Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Stronger Extinction Alert

The February 2019 temperature is in line with an earlier analysis that 2019 could be 1.85°C above preindustrial and that a rapid temperature rise may take place over the next few years, as illustrated by the image on the right.

Let's walk through the steps once more.

Baseline adjustment

The combination image below shows that the February 2019 temperature was 0.93°C above a 1951-1980 baseline (left) and 1.21°C above a 1885-1915 baseline (right), a difference of 0.28°C.

In other words, when using a baseline that is centered around 1900, the data should be adjusted by 0.28°C. In the image below, the gold graph uses 1951-1980 as baseline and two linear trend are added, one using data starting in 1880 (gold) and one using data starting in 1900 (blue).

Both linear trends are out of line with the recent temperature rise, the gold trend even more so than the blue trend, illustrating that starting a linear trend from an earlier year can make an analysis worse.

As said, if we want to use a baseline that is centered around 1900, the data should be adjusted by 0.28°C, and this is what the green graph does. A 4th-order polynomial trend is added that lines up perfectly with zero at the year 1900.

Further adjustment is needed for a 1750 baseline, which better reflects preindustrial as in the Paris Agreement. As discussed in an earlier post, this could result in an additional adjustment of 0.3°C.

Higher Arctic temperature

Furthermore, have another look at above maps. Much of the extreme anomalies are in line with changes to the Jet Stream, as also illustrated by the insert. More cold air escaping the Arctic and more warm air entering the Arctic are both speeding up Arctic warming. In the map on the right, much of the Arctic is left grey, since no data are available for the Arctic around 1900, but the Arctic should not be left out of the picture and adding a further 0.1°C adjustment seems appropriate to better include the Arctic.

Air temperature over oceans

Finally, the NASA temperatures for oceans are the surface temperatures of the water, but it makes more sense to use air temperatures close to the water, which likely adds a further 0.1°C. This adds up a total adjustment of 0.78°C as applied in the red graph, which also has an 8th-order polynomial trend added.

Which trendline works best?

How appropriate is it to apply an 8th-order polynomial trend to climate data? Have another look at above graphs and consider that in the gold graph, R²=0.687 for the gold linear trend (1880-Feb 2019 data) and R²=0.752 for blue linear trend (1900-Feb 2019 data), while in the green graph, R²=0.812 for the dark green 4th-order polynomial trend, and in the red graph, R²=0.828 for the pink 8th-order polynomial trend. In other words, the pink trend better follows the ups and downs of the data than the lower-order polynomial trend, and it does so much better than the linear trends that both are clearly unrealistic in an analysis of warming acceleration.

Selecting the axes

Is warming accelerating? Trend analysis that uses data going back many years can only be part of the picture; it's also important to anticipate changes that loom in the near future. When taking the many feedbacks, tipping points and further warming elements more fully into account, warming could accelerate even more strongly than depicted in the red trend in the graph at the top.

In the 'Extinction Alert' graph at the top,  the vertical axis is cut off at 5°C, since life on Earth will already have disappeared by then (see box on the right), but when looking at near-term human extinction, 3°C will likely suffice.

How soon could 3°C warming be reached? The 'Extreme Alert' image below looks at data over the past decade, and a fifth-order polynomial trend (red) shows how warming could cross 3°C as early as next year.

How could such a scenario eventuate?

In such a rapid warming scenario, a stronger-than-expected El Niño would contribute to early demise of the Arctic sea ice and destabilization of hydrates at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, resulting in eruption of vast amounts of methane that further speed up Arctic warming and causes terrestrial permafrost to melt as well, resulting in even more emissions, while the Jet Stream gets even more deformed, etc., etc.

Even when adding a rather inappropriate linear trend (blue) to above data, warming still looks set to cross 2°C by 2026 in the Extreme Alert image, but as the chart below shows, there could be a rise of as much as 18°C by 2026.

[ from an earlier post ]
The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as described at the Climate Plan.


• Co-extinctions annihilate planetary life during extreme environmental change, by Giovanni Strona and Corey Bradshaw (2018)

• How much warming have humans caused?

• Extinction

• A rise of 18°C or 32.4°F by 2026?

• Climate Plan

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Accelerating Rise In Greenhouse Gas Levels

Carbon dioxide

The rise in the levels of carbon dioxide (CO₂) in the atmosphere continues to accelerate. Over the past 31 days, CO₂ levels at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, have been above 410 ppm, while on March 3, 2019, some average hourly readings exceeded 415 ppm. The levels recorded in the year up until now weren't expected to occur until April/May 2019, as illustrated by the image below.

How much could carbon dioxide levels grow over the next decade?

An earlier Met Office forecast expects annual average CO₂ levels at Mauna Loa to be 2.75 ppm higher in 2019 than in 2018. Looking at above levels, growth could be even stronger than that.

The image below shows NOAA 1959-2018 CO₂ growth data (black) with above Met Office forecast added for 2019 (brown). The growth figures for 2018 and 2019 are spot on a trend that is added in line with an earlier analysis.
[ from an earlier post ]
Strong CO₂ growth could occur over the next few years, due to releases from increased burning of fossil fuel and biomass, more forest fires and melting permafrost, and the added impact of stronger El Niño events and less uptake of carbon dioxide by oceans and ecosystems. An earlier analysis concludes that CO₂ growth could raise temperatures by 0.5°C or 0.9°F by 2026.


Levels of methane (CH₄) are also rising at accelerating pace, as illustrated by the image below.
[ from an earlier post ]
Above graph shows July 1983 through October 2018 monthly global methane means at sea level, with added trend. Higher methane means can occur at higher altitudes than at sea level, as illustrated by the image below that shows the highest mean methane levels recorded by the MetOp satellites on March 10 for the years 2013 to 2019 at selected altitudes.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
Global methane levels in March are at a seasonal low. The highest global means occur in September. On September 3, 2018, global methane means as high as 1905 ppb were recorded at 307 mb, an altitude at which some of the strongest growth in methane has occurred, as discussed in earlier posts such as this one.

The MetOp satellites have some difficulty measuring methane at lower altitudes. Above NPP satellite image shows high methane levels across the Arctic Ocean close to sea level, with mean levels of 1842 ppb recorded at 1000 mb, i.e. surface level. This indicates that high methane levels do occur as a result of releases from the Arctic Ocean. The above-mentioned analysis concludes that seafloor methane releases alone could raise the global temperature by 1.1°C or 1.98°F by 2026. Growth in methane releases elsewhere, e.g. due to permafrost melt and forest fires, could further raise methane levels and thus temperatures.

Above image shows that peak methane levels were as high as 2947 ppb on March 7, 2019. The image also shows worryingly high methane levels over Antarctica, as also discussed earlier, in a 2013 post.

Nitrous Oxide

Growth in nitrous oxide (N₂O) is not often discussed, yet it's very important both because of the high global warming potential and long lifetime of N₂O, and because of the ozone depletion it causes in the stratosphere. The image below shows mean levels of N₂O of 320 ppb, with peaks reaching levels as high as 345.2 ppb at 1000 mb (sea level) on March 10, 2019.

Above image also shows high levels of nitrous oxide over the Arctic Ocean. Levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are generally higher in the Arctic than in the rest of the world, which contributes to the accelerating warming of the Arctic.

[ from an earlier post ]
Accelerating Rise In Greenhouse Gas Levels

The image on the right shows that CH₄, CO₂ and N₂O levels in the atmosphere are, respectively, 257%, 146% and 122% their 1750 levels, according to IPCC and WMO data.

In summary, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are rising at accelerating pace, and this spells bad news, the more so since, next to CH₄, CO₂ and N₂O, there are additional warming elements that can further speed up the temperature rise, such as black carbon, or soot, water vapor, loss of Arctic sea ice, etc.

How much could the global temperature rise? The above-mentioned analysis concludes that a temperature rise of 18°C or 32.4°F could eventuate by 2026, while life on Earth will already have disappeared with a 5°C or 9°F temperature rise.

The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action as described in the Climate Plan and as also discussed in this recent post.


• CO₂ levels reach another record high

• As El Niño sets in, will global biodiversity collapse in 2019?

• A rise of 18°C or 32.4°F by 2026?

• Care for the Ozone Layer

• Methane hydrates (2013)

• Climate Plan

• Extinction

Thursday, February 28, 2019

A rise of 18°C or 32.4°F by 2026?

A catastrophe of unimaginable proportions is unfolding. Life is disappearing from Earth and all life could be gone within one decade. Study after study is showing the size of the threat, yet many people seem out to hide what we're facing.

In the Arctic alone, four tipping points look set to be crossed within a few years:
  1. Loss of the Arctic sea ice's ability to act as a buffer to absorb incoming ocean heat
  2. Loss of Arctic sea ice's ability to reflect sunlight back into space (albedo)
  3. Destabilization of sediments at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean 
  4. Permafrost melt
Crossing these tipping points triggers a number of feedbacks that kick in at accelerating speed, including even more absorption of heat by the Arctic Ocean, further changes to the Jet Stream resulting in even more extreme weather, seafloor methane release, water vapor feedback and emissions from land such as CH₄ (methane), N₂O (nitrous oxide) and NO (nitrogen oxide), due to permafrost melt, storms and forest fires. Temperatures also threaten to rise strongly over the next few years as sulfate cooling falls away while more black carbon and brown carbon gets emitted as more wood gets burned and more forest fires occur.

A recent study points at yet another tipping point, i.e. the disappearance of marine stratus clouds, which could result in a global temperature rise of eight degrees Celsius (8°C or 14.4°F). In the model used in the study, the tipping point starts to occur at 1,200 ppm CO₂e, i.e. a stack of greenhouse gases including CH₄, N₂O, CO₂ and H₂O, and changes in clouds resulted in global surface warming of 8°C at 1,300 ppm CO₂e, as stratocumulus decks did break up into cumulus clouds and evaporation strengthened, and average longwave cooling at the level of the cloud tops dropped to less than 10% of what it was in the presence of stratocumulus decks.

This 8°C rise would come on top of the warming that would already have occurred due to other warming elements, resulting in a total rise of as 18°C or 32.4°F from preindustrial, as pictured on the right and below.

What would it take to reach 1200 ppm CO₂e? The IPCC's AR4 contains a scenario of 1,200 ppm CO₂e getting reached with a corresponding temperature rise of between ~5°C and ~10°C above preindustrial. NOAA's figures for greenhouse gases add up to a current level of 500 ppm CO₂e. NOAA's figure for methane's GWP is too low, especially when considering a rise within a decade. When using this 500 ppm CO₂e, it would take 700 ppm to reach 1,200 ppm, and if 1 ppm equals 7.81 Gt of CO₂, then 700 ppm equals 5467 Gt of CO₂, which may seem a lot, but at a GWP for methane of 130 (10-year horizon) it could be reached instantly with a burst of methane of some 42 Gt, i.e. less than Natalia Shakhova's warning that 50 Gt of methane is ready for release at any time. In above image, further warming elements are included, in addition to methane and CO₂ and it takes until the year 2026.

As an earlier study points out, life on Earth will already have disappeared with a 5°C rise (see box on the right).

How precious life is

It took a long time for life to evolve on Earth. At first, hardly any species could live on land, as there was no ozone layer to protect them from UV radiation. Also, there was no oxygen in the air to breathe. Life formed some 3 billion years ago and bacteria first developed the ability to decompose carbon dioxide (and produce oxygen) some 2.3  billion years ago.

Then, worm-like creatures started to multiply strongly, using more and more oxygen and producing more and more carbon dioxide. Eventually, this resulted in a sharp fall in oxygen levels, leading to extinction of these species. This first mass extinction was followed by a spike in oxygen as both the species in the oceans and plants on land continued to produce oxygen, while these first animals went extinct.

Temperature changes dominate in subsequent mass extinctions, and each time it took life a long time to recover. We've now entered the Sixth Mass Extinction, as oxygen levels are falling, oceans are acidifying and species are going extinct at accelerating rates. A 2013 study calculated that species are facing warming that occurs 10,000 x faster than their natural ability to adapt.

A rise of 18°C or 32.4°F by 2026?

The speed at which temperatures and greenhouse gas levels are now jointly rising is so large and so unprecedented in Earth's history that many doubt that there will be any life left on Earth by 2026.

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

Can humanity change its course? 

Given that humanity appears to be on a course to omnicidal destruction, what position can we best take in response? In the light of the dire situation, dramatic reduction in pollution is needed, as well as further action. Indeed, the Paris Agreement constitutes a global commitment to comprehensive and effective action. The Climate Plan calls for multiple parallel lines of action (the green lines on the image below).

The green lines of action each need to be implemented in parallel, i.e. no line of action should wait for another, nor should action on one line be used as an excuse to delay action on another line. Where lines of action are grouped together in three parts, numbers merely show relationships with the kinds of warming pictured at the top of the image.
While implementation of some of these lines of action requires U.N. supervision, the Climate Plan prefers local implementation, with communities deciding what works best locally, provided a community does take sufficient action to achieve the necessary dramatic reductions in each type of pollution. Examples of implementation of some of these lines of action are depicted in the image below, showing examples of how progress can be achieved through local feebates.

Where progress is lacking, swift escalation is recommended as follows:

1. Where a local community fails to make progress, state (or provincial) fees are imposed in that locality.
2. Where a state fails to make progress, national fees are imposed in the state.
3. Where a nation fails to make progress, other nations impose fees on imports from and export to that nation with revenues used to fund clean development in the other nations.

Warm air and water moving toward the Arctic Ocean

The need for action such as marine cloud brightening is illustrated by the following two images. The image below shows that, despite the presence of large amounts of meltwater off the North American coast, sea surface temperatures on March 2, 2019, were as much as 13.8°C or 24.8°F warmer than during 1981-2011, indicating how much more ocean heat is now carried to the Arctic Ocean along the Gulf Stream.

How is it possible for anomalies to get this high? As the Arctic is warming up faster than the rest of the world, the Jet Stream is becoming more wavy. A more wavy Jet Stream enables more cold air to move out of the Arctic. As a result, cold Arctic air can descend deep into the North American continent. At the same time, a more wavy Jet Stream enables more warm air and water to move into the Arctic. This is illustrated by the February 24, 2019, combination image that shows temperature on the left and the Jet Stream on the right.

As oceans get warmer, the temperature difference between land and oceans also increases in Winter. This larger temperature difference results in stronger winds that can carry more warm, moist air north in the North Atlantic. These winds can also speed up the amount of heat carried by the Gulf Stream toward the Arctic Ocean, with the threat that a large influx of warm, salty water will destabilize sediments at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean and trigger eruption of huge amounts of methane.

In conclusion, the situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as described at the action, policies and feebates pages at the Climate Plan.


• Possible climate transitions from breakup of stratocumulus decks under greenhouse warming, by Tapio Schneider et al.

• High CO2 Levels Can Destabilize Marine Layer Clouds (News release associated with above study)

• Early Palaeozoic ocean anoxia and global warming driven by the evolution of shallow burrowing, by Sebastiaan van de Velde et al.

• Brock University-led team discovers way of tapping into and testing Earth’s prehistoric air

• Rates of projected climate change dramatically exceed past rates of climatic niche evolution among vertebrate species, by Ignacio Quintero et al.

• Extinction Alert

• Co-extinctions annihilate planetary life during extreme environmental change, by Giovanni Strona and Corey Bradshaw (2018)

• Climate Plan

• Extinction

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Global New Deal

What are your ideas for a Global New Deal? Discuss the points below!

• 100% clean, renewable energy ASAP
• support vegan-organic food
• support reforestation/afforestation
• support clean building material
• support solid state cooling
• ban single-use plastic
• turn biowaste into biochar
• enhance mineral weathering
• brighten marine clouds
• more (discuss it, see below!)