Showing posts with label global. Show all posts
Showing posts with label global. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Temperatures threaten to become unbearable

Many people could face unbearable temperatures soon. 

Temperature anomalies on land in the Northern Hemisphere (red) are spread out much wider and they are more than 0.5°C higher than global land+ocean anomalies (blue).


The pale green and grey trends are both long-term trends based on January 1880-August 2020 NOAA data. The short-term red and blue trends, based on January 2013-August 2020 NOAA data, are added to show the potential for a rapid rise. How could temperatures possibly rise this fast? 

A rapid temperature rise could eventuate by 2026 due to a number of contributing factors:
• crossing of the latent heat and methane tipping points
• moving toward an El Niño 
• entering solar cycle 25
• changes in aerosols
• feedbacks kicking in more strongly as further tipping points get crossed.

Crossing the Latent Heat and Methane Hydrate Tipping Points

The image below, updated from an earlier post, shows two such tipping points.


The August 2020 ocean temperature anomaly on the Northern Hemisphere was 1.13°C above the 20th century average. The image shows a trend based on January 1880-August 2020 NOAA data. The latent heat tipping point is estimated to be 1°C above the 20th century average. Crossing the latent heat tipping point threatens to cause the methane hydrates tipping point to be crossed, estimated to be 1.35°C above the 20th century average.

Keep in mind that above images show temperature anomalies from the 20th century average, which is NOAA's default baseline. As an earlier analysis points out, when using a 1750 baseline and when using ocean air temperatures and higher Arctic anomalies, we may have already crossed both the 1.5°C and the 2°C thresholds that politicians at the Paris Agreement pledged would not get crossed.

Natural Variability - El Niño and Solar Cycle

Currently, we are currently in a La Niña period, which suppresses air temperatures.

Only a thin layer of sea ice remained left in the Arctic, with extent almost as low as it was in 2012 around this time of year, as discussed in the previous post. As air temperatures dropped in September 2020, Arctic sea ice extent started to increase again about September 15, 2020. This made that a patch of sea ice remained present at the surface of the Arctic Ocean, despite the dramatic thinning of the sea ice. 

When an El Niño event returns, conditions will get worse. 


How long will it take before we'll reach the peak of the upcoming El Niño? NOAA says
El Niño and La Niña episodes typically last nine to 12 months, but some prolonged events may last for years. While their frequency can be quite irregular, El Niño and La Niña events occur on average every two to seven years. Typically, El Niño occurs more frequently than La Niña.
The temperature rise is strongest in the Arctic, as illustrated by the zonal mean temperature anomaly map below. The map has latitude on the vertical axis and shows anomalies as high as 4.83°C or 8.69°F in the Arctic. The North Pole is at the top of the map, at 90° North, the Equator is in the middle, at 0°, and the South Pole is at the bottom, at -90° South. And yes, NASA's default baseline is 1951-1980, so anomalies are even higher when using a 1750 baseline. 


So, what could make the difference next year is an upcoming El Niño. Solar irradiance is also on the rise, in line with the 11-year Solar Cycle.


Above image shows a NOAA graph depicting the current Solar Cycle (24) and the upcoming Solar Cycle (25). 

In 2019, Tiar Dani et al. analyzed a number of studies and forecasts pointing at the maximum in the upcoming Solar Cycle occurring in the year 2023 or 2024.

The analysis found some variation in intensity between forecasts, adding images including the one on the right, which is based on linear regression and suggests that the Solar Cycle 25 may be higher than the previous Solar Cycle 24. 

In 2012, Patrick (Pádraig) Malone analyzed factors critical in forecasting when an ice-free day in the Arctic sea first might occur. 

Patrick concluded that once solar activity moved out of the solar minimum, Arctic sea ice extent would start to crash. Accordingly, a Blue Ocean Event could occur as early as 2021, as illustrated by the image below.  


Further Tipping Points and Feedbacks

Further tipping points and feedbacks can start kicking in more strongly as one tipping point gets crossed. At least ten tipping points apply to the Arctic, as discussed in an earlier post and it looks like the latent heat tipping point has already been crossed. 

Ocean heat is very high in the North Atlantic and the North Pacific, and heat continues to enter the Arctic Ocean. 


Arctic sea surface temperatures and air temperature are now high since ocean heat, previously consumed by sea ice, is now coming to the surface where the sea ice has disappeared.

As above image shows, sea surface temperature anomalies in the Arctic Ocean on September 14, 2020, were as high as 9.3°C or 16.8°F (at the location marked by green circle), compared to the daily average during the years 1981-2011. 

These high sea surface temperature anomalies occur at locations where the daily average during the years 1981-2011 was around freezing point at this time of year.

Part of this ocean heat is rising into the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean, resulting in high air temperatures that in turn prevent formation of sea ice thick enough to survive until the next melting season. The image on the right shows a forecast of Arctic air temperatures (2 m) that are 5°C higher than 1979-2000 (forecast for October 5, 2020, 18Z run Sep 26, 2020 06Z). 

Methane Danger is High


Ominously, peak methane levels of 2762 parts per billion (ppb) were recorded by the MetOp-1 satellite on the morning of September 20, 2020, at 586 milibar (mb), as above image shows.


Mean methane levels of 1925 ppb were recorded by the MetOp-1 satellite on the morning of September 20, 2020, at 293 mb, as above image shows.


Peak methane levels of 2813 ppb were recorded by the MetOp-1 satellite on the afternoon of September 30, 2020, at 469 mb, as above image shows. 


Methane has been rising most at higher altitudes over the past few years. On September 26, 2020 pm, the MetOp-1 satellite recorded a mean global methane level of 1929 ppb at 293 mb, which is equivalent to a height of 9.32 km or 30,57 ft, i.e. in the lower stratosphere over the North Pole (the top of the troposphere over the Equator is higher, at about 17 km).

Why methane is so important

As illustrated by the image on the right, from an earlier post, high methane levels could be reached within decades, and such a scenario could unfold even without sudden big bursts, but merely due to a continuation of a trend based on data up to 2014. This would obviously result in a huge rise in global temperature. 

A huge rise in global temperature would eventuate even earlier in case of a big burst of methane erupting from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. 

Methane's initial global warming potential (GWP) is very high. For the first few years after its release, methane is more than 150 times as strong as a greenhouse gas compared to carbon dioxide, as discussed in an earlier post.

How high are current methane levels? NOAA's May 2020 level for methane was 1874.7 ppb

Using a GWP of 150, this translates into 1.8747 x 150 = 281.205 ppm CO₂e. 

NOAA's figures are conservative, given that NOAA measures methane at marine surface level. 

Anyway, when using this conservative NOAA methane figure of 1874.7 ppb which at a GWP of 150 results in 281.205 ppm CO₂e, and when using an additional 413.6 ppm for recent carbon dioxide levels (NOAA's global May 2020 CO₂ level), these two add up to 694.805 ppm CO₂e, which is 505.195 CO₂e away from the cloud feedback tipping point (1200 CO₂e) that can, on its own, raise global temperatures instantly by 8°C. 

This is illustrated by the image on the right, an update from an earlier post

An additional eruption of methane from the Arctic Ocean into the atmosphere of 505.195 CO₂e translates into 505.195 / 150 = 3.368 ppm or 3368 ppb of methane. 

If the current amount of methane in the atmosphere is about 5 Gt, then 3368 ppb of methane corresponds with an amount of methane just under 9 Gt.

Coincidently, a peak level of 3369 ppb was recorded on August 31, 2018, pm. Granted, there is a large difference between a local peak level and a global mean level, but then again, a much smaller burst of methane can trigger the clouds feedback.

Even a relatively small burst of methane could trigger the clouds feedback, given that it will cause huge heating of the Arctic both directly and indirectly, in turn triggering further eruptions of methane from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean.

Huge direct heating of the Arctic could occur due to methane's high immediate GWP and its even higher Local Warming Potential (LWP) given that the release takes place in the Arctic, while huge indirect heating of Arctic would occur due to the resulting decline of sea ice and of much of the permafrost on land.

Even a relatively small burst of methane could cause not only albedo losses but also releases of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide and further fast feedbacks such as a rise in clouds and water vapor, especially over the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the image on the right, from the extinction page and an earlier post.

Importantly, the initial trigger to a huge temperature rise by 2026 could be an event that is typically categorized under natural variability, such as an El Niño, increased solar irradiance or a storm causing a sudden large influx of hot, salty water into the Arctic Ocean and causing an eruption of seafloor methane. Indeed, a seemingly small forcing can result in total collapse that takes place so rapidly that any political action will be too little, too late.

The video below illustrates the importance of the Precautionary Principle. The video shows how a seemingly small bump by a forklift causes all shelves in a warehouse to collapse. 


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


Links

• NOAA Global Climate Report - August 2020
https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/202008

• Multivariate El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Index Version 2 (MEI.v2)
https://psl.noaa.gov/enso/mei

• What are El Niño and La Niña?

• NOAA ISIS Solar Cycle Sunspot Number Progression

• Multiple regression analysis predicts Arctic sea ice - by Patrick Malone (Pádraig) Malone 
https://www.facebook.com/Amber.and.Patrick/posts/1140053003062976 

• Prediction of maximum amplitude of solar cycle 25 using machine learning - by Tiar Dani et al. 
https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1742-6596/1231/1/012022

• NOAA - Trends in Artmospheric Methane 

• Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide - global

• When will we die?

• A rise of 18°C or 32.4°F by 2026?

• Most Important Message Ever

• Blue Ocean Event
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2018/09/blue-ocean-event.html

• Record Arctic Warming
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2016/04/record-arctic-warming.html

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



Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The unthinkable consequences of global warming

The unthinkable consequences of global warming
by Andrew Glikson

“We’re simply talking about the very life support system of this planet”. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber 2009.

“Burning all fossil fuels would create a different planet than the one that humanity knows. The paleoclimate record and ongoing climate change make it clear that the climate system would be pushed beyond tipping points, setting in motion irreversible changes, including ice sheet disintegration with a continually adjusting shoreline, extermination of a substantial fraction of species on the planet, and increasingly devastating regional climate extremes” and “this equates to 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day 365 days per yearJames Hansen et al. 2012.

Humanity is fast reaching our moment of truth. What Hansen, Schellnhuber and others have warned us is based on evidence consistent with the basic laws of science, the discipline which, contrary to medieval superstition, is founded on direct observations, calculations and on reason.

Figure 1. The change in state of the planetary climate since the onset of the industrial age in the 17ᵗʰ century.
To elaborate on the nature of the threat humanity and nature are now facing:
A. The rise in greenhouse gas levels (Figure 1) and temperatures at the Earth surface, rising by more than 1°Celsius since 1880, has been underestimated. This is because the temperature values take little account of the masking effects of sulphur dioxide and other aerosols, which transiently mitigates global temperatures by at least ~ -0.5°C. The actual rise could already be as much as 1.5 degrees Celsius, the upper level recommended by the Madrid climate conference. On present trends temperatures will rise to above 2 degrees relative to pre-industrial levels Celsius by 2030. Further temperature rises are likely to be irregular and affected by the flow of ice melt water from melting ice sheets into the oceans by mid-century.

B. The rise in temperature of large ocean regions, with much of the warming occurring to ~800 meter deep levels, reduces the ocean’s ability to absorb CO₂. This means that more CO₂ is trapped in the atmosphere, causing further warming. Also, as ocean temperatures rise, the oceans are depleted in oxygen, which leads to increased production of methane and hydrogen sulphide, which are poisonous to marine life.

C. Models projecting global warming as a linear trajectory, as outlined by the International panel of Climate Change (IPCC), take only limited account of the weakening of climate zone boundaries, as temperatures rise in the polar regions, notably the circum-Arctic jet stream. The weakening of the boundaries allows penetration of warm air masses from the south, as expressed by fires in the Tundra and the Arctic. Conversely, the injection of freezing air masses from the Arctic into North America and Europe (The so-called Beast from the East) provides further evidence for the weakening of the Arctic boundary. These are likely to produce more violent winter storms and heavier snowfalls, forming direct results of global warming. Cooling of large surface areas of the ocean by ice melt water flowing from Greenland and the Antarctica, and accumulation of warmer water in depth, lead to irregular warming trends, with a consequent three-fold rise in extreme weather events (Figure 2), especially where high temperature and cold air masses collide.
Figure 2. The number (bars, left axis), type (colors), and annual cost (right vertical axis) of U.S. billion-dollar disasters from 1980-2018. Running annual cost (grey line), along with the 95% confidence interval, and 5-year average costs (black line).The number and costs of disasters are increasing. Inland flooding (blue bars) and severe storms (green bars) are making in increasingly large contribution to the number of U.S. billion-dollar disasters.  
D. An estimated 1,400 billion tons (400 GTC) of carbon is embedded in the world’s permafrost, mostly in the Arctic and sub-Arctic, from where large amounts of carbon are released under the fast warming conditions. By comparison, the atmosphere presently contains 750 billion tons of carbon. Should a large part of the existing permafrost thaw, Earth could experience dramatic, fast and very dangerous warming. Huge amounts of methane (CH₄), the gas considered responsible for mass extinctions in the history of Earth about 251 million years ago (Permian -Triassic boundary) and 56 million years ago (Paleocene-Eocene boundary), are being released from melting permafrost and Arctic sediments, raising the atmospheric concentration of the gas by more than three-fold (from <600 to 1800 parts per billion) (Figure 3). Temperature rises during the PETM event are estimated as 5 to 8 degrees Celsius. When emitted the warming induced by methane is more than 84 times that of CO₂, declining to 25 times over some 20 years. The release to the atmosphere of a significant part of the stored carbon (permafrost ~900 billion ton carbon [GtC]), peatland 500 GtC and vegetation prone to fires (650 GtC), is sufficient to shift most of the Earth’s climate into a tropical to hyper-tropical state.
Figure 3. Global reserves and growth in the release of methane 1988-2019
E. The 2019-2010 wildfires in Australia have unleashed about 900 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is equivalent to nearly double the country's total yearly fossil fuel emissions. As the planet warms, wildfires become more frequent and accelerate the warming process.

F. Sea level rise will flood the very regions where civilization has emerged, low river valleys, delta and coastal planes, which are also vital to food production. This is estimated to displace 100 million people initially, and more over time as major coastal cities are flooded.

G. The rising energy levels in warming regions of the Earth, notably tropical island chains such as the Caribbean and the Philippines, generate devastating tropical storms known as cyclones and typhoons. These wreak havoc on coastal regions of southeast North America, India, southern Africa, the Pacific and Australia.

H. Rising heat levels in tropical, subtropical and intermediate Mediterranean climate zones may render large areas unsuitable for agriculture and are physiologically difficult for humans to live in as “heat bulb” conditions set in.
An outline of the migration of climate zones in Australia and the southwestern Pacific is given in Figure 4. Further to NASA’s reported mean land-ocean temperature rise to +1.18°C for March 2020 relative to 1951-1980, large parts of the continents, including Siberia, central Asia, Canada, parts of west Africa, eastern South America and Australia, are warming toward mean temperatures of +2°C and higher. The rate exceeds that of the Last Glacial Termination (LGT) during 21–8 thousand years ago and earlier warming events. These includes the Paleocene-Eocene hyperthermal event (PETM) (about 55.9 million years ago [Ma]) and the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary (K-T) (64.98 Ma) impact event. The relationships between the global warming rate and the migration of climate zones toward the poles are portrayed in detail on global climate maps (Figure 4).
Figure 4. The migration of the northward into southern Europe. Note the drying up of Spain,
Italy, Greece and Turkey and the increased in precipitation in Northern Europe.
In the 20th century the Earth climate has reached a tipping point, namely a point of no return. Global CO₂ and other greenhouse gases rise have reached a large factor to an order of magnitude higher than those of the past geological and mass extinction events, as have the rate of warming, the shift of climate zones and the rate of extreme weather events (Figure 2). Given the abrupt change in state of the atmosphere-ocean-cryosphere-land system, accelerating since the mid-20ᵗʰ century, the terms “climate change” and “global warming” no longer reflect the extreme scale and rate of these shifts.

Time is running out.


Andrew Glikson
Dr Andrew Glikson
Earth and Paleo-climate scientist
ANU Climate Science Institute
ANU Planetary Science Institute
Canberra, Australia


Books:
The Asteroid Impact Connection of Planetary Evolution
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9789400763272
The Archaean: Geological and Geochemical Windows into the Early Earth
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319079073
Climate, Fire and Human Evolution: The Deep Time Dimensions of the Anthropocene
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319225111
The Plutocene: Blueprints for a Post-Anthropocene Greenhouse Earth
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319572369
Evolution of the Atmosphere, Fire and the Anthropocene Climate Event Horizon
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9789400773318
From Stars to Brains: Milestones in the Planetary Evolution of Life and Intelligence
https://www.springer.com/us/book/9783030106027
Asteroids Impacts, Crustal Evolution and Related Mineral Systems with Special Reference to Australia

http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319745442



Friday, January 17, 2020

Could Humans Go Extinct Within Years?


Above image depicts how humans could go extinct within years. The image was created with NASA LOTI 1880-Dec.2019 data, 0.78°C adjusted to reflect ocean air temperatures (as opposed to sea surface temperatures), to reflect higher polar temperature anomalies (as opposed to leaving out 'missing' data) and to reflect a 1750 baseline (as opposed to a 1951-1980 baseline), with two trends added. Blue: a long-term trend based on Jan.1880-Dec.2019 data. Red: a short-term trend, based on Jan.2009-Dec.2019 data, to illustrate El Niño/La Niña variability and how El Niño could be the catalyst to trigger huge methane releases from the Arctic Ocean. This updates an earlier post with more detail on how the image was created.

The image below shows El Niño/La Niña variability going back to 1950, added to the NOAA monthly temperature anomaly.
[ click on images to enlarge ]

The image on the right shows how ocean heat has increased over the years (from: from the paper Record-Setting Ocean Warmth Continued in 2019, by Lijing Chang et al.).

Ocean heat is increasing rapidly, especially on the Northern Hemisphere, as illustrated by the NOAA image below, showing the rise from 1980 through 2019.

The image underneath uses the same data and has a trend added pointing at a 1.5°C anomaly from the 20th century average by the year 2026.

As discussed in an earlier point, there is a tipping point at 1°C above the 20th century average, i.e. there are indications that a rise of 1°C will result in most of the sea ice underneath the surface to disappear. This sea ice used to consume the inflow of warm, salty water from the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. So, while there may still be sea ice left at the surface, the latent heat buffer will be gone.
[ click on images to enlarge ]
Loss of the latent heat buffer speeds up heating of the Arctic Ocean, with the danger that huge amounts of methane will be released from the seafloor. The image below illustrates the danger, showing that peak methane levels as high as 2670 parts per billion (ppb) were recorded by the MetOp-1 satellite on January 2, 2020 pm at 469 mb.



Most worryingly, above image shows a large almost-solidly magenta-colored area blanketing the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS), with magenta indicating levels above 1950 ppb. Such satellite measurements indicate that large amounts of methane are erupting from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean.


Above image shows that, a few years ago, methane was accumulating most strongly at an altitude corresponding to a pressure of some 400 mb. More recently, methane has been accumulating most strongly at higher altitudes, corresponding to a pressure of just under 300 mb, which is the upper limit of the troposphere over the North Pole. Methane tends to follow the Tropopause, i.e. at higher altitudes methane will be present in higher concentrations closer to the Equator, where the troposphere extends further into space, as discussed in an earlier post.

The NOAA graph below indicates that methane levels are growing at over 10 parts per billion per year, and this may actually underestimate global methane concentrations. The graph uses land-based measurements taken at sea level that can miss methane rising from the seafloor, especially from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, since there are few measuring stations in the Arctic in the first place. Land-based measurements can additionally overlook methane that is moving along the Tropopause from the Arctic toward the Equator.

Ominously, the image below shows high methane levels at Barrow, Alaska, at the end of January 2020.


Rising CO₂ levels are also worrying. A daily average CO₂ level of 415.79 ppm was recorded by NOAA at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, on January 21, 2020, a level that is unprecedented for millions of years. Since an annual peak is typically reached in May, we can expect even higher levels over the coming months.


It's not just at Mauna Loa that such high CO₂ readings were recorded recently. The image below shows CO₂ levels recorded recent;y at Barrow, Alaska.


Fires in Australia have contributed to these high CO₂ levels. The image below shows smoke plumes from fires in Australia on January 4, 2020.


Such fires can generate huge amounts of smoke, with smoke rising up high in the atmosphere and entering the stratosphere, while circumnavigating Earth. The ferocity of these fires is also shown in the NASA video below.


In the video below, Guy McPherson gives examples of species that went extinct rapidly.


Meanwhile, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved the Doomsday Clock closer to Midnight, to 100 seconds to Midnight, adding that Civilization-ending nuclear war—whether started by design, blunder, or simple miscommunication—is a genuine possibility. Climate change that could devastate the planet is undeniably happening. And for a variety of reasons that include a corrupted and manipulated media environment, democratic governments and other institutions that should be working to address these threats have failed to rise to the challenge. Faced with a daunting threat landscape and a new willingness of political leaders to reject the negotiations and institutions that can protect civilization over the long term, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board moved the Doomsday Clock 20 seconds closer to midnight—closer to apocalypse than ever. 

The image below, created with thebulletin.org content and data from 1991 to 2020, has a linear trend added that points at Midnight by 2022.


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


Links

• Extinction in 2020?
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/12/extinction-in-2020.html

• NOAA Global Climate Report - Annual 2019 - Monthly temperature anomalies versus El Niño
https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/201913/supplemental/page-2

• Record-Setting Ocean Warmth Continued in 2019 - by Lijing Chang et al.
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00376-020-9283-7

• 2020 El Nino could start 18°C temperature rise
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/11/2020-el-nino-could-start-18-degree-temperature-rise.html

• Near-Term Human Extinction
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2014/04/near-term-human-extinction.html

• NOAA Global CH4 Monthly Means
https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends_ch4

• Methane Erupting From Arctic Ocean Seafloor
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2017/03/methane-erupting-from-arctic-ocean-seafloor.html

• NASA: Global Transport of Smoke from Australian Bushfires
https://gmao.gsfc.nasa.gov/research/science_snapshots/2020/Australia_fires_smoke.php

• NASA: Global Transport of Australian Bushfire Smoke
https://climate.nasa.gov/climate_resources/202/global-transport-of-australian-bushfire-smoke

• Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
https://thebulletin.org/doomsday-clock/past-statements/

• Doomsday by 2021?
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2018/11/doomsday-by-2021.html

• Climate Plan
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/climateplan.html



Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Accelerating greenhouse gas levels

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) just released its annual Emissions Gap Report, warning that even if all current unconditional commitments under the Paris Agreement are implemented, temperatures are expected to rise by 3.2°C, bringing even wider-ranging and more destructive climate impacts.

The report adds that a continuation of current policies would lead to a global mean temperature rise of 3.5°C by 2100 (range of 3.4–3.9°C, 66% probability) and concludes that current policies will clearly not keep the temperature rise below 3°C and that temperatures may rise by much more than that.

Below is the UNEP video On the brink: Emissions Gap Report findings in 60 seconds.


[ image from earlier post ]
Indeed, the rise in greenhouse gas levels appears to be accelerating, despite pledges made under the Paris Agreement to holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently reported carbon dioxide (CO₂) concentrations for 2018 of 407.8 ppm (parts per million), as illustrated by the image on the right. The WMO adds that CO₂ levels, as well as methane and nitrous oxide levels, had all surged by higher amounts than during the past decade.

In energy, fossil fuel consumption for heating and transport increased. While renewables grew strongly in 2018, an even larger part of the growth in electricity was generated by fossil fuel, particularly by coal and natural gas. 

As the image below shows, a trend based on NOAA March 1958 through October 2019 monthly mean CO₂ data at Mauna Loa points at CO₂ levels crossing the 415 ppm mark in 2020, when an El Niño is forecast to come, as discussed in an earlier post.


The added trend in the image points at CO₂ levels crossing 1200 ppm before the end of the century, triggering the cloud feedback tipping point that by itself could push up global temperatures by 8°C, within a few years. Importantly, the clouds feedback starts at 1200 ppm CO₂-equivalent. Besides a CO₂ rise, further elements could contribute to the 1200 ppm CO₂e tipping point getting reached, such as albedo changes due to disappearing Arctic sea ice and seafloor methane releases from a rapidly-warming Arctic Ocean.

In conclusion, a huge temperature rise could eventuate much earlier than by the end of the century. The image below illustrates the potential for a rise of 18°C or 32.4°F by 2026.

[ from an earlier post ]
As discussed in a recent post, a 2020 El Niño could be the catalyst triggering huge methane releases from the Arctic Ocean seafloor starting in 2020 and resulting in such a 18°C (or 32.4°F) temperature rise within a few years time. To put this into perspective, an earlier post concluded that humans will likely go extinct at a 3°C rise, as such an abrupt rise will make habitat for humans (and many other species) disappear.

In the video below, John Davis describes some of the extreme weather events that he experienced recently. “Disasters like this are man-made now”, John says, “they're not natural disasters. This is caused by climate change.”



Meanwhile, a recent study found that the consensus among research scientists on anthropogenic global warming has grown to 100%, based on a review of 11,602 peer-reviewed articles on “climate change” and “global warming” published in the first 7 months of 2019.

This further confirms the probability or likelihood that emissions by people are causing global warming, from a likely danger to certain danger. Furthermore, as discussed in many earlier posts, there are two additional dimensions to the danger of climate change; the severity of the impact makes it not merely a catastrophic danger, it is an existential threat; finally, regarding timescale, the danger is not just near, the danger is imminent and in many respects we're already too late.


Above image expresses this visually, with the red area depicting where we are now. There were readability problems with the text on the sides of the cube, reason why a version without text and the color on the sides was posted in an earlier post.

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


Links

• UN news release
https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/cut-global-emissions-76-percent-every-year-next-decade-meet-15degc

• Paris Agreement
https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement

• United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) - Emissions Gap Report
https://www.unenvironment.org/resources/emissions-gap-report-2019

• UNEP video: On the brink: Emissions Gap Report findings in 60 seconds
https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/video/brink-emissions-gap-report-findings-60-seconds

• WMO - Greenhouse gas concentrations in atmosphere reach yet another high
https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/greenhouse-gas-concentrations-atmosphere-reach-yet-another-high

• NOAA Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide
https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/data.html

• Most Important Message Ever
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/07/most-important-message-ever.html

• 2020 El Nino could start 18°C temperature rise
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/11/2020-el-nino-could-start-18-degree-temperature-rise.html

• Scientists Reach 100% Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0270467619886266

• The Threat Of Arctic Albedo Change
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2016/09/the-threat-of-arctic-albedo-change.html

• Climate Plan
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/climateplan.html




Tuesday, November 5, 2019

A record CO2 rise rate since the KT dinosaur extinction 66 million years ago

By Andrew Glikson
Earth and climate scientist
Australian National University

As the concentration of atmospheric CO₂ has risen to 408 ppm and the total greenhouse gas level, including methane and nitrous oxide, combine to near 500 parts per million CO₂-equivalent, the stability threshold of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, currently melting at an accelerated rate, has been exceeded. The consequent expansion of tropics and the shift of climate zones toward the shrinking poles lead to increasingly warm and dry conditions under which fire storms, currently engulfing large parts of South America (Fig. 1), California, Alaska, Siberia, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Angola, Australia and elsewhere have become a dominant factor in the destruction of terrestrial habitats.

Figure 1. Sensors on NASA satellites Terra and Aqua captured a record of thousands of points
of fire in Brazil in late August. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory
Since the 18th century, combustion of fossil fuels has led to the release of more than 910 billion tons of carbon dioxide (GtCO₂) by human activity, raising CO₂ to about 408.5 ppm (Fig. 2), as compared to the 280-300 ppm range prior to the onset of the industrial age. By the early-21st century the current CO₂ rise rate has reached of 2 to 3 ppm/year.

Figure 2. Global temperature and carbon dioxide - Climate Central
Allowing for the transient albedo enhancing effects of sulphur dioxide and other aerosols, mean global temperature has potentially reached ~2.0 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures. Current greenhouse gas forcing and global mean temperatures are approaching Miocene-like (5.3-23 million years-ago) composition.

The current carbon dioxide rise rate exceeds the fastest rates estimated for the K-T asteroid impact (66.4 million years-ago) and the PETM (Paleocene-Eocene Temperature Maximum) hyperthermal event (55.9 million years ago) by an order of magnitude (Fig. 3). The current growth rate of atmospheric greenhouse gases, in particular over the last 70 years or so, may appear gradual in our lifetime, but it constitutes an extreme event in the recorded history of Earth.
Figure 3. Cenozoic CO₂ and temperature rise rates. Current rise rates of CO₂ (2.86 ppm CO2/year) and temperature (0.15-0.20°C per decade since 1975) associated with extreme weather events raise doubt regarding gradual linear climate projections. Instead, chaotic climate conditions may arise from the clash between northward-shifting warm air masses which intersect the weakened undulating Arctic jet stream boundary and freezing polar air fronts penetrating Siberia, North America and Europe.
The definition of a “tipping point” in the climate system is a threshold which, once exceeded, can lead to large changes in the state of the system, or where the confluence of individual factors combines into a single stream. The term “tipping element” describes subcontinental-scale subsystems of the Earth system that are susceptible to being forced into a new irreversible state by small perturbations. In so far as a tipping point can be identified in current developments of the climate system, the weakening of the Arctic boundary, indicated by slowing down and increased disturbance of the jet stream heralds a likely tipping point, an example being the recent ‘Beast from the East” freeze in northern Europe and North America (Fig. 4).

Figure 4. The cold fronts penetrating Europe from Siberia and the North Atlantic and North America from the Arctic, 2018. UK Met Office.
A report by the National Academy Press 2011 states: “As the planet continues to warm, it may be approaching a critical climate threshold beyond which rapid (decadal-scale) and potentially catastrophic changes may occur that are not anticipated.”

Direct evidence for changing climate patterns is provided by the expansion of the tropics and migration of climate zones toward the poles, estimated at a rate of approximately 56-111 km per decade. As the dry subtropical zones shift toward the poles, droughts worsen and overall less rain falls in temperate regions. Poleward shifts in the average tracks of tropical and extratropical cyclones are already happening. This is likely to continue as the tropics expand further. As extratropical cyclones move, they shift rain away from temperate regions that historically rely on winter rainfalls for their agriculture and water supply. Australia is highly vulnerable to expanding tropics as about 60 percent of the continent lies north of 30°S.

Low-lying land areas, including coral islands, delta and low coastal and river valleys would be flooded due to sea level rise to Miocene-like (5.3-23 million years ago) sea levels of approximately 40±15 meters above pre-industrial levels. Accelerated flow of ice melt water flow from ice sheets into the oceans is reducing temperatures over tracts in the North Atlantic and circum-Antarctic oceans. Strong temperature contrasts between cold polar-derived fronts and warm tropical-derived air masses lead to extreme weather events, retarding habitats, in particular over coastal regions. As partial melting of the large ice sheets proceeds the Earth’s climate zones continue to shift polar-ward (Environmental Migration Portal, 2015). This results in an expansion of tropical regions such as existed in the Miocene, reducing the size of polar ice sheets and temperate climate zones.

According to Berger and Loutre (2002) the effect of high atmospheric greenhouse gas levels would delay the next ice age by tens of thousands of years, during which chaotic tropical to hyper-tropical conditions including extreme weather events would persist over much of the Earth, until atmospheric CO₂ and insolation subside. Humans are likely to survive in relatively favorable parts of Earth, such as sub-polar regions and sheltered mountain valleys, where cooler conditions would allow flora and fauna to persist.

To try and avoid a global calamity, abrupt reduction in carbon emissions is essential, but since the high level of CO₂-equivalent is activating amplifying feedbacks from land and ocean, global attempts to down-draw about of 50 to 100 ppm of CO₂ from the atmosphere, using every effective negative emissions, is essential. Such efforts would include streaming air through basalt and serpentine, biochar cultivation, sea weed sequestration, reforestation, sodium hydroxide pipe systems and other methods.

But while $trillions continue to be poured into preparation of future wars, currently no government is involved in any serious attempt at the defense of life on Earth.


Andrew Glikson
Dr Andrew Glikson
Earth and climate scientist
Australian National University

Books:

- The Archaean: Geological and Geochemical Windows into the Early Earth
- The Asteroid Impact Connection of Planetary Evolution
- Asteroids Impacts, Crustal Evolution and Related Mineral Systems with Special Reference to Australia
- Climate, Fire and Human Evolution: The Deep Time Dimensions of the Anthropocene
- The Plutocene: Blueprints for a Post-Anthropocene Greenhouse Earth
- Evolution of the Atmosphere, Fire and the Anthropocene Climate Event Horizon
- From Stars to Brains: Milestones in the Planetary Evolution of Life and Intelligence



Saturday, September 14, 2019

Critical Tipping Point Crossed In July 2019


In July 2019, a critical tipping point was crossed. July sea surface temperatures on the Northern Hemisphere were 1.07°C above what they were during the 20th century, as illustrated by above image which has a trend added that points at 5°C above the 20th century by 2033.

Why is 1°C above 20th century's temperature such a critical tipping point for the sea surface on the Northern Hemisphere? Let's first take a look at where global heating is going.



Oceans are absorbing over 90% of global heating, as illustrated by above image. Due to the high greenhouse gas levels resulting from people's emissions, oceans keep on getting hotter, and given oceans' huge heat-absorbing capacity, it has taken many years before this tipping point was crossed.

In July 2016, the tipping point was touched at 0.99°C. In July 2017, the July temperature anomaly was on the tipping point, at exactly 1°C. In July 2018, the sea surface was a bit cooler, and the tipping point was crossed in July 2019 when the temperature anomaly was 1.07°C above the 20th century average.


Arctic sea ice used to absorb 0.8% of global heating (in 1993 to 2003). Ocean heat keeps flowing into the Arctic Ocean, carried by ocean currents, as illustrated by above image. As peak heat arrives in the Arctic Ocean, it melts sea ice from below.

The image below shows sea surface temperatures on August 13, 2019 (left) and on September 9, 2019 (right). The light blue line forms a line indicating the sea surface temperature there is 0°C. That light blue line has moved pole-ward in September, due to rivers that kept adding warm water and also due to more warmer water entering the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.


As above image also shows, the sea surface near Svalbard was 20.4°C (or 68.7°F) at the area marked by the green circle on August 13, 2019 (left), and 20.3°C (or 68.5°F) on September 9, 2019 (right), indicating how high the temperature of the water can be underneath the surface, as it moves into the Arctic Ocean. In other words, further ocean heat is still entering the Arctic Ocean.

From mid August 2019, ocean heat could no longer find any sea ice to melt, since the thick sea ice that hangs underneath the surface had already disappeared. A thin layer of sea ice at the surface was all that remained, as air temperatures didn't come down enough to melt it from above.


This indicates that the buffer has gone that has until now been consuming ocean heat as part of the melting process. 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.

The image below, created with NOAA 2007-2019 June-August sea surface temperature data, shows how extra heating of the sea surface on the Northern Hemisphere from 2012 caused the buffer to disappear and the 1°C tipping point to be crossed in 2019.


Once the buffer is gone, further heat arriving in the Arctic Ocean must go elsewhere.


The image below illustrates the difference in extent between the years, as recorded by ads.nipr.ac.jp. On September 13, 1980, Arctic sea ice extent was 7.77 million km². On September 17, 2019, Arctic sea ice extent was 3.96 million km². On September 16, 2012, extent was 3.18 million  million km².


Arctic sea ice will soon be growing in extent, sealing off the water, meaning that less ocean heat will be able to escape to the atmosphere.


This situation comes at a time that methane levels are very high globally. Mean global methane levels were as high as 1911 parts per billion on September 3, 2019, as discussed in a recent post. This post, as well as many earlier posts, also discussed the danger that ocean heat will reach sediments at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean and cause huge methane releases.

Ominously, methane levels at Barrow, Alaska, were very high recently, as illustrated by above image showing methane levels peaking at over 2500 parts per billion. The satellite image below shows the global situation on the afternoon of September 13, 2019, when peak methane levels as high as 2605 ppb were recorded by the MetOp-1 satellite at 586 mb.


In the videos below, Paul Beckwith discusses the situation.





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


Links

• Climate Plan
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/climateplan.html

• Arctic Sea Ice Gone By September 2019?
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/07/arctic-sea-ice-gone-by-september-2019.html

• July 2019 Hottest Month On Record
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/08/july-2019-hottest-month-on-record.html

• Cyclone over Arctic Ocean - August 24, 2019
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/08/cyclone-over-arctic-ocean-august-24-2019.html

• Most Important Message Ever
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/07/most-important-message-ever.html

• Arctic Ocean overheating
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/09/arctic-ocean-overheating.html