Search This Blog


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

IPCC staying on course, with some variation

Sou | 5:12 PM 1 Comment so far

In case you missed it. I meant to write about this a couple of days ago when I first read of it (thanks to the IPCC vice-chair Jean-Pascal van Ypersele and Leo Hickman).

At it's recent meeting the IPCC made five noteworthy decisions, as reported by Roz Pidcock at the Carbon Brief. They are:

1. Major comprehensive reports will continue to be produced every five to seven years.
In between there may be more special reports. For example, there has been a request for a report on oceans.

2. There may be a bit more time allowed between the reports from different working groups
However, the time span between the release of WG1 to WGIII won't be any longer than 18 months.

3. Science writers and graphic designers will contribute to the Summary for Policy Makers.
This is excellent news. I've said before that science communicators ought to be used to translate the science. Scientists will have the overall say and will sign off on reports (as will governments when it comes to the SPM, as always).

4. The IPCC will put more effort into communication activities
Again, excellent news. There is talk of an offer from the Norwegian government, to hold a workshop for scientists to discuss such things. The IPCC hasn't yet made a decision on whether to take up this offer.

5. More participation from developing countries
Again, this is a great move. Developing countries will be hit hardest by climate change. The IPCC is expanding the size of the bureau by two, to include more representatives from Africa and Asia. It's also "exploring the possibility" of holding more meetings in developing countries.

You can read more detail about this at the Carbon Brief.

You might also be interested in an article by Marianne Lavelle at The Daily Climate, which includes a discussion of how to better incorporate social and political sciences and economics into the IPCC reports. This I believe, relates in part to this memo from Carlo Carraro, Charles Kolstad, and Robert Stavins. You may recall Robert Stavins wrote a blog article in April last year, that got a bit of attention.

Spraying heat tolerance on plants

Sou | 4:03 PM Feel free to comment!

Food security in the future is a major concern - with populations rising and the yield of many crops likely to fall as climate change worsens. Plant scientists are looking for ways to make plants more tolerant of heat.

I spotted this today at By spraying plants with a chemical derived from plants themselves, croppers will be able to induce better heat tolerance in their crops. This is a good thing. What happens is the sprayed chemical acts like a switch, turning on the innate heat tolerance of crops.

Research group at the Kobe University Graduate School of Agricultural Science Functional Phytochemistry Laboratory has identified for the first time that the (E)-2-hexenal, a plant-derived chemical substance, can induce a plant's stress response to high temperatures. Members of the research group are: Assistant Professor YAMAUCHI Yasuo, Graduate Student Ms. KUNISHIMA Mikiko, Associate Professor MIZUTANI Masaharu, and Professor SUGIMOTO Yukihiro.
Plants essentially have a high-temperature resistance function. It is switched off during normal conditions. However, it is switched on during periods of high temperature. The study started out by hypothesizing that if the signal chemicals in plants that switchs the function on could be identified, then plants' stress response to high temperature could be artificially controlled.
It is known that some plants' high-temperature resistance function is also switched on when oxidative treatment is applied. The study group assumed that a chemical compound, generated through oxidation of fatty acids in plants by reactive oxygen, triggers the switch. Through their experiments, the group has identified that the (E)-2-hexenal is the compound that acts as a signal chemical.
Acquired thermotolerance in plants in a non-genetically modified way. It will be easier for this method to find acceptance in Japan where consumers are less accepting of genetically-modified crops.
Since the (E)-2-hexenal is a plant-derived chemical substance, its use as a spray over farm produce will face little resistance from consumers.
The effects of the (E)-2-hexenal were examined at cooperative farms and confirmed including the effects on rice, cucumbers, and tomatoes.
A patent for the work was issued in September, 2014.

(Excuse the copies and pastes, please. I'm pressed for time over the next day or so. )

Yasuo Yamauchi, Mikiko Kunishima, Masaharu Mizutani, Yukihiro Sugimoto. Reactive short-chain leaf volatiles act as powerful inducers of abiotic stress-related gene expression. Scientific Reports, 2015; 5: 8030 DOI: 10.1038/srep08030 (open access)

Cool Science: Light as a particle and a wave

Sou | 3:44 PM 2 Comments - leave a comment

Do you want to see light as both a particle and a wave? Didn't think you could?

Well, now you can, thanks to Fabrizio Carbone and his colleagues. Here it is:

Source: EPFL via

From EPFL:
A research team led by Fabrizio Carbone at EPFL has now carried out an experiment with a clever twist: using electrons to image light. The researchers have captured, for the first time ever, a single snapshot of light behaving simultaneously as both a wave and a stream of particles particle.
The experiment is set up like this: A pulse of laser light is fired at a tiny metallic nanowire. The laser adds energy to the charged particles in the nanowire, causing them to vibrate. Light travels along this tiny wire in two possible directions, like cars on a highway. When waves traveling in opposite directions meet each other they form a new wave that looks like it is standing in place. Here, this standing wave becomes the source of light for the experiment, radiating around the nanowire.
This is where the experiment’s trick comes in: The scientists shot a stream of electrons close to the nanowire, using them to image the standing wave of light. As the electrons interacted with the confined light on the nanowire, they either sped up or slowed down. Using the ultrafast microscope to image the position where this change in speed occurred, Carbone’s team could now visualize the standing wave, which acts as a fingerprint of the wave-nature of light.
While this phenomenon shows the wave-like nature of light, it simultaneously demonstrated its particle aspect as well. As the electrons pass close to the standing wave of light, they “hit” the light’s particles, the photons. As mentioned above, this affects their speed, making them move faster or slower. This change in speed appears as an exchange of energy “packets” (quanta) between electrons and photons. The very occurrence of these energy packets shows that the light on the nanowire behaves as a particle.
“This experiment demonstrates that, for the first time ever, we can film quantum mechanics – and its paradoxical nature – directly,” says Fabrizio Carbone. In addition, the importance of this pioneering work can extend beyond fundamental science and to future technologies. As Carbone explains: “Being able to image and control quantum phenomena at the nanometer scale like this opens up a new route towards quantum computing.” 

Read the full article at EPFL.


L Piazza, T.T.A. Lummen, E Quiñonez, Y Murooka, B.W. Reed, B Barwick  & F Carbone. Simultaneous observation of the quantization and the interference pattern of a plasmonic near-field. Nature Communications 6, Article number: 6407 doi:10.1038/ncomms7407

A pause on denier watching - till they crawl out of the gutter

Sou | 2:56 PM 4 Comments - leave a comment

There's been almost nothing worth writing about from deniersville the last few days. The deniers at WUWT are busy wallowing in the gutter. I've already written about some of it here and here and here, but enough is enough.

While WUWT are deciding whether to emulate James Delingpole. smutty gossip rags or paranoid conspiracy theory websites, I'll not be writing much about them. No decent person would be able to stomach most of the WUWT articles of the past few days, including me. (Roy Spencer's blog has gone in a similar direction.)

Maybe that's the intention. To rid WUWT of any readers with a sense of decency.

I can only conclude that deniers have given up trying to dispute science for the time being, except for silliness from Bob Tisdale - which is being recycled by Anthony, who is pretending to agree with Bob's wilful ignorance. (See the HotWhopper article here.)

Oh, and so you know, Willie Soon has issued a statement from the safety of the execrable Heartland Institute. So if you were in any doubt at all about his ideological or other motivation, he's made it perfectly clear. (See also Greg Laden's recent articles, and John Mashey's comment.)

Stick around, though. I'll be writing bits and pieces about new science when I get the chance.

Normal programming will resume when or if deniers ever decide to poke their heads up above the gutter.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Paranoia runs riot at CFACT and WUWT: conspiracy nuttery doesn't describe it

Sou | 6:19 PM 40 Comments - leave a comment

On WUWT today (archived here), Paul Driessen of CFACT, has gone overboard (putting it mildly). In a very strange article he has gone full on Godwin's Law (21st Century-style), comparing people who accept science to fundamentalist militant butchers from the middle east. Paul Driessen has featured here before (eg here). Today he wrote a piece that would make Christopher Monckton green with envy.

This is the headline and opening paragraph:
Climatic Jihad?
ISIL and other Islamist jihad movements continue to round up and silence all who oppose them or refuse to convert to their extreme religious tenets. They are inspiring thousands to join them. Their intolerance, vicious tactics and growing power seem to have inspired others, as well.

Weirdly, and in a display of religious ignorance, Anthony Watts accompanied an article based on the militant group ISIS, with a cartoon showing a character wearing a Christian bishops' mitre.

Applauding gratuitous violence as entertainment for the "justly righteous" at WUWT

Sou | 1:54 AM 19 Comments - leave a comment

I've just read at WUWT how David "funny sunny" Archibald is singing the praises of an ultra-violent film (archived here). And I thought that deniers at WUWT thought the 10:10 spoof (that went nowhere) was gross (it really was).

Apparently gratuitous and extreme violence, sick morals, sexism, unfunny jokes and a generally poor cinematic experience is viewed as wonderful entertainment, as long as it's disparaging anyone who cares for the environment.

If you want to know what I'm talking about, read the review from the Guardian or SBS - and then some of the user reviews here on IMDB.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Stormy Weather - and a recycled storm at WUWT

Sou | 10:22 PM 1 Comment so far

We've been getting quite a few fierce storms lately in my part of the world. The other day I drove through one of the worst wind/rain combos I've experienced in quite some time, although severe storms have been occurring more often here in the past few months.

Right now as I write this, there's a large and tumultuous storm over Melbourne. This is from the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) - archived here. It's heading west to east (left to right):

On Gateway Beliefs: And a tough question at WUWT that no-one could answer

Sou | 6:25 PM 4 Comments - leave a comment

A new paper by Sander L. van der Linden and colleagues has been published in the open access journal PLOS | One. It describes a 'gateway belief model' in the context of the scientific consensus on global warming.

This new paper is another one that finds that people will be more likely to accept the science of climate if they understand how much scientists agree on the subject. And in turn, they'll be more likely to support action to mitigate climate change once they understand the extent of agreement among scientists.

This article is another one that's a bit "too long". It's in two parts, so you can take your pick, if you're short of time. One part starts here at the top, or you can skip to the failure of denialists here :D

A short pause: Bob Tisdale thinks climate models are weather forecasts of the Northern Hemisphere

Sou | 3:53 AM 3 Comments - leave a comment

There's a new paper out in Science mag, which is another one looking at the so-called hiatus. This time it's from a different angle. The researchers, Byron A. Steinman, Michael E. Mann and Sonya K. Miller, were exploring climate models and observations in relation to natural variation. They studied surface temperature variations in the northern hemisphere over the past 150 years.

A temporary respite before more heat kicks in

The abstract sums up the research. The study suggests the supposed pause is merely a coincidence of two features of natural oceanic fluctuations - a peak in the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) and a strongly negative-trending Pacific Multidecadal Oscillation (PMO). That it is the combined effect of these (in other words, natural variability) that partly offset the ongoing greenhouse warming.

The paper suggests that it may not be long before we get a lot hotter.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Double standards at WUWT. When is a witch hunt a witch hunt?

Sou | 6:35 PM 20 Comments - leave a comment

Anthony Watts' blog WUWT is known for inconsistency, its collation of pseudo-science claptrap from around the climate deniosphere, attacks on climate scientists and double standards. I've not posted much from there the past few days because I've been busy. Also because many of the recent WUWT articles are bemoaning a witch hunt, or what passes for a witch hunt at WUWT.

Are climate contrarians witches?

So what is the WUWT definition of a witch hunt? Is it the endless requests for personal emails by right wing lobby groups that Anthony Watts frequently hails on his blog? Is it court cases to push for release of personal emails from climate scientists, like of Michael Mann here and here and here and lots more. Is it harassment of James Hansen to list all his payments from speaking engagements - like here?

AGU Fall Meeting 2014

Click here for instructions on how to view the 2014 AGU Fall Meeting sessions, how to navigate the program, plus more. (This notice will remain as a sticky for reference.)