This is What Human-Caused Climate Change Looks Like: Arctic to Warm, West Coast to Bake, Polar Vortex to Collapse and Flood Eastern US With Arctic Air

Well, the forecast is in. And it appears we are about to receive yet another helping of winter weather extremes driven by human caused climate change.

ECMWF and NOAA models both show mid and upper level warmth increasing over the polar region. This warmth, over the next week, will invade toward the surface, collapsing the polar vortex and driving Arctic cold into both Siberia and North America. In the image below, you can see that mid level cold is cut in half by warmth flooding into the polar zone resulting in both the polar vortex collapse and ejection toward southern latitudes all while severely malforming the circumpolar Jet Stream.

ECMWF Jan 26

(ECMWF 850 hPa temperature and pressure gradient for the Northern Hemisphere. Image source ECMWF)

Note that mid level atmospheric temperatures are about the same over the Central Arctic as they are over Central Europe, a much lower latitude. Also note how the polar cold, typically centered over the Arctic is driven away and further south into two distinct zones — one over Siberia, the other over North America. Already, observations in the high Arctic show temperatures as much as 30 degrees F above average for this time of year and such anomalies are projected to expand as this second vortex collapse of the season progresses.

This new temperature flux will make the fixed Rossby wave ridge and trough pattern very intense, forming high velocity upper level wind flows over much of the US. To the north, the Jet will invade Alaska. To the south, it will dig deep into the Gulf of Mexico, bringing cold Arctic air into direct contact with moist, warm tropical air. The result may well be a spectacular and dangerous series of winter storms over the next two weeks for the Central and Eastern US.

So you may wish to stay abreast of local weather reports as this most recent collapse series could pack quite a punch while spawning a variety of very extreme weather conditions.

Jet Stream Flow January 22

(ECMWF upper level wind flow over the US for January 22. Note the deep low over southeastern Canada and the powerful associated Jet Stream flow riding along the U shaped trough in the current blocking pattern.)

The vortex disruption, collapse, and flushing of cold air out of the Arctic and further south is forecast to result in a strong cold snap for the Eastern and Central US. Negative anomalies are projected to reach as low as -47 degrees F below average in some locations near the Great Lakes. According to these forecasts the cold may be about as strong but last a bit longer than the previous cold snap spurred by the early January polar vortex collapse.

Meanwhile, strong positive temperature anomalies up to +26 F are expected to dominate the US southwest, a region already suffering some of its driest conditions in a century. Such record warmth is likely to further exacerbate what has come to be a freakish and anomalous period of winter wildfires in the most drought stricken zones along the US West Coast.

ECMWF Vortex Collapse and Cold Snap

(ECMWF temperature forecast for January 23, 2014. Note the vertical line of temperature anomalies almost perfectly bisecting the North American Continent.)

This kind of extreme weather pattern almost perfectly models predictions by prominent polar researchers like Dr. Jennifer Francis, who projected increasingly anomalous Jet Stream patterns, blocking patterns, meandering, and cut off flows due to the massive Arctic melt having occurred since 1979. The retreat of snow and ice, both on land and at sea, results in more warm air invasions into the high Arctic and can directly spur just the kind of weather disruption predicted in the forecast above.

In the trough zones, periodic and powerful cold snaps are far more likely as the polar vortex collapses and cold, Arctic air is flushed south. In these troughs, storms are more frequent and powerful, amped up by the extreme temperature differences and by higher atmospheric moisture content due to overall warming. In the ridge zones, anomalous warmth, drought, and fires are experienced as the over-riding warm, dry air floods up through these regions and into the Arctic.

This is exactly the kind of dynamic we would expect from a warming world. From a world experiencing a powerful amplification of warmth in the northern polar zone. Such a pattern will likely continue to intensify until it is disrupted by large melt outflows from Greenland and from Baffin Island.



Premiering Next Week: Revenge of the Polar Vortex

Cold Snap for the US? It’s the Collapsing Polar Vortex, Stupid

Sea Ice Loss Locks Jet Stream into Severe Winter Storm Pattern for Most of US

The Polar Vortex is Probably Coming Back

Arctic Ice Graphs

Mangled Jet Stream Sparks Drought, Winter Wildfires…

Leave a comment


  1. Would be very interesting to see both Northern and Southern hemisphere on the mapping…And Global maps. Do you have anything postable like that??

  2. mikkel

     /  January 18, 2014

    I’ve been disheartened to read the immense skepticism about Francis’ work from other prominent climatologists and how it has worked its way into the media.

    I’m not sure if it was her work or someone else’s, but back in about 2006 I first heard the hypothesis and believed it immediately due to heat transfer + paleontological evidence.

    The signs were beginning to be evident then and inconvertible now — the likelihood of the number of long term blocking patterns that have formed in the last few years is far beyond the range of random chance.

    • I’ve mostly ignored the controversy as Francis provides tools that are predictive of current patterns. The science will probably take ten to twenty years to settle out. By that time, Greenland melt may have come more into play adding another alteration to NH weather. What concerns me is that weather forecasters and the media are missing a good bit of the story and this leaves people out of touch in relation to what’s really happening. It ‘s not as bad as a couple of years ago when weather forecasters would hardly mention climate change at all. But it’s still a distorted picture.

      • Your optimism is striking, to presume there are 10-20 years for the scientists to figure it out. You’re looking into a time when the ice will have been seasonally absent for over a decade by then. The PIOMAS extrapolations suggest that after the first year the length of the year that the Arctic is seasonally ice free rapidly expands into several more months which will start to bring in much more albedo impact – as the albedo is not just changing over space but also across time. Indeed as the albedo shift expands into the summer months proper, I think you could expect to see a dramatic acceleration in the effects as that’s when far more extra energy will be going into the region than now. I believe the changes we have seen so far – as per Francis – are just little ripples compared to what we should expect before too much longer.

        While my analysis assumes on both the validity of the PIOMAS extrapolations and a hunch that soon we are going to see major agricultural problems, I’m not convinced we have many years left.

        Someone tell me in five years if I was wrong please!

        • PIOMAS trend setting puts us at near zero ice by end of some seasons around 2015 to 2018. Given all the factors involved, it is difficult to say that this will exactly bear out with a high degree of confidence.

          My opinion, at this time, is that we are looking at a 40% risk of this (pre 2018). By the mid 2020s, however, there is a much higher risk of seasonally absent ice.

          Seasonally absent ice does kick the amplifying feedbacks a gear higher, which is why I’m looking at ice sheet response (Greenland) causing major effects on weather in the 10 to 20 year + time interval (2024 to 2034+). Before then, the large jet stream meanders as the Arctic continues to warm outside of the global context will, likely, be a primary driver of weather extremes in the northern hemisphere.

          I don’t consider my assessment of these scenarios to be optimistic. They are a bit more pessimistic than much of the science. Perhaps it is more so than those who expect everything to suddenly go haywire all at once tomorrow.

      • Why do you expect Greenland to be especially significant in driving weather changes, out of curiosity? The albedo area and degree of change is far smaller (bearing in mind how thick that ice is compared to sea ice).

        As for the optimism of the science – I think most people look at too small a part of the picture (something you do aren’t especially guilty of). Climate change isn’t happening in isolation – population is still growing, demand for food is still rising above and beyond that, critical resources are still passing peaks, etc. I don’t think it will be climate change that destroys modern civilisation – but rather that it will largely destroy itself.

        Perhaps I’ll be wrong but at the very least it will be interesting to see how societies/nations try to respond to the increasing stressors affecting them and how rapidly violence ensues (with a nod to the research showing the link between food prices and conflict, which I assume you’re familiar with?)

        • Take climate change out and everything else is mostly manageable. There’s quite a bit more flex in the system than people realize. We don’t just feed 7 billion people. We feed nearly 100 billion livestock animals. It’s not necessary to provide that much meat to keep people going. We could feed the world on 1/3 the acreage of land that we currently use, for example.

          Climate change has the potential to wreck vast portions of the resource base. It’s not slowly running out of replaceable items. It’s taking away huge swaths that may never be made productive again. Overpopulation, resource depletion, climate change. Of these climate change is the worst.

          It’s not the albedo change that makes Greenland a factor. It’s the dumping if gigatons of frigid, fresh meltwater into the North Atlantic. This, along with the iceberg cooling effect of an almost inevitable Heinrich Event will make the jet stream/weather changes we are seeing due to polar amplification look like a child’s game by comparison. Hurricane Sandy will seem like a joke once this new extreme weather regime comes on line.

      • Not really the place for extended debate, so will try to make brief comments. I’m not sure personally how near to a Heinrich event we are – even with the Arctic seasonally ice free (would appreciate any scientific paper references etc to support the idea it being a likely outcome in the foreseeable future).

        I think you make a flawed assumption – which is that the diminished pool of resources will be shared equitably. I see no reasons to suppose the affluent will not continue to eat meat even as ever larger numbers riot and starve. We saw it already with corn based ethanol in biofuels. Whether or not there is much flex in practice (I agree there is plenty in theory) remains to be seen as it would require massive ideological shifts in those who hold the power. Certainly I wouldn’t presume upon the tender mercies of the affluent and powerful for myself.

        • I don’t think Robert assumes we won’t rip each other’s throats out over food and fuel supplies, so much as he notes that this isn’t a zero sum game, or at least it doesn’t have to be. At any point we can decide to work against zero sum game and towards mutual sustainability.

        • Exactly.

          As for major ice sheet destabilization leading up to a Heinrich event — we have two major glacial systems (Baffin Island and PIG) that, according to models, have reached the point of no return. Greenland is at – 250 gigatons per year ice loss. NASA models (Hansen etc) show Heinrich type conditions in the North Atlantic under BAU by 2035 to 2060. And we are at 400 ppm CO2 and counting.

          It’s not a question of if a Heinrich event will happen, it’s a question of when.

          My view is that seasonally ice free states sets off a Heinrich type event for the North Atlantic soon after. With no insulation, Greenland response is extraordinarily rapid. The effect on weather, per Hansen, is extraordinarily horrific.

        • A Heinrich event means the Atlantic convection current stops, so there isn’t all of that oceanic moving the heat around, and it gets very cold further north and everything dries up and blows away further south? Eventually? And meanwhile it’s getting warmer further north because of the melting. Weather musical chairs.

        • The currents never stop, they just change. And a Heinrich event is a massive outflow of icebergs and from established glaciers into the oceans. This does have profound effects on currents, changing their origination and strength.

        • Yeah, I wasn’t thinking well. As long as the planet is tilted in its orbit, there have to be temperature gradients, and tides if there is fluid matter of some sort. And a planet will always be at least a little tilted on its orbit.

          And a bunch of cold melt water will contract the water some, so it will pull it towards itself at the same time as it is adding to the water volume, and pushing the water out.

          It sounds like it will create waves of a kind. There will be pulling from cold contracting, and pushing from draining and upwelling into the places being contracted. But the cold water is at the surface when things are melting. So it drives lower warmer water away. Because warmer water wants to expand and go up.

          And then it runs into the draining cold water. And then…

          Well, all things considered, this all sounds better than a stagnant ocean. I had some vague sense that a Canfield ocean would be stagnant, but we’re not talking about that, are we? But that must be related?

        • The paleoclimate models show colder surface water expansion pushing warmer waters to the ocean bottom. Hot tropical air at the equator drives evaporation, salination and sinking of the water column there.

          The thermohaline cycle collapses and then seems to reverse in a far more lethargic mode. These changes would greatly contribute to ocean stratification and ultimate anoxia.

        • Also, I started Hansen’s terrifyingly titled book, but I found him difficult to read. It’s obvious that it’s an important book, so thanks for talking about it.

          I wound up selling my copy inexpensively so somebody else could read it. I get the general sense that storms are predicted to get much larger and chaotic. Caves are looking good 🙂

        • Boiled down:

          Large glacial melt outflows from Greenland and West Antarctica generate storms the likes of which we have not seen when combined with the influence of an otherwise rapidly warming globe. Hansen ETA under bau = mid century.

        • Thank you. I’d feel guilty about not getting around to reading the book if I hadn’t given up on feeling guilty about not doing things, as opposed to focussing on getting interested in doing things I’m more likely to get around to doing.

          Gardening is important for me. I have a little piece of terra I’m in charge of, and I’ve been tending to the inhabitants for all this time, and even naturalized some.

          I think of myself as an oasis in that way. It was so sad when the monarch butterflies crashed this year. They used to visit my Tithonia in droves. I even would find turtles and horned lizards and whiptails in my little yard, no more.

          Mostly the drought, I hope. But migratory species get it all over the place.

        • You are a good man, Miep. Your tale of your oasis brings a smile to my face.

          My wife works for the Humane Society of the US. She inspired me to take on a vegan diet for reasons of health and compassion. Since that time, I have learned it cuts my carbon emissions by 2-4 tons per year.

          One of the projects her organization is involved in is the relocation of animals in typical development zones. The tilling under and paving over of a typical field to ‘develop’ a shopping area or new mixed living community typically results in the deaths of hundreds to thousands of animals. So, when they are able, the humane society relocates them.

          The budget of the humane society is such that it can only provide this service in limited instances. There are tens of thousands of these projects every year…

          The human race is nothing more than an ongoing catastrophe to the living world around us. If we are to survive, to continue, to thrive, this ongoing state of harm must stop.

          So you can see why your oasis made me smile. Continue, my friend, to be the compassion we so desperately need.

        • Robert: thanks for your kind words. Your wife’s work is comparable to people who work in riparian habitat restoration, whom I also deeply admire.

          BTW I’m female. I don’t care whether people think I’m male or female if we are not discussing issues of gender, but you would probably prefer to get it correct.

        • Sorry Miep! My most sincere apologies! I suppose I have unwittingly assigned narrator bias 😉

          In any case, thanks for the kind words. I will pass them on. And I hope you do continue your own personal work in this regard and that the butterflies do come back.

          As for the other topic we were chatting over, I don’t believe I fully answered your question. Large glacial outflows and related ocean circulation changes combined with projected warming would shove the world ocean system toward a Canfield Ocean state. I don’t believe it’s possible for such conditions to fully emerge this century. That said, the terrible experiment we are undertaking is unprecedented and, I believe, requires a more active effort to understand its current and likely future impacts. If we are seeing Ocean Stratification proceeding an order of magnitude faster than at the Holocene boundary and if we expect 4 to 9 C warming under bau by the end of this century, then we had darn sure better get those H2S monitors up and running. And we should also be keeping a very close eye on ocean hypoxia/anoxia. This is at least as important an indicator as ocean acidification.

        • I’m not assuming what will happen. I’m postulating what can happen. Climate change greatly reduces options, even more so than the other two. In any case, the affluent will need to be brought in check if we are to have a snowball’s chance in hell.

  3. Tom

     /  January 18, 2014

    The models they use to forecast (especially long-term) weather are woefully inadequate. There are so many variables which are changing due to all the other factors arising and declining, while the impacts of each effect all the others. It’s the most complicated differential equation I could imagine.

    So the pattern we have described above could change abruptly next year so that the whole thing is shifted to the left or right and CA could be freezing, the middle states dry as a bone and the east swamped in too much precipitation (or any other combination). Anything seems possible now with the Arctic ice melt, meandering jet stream (becoming weaker), slowing (to non-existence) of the thermohaline system up the east coast, steadily acidifying (and radiation containing) oceans, less cloud cover, Antarctic dissolution (like Pine Island breaking off and drifting away), methane release, melting permafrost, and on and on.

    We’re in uncharted waters now and our boat has no rudder.

    • Over the past two years, these high amplitude waves in the Jet have been the norm. It’s their placement that has tended to dictate conditions over a given region. The current NH pattern has been play for 10 months. If the ridge shifts east expect another major drought year for all CONUS, like 2012. In the current position, expect periodic episodes of strong to severe storms especially as the atmospheric volatility of spring emerges.

      The 2 week Euro model run is pretty accurate. And even the very long range models get quite a bit right. I have focused on a few blind spots in the models – like rate of ice sheet and sea ice response as well as pace of methane release. These are climate sensitivity measures that the models have yet to nail down and that will play a huge role in determining future climate. But just because these factors aren’t yet finely described doesn’t mean all weather and climate models possess the same failings. To the contrary, they are very good short range indicators and they are increasingly accurate long term.

      I focus on the tough stuff. Why? Because at this time it’s pretty damn critical to get things right.

    • I’d like to caveat my above statement by saying that the models tend to do well with overall trends. So we could get a decent seasonal or monthly trend in the model runs. Prediction, however, is a whole other beast entirely. And specific prediction is probably still only half-way decent on a 48 hour time-scale.

  4. In 2005, I woke one night with a vivid intuition: that the Arctic ice cap would disappear and the jet stream, its hub of white ice inverted to black water, would go haywire. That was the seed of my novel, A Change in the Weather.

    The erosion of the temperature gradient between the pole and the lower latitudes is already distorting the jet stream, as Mr. scribbler points out. Seems like a common sense proposition: add more heat to a thermodynamic system, and somethings got to give.

    I’m dismayed at the rank dismissal of Dr. Francis’ s work by other experts. Dr. Kevin Trenbreth lately said that if she’s right, then there should be a close temporal correlation between the seasonal retreat of Arctic ice and distortions in the jet stream. My question to him is, why should the relationship be linear? Add more heat, get more chaos, including temporal chaos. Surely there must be some accounting for latency.

    My sense is that when we do cross the tipping point of inversion (white ice to black water), then all our linear extrapolations of climatic effects will be kicked into a cocked hat. The atmosphere’s circulation will experience something equivalent to the phase change that the Arctic will have just undergone. Who knows whether it’ll be colder, hotter, drier, wetter, windier, or where? It’ll be truly and more or less instantly chaotic. One thing I think is pretty certain: it will devastate agriculture across the northern hemisphere.

    This isn’t something that will happen generations from now. We will live to see it, unless we can somehow figure a way to save the ice cap. Which is damned unlikely, and may be too late in any case, because of all the latent heat already in the atmosphere. Thus, my book.

    • mikkel

       /  January 19, 2014

      Most scientists obsess about being precisely correct even at the cost of being generally wrong.

      This mentality makes them blind to studying chaotic systems.

      I’ve went to a conference where I heard from some of the most accomplished physicists in the world — a few who literally helped design the space shuttle — that after 25 years of trying to understand chaotic systems (specifically physiologic) they had finally come to accept that all of fundamental math and logic was inadequate to characterize them to the level that Science is comfortable with. They guessed if we spent the next 200-500 years massively rewriting our core assumptions from scratch then we may be able to have a shot.

      In the meantime, understanding basic qualitative rules of complex systems is enough to predict destabilization, and like you said, once that happens then predictability is out the window. Without predictability there is no agriculture.

      Everything else is just window dressing.

    • The devastation of northern hemisphere agriculture provides a likely marker for the collapse of modern civilisation, assuming no other factors accelerate it further again (certainly there are other major stressors at play, and human behaviour can be driven by anticipation of the future just as much as by current events).

    • The relative location of the blocking pattern does provide a means to predict general conditions for regions beneath troughs and ridges. If the sea melt was linear and there were no large glaciers to contribute cold, fresh water, the weather changes would be rather orderly and non chaotic (although not conducive for human agriculture or for conditions humans are used to). But destabilizing glacier systems provide chaotic inputs to the climate that, as you say , will tend to make the weather very chaotic.

      Trenberth has provided excellent research tracking down where the heat goes. RE jet stream dynamics, he is commenting a bit outside if his focus area. Not to say his statements shouldn’t be taken into account. But Francis et al have done a lot of good work in this area. Her work provides a good explanation for ongoing conditions, as is. So I think we would be unwise not to include reference to her research every time there are conditions that fit those she predicted. Also, I’m not afraid to jump into the realm of scientific controversy over the critical issues related to global warming. These are the real debates we should having. Not scientist vs idiot and Ill informed climate change denier.

  5. Tom

     /  January 19, 2014

    Robert, thanks for the explanation, your efforts covering the “tough questions” and especially for sharing it all here with us. I appreciate your blog and the posts you focus on.

    There are some large factors coming into play now with methane release, volcanic action and the acidifying (and radiation spreading) ocean (taking the global water system and calling it a name) that will have effects we’ve never encountered before. Then there are others like melting ice (all over the world) induced sea level rise, the attendant pressure releases (causing earthquakes), cloud (formation, content, and) cover, and the strange solar inactivity currently that no one thought of until they happened (ie, recently). All this and the many feedback loops, as far as I know, aren’t represented in the modeling and will have significant effects on climate and localized weather.

    As pointed out above, the net result is chaotic weather, unpredictable seasonality (in duration, variability of precipitation and temperatures, intensity) and anomalous events, which makes growing enough food for everyone problematic, and, as we’ve seen, many areas are having worse than ever conditions suddenly imposed upon them “out of the blue.”

    We’ll be studying and modifying our models while the planet rids itself of us (by our own hand) through these and other means (like disease, wafting clouds of methane and hydrogen sulfide bursting into flame as they encounter ignition sources or just choking off life, manifold species die-off including plankton and trees which provide most of the oxygen we breathe, etc.) over the coming decade or two. Once the electrical grid goes down for any significant time period, the collapse will pick up speed and the extermination of human life will follow exponentially (especially after we’ve seen what happened at Fukushima which won’t be “fixed” in our lifetimes, if ever).

  6. Tom

     /  January 19, 2014

    Extreme Weather Wreaking Havoc on Food as Farmers Suffer

    [great article with many links and a video; concludes with]

    The violent ups and downs of the weather in the last few years have vexed agricultural producers, said Ross Burnett, who farms cotton in the northeastern Australian state of Queensland. A drought there, in the country’s biggest sugar- and beef-producing region, follows flooding in 2010 and 2011 so bad it stopped the steady rise of sea levels around the world, according to the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research.

    “The variability is the most difficult part of it,” Burnett said. “It’s difficult given it can change overnight.”

  7. Tom

     /  January 19, 2014


    Summary of Hypothesis

    The seas, lakes and oceans are now pluming deadly hydrogen sulfide and suffocating methane. Hydrogen sulfide is a highly toxic water-soluble heavier-than-air gas and will accumulate in low-lying areas. Methane is slightly more buoyant than normal air and so will be all around, but will tend to contaminate our atmosphere from the top down. These gases are sickening and killing oxygen-using life all around the world, including human life, as our atmosphere is increasingly poisoned. Because both gases are highly flammable and because our entire civilization is built around fire and flammable fuels, this is leading to more fires and explosions. This is an extinction level event and will likely decimate both the biosphere and human population and it is debatable whether humankind can survive this event.


    A. More fires and more explosions, especially along the coasts, but everywhere generally.
    B. Many more animal die-offs, of all kinds, and especially oceanic species.
    C. More multiples of people will be found dead in their homes, as if they’d dropped dead.
    D. More corpses found in low-lying areas, all over the world.
    E. More unusual vehicular accidents.
    F. Improved unemployment numbers as people die off.

    [check out the post each day listing anecdotal evidence all over the world]

    • We’ve yet to see much in the way of major scientific evidence of a hydrogen sulfide spike. Unfortunately, the gas isn’t monitored. And I’m really thinking we need an ocean survey system for it.

      I have a major post explaining the gas in context coming up. There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding and there’s much that needs to be clarified.

    • Also … Hate to say it but Jack is completely nuts — attributing all fires to methane and hydrogen sulfide release.

      1. Methane release is only dense enough to start fires in very specific locales (tundra melt lakes etc).

      2. Hydrogen sulfide has not yet been observed coming from the ocean except in isolated instances — off the coast of Africa and off the coast of Oregon.

      So, in short, this guy is producing malinformation.

      • I live in a rural Little Texas (SE NM) mining town, and when I think “hydrogen sulfide release” I think “drop dead,” not “flammable.”

        When it’s getting strong enough to kill you, you can’t smell it anymore.

        A local geologist/speleologist friend told me once he thought it would be entertaining to write about a mining town at risk from an unexpectedly large H2S release.

        The caves here formed unusually, instead of from drip-down carbonic acid, there was all this fossil stuff in the Permian basin, so there were all these gasses welling up and changing the whole morphology of the caves, and ultimately everything else, including biology, as some of these caves are really far removed from surface access. Lechuguilla was perhaps only the start of something much bigger.

        Really fascinating stuff. All ultimately at risk from mining, of course.

        • That is crazy. The sources I’m getting for the H2S article show methane can contain as much as 90 percent H2S by volume. In the ocean, you can have biogenesis of H2S or methanogenesis via methane release. So these appear to be the main mechanisms.

          I’d love to see a horror based on the town you describe. You know they tried to use it as a chemical agent in WW I. Pretty nasty stuff.

        • I’ve lived here in Eddy County since 1998. I moved here to work with an arachnologist TAMU graduate to help run an arachnid magazine/journal. He used to tell me about how you drive fast when you smell H2S.

          Also, they mine inside city limits sometimes (about sixteen square miles).

          Maybe not so much lately, but awhile back 700 people were evacuated because a well blew. It did not catch on fire, fortunately.

          Also they frack like mad. Our groundwater is from the Capitan aquifer. I went to a presentation a number of years back by this oil and gas guy who happened to mention that they drill through the aquifer to get at the oil and gas.They make a cannula and a concrete plug at the top and at the bottom.

          All that and fracking too. And we have great water here, if these cursed miners would just leave. No such luck.

        • Damn. That sounds like a recipe for disaster. Sounds to me like your clean water is at serious risk.

      • While hydrogen sulphide can be produced through bacterial action underwater where methane is dissolved in the water the low solubility of methane and low temperatures in the deeper ocean make it a very slow process. I don’t think there is any credible near future threat from hydrogen sulphide and even if it was produced in such quantities it would only come out of the ocean in specific areas at specific times. If memory serves the gas also has a fairly short residence time in the atmosphere – not sure there is even a real case to monitor specifically for it?

        • There is more than enough sulphate available for a large hydrogen sulfide pulse. The limiter is ocean oxygen content. Monitoring will become more important as oceans proceed through stratification to anoxia. As this occurs more and more regions are likely to produce the gas.

  8. Tom

     /  January 20, 2014

    Monday, 20 January 2014
    Climate change in the Himalaya

    Climate change’s new menace: mountain tsunamis

    Last summer more than 6,000 died after glacial melt cascaded through valleys in northern India. Scientists expect such disasters to become more common.

    UTTARAKHAND, INDIA—The raging torrent hit in the morning, as Gopal Singh Bhist and his son, a cook and the leader of a pony train, prepared for work.

    In minutes, the Mandakini river had breached its banks, sending a crushing hammer of water, ice and rock through the Himalayan villages in this north Indian state of Uttarakhand.

    “There was no meaning in it. It didn’t give anyone a chance to survive,” said Bhist, a gaunt, weather-beaten man with a piercing stare. “Instantly, the water turned everything upside down.”

    Bhist and his son were in Rambada, eight kilometres downstream from the Hindu pilgrimage town of Kedarnath. Each day during summer, an estimated 5,000 people trek through the valley to the bustling mountain outpost to visit the majestic eighth-century temple dedicated to Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction.

    For the cooks, dishwashers, porters and other men who made their livelihood from the pilgrimage, a typical morning was suddenly transformed into a life or death struggle. The young and strong scrambled up the mountain. Older men, like Bhist, sought whatever cover they could find.

    “I found a tree and threw my arms around it. I thought, ‘If the tree is washed away I will go along with it.’ I hung on alone,” Bhist said.

    His son ran off with the younger men.

    Soon, unknown thousands were swept away or buried under swirling sand.

    The rain beat down as Bhist clung to the tree. A sudden hailstorm pelted him with ice, and then the rain beat down again, adding to the surging current surrounding his refuge.

    Finally, in mid-afternoon, the weather cleared. Slowly, a tiny group of survivors gathered, and waited.

    “The fields just disappeared into the river so the food-grain you are growing for the next year is not going to be there. The disaster that has happened today is also affecting tomorrow and a year from now.”

    The pilgrimage route, and the entire town of Rambada, had washed away. There was no way up and no way down. It was as if the world they had known all their lives had been erased.

    For four long days, Bhist and the rest of the older men huddled amid the ruins of Rambada, surviving on crackers and bags of bread dropped by an air force helicopter. The weather was too rough to land. Fearing the river was contaminated, they shared four bottles of water scavenged from a local shop, rationing their sips to make it last. Finally, the air force was able to evacuate them.

    There was no sign of the young men who had scrambled for higher ground. Neither Bhist’s son nor any of the others ever came back.

    “I waited four days hoping they would come back, but the people who went up the hill did not return,” Bhist said.

  9. Tom

     /  January 20, 2014

    Miep, Robert: The Jack blog post may include some questionable stories I agree, but there are too many anecdotes of many normal people (including children, marathoners, hikers, young, middle age, etc.) who drop dead near water sources (including wells, bath tubs, drainage ditches, ponds, swimming pools, lakes, streams, rivers and the oceans) while walking, swimming, canoeing, and driving by (many stories of submerged vehicles with at least one person inside, many of them incinerated). He’s linked to stories involving multiple cars in the same area bursting into flame while parked in the wee hours of the morning, no one around, many vacant homes exploding into flame multiple times – even after they’ve been put out, a few days or so later and it happens again, large groups of people sickening at the same location with no explanation from the authorities, all kinds of exploding homes and businesses, landfills and recycling places, vehicle (also airplanes and boats) accidents caused by people suddenly have a “medical issue” and going off the road or into the on-coming lane and fires where the witness(es) claim to have heard a popping noise and then the vehicle (including fire trucks) going up in flames (even new ones). Too many times the inspectors are at a loss trying to figure out what happened and call it arson or leaving it unexplained, though there’s no evidence of it, and they’re not even considering this approach (that the atmosphere is becoming saturated with explosive, deadly gases pluming from water sources of all kinds). He doesn’t make this stuff up, he links to the story (and only those that fit his hypothesis) and leaves it to you to think about it after reading his full hypothesis.

    The jury is still out on this all being misinformation, in my mind. It’s easy enough to contact the guy (Jonny Mnemonic) via his comments section. Ask him and let him have his say before completely dismissing this. I really think there’s something to be said for his approach, though not ALL the stories he links to may be caused by his hypothesis.

  10. Gerald Spezio

     /  January 20, 2014

    Many people die from vicious blows to their heads from toilet seats, too.

    Crazy people in rich countries hit poor people with toilet seats to keep the poor people from getting in the lifeboat with the rich people.

    All the rich people in the life boats want to get out & live like the poor people, or so they say; but they are driven to driving & flying by the WRONG IDEAS ABOUT TOILET SEATS & wanting their money to grow.

    “Many of our worst mistakes come from a faulty premise & proneness to delusion- not bad logic or poor reasoning.”

  11. Hi I am writing to you on behalf on the Scottish Climate & Energy Forum, we are conducting a survey of those interesting in the climate debate which should be of interest to all involved.

    The main focus is on the education and work experience of participants, but it will also assess employment and social factors for their relationship with views on climate.

    We would be very grateful if you would take the time to complete the survey. The responses are confidential.

    The url is:


    Mike Haseler

  12. james cole

     /  January 21, 2014

    Clearly we don’t need foolish trolling. But this seems to pass for intelligent comment among a certain group whose ability to process information and draw conclusions is simply drowned out by an ideology called ” dominionism”. The idea that man was put on earth with license to harvest the earth to any degree, without responsibility. Global Warming is fact, but this fact makes fools out of those who believe in dominionism. Thus they can’t react with reason or responsible debate. Their agenda is political and they insist on having their way. Well Gerald, you should be pleased, your politics is the politics of America, and we see you are killing off our world to please that political ideology. Dominion over the earth is religious in nature, and it is a hoax. Every action we take, has a counter reaction. Laws of Physics will not be denied. Now we see that global warming is not only real, but visible to anyone with their senses. This FACT takes the particular right wing zealots to the edge of reason and sanity. Unable to deny with facts, because they have none, they seek to bully honest people into silence. Gerald, you are a failure at that, and a terrible excuse for a spokesman for you politics. Science and physics are having their way, and you see it and you know it and it makes you very mad, does it not.
    By all accounts, global warming is 50 years ahead of models, the fear is that feed backs will kick into high gear much sooner than thought. This Jet Stream behavior is a sign that we are headed that direction. The next El Nino will wake up the last of the deniers, because the added heat of an El Nino event to the already over warmed Northern Hemisphere is going to cause epic weather events. As IF we have not already seen epic weather during the long La Nina cooling bias of recent years.
    Troll somewhere else, Gerald, you are simply making a foll of yourself here.

    • I find it somewhat amusing to give the trolls enough rope with which to hang themselves.

      We have environmentalist posers, misinformers, fake crisis mongers, distractors, the off the deep end doomers, and the just plain typical abusers.

      Gerald is happy to blame lawyers and environmentalists who fly about in airplanes while ignoring the billionaires who perpetuate the cycle of captive consumption. Every now and again he waxes poetic about the ‘virtues’ of genocide. If there is an ideology from whence this madness hails it is probably dominionist, as you so well attribute. But despite your appeals to reason, Gerald and those like him will continue to blame the victim and blow every kind of smoke to obscure the actual culprits.

      I’m tired of looking at his posts. So he’s banned. Unfortunately, he seems skilled at finding his way through the filters. When he does, he’ll be somewhat polite for a time before spewing more vitriolic nonsense.

  13. The problem with Gerald’s argument is that if you want to communicate with a large number of people in a culture, you have to involve yourself in popular means of communication and even transportation. Writing your climate change insights in charcoal on a rock face will not reach your target audience.

    It’s basically the “you can’t use the master’s tools to destroy the master’s house” argument, which is fundamentally flawed in that it leaves one hopelessly in a position of weakness.

    • After having read numerous posts by Gerald, I feel at this time there is sufficient enough reason to doubt his sincerity. I’ve seen far too much hatred and vitriol for disadvantaged or typically scape-goated groups. In any case, recent language has been entirely inappropriate for this forum.

    • And it’s not just ‘using the master’s tools.’ What Gerald appears to advocate is self hatred and self exile from society, among other less savory things.

  14. Four Feet of Rain Floods Philippines, Displaces More Than 200,000 People

    “Parts of the central and southern Philippines, particularly eastern Mindanao, have suffered through rounds of torrential rainfall during the month of January that have affected over 800,000 people, according to Philippine Government.

    “More than 200,000 people have been displaced from their homes by the flooding during the same period, while at least 42 have been killed by flooding or mudslides.

    “Some of the hardest hit areas, including Hinatuan and Surigao, have received more than 4 feet (1,220 mm) of rain since Jan. 1, with rainfall occurring each day so far this year.

    “For comparison, Hinatuan’s 52.68 inches (1,338 mm) of rainfall through Jan. 21 is more than the normal yearly precipitation in New York City, which is 49.94 inches (1,269 mm).

  15. Yet Another Large Jump in Ocean Warming
    The fourth-quarter result for 0-700 meter ocean heat content is in already, and it shows another large increase from a year earlier.

  16. The average combined global land and ocean surface temperature for December 2013 was the third highest for December since records began in 1880, at 0.64°C (1.15°F) above the 20th century average of 12.2°C (54.0°F).

  17. Global Highlights
    • The year 2013 ties with 2003 as the fourth warmest year globally since records began in 1880. The annual global combined land and ocean surface temperature was 0.62°C (1.12°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F). This marks the 37th consecutive year (since 1976) that the yearly global temperature was above average. Currently, the warmest year on record is 2010, which was 0.66°C (1.19°F) above average. Including 2013, 9 of the 10 warmest years in the 134-year period of record have occurred in the 21st century. Only one year during the 20th century—1998—was warmer than 2013.

  18. NASA Finds 2013 Sustained Long-Term Climate Warming Trend.

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 21, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — NASA scientists say 2013 tied with 2009 and 2006 for the seventh warmest year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures.

    With the exception of 1998, the 10 warmest years in the 134-year record all have occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the warmest years on record.

    NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, which analyzes global surface temperatures on an ongoing basis, released an updated report Tuesday on temperatures around the globe in 2013. The comparison shows how Earth continues to experience temperatures warmer than those measured several decades ago.

  19. From Neven’s Arctic Sea Ice blog – ( Note what the graphs do 16 years ago at the beginning of the much talked about “pause”).

    Off topic but possibly of use to some of you:
    NOAA just updated their Ocean Heat Content time series, which are now complete through 2013. I drew a couple of graphs showing the full series (quarterly and annual values) from 1955 to 2013. The annual values, in particular, give a different look than NOAA’s standard graphs, and tell quite a story.
    0-2000 meters:

    0-700 meters:

    Posted by: L. Hamilton | January 21, 2014 at 16:43.

  20. Check the spam filter for my 2 link comment

  21. One more from Dr. Masters –
    It was another notable year for all-time heat records in 2013, with six nations and three territories tying or setting records for hottest temperature on record. No nations set an all-time cold record in 2013. For comparison, five countries and two territories set all-time hottest temperature records in 2012, and the most all-time national heat records in a year was twenty nations and one territory in 2010. Since 2010, 45 nations or territories have set or tied all-time heat records, but only one nation has set an all-time cold temperature record.

  22. See this –
    Green Capitalism: The God That Failed

    I’m reading it, it makes me sick to my stomach.

    • I don’t think pure Capitalism is of much use to me any longer. A false god that failed and disappointed in all cases.

      Great article.

    • My opinion is we need government intervention at all levels. Carbon tax, incentives for renewables, disincentives for industrialized meat farming, new regulations, and a rapid move to shut down fracking, tar sands and coal along with a slower but still certain shut down of all fossil fuel infrastructure before 2050.

      The capitalists have worked diligently to erode faith in government. Perhaps it is because they know that we, in the form of their government, hold the Sword of Damocles. We had better use it before nature takes a whack at us with her own SoD. And hers hurts much, much more.

      • Put another way, humanity’s current “global footprint” is equal to 1.5 planets. Under a business-as-usual scenario, even with modest projections for population growth, consumption and climate change, the UN predicts that by 2030 humanity will need the capacity of two Earths to absorb CO2 waste and support natural resource consumption. Of course we don’t all consume equally: The footprint of high-income countries is three times that of middle-income countries and five times that of low-income countries. Americans have the biggest footprint of all, consuming the most energy and producing the most waste. If everyone lived like Americans do, we would need 5.3 planets to support all this. James Leape, director general of WWF, says, “The implications are clear. Rich nations must find ways to live much more lightly on the Earth – to sharply reduce their footprint, in particular their reliance on fossil fuels. The rapidly growing emerging economies must also find a new model for growth – one that allows for them to improve the well-being of their citizens in ways the Earth can actually sustain.”(43)

    • Bob — It’s worth noting that some individual human beings consume the resources equivalent to hundreds of thousands of subsistence farmers. These individuals skew the US and European totals we see above. Not to say that the average American doesn’t consume too much. But we are including people in that ‘average’ who own four or more 10,000 + square foot homes they never live in each equipped with heated swimming pools and climate conditioned year-round, people who fly around in their private jets and helicopters, people who own massive 150 foot + yatchs with costs and resource consumption equal to that of a naval vessel. In my opinion, there is no excuse for this level of affluence in the current day. The waste and damage is extreme.

  23. One World, One People, One Economy

    We can’t shop our way to sustainability because the problems we face cannot be solved by individual choices in the marketplace. In the final analysis, the only way to align production with society’s interests and the needs of the environment is to do so directly. The huge global problems we face require the visible hand of direct economic planning to reorganize the world economy to meet the needs of humans and the environment, to enforce limits on consumption and pollution, to fairly ration and distribute the goods and services we produce for the benefit of each and every person on the planet and to conserve resources so that future generations of humans and other life forms also can live their lives to the full. All this is inconceivable without the abolition of capitalist private property in the means of production and the institution of collective bottom-up democratic control over the economy and society. And it will be impossible to build functioning democracies unless we also abolish global economic inequality. This is the greatest moral imperative of our time, and it is essential to winning worldwide popular support for the profound changes we must make to prevent the collapse of civilization. A tall order to be sure. But we will need even taller waterproof boots if we don’t make this happen. If Paul Hawken, Lester Brown, Francis Cairncross and Paul Krugman have a better plan, where is it?

    • In not too many years what you suggest may well be the only viable option. It is pretty clear to me, through my own research, that current capitalism, as is, is a living nightmare of cruelty that is only getting worse as it atrophies and fails (see Growth Shock).

      85 people hold half the wealth in the world. And everything from environments to economies are in various stages of systemic collapse. These are pretty damning failures of the capitalist model which was supposed to spread wealth and prosperity. Instead, it concentrated wealth while spreading harm, inequality and injustice.

    • I’m glad someone finally said it.

    • So Bob, what do you think of the article? I’ve been a proponent of a solutions, rather than a profit based, economy for some time now. Capitalism, as is, creates captive consumers for vampire industries and I don’t see us getting out of this mess under such a system. The article does tend to misinform on the current state of renewables etc, but it is right in that an economy geared toward endless growth eventually hits the wall and collapses. Hence the inherent failure of capitalism — not to mention all the abuse and inequality that goes along with it.

  24. I’m a wine grape grower in Northern California and your analysis really hits home. It is Jan. 22 and should be the height of the rainy season and we have gone without a drop of rain for two months and seeing day time temps of up to 70 when normal might be in the high 50’s or low sixties. We are already studying techniques for shifting from a heavy irrigation regime to a water deficit regime. All of California has been declared in drought with high fire danger. I will send your articles to our grower friends. Thank you for your analysis.

    • Thank you, sir.

      I am very sorry to hear about your weather/climate related troubles. And I sincerely hope you pull through.

      Eventually, there will probably be some respite. But there is no way to tell how long the blocking pattern will last under this new regime. Further, if the pattern shifts east, it may still include California, as it did during 2011 and 2012.

      My opinion is that it will take an El Nino to bring significant rains back. But with the Pacific bleeding so much moisture as its heat content increases, my fear is that when it does rain, it will be too much, or much more than you’re typically used to. And if the rivers of moisture line up, there is risk of a megastorm under such conditions.

      Our best hope for your region might be for a weak El Nino or for the blocking pattern to disintegrate, rather than shift. Unfortunately, with polar amplification just starting to ramp up, these patterns will tend to be more the norm and not less so.

      Generally, the climate models show California continuing to dry as global warming advances. It’s not news I like. But there it is.

      Warmest regards to you, sir, and good fortune,


    • lanikk

       /  January 30, 2014

      It’s just interesting to me how much coverage there is on the Northern Hemisphere (though only reported regionally)…There must be some impact that relates to the Southern Hemisphere?..

      • If you look at the global heat map, most of the warming is concentrated in the North. This was predicted by climate scientists. The southern ocean is a huge heat sink. So warming in the south is delayed. We do have to worry about Australia and southern Africa, at the moment, though. And this doesn’t mean there aren’t impacts. They’re just more hidden.

        • lanikk

           /  January 30, 2014

          So Robert, would it be safe to assume that generally the Southern Hemisphere would be more habitable for longer?

        • I don’t know. Those ice sheets in Antarctica are huge and when they destabilize, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere nearby. Australia is going to get baked due to its proximity to the Pacific heat chimney. New Zealand might be a good bet. I’m still involved in the research RE the project you gave me. The issue is finding model compatibility and high confidence that a zone would be a true safe haven.

        • Miep

           /  January 30, 2014

          The northern hemisphere has almost all the nuclear power plants, for what that’s worth.

        • And so we come back to a mountainside in New Zealand…

        • Miep

           /  January 30, 2014

          My father moved to New Zealand with his second family circa 1975. He saw this all coming even back then.

          But it will do no good to have planned ahead if most of the planet is uninhabitable, because then you still get invaded.

          Awfully nice place meanwhile though. But yeah, up high, because of Antartica and how natural communities tend to move uphill as it warms.

        • lanikk

           /  January 30, 2014

          Thanks for looking into the possibilities. Waiting with bated breath.

    • lanikk

       /  January 30, 2014

      My daughter lives in the Capay Valley in Yolo County….Having day after day of 70 degree weather and not a drop of moisture for the organic farm they live and work on. Just read today about all the spots in Northern Cal that will totally run out of water if there is no rain in the next 60 to 120 days. Looks like desalinization plants will be back in use soon. Very drastic measures need to be taken. Looking at losses of grain crops. Wondering if things are starting to flower already and what that does to the bees?

      • Some hope. But don’t bank on it. The blocking pattern is showing signs of destabilizing. Will know better in a few weeks. It could just be a wiggle.

      • lanikk

         /  January 30, 2014

        Will be watching for your analysis on that.

      • … North California is getting a tiny amount of rain now. Probably not too much in the way of consolation. But, as I mentioned above, the Jet has jogged a bit south and this may open the door to some rain. As I said before, we’ll see.

  1. Polar Vortex to Collapse and Flood Eastern US With Arctic Air | ClimateState
  2. Another Week in the Ecological Crisis, January 19, 2014 – A Few Things Ill Considered

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