Sunday, January 18, 2009

Saturday Pick Points

Time for a quick peek at some of the stories that have been making the rounds at the Climate Change sites this week.

Given that Watt’s Up With That (WUWT) won the 2008 Weblog Best Science Blog Award this week, it seems fitting to start off with the new things they have at their site.

Their week began with a discussion of the role that polar sea ice changes have on the climate, and their conclusion that the net changes in ice coverage at both poles when combined result in an effective cooling of the globe, because of the greater increase in ice at the South Pole than reduction in ice at the North Pole. This ties in somewhat with the information in the book I reviewed yesterday, since Dr Grove spent considerable time noting the increase in sea ice as the LIA developed.

Part of the week was spent in looking at the difference that volcanoes and El Nino weather events can have on global climate. The NOAA map of average temperatures around the United States for 2008 was posted, with a dark blue dot for the record cold falling to the North East corner of Iowa. This year may be a little different since the most recent post is about the current coldest spot in the lower 48, which is Caribou ME with -50 F. The site also points out the differences between different instruments, run under different protocols yet near one another and yielding different data. The effects of urban heat islands are illustrated.

Last week WUWT pointed to a small red spot on the US map showing a point in Pinal County Arizona that was showing an high temperature reading significantly higher than that around it. I was thus inspired to note that in the 2008 surface temperature anomaly at the GISS site there is a similar hot spot, though over a slightly larger area just north east of Lake Baykal and Irkutsk. So nothing loathe I wandered to Google Earth and spent a happy hour drifting over the region and discovered that it the place that the Russians mine for diamonds. There is even a picture of a Russian dredge at work, just north of Almaznyy (East of the Mir mine). Don’t know if this has anything to do with the place being hot, but thought you might be interested.

Russian Dredge working near the Mir Diamond Mine (note the men for an idea of scale)

Moving on to Grist – they quote the three nominees for heading Energy, EPA and Interior on what they think about coal - which came down to “we need to demonstrate that we can burn coal in a clean way, since it is currently a vital resource.” Grist, you should understand thinks that coal is “the enemy of the human race.” Earlier in the week they pointed out Congressman Henry Waxman is calling for a climate bill before May. It recognized the release of the GISS annual temperature review I referenced above, and their prediction that the global temperature record will be set within the next two years. (They are betting on an El Nino to get the temperature up). They have reviewed the new Worldwatch Institute Report on the State of the World and also the US Climate Action Partnership Blueprint for Legislative Action . Further to my comment on Dr Chu promising to look further into environmental cleanup at Hanford, Grist has a post on the problems of cleaning up the Columbia River, that runs nearby. It also notes that the stimulus package seems to have lost its mass transit bit. It calls attention to a report that suggests that the oceans are absorbing less carbon dioxide, and raises the question as to who killed the electric hybrid.

Climate Audit, which won the 2007 Best Science Blog award fell to third in this years voting, and has continued its analysis of Mann’s programming – noting that new source code is now available that allows calculation of the confidence intervals on the data in the Mann plot. It also notes the growing discrepancy between NASA and NOAA reporting of temperature data, with the NOAA data steadily giving hotter readings.

Real Climate is bemoaning the growth of “global cooling” stories on CNN, and pushing a book on communicating the story of climate change, but otherwise has no new posts this week.

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