Friday, August 24, 2018

The once-thickest Arctic sea ice has gone

The image below shows Arctic sea ice north of Greenland and around Ellesmere Island. This is the area where for thousands of years the sea ice has been the thickest, in many places remaining thicker than 5 meters (16.4 ft) throughout the year.

[ The once-thickest sea ice has gone - click on images to enlarge ]
The image is a compilation of NASA Worldview images over seven days, from August 14 through to August 21, 2018. The least cloudy areas have been selected from each image to get the best insight in the magnitude of this catastrophe.

The loss of this sea ice indicates that the buffer is gone. Sea ice acts as a buffer that absorbs heat, while keeping the temperature at the freezing point of water, about zero degrees Celsius. As long as there is sea ice in the water, this sea ice will keep absorbing heat, so the temperature doesn't rise at the sea surface.

Once the buffer is gone, further energy that enters the Arctic Ocean will go into heating up the water. 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.

[ The Latent Heat Buffer has gone, feedback #14 on the Feedbacks page ]
At the same time, decline of the snow and ice cover in the Arctic causes more sunlight to get reflected back into space, resulting in more energy getting absorbed in the Arctic Ocean.

[ Albedo Change, feedback #1 on the Feedbacks page ]

Numerous feedbacks are associated with sea ice loss. As the temperature difference between the Arctic and the Equator decreases, changes are taking pace to the Jet Stream that in turn trigger a multitude of further feedbacks, such as more extreme weather and a more scope for heat to enter the Arctic Ocean (see feedbacks page).

A further huge danger is that, as warming of the Arctic Ocean continues, heat will reach methane hydrates at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, causing them to get destabilized and release methane.

[ Seafloor methane, feedback #2 on the Feedbacks page ]
Adding up all warming elements associated with disappearance of the sea ice could result in additional global warming many times as much as the current global warming, all in a few years time.

Meanwhile, for the first time in human history, mean global methane levels as high as 1900 ppb have been recorded. The measurements were recorded by the MetOp-1 satellite on the morning of August 22, 2018, at 280 mb, 266 mb, 307 mb and 321 mb, as shown by the images below.

At 293 mb, MetOp-1 recorded an even higher level, i.e. mean global methane level was 1901 ppb on the morning of August 22, 2018.

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


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

• Feedbacks

• Latent Heat

• Albedo and more

• How much warming have humans caused?

• The Threat

• Extinction

• Climate Plan

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Will August 2018 be the hottest month on record?

July and August are typically about 3.6ºC or 6.5ºF warmer than December and January. August is typically 1.8°C or 3.24ºF warmer than the average annual temperature. Above image shows how much higher the temperature was for selected months, compared to the annual global mean for the period 1980-2015. Will August 2018 be the hottest month on record?

Numerous temperature records have fallen across the world recently. Heat stress hazard is high under conditions of high surface air temperature and high relative humidity. When looking at heat stress hazards, it's therefore important to look at surface air temperatures over land, i.e. the temperature of the air above the land surface.

Fire hazard is high under conditions of hot and dry soil and strong wind. When looking at fire hazards, it's therefore important to look at land surface temperatures, reflecting how hot the surface of the Earth would feel to touch in a particular location. The map below shows land surface temperatures.

When calculating how much warmer it is now, a number of things must be taken into account:
  1. Baseline

    What baseline is used and how is the temperature at the baseline calculated? In the image at the top, the baseline is 1980-2015, which is a very recent period. When using a preindustrial baseline, anomalies could be more than 0.6°C higher than when using the 1951-1980 baseline that NASA normally uses.

  2. Surface temperatures or surface air temperatures?

    Above map shows land surface temperatures. As said above, this is different from surface air temperatures over land that show the temperature of the air above the land surface.

    Similarly, sea surface temperatures indicate the temperature of the water at the surface. Sea surface air temperatures, on the other hand, are slightly higher, they are measurements of the air temperature just above the surface of the water.

    NASA typically uses surface air temperatures over land, while using surface water temperatures over oceans. When instead using air temperatures globally, the temperature anomaly could be more than 0.1°C higher.
  3. Missing data

    How are missing data dealt with? To calculate the global mean on maps, NASA uses four zonal regions (90-24ºS, 24-0ºS, 0-24ºN, and 24-90ºN) and fills gaps in a region by the mean over the available data in that region. In datasets, however, missing data are typically ignored. This could make a difference of 0.2°C. Ignoring data for the Arctic alone could make a difference of 0.1°C.  
Depending on how the above three points are dealt with, the temperature in August 2018 may well be more than 3°C above the mean annual global temperature in 1750. The question is whether August 2018 will be warmer than August 2016, which was 2.3°C warmer than 1980-2015.

Anthropogenic Global Warming

Remember the Paris Agreement, when politicians pledged to take efforts to ensure that the temperature would not cross 1.5°C above pre-industrial? Why did the Paris Agreement not specify a year for pre-industrial? Perhaps the idea was that total anthropogenic global warming should not exceed 1.5°C. In other words, the warming that people had already caused by 1750, plus the warming people caused since 1750, plus the warming that is already baked in for the decades to come. The image below illustrates this idea and also shows that we're well above 1.5°C anthropogenic global warming.

In the image below, temperatures have also been adjusted to better reflect a preindustrial baseline (1750), showing that temperatures were not higher than 1°C above pre-industrial during the entire Holocene, until recently.

In a recent paper, James Hansen et al. conclude that temperatures also weren't more than 1°C above pre-industrial during the previous interglacial, the Eemian, which implies that temperatures haven't been more than 1°C above pre-industrial for the entire 200,000 years that modern people, i.e. the species homo sapiens, have existed, and that temperatures have only recently rising to levels more than 1°C above pre-industrial. Quite likely, to find temperatures as high as today's, one would have to go back some 3 million years.

Fires over North America, August 2018

Fires can significantly influence temperatures in a number of ways. The images below show how fires boosted carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide levels on August 19, 2018. Carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide both raise temperatures. On the other hand, sulfur dioxide lowers temperature by reflecting sunlight back into space.

Top left: carbon monoxide as high as 51495 ppb
Top right: carbon dioxide as high as 836 ppm
Bottom left: Smoke over North America
Bottom right: sulfur dioxide as high as 1917.57 µg/m³
The image below illustrates to what extent smoke from fires boosted black carbon in the air over North America on August 23, 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.

Dust and further aerosols

The impact of aerosols such as sulfur dioxide and dust is often overlooked. The image below shows that τ, i.e. light at 550 nm as a measurement of aerosol optical thickness due to dust aerosols, was as high as 4.0641 on June 16, 2018.

[ goats, from Wikipedia ]
Dust is one reason why temperatures didn't cross the 1°C above pre-industrial mark during the peak of the recent Milankovitch cycle. A recent study calculates that the global annual mean surface temperature increases by 0.3°C for the mid-Holocene (6 ka), if the dust is completely removed.

Most dust appears to originate from the Sahara Desert, which lost its vegetation during the Holocene due to goats, according to this study, as people removed predators such as lions and tigers. As the Sahara lost its vegetation, the surface became more reflective, while dust further made that temperatures didn't rise as much as they otherwise would have.

Deforestation has caused a lot of carbon dioxide to be added during pre-industrial times, and there is also the impact of black carbon aerosols, resulting from biomass and fossil fuel burning, which causes some 1.1W/m² warming today and some 0.2W/m² is coming from pre-industrial activities.

In conclusion, temperatures would be a lot lower in the absence of human activities, while total anthropogenic global warming over the past few thousand years is much larger than most people think.

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


• NASA - The Northwest is Running Hot and Dry

• NASA GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Studies) Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP)

• NASA - Just Another Day on Aerosol Earth

• Aerosols

• How much warming have humans caused?

• How much warmer is it now?

• Extinction

• Climate Plan

Friday, August 3, 2018

Peaks Matter

Heat stress

When calculating how much warmer we can expect it to get, climate models typically use linear projections based on temperature averages, such as annual global average temperatures, daily temperatures that are averages between day and night, etc. Sadly, this downplays the danger, as average temperatures are unlikely to kill people. When lives are at stake, peaks matter!

Where are temperatures rising most?

Temperatures are rising most strongly in the Arctic. Above map shows a rise of as much as 5.7°C or 10.26°F in Arctic.

Ocean heat on the move toward Arctic Ocean

The image below shows that the sea surface was 22°C or 71.6°F on August 13, 2018, at 77.958°N, 5.545°E (near Svalbard), i.e. 6.9°C or 12.4°F warmer than 47 days earlier and 16.4°C or 29.5°F warmer than it was during 1981-2011.

Local maximum temperatures can be good indicators for the maximum heat stress that can be expected in the area.

As illustrated by above image, the sea surface near Svalbard was 22°C or 71.6°F at the green circle on August 13, 2018, i.e. 16.4°C or 29.5°F warmer than 1981-2011.

This high sea surface temperature is an indicator of the temperature of the water below the surface, which in turn is an indicator of the amount of ocean heat that is entering the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic Ocean.

Ocean heat is carried by the Gulf Stream from the North American coast toward the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the images below and on the right.

Warming of the Arctic Ocean comes with a number of feedbacks that accelerate this warming, such as albedo changes that take place as the Arctic snow and ice cover declines, and methane that is released from sediments containing methane in the form of hydrates and free gas.

The situation could get worse rapidly. As an example, with a decrease in cooling aerosols, which are concentrated in the Northern Hemisphere, the North Atlantic looks set to absorb more heat. A recent study calculated that the North Atlantic’s share of the uptake could increase from 6% to about 27%.

As another example, a recent study concludes: Existing models currently attribute about 20% of the permafrost carbon feedback this century to methane, with the rest due to carbon dioxide from terrestrial soils. By including thermokarst lakes, methane becomes the dominant driver, responsible for 70% to 80% of permafrost carbon-caused warming this century. Adding thermokarst methane to the models makes the feedback’s effect similar to that of land-use change, which is the second-largest source of manmade warming.

High methane levels warn about seafloor methane releases

The image on the right illustrates the danger, showing high methane levels at Barrow, Alaska, in July 2018.

When making projections of heat stress, it is important to look at all potential warming elements, including albedo changes, changes to jet streams and sea currents, higher levels of methane, high levels of water vapor, etc.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, causing huge warming immediately after entering the atmosphere, while this warming will be felt most strongly where the methane was released. Methane can therefore contribute strongly to local temperature peaks.

On August 6, 2018, mean global methane levels were as high as 1896 ppb. On August 8, 2018, they were as high as 1898 ppb.

Importantly, peak levels on the afternoon of August 6, 2018, were as high as 3046 ppb, as illustrated by the image on the right. The likely origin of those high levels is the Arctic Ocean, which should act as a stark warning of things to come.

Further contributors to heat stress

Next to temperature, humidity is of vital importance. A combination of high temperatures and high humidity is devastating.

A recent study shows that the risk of deadly heat waves is significantly increased because of intensive irrigation in specific regions. The study points at a relatively dry but highly fertile region, known as the North China Plain — a region whose role in that country is comparable to that of the Midwest in the U.S. That increased vulnerability to heat arises because the irrigation exposes more water to evaporation, leading to higher humidity in the air than would otherwise be present and exacerbating the physiological stresses of the temperature.

The image below shows a forecast of perceived temperatures in China on August 7, 2018.

The green circle highlights an area that is forecast to score high on the 'Misery Index' and that is centered around a location on the coast of Poyang Lake, which is connected to the Yangtze River. Temperatures there are forecast to be as high as 36.4°C or 97.4°F. At first glance, this may not look very high, but a relative humidity 68% is forecast to make it feel like 54.1°C or 129.3°F. This translates into a wet-bulb temperature of 31.03°C or 87.86°F.

The image on the right shows relative humidity. Also note the cyclones lined up on the Pacific Ocean. Cyclones can increase humidity, making conditions worse.
The high sea surface temperature anomalies that are common in the West Pacific (image right)  contribute to warmer air and stronger cyclones carrying more moisture toward Asia, as discussed in this facebook thread which also features the next image on the right, showing that cyclone Soulik is forecast to cause waves as high as 18.54 m or 60.8 ft near Japan on August 20, 2018.

If humidity kept rising, a temperature of 36.4°C at a relative humidity of 91% would result in a wet-bulb temperature of 35°C. No amount of sweating, even in the shade and in front of strong winds or a fan, can cool the body under such conditions, and it would be lethal in a matter of hours in the absence of air conditioning or cold water.

There are further factors that can contribute to make specific areas virtually uninhabitable. The urban heat effect is such a factor. El Niño is another one. Land-only temperature anomalies are higher than anomalies that are averaged for land and oceans. As temperatures keep rising, heat waves can be expected to intensify, while their duration can be extended due to jet stream blocking.

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

Below, Paul Beckwith warns that parts of the world 'will soon be rendered uninhabitable'.

Video: Unrelenting Heat, Humidity Will Soon Make Regions UNINHABITABLE

Paul Beckwith: "How hot can it actually get? What is in store for us? When you combine the heat domes sitting over many countries with high humidity, many areas around the planet will soon reach the deadly 35°C (95°F) 100% humidity (wet bulb temperature) or equivalent situation whereby a perfectly healthy person outside, in a well ventilated area, in the shade will die from the heat in 6 hours."

Video: Most Mammals Endure Heat Waves Better Than Humans

"Most people, like the very young, the elderly, and the rest of us won’t last anywhere as long, at even lower temperatures. I discuss the latest peer-reviewed science on how parts of high-risk regions in the North China Plains, Middle East, and South Asia will soon be rendered uninhabitable by combined heat and humidity."

Video: Uninhabitable Regions with Extreme Heat and Humidity

Also watch this video, in which Guy McPherson talks about the way aerosols currently mask the full wrath of global warming.

Video: Edge of Extinction: Rate Matters

Above video is also incorporated in the video below.

Video: McPherson's Paradox

and for the bigger picture, also watch the video below.

Video: Responding to Abrupt Climate Change with Guy R. McPherson


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

• Feedbacks

• Latent Heat

• How much warming have humans caused?

• The Threat

• Extinction

• Climate Plan

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Global fires, droughts and Orwellian Newspeak while Nero fiddles

By Andrew Glikson

There was a time when the contamination of drinking water constituted a punishable crime. Nowadays those who willfully ignore or promote the destruction of the Earth’s atmosphere and ocean acidification through the rise in emission of carbon gases (2014 ~36.08 billion ton CO₂/year ; 2017 ~36.79 billion ton CO₂/year), hold major sway in the world. Consequently the rise rate of atmospheric CO₂ at 2 ppm/year (from 408.84 ppm in June 2014 to 410.79 ppm in June 2018) is the fastest observed in the geological record since 66 million years ago, when an asteroid hit the Earth, wiping out the dinosaurs. ( The hapless residents of planet Earth are torn between survival in several parts of the world and sport circuses in other parts, while some of their representatives are playing with chunks of coal in their parliament.

See interactive version of image at:

The consequences in terms of heat waves, fires, droughts, storms, floods, human lives and devastation of nature are everywhere. From Japan to Sweden, Oman to Texas and California, a global heat wave is setting records, igniting wildfires, and killing hundreds.

The south-central region is home to the highest temperatures in the U.S. this week, with nearly 35 million people living under excessive heat warnings issued by the National Weather Service. Temperatures are expected to be in the triple digits across Texas this weekend, marking the most severe heat wave in the state since 2011. The Texas heat has already led to record-breaking days for the Texas power grid twice this week. Things aren’t any better elsewhere in the region, with heat indexes in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana reaching up to 110°F.

Dozens are dead in Japan from record-setting, long duration extreme heat event.
Across the globe in Kyoto, Japan, Thursday marked the seventh straight day of temperatures that exceeded 100 degrees, breaking all known records for the ancient capital city. At least 30 people have died in Japan during the heat wave, which has complicated rescue efforts following floods and landslides that killed more than 200 in western Japan earlier this month. On Thursday alone ten people died and 2,605 people were sent to hospitals in Tokyo due to heat, the Japan Times reports. The day before, Tokyo rescue workers set a record by responding to more than 3,000 emergency calls.

In Sweden, the Arctic Circle is on fire. High temperatures and a prolonged drought have caused 49 fires to ignite across Sweden, with temperatures reaching 90 degrees as far north as the Arctic Circle this week. According to the Washington Post, temperatures in Scandinavia typically settle in the 60s and 70s this time of year, meaning the current heat wave is making things around 20 degrees hotter than normal. In Quebec, more than 90 people were killed by extreme heat in early July. An Algerian city earlier this month broke the record for the highest temperature ever in Africa when it hit 124.3°F.

The current heatwave has been caused by an extraordinary stalling of the jet stream wind, which usually funnels cool Atlantic weather over the continent. This has left hot, dry air in place for two months – far longer than usual. The stalling of the northern hemisphere jet stream is being increasingly firmly linked to global warming, in particular to the rapid heating of the Arctic and resulting loss of sea ice.

Prof Michael Mann declares “This is the face of climate change … We literally would not have seen these extremes in the absence of climate change … The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle … We are seeing them play out in real time and what is happening this summer is a perfect example of that … We are seeing our predictions come true …". Mann points out that the link between smoking tobacco and lung cancer is a statistical one, which does not prove every cancer was caused by smoking, but epidemiologists know that smoking greatly increases the risk. “That is enough to say that, for all practical purposes, there is a causal connection between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer and it is the same with climate change.”

Australia, emitting 138 million tons of CO₂e in 2017 and in 2017 exporting 200 million tonnes thermal coal and 172 million tons metallurgical coal, is currently suffering major consequences in terms of drought in New South Wales, north-west Victoria and eastern South Australia.

The factors, as explained by Blair Trewin of the Bureau of Meteorology, include: “a stronger than usual sub-tropical ridge over southern Australia. That means that frontal systems that would normally start affecting southern Australia more generally during the winter are instead mostly passing south of the continent, really only affecting Tasmania and perhaps southern Victoria."

Although the polar-ward migration of climate zones pushed southward by the tropical Hadley Cell constitutes an integral feature of global climate change, rarely does the term “climate change” appear in relevant government and farmers’ statements. Orwellian Newspeak has won the day once again, where talk about the “National energy guarantee” appears to divert attention from the global climate crisis to power prices, in a country where the sky is the limit for alternative clean energy—solar, wind and tide.

The cover-up by the compliant mainstream media, radio and TV of the climate change origin of the heat waves and of fires in the northern hemisphere, and of the drought in the southern hemisphere, is now almost complete. In true Orwellian newspeak terms the words “climate change” have now been replaced with “energy security”..

Andrew Glikson
Dr Andrew Glikson
Earth and Paleo-climate science
ANU Climate Change Institute
ANU Planetary Science Institute