Contrasting climate change claims

Two very contrasting articles via real Politics on climate change – one claiming “No ice has been lost by Greenland…” and the other “the Greenland ice sheet is melting at its fastest rate in at least 400 years”.

Conrad Black at National Post – Thirty years of climate hysterics being proven wrong over and over again

It is 30 years this past week that Dr. James Hansen, then well into the first of more than three decades as head of the NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)-Goddard Institute for Space Studies, testified to a U.S. Senate committee that the then-current heat wave in Washington was caused by the relationship between “the greenhouse effect and observed warming.” This was the starting gun of a mighty debate about the existence, cause and consequences of global warming.

In his testimony, Hansen described three possible courses for the world’s climate, depending on public policy.

It is the third result that has occurred: unchanged world temperatures since 2000, apart from 2015-2016; then the temperature rose slightly after a heavy El Nino, and then receded again although world carbon emissions have increased moderately.

He gives no evidence of that claim. I’m sure someone else somewhere is saying something similar, but this is from NASA (Goddard Institute for Space Studies) in Global Temperature:

Parallel predictions were made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which forecast temperature increases twice as great as occurred in the period up to 2000, with accelerating increases in the years since, when the temperature has been flat (with the exception of the one year mentioned). Hansen also predicted exceptional warming in the Southeast and Midwest of the United States, which has not occurred either. As his predictions were battered and defied by the facts,

Hansen reinforced his expressions of ecological gloom and in 2007 predicted that all Greenland’s ice would melt and that ocean levels would rise by seven metres within 100 years.

I can’t find evidence of those claims by Hansen. In Scientific reticence and sea level rise (2007) heb talks only of estimates of possible scenarios based on the known science in 2007. he does say “The nonlinearity of the ice sheet problem makes it impossible to accurately predict the sea level change on a specific date. However, as a physicist, I find it almost
inconceivable that BAU climate change would not yield a sea level change of the order of meters on the century timescale”.

Black:

We have only had 11 years, but no ice has been lost by Greenland, other than what melts every summer and then forms again, and water levels have not moved appreciably.

In contrast from Scientific American: Greenland Is Melting Faster Than at Any Time in the Last 400 Years

study published this week in Geophysical Research Letters finds that melt rates in western Greenland have been accelerating for the last few decades. Melting is now nearly double what it was at the end of the 19th century, the research suggests. And the scientists say a significant increase in summertime temperatures—to the tune of about 1.2 degrees Celsius since the 1870s—is mainly to blame.

Future warming may only continue to enhance the melting, the researchers warn—a major concern when it comes to future sea-level rise.

The researchers used models informed with historical climate data to investigate some of the climatic factors influencing melt rates from one year to the next over the last century. Fluctuations in ocean temperatures and certain atmospheric circulation patterns were shown to have a major influence on year-to-year variations in melt rates since the 1870s.

That’s important to note, because these oceanic and atmospheric patterns may change under the influence of future climate change. Scientists are still debating how they may be affected, but the new findings suggest that a better understanding will be critical to making accurate short-term predictions about melting and sea-level rise.

The need for ongoing scientific research is obviously important. And most of the current science (as opposed to opinion of people like Black) suggests a growing problem with the effects of climate change. The biggest uncertainty is by how much and over what time period.

I got sidetracked addressing some of Black’s claims. The second article from RealClear: Clmate Change Is Our Most Critical National-Security Challenge

Progressive American politicians must embrace the necessity of dramatic action on climate change as a touchstone. So far, Senator Bernie Sanders has done it the most persuasively, campaigning on addressing climate change, health care, racial justice, and economic inequality as his unvaried quartet of issues, invoked in every speech and backed up with serious legislation that shows a willingness to move with real speed. Other party leaders will back him on one bill or another, and scientists and engineers are now runningfor office.

Seriousness on climate change needs to be a qualification, not an afterthought, for anyone who wants to run for president. Because it’s not an environmental issue; it’s the most crucial security question that humans have ever faced.

There’s a major problem with this – Sanders didn’t even make the presidential election, Trump won and is taking the US into the climate change dark ages, and progressive politics in the US is in disarray.

Evidence of possible life on Mars

NASA’s Curiosity rover has found new evidence that adds weight to the possibility there has been life on Mars (in the distant past).

NASA’s Curiosity rover has found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet could have supported ancient life, as well as new evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the search for current life on the Red Planet. While not necessarily evidence of life itself, these findings are a good sign for future missions exploring the planet’s surface and subsurface.

This low-angle self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the site from which it reached down to drill in

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at the site from which it reached down
to drill into a rock target called “Buckskin” on lower Mount Sharp.

The new findings – “tough” organic molecules in three-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks near the surface, as well as seasonal variations in the levels of methane in the atmosphere – appear in the June 8 edition of the journal Science.

Organic molecules contain carbon and hydrogen, and also may include oxygen, nitrogen and other elements. While commonly associated with life, organic molecules also can be created by non-biological processes and are not necessarily indicators of life.

“With these new findings, Mars is telling us to stay the course and keep searching for evidence of life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, in Washington. “I’m confident that our ongoing and planned missions will unlock even more breathtaking discoveries on the Red Planet.”

“Curiosity has not determined the source of the organic molecules,” said Jen Eigenbrode of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who is lead author of one of the two new Science papers. “Whether it holds a record of ancient life, was food for life, or has existed in the absence of life, organic matter in Martian materials holds chemical clues to planetary conditions and processes.”

Although the surface of Mars is inhospitable today, there is clear evidence that in the distant past, the Martian climate allowed liquid water – an essential ingredient for life as we know it – to pool at the surface. Data from Curiosity reveal that billions of years ago, a water lake inside Gale Crater held all the ingredients necessary for life, including chemical building blocks and energy sources.

Mars isn’t an easy place to escape to if things turn pear shaped on Earth, but if life is proven to have survived there in the past it would add weight to the lack of uniqueness of life on Earth.

Tour of the Moon

NASA has released a video tour of the Moon.

Take a virtual tour of the Moon in all-new 4K resolution, thanks to data provided by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. As the visualization moves around the near side, far side, north and south poles, we highlight interesting features, sites, and information gathered on the lunar terrain.

This video is public domain and along with other supporting visualizations can be downloaded from the Scientific Visualization Studio at: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/4619 Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/David Ladd

Music Provided By Killer Tracks: “Never Looking Back” – Frederick Wiedmann. “Flying over Turmoil” – Benjamin Krause & Scott Goodman.

More about Jupiter revealed

The Juno spacecraft has gathered more science that gives insights into the turbulence of Jupiter’s atmosphere.

Data collected by NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter indicate that the atmospheric winds of the gas-giant planet run deep into its atmosphere and last longer than similar atmospheric processes found here on Earth. The findings will improve understanding of Jupiter’s interior structure, core mass and, eventually, its origin.

Other Juno science results released today include that the massive cyclones that surround Jupiter’s north and south poles are enduring atmospheric features and unlike anything else encountered in our solar system. The findings are part of a four-article collection on Juno science results being published in the March 8 edition of the journal Nature.

“These astonishing science results are yet another example of Jupiter’s curve balls, and a testimony to the value of exploring the unknown from a new perspective with next-generation instruments.  Juno’s unique orbit and evolutionary high-precision radio science and infrared technologies enabled these paradigm-shifting discoveries,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio. “Juno is only about one third the way through its primary mission, and already we are seeing the beginnings of a new Jupiter.”

The depth to which the roots of Jupiter’s famous zones and belts extend has been a mystery for decades. Gravity measurements collected by Juno during its close flybys of the planet have now provided an answer.

I don’t think it’s surprising Jupiter’s atmosphere acts differently to Earth’s, the planets are quite different.

Panorama of Mars

NASA have put together a cool panorama of Mars from the rover Curiosity, that has been there rolling around trhere for five years.

Washington Post:

After nearly 2,000 Martian days — after crossing an ancient lake bed and weaving past sand dunes on a planet of bluetinged sunsets and small, lumpy moons — the Mars rover Curiosity turned around to look back on its years-long journey.

This week, NASA released a composite photo of what Curiosity saw in October, and if the rover could breathe, it might gasp.

In one image was its whole story: from the lower slopes of Mount Sharp, where it sat holding its camera, to the spot in the crater floor 11 miles distant, where it had touched down five years earlier to great celebration on Earth.

Curiosity has brought Mars to life for the public. The soil data it’s collected suggest Mars was once a beautiful planet of rivers and lakes. But the rover’s many postcards of eclipses, dust devils and shimmering sands showed the world it’s a beautiful place, even now.

There’s a lot of details here Curiosity’s five-year journey across Mars — in one stunning photo.

Another 8 planet solar system

NASA have now discovered an eighth planet orbiting the Kepler-9 sun – or at least they were 2,545 light-years ago, we can only look back into history.

NASA: Artificial Intelligence, NASA Data Used to Discover Eighth Planet Circling Distant Star

The planet was discovered in data from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope.

The newly-discovered Kepler-90i – a sizzling hot, rocky planet that orbits its star once every 14.4 days – was found using machine learning from Google. Machine learning is an approach to artificial intelligence in which computers “learn.” In this case, computers learned to identify planets by finding in Kepler data instances where the telescope recorded signals from planets beyond our solar system, known as exoplanets.

The discovery came about after researchers Christopher Shallue and Andrew Vanderburg trained a computer to learn how to identify exoplanets in the light readings recorded by Kepler – the minuscule change in brightness captured when a planet passed in front of, or transited, a star. Inspired by the way neurons connect in the human brain, this artificial “neural network” sifted through Kepler data and found weak transit signals from a previously-missed eighth planet orbiting Kepler-90, in the constellation Draco.

While machine learning has previously been used in searches of the Kepler database, this research demonstrates that neural networks are a promising tool in finding some of the weakest signals of distant worlds.

Other planetary systems probably hold more promise for life than Kepler-90. About 30 percent larger than Earth, Kepler-90i is so close to its star that its average surface temperature is believed to exceed 800 degrees Fahrenheit, on par with Mercury. Its outermost planet, Kepler-90h, orbits at a similar distance to its star as Earth does to the Sun.

“The Kepler-90 star system is like a mini version of our solar system. You have small planets inside and big planets outside, but everything is scrunched in much closer,” said Vanderburg, a NASA Sagan Postdoctoral Fellow and astronomer at the University of Texas at Austin.

I don’t know how accurate this planet detection is – and of course there could be more planets not yet detected there.

A lot closer to earth: Is ‘Oumuamua an alien spacecraft? First scans show no signs of technology

The first scans for alien technology aboard a mysterious object that is barreling through the solar system have found no evidence it is the work of an intelligent civilisation.

The cigar-shaped object was spotted hurtling through the solar system in Octoberand while astronomers suspected it was an interstellar asteroid, its curious shape led them to propose sweeping it for radio signals in case it happened to be an alien craft.

While the long, slender object may have been well suited to flying through clouds of interstellar gas at breakneck speed, as some researchers noted, the observation that the body was tumbling through space suggests any aerodynamic advantage was at best minimal.

Scientists on the Breakthrough Listen project, funded by the internet billionaire Yuri Milner, used the Green Bank telescope in West Virginia to eavesdrop on the 400m-long body named ‘Oumuamua, from the Hawaiian word for “messenger” or “scout”. The body is twice as far from Earth as the sun, but the telescope is so sensitive it could detect transmissions as weak as those produced by a mobile phone.

But on Thursday, the astronomers declared that the first observations across four bands of the radio spectrum had found no evidence that ‘Oumuamua is anything other than a long lump of space rock. Scientists on the project have released the data from the observations so anyone can study the information.

I suppose until it’s proven that it isn’t aliens then it theoretically could be, but I wonder why there was speculation this rock could have been anything different.

Climate related trends

NASA has several interesting trend animations in their Climate Time Machine.

Carbon Dioxide

September 2002:

Time Series: 2002-2016, image #0

This time series shows global changes in the concentration and distribution of carbon dioxide since 2002 at an altitude range of 1.9 to 8 miles. The yellow-to-red regions indicate higher concentrations of CO2, while blue-to-green areas indicate lower concentrations, measured in parts per million.

December 2016:

Time Series: 2002-2016, image #171

Global Temperature

1884:

Time Series: 1884 to 2016, image #0

This color-coded map shows a progression of changing global surface temperatures since 1884. Dark blue indicates areas cooler than average. Dark red indicates areas warmer than average.

2016:

Time Series: 1884 to 2016, image #132

Arctic Sea Ice

1979:

Time Series: 1979-2017, image #0

This visualization shows the annual Arctic sea ice minimum since 1979. At the end of each summer, the sea ice cover reaches its minimum extent, leaving what is called the perennial ice cover. The area of the perennial ice has been steadily decreasing since the satellite record began in 1979

2017:

Time Series: 1979-2017, image #38

Obviously climate and it’s affects will fluctuate, and the climate is affected by more than man-made effects, but the trends and the human influence on them are a concern for the planet that needs ongoing monitoring and also mitigating efforts. The risk is too great to do nothing.

https://climate.nasa.gov/interactives/climate-time-machine

Possible interstellar object detected

NASA has announced they have detected an object in our Solar System that could be a visitor, possibly an interstellar comet.If this can be confirmed it would be the first proof that objects travel between stars.

I think it’s highly likely there are objects floating around untied to the gravity of one solar system, but given the vastness of Space the may be infrequent visitors – unless there’s a lot of them.

A2017U1

Diagram showing the path of A/2017 U1.
It made its closest approach to the sun on Sept. 9 and is now
zooming away 97,200 mph (156,400 km/h) relative to the sun.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Space.com: Visitor from Far, Far Away: Interstellar Object Spotted in Our Solar System

A visitor from interstellar space has likely been spotted in our solar system for the first time ever.

The object, known as A/2017 U1, was detected last week by researchers using the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii.

“We have been waiting for this day for decades,” Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement.

“It’s long been theorized that such objects exist — asteroids or comets moving around between the stars and occasionally passing through our solar system — but this is the first such detection,” Chodas added. “So far, everything indicates this is likely an interstellar object, but more data would help to confirm it.”

Chodas and other researchers base this preliminary conclusion on A/2017 U1’s hyperbolic orbit — the fact that its path is taking the body out of the solar system. Other hyperbolic objects have been spotted before, but they were nudged onto escape trajectories by gravitational interactions with planets, said Matthew Holman, director of the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

A/2017 U1 has had no such close encounters, Holman added. Outgassing could theoretically also push a comet onto a hyperbolic path, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with A/2017 U1, either, he said.

“All other plausible solutions don’t work out,” Holman told Space.com. “So you’re left with, this thing came from elsewhere.”

It’s unclear what exactly this thing is. When A/2017 U1 was first spotted, it was thought to be a comet (and was therefore given the moniker C/2017 U1). But further observations have revealed no evidence of a coma — the fuzzy cloud of gas and dust surrounding a comet’s core — so the object’s name was amended to its current asteroidal designation.

Perhaps it’s an Interstarship Enterprise.

Where Your Elements Came From

An interesting best (scientific) guesses of where all the elements originated, from NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day.
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

Image Credit & LicenseWikipediaCmgleeData: Jennifer Johnson (OSU)

The featured periodic table is color coded to indicate humanity‘s best guess as to the nuclear origin of all known elements. The sites of nuclear creation of some elements, such as copper, are not really well known and are continuing topics of observational and computational research.

Cassini’s end of mission

The Cassini-Huygens spacecraft will fly into Saturn tonight (about midnight NZ time). Final data will be received about 83 minutes after it stops transmitting (radio waves travel at the speed of light).

Cassini is being crashed so there is not risk of colliding with any of Saturn’s moons after it runs out of fuel.

Cassini was launched twenty years ago, on 15 October 1997. After two fly buys of Venus and a flyby of Earth and our Moon Cassini headed off out into the Solar System.

It entered orbit around Saturn in July 2004. An orbiter landed on the moon Total a year later.

The primary mission was scheduled to complete in 2008 but it was extended and extended again until this year.

Sept. 13, 2017 (2:15 p.m. PDT)

Cassini is on final approach to Saturn, following confirmation by mission navigators that it is on course to dive into the planet’s atmosphere on Sept. 15. The mission’s final calculations predict a signal will be received on Earth indicating loss of contact with the Cassini spacecraft on Sept. 15 is 4:55 a.m. PDT (7:55 a.m. EDT).

More details

NASA: projected times for the end of mission

5868_IMG004868

Earth as seen from near Saturn.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Links from NASA:

  • What did we learn about Saturn during our 13 year tour? Lots.
  • Explore Cassini’s rich history of discovery in our Timeline.
  • Take a tour of our Greatest Images. 
  • Spend some time browsing the latest Raw Images straight from Saturn.
  • Explore Cassini’s rich history of discovery in our Timeline.