Friday, January 17, 2020

Could Humans Go Extinct Within Years?

Above image depicts how humans could go extinct within years. The image was created with NASA LOTI 1880-Dec.2019 data, 0.78°C adjusted to reflect ocean air temperatures (as opposed to sea surface temperatures), to reflect higher polar temperature anomalies (as opposed to leaving out 'missing' data) and to reflect a 1750 baseline (as opposed to a 1951-1980 baseline), with two trends added. Blue: a long-term trend based on Jan.1880-Dec.2019 data. Red: a short-term trend, based on Jan.2009-Dec.2019 data, to illustrate El Niño/La Niña variability and how El Niño could be the catalyst to trigger huge methane releases from the Arctic Ocean. This updates an earlier post with more detail on how the image was created.

The image below shows El Niño/La Niña variability going back to 1950, added to the NOAA monthly temperature anomaly.
[ click on images to enlarge ]

The image on the right shows how ocean heat has increased over the years (from: from the paper Record-Setting Ocean Warmth Continued in 2019, by Lijing Chang et al.).

Ocean heat is increasing rapidly, especially on the Northern Hemisphere, as illustrated by the NOAA image below, showing the rise from 1980 through 2019.

The image underneath uses the same data and has a trend added pointing at a 1.5°C anomaly from the 20th century average by the year 2026.

As discussed in an earlier point, there is a tipping point at 1°C above the 20th century average, i.e. there are indications that a rise of 1°C will result in most of the sea ice underneath the surface to disappear. This sea ice used to consume the inflow of warm, salty water from the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. So, while there may still be sea ice left at the surface, the latent heat buffer will be gone.
[ click on images to enlarge ]
Loss of the latent heat buffer speeds up heating of the Arctic Ocean, with the danger that huge amounts of methane will be released from the seafloor. The image below illustrates the danger, showing that peak methane levels as high as 2670 parts per billion (ppb) were recorded by the MetOp-1 satellite on January 2, 2020 pm at 469 mb.

Most worryingly, above image shows a large almost-solidly magenta-colored area blanketing the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS), with magenta indicating levels above 1950 ppb. Such satellite measurements indicate that large amounts of methane are erupting from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean.

Above image shows that, a few years ago, methane was accumulating most strongly at an altitude corresponding to a pressure of some 400 mb. More recently, methane has been accumulating most strongly at higher altitudes, corresponding to a pressure of just under 300 mb, which is the upper limit of the troposphere over the North Pole. Methane tends to follow the Tropopause, i.e. at higher altitudes methane will be present in higher concentrations closer to the Equator, where the troposphere extends further into space, as discussed in an earlier post.

The NOAA graph below indicates that methane levels are growing at over 10 parts per billion per year, and this may actually underestimate global methane concentrations. The graph uses land-based measurements taken at sea level that can miss methane rising from the seafloor, especially from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, since there are few measuring stations in the Arctic in the first place. Land-based measurements can additionally overlook methane that is moving along the Tropopause from the Arctic toward the Equator.

Ominously, the image below shows high methane levels at Barrow, Alaska, at the end of January 2020.

Rising CO₂ levels are also worrying. A daily average CO₂ level of 415.79 ppm was recorded by NOAA at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, on January 21, 2020, a level that is unprecedented for millions of years. Since an annual peak is typically reached in May, we can expect even higher levels over the coming months.

It's not just at Mauna Loa that such high CO₂ readings were recorded recently. The image below shows CO₂ levels recorded recent;y at Barrow, Alaska.

Fires in Australia have contributed to these high CO₂ levels. The image below shows smoke plumes from fires in Australia on January 4, 2020.

Such fires can generate huge amounts of smoke, with smoke rising up high in the atmosphere and entering the stratosphere, while circumnavigating Earth. The ferocity of these fires is also shown in the NASA video below.

In the video below, Guy McPherson gives examples of species that went extinct rapidly.

Meanwhile, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved the Doomsday Clock closer to Midnight, to 100 seconds to Midnight, adding that Civilization-ending nuclear war—whether started by design, blunder, or simple miscommunication—is a genuine possibility. Climate change that could devastate the planet is undeniably happening. And for a variety of reasons that include a corrupted and manipulated media environment, democratic governments and other institutions that should be working to address these threats have failed to rise to the challenge. Faced with a daunting threat landscape and a new willingness of political leaders to reject the negotiations and institutions that can protect civilization over the long term, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board moved the Doomsday Clock 20 seconds closer to midnight—closer to apocalypse than ever. 

The image below, created with content and data from 1991 to 2020, has a linear trend added that points at Midnight by 2022.

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


• Extinction in 2020?

• NOAA Global Climate Report - Annual 2019 - Monthly temperature anomalies versus El Niño

• Record-Setting Ocean Warmth Continued in 2019 - by Lijing Chang et al.

• 2020 El Nino could start 18°C temperature rise

• Near-Term Human Extinction

• NOAA Global CH4 Monthly Means

• Methane Erupting From Arctic Ocean Seafloor

• NASA: Global Transport of Smoke from Australian Bushfires

• NASA: Global Transport of Australian Bushfire Smoke

• Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

• Doomsday by 2021?

• Climate Plan