Tag Archives: Earth Science

Cloud Gate Link Cloud!

You all know about the latest dustups and new research related to climate change, including the resignation of the Editor-in-Chief of a major journal as well as some new papers about global warming. There has been so much activity over recent days that I thought a new link farm would be a good thing. So, here it is. Please let me know if I’ve missed anything!

Continue reading Cloud Gate Link Cloud!

Cosmic Rays Do Not Cause Global Warming

On the face of it, it is impossible. Cosmic rays vary over time, and climate varies over time, and the two variations do not correspond. Global temperature has been going up over the last century, in correspondence with increased of atmospheric CO2, and this makes sense because the physics says that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and this whole global warming thing is a greenhouse effect. Bringing cosmic rays into the situation seems both unnecessary and difficult to do.

But it turns out that there is a cosmic ray – climate connection which is interesting if it turns out to be true. But this connection is NOT any kind of link between cosmic rays and global warming. Cosmic rays do not cause global warming. Did you read that last sentence? OK, good.

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CloudGate: Denialism Gets Dirty, Reputations Are At Stake

There has been a major dust-up in the climate denialist world. A study published in late July made false claims and was methodologically flawed, but still managed to get published in a peer reviewed journal. The Editor-in-Chief of that journal has resigned to symbolically take responsibility for the journal’s egregious error of publishing what is essentially a fake scientific paper, and to “protest against how the authors [and others] have much exaggerated the paper’s conclusions” taking to task the University of Alabama’s press office, Forbes, Fox News and others.

Let me break it down for you
Continue reading CloudGate: Denialism Gets Dirty, Reputations Are At Stake

Hockey Stick Data Tampering Investigation Concludes

The Inspector General of the National Science foundation has completed an investigation into falsifying research data, concealing or deleting emails or other data, misusing privileged information, and seriously deviating form accepted practices in relation to climate change research by climate scientist Michael Mann. This investigation, just completed, confirms what has been determined by other previous investigations:
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Minnesota AGW Denialist Jungbauer Disembowled by Respected News Anchor Don Shelby

I woke up this morning and the world was slightly different than it was the night before. Well, it probably always is a little different each day, but there are certain times when you notice this. I’m not talking about the bits of siding, roofing, and trees scattered about the landscape because of the very severe thunderstorm we had last night, although I suppose this is indirectly related.

If you are not a Minnesotan this will take some explanation:
Continue reading Minnesota AGW Denialist Jungbauer Disembowled by Respected News Anchor Don Shelby

The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are melting faster.

These masses of ice are now contributing more new meltwater to the world’s seas than all other melting ice combined.

The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass at an accelerating pace, according to a new NASA-funded satellite study. The findings of the study — the longest to date of changes in polar ice sheet mass — suggest these ice sheets are overtaking ice loss from Earth’s mountain glaciers and ice caps to become the dominant contributor to global sea level rise, much sooner than model forecasts have predicted.

The nearly 20-year study reveals that in 2006, a year in which comparable results for mass loss in mountain glaciers and ice caps are available from a separate study conducted using other methods, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets lost a combined mass of 475 gigatonnes a year on average. That’s enough to raise global sea level by an average of 1.3 millimeters (.05 inches) a year. (A gigatonne is one billion metric tons, or more than 2.2 trillion pounds.)

The pace at which the polar ice sheets are losing mass was found to be accelerating rapidly. Each year over the course of the study, the two ice sheets lost a combined average of 36.3 gigatonnes more than they did the year before. In comparison, the 2006 study of mountain glaciers and ice caps estimated their loss at 402 gigatonnes a year on average, with a year-over-year acceleration rate three times smaller than that of the ice sheets.


Total ice sheet mass balance between 1992 and 2009, as measured for Greenland (top), Antarctica (middle) and the cumulative sum of both ice sheets (bottom), in gigatonnes per year, as measured by the two different methods used by the researchers: the mass budget method (solid black circles) and time-variable gravity measurements from the NASA/German Aerospace Center’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace) satellites (solid red triangles). Image credit: NASA/JPL-UC Irvine-Utrecht University-National Center for Atmospheric Research

This will result in a greater increase in sea level of the medium to long term than previously estimated. Unless you live in Kiribati, in which case you’ll be fine.

Lots more details here.

How old is the earth, and how do we know?

How old is the earth?

Short answer: 4,540,000,00/H30 Earth-years, plus or minus 1%.

Long answer: We don’t know exactly because direct dating of the earliest material on the surface of the Earth will only tell use a minimum age; Prior to that, the Earth’s surface was probably molten, and even after that, it may be that the earliest non-molten material has been recycled into the planet’s interior by tectonic processes. Also, the earth is a big round ball of stuff that condensed into this shape from part of a large disk-shaped blob of stuff known as the Solar Nebula. When exactly, given this, did the Earth become the Earth? Since the process took millions of years, we can’t pinpoint the age of the Earth more exactly than a certain range.

What are the oldest rocks?

The oldest rock formations on Earth are between about 3.8 and 3.9 billion years old., but there are older bits of more ancient rocks that were incorporated into these early rocks, and they date to something closer to 4.4 billion years old. These and other early materials are dated primarily using a variety of parent-daughter radiometric techniques, with the most effective for this time period being a lead-lead system.

Since rock from the time of the Earth’s formation isn’t available (because it didn’t really exist or was gobbled up in the fiery beginnings of the big round ball) the preferred method of dating the Earth is to calculate the age of meteorites. The earliest meteorites essentially date the condensation of materials in the solar system into the planets, and thus, the date of these meteorites indicates the date of the early Earth. (The Earth existed prior to this condensation in the form of whatever parts of the early solar nebula would eventually condense into this particular planet, of course.)

Meteorites from other planets?

Some meteorites are known to be fragments of Mars, so the oldest dates among these can also verify the date of accretion of material into planets in our solar system.

Rocks from the moon have not been remelted or otherwise messed up by tectonic processes and therefore would provide an excellent estimate of the age of the Earth as well. Also, since there is no real weathering of rocks on the moon, methods other than parent-daughter decay can be used, such as Fission Track dating (the older a rock, the more cosmic rays pass through it, blasting tiny little tracks in the otherwise homogeneous matrix).

Zeroing in on the age of the earth

There are hundreds of published dates of various older materials, but the following table gives a reasonable summary of some of the more important dates, culled from various sources (see list of references below):


If we chart this on a graph, we see one date that is much earlier than all the other dates, and a few that are younger.


The younger dates are simply of materials that we don’t think date the Earth’s formation, but that we know would post date it by not much. These dates verify the earlier cluster of dates that would correspond to the actual formation of the planet. The single earlier date is an obvious outlier.

Taking this series of dates, notice that the oldest (non-outlier) dates are about four and a half billion years old. As stated in the short answer.

Further information about the age of the Earth:

Dalrymple, G. Brent. 2001. The age of the Earth in the twentieth century: a problem (mostly) solved. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 2001, v. 190, p. 205-221. Click Here.

Dalrymple, G. Brent. 2006. How Old is the Earth: A Response to “Scientific” Creationism. The TalkOrigins Archive. Click Here.

Norman, M. D., Borg, L. E., Nyquist, L. E., and Bogard, D. D. (2003) Chronology, geochemistry, and petrology of a ferroan noritic anorthosite clast from Descartes breccia 67215: Clues to the age, origin, structure, and impact history of the lunar crust. Meteoritics and Planetary Science, vol 38, p. 645-661.

Stassen, Chris. 2005. The Age of the Earth. The TalkOrigins Archive. Click here.

Wikipedia, Teh. 2010. Age of the Earth. Click here.

Republican takeover of the House is much worse than you may have thought, no matter how bad you thought it was

I am speaking of Representative John Shimkus, R-Ill, and the truly astonishing words he uttered before Congress demonstrated in a video that is constnatly being trolled off Google and YouTube by those who don’t want you to see it:

Source and more information here.

If God’s Word is infallible, unchanging, and perfect, then dinosaurs did not live in a different era than humans, and not in great antiquity, and what geologists and paleontologists say about the “age of dinosaurs” must be the word of Satan designed by the dark lord of the underworld to confuse us.

If God’s Word is infallible, unchanging, and perfect, then there can be no destructive climate change. There can only have been one “mass extinction” … the noachain flood.

The person who is reasonably likely to be the next US House of Representative Chair of the Energy Committee has stated that we live on a “Carbon Starved Planet” because the paleontological evidence suggests more carbon in the atmosphere hundreds of millions of years ago, yet he also claims that since God said in Genesis that there will be no more climate disasters after the Flood.

Unbelievable. This madness has got to stop.

John Shimkus has surpassed Michele Bachmann as the worlds most dangerous moron.

The melting of the Arctic ice cap is a complex process

You’ve heard that the Arctic ice cap has shrunk, and that there are sea lanes open in the northern summer that had not been open previously, and on and so forth.

Since the start of the satellite record in 1979, scientists have observed the continued disappearance of older “multiyear” sea ice that survives more than one summer melt season. Some scientists suspected that this loss was due entirely to wind pushing the ice out of the Arctic Basin — a process that scientists refer to as “export.” In this study, Ron Kwok and Glenn Cunningham at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., used a suite of satellite data to clarify the relative role of export versus melt within the Arctic Ocean.*


A mosaic of satellite images shows the movement of fragmented ice away from ice edges, which scientists use to track the loss of multiyear ice due to melt. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory. Click to hugify.

Continue reading The melting of the Arctic ice cap is a complex process

What Happens to Habitats with Global Warming?

ResearchBlogging.orgAs global warming progresses, habitats change in their suitability for various life forms. It may be that moose will not be able to live in Minnesota in the future; Of the two resident moose populations, the one that lives in the area more affected by global warming has pretty much died out probably due indirectly to the effects of increased temperature. There are regions of the rockies where entire forests are dead because of temperature changes. And so on.

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Stormier Arctic Seas Affects Sea Ice (which was melting anyway, but still…)

Interesting to look back at this now that the Arctic Ice Cap is opening up and disappearing:

A new NASA study shows that the rising frequency and intensity of arctic storms over the last half century, attributed to progressively warmer waters, directly provoked acceleration of the rate of arctic sea ice drift, long considered by scientists as a bellwether of climate change.

NASA researcher Sirpa Hakkinen of Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and colleagues from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Mass., and the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia, set out to confirm a long-standing theory derived from model results that a warming climate would cause an increase in storminess. Their observational approach enabled them to not only link climate to storminess, but to also connect increasing trends in arctic storminess and the movement of arctic ice — the frozen ocean water that floats on the Arctic’s surface. Results from their study as well as what they could mean for future climate change appeared this month in the American Geophysical Union’s Geophysical Research Letters.

“Gradually warming waters have driven storm tracks — the ocean paths in the Atlantic and Pacific along which most cyclones travel — northward. We speculate that sea ice serves as the ‘middleman’ in a scenario where increased storm activity yields increased stirring winds that will speed up the Arctic’s transition into a body of turbulently mixing warm and cool layers with greater potential for deep convection that will alter climate further,” said Hakkinen. “What I find truly intriguing about confirming the link between the rise in storminess and increased sea ice drift is the possibility that new sinks for carbon dioxide may emerge from this relationship that could function as negative feedback for global warming.”

Hakkinen and colleagues analyzed 56 years of storm track data from earlier studies and annual data on atmospheric wind stress, an established indicator of storm activity, that is generated by the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. The data confirmed an accelerating trend in storm activity in the Arctic from 1950 to 2006. Acknowledging ice as a harbinger of climate change, they next analyzed ice drift data collected during the same 56-year period from drifting stations and after 1979 from drifting buoys positioned around the Arctic that measured surface air temperature and sea level pressure.

Read the rest here.

Increased storminess with global warming may follow different patterns in N v S hemispheres

Weather systems in the Southern and Northern hemispheres will respond differently to global warming … the warming of the planet will affect the availability of energy to fuel extratropical storms, or large-scale weather systems that occur at Earth’s middle latitudes. The resulting changes will depend on the hemisphere and season, the study found.

More intense storms will occur in the Southern Hemisphere throughout the year, whereas in the Northern Hemisphere, the change in storminess will depend on the season — with more intense storms occurring in the winter and weaker storms in the summer. The responses are different because even though the atmosphere will get warmer and more humid due to global warming, not all of the increased energy of the atmosphere will be available to power extratropical storms. It turns out that the changes in available energy depend on the hemisphere and season, according to the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.