Saturday, April 05, 2008

Record volcanic uplift noted, global warming blamed. Icelanders doomed.

Well, it would be a record if the writer for The Times hadn't spectacularly misqouted an abstract from Geophysical Research Letters. The faulty article notes that glacial melting in Iceland has led to the removal of vast amounts of overburden from a volcano. The resulting uplift allowed the magma chamber to expand upwards as much as 25 meters/year for more than 100 years.

Unfortunately for mountaineers, who doubtless had their hopes raised, the abstract reports that maximum uplift is of a somewhat smaller scale, more like 25 millimeters/year. That's a whopping three orders of magnitude difference (25,000 mm vs. 25 mm). Ouch.

In addition, the uplift has only been measured for a period of less than 10 years (which isn't to say that the uplift hasn't been going on for as long as the glacier has been retreating - but the abstract doesn't state that).

So it doesn't seem as if the world will see an explosion of rapidly expanding volcanoes that will presumably then do some exploding and bring Biblical calamity to our global warming ignoring population. Bullet dodged, as Mr. Blair might headline it.

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Global warming models need updating (as do dire predictions)

From the journal Geophysical Research Letters is this recent abstract:
We compare new observationally-based data sets of Antarctic near-surface air temperature and snowfall accumulation with 20th century simulations from global climate models (GCMs) that support the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report.

[....] 20th century (1880–1999) annual Antarctic near-surface air temperature trends in the GCMs are about 2.5-to-5 times larger-than-observed. [....] Resolving the relative contributions of dynamic and radiative forcing on Antarctic temperature variability in GCMs will lead to more robust 21st century projections.
Translation: The models used by the IPCC are off and need recalibrating (the models predict higher warming than observed).

Not that this means that global warming isn't occurring, just that the long range forecasts based on what must be admitted are flawed models are maybe not the best policy making tool. Using such models to force massive changes on people's lives is likely to have unpleasant consequences.

If global warming is as bad as we are told, nothing short of geo-engineering on a global scale can reduce the danger. China alone builds a new coal fired plant every two weeks. No amount of compact fluorescent bulbs we install in our homes can possibly undo that simple fact.

Until those pushing for massive changes in western civilization agree to start building nuclear power plants on a large scale, their dire predictions won't be taken seriously.

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