Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Arctic anomalies linked to extreme weather

Surface temperature anomalies of 20 degrees Celsius are not uncommon in the Arctic these days. The image below shows surface temperature anomalies on November 9 and 10, 2012.

Paul Beckwith, regular contributor to this blog, comments as follows on the conditions in the Arctic:
“The Arctic meteorology is unprecedented at the moment. Huge ridges of high pressure are crossing the Arctic ocean cutting off the Siberian cold region from the North American region. Very little cold air is present in the entire system, and it is exhibiting very bizzare fragmentation. Nothing like a “normal” polar vortex is apparent.

The ridge could just be due to this greatly reduced volume of cold air, but I suspect there is much more to the situation then that. It seems that there must be some source of heat to create this ridge. Could be warm air rising up from open water regions in the Arctic, however most of the warm water is now isolated from the atmosphere by the sea ice.

It seems more likely to me that the high levels of methane with GWP > 150 or higher are causing higher long-wave absorption and heating in these regions, but I have not seen methane concentration distributions over the Arctic from AIRS satellites lately.”
So, let's have a look at the methane levels for those days. The image below shows the methane levels for the above two days.

Paul continues:
“This is what abrupt climate change looks like. In the paleorecords global average temperatures increased over 6 degrees C within a decade or two, I suppose we will know more precise numbers in a few short years.”

Paul repeats the prediction he made back in June in this the post When the sea ice is gone
Paul Beckwith, B.Eng, M.Sc. (Physics),
Ph. D. student (Climatology) and
Part-time Professor, University of Ottawa
My projections for our planet conditions when the sea-ice has all vanished year round (PIOMAS graph projects about 2024 for this; I forecast 2020 for this) are:
  • Average global temperature: 22°C (+/- 1°C)
    (rise of 6-8°C above present day value of about 15°C)
  • Average equatorial temperature: 32°C
    (rise of 2 °C above present day value of 30°C)
  • Average Arctic pole temperature: 10°C
    (rise of 30°C above present day value of -20°C)
  • Average Antarctica pole temperature: -46°C
    (rise of 4°C above present day value of -50°C)
  • Water vapor in atmosphere: higher by 50%
    (rise of 4% over last 30 years, i.e. about 1.33% rise per decade)
  • Average temperature gradient from equator to North pole: 22°C
    (decrease of 28°C versus present day value of 50°C)
  • Very weak jet streams (driven by N-S humidity gradient and weak temperature gradient as opposed to existing large temperature gradient)

- Result: very fragmented, disjointed weather systems
- Basic weather: tropical rainforest like in some regions; arid deserts in others with few regions in between.

Note: This scenario would require significant emissions of methane from the Arctic. Without this methane, the scenario would still occur but would take longer. Disclaimer: Best guess and subject to rolling revisions!

Meanwhile, extreme weather continues to strike areas outside the Arctic. In the U.K, airports were closed due to snow, following a period of heavy rainfall in November.

In Russia, extreme weather caused a huge traffic jam; see the BBC reports here and here, prompting Veli Albert Kallio, also one of this blog's contributors, to make the following comments:
Veli Albert Kallio in front of Peter Wadhams and John Nissen at
APPCCG event, March 13, 2012, House of Commons, London
“The Ewing-Dunn Precipitation (the lake-effect snow) from warmed-up Arctic Ocean has taken the Russian Government's winter preparations by suprise of its severity, with the Russian Government minister banging his fist as standing queues of vehicles reoccurs and is now 190 kilometres (120 miles) long between the capital Moscow and St. Petersburg.

I have been warning from the leaked files since July at this and other groups that December 2012 was going to be like this. We need to tell the Russian Interior Minister who bangs his fist on TV that he should not blame his road officials, but the global warming and loss of sea ice from the Barents and Kara Seas and generally warmed up North Atlantic - Arctic Ocean regions.”


  1. AIRS is not sensitive enough to the boundary layer. IASI has a better spectral resolution and more sensitive. Really this Barents sea anomaly could be seen on the IASI maps in contrast to 2011. Everything, including our AGU report are at:

    Leonid Yurganov

    1. Good point, Leonid, your work with IASI data is most impressive. Thanks for commenting, I hope you will be heard at the AGU.

  2. 6 - 8°C isn't survivable. According to this report,

    Neither is 5C°C --

    "The consequences of the projected increase of five degrees would be fatal."

    There is a growing concern that we're not being told everything we should know.

    Of course, there are a few who are sharing what this may mean:

    Of course, planning for 4°C [7°F] in 2100 — let alone 6°C [11°F] — is tantamount to planning for the end of civilization as we know it (see this review of more than 60 recent studies — “An Illustrated Guide to the Science of Global Warming Impacts: How We Know Inaction Is the Gravest Threat Humanity Faces“).

    Such a world would likely mean:

    Permanent Dust Bowl conditions over the U.S. Southwest, parts of the Great Plains and many other regions around the globe that are heavily populated and/or heavily farmed.
    Sea level rise of some 1 foot by 2050, then 4 to 6 feet (or more) by 2100, rising some 6 to 12 inches (or more) each decade thereafter
    Massive species loss on land and sea — perhaps 50% or more of all biodiversity.
    Much more extreme weather

    These will all be happening simultaneously and getting worse decade after decade. A 2009 NOAA-led study found the worst impacts would be “largely irreversible for 1000 years.”

  3. It's going to be hard to keep hope alive and peace given the changes coming..
    But I believe best chance for survival of specie and of life system environs stands with adoption of fundamental changes to whole Earth monetary system to align human goals with that of Earth as living planet that sustains us. Going into this storm without constructing this transition means chaos and loss of integrity of life.
    Paul has pointed out for every 1C temp rise 7% water vapor increase is result..
    High temp events above ambient body temp and 100% humidity is unlivable without shelter. Plants also need to be able to perspire to stay cool..
    The situation on Earth is at critical and change of guard is in order..
    Full effort to retool and stop the perfect, near perfect storm breaking upon us will result in hope for future and vast at least property prosperity rise.
    But Property and ownership rights, sovereignty itself needs to be sidelined to the need to protect the Earth and the life giving shy systems she bears..
    I've spoken in NZ and given my scoop on what's happening in the world today.
    Finally got through to post comment concerning how peoples of Papua have lived with the land for tens of thousands of years yet have been given short shrift.. Under present situation - it is imperative that we learn from them..
    It is their right, absolute right to be heard and to have the land restored..
    How much time is there left to do something is explained: but if the world combines wisdom from the ages with new technology and industrial capacity in an honest attempt to save Earth and leave no one stranded and in dire danger.
    If that can be accomplished the People of all places -Papua will have spoken.

  4. Sam, link to 'When Sea Ice is Gone' doesn't connect likely because of typo.
    The typo is interesting. and reminds me of communications and con or denier propaganda..
    There is movement afoot to discredit science still to this day and is evident in what search engine focused on company wealth increase chooses to realize.
    To print for instance Paul's Note that his scenario of what's going to likely happen requires significant Methane release from Arctic.
    It occurs to me that one of the big denier arguments about methane release was that quantities in atmosphere slowed in increase but it might be that what in fact happened was that properties of methane ice crystal changed as heat rose letting it gulp up methane for a while..

    1. Thanks for telling me about the embarrasing typo, Dale, it's now corrected. There's plenty that's still unknown about methane, so I strongly support more research. From what I've read on the potential for methane releases from the Arctic seabed, the situation is frightening and I hope this will prompt more scientists to get involved in such research.