Posts Tagged ‘Glacier’

Glacial Pace, Cool Lies, Melting Leadership

September 3, 2015

Obama went to Alaska and named Denali (the tall one in the local language) Denali. Denali, the tallest mountain that far north on Earth, is endowed with the tallest glaciated face anywhere on Earth, its north face being around 5,000 meters high (it had been named for a USA president who was killed by an anarchist, in those times when hatred for the mighty ran rampant).

Naming Denali by its name needed to be done, and, in Obama was up to the task. Obama is best at demolishing open doors, when not pursuing the world terror assassination campaign by drones which does not just dishonor the West, but saps its foundations. (I am not saying I am hysterically against assassinations, torture, and that every assassination ordered by Obama is unwise. But the question of due process, excellent information, and perfect targeting is crucial; moreover, having a plan beyond imposing terror is paramount; not the case here).

Obama Approaching A Glacier Which May Be Gone In 5 Years Thanks To His Affirmative Inaction

Obama Approaching A Glacier Which May Be Gone In 5 Years Thanks To His Affirmative Inaction

I personally have seen enormous glaciers which are now gone, both in Alaska, and in the Alps.

Obama uttered many truths in Alaska. We know this method: drowning reality under a torrent of little truths, and common place truisms. Obama seems to have realized that he was the did-nothing prez. This is better than Clinton, who, having deregulated the banks, was the did-terrible prez, or Bush II, viewed by a sizable part of the world as a war criminal, for his invasion and destabilization of Mesopotamia. Yet, even Bush did something good, and durable: Medicare Part D. One can forget a bad man who did a big, good thing. Obama just put a band aid on the gangrene of USA health care, and did preciously nothing about anthropogenic climate change.

At the Exit glacier, the president walked past signs that mark the year the glacier reached at that point. The glacier has receded two kilometers (1.25 mile) in the past 200 years. It is now the only glacier accessible by car and foot in the Kenai peninsula (which contains the largest icecap in the USA).

Pointing to the signs, the president considered the speed at which glacier retreats is accelerating. “It is spectacular, though,” glancing back at the view. “We want to make sure our grandkids can see it.”

This is slick disinformation. Grandkids? Are you kidding me? In truth, it’s absolutely certain that the grandkids will NOT see that glacier, except if the Obama daughters rush through the reproductive process. As I related in a preceding essay, a few years ago, I went back to Alaska, to show to my own toddler a giant glacier I remembered to be easily accessible by car and a little flat walk. I could not recognize the landscape: the glacier was completely gone, and had been replaced by tall trees. It was astounding. I was contemplating the same transformation of ice into trees this summer in the Alps. Going through a forest I had known as a formidable glacier.

Obama is a Harvard lawyer. People around him are politicians (often also with a legal background), financial types, more lawyers, banksters (real or potential), conspiracy consultants, managers, celebrities, etc. So it is with most politicians around the world. Those people have little education in physics. One does not even know if they understand the basics involved in pushing a car. Apparently, they don’t. Push hard on a car without the hand brake, and it will not move much, if at all.

Once I was in the Sierra Nevada, on a small road at 10,000 feet. California route 108, to be specific. Said road can get extremely windy and steep as it reaches Sonora Pass. It’s a trap: in the lower reaches route 108 is wide enough to accommodate the largest imaginable trucks. A truck driver armed with GPS had got his truck, a tractor-trailer, high enough to be unable to go back. Still hoping for the best, he forged ahead, until its giant vehicle was unable to take a hairpin, and, still hoping that brute force would solve everything, the driver succeeded to get completely across the road in two places, with many of its enormous wheels secured among very large boulders, both for the cab and the trailer. A large traffic jam ensued. As the closest imaginable rescue laid dozens of miles away, and going around, supposing one could back up, would require a detour of 200 kilometers (in the mountains!), it was time  to think creatively.

While dozens of people were milling around, I noticed an imaginable path, by displacing boulders, and filling some gaps with stones. It helped that we were close to timberline, and trees were few. Getting to work with my spouse, we soon cleared and engineered enough of the land to pass through. Other vehicles followed.

This little incident has nagged me for years: why did not the other drivers think about it? OK, my spouse and I have a maximal background in physics, but still, one is talking about basic common sense here. Why did no one else think of making a different road?

Obama’s road, and that of the other politicians, from Cameron to Hollande, let alone Putin, or Xi, is to say what sounds good (Merkel may be an exception; but then she is a physics PhD too). It sounds good to speak about the “grandkids”: Commandant Cousteau started that one: save the planet for the grandkids.

The ideas there are that the world ecology decays slowly under our assaults, and that it may be in our selfish interest to let it be, but nefarious within two generations. In other words: the future is slow.

Our great leaders, the supremacists of self-endowed selfishness, just don’t have enough of a feeling for physics to understand climate change (once again with the possible exception of physicist Merkel, who has engaged Germany on a one-way trip to renewable energy… in a cloud of coal dust).

INERTIA and MOMENTUM were discovered by Buridan a Fourteenth Century Parisian mathematician-physicist-philosopher-politician-academic (although the discovery is erroneously attributed to Newton, who blossomed 350 years later). Buridan had a gigantic following of students, including Albert of Saxony, Oresme, the Oxford Calculators. Those students used graphs (a world’s first), and demonstrated non-trivial theorems of calculus.

Somehow, Aristotelian physics was as wrong as possible about dynamics. Aristotle and his clownish parrots believed that one needed a force to persist with motion, completely ignoring air resistance. Aristotle should have ridden a horse at a full gallop, and discover air resistance. If one believes in Aristotelian physics, there is no problem with the climate: just reduce the CO2, and the climate changes comes to a halt. Apparently our great leaders are at this level of education.

Buridan gave the formula for momentum (which he called impetus): (MASS) X (VELOCITY). Given a constant force, impetus would augment proportionally to speed. This is what came to be called “Newton’s Second Law.

At this point human modification of the atmosphere, from stuffing it with CO2 and other gases, has made the lower atmosphere into a thicker blanket, imprisoning heat close to the ground. This is applying a constant heating force (aka thermal forcing) to the ground and the ocean, both of which are heating at increasing depth.

The climate is the largest object, so far, on which humanity has applied force. The force applied is immense, the greatest force which humanity has ever exerted. Yet, because the climate is so massive, it takes much time to accelerate: the variation of climate change is low.

Pushing the climate hard is similar, but much worse, than pushing an enormous object, say a truck: initially, it does not move. But when it does, it’s suicidal to try to stop it by standing in front.

Can we stop applying the force? No. Not within existing technology. We cannot extract the excess CO2 in the atmosphere. Making plants grow to absorb the CO2 cannot work. First, recent studies on the Amazon show that present vegetation is not adapted to the present density of CO2. It grows faster, but then dies faster. Second, and most importantly, the mathematics don’t work.

1ppm ~ 2 Gt. 3 ppm: 6 Gt. Total CO2 atmosphere: 750 Gt. So CO2 augments by roughly 1% a year. Yet, total anthropogenic emissions are at least 35 Gt, and perhaps as much as 50Gt (a number I consider correct). So most of the CO2 from burning fossils disappears (probably in the ocean, where the reserves are of the order of 40,000 Gt; thus we are augmenting total carbon storage there by 1% in ten years; not dramatic, but the CO2 converts in carbonic acid, and the acidity is going up).

In any case the excess carbon we send in the atmosphere is of the order of 7% of the total carbon in the atmosphere. We cannot neutralize this by growing plants: that would require to grow the biomass by 50Gt a year, 50 billion tons a year, year after year. A grotesque proposal.

Do the math, ignorant leaders! Shoot, I forgot you had no math at school, beyond the basics, except for Merkel; the total annual primary production of biomass is just over 100 billion tonnes Carbon per year. However, because the biosphere was balanced until the massive extraction and burning of fossils, in the last 150 years, as much was being destroyed (through burial). Now we are talking about creating 50 billion tons of biomass a year. Where are we going to put them? On brand new, specially built mountains sized skyscrapers? (Don’t laugh, it’s the future.)

Even then, supposing we could miraculously stop the augmentation of concentration of CO2, under the present anthropogenic gazes concentration (around 450 ppm), we are well above the stage where all ice melts from the Arctic. So that is going to happen. In turn it will release further presently still frozen carbon storage, making it a increasingly non-linear augmentation (of the catastrophe).

There is exactly one method that will stop the greenhouse madness, and it’s the simplest. Talking to no end about complicated schemes is diabolical, as even the Pope pointed out.

Our present leaders will be judged severely by history. Not only they are dinosaurs, but they make sure that we are going back to the Jurassic all too soon.

Patrice Ayme’

Antarctica’s Glaciers Disintegrating

May 14, 2014

Unstoppable Retreat Of Glacial Antarctica Officially Launched:

Two independent teams working differently arrived to similar conclusions about the main glaciers plunging in Antarctica’s Amundsen Sea next to the Pines Island Glacier (PIG) (see map below).

Modelling and radar data from Amundsen Sea suggest current melting will run away.

This has to be put in the context that, as far as official science was concerned, this was not supposed to happen. A completely independent agent such as yours truly predicted this many years ago, and incredibly much worse, because of a confluence of very precise reasons.

Don't Worry, Be Happy: Catastrophe Ineluctable, And Soon

Don’t Worry, Be Happy: Catastrophe Ineluctable, And Soon

Pine Island Glacier covers about 160,000 square kilometers, about two-thirds the area of Great Britain. Just one glacier.

Like the Thwaites, Smith, Haynes, Pope, Smith and Kohler Glaciers in this region – the PIG has been thinning and retreating rapidly. The Twaithes is much larger than PIG.

Joughin’s team found that Twaithes glacier’s grounding line — the border between sections of ice that float on the sea and sections that rest on the bedrock — currently sits about 600 meters below sea level (2,000 feet!). But 60 to 80 kilometers inland, the bedrock topography under the glacier drops to more than 1.2 kilometer below sea level!

When the grounding line reaches that inward-sloping basin, the glacier’s retreat will speed up dramatically, Joughin’s team calculates (I have explained the same phenomenon will happen in giant basins of East Antarctica in “Sun Cooling, Ice Melting“).

The reason for this is that two degree Celsius water is denser than colder water (!), and will slip below the ice. That will happen in a matter of centuries, the team suggested (to please the higher-ups).

The team has, of course, to suggest total melting would take centuries, otherwise it would irritate the powers that be, and, thus, the financing of the entire field.

These scientists have to earn a living, feed their families, bask in successful careers. They have comfortable houses, cars… They sell not just science, but hope. As the great mathematician Gregory Perelman, who solved the Soul, Thurston and Poincare’ conjectures, among other things, said, about American mathematics:

It’s possible to sell a theorem and it’s possible to buy it. Even if you don’t have anything to do with it.”

(Perelman was talking about a few dozen top mathematicians that I personally knew for years, before getting as disgusted by their dishonesty, not to say viciousness, as he later would be!)

If that intrusion of the lowest human traits happens in math, it’s worse in much more money oriented fields. Such as the confluence of the fossil fuel plutocracy and climate science (typical representative of fossil burn plutocracy: Vlad Putin.)

This buying and selling of theorems is exemplary of the problem of mixing power, politics and money, as is the case in the mightiest “private” or “public” universities in the USA (and wherever the American university system is imitated). I am NOT saying that the system these universities (Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, pseudo-public Berkeley, etc.) represent is to be condemned and eradicated like RasPutin, just that it needs to be taken for what it is: a plutophile system.

Plutophilia needs to be counterbalanced by the love of wisdom. (Thus a true public university system ought to be preserved.)

In the case of these glaciers, wisdom consists into realizing that considering that it will take centuries for these glaciers to melt, is wishful thinking. The evidence, both factual and theoretical, points the other way.

Grounding lines determined by radar from now defunct European satellites were found in some cases to retreat by more than one kilometer per year.

Radar data show that the Pine Island Glacier retreated by 31 kilometers between 1992 and 2011. It retreated fastest between 2005 and 2009.

Rignot’s team found no underlying ridge that could potentially slow the retreat, for any of the glaciers studied.“These systems, whether Greenland or Antarctica, are changing on faster timescales than we expected. We are kind of rediscovering that every day,” says Rignot.

Telling us that it will take at most centuries to melt those glaciers is exactly the sort of politeness that authorities and the plutocrats who have elected (“financed”) them would expect.

Actually Observing Glaciers Thinning

Actually Observing Glaciers Thinning

Yet, is that science? Indeed, how do they know it will take centuries? Well, they roll out “models” that are as good as what they put inside them, and no better. Let’s reason a bit.

Why will the glaciers melt ever faster? The glaciers will melt ever faster because their cold bellies rest on what would be the new ocean bottom after enough warm sea water has insinuated itself below.

The seas are warming up around Antarctica, because wind speeds have augmented, augmenting the up-welling, another of these run-about effects from global warming. Around Antarctica, surface waters are colder than those in the depths. Wind speed have augmented because of my (six year old) generalization of the Equipartition of Energy Theorem that rules the climate (and also all of thermodynamics!).

Such phenomena as the warming of the underbellies of ice sheets by sea water, tend to be exponential, not linear. And we have the proof: the Hudson Bay, now a sea, transformed itself from ice shield to ocean in a few decades. That, in turn, made the Mediterranean spill catastrophically into the fertile Black Sea area, flooding there around 100,000 square kilometers in no more than 30 years. (That gave the legend of Noah’s Ark.)

Notice that retreating over a continent at one kilometer per year (the speed of the Labrador-Quebec Laurentide ice sheet disintegration), is probably slower by orders of magnitudes to that a sub-oceanic margin. The “forcing” at the time was caused by more insolation, 8,200 years ago (from more sun in July-August then). Now, though, the situation is worse as the “forcing” is from a low lying blanket of man-made greenhouse gases (so, instead of warming equally the entire atmosphere, the greenhouse concentrates the warming at low altitudes, say below 8,000 meters; the stratosphere is actually cooling!).

It was already known, in 1990, that the disintegration of the gigantic Laurentide ice sheet centered around Hudson Bay took no more than 4 centuries. (That ice sheet used to be more than 3,000 meters thick, being the world’s largest, 20,000 years ago).

It boils down to this: is it wiser to risk underestimating the speed of melting of these glaciers, or is it wiser to risk overestimating said speed? Obviously, for those who are anxious to please their masters who feed them, it’s wiser to say there will be a problem, but only in a generation or two.

For those who don’t want to risk the biosphere we know, it’s much wiser to consider the worst possible case. Remember inertia: short of astronomical objects, the system with the most inertia is the biosphere itself. That’s a system that has been capable of maintaining the planet’s temperature within fifteen degrees (Celsius) of the present temperature for more than three billion years. It has enormous inertia. However, our stupid obstinacy to burn all the carbon we can find has definitively got that enormous system to start moving.

We imparted acceleration to the biosphere. We are pushing the biosphere around. And we know that the force we are applying is only augmenting. That means the acceleration, and even more the speed of the change, is going to get worse quick. That’s basic dynamics, first quarter of undergraduate physics.

Of course, neither the leaders of France, Great Britain, or the USA has taken such a course: they are basically ignoramuses at the helm (and Angela Merkel, who knows plenty of physics, made a risky bet she seems to be losing).

Clearly, we should instead apply the brakes to the maximum (instead of flooring the accelerator). What would be the price of this cautious? None, for common people: hard work to de-carbonize the world economy would require dozens of millions to be employed that way, in the West alone.

That, of course, is a scary thought for plutocrats, who much prefer us unemployed, impotent, and despondent.

Patrice Aymé