Saturday, February 15, 2014

Extreme weather strikes around the globe - update

As the weather gets more extreme, disaster strikes around the globe. The Guardian reports three people killed as storms continue to batter southern UK. The Vancouver Sun reports that a U.S. Northeast snowstorm kills 25. And the Sacramento Bee reports Six dead and 1,000 injured in fresh Japan snow storm.

What is the story behind these extreme weather events? The image below tells the story. The Arctic has been much warmer than it used to be, due to numerous feedbacks that accelerate warming in the Arctic. This reduces the temperature differential between the Arctic and lower latitudes, which changes the Jet Stream and Polar Vortex, in turn making the weather at many places ever more extreme.

 earlier forecasts by
Above image illustrates the situation, showing an Arctic Ocean that is warmer than the higher latitudes of the Asian and North American continents.

Arctic sea ice has meanwhile reached record lows, as illustrated by the image below.

The situation can be expected to get even worse. The image below shows sea ice extent, as measured by the NSIDC, which is one day ahead compared to above image.

Below, two regular contributors to the Arctic-news blog comment on the situation.

    Paul Beckwith:

Paul Beckwith with sign (arrows highlighted by Sam Carana, from earlier post)
In the video below, Paul Beckwith discusses the above sign and the situation in general.

Dr. Malcolm Light, Earth Scientist, comments:

The volume of water transported by Gulf Stream off the east coast of the United States has increased by three times since the 1940s due to a massive increase in wind drag. This increase in the south westerly wind drag is a result of the continuously increasing pressure difference set up between the continental air mass over North America, heated by fossil - fuel generated carbon dioxide, and the marine air of the Atlantic.

The increased energy entering the Gulf Stream as heat and its associated winds and storm systems are what are now pummeling Great Britain and Europe. This heat is also transported further north by branches of the Gulf Stream into the Arctic Ocean, where it is destabilizing the subsea methane hydrates, releasing increasing volumes of methane into the Arctic atmosphere and causing temperature anomalies this last winter of more than 20 degrees Celsius.

As a consequence of the extremely high Arctic temperatures and pressures, the normal freezing Arctic air has been displaced into Canada and the United States, causing catastrophic blizzards that have never been seen before. When the floating Arctic ice cap melts towards the end of next year, the Arctic Ocean will then become more aggressively heated by the sun and the northern offshoots of the Gulf Stream.

Under these circumstances, the cold Arctic air will be confined over the Greenland ice cap and the Arctic atmosphere will rotate anticlockwise around Greenland, transferring the fast-increasing amounts of its atmospheric methane to Canada and the United States and causing a further increase in the energy of the Gulf Stream.

Therefore the United Kingdom and Europe must brace themselves for even more catastrophic weather systems, widespread flooding and massive wind damage from the start of the last quarter of next year.

Below is a comparison of methane readings for the week from February 9 to 16, 2014, compared to the same period in 2013.

The comparison shows that there is a lot of methane over the Arctic Ocean that wasn't there last year. Furthermore, high methane readings show up where currents move the sea ice out of the Arctic Ocean, in areas such as Baffin Bay. This indicates that methane that is released from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean appears to be moving underneath the ice and entering the atmopshere where the sea ice is fractured or thin enough to allow the methane to pass through.

Also note that more orange areas show up on the southern hemisphere in 2014, indicating that more methane from the northern hemisphere is now spreading south beyond the equator. This in addition to indications that more methane is rising and building up at higher altitudes, as discussed in an earlier post.

As said before, the situation calls for comprehensive and effective action, as discussed at the Climate Plan blog.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Sam, Paul, Dr Light and News people everywhere who are trying to improve accuracy of reporting. Your clear assessment of what's happening to Earth is needed because unless we can say accurately where we are, regaining margin for error is flat impossible to achieve. To Save Earth.
    I wrote a comparison of what's happening to Earth to a portion of a hang glider flight that I remember:
    "There is 'perfect storm' upon us and foundation built on 'sinking sand for civ;
    'Civilization'' as we know it is built upon dollar.
    Earth's open systems of Nature are isolate, off the dollar accounting book and in effect held in isolation, -no externalized.
    This has had effect like pushing the control bar out as hard as possible and holding it while in a turn in a hang glider, effectively creating a slip turn inward with increasing nose down attitude of glider toward ground until high speed stall sweeps the wing and causes death spiral or spiral dive fall through with no bar pressure.. We needed coordinated turn but we failed. We play, played with fire and we die if we can't regain control an pull out of death spiral but not all people realize what to do..
    To fix that we meet war and change the goal - peace and God as in Act of God writ of law v 2nd Law of thermodynamics. Where when system Large is held in isolation long enough and break over to closed system occurs entropy always rises. But physics is a foe to sideswipe out -not ignore or say does not in fact exist. My imagination is like a way of saying what needs to be said somehow. Prey, there is time for the game (2C) win.. To regain control because it matters.. Pray..
    It will take going in direction of stall to regain control an then turning without pulling wing off"
    Real traction is needed to make real framework change capable of directing full force of Civ to Earth.
    The comment in parenthesis was to thread on G+ following a post of News from Bernie Sanders on the 16th of February 2014.