Monday, January 30, 2023

Dr. Judith Curry Deserves a Fair Hearing


Dr. Judith Curry is a true climatologist. She once headed the department of earth and atmospheric sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, until she gave up on the academy so that she could express herself independently. She once told a journalist, “Independence of mind and climatology have become incompatible.”

She added, "Climatology has become a political party with totalitarian tendencies,” she charges. “If you don’t support the UN consensus on human-caused global warming, if you express the slightest skepticism, you are a ‘climate-change denier,’ a stooge of Donald Trump, a quasi-fascist who must be banned from the scientific community.”

The climate models used by scientists working for the United Nations cannot explain why the climate suddenly cooled between 1950 and 1970, giving rise to widespread warnings about the onset of a new ice age.

Curry notes that between 1910 and 1940, the planet warmed during a climatic episode that resembles our own, down to the degree. The warming cannot be blamed on CO2 emissions because the carbon-dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels were relatively small in those years. Curry says, “almost half of the warming observed in the twentieth century came about in the first half of the century, before carbon-dioxide emissions became large.”

Speaking of climate changes, she points to natural factors, of which there are many. These factors reveal far greater complexity than is generally acknowledged by global warming alarmists.

The following organizations are in agreement that climate changes: the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the National Academies of more than 30 other countries, the American Association for the advancement of science (AAAS), the American Meteorological Society (AMS), The American Institute of Physics (AIP), The Geological Society of America (GSA), The American Physical Society (APS), and the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

However, among the scientists in these organizations there is a range of positions as to which factors contribute most to warming. All tend to agree that solar radiance and Earth-Sun geometry are very significant. Yet we hear about this less than we hear about the danger of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel energy sources.

Earth's climate varies from region to region and from age to age. Therefore, it is misleading to speak of "climate change". Instead, we should speak of "climate changes" over vast periods of time. The Pleistocene glacial epoch (2,600,000-11,700 years ago) saw substantial variations in the extent of glaciers and ice sheets. These variations were driven by changes in the distribution of solar radiation across Earth’s surface. The insolation pattern is strongly affected by the geometry of Earth’s orbit around the Sun and by the orientation, or tilt, of Earth’s axis relative to the direct rays of the Sun.

Worldwide, the most recent glacial period, or ice age, culminated about 21,000 years ago in what is called the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). During this time, continental ice sheets extended well into the middle latitude regions of Europe and North America, reaching as far south as present-day London and New York City. Global annual mean temperature appears to have been about 4–5 °C (7–9 °F) colder than in the mid-20th century.

The Sahara was once wet, and with on-going reforestation projects and changes in monsoons, it will likely be wet again.

The Botswanan basin in southern Africa was once a sea, filled by water from the Angolan Highlands. Thousands of stoneage tools have been found there. 

At its peak, Mega Lake Chad covered more than 400,000 square kilometers (150,000 square miles), making it the largest lake on Earth today.

Researchers identified two distinct environments at the South Pole at the close of the Permian Period. There was a warm rainforest with tree-ferns, palm trees, and baobab trees at the lower elevations, and a cooler mountainous region dominated by beech trees and conifers.

NASA bases climate change on a 136-year record. According to NASA, 16 of the 17 warmest years in the 136-year record all have occurred since 2001, with the exception of 1998. What happened to make 1998 different? This marked the completion of Earth's axial precession, a cycle of about 25,800 years (Earth's Great Year). Obviously, we have no climate records going back that far.

In the cycle of Earth’s Great Year, the line off the North Pole axis (extending toward Polaris) scribes a complete circle in the heavens about every 25,800 years. A complete cycle takes between 25,000 and 28,000 years, depending on the amount of Earth's wobble. One cycle is Earth’s Great Year. Climate and atmospheric changes appear to become more acute toward the end and beginning of a new year.

Judith Curry is not alone in her consideration of natural causes. In June 2013, Dr. Roy W. Spencer wrote, "Hundreds of millions of dollars that have gone into the expensive climate modelling enterprise has all but destroyed governmental funding of research into natural sources of climate change. For years the modelers have maintained that there is no such thing as natural climate change…yet they now, ironically, have to invoke natural climate forces to explain why surface warming has essentially stopped in the last 15 years!"

Monday, January 16, 2023

Self-Healing Concrete


A section of the First Century BC Roman wall of Empuries (Ampurias) in Spain. 
The base of the wall was made of calcareous rock while the upper portion is of Roman concrete (opus caementicium).  Photo by Mark Cartwright, Creative Commons

Cement is a human-made conglomerate comprised of sand and gravel aggregates with calcined lime and clay. It is mixed with water to form mortar or mixed with sand, gravel, and water to make concrete. Concrete is a mixture of broken stone or gravel, sand, and cement. In ancient times concrete often contained crushed seas shells.

Cement-matrix composites include concrete (containing coarse and fine aggregates), mortar (containing fine aggregate, but no coarse aggregate), and cement paste (containing no aggregate, whether coarse or fine).

The ancient Romans built extremely durable sea walls using a concrete made from lime and volcanic ash to bind with rocks. Rather than eroding in the presence of sea water, the material gained strength from the exposure. Scientists have discovered that elements within the volcanic material reacted with sea water to strengthen the construction.

“Contrary to the principles of modern cement-based concrete, the Romans created a rock-like concrete that thrives in open chemical exchange with seawater,” reports Marie Jackson (University of Utah) in the journal American Mineralogist.

Mixing the concrete with limestone-producing bacteria allowed for cracks to self-heal. The bacteria, either Bacillus pseudofirmus or Sporosarcina pasteurii, are found in highly alkaline lakes near volcanoes, and are able to survive for up to 200 years without oxygen or food. They are activated when they come into contact with water. They then use the calcium lactate as a food source, producing limestone that closes up the cracks.

Related reading: Ancient Roman Concrete was Incredibly Strong

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Massive Fish Nest Colony



Off the coast of Antarctica, icefish congregate in a deep breeding colony. Some 60 million nests of Jonah’s icefish (Neopagetopsis ionah) stretch across at least 240 square kilometers of seafloor. 

Jonah’s icefish create circular nests with hard rock centers where the fish can lay over 1,000 eggs. Nest-building species of fish were known to gather in the hundreds. Many fish create nests, from freshwater cichlids to artistically inclined pufferfish, but an abundant food supply and a zone of warm water have drawn the exceptionally large group of Jonah's Icefish.

Deep sea biologist Autun Purser of the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven, Germany, and colleagues discovered the massive colony in 2021 while on a research cruise in the Weddell Sea, located between the Antarctic Peninsula and the main continent.

Read more here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Where Jesus Was Born


Stone sheep cote in Zanuta, West Bank
Photo: Emil Salman

Dr. Alice C. Linsley

According to one tradition Jesus was born in a migdal eder, a sheep cote. In Hebrew, a migdal (מִגְדָּל) is a “tower” and eder (עֵדֶר) refers to a herd or flock. There were many such places in the Ancient Near East. They looked like the sheep cotes in this post.

The Bible scholar Alfred Edersheim interpreted the Micah 4:8 reference to the tower as a prophecy indicating that the Messiah would be revealed from the "tower of the flock" (migdal eder) which he claimed is connected with Bethlehem.

Likewise, Professor Samuel Klein believed that Jesus was born in a place where sheep were kept based of mention of a "shepherd's field" in Luke 2:8-20.

In the Ancient Near East dry stack sheep cotes served as housing for the shepherd. This is reflected in Judges 5:16: "Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks? For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart." 

2 Samuel 7:8 also describes the sheep cote as a dwelling place (naveh).

Sheep cotes similar to the one shown above are found in many parts of Europe and are called by different names: tholos, girna, caciara, and keyl. The last word, found in Wales, is provocatively similar to the Altaic kyr ayil, meaning a "sheep village" or "the shelter to which the ram (krios) leads the sheep."

Shepherds used sheep cotes as shelters for many centuries. In archaic times, these structures served as seasonal housing for the shepherd and his family as they moved their livestock between higher summer elevations and lower winter pastures. More recently, sheep herders maintain permanent homes in valleys and only a few men move with their flocks to the seasonal sheep cotes.

The dry stack sheep cotes pictured below are common in Ireland, Italy, Wales, Serbia and Croatia. 

This dry stack tholos in Abruzzo, Italy serves as a home and a sheep cote.
Note that where the man is standing is where the shepherd often sleeps.
He becomes the door that guards the way to the sheep.

This practice was familiar to Jesus who said, "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me-- even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep." (John 10:9-15)

This sheep cote in Anatolia served as a shelter and as a place of worship.

The shearing of sheep was surrounded by religious ceremony. Sheep shearing and shrines are associated in Genesis 38.

"After a long time Judah's wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had recovered from his grief, he went up to Timnah, to the men who were shearing his sheep, and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went with him. It was told to Tamar, "Behold, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep."

Sheep shearing sometimes involved animal sacrifice and feasting on a large scale, as is evident in 2 Samuel 13:23-25.

Now it came about after two full years that Absalom had shearers in Baal-hazor, which is near Ephraim, and Absalom invited all the king's sons. Absalom came to the king and said, "Behold now, your servant has shearers; please let the king and his servants go with your servant." But the king said to Absalom, "No, my son, we should not all go, for we will be burdensome to you." Although he urged him, he would not go, but blessed him.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

300,000-Year Human Footprints Found in Spain

Current intertidal zone surrounding El Pichilín, Castilla beach, Matalascañas.

Footprints indicate the presence of humans in Southern Spain in the Chibanian (Middle Pleistocene) 200,000 years earlier than previously thought. More than 300 footprints have been found, of which 10% are considered well-preserved.

The discovery in June 2020 of human footprints more than 106,000 years old next to El Asperillo cliff (Matalascañas, Huelva) was considered one of the most important discoveries of that year. But now it has confirmed that those footprints are in fact 200,000 years older than previously thought, with a margin of error of 17,800 years, according to the data collected from the four samples of sedimentary levels in the cliffs of El Asperillo.

Researcher and GRS Radioisotopes technician Jorge Rivera applied an optically-stimulated luminescence technique at the Center for Research, Technology and Innovation laboratories at the University of Seville (CITIUS) and at CENIEH to the Matalascañas footprints to determine that the footprints are in fact 200,000 years older than previously suspected.

The Matalascañas discovery establishes the scenario that prevailed on the coast of the Gulf of Cádiz, with human settlements in a more temperate and humid climate than in the rest of Europe. In that period the sea level would have been about 60 meters below its current level. This implies that there would have been a great coastal plain, with large flood-prone areas, in which the footprints discovered in mid-2020 would have been made.

The site’s new dating also affects the vertebrate animals found, since the hominin traces there also included footprints of large mammals such as straight-tusked elephants, gigantic bulls (aurochs) and boars. It was the fauna that inhabited what is today Doñana National Park 300,000 years ago and not 100,000 years ago, as earlier reported.

The Chibanian includes the transition in palaeoanthropology from the Lower to the Middle Palaeolithic, which includes the emergence of modern humans between 300,000 and 400,000 years ago. As of 2016, the oldest known human DNA dates to the Middle Pleistocene, around 430,000 years ago. 

Friday, November 4, 2022

Effects of the Tonga-Hunga Eruption

(Image not to scale.) The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai eruption on Jan. 15, 2022, caused many effects. Some of those effects, like extreme winds and unusual electric currents were picked up by NASA’s ICON mission and ESA’s (the European Space Agency) Swarm. Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Mary Pat Hrybyk-Keith

On 20 December 2021, an eruption began on Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai, a submarine volcano in the Tongan archipelago in the southern Pacific Ocean. The eruption reached a powerful climax on 15 January when it sent a tsunami racing around the world and set off a sonic boom that circled the globe twice. 

The underwater eruption blasted an enormous plume of water vapor into Earth’s stratosphere. The plume sent enough water into the upper layers of the atmosphere to fill 58,000 Olympic-size swimming pools. That’s nearly four times the amount of water vapor that scientists estimate the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines lofted into the stratosphere.

The height of the plume can reveal how much ice was sent into the stratosphere and where ash particles were released. The height is also critical for aviation safety because volcanic ash can cause jet engine failure.

The Tonga volcanic eruption created a plume of ash and water so strong it reached the mesosphere, about 50-80 km above Earth’s surface, where meteors and meteorites usually burn up. 

Researchers seek to understand the impact the eruption might have on Earth's climate. Massive volcanic eruptions like Krakatoa and Mount Pinatubo typically cool Earth’s surface by ejecting gases, dust, and ash that reflect sunlight back into space. The Tonga volcano did not inject large amounts of aerosols into the stratosphere, and the huge amounts of water vapor from the eruption may have a small, temporary warming effect, since water vapor traps heat.

The eruption of Tonga-Hunga produced a 6-acre island in the Pacific Ocean. The new island is likely to disappear due to volcanic rock degradation caused by the erosion of the waves. According to NASA, islands created by submarine volcanoes are often short-lived, though they occasionally persist for years. For example, an island formed by a 12-day eruption from nearby Late'iki Volcano in 2020 washed away after two months, while an island created in 1995 by the same volcano remained for over two decades.

Monday, September 19, 2022

The Brunswick Magnetic Anomaly


The Brunswick Magnetic Anomaly is a belt of volcanic rocks that formed around 200 million years ago at the time when the Atlantic Ocean took shape. The ribbon of rock is buried about 9 to 12 miles below the surface. It snakes from Alabama across Georgia, and offshore to North Carolina's Outer Banks.

It is believed that the Brunswick Magnetic Anomaly was created when the crusts of Africa and North America were yanked apart. As North America broke from Pangaea, deep troughs formed along the line of separation. These troughs filled with thick layers of coarse red sandstones, conglomerates, shales, and other nonmarine sediments. Similar sediment-filled troughs (called "rift valleys") occurred along North America’s east coast, from Georgia to Nova Scotia, Canada.

Though North America's east coast is relatively quiet now, clues to these ancient tectonic collisions remain buried deep underground. Using special instruments, geophysicists can discover important information about the large-scale motion of Earth’s outermost shell by determining the source of distinct striped magnetic anomalies.

The Brunswick Magnetic Anomaly may mark the original collision zone between the African and North American plates. At least part of this belt of volcanic rock may represent a suture between the plates east of Georgia.