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Climate Connections 3: Wimbledon

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Shanta Barley | 20:48 UK time, Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Hats off to the Guardian's Barnay Ronay for bravely making the jump between Wimbledon Centre Court's fancy new retractable roof and global warming.

Without people like him, Climate Connections (a series exploring the theory that every major news story ends up being connected in some way - no matter how tenuous - to climate change) simply wouldn't be possible.

wimbledoncentrecourt1998.jpg

In his article, 'Fluffy balls and flat hair: it's a different game under that roof!', Barnay rues the era of excessive towel-swabbing and transparent T-shirts that has been ushered in by Wimbledon's new roof:

'... a greenhouse effect does seem to be in operation, driven by overhead lights, filtered sunshine and communal body heat. The effects of this were more noticeable in Wawrinka, who by the end appeared to be weeping salt water from every pore.'

Have you seen an earlier climate connection, or do you have climate connections of your own? Add yours in as comments on this story.

Comments

  • 1. At 10:43am on 02 Jul 2009, Jack Hughes wrote:

    <RICHPOST>Check <a href="http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm">this list of things blamed on Global Warming / Climate Change</a>.<BR /><BR />Including <BR /><a href="http://www.livescience.com/environment/050629_fresh_water.html">Atlantic less salty</a>, <a href="[Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]"><BR />Atlantic more salty<BR /><BR />On the Copenhagen Blog they often add earthquakes to the list. </RICHPOST>

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  • 2. At 12:18pm on 02 Jul 2009, SheffTim wrote:

    Greenhouses work by preventing the air inside mixing (by convection) with cooler air on the outside.
    So strictly speaking he is correct, when Wimbledons centre court roof is shut the trapped air inside will warm up as the warm air doesnt escape and cooler air from outside isnt getting in. (Im surprised its shut when sunny, and also that theres no air conditioning, but thats by-the-by.)

    This is nothing at all to do with the greenhouse effect whereby GHGs trap outgoing infrared red radiation. In terms of 'climate connections' the only connection is the word 'greenhouse'. Tenuous to say the least.
    Slow day?

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  • 3. At 2:57pm on 02 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    " Greenhouses work by preventing the air inside mixing (by convection) with cooler air on the outside. "

    Uh, the glass warms up because of conduction from the convecting air inside the greenhouse.

    This warm glass conducts that warmth to the outside of the glass where the air outside gets warmer and convects the heat away.

    The only impediment to this is how much of an insulator is the glass.

    Meanwhile, the air outside is circulating and when it reaches the tropopause it can go no higher. Seem familiar?

    "This is nothing at all to do with the greenhouse effect whereby GHGs trap outgoing infrared red radiation."

    However, the result is the same as a greenhouse construction: warmth is trapped and energy in > energy out until it gets warm enough to balance.

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  • 4. At 3:37pm on 02 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    Jack, what's your problem?

    Do you say that melting freshwater will not affect ocean salinity?

    Seems unlikely.

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  • 5. At 5:52pm on 02 Jul 2009, SheffTim wrote:

    #3. I did a short version [#2]on the hoof.
    I'd say the difference is that the glass/plastic walls in a greenhouse acts as a barrier preventing warm air rising and thus mixing with (and dissipating into) cooler air outside.
    The Greenhouse effect in the atmosphere is more like an atmospheric blanket of gasses. Re-radiation of energy by the gasses in the air inside a greenhouse (by the same gases in the air that form the atmosphere's 'greenhouse effect') does occur, but is not a particularly important part of the process that keeps a greenhouse warm.

    I agree that the materials used in construction of the greenhouse plays an important part; some have double glazing to minimise heat loss. Other greenhouses have semi-opaque walls so the light spectrum is split, so wavelengths most beneficial to plant growth enter but other wavelengths are blocked. Greenhouses need to have [semi] transparent walls because it is light that is most crucial to plant growth.

    In a greenhouse incoming solar radiation from the sun warms plants, soil and anything else inside the building faster than the heat can escape the structure; the air inside warms and expands, it becomes less dense than the air higher up and allows cooler and denser air to take its place and absorb more heat in turn from the warmed surfaces. If enough solar radiation is supplied then all the air is warmed and can't escape easily, nor can cooler air get in to mix with and cool the warm air. This is also why it is important to have ventilation, so the greenhouse doesn't overheat. (Even on a very hot day there can still be a light breeze.)
    The same process occurs inside a car, except the opaque metal surfaces also retain heat and heat up more than the surrounding air, also contributing to warming the air inside the car.

    You are correct in saying heat is lost through the exterior surface (glass/plastic/metal etc.) This is why at night the roof of a greenhouse is likely to be cooler than the air at ground level; it's also why condensation forms on the inside of surfaces. Over time all the warmth will be lost and temperatures will equalise.

    More sophisticated greenhouses have interior heating in cold seasons as well as some type of thermal insulation as a foundation. Some also have interior surfaces, e.g cinder blocks, which retain heat, slowly releasing it at night in order to maintain the interior warmth.

    It used to be thought that what warmed greenhouses was that the glass is transparent to the visible light from the sun, but opaque to outgoing infrared radiation. The result being that the glass lets the energy of the sun in, but didn't let it back out. However greenhouses with plastic walls that are virtually transparent to infrared also make perfectly good greenhouses.

    Perhaps it might cause less confusion to compare an enclosed Wimbledon centre court on a hot day to a car with its windows closed. Just a thought as to use of metaphors.

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  • 6. At 10:04pm on 02 Jul 2009, Jack Hughes wrote:

    "It used to be thought that..."

    This phrase applies to many ideas and hypotheses.

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  • 7. At 11:48pm on 02 Jul 2009, SheffTim wrote:

    #6. "This phrase applies to many ideas and hypotheses."

    Including: 'There is no climate change'; 'We are on the verge of an imminent ice age'; 'global warming is a hoax' etc, etc.

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  • 8. At 03:11am on 03 Jul 2009, Jack Hughes wrote:

    'Hoax' is too strong a word for most of people who are caught up in the phenomenon.

    It's the correct word for those like Al Gore who are building their own personal fortunes on a new 'industry'.

    His film was found by a judge to contain 9 specific points that were false. One example is Gore describing Pacific islanders being evacuated to New Zealand. This did not happen. Gore knew it did not happen. So why did he lie ? Why did he pretend an event had happened ?

    No - Group-Think is a better word than hoax. A key part of this is when insiders just blank off any news or outside input that challenges their thinking.

    Now you could correctly say there is a symmetry here and that I am blanking off all the scary bad news. The big difference is that I am not trying to force my views on you. And specifically I am not asking you to make any changes at all to your lifestyle. It's your life and it's your business. My life is my business. That's where there is no symmetry between the 2 sides. One side is trying to control the world - the other side is not.

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  • 9. At 09:25am on 03 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "And specifically I am not asking you to make any changes at all to your lifestyle. It's your life and it's your business. My life is my business."

    But if I spend my life following your child and taking photo's that's bad.

    If I play loud music outside your house, that's my life. But I'd get forced to change it.

    And so on.

    If what you do affects me, then you don't get a free pass.

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  • 10. At 09:27am on 03 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    re #7: except that there's a distinct lack of thought on the denialist side. Mind you, since they don't need a theory themselves and only need to break one down (which they haven't managed yet), thinking isn't really necessary.

    Mulish stubbornness and an incapacity to remember that an argument was tried before and shot down is all that's necessary.

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  • 11. At 4:01pm on 06 Jul 2009, Madman2001 wrote:

    "a series exploring the theory that every major news story ends up being connected in some way - no matter how tenuous - to climate change"
    Yes, we find that too much rainfall and too little rainfall have both been blamed on global warming as witness the recent US government report.

    Craig

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  • 12. At 4:25pm on 06 Jul 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "Yes, we find that too much rainfall and too little rainfall have both been blamed on global warming as witness the recent US government report."

    Well, if you're near the coast, more water in the air makes more rain. More water needs more evaporation and warmer air. And so you get more rain.

    If you're in the middle of a continent, all the water is gone and the extra evaporation and greater holding capacity of warmer air means you get less rain.

    Then again, if you don't think about it carefully, this could be confusing.

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