Tous les articles par Alain Préat

Full-time professor at the Free University of Brussels, Belgium • Department of Earth Sciences and Environment Res. Grp. - Biogeochemistry & Modeling of the Earth System Sedimentology & Basin Analysis • Alumnus, Collège des Alumni, Académie Royale de Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux Arts de Belgique (mars 2013). • Prof. Invited, Université de Mons-Hainaut (2010-present-day) • Prof. Coordinator and invited to the Royal Academy of Sciences of Belgium (Belgian College) (2009- present day) • Prof. partim to the DEA (third cycle) led by the University of Lille (9 universities from 1999 to 2004) - Prof. partim at the University of Paris-Sud/Orsay, European-Socrates Agreement (1995-1998) • Prof. partim at the University of Louvain, Convention ULB-UCL (1993-2000) • Since 2015 : Member of Comité éditorial de la Revue Géologie de la France • Since 2014 : Regular author of texts for ‘la Revue Science et Pseudosciences’ • Many field works (several weeks to 2 months) (Meso- and Paleozoic carbonates, Paleo- to Neoproterozoic carbonates) in Europe, USA (Nevada), Papouasia (Holocene), North Africa (Algeria, Morrocco, Tunisia), West Africa (Gabon, DRC, Congo-Brazzaville, South Africa, Angola), Iraq... Recently : field works (3 to 5 weeks) Congo- Brazzaville 2012, 2015, 2016 (carbonate Neoproterozoic). Degree in geological sciences at the Free University of Brussels (ULB) in 1974, I went to Algeria for two years teaching mining geology at the University of Constantine. Back in Belgium I worked for two years as an expert for the EEC (European Commission), first on the prospecting of Pb and Zn in carbonate environments, then the uranium exploration in Belgium. Then Assistant at ULB, Department of Geology I got the degree of Doctor of Sciences (Geology) in 1985. My thesis, devoted to the study of the Devonian carbonate sedimentology of northern France and southern Belgium, comprised a significant portion of field work whose interpretation and synthesis conducted to the establishment of model of carbonate platforms and ramps with reefal constructions. I then worked for Petrofina SA and shared a little more than two years in Angola as Director of the Research Laboratory of this oil company. The lab included 22 people (micropaleontology, sedimentology, petrophysics). My main activity was to interpret facies reservoirs from drillings in the Cretaceous, sometimes in the Tertiary. I carried out many studies for oil companies operating in this country. I returned to the ULB in 1988 as First Assistant and was appointed Professor in 1990. I carried out various missions for mining companies in Belgium and oil companies abroad and continued research, particularly through projects of the Scientific Research National Funds (FNRS). My research still concerns sedimentology, geochemistry and diagenesis of carbonate rocks which leads me to travel many countries in Europe or outside Europe, North Africa, Papua New Guinea and the USA, to conduct field missions. Since the late 90's, I expanded my field of research in addressing the problem of mass extinctions of organisms from the Upper Devonian series across Euramerica (from North America to Poland) and I also specialized in microbiological and geochemical analyses of ancient carbonate series developing a sustained collaboration with biologists of my university. We are at the origin of a paleoecological model based on the presence of iron-bacterial microfossils, which led me to travel many countries in Europe and North Africa. This model accounts for the red pigmentation of many marble and ornamental stones used in the world. This research also has implications on the emergence of Life from the earliest stages of formation of Earth, as well as in the field of exobiology or extraterrestrial life ... More recently I invested in the study from the Precambrian series of Gabon and Congo. These works with colleagues from BRGM (Orléans) are as much about the academic side (consequences of the appearance of oxygen in the Paleoproterozoic and study of Neoproterozoic glaciations) that the potential applications in reservoir rocks and source rocks of oil (in collaboration with oil companies). Finally I recently established a close collaboration with the Royal Institute of Natural Sciences of Belgium to study the susceptibility magnetic signal from various European Paleozoic series. All these works allowed me to gain a thorough understanding of carbonate rocks (petrology, micropaleontology, geobiology, geochemistry, sequence stratigraphy, diagenesis) as well in Precambrian (2.2 Ga and 0.6 Ga), Paleozoic (from Silurian to Carboniferous) and Mesozoic (Jurassic and Cretaceous) rocks. Recently (2010) I have established a collaboration with Iraqi Kurdistan as part of a government program to boost scientific research in this country. My research led me to publish about 180 papers in international and national journals and presented more than 170 conference papers. I am a holder of eight courses at the ULB (5 mandatory and 3 optional), excursions and field stages, I taught at the third cycle in several French universities and led or co-managed a score of 20 Doctoral (PhD) and Post-doctoral theses and has been the promotor of more than 50 Masters theses.

UN Biodiversity Officials Fail Transparency Test

by Donna Laframboise, May 13, 2019 in BigPictureNews

The United Nations Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is a clone of the IPCC, the UN’s climate body. But there are some notable differences.

We’re told that a great deal of power resides with the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP), which currently consists of 28 individuals. These are the people who, for example, decide which international scholars will be assigned to discuss which topics within the pages of official IPBES reports.

To its credit, that entity’s website has been designed to provide the CV of everyone who sits on this panel. Rather than taking the UN’s word for it that these are world class experts, the public is given the opportunity to examine their credentials firsthand.

But saying you believe in transparency is different from acting like it. If organizations aren’t living up to the standards they’ve set for themselves, that’s worth noticing.

Last week was hugely important for the IPBES – it sought and received massive international media coverage. Despite this, it utterly failed its own transparency test. The CVs of most MEP members aren’t actually available online.

De l’avenir de la voiture à moteur thermique

by Jean-Pierre Schaeken, 10mai 2019 in ScienceClimateEnergie

Dans un contexte de remise en question des voitures à moteur thermique et de lobbying pour en interdire la vente, à brève échéance, on serait bien avisé avant de se précipiter dans un tel changement radical et brutal de paradigme, de s’interroger sur la pertinence de son urgence et, partant, sur une approche plus pragmatique tenant compte des réalités socio-économiques.

ll faut d’abord rappeler que la marché de la voiture est mondial et qu’il est de plus en plus conditionné par les politiques des pays émergents et en développement qui ont comme souci prioritaire d’assurer leur croissance économique et d’améliorer les conditions de vie et le confort de leur population. La voiture en fait partie !
Ces mêmes pays sont également fort préoccupés, à juste titre, par la pollution de leurs villes [1]. Or celle-ci provient nettement plus de la production de chaleur dans les secteurs industriels, des services et du logement, que de la circulation automobile.Ce n’est donc pas cette dernière qui, pour ces pays, est la cible prioritaire pour assainir l’air urbain, mais plutôt le mode et l’efficacité de génération de calories dans les secteurs précités.
D’ailleurs, le marché des voitures à moteur thermique, connaît une croissance soutenue dans le monde ces dernières années (en moyenne 3%/an). Sur les 98 millions de voitures neuves vendues en 2018, il n’y aurait qu’à peine plus d’un million de véhicules électriques (VE) [2] et très peu de véhicules à hydrogène. Alors que tous les fabricants investissent dans le développement des VE, la très grande majorité d’entre eux dont tous les européens et même Toyota qui y avait consacré des recherches approfondies, ont abandonné l’option hydrogène.

Climate data shows no recent warming in Antarctica, instead a slight cooling

by Anthony Watts, May 10, 2019 in WUWT

Below is a plot from a resource we have not used before on WUWT, “RIMFROST“. It depicts the average temperatures for all weather stations in Antarctica. Note that there is some recent cooling in contrast to a steady warming since about 1959.

Data and plot provided by 

Contrast that with claims by Michael Mann, Eric Steig, and others who used statistical tricks to make Antarctica warm up. Fortunately, it wasn’t just falsified by climate skeptics, but rebutted in peer review too.

Methane-consuming bacteria could be the future of fuel

by Northwestern University, May 9, 2019 in ScienceDaily

Discovery illuminates how bacteria turn methane gas into liquid methanol.
Researchers have found that the enzyme responsible for the methane-methanol conversion in methanotrophic bacteria catalyzes the reaction at a site that contains just one copper ion. This finding could lead to newly designed, human-made catalysts that can convert methane — a highly potent greenhouse gas — to readily usable methanol with the same effortless mechanism.
The study will publish on Friday, May 10 in the journal Science. Rosenzweig is the Weinberg Family Distinguished Professor of Life Sciences in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Hoffman is the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry at Weinberg.

By oxidizing methane and converting it to methanol, methanotrophic bacteria (or “methanotrophs”) can pack a one-two punch. Not only are they removing a harmful greenhouse gas from the environment, they are also generating a readily usable, sustainable fuel for automobiles, electricity and more.

Current industrial processes to catalyze a methane-to-methanol reaction require tremendous pressure and extreme temperatures, reaching higher than 1,300 degrees Celsius. Methanotrophs, however, perform the reaction at room temperature and “for free”.

The UN’s Extinction Warning Doesn’t Add Up (Except On The BBC)

by Toby Young, May 9, 2019 in ClimateChangeDispatch

Anyone watching the BBC’s News at Ten on Monday would have been surprised to learn that economic growth poses a dire threat to the future of life on this planet.

We’re used to hearing this from climate change campaigners, but I’ve always taken such claims with a pinch of salt, suspecting that the anti-capitalist left is distorting the evidence. Apparently not.

‘One million species at risk of imminent extinction according to a major UN report,’ intoned the BBC. ‘It says the Earth’s ecosystems are being destroyed by the relentless pursuit of economic growth.’

So does this mean the Extinction Rebellion protestors are right?

I decided to do some digging to see if one million species really do ‘face extinction in the next few decades’, as the BBC put it.

That claim is based on a report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), but it hasn’t been published yet.

New Study: The Tropical Atlantic Was 7.5°C Warmer Than Now While CO2 Was 220 ppm

by K. Richard, May 9, 2019 in NoTricksZone

Another new paper published in Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology casts further doubt on the paradigm that says CO2 has historically been a temperature driver.

Evidence from the tropical Atlantic indicates today’s regional temperatures (15.5°C) are 7.5°C colder than a peak temperatures (23°C) between 15,000 to 10,000 years ago, when CO2 hovered around 220 ppm.

Does NASA’s Latest Figures Confirm Global Warming?

by Anthony Watts, May 9, 2019 in ClimateChangeDispatch

That’s an indication of the personal bias of co-author Schmidt, who in the past has repeatedly maligned the UAH dataset and its authors because their findings didn’t agree with his own GISTEMP dataset.

In fact, Schmidt’s bias was so strong that when invited to appear on national television to discuss warming trends, in a fit of spite, he refused to appear at the same time as the co-author of the UAH dataset, Dr. Roy Spencer.

A breakdown of several climate datasets, appearing below in degrees centigrade per decade, indicates there are significant discrepancies in estimated climate trends:

  • AIRS: +0.24 (from the 2019 Susskind et al. study)
  • GISTEMP: +0.22
  • ECMWF: +0.20
  • RSS LT: +0.20
  • Cowtan & Way: +0.19
  • UAH LT: +0.18
  • HadCRUT4: +0.17

Which climate dataset is the right one? Interestingly, the HadCRUT4 dataset, which is managed by a team in the United Kingdom, uses most of the same data GISTEMP uses from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Global Historical Climate Network.

Low oxygen levels could temporarily blind marine invertebrates

by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, May 8, 2019 in ScienceDaily

These results, published recently in the Journal of Experimental Biology, are the first demonstration that vision in marine invertebrates is highly sensitive to the amount of available oxygen in the water.

Oxygen levels in the ocean are changing globally from natural and human-induced processes. Many marine invertebrates depend on vision to find food, shelter, and avoid predators, particularly in their early life stages when many are planktonic. This is especially true for crustaceans and cephalopods, which are common prey items for other animals and whose larvae are highly migratory in the water column.

Research on terrestrial animals has shown that low oxygen levels can affect vision. In fact, humans can lose visual function in low oxygen conditions. Pilots flying at high altitude, for instance, have been shown to experience vision impairment if aircraft fail to supplement cockpits with additional oxygen. Additionally, health problems such as high blood pressure and strokes, both associated with oxygen loss, can damage vision.

UN Targets the Sand People

by Donna Laframboise,  May 8, 2019 in BigPictureNews

Apparently, those who currently trade in sand and gravel sometimes do so in an unsustainable manner. “[R]ules, practices and ethics” apparently differ worldwide. Imagine that. Moreover, “irresponsible and illegal extraction” needs to be curbed. In other words: the UN has now set its sights on this industry.

In the foreword to the 56-page Sand and Sustainability: Finding new solutions for environmental governance of global sand resources, Joyce Msuya, UNEP’s executive director, declares that humanity is “spending our sand ‘budget’ faster than we can produce it responsibly.”

While this report says it merely wants to spark a conversation, that it doesn’t intend to be “prescriptive,” Msuya’s remarks belie that. She advocates “improved governance of global sand resources,” talks about implementing global standards, and looks forward to the creation of brand new “institutions that sustainably and equitably manage extraction.” What’s another level of red tape, after all?

Impossible research produces 400-year El Niño record, revealing startling changes

by Charles the moderator, May 7, 2019 in WUWT

University of New South Wales

Melbourne: Australian scientists have developed an innovative method using cores drilled from coral to produce a world first 400-year long seasonal record of El Niño events, a record that many in the field had described as impossible to extract.

The record published today in Nature Geoscience detects different types of El Niño and shows the nature of El Niño events has changed in recent decades.

This understanding of El Niño events is vital because they produce extreme weather across the globe with particularly profound effects on precipitation and temperature extremes in Australia, South East Asia and the Americas.

The 400-year record revealed a clear change in El Niño types, with an increase of Central Pacific El Niño activity in the late 20th Century and suggested future changes to the strength of Eastern Pacific El Niños.

“We are seeing more El Niños forming in the central Pacific Ocean in recent decades, which is unusual across the past 400 years,” said lead author Dr Mandy Freund.

“There are even some early hints that the much stronger Eastern Pacific El Niños, like those that occurred in 1997/98 and 2015/16 may be growing in intensity.”

This extraordinary result was teased out of information about past climate from coral cores spanning the Pacific Ocean, as part of Dr Freund’s PhD research at the University of Melbourne and the Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes. It was made possible because coral cores – like tree rings – have centuries-long growth patterns and contain isotopes that can tell us a lot about the climate of the past. However, until now, they had not been used to detect the different types of El Niño events.

Current Solar Cycle Among Weakest On Record. Potentially Cloud-Seeding Cosmic Radiation Near Highest Level Since

by Prof. F. Vahrenholt and F. Bosse, May 7, 2019 in NoTricksZone

If we speak of an average of the last 23 cycles in the months of the minimum, our only significant energy source at the center of the solar system was below average active last month as well.

The sunspot number (SSN) was 9.1, which was thus only 42% of the average of the cycles for month no. 125. Some cycles (No. 21, 18, 16, 15, 8 ) were already completed in month no. 125.

Fig. 1: The monthly sunspot activity of the current solar cycle (SC 24) since December 2008 (red) compared to the mean value of all previously systematically observed cycles since the beginning of SC 1 in March 1755 (blue) and the very similar SC 5 (black).

Figure 1 clearly shows that the latest cycle was quite below-normal, especially at the beginning and after the second peak which had an SSN of over 140 towards the end. Since February 2014 (the maximum of the entire cycle 24 with SSN = 146 in cycle month 63), it only reached 2/3 of the average activity.

What are the effects? The total radiation (TSI for total solar irradiance) is only moderately influenced:

Nature crisis: Humans ‘threaten 1m species with extinction’-BBC

by P. Homewood, May 7, 2019 in NotaLotofPeopleKnowThat

The BBC has just reported on the newly published Summary for Policy Makers of the as yet unpublished UN 1800 page global assessment of nature compiled by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The two day old ‘climate crisis’, so recently [not] declared by the British government has already been knocked off the top spot as far as existential crises are concerned and is now officially languishing in 3rd place, in the Second Division. Land use change is now Premier Division. However, unlike action on the ‘climate crisis’, which has become a $1.5 trillion industry, action on land use change has been negligible to non-existent. Even hunting (legal and non-legal) and the direct exploitation of wildlife is one division above climate change in terms of the threat to biodiversity. Bugger all has been done to address these threats too, relatively speaking, during the last three decades, whereas trillions has been thrown at ineffective, and socially, economically and environmentally damaging attempts to limit global warming to 2C (and latterly 1.5C). I warned about this 3 years ago.