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

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Hurricane Moderation

Hurricane Moderation

By Stephen Salter

The formation of a hurricane depends on many factors, including atmospheric water vapour, distance from the equator and the recent history of wind patterns. But an essential requirement is a high sea surface temperature. To get from a tropical storm to the lowest category of hurricane requires a temperature of 26.5°C. We can moderate hurricanes, or even prevent them, by reducing water temperature.

A useful start to any engineering project is the estimation of all the energy flows. One cubic metre of air at a temperature of 30°C can hold about 30 grams of water vapour. The energy to evaporate this is about the same as in 13 grams of TNT, enough for a nasty anti-personnel mine. A cubic kilometre of such air contains the same energy as the Hiroshima bomb. Hurricanes can be hundreds of kilometres in diameter and so contain tens of thousands of Hiroshimas. If you have read this far you will know about the billions of lost dollars and thousands of deaths from this amount of energy.

Most of the hurricanes that reach America (with the exception of Harvey), start on the African side of the Atlantic near Cape Verde and grow as they move west. We can use Google Earth to measure the hurricane breeding area. The US National Weather Service gives a warm water depth of 45 metres. To cool this volume by 2°C in 200 days needs more than 600 times the mean US electricity power generation. If you want to moderate a hurricane tomorrow, today is much too late. You should have started last November.

All this heat has come from the sun. Some could be reflected back out to space by clouds. The reflectivity of clouds was studied by Sean Twomey. He flew over many clouds, scooped samples and measured the solar energy reflected from their tops. He showed that reflectivity depends on the size distribution of drops. Lots of small drops reflect more than the same amount of liquid water in fewer, larger ones. In typical conditions, doubling the cloud drop number increases reflectivity by a bit over 0.05.

Making cloud drops needs a high humidity but also some kind of ‘seed’ called a condensation nucleus on which to start growth. There are thousands of condensation nuclei per cubic centimetre of air over land but fewer in air over mid ocean, often less than 50. John Latham suggested that the salt residues left from the evaporation of a spray of sub-micron drops of sea water would be excellent condensation nuclei. They would be moved from the sea surface by turbulence to produce a fairly even distribution upwards through the marine boundary layer to where clouds form.

The condensation nuclei could be produced by wind-driven sailing vessels cruising along the hurricane breeding areas getting energy from their motion through the water. We can make spray by pumping water through very small nozzles etched in the silicon wafers used for making microchips. The main technical problem is that sea water is full of plankton much larger than nozzles. This can be filtered using ultra-filtration technology with back-flushing, originally developed for removing polio viruses from drinking water. Each vessel would produce 0.8 micron diameter drops at 1017 a second.

[ part-image from larger Wikipedia map ]
Spray operations would depend on the pattern of sea surface temperatures as measured by satellites. We want the trajectory of temperature rises through the year from November to the following July to be those that an international panel of meteorologists think will give a desirable rainfall pattern from ‘gentle’ tropical storms.

Most ships are made in quite small numbers. An exception was the Flower class corvettes built for the Royal Navy during World War II. If we index-link the 1940 cost to today we can predict that in mass production each spray vessel would cost $4 million. With assumptions which have not yet been rejected by hurricane experts, we think that controlling the Atlantic hurricane breeding paths would need about 100 vessels. With typical ship lifetime the annual ownership and maintenance cost would be about $40 million. If these figures and recent estimates of the cost of hurricane damage are correct the benefit-to-cost ratio is quite attractive.

Because of official UK Government policy updated in May 2018 the project is privately funded.

Rising temperatures are increasing the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere at a rate of 7% more water vapor for every 1°C warming. This is further speeding up warming, since water vapor is a potent greenhouse gas. Over the coming years, a huge amount of additional water vapor threatens to enter the atmosphere, due to the warming caused by albedo changes in the Arctic, methane releases from the seafloor, etc., as described at this page.

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

Added below is a box from an earlier post with hurricane damage mitigation proposals.

Hurricane Damage Mitigation

A 2014 study by scientists led by Mark Jacobson calculates that large turbine arrays (300+ GW installed capacity) could diminish peak near-surface hurricane wind speeds by 25–41 m/s−1 (56–92 mph) and storm surge by 6–79% AND provide year-round clean and renewable electricity.

How many electric cars will be ready to move into Miami to provide emergency support in the wake of Hurricane Irma?

Storms can cause power outages, electricity poles can get damaged. Electricity poles can also be a traffic hazard (i.e. collisions can occur even if the pole hasn't fallen down, especially when streetlights fail). When damaged, power lines hanging off poles constitute electrical shock hazards and they can cause fires to ignite and wildfires to start.

Storms can also cause damage to backup generators and to fuel storage tanks, making it hard for emergency services to give the necessary support. Electric cars can supply electricity where needed, e.g. to power necessary air conditioning, autoclave and emergency equipment, such as in hospitals. After a tsunami hit Japan in 2011, electric cars moved in to provide electricity from their batteries, as described in many articles such as this one.

Wind turbines and solar panels are pretty robust. Hurricane Harvey hit the Papalote Creek Wind Farm near Corpus Christi, Texas. The wind farm had little or no damage, there was just a short delay in restarting, mostly due to damage to power lines. The Tesla roof that doubles as solar panels is much stronger than standard roofs. Have a look at this video.

Join the Renewables group at facebook!
Clean and renewable energy can provide more stable, robust and safe electricity in many ways. Centralized power plants are vulnerable, in that all eggs are in one basket, while there can be long supply and delivery lines. Many of the benefits of clean and renewable energy are mentioned on above image.

Furthermore, there are ways to lower sea surface temperatures. The image on the right shows the very high sea surface temperature anomalies on August 28, 2017.

Note the colder area (blue) in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Harvey cooled the sea surface as water evaporated and warm moisture was added to the atmosphere. The cyclonic force also mixed colder water below the surface with warmer water at the surface, resulting in colder water at the surface. The combination image below shows the difference between August 20, 2017, and August 30, 2017.

[ click on images to enlarge ]

A number of geoengineering methods can be used to reduce sea surface temperatures and thus reduce the intensity of hurricanes. Methods include upwelling associated with ocean fertilization and with ocean tunnels, marine cloud brightening and increasing and brightening bubbles in the wake of vessels, as discussed at the geoengineering group at facebook.

Besides cooling the sea surface, there's also the upwelling of nutrients that can help combat ocean stratification. Warm water holds less oxygen than cold water. As the water warms, it also tends to form a layer at the surface that does not mix well with cooler, nutrient-rich water below, depriving phytoplankton of some of the nutrients needed in order for phytoplankton to grow (and take up carbon).

Some of these methods are also discussed at this 2011 page, which also mentions that more research is needed into the impact of such methods. Of course, possible application should go hand in hand with dramatic reductions in emissions including a rapid shift to 100% clean and renewable energy.
Similarly, the necessary shift to clean and renewable energy in itself will not be enough to avoid catastrophic warming, and it should go hand in hand with further lines of action to remove pollution and to cool the Arctic Ocean, as described at the Climate Plan.


• Climate Plan

• How much warming did and could people cause?

• AccuWeather predicts economic cost of Harvey, Irma to be $290 billion

• After Disaster Hit Japan, Electric Cars Stepped Up

• In Big Test of Wind Farm Durability, Texas Facility Quickly Restarts After Harvey

• Tesla Unveils Powerwall 2 & Solar Roof

• Taming hurricanes with arrays of offshore wind turbines, by Mark Z. Jacobson et al. (2014)

• The Solutions Project

• Weakening of hurricanes via marine cloud brightening (MCB), by John Latham, Ben Parkes, Alan Gadian, Stephen Salter (2012)

• Engineering Ideas for Brighter Clouds, by Stephen H. Salter, Thomas Stevenson and Andreas Tsiamis  (2014)

• Multiple Benefits Of Ocean Tunnels

• Oxygenating the Arctic

• Reducing hurricane intensity using arrays of Atmocean Inc.'s wave-driven upwelling pumps

• Could bright, foamy wakes from ocean ships combat global warming?

Monday, September 10, 2018

Blue Ocean Event

Blue Ocean Event as part of four Arctic tipping points

What will be the consequences of a Blue Ocean Event, i.e. the disappearance of virtually all sea ice from the Arctic Ocean, as a result of the warming caused by people?

Paul Beckwith discusses some of the consequences in the video below. As long as the Arctic Ocean has sea ice, most sunlight gets reflected back into space and the 'Center-of-Coldness' remains near the North Pole, says Paul. With the decline of the sea ice, however, the 'Center-of-Coldness' will shift to the middle of Greenland. Accordingly, we can expect the jet streams to shift their center of rotation 17° southward, i.e. away from the North Pole towards Greenland, with profound consequences for our global weather patterns and climate system, for plants and animals, and for human civilization, e.g. our ability to grow food.

Also see Paul's video below, The Arctic Blue-Ocean-Event (BOE). When? Then What?

Changing Winds

As global warming continues, the additional energy in the atmosphere causes stronger winds and higher waves.

As the Arctic warms up faster than the rest of the world, the jet streams are getting more out of shape, exacerbating extreme weather events.

The image on the right shows the jet stream crisscrossing the Arctic Ocean on September 10, 2018, with cyclonic wind patterns all over the place.

On the image below, Typhoon Mangkhut is forecast to cause waves as high as 21.39 m or 70.2 ft on September 14, 2018.

The inset on above image shows Typhoon Mangkhut forecast to cause winds to reach speeds as high as 329 km/h or 205 mph at 700 hPa (green circle), while Hurricane Florence is forecast to hit the coast of North Carolina, and is followed by Hurricane Isaac and Hurricane Helene in the Atlantic Ocean.

At 850 hPa, Typhoon Mangkhut reaches Instant Wind Power Density as high as 196.9 kW/m² on September 13, 2018, as illustrated by above image.

The situation is likely to get worse over the next few months, as this is only the start of the hurricane season and El Niño is strengthening, as illustrated by the image on the right.

The image below shows how the occurrence and strength of El Niño has increased over the decades.

Four Arctic Tipping Points

There are numerous feedbacks that speed up warming in the Arctic. In some cases, there are critical points beyond which huge changes will take place rather abruptly. In such cases, it makes sense to talk about tipping points.

1. The albedo tipping point

As Arctic sea ice gets thinner and thinner, a Blue Ocean Event looks more imminent every year. A Blue Ocean Event means that huge amounts of sunlight won't get reflected back into space anymore, as they previously were. Instead, the heat will have to be absorbed by the Arctic. 

At the other hemisphere, the sea ice around Antarctica is at its lowest extent for the time of the year, as illustrated by above image. Global sea ice extent is also at its lowest for the time of the year, as illustrated by the image below.

A Blue Ocean Event will not only mean that additional heat will have to be absorbed in the Arctic, but also that wind patterns will change radically and even more dramatically than they are already changing now, which will also make that other tipping points will be reached earlier. This is why a Blue Ocean Event is an important tipping point and it will likely be reached abruptly and disruptively.

2. The latent heat tipping point

Disappearance of the sea ice north of Greenland is important in this regard. The image on the right shows that most sea ice at the end of August 2018 was less than 1 meter thick.

The image below shows how the sea ice has been thinning recently north of Greenland and Ellesmere Island, an area once covered with the thickest multi-year sea ice. Disappearance of sea ice from this area indicates that we're close to or beyond the latent heat tipping point, i.e. the point where further ocean heat can no longer be consumed by the process of melting the sea ice.

[ The once-thickest sea ice has gone - click on images to enlarge ]
The amount of energy absorbed by melting ice is as much as it takes to heat an equivalent mass of water from zero to 80°C. Without sea ice, additional ocean heat will have to go somewhere else.

Above image shows how much sea surface temperatures in the Arctic have warmed, compared to 1961-1990. The image also shows the extent of the sea ice (white). In the image below, a large area has changed from sea ice to water twelve days later, showing how thin and fragile the sea ice is and how easily it can disappear as the water continues to warm.

As the Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the world, changes have been taking place to the jet streams on the Northern Hemisphere that make it easier for warm air and water to move into the Arctic. This means that warm water is increasingly entering the Arctic Ocean that can no longer be consumed by melting the sea ice from below.

Arctic sea ice extent has remained relatively large this year, since air temperatures over the Arctic Ocean have been relatively low in June and July 2018. At the same time, ocean heat keeps increasing, so a lot of heat is now accumulating underneath the surface of the Arctic Ocean.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
3. Seafloor Methane Tipping Point

As said above, Arctic sea ice has been getting thinner dramatically over the years, and we are now near or beyond the latent heat tipping point.

[ The Buffer has gone, feedback #14 on the Feedbacks page ]
This year, air temperatures over the Arctic Ocean were relatively low in June and July 2018, and this has kept Arctic sea ice extent larger than it would otherwise have been. As a result, a lot of heat has been accumulating underneath the surface of the Arctic Ocean and this heat cannot escape to the atmosphere and it can no longer be consumed by melting. Where will the heat go?

As the temperature of the Arctic Ocean keeps rising, more heat threatens to reach sediments at its seafloor that have until now remained frozen. Contained in these sediments are huge amounts of methane in the form of hydrates and free gas.

Melting of the ice in these sediments then threatens to unleash huge eruptions of seafloor methane that has been kept locked up in the permafrost for perhaps millions of years. Seafloor methane constitutes a third tipping point.

The image on the right features a trend based on WMO data. The trend shows that mean global methane levels could cross 1900 ppb in 2019.

Ominously, methane recently reached unprecedented levels. Peak levels as high as 3369 ppb on August 31, 2018, as shown by the image below on the right.

The next image on the right below shows that mean global levels were as high as 1905 ppb on September 3, 2018.

The third image below on the right may give a clue regarding the origin of these unprecedented levels.

More methane will further accelerate warming, especially in the Arctic, making that each of the tipping points will be reached earlier.

Less sea ice will on the one hand make that more heat can escape from the Arctic Ocean to the atmosphere, but on the other hand the albedo loss and the additional water vapor will at the same time cause the Arctic Ocean to absorb more heat, with the likely net effect being greater warming of the Arctic Ocean.

Additionally, more heat is radiated from sea ice into space than from open water (feedback #23).

How much warming could result from the decline of snow and ice cover in the Arctic?

As discussed, there will be albedo changes, there will be changes to the jet streams, and there will be further feedbacks, adding up to 1.6°C of additional global warming that could eventuate due to snow and ice decline and associated changes in the Arctic.

A further 1.1°C of warming or more could result from releases of seafloor methane over the next few years.

4. Terrestrial Permafrost Tipping Point

Additional warming of the Arctic will also result in further warming due to numerous feedbacks such as more water vapor getting into the atmosphere. Furthermore, more intense heatwaves can occur easier in the Arctic due to changes to jet streams. All this will further accelerate melting of the ice in lakes and in soils on land that was previously known as permafrost. This constitutes a fourth tipping point that threatens to add huge amounts of additional greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Until now, the permafrost was held together by ice. As the ice melts, organic material in the soil and at the bottom of lakes starts to decompose. The land also becomes increasingly vulnerable to landslides, sinkholes and wildfires. All his can result in releases of CO₂, CH₄, N₂O, soot, etc., which in turn causes further warming, specifically over the Arctic.

In total, a temperature rise of 10°C threatens to occur in as little as a few years time.

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


• Jet Stream Center-of-Rotation to Shift 17 degrees Southward from North Pole to Greenland with Arctic Blue Ocean Event

• It could be unbearably hot in many places within a few years time

• Feedbacks

• Latent Heat

• Albedo and more

• Warning of mass extinction of species, including humans, within one decade

• How much warming have humans caused?

• The Threat

• Extinction

• Climate Plan