Saturday, April 25, 2015

Arctic Sea Ice Not Melting in 2015

Subtitle:  Where Is All The Heat That Melts The Ice?

Arctic sea-ice extent, 4/22/2015, Red line is 2015
source: NORSEX SSM/I
One of the interesting aspects of being a global warming skeptic is observing the data that cannot be easily falsified, fabricated, adjusted, or plain made-up.   As readers of SLB will know, my view of the entire Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) issue is that there is zero cause for alarm from warming.  There is, however, genuine reason for concern over global cooling.   

The graph at the right shows a close-up of sea-ice extent data from NORSEX for the past few years, with the red line indicating extent for 2015  (see link).  What caught my attention is the relative flat-ness of the red line, compared to most of the earlier years.  The graph shows ice extent in millions of square kilometers on the vertical axis.  The horizontal axis shows time in approximately 10 day increments (three increments for each month), with January 1 at the far left. 

Is this normal, or unprecedented?   Careful inspection of the graph shows that the light green line, representing the data for 2011, also had a similar flat trend over the same period.  Therefore, the flat trend for this year has a precedent.  

One can also speculate on the reasons for the ice not melting at the "normal" rate, where "normal" is provided by the blue dotted line.  The blue dots represent the monthly average of the period 1979 - 2006.   The slope of the blue dotted line from the maximum (roughly March 10th) to April 22 is (very roughly estimated) 15 million to 14 million, or a decrease of 1 million square kilometers.  Yet this year, only (roughly) one-third that amount of ice melted.    Could the reason be that CO2 in the atmosphere is not getting the job done?   Are there clouds over the Arctic this year, preventing solar heat from hitting the ice?   Are the ocean currents that enter the Arctic colder than usual this year?   Is the black carbon soot that normally falls on the ice absent this year?    Perhaps the Arctic winds are not blowing the ice floes to the south, where they meet warmer waters and melt.  

I don't know the answer or answers.  What I do know is that the ice is not melting this year, at least not at the historic rate.  

Roger E. Sowell, Esq. 
Marina del Rey, California
Copyright (c) 2015 by Roger Sowell

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Nuclear Plant May Have Unsafe Steel

Subtitle:  France May Have Installed Unsafe Steel In Flamanville Reactor

Several recent articles, including this one from BBC (see link), and this from RT (see link) state that the new nuclear power plant under construction in France's Flamanville complex has reactor vessel components with high carbon content; making the steel weaker than it should be.  
EPR Reactor Vessel for Flamanville, France

From the BBC article:

"In a joint statement, Areva and EDF said new tests were under way on the "reactor vessel head and bottom".

"It said this followed initial tests which had shown "greater than average carbon content" - something French regulators said caused "lower than expected mechanical toughness" in the steel."

This nuclear plant is the new, 1600 MWe EPR design, or European Pressurized Reactor.  Another EPR is under construction at Olkiluoto, Finland.   The planned new reactor at UK's Hinkley Point is to also have the same EPR design.   

Not having access to the laboratory test reports for the reactor components at Flamanville, it is not possible to assess the problem.  However, a few comments are in order. 

First, what quality control measures are in place that would allow such steel to be fabricated and installed?   It would appear that French regulators are remiss in their duty to ensure only acceptable materials of construction are used. 

Next, what impacts will occur if (and when) the reactor is rejected as unsafe?  How long will a new reactor require for fabrication and installation?    What will be the cost impacts?  Will the plant be finished, or abandoned as hopelessly costly?   Alternatively, can the reactor be modified at this time and made safe?  What will be the cost and schedule impacts of such modifications?

Next, what impact will there be on future plants?  Is the reactor at Olkiluoto made of the same steel?  The Hinkley Point EPR reactors are also stated as made from the same steel.  

Roger E. Sowell, Esq. 
Marina del Rey, California USA

copyright (c) 2015 by Roger Sowell