Dan's Wild Wild Science Journal
Welcome at » 2010 » May

Model data from the MM5 model we use in the weather office. The arrows are surface wind vectors. The southerly flow will push the oil toward the coast over the next few days.

The oil gets closer. One report has it less than 17 miles off of Dauphin Island Al. The model guidance is all showing a south to SW flow at the surface and this will push the oil in a NE direction. NOAA’s ocean current models are similar.

Forecast of oil at Noon Tuesday. Black line is the uncertainty envelope. Click image for larger version- from NOAA

See the previous post for more on the oil and related info. Samantha Joy is a scientist with the Univ. of Georgia who is on the scene collecting data. She has an exc. blog with information on what is being seen beneath the surface.


Oil slick forecast for Noon Tuesday 1 June. Click for full res. ctsy NOAA

Word has it that the oil slick is now just 17 miles off the sugar white sandy beaches of Dauphin Island, Alabama. The ocean currents push the oil and the winds push the ocean. It looks like the oil will be getting very close to the Alabama Coast in the next day or two.

In the summer a large high pressure cell develops off the East Coast of America. Meteorologists call it the Bermuda High. It actually moves around a bit, but it consistently brings a fairly strong southerly flow to the Gulf Coast region. As this high develops the winds will likely spread the oil slick over a much broader area than has been affected so far.

The latest projections from NOAA are hinting at the oil spreading Northward as well.

There is some closely related news worth mentioning as well. Physicist Joe Romm (MIT) has a fascinating guest post on Climate Progress from Craig Severance on Peak Oil. It seems very likely that we have reached it or soon will.

This is profound. If it’s true ( and a LOT of experts are now coming to the same conclusion. The U.S. Defense Dept. as well.) then the World we know is about to change dramatically. With demand for oil rising and the supply falling, the price will skyrocket. Severance says the fact that the easy oil to get to is already gone is why we have the disaster in the Gulf.

Oil Production forecast from ENERGY WATCH

He also predicts that as the prices rise there will be intense pressure to destroy forests and the ANWAR to get every last drop. Even at the risk of more incidents like what is happening 300 miles to my south as I write this post. The crowd demanding cheap oil and cheap food will indeed be loud, but I choose to beleive that a more educated viewpoint will eventually win the day.

What is interesting is that Craig Severance and James Hansen are saying the same thing. We have to switch to natural gas as a stop gap and begin a crash program to convert to sources of renewable energy. Hansen’s book Storms of My Grandchildren is a MUST read. In his book he also mentions Tom Blees’ book Prescription for The Planet. Another must read.

Physicist Richard Muller of UC Berkeley seems to agree today if the interview with him on MSNBC was accurate.

Blees’ book is mainly about the 4th generation nuclear power plants which can solve the problems of air pollution, climate change, and nuclear waste all at once. I find it amazing that this program was canceled by the Clinton administration.

If Severance and the others are right, then the days of cheap transport and even cheaper cheeseburgers are over. (do read his post linked above to understand why). You may not like it but it’s likely true. Covering the beaches of the World with oil and mowing down most of the remaining forests on the planet to squeeze the black gold out of shaley rock beds will not fix the problem or even hold it off long.

We CAN have cheap transport and cheap cheeseburgers, but not using oil to grow the beef and to drive to the burger joint.

The oil economy is coming to an end and if we don’t make the switch to something more sustainable, it will be an economic and environmental catastrophe.

Heard of Christopher Monckton? He inherited the title of LORD, so you may have heard the name Lord Monckton.

He travels around the world with a very slick slide show telling everyone who will listen that climate change is a big hoax and that all the worlds scientific bodies have it all wrong.

He has no background at all in any field of science and despite having the seal of Britain’s House of Lords on EVERY slide, he is NOT a member of that body.

I’ve only seen a few video clips of his little show and knew enough to realize this buffoon knew nothing about science. Why waste my time?

Unfortunately he has a ready and willing audience for his message. People will give time and money to have their viewpoint reinforced, no matter how crackpot it is.

Enter John Abraham. He is a professor of fluid mechanics and heat transfer at the University of St. Cloud in Minnesota. He sat through a video of Monckton’s entire presentation. (Sometimes doing good science can be painful.)

He then put together a slide presentation that debunked each slide one by one. Except he used REAL science. You know, stuff you have to source and get through peer review.

Click to see Professor Abraham's presentation

After watching Abraham’s debunking, one is left with only two possible conclusions about Monckton’s propaganda. Either he is stunningly incompetent in his research or deliberately manipulating scientific graphs and information. Perhaps both, you will have to decide.

Perhaps Charles Pierce is right. Stupidity IS becoming a virtue in the land of the free…

Abraham notes that Monckton is very convincing and that his British accent tends to imply knowledge to many Americans. He is also correct that the average person has not the time or perhaps the scientific literacy to check that his claims are correct.

None of them are of course. None…

Note June 4 2010:

George Monbiot of the Guardian has a column that pretty much shows how deluded Monckton and his followers really are.


Satellite images do not see the oil slick in the Gulf very well. IF the sun angle is just right you can see some of it, and it’s huge. The CBS tonight showed a different view. The oily water is slightly cooler than the regular Gulf water. The oil slick shows up well in the Infrared spectrum.

This comes as there is growing evidence the attempt to stop the oil gusher by pumping mud into the well has failed…
The NYT has a good story on the rapid deployment of scientists to the area and what they are finding beneath the surface. This is one of those events that will change history and opinion…

I have had a TON of questions about the impact of a Gulf hurricane on the oil slick. The short answer to this is nobody really knows. NOAA has a short document out that covers the questions and what little IS known.

Good science here:

Click for the pdf.

More soon…

Current CO2 Level in the Atmosphere