Thursday, January 30, 2014

Forecast: America to be hit by temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees

The image on the right shows that large parts of North America, the Arctic Ocean and Siberia are experiencing low temperatures.

What many people may not realize is that temperatures in the Arctic are actually a lot higher than they used to be around this time of year.

Temperatures in the Arctic have risen due to feedbacks as described in the post The Biggest Story of 2013.

As a result, temperature anomalies above 20 degrees Celsius now feature in the Arctic. As the image on the right illustrates, the once-common temperature difference between the Arctic and lower latitudes has been shattered, and this is weakening the Jet Stream and the Polar Vortex, in turn making it easier for cold air to flow down to lower latitudes and for warmer air to enter the Arctic, as described in posts at this blog for years, e.g. this post.

This is illustrated by the image below, showing that the Arctic is hit by an overall temperature anomaly of 6.55 degrees Celsius, while some areas in the Arctic feature anomalies above 20 degrees Celsius.


Forecasts show that on February 2nd, 2014, 1200 UTC, the Arctic will be hit by a temperature anomaly of 7.85 degrees Celsius, while on February 6th, 2014, 1200 UTC, the U.S. will be hit by temperatures as low as -40 degrees, as illustrated by the image below.


The video below shows temperature forecasts from February 1to February 8, 2014.


The video below shows temperatire anomalies from February 2 to February 9, 2014.


Meanwhile, the Gulf Stream keeps pushing warm water into the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the image below.

Click on image to enlarge - view updated animation at earth.nullschool.net 
The image below shows how high sea surface temperature anomalies stretch out from the point where the Gulf Stream travels at high speeds, off the coast of North America, all the way into the Arctic Ocean.


This has already resulted in methane eruptions from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean that started several months ago and are continuing to date - ominous signs of more to come. The image below, which compares peak methane levels at two altitudes between January 2013 and January 2014, suggests that January 2014 peak levels have increased strongly, compared to January 2013 peak levels. Furthermore, that the rise in average peak readings has been most dramatic at the higher altitude.


This suggests that huge quantities of methane have indeed been released from hydrates under the Arctic ocean, and that much of the methane is rising and building up at higher altitudes. The increasing appearance of noctilucent clouds further confirms indications that methane concentrations are rising at higher altitudes.

Of course, the above analysis uses a limited dataset, but if verified by further analysis, it would confirm a dramatic rise in the presence of methane in the atmosphere due to releases from hydrates. Moreover, it would confirm the immensity of threat that releases from the Arctic Ocean will escalate and trigger runaway warming, as high methane concentrations over the Arctic are contributing to the anomalously high temperatures there. The risk that this will eventuate is unacceptable, which calls for comprehensive and effective action such as discussed at the ClimatePlan blog.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Methane Man


At the 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama said that the all-of-the-above energy strategy he announced a few years ago is working, describing natural gas as the bridge fuel that can power our economy.

Just do NOT tell them the monster exists
President Obama said: "Businesses plan to invest almost $100 billion in new factories that use natural gas. I’ll cut red tape to help states get those factories built, and this Congress can help by putting people to work building fueling stations that shift more cars and trucks from foreign oil to American natural gas."

President Obama added: "And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did."

Methane levels going through the roof
Sadly, President Obama doesn't. President Obama missed yet another opportunity to articulate a plan to shift to genuinely clean energy, and instead chose to persist supporting all types of energy, in particular natural gas.

As the U.S. shifts to natural gas, more methane is entering the atmosphere. At the same time, methane eruptions from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean continue to contribute to the temperature rises in the Arctic that are making the weather ever more extreme. The image below shows surface temperature anomalies above 20°C in the Arctic, while anomalies below -20°C feature at lower latitudes.



Monday, January 27, 2014

Our New Climate and Weather - part 2



by Paul Beckwith

continued from part 1

In North America we are about to experience a late January, 2014 weather event that will likely go down in the record books, at least for a few weeks until the next event. Such is life on our rapidly changing planet in Climate 2.0, or perhaps this would better be called the great abrupt climate change transition between Climate 1.0 (our old climate) and the new, much warmer Climate 2.0.

In any event, the jet stream is configuring into that two crest/two trough mode that I discussed above. An enormous plug of cold Arctic air is descending southward across North America with temperature anomalies 20 degrees C below normal (36 degrees F below normal). It likely reaches far enough south to enter into northern Mexico and to cover large parts of Florida and extend out into the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, resulting in northern Florida dropping below freezing (see my YouTube video below).

For more commentary on above video, see the post Deep Freeze and Abrupt Climate Change

Meanwhile, in turn, almost the entire Arctic region is seeing huge positive temperature anomalies that are 20 degrees C above normal (36 degrees F above normal). This air is changing the Arctic circulation patterns, and although the Arctic air temperature is still below zero, it is so much warmer than normal that the thickening and area growth of sea ice is being severely curtailed. There is strong ice motion out of the Fram Strait between Greenland and Svalbard which is carrying some of the thickest ridged ice just north of the Canadian archipelago out to warmer water and destruction. In the Bering Strait the ice motion is switching between transport of warm Pacific Ocean water into the Arctic Ocean and export of cold Arctic Ocean water out into the Pacific, leading to less ice formation outside the strait.


The easternmost and westernmost edges of North America are outside the jet stream trough, and being in the ridge on either side of the trough are experiencing record warm temperatures. Snow is minimal there, and lakes that would normally have frozen long ago are open water. Further south on the west coast, California is undergoing a record drought and the Sierra Nevada snow pack which feeds the rivers and reservoirs in the state is only at 15 to 20% of normal levels. And this is the normal rainy season for California, which is the breadbasket of the nation. If this drought continues, as it has for almost 3 years, it is very likely that food prices will increase substantially across North America.

Putting on my Engineering hat, it is very clear to me that the large temperature swings over short periods of time that occur as the jet stream troughs and ridges sweep past a fixed region such as a city are wreaking havoc on infrastructure. We have commonly been getting temperature swings of 40 degrees Celsius (72 degrees F) within a day or two. These swings usually cross zero, and result in torrential rain events followed by flash freezing and then large amounts of snow, or the inverse process occurs, often in a cycle over a week. Clearly buildings, roads, railroad tracks, and pipelines are under siege from these temperature swings, precipitation changes and repeated freeze/thaw cycles.

Consider a railroad track. The rails are basically two ribbons of steel of length L separated by width w that are held in place by spikes onto wooden railroad ties. Each section L is joined to adjacent sections with spacers. The tracks are designed for a nominal temperature range. At the high end temperature, the steel expands to its maximum length, and adjacent sections butt together at the join. At the low end temperature, the steel contracts and the gap between adjacent rails is at a maximum. As the daily temperature varies between the lows and highs, the rail expands and contracts. Similarly, for seasonal changes. All within design tolerances. What we are seeing now is a higher frequency of extreme temperature swings of 40 degrees C or larger (72 degrees F), which is greatly stressing the rail infrastructure. These large swings are stretching the limits of the design tolerances since they exceed the usual daily temperature ranges, and occur way faster than any seasonal change. In combination with the explosion of rail traffic from oil trains, the risk of derailment accidents has greatly increased, and we are seeing an enormous increase in derailments. We have also seen a large increase in the frequency, amplitude, duration, and spatial area of torrential rainfall events which have led to floods and extreme river flow rates which undercuts bridges and also leads to more rail derailments. Especially when the rail is submerged for extended periods of time, as occurred, for example in Colorado in late summer 2013.

Ditto with pipelines. Pipeline sections are attached to each other via welds or sleeves and during extreme temperature swings the expansion and contraction of concern is in the longitudinal direction of the pipe. The pipelines are usually buried a few meters under the ground, which can reduce the temperature variation during the atmospheric temperature swings, however where they cross rivers and streams they are exposed to the changing elements and river flows. They are also susceptible to flash freeze events in which large sections of the ground contract and lead to cracking and soil displacement. Water saturation levels in the soils has a large effect on pipeline stresses, and can undergo rapid changes from rapidly changing precipitation cycles.

We are all familiar with how roads fare under extensive freeze/thaw cycles. Even worse, the ice melting salt corrodes guardrails, signs, and posts and as cracks open up in the asphalt salty water percolates in and the freeze thaw cycles widen the cracks leading to potholes and road breakup. And that is in northern latitude regions that have a regular snow in winter climate. In more southern regions that are unaccustomed to snow, there is widespread use of concrete for road surfaces. When there are large temperature swings the concrete is more prone to cracking and it is more difficult to remove snow and ice from these roads, since there is a lack of snow removal equipment and salt in these regions, and the concrete is lighter in color and thus absorbs less solar energy than asphalt and thus stays colder.

The biggest problem that homeowners face in more southern latitudes from these deep freeze situations, apart from personal discomfort in poorly insulated homes, is water pipe freezing and rupturing. Leaving the water taps all partially open to ensure a trickle of water flow through the pipes alleviates a lot of this problem.

In summary, climate change caused extreme weather events are severely stressing infrastructure like roads, bridges, rail, pipelines, and buildings. Much of this infrastructure was built many years ago and upgrading and maintenance has been neglected due to postponed and reduced budgets; while traffic on rail, for example has exploded in volume and weight. We are now facing the consequences of accelerated climate change and the years of neglect of our aging infrastructure.

In the video below, Paul says more about the damage to railway tracks and pipelines.



Southern Hemisphere Climate Changes

In the video below, Paul Beckwith explains how declining Arctic sea ice is causing Australia to bake and Antarctic sea ice to grow.


to be continued

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Higher Altitude Methane Rise

Dramatic methane releases from the Arctic Ocean seafloor have been documented at this blog over the past few months. While the most recent IPCC figures for emissions from hydrates and permafrost are only 7 Tg per year, a recent post estimates current emissions from hydrates at 99 Tg per year, a figure that is growing rapidly. Furthermore, as discussed in an earlier post, the IPCC's estimated annual increase in global methane levels may seem small, but this figure appears to be based on low-altitude data collected over the past few decades.

These high methane releases undoubtedly contribute to higher global levels, but they may not (as yet) translate into higher global averages due to the way data are collected and figures are averaged and calculated. 

Global levels can be calculated by adding up and averaging readings from all measuring stations around the world. This works well for conventional emissions such as from wetlands, from agriculture or from burning fuel. Such emissions originate from numerous land-based sources that are spread out over large areas, while each emitting relatively small quantities of methane periodically or continuously, which makes it easy for hydroxyl to brake down this type of methane before it rises up into the air. Thus, such emissions can be relatively easily measured from land-based measuring stations. 

By contrast, the Arctic Ocean covers only 2.8% of the Earth's surface and releases from hydrates originate in only parts of the Arctic Ocean. Thus, the methane that enters the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean is very concentrated to start with. Furthermore, hydroxyl levels in the Arctic atmosphere are low, especially at this time of year. As a result, much of the methane that enters the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean will rise higher up into the atmosphere without being broken down, and much of the methane will continue to be present over the Arctic for years, exercizing methane's very high initial warming potential. 

There are only a few measuring stations in the Arctic and they are all land-based, making that measurements can be taken at altitudes that are too low to capture the full scale of the methane concentrations that have formed as a result of methane releases from the Arctic Ocean seafloor over the past few months. The local nature and further characteristics of releases from the Arctic Ocean can make that they are underestimated or even ignored in measurements taken at land-based stations and in global levels that are calculated from such data. 

The situation can be tested by looking at peak levels of methane showing up at specific altitudes, as measured by satellite sensors, specifically at two altitudes, i.e. at 14,385 Ft (or 4,385 m) and at 19,820 Ft (or 6,041 m), since methane as measured by the IASI MetOp polar-orbiting satellite shows up most prominently at these altitudes over the Arctic. Thus, to detect methane originating from hydrates under the Arctic Ocean, it's best to look at peak levels at these altitudes. The image below shows IASI data available in January 2013 and in January 2014, for these two altitudes.  





The results of this analysis are quite disturbing, for two reasons. Firstly, January 2014 peak levels have increased strongly, compared to January 2013 peak levels. Secondly, the rise in average peak readings has been most dramatic at the higher altitude (from 2066 ppb in 2013 to 2240 ppb in 2014). 

This suggests that huge quantities of methane have indeed been released from hydrates under the Arctic ocean, and that much of the methane is rising and building up at higher altitudes. The increasing appearance of noctilucent clouds further confirms indications that methane concentrations are rising at higher altitudes. 

Of course, the above analysis uses a limited dataset, but if verified by further analysis, it would confirm a dramatic rise in the presence of methane in the atmosphere due to releases from hydrates. Moreover, it would confirm the immensity of threat that releases from the Arctic Ocean will escalate and trigger runaway warming. The risk that this will eventuate is unacceptable, which calls for comprehensive and effective action such as discussed at the ClimatePlan blog

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Our New Climate and Weather


by Paul Beckwith

The familiar global weather patterns that we, our parents, and our grandparents (and most of our distant ancestors, at least as far back as the last ice age remnants) have always experienced are no more. We have entered an abrupt climate change phase in which an energized water primed atmosphere and disrupted circulation patterns give rise to unfamiliar, massive and powerfully destructive storms, torrential rains, widespread heat waves and droughts, and less commonly but occasionally widespread cold spells.

Why is this happening now? Sophisticated Earth System computer Models (ESMs), summaries of state-of-the-art peer reviewed climate science (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC), and mainstream science have generally put the climate change threat out to the latter part of the century. Global data from all parts of the world, but most noticeably the Arctic shows that reality is quite different from these models and mainstream thinking.

Just by looking out the window much of humanity now senses that something is very different, and uncomfortably wrong in their particular region.

Depending on location, vegetation is drying out and burning, or being toppled by very high wind events, or oceans are invading upon coastlines, or rivers are overrunning banks or drying up or both, while rainfall deluges are inundating other regions. In fact some regions are vacillating between massive floods and massive droughts, or record high temperatures and record low temperatures, even on a weekly basis.

As crazy as things are now, clearly they are not bad enough to wake up the general population enough to vote down denier politicians and demand extensive governmental action on the problem. Not to worry, that action is a sure bet in the near future, the only question is will it happen next year, or in 3 years?

In the meantime, many of us are doing as much as we can to educate people on the dangers we face and speed up the understanding of climate reality process. As much as we do, ultimately it is the hammer of extreme weather, causing, for example global crop failures or taking out a few more cities in rich countries that will take the final credit for an abrupt tipping point in human behavior.

The key to the disruption in the climate system is the Arctic.

Human emissions have inexorably increased levels of carbon dioxide and methane (Greenhouse gases GHGs) in the atmosphere sufficiently to cause an incremental overall increase of global mean surface temperature by 0.8 degrees C over the last century. Over the last 3 decades, the GHGs have caused sufficient warming in the Arctic to melt enough land-covered snow and ocean covered ice such that the highly reflective surfaces have been replaced by dark underlying land and ocean greatly increasing sunlight absorption causing Arctic temperature amplification of 3x to 5x and higher.

This has melted permafrost on the land and on the shallow continental shelves and has increased Arctic methane emissions, which on a molecule-to-molecule basis cause warming >150x compared to carbon dioxide on a short timescale. Arctic temperature amplification has reduced the equator-to-Arctic temperature difference, which is responsible for setting up global circulation patterns on the rotating Earth. Thus, the high speed jet stream winds which circumvent the globe become slower, and wavier, and weather patterns change.

Extreme weather events become stronger, more frequent, of longer duration, and act on new regions. In effect, the climate background has changed, so the statistics of all weather events changes. When the ocean tide comes in all boats rise, when the climate system changes all weather events change.

So how does the North American freeze of early January, 2014 and the upcoming late January, 2014 freeze fit into this picture? In our familiar climate, the polar jet stream flowed mostly west to east (with small north-south deviations or waves, with typically 4 to 7 crests and troughs around the globe) separating cold dry Arctic air from lower latitude warmer moist air. The latitude of the jet moves southward in our winter and northward in our summer.

In our present climate the jet stream waviness has greatly increased and eastward average speed has decreased. Not only that, but in early January there were only two troughs (over North America and central Asia) and two crests (over Europe and the Pacific up through Alaska and the Bering Strait).

The troughs had temperatures 20 degrees C cooler than normal, while the crests had temperatures 20 degrees C warmer than normal. These large waves and slowing of the jet stream is directly responsible for the changes we have been experiencing in weather extremes. Cold or warm, depending on your location.

continued at part 2

Thursday, January 16, 2014

High methane levels over the Arctic Ocean on January 14, 2014

[ click on image to enlarge - note that 'level' is the peak reading for the respective altitude ]
Above image shows IASI methane levels on January 14, 2014, when levels as high as 2329 ppb were recorded. This raises a number of questions. Did these high methane levels originate from releases from the Arctic Ocean, and if so, how could such high methane releases occur from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean at this time of year, when temperatures in the northern hemisphere are falling?

Location

Let's first establish where the methane releases occurred that caused these high levels. After all, high methane concentrations are visible at a number of areas, most prominently at three areas, i.e. at the center of the Arctic Ocean, in Baffin Bay and over an area in Asia stretching out from the Taklamakan Desert to the Gobi Desert.

Closer examination, illustrated by the inset, shows that the highest methane levels were recorded in the afternoon, and at altitudes where methane concentrations over these Asian deserts and over Baffin Bay were less prominent, leading to the conclusion that these high methane levels did indeed originate from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean.

The image below, showing 1950+ ppb readings over the past few days, illustrates the magnitude of the methane concentrations over the Arctic Ocean.


High concentrations persist over the Arctic Ocean

High methane concentrations have persistently shown up over the Arctic Ocean from October 1, 2013, through to January 2014. On January 19, 2014, levels as high as 2363 ppb were recorded over the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the image below.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
Causes

What caused these high releases from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean to persist for so long? At this time of year, one may have thought that the water in the Arctic Ocean would be much colder than it was, say, on October 1, 2013.

Actually, as the combination image below shows, sea surface temperatures have not decreased much at the center of the Arctic Ocean between early October, 2013 (left) and January 14, 2014 (right). In the area where these high methane concentrations occured, sea surface temperatures have remained the same, at about zero degrees Celsius.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
Furthermore, as the above image shows, surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean may have fallen dramatically with the change of season, but temperatures in the Arctic Ocean have changed only little.

In this case of course, what matters more than surface temperatures are water temperatures at greater depth. Yet, even here temperatures in the Arctic Ocean will have decreased only slightly since early October 2013, as the Gulf Stream has continued to push warmer water into the Arctic, i.e. water warmer than the water in the Arctic Ocean. In other words, the heating impact of the Gulf Stream has continued.

Furthermore, as the sea ice extent increased, there have been less opportunities for the heat to evaporate on the surface and for heat to be transferred from the Arctic Ocean to the air.

Finally, what matters a lot is salinity. The combination image below compares salinity levels between October 1, 2013 (left), and January 14, 2014 (right).

[ click on image to enlarge ]
Salinity levels were low on October 1, 2013, as a lot of ice and snow had melted in the northern summer and rivers had carried a lot of fresh water into the Arctic Ocean. After October 1, 2013, little or no melting took place, yet the Gulf Stream continued to carry waters with higher salt levels from the Atlantic Ocean into the Arctic Ocean.

Annual mean sea surface salinity
Seawater typically has a salinity level of over 3%; it freezes and melts at about −2°C (28°F). Where more saline water from the Atlantic Ocean flows into the Arctic Ocean, the water in the Arctic Ocean becomes more saline. The freezing and melting point of fresh water (i.e. zero salinity) is 0°C (or 32°F). More salinity makes frozen water more prone to melting, i.e. at temperatures lower than 0°C, or as low as −2°C.

As the salinity levels of the water on the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean increased, the ice that had until then held the methane captive in hydrates on the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean started to melt. Indeed, the areas in the Arctic Ocean where the high methane releases occurred on January 14, 2014 (top image) show several practical salinity units (psu) increase since October 1, 2013.

Higher salinity levels are now reaching the faultline that runs through the Arctic Ocean from the top of Greenland to the Laptev Sea, where major releases are taking place now, as illustrated by the image below, with faultlines added on the insets.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
Above image shows methane levels recorded on the evening of January 16, 2014 (main image). The top left inset shows all methane readings of 1950 ppb and higher on January 15 and 16, 2014, while the bottom left inset shows methane readings of 1950 ppb and higher on January 16, 2014, p.m. only and for seven layers only (from 469 to 586 mb), when levels as high as 2353 ppb were reached (at 469 mb).

Quantities

These high levels of methane showing up over the Arctic Ocean constitute only part of the methane that did escape from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. Where these high concentrations did show up, the ocean can be thousands of meters deep, giving microbes plenty of opportunity to decompose methane rising through the water first. Furthermore, the methane has to pass through sea ice that is now getting more than one meter thick in the area where these high levels of methane showed up on satellite records. In conclusion, the quantities of methane that were actually released from the seafloor must have been huge.

Importantly, these are not one-off releases, such as could be the case when hydrates get destabilized by an earthquake. As the Arctic-news blog has documented, high releases from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean have been showing up persistently since early October 2013, i.e. three months ago. This blog has warned about the threat for years. This blog has also described in detail the mechanisms that are causing these releases and the unfolding climate catastrophe that looks set to become more devastating every year.

Given that a study submitted in April 2013 concluded that 17 Tg annually was escaping from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf alone, given the vast quantity of the releases from hydrates that show up on IASI readings and given the prolonged periods over which releases from hydrates can persist, I put the methane being released from hydrates under the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean in the highest category, rivaling global emissions from fossil fuel, from agriculture and from wetlands. As said, the amounts of methane being released from hydrates will be greater than the methane that actually reaches the atmosphere. To put a figure on the latter, my estimate is that emissions from hydrates and permafrost currently amount to 100 Tg annually, a figure that is growing rapidly. This 100 Tg includes 1 Tg for permafrost, similar to IPCC estimates.



This is vastly more than the IPCC's most recent estimates, which put emissions from hydrates and permafrost at 7 Tg annually, a mere 1% of the total annual methane emissions globally, as illustrated by the image below.


Impacts and Response

Huge releases from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean have occurred persistently since early October 2013, even when releases like this may show up for one day in one area without showing up in that same area the next day on satellite images.

This apparent 'disappearance' can be due to the Coriolis effect that appears to move the methane, whereas it is in fact the Earth that is spinning underneath the methane. This doesn't mean that the methane had disappeared. Actually, much of this methane will persist over the Arctic for many years to come and will continue to exercize its very high initial warming potential over the Arctic for years.

Furthermore, even if less methane may show up on satellite images the next day, that doesn't necessarily mean that releases from the seafloor has stopped. Instead, it looks like methane is being released continuously from destabilizing hydrates. The methane may accumulate underneath the sea ice for some time, to burst through at a moment when fractures or ruptures occur in the sea ice, due to changes in wind and wave height.


The threat here is that methane will further warm up the air over the Arctic, causing further weakening of the Jet Stream and further extreme weather events, particularly extreme warming of water all the way along the path of the Gulf Stream from the Atlantic Ocean into the Arctic Ocean, in turn triggering further releases from hydrates at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean and escalating into runaway global warming. This threat calls for comprehensive and effective action, such as described at the ClimatePlan blog.





Saturday, January 11, 2014

Arctic in early January 2014

In early January 2014, Arctic sea ice extent reached levels as low as they were in early January 2013, as illustrated by the image below.


Methane levels over the Arctic remain extremely high. The image below shows methane readings for the period January 1 - 11, 2014, with the inset showing the situation in 2013 for the same period.


Similarly, the image below makes a comparison between methane recorded in 2013 and in 2014 for this period (January 1-11), this time focusing on the Arctic and only showing methane readings of 1950 ppb and higher in yellow.


Below a combination of images by Dr. Leonid Yurganov, also comparing methane levels between early 2013 and 2014. The difference isn't as marked in the image below as in the above image, as the highest value in the image below is 1920+ ppb, whereas the above image highlights levels of 1950+ ppb.


These high methane releases from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean are contributing to the over 20°C temperature anomalies that have hit parts of the Arctic Ocean recently, as illustrated by the image below.

In conclusion, the Arctic is hit by three kinds of warming, while there are at least 13 feedbacks that further accelerate warming in the Arctic, as described in the post The Biggest Story of 2013.




Wednesday, January 8, 2014

High Methane Levels over Arctic Ocean continue in 2014

The high methane levels over the Arctic Ocean, the biggest story of 2013, continue in 2014, as illustrated by the image below.


As above image shows, high methane readings (as high as 2301 ppb on January 6, 2014) continue in 2014. High methane concentrations continue to enter the atmosphere where the sea ice is thin and where the sea ice is carried by currents outside of the Arctic Ocean.

The inset shows ice thickness on January 6, 2014. The inset highlights the huge amounts of sea ice that are carried by the sea current from the north of Greenland into the Atlantic Ocean.

What is the impact of these high methane releases over the Arctic Ocean on global methane levels? The image below shows the most recent global methane levels available from NOAA.


The image below shows readings from surface flask at Mauno Loa, Hawaii, with two recent readings (in the top right corner) reaching levels close to 1880 ppb.


Clearly, methane levels are rising globally and high releases over the Arctic Ocean are contributing to the global rise. The images below show recent data from stations in the Arctic, i.e. the image below showing readings from in situ measurements at the station at Barrow, Alaska, and the image further below showing flask samples taken at Tiksi, Russia.



Note that the above images reflect land-based measurements taken at altitudes that are typically too low to capture the extent at which methane is rising in the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean. Nonetheless, the wind can at times carry along some of the methane from the Arctic Ocean, as is apparent in a number of readings in above images showing levels of over 2100 ppb.

The image below shows high methane releases over the Arctic Ocean, as recorded on (part of) January 7, 2014, when levels were reached as high as 2381 ppb.


The image below shows methane levels on (part of) January 8, 2014, when levels as high as 2341 ppb were recorded. The inset confirms indications that these high levels originate from the Arctic Ocean.


These high methane concentrations over the Arctic are contributing to high temperature anomalies that further accelerate warming in the Arctic, as illustrated by the image below.


For a more detailed description of the kinds of warming and feedbacks that are hitting the Arctic, see the post The Biggest Story of 2013.



Sunday, January 5, 2014

Global Warming and the Gulf Stream

Global Warming and the Gulf Stream - Our Atmospheric Pollution Roadway to Subsea Arctic Methane-Induced Climatic Hell

by Malcolm P.R. Light, 5th January, 2014

The amount of water presently transported north eastward by the Gulf Stream varies from 30 million cubic metres per second off Florida to a maximum of 150 million cubic metres per second south of Newfoundland at 55° is transported within this volume of water is approximately equal to the amount carried north east by the atmosphere which gives North Western Europe its milder climate (Wales, 2013).

The surface temperature off the Coast of the United States in the western North Atlantic shows the warm Gulf Stream (in red on Figure 1) while colder oceanic zones are in dark blue (Wales, 2013).

Figure 2 from Csanady (2001) shows the heat gain and loss for the Atlantic Ocean which was posthumously published from Bunker in (1988) In: the North Atlantic from Bunker and Worthington (1976).

Csanady (2001) says that "the contours connect points of equal heat gain in watts per square meter (Wm-2)(negative if heat is lost). The zero-gain contour cuts through this ocean along a diagonal roughly from Spain to the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean. North of this contour the ocean loses heat, at spectacularly high rates over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. Here the annual average rate of loss exceeds 200 watts per square meter (exceeds 250 watts per square meter off New England/Canada - my insertion). On the other side of the ocean, off the Norway coast, a northwards tongue of the Warm-Water-Sphere (Gulf Stream - my insertion) is still responsible for heat losses between 50 and 100 watts per square meter, and even higher off Lapland".

When humans get too hot their bodies perspire (sweat) water and this water evaporates at a high rate in windy conditions giving them "wind chill". The excessive heating off the Gulf Stream by pollution clouds pouring off the coast of North America is directly related to excessive heat loss in the same region (Figure 2) because the heat induced extreme atmospheric pressure change generates very strong winds which "wind chill" the overheated ocean there. Gulf Stream water temperatures range up to 13°C to 26.5°C (Hurricanes) and water in this temperature range requires about 2440 to 2470 thousand Joules of energy per kilogram for it to change from a liquid into a gaseous state (Latent heat of evaporation; Hyperphysics, 2013; Lide and Fredrickse, 1995). The loss of this latent heat of evaporation is the main reason for the extreme heat loss shown by the hot Gulf Stream waters offshore North America (Figure 2).
Figure 3. shows the yearly human carbon dioxide emissions in tons per person versus inflation adjusted income (Image from gapminder.org, 2013).

The total carbon dioxide emitted by each country is proportional to the size of the circles (Figure 3).

The United Kingdom emitted the most carbon dioxide per person at the start of the industrial revolution but the United States caught up with the U.K. at the start of the 20th century (Figure 3).

From then on the U.S.A. grew to be the largest emitter of carbon dioxide (Figure 3). An average U.S. citizen causes 3 times as much carbon dioxide to be emitted (19 tons of carbon dioxide/person) than a person in China (4.7 tons of carbon dioxide/person)(Figure 3).

China however due to its large population emits a lot of carbon dioxide in total (Figure 3). 5 states, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Australia, U.S.A. and Canada have the most extreme human carbon footprints on Earth (Figure 3) (Light, 2013).

Figures 4a shows the giant equatorial current gyres in the Southern and Northern Hemispheres.

The southern gyre (South Atlantic) is very symetrical, while the northern gyre (North Atlantic) shows extreme asymetry with the elongated core rotational zone lying only a short distance east of the coast of North America and the narrow Gulf Stream current here is elevated and shows the highest volume of transport (150 Sverdrups = 150 million cubic metres per second).

This extreme asymetry is due to global warming from the large volume of pollution clouds pouring off the industrialized zones along the east coast of North America.

This generates a massive atmospheric pressure gradient and accelerates the strong prevailing South Westerly wind flow.

These winds drive the Gulf Stream to high velocities and force surface waters to move offshore from Ekman transport, piling them up (Figure 4b) (Csanady, 2001).

Figure 4b also shows the limited extent of the Sargasso Sea in the late 20th century.

In the late 18th century the Sargasso Sea extended over the entire middle of the North Atlantic (Figure 4c; Krummel 1891).

The extreme asymetry presently The extreme asymetry presently shown by the North Atlantic current gyre (Figure 4d) in the middle of the 20th century was caused by the migration of the rotational core zone more than 1500 km north west as the strength of the prevailing South Westerly winds picked up along the Gulf Stream offshore N. America due to the global warming caused by pollution clouds pouring offshore from the onshore U.S. industries.



The extremely high current transport rates of the Gulf Stream directly offshore the industrialized United States varied from 55 in 1942 to up to 150 Sverdrups (millions of cubic metres/second) at the present day indicating the effects of extreme global warming enhancement here (Figure 4d, Csanady, 2001; Sverdrup, Johnson and Fleming, 1942; Wales, 2013). In addition this map shows the extreme asymmetry of the North Atlantic current gyre, the heated ocean waters in the region of the Gulf Stream (line ornament) and the north east extension of the Gulf Stream via the Hebrides and Norway to the Arctic Ocean (Figure 4d, Sverdrup, Johnson and Fleming, 1942). Csanady (2001) says that:- "South of the zero-gain contour, over most of the subtropical gyre, the ocean gains heat as colder waters flow southward (Canary Current - my insertion) and absorb solar heat. The energy gain through this "cold water advection" process being, however, moderate, typically 25 watts per square meter. In this region, evaporation is also high, raising the salinity of surface waters". Figure 4d. shows the hot north - east trending Gulf Stream feeding into the North Atlantic Drift and a number of south east trending higher salinity branches which flow clockwise back into the extreme surface salinity zone in the North Atlantic (Weather - online 2012).

The spectacular rates of heat loss from the Gulf Stream waters off the coast of the United States can be clearly followed north east to Norway where they split into the eastern Yermack branch entering the Barents Sea and the West Spitzbergen (Svalbard) Current which dives beneath the floating Arctic Ice Cap (Figure 2). This northward pointing tongue of hot and saline Gulf Stream water is also clearly visible on the salinity map (Figure 5) as strong inflexions in the contours first west of Ireland and then south of Svalbard just before the Gulf Stream dives beneath the floating Arctic Ice cap as the West Spitzbergen Current (Figure 5).


The Gulf Stream (West Spitzbergen Current) follows the southern shelf edge of the Arctic Eurasian Basin to the Laptev Sea destabilizing the subsea Arctic methane hydrates en route and releasing ever increasing amounts of methane into the Arctic atmosphere (Figure 6). The West Spitzbergen Current is still losing some 50 watts per meter by the time it reaches the floating ice cap west of Svalbard but the shallower eastern Yermack Current looses much larger amounts of heat (100 - 600 watts per metre depending on the seasons). Häkkinen and Cavalieri, 1989 indicate that in mid-winter off Lapland, heat losses reach 600 watts per square meter while in August they range from 20 to 40 watts per square meter, where the ice-sheet edge stops any exchange of heat from the sea to the air.

Figures 7, 8 and 9 show the yearly north-eastward Gulf Stream transport of the energy (watts) from the North Atlantic Sub-Tropical Gyre to the Arctic Ocean. The map uses Gulf Stream flow volumes in Sverdrups (= one million cubic metres/second) calibrated to the heat flow trend from eight measured heat flow values along the Gulf Stream (Csanady, 2001). The calibration constant is 3.85 x ten to the power of 7. The heat flow data comes from Csanady, 2001; Gulf Stream flow volumes from Sverdrup, Johnson and Fleming, 1942, Wales J., 2013 and the University of California, (CDL, 2013).
The Gulf Stream shows a zone of anomalously large global warming heating, extremely high rates of South Westerly wind induced ocean current flow, extreme wind chill (caused by evaporation of the sea surface) and elevation of the surface of the Gulf Stream along the coast of the industrialized United States and Canada (Figures 7 to 9 and Figure 4b).
Quite clearly the global warming caused by pollution clouds pouring off the coast of the industialized United States is generating a large air pressure differential, accelerating and heating the prevailing South Westerly Wind flow with its consequent wide ranging effects on the Gulf Stream seen as far north as the central Arctic. As mentioned previously this global warming has increased the rate of water transport from 55 Sverdrups in 1942 to up to 150 Sverdrups at the present (Sverdrup et al. 1942, Wales, 2013).

The heat necessary to liberate methane from the methane hydrates in the Arctic Ocean and cause runaway global warming, total deglaciation and extinction in 2052 represents only one thousandth of the total amount of heat being added to the Arctic ocean by the Gulf Stream (Figure 9). The Yermack Current (E. extension of the Gulf Stream) in the Barents Sea intersects the West Spitzbergen Current (W. extension of the Gulf Stream) at the junction of the Eurasian Basin/Laptev Sea (Figure 7 - 9). This represents an extreme subsea - atmospheric methane emission point above a zone of hydrothermal methane hydrates formed on the Gakkel ridge where it enters the Laptev Sea (Light 2013).

Human-induced global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels is found to be continuous when the ice, land and atmosphere heating data (Church et al. 2011) is combined with the 5 - year average ocean heat content to a depth of 2000 metres (Levitus et al. 2012)(Figure 10a. Nuccitelli et al. 2012).

The lack of incorporation of this data in the global warming equation by the IPCC, is the reason for the extreme 50 year error found in estimating the floating Arctic ice cap melt time using global atmospheric models as discussed in previous papers (Light 2012, Light 2013). The rate of increase of global warming heat is equivalent to 8 x ten to the power of 21 joules per year (Nuccitelli et al. 2012). The ocean has absorbed 93.4 percent of the heat from global warming (Figure 10b, ACS 2013). The total amount of heat generated by human induced global warming between 1990 and 2010 is some 14 x ten power 22 joules which is equivalent to an absorbed energy flux of 2.2 x ten power 14 watts, i.e about 0.5 watts per square metre of the earth's surface (ACS 2013).
The relative amount of human-induced global warming energy in watts being added every year to the oceans, ice, land and atmosphere and being transferred by the Gulf Stream to the subsea Arctic methane hydrates is shown in Figure 11 (Nuccitelli et al. 2012).

Methane release rates from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (Shakova et al, 2013) combined with the area of the Arctic Ocean have been used to determine mean methane release rates for the entire Arctic Ocean (Light, 2013). If only a few percent of the subsea methane hydrate reserves in the Arctic Ocean (some 1000 billion tons of Carbon) are dissasociated and the methane released to the atmosphere, it will cause total delaciation and a major extinction event (Light and Solana 2002. The energy necessary to produce these Arctic methane release rates require only about one thousandth of the heat energy input from the Gulf Stream to dissociate the methane hydrates (Figure 11).
Furthermore the energy necessary to produce these Arctic methane release rates represent less than one millionth of the global warming heat energy being added to the oceans, ice, land and atmosphere by human fossil fuel burning (Figure 11). The total human induced global warming is equivalent to 4 Hiroshima atomic bombs detonating every second (Nuccitelli et al. 2012).

Humanity has signed its death warrant and our final extinction will be carried out by Mother Earth within the next 30 to 40 years unless we immediately take extremely drastic action to entirely curb our carbon dioxide pollution, eliminate large quantities of methane from the subsea Arctic Ocean, seawater and atmosphere (down to ca 750 ppm) and revert completely to renewable energy.

The rate of water transport of the Gulf Stream off the industrialized United States, south of New Foundland at 55° (Sverdrup et al. 1942) to 150 Sverdrups by 2013 (Wales, 2013). This is a 95 Sverdrup increase in transport over 71 years, at a rate of 1.338 Sverdrups/year equivalent to 1.85 x ten to power 14 watts/year using the conservative factor derived in figure 13.85 x ten to power 7 to covert Sverdrups to energy transport in watts/year. Previous analysis of earthquake activity, Arctic ice cap melt back data and the mean atmospheric methane content of the atmosphere indicate that the Arctic methane hydrate (clathrate) gun began to fire continuously in 2007 and the world is now far advanced into runaway global warming which will increase the mean temperature of the atmosphere by 8 degrees C by the mid 21st century (2050 - 2052)(Light 2013). This will lead to total deglaciation and a major extinction event. (Light 2013). The critical transport in 2007 off the Gulf Stream offshore the indutrialized United States, directly south of New Foundland at 55° west longitude is 42 Sverdrups which precipitated the start of the continuous firing of the methane hydrate (clathrate) gun and runaway global warming.

The Gulf Stream transport rate started the methane hydrate (clathrate) gun firing in the Arctic in 2007 when its energy/year exceeded 10 million times the amount of energy/year necessary to dissociate subsea Arctic methane hydrates. Therefore the United States and Canada must sharply reduce their airborne pollution from fossil fuel extraction and use, to cut back the Gulf Stream transport rate to less than 142 Sverdrups south of New Foundland at 55° west longitude. Here the Gulf Stream transport rate should be reduced to below 130 Sverdrups or even 100 Sverdrups to make sure that the methane hydrate (clathrate) gun completely terminates firing in the subsea Arctic. Unless this is done immediately humanity will be facing complete extinction in a methane induced firestorm by the middle of this century.

Our Only Hope for Survival

Light (2013) clearly showed the required massive reduction in global warming fossil fuel burning emissions that the United States and Canada must undertake immediately, if there is any faint hope of stopping the runaway global warming that is now underway (since 2007). The power, prestige and massive economy of the United States has been built on cheap and abundant fossil fuels and Canada is now trying to do the same. The present end of the financial crisis and recovery of the U.S. economy will take us down the same fossil fuel driven road to catastrophe that the U.S. has followed before. Unless the United States, Canada reduce their extreme carbon footprints (per unit population) (Figures 29 and 30), they will end up being found guilty of ecocide and genocide as the number of countries destroyed by the catastrophic weather systems continues to increase.

The United States and Canada with their expanding economies and their growing frenetic extraction of fossil fuels, using the most environmentally destructive methods possible (fracking and shale oil) as well as the population's total addiction to inefficient gas transport is leading our planet into suicide. We are like maniacal lemmings leaping to their deaths over a global warming cliff. What a final and futile legacy it will be for the leader of the free world to be remembered only in the log of some passing alien ship recording the loss of the Earth’s atmosphere and hydrosphere after 2080 due to human greed and absolute energy ineptitude.

The U.S. Government and Canada must ban all environmentally destructive methods of fossil fuel extraction such as fracking, extracting shale oil and coal and widespread construction of the now found to be faulty hydrocarbon pipeline systems. All Federal Government subsidies to fossil fuel corporations, for fossil fuel discovery and extraction must be immediately eliminated and the money spent solely on renewable energy development which will provide many jobs to the unemployed. All long and short range (high consumption) fossil fuel transport must be electrified and where the range is too large, electrical trains must be used instead of trucks for transport. All the major work for this conversion and railway construction can provide a new and growing set of jobs for the unemployed. Nuclear power stations must continue to be used and should be converted to the safe thorium energy system until the transition is complete.

The U.S. has to put itself on a war footing, recall its entire military forces and set them to work on the massive change over to renewable energy that the country needs to undertake, if it wishes to survive the fast approaching catastrophe. The enemy now is Mother Nature who has infinite power at her disposal and intends to take no prisoners in this very short, absolutely brutal, 30 to 40 year war she has begun. I cannot emphasise more, how serious humanity’s predicament is and what we should try to do to prevent our certain final destruction and extinction in the next 30 to 40 years if we continue down the present path we are following .

Monitoring the Effects of a Reduction in Atmospheric Pollution from the United States and Canada

In conjuction with the massive cut back in pollution emissions by the United States and Canada, the United States must set up a project through the Woods Hole and Rutgers universities to continuously monitor the Gulf Stream flow rate offshore the industrialized United States south of New Foundland at 55° the critical transport rate of 142 Sverdrups. As already shown, the critical transport in 2007 off the Gulf Stream of 142 Sverdrups precipitated the start of the continuous firing of the methane hydrate (clathrate) gun and runaway global warming. As the United States and Canada sharply reduce their airborne pollution from fossil fuel extraction and use, it will cut back the Gulf Stream transport rate to less than 142 Sverdrups south of New Foundland at 55° west longitude. Here the Gulf Stream transport rate should be reduced to below 130 Sverdrups or even 100 Sverdrups to make sure that the methane hydrate (clathrate) gun completely terminates firing in the subsea Arctic and humanity has some breathing space to give it time to completely revert to renewable energy. The Gulf Stream transport rate monitoring work of the Woods Hole and Rutgers universities will be of vital significance in humanities last ditch attempt at surviving the fast approaching extinction event.


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