tisdag, september 16, 2008

It’s that time of the year

I’m teaching in a course called earth’s resources this time of the year. My part is basic hydrology which touches on e.g. differences between climate and weather, it is all quite fun. However Bo Nordell also is part of the course and for some reason he has decided to give a lecture about his own global warming theory.

His theory have several times bean declared severely flawed but this doesn’t stop him form giving lectures abut it and unpublished data. Nordell also tries to take on the Copernicus role as a lonely misunderstood researcher mistreated and victimised by the political game. So I tell the students abut Oreskes paper and abut the joint science academies’ statement and try to explain how the scientific process works in a few words since going in to details abut his theory tend to get quite messy and abut half of the class is law and economy students which just abut makes it pointless to go in to physics. I also mention that he has no positive citations on his article and that when he have tried to apply for money from the Swedish Research Council he gets the lowest possible grade on his application (and since it in Sweden is a public document I publish some of their *critique at the end of the post).

I like to think that I do ok on explaining the situation to the students but it would be good to have some easy and colourful descriptions abut the scientific errors in his theory, and that’s basically why I wrote this post. If anyone have suggestions on how to handle this please fill them in as a comment below.

*The underpinning of the proposed project is that the mechanism of climate change held by the overwhelming majority of international scientists (i.e., the greenhouse gas GHG effect) is wrong. The applicant is forwarding the idea that thermal pollution explains the observed warming patterns. While thermal pollution may deserve to be further evaluated, there are major flaws in the method proposed to do this in the present project. The project proposes further analysis of geographically distrubted (temperature?) data since 1880 to provide tests of "Nordell´s hypothesis" which is that global warming is a result of heat dissipation from the use of fossil fuel. Nordell bases this hypothesis on calculations using an equation which he has derived relating net outgoing longwave radiation (net OLR) to the temperature at the Earth´s surface (Ts) and the effective radiative temperature at the ´top of the atmosphere´ (Te). Nordell´s derived equation has been published but it is not correct. This has been pointed out to Nordell in published comments, but from his published replies it is evident that he has not understood the comments. Simplified models of radiative transfer like Nordell´s are treated in most student textbooks in atmospheric physics (e.g. Salby 1996, chapter 8) - here it can be seen, for example, that considering radiative transfer alone leads to a temperature discontinuity between the lowermost atmosphere and the ground and to a temperature gradient in the atmosphere which decreases sharply with increasing height - not the uniform gradient which Nordell has ´assumed´ in ´deriving´ his own equation. Energy transfer in the real troposphere is in practice dominated by convection and latent heat (water / water vapour) transfer, not by radiative transfer - so any equation based only on radiative transfer would be inappropriate, even if it were correct. Even if Nordell´s equation were both correct and appropriate, it cannot be applied to calculate net OLR since there are no adequate observations available of the effective radiative temperature at the top of the atmosphere (Te). There are no observations at all before the space age, and even recent observations have very large uncertainties. Nordell seems to use a fixed value based on a (misquoted) rough calculation given in the textbook by Salby. This is totally inadequate for the purpose.

16 kommentarer:

Belette sa...

Nordell's arguments are a pile of poo, obviously. But I think the most immediate way of demonstrating this is to calculate the average w/m2 from the different forcings, as in my post: http://mustelid.blogspot.com/2005/04/global-warming-is-not-from-waste-heat.html

Also, its "role" not "roll" because I love spelling flames.

Magnus sa...

yes, I did link to that in the post. :) the main problem is that they know about 0 math and physics...

Steve Bloom sa...

It's probably obvious, but the wabbitt and atmoz would be good ones to ask for help on this.

Steve Bloom sa...

Come to think of it, very recently (maybe a month ago) there was a paper that calculated waste heat to be a serious problem at some point in the future (some thousands of years from now IIRC), albeit barely detectable now. I'm sure the calculations involve a little math and physics, but they seem almost certain to include much of what you want and will have been peer-reviewed to boot.

Steve Bloom sa...

There's this paper, which isn't quite the one I'm remembering but looks like it may have some useful info and references. Others must have seen the one I'm recalling, so inquiring on a few high-traffic blogs may be useful. It seems likely that the author of this paper would know about it as well, so maybe just email him.

Magnus sa...

Thanks Steve! I have seen another paper also on the subject will find it and post it here later.

Magnus sa...

http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2004/2004GL019852.shtml

CapitalClimate sa...

Re effect of waste heat:
See EOS, VOLUME 89 NUMBER 28,
8 July 2008
"Long-Term Global Heating From Energy Usage"
Link (requires subscription).

CapitalClimate sa...

Introductory paragraph to the EOS paper:

Even if civilization on Earth stops polluting the biosphere with greenhouse gases, humanity could eventually be awash in too much heat, namely, the dissipated heat
by-product generated by any nonrenewable energy source. Apart from the Sun’s natural aging—which causes an approximately 1% luminosity rise for each [10 to the 8th] years and thus about 1ºC increase in Earth’s surface temperature—well within 1000 years our technological
society could find itself up against a fundamental limit to growth: an unavoidable global heating of roughly 3ºC dictated solely by the second law of thermodynamics, a biogeophysical effect often ignored when estimating future planetary warming scenarios.


Note that the relevant time scale here is millenia, not decades.

Magnus sa...

Thanks!

Steve Bloom sa...

That's the one. Thanks, CC.

Magnus, here's a useful page maintained by Willie Soon. In addition to public-access copies of what we've already discussed, notice that there are a couple of other related papers by DeLaat and Maurellis. They too do not cite Nordell.

It seems to me that you've got enough material here for an excellent exposition on how to tell whether a paper is complete cr*p. The two RC posts (here and (here) on the subject might come in handy as well.

Note also this sherd of "Nordellian" crackpottery.

Magnus sa...

Thanks for all the extra articles, however you won’t believe that I just got the article that capitalclimate posted by a colleague he in his turn got it from Nordell in a mail where Nordell tries to use it as support for his theory... oh the humour...

Anonym sa...

Buckminster Fuller used to toss out a similar prediction. More recently I have also seen it used as a reason for why space based solar power microwave energy transmission will not ultimately be a viable option.

I agree that millennia seems to be the timescale and even then it would be easy to see coming and be quickly reversible, unlike GHGs.

Michael Karnerfors sa...

Hey Magnus, do you have a link to the SRC statement about Nordell? I'd like to pass it on to my friends in Nuclear Power Yes Please. Nordell keep popping up from time to time in nuclear discussion, especially when he's dragge din by Göran Bryntse.

Speaking of NPYP by the way... care to join? :)

Magnus Westerstrand sa...

Hi, I don't have a link to it. But you can mail them and ask for it and they will send it to you.

Thanks for the proposal, I'm involved in a little to much right now thou, maybe in the future!

also see:
http://uppsalainitiativet.blogspot.com/2009/04/nordell-om-den-globala-uppvarmningen.html

Anonym sa...

Nordell's argument can be destroyed using simple math, math that even my high school students would be able to understand. The total energy (projected) consumed worldwide in 2010 will be something like 508 quadrillion BTUs, which works out to 536 exajoules (ok, I would say 536 billion billion joules in class). This includes nuclear power, fossil fuels, alternative energies, etc. The forcing due to CO2 is 2 W/m^2, which means that the Earth receives an extra 2 W from longwave radiation that is radiated back toward Earth. When you multiply this by the surface area of the Earth (5.1x10^14 m^2) and multiply by the number of seconds in a year (3.1 x 10^7), one can calculate the amount of energy received from this longwave radiation. In one year, we receive 63,248 exajoules of radiation as a result of having an extra 106 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere. In other words, the total energy consumption worldwide is 118 times lower than the amount of energy received from radiative forcing. I think this can be explained clearly without math.

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