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Artful Dodger

Hi Terry,

Here is an good blog post on the short-term GWP of methane. Here's the money$shot:

This graph is from a 2009 paper which is now out of sequester, for your reading pleasure :^)

D.T. Shindell et al., "Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to Emissions". Science vol 326: pp. 716-718 (2009)


Kevin McKinney

Don't know if anyone has already pointed to this, though it looks not. But here's an early study on the ecological results of last season's ice loss:


Short version: deep anoxic zones in the Arctic... can't be a good thing.

My first thought was that this should generate some methane--but then I thought, yeah, but it's probably too deep to make it to the surface before breaking down. So--acidification, maybe some impact on the carbon cycle in the AO?

The study leaves the further ecological ramifications as a great big old question mark.

Kevin McKinney

And a more detailed story on the same:


“With the thinning ice we think that the sub-sea ice algae can grow much faster and earlier in the season,” Boetius said. “These large algal falls will export a lot of nutrients from the ice to the sea floor,” which can seriously impact ecosystem dynamics over time, especially if fresh algae continues to fall earlier and in larger amounts due to ice thinning.

Is "a lot" enough to affect the carbon cycle regionally? If so, this would actually be a negative feedback. I'm guessing that the effect is not big enough to be radiatively significant, though--"well-mixed" and all that; from memory the entire AO is something like 7% of Earth's surface, so even a strong regional CO2 flux probably isn't going to cut it.

Ecologically, it's a different story, of course.

Bob Wallace

A couple days ago on the current PIOMAS thread the question arose about the EROEI (energy returned on energy invested) for wind turbines and solar panels.

My comment at the time was that I didn't see it very relevant as once we built the 'first generation' of turbines and panels further manufacturing would not be using non-replaceable energy sources (oil and coal) but would use the energy produced by those turbines and wind.

Yesterday I stumbled on this text and graph put up by the Vestas wind turbine company.

"For wind turbines the breakeven time of for instance a V80-2.0MW wind power plant is 8.6 months for low wind conditions. Over the life cycle of a V80-2.0MW wind power plant it will return 28 times more energy back to society than it consumed over its life cycle. So when 1 kWh is invested in a wind energy solution you get 28 kWh in return. Whereas if you invest 1kWh in coal you typically get 0.28 kWh in return."

EROEI photo EROEI.jpg


Wayne Kernochan

Hi all - I have just done a blog post on a peripherally-related topic (runaway greenhouse gas effect) at waynekernochanblog.blogspot.com.

I would very much welcome any input from this community explaining to me how I'm wrong - because it was very depressing writing it. Thx in advance - wayne

Bob Wallace

Werther - I posted the EROEI graph before I saw your comment on the previous page. I think the graph says "not to worry" about EROEI for renewable energy.

Now, your statement -

"I can’t imagine 8 million cars and 1 million vans all refuelled on electricity through the current grid in Holland."

I know nothing about the state of Holland's grid, but I wouldn't be surprised if you are not correct.

Let me respond by talking about the US grid. Studies have found that the US has sufficient capacity to charge EVs/PHEVs equal to about 80% of all cars and light trucks on the road right now. We build capacity to cover peak hour demand, much of that capacity goes unused for large parts of the day.

We'd have no problem keeping ahead of demand were all new car/light truck sale to suddenly become electric. Adding EVs/PHEVs to the grid is a boon for wind. Onshore wind tends to blow more at night when electricity demand is down. That means that nighttime wind generation doesn't earn much money.

Plugging in millions of electrics at night will create a new late night market for power, increase the profits for wind, increase investment/installations, and bring more peak hour wind to the grid.

Holland will figure out their route to a clean and ample grid. It will almost certainly via connecting to its neighbors grids. Europe seems to be building to a large, unified grid which will stretch from Iceland to eastern Europe and possibly to Northern Africa and the Middle East.

Holland may not make 100% of its own electricity in the future. It may use solar from Spain, Italy, Greece or Morocco. It may use hydro from Sweden and Iceland as well as geothermal from Iceland.

Grabbing some quick numbers it seems that Holland produces about 59 thousand barrels of oil per day but burns a bit over 1 million barrels per day. It looks like importing energy for vehicles is already something done.

Over the next 20-30 years our grids will become something different that what they are. They will become "smarter" and less wasteful of electricity. Their inputs will morph from dead algae to fusion occurring in that big orange ball in the sky.

Ron Mignery

Kevin McKinney

Algae blooms and subsequent falls do not necessarily remove CO2. These blooms are often coccolithophores with calcium carbonate (CaCO3) shells. Their fall removes one CO2 but also one calcium. That calcium otherwise could hold two CO2s as the bicarbonate (Ca(HCO3)2). The fall actually reduces the CO2 holding capacity of the ocean.

Ron Mignery

Kevin McKinney

In the article you cite, the blooms are diatoms that have silicon-based shells and their fall does not involve CaCO3. Of course, the falls involve more than just the shells and carbon would deposit from the contents of the shell regardless of the shell's composition. The loss of nutrients, such as silicon in the case of diatoms, would constrain this process and I doubt it would therefore have much effect on CO2 levels in the atmosphere.


Bob, I admire your patience and standfastness.

Maybe I’ve been reading too much Gail Tverberg (Our finite world) or Museletters by Richard Heinberg.

I hope that the transition can be made without a serious rupture in cultural and material aspects of our lives. I am quite sure we could introduce wind and solar on a community level.
But for production, maintenance and renovation of facilities for durables we are very dependent on traditional energy sources (at least, at our present consumption).

I am afraid most consumers will feel betrayed when a dream like yours is implemented on the commitment they won’t have to endure lower material standards of living. So I am trying to find the real story.

For now, there’s climate to watch and concern to spread. The only way to get people at least interested in transition is to give them a clear view of the bleak future when we fail.


I sympathise with your blogpost, Wayne. But in the Netherlands we cheer (media...) when prospectors recently announced 40 mkm3 of natural gas in the North Sea. They’re going for it, just like the Canadian government. We should start organising opposition….

I’m afraid the moment for a hard stop is much closer than you write. The PETM-mode is near.
I can’t say anything reliable whether the Venus-mode is possible on Planet Earth. But I’m quite sure intricate ecosystems and human culture as we know it will have ceased far before that mode.

Wayne, I once put some poetry by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in the blog. The Swinburne poem is almost as dark as a song text by one of my favourites, Peter Hammill ”Over the Hill”:
'Now if we speak of distances we're only covering old ground:
what's done is done and if we have become of worth at all
we'll hope to see things in the round.
Let's close the book on history and keep it safe and sound.
While we've been moving forward to our goals
we have done as we have told,
so the story's closed behind us
and the countdown comes in backwards,
that much was always clear,
so when it reaches zero our heroes disappear'

In a way it always comforts me to listen, sob it out and get to do something...anything at all.

Bob Wallace

"I am afraid most consumers will feel betrayed when a dream like yours is implemented on the commitment they won’t have to endure lower material standards of living. So I am trying to find the real story."

I can't figure out how switching to renewable energy would lower material standards of living.

We could all drive plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). We could do 75%+ of our driving using electricity, drive as much as we have been driving, and not be range restricted. That wouldn't change anything about the way we drive. We'd just take a few seconds to plug in when we park and unplug when we leave. And we'd stop at the gas pump far, far less.

We'd have more money in our pockets.

We could get all our electricity from renewables and our overall cost of electricity would be the same or less.

We could fly a lot less and travel on electrified high speed rail. Moderate length trips would be as fast overall and much more comfortable.

How would any of that cause a drop in living standards?

If you live at the bottom of the ladder and light your house with a smoky kerosene lantern, walk for miles to charge a cell phone and you can get a solar system that gives you very good quality light, charges your cell phone, and powers a radio for less than you were paying for kerosene - is that not an improvement in living standards?

I read people like Gail from time to time and I just don't get them. They somehow think that we can't drive with electricity when we already are. They seem to think that we can't generate electricity cleanly when we already are.

Again, I'm not sure that we won't get badly hurt by extreme weather caused by the carbon we've already "de-seqestered". The melting of the Arctic is quite disconcerting (scary).


I have updated the METOP 2 IASI CH4 methane imagery for 2/14-2/15. More will be done tomorrow.


Bob Wallace

"But for production, maintenance and renovation of facilities for durables we are very dependent on traditional energy sources (at least, at our present consumption)."

Are we?

Set aside long distant air travel, cross ocean shipping and some agricultural activities what can't we do with electricity?

Jim Hunt

Bob - Like Werther, and as I've said before, I wish I had your optimism!

"Let me respond by talking about the US grid. Studies have found that the US has sufficient capacity to charge EVs/PHEVs equal to about 80% of all cars and light trucks on the road right now."

Let me respond by asking if you might provide a link to one or more of these studies.

"We could do 75%+ of our driving using electricity, drive as much as we have been driving, and not be range restricted."

All these things we could do, we aren't doing. If they are technically feasible, they don't seem to be actually happening.

Regarding the technical feasibility of such things over here in Northern Europe, here's a recent paper on that very topic by a professor of Physics:


David MacKay also happens to be the UK Government's chief scientific advisor on "Energy and Climate Change", and he reckons that:

"In a decarbonized world that is renewable-powered, the land area required to maintain today’s British energy consumption would have to be similar to the area of Britain. Several other high-density, high-consuming countries are in the same boat as Britain, and many other countries are rushing to join us. Decarbonizing such countries will only be possible through some combination of the following options: the embracing of country-sized renewable power generation facilities; large-scale energy imports from country-sized renewable facilities in other countries; population reduction; radical efficiency improvements and lifestyle changes; and the growth of non-renewable low-carbon sources, namely “clean” coal, “clean” gas, and nuclear power."

Can you provide any links to credible references that refute his point of view?

Werther - "I am quite sure we could introduce wind and solar on a community level."

We could do, but we aren't, over on this side of the North Sea at least:



Hi Bob,

"How would any of that cause a drop in living standards?"
I agree totally, that a transition to a future-proof economy is possible and future is in our hands. But why is that well known transition still not happening? If USA would at least start to follow Europe, we could gain momentum and we could also help the transistion in non-developed countries, too. But from USA we still not heard that there is even a plan or an objective...

In the mean time it is very difficult for us to go the "Mali-way", e.g. sending troops to prevent the "fossil-suicide-bombers" from risking our childrens lifes. US military maybe would on the wrong side now making it very difficult to convince anyone ;-)

In theory - there is no big problem. In practice - we do close to nothing. Is there any reason? Not a reasonable on...

Jim Hunt

P.S. - By way of example, let's play spot the difference. A couple of recent remarks by Ed Davey, the United Kingdom's Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

1. February 12th 2013:

"Those who deny climate change and demand a halt to emissions reduction and mitigation work, want us to take a huge gamble with the future of every human being on the planet, every future human being, our children and grand children, and every other living species.

We will not take that risk"

2. February 15th 2013:

"The UK Government has today given Statoil consent to drill one of the biggest developments ever in the North Sea.

The development of the £4.6 billion Mariner heavy oil field has been made possible through partnership between government and industry, together with targeted tax breaks."


>"sufficient capacity to charge EVs/PHEVs equal to about 80% of all cars"

So capacity is there but sufficient renewables are just not possible unless the country includes large deserts. If there aren't deserts then nuclear may have the low space requirement. I am not sure how well we can do uranium/thorium mining with electricity. There will always be some need for power density of oil but I don't see why that cannot be met from biofuels as long as the population isn't so large as to require all land for food production.

Electric tractors would help reduce the effect of modern agriculture being conversion of fossil fuel calories to food calories.

Many products other than oil come from distilling crude. As long as we can still get sufficient fertilizers for food production then we will probably find suitable substitutes for most things.

Building nukes will take time. So will increasing renewables to serious levels but at least that process is underway.

Whether Greenland and West Antartica ice sheet can be saved seems doubtful. Can still hope for a lot more snowfall when arctic becomes sea ice free. If not there is quite a bit of time to adjust before rapidly rising sea levels start to occur.

It is a big problem in many ways. Living standards decline by a thousand cuts?


I read this recently:
As 21st century technology strains to become ever faster, cleaner and cheaper, an invention from more than 200 years ago keeps holding it back. It's why electric cars aren't clogging the roads and why Boeing's new ultra-efficient 787 Dreamliners aren't flying high.

We need to leapfrog the engineering of making of batteries


A common sight from space in recent years, for a week or so a consistent cold low , almost literally cloudless hovering around the North Pole. It has a sibling almost at with the same rotation centre in the stratosphere. I surmise near surface low largely shaped by the core of thick ice surrounded by thinner ice with multiple leads and or open water. The open water makes the air above adiabatic, rising, at its centre clear air, enhanced by the core of thicker ice. weather over the pack is not the same as 2012, because of the different ice topography as a result of the greatest melt ever. I can say that the Arctic Ocean sea ice is finally consolidating of late, the buoys are not moving so fast , its late and almost on time for it to do the opposite after the Maxima.

Artful Dodger

Hi folks,

Here's a direct link to Wayne's blog post from Feb 18, 2013:

The Other Sad Task of Combating Climate Change

Everyone, if you haven't seen recently James Hansen's seminal 1976 paper on the runaway greenhouse effect on Venus (the paper that started his career), there are copies freely available at a few places:

Greenhouse effects due to man-made perturbations of trace gases


Jim Hunt

In the fervent hope that everyone isn't bored to tears with the "renewable energy" conversation, the latest US energy infrastructure numbers have just been released by FERC:


In brief summary - Wind 5.17% of total operating electricity generating capacity. Solar 0.38%

Bob Wallace

I wouldn't describe myself as an optimist. I see myself more as a problem solver who doesn't turn pessimistic until all attempts have failed and there are no more ideas to try.

"We could do 75%+ of our driving using electricity"

Toyota and GM did study a few years back and found that 85% of all US driving days are 40 miles or less. 15% of all US driving days are longer than 40 miles, but using a 40 mile PHEV like the Volt would mean that even those days the 'first 40' would be electric.

I think my back of envelop 75%+ is a reasonable estimate.

Sales for the Volt and other electrics are increasing. Prices have dropped. Electrics are very new to the market and like all technology shifts change generally starts slow and then accelerates. Look at how computers replaced typewriters and ledger books. How digital photography replaced film.

Bob Wallace

Let me give you a very quick reply to MacKay who claims...

"In a decarbonized world that is renewable-powered, the land area required to maintain today’s British energy consumption would have to be similar to the area of Britain."

I give you this analysis...

"The report reveals that rapid development of the UK’s offshore resource – using fixed wind, floating wind, tidal stream, tidal range, and wave technologies – could by 2050 generate an amount of electricity equivalent to a billion barrels of oil per year, or the same as the average annual output of UK North Sea oil and gas production seen over the past four decades.

If developed still further to tap their full practical potential, offshore renewables would allow the UK to power itself six times over at current levels of demand."


Zero land area. The UK is extremely energy rich, right off the beach.

Not all countries may be able to produce enough renewable electricity within their boarders to meet 100% of their needs.

So what? How many countries now produce 100% of the oil they consume? 100% of the coal they burn?


Thin ice and more leads should cause ocean to warm the atmosphere more than usual. Yet is seems a rather cold winter and volume is catching up to last couple of years.

Is this just a fluke? Or is there some hope that this could be the start of winter volume barely declining and thus the start of the long tail of remaining ice that models show?

Bob Wallace

Let's look at land/surface use for renewables...

First, if we were to power the world in 2030 with nothing but solar panels.

Land Required 100% Solar photo LandUse100Solar.jpg

These rectangles are probably too large. Solar panels are getting more efficient, it will take less area to produce the same amount of power. In most of the world those rectangles would likely be about the size of rooftops and parking lots.

Then if we used nothing but offshore wind to power the world in 2030.

Surface Area 100% Offshore Wind photo SurfaceArea100OffshoreWind.jpg

Figure that maybe 30% of our electricity is going to come from solar, 40% from on and offshore wind, 10% from hydro, 10% from geothermal, 10% from wave and tidal. Or whatever mix you guess would be the most affordable. We don't need to use much land for energy harvesting.

Bob Wallace

Here's some 'fun with numbers' stuff I worked up for another site. It deals with the land use issue. First electricity...

In 2010, the US used 4,143 TWh (terawatt hours) of electricity. (11,300,000 MWh per day.)

Since we’re just guessing what our future grid would look like, let’s assume we get 40% of our electricity from wind, 40% from solar, and 20% from hydro, geothermal, tidal, wave, etc.

4,143 TWh x 40% / 365 days = 4,520,000 MWh needed per day from wind.

The average wind turbine is around 3 MW in size and median capacity is now 43%.

So, 3 MW x 24 hours x 43% capacity = 30.1 MWh per day from each 3 MW turbine.

4,520,000 MWh / 30.1 MWh per turbine = 150,166 3MW turbines.

The footprint of a wind turbine is typically around 0.25 acres. This includes the tower foundation, roads, and support structures.

150,166 wind turbines x 0.25 acres = 36,040 acres required for our wind turbines.

The land needed to install all those 150,166 turbines would take the space of about 2.4 Manhattan Islands, 1.4 Disney Worlds, or 0.0015% of the US.

Of course we'd spread them out so they don't bump into each other....


Then personal vehicles...

Average miles driven per US car in 2010 was 13,476.

EVs use roughly 0.3 kWh of electricity per mile.

That’s 4,043 kWh needed per year to drive 13,476 miles.

That works out to 11 kWh per day.

The DOE estimates that, in 2007, the number of US cars on the road was 254,400,000.

If all our cars were EVs, we would need to generate 2,798,400,000 kWh per day. Rounding up, let's make that 2,798,500 MWh per day.

The average size of a wind turbine in the US has a power capacity of 3 MW. Using the average size, a wind turbine will produce 30.1 MWh per day (3 MW x 24 hours x 43% capacity).

To power 25.4 million EVs, we would need 92,973 3MW turbines.

At 0.25 acres per turbine, the total land required would be 23,243 acres.

For some perspective, the island of Manhattan contains 15,168 acres, Disney World covers 30,500 acres and Washington, D.C. covers 43,712 acres.

Add in some losses for transmission and battery charging and the point is that we could get all the electricity needed to charge every car and light truck in the US with two Manhattans, one Disney World or less than one Washington, D. C.

2.4 Disney Worlds would provide 40% of all US electricity and power 100% of its personal vehicles if they were all electrics.

Bob Wallace

SATire - the US is lagging Europe, and now China. Largely, I think, because we have such a large number of climate change deniers.

But we're out of the game. We just made our wind subsidy program more reasonable. Wind farms no longer need to be completed in the subsidy year but just need to have made adequate progress toward completion.

Solar installation prices are falling and the installation industry is maturing. Look for us to install a lot of solar this upcoming year and more the next. We're also increasing our geothermal capacity and are about to stick our first wind turbine into the ocean.

I think we're in the lead in terms of public places to charge EVs.

The US is really good at doing things on a large scale once it gets going. What was that thing that Churchill said - something about the US always doing the right thing. After they had tried all the wrong things.

Bob Wallace

crandles - I still don't see how our quality of life will suffer.

Travel/transportation. EVs will almost certainly become as cheap or cheaper than ICEVs. And they are already significantly less expensive to operate.

13,000 annual miles x 0.3 kWh/mile x $0.12/kWh = $468 to charge an EV.

13,000 annual miles / 50 MPG x $3.50/gallon = $910 to fuel an efficient ICEV. Add in significantly higher maintenance costs.

Our houses are becoming more energy efficient, and that makes them more comfortable. Our appliances, TVs, computers, light bulbs, etc. are becoming more efficient.

That also saves us money.

Food is likely to go up some in cost, especially meat. That may offset the savings from transportation and housing but it doesn't mean a standard of living decrease.

Medical care is likely to become more effective and less expensive.

Our air and water are likely to become cleaner.

The materials needed for people in less developed countries are available, energy is abundant, labor waits for jobs. The people low on the ladder can have better homes, clean electricity and more/better food.

Where is this lower standard of living coming from?

I've left off the pain and cost that's likely to be caused by extreme weather/climate change. That will hit us whether we use fossil fuels or renewables. Although with renewables we can limit the long term pain.


"Thin ice and more leads should cause ocean to warm the atmosphere more than usual. Yet is seems a rather cold winter and volume is catching up to last couple of years."

Crandles, its an illusion of sorts, open water warmer air rises rich with water vapour apparently absent clouds covering a wider area, there are less cloud seeds, the moisture is there but the clouds are not forming. Weather is a matter of synergy from all parts of Earth...and from outer space as well. It should not surprise anyone that warm air from more open water is unstable and rises quickly. Arctic ocean sea ice now is a thinner version of its old self , wafer thin ice invited winter to finally take the Arctic ocean area, but the sun rises and the smaller than past freeze is stalled to make way to Spring which will hold some surprises if wider in area clouds don't form.


Wayne and Crandles,

What I am observing is ongoing long linear fracturing in the Central Arctic basin cutting right through what should be thick ice.

In the last two days three major fracture lines have developed across the entire basin, two passing through above 80 N. They do not seem to be anomalies...

Here is the link to where I posted them.

Check the center column from Feb 17 up to Feb 20.




4Real, cudos as usual!! , you and A-team have also pointed out near North Pole unbelievable multi laced fracturing never seen before indicating poor state of the ice. One must remind readers that the great cold came from the South.

John Christensen

crandles, wayne, A4R,

I would agree with crandles that it is cold - around -30C across most of the AO and the neighboring seas, and volume has gone up significantly in past few weeks. Will be interesting to see next PIOMAS numbers.

It seems what is different this winter compared to 2009/10 and 2010/11 winter months is that NAO turned neutral by mid-Nov rather than being in negative phase for extended periods in those years.

With negative NAO the North Atlantic low pressure area moves west to southern Greenland, allowing more moist/warm air to enter the Arctic from the Atlantic side. In turn this slows ice volume development in those critical months, which is probably more important to long-term health of Arctic ice than just SIA or SIE.

Barents is still terrible this winter, but Kara looks a tiny bit better than past few years, and sea ice volume also benefits from Arctic cold appearing to 'stay in place' to a larger extent.

Question: To me PIOMAS is more important than cracks, and cracks lead to ice development under these conditions, or am I being ignorant?


Morning Crandles,
The shape-up of Arctic winter we see now is a feature of the last twenty days.
The comparison below highlights the difference between winter ’11-’12 and ’12-’13.

 photo Airtemp1000Mbano1509-17022012to2013_zpsf4b41460.jpg

Cumulative ‘winter power’ is still on the weak side.


Thanks for the comments. Interesting variety.

>"Cumulative ‘winter power’ is still on the weak side."

How should temperatures be weighted to arrive at 'winter power'?

Early in the freeze season, the ice thickness is well below equilibrium and there is rapid growth but the final equilibrium thickness depends on temperatures in Feb/March/April? Does that mean negligible weight should be attached to temperatures in Jan and prior?

>"They[cracks] do not seem to be anomalies..."

Are you saying it isn't a one off single crack or are you saying the cracking is normal having occurred in previous years?

What effects do you expect the cracks to have? (Maybe that is just restating John's interesting question.)

"Moisture is there" having risen would suggest volume shouldn't be catching up as it appears to have done in Jan. So first reaction is perhaps the data prefers moisture isn't there due to NAO. However perhaps the volume is catching up due to cracks and water vapour is not playing much of a role. Probably lots more data that could change interpretation of what is happening.

John Christensen

Interesting SIA numbers on CT today:

SIA has passed max of '05, '06, '07, and '11, and not likely to have reached max yet for this year.

Baffin catching up nicely, but Greenland showing increased export via Fram?

And overall still would be bad without Bering..


And both the DMI temperature map and the temperature plot are showing extreme cold (links over page on "Daily Graphs".

The first time I remember seeing the purple colour appearing on the Surface Air Temp map, and the last temperature plot makes this the coldest day in the Arctic in over four years, since 2009.

Caveat; at this time last year, on the Atlantic side, the weakness in the ice was in the thinly iced area of Kara/Barentzs and was expressed as no ice in large parts of those areas. This year, as many people here have noted, the Atlantic seems thinly iced in the area of the Fram Strait, where the ice is much thicker. While this may have caused cracks, it does not register as "ice free" area.

Thinner ice cover in Barentzs = no ice.

Thinner ice cover in Fram Strait = thinner ice.


Bob you seem to arrive at 36000 acres to house 40% of 4143TWh.

Wikipedia comes up with a 9000 acre wind farm:

"The Alta Wind Energy Center in California is the country's largest wind farm at 1020 megawatt (MW) capacity.[8] It consists of 342 wind turbines manufactured by General Electric, and Vestas. In 2012 it surpassed the Roscoe Wind Farm in Texas when additional phases of the project were completed. The project is located in Kern county and covers a 9,000-acre (36 km2) area.[25] [26]"

36000 acres is 4 times 9000 acres. 4* 1020MW = 4080 MW. That seems some way short of 1600TW.

Maybe that isn't the most efficient wind turbines or most efficient use of land area. Still a factor of 400 takes some making up.

I could easily have got some figures/understanding wrong but with this just being one wind farm and US wind production being just 5%, I think you might be being a little too optimistic.

May well still be doable in countries like US with lots of space/arid land. Planning battles in densely populated countries like UK seem particularly acute.

Kevin McKinney

Re: colder winter temps, the DMI graph was quite warm for the first months of the winter, but currently shows a big downward spike--well, I'm presuming that it will be a spike, and not an enormous step change. I don't know about 'winter weighting'...

But I do wonder what is forcing this change. Inasmuch as the warmer temps have been ascribed to advection of cold air south (and therefore warmer air north), I wonder whether there's a strengthening of the polar jet stream that might lessen said advection (and consequent mixing)?

Anybody good at interpreting those damn isobar charts? I'm not, and besides I really need to turn to some 'useful' work just now...

But I'll check back, just in case!

James Lovejoy

Crandles, Bob was assuming 4 turbines per acre. The windfarm you were referencing had only 1% that turbine density.

The good news is that even if we had to increase by a factor of 640 from Bob's estimate, that would still "only" be 36,000 square miles, that would still only be around 1.2% of the US lower 48 land area.

And the land used need not be otherwise unusable land, agricultural and pastoral land could easily be used as long as tall trees weren't involved.

Even so, I'm not optimistic. I feel like I did over 35 years ago when I was told that the economic and engineering problems of storing nuclear waste were solved and all that remained were the politcal problems. My thought then, as now, was 'I'd rather the political problems were solved, and we needed to work on the engineering'

Artful Dodger

Hi A4R,

Thanks for your continued coverage of the flaw lead story in the CAB. May I recommend that you update the link on your webpage to include login credentials within the link:


As some background, anonymous FTP sites can just use this form of URL:


However, when a FTP server requires a login, then the URL needs to include credentials (else a web browser will prompt for them):


Here's another tutorial:(hth ;^)



Climate Changes

With all the CH4 gone up this year a good season for Noctilucent Clouds can be expected.... else I'll eat my hat!


John, it sure is cold in the far north these days, but I would question if this will have any significance on the sea ice. Much of the coldest air, -35 to -45 degrees, seems to be located in an area that is already covered by thick MYI which, as far as I know, can only gain further thickness by compacting. Also, we have now come to February, something which implies that these are areas probably covered in a significant layer of insulating snow as well, I therefore find it difficult too see how this cold can have any major impact on the thickness or the general state of the icepack itself.

Last time the DMI arctic temperature map showed temperatures this low was in the winter of 09/10, but I cannot see any significant volume gains in this period looking at the PIOMAS data, instead, three months later sea ice volume begun one of its most spectacular "of the chart" drops in recorded sea ice history. It is interesting to see this cold phenomenon happening, but I doubt very much it can have any impact on the sea ice or the upcoming melting season.

Bob Wallace

crandle/James -

Wind turbines use only a small portion of wind farms for their tower foundation, service buildings, etc. Often the service roads are the shared roads that the farm uses.

A wind farm may leave 98%+ of its space available for 'original use' purposes - agriculture/grazing/wildlife.

Because of behind-turbine turbulence turbines generally are widely spaced. In an area in which the direction of the wind is mostly from only one direction you may see a line of turbines placed close together, perpendicularly to the wind direction. But behind them there will generally be a large open space.

I think the formula is something like a space of 10x the blade rotation width.

Here's an example...


(Some great images on that site. Sky views of wind farms around the world.)

Bob Wallace

(I sure wish we could edit comments.)

The UK probably should turn to offshore wind in a big way. Don't bother so much with the onshore land use battles but go out where the wind is likely better and resistance lower.

That's likely the answer for Japan and other European countries. It's certainly the answer for the east coast of the US. Our offshore potential is much higher than onshore. Offshore winds are generally more regular and tend to produce more during daylight hours.


hi all,

Another notorious hotbed of climate change denialism has apparently taken advantage of the sea ice blogees' distraction and excitement over a new forum to slip out this piece of fossil-fuel propaganda...


...suggesting the Arctic ice will not disappear until 2034, or summat.


Most excellent concept Werther! Total integrated heat would serve a better idea. Now if we can only put this anomaly map to better numbers like how much more heat in Joules greater than same period last year, would be most outstanding. So much for those who think its colder than last year the greens outnumber the blues.



Thanks for the helpful correction for the link on AVHRR Arctic Ice imagery. I will provide more imagery when something new develops.

Artful Dodger

de nada, A4R... "From one, many".

Thanks for sharing!


John Christensen


Agree with your point; thick MYI will grow much slower due to the insulation, and the insulation is in turn illustrated by the extreme cold that would otherwise not be possible.

However, the same way as stirring a pot on a stove will help to ensure overall heating of the content of the pot (rather than just burning the bottom layer), the compacting of ice and development of cracks should also help to increase cooling downwards, and we have seen ample examples of cracks appearing also at high latitude.

Will be interesting to see next PIOMAS numbers..

Jim Hunt


"The UK probably should turn to offshore wind in a big way. Don't bother so much with the onshore land use battles but go out where the wind is likely better and resistance lower."

Probably we could, perhaps we should, and the wind is certainly better. Unfortunately the impedance is no lower:



A new report on Arctic Sea Ice decline and impact on green house gasses in the Arctic:


According to Dr. Parmentier, in a comment in Decoded Science:

“We have less data available for methane emissions; it is, therefore, more difficult to establish a connection between sea-ice extent and CH4 release. However, it is reasonable to think that, with a smaller sea-ice extent, an increase in CH4 emissions is likely; indeed some modelling studies predict this.”




"Unfortunately the impedance is no lower"
The impedance in the grid can be controlled nicely by a phase shifter - re-use just one of the generators of the obsolet nuclear power plants for that purpose, that is already prooven technology.

In summary - there is no excuse to delay the necessary transition into the future. That would make everything more expensive and risky. Germany brought PV-prices down by scaling, Denmark paved the way for efficient wind years ago - so everybody can follow now. Even USA installs wind now and has allready twice as much installed as Germany. What is missing is a clear goal and a signature under the contract. If we can not do it together, it will not be done.
German "environment secretary" speaking about 1,000 billion costs for us until 2040 and argues to reduce it... So: Please follow us before we start to follow USA in the wrong direction!

Jim Hunt

Good morning SATire,

I'm overjoyed to discover somebody understood my terrible pun!

In the context of "resistance" to renewable energy here in the UK however, getting the equations to balance is not so simple.

"Environmental" types are battling each other over the issue, long before they get on to battling "Big Government" and/or "Big Oil".

Doing it together is not totally trivial either. By way of example, as we speak the EU is also battling the UK over energy efficiency:


and China over solar PV:



Effective renewables so effective. UK have 8.2GW of installed wind power (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/9858849/Thousands-of-wind-turbines-to-go-up-as-subsidies-cut.html) and more than £6 billion a year subsidies to only 9 wind farms (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/9844140/Foreign-firms-100bn-wind-farm-subsidies.html), but in fact it is only 1-1.5 GW average power (http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/). Give me that money i will produce that power from training bike style generators ))



"Environmental" types are battling each other over the issue, long before they get on to battling "Big Government" and/or "Big Oil".

those battles are won in Germany. Now there are lots of battles arround specific interests: e.g. E.ON crying for carbon tax, RWE trying to prevent it - so big electricity companies are battling depending on their actual business models (coal vs. wind, big off-shore vs. local community wind, ...). Nuclear is again on the leave, back to the old agreement from 2000.

Main German problem (next to cheap coal) are the cars - since hybrid consumes more oil than the diesel on the Autobahn, they have no chance here. It will be pure electrical in the cities (with the new batteries in development) and pure oil on the Autobahn, with max 4 l/100 km (min. ~60 US mpg). Maybe hybrid can come close to that in the future, but hybrid is considered just a marketing joke here to sell more silly SUVs in Californian cities.

I think, the Chinese will convince us one day to use efficient electrical cars - as they do with PV-modules right now.

Jim Hunt

Lanevn - Your links seem to be broken. You may wish to join the continuing "Renewable Energy" conversation over on the new forum, where I've fixed them.


Sorry, those damn brackets stuck to links (


SATire regenerative braking will increase efficiency regardless of the power source as a result what's needed on the autobahns are diesel hybrids with the same benefits as are obtained by gasoline hybrids.


Bob Wallace

SATire - " It will be pure electrical in the cities (with the new batteries in development) and pure oil on the Autobahn, with max 4 l/100 km (min. ~60 US mpg). Maybe hybrid can come close to that in the future, but hybrid is considered just a marketing joke here to sell more silly SUVs in Californian cities."

I don't understand your thinking here. Are there a lot of German drivers who drive long distances most days on the Autobahn?

Or is it more the case that lots of people drive modest distances on normal days and long distances occasionally?


Phil and Bob,

I understand, that it is difficult for you to understand us - it is also always complicated for me to understand what I see in California.

On average consumption of any hybrid SUVs is larger than of diesel cars. On Autobahn - long distance without any need to break - the thing is clear: Hybrid makes no sence if you do not us the break. In the city one the other hand, you would never need the combustion - so that motor is only a weigth.

Jim Hunt

For a lightweight alternative to Detroit's take on these matters, here's an "open source" vehicle from the depths of the British countryside, powered largely by ultracapacitors:


According to Lee Iacocca:

"We are continuously faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems"

According to RiverSimple:

"Being less unsustainable is still not sustainable."


SATire, read what I said, a diesel hybrid, I did not mention an SUV. From your description of driving in Germany such a hybrid would be perfect



if a hybrid would be perfect here, it would be on the roads, of course. The Porsche 918 makes some sense, since a sports care is using the gas or the breakes.
For practical purposes it makes much more sense to buy a pure electrical and rent a efficient combustion car (>50 mpg) for the holidays. But is still more efficient to buy a combustion car instead of a electrical - petrol prices have to rise a bit from todays 7 €/gallone to make the battery competitive here. But I think the Chinese will soon help, too,


If you think a sports car ist not efficient - the hybride Porsche 918 Spyder needs 3 l/100 km :-O

Jim Hunt

Phil - Being somewhat less unsustainable is a long way from being perfect.


SATire, your blind faith in the market economy to achieve the optimum solution is touching but unrealistic. I find the idea that the German population is divided between those who only drive their cars in cities and those who only drive on the autobahns surprising.


I met a guy in a pub last year who reckoned he had a wheeled sled pulled by three huskies. The greatest advantage being that, as the huskies were self steering, he could go to the pub, get catastrophically drunk, and even fall asleep on the sled on the way home. He was looking forward to being stopped by the law, and pleading that he was not actually in charge of the vehicle, and that the lead dog was clearly sober.

At least, I think that's what he said. I may not be a reliable witness.



I think you did not get my thoughts.

If we would act reasonable, we would have fast electrical trains for long distances, metro for cities, electrical buses in suburbs and villages, shared electrical cars or automatic electrical taxies on demand for short trips.

But instead we prefer to be run by our male hormons, we all buy "individual" mass-produced cars to impress the girls and waste the world. It is about time to punish this behaviour - similar like poeple prevented other poeple from wearing fur: Scratch and paint the nice cars after they were forbidden by law ;-)

A hybride on Autobahn is not better than combustion - it has only benefits in some places like Calfifornia due to local laws there. But e.g. a prius needs in average more petrol than a similar VW and both need to much.

I do not believe in the market, since the market prefers size instead of quality, grass instead of taste, mass instead of durability, life-style instead of happiness and is on the way to destroy the world for nothing.

The market needs to be guided carefully to make it beneficial. That rules have to adapted often and we need contracts between countries to act fair. That is a lot of the work done in Europe...


-51ºC today at Eureka, Ellesmere island.



Cryosphere Today's annual average area graph peaks today on day yyyy.1863 (approx March 9).

All downhill from here.

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