Saturday, 25 November 2017

Rapid collapse of Antarctic glaciers could flood coastal cities by the end of this century.

From Ice Apocalypse to Mega-Thunderstorms, Continuing to Burn Fossil Fuels Makes the World Scary as all Hell

24 November, 2017

So I’ve got to say I feel for Eric Holthaus.

Here’s a smart guy. Probably a few years younger than me. A meteorologist by degree and a climate journalist by trade. A guy with two kids that, as is clear from his twitter comments, mean all the world to him. And he’s finally gotten to that point in his study of climate change where he’s thrown his hands up and said — this stuff scares the crap out of me, can we please all just do something about it?

(The calving front of the Pine Island Glacier as seen by a NASA DC-8 aircraft. Image source:Commons.)

For him, as with any of us, the point of existential realization can come through overexposure to a wide range of worsening climate problems. Declining ocean health, rising extreme weather, how much faster we are warming the world up than during the worst hothouse extinction, can all weigh heavily on the heart and mind of any compassionate, feeling person who takes these subjects seriously enough to actually read the science. For Eric, the big deal, and it is a very, very big deal, was sea level rise.
Ice Apocalypse

Yesterday, Eric penned this seminal article on the issue of ice cliff stability as explored by glacier scientist Robert DeConto entitled Ice Apocalypse.

Ice cliff stability is a pretty technical term. One that may make the eyes of your typical reader gloss over. But when we consider that the glaciers of Greenland and Antarctica can be upwards of two miles high, then the question of whether or not the cliffs of those great ice mountains are stable may start to generate a flicker of warning. May conjure up a phantom of the titanic roar set off when such ice giants tumble away into the sea as has happened throughout the deep history of Earth whenever the world warmed up by a certain amount.
When I think of the words ice cliff stability, my mind’s eye pictures a vast wall of numbing white-blue stretching hundreds of feet high. It expands both left and right as far as I can see. And it looms over an endless warming ocean. Waiting for a colossal fall if just that right amount of extra heat is applied.
Ice is fragile. It’s not like stone. It doesn’t flex much. It doesn’t give much. And even minor stresses are enough to make it shatter. We see this with ice cubes in a cup of water at home. Put an ice cube into relatively warmer water, and that little 1×2 inch block will snap and crack. Now just compound that fragility. Set it on the massive scale of a mile-high glacier. Not too hard to image what can happen.

(2012 filming of massive calving event at Jakobshavn Glacier.)
It’s happened already at Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland. The ocean warmed. The ice shelf protecting the glacier dissolved. And the front of the gigantic glacier fell like great, enormous, white dominoes. We’ve seen it happening in films like Chasing Ice. And we’ve struggled to grasp the enormous scale of it.
Our burning of fossil fuels did this.
Jakobshavn is, even now, contributing to a more rapid rate of global sea level rise. But the amount of ice held back by Jakobshavn is small when compared to the vast volumes kept in check by the Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers of West Antarctica. What Robert DeConto did, and what has apparently scared Eric Holthaus so much, was apply a computer model based on observations of Jakobshavn ice sheet collapse to these larger Antarctic ice masses.
The DeConto study unearthed results that, indeed, looked apocalyptic. From Grist:
A wholesale collapse of Pine Island and Thwaites would set off a catastrophe. Giant icebergs would stream away from Antarctica like a parade of frozen soldiers. All over the world, high tides would creep higher, slowly burying every shoreline on the planet, flooding coastal cities and creating hundreds of millions of climate refugees.
All this could play out in a mere 20 to 50 years — much too quickly for humanity to adapt…
Instead of a three-foot increase in ocean levels by the end of the century, six feet was more likely, according to DeConto and Pollard’s findings. But if carbon emissions continue to track on something resembling a worst-case scenario, the full 11 feet of ice locked in West Antarctica might be freed up, their study showed.
The DeConto study is just one scientific exploration of what could happen in West Antarctica this Century. And, already, reassurances to a worried Eric Holthaus are forthcoming.

1. Over at Grist, has mega-piece on Antarctica’s Thwaites and Pine Island glaciers. My take: He’s right these are very worrying glaciers (esp. Thwaites), but I’m not sure about some of the dire sea level rise scenarios in the article.

But the problem with the DeConto study, as with any other form of serious climate risk, is that there are plausible scenarios in which terrible catastrophic events are possible even if their degree of likelihood is still somewhat debatable. And reasonable precaution would dictate that even if there were just a 10-20 percent chance of DeConto like events coming to pass, we would do everything we could to avoid them. The risk of this scenario emerging, however, is probably a bit higher. As numerous studies have identified the potential for 6, 8, or even 12 feet of sea level rise by as early as 2100.

The Future of Mega-Thunderstorms Looks Grim if We Continue to Burn Fossil Fuels

Eric’s appeals to his Twitter friends related to his article were touching to me in that I feel like I go through similar shocks with each passing week. And what should be a time of national thanksgiving even as more than half of Puerto Rico’s population is still in the dark 63 days after the climate change amplified blow of Hurricane Maria is no exception.
For a model study recently produced by Nature Climate Change and explored by Bob Henson at Weather Underground has found that the rate of rainfall in large thunderstorm clusters could increase by 80 percent this Century if fossil fuel burning proceeds along a business as usual pathway.

To put this in context, an 80 percent increase in the amount of rain that fell in the Ellicott City Flood in Maryland last year would have produced nearly ten inches of rain in an hour and a half.
(The rainfall intensity in large thunderstorm clusters was found to be greatly enhanced under worst case fossil fuel burning scenarios [RCP 8.5] according to a recent Nature Study. Image source: NCAR, Nature, and Weather Underground.)

As with ice cliff instability, we find ourselves faced with another scientific term in the new study — mesoscale convective systems (MCS). And to translate this term we can simply say that MCSs are gigantic clusters of thunderstorms. The study found that rainfall amounts in the largest of thunderstorm complexes were greatly enhanced as warming proceeded along a business as usual track.
From the Study author’s statement to Weather Underground:
These new simulations of future MCS rainfall are concerning, because they show very large increases in the amount of rain that a given MCS is likely to produce. The MCSs that we would today consider to be ‘extreme’ in terms of precipitation would become more commonplace in the future. There are also some regions that currently don’t see a lot of MCS activity that might start seeing some of these heavily raining MCSs in the future.”
These increases are on top of already elevated rates of rainfall intensity we presently see today in destructive events that our infrastructure and disaster planning is clearly not prepared for (as seen during Harvey). So as we take the time to give thanks for the great bounty that many of us still have, perhaps we should also take the time to think of the things we can do to keep safe what we have worked so hard for and care so much about and to do our best to help those who are less fortunate. Who have already fallen casualty to a time of troubles.

Temperature records drop DESPITE cooler, la-Nina conditions

There is no doubt that a la-Nina is upon us in the Pacific.

The effects vary but in this part of the world (Australia and New Zealand) la-Nina normally brings cooler and wetter conditions.

This is what the following article portrays.

However, looking at conditions at the end of spring you’d hardly know it.

Cromwell in southern NZ saw its hottest temperature ever at 33.3 deg. C while the painter working next door here in Lower Hutt had to go home with heat exhaustion at the end of spring. He said that in 40 years of working as a painter he had NEVER seen such condition at the end of November.

He described the conditions as ‘dangerous’. 

This was reiterated to me by a taxi driver.

Meanwhile Victoria, Australia is seeing unprecedented heat for this time of the year and anecdotal reports are telling me that conditions are far warmer than usual for late-fall in North America.

Today’s article from Sam Carana clearly shows that global warming is accelerating.

As a heatwave hits Hobart and Adelaide The Bureau of Meteorology predict a 'rare' form of the La Nina will bring a wet and cool summer in Australia


24 November, 2017

A heatwave may be enveloping southern Australia wrapping Melbourne, Hobart and Adelaide in unseasonable warmth, but don't get too used to it - we could be in for a wet and cool summer.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has upped its prediction of a 'rare' form of the La Nina climate driver and has said the event is now almost certain to develop, with the effects of the weather event possible as soon as next month.

In a climate note, the weather agency officially moved Australia to La Nina "alert" as it confirmed sea temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean continued to cool, a key indicator it could be on its way.

La Nina and its more well-known brother El Nino are the two ends of what's known as the El Nino Southern Oscillation or ENSO.

This climatic cycle can have an impact on temperatures and rainfall in eastern and Northern Australia, as well as more extreme weather such as cyclones and droughts.

"Oceanic indicators of ENSO show a clear progression towards La Nina.

Tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures have cooled since late winter, and waters beneath the surface remain cooler than average in the eastern Pacific.

However, they are currently just shy of La Nina thresholds," the Bureau said on Tuesday.

"As a result, the ENSO Outlook has been raised to La Nina 'alert' meaning there is approximately a 70 percent chance - or triple the normal likelihood - of La Nina occurring."

To back up its climate call, the Bureau released a graph that showed all eight of its meteorological models pointed to equatorial sea surface temperatures dropping to -0.8C below the average 1961 to 1991 levels - the Australian threshold for a La Nina.

Seven of the eight models show a likely La Nina event, this is when sea temperatures remain across the threshold for at least three months.

Australia could move into La Nina in December and stay there all summer until February.

During a La Nina, while equatorial seas get cooler, the waters north of Australia warm up.

That helps to produce rising air, clouds and rainfall over, particularly, Northern Australia but also in eastern and central parts.

The chances of tropical cyclones and flooding can increase.

Daytime temperatures can also drop during a La Nina.

Conversely, longer duration, but less intense, heatwaves can be a feature.
However, weather boffins are being circumspect about just how much of an effect an upcoming La Nina will have.

If a La Nina is on the horizon, it usually makes its presence felt in Autumn or Winter.

The BoM said the "rare" nature of a La Nina occurring in Summer meant its impact was hard to judge.

"Climate models suggest that any [La Nina] event is likely to be weak and short-livd.

This means it is expected to be very different to the strong 2010-12 La Nina," the Bureau said.

Sea temperatures around the country's north were not expected to warm significantly, it continued.

At this point, the long-range weather outlook for Summer still suggests no strong push to either wetter or drier conditions.

Indeed, the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (BNHCRC) has cautioned the increased likelihood of a La Nina does not mean fire hazards are lessened.

In it's Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for Summer, released on Wednesday, the organisation said competing climate drivers from the Indian Ocean could pacify the extremes of La Nina.

Dr Richard Thornton, CEO of the BNHCRC, said preparations still needed to be made for the fire season.

"It is really important that people do not become complacent - despite being on La Nina alert, southern Australia will have a fire season, and we are in it right now," he said.

This how Britain's Met Office explains the el-Nino/la-Nina phenomenon

Temperature anomaly 11-24-2017+4.27 C across the Arctic

Australia Heatwave Threatens Blackouts may Shatter 130yrs Record

Heatwave health alert issued for southern Tasmania as 130yo record set to fall. 

Power plant failures push Victoria’s energy grid close to the edge in November heat 

Cromwell hits hottest spring temperature on record: RNZ Checkpoint

NZ: Have your sunscreen handy because summer's set to swelter, with higher than normal temperatures expected

Elsewhere, in the United States

Salt Lake City ties a 117 year heat record for Thanksgiving with temperatures reaching a balmy 68 degrees F (20 deg F)

Salt Lake City has tied the heat record for Thanksgiving as the unusually warm holiday week continues.

The National Weather Service said Thursday that the high of 65 degrees matches the record set on Thanksgiving 1910.

That marks two consecutive record-setting days.

On Wednesday, the high of 68 degrees broke a record for that date set in 1926.

The National Weather Service said it is expected to stay relatively warm through the weekend with temperatures expected to be 15-20 degrees above normal throughout the state.

Utah also experienced record-setting heat this summer.

Thanksgiving warm records tumble as San Diego see's temperature soaring 93 deg F, (34 deg C)

Global warming is accelerating

Warming is accelerating

24 November, 2017

Warming is accelerating. For some time, it has been warmer than the 1.5°C guardrail that the Paris Agreement promised should not be crossed. This conclusion follows from above analysis of NASA land+ocean data 1880-October 2017, adjusted by 0.59°C to cater for the rise from preindustrial and with a trend added that also indicates that the global temperature look set to cross the 2°C guardrail soon, with 2021 falling within the margins of the trend line.

The trend line shows a strong and ominous direction upward. Nonetheless, the situation could be even more dire than this trend indicates, since some warming elements are not fully incorporated in these data.

As an example, the NASA data look at the temperature at the surface of the oceans, which has increased strongly, as also illustrated by the image on the right.

Much warming has also occurred below the sea surface, while there has been some cooling of the sea surface. Moreover, ocean heat has also increased strongly over the years, as the image below illustrates, and looks set to increase further.
After all, what happens to oceans is important, as 93.4% of global warming currently goes into oceans.

The fact that much warming is taking place below the sea surface could make that it gets overlooked. If much of this warming were to get transferred from the Arctic Ocean to the atmosphere over the next few years, then the temperature rise over the next few years could take an even sharper turn upward.

The threat that warming below the sea surface is overlooked is highlighted by the image below, which shows huge warming of Arctic waters at selected locations near Svalbard.

Above image focuses on temperatures at selected locations near Svalbard (see map below). In 1981-2011, temperatures were gradually falling by more than one degree Celsius over the period of measurement, i.e. from October 1 to November 23 (blue line), a fall that is in line with the change in seasons. Over this period in 2017, temperatures were 13.19°C or 23.77°F higher than in 1981-2011, while the temperature didn't seem to be falling (red line).

How could these waters get a stunning 13.19°C warmer than two decades ago?

Global warming did hit the North Atlantic hard, particularly along the track of the Gulf Stream all the way to the Arctic Ocean. This has translated into stronger winds along the track of the Gulf Stream, which are making that ever larger amounts of warm water are getting pushed from the North Atlantic to the Arctic Ocean. A temperature rise underneath the sea surface can be overlooked when merely monitoring the average surface temperature of the Arctic Ocean, especially when stronger winds have caused more evaporation, cooling down the water at the surface.

Stronger winds, higher temperatures and the presence of more open water in the Arctic have all contributed to stronger rainfall in the Arctic. It looks like the rain did cause a freshwater lid to form at the surface of the Arctic Ocean, acting as an insulator and preventing transfer of ocean heat to the atmosphere. This also contributed to a colder atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean, i.e. colder than it would otherwise have been. At the same time, since less heat could escape from the Arctic Ocean to the atmosphere, this freshwater lid has resulted in warmer water, as is evident from the huge anomalies at the locations near Svalbard.

This freshwater lid has also made it easier for sea ice to form at the surface, as ice will form in freshwater as warm as just below 0°C, whereas ice in saltwater will melt at temperatures well below 0°C. In summary, there would have been less sea ice, had it not been for this freshwater lid. Much of the freshwater lid did turn into sea ice in September 2017, as air temperatures came down below 0°Cs, and this sea ice similarly acted as an insulator, preventing transfer of heat from the Arctic Ocean to the atmosphere. Importantly, while much of the additional freshwater at the surface did turn into sea ice in 2017, this is only a temporary phenomenon, as no ice will form once the surface of the water will stay above 0°C, which will happen soon as temperatures keep rising.

So, further sea ice loss means that less sunlight will get reflected back into space and will instead get absorbed by the Arctic, further accelerating warming in the arctic. Additionally, more heat is radiated from sea ice into space than from open water. Stronger cyclones could also bring more soot into the Arctic Ocean, speeding up the demise of sea ice by darkening it when settling on ice.

In conclusion, while the formation of the freshwater lid at the surface of the Arctic Ocean has been holding back the collapse of the sea ice, the delay can only be a temporary one as temperatures keep rising. The Arctic Ocean is warming at accelerating speed and the demise of the sea ice seems imminent. Less sea ice will on the one hand make that more heat can escape from the Arctic Ocean to the atmosphere, but on the other hand the albedo loss and the additional water vapor will also cause the Arctic Ocean to absorb more heat, with the likely net effect being greater warming of the Arctic Ocean.

Another point to consider is latent heat, as discussed in earlier posts. The danger is illustrated by the image below, showing that heat threatens to destabilize methane hydrates at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. As the temperature of the Arctic Ocean keeps rising, more heat threatens to reach sediments that have until now remained frozen. Melting of the ice in these sediments then threatens to unleash huge eruptions of seafloor methane that has until now been kept locked up by the permafrost.
The Buffer has gone, feedback #14 on the Feedbacks page

Additionally, melting of permafrost on land can cause rapid decomposition of soils, resulting in releases of huge amounts of greenhouse gases, further accelerating warming in the Arctic, which in turn will result in more greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O, water vapor) entering the Arctic atmosphere, more albedo changes, etc., in a vicious self-reinforcing cycle of runaway warming.

There is also a danger that, as temperatures keep rising, the course of the ocean current near Svalbard could change, making that more heat will reach the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS), thus further warming up sediments there.

Add up the impact of all warming elements and, as an earlier analysis shows, the rise in mean global temperatures from preindustrial could be more than 10°C in a matter of years, as illustrated by the images below.

A 2°C rise in temperature alone is devastating, especially when considering that temperature peaks in history look to have been less high than previously thought, as concluded by a recent study in paleoclimate temperature. Therefore, a 10°C rise may well result in one of the warmest temperatures experienced on Earth. Moreover, the speed at which this rise could occur leaves little or no time for plants and animals to adapt, in contrast to historical climate swings that typically took many years to eventuate.

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

Friday, 24 November 2017

Trump worked with Jesse Jackson on Rainbow Coalition

There is something very wrong with the meme of president Trump as a white supremacist, closet neo-Nazi.

How do you compare that with the actual facts (if indeed you’re into facts at all)

There are many reasons why Trump is a terrible president but this does not seem to be one of them

Jesse Jackson Praised Trump in 1999 for LIFETIME of helping African American Community

Donald Trump worked with the Rainbow-PUSH coalition to bring blacks and minorities into corporate America. As POTUS he will transform the crime-ridden inner cities with business development and middle class jobs in the manufacturing and construction sectors through better trade deals and infrastructure projects

Paul Beckwith on Cascading Feedbacks

Climate Tipping Points from Cascading Feedbacks

From my chair, it looks like we can kiss our stable nurturing climate goodby. Humans have poked and prodded and perturbed our Earth systems to the breaking point, and these systems are now breaking. Business as usual guarantees an unstable climate and gut-wrenching consequences for all life on this planet.

We must try to restore a stable climate. Recognizing and declaring a global climate emergency is the first step. Please support my work with a donation at

Canadian article uses Guy McPherson's information without acknowldgement

Factually-correct, this article is extremely intellectually dishonest. All the evidence (especially on global dimming) comes DIRECTLY from Prof. Guy McPherson which is produced without acknowledgement or citation.

Consequently, I am not acknowledging tha author of this piece.

No doubt he will attack Guy at the first opportunity after having used his work.

Are we headed for near-term human extinction?
Recent studies suggest it is irresponsible to rule out the possibility after last week's "warning to humanity" from more than 15,000 climate change scientists

22 November, 2017

warning to humanity” raising the spectre “of potentially catastrophic climate change... from burning fossil fuels, deforestation and agricultural production – particularly from farming ruminants for meat consumption,” was published in the journal BioScience last week. 

More than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries endorsed the caution, which comes on the 25th anniversary of a letter released by the Union of Concerned Scientists in 1992, advising that “a great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided.”
A quarter century on, what gets lost in the dichotomy between climate change believers and deniers is that inaction and avoidance in our daily lives are forms of denial, too. 
And what most of us are collectively denying is the mounting evidence that points to a worst-case scenario unfolding of near-term human extinction. 
Exponential climate change 
In 2015, 195 countries signed the Paris Climate Agreement to limit the rise in global temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius to avoid dangerous climate change. But none of the major industrialized countries that signed the agreement are currently on track to meet the non-binding targets. The Trump administration has indicated the United States will withdraw from the agreement entirely. 
In July, a study in the peer-reviewed journal, Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America, claimed “biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction” is underway. And that “all signs point to ever more powerful assaults on biodiversity in the next two decades, painting a dismal picture of the future of life, including human life,” the study states.
According to scientists, the majority of previous mass extinctions in the geologic record were characterized by abrupt warming between 6 to 7 degrees Celsius. As recently as 2009, British government scientists warned of a possible catastrophic 4 degrees Celsius global temperature increase by 2060. 
As Howard Lee wrote in the Guardian in August, “Geologically fast build-up of greenhouse gas linked to warming, rising sea-levels, widespread oxygen-starved ocean dead zones and ocean acidification are fairly consistent across the mass extinction events, and those same symptoms are happening today as a result of human-driven climate change.”
Runaway climate change is non-linear. Shifts can be exponential, abrupt and massive due to climate change “feedbacks,” which can amplify and diminish the effects of climate change. Here are five you need to know about:
1. Climate lag 
Temperature increases lag by about a decade, according to NASA’s Earth Observatory. “Just as a speeding car can take some time to stop after the driver hits the brakes, the earth’s climate systems may take a while to reflect the change in its energy balance.”
According to a NASA-led study released in July 2016, “Almost one-fifth of the global warming that has occurred in the past 150 years has been missed by historical records due to quirks in how temperatures were recorded.” 
Adding the climate lag to the current level of global temperature increase would take us past the 2 degree Paris Agreement climate target within a decade. 
2. Ice-free Arctic
Dr. Peter Wadhams of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge University told The Independent more than a year ago that the central part of the Arctic and the North Pole could be ice-free within one to two years.
Not only will melting Arctic sea ice raise global sea levels, it will also allow the earth to absorb more heat from the sun because ice reflects the sun’s rays while blue open water absorbs it.
One study in the Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America estimates the extra heat absorbed by the dark waters of the Arctic in summer would add the equivalent of another 25 per cent to global greenhouse gas emissions. 
3. The 50 gigaton methane “burp”
Dr. Natalia Shakhova, of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ International Arctic Research Center has warned that a 50-gigaton burp, or “pulse,” of methane from thawing Arctic permafrost beneath the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is highly possible at any time.” 
Methane is a greenhouse gas much more potent than carbon dioxide. A 50 gigaton burp would be the equivalent of roughly two-thirds of the total carbon dioxide released since the beginning of the industrial era. 
4. Accelerated ocean acidification
The world’s oceans are carbon sinks that sequester a third of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide emitted in addition to that which is produced naturally has changed the chemistry of seawater. The carbon in the oceans converts into carbonic acid, which lowers pH levels and makes the water acidic.
As of 2010, the global population of phytoplankton, the microscopic organisms that form the basis of the ocean’s food web, has fallen by about 40 per cent since 1950. Phytoplankton also absorb carbon dioxide and produce half of the world’s oxygen output. 
The accelerating loss of ocean biodiversity and continued overfishing may result in a collapse of all species of wild seafood by 2048, according to a 2006 study published in the journal Science.
5. From global warming to global dimming
The Canadian government recently announced plans to phase out coal-fired electricity generation by 2030. But at the same time as warming the planet, pollution from coal power plants, airplanes and other sources of industrial soot, aerosols and sulfates are artificially cooling the planet by filling the atmosphere with reflective particles, a process known as global dimming. 
Airplanes, for example, release condensation trails (or contrails) that form cloud cover that reflects the sun. The effects of global dimming are best evidenced by a 2 degree Celsius temperature increase in North America after all commercial flights were grounded for three days following the attacks of 9/11.
The take-away
Out of control climate change means feedback mechanisms may accelerate beyond any capacity of human control. The occurrences  discussed in this article are five of some 60 known weather-related phenomenon, which can lead to what climate scientist James Hansen has termed the “Venus Syndrome,” where oceans would boil and the surface temperature of earth could reach 462 degrees Celsius. Along the way humans could expect to die in resource wars, starvation due to food systems collapse or lethal heat exposure. 
Given all that remains unknown and what is at stake with climate change, is it irresponsible to rule out the possibility of human extinction in the coming decades or sooner?