Thursday, July 13, 2017


Levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere are accelerating, even though emissions from fossil fuel burning have remained virtually the same over the past few years.

One of the reason behind this is accelerating emissions from wildfires as temperatures are rising.

Wildfires in Nevada caused CO2 to reach levels as high as 742 ppm on July 12, 2017 (green circle image on the right).

Global warming is greatly increasing the chance for what was previously seen as an extreme weather event to occur, such as a combination of droughts and storms. Heat waves and droughts can cause much vegetation to be in a bad condition, while high temperatures can come with strong winds, storms and lightning.

Wildfires cause a range of emissions, including CO2, soot, methane and carbon monoxide (CO). In Nevada, CO levels were as high as 30.43 ppm (green circle image right).

Above satellite image below shows the smoke plumes and the charred area. The google maps image below further shows where the fires were burning.

At the moment, wildfires are hitting many places around the world.

Wildfires caused carbon dioxide to reach levels as high as 746 ppm on July 11, 2017 (green circle on image on the right).

Carbon monoxide levels in the area were as high as 20.96 ppm on July 10, 2017.

The satellite image shows wildfires in Kazakhstan on July 9, 2017.

The satellite images show wildfires in Kazakhstan on July 11, 2017.

On July 16, 2017, CO₂ reached levels as high as 830 ppm in North America at the location marked by the green circle on the image below. Note that fires are burning at multiple locations.

The image below shows the location (red marker) where the fires burned in Canada.

That same day, July 16, 2017, CO₂ reached levels as high as 873 ppm in Mongolia, as shown by the image on the right.

The image also shows further fires burning in Siberia.

Carbon monoxide levels were as high as 37.19 ppm where the fires burned in Mongolia on July 16, 2017, as shown by the image below.

The image below shows the location (red marker) where the fires burned in Mongolia. The image also shows Lake Baikal across the border with Russia.

On July 22, 2017, CO₂ reached levels as high as 1229 ppm in Montana, while CO levels at the time were as high as 56.38 ppm at that location (green circle on image below).

The next day, on July 23, 2017, CO₂ reached levels as high as 884 ppm at another (nearby) location in Montana (green circle on image below).

Meanwhile, temperatures keep rising. Surface temperature as high as 53.1°C or 127.5°F were forecast in Iran for July 11, 2017, at the location marked by the green circle on the image below.

At 1000 mb (image below), temperatures in Iran were forecast to be slightly lower, i.e. as high as 51.9°C or 125.3°F at the location marked by the at green circle, but note the difference in color, especially over Greenland, the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau.

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

Monday, July 10, 2017

Rain Over Arctic Ocean

It's raining over the Arctic Ocean and the rain is devastating the sea ice. What are the conditions that led to this?

As has been known for a long time, energy is added to Earth due to emissions by people and this translates into a warmer troposphere with more water vapor, warmer oceans and stronger winds.

Warming is hitting the Arctic particularly hard, due to numerous feedbacks, as illustrated by the sea surface temperature anomalies image on the right.

On July 6, 2017, cyclonic winds lined up to create a 'perfect storm'. As a result, an Atmospheric River of moisture was driven through Bering Strait into the Arctic Ocean, as shown on the images below.

On July 6, 2017, 1500 UTC, winds in Bering Strait were as high as 58 km/h (36 mph) at surface level (green circle on above image left), and as high as 82 km/h (51 mph) at 850 mb (green circle on above image right).

On July 6, 2017, surface temperatures of the air in Bering Strait were as high as 8.1°C (46.5°F) (green circle on image right).

Another indication of the strength of the wind driven through Bering Strait is wave height. On July 6, 2017, waves were as high as 3.35 m or 11 ft in the Bering Strait, at the location marked by the green circle on the image on the right.

The relatively warm and moist air driven through Bering Strait by strong winds is causing rain to fall over the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean, as shown on the video and images further below.

On July 7, 2017, high air temperatures were recorded over land and over the water.

The image below shows temperatures recorded at two locations over the Mackenzie River, one of 32.6°C or 90.8°F at the mouth of the Mackenzie River and another one of 34.7°C or 94.5°F further inland. Warm water from rivers can substantially warm up the sea surface and thus melt the sea ice.

Temperature of the surface of the water was 10°C or 50.1°F where the water was pushed into the Bering Strait, while temperatures as high as 46.9°C or 116.3°F were recorded over California.

The combined impact of high temperatures, strong winds, high waves and warm river water, rain water and melt water looks set to further devastate what sea ice is left in the Arctic Ocean.

Rain can be particularly devastating. The very force at which rain strikes can fracture the sea ice where it's weak, while pools of rainwater and meltwater will form at places where the sea ice is stronger. Where fractures appear in the sea ice, warm water can reach further parts of the ice and widen the cracks.

The video below shows rain over the Arctic Ocean. The video was created with forecasts from July 3, 2017, 18:00 UTC to July 17, 2017, 00:00 UTC.

Arctic sea ice is in a terrible shape. Sea ice volume is at a record low, as indicated by the Wipneus image below showing volume anomalies from 2002.
The image below, by Torstein Viddal, shows how low the 2017 year-to-date average sea ice volume is.

An additional danger is wildfires. Due to high temperatures, wildfires have broken out near the Mackenzie River, as illustrated by the satellite image below.

Wildfires come with a lot of emissions, including soot that darkens the surface when settling down, thus further speeding up warming.

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

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

High Waves Set To Batter Arctic Ocean

High temperatures hit Pakistan end May 2017. The image below shows readings as high as 51.1°C or 123.9°F on May 27, 2017 (at green circle).

As the image below shows, sea temperature was as high as 32.6°C or 90.6°F on May 28, 2017 (at the green circle), 1.8°C or 3.2°F warmer than 1981-2011.

High temperatures over land and at the sea surface reflect an atmosphere that contains huge amounts of energy. On May 28, 2017, the Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) reached levels as high as 7448 J/kg at the location in the United States marked by the green circle. Storms hit a large part of the United States, with baseball-sized hail reported on May 27, 2017.

Here's a link to a reported 56 °C (132 °F) temperature recorded in Iran and here's a link to an article describing a May 28, 2017, reading in Turbat, Pakistan, initially reported by the Pakistan Meteorological Department as 53.5°C (128.3°F) and later upgraded to 54.0°C (129.2°F.)

How could it be possible for growth of energy in the atmosphere to be accelerating, when CO₂ emissions from fossil fuels and industry (including cement production) have barely shown any recent growth, as discussed in an earlier post and as reported by EIA?

The image on the right depicts this possibility, while a recent post discussed the following scenario:

Warmer water tends to form a layer at the surface that does not mix well with the water underneath, as discussed before. Stratification reduces the capability of oceans to take up heat and CO₂ from the atmosphere. Less take-up by oceans of CO₂ will result in higher CO₂ levels in the atmosphere, further speeding up global warming.

Additionally, 93.4% of global warming currently goes into oceans. The more heat will remain in the atmosphere, the faster the temperature of the atmosphere will rise. This feedback can cause very rapid and strong global warming. as depicted on the image on the right and as also described as feedback #29 on the feedbacks page.

With this in mind, forecasts of storms hitting the Arctic Ocean over the next few months look even more frightening.

Waves as high as 2.34 m or 7.7 ft are forecast to hit the Arctic Ocean on June 8, 2017, at the location marked by the green circle.

How is it possible for waves to get that high in a part of the Arctic Ocean that is surrounded by continents that act as shields against winds?

On June 8, 2017, temperatures are forecast to be as high as 40.6°C or 105.2°F near Phoenix, Arizona, and as high as 26.0°C or 78.7°F in Alaska, as the image below shows.

The image below shows that on June 12, 2017, temperatures as high as 35.1°C or 95.3°F were recorded over a river in Siberia that ends in the Lena River which in turn ends in the Arctic Ocean (left panel, green circle), while waves near Novaya Zemlya were recorded as high as 4.54 m or 14.9 ft (top right panel, green circle).

The image below shows that on June 6, 2017, temperatures on the coast of Hudson Bay (green circle) were as high as 31.6°C or 89°F.

Four cyclones are visible on the above image. Strong winds over the Arctic Ocean can cause high waves that can break up the sea ice and strengthen currents that are pushing warm water into the Arctic Ocean and sea ice out of the Arctic Ocean.

Update: Above image shows that on June 18, 2017, 03:00 UTC, temperatures were as high as 29.5°C or 85°F over a Siberian river ending in the Arctic Ocean (green circle). Cyclones were making warm air flow into the Arctic Ocean. The forecast for June 25, 2017, on the right shows that this situation is likely to persist for another week.

These stronger winds, currents and waves come at a time that the Arctic sea ice thickness is at record low, as illustrated by the image below on the right by Wipneus and underneath by Larry Hamilton.

Let's take a closer look at some further feedbacks that are at work behind the increasingly thinner ice, higher temperature, stronger wind and higher waves in the Arctic.

• Sea Ice Decline - The snow and ice cover over the Arctic Ocean make that sunlight is reflected back into space (albedo loss). In the absence of this cover, the Arctic Ocean will absorb more heat. Furthermore, open oceans are less efficient than sea ice when it comes to emitting in the far-infrared region of the spectrum.

• Buffer Loss - The snow and ice cover over the Arctic Ocean 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.

• Jet Stream Changes - Rising temperatures in the Arctic are causing wind patterns to change, in particular the jet stream.

As a result, warm air can more easily get carried by wind from land over the Arctic Ocean.

The image on the right shows the Jet Stream on June 6, 2017. As temperatures over the Arctic rise faster than they do at the Equator, the jet stream becomes more wavy.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
Instead of circumnavigating Earth in a straight and narrow band that keeps the cold air over the Arctic separate from warmer temperatures south of the jet stream, a more wavy jet stream enables more warm air to flow into the Arctic and more cold air to leave the Arctic.

Winds are particularly strong over oceans and, as the Atlantic Ocean keeps warming up, those winds can push more warm water into the Arctic Ocean, as discussed in an earlier post. This can dramatically warm up the water of the Arctic Ocean.

• Clouds and Water Vapor - Loops of the jet stream extending over the Arctic can also bring stronger winds and more clouds and water vapor into the Arctic.

[ forecast for jet stream, June 8, 2017 ]
This is another self-reinforcing feedback that goes hand in hand with the above feedbacks. As temperatures rise in the Arctic, loss of sea ice will increase, resulting in more open water. This, in combination with stronger winds and warmer water will also result in more clouds and water vapor over the Arctic, further speeding up the temperature rise in the Arctic.

• Decline of Snow and Ice Cover on Land - Rising temperatures in the Arctic are also speeding up the decline of the snow and ice cover on land. This will result in albedo loss and will also trigger further feedbacks, such as soil destabilization and warm water from rivers flowing into the Arctic Ocean.

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 to decompose and the soil becomes increasingly vulnerable to wildfires. All his can result in high emissions of CO₂, CH₄, N₂O, soot, etc., which in turn causes further warming, specifically over the Arctic. The danger of wildfires is illustrated by the image below.

• Warmer Rivers - High temperatures on land can strongly warm up water of rivers flowing into the Arctic Ocean. This is also illustrated by the above image.

• Seafloor Methane - Another huge dangers is that all this additional heat will reach the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean and will trigger destabilization of methane hydrates contained in sediments at the seafloor. Stronger winds can mix warmer water all the way down to the seafloor, and destabilize hydrates that can contain huge amounts of methane, resulting in release of huge quantities of methane into the atmosphere.

Meanwhile, an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.2 on the Richter scale hit the Greenland Sea, in between Greenland and Svalbard, on June 9, 2017 at 20:49:52 UTC at 79.931°N, 0.605°E and at 18.4 km depth. On June 12, 2017, methane levels as high as 2740 ppb were recorded, as the image below shows. While the image doesn't specify where these high levels occurred, the magenta-colored area near Greenland looks ominous, also because such high levels do not typically result from biological releases, but instead point at concentrated plumes such as can occur when clathrates get destabilized.

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


• Climate Plan

• 10°C or 18°F warmer by 2021?

• Abrupt Warming - How Much And How Fast?

• Accelerating growth in CO₂ levels in the atmosphere

• Feedbacks

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

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Arctic Warming - Update May 2017

The image below illustrates how much and how fast oceans are warming on the Northern Hemisphere.
Trend points at 1.5°C warmer NH oceans in 2025. Shaded area covers seasonal fluctuations and natural variability.
As ocean warming continues, prospects for the sea ice in the Arctic are grim.

Warmer water is melting the sea ice from below. The image on the right shows ever less sea ice volume in the Arctic, reflecting huge thinning of the sea ice over the years.

As the sea ice gets thinner, it becomes ever more prone to break up in pieces that will melt quicker (as more surface area becomes exposed to heat from the atmosphere and heat from the water).

[ images from: Arctic Sea Ice May 2017 ]
Moreover, with more open water, stronger waves and winds can develop, increasing the chances that sea ice will melt and get pushed out of the Arctic Ocean.

El Niño looks set to strike again this year and the Arctic looks set to be hit much stronger than the rest of the world, as illustrated by the image on the right. The images below show updated indications for El Niño 2017.

Above on the right is a NOAA animation showing a Kelvin Wave forming in the Equatorial Pacific. The image on the left is the most recent frame from this animation.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
Above image shows ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts) plumes with strong positive anomalies in all three El Niño regions (image on right shows location of regions).

In other words, temperatures in 2017 look set to be very high, which spells bad news for the Arctic where temperature anomalies are already several times higher than in the rest of the world.

As a reminder, take February 2016.
Globally, it was 1.65°C warmer then, compared to 1890-1910, as shown on the inset of the image on the right.

Anomalies in the Arctic were even higher. As the main image on the right shows, it was around 6°C warmer at latitudes north of 70°N.

Note that insufficient data were available to include latitudes north of 85°N in the analysis, as also indicated by the grey areas on the image.

To get  an idea of the situation north of latitude 80°N, have a look at the image on the right, by Nico Sun, showing freezing degree days anomaly over the years, compared to the 1958 - 2002 mean temperature.

Warming looks set to strike the Arctic even harder and high levels of greenhouse gases over the Arctic are contributing to this.

The Scripps image below illustrates this, showing that carbon dioxide levels at Mauna Loa are now well above 410 ppm.
The image on the right shows carbon dioxide levels on May 18, 2017. The color indicates that the highest levels were present over the Arctic.

Temperature anomalies in the Arctic have already been the highest in the world for years, as also illustrated by the NOAA image below on the right, showing temperature anomalies above 2.5°C over the Arctic Ocean over the  365-day period up to May 18, 2017.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
There is a huge danger that temperatures will accelerate very rapidly in the Arctic, as self-reinforcing feedbacks are starting to kick in with greater force.

This applies in particular to feedbacks associated with loss of snow and ice cover in the Arctic and to methane releases from clathrates contained in sediments at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean.

The latter danger is also illustrated by the images below, showing the (lack of) sea ice in the ESAS and the Bering Strait. The image underneath shows the temperature anomaly of water.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
Above NASA satellite image below shows the (lack of) sea ice in the ESAS and in the Bering Strait. The image below shows temperature anomaly of the water. In the ESAS, the water was 2.8°C or 5.1°F warmer on May 19, 2017, compared to 1981-2011.

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