Daily Archives: August 18, 2011

Gas drilling wastewater disposal to receive greater scrutiny

Gas drilling activities generate wastewater. Typically, such water is transported for disposal at a municipal wastewater treatment plant.

Pennsylvania state regulators have taken action to discourage or block gas drilling by prohibiting disposal of wastewater at 15 wastewater treatment plants in western Pennsylvania. Their concern is the potential contribution of bromide to sources of drinking water which could increase trihalomethane (THM) formation in downstream drinking water systems. Of course, there are many sources of bromide, and THMs can be high regardless of whether bromide is present. 

Of course, gas drilling wastewater could be treated separately or pretreated, at a higher cost to the driller. Click here for news article.

Lindzen and Choi 2011: On the Observational Determination of Climate Sensitivity and Its Implications

An important followup study from their 2009 paper that corrects noted deficiencies. Among other conclusions, the authors now state:

“We have corrected the approach of Lindzen and Choi (2009), based on all the criticisms made of the earlier work (Chung et al., 2010; Murphy, 2010; Trenberth et al., 2010). First of all, to improve the statistical significance of the results, we supplemented ERBE data with CERES data, filtered out data noise with 3-month smoothing, objectively chose the intervals based on the smoothed data, and provided confidence intervals for all sensitivity estimates. These constraints helped us to more accurately obtain climate feedback factors than with the original use of monthly data. Next, our new formulas for climate feedback and sensitivity reflect sharing of tropical feedback with the globe, so that the tropical region is now properly identified as an open system. Last, the feedback factors inferred from the atmospheric models are more consistent with IPCC-defined climate sensitivity than those from the coupled models. This is because, in the presence of cloud-induced radiative changes altering SST, the climate feedback estimates by the present approach tends to be inaccurate. With all corrections, the conclusion still appears to be that all current models seem to exaggerate climate sensitivity (some greatly). Moreover, we have shown why studies using simple regressions of ΔFlux on ΔSST serve poorly to determine feedbacks.

Lindzen, R.S., and Y.-S. Choi. 2011. On the Observational Determination of Climate Sensitivity and Its Implications. Asia-Pacific J. Atmos. Sci., 47(4), 377-390, 2011 DOI:10.1007/s13143-011-0023-x.

Click here for the paper on the primary author website.

Abstract:  We estimate climate sensitivity from observations, using the deseasonalized fluctuations in sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and the concurrent fluctuations in the top-of-atmosphere (TOA) outgoing radiation from the ERBE (1985-1999) and CERES (2000-2008) satellite instruments. Distinct periods of warming and cooling in the SSTs were used to evaluate feedbacks. An earlier study (Lindzen and Choi, 2009) was subject to significant criticisms. The present paper is an expansion of the earlier paper where the various criticisms are taken into account. The present analysis accounts for the 72 day precession period for the ERBE satellite in a more appropriate manner than in the earlier paper. We develop a method to distinguish noise in the outgoing radiation as well as radiation changes that are forcing SST changes from those radiation changes that constitute feedbacks to changes in SST. We demonstrate that our new method does moderately well in distinguishing positive from negative feedbacks and in quantifying negative feedbacks. In contrast, we show that simple regression methods used by several existing papers generally exaggerate positive feedbacks and even show positive feedbacks when actual feedbacks are negative. We argue that feedbacks are largely concentrated in the tropics, and the tropical feedbacks can be adjusted to account for their impact on the globe as a whole. Indeed, we show that including all CERES data (not just from the tropics) leads to results similar to what are obtained for the tropics alone – though with more noise. We again find that the outgoing radiation resulting from SST fluctuations exceeds the zero feedback response thus implying negative feedback. In contrast to this, the calculated TOA outgoing radiation fluxes from 11 atmospheric models forced by the observed SST are less than the zero feedback response, consistent with the positive feedbacks that characterize these models. The results imply that the models are exaggerating climate sensitivity.