Showing posts with label Malcolm Light. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Malcolm Light. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Arctic Sea Ice Gone By September 2019?

Record low Arctic sea ice extent for the time of year

Arctic sea ice minimum extent typically occurs about half September. In 2012, minimum extent was reached on September 17, 2012, when extent was 3.387 million km².

On July 28, 2019, Arctic sea ice extent was 6.576 million km². How much extent do you think there will be by September 17, 2019? From July 28, 2019, to September 17, 2019, that's a period of 52 days during which a lot of melting can occur. Could there be a Blue Ocean Event in 2019, with virtually all sea ice disappearing in the Arctic?

Consider this. Extent was 6.926 million km² on September 17, 1989. Extent was 3.387 million km² on September 17, 2012, so 3.539 million km² had disappeared in 23 years. Over those years, more ice extent disappeared than what was left on September 17, 2012.

The question is how much sea ice extent will be left when it will reach its minimum this year, i.e. in September 2019. The red dashed line on the image at the top continues the path of the recent fall in sea ice extent, pointing at zero Arctic sea ice extent in September 2019. Progress is followed at this post.

Zero Arctic sea ice in 2019

Zero Arctic sea ice in 2019 sounds alarming, and there is good reason to be alarmed.

Above map shows temperatures on Greenland on July 31, 2019, with temperatures at one location as high as 23.2°C or 73.8°F and at another location - in the north - as high as 14.2°C or 57.6°F.

The map on the right shows sea surface temperature anomalies compared to 1961-1990 as on July 29, 2019. Note the high anomalies in the areas where the sea ice did disappear during the past few months. The reason for these high anomalies is that the buffer has disappeared that previously had kept consuming heat in the process of melting.

Where that buffer is gone, the heat has to go somewhere else, so it will be absorbed by the water and it will also speed up heating of the atmosphere over the Arctic.

Sea ice melting is accelerating for a number of reasons:
  • Ocean Heat - Much of the melting of the sea ice occurs from below and is caused by heat arriving in the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. 
  • Direct Sunlight - Hot air will melt the ice from above and this kind of melting can increase strongly due to changing wind patterns. 
  • Rivers - Heatwaves over land can extend over the Arctic Ocean and they also heat up river water flowing into the Arctic Ocean.
  • Fires - Changing wind patterns can also increase the intensity and duration of such heatwaves that can also come with fires resulting in huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, thus further speeding up the temperature rise, and also resulting in huge emissions of soot that, when settling on sea ice, speeds up melting (see images below). 
  • Numerous feedbacks will further speed up melting. Heating is changing the texture of the sea ice at the top and is making melt pools appear, both of which cause darkening of the surface. Some further feedbacks, i.e. storms and clouds are discussed below in more detail. 

Above combination image shows smoke from fires in Siberia getting pushed over the Laptev Sea on August 11, 2019, due to cyclonic winds over the Arctic Ocean. This was also discussed in an earlier post. The image below shows the situation on August 12, 2019.

The image below shows the situation on August 14, 2019.

In the video below, Paul Beckwith discusses the situation.

In the video below, Paul Beckwith discusses the heating impact of albedo loss due to Arctic sea ice loss, including the calculations in a recent paper.

As the Arctic is heating up faster than the rest of the world, it is also more strongly affected by the resulting extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, fires, strong winds, rain and hail storms, and such events can strongly speed up the melting of the sea ice.

All around Greenland, sea ice has now virtually disappeared. This is the more alarming considering that the thickest sea ice was once located north of Greenland. This indicates that the buffer is almost gone.

Why is disappearance of Arctic sea ice so important? Hand in hand with albedo loss as the sea ice disappears, there is loss of the buffer (feedbacks #1, #14 and more). As long as there is sea ice in the water, this sea ice will keep absorbing heat as it melts, so the temperature will not rise at the sea surface. The amount of energy absorbed by melting ice is as much as it takes to heat an equivalent mass of water from zero to 80°C.

Once the sea ice is gone, further heat must go elsewhere. This heat will raise the temperature of the water and will also make the atmosphere heat up faster.

Storms and Clouds

Storms: As temperatures in the Arctic are rising faster than at the Equator, the Jet Stream is changing, making it easier for warm air to enter the Arctic and for cold air to descend over continents that can thus become much colder than the oceans, and this stronger temperature difference fuels storms.

Clouds: More evaporation will occur as the sea ice disappears, thus further heating up the atmosphere (technically know as latent heat of vaporization).

In the video below, Paul Beckwith further discusses Arctic albedo change and clouds.

Disappearance of the sea ice causes more clouds to form over the Arctic. This on the one hand makes that more sunlight gets reflected back into space. On the other hand, this also make that less outward infrared radiation can escape into space. The net effect of more clouds is that they are likely cause further heating of the air over the Arctic Ocean (feedbacks #23 and #25).

More low-altitude clouds will reflect more sunlight back into space, and this occurs most during Summer when there is most sunshine over the Arctic. The image below, a forecast for August 17, 2019, shows rain over the Arctic. Indeed, more clouds in Summer can also mean rain, which can devastate sea ice, as discussed in an earlier post.

Regarding less outward radiation, the IPCC has long warned, e.g. in TAR, about a reduction in outgoing longwave radiation (OLR): "An increase in water vapour reduces the OLR only if it occurs at an altitude where the temperature is lower than the ground temperature, and the impact grows sharply as the temperature difference increases."

While reduction in OLR due to water vapor is occurring all year long, the impact is particularly felt in the Arctic in Winter when the air is much colder than the surface. In other words, less OLR makes Arctic sea ice thinner, especially in Winter.

The inflow of ocean heat into the Arctic Ocean can increase strongly as winds increase in intensity. Storms can push huge amounts of hot, salty water into the Arctic Ocean, as discussed earlier, such as in this post and this post. As also described at the extreme weather page, stronger storms in Winter will push more ocean heat from the Atlantic toward the Arctic Ocean, further contributing to Arctic sea ice thinning in Winter.

Seafloor Methane

[ The Buffer has gone, feedbacks #14 and #16 ]

As the buffer disappears that until now has consumed huge amounts of heat, the temperature of the water of the Arctic Ocean will rise even more rapidly, with the danger that further heat will reach methane hydrates at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, causing them to get destabilized and release huge amounts of methane (feedback #16).

Ominously, high methane levels were recorded at Barrow, Alaska, at the end of July 2019, as above image shows.

[ from an earlier post ]
And ominously, a mean global methane level as high as 1902 ppb was recorded by the MetOp-1 satellite in the afternoon of July 31, 2019, as above image shows.

As the image on the right shows, mean global levels of methane (CH₄) have risen much faster than carbon dioxide (CO₂) and nitrous oxide (N₂O), in 2017 reaching, respectively, 257%, 146% and 122% their 1750 levels.

Temperature Rise

Huge releases of seafloor methane alone could make marine stratus clouds disappear, as described in an earlier post, and this clouds feedback could cause a further 8°C global temperature rise.

Indeed, a rapid temperature rise of as much as 18°C could result by the year 2026 due to a combination of elements, including albedo changes, loss of sulfate cooling, and methane released from destabilizing hydrates contained in sediments at the seafloor of oceans.

[ from an earlier post ]

Below is Malcolm Light's updated Extinction Diagram.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as described in the Climate Plan.


• Climate Plan

• Smoke Covers Much Of Siberia

• Extreme Weather

• Albedo and more

• Radiative Heating of an Ice‐Free Arctic Ocean, by Kristina Pistone et al. (2019)

• High cloud coverage over melted areas dominates the impact of clouds on the albedo feedback in the Arctic, by Min He et al. (2019)

• ESD Reviews: Climate feedbacks in the Earth system and prospects for their evaluation, by Christoph Heinze et al. (2019)

• Contribution of sea ice albedo and insulation effects to Arctic amplification in the EC-Earth Pliocene simulation, by Jianqiu Zheng et al. (2019)

• Far-infrared surface emissivity and climate, by Daniel Feldman et al. (2014)

• Extreme Weather

• Feedbacks in the Arctic

• Rain Storms Devastate Arctic Ice And Glaciers

• A rise of 18°C or 32.4°F by 2026?

• As El Niño sets in, will global biodiversity collapse in 2019?

• Dangerous situation in Arctic

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

Monday, January 7, 2019


By Malcolm Light

Humanity is facing the final, western corporate capitalist, fossil fuel initiated, catastrophic Arctic methane hydrate destabilization and Permian style methane blowout - firestorm that will culminate in 1 to 4 years (2020 to 2023).

We will all be boiled alive like lobsters in a massively humid atmosphere and converted into stardust.

Recent data from the Arctic confirm an exponential rise in the temperature anomaly of the Arctic stratospheric methane which is now 65 degrees C above the normal, while it was only 20 degrees C above the normal, 6 to 8 years ago.

Using this data and the recent Piomas (2017) estimates of the minimum Arctic ice shelf volume it is now possible to estimate the timing of the Arctic - Permian style methane blowout firestorm more accurately and the events in the Figure 1. below and tabulated beneath it.

1. An Arctic blue oceanic event is possible in 2020 due to the fast rise in Summer temperatures (Piomas - Zhang and Rothrock, 2003, Wipneus, 2017, Carana, 2016)

2. The start of the Arctic Permian style methane blowout event can begin as early as July 15, 2020 at the end of Summer in the Northern Hemisphere if the Mean Yearly Global Warming Potential of Methane is used (119.3959 from Goddard Space Flight Centre Data, NASA 2012)

3. The Major Arctic Permian Style, Methane Blowout - Firestorm Event which will cause the release of some 50 Gt of methane from the Arctic shelf and slope (Shakhova, 2010), a 10 Degree Centigrade Rise in Mean Global Atmospheric Temperatures causing a Catastrophic Permian Style Global Extinction Event, is timed to begin on 4th September, 2021 using an Atmospheric Methane Global Warming Potential of 100. This is an end Summer event for the Northern Hemisphere.

4. There is a 95% Probability that the Arctic Ice Shelf will have Zero Volume by the 5th of September 2022 (Piomass - Zhang and Rothrock, 2003, Wipneus, 2017, Carana, 2016) which is an end Summer event and exactly one year after the Catastrophic Permian Style Global Extinction Event.

This indicates a total 12 month delay in the atmospheric heat being transferred to the tropical ocean currents (e.g the Gulf Stream) and then being conducted north to heat up the Svalbard current which then destabilizes the shelf and slope methane hydrates in the Arctic ocean releasing methane to the atmosphere.

The Goddard Space flight Centre Arctic shelf data (NASA 2012) indicate a 7 month delay in Summer ocean heating and the release of methane from the Arctic shelf and slope.

The Arctic ice shelf is being melted from below so the ocean needs to be heated first by the methane in the tropical stratosphere and this heat is then transferred by ocean current to the Arctic over at least 7 months. Ice also has a large latent heat of melting adding an additional several months to the delay time for the total Arctic ice shelf melt.

5. From the 24ᵗʰ of December 2022, Worldwide Catastrophic Weather Systems are now entirely controlled by the Arctic Atmospheric Global Warming Veil. The data is derived from the converging amplitude envelope of the 11 year moving average of the GISS maximum surface temperature anomalies from which the final mean convergence point being was determined (NASA GISS Data).

from Planetary Genocide - Ecocide between 2023 and 2031

The start date of the Permian style global extinction event may be only 18 to 19 months away. This says that you must complete your bucket list of unfulfilled dreams before July to August 2020. A bucket list is a list of unfulfilled actions you need to complete before you die ("kick the bucket").

Do not worry about dying as it comes to all of us in the end, only this time we will all be going together. The Earth will soon after this lose all its oceans and become "Venus Like".

Empathy is organic evolution's key to group survival in a uncaring inorganic universe. Enjoy yourselves and be excellent to each other in these last days and hours on the only remaining habitable planet in this solar system.


The Earth is a giant convecting planet, the underlying molten magma being heated by deep seated radioactivity and the oceans and atmosphere are its cooling radiator which allows the Earth the facility to vent this heat into open space (Windley, 1984; Allen and Allen, 1990). Mother Earth has carefully held the atmospheric temperature within a stable range necessary for oceans to exist for at least 4 billion years and nurtured the earliest bacteria to evolve into today's space faring humans (Calder, 1983).

The fouling up of the Earth's cooling radiator from Human emissions of greenhouse gases derived from fossil fuels will be counteracted by Mother Earth in her characteristic fashion by emitting vast volumes of deadly methane into the atmosphere from the Arctic regions. This will lead to the total extermination of all harmful biological species that produce greenhouse gases in the same way that Mother Earth did during the Permian and other extinction extinction events. In this case however we have totally tipped the balance with our extreme carbon dioxide and methane emissions so that there will be no chance of recovery for the Earth in this time frame, because the methane release will cause the oceans to begin boiling off between 115°C and 120°C (Severson, 2013) in 2080 and the Earth's atmosphere will have reached temperatures equivalent to those on Venus by 2096 (460°C to 467°C)(Wales, 2013; Moon Phases, 2013).

Mankind's greed for fossil fuels will have completely destroyed a magnificent beautiful blue planet and converted its atmosphere into a barren, stiflingly hot, carbon dioxide rich haze. The earth will have moved permanently out of the magical zone (Circumstellar habitable zone, Goldilocks zone) where life (some of it probably highly intelligent) also exists elsewhere in the myriad of other solar systems that are located within the far reaches of our Universe.

The power, prestige and massive economy of the United States has been built on cheap and abundant fossil fuels and Canada is now trying to do the same. The present end of the financial crisis and recovery of the U.S. economy will take us down the same fossil fuel driven road to catastrophe that the U.S. has followed before. Unless the United States, Canada reduce their extreme carbon footprints (per unit population), they will end up being found guilty of ecocide and genocide as the number of countries destroyed by the catastrophic weather systems continues to increase.

The United States and Canada with their expanding economies and their growing frenetic extraction of fossil fuels, using the most environmentally destructive methods possible (fracking and shale oil) as well as the population's total addiction to inefficient gas transport is leading our planet into suicide. We are like maniacal lemmings leaping to their deaths over a global warming cliff. What a final and futile legacy it will be for the leader of the free world to be remembered only in the log of some passing alien ship recording the loss of the Earth’s atmosphere and hydrosphere after 2080 due to human greed and absolute energy ineptitude.

The U.S. Government and Canada must ban all environmentally destructive methods of fossil fuel extraction such as fracking, extracting shale oil and coal and widespread construction of the now found to be faulty hydrocarbon pipeline systems. All Federal Government subsidies to fossil fuel corporations, for fossil fuel discovery and extraction must be immediately eliminated and the money spent solely on renewable energy development which will provide many jobs to the unemployed. All long and short range (high consumption) fossil fuel transport must be electrified and where the range is too large, electrical trains must be used instead of trucks for transport. All the major work for this conversion and railway construction can provide a new and growing set of jobs for the unemployed. Nuclear power stations must continue to be used and should be converted to the safe thorium energy system until the transition is complete.

The U.S. has to put itself on a war footing, recall its entire military forces and set them to work on the massive change over to renewable energy that the country needs to undertake, if it wishes to survive the fast approaching catastrophe. The enemy now is Mother Nature who has infinite power at her disposal and intends to take no prisoners in this very short, absolutely brutal, 30 to 40 year war she has begun. I cannot emphasise more, how serious humanity’s predicament is and what we should try to do to prevent our certain final destruction and extinction in the next 30 to 40 years if we continue down the present path we are following .

The above message was posted by Malcolm Light on January 7, 2019, with minor updates later in January 2019, and with Conclusions added from this post.

• Warning - Global Omnicide

• Poster created for Geophysical Congress on methane hydrates, earthquakes and global warming, Nice, France, 2002, by Malcolm Light and Carmen Solana

• One Step to Accept our Short Term Extinction, by Wolfgang Werminghausen

In the video below, recorded January 5, 2019, Guy McPherson talks with Jamen Shively and Michael about extinction.

• Co-extinctions annihilate planetary life during extreme environmental change, by Giovanni Strona and Corey Bradshaw (2018)

• As El Niño sets in, will global biodiversity collapse in 2019?

Aaron Franklin comments:

Malcolm may be being too conservative. The Arctic has spat out the freshwater lid that allows sea ice to exist, and this may all kick off in September this year.

Biggest near term danger is to coastal communities, should the Greenland and/or Antarctic Ice sheets cascade collapse. They are poised to do this and it could produce worldwide megatsunami and 30m sea level rise in months of fast paced action. Good news is that flooding the north Atlantic and Arctic with huge icebergs of ice sheet origin should plug the methane dyke and stop the oceans being boiled. If we have enough tech capacity as after the cataclysm we can easily steer away from that cliff in the century or two grace a dryas event will afford us.

Get inland, and on high ground now! Unless you'd rather drown.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Action must be taken now

Some of the world's most preeminent climate scientists, all experts with many decades of experience in their respective field, are warning that effective action must be taken now to avoid catastrophe.

These scientists, and many others, have made valuable and much-appreciated contributions to the Arctic-news blog over the years [note: contributors each express their own views in posts and may or may not endorse other content of this blog].

Sam Carana, editor of this blog, has for years supported the calls of these scientists, also discussing and sharing their calls at facebook groups such as Arctic-News, Electric TransportRenewables and Climate Alert.

Furthermore, Sam Carana has called for specific action for years, including support for biochar, preferably through feebates. More specifically, Sam Carana recommends that revenues raised from fees imposed on sales of livestock products, nitrogen fertilizers and Portland cement are used to fund support for soil supplements, as illustrated by above image. For more on biochar, see this blog and this facebook group.

For years, Sam Carana has also called for more R&D in specific areas of geo-engineering. For more on this, see this blog and this facebook group.

More generally, Sam Carana advocates the Climate Plan, which calls for a global commitment to parallel lines of action while seeking to delegate implementation to local communities, preferably through effective policies such as local feebates.

This blog has had some success in spreading this message. To date, Sam Carana has received 82,327,368 views at Google plus (see screenshot on the right), while this blog has received 3,255,445 views (see update of views in the panel further on the right).

Your continued support is needed to share this message, so please join one or more of the above-mentioned groups, and share and like the images of this post in emails, on facebook and other social media.

Regarding the urgency to act, the images below give an update on the terrifying situation in the Arctic, where the sea ice is disappearing fast.

The decline of the snow and ice cover in the Arctic goes hand in hand with rising sea surface temperatures that contribute to sea ice getting ever thinner.

The image on the right show Arctic sea ice on September 1, 2016, with thickness in meters.

The warming of the oceans is illustrated by the images below.

The image directly below shows sea surface temperature (left) and anomalies compared to 1981-2011 (right).

The image below also shows sea surface temperature anomalies, this time compared to 1971-2000.

Global warming has hit the Arctic particularly hard over the past 365 days, with anomalies exceeding the top end of the scale over most of the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the image below.

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

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, October 30, 2015

Methane Vent Hole In Arctic Sea Ice?

Methane vent hole in the ice?

In October 2015, an area appeared in the Arctic sea ice where the temperature of the ice was a few degrees Celsius higher and where ice concentration and salinity levels were substantially lower than the surrounding ice. The image below pictures the situation on October 11, 2015.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
Could this have been an iceberg? If so, ice concentration should have been higher, rather than lower. More likely is that this is a vent hole with methane rising through cracks in the sea ice.

Malcolm Light comments: "The whole of the Arctic seabed is covered with methane hydrates and NASA satellites should have long ago defined where the major plumes were coming out. It is clearly a surface methane vent hole in the ocean ice analogous to the large methane vent holes that appeared all over northern Siberia this year. It means we have overheated the Arctic seafloor to the extent where the methane hydrates are now unstable and we could have further major releases at any time. We have already lit the fuse on a giant methane subsea permafrost bomb in the Arctic which can go off at any moment."

Roger Caldwell responds: "I think it's upwelling warm water. There is a ridge right below the spot. I can see warm spots through the ice on the nullschool program. The warm water comes through the Bering Strait and sinks to the mid levels. When it gets to the ridge it flows upward, making a temporary polynya."

The image below shows warm water entering the Arctic Ocean from the Pacific Ocean (through the Bering Strait) and the Atlantic Ocean, with the dark-red color of many areas in the Arctic Ocean indicating warm waters, including an area close to the North Pole marked by the red circle. So, the spot could indeed be a polynya caused by upwelling of warm water. Alternatively to the Pacific Ocean, the warm water could have originated from the Atlantic Ocean. In the Fram Strait, near Svalbard, sea surface temperatures as high as 11.9°C or 53.5°F were recorded on October 28, 2015, i.e. 9.6°C or 17.2°F warmer than 1981-2011 (at the location marked by the green circle).

[ click on image to enlarge ]
Of course, with water this warm reaching the center of the Arctic Ocean, the threat that this will cause (further) destabilization of methane hydrates at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean is equally ominous. The more recent image below shows warm waters in the Arctic Ocean in a different way, partly because the anomaly is calculated from the period 1961 to 1990.

The image below shows that sea surface temperatures as high as 12°C or 53.5°F were recorded near Svalbard on October 31, 2015, i.e. 9.7°C or 17.4°F warmer than 1981-2011 (at the location marked by the green circle).

[ click on image to enlarge ]
On the image below, Malcolm Light added the Gakkel Ridge, i.e. the fault line that extends on the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean from the northern tip of Greenland to Siberia (red line), and the location of explosive volcanoes (lilac spot), with content from Sohn et al., 2008.

A zone of increased heat near the North Pole which may be related to large quantities of gas released from a group of extremely pyroclastic carbon dioxide-rich volcanoes located at the Gakkel Ridge 
The table below shows the height that emerging carbon dioxide plumes can be expected to reach for a given carbon dioxide volume fraction in the foam at the top of a magma chamber.

Malcolm Light adds:
"Sohn et al. (2007) outlined how the sequence of extreme pyroclastic eruptions occur along the Gakkel Ridge (85°E volcanoes) at an ultra-slow plate spreading rate (<15-20 mm/year). These volcanoes formed from the explosive eruption of gas-rich magmatic foams. Long intervals between eruptions with slow spreading caused huge gas (volatile) build up high storage pressures, deep in the crust. 

Extension of the 85°E seismic swarm occurred over 3 months but later earthquakes were caused by large implosions from the explosive discharge of pressurized magmatic foam from a deep-lying magma chamber through the fractured chamber roof which rapidly accelerated vertically, expanded and decompressed. There were many periods of widespread explosive gas discharge from 1999 over two years detected by small-magnitude sound signals from seismic networks on the ice. 

Pyroclastic rocks contain bubble wall fragments and were widely distributed over an area of more than 10 square km. Deep fragmentation was caused by the accumulation of a gas (volatile) foam within the magma chamber which then fractured, formed a pyroclastic fountain 1-2 km high in the Arctic Ocean and spread the pyroclastic material over a region whose size was proportional to the depth of the magma chamber (see above table). A volatile carbon dioxide content of 14% (Wt./Wt. - volume fraction 75%) is necessary at 4 km depth in the Arctic Ocean to fragment the erupting magma." 

As said, with water this warm reaching the center of the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the threat is that added heat from volcanic activity or pressure shocks from underwater earthquakes or landslides will trigger (further) destabilization of methane hydrates at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean.

Below follows some more background.


Naval Research Laboratory 30-day animations are added below for temperature, concentration, salinity and thickness of the sea ice. Click on each of them to view full versions.




[ click on animations to enlarge ]

Background on tectonic plates and faults

A major fault line crosses the Arctic Ocean, forming the boundary between two tectonic plates, the North American Plate and the Eurasian Plate. These plates slowly diverge, creating seismic tension along the fault line. From where the Mid-Atlantic ridge enters the Arctic Ocean, it is called the Gakkel Ridge. The fault continues as the Laptev Sea Rift, on to a transitional deformation zone in the Chersky Range in Siberia, then the Ulakhan Fault between the North American Plate and the Okhotsk Plate, and then continues as the Aleutian Trench to the end of the Queen Charlotte Fault system.

The situation in October 2013

High methane readings were recorded for a period of just over one day, October 19 - 20, 2013, as shown in the images below. Indicated in yellow are all methane readings of 1950 ppb and over.

To pointpoint more closely where methane is venting along the Laptev Sea Rift, the image below gives readings for October 20, 2013, pm, at just three altitudes (607 - 650 mb).

Satellite measurements recorded methane readings of up to 2411 ppb on October 20, 2013.

Methane venting in the Laptev Sea in 2005 and 2007

For further reference, large amounts of methane have been venting in the Laptev Sea area in previous years. Added below is an edited part of a previous post, Unfolding Climate Catastrophe.

In September 2005, extremely high concentrations of methane (over 8000 ppb, see image on the right) were measured in the atmospheric layer above the sea surface of the East Siberian Shelf, along with anomalously high concentrations of dissolved methane in the water column (up to 560 nM, or 12000% of super saturation).

The authors conclude: "Since the area of geological disjunctives (fault zones, tectonically and seismically active areas) within the Siberian Arctic shelf composes not less than 1-2% of the total area and area of open taliks (area of melt through permafrost), acting as a pathway for methane escape within the Siberian Arctic shelf reaches up to 5-10% of the total area, we consider release of up to 50 Gt of predicted amount of hydrate storage as highly possible for abrupt release at any time".

In 2007, concentrations of dissolved methane in the water column reached a level of over 5141 nM at a location in the Laptev Sea. For more background, see the previous post, Unfolding Climate Catastrophe.

Methane levels in October 2015

The image below shows high methane concentrations over the Arctic Ocean on October 11, 2015, pm, at 840 mb, i.e. relatively close to sea level.

The image below shows high levels of methane over the Arctic Ocean at higher altitude (469 mb) on October 28, 2015, pm, when methane levels were as high as 2345 ppb. 

Note that the above two images have different scales. The data are from different satellites. The video below shows images from the MetOp-2 satellite, October 31, 2015, p.m., at altitudes from 3,483 to 34,759 ft or about 1 to 11 km (241 - 892 mb).

Peak methane levels were as high as 2450 ppb on November 1, 2015.

Update: Warm Water in Arctic Ocean

On November 5, 2015, sea surface temperatures as high as 8.5°C or 47.3°F showed up in the Bering Strait, an anomaly of 6.6°C or 11.9°F, while sea surface temperatures as high as 14.4°C or 57.9°F showed up near Svalbard on November 5, 2015, a 12.2°C or 22°F anomaly. The situation is illustrated by the image below.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
These high temperatures indicate that the sea can be a lot warmer below the surface than at the surface, and it appears that very warm waters are continuing to enter the Arctic Ocean from both the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. As discussed in previous posts such as this one, the danger is that ever warmer waters will (further) destabilize methane hydrates at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, resulting in abrupt methane eruptions that could dwarf the impact of existing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Climate Plan

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


- Explosive volcanism on the ultraslow-spreading Gakkel ridge, Arctic Ocean, Sohn et al. (2007, published 2008)

- Unfolding Methane Catastrophe

- Further Confirmation of a Probable Arctic Sea Ice Loss by Late 2015, by Malcolm P.R. Light (Sep. 1, 2012)

In October 2015, an area appeared in the Arctic sea ice where the temperature of the ice was a few degrees Celsius...
Posted by Sam Carana on Friday, October 30, 2015