Monday, February 29, 2016

{5a} The Most Beautiful Graph on Earth - A. Hessler

This is Repost from my mud wrestling blog.  It's my attempt to systematically explore and describe this Global Heat and Moisture Distribution Engine that sustains us all.

In my next post I will try to summarize a paper by Angela Hessler "Earth's Earliest Climate".  But I thought this graph of their's deserves it's own post.  It's pretty fascinating particularly when also considering Earth's biological history. 

Okay, I'm not positive it's the "most" beautiful graph on Earth, beauty is in the eye of the beholder - but I am sure it's a fantastic window into the physical reality of our Earth and how the pageant of time has created the biosphere we humans take oh so for granted.  Hope to be back soon.

Earth's Earliest Climate
By: Angela M. Hessler (Chevron Energy Technology Company) © 2011 Nature Education 
Currently director of the  Deep Time Institute

thin red line, that drops dramatically and then has a couple spikes = Impact rate
doted red line = Solar luminosity
dark green line = CO2 
light green line = CH4 (methane)
red line = O2
blue line = Ocean surface temperature
Two vertical bands, in the Archean = earliest sedimentary rock formation (continent building)
Dark gray vertical bands = glacial episodes

(The moon would have formed shortly after accretion ended (the white bar), early in the Hadean)
(The reign of humanity would fit within tiniest vertical sliver at the far right end of this graph)

Citation: Hessler, A. M. (2011) Earth’s Earliest Climate. Nature Education Knowledge 3(10):24   
Lead Editor:  Figen Mekik



Wednesday, January 6, 2016
{1} Our Global Heat and Moisture Distribution Engine

Saturday, January 9, 2016
{2} Co-evolution of Minerals and Life | Dr Robert Hazen

Thursday, January 14, 2016
{3} Evolution of Carbon and our biosphere - Professor Hazen focuses on the element Carbon

Saturday, January 23, 2016
{4} Evolution-Considering Deep Time and a Couple Big Breaks

Saturday, February 6, 2016
{5a} The Most Beautiful Graph on Earth - A. Hessler

Sunday, February 7, 2016
{5b} Earth's Earliest Climate - By Angela Hessler

Sunday, February 14, 2016
{6} Evolution of Earth's Atmosphere - easy version

Thursday, February 18, 2016
{7} Our Global Heat and Moisture Distribution Engine, visualized

Friday, February 19, 2016
{8} Atmospheric Insulation Explained - appreciating our climate engine

Thursday, February 25, 2016

{4} Evolution-Considering Deep Time and a Couple Big Breaks

The poetry of evolution... we are born into a flowing river of time on a continually changing planet.  Today will never come again and tomorrow is the accumulation of all the days that came before.  

To understand the reality of what we are doing to our atmosphere and planet requires an appreciation of four and a half billion years worth of evolution happening one day at a time.  Step by step changes created this awesome biosphere most everyone seems to be taking oh so for granted these days.

To better appreciate evolution we need to understand "deep time" so I've included a couple short videos that try conveying the vast distance of time between us and then.

Very early in our Earth's life there were two key events that transformed our planet from just another conglomeration of rocks orbiting a star, to a place brimming with potential.

First there was the formation of our moon, followed by the cascading physical consequences of its extraordinary gravitational pull on Earth.  Since then, the moon has helped protect us from meteor collisions; helped stabilize the wobble of Earth's axis and our seasons.  In the early days, the near-in moon caused tremendous tidal churning, not only of the oceans, producing unimaginable waves accompanied by immense winds, but also of the Earth's crust and core itself.  

The ocean's early tidal waves hit proto continents like nothing we can image.  Back then (actual, like 90% of Earth's history) the only thing sculpting Earth was tectonics, gravity, water, wind and temperatures.  There was mountains and vast expanses of braided-stream tidal plains on growing continental shelves, that and huge endless oceans.  

Realize the early moon was very close, orbiting around a much faster spinning Earth.  With time the moon receded, all that drag slowed down Earth's orbit and the tides became increasingly toned down.

Still, imagine those early eons with intense currents and "tidal bore waves" that were dozens of meters tall, (if not hundreds, very early on), raging in and out for hundreds of miles, twice daily.  That was right here on this planet, it's an awesome thing to mull-around in your mind.  Almost like a global crushing plant in the first stages of mineral processing and refining.

Then there was the early formation of Earth's protective geomagnetic (force) field, that protects Earth from harsh Solar Wind.

Happy Learning

Deep Time

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

{3} Evolution of Carbon and our biosphere - Professor Hazen focuses on the element Carbon

This third installment of Considering our Global Heat and Moisture Distribution Engine series will be featuring a second Professor Robert Hazen talk.  In it he retraces the same ground as the previous lecture, but with a focus on the element carbon which turns out to be an outrageously interesting element/molecule worth spending a few moments learning about before moving on to the evolution of our atmosphere.

I believe this sort of background information will enable you to reply more effectively the next time some contrarian stooge tosses you that old standby: "The bottom line is that CO2 is at all-time lows going back five hundred million years."  Those trying to be especially sciencie, will flourish a graph looking like:

 "Ah ha, try explaining that one!"
"Today Earth is CO2 starved!"
And that's were they leave it. 
"CO2 was higher, ergo AGW is a hoax." 

End of argument, nothing else to talk about, all the while deliberately blinding themselves to the reality that atmospheric CO2 is higher than it's ever been during humanity's tenure on this planet.  

For me, it's immensely sad imagining people being satisfied with such a simpletons' one dimensional cartoon image of the physical world we come from and depend on.

The rational approach of the genuinely curious is to ask questions and try to understand what that graph is telling us.  Where did all that CO2 come from?  What was going on back then?  Why did it peak and then drop, then slightly rise again only to fade down hill again?  How does it relate to today's Earth? Where's that graph from (no citation was offered)?  What does the attached study discuss?  What's the margin of error in that data set? ect. All interesting stuff you need to know about before you begin to have any inkling of what's going on.  That's why we have experts, people who have committed themselves to full time study and reporting back to us regular folks.

Investigating those questions quickly reveals an amazing world of harmonic complexity and fascinating interconnected details most of us are unaware of.  

When it comes to Deep Time, we've discovered all sorts of fascinating facts about how important carbon was in our planet's history and the world we inhabit today.  But the amazement starts well before Earth, though I'll let Dr. Hazen explain it in his talk, "Unanswered Questions in Deep Carbon Research", which I've embedded, with time-signature notes, at the end of this introduction.

First, I want to take a moment on the original comment about extremely high CO2 levels in the past 600 million years and beyond.  There were good reasons for why those levels were so high and fluctuated the way they did and for how Earth's climate reacted.  

I invite you to consider that graph while reviewing some highlights in our biosphere's evolution.  Stuff that paved the way for the world humanity inhabits today.

Monday, February 15, 2016

{2} Co-evolution of Minerals and Life | Dr Robert Hazen

The goal of this series of posts is to share my own journey of fascinating discoveries that have helped me gain a realistic appreciation for this Earth I inhabit and the climate system that governs the biosphere all of us depend on.  I do this because too many faith-based people have totally disconnected from physical reality, they believe that the constructions of their imaginations have more power that the geophysical reality outside our abodes.  This has led to disastrous choices on many different levels.

If there's any hope to be found in the future it will come from individuals rediscovering the real physical planet we inhabit and honestly assessing how our society and it's runaway population have impacted our planet's biosphere and our future prospects.  

In the first post I shared the NOVA/PBS/NASA video "Earth From Space" which gave a nice overview of our dynamic planet and the incredibly complex web of connections that go into creating our biosphere.  Since I'm convinced an understanding of evolution is key to appreciating the world we inhabit, I'm beginning with some fundamental evolution stories.

I intended to start my review with our atmosphere's evolution, but in working on that post I realized there's an even more fundamental evolution to consider.  In this post will take it down to basic building blocks, namely a lecture given by Dr. Robert Hazen: "The Story of Earth: How Life and Rocks Co-Evolved".  

Incidentally many of the posts in this series will simply be an embedded excellent lecture by a leading authority followed by my time-signature notes on the lecture and further information for the curious and I will keep my opining to a minimum.

You can find the lecture notes and information regarding Dr. Robert M. Hazen and his work below this video.

CarnegieInstitution | 57:29 minutes | given February 20, 2014

Published on Jul 29, 2014 - CarnegieInstitution - 57:29 minutes
Dr. Robert Hazen, Carnegie Institution for Science, Geophysical Laboratory

Sunday, February 14, 2016

{1} Our Global Heat and Moisture Distribution Engine

Over at my mud wrestling blog What'sUpWithThatWatts et al I started a collection of YouTube videos and lectures describing various aspects and phases of our Earth's life story, evolution if you will, that I intent to mirror over here.

It's a reaction to my growing understanding of how many people out there have no genuine awareness of Earth's complexity and depth.  

Tragically, people who never ponder the reality that all we have today is the direct product of four and a half billion years of evolution, unfolding one magnificent day after another, lack the foundation to understand what we are doing to our planet and life support system these days.  It explains why we have so many profoundly ignorant and self-deluded politicians and 'masters of the universe' these days.

When I toss out a concept such our "Global Heat and Moisture Distribution Engine" it's blank faces all around.  Why?   I'm fearing listeners have no fundamental conception for the intricate interconnections between our evolving Earth, oceans and land masses.  Without that awareness, of course they'll never get it. 

After all, our atmosphere is the direct product of a fantastic evolutionary process that married geology and biology and took billions of years to unfold.  Without understanding how it got here, there's no way one can comprehend what we, collectively as a society, are doing to it and our children's future.

This is the first in a series of posts where I want to explore and describe this Global Heat and Moisture Distribution Engine that sustains us all.

For an introductory overview I will leave it to the NOVA/PBS/NASA video Earth From Space.  It isn't a complete review of our climate system, it's dedicated to looking at how all the natural forces that surround us come together to create the life sustaining biosphere on our one and only home planet.  Yet, it can't help but review a good deal of information about what's behind our global weather systems.

The documentary is a tour de force of our dynamic planet that I believe every curious student of life ought to watch and try to understand.  It would be wonderful seeing them produce a sequel that does focus on weather patterns and what drives them.  In the mean time I'll share the following video along with notes and appropriate links and time signature for easy reference.  

Please note, if viewing at YouTube you can link directly to a specific section of the video by adjusting the final digits of the url.  12:20 would be =12m20s
Feel free to copy and share the following notes.
Earth From Space Full HD Nova 

Published on Jul 15, 2014
YouTube channel Natural World 

The groundbreaking two-hour special that reveals a spectacular new space-based vision of our planet. Produced in extensive consultation with NASA scientists, NOVA takes data from earth-observing satellites and transforms it into dazzling visual sequences, each one exposing the intricate and surprising web of forces that sustains life on earth.

Featuring interviews with: 
Waleed Abdalati (NASA Chief Scientist):
Piers Sellers (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)
Emily Shuckburgh (deputy head, Polar Oceans Team, British Antarctic Survey
Jeff Halverson ( University of Maryland, Baltimore Campus, Meteorologist)
David Adamec (NASA Scientist)
Gene C. Feldman (NASA Oceanographer)
Charlie Bristow ( Birkbeck, University of London)
Holly Gilbert (NASA Solar Physicist)