Ocean Physics in a Cup of Coffee

Science Matters

The Great Arctic Cyclone of 2012 from satellite.

 Recently I posted Ocean Climate Ripples summarizing an article by Dr. Arnd Bernaerts on how humans impact upon the oceans and thereby the climate. His references to activities in the North and Baltic Seas included this comment:

It works like a spoon stirring hot coffee, attracting cold air from Siberia. In this respect they serve as confined research regions, like a unique field laboratory experiment.

This post presents an article by John S. Wettlaufer who sees not only the oceans but cosmic patterns in coffee cup vorticies. His essay is The universe in a cup of coffee.  (Bolded text is my emphasis.)

John Wettlaufer is the A. M. Bateman Professor of Geophysics, Physics, and Applied Mathematics at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

As people throughout the world awake, millions of them every minute perform the apparently banal act of pouring cold…

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By the numbers: Lifetime Performance of World’s First Offshore Wind Farm

Watts Up With That?

Decommissioning of world’s first offshore wind farm offers an opportunity to see how industry costs have changed over the past 25 years.

Guest essay by T. A. “Ike” Kiefer, CAPT, USN (ret.)

Lifetime Performance of World’s First Offshore Wind Farm

Decommissioning has started at the 26-year old Vindeby offshore project, one of the world’s first The 4.95MW Vindeby offshore project was installed in 1991 using 11 Bonus 450kW turbines. It operated 1.5-3.0km off the southern Danish coast.

The first offshore windfarm in the world has just been decommissioned and is now being torn down ( http://www.windpoweroffshore.com/article/1427436/dong-begins-vindeby-decommissioning-pictures ). Its lifetime performance specs are illuminating in comparison with recent wind industry data, and alternative generation options.

1991 Vindeby Offshore Wind Farm – Denmark

Years of Operation: 1991-2016 (25)

Capital Cost: 75M Kroner = $13M (1991USD) = $23M (2017USD)

Number of Turbines: 11 @ 450 kW

Lifetime Generation: 243 GWh

Nameplate Capacity: 4.9 MW

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U.S. EIA: “Record Precipitation, Snowpack in California”

Watts Up With That?

Guest post by David Middleton

main Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture Drought Monitor

MARCH 22, 2017

Record precipitation, snowpack in California expected to increase hydro generation in 2017

For the first time since 2011, California’s drought is significantly weakening—a result of one of the wettest winters on record. California has experienced record levels of precipitation this winter, and unlike last winter, cooler temperatures over the 2016–2017 winter season have enabled the precipitation to build up snowpack (the total accumulated snow and ice on the ground). High precipitation and snowpack levels, both of which supply hydroelectric generators throughout the year, suggest that hydroelectric generation in California in 2017 will significantly exceed 2016 levels.

Although the drought state of emergency declared by California authorities in January 2014 is still in place, drought conditions have noticeably improved, and the northern half of the state is no longer classified in any stage of drought severity…

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Lack of correlation between tornadoes and temperature increase in the USA

Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by Alberto Z. Comendador

Temperatures in the USA have generally increased since the 1950s. Of course, anything that mostly increases over time will have a positive correlation with everything else that also increases; in the USA this includes tornado counts. And of course most correlations are utterly meaningless and devoid of causation. For a hilarious take on the issue, see spurious correlations.

The problem , as NOAA itself says, is that there is a bias: just because we observe more tornadoes than before, doesn’t mean their number has actually increased.

‘With increased National Doppler radar coverage, increasing population, and greater attention to tornado reporting, there has been an increase in the number of tornado reports over the past several decades. This can create a misleading appearance of an increasing trend in tornado frequency.’

They illustrate this by excluding the weakest tornadoes (the F-0 category), which is…

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Solar Slump: The Sun has been blank for two weeks straight

Watts Up With That?

Over the weekend, we reviewed the state of the solar data for March 2017. Now, there’s a two week straight lack of sunspots, the longest stretch since 2010.

A blank look to the sun on Monday, March 20, and it has now been blank for two weeks straight; image courtesy NASA/GSFC

Overview

The sun is currently blank with no visible sunspots and this is the 14th straight day with a blank look which is the longest such stretch since April 2010 according to spaceweather.com. Historically weak solar cycle 24 continues to transition away from its solar maximum phase and towards the next solar minimum. In April 2010 – the last time there was a two week stretch with no visible sunspots –  the sun was emerging from the last solar minimum which was historically long and deep.  There have already been 26 spotless days in 2017 (34% of…

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Time Magazine’s 1974 Ice Age Story

In Africa, drought continues for the sixth consecutive year, adding terribly to the toll of famine victims. During 1972 record rains in parts of the U.S., Pakistan and Japan caused some of the worst flooding in centuries. In Canada’s wheat belt, a particularly chilly and rainy spring has delayed planting and may well bring a disappointingly small harvest. Rainy Britain, on the other hand, has suffered from uncharacteristic dry spells the past few springs. A series of unusually cold winters has gripped the American Far West, while New England and northern Europe have recently experienced the mildest winters within anyone’s recollection.

As they review the bizarre and unpredictable weather pattern of the past several years, a growing number of scientists are beginning to suspect that many seemingly contradictory meteorological fluctuations are actually part of a global climatic upheaval. However widely the weather varies from place to place and time to time, when meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age.

Telltale signs are everywhere — from the unexpected persistence and thickness of pack ice in the waters around Iceland to the southward migration of a warmth-loving creature like the armadillo from the Midwest.Since the 1940s the mean global temperature has dropped about 2.7° F. Although that figure is at best an estimate, it is supported by other convincing data. When Climatologist George J. Kukla of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory and his wife Helena analyzed satellite weather data for the Northern Hemisphere, they found that the area of the ice and snow cover had suddenly increased by 12% in 1971 and the increase has persisted ever since. Areas of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, for example, were once totally free of any snow in summer; now they are covered year round.

Scientists have found other indications of global cooling. For one thing there has been a noticeable expansion of the great belt of dry, high-altitude polar winds — the so-called circumpolar vortex—that sweep from west to east around the top and bottom of the world. Indeed it is the widening of this cap of cold air that is the immediate cause of Africa’s drought. By blocking moisture-bearing equatorial winds and preventing them from bringing rainfall to the parched sub-Sahara region, as well as other drought-ridden areas stretching all the way from Central America to the Middle East and India, the polar winds have in effect caused the Sahara and other deserts to reach farther to the south. Paradoxically, the same vortex has created quite different weather quirks in the U.S. and other temperate zones. As the winds swirl around the globe, their southerly portions undulate like the bottom of a skirt. Cold air is pulled down across the Western U.S. and warm air is swept up to the Northeast. The collision of air masses of widely differing temperatures and humidity can create violent storms—the Midwest’s recent rash of disastrous tornadoes, for example.