Archive for the ‘Atmosphere’ Category

Sea Level Rise Accelerating: A Nonlinear Consequence Of CO2 Rise

October 8, 2019

The CO2 catastrophe will entail all sorts of nonlinear reactions from nature. An example is Sea Level Rise, which is accelerating faster than so-called “experts” expected. So forests are dying: 

The New York Times describes the “Ghosts Forests” of the East Coast of the US, as sea level goes up there at the alarming clip of 5 millimeter per year. The reason for that accelerated rise was long predicated by those who understand climate nonlinearity better: as Greenland melts, its cold, sweet, lighter waters act as a lid on top of the Gulf Stream, and tend to make it back up. (Sweet Swede Greta Thunberg mentioned several nonlinear effects at the UN. That makes that 16 year old child more significantly cognizant than the top climate panel, the IPCC… of a couple of years ago; IPCC took linearity more seriously only this year. They should have read yours truly, a decade ago….)

It is nearly amusing how the soporific forecasts of the scientific community clash with reality: Greenland’s ice sheet lost 55 billion tons of water over five days in July and August — enough to cover the state of Florida in almost 5 inches of water. Nearly all of Greenland was melting over those days, as the heat wave which made Paris reach 43.6 Centigrades (108F) hit the world’s largest island. That water is not coming back as ice ever again. 

Such a rate of melting was not expected by (government fed) specialists, at least officially, for another 50 years… Overall, Greenland ice sheet lost last summer the equivalent of a cube of ice five kilometers on its side (contributing directly one millimeter of sea level rise). But these are early days (Antarctica is not yet melting.) 

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NYT: “As Sea Levels Rise, So Do Ghost Forests:

Up and down the mid-Atlantic coast, sea levels are rising rapidly, creating stands of dead trees — often bleached, sometimes blackened — known as ghost forests… Rising seas often conjure the threat to faraway, low-lying nations or island-states. But to understand the immediate consequences of some of the most rapid sea-level rise anywhere in the world, stand among the scraggly, dying pines of Dorchester County along the Maryland coast… People living on the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay, the country’s largest estuary system, have a front-row view of the sea’s rapid advance, said Keryn Gedan, a wetland ecologist at George Washington University. Part of the reason for the quickly rising waters may be that the Gulf Stream, which flows northward up the coast, is slowing down as meltwater from Greenland inhibits its flow. That is causing what some scientists describe as a pileup of water along the East Coast, elevating sea levels locally…. The Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, where Dr. Gedan does research, lost 3,000 acres of forest and agricultural land between 1938 and 2006. More than 5,000 acres of marsh became open water.

The New York Times noted that the cities along the East Coast, some of them historically African-American, are too poor to do as the Dutch do, and build dikes. Well, OK, they have dikes, but we have plutocrats: can’t have everything… They can admire their dikes,  we can admire our plutocrats, and those wonderful millionaire athletes with thighs in tights.

“The Atlantic white cedar, abundant around the Mullica River Estuary in stands such as this one, is an unusually durable parchment on which to capture that history. Long prized for lumber, its wood is highly resistant to rot. But the tree is also very sensitive to salt. It can tolerate maybe three salty high tides before succumbing. So when the trees begin dying, it’s a trustworthy indicator that conditions are becoming more saline. It is an age-old phenomenon, now happening faster. Erosion of marshes and riverbanks has also accelerated, revealing buried cedar stumps from prehistoric ghost forests. Jennifer Walker, a frequent collaborator with Dr. Able who recently earned her Ph.D. in oceanography at Rutgers, dated one stump here to the fifth century. “Cedar cemeteries,” she calls these places.”

Many of those paid by the dominant fossil fuel industry produce doctored temperature graphs, and they actually dominate the Internet (hey, as they steal the planet, they have all the money in the world to buy themselves mouthpieces of all sorts, including scientists). The graph above is the truth. The drought around 33 centuries ago caused the collapse of all ancient Mediterranean-Near East civilizations… except for Egypt, which barely survived what Pharaoh Ramses III called the “People of the Sea Conspiracy”. So a tremendous drought, quakes, etc. caused a chain of events bringing the Bronze Age collapse (we know this from archaeology, Hittites-Egyptian correspondence, etc…). BTW, we are already at 1,1 degree Centigrade of temperature rise, higher by 30% than in the red line above…

Cedars died from salt water intrusions after centuries of a warm spell, centered around 2,000 years ago, and which ended abruptly, stressing hard Greco-Roman civilization: that Roman climate optimum occurred naturally, from Earth’s orbital mechanics. Although its end was brutal, temperature-wise, its onset was gradual, and consequences enfolded even after it passed away: so these “Cedar cemeteries’ happened, close to the end of the warm climate, showing how much inertia the climate has. After many centuries, the ongoing warming made glaciers melt, and recess, including in Greenland. So the same phenomenon was at work in Chesapeake Bay as now. However, right now the warming is from a tremendous rise in CO2, not seen in millions of years. 

Similarly, although the present warming is extremely rapid, its most dreadful consequences are slow to appear: a lot of inertia is found in the climate system. Even if we stopped right away the CO2 emissions, the consequences of the present rise of CO2 would be increasingly felt for centuries (absent science fiction terra forming technologies which we do not have… yet) In other words, the nonlinear effects are starting, and we will not be capable of stopping them. And they will accelerate. 

The collapse of the Ross ice shelf in Antarctica is, for example, guaranteed: it happened around 400,000 years ago, in colder conditions than the ones we are going to reach within decades, at most (its disappearance was discovered in 2019). That particular collapse will rise sea levels 3.3 meters. But other ice formations are even more worrisome. The humongously giant ice basins in East Antarctica, such as the Aurora and Wilkes basins, are threatened too: their delicate margins are at low latitudes, close to the Antarctic circle, their bottom more than a mile below sea level. They could melt in a matter of decades (as happened to Hudson Bay at the end of the last glaciation). reading this, well paid professional specialists will feel forced to publicly chuckle, and pontificate it would take centuries of warm water. They are paid to sustain the life of their pay master, the fossil fuel economy. Only this way are they to be taken seriously, and puff their lustrous feathers, like well fed pigeons.

Conventional climate science is in denial about the imminent collapse into the sea of much of Antarctica, as professionals don’t want to sound too alarmist, lest they lose their jobs.

That’s why there are philosophers, and they live in barrels: to tell the truth.

Patrice Ayme

Greta The Child, And Growth, The Way

September 23, 2019

Hmmm… Greta went to the United Nations. I agree with her tone and her mood. However, as she said, she should be back at school… my school. Her attacks against growth and technology are as intelligent as hitting one’s head on a wall to escape a prison, instead of going through the open door, just on the right.

Indeed solutions to the CO2 crisis, or, more exactly, catastrophe, exists, right now… But powerful fossil fuel interests and fake ecologists enabling them, have prevented to grab those solutions.

Greta says the best thing to do is “INFORM YOURSELF” (right) and “DEMOCRACY” (but that has to be really understood, what the concept of democracy is). Well, I am informed: hydrogen, nuclear, photovoltaics, and… referenda…

Greta Thunberg to “world leaders” accusing them of “your betrayal”:

“My message is that we’ll be watching you.

“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!

“For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.

“You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.

“The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees [Celsius], and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control.

“So a 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us — we who have to live with the consequences.

“To have a 67% chance of staying below a 1.5 degrees global temperature rise – the best odds given by the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] – the world had 420 gigatons of CO2 left to emit back on Jan. 1st, 2018. Today that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatons.

“How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just ‘business as usual’ and some technical solutions? With today’s emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone within less than 8 1/2 years.

“There will not be any solutions or plans presented in line with these figures here today, because these numbers are too uncomfortable. And you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is.

“You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.

“We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.

“Thank you.”

4,000 fourth generation, or Thorium nuclear reactors could produce all of the world’s electricity, and plenty enough “green” hydrogen to operate hydrogen trains (yes, those exist, they are made by French company Alstom, and are being deployed in Germany: they produce only water) hydrogen ships, too, etc. [1]

There are no technology to suck up CO2, this side of thermonuclear terraforming reactors… aside from big old trees, sequoia style…

A cocktail of hydrogen, photovoltaics and nuclear, all of them existing technologies could solve the CO2 crisis 100% (modulo a number of political reasons).

Greta Thunberg “refuses to believe” our leaders are “evil”. Why? So she can socialize with them some more, and feel good so doing? Why does she think they are leaders, like Greek tyrants of old? If not perverted by greed for power? She is angry against the creeps, but then she says they aren’t evil… But, once again, all these solutions could have been implemented 20 years ago. They were not, out of sheer perversion. When looking at political leaders, one looks at perversion, most of the time, so history tells us.

Instead what? Germany decided to shut down nuclear power, while opening lignite coal, full throttle. But, don’t worry, said those fools, we will put a windmill in every backyard.

Except windmills, 200 meters tall (700 feet), are noisy, unsightly, and kill birds… So now in parts of Germany, after huge protests, those monstrous installations turn only at slow speed in the day, to spare the birds… supposing they allow to let people sleep… So, yes, wind doesn’t work well, but photovoltaics, in combination with hydrogen or ammonia, for storage, works splendidly… At low or medium latitudes…

“… fairy tales of eternal economic growth” Greta says, making growth sounds tumoral, or like the Nazi extermination program… Well, we are going to Mars, preferably with nuclear rockets… What about that? We need to spread the growth out of our primary spaceship, Earth. So doing we will learn spaceship ecological tricks we can back apply to our main starship, Earth. Once we learn how to live in lava tube on the Moon, or Mars, the rest should be easy….

We need to grow out of this…

Lao Tseu and others tried to look for “the way”. Amusingly, this CO2 catastrophe shows us the way, the one and only way: more and better tech and wisdom!

Patrice Ayme

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[1] Advanced tech would enable us to make nuclear reactors which can’t be weaponized (Thorium), or with little waste (Thorium again, but also fourth generation reactors), or even ways to destroy nuclear waste (using thermonuclear torches)… The gross propaganda against nuclear is fossil fuels in disguise… This doesn’t mean I support second generation, weaponizable nuclear reactors: I don’t.

EARTH OUT OF OXYGEN: 1) Basic Reasoning, Objection From Atmospheric Scientist

September 2, 2019

Yes, we can run out of oxygen. When they burned the Jews, nobody came: they were not Jews, after all, and had never heard of such a thing. Now they, the same suspects, superficiality, small-mindedness, greed, idiocy, ignorance, sheer viciousness, brutishness, and madness of the crowds, burn the planet’s atmosphere. Will somebody come?

This is an extension, an update, of what I already explained more than six years ago:

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/global-hypoxia/

My basic theory, in a nutshell: Increased heat and drought caused by the augmentation of CO2 launched a holocaust of primary forests, worldwide, that, in turn feeds the rise of acidity of the oceans, killing the phytoplankton. So yes, should CO2 keep on rising, the biosphere will run out of oxygen!

CAN WE RUN OUT OF OXYGEN? YES, OF COURSE! AS THE BIOSPHERE COLLAPSES, we don’t expect any less!

Philosophy is what happens when one thinks hard about the foundations. 

Civilization class philosophy is vastly superior to all the thinking done before, because before knowing (that’s called science), one has to guess what there is to know (finding out what is more significant in the morass of possible knowledge)

Foundation thinking often reveals we don’t know enough to have the deep foundations usually assumed. French President Macron went all out for the burning forests, in Siberia, Amazonia, Indonesia and Sub-Saharan Africa, burning to an extent never seen before, and I thank him for it. This unprecedented holocaust (holo-caust means all-burn in Greek) is one more step in the desertification caused by man. 

“Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rainforest – the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire,” Macron wrote in a tweetIt is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let’s discuss this emergency first order in two days!” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres reinforced the oxygen message, August 22, 2019: I’m deeply concerned by the fires in the Amazon rainforest. In the midst of the global climate crisis, we cannot afford more damage to a major source of oxygen and biodiversity. The Amazon must be protected.”

However articles sprouted all over, from US scientists insisting in the world media that French president Macron got it wrong, and that, whatever we did, we will not run out of oxygen. My first reaction was that those scientists are either feeble minded, or liars: we can run out of oxygen, thanks to the likes of the Amazon burning. 

At first, such scientists reminded me of Nazi scientists claiming under the Third Reich that nothing wrong could possibly happen with Nazism, or with the Jews.

We have not thought hard enough about the foundations in the matter of climate.

Some US scientists have even claimed that forests, as a system, actually produce no oxygen. Here is below what Dr. Scott Denning, Professor of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University says. Before I quote his entire article in The Conversation, let me point out that I do not disagree with the science he exposes, just his conclusion. This will be explained in my next essay, and Professor Denning’s kind answer:

Professor Scott Denning:

“Amazon fires are destructive, but they aren’t depleting Earth’s oxygen supply

26 août 2019

Fires in the Amazon rainforest have captured attention worldwide in recent days. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who took office in 2019, pledged in his campaign to reduce environmental protection and increase agricultural development in the Amazon, and he appears to have followed through on that promise.

The resurgence of forest clearing in the Amazon, which had decreased more than 80% following a peak in 2004, is alarming for many reasons. Tropical forests harbor many species of plants and animals found nowhere else. They are important refuges for indigenous people, and contain enormous stores of carbon as wood and other organic matter that would otherwise contribute to the climate crisis.

Some media accounts have suggested that fires in the Amazon also threaten the atmospheric oxygen that we breathe. French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted on Aug. 22 that “the Amazon rainforest – the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire.”

The oft-repeated claim that the Amazon rainforest produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen is based on a misunderstanding. In fact nearly all of Earth’s breathable oxygen originated in the oceans, and there is enough of it to last for millions of years. There are many reasons to be appalled by this year’s Amazon fires, but depleting Earth’s oxygen supply is not one of them.

Oxygen from plants

As an atmospheric scientist, much of my work focuses on exchanges of various gases between Earth’s surface and the atmosphere. Many elements, including oxygen, constantly cycle between land-based ecosystems, the oceans and the atmosphere in ways that can be measured and quantified.

Nearly all free oxygen in the air is produced by plants through photosynthesis. About one-third of land photosynthesis occurs in tropical forests, the largest of which is located in the Amazon Basin.

But virtually all of the oxygen produced by photosynthesis each year is consumed by living organisms and fires. Trees constantly shed dead leaves, twigs, roots and other litter, which feeds a rich ecosystem of organisms, mostly insects and microbes. The microbes consume oxygen in that process.

Forest plants produce lots of oxygen, and forest microbes consume a lot of oxygen. As a result, net production of oxygen by forests – and indeed, all land plants – is very close to zero.

There are four main reservoirs of oxygen on Earth: the terrestrial biosphere (green), marine biosphere (blue), lithosphere (Earth’s crust, brown), and atmosphere (grey). Colored arrows show fluxes between these reservoirs. Burial of organic material causes a net increase in atmospheric oxygen, and reactions with minerals in rocks cause a net decrease. Pengxiao Xu/Wikimedia, CC BY-SA

Oxygen production in the oceans

For oxygen to accumulate in the air, some of the organic matter that plants produce through photosynthesis must be removed from circulation before it can be consumed. Usually this happens when it is rapidly buried in places without oxygen – most commonly in deep sea mud, under waters that have already been depleted of oxygen.

This happens in areas of the ocean where high levels of nutrients fertilize large blooms of algae. Dead algae and other detritus sink into dark waters, where microbes feed on it. Like their counterparts on land, they consume oxygen to do this, depleting it from the water around them.

Below depths where microbes have stripped waters of oxygen, leftover organic matter falls to the ocean floor and is buried there. Oxygen that the algae produced at the surface as it grew remains in the air because it is not consumed by decomposers.

Tiny phytoplankton in the ocean generate half of the oxygen produced on Earth.

This buried plant matter at the bottom of the ocean is the source of oil and gas. A smaller amount of plant matter gets buried in oxygen-free conditions on land, mostly in peat bogs where the water table prevents microbial decomposition. This is the source material for coal.

Only a tiny fraction – perhaps 0.0001% – of global photosynthesis is diverted by burial in this way, and thus adds to atmospheric oxygen. But over millions of years, the residual oxygen left by this tiny imbalance between growth and decomposition has accumulated to form the reservoir of breathable oxygen on which all animal life depends. It has hovered around 21% of the volume of the atmosphere for millions of years.

Some of this oxygen returns to the planet’s surface through chemical reactions with metals, sulfur and other compounds in Earth’s crust. For example, when iron is exposed to air in the presence of water, it reacts with oxygen in the air to form iron oxide, a compound commonly known as rust. This process, which is called oxidation, helps regulate oxygen levels in the atmosphere.

Don’t hold your breath

Even though plant photosynthesis is ultimately responsible for breathable oxygen, only a vanishingly tiny fraction of that plant growth actually adds to the store of oxygen in the air. Even if all organic matter on Earth were burned at once, less than 1% of the world’s oxygen would be consumed.

In sum, Brazil’s reversal on protecting the Amazon does not meaningfully threaten atmospheric oxygen. Even a huge increase in forest fires would produce changes in oxygen that are difficult to measure. There’s enough oxygen in the air to last for millions of years, and the amount is set by geology rather than land use. The fact that this upsurge in deforestation threatens some of the most biodiverse and carbon-rich landscapes on Earth is reason enough to oppose it.

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[I beg to differ: actually I have a master reason to believe we do NOT have “millions of years” of oxygen (next essay). Hint: permafrost!]

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Well, thanks, professor Denning (from the prestigious U of C at Boulder. That university got several Nobels in physics, is located next to the delightful Flatiron/Green Mountain park, where I have climbed and unwittingly charged a very large mountain lion which was stalking (long story). I was actually going to NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) when that happened… My spouse was doing there hard core programming on Sun Atmospherics. All this to say Denning is coming from what maybe the most qualified place in atmospheric matters!

However, as I will explain in the next essay, the very science professor Denning unfolded above leads me to the opposite conclusion from the one he draws.

Another point, see P/S below: up to very recently, it was viewed that forests (now burning) produced HALF of the planet’s oxygen. Professor Denning says: not so (well, OK, he is the specialist, he should know better… but I am curious to see the science…) In particular, up to very recently, the scientific literature widely quoted the Amazon as producing 20% of the world oxygen. It’s only very recently that US scientists (not just professor Denning!) changed their music. Is it that they heard that they better change their tune, should they want to be financed some more by the Trump administration, the fossil fuel plutocracy, or its delegates, surrogates and agents? Anyway, the P/S below shows what used to be the official science…

Another point is that an easy computation shows the atmosphere contains around 10^15 tons of oxygen. So some anti-Macron, and anti-panic about oxygen have argued we have millions of years of oxygen to consume, even if production stops. As I will show in the next essay, not so! Indeed, that simplicity overlooks an entire dimension. It may be frozen, but it’s all the more potent as it will come alive, all putrescent, rotting and belching all over: permafrost. 2.5 million years of it, no less! Glaciations may have help foster humanity, by creating new, exotic and demanding ecological niches which favored greater intelligence. By receding now, ice and climate change will require more creativity than ever… And better science.

Patrice Ayme

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P/S:

The following tables offer estimates of oxygen cycle reservoir capacities and fluxes… before the latest science professor Denning says is true…. Latest science which basically says it’s OK to destroy the forests, as far as oxygen production is concerned!!!!!!!!!!! (I don’t believe it, and I have a counter-reasoning, destroying professor Denning conclusion above… with his own logic!) These numbers below were taken for granted until very recently, and are based primarily on estimates from Walker, J. C. G.:[10]… 

Such numbers below were what Macron and Gutierrez based their O2 claims on…

Reservoir Capacity

(kg O2)

Flux in/out

(kg O2 per year)

Residence time

(years)

Atmosphere 1.4×1018 3×1014 4500
Biosphere 1.6×1016 3×1014 50
Lithosphere 2.9×1020 6×1011 500000000

 

Table 2: Annual gain and loss of atmospheric oxygen (Units of 1010 kg O2 per year)[1]

Photosynthesis (land)

Photosynthesis (ocean)

Photolysis of N2O

Photolysis of H2O

16,500

13,500

1.3

0.03

Total gains ~ 30,000
Losses – respiration and decay
Aerobic respiration

Microbial oxidation

Combustion of fossil fuel (anthropogenic)

Photochemical oxidation

Fixation of N2 by lightning

Fixation of N2 by industry (anthropogenic)

Oxidation of volcanic gases

23,000

5,100

1,200

600

12

10

5

Losses – weathering
Chemical weathering

Surface reaction of O3

50

12

Total losses ~ 30,000

Hint on the hidden O2 catastrophe: The mass of the biosphere: of the order of 4x(10^12) tons. Prof Denning says it can absorb all O2. OK. Indeed, notice microbial oxidation.

Suppose it all dies.

Not enough? Well, think a bit about all what got frozen during the last 2.5 million years of glaciation: the bill is coming due…

PA