Saturday, March 18, 2023

Sea surface temperature at record high

As the above image shows, the daily sea surface temperature between 60°South and 60°North reached 21°C on March 16, 2023, the highest temperature in the NOAA record that started in 1981. 

This record high sea surface temperature comes as we're moving into an El Niño, as illustrated by the image on the right, adapted from NOAA.

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, adapted from NOAA.

Even more dangerous are sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic, which have been at record high for the time of year for some time, as illustrated by the image below. 

Around this time of year, North Atlantic sea surface temperatures are at their annual low, in line with changes in the seasons. Last year, North Atlantic sea surface temperatures reached a record high of 24.9°C in early September. 

On March 15, 2023, sea surface temperatures off the east coast of North America were as much as 13.8°C or 24.8°F higher than 1981-2011, as illustrated by the above image. Anomalies are also high in the Pacific, reflecting an upcoming El Niño. This spells bad news for Arctic sea ice, which typically reaches its lowest extent in September. 

The above Argo float compilation image illustrates the danger that a cold freshwater lid is forming on top of the North Atlantic.

[ Cold freshwater lid on North Atlantic (2020) ]
Stronger winds along the path of the Gulf Stream can at times speed up sea currents that travel underneath this cold freshwater lid over the North Atlantic. As a result, huge amounts of warm, salty water can travel from the Atlantic Ocean toward the Arctic Ocean, abruptly pushing up temperatures and salinity levels at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean.

The above Argo float image illustrates the danger that heat can reach the seafloor. North of Norway, where the water is less than 400 m deep, temperatures higher than 5°C show up throughout the vertical water column, over a period from May 31, 2022, to March 16, 2023. 

The panel on the left of the above image, from an earlier post, shows sea surface temperatures on June 20, 2020, while the panel on the right shows a bathymetry map indicating that the sea in a large part of the Arctic Ocean is very shallow.

The above map shows the thickness of Northern Hemisphere permafrost on land and below the seabed.

The above image describes how methane can escape from the permafrost and the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. 

The danger of destabilization of methane hydrates is especially large where methane is present in submarine permafrost and seas are shallow, such as the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS, see image below).

The above image was created with content from a paper by Natalia Shakhova et al., from an earlier post.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
As illustrated by above compilation image, both the volume and extent of Arctic sea ice are low for the time of year. 

The danger is that, with further melting of sea ice and thawing of permafrost, the Arctic Ocean will receive more heat from direct sunlight, more heat from rivers, more heat from heatwaves and more ocean heat from the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, resulting in destabilization of methane hydrates at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean leading to explosive eruptions of methane, as its volume increases 160 to 180-fold when leaving the hydrates.

Latent heat loss, feedback #14 on the Feedbacks page


• Climate Reanalyzer - Daily sea surface temperatures

• NOAA - Climate Prediction Center - ENSO: Recent Evolution, Current Status and Predictions

• Nullschool

• NOAA - Monthly Temperature Anomalies Versus El Niño

• NSIDC - Chartic interactive sea ice graph

• Polar Portal

• Argo Float 4903641

Saturday, March 11, 2023

We are now in the Suicene

The Holocene is the geological epoch that started approximately 11,650 years ago. The demarcation point between the Holocene and the preceding Pleistocene is the end of the last Glacial Period, in line with variations in the Earth's orbit. 


Instead of going down as would be in line with changes in the Earth's orbit, temperatures and greenhouse gas levels over the past few thousands of years have kept going up as a result of activities by people. In other words, changes in the Earth's orbit were no longer the dominant force causing changes in temperature and greenhouse gas levels, instead, human activities had become more dominant. 

Start of the Anthropocene

It makes sense to name an epoch after the dominant force shaping its climate. An earlier analysis concludes that, from the year 3480 BC, emissions by people have been higher than the amount it takes to negate the natural trend for the temperature to fall. From 3480 BC, forcing due to activities by people was stronger than the natural fall in temperature that would have eventuated in the absence of such activities. This makes the year 3480 BC most significant as a climate marker, and it makes sense to regard this both as the base for the temperature rise from pre-industrial and as the start of the Anthropocene. 

End of the Anthropocene

At the Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, nations pledged to limit the temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, with efforts taken to limit it to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The image below illustrates that, despite these pledges, these thresholds may already have been crossed. 

[ from earlier post, click on images to enlarge ]

The earlier analysis concludes that the rise from pre-industrial to 2020 could be as much as 2.29°C, which would mean that the thresholds set at the Paris Agreement have already been crossed and the rise from pre-industrial may well exceed 3°C soon, in turn effectively making 3°C the (new) threshold that should not be crossed, the more so since humans will likely go extinct with a 3°C rise, as illustrated by the image below, from an analysis discussed in an earlier post.

Humans are now functionally extinct
  1. The situation is dire in many respects, including poor conditions of sea ice, levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, extreme weather causing droughts, flooding and storms, land suffering from deforestation, desertification, groundwater depletion and increased salinity, and oceans suffering from ocean heat, oxygen depletion, acidification, stratification, etc. These are the conditions that we're already in now. 

  2. On top of that, the outlook over the next few years is grim. Circumstances are making the situation even more dire, such as the emerging El Niño, a high peak in sunspots, the Tonga eruption that added a huge amount of water vapor to the atmosphere. Climate models often average out such circumstances, but over the next few years the peaks just seem to be piling up, while the world keeps expanding fossil fuel use and associated infrastructure that increases the Urban Heat Island Effect.

  3. As a result, feedbacks look set to kick in with ever greater ferocity, while developments such as crossing of tipping points could take place with the potential to drive humans (and many other species) into extinction wirhin years. The temperature on land on the Northern Hemisphere may rise so strongly that much traffic, transport and industrial activity could suddenly grind to a halt, resulting in a reduction in cooling aerosols that are now masking the full wrath of global heating. Temperatures could additionally rise due to an increase in warming aerosols and gases as a result of more biomass and waste burning and forest fires.

  4. As a final straw breaking the camel's back, the world keeps appointing omnicidal maniacs who act in conflict with best-available scientific analysis including warnings that humans will likely go fully extinct with a 3°C rise.

The Suicine

As we keep appointing omnicidal maniacs who act in conflict with best-available scientific analysis, we are now facing a temperature rise that looks set to drive humans into extinction. Humans are now functionally extinct, and another name change is in order. Indeed, we are now in the Suicene. 


In conclusion, we have left the Anthropocene. We are now functionally extinct and we look set to drag most, if not all life on Earth into extinction with us, as we keep appointing omnicidal maniacs who act in conflict with best-available scientific analysis. We are now in the Suicene.

In the video below, Sandy discusses the situation.