HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Science » Science (Group) » We May Have Hit The Annua...

Sun Apr 26, 2020, 04:10 PM

We May Have Hit The Annual Maximum CO2 Observatory at Mauna Loa Unusually Early This Year.

As I've indicated many times before, somewhat obsessively I keep a spreadsheet of the weekly data at the Mauna Loa Carbon Dioxide Observatory, which I use to do calculations to record the dying of our atmosphere, a triumph of fear, dogma and ignorance that did not have to be, but nonetheless our atmosphere is dying.

In my last post touching on this point, this one, I wrote:

Over the next few weeks, through some week in May I'll be recycling text related to this topic of setting new weekly records for the concentration of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide concentrations in the planetary atmosphere, just changing the numbers to accommodate the numbers associated with the records.

The record set then, for the week beginning April 5, 2020, was 416.45 ppm, 3.78 ppm higher than the same week of the previous year.

If we look at the data from this week, and from last week (416,27 ppm) as well, we will see that both are lower than the figure observed on April 5.

Here is this week's data:

Weekly average CO2 at Mauna Loa

Week beginning on April 19, 2020: 415.88 ppm
Weekly value from 1 year ago: 413.71 ppm
Weekly value from 10 years ago: 393.25 ppm
Last updated: April 26, 2020

The difference for this week's reading compared to last year of the same week, 2.17 ppm is very close to the average of these readings in the 21st century, which is 2.16 ppm. The average for these readings for the 20th century, going back to 1975 was 1.54 ppm in comparison to the same week of the previous years.

I took a look at the data going back 44 years, to discover the earliest dates of annual peaks, and found that there were six times in the last 30 years in which the peak occurred in April, eight such years overall. April 5, if this date holds for this year, is the second earliest date, marking the beginning of a peak week, at which the peak has ever occurred. The earliest peak date was a peak set in April 4, 1999. It is effectively same week of the current observation owing to calendar fluctuations. The previous year, 1998, was until 2016, the record setting year for carbon dioxide increases, 2.93 ppm over 1997. Two readings in this decade, 2015 and 2016, superseded that record, both coming in at 2.99 ppm over the previous year. 2018 reached 2.83 ppm.

In 1998, the peak was reached on the week of May 24, 1998, when it reached the (then) disturbing level of 369.94.

In 1980, the peak arrived on the week of June, 1, 1980, the latest date recorded for such a peak. In that week, the peak value was 340.61 ppm. Except for some then obscure academics, including some who may have been aware of Arrhenius's prediction of climate change in the 19th century, no one probably thought much about that number.

Why, if it holds, the peak came so early this year is unknown. One may surmise that it is an effect of the severe restrictions placed on the car CULTure brought on by the Covid-19 catastrophe. We have been living with reduced access to our precious cars, as people always deign to inform me, without which we cannot live. Even with restrictions on our cars, it does seem to me that many of us are still alive, but perhaps that will change.

Another possibility is that as a result of climate change, spring is arriving earlier in the Northern Hemisphere, as carbon dioxide readings continue each year to decline through September before beginning to rise again. However a survey of the data shows that an April peak was observed as early as 1986, on the week of April 27, 1986, when the concentration of carbon dioxide was 350.71.

It is therefore difficult to say what this early peak occurred this year, only that it did.

At the Mauna Loa CO2 Observatory website the following is written about the effect of Covid-19 on climate change, which is a fair statement:

Can we see a change in the CO2 record because of COVID-19?
There have been many inquiries whether we can see in our CO2 measurements at Mauna Loa and elsewhere the slowdown in CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. That drop in emissions needs to be large enough to stand out from natural CO2 variability caused by how plants and soils respond to seasonal and annual variations of temperature, humidity, soil moisture, etc. These natural variations are large, and so far the "missing" emissions do not stand out, but we may see them as the year progresses. Here is an example: If emissions are lower by 25%, then we would expect the monthly mean CO2 for March at Mauna Loa to be lower by about 0.2 ppm. When we look at many years of the difference between February and March we expect March to be higher by 0.74 ppm, but the year-to-year variability (one standard deviation) of the difference is 0.40 ppm. This year the difference is 0.40 ppm, or 0.33 below average, but last year it was 0.52 ppm below average.

Most of the emissions come from urban areas, so that it may be easier to see the effect downwind of cities, although also in that case they need to stand out from natural variations. Only measurements of carbon-14 in CO2 would enable us to cleanly separate fossil sources of CO2 from ecosystem sources and sinks regardless of how variable the latter are.

If any of these figures disturb you, don't worry, be happy. Cruise around the internet to find any of zillions of web pages talking all about how great solar energy is and how it will save the day.

It hasn't saved the day; it isn't saving the day; and it won't save the day, but it's the thought that counts.

Have a pleasant Sunday evening; stay healthy; stay safe.

5 replies, 993 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 5 replies Author Time Post
Reply We May Have Hit The Annual Maximum CO2 Observatory at Mauna Loa Unusually Early This Year. (Original post)
NNadir Apr 2020 OP
lapfog_1 Apr 2020 #1
StevieM Apr 2020 #2
NNadir Apr 2020 #3
StevieM Apr 2020 #4
NNadir Apr 2020 #5

Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sun Apr 26, 2020, 04:21 PM

1. Welcome to a world without humans

or at least greatly reduced human activity.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to NNadir (Original post)

Mon Apr 27, 2020, 03:49 PM

2. I have a question for you.

I know that you are big fan of DME. I recently learned about OME1. What is your opinion of OME1 as a potential fuel?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to StevieM (Reply #2)

Mon Apr 27, 2020, 05:18 PM

3. I actually wrote extensively on OMEn type compounds in this space.

Unfortunately the links the original graphic objects are broken, but the text is here: A Detailed Thermodynamic Accounting of a Route to Obtaining World Motor Fuels from Solar and Wind.

The OMEn type fuels are all essentially acetal polymers of formaldehyde. An advantage for them over DME is that they require no pressure to liquify. That said, the critical temperature of DME is very high, so liquefaction is not all that challenging.

They are less flexible than DME, inasmuch as DME can replace dangerous diesel fuel, dangerous natural gas, dangerous LNG, dangerous gasoline, dangerous LPG, etc.

There are many partial electrolytic paths to the production of formaldehyde from carbon dioxide, but as I often point out, electricity is a thermodynamically degraded form of energy and any path to energy storage proceeding through electricity is likely to be a thermodynamic nightmare.

The OMEn ethers, including OME1 are not necessarily bad fuels; they have some attractive features, as does DMC (dimethylcarbonate), inasmuch as they lack carbon-carbon bonds and are less likely to produce particulates, although particulates can form via various mechanisms, particularly Boudouard type reactions. (I came across a nice paper a week or so back on PAH's formed from fuels of this nature, including DME.) They may be useful as additives and hybrid fuels, for example to reduce the pressurization requirement for DME, although again, the pressure demands are not all that challenging.

Either DME or OMEn (including OME1) are likely to be much cleaner than batteries; that much is certain.

It's not that OMEn fuels are bad; they're just not, in my opinion, quite up to DME's level in terms of the utilization of heat energy to make flexible fuels.

I hope this helps.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to NNadir (Reply #3)

Mon Apr 27, 2020, 05:34 PM

4. This helps a lot. Thank you so much for taking time to answer my question.

Last edited Mon Apr 27, 2020, 09:29 PM - Edit history (1)

The reason I asked about OME1 is actually because I read something that you referred to. An article made it sound like there might be some challenges in terms of the pressurization requirement.

Here is what I read:

"... as a liquefied gas in pressure tanks, DME has considerable disadvantages compared with conventional fuels in the established fuels logistics process. That is why the search is on for high-molecular and therefore liquid ethers that can be produced form methanol.

The simplest representatives of these compounds are the easily accessible oxymethylene ethers (OME)."

And also:

"Both DME and OME1 produce almost no particulates, and also share characteristics with diesel fuel that are expected to make conversion of diesel engines possible with comparable performance. It is estimated that DME from renewable energy sources could offer well-to-wheel emissions of about 3 g/km CO2.

Like liquefied petroleum gas, DME must be stored in a slightly pressurized tank. OME1 can be stored in a conventional tank system. The DME-powered engines are expected to benefit from almost soot-free combustion, higher thermal efficiency and excellent cold start properties."


The article is actually pretty short and to the point.

Anyway, I was just wondering about that because a few things I read indicated that some people felt that OME1 had properties that made it more advantageous, in some ways, than DME. I didn't even realize that you could use it as an additive to DME.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to StevieM (Reply #4)

Tue Apr 28, 2020, 05:46 AM

5. Another issue is environmental.

DME is easy to remove from water in the case of spills simply by aeration. The atmospheric lifetime is about 5 days, meaning it has a negligible greenhouse gas potential. It is also non-toxic except in very large amounts. (It's physiological effects are rather like ethyl ether, it is something of an anesthetic.)

By contrast, OMEn ethers are difficult to remove from water, although, like DME, fairly miscible in it. The formation of acetals is reversible, meaning that they can be expected to release formaldehyde - which is toxic - and also methanol which is also toxic. Since these acetals are reversed by acid treatment, drinking water containing a OMEn fraction can result in the generation of formaldehyde and methanol in the stomach if ingested, not a good thing.

A large spill of OMEn might well be catastrophic and more difficult to clean up than an oil spill, inasmuch at least oil is immiscible and some can be removed with booms and the like.

I do have a difference of opinion with the "Green Car Congress" about what is and is not "green."

Again, in comparison to drawbacks, the need for slight pressurization is trivial compared to toxicology. We know from experience that any fluid fuel can and will leak into the environment, either in catastrophes like Exxon Valdez, or leakage.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread