Terrible Thunderstorms of Fire Over Canada as Arctic Territory Continues Record Burn

They call them pyrocumulonimbus. In layman’s terms — fire thunderstorms.

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At the surface, a very large wildfire covering tens of square miles or more can produce quite a lot of heat. The smokey column cast off by the burning blaze rises, generating lift in the atmosphere even as it seeds the air with smoke — nuclei to which water droplets can adhere and from which clouds can form. The rising column contacts water vapor, pushing a vast head of it upward. As this heat-driven column hits the upper reaches of the troposphere, it cools, and the water vapor condenses to the readily available smoke aerosols.

This process produces what is called a pyrocumulus cloud or a fire cloud — a smoke and heat fed version of the normal and far less ominous puffy cumulus clouds we are so accustomed to seeing during summer afternoons. In the pyrocumulus, if the updraft is intense enough, if the fire beneath the cloud strong enough, it erupts into a pyrocumulonimbus — a fire thunderstorm rife with lightning and, if the firefighters are lucky, rain as well.

On August 5, 2014, NASA got an amazing shot of a pyrocumulonimbus cloud exploding over the massive and anomalous wildfires still raging in Arctic Canada. See that horrific boiling cloud stack above fire and smoke in the center-left of the image below? That’s a fire thunderstorm:

Pyrocumulonimbus

(Explosive pyrocumulonimbus cloud near Great Slave Lake on August 5 of 2014. Marked off red areas in the image indicate fire boundaries for individual fires. For reference, Buffalo Lake in the lower left corner is about 35 miles long from end to end. Image source: NASA.)

Dark Carbon Delivery Mechanism

NASA keeps a close watch on fire thunderstorms for a number of reasons. First, they are an indication of the heat updraft intensity rising off the fire beneath. And though they can result in beneficial rains, the storms are, many times, dried out by an over-abundance of smoke. As a result, a dry fire thunderstorm can add to fire hazard by casting off bolts of fire-setting lightning while begrudgingly holding back their moisture load.

Lastly, and perhaps most hauntingly, the fire thunderstorm is a delivery mechanism for black and brown carbon aerosols to the stratosphere, where they can do considerable damage. For if the updraft in the fire thunderstorm is powerful enough, water vapor droplets laden with heat intensifying dark carbon can break the troposphere boundary and enter the stratosphere. There, these dark aerosols trap heat and intensify global warming.

NASA studies have shown that dark aerosols in the stratosphere can have a global warming potential impact up to a million times that of a similar volume of CO2, so even a small amount lofted by fire thunderstorms could have a substantial effect. And the recent very, very intense fires in the Arctic region may well be providing an ominous and very widespread mechanism for just such a dangerous delivery.

Fire Thunderstorms Over Record Arctic Burn Zone

The region where this fire thunderstorm erupted on August 5 is experiencing what is likely the most intense Arctic burn Canada has ever seen. Since the start of this year, and as of August 6, about 2,850,000 hectares (11,000 square miles) have burned in the Arctic Northwest Territory (NWT) alone. This burn area so far for this one territory is almost twice that for the whole of Canada during an average year through early August. For the NWT, it represents an epic burning more than 15 times that of the 15 year average (which is usually 185,000 hectares by this time of year).

Expected Canadian Forest Fire Severity Increase

(Expected Canadian fire severity increase from 1980s through the end of the 21st Century. Findings based on climate model assessments. Image source: Skeptical Science.)

To say that such a major burn for an Arctic region normally resistant to wildfires is extraordinary may well be an understatement. The blazes this year cast off smoke that covered much of the North American Continent, crossed Greenland and has ridden weather systems around the globe. Many fires have burned non-stop for more than a month, burning the soil and thawed permafrost once the forest fuels are exhausted.

Climate models show an increased prevalence of Arctic wildfires as human warming continues to advance into the Arctic this Century. As of the mid 2000s and throughout this decade, we have seen very intense wildfires raging in Arctic Canada, Alaska, Scandinavia, and Siberia.

Siberian Wildfires August 6

(Massive wildfires still burning in Siberia on August 6, 2014. For reference, bottom edge of frame is about 300 miles. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

That these fires are an amplifier to human driven warming is probably a given. They dump extra CO2 and methane into the atmosphere, they burn both the more recent forest carbon store and the far older store in the soil, they break the permafrost cap, opening up new fuels for fires in subsequent years and providing avenues for methane and CO2 release, they dump dark carbon over low albedo surfaces such as ice sheets and sea ice, and they produce fire thunderstorms with the potential to inject dark carbon into the stratosphere.

While taking into account the entire Arctic system feedback to human caused climate change will likely be a monumental task, the mechanism of Arctic wildfires to tap and deliver the massive land-based Arctic carbon store to the atmosphere in various ways may be one of the critical elements in the overall feedback system. One that to any rational observer appears to be energetically emerging now. An expanding Arctic outburst of summer smoke and flame that is terrifying to watch.

Links:

NASA

LANCE-MODIS

NASA Captures Rare Pyrocumulus Image

Skeptical Science

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193 Comments

  1. Mark from New England

     /  August 7, 2014

    Just horrific. And the scale – 11,000 square miles!

    I want to see Wolf Blitzer or at the very least Anderson Cooper reporting from the fire lines near Great Slave Lake. Everyone needs to know about these boreal fires in Canada, northern Europe and Russia. Thanks for focusing on them in this blog.

    I can only think that if we’re seeing fires like this now, in 2014, what’s the fire season going to look like in 2030, 2040?

    Reply
    • Depends on a lot of things. What happens to Greenland’s ice will be critical. ESAS, human fossil fuel emissions. All critical to what happens.

      The models show a doubling of the Arctic burn. I think we might be close to that sooner rather than later.

      Reply
    • Right Mark, we should have these ‘News’ talking heads as boots-on-the-ground with a microphone in one hand, and a pulaski tool in the other. Ha.
      The way things are unfolding though, I tend to think 2015 will be rife with firestorms in the upper latitudes. And I suppose the term ‘perma-frost’ will have little meaning.
      So let’s put on our rose colored goggles and enjoy a king hell performance of my favorite version of Johnny Cash and a stellar crew doing “Ring of Fire”.
      Yes, I know… useless gallows humor, but I plead self defense.

      Reply
      • Perma-burn…

        Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  August 7, 2014

        Thanks DT, but now I’ll have that song stuck in my head😉

        Reply
      • Eric Thurston

         /  August 9, 2014

        When you said ‘gallows humor’ this thought occurred to me:
        Remember hearing stories of entire Wooly Mammoths found frozen in the Alaskan or Siberian tundra, frozen so well that the meat was still edible?

        Maybe what we will find now is an entire Wooly Mammoth cooked to perfection in the world’s biggest pit barbeque.

        Makes me wanna cry.

        Reply
    • Bernard

       /  August 8, 2014

      “I can only think that if we’re seeing fires like this now, in 2014, what’s the fire season going to look like in 2030, 2040?”

      Probably less. Extrapolation doesn’t work here.

      An ecosystem that undergoes transition (e.g. a region that gets hotter) does so in a series of bumps during the start of the change. The vegetation in a given spot is the product of that place’s environment: temperature, humidity, precipitation, not only in absolute values but also how these factors swing (daytime vs nighttime, water as morning dew or evening rain, …). Look up “Köppen Geiger classification” to get some feel for it.

      When a region changes its environmental characteristics the vegetation changes abruptly (in this case: fires) but doesn’t come back and is gradually replaced by a different type of vegetation. A forest in a stable environment that burns will sprout new seedlings, it’s a natural phenomenon and the new organisms are built to deal will that blow. But a forest that burns as the result of climate change will see a reduced survival rate of its local flora and shift to a new type of ecosystem.

      One of the things that is often overlooked is that most of these ecosystems rely heavily on local fauna to bounce back. It’s the birds that do most of the seed dispersal, the herbivores that do most of the pruning/thinning and the carnivores that keep them in check. So a region might look stable, but if due to -say- lack of insects or increased drought the birds have moved away you have a rejuvenation issue when things go bad. Take away the carnivores (e.g. wolves) and suddenly all the trees disappear because the grazers eat the seedlings. Remove a key pollinator (bees, insects) and the plant population undergoes a rise in median age.

      You already see these thing happening: In northern regions the vegetation borders are shifting (tree lines going higher or further). In temperate regions you see shifts in insect species, following the frost zones. Flowering of key plant species get out of sync with their pollinator (flowering when pollinators are still dormant, look up “season creep” and phenology). Potato fields with the odd corn-plant in the middle: those seeds should normally have died but now they’re surviving winter and creating a bridge for diseases, endangering crop rotation.

      Reply
      • james cole

         /  August 8, 2014

        Very good post, and where I live I can see this process in real time. First comes big mega fires, but now much forest is burned and fires get halted by the burn areas. A different open landscape is emerging slowly from drought and fire. A very insightful comment on all counts!

        Reply
      • Eric Thurston

         /  August 9, 2014

        Good post by Bernard:

        “One of the things that is often overlooked is that most of these ecosystems rely heavily on local fauna to bounce back. It’s the birds that do most of the seed dispersal, the herbivores that do most of the pruning/thinning and the carnivores that keep them in check. So a region might look stable, but if due to -say- lack of insects or increased drought the birds have moved away you have a rejuvenation issue when things go bad. Take away the carnivores (e.g. wolves) and suddenly all the trees disappear because the grazers eat the seedlings. Remove a key pollinator (bees, insects) and the plant population undergoes a rise in median age.”

        Another cycle that I read about recently gave me one of those forehead slapping moments of “Why didn’t I realize this before.” That is the relationship of salmon to the fertility of the Pacific NW. For thousands of years the salmon have been spawning up the creeks and rivers in the Pacific NW. The birds and bears and humans, etc. have been consuming these very nutritious fish and thereby keeping this ocean-generated food cycle going and fertilizing the land of the area with nutrients that come from the ocean. This positive ‘ocean to land’ cycle is probably near an end because of the over-fishing of the salmon, if it hasn’t happened already. Now the Pacific NW will be flushing more land-based fertility down the rivers than it gets back,

        Reply
  2. Animation of expected increase in forest fire severity in Canada out to 2100 produced by Natural Resources Canada.

    Reply
  3. Doug

     /  August 7, 2014

    Robert, Thanks v. much for your long and thoughtful replies in the last thread. You are obviously a good person. Just to add one more thought. If we are going to get a solution or solutions to the climate crisis, I do not believe it will be through the ballot box. That is because somebody convinced the majority of the U.S. voting population to go brain dead when it comes to voting. People that are brilliant in other areas of their lives seem not to understand that the only criteria they should use when voting, is to vote for the candidates that would fight for the policies they believe in. So, we are going to need other solutions than politics, and that isn’t going to be easy. As I wrote before I think the billionaires need to “confronted” so that they at least understand the truth regarding climate science. A real effort needs to be made to pierce the bubbles they live in.

    Reply
    • Doug

       /  August 7, 2014

      Robert, you said, what we need are leaders and people that take action. Well, I just talked about an idea with my wife that is intriguing to me. We talked about setting up a non-profit company with the aim of connecting the most influential members of society-billionaires, with climate science. I would have to think creatively about how to bring the science to them. As I said before, I believe many of them truly don’t know the realities of global warming for a host of reasons. Any constructive thoughts on this idea by you or any of the commenters would be welcomed.

      Reply
      • messtime

         /  August 7, 2014

        In my opinion, a long list of specific things need to be done . . . Such as getting a lot of vehicles off the road in many different countries. People need to make laws which serve to reduce traffic; such as raising the driving age or vehicle ownership to 25 years old or older – with the idea in mind that the age group under 25 years are generally healthy and can walk, ride a bus, ride a bicycle. Specific things need to be done to reduce pollution, which will “crimp” peoples lifestyle. The other option is to reduce population and probably quickly. Most people are unwilling to have their lifestyle “Crimped” & they are also unwilling to have less or no children. So what’s wrong with people taking the consequences of their actions? Let ’em eat smog!

        Reply
        • It would help if we incentivized people not to drive fossil fuel burning cars, to eat less meat and to have less children. I like the notion of carbon tax and transfer, and think it works well for most things carbon. In any case, educating women, equality for women, women in the workplace, and open access to all firms of birth control for women results in population shrinkage/restraint.

      • I’ll think about it. Not a bad idea, though.

        How about something like —

        Investors Club For Preserving Natural Wealth

        Go with messaging that focuses on the wealth destruction mechanism of climate change, the solutions opportunities, and the massive global carbon bubble/malinvestment. Show how states are interested in investing in non fossil infrastructure given the right incentives and how people in general support solutions and are solutions minded. Focus on successful natural wealth preservation partnerships, projects, lobbying and investment.

        Reply
    • climatehawk1

       /  August 8, 2014

      Voting may not be the answer, but be sure to vote, all, OK? Much of the denial is being flogged by politicians, and voting certainly impacts them and their positions.

      Reply
  4. Greg Smith

     /  August 7, 2014

    The Virginia, U.S. based blue moon fund ( a foundation spun off from the W. Alton Jones Foundation) focuses its entire funding (5-10 million per year) around climate change throughout mostly the U.S., Latin America and Asia. It’s grant-making focus includes solutions such as biochar and the valuation of natural resources, such as forests, in such a way that they are fully protected as are the indigenous peoples who depend on them. A great deal of energy/discussion on messaging climate change has been spent by the organization (I know because I worked there). In my opinion, they are on the forefront of trying to connect and reach those who are wealthy and in the know. They are always looking for startups with good scalable models for effecting change to fund.

    Reply
  5. Doug

     /  August 8, 2014

    Thanks for everyones ideas. I’ll contact the Blue Moon Fund and ask how they’ve gone about approaching the very wealthy. I have specifically in mind a way to alert the billionaires that are not in the know regarding climate science. I would think if they really knew what was going on, we would hopefully see real action on their part. For example, I would bet that a majority of billionaires are not aware that mankind is likely responsible for all of the warming since 1950.

    Reply
    • I’d go with something that fits the billionaire mindset, then bring the scientists in to meetings/conferences etc, to speak with them directly and to present. Mix it up with folks from the insurance industry to show the risk. It wouldn’t hurt to get an emerging threats voice or two involved as well😉 the idea would be to meet them on their ground (wealth destruction/malinvestment) and then bring the climate experts to them to provide analysis and advice. You would probably need to get a few folks capable of bridging the gap between science/what’s happening and monetary impact. But if you can link the science to asset risk, then I think you can draw them in.

      Reply
      • Doug

         /  August 8, 2014

        These are good ideas Robert. As you say, just getting an audience with them to explain the science would be challenging. Billionaires are not exactly known for being accessible. I had the same thought you did. To arrange meetings with climate scientists. Some of the other basic realities that I bet the majority of them haven’t exposed to is the lag time between emissions and climatic effects, projections of sea level rise, the paleoclimate record, and the 98% consensus, e.t.c. I saw a stat recently that there is a significant number of the 1% that identify as Democrats, but among the extremely wealthy nearly all are Republicans. I just can’t see these Republicans really knowing the basic facts of climate change. That’s why I think it’s such fertile ground. I’ll consider all of these ideas and will try and make something happen. Maybe even bring in an emerging threats expert. Wink.

        Reply
      • Greg Smith

         /  August 8, 2014

        I’d start with the low-hanging fruit and reach out for the widows of the ones who worked their whole lives to become billionaires and then had heart attacks. I worked with one of them when I was with a foundation. She was easier to reach then you might think and was very receptive to environmental stuff if it was tied to children’s well-being. Was weird to be chaperoning her out on the Louisiana Bayou (showing her sea level rise and loss of wetlands), however, and realize the helicopter buzzing nearby was there just in case I didn’t get her back home in time!

        Reply
      • Andy Heninger

         /  August 8, 2014

        Asset risk is, I think, a key point, and one that cuts both ways.

        Addressing carbon emissions requires leaving most of the proved fossil fuel reserves in the ground. The value of these reserves is somewhere in the trillions, and the market capitalization of the big energy companies in large part reflects their reserves. These companies, and their shareholders, are going to see a lot of paper wealth evaporate when we finally manage to seriously limit carbon emissions, which is what, I believe, really drives the fight today.

        The only thing I see as able to counterbalance this much money in a fight is a similarly large amount of money at risk on the other side. It will come, in the form of crashing property values in low lying coastal areas, as owners, banks and insurance companies begin to realize that things are likely to be going bad in a time frame that they need to be concerned about.

        How this all plays out is going to fascinating to watch, in a dark sort of way. Real estate interests will be looking for anyone they can to blame and sue over their losses, and the energy companies will be at ground zero, and guilty as hell.

        Managing the economy through this level of asset collapse will be a real trick. Possible, I think, but libertarian austerity economics isn’t going to do it.

        Reply
  6. Doug

     /  August 8, 2014

    I use to know quite well the woman who started Open Secrets. I am not surprised she ended up being successful. She was a dedicated activist when we ran the Amnesty International group in college. I would say donating to the Democratic Party is not the same thing as being a Democrat. These Billionaires like to buy off both sides you know. I have seen a list before that did show that the .1 of the 1% were mostly Republicans, but I couldn’t tell you where I saw it. It seemed authoratative though, and that’s why I quoted it. I was thinking about contacting Tom Steyer as well Robert. Maybe that’s the way in. Thanks again for all your insights.

    Reply
  7. In the top image, you can see a river delta at the left hand side, roughly 1/2 way down. The river delta is the Hay River. Where that river dumps into Great Slave Lake is the town of Hay River. That is where I lived. It is not a big place. The population was around 4,000 back in 81, it’s around 4,000 today.

    Hard to believe the population didn’t pop with the tourism inducing charm, such as mosquitoes, industrial waste strewn about (just dump it), collapsing structures which have been abandoned, a continuous oil slick floating on the river, packs of wild dogs & wolves chasing kids & adults, bar fights at 11 am, lots of great stuff when you are a young guy (except not many dates).

    All reminiscing aside…. we had a fire in ~1981 in the same region. It was gargantuan, quite epic and intense. I will never admit to sitting with a bunch of folks on the roof of the rented trailer drinking beer watching the flames leap above the fuel tanks while we had Led Zep, The Who, Doors etc… cranked on the stereo. I would never do that!

    Ok, a little reminiscing there. Anyway, the fuel load on the ground is abundant. Back then though, it was a surface burn of trees, plants. It didn’t dig into the ground as it is now. Then, as the surface burn happened the moisture in ground inhibited a deep burn. Thus it behaved more as a flash fire. The intensity of the fire was high at that time as well, but it stay above ground. It appears that drying / warming over the past few decades has made that once moisture laden substructure vulnerable to fire.

    Besides the obvious fire related issues it will affect hunting (local populous) and drainage as the topology will change. Very unfortunate.

    One last Hay River memory….Ice bridges. Back then we could drive on the river & lake on ice roads into the 2nd / 3rd week of May. Those days are gone.

    Reply
    • Doug

       /  August 8, 2014

      Hey Andy if you were drinking beer in ’81 you must be at least 50 huh? Didn’t you say you’re going to move soon to Washington St. from San Diego to avoid worse climate outcomes? My advice, unless you are doing it for your children, stay in the best weather city in the U.S.! You’re already old! Enjoy it. Full disclosure, I’m your age.

      Reply
      • Andy (at work)

         /  August 8, 2014

        I figure I’ll buy something in BC, perhaps along Sunshine Coast (not interior as it’ll get a volatile climate. Use the temperate influence of the ocean). That’s mostly as you said for the kids & grand kids. They’ll need it more than me. Yup, I’m staying here as long as sensible, no complaints about San Diego at this time (unless no rain this winter).

        That will be years off till it’s all needed by the kids.

        Reply
  8. Re: Steyer. Washington State & oyster die off from human forced ocean acidification has Governor and Steyer working, The NYT piece also shows some opposition. A good article.
    OLYMPIA, Wash. — Billions of baby oysters in the Pacific inlets here are dying and Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington is busy spreading the bad news.
    ‘“It used to be the canary in the coal mine,” Mr. Inslee said in a recent interview. “Now it’s the oyster in the half shell. You can’t overstate what this means to Washington.”
    Or to Mr. Inslee’s ambitions. The Democratic governor, aided by what is expected to be millions of dollars from his billionaire friend Tom Steyer, is using the story of Washington’s oysters — scientists say a rise in carbon levels has spiked the acidity of the Pacific and is killing off shellfish — to make the case for passing the most far-reaching climate change policies in the nation.’

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/04/us/as-oysters-die-climate-policy-goes-on-stump.html?_r=1

    Reply
    • climatehawk1

       /  August 8, 2014

      That ambitious bastard. Imagine, using science as the basis for a political campaign.

      Reply
      • climatehawk1

         /  August 8, 2014

        And just to clarify that last, so annoying to see the Times demonstrating its reporting skepticism by being snarky about what Inslee and Steyer are doing.

        Reply
  9. Reblogged this on jpratt27.

    Reply
  10. Dave Werth

     /  August 8, 2014

    Robert, off topic but you may be interested in a paper in Nature (Nature Climate Change, 2014. DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2330) that makes a connection between the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, a see-saw in temperatures between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and the El Nino dominated 2000’s that has slowed surface warming. There’s an article about it on Ars Technica:

    http://arstechnica.com/science/2014/08/strong-la-ninas-recently-blame-the-atlantic-and-a-volcano/

    Reply
  11. Using Big Data to Understand Earth’s Future – Prof. Camilo Mora

    Unprecedented rates of current climate change will force species to either adapt, move, or become extinct, in turn affecting everything from food supply to jobs. Camilo Mora, University of Hawaii, discussed recent global-scale research to project where and how soon we might see these changes

    Reply
  12. Educational: —
    The natural gas USA weather & climate economy: Natural gas gains as heat wave sets sights on eastern U.S.
    ‘Investing.com – Natural gas futures traded near session highs on Friday after updated weather-forecasting models predicted a heat wave to trekk across the eastern U.S. in the coming days, which should hike demand for air conditioning.
    On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas futures for delivery in September traded at $3.957 per million British thermal units during U.S. trading, up 2.08%. The commodity hit a session low of $3.874, and a high of $3.960.’

    http://www.nasdaq.com/article/natural-gas-gains-as-heat-wave-sets-sights-on-eastern-us-cm378387?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nasdaq%2Fcategories+%28Articles+by+Category%29

    Reply
  13. Apneaman

     /  August 9, 2014

    Futures traders; there is yet another group that needs to go. The guillotine is far too quick for them;)

    Reply
  14. Colorado Bob

     /  August 9, 2014

    Deadly floods return to Serbia and Bosnia

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-28683199

    Reply
    • The first set of floods put them in recession. This set will push the economy even harder so … I think it is a good bet that this region is the next to become unstable, especially given the poor governance in general.

      Reply
  15. Colorado Bob

     /  August 9, 2014

    How big are #nwtfire’s? The smoke reaches 10-15km high into the stratosphere and is now being reported in Portugal.
    6:31 AM – 7 Aug 2014
    http://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/articles/hundreds-of-forest-fires-spark-health-risk-across-the-northwest-territories-/33528/

    Reply
  16. Colorado Bob

     /  August 9, 2014

    Peat and forest fires blazing around Russia after hot spell
    According to data from Russia’s Federal Forestry Agency (Federalnoe Agenstvo Lesnogo Khozyaistva Rossii) forest fires covered an area of 850,000 hectares in Russia on August 5. According to Greenpeace estimates, the area that is ablaze is twice as large as official figures – Co-ordinator of the Greenpeace Forest Program Alexei Yaroshenko gave a figure of at least 2,000,000 hectares in an interview with RBTH.
    Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines – http://rbth.com/science_and_tech/2014/08/07/peat_and_forest_fires_blazing_around_russia_after_hot_spell_38829.html)

    Reply
    • wili

       /  August 9, 2014

      For the hectare-illiterate among us, 2 million of ’em is over 7700 square miles (let’s call it ‘nearly 10,000 sq m for simplicity). That’s a square with 100 mile sides within which everything is on fire. Boggles the mind.

      Reply
  17. What level of national media coverage have you seen in the USA about these wildfires occurring across the globe? There is very little coverage in the UK and when there is, it is usually an article on but one set of fires with no mention of the other ones.

    Reply
    • Griffin

       /  August 9, 2014

      Here in the US, a fire could burn an area the size of Germany and receive very little attention until it destroy’s a structure or, better yet for the media, kills someone. Once the situation involves human suffering, the media jumps right on it. That’s where the money is.

      Reply
  18. Mark from New England

     /  August 10, 2014

    On air travel and rising emissions:

    By Alex Kirby, Climate News Network:

    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/increase-in-flights-will-outweigh-carbon-cuts-17875

    Reply
    • Griffin

       /  August 10, 2014

      I guess we can hope that with such enormous amounts of fuel consumed by the airlines, that they continue with lower carbon alternative fuel research. It is a long shot I know, but it would sure help their image if they reduced emissions. One very promising piece of technology that will make a very large impact on reducing fuel burn is on the way.
      http://aviationweek.com/commercial-aviation/electric-taxi-puts-show-paris

      Reply
      • climatehawk1

         /  August 10, 2014

        Good idea. If only there were such a thing as Skype.

        Reply
      • climatehawk1

         /  August 10, 2014

        And another snarky comment by me, sorry–I just think more radical steps are going to be needed. Btw, equivalent of Skype has a major role in Kim Stanley Robinson’s excellent post-ecological-collapse novel Pacific Edge, as a means of building international person-to-person relationships.

        Reply
        • He tells us we are going to experience Near Term Extinction because of CO2 emissions, and he is going to fly to New Zealand to tell everyone all about it.
          http://guymcpherson.com/coming-events/
          Could have used a video conference, but October – November is such a nice time of year there.
          Sorry, was that snarky? Perhaps I shouldn’t judge, I know a scientist who has to travel a lot, so he organizes tree planting groups to pay back his CO2 travel debt.

  19. BillMoyers.com reached out via email to Dr. Gavin Schmidt, a renowned climatologist and the director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies for his opinion on the plumes observed by the SWERUS crew. He said it’s not yet time for panic.

    “The problem with a lot of this research is that we don’t have a long baseline of observations. Therefore when scientists report a new observation, it’s impossible to tell whether it has always been there or whether it is genuinely new,” he wrote. “That goes for these observations in particular.”

    He explained that during two periods in the “relatively recent” past — first in the Early Holocene, six to eight thousand years ago, and then in the Eemian, 125,000 years ago — the Arctic was warmer than it is now due to “wobbles in the Earth’s orbit.” Ice core records show that during those warmer periods, the Earth did not release large amounts of methane.

    Because the Arctic is not as warm now as it was then, Schmidt wrote, we are not yet at the point where we should expect the Arctic’s frozen methane deposits to melt.

    But should today’s human-caused global warming cause the Arctic to warm beyond the high temperatures of the Early Holocene and Eemian periods, the tundra, oceans and ice caps might release methane in amounts never seen before. And that could be quite bad.

    As global warming continues, Schmidt wrote, “we will arrive at a point that is completely unprecedented within the last few million years, and at that point, I would be far less sanguine. We are, however, not yet there.”

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/08/09/do-these-methane-bubbles-signal-the-start-of-rapid-climate-change/

    Reply
    • Mark from New England

       /  August 10, 2014

      “But should today’s human-caused global warming cause the Arctic to warm beyond the high temperatures of the Early Holocene and Eemian periods, the tundra, oceans and ice caps might release methane in amounts never seen before. And that could be quite bad.”

      I think we’re going beyond the bounds of Holocene experience!

      Reply
    • mikkel

       /  August 11, 2014

      I feel like Schmidt is just sticking to script because he has decided if methane was being released then things would be hopeless.

      I say this because multiple observations and models have demonstrated that the rate of warming is one of the most important factors and kicks in before we have reached a higher temperature at a slower state. This makes complete sense when looking at fluid dynamics, fire risk, etc.

      To continue to spout the “it didn’t happen in the past” is bordering on willful ignorance.

      Reply
    • Personally I respect him.
      Peer review is the basis of scientific investigation. If you no longer respect scientists ability to have differing views on the facts then you stifle debate, and progress. If someone has a dissenting view then they should be applauded as it “may” be an opportunity to learn.
      “May” or may not, who can say until all the opinions are evaluated.
      Most scientists know that the tipping point has been reached, some scientists now say that it will lead to extinction. Are they suddenly right and every other scientist on the face of the planet is ignorant if they don’t agree?

      He has raised some interesting moderating points, while still being pro-action on climate change. While currently alarmist is more appropriate than denial, his voice would be influential so it needs to be moderate. For example, what government policy could be made if an extinction event is assumed? Would you tell everyone? Could you imagine what would happen if the government came out and said “oh, BTW we are all about to die, but pay your taxes anyway”?
      What if they were wrong and extinction didn’t happen? Wadhams puts the warming effect of the Arctic at .6C is that an extinction event?
      There are huge questions still outstanding;
      It is thermodynamically impossible for methane hydrates to form in the shallow part of the ESAS, so the new methane emitting from there is probably organic coming from the Azolla Event stored in sub-sea permafrost. If the region previously heated during the Early Holocene and then again in the Eemian, would that imply that some of that organic methane would have previously emitted and has dissipated into the atmosphere? If so, how much is left?
      It doesn’t seem possible that the source of the methane is aboitic, because of the depth profile of methane hydrates it seems to me that it would crystallize a long time before getting to the surface. Unless the release was the cause of an earthquake and that is not what is being seen.

      I am still firmly in the camp, that on the whole, humanity is going to cop a body blow. It needs moderate voices to figure out whether that hit will be a knock-out. When the government voices go completely silent then you can be sure we are out for the count.
      My 2 cents worth.

      Reply
      • mikkel

         /  August 11, 2014

        But he avoids the argument with feeble reasoning. The evidence for impending extinction is at least as likely as his argumentation and similarly supported by the record, namely that both can be cherry picked from the record based on a ballpark amount of warming.

        Personally I think that Robert (which is to say also say James Hansen’s) *is* the moderate voice. Climate sensitivity of 6C means we are really on the ropes but not out.

        That said, it is definitely fine to argue for 3C but it should take place in a realistic framing. By that I mean, it must pay attention to dynamics, not just steady state thinking. This is because dynamics are what generates risk.

        It is not OK that the IPCC still only relegates rapid catastrophic climate change to a small section in which it notes its possibility but has poor modelling. It is not OK to argue that we can’t be alarmed because we don’t have enough data to tell when it’s rapidly going off baseline, considering that by definition that means we wouldn’t be able to react before it was too late.

        This type of reasoning is the same that leads to economic collapses amid calls for “increased confidence” being what is needed. They both confuse post hoc explanation of measurement for the process themselves.

        I’m not convinced methane is necessarily a large part of the problem, but the only way to tell is to propose mechanistic explanations and view the evidence. The Arctic Sea and Greenland ice dynamics are clear cautionary tales.

        Anyway, I’m just alarmed at the response to this topic, as well as Francis’ Jet steam theory and Box’s Greenland concerns. Not because those theories are dramatic and thus I agree, but because they actually propose physical models that demonstrate reorganization as the system responds to climate change. The counterarguments are basically “but we haven’t seen enough data to prove it,” which as I said, is fatal.

        The best dynamic counter argument I’ve read to near term extreme warming is actually proposed by Robert when he speaks of increased ice melt leading to freshening. Arguments like that — or proposing boundary conditions based on physical properties — are a great contribution while being on the “opposite’ side.

        Reply
        • Mikkel: I completely agree with your statements regarding dynamic systems.
          Personally, as you know, my views are that we are in serious trouble. I see it as the environment is stretched like a rubber band. Regardless the rubber band is going to get released. All we can do is to stop it getting stretched further.
          I just believe that any scientific opinions from an educated source should be weighed. As they may give us more perspective on just how far we going to get flung.

          Schimdt was the first writer that demonstrated to me that the theory of methane hydrates in the shallow sea bed of the ESAS was not possible. For that I remain appreciative, however I do not take everything he says as the final word.

          For example his view that “But should today’s human-caused global warming cause the Arctic to warm beyond the high temperatures of the Early Holocene and Eemian periods, the tundra, oceans and ice caps might release methane in amounts never seen before. And that could be quite bad.”
          Well it is quite obvious to me that we have optimized our society around cheap energy from an environment that has been stable for the last say 10,000 years. We don’t have any room for changes at all without causing massive disruption to our way of life.

          But negative changes are occurring now so we have move to a new system
          And changes will continue for a time even when we have a new system
          But it will take energy for us to migrate to a different energy structure.
          And those modifications are beyond our financial abilities.
          But those modifications must be done now.
          And few want the modifications

          So his use of the word “should” was inappropriate.
          However, his statements regarding the Holocene and the Eemian periods were informative in that there must have been a release of methane then as well. So exactly how much is buried? Wadhams estimates a forcing effect of 0.6C. Is that accurate? Carana is saying a 50Gt methane bomb assuming, dubious in my opinion, massive methane hydrates in the ESAS. Given the severity of the situation I want evidence and I am happy to take it from whatever source I can get it.

        • climatehawk1

           /  August 11, 2014

          I agree that the situation is grave, but there is massive unrealized potential for inexpensive energy from renewable sources and through improved efficiency, as we are seeing in data from South Australia, Texas, Germany, Spain, Ireland, Denmark, etc. The only thing that is making the realization of that potential beyond our capabilities at present is neither cost nor technology, but rather the enormous influence of the fossil fuels interests over our media and political systems.

      • mikkel

         /  August 11, 2014

        I found this image: http://zipcodezoo.com/trends/Trends%20in%20Atmospheric%20Methane_4.gif

        There is definitely a strong pulse from the heat during the periods he mentioned, since It shows doubling (400-800 ppb). It would be interesting to estimate the rate of release given the “metabolism” of methane, and then see what what happens with a similar release now. For instance, naively you could say that 400ppb isn’t much of an increase, but are the methane sinks already much more saturated at 1800ppb vs. 400ppb? I don’t know nearly enough to comment.

        Then similarly, physical mechanisms can be proposed about what causes destabilization, with estimates of how rate sensitive they are. If both of these things were done (which I imagine would get much more general agreement than ballpark estimates about release now) then perhaps we would be closer to an answer for your questions.

        I am under the impression that an estimate of potential release is impossible to make, because contrary to expectation, hydrate concentration is highly variable. Therefore, without mapping out the oceans in detail, it is very difficult to predict what could occur.

        The other question I have is whether some sort of radiocarbon dating can be done on hydrates to see when they formed — are there any good studies on the age of various formations?

        Reply
    • wili

       /  August 11, 2014

      The past is not always a guarantee of the future, in stocks or climate. The subsea methane clathrates have been getting steadily warmer and less stable since the beginning of the holocene, so now they are more likely to go than ever. And if we are having trouble figuring out how much carbon is down there now, we certainly don’t have much of a clue about how much was down there and what state it was in in the Eemian! A lot can happen in 115,000 years! ‘-)

      Reply
      • wili

         /  August 11, 2014

        Also, I’m pretty sure the East Siberian Continental Shelf was above sea level and not covered with glaciers during the last ice age, so presumably all that time it was making ever more permafrost. (But someone should correct me if I’m off, here.)

        Reply
        • Permafrost is;
          In geology, permafrost or cryotic soil is soil at or below the freezing point of water 0 °C (32 °F) for two or more years.
          So if you had a steady temperature, it would seem no more would be created, and none destroyed.
          It is simply frozen soil, it is what is locked in it that is the concern.
          A recent survey drew on the expertise of 41 permafrost scientists to offer more informal projections. They estimated that if human fossil-fuel burning remained high and the planet warmed sharply, the gases from permafrost could eventually equal 35 percent of today’s annual human emissions.
          http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/17/science/earth/warming-arctic-permafrost-fuels-climate-change-worries.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

          The question seems to be will the carbon be released as CO2 or methane?

      • wili

         /  August 12, 2014

        Paul wrote: “In geology, permafrost or cryotic soil is soil at or below the freezing point of water 0 °C (32 °F) for two or more years.
        So if you had a steady temperature, it would seem no more would be created, and none destroyed.”
        I’m not sure what point you are trying to make here. Could you clarify?

        Reply
      • Sorry, I should have clarified, this was in response to your statement
        “so presumably all that time it was making ever more permafrost”
        It doesn’t seem to me that it can make” ever more permafrost”, It would make as much ice as the cold could penetrate into the ground during winter, no more than that.

        Reply
      • mikkel

         /  August 12, 2014

        I think permafrost builds up over time due to material that grows on top during the summer dying and being incorporated. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permafrost#Time_to_form_deep_permafrost

        Reply
      • wili

         /  August 12, 2014

        Following up leads from mikkel’s wiki link, I came to this passage:
        “Balobaev et al. (1978) note that the greatest permafrost thicknesses recorded are on the East Siberian platform and present graphs with maximum permafrost thicknesses of 1500 m. These thicknesses are on the order of the value predicted here and it is not likely permafrost much thicker than this has ever existed, since the required time exceeds the plausible time available.

        These extreme thicknesses are not in thermal equilibrium with the present surface temperatures and are slowly thawing.”

        I found the last sentence chilling, even though I had heard similar statement before–even before GW got going, these huge masses of permafrost were unstable and slowly thawing. I assume that the very gradual cooling that had been going on since the Holocene Optimum (about 8 thousand years ago) would have gradually slowed the rate of that thawing till the next ice age came and stopped it completely.

        That is now how it is going to play out this time.

        Oh, the paper is: “Permafrost Formation Time” by Virgil J. Lunardini April 1995
        US Army Corps of Engineers: Cold Regions Research & Engineering Laboratory

        The quote is from page 20 in the conclusion, as is this: “Permafrost less than 600 m can grow within 50,000 years” So quite a bit could have formed since the Eemian, and even a good bit since the Holocene optimum.

        Reply
        • I honestly think that the only realistic solution to the permafrost (assuming we can’t stop the thaw in time) is to sequester the carbon using Mycelium.
          http://preppingforexile.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/fixing-permafrost-problem.html
          I have no idea how you would go about inoculating an area that size. Senegal is pushing to plant a “Great Green Wall” of trees stretching for nearly 7,000 km (4,375 miles), from Dakar to Djibouti, to stop the advance of the Sahara desert. They are doing that with trees inoculated with mycelium.
          It would seem to me that thawing permafrost would be a very rich substrate for mycelium to grow in. Considering it has the ability to break down oil on a scale that has been proven to repair polluted soil within weeks.
          See Paul Stamets.
          Mushrooms were the first land based organism and are still the largest.

      • wili: I guess how much of the CH4 is released from the permafrost will be a factor of soil type, permeability, depth and oxidation rate. It is interesting in that hydroxyls are creating in the same environment. So there are some really complex processes going on.
        Apparently studies on landfills have demonstrated that emission rates of CH4 can actually be affected by atmospheric pressure as well.
        Regardless, while there will be some mitigating factors, a lot would be overwhelmed by the emissions from shallow permafrost at first. So we are locked in to things getting hot quickly.

        Reply
      • wili

         /  August 13, 2014

        Actually, from what I’ve read, moisture is the key factor determining how much CO4 is released from permafrost (as opposed to CO2 release, at least). Wet, anaerobic conditions are more likely to produce high quantities of methane.
        “So we are locked in to things getting hot quickly.”
        That does seem to be the case.
        Thanks for the bit on mushrooms–I’m a big fan. But surely there are native species of mushroom already up there. What if the types we introduce wipe out the native species, which may have been more effective in doing the job in the long run? Unintended consequences stalk nearly every effort at mitigation. Better to try to stop making the problem worse than to dream up ‘solutions’ that themselves almost always become new problems.

        Reply
        • Sure they could do that in Senegal and just let the desert take over.
          The higher latitudes are areas with little opportunity for native species of mushrooms to currently exist.

  20. Interesting consecutive items on the CNN News ticker: … FLOOD WARNINGS FOR NORTH & SOUTH CAROLINA… WARMER THAN USUAL TEMPS FOR PACIFIC NORTHWEST… HEAT ADVISORIES FOR OREGON…
    It is a good snap shot of our current predicament of a warm arctic, a flaccid jet stream, and that blocking high in the eastern Pacific we know all so well.
    Every weather-cast should amplify on this. Anyways, it was nice the related items on the ‘news’ ticker.
    Ps Here in Portland, OR, temps today mid 90s, Monday high 90s. All ten degrees above ‘normal’. Oregon wildfire smoke overhead… ground ozone levels rising.
    ###

    Reply
    • Mark from New England

       /  August 10, 2014

      DT, That is wicked hot for Portland. I imagine many people there don’t have a lot of experience with heat like that. Though it did get that hot at a Grateful Dead show in Veneta, Oregon on August 27, 1972 (at Ken Kesey’s creamery farm). Oh if I could go back in time to be there, with my mid-20’s body and energy😉 Alas, I was only a kid at the time, and on the east coast.

      Reply
  21. Mark from New England

     /  August 10, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The much-debated Keystone XL pipeline could produce four times more global warming pollution than the State Department calculated earlier this year, a new study concludes.

    http://www.salon.com/2014/08/10/study_keystone_carbon_pollution_more_than_figured/

    We can’t let the Keystone XL pipeline be built. I read approval of the pipeline is high on the agenda of Senate Republicans should they retake the majority. Of course, Pres. Obama may end up doing their work for them in approving it after the 2014 mid-term elections. Let’s hope not, though I’m not optimistic.

    Reply
  22. That’s right. The Keystone XL is nothing more than a self detonating suicide belt.

    Reply
  23. Tom

     /  August 11, 2014

    mikkel: plant cells denature at 6 C – what will people eat?

    Reply
    • Tom: What do you mean by plant cells denature at 6 C? This is an average global warming we are talking about, is that your 6C or my 6C?

      Reply
    • Tom: What species of plants are you talking about? This paper has Soybeans leaves denaturing at >= 54C. That’s very hot.
      http://www.plantphysiol.org/content/44/12/1684.full.pdf
      But even assuming that to be the case if you were able to grow your own food wouldn’t you adjust your growing seasons accordingly and then store your food?
      No doubt that there will be large areas that are virtually uninhabitable but that does not exclude everywhere and all the time.

      Reply
      • wili

         /  August 11, 2014

        He should speak for himself, but I assume that he is referring to Guy McPherson’s claim that plant proteins will start to denature when global temperatures get to 3.5 degrees above the background rate. See under #2 here: http://guymcpherson.com/2014/03/presenting-in-olympia-washington/
        As you say, even to the extent this is true, it does not hold for all plants at all times.
        But it is important to keep in mind that not only humans directly, but many of the plants and animals we depend on to support us will be more and more stressed by ever-rising temperatures.

        Reply
      • Tom

         /  August 12, 2014

        Paul, sorry for being inaccurate: As wili replied below, I was referring to the comment Guy McPherson stated, claiming plants denature at 6 C ABOVE BASELINE.

        Wili: i am “speaking for myself.” The concern is, of course, that the global rise in temps will continue on and on, wreaking ever more damage to crop growing ability of any kind. Already we have reports of too much heat, or an “errant” cold snap, conditions too wet to plant (throwing off the growing season) or a long term drought that decimates everything green (including trees and grass), not to mention hailstorms that take a shotgun to plants. Do you think this is simply going to stop? Growing food is getting harder each season and may well become close to or actually impossible for most areas on the planet before long. All the methane and CO2 now being released from the Arctic and tundra (and elsewhere) is only going to make it that much harder as we go forward. What part don’t you get?

        Reply
      • So Tom what is baseline?
        Surely ecosystems change according to the new baseline. Google “Whittaker Biome diagram”, the habitat will adapt. Now whether we can handle that adaptation is another thing entirely. But once upon a time there was a deciduous forest covering Antarctica, and it was much hotter than it is today, or will be +6C. So where is the denaturing there?
        So the assumption then is that the baseline is the stasis point for a particular locale? If that is the case then it seems to me those plants will shift to higher latitudes and the people will have to follow (which is not extinction, but is a world of trouble in itself) or adapt their diet. Pass the cactus please.

        Reply
      • Tom indeed has valid points. Those ideas center (if I may interpret) around the fact that we live in an eco-SYSTEM. Systems behave in concert and to ignore one part of that system – as most people do – leads to rather stupid conclusions. Couple the fact that people do not understand systems with the fact that people do not understand the exponential function, and you know why we are in this mess.

        This presentation connects the financial system to the oil extraction system:

        The peak oilers are hailing Mr. Boyd as a genius because he noticed that you can’t drill for oil without finance and you can’t have finance as we know it without oil. The two constitute an interlocking system – of course.

        The above is just an example along the lines of the point Tom makes when he says: “that the global rise in temps will continue on and on, wreaking ever more damage to crop growing ability of any kind.”

        The quibble that I have with that point is that temperature – in and of itself – is not the problem with the our ability to grow food. The real problem is climate instability caused by temperature changes. As Tom says, it is the errant cold snap, the drought, the flood, etc. that will make people hungry. If one looks at average temperature without considering the systems affected, 4C or 6C doesn’t even imply that an extinction event is looming. If one looks at the systems involved however one can see that NTE is quite possible. And if you realize that 20,000 people living on the north coast of Greenland and subsisting on jellyfish (or some equally nasty situation) is not really better than extinction, then NTE is assured. (LOL – Also, one must consider that a person that can live on jellyfish wouldn’t actually be Homo Sapiens.)

        Reply
      • Some other systems interrelationships that we should consider are:
        Without cheap oil, with which to make ammonium nitrate (ANFO) and with which to run your trucks and excavators, it is impossible to run a coal mine.
        Coal and natural gas provides all of the electricity with which we make solar panels, and turn rare earth elements into magnets for wind mills. When the financial system crashes there will be no oil, with no oil -no coal, no coal – no renewables.
        Our food production system demands water, but without a stable government the water will not flow to the fields (look at the Mosel dam in Iraq). If your people are not eating well, it is impossible to maintain a stable government (look at the relationship between food prices and the so called Arab Spring).
        The jet stream existed as it did historically because the arctic was cold. The Arctic is not as cold, so the jet stream is different. The jet stream is different and so weather is different. Weather is different so in 2012 corn couldn’t be grown effectively in the mid-west and this year fewer vegetables will come from CA.
        The commercial Helium supply comes from conventional natural gas production. No conventional nat gas – no helium. No helium, no balloons.
        There are of course others.

        Reply
        • Pintaba:
          “Some other systems interrelationships that we should consider are:
          Without cheap oil, with which to make ammonium nitrate (ANFO) and with which to run your trucks and excavators, it is impossible to run a coal mine.
          Coal and natural gas provides all of the electricity with which we make solar panels, and turn rare earth elements into magnets for wind mills. When the financial system crashes there will be no oil, with no oil -no coal, no coal – no renewables.”

          I am not sure why I need an external supply of Ammonium Nitrate if I have the ability to recycle through a system of anaerobic digestion then aerobic aeration which gives me back a rich fertilizer. You also have the ability to generate nitrogen through aquaponics. The Chinese have been doing it since the 60s. And in case anyone is curious, yes you can reprocess human waste by using the methane from the anarobic digester to power a boiler prior to the aerobic digestions phase.

          Where are the renewables being manufactured? China. Will China continue to rely on coal and natural gas for electricity? No. They are in a race with India for Thorium reactors. At this point it appears India has won the race. Their first is slated to be online in the next year, after that they are planning commercial sales.

          The US lost the plot there. They gave the Chinese the reactor designs. China will have the reactors, they have the rare earth supplies and they have the factories. People may sell their extinction meme within the US, but I am not sure the Chinese will buy it.

        • climatehawk1

           /  August 13, 2014

          Factual error: rare-earth magnets are not required for wind turbines. They make some types of turbine more efficient and therefore lower the cost of energy, but if they were not available, turbines could still be built.

        • climatehawk: I agree, I was more responding to his points than looking to expand into the rare earth debate. But rare earths do have a variety of industrial uses beyond magnets, particularly in electric cars, catalytic converters and LEDs.

        • climatehawk1

           /  August 13, 2014

          Yeah, reply actually intended for him, my bad.

      • Another problem people have, is that it is very difficult to consider geologic time. Paul points out that, “Surely ecosystems change according to the new baseline.” Well of course they do – eventually. In even the most conservative estimates we will reach 4C within this century. Nothing – not human food sources, not the natural world – will adapt within 85 years.

        “… once upon a time there was a deciduous forest covering Antarctica,…” So what? It will take centuries to millennia to melt Western Antarctica. Should our offspring simply go on a diet til then?

        Paul also states: “But even assuming that to be the case if you were able to grow your own food wouldn’t you adjust your growing seasons accordingly and then store your food? 
No doubt that there will be large areas that are virtually uninhabitable but that does not exclude everywhere and all the time.”

        Apparently, he has not been paying attention to his own and the other posts on this site. One cannot “adjust your growing seasons” if it is blistering hot and dry one summer (or for a decade) and cold the next. If your area becomes one of the ones that are uninhabitable what do you do with the food that you stored? We live in a system remember, if there are difficulties finding food it is likely that it is also very difficult to travel. It doesn’t matter if a given area is a verdant paradise if you don’t know about it and couldn’t travel to it in any event. So, your area goes to shit, you die. Your neighbors area goes south, they die. etc. It doesn’t matter that your area is now nice.

        Oh, I know, lets all move to the NW territories and farm the burned out boreal forest. Good idea, but last I checked there is no actual soil that can be farmed there. Plus, the weather there is really nasty and getting nastier. Super cold in the winter with no sun followed by dry and hot (or maybe super cold) in the summer.

        Reply
        • Pintaba:
          “Apparently, he has not been paying attention to his own and the other posts on this site. One cannot “adjust your growing seasons” if it is blistering hot and dry one summer (or for a decade) and cold the next.”
          You expect it to go cold during summers?

          “If your area becomes one of the ones that are uninhabitable what do you do with the food that you stored?”
          Firstly pick a sustainable area
          http://preppingforexile.blogspot.com/2014/06/where-to-live.html
          Then use root cellars, dry and can food. Store seed.
          I have just planted Bok Choi from seeds 4 years old. I have tomatoes growing in the dead of winter in Australia, if you have a North (S. Hemisphere) facing greenhouse and use water as a thermal mass you can pretty much grow anything all year round. There is a guy in Tasmania with a banana tree in his living room.
          The oldest seed proven viable was 32,000 years old!! So the challenge is having a good seed bank. I would recommend to anyone interested to get involved with the Seed Savers community.

          Yes, the problem in the US is that people are dependent on the system. If you do not start thinking outside the box, then extinction is probably on the cards.

          The 2 greatest concerns I have are water and plagues. In Australia the mouse plagues can be biblical. Water has brought down great civilizations and California may well be next.

      • I agree with pintada that the greatest challenges to growing food are likely to come from localised weather instability over growing seasons. Three are quite a few projects that have been developing partially enclosed growing systems to mitigate against this but many of them are very carbon intensive.

        I can envisage the technologies that will enable one to mitigate against such instability for your one’s own farming endeavors, but I am not sure such systems can be scaled up adequately to feed populations via centralised agriculture. There is a lot of logic to a decentralised agricultural plan in terms of increased resiliency of food production but that rests on breaking down the monopolisation of production that characterises our current political economy.

        There is a lot of hope and a lot of technology that has not really been made public knowledge. It is not all doom and gloom.

        Reply
      • wili

         /  August 13, 2014

        Further discussion on this topic can be found here: https://www.skepticalscience.com/50-percent-more-hungry-2050.html Note the long discussion after the article. (Yes, I’m the wili there, too.)

        Reply
        • Thanks for the link wili. An additional problem that the article does not cover is that of oceanic death which will directly affect 600 million.
          Boiling it down we have 2 problems, the first is that we optimized production and logistics, that gave rise to the loss of a self-regulating population control (the second).
          http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.2164-0947.1970.tb02058.x/abstract
          If the logistics systems had been throttled in such a way that a population could only get the food necessary to maintain its numbers the problems would never have arisen.
          However, then it gives rise to a 3rd problem. Human control of emotion. Nobody wants to see people poor or starving, and when people are willing to pay for a commodity it gives rise to greed.
          In theory we are on track for 9 billion by 2050 (we won’t make it though). So there is absolutely no way out of this situation without extensive suffering resulting. We have evolved our population and society to the maximum capacity of the space defined by temperature, cheap energy, technology, water and land. Any change in a variable that results in a decrease of the space will force evolution’s hand.

      • wili

         /  August 13, 2014

        It’s late and I’m tired, so my mind may be working a bit slow right now. But I’m not sure I completely follow your last point. I’m not sure there is any great superfluity of human compassion that is somehow a problem. About a billion people are right now chronically undernourished, but few in the top quintile give them a second thought. If anything, I think we suffer from a lack of compassion, but not just for the present but also for the future. An equitable distribution of resources would still at this point likely feed all humans adequately. Match that with vigorous women’s rights/girls’ education programs, and population growth could do a rapid turn around.

        But we don’t/won’t/can’t(?) challenge the systems that are keeping this juggernaut going down its omni-destructive path. So the top 1% or so globally still controls about 50 of the resources, the top 20% over 80%. Bring those numbers down closer to the global norm and there would need to be much less suffering on the way down. But for the top players, any reduction is unspeakably unacceptable.

        That’s why, iirc, Naomi Oreske’s said that the science itself shows that revolution is now necessary to save the planet.

        Reply
      • wili

         /  August 13, 2014

        Here’s a link for that Oreskes reference: http://www.newstatesman.com/2013/10/science-says-revolt

        Reply
        • Wili: I do sympathize with your position, you are absolutely right. There is incredible inequality and in particular the way women are treated is appalling.

          “So the top 1% or so globally still controls about 50 of the resources, the top 20% over 80%. Bring those numbers down closer to the global norm and there would need to be much less suffering on the way down. But for the top players, any reduction is unspeakably unacceptable.”
          The hard truth is that we are actually in at least the top 20% of the worlds population. We complain about the 1%, but forget that there are billions who are willing to risk death just to have what we do. I am talking about the worlds biosphere.
          Regardless of the inequalities in the current system, it would not be enough to redistribute everything. The reduction of living standards in the west would economically crush society. If people in the US want to redistribute income within their economy that is fine, but there is no way that that will flow out the door to the rest of the world.
          There are 5.1 billion people living on less than $10 a day. There are 7 billion people in total. Now in the US their (I don’t know where you live) average income per day is roughly $50. To keep the math rough let’s ignore variations in the western world and average that out across the 20%.
          Total world income per person (5.1b * 10) + (1.9b * 50) = 51b + 95b = $146b. Now let’s divide that fairly for an average income for every person in the world. $146/7 = $20.86
          So the question is (will you) / (could you) live on $20.86 per day?
          The other impact of it would be that now other peoples standards of living have increased, what will be the first thing they demand? Meat and dairy. Next? A motorcycle or car. If resources were completely redistributed we would still end up having to support a city like Lagos with 25 million, very hard to do with a zero carbon footprint.
          In my opinion equality or not, the biosphere cannot handle it.
          If we can demand a revolution to equalize income and distribution within the west, don’t be surprised that the 3rd world demands our blood too, cause we are the 20%.

      • wili

         /  August 13, 2014

        Yep, we are that. As McKibben points out, it is a bit like expecting the emancipation of slaves to have been carried out by the slave owners. But that’s what we’re stuck with. Or as David Roberts put it: We have to make the impossible, possible. Or as I put it, we have to coax the live chainsaw out of the hands of the caffeine-addled, sucrose-addicted, adhd six-year-old.

        We do have to reverse urbanization; although, from what I’ve seen, lots of the folks in Lagos are living on pretty close to a zero carbon footprint right now, for better or mostly worse.

        I’ll also just say that a lot of our financial ‘needs’ are essentially made up. We can change all sorts of financial ‘rules’ rather easily, as we’ve just seen. (We can’t change the physics of the earths life support systems very easily/at all–once we’ve pushed them passed certain tipping points, we can’t un-tip them.) Without mortgage/rent, debt payment, and health and other insurance, a lot of people would be able to live on a lot less. (Personally, having paid of my mortgage, having given up long-distance travel and other luxuries, and being under my wife’s health insurance, yes, I do live on about $20 a day. But perfect equality throughout the globe is not necessary.)

        I also didn’t mean to say that mere equality would be enough by itself. Just that it would be a good start. Lower the standard of living in the first world by a bit to give the poorest at least adequate food and water to survive. From there we have to radically reduce population and continue to lower consumption rates and shift to non-carbon sources of energy. (The first part is already happening to some extent–even as the US middle class is shrinking, the global middle class is expanding.)

        Reply
  24. Colorado Bob

     /  August 11, 2014

    Toxic Algae Bloom Larger than Rhode Island Moving Towards Florida

    Algae bloom toxic in nature and covering a massive area, as big as one-and-a-half times the size of Rhode Island, is moving towards the Gulf of Mexico. The algae bloom is headed straight for the west coast of Florida.

    There are concerns that the algae will wreck the ecosystem. The toxic algae bloom emits odourless chemicals, which make the water red and can also cause respiratory problems in humans including wheezing and coughing. The algae bloom is considered fatal for marine animals too.

    According to satellite images that have come from the Optical Oceanography Laboratory at the University of South Florida (USF), a bloom of Karenia brevis which is called ‘the red tide’, is about 60 miles wide and 90 miles long.

    http://newsmaine.net/20255-toxic-algae-bloom-larger-rhode-island-moving-towards-florida

    Reply
    • ‘Harmful algal blooms (HABs) occur when colonies of algae—simple plants that live in the sea and freshwater—grow out of control while producing toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and birds.

      While we know of many factors that may contribute to HABs, how these factors come together to create a ‘bloom’ of algae is not well understood.

      Studies indicate that many algal species flourish when wind and water currents are favorable.

      In other cases, HABs may be linked to ‘overfeeding.’ This occurs when nutrients (mainly phosphorus, nitrogen, and carbon) from sources such as lawns and farmlands flow downriver to the sea and build up at a rate that ‘overfeeds’ the algae that exist normally in the environment.

      Some HABs have also been reported in the aftermath of natural phenomena like sluggish water circulation, unusually high water temperatures, and extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods, and drought.’
      http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/why_habs.html

      Reply
    • Another example of the need to observe the system and not just one component. We grow corn in the mid-west. To do so economically we ruined the soil long ago. So, we dump tons of nitrogen on the dead soil to make the corn grow. But the nitrogen washes out and flows into the Gulf. But we need diesel to run the tractors needed to raise the corn and nat gas to make the nitrogen fertilizer. So we spill oil. So we dump CO2 into the air which makes the SST higher. The HABs are inevitable.

      Reply
  25. * Important new study * gives yet more support for Prof. Francis hypothesis –

    Extreme weather becoming more common, study says

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/aug/11/extreme-weather-common-blocking-patterns

    Reply
  26. Griffin

     /  August 12, 2014

    I am at a loss for words, so I will let the words speak for themselves here.
    “Despite current political difficulties, pragmatism and common sense prevails,” Putin said at the Black Sea resort of Sochi as he gave the command via video to commence drilling today.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-09/putin-praises-exxon-alliance-as-arctic-drilling-starts.html

    Reply
    • Griffin

       /  August 12, 2014

      And by “loss of words” I mean I am about to throw up after reading this. Beyond maddening.

      Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  August 12, 2014

        Anyone want to venture a guess as to how long before the first major accident or spill? I think yeast is more intelligent for not having brains. At least they don’t know they’re headed for a crash.

        Reply
    • Hello Griffin. Ironically one of the suggested ‘solutions’ to the potential methane releases from the Arctic seabed and the eastern Siberian shelf involves fracking. This was something Prof. Wadhams pointed out at a recent talk.

      Reply
      • Griffin

         /  August 13, 2014

        I would rather take my chances that mitigation efforts can be successful long before siding with the idea of fracking solving any of our problems! Thank you for the link though, it is always interesting to listen to new ideas.:)

        Reply
  27. Mark from New England

     /  August 12, 2014

    Off topic – but may Robin Williams rest in peace. He was one of the greatest comedic actors of our time.

    Reply
  28. Mark from New England

     /  August 12, 2014

    More or less ON topic: Could British Columbia become a 100% Renewable Energy Region?: Transportation

    http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-08-12/could-bc-become-a-100-renewable-energy-region-transportation

    Reply
    • Griffin

       /  August 13, 2014

      This is an awesome article and thank you for the link! It is easy to see that if the next generation of batteries is anywhere close to what is being reached for, transportation really does stand before the dawn of a new day.

      Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  August 13, 2014

        Yes, Resilience.org is a great organization and carries some excellent stories.

        Reply
  29. Colorado Bob

     /  August 12, 2014

    Heavy rain has hit many parts of Southwest China during the past two days, causing flooding in some areas. San-quan township of Chongqing experienced its most serious flood in a century, as about 260 millimetres of rain fell in the upper reaches of the Long-Yan river.

    Link

    Reply
  30. Colorado Bob

     /  August 12, 2014

    Sweden’s Massive Forest Fire Lit by Record Temperatures

    A massive forest fire in Sweden has been raging for 11 days, and has grown into the largest fire the country has seen within the last four decades. This fire is occurring in the wake of the highest temperatures Sweden has ever experienced on record, and experts are quick to point out that this is no coincidence. ……………………………… some parts of Sweden are experiencing the highest temperatures and dry conditions they have ever seen on record. NASA’s Earth Observatory is seeing record temperatures as high as 95 degrees Fahrenheit for late July into Early August, and with trade winds changing across the world’s oceans, this dry season is not expected to let up.

    Link

    Reply
  31. Colorado Bob

     /  August 12, 2014

    Danger to Great Barrier Reef growing as reports reveal site’s health is declining

    The outlook for the Great Barrier Reef looks grim, with many of the threats to its environmental health worsening over the past five years and expected to deteriorate further as climate change intensifies, two major reviews have found………………..Broadly, they find that the damage caused to key sections of the reef from climate change, poor water quality, some fishing practices and coastal development has worsened. These threats were exacerbated by a series of storms, cyclones and floods in the past five years.

    Read more:Link

    Reply
    • These heavy rains, great fires, the dying oceans, etc. — how bad do things have to get before someone with clout pulls the FIRE (climate) alarm?
      The mind boggles…

      Reply
  32. Tom

     /  August 12, 2014

    pintada: good analysis and explanation to Paul.

    dtlange: what do you expect?

    Reply
    • Thanks.

      Reply
    • Tom, as far as someone with ‘clout’ pulling the ‘climate’ alarm, I expect very little, or nothing. Anyone with the power would have to tell the public how grave the situation really is.
      But this would cause panic amongst a populace that is averse and unaccustomed to bad news. Blame would be a factor.
      Years ago, I remember a Congressman (I believe, or maybe a high ranking staffer) being quoted, in an obscure context, as saying something like, “Nobody’s going say anything that would cause panic, and then get blamed. Better to have people running around with no time to assign blame”.
      On the other hand, politicians say they are “doing the people’s will”. If the people demanded action then something may happen. But I see a very reckless and gluttonous citizenry who, for a thousand different reasons, burn huge amounts of fossil fuels. Regardless of who is supplying it.
      We have about four generations of people who seem to think nothing of going around trailing a plume of poison gas — a car culture of many millions. This is mass dissociation, and lethal.
      And if we burn a hundred tons of coal for heat, light, and cooking — we burn another three hundred tons for junk, and entertainment.
      Our present economy is based on a lethal self destructive means. A trap-door we keep piling weight upon, and that will spring open at any time.
      We live in a world that yearly suffers seven million air pollution deaths. That’s a ‘holocaust’ a year. And a lot of suffering and responsibility to ignore or accept.
      We have an atmosphere polluted by fossil fuels that is destroying our life support system we call a climate.
      So, in my opinion, we have leaders who avoid blame. And a populace who really is to blame.
      It’s all a matter of individual choice as to why we burn, what we burn, and how much we burn.
      So, I expect things to get much worse quickly — all the amplifying feedbacks are at full speed.
      I busy my mind with ways to find solutions — what to do, when, where, and at/with whom. Robertscribbler blog is where I go to be informed.
      We have much to overcome.
      Good luck to us all.

      Reply
  33. Colorado Bob

     /  August 12, 2014

    RS –
    Look at this picture :
    Heavy fires destroy forests in Russian Far East

    http://en.itar-tass.com/russia/744551

    Reply
  34. Tom

     /  August 12, 2014

    Anyone that needs a one-stop source for what’s going on could read here:

    http://agreenroad.blogspot.com/2014/04/2014-list-of-45-global-tipping-points.html

    2014 – List of 45+ Negative Global Tipping Points

    (just keep scrolling down – they cover practically everything, complete with links galore)

    Reply
    • Thanks Tom for that link.

      Over the last 50 years or so, I’ve done a lot of work (mostly Zazen) to reach a point where I am generally ready emotionally for my own demise. Facing the net result of the facts and processes the referenced site lists is really an entire new challenge. Why that is I don’t know.

      As part of getting a handle on those things, I’ve debated and/or tried to educate techno-utopians, theists, global warming deniers of all stripes (you know – morons, ideologues, and paid liars), and others. I grant you that those “debates” were just my attempt to work through bargaining and anger – still, I learned things.

      One would not expect it, but all my opponents have had the same underlying belief. They believe that somehow any person that does the emotional work and has some measure of success toward realizing what people are, and accepting how people will behave is not moral.

      For the techno-utopian (probably the most twisted group out there), the person who doesn’t just love the new gadget invented in some lab somewhere or who thinks that cold fusion or thorium reactors or magnets made of dog poo and duct tape will not propel us to the stars just doesn’t have the courage to double down now that we are so close. Why did Google throw their billions toward keeping Jim Inhofe in the Senate? Could it be that Ray Kurzweil (bless his holy name) knows that the holy church of the singularity will never gain prominence unless growth continues unabated? Of course. For them, growth is the only moral option.

      My sister was a Rainbow Girl. In Rainbow (part of the Masonic Lodge) the girls are taught that the rainbow is a sign from god that he will never smite humanity again. Since god will never smite humanity again, then AGW must be a myth. And, incidentally, all Buddhists go to hell.

      No need to tell anyone here about the bizarre beliefs of global warming deniers. LOL

      What is truly odd is to find the same moralizing from a group that posts and understands things like Roberts latest. When reading through the 45 tipping points at the site you provided, I would bet that the average reader here said yup, right, proly, ok, or some variation thereon 45 times. And yet, regardless of my lifestyle, I am not as moral as the next guy because I have faced the simple reality at hand. Why is that?

      Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  August 13, 2014

        Pintada – “I’ve done a lot of work (mostly Zazen) to reach a point where I am generally ready emotionally for my own demise.”

        I agree that a Dharmic perspective really helps one develop a long-term outlook. Back when I sat with a Zen teacher in the 80’s, he once asked the class – “When you die, does the Universe die?” I strongly believe some aspect of our consciousness survives bodily demise, and perhaps ‘we’ even come back again, and again… So when someone says about global warming that they don’t care because they’ll be dead when the SHTF, I have to say, “Are you SURE about that?” Who are we really?🙂 What is this awareness?

        And believing in the continuity of consciousness beyond death makes me want to take care of the world more, lot less. Not only for the sake of my own future selves, but for everyone and all beings, since there are no hard and fast lines between the phenomena of the world. Our health depends wholly on the health of the Earth, which Ecology has shown us as well.

        Okay, enough philosophizing for now, but I’m glad to see someone here who has this outlook.

        Reply
      • mikkel

         /  August 13, 2014

        I don’t know about moral or not, but the thing I’m realizing is that the tipping points only point out the inevitable destruction of what is and say little about what will be. I mean that on both a physical and emotional level.

        On a physical level, land use changes can have enormous effects on vitality and microclimate, and times of great distress lead to both widescale extinction and possibility for speciation. Humanity has gotten very good at guiding speciation, for both good and ill. I don’t think it’s techno-utopianism to state that the adapability of life is a huge wildcard. The biggest threat by far is variability, and that’s what the “we’ll just move to Canada” argument misses. But then again, response to variability is greatly influenced by construction of systems.

        On an emotional level, the joys and ills that befall us will still be comprised of the same core truths that have already existed. Sure they will take different forms, but it is in our power to frame them regardless of what happens.

        Thus I came to realize that while it’s important to let go of attachment to the now, it is equally important to accept the bridge to what will be.

        Reply
  35. Apneaman

     /  August 13, 2014

    When predictions made by scientific theories come true and there are no other explanations, they can essentially be considered facts; like evolution. I kinda doubt the reporter could define what a scientific theory is. Not something taught in the four years of journalism “school” or apparently American public school for that matter.

    Reply
  36. Griffin

     /  August 13, 2014

    Just having a hard time grasping the fact that divers were used to search cars on the freeway in Detroit. That is really just hard to fathom with a storm that is not even tropical.

    Reply
    • Unless they are about to buy and install 7.2 billion dollars worth of household water tanks me thinks this isn’t going to turn out well.

      Reply
  37. Interesting read on water depletion from groundwater in the southwest.

    The Colorado River Basin has lost 65 cubic kilometers—that’s 17.3 trillion gallons—of water between December 2004 and November 2013. The remaining volume is unknown.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014GL061055/abstract

    Reply
  38. Bernard

     /  August 13, 2014

    Article on Wunderground on fire frequency, what cought my eye was the lack of expected increase in Calif. – until I read the first comment:

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/weatherhistorian/comment.html?entrynum=295#commenttop

    “In my area of SW California at least the absence of traditional rain seasons has resulted in far less light fuels like short grass and light brush. I’m wondering how much of a reduction in the traditional fire season that might translate to. Of course another factor in September through November is the traditional frequency of hot, extremely dry Santa Ana wind events.”

    The beginning of measurable desertification?

    Reply
  39. Mark from New England

     /  August 13, 2014

    And the opposite of desertification: video of flooding from torrential rains on Long Island and Maryland: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/weather/strong-storms-shatter-records-long-island-cars-nearly-submerged-n179546

    No mention of climate change, of course, in this NBC video.

    Reply
  40. An Entire Summer’s Worth of Rain Fell on New York in Just a Few Hours

    http://mashable.com/2014/08/13/rainfall-floods-long-island/

    Reply
  41. Tom

     /  August 13, 2014

    16 min. of Guy McPherson telling it like it is right now.

    Reply
  42. Good for Guy. Thanks, Guy… meanwhile…
    AP) — Bulgarians are seeking relief in the mountains, city parks, rivers and lakes as authorities warned of high temperatures of up to 38 degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit.)
    Meteorologists on Wednesday said the heat wave will continue for another day or two with sizzling temperatures in most of Bulgaria.
    The mayor of the capital, Sofia, ordered cold water to be pumped on the sweltering asphalt-covered main streets…
    http://news.yahoo.com/bulgarians-swelter-under-heat-wave-142019364.html

    Reply
    • Mark from New England

       /  August 13, 2014

      Are the surrounding countries having a heat wave as well?

      Reply
    • Griffin

       /  August 13, 2014

      Bulgaria has been in weather related news far too often these days. Those folks have been getting hammered.

      Reply
  43. Mark from New England

     /  August 13, 2014

    I’m getting in touch to let you know about a new book: “Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change”, by George Marshall. The book investigates why we find it so psychologically difficult to cope with climate change and offers ideas for how we might start to overcome this. I believe this book can transform the way we think about climate change—which is why I am supporting it and trying to tell as many people as I can about it. If you would like to learn more, you can visit the website, follow the book on Twitter and like it on Facebook. If you would like to take part in making this book a driver of change and collective exploration, please sign up for a mailing list: 1) UK/Ireland: eepurl.com/ZqHy9 2) Australia: eepurl.com/ZvtKT 3) USA/Other: eepurl.com/ZqDbD. Lastly, if you like what you see, you can help spread the word by commiting to a synchronized social media campaign for the book via Thunderclap. Thanks!”

    I’m Mark, and I approve this message. I’m about halfway through the book now, and it’s very good so far. I’ll be reviewing it in this blog, or will provide a link to my Amazon review, sometime next week. But I wanted to let people know that its not too late to become part of the ‘launch team’ as he’s calling us advance readers.

    Reply
    • Griffin

       /  August 13, 2014

      I have seen an advertisement for the book. I will be interested to hear from you on if the book gives good ideas for waking up friends who simply choose to ignore the subject.

      Reply
    • I kinda liked:

      Weintrobe, Sally (2012-10-12). Engaging with Climate Change: Psychoanalytic and Interdisciplinary Perspectives (New Library of Psychoanalysis ‘Beyond the Couch’ series) (p. 42). Taylor & Francis. Kindle Edition.

      It isn’t very readable though. Maybe this one, Marshall, will be better.

      Reply
  44. Mark from New England

     /  August 13, 2014

    The books website is: http://climateconviction.org/

    Reply
  45. Mark from New England

     /  August 13, 2014

    The last intense rain arm of this powerful storm system is moving through my area now. It was pouring buckets a while ago – though nothing like Islip, Long Island, Baltimore or Detroit! I hope if Robert is ready to scribble again that he writes up something about this amazing summer storm system in the northeastern US.

    Reply
    • Griffin

       /  August 13, 2014

      The NWS Boston office mentioned in today’s discussion that precipitable water values above us were in the 99th percentile range for August!

      Reply
  46. How much methane came out of that hole in Siberia?

    “despite recent explosions suggesting the contrary, I still feel that the future of Earth’s climate in this century and beyond will be determined mostly by the fossil fuel industry, and not by Arctic methane. We should keep our eyes on the ball. ”

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/08/how-much-methane-came-out-of-that-hole-in-siberia/

    Reply
    • wili

       /  August 14, 2014

      Good link. But really, do we know how deep the hole really is? It’s about 70 meters down to the water surface, but has anyone plumbed the depth of those pools? What if there are huge caverns out of which that methane erupted, now filled with water? That might reduce Archer’s calculations about how much methane came out. It seems unlikely to me that a small amount of methane would have the force to erupt so explosively.

      Reply
  47. Tom

     /  August 14, 2014

    todaysguestis: seen this yet?

    http://arctic-news.blogspot.co.nz/2014/08/horrific-methane-eruptions-in-east-siberian-sea.html

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014
    Horrific Methane Eruptions in East Siberian Sea

    A catastrophe of unimaginable propertions is unfolding in the Arctic Ocean. Huge quantities of methane are erupting from the seafloor of the East Siberian Sea and entering the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean. [read the rest if interested]

    Reply
    • Mark from New England

       /  August 14, 2014

      Yes, looks like a good deal of methane is definitely coming off the East Siberian Sea, but is it a catastrophic, explosive release or just a “gradual” release? If you look at the map, there’s quite a bit coming from elsewhere in the arctic as well as around the world. Perhaps someone more versed in the science of methane behavior than me can chime in!

      Reply
      • David Archer at RealClimate.org posted an article on 8/13 called “How much methane came out of that hole in Siberia?”

        http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/08/how-much-methane-came-out-of-that-hole-in-siberia/

        Reply
      • You have a point Mark and reading between the lines it seems to be something like, “Don’t those guys sound a little hysterical?” I’ve been reading their site since its inception, and I think the answer is yes. LOL

        There seems to be two possible takeaways:
        1. Given that at the beginning they sounded hysterical about 1800 ppb and now they are sounding hysterical about 2440 ppb, they are right and we should all be hysterical, or;
        2. They are somehow wrong. I can find nothing reliable that says that they are, but still.

        Reply
      • That begs the question: Why do I consider David over at realclimate not reliable on this subject?

        Quite simply, look at his argument as stated in this paragraph:
        “But the time scale for heat to diffuse into the sediment, where methane hydrate can be found, should be slow, like that for permafrost on land or slower. More importantly, the atmospheric methane flux from the Arctic Ocean is really small (extrapolating estimates from Kort et al 2012), even compared with emissions from the Arctic land surface, which is itself only a few percent of global emissions (dominated by human sources and tropical wetlands).”

        “… should …” – really? OK that sentence speaks volumes to me about his bias, not his evidence.

        Kort measured the current methane flux, and found it to be small at one location at some point during the summer of 2011. What does that have to do with what the guys at Arctic News are talking about? Nothing.

        David is the guy that wrote an article a couple years ago that stated that there was no methane at risk in the Arctic because the sea level was lower during the last ice age. I’m paraphrasing sure, but there is methane in the Arctic that is in danger of melting (or the better word is “destabilization” since the stuff floats):

        “… Dickens et al. (1995) cite estimates that the modern CH4 hydrate reservoir contains 8000–15,000 Gt C; …”

        Bender, Michael L. (2013-08-25). Paleoclimate (Princeton Primers in Climate) (Page 137). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

        It would only take 50 Gt to make a big difference in the world. That is 0.6% of the available clathrate reserves. The guys at arctic news are hysterical about a theory – a theory that makes a lot of sense.

        Reply
      • At the risk of sounding philosophical, I think Apneaman brings up a good point below.

        “We should keep our eyes on the ball.”

        Why would Dave say such a vapid thing? And why would he write an article to apparently convince people that (straight out of the Rex Tillerson play book) there is no urgency to the AGW problem. I have some ideas. (Surprise!)

        1. Dave is one of the people that thinks that we can grow ourselves out of our current pickle. For a refutation of that silliness see Czech (and Dr. Daly):
        “An old economic world is dying, and a new economic world is being born. Brian Czech is one of the midwives of this new economic world. — Governor Richard D. Lamm

        This is a brave book that raises questions we all need to ask and try to answer. We must learn all we can about how life works and shape our political and economic behavior in harmony with nature. Czech proposes the evolution of a revolution, thinking and feeling and working our way toward a fair, sustainable, constructive social order in America and all around the world. — Neil Patterson, science publisher”

        Czech, Brian (2013-04-26). Supply Shock: Economic Growth at the Crossroads and the Steady State Solution . New Society Publishers. Kindle Edition.

        2. Dave thinks that everyone should be rational, as he defines the term and do as he says (not necessarily as he does), and that eventually and before it is to late everyone will. Unfortunately, that theory implies the first theory in addition to calling Dave a name which is not fair.

        3. Dave thinks that the current efforts have been successful. LOL

        In short, I can’t think of any rational reason for Dave to consistently argue with Sam Carana and friends.

        Gosh, I have got to stop wasting time. I have a great project waiting for me in the wood shop and yet, here I sit. Terrible.

        Reply
      • mikkel

         /  August 15, 2014

        I have a more charitable reading, pintada. While obviously the logic about the possibility of rapid release is quite poor (I criticized it up thread), I think his overall point that methane is unlikely to contribute more to forcing than BAU CO2 is correct.

        A large burst isn’t totally out of the question, and I do think the evidence suggests we should consider 100GT over the rest of the century a risk, but the model he links to shows that it still contributes only as much as CO2 http://climatemodels.uchicago.edu/methane/ by the end of the century.

        Considering that CO2 is much more within our control than CH4, and is the driver for CH4 release, this means we should focus primarily on CO2. This rationale is the same that Robert consistently expresses, without demonstrating any of the three possibilities you cite.

        The only way to get the Carana, et al outcome is to have many 50GT+ bursts within years of each other. That is extremely unlikely to occur within the next few decades, and I consider NTErs to be irresponsible framing it the way they do. That said, I also think BAU through 2100 makes extinction events very likely as 6C would rapidly give way to 12C+. I also think it’s highly likely that modern civilization is already on the precipice, if not over..since we have locked in 3C. But that doesn’t mean localization and decarbonization won’t matter!

        Reply
        • Mikkel: Totally agree.
          One thing that I would add is that it is known that the methane in the ESAS cannot be in hydrate form. Thermodynamically, while the depth profile means that the hydrates could be stable, they cannot form in the shallow ESAS sea.
          So the methane must be coming from organic sediment in the form of sub-sea permafrost. It probably originated from the Azolla event which was significant enough to take down atmospheric CO2 a total of 2850ppm (and bring on an ice age). Which does mean that there is a significant amount of carbon stored in the seabed. It would be layered, the slab model therefore applies. So the doomsday prediction of “fault seals” being melted and releasing geological methane extinction bombs is very unlikely.
          However, pockets could definitely exist in the sub-sea permafrost, which is more than likely what caused the recent venting over ESAS.
          All that said though, if there is that much carbon in the sub-sea permafrost then we still have a huge problem. Sudden or not, its release would be hell on Earth. Sooner or later.
          I know that people (rightly) believe geo-engineering to be the last line of defense, but given our inability to rapidly fix the situation I feel that it is important to propose a plan B.
          http://climatecolab.org/web/guest/plans/-/plans/contestId/1300103/planId/1310701
          We need time to transition to renewables (or at least alternate sources), and I just don’t see it happening fast enough.

        • Archer is correct in that the primary driver is human emissions. We stand to emit 2.5 trillion tons under BAU by end of century. The additional Arctic carbon store is a huge concern as an amplifying feedback. But there is no way to deal with the problem without halting human emissions.

          Geoegineering is a stop-gap that may reduce some of the effects caused by the human emission. But you trade serious consequences including increasing rainfall/storm events as the atmsopheric moisture loading falls after aersol spraying and ozone depletion, among others. Geo-engineering would be costly. It would also not deal with the added impact of high CO2, NOx, Methane and other ghg levels, such as ocean acidification.

          In the end, ghg would overwhelm the aersol shield, as it did during the Permian Extinction. And, likely, with aerosol spraying we’d see comparable climate swings to what occurred during that time. The flux between a warming and cooling atmosphere would also contribute to ocean surface freshening and stratification, as happened during the Permian.

          There’s really no easy way out. And the only real way out is to stop ghg emissions. Archer is right about that, even if he may be a bit too optimistic on Arctic systems response.

        • Hi Mikkel,
          Your email does not seem to be working. All emails are rejected (recipient could not be reached).

      • mikkel

         /  August 15, 2014

        That’s an interesting proposal! Certainly preferable to shooting up a bunch of sulfur in the air or massive fracking.

        I had not heard of the Azolla event, but is an example of how perhaps the most plausible negative feedbacks that will pop up are biological.

        I also agree that the most probable source of methane is permafrost and is greatly discounted by both the true alarmists and the consensus. While I am concerned about hydrates, it is in the areas where there are warm currents and would be “minimal” compared to the runaway greenhouse hypothesis.

        Reply
    • Bernard

       /  August 14, 2014

      What’s the source for that top image (with the methane concentrations) ?

      Reply
      • wili

         /  August 14, 2014

        I’m not sure, but this is one good source for that kind of information. http://www.methanetracker.org/

        Reply
      • wili

         /  August 14, 2014

        Oops. It looks like that site has been discontinued. Sorry. Too bad.

        Reply
      • Apneaman

         /  August 14, 2014

        “We should keep our eyes on the ball.” Well that should inspire the troops Professor Dave. A good chunk of the world is on fire and in other parts it floods, so we better watch out or we might have some consequences by next century or sumthing. I’m tired of these climate scientists acting like they know everything and the time table for it. Wrong about the arctic sea ice by 50 years. Wrong about plenty. Aren’t climate scientists physicists and chemists? I know they are not experts on agriculture or bio-diversity. I think we have made Rock Stars out of some of these guys. I think they need to stop giving abstract time lines and stop predicting far off consequences. They are already happening-people are suffering and dying. Infrastructure is being chipped away at by overuse, neglect and weather it was not designed for. Crops are being stressed by heat and drought and floods are wiping out millions of acres. I appreciate their work and info, but when it comes to the on the ground consequences of a changing climate I think I will go to the terrestrial and marine biologists. And my own eyes.

        Reply
  48. Greg Smith

     /  August 15, 2014

    The weather channel has an article about the record rains this week and throughout the summer. “a report compiled by 300 scientists and experts released in May 2014, offered compelling evidence that, in fact, heavy rain events are becoming, well, heavier in parts of the U.S.”
    http://www.weather.com/news/science/detroit-long-island-baltimore-flood-record-rain-wetter-future-20140814

    Reply
    • Griffin

       /  August 15, 2014

      I’ve said it before but I really think that these heavy rain events are the first clear signal that things have changed with the weather, in a way that will make the average person think twice about dismissing climate change warnings.

      Reply
  49. Apneaman

     /  August 15, 2014

    The Risky Rise of the Dams

    With mining growth comes larger, deeper, more unwieldy tailings ponds, experts warn.

    http://thetyee.ca/News/2014/08/07/Risky-Rise-of-Dams/

    Reply
  1. The Keystone Pipeline, Arctic Methane Eruptions, and Why Human Fossil Fuel Burning Must Swiftly Halt | robertscribbler
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