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Messages - Ken Feldman

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1
Antarctica / Re: Ice Apocalypse - MULTIPLE METERS SEA LEVEL RISE
« on: January 16, 2021, 12:30:50 AM »
According to DeConto and Pollard, ocean temperatures around Antarctic must warm by at least 2C to initiate the massive amounts of hydrofracturing that would enable Marine Ice Cliff Instability (MICI) to occur.  And the "wolfpack" of CMIP6 models that run hot need the southern ocean to run so hot that the clouds above it dry up for their extreme climate sensitivities to kick in.

So what is the Southern Ocean doing?  The linked reference seems to state that it's hotspots have cooled and that after undergoing accelerated warming during "the pause" in global temperature increases from 2003 - 2012 that the warming has slowed down since 2013.

https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2020GL090889?af=R

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Recent Shift in the Warming of the Southern Oceans Modulated by Decadal Climate Variability
Lina Wang, Kewei Lyu, Wei Zhuang, Weiwei Zhang, Salvienty Makarim, Xiao‐Hai Yan
28 December 2020
https://doi.org/10.1029/2020GL090889

Abstract

It has been reported that the Southern Hemisphere oceans experienced rapid warming during the decade‐long global surface warming slowdown (2003–2012) and the earlier period of the Argo record (2006–2013). In this study, we analyze updated observations to show that this rapid warming has slowed down, leading to less contribution of the Southern Hemisphere oceans to the global ocean heat storage (∼65% over the available Argo period 2006–2019). Two warming hotspot regions, the southeast Indian Ocean and South Pacific Ocean, have experienced cooling over 2013–2019. This decadal shift is related to variations in the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) and Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO). The isopycnal deepening (shoaling) forced by changing winds dominated the regional ocean temperature changes over the earlier warming (later cooling) period. Our finding demonstrates how decadal variability modulates long‐term climate change and provides important observational information for the ongoing calibration of decadal prediction systems.

2
Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: January 11, 2021, 07:40:39 PM »
At one point in the last decade, there were six planned coal export terminals on the US west coast.  None of them have been built.  Five of the six have already been cancelled.  The sixth one was cancelled last week.

https://www.ft.com/content/1e4890c9-8ef1-41f6-a057-a92f9ae5fcb1

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US coalminers’ Asia ‘pipe dream’ evaporates
Collapse of west coast port project deals blow to hopes of an export-driven recovery
Gregory Meyer 1/11/21


   Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of FT.com T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email licensing@ft.com to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found at https://www.ft.com/tour.
   https://www.ft.com/content/1e4890c9-8ef1-41f6-a057-a92f9ae5fcb1

   US coal miners’ last-ditch hope for shipping big volumes to Asia has crumbled as the developer of a sprawling export terminal abandons its project on the Pacific coast.

The Millennium Bulk Terminal would have loaded 44m metric tonnes a year of thermal coal for export to electric utilities — a potential boost for producers reeling from the decline of coal-fired power generation in the US.

But the project’s bankrupt owner on Saturday pulled the plug, making it the last of more than half a dozen proposed west coast coal ports never to be built. “It’s the end of the pipe dream that Asia can save the US coal industry,” said Clark Williams-Derry, analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a research group that favours clean energy.



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The Millennium project’s current owner, the mining company Lighthouse Resources, filed for bankruptcy protection in December. The company on Saturday relinquished the site to land owner Northwest Alloys, a subsidiary of the aluminium maker Alcoa. Alcoa said it would evaluate plans for the location, making no mention of coal.

3
This is the science article Rogelj is referring too:

Is there warming in the pipeline? A multi-model analysis of the Zero Emissions Commitment from CO2

https://bg.copernicus.org/articles/17/2987/2020/

Kassy,

Thanks for posting the link to the science study.  I apologize for not including it in my original post.

Here's the abstract and some supporting excerpts:

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MacDougall, A. H., Frölicher, T. L., Jones, C. D., Rogelj, J., Matthews, H. D., Zickfeld, K., Arora, V. K., Barrett, N. J., Brovkin, V., Burger, F. A., Eby, M., Eliseev, A. V., Hajima, T., Holden, P. B., Jeltsch-Thömmes, A., Koven, C., Mengis, N., Menviel, L., Michou, M., Mokhov, I. I., Oka, A., Schwinger, J., Séférian, R., Shaffer, G., Sokolov, A., Tachiiri, K., Tjiputra , J., Wiltshire, A., and Ziehn, T.: Is there warming in the pipeline? A multi-model analysis of the Zero Emissions Commitment from CO2, Biogeosciences, 17, 2987–3016, https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-17-2987-2020, 2020.

Abstract
Back to top

The Zero Emissions Commitment (ZEC) is the change in global mean temperature expected to occur following the cessation of net CO2 emissions and as such is a critical parameter for calculating the remaining carbon budget. The Zero Emissions Commitment Model Intercomparison Project (ZECMIP) was established to gain a better understanding of the potential magnitude and sign of ZEC, in addition to the processes that underlie this metric. A total of 18 Earth system models of both full and intermediate complexity participated in ZECMIP. All models conducted an experiment where atmospheric CO2 concentration increases exponentially until 1000 PgC has been emitted. Thereafter emissions are set to zero and models are configured to allow free evolution of atmospheric CO2 concentration. Many models conducted additional second-priority simulations with different cumulative emission totals and an alternative idealized emissions pathway with a gradual transition to zero emissions. The inter-model range of ZEC 50 years after emissions cease for the 1000 PgC experiment is −0.36 to 0.29 ∘C, with a model ensemble mean of −0.07 ∘C, median of −0.05 ∘C, and standard deviation of 0.19 ∘C. Models exhibit a wide variety of behaviours after emissions cease, with some models continuing to warm for decades to millennia and others cooling substantially. Analysis shows that both the carbon uptake by the ocean and the terrestrial biosphere are important for counteracting the warming effect from the reduction in ocean heat uptake in the decades after emissions cease. This warming effect is difficult to constrain due to high uncertainty in the efficacy of ocean heat uptake. Overall, the most likely value of ZEC on multi-decadal timescales is close to zero, consistent with previous model experiments and simple theory.

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The analysis here has shown that across models decadal-scale ZEC is poorly correlated to other metrics of climate warming, such as TCR and ECS, though relationships may exist within model frameworks (Fig. 12). However, the three factors that drive ZEC, ocean heat uptake, ocean carbon uptake, and net land carbon flux correlate relatively well to their states before emissions cease. Thus, it may be useful to conceptualize ZEC as a function of these three components each evolving in their own way in reaction to the cessation of emissions. Ocean heat uptake evolves due to changes in ocean dynamics (e.g. Frölicher et al., 2015) as well as the complex feedbacks that give rise to changes in ocean heat uptake efficacy (Winton et al., 2010). Ocean carbon uptake evolution is affected by ocean dynamics, changes to ocean biogeochemistry, and changes in atmosphere–ocean CO2 chemical disequilibrium, where the latter is also influenced by land carbon fluxes (e.g. Sarmiento and Gruber, 2006). The response of the land biosphere to cessation of emissions is expected to be complex with contributions from the response of photosynthesis to declining atmospheric CO2 concentration, a continuation of enhanced soil respiration (e.g. Jenkinson et al., 1991), and release of carbon from permafrost soils (Schuur et al., 2015), among other factors. Investigating the evolution of the three components in detail may be a valuable avenue of future analysis. Similarly, given their clearer relationships to the state of the Earth system before emissions cease, focusing on the three components independently may prove useful for building a framework to place emergent constraints on ZEC. Future work will explore evaluation opportunities by assessing relationships between these quantities in the idealized 1 % simulation and values at the end of the historical simulations up to present day.

Our analysis has suggested that the efficacy of ocean heat uptake is crucial for determining the temperature effect from ocean heat uptake following cessation of emissions. Efficacy itself is generated by spatial patterns in ocean heat uptake and shortwave cloud feedback processes (Rose et al., 2014; Andrews et al., 2015). Thus, evaluating how these processes and feedbacks evolve after emissions cease is crucial for better understanding ZEC. As the spatially resolved outputs for ZECMIP are now available (see Data availability at the end of the paper), evaluating such feedbacks presents a promising avenue for future research.

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Here we have analysed model output from the 18 models that participated in ZECMIP. We have found that the inter-model range of ZEC 50 years after emissions cease for the A1 (1 % to 1000 PgC) experiment is −0.36 to 0.29 ∘C, with a model ensemble mean of −0.07 ∘C, median of −0.05 ∘C, and standard deviation of 0.19 ∘C. Models show a range of temperature evolution after emissions cease from continued warming for centuries to substantial cooling. All models agree that, following cessation of CO2 emissions, the atmospheric CO2 concentration will decline. Comparison between experiments with a sudden cessation of emissions and a gradual reduction in emissions show that long-term temperature change is independent of the pathway of emissions. However, in experiments with a gradual reduction in emissions, a mixture of TCRE and ZEC effects occur as the rate of emissions declines. As the rate of emission reduction in these idealized experiments is similar to that in stringent mitigation scenarios, a similar pattern may emerge if deep emission cuts commence.

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Overall, the most likely value of ZEC on decadal timescales is assessed to be close to zero, consistent with prior work. However, substantial continued warming for decades or centuries following cessation of emissions is a feature of a minority of the assessed models and thus cannot be ruled out purely on the basis of models.

4
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: January 05, 2021, 08:40:10 PM »
The UK geothermal industry is getting underway.

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/05/uk-geothermal-sector-gets-boost-with-deal-to-power-thousands-of-homes.html

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UK’s geothermal sector gets a boost with deal to power thousands of homes
Published Tue, Jan 5 2021

Energy firm Ecotricity has signed a ten-year deal for electricity which will be produced by a British geothermal power plant, representing another step forward for the country’s fledgling industry.

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According to an announcement from GEL, electricity from the facility will be sent to Ecotricity customers via the National Grid. Power production is expected to commence in the spring of 2022. 

Both companies claim it will be the first time geothermal electricity has been generated and sold in the U.K. It’s hoped thousands of homes will be powered through the deal.

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While the U.K.’s geothermal sector is nascent it is more developed elsewhere. Iceland’s National Energy Authority says geothermal power facilities produce 25% of the country’s total electricity production.

According to preliminary data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, geothermal power plants across seven states – California, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Hawaii, Idaho and New Mexico – generated around 16 billion kilowatt-hours in 2019. This, it adds, was “equal to 0.4% of total U.S. utility-scale electricity generation.”

5
Antarctica / Re: Ice Apocalypse - MULTIPLE METERS SEA LEVEL RISE
« on: December 23, 2020, 06:53:47 PM »

It has been a while since I said that I would create an updatable overview of my opinion of how an 'Ice Apocalypse' could unfold in something like the next hundred years, so I decided to make this post to:

a) Motivate myself to assemble such an overview and

b) To note that I currently propose to subdivide this updatable overview into three threads:

   i) A Maximum Credible Domino Scenario (MCDS) thread underpinned by Hansen et al. (2016) and their 5-year doubling freshwater hosing scenario (see the first two images); and by the early MICI work by DeConto, Pollard and Alley (2015-2018) and by output from the CMIP6 'Wolf Pack' model projections (see the third image).  These MCDS scenarios would be based on roughly 10-year intervals (from 2020 to 2150) of Bayesian Networks (see the fourth image for the period from 2030 to 2040) using Domino Effect Analysis (see the first linked reference).

   ii) A Domino Fault Tree analysis (see the second linked reference and open source Fault Three analysis software from the GitHub link) thread to try to substantiate the 'credible' probability of such Domino Bayesian Networks of freshwater hosing events and their associated rough-order probabilities.

   iii) A list of references used to support a 5-year doubling MCDS scenario, and/or other members of a family of such scenarios (in the tradition of the IPCC's radiative forcing scenario families such as: RCP or SSP).

Are you going to estimate the probabilities for your scenarios?  For risk analysis models using Bayesian approaches, that's a critical first step.

In you MCDS scenario, you start with a very, very, low probability event, MICI.  According to DeConto and Pollard, for MICI to start, hydrofracturing, which requires water ponding on the ice shelves, must occur.  And hydrofracturing to the extent required doesn't start until the ocean temperatures around Antarctica increase by 2 degrees C.  They needed to artificially increase the ocean temperatures in their models instantaneously by 2 C just to get MICI starting in the 2070s.  So MICI would appear to be very less likely than 1% to start before the end of the century.

What about events that appear to be mutually exclusive?  For "the wolfpack" climate scenarios to be correct, the clouds over the southern ocean need to warm, change from ice to water and eventually disappate to get the extreme climate sensitivities they predict.  However, for Hansen's fresh water feedback to occur, precipitation needs to increase over the southern ocean, freshening it.  This would seem to imply more clouds to cause more precipitation.  Which is more likely and how do those two seemingly contradictory scenarios interact?


6
The politics / Re: Midterm American elections 2022
« on: December 23, 2020, 06:24:52 PM »
A google seach leads to a Wikipedia article that answers your question.  Try it and post your answer.

7
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: December 22, 2020, 08:46:45 PM »
The stimulus bill passed by the US Congress yesterday includes many provisions to spur the investment in renewables and other green energy technologies.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2020/12/21/congress-climate-spending/

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Stimulus deal includes raft of provisions to fight climate change
The most substantial federal investment in green technology in a decade includes billions for solar, wind, battery storage and carbon capture. Congress also agreed to cut the use of HFCs, chemicals used in refrigeration that are driving global warming.
By Sarah Kaplan and Dino Grandoni
Dec. 21, 2020

In one of the biggest victories for U.S. climate action in a decade, Congress has moved to phase out a class of potent planet-warming chemicals and provide billions of dollars for renewable energy and efforts to suck carbon from the atmosphere as part of the $900 billion coronavirus relief package.

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It will cut the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), chemicals used in air conditioners and refrigerators that are hundreds of times worse for the climate than carbon dioxide. It authorizes a sweeping set of new renewable energy measures, including tax credit extensions and new research and development programs for solar, wind and energy storage; funding for energy efficiency projects; upgrades to the electric grid and a new commitment to research on removing carbon from the atmosphere. And it reauthorizes an Environmental Protection Agency program to curb emissions from diesel engines.

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The HFC measure, which empowers the EPA to cut the production and use of HFCs by 85 percent over the next 15 years, is expected to save as much as half a degree Celsius of warming by the end of the century. Scientists say the world needs to constrain the increase in the average global temperature to less than 2 degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial times to avoid catastrophic, irreversible damage to the planet. Some places around the globe are already experiencing an average temperature rise beyond that threshold.

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Included in the energy package are roughly $4 billion for solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal research and development; $1.7 billion to help low-income families install renewable energy sources in their homes; $2.6 billion for the Energy Department’s sustainable transportation program; and $500 million for research on reducing industrial emissions.

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In a boon for renewable energy companies, Congress extended tax credits for wind and solar and introduced a new credit for offshore wind projects, which Heather Zichal, chief executive of the American Clean Power Association, called “America’s largest untapped clean energy source.” One Department of Energy analysis suggested that developing just 4 percent of the total U.S. offshore wind capacity could power some 25 million homes and reduce the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions by almost 2 percent.

8
Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: December 14, 2020, 09:21:42 PM »
If Governments stick to their policies to rebuild from the Covid recession with low carbon electricity, future liquified natural gas (LNG) demand will plunge by 77% from current projections.

https://oilprice.com/Energy/Natural-Gas/Bombshell-Report-Pours-Cold-Water-On-Global-LNG-Outlook.html

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Bombshell Report Pours Cold Water On Global LNG Outlook
By Irina Slav - Dec 13, 2020

When the European Union tied its pandemic relief plan to renewable energy generation and emissions reduction targets, analysts sounded an alarm for LNG as the production of the superchilled fuel involves a certain amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Now, Wood Mackenzie is warning that global energy transition goals could threaten more than two-thirds of the world’s supply of liquefied natural gas, leaving trillions of cubic meters of gas in resources stranded.

This forecast is a stark departure from pretty much all gas demand projections, including from energy industry majors such as BP, which invariably see this demand growing as gas replaces oil as a less polluting fossil fuel, especially in developing economies.

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A decline of 77 percent for projected LNG demand is quite a downward revision that will only add to the woes of an industry that has seen a supply boom, which led to a glut and a price depression that made some projects economically unviable. If indeed renewable energy ambitions take the upper hand in the coming couple of decades, the projected flourishing of the LNG industry as the world moves away from oil might never materialize.


9
Antarctica / Re: Ice Apocalypse - MULTIPLE METERS SEA LEVEL RISE
« on: December 09, 2020, 01:50:50 AM »

As it is likely that the final GMSTA for 2020 will be almost the same as that for 2016; and as the 2020-2021 ENSO season is very likely to be an official La Nina season; I have updated the first attached image of Hansen's La Nina trend vs GMSTA; with my purple lines indicating that the rate of increase of GMSTA is accelerating rapidly as compare to earlier trend lines.  This means that we are collectively more likely to pass the U.N.'s 2C limit sooner than consensus climate scientists have previously acknowledged.

In this regard, we are currently still essentially on the SSP 8.5 forcing pathway, and if the high-end (Wolf Pack) CMIP6 GMSTA projections are correct (see the second [by Hausfather 2020] and third [particularly the heavy black curve for UKESM1-0-LL] images) then we will likely pass the 2C limit around 2034; which per DeConto and Pollard would significantly increase the risk of an MICI-type of collapse of the Thwaites Glacier after 2034 (due to the increase risk of hydrofracturing).

Edit: Note that by extending my last purple La Nina vs GMSTA trendline (for from 2018 to 2020), this also indicates that GMSTA will reach 2C circa 2034 to 2035.



In 2020 RCP 2.5 forecasts a CO2 concentration of 412.1 ppm while RCP 8.5 forecasts 415.8 ppm.  The global average concentration in 2019 was 409.85.  With an estimated growth rate of 2.5 ppm, the 2020 concentration would be 412.35, much closer to RCP 2.6 then 8.5.

And the energy transition has made RCP 8.5 extremely unlikely. Coal consumption peaked in 2013 and in 2019 more coal fired power plant capacity was retired globally than was started.  Yet RCP 8.5 projects huge increases in coal use for eight more decades.



And SSP 8.5 is even worse in its projections on energy use than RCP 8.5:

https://www.carbonbrief.org/explainer-the-high-emissions-rcp8-5-global-warming-scenario



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With global coal use having declined slightly since its peak in 2014, it is hard to envision a world where coal expands this dramatically in the future even in the absence of new climate policies. This is particularly true given the falling prices of alternative energy technologies in recent years. A forthcoming “expert elicitation” – where energy experts were asked to assess the likelihood of various outcomes – gives RCP8.5 only a 5% chance of occurring among all the possible no-policy baseline scenarios.

The reality is that renewables are taking over from fossil fuels at a pace that hadn't been expected in 2007 when the RCP scenarios were created.  Since renewables are much more efficient than fossil fuels (around 1/3 of the energy from fossil fuels goes up the smokestack as waste heat), they lead to a huge decrease in primary energy needed.

The IEA's World Energy Outlook 2020 has more realistic scenarios, even though the IEA is known for underestimating the growth of renewables.

https://energycentral.com/c/ec/world-energy-outlook-weo-2020-glance

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In its annual WEO, the IEA models the long-term developments on the global commodity and energy markets up to 2070. This year’s WEO focuses on the next decade. In particular, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the energy sector are examined in more detail. Particularly in this year, the WEO 2020 contains four scenarios.
WEO 2020 outlines four scenarios

Their respective characteristics are briefly summarised below:

    COVID-19 will be brought under control next year in the “Stated Policies Scenario” (STEPS) and the world economy will reach pre-crisis levels.
    In contrast, the “Delayed Recovery Scenario" (DRS) assumes that the pandemic will not have any impact only after 2023. This would make this the decade with the lowest growth rate in energy demand since the 1930s.
    Thirdly, the focus in the “Sustainable Development Scenario” (SDS) is on compliance with the Paris Agreement by 2050.
    Last but not least, the new “Net Zero Emissions by 2050 case” (NZE2050) even surpasses the SDS and describes which changes are necessary in the next 10 years to reach the target of net zero emissions by 2050.

Figure 1 shows the course of CO2-emissions from energy use and industry and different reduction levers for three scenarios until 2030.



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Renewable energies cover majority of additional energy consumption

In all four scenarios of the WEO 2020, coal demand falls continuously, but only in the SDS and NZE2050 coal-fired power generation falls significantly. This is also shown in Figure 3. Especially in Europe and the US, coal demand is projected to fall sharply.




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Figure 4: Global primary energy demand by fuel, millions of tonnes of oil equivalent, between 1990 and 2040. Future demand is based on the STEPS (solid lines) and SDS (dashed). Other renewables includes solar, wind, geothermal and marine. (source: CarbonBrief)


10
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: December 07, 2020, 10:33:31 PM »
Most of the fossil fuel power plants in the US are so old that only 15% of them would have to be retired early to fully decarbonize the US power grid by 2035.

https://www.mining.com/decarbonizing-electricity-production-in-the-us-by-2035-less-costly-than-expected/

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Decarbonizing electricity production in the US by 2035 less costly than expected
MINING.COM Staff Writer | December 7, 2020

Meeting the 2035 deadline for decarbonizing electricity production in the United States – as proposed by the incoming Biden administration – would eliminate just 15% of the capacity-years left in plants powered by fossil fuels.

This, according to a generator-level model published in the journal Science which suggests that most fossil fuel power plants could complete normal lifespans and still close by 2035 because so many facilities are nearing the end of their operational lives.
Sign Up for the Energy Digest

The article states that plant retirements are already underway, with 126 gigawatts of fossil generator capacity taken out of production between 2009 and 2018, including 33 gigawatts in 2017 and 2018 alone.


11
Antarctica / Re: Ice Apocalypse - MULTIPLE METERS SEA LEVEL RISE
« on: December 04, 2020, 11:23:35 PM »
...
Ice clouds provide a negative feedback until the ice is completely gone.  That occurs after a temperature increase of 3 to 4 C.  That's when the sensitivity would increase.

The linked reference indicates that as the ice cloud fraction decreases the negative cloud feedback weakens and a less negative cloud feedback means a higher climate sensitivity well before all of the ice in the clouds is completely gone.

Jiang Zhu and Christopher J. Poulsen (02 September 2020), "On the increase of climate sensitivity and cloud feedback with warming in the Community Atmosphere Models", Geophysical Research Letters, https://doi.org/10.1029/2020GL089143

https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2020GL089143


That paper is behind a paywall.  Can you link to an open access version of the full paper?

12
Antarctica / Re: Ice Apocalypse - MULTIPLE METERS SEA LEVEL RISE
« on: December 03, 2020, 08:13:51 PM »
While I have previously posted links to the research cited in the linked article about how declining ice content in clouds makes relatively high climate sensitivities likely; I think that it is good to remember that most existing consensus climate models (including both in CMIP5 and CMIP6) are known to contain more ice content in their modelled clouds than what is observed in reality; which means that they incorrectly simulate too much negative cloud feedback with continued global warming.

Title: "How declining ice in clouds makes high ‘climate sensitivity’ plausible"

https://skepticalscience.com/declining-ice-clouds-high-sensitivity-plausible.html

Extract: "Even though CESM2 is only one example of models with high ECS, the mechanism described above must operate both in reality and in other global climate models. However, the importance of the effect depends on the model itself, how much ice it simulates in the mixed-phase clouds in the first place, and how quickly the Southern Ocean warms relative to the global average. As mentioned above, CESM2 correctly simulates a relatively low fraction of cloud ice in the mixed-phased clouds of the Southern Ocean. However, it is well known that most climate models simulate too much cloud ice compared to satellite observations and, therefore, would retain their negative cloud phase feedback longer than CESM2 does.

As for whether climate sensitivities above 5C are plausible, a complete answer to that question requires further testing of these models – for example, with respect to how well they reproduce past climate states both hotter and colder than the present. However, we have demonstrated that having the right cloud phase starting point for such simulations is critical – so far, a majority of climate models have not.

So, to answer the question of what happens if no ice is left and the clouds are already all liquid: It would mean that the climate system loses a natural cooling response. At that point it would enter a high-sensitivity state, which would make it even harder to slow the pace of global warming.

Bjordal, J. et al. (2020) Equilibrium climate sensitivity above 5C plausible due to state-dependent cloud feedback, Nature Geoscience, doi:10.1038/s41561-020-00649-1y"

You left out a key quote from that article:

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So why does this happen? As the temperature increases, more and more of the ice crystals in the mixed-phase clouds over the Southern Ocean become liquid, until virtually no ice is left in the clouds. (In CESM2, this occurs when the global mean surface air temperature increase reaches 3-4C, but it is highly model dependent.) Without any ice left, the negative cloud phase feedback gets exhausted.

With the recent installations of renewable power plants and new stated climate policies from China, Japan, South Korea and a new policy from the US due in January 2021, global warming is expected to be limited to 2.1 C.  And with the energy transition occurring more rapidly than experts are predicting, 1.5 C is within reach.

https://www.rte.ie/news/environment/2020/1201/1181673-environment-climate-change/

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Climate action pledges could curb global warming to 2.1C - analysis
Updated / Tuesday, 1 Dec 2020

Action to tackle climate emissions announced by countries in recent months could help limit global warming to 2.1C, analysis suggests.

A new assessment by Climate Action Tracker (CAT) found that if governments meet all their commitments to cut greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050 it could limit temperature rises to 2.1C above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

It puts the global climate goal in the Paris Agreement - to limit temperature rises to 1.5C - "within striking distance", the experts behind the analysis said.

And emissions aren't growing as fast as the IPCC projected.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201130131404.htm

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Emissions growth slower than worst-case projections

Date: November 30, 2020
Source: University of Colorado at Boulder
Summary: New research reveals that emissions are not growing as fast as the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's assessments have indicated -- and that the IPCC is not using the most up-to-date climate scenarios in its planning and policy recommendations.

Quote
The new study, published today in Environmental Research Letters, is the most rigorous evaluation of how projected climate scenarios established by the IPCC have evolved since they were established in 2005.

The good news: Emissions are not growing nearly as fast as IPCC assessments have indicated, according to the study's authors. The bad news: The IPCC is not using the most accurate and up-to-date climate scenarios in its planning and policy recommendations.


13
Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: December 03, 2020, 06:15:09 PM »
^^^
Much like Trump's efforts to save coal, this action is symbolic in nature, and won't actually do anything. 

You left out a key quote from that article:

Quote
The sale, which is now set for Jan. 6, could cap a bitter, decades-long battle over whether to drill in the coastal plain, and it seals the administration's efforts to open the land to development. But the Trump administration's plan for the sale may also draw legal challenges from drilling opponents, who could target the aggressive timeline in court.

It won't be a problem to get a stay of the sales until past noon of January 20, 2021.  Ignoring statutory requirements for public comment periods is a loser in court.  After January 20, 2021, President Biden's executive order halting new leases for oil and gas drilling on Federal lands will go into effect.

Also, keep in mind that there's a law that allows Congress to review and overturn any rules issued by the Executive branch within the last six months of the Administration.  Republicans used it extensively in early 2017, so expect the Democrats to return the favor in 2021. 

Biden's administration is already drafting the Executive Orders that will be issued when he takes office and I'm sure that Congress has a list of recently issued rules that they'll overturn.

14
Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: December 02, 2020, 06:17:50 PM »
The air travel industry is projecting that there will be 1 billion more passengers in 2021 then they project for 2020.  However, that would still be 1.7 billion fewer passengers than flew in 2019.  That's very bad news for the oil industry.

https://oilprice.com/Energy/Oil-Prices/Why-An-Air-Travel-Recovery-Wont-Spark-An-Oil-Rally.html

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Why An Air Travel Recovery Won’t Spark An Oil Rally
By Julianne Geiger - Dec 01, 2020

Oil demand isn’t going to see a bump from air travel demand anytime soon, or so the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in a recent press release.

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According to the IATA, 2.8 billion passengers are expected to travel in 2021. That’s 1 billion more passengers than it expects will travel in 2020.

But that’s the extent of the good news as pertains to oil demand, which has seen considerable drop off this year as a result of all the pandemic-related lockdowns and travel restrictions imposed on the world.

The bad news is, those 2.8 billion passengers expected to fly next year is still 1.7 billion fewer than in 2019. Percentage-wise, that’s still an ugly drop off.



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The IATA summed up their bleak forecasts with this:

“Passenger volumes are not expected to return to 2019 levels until 2024 at the earliest, with domestic markets recovering faster than international services.”

The extra-bleak “at the earliest” qualifier should have the oil industry—and OPEC specifically—shaking in their boots. And they are.

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And when we talk about demand destruction of crude oil, a huge chunk of it is consumed in the transportation sector. Global jet fuel demand accounts for 8% of the world’s total oil consumption. This means that when the forecast calls for a 50 percent reduction in RPK, we should expect a 4 percent drop in crude oil demand. And this is for next year, not for 2020. And for years, the IATA is expecting air travel to be diminished.

15
Antarctica / Re: Ice Apocalypse - MULTIPLE METERS SEA LEVEL RISE
« on: November 30, 2020, 08:27:17 PM »
A newly published study (November 27, 2020) finds that the Atlantic Meridonal Overturning Circulation (AMOC) has been more stable than models projected.  It turns out consensus scientists may be overestimating the future impact of warming on the AMOC.  One can only hope that the CMIP 7 models get it right.

https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/48/eabc7836

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Abstract

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is crucially important to global climate. Model simulations suggest that the AMOC may have been weakening over decades. However, existing array-based AMOC observations are not long enough to capture multidecadal changes. Here, we use repeated hydrographic sections in the subtropical and subpolar North Atlantic, combined with an inverse model constrained using satellite altimetry, to jointly analyze AMOC and hydrographic changes over the past three decades. We show that the AMOC state in the past decade is not distinctly different from that in the 1990s in the North Atlantic, with a remarkably stable partition of the subpolar overturning occurring prominently in the eastern basins rather than in the Labrador Sea. In contrast, profound hydrographic and oxygen changes, particularly in the subpolar North Atlantic, are observed over the same period, suggesting a much higher decoupling between the AMOC and ocean interior property fields than previously thought.

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Observations from the subtropical RAPID array (Rapid Climate Change-Meridional Overturning Circulation and Heatflux Array–Western Boundary Time Series) suggest a weakening AMOC between 2004 and 2012 (14), but a subsequent recovery until September 2018 has left no significant declining trend of the AMOC (15). In the SPNA, the OSNAP (Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program) record is still too short for identifying long-term changes (16). In the South Atlantic, there have also been efforts to estimate the AMOC using array observations, for instance, at 34.5°S (17). Despite the fact that these array observations have revolutionized our view on the AMOC, the relatively short records, especially in the SPNA, limit our understanding of the AMOC in previous decades.

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DISCUSSION

Despite profound upper-layer water property changes in the SPNA, our results demonstrate a comparatively stable overturning in the region during the past three decades. This circulation pattern is consistent with the weak variability in the North Atlantic Current (NAC) on decadal time scales (fig. S11) that is the primary upper-limb source of the subpolar overturning, and with a stable overflow transport in the AMOC lower limb during the last decades (23, 38). Surface buoyancy fluxes induce large variations in water mass transformation in the subpolar basins (39). However, previous studies have shown that the deep waters recirculate in the subpolar basins subsequent to their formation for up to decades before exporting to the subtropics (and thus affecting the AMOC), mainly due to the existence of the interior pathways (13, 40). This is consistent with the water mass transformation analysis (39), which shows variations of about 2 Sv in the subpolar AMOC on decadal time scales in response to the surface buoyancy forcing at high latitudes. In addition, there exists a density-compensating effect between temperature and salinity changes in the subpolar basins, which is most prominent in the Labrador Sea (27, 37) and, to a lesser extent, in the eastern subpolar gyre (41). Those characteristics of the SPNA all disfavor a marked shift of the AMOC state (42). Last, our results support the subpolar AMOC’s weak response to the Labrador Sea changes, as suggested by recent OSNAP observations (16). During the years of strong deep convection in the Labrador Sea and Irminger Sea (i.e., the early 1990s and 2014–2015) (19, 20), the AMOC in the western and eastern SPNA was not stronger compared to periods of weak convection.

16
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: November 30, 2020, 08:18:35 PM »
Wind and solar made up 45.9% of new electrical capacity additions to the US Grid from January through September 2019.

They made up 63.6% of new large electrical capacity additions in the same period in 2020 (70% when rooftop solar included).

They are projected to be 75% of new capacity additions from October 2020 through September 2023.

https://cleantechnica.com/2020/11/30/renewables-70-of-new-us-power-capacity-in-2020-solar-43/

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Renewables = 70% of New US Power Capacity in 2020, Solar = 43%

November 30th, 2020

The renewable energy revolution continues, with renewable energy accounting for a greater and greater share of new US power capacity year after year.



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Whereas wind and utility-scale solar power accounted for 63.6% of new large-scale power plants in 2020, they accounted for 45.9% in the first three quarters of 2019.


17
Policy and solutions / Re: Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)
« on: November 25, 2020, 06:57:51 PM »
Carbon sequestration investments may be included in a new US stimulus plan early next year.

https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/11/09/1011859/biden-calls-for-major-investments-into-carbon-removal-tech/

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Biden calls for major investments into carbon removal tech

The president-elect’s transition plan also recommends research and development funding for batteries, renewable hydrogen and advanced nuclear.

James Temple
November 9, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden wasted little time setting a new tone on climate change.

On Sunday, one day after major outlets called the presidential election for the former vice president, the Biden-Harris transition team released documents laying out the incoming administration’s early priorities, including a blueprint for “tackling the climate crisis.”

Most of the details were drawn directly from Biden’s sweeping campaign climate plan, which would dedicate $1.7 trillion to overhaul energy, transportation, agriculture, and other sectors. But the list of areas in which Biden hopes to make “far-reaching investments” includes at least one new term: negative-emissions technologies.That phrase encompasses a number of approaches for drawing greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. These can include carbon-sucking machines that companies like Climeworks and Carbon Engineering are developing; methods to speed up natural processes through which minerals capture and lock away carbon; and schemes that rely on plants to absorb carbon dioxide, then convert them into fuel sources and capture any resulting emissions (a process known as “bioenergy with carbon capture and sequestration”).

Scientists say that removing billions of tons of carbon dioxide per year by midcentury will be essential for preventing very dangerous levels of global warming.

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Policy observers believe that there could be opportunities to incorporate significant research and development funding for clean energy in upcoming economic stimulus packages, noting that such measures have bipartisan support. Indeed, Congress largely beat back the Trump administration’s repeated efforts to slash federal investments in these areas during the last four years.

18
Policy and solutions / Re: Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)
« on: November 25, 2020, 06:50:02 PM »
As companies seek to reach net zero or even sequester all of their historic emissions, "carbontech" firms are becoming economically viable.

https://www.greenbiz.com/article/carbontech-getting-ready-its-market-moment

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Carbontech is getting ready for its market moment

By Heather Clancy
October 28, 2020

It may be a little early to start writing about trends for 2021, but I’m going to do it anyway. What’s on my mind? Carbontech, a category of climate tech I’d love to see break through next year. It's the exciting idea that we can take something that could be considered waste, draw it out of the atmosphere and turn it into a source of revenue or economic growth.

There are signs that give me optimism. This morning, digital payments company Stripe announced a plan to let its merchant customers divert a portion of their revenue to carbon removal projects. The move follows Stripe’s own pledge to put $1 million into four "high potential" projects earlier this year, and the two initiatives are related. The specific technologies that Stripe is funding are carbon-sequestering concrete (CarbonCure), geologic storage (Charm Industrial), direct air capture (Climeworks) and ocean mineralization (Project Vesta).

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Lest I forget, another well-known commerce player, Shopify, last month picked carbon removal and carbontech as a focus for its Sustainability Fund, which commits $5 million annually to climate-tech solutions. Some companies it is supporting are the same as Stripe (CarbonCure, Charm Industrial and Climeworks). It is also including ocean sequestration in the mix through its support of Planetary Hydrogen. And it is also letting merchants add options for offsetting that buyers can select during transactions.

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How ginormous could the carbontech market get? According to nonprofit Carbon180, the total addressable market for products that could be affected is $6 trillion — with the biggest opportunities for using "waste CO2" found in transportation fuels and building materials. Captured carbon also could be a resource for food, fertilizers, polymers and chemicals. (Before you ask, very few innovators that CCN is tracking are focused on enhanced oil recovery applications.)

19
Stripe, an online payment processing company, is investing $1 million in carbon removal projects to remove all of the carbon it has emitted from the atmosphere.  Project Vesta will receive a quarter of the funds.

https://amp.theatlantic.com/amp/article/617201/

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The Weekly Planet: A Start-Up’s Unusual Plan to Suck Carbon Out of the Sky

An online-payments company may fund more carbon removal than anyone else.
Robinson Meyer
November 24, 2020

Stripe is one of those technology companies that controls the internet’s plumbing. It makes payments-processing software that hustles money from your debit or credit card to someone else’s bank account. If you’ve ever purchased groceries on Instacart or supported a project on Kickstarter, you’ve used Stripe, even if you didn’t know it.

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Lately Stripe has been helping to build a different kind of plumbing—physical pipes running from the open air to deep underground. In the past year, Stripe has become one of the world’s largest purchasers of carbon-removal credits, devoting $1 million to extracting carbon from the sky. Last month, it began allowing its customers—the businesses that use its payment software—to buy carbon removal as well.

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Until last year, Stripe followed the standard playbook for a climate-concerned Bay Area start-up. It powered its operations with renewable energy, and it sometimes paid to plant trees, but it did not study carbon removal, much less purchase it. But then the company’s executives became intrigued by the idea of zeroing out Stripe’s historic carbon pollution—of removing all the carbon that it had emitted since its establishment, in 2010. They were willing to spend up to $1 million on the project.

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Today, Stripe buys removal from four companies: Climeworks, which captures carbon directly from the air and injects it into underground basalt; CarbonCure, which injects carbon into concrete; Project Vesta, which uses a common mineral to convert carbon in the ocean into limestone on the seafloor; and Charm Industrial, which produces an oil from biomass and then injects it deep into the earth.

The company picked these four relatively small companies based in part on their potential to become much larger operations. “As we scale up, we hope to find significantly more,” Orbuch said. The company’s ultimate goal here is to bring the cost of carbon removal down the “learning curve”—which means, in essence, making it cheaper. By buying from these companies now, at a relatively high price point, Stripe is aiming to let everyone pay less later.

20
Antarctica / Re: Ice Apocalypse - MULTIPLE METERS SEA LEVEL RISE
« on: November 24, 2020, 06:20:25 PM »
It says Model year (kyr).
Doesn't that mean millennia?

Yes, but as paolo points out it also says LIG simulation with very low radiative forcing.

Edit: To add some clarity to the second panel of the image that paolo posted, it assumes that in order to obtain a bare ice cliff face their model assumes that the regional air temperature must have warmed sufficiently for hydrofracturing to occur to remove the associated ice shelves that were previously buttressing the ice cliff face.  First, this is a very conservative assumption as the ice shelves in the Amundsen Sea Embayment are currently rapidly degrading without any hydrofracturing and second, their model assumes CMIP5 values for climate sensitivity which are much lower than the wolfpack values from CMIP6.  This explains why the second panel in the image that paolo posted assumes that it will take many decades from now before MICI-type mechanisms occur.  However, the attached image shows that ice cliff rates of retreat follow the power law and can reach rates of well over 100 km per year for freeboard and relative water depth conditions associated with the Thwaites Glacier.

AbruptSLR,

DeConto, Pollard and Alley 2015 explicitly states that hydrofracturing by surface water is required to initiate MICI.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012821X14007961

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Potential Antarctic Ice Sheet retreat driven by hydrofracturing and ice cliff failure
DavidPollard, Robert M.DeConto, Richard B.Alley

Abstract

Geological data indicate that global mean sea level has fluctuated on 103 to 106 yr time scales during the last ∼25 million years, at times reaching 20 m or more above modern. If correct, this implies substantial variations in the size of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS). However, most climate and ice sheet models have not been able to simulate significant EAIS retreat from continental size, given that atmospheric CO2 levels were relatively low throughout this period. Here, we use a continental ice sheet model to show that mechanisms based on recent observations and analysis have the potential to resolve this model–data conflict. In response to atmospheric and ocean temperatures typical of past warm periods, floating ice shelves may be drastically reduced or removed completely by increased oceanic melting, and by hydrofracturing due to surface melt draining into crevasses. Ice at deep grounding lines may be weakened by hydrofracturing and reduced buttressing, and may fail structurally if stresses exceed the ice yield strength, producing rapid retreat. Incorporating these mechanisms in our ice-sheet model accelerates the expected collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to decadal time scales, and also causes retreat into major East Antarctic subglacial basins, producing ∼17 m global sea-level rise within a few thousand years. The mechanisms are highly parameterized and should be tested by further process studies. But if accurate, they offer one explanation for past sea-level high stands, and suggest that Antarctica may be more vulnerable to warm climates than in most previous studies.

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To trigger cliff failure, floating ice must first be removed, either entirely or at least enough to greatly reduce back pressure at the grounding line. Even very rapid melting from oceanic heat is often slower than ice-stream velocities, and is usually insufficient on its own to sufficiently reduce the major ice shelves in our model. We apply an additional mechanism accounting for increased ice-shelf calving due to hydrofracture by surface melt and rainfall draining into crevasses (Nick et al., 2013). Surface melting has been strongly implicated in the recent breakup of the Larsen B ice shelf (Scambos et al., 2003). In our warm-climate scenarios, surface melting increases calving considerably around the Antarctic margins. Our treatment of calving including hydrofracturing is described in Appendix B.

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Today, cliff failure in Antarctica is prevented by (1) grounding lines at basin sills not being deep enough (<~800m), (2) insufficient surface melt to cause hydrofracturing and weakening at the grounding line, and/or (3) buttressing at the grounding lines by major ice shelves. In our warm-climate simulations, a combination of increased sub-ice ocean melt (reducing buttressing) and hydrofracturing (reducing buttressing and weakening grounding-line columns) leads to cliff failure in the major basins (Fig. 2). For deep basins, this sequence proceeds catastrophically, until either (i) surface melting and hydrofracturing lessen, strengthening ice columns at the grounding line, (ii) normal deformational ice flow across the grounding line exceeds calving and ocean melting, so that a substantial ice shelf re-forms and provides buttressing at the grounding line, or (iii) the grounding line retreats to the inner part of the basin with beds shallower than and little ice above flotation.

To initiate MICI in their model, they have to apply a warm climate.  They do this by initiating the model with current conditions and then adding +2 degrees C to the ocean temperatures.

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To investigate the impact of the cliff-failure and melt-driven hydrofracture mechanisms, the ice-sheet model is run forward in time, forced by climate representative of past warm periods. Simulations are started from a previous spin-up of modern Antarctica using observed climatology. An instantaneous change to a warmer climate is applied, broadly representative of a warm Pliocene period. The past warm atmospheric climate is obtained from the RegCM3 Regional Climate Model (Pal et al., 2007) applied over Antarctica with some physical adaptations for polar regions, and with 400 ppmv CO2 and an orbit yielding particularly strong austral summers (DeConto et al., 2012). Detailed simulation of ocean warming beneath Antarctic ice shelves is currently not feasible on these time scales, so a simple uniform increment of+2 [degrees] C is added to modern observed ocean temperatures, broadly consistent with circum-Antarctic warming in Pliocene paleo-oceanic reconstructions (Dowsett et al., 2009). The climate forcings are described in more detail in Supplementary Material Section S.3.

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The individual contributions of the new mechanisms can be assessed by re-running the simulation with cliff failure and/or melt-driven hydrofracturing turned on or off, as shown by the sea-level curves in Fig. 4, and maps in Fig. 5. With both mechanisms turned off (Fig. 5a), the model functions much as in earlier work (Pollard and DeConto, 2009). As expected, West Antarctica undergoes major collapse driven primarily by increased sub-ice melt from the +2 [degree] C ocean warming, causing reduced buttressing at the major WAIS grounding lines, and leading to classic marine instability (MISI) into the deepening interior beds (Weertman, 1974, Schoof, 2007). The time scale of this retreat is several hundred to a thousand years (Pollard and DeConto, 2009, and Fig. 4, cyan curve). There is very minor grounding-line recession into the outer Slessor–Bailey troughs and Lambert Graben due to ice-shelf thinning and reduced buttressing, but the retreat stops, presumably due to greater side-drag and funneling of ice compared to the wider West Antarctic grounding zones. Similar minor retreat occurs in a few other East Antarctic locations, but nothing on the scale of the retreat in Fig. 3. The same is true if cliff failure is active alone (without hydrofracturing, Fig. 5b), because ice shelves still exist, which buttress grounding lines and prevent cliff failure. With hydrofracturing activated alone (without cliff failure, Fig. 5c), the drastic removal of floating ice further reduces buttressing, allowing MISI to produce partial retreat into the Wilkes and Recovery–Slessor–Bailey basins, but not into the shallower Aurora. Full collapse into all basins, and greatly accelerated collapse in West Antarctica, requires the combination of melt-driven hydrofracturing and cliff failure (Fig. 5d). More analysis on the roles of the individual retreat mechanisms, and other sensitivities and basic model tests, are included in Supplementary Material Sections S.4–S.7.

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To investigate the impact of the cliff-failure and melt-driven hydrofracture mechanisms, the ice-sheet model is run forward in time, forced by climate representative of past warm periods. Simulations are started from a previous spin-up of modern Antarctica using observed climatology. An instantaneous change to a warmer climate is applied, broadly representative of a warm Pliocene period. The past warm atmospheric climate is obtained from the RegCM3 Regional Climate Model (Pal et al., 2007) applied over Antarctica with some physical adaptations for polar regions, and with 400 ppmv CO2 and an orbit yielding particularly strong austral summers (DeConto et al., 2012). Detailed simulation of ocean warming beneath Antarctic ice shelves is currently not feasible on these time scales, so a simple uniform increment of is added to modern observed ocean temperatures, broadly consistent with circum-Antarctic warming in Pliocene paleo-oceanic reconstructions (Dowsett et al., 2009). The climate forcings are described in more detail in Supplementary Material Section S.3.


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Fig. 3. Ice distributions in a warm-climate simulation. The simulation starts from modern conditions, with a step-function change to a generic past warm climate applied at year 0. Atmospheric temperatures and precipitation are from a Regional Climate Model simulation with hot austral summer orbit, CO2 = 400 ppmv, and ocean temperatures are increased uniformly by 2 °C above modern. Color scale: Grounded ice elevations, m. Pink scale: floating ice thicknesses, m. The run is initialized from a previous simulation equilibrated to modern climate (panel (a), 0 yr). Both new mechanisms (cliff failure and melt-driven hydrofracturing) are active.


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Fig. 4. Global mean equivalent sea level rise in warm-climate simulations. Time series of global mean sea level rise above modern are shown, implied by reduced Antarctic ice volumes. The calculation takes into account the lesser effect of melting ice that is originally grounded below sea level. Cyan: with neither cliff failure nor melt-driven hydrofracturing active. Blue: with cliff failure active. Green: with melt-driven hydrofracturing active. Red: with both these mechanisms active. Geographic ice distributions for the latter run are shown in Fig. 3, and for the other runs in Fig. 5.

21
Antarctica / Re: Ice Apocalypse - MULTIPLE METERS SEA LEVEL RISE
« on: November 24, 2020, 01:13:46 AM »
Recently published research from a team including Robert Deconto and David Pollard indicates that the timeframes for the onset of Marine Ice Cliff Instability (MICI) were 25 years too early in their 2015 and 2016 papers.  And they acknowledge that MICI is still speculative, not required for paleo-climate ice sheet loss rates, and may not occur in Antarctica if ice shelf loss isn't instantaneous.

https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdfdirect/10.1029/2019JF005418

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Gilford, D. M., Ashe, E. L., DeConto, R. M., Kopp, R. E., Pollard, D., & Rovere, A. (2020). Could the Last Interglacial constrain projections of future Antarctic ice mass loss and sea-level rise?. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 125, e2019JF005418.

Accepted article online 5 OCT 2020

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Abstract
Previous studies have interpreted Last Interglacial (LIG;∼129–116ka) sea-level estimates in multiple different ways to calibrate projections of future Antarctic ice-sheet (AIS) mass loss and associated sea-level rise. This study systematically explores the extent to which LIG constraints could inform future Antarctic contributions to sea-level rise. We develop a Gaussian process emulator of an ice-sheet model to produce continuous probabilistic projections of Antarctic sea-level contributions over the LIG and a future high-emissions scenario. We use a Bayesian approach conditioning emulator projections on a set of LIG constraints to find associated likelihoods of model parameterizations. LIG estimates inform both the probability of past and future ice-sheet instabilities and projections of future sea-level rise through 2150.  Although best-available LIG estimates do not meaningfully constrain Antarctic mass loss projections or physical processes until 2060, they become increasingly informative over the next 130years. Uncertainties of up to 50cm remain in future projections even if LIG Antarctic mass loss is precisely known (±5cm), indicating that there is a limit to how informative the LIG could be for ice-sheet model future projections.  The efficacy of LIG constraints on Antarctic mass loss also depends on assumptions about the Greenland ice sheet and LIG sea-level chronology. However, improved field measurements and understanding of LIG sea levels still have potential to improve future sea-level projections, highlighting the importance of continued observational efforts.

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MICI is not well understood and is difficult to parameterize. While it has not yet been observed in Antarctica, there is some modern evidence consistent with cliff instability, such as the documented calving events of Greenland glaciers (DeConto & Pollard, 2016; Parizek et al., 2019). Newly discovered iceberg-keel plough marks also provide evidence for MICI in Pine Island Bay in the early Holocene,∼12ka (Wise et al., 2017).  However, a recent reanalysis of DeConto and Pollard (2016) showed that MICI is not well constrained and is unnecessary for ice-sheet model projections to be consistent with modern and paleoclimate estimates of AIS mass loss (Edwards et al., 2019). Clerc et al. (2019) examined how ice cliffs deform following removal of their buttressing ice shelves. They found that∼90-m-tall ice cliffs would have to be lost near instantaneously after shelf collapse to trigger MICI—on longer timescales viscous relaxation dominates the response. Furthermore, Olsen and Nettles (2019) found that seismic measurements of the aforementioned Greenland glaciers were not indicative of subaerial ice-cliff failure expected with MICI. These findings cannot preclude MICI as a primary mass loss mechanism in Antarctica, but they demonstrate the paucity of observations to constrain this process.

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Future simulations of AIS mass loss under RCP8.5 forcing are very similar across the ensemble in the early21st century; 158 of 196 simulations have loss rates within 1 standard deviation of IMBIE2 observed rates over 1992–2017 (15–46mm/yr IMBIE-Team, 2018). In∼2060 ice discharge dramatically accelerates among ensemble members with higher CLIFVMAX values, and simulations markedly diverge. Across the simulations ice loss continues to accelerate through 2100 and well into the 22nd century; 86% of the simulated peak loss rates occur after 2130. By 2150, the ensemble's median rate of sea-level equivalent mass loss is 54mm/yr, and the median AIS sea-level contribution is 2.3m. Mean RCP8.5 ensemble AIS sea-level contributions are 42cm in 2100 and 2.3m in 2150. These values are lower than DeConto and Pollard (2016) large-ensemble projections (without bias corrections and with default model parameters, see their Extended Data Table 1)in both 2100 (77cm) and 2150 (2.9m). Differences are largely due to improved model synchronicity in atmospheric forcing, which slows the onset of surface meltwater production and ice-shelf hydrofracturing by∼25 years compared to DeConto and Pollard (2016).

Note that they are still running simulations under RCP 8.5, which has become increasingly unrealistic as the energy transition has accelerated since it was shown we were closer to RCP 4.5 last year.  Current atmospheric concentrations of Carbon Dioxide are consistent with RCP 2.6 and methane concentrations are around RCP 4.5.  See the graphs at the following links:

Carbon Dioxide 2020 RCP 2.6 is 412.1 ppm, RCP 8.5 is 415.8 ppm, 2019 annual average (globally) was 409.85.
https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,2994.msg288256.html#msg288256

Methane 2020 RCP 4.5 is 1801 ppb, RCP 8.5 is 1924 ppb, 2019 annual average was 1866.55:
https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,2994.msg288258.html#msg288258

And future fossil fuel emissions assume very little renewable energy and, for RCP 8.5, continued increases in coal consumption.  (Global coal consumption peaked in 2013 and looks to be headed to zero by 2050).




22
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: November 10, 2020, 06:56:09 PM »
The IEA is projecting that renewable electricity generation capacity will grow by 7 percent this year while energy demand decreases.  They project a 10% increase in installed renewable capacity next year.

https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/IEA-Renewables-To-Grow-7-In-2020.html

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IEA: Renewables To Grow 7% In 2020
By Charles Kennedy - Nov 10, 2020

Renewable power generation capacity will increase by 7 percent this year despite a 5-percent forecast decline in global energy demand, the International Energy Agency said in its Renewables 2020 report.

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Net installed capacity for renewable power generation will this year grow by 4 percent, according to the IEA, with China and the United States accounting for the biggest jumps, at 30 percent for each of the two countries. The global total at the end of this year, then, is expected to reach 200 GW.

Next year, however, the scales of most additions will tip to Europe and India, the IEA noted. As a result, total renewable capacity additions next year could rise by a record-breaking 10 percent.

23
Permafrost / Re: Permafrost general science thread
« on: November 10, 2020, 12:51:13 AM »
A just-published study on methane emissions from Siberian lakes shows that the water column of deeper lakes acts as a microbial filter that prevents methane emissions into the atmosphere.

https://bg.copernicus.org/preprints/bg-2020-317/

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Savvichev, A., Rusanov, I., Dvornikov, Y., Kadnikov, V., Kallistova, A., Veslopolova, E., Chetverova, A., Leibman, M., Sigalevich, P., Pimenov, N., Ravin, N., and Khomutov, A.: The water column of the Yamal tundra lakes as a microbial filter preventing methane emission, Biogeosciences Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-317, in review, 2020.

Abstract. Microbiological, molecular ecological, biogeochemical, and isotope geochemical research was carried out in four lakes of the central part of the Yamal Peninsula in the area of continuous permafrost. Two of them were large (73.6 and 118.6 ha) and deep (up to 10.6 and 12.3 m) mature lakes embedded into all geomorphological levels of the peninsula, and two others were smaller (3.2 and 4.2 ha) shallow (up to 2.3 and 1.8 m) lakes which appeared as a result of thermokarst on constitutional (segregated) ground ice. We collected samples in August 2019. The Yamal tundra lakes exhibited high phytoplankton production (340–1200 mg C m−2 day−1) during the short summer season. Allochthonous and autochthonous, both particulate and dissolved organic matter was deposited to the bottom sediments, where methane production occurred due to anaerobic degradation (90–1000 µmol СН4 dm−3). The rates of hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis appeared to be higher in the sediments of deep lakes than in those of the shallow ones. In the sediments of all lakes, Methanoregula and Methanosaeta were predominant components of the archaeal methanogenic community. Methane oxidation (1.4–9.9 µmol dm−3 day−1) occurred in the upper sediment layers simultaneously with methanogenesis. Methylobacter tundripaludum (family Methylococcaceae) predominated in the methanotrophic community of the sediments and the water column. The activity of methanotrophic bacteria in deep mature lakes resulted in a decrease of the dissolved methane concentration in lake water from 0.8–4.1 µmol CH4 L−1 to 0.4 µmol CH4 L−1, while in shallow thermokarst lakes the geochemical effect of methanotrophs was much less pronounced. Thus, only small shallow Yamal lakes may contribute significantly to the overall diffusive methane emissions from the water surface during the warm summer season. The water column of large deep lakes on Yamal acts, however, as a microbial filter preventing methane emission into the atmosphere.

 

24
The politics / Re: Elections 2020 USA
« on: November 07, 2020, 01:36:05 AM »
But seriously, will Biden be able to progress the transition to renewables with a Republican Senate?
Firstly Obama & then Trump realised and used the presidential power of Executive Orders to great effect.

Indeed many pundits believe that far too much power has been given to the Executive branch.

He can also do a lot by just not getting in the way of the State, City and County Governments that push ahead the renewable energy agenda, and the veto plus executive orders can stop much of the support for the fossil fuel industries.

The short answer is yes, President-Elect Biden can do a lot by Executive Order and by appointing competent people to run the Federal agencies and enforce existing laws.  Carbon Dioxide has been classified as a pollutant and that fact has been legislated all the way through the Supreme Court.  So a sitting President who actually enforces the laws can accomplish a lot.

Subsidies for fossil fuels and renewables are buried in tax codes and Federal Budgets.  Tax legislation and the Federal Budgets are drafted by the House of Representatives and then voted on by the Senate, where they can be changed.  Differences between the House and Senate are resolved by committees. 

Democrats control the House and are close in the Senate.  While they can't push through sweeping changes, they can do a lot.  Even under the current Administration and Senate, many research projects to improve the grid and fund renewables were awarded.  With control of the House and the need to approve budgets, a lot can still be done. 

Everyone recognizes the need for another stimulus package to recover from the Covid pandemic.  A lot of money will be directed toward new electric vehicle charging stations along the Interstate Highway system, improving energy efficiency in Federal Buildings, putting out of work oil workers back to work plugging leaking oil wells, and installing solar panels on military bases and other Federal facilities.  There will probably be mandates for Federal agencies to purchase a certain number of electric vehicles as well. The Departments of Agriculture and Interior can fund programs to renew soils, replant forests and improve land use to sequester carbon.  Harassment of Government scientists will stop and research reports wont be suppressed.

We will be much better off in 2021 then we have been for the past four years.


25
Permafrost / Re: Arctic Methane Release
« on: October 30, 2020, 04:57:32 PM »
It's also important to remember that the East Siberian Arctic Shelf was permafrost at the end of the ice age and has been covered by above freezing water in the Arctic Ocean since the ice age ended.  The pockmark craters that spurred recent concern were first observed on the seafloor decades ago and methane seeps have been found all over the ocean.  Methane seeping from seafloor seeps is part of the natural carbon cycle.

While there is concern that more methane and carbon dioxide will enter the atmosphere as the Arctic warms, the amounts are small compared to what we emit by using fossil fuels.  More methane escapes from oil and gas drilling and pipelines than is emitted by the Arctic Ocean and permafrost.

Here's a link to a Real Climate posting from several years ago that discusses the issue in more depth.

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/08/how-much-methane-came-out-of-that-hole-in-siberia/comment-page-2/

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How much methane came out of that hole in Siberia?
Filed under:

    Arctic and Antarctic Carbon cycle Climate Science Greenhouse gases

— david @ 13 August 2014

Siberia has explosion holes in it that smell like methane, and there are newly found bubbles of methane in the Arctic Ocean. As a result, journalists are contacting me assuming that the Arctic Methane Apocalypse has begun. However, as a climate scientist I remain much more concerned about the fossil fuel industry than I am about Arctic methane. Short answer: It would take about 20,000,000 such eruptions within a few years to generate the standard Arctic Methane Apocalypse that people have been talking about. Here’s where that statement comes from:

How much methane emission is “a lot”? The yardstick here comes from Natalie Shakhova, an Arctic methane oceanographer and modeler at the University of Fairbanks. She proposed that 50 Gton of methane (a gigaton is 1015 grams) might erupt from the Arctic on a short time scale Shakhova (2010). Let’s call this a “Shakhova” event. There would be significant short-term climate disruption from a Shakhova event, with economic consequences explored by Whiteman et al Whiteman et al (2013). The radiative forcing right after the release would be similar to that from fossil fuel CO2 by the end of the century, but subsiding quickly rather than continuing to grow as business-as-usual CO2 does.

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It is certainly believable that warming ocean waters could trigger an increase in methane emissions to the atmosphere, and that the time scale for changing ocean temperatures can be fast due to circulation changes (we are seeing the same thing in the Antarctic). But the time scale for heat to diffuse into the sediment, where methane hydrate can be found, should be slow, like that for permafrost on land or slower. More importantly, the atmospheric methane flux from the Arctic Ocean is really small (extrapolating estimates from Kort et al 2012), even compared with emissions from the Arctic land surface, which is itself only a few percent of global emissions (dominated by human sources and tropical wetlands).

In conclusion, despite recent explosions suggesting the contrary, I still feel that the future of Earth’s climate in this century and beyond will be determined mostly by the fossil fuel industry, and not by Arctic methane. We should keep our eyes on the ball.

26
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: October 28, 2020, 11:05:53 PM »
While the US situation may very well be as you describe, new coal plants are still being built around the world, and the same is true for gas. I doubt all these plants will miraculously stop operating 20 years from now. The transition is happening and will accelerate, but is waaay to slow.

The transition is happening much faster than is commonly believed.  This year, more coal-fired power was retired than was added to the grid, globally.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/03/more-coal-power-generation-closed-than-opened-around-the-world-this-year-research-finds

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More coal power generation closed than opened around the world this year, research finds
Adam Morton
2 Aug 2020

The size of the global coal power fleet fell for the first time on record over the first six months of the year, with more generation capacity shutting than starting operation.

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Across the globe, 18.3GWs of coal power was commissioned in the first half of the year, and 21.2GWs shut. About 8.3GWs of the closures were in the European Union and – despite US president Donald Trump’s vow to save the coal sector – 5.4GWs were in the US. Spain retired half its fleet. Britain shut a third of its coal capacity and went coal-free for two months.

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About 72GWs of planned new coal was cancelled in the first half of the year, the bulk of it in India and China, but 190GW remains under construction.

Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) invesment has dried up in 2020.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lng-exports-investment-analysis/lng-investments-vanish-in-2020-as-coronavirus-slashes-oil-and-gas-prices-idUSKBN2602PY

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September 9, 2020

LNG investments vanish in 2020 as coronavirus slashes oil and gas prices

By Ekaterina Kravtsova, Scott DiSavino

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - No new liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects could be approved this year for the first time in at least two decades, banking and industry sources said, after the COVID-19 pandemic drove down energy demand and knocked prices to all-time lows.

In a stark contrast to last year’s record level of approvals for LNG production plants, 2020’s dramatic oil and gas price drop has forced companies to delay decisions on new projects and write down investments in existing plants.

The last year in which no new LNG exports plants were approved was 1998, consultancy Wood Mackenzie told Reuters, while the International Energy Agency estimated it was at least two decades ago.



27
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: October 28, 2020, 09:27:01 PM »
Or it might take 143 years to replace all fossil fuels it depends on how you figure it. One thing is clear nothing beyond replacement is happening currently.

The average fossil fuel power plant has a useful life of less than 50 years and most cant go more than 20 years without needing major repairs, which cost a lot of money. And now that new wind and solar power plants are cheaper than operating fossil fuels plants, it's unlikely that utilities will spend the money to renovate fossil fuel power plants instead of building new solar or wind.  Therefore, it's unlikely that there will many fossil-fuel powered plants running more than 20 years from now.

Extrapolating lines from historical data on charts only works if the factors that influenced the data is the same.  For energy, it isn't.  Renewables (solar and wind) became cheaper than fossil fuel power plants in 2018 in some areas and renewables are now cheaper in more than 75% of the areas of the world.

This is already showing up in capacity additions to the grid.  Renewables are expected to be 76% of the new capacity added to the US electrical grid this year.  That share will increase in each year as the cost advantage of renewables continues to grow as the costs of wind and solar (and battery storage) continue to decrease.






28
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: October 24, 2020, 12:34:51 AM »
Lazard has published the 2020 updates of their Levelized Cost of Electricity report.  Solar is the cheapest and new solar farms are cheaper than operating coal.  The cost of solar is now comparable to the operating costs of fully depreciated gas fired power plants.

https://www.pv-magazine.com/2020/10/23/its-cheaper-to-build-new-solar-than-it-is-to-operate-coal-plants/

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It’s cheaper to build new solar than it is to operate coal plants

New analysis released by Lazard compares the levelized cost of energy for various generation technologies on a $/MWh basis and shows that renewables, specifically utility-scale solar and wind, are the economic frontrunners.
October 23, 2020 Tim Sylvia

Solar and wind are the most affordable sources of electricity, period, according to the most recent Levelized Cost of Energy comparison, released by Lazard.

The report is comprised of comparative levelized cost of energy (LCOE) analysis for various generation technologies on a $/MWh basis, including sensitivities for U.S. federal tax subsidies, fuel prices, carbon pricing and costs of capital. The cost isn’t represented by one concrete price, but rather a range of estimated prices given the circumstance applied.



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The really telling figures come from the comparisons between the cost of construction of new renewable energy facilities vs. operating existing fossil and nuclear resources. The only type of new renewable generation asset to have a higher per-MWh LCOE than operating existing coal is unsubsidized onshore wind, which isn’t even telling the whole story. The range of LCOE for unsubsidized onshore wind is higher at its peak than the maximum LCOE for operating existing coal, but the lowest end of the ranges favor wind, which comes in at a lowest-possible LCOE of $26/MWh, as compared to $34/MWh for coal.


29
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: October 24, 2020, 12:21:38 AM »
The linked article indicates that after a few decades of slow development, geothermal energy is poised for rapid growth.  This is in part due to the technological advances made by the oil and gas companies in fracking during the past two decades.

https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2020/10/21/21515461/renewable-energy-geothermal-egs-ags-supercritical

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Geothermal energy is poised for a big breakout

“An engineering problem that, when solved, solves energy.”
By David Roberts@drvoxdavid@vox.com Oct 21, 2020

Geothermal power is the perpetual also-ran of renewable energy, chugging along in the background for decades, never quite breaking out of its little niche, forever causing energy experts to say, “Oh, yeah, geothermal ... what’s up with that?”

Well, after approximately 15 years of reporting on energy, I finally took the time to do a deep dive into geothermal and I am here to report: This is a great time to start paying attention!

After many years of failure to launch, new companies and technologies have brought geothermal out of its doldrums, to the point that it may finally be ready to scale up and become a major player in clean energy. In fact, if its more enthusiastic backers are correct, geothermal may hold the key to making 100 percent clean electricity available to everyone in the world. And as a bonus, it’s an opportunity for the struggling oil and gas industry to put its capital and skills to work on something that won’t degrade the planet.

Vik Rao, former chief technology officer at Halliburton, the oil field service giant, recently told the geothermal blog Heat Beat, “geothermal is no longer a niche play. It’s scalable, potentially in a highly material way. Scalability gets the attention of the [oil services] industry.”

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Four basic types of geothermal energy technology

Once it reaches the surface, geothermal energy is used for a wide variety of purposes, mainly because there are many different ways to use heat. Depending on how hot the resource is, it can be exploited by numerous industries. Virtually any level of heat can be used directly, to run fisheries or greenhouses, to dry cement, or (the really hot stuff) to make hydrogen.

To make electricity, higher minimum heats are required. The older generation of geothermal power plants used steam directly from the ground, or “flashed” fluids from the ground into steam, to run a turbine. (The water and air pollution that has been associated with first-generation geothermal projects was all from flash plants, which boil water from underground and end up off-gassing everything in it, including some nasty pollutants.)

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1) Conventional hydrothermal resources

In a few select areas (think parts of Iceland, or California), water or steam heated by Earth’s core rises through relatively permeable rock, full of fissures and fractures, only to become trapped under an impermeable caprock. These giant reservoirs of pressurized hot water often reveal themselves on the surface through fumaroles or hot springs.



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2) Enhanced geothermal systems (EGS)

Conventional geothermal systems are limited to specialized areas where heat, water, and porosity come together just so. But those areas are limited.

There’s plenty of heat stored down in all that normal, solid, nonporous rock, though. What if geothermal developers could make their own reservoirs? What if they could drill down into solid rock, inject water at high pressure through one well, fracture the rock to let the water pass through, and then collect the heated water through another well?

That, in a nutshell, is EGS: geothermal that makes its own reservoir.



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The basic idea has always been that EGS would start off within existing hydrothermal reservoirs, where fields are relatively well-characterized. Then, as it learned, honed its technology, and brought down costs, it would branch out from “in field” into “near field” resources — solid rock adjacent to reservoirs, at similar depth. Eventually it would be able to venture farther out into new fields and deeper into hotter rock. In theory, EGS could eventually be located almost anywhere in the world.

That’s been the game plan for a decade now, and it’s still the game plan, as laid out in the magisterial 2019 GeoVision study on geothermal from the Department of Energy. The EGS industry has had trouble, though, getting all the ducks in a row. There was a burst of activity around 2010, based on Obama stimulus money and binary power plants. But by the time the drilling technology from the shale gas revolution had begun making its way over to geothermal, around 2015, capital had dried up and attention had turned away.

It’s only been in 2020, Latimer says, that everything has finally lined up: strong public and investor interest, real market demand (thanks to ambitious state renewable energy goals), and a flood of new technologies borrowed from the oil and gas industry. EGS startups like Fervo are growing quickly and bigger, established companies are running profitable EGS projects today.

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Still, if the engineering and marketing challenges can be overcome, the prize is almost unthinkably large. Assuming an average well depth of 4.3 miles and a minimum rock temperature of 150°C, the GeoVision study estimates a total US geothermal resource of at least 5,157 gigawatts of electric capacity — around five times the nation’s current installed capacity.

The article goes on to detail a third type of geothermal energy, super-hot-rock geothermal, that requires technology not currently commercially available to deal with supercritical water.  It then discusses another more promising type, advanced geothermal systems (AGS).

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AGS refers to a new generation of “closed loop” systems, in which no fluids are introduced to or extracted from the Earth; there’s no fracking. Instead, fluids circulate underground in sealed pipes and boreholes, picking up heat by conduction and carrying it to the surface, where it can be used for a tunable mix of heat and electricity.

Closed-loop geothermal systems have been around for decades, but a few startups have recently amped them up with technologies from the oil and gas industry. One such company, started by investors with experience in oil and gas, is the Alberta-based Eavor.

In Eavor’s planned system, called an “Eavor-Loop,” two vertical wells around 1.5 miles apart will be connected by a horizontally arrayed series of lateral wells, in a kind of radiator design, to maximize surface area and soak up as much heat as possible. (Precise lateral drilling is borrowed from the shale revolution, and from the oil sands.)

Because the loop is closed, cool water on one side sinks while hot water on the other side rises, creating a “thermosiphon” effect that circulates the water naturally, with no need for a pump. Without the parasitic load of a pump, Eavor can make profitable use of relatively low heat, around 150°C, available almost anywhere about a mile and a half down.

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An Eavor-Loop can act as baseload (always-on) power, but it can also act as flexible, dispatchable power — it can ramp up and down almost instantaneously to complement variable wind and solar energy. It does this by restricting or cutting off the flow of fluid. As the fluid remains trapped underground longer, it absorbs more and more heat.

So, unlike with solar, ramping the plant down does not waste (curtail) the energy. The fluid simply charges up, like a battery, so that when it’s turned back on it produces at above nameplate capacity. This allows the plant to “shape” its output to match almost any demand curve.

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One thing that might get more people talking about geothermal is the somewhat serendipitous opportunity it offers to the oil and gas industry, which is reeling from oversupply, persistently low prices, and cratering demand caused by the pandemic. Consequently, it is hemorrhaging jobs.

Geothermal is buzzing with startups that specifically need innovation and expertise in drilling technology, the very skills many oil and gas workers already have. They could put those skills to work making the planet safer for future generations. That skills match is what animates Beard’s geothermal entrepreneurship organization and the $4.65 million contest that DOE launched this year to pair geothermal innovations with partners in the manufacturing industry.

30
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: October 23, 2020, 11:43:40 PM »
Alberta (Canada) is planning to diversify its fossil-fuel dependent economy by developing geothermal energy.  The same technology used for drilling gas and oil wells works for drilling geothermal wells.  This has the obvious benefit of keeping workers employed while transitioning to a carbon free economy.

https://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Geothermal-Energy/Could-Oil-Drillers-Make-Geothermal-Energy-Go-Mainstream.html

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Could Oil Drillers Make Geothermal Energy Go Mainstream?
By Irina Slav - Oct 22, 2020

With so much talk about offshore wind and utility-scale solar, it is easy to forget about one other abundant, emission-free energy source. Geothermal has garnered a lot less attention than the more established forms of renewable energy generation, but this is slowly changing as parts of the world increasingly focus on replacing fossil fuels with cleaner alternatives. Alberta, for example, will be promoting the development of geothermal energy as a means of diversifying its heavily oil-dependent economy. This week the province’s legislators introduced a bill seeking to promote the nascent industry by setting rules and guidelines and establishing the authority that will control land use for geothermal.

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Geothermal resources are in fact abundant everywhere: the Earth’s core radiates heat outwards into the mantle and the crust. Oil and gas drillers are familiar with this heat and know that the deeper you drill, the hotter it gets. For oil and gas drilling, this could be a problem, so the industry has developed ways to solve it. For geothermal drilling, heat is the goal. The oil and gas industry is therefore in a really unique position to make the most of geothermal resources, not just in Canada.

The European Union is also interested in the heat that the insides of our planet generate. A project sponsored by Brussels, MEET, set out to tests the viability of geothermal extraction from oil wells. This is a lower-cost alternative to drilling new wells specifically for geothermal energy extraction, and costs are an issue with geothermal. The project has managed to generate electricity using the heat from oil well brine extracted from a well in France along with the crude. The result is potentially significant because the temperature of the brine was not all too high at 92 degrees Celsius. Yet it has yet to be replicated on a wider scale.

31
Policy and solutions / Re: Energy Efficiency: The “First Fuel”
« on: October 23, 2020, 11:00:33 PM »
Here's a story about a town in Kansas (USA) that rebuilt using sustainable methods after being destroyed by a tornado in 2007.

 https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2020/10/22/greensburg-kansas-wind-power-carbon-emissions/?arc404=true

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The town that built back green
After a tornado demolished Greensburg, Kan., it rebuilt without carbon emissions. Can its lessons help communities and economies rebound from fires, hurricanes and covid-19?

 By Annie Gowen
October 23, 2020

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GREENSBURG, Kan. — After powerful tornadoes swept through Nashville earlier this year, killing 25 and leaving a trail of destruction for miles, one of the first calls officials made was to tiny Greensburg, population 900.

A wind-swept farming community in southwestern Kansas, Greensburg rebuilt “green” after an EF5 tornado — the most violent — barreled through at more than 200 miles per hour and nearly wiped it off the map in 2007.

A decade later, Greensburg draws 100 percent of its electricity from a wind farm, making it one of a handful of cities in the United States to be powered solely by renewable energy. It now has an energy-efficient school, a medical center, city hall, library and commons, museum and other buildings that save more than $200,000 a year in fuel and electricity costs, according to one federal estimate. The city saves thousands of gallons of water with low-flow toilets and drought-resistance landscaping and, in the evening, its streets glow from LED lighting.

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Greensburg is no liberal bastion. It sits in Kiowa County, where Trump handily beat Hillary Clinton in 2016, carrying 83 percent of the vote.

But leaders there now are routinely consulted by communities around the world grappling with devastating weather events from wildfires, tsunami, earthquakes and floods — in Australia, China, Japan and Joplin, Mo. In March, the city council member in Nashville wanted to ask what kind of building codes or regulations could make its buildings more tornado-resistant going forward.

Greensburg’s efforts have gained new currency in recent months as climate catastrophes have continued to worsen and Americans struggle with a deadly pandemic that has shut down much of the economy — and begin to rethink what life might look like after a vaccine.

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They held meetings in a temporary red-striped tent set up downtown, where townspeople commented on the rebuilding plan. And they stressed the practical savings of installing energy-efficient windows and insulation in new homes. According to a recent NREL estimate, energy costs for a 2,000-square-foot home with standard construction in Greensburg are about $1,820 annually. Adding more insulation, an energy-efficient furnace, LED lighting and a small solar panel system would save 70 percent of the energy use and reduce energy costs to $1,260 in the first year, which includes the additional mortgage costs for the upgrades.

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More than a decade later, the town has about 400 modest, newly rebuilt homes — many of them with white-pillared front porches — centered in a small downtown where the key buildings are clustered among a few walkable blocks. There’s the city hall, hospital, courthouse, a commons building with a media center and library and school, all built with green construction features like angled windows that make the most of winter sun, cisterns to collect rainwater for irrigation and geothermal heating and cooling systems.



The green areas on the map above show where wind energy is commercially viable.

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The city was able to halve its carbon footprint by shifting to 100 percent wind energy from a 10-turbine wind farm south of town that is owned and operated by Exelon Corp. The turbines, which began operating in 2010, are capable of producing 12.5 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 4,000 homes, according to Exelon.

32
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: October 23, 2020, 10:46:08 PM »
A company in Austalia has selected the site for a 10 GW solar farm with a 30 GWh battery near Darwin.  The electricity will be sent to Singapore by subsea cables.  More large scale solar farms are planned for exporting electricity to Indonesia.

https://reneweconomy.com.au/sun-cable-earmarks-site-for-10gw-solar-farm-at-cattle-station-south-of-darwin-60771/

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Sun Cable earmarks site for 10GW solar farm at cattle station south of Darwin
Sophie Vorrath 22 October 2020

Sun Cable’s $22 billion plans to build the world’s largest dispatchable solar and battery power station, as well as the world’s largest subsea transmission link, have taken a step forward after selecting a preferred site about 750km south of Darwin.

Sun Cable proposes to build a 10GW solar plant in central Australia combined with a battery storage system 150-times the size of the Tesla Big Battery in South Australia, and then connect this to Singapore via an undersea cable. Each part of the project would be built at an unprecedented scale.

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As well as the 10GW solar plant, the project promises to build battery storage facilities of up to 30GWh, and a high voltage direct current sub-sea cable of 3,750kms – to pipe the solar power across to potential customers in Singapore.

And it’s quite possible Sun Cable won’t stop there.

In an interview with RenewEconomy’s Energy Insiders podcast in May, Griffin said the ultimate plan was for the Northern Territory project to be the first of many.

“Ultimately, we envisage a network that expands, that takes advantage of where the best renewable energy resources are, be it solar and wind in Australia, wind in New Zealand, or solar and wind in India, and we are seeing that  … the potential for load growth in the areas in between is enormous,” he said.

“Indonesia will be the fourth largest economy in the world in the 2020s. We seem to miss that in Australia – the enormity of our northern neighbours. We are absolutely developing long term plans to serve those ever-growing loads north of Australia and doing that by exploiting the renewable energy resources wherever they located, and the HVDC technology.”

33
Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: October 23, 2020, 09:28:28 PM »
While the oil rig count has slowly increased from it's minimum earlier this year (up another 6 this week), it's not nearly enough to counter the steep decline in production rates from fracked oil wells.  Overall, US oil production is down again this week, to 9.9 million barrels per day.

https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/US-And-Canadian-Oil-Rig-Count-Continue-To-Rebound.html

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U.S. And Canadian Oil Rig Counts Continue To Rebound
By Julianne Geiger - Oct 23, 2020

Baker Hughes reported on Friday that the number of oil rigs in the United States rose by 6 to 211.

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Total oil and gas rigs in the United States are now down by 564 compared to this time last year.

The EIA’s estimate for oil production in the United States fell sharply for the second week in a row for the week ending October 16—the last week for which there is data, to 9.9 million barrels of oil per day. U.S. oil production is down 3.2 million bpd from its all-time high reached earlier this year.

34
Consequences / Re: Places becoming more livable
« on: October 22, 2020, 12:26:18 AM »
Farmers across Africa have been regreening the Sahel and reversing desertification for decades.  Crop yields are much higher now than they were in the '80s. 

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/great-green-wall-stop-desertification-not-so-much-180960171/

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The Age of Humans
The “Great Green Wall” Didn’t Stop Desertification, but it Evolved Into Something That Might
The multibillion-dollar effort to plant a 4,000-mile-long wall of trees hit some snags along the way, but there’s still hope

By Jim Morrison
smithsonianmag.com
August 23, 2016

It was a simple plan to combat a complex problem. The plan: plant a Great Green Wall of trees 10 miles wide and 4,350 miles long, bisecting a dozen countries from Senegal in the west to Djibouti in the east. The problem: the creeping desertification across Africa.

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Planting trees across the Sahel, the arid savanna on the south border of the Sahara Desert, had no chance to succeed. There was little funding. There was no science suggesting it would work. Moreover, the desert was not actually moving south; instead, overuse was denuding the land. Large chunks of the proposed "wall" were uninhabited, meaning no one would be there to care for the saplings.

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Reij, Garrity and other scientists working on the ground knew what Wade and other political leaders did not: that farmers in Niger and Burkina Faso, in particular, had discovered a cheap, effective way to regreen the Sahel. They did so by using simple water harvesting techniques and protecting trees that emerged naturally on their farms.

Slowly, the idea of a Great Green Wall has changed into a program centered around indigenous land use techniques, not planting a forest on the edge of a desert. The African Union and the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization now refer to it as "Africa’s flagship initiative to combat land degradation, desertification and drought." Incredibly, the Great Green Wall—or some form of it—appears to be working.

"We moved the vision of the Great Green Wall from one that was impractical to one that was practical," says Mohamed Bakarr, the lead environmental specialist for Global Environment Facility, the organization that examines the environmental benefit of World Bank projects. "It is not necessarily a physical wall, but rather a mosaic of land use practices that ultimately will meet the expectations of a wall. It has been transformed into a metaphorical thing."

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Reij, now based in Amsterdam, began working in the Sahel when the soil literally was blowing away during dust storms. After years away, Reij returned to Niger and Burkina Faso in the summer of 2004. He was stunned by what he saw, green where there had been nothing but tan, denuded land. He quickly secured funding for the first of several studies looking at farming in villages throughout Burkina Faso and Niger.

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Over two years traveling through Burkina Faso and Niger, they uncovered a remarkable metamorphosis. Hundreds of thousands of farmers had embraced ingenious modifications of traditional agriculture practices, transforming large swaths into productive land, improving food and fuel production for about 3 million people.

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Garrity recalls walking through farms in Niger, fields of grains like millet and sorghum stretching to the sun planted around trees, anywhere from a handful to 80 per acre. “In most cases, the trees are in random locations because they sprouted and the farmer protected them and let them grow,” he says. The trees can be cut for fuel, freeing women who once spent two and a half hours a day collecting wood to do other tasks. They can be pruned for livestock fodder. Their leaves and fruit are nutritious.

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From 2004 on, they published a series of research papers and reports sounding the call about the transformation. Reij says that by 2011, there were more than 12 million acres restored in Niger alone. More than 1.2 million were restored in Mali, but no one knew until 2010 because no one looked.

The key, Reij says, is scaling up the effort in the drylands countries by building up grassroots efforts, addressing the legal issues (like tree ownership), and creating markets for the products of agroforestry. "We've never seen anything near this size and impact on the environment anywhere in west Africa," Tappan adds. "In our mind Niger already has its great green wall. It's only a matter of scaling it up."

Reij says the World Bank—which has committed $1.2 billion to the effort—the Global Environment Facility and others are convinced natural regeneration is an important way forward, but the approaches are up to each country. At the African Union, Elvis Paul Tangem, coordinator of the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative, says that 21 countries now have projects within the framework of the initiative.

35
SRM does nothing to address ocean acidification, which is going to cause huge problems with the food chain.

We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to below the level of natural sinks as we can as soon as possible.  And we need to implement land use changes to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.  We have the technologies to replant forests, use biochar and sustainable agriculture practices to store more carbon in soils (while increasing crop yields) and even farm kelp to protect fisheries from acidification.  You can then feed the kelp to ruminants to reduce their methane emissions.

There's no need for speculative geoengineering experiments that use a lot of energy and could have unintended consequences.

36
Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: October 21, 2020, 06:27:42 PM »
The attached article discusses short and long term trends for the fossil fuel industries.  It gives a historical perspective of the link between GDP and energy use and shows that the link has been reduced in the past decade (GDP growth requires much less energy growth now).  It then discusses prospects for a short term rebound from the Covid recession and the long term decline of fossil fuels.  It concludes that much of the money invested in fossil fuels today will result in stranded assets, and thus the money shouldn't be spent.

https://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/Oil-Poised-To-Rebound-But-What-About-The-Long-Term.html

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Oil Poised To Rebound, But What About The Long Term?
By Leonard Hyman & William Tilles - Oct 20, 2020

Oil bulls predict demand for oil will snap back quickly as global economic conditions improve. The International Energy Agency (IEA), on the other hand, expects a more muted recovery. Not surprisingly you can find any demand forecast needed for either the bull or bear case. And that’s just for short term price and demand forecasts. Longer term demand forecasts have to reckon with negative factors like the rise of electric vehicles including cars, trucks and buses as well as and the nudges of environmental-social-governance (ESG) investing. In addition, the industry faces risks from changes in government policies and competition from even newer technologies. But if we’re looking for positive demand surprises, economic growth in emerging economies in Africa or Asia could accelerate and suddenly require large increments of fossil fuels in the process (Remember China?).

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After World War II energy consumption and economic activity grew in like fashion. Then in the 1970s, thanks to the Energy Crisis and geopolitical tensions in which oil prices rose dramatically, consumers became more conscious of energy usage and thereafter energy consumption lagged economic activity. At the same time the economy moved away from production of goods requiring large energy inputs to production of goods and services that depend on knowledge. (Large accounting and law firms for example use considerably less electricity than a steelmaker with comparable revenues.) The key takeaway here is that around the time of the Great Recession, energy consumption patterns declined once again and consumers use even less energy per unit of GDP (See Figure 1 for a simple approximation.)



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Looking ahead vehicle electrification (transportation consumes more than half of oil production) will no doubt reduce future oil demand. Coal demand will likely hold on for a while as developing countries finish coal fired power stations that they will likely attempt to operate for a decade or two prior to abandonment. But that market could sag as lending institutions bow to increasing public pressure about lending to finance those projects and because renewable resources and relatively inexpensive LNG are making the projects less competitive. Growth in coal consumption started to decelerate around 2013. For that matter, the increase in electric generation has slowed throughout the world (electric generation makes up close to half the market for coal).

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As we see it, asset ambiguity will not pay off. Investors do not like companies with two competing products and strategies—especially when they are diametrically opposed businesses like renewables and fossil fuels. We suspect this tendency may apply to customers and employees as well.

Industry managements may have to decide about the future of fossil fuels sooner than many investors realize. So we would suggest investors look beyond a likely and pleasant near term energy recovery and focus on the long term. The bull case for oil probably hinges on a gradual, multi decade energy transition where demand gradually tapers off but with occasional bursts in demand belying the secular shift.

The bear case is simply that new energy investments made today will be uneconomic long before the end of their economic lives. This makes those new investments possible stranded assets from an accounting perspective that have be written off. This is akin to throwing away money.

37
Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: October 19, 2020, 07:59:57 PM »
Opponents to transitioning our energy systems to carbon-free sources frequently state that it will cost trillions of dollars to do so.  They often fail to consider that replacing fossil fuel infrastructure at the end of its useful life will also cost trillions of dollars.  Daniel Yergin, an expert who has written several informative books about the oil and gas industry, is now forecasting peak oil demand in 2030 and notes that just to maintain current oil production levels, $4.5 trillion will need to be invested in oil and gas infrastructure in the next five years.

https://www.cnbctv18.com/videos/market/commodities/see-world-oil-demand-peaking-in-2030-says-ihs-markits-daniel-yergin-7223261.htm

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See world oil demand peaking in 2030, says IHS Markit's Daniel Yergin
Updated : October 16, 2020

Daniel Yergin, vice chairman at IHS Markit on Friday said it sees world oil demand peaking in the first half of 2030. He said the change in consumption will not happen overnight, but as incomes rise, people's energy consumption will rise.

According to Yergin, the world needs $4.5 trillion investment in oil and gas in the next five years, "If it is not there, I think we will see different oil prices than we are seeing today."


38
Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: October 19, 2020, 07:45:24 PM »
China's economy is recovering from the Covid-19 shut downs, although at a slower pace than originally projected.  Oil demand hasn't recovered as quickly, mainly because international air travel is still heavily impacted by the Covid travel restrictions.

https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/latest-news/oil/101920-china-q3-gdp-up-49-but-ailing-aviation-manufacturing-sectors-to-cap-fuel-demand

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    19 Oct 2020 | 07:11 UTC Singapore

China Q3 GDP up 4.9% but ailing aviation, manufacturing sectors to cap fuel demand

Highlights

Q3 growth falls short of 5.2%-5.5% expansion forecast

Q4 oil demand still expected to fall 250,000 b/d on year

Cyclical winter demand to support gas consumption

Singapore — China has reported an economic growth of 4.9% in the third quarter, paving the way for a recovery in fuel and commodities demand for Asia's biggest energy consumer, but high oil stockpiles and bleak goods and services exports outlook will likely keep industrial fuel consumption and refinery run rates limited.

The 4.9% growth in Q3, despite slower than the expected 5.2%-5.5%, put China's GDP back to the growth path of 0.7% year on year expansion for the January-September period from the 1.6% contraction in the first half, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics, or NBS, on Oct. 19.

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Platts Analytics expects China's oil demand to trend lower year on year by 250,000 b/d in Q4, after two quarters of growth, due partly to a high base last year and as state-back industrial activity growth fades without further stimulus measures.

In addition, China's jet fuel consumption outlook also remains bleak despite the recent sharp recovery in domestic flight operations as international travel remains largely restricted.

Platts Analytics expects China's kerosene/jet fuel demand to remain weak and average 710,000 b/d in Q4, down year on year by 280,000 b/d.

39
Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: October 15, 2020, 11:18:28 PM »
The IEA report also says...

As things stand, the world is not set for a decisive downward turn in emissions…


click the image to make it readable

It looks like the report was prepared before China announced (in late September) their commitment to peak emissions by 2030 on their way to being carbon neutral by 2060.  And in early November we'll find out if the USA will be issuing a new stated policy in January 2021 that would result in emissions having already peaked on their way to being carbon neutral by 2050, with a 50% cut in emissions by 2030.

So the "Stated Policies" line in that graph should be much lower due to China's announcement and could be fairly close to the Sustainable Development line in January 2021.

40
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: October 15, 2020, 09:40:19 PM »
Plain old grid interconnects with "smart" controllers will solve the intermittency problem.  See what the UK does on its many windless days that NeilT constantly brings up.

41
Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: October 10, 2020, 01:35:23 AM »
NeilT's capacity factors for fossil fuel plants are laughable.  Coal might get to 60% and natural gas combined cycle 55%.  In the US, nuclear gets 90+% but that's because many of the powerplants received retrofits to improve their capacity.  Globally, nuclear averages 80% capacity factors.

Capacity factors for renewables are highly dependent on where they're installed.  In the US, the national average for solar is around 25% and for wind 35%.  New offshore wind turbines can reach 60% due to being placed in areas that have consistent wind and the ability to build very large structures.

Additionally, supply and demand of electricity can lead to curtailment of some sources when supply exceeds demand.  Since the sun and wind are free, it's the fossil fuel plants that get curtailed.

Here's a webpage that explains it.

https://www.powermag.com/electric-power-generation-coal-is-currently-a-vital-component/

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Table 2 presents the annual capacity factors for various sources of U.S. power generation. Capacity factor is the ratio of the electrical energy produced by a generating unit over a period of time considered to the electrical energy that could have been produced at continuous full-power operation during the same period. With the price of natural gas for power generation at historically low levels for several years, coal plants have experienced a decrease in capacity factors, resulting in increased cycling, while combined cycle and simple cycle natural gas generation has increased. The nuclear power fleet has maintained a fairly constant capacity factor of about 91% during this period. Table 2 also presents the national average annual price of natural gas used in power generation. There is a direct correlation between the decrease in installed capacity and capacity factors for coal-fired units, and the price of natural gas.



42
Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: October 09, 2020, 08:06:51 PM »
I'm not sure where NeilT's chart comes from or what it's trying to show.  Electricity generation for the UK is measured in the terawatt hours (TWh), his chart shows gigawatts (GW).

Here is an article about the UK's changing electrical generation mix.

https://theconversation.com/britains-electricity-since-2010-wind-surges-to-second-place-coal-collapses-and-fossil-fuel-use-nearly-halves-129346

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Britain’s electricity since 2010: wind surges to second place, coal collapses and fossil fuel use nearly halves
January 6, 2020

In 2010, Great Britain generated 75% of its electricity from coal and natural gas. But by the end of the decade*, these fossil fuels accounted for just 40%, with coal generation collapsing from the decade’s peak of 41% in 2012 to under 2% in 2019.

The near disappearance of coal power – the second most prevalent source in 2010 – underpinned a remarkable transformation of Britain’s electricity generation over the last decade, meaning Britain now has the cleanest electrical supply it has ever had. Second place now belongs to wind power, which supplied almost 21% of the country’s electrical demand in 2019, up from 3% in 2010. As at the start of the decade, natural gas provided the largest share of Britain’s electricity in 2019 at 38%, compared with 47% in 2010.



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Besides the reduction in carbon emissions, there was another remarkable shift in Britain’s electrical system during the 2010s. The amount of electricity consumed fell by nearly 15% between 2010 and 2019, with the economy using 50 terawatt hours (TWh) less electricity in 2019 than it did in 2010. That’s enough electricity to power half of Britain’s cars and taxis, if they were all electric vehicles.

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Since August 2018, renewables have produced more electricity than nuclear power for 17 months straight. Nuclear fell to less than a fifth of electricity generation in 2019, its lowest level since 2008 due to extended maintenance periods at six nuclear power stations. This helped the annual output of wind energy to surpass nuclear for the first time in 2019.



43
Science / Re: Where are we now in CO2e , which pathway are we on?
« on: October 09, 2020, 07:18:23 PM »
Nanning,

I was responding in the context of this thread, which uses the weekly or monthly observations of greenhouse gas concentrations and then tries to determine which of the RCPs we are closest too.

The thread got a bit confusing because they refer to CO2e in the title.  As Oren pointed out, CO2e is a way to compare the global warming potential of different greenhouse gases as they are emitted.  It doesn't really work for concentrations, because of the different lifetimes of the greenhouse gases.

As you note, methane has a short lifetime compared to CO2 (11 to 12 years versus 100+).  So the calculation for it's CO2e can range from 25 (which I think is implied by the calculations used in NOAA's greenhouse gas index) if you're looking at climate change over a century, to 80 for it's warming over 20 years.  The long term global warming for methane has been revised up to 34 in the past few years because of the feedbacks methane causes in atmospheric chemistry as it decays.

One of the shortcomings of converting a short term greenhouse gas to a CO2e is that it doesn't accurately portray the warming effects of the short term gas over time.  So a new method to calculate global warming potential, GWP*, has been proposed.  This article explains it better.

https://www.carbonbrief.org/guest-post-a-new-way-to-assess-global-warming-potential-of-short-lived-pollutants

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7 June 2018
Guest post: A new way to assess ‘global warming potential’ of short-lived pollutants
Dr Michelle Cain

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At the moment, it is not obvious how this will be done. In a new paper published in npj Climate and Atmospheric Science, my co-authors and I address one of the stocktake’s key stumbling blocks – the treatment of all greenhouse gases as “CO2-equivalent”, using a metric known as “global warming potential” (GWP). This misrepresents the impact of short-lived climate pollutants, such as methane, on future warming.

We show that modifying the use of GWP, so that it accounts for the differences between short- and long-lived gases, can better link emissions to warming. This means that the true impact of an emission pathway on global temperature can be easily assessed. For countries with high methane emissions – due to, say, agriculture – this can make a huge difference to how their progress in emission reductions is judged.

Greenhouse gas emissions are commonly presented in units of billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Gt CO2e). The de facto way of converting non-CO2 emissions to CO2e is to multiply the gas by its GWP100 (global warming potential over 100 years). The value of GWP100 for methane (CH4) from the last IPCC assessment report is 28. This means that methane has 28 times as much “global warming potential” as CO2, so 1Gt CH4 equates to 28 GtCO2e.

This masks the fact that 1 GtCH4 has a strong warming influence when it is first emitted, which then diminishes rapidly over a few decades. This is because chemical reactions cause it to be removed from the atmosphere, with a half life of about a decade. So, at the end of that 100 years, that methane is no longer causing strong warming, because it has almost all been destroyed.

By comparison, a 28Gt “equivalent” emission of CO2 would effectively persist in the atmosphere for centuries or longer, continuing to cause warming at almost the same rate as when it was first released. This shows how the two emissions are not really equivalent, which has important consequences if GWP100 is applied to future emissions scenarios inappropriately.

For example, the figure below shows some simplified emissions scenarios for CO2 and methane, with the resulting temperature responses. If methane is held constant (middle panel), temperature will remain constant. This is because the short lifetime of methane means atmospheric concentrations will remain constant with constant sources, assuming constant sinks. (Note that this is a simplification to demonstrate the direct warming from methane. Secondary effects from carbon cycle feedbacks following a methane emission can also cause smaller amounts of additional warming.)

However, a stable CO2 emission pathway leads to year-on-year increases in warming, because the CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere. If methane emissions are simply multiplied by GWP100 to generate CO2e, this would look like a warming pathway, when it should lead to stable temperatures.



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Even more pronounced is the impact when emissions are falling (right panel). For methane, falling emissions leads to cooling. Converting to CO2e would imply warming until the emissions hit zero. Ambitious mitigation scenarios could, therefore, give the impression of giving rise to warming instead of cooling from methane, if expressed using GWP100.

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By using GWP*, emissions of methane expressed as CO2e relate much more closely to temperature response. This can be seen in the figure below. The top panels use GWP100, while the lower panels use GWP*. The left panels show annual emissions of CO2e (upper left) and CO2e* (lower left). In the right panels, temperature is shown in the dashed lines alongside the cumulative CO2e/CO2e* emissions in the solid lines.

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Consider a power station and a herd of cows. A power station emits CO2 by burning fossil fuels. This CO2 is taxed. When it shuts down permanently, it emits no more CO2, so is no longer taxed. However, the CO2 already emitted continues to affect the climate for hundreds, or potentially, thousands of years. So even after closing down, that power station still contributes to holding up global temperatures because of the CO2 that remains in the atmosphere.

Now to the cows. A herd of cows emits methane, so the farmer is taxed for those emissions. If the herd remains the same size with the same methane emissions every year, it will maintain the same amount of additional methane in the atmosphere year on year. In terms of its contribution to warming, this is equivalent to the closed power station.

The power station pushed up global temperatures when it was running in the past, just as the farmer’s great-grandparent pushed up global temperatures when they were building up the herd of cattle. But neither a steady herd of cattle nor a defunct power station is pushing up global temperatures any more.

44
Science / Re: Where are we now in CO2e , which pathway are we on?
« on: October 09, 2020, 12:30:08 AM »
Thanks wolfpack513.
Do you know what methane CO₂e factor is used? It can differ hugely (ca. 20-100) and is therefore a bit arbitrary. It would be good to post that number also for clarity.
Aerosols are not included because they are spatially heterogeneous and short-lived. But it's constantly being replenished with new aerosols. I understand that a global figure is impossible, but it sure is part of integrated radiative forcing. Can a global map be made?
At what height in the atmosphere is the radiative forcing valid? Top of troposphere or at sea level?
Perhaps I've misunderstood.
 

Since the RCPs show the concentrations of greenhouse gases that were used to define the forcings, we can directly compare measured concentrations to the concentrations used to build the RCPs.  We can ignore the global warming potentials and assumed timeframes.



45
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: October 01, 2020, 01:31:46 AM »
The linked article explains why efficiency and capacity factors are not very useful in comparing renewable energy sources to their more expensive fossil fuel competitors. 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2017/11/08/is-solar-energy-less-efficient-than-non-renewables/#1954fc664d4a

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Nov 8, 2017,02:56pm EST
Is Solar Energy Less Efficient Than Non-Renewables?

Answer by Michael Barnard, low-carbon innovation analyst, on Quora:

Efficiency is an interesting concept when you talk about renewable energy. Mostly, it’s meaningless except as input to a more useful economic discussion.

Efficiency is a much greater factor for non-renewable energy sources because they have to pay for their fuel. Renewable sources don’t. The wind blows and the sun shines regardless of whether anyone puts up a solar or wind farm to capture it. The wind and sun are free resources.

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Solar and wind have another factor which is important for economics. While the wind and sun are free, they don’t blow all the time and aren’t always blowing or shining hard enough to make the wind farms and solar panels generate electricity at maximum potential. Over the course of a year, the ratio of actually generated electricity to potential maximum electricity is called the capacity factor.

For solar, the capacity factor ranges from 15% to 25% depending on where you are located and whether the panels follow the sun on (more expensive) trackers or not. For modern wind farms, capacity factors range from 40% onshore to 77% one year for the best offshore site. And now the very flexible wind and solar farms are sometimes curtailed because the much less flexible nuclear and other baseload forms of generation can’t be turned down quickly even though they often have much worse economics in many cases.

But even there, lots of legacy forms of generation have lower capacity factors. Nuclear is high at 90% because it can’t actually run at less than that capacity factor and pay for itself. Coal in the USA was at 60% or so a decade ago, but now it’s at 50% for the country because wind, solar and gas are cheaper so it can’t compete. Many gas plants are at 10% simply because they only turn them on to provide peak power at highest profit.

So wind and solar don’t have to be efficient, they just have to run enough over the course of time to pay for their capital costs. Their marginal operating costs are dirt cheap, much cheaper than coal and gas plants.

Efficiency being a problem is overrated.

46
The politics / Re: Elections 2020 USA
« on: October 01, 2020, 01:12:50 AM »
Trump’s efforts to discredit voting by mail is leading to a big advantage for Democrats in early voting.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/gop-mail-ballots/2020/09/29/131a06fc-0263-11eb-b7ed-141dd88560ea_story.html

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Early surge of Democratic mail voting sparks worry inside GOP

By Amy Gardner and Josh Dawsey
September 29, 2020

Democratic voters who have requested mail ballots — and returned them — greatly outnumber Republicans so far in key battleground states, causing alarm among GOP party leaders and strategists that President Trump’s attacks on mail voting could be hurting the party’s prospects to retain the White House and the Senate this year.

Of the more than 9 million voters who requested mail ballots through Monday in Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maine and Iowa, the five battleground states where such data is publicly available, 52 percent were Democrats. Twenty-eight percent were Republicans, and 20 percent were unaffiliated.

Additional internal Democratic and Republican Party data obtained by The Washington Post shows a similar trend in Ohio, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.

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The margins are “stunning” — and bad news for Republicans up and down the ballot, said longtime GOP pollster Whit Ayres. While the Republican Party is focused on getting voters out on Election Day, he noted that older voters who have traditionally supported Republicans are most concerned about being infected with the novel coronavirus and could choose to stay home if the outbreak intensifies as the election nears.

The trend has emerged after Trump spent months assailing voting by mail, making unsubstantiated claims that it is prone to corruption and fraud — attacks that have resonated with Republican voters, polls show. State and local Republicans, fearful of losing what has long been a key turnout advantage for the GOP, spent the past few months racing to reassure voters that voting by mail was safe, despite the president’s rhetoric.

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Michael McDonald, a political scientist at the University of Florida who is tracking mail voting trends on his website, the United States Elections Project, noted that in some states, the number of ballots cast is already approaching 10 percent of the vote total in 2016. He added that turnout this fall could surpass that of four years ago before Election Day even arrives.

In North Carolina and Georgia, for instance, 1 in 5 voters who have cast ballots didn’t even vote in 2016, McDonald said. Requests for mail ballot are up astronomically in dozens of states; the figure is 350 percent in Michigan, for instance, when compared with 2016.

In North Carolina, 17 times more people have requested ballots than four years ago; in Wisconsin, requests were up by a factor of 12, according to internal RNC data.

47
Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: September 30, 2020, 07:56:14 PM »
Yet another US utility, this time one based in Texas and operating in Illinois, announces plans to retire coal plants early.

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/environment/ct-more-illinois-coal-plants-closing-20200930-bl2saewbzvha3f52r42fcni53y-story.html

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Texas company to close all of its Illinois coal-fired power plants, another sign the global transition to clean energy is accelerating
By Michael Hawthorne
Chicago Tribune |
Sep 30, 2020 at 5:00 AM

In a move that promises cleaner air in Chicago and other cities as far away as New York and Boston, a Texas-based company announced Tuesday it will close its Illinois fleet of coal-fired power plants within a decade.

Vistra Energy absorbed nine of the state’s coal plants during a corporate merger just two years ago. Like its predecessors, the company found it increasingly difficult to profit from burning coal amid competition from cheaper, cleaner natural gas and renewable energy.

Scuttling the Illinois plants — and three others in Ohio — is part of Vistra’s plan to gradually shift its investments to solar installations and industrial-size batteries that store power for when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow.

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Only 15% of the electricity generated in Illinois last year came from Vistra coal plants. But the company’s fleet was responsible for nearly half the heat-trapping carbon dioxide and lung-damaging sulfur dioxide emitted by the state’s power plants during 2019, according to federal records.

48
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: September 29, 2020, 10:06:52 PM »
All forms of energy are subsidized to some extent.  In the USA, this is usually done in the tax code (I'm not counting nuclear here, which is so heavily subsidized by taxpayers picking up the tab for insurance, that it wouldn't exist without that subsidy). 

The EIA updated their calculations for Levelized Cost of Electricity in February 2020 and included the subsidies for solar (wind subsidies phase out) entering service in 2025.  They didn't count any other subsidies, which are substantial, for depreciation, failure to pay for pollution costs or adequate bonding for capping leaky abandoned wells when the oil and gas companies go bankrupt.

If you removed the tax credit for solar, estimated at $2.41 per megawatthour, solar would still have the lowest LCOE.

https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/pdf/electricity_generation.pdf

There are tables on page 6 (weighted averages by regions with proposed builds) and page 7 (unweighted averages).  It doesn't format properly when copied, so I'll just list the final results from the first table (the second is similiar and includes a few more higher cost types such as ultra-supercritical coal and advanced nuclear that are unlikely to be built due to thier high costs).

Numbers are $/MWHr

Plant Type        Levelized Tax Credit   LCOE including tax credit
Combined Cycle     N/A                                      $36.61
Geothermal            -$2.04                                   $35.44
Wind, onshore          N/A                                    $34.10
Wind, offshore          N/A                                    $115.04
Solar PV                 -$2.41                                  $30.39

So if you take away the tax credit for solar, the LCOE is still cheapest at $32.80.  And onshore wind is next cheapest with geothermal taking third.  Most types of fossil fuels aren't represented on this chart, because there are no proposed builds for those types of plants.

The State mandates were nice to have when renewables cost more than fossil fuels, but now they're irrelevant.  However, they do make it look like the politicians are doing something when they enact the mandates.  It would be far more effective to change the tax code to remove the subsidies or to require all industries, including renewable energy, to pay for their pollution.  Since renewables pollute far less than fossil fuels, the fossil fuels would complain that this would be a subsidy for renewables!

49
Science / Re: Where are we now in CO2e , which pathway are we on?
« on: September 29, 2020, 06:37:46 PM »

Hi sorry new to the forum. Long time lurker but had a question. The data presented in the 2.6 column it is as if we continued on the path of the current amount emissions of CO2 and Methane and then each sequential line to the right is if we were to increase in amounts being thrown into the atmosphere or is there some type of mitigation process in there i'm not seeing in 2.6 and 4.5? Clearly 8.5 is the most ambitious of them.

Thanks,
Tylor

Tylor,

The RCPs are "representative concentration pathways" and each present a series of inputs for running climate simulations in models.  They're meant to represent a pattern of climate forcings, not really a forecast of future emissions.  So we'll never be entirely on one path or another.

The number at the end of the RCP is the radiative forcing in the year 2100.  So RCP 2.6 would see 2.6 watts per meter of forcing while RCP would have 8.5 watts per meter in 2100.

The pattern of forcings over the years is broadly described in each of the scenario descriptions.  RCP 8.5 assumes continued growth in fossil fuel emissions, including burning coal at an increasing rate, for the rest of the century.  RCP 2.6 assumes we began reducing non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions, especially methane, in 2011 (which we haven't), we reach a peak in CO2 emissions around 2040 and then decline and use Negative Emissions Technologies to reduce CO2 concentrations from 2050 through 2100.  RCPs 4.5 and 6.0 assume a peak of CO2 emissions in the second half of the century and then stabilization of concentrations toward the end of the century.

A good summary in easy to read format is available at skepticalscience.org at this link:

https://www.skepticalscience.com/rcp.php

That website has some very useful graphics that show the assumed emission trajectories in each of the scenarios:



The assumed atmospheric concentrations:



One of the interesting features of all of the RCPs, which were developed about 15 years ago, is that they assumed that renewable energy would be too expensive to deploy extensively.  This is shown in another image at the skeptical science article:



Of course, wind and solar are now cheaper than coal and competitive with natural gas, so these assumptions are way too pessimistic.  By 2030, almost all new energy investment will be wind and solar (about 67% is now, with coal seeing almost no new investment the past two years), so by 2050, almost no fossil fuel power plants will be operating. 


50
Science / Re: Where are we now in CO2e , which pathway are we on?
« on: September 28, 2020, 08:47:29 PM »
I found the data for the RCP scenario assumptions on the IPCC website.

https://www.ipcc-data.org/observ/index.html

At that webpage, click on the top link, "Climate System Scenario Tables (Annex II of IPCC 5th Assessment Report, WG1 -- as Excel workbook"

This will open a large Excel spreadsheet with many tabs.  The tabs showing greenhouse gas concentrations by year are 4-1 (CO2), 4-2 (CH4), etc...

Here is the table for CO2:
Quote
Table AII.4.1 | CO2 abundance (ppm)                                 
Year   Observed   RCP2.6   RCP4.5   RCP6.0   RCP8.5   A2   B1   IS92a   Min   RCP8.5&   Max
PI   278 ± 2   278   278   278   278   278   278   278         
2011 obs   390.5 ± 0.3                              
2000      368.9   368.9   368.9   368.9   368   368   368         
2005      378.8   378.8   378.8   378.8               378.8   
2010      389.3   389.1   389.1   389.3   388   387   388   366   394   413
2020      412.1   411.1   409.4   415.8   416   411   414   386   425   449
2030      430.8   435.0   428.9   448.8   448   434   442   412   461   496
2040      440.2   460.8   450.7   489.4   486   460   472   443   504   555
2050      442.7   486.5   477.7   540.5   527   485   504   482   559   627
2060      441.7   508.9   510.6   603.5   574   506   538   530   625   713
2070      437.5   524.3   549.8   677.1   628   522   575   588   703   810
2080      431.6   531.1   594.3   758.2   690   534   615   651   790   914
2090      426.0   533.7   635.6   844.8   762   542   662   722   885   1026
2100      420.9   538.4   669.7   935.9   846   544   713   794   985 ± 97   1142

Here is the table for CH4:

Quote
Table AII.4.2 | CH4 abundance (ppb)                                                         
Year   RCP2.6   RCP4.5   RCP6.0   RCP8.5   A2   B1   IS92a      RCP2.6&         RCP4.5&         RCP6.0&         RCP8.5&   
PI   720   720   720   720            722   ±   25   722   ±   25   722   ±   25   722   ±   25
2011 obs                        1803   ±   4   1803   ±   4   1803   ±   4   1803   ±   4
2000   1751   1751   1751   1751   1760   1760   1760                                    
2010   1773   1767   1769   1779   1861   1827   1855   1795   ±   18   1795   ±   18   1795   ±   18   1795   ±   18
2020   1731   1801   1786   1924   1997   1891   1979   1716   ±   23   1847   ±   21   1811   ±   22   1915   ±   25
2030   1600   1830   1796   2132   2163   1927   2129   1562   ±   38   1886   ±   28   1827   ±   28   2121   ±   44
2040   1527   1842   1841   2399   2357   1919   2306   1463   ±   50   1903   ±   37   1880   ±   36   2412   ±   74
2050   1452   1833   1895   2740   2562   1881   2497   1353   ±   60   1899   ±   47   1941   ±   48   2784   ±   116
2060   1365   1801   1939   3076   2779   1836   2663   1230   ±   71   1872   ±   59   1994   ±   61   3152   ±   163
2070   1311   1745   1962   3322   3011   1797   2791   1153   ±   78   1824   ±   72   2035   ±   77   3428   ±   208
2080   1285   1672   1940   3490   3252   1741   2905   1137   ±   88   1756   ±   87   2033   ±   94   3624   ±   250
2090   1268   1614   1819   3639   3493   1663   3019   1135   ±   98   1690   ±   100   1908   ±   111   3805   ±   293
2100   1254   1576   1649   3751   3731   1574   3136   1127   ±   106   1633   ±   110   1734   ±   124   3938   ±   334

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