Understandable Earth Science

Archive for the ‘Re-blogs’ Category

A pause or not a pause, that is the question.

A nice explanation of why there is no evidence for a global warming pause

Open Mind

UPDATE: A new post at RealClimate is very relevant, and well worth the read.

One day, a new data set is released. The rumor runs rampant that it’s annual average global temperature since 1980.


Climate scientist “A” states that there is clearly a warming trend (shown by the red line), at an average rate of about 0.0139 deg.C/yr. She even computes the uncertainty in that trend estimate (using fancy statistics), and uses that to compute what’s called a “95% confidence interval” for the trend — the range in which we expect the true warming rate is 95% likely to be; it can be thought of as the “plausible range” for the warming rate. Since 95% confidence is the de facto standard in statistics (not universal, but by far the most common), nobody can fault her for that choice. The confidence interval is from 0.0098 to 0.0159 deg.C/yr. She also…

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Dreadful GSA blogpost by Canadian geologists

Nice summary highlighting some of the problems with ignorance in climate science.

Critical Angle

Geologists, especially those, like me, of a certain age, often have problems with climate science and the idea that humans may be triggering a massive and abrupt change in the climate. Global change, we were taught, occurred slowly and by commonplace mechanisms: sediment carried by water, deposited a grain at a time: erosion effected by water and wind, the hardest rocks slowly ground down crystal by crystal. The great features of the Earth—the canyons, mountains and basins—were built this way and owe their grandeur to Deep Time, geology’s greatest intellectual gift to human culture. In the face of the history of the natural world, geologists feel a certain humility at the insignificance of humans and our tiny lifespans. But we also feel some pride in the role of our subject in piecing together this history from fossils and outcrops of rock. It’s an amazing detective story: diligent scientists patiently working…

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The Catch-22 of Energy Storage

Interesting article regarding a major challenge for the renewables industry – when storing energy ultimately costs more energy.

Brave New Climate

Pick up a research paper on battery technology, fuel cells, energy storage technologies or any of the advanced materials science used in these fields, and you will likely find somewhere in the introductory paragraphs a throwaway line about its application to the storage of renewable energy.  Energy storage makes sense for enabling a transition away from fossil fuels to more intermittent sources like wind and solar, and the storage problem presents a meaningful challenge for chemists and materials scientists… Or does it?

Guest Post by John Morgan. John is Chief Scientist at a Sydney startup developing smart grid and grid scale energy storage technologies.  He is Adjunct Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at RMIT, holds a PhD in Physical Chemistry, and is an experienced industrial R&D leader.  You can follow John on twitter at @JohnDPMorgan First published in Chemistry in Australia .

Several recent analyses of the…

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Mars analogue adventures in Iceland 2014

I enjoyed reading this account of an astrobiology field trip to some of Iceland’s least accessible areas. I’m also very jealous 🙂

dr. claire cousins

Landing into Keflavik airport has become a familiar sight, as the vast flat expanse of moss-covered lava flows stretches out into a horizon of cold grey clouds as we approach the runway. This is my ninth trip to Iceland, and for this trip we are sampling from various sites in the northeast – some old, some new. Our key target as always is Kverkfjoll – a dormant volcanic caldera that peeks out from the northern margin of Vatnajokull ice cap. Iceland is often referred to as ‘the land of ice and fire’, and the geothermal environments at the summit of Kverkfjoll epitomise this name. Here, scattered clusters of small fumaroles – which vent hot volcanic gas – interact with overlying ice and snow to produce localised and short-lived pools of geothermal meltwater, which provide a haven for microbes within an otherwise remote and frozen environment. These environments provide a fascinating analogue to hydrothermal environments…

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