Showing posts with label rise. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rise. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Temperatures keep rising


Temperatures keep rising. Above image uses NASA data that are adjusted to reflect a 1750 baseline, ocean air temperatures and higher polar anomalies, while showing anomalies going back to September 2011, adding a blue trend going back to 1880 and a red trend going back to September 2011. 

The map below also shows that in November 2020, especially the Arctic Ocean, again was very hot.


Anomalies in the above NASA image are compared to 1951-1980, while NOAA's default baseline for temperature anomalies is the 20th century average. In the Copernicus image below anomalies are compared to the 1981-2010 average. 

Using a different baseline can make a lot of difference. An earlier analysis pointed out that, when using a 1750 baseline and when using ocean air temperatures and higher Arctic anomalies, we did already cross  2°C above pre-industrial in February 2020.  

Above Copernicus image shows temperatures averaged over the twelve-month period from December 2019 to November 2020. The image shows that the shape of the global anomaly over the past twelve months is very similar to the peak reached around 2016. This confirms that global heating is accelerating, because the peak around 2016 was reached under strong El Niño conditions, whereas current temperatures are reached under La Niña conditions. Furthermore, sunspots are currently low. The La Niña and the low sunspots are both suppressing temperatures, as discussed in a recent post.

Future rise?

By how much will temperatures rise over the next few years?


Above image, from the U.N. Emissions Gap Report 2020, shows that growth in greenhouse gas emissions continued in 2019, with emissions reaching a total of 59.1 GtCO₂e. The commitments promised at the Paris Agreement in 2015 were not enough to limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C and those commentments were not even met, said António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, calling on all nations to declare a state of Climate Emergency until carbon neutrality is reached. Earlier, António Guterres had said: "We are headed for a thundering temperature rise of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius this century." 

What could cause a steep temperature rise over the next few years? 

A temperature rise of more than 3°C above pre-industrial could occur, and this could actually happen within a few years time. There are a number of reasons why the temperature rise could take place so fast, as described below.

As said, the temperature is currently suppressed by the current La Niña and the currently low sunspots (Hansen et al. give the sunpot cycle an amplitude of some 0.25 W/m²). Such short-term differences show up more in the red trend of the image at the top, which uses a polynomial trend over a short period. 

Compensating for the fact that sunspots are currently low and the fact that we're currently a La Niña period can already push the temperature anomaly well over the 2°C threshold that politicians at the Paris Agreement pledged would not be crossed.  


The above NOAA image and the NOAA image below illustrate that we are currently experiencing La Niña conditions
 

How long will it take before we'll reach the peak of the next 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.
There are further reasons why the temperature rise could strongly accelerate over the next few years. Loss of cooling aerosols is one such reason. Another reason is the growing frequency and intensity of forest fires, which come with high emissions of methane, of heating aerosols such as black carbon and brown carbon, and of carbon monoxide that causes hydroxyl depletion, thus extending the lifetime of methane and heating aeosols. 

Map from earlier postThe vertical axis depicts
latitude, t
he North Pole is at the top (90° North),
the Equator in the 
middle (0°) and the South Pole 
at the bottom (-90° South). GHCN v4 land-surface
air + ERSST v5 sea-surface water temperature 
anomaly. The Arctic anomaly reaches 4.83°C or 
8.69°F 
vs 1951-1980, and 5.57°C vs 1885-1914.
A hotter world will will also hold more water vapor, a potent greenhouse gas. 
 
Furthermore, many tipping points affect the Arctic, e.g. more methane and nitrous oxide emissions can be expected to result from continued decline of what once was permafrost. 

The temperature rise is felt the strongest in the Arctic, as illustrated by the zonal mean temperature anomaly map on the right, from an earlier post.

As one of the tipping points gets crossed in the Arctic, multiple feedbacks can start kicking in more strongly, resulting in multiple additional tipping points to subsequently get crossed. 
 
At least ten tipping points affect the Arctic, as described in an earlier post, and it looks like the latent heat tipping point has already been crossed, as illustrated by the image below, from an earlier post, which shows two such tipping points. 
 
[ from an earlier post ]

Huge temperature rise

When extending the vertical axis of the image at the top, a picture emerges that shows that a temperature rise of more than 13°C above 1750 could happen by 2026. The trend shows that 10°C is crossed in February 2026, while an additional rise of 3°C takes place in the course of 2026. The temperature could rise this much, in part because at 1200 ppm CO₂e the cloud feedback will start to kick in, which in itself can raise temperatures by an additional 8°C.


And the rise wouldn't stop there! Even when adding up the impact of only the existing carbon dioxide and methane levels, and then adding large releases of seafloor methane, this alone could suffice to trigger the cloud feedback, as described in an earlier post

Of course, there are further warming elements, in addition to carbon dioxide and methane, and they could jointly cause a rise of 10°C by 2026 even in case of smaller releases of seafloor methane, as illustrated by the image below. 
 
[ from an earlier post ]

[ from an earlier post ]
Above image illustrates how a temperature rise of more than as 10°C could eventuate as early as February 2026 when taking into account aerosol changes, albedo changes, water vapor, nitrous oxide, etc., as discussed in an earlier analysis

The joint impact of all warming elements, including the cloud feedback, threatens to cause a total rise of 18°C, as an earlier post warned, adding the image on the right. 

How high could the temperature rise? At a 3°C rise, humans will likely go extinct, while most life on Earth will disappear with a 5°C rise, and as the temperature keeps rising, oceans will evaporate and Earth will go the same way as Venus, a 2019 analysis warned. 

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



Links

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

• NOAA Global Climate Report - November 2020
https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/202011

• NASA GISS Surface Temperature Analysis - maps
https://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/maps/index.html

• What are El Niño and La Niña?
https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/ninonina.html

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

• Copernicus - surface air temperature for Novmber 2020
https://climate.copernicus.eu/surface-air-temperature-october-2020

• NOAA ISIS Solar Cycle Sunspot Number Progression
https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/products/solar-cycle-progression

• Secretary-General's address at Columbia University: "The State of the Planet"
https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/speeches/2020-12-02/address-columbia-university-the-state-of-the-planet

• U.N. Emissions Gap Report 2020 
https://www.unenvironment.org/emissions-gap-report-2020

• U.N. Climate Ambitions Summit, December 12, 2020
https://www.climateambitionsummit2020.org/ondemand.php

• U.N. Paris Agreement (2015)
https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement

• Why stronger winds over the North Atlantic are so dangerous
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/02/why-stronger-winds-over-north-atlantic-are-so-dangerous.html

• Feedbacks in the Arctic
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/feedbacks.html

• September 2015 Sea Surface Warmest On Record
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2015/10/september-2015-sea-surface-warmest-on-record.html

• When will we die?
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/06/when-will-we-die.html

• A rise of 18°C or 32.4°F by 2026?
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/02/a-rise-of-18c-or-324f-by-2026.html

• Methane Hydrates Tipping Point threatens to get crossed
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/08/methane-hydrates-tipping-point-threatens-to-get-crossed.html

• Arctic Hit By Ten Tipping Points
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/04/arctic-hit-by-ten-tipping-points.html

• Crossing the Paris Agreement thresholds
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/crossing.html

• 2°C crossed
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/03/2c-crossed.html

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

• 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

• There is no time to lose
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/11/there-is-no-time-to-lose.html

• Temperatures threaten to become unbearable
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/09/temperatures-threaten-to-become-unbearable.html

• Warning of mass extinction of species, including humans, within one decade
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2017/02/warning-of-mass-extinction-of-species-including-humans-within-one-decade.html

• Extinction
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/extinction.html



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



Monday, July 27, 2020

Arctic sea ice could disappear completely within two months' time

Arctic sea ice fell by 3.239 million km² in extent in 25 days (i.e. from July 1 to 25, 2020). Melting will likely continue for another two months. If it continues on its current trajectory, the remaining 6.333 million km² of Arctic sea ice could disappear completely within two months' time.


The fall in extent over the next two months' time may not remain as as steep as it was in July, yet the sea ice still could disappear completely. One reason for this is that, over the years, sea ice thickness has been declining even faster than extent. The rapid decline in sea ice thickness is illustrated by the sequence of images below.


The image on the right further illustrates that sea ice is getting very thin, which threatens the latent heat tipping point to get crossed. 

Sea currents and the Coriolis force will make that the influx of warm, salty water into the Arctic Ocean will continue. With no buffer of sea ice left underneath the surface of the sea ice to absorb incoming ocean heat, more heat will accumulate in the Arctic Ocean, threatening that the methane hydrates tipping point will get crossed.

The navy.mil animation below was run on August 3, 2020, and shows sea ice thickness over 30 days (last 8 frames are forecasts for August 4 - August 11, 2020). 


Here's another indication that the buffer is disappearing fast. North of Greenland and of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, less than 700 km from the North Pole, the sea ice is disappearing, precisely where the thickest sea ice used to be located. 


High greenhouse gas levels are causing high temperatures over the Arctic and high ocean temperatures. 


On July 25, 2020, sea surface temperatures in the Arctic Ocean were as high as 20.8°C or 69.4°F (at the green circle on above image).


At that same location, on July 22, 2020, sea surface temperatures in the Arctic Ocean were as much as 17°C or 30.5°F higher than the daily average during the years 1981-2011. 

This location is where the Pechora River flows into the Barents Sea (the green circle pointed at by the white arrow on above image).

Distortion of the jet stream is causing more extreme weather, resulting in the recent lengthy heatwave over Siberia that has heated up the water of rivers flowing into the Arctic Ocean.

A cyclone was visible over the Arctic Ocean on July 28, 2020, as illustrated by the image on the right. 

Underneath on the right is a forecast for August 7, 2020, showing rain over the North Pole. 

In summary, Arctic sea ice may disappear completely over the next two months, and there are at least six reasons why this could occur:
• Low Arctic sea ice extent;
• Low Arctic sea ice thickness;
• High ocean temperature;
• High greenhouse gas levels;
• High temperatures over the Arctic;
• Distorted jet stream causing extreme weather such as storms that can break up the sea ice. 
As the image below shows, sea surface temperatures in the Arctic Ocean on August 1, 2020, were as much as 11.5°C or 20.7°F higher than 1981-2011 (at green circle, off the coast of Siberia, opposite Greenland). 


Ominously, the MetOp-1 satellite recorded peak methane levels of 2933 ppb, at 469 mb, on the afternoon of July 30, 2020.

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


Links

• NSIDC Arctic sea ice
http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews

• Polar Portal - sea ice volume
http://polarportal.dk/en/sea-ice-and-icebergs/sea-ice-thickness-and-volume

• NASA Worldview
https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov

• Arctic Hit By Ten Tipping Points
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/04/arctic-hit-by-ten-tipping-points.html

• Fast Path to Extinction
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/06/fast-path-to-extinction.html

• 2020 Siberian Heatwave continues
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/06/2020-siberian-heatwave-continues.html

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



Thursday, June 18, 2020

2020 Siberian Heatwave continues


Very high temperatures hit Northern Europe and Eastern Siberia near the Arctic Ocean on June 18, 2020. This is a continuation of the heatwave that hit Siberia in May 2020.

The image below, from an earlier post, shows temperature anomalies that were forecast to be at the high end of the scale over Siberia on May 22, 2020, 06:00 UTC, i.e. 30°C or 54°F higher than 1979-2000. At the same time, cold temperatures were forecast for much of eastern Europe.


What enables such a strong heatwave to develop is that the Jet Stream is getting more wavy as the temperature difference between the North Pole and the Equator is narrowing, causing both hot air to move up into the Arctic (red arrow) and cold air to descend out of the Arctic (blue arrow).

On June 19, 2020, at 03:00 UTC, a temperature of 33.2°C or 91.8°F was recorded in Siberia near the Arctic Ocean (green circle).


The image below shows a temperature forecast of 33.5°C or 92.2°F in Siberia near the Arctic Ocean on June 20, 2020, at 03:00 UTC (green circle).


The image below is a forecast for June 23, 2020, showing how a distorted Jet Stream enables cold air to move down into Russia, while at the same time enabling hot air to move north over Scandinavia and Siberia, near the Arctic Ocean.


The image below is a forecast for June 25, 2020, showing the coast of Siberia near the Arctic Ocean getting hit by temperature anomalies at the top end of scale, i.e. 30°C or 54°F higher than 1979-2000.


The image on the right is an update, showing how wavy the Jet Stream turned out to be on June 25, 2020.

This facilitates hot air getting carried north over Western Europe, East Siberia and through the Bering Strait, while cold air is moving south over the European part of Russia. Blocking patterns that prolong such a situation go hand in hand with a more wavy Jet Stream.

Record High Temperature in Arctic

The image below shows that temperatures in Siberia were as high as 40°C or 104°F at 5 cm above the ground on June 21, 2020, at 3 pm, the Ventusky.com map shows.


This indicates how much the soil of what once was permafrost is heating up. At 2 m above ground level, i.e. the default height for air temperature measurements, it was 30°C or 86°F, as the image below shows. The location marked by the star is at 71°28' North latitude and 142°59' East longitude, and at and altitude of 13 m.


The day before, Verkhoyansk in Siberia reached a temperature of 38°C or 100.4°F on June 20, 2020, a record high for the Arctic. Verkhoyansk is located at 67°55′ North latitude.

Both locations are well north of the Arctic Circle that - at 66°30′ N - constitutes the southern limit of the area within which, for one day or more each year, the Sun does not set (about June 21) or rise (about December 21).

High Ocean Temperatures

The heatwave is heating up the sea surface of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS), as illustrated by above image. The ESAS is quite shallow, making that heat can quickly reach the seafloor.

Additionally, the heatwave is heating up rivers that carry large amounts of hot water into the Arctic Ocean.

The image on the right shows sea surface temperatures in the Bering Strait as high as 18.9°C or 66.02°F on June 22, 2020.

The nullschool.net website shows that sea surface temperatures in the Bering Strait were as high as 16.1°C or 60.9°F on June 20, 2020, in the Bering Strait (in Norton Sound, Alaska), i.e. 15.1°C or 27.2°F hotter than 1981-2011.


In summary, the Arctic Ocean is heating up in a number of ways:

- Sea currents are moving hot water from the Pacific Ocean into the Arctic Ocean. Similarly, sea currents are moving hot water from the Atlantic Ocean into the Arctic Ocean.

- The Siberian heatwave is heating up the sea surface of the ESAS.

- The heatwave is heating up rivers that carry large amounts of hot water into the Arctic Ocean.

- Numerous feedbacks can speed up the temperature rise, such as changes to the jet stream that can prolong heatwaves and make them more intense.

The rising temperatures result in record low Arctic sea ice volume, as illustrated by the image on the right and as also discussed in an earlier post.

Heat threatens to destabilize methane hydrates

As discussed in earlier posts such as this one, this heat threatens to destabilize methane hydrates contained in sediments at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean.


As the panel on the left shows, sea surface temperatures in the Bering Strait were as much as 15.1°C or 27.2°F hotter than 1981-2011 on June 20, 2020 (in Norton Sound, Alaska, at the green circle).

The bathymetry map in the right panel of above image shows how shallow seas in the Arctic Ocean can be. The water over the ESAS is quite shallow, making that the water can warm up very quickly during summer heat peaks and heat can reach the seafloor, which comes with the risk that heat will penetrate cracks in sediments at the seafloor. Melting of ice in such cracks can lead to abrupt destabilization of methane hydrates contained in sediments.

Large abrupt methane releases will quickly deplete the oxygen in shallow waters, making it harder for microbes to break down the methane, while methane rising through waters that are shallow can enter the atmosphere very quickly.

The situation is extremely dangerous, given the vast amounts of methane present in sediments in the ESAS, given the high global warming potential (GWP) of methane following release and given that over the Arctic there is very little hydroxyl in the air to break down the methane.

[ from earlier post ]

Ominously, the MetOp-1 satellite recorded a peak methane level of 2847 parts per billion on the afternoon of June 24, 2020, at 469 mb.


The next day, on the afternoon of June 25, 2020, MetOp-1 recorded a mean methane level of 1903 parts per billion at 293 mb. The 469 mb pressure level on above image corresponds with altitude of 6,041 m or 19,820 feet on the conversion table below. The 293 mb mean on the image below corresponds with a much higher altitude, i.e. 9,318 m or 30,570 feet on the conversion table below.


Methane reaching the Stratosphere

The MetOp satellites typically record the highest annual mean methane level in September. The image below, from an earlier post, shows that on the afternoon of September 30, 2019, the MetOp-1 satellite recorded the highest mean methane level, i.e. 1914 parts per billion, at 293 mb.


Above image shows that methane levels have risen most at higher altitude over the years. As discussed in an earlier post, methane eruptions from the Arctic Ocean can be missed by measuring stations that are located on land and that often take measurements at low altitude, thus missing the methane that rises in plumes from the Arctic Ocean. Since seafloor methane is rising in plumes, it hardly shows up on satellite images at lower altitude either, as the methane is very concentrated inside the area of the plume, while little or no increase in methane levels is taking place outside the plume. Since the plume will cover less than half the area of one pixel, such a plume doesn't show up well at low altitudes on satellite images.

Over the poles, the Troposphere doesn't reach the heights it does over the tropics. At higher altitudes, methane will follow the Tropopause, i.e. the methane will rise in altitude while moving closer to the Equator.

Methane rises from the Arctic Ocean concentrated in plumes, pushing away the aerosols and gases that slow down the rise of methane elsewhere, which enables methane erupting from the Arctic Ocean to rise straight up fast and reach the stratosphere.

The rise of methane at these high altitudes is very worrying. Once methane reaches the stratosphere, it can remain there for a long time. The IPCC in 2013 (AR5) gave methane a lifetime of 12.4 years. The IPCC in 2001 (TAR) gave stratospheric methane a lifetime of 120 years, adding that less than 7% of methane did reach the stratosphere. 

Further Feedbacks

Furthermore, the Siberian heatwave is also threatening to trigger forest fires that can cause huge amounts of emissions, including black carbon that can settle on the snow and ice cover, further speeding up its demise and causing albedo changes that result in a lot more heat getting absorbed in the Arctic, instead of getting reflected back into space as was previously the case. This is illustrated by the image below showing forest fires in East Siberia on June 19, 2020.


Finally, more intense forest fires threaten to cause organic carbon compounds to enter the stratosphere and damage the ozone layer, as discussed in an earlier post.

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


Links

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

• Very High Greenhouse Gas Levels
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/05/very-high-greenhouse-gas-levels.html

• April 2020 temperatures very high
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/05/april-2020-temperatures-very-high.html

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

• When Will We Die?
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/06/when-will-we-die.html

• Could Humans Go Extinct Within Years?
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/01/could-humans-go-extinct-within-years.html

• Fast Path to Extinction
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/06/fast-path-to-extinction.html

• Arctic records its hottest temperature ever
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/arctic-records-its-hottest-temperature-ever-2020-06-20/