Droughts and heatwaves are putting vegetation under devastating pressure while also causing wildfires resulting in deforestation and loss of peat at massive scale, contributing to the rapid recent rise in carbon dioxide levels.
It will take a decade before these high recent carbon dioxide emissions will reach their full warming impact. Furthermore, as the world makes progress with the necessary cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, this will also remove aerosols that have until now masked the full wrath of global warming. By implication, without geoengineering occurring over the coming decade, temperatures will keep rising, resulting in further increases in abundance and intensity of droughts and wildfires.
Temperatures in the Arctic are rising faster than elsewhere. The image below shows that Arctic waters are now much warmer than in 2015. On June 22, 2016, sea surface near Svalbard was as warm as 13.8°C or 56.9°F (green circle), i.e. 11.6°C or 20.9°F warmer than 1981-2011.
Wildfires can release huge amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), methane and soot. The image below shows that on June 23, 2016, wildfires north of Lake Baikal caused emissions as high as 22,953 ppb CO and 549 ppm CO2 at the location marked by the green circle.
|[ click on image to enlarge ]|
As increasing amounts of soot from wildfires settle on its ice and snow cover, albedo decline in the Arctic will accelerate. In addition, heatwaves are causing rapid warming of rivers ending in the Arctic Ocean, further speeding up its warming and increasing the danger of methane releases from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean.
As more energy stays in the biosphere, storms can be expected to strike with greater intensity. Rising temperatures will result in more water vapor in the atmosphere (7% more water vapor for every 1°C warming), further amplifying warming and resulting in more intense precipitation events, i.e. rainfall, flooding and lightning.
|Record-breaking daily rainfall events around the world. From Lehmann et al.|
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In conclusion, feedbacks are threatening to cause runaway warming, potentially making temperatures rise by more than 10°C or 18°F within a decade. Already now, melting ice sheets are changing the way the Earth wobbles on its axis, Nasa says. As Paul Beckwith discusses in the video below, changes are also taking place to the jet streams.
The danger is that changes to the planet's wobble will trigger massive earthquakes that will destabilize methane hydrates and result in huge amounts of methane abruptly entering the atmosphere, as illustrated by the image below.
- Feedbacks in the Arctic
- Wildfire Danger Increasing
- Arctic Climate Records Melting
- Ten Degrees Warmer In A Decade?
- Arctic Sea Ice gone by September 2016?
- February Temperature
- International Energy Agency (IEA)
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- Projected increase in lightning strikes in the United States due to global warming, by Romps et al. (2014)
- Impacts of anthropogenic and natural NOx sources over the U.S. on tropospheric chemistry, by Zhang et al. (2003)
- Wildfires Rage in Siberia, NASA June 30, 2016, images acquired June 29, 2016
- Melting ice sheets changing the way the Earth wobbles on its axis, says Nasa
- Record-breaking heavy rainfall events increased under global warming, by Lehmann et al. (2015)
- 'Thousand-year' downpour led to deadly West Virginia floods (July 8, 2016)