Showing posts with label runaway. Show all posts
Showing posts with label runaway. Show all posts

Sunday, September 20, 2015

August 2015 Had Highest Sea Surface Temperature on Record

Across the oceans, the August 2015 globally-averaged sea surface temperature was 0.78°C (1.40°F) above the 20th century average—the highest temperature for any month in the 1880–2015 record. NOAA analysis further shows that in August 2015, the sea surface on the Northern Hemisphere was 1.02°C (1.84°F) warmer than it was in the 20th century, as illustrated by the graph below.


As the image below shows, the August data for sea surface temperature anomalies on the Northern Hemisphere contain a trendline pointing at a rise of 2°C (3.6°F) well before the year 2030. In other words, if this trend continues, the Northern Hemisphere sea surface will be 2°C (3.6°F) warmer in about a dozen years time from now.


Such a temperature rise would be catastrophic, as there are huge amounts of methane contained in the form of hydrates and free gas in sediments under the Arctic Ocean seafloor. A relatively small temperature rise of part of these sediments could cause a huge abrupt methane eruption, further speeding up local warming and triggering further methane eruptions, in a spiral of runaway warming that will cause mass destruction and extinction, as described in the reference page The Mechanism.

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


August data for sea surface temperature anomalies on the Northern Hemisphere contain a trendline pointing at a rise of 2...

Posted by Sam Carana on Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Arctic Sea Ice Collapse Threatens - Update 1

The image below compares the Arctic sea ice thickness (in m) on July 15, for the years from 2012 (left panel) to 2015 (right panel), using Naval Research Laboratory images.

Click on image to enlarge
The image below compares the Arctic sea ice concentration (in %) on July 18, for the years from 2012 (left panel) to 2015 (right panel), using Naval Research Laboratory images.


Above images show the dramatic decline of the sea ice in 2015, both in thickness and in concentration.

In terms of thickness, sea ice has been reduced by more than one meter in many places, such as north of Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago, all in the time span of just one month.

The dramatic fall in sea ice concentration also becomes apparent when comparing recent sea ice concentration (July 18, 2015, above right) with sea ice concentration back in May 2015 (image right, May 1, 2015).

This dramatic decline of the sea ice in 2015 is the result of a combination of factors, including:

  1. High levels of greenhouse gases over the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the image below, showing that on July 17, 2015 (pm), levels as high as 2512 parts per billion were recorded at 6,041 m (19,820 ft) altitude, while mean methane levels were 1830 parts per billion at this altitude.
  2. High levels of ocean heat, as illustrated by the image below showing high sea surface temperatures off the east coast of North America; much of this ocean heat will be carried by the Gulf Stream into the Arctic Ocean over the next few months.
  3. High air temperatures over North America and Siberia extending over the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the image below showing a temperature of 23.1°C (73.7°F), recorded on July 19, 2015, at Banks Island, in the Canadian Archipelago (green circle).
  4. Wildfires triggered by these heatwaves resulting in darkening compounds settling on snow and ice, as illustrated by the image below showing smoke covering a wide area on July 19, 2015, from the east Siberia over North America to the southern tip of Greenland.
  5. Very warm river water running into the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the image below, showing sea surface temperatures as high as 19°C (66.2°F) off the coast of Alaska on July 12-15, 2015.
The image below shows the already very high sea surface temperature anomalies as at July 18, 2015.

The Climate Reanalyzer image below shows the high sea surface temperature anomalies in the Pacific Ocean, and where water enter the Arctic Ocean through the Bering Strait, on July 19, 2015.



With still two months of melting to go before the sea ice can be expected to reach its minimum for 2015, the threat of sea ice collapse is ominous. The Arctic-News Blog has been warning for years about the growing chance of a collapse of the sea ice, in which case huge amounts of sunlight that previously were reflected back into space, as well as heat that previously went into melting the ice, will then instead have to be absorbed by the water, resulting in a dramatic rise of sea surface temperatures.

More open water will then come with an increased chance of storms that can cause high sea surface temperatures to be mixed down all the way to seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, which in many cases is less than 50 m (164 ft) deep. This is the case for the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, where experts estimate that huge amounts of methane are contained in subsea sediments. Already now, sea surface temperatures as high as 10°C (~50°F) are recorded there, as illustrated by the image below.


Massive amounts of ocean heat will be carried by the Gulf Stream into the Arctic Ocean over the next few months. The combined result of high sea surface temperatures being mixed down to the seafloor and the ocean heat entering the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans can be expected to result in dramatic methane eruptions from the Arctic Ocean seafloor by October 2015.

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



Arctic sea ice thickness on July 15, compared over the years 2012 through to 2015. Already virtually all the thick sea...

Posted by Sam Carana on Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sunday, February 1, 2015

WARNING - Planetary Omnicide between 2023 and 2031

[ click on image to enlarge or view this image ]

Below is a table using the ice core gradients for a continuously pulsing clathrate gun and one where the methane clathrate pulse decays over time from the data on the poster.

[ click on image to enlarge or view this image ]



References and Further Reading

- State Of Extreme Emergency, by Malcolm P.R. Light

- Focus on Methane, by Malcolm P.R. Light
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2014/07/focus-on-methane.html

- Arctic Atmospheric Methane Global Warming Veil, by Malcolm P.R. LightHarold Hensel and Sam Carana



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

High methane levels over the Arctic Ocean on February 17, 2014



Above image shows IASI methane readings over the last day or so, when levels as high as 2223 ppb were recorded.

Where does the methane come from?

On above image, methane shows up prominently along the faultline that crosses the Arctic Ocean from the northern tip of Greenland to the Laptev Sea. This indicates that the methane originated from the depths of the Arctic Ocean, where sediments contain large amounts of methane in the form of free gas and hydrates, which have become destabilized.

High methane concentrations have persistently shown up over the Arctic Ocean since October 1, 2013. On January 19, 2014, levels as high as 2363 ppb were recorded over the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the image below, from an earlier post.

[ from earlier post, click on image to enlarge ]
Below is a comparison of methane readings for the week from February 9 to 16, 2014, compared to the same period in 2013.

[ from earlier post, click on image to enlarge ]
The above comparison shows that there is a lot of methane over the Arctic Ocean that wasn't there last year. 

Furthermore, high methane readings show up where currents move the sea ice out of the Arctic Ocean, in areas such as Baffin Bay. This indicates that methane that is released from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean appears to be moving underneath the ice along with exit currents and entering the atmosphere where the sea ice is fractured or thin enough to allow the methane to pass through. 

Also note that more orange areas show up on the southern hemisphere in 2014, indicating that more methane from the northern hemisphere is now spreading south beyond the equator. This in addition to indications that more methane is rising and building up at higher altitudes, as discussed in an earlier post.

Causes

What made these high releases from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean persist for so long? At this time of year, one might have thought that the water in the Arctic Ocean would be much colder than it was, say, on October 1, 2013.

Actually, as the combination image below shows, sea surface temperatures have not fallen much at the center of the Arctic Ocean between early October, 2013 (left) and February 17, 2014 (right). In the area where these high methane concentrations occured, sea surface temperatures have remained the same, at about zero degrees Celsius.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
The above comparison image shows that, while surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean may have fallen strongly with the change of seasons, surface temperatures in the Arctic Ocean have changed only little.

In this case of course, what matters more than surface temperatures are water temperatures at greater depth. Yet, even here temperatures in the Arctic Ocean will have decreased only slightly (if at all) compared to early October 2013, since the Gulf Stream has continued to push warmer water into the Arctic, i.e. water warmer than the water in the Arctic Ocean, so the heating impact of the Gulf Stream continues. Also, sea surface temperature anomalies along the path of the Gulf Stream continue to be anomalously high, as the image below shows.


The situation looks even more grim on the Climate Reanalyzer image below, showing sea surface temperature anomalies that are far more profound in the Arctic Ocean.


Note also that, as the sea ice extent increased, there have been less opportunities for the heat to evaporate on the surface and for heat to be transferred from the Arctic Ocean to the air.

Finally, what matters a lot is salinity. The combination image below compares salinity levels between October 1, 2013 (left), and February 17, 2014 (right).

[ click on image to enlarge ]
Salinity levels were low on October 1, 2013, as a lot of ice and snow had melted in the northern summer and rivers had carried a lot of fresh water into the Arctic Ocean. After October 1, 2013, little or no melting took place, yet the Gulf Stream continued to carry waters with higher salt levels from the Atlantic Ocean into the Arctic Ocean.

Annual mean sea surface salinity
Seawater typically has a salinity level of over 3%; it freezes and melts at about −2°C (28°F). Where more saline water from the Atlantic Ocean flows into the Arctic Ocean, the water in the Arctic Ocean becomes more saline. The freezing and melting point of fresh water (i.e. zero salinity) is 0°C (or 32°F). More salinity makes frozen water more prone to melting, i.e. at temperatures lower than 0°C, or as low as −2°C.

As the salinity levels of the water on the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean increased, the ice that had until then held the methane captive in hydrates on the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean started to melt. Indeed, the areas in the Arctic Ocean where the high methane releases occurred on January 14, 2014 (top image) show several practical salinity units (psu) increase since October 1, 2013.

Higher salinity levels are showing up closer to the faultline that runs through the Arctic Ocean from the top of Greenland to the Laptev Sea.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

CO2 growth highest on record

Despite many promises, global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) continue to grow.

NOAA figures show that 2013 CO2 level growth was the highest ever recorded, i.e. 2.95 ppm.

The EPA expects U.S. 2013 energy-related CO2 emissions to be 2% higher than in 2012.

The UC San Diego image below shows CO2 levels in the atmosphere over the past two years.

Back in September 2013, John Davies warned: The world is probably at the start of a Runaway Greenhouse Event which will end most human life on Earth before 2040. This will occur because of a massive and rapid increase in the carbon dioxide concentration in the air which has just accelerated significantly. The increasing Greenhouse Gas concentration, the gases which cause Global Warming, will very soon cause a rapid warming of the global climate and a chaotic climate.

The post featured a graph with a 4th-order polynomial trendline pointing at some 7.5 ppm CO2 annual growth by 2040. While many welcomed the warning contained in the graph, some argued against using higher-order polynomial trendlines. So, for those who don't feel comfortable with a 4th-order polynomial trendline, the graph below adds both a linear trendline and a 3rd-order polynomial trendline.



The 3rd-order polynomial trendline, based on the recent data, points at CO2 annual growth of some 7 ppm by 2040, justifying the warning sounded by the 2013 graph.

And what do the recent data say, when a 4th-order polynomial trendline is applied? As the image below shows, they show an even steeper rise, reaching 7 ppm growth per year as early as 2030.



As many posts at this blog have warned, rapid growth in greenhouse gases and numerous feedbacks are threatening to push Earth into runaway global warming. This calls for comprehensive and effective action to - among other things - reduce atmospheric CO2 levels back to 280 ppm, as illustrated by the image below and as further discussed at the Climate Plan blog.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

High methane levels over the Arctic Ocean on January 14, 2014

[ click on image to enlarge - note that 'level' is the peak reading for the respective altitude ]
Above image shows IASI methane levels on January 14, 2014, when levels as high as 2329 ppb were recorded. This raises a number of questions. Did these high methane levels originate from releases from the Arctic Ocean, and if so, how could such high methane releases occur from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean at this time of year, when temperatures in the northern hemisphere are falling?

Location

Let's first establish where the methane releases occurred that caused these high levels. After all, high methane concentrations are visible at a number of areas, most prominently at three areas, i.e. at the center of the Arctic Ocean, in Baffin Bay and over an area in Asia stretching out from the Taklamakan Desert to the Gobi Desert.

Closer examination, illustrated by the inset, shows that the highest methane levels were recorded in the afternoon, and at altitudes where methane concentrations over these Asian deserts and over Baffin Bay were less prominent, leading to the conclusion that these high methane levels did indeed originate from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean.

The image below, showing 1950+ ppb readings over the past few days, illustrates the magnitude of the methane concentrations over the Arctic Ocean.


High concentrations persist over the Arctic Ocean

High methane concentrations have persistently shown up over the Arctic Ocean from October 1, 2013, through to January 2014. On January 19, 2014, levels as high as 2363 ppb were recorded over the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the image below.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
Causes

What caused these high releases from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean to persist for so long? At this time of year, one may have thought that the water in the Arctic Ocean would be much colder than it was, say, on October 1, 2013.

Actually, as the combination image below shows, sea surface temperatures have not decreased much at the center of the Arctic Ocean between early October, 2013 (left) and January 14, 2014 (right). In the area where these high methane concentrations occured, sea surface temperatures have remained the same, at about zero degrees Celsius.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
Furthermore, as the above image shows, surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean may have fallen dramatically with the change of season, but temperatures in the Arctic Ocean have changed only little.

In this case of course, what matters more than surface temperatures are water temperatures at greater depth. Yet, even here temperatures in the Arctic Ocean will have decreased only slightly since early October 2013, as the Gulf Stream has continued to push warmer water into the Arctic, i.e. water warmer than the water in the Arctic Ocean. In other words, the heating impact of the Gulf Stream has continued.

Furthermore, as the sea ice extent increased, there have been less opportunities for the heat to evaporate on the surface and for heat to be transferred from the Arctic Ocean to the air.

Finally, what matters a lot is salinity. The combination image below compares salinity levels between October 1, 2013 (left), and January 14, 2014 (right).

[ click on image to enlarge ]
Salinity levels were low on October 1, 2013, as a lot of ice and snow had melted in the northern summer and rivers had carried a lot of fresh water into the Arctic Ocean. After October 1, 2013, little or no melting took place, yet the Gulf Stream continued to carry waters with higher salt levels from the Atlantic Ocean into the Arctic Ocean.

Annual mean sea surface salinity
Seawater typically has a salinity level of over 3%; it freezes and melts at about −2°C (28°F). Where more saline water from the Atlantic Ocean flows into the Arctic Ocean, the water in the Arctic Ocean becomes more saline. The freezing and melting point of fresh water (i.e. zero salinity) is 0°C (or 32°F). More salinity makes frozen water more prone to melting, i.e. at temperatures lower than 0°C, or as low as −2°C.

As the salinity levels of the water on the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean increased, the ice that had until then held the methane captive in hydrates on the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean started to melt. Indeed, the areas in the Arctic Ocean where the high methane releases occurred on January 14, 2014 (top image) show several practical salinity units (psu) increase since October 1, 2013.

Higher salinity levels are now reaching the faultline that runs through the Arctic Ocean from the top of Greenland to the Laptev Sea, where major releases are taking place now, as illustrated by the image below, with faultlines added on the insets.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
Above image shows methane levels recorded on the evening of January 16, 2014 (main image). The top left inset shows all methane readings of 1950 ppb and higher on January 15 and 16, 2014, while the bottom left inset shows methane readings of 1950 ppb and higher on January 16, 2014, p.m. only and for seven layers only (from 469 to 586 mb), when levels as high as 2353 ppb were reached (at 469 mb).

Quantities

These high levels of methane showing up over the Arctic Ocean constitute only part of the methane that did escape from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. Where these high concentrations did show up, the ocean can be thousands of meters deep, giving microbes plenty of opportunity to decompose methane rising through the water first. Furthermore, the methane has to pass through sea ice that is now getting more than one meter thick in the area where these high levels of methane showed up on satellite records. In conclusion, the quantities of methane that were actually released from the seafloor must have been huge.

Importantly, these are not one-off releases, such as could be the case when hydrates get destabilized by an earthquake. As the Arctic-news blog has documented, high releases from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean have been showing up persistently since early October 2013, i.e. three months ago. This blog has warned about the threat for years. This blog has also described in detail the mechanisms that are causing these releases and the unfolding climate catastrophe that looks set to become more devastating every year.

Given that a study submitted in April 2013 concluded that 17 Tg annually was escaping from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf alone, given the vast quantity of the releases from hydrates that show up on IASI readings and given the prolonged periods over which releases from hydrates can persist, I put the methane being released from hydrates under the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean in the highest category, rivaling global emissions from fossil fuel, from agriculture and from wetlands. As said, the amounts of methane being released from hydrates will be greater than the methane that actually reaches the atmosphere. To put a figure on the latter, my estimate is that emissions from hydrates and permafrost currently amount to 100 Tg annually, a figure that is growing rapidly. This 100 Tg includes 1 Tg for permafrost, similar to IPCC estimates.



This is vastly more than the IPCC's most recent estimates, which put emissions from hydrates and permafrost at 7 Tg annually, a mere 1% of the total annual methane emissions globally, as illustrated by the image below.


Impacts and Response

Huge releases from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean have occurred persistently since early October 2013, even when releases like this may show up for one day in one area without showing up in that same area the next day on satellite images.

This apparent 'disappearance' can be due to the Coriolis effect that appears to move the methane, whereas it is in fact the Earth that is spinning underneath the methane. This doesn't mean that the methane had disappeared. Actually, much of this methane will persist over the Arctic for many years to come and will continue to exercize its very high initial warming potential over the Arctic for years.

Furthermore, even if less methane may show up on satellite images the next day, that doesn't necessarily mean that releases from the seafloor has stopped. Instead, it looks like methane is being released continuously from destabilizing hydrates. The methane may accumulate underneath the sea ice for some time, to burst through at a moment when fractures or ruptures occur in the sea ice, due to changes in wind and wave height.


The threat here is that methane will further warm up the air over the Arctic, causing further weakening of the Jet Stream and further extreme weather events, particularly extreme warming of water all the way along the path of the Gulf Stream from the Atlantic Ocean into the Arctic Ocean, in turn triggering further releases from hydrates at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean and escalating into runaway global warming. This threat calls for comprehensive and effective action, such as described at the ClimatePlan blog.





Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Abrupt Climate Change

What is Abrupt Climate Change?

Abrupt climate change is defined by the IPCC as a large-scale change in the climate system that takes place over a few decades or less, persists (or is anticipated to persist) for at least a few decades, and causes substantial disruptions in human and natural systems.

Examples of components susceptible to such abrupt change are clathrate methane release, tropical and boreal forest dieback, disappearance of summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, long-term drought and monsoonal circulation.

Deposits of methane clathrates below the sea floor are susceptible to destabilization via ocean warming.

Anthropogenic warming will very likely lead to enhanced methane emissions from both terrestrial and oceanic clathrates.

Above extracted from:
- Intergovenmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), AR5 Workgroup 1, Technical Summary

New Finding Shows Climate Change Can Happen in a Geological Instant

The Paleocene/Eocene thermal maximum (PETM) is a climate shift that occurred 55 million years ago.

James Wright, Rutgers University Research News -
Morgan Schaller, James Wright, and the core sample
that helped them understand what happened
– and how fast it happened – 55 million years ago.
In a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Morgan Schaller and James Wright present their finding that climate change can and did happen abruptly, or in geological terms, instantaneously.

Following a doubling in carbon dioxide levels, the surface of the ocean turned acidic over a period of weeks or months and global temperatures rose by 5 degrees centigrade – all in the space of about 13 years.

“We’ve shown unequivocally what happens when CO2 increases dramatically – as it is now, and as it did 55 million years ago,” James Wright said.

The film below goes into more detail regarding the current situation.

New Film: Last Hours

The film “Last Hours” describes a science-based climate scenario where a tipping point to runaway climate change is triggered by massive releases of frozen methane. Methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, has already started to percolate into the open seas and atmosphere from methane hydrate deposits beneath melting arctic ice, from the warming northern-hemisphere tundra, and from worldwide continental-shelf undersea methane pools.

“Last Hours” is narrated by Thom Hartmann and directed by Leila Conners. Executive Producers are George DiCaprio and Earl Katz.


For more, also watch some of Thom Hartmann’s interviews.

High Methane Levels persist over Arctic Ocean

High methane levels are prominent over the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the image below, covering a period from October 3, 2013, 10:54 am to October 7, 2013, 11:53 pm. The fact that methane has not been present elsewhere in such high concentrations over this period indicates that the methane wasn't carried there by the wind from elsewhere. Also, methane typically appears to move along the same latitude, due to the Coriolis effect.


The image indicates a link between seismic activity and destabilization of methane that is held in sediments under the Arctic Ocean. Methane does show up prominently along the fault line that crosses the Arctic Ocean and extends into Siberia over the Laptev Sea.

The Diagram that IPCC failed to include in AR5

The diagram below shows global warming evolving into accelerated warming in the Arctic. Feedbacks such as albedo changes and methane release speed up this process, triggering abrupt climate change and finally extinction.

The Diagram the IPCC failed to include in AR5

This threatening situation calls for an Effective and Comprehensive Climate Plan, such as depicted by the green lines of action in the image below and as further described at the ClimatePlan blog. For more background, see related posts further below.




Related posts

- Just do NOT tell them the monster exists
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2013/10/just-do-not-tell-them-the-monster-exists.html

- Methane Release caused by Earthquakes
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2013/09/methane-release-caused-by-earthquakes.html

- Climate Plan
http://climateplan.blogspot.com



Friday, September 20, 2013

A RUNAWAY GREENHOUSE EVENT

by John Davies

A linear trendline shows steady growth in the annual increase in CO2 levels, despite promises to reduce emissions.
Furthermore, recent increases show a worrying trend illustrated in the graph by a 4th order polynomial trendline. 

GROWTH RATE OF CARBON DIOXIDE IN THE ATMOSPHERE

The world is probably at the start of a runaway Greenhouse Event which will end most human life on Earth before 2040. This will occur because of a massive and rapid increase in the carbon dioxide concentration in the air which has just accelerated significantly. The increasing Greenhouse Gas concentration, the gases which cause Global Warming, will very soon cause a rapid warming of the global climate and a chaotic climate.

Immediately before the Industrial Revolution, in 1750, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air which had been stable for millennia, the main Greenhouse gas, was 280 parts per million, but in 2013 it is likely to average 395 parts per million. It has been increasing at an increasing rate since 1750.

In 1960 the carbon dioxide concentration was 315 parts per million and in the 1960’s the concentration was increasing at 0.8 parts per million per year, in the 1980’s at 1.6 parts per million and from 2003 until 2011 inclusive it rose at 2 .0 parts per year.

In 2012 it rose 2.39 parts. Between July 2012 and July 2013 atmospheric carbon dioxide increased in concentration by 3.35 parts, by far the largest 12 month increase ever.



THIS HUGE INCREASE SHOULD BE PUBLISHED EVERYWHERE WORLDWIDE NOW

ASSESSMENT

When there have been large anomalous increases in the past, though nothing like this, there has been a rapid return to near normal but this is probably slightly different. The most likely growth in the calendar year 2013 is likely to be about 2.85 parts per million, a calendar year record , but much below the growth from July 2012 until July 2013. The growth for 2012 and 2013 is likely to average out at about 2.62 parts per million, a record for a two year period.

Again, looking to the past, when there has been a rise in concentration like we will have had in 2012 and 2013 the rate of increase in concentration diminishes for a couple of years before rising again. I would expect the rise in concentration in 2014 and 2015 to average 2.55 parts per million before rising at an increasing rate thereafter assuming the world carries on with business as usual. Nevertheless this average rate is faster than we have yet witnessed except for the 2012 and 2013 period. This rate of increase is much faster than that which preceded the greatest ever wipe out of life on earth 249 million years ago.

There is a significant uncertainty about the above growth rate in the near term, with a chance of a higher and lower growth rate though the above forecast is the most likely outcome.

There must be a small chance that this is really the start of a very fast runaway event. Should the growth rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide in 2013 be greater than about 3.1 parts per million then the world will probably have entered a very fast runaway event.

It is even more absolutely critical that carbon dioxide concentrations from August 2013 onwards are rising at a slower rate than between July 2012 and July 2013 otherwise the world will have entered a very fast runaway Greenhouse Event. Carbon Dioxide concentrations will almost certainly be rising at a slower rate from August 2013 onwards.

The runaway greenhouse event, or a very fast runaway Greenhouse Event is probably just starting, and can only be stopped by an immediate response. The danger is that it will very rapidly run out of our control. I think the net negative feedback to greenhouse gas emissions is just starting to diminish. It is not clear whether this is because the sinks are absorbing less carbon dioxide or a form of positive feedback is starting probably a bit of both.

The rising carbon dioxide levels will probably lead to rising global temperatures from about 2015 onwards which will cause more climatic disruption, especially severe droughts, and thus more carbon emissions almost certainly before 2020.

This is going to occur at a time when the Arctic Ocean will probably become free of sea ice leading to a different set of runaway events which will coalesce with the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

This will lead to societal collapse after rising global temperatures have caused severe droughts and a global famine at some time prior to 2040, but probably much sooner in about 2020 or in the 2020’s.

IMMEDIATE ACTION IS CRUCIAL

The absolute priority is that the world’s public and politicians are told about the rapidly increasing rate of carbon dioxide concentrations in the air which will cause a runaway Greenhouse Event, both in the media and in social media. The gravity of the situation needs to be accepted and all nations agree to co-operate to solve the problem.

There needs to be a world conference at which all nations agree the grave situation that the world is facing and that urgent and drastic action is essential. They need to accept and agree that all nations will cut greenhouse gas emissions to an accepted and equal low level of emissions per person. This will mean that only nations with very small emissions per person like the Central African Republic will not need to make any emission cuts. The rate of increase in Carbon Dioxide needs to be cut to 2 parts per million per annum by 2015 onwards. The arctic needs to be cooled so that the sea ice does not all melt before the end of the Arctic Summer.

Reducing the rate of carbon dioxide build-up in the atmosphere will be astoundingly difficult. Emissions must be cut drastically, but this will lead to a reduction of Sulphate aerosols in the atmosphere, which might cause temperatures to rise and more carbon to be emitted from biomass as droughts become more severe. The solution is to try the relatively easy route and then use geo-engineering as necessary. This involves huge societal changes, a more egalitarian society and a smaller global economy, but if it is not done almost everybody will die.

Secondly, a group of scientists needs to be formed under the authority of the United Nations to formulate geo-engineering technologies, to go together with cuts in emissions, to reduce the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere, such as planting forests, and to cool the arctic to save the arctic sea ice.

The immediate priority is to accept the gravity of the situation and that all nations and peoples will co-operate to solve the problem.

These measures will give humanity a chance of saving civilization.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Climate change fighting town savaged by runaway oil train

by Paul Beckwith

Early in the morning on Saturday July 6th, 2013 five locomotives and 73 tank cars carrying crude oil were parked about 12.5 km uphill (track distance) from the small idyllic Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic about 210 km east of Montreal. Apparently, the sole train engineer had finished his shift and left the train (locomotives running) a few hours earlier to get some sleep in the town; the train sat unmanned awaiting the arrival of the next engineer. Something went horribly wrong; the tank cars uncoupled from the locomotives and started rolling downhill and gathering speed as they headed towards the small town.

Map 1 (from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-23221939 ) shows the town location within the province of Quebec in Canada and the general route of the oil train near the town. North is upward for all of the following maps.

Map 1

Map 2 below shows a satellite image from Google Earth of the town and nearby lake.  The red vertical line is for scale, with a length representing a 15 km distance.

Map 2
Map 3 shows a closer-up view of the town. The dark pathway is the route of the train tracks crossing the town from west-north-west to the south-east. This Google Earth image is several years old, and rail cars can be seen at the time this image was obtained beyond the track curve towards the south-east. The train track forks into a northward and southward curving line where it crosses a major road.

Map 3
Map 4 shows an even closer view of the region. The yellow line of length 0.2 km indicates the scale. Buildings within the red zone that I outlined by freehand were leveled as the train jumped the track near the fork and plowed along the orange path. I marked red dots on the individual structures within the red zone of destruction, and counted about 40 buildings. Most of these buildings were completely leveled, with the exception of a few near the perimeter of the red zone that were severely damaged.

Map 4
Map 5 indicates the general location where the train was parked and uncoupled from the 5 locomotives, in the town of Nantes, for the shift change. This Google Earth image from 2012 has an elevation of 519 m above mean sea level on the tracks at the location where some train cars are seen in this older image. This location has the highest elevation and drops off to either side along the tracks as determined from Google Earth elevations.

Map 5
Thus, from Google Earth the elevation of Nantes is determined to be roughly 519 meters, while that of the derailment zone in Lac-Mégantic is 399 meters. From simple physics, the potential energy of the train at Nantes (PE = mgh; m=mass, g=9.81 m/s2, h= height) was converted to kinetic energy at the derailment site (KE=0.5mv2). Solving for the speed of the train the mass cancels out giving v = sqrt(2*g*h) giving a value of 48.5 m/s (175 km/hr = 109 mph) which was clearly enough to cause the derailment if correct. This speed is an upper limit value, assuming no rolling resistance or air resistance or tank car braking. The actual number is certainly somewhat lower, but the amount is difficult to calculate exactly but we will estimate it. Assuming constant acceleration of the train down the hill, the time to reach the town after starting from rest at the top of the hill is given by t = 2x/v (x=length of track between locations = 12.5 km, v = speed at bottom of hill) gives a rolling time of 515 seconds (8 minutes, 35 seconds). The average acceleration along the track path down the hill is a=v/t=0.09417 m/s2 (or about 0.96% of the acceleration due to gravity). Again, this is for the no friction case, modifications for friction will be estimated shortly.

Map 6 shows the route connecting Nantes to Lac-Mégantic. The rail distance is roughly 12.5 km as measured on Google Earth and indicated by the yellow lines (connecting the red point tie dots along the track), and the vertical height change is 120 meters along this path down to the derailment site. The runaway train successfully negotiated two very sharp curves. The first is at Laval-Nord (elevation 457 m, height drop from Nantes of 62 m) giving a calculated speed of 34.9 m/s (126 km/hr), a derailment here would have taken the train into forests. The second sharp curve is 0.38 km north of the lake (elevation 431 m, height drop 88 m) with a calculated speed of 41.6 m/s (150 km/hr). Failure to negotiate the second curve would have been a derailment into the forests, and would have likely spilled crude oil that would drain into the lake.

Map 6
Map 7 from this link (map http://www.cbc.ca/news/interactives/before-after/lac-megantic/ba.html, north is down on this map) is a sliding before-and-after image that shows the buildings that were destroyed in the derailment and explosions. The after-image is also shown below. One can count 44 pancaked tank cars piled up alongside one another. The train came from the west (right side on this image which has north pointing downward) and the lead cars traveled a distance of at least 200 meters after leaving the rails. It is unclear where the other 30 or so tank cars are, presumably they still along the track behind the derailed cars (to the right on the image below).

Map 7
Some background history/information on the town can be found in this linked article: (http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/lac-megantic-history-of-a-picturesque-quebec-forestry-town-1.1357424 ).
Quoting from this article:
“According to the (town) website, it was one of 52 municipalities in Quebec to receive a "Four Blossoms" rating from the provincial organization "Les Fleurons du Quebec," which rewards municipalities for attractive greenery. It was also ranked among the first eight municipalities in Quebec to earn a "Carbon responsible" attestation, for climate-change measures, from the Enviro-access consulting company.”

Awards won by Lac-Mégantic
for climate-change measures
This award winning, climate change fighting town had no chance against the runaway oil train; which is an incredibly sad irony. Unfortunately, the train successfully negotiated two very sharp curves at speeds of 34.9 m/s and 41.6 m/s prior to entering the town of Lac-Mégantic. Derailment on either of these curves would have spared the town. In the town it derailed at roughly 48.5 m/s on a much more gradual turn crossing near or at a major road. As mentioned earlier, these speeds are upper limit speeds assuming no rolling resistance or air resistance and an on-track acceleration calculated from the basic physics of constant acceleration to be 0.96% of gravity. What is the effect of friction? If we assume a 20% reduction due to friction (rolling + aerodynamic + tank car braking) then acceleration is reduced to 0.07534 m/s2, rolling time is increased to 576 seconds, and derailment speed is reduced to 43.4 m/s (156 km/hr or 97 mph).

Still this is an incredibly fast speed that is hard to believe. Is this ridiculous? Re-examine the images (Map 7) above of the wreck zone, and observe that for more than half the train to completely derail and pancake (>44 tank cars) required an extremely high derailment speed. Going even one step further, let us now assume that there was even more friction, for example from more hydraulic braking action on the individual tank cars, such that the total frictional acceleration reduction was reduced by 50% to 0.0478 m/s2. Rolling time and derailment speed would respectively now become 723 seconds and 34.6 m/s (125 km/hr or 78 mph). I doubt this is fast enough to cause the level of pancaking and derailment distance observed, so my guess on the derailment speed would be between the two previous numbers. The train “black-box” should come out with accurate numbers after it is analyzed.

Given that train tank car transport of crude oil has increased by 28,000% in the last 5 years (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/07/07/lac-megantic-explosion-oil_n_3558647.html ) without a corresponding increase in safety inspections (and even cost cutting reductions) it is virtually certain that the frequency of accidents will increase. Pipelines are no answer to transporting oil, given that we are undergoing abrupt climate change. In fact, increases in the frequency, severity, and geographical regions of extreme weather events due to jet stream behavior completely changing due to rapid climate change is also greatly increasing the risk of oil transport by rail and pipeline from flooding, drought, heat waves, and extremely large temperature swings over short periods of time. In fact all infrastructure is being severely compromised by extreme weather. As the people in Calgary, Toronto, India, Europe, and many other places around the world are discovering first hand.


Paul Beckwith is a part-time professor with the laboratory for paleoclimatology and climatology, department of geography, University of Ottawa. He teaches second year climatology/meteorology. His PhD research topic is “Abrupt climate change in the past and present.” He holds an M.Sc. in laser physics and a B.Eng. in engineering physics and reached the rank of chess master in a previous life.