A Sunspot from the Next Solar Cycle

Spaceweather.com

July 8, 2019: Solar Cycle 25 is coming to life. For the second time this month, a sunspot from the next solar cycle has emerged in the sun’s southern hemisphere. Numbered “AR2744”, it is inset in this magnetic map of the sun’s surface from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory:

How do we know this sunspot belongs to Solar Cycle 25? Its magnetic polarity tells us so. Southern sunspots from old Solar Cycle 24 have a -/+ polarity. This sunspot is the opposite: +/-. According to Hale’s Law, sunspots switch polarities from one solar cycle to the next. AR2744 is therefore a member of Solar Cycle 25.

Solar cycles always mix together at their boundaries. Right now we are experiencing the tail end of decaying Solar Cycle 24. AR2744 shows that we are simultaneously experiencing the first stirrings of Solar Cycle 25. The transition between Solar Cycle 24 and Solar Cycle…

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Battery Storage – An Infinitesimally Small Part of Electrical Power

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

Guest essay by Steve Goreham

Large-scale storage of electricity is the latest proposed solution to boost the deployment of renewables. Renewable energy advocates, businesses, and state governments plan to use batteries to store electricity to solve the problem of intermittent wind and solar output. But large-scale storage is only an insignificant part of the electrical power industry and doomed to remain so for decades to come.

Last month, Senator Susan Collins of Maine introduced a bi-partisan bill named “The Better Energy Storage Technology Act,” proposing to spend $300 million to promote the development of battery solutions for electrical power. Collins stated, “Next-generation energy storage devices will help enhance the efficiency and reliability of our electric grid, reduce energy costs, and promote the adoption of renewable resources.”

Arizona, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Oregon adopted statutes or goals to develop storage systems for grid power, with New York committing to most ambitious target in the nation. In January, as part of his mandate for “100 percent clean power by 2040,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a target to deploy 3,000 megawatts (MW) of storage by 2030.

Today, 29 states have renewable portfolio standards laws, requiring utilities to purchase increasing amounts of renewable energy. But the electricity output from wind and solar systems is intermittent. On average, wind output is between 25% and 35% of rated output. Solar output is even less, delivering an average of about 15% to 20% percent of rated output.

Mandating the addition of wind and solar to power systems is like forcing a one-car family to buy a second car that runs only 30% of the time. The family can’t replace the original car with the new intermittent car, but must then maintain two cars.

Renewable advocates now propose electricity storage to solve the intermittency problem and to help renewable energy replace traditional coal, natural gas, and nuclear generators. When wind and solar output is high, excess electricity would be stored in batteries and then delivered when renewable output is low, to try to replace traditional power plants that generate electricity around the clock.

Headlines laud the growth of battery installations for grid storage, growing 80% last year and up 400% from 2014. But the amount of US electricity stored by batteries today is less than miniscule.

Pumped storage, not batteries, provides about 97% of grid power storage in the United States today. Pumped storage uses electricity to pump water into an elevated reservoir to be used to drive a turbine when electricity is needed. But less than one in every 100,000 watts of US electricity comes from pumped storage.

In 2018, US power plants generated 4.2 million GW-hours of electrical power. Pumped storage capacity totaled about 23 GW-hrs. Battery storage provided only about 1 GW-hr of capacity. Less than one-millionth of our electricity is stored in grid-scale batteries.

Electricity storage is expensive. Pumped storage is the least costly form of grid storage at about $2,000 per kilowatt, but requires areas where an elevated reservoir can be used. Battery storage costs about $2,500 per kilowatt for discharge duration of two hours or more. Batteries are more expensive than onshore wind energy, which has an installed market price of under $1,000 per kilowatt. But a key factor in the effectiveness of storage is the length of time that the system can deliver stored electricity.

In the case of New York State, plans call for the installation of 9,000 MW of offshore wind capacity by 2035 and 3,000 MW of battery storage by 2030. The wind system will likely cost in excess of $9 billion, and the battery system will likely cost about $7.5 billion. But this planned battery deployment is wholly inadequate to remove the wind intermittency.

If the wind system has an average output of 33% of its rated output, then the planned 3,000 MW of battery storage would only be able to deliver the average wind output for about two hours. To replace output for a full day when the wind isn’t blowing, 36,000 MW of storage would be needed at a cost of $90 billion, or about ten times as much as the wind system itself. Since several days without wind in most locations is common, even a day of battery backup is inadequate.

In addition, the 10-15 year lifetime of grid-scale batteries is no bargain. Wind and solar systems are rated for 20-25 years of service life. Traditional coal, natural gas, and nuclear systems last for 35 years or more.

Storage of electricity should be regarded as foolish by anyone in the manufacturing industry. For decades, major companies pursued just-in-time manufacturing, “lot size one,” Kanban, lean manufacturing, and other programs designed to eliminate finished goods inventory to reduce costs. Electricity is delivered immediately upon generation, the ultimate zero-finished-goods-inventory product. But many organizations now clamor for electricity storage to try to fix the intermittency weakness of renewables.

Today, battery grid storage capacity is less than one millionth of national electricity output. Practical battery storage adds a cost factor of at least ten to the cost of the partner renewable system. It will be decades before battery storage plays a significant role in large-scale power systems, if ever.


Originally published in Energy Central. Republished here at the request of the author

Steve Goreham is a speaker on the environment, business, and public policy and author of the book Outside the Green Box: Rethinking Sustainable Development.

H20 the Gorilla Climate Molecule

Science Matters

In climate discussions, someone is bound to say: Climate is a lot more than temperatures. And of course, they are right. So let’s consider the other major determinant of climate, precipitation.

The chart above is actually a screen capture of real-time measurements of precipitable water in the atmosphere.  The 24-hour animation can be accessed at MIMIC-TPW ver.2 .  H/T Ireneusz Palmowski, who commented:  “I do not understand why scientists deal with anthropogenic CO2, although the entire convection in the troposphere is driven by water vapor (and ozone in high latitudes).”

These images show that H2O is driving the heat engine through its phase changes (liquid to vapor to liquid (and sometimes ice crystals as well).  And as far as radiative heat transfer is concerned, 95% of it is done by water molecules.  Below is an essay going into the dynamics of precipitation, its variability over the earth’s surface, and…

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A Second Look At Radiation Versus Temperature

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach [See Update at end]

I kept going back and looking at the graphic from my previous post on radiation and temperature. It kept niggling at me. It shows the change in surface temperature compared to the contemporaneous change in how much energy the surface is absorbing. Here’s that graphic again:

Figure 1. From my previous post. It is a scatterplot showing the dependence of temperature on the total downwelling radiation (longwave plus shortwave) absorbed by the surface.

What I found botheracious were the outliers at the top of the diagram. I knew what they were from, which was the El Nino/La Nina of 2015-2016.

After thinking about that, I realized I’d left one factor out of the calculations above. What the El Nino phenomenon does is to periodically pump billions of cubic meters of the warmest Pacific equatorial water towards the poles. And I’d left that advected energy transfer out of the equation in Figure 1. (Horizontal transfer of energy from one place on earth to another is called “advection”).

And it’s not just advection of energy caused by El Nino. In general, heat is advected from the tropics towards the poles by the action of the ocean and the atmosphere. Figure 2 shows the average amount of energy exported (plus) or imported (minus) around the globe.

Figure 2. Net energy exported or imported by each 1° latitude by 1° longitude gridcell. The amount of the imbalance is calculated as the top of atmosphere (TOA) energy imbalance (downwelling solar minus upwelling longwave and reflected solar)

If there is no advection of energy, which occurs at the white line in Figure 2, then solar entering the system equals energy leaving to space. Figure 2 shows how the tropics absorbs much more than it is radiating. The difference is the energy transferred polewards.

As you can see above, the strongest energy export is from the tropical Pacific. And on the other hand, the most energy is imported into the Arctic. The Arctic receives more than the Antarctic because the entire Arctic Ocean is getting advected energy in the form of warm water moved up from the tropics. Antarctica, on the other hand, is only strongly warmed along the edges, with the interior receiving less energy.

Now, having that advection data allows me to make a better calculation of the relationship between surface energy absorption and temperature change. To do that, I simply adjusted the energy received by each gridcell in the prior calculation (Figure 1) according to the amount of energy that that gridcell either imported or exported. Figure 3 shows that result.

Figure 3. Scatterplot of surface temperature versus the sum of surface downwelling longwave and shortwave energy, plus or minus the amount of energy advected.

This is an interesting result. Note that the outliers from the El Nino phenomenon seen in Figure 1 are now much closer to the trend line. And the same is true for the outliers at the bottom left of Figure 1. (Statistically, this is reflected in an improvement in the R^2 value from 0.72 in Figure 1, to 0.78 after adjusting for advected energy as shown in Figure 3 .)

I note also that the trend in Figure 3 (0.39°C per 3.7 W/m2) is virtually identical to the 0.38 trend seen in Figure 1. Since the amount of energy exported is equal to the amount of energy imported, we’d expect the errors from ignoring advection to be symmetrical. I take the lack of change in the trend as support for the idea that some amount of the errors in Figure 1 were indeed due to ignoring advection.

[UPDATE] As in my previous post, I’ve compared the results to those we get using the HadCRUT temperature dataset in place of the CERES dataset. First, here is the previous comparison:

Figure 4. As in Figure 1 above, showing results without advected energy, but using the HadCRUT surface temperature dataset.

Note that as with the CERES dataset, the high values are from the El Nino phenomenon. Now, compare Figure 4 to Figure 5 below, which includes the advected energy.

Figure 5. As in Figure 4, but including the advected energy.

In a very similar manner to the CERES data, including the advected energy brings the El Nino data much closer to the trend line. In addition, as with CERES data, the trend is unchanged by the advected energy.

Incremental improvements …

Me, I’m working at finishing out the interior of a friend’s house on the Kenai River in Alaska, so my response time to the comments may be longer.

Best to all and sundry … and if “all” is really all, then what is “sundry”?

Arctic Sea Ice Volume 20190526

DMI has stopped producing their Ice Volume Charts. 

[Edit:  DMI has embedded their Ice Volume charts in the Thickness Chart, here:

https://i0.wp.com/ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/icethickness/images/FullSize_CICE_combine_thick_SM_EN_20190526.pngHere’s the link to the DMI charts (click here):

So here’s the PIOMAS product.

BPIOMASIceVolumeAnomaly20190526

A linear trend fit onto a naturally cyclical physical system is ridiculous.

So, here’s a crude hand-drawn curve to their product.  Different perspective.

BPIOMASIceVolumeAnomaly20190526 with sine curve

Be wary of linear trend lines.

 

The Greenhouse Deception Explained

NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

By Paul Homewood

A nice and concise video, well worth watching and circulating:

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SVENSMARK’s Force Majeure, The Sun’s Large Role in Climate Change

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

GUEST: HENRIK SVENSMARK

By H. Sterling Burnett

By bombarding the Earth with cosmic rays and being a driving force behind cloud formations, the sun plays a much larger role on climate than “consensus scientists” care to admit.

The Danish National Space Institute’s Dr. Henrik Svensmark has assembled a powerful array of data and evidence in his recent study, Force Majeure the Sun’s Large Role in Climate Change.

The study shows that throughout history and now, the sun plays a powerful role in climate change. Solar activity impacts cosmic rays which are tied to cloud formation. Clouds, their abundance or dearth, directly affects the earth’s climate.

Climate models don’t accurately account for the role of clouds or solar activity in climate change, with the result they assume the earth is much more sensitive to greenhouse gas levels than it is. Unfortunately, the impact of clouds and the sun on climate are understudied because climate science has become so politicized.

Full audio interview here:  Interview with Dr. Henrick Svensmark

 

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

Analysis of new NASA AIRS study: 80% of U.S. Warming has been at Night

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

By Dr. Roy Spencer

I have previously addressed the NASA study that concluded the AIRS satellite temperatures “verified global warming trends“. The AIRS is an infrared temperature sounding instrument on the NASA Aqua satellite, providing data since late 2002 (over 16 years). All results in that study, and presented here, are based upon infrared measurements alone, with no microwave temperature sounder data being used in these products.

That reported study addressed only the surface “skin” temperature measurements, but the AIRS is also used to retrieve temperature profiles throughout the troposphere and stratosphere — that’s 99.9% of the total mass of the atmosphere.

Since AIRS data are also used to retrieve a 2 meter temperature (the traditional surface air temperature measurement height), I was curious why that wasn’t used instead of the surface skin temperature. Also, AIRS allows me to compare to our UAH tropospheric deep-layer temperature products.

So, I downloaded the entire archive of monthly average AIRS temperature retrievals on a 1 deg. lat/lon grid (85 GB of data). I’ve been analyzing those data over various regions (global, tropical, land, ocean). While there are a lot of interesting results I could show, today I’m going to focus just on the United States.

AIRS temperature trend profiles averaged over the contiguous United States, Sept. 2002 through March 2019. Gray represents an average of day and night. Trends are based upon monthly departures from the average seasonal cycle during 2003-2018. The UAH LT temperature trend (and it’s approximate vertical extent) is in violet, and NOAA surface air temperature trends (Tmax, Tmin, Tavg) are indicated by triangles. The open circles are the T2m retrievals, which appear to be less trustworthy than the Tskin retrievals.

Because the Aqua satellite observes at nominal local times of 1:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., this allows separation of data into “day” and “night”. It is well known that recent warming of surface air temperatures (both in the U.S. and globally) has been stronger at night than during the day, but the AIRS data shows just how dramatic the day-night difference is… keeping in mind this is only the most recent 16.6 years (since September 2002):

The AIRS surface skin temperature trend at night (1:30 a.m.) is a whopping +0.57 C/decade, while the daytime (1:30 p.m.) trend is only +0.15 C/decade. This is a bigger diurnal difference than indicated by the NOAA Tmax and Tmin trends (triangles in the above plot). Admittedly, 1:30 a.m. and 1:30 pm are not when the lowest and highest temperatures of the day occur, but I wouldn’t expect as large a difference in trends as is seen here, at least at night.

Furthermore, these day-night differences extend up through the lower troposphere, to higher than 850 mb (about 5,000 ft altitude), even showing up at 700 mb (about 12,000 ft. altitude).

This behavior also shows up in globally-averaged land areas, and reverses over the ocean (but with a much weaker day-night difference). I will report on this at some point in the future.

If real, these large day-night differences in temperature trends is fascinating behavior. My first suspicion is that it has something to do with a change in moist convection and cloud activity during warming. For instance more clouds would reduce daytime warming but increase nighttime warming. But I looked at the seasonal variations in these signatures and (unexpectedly) the day-night difference is greatest in winter (DJF) when there is the least convective activity and weakest in summer (JJA) when there is the most convective activity.

One possibility is that there is a problem with the AIRS temperature retrievals (now at Version 6). But it seems unlikely that this problem would extend through such a large depth of the lower troposphere. I can’t think of any reason why there would be such a large bias between day and night retrievals when it can be seen in the above figure that there is essentially no difference from the 500 mb level upward.

It should be kept in mind that the lower tropospheric and surface temperatures can only be measured by AIRS in the absence of clouds (or in between clouds). I have no idea how much of an effect this sampling bias would have on the results.

Finally, note how well the AIRS low- to mid-troposphere temperature trends match the bulk trend in our UAH LT product. I will be examining this further for larger areas as well.

The Cooling Rains

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

I took another ramble through the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) satellite-measured rainfall data. Figure 1 shows a Pacific-centered and an Atlantic-centered view of the average rainfall from the end of 1997 to the start of 2015 as measured by the TRMM satellite.

Figure 1. Average rainfall, meters per year, on a 1° latitude by 1° longitude basis. The area covered by the satellite data, forty degrees north and south of the Equator, is just under 2/3 of the globe. The blue areas by the Equator mark the InterTropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). The two black horizontal dashed lines mark the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, the lines showing how far north and south the sun travels each year (23.45°, for those interested).

There’s lots of interesting stuff in those two graphs. I was surprised by how much of the planet in general, and the ocean in particular, are bright red, meaning they get less than half a meter (20″) of rain per year.

I was also intrigued by how narrowly the rainfall is concentrated at the average Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). The ITCZ is where the two great global hemispheres of the atmospheric circulation meet near the Equator. In the Pacific and Atlantic on average the ITCZ is just above the Equator, and in the Indian Ocean, it’s just below the Equator. However, that’s just on average. Sometimes in the Pacific, the ITCZ is below the Equator. You can see kind of a mirror image as a light orange horizontal area just below the Equator.

Here’s an idealized view of the global circulation. On the left-hand edge of the globe, I’ve drawn a cross section through the atmosphere, showing the circulation of the great atmospheric cells.

Figure 2. Generalized overview of planetary atmospheric circulation. At the ITCZ along the Equator, tall thunderstorms take warm surface air, strip out the moisture as rain, and drive the warm dry air vertically. This warm dry air eventually subsides somewhere around 25-30°N and 25-30S of the Equator, creating the global desert belts at around those latitudes.

The ITCZ is shown in cross-section at the left edge of the globe in Figure 2. You can see the general tropical circulation. Surface air in both hemispheres moves towards the Equator. It is warmed there and rises. This thermal circulation is greatly sped up by air driven vertically at high rates of speed through the tall thunderstorm towers. These thunderstorms form all along the ITCZ. These thunderstorms provide much of the mechanical energy that drives the atmospheric circulation of the Hadley cells.

With all of that as prologue, here’s what I looked at. I got to thinking, was there a trend in the rainfall? Is it getting wetter or drier? So I looked at that using the TRMM data. Figure 3 shows the annual change in rainfall, in millimeters per year, on a 1° latitude by 1° longitude basis.

Figure 3. Annual change in the rainfall, 1° latitude x 1° longitude gridcells.

I note that the increase in rain is greater on the ocean vs land, is greatest at the ITCZ, and is generally greater in the tropics.

Why is this overall trend in rainfall of interest? It gives us a way to calculate how much this cools the surface. Remember the old saying, what comes down must go up … or perhaps it’s the other way around, same thing. If it rains an extra millimeter of water, somewhere it must have evaporated an extra millimeter of water.

And in the same way that our bodies are cooled by evaporation, the surface of the planet is also cooled by evaporation.

Now, we note above that on average, the increase is 1.33 millimeters of water per year. Metric is nice because volume and size are related. Here’s a great example.

One millimeter of rain falling on one square meter of the surface is one liter of water which is one kilo of water. Nice, huh?

So the extra 1.33 millimeters of rain per year is equal to 1.33 extra liters of water evaporated per square meter of surface area.

Next, how much energy does it take to evaporate that extra 1.33 liters of water per square meter so it can come down as rain? The calculations are in the endnotes. It turns out that this 1.33 extra liters per year represents an additional cooling of a tenth of a watt per square meter (0.10 W/m2).

And how does this compare to the warming from increased longwave radiation due to the additional CO2? Well, again, the calculations are in the endnotes. The answer is, per the IPCC calculations, CO2 alone over the period gave a yearly increase in downwelling radiation of ~ 0.03 W/m2. Generally, they double that number to allow for other greenhouse gases (GHGs), so for purposes of discussion, we’ll call it 0.06 W/m2 per year.

So over the period of this record, we have increased evaporative cooling of 0.10 W/m2 per year, and we have increased radiative warming from GHGs of 0.06 W/m2 per year.

Which means that over that period and that area at least, the calculated increase in warming radiation from GHGs was more than counterbalanced by the observed increase in surface cooling from increased evaporation.

Regards to all,

w.

As usual: please quote the exact words you are discussing so we can all understand exactly what and who you are replying to.

Additional Cooling

Finally, note that this calculation is only evaporative cooling. There are other cooling mechanisms at work that are related to rainstorms. These include:

• Increased cloud albedo reflecting hundreds of watts/square meter of sunshine back to space

• Moving surface air to the upper troposphere where it is above most GHGs and freer to cool to space.

• Increased ocean surface albedo from whitecaps, foam, and spume.

• Cold rain falling from a layer of the troposphere that is much cooler than the surface.

• Rain re-evaporating as it falls to cool the atmosphere

• Cold wind entrained by the rain blowing outwards at surface level to cool surrounding areas

• Dry descending air between rain cells and thunderstorms allowing increased longwave radiation to space.

Between all of these, they form a very strong temperature regulating mechanism that prevents overheating of the planet.

Calculation of energy required to evaporate 1.33 liters of water.

#latent heat evaporation joules/kg @ salinity 35 psu, temperature 24°C

> latevap = gsw_latentheat_evap_t( 35, 24 ) ; latevap

[1] 2441369

# joules/yr/m2 required to evaporate 1.33 liters/yr/m2

> evapj = latevap * 1.33 ; evapj

[1] 3247021

# convert joules/yr/m2 to W/m2

> evapwm2 = evapj / secsperyear ; evapwm2

[1] 0.1028941

Note: the exact answer varies dependent on seawater temperature, salinity, and density. These only make a difference of a couple percent (say 0.1043 vs 0.1028941). I’ve used average values.

Calculation of downwelling radiation change from CO2 increase.

#starting CO2 ppmv Dec 1997

> thestart = as.double( coshort[1] ) ; thestart

[1] 364.38

#ending CO2 ppmv Mar 2015

> theend = as.double( last( coshort )) ; theend

[1] 401.54

# longwave increase, W/m2 per year over 17 years 4 months

> 3.7 * log( theend / thestart, 2)/17.33

[1] 0.0299117

Basic Science: 4 Keys to Melt Fears About Ice Sheets Melting

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

William Ward, April 18, 2019


[HiFast BLUF:  Here’s the author’s summary/bottom line up front.] Despite the overwhelming number of popular news reports to the contrary, studies of ice sheets melting over the past century show remarkable ice stability. Using the proper scientific perspective, analysis of ice-melt rates and ice-mass losses show the ice sheets will take hundreds of thousands of years to melt, assuming the next glacial period doesn’t start first. An application of basic physics shows that for every 1 °C of atmospheric heat exchanged with the ice sheets we get a maximum 0.4 inches of SLR and a correspondingly cooler atmosphere. Over the 20th century, we observed a worst-case 4:1 ratio of consumed heat to retained atmospheric heat. It is proposed that this ratio can be used to assess potential ice-melt related SLR for a hypothetical atmospheric temperature increase scenario over the current century. Using a reasonable range for all of the variables we can estimate an SLR of between 1.4 – 6.4 inches, but our current observations support the rise being toward the lower end of that range.

The atmosphere and oceans do not show the increase in energy necessary to cause catastrophic SLR from rapidly melting ice. Humankind does not possess the technology to melt a significant amount of ice because the energy required is enormous and only nature can meter out this energy over very long periods. With the proper scientific perspective about the amount of energy required to melt ice, it should be much more difficult for Climate Alarmists to scare the public with scenarios not supported by basic science.


 

The world is drowning in articles about catastrophic sea level rise (SLR), reminding us that if the ice sheets melt, 260 feet of water will flood our coastal cities. We know that sea level today is 20-30 feet lower than it was at the end of the last interglacial period 120,000 years ago. We also know that sea level has risen 430 feet since the end of the last glacial maximum 22,000 years ago. Research shows this rise was not monotonic but oscillatory, and during periods over the past 10,000 years, sea level has been several meters higher than today. So, evidence supports the possibility of higher sea levels, but does the evidence support the possibility of catastrophic sea level rise from rapidly melting ice?

In this paper, basic science is used to show that catastrophic SLR from melting ice cannot happen naturally over a short period. Additionally, humankind does not possess the capability to melt a large amount of ice quickly even through our most advanced technology. This news should relieve the public, which is routinely deceived by reporting that misrepresents the facts. The public is susceptible to unnecessary alarmism when melt rates and ice-melt masses are presented without perspective and juxtaposed against claims that scientists are worried. This paper uses the same facts but places them in perspective to show that catastrophic risks do not exist.

Ice Sheets Melting: Deceptive Reporting

The growing alarm over melting ice sheets is directly attributable to deceptive reporting. The sheer number of reports inundates the public with an incessant message of angst. A single scientific study can be the source for headlines in hundreds of news articles. With social media repeating the news and the subsequent chorus of lectures from celebrities and politicians, we find ourselves in the deafening echo chamber of Climate Alarmism. However, it is a mistake to assume the real risks are proportional to the frequency or intensity of the message.

The primary problem is that the news writers do not have the scientific background to report on the subject responsibly, and therefore they routinely corrupt and distort the facts. Take for example an article in Smithsonian dated September 1, 2016, entitled “Melting Glaciers Are Wreaking Havoc on Earth’s Crust.” The first two sentences of the article read:

“You’ve no doubt by now been inundated with the threat of global sea level rise. At the current estimated rate of one-tenth of an inch each year, sea level rise could cause large swaths of cities like New York, Galveston and Norfolk to disappear underwater in the next 20 years.”

A sea level rise rate of one-tenth of an inch per year yields 2 inches of SLR in 20 years. Topographical maps show the lowest elevations of these cities are more than ten feet above sea level. No portion of these cities will disappear underwater from 2 inches of SLR.

The news writers seem obligated to pepper the facts with their own opinions such as “… climate change is real, undeniable and caused by humans.” It is often difficult for the reader to discern the facts from the opinions. However, even the facts become troubling because they consist of numbers without the perspective to understand their significance and are wrapped in existential angst. Consider the following excerpt from a June 13, 2018 article in the Washington Post, entitled “Antarctic ice loss has tripled in a decade. If that continues, we are in serious trouble.”

“Antarctica’s ice sheet is melting at a rapidly increasing rate, now pouring more than 200 billion tons of ice into the ocean annually and raising sea levels a half-millimeter every year, a team of 80 scientists reported… The melt rate in Antarctica has tripled in the past decade, the study concluded. If the acceleration continues, some of scientists’ worst fears about rising oceans could be realized, leaving low-lying cities and communities with less time to prepare than they had hoped.”

As reported, the reader assumes a melt rate that has tripled must be dire, and billions of tons of melting ice must be extreme. However, this perception changes if the facts are analyzed to provide perspective. An analysis shows that the original annual melt rate of 1.3 parts-per-million (ppm) has increased to nearly 4 ppm over 26 years. The news writer failed to inform us of these facts which provide perspective. The new melt rate is analogous to losing 4 dollars out of 1 million dollars. Losing slightly less than 4 parts in 1 million each year means that it will take over 250,000 years to melt entirely. No natural process is static, so we should expect variation over time. Most change is cyclical. Sometimes the ice is increasing and sometimes it is decreasing. The average person’s body mass fluctuates by 20,000 to 40,000 ppm each day. By comparison, Antarctica varying by 1-4 ppm over a year should be considered rock-solid stability in the natural world.

Ice Sheets Melting: What Happened Over the Past Century

Antarctica holds 91% of the world’s land ice, Greenland 8%, and the remaining 1% is spread over the rest of the world. Therefore, by understanding what is happening to the ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland, we understand what is happening to 99% of the world’s land ice.

NASA is a good source for research about what is happening in Antarctica. However, two NASA agencies have recently published studies with conflicting conclusions. The Goddard Space Flight Center recently published research concluding Antarctica is not contributing to SLR. According to the study, snow accumulation exceeded ice melting, resulting in a 0.5-inch sea level reduction since 1900. Contrarily, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) reports that the rate of Ice loss from Antarctica has tripled since 2012 and contributed 0.3 inches to SLR between 1992 and 2017. To cover the worst-case scenario, we can analyze the JPL study and provide the perspective to understand their results.

Over 26 years, Antarctica’s average annual mass loss was less than 0.00040% of its total. If Antarctica were a 220 lb man, his mass loss each year would be 0.4 grams or about eight tears. (Eight human tears weigh about 0.4 g.) At this alarming rate that makes our most elite climate scientists worried, it would take 250,185 years to melt all of the ice. It would take over 1,000 years of melting to yield 12 inches of SLR from Antarctica if we ignore natural variability and the cyclical nature of ice volume and assume the melt rate continues uninterrupted.

The best information we have about Greenland comes from a study in the journal Nature, estimating Greenland’s ice losses between 1900 – 2010. Using current ice volume estimates from USGS, we calculate the ice mass in 2010 was between 99.5% – 99.8% of what it was in 1900. Ice melt from Greenland in the 111 years contributed 0.6 – 1.3 inches to SLR. It would take over 1,300 years of melting to yield 12 inches of SLR from Greenland if we ignore natural variability and the cyclical nature of ice volume and assume the melt rate continues uninterrupted.

The average annual inland temperature in Antarctica is -57 °C and most coastal stations average -5 °C to -15 °C. The much talked about Western Antarctica averages several degrees below 0 °C. Southern Greenland does experience summer temperatures above 0 °C and seasonal melting. Northern Greenland stays below 0 °C even in the summer months, and the average annual inland temperatures are -20 °C to -30 °C. The temperatures in Greenland and Antarctica are not warm enough to support significant rapid ice melt. In the past century, we have 1 °C of retained atmospheric heat, and enough heat exchanged with ice in Greenland and Antarctica to raise sea level by 0.9 – 1.6 inches. Despite all of the reports in the media to the contrary, we have no real observations of any ice melt crisis. The past 111 years have been remarkable because of ice stability – not because of ice melting. We are 19 years into the 21st century with no evidence supporting an outcome much different from the 20th century.

Ice Sheets Melting: The Process

The lifecycle of an ice sheet begins as snow. Snow falls in the higher elevations and over time it compacts and becomes ice. The ice thickness in Antarctica is over 12,000 feet in the center of the continent and over 9,000 feet over most of East Antarctica. The force of gravity initiates a thousand-year journey where the ice flows from its heights back to the sea. At the end of this journey, when its weight can no longer be supported by the sea, it “calves” and becomes an iceberg. Some icebergs can float around Antarctica for over 30 years before fully melting. So, young ice is born inland from snow, and old ice dies near the coast from seasonal melting or after drifting for years as an iceberg. This process is the natural cycle of ice and not one which should create panic. During some periods we have more snow accumulating than ice melting, such as the period between 1300 CE and 1850 CE, known as the “Little Ice Age.” During other periods we have more ice melting than snow accumulating, such as the Medieval Warm Period and our present time.

In our present time, sunlight alone is insufficient to cause significant changes to ice sheet mass. Sunlight must act in concert with other effects such as cloud cover, water vapor and other “greenhouse” gasses such as CO2. Regardless of the mechanisms, the Earth system must do two things to melt more ice: 1) retain more heat energy and 2) via the atmosphere, transport this heat to the poles and transfer it to the ice. Additional heat energy in the system cannot melt ice unless this transport and transfer happen.

Ice Sheets Melting: Conservation of Energy

A 2007 study by Shepherd and Wingham published in Science shows the current melt rate from Greenland and Antarctica contribute 0.014 inches to SLR each year. For perspective, the thickness of 3 human hairs is greater than 0.014 inches. The results align reasonably well with the other studies mentioned. Despite the minuscule amount of actual SLR from melting ice, NOAA and the IPCC provide 21st century SLR projections that range from a few inches to several meters. The wide range of uncertainty leads to angst about catastrophe; however, the use of basic science allows us to provide reasonable bounds to the possibilities.

Before the start of the American Revolution, Scottish scientist Joseph Black (and others) solved the mysteries of specific heat and latent heat, which gives us the relationship between heat energy, changing states of matter (solid/liquid) and change of temperature. Equations 1 and 2 give us the mathematical relationships for specific heat and latent heat respectively:

(1) E = mc∆T

(2) E = mL

Where E is thermal energy (Joules), m is the mass (kg), c is the “specific heat” constant (J/kg/°C), ∆T is the change in temperature (°C), and L is the latent heat constant (J/kg). Specific heat is the amount of heat energy that we must add (or remove) from a specified mass to increase (or decrease) the temperature of that mass by 1 °C. Latent heat is the thermal energy released or absorbed during a constant temperature phase change. If we know the mass of the ice, water or atmosphere, it is easy to calculate the amount of energy it takes to change its temperature, melt it or freeze it.

Understanding that energy is conserved when melting ice, the equations above can be used to calculate the temperature effects that must be observed in the oceans or atmosphere to support an ice melt scenario. We can provide reasonable bounds and reduce the uncertainty.

See the reference section at the end of the paper for all sources and calculations.

Key #1: Importance of the Latent Heat of Fusion

It is essential to understand the latent heat of fusion because of the enormous amount of heat energy that is required to change the state of H2O from solid to liquid. Figure 1 shows the specific heat and phase change diagram for water. The blue line shows the temperature of water in °C (y-axis) plotted against the change in thermal energy in kJ/kg (x-axis). It shows how temperature and energy are related as we go from cold solid ice to boiling liquid water. The average annual inland temperature of Greenland is -25 °C and this is the reason for Point 1 on the line. If we start at Point 1 and progress to Point 2, this shows how much heat energy must be added to change the temperature of 1kg of ice from -25 °C to 0 °C. It is important to note that at Point 2, the ice is still 100% solid at 0 °C.

Figure 1: Water Phase/Specific Heat Diagram

The diagram reveals something interesting about the behavior of water. As we progress from Point 2 to Point 3, the water undergoes a phase change from solid to liquid. There is no temperature change as the ice becomes liquid water; however, a large amount of heat energy must be added. The energy that must be added to change the phase of water from solid to liquid is the latent heat of fusion. For melting ice, temperature alone does not inform us about what is happening to the system. To assess ice melting, we must understand the net change of energy. Whether we melt 1kg of ice or the entire ice sheet in Greenland, using Equations 1 and 2, we can easily calculate the energy required to do so. Going from Point 1 to Point 3 requires 3.86×105 Joules of energy for each kg of ice mass warmed and melted. For simplicity, we call this quantity of energy “E.”

Figure 1 also shows what happens as we move from Point 3 (0 °C liquid seawater) to Point 4 (seawater starting to boil at 100 °C). It takes a measure of energy “E” to move between Points 3 and 4, just as it does to move between Points 1 and 3. Therefore, as shown in Table 1, the energy required to melt the ice is equivalent to the energy required to heat the meltwater to a boil at 100 °C. (Note: the fresh water from the ice is assumed to flow to the oceans.)

Energy to melt 1kg of polar ice from -25 °C to 0 °C water <– Is Equal To –> Energy to raise the temperature of 1kg of seawater from 0 °C to 100 °C

Table 1: Relating Energy Between Polar Ice Melt and Boiling Water

Key #2: Total Energy Required to Melt the Ice Sheets

Using Equations 1 and 2, we calculate that the total heat energy required to melt the ice sheets entirely is 1.32×1025 J. This value can be given perspective by calculating the increase in ocean water temperature that would result from adding 1.32×1025 J of heat. We know that deep ocean water below the thermocline is very stable in temperature between 0-3 °C. 90% of the ocean water mass is below the thermocline. The thermocline and surface layer above contains the ocean water that responds to changes in atmospheric heat, whether that be from seasonal changes or climate changes. Therefore, if we constrain the 1.32×1025 J of heat energy to the upper 10% of the ocean mass, we calculate the temperature increase would be 25.6 °C, assuming equal heat distribution for simplicity of analysis. This increase would make the surface temperature of equatorial ocean water close to 55 °C, similar to a cup of hot coffee. Polar seas would be perfect for swimming at nearly 25 °C. According to NOAA, over the past 50 years, the average ocean surface temperature has increased approximately 0.25 °C.

Another way to give perspective is to calculate the increase in atmospheric temperature that would result from adding 1.32×1025 J of heat to the atmosphere. First, we must understand some related facts about the atmosphere. Heat energy must be transported by the atmosphere to the polar regions, or no ice can melt. However, the atmosphere’s capacity to store heat energy is extremely low compared to the energy required to melt all of the ice. The ice sheets contain more than 900 times the thermal energy below 0 °C as the atmosphere contains above 0 °C, and therefore the atmospheric heat energy must be replenished continuously to sustain ice melting. Melting polar ice with heat from the atmosphere is analogous to filling a bathtub with a thimble. The low specific heat of air is one reason the atmosphere lacks heat carrying capacity. The other reason is its low mass.

Figure 2 shows the vertical profile of the Earth’s atmosphere. The red line in Figure 2 shows the temperature of the atmosphere in °C (x-axis) plotted against the altitude in km (y-axis). 75% of the mass of the atmosphere is contained in the Troposphere, where all life (outside of the oceans) exists on Earth. Figure 2 reveals that most of the atmosphere is far too cold to melt ice. We can ignore the Upper Thermosphere as the mass of atmosphere contained in that layer is negligibly small. Only the Lower Troposphere below 2.5 km altitude contains air at a warm enough temperature to melt ice. (See the region of the graph enclosed in the yellow oval.) 35% of the atmospheric mass exists below 2.5 km, and the average temperature is ~ 8 °C.

Figure 2: Vertical Profile of Earth’s Atmosphere

Using Equation 1 with E = 1.32×1025 J, the mass of the atmosphere below 2.5 km and solving for ∆T, we can calculate what the temperature of the air below 2.5 km would be if it contained the energy required to melt all of the ice. The atmospheric temperature would have to be 7,300 °C, which is 1,522 °C hotter than the surface of the sun. Life on Earth would be in jeopardy from the increased atmospheric heat long before all of the ice melted. While there are no plausible thermodynamic pathways to heat the Earth’s atmosphere to such temperatures, the calculations of energy required are accurate. According to NASA, the global average temperature over the past 50 years has increased approximately 0.6 °C.

Key #3: SLR From Incremental Atmospheric Heat Exchange with Ice Sheets

It is said, “you can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Similarly, you can’t have atmospheric heat and melt with it too. If the ice consumes heat, then the atmosphere cools. If the atmosphere retains its heat, then no ice melts. So, let’s examine some scenarios where we trade energy from the atmosphere with ice to see how much corresponding SLR we can get.

Using Equation 1, we can determine the change in energy for a 1 °C temperature decrease in the atmosphere below 2.5km. We can then apply this energy to the ice, assume maximum melting volume and translate that to SLR. For every 1 °C of atmospheric energy transferred to the ice, we get 0.4 inches of SLR. Some IPCC scenarios project a 4 °C rise in “global average temperature” in the 21st century, due to increased atmospheric CO2. An increase in temperature does not melt any additional ice unless the heat is transferred to the ice. If 4 °C of energy from the atmosphere is transferred to the ice, we get a corresponding 1.7 inches of SLR and an atmosphere that is 4 °C cooler. If we transfer all of the energy in the atmosphere above 0 °C to the ice, then we get 3.4 inches of SLR and a world where the entire atmosphere is at or below 0 °C. The global average temperature would be 6 °C less than the coldest experienced during the depth of a glacial period.

To raise sea level by 12 inches would require the atmosphere to heat up by 28 °C before exchanging that energy with the ice. As we would experience it, the atmosphere would have to heat up by some incremental value, then exchange that incremental value of energy with the ice, thus cooling the atmosphere, and then repeat this process until the 28 °C of atmospheric heat is consumed.

Key #4: Maximum Ice Melt Potential from Technology

Keys #1-3 don’t offer much to support the possibility of large quantities of ice being melted rapidly by natural causes. The next obvious question is, can humankind generate enough heat with our most advanced technology to melt a significant amount of ice rapidly?

The power of the atom is one of the most awesome powers humankind has harnessed. There are 8,400 operational nuclear warheads in the world’s nuclear arsenal, with a total yield of 2,425 Megatons of TNT. It is interesting to note that the energy contained in this nuclear arsenal is over 800 times the equivalent explosive power used in World War II. It is said that there are enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world a hundred times over. So, perhaps this is enough energy to melt the ice sheets entirely. For this exercise, we assume the nuclear weapons release their energy slowly – only fast enough to melt ice and no faster. For maximum melting, we evenly distribute all of the weapons in the ice. However, when we convert 2,425 MT to Joules, we get a number that is far below the energy required to melt all of the ice. The SLR we could get by using all of the world’s nuclear weapons for melting ice would be 0.002 inches. For reference, the diameter of a human hair is 2.5 times thicker than this. If we want all of the ice to melt, we need to duplicate each weapon more than 1,300,000 times. So, it looks like our current arsenal of nuclear weapons is no match for the ice.

What other sources of power does humankind have that could be used to melt a significant amount of ice? The annual global energy production of electric power is 25 petawatt-hours (25×1015 Whr) or 9×1019 Joules. If we could, through some advanced technology, transfer all electric energy generated over one year to heaters buried in the ice, and do this with no transmission or distribution losses, then how much ice could we melt? The answer is 0.02 inches of SLR (equivalent to 4 human hair diameters). This scenario would require that humans not use any electric power for that entire year, for anything other than melting ice. Humanity would have to forego the benefits of electric power for over 146,000 years to melt all of the ice, assuming static conditions in the ice.

Ice Sheets Melting: Analysis

Since 1900 we have 1 °C of retained atmospheric heat, and enough heat consumed by the ice sheets to produce 0.9 – 1.6 inches of SLR. From Key #3 we learned 1.7 inches of SLR results from trading 4 °C of atmospheric heat for ice melting. Therefore, as a worst-case approximation, if there had been no net ice melt since 1900, the atmosphere would have heated by approximately 5 °C. We can conclude that ice melting consumed 4 °C of heat, leaving the atmosphere with 1 °C of retained heat. We observed a 4:1 ratio of consumed heat to retained heat in the 20th century, worst case. For the best-case approximation, we use the lower estimate of 0.9 inches of SLR, which yields a 2:1 ratio of consumed heat to retained heat over the same period. In one of the more extreme scenarios, the IPCC climate model projects 4 °C of atmospheric temperature rise in the 21st century. For a 4 °C rise scenario, using the worst-case ratio of consumed to retained heat, we can estimate a 6.4 inch SLR over that period. In a more moderate scenario, the IPCC projects a 1.5 °C temperature rise. For a 1.5 °C rise, using the best-case ratio of consumed to retained heat, we can estimate an SLR of 1.4 inches. Unfortunately, none of the climate models have been able to predict the climate accurately, and none of them backtest successfully. We are one-fifth of the way through the 21st century and do not appear to be on course for the IPCC’s worst-case temperature projections. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume the results for the 21st century will likely be very similar to the 20th century, with 1-2 inches of SLR.

Detailed analysis of the claimed Earth energy imbalance is beyond the scope of this paper. The analysis presented here exposes the effects that must occur from an imbalance that leads to catastrophic melting. The ice must absorb large quantities of heat energy for sustained periods. Therefore, inland temperatures over Antarctica and Greenland would need to be maintained well above 0 °C for significant portions of the year. Atmospheric heat lost to the ice would need to be continually replenished to perpetuate the process. The oceans store heat energy, but the large mass of the oceans with the high specific heat of seawater blunts the possible effects from that energy. The energy that would raise the first 2.5 km of atmospheric air by 1 °C would raise the first 1,000 feet of seawater by only 0.0035 °C. The 2nd law of thermodynamics requires a temperature difference to transfer heat energy. Small increases in ocean temperature cannot lead to large movements of heat energy to an already warmer atmosphere. Finally, the system must transport more heat energy to the polar regions. In reality, the Earth maintains a very large temperature gradient between the equator and the poles. Our observations do not show gradient changes that would support significant additional heat transport. Without the increased energy storage and transport, and sustained polar temperatures well above freezing, catastrophic ice melt scenarios are not possible.

Ice Sheets Melting: Summary

Despite the overwhelming number of popular news reports to the contrary, studies of ice sheets melting over the past century show remarkable ice stability. Using the proper scientific perspective, analysis of ice-melt rates and ice-mass losses show the ice sheets will take hundreds of thousands of years to melt, assuming the next glacial period doesn’t start first. An application of basic physics shows that for every 1 °C of atmospheric heat exchanged with the ice sheets we get a maximum 0.4 inches of SLR and a correspondingly cooler atmosphere. Over the 20th century, we observed a worst-case 4:1 ratio of consumed heat to retained atmospheric heat. It is proposed that this ratio can be used to assess potential ice-melt related SLR for a hypothetical atmospheric temperature increase scenario over the current century. Using a reasonable range for all of the variables we can estimate an SLR of between 1.4 – 6.4 inches, but our current observations support the rise being toward the lower end of that range.

The atmosphere and oceans do not show the increase in energy necessary to cause catastrophic SLR from rapidly melting ice. Humankind does not possess the technology to melt a significant amount of ice because the energy required is enormous and only nature can meter out this energy over very long periods. With the proper scientific perspective about the amount of energy required to melt ice, it should be much more difficult for Climate Alarmists to scare the public with scenarios not supported by basic science.

References

NASA Study: Mass Gains of Antarctic Ice Sheet Greater than Losses: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/nasa-study-mass-gains-of-antarctic-ice-sheet-greater-than-losses

Ramp-up in Antarctic ice loss speeds sea level rise: https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2749/ramp-up-in-antarctic-ice-loss-speeds-sea-level-rise/?fbclid=IwAR2Vnkbxxa-NTU_v0lRUUGGDffMs4Q6BGvHX-KHzcHM7-q2B7IO59wCEiQc

Sea Level and Climate (Fact Sheet 002-00): https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs2-00/

Spatial and temporal distribution of mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet since AD 1900: https://www.nature.com/articles/nature16183

Recent Sea-Level Contributions of the Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheets: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/315/5818/1529

All of the constants and calculations are provided in the associated Excel file located here: https://wattsupwiththat.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Ice-Atmosphere-Ocean-Energy-20190407-1-1.xlsx