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Messages - gfwellman

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1
I should mention that "Truck-Rail-Truck" is big business(*) today.  I'd say that for the majority of the volume, the "last 100 miles" is typically closer to 25.  I wouldn't really expect a vast expansion of end-customer branch lines & railheads - there's no room in existing urban/suburban areas.  Also, there's a point at which switching onto many branch lines is less efficient than handling the final 20 miles with trucks.  What would be nice would be for this electric network we're talking about to have a few more terminals, both in under-served areas to cut down the longer dray runs so the last 100 miles is really 100 or less, and on the outskirts of major urban areas so that the typical 10-40 mile drays are more like 5-20.

The shorter the drays the easier it will be to electrify the trucks.  That'll still be challenging, because a typical drayman's day is continuous driving, even if each run is only 20 miles.  But here's a wild idea.  Build batteries into the *chassis* (the frame with wheels that you put an intermodal box onto).  The driver and his tractor drive all day, but any individual chassis typically only travels one or two legs a day.  Thus, every pickup is a battery swap.  Make it a normal part of terminal operations to make sure that chassis batteries are charged before a box is mounted on it.  Tell the customers they have to plug in chassis while they've got them.  Of course the tractor has batteries too, or it couldn't bobtail (drive with no chassis).  But whenever it has a chassis, it would run on that battery and even recharge the tractor from the chassis if necessary.  It might hardly ever be necessary to plug in the tractors even at night so long as everyone stays on top of charging the chassis batteries.

(*) one that indirectly pays my salary - I do a lot of intermodal software work - hence my interest.

2
Agreed about electrified rail.  Even now without a carbon tax, higher fuel prices have been shifting some freight from longhaul trucking to rail.

We need a new HVDC national transmission backbone anyway ... if we build it along the railways, we'll have the power easily available to the locomotives.  Pay for it with a fraction of a carbon tax and a lot more freight will switch to the rails.

3
You know what in-wheel electrics need?  Better road maintenance.

4
Consequences / Re: Sea Level Rise by 2100 (POLL)
« on: April 28, 2013, 10:12:02 PM »
Rahmstorf got more like 1.3, so I'm choosing 1.5 as a maximum.  It could happen that dynamic ice sheet losses are more limited and the actual SLR will turn out a bit lower than 1.0, but we certainly don't know that yet.

5
It's not an olive tint.  It's a grey tint that happens to make the yellow temp areas olive, orange temps darker orange, light green temp dark green, etc.

I like it BTW.

6
Walking the walk / Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« on: April 26, 2013, 04:25:07 AM »
Learn to love chicken ... at the rate we're going, that's going to be the only meat.  Unless you count jelly fish, and I don't  :P

7
Greenland and Arctic Circle / Re: Alert: Heavy Cracking over GIS?
« on: April 22, 2013, 07:14:36 PM »
Commercial aviation has routes over Greenland.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_route for *some* examples, but the map there is missing direct flights from Europe to Seattle/Vancouver, so there are plenty more.

8
Science / Re: Solar irradiance
« on: April 17, 2013, 09:47:09 PM »
Quote
The difference is about 0.8 W m-2, or roughly the same as Earth's heat imbalance due to GHGs.
Lodger, the TSI plot is per cross sectional m2, while GHG radiative forcing is expressed per surface area.  As you know the ratio of the surface area of a sphere to the cross sectional area is four.  So TSI variation isn't trivial, but it's probably about a fourth of the current GHG forcing.

9
Consequences / Re: When and how bad?
« on: April 15, 2013, 01:18:15 AM »
Jim - a very cogent analysis.  I agree that mid-century is roughly when we start to have a serious population vs food problem.  Not coincidentally, the updated "Limits to Growth" (and for that matter, the original from the early 70s) also predict mid-century as when something "collapse-like" becomes obvious.

I assume by John Geer you mean John Michael Greer?  I think he's a brilliant guy who's really got his finger on the pulse of the world, but I have quibbles with some of the details, as it sounds you do too.

10
The arch hasn't really reached the northern half - the narrow half - Nares Strait yet.  It's still in Kane Basin.  The basin is going to break up soon but that doesn't say that much about north of the basin.

11
How many of a couple of days?
  Neven beat me to it, but I'd say the answer is "until you can verify it with a MODIS visible spectrum image."

13
Bob Altemeyer's work is brilliant and should be required reading as the culmination of high school social studies.

Hmm ... I wonder if someone could turn it into a TEDx ?

14
Quote
I do expect a repeat of Siberian forest fires during Summer 2013
Definitely the forcing will be there if that happens.  Why do you expect it?  Just the general trend to warmer, drier conditions in Siberian summers?  That seems reasonable, but some experts considered the 2012 fires to be unusually extreme.

15
One can get a good ballpark estimate without a calculator.  Just say you're taking some mass with close to zero angular moment and distributing it at roughly the average moment (actually it might be more like twice the average moment considering it's all at the surface so let's go with that).  So the ratio of twice that mass to the whole mass is about 1/10000.  So the earth should slow down by about that factor, so days would be 8 seconds longer or so.  I'm guessing that's probably good to a factor of 2.

16
Isn't the "good thing" about black carbon and sea ice that there's effectively no accumulation?  Almost all soot from 2012 fires that fell during the 2012 melt season would have washed off with meltwater.  Yeah, some would have managed to "stick" to the surface of MYI.

17
Yes its generic google earth sat view of Jakobshavn.
Which appears to be really old, like 5+ years old based on the position of the calving front.

18
Another article on the same topic.  http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/plugged-in/2013/03/19/methane-hydrates-bigger-than-shale-gas-game-over-for-the-environment/
Quote
While hydrate resources look like an enormous boon to energy-starved nations like Japan, all that carbon and methane has climate scientists and advocates concerned.

... methane hydrates contain more carbon than all the world’s other fossil resources combined, according to USGS estimates.

If developed at a significant scale, hydrates would certainly be more than enough to cook the climate.

19
Arctic sea ice / Re: UCL loses second researcher this year.
« on: April 11, 2013, 01:44:02 AM »
Neven, that's exactly how I feel.  There have been a few scientists and environmentalists killed cycling in the US over the years.

20
Where did you get that bedrock elevation map?  It's at a much more detailed resolution than

If that deep trench connects all the way to the central depression ... well, it's a good thing it's narrow!

21
Consequences / Re: Best case scenarios - Be optimistic!
« on: April 09, 2013, 12:50:14 AM »
Well, if you're going to believe in a second coming, you might as well believe it will be in your lifetime.  Else, it's sorta pointless  :D

22
Flicking between those two images, it looks like the southern calving face is curved a little deeper in the second one.  However, if you watch the film, you see the face seems to pulse a fair bit.  This is presumably either
a) An artifact of the way Modis processes the images or
b) A real measure of the face advancing, then calving, repeat, repeat.

As Jakobshavn is one of the fastest glaciers in Greenland, I would tentatively lean towards (b).  Note that this is not the same thing as permanent retreat of the calving face to a new location.

23
Quote
Will it be possible to throw him in jail 15-20 years from now?
G-d I f--king hope so.

Unfortunately the concept of accountability has been almost abandoned in the US for a while.  No prosecutions over the financial crisis.  No prosecutions for approving and committing torture.  No prosecutions for misleading the country into a war based on non-existent WMD.  And it's not only the lack of criminal sanctions; it's the lack of any loss of prestige, influence or wealth.

24
Consequences / Re: When and how bad?
« on: April 04, 2013, 07:33:38 PM »
Anonymouse - John B and ccgwebmaster's thoughts on what sort of border controls are likely is what I had in mind as likely also.  Of course it's an unfair matter of luck who is already a citizen of the more desirable land and who is kept out at gunpoint.  I wouldn't want to be a refugee from the Syrian civil war being refused entry to Turkey right now, or a refugee in any of the similar situations in Africa.

25
Consequences / Re: When and how bad?
« on: April 04, 2013, 10:04:59 AM »
If we don't get our political act together, yeah.  It's still conceivable we could make the changes to stop around +3, but I'd put the odds of that around 50-50 and I'm probably being optimistic.  What I meant was that some on this thread are talking like a Cormac McCarthy-ian post-civilizational wasteland will happen inside of a couple of decades, and that just seems crazy to me.  Heck, I think there will still be some functioning advanced nations in a +4C world.  But they'll only be functioning because they take a brutal hard line on climate refugees.  They may be much less democratic than what we're used to, and I'd rather be here than there, but I just think "total collapse" isn't likely.

26
Consequences / Re: When and how bad?
« on: April 04, 2013, 09:16:56 AM »
As I've said upthread, I'm with the more optimistic few on this thread.  There is a high likelihood of significant starvation events in countries that are already poor and net food importers.  But not mass starvation in developed nations unless we really screw the pooch and go to a +6C world.

I'm a little skeptical about that graphene desalination filter - I'll have to do more reading to see how that's really supposed to work, but the news article must have something wrong.   Taken at face value, it's saying that water molecules are smaller than salt ... but salt dissolved in water is separate Na+ and Cl- ions.  I looked up the ionic radii of those and they're 116 and 167 respectively.  Water has a molecular diameter of 275 or 320, depending on how you weight the charge distribution.  (All of those in picometers.)  So while there may be some way for graphene to act as a salt filter, there's more to it than the news article explains.

27
Consequences / Re: When and how bad?
« on: April 04, 2013, 12:37:14 AM »
I'm with Crandles on this.

28
Consequences / Re: Personal Consequences - Worst Case
« on: April 03, 2013, 02:16:42 AM »
I too would like to thank opensheart for that very constructive contribution to this conversation.

I have little choice but to go with response #5 on that list.  My wife is dependent on very high tech medical treatment.  If civilization even regresses a little, it's game over for her.  I'd say such civilization has a decent shot at outliving us, although perhaps not by much.  We have no children.

29
Arctic sea ice / Re: "Smart" and "Stupid" Questions - Feel Free To Ask
« on: April 02, 2013, 06:43:49 AM »
Yeah, there's some evidence of wave action in northern Greenland 8000 years ago that would imply significant periods where that coast was ice free, but it's far from a sure thing.  The previous interglacial is known to have been warm enough.

30
Greenland and Arctic Circle / Re: Gulf of Saint Lawrence
« on: April 02, 2013, 01:32:18 AM »
That's about how I read that graph.  I don't know how that's affected Newfoundland

31
Greenland and Arctic Circle / Re: Gulf of Saint Lawrence
« on: April 01, 2013, 10:57:19 PM »
I don't have detailed information for you, but the last few years sea ice in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence area has been significantly below normal, closer to zero than normal.  Check out http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/recent365.anom.region.3.html but note there are some artifacts in the graphs.

32
The forum / Re: How to find the forum?
« on: April 01, 2013, 10:52:25 PM »
It would be good to add a link to the forum from somewhere prominent at the blog.

33
Consequences / Re: Climate Change Impacts - US Agriculture
« on: March 31, 2013, 08:14:06 AM »
I'm assuming you're joking re Zheng He.  That voyage is fiction.  His real voyages http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zheng_He are a pretty interesting story though.

34
You're absolutely right that that was a glacial 'berg, but technically wrong about it being a calving event.  The actual calving front is that double curve just east of the exposed mountains.  All the ice between there and the open water is already calved, but kinda jammed in place.  Probably a lot of grounded bergs anchoring the mass in place.  So the event you gave us such nice pictures of would probably better be described as a large berg getting free of the stuck area.  Probably involved a giant roll-over event that would be almost as exciting as an actual calving anyway.  And then it broke up as you say.

35
Arctic sea ice / Re: When will we see open ocean at the north pole?
« on: March 31, 2013, 05:11:39 AM »
Yes, also implausible based on the travels of the Vikings themselves.  Colonized Iceland, yes.  Colonized Svalbard ... no.  From http://www.spitsbergen-svalbard.com/spitsbergen-information/history/the-vikings.html
Quote
It is difficult to prove whether or not the vikings have really reached today’s Svalbard in 1194, and it is probably rather unlikely, although especially the Norwegians often believe it (surprise…). The names ‘Svalbarði’, the ‘cold rim’, can be found in an Icelandic chronicle and refers to something that was found after a few days sailing north from Iceland. It could also have been Jan Mayen or any other land area in the north Atlantic or simply the pack ice. No archaeological evidence for the presence of vikings on Svalbard has ever been found, neither hard historical evidence.
I think if I was reading ancient literature of a northern seafaring culture and came across the term "cold rim" like that, I would definitely figure that was the edge of the pack ice.

36
The rest / Re: Putting stuff into perspective
« on: March 31, 2013, 04:52:55 AM »
Looks like a Bizarro, so the answer would be "from Dan Piraro.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bizarro_%28comic_strip%29
http://www.bizarro.com/email/index.htm
However, I've seen a lot of Bizarro's used in academic settings and I haven't heard of Dan launching a lawsuit over it yet :-)

37
Arctic sea ice / Re: "Smart" and "Stupid" Questions - Feel Free To Ask
« on: March 31, 2013, 04:45:21 AM »
Not a stupid question.  The answer is generally yes.  We get those arctic blasts in the mid-latitudes when the arctic "loses containment" often due to meanders in the polar jet stream.  This typically does mean that mid-latitude air is drawn north behind the arctic outbreak.

38
Policy and solutions / Re: How to deal with denialists?
« on: March 31, 2013, 04:39:07 AM »
But to answer the question, one could do some rough estimates - the fires ran for a few months, so a first order approximation would be "the same as burning a few months of Kuwaits normal production".  Apparently not enough to show any noticeable effect in the Mauna Loa record.   There is a slight tweak up there, but it seems to start in 1990, not 1991.

39
Greenland and Arctic Circle / Re: The Nares Strait thread
« on: March 31, 2013, 04:31:06 AM »
In the visible spectrum, the Northwater Polynya is pretty large this year and reaches well into Kane Basin.  So I'd expect the basin to break up easily in response to strong currents or a strong tide.  But Nares north of the basin can hold on longer - what were the temperatures like over the winter in that area (relative to normal)?

40
Walking the walk / Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« on: March 28, 2013, 07:23:32 PM »
I have no idea whether Stephen is joking, but I am having trouble seeing a connection between animals producing CH4 and soil nitrogen.

41
Arctic sea ice / Re: What will the Arctic resemble in 2050?
« on: March 27, 2013, 06:16:36 PM »
Quote
The +'ve albedo dominates in summer. -ve insulation dominates in winter. If the +'ve albedo feedback wins out over the range we are currently thinking about then sea ice disappears and the albedo feedback considerably weakens itself through running out of further areas that are easy to convert to low albedo.
Yep.  This is why a seasonally ice free arctic is very likely a stable phenomenon and would have a wider "swing" between minimum (i.e. zero) and maximum extent than present, at least until the forcings are cranked way up.  (And indeed why the present has a wider swing than the baseline.)

42
Arctic sea ice / Re: Cryosphere Today 2013 Arctic SIA maximum
« on: March 27, 2013, 07:43:26 AM »
I.C. Kim - you're right about the original blog post you referred to.  There were two distinct and significant misstatements, but one didn't affect the math presented, and the other only turned out to affect the math in the small way that crandles worked out.

I can't remember where, but I remember a big laugh being had about a year ago about some denialist type taking ratios of temperatures ... in Fahrenheit.  Neven's joke about Lucia ... I'll let him explain that one, but the conversation you were having with crandles was taking on a "Who's on First" flavor, and that is reminiscent of things at Lucia's Blackboard.  I laughed, but it was a little unfair because you were only trying to increase clarity.

43
Walking the walk / Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« on: March 26, 2013, 09:09:36 PM »
Great post Glenn.  I personally prefer the "meat as highlight" approach.  Indian cooking is another source of such meals.  My favorite curry contains chicken, but as a modest fraction of the entire meal.  And the spices, such wonderful spices!  There's lots of good vegetarian Indian food as well.  If you know people who think rice is bland, have them try basmati (brown or white - the brown has a pleasant nutty flavor of its own while the white has a airy flavor that goes very well with spices like cardamom, cumin, etc.)  Everyone should try white basmati with saffron at least once in their lives  :)

44
Rossi's E-CAT is a fraud.

45
Nah, that looks like last summer.

46
Very nice, Arcticio!

With that said
Quote
Many scientists choose Python as first language
Damn, I'm old.  Mine was Fortran77  :o

47
Policy and solutions / Re: A radical plan
« on: March 25, 2013, 03:41:40 AM »
My apologies also - the "we're going bankrupt" talk really did sound like the things said by those promoting government spending cuts in the face of a recession, but I see you weren't going there.

I hope you see what I'm getting at though - we have vast productive capability and we still have pretty vast natural capital, although we have certainly reduced/damaged it.  I agree that "borrowing from the future" is a perfectly good way to describe that.   If we retool our productive capability towards materials recycling and renewable energy, we can stop borrowing from the future.  That's my description of the deleveraging you mentioned.  I'm not advocating consuming our way out of our predicament.  Certainly a good fraction of the activity I am advocating would look like consumption (yay, new EV) but if the ICEV it replaces is fully recycled, it's not consumption in the bad sense.  If we are smart about what we build, we can maintain something like the modern western middle class lifestyle but at greatly reduced cost.  I should immediately explain that to me, "lifestyle" is not defined by consumption.  It's defined by experience.  I experience the same comfort as the previous owners of this house at half the energy cost because of the upgraded insulation and more efficient systems I've installed.  You're building a house where you should have zero energy cost.  I do consume food, and lots of it, but food production can be made sustainable (I know it isn't right now).  I guess what I'm arguing is that an intelligently planned steady-state economy can deliver as least as much "lifestyle" as the current one, through significant improvements to efficiency in the use of energy and materials, and the recycling of the latter.  There may be some reductions in available experiences like less red meat and no monster truck rallies, but overall life can be made better for the average person in that deleveraged future.

The path between here and there would involve a high degree of governmental activism, taxing, creating, spending and shuffling those little pieces of paper to get people to do the things I've described, but the actual pieces of paper don't matter.  In a bizarre hypothetical, imagine all those people are a hive mind following my plan.  Then they just do it without exchanging any little pieces of paper.  You're probably right that our current financial elite is just trying to get the next bubble going, but that doesn't discredit any particular financial tool.  The only bankruptcy we must really fear is drawing our natural capital down to zero.  I think we're in strong agreement that balancing that account is vitally important.  I'm just considerably more optimistic (and I think justifiably so, although it's difficult in this format to make a full argument) about what human lifestyle can look like in a world where we are no longer drawing down our natural capital.  I might be as pessimistic as you about our prospects of actually achieving my limited utopia though.  Our current plutocrats would rather burn civilization to the ground than give up their privileged place in it.

48
It could be an emergency stop-gap measure, but here are the problems.
1. The SO2 doesn't stay in the arctic.  It spreads out and impacts general northern hemisphere insolation, agriculture and rainfall patterns.  This has different effects on different countries and the ones most negatively affected sue (or worse) to stop it.  Could seriously lead to warfare.
2. The SO2 doesn't stay in the stratosphere.  It gets into the troposphere and hence rains out as H2SO4.  Ouch.
3.  As GHGs continue to accumulate, we'd be committing to ever-increasing costs (as above) from SO2.  Eventually it would be stopped for one reason or another, and then the whole arctic would melt out in a year or two.  (And we'd still have all that H2SO4.)  It reminds me of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There_Was_an_Old_Lady_Who_Swallowed_a_Fly

However, we could make a realistic estimate of the costs that the above would entail, and put a tax on carbon  to pay for it ... which would have the effect of taxing fossil fuels out of exisitence fast enough that we might not actually need to use the SO2 plan.   8)

49
Policy and solutions / Re: A radical plan
« on: March 24, 2013, 09:31:37 PM »
You're arguing with a straw man.  I never said new models every year for an ever larger marketplace.  On the latter, clearly we must achieve zero population growth (and realistically negative in the more crowded nations).  On the former, I was just reading yesterday about a significant change in attitudes regarding keeping cars longer.  So that's already changing.

I also never said there was a single issue or technology.  We need ZPG, deployment of several technologies, continued development of others, and ultimately a socioeconomic system geared towards equitable distribution of the fruits of a mainly steady-state economy rather than hoarding control over a growth-based economy.

While we're talking economics, your characterization of "the idea that we can somehow borrow (or print) our way out of bankruptcy" makes you sound like the idiots who think a national budget is like a family budget.  We are not bankrupt.  Human wealth is the total of what we can (sustainably) produce and what nature provides us.  Technically, that's income, with the wealth that generates that income being the infrastructure of production and the "natural capital" of the environment.  Paper money has been very, very useful, but don't mistake it for real wealth.  Over recent decades we have done real damage to our natural capital in the pursuit of stacks of paper.  We need to stop doing that damage, and order to do so, we're probably going to have to change some of the rules about the pieces of paper.  But we aren't bankrupt - we have a vast productive capacity and (luckly still) a lot of natural capital.  Completely ignoring the pieces of paper, we have the capability to feed and clothe everyone, and indeed for those in the developed world to continue living very good lives (although certain wasteful behaviors will need to change) while also lifting the global poor out of poverty (but as previously noted, only with ZPG or better).  Our problem is not "bankruptcy".  Our problem is that our policies are determined by ultra-privileged owners of banks and fossil fuel companies (amongst others) who want to keep their privilege and (e.g.) continue flitting between their international vacation homes by private jet.

50
The "neutral" term is isostatic adjustment.  Rebound has a historical implication of upward motion, so adjustment is the better term.  There doesn't seem to be a specific term for downward motion.  I suppose you could use isostatic subsidence, but negative isostatic adjustment would probably be more standard, if wordy.

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