Friday, January 27, 2017

Arctic Ocean Feedbacks

The world is warming rapidly, and the Arctic is warming much more rapidly than the rest of the world. In December 2016, the temperature anomaly from latitude 83°N to the North Pole was 8 times as high as the global anomaly. Above forecast for February 6, 2017, shows that temperatures over parts of the Arctic Ocean will be as much as 30°C or 54°F higher than they were in 1979-2000. How can it be so much warmer in a place where, at this time of year, little or no sunlight is shining? The Arctic Ocean is warming particularly rapidly due to a multitude of feedbacks, some of which are illustrated on the image below.

As the Arctic is warming more rapidly than the rest of the world, the temperature difference between the Arctic and the northern latitudes decreases, which makes the jet stream wavier. Jennifer Francis has written extensively about jet stream changes as a result of rapid warming in the Arctic. In the video below, Peter Sinclair interviews Jennifer Francis on these changes.

The changes to the jet stream make it easier for warm air from the south to enter the Arctic and for cold air to move out of the Arctic deep down into North America and Eurasia. At the same time, this also increases the temperature difference between the continents and the oceans, which is quite significant given the rapid warming of oceans across the globe. The result of the greater temperature difference between oceans and continents is that stronger winds are now flowing over the oceans along the jet stream tracks.

Stronger winds come with more evaporation and rain, which accumulates as freshwater at the surface of the North Atlantic and the North Pacific. The freshwater acts as a seal, as a lid on the ocean, making that less heat gets transferred from underneath the freshwater lid to the atmosphere. This makes that more heat can travel underneath the sea surface through the North Atlantic and reach the Arctic Ocean.

On January 28, 2017, sea surface temperature anomalies as high as 18.4°C (or 33.1°F) were showing up off the coast of Japan.

The situation is illustrated by above images, showing areas over the North Atlantic and the North Pacific (blue) where the sea surface was colder than it was in 1981-2011. Over these colder areas, winds are stronger due to the changes to the jet stream. On January 28, 2017, temperature anomalies were as high as 18.4°C (or 33.1°F) off the coast of Japan, while temperature anomalies were as high as 10.9°C (or 19.5°F) near Svalbard in the Arctic on January 27, 2017.

The image on the right shows sea surface temperature anomalies from 1971-2000.

The video below shows precipitation over the Arctic, run on January 27, 2017, and valid up to February 4, 2017.

Beaufort Gyre and Transpolar Drift
Changes to wind patterns can also affect sea currents in the Arctic Ocean such as the Beaufort Gyre and the Transpolar Drift. In the video below, at around 7:00, Paul Beckwith warns that further loss of sea ice will make these sea currents change direction, which in turn will draw more warm seawater from the North Atlantic into the Arctic Ocean.

As more ocean heat enters the Arctic Ocean and as sea ice retreats, more heat and water vapor will rise from the Arctic Ocean into the atmosphere over the Arctic. Increased water vapor will make it harder for heat to escape into space, i.e. more heat will remain trapped in the atmosphere and this will add to global warming.

The changes to the jet stream and the associated changes discussed above all lead to further warming of the Arctic Ocean, next to the warming caused by other feedbacks such as loss of albedo and loss of ice as a heat buffer. Together, sea ice loss and these associated feedbacks could cause global temperatures to rise by 1.6°C by 2026.

There are further feedbacks affecting the Arctic, as described at this page. One of the most dangerous feedbacks is methane escaping from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. As the temperature of the Arctic Ocean keeps rising, it seems inevitable that more and more methane will rise from its seafloor and enter the atmosphere, at first strongly warming up the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean itself - thus causing further methane eruptions - and eventually warming up the atmosphere across the globe.

Above image paints a dire warning. The image shows that methane levels were as high as 2562 ppb on January 28, 2017. The image further shows high methane levels off the coast of Siberia and also where water from Nares Strait enters Baffin Bay.

Feedbacks and further elements of a potential temperature rise by 2026 of more than 10°C above prehistoric levels are further described at the extinction page.

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


• Climate Plan

• Feedbacks

• Extinction

• 2016 well above 1.5°C

• Accelerating Warming of the Arctic Ocean

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Can the world be saved without geoengineering?

Can the world be saved without geoengineering? What is your view?

The Climate Plan includes the more effective and safe geoengineering methods as separate lines of action, next to emission cuts. There are discussions on this at the Climate Alert group. Feel encouraged to join in!

In the following videos, a number of geoengineering methods are discussed. The videos were recorded in Marrakesh, Morocco, at the time of the UN climate negotiations that were held from 7-18 November 2016. Stuart Scott interviews Peter Wadhams, Hugh Hunt, Matthias Honegger and Douglas MacMartin.

In the video below, Jennifer Hynes interviews Stuart Scott and his work, including on the
Nobel Peace Prize for Sustainable Development. From: January 2017.
Check out earlier contributions by Jennifer Hynes

In the video below, Paul Beckwith discusses some Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) ideas, adding that "climate rates of change are abruptly spiraling upwards. Although we must slash fossil fuel emissions, that alone will not restore climate stability. Like the proverbial roadrunner charging over a precipice and cratering, we have left things too late. We must also remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and/or oceans to have a fighting chance. I discuss several options to do this."

In the video below, Paul Beckwith is weighing Solar Radiation Management (SRM) options, adding that
"to have a fighting chance of arresting abrupt climate change we must deploy Solar Radiation Management Tech to cool our planet and buy us time to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and oceans and slash human emissions. We have no choice. These technologies are not risk-free, but risks must be weighed against the near-certainty of collapse of global food supplies and geopolitical chaos."


• Climate Alert group

• Geoengineering group

• Climate Plan

Thursday, January 19, 2017

2016 well above 1.5°C

In December 2016, it was 6.58°C (11.84°F) warmer from latitude 83°N to the North Pole. In December 2016, the world as a whole was on average 0.82°C (1.47°F) warmer than in 1951-1980.

Temperatures are rising fast, and especially so over the Arctic Ocean. In February 2016, the world was 1.34°C (2.41°F) warmer than 1951-1980, while part of the Kara Sea was 11.3°C (20.34°F) warmer than 1951-1980, as the image on the right illustrates.

The 1951-1980 period is the default baseline used by NASA. When comparing the current temperature to years such as 1900 or 1750, the difference will be even larger, as illustrated by the image below.

In 2016, the global temperature was well above the 1.5°C (2.7°F) guardrail set by the Paris Agreement. This is illustrated by the different baselines used in image below (the use of different baselines was discussed in an earlier post), given that the Paris Agreement uses preindustrial levels as baseline.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
To some extent, the rise above 1.5°C was due to El Niño, as the trendline indicates, but the trend also indicates that temperatures will cross the 1.5°C mark in 2017 even if 2017 will be El Niño/La Niña-neutral.

Worryingly, another El Niño is actually forecast for 2017, as discussed in an earlier post.

Even more worrying is that rise of this trendline could well be too conservative.

Ocean temperatures are rising rapidly, as illustrated by the image on the right, and the rapid warming of the oceans is causing a dramatic fall in sea ice extent, as illustrated by the image below and as discussed in an earlier post.

The lack of sea ice spells trouble. Not only is snow and ice decline causing more sunlight to be absorbed (rather than getting reflected back into space as before), there are further feedbacks associated with this. As the temperature difference between the Arctic and the Equator decreases, changes are taking place to wind patterns that cause further acceleration of warming in the Arctic, as discussed in an earlier post. This in turn threatens to trigger huge amounts of methane to erupt abruptly from the seafloor.

Methane levels over the Arctic Ocean are much higher than over the rest of the world, as illustrated by the image below, showing the situation in the afternoon of January 17, 2017, with peaks reaching levels as high as 2406 ppb. Particularly worrying are the solid magenta-colored areas over the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, indicating methane levels above 1950 ppb.

When also taking into account further elements that could cause warming, a potential warming of 10°C (18°F) could eventuate by the year 2026, i.e. within about nine years from now, as discussed at the extinction page and as illustrated by the image below, from the Temperature page.

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


• Climate Plan

• Extinction

• Temperature

• Accelerating Warming of the Arctic Ocean

• Global sea ice extent falling off chart

• How much warming have humans caused?

Monday, January 16, 2017

Global sea ice extent falling off chart

Global sea ice extent is falling off the chart, as illustrated by the image below.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
The National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC) is one of the world's best-know archives for satellite data on sea ice.

In its recent news release, NSIDC notes that the difference between the 1981-2010 average global sea ice extent and the 2016 extent was over 4 million km² in mid-November 2016 (image on the right).

The fall in sea ice extent constitutes a huge amount of energy that is no longer reflected back into space and is instead absorbed by the ocean, the atmosphere and by the process of melting itself.

In line with earlier calculations by Professor Peter Wadhams, a 4 million km² sea ice decrease could equate to a radiative forcing of as much as 1.3 W/m². All this extra energy does not directly translate into a rise in temperature of the atmosphere, since a lot of energy has over the past few decades been absorbed by the ocean and has also gone into the process of melting itself. However, it now looks like the temperature of the atmosphere is catching up fast, as illustrated by the image below.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
On the right is a forecast by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF).

It shows that we've barely been in a La Niña, which typically makes the atmosphere cooler than it would otherwise have been.

Already now, another El Niño is on the way that could soon make it up to 2.5°C warmer than it is was late last year.

Global sea ice volume is also at record low, as illustrated by the image below on the right.
Arctic sea ice thickness hit a record low in November 2016 when thickness fell below 0.7 m or 2.3 ft.

As the ice gets thinner, the risk of collapse grows, as increasingly stronger winds and storms and stronger wave action can more easily break up thin sea ice, making it more vulnerable to melting and to get carried out of the Arctic Ocean by stronger cyclonic winds and stronger exit currents.

Disappearance of Arctic sea ice increases the risk of huge methane releases from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. The outlook is terrifying. As I calculated last year, surface temperatures of the atmosphere could rise by some 10°C or 18°F within a decade, i.e. by 2026.

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


• Climate Plan

• Extinction

• How much warming have humans caused?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Canadian Arctic Archipelago Hit By M5.8 Earthquake

An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 on the Richter scale hit the Canadian Arctic Archipelago on January 8, 2017.

Above image was created with USGS (United States Geological Survey) content. The image shows the epicenter of the quake (gold star). The earthquake hit Barrow Strait on January 8, 2017 at 23:47:12 (UTC), at 74.320°N - 92.305°W and at a depth of 18.9 km.

Another earthquake hit Barrow Strait on January 9, 2017, this time with a magnitude of 5.2 on the Richter scale, within a day of the earlier M5.8 quake (both in orange on map below). These two earthquakes are among the largest quakes to hit the area in the past five years (map area shows all M1+ quakes since January 9, 2012).

These earthquakes are important, given their magnitude and given that they hit an area without large faultlines (though earthquakes are not uncommon here, also see this discussion). Importantly, these earthquakes occurred in an area prone to glacial isostatic adjustment, as illustrated by the image below.

From "", (unfiltered version). Credit: A, G., J. Wahr, and S. Zhong (2013) "Computations
of the viscoelastic response of a 3-D compressible Earth to surface loading: an application to Glacial Isostatic
Adjustment in Antarctica and Canada", Geophys. J. Int., 192, 557–572, doi: 10.1093/gji/ggs030

Glacial isostatic adjustment as a phenomenon typically takes place over relatively long periods. Yet, extreme weather events can trigger earthquakes in areas that are already on the edge.

The extreme weather situation is depicted by the combination image below.

Similar to the M4.6 earthquake that hit Baffin Island on February 12, 2015, this earthquake occurred at a time when surface temperature anomalies over parts of North America and Greenland were at the bottom end of the scale. At the same time, temperature anomalies over the Arctic Ocean are at the top end of the scale, as illustrated by the left panel in above image. The right panel in above image shows pressure differences reaching the top and bottom ends of the scale.

Earthquakes in the Arctic Ocean are dangerous as they can destabilize methane hydrates. Huge amounts of methane are present in sediments under the Arctic Ocean in the form of free gas and hydrates. Earthquakes can send out strong tremors through the sediment and shockwaves through the water, which can trigger further earthquakes, landslides and destabilization of methane hydrates. The situation is especially dangerous when combined with extreme weather events that can cause cracks and movement in sediments.

Above map, from an earlier post, shows the location of fault lines on the Northern Hemisphere.

The combination image below shows methane levels on January 9, 2017, am, at two different altitudes.

[ click on images to enlarge ]

As temperatures in the Arctic Ocean keep rising, the jet streams and polar vortex are changing their shapes. The North Polar Jet Stream becomes more wavy, and this makes that more extreme weather events can happen such as the events described above.

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


• Climate Plan

• Seafloor Methane

• High Methane Levels Follow Earthquake in Arctic Ocean

• Something had to give - Baffin Island hit by M4.6 earthquake

• Ring Of Ice

• High Methane Levels over Laptev Sea

• Methane Release caused by Earthquakes

• Sea of Okhotsk

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Most Important Videos Uploaded In December 2016

Peter Wadhams is interviewed by Stuart Scott, Executive Director of United Planet Faith & Science Initiative, in this video called Farewell to Arctic Ice, uploaded December 27, 2016, and recorded at UN climate negotiations in Marrakesh, Morocco.

Peter Wadhams is an 'expeditionary' scientist and Emeritus Professor of Ocean Physics from Cambridge. Peter Wadhams' observations of the Arctic ice for over 4 decades makes him one of the worlds authorities on the subject.

In the video, Peter Wadhams discusses some of the issues described in his current book A Farewell to Ice (right), which is available as hardback or ebook (256 pages, published September 1, 2016).

For more, view some of the recent posts at Arctic-news blog, such as:
Accelerated Warming of the Arctic Ocean
Monthly CO₂ not under 400 ppm in 2016
Seafloor Methane and
Sea ice is shrinking

Below is the sea ice volume image (created by Wipneus) that is discussed in the video.

Mark Jacobson gave a presentation called How the Future of Energy Impacts the Future of Our Cities, as part of the Digital Cities Summit, October 2016. The video was uploaded on 7 Dec 2016 by Stanford University School of Engineering.

Imagine a future where the entire U.S. energy infrastructure runs on clean, renewable energy. It’s possible to do it by 2050, says Stanford civil and environmental professor Mark Jacobson, and even without any new technologies. Mark Jacobson laid out the hidden upside of using solar, wind and water resources – rather than burning fossil fuels – to power everything from appliances and machinery to cars and building systems. “If you electrify everything, something magical happens. Without really changing your habits, you can reduce power demand by about 42%,” Mark Jacobson says.

Such a huge reduction in power demand comes mostly from the efficiency gains of electricity over combustion and eliminating the energy needed to mine, transport and refine fossil fuels. In addition to the pure energy savings, Mark Jacobson estimates that we could avoid 4 million to 7 million deaths from air pollution, eliminate $15 trillion to $25 trillion in global warming costs, create 17 million more jobs than would be lost if we don’t transition, and reduce the energy poverty of up to 4 billion people worldwide.

For more, click on the links at Roadmaps to convert 139 countries of the world to Wind, Water, and Sunlight (WWS) for all purposes.

Paul Beckwith produced a two-part video, called 'Abrupt Climate Disrupting Arctic Changes'. The first part is at Part 1 of 2 and the second video, featured below, is at Part 2 of 2. The videos were uploaded on December 30, 2016.

In the videos, Paul Beckwith describes that gut-wrenching disruptions are underway in the Arctic, including record-high temperatures, near-record summer ice loss and spring snow cover loss, and record low sea-ice winter growth.

This second video is particularly interesting at the segment from 8:30 to 12:00 minutes, where Paul Beckwith discusses how wind patterns are changing over the Arctic and how this will make the Beaufort Gyre and other ocean currents reverse when we get complete sea-ice loss.

For more on this, see also the post Accelerating Warming of the Arctic Ocean.

Peter Wadhams also featured in this video interview by Jennifer Hynes for ExtinctionRadio, uploaded December 29, 2016.

There is also a shorter version of this interview, without music.

The interview is part of episode 62 at, uploaded December 28, 2016. This episode also includes interviews by host Mike Ferrigan with Paul Beckwith and Tim Garett.

Guy McPherson gave a presentation at the Fayetteville Free Library in Syracuse, New York, on December 22, 2016. Part 1 is the presentation, featured below. Part 2 covers questions and answers, following the presentation. The videos were uploaded December 27, 2016.

Two images used in the presentation are added below.

On the right, the elements adding up to a potential global temperature rise by 2026 of over 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit), from the Extinction page. For more, also view the Temperature page at

Below, the timeline of Earth's temperature in history after a graph by Chris Scotese, from The Politics and Science of Our Demise.
For more, also view the Climate Change Summary and Update at

An earlier presentation was given by Guy McPherson in Wellington, New Zealand. The presentation was given at Victoria University in Wellington and was streamed live at 6:00 p.m. New Zealand time on 6 December 2016. The video was uploaded on December 7, 2016.