Sunday, November 4, 2018

Doomsday by 2021?

The Doomsday Clock, by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, constitutes a potent symbol of the danger we're in. When taking the 'minutes to midnight' from statements 1991 to 2018, an added trend points at Midnight by 2021. Will it be Doomsday by 2021?

The 2018 Statement said that "world leaders failed to respond effectively to the looming threats of nuclear war and climate change. [ . . ] Global carbon dioxide emissions have not yet shown the beginnings of the sustained decline towards zero that must occur if ever greater warming is to be avoided."

Recently, Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Director, said: "We expect energy-related CO2 emissions will increase once again in 2018 after growing in 2017."

Next to carbon dioxide, the outlook for other greenhouse gases is also very worrying and the situation could deteriorate very rapidly, as further described below.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
Here's how. As above image shows, oceans continue to warm up, due to the rise in greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere. 

The image on the right shows sea surface temperature anomalies as high as as 7.1°C (or 12.7°F) in the Bering Strait (at the green circle) on October 15, 2018.

Warmer oceans result in stronger cyclones. The next image on the right shows that Typhoon Yutu was forecast to reach an Instantaneous Wind Power Density (WPD) as high as 207647 W/m² at 850 mb and wind speeds as fast as 268 km/h or 167 mph at the green circle, i.e. at 18.50° N, 124.00° E, on October 30, 2018, 00:00 UTC.

Cyclones can suddenly push huge amounts of salty warm water into the Arctic Ocean. The danger is that a strong influx of salty warm water into the Arctic Ocean could trigger destabilization of hydrates in sediments, resulting in massive eruptions of methane from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, as described in earlier posts such as this one.

This methane could cause temperatures to suddenly rise strongly at the higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, speeding up decline of sea ice and permafrost, and further deforming the jet stream.
[ Image from: Extreme weather is upon us ]
This could trigger even more extreme weather events, in particular storms, flooding, heatwaves and fires, across the Northern Hemisphere that could devastate crops, take down power grids and threaten meltdowns of nuclear power plants.

Burning of agricultural waste can cause a lot of air pollution. The image on the right shows that on November 7, 2018 (at the green circle), levels of coarse particulate matter (PM10) as high as 1,913 μg/m³ were reached.

Even higher levels can be reached due to forest fires. As the image on the right shows, PM10 levels as high as 6,289 µg/m³ were reached on November 10, 2018, levels as high as 9,116 µg/m³ were reached on November 11, 2018, and levels as high as 9,856 µg/m³ are forecast for November 14, 2018, due to fires in California.

Above image shows that levels as high as 75,994 μg/m³ were reached in Siberia in 2017.

Such fires can add huge amounts of black carbon to the atmosphere.

For comparison, the EPA has set a National Ambient Air Quality Standard PM10 maximum of 150 μg/m³.

The decreasing temperature difference between the North Pole and the Equator would make the jet stream even more wavy, accelerating winds that increase fire risks, while also increasing droughts that further increase fire risks.

High greenhouse gas levels further aggravate the situation. Carbon monoxide (CO) levels as high as 52,440 ppb and carbon dioxide (CO₂) levels as high as 809 ppm were reached on November 10, 2018, while CO levels as high as 78,116 ppb were forecast for November 14, 2018, due to fires in California.

The image below shows the smoke from fires in California on November 9, 2018.

Black carbon causes both cooling and warming. Black carbon shades the surface, somewhat cooling the surface of land and water, while it also absorbs heat, thus warming the air above the surface. Furthermore, black carbon causes warming by darkening the surface once it settles down. Studies have calculated that black carbon has a total net global warming effect of more than 1.1 W/m².

Above video Rings of Fire features former firefighter Tom Swetnam.

The image below illustrates to what extent smoke from fires boosted black carbon in the air over North America on August 23, 2018.

[ Image from: Will August 2018 be the hottest month on record? ]
Furthermore, without access to fossil fuel and with the electricity grid down, many people could turn to kerosene lamps for lighting and burning wood for heating and cooking, resulting in even more black carbon emissions that have a huge immediate warming impact. James Hansen (2007) found the GWP for soot (BC) to be approximately 2000 for 20 years, approximately 500 for 100 years and approximately 200 for 500 years.

Next to black carbon, there is another type of aerosols that is important, i.e. sulfur.  Above video contains the Horizon documentary 'Global Dimming', broadcast January 2005 by the BBC.

Above image shows sulfur dioxide levels as high as 3597.10 µg/m³ in East Asia on October 24, 2018, indicating that sulfur levels may still be rising.

[ From the Extinction page ]
The image on the right shows IPCC (2000) projections for sulfur dioxide emissions.

The aerosol masking effect associated with sulfur would be strongly reduced as industrial activity would come to a standstill, thus further driving up warming.

The events as described above could result in a combined additional warming due to changes in aerosols of up to 2.5°C (4.5°F) in a matter of years.

The prospect of such a sequence of events makes a Doomsday-by-2021 warning appropriate. The accumulated impact of the various warming elements is illustrated by the image on the right.

The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as described at the Climate Plan.


• The Doomsday Clock by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

• What Does Runaway Warming Look Like?

• Tweet by Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Director, October 8, 2018

• Climate change and trace gases, by James Hansen et al. (2007)

• IPCC Special Report, Emissions Scenarios (2000)

• EPA National Ambient Air Quality Standards

• Toxic smog cloaks New Delhi morning after Diwali festivities (November 8, 2018)

• Extreme weather is upon us

• Will August 2018 be the hottest month on record?

• Climate Plan

• Feedbacks

• Extinction

• Can we weather the Danger Zone?

• How much warmer is it now?

Saturday, October 13, 2018

IPCC keeps feeding the addiction

The IPCC just released its report Global Warming of 1.5ºC. Things aren't looking good and instead of providing good advice and guidance, the IPCC bends over backward in efforts to keep feeding the addiction.

The Paris Agreement constitutes a joint commitment by all nations of the world to keep the temperature rise below 1.5ºC. The IPCC should have honored this commitment by explaining that the situation is dire and by pointing at action to be taken to improve the situation.

Instead, the IPCC bends over backward to make it look as if temperatures were lower than they really are, in an effort to make it look as if there were carbon budgets to be divided, and polluters should be allowed to keep polluting until those budgets had run out. This is like saying that drug junkies who cause damage and are deeply in debt, should be handed over more OPM (other people's money, in this case the future of all people and other species).

In reality, there is no carbon budget to be divided, there is just a huge carbon debt to be repaid. The urgency and imperative to act is such that progress in one area cannot make up for delays elsewhere. The best policies should be implemented immediately, and everywhere across the world.

Use of terms such as trade-offs, net-outcomes, off-sets, carbon budgets and negative emissions is misguided and highly misleading. Policies based on giving and trading in permits to pollute are less effective than local feebates, i.e. polices that impose fees on sales of polluting products and then use the revenues to support rebates on the better alternatives sold locally.

Here are twelve instances where the IPCC is misleading:
  1. Changing the baseline set at the Paris Agreement
    While the Paris Agreement is clear that pre-industrial is to be used as baseline, the IPCC has instead chosen to use 1850-1900, a period when the Industrial Revolution had long started. This compromises the entire Paris Agreement and thus the integrity of us all. Temperatures may well have been 0.3ºC higher in 1900 than in 1750, as depicted in above image in the light blue block. Add up the warming elements and it may well be that people have caused more than 2ºC of warming already and that we're facing warming of more than 10ºC by 2026.

  2. Misleading calculations and wording
    The IPCC suggests that warming caused by people is 1.0°C (±0.2°C), likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052. To reach these numbers, the IPCC used misleading calculations in efforts to downplay how dangerous the situation is, as discussed further below. As an example of misleading wording, the IPCC says it has high confidence that 1.5°C won't be reached until 2030 if warming continues to increase at the current rate of 0.2°C per decade. Sure, if warming was 1.0°C and if it was indeed warming at 0.2°C per decade and if that warming would continue at 0.2°C per decade, yes, then it would take 25 years for warming to reach 1.5°C. But the reality is that warming is already far more than 1.0°C and that it is accelerating. That makes it misleading to associate high confidence with the suggestion that warming will not reach 1.5°C until 2030. The use of a straight line (linear trend) is misleading in the first place, since warming is accelerating. The use of a straight line is even more misleading when such a straight line is then used to make projections into the future and qualifications such as high confidence are added.

  3. Ignoring the importance of peaks
    Daily and monthly peaks are obviously higher than annual averages, and it's those high peaks that kill, making it disrespectful toward past and future victims of extreme weather events to average that away. NASA records show that, in February 2016, it was on average 1.67ºC warmer than in 1900 (i.e. a 30-year period centered around 1900), while the higher latitudes North had anomalies up to 10.8ºC. On land, the average anomaly in February 2016 was 2.26ºC. And this is before adding 0.3ºC for the rise before 1900, and before further adjustments as discussed below. Conservatively, the magenta block at the top of above image shows a rise of 1.63ºC.

  4. Cherry-picking the baseline period
    For a baseline of a 30-year period around the year 1900, the temperature rise to 2016/2017 was 1.22ºC, NASA records show. When adding another 0.3ºC rise for the rise before 1900, warming was well above 1.5ºC in 2016/2017. However, the IPCC conveniently selects an 1850-1900 baseline, a period when it was relatively warm, i.e. warmer than in 1750 and warmer also than in 1900. It was warmer from 1850 to 1900 due to increasing livestock numbers and forests clearing, while huge amounts of wood were burned, all contributing to large emissions of black carbon, brown carbon, methane, CO, etc., which caused additional warming during this period. So, this period was relatively warm. There was little impact yet of the sulfur aerosols that started coming with burning fossil fuel from 1900. Choosing this baseline period enabled the IPCC to beef up the temperature for the baseline and then draw a linear trend from 1850-1900 that looks flatter.

  5. Changing the data
    The U.K. Met Office's HadCRUT dataset goes back to 1850. The IPCC used this dataset, but actually changed the data, by averaging the data with datasets that showed a similar rise for the years after 1900, but that showed higher warming for 1880-1900. This enabled the IPCC to further beef up the average temperature for the period 1850-1900 and then draw a linear trend from 1850-1900 that looks even flatter.

  6. Cherry-picking the type of data
    To further support its suggestions, the IPCC uses water surface data for ocean temperature, but uses air data for temperatures over land. When selecting datasets with more consistency and using air temperatures globally, the temperature rise is 0.1ºC higher.

  7. Not using new techniques to estimate values for missing data
    The IPCC chooses not to use new techniques to estimate temperatures where data are missing. Less data are available for the Arctic, and this is precisely where temperatures have risen much faster than in the rest of the world. When values for missing data are included, the temperature rise is another 0.1ºC higher.

  8. Leaving out 2016
    The IPCC suggests there was a temperature rise of 0.2ºC per decade in the years up to 2015, as if the high temperatures in 2016 didn't occur. The IPCC then uses that 0.2ºC rise to make projections into the future, conveniently skipping the high temperatures in 2016. Failure to properly address acceleration of future warming is further discussed in the point below.

  9. Failure to properly address dangerous developments
    The IPCC fails to point out that carbon dioxide reaches a maximum in warming the atmosphere some 10 years after emission, which means that the full wrath of global warming due to the very high emissions of carbon dioxide over the past decade is yet to come. While temperatures could rise very rapidly over the coming decade, the IPCC keeps talking about carbon budgets, without properly addressing tipping points such as the decline of the snow and ice cover that will result in huge albedo losses, jet stream changes, more and more extreme weather events, and more. The IPCC fails to point out the danger of destabilization of sediments containing methane in the form of hydrates and free gas. Furthermore, the IPCC fails to properly address the aerosol warming that will occur as sulfur emissions decrease and other aerosols increase such as black carbon, brown carbon, etc. The IPCC fails to mention the water vapor feedback, i.e. the increase of water vapor in the atmosphere that will occur as a result of these developments. Since water vapor itself is a potent greenhouse gas, this will speed up the temperature rise even further. These developments could lead to a potential global temperature rise (from 1750) of more than 10ºC by 2026, as illustrated in the image at the top.

  10. There is no carbon budget left
    Instead of pointing at the dangers, as it should have done, the IPCC makes it look as if there was a remaining carbon budget that should be divided among polluters, as if they should continue polluting the world. It should be obvious that there is no such budget. Instead, there's only a huge and very dangerous carbon debt. There is no room for trade-offs or offsets, and terms such as negative emissions are also inappropriate. All efforts should be made to cut emissions, including ending current subsidies for fossil fuel and livestock, while at the same time great effort should be taken to remove carbon from the atmosphere and oceans. And even then, it's questionable whether any humans will be able to survive the coming decade, which will be critically dangerous for all species on Earth.

  11. Suggesting polluting pathways
    The pathways suggested by the IPCC keep fossil fuel in the picture for many years, while highlighting non-solutions such as BECCS. The IPCC makes it look as if coal-fired power plants could continue to operate, by burning more biomass and capturing carbon. The IPCC makes it look as if transport could continue to use internal combustion engines, by burning more biofuel. Instead, clean & renewable energy has many benefits, including that it's more economic, so air capture powered by such facilities would make more sense than BECCS. Furthermore, electric vehicles should be supported now, rather than in the year 2050. It makes sense to stop fossil fuel subsidies, and to support better diets, to plant more vegetation and to support ways to add carbon and nutrients to soils and oceans, such as with biochar and ground rocks. Many technologies have been proposed, e.g. refrigerators and freezers are now made that do not use gases for cooling. The IPCC should not have used pathways that are wrong in the first place. Instead, the IPCC should have pointed at the policies that can best facilitate the necessary transitions, because the scientific evidence is overwhelming and it's the right thing to do.

  12. Not pointing at the best and much-needed policy tools
    The IPCC report fails to point out that imposing fees on polluting products is the most effective policy instrument, the more so when the revenues are used to support rebates on better alternatives supplied locally.
The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as described at the Climate Plan.

Prof. Peter Wadhams and Stuart Scott discuss the IPCC Global Warming of 1.5ºC report

Extended version of above video

Paul Beckwith on baseline, methane and more

Stuart Scott talks with Prof. Peter Wadhams on Arctic sea ice

Magnificent work by Stefanie Steven

[ budget ]
Proper analysis would have pointed at what the best action is to improve the situation.

However, the IPCC does not do that. Instead, the IPCC keeps stating that there was a carbon budget to be divided and consumed, while advocating non-solutions such as BECCS and while hiding the full extent of how threatening the situation is.

A quick word count of the IPCC report Global Warming of 1.5ºC (SPM) shows paragraphs full of words such as budget (1st image right) and of non-solutions such as BECCS (2nd image right).

At the same time, it fails to mention biochar, meat or local feebates. It fails to mention the huge threat of feedbacks and tipping points such as methane hydrates and Arctic sea ice, instead making it look as if all that could only pose potential problems over longer timescales.

This is indicative of how much the IPCC is part of the problem and part and parcel of the wilful destruction of life itself that is taking place so obviously all around us.

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) might as well change its name to IPCD (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Destruction).

It's not as if people weren't warned.
The danger was described back in 2007: Total Extinction.
The mechanism was depicted back in 2011: Runaway Global Warming.
And still, in 2018, the IPCC sadly keeps on feeding the addiction.


• IPCC special report Global Warming of 1.5ºC

• Paris Agreement

• How much warming have humans caused?

• Climate Plan

• Feedbacks

• Extinction

• Can we weather the Danger Zone?

• How much warmer is it now?

• 100% clean, renewable energy is cheaper

• Fridges and freezers that don't use gases

• Negative-CO2-emissions ocean thermal energy conversion

• 'Electrogeochemistry' captures carbon, produces fuel, offsets ocean acidification

• Olivine weathering to capture CO2 and counter climate change

• Biochar group at facebook

• Aerosols

• IPCC seeks to downplay global warming

• Blue Ocean Event

• What Does Runaway Warming Look Like?

• Ten Dangers of Global Warming

• AGU poster, AGU Fall Meeting 2011

Monday, October 8, 2018

What Does Runaway Warming Look Like?

The forcing caused by the rapid rise in the levels of greenhouse gases is far out of line with current temperatures. A 10°C higher temperature is more in line with these levels, as illustrated by the image below.

Carbon dioxide levels have been above 400 ppm for years. Methane levels above 1900 ppb were recorded in September 2018. Such high levels are more in line with a 10°C higher temperature, as illustrated by the above graph based on 420,000 years of ice core data from Vostok, Antarctica, research station.

How fast could such a 10°C temperature rise eventuate? The image below gives an idea.

Such runaway warming would first of all and most prominently become manifest in the Arctic. In many ways, such a rise is already underway, as the remainder of this post will show.

High Arctic Temperatures

Why are Arctic temperatures currently so high for the time of year?

As warmer water enters the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, there is no thick sea ice left to consume this heat. Some of this heat will escape from the Arctic Ocean to the atmosphere, as illustrated by above  image showing very high temperatures for the time of the year over the Arctic (higher than 80°C latitude).

Above image shows that Arctic temperatures are increasingly getting higher during Winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

Similarly, above NASA image shows that Arctic temperatures are increasingly getting higher during Winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

As the Arctic warms up faster than the rest of the world, the Jet Stream is becoming more wavy, allowing more hot air to move into the Arctic, while at the same time allowing more cold air to move south.

Above image shows that the air over the Beaufort Sea was as warm as 12.8°C or 55°F (circle, at 850 mb) on October 2, 2018. The image also illustrates that a warmer world comes with increasingly stronger cyclonic winds.

The images above and below shows that on October 2 and 7, 2018, the sea surface in the Bering Strait was as much as 6°C or 10.7°F, respectively 6.4°C or 11.6°F warmer than 1981-2011 (at the green circle).

As temperatures on the continent are coming down in line with the change in seasons, the air temperature difference is increasing between - on the one hand - the air over continents on the Northern Hemisphere and - on the one hand - air over oceans on the Northern Hemisphere. This growing difference is speeding up winds accordingly, which in turn can also speed up the influx of water into the Arctic Ocean.

[ The Buffer has gone, feedback #14 on the Feedbacks page ]
Start of freezing period

Here's the danger. In October, Arctic sea ice is widening its extent, in line with the change of seasons. This means that less heat can escape from the Arctic Ocean to the atmosphere. Sealed off from the atmosphere by sea ice, greater mixing of heat in the water will occur down to the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, while there is little or no ice buffer left to consume an influx of heat from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, increasing the danger that warm water will reach the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean and destabilize methane hydrates. 

Rising salt content of Arctic Ocean

It's not just the influx of heat that is the problem. There's also the salt. Ice will stay frozen and will not melt in freshwater until the temperature reaches 0°C (or 32°F). Ice in saltwater on the other hand will already have melted away at -2°C (or 28.4°F).

The animation of the right shows salty water rapidly flowing through the Bering Strait.

With the change of seasons, there is less rain over the Arctic Ocean. The sea ice also seals the water of the Arctic Ocean off from precipitation, so no more fresh water will be added to the Arctic Ocean due to rain falling or snow melting on the water.

In October, temperatures on land around the Arctic Ocean will have fallen below freezing point, so less fresh water will flow from glaciers and rivers into the Arctic Ocean. At that time of year, melting of sea ice has also stopped, so fresh water from melting sea ice is no longer added to the Arctic Ocean either.

Pingos and conduits. Hovland et al. (2006)
So, the Arctic Ocean is receiving less freshwater, while the influx of water from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans is very salty. This higher salt content of the water makes it easier for ice to melt at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. Saltier warm water is causing ice in cracks and passages in sediments at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean to melt, allowing methane contained in the sediment to escape.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
The image on the right, from a study by Hovland et al., shows that hydrates can exist at the end of conduits in the sediment, formed when methane did escape from such hydrates in the past. Heat can travel down such conduits relatively fast, warming up the hydrates and destabilizing them in the process, which can result in huge abrupt releases of methane.

Heat can penetrate cracks and conduits in the seafloor, destabilizing methane held in hydrates and in the form of free gas in the sediments.


peak methane levels as high as 2859 ppb
On October 2 and 7, 2018, peak methane levels were as high as 2838 ppb, respectively 2859 ppb, as the images on the right shows. Methane levels over the Beaufort Sea have been high for some time, and have remained high at very high altitudes.

The threat is that a number of tipping points are going to be crossed, including the buffer of latent heat, loss of albedo as Arctic sea ice disappears, methane releases from the seafloor and rapid melting of permafrost on land and associated decomposition of soils, resulting in additional greenhouse gases (CO₂, CH₄, N₂O and water vapor) entering the Arctic atmosphere, in a vicious self-reinforcing cycle of runaway warming.

A 10°C rise in temperature by 2026?

Above image shows how a 10°C or 18°F temperature rise from preindustrial could eventuate by 2026 (from earlier post).

The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as described at the Climate Plan.


• Temperature Rise

• Mean Methane Levels reach 1800 ppb

• Why are methane levels over the Arctic Ocean high from October to March?

• Blue Ocean Event

• Feedbacks

• The Threat

• Extinction

• Aerosols

• How extreme will it get?

• Climate Plan

Monday, September 24, 2018

Looking the climate abyss in the eye!

Growth of CO₂ in the atmosphere is accelerating. The image shows the growth rate in parts per million (ppm), based on annual Mauna Loa data (1959-2017), with a 4th-order polynomial trend added.

While no data are yet available for the year 2018, the trend on above image points at 2.65 ppm. The image below shows the level for the most recent week, which is 2.53 ppm above the corresponding week a year ago.

Carl Rasmussen calculates that the de-seasonalised growth rate has now (at the middle of 2018) reached ±2.3 ppm/y. Carl adds: "the rate of growth is itself growing, [it is] the highest growth rate ever seen in modern timesThis is not just a 'business as usual' scenario, it is worse than that, we're actually moving backward, becoming more and more unsustainable with every year. This shows unequivocally that the efforts undertaken so-far to limit green house gases such as carbon dioxide are woefully inadequate."

Even more alarming is the growth in methane.

Peak methane levels were as high as 3.37 ppm on August 31, 2018, an ominous warning of the threat of destabilization of methane hydrates at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean.

Mean global methane levels were as high as 1.91 ppm on the morning of September 20, 2018, at 293 millibar.

This is a level unprecedented in human history and it far exceeds the WMO-data-based trend (added on the right of above image).

Temperatures look set for a steep rise within years, as we now are fully in the danger zone.

Meanwhile, the IPCC seeks to downplay the amount of global warming that has already occurred and that looks set to eventuate over the next decade or so.

The image on the right shows the full extent of the climate abyss that we’re facing.

Have a look at the Extinction page for more details on the full extent of the threat.

How many people and species will survive the coming temperature rise? We don’t know.

The best we can do is to support climate action, i.e. action that starts immediately, and that is transformative, comprehensive and effective, as described in the Climate Plan.

Have a look at the lines of action depicted in the image below.


• Blue Ocean Event

• Can we weather the Danger Zone?

• How much warmer is it now?

• 100% clean, renewable energy is cheaper

• Feedbacks

• How much warming have humans caused?

• IPCC seeks to downplay global warming

• The Threat

• Extinction

• Aerosols

• How extreme will it get?

• Climate Plan