Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hot Times

NOAA, in their conference call to discuss weather in November, put down a pretty strong marker that 2014 is going to be the hottest year on record.   It's actually a proposition, and Eli is not one to want an ear full of cider, so the Bunny recommends going out there and putting a few cans of shinola on it with your friendly local climate change deniers, whom, as every lagomorph knows can't tell shit from shinola.

Anyhow, Jake Crouch from NOAA points out that right now we are at the 6th warmest land temperature anomaly of 1.71 oF (don't you just hate, hate customary units, but it is the US) for Jan - November and the record warmest ocean temperature anomaly of 1.03 oF.  This, since the oceans are about 2/3 of the surface, makes for the warmest Jan-Nov period with an anomaly of 1.22 oF.

About the only places that are cool are eastern North America and the tip of South America.

Based on the NOAA record, for 2014 NOT to be the warmest ever, December would have to be the 21st coolest December on file.

However, since the oceans have a ginourmous thermal inertia, and it is the warmth in the oceans that is driving the record temperatures, that is, not very likely, as in bet that it won't happen.

Another part of the briefing dealt with the issue of whether an El Nino is developing in the Pacific, and the answer was, who knows, driven mostly by the observation that the whole damn tropical Pacific is hot, there is no gradient between the western and eastern parts to drive the trade winds.  This may indeed be a Strange New Climate with the heat from the oceans just rising to the surface, not your fathers kid.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Purposeful Avoidance of the Truth Is Sufficient to Establish Actual Malice

So Eli hied hisself down the DC Court of Appeals and picked up a copy of the oral argument in CEI and National Review vs. Michael Mann.  Having a new toy, the Bunny is now pleased to present a piece from Michael Mann's attorney, John Williams, somewhat in response to what was written at National Review on line by Charles Cooke

Judge Easterly, meanwhile, wanted to know how the plaintiffs could demonstrate “actual malice” if the defendants “genuinely” believe that “[man-made] climate change is a hoax.” “We don’t have to get to the question of whether climate change is real to look at the accusations,” Williams shot back. This did not seem to convince. “You need clear and convincing evidence for malice,” Easterly said. Simply stating that your critics disagree with you is insufficient. 
This description has caused great rejoicing amongst the Steyn Simberg crowd, but maybe no


As to what Eli thinks is going to happen, well, as National Law Journal points out, the court has to figure out if they are going to allow immediate appeals of SLAPP suit rulings, 
In May, the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled that an anonymous Wikipedia editor could appeal a judge's order denying a special motion to quash a subpoena for his identity. In that case, local attorney Susan Burke sued the editor over information posted on her Wikipedia page that she argued was defamatory. Judge Catharine Easterly (at left), one of the judges hearing Mann's case, wrote the opinion.

Lawyers for the defendants sued by Mann pointed to Burke's case in arguing that the court should allow immediate appeals for denials of special motions to dismiss. The D.C. government has supported that interpretation of the law. 
As the federal and local courts sort out the practical realities of the anti-SLAPP statute, cases testing the law continue to trickle up. On the heels of the Mann case in the D.C. Court of Appeals is a defamation lawsuit filed by a local doctor against a former patient who wrote a negative review on Yelp. A judge partially granted a motion to dismiss under the anti-SLAPP law. The case is being briefed.
So probably yes, immediate appeals will be allowed, but to avoid being snowed under, they are going to have to define the grounds for dismissing under the SLAPP law in detail.  Given that, the court will, IEHO and EINAL, either affirm the ruling of the court below, or set out clear rules and toss it back.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

We Have Not Inherited the Earth From Our Ancestors, We Are Stealing It From Our Children

Kate Sheppard writes at the Huff Post about the destruction of Shishmaref

Eight years ago the bunnies  read about how this Alaskan village on the shores of the Chukchi Sea is being devoured by climate change.  Indeed, in 2007 the AAAS even made a video about how it was the canary in the coal mine, a precursor to the fate of nations and this was featured at their annual meeting

As early as 2002, it was clear that the village was doomed and plans were drawn up to move to the mainland, but alas, the plans required money, and as Kate Sheppard writes, they required a site that was also not subject to climate change
Within a couple of years, however, the plan to move to Tin Creek fell apart. Subsequent feasibility studies revealed problems with the site. It too sits on permafrost -- which, in a melting Arctic, likely means that its days as a suitable location are also numbered. The town had to select a different location.
and the plan also required a couple of hundred million dollars, for a small village, with a small population, in the middle of nowhere.

So, Eli has a question.  How can our civilization adapt to climate change if we cannot even save a small village?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Shoving the Overton Window Towards Reality

Aaron Sorkin, creator and maybe most everything else of the HBO series Newsroom has groked Richard Alley, who of very anodyne hearings on climate change said:

This is certainly not both sides. If you want both sides, we would have to have somebody in here screaming a conniption fit on the red end, because you are hearing a very optimistic side
Sorkin has given use a useful reading of the red side, and yes the vision is deeply troubling. Improbable at this time, but not as improbable as the fantasies of climate change deniers.  Below  a small clip from the show


You can view the entire scene on YouTube

Randy Malamud at the Huff Post says we really are in the end times, Dave Roberts at Grist more or less concern trolls the show, and Eli, Eli is with Ugo Bardi, at Cassandra's Legacy who points out that
So, we have always been careful to follow the instructions: avoid scaring people, avoid looking like scaremongers, avoid even hinting that things may be worse, much worse than anyone could imagine. We have been careful to end all warnings with a list of solutions; saying that, sure, it looks bad, but the problem will go away if you just insulate your home, buy a smaller car, and turn off the lights when you leave a room. What we need is just a little bit of good will.

To no avail: the climate problem is still there, bigger and more fearsome everyday. Nothing changes, nothing moves, nothing. Nothing even remotely comparable to the scale of the threat. And, sometimes, you feel that you have had enough; you feel like screaming that this is NOT a problem you can solve with double-paned windows and smaller cars; it is NOT a problem for the next century; it is NOT a problem for another generation, It is here, it is now, it is big, it is damn big, and it is out of control. You feel like screaming that aloud.
Now the busy bunnies on the denial of climate change side, somehow, Eli notices, they never shrink from telling everybunny near and far that if we do something effective about climate change, well the world will collapse, the economy will die, the commies will take over and everyone will be screwed.

There is a certain asymmetry about this, and it is high time to make it clear that climate change ain't beanbag.

As Rick Perlstein has pointed out the long con is based on a theology of fear or better put, on arousal of fear in the audience, and based on recent voting, a successful one, Anybunny on the mailing list of the National Review, Mark Steyn, or any "conservative" think tank gets their fund raising emails each morning, designed to get the blood rising and the money flowing.

So tell again, why Sorkin's shot is futile?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Plenty of Trend at the Bottom

With all the talk about the pause, the plateau, new record surface temperatures and more, Eli was looking at something from his friend Rob Honeycutt which explained the world according to Judith Curry

when the Bunny noticed an interesting thing

Lots of trend at the bottom, and maybe even something to think about.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Ozone Photochemistry - Part 2

The purpose of this series of posts is to discuss the photochemistry leading to formation of tropospheric ozone and smog.

In Part 1 Eli discussed how tropospheric ozone forms and how photolysis of ozone leads to formation of HO radicals.  The story starts with the photodissociation of NO2 below 420 nm to form O atoms and NO.  The O atoms react with O2 molecules (plenty of them) to form ozone, O3.  Ozone it self is not the greatest thing in the world to breathe, and photolysis of ozone produces excited O(1D) atoms, which either react with water vapor to form HO radicals or are collisionally quenched back to O(3P), which, in turn reacts with O2 to reform ozone. 

Wither HO (or OH, depends on your age and field).  Let's start by not worrying about hydrocarbons.  In that case, in a really clean atmosphere the OH will react with carbon monoxide, CO  to form hydrogen atoms and CO2.  The carbon in CO2 is fully oxidized and that is the end of that.  The hydrogen atoms react with O2 to form hydroperoxyl radicals, HO2.  HO2 is a lot less reactive than HO, so as a general rule the atmosphere has a lot more HO2 than HO, but HO2 does react with NO and that reforms NO2

Eli is quite happy with the figure above, moving NO2 to the center emphasizes the intermingled NOx and HOx cycles.

There are a few things left out here.  The major one, of course, is reactions with volatile organic molecules including methane, CH4.  Eli has discussed that previously.  For another HO2 can react with ozone to form two molecules of O2 and HO, but that is roughly three orders of magnitude slower than the reaction with NO.  There are also some termination steps.  For example, the reaction of NO2 with HO yields nitric acid HNO3, which can rain out.  For another, HO + HO2 --> H2O + O2.  And then, of course, there is deposition.  Ozone hitting the ground will never rise.  Same for most of these other molecules.

Next we will discuss the implications of this chemistry for ozone in the unpolluted troposphere.

In the Beginning. . it was deja vue all over again

Jacquelyn Gill touched off a twitter storm of memories about climate blogging in the old days (11 years is old for a Bunny).  The Weasel has something, and so does David Appell.  It was more or less agreed that David's Quark Soup lead the way, if not then Tim Lambert @ Deltoid.  So Eli went to the science blogs and tried to find when Tim started blogging.

Not so simple.  He has moved his archive to science blogs when he moved Deltoid there.  Tim started writing for the net on gun and gun control.  There are articles there back to 1991 but it looks like they were posts or email exchanges with no comments.  The first commented posts appear in Fall 2003, and the first post about climate. . . . a keeper from March 2004, emerging from the nexus of tobacco control and climate change denial.  Tim had written about how The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition was an astroturfing operation of the tobacco industry (Steve Milloy, check) and Chris Mooney had an article in the Washington Post (told you nothing changes) on the sounds like science stuff.  Of course, the sounds like guys set one of them on Chris and somehow climate change got dragged in along with Richard Lindzen.  Tim, in his usual way just dug in.

I’ve been reluctant to write anything about the climate change debate because there is a daunting amount of material on the matter, and I don’t feel that I’ve read enough of it to make any kind of useful comment. However, the heart of Murray’s piece is the claim that Mooney misrepresented what the NAS report on climate change found. To see whether that claim is true you don’t have to read the entire literature, just the mercifully brief here. Lindzen (Richard Lindzen, check) writes: 
[I]t is quite wrong to say that our NAS study endorsed the credibility of the IPCC assessment report. We were asked to evaluate the IPCC “Summary for Policymakers” (SPM), the only part of the IPCC reports that is ever read or quoted by the media and politicians.
In fact, right in the very first paragraph of the report you find:
In particular, the written request (Appendix A) asked for the National Academies’ “assistance in identifying the areas in the science of climate change where there are the greatest certainties and uncertainties,” and “views on whether there are any substantive differences between the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] Reports and the IPCC summaries.”
The panel was asked to look at the reports and the summary and give their views on whether their were differences. Section 7 of their report is devoted to this. Lindzen was one of the panel members. How could he possibly be unaware of what the panel was supposed to do?

Lindzen continues:
The SPM, which is seen as endorsing Kyoto, is commonly presented as the consensus of thousands of the world’s foremost climate scientists. In fact, it is no such thing. Largely for that reason, the NAS panel concluded that the SPM does not provide suitable guidance for the U.S. government . . .
This is pretty well the opposite of what the panel concluded. In section 7 they actually report:
After analysis, the committee finds that the conclusions presented in the SPM and the Technical Summary (TS) are consistent with the main body of the report.
Again, Lindzen is one of the authors of the report. How can he say that the report says the opposite of what it actually says?

Lindzen continues:
The full IPCC report, most of which is written by scientists about specific scientific topics in their areas of expertise, is an admirable description of research activities in climate science. It is not, however, directed at policy. The SPM is, of course, but it is also a very different document. It represents a consensus of government representatives, rather than of scientists. As a consequence, the SPM has a strong tendency to disguise uncertainty, and conjures up some scary scenarios for which there is no evidence.
Scary scenarios, where has Eli seen this recently
I suppose it is possible that this is true, but it is not what the NAS report says. The panel checked with the scientists and found “that no changes were made [to the SPM] without the consent of the convening lead authors”.

Lindzen continues:
Similarly, in the case of our NAS report, far too much attention was paid to the hastily prepared summary rather than to the body of the report. The summary claimed that greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth’s atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise. Yet, the full text noted that 20 years was too short a period for estimating long term trends, a crucial point that the summary neglected to mention.
What? There are only 20 years of data for surface air temperatures? That doesn’t sound right. Let’s see what the full text really says:
Although warming at Earth’s surface has been quite pronounced during the past few decades, satellite measurements beginning in 1979 indicate relatively little warming of air temperature in the troposphere. The committee concurs with the findings of a recent National Research Council report, which concluded that the observed difference between surface and tropospheric temperature trends during the past 20 years is probably real, as well as its cautionary statement to the effect that temperature trends based on such short periods of record, with arbitrary start and end points, are not necessarily indicative of the long-term behavior of the climate system.
Wow. Global warming skeptics have been pointing at the satellite data and arguing that it shows that there is no warming going on. The NAS panel points out that 20 years of satellite data is probably not enough to judge long term trends, so it should be treated with caution.
And right they were
Lindzen then pretends that the caution about the satellite data was meant to apply to the panel’s statement that greenhouse gases were causing global warming. It clearly was not meant to apply to that statement and it doesn’t even make sense if you try to apply it to that statement, since surface temperature data goes back at least one hundred years. Again, Lindzen is one of the authors of the report. I can’t think of any excuse for what he wrote here, can you?

Lindzen goes on to claim:
Our primary conclusion was that despite some knowledge and agreement, the science is by no means settled.
Well, no. Their primary conclusion is expressed at the beginning of their summary:
Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth’s atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise. Temperatures are, in fact, rising. The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes is also a reflection of natural variability. Human-induced warming and associated sea level rises are expected to continue through the 21st century.
Natural variability, hmm. . . .
It is possible that their conclusion is wrong, but they certainly didn’t throw up their hands and say that the science wasn’t settled as Lindzen claims.

I find Lindzen’s systematic misrepresentation of the report that he helped author completely inexcusable. As for Murray, after endorsing Lindzen’s remarks, he very commendably offered a link to the report so that his readers could check for themselves, so I don’t know what to make of what he has done. Didn’t he read the report himself? To compound the problem he has used the same Lindzen quote to attack a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Murray wittily calls a group containing twenty Nobel Prize winners the “Union of Crackpot Scientists”.
Nothing new under the rug.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ozone Photochemistry Part I.

Over the US Thanksgiving holiday, well, actually in the news hole right before it, on Wednesday afternoon, US EPA announced new rules for ambient ozone, dropping the current limits from 75 ppb to 65-70 ppm with fairly long timelines to meet those limits. What the EPA means by such a standard is that

an area would meet the primary standard if the fourth highest maximum daily 8-hour ozone concentration per year averaged over three years  is equal to or less than the standard
 Neela Banerjee and Tony Barboza in the LA Times describe the new rules and the reaction to it, principally from the usual suspects who have never been right when they declared the end of the world as we know it due to some environmental improvement.  They have a pretty good Mom Rabett level explanation of how the ozone is formed
Ozone is created when unstable gases are released during combustion, whether at power plants, factories or in vehicle engines. The pollutants react with sunlight to create ozone, which can trigger asthma attacks, worsen heart and lung disease and lead to premature deaths.

Because so many sources emit those ozone components, the effect of an ozone standard is far-reaching, which has made politicians leery of regulating it. The Bush administration rejected EPA science advisors' recommendation six years ago for a tougher limit. The Obama administration vowed to implement a tighter standard, but the president shelved it and let the Bush-era limit remain at the start of his reelection bid.
The operation of the rule would take a while
Once finalized, the ozone standard would not go into effect for years. States are given three years to collect air quality data before their status is determined. They then have years to devise a plan to cut pollution and force industry and communities to comply.

The worst-polluted regions in the U.S., including Los Angeles, would have until 2037 to meet a new standard.
Ozone is not good for anyone's health and smog produced as a by product is also not good for living things.

Eli would like to take a few minutes of your time to discuss the chemical mechanism driving ground level ozone formation and its relationship to smog.

At root, three things are necessary, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from combustion and natural sources (think fossil fuel combustion and pine forests), reactive nitrogen oxide emissions (think fossil fuel combustion) and sunlight (think sunlight).  Oh yeah, you also need some humidity and some oxygen.

But let Eli start with NO2, using the MPI Mainz UV-Viz spectral data base

 NO2 is one of the few molecules found in the atmosphere that absorb strongly in the visible and near UV region.  The thermochemical limit for dissociation into NO and O atoms is roughly 400 nm for ground vibrational level NO2 but because low lying vibrational and rotational levels are thermally excited in the atmosphere, the effective boundary for photodissociation is about 425 nm.  Since the solar spectrum at ground level extends down to about 300 nm,
during the day NO2  will be efficiently dissociated.

 NO2 + hν ∠ 426nm  → NO + O(3P)   [1]

O(3P) is the ground (lowest) electronic state of the oxygen atom.  The next one up as it were, is O(1D) and Eli will explain why that is important in a moment.  The average time that an NO2 molecule lasts at the surface is of the order of an hour less during the summer when sunlight is more intense, more during the winter and so forth.  

The O(3P) produced in Reaction 1, then combines with oxygen to form ozone

O(3P) + O2 + M  →  O3 + M     [2]

When the oxygen atom and molecule come together they form a reaction intermediate which has enough energy to immediately fall apart.  The role of the third reactant, M, is to carry that energy away leaving a ground state ozone molecule, O3.  Without that no ozone would be formed

In the troposphere NO2 photolysis is the dominant source of ozone.  The ozone absorption spectrum is practically the mirror image of the NO2 absorption spectrum

For the troposphere, the important part of this spectrum is the region to higher wavelengths because the ozone layer in the stratosphere blocks everything  below ~290 nm and that is being generous, but there is some that leaks through above that limt as can be seen in this figure from Slaper, et al, showing the solar spectrum near 300 nm in Bilthoven, Netherlands with two different solar zenith angles.

Time of day and time of year play important roles in how much light is available below ~320 nm and it is only the light between the upper limit of the ozone absorption spectrum and the stratospheric ozone cut off that can be absorbed by tropospheric ozone created in Reaction 2

Oxygen atoms created by photolysis of ozone come in two flavors, ground state oxygen atoms O(3P), and excited state oxygen atoms O(1D).  In addition to the issue of the decreasing ozone absorption coefficient at wavelengths above 290 nm, the quantum yield of O(1D) decreases with increasing wavelength as discussed in Matsumi, et al.

Why is this important.  Well, it turns out that O(1D) from ozone photolysis is the principle source of HO radicals in the troposphere, and HO radicals, sometimes called the atmosphere's vacuum cleaner, are what degrades the volatile organic molecules coming out of fossil fuel combustion and those killer trees.

O*(1D) + H2O → HO + HO   [4]

Electronically excited O(1D) is mostly quenched to O(3P) by collisions with other O2 and N2 molecules which are much more common than water vapor.  However, O(3P) produced will simply cycle back to ozone via reaction [2] keeping the ozone concentration roughly constant.

The rest of the story (stay tuned) is the interplay between NO2, the VOCs, and HO that control ozone concentration and the generation of smog.