Showing posts with label snow. Show all posts
Showing posts with label snow. Show all posts

Sunday, June 5, 2016

High Temperatures In Arctic

0-2000 m Global Ocean Heat Content
Ocean heat content is rising, as illustrated by the image on the right. Where the sea ice declines, this is causing high air temperatures in the Arctic.

This year (from January to April 2016) on the Northern Hemisphere, oceans were 0.85°C or 1.53°F warmer than the 20th century average.

The image below illustrates that temperatures look set to be high in Siberia for the coming week. The panel on the right shows anomalies at the top end of the scale in Eastern Siberia on June 5, 2016, while the panel on the right shows a forecast for June 12, 2016.

These high air temperatures are causing feedbacks that are in turn further speeding up warming in the Arctic.

Warmer Rivers

Temperatures as high as 28.9°C or 83.9°F were recorded over the Mackenzie River close to the Arctic Ocean on June 13, 2016, at location marked by the green circle.

Below is a satellite image of the Mackenzie River delta on June 11, 2016

The image below shows that temperatures as high as 36.6°C or 97.8°F were forecast for June 13, 2016, over the Yenisei River in Siberia that ends in the Arctic Ocean.


Earlier this month, temperatures in Eastern Siberia were as high as 29.5°C (85°F). This was on June 5, 2016, at a location close to the coast of the Arctic Ocean (green circle).

High air temperatures come with increased risk of wildfires, as illustrated by the image below showing carbon monoxide levels as high as 2944 ppb on June 4, 2016 (at green circle).

The satellite image below zooms into the area with these high carbon monoxide readings, showing wildfires on Kamchatka Peninsula on June 3, 2016.

Albedo Loss

The image on the right shows that, this year, April snow cover on the Northern Hemisphere was the lowest on record. The added trend points at a total absence of snow by the year 2036.

Professor Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge University, says: “My prediction remains that the Arctic ice may well disappear, that is, have an area of less than one million square kilometres for September of this year.”

Warming due to Arctic snow and ice loss may well exceed 2 W per square meter, i.e. it could more than double the net warming now caused by all emissions by people of the world, Peter Wadhams calculated in 2012.

Seafloor Methane

Peter Wadhams further co-authored a study that calculated that methane release from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean could yield 0.6°C warming of the planet in 5 years (see video interview of Thom Hartmann with Peter Wadhams below).

Combined Impact Of Multiple Feebacks

In conclusion, high air temperatures in the Arctic are very worrying, as they can trigger a number of important feedbacks, i.e. the ones discussed above and further feedbacks such as:
  • Changes to Jet Streams. As the Arctic warms more rapidly than the rest of Earth, changes are occurring to the jet streams. As a result, winds can increasingly bring hot air far to the north, resulting in further loss of the Arctic snow and ice cover, in turn further warming up the Arctic.
  • Warmer Rivers. High air temperatures cause warming of the water of rivers that end up in the Arctic Ocean, thus resulting in additional sea ice decline and warming of the Arctic Ocean all the way down to the seabed.
  • Wildfires. High air temperatures set the scene for wildfires that emit not only greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, but also pollutants such as carbon monoxide that depletes hydroxyl that could otherwise break down methane, and black carbon that, when settling on ice, causes it to absorb more sunlight (see under albedo loss), besides being a climate forcer when in the atmosphere.
  • Soil destabilization. Heatwaves and droughts destabilize the soil. Soil that was previously known as permafrost, was until now held together by ice. As the ice melts, organic material in the soil starts decomposing, resulting in emissions of methane and carbon dioxide, while the soil becomes increasingly vulnerable to wildfires.
  • Buffer Loss. Arctic snow and ice cover acts as a buffer, absorbing heat that in the absence of this buffer will have to be absorbed by the Arctic Ocean, as discussed in earlier posts such as this one
  • Albedo Loss. Arctic snow and ice cover make that sunlight is reflected back into space. In the absence of this cover, the Arctic will have to absorb more heat.
  • Seafloor Methane. As sediments at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean warm, hydrates contained in these sediments could be destabilized and release huge quantities of methane.

How much warmer could it be within one decade?

The two feedbacks mentioned by Peter Wadham (albedo and seafloor methane) are are depicted in the image below.

for further discussion, see the feedbacks page
The combined global temperature rise over the next decade due to these two feedbacks (albedo and seafloor methane) alone may be 0.4°C or 0.72°F for a low-rise scenario and may be 2.7°C or 4.9°F for a high-rise scenario.

Additionally, as temperatures rise, further feedbacks will kick in more strongly, further accelerating the rise in temperature, as also discussed in earlier posts such as this one.

When also including further feedbacks, warming could exceed 10°C (18°F) within one decade, assuming that no geoengineering will take place within a decade, as discussed in earlier posts such as this one.

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


• Climate Plan

• Feedbacks in the Arctic

• East Siberian Heatwave

• Wildfire Danger Increasing

• Albedo changes in the Arctic

• Three kinds of warming in the Arctic

• Arctic could become ice-free for first time in more than 100,000 years, claims leading scientist

• Greenhouse gas levels and temperatures keep rising

• Arctic Methane Release: "Economic Time Bomb"

• February Temperature

• September 2015 Sea Surface Warmest On Record

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ocean Temperatures At Record High

Of all the excess heat that results from people's emissions, 93.4% goes into oceans. Accordingly, ocean heat has strongly increased over the years.

NOAA analysis shows that, for the oceans on the Northern Hemisphere, the June 2015 sea surface temperature was at a record high 0.87°C (1.57°F) above the 20th century average of 16.4°C (61.5°F), as also illustrated by the graph below.

The most recent 12-month period, July 2014–June 2015, also broke the record (set just last month) for the all-time warmest 12-month period in the 135-year period of record. 

As the above image shows, sea surface temperature anomalies around North America are very high, threatening to further raise temperatures of the Arctic Ocean, which already has very high sea surface temperatures, as also illustrated by the image below. 

As the image below shows, sea surface temperatures as high as 19°C (66.2°F) were recorded in the Bering Strait on July 19, 2015.

The snow depth comparison below shows the situation on July 20, 2015, on the left and a forecast for July 27, 2015, on the right. The green lines indicate areas where sea ice is at melting point. Note the decline of snow cover on Greenland and the Himalayas.

As the continued snow decline on Greenland also illustrates, high temperatures can be expected to keep causing further decline of the snow and ice cover for many weeks to come, given that the minimum sea ice extent is typically reached about half September.

As the image below shows, sea surface temperatures as high as 10.1°C (50.1°F) were recorded in Baffin Bay, off the west coast of Greenland, on July 20, 2015.

On July 21, 2015, temperatures as high as 14°C (57.1°F) were recorded east of Svalbard, an anomaly of 9.7°C (17.4°F), as illustrated by the image below, created with images.

The danger is that warm water will enter the Arctic Ocean and cause the Arctic sea ice to collapse, which could make the Arctic Ocean absorb even more heat. This could unleash huge methane eruptions from the Arctic Ocean's seafloor, in turn driving temperatures up even higher and causing more extreme weather events, wildfires, etc.

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

For the oceans on the Northern Hemisphere, the June 2015 sea surface temperature was at a record high 0.87°C (1.57°F)...
Posted by Sam Carana on Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sleeping Giant in the Arctic

Huge amounts of carbon are contained in sediments, soils and vegetation in the Arctic. Rising temperatures in the Arctic threaten to cause much of this carbon to be released to the atmosphere.

On May 23, 2015, temperatures in Alaska were as high as 91°F (32.78°C), as illustrated by the image below.

[ image credit: US National Weather Service Alaska ]
High temperatures were reached at the city of Eagle, located on the southern bank of the Yukon River, at an elevation of 853 ft (260 m). High temperatures at such a location will cause meltwater, aggravating the situation well beyond the local area.
A bank of permafrost thaws near the Kolyma
River in Siberia. Credit: University of Georgia

Carbon contained in soils will thus become increasingly exposed under the combined impact of rising temperatures and the associated growing amounts of meltwater. The meltwater can additionally cause erosion further downstream, thus making carbon at many locations become more prone to be consumed by microbes and released into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide and methane.

A recent study found that, at a location where the Kolyma river in Siberia carved into the permafrost and exposed the carbon, microbes converted 60% of the carbon into carbon dioxide in two weeks time.

Gary Houser, who recently launched the movie Sleeping Giant in the Arctic, elaborates on the threat of emissions from thawing permafrost:
This immense release would likely feed on itself, raising temperatures that continue melting more and more permafrost in a vicious, frightening, and unstoppable cycle. A tipping point could well be crossed, at which time human intervention is no longer possible. Temperatures across the planet could soar, setting in motion catastrophic levels of drought and food shortage. All life support systems on earth and life forms themselves could be placed under severe stress.

The colossal scale of the danger - and the observation of those factors lining up that could trigger it - demand that humanity exercise the precautionary principle. All political decision-making related to carbon emissions must be based on the understanding that a catastrophic consequence is looming, and the window of time for prevention quickly diminishing.
Can Thawing Permafrost Cause Runaway Global Heating?
by Gary Houser


US National Weather Service Alaska

University of Georgia

Sleeping Giant in the Arctic

Sleeping Giant in the Arctic

Posted by Sam Carana on Monday, May 25, 2015

Friday, August 15, 2014

Heatwave to hit Greenland

A heatwave with temperature anomalies exceeding 36°F (20°C) is expected to hit Greenland between August 16 and 22, 2014, as illustrated by the image on the left and the animation on the right. 

Such heatwaves can be expected to hit the Arctic more frequently and with greater intensity, as temperatures in the Arctic are rising faster than elsewhere on Earth.

Such heatwaves can result in massive melting on Greenland, as persistent heat changes the texture of the snow and ice cover, in turn reducing its reflectivity. This makes that less sunlight is reflected back into space and is instead absorbed. 

The image below illustrates what a difference the presence of sea ice can make.
from: Arctic Warming due to Snow and Ice Demise
As the NSIDC/NOAA graphs below shows, melting on Greenland has been relatively modest this year when compared to the situation in 2012. By July 12, 2012, 97% of the ice sheet surface had thawed, according to this NASA analysis and this NOAA Arctic Report Card.

Melting on Greenland directly affects sea level rise, and melting on Greenland is accelerating due to a number of factors.

Projections of melting on Greenland have long been based on a warming atmosphere only, ignoring the warmer waters that lubricate glaciers and that warm Greenland's bedrock canyons that sit well below sea level.

Furthermore, there are growing quantities of black carbon deposits as a result of burning of fossil fuel and biomass. High temperatures have recently caused ferocious wildfires in Canada that have in turn caused a lot of black carbon to go up high into the atmosphere.

And of course, the atmosphere over the Arctic is warming up much faster than most models had projected. This in turn causes triggers further feebacks, including more extreme weather events such as heatwaves and rain storms that can be expected to hit Greenland with ever more frequency and ferocity. Further feedbacks include methane eruptions from the heights of Greenland, as discussed at the Arctic Feedbacks Page.

When also taking into account the accelerating impact of such factors on melting in Greenland, sea levels could rise much faster than anticipated, as illustrated by the image below.

from: more than 2.5m sea level rise by 2040? 

Note that sea level rise is only one of the many dangers of global warming, as discussed in the 2007 post Ten Dangers of Global Warming.

The image on the right shows a temperature forecast for August 16, 2014, with parts of Greenland changing in color from blue into green, i.e. above the melting point for snow and ice.

Such high temperatures are now hitting locations close to the North Pole ever more frequently, due to the many feedbacks that are accelerating warming in the Arctic, as discussed at this Feedbacks page.

One of the most dangerous feedbacks is a sudden eruption of huge quantities of methane from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, as discussed in a recent post.

The impact of such feedbacks can be accumulative and interactive, resulting in self-reinforcing feedbacks loops that can escalate into runaway warming.

Below is another forecast by ClimateReanalyzer for August 16, 2014, showing the remarkable ‘greening’ of Greenland, as well as the very high temperatures reaching the higher latitudes of North America.

Also see the very high sea surface temperatures around Greenland on the image below, created with ClimateReanalyzer.

Sea surface temperature anomalies on August 15, 2014. 
In conclusion, the situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as discussed at the Climate Plan blog

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Extreme weather strikes around the globe - update

As the weather gets more extreme, disaster strikes around the globe. The Guardian reports three people killed as storms continue to batter southern UK. The Vancouver Sun reports that a U.S. Northeast snowstorm kills 25. And the Sacramento Bee reports Six dead and 1,000 injured in fresh Japan snow storm.

What is the story behind these extreme weather events? The image below tells the story. The Arctic has been much warmer than it used to be, due to numerous feedbacks that accelerate warming in the Arctic. This reduces the temperature differential between the Arctic and lower latitudes, which changes the Jet Stream and Polar Vortex, in turn making the weather at many places ever more extreme.

 earlier forecasts by
Above image illustrates the situation, showing an Arctic Ocean that is warmer than the higher latitudes of the Asian and North American continents.

Arctic sea ice has meanwhile reached record lows, as illustrated by the image below.

The situation can be expected to get even worse. The image below shows sea ice extent, as measured by the NSIDC, which is one day ahead compared to above image.

Below, two regular contributors to the Arctic-news blog comment on the situation.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Extreme weather strikes around the globe

  Editorial note: this post has meanwhile been updated as
Extreme weather strikes around the globe update.

As the weather gets more extreme, disaster strikes around the globe.

Here's a snapsnot from today's news. In London, the BBC reports, flooded homes along the River Thames are being evacuated and thousands more are at risk. In Japan, reports Reuters, eleven people died, more than a thousand were injured and tens of thousands lost power when the worst snowstorm in decades hit Tokyo and areas around the Japanese capital before heading north to blanket the tsunami-hit Pacific coast. Many countries in the Middle East were hit by snow. The BBC reports that heavy snow in northern Iran has left around 480,000 homes without power and some towns and villages cut off.

What is causing these extreme weather events? The image below tells the story. While at times it has been cold at many places around the world, when averaged over the past 30 days, temperatures around the globe have actually been several degrees higher than they used to be. The Arctic has been hit hardest, with anomalies as high as 21°C over this 30 day period. This affects the Jet Stream and Polar Vortex, which in turn is making the weather ever more extreme.

The situation is further illustrated by the forecasts below.

And while the sea ice didn't look too bad at the start of the year, growth has meanwhile stopped, as illustrated by the image below.

Added below are two videos by Paul Beckwith, further discussing the situation.

Editor's note: Reanalysis of temperature anomaly Jan 12 - Feb 10, 2014.
Meanwhile, I've added another image (above), created with NOAA's reanalysis, which compares temperatures to a larger dataset, and the colors look a lot different, so NOAA may indeed have mixed the colors up somewhat in the initial image, as Albert suggested at the Facebook discussion (click on image below).

Anyway, the point made in the post remains, i.e. that as global warming continues, warming in the Arctic accelerates more rapidly than at lower latitudes, which weakens the polar vortex and jet stream in a self-reinforcing feedback that causes the Arctic to warm up even further compared with lower latitudes.

As said, the situation calls for comprehensive and effective action, as discussed at the Climate Plan blog.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Temperature Rise

Surface Temperature Rise

How much have temperatures risen over the past 100 years or so? In the image below, Peter Carter points at the aerosols from volcanic eruptions and fossil fuel combustion that temporarily delay the full impact of global warming.

Temperature Rise hits Arctic most strongly

In above image, temperature anomalies are compared to a 3-decade base period from 1951 to 1980. To highlight the full wrath of global warming, it is more informative to compare anomalies with an earlier base period. Furthermore, a short running mean better shows how high peaks can reach.

NASA typically compares temperature change relative to 1951-1980, because the U.S. National Weather Service uses a three-decade period to define "normal" or average temperature. The NASA GISS analysis effort began around 1980, so the most recent 30 years at the time was 1951-1980.1

But as said, it is more informative to use a 30-year base period that starts earlier. To show Gobal & Arctic Temperature Change, James Hansen and Makiko Sato used a 1951-1980 base period next to a 1880-1920 base period. For this post, a 1883-1912 base period was selected to create the above image, and this same base period was selected to create the image below.

Above image shows that the Arctic is hit most strongly by the temperature rise. Note that the anomalies in above image are visualized by latitude, but are averaged by longitude globally, masking even higher anomalies that can be experienced at specific longitudes. At times, some areas in the Arctic do already experience anomalies of over 20°C, as shown in the animation below, based on NOAA data for the period December 7, 2011 - January 21, 2012.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Dark Snow Project - Research into soot on Greenland

Fossil fuel combustion creates carbon emissions that increase atmospheric thickness, warming climate. The occurrence of wildfire increases with climate warming, increasing soot loading of the atmosphere. Some of this soot is transported through the atmosphere and is deposited on glaciers, lowering their reflectivity, increasing solar energy absorption, increasing melt rates.
image from

In parts of Greenland where winter snow loss during each melt season exposes impurity-rich bare ice, the surface reflectivity drops from 85% to 30%. Consequently, most of the 24-hour sunlight goes into ice melt. In this Dark Zone, the impact of soot manifests strongest in a self-reinforcing feedback loop that research by Jason Box has shown to have doubled melt rates in the past decade.

High on the inland ice sheet where melting is rare, satellite data show surface darkening making the researchers suspect that wildfire and industrial soot are to blame. Darkening here promotes snowpack heating, bringing earlier melt, keeping melt going longer. Here is where this feedback is changing the ice sheet in surprising ways, leading to complete surface melting in year 2012.

To measure the extent to which soot particles enhance melting, Jason Box is organizing a Greenland ice sheet expedition for 2013. The Dark Snow Project expedition is to be the first of its kind, made possible by crowd-source funding.


Fire and Ice: Wildfires Darkening Greenland Snowpack, Increasing Melting (News Release from Byrd Polar Center)

- The DarkSnowProject

-Video: Sampling Greenland, the Dark Snow Project, by Peter Sinclair, produced at Greenman Studio, Midland, MI.

- Where there’s fire there’s smoke - Blog by Jason Box, the

Further reading

- Greenland is melting at incredible rate

Friday, December 28, 2012

Albedo changes in the Arctic

How global warming and feedbacks are causing huge albedo changes in the Arctic.

Snow cover decline

Decline of the snow cover on land in the northern hemisphere is accelerating, as illustrated by the image below and the image underneath on the right. (1)

Image credit: Rutgers University
Fresh snow can have an albedo as high as 0.85, meaning that up to 85% of the sunlight falling on snow can get reflected back into space. As the snow melts, its structure changes making it less reflective, i.e. its albedo will go down, to as low as 40%. (2)

As a result, more sunlight gets absorbed, accelerating the melting process. Eventually, where snow melts away, spots of bare soil become exposed, and dark wet soil has a very low albedo, reflecting only between 5% and 15% of the sunlight. Thus, even more sunlight gets absorbed and the soil's temperature increases, causing more of the remaining snow to melt. (2)

Changes in vegetation can further accelerate this process. Russia's boreal forest - the largest continuous expanse of forest in the world - has seen a transformation in recent years from larch to conifer trees. Larch trees drop their needles in the fall, allowing the vast, snow-covered ground in winter to reflect sunlight and heat back into space and helping to keep temperatures in the region very cold. But conifers such as spruce and fir retain their needles, which absorb sunlight and increase the forest's ground-level heat retention. (3)

Albedo, from Wikipedia
A conversion from larch to evergreen stands in low-diversity regions of southern Siberia would generate a local positive radiative forcing of 5.1±2.6 W m−2. This radiative heating would reinforce the warming projected to occur in the area under climate change. (4)

Tundra in the Arctic used to be covered by a white blanket of snow most of the year. However, as the landscape is warming up, more trees and shrubs appear. Scientists who studied part of the Eurasian Arctic, found that willow and alder shrubs, once stunted by harsh weather, have been growing upward to the height of trees in recent decades. They now rise above the snowfall, presenting a dark, light-absorbing surface. This increased absorption of the Sun's radiation, combined with microclimates created by forested areas, adds to global warming, making an already-warming climate warm even more rapidly. (5 & 6)

Furthermore, encroachment of trees onto Arctic tundra caused by the warming may cause large release of carbon to the atmosphere, concludes a recent study. This is because tundra soil contains a lot of stored organic matter, due to slow decomposition, but the trees stimulate the decomposition of this material. (7)

Sea ice decline

In the Arctic, sea ice volume has fallen dramatically over the years, as illustrated by the image on the right. The trend points at 2014 as the year when Arctic sea ice will first reach zero volume for some time during that year. (8)

The Arctic Ocean looks set to be ice-free for a period of at least three months in 2015 (August, September and October), and for a period of at least 6 months from the year 2020 (June through to November). (9)

Decline of the Arctic sea ice is accelerating, due to numerous feedbacks. As the Arctic atmosphere warms up, any snow cover on top of the ice will melt away ever quickly, decreasing the surface albedo and thus reinforcing the warm-up. As melt ponds appear on top of the ice, the albedo will drop even further.

Sam Carana's Diagram of Doom pictures ten feedbacks that jointly work to accelerate sea ice decline. (10)

The image below shows the three areas where albedo change will be felt most in the Arctic, i.e. sea ice loss, decline of albedo in Greenland and more early and extensive retreat of snow and ice cover in other areas in the Arctic. (8)

Big changes in the Arctic within years, by Sam Carana


1. Northern Hemisphere Snow Cover Anomalies 1967-2012 June, Rutgers University

2. Albedo, Albedo Change blog

3. Shift in Northern Forests Could Increase Global Warming, Scientific American, March 28, 2011

4. Sensitivity of Siberian larch forests to climate change, Shuman et al., April 5, 2011,

5. Warming turns tundra to forest

6. Eurasian Arctic greening reveals teleconnections and the potential for structurally novel ecosystems, Macias-Fauria et al., 2012

7. Expansion of forests in the European Arctic could result in the release of carbon dioxide, University of Exeter news, June 18, 2012

8. Big changes in the Arctic within years, Sam Carana, October 26, 2012, Arctic-News blog

9. Getting the Picture, Sam Carana, August 2012, Arctic-News blog

10. Diagram of Doom, Sam Carana, August 2012, Arctic-News blog

Further reading

- Albedo change in the Arctic

- Greenland is melting at incredible rate

- Albedo change in the Arctic threatens to cause runaway global warming

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Arctic anomalies linked to extreme weather

Surface temperature anomalies of 20 degrees Celsius are not uncommon in the Arctic these days. The image below shows surface temperature anomalies on November 9 and 10, 2012.

Paul Beckwith, regular contributor to this blog, comments as follows on the conditions in the Arctic:
“The Arctic meteorology is unprecedented at the moment. Huge ridges of high pressure are crossing the Arctic ocean cutting off the Siberian cold region from the North American region. Very little cold air is present in the entire system, and it is exhibiting very bizzare fragmentation. Nothing like a “normal” polar vortex is apparent.

The ridge could just be due to this greatly reduced volume of cold air, but I suspect there is much more to the situation then that. It seems that there must be some source of heat to create this ridge. Could be warm air rising up from open water regions in the Arctic, however most of the warm water is now isolated from the atmosphere by the sea ice.

It seems more likely to me that the high levels of methane with GWP > 150 or higher are causing higher long-wave absorption and heating in these regions, but I have not seen methane concentration distributions over the Arctic from AIRS satellites lately.”
So, let's have a look at the methane levels for those days. The image below shows the methane levels for the above two days.

Paul continues:
“This is what abrupt climate change looks like. In the paleorecords global average temperatures increased over 6 degrees C within a decade or two, I suppose we will know more precise numbers in a few short years.”

Paul repeats the prediction he made back in June in this the post When the sea ice is gone
Paul Beckwith, B.Eng, M.Sc. (Physics),
Ph. D. student (Climatology) and
Part-time Professor, University of Ottawa
My projections for our planet conditions when the sea-ice has all vanished year round (PIOMAS graph projects about 2024 for this; I forecast 2020 for this) are:
  • Average global temperature: 22°C (+/- 1°C)
    (rise of 6-8°C above present day value of about 15°C)
  • Average equatorial temperature: 32°C
    (rise of 2 °C above present day value of 30°C)
  • Average Arctic pole temperature: 10°C
    (rise of 30°C above present day value of -20°C)
  • Average Antarctica pole temperature: -46°C
    (rise of 4°C above present day value of -50°C)
  • Water vapor in atmosphere: higher by 50%
    (rise of 4% over last 30 years, i.e. about 1.33% rise per decade)
  • Average temperature gradient from equator to North pole: 22°C
    (decrease of 28°C versus present day value of 50°C)
  • Very weak jet streams (driven by N-S humidity gradient and weak temperature gradient as opposed to existing large temperature gradient)

- Result: very fragmented, disjointed weather systems
- Basic weather: tropical rainforest like in some regions; arid deserts in others with few regions in between.

Note: This scenario would require significant emissions of methane from the Arctic. Without this methane, the scenario would still occur but would take longer. Disclaimer: Best guess and subject to rolling revisions!

Meanwhile, extreme weather continues to strike areas outside the Arctic. In the U.K, airports were closed due to snow, following a period of heavy rainfall in November.

In Russia, extreme weather caused a huge traffic jam; see the BBC reports here and here, prompting Veli Albert Kallio, also one of this blog's contributors, to make the following comments:
Veli Albert Kallio in front of Peter Wadhams and John Nissen at
APPCCG event, March 13, 2012, House of Commons, London
“The Ewing-Dunn Precipitation (the lake-effect snow) from warmed-up Arctic Ocean has taken the Russian Government's winter preparations by suprise of its severity, with the Russian Government minister banging his fist as standing queues of vehicles reoccurs and is now 190 kilometres (120 miles) long between the capital Moscow and St. Petersburg.

I have been warning from the leaked files since July at this and other groups that December 2012 was going to be like this. We need to tell the Russian Interior Minister who bangs his fist on TV that he should not blame his road officials, but the global warming and loss of sea ice from the Barents and Kara Seas and generally warmed up North Atlantic - Arctic Ocean regions.”

Friday, October 26, 2012

Big changes in Arctic within years

Above interactive graphic illustrates the decline of the annual sea ice minimum volume in the Arctic over the years.

What trend can best be fitted to these data? Below, I've added a trendline that I believe best fits the data, but I encourage others to come up with better trends.

The trend points at 2014 as the year when Arctic sea ice will first reach zero volume for some time during that year. As discussed in the earlier post Getting the Picture, the Arctic Ocean looks set to be ice-free for a period of at least three months in 2015 (August, September and October), and for a period of at least 6 months from the year 2020 (June through to November).

Natural variability and strong feedbacks may speed things up further. Decline of sea ice in 2012 was such that we can expect a very low volume in December 2012, which could lead to inclusion of December in the period projected to be ice-free from 2020. That would make the ice-free period seven month long, i.e. well over half a year.

The image below shows the three areas where albedo change will be felt most in the Arctic, i.e. sea ice loss, decline of albedo in Greenland and more early and extensive retreat of snow and ice cover in other areas in the Arctic.


- Getting the Picture

- Albedo change in the Arctic

- Greenland is melting at incredible rate

- Albedo change in the Arctic threatens to cause runaway global warming