Thursday, July 6, 2023

Dire situation gets more dire every day

Conditions are dire

The world temperature was at a record high 17.23°C or 63.01°F on July 6, 2023 (black). The maximum temperature in 2022 (orange) and in 2016 (grey) was 16.92°C or 62.46°F (on July 24, 2022, and on August 13+14, 2016). The year 2016 is important, since there was a strong El Niño in 2016 and we're now again in an El Niño. 

As the image below adds, the 17.23°C temperature recorded on July 6, 2023, is a daily value, but if indicative for July 2023, the closest value for CMIP5 RCP8.5 would be 17.255°C, projected to occur in July 2035 (13 years away from now).

[ The international consortium Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP)
defines scenarios for use in climate projections. Its CMIP5 scenario (an average of
39 models of near-surface temperature and precipitation, and mean sea level pressure)
can be used in combination with Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP). ]

Why is the temperature rising so fast? 

The image below mentions a number of contributors, with charts added from an earlier post

[ click on images to enlarge ]

1. Emissions are high and greenhouse gas levels keep rising, increasing Earth's Energy Imbalance

2. We did come out of a La Niña that has for years been suppressing temperatures and we are now in an El Niño. A 2023 study led by Tao Lian predicts the current El Niño to be strong. 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 discussed in an earlier post. Temperature anomalies can be very high during an El Niño. The image below shows that February 2016 on land was 3.28°C (5.904°F) hotter than 1880-1896, and 3.68°C (6.624°F) hotter compared to February 1880 on land. Note that 1880-1896 is not pre-industrial, the rise will be even larger when using a genuinely pre-industrial base.
The above image, from an earlier post, adds a poignant punchline: Looking at global averages over long periods is a diversion, peak temperature rise is the killer!

[ click on images to enlarge ]
3. The June 2023 number of sunspots is more than twice as high as predicted, as illustrated by the image on the right, from an earlier post and adapted from NOAA. 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.

4. The January 2022 submarine volcano eruption near Tonga did add a huge amount of water vapor to the atmosphere, as discussed in an earlier post and also at facebook. Since water vapor is a potent greenhouse gas, this further contributes to speeding up the temperature rise. A 2023 study calculates that the eruption will have a warming effect of 0.12 Watts/m² over the next few years.

5. There are further things that contribute to the temperature rise, such as reductions of Sahara dust and of sulfur aerosols co-emitted with fossil fuel combustion that previously masked the temperature rise. 

The above points apply to the global temperature rise. The North Atlantic sea surface temperature is rising even stronger than the global rise, due to the following points:
  • The narrowing temperature difference between the Arctic and the Tropics is slowing down the flow of air from the Tropics to the Arctic, deforming the Jet Stream, and that can strongly prolong and amplify extreme weather events in the Northern Hemisphere, and result in stronger heating up of the North Atlantic.
  • This is also slowing down AMOC, causing more hot water to accumulate in the North Atlantic and to reach the Arctic Ocean, resulting in strong melting of sea ice from below and thus strong thinning.
  • Additionally, as temperatures rise, increased stratification further speeds up the sea surface temperature rise.
  • As the North Atlantic Ocean heats up and as cold air from the Arctic can more deeply descend over North America (due to Jet Stream deformation), the temperature difference between land and oceans widens, especially during the Northern Winter, and this can result in storms abruptly pushing strong wind along the path of the Gulf Stream, pushing ocean heat into the Arctic Ocean, with stronger evaporation occurring over the North Atlantic and with stronger precipitation (rain, snow, etc.) occurring further down the path of the Gulf Stream. This stronger evaporation cools the surface of the North Atlantic.
  • This cooling, together with cooling from increased meltwater, also results in formation of a cold freshwater lid on top of the North Atlantic, also because freshwater is less dense than saltwater.
  • This lid on top of the North Atlantic enables more hot water to flow underneath this lid into the Arctic Ocean, with the danger that more heat will reach sediments at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean and destabilize hydrates, resulting in eruption of huge amounts of methane.
  • This sea surface cooling has until now covered up the full extent of the rise in ocean heat in the North Atlantic, but - as illustrated by the image below - the continued rise in ocean heat now is overwhelming this cooling.
The image below shows that the North Atlantic sea surface temperature was 23.3°C on June 21, 2023 (on the black line), 0.9°C higher than the 22.4°C on June 21, 2022 (on the orange line). A record high of 24.9°C was reached on September 4, 2022, even while La Niña at the time was suppressing the temperature, whereas there now is an El Niño, so the outlook is grim.

[ from earlier post ]
Feedbacks and developments that make the outlook even more threatening

Globally, methane rose to 1924.99 ppb in December 2022. The image below has a polynomial trend added that is based on April 2018 to December 2022 NOAA global methane data and is pointing at 1200 ppm CO₂e (carbon dioxide equivalent) getting crossed in 2027. The Clouds Tipping Point, at 1200 ppm CO₂e, could be crossed and this on its own could result in a further rise of 8°C. This tipping point could be crossed as early as in 2027 due to forcing caused by the rise in methane alone. When further forcing is taken into account, this could happen even earlier than in 2027.
[ from earlier post ]
[ click on images to enlarge ]
On February 22, 2023, Antarctic sea ice area was only 1,050,708 km² in size, as discussed in an earlier post. Since that time, Antarctic sea ice has been growing at a much slower pace than in previous years. On July 4, 2023, Antarctic sea ice area was 9,385,739 km² in size, and sea ice has actually been falling in size recently, as illustrated by the Nico Sun image on the right. Less sea ice means that sunlight previously reflected back into space by the sea ice is now instead getting absorbed by the Southern Ocean, in a self-reinforcing feedback loop that results in further sea ice loss, in turn further speeding up the temperature rise and making the weather ever more extreme.

[ Two out of numerous feedbacks ]
This dire situation spells bad news regarding the temperature rise to come, the more so since, on top of these dire conditions, there are feedbacks and further developments that make the outlook even more threatening. 

A huge temperature rise could be triggered abruptly, due to a multitude of feedbacks and further developments that could strongly deteriorate the situation even further, such as by causing more water vapor to get added to the atmosphere, as discussed at Moistening Atmosphere and Extreme Heat Stress.

[ see the Extinction page ]
Changes in aerosols are discussed in earlier posts such as this post and this post. The upcoming temperature rise on land on the Northern Hemisphere could be so strong that much traffic, transport and industrial activity will grind to a halt, resulting in a reduction in cooling aerosols that are now masking the full wrath of global heating. These are mainly sulfates, but burning of fossil fuel and biomass also emits iron that currently helps photosynthesis of phytoplankton in oceans, as a 2022 study points out, and less iron means less drawdown of carbon dioxide. 

Without these emissions, the temperature is projected to rise strongly, while there could be an additional temperature rise due to an increase in warming aerosols and gases as a result of more biomass and waste burning and forest fires.

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 an additional rise of 0.6°C due to an increase in warming aerosols by 2026, as discussed in this post and earlier posts.

The image on the right indicates that the rise from pre-industrial to 2020 could be as much as 2.29°C. Earth's energy imbalance has grown since 2020, so the rise up to now may be even higher. 

Climate Tipping Points and further Events and Developments

The temperature could also be pushed up further due to reductions in the carbon sink on land. An earlier post mentions a study that found that the Amazon rainforest is no longer a sink, but has become a source, contributing to warming the planet instead; another study found that soil bacteria release CO₂ that was previously thought to remain trapped by iron; another study found that forest soil carbon does not increase with higher CO₂ levels; another study found that forests' long-term capacity to store carbon is dropping in regions with extreme annual fires; another earlier post discussed the Terrestrial Biosphere Temperature Tipping Point, coined in a study finding that at higher temperatures, respiration rates continue to rise in contrast to sharply declining rates of photosynthesis, which under business-as-usual emissions would nearly halve the land sink strength by as early as 2040.

This earlier post also discusses how CO₂ and heat taken up by oceans can be reduced. A 2021 study on oceans finds that, with increased stratification, heat from climate warming less effectively penetrates into the deep ocean, which contributes to further surface warming, while it also reduces the capability of the ocean to store carbon, exacerbating global surface warming. A 2022 study finds that ocean uptake of CO₂ from the atmosphere decreases as the Meridional Overturning Circulation slows down. An earlier analysis warns about growth of a layer of fresh water at the surface of the North Atlantic resulting in more ocean heat reaching the Arctic Ocean and the atmosphere over the Arctic, while a 2023 study finds that growth of a layer of fresh water decreases its alkalinity and thus its ability to take up CO₂, a feedback referred to as the Ocean Surface Tipping Point.

[ from Blue Ocean Event 2022? - click on images to enlarge ]
The above image depicts only one sequence of events, or one scenario out of many. Things may eventuate in different orders and occur simultaneously, i.e. instead of one domino tipping over the next one sequentially, many events may occur simultaneously and reinforce each other. Further events and developments could be added to the list, such as ocean stratification and stronger storms that can push large amounts of warm salty water into the Arctic Ocean.

While loss of Arctic sea ice and loss of Permafrost in Siberia and North America are often regarded as tipping points, Antarctic sea ice loss, and loss of the snow and ice cover on Greenland, on Antarctica and on mountaintops such as the Tibetan Plateau could also be seen as tipping points. Another five tipping points are: 


Altogether, the rise from pre-industrial to 2026 could be more than 18.44°C, while 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.

This should act as a warning that near-term human extinction could occur soon. In the video below, Guy McPherson discusses how fast humans could go extinct. 


The dire situation is getting more dire every day, calling for a Climate Emergency Declaration and implementation of comprehensive and effective action, as described in the Climate Plan with an update at Transforming Society.


• Climate Reanalyzer - World Daily 2-meter Air Temperature (90-90°N, 0-360°E)

• Climate Reanalyzer - CMIP5 RCP8.5 projection

• NOAA - Solar cycle sunspot number progression

• A Strong 2023/24 El Niño is Staged by Tropical Pacific Ocean Heat Content Buildup - by Tao Lian et al. (2023)

• NSIDC - National Snow and Ice Data Center

• NSIDC - Chartic interactive sea ice graph

• Cryosphere Computing - by Nico Sun

• Nullschool

• Climate Reanalyzer - sea ice based on NSIDC index V3

• NOAA - greenhouse gases - trends CH4 (methane)
• NOAA - Solar cycle progression

• NASA gistemp Monthly Mean Global Surface Temperature - Land Only

• NOAA - Annual Northern Hemisphere Land Temperature Anomalies 

• Tonga eruption increases chance of temporary surface temperature anomaly above 1.5 °C - by Stuart Jenkins et al. (2023)

• Moistening Atmosphere
• Albedo, latent heat, insolation and more

• Latent Heat

• Blue Ocean Event

• Methane keeps rising

• A huge temperature rise threatens to unfold soon

• The Clouds Feedback and the Clouds Tipping Point

• Human Extinction by 2025?

• 2020: Hottest Year On Record

• The Importance of Methane in Climate Change

• The underappreciated role of anthropogenic sources in atmospheric soluble iron flux to the Southern Ocean - by Mingxu Liu et al. (2022)

• How close are we to the temperature tipping point of the terrestrial biosphere? - by Katharyn Duffy et al. (2021)

• Overshoot or Omnicide? 

• Upper Ocean Temperatures Hit Record High in 2020 - by Lijing Cheng et al. (2021)

• Reduced CO₂ uptake and growing nutrient sequestration from slowing overturning circulation - by Yi Liu et al. (2022)

• Cold freshwater lid on North Atlantic
• Long-Term Slowdown of Ocean Carbon Uptake by Alkalinity Dynamics - by Megumi Chikamoto et al. (2023) 
• Ocean Surface Tipping Point Could Accelerate Climate Change

• When Will We Die?

• Edge of Extinction: Extinct - HOW FAST? - video by Guy McPherson

• Edge of Extinction: Destination Destruction - video by Guy McPherson

• Transforming Society

• Climate Emergency Declaration