'Foamenting' climate change

From the American Association for the Advancement of Science, more ideas on geoengineering:

File:Sea foam on the shore.jpg

sea foam by the sea shore image from Wikimedia

PACIFIC GROVE, CALIFORNIA—In an effort to curb global warming, scientists have proposed everything from launching sunlight-blocking dust into the stratosphere to boosting the number of carbon-sucking algae in the oceans. Now, a Harvard University physicist has come up with a new way to cool parts of the planet: pump vast swarms of tiny bubbles into the sea to increase its reflectivity and lower water temperatures. “Since water covers most of the earth, don’t dim the sun,” says the scientist, Russell Seitz, speaking from an international meeting on geoengineering research here. “Brighten the water.”

Natural bubbles already brighten turbulent seas and provide a luster known as “undershine” below the ocean’s surface. But these bubbles only lightly brighten the planet, contributing less than one-tenth of 1% of Earth’s reflectivity, or albedo. What Seitz imagines is pumping even smaller bubbles, about one-five-hundredth of a millimeter in diameter, into the sea. Such “microbubbles” are essentially “mirrors made of air,” says Seitz, and they might be created off boats by using devices that mix water supercharged with compressed air into swirling jets of water. “I’m emulating a natural ocean phenomenon and amplifying it just by changing the physics—the ingredients remain the same.”

Computer simulations show that tiny bubbles could have a profound cooling effect. Using a model that simulates how light, water, and air interact, Seitz found that microbubbles could double the reflectivity of water at a concentration of only one part per million by volume. When Seitz plugged that data into a climate model, he found that the microbubble strategy could cool the planet by up to 3°C. He has submitted a paper on the concept he calls “Bright Water” to the journal Climatic Change.

In addition to helping curb global warming, the microbubble strategy could also help conserve water by reducing evaporation in rivers and lakes, says Seitz. That’s a problem that leads to the loss of billions of tons of freshwater each year in California alone.

Seitz says adding bubbles to a 1-square-kilometer patch of ocean is feasible, but scaling it up may be technically difficult. Energy is not the limiting factor, he says, estimating that the energy output of 1000 windmills might be sufficient to add bubbles to an entire ocean. The larger challenge to large-scale deployment, he says, would be ensuring that the bubbles last as long as possible. In nature, a bubble’s lifetime depends on the level of dissolved organic matter and nanoparticles, without which small bubbles rapidly shrink and disappear. If the water is too clean, the bubbles might not last long enough to be effectively spread over large areas, Seitz says.

One way to test the viability of the idea might be to study the impact of bubbles created in the wakes of ships, says oceanographer Peter Brewer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, California. “It’s something nobody’s talked about,” he says of Seitz’s technique.

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Steve Goddard

Don Ho solved this problem many years ago.
Tiny bubbles (tiny bubbles)
In the wine (in the wine)
Make me happy (make me happy)
Make me feel fine (make me feel fine)

D. King

“It’s something nobody’s talked about,” he says of Seitz’s technique.
Wonder why???

Michael Jankowski

“…Energy is not the limiting factor, he says, estimating that the energy output of 1000 windmills might be sufficient to add bubbles to an entire ocean…”
Which ocean would that be?

Sera

Can we call it the ‘Don Ho’ effect?

baahumbug

Oh great. These climatologists now want to stuff around with geoengineering to fix a non-existent problem.
I suppose the author needs grants for more research? My answer is NO, go get a proper job.

George Turner

I’m all for this.
There’s entirely too much unregulated photosynthesis going on in the oceans, and the end result is bizarre and scary sea life that keeps me awake at night.
Death to the algae! Death to the plankton! Death to the krill! Death to the weird looking stuff that eats them, and death to the tasty whales that we’re not allowed to eat anyway!

timhulsey

The old commercial said, “It’s not nice to fool mother nature!” The hubris of humans is as unmeasurable as future climate and more dangerous! Is it not more terrifying to think of cooling the planet by 3 degrees C, especially at the hands of man, than to think of a degree of warming over the next century? The planet has prospered under warming in the past, but did it thrive biologically or culturally during the Little Ice Age? Geo-engineering is the most frightening endeavor I have seen in my lifetime! Are humans really THAT stupid?!

Hey I have a better idea – we can nuke the Sahara desert and turn it into glass. Sand already has a pretty high albedo, but at least this gives the government the appearance of strong action and that’s really the most important thing.

Tiny bubbles in the wine….. Don Ho, born Donald Tai Loy Ho

ya that’s the best I could find lol
Tim

When Seitz plugged that data into a climate model, he found that the microbubble strategy could cool the planet by up to 3°C>>
Ah yes, a computer model said so. Of course the computer models have been wrong about everything else. Which in turn means that he doesn’t have a freakin clue what would actually happen if we did this.
But go ahead, play with matches. Would you like some gasoline to go with that? Can you say “unintended consequences”?

Julian Flood

Here’s a nice little research project. Take the calculations from Dr Seitz’s proposal and use them to calculate how much the total reflectivity of the oceans would need to be changed.
Then calculate how much reduction of the bright phytoplankton Emiliania huxleyi population would have the same effect. Compare the numbers.
Then work out how we have reduced the amount of Emiliania huxleyi in the oceans by pollution, silica run-off and reduction in nutrients via the Kriegesmarine effect.
Reduced bubbles, all part of my overarching mega theory of CC, but I’d not realised how much bubbles effect albedo. Add that to smoothed waters’ lower albedo, plankton changes, reduced CCN production both mechanical and biological….
What was it? It must be CO2 because we can’t think of anythng else it can be.
JF

Stephen Singer

So, how many ocean species do you suppose this nut case idea will exterminate? Do you suppose this would finish off the coral they are so worried about. Bubbles made of what, and how will it affect the oceans PH?
Anybody else care to speculate about the potential downside to this hair brained scheme.

How on earth would you fill an entire ocean with bubbles? Mind you, it could be dubbed the world’s largest Jacuzzi!
Bus seriously, the man needs to get a hobby, or something.

Tiny bubbles, under the sea,
Make Earth cooler, and carbon-free!

G.L. Alston

baahumbug — I suppose the author needs grants for more research? My answer is NO, go get a proper job.
Seitz has one and he’s brilliant. He’s also hilarious; check out his web site. I think it’s admanant dot typepad dot com (or was at one time.)

Please keep these people FAR away from even a simple chemistry set!

G.L. Alston

I can’t type. Bugger.
It’s ADAMANT dot typepad dot com
Sorry folks.

Pat Moffitt

This may fall into the category of the cure is worse than the disease. I imagine a uniform foam layer would severely disrupt the ability of freshwater aquatic insects to hatch, it would impact the quality and quantity of light penetrating the water column negatively affecting primary production, it would certainly have a negative impact on the foraging success of fish eating birds by interfering with their ability to spot prey and may impact the gas flux between the water and atmosphere. On the ocean it may also impact wind wave propagation. This “idea” may to be worse than bio-fuels.

Doesn’t the water look green for a reason. Are we sure we want to block light with a trillion ton’s of palmolive?

AlexB

Of course because increasing the dissolved oxygen content in the sea will have no ecological impact whatsoever.

*sigh* Beware the unintended consequences…
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2009/03/24/iron-dumping-experiment-is-a-bust-it-feeds-crustaceans-doesnt-trap-carbon/
This geoengineering junk amazes me! DOE Sec. Chu wants to put sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, paint all streets/rooftops white, and now these clowns want to completely shut down the photosynthesis in the oceans with foam??
Excuse me, I forgot to turn my lights off! Happy Belated Earth Hour!

FergalR

To paraphrase Dr. Trenberth:
“The fact that we can not account for what is happening in the climate system makes any consideration of geoengineering quite hopeless as we will never be able to tell if it is successful or not! It is a travesty!”
No, wait, that’s not a paraphrase , it’s a direct quote 😐

GaryPearse

Its called geoengineering for a good reason! Fanciful thinking by a phizzicist professor is quite different than the kind of thinking an engineer must do. The problems are enormous. The energy required enormous, beyond enormous if the bubbles only last a few hours and the only reliable, predictable energy sources would be disqualified by these magic kingdom characters. Windmills! This quixotic technology has already failed miserably to deliver reliable power in Europe and the US and is ridiculously expensive to build and maintain.
There is much more for the engineer to consider here (distribution – how to deploy this flotilla of windmills, etc. but let’s move on to another galaxy of problems. Surely even an academic phizzicist like the good Dr would start by asking the marine biology department at his own university if this might kill off the earth’s precious plankton or other marine life. An engineer certainly would. Goofy geoengineering ideas from under-employed phizzicists (sounds like the noise you get when you decouple an air-hose doesn’t it?) are usually of the how-hard-could-it-be type. And he has peers that will review this dross?

rbateman

This is nothing more than a repackaging attempt to get around the key question:
Should we be doing this?
The answer is no.
Forfeiting the opportunity to adapt is the price to be paid.
Make a mistake and for the next 30 – 40 years the die is cast.
Even if the direction guess is correct (and it appears highly probable that it is not) and you cool a warming planet, the next cooling cycle will plunge from an artificially lowered starting point.
Either way it is sliced, gambling with the climate is sheer insanity and doomed to failure.
In both cases, cooling a warming planet and cooling a cooling planet, there is no
undo button.
Let me repeat that:
There is NO UNDO button.
No way to warm an artificially cooled planet.
2/3 of the planet is ocean, and you have no way to artificially warm it.

Louis Hissink

I wonder if all this nonsense happens because we have too many scientists looking for anything to stifle the boredom in academia……….

peter_ga

This is probably OT.
http://www.physorg.com/news188827980.html
NASA Study Finds Atlantic ‘Conveyor Belt’ Not Slowing
“Looking further back with satellite altimeter data alone before the float data were available, Willis found evidence that the circulation had sped up about 20 percent from 1993 to 2009. This is the longest direct record of variability in the Atlantic overturning to date and the only one at high latitudes.
The latest climate models predict the overturning circulation will slow down as greenhouse gases warm the planet and melting ice adds freshwater to the ocean.”
Maybe we should hold off on the large scale geo-engineering for now.

Michael J. Bentley

Timhulsey,
Yes Tim, I believe we are that stupid – as a species. We understand the pendulum of thought swings back and forth – and we know the highest speed is through the center of the swing so reasonable thought is just a fleeting second in this history long oscillation.
Mike

John Egan

Beer has lots of bubbles.
Bavaria has lots of beer.
Therefore Bavaria is cooling.

Doug S

Steve Goddard (20:44:20) :
Don Ho solved this problem many years ago.
Tiny bubbles (tiny bubbles)
In the wine (in the wine)
Make me happy (make me happy)
Make me feel fine (make me feel fine)

excellent! LOL

pft

I can’t imagine anyone funding such research since it could only be implemented on a less than global scale, and we all know the AGW is a fraud to justify a global carbon tax, unless the neo-malthusians want to plunge us into another ice age to reduce population by 90%.
Of course, geoengineering has military applications. It has long been recognized that controlling the weather of your opponent, or on the battle field could be useful. Google “owning the weather 2025”. But at least thats a useful application that makes a degree of sense.
In any event, if any scientist really think they understand weather and climate well enough to engineer climate on a global scale, they need to get help. That 3 deg C change has a bit of uncertainty, and a 3 deg C change in global temperatures could very well trigger another ice age and lead to a 10 deg C or more drop, not to mention what it might do to ocean life that relies on photosynthesis, and that life that relies on them being present in large numbers for food.

Amino Acids in Meteorites

In an effort to curb global warming, scientists have proposed everything…
Did they check first to see if global warming is even happening?
The Climate Response Fund—fund—does that have something to do with money?
“Brighten the water.” Well, at least the water is getting brighter. Don’t think I can say the same for the guys involved.

Larry

The only “bubbles” that exist in this story are the bubbles inside the brains of Seitz and others who propose such fanciful stuff without proper consideration of the possible consequences. They are bubbleheads.

Amino Acids in Meteorites

Jeff Id (21:37:28) :
Doesn’t the water look green for a reason. Are we sure we want to block light with a trillion ton’s of palmolive?
One of those unintended consequences Michael Crichton warned of. You create the bubbles that reflect the light back up and kill the life in the water that depends on the light going in to the water.

Seitz says adding bubbles to a 1-square-kilometer patch of ocean is feasible, but scaling it up may be technically difficult.

Ya think? Try scaling that up 360,000,000 times. As in total surface area of the worlds oceans is about 360 million km2. More like technically impossible ya twit
peace,
Tim.

Amino Acids in Meteorites

Computer simulations show that tiny bubbles could have a profound cooling effect.
Ahhhh, I see now, computer simulations—follow that money!

dr.bill

This is a completely feasible idea. The oceans have a total area of about 360 million km². Germany, which is bigger than about 3/4 of the countries on the planet, has an area of about 360 thousand km². Thus we simply need to divide the oceans up into 1000 regions the size of Germany, and put a bubble-machine in the middle of each one. Nothing more complicated than one machine every 600 km (360 mi) or so. Maintenance and reliability wouldn’t be a problem. We’d just run them on self-adjusting solar panels and windmills made of unobtanium. Piece of cake!
It used to be that we doodled [self-snip] like this on the back of an envelope, and then threw it away. Nowadays it gets published. Interesting times….
/dr.bill

pat

This is what happens when idiots are allowed to think out loud. And a real reason why the Japanese and Koreans have surpassed America and Europe in REAL science and the Chinese think we are nobodies. This is not science. This is daydreaming. Our PhDs are “obamanations”.

AndrewG

I’m just waiting for someone, somewhere to come out with the line “The only was of saving the planet is to destroy it”
Yet another engineering nightmare proposal that solves a non problem by introducing about 10 more.

higley7

There’s just no limit to how far “scientists” will go to keep their grant funding.
For them to think that any geoengineering is even necessary means that they do not understand basic science.
If they understood basic science they could not support AGW.
“It is hard to expect a man to see the truth when his livelihood and family income depends on him not seeing it.” – author unknown

I am sure someone will find that an oil film would accomplish much the same goal, be much easier to cover large areas with little effort, and can be done for almost no cost (just loosen the environmental contols for offshore dirillling rigs).
Seriously, how are you going to string millions of miles of pipes on the ocean bottom, compress air to a gazillion psi to bubble from 18,000 feet deep. Get real! What frosts me isthis guy is probably getting a quarter of a million dollar grant from the government (from us) to come up with this cockomamie idea. Better to paint all the roads and parking lots white.
Now give me a quarter of a mil for that one…or the oil one.

Mike J

“Computer simulations show that tiny bubbles could have a profound cooling effect. ”
Profound…. is that similar to ‘robust’?
How about this – pump a whole bunch of Co2 into the oceans. That will solve the atmospheric Co2 problem and make the sea like Coke-a-Cola and improve buoyancy so those Cola ads will be even more fantastic and then we can all float up to heaven in a bubble and there will be no more arguments because Coke is the real thing. If I had a PhD (and enough funding) I could make this robust hypothesis fly, I’m sure I could!

jorgekafkazar

FergalR (21:44:51) : “The fact that we can not account for what is happening in the climate system makes any consideration of geoengineering quite hopeless as we will never be able to tell if it is successful or not! It is a travesty!” –Dr. Trenberth
I’m beginning to like this guy.

DesertYote

Just like progressives. Implement solutions to non-existent problems in dynamic systems that cause the very affect that is considered the problem.Then introduce even more solutions that exasperate the problem even father. Repeat until world dominion.

Hotlink

Is this guy essentialy proposing a planetary sized protein skimmer?

Actually, this skeptic thinks there may be a chance that we may not be able to offset the effects of AGW/ACC. So, tiny bubbles, mirrors in the sand, shaving and polishing our heads, may not be enough to reverse the damage. Even if we were to completely shut off all CO2 emissions, we may be too late.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=risks-of-global-warming-rising
Ok. Some of you may think I’m an alarmist. But hold on a minute. I am a skeptic, just like you. I just happen to see things from a different viewpoint. Does that mean I can’t be a skeptic? And, isn’t this a site for skeptics? So, cool your jets a bit. Ok? May as well welcome another fellow skeptic aboard, right?
To help put this all into perspective, I created a timeline to help me, and others, to see how this all evolved over time. This isn’t new. It wasn’t invented by Mann, or Gore, or the IPCC. It actually goes way back in time.
http://www.slrtx.com/blog/climate-science-timeline/
So, this skeptic is of the opinion that there’s significant evidence that AGW/ACC is real. But, it may be too late to offset the negative effects.
So, am I drinking the koolaide, as it’s often claimed? No. I’m more like what’s described here:
http://www.skeptic.com/about_us/manifesto.html
And here:
http://www.slrtx.com/blog/baloney-detection-kit/
And here:

Ryder20

Classic, Tim!
Luke Skywarmer (21:16:40) :
Tiny bubbles in the wine….. Don Ho, born Donald Tai Loy Ho

ya that’s the best I could find lol
Tim

Leon Brozyna

Sheer brilliance.
And speaking of unintended consequences, I wonder how the lawsuits will be handled when winter snowstorms rage to levels not experienced since the Little Ice Age.
Or the impact on hurricane directions.
Perhaps Catlin would like to do the underwriting. If they think climate change is bad, just wait’ll they get the bill for claims due to geoengineering.

rbateman

It’s Saturday night, and here we are discussing the next Global Disaster movie script.

rbateman

jorgekafkazar (22:34:14) :
And if we give them the licence to proceed, they will keep trying even though nothing happens at first. By the time they manage to change the climate and are sure it has changed, they will discover the law of unintended consequences has a huge climactic lag to it. And it will keep right on cooling.
“George, the brakes are about to fail. Smell ’em?”
‘Naw, that’s just some new car smell. We can stop on a dime on this long grade.
Besides, we got a 5 year unlimited warranty from that nice salesman, and those guard rails will save us’

John Whitman

So, to me this ‘tiny bubbles in some foam on the ocean’ Havard idea implies the follow is just as viable and much less dangerous:
Pass a law where all daytime beer drinkers are required to drink their beer from 1 m wide by 1 m long by 1 cm deep trays using either a doglke lapping technique or using a straws. The temporary (until you drink all the beer) tiny beer foam bubbles on the large surface area will have same effect as screwing around with foam making machines in the oceans. DON’T screw around with the oceans.
John