Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Arctic Ocean February 2020

On February 20, 2020, 09Z, surface temperature anomalies reached both ends of the scale over North America, while the Arctic was 3.7°C or 6.7°F warmer than in 1979-2000. On that day, the average 2 m temperature anomaly for the Arctic was 3.5°C or 6.3°F.

These high temperature anomalies at 2 meters in the left panel go hand in hand with the wind patterns at 250 hPa (jet stream) as shown in the center panel and the wind patterns at 10 meters shown in the right panel. Closer to sea level, circular winds around low pressure areas bring warm air into the Arctic, from Russia and from the Pacific Ocean.

Above image shows winds at 250 hPa (jet stream) with speeds as high as 317 km/h or 197 mph (green circle) in the left panel, while the right panel shows circular winds at 850 hPa reaching speeds as high as 176 km/h or 109 mph (green circle).

These wind patterns have caused much warm air to enter the Arctic, while relatively little cold air has moved out of the Arctic. Furthermore, stronger winds cool the sea surface. As a result, Arctic sea ice extent on February 24, 2020, was 14.1 million km², slightly more than the 2010s average of 14 million km².

Arctic sea ice, however, is very thin. Stronger winds can also accelerate the speed at which ever warmer water is flowing into the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic Ocean and from the Pacific Ocean, as discussed in a previous post. The overall result is that sea ice volume is at a record low for the time of the year.

This is further illustrated by the sea ice thickness (in meters) comparison below between February 28, 2015 and February 28, 2020, i.e. forecasts for February 28, run on February 27.

Rise in greenhouse gas levels is accelerating

Temperatures are rising at ever faster speed as the rise in greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere is accelerating. As illustrated by the image below, the daily average CO₂ level at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, was 416.08 ppm on February 10, 2020, higher than it has been for millions of years. Since the annual peak is typically reached in May, even higher levels can be expected soon.

From the way emissions are rising now, it looks like we could soon reach even higher CO₂e forcing than during the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) mass extinction event, some 55.5 million years ago, as discussed in a previous post. Very worrying also is the recent rise in methane levels recorded at Barrow, Alaska, as illustrated by the image below.

The buffer is gone

As the sea ice is getting thinner, there is little or no buffer left to consume the influx of ever warmer and salty water from the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean. As illustrated by the image below, 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.

[ from earlier post ]
As long as there is sea ice in the water, this sea ice will keep absorbing heat as it melts, so the temperature will not rise at the sea surface. But there is ever less sea ice volume left to absorb ocean heat, and 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.

Meanwhile, temperatures keep rising globally and more than 90% of global warming is going into oceans.

As the temperature of the oceans keeps rising, the danger increases that heat will reach the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean and will destabilize hydrates contained in sediments at the seafloor, resulting in huge releases of methane.

Are humans functionally extinct?

For more background as to when temperatures
could cross 2°C, see also this discussion on trends 
Species can be regarded to be ‘functionally extinct’ when their numbers have declined below levels needed for them to reproduce healthy offspring. This can occur due to causes such as loss of habitat and disappearance of other species that they depend on.

Species can also be declared to be ‘functionally extinct’ when they are threatened to be wiped out by a catastrophe that appears to be both imminent and inescapable, which would cause their numbers to dwindle below a critical threshold required for survival of the species.

Rising temperatures now threaten most, if not all, species to go extinct in a matter of years. In 2020, the global temperature rise could cross the critical guardrail of 2°C above preindustrial that politicians at the Paris Agreement promised would not be crossed. In fact, they pledged to take efforts to avoid a 1.5°C rise. Their failure to do so constitutes a de facto declaration that humans are now functionally extinct and that the looming temperature rise will drive most, if not all species on Earth into extinction.

See also the 2015 postWARNING - 
Dire Situation

The situation is dire, in many respects. Current laws punish people for the most trivial things, while leaving the largest crime one can imagine unpunished: planetary omnicide!

In the video below, Guy McPherson warns that a rapid decline in industrial activity could result in an abrupt rise in temperature of 1°C, as much of the aerosol masking effect falls away.

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

P.S. Don't forget to vote!

One of the most important things one can do to change things is to vote, e.g. in the U.S., vote for Bernie Sanders and the Green New Deal!

Fossil fuel and control over its supply is behind much of the conflict, violence and pollution that has infested the world for more than a century.

Instead of using fossil fuel, the world must rapidly transition to the use of wind turbines, geothermal power, solar power, wave power, and similar clean and renewable ways to generate energy.

The transition to clean, renewable energy removes much cause for conflict, since it is available locally around the world and its use in one place doesn't exclude use of clean, renewable energy elsewhere.

The transition to clean, renewable energy will provide greater energy security and reliability, besides its numerous further benefits, e.g. it will make more land and water available for growing food and it will give us more jobs, better health, and a cleaner environment. And, because it's more economic, the transition to clean, renewable energy will pay for itself as we go.

Bernie Sanders calls for a rapid transition to clean, renewable energy as part of the Green New Deal.

Please share this message, vote for Bernie Sanders and support the GND!


• Climate Plan

• Why stronger winds over the North Atlantic are so dangerous

• Critical Tipping Point Crossed In July 2019

• Could Humans Go Extinct Within Years?

• January 2020 Temperature Anomaly