Tag Archives: NASA

NASA's Arsenicgate Vindicates Years Of AGW Skepticism

You’re unlikely to find any “mainstream science blogger” admitting it, but the backlash against NASA’s hyped-uparsenic life” press-conference-cum-discovery is not similar, rather pretty much identical (apart from a “tiny” detail I’ll talk about in a moment) to what many AGW skeptics have been saying about that other NASA’s hyped-up field, (catastrophic) climate change.

Take these words by Chris Rowan and tell me why they couldn’t be written as critique to the Hockey Stick or any other Climategate-related bodging or fudging:

[…] That’s what I consider to be real peer review. The pre-publication stuff is just a quality filter, a check that the paper is not obviously wrong – and an imperfect filter at that. The real test is what happens in the months and years after publication. Sometimes, after further research, the ideas in the paper do stand the test of time, and form a firm foundation for further research in that area. Sometimes it turns out to be wrong, but in interesting ways that increase our understanding of how that little bit of the world works. Sometimes it turns out to be simply wrong.

[…] the discussion is taking place in a much more public manner than is usually the case – something that NASA and the authors of the paper don’t seem to like very much. Well, tough cookies. You wanted the publicity. If you’re presenting your research at a NASA press conference in the wake of a firestorm of excitable media speculation, you definitely wanted the publicity. It’s a bit late to claim that you want discussion of your research limited to the peer-reviewed literature.

[…] I’ve actually written before about the real issue here: in this new media world of blogs and twitter streams, it’s much harder to control a story, because other scientists now have the tools to make their criticism just as public as your press releases.

[…] burying one’s head in the sand is counterproductive; you should robustly engage the criticisms, just as you would if it were a comment-and-reply in a journal, or a challenging question at a conference. The new reality is this: if you announce the research in a public venue, the debate should – and increasingly will – take place in that same public venue. The real challenge is how to have these debates – and report them – effectively.

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So what is different? Why can’t Rowan make the link between the above and the obtuse behavior by so-called “leading climatologists” that to this day refuse to make their raw data public? Here’s why: because “climate change” is not a scientific debate, and so it is impervious to scientific skepticism. As von Storch (no climate skeptic, him) wrote more than five years ago:

The concern for the “good” and “just” case of avoiding further dangerous human interference with the climate system has created a peculiar self-censorship among many climate scientists. Judgments of solid scientific findings are often not made with respect to their immanent quality but on the basis of their alleged or real potential as a weapon by “sceptics” in a struggle for dominance in public and policy discourse.

Dodgy NASA Pages Undermines Scientific Education

The educational troubles at NOAA are well known. Now I have stumbled by accident into one set of misleading NASA-hosted pages allegedly set up in order to help teachers and students understand the greenhouse effect.

The starting page of the set “Measuring the Temperature of the Sky and Clouds” by a Forrest M. Mims III and part of teacher-focused “My NASA Data” website, claims to describe a project where “you will learn about the greenhouse effect by measuring the temperature of the sky and clouds far overhead with an infrared thermometer“.

The project is described across four pages and it might be easily misinterpreted as showing that clouds are warmer than the cloudless atmosphere because of the greenhouse properties of water vapor (one needs to read the text very carefully). But that’s not the real problem.

The real problem is that it is claimed that:

The temperature in outer space approaches absolute zero, which is -273 degrees Celsius. But you will measure a much warmer temperature if you point an infrared thermometer at the sky directly overhead (the zenith).  Depending on the season and your location, the temperature will likely be near or below zero degrees Celsius. While this is very chilly, it’s far from being as cold as absolute zero. The difference is caused mainly by water vapor in the sky that has become warm by absorbing infrared radiation emitted by the Earth below. The warmed water vapor returns some of the infrared back to the Earth, and this helps keep the Earth warmer than space.

The statement above is wrong. Says who? Says mainstream scientific consensus on the behavior of atmospheres. Here’s an excerpt from a University of Texas page explaining it all:

Of course, we know that the atmosphere is not isothermal. In fact, air temperature falls quite noticeably with increasing altitude. In ski resorts, you are told to expect the temperature to drop by about 1 degree per 100 meters you go upwards. Many people cannot understand why the atmosphere gets colder the higher up you go. They reason that as higher altitudes are closer to the Sun they ought to be hotter. In fact, the explanation is quite simple. It depends on three important properties of air. The first important property is that air is transparent to most, but by no means all, of the electromagnetic spectrum. In particular, most infrared radiation, which carries heat energy, passes straight through the lower atmosphere and heats the ground. In other words, the lower atmosphere is heated from below, not from above. The second important property of air is that it is constantly in motion. In fact, the lower 20 kilometers of the atmosphere (the so called troposphere) are fairly thoroughly mixed. You might think that this would imply that the atmosphere is isothermal. However, this is not the case because of the final important properly of air: i.e., it is a very poor conductor of heat.

Note that there is not a single mention of any greenhouse property of anything. Later on the UTexas text contains a reference to water vapor but for different reasons than the greenhouse effect:

As air rises, expands, and cools, water vapour condenses out releasing latent heat which prevents the temperature from falling as rapidly with height as the adiabatic lapse rate would indicate

So if the ground is at whatsoever temperature and you point a thermometer to the sky, you’ll read “the temperature through a cone-shaped column of the troposphere“, as determined by the properties of air and water vapor. The value you will read will be far above absolute zero independently from the greenhouse effect.

It is rather worrying to see such a poorly-designed experiment getting NASA approval (well, that might explain a few things…) and who knows how many pupils have now got it all wrong. Hopefully, there’s two or twenty science teachers out there capable to use critical reasoning.

Does Harrison "Jack" Schmitt Exist?

A few hours have passed since my first comment in Plait’s n-th tired “you’re all deniers!” blog, and not a single word on how would Phil or any AGW believer handle any debate with Harrison Schmitt, geologist, Astronaut, Moonwalker, and a skeptic of AGW.

Harrison "Jack" Schmitt
Harrison "Jack" Schmitt

I think we can safely assume that Schmitt, like Phil, has examined the claims, the science, and the techniques. However, Schmitt has come to the conclusion that

(see Wikipedia)

“[t]he CO2 scare is a red herring”, the “global warming scare is being used as a political tool to increase government control over American lives, incomes and decision-making,” and scientists who might otherwise challenge prevailing views on climate change dare not do so for fear of losing funding.

I find the very existence of somebody like Schmitt incompatible with Phil’s simplistic climate change view where everybody that disagrees on anything, is a rabid anti-science ignorant denier or worse.

Model Slaves A Common Feature At NASA

(Don’t miss out on the bonus atmospheric reference at the bottom of this blog)

Should computer modeling be banned from NASA premises? Recent grandiose public statements may suggest as much.

March 1, 2010: NASA.gov: “Chilean Quake May Have Shortened Earth Days

The Feb. 27 magnitude 8.8 earthquake in Chile may have shortened the length of each Earth day.

JPL research scientist Richard Gross computed how Earth’s rotation should have changed as a result of the Feb. 27 quake. Using a complex model, he and fellow scientists came up with a preliminary calculation that the quake should have shortened the length of an Earth day by about 1.26 microseconds (a microsecond is one millionth of a second).

Perhaps more impressive is how much the quake shifted Earth’s axis. Gross calculates the quake should have moved Earth’s figure axis (the axis about which Earth’s mass is balanced) by 2.7 milliarcseconds (about 8 centimeters, or 3 inches). Earth’s figure axis is not the same as its north-south axis; they are offset by about 10 meters (about 33 feet).

March 4, 2010: ASI (Italian Space Agency)’s Space Geodesy Centre in Matera, Italy – since 2004, the Official Primary Combination Centre for the International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS): “The earthquake in Chile and the polar axis: analysis from our centre in Matera

Using data from the International Laser Ranging Service, the global system which uses lasers to measure, with millimetre resolution, the distance between a network of stations on Earth and reflectors on satellites, the ASI Space Geodesy Centre in Matera[…]  calculated the residual motion of the pole in comparison with values from immediately before the earthquake. Preliminary results do not show significant disparities, i.e. greater than one millisecond of arc, equivalent to about three centimetres.

March 11, 2010: NASA.gov: “Did the Chilean Quake Shift Earth’s Axis?

On Feb. 27, 2010, the Chilean quake may have moved the figure axis as much in a matter of minutes as it normally moves in a whole year. It was a truly seismic shift—no pun intended. So far, however, it’s all calculation and speculation. “We haven’t actually measured the shift,” says Gross. “But I intend to give it a try.” The key is GPS.

[…] The stage is set for discovery. “Computing power is at an all-time high. Our models of tides, winds and ocean currents have never been better. And the orientation of the Chilean fault favors a stronger signal.” In a few months Gross hopes to have the answer. Stay tuned.

A dime to the first person that will make Dr Gross acquainted with ILRS!

ps Check out how doubt-free NASA’s outreach has been on the topic

Why did the earthquake in Chile shorten the day? As I explained previously in the chat, the earthquake in Chile caused the mass of the Earth to shift, which caused the figure axis (the axis about which the mass of the Earth is balanced) to change. This change in the mass of the Earth caused a changed in the rotation rate of the Earth, making it speed up slightly, thus shortening the day.

pps Finally, an atmospheric bonus…here’s how ASI explained their results being different from NASA’s

This evaluation differs from those obtained using theoretical models of the planet (such as the one produced by the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California) which can estimate the extent of a shift on the basis of geophysical and seismological data. This is the type of calculation used in meteorological forecasts, which are based on data observed before a particular date and on theoretical models of how atmospheric phenomena develop.

And of course they are.

Sisma Cile, Scienziati dell’Agenzia Spaziale Italiana smentiscono la Nasa

(originariamente pubblicato su ItaliaChiamaItalia)

‘Il movimento tellurico avrebbe spostato l’asse terrestre e modificato la durata del giorno sulla Terra. Tutto vero? Sembra proprio di no…’

di Maurizio Morabito

Fra i grossi titoloni dopo il terremoto in Cile del mese scorso, campeggiavano anche le affermazioni del prestigiosissimo Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) della NASA a Pasadena (California) secondo il quale addirittura il movimento tellurico avrebbe spostato l’asse terrestre e modificato la durata del giorno sulla Terra. Tutto vero? Sembra proprio di no, in base alle precisissime osservazioni del Centro di Geodesia Spaziale (CGS) dell’Agenzia Spaziale Italiana a Matera.

E’ una storia questa che speriamo faccia capire l’importanza di differenziare fra i calcoli teorici e le misurazioni del mondo reale. E’ stato infatti proprio sulla base di modelli al calcolatore che il team statunitense capeggiato da Richard Gross del JPL ha annunciato all’inizio di marzo come l’enorme spostamento di masse all’interno del pianeta in occasione del sisma cileno avrebbe portato a un accorciamento del giorno di 1,26 milionesimi di secondo, e spostato l’asse di rotazione di ben 8 centimetri. Nessuna conseguenza avvertibile nella vita quotidiana, ma a pochi anni da effetti di simile magnitudine dopo il terremoto di Natale del 2004 a Sumatra, abbastanza da richiamare l’attenzione riguardo una Terra che almeno apparentemente spesso si sposterebbe di qua e di la’.

Affermazioni quelle di Gross che fanno il giro del mondo. Cosa che purtroppo non succede invece con chi il pianeta lo misura effettivamente, e non solo nella memoria di un supercomputer che per quanto veloce non puo’ sostituire la realta’. Il 4 marzo esce infatti in sordina e in inglese un comunicato a firma Giuseppe Bianco del CGS, un centro italiano che da Matera e’ ufficialmente riferimento mondiale nelle straordinariamente precise misurazioni laser della posizione del pianeta Terra (lo International Laser Ranging Service, ILRS).

Bianco conferma che “come per ogni evento che produce un movimento di massa della Terra, il recente terremoto estremamente violento in Cile ha anche causato uno spostamento dell’asse terrestre di inerzia rispetto al suo asse di rotazione”. Pero’, continua Bianco,”occorre rilevare che movimenti molto più grandi si verificano di continuo, soprattutto come il risultato di una circolazione atmosferica ed oceanica”.

E cosa dicono i laser dell’ILRS? “I risultati preliminari non mostrano differenze significative, vale a dire superiori […] a circa tre centimetri”. Cosa e’ successo, dunque? La NASA ha parlato troppo presto? “Questa valutazione si differenzia da quelle ottenute con i modelli teorici del pianeta (come quella prodotta dal Jet Propulsion Lab di Pasadena, California), che possono valutare la portata di uno spostamento sulla base dei dati geofisici e sismologici. Questo è il tipo di calcolo utilizzati per le previsioni meteorologiche, che si basano su dati osservati prima di una data particolare, e sui modelli teorici di come si sviluppino i fenomeni atmosferici”.

Sarebbe facile fare dell’ironia dunque sul come tutto cio’ spieghi alcune diciamo cosi’ “imprecisioni” nelle previsioni del tempo. Una cosa e’ comunque certa: il messaggio da Matera e’ che anche i supercomputer della NASA, nel loro piccolo, possono sbagliare. E sbagliano

"Huge Puzzle…On A Planet Where We Thought We Know Everything"

NASA Finds Shrimp Beneath Antarctica Ice – 600 Feet Below Antarctic Ice Where Nothing Complex Should Live, NASA Catches A Curious Shrimp

Of course this will soon to be shown to mean scientists have grossly overestimated the amount of CO2 in the past, that it’s worse than we thought, and that climate change is pushing curious shrimps and foot-long jellyfish on the edge of extinction.

Forget The Moon: Mostly Pointless Carbon Emission Satellite To Be Re-Flown Instead

From @NASA on Twitter

Good news for climate science in Obama’s NASA budget out yesterday: We plan to rebuild & refly the Orbiting Carbon Observatory.

Will that compensate for the indefinite postponement of any flight beyond Earth orbit? I guess not, especially after reading some wonderful details about the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) (the first attempt failed to reach orbit on Feb 24, 2009):

  • flown in a near polar orbit [observing] most of the Earth’s surface at least once every sixteen days
  • OCO measurements would record changes in CO2 abundance over annual seasonal cycles
  • fly in Sun synchronous orbit so that all observations took place at about 1:18 PM
  • planned operational life of 2 years

Let’s forget for a minute that 2 years are nothing at all in terms of climate (a problem affecting most Earth observation platforms dedicated to climate science, it seems)….still, a quick computation reveals the grand total amount of observations from OCO for any particular spot on the planet is expected to be 45. That is, around 11 per “seasonal cycle”. And all of them, at 1:18PM local time.

No further comment is necessary.

Lost Moon…Is Obama’s The Least Imaginative Administration Ever?

So it’s been confirmed: President Obama is keen on ending all American efforts to go back to the Moon. This doesn’t sound like a particularly inspired or forward-thinking move. I know that Buzz Aldrin as weighed in saying “this program will allow us to again be pushing the boundaries to achieve new and challenging things beyond Earth“; the Planetary Society has said “We’ll develop the technology to explore Deep Space, reaching new milestones in space and accomplishing new things here on Earth“; and the Bad Astronomer has commented “this may very well save NASA and our future manned exploration capabilities, if this is all done correctly“.

Still, the end result would be NASA canceling yet another major launch system initiative; no hope to go back to the Moon in the foreseeable future; vague promises of “future heavy-lift rocket systems…potentially taking us farther and faster into space” that sound quite empty as missing of any clear destination in time and space.

Phil Plait admitted as much in a tweet: “I think we sorta agree there, @unclebobmartin. There’s no real plan now. I’m hoping that by doing this, NASA can concentrate on big plans
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Now, if you add on top of that some other facts about the USA:

  • still shipping weapons to Taiwan, as always
  • sending troops to Afghanistan, as usual
  • have no plans to leave Iraq for good in the foreseeable future, as always
  • are still no way near a non-confrontational approach to Iran, as usual
  • have shown no idea of any sort to bring the Israelo-Palestinian conflict anywhere, as always
  • have tried to score low-level political points with a populist approach to banking management, as usual….

…isn’t that enough to label Obama’s as the least imaginative administration ever?

CO2 Obsession Takes Over NASA('s Press Releases)

With the most classical of globalwarmist sleight-of-hand, a Nov 6 press release by NASA titled “A Tale of Planetary Woe” surreptitiously changed the focus of MAVEN, a whole new mission to Mars scheduled to reach the planet in 2014.

Look at the following words:

Why did Mars dry up and freeze over? […] One way or another, scientists believe, Mars must have lost its most precious asset: its thick atmosphere of carbon dioxide. CO2 in Mars’s atmosphere is a greenhouse gas, just as it is in our own atmosphere. A thick blanket of CO2 and other greenhouse gases would have provided the warmer temperatures and greater atmospheric pressure required to keep liquid water from freezing solid or boiling away.

My first reaction was a “Wow!” followed by “Finally a CO2 mission by NASA!” (yes, the greenhouse effect has so far been singularly of absolute disinterest for planetary scientists, for some reason).

Alas, the feeling didn’t survive a quick investigation about MAVEN…

For example, from the MAVEN Fact Sheet, “Science Objectives”:

Determine the role that loss of volatiles from the Mars atmosphere ot space has played through time, allowing us to understand the histories of Mars’ atmosphere and climate, liquid water, and planetary habitability

No mention of CO2 or of blankets. And no mention of them in the MAVEN mission page either:

Mars once had a denser atmosphere that supported the presence of liquid water on the surface. As part of a dramatic climate change, most of the Martian atmosphere was lost. MAVEN will make definitive scientific measurements of present-day atmospheric loss that will offer clues about the planet’s history.

The Principal Investigator for MAVEN is renowned Mars expert Dr Bruce M Jakosky of the University of Colorado (can be seen in a video at this page). I haven’t been able to find anything abour Dr Jakosky showing any specific interest in an ancient thick atmosphere of carbon dioxidewith or without greenhouse warming characteristics.

Given also the amount of time needed to put together a space mission, and the various review stages any proposal has to go through, we can safely consider any newly-found CO2 focus for MAVEN as an artifact introduced by whomever decided the gist of the Nov 6 NASA press release.

And luckily so: there is very little we know about the Martian atmosphere, hence any undue assumption such as obsessing with CO2 as a greenhouse gas would risk making us miss out important observations.

NASA Spends Three Billion Dollars To Manufacture Fake Sunspots (humor)

London, 17 May (MNN) – NASA, the American space agency, has been called into justifying the humongous(-ly little) money it spends every year for space exploration, in a shocking new development connected to the ongoing lack of sunspots.

Officials at NASA’s headquarters in Houston, Tx have neither confirmed or denied (or even been asked) if the whole purpose of sending the Space Shuttle Atlantis a few days ago, and the Hubble Space Telescope in April 1990, was in order to pretend the Sun is not asleep , as in the picture below

NASA-manufactured fake sunspots
NASA-manufactured fake sunspots

In unrelated news: NOAA has announced two new sunspots have appeared on the surface of our star, thereby confirming everything is fine, global cooling is not in the making, global warming will kill us all instead and it’s all our fault.

Space Aliens May Have Destroyed Home Planet With CO2 Emissions

(an example of Do-It-Yourself climate alarmism)

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has discovered carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting another star.

Translation: Powerful life-threatening gas is so abundant on that planet, it has been detected light-years away

This breakthrough is an important step toward finding chemical biotracers of extraterrestrial life.

Translation: We have no hopes but to find only the traces of whatever life might have been there before runaway global warming

The Jupiter-sized planet, called HD 189733b, is too hot for life.

Translation: QED

[…] Previous observations of HD 189733b by Hubble and the Spitzer Space Telescope found water vapor. Earlier this year, Hubble found methane in the planet’s atmosphere. […]

Translation: The planet’s atmosphere is made up almost 100% of greenhouse gases! Those space aliens must have been in the SUV business big time, poor them.

Is the above justified? I say yes, and why not? Of course it’s all possible, therefore on the basis of the precautionary principle, of course we ought to behave like it were true.

Please stop breathing.

NASA Study Confirms Climatic Impact of Weather Station Relocation

UPDATE NOV 25: Anthony Watts did cover the mentioned LA weather station in a March 24, 2008 post. I was looking for the Earth Observatory link, while he mentions the JPL one. Still, my blog below adds to the story, by providing links to the original Poster Presentation and pointing out that many stations were moved around 1998-1999.

Perhaps there is a good reason why the study below is not mentioned in Watts Up With That or at surfacestations.org. Perhaps it’s just me unable to use Google properly. Or for some reason I am the first one making the connection.

So in full glare of all my ignorance I point to this Poster Presentation at the 16th Applied Climatology Conference, American Meteorological Society, Jan. 14-18, 2007, San Antonio, TX (joint with the 14th Symposium on Meteorological Observations and Instrumentation):

Patzert, W.C., S. LaDochy, J. K. Willis, and T. Mardirosian, 2007: Will the real Los Angeles stand up: Impacts of a station move on climate records (and record weather) (short Abstract) (long Abstract)

Some may remember seeing that study mentioned on NASA’s Earth Observatory (EO)’s “A Tale of Two Sites: Impacts of Relocating L.A.’s Weather Station” (Jan 17, 2007).

Since it’s a Poster Presentation, a brief note about the authors is due, to check their trustworthiness (you wouldn’t believe what is presented nowadays as “poster” in many scientific conferences):

“Mardirosian Mystery” aside: what is that they’ve found?

In August, 1999, the National Weather Service (NWS) moved the official downtown Civic Center weather station to the University of Southern California (USC) campus, a 3.78 miles (almost 6 km) distance to the southwest of its previous location near city center at the Department of Water & Power (DWP) […]

By moving the official LA downtown weather station location, weather is now recorded as cooler, drier and less extreme than at its original DWP location […] there appears to be a discontinuity in the records. Maximum and mean temperatures are cooler, especially Tmax. Minimum temperatures are similar for the two sites. DWP also records higher rainfall amounts, although there is great variability monthly and inter-annually. Extremes occur less often at USC than DWP. […]

Moving a weather station away from the city resulted in cooler, drier, and less extreme weather. And in a “discontinuity in the records”. That appears to vindicate all the work done by Anthony Watts and surfacestations indeed.

Consequences? For example:

[…] In the 2004-5 water year (July 1-June 30), the USC rain total was 37.25” (946.2 mm), second only to 1883-84, which had 38.18” (969.8 mm). However, DWP recorded 38.32 (973.3 mm), which would have been the wettest year on record for downtown Los Angeles had not the station moved […]

[…] At USC, the all-time record for highest temperature minimum for the date June 4th was set with 68oF (previous record being 66F in 1997). At DWP, the Tmin was 70F. […]

We are talking 973.3-946.2=27.1mm and 70F-66F=around 1C overestimated in downtown LA compared to the new site. In the first case, we would have heard about “yet another climate record” having been broken. In the second case, we would have been told a temperature value that is more wrong than the total estimated temperature increase from 1850 to today.

And it’s just one station, where they were “fortunate in that the original location (DWP) is still in operation and can be compared to the new site“. Sounds ominous doesn’t it? It means that most of the time, a new station’s measures are simply attached to the previous one’s, with no time provided for suitable medium-term comparison.

Actually, it’s worse. From the EO:

The National Weather Service moved the station [in 1999] as part of a nationwide effort to locate all official weather stations on ground-level sites in natural settings

In other words, there are many weather station records that are for all intents and purposes useless for comparing recent data to measure done before around 1999.

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And before somebody says that the above would have resulted in a spurious cooling trend for LA: it doesn’t matter. What matters is always the quality of the data.

And if NASA says that many weather stations have poor quality records, doubts on the very existence of an ongoing, potentially worrying global warming can only increase.

Has anybody noticed how the “warming trend” has almost stopped…exactly since 1999?

Arctic Sea Ice Extent: In October 2008, Fastest Ever Growth

As expected a few days ago: October 2008 has seen the fastest Arctic sea ice extent growth ever recorded. According to the data published by IARC-JAXA, the amount of growth has reached 3,481,575 square kilometers for the month, or 112,319 sq km per day on average.

The previous maximum was October 2007, with 3,330,937 sq km for the month and 107,450 sq km per day on average. Record shrinkage remains July 2007, with 2,913,593 sq km lost and 93,987 sq km per day on average.

Growth should be starting levelling off now. November values could be as high as 2,179,844 sq km (2002) or as low as 964,688 sq km (2006).

UPDATE NOV 6: I should have known it. OF COURSE the above is an indication that Climate Change is upon us. Read this comment by Georg Hoffman at Tamino’s:

So I would make the specific prevision that 1) a seasonal cycle will show up in sea ice data and 2) due to 1) the october/november increase and the may/june decrease of seaice will become bigger and faster. I might check that with CMIP model data but I am pretty sure that this is what the model show

Here’s a link for the “CMIP model“. It never ceases to amaze me how elastic AGW theory truly is.

October 2008 Possibly Set for Record Sea Ice Extent Increase Rate

UPDATE NOV 10: October 2008 did show the fastest ever growth in sea ice extent

What is the reason behind the fact that “[Arctic] sea ice area [is] approaching the edge of normal standard deviation“?

It’s because October 2008 is set to break all records in the daily rate of increase in sea ice extent in the Arctic, that’s why.

Just look at the graph below, extracted from the values available at the IARC-JAXA website.

Daily Change Rate (Sea Ice Extent) (sq km, by month)
Daily Change Rate (Sea Ice Extent) (sq km, by month)

(The Y values are the daily rates of change in sea ice extent in the Arctic, averaged across each month. Note that for October I have only computed and plotted the rates between the 1st and the 23rd day of the month).

Some considerations:

(a) The October 2008 average daily rate so far is the largest overall, both in actual value (around 122,400 sq km of increase per day, previous record 100,500 in 2005) and in absolute terms (the overall minimum is around 94,000 sq km of decrease per day, in July 2007)

(b) If confirmed in a week’s time, the above will become the fifth record set in 2008:

largest January daily increase rate (44,000, previous record 39.800 in 2003)
largest February daily increase rate (27.500, previous record 25,400 in 2005)
largest May daily decrease rate (47,100, previous record 46,000 in 2005)
largest August daily decrease rate (66,800, previous record in 62,600 in 2004)

(c) Compared to 2007, the current year 2008 has so far shown

larger daily rates of increase in January (44,000 vs 35,400), February (27,500 vs 12,100), September (8,800 vs -600) and October (122,400 vs 93,500)
larger daily rates of decrease in April (39,800 vs 27,100), May (47,100 vs 44,200) and August (66,800 vs 55,400)
smaller daily rates of decrease in March (11,900 vs 12,200), June (57,900 vs 63,000) and July (78,800 vs 94,000)

========

Let’s see what happens during the upcoming week.

Past values suggest that the final average daily rate of increase for October may be slightly less than today’s. Still, as the current rate is some 20% larger than the previous record in October 2005, it would surprise nobody if October 2008 will remain the month with the largest value ever recorded by JAXA.

ps Who knows what NASA will have to say?

Why the NASA Planetary Atmospheres Website Doesn’t Mention Greenhouse Gases

Discussions with people holding a different view are obviously quite likely to help bring one’s reasoning forward (as long as there is no name-calling or other infantilism).

For an example of what can happen, look no further than this exchange with Ed Darrell at his Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub. The topic is, what is the relevance of the fact that the NASA Planetary Atmospheres website (PDS-A) doesn’t mention greenhouse gases.

To which my answer has been:

if the experts in the field don’t take it into consideration, I surely want to know why!!

Ed has replied with an interesting suggestion:

The site doesn’t pretend to be an exhaustive resource for all studies of all atmospheres everywhere. It’s a site to get a line into work NASA has actually done.

But if that’s true, it means that in all these years, NASA has seldom if ever looked at ways to investigate the same greenhouse effect that keeps Earth’s average temperature above freezing, and Venus with a surface temperature higher than an oven. And furthermore, there is a dearth of data in this most practical of planetary atmospheric fields!!

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Let’s try to figure out if Ed’s interpretation is right. In its About page, the PDS-A site says “As an additional service, the Atmospheres Node provides information on relevant planetary atmospheres topics for educational purposes”.

There are links for Educators, including to the NASA Planetary Data System College Student Investigators (CSI) webpage that states

The objective of this activity is to involve undergraduate students in research and development projects related to the holdings of NASA.s Planetary Data System (PDS). Through the PDS College Student Investigators activity, the PDS strives to prepare the next generation of PDS science investigators.

A recent proposal is about investigating the role of dust in the thermodynamics of the Martian atmosphere. Neither there nor elsewhere there is any mention of greenhouse gases, a topic that evidently and mysteriously does not interest “next generation of PDS science investigators”.

Going back to PDS-A, there are educational links also to “Broker Forums“. One of them is the web site for the “Sun-Earth Connection” at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center, curiously linking to another website “Space Weather” containing a few unorthodox remarks on the Sun and Earth’s climate.

Another link for the Broker Forums goes to NASA’s Solary System Educational website where (finally!) there is some serious content about the greenhouse effect (GH).

And what does that refer to? Step forward ESA’s Venus Express, that lists among its scientific objectives the investigation of

what is the role of the radiative balance and greenhouse effect in the past present and future evolution of the planet?

==============

Chapeau to Ed Darrel, then…for all intents and purposes, NASA has dedicated no mission to the study of the greenhouse effect. That’s why there is no mention of it in the PDS-A site, the Planetary Data System for Atmosphere: simply, there is no data to report. Because nobody ever looked for those.

Is the current state of Climatology on this planet and everywhere else sad or what? If Goddard’s Director and climate worrier James Hansen is unable to gather funds for a terrestrial or planetary mission on the greenhouse effect; or worse, if even he is not interested enough to put one together: then how solid will the science of the climate ever be?

ps Still, the PDS-A Encyclopedia could have had a page on the GH effect. Its equations albeit simplified, still are possible

NASA Planetary Atmospheres Website Doesn't Mention Greenhouse Gases

Looks like there is at least one NASA website dedicated to planetary atmospheres, that cares not a zilch about the greenhouse effect.

The Planetary Atmospheres Node (Atmospheres Node, or Atmos) of the Planetary Data System (PDS) is responsible for the acquisition, preservation, and distribution of all non-imaging atmospheric data from all planetary missions (excluding Earth observations). The primary goal of the node is to make available to the research community the highest quality data possible. To this end, data are reviewed and re-formatted where necessary in order to meet the documentation and quality standards established by the PDS

The Education/Outreach section at least, says nothing at all about the greenhouse effect, whilst going into the details of lots of other things, such as how to compute the adiabatic lapse rate (dry).

CO2 and “greenhouse” are vaguely mentioned in few of the Abstracts but for some reason haven’t made it to the Education pages.

ADDENDUM: I am discussing the above with Ed Darrell at his Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.

ADDENDUM (2): It seems that we have an answer. That site doesn’t mention the GH effect because no interplanetary probe has bothered yet to study it. Things may be a-changing with ESA’s Venus Express.

Is NASA Too Big for Antarctica?

(thanks to PM for pointing me in this direction)

What is happening about Antarctica, with giant icebergs floating away while the sea-ice cover around the southernmost continent is well above long-term averages?

If you want to understand the situation…do not ask NASA. Because they’ll report everything and its opposite.

Too bad “Earth Observatory” has not had the time as yet to talk about Mr Tedesco’s work. Here’s some interesting image they may want to consider…

Note how the number of melting days in the area of the Wilkins ice shelf has decreased by -0.5 days per decade between 1987 and 2008.

NASA Discovers New Sun-Earth Connection

Very interesting new findings from Science@NASA (also involving the Goddard Space Flight Center):

Spring is aurora season. For reasons not fully understood by scientists, the weeks around the vernal equinox are prone to Northern Lights. […] This is a bit of a puzzle. Auroras are caused by solar activity, but the Sun doesn’t know what season it is on Earth […]

Such outbursts are called auroral substorms and they have long puzzled space physicists. […]

NASA’s THEMIS mission–a fleet of five spacecraft launched in Feb. 2007 to study the substorm phenomenon […] may have found the substorm power supply–and a springtime connection:

The satellites have detected magnetic ‘ropes’ connecting Earth’s upper atmosphere directly to the Sun,” says Dave Sibeck, project scientist for the mission at the Goddard Space Flight Center. “We believe that solar wind particles flow in along these ropes, providing energy for geomagnetic storms and auroras.”

It turns out that rope-like magnetic connections between Sun and Earth are favored in springtime. It’s a matter of geometry: As Earth goes around in its orbit, Earth’s tilted magnetic poles make different angles with respect to the Sun, tipping back and forth with a one-year cadence. Around the time of the equinox, Earth’s magnetic field is best oriented for “connecting-up” with the Sun. […]

Geomagnetic disturbances are almost twice as likely in spring and fall vs. winter and summer, according to 75 years of historical records […]

Solar Oddities from Ulysses

Science@NASA (Jan 14, 2008): “Posner explains: “Eleven years ago, during a similar ‘sea change’ between solar cycles, the polar wind spilled down almost all the way to the sun’s equator. But this time it is not. The polar wind is bottled up, confined to latitudes above 45 degrees

Science@NASA (Feb 20, 2007): “One pole of the sun is cooler than the other. That’s the surprising conclusion announced by scientists who have been analyzing data from the ESA-NASA Ulysses spacecraft.

Donna Guida in Florida a 350km/h

Una vecchia battuta ma sempre buona