Tuesday, June 7, 2016

GWPF Newsletter: The Sun Has Gone Completely Blank


Great Barrier Reef: Scientists ‘Exaggerated’ Coral Bleaching

In this newsletter:

1) The Sun Has Gone Completely Blank
Vencore Weather, 4 June 2016
 
2) Blog Speculation: ‘Only A Question Of Months Before Warming Pause Resumes?’
No Tricks Zone, 4 June 2016
 
3) Great Barrier Reef: Scientists ‘Exaggerated’ Coral Bleaching
The Australian, 4 June 2016
 
4) GWPF Climate Briefing: Antarctic Sea Ice Growth
GWPF Climate Briefing, June 2016
 
5) Windfarms Chief Admits England Is Not Windy Enough For More Turbines
Daily Mail, 6 June 2016
 
6) Green Madness: Subsidies & Taxes Will Make Up Almost 50% Of EU Electricity Bills By 2020
Bloomberg, 3 June 2016

Full details:

1) The Sun Has Gone Completely Blank
Vencore Weather, 4 June 2016
Paul Dorian

The sun has gone completely blank. There are currently no visible sunspots – a sure sign of an approaching solar minimum – and this is the first spotless day on the sun since 2014. In fact, there has been only one spotless day on the sun since 2011 – until today that is. 



There are no visible sunspots on the most current solar image; courtesy NASA/SDO, spaceweather.com

The current solar cycle is the 24th since 1755 when extensive recording of solar sunspot activity began. Solar cycle number 24 is the weakest solar cycle in more than a century with the fewest sunspots since cycle 14 peaked in February 1906.


Sunspot numbers for solar cycles 22, 23 and 24 which shows a clear weakening trend; courtesy Dr. David Hathaway, NASA/MSFC
Sunspot numbers for solar cycles 22, 23 and 24 which shows a clear weakening trend; courtesy Dr. David Hathaway, NASA/MSFC

Info on the maximum phase
We are currently more than seven years into Solar Cycle 24 and it appears the solar maximum of this cycle was reached in April 2014 during a spike in activity (current location indicated by arrow above). Going back to 1755, there have been only a few solar cycles in the previous 23 that have had a lower number of sunspots during its maximum phase. The peak of activity in April 2014 was actually a second peak in solar cycle 24 that surpassed the level of an earlier peak which occurred in March 2012. While many solar cycles are double-peaked, this is the first one in which the second peak in sunspot number was larger than the first peak. The sunspot number plot (above) shows a clear weakening trend in solar cycles since solar cycle 22 peaked around 1990. The last solar minimum phase lasted from 2007 to 2009 and it was historically weak. In fact, it produced three of the most spotless days on the sun since the middle 1800’s (bar graph below).
 

Top "sunspotless" days since 1849; last solar minimum produced 3 of these years
Top “sunspotless” days since 1849; last solar minimum produced 3 of these years

Consequences of a solar minimum
Contrary to popular belief, solar minimum is not a period of complete quiet and inactivity as it is associated with numerous interesting changes. First, cosmic rays surge into the inner solar system with relative ease during periods of solar minimum. Galactic cosmic rays coming from outside the solar system must propagate upstream against the solar wind and a thicket of solar magnetic fields.

Solar wind decreases and sun’s magnetic field weakens during solar minimums making it easier for cosmic rays to reach the Earth. This is a more dangerous time for astronauts as the increase in potent cosmic rays can easily shatter a strand of human DNA. Also, during years of lower sunspot number, the sun’s extreme ultraviolet radiation (EUV) drops and the Earth’s upper atmosphere cools and contracts. With sharply lower aerodynamic drag, satellites have less trouble staying in orbit— a good thing. On the other hand, space junk tends to accumulate, making the space around Earth a more dangerous place for astronauts.

Consequences of weak solar cycles
There can be important consequences from weak solar cycles; especially, if they are part of a long-term pattern. First, this particular weak solar cycle has resulted in rather benign “space weather” in recent times with generally weaker-than-normal geomagnetic storms. By all Earth-based measures of geomagnetic and geoeffective solar activity, this cycle has been extremely quiet. However, while a weak solar cycle does suggest strong solar storms will occur less often than during stronger and more active cycles, it does not rule them out entirely. In fact, the famous “superstorm” Carrington Event of 1859 occurred during a weak solar cycle (number 10). In addition, there is some evidence that most large events such as strong solar flares and significant geomagnetic storms tend to occur in the declining phase of the solar cycle. In other words, there is still a chance for significant solar activity in the months and years ahead.

Second, it is pretty well understood that solar activity has a direct impact on temperatures at very high altitudes in a part of the Earth’s atmosphere called the thermosphere. This is the biggest layer of the Earth’s atmosphere which lies directly above the mesosphere and below the exosphere. Thermospheric temperatures increase with altitude due to absorption of highly energetic solar radiation and are highly dependent on solar activity.

Full post

2) Blog Speculation: ‘Only A Question Of Months Before Warming Pause Resumes?’
No Tricks Zone, 4 June 2016
Schneefan

[…] From June 1997 to January 2016 global temperatures made a pause. Using the unfalsified satellite temperatures from RSS:


Linearer Trend der Abweichungen der globalen Satellitentemperaturen von RSS. Seit 224 Monaten, nämlich von Juni 1997 bis Januar 2016, gibt es trotz eines aktuellen kräftigen El Niño-Ereignisses keinen Anstieg der globalen Temperaturen, der Rekord der Länge der globalen Erwärmungs"Pause" von November 2015 wurde nur um einen Monat verkürzt. "Figure 1. The least-squares linear-regression trend on the RSS satellite monthly global mean surface temperature anomaly dataset shows no global warming for 18 years 8 months since May 1997, though one-third of all anthropogenic forcings have occurred during the period of the Pause." Quelle:
“Figure 1. The least-squares linear-regression trend on the RSS satellite monthly global mean surface temperature anomaly dataset shows no global warming for 18 years 8 months since May 1997, though one-third of all anthropogenic forcings have occurred during the period of the Pause.“ SourceThe Pause hangs on by its fingernails

The powerful El Niño event of late 2015 has temporarily ended the warming pause:
 

Die globalen Temperaturabweichungen der unteren Troposphäre (TLT) von RSS zeigen trotz eines kräftigen El Niño-Ereignisses seit NH-Sommer 2015 und Rekordtemperatur in einem Februar 2016 seit Beginn der Satellitenmessungen im Dezember 1978 weiterhin keine Erwärmung von Ende 1997 bis einschließlich Februar 2016. (grüne Flatline des linearen Trends). Quelle: http://www.woodfortrees.org/graph/rss/to:2016.3/plot/rss/from:1997.9/to:2016.1/trend/plot/rss/from:1997.9/to:2016.3/trend
Sourcewww.woodfortrees.org/trend

Using UAH satellite data, since March the temperature has been falling as the warming effects of the recent El Niño fade:
 

Die UAH-Grafik zeigt die monatlichen Abweichungen (blaue Linie) der globalen Temperaturen der unteren Troposphäre (TLT) sowie den laufenden Dreizehnmonatsdurchschnitt (rote Linie) von Dezember 1998 bis Mai 2016. Wegen eines kräftigen global zeitversetzt wärmenden El Niño-Ereignisses ab Sommer 2015 gab es auch bei den unverfälschten Datensätzen von UAH nach Monats-Rekordwerten von November 2015 bis März 2016 nun im Mai mit einer Abweichung von 0,55 K einen deutlichen Rückgang um 0,16 K gegenüber dem Vormonat April. Der Mai 2016 liegt nur noch auf Rang 2 von 38 Jahren hinter Mai 1998 mit 0,64 K Abweichung. Quelle: wie vor
Source: UAH Global Temperature Update for May, 2016: +0.55 deg. C

NCEP data also show that cooling continues in June 2016, as the following chart depicts:


Der Plot zeigt den Verlauf der globalen 2m-Temperaturabweichungen (schwarze Linie) sowie der beiden Hemisphären. Nach dem El Niño-Höhenflug Ende Februar 2016 gehen die Temperaturen bis Ende Mai 2016 vor allem auf der NH wieder deutlich zurück. Quelle:
Source: weatherbell.com/temperature.php

Since the El Niño has faded, the oncoming projected cooling La Niña is expected to arrive over the coming months: El Niño is dead, La Niña lives! – ENSO update May 2016.

Thus it may be only a question of months before the global warming pause resumes and the Earth cools with the weak sun.

Full post

3) Great Barrier Reef: Scientists ‘Exaggerated’ Coral Bleaching
The Australian, 4 June 2016
Graham Lloyd

Activist scientists and lobby groups have distorted surveys, maps and data to misrepresent the extent and impact of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, ­according to the chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Russell Reichelt.




A full survey of the reef ­released yesterday by the author­ity and the Australian Institute of Marine ­Science said 75 per cent of the reef would escape unscathed.

Dr Reichelt said the vast bulk of bleaching damage was confined to the far northern section off Cape York, which had the best prospect of recovery due to the lack of ­onshore development and high water quality.

The report emerged as Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten traded political fire on the reef’s future this week at the halfway point of the election campaign.

As Labor announced $500 million towards protecting the reef, the Opposition Leader said: “We will invest in direct environmental management. We will invest in science and research. We will invest in proper reef management.’’

He said if Australia did not spend the money on the reef, “it is in serious danger of being irreparably damaged. If we do not act, our children will rightly ask us why didn’t we.’’

The Prime Minister said the reef and its health were “a great passion of mine and my government’’. He cited the chairman of the World Heritage Committee, Maria Bohmer, who said last year Australia’s management of the Great Barrier Reef was a world-class example of coral reef management. “So there is no question that we are doing a good job,’’ Mr Turnbull said.

Activist groups last week seized on reports that a UN ­assessment of the impacts of climate change on iconic Australian World Heritage sites, including the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu and the Tasmanian Wilderness was censored by Australia. It later emerged that the report the government was accused of censoring was complimentary of the Turnbull government’s actions to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

The political debate and the ­release of the authority’s survey results highlights a growing conflict between the lead Barrier Reef agency and the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce headed by Terry Hughes.

Dr Reichelt said the authority had withdrawn from a joint ­announcement on coral bleaching with Professor Hughes this week “because we didn’t think it told the whole story”. The taskforce said mass bleaching had killed 35 per cent of corals on the northern and central Great Barrier Reef.

Dr Reichelt said maps accompanying the research had been misleading, exaggerating the impact. “I don’t know whether it was a deliberate sleight of hand or lack of geographic knowledge but it certainly suits the purpose of the people who sent it out,” he said.

“This is a frightening enough story with the facts, you don’t need to dress them up. We don’t want to be seen as saying there is no ­problem out there but we do want people to understand there is a lot of the reef that is unscathed.”

Dr Reichelt said there had been widespread misinterpretation of how much of the reef had died.

“We’ve seen headlines stating that 93 per cent of the reef is prac­tic­ally dead,” he said.

“We’ve also seen reports that 35 per cent, or even 50 per cent, of the entire reef is now gone.

“However, based on our ­combined results so far, the overall mortality rate is 22 per cent — and about 85 per cent of that die-off has occurred in the far north ­between the tip of Cape York and just north of Lizard Island, 250km north of Cairns. Seventy-five per cent of the reef will come out in a few months time as recovered.”

Full story

4) GWPF Climate Briefing: Antarctic Sea Ice Growth
GWPF Climate Briefing, June 2016

A new study claims to shed some light on the Antarctic’s resilience to global warming. Climate models predict that global warming should be most evident at the poles. But sea ice in the Antarctic has not been melting but has actually increased.
 



5) Windfarms Chief Admits England Is Not Windy Enough For More Turbines
Daily Mail, 6 June 2016
Liz Hull

ENGLAND is simply not windy enough to justify more onshore wind turbines, the head of the industry’s trade body admitted yesterday.




Hugh McNeal, the chief executive of RenewableUK, said that – while there was still a case for more onshore farms elsewhere in the UK – wind speeds in England were just not strong enough for new turbines to make economic sense.

Critics said his comments proved what they have argued all along – that wind farms are an expensive and ineffective power source.

Dubbing wind power a ‘failed medieval technology’, they said that Mr McNeal’s remarks called into question the viability of ‘several thousand’ new turbines currently in the planning stages which are still set to go ahead – as well as England’s existing 1,200 turbines.

Mr McNeal, who joined the industry body from the Department of Energy and Climate Change two months ago, said that new wind farms in England would not be able to compete with the price of electricity produced from gas plants. ‘We are almost certainly not talking about the possibility of new [onshore] plants in England,’ he said.

‘The project economics wouldn’t work; the wind speeds don’t allow for it.’ His comments came after the Government’s decision that from this month wind farms will no longer be eligible for generous taxpayer-funded subsidies – know as Renewable Obligation Certificates – which are offered to renewable energy projects. Britain has invested £1.25 billion in wind power, making it the country’s biggest renewable energy source.

But opponents point to figures which reveal that on some days wind farms meet as little as 0.5 per cent of the nation’s electricity demand – and are only profitable because of massive subsidies paid to operators.

Last year the UK’s 5,300 onshore wind turbines cost taxpayers £800 million – equivalent to an extra £10 a year on energy bills – in Government handouts, but generated less than 10 per cent of all the country’s energy.

Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Forum, said Mr McNeal’s comments were a ‘cry by a desperate lobbyist who is conceding that wind turbines can only survive if the Government continues to hand out the cash’. He added:

‘But it is ordinary families that are paying for these subsidies and they continue to rise – renewables are predicted to cost us £8billion in subsidies by 2020.’

Despite the subsidy scrappage, ‘several thousand’ turbines that have been granted planning permission will still qualify. And ministers remain committed to wind as part of their green energy strategy, which aims to produce 15 per cent of all energy from renewables by 2020. [....]

6) Green Madness: Subsidies & Taxes Will Make Up Almost 50% Of EU Electricity Bills By 2020
Bloomberg, 3 June 2016
Mathew Carr, Ladka Mortkowitz Bauerova and Rachel Morison

Two investors are betting they can make a profit from coal by burning hardly any of it. Backup provisions may mean subsidies and taxes will make up almost half of European electricity bills by 2020.




Daniel Kretinsky, 40, and Patrik Tkac, 43, are trying to capitalize on Europe’s rapid expansion into renewables by embracing the fuel, a mainstay of European energy before efforts to curb global warming, in its new role as a backup for when the wind dies down and the sun fails to shine.

Their Prague-based company bought the U.K’s Eggborough plant in 2014 and last year acquired EON SE’s fossil-fuel stations in Italy. This month, they’ll probably hear if they can take over Vattenfall AB’s German coal-fired facilities. They’ve secured a deal in a U.K. auction where the biggest payout will be about $87 million for keeping a plant on winter standby. Their eventual goal is to get similar backup agreements throughout Europe.

“They’ve cottoned onto the reality that electricity markets are changing,” said Tom Edwards, a consultant at Cornwall Energy Associates Ltd. in Norwich, England, whose clients include the U.K. government. “There’s no getting around the fact that our system still requires coal-fired power over the winter.”

Energeticky a Prumyslovy Holding AS’s proposed takeover of Vattenfall’s 8,000-megawatt business will make it the biggest power producer based in the Czech Republic, overtaking government-controlled CEZ AS. Since its inception in 2009, the company, known as EPH, has expanded in the region, operating energy assets from Czech heating utilities and coal-fired plants to German lignite pits and a coal mine in Poland.

At the time of the Italian purchase, EPH said its plan was to enter European markets seeking to ensure security of supply. One way is through grid contracts where generators can get paid to keep power capacity in reserve.

Eggborough was the biggest U.K. plant that secured a contract to provide reserve power next winter in a tender where the winner got 60 million pounds ($87 million), according to analysis by Sandbag, a London-based environmental group. National Grid Plc, which held the auction, and EPH declined to comment on the contract.

If called on, the 46-year-old power station would get about three times the current market price for its electricity, according to the grid manager. On top of that, the plant can pick up 11,513 pounds an hour if required on standby, and another 3,908 pounds an hour for starting…

No Margin
Germany is planning to set up a reserve of stations to ensure supply as the nation exits atomic energy and closes some fossil-fuel generators. The backup would have eight lignite plants, including some of Vattenfall’s, that would be paid to stay offline except in emergencies.

EPH isn’t alone in seeking to profit from the need for energy security. Macquarie Group Ltd., the largest infrastructure fund manager, owns U.K. gas-fed stations that it fires up at peak times in the balancing market. The country’s margin of spare capacity would shrink to zero next winter without the backup measures, according to National Grid.

EPH will reap benefits as long as European Union members stick with separate national reserve plans, according to Matteo Mazzoni, an analyst at Nomisma Energia Srl in Bologna, Italy. Such backup provisions may mean subsidies and taxes will make up almost half of European electricity bills by 2020, he said. That’s up from about 36 percent now, according to Eurelectric, the utility lobby group.

Full post

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at www.thegwpf.com.

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