Sunday, December 12, 2021

Terrifying Arctic methane levels

A peak methane level of 3026 ppb was recorded by the MetOp-B satellite at 469 mb on December 11, 2021 am.

This follows a peak methane level of 3644 ppb recorded by the MetOp-B satellite at 367 mb on November 21, 2021, pm.

A peak methane level of 2716 ppb was recorded by the MetOp-B satellite at 586 mb on December 11, 2021, pm, as above image shows. This image is possibly even more terrifying than the image at the top, as above image shows that at 586 mb, i.e. much closer to sea level, almost all methane shows up over sea, rather than over land, supporting the possibility of large methane eruptions from the seafloor, especially in the Arctic. 

Also, the image was recorded later than the image at the top with the 3026 ppb peak, indicating that even more methane may be on the way. This appears to be confirmed by the Copernicus forecast for December 12, 2021, 03 UTC, as illustrated by the image below, which shows methane at 500 hPa (equivalent to 500 mb).

Furthermore, very high methane levels have recently been recorded at Barrow, Alaska, as illustrated by the image below, showing monthly averages.

And carbon dioxide levels have also been very high recently at Barrow, Alaska, as illustrated by the image below, showing daily averages. 

What causes these terrifying methane levels?

As the combination image below shows, the sea surface temperature north of Svalbard was as high as 4.3°C (or 39.74°F, green circle in the left panel) on December 12, 2021, i.e. as much as 5°C (or 9°F, green circle in the right panel) higher than 1981-2011.

[ click on images to enlarge ]

As temperatures in the Arctic keep rising faster than elsewhere in the world, the Jet Stream gets ever more distorted. The image on the right shows a heavily distorted Jet Stream covering most of the Northern Hemisphere on December 13, 2021, with sea surface temperatures off the coast of North America as much as 10.7°C (or 19.2°F, at the green circle) higher than 1981-2011.

At times, this can lead to very strong winds that push huge amounts of heat from the North Atlantic into the Arctic Ocean.

The image on the right is a forecast for December 14, 2021, showing strong wind causing waves as high as 8.3 m (or 27.2 ft) off the coast of Norway, speeding up the flow of warm water as it dives underneath the sea ice north of Svalbard. 

Huge amounts of heat can thus move into the Arctic Ocean, driven by ocean currents and temperature differences.

The danger is that warmer water will cause methane to erupt from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, as an earlier post warned.

[ The buffer is gone, from earlier post ]

Sea ice used to act as a buffer, by consuming energy in the process of melting, thus avoiding that this energy could raise the temperature of the water of the Arctic Ocean. As above image indicates, the buffer has now virtually disappeared. 

As sea ice gets thinner, ever less sea ice can act as a buffer. This is also illustrated by the 30-day animation (up to November 12, the last 8 days are forecasts) on the right, from an earlier post.

Furthermore, huge amounts of heat did get transferred to the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean, while and as long as sea ice was low in extent.

The image on the right, also from that earlier post, shows the October 2021 temperature anomaly, with anomalies over the Arctic showing up of as much as 9.1°C.

As the sea ice animation also shows, lower air temperatures after September caused the sea ice to grow in extent, effectively sealing off the Arctic Ocean and reducing heat transfer from the Arctic Ocean to the atmosphere.

Heat that was previously melting the ice or that was getting transferred to the atmosphere is now instead heating up the water. Some 75% of ESAS (East Siberian Arctic Shelf) is shallower than 50 m. Being shallow, these waters can easily warm up all the way down to the sea floor, where heat can penetrate cracks and conduits, destabilizing methane hydrates and sediments that were until now sealing off methane held in chambers in the form of free gas in these sediments.

Sealed off from the atmosphere by sea ice, greater mixing of heat in the water will occur down to the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean.

[  From the post September 2015 Sea Surface Warmest On Record ]
There are some further factors that can contribute to the high methane levels over the Arctic. As the sea ice grows in extent, this results in less moisture evaporating from the water, which together with the change of seasons results in lower hydroxyl levels at the higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, in turn resulting in less methane getting broken down in the atmosphere over the Arctic.

Also, as land around the Arctic Ocean freezes over, less fresh water will flow from rivers into the Arctic Ocean. As a result, the salt content of the Arctic Ocean increases, all the way down to the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, making it easier for ice in cracks and passages in sediments at the seafloor to melt, allowing methane contained in the sediment to escape. Meanwhile, salty and warm water (i.e. warmer than water that is present in the Arctic Ocean) keeps getting carried along the track of the Gulf Stream into the Arctic Ocean.

The threat

[ The Buffer has gone, feedback #14 on the Feedbacks page ]
The threat is that some of the extra heat will reach sediments at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean that contain huge amounts of methane in currently still frozen hydrates and in pockets of gas underneath.

Cracks and holes in these sediments that are filled with ice can, as the ice melts away, become passageways for heat to destabilize hydrates, causing an eruption of gas as the methane expands to 160 times its frozen volume. The shockwave resulting from such an eruption can then destabilize neighboring hydrates.

This process threatens to result in ever more methane getting released, as illustrated in the image on the right, from an earlier post.

NOAA's most recent global mean methane reading is 1890.9 ppb for August 2021, with a trend of 1894.8 ppb. Meanwhile, NOAA's global mean methane level will have risen further (December levels are typically more than 10 ppb higher than August levels), while NOAA's data are also for marine surface measurements, and more methane tends to accumulate at higher altitudes. 

In other words, the current global mean of methane is now above 1900 ppb. Given that methane's concentration is rising at accelerating pace (see image right), the implication is that in an expanding troposphere, the volume of methane and thus its greenhouse effect will be rising even faster. 

A study published November 2021 in Science Advances finds a continuous rise of the tropopause in the Northern Hemisphere over 1980–2020, resulting primarily from tropospheric warming. 

As illustrated by the image below, methane on December 26 am, 2021, reached a global mean of 1939 ppb between 293 mb and 280 mb, while the highest peak level (2554 ppb) was reached higher in the atmosphere, at 218 mb.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
The animation on the right, showing methane on December 31, 2021 am, may be helpful in analysis of the origin of these terrifying methane levels.

The CO₂ level at Mauna Loa was 415.87 ppm on December 9, 2021. The MetOp-B satellite recorded a mean methane level of 1958 ppb on October 25, 2021 am at 295 mb, and when using a 1-year GWP of 200, this translates into 391.6 ppm CO₂e. Together, that's 391.6 + 415.87 = 807.47 ppm CO₂e.  

Now add an additional 5 Gt of methane from an abrupt eruption of the seafloor, which is only 10% of the 50Gt that Natalia Shakhova et al. warned about long ago, while 50 Gt is in turn only a small fraction of all the methane contained in sediments in the Arctic. Such an eruption of seafloor methane would raise the global mean methane concentration by almost 2000 ppb which, at a 1-year GWP of 200, would translate into 400 ppm CO₂.

So, that would abruptly cause the joint CO₂e of methane and CO₂ to cross the 1200 ppm clouds tipping point, triggering a further 8°C global temperature rise, due to the clouds feedback

A 5 Gt seafloor methane burst would double the methane in the atmosphere and could instantly raise CO₂e level to above 1200 ppm, thus triggering the cloud feedback (panel top right). Even with far less methane, levels of further pollutants could rise and feedbacks could strengthen, while sulfate cooling could end, and a 18.44°C rise (from pre-industrial) could occur by 2026 (left panel). Meanwhile, humans will likely go extinct with a 3°C rise, and a 5°C rise will likely end most life on Earth.


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


• NOAA Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) Sounding Products

• CAMS, the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service

• Carbon Cycle Gases, NOAA, Barrow Atmospheric Baseline Observatory, United States


• Warning of mass extinction of species, including humans, within one decade

• Human Extinction by 2022?

• The Methane Threat

• High methane levels over the Arctic Ocean on January 14, 2014

• NOAA mean global monthly methane

• The Importance of Methane

• SCRIPPS - The Keeling Curve

• Will COP26 in Glasgow deliver?

• Continuous rise of the tropopause in the Northern Hemisphere over 1980–2020 - by Lingyun Meng et al.

• Frequently Asked Questions

• When Will We Die?

A Climate of Betrayal

5.9 $trillion spent by governments on fossil fuel subsidies in 2020

by Andrew Glikson

As indicated by the International Monetary fund, greenhouse gas emissions are funded world-wide by government subsidies totaling $5.9 trillion in 2020, about 6.8% global GDP, expected to rise to 7.4% of GDP in 2025, or $11million a minute. In the view of some scientists fuel subsidies are ‘adding fuel to the fire of the climate crisis’.

Hollow words by dignitaries at COP-out-26 may have led many to believe “leaders” are serious when they raise the alarm of “one minute to midnight”, while at the same time allowing the development of new oil, gas and coal mines enhancing the accelerating trend toward an inhabitability of large parts of the planet. The consequences of the continued transfer of extractable carbon to the atmosphere and oceans were summed up by James Hansen, the renowned climate scientist:

Burning all fossil fuels would create a very different planet than the one that humanity knows. The palaeoclimate record and ongoing climate change make it clear that the climate system would be pushed beyond tipping points, setting in motion irreversible changes, including ice sheet disintegration with a continually adjusting shoreline, extermination of a substantial fraction of species on the planet, and increasingly devastating regional climate extremes” and “this equates 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day 365 days per year”. James Hansen et al. 2012 and James Hansen 2012.

According to Climate 202 (6/12/2021), the Biden administration has approved more oil and gas drilling permits on public lands per month than the Trump administration did during the first three years of the Trump presidency.

In Europe, the year 2020 was supposed to be when the European Union would launch its ambitious plan to tackle the climate crisis, so why does Europe sabotage its own climate goals by subsidizing the fossil sector by more than €137 billion per year? (Figure 1)

Figure 1. Fossil fuel subsidies (in €) per capita in Europe (from Investigate Europe)

Banks continue to finance fossil fuels while signing up to net zero pledges (Nov 2021). The nations that make up the G7 have pumped billions of dollars more into fossil fuels than they have into clean energy since the Covid-19 pandemic, despite their promises of a green recovery. As the UK prepares to host the G7 summit, new analysis reveals that the countries attending committed $189bn to support oil, coal and gas between January 2020 and March 2021. By comparison, the same countries, the UK, US, Canada, Italy, France, Germany and Japan, spent $147bn on clean energy.

In Australia, business as usual continued, where fossil fuel subsidies reached $10.3 billion in 2020-21. Fossil fuel subsidies cost Australians a staggering $10.3 billion in 2020-21. Plans are made for a huge Beetaloo gas field in the Northern Territory. The Galilee coal project is proceeding and the Adani coal project gets ready to ship coal. Coal and gas works, if approved, would result in a nearly 30% increase in emissions within Australia.

Who or what would save nature and humanity from the accelerating destruction of the livable Earth atmosphere and oceans (Figure 2)?

Figure 2. The accelerating destruction of the livable Earth atmosphere and oceans (after Wil Steffen, 2012)

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Planetwide Ecocide - The Crime Against Life on Earth

by Andrew Glikson

“We are simply talking about the very life support system of this planet.”
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Germany’s former chief climate scientist (2009)

“Burning all fossil fuels would create a very different planet than the one that humanity knows. The palaeoclimate record and ongoing climate change make it clear that the climate system would be pushed beyond tipping points, setting in motion irreversible changes, including ice sheet disintegration with a continually adjusting shoreline, extermination of a substantial fraction of species on the planet, and increasingly devastating regional climate extremes” and “this equates 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day 365 days per year” . James Hansen et al. 2012 and James Hansen 2012.

Figure 1. The change in state of the planetary climate since the onset of the industrial age in the 18ᵗʰ century.

During its last 600 million years-long history planet Earth suffered at least five major mass extinctions, defining the ends of several eras of the Ordovician, Devonian, Permian, Jurassic and Cretaceous, triggered by extra-terrestrial impacts, massive volcanic eruptions, methane release or ocean anoxia. Each of these events included the release of greenhouse gases, inducing changes in atmospheric composition and temperature (Figures 1, 2 and 3). Excepting the role of methanogenic bacteria in releasing methane, the anthropogenic mass extinction constitutes an exception: For the first time in its history the atmosphere, the oceans and the biosphere are disrupted by a living organism, namely the activity of a carbon-emitting biped mammal species.

Fig 2. Temperature trends for the past 65 Ma and potential geo-historical analogs for future climates (Burke et al. (2018)

In the wake of the Pliocene (2.6-5.3 Ma-ago), with temperatures in the range of (+2°C to 3°C above pre-industrial levels) and sea levels (+25 meters) higher than at present, the development of glacial-interglacial conditions saw the appearance of Homo erectus and then Homo sapiens. Between about 10,000 and 7,000 years ago, the stabilization of the climate in the Holocene saw Neolithic agricultural civilization take hold. Anthropogenic processes during this period, denoted as the Anthropocoene (Steffen et al., 2007), led to deforestation and the demise of species, ever increasing carbon pollution of the atmosphere, temperature rise (Figures 1 and 2), acidification, radioactive contamination and a growing threat to the Earth’s life support systems.

Planetwide ecocide results from anthropogenic emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, raising their combined forcing (CO₂ + CH₄ + N₂O, etc.) to levels over 500 ppm CO₂-equivalent, (Figure 3), almost doubling the pre-industrial CO₂ level of ~280 ppm, and corresponding to a rise of +3°C per doubling of CO₂ levels. The consequence of extraction and combustion of the buried products of ancient biospheres, threatens to return Earth to conditions which preceded the emergence of large mammals on land.

Figure 3. Pre-1978 changes in the CO₂-equivalent abundance and AGGI (Annual Greenhouse Gas Index). NOAA Global Monitoring Laboratory

The sharp glacial-interglacial oscillations of the Pleistocene (2.6 million to 10,000 years ago), with rapid mean global temperature changes of up to 5°C over a few millennia and abrupt stadials cooling events over a few years (Steffensen et al., 2008), required humans to develop an extreme adaptability, in particular mastering fire, a faculty no other species, perhaps with the exception of fire birds. Proceeding to manipulate the electromagnetic spectrum, split the atom and travel to other planets, a cultural evolution overtaking biological evolution, the power of sapiens appears to have gone out of control.

Humans have developed an absurd capacity to simultaneously create and destroy, culminating with the destruction of environments that allowed them to flourish in the first place. Possessed by a conscious fear of death and a craving for god-like immortality, there is no murderous obscenity some were not willing to perform, including the transfer of every accessible carbon molecule to the atmosphere.

Based on direct observations and the basic laws of physics, the life support systems of the biosphere are threatened by the rise of greenhouse gases and temperature by an average of more than 1.14°C since 1880, currently tracking toward 2°C. These values take little account of the masking effects of the transient mitigating effects of sulphate aerosols in the range of −0.3 to −1.8 Wm⁻², pushing mean global temperature to >1.5°C. Following the current acceleration (Figure 3), mean temperature could reach 2°C by 2030, 3°C by the 2050s and 4°C by 2100, inducing heat waves and major fires.

Figure 4. Jet Stream, summer, 1988, NASA. Increased undulation of the Arctic boundary zone, allowing penetration of cold air masses southward and warm air masses northward;

Overall warming of large ocean regions, reaching ~700 meter deep levels, reduces the ocean’s ability to absorb CO₂ while much of the gas is trapped in the atmosphere. As ocean heat contents rise oxygen is depleted and methane and hydrogen sulphide poisonous for marine life are produced. Models projecting global warming as a linear trajectory, outlined by the IPCC, take limited account of amplifying feedbacks and transient stadial cooling effects from the flow of ice melt water into near-polar oceans. As the circum-Arctic jet stream undulates and weakens (Figure 4), polar-ward shifts of climate zones (Figure 5) allow penetration of warm air masses into the Arctic, manifested by heat waves and fires. Conversely, injection of cold air masses from the Arctic into mid-latitudes ensues in freezing fronts producing violent snow storms, the so-called “Beast from the East”.

Figure 5. The migration of the Sahara arid climate zone northward into southern Europe. Note the drying up of Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey and the increased in precipitation in Northern Europe.

As stated by Baronsky et al. (2013) in the paper “Approaching a state shift in Earth's biosphere”: “Localized ecological systems are known to shift abruptly and irreversibly from one state to another when they are forced across critical thresholds. Here we review evidence that the global ecosystem as a whole can react in the same way and is approaching a planetary-scale critical transition as a result of human influence’’ and “Climates found at present on 10–48 % of the planet are projected to disappear within a century, and climates that contemporary organisms have never experienced are likely to cover 12–39 % of Earth. The mean global temperature by 2070 (or possibly a few decades earlier) will be higher than it has been since the human species evolved’’. Figure 6 outlines critical habitats and species involved in the transition.

Figure 6. Summary of major biodiversity-related environmental-change categories expressed as a percentage of human-driven change (in red) relative to baseline (blue); Corey J. A. Bradshaw; Paul R. Ehrlich; Andrew Beattie; et al. (13 January 2021). - “Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future”, in Frontiers in Conservation Science, volume 1, 13 January 2021. Red indicates the percentage of the category that is damaged, lost, or otherwise affected, whereas blue indicates the percentage that is intact, remaining, or otherwise unaffected.

As $trillions are invested in future wars, who or what will defend life on Earth?

Andrew Glikson
A/Prof. Andrew Glikson

Earth and Paleo-climate scientist
School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences
The University of New South Wales,
Kensington NSW 2052 Australia

The Asteroid Impact Connection of Planetary Evolution
The Archaean: Geological and Geochemical Windows into the Early Earth
Climate, Fire and Human Evolution: The Deep Time Dimensions of the Anthropocene
The Plutocene: Blueprints for a Post-Anthropocene Greenhouse Earth
Evolution of the Atmosphere, Fire and the Anthropocene Climate Event Horizon
From Stars to Brains: Milestones in the Planetary Evolution of Life and Intelligence
Asteroids Impacts, Crustal Evolution and Related Mineral Systems with Special Reference to Australia
The Event Horizon: Homo Prometheus and the Climate Catastrophe
The Fatal Species: From Warlike Primates to Planetary Mass Extinction


Monday, December 6, 2021

Planetary Extinction due to Arctic Atmospheric Methane Veil

 by Malcolm Light

Below is Malcolm Light's Arctic methane growth diagram, updated in line with recent mean atmospheric methane concentrations and temperature data. 

[ click on images to enlarge ]

NOAA mean globally-averaged marine surface data show high increases in methane levels recently, which were used to generate the trends and curves to the year 2030 in above image.

[ from earlier post ]
NASA temperature data as adjusted by Sam Carana on the right show the potential for a mean temperature anomaly from pre-industrial of 3°C anomaly to occur late in 2022 (blue trend). By extension, a 4°C anomaly could occur in late 2023 and a 5°C anomaly in late 2024. 

Above data was used to determine a trend line for exponentially increasing atmospheric methane increase, as well as where along the trend lines the surface atmospheric temperature anomalies would occur.

A surface atmospheric temperature anomaly of 10°C was recorded in France in the summer of 2020 (Copernicus 2020) with the overlying methane global veil giving a concentration of 2008 ppb. In this case the Global Warming is only partly caused by the methane (about 85.5%) and the rest by the concentration of other greenhouse gases.

It seems that we only have a very short time left until total Planetary Extinction due to the Arctic Atmospheric Methane Global Warming Veil. It is now clear that we do not have time to extract the methane from the subsea Arctic methane reserves, because we are so close to total extinction in 3 years.

The blue color on the map on the right indicates depth (see scale underneath).

The image below, by Malcolm Light and based on Max & Lowrie (1993), from a recent post, shows vulnerable Arctic Ocean slope and deep water methane hydrates zones below 300 m depth. 

Malcolm Light indicates three areas: 
Area 1. Methane hydrates on the slope; 
Area 2. Methane hydrates on the abyssal plane; 
Area 3. Methane hydrates associated with the spreading Gakkel Ridge hydro-thermal activity (the Gakkel Riidge runs in between the northern tip of Greenland and the Laptev Sea).

In addition, huge amounts of methane are contained in sediments at the bottom of the shallow parts of the Arctic Ocean, in particular the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS). Dr. Natalia Shakova warned in 2008 that some 50Gt of carbon in the form of methane can be released at any moment from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf alone, because of the high temperature of the invading Atlantic (Gulf Stream) waters. This threatens to cause a 10°C surface atmospheric temperature increase leading to Global Extinction. 

The cataclysmic weather events occurring worldwide including giant droughts and city-destroying fires, floods and summer and winter storm systems have already devastated Canada and the United States.

From the sharp increase in catastrophic weather events, it is obvious that ‘Mother Earth’ has correctly identified the North American continent as the source of its gigantic pollution problems. Extreme Fossil Fuel pollution from the United States and Canada has previously heated up the Gulf Stream which flows north into the Arctic Ocean as the Svalbard current, where it is now destabilizing the shelf methane hydrates in the Laptev Sea and on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. 

The image below illustrates that huge amounts of heat are entering the Arctic Ocean, driven by ocean currents and temperature differences. 

[ from earlier post ]


• NOAA - Trends in Atmospheric Methane

• Human Extinction by 2022?

• Arctic Ocean invaded by hot, salty water

• Max, M.D. & Lowrie, A. 1993. Natural gas hydrates: Arctic and Nordic Sea potential. In: Vorren, T.O., Bergsager, E., Dahl-Stamnes, A., Holter, E., Johansen, B., Lie, E. & Lund, T.B. Arctic Geology and Petroleum Potential, Proceedings of the Norwegian Petroleum Society Conference, 15-17 August 1990, Tromso, Norway. Norwegian Petroleum Society (NPF), Special Publication 2 Elsevier, Amsterdam, 27-53.

• Extinction by 2027- by Malcolm Light

• Anomalies of methane in the atmosphere over the East Siberian shelf: Is there any sign of methane leakage from shallow shelf hydrates? - by Shakhova, Semiletov, Salyuk and Kosmach (2008)

• Will humans be extinct by 2026? - An exploration of the potential, by Sam Carana

• WARNING - Planetary Omnicide between 2023 and 2031 - by Malcolm Light