Solar wind sculptures

windturbine.gif Time to nail my colours to the tall thing. Submissions on Mainpower’s Mt Cass windfarm consent application close on August 1st, and I’m running out of time to get one in (being busy, and all that). The opposition is getting itself organised, with a web site to co-ordinate dissenters, including a very nice gallery of pictures. I know (and love) this sort of landscape. I live in it.

I have some sympathy for the guys running the site, because I organised/designed/published the “Dump The Dump” web site for opponents of the Kate Valley landfill scheme. We lost, despite generating a record number of opposing submissions. I even did a presentation to the consent hearing, and got a mention in the final judgement. I still think we could have defeated the dump if we’d taken the issue to Christchurch, rather than kept it local and “played by the rules”…

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When Gray turns to blue/Flung a dummy

gray.jpg In a dramatic announcement today, Vincent R Gray, the retired coal researcher and diligent proof-reader of IPPC Working Group Reports (he’s inordinately proud of the fact that he submitted over 1,800 comments to the fourth report) has resigned from the Royal Society of New Zealand because of its recent statement on climate change. Given that Gray has been criticising the IPCC view of climate science for 18 years and is a vocal member of the NZ C”S”C, this is perhaps no surprise, but the statement he has issued as a riposte to the Royal Society is a minor classic of its genre. Vincent doesn’t so much spit the dummy as hurl it into low earth orbit, and uses pretty forthright language as he does so.

[Hat tip: Sam Vilain in a recent comment]

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Long shot kick de bucket (no warming since 1958)

homer.jpg At last, the NZ Climate “Science” Coalition publish their response to the Royal Society of New Zealand’s recent statement on climate change. As I predicted, they’ve made my day. Let’s consider the circumstances. We have the nation’s leading science organisation, and a panel of the nation’s leading climate scientists – including a few Nobel prizewinners – presenting the evidence for climate change. And then we have the Climate “Science” Coalition:

It beggars the imagination that an expert committee can launch a public statement about climate change that is so partial in its arguments and so out of date in its science.

Yeah, right. It “beggars the imagination” that a bunch that seriously believes it has a chance of influencing public policy can issue a statement so seriously factually incorrect and so deliberately misleading.

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Melt your heart

080710Wilkins.jpg Typical winter weather down here – we’ve gone from snow last weekend to sunny days and sharp frosts, and now howling Norwester and unseasonal, but not atypical warmth (having said that, the radio reports that Kaikoura recorded 21ºC at 1am last night, which is both). Further south, however, strange things are afoot at the Wilkins Ice Shelf. It began a spectacular break up earlier this year, and this is continuing in the middle of the Antarctic winter according to imagery from the European Space Agency’s Envisat. The ESA press release includes a fantastic animation showing how the ice has fractured over the last couple of months. Ted Scambos from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in the US explains how this might be caused:

“The persistently low sea ice cover in the area and data from some interesting sources, electronic seal hats [caps worn by seals that provide temperature, depth and position data] seems to suggest that warm water beneath the halocline may be reaching the underside of the Wilkins Ice Shelf and thinning it rapidly – and perhaps reaching the surface, or at least mixing with surface waters.”

I’d love to see a picture of those seal hats! And a scientist fitting one… I’ve heard some references to anomalous warm water around the Antarctic as a mechanism for ice sheet melting – here it seems to be in action.

Up North, the summer melt continues, and the odds on my bet with William “Stoat” Connolley seem to be tilting in favour of my vicious, sharp-toothed friend. Both the Cryosphere Today and NSIDC measures are showing area/extent tracking above the same time last year, and this week a team at the Alfred Wegener Institute provided a new form guide.

The ice cover in the Arctic Ocean at the end of summer 2008 will lie, with almost 100 per cent probability, below that of the year 2005 — the year with the second lowest sea ice extent ever measured. Chances of an equally low value as in the extreme conditions of the year 2007 lie around eight per cent.

They derive this by taking ice conditions at the end of June, feeding them into their sea ice model, and then forcing the model with the weather experienced over previous melt seasons. Looks pretty convincing, but any forecast is limited by the accuracy of the initial conditions data fed into the model. Still plenty of melt season left. It ain’t over ’til Dame Nellie finishes her peach Melba.

[Update: Wayne Davidson, in a comment at RealClimate, clearly thinks I’ve still got a chance.. 😉 ]

Finally, this will be an interesting blog to follow over the next few weeks. A team of US and Russian scientists are rafting down a Siberian river, gathering data on forests and tundra. Some people have all the fun…

[Update 2: It looks like the increased popularity of the AMSR-E sea ice images from Bremen has prompted Cryosphere Today to update their graphics for the Arctic. Positively groovey, perhaps even psychedelic, man. Way to go, Bill! Much easier to see what’s going on.]

[Update 3: The BBC reports on a Russian scientific team having to be rescued from their drifting research station because it’s melting fast.]

Stuck in the (balanced) middle with you

rsnzlogo.gif Hot news from the Royal Society of NZ: they’ve released a new statement on climate change to address what they describe as the “controversy over climate change and its causes, and possible confusion among the public“. The RS’s expert panel includes many of NZ’s top climate scientists. Here’s a handy summary of the statement:

The globe is warming because of increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Measurements show that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are well above levels seen for many thousands of years. Further global climate changes are predicted, with impacts expected to become more costly as time progresses. Reducing future impacts of climate change will require substantial reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

The full statement goes into a lot more detail. Well worth reading. The Royal Society is New Zealand’s top scientific body “charged by its Act with informing the public about science, and fostering evidence-based scientific debate.” Sadly, I don’t think those who argue against action on climate change are much concerned with the evidence, but it will be interesting to see the mighty popguns of the NZ C”S”C turned on the Royal Society. It’s a “go ahead, make my day” moment…