Frozen in Time
Jul 11, 2019
Inconvenient Energy Realities

Mark P. Mills

The math behind “The New Energy Economy: An Exercise in Magical Thinking”

A week doesn’t pass without a mayor, governor, policymaker or pundit joining the rush to demand, or predict, an energy future that is entirely based on wind/solar and batteries, freed from the “burden: of the hydrocarbons that have fueled societies for centuries. Regardless of one’s opinion about whether, or why, an energy “transformation” is called for, the physics and economics of energy combined with scale realities make it clear that there is no possibility of anything resembling a radically “new energy economy” in the foreseeable future. Bill Gates has said that when it comes to understanding energy realities “we need to bring math to the problem."55

He’s right. So, in my recent Manhattan Institute report, “The New Energy Economy: An Exercise in Magical Thinking,” I did just that.

Herein, then, is a summary of some of bottom-line realities from the underlying math. (See the full report for explanations, documentation and citations.)

Realities About the Scale of Energy Demand

1. Hydrocarbons supply over 80% of world energy: If all that were in the form of oil, the barrels would line up from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, and that entire line would grow by the height of the Washington Monument every week.

2. The small two percentage-point decline in the hydrocarbon share of world energy use entailed over $2 trillion in cumulative global spending on alternatives over that period; solar and wind today supply less than 2% of the global energy.

3. When the world’s four billion poor people increase energy use to just one-third of Europe’s per capita level, global demand rises by an amount equal to twice America’s total consumption.

4. A 100x growth in the number of electric vehicles to 400 million on the roads by 2040 would displace 5% of global oil demand.

5. Renewable energy would have to expand 90-fold to replace global hydrocarbons in two decades. It took a half-century for global petroleum production to expand “only” 10-fold.

6. Replacing U.S. hydrocarbon-based electric generation over the next 30 years would require a construction program building out the grid at a rate 14-fold greater than any time in history.

7. Eliminating hydrocarbons to make U.S. electricity (impossible soon, infeasible for decades) would leave untouched 70% of U.S. hydrocarbons use - America uses 16% of world energy.

8. Efficiency increases energy demand by making products & services cheaper: since 1990, global energy efficiency improved 33%, the economy grew 80% and global energy use is up 40%.

9. Efficiency increases energy demand: Since 1995, aviation fuel use/passenger-mile is down 70%, air traffic rose more than 10-fold, and global aviation fuel use rose over 50%.

10. Efficiency increases energy demand: since 1995, energy used per byte is down about 10,000-fold, but global data traffic rose about a million-fold; global electricity used for computing soared.

11. Since 1995, total world energy use rose by 50%, an amount equal to adding two entire United States’ worth of demand.

12. For security and reliability, an average of two months of national demand for hydrocarbons are in storage at any time. Today, barely two hours of national electricity demand can be stored in all utility-scale batteries plus all batteries in one million electric cars in America.

13. Batteries produced annually by the Tesla Gigafactory (world’s biggest battery factory) can store three minutes worth of annual U.S. electric demand.

14. To make enough batteries to store two-day’s worth of U.S. electricity demand would require 1,000 years of production by the Gigafactory (world’s biggest battery factory).

15. Every $1 billion in aircraft produced leads to some $5 billion in aviation fuel consumed over two decades to operate them. Global spending on new jets is more than $50 billion a year - and rising.

16. Every $1 billion spent on datacenters leads to $7 billion in electricity consumed over two decades. Global spending on datatcenters is more than $100 billion a year- and rising.

Realities About Energy Economics

17. Over a 30-year period, $1 million worth of utility-scale solar or wind produces 40 million and 55 million kWh respectively: $1 million worth of shale well produces enough natural gas to generate 300 million kWh over 30 years.

18. It costs about the same to build one shale well or two wind turbines: the latter, combined, produces 0.7 barrels of oil (equivalent energy) per hour, the shale rig averages 10 barrels of oil per hour.

19. It costs less than $0.50 to store a barrel of oil, or its equivalent in natural gas, but it costs $200 to store the equivalent energy of a barrel of oil in batteries.

20. Cost models for wind and solar assume, respectively, 41% and 29% capacity factors (i.e., how often they produce electricity). Real-world data reveal as much as 10 percentage points less for both. That translates into $3 million less energy produced than assumed over a 20-year life of a 2-MW $3 million wind turbine.

21. In order to compensate for episodic wind/solar output, U.S. utilities are using oil- and gas-burning reciprocating engines (big cruise-ship-like diesels); three times as many have been added to the grid since 2000 as in the 50 years prior to that.

22. Wind-farm capacity factors have improving at about 0.7% per year; this small gain comes mainly from reducing the number of turbines per acre leading to 50% increase in average land used to produce a wind-kilowatt-hour.

23. Over 90% of America’s electricity, and 99% of the power used in transportation, comes from sources that can easily supply energy to the economy any time the market demands it.

24. Wind and solar machines produce energy an average of 25-30% of the time, and only when nature permits. Conventional power plants can operate nearly continuously and are available when needed.

25. The shale revolution collapsed the prices of natural gas & coal, the two fuels that produce 70% of U.S. electricity. But electric rates haven’t gone down, rising instead 20% since 2008. Direct and indirect subsidies for solar and wind consumed those savings.

Energy Physics...Inconvenient Realities

26. Politicians and pundits like to invoke “moonshot” language. But transforming the energy economy is not like putting a few people on the moon a few times. It is like putting all of humanity on the moon - permanently.

27. The common cliche: an energy tech disruption will echo the digital tech disruption. But information-producing machines and energy-producing machines involve profoundly different physics; the cliche is sillier than comparing apples to bowling balls.

28. If solar power scaled like computer-tech, a single postage-stamp-size solar array would power the Empire State Building. That only happens in comic books.

29. If batteries scaled like digital tech, a battery the size of a book, costing three cents, could power a jetliner to Asia. That only happens in comic books.

30. If combustion engines scaled like computers, a car engine would shrink to the size of an ant and produce a thousand-fold more horsepower; actual ant-sized engines produce 100,000 times less power.

31. No digital-like 10x gains exist for solar tech. Physics limit for solar cells (the Shockley-Queisser limit) is a max conversion of about 33% of photons into electrons; commercial cells today are at 26%.

32. No digital-like 10x gains exist for wind tech. Physics limit for wind turbines (the Betz limit) is a max capture of 60% of energy in moving air; commercial turbines achieve 45%.

33. No digital-like 10x gains exist for batteries: maximum theoretical energy in a pound of oil is 1,500% greater than max theoretical energy in the best pound of battery chemicals.

34. About 60 pounds of batteries are needed to store the energy equivalent of one pound of hydrocarbons.

35. At least 100 pounds of materials are mined, moved and processed for every pound of battery fabricated.

36. Storing the energy equivalent of one barrel of oil, which weighs 300 pounds, requires 20,000 pounds of Tesla batteries ($200,000 worth).

37. Carrying the energy equivalent of the aviation fuel used by an aircraft flying to Asia would require $60 million worth of Tesla-type batteries weighing five times more than that aircraft.

38. It takes the energy-equivalent of 100 barrels of oil to fabricate a quantity of batteries that can store the energy equivalent of a single barrel of oil.

39. A battery-centric grid and car world means mining gigatons more of the earth to access lithium, copper, nickel, graphite, rare earths, cobalt, etc. - and using millions of tons of oil and coal both in mining and to fabricate metals and concrete.

40. China dominates global battery production with its grid 70% coal-fueled: EVs using Chinese batteries will create more carbon-dioxide than saved by replacing oil-burning engines.

41. One would no more use helicopters for regular trans-Atlantic travel - doable with elaborately expensive logistics - than employ a nuclear reactor to power a train or photovoltaic systems to power a nation.

Mark P. Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a McCormick School of Engineering Faculty Fellow at Northwestern University, and author of Work in the Age of Robots, published by Encounter Books.

Jun 22, 2019
Climate Apocalypse? Ireland To Ban Private Cars, Import 1M Third-World Migrants

Drivers will be forced off the roads in Ireland and the population packed into “higher density” cities under a long-awaited climate plan which will ‘revolutionise’ people’s lifestyle and behaviors, according to local media.

“Nudge” policies such as huge tax hikes, as well as bans and red tape outlined in the plan, will pave the way to a “vibrant” Ireland of zero carbon emissions by 2050 according to the government, which last year committed to boosting the country’s 4.7 million-strong population by a further million with mass migration.

In order to avert a “climate apocalypse”, the government plans to force people “out of private cars because they are the biggest offenders for emissions”, according to transport minister Shane Ross whose proposals - which include banning fossil fuel vehicles from towns and cities nationwide - are posed to cripple ordinary motorists, local media reports.

Launching the plan in Dublin, leader Leo Varadkar outlined his vision for an Ireland of ‘higher density’ cities consisting of populations whose lifestyles and behaviors have been totally transformed by ‘carrot and stick’ policies outlined in the climate plan.

“Our approach will be to nudge people and businesses to change behavior and adopt new technologies through incentives, disincentives, regulations, and information,” the globalist prime minister said.

“We are going to change how electricity is produced and consumed, how our homes and workplaces are heated; the way we travel; the types of vehicles we purchase; and how food is produced.

‘Put an Empty Space to Better Use’: Irish Urged to House Migrants in Spare Beds

Irish Urged to House Migrants in Spare Beds

Homeowners in Ireland have been asked to pledge spare rooms as part of the government’s Irish Refugee Protection Programme.

“It’s about vibrant, populated city centers, liveable, with excellent amenities and transport as we embrace higher densities.”

The document, which was unveiled on Tuesday, features more than 180 measures to decarbonize the Irish economy including making private car ownership prohibitively expensive - with petrol and diesel car sales banned by 2030, a date by which it says general carbon tax will be increased from Euro20 a tonne to “at least” Euro80.

In addition, the plans demand that coal and peat-fired power stations are replaced with wind farms and other “green” energy sources in order to meet the requirement that 70 percent of electricity will be generated from renewables by 2030.

Irish People Fear Country ‘Changing Too Quickly’, ‘Too Politically Correct’

While Ireland’s establishment backs “social justice” and open borders, a poll reveals most citizens feel uneasy about its transformation.

But plans to dramatically slash carbon emissions by ditching tried and tested energy sources such as coal and nuclear in favor of renewables will necessarily result in a collapse in living standards according to scientists including Cambridge engineering professor Michael Kelly, who has previously explained that such proposals “represent total madness”.

“In energy terms the current generation of renewable energy technologies alone will not enable a civilized modern society to continue,” he asserted in a peer-reviewed paper published in 2016, pointing out that renewables such as solar, wind, and hydropower supply just seven per cent of electricity needs globally while “the rate at which fossil fuels are growing is seven times that at which the low carbon energies are growing.”

The Hughes Medal-decorated physicist cautioned:

“The call to decarbonize the global economy by 80% by 2050 can now only be described as glib in my opinion, as the underlying analysis shows it is only possible if we wish to see large parts of the population die from starvation, destitution or violence in the absence of enough low-carbon energy to sustain society.”

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See the effect of offshore wind farms off Ireland on bird populations here.

Isle Of Man Seabird Populations Plummet As Wind Farms Overwhelm The Irish Sea

Herring Gulls are down 82%, European Shag down 51%, Razorbills down 55%. The list goes on....
* The world’s biggest offshore wind farm is just a few miles away.
* Isn’t there a conspicuous connection?

The Isle Of Man wildlife charity Manx Birdlife has reported a shocking 40% decline in the populations of many species of sea birds around the island’s coast.

The worrying figures emerged following a comprehensive census that took place over two years. Whatever the reason for the sharp decline of the birds, it illustrates that something has gone very wrong.

I’ve noted with interest that this unprecedented drop in populations, of several of the island’s maritime species, coincides with the proliferation of wind farms in the Irish Sea - something which has worried me during the past few years, as I have witnessed the frenzied development of the wind industry in the waters off the western coasts of England and Wales.

World’s Biggest Offshore Wind Farm just a few miles away…

We know that offshore turbines kill birds and bats, though it is almost impossible to estimate the number of casualties because there are no retrievable carcasses to count at sea....
It is also highly likely that wind farms adversely affect many marine mammals.

The world’s largest offshore wind farm is now in operation off the Cumbrian coast at Walney, just 40 miles or so from the Isle of Man, and, with the news that nearby bird populations are in free-fall, we must seriously ask whether the huge turbines might be killing more birds than we ever anticipated.

The Isle of Man study was, ironically, partly supported by the Walney Extension Offshore Wind Farm Project. How paradoxical would it be to find that the project itself, with its giant 640 feet turbines, was responsible for the plummeting numbers of sea birds.

The report is full of depressing statistics. Herring Gulls are down 82%, European Shag down 51%, Razorbills down 55%. The list goes on.

Marine Protected Areas “may not necessarily be major barrier to new projects...”

I’ve been increasingly concerned at the feverish pace of industrial offshore wind farm development in this country and especially in the Irish Sea. Such a high density of turbines in a confined area - an area renowned for its wildlife - has been watched with dismay by many environmentalists, especially since large parts of the sea have been designated Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s), supposedly limiting the scale of industrial development in precious areas that provide important habitat for so many species.

Alas, development has been allowed in vast parts of the sea that fall just outside the protected zones - and there have even been hints that the MPA’s themselves may not be off limit for future wind farm expansion.  Last year, a report carried out for the Welsh government suggested that ‘this protection may not necessarily be a major barrier to new projects”’ - which sounds shockingly irresponsible to me.

Isle of Man plans might seriously threaten birds’ survival

Though the Isle Of Man currently has none of its own offshore wind farms, their government is reportedly close to approving industrial wind development off the island’s coast as early as next year. Such plans might seriously threaten the survival of species already struggling to cope with the industrialization of their habitat.

Wind energy companies might flaunt their green ideologies for all to see - but their industry nevertheless hides a grim reality. Their ‘green’ energy kills wildlife.

Money Vs Wildlife…

Speaking about the alarming drop in bird populations, managing director of Manx Birdlife, Neil Morris, suggested that “there are a number of causes for these declines and the solutions, such as protecting nesting sites, restoring food chains and mitigating climate change, will be challenging.”

It will be interesting to see whether more research will be carried out into just how many birds are being killed by the Irish Sea wind farms. My hunch is that many people would rather keep that information under their hats. So much money invested in offshore wind means that bad publicity would be very unwelcome and it is common for critics of the industry to be ridiculed.

​It seems likely that vast swathes of our coastal seas are likely to be further industrialized by the wind giants - even if it is at the expense of wildlife.

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See how Washington plans for a carbon tax would affect you here:
https://cei.org/content/cei-releases-new-video-explaining-how-carbon-tax-would-punish-american-families


Jun 03, 2019
Global Warming: Is There Anything It Can’t Do?

Francis Menton, Manhattan Contrarian

Would even a 1 or 2 degree change be noticed given the great range of extremes in every state.

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Enlarged

Note: see also this post Will The Democratic Candidates Ever Notice That The Climate Change Thing Is Over?

The general interest newsmagazines of the world have been in serious decline for years.  Time, Newsweek, U.S. New and World Report - what ever happened to them?  Although all of them still exist in some form, they are all shadows of their former selves. 

But then there is The Economist of London.  These people put out what at least looks on the surface to be a serious print edition every week.  They devote real resources to gathering news from around the world.  If you want to find out what’s going on in, say, Argentina or the Congo or Uganda, this is one of the few places that you can find it.  But can you trust anything they say?

I’ve been a long-time subscriber to The Economist, and had long regarded them as relatively sensible, generally less infected by leftist groupthink than most mainstream sources.  But then, a few years ago - I can’t pinpoint the exact date - they made what appears to be a corporate-level decision to go all in for global warming alarm.  Henceforth, every issue would contain one or several global warming stories, always with the slant of trying to scare the readership about the allegedly terrible crisis at hand. 

Since then, it’s been a steady downhill slide.  But how low can this go?  In the issue of May 25-31, 2019, we seem to have hit bottom, with an editorial headlined “How to think about global warming and war.” Yes, they have now descended to attempting to blame all world warfare and strife on the universal bogeyman of “global warming.”

How would that even work?  Supposedly, through this obvious chain of logic:

[F]uture-gazers are right to warn that global warming has made some wars more likely than they would otherwise have been, and will make others more so in the future. It is never possible to pinpoint a specific war and say that it would not have happened in the absence of climate change, just as it is impossible to say that a particular flood or typhoon was caused by it. Rather, climate change is causing environmental upheaval that destabilizes regions and raises the risk of bloodshed.

Can you fill us in on what is the supposed “environmental upheaval”?  The answer is, we will just repeat the usual mantras about “extreme weather” and droughts and floods, without bothering to check the underlying facts in any way:

Some things are clear.  Accumulating greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme droughts and floods in some regions.  Seasonal rains and monsoons are becoming more variable and less predictable.  As one area grows parched, its inhabitants encroach on land traditionally farmed or used for grazing by others.  Disputes erupt, some of which are already turning violent…

What is the supposed evidence of “increasing frequency and intensity of extreme droughts and floods”?  The closest thing in this article to evidence is a single picture, presumably from the Sahel region of Africa, showing what looks like severe drought conditions:

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Sahel photo.

But is there actually a measurable trend somewhere in the world showing that so-called “extreme” weather conditions are increasing?  Of course, it’s the opposite.  The people at AC (Alarmist Claim) Research have just updated their work on fact checking many of the usual alarmist claims about global warming, from droughts and floods to sea level rise to hurricanes and tornadoes and many others.  The summary report, with a revision date of May 20, 2019, can be found here.  The more detailed report as to the sub-topic of droughts and floods can be found here. (See this story on the flooding this spring and May tornadoes). From the introduction on the droughts and floods topic:

In testimony before Congress Professor Roger Pielke, Jr. said: “It is misleading, and just plain incorrect, to claim that disasters associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, or droughts have increased on climate timescales either in the United States or globally.  Droughts have, for the most part, become shorter, less frequent, and cover a smaller portion of the U.S. over the last century.”

Go to the link for an abundance of charts and graphs showing U.S. and worldwide trends in droughts and floods, which universally are either flat or downward, not upward.  The article in The Economist mentions specifically the Sahel region of Africa as one place where strife is supposedly increasing due to long-term drought.  They seem completely unaware that the Sahel specifically has been experiencing increasing rainfall over the past several decades.  Here is a 2011 Briefing Paper from the Global Warming Policy Foundation specifically on the subject of that trend in the Sahel, titled ”The Sahel is Greening.” Excerpt:

The Sahara is actually shrinking, with vegetation arising on land where there was nothing but sand and rocks before. The southern border of the Sahara has been retreating since the early 1980s, making farming viable again in what were some of the most arid parts of Africa. There has been a spectacular regeneration of vegetation in northern Burkina Faso, which was devastated by drought and advancing deserts 20 years ago… Vegetation has also increased significantly in the past 15 years in southern Mauritania, north-western Niger, central Chad, much of Sudan and parts of Eritrea.

For more recent data on Sahel rainfall and greening, see this April 2019 article from Nature.  But then, who needs facts when there’s a narrative to advance?  The problem for The Economist is that the total abandonment of facts in favor of advancing a political narrative ultimately destroys their credibility on all issues. 

May 28, 2019
Around the world, backlash against expensive climate change policies

by H. Sterling Burnett

From Alberta to Australia, from Finland to France, and beyond, voters are increasingly showing their displeasure with expensive energy policies imposed by politicians in an inane effort to purportedly fight human-caused climate change.

Skepticism over whether humans are causing dangerous climate change has always been higher in America than in most industrialized countries. As a result, governments in Europe, Canada, and other developed areas are much farther along the energy rationing path, cutting carbon dioxide emissions as required. However, residents in these countries have begun to revolt against the higher energy costs they suffer under due to high taxes on fossil fuels and mandates to use expensive renewable energy.

This is what originally prompted protesters in France to don yellow vests and take to the streets in 2018. They were protesting scheduled increases in fuel taxes, electricity prices, and stricter vehicle emissions controls, which French President Emmanuel Macron had claimed were necessary to meet the country’s greenhouse gas reduction commitments under the Paris climate agreement. After the first four weeks of protest, Macron’s government canceled the climate action plan.

Also in 2018, in part as a reaction against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s climate policies, global warming skeptic Doug Ford was elected as premier of Ontario, Canada’s most populous province. Ford announced he would end energy taxes imposed by Ontario’s previous premier and would join Saskatchewan’s premier in a legal fight against Trudeau’s federal carbon dioxide tax.

And in August 2018, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was forced to resign over carbon dioxide restrictions he had planned to meet the country’s Paris climate commitments. His successor announced that new goals of reducing energy prices and improving reliability, not fighting climate change, would be the government’s priority going forward. Subsequently, Australia’s deputy prime minister and environment minister announced the country would continue using coal for electricity and expand coal mining and exports.

But 2018 was just a prelude for the political climate revolt to come.

In mid-March, the Forum for Democracy (FvD), a fledgling political party just three years old, tied for the largest number of seats, 12, in the divided Dutch Senate in the 2019 elections. FvD takes a decidedly skeptical stance on climate change. On the campaign trail, Thierry Baudet, FvD’s leader, said the government should stop funding programs to meet the country’s commitments to international climate change agreements, saying such efforts are driven by “climate change hysteria.”

In Finland, climate change policies became the dominant issue in the April 14 election, as support for climate skepticism suddenly surged. While all the other parties proposed plans to raise energy prices and limit energy use, when all the votes had been counted, the Finns Party, which made the fight against expensive climate policies the central part of its platform, came out the big winner with the second-highest number of seats in Parliament. Just two months prior to the election, polls showed the Finns Party’s support hovering below 10%. But after the the party made battling alarmist climate policies its main goal, its popularity soared, delivering it the second-most seats in Finland’s legislature - 39, just one seat behind the Social Democratic Party, with 40 seats. Even the New York Times noted the Finns Party’s electoral surge was based on its expressed climate skepticism.

In Alberta, where the economy declined after Prime Minister Trudeau’s climate policies were enacted, voters on April 16 threw out the reigning Premier Rachel Notley and her New Democratic Party, which supported federal climate policies. The United Conservative Party, headed by newly elected Premier Jason Kenney, took over after vowing to scrap the province’s carbon tax and every other policy in NDP’s climate action plan. As part of that effort, Kenney said he would reverse plans to accelerate the closure of the province’s coal power plants and its cap on emissions from the oil sands. In addition, Kenney says he will challenge the federal government’s climate impositions in court and streamline regulations hampering the province’s critical oil and gas industry and pipeline construction.

As daily headlines become ever more shrill, hyping climate fears based on projections made by unverified climate models, the international public is becoming increasingly wary of the Chicken Little claims of impending climate doom. Voters in developed countries are saying “enough is enough” to high energy prices that punish the most vulnerable but do nothing to control the weather.

May 18, 2019
NOAA - poor weather station siting leads to artificial long term warming

Anthony Watts

Note:
See this from Powerline on Bad Data.

Anthony is a good friend from way back in the early days of TWC. He worked with me and many others on a comprehensive overview of Temperature issues here. He also undertook a volunteer effort with many in the field to evaluate station siting, finding most did not meet the NOAA standards - which he then worked with a team of climatologists to examine (shown below). After that was released, NOAA’s GAO did their analysis and in a report showed by their methodology that 42% of the network in 2010 failed to meet siting standards and they have recommendations to NOAA for solving this problem. He then worked with a team of climatologists to examine and publish the impact analysis (here, discussed below). Now a new NOAA analysis shows poor station siting does matter.

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Anthony Watts WUWT

I’ve been saying for years that surface temperature measurements (and long term trends) have been affected by encroachment of urbanization on the placement of weather stations used to measure surface air temperature, and track long term climate. In doing so we found some hilariously bad examples of climate science in action, such as the official USHCN climate monitoring station at the University of Arizona, Tucson:

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USHCN weather station in a parking lot. University of Arizona, Tucson

I have published on the topic in the scientific literature, and found this to be true based on the science we’ve done of examining the USHCN and applying the siting methodology of Leroy 2010.

In Fall et al, 2011 we discovered that there was a change to the diurnal temperature range (DTR). It decreased where stations had been encroached upon, because of the heat sink effect of man-made materials (asphalt, concrete, bricks, etc.) that were near stations.

For layman readers that don’t know what diurnal variation is, it is the daily variation of temperature due to the variation of incoming solar radiation from rotation of the earth on its axis.

It looks like this:

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Source

Here is what we found; in the best-sited stations, the diurnal temperature range in the lower 48 states has no century-scale trend, but the poorly sited stations had a reduction in DTR:

These results suggest that the DTR in the United States has not decreased due to global warming, and that analyses to the contrary were at least partly contaminated by station siting problems.  Indeed, DTR tended to increase when temperatures were fairly stable and tended to decrease when temperatures rose.

Fall, S., A. Watts, J. Nielsen-Gammon, E. Jones, D. Niyogi, J. Christy, and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2011: Analysis of the impacts of station exposure on the U.S. Historical Climatology Network temperatures and temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., in press. Copyright (2011) American Geophysical Union.

A few years back in 2012, I noted that NOAA was doing an experiment to prove or disprove what we learned.

Initial funding was provided this year by the USRCRN Program for a multi-year experiment to better understand the thermal impacts of buildings with parking lots on air temperature measurements. A site near the offices of ATDD will be instrumented to measure accurately the air temperature and other variables at multiple distances from the potential thermal heat source, corresponding to the distances from thermal sources used in classifying USCRN stations (Figure 7).

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This study will have several applied and practical outcomes. Determining the downwind range of influence of a typical building will be important for understanding built environment impacts on surface air temperature measurements. Other measurements of radiation and heat fluxes will help illuminate the physical processes responsible for any detected heat transfers. Finally, this information will help influence future USCRN/USRCRN siting decisions. Additional insight is being sought by collaborating with National Weather Service (NWS) and National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) on extensions of the basic project. This effort promises to be greatly useful to understanding climate quality temperature measurements and how they can be influenced by the station site environment.

They have finally published. (h/t to Steve Mosher) Guess what? Like I’ve said all along (and been excoriated for saying so) they found exactly what we did.

Impacts of Small-Scale Urban Encroachment on Air Temperature Observations

Ronald D. Leeper, John Kochendorfer, Timothy Henderson, and Michael A. Palecki

https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/10.1175/JAMC-D-19-0002.1

Abstract (bold mine)

A field experiment was performed in Oak Ridge, TN, with four instrumented towers placed over grass at increasing distances (4, 30, 50, 124, and 300 m) from a built-up area. Stations were aligned in such a way to simulate the impact of small-scale encroachment on temperature observations. As expected, temperature observations were warmest for the site closest to the built environment with an average temperature difference of 0.31 and 0.24C for aspirated and unaspirated sensors respectively. Mean aspirated temperature differences were greater during the evening (0.47C) than day (0.16C). This was particularly true for evenings following greater daytime solar insolation (20+ MJDay−1) with surface winds from the direction of the built environment where mean differences exceeded 0.80C. The impact of the built environment on air temperature diminished with distance with a warm bias only detectable out to tower-B’ located 50 meters away.

The experimental findings were comparable to a known case of urban encroachment at a U. S. Climate Reference Network station in Kingston, RI. The experimental and operational results both lead to reductions in the diurnal temperature range of ~0.39C for fan aspirated sensors. Interestingly, the unaspirated sensor had a larger reduction in DTR of 0.48C. These results suggest that small-scale urban encroachment within 50 meters of a station can have important impacts on daily temperature extrema (maximum and minimum) with the magnitude of these differences dependent upon prevailing environmental conditions and sensing technology.

And, we’ve published at AGU on the effects of siting on 30 year temperature trends:

The quality of temperature station siting matters for temperature trends

Anthony Watts / December 17, 2015

30 year trends of temperature are shown to be lower, using well-sited high quality NOAA weather stations that do not require adjustments to the data.

NEW STUDY OF NOAA’S U.S. CLIMATE NETWORK SHOWS A LOWER 30-YEAR TEMPERATURE TREND WHEN HIGH QUALITY TEMPERATURE STATIONS UNPERTURBED BY URBANIZATION ARE CONSIDERED

EMBARGOED UNTIL 13:30 PST (16:30 EST) December 17th, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - A new study about the surface temperature record presented at the 2015 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union suggests that the 30-year trend of temperatures for the Continental United States (CONUS) since 1979 are about two thirds as strong as officially NOAA temperature trends.

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Figure 3 - Comparisons of well sited (compliant Class 1&2) USHCN stations to poorly sited USHCN stations (non-compliant, Classes 3,4,&5) by CONUS and region to official NOAA adjusted USHCN data (V2.5) for the entire (compliant and non-compliant) USHCN dataset.

Using NOAA’s U.S. Historical Climatology Network, which comprises 1218 weather stations in the CONUS, the researchers were able to identify a 410 station subset of “unperturbed” stations that have not been moved, had equipment changes, or changes in time of observations, and thus require no “adjustments” to their temperature record to account for these problems. The study focuses on finding trend differences between well sited and poorly sited weather stations, based on a WMO approved metric Leroy (2010)1for classification and assessment of the quality of the measurements based on proximity to artificial heat sources and heat sinks which affect temperature measurement. An example is shown in Figure 2 below, showing the NOAA USHCN temperature sensor for Ardmore, OK.

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Figure 1 - USHCN Temperature sensor located on street corner in Ardmore, OK in full viewshed of multiple heatsinks.

Dare I call this new NOAA paper vindication?

Or, by doing so will the rabble of global warming zealots led by schmucks like Dr. Michael Mann find yet another reason to label me a “Koch funded science denier”?

I could use a beer right about now. You can support the work here.

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