Seal Pups Culled by Ocean Warming

January 31, 2011

This was on page 2 of the Sunday Times (London) on 30 January 2011 with an explanatory graphic along with a photo of a cute seal pup. Their newspaper is behind a paywall so I cannot provide a URL.

Harp Seals have become the first mammals know to have suffered mass mortality as a consequence of climate change with at least 500,000 pups having drowned because of shrinking ice levels.

Warmer waters in the seal’s main birthing areas in the north Atlantic last year prevented ice flows from reaching their normal size and stopped the formation of pack ice, which suppresses waves and offers shelter from wind. It meant that in stormy conditions the pups were either pitched into the sea as the floes were tossed around or washed away by large waves.

I don’t know what to think about this, yet.

Optimum Spacing of Wind Turbines

January 25, 2011

I do not have access (yet) to the original work, but John Hopkins University reports at

Large wind farms are being built around the world as a cleaner way to generate electricity, but operators are still searching for the most cost-effective and efficient way to arrange the massive turbines that turn moving air into power.

Based on wind tunnel work, they found that 300-ft diameter turbines are now spaced at seven rotor diameters apart and that by moving them to 15 rotors diameters apart results in more cost-efficient power generation. What is not reported is if the total power output of squashed machine, at lower cost efficiency is more or less than more widely spaced but more cost-efficient.

No matter what the results of this question is, there are many other questions this study raises.


January 19, 2011

Small things sometimes impress me. I was fortunate in getting a Christmas gift of an Amazon Kindle. I find it useful. It has become instantly more useful by my discovery of an add-in tool for the Google Chrome Browser (which I use for most web use) called “Send to Kindle”.

Those articles on the the web that I want to save and/or read later, I can press F12 (or the icon) and the add-in creates a preview and when I press the “send” button the article, formatted well for reading on the Kindle, appears on my Kindle within a minute or so (assuming it’s connected to the internet).

Wow. It is the 21st century.

BBC Mis-reported yet again

January 6, 2011

This morning there was great fanfare on the BBC web site and on the BBC Radio 2 News reports about the so-called 48-page presidential commission “report” issued that blamed “bad management” for the BP oil spill.

I clicked on the link provided by the BBC which was the “report” and in fact it was a simple press release indicating that they were releasing 1 chapter of the report. The full report to be released on January 11. Despite this, the BBC had a long report on the “report” and numerous postings on the radio news about this. No where did they say that it was not a report and that it was only one chapter–with a news report.

I felt ornery. I clicked the “contact us” page and mentioned to them that they were probably over-egging the news on this. See below for what I first saw and what is now published on the BBC web page.

Before (click to see full size):

After (click to see full size):

International Disaster Database

January 6, 2011

From Judith Curry’s blog and a posting from a commenter, I’ve become aware of the “International Disaster Database”, published by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. Wow. Real Data. To be explored. The first thing I’ll be looking for is probability of “extreme events” plotted on my Gumbell Distribution sheets (saved from university days).

Record Bluefin Tuna Price and Grandpa

January 5, 2011

I was interested in the BBC’s report of a record sale price for a bluefin tuna. In 1951 my grandfather caught a world record (by weight) bluefin tuna. The record stood, according to family lore, for about 5 hours when someone brought in a bigger fish to the same port. That record stood for decades. The photo here is of my grandfather and his catch.

Ontario Wind Performance

January 4, 2011

I recently ran across David Robinson’s article (see where he took a detailed look at the performance of wind power production in the province. His purpose was to confirm or disprove “facts” about wind power. His analysis has shown many “facts” to be anything but. Given some time, I’m hoping to do a similar analysis of UK power but to spend a bit more time on the probability distributions of actual performance to enable some assessments of future forecasting. See first steps here and here.