The value of long-term data is slowly being understood.

NASA Arctic Ice melt cc by 2 0 7873358708 c3bc9f28d3 oOne of the difficulties encountered by many projects involved in responses to climate change, is the lack of reliable long-term data that can form a baseline for improvement. We can usually only capture static information for a relatively recent 'time slice', which makes prediction of trends almost impossible. We can see that, for example, something is getting more or less, higher or lower, longer or shorter, richer or poorer, larger or smaller, but we can't say what that represents in a long-term trend. Where we do, the mathematics and especially, statistics, of regression analysis and the analysis of variance, are (sadly) often beyond the ken of many scientists let alone the average person in the street, and the mass media that is supposedly informing them.

So, a study that has appeared in the last few days in the journal, Renewable Energy, is a real eye-opener. The authors have carried out a retrospective (and then prospective) analysis of energy consumption of 10 small properties (each the home of a single family) in a community in central Argentina. They analysed 50-years' worth of data for gas and electricity consumption. To validate the model they used it to predict the consumption of a further property. With this achieved, they then used it to predict the likely consumption of properties until 2039 under different climate change scenarios.


Two different analyses of the energy behavior of dwellings in Santa Rosa city (36°27′ S, 64° 27′ W, 182 m above sea level), in central Argentina, are presented. Firstly, a retrospective analysis of the operating energy -electricity and gas- of 10 compact housing in a period of 50 years is presented. Periods with missing data were fulfilled through predictive statistical models. Then, a “case study” was used to study different retrofitting strategies and to make a prospective analysis for future weather conditions calculated through the CMIP5-Coupled Model Intercomparison Project-Phase 5. The results indicate that the addition of thermal insulation in walls and roofs is highly beneficial, but the increase of glazed areas seems to be counterproductive. The energy demands for 2010 and 2039, for both the conventional and the retrofitted dwelling, show a decrease in winter and an increase in summer. We conclude that it is necessary to revise the dimensions suggested for the glazed areas, in order to deal with present and future indoor overheating. This paper presents the integration of past, present and future, towards a better comprehension of the challenges to be faced in the next decades.

Filippín, C; Florencia. R; Silvana FL; Santamouris, M (2017) Retrospective analysis of the energy consumption of single-family dwellings in central Argentina. Retrofitting and adaptation to the climate change. Renewable Energy 101, Feb, pp 1226–1241. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2016.09.064)

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Image credit: Scientific Visualization Studio, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (CC-by-2.0)

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