Mar. 27th, 2017

ljgeoff: (Default)
I was talking to one of my coworkers about climate change. It was an idle conversation, nothing too deep. I'm always surprised, though, about how people conceptualize it -- in this case, a kind of shruggy "yeah, that's gonna be a problem" kind of way.

We just experienced a new low Arctic ice maximum -- 13.878 million km2. In comparison, the maximum in 1979 was over 16.5 million km2, a decrease of about 17%, or about 4% per year. I figure we've got about another 20 years or so before we have a winter ice-free arctic.

I'm pre' damn sure that most folks have no idea to the chaos that will bring. What it is, is people gotta eat.

I'm reading a paper right now entitled Earth's changing global atmospheric energy cycle in response to climate change." It is dry. I will sum up:

Ed Lorenz is the guy who came up with the idea of the Butterfly Effect. As cool as that is, more importantly, he came up with the equations that define the potential and kinetic energy in planet atmospheres. His atmospheric equations were also applied to the hydrological cycle, and to equations figuring out stuff like wind energy.

Anyway, we call the conversion of this atmospheric kinetic, potential, and mechanical energy, and how that energy effects atmospheric circulation (which effects weather and climate) the Lorenz energy cycle.

Though there's been lots of study replicating and validating Lorenz's equations, study of the long term, over-time characteristics of the energy cycle are lacking. In this paper, the authors found some nifty super-scientific NASA satellite records, and got them to pasted together with a computer program that lets them see the data as an uninterrupted set that runs from 1958-2013.

"More details of computing the energy components of the Lorenz energy cycle of the global atmosphere are provided in the sections on Methods." (as Madmartigen said, "Tempting!")

Lets instead go right to the discussion. What they say is that when you add energy to a planet, the atmosphere jiggs up like a high-schooler buzzzed on a six-pack of redbull. That is, the authors are able to show strong positive trends of potential energy over the Asian continent in the Northern Hemisphere.

"The positive trends of potential energy in Central Asia, especially in West-central Mongolia, are associated with the increasing droughts in these areas, because the increasing droughts can magnify the temperature perturbation and hence cause the increase in potential energy. The two data sets also show the relatively weak positive trends over the eastern Pacific Oceans. Such positive trends are related to the intensifying tropical cyclones with global warming."

But beyond that, what I was really fact mining for was this one sentence: "Therefore, the positive trends of C(PM,KM) are due to the expansion of the Hadley Cell in the past 35 years, which was revealed in some previous studies."

Expansion of the Hadley cell, dudes. Are you still with me? As the Hadley cell moves north, the sub-tropical dry zones move with it. Heat, too. Right into the worlds various bread baskets. And when it does rain? Vicious storms that will likely smash what crops that folk were able to grow.

It's what the models and guys like Jim Hansen have been saying for about a decade, but now we have more than models.

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