Sunday, January 29, 2023

The global climate change suicide pact

 by Andrew Glikson

Despite of deceptively-claimed mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in parts of the world, ongoing burning of domestic and exported fossil fuels world-wide continues to change the composition of the atmosphere, enriching it in greenhouse gases by yet another ~2 ppm CO₂ (2022: 418.95 ppm; CH₄: 1915 ppb; N₂0: 337 ppb), reaching levels commensurate with those of the Miocene (23.03 to 5.333 Ma) at rise rates exceeding any in the geological record of the last 66 million years (Glikson, 2020) (Figure 1). 

Figure 1. Global 1880-2021 annual average temperatures (adapted by UCAR from ClimateCentral).

Since 1880 mean global temperatures rose at a rate of 0.08°C per decade, from 1981 by 0.18°C per decade and more when emitted aerosols are accounted for (Hansen et al., in Berwyn, 2022). According to Will Steffen, Australia’s leading climate scientist “there was already a chance we have triggered a global tipping cascade that would take us to a less habitable Hothouse Earth climate, regardless of whether we reduced emissions” (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Global mean temperature profile since 200 AD projected to beyond 2000 AD (Will Steffen)

Over a brief span of less than two centuries (Figure 1) anthropogenic reversal of the carbon cycle induced the emission of some 1.5 10¹² tonnes of CO₂ and an increased release of 150% more CH₄ from the crust, accumulated in sediments for hundreds of million years through photosynthesis and calcification, as well as from permafrost and oceans. Permeation of the atmosphere and the hydrosphere with the toxic residues of ancient plants and organisms, poisoning the biosphere, is leading to the Sixth mass extinction of species in the history of nature.

Following failed attempts to deny climate science, vested business and political interests are proceeding, with the support of many governments, to mine coal, sink oil wells and frack hydrocarbon gas, regardless of the consequences in term of global heating, sea level rise, inundation of islands and coastal zones, collapse of the permafrost, heat waves, floods, ocean acidification, migration of climate zones and dissemination of plastic particles, rendering the future of much of the biosphere uninhabitable.

Figure 3. Europe: Maximum extreme temperatures, July 17-23, 2002.

The progression of global warming is unlikely to be linear as the flow of cold ice melt water from Greenland and Antarctica glaciers would cool parts of the ocean and in part the continents (Figure 4), leading toward a stadial-type phenomenon, the classic case of which is symbolized by the Younger dryas cool period 12,900 to 11,700 years ago.

Figure 4. Projected transient stadial cooling events (Hansen et al., 2016)

National and international legal systems appear unable to restrict the saturation of the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, as governments preside over the worst calamity in natural history since the demise of the dinosaurs. Facing heatwaves (Figure 3), fires, floods and sea level rise, those responsible may in part remain oblivious to the magnitude of the consequences, waking up when it is too late.

There was a time when leaders fell on their sword when defeated in battle or lose their core beliefs, nowadays most not even resign their privileged positions to resist the existential danger posed to advanced life, including human civilization, preoccupied as nations are with preparations for nuclear wars.

It is long past time to declare a global climate and nuclear emergency.

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

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

A huge temperature rise threatens to unfold soon

A huge temperature rise threatens to unfold, as the already dire situation threatens to turn catastrophic due to the combined impact of a number of developments and feedbacks. 

The image below uses ERA5 data, with two trends added. The blue trend, based on 1940-2022 data, points at 3°C rise by 2044. The purple trend, based on 2008-2022 data, better reflects variables such as El Niño and sunspots, and shows that this could trigger a rise of as much as 3°C by 2025, as further discussed below. Note that anomalies are from 1850-1900, which isn't pre-industrial.

The upcoming El Niño

Temperatures are currently suppressed as we're in the depth of a persistent La Niña event. It is rare for a La Niña event to last as long as the current one does, as illustrated by the NASA image below and discussed in this NASA post. The blue line added in the image highlights an increase in peak ONI (strong El Niños) over the years. 

The above image was created using data up to September 2022. La Niña has since continued, as illustrated by the NOAA image on the right. NOAA adds that the dashed black line indicates that La Niña is expected to transition to ENSO-neutral during January-March 2023.

Chances are that we'll move into the next El Niño in the course of 2023. Moving from the bottom of a La Niña to the peak of a strong El Niño could make a difference of more than half a degree Celsius, as illustrated by the image below.

[ image adapted from NOAA ]
Joint impact of El Niño, sunspots and the volcano eruption near Tonga 

[ click on image to enlarge ]
An analysis in an earlier post warns that the rise in sunspots from May 2020 to July 2025 could make quite a difference, as the upcoming El Niño looks set to coincide with a high number of sunspots.

The current cycle of sunspots is forecast to reach a maximum in July 2025. Recent observations are higher than expected, as illustrated by the images on the right, adapted from NOAA, confirming a study mentioned in the earlier post that warns that the peak of this cycle could rival the top few since records began, which would further increase the difference.

Observed values for December 2022 are already very close to or above the maximum values that NOAA predicts will be reached in July 2025. If this trend continues, the rise in sunspots forcing from May 2020 to July 2025 may well make a difference of more than 0.25°C, a recent analysis found. 

A 2023 study calculates that the submarine volcano eruption near Tonga in January 2022, as also discussed at facebook, will have a warming effect of 0.12 Watts/m² over the next few years.

The joint impact of a strong El Niño, high sunspots and the volcano eruption near Tonga could make a difference of more than 0.87°C. This rise could trigger further developments and feedbacks that altogether could cause a temperature rise from pre-industrial of as much as 18.44°C by 2026, as illustrated by the image at the top and as discussed below.

As illustrated by the image below,  temperature anomalies on land can be very high, especially during El Niño events. In February 2016, during a strong El Niño, the land-only monthly anomaly from 1880-1920 was 2.95°C. Note that anomalies are from 1880-1920, which isn't pre-industrial.

Further developments and feedbacks 

A combination of further developments and feedbacks could cause a huge temperature rise. An example of this is the decline of the cryosphere, i.e. the global snow and ice cover.

Antarctic sea ice extent is currently at a record low for the time of year (see image on the right, adapted from NSIDC). 

Antarctic sea ice extent reached a record low on February 25, 2022, and Antarctic sea ice extent looks set to get even lower this year. The dangerous situation in Antarctica is discussed in more detail in a recent post

The currently very rapid decline in sea ice concentration around Antarctica is also illustrated by the animation of Climate Reanalyzer images on the right, showing Antarctic sea ice on November 16, November 29, December 15, 2022 and January 4, 2023.

Studies in Alaska and Greenland have found that submarine and ambient melting is substantially higher than previously thought.

Global sea ice extent is also at a record low for the time of year, as illustrated by the image below that shows that global sea ice extent was 16.67 million km² on January 5, 2023.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
As illustrated by the image on the right, adapted from NSIDC, Arctic sea ice extent was second lowest for the time of year on January 6, 2023.

Loss of sea ice results in loss of albedo and loss of the latent heat buffer that - when present - consumes ocean heat as the sea ice melts. These combined losses could result in a large additional temperature rise, while there are further contributors to the temperature rise, such as thawing of terrestrial permafrost and associated changes such as deformation of the Jet Stream, additional ocean heat moving into the Arctic from the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, and methane eruptions from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean.

A 2019 analysis concludes that the latent heat tipping point gets crossed when the sea surface temperature anomaly on the Northern Hemisphere gets higher than 1°C above 20th century's temperature and when there is little or no thick sea ice left. 

The latent heat tipping point in the Arctic was crossed in 2020, while ocean heat has kept rising since, despite La Niña conditions, as illustrated by the images above and below. 

Temperature anomalies were high over the Arctic Ocean in December 2022, as illustrated by the image below. 

Ominously, methane levels are very high over the Arctic, as illustrated by the Copernicus image below and as discussed in section 16 of the methane page and at the Climate Alert group

The image below shows methane recorded by the N20 satellite on January 18, 2023, pm at 487.2 mb reaching a peak of 2624 ppb. 

The animation below is made with images recorded by the Metop-B satellite on Jan.6, 2023 PM, showing methane at the highest end of the scale (magenta color) first (at low altitude) becoming visible predominantly over oceans and at higher latitudes North, and then gradually becoming also visible more spread out over the globe at higher altitude, while reaching its highest mean (of 1925 ppb) and peak (of 2708 ppb) at 399 mb. 

This indicates that methane is rising up from the Arctic Ocean, as also discussed at the methane page and at this post at facebook. 

The image below is from and shows a forecast for September 2023 of the 2-meter temperature anomaly in degrees Celsius and based on 1984-2009 model climatology. The anomalies are forecast to be very high for the Arctic Ocean, as well as for the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, which spells bad news for sea ice at both hemispheres.

Similarly, the image below shows a forecast for October 2023. 

There are many further developments and feedbacks that could additionally speed up the temperature rise, such as rising greenhouse gases (including water vapor), falling away of the aerosol masking effect, more biomass being burned for energy and an increase in forest and waste fires, as also discussed at the Aerosols page

As an earlier post mentions, the upcoming temperature rise on land on the Northern Hemisphere could be so high that it will cause much traffic, transport and industrial activity to grind to a halt, resulting in a reduction in aerosols that are currently masking the full wrath of global warming.

The image below shows dust as high as 9.1887 τ, i.e. light at 550 nm as a measurement of aerosol optical thickness due to dust aerosols, on January 23, 2023 01:00 UTC (at the green circle).

[ see the Extinction page ]
2023 study concludes that the amount of atmospheric desert dust has increased globally by about 55% since the mid-1800s, resulting in a net masking effect of −0.2 ± 0.5 W m⁻² for dust aerosols alone, more than climate models previously thought.

As discussed in an earlier post, the IPCC in AR6 estimates the aerosol ERF to be −1.3 W m⁻², adding that there has been an increase in the estimated magnitude of the total aerosol ERF relative to AR5. In AR6, the IPCC estimate for liquid water path (LWP, i.e., the vertically integrated cloud water) adjustment is 0.2 W m⁻², but a recent analysis found a forcing from LWP adjustment of −0.76 W m⁻², which would mean that the IPCC estimate of −1.3 W m⁻² should be changed to -2.26 W m⁻². When using a sensitivity of 1°C per W m⁻², this translates into an impact of -2.26°C and that doesn't even include the above-mentioned extra impact of dust. Furthermore, the IPCC's total for aerosols includes a net positive impact for warming aerosols such as black carbon, so the impact of cooling aerosols alone (without warming aerosols) will be even more negative.

The image on the right, from the extinction page, includes a potential rise of 1.9°C by 2026 as the sulfate cooling effect falls away and of 0.6°C due to an increase in warming aerosols by 2026.

In the video below, Guy McPherson discusses our predicament.

Final conclusions and reflections

It's important to avoid using terminology that may cause confusion. The image below shows some terms that may cause confusion (left), and terms that could be considered to be used instead (right).

As an example, it's better to avoid terms such as 'overshoot' and target', as illustrated by the image below.  

It's important to look at the bigger picture and recognize that these developments and feedbacks could jointly cause a temperature rise (from pre-industrial) of as much as 18.44°C by 2026, as discussed at the Extinction page. Also note that humans are likely to go extinct with a rise of 3°C, as illustrated by the image below, from an analysis discussed in an earlier post and underpinned by this post.

Earlier versions of the text in the image below were posted here and here

The situation is dire and threatens to turn catastrophic soon. The right thing to do now is to help avoid or delay the worst from happening, through action as described in the Climate Plan.


• Copernicus temperature

• NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Monthly Global Climate Report for October 2022, retrieved November 16, 2022

• Tonga volcano eruption raises ‘imminent’ risk of temporary 1.5C breach

• Tonga eruption increases chance of temporary surface temperature anomaly above 1.5 °C - by Stuart Jenkins et al.

• NSIDC - National Snow and Ice Data Center - Charctic Interactive Sea Ice Graph

• Climate Reanalyzer

• Meltwater Intrusions Reveal Mechanisms for Rapid Submarine Melt at a Tidewater Glacier - by Rebecca Jackson et al. (2019)

• Greenland’s Glaciers Might Be Melting 100 Times As Fast As Previously Thought (2022)

• An Improved and Observationally-Constrained Melt Rate Parameterization for Vertical Ice Fronts of Marine Terminating Glaciers - by Kirstin Schulz et al. (2022)

• National Institute of Polar Research, Japan

• NASA - GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (v4) - Global Maps

• NOAA - Climate at a Glance Global Time Series

• Critical Tipping Point Crossed In July 2019
• Another Year of Record Heat for the Oceans - by Lijing Cheng et al. 

• Copernicus - methane

• NOAA - methane MetOp-B satellite

• Methane - section 16. Methane rising from Arctic Ocean seafloor


• The upcoming El Nino and further events and developments

• Jet Stream

• Cold freshwater lid on North Atlantic

• Pre-industrial

• Invisible ship tracks show large cloud sensitivity to aerosol - by Peter Manhausen et al.

• Methane keeps rising

• Global warming in the pipeline - by James Hansen et al.

• Latent Heat

• Extinction

• When will we die?

• When will humans go extinct?