Browsing Archive

May, 2012

Roger Revelle in 1980

In 1980, Roger Revelle, then the director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, was invited to give a talk titled “The Role of the Oceans in Earth’s Climate and Carbon Budget” at Lawrence Livermore National Labs. The talk is fascinating for several reasons. From an historical perspective, Revelle gives a great overview of how much we knew—and didn’t know—about climate science in 1980. He goes into depth on the state of the science, the uncertainties, and the next questions that needed to be answered.

What also comes across is how much Revelle really admired Charles David Keeling. Seventeen minutes into his talk, Revelle had barely mentioned theoceans. To explain this he said, “You said I was going to talk about the ocean, Dr. Batzel. I will talk about the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the sense that Dr. Keeling was brought to Scripps in 1957 to do that, to make these measurements as part of the International Geophysical Year, and he’s been making them ever since, and he’s still at Scripps. That’s at least one way in which the ocean affects the carbon dioxide problem.”

His conclusion and discussion for how to deal with the carbon dioxide problem sound eerily similar to pronouncements made today:

“The dilemma is compounded, however, and this I can’t emphasize too strongly, by the fact that decisive action must be taken in the next two or three decades if profound climatic changes 50 to 70 years into future are to be avoided. And the reason for this is obvious when you think about it, it takes about 50 years for a new energy source to penetrate the worldwide market. If we are going to make a transition, for example, from fossil fuels to nuclear energy or to solar energy or to wind energy, if you think about that as a major source of energy during the next 50 years from now, you better start right now. Certainly, we need a 30 year leap time for any major change in the sources and uses of energy. Let me conclude, by pointing out the carbon dioxide problem has begun to invade public consciousness at a critical time, when the worldwide industrial civilization is beginning to be shaken to its foundations by the disappearance of inexpensive sources of energy. This is a time when critical choices must be made about future sources and uses of energy and the realization that all potential energy sources, quite apart from the carbon dioxide problem, have serious social, economic and environmental liabilities. Government and industry must decide whether to invest vast sums, of the order of hundreds, perhaps even thousands of billions of dollars in production of synthetic liquid fuels from coal or oil shale, an equally expensive and widely unpopular alternative is construction of many new nuclear fission plants for generation of electricity or production of secondary fuels. Nuclear fission, as you all know better than I, as a long term alternative to fossil fuels, depends on development and wide use of nuclear breeder reactors with concomitant problems of proliferation of atomic weapons materials. Energy conservation is another, at least partial, alternative, energy now used in transportation can be conserved by large investments in mass transit. With all that these investments imply the changed structure of cities. Fundamental decisions must also be made, whether to continue present patterns of central station generation of electricity and electrical transmission grids or to develop local community sources. In the bitter competition for dwindling energy sources, the less developed countries without fossil fuel reserves of their own will inevitable be the losers. This means, as I pointed out, most of mankind. Even development assistance from the rich countries to the poor ones is jeopardized because development of the poor countries will inevitably lead both to great increases in their demand for energy, and perhaps even worse, in their ability to compete with the present industrialized countries to acquire fuels in the international markets. There is nothing really cheering about this report on the carbon dioxide problem but I guess I am convinced, that for the moment at least, it is not a very cheerful world.”

The video was provided to us by the charming, wonderful folks at Lawrence Livermore National Labs.

The Story of a Flying HIPPO: The HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observation Project

Since 2009, the HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observation (HIPPO) project has conducted a series of global flights to measure atmospheric constituents. The data collected on these flights will be vital for informing policy related to climate and climate change.

On HIPPO’s missions from August 9 to September 9, 2011, ClimateScience.tv provided the scientists and crew with a video camera to document their experiences. The HIPPO team returned with some stunning aerial footage, from the lush jungles of Hawaii to the icy floes of the Arctic Ocean. We took their dramatic images, combined them with post-flight interviews, and created this four-minute film documenting HIPPO’s month-long voyage around the globe.

To learn more about HIPPO, visit:

Up From the Briny Deep: Collecting Deep-Sea Sediment Cores

Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is home to the world’s largest collection of deep-sea sediment cores. These cores—and the microfossils contained in them—allow scientists to look back on thousands of years of climate conditions from all over the world. In this short film, Peter deMenocal, the chair of Columbia’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, describes new techniques for retrieving sediment cores from the depths of the ocean and how they help us understand global climate change.

Operation Deep Freeze: Early Ice Core Drilling

From 1955 to 1996, the Navy managed all U.S. scientific research in Antarctica. ClimateScience.tv uncovered this 1959 footage of the Navy’s “Operation Deep Freeze.” It’s a fascinating record of early ice core drilling techniques—with a couple of seismic blasts thrown in for good measure.

Click the “Film Log” tab above to read the Navy’s notes as you’re watching the film.

For more information on Operation Deep Freeze, check out:

1) LS J.J. ANDERSON, U. OF MINN. PULLING OUT WIRE ON TO THE GLACIER; WIRE IS LAYING ON GROUND IN FG.2) CU DR. E. THEIL READING A GRAVITY METER, HOLDS EYE ON THE EYE PIECE. G3) MS J.J. ANDERSON CIV. SCIENTIST WALKING TOWARD CAMERA WITH VIBRATION PICK UP DEVICES. R4D IN BG WITH DEAD ENGINES.G4) MLS MR. ANDERSONHOOKING UP THE PICK UP DEVICE TO MAIN WIRE OR CABLE; R4D SITS ON SNOW IN BG.5) MS MR. ANDERSON WALKING TOWARDS THE CAMERA. G6) CU HOOKING UP THE PICK UP DEVICE TO MAIN WIRE, BURYING THE DEVICE IN THE SNOW; TAPPING IT DOWN WITH HIS FOOT. VG7) ECU MR. ANDERSON HOOKING THE ALLIGATOR CLIPS ON THE PICK UP DEVICE TO THE MAIN CABLE; MAKES A HOLE IN THE SNOW WITH HIS HEEL ON HIS BOOT AND PLACES THE DEVICE INTO THE HOLE. G8) CU MAN WITH AN ICE CORE DRILL BORING AHOLE INTO THE ICE FOR A BLAST CHARGE; SECOND MAN COMES IN TO HELP. G9) CU CORE DRILL DRILLING INTO THE ICE, MAN’S FEET SEEN IN RIGHT. G TO F10) CU MAN TURNING HANDLE ON ICE CORE DRILL; WIRE AND INSTRUMENT SITTING ABOUT ON THE SNOW. G11) CU TWO MEN LOWERING ICE CORE DRILL INTO HOLE, ONE MAN LETS GO AND THE SECOND KNEELS AND CONTINUES TURNING HANDLE. THE MAN USING DRILL IS EDWIN ROBINSON OF U. OF MICH.12) CU MAN REMOVING DRILL FROM SHAFT, TAKES ICE FROM SHAFT, AND PLACES DRILL BACK ON, TWO MEN AGAIN LOWER DRILL. G13) CU MR ROBINSON KNEELING BY THE SHAFT. G14) MS SIDE VIEW OF R4D SITTING ON THE SNOW; MAN IS SITTING ON THE SNOW OFF PORT WING. A SIESMIC BLAST GOES OFF NEAR THE TAIL SECTION OF THE R4D AND BLOWS A LITTLE CLOUD OF SNOW UP INTO THE AIR. VG15) MS MAN KNEELING IN THE SNOW SETTING OFF A SIESMIC BLAST WHICH THROWS UP SNOW. G16) CU TWO MEN STANDING BY THE WIRE REEL IN A CRADLE; MEN ARE REELING IN A WIRE. G17) MS ONE MAN IN THE R4D HANDING AN INSTRUMENT TO THE MEN ON THE GROUND; MAN WALKS AWAY WITH THE INSTRUMENT; MAN IN PLANE STEPS DOWN WITH A LARGE OBLONG WOODEN BOX AND MOVES OUT TO LEFT. G18) CU ONE MAN USING THE ICE CORE DRILL. SV G