Saturday, April 5, 2014

Escalating extreme weather events to hammer humanity

By Paul Beckwith

Extreme weather events are rocketing upwards in their frequency of occurrence, intensity, and duration and are impacting new regions that are unprepared. These events, such as torrential rains, are causing floods and damaging crops and infrastructure like roads, rail, pipelines, and buildings. Cities, states, and entire countries are being battered and inundated resulting in disruption to many peoples lives as well as enormous economic losses. As bad as this is, it is going to get much worse by at least 10 to 20 times. Why?

Greenhouse gas emissions from humans have changed the chemistry of the atmosphere. The optical absorption of infrared heat has increased in the atmosphere which raises temperature, and thus water vapor content, and therefore fuels more intense storms. The jet streams that guide these storms are slower and wavier and more fractured and cause our weather gyrations and weird behavior. Areas far north can get very warm, while areas far south can get very cold. Some areas get persistent drought. Then, the pattern can flip. The jet streams are much wavier in the north-south direction since the Arctic temperatures have warmed 5 to 8 times faster than the global average. This reduces the temperature difference between the Arctic and equator and basic physics forces the jets to slow and get wavier.

Why is the Arctic warming greatly amplified? The region is darkening and thus absorbing more sunlight, since the land-based snow cover in spring and the Arctic sea ice cover volume are both declining exponentially. The white snow and ice is being replaced by dark surfaces like the ocean and the tundra. The most detailed computer model on sea ice decline is a U.S. Naval Graduate School model, and it shows the sea ice cover could be gone by late summer in 2016. If this happens, the Arctic warming will rocket upwards, the jets will distort much more, and the extreme weather events will rocket upwards in frequency, amplitude, and duration and civilization will be hammered.

Paul Beckwith
Paul Beckwith is part-time professor with the laboratory for paleoclimatology and climatology, department of geography, University of Ottawa. Paul teaches climatology/meteorology and does PhD research on 'Abrupt climate change in the past and present'. Paul holds an M.Sc. in laser physics and a B.Eng. in engineering physics and reached the rank of chess master in a previous life. Below are Paul's earlier posts at the Arctic-news blog.

Paul Beckwith with sign (arrows highlighted by 
Sam Carana, from earlier post)

Below, a recent video in which Paul Beckwith discusses how a weaker Jet Stream lets warmer air move from lower latitudes into the Arctic (feedback #10).

From December, 2013 until early April, 2014 there have been persistent and very large temperature anomalies in the northern hemisphere (+20 C = +36 F in the Arctic, -20 C = -36 F in vast parts of the US and Canada). I claim that this represents a previously unrecognized large positive feedback acting to homogenize the temperature in the northern hemisphere.

Earlier posts by Paul Beckwith

- Abrupt Climate Change

- Our New Climate and Weather - part 2

- Our New Climate and Weather

- Are Alberta’s Tar Sands prepared for a torrential rain event?

- Stop All New Fossil Fuel Megaprojects

- Toward Genuinely Improved Discussions of Methane & Climate

- The Social Tipping Point

- Arctic Cyclone July 2013

- Arctic Ocean Events - Videos by Paul Beckwith

- Climate change fighting town savaged by runaway oil train

- Extreme weather becomes the norm - what can you do?

- Thin Spots developing in Arctic Sea Ice

- The Tornado Connection to Climate Change

- Anthropogenic Arctic Volcano can calm climate

- Hold on folks… the times they are a-changin’

- Hurricane Sandy moving inland

- Open Letter to Canadian MPs

- State of Climate Change October 2012

- Is death by lead worse than death by climate? No.

- You are now entering the nonlinearity zone…

- Vanishing Arctic sea ice is rapidly changing global climate

- Storm enters Arctic region

- Update on September Arctic cyclone

- Arctic cyclone warning for September 7

- Paul Beckwith on ice speed and drift - update 1

- Paul Beckwith on ice speed and drift

- Another Arctic Cyclone brewing

- Sea ice in the Arctic - Shaken and stirred (by a powerful cyclone)

- How to part ways with a climate denier that has incredible stamina...

No comments:

Post a Comment