Showing posts with label CDR. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CDR. Show all posts

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Interview with Paul Beckwith

1) Hi Paul. Thanks for agreeing to do this interview. First of all, could you tell us a bit about your background, how long you’ve been involved in climate science, and what areas of climatology you specialize in?

Hello Sam. Thank you. It is my pleasure to have this interview with you.

I am an Engineer with a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Engineering Physics (often called Engineering Science) from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. I finished at the top of my class and received many scholarships and awards during my studies. My CV can be found on my website under the About Me section.

I am a Physicist with a Master of Science Degree in Laser Physics. My research area was blowing molecules apart with high-powered CO2 lasers and measuring all the chunks flying off with low-power tunable diode lasers. This involved the science of molecular spectroscopy in the infrared region.

I worked in industry for many years, as a Product Line Manager for optical switching devices in high speed fiber optic communication systems, on high powered Excimer laser research and tunable laser research, and also on software quality assurance for various tech companies.

I have been interested in climate science my entire life. I decided to formally study it after becoming concerned with the lack of urgency by the public, scientists (literally everybody) about 6 years ago or so.

I am a part time professor in the Laboratory for Paleoclimatology in the Geography Department at the University of Ottawa. I have taught many courses including climatology, meteorology, oceanography and the geography of environmental issues. My research work in my PhD program is abrupt climate system change in the past and present, to determine what will happen in the near future. I am very active on educating the public about the grave dangers that we face from abrupt climate change, using primarily videos and blogs and public talks (see my website link above). My research is self-funded, apart from my teaching, and I greatly welcome financial contributions at the Please Donate button on the main task bar on my website.

2) It’s clear that the Arctic is melting rapidly and this trend is likely to continue. When do you predict the Arctic will start to have ice-free conditions? At what point during the year will it disappear, and how long for? How will these conditions develop in future decades, and could we reach a point where the Arctic is free of ice all year round?

I think that the Arctic will start to have ice-free conditions at the end of the melt season (Septembers) as early as 2020 or before (possibly even the summer of 2016). It is hard to predict a single year, since the loss of Arctic sea ice greatly depends on local Arctic wind and ocean conditions in the summer melt season. These local conditions determine how much ice is lost to export via the Fram Strait and Nares Strait, which makes a huge difference to ice loss amounts during the Northern summer period. When there is less than 1 million square kilometers of sea ice left, we have essentially a “blue-ocean” event in the Arctic.

For the sake of argument, lets pick September, 2020, for the first “blue-ocean” event in the Arctic (essentially no sea ice left). This would occur for about a month, call it the month of September. Within 2 or 3 years it is highly likely that the duration of this “blue-ocean” state would be 3 months or say, thus occur for August, September and October in 2023. Within an additional few years, say by 2025 it is highly likely that the “blue-ocean” event would be extended for another few additional months, and we would have ice free conditions from July through to and including November; namely for 5 months of the year. Then, within a decade or two from the initial 2020 event we can expect to have an ice free “blue-ocean” Arctic year round; that would be some year between 2030 and 2040.

Of course if the first “blue-ocean” event occurred in 2016 this timeline would be advanced accordingly.

3) In recent years, there’s been a lot of talk about methane eruptions in the Arctic and Siberia. How serious is this, in terms of its potential for adding to global warming? Can you give us some idea of the timescales involved? What’s the level of certainty about these future effects?

Once the Arctic is essentially ice free for ever increasing durations in the summer months, and then over the entire year there are two enormous feedback risks that we face. Methane and Greenland.

Methane is the mother of all risks. The Russians have measured large increases in emissions from the continental shelf seabed in the Eastern Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS). Over the timespan of a few years they observed that methane bubbled up in vast numbers of plumes that increased in size from tens of meters in diameter to hundreds and even thousands of meter diameter plumes in the shallow regions of ESAS. Global atmospheric levels of methane are rapidly rising, and although they average about 1900 ppb or so there have been readings over 3100 ppb in the atmosphere over the Arctic. Since the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of methane versus carbon dioxide is 34x, 86x and close to 200x on timescales of 100 years, 20 years and a few years, respectively a large burst of methane can virtually warm the planet many degrees almost overnight.

Recently, we have passed about 405 ppm of CO2, with a record rise of 3.09 ppm in 2015 alone. When accounting for methane and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) and putting them into CO2-equivalent numbers, we are at about 490 ppm CO2 – equivalent. We are literally playing with fire, and the outcome will not be pretty.

Greenland ice melt is the next enormous feedback risk. When we lose snow and ice in the Arctic, and the cascading feedbacks like albedo-destruction kick in, and the methane comes out then the enormous warming over Greenland and in the water around and under the Greenland ice will viciously destroy the ice there and greatly accelerate sea level rise. I refer people to my video from several years ago on the great risk of realizing 7 meters of global sea level rise by 2070 from Greenland and Antarctica melt.

The level of certainty over these future effects is close to 100% if we continue to be stupid and do nothing. If we are smart we need to have a Manhattan – Marshall plan like emergency status to:
a) Zero emissions as-soon-as-possible, i.e. by 2030;
b) Cool the Arctic to keep the methane in place and restore jet stream stability; and
c) Remove CO2 from the atmosphere/ocean system and remove methane from the atmosphere.
There is no other choice. I use the metaphor of a three legged bar stool with legs a), b) and c) as above.

Barstool approach (slightly different from text in that SRM and methane
removal are included with adaptation and conservation in bottom leg)

4) What new satellites, monitoring stations, and other science projects are being planned for the future (if any)? How will these improve our knowledge of the Arctic and the various climatic processes in the region?

NASA, the ESA and the Russians and Chinese are always launching new satellite with better high tech sensors to gather more information on the changes in the Earth System. We need to have a massive increase in scientific study in the Arctic to better quantify what is happening there. However, we know enough to see that if we do not deploy the three-legged barstool approach immediately then our chances are halting our ongoing abrupt climate change will vanish, and emissions from the Earth System will dwarf all cumulative anthropogenic emissions throughout human history. We need the US military budget of $700 to $800 billion dollars per year to be applied to saving human civilization from abrupt climate change.

5) What can be done to save the Arctic and reverse the melting trend? How long would it take to restore the ice cover to, say, mid-20th century levels? Is this even possible with current technology?

We must cool the Arctic as soon as possible using Solar Radiation Management (SRM) technologies. We can deploy SRM very quickly if we treat this Arctic temperature amplification as an existential threat to humanity and put billions of dollars into deployment. It will take many years, perhaps a decade to restore the ice cover but we must start now. If we wait until we have “blue-ocean” events before we deploy then our ability to restore the ice will be much harder and perhaps even futile.

Deployment is possible with current technology. I am specifically referring to Marine Cloud Brightening (MCB) methods. I am working today with people on these technologies.

6) How does the melting in the Arctic compare to its southern polar opposite, the Antarctic?

The Arctic is rapidly losing snow cover (mostly in the spring months) and sea ice cover, and is thus the average albedo (reflectivity) of the region is rapidly decreasing. This if feeding back into additional Arctic Temperature Amplification and further darkening and warming, until we have no snow and ice in the region. These vicious feedback cycles have not kicked in to the same extent in the Antarctic. The ice cap there is losing ice causing a rise in sea level mostly from the warming of the seawater undercutting the ice on land that is grounded below sea level. However, since the Arctic is warming so fast due to increased solar radiation absorption (from darkening) there is less heat transported there via the atmosphere and oceans. Thus, jet streams and ocean currents are slowing. Thus, more heat is moving from the equator to the southern hemisphere, making it to Australian latitudes and increasing the temperature gradient to Antarctica and thus increasing the speed of the jet streams there.

7) Finally, what’s your message to climate change deniers who reject the science and believe the whole thing is a giant hoax?

Climate change deniers cannot be tolerated by society any longer. They are threatening the future of everybody on our planet. Send them all to Guantanamo for intensive and mandatory climate science basic training, and when they get clued in they can be reintroduced into society.

Interview with Paul Beckwith
Posted by Sam Carana on Saturday, March 12, 2016

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Multiple Benefits Of Ocean Tunnels

By Sam Carana and Patrick McNulty

Comprehensive climate action will do more than just cutting emissions, it will also take further action, as pictured in the image below.

Comprehensive and effective action is discussed at the Climate Plan blog
Taking a broad perspective makes it easier for proposed projects to be assessed on their benefits in a multitude of areas.

Ocean tunnels can capture vast amounts of energy from ocean currents, such as the Gulf Stream and the Kuroshio Current. These locations are close to areas with high energy demand, such as the North American East Coast and the coast of East Asia, which can reduce the need for long distance transmission lines.

Ocean tunnels provide clean energy continuously, i.e. 24 hours a day, all year long. This makes that they can satisfy demand for electricity both at peak and off-peak usage times.

  • Their ability to supply large amounts of electricity at times of peak demand will benefit the necessary transition from polluting to clean ways of generating electricity.
  • Their ability to also supply large amounts of electricity at off-peak usage times will help to reduce the price of electricity at such times, thus opening up opportunities for a number of activities that can take place at off-peak hours and that require large amounts of energy.

    Such activities include large-scale grinding of olivine rock and transport of the resulting olivine sand, and large-scale production of hydrogen through electrolysis to power transport (box right). Electrolysis can also create oxygen-enriched water that can improve the quality of waters that are oxygen-depleted.  
Hydrogen to power Shipping

Ocean tunnels can make electricity cheap at off-peak times. This will reduce the cost of recharging batteries of electric vehicles at night.

It will also reduce the cost of producing hydrogen at off-peak hours. To power ships crossing the oceans, hydrogen looks more cost-effective, as such ships cannot return to base for a nighly battery recharge. Such ships have plenty of cargo space to carry hydrogen, even when the hydrogen is not highly compressed. Some of the world's largest ports are close to strong ocean currents.

Ocean tunnels can generate electricity in two ways, i.e. by capturing the kinetic energy contained in the flow of ocean currents, and by means of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) using temperature differences between cooler deeper parts of the ocean and warmer surface waters to run a heat engine to produce energy.

Besides generating energy, ocean tunnels can assist with further activities, which will increase the value of ocean tunnels in the fight against climate change. Such activities include the following:
  • By reaching deeper parts of the ocean, OTEC can pull up sunken nutrients and put them out at surface level to fertilize the waters there, while the colder water that is the output of OTEC will float down, taking along newly-grown plankton to the ocean depths before it can revert to CO2, as described in the earlier post Using the Oceans to Remove CO2 from the Atmosphere.
  • Ocean tunnels can be used to distribute olivine sand in the water. The force of the currents and the turbines will help the process of transforming olivine into bicarbonate. This can reduce carbon dioxide levels in the water by sequestering carbon, while also reducing ocean acidification. Olivine sand contains silicate and small amounts of iron, allowing diatoms to grow that will capture additional carbon dioxide, while also raising levels of free oxygen in the water. The latter will stimulate growth of microbes that break down methane in the water before it reaches the atmosphere. Further nutrients can be added, as also discussed in this earlier post
  • Ocean tunnels can also assist with albedo changes. Ocean tunnels can act as the infrastructure to create water microbubbles along their track. Increasing water albedo in this way can reduce solar energy absorption by as much as 100 W m − 2, potentially reducing equilibrium temperatures of standing water bodies by several Kelvins, as Russel Seitz wrote back in 2010. There may also be potential for ocean tunnels to be used to spray water vapor into the air with the aim of brightening clouds over areas where it counts most.
  • The turbines in tunnels will also reduce the flow of ocean currents somewhat, thus reducing the flow of warm water into the Arctic. Furthermore, tunnels can be shaped in ways to guide the flow of warm water away from the Arctic Ocean down a southwards course along the Canary Current along the coast of West Africa. thus diverting warm water that would otherwise end up in the Arctic Ocean. This could also reduce the chance of hurricanes hitting the east coast of North America, as Sandy did in 2012.
The Gulf Stream, carrying warm water all the way into the Arctic Ocean

The video below is narrated by Dave Borlace and describes Ocean Mechanical Thermal Energy Conversion, the method conceived and developed by Patrick McNulty to generate electricity while cooling the ocean surface in the path of ocean currents such as the Gulf Stream.