Showing posts with label sea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sea. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Arctic Ocean February 2020

On February 20, 2020, 09Z, surface temperature anomalies reached both ends of the scale over North America, while the Arctic was 3.7°C or 6.7°F warmer than in 1979-2000. On that day, the average 2 m temperature anomaly for the Arctic was 3.5°C or 6.3°F.

These high temperature anomalies at 2 meters in the left panel go hand in hand with the wind patterns at 250 hPa (jet stream) as shown in the center panel and the wind patterns at 10 meters shown in the right panel. Closer to sea level, circular winds around low pressure areas bring warm air into the Arctic, from Russia and from the Pacific Ocean.

Above image shows winds at 250 hPa (jet stream) with speeds as high as 317 km/h or 197 mph (green circle) in the left panel, while the right panel shows circular winds at 850 hPa reaching speeds as high as 176 km/h or 109 mph (green circle).

These wind patterns have caused much warm air to enter the Arctic, while relatively little cold air has moved out of the Arctic. Furthermore, stronger winds cool the sea surface. As a result, Arctic sea ice extent on February 24, 2020, was 14.1 million km², slightly more than the 2010s average of 14 million km².

Arctic sea ice, however, is very thin. Stronger winds can also accelerate the speed at which ever warmer water is flowing into the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic Ocean and from the Pacific Ocean, as discussed in a previous post. The overall result is that sea ice volume is at a record low for the time of the year.

This is further illustrated by the sea ice thickness (in meters) comparison below between February 28, 2015 and February 28, 2020, i.e. forecasts for February 28, run on February 27.

Rise in greenhouse gas levels is accelerating

Temperatures are rising at ever faster speed as the rise in greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere is accelerating. As illustrated by the image below, the daily average CO₂ level at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, was 416.08 ppm on February 10, 2020, higher than it has been for millions of years. Since the annual peak is typically reached in May, even higher levels can be expected soon.

From the way emissions are rising now, it looks like we could soon reach even higher CO₂e forcing than during the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) mass extinction event, some 55.5 million years ago, as discussed in a previous post. Very worrying also is the recent rise in methane levels recorded at Barrow, Alaska, as illustrated by the image below.

The buffer is gone

As the sea ice is getting thinner, there is little or no buffer left to consume the influx of ever warmer and salty water from the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean. As illustrated by the image below, 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.

[ from earlier post ]
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. But there is ever less sea ice volume left to absorb ocean heat, and 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.

Meanwhile, temperatures keep rising globally and more than 90% of global warming is going into oceans.

As the temperature of the oceans keeps rising, the danger increases that heat will reach the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean and will destabilize hydrates contained in sediments at the seafloor, resulting in huge releases of methane.

Are humans functionally extinct?

For more background as to when temperatures
could cross 2°C, see also this discussion on trends 
Species can be regarded to be ‘functionally extinct’ when their numbers have declined below levels needed for them to reproduce healthy offspring. This can occur due to causes such as loss of habitat and disappearance of other species that they depend on.

Species can also be declared to be ‘functionally extinct’ when they are threatened to be wiped out by a catastrophe that appears to be both imminent and inescapable, which would cause their numbers to dwindle below a critical threshold required for survival of the species.

Rising temperatures now threaten most, if not all, species to go extinct in a matter of years. In 2020, the global temperature rise could cross the critical guardrail of 2°C above preindustrial that politicians at the Paris Agreement promised would not be crossed. In fact, they pledged to take efforts to avoid a 1.5°C rise. Their failure to do so constitutes a de facto declaration that humans are now functionally extinct and that the looming temperature rise will drive most, if not all species on Earth into extinction.

See also the 2015 postWARNING - 
Dire Situation

The situation is dire, in many respects. Current laws punish people for the most trivial things, while leaving the largest crime one can imagine unpunished: planetary omnicide!

In the video below, Guy McPherson warns that a rapid decline in industrial activity could result in an abrupt rise in temperature of 1°C, as much of the aerosol masking effect falls away.

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

P.S. Don't forget to vote!

One of the most important things one can do to change things is to vote, e.g. in the U.S., vote for Bernie Sanders and the Green New Deal!

Fossil fuel and control over its supply is behind much of the conflict, violence and pollution that has infested the world for more than a century.

Instead of using fossil fuel, the world must rapidly transition to the use of wind turbines, geothermal power, solar power, wave power, and similar clean and renewable ways to generate energy.

The transition to clean, renewable energy removes much cause for conflict, since it is available locally around the world and its use in one place doesn't exclude use of clean, renewable energy elsewhere.

The transition to clean, renewable energy will provide greater energy security and reliability, besides its numerous further benefits, e.g. it will make more land and water available for growing food and it will give us more jobs, better health, and a cleaner environment. And, because it's more economic, the transition to clean, renewable energy will pay for itself as we go.

Bernie Sanders calls for a rapid transition to clean, renewable energy as part of the Green New Deal.

Please share this message, vote for Bernie Sanders and support the GND!


• Climate Plan

• Why stronger winds over the North Atlantic are so dangerous

• Critical Tipping Point Crossed In July 2019

• Could Humans Go Extinct Within Years?

• January 2020 Temperature Anomaly

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Extinction in 2020?

Above image depicts how humans could go extinct as early as 2020. The image was created with NASA LOTI 1880-Nov.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-Nov.2019 data. Red: a short-term trend, based on Jan.2009-Nov.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.

How was above image created? Let's first look at the baseline. The NASA default baseline is 1951-1980. The added trend in the image below shows early 1900s data to be well below this 1951-1980 baseline. In this analysis, a 0.28°C adjustment was therefore used to reflect this, and to reflect a 1750 baseline, a further 0.3°C was used, adding up to a 0.58°C baseline adjustment.

Furthermore, the NASA Land+Ocean temperature index (LOTI) uses sea surface temperatures, but ocean air temperatures seem more appropriate, which adds a further 0.1°C adjustment. Also, when comparing current temperatures with preindustrial ones, it's hard to find data for the polar areas. Treating these data as 'missing' would leave important heating out of the picture. After all, the polar areas are heating up much faster than the rest of the world, and especially so in the Arctic region. Therefore, a further 0.1°C adjustment was used to reflect higher polar temperature anomalies, resulting in the above-mentioned 0.78°C adjustment.

Finally, the red trend illustrates El Niño/La Niña variability. As discussed in a recent post, an El Niño is forecast for 2020 and this could be the catalyst to trigger huge methane releases from the Arctic Ocean.

The image below shows El Niño/La Niña variability going back to 1950, added to the NOAA monthly temperature anomaly.

As said, the Arctic region is heating up much faster than the rest of the world. There are several reasons why this is the case. Decline of the sea ice makes that less sunlight gets reflected back into space and that more sunlight is reaching the Arctic Ocean. This also causes more water vapor and clouds to appear over the Arctic Ocean. Furthermore, Arctic sea ice has lost most of the thicker multi-year ice that used to extend meters below the surface, consuming huge amounts of ocean heat entering the Arctic Ocean along ocean currents from the North Atlantic and the North Pacific oceans.

[ created with NOAA Arctic Report Card 2019 image ]
Above-mentioned feedbacks (albedo changes and more water vapor and clouds) contribute to higher temperatures in the Arctic. Furthermore, as the temperature difference between the North Pole and the Equator narrows, the jet stream changes, which can lead to further Arctic heating, i.e. higher temperatures of the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean and over land around the Arctic Ocean, which in turn causes higher temperatures of the water flowing into the Arctic Ocean from rivers.

Furthermore, jet stream changes can also cause additional heating of parts of the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
Above image shows that sea surface temperature anomalies off the East Coast of North America as high as 13.6°C or 24.4°F were recorded on December 18, 2019.

Ocean currents can bring huge amounts of heat into the Arctic Ocean, and this can be amplified due to cyclones speeding up the inflow of water from the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean into the Arctic Ocean.

As above image shows, the temperature rise of the oceans on the Northern Hemisphere is accelerating. This constitutes a critical tipping point, 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, since low air temperatures will cause freezing of surface water, the latent heat buffer has gone.

As long as there is sea ice, this 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 danger is that, as Arctic Ocean heating accelerates further, hot water will reach sediments at the Arctic Ocean seafloor and trigger massive methane eruptions, resulting in a huge abrupt global temperature rise. As discussed in an earlier post, a 3°C will likely suffice to cause extinction of humans.

Earlier this year, an Extinction Alert was issued, followed by a Stronger Extinction Alert.

In a rapid heating scenario:
  1. a strong El Niño would contribute to
  2. early demise of the Arctic sea ice, i.e. latent heat tipping point +
  3. associated loss of sea ice albedo,
  4. destabilization of seafloor methane hydrates, causing eruption of vast amounts of methane that further speed up Arctic warming and cause
  5. terrestrial permafrost to melt as well, resulting in even more emissions,
  6. while the Jet Stream gets even more deformed, resulting in more extreme weather events
  7. causing forest fires, at first in Siberia and Canada and
  8. eventually also in the peat fields and tropical rain forests of the Amazon, in Africa and South-east Asia, resulting in
  9. rapid melting on the Himalayas, temporarily causing huge flooding,
  10. followed by drought, famine, heat waves and mass starvation, and
  11. collapse of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
[ from an earlier post ]

The precautionary principle calls for appropriate action when dangerous situations threaten to develop. How can we assess such danger? Risk is a combination of probability that something will eventuate and severity of the consequences. Regarding the risk, there is growing certainty that climate change is an existential threat, as discussed in a recent post. There's a third dimension, i.e. timescale. Imminence alone could make that a danger needs to be acted upon immediately, comprehensively and effectively. While questions may remain regarding probability, severity and timescale of the dangers associated with climate change, the precautionary principle should prevail and this should prompt for action, i.e. comprehensive and effective action to reduce damage is imperative and must be taken as soon as possible.

The image below gives a visual illustration of the danger.

Polynomial trendlines can point at imminent danger by showing that acceleration could eventuate in the near future, e.g. due to feedbacks. Polynomial trendlines can highlight such acceleration and thus warn about dangers that could otherwise be overlooked. This can make polynomial trendlines very valuable in climate change analysis. In the image below, the green linear trend and the blue polynomial trend are long-term trends (based on Jan.1880-Nov.2019 data), smoothing El Niño/La Niña variability, but the blue polynomial trend better highlights the recent temperature rise than the green linear trend does. The red short-term trend (based on Jan.2009-Nov.2019 data) has the highest R² (0.994) and highlights how El Niño could be the catalyst for huge methane eruptions from the Arctic Ocean, triggering a huge global temperature rise soon.

The image below, from an earlier post, explains the speed at which warming elements can strike, i.e. the rise could for a large part occur within years and in some cases within days and even immediately.

As the image below shows, peak methane levels as high as 2737 parts per billion (ppb) were recorded by the MetOp-2 satellite in the afternoon of December 20th, 2019, at 469 mb. Ominously, a large part of the atmosphere over the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) is colored solid magenta, indicating methane levels above 1950 ppb.

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


• NASA - GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP v4)

• NOAA Northern Hemisphere ocean temperature anomalies through November 2019

• NOAA - Monthly temperature anomalies versus El Niño

• 2020 El Nino could start 18°C temperature rise

• NOAA Arctic Report Card 2019

• Critical Tipping Point Crossed In July 2019

• Most Important Message Ever

• Accelerating greenhouse gas levels

• Debate and Controversy

• Extinction Alert

• Stronger Extinction Alert

• Abrupt Warming - How Much And How Fast?

• Climate Plan

Monday, April 2, 2018

How much warmer is it now?

The IPCC appears to be strongly downplaying the amount of global warming that has already occurred and that looks set to eventuate over the next decade or so, according to a leaked draft of the IPCC 'Special Report on 1.5°C above pre-industrial'. The 'First Order Draft of the Summary for Policy Makers' estimates that the global mean temperature reached approximately 1°C above pre-industrial levels around 2017/2018.

Let's go over the numbers step by step, by following the image below line by line (click on the image to enlarge it).

NASA's data for the two most recent years for which data are available (2016/2017) show a warming of 0.95°C when using a baseline of 1951-1980 and a warming of 1.23°C when using a baseline of 1890-1910 (left map on image below). In other words, using this earlier baseline results in an additional 0.28°C rise. When using an even earlier baseline, i.e. 1750 or preindustrial, it could be 1.53°C warmer, as discussed in an earlier post.

In other words, merely changing the baseline to preindustrial, as agreed to at the Paris Agreement, can show that we're already above the 1.5°C guardrail that the Paris Agreement had pledged we should not cross.

There's more! As a recent publication points out, most methods that calculate the global temperature use sea surface temperatures. However, doesn't it make more sense to calculate the temperature of the air just above the sea surface? Measuring air temperature at the surface is done in the case of temperatures over land, where one doesn't measure the temperature of the soil or rocks when telling people how warm it is. Since air surface temperatures are slightly higher than sea surface temperatures, the result of looking at air surface temperatures across the globe would be a temperature that is approximately 0.1°C warmer. Furthermore, many areas in the Arctic may not have been adequately reflected in the global temperature, e.g. because insufficient data were available. Since the Arctic has been warming much faster than the rest of the world, inclusion of those areas would add another 0.1°C to the rise. Adding this to the above 1.53°C rise makes that it's already 1.73°C (or 3.11°F) warmer than preindustrial.

Another question is over what period measurements should be taken when assessing whether thresholds have been crossed. When focusing on temperatures during specific months, the rise could be much higher than the annual average. So, does it make more sense to look at a monthly peak rather than at a long-term average?

When building a bridge and when calculating what load the bridge should be able to handle, it makes sense to look at peak traffic and at times when a lot of heavy trucks happen to be on the bridge. That makes a lot more sense than only looking at the average weight of cars driving over the bridge during a period of - say - one, two or thirty years.

Accordingly, the right panel of the top image shows numbers for February 2016 when temperature anomalies were particularly high. When looking at this monthly anomaly, we are already 2.37°C (or 4.27°F) above preindustrial, i.e. well above the 2°C guardrail that the Paris Agreement had pledged we should definitely not cross.

Should the temperature rise be calculated using a longer period? The IPCC appears to have arrived at its temperature rise estimate by using an extrapolation or near term predictions of future warming so that the level of anthropogenic warming is reported for a 30 year period centered on today.

The image below, from an earlier post, shows global warming for a 30-year period centered on January 2018, using NASA 2003 to January 2018 LOTI anomalies from 1951-1980, adjusted by 0.59°C to cater for the rise from preindustrial to 1951-1980, and with a polynomial trend added.

If above trendline is adjusted by a further 0.2°C, by shifting to air temperatures instead of sea surface temperatures, and by better reflecting Arctic temperatures, then the trendline looks set to cross the 2°C guardrail in 2018. So, will Earth cross 2°C in 2018?

Above images illustrate the importance of what's going to happen next. The temperature rise up until now may well be dwarfed by what's yet to come and the outlook may well be even worse than what most fear will eventuate. The image below, from an earlier post, shows a steep rise from 2016 to 2026, due to the combined impact of the warming elements listed in the left box of the image below.

Meanwhile, the rise in carbon dioxide levels appears to be accelerating, as illustrated by the images below.

Indeed, despite pledges made at the Paris Agreement to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial, the rise in CO₂ since preindustrial, i.e. 1750, still appears to be accelerating.

On March 18, 2018, the sea surface temperature near Svalbard (at the green circle) was 16.7°C or 62.1°F, i.e. 14.7°C or 26.4°F warmer than the daily average during the years 1981-2011.

On March 30, 2018, methane levels as high as 2624 parts per billion were recorded.

On April 1, 2018, methane levels as high as 2744 parts per billion were recorded.

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


• Climate Plan

• Extinction

• How much warming have humans caused?

• IPCC seeks to downplay global warming

• 2016 well above 1.5°C

• Interpretations of the Paris climate target, by Andrew Schurer et al.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Action must be taken now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 4, 2016

2016 Arctic Sea Ice Headed To Zero

The image below shows that Arctic sea ice extent on July 3, 2016, was 8,707,651 square km, i.e. less than the 8.75 million square km that extent was on July 3, 2012.

In September 2012, Arctic sea ice extent reached a record low. Given that extent now is only slightly lower than it was in 2012 at the same time of year, can extent this year be expected to reach an even lower minimum, possibly as low as zero ice in September 2016?

The ice this year is certainly headed in that direction, given that the sea ice now is much thinner than it was in 2012. The image below shows sea ice thickness on July 7, 2012, in the left-hand panel, and adds a forecast for July 7, 2016 in the right-hand panel.

Besides being thinner, sea ice now is also much more slushy and fractured into small pieces. The animation below shows that the sea ice close to the North Pole on July 4, 2016, was heavily fractured into pieces that are mostly smaller in size than 10 x 10 km or 6.2 x 6.2 miles. By comparison, sea ice in the same area did develop large cracks in 2012, but even in September 13, 2012, it was not broken up into small pieces.

One big reason behind the dire state the sea ice is in now is ocean heat. On July 2, 2016, sea surface near Svalbard (at the location marker by the green circle) was as warm as 16.7°C or 62.1°F, i.e. 13.5°C or 24.3°F warmer than 1981-2011. This gives an indication how much warmer the water is that is entering the Arctic Ocean.

As the sea ice disappears, less sunlight gets reflected back into space, resulting in additional warming of the Arctic Ocean. In October 2016, the sea ice will return, sealing off the Arctic Ocean, resulting in less heat being able to escape, at the very time the warmest water is entering the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The danger of this situation is that a large amount of heat will reach the seafloor and destabilize hydrates, resulting in huge abrupt methane releases that will further contribute to warming. When adding in further factors such as discussed e.g. at this earlier post, this adds up to a potential temperature rise of more than 10°C or 18°F compared to pre-industrial times in less than ten years time from now.

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