Melting Snow and Ice

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 5th, 2014

Technology 101

When Temperatures fall below Freezing Liquid Water turns into Solid Water

You know what the best thing about water is?  You don’t have to shovel it.  Well, that, and its life-giving properties.  Let’s face it.  We couldn’t survive without the stuff.  We couldn’t grow food.  We even couldn’t live without drinking water.  So perhaps its life-giving properties is the best thing about water.  But a close second would be that thing about not having to shovel it.

When it rains water soaks into our green areas.  It runs off driveways and sidewalks into green areas.  And into streets.  Where it runs off into a storm drainage system.  Which takes it to a river or lake.  The rain lets our gardens grow.  And any excess water conveniently just goes away.  We may have a puddle or two to slosh through.  But even those go away without us having to do anything.  Water is nice that way.  As long as the temperature is above its freezing point.

When the temperature falls below the freezing point of water bad things start to happen.  Liquid water turns into solid water.  And hangs around for awhile.  Accumulating.  On our driveways, sidewalks, porches and roads.  It’s pretty much everywhere we don’t want it to be.  Making it difficult to walk.  And drive.  We slip and fall a lot in it.  The sun may melt it a little during the day.  Creating puddles of water where the snow once was. But when the sun sets those puddles freeze.  And become even more slippery.  Making solid water more dangerous than liquid water.  So a big part of making it through winters in northern climes, then, is transforming solid water back into the liquid form.

Even though Bourbon melts Ice Cubes Bourbon would be a Poor Choice to melt Snow and Ice

All material can be in three different stages.  It can be a solid.  A liquid.  Or a gas.  What determines the phase of this material depends on a couple of things.  Mostly temperature and pressure.  And the chemical properties of the material.  At ambient temperature and pressure material typically exists stably in one phase.  Water, for example, is stable in the liquid phase on an 80-degree summer day.  Allowing us to swim in it.  While on a freezing February day it is stable in the solid phase.  Which is why we hold the Winter Olympics in February.  The cold temperatures give us the best solid water conditions.

If we raise the temperature of water we can turn it from a liquid to a gas.  We could also do this by lowering the ambient air pressure.  Such as putting it into a vacuum.  For a liquid remains a liquid as long as the vapor pressure (the tendency for particles to escape from the liquid they’re in) of the liquid is less than the ambient air pressure.  If we lower the ambient air pressure below the vapor pressure of the liquid we can lower the boiling point of that liquid.  This is why different liquids have different boiling points.  They have different vapor pressures.  Oxygen has a very high vapor pressure and requires a high pressure and cold temperature to keep oxygen in a liquid phase.

When we take ice cubes out of the freezer and add them to a glass of bourbon they melt.  Because the ambient temperature outside of the freezer is above the freezing point of water.  So the solid water changes its phase from solid to liquid.  It would follow, then, that pouring bourbon on snow and ice would help melt it.  Of course we don’t do that.  For wasting bourbon like that would be criminal.  Not to mention costly.  Even if you used the cheap stuff.  Making bourbon a poor choice for melting snow and ice.

Salt dissolves into a Brine Solution that lowers the Melting Point of Snow and Ice

We see that a material will change its phase at different temperatures and pressures.  Which is good to know.  But it doesn’t help us to melt snow and ice during winter.  For we can’t lower the atmospheric air pressure to lower the boiling and melting points of water.  And we can’t raise the ambient temperature above the melting point of water.  If we could our winters would probably be a lot more comfortable than they are now.  So because when we can’t change the air pressure or temperature of the ambient environment the snow and ice is in we do something else.  We use chemistry to lower the melting point of snow and ice.  And the most common chemical we use is salt.

To melt snow and ice salt needs heat and moisture.  The moisture comes from the snow and ice.  Or from the humidity in the air.  The heat comes from the warmth of the earth or air.  Heated by the sun.  It also comes from the friction between tires and the road.  When salt comes into contract with water and heat it dissolves into a brine solution.  And this brine solution has a much lower melting point than water.  Which in turn lowers the melting point of the snow and ice it comes into contact with.  Allowing it to be in the liquid phase at temperatures below freezing temperatures.  Melting that snow and ice so it can run off like rain water.

The warmer it is when it snows the quicker salt will melt that snow.  While the colder it is the longer it takes to melt.  If it gets too cold (around 15 degrees Fahrenheit) salt proves to be ineffective.  In temperatures below 15 degrees Fahrenheit other chemicals work better.  Such as calcium chloride.  But calcium chloride is more costly than sodium chloride (salt).  Ambient temperatures, time of day, sunny or cloudy, wind, etc., all determine the chemical to use.  And the amount of chemical to use.  They consider all of these factors (and more) before sending those ‘salt’ trucks out on the roads.  Allowing us to drive in the worst of winters just as we drive in the best of summers.  It may take more time.  And there may be a little more cussing.  But we still go to work, take our kids to school, go shopping, etc., when it snows.  Thanks to chemicals.  Chemistry.  And the people that put those chemicals and that chemistry to work.

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According to the Climate ‘Scientists’ everything causes Global Warming

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 23rd, 2013

Week in Review

Droughts are a sign of global warming.  Excessive rains are a sign of global warming.  Little snow fall is a sign of global warming.  Powerful blizzards are a sign of global warming.  Let’s see, what else?  Meteorites threatening the planet are a sign of global warming.  Gun violence is a sign of global warming.  Obesity is a sign of global warming.  And pretty much anything else is a sign of global warming.  Because climate ‘scientists’ and journalists say so (see Climate contradiction: Less snow, more blizzards by Seth Borenstein, Associated Press, posted 2/18/2013 on The Detroit News).

Ten climate scientists say the idea of less snow and more blizzards makes sense: A warmer world is likely to decrease the overall amount of snow falling each year and shrink snow season. But when it is cold enough for a snowstorm to hit, the slightly warmer air is often carrying more moisture, producing potentially historic blizzards.

“Strong snowstorms thrive on the ragged edge of temperature — warm enough for the air to hold lots of moisture, meaning lots of precipitation, but just cold enough for it to fall as snow,” said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center. “Increasingly, it seems that we’re on that ragged edge.”

The ragged edge of temperature?  So what this climate ‘scientist’ is telling us is that if it’s too warm it won’t snow.  It will just rain.  They’ve been telling us for DECADES that rising temperatures will melt the Arctic icecap.  Raising the ocean levels.  Swamping our coastal areas.  Causing our farmlands to turn into deserts.  And moving our warmer climes further north.  Keeping the snow further north.   So if temperatures have been rising and pushing the collisions of these hot and cold air masses further north we should be getting less snow in the mid latitudes and more snow in the higher latitudes.  Burying them in snow.  Especially in Canada around the Great Lakes.  Because it’s the same amount of snow but in a smaller area.  Building huge snow masses to provide a long snowmelt to fill those Great Lakes all spring and summer.  Raising their levels to record highs.  It’s a sound theory.  Only one problem.  The Great Lakes are at record lows.

But wait a minute, you say.  What about rain?  The reason it didn’t snow as much in the higher latitudes is because all that moisture fell out of the sky as rain before it got to those higher latitudes.  An excellent point.  Only one problem.  North America suffered one of the worst droughts on record.  Devastating our corn crops.  And raising the price of food across the board.

But wait a minute, you say.  That doesn’t prove anything.  Because of rising temperatures it’s just not precipitating as much.  Less moisture in the air because of higher temperatures means less rain AND less snow.  Another excellent point.  Only one problem.  It has been raining.  A lot.  The UK suffered above average rainfalls this past year.  Sending her rivers over their banks.  And causing some of the worst flooding the UK has ever seen.

But wait a minute, you say.  And I say, enough.  Everything cannot be the result of global warming.  Warmer temperatures and cooler temperatures cannot both be the result of global warming.  Droughts and flooding cannot both be the result of global warming.  Less snowfall and greater blizzards cannot both be the result of global warming.  Every contradictory piece of empirical evidence cannot prove global warming.  Real science doesn’t work that way.  Water freezes at zero degrees Celsius.  And boils at 100 degrees Celsius.  These are distinct states of matter.  And they cannot exist at the same time.  For there are rules in science.  And you can’t keep changing them to prove a theory.

Scientists won’t blame a specific event or even a specific seasonal change on global warming without doing intricate and time-consuming studies. And they say they are just now getting a better picture of the complex intersection of man-made climate change and extreme snowfall.

Then why have we been listening to you for close to three decades now?  Why do we have laws that change the way we live going back decades when you’re only now understanding man-made climate change?  If you were wrong decades ago how do we know you’re right now?

Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann points to the recent Northeast storm that dumped more than 30 inches in some places. He said it was the result of a perfect set of conditions for such an event: Arctic air colliding with unusually warm oceans that produced extra large amounts of moisture and big temperature contrasts, which drive storms. Those all meant more energy, more moisture and thus more snow, he said.

Do you know who Michael Mann is?  He’s the guy that created the ‘hockey stick graph’ that supposedly proved global warming.  Temperatures were relatively constant for 900 years.  Then rose.  Giving the shape of a hockey stick.  He took data from tree rings, lake sediments and ice cores and calculated temperatures for the past 1,000 years.  Giving us the hockey stick graph.  But in 2010 some emails came to light showing other climate scientists, Phil Jones, Keith Briffa and others, were not all on board with the hockey stick graph.  Despite the powers that be in climate ‘science’ adopting Mann’s hockey stick (see Controversy behind climate science’s ‘hockey stick’ graph by Fred Pearce posted 2/2/2010 on the guardian).

…Briffa…sent a long and passionate email. “It should not be taken as read that Mike’s series is THE CORRECT ONE,” he warned. “I know there is pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards ‘apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more in the proxy data’, but in reality the situation is not quite so simple… For the record, I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1,000 years ago.”

What’s this?  If you take the data beyond the starting point of Michael Mann’s data, back before man was creating any global warming, there was a matching rise in temperature?  Or so said the hacked emails from the University of East Anglia’s climatic research unit.  So Michael Mann is a guy that likes to look at limited ranges of data.  Just enough to support his hypothesis.  And not too much so it doesn’t refute his hypothesis.  So one cannot help but to take whatever he says with a grain of salt.

So what does all of this mean?  Global warming is more politics than science.  Most of the accepted research was done by people funded by governments that want to take ever more control over the private sector economy.  To increase the size of government.  And to increase tax revenues.  If you don’t believe this consider the volcano.  When they erupt they tend to cool the climate.  Because they put smoke, soot, ash, carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere.  The same things coal-fired power plants put into the atmosphere.  Yet volcanoes cool the planet.  While coal-fired power plants warm the planet.  Go figure.  Two things doing the same thing.  Yet each producing completely opposite results.  To understand this you have to enter the world where there are square circles.  And intersecting parallel lines.  A place where there are no scientific laws.  Only wild imagination.  For it is a wacky world when it comes to the field of climate ‘science’.

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