Archive for the 'climate' Category


Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

We here at randform are superexcited to present our first reader randform mega contest – simply called LeContest !!


visibility deterioration of deterioration

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Unfortunately our temperature visualization from last post is currently not running anymore. Probable reason: It currently seems that WebGl Earth has moved two library files. In particular the WebGl earth API base script which we were thinking was self-contained unfortunately doesn’t seem to be self-contained. We are going to look at this trouble in the near future.

supplement 05.10.2014: The interactive visualization is currently working again. Klokan technologies had responded and promised to look into this problem.

detoration explordaration

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

As was announced in the last post Tim and me were working at a visualization of the data collection CRUTEM 4 by the climate research unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. In the post it was mentioned that the data in that collection was sort of “deteriorating”. That is on one hand the number of active temperature measurement stations which were listed in this file (some stations started measuring already in the 18th century) decreased rather rapidly in the last ten years and/or the file contained increasingly invalid/no temperature data in the last ten years.

In that context it is worthwhile to note that CRUTEM 4 supercedes CRUTEM 3 and the CRUTEM 3 (grid data) was according to the Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change (IPCC) used for the IPCC fourth assessment report (AR 4).

Wether the “deterioration of that CRUTEM 4 data” has any effect on the assessment of the current global warming trends is another question. The application is now online. Explore yourself! Caution the data takes very long to load. The CRUTEM 4 data file is about 45 MB.

The following two interactive applications also display global temperature data:

- HADCRUT 3 (which uses CRUTEM 3) data is visualized here by Cliff Best.

- NOAAs Global Historical Climatology Network-Monthly (GHCN-M) is visualized here by Nick Stoves.

- our comparision of temperature anomalies, CO2 and methane values uses HADCRUT 4 which uses CRUTEM 4 and HadSST3 (sea surface temperatures).

warning: 18.10.2014
Unfortunately the application is currently not running anymore. Probable reason: It currently seems that WebGl Earth has moved two library files. In particular the WebGl earth API base script which we were thinking was self-contained unfortunately doesn’t seem to be self-contained. We are going to look at this trouble in the near future.

supplement 05.10.2014: The interactive visualization is currently working again. Klokan technologies had responded and promised to look into this problem.

On the deterioration of data

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Tim and me are currently working on a interactive browser visualization using temperature data from HADCRUT, namely the CRUTEM 4 temperature station data which we map with the help of the open source web GL earth API (which seems to be to quite some extend the work of the Czech-Swiss company Klokan technologies) onto a model of the earth (covered with open street maps).
The visualization is still work in progress, but what is already visible is that the temperature data is quite deteriorating (please see also the previous randform post on the topic of deteriorization of data). Where it looks as if the deterioration had been bigger in the years from 2000-2009 than in the years 1980-2000. Below you can see screenshots of various regions of the world for the month of January for the years 1980, 2000 and 2009. The color of a rectangle indicates the (monthly) temperature value for the respective station (the station is represented by a rectangle around its coordinates) which is encoded with the usual hue encoding (blue is cold, red is hot). Black rectangles are invalid data. The CRUTEM 4 data file contains the data of 4634 stations. Mapping all the station data makes the visualization very slow, especially for scaling, therefore the slightly different scalings/views for each region and the fact that screenshots are on display. The interactive application will probably be not for all stations at once.

North America:

Jan 1980

Jan 2000

Jan 2009


Jan 1980

Jan 2000

Jan 2009


Jan 1980

Jan 2000

Jan 2009

Eurasia/Northern Africa:

Jan 1980

Jan 2000

Jan 2009


Jan 1980

Jan 2000

Jan 2009

Lobetal – In food chains

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014



Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

This concerns a discussion on Azimuth. I found that the temperature anomaly curve, which describes the global combined land [CRUTEM4] and marine [sea surface temperature (SST)] temperature anomalies (an anomaly is a deviation from a mean temperature) over time (HADCRUT4-GL) has a two-year periodicity (for more details click here). The dots in the above image shall display, why I think so. The dark line drawn over the jagged anomaly curve is the mean curve. The grey strips are one year in width. A dot highlights a peak (or at least an upward bump) in the mean curve. More precisely there are:

18 red dots which describe peaks within grey 2-year interval
5 yellow dots which describe peaks out of grey 2-year interval
(two yellow peaks are rather close together)
1 uncolored dot which describes no real peak, but just a bump
4 blue dots which describe small peaks within ditches

One sees that the red and yellow dots describe more or less all peaks in the curve (the blue dots care about the minor peaks, and there is just one bump, which is not a full peak). The fact that the majority of the red and yellow dots is red, means that there is a peak every 2 years, with a certain unpreciseness which is indicated by the width of the interval.

Upon writing this post I saw that I forgot one red dot. Can you spot where?

Especially after doing this visualization this periodicity appears to me meanwhile so visible that I think this should be a widely known phenomenom, however at Azimuth nobody has heard yet about it. If its not a bug then I could imagine that it could at least partially be due to differences in the solar irradiance for northern and southern hemissphere, but this is sofar just a wild guess and would need further investigations, which would cost me a lot of (unpaid) time and brain. So if you know how this phenomen is called then please drop a line. If its not a bug then this phenomen appears to me as an important fact which may amongst others enter the explanation for El Niño.

Altruism vs. selfish

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

There seems to be an interesting article adressing climate change challenges called: “Intra- and intergenerational discounting in the climate game.” Despite the fact that the article claims to contribute to a better dissemination of knowledge about climate change the article is behind a pay wall. And despite the fact that at least some of the authors seem to be payed (?) by a german public institution (that is they are listed under staff) the article seems also not available via their institutions list of publications. Are the authors or the institutions paid by the publisher? Anyways one diagram of the article is visible and it seems to tell quite a bit about the content of the article.

What’s Fukushima accident’s death toll?

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

“Meeresfürchte”, an artwork by Johann Merkewicz questioning food safety

I am currently have an argument with John Baez on Azimuth. My comment is currently awaiting moderation.

John wrote:

..the death toll due to nuclear power was a negligible fraction of the overall death toll due to the tsunami. The Japanese should be improving nuclear safety and building in better organizational checks and balances, rather than shunning nuclear power.

What do you call negligible?

According to Wikipedia there were 15883 confirmed earthquake/Tsunami related deaths and 2,676 people missing.

In an Bloomberg article by R.P. Gale and E. Lax one finds:

And what of the lasting threat from radiation? Remarkably, outside the immediate area of Fukushima, this is hardly a problem at all. Although the crippled nuclear reactors themselves still pose a danger, no one, including personnel who worked in the buildings, died from radiation exposure. Most experts agree that future health risks from the released radiation, notably radioactive iodine-131 and cesiums-134 and – 137, are extremely small and likely to be undetectable.

Even considering the upper boundary of estimated effects, there is unlikely to be any detectable increase in cancers in Japan, Asia or the world except close to the facility, according to a World Health Organization report.

On the website of the World Health Organization report one finds amongst others:

In terms of specific cancers, for people in the most contaminated location, the estimated increased risks over what would normally be expected are:

all solid cancers – around 4% in females exposed as infants;
breast cancer – around 6% in females exposed as infants;
leukaemia – around 7% in males exposed as infants;
thyroid cancer – up to 70% in females exposed as infants (the normally expected risk of thyroid cancer in females over lifetime is 0.75% and the additional lifetime risk assessed for females exposed as infants in the most affected location is 0.50%).

By this it looks indeed as if one wouldn’t see an increase of the overall cancer rate in all over Japan. However it is not said here what this means in absolute numbers. How many more cancer cases/deaths are there to be in total?

(This report is also cited by the german GRS report as “the” main source (see p.59) for the estimation of future health risks due to the Fukushima accident.)

In the above citation of R.P. Gale and E. Lax it is in addition mentioned that there were no deaths due to radiation exposure. (which I often cite, because they are rather pro-nuclear and often rather well-informed) seems to assert the same, they write:

There have been no deaths or cases of radiation sickness from the nuclear accident, but over 100,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes to ensure this. Government nervousness delays their return.

(please note that from this sentence it can be (and usually probably will be) ambiguously infered that “There have been no deaths from the nuclear accident…”, which is not true, please read further)

The assertion that there had been no deaths due to radiation (which is also cited as such on Wikipedia) is eventually based on a sofar unpublished study by UNSCEAR , which was mentioned in an article by Brumfield, who writes:

So far, neither operator seems to have suffered ill effects as a result of their exposure.

Furthermore it seems that the UN thinks there were 6 dead workers, who did not die from radiation.

I think this should be scutinized. In an email from Karl Feintuch at the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commision (USNRC) (p. 76) (here another internet capture) it is reported that:

Japan reports 5 persons have received lethal radiation doses

but as he points out: there should be “caution regarding maturity and reliability of that information”. Furthermore Tepco reported at least one death, which sounds to me by the description very much radiation related (but this is only a Google translate):

For one person seriously injured who had been trapped in the tower crane cockpit of the exhaust tube,
Is transported to the ground from the tower crane in 13 minutes 5:00 pm today, died in 17 minutes 5:00 pm
Has been confirmed.

Moreover if you read reports as the article “Worker wants new government to secure safety at Fukushima plant” in Asahi Shimbun, than you may ask yourself how exhaustive and good is the monitoring of the health of workers at the Fukushima plant?

A TEPCO employee in his 20s who grew up in Fukushima Prefecture has become an opponent of nuclear power after the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

“I was told to work at the plant like a kamikaze pilot,” said the man, who is evacuating from Fukushima Prefecture due to high levels of radiation he received. “I have no idea about how much radiation I was exposed to.”

What kind of treatment receive these workers who risk their health and lives for mitigating the effects of such a catastrophe?

But let’s have again a look on the overall mostly future expected casualities:

According to the study “Worldwide health effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident” by John E. Ten Hoeve and Mark Z. Jacobson (via

We find that inhalation exposure, external exposure, and ingestion exposure of the public to radioactivity
may result in 15 to 1300 cancer mortalities and 24 to 2500 cancer morbidities worldwide, mostly in Japan. Exposure of workers to
radioactivity at the plant is projected to result in another 2 to 12 cancers cases.

So their “best estimate” as Evan Douple called it in the bloomberg article is about 130 deaths.

The Results were evaluated against daily worldwide Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) airborne radionuclide concentrations and deposition rates from around Japan.
Atmospheric and ground concentrations of iodine-131 (I-131), cesium-137 (Cs-137) and cesium-134 (Cs-134) were then used to estimate the worldwide health effects from the radioactive fallout

On a first glance into the paper it looks to me as if for example sea and groundwater contamination via the ongoing release of contaminated water and eventual future contaminations had not been taken into account.

The study
Accounting for long-term doses in “worldwide health effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident” Jan Beyea, Edwin Lyman and Frank N. von Hippel (via finds:

On balance, the net result of adjusting the TH&J numbers to account for long-term dose from radiocesium is uncertain, but the mid-range estimate for the number of future mortalities is probably closer to 1000 than to 125.

According to a report in Yomiuri Shimbun there are at least 537 deaths which had been certified by municipalities as a direct consequence of the Fukushima disaster.

So if one accepts a cancer related death toll of 1000 people (i.e. a higher but possible projection in the Ten Hoeve and Jacobson fallout study or the expected average toll in the Beyea, Lyman and von Hippel article) and if adds these the stress related 573 deaths one has currently a prognostized Fukushima accident death toll of about 1600 people.

This is roughly about one tenth of the casualties of the earth quake/Tsunami catastrophe. Is that negligible?!

Moreover the Fukushima air circulation blew about roughly 81% of the fallout onto the open sea. That means if the winds would have been blown onto land then this would have given at least a factor 5 more fallout on possibly populated land (if one assumes approximately equal population density). But if one takes into account that the wind almost never blew into south direction (eventual erranous personal observation) , i.e. almost never into the direction of the densely populated Tokyo area then it sounds cautious to assume a factor of ten for what the cancer rates could have been under different weather conditions. That is in that case the death toll could have been about as big as the death toll of the earth quake/Tsunami catastrophe.

And I don’t want to imagine the death toll which would have been a reality if additionally a criticality event would have turned into a chain reaction.

Maxwell’s equations of human behaviour

Monday, May 27th, 2013

on the attractivity of locations: refurbished buildings in Marzahn-Hellersdorf, among them the now newly renovated Rhin Towers

I have found Maxwell’s equations of human behaviour!



Monday, February 4th, 2013

Musician Imogen Heap in her tech wear

In a recent comment on randform randform reader Bibi asked:

You had written at Azimuth that your idea to use MMOGs for simulating economic and political real world scenarios

seems to have recently been picked up for the Global Participatory Platform of the 2013 Flagship proposal FucturICT

It seems also that your scientific platform idea had been picked up for that ICTfutur grant proposal.

What about your intellectual property?

The FuturICT application for 1 billion Euros had though been turned down, will you now write an EU grant proposal?

Answers to this comment after the click.