Monday, November 23, 2015

Arctic Ocean Shows New Record Low Sea Ice

by Albert Kallio

Both the sea ice thickness and sea ice area have fallen to new record lows for this time of the year (22.11.2015), even surpassing all of the worst previous years.

From Naval Research Laboratory image - view animation
Immense thrust of fast moving sea ice is pushing through at the full width of the Fram Strait between Norway and Greenland. This amounts to huge transport of latent coldness out of the Arctic Ocean to North Atlantic, while the constantly forming new sea ice (as temperatures are below 0°C) is generating heat to keep the surface air temperatures higher across the Arctic Ocean. Thus, heat is constantly being added to the Arctic Ocean while heat is taken away from the North Atlantic Ocean.

The normal sea ice area for this time of year is 9,625,000 km2, whereas the sea ice covers currently just 8,415,890 km2,, which makes that 1,209,120 km2 sea ice is missing from the normal (22.11) sea ice area.

The combination image below shows the jet stream (November 23, 2015, left panel) and surface wind (November 24, 2015, right panel).

Jet stream is wavy and strong, showing speeds as high as 219 mph or 352 km/h (at location marked by the green circle). Right panel shows cyclonic winds between Norway and Greenland speeding up movement of sea ice into the North Atlantic.

Forecasts indicate that conditions could continue. The 5-day forecast on the right shows strong winds in the North Atlantic. Note also the cyclonic winds outside the Bering Strait.

Temperatures over the Arctic are forecast to remain much higher than they used to be, with anomalies at the far end of the scale over a large part of the Arctic Ocean showing up on the 5-day temperature anomaly forecast below.

[ further updates will follow ]

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Rapid Transition to a Clean World

100% clean and renewable wind, water, and solar (WWS)
all-sector energy roadmaps for 139 countries of the world

[ click here for explanatory video of above image ]
Above image is from an excellent study by Jacobson et al., showing that it is technically feasible and economically attractive to shift to clean energy facilities between now and 2050. This will create net jobs worldwide. It will avoid millions of air-pollution mortalities and avoid trillions of dollars in pollution and global warming damage. It will stabilize energy prices and reduce energy poverty. It will make countries energy independent and reduce international conflict over energy. It will reduce risks of large-scale system disruptions by significantly decentralizing power production.

Given that there are so many benefits and there are no technical and economic barriers to complete a 100% shift by the year 2050 (and 80% by 2030), why not make an even faster transition?

Sam Carana suggests that feebates, especially when implemented locally, can best facilitate the necessary shift. Moreover, when energy feebates are implemented jointly with feebates in further areas, greenhouse gas emissions could be cut by 80% by 2020, while soils, atmosphere and oceans could be restored to their pre-industrial status over the course of the century.

[ the above emission cuts and feebates images were used in a meanwhile dated 2011 post ]
To achieve the most effective and rapid shift, Sam Carana recommends implementing two types of feebates, i.e. energy feebates and further feebates such as fees on sales of livestock products while using the revenues to fund rebates on soil supplements containing biochar.

Sam Carana adds that further lines of action will be needed to prevent Earth from overheating, warning that comprehensive and effective action is needed as described in the Climate Plan.

The image below shows that a shift to 100% clean (WWS) energy by 2050 (80% by 2030) could reduce CO2 to ~350 ppmv by 2100.

[ from Jacobson et al. 2015 ]
Energy feebates are the most effective way to speed up the shift to clean energy. Further feebates could make additional cuts in greenhouse gases emissions, while also removing carbon from the atmosphere and oceans, allowing us to aim for bringing down carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere to 280 ppmv by the year 2100.


- How Renewable Energy Could Make Climate Treaties Moot (2015)

- 100% Wind, Water, and Solar (WWS) All-Sector Energy Roadmaps for Countries and States

- The Solutions Project - 100% Renewable Energy

- Feebates

- Climate Plan

Monday, November 9, 2015

Ocean Heat

Sea Surface Temperatures

Sea surface temperatures were as high as 15.8°C or 60.4°F near Svalbard on November 7, 2015, a 13.7°C or 24.7°F anomaly. Let this sink in for a moment. The water used to be close to freezing point near Svalbard around this time of year, and the water now is warmer by as much as 13.7°C or 24.7°F.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
Above image further shows that sea surface temperature anomalies as high as 6.7°C or 12.1°F were recorded on November 7, 2015, off the coast of North America, while anomalies as high as 6°C or 10.9°F were recorded in the Bering Strait.

NOAA analysis shows that the global sea surface in September 2015 was the warmest on record, at 0.81°C (1.46°F) above the 20th century average of 16.2°C (61.1°F). On the Northern Hemisphere, the anomaly was 1.07°C (1.93°F).

[ click on image to enlarge ]

How did temperatures get so high near Svalbard? The answer is that ocean currents are moving warm water from the Atlantic Ocean into the Arctic Ocean. The ocean is warmer underneath the sea surface and at that location near Svalbard warm water from below the surface emerges at the surface.

Ocean Heat

The oceans are warming up rapidly, especially the waters below the sea surface. Of all the excess heat resulting from people's emissions, 93.4% goes into oceans. Accordingly, the temperature of oceans has risen substantially over the years and - without action - the situation only looks set to get worse.

NOAA's ocean heat content figures for 0-2000 m are very worrying, as illustrated by the image below.

The image below was created with data for January through to March, while adding non-linear trendlines for ocean heat at depths of 0-700 m and 0-2000 m. For growth of ocean heat content for 0-700 m, a polynomial trend is added, while for growth of ocean heat content for 0-2000 m an exponential trend is added.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
The image below shows a polynomial trend based on all available quarterly data for ocean heat content from 0 to 2000 m. The trendline shows even faster growth.

The danger is that, as ocean heat continues to grow, ocean currents will keep carrying ever warmer water from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans into the Arctic Ocean.

Merely watching temperatures at the surface of the ocean may underestimate the warming that is taking place below the sea surface. At the sea surface, evaporation takes place that cools the water. Furthermore, melting of sea ice and glaciers will make that a layer of cold freshwater spreads at the surface, preventing much transfer of heat from the ocean to the atmosphere, as discussed at this earlier post. The blue-colored areas on the Northern Hemisphere on the top image are partly the result of this meltwater. There is another reason why these areas are relatively cool, i.e. sulfates, as further discussed in the section below.


Particulates, in particular sulfate, can provide short-term cooling of the sea surface. Large amounts of sulfate are emitted from industrial areas in the east of North America and in East Asia. On the Northern Hemisphere, the Coriolis effect makes that such emissions will typically reach areas over the nearby ocean to the east of such industrial areas, resulting in the sea surface there being cooled substantially, until the particulates have fallen out of the sky. Since the sulfate is emitted on an ongoing basis, the cooling effect continues without much interruption.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
This sulfate has a cooling effect on areas of the sea surface where ocean currents are moving warm water toward the Arctic Ocean. Because the sea surface gets colder, there is less evaporation, and thus less heat transfer from the ocean to the atmosphere during the time it takes for the water to reach the Arctic Ocean. As a result, water below the sea surface remains warmer as it moves toward the Arctic Ocean.

Similarly, as illustrated by above image, sulfur dioxide emitted in industrial areas in North America and East Asia can extend over the oceans, cooling the surface water of currents that are moving water toward the Arctic Ocean.


The image below shows that atmospheric methane levels in 2014 were 1833 parts per billion (WMO data) or 254% the pre-industrial level. WMO data are for 1984-2014 and are marked in red, while IPCC data (AR5) are for the years 1755-2011 and are marked in blue.

The image below shows the rise of methane levels from 1984 created with World Metereological Organization (WMO) data. The square marks a high mean 2015 level, from NOAA's MetOp-2 satellite images, and it is added for comparison, so it does not influence the trendline, yet it does illustrate the direction of rise of methane levels and the threat that global mean methane levels will double well before the year 2040.

The image below illustrates the danger that large amounts of methane will erupt from the Arctic Ocean, particularly in East Siberian Arctic Shelf, where the sea is quite shallow, so much of the methane can reach the atmosphere without being broken down by microbes on the way up through the water column.

The video below shows how methane concentrations start to rise close to sea level, and how concentrations strengthen at higher altitudes, and to eventually get lower at even higher altitudes.

The Threat

Ocean heat threatens to increasingly reach the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean and unleash huge methane eruptions from destabilizing clathrates. Such large methane eruptions will then warm the atmosphere at first in hotspots over the Arctic and eventually around the globe, while also causing huge temperature swings and extreme weather events, contributing to increasing depletion of fresh water and food supply, as further illustrated by the image below, from an earlier post.

[ click on image at original post to enlarge ]

The image below gives an indication of the ocean heat that is pushed by the Gulf Stream toward the Arctic Ocean. Note that this image shows the situation on November 15, 2015. Water off the east coast of North America is even warmer at the peak of the Northern Hemisphere summer and it is this water that is now arriving in the Arctic Ocean.

Below is a radio version of this post, roughly as read by Debba Kale Earnshaw at this episode and the next episode of

Malcolm Light comments:
To a geologist-oceanographer, the increasing rate of heat gain in the deep water seems obvious. Massive quantities of heat are generated in the earth's interior by radioactivity and find their way to the surface in rising convection systems to erupt along mid-ocean ridges as basaltic lava flows, pushing the plates apart. Under normal circumstances, prior to the arrival of civilized man, the plates cooled as they expanded by passing their heat into the oceans, which then was radiated into space.

Now, with the fast evolving atmospheric greenhouse Arctic methane global warming veil. the heat is simply being reflected back into the oceans and onto the land. Therefore, just like a pressure cooker, the Earth's interior heat is becoming trapped more and more and of course the end result will be a final blow-out. The more than 400 thousand years of ice core data show that we can expect a massive atmospheric methane peak caused by destabilization of the Arctic subsea methane hydrates very soon (8 to 16 years away) and it will produce a Permian style extinction event with a temperature increase of some 8 to 10 degrees C.

Climate Plan

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

Sea surface temperatures were as high as 15.8°C or 60.4°F near Svalbard on November 7, 2015, a 13.7°C or 24.7°F anomaly....
Posted by Sam Carana on Monday, November 9, 2015