Showing posts with label Canada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Canada. Show all posts

Monday, May 2, 2016

Wildfire Danger Increasing

Wildfires are starting to break out in British Columbia, Canada. The wildfire on the image below started on May 1, 2016 (hat tip to Hubert Bułgajewski‎).

The coordinates of the wildfire are in the bottom left corner of above map. They show a location where, on May 3, 2016, it was 26.0°C (or 78.8°F). At a nearby location, it was 27.6°C (or 81.8°F) on May 3, 2016. Both locations are indicated on the map on the right.

These locations are on the path followed by the Mackenzie River, which ends up in the Arctic Ocean. Wildfires aggravate heat waves as they blacken the soil with soot. As the Mackenzie River heats up, it will bring warmer water into the Arctic Ocean where this will speed up melting of the sea ice.

Moreover, winds can carry soot high up into the Arctic, where it can settle on the sea ice and darken the surface, which will make that more sunlight gets absorbed, rather than reflected back into space as before.

The danger of wildfires increases as temperatures rise. The image on the right show that temperatures in this area on May 3, 2016 (00:00 UTC) were at the top end of the scale, i.e. 20°C or 36°F warmer than 1979-2000 temperatures.

Extreme weather is becoming increasingly common, as changes are taking place to the jet stream. As the Arctic warms up more rapidly than the rest of the world, the temperature difference between the Equator and the North Pole decreases, which in turn weakens the speed at which the north polar jet stream circumnavigates the globe.

This is illustrated by the wavy patterns of the jet stream in the image on the right, showing the situation on May 3, 2016 (00:00 UTC), with a loop bringing warm air high up into North America and into the Arctic.

In conclusion, warm air reaching high latitudes is causing the sea ice to melt in a number of ways:
  • Warm air makes the ice melt directly. 
  • Warmer water in rivers warms up the Arctic Ocean. 
  • Wildfires blacken land and sea ice, causing more sunlight to be absorbed, rather than reflected back into space as before.  
[ click on images to enlarge ]
The situation doesn't appear to be improving soon, as illustrated by the image on the right. Following the record high temperatures that hit the world earlier this year, the outlook for the sea ice looks bleak.

Further decline of the snow and ice cover in the Arctic looks set to make a number of feedbacks kick in stronger, with methane releases from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean looming as a huge danger.

NSIDC scientist Andrew Slater has created the chart below of freezing degree days in 2016 compared to other years at Latitude 80°N. See Andrew's website and this page for more on this.
Below is a comparison of temperatures and emissions for the two locations discussed above. Such fires are becoming increasingly common as temperatures rise, and they can cause release of huge amounts of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, sulfur dioxide, soot, etc.

May 3, 2016, at a location north of Fort St John, British Columbia, Canada.
May 4, 2016, near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada.
The video below shows methane levels (in parts per billion or ppb) on May 3, 2016, pm, starting at 44,690 ft or 13,621 m and coming down to 5,095 ft or 1,553 m altitude. In magenta-colored areas, methane is above 1950 ppb.

In the video below, Paul Beckwith discusses the situation.

Wildfires are also devastating other parts of the Earth. Below is an image showing wildfires over the Amur River on May 7, 2016.

The image below shows carbon monoxide levels over the Amur River as high as 22,480 ppb on May 9, 2016. Hat tip to Grofu Antoniu for pointing at the CO levels. According to this Sputniknews report, a state of emergency was declared in the Amur Region as fires stretched across 12,200 acres.

The video below shows carbon monoxide emissions in eastern Asia from May 1 to May 26, 2016.

Meanwhile, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has resumed daily sea ice extent updates with provisional data. The image below is dated May 5, 2016, check here for updates.

As illustrated by the image below, from JAXA, sea ice extent on May 6, 2016, was under 12 million square km, more than 15 days ahead on extent in the year 2012, which was 12 million square km on May 21, 2012.

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

Malcolm Light comments:

Most natural processes on the Earth are run by convection including plate tectonics that moves the continental and oceanic plates across the surface of the planet. Mother Earth has been able to hold its atmospheric temperature within certain limits and maintain an ocean for more than 3 billion years because each time there was a build up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which produced a global fever, Mother Earth it eliminated the living creatures with a massive Arctic methane firestorm that fried them alive. This giant Arctic methane firestorm is a natural antibiotic the Earth uses to rid itself of those creatures that have overproduced carbon dioxide and caused a global fever.

Essentially mankind has again caused a massive build up of fossil fuel carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and Mother Earth has already started to respond with the predicted massive Arctic methane blow out (since 2010) which will lead to an Earth engulfing firestorm in 5 to 8 years.

The giant fires in the Fort McMurray region are a result of atmospheric methane induced heating of the Arctic and 93.5% global warming of the oceans that has generated a massive El Nino event this year. Hot winds moving away from these high pressure areas have generated high temperatures and massive fires in Alberta which is a giant fever spot on Earth where mankind has produced the maximum amount of dirty fossil fuel extraction and pollution in Canada.

Mother Earth will continue to respond more vigorously with her Arctic methane antibiotic to eliminate the humans from her system as we represent nothing more to her than a larger version of an influenza virus which has seriously retarded her oceanic and atmospheric temperature range functioning systems.

If we do not immediately stop fossil fuel extraction worldwide and control the Arctic methane emission sites we will all be stardust before a decade is past.


• The Threat of Wildfires in the North

• Smoke Blankets North America

Friday, July 18, 2014

Smoke Blankets North America

A thick layer of smoke blankets large parts of North America, as also illustrated by the animation below based on images from July 15 to 18, 2014, from

[ note that this animation is a 2.3MB file that may take some time to fully load ]
The are also extensive wildfires throughout the boreal forest and tundra zones of Central Siberia in Russia.

Such wildfires can send huge amounts of carbon dioxide, methane, soot, dust and volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere. Much of this gets deposited at higher latitudes, discoloring land, snow and ice, and thus speeding up warming by absorbing more sunlight that was previously reflected back into space.

Soils at higher latitudes can contain huge amounts of carbon in the form of peat, as described in the earlier post The Threat of Wildfires in the North. There are further conditions that make the situation in the Arctic so dangerous.
Temperature anomaly March-April-May-June 2014 (JMA)

The Arctic is particularly vulnerable to warming due to geographics. Seas in the Arctic Ocean are often shallow and covered by sea ice that is disappearing rapidly. Largely surrounded by land that is also rapidly losing its snow and ice cover, the Arctic Ocean acts like a trap capturing heat carried in by the Gulf Stream, which brings in ever warmer water. Of all the heat trapped on Earth by greenhouse gases, 90% goes into oceans, while a large part of the remaining 10% goes into melting the snow and ice cover in the Arctic, as described in an earlier post. Such basic conditions make that the Arctic is prone to warming.

Then, there are huge amounts of methane held in sediments under the Arctic Ocean, in the form of hydrates and free gas. Unlike methane releases from biological sources elsewhere on Earth, methane can be released from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean in large quantities, in sudden eruptions that are concentrated in one area.

Until now, permafrost and the sea ice have acted as a seal, preventing heat from penetrating these methane hydrates and causing further destabilization. As long as there is ice, additional energy will go into melting the ice, and temperatures will not rise. The ice also acts as a glue, keeping the soil together and preventing hydrate destabilization from pressure changes and shockwaves resulting from seismic activity. Once the ice is gone, sediments become prone to destabilization and heat can more easily move down along fractures in the sediment, reaching hydrates that had until then remained stable.
Temperature anomaly March-April-May 2014 (NASA)
When methane escapes from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean and travels through waters that are only shallow, there is little opportunity for this methane to be broken down in the water, so a lot of it will enter the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean. The Coriolis effect will spread the methane sideways, but latitudes over the Arctic are relatively short, making the methane return at the same spot relatively quickly, while the polar jet stream acts as a barrier keeping much of the methane within the Arctic atmosphere. In case of large methane eruptions, the atmosphere over the Arctic will quickly become supersaturated with methane that has a huge initial local warming potential.

Hydroxyl levels in the atmosphere over the Arctic are very low, extending the lifetime of methane and other precursors of stratospheric ozone and water vapor, each of which have a strong short-term local warming potential. In June/July, insolation in the Arctic is higher than anywhere else on Earth, with the potential to quickly warm up shallow waters, making that heat can penetrate deep into sediments under the seafloor.

created by Sam Carana, part of AGU 2011 poster
The initial impact of this methane will be felt most severely in the Arctic itself, given the concentrated and abrupt nature of such releases, with the danger that even relatively small releases of methane from the seafloor of the Arctic can trigger further destabilization of hydrates and further methane releases, escalating into runaway warming.

This danger is depicted in the image on the right, showing how albedo changes and methane releases act as feedbacks that further accelerate warming in the Arctic, eventually spiraling into runaway global warming.

The currently very high sea surface temperature anomalies are illustrated by the two images below.

As the image below right shows, sea surface temperatures as high as 18 degrees Celsius (64.4 degrees Fahrenheit) are currently recorded in the Arctic.

Albedo changes and methane releases are only two out of numerous feedbacks that are accelerating warming in the Arctic.

Also included must be the fact that Earth is in a state of energy imbalance. Earth is receiving more heat from sunlight than it is emitting back into space. Over the past 50 years, the oceans have absorbed about 90% of the total heat added to the climate system, while the rest goes to melting sea and land ice, warming the land surface and warming and moistening the atmosphere.

In a 2005 paper, James Hansen et al. estimated that it would take 25 to 50 years for Earth’s surface temperature to reach 60% of its equilibrium response, in case there would be no further change of atmospheric composition. The authors added that the delay could be as short as ten years.

Earth's waters act as a buffer, delaying the rise in land surface temperatures that would otherwise occur, but this delay could be shortened. Much of that extra ocean heat may enter the atmosphere much sooner, e.g. as part of an El Niño event. Another buffer, Arctic sea ice, could collapse within years, as illustrated by the image below.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
The demise of sea ice comes with huge albedo changes, resulting in more heat getting absorbed by the Arctic Ocean, in turn speeding up warming of the often shallow waters of the Arctic Ocean. This threatens to make heat penetrate subsea sediments containing huge amounts of methane. Abrupt release of large amounts of methane would warm up the Arctic even more, triggering even further methane releases in a spiral of runaway warming.

Particularly worrying is the currently very warm water that is penetrating the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic Ocean and also from the Pacific Ocean, as illustrated by the image further above and the image on the right.

The danger is that the Arctic will warm rapidly with decline of the snow and ice cover that until now has acted as a buffer absorbing heat, with more sunlight gets absorbed due to albedo changes and as with additional emissions, particularly methane, resulting from accelerating warming in the Arctic.

The numerous feedbacks that accelerate warming in the Arctic are pictured in the image below.

[ from: ]
Furthermore, the necessary shift to clean energy will also remove the current masking effect of aerosols emitted when burning fuel. One study finds that a 35% – 80% cut in people's emission of aerosols and their precursors will result in about 1°C of additional global warming.

In the video below and the video further down below, Guy McPherson discusses Climate Change and Human Extinction.

This is further illustrated by the image below, showing how surface temperature rises are accelerating in the Arctic compared to global rises, with trendlines added including one for runaway global warming, from How many deaths could result from failure to act on climate change?
[ click on image to enlarge ]
The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as discussed at the Climate Plan blog.

Hat tip to Jim Kirkcaldy for pointing at the wildfire development at an early stage.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Wildfires in Canada affect the Arctic

created by Sam Carana with screenshot from
Wildfires can cause a lot of emissions. Obviously, when wood burns, carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere. Wildfires also cause further emissions, such as methane, soot and carbon monoxide. A large part of such emissions can be broken relatively quickly down by hydroxyl, but when large emissions take place, this can take a while. In other words, the lifetime of gases such as methane is extended, particularly in the Arctic where hydroxyl levels are already very low to start with.

Furthermore, the soot that is emitted by such wildfires can settle down on snow and ice, changing its albedo and thus contributing to the demise of the snow and ice cover. As the image shows, soot can be blown high up into the Arctic, depending on the direction of the wind.

Wildfires in Canada and Alaska have now been raging for quite some time. The above image dates back to late last month. Today's images can be quite similar, as illustrated by the two images below.

created by Sam Carana with screenshot from
created by Sam Carana with screenshot from
Smoke from wildfires can travel over quite long distances, as also evidenced by these NASA satellite images showing wildfire smoke crossing the Atlantic Ocean. The relation between wildfire smoke and methane concentrations is further illustrated by the image below.

methane levels July 5, 2013, over 1950 ppb in yellow in 6 layers from 718-840 mb
created by Sam Carana with - sea ice data by SSMIS
Below, a similar image showing methane on the afternoon of July 6, 2013.

methane levels July 6, 2013, over 1950 ppb in yellow, 7 layers from 469-586 mb
created by Sam Carana with - sea ice data by SSMIS
Below, a screenshot created with methanetracker, showing some methane still persisting on July 8, 2013.  On the right, the methane originating from the Quebec wildfires appears to have moved farther over the Atlantic Ocean, due to the Coriolis effect. The image also shows some worryingly high methane concentrations in spots above the Arctic sea ice. The spots north of Alaska were also examined in the video at Cruising for methane.

methane levels on the morning of July 8, 2013, over 1950 ppb in yellow, 10 layers from 545 to 742 mb
created by Sam Carana with
Below, a NASA satellite picture showing wildfires in Manitoba, Canada, captured by Terra satellite on June 29, 2013.

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team
In conclusion, while carbon pollution gets a lot of attention, the Arctic is also strongly affected by other emissions that can result from wildfires.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Open Letter to Canadian MPs

Paul Beckwith
Food is the new oil. Land is the new gold.

The world food situation is deteriorating. Grain stocks have dropped to a dangerously low level. The World Food Price Index has doubled in a decade. The ranks of the hungry are expanding. Political unrest is spreading.

On the demand side of the food equation, there will be 219,000 people at the dinner table tonight who were not there last night. And some 3 billion increasingly affluent people are moving up the food chain, consuming grain-intensive livestock and poultry products.

At the same time, water shortages and heat waves are making it more difficult for farmers to keep pace with demand. As grain-exporting countries ban exports to keep their food prices down, importing countries are panicking. In response, they are buying large tracts of land in other countries to grow food for themselves. The land rush is on.

Could food become the weak link for us as it was for so many earlier civilizations? This slideshow presentation, based on Lester Brown's latest book, Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity, explains why world food supplies are tightening and tells what we need to do about it.

My video clip filmed about 3 weeks ago on Parliament Hill explains the clear connections between crop failures/droughts/floods/extreme weather/sea ice/greenhouse gases/climate change...

This is my presentation on Parliament Hill (Center blog) a few months ago at the All-Party Climate Change Caucus meeting.

This is a longer version of the linkages between food shortages and declining sea ice.

Please let me know what your plan is to deal with this coming turmoil.
I look forward to your response.


Paul Beckwith (B.Eng. Engineering Physics, M.Sc. Physics, presently working on Ph.D. in climatology)