Monday, March 27, 2017

Earth losing her sea ice

Earth is losing her sea ice. Arctic sea ice was at record low extent for the time of the year on March 24, 2017, as illustrated by the image below.


As the image below shows, on March 24, 2017, Arctic sea ice featured many cracks (top of Greenland is bottom left and Svalbard is on the right).


The poor state of Arctic sea ice is also reflected by the sea ice volume, as depicted by the image below, by Wipneus, showing PIOMAS anomalies up to March 2017.

On March 24, 2017, Antarctic sea ice extent was also much lower than it used to be at this time of year, as illustrated by the image below.


Altogether, global sea ice extent has now been at a record low for many months, as illustrated by the graph by Wipneus below. This means that a huge amount of additional sunlight has been absorbed over these months, instead of getting reflected back into space as before.


As Earth loses her sea ice, tipping point look set to be crossed that could result in rapid acceleration of Earth's temperature, as discussed at the extinction page, which warns that surface temperatures of the atmosphere could rise by some 10°C or 18°F within a decade, i.e. by 2026.

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


Links

• Climate Plan
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/climateplan.html

• Extinction
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/extinction.html

• How much warming have humans caused?
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2016/05/how-much-warming-have-humans-caused.html

• Warning of mass extinction of species, including humans, within one decade
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2017/02/warning-of-mass-extinction-of-species-including-humans-within-one-decade.html


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Which Trend Is Best?

NASA just released temperature data for February 2017. Should we be worried? Yes, there are many reasons to be very worried.

Let's go back in time. This is from a post written ten years ago:
We may suddenly face a future in which many if not most people will have little or no access to food, water, medicines, electricity and shelter, while diseases go rampant and gangs and warlords loot and devastate the few livable areas left. Human beings as a species will face the risk of total extinction, particularly if many species of animals and plants that humans depend on will disappear. The post continues: Many people are still in denial about the severity of the problem of global warming, the accumulation of dangers and their progression. 

Indeed, even today many people will still deny that such events could strike suddenly, e.g. within a few years time. Many people use linear trends to predict the future many years from now. As an example, the straight blue line on the graph below is a linear trend based on NASA 1880-current meteorological stations data. The problem is that linear trends, especially when based on data that go back many years, can make people overlook important recent changes such as the temperature rise that has taken place over the past few years, the decline of glaciers and sea ice and the recent increases in concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
An alternative approach is to use recent data, e.g., from the year 2012, and then calculate a polynomial trend that extends a few years into the future. Taking such an approach can result in a polynomial trend (red curved line) that is contained in the NASA Land+Ocean data from January 2012 to February 2017. This trend shows the potential for a 10°C (18°F) rise four years from now, and this should act as a powerful warning.

The appropriateness of linear versus non-linear trends was also discussed earlier at the Controversy page.

In addition to looking at trends that are contained in such data, it makes sense to analyse the different elements contributing to such a rise. Such elements are discussed in more detail at the extinction page, which confirms the potential for a 10°C temperature rise within years, i.e. by the year 2026.

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


Links


• Climate Plan
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/climateplan.html

• Ten Dangers of Global Warming
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/ten-dangers-of-global-warming.html

• Extinction
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/extinction.html

• Controversy
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/controversy.html

• Warning of mass extinction of species, including humans, within one decade
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2017/02/warning-of-mass-extinction-of-species-including-humans-within-one-decade.html


Monday, March 13, 2017

Methane Erupting From Arctic Ocean Seafloor

Seafloor methane often missed in measurements

Large amounts of methane are erupting from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. These methane eruptions are often missed by measuring stations, because these stations are located on land, while measurements are typically taken at low altitude, thus missing the methane that rises in plumes from the Arctic Ocean. By the time the methane reaches the coast, it has typically risen to higher altitudes, thus not showing up in low-altitude measurements taken at stations on land.

The image below shows the highest mean global methane levels on March 10 over the years from 2013 through 2017, for selected altitudes corresponding to 945 mb (close to sea level) to 74 mb.


The table below shows the altitude equivalents in feet (ft), meter (m) and millibar (mb).
57,016 ft44,690 ft36,850 ft30,570 ft25,544 ft19,820 ft14,385 ft 8,368 ft1,916 ft
17,378 m13,621 m11,232 m 9,318 m 7,786 m 6,041 m 4,384 m 2,551 m 584 m
 74 mb 147 mb 218 mb 293 mb 367 mb 469 mb 586 mb 742 mb 945 mb

The signature of seafloor methane

Above image shows that, over the years, methane levels have risen strongly high in the Troposphere, up into the Stratosphere. This looks like the signature of methane that originated from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. The image below further explains why.


The Tropopause separates the Troposphere from the Stratosphere. The Tropophere ends at a height of some 9 km (5.6 mi; 30,000 ft) at the poles, and at a height of some 17 km (11 mi; 56,000 ft) at the Equator.

As said, methane is erupting from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean concentrated in plumes, unlike methane from wetlands and agriculture that is typically emitted over a wide area. Since seafloor methane is rising in plumes, it hardly shows up on satellite images at lower altitude either, as the methane is very concentrated inside the area of the plume, while little or no increase in methane levels is taking place outside the plume. Since the plume will cover less than half the area of one pixel, such a plume doesn't show up well at low altitudes on satellite images,

Methane over the Arctic typically does show up on satellite images at altitudes between 4.4 km and 6 km (14,400 ft and 19,800 ft). Seafloor methane will show up better at these higher altitudes where it spreads out over larger areas. At even higher altitudes, methane will then follow the Tropopause, i.e. the methane will rise in altitude while moving closer to the equator.

NOAA image

In conclusion, methane originating from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean can strongly contribute to high methane levels that show up over the Equator at higher altitudes, but this methane can be misinterpreted for methane originating from tropical wetlands.

Methane levels as high as 2846 ppb
[ click on images to enlarge ]

On March 14, 2017, methane levels were as high as 2846 ppb, as illustrated by the image on the right. While the origin of these high levels looks hard to determine from this image, the high levels showing up over the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) later that day (image underneath) give an ominous warning that destabilization of methane hydrates is taking place.

The images also show that high methane levels are showing up at many other places, e.g. over Antarctica where hydrate destabilization also appears to be taking place, which could also be the cause of noctilucent clouds as discussed in earlier posts (see links at end of this post).

Why is methane erupting from the Arctic Ocean?

Why are increasingly large quantities of methane erupting from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean? The main driver is warming of the Arctic Ocean that is destabilizing once-permanently-frozen sediments that contain huge amounts of methane in the form of hydrates and free gas.

Ocean heat is increasingly entering the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic Ocean, as illustrated by the images below. Self-reinforcing feedbacks, in particular sea ice decline, further speed up warming of the Arctic Ocean.

[ from earlier post ]

[ from earlier post ]
Self-reinforcing feedback loops

[ click on images to enlarge ]
Meanwhile, the next El Niño event has already started, at a time when sea surface temperature anomalies over the Pacific Ocean are very high as illustrated by the image on the right showing sea surface temperature anomalies east of South America as high as 5.3°C or 9.5°F (compared to 1981-2011) on February 28, 2017.

Greater contrast between sea surface temperatures and temperatures on land has contributed to flooding in California and South America.

Importantly, more water vapor in the atmosphere results in more warming, since water vapor is a potent greenhouse gas.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
Above images shows ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts) plumes with strong positive anomalies in all three El Niño regions (on the right).

In other words, temperatures in 2017 look set to be very high, which spells bad news for the Arctic where temperature anomalies are already several times higher than in the rest of the world.

Arctic sea ice looks set to take a steep fall, as illustrated by the image below.


The danger is that further self-reinforcing feedback loops such as albedo decline and methane releases will accelerate warming and, in combination with further warming elements, cause a temperature rise as high as 10°C or 18°F by the year 2026, as described at the extinction page.

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


Links

• Climate Plan
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/climateplan.html

• Extinction
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/extinction.html

• Warning of mass extinction of species, including humans, within one decade
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2017/02/warning-of-mass-extinction-of-species-including-humans-within-one-decade.html

• Low sea ice extent contributes to high methane levels at both poles
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2017/03/low-sea-ice-extent-contributes-to-high-methane-levels-at-both-poles.html

• Noctilucent clouds indicate more methane in upper atmosphere
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2012/09/noctilucent-clouds-indicate-more-methane-in-upper-atmosphere.html

• Noctilucent clouds: further confirmation of large methane releases
http://methane-hydrates.blogspot.com/2013/12/noctilucent-clouds-further-confirmation-of-large-methane-releases.html



Saturday, March 4, 2017

Low sea ice extent contributes to high methane levels at both poles

[ click on images to enlarge ]
On March 2, 2017, Antarctic sea ice extent was at a record low since satellite readings started.

As the image on the right shows, sea ice extent in 2017 (light blue) around Antarctica has been more than 1 million km² lower than the 1981-2010 median.

At the same time, Arctic sea ice extent was at a record low for the time of the year since 1979.

As the image underneath on the right shows, Arctic sea ice extent in 2017 has also been more than than 1 million km² lower than the 1981-2010 median.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
For about half a year now, global sea ice extent has been more than 2 million km² lower than it used to be, not too long ago, as illustrated by the image below, by Wipneus.

This means that a lot of sunlight that was previously reflected back into space, has been absorbed instead by Earth, contributing to global warming, especially at the poles.

Greater warming at the poles has also caused more extreme weather, resulting in stronger winds and waves and in wild weather swings, further accelerating the decline of the sea ice.

The combination of rising ocean heat and stronger winds looks set to devastate the sea ice around Antarctica. Ocean heat is increasing particularly in the top layer (see image on the right).

Warming water is increasingly reaching the coast of Antarctica. The image below illustrates how much sea ice melt has occurred close to the coast of Antarctic over the past few months, while much sea ice has drifted away from the coast due to strong currents and wind.


As said, less sea ice means that a lot of sunlight is no longer reflected back into space, but is instead further warming up the poles. As a result, methane levels can be very high at both poles. The combination image below shows methane levels as high as 2560 ppb on March 1, 2017. The image in the panel on the left shows high methane levels over Antarctica in an area with much grey, indicating that it was hard to get a good reading there. On the image in the panel on the right, high methane levels do show up clearly in that area.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
As discussed before, methane hydrates can be present both on Greenland and on Antarctica underneath thick layers of snow and ice. Due to global warming, wild weather swings are now common at the poles, as illustrated by the image below. This can cause sequences of rapid and extreme expansion, compacting and fracturing of snow and ice, resulting in destabilization of methane hydrates contained in the permafrost.


The image below shows methane levels as high as 2562 ppb, with solid magenta-colored areas showing up over the Laptev Sea on March 4, 2017.

The image below shows that sea surface temperatures in the Arctic Ocean were as high as 12.7°C or 54.9°F on March 3, 2017 (at the location marked by the green circle), i.e. 12°C or 21.6°F warmer than in 1981-2011.


Below is the same image, but in a different projection and showing sea surface temperatures, rather than anomalies. In 1981-2011, the temperature of the water at a spot near Svalbard (green circle) was 0.7°C (33.3°F.). On March 3, 2017, it was 12°C (21.6°F) warmer on that spot.


The danger is that self-reinforcing feedback loops such as albedo decline and methane releases will further accelerate warming and will, in combination with further warming elements, cause a temperature rise as high as 10°C or 18°F by the year 2026, as described at the extinction page.

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


Links

• Climate Plan
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/climateplan.html

• Extinction
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/extinction.html

• Methane hydrates
http://methane-hydrates.blogspot.com/2013/04/methane-hydrates.html

• Earthquakes in the Arctic Ocean
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2014/04/earthquakes-in-the-arctic-ocean.html