the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Waterwars

Posted by Jeff Id on May 12, 2010

I really enjoy Willis Eschenbach’s posts on WUWT.  He’s a good writer and makes reading fun.  Today he’s put one up on the super cloud maker ships which launch water into the air to increase cloud cover and save us all from global warming doom.

Bill Gates invested in the project apparently, but Willis found some of the basic numbers to do some calculation on the invention.

Cool image from WUWT post. Figure 1. Artist’s conception of cloud-making ships. Of course, the first storm would flip this over immediately, but heck, it’s only a fantasy, so who cares? SOURCE

The ship launches 10 tons of water per second to 3000 ft altitude.

The machines, developed by a San Francisco-based research group called Silver Lining, turn seawater into tiny particles that can be shot up over 3,000 feet in the air.  The particles increase the density of clouds by increasing the amount of nuclei contained within. Silver Lining’s floating machines can suck up ten tons of water per second.

Willis did a quick calculation for how much power it would take to launch the wter at 100 psi.

Next, how much fuel will this use? The basic equation for pumps is:

Water flow (in liters per second) = 5.43 x pump power (kilowatts) / pressure (bars)

So to pump 10,000 litres per second (neglecting efficiency losses) with a pressure of 3 bars (100 psi) will require about 5,500 kilowatts.

Willis’s calculation is off by a bit.  I don’t know about you but my 100 psi garden hose has difficulty launching water much over 20 ft, can you imagine the fun your kids would have in the yard if you could spray up to 3000 ft??

Just for fun, I ran the wattage required to lift 10 tons to 3000 ft every second.

power = (weight * height)/second
= (20,000lb *4.448 N / lb)(3000ft*.3048m/ft)/1 second
= 81,345,000 = 81 million watts (MW)

If you start looking at engine and pump efficiency, you can multiply this number by 4 or more times.  Let’s say they got everything right though and you only loose half due to efficiency and need 160 MW per ship to launch the water.

It would require about 200,000 horsepower of engine and pump.

I guess two of these baby’s per ship ought to do it.

Actually the engine efficiency is said to be 50% at the highest settings.  So, if we take my above calculations and look at pump losses, energy for vaporization and running the engines at less than full power, 6 of these engines is probably a more accurate calculation.

73 Responses to “Waterwars”

  1. Retired Engineer said

    Jeff, your calculation only includes water. How much energy will it take to shred the fish and plankton these things suck up? How much downforce will it generate? Might make a good fast dive submarine …

    The folks at Silver Lining “developed” it? Fantasized, maybe.

    Your tax dollars probably paid for this somewhere along the line.

  2. JimBrock said

    Retired engineer scooped me. I was wondering how much downward force this would generate. I guess 20000 pounds? This would be the equivalent of a 20000 pound displacement in addition to the weight of the ship. At 62.4 pounds per cubic foot (salt water would be more dense, I know) this would be about 320 cubic feet in additional volume. Doable, I guess.

  3. Black Sabbath said

    My God, what a catastrophic stupid waste of money for something that is totally make-believe. How much is Gates getting in tax breaks for this crap? No way he or anyone else is doing this out of the goodness of his heart – somewhere, we’re all paying for this foolishness.

  4. Kevin Davis said

    Just think of how much CO2 those cloud ships would generate! There would be polar bears falling out of the clouds in no time.

  5. Fred said

    That design is to ship stability what Vista is to Operating System stability.

    No wonder it appeals to Bill Gates.

  6. Frank K. said

    As long as it doesn’t involve any of our tax dollars, they can knock themselves out. It won’t make any difference to the climate, it won’t make the world any better, but it will line the pockets of a few in the Global Warming Industry, Inc.

    Also – who will protect these ships from Somali pirates??

  7. kdk33 said

    and you’re not including air resistance, which would be considerable, since the mist would have considerable surface area.

  8. Jeff Id said

    #7 It’s worse than that too because if you want to carry the stuff to 3000 ft, how much velocity do you need to get it there. I don’t think they are planning to build the towers 3000 ft tall so the pump viscosity losses will probably be huge.

  9. Chuckles said

    The ship doesn’t launch 10 tons of water per second.
    It isn’t a ship. It is an ‘artists impression’ of a concept of a ship that might do that.
    i.e. It’s not even handwavium. Typical grant money sink.

    Take the money and build some nukes.

  10. Russ said

    Like I said on the website Climate Change Fraud a couple days ago: This will probably turn out to be a hurricane generator. If that happens they will say told you so, global warming is linked to more severe storms.

  11. Thoughtful Tom said

    It doesn’t solve ocean acidification. Makes prevention look slightly better.

  12. timetochooseagain said

    Geoengineering is, IMAO a VERY bad idea. There are big risks and it’s not clear we’d really benefit.

  13. kdk33 said

    @ jeff

    About 440 ft/s – Bernoulli’s equation lets us interchange velocity head, pressure head, and lift. 3000 feet of lift is about 1300 psi which is about 440 ft/s.

    Also ship costs sould be dominated by the costs of the pump gear; so, assuming a scaling exponent of 0.6, cost per ship would be (10/0.8)^0.6 * $15MM = $68MM, not the $20MM the Willis postulates.

  14. Jeff Id said

    #13, I’m at work, can you figure out the thrust from launching 10 tons of water per second at 440 ft/second?

    BTW, if you can buy a ship which will launch that much water for less than 250 million, I would be shocked.

  15. Bill Illis said

    It is hard to imagine these ships staying afloat when they are attaching 3 rocket/jet engines which point/will thrust downward toward the bottom of the ocean.

    They will make nice artificial coral reefs afterwards.

  16. Ed Moran said

    Black Sabbath (@3)is a bit harsh. One positive is the whole thing had me laughing out loud. Hard on Bill G as well. He donated to research not to a project. Wouldn’t be surprised if he heard about this rubbish at the same time as us.

  17. BarryW said

    Good lord,

    I can’t even imagine what sort of knock-on effects might be generated by launching that much saltwater into the lower atmosphere. The energy to generate this has to go somewhere.

  18. kdk33 said

    (20,000 lbm/s) * (440 ft/s) * (1/32.2 lbf*s2/lbm*ft) = 275,000 lbf – about 4400 cubic feet of sea water.

    On ship costs: I think you are right. The correct scaling variable should be Flow*delta-P (I just used flow), so let’s assume the fire boat puts up 0.8 tons/S with 200 psi delta P. Then the estimate for the global cooling vessel is ((10*1300)/(0.8*200)^0.6 * $15MM = $210 MM.

    How much fradulent funding has this AGW nonsense already generated – not considering the opportunity costs as real science goes unfunded.

  19. None said

    So lets get this straight. The models predict runaway global warming due to water vapour content triggered by the slight warming due to increased CO2, and someone is suggesting pumping trillions of litres of water into the atmosphere to prevent it…

    One of them must be wrong…

  20. Chuckles said

    A couple of caveats from the comments on Willis’ article h/t Lokki & Stephen Salter

    The figure of ten tonnes of spray per second was NOT per vessel but was the estimate for total spray from a fleet of 300 ships and, depending assumptions for initial nuclei concentration and drop half life, we think would be enough reverse the cumulative warming since pre-industrial times. Vessel displacement is 300 tonnes and plant rating about 150 kW all of which would come from the wind. This gives a rough cost estimate of $2 to $3 million each. Plankton have to be filtered from the water and will be returned to the sea.

    The motive power will come from Flettner Rotors….

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotor_ship

    Numbers of remotely controlled spray vessels will sail back and forth, perpendicular to the local prevailing wind. The motion through the water will drive underwater ‘propellers’ acting in reverse as turbines to generate electrical energy needed for spray production.

    Electrical energy for spray and rotor drive will be generated by a pair of 2.4 m diameter axial-flow turbines on either side of the hull as shown in figure 10. These are very much larger than any propellers needed for a vessel of this size but can act as propellers for 10 hours in windless conditions using energy from a bank of Toshiba SCiB batteries. The vessels will also carry a liquid-cooled version of the Zoche ZO 01A radial diesel aero engine to give trans-ocean range in emergency. The turbine rotation speed will be limited by cavitation to approximately 80 r.p.m. This is fast enough for the use of polyphase permanent-magnet rim generators built into the turbine ducts. Tiles of neodymium-boron magnets will be moved past wet printed-circuit pancake stator windings sealed in glass-flake epoxy Parylene.

    So it will have a diesel, the Zoche ZO 01A is a 150 horsepower diesel…

  21. mark said

    I have only one question, “Did Al Gore develop this idea?”

  22. Frank K. said

    I really don’t see how this scheme would ever work. With the droplet sizes involved, I’m willing to bet that that vast majority of liquid water and water vapor never makes it very high in the atmosphere before falling back to the ocean or diffusing. This also sounds a bit like the failed cloud seeding experiments of the 50s and 60s.

    But hey its Bill Gate’s money…

  23. Looking at the ‘artist’s conception,’ uh…. Are those… ummm….. “Ribbed for Gaia’s Pleasure,” or not? Just asking. ;)

  24. Nick Stokes said

    Like most people who think AGW is a problem, I don’t think schemes like this are the answer. But I don’t think this thread has got this proposal right.

    It’s a scheme for cloud brightening, not cloud creation. It aims to increase reflectivity of existing clouds with salt-based aerosols. As such, it doesn’t need to spray to 3000 ft. It aims to create more spray, above the sea/air boundary layer where winds are stronger.

    It shouldn’t add a lot of water to the air. They would spray when clouds are about, so RH will be pretty high anyway.

    The likely strongest objection is to salt being carried onto land. This is already a big problem in places like SW Australia.

    Frank, cloud seeding actually worked. The problem was that seeding in one place took rain from somewhere else. Lawsuits killed it.

  25. Mark T said

    11.Thoughtful Tom said
    May 12, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    It doesn’t solve ocean acidification.

    Oceans aren’t becoming more acidic, they are becoming less basic, or more neutral. The two do not mean the same thing. “Ocean acidification” is a phrase generated to scare people like you that don’t know the difference since saying “ocean nuetralization” doesn’t carry the same weight. Granted, the term is used by skeptics and believers, scientists and non-scientists alike, but that doesn’t change the fact that oceans aren’t becoming more acidic until they actually get below a pH of 7.

    Mark

  26. Nick Stokes said

    Re: Mark T (May 12 21:56),
    “oceans aren’t becoming more acidic until they actually get below a pH of 7″

    That makes no sense on two levels. First, it makes perfectly good sense to describe anything that lowers pH as acidification. You don’t require that temperature rises above, say, 0C before it can be described as warming.

    But the mention of pH 7 is pointless. That is the neutral point of pure water, where its acid and base species are in balance. It has no relevance to the ocean, which is a buffered carbonate system, and where H+ is a very minor acidic component. The main acid species is CO2 and its hydrate, and the main base is carbonate, with bicarb being, well, bi. Where that could be described as balanced is hard to say, but it won’t be at pH 7.

    And the state of the buffered system is what really matters, because it determines the solubility of CaCO3, which is the environmental issue.

  27. Mark T said

    26.Nick Stokes said
    May 12, 2010 at 10:31 pm
    Re: Mark T (May 12 21:56),

    First, it makes perfectly good sense to describe anything that lowers pH as acidification.

    No, it doesn’t.

    You don’t require that temperature rises above, say, 0C before it can be described as warming.

    Which is a silly analogy. The term “warming” indicates an increase along a line. pH is a measure of positive and negative ions, i.e., it is more like a ratio.

    But the mention of pH 7 is pointless.

    No, it is the point at which positive (H+) and negative (OH-) ions are equal.

    It has no relevance to the ocean, which is a buffered carbonate system, and where H+ is a very minor acidic component. The main acid species is CO2 and its hydrate, and the main base is carbonate, with bicarb being, well, bi. Where that could be described as balanced is hard to say, but it won’t be at pH 7.

    Immaterial. The point at which pH is 7 it is neutral, whether it is water or any other substance. Above 7 is a base, and below 7 is an acid. Thus, if the reference to the pH were immaterial, then it wouldn’t be either acidic or basic, which renders the term “acidification” would not make sense either, so in a sense, you proved my point.

    You spend too much time defending the things that should not be defended.

    Mark

  28. Mark T said

    The bottom line, Nick, is that you can’t have it both ways. The terms acid and base are defined w.r.t. pure water, i.e., a pH of 7. Either the mention of pH is pointless, in which case the term “acidification” is meaningless, or the mention of pH is not pointless, in which case the term “acidification” is equally meaningless. Either way, it is a term used purely for its emotional impact on those that don’t know the difference. You know the difference, yet push it anyway. Tsk, tsk.

    Mark

  29. OctalBear said

    Sounds like “vapour” ware to me :-)

  30. Nick Stokes said

    Re: Mark T (May 12 23:40),
    “The terms acid and base are defined w.r.t. pure water, i.e., a pH of 7.”
    Any reference for that? It’s untrue. There’s a long history of the definition of the terms acid and base.Here’s NYU:
    The oldest – Arrhenius is a little bit like yours. But it is now much more general.
    Lowry-Bronsted
    Lewis
    No mention of pH 7 there. And that’s just “acid”. “Acidify” is evcen more general.

  31. timetochooseagain said

    28-

    Either way, it is a term used purely for its emotional impact on those that don’t know the difference.

    Untrue, it’s also used because “debasement” sounds silly and is already a word. ;)

  32. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Nick Stokes (May 13 00:47),

    Speaking as an analytical chemist, I have to go with Nick here. There are many other solvents than water and there is acid/base chemistry in all of them. Neutral is not necessarily pH 7 in a non-aqueous solvent either. If you had an aqueous solution at pH 12 and lowered it to pH 11 by the addition of a quantity of acid, you have acidified that solution even though the pH is still basic. The opposite of acidify is basify. If you had an aqueous solution at pH2 and increased the pH to 3 by adding a quantity of base, you have basified the solution even though the pH of the solution is still acidic.

  33. mrpkw said

    A complete ninny idea !!
    Sheesh !!!!!!!
    I always have to ask the larger question, what if (and that is a big if) this idea did work. SHOULD WE EVEN DO IT????? Remember that 70’s commercial “It’s not nice to fool (with) Mother Nature?”

  34. mrpkw said

    Can anyone re-photoshop the picture to show just a giant floating “Vick’s vaporizer”?

  35. Craigo said

    I reckon there’s money to be made selling your soul for co2. The warmists sure can afford some good “mind enhancing substances”. Perhaps sucking too long on a brown paper bag filled with co2 does it???

  36. Frank K. said

    Nick Stokes said
    May 12, 2010 at 9:42 pm
    “Frank, cloud seeding actually worked. The problem was that seeding in one place took rain from somewhere else. Lawsuits killed it.”

    Hmmmm…

    http://www.pnas.org/content/69/6/1348.full.pdf

    Re-Evaluation of the Arizona Cloud-Seeding Experiment
    Neyman et al.
    Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA
    Vol. 69, No. 6, pp. 1348-1352 June 1972

    ABSTRACT

    “The apparent effect of cloud seeding on the
    average 24-hr precipitation in the Santa Catalina Mountains
    during the two programs of the 7-year-long Arizona
    experiment was found to be a 30% loss of rain (P = 0.06).
    Considering rainy days only, the apparent effect is a 34%
    loss of rain
    (P = 0.03). On South-East days the apparent
    loss was 40%
    (P = 0.03). The analysis of the diurnal variation
    in the amounts of hourly precipitation brought out two
    suggestions: (i) more active silver iodide enters the clouds
    through seeding at their bases than at the -60C
    level; (ii) the population of experimental days includes
    two categories with opposite responses to seeding:
    augmentations of rain in one case and losses in the other.
    These suggestions require independent confirmation.”

    There are more articles online like this…

    Of course, like climate science, that hasn’t stopped governments around the world from wasting spending millions of tax dollars on this fruitless research…

  37. Russ said

    DeWitt Payne said Speaking as an analytical chemist, I have to go with Nick here. There are many other solvents than water and there is acid/base chemistry in all of them. Neutral is not necessarily pH 7 in a non-aqueous solvent either.

    OK, that is fine but we are talking about the ocean, not many other solvents and the ocean is water. Pure water has a pH of 7. Water is often referred to as the universal solventand basicly the standard pH is measured from. Substances that dissolve in water salts, sugars, acids, alkalis change it’s pH. But the oceans of the world right now is on the basic side of the pH scale they are slightly costic.

    You Speaking as an analytical chemist should know better, if that is even what you are, and I stan by Mark T’s comments

  38. Carrick said

    Frank K, notice the year of your reference. There’s been a lot of progress since 1972.

    Nick is wrong only about it not getting used. It is. Wikipedia has a decent summary of the practice and it’s efficacy.

    Your study reminds me of the nutritional studies showing that increasing vitamin C dosages doesn’t confer a benefit—when the studies used forms of vitamin C that the body has trouble absorbing. If you are getting no effect, there are at least two reasons why this can happen, one of them being you’re doing something wrong.

  39. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Come on guys if someone defines pH in a given solution we know what they are talking about. That there are several definitions and degrees of acidity should not be the point. All we need is a litmus test.

  40. Russ said

    A litmus test for what, and in what context?

  41. Russ said

    pH is the quantitative measure of the strength of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution.

    Why do people here always refer to the degrees of acidity and not the degrees of alkalinity, when alkalinity extremes are just as hazardous as the acidity extremes?

    My guess is the AGW anti CO2 greenies out there are trying to make something out of nothing again to create alarmism. That Shock and Awe effect that the sky is falling so they can suck that other green thing called money out of peoples pockets.

  42. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Russ (May 13 10:11),

    I know that any reduction of pH caused by addition of an acid is acidification. Any chemist would interpret “ocean acidification” as a reduction in pH, not necessarily a reduction below pH 7. You seem to think that acidification is semantically loaded when it’s just a term of art. Do you seriously believe that stating it as “reduction in alkalinity” would be more accurate and less semantically loaded?

    That being said, I think the whole thing has been exaggerated beyond reason. The ocean isn’t a beaker in a lab. There’s all sorts of biological dynamics involved as well as chemistry. Overfishing, pollution and damage from nets is far more deadly to coral than any small decrease in pH due to the increase in atmospheric CO2.

  43. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Russ (May 13 11:54),

    pH is defined as the negative of the log base 10 of the hydrogen ion activity. Period.

    One could also define pOH for hydroxide ion. But that isn’t what’s measured by pH sensitive dyes or glass electrodes.

  44. timetochooseagain said

    With regard to whether cloud seeding works, William Cotton is something of an expert on weather modification:

    http://www.heartland.org/bin/media/newyork09/PowerPoint/William_Cotton.ppt

    “The documentation of increases in precipitation on the ground due to glaciogenic seeding of cumuli has been very elusive”

    “The evidence that seeding orographic clouds can cause significant increases in snowpack is quite compelling”

    “The results of hygroscopic seeding experiments are quite promising but they still do not constitute a “proof” that hygroscopic seeding can enhance rainfall on the ground over an extended area.”

    Basically, cloud seeding isn’t as cut and dry proven as Nick suggests. Some ways of cloud seeding seem to work, in other cases the evidence is ambiguous.

    But supposing cloud seeding is proven-the fact that lawsuits would claim that rain was “taken” from one place to another is not the only problem that killed it. It’s also very dubious that it would be cost effective.

  45. Russ said

    No I don’t believe that stating it as “reduction in alkalinity” would be more accurate and less semantically loaded. I am calling it for what it is. The AGW anti CO2 greenies out there are trying to make something out of nothing to create alarmism. Because the average Joe out there know what acid is so they use ocean acidification to play on fears that i.

    Any chemist would interpret “ocean acidification” as a reduction in pH, not necessarily a reduction below pH 7.
    You see by this comment you made here it is a non problem so why don’t they the term “ocean pH neutralization ” that would describe exactily what you said, but NO that isn’t alarming enough.

    And I do agree with your last about Overfishing, pollution and damage from nets is far more deadly to coral than any small decrease in pH due to the increase in atmospheric CO2.

  46. Russ said

    DeWitt Payne said pH is defined as the negative of the log base 10 of the hydrogen ion activity. Period.

    So DeWitt Payne from what Standard is that measured from?

  47. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Russ (May 13 14:33),

    Unit activity, of course.

  48. DeWitt Payne said

    Actually it’s worse than that. There isn’t a universal international pH scale. Since pH represents a single ion activity and therefore isn’t directly measurable, one needs to define buffer solutions to calibrate the measurement device. Different national standards organizations use different buffers and as a result, measured pH can vary slightly depending on which system one uses. See for example here.

  49. M. Simon said

    Come on guys if someone defines pH in a given solution we know what they are talking about. That there are several definitions and degrees of acidity should not be the point. All we need is a litmus test.

    Cute.

    I especially liked the following comment. Evidently the original meaning of “litmus test” has been lost overtime.

  50. Nick Stokes said

    Re: timetochooseagain (May 13 14:21),
    Well, maybe not cut and dried – but I do have stories to tell about that. These guys were close colleagues of mine at the time, and I listened to many statistical analyses of the results. The Tasmanian experiments convinced a lot of people, including a number of farmers who thought that their rain had been taken away. No lawsuits eventuated, but their vigorous opposition meant that CSIRO just could not continue with major experiments. Their nervousness was reinforced by actual lawsuits in California at the time (or at least a local belief that there were such lawsuits).

    Here’s a follow-up paper indicating that faith in the process persisted despite the political difficulty. Incidentally, Graeme Stephens, mentioned in your PPT, was working with that Division, although not on cloud seeding.

    Cloud seeding is not particularly expensive.

  51. Geoff Sherrington said

    48. DeWitt Payne, and at 43. Nice to meet a fellow chemist who was taught the precise terminology and chemistry.

    Those pinkies who cannot spell phenolphthalein should be silent.

    Do you know, I have not been able to get an answer from the big guys about any experiment where ordinary ocean water was titrated with CO2 and the pH measured. They seem to do it all with computational phase diagrams with equilibrium constants and solubilities. Like, uh, they model it. Maybe I’ll email Coca Cola Corporation for an answer.

  52. Russ said

    Yeah DeWitt, I thought you’d come back with a smart ass answer to dance around the question.
    When all you had to say is pure H2O at a pH 7 is the standard.

  53. Tamara said

    Thought I’d weigh in on the pH question, from the pharmaceutical chemist point of view.

    I agree that it is mostly semantics, but I don’t think it is harmless or unintentional that what is going on in the oceans is being labelled as “acidification.” It is meant to provoke alarm, because most people know that acid is bad for living things. Most people don’t know the pH of the ocean. They probably only barely remember that pure water is neutral, and would probably be surprised to see the actual pH of their tapwater (in this building it is around pH 6.7, we’re drinking acid!!!). Would Joe Schmoe care that the oceans changed from pH 8.3 to 8.2?

    I sometimes perform a test where I titrate a solution of about pH 1.7 with NaOH to an endpoint of about pH 3.5. We call this test, acid neutralization, not acid basification.

    My only point is that words mean things, and when we blur or twist the meanings it is probably a sign that we have an agenda. There are instances when reporters or other laypeople state that the oceans are “becoming acid” not just “acidifying.” This shows that there is a misunderstanding generated by the terminology.

  54. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Russ (May 14 09:15),

    Cite your reference. I cited mine.

    Have you ever tried to measure the pH of pure water? It’s nearly impossible. With a resistivity of 18.2 megohm cm, you can’t just stick a pH electrode in it and get a reading that means anything. I’ve actually had people tell me that ultra-pure water fresh out of a Milli-Q system had a pH of anywhere from 4 to 9.

    For practical pH measurement the NIST provides standard reference material grade buffers for calibration. Ultra-pure water isn’t one of them. So the pH of ultra-pure water is not a defining point for the pH scale like the triple point of water is for temperature. Rather, the pH scale defines the pH of ultra-pure water as 7.

  55. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Tamara (May 14 11:21),

    I would just call it titration.

    Acidosis in humans is defined as having a blood pH less than 7.35, yet 7.35 is still slightly alkaline.

    Journalists and other commentators are always going to get the scientific terminology wrong at times. The question is whether the published scientific papers are using incorrect terminology by referring to a change in pH from 8.3 to 8.2 as acidification. The answer is no, they’re not.

  56. Tamara said

    See this RC comment and response:
    17David Wojick says:
    4 July 2005 at 9:21 AM
    Re the response to my #9, no I don’t think I have it backwards. You (and the others) are using the term “acidification” to refer to a direction (lower pH) rather than a state change (becoming an acid), but the ordinary definition is “to make acidic.” To take an extreme case, it would seem odd to call a change from a pH of 14 to 13.8 an acidification, but maybe that is how the term is used in technical contexts.

    This is important because I, and most lay people who read about this I am sure, thought the ocean was becoming acidic (and acids are dangerous). It is actually becoming less basic, or more nearly neutral, which sound rather benign. Thus it appears to be an emotional use of the term “acidification.” As a journalist I am sensitive to the power of such distincitions. It is analogous to calling CO2 “pollution” when it is also the global food supply. It may be technically correct but it is also misleading.

    Second, do we really know the pH of the surface ocean in 1751 to 3 significant figures? I am curious how? Is there no regional or local or temporal variability, as there is with temperature? When someone says “estimated … near 8.25″ I become curious about the uncertainties (that is my scientific field).

    [Response:Yes, you have this right. It could be called “neutralization”, although (a) the change is demonstrably detrimental to calcifiers and (b) “neutral” has a connotation of “natural” which would be incorrect. I remember a shampoo ad when I was taking freshman chemistry, claiming it to be “low pH” which sounds better than “acidic”. David. ]

    The response demonstrates that “acidification” is preferred because it emphasizes the detrimental and unnatural aspects of the change in pH.

  57. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Tamara (May 14 12:52),

    The response demonstrates that “acidification” is preferred because it emphasizes the detrimental and unnatural aspects of the change in pH.

    And your point is? A relatively rapid decrease in surface ocean water pH could indeed be detrimental and unnatural. What’s rapid and how detrimental are controversial. The use of a semantically loaded, technically correct term that emphasizes the potential risk is probably justified, especially when other valid terms like neutralization are far too semantically loaded in the other direction. Find me a guide to authors for scientific journals that says that semantically neutral terms (probably no such animal anyway) are recommended or required.

  58. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Russ (May 14 09:15),

    Here’s another one from this link:

    How does a pH meter measure the response of a pH electrode?

    The potential difference developed between the reference electrode and sensing electrode is dependent on the activity of the hydrogen ions in solution. For an ideal electrode the response is defined by the Nernst equation:
    E = Eo – 2.3 (RT/nF) log aH
    +
    where: E = total potential (in mV) developed between the sensing and reference
    electrode
    Eo = standard potential of the electrode at aH+ = 1 mol/l
    R = Gas constant
    T = temperature °K
    n = valency of ion
    F = Faraday constant
    aH+ = activity of the hydrogen ion in solution

    [my emphasis]

    Do you see anything there about the pH of pure water? aH+ = 1 mol/l means unit activity of the hydrogen ion. As I stated above, that’s the reference point that determines zero on the pH scale.

  59. Tamara said

    DeWitt Payne,

    So, you agree that the use of the term “acidification” is meant to evoke an emotional response. The argument then becomes whether or not evoking such a response is, as you said “justified.” As with all things CO2-related, the questions of how fast, how unusual, and how severe are still being studied. As others have pointed out, there are difficulties in comparing our current ocean pH measurements to past measurements/proxies. So, the justification for the use of the emotive term will come long after the label has been applied.
    The line between “what do the data show” and “what do you want the audience to feel about the data” seems to be more blurred with regard to climate science than it is in some other sciences. But, that is just my opinion, not empirical.

  60. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Tamara (May 17 12:08),

    So, you agree that the use of the term “acidification” is meant to evoke an emotional response.

    Not entirely. Acidification is the term I would use if I were doing that sort of research because it most accurately describes what’s happening. If you didn’t know that the pH of surface sea water was alkaline, which is probably the case for most people, then using ‘neutralization’ would not tell you as much. One doesn’t refer to a blood pH less than 7.35 as neutralosis either for a similar reason.

  61. Russ said

    Poor DeWitt, still haven’t figured it out yet, can’t think for your self to understand it, has to go search for info and post it here to try and prove a point. although the links you posted are correct but you still don’t see it, do you. Your not a chemist, if you are, your a poor one, like a drone told it’s this way and goes on as that’s the way you were told it is. Good luck with that.

  62. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Russ (May 20 00:38),

    Poor Russ, such a troll, and not very good one to boot. *plonk*

  63. Russ said

    HAHA, Dewitt, You still haven’t figured it out, have you?

  64. Russ said

    Dewitt, what makes an acid and what makes a base?

  65. Russ said

    A hydronium ion H+ or in an aqueous cation H3O makes the acid, and a hydroxyl anion OH- makes the hydroxide that cancels each other out or neutralizes each other.
    So, H+ or H3O in an aqueous cation, when combined with OH- to neutralize each other makes what?

    Answer H2O or 2 molecules of H2O depending on how you look at the hydronium ion. And that is chemistry and in that chemistry makes pure water.

    In pure water, there is an equal number of hydroxide and hydronium ions, so it has a neutral pH of 7. A pH value less than 7 indicates an acidic solution, and a pH value more than 7 indicates a basic solution.

    Now as a chemist that you say you are can you see it? Have you figured it out now? I can’t explain it to you any more dumb downed than that since you made so many references to pH and said you were a chemist, so you should be able to understand it.

  66. Russ said

    DeWitt Payne! *plonk* back at you.

  67. Russ said

    DeWitt, I hear your killfile addon to Greasemonkey works very well here. HAHAHA That’s what I thought DeWitt, you just hide and ignore someone when your wrong.

  68. Russ said

    I guess DeWitt likes to decline and hide along with the term hide the decline.

  69. John Murphy said

    Assuming no air drag, the equations of motion say that 100MW is needed to lift 10,000 kg to 1000m. Then we have to factor in air drag, pump inefficiencies, the energy needed to separate the water into droplets (that is, create the additional surface against surface tension) and so on. Let’s say all up 750MW, which is pretty big coal-fired station to carry around – not to mention the coal ha! ha!.

    Surely they are not serious? Think of all the CO2! It might even cancel out the cooling effect of the cloud.

  70. John Murphy said

    Acids aren’t dangerous, per se. If you think they are, stop drinking your breakfast orange juice.

    This is nonsense. The sea is highly buffered by Ca ions. It takes a hell of a lot more CO2 than you’d think to shift the pH.

  71. John Murphy said

    DeWitt Payne

    No, it’s not an arbitrary definition to establish a scale. pH = -log (H+ concentration). That’s the definition. The pH of pure water is 7 because the [H+] is 10^-7 moles/litre, not because it is arbitrarily set at that value. A pH of 1 just means that [H+] is 10^-1 moles/litre, which is dangerously acidic.

  72. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: John Murphy (Jun 14 03:18),

    I thought that’s what I was saying. The pH of pure water is 7 because the autoprotolysis constant of water at 25 C is 1.01E-14 = [OH-]*[H3O+] so in pure water, [OH-]=[H3O+]= 1E-07. [x] means the concentration of x. At very low concentrations and ionic strength, concentration is equal to activity to a good approximation.

  73. Russ said

    No DeWitt, you were arguing with me about trying to twist this pH thing for some reason, and I guess your thought was wrong. Now what was that you said to me? Oh yeah,DeWitt Payne! *plonk* back at you.

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