberian Arctic lowlands (NESAL) has been projected to remain stable beyond 2100, even under pessimistic climate warming scenarios. However, the numerical models used for these projections lack processes which induce widespread landscape change termed thermokarst, precluding realistic simulation of permafrost thaw in such ice-rich terrain. Here, we consider thermokarst-inducing processes in a numerical model and show that substantial permafrost degradation, involving widespread landscape collapse, is projected for the NESAL under strong warming (RCP8.5), while thawing is moderated by stabilizing feedbacks under moderate warming (RCP4.5). We estimate that by 2100 thaw-affected carbon could be up to three-fold (twelve-fold) under RCP4.5 (RCP8.5), of what is projected if thermokarst-inducing processes are ignored. Our study provides progress towards robust assessments of the global permafrost carbon–climate feedback by Earth system models, and underlines the importance of mitigating climate change to limit its impacts on permafrost ecosystems."

Note that they didn't include the findings from the RCP2.6 model runs in the abstract.

Under the RCP2.6 scenario, all landscape types (LB, HD, YD) remained stable throughout the simulation period, with the exception of water-logged YD where shallow surface water bodies formed. We thus restrict the following analysis of the landscape evolution to the warming scenarios RCP4.5 and RCP8.5.

Science / Re: Where are we now in CO2e , which pathway are we on?
« on: May 15, 2020, 10:27:09 PM »
NOAA has updated the Annual Greenhouse Gas Index through the end of 2019.

AGGI2019 = 1.45
CO2 equivalent = 500 ppm

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: May 15, 2020, 08:52:59 PM »
Do you understand the difference between emissions and concentrations?

The level of emissions has decreased.  However, if the level of emissions is higher than the amount of sinks, the concentrations will still increase.

Decreasing emissions due to the Covid crisis are a silver lining in the awful cloud we're currently in.  However, they alone aren't enough to address the climate crisis.  We need to drastically reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we emit.  The Paris Accord goals were for 50% reduction by 2030 and 100% by 2050 to have a better than even chance of avoiding a temperature increase of 1.5C.  The reductions in emissions we've seen during the Covid crisis are closer to 8%.

The faster we get off of fossil fuels, the sooner emissions, and ultimately, concentrations of greenhouse gases will decline.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: May 15, 2020, 08:34:55 PM »
Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) has its 2019 report out, you can download it from their website.
In 2019, 60.4 GW of wind capacity was installed globally (vs. a previous forecast for 2019 of 65 GW by GWEC).

The future forecast is
2020: 76.1 GW (compared to previous report's forecast of 67 GW)
2021: 76.4 GW (vs. 61 GW)
2022: 67.7 GW (vs. 65 GW)
2023: 66.2 GW (vs. 58 GW)
2024: 73.4 GW

So the early 2019 GWEC forecast for all of 2019 was about 5GW above the actuals. Future forecasts raised a bit vs. the previous report.

A five year compound growth rate in new installs of 4% per year. This was done before COVID, so 2020 may be lower than forecast. Big jump this year driven by subsidy reductions at the end of year in the US and China.

China transitioning to a "no subsidy" world and pretty flay in new installation until 2024, same as Europe. US jumps this year and then falls back and stays flat to 2024. Some growth in the Middle East and North Africa. Not a comforting forecast with respect to replacing fossil fuels.

GWEC actually underestimated the growth in their 2017 forecasts (they were predicting 57.5GW vs. the 60.4GW that was actually installed):

The aftermath of the global financial crisis in the previous decade resulted in average global markets of about 40 GW/annum for the period from 2009 to 2013. Breaking through the 50 GW barrier for the first time in 2014, the industry set a record of more than 60 GW due to anomalously high installations in China in 2015. In 2016 the market returned to the ‘new normal’ of just over 54 GW, and 2017 was in the same general range, which is also what we expect for 2018, before the industry embarks on another growth spurt in the run up to a number of 2020 targets.

And while the Covid-19 lockdowns have resulted in slowdowns in installations, the US was off to a fast start in 2020.

US Wind Installations More Than Double in Q1: Stocks in Focus
Aparajita Dutta
ZacksMay 14, 2020

While majority of the industries struggled due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. wind industry held its ground with over 1,800 megawatts (MW) of new wind power capacity installed in first-quarter 2020. This came as a major confidence booster for renewable investors, particularly those who have wind stocks in their portfolio.

Per the latest report published by American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), eleven new wind projects totaling 1,821 MW became operational during the first quarter, 117% higher than the first quarter of 2019. The United States now has 107,443 MW of operating wind power capacity, with nearly 60,000 wind turbines operating in 41 states and two territories.

Moreover, construction activity reached a new record in the first quarter of 2020, with 24,690 MW under construction across the country, representing 11% increase from the previous quarter.

In addition, developers and corporate buyers announced their highest ever quarterly volume of new power purchase agreements (PPAs), at 2,859 MW, in the first quarter. Utilities announced 1,719 MW of PPAs, led by Evergy and AEP Energy. Corporate customers announced 430 MW of wind PPAs in the first quarter.

At the end of March 2020, near-term wind power capacity pipeline comprised 44,441 MW of wind power, including 19,751 MW in advanced development. Total pipeline increased 14% year over year driven by strong demand from utilities and corporate purchasers along with an increase in offshore wind project announcements. Moreover, per the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s recently released Short-Term Energy Outlook, the electric power sector is expected to add 20.4 gigawatts of new wind capacity in 2020, amid the COVID-19-led uncertainty.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: May 09, 2020, 12:52:49 AM »
The oil and gas rig count in the US is now at its lowest since 1940!

U.S. Oil, Gas Rigs Fall Below 400 For The First Time Since 1940
By Julianne Geiger - May 08, 2020

Baker Hughes reported on Friday that the number of oil and gas rigs in the US fell again this week by 34, falling to 374, with the total oil and gas rigs sitting at 614 fewer than this time last year as U.S. drillers scurry to keep their heads above water amid strict stay-at-home orders that caused oil demand to plummet at alarming rates—and oil prices along with it.

It is the fewest number of active rigs since Baker Hughes started to keep in 1940.

The EIA’s estimate for the week is that oil production in the United States fell to 11.9 million barrels of oil per day on average for week ending May 1, which is 1.2 million bpd off the all-time high and a substantial 300,000 bpd lower than the week prior. It is the fifth straight weekly production decline. It is the first sub-12 million bpd rate in the United States since February 2019.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: May 01, 2020, 07:18:40 PM »
Those who see an opportunity for renewable energy in the demise of oil need to think again. The manufacture of solar panels, wind turbines and electric cars depend on diesel all along the supply chain from extraction to distribution of finished products. A world in economic depression will default to the cheapest and most productive fuels. Oil will be cheap and abundant for a long time. There will be little money or appetite for the massive equipment changes that renewable sources require. Climate change will not be high in the consciousness of people struggling to survive.

Solar and wind have been cheaper than new fossil fuel plants for two years now.  Building new solar and wind plants is cheaper than operating existing coal, and increasingly, natural gas plants in most of the world since last year.

Stop posting denier talking points that have been repeatedly debunked.
You mentioned gas and coal. The article talks about oil, which has become preposterously cheap.

The article claims that people will use the lowest cost forms of energy.  For electricity, that's solar and wind.  Oil is used for transportation, which due to teleworking, fear of being trapped on a cruise ship or breathing in re-circulated viruses on an airplane, will decline even when the pandemic is over.

Please think about what you're posting before posting it.  Does in make sense?  If not, don't post it.  Otherwise, you're just spreading denier nonsense.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: May 01, 2020, 05:46:08 PM »
Shutting down producing oil wells often leads to problems when re-starting production.  This is a very long article that explains some of the problems and why many of the wells shut down during the Covid recession probably won't be restarted when the recession is over.

The Oil Wells That Will Never Recover
By David Messler - Apr 30, 2020

I get a lot of questions from readers of my articles, and students in my Reservoir Drill-In Fluids design classes about what happens with oil and gas wells that are shut-in. As discussed, there is a lot of this going on right now due to the oil glut we are experiencing. That answer is generally, that there are definite problems associated with doing this, but it’s not guaranteed they will occur in every instance. Sometimes you just get lucky. More often than not though, the sub-surface gremlins that reside in oil and gas reservoirs are going to get you. There is a reason that service companies earn billions of dollars annually pumping stuff down wells to fix perceived problems with production. So the question before us now is what are some of the mechanisms that cause problems restoring production to oil and gas wells after they have been shut-in?

Early onset of water production

First, water production is the death of oil production. Another oil production maxim is: as permeability to water increases, permeability to oil declines.

Here is a fairly common producing scenario. When you have an extended producing interval, not all sectors contribute equally to production. Over time this can lead to "water coning." This can be tolerated for a time, but eventually the shift toward higher water production will make the well uneconomic to produce. In the case of a shut-in scenario the water contact may encroach prematurely into rock that was producing oil. The graphic below illustrates this problem in horizontal wells. There isn't a lot you can do about this once it occurs. Prevention is the cure, and that is the science behind "Production or Reservoir Engineering."


With oil production you change the state of fluids-oil, condensate, and connate brines, that have rested in equilibrium with each other for millions of years. They were doing great, and then we oilies come along, and disturb the peace and quiet. This happens in a relative instant on the geologic time-scale. When incompatible substances are mixed, emulsions can be formed. The combination of oil/water/and oil of varying quality can form very thick, nasty emulsions in situ that will definitely restrict further production of oil from the reservoir. The picture below shows the effect of mixing various crudes with oilfield brines.

The larger point is not who causes the problems that create emulsion, but rather that they are a routine hurdle to efficiently producing wells. In the well shut-in scenario we are discussing there is potential for emulsions like those shown in the example above to be created in-situ, and they will impede production initially and perhaps as the result of remedial stimulation attempts that go wrong.

One final problem-fines

This one is actually related to the onset of water production. Most oil and gas reservoirs are water-wet. What this means is that the individual grains that makeup the rock oil of an oil reservoir are coated with a film of water. If that changes to where they are coated with oil we say we have changed the "wettability" of the rock. This is bad for oil production.

Fixing those problems to bring the wells online will be expensive, so it won't occur unless the price of oil increases.  The lasting effects of this pandemic will ensure that demand doesn't return to pre-pandemic levels. (How many people are going to want to fly or book a vacation cruise?  If you've been teleworking to social distance, do you want to hop back in your car for an hour long commute when the pandemic is over?)

So high cost wells won't be needed.  That means the Canadian tar-sands, US fracking fields, Brazilian pre-sal and African deep offshore fields are done.

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: April 22, 2020, 08:05:57 PM »
Sweden has gone coal free, two years earlier than planned.

Sweden exits coal two years early

The Nordic nation is now the third European country to have waved goodbye to coal for power generation. Another 11 European states have made plans to follow suit over the next decade.
April 22, 2020 Marian Willuhn

Sweden has joined Europe’s scramble to decommission coal. Power utility Stockholm Exergi has announced the permanent closure of coal-fired co-generation plant KVV6, in Hjorthagen, eastern Stockholm.

The Scandinavian country had planned to rid itself of coal by 2022 but appears to have decommissioned its facilities two years early.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: April 21, 2020, 11:43:12 PM »
^ on cue ...

Trump Directs Mnuchin, Energy Secretary to Create Plan to Support  Oil, Gas Industries as Sell-Off Deepens

President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to put together a plan to get funding to the struggling U.S. oil and gas industries

Trump's promise that he will "will never let the great U.S. Oil & Gas Industry down" came as West Texas Intermediate crude futures continued trading with a negative price, a day after falling below zero for the first time ever.

The president's tweet did not specify how much money would be made available, or which oil and gas companies would be eligible to receive it.

... Followed by an incomprehensible train of thought word salad of TRump's answers to reporters questions.

We can only hope that his plan to save the oil industry works as well as his plan to save the coal industry did.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: April 17, 2020, 07:02:08 PM »
Oil demand is dropping faster than the experts can revise their projections, and it's not expected to bounce back this year.

Oil Demand Won’t Bounce Back Anytime Soon
By Nick Cunningham - Apr 16, 2020

Oil demand is expected to be down by nearly 30 million barrels per day (mb/d) in April and down by almost 10 mb/d for the entire year, according to the latest estimates. But some forecasts still optimistically assume that demand bounces back in the second half of the year, a scenario that may not come to pass.

Since February, investment banks repeatedly revised down their numbers with each passing week. It took until April for the consensus to arrive at a temporary demand hit of 25 to 30 mb/d. However, many forecasts still assume the global economy rebounds after the second quarter in a “V-shaped” recovery.

But there are multiple reasons why the global economy may not return to anything close to “normal” even by the end of 2020.

One of the principle reasons should be an obvious one – the global pandemic is far from over. The rate of infections in Europe and in some parts of the U.S. has flattened, sparking calls to lift stay-at-home orders. But glimmers of hope may be misleading. “The problem is that most countries have an overall infection penetration below 5%. The moment the restrictions are relaxed the daily infection rates will spike back up again,” Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at SEB, said in a report.

“Thus, rather than moving from ‘deep-freeze lock-down’ in Q2 and then directly to ‘all-back-to-work’ in Q3 we are more likely going to move to ‘semi-lock-down’ as well as repeated start-stop, start-stop moves going forward as governments try to ease restrictions but then must pull back again as infection rates revives again,” Schieldrop warned.

The second reason why demand may not bounce back (and obviously related to the first) is that the global economy is in trouble. Just days ago President Trump said the economy would “boom” once the lockdown measures are lifted. 

But a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research says that U.S. GDP could contract by 11 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, year-on-year.

The International Monetary Fund warned that the world is facing the worst downturn since the Great Depression in the 1930s. “The magnitude and speed of collapse in activity that has followed is unlike anything experienced in our lifetimes,” Gita Gopinath, IMF chief economist, said this week.

Ultimately, economic activity may not rebound until a vaccine is readily available, or at least a robust system of testing that allows for a reopening of sections of the economy. As the New York Times notes, there is data showing a hit to regional economies in the U.S. that in some cases preceded lockdown orders, evidence that people stayed home and held back spending on their own, fearing the virus.

That means that simply lifting stay-at-home measures does not return the economy to “normal.” A lot of people will likely continue to stay home until they feel safe.

The politics / Re: Elections 2020 USA
« on: April 16, 2020, 10:55:45 PM »
Based on the results of the Wisconsin primary held on April 7th, Democrats are willing to risk thier lives to throw Trump out of office.

Republicans tried mightily to suppress the voter turnout in the Wisconsin primary election, using courts (including the US Supreme Court) to deny the Democrat Governor's requests to delay the elections to June due to the Covid crisis.  Their efforts failed as the Democrats won a key state Supreme Court race.

Needless to say, this is a very bad sign for Trump's re-election, as Wisconsin is a key battleground state.

April 13, 2020
In upset for Republicans, liberal ousts Trump-backed judge for Wisconsin Supreme Court seat
John Whitesides

(Reuters) - Liberal challenger Jill Karofsky won a hotly contested race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday, beating a conservative incumbent in state elections marred by court challenges and worries about health risks from the coronavirus pandemic.

The tumultuous process in Wisconsin, which featured an explosion in absentee balloting and long lines of voters braving health risks and stay-at-home orders, was seen as a potential preview of the national election in November if the pandemic lingers.

State Republicans had warned of possible fraud and administrative issues if the elections were delayed. But Democrats said Republicans primarily wanted to keep down turnout in the race, particularly in Democratic-dominated urban areas such as Milwaukee, where a lack of workers meant the closure of all but five of the city’s usual 180 polling places.

Karofsky more than doubled Kelly’s vote totals in Milwaukee, and outpaced recent Democratic performances in many swing and conservative counties in an encouraging sign for Democrats looking toward the Nov. 3 general election. Trump’s upset win in Wisconsin in 2016 helped propel him to the White House.

In Winnebago County in east-central Wisconsin, for example, Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton by 7 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election, but Karofsky won by more than 8 percentage points.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said in a Monday call with reporters the decision to hold in-person voting last week was “voter suppression on steroids,” forcing thousands to choose between casting a ballot or staying at home to avoid infection.

The linked paper from Science Magazine indicates that the subset of CMIP6 models with high climate sensitivities are not able to reproduce the temperature trends over the past few decades.  They tend to show higher temperatures over the recent warming period and thus are likely biased "hot" for future warming.  In contrast, models with lower climate sensitivities tend to reproduce the recent warming accurately.

Past warming trend constrains future warming  inCMIP6 models
Katarzyna B. Tokarska, Martin B. Stolpe, Sebastian Sippel, Erich M. Fischer,  Christopher J. Smith, Flavio Lehner, Reto Knutti

Future  global  warming  estimates  have  been  similar  across  past  assessments,  but  several  climate  models  of  the  latest Sixth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) simulate much stronger warming, apparently inconsistent with past assessments. Here, we show that projected future warming is correlated with the simulated warming trend during recent decades across CMIP5 and CMIP6 models, enabling us to constrain future warming based on consistency with the observed warming. These findings carry important policy-relevant implications: The observationally constrained CMIP6 median warming in high emissions and ambitious mitigation scenarios is over 16 and 14% lower by 2050 compared to the raw CMIP6 median, respectively, and over 14 and 8% lower by 2090, relative to 1995–2014. Observationally constrained CMIP6 warming is consistent with previous assessments based on CMIP5 models, and in an ambitious mitigation scenario, the likely range is consistent with reaching the Paris Agreement target.

DISCUSSIONOur results show that most models with high climate sensitivity (outside the AR5 likely range) or high transient response over-estimate recent warming trends, with differences that cannot be explained  by  internal  variability.  This  probably  leads  to  future  warming projections being biased high. Thus, the raw ensemble median and spread of future warming in CMIP6 (and therefore most other variables that scale to first order with global mean tem-perature) are not representative of a distribution constrained by observed trends, even if some of those models show a more realistic representation of processes in individual components than their CMIP5 predecessors (20–22). Conversely, CMIP6 models with climate sensitivity values that are within the IPCC AR5 likely range show warming trends much more consistent with the observations.

Despite the expectation that the constraint should be weaker in emission scenarios where non-CO2 forcings such as aerosol reduction have a substantial contribution to the future temperature evolution, the SSP1-2.6 warming is also highly correlated with warming during the past decades. Constrained warming in SSP1-2.6, with respect to the 1850–1900 baseline consistent with the Paris Agreement (35), by mid-century (years 2041–2060) is estimated at 1.36° to 1.86°C (likely range), and by the end of the century (years 2081–2100) is estimated at 1.33° to 1.99°C (likely range). Our results thus suggest that this ambitious mitigation scenario is consistent with meeting the Paris Agreement target based on the observationally constrained CMIP6 models, while the Paris Agreement target would be exceeded by several high ECS models.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: April 08, 2020, 12:46:21 AM »
Here's a good article explaining how the Covid-19 recession and the economic stimulus to combat it will result in an increased market share for renewables over gas and oil.

April 6, 2020
Renewable energy wins over oil and gas in post-coronavirus world: Russell
Clyde Russell

LAUNCESTON, Australia (Reuters) - Imagine waking up one morning with a deadly tiger snake in your bed. To make matters worse out of the window you notice an approaching bushfire.

Both are a threat to your life, but you are going to deal with the imminent danger of the snake first, and then tackle the more distant but still serious fire. It’s the same with the new coronavirus and climate change.

But this ignores the fact that at some point the world will contain the pandemic, and climate change will once again become a driving influence in the debate on the future of energy.

The coronavirus is also likely to change the market dynamics of the various types of energy, and mostly in favour of renewables such as wind, solar and hydropower.

The outbreak had already wrought radical change in two different ways. The first is that the oil and gas industry has been shaken to its core, while the second is that the cost of capital is at record lows, and there will be billions of dollars of stimulus spending looking for a home.

While it’s likely that both crude and LNG prices will recover in the coming months and years as demand growth resumes, it’s also likely that the trajectory will be lower.

Previous experience of price collapses shows it takes several years for a full recovery to eventuate, mainly as demand has to recover, or supply has to adjust lower in order to achieve a balanced market.

For crude and LNG what this means is that much of the investment that had been planned before the coronavirus struck will be delayed or even scrapped.

Up to $210 billion of planned oil and gas investments are now at risk from the coronavirus, consultants Wood Mackenzie said in an April 2 research note.

The biggest costs for utility scale wind, solar and battery storage projects are the upfront capital, given that once these projects are operating costs tend to be minimal.

With central banks flooding the system with cheap cash and governments likely to be keen to pursue stimulus projects once the coronavirus lockdowns are lifted, renewables should be able to capture an increasing share of this investment.

In Western countries, renewables are popular with the most of the populace, while fossil fuel plants such as coal and natural gas units have largely lost the public relations battle and are seen as part of the carbon emissions problem.

In developing nations such as India, Vietnam and others in Asia and Africa, renewables will likely be significantly cheaper and faster to build and connect to electricity grids than conventional fossil fuel power plants.

Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: April 06, 2020, 07:03:34 PM »
What could possibly go wrong?

Nuclear regulators ease some power reactor regs in response to COVID-19
March 31, 2020

In order to avoid "worker fatigue," the NRC has a number of rules about the maximum length of plant employee shifts, as well as requirements for breaks workers must take between long shifts. For example, shift may not exceed 16 hours in a 24-hour period, 26 hours in a 48-hour period and 72 hours in a 7-day period.

But in light of the "unprecedented time for our country" created by the COVID-19 pandemic and in order to ensure that the regulations "do not unduly limit licensee flexibility in using personnel resources to most effectively manage the impacts" of the pandemic, the NRC is allowing plants who believe they cannot meet the work hour limits to apply for a 60-day exemption, according to the letter.

But the cuts in workforce present do create "limitations," True said, that could, depending on the specific circumstances at an individual plant, "impact the ability to conduct or complete certain testing or inspection."

An example, discussed at a public meeting held by the NRC on Thursday, would be inspections of the tubes in the steam generator for cracks and other defects, which takes place during outages.

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