JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Weekend Unthreaded

Australian Outback  | Photo by Geoff Sherrington  | (Click to enlarge)


Photo by Geoff Sherrington

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Weekend Unthreaded, 9.1 out of 10 based on 16 ratings

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79 comments to Weekend Unthreaded

  • #
    Keith L

    Having just read the response from UWA on Climate Audit to Steve M’s request for info on the Lew paper fiasco I decided to send the chief Primadonna, Paul Johnson a letter telling him that, basically, he has been rumbled and as a tax payer I was fed up.
    I felt that is carried more weight as a paper letter rather than an email. I am not sure why but I suppose the fact that I have forked out $1.20 for postage alone must carry some weight.
    Surely they must realise that someone who spends $1.20 and is happy for a weeks delay in delivery instead of sending an instant email for free must be a seriously fanatical individual. If he thinks that Steve M is ‘unbalanced’ what will he think of me?!

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    • #
      Geoff Sherrington

      Tony,
      Please excuse the o/t, but I’m in a bind just now.
      The Conversation blog http://theconversation.com/another-summer-on-the-nem-24451 claims that for NEM the former afternoon surge in demand has been offset by recent solar p.v. fed to the system pm.
      I cannot see real figures so I suspect they are nameplate. It might be nice if it was happening, but is it ?

      00

      • #

        That attractively huge total for Nameplate for rooftop solar PV (a little more than 3,000MW) will always make rooftop power look good.

        Now, while the yearly CF is that 13%, (which equates to only 400MW in total, 40/60 grid/residence) it’s naturally higher in Summer, probably up around 600MW, hence probably as much as 400MW fed back to the grid, not being used by the residence.

        Even so, 400MW spread across the whole of Australia is very little.

        And if Summer afternoon power consumption is falling, it sort of makes the home air conditioning big consumption scare campaign look a little like hyperbole after all.

        Still if it is as he says, and some of the big operators, like Bayswater, Eraring and Hazelwood fall into lean times enough to close down, wait and see what happens when that 12% of all Australian power leaves the electrical power generation scene.

        OMG AKA WTF! (saw that the other day on a Tee shirt. Love it)

        18,000MW is still the absolute Base Load requirement.

        Tony.

        20

      • #
        Graeme No.3

        Geoff:
        I think this is the original article (or close to it).
        http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/2/5/energy-markets/aemos-verdict-wind-solar-and-boiling-hot-weather

        Refers mostly to SA and rooftop solar contributes less than 2%.

        10

    • #
      jenj

      …he’ll probably peg you as a cranky pensioner.

      11

  • #

    I know I sometimes go on about Rooftop Solar power, but it’s important to offset the hype that is out there, and I emphasise that actual power generation is relatively poor, at best, and yet people will still believe it can provide answers to power generation needs for the future.

    I want you to look at the image at this link while I explain it. (and thanks to janama for pointing me to this image)

    This is a graph of one day’s power generation for the four installations (totalling a Nameplate of 1528KW) at the University of Queensland, the largest of which is at their main St. Lucia campus.

    Now, straight up, some will say I’m cherry picking just one image out of many. In actual fact, I have used a day of quite good power generation for this quite large system. I’ve used this graph to show a number of things, about rooftop solar in general in this first Comment, and then, in particular to this system at UQ, in a second comment.

    Firstly, notice the date, March 23rd, so we are now getting away from the clear and bright Summer days of perhaps major generation when the Sun is almost directly overhead at the middle of daylight hours, so that will be the period of highest generation, all things being at optimum.

    I mentioned that this system is 1528KW, and note here the maximum power generated, here between 11AM and 2PM. That total is around 1180MW, which is only 77% of maximum rated power, so here, notice how when the Sun is moving away from directly overhead, and shining straight down onto the panels, (hence an angular light) the power generation drops away quite markedly.

    That angularity of light on the panels is better seen in the early AM and late PM, and note the distinct bell shape of the curve as the light from the Sun approaches its peak.

    This angularity of light can then be extrapolated to different places in Australia, so a system in Alice Springs, with bright clear Sunlight will generate more than the same sized system in Hobart, because of that angularity of the light shining on the cells in the panels. The further North the system is, then the higher the generation.

    That angularity of light can also be extrapolated across the year. So it is highest in Mid Summer, and lowest in Mid Winter, when the light is shining from a Sun much further to the North, hence a greater angle. In fact, in Mid Winter a system like this will only be generating a maximum of only 800 KW on a clear bright cloud free day, so generation is down to only 52%, again showing that generation differs because of a number of reasons, foremost among them the angle of the light shining on the panels.

    However, even with that, you’ll notice that while there is some generation across all hours, it is at its maximum for only 4 hours or so each day, and even that is only during daylight hours.

    Each of the retail Companies which market rooftop solar power have a range of systems, similar to car models, the base unit, and then perhaps two further units up to the top of the range system, which utilises the best quality cells available. Now most systems installed are in fact the cheapest ones people can afford, so in fact very few would be those top of the range systems. Each of those ranges will have different sized units from the base 1KW system up to larger power installations.

    Now, because most systems are the cheap ones, and because of the generation only in daylight factor, and then the angularity of the light lowering generation, then actual power being generated is in fact quite low, and it is close to that 13% I have often quoted for rooftop solar power.

    Importantly here, this is not efficiency, but Capacity Factor, in other words the relationship between power delivered and the theoretical maximum power.

    Another reason I selected this particular graph as opposed to others is those reverse spikes you see there. Each of those indicates a cloud passing across the face of the Sun, and here, notice how the installation loses two thirds to three quarters of its generation. This factor is never noticed by residential rooftop unit owners, because they are connected to the grid, so when the power falls away like that, by such huge amounts, then residential supply is taken up by power FROM the grid, so it seems that power supply to the home is seamless, and this is incorrect.

    On days of heavy overcast, and overcast for extended periods, then total generation can be as low as 10 to 20% of the maximum rating, another case when the grid supply just takes over, and again, giving people the false impression that their rooftop system is supplying their home during ALL hours of daylight, again not so.

    So, while this graph shows a day of pretty good generation the average is still only around 500MW or a third of the maximum, or 32%, or extrapolated across the whole of the 24hour period, a total Capacity Factor of 16%.

    In fact, the yearly CF for these large installations at UQ only came in at 14.85%, slightly higher than the average, but only because this is a University with a nice Government grant, so, with other people’s money, they can afford the top of the range best quality panels, and still only manage a CF slightly higher than the average.

    So, across all Australia, we now have 1,157,000 rooftop solar power installations with a total Nameplate of 3,039MW, a seemingly large amount. However, with the CF at only 13%, then the power actually generated is only equal to 400MW, with 40% consumed by the residences, and 60% or 250MW fed back to the grid, not locally, but spread across the whole of Australia.

    That’s 400MW in total. So, we have 1,157,000 minute power plants delivering only 60% of the power delivered from ONE of the four generators at Bayswater. They are now on 14% of every Australian residence, and yet only supply 1.25% of all Australian power being generated.

    That has cost in total close between $12 and $16 Billion of which the taxpayer funded subsidy comes in at $3.5 Billion.

    So, rooftop solar power will only ever be marginal, no matter how much they improve those cells on the panels. Until they can get the light to shine directly onto those panels, then they will only ever be boutique in nature, with the grid always there to provide backup, making it seem that rooftop power is actually supplying homes all the time during daylight.

    Tony.

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    • #
      janama

      When I was living on solar I was told that the angle you place the panels at is relative to your latitude plus 10 degrees. So I was at 28 lat so the panels should be at 38 degrees pointing due north for max efficiency across summer and winter.

      The power produced between 6am and 9am is added to the power from 9am to 12pm. similarly the power from 3pm to 6pm is added to the power from 12pm to 3pm – this gives equivalent full power for 6 hours from 9am to 3pm.

      I suggest you take a look at some of the installations around, I’ve seen panels mounted on a west facing roof so it only gets direct light in the afternoon around 3 o’clock.

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      • #
        Graeme No.3

        janama:
        For maximum efficiency you need 2 axis tracking i.e. the panels should move from pointing East in the morning and track the sun across the sky, with the horizontal axis following the height of the sun. Expensive and heavy.

        By setting your horizontal axis at 30º you are maximising output in winter (applies to June 21). To maximise output in summer (Dec. 21) the angle should be 60º (59.6º to be exact and slightly lower in practice).
        See http://www.susdesign.com/sunangle/

        Since there is more solar energy available in summer your current angle will reduce collection then, although you will still get plenty, while getting as much as you can in winter in the shorter hours of daylight. Due North is an approximation also, aiming the panels for the approximate noon position, again at maximum availability.

        10

  • #

    So then, here we have UQ with rooftop solar installations at a number of its sites, totalling 1528KW in all. None of the power being generated is being fed back to the grid. Well, I sincerely hope it isn’t because that would be pretty blatant profiteering.

    UQ, across all its campuses consumes 130GWH of power from the Queensland grid each year. Now, in their pdf document on electrical power, UQ mentions that is the equivalent power used by 8,000 homes in Queensland. Hmm! That’s odd. It means that the average home in Queensland consumes 16,250KWH of power each year, or 16.25MWH. Even at Renewable Power sites, they, umm, artfully claim the average residential consumption at 7MWH/Year, so this 16.25MWH/Year in Queensland seems to me to be a case of getting the numbers inflated to make it seem they use less overall.

    So, UQ, has around 8 different sites under its control, but the largest consumer is their main campus at St. Lucia, which consumes 83% of the total power.

    Now, the largest power consumption for UQ is air conditioning, and here, this highlights what I have been saying all along in large commercial applications like this, with respect to high rise buildings, and UQ is basically all large buildings, so here, while it says air ….. conditioning, it is in fact the main air supply for those buildings, in other words the circulation of breathable (and conditioned) air into those buildings.

    So, here at UQ, air conditioning makes up 57% of all their power consumption. Just referring to it as ‘air conditioning’ now adds some perspective to the calls that residential air conditioning is adding to overall Australia wide power consumption. It seems that while it is pointed at as a culprit in the residential sector, it’s OK for establishments like UQ to have such huge consumption for air conditioning.

    So, then let’s look again at UQ’s over power consumption, 130,000,000KWH, and now compare that with what its rooftop installations generate. (shown at this link for last year, 2013) which came in at a tick under 2,000,000KWH, which means that this system generates only 1.5% of what UQ consumes in total.

    Now, at that link, look at the dollar savings at just under a quarter of a million dollars. That is not what UQ gets for its power. It just comes off their total electricity bill, so at that 1.5%, it indicates that the total power bill for UQ could be $16.7 Million. Now, I use the word ….. could here with some caution, because we don’t know what electricity contract UQ is on, but if this is an indication, then it could be as low as 14 cents per KWH, and now, see the difference between what large commercial entities and Industry pay per unit compared with what is paid by the average Residential consumer.

    Incidentally, the average cost for CO2 emissions adds around 3 cents per KWH to the total of everybody’s power bill, so here, UQ might be paying as much as $3.9 Million per year for the CO2 Tax.

    So, again, while seeming to be a large total power for all its installations, it is in fact barely boutique when it comes to power generation.

    Their main site for this solar project indicates that it could save UQ up to $6 Million over the next 15 years, but when you pay a huge amount per year for the electricity you use, this is again only a boutique amount of money, and umm, if it’s only saving around a quarter of a million dollars each year then 15 years only amounts to a saving of less than $4 million, so again, it looks like another over-estimation to make it look good, and hey, 15 years. Aren’t these systems supposed to last 25 years.

    I’m underwhelmed.

    Tony.

    Reference – UQ Energy Management (pdf document) While this document is dated 2010, power consumption would not have changed all that much, and in fact, has probably risen.

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    • #
      Ian Hill

      There’s a church in Adelaide with solar panels forming a cross on the roof. At least the panels are of some use. I should take a photo of it. For those who live in Adelaide, it’s just south of the Emerson railway crossing.

      40

    • #
      James (Aus.)

      Tony, did you take into account the temperature coefficients of various brands of panel, too?
      I have (somewhere) a list of coefficients comparing the marked reduction in outputs as the temperatures of panels
      become high, a scenario which would be ever present in summer-time Australia.

      Meanwhile, the insidious Renewable Energy Certificate Farms (wind) continue to be pushed onto closely settled rural districts and towns.

      10

  • #
    Graeme No.3

    Tony:
    did they happen to mention the full cost of installing this scheme?

    At a saving of 14¢ per kWh I doubt whether the system will ever pay for itself, if treated as a commercial decision, not as a publicity stunt.

    81

    • #

      Graeme,

      you have no idea how long and hard I looked for that total cost of these systems, especially the big one at their main Campus, but hey, the University gets funded anyway. It’s just used to offset their huge electricity costs, but hey, I guess that’s funded too!

      Tony.

      90

  • #
    Graeme No.3

    Sorry:

    Why ask when it is readily available.

    The 1.22 megawatt UQ Solar array is almost 25 per cent larger than any other flat-panel PV system in Australia, with the added complexity of being split between four buildings.

    Its total $7.75 million cost included the array, construction of a visitor resource centre, the data management web interface and ancillary research programs.

    The cost of the photovoltaic design and installation alone was $4.825 million, equating to $3.95/W.

    That figure of 1180MW surely should be the hourly maximum production rate in kW? A system of 1.528MW capacity would take 772 hours to generate 1180MWh.

    Taking their annual generation at (last year, 2013, which came in at a tick under 2,000,000KWH) = 2,000MWh and a cost of $4.825 million and a payback time of 6 years, they are getting their solar for 40¢ per kWh whereas you suggest they are paying about 14¢. And that is the best likely cost as I haven’t included the cost of maintenance nor the drop off in performance as the panels age. (Nor the millions extra for the Visitor centre etc.)

    I really can’t see how this would ever “save” money.

    40

    • #

      Graeme,

      thanks for that. Say, I looked at their UQ Solar site (on the about tab) and came up with virtually the same text, only minus any costs.

      While the main big unit is at their main campus, they have three others spread across the State as shown at this link.

      So, while the main unit is 1.22MW, all the others add up to the total of 1.528MW.

      Tony.

      30

      • #
        Graeme No.3

        I guess the most important thing (for them) is not the electricity generated (with other people’s money) but the nice warm glow of SMUGNESS.

        82

        • #
          jenj

          Maybe if you ever decide to share some of yours, they will be able to do so…

          06

          • #
            Graeme No.3

            Since at 1.2 you implied I was a cranky pensioner, and in this bit contradict that by implying that I should share my vast wealth (HA!), I can only assume you want me to share my smugness.

            Well there is no doubt that I am smug, it is unavoidable when one realises how much more intelligent one is, compared to people like you.

            50

          • #
            the Griss

            poor little Jen..

            Take the hint.. you really have very little future as a troll.

            Find something you are actually good at.

            KFC or Maccas may be hiring.

            10

      • #
        Roy Hogue

        They (UQ) tout parking under the solar panels as one of the benefits. Our local park now has solar panels in the parking lot. I fear the best benefit in the long run will be if you can park under one of them on a hot August day.

        There’s no way to know how well they really perform because the park district web site has no information I could find. But there’s a rather sad looking sign, nearly bent over from its own weight, that says, SUN WORKING.

        These are my tax dollars at work and play.

        20

  • #
    pat

    28 March: Union-Tribune San Diego: Morgan Lee: For some, solar tariff will last 20 years
    Rooftop solar customers can hold on to a popular tariff for 20 years as California reconfigures the payoff for utility customers who generate their own renewable energy, state utility regulators ruled Thursday.
    Solar installers and finance companies expect a quick boost in business from the decision by the California Public Utilities Commission, as new customers rush to lock in the old credit system. Schools and water districts that installed solar sought a 30-year transition to a new tariff and fear they ultimately may lose money…
    Utilities including San Diego Gas & Electric say solar customers have avoided their fair share of costs for maintaining the electrical grid…
    A coalition of public agencies including San Diego Unified School District said the decision could undermine public finances, ultimately hurting taxpayers. Many publicly financed solar projects have a long payback period because they did not incorporate key federal incentives, including a solar investment tax credit that reduces the cost of a solar energy system by 30 percent. Partnerships with the private-sector have improved access to those incentives…
    Other pending regulatory decisions may substantially alter the economic payoff of rooftop solar, as California rewrites its electricity billing system for residential customers and considers a shift to time-of-use pricing. The utility industry and regulators are seeking to phase in those changes gradually over several years, starting this summer, to avoid a potential consumer backlash…
    A new solar tariff — regulators have taken to calling it “net metering 2.0″ — is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2017, at the latest.
    Room under the old tariff could run out sooner, however, if the generation of rooftop solar electricity surpasses 5 percent of peak demand on the local grid. The new ruling requires SDG&E and other investor-owned utilities to report progress toward that cutoff each month, and post it clearly online.
    http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/mar/28/solar-tariff-grandfathered/

    10

  • #
    Peter C

    The Green House Gas Effect, Scientific Fact or Theory.

    The GHGE is actually a set of suppositions.
    1. Some solar radiation is absorbed in the upper atmosphere but a large proportion gets through an atmospheric window to warm the earth and ocean surface.
    2. Most solar radiation reaching the surface is absorbed and heats the surface.
    3. The Earth’s surface looses its heat by radiation.  The radiation spectrum of the surface has a black body spectrum, which is a function of the temperature of the surface.
    4. Outgoing radiation from the Earth’s surface is in the infrared or longer wavelengths.
    5. Outgoing radiation from the Earth’s surface is mostly absorbed by trace gases in the atmosphere ( H2O, CO2 and CH4), known as greenhouse gases.
    6. The greenhouse gases re radiate the energy in all directions.
    7.  Approximately half of the energy, which is  re radiated reaches the Earth’s surface.
    8. The re-radiated energy is absorbed and causes heating of the surface.
    9. In the absence of this,process, known as the Green House Gas Effect, the average temperature of the Earth’s surface would be -18C.

    We see that the GHGE is not an observable fact but a process of reasoning with a number of steps and hence must be a theory.  The validity of the theory is dependent on the correctness or integrity of each of the steps..

    Assumptions implicit in the Greenhouse Gas Effect Theory
    1. The albedo of the earth is constant (clouds etc)
    2. The heat energy of sunlight can be averaged over the Earth’s surface for the calculations.
    3. The effect of heat storage in water land air,during daylight hours can be neglected
    4. The Earth can be approximated to a black body.
    5. The Stephan Bolzman equation can appropriately describe heat absorbtion and heat loss.(this follows from assumption 4).

    The reasoning step which I have looked at most closely is step 8; the re radiated energy is absorbed by the Earth surface and causes warming. Slayers say that this cannot happen, which seems counter intuitive. However I have not been able to demonstrate this effect experimentally.

    One argument that is often advanced in support of the theory is that a vacuum flask relies on reflected radiation to slow the rate of cooling or heating of the contents. That is hard to refute, but it is still an argument from authority. By next weekend I hope to have some experimental evidence, one way or another.

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    • #
      Graeme No.3

      Peter C:
      something that has always bothered me is the statement “4. Outgoing radiation from the Earth’s surface is in the infrared or longer wavelengths.”.

      Photographs taken from space always show the sun lit Earth as blue and green from the oceans. Obviously light in the visible part of the spectrum is being reflected back into space, but how?

      Not as Infra-red, but it must come from the oceans. It can’t be a surface reflection effect as the red end of the visible spectrum doesn’t show. That is consistent with the red end being the first part absorbed by sea water. The idea that it is due to the surface merely reflecting the sky looks suspect as those photos are taken almost perpendicular to the ocean, nor do I see that it can be due to scattering of light by the atmosphere as it away from the Earth as that would require reflection of a white light source, and a sun light image in those photos.

      Any comments?

      40

      • #
        Peter C

        Thanks Graeme No.3 for reading my post,

        If you doubt supposition 4. ,then you doubt the whole Green House Gas Hypothesis, welcome to the club.

        I am not really qualified to answer your question. However I will try.
        Why does a leaf look green (apparently because other wavelengths are absorbed by the leaf, only the green is reflected). All visible wavelengths can pass the atmospheric window back into space. Hence the Earth absorbs colours other than blue and green.

        The above refers only to reflected radiation, which you could see on the moon if you were there. The absorbed radiation is apparently radiated in the infrared.

        10

        • #
          Graeme No.3

          Peter C:
          I am aware of the difference between reflected and absorbed light having had a bit to do with dyes and pigments over 25 years. The point I was trying to make is that the sky appears blue because the blue light is scattered whereas the longer wavelengths pass through. A leaf is green because it reflects green, and (chlorophyll) absorbs the red and blue wavelengths.

          But from space we see blue (and green) light. If it is reflected why is it not scattered on the outward passage through the atmosphere? And what reflects it? Water is greenish but only with 1-2 or more metres depth (the lower the turbidity the greater the depth necessary -again scattering). Blue light will penetrate sea water to considerable depths before being totally absorbed. But that doesn’t help as red & yellow also penetrates some distance, as shown by colours on the sea bottom being visible in 5-10 metres deep clear (low turbidity) tropical water, so sunlight reflected from the sea surface can’t be blue.

          And yes, I do doubt the radiation theory; it raises doubts about its scientific validity and besides I am looking for an explanation of Loschmidt’s thermo-gravimetric paradox, beloved of the Sky Dragon Slayers.

          20

          • #
            Peter C

            Ok Graeme No 3.

            I see the problem now. I don’t know the answer. I suppose if sunlight is scattered on the way in, then reflected light must also be scattered going back out. But the Earth does not look red around the edges, which is what I would expect.

            I thought that I had an experiment to demonstrate the thermo- gravitmetric proposition, which involved a long insulated plastic pipe, placed vertically with thermometers at both ends. However Tim Folkerts pointed out that the thermal gradient is quite weak at 10C per kilometer and hence my insulation would likely be inadequate. I would jjust measure the environmental lapse rate. I thought that was probably correct and hence I have not persued the idea.

            Doug Cotton says he has written a book about the Loschmidt thermogravitational paradox and Voldemort’s Law.. However since I don’t follow his blog comments, I probably won’t understand the book either.

            10

      • #
        Leo Morgan

        Firstly, please pardon my pedantry, but in point 3, the word is ‘loses’.
        Secondly, what you describe as ‘assumptions in the theory’ are actually just pragmatic additions to the paradigm. By analogy, Newton’s law of gravity is a paradigm, spelled out in his formula. We adjust the formula pragmatically, to include the effects of atmosphere, air pressure, lunar gravity, lift, thrust and the curvature of the earth. The point of the analogy being that in this case, as with your point, the fundamental theory is not invalidated by these pragmatic additions.
        That said, I cannot express how delighted I am to hear that you will be performing an experiment. A new experimental result is a joy in Science.
        I encourage you to spell out your method , independant variable, expected results and some way of disproving your theory before you conduct the experiment. Feedback might help you avoid some obvious errors. I speak here as a person whose youthful scientific experiments really did contain embarassing errors.

        30

        • #
          Peter C

          Ok Leo,

          The plan is to test 2 vacuum flasks, both with cold (ice) and hot (hot water) contents and measure the rate of temperature changes.

          One flask will have the silver coating removed. I have now worked out how to do that. The vacuum will be the same in both flasks.

          I am not predicting the result, but if the reflective silver coating (aluminium actually), works as it is supposed to the silvered flask will maintain its temperature better than the other one.

          00

          • #

            The way to check the BBQ-chook-in-the-foil-bag effect is to see how a foil blanket performs if one side is painted black. I’m sure that this has been done by someone.

            Reflecting IR radiation back should not help the insulating performance much, as the foil is close to the hot body and is stopping convection of heat. Its insulating performance is mainly due to the foil itself being a poor emitter of IR radiation. Hence, painting the inside black and leaving the outside shiny would not affect the insulating performance as much as painting the outside black.

            Adding CO2 to the atmosphere makes it blacker.

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  • #
    pat

    28 March: CleanTtechnica: Kyocera Working To Bring 22%-Efficient Solar Panels To Residential Market (in Japan)
    The move is in response to the relatively high demand for rooftop solar in Japan — even though FiT rates for large-solar PV projects in Japan have recently been reduced significantly, residential FiT rates are still pretty good. It’s currently expected that residential rooftop FiT rates will be reduced only by around 2.6% this year — not really a significant drop, so solar adoption in the residential sector isn’t likely to fall much.
    For those of our readers that are currently salivating — unfortunately, there are no plans currently to sell the new modules in any markets except the Japanese one.
    http://cleantechnica.com/2014/03/28/kyocera-working-bring-22-efficiency-solar-panels-residential-market/

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    • #
      Peter C

      The Japanese are wasting their time with solar panels. Tokyo is covered with smog most of the time. I suggest that they get Fukashima going again if they want to keeps the lights on

      30

  • #
    LevelGaze

    On a matter of individuals straying from the mainstream and coming up with interesting happenstance. Today I stumbled across this instrument, previously unknown to me, courtesy of a young busker at my local shopping centre. (I threw him a few dollars and engaged him in conversation.)

    Here is an example of a particularly bravuro performance:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-mJAxycWR8

    Don’t know how all of this flew under my radar.
    If you find this as intriguing and enjoyable as I did, fine. If not, that’s fine too.

    Mal.

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    • #
      Yonniestone

      Fascinating, mesmerizing and never seen one before, loved it thank you. :)

      20

      • #
        LevelGaze

        Thanks Yonniestone, glad you liked it as much as I did.
        Music is actually quite important to me, and my personal taste runs from Bach to Laibach and not much in between (though that’s just an in-joke I use to irritate people and, frankly, a lie).
        For the past 30+ years I’ve been intensely interested in electronic music (and its possible utility for mind control – sadly did not eventuate) and then this comes along. Something novel, a magnitude beyond STOP.
        Kinda galling to confess at our age there’s always something new, from younger people, that deserves attention. :)

        10

        • #
          LevelGaze

          Oops, “STOMP”

          Mal.

          00

          • #
            Yonniestone

            I’ll give any music a go and interestingly when the subject of musical taste has come up here most feel the same way, must be something about skeptical minds eh?.
            The Theremin would be the closest thing to mind control or torture depending on taste but a TV show I saw a while back about scientifically analyzing and debunking paranormal activity come up with a theory of Infrasound http://www.eastcoastrip.org/did-you-know/infrasound (I’ll try and find the show) the experiment they did was quite astonishing using control groups and a double blind methods on people in apparently haunted locations.
            Just found Mythbusters did an episode on this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wqvE_QYTk0 interesting stuff.

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              LevelGaze

              Ah yes, the good old theremin, been around for yonks. Much used by Hollywood in the grand old screaming movie days, and notably in the TV series Space Family Robinson, also to good effect on many tracks by Jean Michel Jarre – another of my revered musicians.

              Explored along with other primitive electronic instruments by Percy Grainger, who I admire but am totally baffled by.

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    pat

    two pieces that make my blood boil:

    28 March: Brookings Institute Blog: Christina Golubski: Senate Subcommittee on African Affairs Hold Hearing on Power Africa
    On Thursday, March 27, the U.S. Senate’s Subcommittee on African Affairs, chaired by Senator Chris Coons, held a hearing on the Obama Administration’s Power Africa. Power Africa is an initiative seeking to double the number of people in sub-Saharan Africa with access to electricity, and the hearing, entitled, “Powering Africa’s Future: Examining the Power Africa Initiative” examined the scope, scale, sustainability and implementation of the initiative. Senator Coons, as well as a number of U.S. agencies working in Africa, have emphasized that increasing access to power on the continent is a priority for the United States.
    Right now, 70 percent of people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity. The region maintains electricity generation capacity of 91 megawatts per person, in comparison to the 3,360 megawatts per person in the United States. The project aims to increase generation and access through a number of ventures such as wind, solar, hydropower, natural gas and geothermal sources.
    http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/africa-in-focus/posts/2014/03/28-power-africa-senate-ebola-virus-euro-leaders-golubski

    set aside in whose interests the unrest in Venezuela might be serving.
    note the ***AND COSTLY*** in this piece:

    7 March: Christian Science Monitor: Ezra Fieser: Could unrest in Venezuela lead to a greener Caribbean?
    Countries from Aruba to the Dominican Republic are building wind farms and diversifying energy resources as Venezuelan oil shipments appear threatened by economic and political woes.
    Seventeen countries receive cheap Venezuelan oil shipments through the Petrocaribe program, with the option of repayment over 20 or more years at discounted interest rates. As part of the plan, governments were supposed to map out a new route to energy independence, including creating more efficient grids and building renewable power sources. Cheaper energy imports also offered a way to subsidize domestic prices.
    But some countries did neither, instead seeing it as short-term financing…
    Caribbean countries are rushing to build wind farms, solar panel parks, and geothermal facilities in an effort to embrace renewable energy as the primary source of electricity generation. In doing so, they are making the longterm – ***and costly*** – decision to pivot away from energy sources that produce the greenhouse gases that contribute to rising sea levels here, threatening the Caribbean’s very existence.
    “Absolutely there is the sense that we need to break from our addiction to fossil fuels to make the investments that provide returns for our future,” Jon Creyts, managing director at Rocky Mountain Institute, a Colorado-based nonprofit that focuses on renewables and energy efficiency, says of the Caribbean countries.
    Mr. Creyts was in attendance last month when 12 representatives of regional governments and 30 companies gathered at Richard Branson’s private island in the British Virgin Islands for a summit on green energy.
    “The message from senior leaders was that change needs to happen now,” Creyts says…
    http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2014/0327/Could-unrest-in-Venezuela-lead-to-a-greener-Caribbean

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      nzrobin

      Just a comment on one sentence in the article:

      The item includes “The region maintains electricity generation capacity of 91 megawatts per person, in comparison to the 3,360 megawatts per person in the United States”.
      The units here (91 MW per person, and 3,360 MW per person) are way too large. The writer does not seem to have an understanding of electrical units.

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        Joe V

        The writer only misquoted the source. It should have been Meggawatts per million persons, though why they couldnt just call it watts per person ? Much more illustrative. Less than a decent light bulb , compared more than a 3 bar heater in the US where .
        Its only a handful of those persons getting most of the watts though, while most get none.

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          The article at the link is just so wrong, on so many fronts.

          Just blandly saying X number of MW per million people is a gross misrepresentation.

          It’s not just the Nameplate Capacity, it’s the actual power being generated for delivery to grids where people can consume it.

          The U.S. is a highly developed Country, so the electricity being generated is being consumed not just by the people, (and here that is logically the Residential Sector) but by Commerce and Industry, major consumers in a Developed Country.

          In the U.S. that split for Res/Com/Ind is 38/36/26 in percentage terms.

          In an undeveloped Country that split has the Res sector getting 8 to 10% at the absolute best, and coming from an already tiny tiny base, that means very few people in the Residential sector get any power at all, mainly those affluent people living in some suburbs of the major cities perhaps, but outside of that, virtually no one has access to ANY power, let alone the constant and reliable supply of Developed countries.

          So MegaWatts per million people is so utterly misleading.

          Then, the good U.S. President, as part of his ‘saying stuff’ commitment to Climate Change mentions the possibility of a further 10,000MW of clean efficient generation capacity from Wind, Solar, some small Hydro, and Geothermal sources.

          That 10,000MW of Nameplate will be at a Capacity Factor of around 30% tops, so now, that 10,000MW becomes 3,000MW, or a little more than ONE Bayswater ….. for the WHOLE of Sub-Saharan Africa.

          Most of that power will be in the major cities, so again, a few more people might gain access to some electricity, because the vast bulk of it will be going to Commerce and Industry as those desperately poor undeveloped Countries attempt to claw their way out of extreme poverty.

          So, when it comes to the 600 Million people (and that’s probably still on the low side) who have no electricity whatsoever, virtually nothing will change here, absolutely nothing.

          This is cynicism at its absolute zenith.

          Tony.

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      Craig Loehle

      Did everyone miss that the US wants to add electricity using mostly alternative sources such as solar that everyone is now running from in the developed world? We are imposing political correctness on people desperate for electricity. They need good old reliable stable coal fired power plants.

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    Andrew McRae

    A grab bag of events…

    ~ ~ ~ ~

    The makers of TV series House of Cards (2013 American version) are locked in a tussle with the state of Maryland over the continuation of tax breaks previously granted to the producers. TheWrap reports that after the show threatened to move their filming elsewhere: The state’s House of Delegates has adopted budget language allowing the state to seize “House of Cards” producer Media Rights Capital’s property if it chooses to stop filming in the state.
    It’s kind of ironic the producers of a show about political backstabbing were unable to foresee that wriggling out of an agreement with Big Brother would result in some vengeful political backstabbing. When you dance with the devil, you don’t get to choose when the dancing stops.

    ~ ~ ~ ~

    Professional hand wringers demand an apology from Wayne Dropkick Dropulich over the sexual objectification of women in a captioned image on his party’s Facebook page. Not emphasised in the reportage but implicit in the description is the Sports Party’s homophobic attitude that all gay men are rapists. So the story is a bit of a two-fer. If there ever needed to be a reminder that the people didn’t vote for these minor parties in the last election, they voted against the majors, then this storm in a B-cup serves the purpose adequately. As for the professional wowser’s fears of free-ranging funbags on Facebook feeds, one wonders how anyone will be surprised by ASP’s “naked women in their Facebook feed” if they didn’t already subscribe to ASP’s Facebook page. Only the die-hard supporters would have seen it. As for learning about politics through a sports Party’s Facebook page, get real, lady.
    The fact this minor infraction is considered newsworthy by the ABC probably has nothing to do with WA Senate re-elections happening this weekend, no Sir, not at all. It’s not like the ABC would want to help Labor’s re-election chances. heh.

    ~ ~ ~ ~

    Liberal Party bedwetter Ken Wyatt said “Free speech means that you can have a discussion around an issue, and if you have strong views express them, but not express them as a bigot.” If cooler heads prevail then he will be ignored and the contentious “Bolt Clause” (section 18C) of the Racial Discrimination Act should be dropped in due course. As the Human Rights Commissioner said: “We need to make sure bad ideas are heard so that we can highlight why they are a bad idea and correct them, rather than trying to silence them”.
    Racial vilification in some narrowly defined sense is still going to be targeted by the legislation.

    ~ ~ ~ ~

    Oh look, it’s Earth hour again. Anna Rose and the Coral Whisperer apply hype in turn. *yawn*. Bjorn Lomborg actually gets a contrarian quote aired near the end, like the ABC is turning over a new leaf? Anyhow, I do plan to do something slightly special to commemorate the occasion.
    Fetch my extra large carbon footprint will you, waiter?

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    scaper...

    I’ve got the lighting array ready for tonight. Boy, is the transformer down the road going to hum tonight.

    “Australians for freedom, light up!”

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      nzrobin

      Turn off your water heater around midday, and turn it on again when ‘earth hour’ happens. That’ll add a couple of kWs. And further, because you transferred a few kWhs from day to night, you might even save some money (if you’re on the day/night tariff that is).

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      Yonniestone

      Made a preemptive strike early today, drove over 2 hours to work and back in a 5.7 litre v8 ute, used about 30 welding electrodes @ 100 amps via a diesel powered generator running for 4 hours.

      Phew it’s tiring being environmentally responsible.

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        nzrobin

        That’s funny Yonnie. I wonder if Tony from Oz could work our how many solar panels would it take to make you’re arc welder work (on a fine sunny day of course)?

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          bobl

          I can help there but it depends on the welder, welders use high currents, not high voltage. Your typical Arc welder operates at only 12 V or so. More to the point is how many solar panels would it take to run your welder for 24 hours on an averagely sunny day, since the world doesn’t stop welding at 3:30 pm when the insolation starts fading. Some people even weld at night, when it’s cooler.

          Anyway, let’s assume it’s a little single phase welder, then the consumption has to be 2400 watts or less. At 2400 watts you would need about 14 200 watt solar panels at midday on a bright day accounting for losses such as the conversion loss and average under performance of solar panels, copper losses on the DC side etc. But to run it continuously and be certain you have enough energy you have to presume a dull day when solar panels generate about 20 %. Also on average they only generate 5 hours out of every 24, so you would need about 5 x 24÷5 × 14 or about 350 panels connected to a whole lot of good batteries to be sure you can operate your welder whenever you want for 24 hours. Maybe more if accounting for the battery losses.

          The cost isn’t in peak generation, it’s to get the reliablility of supply. Greenies don’t get this, that energy without reliability is next to useless. Useless unreliable energy, 14 Panels, reliable, useful reliable energy – 350 panels and a battery array the size of your lounge room.

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      el gordo

      I’m putting on a vulgar display.

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      scaper...

      All systems are go.

      Thought sunnies would suffice, need welding glasses.

      I see the light!

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      toorightmate

      Bangladesh often has a bit of “earth hour” during the T20 night games.

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    pat

    el gordo -

    i think Fred Singer is correct. but there’s a lot of work to do in the meantime. once the public understands the dollars & cents issues regarding CAGW, they will never allow the scam to continue.

    don’t expect me, or most of the public, to fully understand the science, tho THE PAUSE resonates with everyone.

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    pat

    27 March: PR Web: MEDIA ADVISORY: International Gathering of Scientists Skeptical of Man-Caused Global Warming to Take Place in Las Vegas from July 7 to July 9
    Ninth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC-9) will feature world-famous scientists and writers, precede FreedomFest 2014.
    Is the theory of man-made global warming still credible? Why do surveys show a majority of Americans and scientists do not believe global warming is man-made and a major problem?
    Hundreds of the world’s most prominent “skeptics” of the claim that human activity is causing a climate crisis will converge in Las Vegas on July 7–9 to review the latest research and celebrate what they see as recent events that vindicate their opposition to what some claim is a “scientific consensus.”
    The Heartland Institute – which The Economist magazine in 2012 called “the world’s most prominent think tank promoting skepticism about man-made climate change” – is joining scores of other think tanks and advocacy groups to host the 9th International Conference on Climate Change at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas…
    “The scientists Heartland works with demanded we host a ninth conference this year to foster a much-needed frank, honest, and open discussion of the current state of climate science,” said Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast, “and we just couldn’t refuse. The public, the press, and the scientific community will all benefit from learning about the latest research and observational data that indicate climate science is anything but ‘settled.’”…
    For more information about The Heartland Institute and the 9th International Conference on Climate Change, contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at jlakely(at)heartland.org or 312/377-4000.
    http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/03/prweb11708533.htm

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    edwina

    I thought this was let go past the keeper by Tony Jones Australian Broadcasting Corporation Broadcast: 27/03/2014 “Lateline”.
    Reporter: Tony Jones

    NICHOLAS STERN, LORD, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS,
    he said,

    There are two key tests, strength of reductions and credibility of policy, and it looks to me at the moment as if Australia fails both of those and it is a great pity because Australia has tremendous potential in the creativity of its people and its technology and I think it could play a great lead on this and benefit in the process and be a leader in this dynamic transition to a new way of doing things, investing in renewables and NUCLEAR and whichever way that Australia chooses…

    (my emphasis)

    I’d like to hear Mine and the Greens along with the Labor party and other conservative eco nutters agree with their idol,Stern.

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    Peter Miller

    Perhaps one of the ridiculous pieces of alarmist BS spewed out over the last few days is this:

    http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=newssearch&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCwQqQIoADAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fmagazine-26746039&ei=WJk2U7GjLcWyhAf0lYDoCg&usg=AFQjCNFR8vRAfUsuxt7vmcvbbQWGxUiOTw

    As a geologist, I was appalled by its total nonsense and the very deliberate intentions to mislead. It was actually news item No. 3 or 4 or in the BBC TV news a few days ago! The message is this: “Evil CO2 is killing the corals and this will happen globally soon, if we do not act now!”

    It would have been seen by millions of people, but I note with interest it has suddenly vanished off the BBC websites.

    It is so full of BS, I hardly know where to start, so these few points will have to do.

    1. Whenever you get CO2 bubbling out of the ocean floor in a hydrothermally active area, it means that it will be accompanied by some sulphuric acid, many thousands of times more acidic than carbonic acid.

    2. The constant bubbling of CO2 will mean that the water has become supersaturated in carbon dioxide, or many times what could be considered normal. In any small localised area, supersaturated with CO2 (either in the ocean or on land), most life would struggle to survive.

    3. As I have shown here several times before, at the current rate of CO2 absorbtion by the oceans, their CO2 content could rise by up to one part per million over the next century. Now that’s really scary!!?!!

    4. Taking an extreme situation – in this case, in taking a tiny, highly unrepresentative, sulphuric acid rich and CO2 supersaturated area and trumpeting “This is why we are all doomed and need to save the planet now” is so intellectually dishonest it beggars belief.

    The point is that millions of intellectually innocent individuals will have seen this and believed it, because it came from the BBC. Millions of people believing arrant alarmist nonsense, now that’s scary.

    And in Australia you think the ABC is full of it when it comes to climate, I reckon they are rank amateurs when compared to the BBC.

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      LevelGaze

      Yup, and quite sophisticated life forms are doing just dandy around the deep hydrothermal vents, with very low pH environments.

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    Peter Miller

    After being weak all week, European carbon futures went into free fall on Friday, down 16.2%.

    Does anyone have any idea why?

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    Rod Stuart

    The history of the global warming scam.
    I recommend this documentary to you. See if you like it.

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    I suggested a way to estimate the rate of warming from the HadCRUT4 data last week. This was to do a moving linear regression over 12 months and smoothing that with a moving average over 15 years to get this plot.

    I did this so I could show that there is a poor correlation with the rate of warming (from the HadCRUT data) and the increasing rate of fossil fuel use, which is estimated to be increasing by 2.3% per year.

    I fitted a simple model to the rate data: asin(2pi/65(t-1880)) + cexp(0.0227(t-1880)) + L.

    This is a simple sinusoidal oscillation with a period of 65 years plus an increase in rate proportional to a rate of fossil fuel use increasing by a certain percentage per year, and L for a constant warming from a longer oscillation as the world comes out of the LIA.

    These are the plots compared with the rate data.

    The third plot is a cumulative plot of the model, just the estimated rate of temperature increase due to the increasing rate of fossil fuel use and the actual HadCRUT4 data. The component that is proportional to a rate that increases by a small percentage per year could explain about a third of a degree of warming during the last century, the rest is natural.

    Yes, there are lot of assumptions, especially that the adjustments to global temperatures are valid, but its just a start.

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      Andrew McRae

      All old news, Vic. When you add an estimate of solar forcing into the sinusoidal and linear components you will have caught up to where many independent modellers were two years ago.

      As you may have noticed by now, the independent investigators and the IPCC gang are all having the same problem when it comes to modelling the climate in a top-down fashion. There are infinite combinations of parameters that produce an output that matches history. The magnitude of the “oceanic” sinusoid component is quite solid with amplitude of 0.13 degrees. Everything else is a guesstimate.
      Skeptics’ priority: Add more solar, decrease the CO2 strength, it works.
      IPCC’s priority: Add less solar, increase the CO2 strength, it works.
      We need ways of quantifying the strength of both solar-magnetic and GHG forcings and I don’t know of any that have been done with the sort of accuracy needed for predicting the future. In the case of Earth’s albedo variance due to cloud cover there are at least 3 “observational” series covering the last 30 years, and they all conflict with each other.
      It’s difficult to see how anyone can figure out the truth under these conditions.

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        I fitted the simplest equation to take into account the possibility of natural factors and man-made factors to the rate data. It was more about how you can understand what is happening better if you can get a better estimate of how the rate of warming is changing, rather than proposing a new model (and it was purely empirical except for the part that is proportional to the rate of fossil fuel use. Also, the non-sinusoidal part is probably just the adjustment or homogenization of the data).

        This stems from trying to point out to Philip S (aka Dr Brian) for a long time that the hiatus is significant.

        I’m suggesting that collating a moving linear regression over 365 days from weather stations would be better than anomalies. Changes in positioning or equipment will effect just the one year so there is no need to adjust except to remove these years. Just separate the data into regions, as has been done, to check if some areas are warming faster than others.

        There was nothing about modelling the effect of natural factors.

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    Eliza

    Its about time something was done about the UWA and the Lew affair. Its really giving a very very poor impression of Australian Universities (judging by Vice -Chancellors responses)and could cost millions in lost students etc for ALL Australian Higher education.

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    Greg Cavanagh

    I have a question for statisticians . If I was to conduct a survey and I left out 1.12% of the community demographic.

    Is 1.12% a significant figure?
    Is this a whole in the survey?
    Would it affect the conclusions of the survey?

    Autistics/Aspergers are approximately 1:89 people(1.12%), and their attitudes are often diametrically opposite the “typical person” response. So I’m wondering if surveys can be said to be biased. Is this demographic significant?

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    Roy Hogue

    Jo,

    The more I look at the picture at the top of this page the more I’m convinced that it’s just the top of a picture that originally had the more standard aspect ratio of most any camera; 4:3. Do you have the whole picture and if so, will you post it?

    Another thing bothers me too. I used to know the name for formations like that in the picture and now I can’t remember it to save my life. Am I getting old? No, my education in geology is getting old. That sounds much better. ;-)

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    According to http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/03/30/2014-bloggies-awards-and-climate-duplicitist-of-the-year-the-award-goes-to/ :

    Lifetime Achivement: JoNova http://joannenova.com.au

    Congratulations!

    Ric, Thanks, I just realized myself, and posted this minute. Cheers! Jo

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    Paul Vaughan

    Animating Solar-Governed Multidecadal Climate Waves

    Paul L. Vaughan, M.Sc. — March 31, 2014

    Marcia Wyatt introduced the “stadium wave” concept to climate science. Co-author Judy Curry describes the multidecadal climate wave as “internal”, suggesting solar activity “projects” onto its “modes”.

    Semantic quibling aside, the sun governs multidecadal climate waves. Solar activity — via insolation, including insolation pattern — controls both the global base state and the gradients – and hence circulation.

    What follows is a series of illustrations conveying the minimal background needed to interpret the animations further below. It will be a trival exercise for an agency with superior computing facilities to direct paid technicians to refine these animations and extend them to other fields.

    (map notation key below)

    http://s23.postimg.org/691bp3lln/Sun_SST_AMOC.png
    http://s14.postimg.org/h4h9xiqof/MD_Wave_Anim.gif
    http://s9.postimg.org/mhvntz7tr/Sun_Corr_Blink.gif
    http://s2.postimg.org/o5zzyuce1/Sun_Corr_Still.png

    Map Notation:
    x = SCD = Solar Cycle Deceleration
    y = RI = Sunspot Integral
    00 = y – x = RI – SCD
    animation phase-step increment = (1/16)*wave

    Map Credit: KNMI Climate Explorer

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