Entries by tag: climate change

warmest oceans ever recorded
Article from Science Daily -- very straight forward and succinct.

"This summer has seen the highest global mean sea surface temperatures ever recorded since their systematic measuring started. Temperatures even exceed those of the record-breaking 1998 El Niño year," says Axel Timmermann, climate scientist and professor, studying variability of the global climate system at the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

From 2000-2013 the global ocean surface temperature rise paused, in spite of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. This period, referred to as the Global Warming Hiatus, raised a lot of public and scientific interest. However, as of April 2014 ocean warming has picked up speed again, according to Timmermann's analysis of ocean temperature datasets.

"The 2014 global ocean warming is mostly due to the North Pacific, which has warmed far beyond any recorded value and has shifted hurricane tracks, weakened trade winds, and produced coral bleaching in the Hawaiian Islands," explains Timmermann.

He describes the events leading up to this upswing as follows: Sea-surface temperatures started to rise unusually quickly in the extratropical North Pacific already in January 2014. A few months later, in April and May, westerly winds pushed a huge amount of very warm water usually stored in the western Pacific along the equator to the eastern Pacific. This warm water has spread along the North American Pacific coast, releasing into the atmosphere enormous amounts of heat--heat that had been locked up in the Western tropical Pacific for nearly a decade.

"Record-breaking greenhouse gas concentrations and anomalously weak North Pacific summer trade winds, which usually cool the ocean surface, have contributed further to the rise in sea surface temperatures. The warm temperatures now extend in a wide swath from just north of Papua New Guinea to the Gulf of Alaska," says Timmermann.

The current record-breaking temperatures indicate that the 14-year-long pause in ocean warming has come to an end.

Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by University of Hawaii ‑ SOEST.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length."

Amazon is tipping
No one has expected this. The Amazon Has Started to Malfunction, Brazilian Scientist Says

From the article:

"Because no current climate model incorporates any mechanisms or effects predicted by the biotic water pump theory, especially the potential effects of changes in wind circulation, its projections may be uncertain", Neves wrote in his report.

The scientist found another factor that had been underestimated in some mathematical models that try to reproduce the interaction between the rainforest and the climate: the degradation of areas of vegetation that have already lost good part of its trees and biodiversity, but that appear in satellite images as intact rainforest.

This means that 40% of the rainforest is disadvantaged at different levels, a similar percentage estimated in research that predicts the exact point at which the rainforest would not be able to support itself on its own, unable to guarantee its own humidity.

"We are reaching a 'tipping point', where the system is increasingly unable to compensate any further", he says.

back of the envelope analysis
Back in 2010 on so, when I was just getting my head around the catastrophe of climate change, I said, I'll wait until 2015 and then reassess. It's not 2015, but it's close enough, hey? What does the future look like now? What's the consensus? What were the projections and how do they line up with where we are?

this is longCollapse )

Okay, I've spent all morning doing this and it's too long but there ya go. What does this mean? Well, we're fucked. This is happening. It's not going to stop happening in my lifetime. It might slow down in my childrens' lifetime, I dunno. My gut feeling is that we won't have time or will to slow it down by our own initiative; collapse of the current system will be what slows it down.

dark snow
Jason Box is a cryoscientist, specifically a professor in glaciology at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland.

Box is running a crowd-sourced study of the diminishing albedo of the Greenland ice cap called Dark Snow.

There's a big article on Slate -- here's an excerpt:

"The ice in Greenland this year isn’t just a little dark—it’s record-setting dark. Box says he’s never seen anything like it. I spoke to Box by phone earlier this month, just days after he returned from his summer field research campaign.

“I was just stunned, really,” Box told me.

The photos he took this summer in Greenland are frightening. But their implications are even more so. Just like black cars are hotter to the touch than white ones on sunny summer days, dark ice melts much more quickly."

black ice
Yeah, this is ice and snow -- underneath all of the soot.

This is what positive feedbacks do, and what many or even most scientists and models don't take into consideration -- let alone the average person who wonders if we might make it out of this century with our civilization intact.

“In 2014 the ice sheet is precisely 5.6 percent darker, producing an additional absorption of energy equivalent with roughly twice the US annual electricity consumption.”

Did you get that? The soot from the wildfires along with the grit from blown sands and dessicated soils has darkened the snow and ice of Greenland so much that it is absorbing more energy than we can possibly refrain from emitting.

Which gives depth to Box's recent tweet, on hearing about the SWERUSC-C3 findings:


reuters investigation
Reuters has published an investigation on US sea level rise: "Reuters gathered more than 25 million hourly readings from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tide gauges at nearly 70 sites on the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts and compared them to flood thresholds documented by the National Weather Service."

What d'ya know? The sea levels are rising!

Since they didn't use anything more fancy that tide gauges, I think that the developers and zoners of North Carolina can use the data, even. (there's a 2012 law that bans the state from basing coastal policies on the latest scientific predictions of how much the sea level will rise.)

El Niño news
We've experienced a mild El Niño this year, as seen by the reduced monsoon but not seen in any relief from the California drought.

Another Kelvin wave is forming up in the Pacific.

How this will play out with the crazy jet stream is anyone's guess. Honestly, the forecasters are all over the place. Here in the Midwest, we're supposed to get a blast from the arctic this month from another crazy loop of the jet stream but if the El Niño hits ... I dunno!

It will be interesting times.

not an example of muzzling
The Harper government has repeatedly said it is “not muzzling” or silencing climate scientists. In 2012, the arctic ice cap blew through previous records of summer melt. Canadian scientists wanted to hold a briefing about this situation but the briefing never happened because it was cancelled by Ministerial services:

"Such briefings do not take place and the documents show the one planned to mark the record ice melt in 2012 was cancelled after weeks of preparation.

The 449 pages of documents are heavily redacted and don’t say why the briefing was cancelled. But they do show the scientists trying to open the lines of communication.

In mid-August of 2012, a month before the ice hit its low, David Jackson, ice service’s director, sent a “heads up” to the Environment Canada’s communications branch alerting them that it “seems to be shaping up for a potential record low this year.”

Environment Canada’s communication branch began working with the ice service to plan the media briefing and prepare “media lines.”

The “media lines” needed approval from not only the department’s communication branch, but also the office of then-environment minister Peter Kent as well as the PCO, an arm of the prime minster’s office, the documents show.

As the scientists waited for approvals, the polar ice continued to melt away and their colleagues at the U.S. NSIDC sprang into action. They held a briefing on Aug. 27 to announce the Arctic ice had shrunk to the smallest size since tracking of the polar cap began 30 years ago.

The Canadian Ice Service scientists had plenty to add, but the documents show they could not even issue a statement without clearance from PCO communications."

Federal government puts polar briefings on ice from canada.com news

Scared Scientists
If you're a person who relates to visuals, here's a great piece from photographer Nick Bowers and the The Climate Council of Australia.

Scared Scientists

Odin takes a look at methane
"Igor Semiletov from the Russian Academy of Science and Natalia Shakhova of the University of Alaska in Fairbanks will be leading 80 scientists on a 100 day research cruise investigating Methane releases from aboard the Oden, Sweden's largest icebreaker.
As well as gathering more data related to the methane fluxes they have previously discovered, this expedition will also be researching Arctic currents and the role of clouds in the Arctic climate." -- Terry at Neven's Arctic Ice Blog

This expedition is HUGE -- in a lot of ways.

Before the expedition launched, Shakhova gave an interview, summed up here by Lynn Shwadchuck:

"The part of the East Siberian Arctic Sea closest to shore has only been under water a geologically short time. On this winter's expedition they were surprised to find the permafrost there at the thawing point rather that at the expected minus 7. It should be more stable than the deeper areas.

Shakhova and Semiletov were doing research on the ESAS in 1998 when they found a single highly concentrated plume of methane. This is what started their dogged search for the answers about the methane that's supposed to be sealed under permafrost.

She seems to be frustrated that other scientists don't understand that methane hydrates in southern oceans release themselves through oxidation slowly and through a deep water column, where in the case of the ESAS the pure methane gas is released straight to the atmosphere thorough physical pathways (openings in the thawing permafrost) and a shallow water column over the shelf.

There is a fault/rift that makes catastrophic release a possibility, which would immediately raise the global average temperature 3 degrees.

They've been very conservative in their estimates of just how many gigatonnes of methane there may be trapped under the permafrost, basing it on the equivalent area on the land-based permafrost. It could go a few kilometers deep or MANY.

The expedition this summer is making a single line across the arctic. She wishes the international scientific community would share in a project to continuously monitor the vast expanse with observation stations."

Where's Oden?

Matt Schupe's Blog on Oden

The World of Geosciences blog.

icebreaker oden

"The SWERUS-C3 Program focuses on investigations of the present and historical functioning of the multi-process C3 system of the East Siberian Arctic Ocean (ESAO). The ESAO is the target area because it is experiencing the fastest rates of climate warming and because of its vast stores of vulnerable carbon. The ESAO is sparingly explored despite hosting 80% of the World’s subsea permafrost with large amounts of C-CH4 currently stored in the shelf and slope sediments and in its coastal Yedoma permafrost. This yields a likely potential for climate-induced mobilization of these carbon pools into the atmosphere as GHG; a positive feedback to climate warming.

The objectives of the SWERUS-C3 research program are to quantitatively address processes central to Arctic Ocean Climate Change Feedbacks ..."

climate news
Just a run down of some of the stuff going on --

Go to Arctic sea ice extent for a bigger image: asina_N_stddev_timeseries-350x280

2012 is the current record holder for lowest September extent, volume and area -- but 2014 is coming close to those records due to low levels of ice accumulation during the winter of 2013-14.

Currently, a high pressure area over the arctic is blasting the ice/slush with 24/7 sunshine. The latest reading from a buoy near the north pole: IABP ICEX Buoy 835100 latest weather data 07/02/1200Z 86.052°N 87.201°W 7.6°C 1021.5mb

That's 45.68 degrees Fahrenheit near the north pole. The scientists studying arctic methane are starting to look wild-eyed.

The Mackenzie Delta has been experiencing high temps in the 25ºC to 27ºC range for the last couple of days (75-82ºF) and the Northwest Territories are experiencing one of their worst recorded fire seasons.

In California, farmers with water are auctioning it off for millions. Richard Howitt, professor emeritus of agricultural and resource economics at UC Davis comments: "If you have a really scarce natural resource that the state’s economy depends on, it would be nice to have it run efficiently and transparently."

A recent paper shows that California farmers are sucking so much water from the San Joaquin Valley aquifer that it's "leading to substantial diminution of this resource and rapid subsidence of the valley floor."

And they note: "Our results suggest that long-term and late-summer flexural uplift of the Coast Ranges reduce the effective normal stress resolved on the San Andreas Fault. This process brings the fault closer to failure, thereby providing a viable mechanism for observed seasonality in microseismicity at Parkfield and potentially affecting long-term seismicity rates for fault systems adjacent to the valley."

In the US Midwest, this week's storms have caused wind and hail damage, and several rivers including the Mississippi are beginning to flood over. Currently, flooding is being reported in Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas and the Dakotas. And Fairbanks, Alaska experienced it's wettest June on record and in Canada, prairie flooding prompts evacuations in western Manitoba
A total of 87 municipalities in Manitoba, Saskatchewan declare state of emergency.

Australia smashed its temperature record in the year to the end of June, beating a high set during the most recent El Nino weather event in the Pacific.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports -- "Buried in the Bureau of Meteorology’s monthly report on national conditions, the agency noted the 12-month mean temperature was a “solid highest-on-record” result.

In fact, mean temperatures were a full 1.08 degrees above the long-term average, smashing the previous record July-June anomaly by 0.18 degrees. The previous record was set in the 12 months to June 2010 – an El Nino period."

And speaking of the El Nino, a new Kelvin wave is being brought up from the equatorial Pacific by a strong West Wind Burst. The monsoon is definitely in trouble.

Yeah, that's enough for now.

crop report
From the USDA report as well as from news reports --

To start on a high note, US olive crops are doing great this year.

But other than that, a lot of the US fruit and vegetable crops are looking bleak as the 500-year drought baking the Golden State is getting worse. US Food prices have gone up, though the FOA reports that world food prices are pretty stable right now (for the most part, as there are hot spots.)

One thing I just can't get used to is the current cost of beef. Since 2009, US beef prices have risen 76% and the US cattle population is now the smallest since the 1951, when the population of the US was less than half of what it is today. I can't help it -- I'm Amurrican. Beef has always been my go-to meat for supper.

Along with the drought in the US west and southwest, the monsoon is not producing much this year. The Hindu Business Line reporting A 42 per cent rainfall deficit this month, with over 90 per cent of India recording deficient/scanty precipitation, has meant very little progress in kharif (monsoon crops) plantings so far.

In the US, rice, oats, spring wheat, barley, peanuts, corn and soybeans are all doing well so far, but winter wheat is crappy with 44% of the crop being poor to very poor. But winter wheat did well enough in the EU and Russia to more than balance out the US shortage.

So overall, we're going to see prices continue to stay high or rise on fruits, veggies, dairy and meats because of the drought, but world food supplies look pre' stable this year -- with the big question mark being how the monsoon does in July-Sept.

May 2014 declared hottest on record by NASA and the Japanese Meteorological Agency
from Nick Sundt, World Wildlife Fund, June 17, 2014

NASA released data today (17 June) indicating that global surface temperatures in May 2014 were 0.76 oC above the 1951-1980 mean. That is well above the previous record of 0.70 oC set in 2010 and again in 2012. This is consistent with the data released yesterday by the Japan Meteorological Agency which also showed that May 2014 was the warmest May on record.

For the March-April-May period, NASA data indicates that temperatures were 0.73 oC above the 1951-1980 mean, making it the second warmest such period on record behind only 2010 when May was 0.80 oC above the mean. The japan Meteorological Agency separately calculated that March-April-May 2014 was the warmest on record, just ahead of 2010. These kinds of small differences are common between the datasets maintained by Japan, the US and others.

Data source: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata_v3/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt

Image below from: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/nmaps.cgi?sat=4&sst=3&type=anoms&mean_gen=05&year1=2014&year2=2014&base1=1951&base2=1980&radius=1200&pol=rob


On the image above, you can really see the El Nino tale coming off the coasts of Ecuador and Peru.

Dr. Peter Wadhams talks about methane hydrates
Here's what Wadhams had to say in an interview on Real News:

"A few years ago, I predicted that the summer sea ice--that's the September minimum--would go to zero by about 2015. And at that stage, it was only really one model that agreed with me. My prediction was based on observations from satellites and from measurements from submarines of ice thickness, which I've been doing from British subs, and Americans have been doing the same from American subs. And the trend was so clear and so definite that it would go to zero by 2015 that I felt it was safe to make that prediction, and I still think it is, because next year, although this year we don't expect things to retreat much further than last, next year will be an El Niño year, which is a warmer year, and I think it will go to zero.

And once it goes to zero in the summer, it is sort of irreversible, because it means that the next summer there'll be a longer ice-free period. Instead of just one month, there might be two or three months, because the water warms up during the summer months. If there is no ice there, it's absorbing solar radiation, the water's warming up.
As we've heard, one of the things that would happen from that is that the water on the continental shelves warms very much. We've seen seven degree temperatures from satellites. And that means that the seabed permafrost near the coast then melts, and that releases methane. And the methane effect, I think, is the biggest of all the threats from the retreat of sea ice. We've got other effects as well. The retreat is causing warmer air over Greenland, which is causing the Greenland ice cap to melt faster and sea level rise to accelerate.

But the biggest immediate threat, I think, is that the warming of the water in summer is causing methane to be released from the seabed because of the melt of offshore permafrost. And this is something that's being documented by a Russian-American group, and for several years. And we're joining them with some European funding, which we're putting in to help fund their work and going out with them.

So I think that the documentation of this and the fact that the extra methane we see each summer--that's the big, increasing amounts of methane plumes in the Arctic reaching the surface, releasing methane into the atmosphere--and that's reflected in NASA's measurements from satellites of methane levels in the atmosphere in the northern hemisphere, which have started to go up again quite fast after having been flat for a decade or so. I think that that is a big threat.

But the loss of the sea ice is something that's, I think, irreversible, because all the trends are towards decreased sea ice extent, and there's no countervailing trend that will bring the ice back. The biggest effect is an albedo feedback effect, for instance, the fact that as the ice disappears, you're replacing highly reflective ice and snow with poorly reflective water. And that has an effect of increasing the rate of warming of the Arctic, and that increases the rate of retreat of the ice. So all the feedbacks are positive. There's no negative feedbacks that will tend to bring the ice back. Once it's gone in summer, it's gone, and I think the summer ice-free season, having started very soon, maybe next year, will then extend itself so that we might have a number of months of ice-free conditions. We'll have plenty of ice in the winter, of course.

But that ice-free summer will have all these knock-on effects of increasing methane release, maybe producing a catastrophic pulse of methane, which has been predicted based on how much methane is sitting in the form of methane hydrates. And that pulse would be very catastrophic. We examined this with climate modeling and economic modeling and found that a pulse of the size that's predicted based on how much methane is there could cause a temperature rise of 0.6 of a degree within 20 years. Now, that's a big addition to the amount of warming that is already going on. It's pretty much doubling the rate of global warming.

And so--plus it's costing some astronomical amount of money as well to the planet. This is using a model, an economic model. So the cost to the planet of having this happening far exceeds any of the benefits we might get from Arctic oil or shipping through the Northwest passage. We're really stuck with a massive economic cost and, of course, a catastrophic cost to the planet.

So all these things are bound to happen, sadly. And the only way in which they wouldn't happen would be if for some surprising reason the methane hydrates on the seabeds stopped emitting methane. But then we wouldn't get off scot-free, because the other source of increased methane is permafrost on land, and that's also melting as the climate warms. And it's a slower process, but in the end there's more methane going to be released from that over many decades than would be released from a pulse in the Arctic Ocean. So in the end we'll have the methane impact on global warming, which hasn't been taking account of IPCC [models]. It's going to come in and it's either going to hit us fast or it's going to get us slowly, but it's going to hit us."

in the face of 2030
My daughter-in-law, the lovely Kayla Moser, and I were talking the other day about tattoos. Kayla's daughter Torrin, who's 2 1/2, was showing me her temporary tattoos, and I asked Kayla how she felt about Torrin getting tattoos. Kayla has several tattoos and piercings, and she was quick to respond that of course Torrin can get tattoos and piercings if that's what she wants.

And my next thought was, maybe, depending on how bad it is by then... hmm, Torrin'll be 18 in 2030; it'll be pre' bad by then.

Which is to say, I see everything through the lens of the coming catastrophe.

Someone talks hopefully of their 401(k)and retirement in twenty years? I don't think so, I think, and I'm sorry.

Someone talks about mankind going to mars? About their new baby going to college some day? About the development of AI robots? About future cities and how the world will look with 9 billion people?

"If a risk-averse (pro-safety) approach is applied – say, of less than 10% probability of exceeding the 2 °C target – to carbon budgeting, there is simply no budget available, because it has already been used up....the idea of "burnable carbon" – that is, how much more coal, gas and oil we can burn and still keep under 2 °C – is a dangerous illusion, based on unrealistic, high-risk assumptions." (David Sprattin Climate Code Red)

This graph is from Robert Howarth's A bridge to nowhere: methane emissions and the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas


Observed global mean temperature from 1900 to 2009 and projected future temperature under four scenarios, relative to the mean temperature from 1890 to 1910. The scenarios include the IPCC [36] reference, reducing carbon dioxide emissions but not other greenhouse gases (“CO2 measures”), controlling methane, and black carbon emissions but not carbon dioxide (“CH4 + BC measures”), and reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and black carbon (“CO2 + CH4 + BC measures”). An increase in the temperature to 1.5–2.0°C above the 1890–1910 baseline (illustrated by the yellow bar) poses risk of passing a tipping point and moving the Earth into an alternate state for the climate system. The lower bound of this danger zone, 1.5° warming, is predicted to occur by 2030 unless stringent controls on methane and black carbon emissions are initiated immediately. Controlling methane and black carbon shows more immediate results than controlling carbon dioxide emissions, although controlling all greenhouse gas emissions is essential to keeping the planet in a safe operating space for humanity. Adapted from (UNEP/WMO. 2011. Integrated assessment of black carbon and tropospheric ozone: summary for decision makers. United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization, Nairobi, Kenya).

The above graph actually gave me nightmares. I live and breathe this stuff and haven't had a climate change nightmare in years but this one gave me nightmares because of the scale of the graph: 1.5° warming, is predicted to occur by 2030 unless stringent controls on methane and black carbon emissions are initiated immediately.

Because since I've been reading this stuff, since about '06 or so, no matter what anyone projects, it's always worse. Always. "Initiated immediately"? Hahaha*sob*.

At 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial averages, world food production will drop 25%-50% of current production, and the risk of world-wide famine if we have several bad years in a row is pretty certain. Myself, I can't really imagine what world wide famine would look like, but it seems that I'm going to find out.

I try to think of what Lovelock said -- enjoy life now. I find joy every day. But I see the future through this lens. Every event, every hopeful projection. And I don't understand why everyone else doesn't, too.

NASA Antarctic Ice News
A recorded press release of the paper that describes the ongoing collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet.

(If the embedded vid doesn't show here, you can go look at it on the NASA site.

Video streaming by Ustream

And here's a link to the Daily Kos article (5 May 2014) The Antarctic Half of the Global Thermohaline Circulation is Collapsing.

I keep thinking about how I will talk to my grandchildren about this stuff. "I did what I could" sounds pre' damn lame.

anthropogenic global warming
This is a pretty good paper if you need to pass one on to anyone who mutters about solar influence or the so-called pause:

Foster, G. & Rahmstorf, S. Global temperature evolution 1979–2010. Environ. Res. Lett. 6, 044022 (2011)

Here's a link to the .pfd: Global temperature evolution 1979-2010.

6. Conclusions

This analysis confirms the strong influence of known factors on short-term variations in global temperature, including ENSO, volcanic aerosols and to a lesser degree solar variation. It also emphasizes that LT (lower-troposphere) temperature is affected by these factors much more strongly than surface temperature. Perhaps most important, it enables us to remove an estimate of their influence, thereby isolating the global warming signal. The resultant adjusted data show clearly, both visually and when subjected to statistical analysis, that the rate of global warming due to other factors (most likely these are exclusively anthropogenic) has been remarkably steady during the 32 years from 1979 through 2010. There is no indication of any slowdown or acceleration of global warming, beyond the variability induced by these known natural factors. Because the effects of volcanic eruptions and of ENSO are very short-term and that of solar variability very small (figure 7), none of these factors can be expected to exert a significant influence on the continuation of global warming over the coming decades. The close agreement between all five adjusted data sets suggests that it is meaningful to average them in order to produce a composite record of planetary warming. Annual averages of the result are shown in figure 8. This is the true global warming signal.

Its unabated increase is powerful evidence that we can expect further temperature increase in the next few decades, emphasizing the urgency of confronting the human influence on climate.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get figure to copy (because it's a .pfd? I dunno) But you can go look at it on the link.

El Niño 2014 update
The 1997-98 Super El Nino consisted of at least three significant Equatorial Kelvin Waves (EKW) that episodically built-up the upper equatorial ocean temperature anomalies from 180W to 100W

I'm going to quote some guys from Neven's Arctic Forum, because they say it succinctly:

BornFromTheVoid writes (Reply #751 on: May 02, 2014, 07:13:20 PM):
The upper ocean monthly heat anomaly data has been updated here http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ocean/index/heat_content_index.txt

We've seen a slight drop in the eastern equatorial Pacific, but small increase toward the west. The upper ocean heat content is now well below this time in 1997, as opposed to well above in March.

AbruptSLR adds (Reply #754 on: May 03, 2014, 11:14:19 AM ):
If the current fledgling El Nino ever reaches a Super status, then we can expect two, or more, additional episodic EKW events before the end of this boreal summer, resulting in the types of Eastern Equatorial Pacific upper ocean temperature anomaly fluctuations that BFTV documents.

And finally, Csnavywx provides this (Reply #756 on: May 03, 2014, 02:47:25 PM):
Surface ocean currents show another EKW pushing east after the latest in a round of WWBs.

Back to me: It seems to me that, from the first graph, the 2013-2014 wave, though it started later, is much more dramatic -- more roller-coster-y.

Today in mid-Michigan, it is cold; we've got a frost warning for tonight. I think that next May will be very, very different. I am very curious to how this all will play out but one thing I know is that this El Niño will be disastrous.

Do you want fries with that?
I went grocery shopping on Thursday and did not get much. Is it just me, or did food prices just hike up?

Ah, rummaging around, I see that it's not my imagination; Food prices jumped 1.1 percent, the largest increase since May, after rising 0.6 percent in February.

I was thinking the other day about the economy of the poor. What will happen if near-term climate change causes food prices to increase so dramatically that people stop eating out? I mean, at what point is someone going to pack a lunch instead of stopping for a Whopper or Big Mac?

Right now, a Whopper Meal costs something like $7. That's about one hour's take home pay for me. I really don't like Whoppers or most other fast food, so I don't eat them but Mike *loves* them, and has a Whopper Meal about five days a week. (1) Oh, and also, it costs him maybe 20 minutes' take home pay.

According to the internets, in 2003 a Whopper Meal cost $3.39, and in 2013 it cost $6.19 -- an increase of 83%.

I can easily imagine a 50% increase in the cost of a Whopper meal by 2018, which would put it at $9.29.

I can imagine Mike paying maybe $10-$11 for his Whopper Meal, but he'd cut down to maybe 3-4 days a week, and if it goes to $15, maybe 1-2 a week.

So the question is, what happens to Burger King -- and McDonald's, Taco Bell, Wendy's.... What happens when the Little Caesar's $5 Fast and Ready is $8? Well, there'll be less business, so workers will have to be let go.

The Aspen Institute (pfd) reports, "According to the National Restaurant Association, consumers today spend 49 percent of their food budget in restaurants, compared with only 25 percent in 1955. The resulting economic impact is tremendous. Sales from restaurants in 2011 were projected to top a record $600 billion, an average of $1.7 billion a day. Behind these sales are a substantial number of jobs, with 1 in 12 private-sector workers in the U.S. employed in the restaurant industry."

Whoa. 1 in 12. That's a lot of workers -- about 12.5 million. For comparison, in 2010, 7.9 million people lost their jobs. If the restaurant industry goes belly up (or even if they take a big hit, say, if we went back to 1955 spending levels) they'd be bringing a lot of other businesses down with them.

I keep thinking about this and wondering and trying to imagine it, wrap my head around it.

Another factoid about the 1950s -- USians spent about 30% of their budget on food. According to the USDA, an average family of four spends between $146 to $239 a week on food. We have a family of three adults, one teen and two preschoolers and spend about $150/wk on groceries and supplies, as well as about $75/wk eating out. So, my family spends about 16% of our income on food -- but that includes supplies such as pet food, toilet paper and trash bags. I'd guess that if I subtracted those, we'd be at around 14%, just a little above the national average of 12%.

If I had to pay $420/wk on groceries -- I dunno. That's about 30% of our pay but almost 50% of our take-home pay. I really can't imagine that.

1) re: Mike's horrible fast food addiction: I know! Horrible! His one concession is that he doesn't have mayonnaise. It drives me crazy. I soothe myself with the thought that we'll be eating a lot of lentils in a few years.

weather extremes - El Niño 2014
There's a pretty good article up at Slate.

Things that we'll probably see:

-- it's gonna be very hot in some places; likely that 2014 will be our hottest year yet and 2015 will be hotter.

-- torrential rains on US west coast, causing floods and mudslides, violent storms and flooding in the gulf states, but fewer hurricanes.

-- lack of monsoon rains and very dry in Australia

-- very poor fishing along the Chilean coast.

-- during the last large El Niño ('97-'98) it's believed that all of the seal and sea lion pups that had been whelped off the California coast perished, along with 25% of the adult population.

--- Sea coral will also take a big hit.

-- water-related disease will ravage the poor in the flooded areas -- in '97-'98, cholera and malaria were big in East Africa, Latin America and Asia.

-- the combination of floods, drought and severe heat is expected to dramatically impact world cereal crops, as well as livestock. Personally, I think that this one is going to rock the world, destabilizing already shaky countries/regimes.

Buckle up, the ride is about to get pre' bumpy.

El Niño looking likely
From Dr. Michael Ventrice, guest posting on Dr. Jeff Masters blog:

"The current Kelvin wave in the Pacific Ocean has achieved the same strength as the one that preceded the 1997 Super El Niño event. This is an extremely rare feat but there still has to be a number of things to happen before we can say we are headed towards a strong El Niño. We need to see the continuation of strong westerly winds near the Equator over the Central Pacific to keep the momentum forward." (Author's emphasis.)

The whole entry is very interesting, if you're into earth sciences. Read it here.

If this does come to pass, I really worry about you Californians.

This National Geographic article is a great complement to Dr. Ventrice's post.

It will be extremely interesting to see what happens when you add in the crazy jet stream. As an aside, my greens are growing cheerily on my window garden shelves, and this morning I started onions, broccoli, cabbage and more spinach. Yum!

worse than expected
A new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that the loss of polar albedo is having a greater effect on warming than scientists modeled.

For the first time, the new study used direct satellite measurement of polar darkness. What they found is that the Arctic has become 8% darker between 1979 and 2011.

This is two to three times worse than previous studies modeled.

“That extra absorbed energy is so big that it measures about one-quarter of the entire heat-trapping effect of carbon dioxide,” the study’s lead author, Ian Eisenman, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, told the Associated Press.

This blasts all the models and changes all of the dates for how much time we have.

Kristina Pistone, Ian Eisenman1, and V. Ramanathan. (2014) Observational determination of albedo decrease caused by vanishing Arctic sea ice. PNAS, published ahead of print February 18, 2014. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1318201111

Please talk about this -- nothing will change unless we demand it.

the Pacific is weirdly warm
Just a heads-up and some thoughts. We look to be headed for an El Niño this year, maybe in late summer or early autumn. At the same time, the whole Pacific is very warm. A lot of the climate guys are saying that 2014 may be the warmest year on record, with record loss of arctic ice.

With the record drought in California, I expect that cost of fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts to skyrocket. Or they might not be available at all.

Usually, an El Niño drops a ton of rain on California. But with the craziness of the jet stream, and the blocking high off the coast that is causing the current drought, the climate guys just aren't sure what might happen.

And even if it does rain, one might want to consider what happens when ten inches of rain falls on bone-dry ground. If it doesn't rain, look for an epic fire season.

NOAA's forecast:

"As a whole, the outlook for the first three months of the year has enhanced chances for deficient precipitation from New Mexico and western Colorado westward through the southern half of Nevada and the central and southern sections of California."

Also? Who writes this stuff "enhanced chances for deficient precipitation"? WTF. A greater chance of rain/snow that won't be enough? Um.

In any case, if you're a person who normally depends of supermarket fruits and veggies, I suggest you consider putting a garden in this year. Or look into a local CSA if you have the means.

I'm putting in spinach and several other greens into the starting pots tonight.

drought 2014
Today in mid-Michigan was sunny and mild. A nice reprieve from last week's arctic blast. I've been working for the last couple of days, and feeling kinda worn out. I was buzzing up and down the dock today, unloading a trailer and singing to the piped music -- Papa was a rollin' stone; wherever he laid his hat was his home. And when he died, all he left us was alone. It made me feel grim.

I got off around 3pm, and like I said, it was mild, all the snow dripping in the sun. When the snow first hit, it made me so happy because we really need the moisture. When I got home, I checked out my kids via FB and then surfed over to the drought monitor. It doesn't look good. Especially California.

I was shocked to read: The first Sierra Nevada snow survey of the winter last week found the water content in the statewide snowpack to be just 20 percent of average for this time of year. Without relief, state water managers said they will be able to deliver just 5 percent of the water sought by agencies that supply more than 25 million Californians and nearly a million acres of irrigated farmland.

jan 6 2014

Holy shit. I don't usually watch the news, but I listen to NPR almost every morning. I did hear a little something about Bishops praying for rain and I guess I didn't take it seriously.

I think that the garden is going to be really important this spring and summer.

polar vortex takes a walkabout
jan6sswImage from Jan 6, 2014 -- Fairfax Climate Watch, Expect More Frequent Extreme Cold (and Hot) Weather by Matt Owens

If you want to understand why it's so damned, bitter cold right now, or depending where you are, so damn warm, there is an excellent article at Daily Kos right now: Polar Vortex, Jet Streams, Stratospheric Warming events, Rossby Waves, and Arctic Blasts.

Author Jamess does a very good job at explaining the pretty complicated physics of sudden stratospheric warming and how atmospheric high pressure systems block the jet stream. One of my favorite things Jamess quotes is from an article from Climate Central: Arctic Outbreak: When the North Pole Came to Ohio
by Andrew Freedman, -- Jan 2, 2014

"The atmospheric blocking is forcing a section of the polar vortex to break off and move south, into the U.S. The polar vortex is an area of cold low pressure that typically circulates around the Arctic during the winter, spreading tentacles of cold southward into Europe, Asia, and North America at times. Except this time, it’s not a small section of the vortex, but what one forecaster, Ryan Maue of WeatherBELL Analytics, called “more like the whole enchilada” in a Twitter conversation on Thursday."

If you do a cursory google on sudden stratospheric warming, you'll read right up front that it's a common phenomenon that happens every two or three years. Except that we had one at pretty much exactly this time last year. And the year before that. And, golly, there were intense SSWs in in January of 2008, 2009 and 2010, and a mild SSW in 2011.

One commenter said, "Its as if the world's climate is convulsing."

I really would love it if everyone in the world would read this article because, damn, it's cold out there! I guess that climate change stuff really is a bunch of nonsense!

If you really can't stand to read it, here's the last paragraph -- emphasis is the authors' --

"If only those record-melting Arctic ice packs would stay in place and not keep warming up their supposed-to-be Arctic neighborhoods by exposing all that open sea water -- then maybe that Arctic Vortex might not have to 'go wobbling around like a wildly spinning top -- losing its fast-track momentum' ... at such an ever increasing rate.

But then again, Who needs stable Jet Streams anyways?

Certainly not farmers, not foresters, not ranchers; Certainly not suburban folks who hate all these crazy arctic deep freezes ... the ones who ask, "Why in the world, is it so damn cold, anyways?"

Now hopefully, you can tell them."

Charles Monnett!
In 2004, an Arctic scientist employed by the federal department of Minerals Management Service, Charles Monnett, was flying in a small plane over the Arctic Ocean counting bowhead whales. It was September, and he and his crew were surprised by the lack of ice in the Beaufort Sea. They noticed a lot of polar bears swimming in the calm, clear waters. The next day, there was a big storm. After the storm, they resumed their counting of bowheads and noticed that a lot of dead polar bears in the water.

Monnett took pictures of the dead polar bears and in 2006, published a paper linking the dead bears to the lack of sea ice and climate change. The paper and the pictures were picked up by world media and the polar bear became the poster child of climate change.

At the time that this happened, the Minerals Management Service (MMS) was defending Royal Dutch Shell's plans to drill for oil in the arctic.

In 2010, an anonymous employee of the Department of the Interior made a charge against Monnett of scientific misconduct. The government has a policy of not identifying the people who make allegations of misconduct, but in August of 2010, acting inspector general of the EPA, Mary Kendall, wrote to Senator James Inhofe, laying out allegations of scientific misconduct by Charles Monnett and co-author and MSS employee Jeff Gleason, saying that they falsified the data to advance their global warming agenda.

The MMS was remade into the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. The allegations and the sensitive nature of the paper put Charles Monnett right between the growing environmental movement and the powerful energy industry. In July of 2011, Monnett was suspended and put on administrative leave. Gleason had already left the agency for another job.

"In 2012 Monnett was reprimanded for the improper release of government documents. The documents in question (from 2007 to early 2008) were, according to BOEMRE, cited by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in making decisions to vacate BOEMRE's approval of the Shell oil exploration plans in the Beaufort sea. Monnett appears to be reprimanded because these documents were apparently exempt under the Freedom of Information Act." (from wikipedia)

But now. Now! Monnett filed a whistle-blower suit and has been awarded $100,000.

"Under the settlement, wildlife researcher Charles Monnett retired from his job at the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on November 15, 2013, and the agency agreed to remove a letter of reprimand that officials had placed in his file." (from NPR, here.)

A PEER news release quotes Monnet: "This agency attempted to silence me, discredit me and our work and send a chilling message to other scientists at a key time when permits for oil and gas exploration in the Arctic were being considered. They failed on the first two goals, but I believe that what they did to me did make others afraid to speak up, even internally. Following over two years of hell for me and my family, my name has been cleared and the accusations against the scientific findings in our paper have been shown to be groundless” Monnett said. “However, I can no longer in good conscience work for an agency that promotes dishonesty, punishes those who actually stand up for scientific integrity, and that cannot tolerate scientific work not pre-shaped to serve its agenda.”

In the NPR article, Monnett comments, “Well, it’s over, in the sense that my relationship with the department and the federal government is over,” says Monnett. “I am still a scientist. I still have some standing in the scientific community. I may continue to play a role in some fashion, particularly in the Arctic. That’s yet to be seen.”

I look forward to seeing more of this gutsy, resilient man.

ice thickness graph
sea ice

PIOMAS graph

Three distinct levels and two more to go: iceless summers and year round iceless. There are about 25 years from the first level and the second, and about 10 years from the second to the third. Most cryroscientists are projecting an iceless summer within the next 5 years, and a year-round iceless arctic ocean within the 10-15 years.

Iceless is defined as 90% ice-free.

The effects of an iceless arctic will be profound. First and foremost, an iceless arctic will substantially increase our rate of climate change from loss of albedo and from methane, both from clathrates and rotting permafrost.

This speed of change will play havoc with our weather systems. Food production will be hit and miss. Superstorms, heatwaves, floods and droughts -- will be the norm.

The melting of Greenland will increase, causing sea levels to jump. The thermohaline will slow or even stop, further disrupting weather patterns. No one is sure what will happen with the jet stream, but it will be altered.

All of this will cause political unrest.

I don't just think that this might happen, I'm sure that it will, and that it will happen in my lifetime. Well, unless I get hit by a bus tomorrow. This is real and it will happen.

Alaskan Youth, Our Children's Trust, go to the state Supreme Court

Our Children's Trust is trying to raise $5000 for assistance in their state supreme court case seeking protection against climate change. This lawsuit could result in the first state supreme court decision ordering the government to actually reverse climate change.

Edited to add: 'The IPCC's carbon budget relies on Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) computer modelling results. In another part of the report, results are given for the ~2 °C warming scenario (known as RCP2.6) of a 43% reduction in September Arctic sea-ice extent by end of 21st century (compared to a 1985–2005 reference period). This is so at odds with the reality on the ground as to be not credible. In just 30 years and with warming of less than 1 °C, the sea-ice extent has dropped by half, and the sea-ice volume by more than three-quarters. Switched-on Arctic researchers suggest that the Arctic will be sea-ice free in summer within the next decade or so, as discussed here and here and here." David Spratt, quoted from Tenny's Climate Change

the reality is the green line -- obviously the models aren't very good a modeling what's going on in the arctic

IPCC sea ice

ocean as a heat sink
We're going through a period now where the ocean is sucking up heat and the atmosphere is experiencing a temperature plateau. The big news, of course, is that The Climate Has Stopped Warming.

There was a pretty good interview with Keven Trenberth yesterday on NPR. Trenberth is one of my heroes.

The main thing he has to say is that we must not be lulled by the momentary pause in land surface heating. What is happening is that the current way of the ocean soaking up heat will flip, like when ice suddenly melts or water turns into steam.

Referring to the oceans, Trenberth is quoted: "They probably can't go on much for much longer than maybe 20 years, and what happens at the end of these hiatus periods, is suddenly there's a big jump [in temperature] up to a whole new level and you never go back to that previous level again," he says.

What scares me is that we'll get complacent and then *wham* --- things will suddenly become much worse. I'm pre' damn sure that this is exactly what will happen. It'll be like turning the corner and walking into a brick wall.

On the other hand, this gives me a little more time to get things in place.

third arctic cyclone of the season

From Paul Klemencic, commenting on Neven Acropolis' Arctic Sea Ice Blog:

"This is an interesting storm, much different than last year's GAC 2012 (Great Arctic Cyclone), but in some regards, similar. The pressure is 976 versus last year's low pressure around 965, but... there is a HP of 1028 not far away over the Beaufort. From what the meteorologists say, this pressure difference should drive some very severe winds. This storm is much tighter, with the wind fields not extending as far as last year's storm which essentially covered the entire width of the Arctic Basin from the New Siberian islands to the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Last year's storm pulled in significant air masses from both Siberia and Canada.

The timing is only a few days later than last year, and the storm formed in the vicinity of the New Siberian islands. (BTW - there was a large storm around August 9th in 2007 that formed and was centered in about the same location. There were two large storms in 2007, with the first hitting around the third week of June and centered in the Beaufort.)

This storm also is forecast to migrate to the sweet spot, centered along the 180 longitude, with the wind field extending to the NP, just as the GAC 2012 did. And the storm is forecast to be fairly intense until Saturday, for about five days of heavy storm, similar to the six days or so the GAC 2012 pounded the Arctic.

Right now the center of this storm is right over the E. Siberian fractured ice pack, and this ice pack is surely being decimated, with some severe overturning of the surface seawater layers. We should see a loss of at least 100k SIE (Sea Ice Extent) in this region (perhaps including some loss in the nearby Chukchi and Laptev regions) within 48 hours, and I expect the storm will reduce SIE by about 300k in these regions by Saturday. The Beaufort will also likely lose 100k-200k this week. Even with spreading and ice divergence around the NP, as the storm moves that direction, the seven days starting today, should see a total SIE decline of about 600k-700k sq km (short of the million sq km SIE decline caused by GAC 2012).

Storms earlier in the insolation top melt season cause divergence, but also reduce heat absorption, and reduce surface melt. Storms in August hit the weakened pack, overturn water, and draw huge amounts of thermal energy in the form of water vapor from lower latitudes into the Arctic. That's why this storm will do much more damage than the earlier storms this year.

This is my opinion, after watching and examining the storm events since 2010, and reviewing the storm/ice pack history in 2007. I covered some of this in comments on this blog in August 2011 and August 2012.

(... further down in the thread)

Actually these severe storms in the Arctic Basin are new. The one paper that says otherwise, used such a low threshold for defining a cyclone, that almost all significant LP cells where caught in the statistical analysis. According to that paper there are two "cyclones" every summer day in the Arctic. Essentially, what the paper showed, was that the Arctic Basin historically sees a lot of LP systems... no big surprise that!

Other researchers looked at severe storms, and the data there shows that most severe Arctic cyclones hit in the winter, and at the edges of the ice pack in the Greenland Sea and the Bering Sea. Severe cyclones over the summer ice pack are rare. There was one before 2007, two in 2007, apparently one in 2008, one in August 2011, and the GAC 2012, before this year's three severe cyclones over the pack (so far). GAC 2012 was the 13th strongest storm in the polar latitudes, and none of the stronger storms hit in the summer.

The persistence of these cyclones over the ice pack is also new... There could be a lot of reasons why the meteorology seems to be changing to cause these events -- warmer continents, jet stream changes, ice/sea/atmosphere heat transfer changes, overturning sea layers under the storm, etc.. What we don't know, speaks volumes... and shouts warnings."

"active deglaciation"

Dr. Alun Hubbard: The bed of the ice sheet, the interior of the ice sheet, is frozen to its base -- and it's starting to slip. We have a station, a GPS station, a weather station, based well into the interior of the ice sheet, over a hundred miles from here, in the interior of the ice sheet, up to the east. And that GPS, which is very precise, is showing a marked speed up event. And it's been showing that speed up event since 2010. This is an area that did nothing before. It was a stable piece of the ice sheet, had a frozen base -- and now in the last three or four years, it's started to speed up. Only fractionally; we're talking 2%-3% each summer. But the fact is, that it's starting to speed up. And because the ice there is over 1500 meters thick, that speed up means a lot more mass is being tracked further into the lower elevations of the ice sheet. And so, lower the ice sheet in that area, and it means, actually, the Greenland ice sheet is deglaciating. It's retreating. But it's retreating dynamically. It's drawing down the interior of the ice sheet faster than the models assumed. At present.

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