Thursday, August 30, 2012

Arctic Sea Ice Volume


In response to this morning's links post, commenter Stephen B argued that:
I don't think one needs to be any kind of climate scientist to understand what is about to happen to the remaining ice. In the next 3 years, at some point, the remaining ice is going to be so thin and so relatively fresh, that late one summer in say, August of 2014 to 17, scientists are going to look at their satellite data, and see essentially zero ice. Anybody that's watched a large lake or bay melt understands how they go. First, the edges fray. Some chunks break off, but the main slab grows thinner, wetter, darker, and more "rotten." Then one day in the spring the whole thing, say like 75% of the surface, just breaks up to slush in a matter of hours and it's gone.
I grabbed the ice volume data from Piomas, computed the minimum volume each year, and plotted the result above.  Note that 2012 is not final as there's still several weeks of the normal melt season left.

The purple line is a linear trend - explaining 82% of the variance.  It clearly has systematic problems - the ice collapse is accelerating, not just proceeding linearly.

A quadratic (red) is a visibly much better fit and explains 92% of the variance.  The quadratic hits zero in 2017.

It doesn't seem crazy to think that the Arctic will be ice free in September sometime this decade.

Strange that explorers competed for years to travel by sled to a place that will no longer exist.  Maybe I'm naive, but it seems this will change the debate about climate change - the complete absence of a polar ice cap seems much easier for an ordinary person to understand, versus complex arguments about data-analysis on global temperature statistics, requiring that you trust scientists and their computer models.  Arguing that climate change isn't happening will become akin to arguing that the earth is flat.


Thursday Links

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

PIIGS Unemployment Chart


Every picture tells a story, they say.  This one tells a story of unrelenting misery and hardship, dreams crushed and hopes fading, year after year after year.  Still no sign of any relief for the real economy in these countries.

The data run through June 2012, except for the Greeks who are only up to May.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday Links

Feel free to add anything interesting and related to the themes of the blog...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Weekend Links

Friday, August 24, 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Interesting Thursday Links

  • The chart above is new electricity generation by fuel source over time in the US.
  • The challenges ahead in battery research.  (I would be somewhat more optimistic - making some allowance that researchers emphasize problems as motivation for their research - and also that commercialization is not about solving the whole problem at once but rather finding a series of increasingly large niches that eventually scale to the whole market - but much of the post is very informative).
  • Climate is Really Changing - nothing new but a nice concise summary from Tamino.
  • Progression of obesity in OECD countries.
  • What the US needs to do to balance the budget.
  • Chinese PMIs continue to look weak.  This is consistent with the weak global trade data and oil supply that is not expanding.
  • Build your own stonehenge.
  • Balkans in drought too.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Interesting Links: Tuesday Edition

Feel free to link to - and discuss - other interesting news related to the themes of the blog.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Interesting Links

Feel free to use this thread for links to or discussion of anything relevant to the themes of the blog.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bleg: Thin Film Solar Modules on Aging Barn Roof

A quick question: I'm starting to research installing solar at our place near Ithaca (always my intention from when we bought it, but other projects had to happen first).

It seems to me appealing to put the solar power on the barn rather than the house:
  • It has a much larger area (ie more power)
  • The cosmetic impact from the road will be lower
Since the barn roof structure is not that heavy, it probably makes a lot more sense to apply flexible CIGs modules (eg like these Global Solar modules) than to use conventional modules.  These flexible modules are generally glued to a metal roof (eg with mastic).  So one question is whether folks have experience with these modules and prefer one brand to another?

Secondly - the sheet metal on the barn roof is a few decades old.  While the roof isn't in imminent danger of failing, about 50% of the roof area now looks rusty and about 50% still has the galvanized surface.  I've already had a contractor offer to cover the roof with an aluminized asphalt product to extend the life of the metal.  Clearly, it's not desirable to attach solar modules to metal with a noticeably shorter life than the modules.

One idea that occurs to me is to use an aluminized asphalt product to adhere the modules to the metal, and cover the whole roof at the same time in the interests of preserving it.

Does anyone have any experience with a similar situation?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Saudi Aramco Network Hit With Cyber-Attack

Apparently they shut down the network:
Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s national oil company and the largest in the world, has confirmed that is has been hit by a cyber attack that resulted in malware infecting user workstations, but did not affect other parts of its network.

“On Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, an official at Saudi Aramco confirmed that the company has isolated all its electronic systems from outside access as an early precautionary measure that was taken following a sudden disruption that affected some of the sectors of its electronic network,” the company wrote in a statement.

“The disruption was suspected to be the result of a virus that had infected personal workstations without affecting the primary components of the network.”

The company did not comment on the vector of attack or who may behind it, but insists its core operations have not been impacted as a result of the security breach.
Word is that this was due to the Disttrack malware that was only discovered yesterday:
Malware being used in a new series of targeted attacks has bucked the trend, choosing to destroy the computers it infects rather than just stealing sensitive information, security researchers said.

Called "Disttrack", the malware corrupts files, overwrites the infected machine's master boot record, and destroys the data so that it can't be recovered, according to reports from Symantec Security Response, Kaspersky Lab's Global Research and Analysis Team, and McAfee on Thursday. Disttrack has been observed in the Shamoon attacks, which has already affected at least one organization in the energy sector, Symantec said, but the company declined to provide any other details about the affected organization(s).
Given the unusual destructiveness of the malware, one can't help suspecting an Iranian or Syrian revenge operation - but no evidence one way or another at present.  Anyway, pretty interesting to have the world's largest oil company victim of a major cyberterrorism incident.

Global Oil Production Fell 1mbd in June/July

A Few Interesting Links

You're welcome to use this post to link to anything else interesting and consistent with the themes of the blog.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Monday, August 6, 2012

Total Available Renewable Resource

Several commenters questioned Friday's post on the grounds that the total amount of solar and wind power potentially available is insufficient to power modern civilization

This is incorrect.

Total available wind power available on land and near shore has been estimated at 72TW.   This is close to five times current total primary energy consumption, and still more than twice as large as energy consumption in 2040 (extrapolating at the 2.7% growth rate of the last decade).

Of course, not all technically and economically feasible wind sites are politically feasible.  Thus it's important that total incoming solar radiation is also very large.  Top of the atmosphere incoming solar radiation is 174000TW.  If we just look at the world's desert areas, they represent about a third of the global land area, itself about 30% of the total surface.  Allowing 30% losses in the atmosphere over deserts, and throwing out something for Antarctica (a desert, but not a very useful one for solar power), we end up with something in the ballpark of 7000TW of available solar energy from deserts alone.  This is hundreds of times larger than current civilizational energy consumption.

Therefore, constraints on our ability to utilize renewables are political and economic, not ultimate physical ones; there is plenty of renewable energy out there.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Eurozone Unemployment


The numbers came out yesterday and are as above - a slight stall, but no real evidence of a reversal.  Also, every one of the PIIGS countries saw their unemployment rate get worse in the latest month.

So there is still no sign of stabilization in the real economy in Europe.