Arctic Heatwaves Rise to Threaten Sea Ice as Lake Baikal Wildfires Re-Ignite

According to model forecasts, Arctic heatwaves are forming that will, throughout this coming week, bring 50-70 degree (F) temperatures to the shores of the East Siberian and Laptev Seas, the estuaries of the Kara and on through Arctic Eastern Russia to Coastal Scandinavia. These heat pulses will push a series of wedges of above-freezing temperatures across the Arctic Ocean zones of the Chukchi, East Siberian, Laptev and Kara Seas to within a few hundred miles of the North Pole, creating conditions that set up the potential for a severe early-season weakening of sea ice.

They are the most recent in a long train of severe warming events arising out of a wide region of Northwest North America and Eastern Asia since at least late last fall. The heat waves have continued to ride up weaknesses in the Jet Stream and deliver warmth to the High Arctic, creating havoc for Arctic climes. During Winter, the heat pulses collapsed the Polar Vortex and sent Arctic temperature anomalies spiking to 5-6+ degrees Celsius or greater above the already hotter than normal 1979 to 2000 average even as they set off a series of heat-related weather emergencies for Alaska.

Triple Arctic Heatwaves

With the emergence of late spring, high temperature anomalies typically cool in the Arctic as polar amplification seasonally fades. However, the two Jet Stream weaknesses have continued to provide heat transport and push Arctic temperatures above normal and into ice-threatening ranges. Now, a third hot ridge, this one over Western Russia and Eastern Europe, has emerged and strengthened to provide yet one more Arctic heat delivery engine:

Dual Arctic Heat Waves

(Triple Arctic Heatwaves — one over the East Siberian Region of extreme northern Yakutia, one over Western Russia and Eastern Europe, and a final one that, in this May 24 forecast, is centered in Canada west of Hudson Bay and extending toward the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Note the long tongue of above freezing temperatures extending into the Arctic Ocean from the East Siberian and Laptev Seas. In the current picture, it is night over Alaska and Canada, day over Russia. Information Source: Global Forecast System Model. Image source: University of Maine.)

This combination of gathering heat waves has frequently pushed late-spring Arctic temperature anomalies into the range of 1 to 2 C above average with local areas forecast to see between 10-20 C or higher departures. It is extraordinary heat for late spring. A gathering event that appears to be setting up for a major blow to Arctic sea ice.

Smoke on the Waters of Lake Baikal

The formation of what is now a growing and broad-ranging Arctic heatwave was, this weekend, heralded by a return to extreme and anomalous wildfires in the region of Lake Baikal, Russia. Ever since April, immense fires have been springing up in this region requiring massive response from an Army of Russian firefighters. Over the past two weeks, the fires have been held at bay by a combination of Russian emergency response efforts and cloudier, rainier conditions.

But, over the past two days, extreme seasonal heat has returned to this vulnerable region, an area where winter warmth, early melt, and thawing tundra have provided ample and excessive heat and fuel sources for the ignition of extreme wildfires. By today, the fires near Lake Baikal in Yakutia were both massive and intense featuring numerous blazes with 20 mile or greater fire fronts as the entire burning region cast off a tail of dark and heavy smoke stretching more than 1,500 miles west and north toward the Pacific Ocean:

Lake Baikal Fires May 18

(Lake Baikal Fires May 18, 2014. Lake Biakal is in the lower center frame. Width of frame is about 2,000 miles. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

This early proliferation of fires, as hinted at above, is the continuation of a massive event that began very early this spring and is likely to continue to show intensification and emergence in the three Arctic heatwave zones.

Fires of this immense scope pose their own threat to ice in the form of delivery of very high volumes of black soot that darken sea ice and glacial ice sheets alike. This darkening is, yet one more, amplifying feedback to climate change in the Arctic and remains a suspected factor in the acceleration of Greenland ice sheet melt (See Dark Snow). With so many fires so early, the risk of a long, summer-period snow and ice darkening is well on the rise, potentially playing a role in what is now also a spiking risk of rapid melt pond formation.

Disposition of Melt Ponds

A recent study found that a proliferation of melt ponds during late spring and early summer has preceded record melt seasons in all instances between 2007 and now. With current heat pulses and Arctic wildfires setting in place conditions that may well result in the ignition of widespread very early season melt pond formation in mid-to-late May, risks for end season melt spikes are on the rise. Regions impacted by these heat pulses and related early season albedo loss are similar to areas showing widespread melt pond formation prior to the massive 2012 sea ice collapse event (there has been educated speculation over at the Arctic Ice Blog that the location of these melt ponds on the Russian side may have played a key role in 2012’s massive melt).

The Role of El Nino and Upping the Chances for a Near Zero Sea Ice Event

The rise of El Nino in the Eastern Pacific is also likely playing a part in these building heat waves. El Nino typically enhances high amplitude Jet Stream ridge formation over Alaska and Canada. Furthermore, in recent years, we’ve seen the tendency for ridge and heat dome formation over Eastern Europe and Western Russia during El Nino. So at least two of the three observed Arctic heat delivery zones are likely getting a kick from what appears to be a strong El Nino gathering in the Pacific.

If El Nino arises and continues to increase atmospheric heat transfer to the Arctic, to proliferate extreme wildfires, and to enhance early loss of albedo, this year will, indeed, be a very bad one for Arctic ice. Given observed and ongoing trends along these lines, we are increasing our risk for a near-zero sea ice event by end of this summer to 30%. Eyes turn to Greenland as well, since both loss of sea ice cooling and a proliferation of early season fires can result in compounding risks to the increasingly unstable glaciers of that thawing land.

Links:

NOAA’s Global Forecast System Model

The University of Maine

NASA’s LANCE-MODIS

September Ice Minimum Predicted by Melt Pond Formation

Dark Snow

The Arctic Ice Blog

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116 Comments

  1. Meanwhile, this just in at Phys.org: “Greenland will be far greater contributor to sea rise than expected”

    http://phys.org/news/2014-05-greenland-greater-contributor-sea.html

    Is it just me, or is there a pattern emerging here?

    Reply
    • Lots of straws breaking the back of scientific reticence these days.

      Reply
      • Meanwhile, the U.S. – arguably the greatest potential initiator of climate change mitigation – is moving politically backwards on this existential issue. Is the “fat lady” singing yet?

        Reply
        • We need to take this to the polls this fall. All professional climate change deniers (as James so aptly calls them) must go.

      • Mark from New England

         /  May 19, 2014

        Robert, I agree that all professional climate change deniers must go, but that’s dependent on a knowledgeable electorate, which the fossil fuel power brokers are doing their best to undermine. Between the effects of Citizens United and now the McCutcheon Supreme Court decisions, power brokers like the Koch Brothers can spend unlimited funds sowing doubt and confusion. It’s for this reason that I’m doubting that elections can bring about the needed change of policy in time. I think only massive civil disobedience offers any hope. It’ll be ‘interesting’ to see Pres. Obama’s final decision on the Keystone pipeline (though I’m not hopeful, if he was inclined to deny it, why wait until after the election?), and what 350.org and other groups do in response if it is given the green light.

        Reply
        • Am all for massive civil disobedience. I honestly think that what both the conservative supreme court has done, together with conservatives generally, is to set a stage for massive civil unrest. You can’t give so much more power to the already wealthy, to the most exploitative among us, and hope for smooth sailing.

  2. james cole

     /  May 18, 2014

    Death toll in the Balkan floods is up to 44 with more to come as people are still missing.

    I’ve long pondered what a zero or near zero ice event in the Arctic might mean for public perception of Global Warming. I am sure readers of this blog have noticed Main Stream Media has for some years now pushed Global Warming off of the agenda for news coverage. While they do cover some extreme weather, they miss a lot, and they seem to not make connections between rapid warming and extreme weather. I notice the professional denial community is still in action, and they manage to plant stories in favorable media outlets fairly regularly. I wonder how media would react if this year produces a near zero ice event in the Arctic sea? Can they ignore it?
    On the scientific side, would not a summer where ice comes close to zero really ramp up heat absorption by the waters, this being the positive feedback loop that brings us closer to a yearly event of ice free summer periods? The physics of this points to a rapid decline in summer ice, and a reduced winter recovery, making the following year even easier to break up and melt the thin ice that makes up a recovery. From this point on, water temperatures in the arctic seas should be on an upward trajectory, the summer sun is powerful, even that far north. My best guess is that the Main Stream Media will continue to downplay ,as much as they can get away with, the obvious rapid decline in sea ice up north and the other signs of rapid global warming. Media is owned by big corporations, many with large energy sectors of their corporations. Like I noticed in print media, the more oil and coal adds the publication carried, the less coverage of global warming in their pages.
    Like everyone else here, I am watching for the possible record El Nino event. If it comes, it is going to ruffle some feathers, even in the professional denial community, as I like to call them. After all, much of the denial is bought and paid for, so it is professional.

    Reply
    • Good points all, James.

      That Balkan flood situation continues to worsen. The cut off low remains in place and severe conditions have spread with Croatia also now a major disaster area. Working on an update that I’ll probably get out tomorrow sometime.

      It seems to me that, when it comes to climate change, MSM is in a mode where it covers only what it absolutely must. There are exceptions. But they generally get caught flat footed. If there is a total sea ice loss event soon, it will only break through to mainstream presses due to groundswell from unconventional media making it impossible to ignore. At that point, it will hit the front pages like Katrina or Sandy or Hiayan — with only primary references to climate change from some sources and the rest of media covering it in the narrow focus of natural disaster only or worse — in the context of so-called opportunity.

      Ice free conditions would be a major contributor to state change in the Arctic. It would put intense heat pressure due to albedo loss on tundra, sea bed methane, and glacial systems. It will also continue to amplify already volatile weather patterns. Radical response from the Greenland ice sheet becomes a much higher risk event. Should such occur the weather instability will be amazingly vicious, not to mention a coordinate acceleration of sea level rise. At some point the Greenland melt contributes major negative feedback to sea ice loss so you probably end up with a kind of see-saw battle between winter reformation and summer melt. Cold core probably centers over Greenland with terrible results for northern hemisphere weather. It’s a rather ugly transition period.

      Your media observations are, unfortunately, spot on. Corporate influence has polluted the well. Your term ‘professional denial’ is a truism for the age. In my opinion, we wouldn’t have climate change denial without monied support.

      Reply
    • Mark from New England

       /  May 19, 2014

      I may be risking bad karma for this, but I’m wishing for a near total loss of summer sea ice this summer. Perhaps, just perhaps, an event like that coupled with the effects of the super El Nino will finally wake humanity up and spur on real action to reduce GHG emissions and restore forests and other ecosystems.

      Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  May 19, 2014

        After reading Robert’s reply to James, I’d best be careful what I’m wishing for! After all, no section of the US or the world will be spared more extreme weather and human (and non-human) suffering once most of the arctic sea ice is gone and the see-saw battle between the melting and freezing that Robert describes begins. Still, I think humanity’s hope lies in an event that big enough to wake us up, but doesn’t do so much damage as to destroy our capacity to mitigate GHG emissions and adapt in a wise manner.

        Reply
        • We are going to get big events. So, yeah, be careful what you wish for.

          At this point, we just have the opportunity to prevent the worst of the worst.

      • I don’t wish for it. I find it outright terrifying.

        Reply
  3. Dave W

     /  May 18, 2014

    The Main Stream Media will be putting out lots of noise about the marvelous opportunities to exploit Arctic resources & OIL, naturally; not a word about the supposed long-term (but I think near-term) hazards to civilization as we know it.

    Reply
  4. I find the current corporate-dominated system to be insufferably stupid, short-sighted and self-centered. It would be laughable if we could sit back and watch the train wreck from a safe distance. Unfortunately, we’re the captive passengers.

    Reply
  5. First post here from Southern New Zealand @ 46°South – thanks for your page Robert, with the current media there’s almost zero coverage of climate change – here in NZ we’re getting the strangest weather – traditionally (up till about 3 years ago) the north of the country was always moderately dry (but never droughty), the east coast was dry, with occasional hard droughts, the west coast (of South Island) is a rainforest with up to 13m rainfall year (yes that is thirteen metres). But now – the West Coast has had drought; the east coast (where most grain is grown – and about half the planet’s small crops seed) combines are getting stuck in the wet field and crops are rotting on the stem, Northland (above Auckland) is continuously alternating between extreme drought (no rain for 6 months) and Balkan-style flooding – Here @ 46°South we had almost no winter (three frosts – normally 60 or so), continuous summer cloud and winter looks like repeating 2013, but there is almost total silence from what counts for media here, apart from almost buried items like this (http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/10039610/Methane-field-discovered-off-Gisborne-coast) which should be a cause for real concern.

    Reply
  6. Welcome, Nigel. Australian weather has been a complete mess of late. Noticing Jet stream mangling somewhat similar to Northern Hemisphere patterns but with unique features primarily due to ocean interaction. All austral weather/climate links are welcome as the south doesn’t get near the attention it deserves.

    That hydrate field is a problem. More later and thanks for the link.

    Reply
    • Yes, well thankfully we’re not getting the extremes that Oz is receiving (yet), some very long term droughts there, more like what’s happening in Oklahoma – some media ARE doing coverage like this infographic/ timeline from abcnews (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-26/100-years-of-drought/5282030) ’bout the best I’ve seen – I think Oz is where we’re going to see more realism (despite their politics)

      Reply
      • Phil

         /  May 19, 2014

        Robert and Nigel64, I think Sydney Morning Herald runs best stories on climate change. ABC seems to have become more reticient in running stories – still do occasionally but miss out alot of developments.

        Politically, the Federal Government has taken a bit of a drubbing in the opinion polls after their first budget. The budget was very severe on low income, youth, aged and sick but very mild on big business and high income earners. It has been percieved as unfair if not ‘UnAustralian’ and also they broke alot of promises after running and winning in part last time around on the issue of honesty in politics.

        They severely cut funding for renewable energy and science in the budget with particular aim at climate science research – they have very similar ideals to the Republican party in USA, I suspect.

        Reply
        • Sad to see this. Typical conservative viciousness and short-sightedness. I am very sorry to see Australia afflicted by this.

      • Phil S

         /  May 19, 2014

        I’d like to think we’d get more realism here but our new government is just getting started. They’re highly critical of our ABC (to the point of calling them unpatriotic!) and are pushing to slash their funding (as they’ve already done to the CSIRO and other science bodies).
        I suspect main stream medias supressing of climate change goes deeper than just the oil, gas and coal lobby. If we’re serious about tackling ghg emissions, the first thing we need to do is consume less (and stop making so many babies).
        This concept cuts to the heart of anyone involved in advertising and media, and scares the pants off followers of the almighty Everlasting Growth Economy.
        Wishing you all well.
        (Our weather is surprisingly benign for now here in sunny Queensland. Touch wood)

        Reply
        • Couldn’t agree more. My opinion is we probably keep hitting problems if we don’t bend the population curve down. But my view is that fossil fuel use needs to hit zero pretty fast.

      • I hope so, Nigel.

        Reply
  7. uknowispeaksense

     /  May 19, 2014

    Reblogged this on uknowispeaksense.

    Reply
  8. Brian Wind

     /  May 19, 2014

    Climate change will not be real until peoples lives are impacted negatively. Increasing storms, floods, extreme temps and extreme weather destroying homes and businesses and infrastructure, including agriculture, will get peoples attention. Deniers will say it is another El Nino, but rapidly warming oceans and the melting arctic will make this El Nino much different. We are losing a functioning jet stream, allowing huge storms to build and not move. And a rapidly melting arctic will inevitably result in massive methane releases. If you are reading or contributing to this blog, you know we are rapidly approaching human extinction.

    Reply
  9. California has a median count of 800 fires per calendar year. So far, there has been 1500 in 2014.

    Reply
  10. Increasing storm tides in New York Harbor, 1844–2013

    “Three of the nine highest recorded water levels in the New York Harbor region have occurred since 2010 (March 2010, August 2011, and October 2012), and eight of the largest twenty have occurred since 1990. To investigate whether this cluster of high waters is a random occurrence or indicative of intensified storm tides, we recover archival tide gauge data back to 1844 and evaluate the trajectory of the annual maximum storm tide. Approximately half of long-term variance is anticorrelated with decadal-scale variations in the North Atlantic Oscillation, while long-term trends explain the remainder. The 10 year storm tide has increased by 0.28 m. Combined with a 0.44 m increase in local sea level since 1856, the 10 year flood level has increased by approximately 0.72 ± 0.25 m, and magnified the annual probability of overtopping the typical Manhattan seawall from less than 1% to about 20–25%.”

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014GL059574/abstract

    Reply
  11. Phil

     /  May 19, 2014

    Another great post. Will be interesting to see how things go over the next week.

    Also more bad news coming out about Anarctica – ice loss doubles since a previous survey. BBC ran a piece on this from the latest survey from ESA’s Cryostat mission.

    Corresponds to a loss of 160 billion tonnes of ice a year to oceab or a 0.43mm increase in global sea levels per year.

    It seems the Earth’s response is speeding up on a number of fronts – already need a new IPCC report because the current one is more out of data than usual.

    Reply
    • I think we’ve ignored the impact of ocean warming for too long. Ice really can’t live long if it’s in contact with warming water. And much of it is.

      Reply
  12. Kevin Jones

     /  May 19, 2014

    Moscow, Russia. From Weather Underground: Current, 85F Today’s hi/lo 92F/58F
    Avg. for date: 62F/42F…. Record hi for date: 82F

    Reply
    • Mark from New England

       /  May 19, 2014

      Kevin,

      That’s very warm for Russia! Time for Putin to ride a horse with his shirt off again. Hope it cools down for them soon.

      Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  May 19, 2014

        The same high-amplitude jet stream pattern that contributed to the heavy rains over Bosnia and Serbia last week is now bringing record May heat to portions of Russia, Finland, and Estonia today. In St. Petersburg, Russia, the mercury climbed to 32.7°C (91°F) on Monday afternoon, beating the former May all-time record of 30.9°C set in 1958, according to weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera.

        http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2681#commenttop

        Reply
    • Huge heat dome over that region..

      Reply
  13. Colorado Bob

     /  May 19, 2014

    Global warming: it’s a point of no return in West Antarctica. What happens next?

    (Eric Rignot is a glaciologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He is the lead author of last week’s landmark scientific paper on West Antartica)

    Last Monday, we hosted a Nasa conference on the state of the West Antarctic ice sheet, which, it could be said, provoked something of a reaction. “This Is What a Holy Shit Moment for Global Warming Looks Like,” ran a headline in Mother Jones magazine.

    We announced that we had collected enough observations to conclude that the retreat of ice in the Amundsen sea sector of West Antarctica was unstoppable, with major consequences – it will mean that sea levels will rise one metre worldwide. What’s more, its disappearance will likely trigger the collapse of the rest of the West Antarctic ice sheet, which comes with a sea level rise of between three and five metres. Such an event will displace millions of people worldwide.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/17/climate-change-antarctica-glaciers-melting-global-warming-nasa

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  May 19, 2014

      Antarctica’s ice losses on the rise
      Three years of observations show that the Antarctic ice sheet is now losing 159 billion tonnes of ice each year – twice as much as when it was last surveyed.

      A team of scientists from the UK Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, led by researchers at the University of Leeds, have produced the first complete assessment of Antarctic ice sheet elevation change.
      They used measurements collected by the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 satellite mission, which carries an altimeter specially designed for this task.

      Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-05-antarctica-ice-losses.html#jCp

      Reply
    • Holy shit moment is about right. Good to see JPL getting involved. Spot on outfit there.

      Reply
  14. Gerald Spezio

     /  May 19, 2014

    Brian Wind, careful with your reasonable & rational predictions based on theinescapable mounting evidence or some pie-in-the-sky literary twits will be so offended & bummed out, they will demand your banishment.

    “And a rapidly melting arctic will inevitably result in massive methane releases. If you are reading or contributing to this blog, you know we are rapidly approaching human extinction.”

    How could any objective observer miss it.

    Reply
  15. Colorado Bob

     /  May 19, 2014

    Forest fires worsen global warming to thaw Greenland’s ice

    Forest fires and global warming caused an extreme melt of Greenland’s ice in 2012, according to a study on Monday that said such thaws may happen almost yearly by 2100, threatening the survival of the entire ice sheet.
    Clouds of soot from forest blazes in Siberia and North America dumped a dark layer onto Greenland in 2012 and made it absorb more of the sun’s heat, it said. Greenland’s ice, the second largest body of ice after Antarctica’s, is already thawing, raising world sea levels.

    Read more:Link

    Reply
  16. Colorado Bob

     /  May 19, 2014

    The Big Melt Accelerates
    For many, the research signaled that changes in the earth’s climate have already reached a tipping point, even if global warming halted immediately.

    “We as people see it as closing doors and limiting our future choices,” said Richard Alley, a professor of geosciences at Pennsylvania State University. “Most of us personally like to keep those choices open.”

    But these glaciers are just the latest signs that the thawing of earth’s icy regions is accelerating. While some glaciers are holding steady or even growing slightly, most are shrinking, and scientists believe they will continue to melt until greenhouse gas emissions are reined in.

    “It’s possibly the best evidence of real global impact of warming,” said Theodore A. Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/20/science/the-melting-isnt-glacial.html?_r=0

    Reply
  17. Colorado Bob

     /  May 19, 2014

    Record warmth
    Both Sydney and Melbourne extended their records of late-autumn warmth on Monday.
    Sydney’s top of 26.1 degrees made it 10 consecutive days above 22 degrees, beating the run of six such days this late in the year set in 1974, Mr Dutschke said.
    The updated forecasts suggest another week of 23-26 degree days ahead for Sydney, a run almost certain to beat the record for warmest week this late in May, Mr Dutschke said. The city’s record May average of 22.7 degrees set in 1958 is also within range.
    Melbourne’s 23.5 maximum on Monday made it nine days above 20 degrees, beating the run of seven such days in 1907 and 1957. That run may end on Tuesday or Wednesday, with 20 and 19 forecast for those two days, the bureau said.
    Adelaide beat its record hot day this late in autumn last Friday, while Hobart did the same a day earlier. Big blocking high-pressure systems are pushing cold fronts further south than usual.
    Conditions should also remain mild in the Alps for some days yet.

    http://www.theage.com.au/travel/travel-essentials/travel-news/anxiety-on-ski-fields-as-white-slopes-give-way-to-green-20140519-38jnd.html

    Reply
  18. Syd Bridges

     /  May 20, 2014

    Thank you for these excellent posts, Robert. I shared the last two on Facebook. As someone who was told that this would eventually happen back in 1961 by a prescient science teacher, I have watched the train heading towards the cliff edge for the last fifty years. My education as a science graduate made it all pretty obvious and I have spent countless hours telling people that this would happen. However, there is no satisfaction in being proved right, just the sad feeling that I did not do enough.

    More power to your elbow!

    Reply
  19. If you look at the melt extent on Greenland here ……

    http://nsidc.org/greenland-today/

    ….then look at the temperature anomaly on ClimateReanalyzer here…

    http://cci-reanalyzer.org/DailySummary/

    ….. you will see the impact of that ~10C departure from normal (Chose [Anomaly] for temperature).

    Now In ClimateReanalyzer

    Now to make it really have an impact, chose [Average] under temperature. This is the temp for today (not over years or other spans). You will see the temperature really is not all that high. It is hovering around the freezing point.

    The anomaly simply bumped the temperature for southern Greenland up to where it will be later this summer. I’m certain this pulse will last just a few days, but it does show fragility in that area.

    Note: If the anomaly is not there when you view, then you missed it (probably looked on May 20th or beyond). This is a May 19th/2014 thing.

    Reply
  20. “The same high-amplitude jet stream pattern that contributed to the heavy rains over Bosnia and Serbia last week is now bringing record May heat to portions of Russia, Finland, and Estonia today. In St. Petersburg, Russia, the mercury climbed to 32.7°C (91°F) on Monday afternoon, beating the former May all-time record of 30.9°C set in 1958,”

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2681

    Reply
  21. It seems that the US ,paper of record, The New York Times is trying to catch up again. Jolly good for them and their ‘record’.
    “The Big Melt Accelerates”… http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/20/science/the-melting-isnt-glacial.html?_r=0

    Reply
  22. Colorado Bob

     /  May 20, 2014

    Visualising the amount of ice melting in Antarctica

    Area of Ireland = 84,431 square kilometres = 84.431 billion square metres.

    Area of Ireland under one metre of water requires 84 billion cubic metres of water.

    About 160 billion tonnes of ice is melting from Antarctica each year.

    That is approximately 2 x 84 billion cubic metres.

    One cubic metre of ice = One tonne of ice.

    So 160 billion tonnes of ice would put an area equivalent to Ireland under 2 metres of water every year.
    http://www.rte.ie/blogs/news-blog/2014/05/19/visualising-the-amount-of-ice-melting-in-antarctica/

    Reply
    • And this is just the first wave — basal melting. Once that fresh water field at the surface hits melt temps in a few years, Antarctica starts to lose its insulation. I’m thinking these numbers are about to go exponential for a period.

      Reply
  23. Climate change, forest fires drove widespread surface melting of Greenland ice sheet

    http://phys.org/news/2014-05-climate-forest-drove-widespread-surface.html

    “Through an examination of shallow ice cores covering a wide area of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS), we show that the same mechanism drove two widespread melt events that occurred over 100 years apart, in 1889 and 2012. We found that black carbon from forest fires and rising temperatures combined to cause both of these events, and that continued climate change may result in nearly annual melting of the surface of the GIS by the year 2100. In addition, a positive feedback mechanism may be set in motion whereby melt water is retained as refrozen ice layers within the snow pack, causing lower albedo and leaving the ice sheet surface even more susceptible to future melting.”

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/05/14/1405397111

    Reply
  24. Reblogged this on dtlange2.

    Reply
  25. Colorado Bob

     /  May 20, 2014

    Your Breakfast is Under Assault From Climate Change

    Due largely to shifting weather patterns and extreme events like flood and drought, the prices of commodities like corn and rice are projected to double by 2030, according to a report out Tuesday from Oxfam. As a result, some classic breakfast cereals are likely to get more expensive over the next 15 years.

    Link

    Reply
  26. 0519 – Is it my imagination, or there a miasma of weird wind and weather patterns in the eastern Pacific and the Gulf of Alaska, with a lot of warm air heading to warm water, and warm to cold, and so on?
    http://cci-reanalyzer.org/DailySummary/index_ds.php#
    http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/surface/level/overlay=temp/orthographic=-146.71,29.77,621

    Reply
  27. Colorado Bob

     /  May 20, 2014

    To obtain the results, Morlighem developed a breakthrough method that for the first time offers a comprehensive view of Greenland’s entire periphery. It’s nearly impossible to accurately survey at ground level the subcontinent’s rugged, rocky subsurface, which descends as much as 3 miles beneath the thick ice cap.

    Since the 1970s, limited ice thickness data has been collected via radar pinging of the boundary between the ice and the bedrock. Along the coastline, though, rough surface ice and pockets of water cluttered the radar sounding, so large swaths of the bed remained invisible.

    Measurements of Greenland’s topography have tripled since 2009, thanks to NASA Operation IceBridge flights. But Morlighem quickly realized that while that data provided a fuller picture than had the earlier radar readings, there were still major gaps between the flight lines.

    To reveal the full subterranean landscape, he designed a novel “mass conservation algorithm” that combined the previous ice thickness measurements with information on the velocity and direction of its movement and estimates of snowfall and surface melt.

    The difference was spectacular. What appeared to be shallow glaciers at the very edges of Greenland are actually long, deep fingers stretching more than 100 kilometers (almost 65 miles) inland.

    “We anticipate that these results will have a profound and transforming impact on computer models of ice sheet evolution in Greenland in a warming climate,” the researchers conclude.

    “Operation IceBridge vastly improved our knowledge of bed topography beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet,” said co-author Eric Rignot of UC Irvine and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “This new study takes a quantum leap at filling the remaining, critical data gaps on the map.”

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-05/uoc–gwb051414.php

    Reply
  28. Colorado Bob

     /  May 20, 2014

    NEW ZEALAND and OCEANIA

    One of the biggest weather stories during April was the incredible flooding that struck the Solomon Islands during the first week of the month. A slow moving tropical cyclone swept over the island chain unleashing torrents of rainfall (as much as 1000 mm/40” in a four-day span at Gold Ridge Mine in Guadalcanal with half of this falling in just 24 hours). At least 23 flood-related fatalities occurred (with a further 25 listed as missing) and 15,000 of the island’s 600,000 residents lost their homes. It was perhaps the worst weather-related disaster to affect the Solomon’s in modern history.

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/weatherhistorian/comment.html?entrynum=274

    Reply
  29. Colorado Bob

     /  May 20, 2014

    For Sea Turtles, Warming Means Females Will Inherit the Earth: Study

    As the world continues warming, add this to the list of things we can be relatively sure of in the decades ahead: It won’t be raining men.

    For sea turtles, that is.

    According to a new study published Monday in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change, warmer climates will likely trigger an explosion in the number of female sea turtle hatchlings born annually, and an equally dramatic decline in the number of males born each year.

    That’s because temperature plays a critical role in determining the sex of turtle hatchlings during the incubation period. Warmer temperatures above a pivotal threshold – typically about 84°F – while they’re still inside their mothers mean hatchlings are more likely to be born female. Below that, they’re more likely to be more male.

    Link

    There many reptiles that sit on this type temperature bubble. . Alligators, can do the same thing while incubating in the nest.

    Reply
  30. Colorado Bob

     /  May 20, 2014

    Storm Blankets São Paulo

    Reply
  31. Colorado Bob

     /  May 20, 2014

    Bed topography of West Greenland

    Reply
  32. Mark from New England

     /  May 20, 2014

    CO2 now at 402.23 ppm!

    http://keelingcurve.ucsd.edu/

    How low is it likely to get this coming late-summer / early-fall? Will it fall below 400 ppm or stay above?

    Reply
  33. You said it’s going to take some kind of radical social change to turn the ship of our collective existence away from the icebergs of climate change disaster. I for one do not see that happening until after there is another financial collapse, followed swiftly by a natural and mineral resource availability collapse, and a social crisis. The unspoken elephant in the room is that we have carefully trained to be consumers competing with one another from an early age by both advertising and by schooling — especially here in the US of A.

    Reply
    • Mark from New England

       /  May 20, 2014

      Ed-M, yes, I’m afraid you’re correct. There’s a lot of brainwashing to get through before most citizens of the USA realize how vitally important the ecosystem services are that underpin EVERYTHING that makes life possible, including the economy. It makes me turn red to realize that US Senators, such as Marco Rubio, think that addressing climate change will hurt the economy. Is he (and many others) that much of an idiot to realize that NOT addressing it will eventually kill the economy, perhaps most humans, and unfortunately a majority of plant and animal species by the end of this century? As Oklahoma dries up and blows away – it blows me away to see that it’s a hotbed of climate change denialism. The Christian Right is praying to God to deliver them from the drought, and truly believes that efforts to ameliorate climate change is an infringement on ‘God’s turf’ and that is a sin to think otherwise. We need a lot more ‘Creation-care’ evangelicals to turn those people around.

      Reply
      • coopgeek

         /  May 22, 2014

        I reckon that creation care won’t hurt, in that it will turn more Christians into passive supporters of the changes we so badly need. But in that case they are at best neutral players, perhaps supporting positive/benign policy while continuing (along with most other Americans) to do severe damage in their individualist consumption patterns. Ultimately nothing that concentrates wealth is sustainable because growing economic pressure pushes people to keep making unsustainable decisions. Luckily, Christianity (and Islam, Judaism and Mormonism) has deep traditions of sharing, which incidentally allows for more people to get by with less stuff.

        The world really needs for those who purport to follow Jesus to take seriously his economic teachings as well as the radical, democratic and voluntary commonwealth found in the birth of the church. (See biblical book of Acts, chapters 1-6 or http://www.bookofacts.info – shameless plug alert!) Then, rather than screwing around trying to legislate morality we might all make some progress building new models that people might want to join. There are already some great models like Coop Italia, which is rooted in 19th-century Catholic organizing and now has a 20% market share of all groceries in Italy – including an organic fair-trade line called Solidal, which is often price competitive to the market leader. Obviously imported organic fair-trade shopping is baby steps in the face of the crisis we face, but if baby steps are all we are able to manage (which seems to be the case so far), then we’d better keep baby-stepping!

        Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  May 22, 2014

        Amen to your comments, Coopgeek!

        Reply
      • Kudos on the Creation Care, Mark from N.E. and Coopgeek! Of course, most Fundamentalist-Evangelical Christians I knew of (at least when I was one in the 1980s) loved modern-day interpretations of the Book of Revelation, so that they’ll convinced themselves that Jesus Is Coming Very Soon. Well one verse they should really take to heart is Rev. 11:18, which states that Jesus will destroy those who destroy the Earth. So they would do something to stop the destruction.

        Reply
      • coopgeek

         /  May 22, 2014

        While we’re on the Revelation it’s also worth pointing out who is bent out of shape when Babylon falls in chapter 18: the rulers, the merchants and the shipowners and captains. It’s almost like God isn’t so crazy about overseas trading empires and maybe those who support such things should expect some stern words from Jesus when he gets back.

        On a less grumpy note, Pope Francis has weighed in on the sin causing climate change. This won’t win over too many evangelicals, but sooner or later folks gotta start wondering if the Golden Rule might entail not destroying the planet. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/05/21/3440075/pope-francis-if-we-destroy-creation-creation-will-destroy-us/

        For everyone less interested in religious stuff, apologies for the tangents. But I think it’s important to go to the root of our society’s supposedly Judeo-Christian mythology of individual consumption and prosperity because God wants us to be comfortable. I raise these points to help clarify messaging so we can all call bullshit on those who would deploy Christianity to support a suicidal empire. All hands on deck, y’know?

        Reply
        • @coopgeek: “But I think it’s important to go to the root of our society’s supposedly Judeo-Christian mythology of individual consumption and prosperity because God wants us to be comfortable.”

          On the way there we should pay a visit to John Calvin. IIRC, he was the first who popularized the idea, for Protestant Christians.

        • Calvinism was rather self-serving and materialistic when it started. More so as the years progressed.

        • Well that explains a LOT about American Christianity — it was heavily Calvinist from the start, especially with the Puritans.

        • Premise is based on material wealth being a sign of God’s favor. Essentially, it’s the golden idol.

        • Exactly… only this time the golden idol doesn’t take the form of a calf!

      • Steve

         /  May 22, 2014

        Coop: I posted a comment that is waiting moderation because it has two links. It shows how important Jehovah’s Witnesses feel it is to treat our earth with the utmost care & concern. We don’t believe God is going to destroy the earth. Genesis 8:21 & 22 makes it very clear, that the earth will be here forever.
        The bible has many warnings about the love of money. We have the admonition at 1Timothy 6:8 of “So having food and clothing, we will be content with these things.” Matthew 6:25-34 gives direction that those who are following Jesus’ words should be striving to live by.

        Out of curiosity, who do you think Babylon represents in Revelation?

        Reply
    • Too true. Bad outcomes from current capitalism/consumerism. There’s a lot of inertia in the human system that will be difficult to change. Trying to hit centers of gravity at the moment.

      Reply
  34. Bassman

     /  May 20, 2014

    NOAA ties warmest April, 2014 and 2010 both at .77 anomaly.

    Reply
  35. Gerald Spezio

     /  May 20, 2014

    Mark from N.E; With the inevitable addition of this summer’s Arctic methane to CO2 totals, the combined total approaches 500 ppm equivalent.

    Reply
    • Mark from New England

       /  May 20, 2014

      Gerald,

      Yes. I think Robert here calculated the CO2e figure at 480-ish ppm. Close enough – especially now that it’s increasing (even more) exponentially! I think Dr. Trenberth is correct and we’re about to undergo a step-change in warming after this super El Nino plays out.

      Reply
  36. bassman

     /  May 20, 2014

    Another note about the NOAA surfaces temps so far. We would have to average about .67 per month from here on out to have the warmest surface record of .66 for 2014. Beating .65 for 2005 and 2010. Right now the year has averaged .64 for the first 4 months.

    Reply
  37. Colorado Bob

     /  May 21, 2014

    A new Stanford study finds that due to an average 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit of warming expected by 2040, yields of wheat and barley across Europe will drop more than 20 percent. ……………………”The results clearly showed that modest amounts of climate change can have a big impact on yields of several crops in Europe,” said Stanford doctoral student Frances Moore, who conducted the research with David Lobell, an associate professor of environmental Earth system science.

    Moore, a student in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, described the results as somewhat surprising because Europe is fairly cool. “So you might think it would benefit from moderate amounts of warming,” she said. “Our next step was to actually measure the potential of European farmers to adapt to these impacts.”

    http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/may/climate-europe-farming-052014.html

    Reply
  38. Colorado Bob

     /  May 21, 2014

    Pat Sajak: “global warming alarmists are unpatriotic racists”

    And the deniers have the brains and scientific understanding of game show hosts.

    Reply
  39. Colorado Bob

     /  May 21, 2014

    Link

    Quoting 45. cyclonebuster:
    Of course all the water in the middle would be gone due to rebounding…

    Maybe, but the removal of the ice load is much faster than the rebound. so the melt under the ice sheet will go on for much longer. Some of these canyons are 3 miles deep. Just like Antarctic

    All of this of of coarse, is in the geologic blink of an eye, and I got to think all that rebound is going the affect the Mid Atlantic Ridge, In Iceland where it is nearest the all the loss of ice mass. But the line could unzip from Iceland to Salvard. After all, this is the largest, and fastest uncontrolled geological experiment in the history of science.

    Reply
  40. Colorado Bob

     /  May 21, 2014

    Quoting 74. StormTrackerScott:

    I would remind you of what Dr. Rood , said in this post –

    As discussed in England et al. (2014), and in the blog I referenced above, these extraordinary winds have kept the eastern Pacific and, hence, the planet cool(ish). The amount of water piled up in the western Pacific is enormous and it is natural to imagine an event that might adjust to levels closer to long-term averages. Such a large shift in mass of the Pacific Ocean would be a large El Niño.

    Trenberth puts the sea level at 2 feet higher in the west pacific And as he said , this can’t go on forever. Sooner or later all that water will move back to the east.

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/RickyRood/comment.html?entrynum=297#commenttop

    Reply
  41. Colorado Bob

     /  May 21, 2014

    California Drought Threatens Food Supply of All Americans; Collapsing Aquifer Sinking the Land

    To combat drought conditions, farmers and cities use water wells to tap underground aquifers. But those aquifers are overused and the rapidly declining water levels are causing the once water rich cavities to collapse in a process known as subsidence.

    “About 11 inches a year … is among the fastest rates ever measured in the San Joaquin Valley,” Holt added.

    A recent report from USGS hydrologist Michelle Sneed paints a grim picture: A valley the size of Rhode Island is sinking.

    “It’s a very large subsidence bowl. We were also surprised the high rate of subsidence,” she said.

    It’s irreversible damage. One area near Mendota is nearly 30 feet lower than it was in 1926, increasing the risk for infrastructure damage and even severe flooding in the future.

    Link

    Reply
  42. Swirling Smoke From Alaskan Forest Fire Seen From Space

    http://www.livescience.com/45784-smoke-alaskan-fire-from-space.html

    Reply
    • Bernard

       /  May 22, 2014

      A similar blueish-grey cloud could be seen yesterday:

      http://1.usa.gov/1jx6Wzb

      If you zoom in you see a couple of small sources but nothing that looks big enough to leave that trail. It appears stretched by wind the day before and after (today).

      Reply
  43. The Balkans’ flooding is linked to climate change. And here’s how

    http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-05-20/balkans-flooding-linked-climate-change-and-heres-how

    Reply
    • Mark from New England

       /  May 22, 2014

      Ah, Kevin Trenberth informs again! Good find.

      Reply
  44. Mark from New England

     /  May 22, 2014

    “Alabama’s Climate Change Deniers Refuse to Save the State” in Bloomberg Business Week: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-05-22/alabamas-climate-change-deniers-refuse-to-save-the-state#r=rss

    Don’t read the comments if you want to retain any hope of the USA addressing climate change. Here’s an example:

    “What’s a real embarrassment is there are people not smart enough to realize AGW has been exaggerated way out of proportion. Since there has been absolutely no warming over the entire 21st century you would think they would start to catch on”. – ‘Rich Balance’

    So I guess we’re all wasting our time here learning about something that doesn’t exist.

    Reply
    • Apneaman

       /  May 22, 2014

      Since there is no upper limit on denial and the hour is very late, I think relocating away from denier states would be the best option for anyone who wishes to save themselves and their families. It is going to be hard enough surviving even in communities where the majority of people are on board. Abandon the stupid before they drag you down too.

      Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  May 22, 2014

        Apneaman,

        Yes, good advice. I’m glad I live in the more enlightened northern US. I don’t think I could live in the south for a variety of reasons: 1. it’s way too hot in summer; 2. it’s deep in the Bible belt; 3. too many global warming deniers, and 4. too many angry white men armed to the teeth!

        Reply
  45. pintada

     /  May 22, 2014

    Hey ColoradoBob!

    Nice to see you posting here. With Roberts great writing, and you posting interesting links, this might become a real substitute for Rood’s nasty mess.

    Thanks to both of you again.

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  May 22, 2014

      pintada –

      Many thanks , and yes RS is doing some amazing work here.

      Reply
  46. Mark from New England

     /  May 22, 2014

    Sign of the Times? More Towns Warned They Could Run Out of Drinking Water

    Over 30 Texas water systems warned of imminent water shortages

    http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/05/22-5

    Reply
  47. Colorado Bob

     /  May 22, 2014

    UPDATE MAY 21: Extreme Heat, Floods Strike Eastern Europe

    Heavy rainfall began falling in the Balkans on May 14th and continued through the 17th. Some local precipitation reports for this period included 245 mm (9.65”) at Tuzla in Bosnia, 219 mm (8.62”) at Loznica, Serbia and 190 mm (7.48”) in Belgrade, Serbia. Belgrade also experienced a 151 mm (5.94”) fall during a thunderstorm on May 4th, so their May monthly precipitation has already exceeded 370 mm (14.57”). For perspective, Belgrade’s normal May rainfall total is 74 mm (2.91”). The ensuing floods have now destroyed an astonishing 100,000 homes and businesses as well as at least 230 schools and hospitals according to latest press reports. Given the extent of the floods it is fortunate that only 43 flood-related fatalities have been reported so far. Some 2,000 landslides have also occurred in the region.

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/weatherhistorian/comment.html?entrynum=275

    Reply
  48. Colorado Bob

     /  May 22, 2014
    Reply
  49. Eastern Norway has just passed the mark for a 50-year flood, and on track for the 100-year mark. But these “names” don’t make any sense now as we had a 200-year flood in 1995 and a 100-year one in 1967 in the same regions.

    http://www.nrk.no/ho/na-er-det-50-arsflom-i-trysil-1.11739870

    You will have to google translate this one btw, its in Norwegian.

    Reply
  50. This is serious – It is time to awaken to the “principle and design” on which nature functions to sustain the heat of the environment. We are increasing the environmental heat exponentially and the earth system is being stressed to the critical point at which it begins to collapse – We can survive provided we awaken to truth and takes action to control the energy of the environment and go ahead develop new technologies that works in harmony with nature – http://www.thecanadiandaily.ca/2013/08/30/part-1-knowledge-that-can-save-humanity-from-climate-catastrophes/

    Reply

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