NIST – more GHG measurement needed

From the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Greenhouse gases: The measurement challenge

The continuing increase in the level of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” in the Earth’s atmosphere has been identified as a cause for serious concern because it may radically accelerate changes in the Earth’s climate. Developing an effective strategy for managing the planet’s greenhouse gases is complicated by the many and varied sources of such gases, some natural, some man-made, as well as the mechanisms that capture and “sequester” the gases. A new report sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) focuses on one of the key challenges: defining and developing the technology needed to better quantify greenhouse gas emissions.

The new report, “Advancing Technologies and Strategies for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Quantification,” is the result of a special workshop in the NIST Foundations for Innovation series, convened in June 2010, to bring together greenhouse gas experts from government, industry, academia and the scientific community to address the technology and measurement science challenges in monitoring greenhouse gases.

A wide variety of techniques are used for measuring greenhouse gas emissions and, to a lesser extent, the effectiveness of “sinks”—things like the ocean and forests that absorb greenhouse gases and sequester the carbon. The problem is that developing an effective global strategy for managing greenhouse gases requires a breadth of measurement technologies and standards covering not only complex chemical and physical phenomena, but also huge differences in scale. These range from point sources at electric power plants to distributed sources, such as large agricultural and ranching concerns, to large-scale sinks such as forests and seas. Satellite-based systems, useful for atmospheric monitoring, must be reconciled with ground-based measurements. Reliable, accepted international standards are necessary so governments can compare data with confidence, requiring a lot of individual links to forge an open and verifiable chain of measurement results accepted by all.

The report identifies and discusses, in detail, four broad areas of opportunity for technology development and improvement:

  • Advanced science and technology for reliably quantifying greenhouse gas emissions, regardless of geography, sector or source;
  • Accurate and reliable quantification of distributed carbon sources and sinks;
  • Consistent, standardized methods for measurable, reportable and verifiable greenhouse gas emissions data; and
  • Integration of ground-based (bottom-up) and remote atmospheric observation (top-down) methods.
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Copies of the new report are available at the Website for the 2010 June meeting, “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Quantification and Verification Strategies Workshop” at http://events.energetics.com/NISTScripps2010/downloads.html, along with additional materials from the workshop.

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29 Responses to NIST – more GHG measurement needed

  1. Nuke says:

    So, we don’t know where GHGs come from (the sources) or where they go (the sinks) but we want to manage them anyway. And it’s going to cost billions to find out.

    Without knowing these first two, how can we claim we need to manage them?

    Cut to the chase — no matter what the source, or the possible ways to mitigate the effects, the only acceptable answers will involve large transfers of wealth, increased governance and a decrease in fossil fuel consumption in favor of politically favored alternate energy sources.

  2. higley7 says:

    The blanket statement that CO2 and other GHGs are accumulating scotches the veracity of NIST right from the top. Along with widely overblown “opinions” of the gases’s heat-trapping ability, we have the other gases doing effectively nothing (methane is actually decreasing, but you won’t hear it from them) and the observation that CO2 actually gets in the way and hinders water vapor from being as effective as it would without CO2. 9 +1 ≠ 10 in this case, 9 + 1 <10.

    My read is that NIST is fishing for a huge bolus of funding. After all, all the other guys got money for doing stupid work!

  3. Jean Parisot says:

    “Consistent, standardized methods for measurable, reportable and verifiable greenhouse gas emissions data; and ”

    How in the world would Cap and Trade worked without these tools?

  4. Jeff Carlson says:

    come on … one site in Hawaii is fine for a global measurement …

  5. Peter Miller says:

    Well, it’s obviously going to be very expensive, but also sounds both pointless and complex – so it’s obviously government sponsored.

    Possibly we shall get back $5 of useful information – before it is subjected to Mannian mathematics – for every $100 spent. So by the standards of the Team and the IPCC it’s good value for money.

  6. Rob MW says:

    “Developing an effective strategy for managing the planet’s greenhouse gases is complicated by the many and varied sources of such gases, some natural, some man-made, as well as the mechanisms that capture and “sequester” the gases.”

    That should have said 96% natural, 4% man-made,

    I stopped reading at that point.

  7. Anthony Scalzi says:

    Speaking of quantifying carbon sinks, here’s an interesting article about the researchers who study oceanic CO2 uptake.
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/OceanCarbon/page1.php

  8. Dave Snoozuki can shed some carbon on this. Once again, a government-run agency keeps churning out the perceived de rigeur, behind the times. Is anybody listening any more? The report basically says nothing, and the press masthead regurgitates the same tired assertion, once again: “because it may radically accelerate changes in the Earth’s climate” Yawn.

  9. Fred Allen says:

    Rick Perry has placed both feet firmly on the skeptical side:
    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0811/61570.html

  10. David Wells says:

    I have never understood what the term “saving the planet” really means, whatever happens we cannot save the planet and as it survived being covered in ice 10 metres thick why is a 7 metre rise in sea level worse than that? Maybe a few billion humans might die, maybe humanity gets extinguished but the planet will remain and the good thing is that less humans means less co2 so within a generation the waters may recede, the only thing is that by the time this happens humanity will have so ravaged what is left of our finite natural resources that it wont really matter. Co2 will never cause the end of planet earth, only humanity in its present form can achieve that catastrophic disaster. Inasmuch as it was a surprise that the Earth was not flat there would appear to be a lot of people who believe that planet Earth was specially formed specifically for their lifelong habitation and pleasure such is the level of intellect that remains abundant within the human race, nutty as a fruitcake!! I continue to have nightmmares, visions of George Osborne, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and most of all Chris Huhne and Ed Milliband pinned to the end of static wind turbine blades far out in the North Sea coming perilously close to being drowned by the rising sea level, Oh what joy!! It only gets worse, seeing all of the greens including Caroline Lucas being stretched out on photovoltaic cells for the barbeque of the season, dumb idiot politicians next!! Will I live long enough to see my vision come true?

  11. Howard Spery says:

    Apppears the NIST is unhappy at all those “climate Scientists” receiving all that generous funding.
    Get on the gravy train before it’s too late.

  12. Chuck Nolan says:

    They’re just not admitting they’ve lost the war.
    CO2 does not seem to be a problem.
    Global warming does not seem to be a problem.
    Rising sea level does not seem to be a problem.
    What’s THEIR problem?
    We continue to collect data and keep moving ahead.
    To the future.

  13. Zeke the Sneak says:

    It appears to be some sort of a want add for a sophisticated global spy satellite system. “…The problem is that developing an effective global strategy for managing greenhouse gases requires a breadth of measurement technologies and standards…”

    In particular, it needs to be able to detect the subversive and treasonous production of power and food; that is
    “…point sources at electric power plants to distributed sources, such as large agricultural and ranching concerns…”

    Why doesn’t the UN go spy on China’s production of electricity, beef, milk, and cheese? With the money we save staying out of the global tax and spy satellite business, we can go ahead and protect our shallow seas with the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ships. Nice, quick and robotic. Goes up any river system too.
    http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/the-usas-new-littoral-combat-ships-updated-01343/

  14. Gary Swift says:

    to Anthony Scalzi:

    Thanks for that link. Very informative, and surprising to see them publish such a frank account of uncertainty. That’s refreshing.

    I like the following from the very end of the series:

    ““When I started about 15 years ago, it was assumed that the circulation of the ocean did not change. The only thing we ever thought about was carbon dioxide increasing in the atmosphere,” says Le Quéré. “Now we have a much broader view of what is happening. I think very few people accept the steady state hypothesis anymore. That’s finished.””

    And from a little farther back:

    ““I think it’s possible that the Southern Ocean sink is slowing down,” says Sarmiento, “[Le Quéré] did a super job of bringing in all kinds of constraints on the model, but all of them have huge uncertainties. I’m still holding off.” Feely agrees. “In this case, modelers are leaping ahead of the observationalists. What we as oceanographers want to do is make sure that there is a sufficient amount of oceanographic data to substantiate that. You need 30 years of data before you can say anything, and that’s an incredible feat in itself.””

    Cool stuff.

  15. Gary Swift says:

    To David Wells:

    “we cannot save the planet and as it survived being covered in ice 10 metres thick ”

    shouldn’t that be 10 kilometers?

  16. Chris says:

    Just had a quick look at ‘Real Climate’ wrt this topic, and it would appear that they are adamant that anthropogenic output of CO2 exceeds that of volcanoes. There are no data, neither is there any other evidence for their claim, but it does seem to me that we are all still fairly ignorant of the output of GHGs on land-based volcanic activity, let alone that beneath the oceans.
    However, when GHGs are mentioned by the ilk of RC, there is rarely a mention of water vapour… I suppose that area might just complicate the issue? Maybe that particular GHG is simply wet weather to them, which is probably one of the many reasons why they are confused.

  17. Brian H says:

    Gary;
    Note that that article is from 2007, looking forward to the launch of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory in 2008.

    Oops.

  18. to Anthony Scalzi:

    Thanks for the link. I see the following on the first page:

    “As we burn fossil fuels and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels go up, the ocean absorbs more carbon dioxide to stay in balance. But this absorption has a price: these reactions lower the water’s pH, meaning it’s more acidic. And the ocean has its limits. As temperatures rise, carbon dioxide leaks out of the ocean like a glass of root beer going flat on a warm day”

    So which is it to be – absorbing more CO2 to “stay in balance” OR “leaking out of the ocean like a glass or root beer going flat on a warm day”?

    I notice that later Schuster and Watson 2007 is cited on page 2, saying that “[the] amount of carbon that the North Atlantic Ocean soaked up decreased by a factor of two between 1994 and 2005″. I seem to remember this being discussed here, along with Knorr 2009, which according to CO2Science refutes that, saying that “no trend in the airborne fraction can be found”.
    CO2Science – http://www.co2science.org/articles/V12/N48/B1.php
    Knorr 2009 – http://www.deas.harvard.edu/climate/seminars/pdfs/knorr.grl.2009.pdf

  19. Gary Swift says:

    To Brian:

    Yeah, I noticed that. It is mostly still relevant though.

    Anyone besides me ever notice that warmists and tree huggers can’t seem to understand the difference between a sink and a store most of the time. They like to use them interchangeably. The article from 2007 at least seems to have that part right.

  20. LazyTeenager says:

    Nuke says:
    August 17, 2011 at 9:27 am
    So, we don’t know where GHGs come from (the sources) or where they go (the sinks) but we want to manage them anyway. And it’s going to cost billions to find out.
    ———–
    Seems to be a reading comprehension problem here. We do know the sinks and the sources of CO2.

    NIST is about improving the accuracy of the quantification of those sources.

  21. LazyTeenager says:

    David Wells says
    ——-
    I have never understood what the term “saving the planet” really means
    ——-
    It’s a polite way of saying “don’t pee in the pool”.

    But I am sure you are feigning ignorance as a device to start your little speech.

  22. LazyTeenager says:

    Howard Spery says:
    August 17, 2011 at 11:19 am
    Apppears the NIST is unhappy at all those “climate Scientists” receiving all that generous funding.
    Get on the gravy train before it’s too late.
    ———–
    Yes I am incredibly impressed by your amazing ability to read the minds of people you have never met. So why did you keep your prior knowledge of the Enrob scam to yourself?

  23. LazyTeenager says:

    Chris says
    ——–
    There are no data, neither is there any other evidence for their claim, but it does seem to me that we are all still fairly ignorant of the output of GHGs on land-based volcanic activity, let alone that beneath the oceans.
    ——–
    There is data. Just cos you don’t know it does not mean the data does not exist.

    REPLY: ” it does not mean the data does not exist.” ROFL, comment FAIL. Well this is where I call BS. Either show the data or refrain from commenting about the lack of it – Anthony

  24. John Marshall says:

    We know both sources and sinks for GHG’s but who cares since they do not drive climate.

  25. wayne Job says:

    This Lazy Teenager person uses the basic tools of of doubt and propaganda as a weapon. He is obviously trained in this by some nefarious green group or government department.

    I do hope he enjoys his twenty pieces of silver, as his AGW nonsense falls on its own sword.

  26. Greg Holmes says:

    This is a cry to all the politicians with whom the NIST guys went to University to come to the rescue and stump up a few billion tax dollars to help, because it seems to make sense.
    FUBAR

  27. RACookPE1978 says:

    LazyTeenager says:
    August 17, 2011 at 3:59 pm


    Yes I am incredibly impressed by your amazing ability to read the minds of people you have never met. So why did you keep your prior knowledge of the Enrob scam to yourself?

    —…—…
    Odd statement (insult, actually) to try to make.

    Al Gore’s entire cap-and-tax, carbon-cap-and-trade and all of Soro-Hansen’s private funding from CAGW-induced political-financial causes stems from an Enron idea begun back when Gore was vice-president, and while he (and his family) was receiving a very large income from their oil holdings in South America. That is, if Enron had not found a source of massive real profits by inventing their carbon-based fear schemes in the late 1990’s, there would be no global depression due to false and hyped carbon scares now.

  28. Brian H says:

    I like the typo: “En-rob”.

    It was indeed.

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