back to article Greenhouse gas-sniffing satellite to be built and tested in Britain

The UK Space Agency has made a deal with Thales Alenia Space to assemble and test a carbon-measuring satellite, the British government announced yesterday. Thales Alenia Space UK, last seen in The Register building part of the European Aviation Network, will assist with the MicroCarb project, a collaboration between the UKSA …

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Joke

Awesome!

They can test that it works by having an MP talk at it.

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Re: Awesome!

Since Brexit, they'll probably have had to move testing to the Outer Hebrides to avoid the emissions from Westminster and the press.

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The results will be meaningless

to a certain inhabitant of Washington DC who refuses to accept global warming.

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Re: The results will be meaningless

Not a problem actually. The bird doesn't fly for another 3 years. Then there's the time to gather the data and make sense of it all.

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Re: The results will be meaningless

Judging by a lead article in the latest New Scientist, what we really need is a swarm of robot sea-gliders to monitor ocean acidity and oxygen content globally rather than yet another atmosphere monitoring satellite: there are a lot of those already to say nothing of a variety of ground-based sampling stations.

The oceanic oxygen levels are far less known, except that they are dropping, and don't appear to be particularly well monitored at present. The effect of this on fish/algae/plankton, which is potentially very harmful, seems to be very little understood.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The results will be meaningless

I love how it's always "one person's responsibility" in a world full of carbon producers.

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Re: The results will be meaningless

> "...who refuses to accept global warming."

Dude, get the dogma right. It's climate change, NOT global warming! That whole CAGW thing wasn't panning out, so the Green priesthood rebranded it so as not to look so much like fools.

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Re: The results will be meaningless

so the Green priesthood rebranded it so as not to look so much like fools.

Dude, your position might be more believable if it wasn't also held by the type that think 'God made the world perfect'.

Granted, the whole climate thing is amply illustrated by the Carbon Neutral thing which became an insurance payment or somesuch 'touchstone' to with all the realworld impact of a catholic confessional. Partly for ease of conscience but mostly and advertising gimmick to placate the middle class and idly concerned.

Don't confuse those trying to make a quick buck off anything with genuine scientists actually trying.

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Re: The results will be meaningless

"The oceanic oxygen levels are far less known, except that they are dropping, and don't appear to be particularly well monitored at present. The effect of this on fish/algae/plankton, which is potentially very harmful, seems to be very little understood."

Algae will produce molecular oxygen.

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Re: The results will be meaningless

Carbonaceous fossils have a good many uses for which there are no alternatives, for instance as reducing agents in smelting metals, as substrates for chemical synthesis and as portable energy supplies. Using them up in applications where there are alternatives, such as shoving them up the chimneys of fixed power plants, is just being greedy. The real problem with that certain inhabitant of Washington DC is that he doesn't see greed as a problem.

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Re: The results will be meaningless

"Algae will produce molecular oxygen."

So long as the ocean doesn't become more CO2 saturated and more acidic.

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Re: The results will be meaningless

To be fair to this particular resident, he is trying very hard to learn how to count.

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Re: The results will be meaningless

I wonder if someone could build a device to help certain politicians in the US (and the odd one elsewhere too) to distinguish between "verifiable scientific facts" and "stuff I made up, think or heard some guy say in the pub / on the golf course, it says in the bible etc etc "

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Angel

Re: The results will be meaningless

Teiwaz sez:

"Dude, your position might be more believable if it wasn't also held by the type that think 'God made the world perfect'."

My position is that Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming seems not to be happening on schedule. Doesn't even seem to BE a schedule any more. You say some other (apparently religious minded) people also accept this simple fact too, and somehow that coincidence invalidates my CAGW stance? Really?

Hmmm. So, if I could find some church-goers who think like you do, that will refute your stances automatically? Cool! It so happens I know of a lot of churches fully on board with what you believe about global warming. I'll be happy to provide links upon request, but for now just consider yourself busted. ;-/

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Re: The results will be meaningless

Why? Facts get in the why of rants or politicians BS. See the senate confirmation hearings on trumps environmental advisors. No this is not an anti trump rant that women is just devoid of all facts and reason to the point it shocks the politicians .

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The results will be misinterpreted

Like most climate data. So 2017 is the 3rd hottest 9-month year on record, maybe.

Meanwhile, a few thousand politicians and lobbyists have gathered in Bonn to drink.. I mean debate carbon reduction targets. And a lot fewer and probably less well paid scientists and engineers have been designing and launching orbital spectrometers like IBUKI, OCO-2 and this proposal that can actually measure CO2 levels in our atmosphere. The kinda empirical stuff that should have been prioritised as the cAGW hype started. Problem with the climate wars are they're often defined by long term claims unsupported by quality data. Better observation should help narrow the debate.

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Re: The results will be meaningless

Longer term it is - Look up Anoxic Oceanic Events. They tend to go hand in hand geologically with CO2 spikes.

The worry from some quarters is whether we're pushing to the knee point of one or have already passed it.

Things like the Leptav Methane Emissions are worrying enough - current remote sensing instruments can't detect methane over water. This means that the "phantom emissions" originally attributed to agriculture may well be coming from there (the methane survey authors weren't aware of Leptav emissions until AFTER they published). Onsite observers claimed the plumes are over 1km wide at the surface - and this is the first time that clathrate plumes have made it to the surface.

The bigger worry is that if the Leptav clathrates bubbling out get to the point of destabilising the Siberian continental margin then we could see a Storegga style methane burp and associated landslides+tsunamis putting somewhere between 1-5GT of methane into the atmosphere in a few weeks or days. This would be bad news - if you look at geologic record, Storegga's methane burp kicked global temperatures by a couple of degrees and appear to have been the trigger for rapid ice melt/sea level rise.

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Re: The results will be meaningless

"Algae will produce molecular oxygen."

1: Only whilst there's light - the rest of the time they're absorbing it.

1a: If the waters become acidic then they produce less oxygen - and oceanic acidity has already increased 30% in the last 250 years (Ph scales are logarithmic)

2: When the algae dies it settles to the bottom and absorbs oxygen whilst decaying.

3: If algae levels get too high (bloom) then they deoxygenate the water at night and die en masse.

It's the 3rd item which is responsible for most of our oil reserves as the blooms settle and then get covered in further debris under anoxic conditions.

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Re: The results will be misinterpreted

"And a lot fewer and probably less well paid scientists and engineers have been designing and launching orbital spectrometers like IBUKI, OCO-2 and this proposal that can actually measure CO2 levels in our atmosphere"

Yup, this is exactly the problem. It's bloody hard to get 50k for storage and HPC resources to analyse the data whilst the politicians happily spend a few million on sucessive bunfights.

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Re: The results will be meaningless

> Dude, get the dogma right. It's climate change, NOT global warming! That whole CAGW thing wasn't panning out, so the Green priesthood rebranded it so as not to look so much like fools.

Dude, again? This was pointed out to you before, but as you apparently insist on repeating this tripe: that particular bit of newspeak came from *Republican* operators:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Luntz#Global_warming

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Anonymous Coward

Looking on the bright side..

"we could see a Storegga style methane burp and associated landslides+tsunamis"

That might mean Germany was justified in shutting it's low carbon nuclear power stations following on from Fukushima. As for observations, some of the satellites can monitor methane, eg IBUKI's replacement-

http://global.jaxa.jp/projects/sat/gosat2/

Should be more sensitive and higher resolution than IBUKI. But hasn't launched yet, and has a design life of only 5yrs. So whilst satellite observations can help with detection and attribution, 5yrs of data aren't much in a 30yr climate window, let alone attempts to extrapolate back further in time. They do however measure the radiative properties of both gases, which can feed back into GCMs and theoretically improve their quality.

As for algae and phytoplankton, again there's a bright side. They'll become future fossil fuels and proxies for future climate scientists to ponder during the run up to COP-3019.

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Re: The results will be meaningless

>so the Green priesthood rebranded it

A tired, denialist lie.

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Re: The results will be meaningless

Yes, scarletherring pointed out that Wikipedia says George W. Bush is responsible for the new CC term. If so, doesn't that make you Warmists a pack of easily led fools? Because it appears that 99% of Greens now use the term "Climate Change." At the express direction of W himself! ;-)

Actually I prefer you guys use the GW term, since it's not a squishy, malleable term like Climate Change. Ain't gonna happen tho. That whole GW meme was starting to *ahem* burn up your credibility.

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Re: The results will be meaningless

Please reserve the word denialist for use in discussion about the Holocaust where it morally belongs and find some other ad hominem. Thanks.

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I don't know why the greens have such a down on CO2, it is a harmless plant food and so necessary for life on this planet.

They talk about it being a greenhouse gas - indeed it is used in many commercial greenhouses to increase crop yields, but there are other gases that are much more potent as a heat trapping blanket around the earth, the main one being water vapour.

The also talk about an 'ideal' average air temperature but ignore the fact the air temperature of the earth has changed from the ice ages to much hotter than the medieval warm period which was much warmer than now.

The fact that the atmosphere is a chaotic system implies that they, the climate scientists, will never totally understand it or make meaningful computer models of it.

The globe has cooled and warmed many times and by now man should be able to use technology to keep himself alive byt unfortunately the greens do want us to use technology, they want us back in some bohemian utopia which has never existed.

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Auld Lang Syne Complex*

"The globe has cooled and warmed many times and by now man should be able to use technology to keep himself alive but unfortunately the greens do not want us to use technology, they want us back in some bohemian utopia which has never existed."

Agreed. During the last few million years while homo sapiens has been climbing to the top rung of the evolutionary ladder there have been many changes in our environment, and doubtless there are many more to come. As a species we must meet these future challenges, but turning the clock back is only one of many possible options to consider.

* Thanks to "The Peter Principle" by Peter & Hull.

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"I don't know why the greens have such a down on CO2, it is a harmless plant food and so necessary for life on this planet."

Too much of a good thing is no longer good.

You'd be happy breathing pure oxygen? Or how about the risks associated with dihydrogen monoxide exposure?

The historical record shows that this isn't a 'normal' variation in climate (which does happen), we have released the carbon sequestered over millions of years in the space of a couple of hundred. That's something we now know wasn't a good idea...

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Changing Climate

@Ivan 4 (and others)

The globe has cooled and warmed many times

You are so right. Here's a chart of the changes.

In case you have difficulty understanding the point the chart is making, this might help put it in perspective.

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Re: handleoclast Re: Changing Climate

".....Here's a chart of the changes....." Ooh, look, another "hockey stick" chart, again with zero demonstration of causality. True, at least this one does have some funny cartoons, but still with just as much bad statistical analysis as the original.

One of the amusing inconsistencies of the whole CAGW-renamed-as-Climate-Change schpiel is how the global climate reacted to massive natural pollution events, such as the 1783 Laki eruption, which pushed roughly three times the 2006 global industrial production of "greenhouse gas" sulphur-dioxide pollution into the atmosphere, but somehow reacted much more severely to the much milder and gradual polluting of early industrial development. Of course, the other elephant in the "climate change" room is that such natural polluting events usually caused brief rises in temperature followed by more severe dips in global average temperatures, not the persistent rises the CAGW-CC crowd insist man is somehow creating. But you go on waving your hockey stick around if it keeps you happy.

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Re: handleoclast Changing Climate

@Jonathan Schwatrz

Yep, a hockey stick with zero demonstration of causation. It wasn't intended to demonstrate causation. It was intended to demonstrate a different point: rate and extent of fluctuation.

Your wealth, like mine, fluctuates. It increases when money is paid into your bank; it decreases when you purchase something. One day, somebody steals your identity, opens multiple bank accounts in your name, applies for multiple credit cards in your name and runs up tens, maybe even hundreds, of thousands in debt, and everybody is pounding on your door demanding payment. Oh, and for good measure the same guy burned your house down. You're bankrupt. You're worse than bankrupt. But don't worry about it, because your wealth has always fluctuated and this is just another fluctuation. Right?

The point the chart made is that previous fluctuations were neither as extreme nor as rapid. Therefore we ought to be worried whatever the cause.

As for causation, Svante Arrhenius showed that 120 years ago. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. This is a fact. Global average temperature is rising faster than it ever has. This is a fact. Global average temperature is higher than it has ever been (excluding the Hadean and Archeon periods). This is a fact. If global average temperature rises much higher, we will be in deep shit. This is a fact.

We can debate about the extent to which global warming is anthropogenic, although not to the degree you probably think (because most of the go-to arguments of the deniers have been debunked). We can debate about as-yet unknown feedback effects (both positive and negative) but, because they're unknown we can't draw reliable conclusions from hypothesising about them. But even if anthropogenic effects are not the main driver of global warming (all the evidence says they are), it's still a major fucking problem. Even if anthropogenic effects are not the main driver of global warming, minimising them will reduce the damage of global warming.

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Re: handleoclast Changing Climate

Quote:

Even if anthropogenic effects are not the main driver of global warming, minimising them will reduce the damage of global warming.

Which is the position of the mainstream green parties

Shame they all hate nuclear power even more than CO2 emission then.......

"Whats worse? 50 000 dead from a nuclear accident every 50 yrs or 500 million from global warming?" James Lovelock

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the MicroCarb project...

When I first scanned the article I thought for a second they were talking about a new generation of the "Atkins Diet".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: the MicroCarb project...

For MicroCarbs see insects as our future protein source.

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Anonymous Coward

Another attack on the motorist

... with no evidence for any so-called 'carbon dioxide emissions' or 'climate change'. Lefties really are getting desperate now.

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Boffin

Re: Another attack on the motorist

"with no evidence for any so-called 'carbon dioxide emissions'"

Bubble it through calcium hydroxide, unless you have an alternative explanation for the white precipitate?

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