Showing posts with label cyclones. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cyclones. Show all posts

Friday, August 3, 2018

Peaks Matter

Heat stress

When calculating how much warmer we can expect it to get, climate models typically use linear projections based on temperature averages, such as annual global average temperatures, daily temperatures that are averages between day and night, etc. Sadly, this downplays the danger, as average temperatures are unlikely to kill people. When lives are at stake, peaks matter!

Where are temperatures rising most?

Temperatures are rising most strongly in the Arctic. Above map shows a rise of as much as 5.7°C or 10.26°F in Arctic.

Ocean heat on the move toward Arctic Ocean

The image below shows that the sea surface was 22°C or 71.6°F on August 13, 2018, at 77.958°N, 5.545°E (near Svalbard), i.e. 6.9°C or 12.4°F warmer than 47 days earlier and 16.4°C or 29.5°F warmer than it was during 1981-2011.

Local maximum temperatures can be good indicators for the maximum heat stress that can be expected in the area.

As illustrated by above image, the sea surface near Svalbard was 22°C or 71.6°F at the green circle on August 13, 2018, i.e. 16.4°C or 29.5°F warmer than 1981-2011.

This high sea surface temperature is an indicator of the temperature of the water below the surface, which in turn is an indicator of the amount of ocean heat that is entering the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic Ocean.

Ocean heat is carried by the Gulf Stream from the North American coast toward the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the images below and on the right.

Warming of the Arctic Ocean comes with a number of feedbacks that accelerate this warming, such as albedo changes that take place as the Arctic snow and ice cover declines, and methane that is released from sediments containing methane in the form of hydrates and free gas.

The situation could get worse rapidly. As an example, with a decrease in cooling aerosols, which are concentrated in the Northern Hemisphere, the North Atlantic looks set to absorb more heat. A recent study calculated that the North Atlantic’s share of the uptake could increase from 6% to about 27%.

As another example, a recent study concludes: Existing models currently attribute about 20% of the permafrost carbon feedback this century to methane, with the rest due to carbon dioxide from terrestrial soils. By including thermokarst lakes, methane becomes the dominant driver, responsible for 70% to 80% of permafrost carbon-caused warming this century. Adding thermokarst methane to the models makes the feedback’s effect similar to that of land-use change, which is the second-largest source of manmade warming.

High methane levels warn about seafloor methane releases

The image on the right illustrates the danger, showing high methane levels at Barrow, Alaska, in July 2018.

When making projections of heat stress, it is important to look at all potential warming elements, including albedo changes, changes to jet streams and sea currents, higher levels of methane, high levels of water vapor, etc.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, causing huge warming immediately after entering the atmosphere, while this warming will be felt most strongly where the methane was released. Methane can therefore contribute strongly to local temperature peaks.

On August 6, 2018, mean global methane levels were as high as 1896 ppb. On August 8, 2018, they were as high as 1898 ppb.

Importantly, peak levels on the afternoon of August 6, 2018, were as high as 3046 ppb, as illustrated by the image on the right. The likely origin of those high levels is the Arctic Ocean, which should act as a stark warning of things to come.

Further contributors to heat stress

Next to temperature, humidity is of vital importance. A combination of high temperatures and high humidity is devastating.

A recent study shows that the risk of deadly heat waves is significantly increased because of intensive irrigation in specific regions. The study points at a relatively dry but highly fertile region, known as the North China Plain — a region whose role in that country is comparable to that of the Midwest in the U.S. That increased vulnerability to heat arises because the irrigation exposes more water to evaporation, leading to higher humidity in the air than would otherwise be present and exacerbating the physiological stresses of the temperature.

The image below shows a forecast of perceived temperatures in China on August 7, 2018.

The green circle highlights an area that is forecast to score high on the 'Misery Index' and that is centered around a location on the coast of Poyang Lake, which is connected to the Yangtze River. Temperatures there are forecast to be as high as 36.4°C or 97.4°F. At first glance, this may not look very high, but a relative humidity 68% is forecast to make it feel like 54.1°C or 129.3°F. This translates into a wet-bulb temperature of 31.03°C or 87.86°F.

The image on the right shows relative humidity. Also note the cyclones lined up on the Pacific Ocean. Cyclones can increase humidity, making conditions worse.
The high sea surface temperature anomalies that are common in the West Pacific (image right)  contribute to warmer air and stronger cyclones carrying more moisture toward Asia, as discussed in this facebook thread which also features the next image on the right, showing that cyclone Soulik is forecast to cause waves as high as 18.54 m or 60.8 ft near Japan on August 20, 2018.

If humidity kept rising, a temperature of 36.4°C at a relative humidity of 91% would result in a wet-bulb temperature of 35°C. No amount of sweating, even in the shade and in front of strong winds or a fan, can cool the body under such conditions, and it would be lethal in a matter of hours in the absence of air conditioning or cold water.

There are further factors that can contribute to make specific areas virtually uninhabitable. The urban heat effect is such a factor. El Niño is another one. Land-only temperature anomalies are higher than anomalies that are averaged for land and oceans. As temperatures keep rising, heat waves can be expected to intensify, while their duration can be extended due to jet stream blocking.

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

Below, Paul Beckwith warns that parts of the world 'will soon be rendered uninhabitable'.

Video: Unrelenting Heat, Humidity Will Soon Make Regions UNINHABITABLE

Paul Beckwith: "How hot can it actually get? What is in store for us? When you combine the heat domes sitting over many countries with high humidity, many areas around the planet will soon reach the deadly 35°C (95°F) 100% humidity (wet bulb temperature) or equivalent situation whereby a perfectly healthy person outside, in a well ventilated area, in the shade will die from the heat in 6 hours."

Video: Most Mammals Endure Heat Waves Better Than Humans

"Most people, like the very young, the elderly, and the rest of us won’t last anywhere as long, at even lower temperatures. I discuss the latest peer-reviewed science on how parts of high-risk regions in the North China Plains, Middle East, and South Asia will soon be rendered uninhabitable by combined heat and humidity."

Video: Uninhabitable Regions with Extreme Heat and Humidity

Also watch this video, in which Guy McPherson talks about the way aerosols currently mask the full wrath of global warming.

Video: Edge of Extinction: Rate Matters

Above video is also incorporated in the video below.

Video: McPherson's Paradox

and for the bigger picture, also watch the video below.

Video: Responding to Abrupt Climate Change with Guy R. McPherson


• It could be unbearably hot in many places within a few years time

• Feedbacks

• Latent Heat

• How much warming have humans caused?

• The Threat

• Extinction

• Climate Plan

Friday, September 8, 2017

Extreme weather is upon us

Extreme weather is upon us. Global warming is increasing the intensity, occurrence, size, duration and impact of many catastrophic events, including wildfires, droughts, heat waves, cold snaps, storms, lightning, flooding and seismic events such as earthquakes and associated tsunamis.

Ever larger numbers of people are getting hit directly by such events, as well as indirectly due to lack of fresh water, food, shelter, medicine, health care and emergency services.

Many lives were lost and many further lives are at stake. In a September 11, 2017, statement, AccuWeather predicts the joint economic costs of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma to be $290 billion, or 1.5% of the U.S. GDP.

The following three images show Hurricane Irma (left) and Hurricane Jose (right), and are forecasts for September 10, 2017. The image directly below shows that waves are forecast to be as high as 48 ft (or 14.63 m).

Waves for September 10, 2017, 15:00 UTC (at green circle, 26°N, 80°W) are forecast as high as 48 ft or 14.63 m
The image below shows that winds are forecasts to be as fast as 163 mph (or 263 km/h).

Winds for Sept. 10, 2017, 12:00 UTC (green circle, 25.5°N, 80.5°W, 850 hPa) forecast as fast as 163 mph or 263 km/h
The image below shows that as much as 6.59 in (or 167.4 mm) of rain is forecast.

As much as 6.59 in (or 167.4 mm) of rain is forecast for Sept. 10, 2017, 6:00 UTC (3-hour accumulation, green circle)
Forecasts were posted widely, such as the image below that was posted at facebook.

Earlier, Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. Again, warnings were posted widely, such as the forecast below, posted at facebook.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
There is no doubt that people's emissions are causing global warming and that this is causing more extreme weather to occur across the world.

Extreme weather is amplified by changes to the Jet Streams. As the Arctic is warming more rapidly than the rest of the world, the temperature difference between the Arctic and the Equator is narrowing, which is slowing down the speed at which the Jet Streams circumnavigate the globe.

The Coriolis Effect makes Jet Streams circumnavigate the globe horizontally, and this used to keep cold air inside the Arctic and warmer air outside of the Arctic.

As the Jet Streams circumnavigate the globe at lower speeds, they increasingly move more vertically, allowing cold air from the Arctic to move down south more easily, and warm air to move up north more easily. This can make it easier for cyclones to move land-inward, where they previously would have kept following a path over the sea. This can also make it easier for weather conditions to stay the same for many days in an area, allowing huge amounts of rain water to accumulate in such an area.

This is illustrated by the image on the right, showing Jet Streams crossing the Equator at speeds as fast as 82 km/h or 51 mph (at the location marked by the green circle, at 250 mb) on August 27, 2017, 21:00 UTC. The image also shows Jet Streams crossing the Arctic at multiple locations.

Furthermore, numerous cyclones are visible on the image. As Earth retains more energy, winds and currents are getting stronger, waves are getting higher, etc., while higher temperatures are also causing winds to carry more moisture. This is especially the case for cyclones that are also stronger due to high sea surface temperatures.

The image below shows Hurricanes Jose, Irma and Katia lining up over the Atlantic Ocean on September 7, 2017.

The image below shows the hurricanes lining up over the Atlantic Ocean on September 8, 2017.

The image below shows Hurricane Jose off the coast of North America and Hurricane Maria underneath, with winds as fast as 149 mph or 241 km/h (at 850 hPa) and as much as 7.92 inch or 201.1 mm of rain (3-hour precipitation accumulation) at the location marked by the green circle.

In the video below, Paul Beckwith discusses the situation.

There can be many interactions between such events. Seismic events such as earthquakes, landslides and associated tsunamis, can be triggered by human activities in several ways.

Seismic events triggered by human activities

• Earthquakes can be triggered by fracking and by pools associated with fracking.
• Warming caused by people makes snow and ice melt, removing weight off the land and dumping it into the sea. This change in weight can trigger earthquakes.
• The Earth's crust can be flexed by storms. Large cyclones first suck up water, making sea level retreat and lifting up the crust. Then, a surge follows, while huge amounts of rainwater can add further weight, pushing the crust down again. This change can be felt over longer distances, triggering earthquakes across continents.
• Wild weather swings can be the result of changes in the jet streams caused by global warming. Huge sudden swings in temperature and in air pressure can make soils and ice go abruptly from expansion to compression and back again, which can cause cracks and landslides, and associated shockwaves, which can in turn trigger larger seismic events and open up methane craters with can come with large releases of methane.

After Sandy hit New York, in 2012, earthquakes hit the coast off Vancouver and links between the two events were discussed in this post.

Hurricane Harvey caused massive flooding in several States. The weight of the torrential rains brought by Hurricane Harvey caused Houston to sink by 2 centimeters. Water weighs about a ton per cubic meter and the flooding was so widespread that it "flexed Earth's crust", NASA scientist Chris Milliner said. 

An earthquake with a magnitude of 8.1 on the Richter scale hit at 69.7 km depth, off the coast of Mexico, 87km SW of Pijijiapan, on September 8, 2017 at 04:49:21 UTC, at 15.068°N 93.715°W.

Numerous aftershocks are visible on the map below (screenshot taken September 13, 2017).

Rising temperatures are increasing the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere at a rate of 7% more water vapor for every 1°C warming. This is further speeding up warming, since water vapor is a potent greenhouse gas. Over the coming years, a huge amount of additional water vapor threatens to enter the atmosphere, due to the warming caused by albedo changes in the Arctic, methane releases from the seafloor, etc., as described at this page.

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

Hurricane Damage Mitigation

A 2014 study by scientists led by Mark Jacobson calculates that large turbine arrays (300+ GW installed capacity) could diminish peak near-surface hurricane wind speeds by 25–41 m/s−1 (56–92 mph) and storm surge by 6–79% AND provide year-round clean and renewable electricity.

How many electric cars will be ready to move into Miami to provide emergency support in the wake of Hurricane Irma?

Storms can cause power outages, electricity poles can get damaged. Electricity poles can also be a traffic hazard (i.e. collisions can occur even if the pole hasn't fallen down, especially when streetlights fail). When damaged, power lines hanging off poles constitute electrical shock hazards and they can cause fires to ignite and wildfires to start.

Storms can also cause damage to backup generators and to fuel storage tanks, making it hard for emergency services to give the necessary support. Electric cars can supply electricity where needed, e.g. to power necessary air conditioning, autoclave and emergency equipment, such as in hospitals. After a tsunami hit Japan in 2011, electric cars moved in to provide electricity from their batteries, as described in many articles such as this one.

Wind turbines and solar panels are pretty robust. Hurricane Harvey hit the Papalote Creek Wind Farm near Corpus Christi, Texas. The wind farm had little or no damage, there was just a short delay in restarting, mostly due to damage to power lines. The Tesla roof that doubles as solar panels is much stronger than standard roofs. Have a look at this video.

Join the Renewables group at facebook!
Clean and renewable energy can provide more stable, robust and safe electricity in many ways. Centralized power plants are vulnerable, in that all eggs are in one basket, while there can be long supply and delivery lines. Many of the benefits of clean and renewable energy are mentioned on above image.

Furthermore, there are ways to lower sea surface temperatures. The image on the right shows the very high sea surface temperature anomalies on August 28, 2017.

Note the colder area (blue) in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Harvey cooled the sea surface as water evaporated and warm moisture was added to the atmosphere. The cyclonic force also mixed colder water below the surface with warmer water at the surface, resulting in colder water at the surface. The combination image below shows the difference between August 20, 2017, and August 30, 2017.

[ click on images to enlarge ]

A number of geoengineering methods can be used to reduce sea surface temperatures and thus reduce the intensity of hurricanes. Methods include upwelling associated with ocean fertilization and with ocean tunnels, marine cloud brightening and increasing and brightening bubbles in the wake of vessels, as discussed at the geoengineering group at facebook.

Besides cooling the sea surface, there's also the upwelling of nutrients that can help combat ocean stratification. Warm water holds less oxygen than cold water. As the water warms, it also tends to form a layer at the surface that does not mix well with cooler, nutrient-rich water below, depriving phytoplankton of some of the nutrients needed in order for phytoplankton to grow (and take up carbon).

Some of these methods are also discussed at this 2011 page, which also mentions that more research is needed into the impact of such methods. Of course, possible application should go hand in hand with dramatic reductions in emissions including a rapid shift to 100% clean and renewable energy.
Similarly, the necessary shift to clean and renewable energy in itself will not be enough to avoid catastrophic warming, and it should go hand in hand with further lines of action to remove pollution and to cool the Arctic Ocean, as described at the Climate Plan.


• Climate Plan

• How much warming did and could people cause?

• Did Sandy trigger major earthquakes off Vancouver?

• Geophysicist: Weight of Harvey rains caused Houston to sink

• As Harvey breaks rainfall record, Houston imposes a curfew and death toll climbs to 18

• Historic Hurricane Harvey's Recap

• Hurricane Katia strikes Mexico, killing at least two, as the nation still reels from a massive earthquake

• Deadly quake and Hurricane Katia a one-two punch for Mexico (September 8, 2017).
Updated: Death toll now at 90 as aftershocks rattle southern Mexico (September 11, 2017).

• AccuWeather predicts economic cost of Harvey, Irma to be $290 billion

• After Disaster Hit Japan, Electric Cars Stepped Up

• In Big Test of Wind Farm Durability, Texas Facility Quickly Restarts After Harvey

• Tesla Unveils Powerwall 2 & Solar Roof

• Taming hurricanes with arrays of offshore wind turbines, by Mark Z. Jacobson et al. (2014)

• The Solutions Project

• Weakening of hurricanes via marine cloud brightening (MCB), by John Latham, Ben Parkes, Alan Gadian, Stephen Salter (2012)

• Multiple Benefits Of Ocean Tunnels

• Oxygenating the Arctic

• Reducing hurricane intensity using arrays of Atmocean Inc.'s wave-driven upwelling pumps

• Could bright, foamy wakes from ocean ships combat global warming?

Friday, October 28, 2016

Arctic sea ice extent again at record low for time of year

For some time, Arctic sea ice extent has again been at a record low for the time of the year. The image below shows Arctic sea ice extent on October 26, 2016, when extent was only 6.801 million km².

One reason for the low sea ice extent is the high and rising temperature of the Arctic Ocean. On October 27, 2016, the Arctic Ocean was as warm as 14.8°C or 58.6°F (green circle near Svalbard), 12.1°C or 21.7°F warmer than 1981-2011, as the image below shows.

On October 29, 2016, the Arctic Ocean was as warm as 14.9°C or 58.8°F (green circle near Svalbard), 12.1°C or 21.8°F warmer than 1981-2011, as the image below shows.

As the sea ice shrinks, less sunlight gets reflected back into space, while more open water and higher sea surface temperatures also cause storms and cyclones to become stronger. Stronger cyclones also cause greater amounts of water vapor to move up the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean toward the Arctic.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
[ click on image to enlarge ]
Less Arctic sea ice and a warmer Arctic Ocean make that more heat and water vapor gets transferred from the Arctic Ocean to the atmosphere. The two above images show temperature forecasts for November 1 & 2, 2016. In both cases, temperatures over the Arctic as a whole are forecast to be as much as 6.40°C higher than 1979-2000.

As these images show, temperature anomalies in many places are at the top end of the scale, i.e. +20°C or +36°F.

Above combination image shows record low Arctic sea ice for the time of the year (left) and near record low Antarctic sea ice for the time of the year (right), with a combined sea ice extent of only 23.751 million km² on October 28, 2016. In other words, the world is now absorbing a lot of sunlight that was previously reflected back into space.

Below are two further temperature forecast:

Above image shows forecasts for October 31, 2016. The Arctic is forecast to be 6.07°C warmer than 1979-2000, while the Antarctic is forecast to be 4.56°C warmer than 1979-2000.

Above image shows forecasts for November 1, 2016. The Arctic is forecast to be 6.42°C warer than 1979-2000, while the Antarctic is forecast to be 3.70°C warmer than 1979-2000.

Rising temperatures over the Arctic further contribute to a rise in the amount of water vapor in the air over the Arctic at a rate of 7% more water vapor for every 1°C warming. Since water vapor is a potent greenhouse gas, more water vapor further accelerates warming in the Arctic.

The Climate Reanalyzer image below shows the temperature rise in the Arctic over time.

In the video below, Dr. Walt Meier of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center describes how the Arctic has been losing its thicker and older sea ice over the years (1991 to September 2016).

The Naval Research Lab 30-day thickness animation below (up to October 28, 2016, with forecasts up to November 5, 2016) further shows minimal recent growth of the Arctic sea ice, especially in terms of the ice with a thickness of 1m or above.

As the Arctic Ocean gets warmer, the danger grows that large amounts of methane will erupt from destabilizing hydrates at its seafloor. Ominously, high methane levels are visible over the Arctic on the image below, showing methane levels as high as 2424 ppb on October 24, 2016.

The animation below, made with images from another satellite (and a different scale), shows high methane levels over th Arctic Ocean from October 26 to 28, 2016.

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

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Cyclones continue to hit Northern Hemisphere

As the 2015 El Niño gets stronger, the Northern Hemisphere continues to get hit by strong winds and cyclones. The image below shows strong winds over the Arctic Ocean, as hurricane Joaquin approaches the coast of North America.

On above image, hurricane Joaquin is clocked at a speed of 79 mph (127 km/h) on October 1, 2015. NOAA warned that on that day the maximum sustained wind speed had increased to near 120 mph (195 km/h) with higher gusts.

For reference, NOAA uses four categories:
D: Tropical Depression – wind speed less than 39 mph (63 km/h)
S: Tropical Storm – wind speed between 39 mph and 73 mph (63 km/h - 118 km/h)
H: Hurricane – wind speed between 74 mph and 110 mph (118 km/h - 177 km/h)
M: Major Hurricane – wind speed greater than 110 mph (over 177 km/h)

NOAA issued the image below on September 30, 2015, warning that Hurricane Joaquin is likely to cause wind damage across a large part of the eastern coast of North America.

The NOAA animation below gives an idea of the strength of hurricane Joaquin.

[ click on image to enlarge, note that this is a 1.4 MB file that may take some time to fully load ]

Meanwhile, sea surface temperatures off the North American coast, as well as in the Arctic Ocean, are very high, as illustrated with the image on the right.

In the Arctic Ocean, the sea ice in many places is now less thick than it was in 2012, as illustrated by the image further below, showing sea ice thickness on October 7, 2012 (panel left) and a forecast for October 7, 2015 (panel right).

The water in the Arctic Ocean was already very warm this year. The main factor causing both these strong winds and the dramatic decrease in thickness of the multi-year sea ice is ocean heat, as also illustrated by the image below, showing high sea surface temperature anomalies in the Arctic as at September 30, 2015.

As the image below shows, nearly all the thick (over 3 m) multi-year sea ice has now disappeared, setting up a dangerous situation for the future that is much more dangerous than the situation was back in 2012. The thicker sea ice used to act as a buffer, consuming ocean heat in the melting process. Without thicker sea ice, ocean heat threatens to melt the sea ice from below right up to the surface, causing the entire sea ice to collapse as more open water will go hand in hand with stronger winds and waves. In case of such a collapse, sunlight that was previously reflected back into space will instead be absorbed by the water, causing rapid rise of the temperature of the water. In places such as the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, the water is on a average only 50 m deep, so warmer water is able to reach the seafloor more easily there.

The water of the Arctic Ocean is very warm, not only at the surface, but even more so underneath the surface. The danger is that strong winds will mix warm water all the way down to the seafloor, where it could destabilize sediments that can contain huge amounts of methane in the form of hydrates and free gas.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
The image on the right illustrates the impact of winds over the East Siberian Arctic Shelf on September 26, 2015.

NSIDC specialist Julienne Stroeve recently warned"In 2007 more than 3m of bottom melt was recorded by [an] ice mass balance buoy in the region, which was primarily attributed to earlier development of open water that allowed for warming of the ocean mixed layer. But perhaps some of this is also a result of ocean mixing."

As discussed in an earlier post, sea surface anomalies of over 5°C were recorded in August 2007 in the Arctic Ocean. Strong polynya activity caused more summertime open water in the Laptev Sea, in turn causing more vertical mixing of the water column during storms in late 2007 and bottom water temperatures on the mid-shelf increased by more than 3 degrees Celsius compared to the long-term mean.

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

As the 2015 El Niño gets stronger, the Northern Hemisphere continues to get hit by strong winds and cyclones. The image...
Posted by Sam Carana on Thursday, October 1, 2015