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The sunburnt country is awash

Record-breaking rain means huge Australian arid-land lakes are visible from space.

Australia has one of the most unpredictable rainfall patterns in the world, and this is one of those unpredictable years. For the past few months, the repeated downfalls have left large pools of water lying in arid lands in Western Queensland. It’s great news for farmers. The water will, over the next year, flow south through the Darling River system, restoring parched watercourses, swamps, and dams. The Darling River system flows from Queensland through New South Wales and into South Australia.

Earlier this month, the Bureau of Meteorology announced that the rains were “exceptional”:

The most remarkable aspect of this event was the area covered by the heavy rainfall and the total volume of rainfall that fell. Daily totals exceeded 100 mm over 1.7% of Australia on 1 March and 1.9% on 2 March. The latter is the largest area of 100 mm-plus daily totals on a single day in the Australian meteorological record, breaking the previous record of 1.7% set on 22  December 1956. 28 February was the wettest day on record for the Northern Territory with an NT-wide average of 29.23 mm, while 2 March set a new record for Queensland with a Statewide average of 31.74 mm.

And after that record-breaking rain, the rain kept falling.

But, this year, the widespread repeated rainfall has filled up floodplains. Note the scale. The image is almost 1500 km (900 miles) wide. Photo taken March 14, 2010.

queensland floods 2010

Images thanks to the NASA Earth Observatory.

The rain has been so extraordinary, the 7:30 Report described how some of the worst drought-affected areas of Australia have finally got relief.

Such is the nature of the Australian climate that in parts of Eastern Australia that have been locked in drought for a decade, they’re now praying for the rain to stop.

Some areas of drought remain but there’s widespread jubilation at the change in fortunes.

Blitzing mean monthly rainfall figures

The rains began in late December after Cyclone Laurence crossed the West Australian coast, and the after-effects of heavy rain were felt days later as far away as NSW.

In February, monthly rainfalls hit 400% above the mean across thousands of square kilometers.

Map Graph: percentage rainfall Australia february 2010

In March, the deluge continued.

Map Graph: percentage rainfall Australia March 2010

The total amount of rain that has fallen so far in 2010 is quite respectable, thank you  (400mm = nearly 16 inches, 1200mm = 47 inches).

Map Graph: percentage rainfall Australia totals 2010


The six-month drought map. Which areas have had deficient levels of rain? Not many.
Map Graph: percentage rainfall Australia February 2010

The Australian climate being what it is, I don’t want to read overly much into one wet season. But, it’s been a long time since I saw so many news stories with such happy farmers, and after years of heartbreaking droughts, it’s not a moment too soon.

Late Notes

How silly can weather get? Apparently it rained so much that fish even fell from the sky in central Australia. Seriously.

It rained yesterday in Perth for the first time in122 days, and boy did it rain. One of the worst storms in 50 years has caused some damage in nearly everyone’s household that I’ve spoken too (strictly non-scientific sample that). Up to 150 sets of traffic lights are out. Hail stones like golf balls left dimples in hundreds of cars.

Cows caught in the floods image credit: ABC Feb 2010.

Thanks to Helen for correcting my spelling with Cyclone “Lawrence”.

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77 comments to The sunburnt country is awash

  • #
    janama

    Can anyone point me to where the high quality models of the BoM and CSIRO predicted this?

    10

  • #

    [...] A land of flooding rains – how BOM and the CSIRO got it all wrong – AGAIN! May we suggest natural climate cycles and PDO to them! [...]

    10

  • #
    Another Ian

    Re models

    From our area – WXMAPS got this pretty right within their forecast window of 14 days

    10

  • #
    janama

    BTW – The lake at Dirranbandi in the NASA picture is Cubbie Station.

    10

  • #
    Mark D.

    Here is another interesting map from NASA that if you scroll through the dates you’ll see the evidence of particularly cold areas July 2009 to present over the Northern Hemisphere. Have we not been told that Dec, Jan and Feb were amongst the warmest?

    Whats up? Maybe we are getting to “them”

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/GlobalMaps/view.php?d1=MOD_LSTAD_M#

    10

  • #
    Bulldust

    Ahhh but it’s rotten rain >.>

    10

  • #
    Henry chance

    Joe Romm said the droughts would be both great and permanent. Climate Progress was dishonest in their forcast.

    10

  • #
    Henry chance

    This is so sad. Now Australia will pollute CH4 methane from the rice paddies as does China.

    10

  • #

    I work in a firm that supplies the construction industry and September of 09 was a terrible month for us. Rain for 23 days in a row.
    The rains that arrived over Perth were the first substantial falls since then, and followed predictions of thunderstorms from the BOM over five or six weeks that came to nothing.
    January of 06 was the wettest January in 40-odd years. It felt more like July or August.
    Nobody can predict the weather decades ahead, when it’s obvious that the short-term predictions are so prone to be (ahem) altered by unforeseen circumstances. Anyone who says they can should be selling voodoo dolls and eye of newt as a sideline.

    10

  • #
    Binny

    Starting at the top left hand corner you have the Georgia, the Diamantina, and the Cooper, all draining into Lake Eyre, and then the Bulloo. The basin that the Bulloo drains into straddles the Queensland – New South Wales border, and if it ever filled up it would be bigger than Lake Eyre. Of course it never will because the Bulloo is just not big enough instead it flows into a couple of hundred thousand hectares of lignum swamps, That only occupy a small fraction of the basin.
    janama:@4
    Cubby Station is not big enough to be seen at that resolution. What you are looking at is the Balonne River floodplain. Currently the amount of water flowing past Cubby Station every day is equivalent to its entire storage capacity.

    10

  • #
    co2isnotevil

    There is a clear relationship between temperature and precipitation. The warmer it gets, the more water evaporates and the more rain falls. This is illustrated in the ice cores, where during colder periods, the years are spaced closer together and during warmer periods, each year is thicker. Alarmist claims of massive circulation pattern disruptions causing wide spread weather changes are highly speculative and have little if any support in the data. None the less, smaller natural circulation variability seems responsible for the kinds of periodic variability seen in Oz and elsewhere.

    George

    10

  • #
    Peter Wilson

    Henry chance

    It’s not that Joe Romm was dishonest in his forecast. He was dishonest in claiming he, or anyone, had the ability to make a forecast.

    10

  • #
    Bulldust

    co2isnotevil:
    And the increased precipitation would imply increased cloud cover (at low altitudes if it is raining more) which implies higher albedo and less solar irradiance absorbed by the system.

    I have been arguing the common sense argument that the earth’s climate system is basically buffered such that it naturally corrects, albeit over long time spans. I have no science to back this other than my “common sense” and general knowledge. The argument goes simply like this:

    Earth’s temperature and CO2 levels in the atmosphere have been both much higher and lower than today but the system never passed a tipping point. What on earth makes people think the system is different today?

    It really is that simple, and I have never seen a cogent argument to refute that. The anthropocentric thinking that dominates CAGW advocates is bordering on delusional. We simply do not have that much impact on the system.

    But doomsayers are always amongst us, whether they be religious nutters or scientific nutters. But the recurrent theme in many of the doomsday scenarios is the need for evil mankind to change his/her errant ways. Thou must atone for thine carbon sins. Luckily the carbon indulgences are cheap at the moment…

    10

  • #
    co2isnotevil

    Bulldust,

    Clouds have 2 offsetting effects. One is the decreased incident energy owing to increased reflection and the other is increased surface energy retention, owing to increased cloud cover. It turns out that these 2 effects are almost equal and opposite relative to the surface temperature as the cloud coverage varies.

    The regulating mechanism that sets the average cloud coverage is the cooling influence of evaporation. Higher surface temperatures increases evaporation, which increased clouds, but otherwise has little effect on the surface temperature. It’s the latent heat of evaporation leaving the surface that also increases with increased evaporation which cools the surface. In addition, increased rain, which is always cooler than the surface, further cools it. This is the predominate regulating feedback mechanism and is strongly negative.

    In effect, the hydro cycle acts as a planet wide air conditioning system which as the surface heats up, transports more energy into the atmosphere and ultimately away from the planet as longwave IR radiated by clouds, thus promoting cooling.

    It’s also true that the climate system has been hit by many insults (impacts, volcanoes, solar variability, etc.) and has always recovered so there is no evidence that tipping points exists. Even the previous interglacial period had multi century average temperatures about 3C warmer than today, yet the ice sheets survived as the recorded history goes back 10 times further.

    George

    10

  • #
    pat

    23 March: Business Week: Carbon Market Rift Over Hungary May Shrink Trading
    The United Nations carbon market, the world’s second largest, is at risk of shrinking until regulators close a loophole that allowed Hungary to sell credits that are invalid in Europe…
    “What we’ve got here is faulty drafting by the commission,” Henry Derwent, head of the group whose members include Morgan Stanley and Barclays Plc, said in an interview. Still, Hungary doesn’t rule out more recycling. Nor does Lithuania, said environmental adviser Laura Dzelzyte.
    The fallout from recycled CERs makes it harder to convince the U.S., Japan and Australia to move quickly to follow the EU’s lead on emissions trading, Derwent said..
    Carbon investors at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference in London last week said the market may have suffered damage. Investors are now “questioning the authenticity” of what they are buying, said Paul Kelly, chief executive officer of JPMorgan’s EcoSecurities unit. Secondary trading of CERs may come to a “grinding halt” as traders question their validity, said Abyd Karmali, managing director and head of carbon emissions at BofA Merrill Lynch.
    The emergence of recycled CERs is the third incident in less than a year to raise red flags in carbon markets.
    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-03-23/carbon-market-rift-over-hungary-may-shrink-trading-update1-.html

    but the Greens ain’t listening:

    23 March: Sydney Morning Herald: Govt must finalise energy report: Greens
    Energy Minister Martin Ferguson says uncertainty over a carbon price makes finalising the white paper a difficult task.
    But Greens deputy leader Christine Milne says that is nonsense.
    She again argued for an interim carbon levy policy, which would levy a carbon tax of $23 a tonne on greenhouse gas emissions, starting in July 2010…
    http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/govt-must-finalise-energy-report-greens-20100323-qskc.html

    10

  • #
    Speedy

    George / Bulldust

    The paleoclimate is the closest we can get to a controlled experiment on this earth’s climate – its a whole lot better than computer models anyway. And, like you said, there is plenty of evidence that the famous “tipping point” doesn’t occur. Our existence, and the existence of life on earth for starters would suggest that despite the variability of the climate over thousands of millions of years.

    CO2 hasn’t been relevant – observe the high CO2′s (4000 ppm0 during the ice ages about 400 million years ago. Some influence due to reduced solar illuminence about then, but I think the same buffering influences would apply then as well.

    Cheers,

    Speedy.

    10

  • #
    Mark D.

    If you don’t mind my observation that the Earth’s “buffer system” is what makes up the vast surface (water). This same substance also would cushion impacts from lots of astral shrapnel. This observation is self evident because we (a body made up of mostly water) would not be here were it not true.

    10

  • #
    Baa Humbug

    CO2isnotevil and Bulldust

    More warmth does increase evaporation, but more SUNSHINE increases evaporation 4x more.
    Natalie Lockart et al GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 36, L24405, doi:10.1029/2009GL040598, 2009 showed that the Murray darling Basin averaged an extra 1.5hrs of sunshine (SSH)[1952-2008]

    The empirical correlations between temperature and
    rainfall identified by Nicholls [2003, 2004] and Karoly
    and Braganza [2005] are valid and statistically significant.
    However, to accept the correlation as the sole basis for the
    attribution of cause to human emissions is to implicitly
    assume that the correlation represents an entirely correct
    model of the sole driver of maximum air temperature. This
    is clearly not the case.

    And..

    On average, an extra 1.5 hours of
    bright sunshine, instead of the alternative cloudy conditions,
    provides approximately 0.32mm of additional evapotranspiration.
    In contrast, an increase in air temperature of 2DegC
    causes only an additional 0.076 mm of evapotranspiration
    over the entire day.

    10

  • #
    J.Hansford

    But, but….. Tim Flannery said it would never rain again! ;-)

    10

  • #
    DaveB

    Despite a very low SOI and elnino conditions across the Pacific Queensland had record rains. I love the unpredictability of climate, just when you think you have a nice model, mother nature sneezes and it all falls to the floor.

    10

  • #
    Louis Hissink

    Speedy #16

    Spot on – and from paleoclimate data the AGW hypothesis is not supported by the data.

    (I’m back in civilisation – drilling has been cancelled due to soft ground – so soft the vehicles start to sink. As we are in a drought in Australia, the ground softening must therefore be due to excessive temperature causing the soil to lose its internal structure. Bit like ice turning to water due to elevated temperature and expecting a snow sled to continue staying at the top of the body of H2O. This has to be right, no? I mean this is the logic warmenists use for AGW, so it must be right).

    10

  • #
    Speedy

    Welcome back, Louis.

    10

  • #
    Mark D.

    No No Louis That would be an ice boat……

    Yes I know, sorry

    10

  • #
    Bulldust

    Speedy:
    Oh I know Speedy… sometimes I come off a tad more “blonde” than I am… a lot of the time it is intentional :) I think the problem with a lot of the climate scientists is that they often lose the wood for the trees. Too much research in very narrow fields can do that… dendrochronology for instance :)

    I tend to fall back to my engineer roots… big picture, near-as-damnit approximations etc. Often the back of the envelope and common sense cuts through a lot of detailed balderdash. Then you throw in a safety factor of 10, of course, and over engineer the whole project. But I digress >.>

    What’s the betting we hear very little about the ETS before the election? I think the recent Euro experience has taken care of that one for us.

    10

  • #
    Speedy

    Bulldust

    I’m with you there! Mark Twain once noted that it was better to be approximately correct than precisely wrong, and this is the sort of thinking we get sucked into once we use computer printouts to 15 decimal places. We forget that Garbage in = Garbage out. The back of a beer coaster (or envelope, if you’re not in the pub at the time) is a very sound way of screening out the sheep from the goats. If a proposition needs the precision of a computer to determine whether it is good or not, then you’re probably got a dud on your hands anyway.

    Cheers,

    Speedy

    10

  • #
    John of Cloverdale WA

    To Bulldust:
    March 24th, 2010 at 8:49 am
    “Ahhh but it’s rotten rain >.>”
    And warmer rain now, than it used to be.

    00

  • #
    Baa Humbug

    Bulldust: #24
    March 24th, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    I think the problem with a lot of the climate scientists is that they often lose the wood for the trees.

    Funny you should mention that. I was just reading up on climate sensitivity, you know, the “science” that has everybody in a spin.
    Here is one example of real life observational way to determine climate sensitivity.
    TEMPERATURES AND ENERGY FORCINGS AT VARIOUS LATITUDES

    LOCATION: ….Singapore Moreton Is Macquarie Is Mawson

    LATITUDE:…………..01N……….27S………..55S………..68S

    NET SOLAR ENERGY*:..305……….280………..163………..88

    G/HOUSE ENERGY*:…..210……….172………..130………..80

    TOTAL ENERGY:………515……….452………..293……….168

    MEAN TEMP C:………….28………..21……………5……..-11.5

    (* Based on data from Ramanathan & Collins, “Nature” May 1991, vol.351 and on calculations of average solar radiation, less 30% albedo, at various latitudes; and on station data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology).

    Average absorbed solar and greenhouse radiation over the equator is 515 wm-2, resulting in a measured mean equatorial temperature of around 28 deg. However, At low-latitudes, such as MACQUARIE Isl, at latitude 55S, the total forcing reduces to 293 wm-2 , giving a temperature of 5 deg.

    28-5 = 23DegC 515-293 = 222Wm2 So 23/222 = 0.10DegC per Wm2 sensitivity.

    Try it between any other gradients, you get similar 0.1 sensitivity.

    There are another 5 ways to calculate climate sensitivity, all giving the similar figure of 0.1degC per Wm2

    If this interests you, the link is HERE AT JOHN DALYS

    10

  • #
    Speedy

    Bulldust

    The ETS – you mean “The greatest moral challenge of our time”? Surely our Kevin isn’t going to duck that issue (sarc.)

    For the benefit of anybody living outside of Perth, I can assure you that the little downpour on Monday was anything but warm, despite what John of Cloverdale tells you…

    Cheers,

    Speedy

    10

  • #

    Just read the “Fish falling from the Sky” link in the late notes above.

    Well that’s great but I don’t need fish.
    Any reports of mermaids falling from the sky?

    10

  • #
    Bulldust

    I muse about the impacts of an ETS with offsets some days (like today, for instance). How interesting it would be to caluculate the true CO2 balance of growing additional trees on Darling Range near Perth for example.

    More trees = less water run off
    Less water run off = more desal water required to meet Perth’s ever growing water demand

    So plant a tree for CO2 offsets and you need more desal water to keep up supply. I wonder what the net CO2 impact is…

    We haven’t even addressed the impact of random bush fires or prescribed burns running through your off-set plantation.

    And yes Speedy… you point out an obvious oversight of mine… of course these discussions should take place in the local.

    10

  • #
    Bulldust

    Pictures of the recent downpour & aftermath in Perth:

    http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/galleries/a/-/article/6966607/image/1/wild-storm-hits-city/

    There were chunks of ice in that rain!

    10

  • #
    Louis Hissink

    Probably OT but following on from the severe storm Perth experienced Monday night, I noticed the West Australian published a short explanation of how hail forms.

    It’s an interesting explanation insofar that the explanation is limited to gravity and gas dynamics, the basic idea that updrafts keep the continually forming hail-stones suspended until they reach a critical mass, and then fall to earth.

    On the way to the office this morning listening to Peter Waltham’s radio show on Curtin FM, he had a short quiz on what was the heaviest hail stone ever recorded; about 1 kilo, or 2 pounds.

    From the Plasma Model hail stone formation could be additionally explained as atmospheric Z-Pinch effects in which short term intense electrical currents passing through suspended water drops causing rapid crystalisation of the water into the familiar hailstones. The size of the stones would depend on the duration of the electric current.

    If these stones are produced by plasma Z-Pinches, then hail stones should have the following characteristics:

    1. An ovoidal shape and,
    2. An equatorial ridge at right angles to one of the axes.

    01

  • #
    Louis Hissink

    Just realised I was a bit technical, so if hailstones are lumps of ice formed from Z-Pinches, then they should have the shape of pistachio nuts – in 3D – ellipses with a pronounced ridges along the circumference of the major axis of the ellipse.

    10

  • #

    To put the downpour of frozen debris from the sky into perspective, March is Perths third hottest month of the year, and the last time we had snow here was probably 10,000 years ago. It was rather exciting. Later I woke my young son and we sat outside at 2am to watch the best displays of lightening I’d ever seen. I’m such a sucker for natural curiosity.

    10

  • #
    MattB

    or maybe only in 1956.

    10

  • #
    Rob Potter

    This is just the latest example of a completely worthless statistical concept – using the arithmetic mean as a measure of “normal” weather.

    I worked in Oz (Perth) for many years and I couldn’t believe people still used an arithmetic mean to determine “expected” rainfall! When you have a drought for four years, then 2500 mm of rain in the fifth year (sort of common for Queensland if not other places), the average of 500mm a year is correct – and totally useless to anyone who wants to plan crop plantings! It is massively misleading to refer to 500mm as “normal”.

    It is about time people stopped referring to mean values as “normal”.

    10

  • #
    Rob Potter

    By the way, sad to see the damage to Winthrop Hall from the hail and the sand and mud in the UWA libraries. I heard from a colleague that Murdoch University had recently installed polycarbonate in their glasshouses and I am sure there was a lot of complaint at the tine – not so much now as they didn’t suffer much.

    Used to get some great lightning shows but no rain in the summer while I was there – usually coinciding with power cuts as wind brought trees down on power lines.

    10

  • #
    Mark D.

    Louis Hissink, a favorite hobby and study of mine is lightning (actually lightning damage via rapid rise-time pulses of high energy). Your comment above set me on a little internet search and I found some very interesting material (which I suspect you know about). Positive lightning bolts or “megalightning? Do you have any links to good information on that?

    Second, I am curious about “ball lightning”. My grandfather told a story about a “fireball” that entered his house through an open door (after a nearby intense lightning strike) rolled through two rooms and out of the house by “jumping” up and out through an open window. It left behind a light trail of scorch on the floor but otherwise did no damage. There were people in these rooms (a hot summer day thunderstorm) so more than one witnessed this event. Do you have any insight about this?

    Thanks

    PS hoping this is not OT since we are on the subject of rain and storms.

    10

  • #
    Mark D.

    Louis a quick added bit: the Ball lightning would have been in the 1920-1930 period. According to grandpa at the time other people were familiar with the phenomenon but these days it seems extremely rare.

    A bit of a curiosity since that time period also had some unusual weather (dust bowl, drought etc.) here in the US.

    01

  • #
    co2isnotevil

    Speaking of lightning … (OT, but interesting)

    The usual explanation is that collisions in clouds knocks off electrons from water molecules which builds up via charge separation and is ultimately discharged to the ground (and conversely up into the ionosphere) when the potential exceeds the breakdown voltage of the air. This seems to explain the charge component, but not the energy component of the potential.

    The potential between a cloud and the surface can exceed 1E9 Volts. Since volts are measured as joules per coulomb, we can calculate the amount of energy required per unit charge (1.6E-19 Coul) to achieve 1E9 V and it’s 1.6 E-10 joules per electron (i.e. 1 GeV). The ionization potential of a water molecule is only about 75 eV, while the energy inherent in the charge to create lightning exceeds 1 GeV. Where does the extra billion or so times as much energy come from?

    If we consider this energy to be kinetic, the velocity of the charged water molecule can be calculated. The mass of an ionized water molecule is about 3E-26 kg, so using the equation E=1/2 mv^2, the velocity for a 1 GeV water molecule is 1E8 m/sec, which is a substantial fraction of the speed of light, so unless water molecules in a cloud are relativistic, the energy can’t be kinetic.

    Capacitors have the property that as they charge, the plates want to be pulled together and as they discharge, the plates want to be pushed apart. In a charged capacitor, there is an attractive force between the plates which is exactly offset by a repulsive force pushing the plates apart owing to the energy stored in the space between the plates. Ordinarily, the plates of a capacitor are mechanically bound to a specific geometry and do not move as they are charged and discharged, but this is not the case for capacitance manifested between clouds and the surface.

    Charging a capacitor pulls the plates together and conversely, applying a force to push the plates together charges the capacitance. If we consider a cloud to be the top plate of a capacitance between the cloud and the Earth, the mass of water in the cloud provides the force on the top plate to charge the capacitance and drive the potential up to the required value. The equations to use are E=1/2CV^2, where the energy stored in the capacitor is also given by Fd, where F is the force pushing down on the capacitor and d is the space between the plates. F is calculated as F=mg, where m is the mass of water in the cloud and g is the acceleration due to gravity. Another relevant equation is F=Q^2/2e0A, where Q is the total charge on the capacitor, A is the area of it’s plates, e0 is the permittivity of free space and F is the force on the plates.

    George

    10

  • #
    Globetrotter

    Good news for the farmers?
    If you look at: http://www.mdba.gov.au/water/waterinstorage?run-date=2010-03-17 there is allmost no increase in water storage in the Murray-Darling Basin. Where has all the water gone? Evaporated?
    Very Strange!

    10

  • #
    co2isnotevil

    Re: Ball lightning

    This is thought to be a self organized plasma. Plasma currents produce B-fields, which can recursively contain the plasma. Similar kinds of self organized plasmas are being investigated for use in fusion reactors. Ball lightning is also something that can result from a Z-pinch.

    George

    01

  • #
    Joe Veragio

    It’s a well known fact, that heavy rainfall usually accompanies visiting British Royalty, particularly HM Queen Elizabeth herself. I don’t know if Lord Monckton has quite the necessary rainmaking credentials, but didn’t HRH Prince William pay a visit recently ?

    10

  • #
    pat

    O/T but want to say the “brown butterfly” story got another airing on ABC Radio Nat this week, on tony delroy’s ‘nightlife’ prog – science with tim thwaites – segment.
    thwaites claimed monash’s kearney and briscoe discovered a ‘causal’ relationship between their early emergence and ‘global warming’, when it was david karoly who made the ‘connection’. there was an awkward silence at the end of this particular topic, which was unusual, as delroy inevitably ends each topic thwaites brings up with a quip of some sort.

    10

  • #
    Baa Humbug

    co2isnotevil: #40
    March 25th, 2010 at 2:56 am

    Speaking of lightning … (OT, but interesting)

    I have a vivid memory of asking my dad about lightning. (1960,s) he said it was static electricity.
    I was familiar with static electricity, I used to rub my plastic comb vigourously on my woolen jumper, then either discharge a spark or pick up small bits of paper with it.

    10

  • #
    co2isnotevil

    Baa,

    Yes, but being static electricity doesn’t change anything. It still must obey Maxwell’s equations, so the effects of capacitance still apply and the same units of volts (1 joule per coulomb) are relevant.

    While Q=CV and a typical thundercloud only requires about 1 Coul of charge (1GV and 1000pf), the energy stored in the cloud to Earth capacitor is still 500 MJ (1/2 CV^2). This energy must have come from somewhere.

    George

    10

  • #
    Baa Humbug

    Hi George

    I wasn’t contradicting your post, just relaying a fond memory you triggered.
    Being static electricity, wouldn’t the energy come from friction? There sure must be lots of friction up there. ooops just reread your post #40

    The usual explanation is that collisions in clouds knocks off electrons from water molecules which builds up via charge separation and is ultimately discharged to the ground (and conversely up into the ionosphere) when the potential exceeds the breakdown voltage of the air. This seems to explain the charge component, but not the energy component of the potential.

    10

  • #

    A few interesting old news articles of a multitude from the National Libraries historical newspaper collection. These caught my eye:
    http://newspapers.nla.gov.au

    The storm in the west (March 1909)
    “7 inches of rain in half an hour”
    http://newspapers.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/5179441

    Violent storm in West (April 1926)
    “hail stones pierced motorcar hoods”
    http://newspapers.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/3743126

    Cyclonic Storm (April 1935)
    “Hail as big as hens eggs”
    http://newspapers.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/17163647

    Wild weather (June 1936)
    “Swan river rose more than 3 and a half feet”
    http://newspapers.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/17239623

    10

  • #
    pat

    23 March: Reuters: FACTBOX-Policy differences ahead of Australian election
    Government: Carbon price capped at A$10-a-tonne for first year
    http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/SGE62K02W.htm

    AlohaAnalyticsBlog: Details of Climate Bill in U.S. Senate Trickle Out
    A “hard collar” is put on the price of the allowances to prevent them from dropping below $10 per ton…
    http://alohaanalytics.blogspot.com/2010/03/details-of-climate-bill-trickle-out.html

    read all the details of the US Bill, cos no doubt rudd/wong will be following the same course.

    24 March: Wall St. Journal: Europe’s Cap-and-Trade Lesson
    Market-based environmentalism, or a boondoggle?
    Having at last fixed America’s health-care system once and for all—or maybe not—Congressional Democrats are promising to apply themselves to the task of imposing legislative curbs on carbon. So it’s a good time to see how a prototype cap-and-trade scheme, the European Union’s Emission Trading System, is faring. So far, not so good…
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704896104575139673240771564.html?mod=WSJ_latestheadlines

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    Louis Hissink

    The usual explanation is that collisions in clouds knocks off electrons from water molecules which builds up via charge separation and is ultimately discharged to the ground (and conversely up into the ionosphere) when the potential exceeds the breakdown voltage of the air.

    The usual explanation is plainly wrong – this hasn’t been observed in laboratory experiments for a start, and is actually an example of verbal virtuosity combined with the logical fallacy of arguing the consequent. A similar nonsense explanation is offered for the lightning frequently observed with some volcanic eruptions, and here it is the volcanic dust etc which are losing the electrons from particle collisions. If that were so you would not use a Dyson vacuum cleaner for fear of self electrocution.

    It’s the electrical phenomena producing the clouds and hence the rain. The Russians have been doing it successfully in Mexico – making it rain that is http://www.holoscience.com/news.php?article=9eq6g3aj. Except US scientists don’t believe it, which is hardly surprising.

    Another useful treatment on clouds http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2007/arch07/071217electricclouds.htm

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    Speedy

    Apologies for being O/T but this one does raise some interesting questions about the relationship between politics and science and the public. It’s not supposed to be religious and I honestly would not like to see this happen to anyone, even Michael Mann…

    A Final Inquiry
    (If the ABC Was Relevant, Part 17)

    Kerry: Michael Mann dies and arrives at the gates of Hell, where he is greeted by the Devil. Bryan Dawe and John Clarke take up the story:

    Bryan: Professor Mann, welcome to Hell.

    John: All the same to you, I’d rather go home…

    Bryan: Professor, you are at home. Welcome.

    John: There’s been a mistake. I shouldn’t be here!

    Bryan: [Consults file.] Oh yes, you should.

    John: Oh no, I shouldn’t. I follow a Relativist philosophy.

    Bryan: Which means you reject absolute values such as good or evil, right or wrong, truth or falsehood, etcetera, unless viewed in their subjective social and political context?

    John: That’s right, and I refuse to go to a Hell that I don’t believe in.

    Bryan: Perhaps, but that also means you can’t be permitted to enter into Heaven either. What are we to do with you?

    John: I don’t suppose there’s a Relative Heaven by any chance?

    Bryan: For you, Professor, yes. A Relative Heaven – just for you.

    John: What’s it like? [Suspiciously] What’s the climate? It’s not hot is it?

    Bryan: I can safely tell you that it is “Very Likely” that relative Heaven is nothing like absolute Hell. “Very Likely”, as you know, means that there is a 90% or better chance that this statement is correct.

    John: Not good enough. All you’ve done is assign an arbitrary number to a subjective opinion to give it the semblance of objective validity. I want some hard data.

    Bryan: How about some peer-reviewed literature? There’s an overwhelming consensus that confirms my theory.

    John: A consensus means nothing if it is only the repetition of a falsehood. And I’ll bet the peer reviews are all done by your cronies. I want to see some raw data.

    Bryan: Very good, Professor. The temperature in Relative Heaven is 23 degrees Celsius. (That is a global and seasonal average, after an intensive verification and homogenisation process of selected measurement sites.)

    John: No way – give me the raw data – not the stuff you’ve cooked up!

    Bryan: Perhaps you’d like to consider our very elaborate climate models. The projections for Relative Heavenly climate indicate stable, pleasant conditions with a very low probability of brimstone for the rest of eternity.

    John: Not good enough – those models are just a mathematical extension of the biases and assumptions of the model’s author – why don’t you just give me some raw data?

    Bryan: Because, unfortunately, we lost the raw data, Professor. A nasty accident involving a shredding machine.

    John: This is unacceptable!

    Bryan: True, but, it doesn’t matter. Because it seems to me that you aren’t really a Relativist. Your so-called “Relativism” is nothing more than a euphemism describing your underlying intellectual and moral dishonesty. Please take the door on the left. Dr. Goebbels will show you around.

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    co2isnotevil

    Louis,

    Another usual explanation is that clouds are suspended in the atmosphere because water vapor is lighter than air. While this is true for water vapor, clouds are condensed water vapor, i.e. liquid and solid water. The instant 2 water vapor molecules becomes a liquid, they are no longer lighter than air. I suspect that in general, electrical forces acting on the cloud to Earth capacitance play a major role in cloud suspension and is what drives cloud bottoms flat as they get bigger. I think I’ve also worked out why the polarity of large clouds is opposite to small clouds, which are otherwise influenced only by the fair weather electric field (the potential between the ionosphere and the Earth’s surface). I’ve seen very little in the literature which talks about the electrical properties of clouds, except as it relates to thunderstorms.

    BTW, I’ve also done small scale experiments that verifies capacitors can be charged by forces acting on their plates.

    George

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    Tel where are you? This article will interest you. You’re knowledge of statistics will be handy. Maybe you can translate to the rest of us in laymans terms please.

    Econometrics vs Climate Science

    Polynomial Cointegration

    Two statisticians have stirred up a hornet’s nest on the internet with the release of a draft of an unpublished paper claiming to refute the theory of anthropogenic global warming. In it, Michael Beenstock and Yaniv Reingewertz, both from the Department of Economics at Hebrew University, Israel, have applied econometric statistical methods designed for non-stationary time series to test AGW. Their claim is based on the assertion that, if atmospheric CO2 levels drive temperature change, time series data for CO2 and temperature will exhibit statistical correlation linking the two. No correlation, no link between carbon dioxide and climate change.

    Read the rest here

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    Speedy

    Baa Humbug

    I see you got a mention today on Andrew Bolt. Good article.

    George/Louis

    Clouds are just collections of fine water droplets – same as mist. They hang around up there because that is the region where the atmosphere is both cold and relatively moist (which is what drives the condensation of water vapour into micro-droplets of water) and because of Stokes Law – the one that says little particles have a lower terminal velocity than large particles. (In contrast to Galileo’s Pisa experiment – Stokes considers the micron sized particles.) So the micro droplets hang around until either the conditions dry out and the clouds evaporate or until they reach a critical state where the droplets coalesce into rain with a critical mass large enough to reach the earth’s surface. (Of course the rain droplets would be warming and evaporating as they fell through the intervening warm and dry air underneath the clouds.)

    I can’t see how clouds could be regarded as solid objects that generate static upon collision between themselves. The capacitance theory looks OK – will have to look it up tonight. Back to work…

    Cheers,

    Speedy

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    Raymond

    THIS ARTICLE JUST DEMONSTATES WHO ARE REALLY IN CHARGE OF THE ABC, YET ALL AUSTRALIAN TAXPAYERS ARE FORCED TO FUND THIS SUBVERSIVE ORGANIZATION!

    http://www.greenleft.org.au/2010/831/42750

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    Speedy

    Raymond

    Now you know what propangda looks like.

    Cheers,

    Speedy.

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    Louis Hissink

    George/Speedy

    Have a study of Thornhill’s comments on holoscience on this topic. Ther water molecule is one strange one.

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    Speedy

    Louis

    Yep. Consider the molecules H2O and NH3. Both the same molecular weight (18) but (from memory) pure ammonia is a gas at the freezing point of water! All due to that beautiful polarity of the water molecule and the resulting weak bonding between molecules in the liquid state.

    The lattice imperfections of the solid water state that mean it is less dense than liquid water. If it weren’t for that, ice would just sink to the bottom of the lakes and rivers, and complex life forms (e.g. fish) in these waters would be extinguished.

    And most people just see a glass of water…

    Cheers,

    Speedy.

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    Louis Hissink

    Speedy

    The most important fact to take onboard is that the proposed “molecular” interactions, collisions bumping off electrons, is not experimentally possible to observe: it is, therefore, not science sensu strictu.

    That leads me to form the preliminary conclusion that climate science, as popularly understood, has as much scientific relevance as chicken entrail examination.

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    Rod Smith

    @Mark D.

    I don’t know much about ball lightening, but I can report that I’ve seen the momentarily paralyzing sight of a 2ft (or larger) in diameter luminous “ball” float about the interior of bombers after a lightening strike for what seemed like a long time, but was probably on the order of 2-4 seconds. After the unexpected deafening crash of sound and a bright flash of light, seeing this actually harmless display will make your knees limber for a short time.

    I don’t remember seeing any CB’s nearby, and nothing much was ever damaged on the planes except a small hole in the skin, not even most of the electrical gear (and we had a lot of it!), although a fuse or circuit breaker was certainly blown here and there.

    How’s that for a “highly scientific” reply?

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    Mark D.

    That is interesting Rod, (Observation is highly scientific) I can imagine seeing and hearing that while confined in a bomber would cause the colon to tense up! (that is just short of an involuntary rectal discharge).

    Can I ask how the ball of light went away?
    Did you feel heat from it?

    The size ball you describe is similar to what grandpa described too.

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    co2isnotevil

    Mark,

    I suspect that it would just disappear into thin air, after all, it’s just a plasma of ionized air. If it came into contact with any conducting material or even a gust of wind, it would dissipate. Self organized plasmas tend to be fragile and anything that interferes with it’s EM configuration will collapse the field. There are also quite a few MJ of energy stored in a 1-2 foot diameter plasma, so that energy will be transformed into something, most likely heat.

    George

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    Mark D.

    George, is that MJ or mJ?

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    co2isnotevil

    Mark,

    MegaJoule.

    George

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    Mark D.

    That is plenty of energy, more than enough to spoil your day. I admit I need to learn more about plasma; That almost certainly would be either extremely bright or hot or both would it not?

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    Brian G Valentine

    Hizzhonor K Rudd is to be thanked for this: he made it rain, just as he said he would, because he supported ETS.

    Congratulations Mister Secretary Rudd! A thrilling victory indeed!

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    co2isnotevil

    Mark,

    Yes, it’s a lot of energy, but it could be less. A bolt of lightning is a lot more and closer to a GigaJoule. I’m not sure what the lower limit is on the energy required to contain a self organized plasma, but it probably could be calculated. There are low energy plasma’s used in semiconductor manufacturing for plasma etching and cold plasma’s are used for medical sterilization, so it’s possible that the plasma itself is not so energetic. It would seem that a ball plasma containing more energy would be more stable than one containing less. It could be that it’s decay mode is to leak energy into the environment as heat and light until the contained energy is low enough that any movement against the atmosphere would be enough of a disturbance to break it up. Ball lightning seems to originate from ordinary lightning, which is a hot plasma and why I suspect ball lightning to be the same, although energy leaking into the environment could cool it over time.

    In any even event, if I saw one of these floating around, I wouldn’t want to stick my hand in it and would definitely not piss at it.

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    Mark D.

    In any even event, if I saw one of these floating around, I wouldn’t want to stick my hand in it and would definitely not piss at it.

    LMAO! VERY good advice (onomatopoeia a word that makes a sound) Is there a word to describe a visual image that makes a scream?

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    Bob Malloy

    On the lighter side and if you need a smile, check out this article on The Spoof. It reads in part.

    Top Australian climate scientist Ian Lowe said “This is just bad research and media hype. We real scientists just get on with the science, and don’t try to influence public opinion. If these so-called “researchers” had searched for “The science is settled”, they’d have got a totally different result, as I posted on my blog, Twitter and RealClimate.org”. Mr. Lowe has just been appointed scientific adviser to the Darwin Regional Office for Non-Governmental Organisations (DRONGO).

    http://www.thespoof.com/news/spoof.cfm?headline=s5i71502#this

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    Tel

    Humbug,

    that’s an interesting concept the idea of using the random walks to model weather (and climate) measurements. I think we all agree that temperature on Earth is solidly bounded (I mean, it can’t get lower than zero and it can’t get hotter than the sun) so the unbounded nature of a random walk cannot fully apply to temperatures on Earth.

    However, over a finite period there may be some merit to the random walk idea. Note that if you do a statistical analysis where it searches for “best fit” against a bunch of coefficients and you give it a coefficient with no time shift and also an extra coefficient with a time shift then this “best fit” can correlate to a first derivative as well. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen climate scientists (and economists) tinkering around with such time-delay fitting.

    I can appreciate that if CO2 is a double-integral of a random value and Temp is a first integral of a random value then they are intrinsically different so trying to find a climate sensitivity is useless in this situation. I didn’t get a good grip on how exactly he proves this to be the case (but then I only read through it once). Have been a bit busy this week unfortunately.

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    Thanks Tel. But you know mate my understanding of statistics and it’s lingo is near enough to -273K. I was hoping you could interpret it for me :)
    No obligation, no hurry, only if you have the time and the inclanation.

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    Tel

    Humbug,

    did you read the one about the drunk and her dog? The drunk walks at random and the dog also walks at random but every so often the drunk takes a step towards the dog and the dog also takes a step towards the drunk.

    That’s probably a good place to start. The position of both the drunk and the dog are non-stationary (i.e. they could stagger to anywhere) but the distance between the drunk and the dog is a stationary variable (i.e. you can calculate a statistical profile, etc). If you follow that one then at least the basic argument should make sense.

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    Yeah i did mate, and it was a good analogy. I’ll read the whole thing again. I wish I had of kept my high school books lol

    thnx for your replies

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    Ben Hern

    Hi Jo,

    Sorry if this is a re-hash, i’ve neglected to read all previous comments…

    Although this observation isn’t backed up by any multi-squillion dollar models or lavishly funded government study, it’s worth observing that in the case of the Murray-Darling system, major flooding occurs generally in odd numbered decades and drought in even numbered decades, events on the cusps (such as this deluge) notwithstanding.
    No need to draw long bows and blame carbon dioxide for the droughts of the last ten years in the Murray-Darling basin, droughts which contrary to popular contemporary imagination are not unprecedented (after all, the dams, locks and barrages all owe their existence to a not recent desire to manage the highly variable flows of the system to better suit perennial navigation and irrigation).

    I’ve been pointing this out to friendly wine growers (struggling like any other farmer with water shortage) in regions neighbouring Adelaide for some years.
    Now would be a good time to install rain water tanks ahead of a wet decade.

    The downstream health (recovery or otherwise) of the Murray-Darling system is now largely in the hands of those employed to manage out-flows for irrigation and reticulation and remains as always completely out of reach of any bureaucrats manning imaginary portfolios to ‘manage’ emission of harmless carbon based gas.

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    Joe Spencer

    Joe Veragio:
    March 25th, 2010 at 6:36 am

    It’s a well known fact, that heavy rainfall usually accompanies visiting British Royalty, particularly HM Queen Elizabeth herself. I don’t know if Lord Monckton has quite the necessary rainmaking credentials, but didn’t HRH Prince William pay a visit recently ?

    That’s supposed to just apply to the reigning Monarch, so William shouldn’t cause it.

    Clearly this pattern of rainfal must be unprecedented.

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    John P.A.Knowles

    Now that the water is in the ground we will probably see more regular rains in these regions with greatly increased productivity. It’s common sense that eventually the warmed oceans would evapourate and fall on the land, and the dried out, over extracted river systems would once again flourish. What will the govt do with the $3.1billion allocated to buying back water entitlements over the next decade? I hope they do not give it to the CSIRO to concoct more drivel.

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    Dear Joanne,

    I am in development of a LIVE music event to raise funds for Aussies hit hard by environmental crisis.
    My designer and I have been trawling websites for pics and came across yours.
    Your work is of great interest to me.
    Is the shot on the homnepage of the cows stranded yours? If so, how would you feel about allowing us to utilise it for our website?
    Get in touch and let me know what you think.
    Regards,

    Lyndel

    P.S. Happy to add a link from our site to yours if you would be interested.

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