Dust flux, Vostok ice core

Dust flux, Vostok ice core
Two dimensional phase space reconstruction of dust flux from the Vostok core over the period 186-4 ka using the time derivative method. Dust flux on the x-axis, rate of change is on the y-axis. From Gipp (2001).

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ghana needs power . . .

. . .  desperately.

Power was out all day yesterday. It came on around 7 in the evening for just over an hour, and went out again.

Ran down all the batteries so I was just starting to charge them when power went out for the second time.

Came on again late at night, but couldn't charge batteries due to heavy lightning (plugged-in things here tend to explode when lightning strikes).

Power is on again this morning, but for how long?

A recent publication (which bandwidth is too limited for me to find) states that Ghana will produce enough power to supply its needs by 2020. Given that this is a government paper, it is vitally important to investigate its premises.

The authors of these papers tend to adjust their model parameters to suit the desired output. Yes, I understand that power plants are being built, and it is reasonable to assume that their projected capacity will be met. I will also allow their assumption that they will build out the required transmission capabilities as well.

What I don't accept is their projection of future demand. The reason for this is that since the present demand cannot be met, it is certain that it is underestimated. Likewise, the rate of growth of demand tends to be similarly underestimated. For this reason I think that their projected demand in 2020 will fall far short of the real demand, meaning that episodic blackouts, brownouts, and power sharing will continue here far into the future.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A worrying data point . . .

. . . in the climate change debate.

West African climate is monsoonal. The rainy season here in Ghana runs from about March to November (with some fluctuation). In the middle of the rainy season is a short dry spell which is caused by the upwelling of cold waters in July and August. This upwelling is a critical time for fish spawning as it leads to algal blooms. When the cold water rises to the surface, warm humid air offshore condenses and the rain falls on the sea.

Since my arrival I have noticed how cool it is here, especially by the coast. From the local fishermen, I have heard that the sea is unusually cold for this time of year, and the fishing is unusually good. It would seem that the upwelling which normally ends in August or at latest the first week in September has persisted now into the middle of October.

The upwelling means more algal blooms, which ought to be visible on NOAA imagery. I have always thought that the upwelling here was driven by south Atlantic winter storms--does anyone know if the Antarctic winter was unusual in this regard?

Monday, October 15, 2012

News from Ghana

Once again back in Ghana. The power goes off for a few hours every evening, although last night it went off and never came back.

Ghanaians like peace. They don't like war. They will argue loudly in public, but just when you think they are about to come to blows, they stop.

Ghanaians are watching the unfolding situation in Mali closely (I wrote a bit about this before).

Our housekeeper is telling us that Ghanaians are terrified the Islamists will move into Ghana once they have finished with Mali. She told us that everyone is praying that the Americans will come to intervene.

It's awfully convenient for America that two new oil-producing states are suddenly gripped with problems requiring their intervention. Especially when they were involved in the episode which led to the current unstable situation.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sea ice photos from 1985

Here are some pictures taken from my summer on the ice. These illustrate to an extent what we mean by sea ice and multi-year ice.

Pack ice breaking up in June, 1985, Eureka Sound.
The blur at upper right is the Twin Otter propelor.

Thawing ice, Eureka Sound. There is a drainage hole in the middle foreground.
Most of the blue is freshwater sitting on top of ice. Most of the area in this photo
would be ice-free at some point in the summer (note icebergs in background).

Multi-year ice connected to Ice Island, May 1985.

Leaving town

Off to Ghana for the next while. As per usual, this will likely lead to a change in emphasis on stories here from North American/European to African.

Here's the view from the front of our office in Accra.

Update (Halloween):

Unfortunately the neighbours have cleared the lot including the trees where this clever fellow built numerous nests. Such is progress . . .

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Wile E. Bernanke, Super Genius

Wile E. Bernanke has a tough job, fighting falling asset prices.

He looks like he should be opening an umbrella, just before the anvil lands on his head.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

September Arctic sea ice chart buster

Further to this post, we append new measurements for September of 2011 and 2012 to the state space for Arctic sea ice.

I apologize for the cartoonish extension, but I can't find my original data file and don't want to recreate it just now.

Since the system broke out of the area of stability in 2004, there has been a rapid decline in September ice extent (September is normally the minimum for Arctic sea ice extent)--to what some observers believe will be a new zone of stability at approximately zero.

I'm an optimistic kind of guy. It looks like we may be forming a new zone of stability right around the values of the last three years, but need to stay here for several more years to be sure. And it is of some import to note that Antarctic sea ice has been increasing over the same period, so it may be we may be observing some kind of multi-decadal oscillation in sea ice volumes between the two hemispheres. As I've said before, we need more data.