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Dr. Ricky Rood’s Climate Change Blog : Enjoying the Cold | Weather Underground

Dr. Ricky Rood’s Climate Change Blog

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Enjoying the Cold

By: Dr. Ricky Rood, 6:22 AM GMT on March 04, 2014 +27

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Enjoying the Cold

In the last couple of weeks several people have sent me this comic, Cold, from xkcd. The cartoon draws from the work at Climate Central, an organization that is doing excellent work with data and communication about climate, weather and climate change. The point of the cartoon is that if you look back at the weather of not so long along ago, we saw cold temperatures like we have seen in the U.S. this winter. The planet was warmed up enough that we are not used to it being cold.

Every month the National Climatic Data Center releases an update on its Climate Monitoring page. In the February update, the graph of the differences (anomalies) from the 1981-2010 average shows that the eastern half of the continental U.S. was 4 – 5 degrees Celsius colder than average. Northern Siberia was also very cold. Look at Alaska (part of the U.S.), Greenland and China – downright toasty.

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Figure 1: January 2014 temperature differences from a 1981-2010 average. From the National Climatic Data Center.

When the cold of the eastern U.S. is put into a global perspective, January 2014 was the 4th warmest global average since 1880. The U.S. was 53rd coolest, near the middle. If you go back to my blog on the behavior of the Arctic Oscillation, I show maps of 2010 and 2011 which were so cold that they motivated congressional hearings about climate change. In that blog, I also show figures from 1979, which was the coldest winter in the continental U.S.

As I started to put this into context, the first thing that I noticed was that those hearings-motivating winters of 2010 and 2011 were about 8 degrees Celsius warmer than 1979. This winter, 2013 – 2014, is objectively cold, but it is not colder than 1979. If you examine the figure above, the anomaly was calculated from the average 1981-2010, which includes the warmest decade we have measured since 1880. Therefore, the anomaly looks larger than it would if calculated against an earlier 30 year period or a 20th century average.

The last month when the global mean monthly average was below the 20th century average was February 1985. If I count correctly, then it has been 29 years, or 348 months, since we, globally, have experienced a month colder than the 20th century average. If we look at years, rather than individual months, then this span of time extends back to 1976. I remember the fall and winter of 1976 – 1977 very well. I had moved to Tallahassee. It snowed. People raked it under the trees to take pictures. People left their sprinklers on to see ice. They destroyed their trees.

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Figure 2: Annual average temperature differences from a 20th average. Calculated using tools from National Climatic Data Center.

The extraordinary string of months and years above the 20th century average will continue. In a year, we will have gone 30 years, the official averaging time of climate, since we will have experienced a “cool” month. This locally cold winter in the eastern U.S. is more like the late 1970s than the nineties in the comic above. A big difference is that this locally cold winter still does not affect the average enough to keep January 2014, globally, from being one of the warmest on record. The cartoon is right, not only are we not used to it being cold, many of residents of the U.S. have never actually experienced such cold. Same is true for the stink bugs of Virginia.

r

Just Temperature
Categories: Climate Change News Climate Change

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/RickyRood/comment.html?entrynum=289


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Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog : Save the Keeling Curve! | Weather Underground

Save the Keeling Curve!

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 2:13 PM GMT on March 11, 2014 +48

Climate change’s most iconic research project is in danger–a victim of budget cuts in an era of increased government belt-tightening. The Keeling Curve is a measurement of the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere made atop Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, begun in 1958 by Dr. Charles Keeling. It is the longest-running such measurement in the world. The curve was instrumental in showing how human emissions of carbon dioxide were steadily accumulating in Earth’s atmosphere, and raised awareness that human-caused climate change was an ever-increasing threat to the stability of our climate. After Keeling’s death in 2005, the measurements were continued by his son, Ralph F. Keeling. Support from NSF, NOAA and NASA is being diminished or withdrawn, and Keeling has turned to crowd-funding to help raise funds to continue these important measurements. I hope you can join me in making a donation.

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Figure 1. The Keeling Curve: climate change’s most iconic image. The curve’s steady year-by-year increase in CO2 due to burning of coal, oil, and natural gas has wriggles on top of it, due to the natural seasonal cycle in CO2–plants suck in CO2 during the Northern Hemisphere growing season, then release it during the winter. Image credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USCD.

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Figure 2. Dr. Charles Keeling posing at the entrance to the Charles Keeling Building at Mauna Loa, Hawaii. Image credit:NOAA/ESRL.

CO2 Levels Hit 401 ppm
The latest data from the Keeling curve website shows that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are surging upwards in their usual late winter push, as plants return CO2 to the atmosphere before the Northern Hemisphere spring growing season hits. CO2 levels reached 401 ppm (parts per million) last week on top of Mauna Loa, setting a new record. CO2 levels were at 280 ppm in 1870, increased less than 1 ppm per year in the 1960s, then accelerated to 2 ppm per year during the 2000s. Less than 1% of the increase since 1870 has been due to natural sources, such as volcanoes. The last time carbon dioxide levels reached 400 ppm—between 2.5 and 5 million years ago during the Pliocene Era—the Earth was 3.5 to 9° F warmer (2 to 5° C), and sea levels were 65 to 80 feet higher.

Links
There is a hashtag #savetheKeelingCurve
Eli Rabett’s post, Shaking the Cup for Science
What Does 400 ppm Look Like? December 2013 blog post by Robert Monroe of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

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Senate holds all-nighter on climate change
A group of 31 U.S. Senators pulled an all-nighter last night on the floor of the U.S. Senate, taking turns from 9 pm Monday night until 9 am Tuesday morning to promote policy actions on climate change. Many of the Senators involved issued tweets using the hashtag #Up4Climate. The all-nighter was another indication that politicians are becoming increasingly bold about speaking up on climate change.

Latest Version of our WunderMap App Now Includes WunderPhotos
Weather Underground has released today a new version of our WunderMap app for iPhone and iPad. The main new feature that we’d like to highlight is the WunderPhotos layer–now users can view, share, and submit photos all from within the app. Here are a few of the features of the new version of the WunderMap app:

◦ Improved Weather Station display, and both station size and station spacing are now adjustable (Weather Stations Layer ⇒ Settings).
◦ New WunderPhotos layer! View, share, and submit beautiful weather photos.
◦ Fixed incorrect elevation for some Personal Weather Stations.
◦ Swipe-to-delete search history items.
◦ “Terrain/Satellite” and other map options made more prominent.
◦ Bug fixes (crashes, visual glitches, and usability enhancements).
◦ Optimized performance across all devices.

The latest version is available to download for iPhone and iPad at https://itunes.apple.com/app/wundermap/id364884105?mt=8.

Jeff Masters

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2644


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VIDEO: Global Warming Cloud Mystery Solved

I apologize for my lack of technical skill- I have been unable to figure out how to embed this video. But if you click the link below you can watch it on The Weather Channel site. It is about a new study that found a pretty serious error in the majority of climate models- and what that error means as far as what is happening versus what was predicted.

http://www.weather.com/video/global-warming-cloud-mystery-solved-42882?collid=/news/environment


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Study: Temperatures go off the charts around 2047

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This undated handout photo provided by Marinelifephotography.com shows Soft corals, crinoids and associated reef fishes in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. A new study on the timing of climate change calculates the probable dates for when cities and ecosystems across the world would regularly experience never-before-seen hotter environments based on about 150 years of record-keeping. These are the dates when every year is hotter than old hottest annual record. This means the old blistering heat of people’s memories will eventually seem unusually cool in comparison to the warming years to come. Coral reef species are the first to be stuck in a new climate that they haven’t experienced before and are most vulnerable to climate change, Mora said. Coral reefs will be in that new regime around 2030. (AP Photo/Keoki Stender, Marinelifephotography.com)WASHINGTON (AP) — Starting in about a decade, Kingston, Jamaica, will probably be off-the-charts hot — permanently. Other places will soon follow. Singapore in 2028. Mexico City in 2031. Cairo in 2036. Phoenix and Honolulu in 2043.

And eventually the whole world in 2047.

A new study on global warming pinpoints the probable dates for when cities and ecosystems around the world will regularly experience hotter environments the likes of which they have never seen before.

And for dozens of cities, mostly in the tropics, those dates are a generation or less away.

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“This paper is both innovative and sobering,” said Oregon State University professor Jane Lubchenco, former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who was not involved in the study.

To arrive at their projections, the researchers used weather observations, computer models and other data to calculate the point at which every year from then on will be warmer than the hottest year ever recorded over the last 150 years.

For example, the world as a whole had its hottest year on record in 2005. The new study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, says that by the year 2047, every year that follows will probably be hotter than that record-setting scorcher.

Eventually, the coldest year in a particular city or region will be hotter than the hottest year in its past.

Study author Camilo Mora and his colleagues said they hope this new way of looking at climate change will spur governments to do something before it is too late.

“Now is the time to act,” said another study co-author, Ryan Longman.

Mora, a biological geographer at the University of Hawaii, and colleagues ran simulations from 39 different computer models and looked at hundreds of thousands of species, maps and data points to ask when places will have “an environment like we had never seen before.”

The 2047 date for the whole world is based on continually increasing emissions of greenhouse gases from the burning of coal, oil and natural gases. If the world manages to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases, that would be pushed to as late as 2069, according to Mora.

But for now, Mora said, the world is rushing toward the 2047 date.

“One can think of this year as a kind of threshold into a hot new world from which one never goes back,” said Carnegie Institution climate scientist Chris Field, who was not part of the study. “This is really dramatic.”

Mora forecasts that the unprecedented heat starts in 2020 with Manokwa, Indonesia. Then Kingston, Jamaica. Within the next two decades, 59 cities will be living in what is essentially a new climate, including Singapore, Havana, Kuala Lumpur and Mexico City.

By 2043, 147 cities — more than half of those studied — will have shifted to a hotter temperature regime that is beyond historical records.

The first U.S. cities to feel that would be Honolulu and Phoenix, followed by San Diego and Orlando, Fla., in 2046. New York and Washington will get new climates around 2047, with Los Angeles, Detroit, Houston, Chicago, Seattle, Austin and Dallas a bit later.

Mora calculated that the last of the 265 cities to move into their new climate will be Anchorage, Alaska — in 2071. There’s a five-year margin of error on the estimates.

Unlike previous research, the study highlights the tropics more than the polar regions. In the tropics, temperatures don’t vary much, so a small increase can have large effects on ecosystems, he said. A 3-degree change is not much to polar regions but is dramatic in the tropics, which hold most of the Earth’s biodiversity, he said.

The Mora team found that by one measurement — ocean acidity — Earth has already crossed the threshold into an entirely new regime. That happened in about 2008, with every year since then more acidic than the old record, according to study co-author Abby Frazier.

Of the species studied, coral reefs will be the first stuck in a new climate — around 2030 — and are most vulnerable to climate change, Mora said.

Judith Curry, a Georgia Institute of Technology climate scientist who often clashes with mainstream scientists, said she found Mora’s approach to make more sense than the massive report that came out of the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last month.

Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann said the research “may actually be presenting an overly rosy scenario when it comes to how close we are to passing the threshold for dangerous climate impacts.”

“By some measures, we are already there,” he said.

___

Online:

Nature: http://www.nature.com/nature

Mora lab: http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/mora/

___

Seth Borenstein be followed at http://twitter.com/borenbears

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/study-temperatures-go-charts-around-2047

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Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog : Over 500 Killed in India’s Monsoon Floods | Weather Underground

Over 500 Killed in India’s Monsoon Floods

By Dr. Jeff Masters

Published: 4:25 PM GMT on June 21, 2013
Earth’s deadliest natural disaster so far in 2013 is the deadly flooding in India’s Himalayan Uttarakhand region, where torrential monsoon rains have killed at least 556 people, with hundreds more feared dead. At least 5,000 people are missing. According to the Indian Meteorological Department, Uttarakhand received more than three times (329%) of its normal June rainfall from June 1 – 21, and rainfall was 847% of normal during the week June 13 – 19. Satellite estimates indicate that more than 20″ (508 mm) or rain fell in a 7-day period from June 11 – 17 over some regions of Uttarakhand, which lies just to the west of Nepal in the Himalayas. Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand, received 14.57″ (370 mm) of rain in 24 hours June 16 – 17. This was the highest 24-hour rainfall in city history, according to an official from the India Meteorological Department. Dr. Dave Petley’s Landslide Blog details that the torrential rains triggered a massive landslide that hit Uttarakhand’s Hindu shrine in Kedarnath, which lies just a short distance from the snout of two mountain glaciers. The shrine is an important pilgrimage destination this time of year, and was packed with visitors celebrating the char-dham yatra: a pilgrimage to the four holy sites of Gangotri, Kedarnath, Yamnotri and Badrinath. Apparently, heavy rainfall triggered a collapse event on the mountain above Kedarnath, which turned into a debris flow downstream that struck the town. The main temple was heavily damaged, and numerous buildings in the town were demolished. It was Earth’s deadliest landslide since the August 2010 Zhouqu landslide in China.

According to Aon Benfield’s May Catastrophe Report, Earth’s deadliest natural disasters of 2013 so far:

Winter weather, India, Banglaadesh, Nepal, 1/1 – 1/20, 329 deaths
Earthquake, China, 4/20, 196 deaths
Flooding, Southern Africa, 1/10 – 2/28, 175 deaths
Flooding, Argentina, 4/2 – 4/4, 70 deaths
Flooding, Kenya, 3/10 – 4/30, 66 deaths

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Figure 1. Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) arrive to rescue stranded Sikh devotees from Hemkunt Sahib Gurudwara, a religious Sikh temple, to a safe place in Chamoli district, in northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, India, Monday, June 17, 2013. AP photo.

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Figure 2. Satellite-estimated rainfall for the 7-day period June 11 – 17, 2013, from NASA’s TRMM satellite exceeded 20 inches (508 mm) over portions of India’s Uttarakhand province, leading to catastrophic floods. Image credit: NASA.

A record early arrival of the monsoon
The June 2013 monsoon rains in Uttarakhand were highly unusual, as the monsoon came to the region two weeks earlier than normal. The monsoon started in South India near the normal June 1 arrival date, but then advanced across India in unusually rapid fashion, arriving in Pakistan along the western border of India on June 16, a full month earlier than normal. This was the fastest progression of the monsoon on record. The previous record for fastest monsoon progression occurred in 1961, when all of India was under monsoon conditions by June 21. Reliable monsoon records go back to 1961, and are patchy before then. Fortunately, no more heavy rain is expected in Uttarakhand over the next few days, as the monsoon will be active only in eastern India. Heavy rains are expected again in the region beginning on June 24. Wunderblogger Lee Grenci’s post, Summer Monsoon Advances Rapidly across India: Massive Flooding Ensues, has more detail on the meteorology of this year’s monsoon. There is criticism from some that the devastating floods were not entirely a natural disaster–human-caused deforestation, dam building, and mining may have contributed. “Large-scale construction of dams and absence of environmental regulations has led to the floods,” said Sunita Narian, director general of Delhi based advocacy group Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

(please follow link at bottom to Jeff Master’s blog to see this image-unable to copy image)
Figure 3. The summer monsoon arrived in southwest India right on schedule (June 1) in South India, but it spread northward much faster than usual, reaching Pakistan a full month earlier than normal. Solid green contours indicate the progress of the 2013 summer monsoon (each contour is labeled with a date). You can compare this year’s rapid advance to a “normal” progression, which is represented by the dashed, red contours (also labeled with dates).

Monsoons in India: a primer
Disastrous monsoon floods are common in India and surrounding nations, and 60,000 people–an average of 500 people per year–died in India due to monsoon floods between 1900 – 2012, according to EM-DAT, the International Disaster Database. EM-DAT lists sixteen flood disasters which killed 1,000 or more people in India since records began in 1950. Here are the number of people killed in these events, along with the month and year of occurrence and locales affected:

4892, Jul 1968, Rajasthan, Gujara
3800, Jul 1978, North, Northeast
2001, May – Oct, 1994, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh
2000, Jul 1961, North
1811, Aug 1998, Assam, Arunachal, Bihar
1600, Aug 1980, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar
1591, Jul 28, 1989, Maharashtra, Andhra Prade
1479, Sep 1995, Bihar, Haryana, Punjab
1442, Aug 1997, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal
1200, Jul 24 – Aug 5, 2005 Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh
1200, Aug 1987, Assam, Bihar, West Bengal
1103, Jul 3 – Sep 22, 2007, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh
1063, Jun 11 – Jul 21, 2008 West Bengal, Orissa
1023, Jun 1971, North
1000, Sep 22 – OCt 9, 1988, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh
1000, Oct 1961

The monsoon occurs in summer, when the sun warms up land areas more strongly than ocean areas. This happens because wind and ocean turbulence mix the ocean’s absorbed heat into a “mixed layer” approximately 50 meters deep, whereas on land, the sun’s heat penetrates at a slow rate to a limited depth. Furthermore, due to its molecular properties, water has the ability to absorb more heat than the solid materials that make up land. As a result of this summertime differential heating of land and ocean, a low pressure region featuring rising air develops over land areas. Moisture-laden ocean winds blow towards the low pressure region and are drawn upwards once over land. The rising air expands and cools, condensing its moisture into some of the heaviest rains on Earth–the monsoon. Monsoons operate via the same principle as the familiar summer afternoon sea breeze, but on a grand scale. Each summer, monsoons affect every continent on Earth except Antarctica, and are responsible for life-giving rains that sustain the lives of billions of people. In India, home for over 1.1 billion people, the monsoon provides 80% of the annual rainfall. The most deadly flooding events usually come from monsoon depressions (also known as monsoon lows.) A monsoon depression is similar to (but larger than) a tropical depression. Both are spinning storms hundreds of kilometers in diameter with sustained winds of 50 – 55 kph (30 – 35 mph), nearly calm winds at their center, and generate very heavy rains. Typically, 6 – 7 monsoon depressions form each summer over the Bay of Bengal and track westwards across India.

The future of monsoons in India
A warming climate loads the dice in favor of heavier extreme precipitation events. This occurs because more water vapor can evaporate into a warmer atmosphere, increasing the chances of record heavy downpours. In a study published in Science in 2006, Goswami et al. found that the level of heavy rainfall activity in the monsoon over India had more than doubled in the 50 years since the 1950s, leading to an increased disaster potential from heavy flooding. Moderate and weak rain events decreased during those 50 years, leaving the total amount of rain deposited by the monsoon roughly constant. The authors commented, “These findings are in tune with model projections and some observations that indicate an increase in heavy rain events and a decrease in weak events under global warming scenarios.” We should expect to see an increased number of disastrous monsoon floods in coming decades if the climate continues to warm as expected. Since the population continues to increase at a rapid rate in the region, death tolls from monsoon flooding disasters are likely to climb dramatically in coming decades. However, my greater concern for India is drought. The monsoon rains often fail during El Niño years, and more than 4.2 million people died in India due to droughts between 1900 – 2012. Up until the late 1960s, it was common for the failure of the monsoon rains to kill millions of people in India. The drought of 1965 – 1967 killed at least 1.5 million people. However, since the Green Revolution of the late 1960s–a government initiative to improve food self-sufficiency using new technology and high-yield grains–failure of the monsoon rains has not led to mass starvation in India. It is uncertain whether of not the Green Revolution can keep up with India’s booming population, and the potential that climate change might bring more severe droughts. Climate models show a wide range of possibilities for the future of the Indian monsoon, and it is unclear at present what the future might hold. However, the fact that one of the worst droughts in India’s history occurred in 2009 shows that serious droughts have to be a major concern for the future. The five worst Indian monsoons along with the rainfall deficits for the nation:

1) 1877, -33%
2) 1899, -29%
3) 1918, -25%
4) 1972, -24%
5) 2009, -22%

References
Goswami, et al., 2006, ” Increasing Trend of Extreme Rain Events Over India in a Warming Environment”, Science, 1 December 2006:Vol. 314. no. 5804, pp. 1442 – 1445 DOI: 10.1126/science.1132027

Wunderground’s climate change blogger Dr. Ricky Rood wrote a nice 3-part series about the challenges India faces due to climate change after he completed a 2009 trip there.

(read the rest of this article, with all images and links intact here-

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/article.html )


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Why The Arctic Sea Ice Death Spiral Matters | ThinkProgress

This article is from August 2012, but it is an easy to understand summary of why the loss of ice matters and what the methane issue I posted about yesterday means for a non-scientist.

We need to switch to cleaner sources of energy asap-the Keshe stuff, E-cat, solar, wind, ocean currrent power-there is no shortage of replacements for burning carbon if we can jsut break the now-literal death grip of the fossil fuel companies on our planet.

“Disclosure” for me is more about access to the suppressed technology than aliens, financial skullduggery or the apparently vast child molestation problem in places of power-simply because it is literally the difference between extinction and abundance-not a hard choice for most of us!

Why The Arctic Sea Ice Death Spiral Matters

Arctic sea ice extent takes a nosedive this year. What does it mean for us? (Source: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency)

By Neven Acropolis with Kevin McKinney

In the past week the Arctic sea ice cover reached an all-time low, several weeks before previous records, several weeks before the end of the melting season. The long-term decline of Arctic sea ice has been incredibly fast, and at this point a sudden reversal of events doesnt seem likely. The question no longer seems to be will we see an ice-free Arctic? but how soon will we see it?. By running the Arctic Sea Ice blog for the past three years Ive learned much about the importance of Arctic sea ice. With the help of Kevin McKinney Ive written the piece below, which is a summary of all the potential consequences of disappearing Arctic sea ice.

Arctic sea ice became a recurrent feature on planet Earth around 47 million years ago. Since the start of the current ice age, about 2.5 million years ago, the Arctic Ocean has been completely covered with sea ice. Only during interglacials, like the one we are in now, does some of the sea ice melt during summer, when the top of the planet is oriented a bit more towards the Sun and receives large amounts of sunlight for several summer months. Even then, when winter starts, the ice-free portion of the Arctic Ocean freezes over again with a new layer of sea ice.

Since the dawn of human civilization, 5000 to 8000 years ago, this annual ebb and flow of melting and freezing Arctic sea ice has been more or less consistent. There were periods when more ice melted during summer, and periods when less melted. However, a radical shift has occurred in recent times. Ever since satellites allowed a detailed view of the Arctic and its ice, a pronounced decrease in summer sea ice cover has been observed (with this year setting a new record low). When the IPCC released its Fourth Assessment Report in 2007, it was generally thought that the Arctic could become ice-free somewhere near the end of this century. But changes in the Arctic have progressed at such speed that most experts now think 2030 might see an ice-free Arctic for the first time. Some say it could even happen this decade.

What makes this event significant, is the role Arctic sea ice plays as a reflector of solar energy. Ice is white and therefore reflects a large part of incoming sunlight back out to space. But where there is no ice, dark ocean water absorbs most of the sunlight and thus heats up. The less ice there is, the more the water heats up, melting more ice. This feedback has all kinds of consequences for the Arctic region. Disappearing ice can be good for species such as tiny algae that profit from the warmer waters and extended growing season, but no sea ice could spell catastrophe for larger animals that hunt or give birth to offspring on the ice. Rapidly changing conditions also have repercussions for human populations whose income and culture depend on sea ice. Their communities literally melt and wash away as the sea ice no longer acts as a buffer to weaken wave action.

But what happens in the Arctic, doesnt stay in the Arctic. The rapid disappearance of sea ice cover can have consequences that are felt all over the Northern Hemisphere, due to the effects it has on atmospheric patterns. As the ice pack becomes smaller ever earlier into the melting season, more and more sunlight gets soaked up by dark ocean waters, effectively warming up the ocean. The heat and moisture that are then released to the atmosphere in fall and winter could be leading to disturbances of the jet stream, the high-altitude wind that separates warm air to its south from cold air to the north. A destabilized jet stream becomes more wavy, allowing frigid air to plunge farther south, a possible factor in the extreme winters that were experienced all around the Northern Hemisphere in recent years. Another side-effect is that as the jet stream waves become larger, they slow down or even stall at times, leading to a significant increase in so-called blocking events. These cause extreme weather simply because they lead to unusually prolonged conditions of one type or another. The recent prolonged heatwave, drought and wildfires in the USA are one example of what can happen; another is the cool, dull and extremely wet first half of summer 2012 in the UK and other parts of Eurasia.

[JR: See Arctic
Death Spiral: How It Favors Extreme, Prolonged Weather Events ‘Such As Drought,
Flooding, Cold Spells And Heat Waves’
.
]

The accumulation of heat in Arctic waters also influences other frozen parts of the Arctic, such as glaciers and ice caps on Greenland and in the Canadian Archipelago. As there is less and less sea ice to act as a buffer, more energy can go into melting glaciers from below and warming the air above them. This has a marked effect on Greenlands marine-terminating glaciers and the Greenland Ice Sheet. Not only are glaciers flowing faster towards sea, but there is also a rapid increase in the summer surface melt Greenland experiences, leading to accelerating mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet. As the Arctic warms, an increased contribution to sea level rise is inevitable.

Another way Arctic warming could have worldwide consequences is through its influence on permafrost. Permanently frozen soils worldwide contain 1400-1700 Gigatons of carbon, about four times more than all the carbon emitted by human activity in modern times. A 2008 study found that a period of abrupt sea-ice loss could lead to rapid soil thaw, as far as 900 miles inland. Apart from widespread damage to infrastructure (roads, houses) in northern territories, resulting annual carbon emissions could eventually amount to 15-35 percent of todays yearly emissions from human activities, making the reduction of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere a much more difficult task.

An even more worrying potential source of greenhouse gases is the methane in the seabed of the Arctic Ocean, notably off the coast of Siberia. These so-called clathrates contain an estimated 1400 Gigatons of methane, a more potent though shorter-lived greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Methane clathrate, a form of water ice that contains a large amount of methane within its crystal structure, remains stable under a combination of high pressure and low temperature. At a depth of 50 meters or less the East Siberian Arctic Shelf contains the shallowest methane clathrate deposits, and is thus most vulnerable to rising water temperatures. Current methane concentrations in the Arctic already average about 1.90 parts per million, the highest in 400,000 years.

Apart from these unrecoverable sources of fossil fuel the Arctic is also endowed with large amounts of recoverable oil and natural gas. As the sea ice retreats, the Arctics fossil treasures are eyed greedily by large corporations and nations bordering the Arctic Ocean. Not only might this lead to geopolitical tensions in a world where energy is rapidly becoming more expensive, it is also highly ironic that the most likely cause of the disappearance of Arctic sea ice the extraction and burning of fossil fuels could lead to more extraction of said fuels. Another feedback loop.

News articles referring to the Arctic and its sea ice usually have pictures of polar bears accompanying the text. But although many animals in the Arctic will be impacted negatively by the vanishing of Arctic sea ice, much more is at stake. After thousands of years in which the sea ice played a vital role in the relatively stable conditions under which modern civilization, agriculture and a 7 billion strong world population could develop, it increasingly looks as if warming caused by the emission of greenhouse gases is bringing an end to these stable conditions. Whether there still is time to save the Arctic sea ice, is difficult to tell, but consequences will not disappear when the ice is gone. It seems these can only be mitigated by keeping fossil fuels in the ground and out of the air. Whichever way you look at it, business-as-usual is not an option.

For more information on Arctic sea ice, check out the Arctic Sea Ice blog.

Neven Acropolis with Kevin McKinney

Images used:

Arctic sea ice extent reconstruction Kinnard et al. 2011
Sea ice albedo feedback NASA
Polar jet stream NC State University
Greenland ice sheet surface melt NASA
Permafrost distribution in the Arctic GRID-Arendal
Atmospheric methane concentration NOAA ESRL
Russia plants flag at North Pole Reuters

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/08/26/745571/why-the-arctic-sea-ice-death-spiral-matters/?mobile=nc


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Global Extinction within one Human Lifetime as a Result of a Spreading Atmospheric Arctic Methane Heat wave and Surface Firestorm

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSCtRx2ipcn9umhw_7g3URoYXFRLRw_Yby98pzOjTs3k8aG4ZUQXA

Global Extinction within one Human Lifetime as a Result of a Spreading Atmospheric Arctic Methane Heat wave and Surface Firestorm

Abstract

Although the sudden high rate Arctic methane increase at Svalbard in late 2010 data set applies to only a short time interval, similar sudden methane concentration peaks also occur at Barrow point and the effects of a major methane build-up has been observed using all the major scientific observation systems. Giant fountains/torches/plumes of methane entering the atmosphere up to 1 km across have been seen on the East Siberian Shelf. This methane eruption data is so consistent and aerially extensive that when combined with methane gas warming potentials, Permian extinction event temperatures and methane lifetime data it paints a frightening picture of the beginning of the now uncontrollable global warming induced destabilization of the subsea Arctic methane hydrates on the shelf and slope which started in late 2010. This process of methane release will accelerate exponentially, release huge quantities of methane into the atmosphere and lead to the demise of all life on earth before the middle of this century.

Introduction

The 1990 global atmospheric mean temperature is assumed to be 14.49 oC (Shakil, 2005; NASA, 2002; DATAWeb, 2012) which sets the 2 oC anomaly above which humanity will lose control of her ability to limit the effects of global warming on major climatic and environmental systems at 16.49 oC (IPCC, 2007). The major Permian extinction event temperature is 80 oF (26.66 oC) which is a temperature anomaly of 12.1766 oC above the 1990 global mean temperature of 14.49 oC (Wignall, 2009; Shakil, 2005).

Results of Investigation

Figure 1 shows a huge sudden atmospheric spike like increase in the concentration of atmospheric methane at Svalbard north of Norway in the Arctic reaching 2040 ppb (2.04 ppm)(ESRL/GMO, 2010 – Arctic – Methane – Emergency – Group.org). The cause of this sudden anomalous increase in the concentration of atmospheric methane at Svalbard has been seen on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf where a recent Russian – U.S. expedition has found widespread, continuous powerful methane seepages into the atmosphere from the subsea methane hydrates with the methane plumes (fountains or torches) up to 1 km across producing an atmospheric methane concentration 100 times higher than normal (Connor, 2011). Such high methane concentrations could produce local temperature anomalies of more than 50 oC at a conservative methane warming potential of 25.

Figure+1.jpg
Figure 2 is derived from the Svalbard data in Figure 1 and the methane concentration data has been used to generate a Svalbard atmospheric temperature anomaly trend using a methane warming potential of 43.5 as an example. The huge sudden anomalous spike in atmospheric methane concentration in mid August, 2010 at Svalbard is clearly evident and the methane concentrations within this spike have been used to construct a series of radiating methane global warming temperature trends for the entire range of methane global warming potentials in Figure 3 from an assumed mean start temperature of -3.575 degrees Centigrade for Svalbard (see Figure 2) (Norwegian Polar Institute; 2011).

Figure+2.jpg

Figure 3 shows a set of radiating Arctic atmospheric methane global warming temperature trends calculated from the steep methane atmospheric concentration gradient at Svalbard in 2010 (ESRL/GMO, 2010 – Arctic-Methane-Emergency-Group.org). The range of extinction temperature anomalies above the assumed 1990 mean atmospheric temperature of 14.49 oC (Shakil, 2005) are also shown on this diagram as well as the 80 oF (26.66 oC) major Permian extinction event temperature (Wignall, 2009).

Figure+3.jpg
Sam Carana (pers. com. 7 Jan, 2012) has described large December 2011 (ESRL-NOAA data) warming anomalies which exceed 10 to 20 degrees centigrade and cover vast areas of the Arctic at times. In the centres of these regions, which appear to overlap the Gakkel Ridge and its bounding basins, the temperature anomalies may exceed 20 degrees centigrade.

See this site:-
http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/map/images/fnl/sfctmpmero1a30frames.fnl.anim.html

The temperature anomalies in this region of the Arctic for the period from September 8 2011 to October 7, 2011 were only about 4 degrees Centigrade above normal (Carana, pers. com. 2012) and this data set can be seen on this site:-

http://arctic-newsblogspot.com/p/arctic-temperatures.html

Because the Svalbard methane concentration data suggests that the major spike in methane emissions began in late 2010 it has been assumed for calculation purposes that the 2010 temperature anomalies peaked at 4 degrees Centigrade and the 2011 anomalies at 20 degrees Centigrade in the Gakkel Ridge region. The assumed 20 degree Centigrade temperature anomaly trend from 2010 to 2011 in the Gakkel Ridge region requires a methane gas warming potential of about 1000 to generate it from the Svalbard methane atmospheric concentration spike data in 2010. Such high methane warming potentials could only be active over a very short time interval (less than 5.7 months) as shown when the long methane global warming potential lifetimes data from the IPCC (2007; 1992) and Dessus, Laponte and Treut (2008 ) are used to generate a global warming potential growth curve with a methane global warming potential of 100 with a lifespan of 5 years.

Because of the high methane global warming potential (1000) of the 2011, 20 oC temperature anomalies in the Gakkel Ridge region, the entire methane global warming potential range from 5 to 1000 has been used to construct the radiating set of temperature trends shown in Figure 3. The 50, 100, 500 and 1000 methane global warming potential (GWP) trends are red and in bold. The choice of a high temperature methane peak with a global warming potential near 1000 is in fact very conservative because the 16 oC increase is assumed to occur over a year. The observed ESRL-NOAA Arctic temperature anomalies varied from 4 to 20 degrees over less than a month in 2011 (Sam Carana, pers. comm. 2012).

Figure 4 shows the estimated lifetime of a globally spreading Arctic methane atmospheric veil for different methane global warming potentials with the minimum, mean and maximum lifetimes fixed with data from Dessus, Laponche and Treut (2008) and IPCC (2007, 1992). On this diagram it is evident that the maximum methane global warming potential temperature trend of 50 intersects the 2 degree centigrade temperature anomaly line in mid 2027 at which time humanity will completely lose our ability to combat the earth atmospheric temperature rise. This diagram also indicates that methane will be an extremely active global warming agent for the first 15 years during the early stages of the extinction process. At the 80 o F (26.66 oC) Permian extinction event temperature line (Wignall, 2009), which has a 12.177 oC temperature anomaly above the 1980 mean of 14.49 oC, the lifetime of the minimum methane global warming potential veil is now some 75 years long and the temperature so high that total extinction of all life on earth will have occured by this time.

The life time from the almost instantaneous injection of methane into the atmosphere in 2010 is also shown as the two vertical violet lines (12 +- 3) years and this has been extended by 6 percent to 15.9 years to take account of increased methane concentrations in the future (IPCC, 1992b). This data set can be used to set up the likely start position for the extinction event from the large methane emissions in 2010.

(The above is only an intro -Read the whole article with references and comments at http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/global-extinction-within-one-human.html )


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World is Unprepared as Climate Change Starvation ‘Disaster’ Lies Ahead: Report | Common Dreams

Millions of people will die of starvation across the world as agricultural yields are expected to tank and the price of food is expected to double by 2050 scientists warned in a new report released this week.

Corn in the hands of a farmworker in South Africa. Photograph: Greatstock Photographic Library/Alamy The culprit? Extreme temperatures, floods and droughts brought on by climate change, the scientists warned in this year’s US National Climate Assessment.

Lead researches of the study told the Observer that food insecurity risks turning parts of Africa into permanent disaster areas.

Frank Rijsberman, head of the world’s 15 international CGIAR crop research centers, stated:

Food production will have to rise 60% by 2050 just to keep pace with expected global population increase and changing demand. Climate change comes on top of that. The annual production gains we have come to expect will be taken away by climate change. We are not so worried about the total amount of food produced so much as the vulnerability of the one billion people who are without food already and who will be hit hardest by climate change. They have no capacity to adapt.

The Observer reports:

America’s agricultural economy is set to undergo dramatic changes over the next three decades, as warmer temperatures devastate crops, according to a US government report. The draft US National Climate Assessment report predicts that a gradually warming climate and unpredictable severe weather, such as the drought that last year spread across two-thirds of the continental United States, will have serious consequences for farmers.

The research by 60 scientists predicts that all crops will be affected by the temperature shift as well as livestock and fruit harvests. The changing climate, it says, is likely to lead to more pests and less effective herbicides. The $50bn Californian wine industry could shrink as much as 70% by 2050.

The report lays bare the stark consequences for the $300bn US farm industry, stating: “Many agricultural regions will experience declines in crop and livestock production. The rising incidence of weather extremes will have increasingly negative impacts on crop and livestock production. Climate disruptions have increased in the recent past and are projected to increase further over the next 25 years.

“Critical thresholds are already being exceeded. Many regions will experience declines in crop and livestock production from increased stress due to weeds, diseases, insect pests and other climate change-induced stresses. Climate disruptions to agricultural production have increased in the recent past and are projected to increase further”.

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http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/04/14-0


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Endangered Earth: Poll — Americans Want Congress to Stay Out of Keystone

Center for Biological Diversity

Keystone pipelineA new national poll commissioned by the Center for Biological Diversity finds that most Americans (53 percent) don’t want congressional intervention in deciding on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline — and even more (62 percent) don’t want “eminent domain” to be used to build the pipeline on private land. The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, comes as the U.S. Senate is poised to decide on Keystone during ongoing budget negotiations — a step that would bypass environmental review and require that the pipeline be built without more study.

Our polling found another powerful narrative, too: Sixty-eight percent of those who voted for President Obama in November opposed the Keystone pipeline, while 76 percent say they’re concerned about the project’s impact on climate change and the environment.

Any way you look at it, the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas (carrying dirty tar-sands oil) is bad news for wildlife, our climate and ultimately the future of the planet. We’re mobilizing citizens to speak out about this disastrous project; stay tuned for how to get involved.

Read more about our poll in Politico.