Tuesday, August 22, 2017

GWPF Newsletter: India’s 50-Year Dry Spell Ends As Monsoons Strengthen Over Past 15 Years








Good News Ignored by Global News Media

In this newsletter:

1) India’s 50-Year Dry Spell Ends As Monsoons Strengthen Over Last 15 Years
India New England News, 8 August 2017
 
2) False Alarm: Climate Change Threatens India's Monsoons
The Daily Telegraph, 28 August 2009 


 
3) Madhav Khandekar: Floods and Droughts in the Indian Monsoon
Global Warming Policy Foundation, November 2014
 
4) Most Of Antarctic Ice Sheet Stable Despite Global Warming, New Study Confirms
Daily Mail, 18 August 2017
 
5) Andrew Montford: On The Impact Of The Gwpf
GWPF Comment, 21 August 2017
 
6) All-Time Record: Russian Harvest To Beat Soviet-Era Grain Record
Bloomberg, 21 August 2017
 
7) The Strange Rise Of Coal In The Middle East
John Everington, The National, 20 August 2017 


Full details:

1) India’s 50-Year Dry Spell Ends As Monsoons Strengthen Over Last 15 Years
India New England News, 8 August 2017
 
An MIT study published in Nature Climate Change finds that the Indian summer monsoons, which bring rainfall to the country each year between June and September, have strengthened in the last 15 years over north central India.


 
This heightened monsoon activity has reversed a 50-year drying period during which the monsoon season brought relatively little rain to northern and central India. Since 2002, the researchers have found, this drying trend has given way to a much wetter pattern, with stronger monsoons supplying much-needed rain, along with powerful, damaging floods, to the populous north central region of India.
 
A shift in India’s land and sea temperatures may partially explain this increase in monsoon rainfall. The researchers note that starting in 2002, nearly the entire Indian subcontinent has experienced very strong warming, reaching between 0.1 and 1 degree Celsius per year. Meanwhile, a rise in temperatures over the Indian Ocean has slowed significantly.
 
Chien Wang, a senior research scientist in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, the Center for Global Change Science, and the Joint Program for the Science and Policy of Global Change, says this sharp gradient in temperatures — high over land, and low over surrounding waters — is a perfect recipe for whipping up stronger monsoons.
 
“Climatologically, India went through a sudden, drastic warming, while the Indian Ocean, which used to be warm, all of a sudden slowed its warming,” Wang says.
 
“This may have been from a combination of natural variability and anthropogenic influences, and we’re still trying to get to the bottom of the physical processes that caused this reversal.”
 
Wang’s co-author is Qinjian Jin, a postdoc in the Joint Program for the Science and Policy of Global Change.
 
A theory drying up
 
The Indian monsoon phenomenon is the longest recorded monsoon system in meteorology. Measurements of its rainfall date back to the late 18th century, when British colonists established the country’s first weather observatories to record the seasonal phenomenon. Since then, the Indian government has set up several thousand rain gauges across the country to record precipitation levels during the monsoon season, which can bring little or no rain to some areas while deluging other parts of the country.
 
From these yearly measurements, scientists had observed that, since the 1950s, the Indian monsoons were bringing less rain to north central India — a drying period that didn’t seem to let up, compared to a similar monsoon system over Africa and East Asia, which appeared to reverse its drying trend in the 1980s.
 
“There’s this idea in people’s minds that India is going to dry up,” Wang says. “The Indian monsoon season is undergoing a longer drying than all other systems, and this created a hypothesis that, since India is heavily polluted by manmade aerosols and is also heavily deforested, these may be factors that cause this drying. Modeling studies also projected that this drying would continue to this century.”
 
A persistent revival
 
However, Wang and Jin found that India has already begun to reverse its dry spell. The team tracked India’s average daily monsoon rainfall from 1950 to the present day, using six global precipitation datasets, each of which aggregate measurements from the thousands of rain gauges in India, as well as measurements of rainfall and temperature from satellites monitoring land and sea surfaces.
 
Between 1950 and 2002, they found that north central India experienced a decrease in daily rainfall average, of 0.18 millimeters per decade, during the monsoon season. To their surprise, they discovered that since 2002, precipitation in the region has revived, increasing daily rainfall average by 1.34 millimeters per decade.
 
“The Indian monsoon is considered a textbook, clearly defined phenomenon, and we think we know a lot about it, but we don’t,” Wang says. “Here, we identify a phenomenon that was mostly overlooked.”
 
The researchers did note a brief drying period during the 2015 monsoon season that caused widespread droughts throughout the subcontinent. They attribute this blip in the trend to a severe El Niño season, where ocean temperatures temporarily rise, causing a shift in atmospheric circulation, leading to decreased rainfall in India and elsewhere.
 
“But even counting that dry year, the long-term [wetting] trend is still pretty steady,” Wang says.

More questions ahead
 
The team believes the current strong monsoon trend is a result of higher land temperatures in combination with lower ocean temperatures. While it’s unclear what is causing India to heat up while its oceans cool down, the researchers have some guesses.
 
Full story
 
Paper: A revival of Indian summer monsoon rainfall since 2002
 
2) False Alarm: Climate Change Threatens India's Monsoons
The Daily Telegraph, 28 August 2009 
 
The torrential rains of India's celebrated summer monsoon could soon be a thing of the past amid fears climate change is replacing the wet season with drought.
 

 
One of India's leading meteorologists has given warning that in Central India the "days of long duration rains are almost gone".
 
In a study of monsoon patterns in India over the last 150 years, BN Goswami, director of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, said global warming had made India's weather more unpredictable.
 
He said there were now longer dry spells and shorter sudden heavy showers, replacing the three month continuous rain which has characterised the Indian monsoon.
 
His comments will fuel fears that climate change will cause increasing hardship for farmers in India, where the failure of the monsoon has already reduced food output by 20 per cent. Ministers reduced the country's growth projection this year by just under two per cent as drought hit crops throughout the country.
 
The increasing failure of the monsoon has been attributed to a number of factors including temperatures rising by an average on 0.5 degrees Celsius over the last hundred years, receding Himalayan glaciers and rising sea levels. Intensive farming in land reclaimed from tropical forests in the south of India, and the irrigation of farmland in the dusty northern plains have also affected the monsoon, delaying its arrival from June into July.
 
Full story
 
3) Madhav Khandekar: Floods and Droughts in the Indian Monsoon
Global Warming Policy Foundation, November 2014


 
The floods and unfortunate deaths of several dozen people in the Kashmir region of India in September 2014 reignited the debate about increasing human emissions of carbon dioxide and their putative linkage to extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and heat waves. What is missing from many of the media reports and scientific publications on this subject is critical analysis of past weather extremes to determine if there has been an increase in recent years. In this brief report, past floods and droughts in the Indian monsoon are examined carefully and it is shown that such events have occurred throughout the excellent 200-year-long summer monsoon rainfall dataset. It is further documented that such floods and droughts are caused by natural variability of regional and global climate, and not by human carbon dioxide emissions. Improving our understanding of the inter-annual variability of the monsoon and the associated extremes may help reduce damage to infrastructure and loss of life in the future.

Full paper

 
4) Most Of Antarctic Ice Sheet Stable Despite Global Warming, New Study Confirms
Daily Mail, 18 August 2017
 
The central core of the East Antarctic ice sheet should remain stable even if the West Antarctic ice sheet melts, a new study has found.


 
The findings are significant, because some researchers predict the West Antarctic ice sheet could melt quickly due to global warming.
 
If the East Antarctic ice sheet, which is 10 times larger than the western ice sheet, were to melt, it would cause sea levels worldwide to rise almost 200 feet (60 meters).
 
Team members taking a short ice core to study properties of sediment coming from the East Antarctic ice sheet.  The research team found layers of sediment and rocks that built up over time, recording the flow of the ice sheet and reflecting climate change
 
The study, conducted by researchers based at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, was led by Dr Kathy Licht, an associate professor in the Department of Earth Sciences in the School of Science at IUPUI.
 
Dr Licht led a research team into the Transarctic Mountains in search of physical evidence that would verify whether the long-standing idea is still true: That the East Antarctic ice sheet is stable.
 
For a long time, the East Antarctic ice sheet has been considered relatively stable because most of the ice sheet was thought to rest on bedrock above sea level, making it less susceptible to changes in climate.
 
However, recent studies have shown widespread water beneath it and higher melt potential from encroaching ocean water.
 
By contrast, the West Antarctic ice sheet is a marine-based ice sheet that is mostly grounded below sea level, which makes it much more susceptible to changes in sea level and variations in ocean temperature.
 
Why The East Antarctic Ice Sheet Is More Stable
 
The West Antarctic ice sheet is a marine-based ice sheet that is mostly grounded below sea level, which makes it much more susceptible to changes in sea level and variations in ocean temperature than the East Antarctic Ice Sheet.
 
By contrast the East Antarctic ice sheet has been considered relatively stable because most of the ice sheet was though to rest on bedrock above sea level, making it less susceptible to changes in climate.
 
‘Some people have recently found that the East Antarctic ice sheet isn’t as stable as once thought, particularly near some parts of the coast,’ Dr Licht said.
 
Recent studies have found that the perimeter of the East Antarctic ice sheet is potentially more sensitive and that the ice may have retreated and advanced much more dynamically than was thought, Dr Licht said.
 
‘We believed this was a good time to look to the interior of the ice sheet,’ Dr Licht said.
 
‘We didn’t really know what had happened there.
 
After their expedition, the research team found evidence confirming the stability of the East Antarctic ice sheet at an altitude of 6,200 feet, about 400 miles from the South Pole at the edge of what’s called the polar plateau, a flat, high surface of the ice sheet covering much of East Antarctica.
 
Full story
 
5) Andrew Montford: On The Impact Of The GWPF
GWPF Comment, 21 August 2017
 
Amelia Sharman, a researcher at the LSE (although now moved on to pastures new) has written a number of papers about climate scepticism and, rare among people working in this area, is professional enough not to lard her papers with derogatory references to “deniers”. Her papers have attracted quite a lot of attention in the past.
 
Her latest publication is a comparative review of the impact of sceptics on climate policy in the UK and her native New Zealand, based on interviews with policymakers, civil servants, and academics. While it’s quite heavy going in places there are some fascinating insights. For example, one unnamed civil servant is quoted speaking darkly about
 
a highly-organised, very well-funded group…whose job it is to try and undermine everything the climate science community is doing.’
 
Does he mean us? Little old GWPF? They cannot be serious! The stories of a kind of Machiavellian fifth column, run with military precision on a limitless pot of big-oil funding, began in 2009 when GWPF was launched with two guys working out of a broom cupboard in Westminster. So it’s perhaps not surprising that now, with three full-time staff and an office that boasts windows, the idea of the great oil-funded conspiracy has taken hold in Whitehall (and this despite the fact that GWPF has repeated ad nauseam that it doesn’t accept funding from the energy industry or people with interests in it).
 
This is no doubt something to do with the fact that GWPF has had an impact. In fact, some of Sharman’s interviewees are convinced that GWPF is having a devastating effect both on government…
 
…most cabinet ministers remain unconvinced about climate science and warm to the GWPF’s position rather than the IPCC Fifth Assessment report
 
…and on public discourse…
 
[Groups such as the GWPF]  are loud and they get a lot of airtime
 
I suppose if you can think that three staff is a global conspiracy, then no doubt Nigel Lawson’s once-in-a-blue-moon appearance on the Today programme might look like “a lot of airtime”. And the policy machine seems quite put out that GWPF keeps mentioning the negative effect climate policy is having on the economy – or as some call it: “ordinary people’s livelihoods”.
 
It’s a fascinating look behind the scenes in Whitehall: there seems to be paranoia about a small group of dissidents,  and a certain amount of grumbling that anyone should care about Britain’s national economic interest. It’s actually rather disconcerting that people like this should be anywhere near the levers of power.
 
You can’t help but feel that your future is not in the safest of hands.
 
Full paper: Sharman A and Perkins R. Post-decisional logics of inaction: The influence of knowledge controversy in climate policy decision-making. Forthcoming in Planning and Environment APreprint.
 
6) Another Crop Record: Russian Harvest To Beat Soviet-Era Grain Record
Bloomberg, 21 August 2017
 
A quarter century after the collapse of the USSR, Russian farmers are finally poised to beat the record for grain production that the country set during the Soviet era.


 
The harvest will total at least 130.7 million metric tons this year on bumper wheat and corn crops, said Vladimir Petrichenko, director general of Moscow-based consultant ProZerno. That would push production 2.6 percent above the previous all-time high in 1978, a year before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan under leader Leonid Brezhnev.
 
Farmers will gather more wheat and corn than ever before, while the barley crop will be the largest since 2008, ProZerno figures show. Those estimates may go higher still as Siberia collects more grain, Petrichenko said by phone.
 
Estimates for the crop have been rising as ample rains spurred growth in European parts of the country, contrasting with dry conditions that have hurt crops in the U.S. and Canada. The gains cement Russia’s position as a top producer this year.
 
It’s expected to be the biggest wheat exporter in the 2017-18 season, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 
 
Full story
 
see also
 
Record U.S. soy harvest forecast could grow as weather improves
India Set For Best-Ever Foodgrain Production
Climate Chicken Littles Choke On Record Wheat Crop
Hottest Year? Record Breaking Grain & Corn Harvests In Russia And U.S.
Global wheat and rice harvests poised to set new record

 
7) The Strange Rise Of Coal In The Middle East
John Everington, The National, 20 August 2017 
 
In a region rich with oil, gas and solar power, but very few coal resources, the surge in coal is surprising. Despite gas prices being low at the moment, coal is cheaper still.
 

The proposed 2.4 gigawatt coal fired power station in Hassyan is close to Dubai’s border with Abu Dhabi and around 60 kilometres south-west of central Dubai. Courtesy ACWA Power

 
Coal is so unpopular in the US that they can’t even give it away. The governor of mining heartland West Virginia is petitioning President Donald Trump for a $15 per tonne subsidy for burning his coal. But remarkably in the Middle East, a region with almost no coal of its own, the demand for the black fuel is on the up.
Dubai’s solar successes have made the headlines, but a different kind of electricity generation is rising at Hassyan, on the coast beyond the site for Expo 2020. In November, a consortium of Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power and China’s Harbin Electric began building a 2.4 gigawatt coal power plant on the site.
 
The UAE’s energy strategy states coal will account for 12 per cent of the total national electricity generation by 2050, which translates into about 11.2GW. Beyond Dubai, Federal Electricity and Water Authority (Fewa) has planned a 1.8GW plant in the northern emirates, but it is not clear where the additional 7GW is expected to come from.
 
Egypt has imported coal since 2014 for industrial use, and North Africa’s most populous nation is planning to build a number of large-scale coal-fired power plants with Chinese investors. Abu Dhabi-based Al Nowais Investments Group, in 2014, also signed a deal for a 1.32 GW coal-fired plant on the Gulf of Suez.
 
Iran, which witnessed a coal mine blast in Golestan province in May in which more than 20 miners died, is pushing ahead with planned coal power plants, mostly in the coal-rich area of Tabas in the east, with Chinese involvement. Turkey, which already generates more than 16GW of power through coal, plans to build additional plants.
 
Jordan, whose energy strategy targets 5 per cent of power generation through coal by 2025, last June signed a deal for a small coal-fired plant, while Oman is looking to build coal-fired plant at its new port development of Duqm.
 
In a region rich with oil, gas and solar power, but very few coal resources, this surge is surprising. Most coal-dependent regions are moving away from it: China burns more than half of the world’s coal but consumption has been falling since 2013 as the country tries to clean up its skies. Cheap gas, solar and wind power are crushing coal in the US, while environmental regulations and low-priced gas imports are pushing it out of Europe as well. Even India is cancelling plans for giant new coal plants in favour of renewable energy.
 
The Middle Eastern countries that are looking at coal are trying to diversify their fuel mix, and to reduce vulnerability to economic or supply shocks. Gas is cheap at the moment but its price is volatile, and states such as Dubai, Egypt and Turkey do not want to be too import-dependent. For Dubai, which attracted a very competitive bid from Acwa and Harbin, coal is a key part of strengthening its negotiating position with other suppliers. Iran and Turkey are trying to maximise the use of their domestic coal, and for Turkey, reliance on rivals Iran and Russia for two-thirds of its gas is dangerous.
 
Despite gas prices being low at the moment, coal is cheaper still — at least once the required import facilities are constructed. Chinese power and engineering companies, looking for other markets, are offering their expertise and low-cost financing.
 
Most of these plants will be built with modern pollution controls, that trap sulphur dioxide, particulates, mercury and other toxic and acidic emissions. But they will still produce large quantities of carbon dioxide, the main factor responsible for global warming, working against the region’s efforts to cut emissions with solar and nuclear power and more efficient energy use. Some of the plants are intended to be “capture-ready”, that is to be able to trap carbon dioxide and dispose of it safely underground, but none plans to use carbon capture from the outset.
 
Full story


The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at www.thegwpf.com.

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