Ash and Ice

A number of scientists have suggested that melting ice in the Arctic and rising Arctic temperatures may have as much to do with ash deposits (mainly from man-made combustion) than from other causes.  In particular, plants in China are not well-designed to capture the combustion by-products as well as we do here in the US.  Mike Smith has an interesting set of photos of the quite rapid melting effect ash can have on snow pack. 

There is actually good news here.  The problem with CO2 abatement (vs. abatement of about any other pollutant you can think of) is that CO2 is fundamental to the combustion process.  We can eliminate most of the SO2 or ash pollution from coal burning, but not the CO2.  As I posted just yesterday, I would love to see an effort to clean up the Chinese coal plants — this ash issue is just another reason.  Unfortunately, global warming alarmists are working against this goal.  First, they focus attentino on getting China to get rid of coal plants altogether, a non-starter.  But second, warming alarmists don’t want the Chinese to clean up their coal plants, because they fear that this would make it politically easier for them to keep them running.

  • Doug

    I love this simple tested devised by Mike Smith. It passes my “it makes sense” test. Taking such a concept to a macroscopic level, it is therefore reasonable to assume that airborne soot could definitely result in faster-melting snow cover. However, this is a far cry from deducing that CO2 is the root cause of the increased snow melt.

  • matt

    Have any of you guys hear what the New Jersey Nets are doing to in the fight against global warming? Not only are there games now carbon-neutral, but they traded Jason Kidd to the Dallas Maveriks for the a “better environment” also. Julianne Waldron explained to the media that Kidd was giving off to much Carbon dioxide. “Jason Kidd always hustles when he is on the basketball court, and we all admire that greatly. But all of that running up and down the court, pushing the team out on fastbreaks, expending extra energy just to make a few extra points and possibly win a game, caused all of the players to breathe a great deal more heavily and thereby expel extra amounts of carbon dioxide into the air, and we all know that is bad for the environment. We made the difficult decision to trade Kidd in order to save the planet.” Check out this article I found on it Environmental Activism is the Key to the Current Success of the New Jersey Nets

  • Scientist

    Sure, it makes sense as a mechanism. But is there any evidence for deposits of sufficient magnitude to be causing the degree of ice loss seen?

    By the way I don’t think you have any real idea of what environmentalists actually seek. You just make suppositions based on your own prejudices.

  • Mike

    I’m glad you’ve mentioned that CO2 is fundamental to combustion. If you’ve mentioned it in the past, I’ve missed it.

    I often read the paper, finding more and more articles about how to fight CO2 emissions from not only power plants, but also in vehicles. A reader would be left to believe that CO2 was a pollutant, and the only one at that!

    The fact of the matter is automobile engines, with their emissions control technology, emit very little actual pollution. Just consider my old VW Beetle. It’s so dirty, the emissions station measures the content of HC in PPM, and CO in percent. Newer cars, older than 1996, however are measured in “grams/mile”. Cars built since 1996 with OBD II are able to detect failing emissions on their own with O2 sensors.

    The fact of the matter is that CO2 is a byproduct of combustion. When engines are made cleaner, or emissions control equipment is used on these engines, the result is that the HC and CO, as well as the SO2 are all converted to some form of CO2 and H2O. Why? Because ideal combustion produces CO2.

  • Peter Ravenscroft

    Not just coal ash. A huge amount of flaring off is done, by Russia, Alaska and Canada, in the Arctic coast oil and gas fields and part of the result is black carbon soot. The Russians used to spray such soot from aircraft, to speed up the late snow melts for agriculture, rumour has it.

    To digress, but perhaps it will help all the other questioning a tad. If C02 ever leaked from the deep ice cores during the last 800,000 years, the carbon dioxide levels we infer from the Vostok and Dome Concordia deep ice cores, for the interglacial peaks will probably seriously under-read. If so, this may be a perfectly normal interglacial peak. As those and the glacials come and go in delayed lockstep with changes in the vertical component of the magnetic moment of the Earth, for the last 800,000 years at least also, our and our cows efforts may be trivial. The oceans may be chemically buffering all of our carbon emissions without even noticing the effort. Last, the unexpected sea level rise this past 40 years has a bit to do with 50 million centrifugal pumps dropping the aquifers – the volumes match very well.

    We are about to trash a good chunk of the human economy on the tentative interpretations about long past trace gas levelss, from just two experimental drillholes. Here come the thin air burial societies, aka the trace gas sequestration folk. We sure are a curious monkey.

    If that lot turns out to be true, you read it here first. I hope. No reason to waste fossil fuels though, or not to clean up the emmisions. Fresh air is fine stuff, the good folk of industrial China should have their fair share too. But our real problems may be more in the tree and fish and groundwater loss departments.

    Hooroo. Don’t get too gloomy, all. It might stop the sunlight penetrating.

    Peter Ravenscroft
    Closeburn, Queensland, Oz. p.s.ravenscroft@gmail.com. If you would like to get back, you are welcome, whatever the viewpoint. There is detail on the above.

  • TDK

    Forgive my poor memory but during the 1970s “global cooling” scare, I recall reading an article suggesting that coal dust be spread over the polar regions to warm up the poles and hence the freezing planet.