Profile cover photo
Profile photo
Catherine Curtis
Catherine's posts

Post has attachment
Interesting article on how to read a scientific paper for beginners.

I admit while I do scribble notes in the margin I don't go through the all the steps the author recommends. I can count the number of times I've made diagrams on one hand. Nonetheless it's an excellent technique for beginner scientists :) 

Post has attachment

Post has attachment

Post has shared content
"The Nature Conservancy’s vision for Africa is rooted in the people, who have not always been at the table during planning for a sustainable future. Our success depends on involving local communities.

Why? The vast majority of Africa’s lands and waters are community property — shared resources that sustain some of the world's most iconic wildlife and most vulnerable people. Moreover, most of the wildlife lives or migrates beyond park and reserve boundaries onto these communal lands and waters.

Our conservation approach everywhere we work — projects in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia and the West Indian Ocean — focuses on helping local communities, governments and organizations conserve and enhance Africa's critical shared resources."

Explore videos, pictures and more on The Nature Conservancy's projects to conserve African habitats through an interactive map here:

More on The Nature Conservancy's efforts to protect habitats in Africa here:

Post has attachment

Post has attachment
Exploration Geology :)

Post has shared content
I see #ClimateChange is trending.  I get a little worked up about climate change, mainly because people on both sides of the ‘debate’ don’t actually read the damn research, and generally the layman’s (on both sides) knowledge of what the research shows is pathetic.  I’m a postgrad geochemistry student and I generally read more research papers in a weekend than typical science journalists do in a month and more than the average non-scientist in a lifetime.  I recently followed a conversation sparked by a Facebook comment with both sides pretty much throwing media reports at each other.  I decided to do something novel and throw some research papers around.  This is what I came up with during my extended lunch break.  A quick note on how to read this, quoted sections are bits where I’m quoting what the climate denialist typed in previous comments, I’m not just making up random quotes to make climate denialists seem ignorant and incredulous, they do that all on their own.
I’ve had a quick skim read over some of the comments before I joined in the discussion and I can spot a few misconceptions about climate change that the denialists blogosphere commonly promote.  I’ll attempt to correct the misconceptions that they spread.  I will attempt to make my points sighting only research papers that are freely downloadable, and I’m only going to provide one or two papers per point, but rest assured if I wanted to bury you in the research I could easily back this up with thousands of papers (this is not a boast or an over estimate, you can use Google Scholar and appropriate search terms to confirm this statement).  Many of the papers I will site are over a decade old, this is for two reasons, first to highlight that we’ve known this for a while and secondly because it’s difficult to find recent papers in freely available PDF’s for you J
Some of things I will no longer discuss is whether regulation related to climate change is justifiable, whether there is any sort of consensus, who believes in climate change and why, or who signed what petition.  These have nothing to do with the observable, measurable reality of climate change and they also have nothing to do with what is responsible for climate change.
“There are ample studies demonstrating that the current rise in temperature is primarily the result of increased solar output in conjunction with a decline in the strength of the magnetosphere, allowing in more solar radiation that breaks down atmospheric particles essential in cloud formation: reduced cloud formation makes for less rain and more solar radiation to warm land and (even more influential) oceans.”
In reality the sun’s magnetosphere is the main influence on earth’s cosmic ray budget but I digress.  We have a measured record of cosmic ray activity in earth’s atmosphere that takes the influence of earth’s magnetosphere into account [1], [2].  This is all part of known reality, you may not use the argument that climate change is because of an increase in cosmic ray activity in the atmosphere, this argument is provably wrong.  The statement “more solar radiation that breaks down atmospheric particles essential in cloud formation: reduced cloud formation makes for less rain and more solar radiation to warm land and (even more influential) oceans.” Is an incorrect, over simplification of reality, please read [3] to understand why. (it’s too long and complicated to cover on FB.
We have actually measured [4], [5] [6] and quantified the contribution of the sun to climate change [3], we factor in solar influence on observed warming and we can show evidence that the overwhelming majority of recent climate change is because of human activity.  Sorry, you can’t use the argument that the sun is responsible for recent climate change, that is provably wrong.
“Stop talking about "climate change" -- of course they all believe it's happening: it's always happening. And as I've already noted, everyone who knows anything about it knows it's warmed up slightly over the last 200 years after a prolonged cooling spell ("the mini ice age") of about 500 years. Where you'll find the dissent is on the question of "anthropogenic (man caused) global warming"”
I love this argument, and debunking it serves to highlight just how untenable the denialist position is.  We do indeed have a plethora of evidence for climate change in the past.  I can show you evidence of high O2/CO2 from the Permo-Carboniferous[7], I can show you climate change for the past 400 million years [8].  I can show you large scale climate change, for the last 40 million years the building of the Himalayas and associated increase in weathering and biological activity has significantly decreased atmospheric CO2 and global temperatures [9].  The ‘little ice age’, yea, it really happened, and it really was caused by solar activity [10].  I could bury you in thousands of papers but you should be getting the idea, we told you the climate changed in the past, and we measured the evidence and we came up with explanations for why the climate changed.
Using the exact same science we’ve also shown you that climate change over the past two hundred years was because of human activity [11], the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is because of us, we have measured it [12] [13], we also know what the biological inputs of CO2 are [14], hell it’s not even volcano’s [15]!  The increase in CO2 and methane over the last two hundred years is not natural.  You can’t accept the evidence that shows prehistoric climate change and accept the interpretations that it was caused by various natural forcing mechanisms, and not accept the evidence of anthropogenic climate change and the interpretations that it is cause by us.  We’re using the same evidence and interpretation, you either accept all of it or you reject all of it, you can’t cherry pick, that just highlights how biased climate denialists have to be in order to attempt to support their position.  The argument is:  Previous climate change is natural therefore current climate change is natural.  That’s a complete non sequitur, it ignores all the evidence.
To even consider that the atmospheric CO2 change over the last two centuries is natural ignores the obvious evidence.  At no point in earth history has δ13C changed so rapidly, natural variation is orders of magnitude lower. δ13C  dropped rapidly by 5‰ from 300-250Ma [7], over the past 25 million years it’s varied by less than 0.5‰ [16], over the past two centuries it’s changed by over 1‰ [13], there is simply no natural mechanism that could change atmospheric δ13C that much in less than tens of millions of years, forget about two centuries.  If you look at the rate of temperature change for the last two hundred years and compare it the last thousand, it’s obviously different.  It took 800 years for temperature to drop ~0.2 °C, and 200 to increase 0.8 °C [17], natural forcing just can’t push the rates that high, we’d have spotted the supervolcano or flood basalt by now.
The climate denialist blogs tactics are generally the same.  They always make claims like climate change science doesn’t know everything and there’s this massive debate.  If you bother to actually read the research (and by now you should be getting the idea that I do in fact read the research) you’ll notice that we quibble a few percentage points here and there, but the big picture is always the same, don’t take my word for it, read the papers I’ve sighted.  They’ll pretty often bring up some mighty exciting sounding scientific thing like the influence of cosmic ray’s on cloud formation, they do this in an attempt to sound like they legitimately know something about science, but as soon as you investigate any deeper and do the maths, it never, EVER adds up.  The problem is half the time the research they sight as bringing our understanding of climate change question has nothing to do with climate change and the rest of the time it’s contribution to climate change is negligible and we’ve already taken it into account (see my debunking of cosmic rays above).
The third thing climate deinalists do is flat out lie, they’ll tell you methane is the most important greenhouse gas and that we don’t know what effect it’s having on the atmosphere.  Sorry, that’s a lie, we do know*.  They’ll pretty much always say that climate models don’t work.  The problem is we can already prove that they do work, predictions we made in the 70’s about today have proven to be disturbingly accurate [18] and if guys with slide rules could pull that off, can you imagine how good we are with supercomputers.
They’ll try and fob climate change off on natural processes despite it being a complete non sequitur. They may even show you research that the solar Maunder minimum caused global cooling [10] [16].  They will never show you research that provides evidence that the observed warming and increase in CO2 is because of natural processes over the last two hundred years simply because it does not exist.  They will also never show you that we do know what has caused the warming over the past two hundred years [3].  Sorry, you can’t pull off this argument without showing you know nothing about the published climate research and that you don’t understand the processes that have caused recent or prehistoric climate change.
When climate denalists claim they know about research that proves something wrong and I ask them to provide me with that research it never materialises.  Jack if you can show me the paper where you get “fact is industrial CO2 emissions are insignificant compared to natural CO2 production (less than 0.3%)” and where it shows that this is important, I’ll have to adjust my world view based on the evidence.  The sad thing is denialists don’t do the same, because we have produce the evidence and they refuse to even acknowledge it exists.
[1] BARD, E., RAISBECK, G., YIOU, F. and JOUZEL, J. (2000), Solar irradiance during the last 1200 years based on cosmogenic nuclides. Tellus B, 52: 985–992  
[2] Fairbanks, R.G., Mortlock, R.A., Chiu, T.C., Cao, L., Kaplan, A., Guilderson, T.P., Fairbanks, T.W., Bloom, A.L., Grootes, P.M., Nadeau, M.J., 2005. Radiocarbon calibration curve spanning 0 to 50, 000 years BP based on paired Th-230/U-234/U-238 and C-14 dates on pristine corals. Quatern. Sci. Rev. 24, 1781–1796
[3] Meehl, G.A., W.M. Washington, T.M.L. Wigley, J.M. Arblaster, and A. Dai, 2002: Solar and greenhouse gas forcing and climate response in the 20th century. J. Climate , Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 426-444.  
[4] Hoyt D.V., Schatten K.H., A discussion of plausible solar irradiance variations 1700-1992, 1993, J. Geophys. Res. 98, 18895
[5] Lean J., Beer, J. Bradley, R., Reconstruction of solar irradiance since 1610: Implications for climate change 3195-3198, 1995, Geophysical Research Letters V 22, No 98
[6] Solanki S.K., Filgge M., A reconstruction of total solar irradiance since 1700, GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 26, NO. 16, PAGES 2465-2468, AUGUST 15, 1999
[7] Beerling D.J., Lake J.A., Brener R.A., Hickey L.J., Taylor D.W., Royer D.L. Carbon isotope evidence implying high O2/CO2 ratios in the Permo-Carboniferous Atmosphere, 2002 Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Vol. 66, No. 21, pp. 3757–3767
[8] Ekart D.D., Cerling T.E., Monares I.P., Tabor N.J., A 400 million year carbon isotope record of pedogenic carbonate: Implicates for paleoatmospheric carbon dioxide. 1999 American Journal of Science V399 p. 805-827
[9] Raymo M.E., The Himalayas, organic carbon burial, and climate in the Miocene 1994, Paleoceanography Vol. 9, No. 3, p 399-404
[10] Mauquoy D., van Geel B., Blaauw M., van der Plicht J., Evidence from northwest European bogs shows ‘Little Ice Age’ climatic changes driven by variations in solar activity 2002. The Holocene 12,1 pp. 1–6
[11]. LELIEVELD, J., CRUTZEN, P. J. and DENTENER, F. J. (1998), Changing concentration, lifetime and climate forcing of atmospheric methane. Tellus B, 50: 128–150  
[12] Meijer H.A.J., Smid H.M., Perez E., Keizer M.G., Isotopic Characterisation of Anthropogenic CO 2 Emissions Using Isotopic and Radiocarbon Analysis, 1996, Phys. Chem. Earth, Vol. 21, No. 5-6, pp. 483-487
[13] R. J. Francey, C. E. Allison, D. M. Etheridge, C. M. Trudinger, I. G. Enting, M. Leuenberger, R. L. Langenfelds, E. Michel, L. P. Steele. (1999), A 1000-year high precision record of δ13C in atmospheric CO2. Tellus B, 52: 170-193  
[14] SIEGENTHALER, U. and OESCHGER, H. (1987), Biospheric CO2 emissions during the past 200 years reconstructed by deconvolution of ice core data. Tellus B, 39B: 140–154  
[15] Gerlacht T., Volcanic versus anthropogenic carbon dioxide, 2011, EOS Vol92. No24 pp 201-208
[16] Pagani M., Arthur M.A., Freeman K.H., Miocene evolution of atmospheric carbon dioxide. 1999. Paleoceanography Vol.14 No. 3 pp 273-293
[17] Crowley T.R., Causes of Climate Change Over the Past 1000 Years. 2000 Science 289, 270-277
[18] BOLIN, B. and BISCHOF, W. (1970), Variations of the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere in the northern hemisphere. Tellus, 22: 431–442  
*  If you’ve managed to get this far, congratulations, you win… a Noddy badge!  I’d covered the denialist point on methane and gotten extra ranty in a previous comment, so for completeness and extra reading points:
“Nicholas -
I don't know you or have any familiarity with your own credentials, so please forgive me if I'm not willing to accept your claim on authority when I don't know if you are one.”

“While the scientific consensus is whatever it is, it's interesting how (if what you claim is true) they've made so few believers among the leaders and advisers in the world of investment and economics.”

I’m a geologist but that’s utterly irrelevant apart from my assertion that all the scientists I know accept AGW based on the evidence. I’m glad you don’t accept arguments from authority. The only thing you should accept is evidence and interpretation, that’s the only thing that counts in the real world.
This sort of vaguely links to ‘consensus’. Let’s review which scientific organizations support the statement "most of the global warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities": (lifted wholesale from but don’t take my, or their word for it, you’re free to follow up every single claim on that list.) Please feel free to skip the list, I’m only pasting it for effect, the next important point is after the list.

American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Astronomical Society
American Chemical Society
American Geophysical Union
American Institute of Physics
American Meteorological Society
American Physical Society
Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO
British Antarctic Survey
Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences
Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
Environmental Protection Agency
European Federation of Geologists
European Geosciences Union
European Physical Society
Federation of American Scientists
Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies
Geological Society of America
Geological Society of Australia
Geological Society of London
International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA)
International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics
National Center for Atmospheric Research
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Royal Meteorological Society
Royal Society of the UK

The Academies of Science from 19 different countries all endorse the consensus. 13 countries have signed a joint statement endorsing the consensus position:
Academia Brasiliera de Ciencias (Brazil)
Royal Society of Canada
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Academie des Sciences (France)
Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina (Germany)
Indian National Science Academy
Accademia dei Lincei (Italy)
Science Council of Japan
Academia Mexicana de Ciencias (Mexico)
Russian Academy of Sciences
Academy of Science of South Africa
Royal Society (United Kingdom)
National Academy of Sciences (USA) (12 Mar 2009 news release)

A letter from 18 scientific organizations to US Congress states:
"Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver. These conclusions are based on multiple independent lines of evidence, and contrary assertions are inconsistent with an objective assessment of the vast body of peer-reviewed science."
The consensus is also endorsed by a Joint statement by the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC), including the following bodies:
African Academy of Sciences
Cameroon Academy of Sciences
Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences
Kenya National Academy of Sciences
Madagascar's National Academy of Arts, Letters and Sciences
Nigerian Academy of Sciences
l'Académie des Sciences et Techniques du Sénégal
Uganda National Academy of Sciences
Academy of Science of South Africa
Tanzania Academy of Sciences
Zimbabwe Academy of Sciences
Zambia Academy of Sciences
Sudan Academy of Sciences
Other Academies of Sciences that endorse the consensus:
Australian Academy of Science
Royal Society of New Zealand
Polish Academy of Sciences
Congratulations, you have successfully skipped past the list. That so many professional organisations make a point of stating that AGW is real speaks volumes. It’s not like they all have statements that they believe the world is round, not flat. The reason so many professional organisations feel compelled to put out these statements is because their member scientists are sick and tired of the likes of Fox News spreading the lie that there is this big, secret oppressed dissident movement. This may come as a shock but even if there wasn’t broad and overwhelming ‘consensus’ amongst scientists it’d be completely irrelevant. If you know anything about science you’ll know that arguments from authority are worth nothing, scientists don’t care what ‘an authority on the subject’ thinks or what their opinion or viewpoint is, the only argument you can make is an argument based on evidence. Even if no two scientists could agree on whether AGW is real, there is a single standard by which you judge a position, EVIDENCE and WHAT WE CURRENTLY KNOW ABOUT REALITY. Einstein came up with special and general relativity and all sorts of fun stuff on QED and so much more, and he published his models and research, scientists did give a damn, but not because of what he said, it's because of what he could show with the evidence.  Einstein didn't believe in quantum mechanics but he couldn't present research to disprove it, so no scientist gave a damn.
I shall now demonstrate how an argument based on what we know is used. You say “What I know of the amount of atmospheric CO2 produced by industrial civilization, and the rather minimal effect of CO2 as a greenhouse gas, forces me to conclude that it cannot be a significant factor. But methane, in the amounts produced such as by ocean-wide algae blooms caused by massive over-fishing, strikes me as a far more likely culprit.)”. I’m afraid there are a few points in this statement that I have to disagree with you on.
For a start “ocean-wide algae blooms”. The largest observed algal bloom was 3.5X10^5 Km^2 in the Arabian Sea [1]. The size of ocean is about 3.6X10^8 Km^2. You’re only a thousand times wrong about the size of biggest algal bloom ever observed, but I’m probably just being needlessly nit-picky.
There are real, knowable facts, here are some of the things we really know; we have a measured record of atmospheric CO2 and NH4 (methane) concentrations, we have measured and know the specific heat capacity of CO2 and NH4. We can, and have measured the radiative forcing of CO2 and HN4 in the atmosphere. I’m going to be lazy and take these numbers as eyeballed estimates off graphs from the Third IPCC report (You no doubt don’t trust the IPCC reports, but that’s irrelevant, they’re still the best reports on the state of what current research shows). Just from first order observation the increase in climatic radiative forcing of CO2 (1.5Wm^-2), is three times as much as the increase of NH4 (0.5Wm^-2). The concentration of CO2 has increased ~70 ppm (280-350 ppm) since 1800. NH4 concentration has gone up ~1000 ppb in the same time period (750 -1750 ppb). So yes, NH4 is important but it’s significantly less important than CO2, and blaming climate change on methane alone pretty much falls flat right there.
I can hear you grunting in derision at my inclusion of anything related to the IPCC. Wouldn’t it be nice if some other guys had done a research paper titled “Changing concentration, lifetime and climate forcing of atmospheric methane” [2] and you could find it with a two second Google search. Oh wait they did, methane has about 35% of the climate forcing of CO2. Hand waving and asserting “from what I know” Isn’t going to hack it when we do actually know, and we have actually measured and we did actually do the math and you’re actually provably wrong when you say “the rather minimal effect of CO2 as a greenhouse gas, forces me to conclude that it cannot be a significant factor. But methane, in the amounts produced such as by ocean-wide algae blooms caused by massive over-fishing, strikes me as a far more likely culprit.” If you think science doesn’t know this sort of basic stuff you need to do some reading. (That’s a fun paper, you really should read it)
The lie that methane has a greater influence than CO2 on climate change is spread by leading climate denialists and lapped up by people who don’t check what we actually know, ignorance is not bliss, it is just ignorance. The lie is plausible enough, they tell the truth that NH4 has a much greater heat capacity than CO2, and they tell the truth that NH4 has RELATIVLY increased in concentration much more than CO2. They then conclude that NH4 is the main forcing factor in climate change, it’s just so obvious! They fail to take ACTUAL concentration into account, and this is because it’s a deliberate attempt to mislead. When we look at the measured, actual increase in CO2 relative to NH4, it’s the most important forcing factor in climate change, this is a measured and known reality. Using isotope measurements it’s also really easy to show that the primary contribution to the increase in CO2 concentration is due to the burning of fossil fuels. Yes I have a reference for that one to [3]. These are facts we actually know, we know because we measured, deal with it.
I’m having fun, so let’s pretend that blaming all of climate change on methane doesn’t fail first order observation (it still contributes and we still need to address anthropogenic methane). You propose a model, algal bloom increases because of overfishing. Why don’t you do the hard work? All the real, knowable facts are readily available with 10 minutes on Google Scholar.
I’ll get you started; I can confirm that there is evidence that links certain types of overfishing with algal blooms [4]. Models also suggest that ocean algae increase N2H and CH4 but decrease CO2 [5], the net effect of which may well lead to an increased greenhouse effect (we now have some rates as well so we can start doing maths, YAY MATHS!). You could probably use freely available MODIS imagery [6] to see where algal blooms are and find out if anybody has a data set using this technique [7] that you can use to quickly link, and quantify, increases in N2H and CH4 and decreases in CO2 concentration with algal blooms. I’ll leave other little details to you, details like working out what proportion of algal blooms are linked to overfishing and what proportions are linked to other causes like anthropogenic ocean eutrophication (The experimental results in [4] might be a good place to start). Then you might want to get onto NH4 from other sources, agriculture, the natural gas industry, stuff like that. While you’re at it you should correlate the increase in NH4 attributable to algal blooms, associated with overfishing, to the observed instrumental records. You should also explain any deviations from that record. So you’d expect Pinatubo to have a temperature spike that isn’t caused by overfishing. While you’re at it I’d appreciate it if you could come up with a feasible explanation for why the measured increase in CO2 isn’t responsible for observed climate change and point out the flaw in the research that suggests climate change is related to human activity. Who knows, maybe we measured heat capacity of CO2 and NH4 wrong and we’ve been using the wrong numbers in all the models?
Sounds like an ass load of work doesn’t it? If only other people had already done all that hard work, maybe we could just read their reports. Oh wait, we can, there’s a fat pile of published research papers that deal with everything from methanogenic termites to climate forcing caused by sun spots, read them and you’ll be amazed at what we already know. There are knowable facts about the world, the only reason climate denialists exist is because they’re ignorant of what we already know. If you think overfishing is causing climate change, it’s easy enough to check if it is. If you aren’t prepared to put in the work, see if somebody else already has, chances are they have, and they published a research paper on it. If you find a reference that starts with something like “from what I know” and they make no attempt to explain exactly what and how they know ‘it’, and they don’t do the maths to back up their point, the integrity of that source is probably questionable. Please try harder, find out what we already know before you say something silly, again.
P.S. The leaders of pretty much the whole planet with the exception of Canada the USA, Afghanistan and South Sudan have signed the Kyoto Protocol. That means that very nearly every government on the planet accepts anthropogenic climate change and has committed to do something about it IN WRITING. Sorry, but actual reality proves you wrong, again.  
[1] Sellner K. G., Physiology, Ecology and Taxonomic Properties of Marine Cyanobacteria Blooms. Limnology and Oceanography, Vol 42, No 5, Part 2: The Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms. 1997 p1089-1104

[2] LELIEVELD, J., CRUTZEN, P. J. and DENTENER, F. J. (1998), Changing concentration, lifetime and climate forcing of atmospheric methane. Tellus B, 50: 128–150

[3] R. J. Francey, C. E. Allison, D. M. Etheridge, C. M. Trudinger, I. G. Enting, M. Leuenberger, R. L. Langenfelds, E. Michel, L. P. Steele. (1999), A 1000-year high precision record of δ13C in atmospheric CO2. Tellus B, 52: 170-193

[4]. Eriksson BK, Ljunggren L, Sandstro¨m A, Johansson G, Mattila J, Rubach A, Ra°berg S, Snickars M (2009) Declines in predatory fish promote bloom-forming macroalgae. Ecol Appl 19:1975– 1988

[5] Fuhrman J. A., Possible biogeochemical consequences of ocean fertilization, Limnology and Oceanography, 36(8), 1991.


[7] Buchwitz M., Rozanov V.V., Burrows J. P., A near-infrared optimized DOAS Method for the fast global retrieval of atmospheric CH4, CO, CO2, H2O and N2O total column amounts from SCIAMACHY Envisat-1 nadir radiances. Journal of Geophysical Research, 105(D12), P15,231-15,245
#ClimateChange #ScienceSunday #Science #ignorance #climate #FuckingReadYouIgnorantBastards

Post has attachment

Post has attachment

Post has attachment
Wait while more posts are being loaded