Greenland Ice Loss Increases Fivefold From Late 1990s, West Antarctica Not Far Behind

In the early 1990s, it would have been hard to imagine the rates of glacial ice loss we are seeing now.

There were few ways to accurately measure the Greenland Ice Sheet’s mass. Snow fell, glaciers calved. But observations seemed to show that the great, cold ice pile over Greenland was in balance. Snow gathered at the top, glaciers calved at the edges, but human heating of the atmosphere had yet to show plainly visible effects.

At that time, climate scientists believed that changes to the ice, as a result of human caused heating, would be slow and gradual, and would probably not begin to appear in force until later in the 21st Century.

Greenland Jacobshavn July 30 2014

(Extensive surface melt ponding, dark snow near the rapidly melt Jakobshavn Glacier on the West Coast of Greenland in early August of 2014. Image source: LANCE MODIS.)

Ice Sheet Response Starts Too Soon

By the late 1990s, various satellites had been lofted to measure the gravity, mass and volume of structures on the Earth’s surface. These sensors, when aimed at the great ice sheets, found that Greenland, during a period of 1997 to 2003 was losing mass at a rate of about 83 cubic kilometers each year.

This rate of ice loss was somewhat small when compared to the vastness of the ice sheet. But the appearance of loss was early and, therefore, some cause for concern. More monitoring of the ice sheet took place as scientists continued their investigation, for it appeared that the ice sheet was more responsive to human warming than initially believed.

A Doubling After Just Six Years

By 2009 another set of measures was in and it found that the six year period from 2003 to 2009 showed a near doubling of ice mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet. Rates of loss had jumped from 83 cubic kilometers each year to around 153 cubic kilometers. The doubling caused consternation and speculation among climate scientists. Greenhouse gas heat forcing was rapidly on the rise and the world’s oceans were warming faster than expected as human emissions continued along a worst case scenario path. It appeared that the ocean was delivering heat to the ice sheet bases even as atmospheric warming was melting larger areas upon the ice sheet surface.

These changes to the massive ice sheets were occurring far more rapidly than previously considered.

Edge of Greenland Ice Sheet

(Hundreds foot high edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet in Kangerlussuaq as seen at the end of a long valley and across a cold estuary. Image source: EISCAT Scientific Association.)

The potential for a 3, 6, or even 9 foot or more sea level rise by the end of the 21st Century was raised. Perhaps even more ominous, global climate models were showing that rapid ice melt in Greenland and West Antarctica, should it occur, would play havoc with world weather systems. It was this jump in ice loss, in part, that spurred climate scientist and then head of NASA GISS, Dr. James Hansen to write his book The Storms of My Grandchildren as a warning that rapid mitigation in human greenhouse gas emissions along with a stabilization of atmospheric CO2 at 350 ppm would probably be needed to prevent severe consequences from human-caused warming.

But humans kept emitting at a break-neck pace, spending far more money to build coal, gas and oil based technology, than to reduce energy consumption through efficiencies or behavioral change or to invest in alternatives like wind and solar.

Melt Rates Surge Yet Again

And so, by January of 2014, heat forcing had continued to accumulate at a very rapid pace. CO2e heat forcing had spiked to 481 ppm, enough to melt the entire Greenland Ice Sheet and much of Antarctica as well, if maintained or increased over a long period.

And the Greenland Ice sheet was, indeed, melting at an ever faster clip. For the most recent assessment found that the loss rate from Greenland had again more than doubled — hitting a 375 cubic kilometer per year average during the period of January 2011 through January of 2014.

Greenland Ice Sheet Elevation Change

(Greenland Ice Sheet elevation change in meters as found in a recent report by the Alfred Wegner Institute. Note that all Greenland edge zones are now experience elevation losses. Due to higher elevations at the center of the ice sheet, elevation loss at the edge has an effect that speeds ice sheet motion toward the sea. The effect is similar to pushing down the edge of a plastic swimming pool, but on a much larger scale and with somewhat slower moving ice.)

It was an extraordinary rate of melt now 4.7 times faster than in the period from 1997 to 2003 and 2.5 times faster than during 2003 to 2009. But, likely, it is but one more milestone on the path to even faster melt.

The same study that found the Greenland melt acceleration also saw a tripling of the melt rate of West Antarctic since 2003 to 2009. Together, the ice sheets were found to contribute a combined mass loss of 503 cubic kilometers per year between Greenland and West Antarctic. This vast, and still apparently rising, loss now meant that the two great ice sheets were contributing at least one millimeter per year to sea level rise.

Likely Grim Future For Sea Level Rise

It is likely that mass rate losses will continue to increase until some kind of break or negative feedback comes into play. Similar rates of melt increase would mean an annual 5-8 millimeter sea level rise by 2035 due to Greenland and Antarctic melt on top of a 2-3 millimeter sea level rise from thermal expansion of the oceans and from other melt sources. But even taking into account the cooling effect at the ocean surface from ice melt and fresh water floods, one could easily envision the feared 1-3 foot sea level rise by sometime near mid century and the even more concerning 3-9 foot sea level rise amidst a very intense battle between hot and cold weather systems through to century’s end.

As of 2014, it appears the conditions leading up to the warned of “Storms of My Grandchildren” are well in play and rapidly building.


Alfred Wegner Institute: Elevation Change of the Greenland Ice Sheet

Greenland Ice Loss Doubles From Late 2000s


The Storms of My Grandchildren

EISCAT Scientific Association

Hat Tip to TodaysGuestIs

Leave a comment


  1. Wow, that much melting is ominous. Further, today’s 0820 Climate Reanalyzer shows a large mass of hot air over Greenland, with a ribbon of hot water just off shore.
    Thanks for the post, Robert.

  2. Greg Smith

     /  August 21, 2014

    We are so trapped by our perceptions of space and time. Greenland seems so huge and immobile. An excellent photo and video from Slovakia (link below) gives us a humbling perspective of just one hour and twenty minutes of atmospheric power in only several square miles of land surface. You think we should be respectful of the physics of the atmosphere?:

    • Amazing. And that’s just enough to fit in a camera frame. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to stand there and view the whole sky.

  3. Greg Smith

     /  August 21, 2014

    A breathtaking mass beaching of Velella velella (“By the wind sailor), similar to jellyfish, in La Push, Washington starting about a month ago. They are often associated with El Nino indicate wind shifting and warm waters off the West Coast of North America.

    • JPL

       /  August 21, 2014

      I was on a canoe trip a couple of weeks ago in the Broken Island Group off of Vancouver Island and yeah, those little buggers were ubiquitous. Never seen anything quite like it. Fearless little sailors, all.


    • North Pacific at +0.96 C today. Global SST at extraordinary +1.21 C. It’s especially hot considering there’s no El Nino.

  4. Bernard

     /  August 21, 2014

    Off-topic and off-subject:

    Somewhere in June the last drops in a large part of the Aral Sea evaporated. Made an animation:

    • Andy (at work)

       /  August 21, 2014

      The boogeyman in that sad episode is the connection of Renaissance Island to the mainland. For those that are unaware, that is the island where the USSR conducted a huge variety of biological warfare agents (from 50’s forward). They also at the end of the cold war buried barrels of modified anthrax and other bio hazards there from across the USSR. These barrels corroded and the contents have been merrily gurgling up as a pink ooze and replicating. The surrounding region now has vermin with new fascinating forms of plague and other nasty things. The desertification is allowing for dusts storms with this payload to be swept to new areas. If you want to read something scarey, read this.

      • Apneaman

         /  August 21, 2014

        I’m sure we will be getting all sorts of little surprises (for most people) as we go forward. Oh well, even the most curious Doomer can’t know it all.

    • That’s extraordinary, Bernard. Didn’t they build a dam to try to save it some years back? Guess the extra heating/evaporation has put the stops to that.

      • They built a dam on 1/2 (north side, smaller) to try to save that section. Irrigation & fall off on rainfall mad it a failed experiment.

        • Damn. We have rain over melt ponds on the Jakobshavn Glacier. I may need to write something about that.

          Double Greenland article, but…

  5. earthfriendrick

     /  August 21, 2014

    Robert, as you know, the ramifications for your home town and cities like Charleston and Miami are almost beyond human reckoning… No doubt the food impacts of climate change are going to be the first and most dire consequences. However, the impact of sea level rise is going to be unimaginable on the worlds great cities and these impacts, already being felt, are coming soon to a city near you!

    • I’ll be sad to see VA Beach and Norfolk go. My wife wants to move back there, but I don’t want to deal with the real estate crisis that’s coming due to SLR/storms.

      • Apneaman

         /  August 22, 2014

        Robert, what’s up with real estate right now? Anyone publicly calling to get out now? Calls for government rescue type of deal?

        • In Norfolk, we have about 300 properties requesting FEMA assistance for flooding. You have a smattering like this along the coast and in the estuaries as well. Give it a decade or two and you can start multiplying by about 50-100. Big storms are the wild card, as they can rapidly take down low lying areas that are made more vulnerable due to SLR.

  6. Jim

     /  August 21, 2014

    What weather changes are expected when the outflow of cold water really ramps up?

    • You end up with a very strong temperature differential in the North Atlantic. You end up with a pool of cold air offset from the pole over Greenland and the adjacent North Atlantic. The storm track runs into this cold region and the confluence is a generator for very powerful storms.

      At first, you see more intense storms originating from the storm track over the North Atlantic during winter. Over time, this storm generation zone grows and becomes more ubiquitous. Swings from hot to cold, cold to hot dominate the Arctic basin and so you have periods of storm genesis as these swings become more extreme.

      High temperatures in the mid Atlantic Ocean and low temperatures in the North Atlantic Ocean generate powerful baroclinic extremes which can further amplify storms.

      The models show powerful continent-spanning storms generated from all these extremes and instabilities. The Jet re-intensifies, but reorganizes around Greenland. This off-set from the pole is very unstable and the flux between hot and cold is a very powerful weather generator.

  7. Gerald Spezio

     /  August 21, 2014

    Robert, I can readily & easily re-write your hopeful statement about “some kind of break” into a statement of continuing deadly acceleration.

    You write “It is likely that mass rate losses will continue to increase until some kind of break or negative feedback comes into play.”

    Why not consider the high probability of this statement; It is just as likely that mass rate losses will continue to increase approaching an exponential rate, & this can only indicate that fossil fuel sucking humans are doomed to an ugly death – & soon.

    Where is the evidence indicating “some kind of break” in the clearly spiraling out-of-control melting?

    Everything demonstrates more acceleration without any “breaks.”

    Most assuredly, there won’t be any voluntary breaks in bidness & consumption.

    • Very few things in nature run on a pure exponential scale. You run exponential for a while, then you hit a new physical reality.

      Now, it’s possible that the exponential melt trend runs longer and faster. And that would be a bad outcome. But at around 2-3 feet of sea level rise, you end up with enough negative feedback by mid century to put a cap on warming at 2 C until a large portion of the ice melts out, there’s another barrier at 3-4 C later on. In essence, the energy goes into melting the ice and warming the fresh waters dumped into the ocean surface even as a lot of the extra heat ends up in the deep ocean. It’s just the physical dynamics of the system.

      The cold that pools around the melt zones is quite extreme and these areas actually go negative in atmospheric temperature for a time. The atmospheric cooling relative to the melt would result in anomalous snow accumulations at the top of the ice sheet. The result would be a net surface drag on melt rates even as the ice sheets rapidly move seaward. This drag and atmospheric/ocean response is not enough to cut off the melt altogether, but it is enough to halt the exponential melt process as the negative feedbacks and positive feedbacks see-saw.

      During this time, we likely see massive atmospheric cooling over Greenland and sections of Antarctica even as the equatorial regions and southern/temperate latitudes rapidly warm.

      That would be second phase warming. But we’re not quite there yet, although some sections of Antarctica suspiciously display these characteristics.

  8. Mark from New England

     /  August 21, 2014

    I held a public showing of “Chasing Ice” two nights ago, so this article is very timely for me. I’ll send it to the attendees who provided email.

    Here’s a good article by Joe Romm summarizing the situation with the jet stream and extreme weather:

    But oh man, the denialist comments! I see Colorado Bob has tried to set the record straight, but some are just not getting it. I think this goes to show confirmation bias and the failure of the information deficit model of communicating about climate change. The deniers seem to be saying “I won’t let your facts change my mind!”

    • Mark from New England

       /  August 21, 2014

      This one is typical, and illustrates several of the psychological traits George Marshall discusses in his book “Don’t Even Think About It”:

      Guy Beebe · Top Commenter · Michigan Technological University

      Let me try to explain this another way. It is simple, no one should have any confidence in their climate models simply because they have no way of encapsulating its full complexity. Is there a single agreed upon economic model? One that works? No, and the world economy is actually a far, far simpler system than the world’s climate.

      It isn’t surprising that the liberals came up with this one, because Al Gore is famous for drawing a line off a short term trend on a graph and expecting it to continue indefinitely! All of our current debt issues came from his question in the First Presidential Debate with GW Bush, when he asked, “What are YOU going to do with the 10 TRILLION dollar surplus?”
      Caught by surprise, GW, instead of scoffing at the shear idiocy of that statement, made the mistake of playing by Al’s rules. Now, we all get to pay!

      – See, there’s Al Gore yet again; the ultimate liberal, educated, environmental elitist villain! And this despite all the links to peer reviewed scientific information that others have posted in reply to his and other deniers comments.

      • Wow.

        Al Gore is the evil batman…

        In any case, this is the typical denialist mixture of truth and fiction to come to a false answer.

        Of course the climate models aren’t perfect at predicting future weather or even rate of temperature increase. But what they are very good at is establishing trend and overall scale. The ECS measure and model summary is a very good indication of how much the Earth System may warm this century and the paleoclimate/ ESS measure is a very good indicator of how much the Earth may warm long-term.

        And so we can estabilish a good range of how much the Earth will warm and how warm it will be given a certain level of forcing, over the long term.

        Al Gore’s temperature and CO2 graphs, historically speaking, are entirely accurate, so it’s nonsense to refute those. And as for future temperature increases, we are pretty darn sure we get 2-3 C warming this century for each doubling of CO2e and 5-6 C warming for each doubling of CO2e long term. This puts us at 4-9 C this century and 8-18 C long term under BAU.

        If Greenland and West Antarctica melt faster, you end up with a bit less warming this Century, which you trade for more rapid rates of sea level rise. But these are the gory details.

        What we are abosolutely sure of is that if you burn fossil fuels in a BAU manner the changes are powerful, devastating, and the equivalent of a human generated hothouse extinction.

      • Mark from New England

         /  August 21, 2014

        “This puts us at 4-9 C this century and 8-18 C long term under BAU”. Now that is mass extinction territory.

        • Absolutely.

          We hit 800-1000 ppm CO2, hothouse mass extinction is guaranteed. It’s just a question as to whether it looks like the PETM or the Permian.

    • Some years ago, the denier comments may have been worthwhile. At this point, if it’s something I’ve seen a hundred times before and spent energy disproving a hundred times before, or if it’s just trolling, I delete it. It’s like mental kudzu. Mostly harmful and no longer relevant to a healthy discussion.

      Bob posted the Article earlier and I’ve got a related analysis article in queue pending a few observations. Joe did a good job connecting dots with this one.

      • Mark from New England

         /  August 21, 2014

        Good point – no need to relay denier comments within this blog. I just wanted to illustrate what we’re up against, but then we all know that! And that if they already believe this is a liberal plot to impose big gubmint and collect more taxes, then no amount of facts will sway their minds.

        However, the more of them that can be convinced through targeted communication that speaks to their values (if they have any 😉 the better, because in the deniers world-view, the opinion of former deniers who have seen the light holds a lot more sway that what any of us, or any scientist, may say. And especially that darned Al Gore. Do you know he lives in a BIG house?

        • It’s amazing to me how they’ve been transformed into perfect little puppets of the wealthy. Sometimes you just need to raise taxes… You know, like to pay down war debt or to deal with epidemic homelessness or to, you know, effectively transition an economy to a lower consumption/renewables model, or anything else that might be broadly helpful.

    • Apneaman

       /  August 22, 2014

      Mark, you should email the chasing ice viewers a link to NatureBatsLast. That’s always helpful for getting the newbies motivated.

  9. You said: “… reduce energy consumption through efficiencies or behavioral change or … ”

    Thanks for that.

    Until now (while I have been reading you) you have not mentioned that behavioral changes are needed. The implication being that infinite growth on an finite planet is possible through the use of renewables. I just had to trust that you know better ’til now.

    • Clearly reducing materials consumption is absolutely critical. The trick is to do this without destroying happy livelihoods (happiness does not = consumption, but when consumption is necessary to survive, then there’s a road block, which you need to work around by being creative and innovative).

      My view is that reducing consumption favors renewables development when the policy options are well set — as they are overall less energy intensive. CAFE standards, for example favor EVs by their very nature. I see them as shaking hands with less consumption and being more easy to adopt as consumption falls. In addition, more efficient energy usage, such as efficient lightbulb standards, make the build needed to provide the new renewable structures less materials and labor intensive. Lean muscle, rather than needless bulk.

      I realized I wasn’t communicating this effectively enough, hence so much misunderstanding here in the comments. But I do see the solutions here as synergistic and self reinforcing and that pushing to continue to reduce materials consumption without wrecking lives is essential.

    • So, if I may with all due respect, offer:

      I think 1C MAX and others that recently appeared to be posting anti-renewable propaganda were in fact just over-reacting to what they perceived as techno-utopianism on your part. Despite your “street cred” with already having published a book entitled “Growth Shock” I think not making the case for a steady state economy in conjunction with renewables damages your “policy, policy, policy” position.

      I mentioned “Supply Shock” by Brian Czech and the work of Herman Daly (his mentor) earlier. I think incorporation of their ideas within your renewables policy ideas are critical to you making a credible argument. After all, the rule of 72’s still applies to an economies growth (and power requirements) whether we a talking 2 cent wind power (EROEI of 15) or higher costs and lower EROEI.

      • mikkel

         /  August 22, 2014

        Growth Shock is THE book for a holistic approach to society that addresses both climate change and over production issues, by creating a whole socio-psychological foundation. I normally don’t read those types of books any more because they say the same things over and over, but took a shot because of his excellent research. Robert truly sets forth the vision in a whole different way.

        Before I read it, I too thought he came across as too technological cornucopian and read this blog mainly for the climate stuff, but that book shows he completely gets it,

        Robert, hopefully you start incorporating the full vision more, because I do think it’d help get people more focused! It’s also why I needle you so much. Your understanding is so much more comprehensive than just talking about policy, because policy requires at least 50+1 to get through and these days, there seems to be no correlation between popularity and reality (it’s quantitatively a plutocracy

        I really do feel what you do about policy, in that it’s truly needed and without it there is no way to square the fossil fuel circle; but I view policy as a product of social shift, not the purpose. It is a strategy for carrying out intent, not intent in itself. There are mainly that are exactly like pinata is saying, where they respond quite negatively because they know intent needs to change and are dismayed by the lack of holistic thinking by those who are dedicating themselves to the issue.

        Growth Shock sets down a purpose and path that would inspire many.

        Maybe instead of deleting stuff like 1C MAX, you should put it in moderation until they buy and read your book. Help sales and help them!

      • Growth Shock was about defining and confronting boundary limits.

        I view things from a problem solving perspective, not ideologically. Some in the anti growth crowd seem to be unaware that some boundary limits are more permeable than others. Others are completely anti technology which I find entirely impractical.

        My goal is to push for negative materials consumption growth, negative population growth, but positive innovations and efficiencies growth. In other words, push the lifestyles and tech aimed at reducing impact and consumption all while working to help people live better, more fulfilled and empowered lives.

        Break the chain of captive consumption. Decouple energy from fossil fuels. Lighten industry, plug it into living systems. Build processes that are more and more life supportive than life destructive.

        But if you expect me to cowtow to a mantra that is, at times, inaccurate in its assessment of what are plainly solutions, just because it’s part of the anti growth tribe, then you’re going to be disappointed.

      • mikkel

         /  August 22, 2014

        “As we learn to love, care for, and treat each other as equals, we will also learn to work in ways that are less destructive to the natural world. To do this, we must change our methods, our communications, our morals, our laws and our outlook.”

        That is the definition of ideology. The book is highly ideological and quite radical in that, I have no idea why you push away from this obviousness. In the section about living technology you explicitly note the role of communication and technology in creating the underpinnings of society; and how both of these are directly reflective of the belief systems that go into it.

        Goals are just destinations of the paths that ideology sets. Putting a goal first and saying there is no ideology not only is not inspiring, but provides no guidance.

        To conflate ideology as blind tribalism is the gravest of errors, for ideology is the framework for shared belief and thus argumentation. All education, critical evaluation and discourse comes from argumentation, so it is precisely the anti-growth tribe in which you have the most power to be incisive about. And it is precisely ideology in which you will find converts that are provided the mental clarity to expound on their own fears and hopes.

        • In Growth Shock, I advance my own philosophical perspective, and one I believe that links up well with current environmentalism/conservationism. This perspective is based on what I believe with be best going forward. I’m going to make a value judgement and say my ideology is better than base doomerism, corporatism, and extreme anti-technological thinking. One and three are easy to be co-opted to serve the interests of two. And, since I’m interested in solutions rather than continuing to fight unwinnable fights, I’m advancing an alternative point of view.

          However, all distractions aside, when it comes to bare facts RE renewable energy, It’s pretty plain that the pessimists are wrong on many points. And, in fact, the pessimist rhetoric jibes quite well with misinformation also put out by fossil fuel special interests.

          In any case, I am not at all ashamed to advance an ideology that competes with traditional industrialism, even as it co-opts some of its parts while it jettisons its more harmful aspects.

          As for what is blind… it’s entirely blind to assume the pessimists are correct on renewable energy, especially when facts keep proving them wrong. New energy denialism. Quite similar, I think, to climate change denialism.

    • Mikkel and I are not two instances of the same person! 🙂

      We just agree completely even though I have not read your book. I think it is safe to say that both of us are fans. I will get the book today.

      • Let’s see…

        1. Extreme renewable energy pessimism.
        2. Denial of benefits of veganism vegetarianism.
        3. Laissez faire thinking.
        4. Attacks against liberals.

        The conservatives would thank both you and Mikkel.

  10. Colorado Bob

     /  August 21, 2014

    The maps-

    Record decline of ice sheets
    For the first time scientists map elevation changes of Greenlandic and Antarctic glaciers

  11. RWood

     /  August 21, 2014

    Re: Not Even Thinking About It, maybe just a bit
    I think there’s disinforn here:
    Though I’m not able to closely confront, there is a giant passive case for the phenomena.

    • Greg Smith

       /  August 21, 2014

      Tom Wagner of NASA blew it. He was handed the opportunity several times in this interview to make a case about the dangers of climate change and carbon emissions and instead he shared his fascination with science and holes in the ground. Disappointing.

      • Yeah, I think we need to be very clear about the link between human warming and these holes. That’s the elephant in the room. They are fascinating, but we need to put things in context for people. Tell the story.

      • Apneaman

         /  August 22, 2014

        Careerist right to the bitter end.

    • Pretty decent with some downplaying of the issue…

      I guess Tom didn’t get the news that methane levels at the bottom of the hole were near 10% atmospheric or that we have ejecta outside the sink hole or that eyewitnesses describe the ground basically exploding…

      Ah well, what can you expect? The scientific community is reticent.

  12. Andy (at work)

     /  August 21, 2014

    Has anyone determined the salt water encroachment ratio on a coastal geology due to increase in the ocean height? For example, per millimeter raised, the extra pressure pushes salt water further inland by X centimeters for sedimentary geology, thereby displacing the fresh water / salt water boundary by Y centimeters, therefore moving usable fresh water inland by Z centimeters.

    I would think a calculation on this would be helpful for planning in low lying areas (ie: Florida, Bangladesh), as well as for assisting in river delta regions where the fresh / salt mixing zone would push further inland.

    Calculated projections of ocean rise could then be roughly equated to social effects such as agriculture, water supplies, estuary contamination (die offs), sewer system degradation and other effects with a rough “when” (very rough of course at first).

  13. Gerald Spezio

     /  August 21, 2014

    Salt water intrusion into fresh water wells has been an escalating problem in Florida for the last fifty years.
    Wells that are too close to the ocean routinely get contaminated, & must be abandoned.
    The problem will now go completely bonkers.
    One foot of vertical sea level rise equals 100 feet horizontally.

    • Thanks Gerald for that correlation.

      2 mm per year = ~0.08″. That would equate to 8″ / year.

      At an elevated 12 mm/year we would then see 4 feet / year intrusion (~40 feet / decade ).

      It would likely be in fits & starts as equilibrium and back pressure are overcome.

  14. Colorado Bob

     /  August 21, 2014

    Landslides hit Japan’s Hiroshima, killing at least 36
    About 240 mm (9 inches) of rain fell in the area in the 24 hours up to Wednesday morning, a record-breaking level equivalent to a month’s worth of rain in a usual August, the Meteorological Agency said. Roughly half of that rain fell in one hour on Wednesday.

  15. I keep an eye out for ozone data, mostly for ground level O3 and NOX. I came across this piece on upper level O3 worth sharing. It’s a little more atmospheric gaseous chemistry to keep things lively — as if wasn’t, already. Ha.

    ‘Earth’s Atmosphere Contains an Unexpectedly Large Amount of Ozone-Depleting Compound’

    NASA research shows Earth’s atmosphere contains an unexpectedly large amount of an ozone-depleting compound from an unknown source decades after the compound was banned worldwide.

    Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), which was once used in applications such as dry cleaning and as a fire-extinguishing agent, was regulated in 1987 under the Montreal Protocol along with other chlorofluorocarbons that destroy ozone and contribute to the ozone hole over Antarctica. Parties to the Montreal Protocol reported zero new CCl4 emissions between 2007-2012.

    However, the new research shows worldwide emissions of CCl4 average 39 kilotons per year, approximately 30 percent of peak emissions prior to the international treaty going into effect.

    “We are not supposed to be seeing this at all,” said Qing Liang, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the study. “It is now apparent there are either unidentified industrial leakages, large emissions from contaminated sites, or unknown CCl4 sources.”

    • Good old radical oxygen species. Toxic trouble that.

      CCl4 I’m betting is coming from Asia…

      • Which Industries Use This Chemical?

        Laboratory Chemicals
        Machinery Mfg and Repair
        Pharmaceuticals Mfg
        Pulp and Paper Manufacture
        Rubber Manufacture
        Wood Stains and Varnishes

        With industrial dumping in the Far East, the release of CCl4 from these industries is quite possible. And there are giant presences of some of these in China (electronics, furniture, printing,semiconductors).

      • On a side note: we put a lot of varied chemicals and compounds into the chemistry of an atmosphere under siege. Now, with extra ash, gases and smoke, etc from fires — plus moisture from warming oceans I wonder if, or how many, new compounds are formed when all of these element recombine in this new atmospheric medium. It’s just a thought.
        But I did observe, in Santa Barbara, CA, after a significant buildup of soot and traffic dust upon the landscape — how asphalt and its components would change under varying conditions. It acted like it didn’t know whether to be a gas, a solid, or a liquid.
        Asphalt and it’s sealants are petroleum, or bitumen, based. The dry soot and traffic dust would mix liquid crankcase, and diesel/gasoline drippings — settle on the asphalt, and things would change.
        I won’t fill up this post by adding a lot of details but it makes the point that many related substances and compounds are only a few molecules away from becoming, or mimicking, one another. It may, or may not be happening in the atmosphere but it’s something I think about.
        Whew! That is all. Over and out.

  16. Colorado Bob

     /  August 21, 2014

    Cause of global warming hiatus found deep in the Atlantic Ocean

    Following rapid warming in the late 20th century, this century has so far seen surprisingly little increase in the average temperature at the Earth’s surface. At first this was a blip, then a trend, then a puzzle for the climate science community.

    More than a dozen theories have now been proposed for the so-called global warming hiatus, ranging from air pollution to volcanoes to sunspots. New research from the University of Washington shows that the heat absent from the surface is plunging deep in the north and south Atlantic Ocean, and is part of a naturally occurring cycle. The study is published Aug. 22 in Science.


    • This is exactly what we would expect. Added heat going to the deep ocean as the circulation cycles and changes. Not a good result. We trade atmospheric heat for an ocean killing mechanism.

  17. Colorado Bob

     /  August 21, 2014

    63 trillion gallons of groundwater lost in drought, study finds

    The ongoing drought in the western United States has caused so much loss of groundwater that the Earth, on average, has lifted up about 0.16 inches over the last 18 months, according to a new study.

    The situation was even worse in the snow-starved mountains of California, where the Earth rose up to 0.6 inches.

    Researchers from UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the U.S. Geological Survey estimated the groundwater loss from the start of 2013 to be 63 trillion gallons — the equivalent of flooding four inches of water across the United States west of the Rocky Mountains.


  18. Colorado Bob

     /  August 21, 2014

    Climate change: meteorologists preparing for the worst

    Intense aerial turbulence, ice storms and scorching heatwaves, huge ocean waves—the world’s climate experts forecast apocalyptic weather over the coming decades at a conference in Montreal that ended Thursday.

    To do so, meteorologists will need to use supercomputers to run the increasingly complex algorithms to predict weather.

    British researcher Paul Williams studies the impact of climate change on jetstreams using one such computer at Princeton University in New Jersey.

    After weeks of calculations, he concluded that climate change amplifies the strength of these narrow bands of predominantly westerly air currents encircling the globe several miles above the earth.

    By 2050, he said, airline passengers will experience twice as much in-flight turbulence as a result.

    Meanwhile on the high seas, monster waves will await cargo and cruise ships.

    “Maritime shipping companies are already running into enormous waves,” some as high as 40 meters (130 feet), said Wang, adding that 20 meters (65 feet) high was considered exceptionally high until now.

    “This is just the beginning of climate change, because the oceans will have an even greater impact releasing more heat and vapor,” he warned.

    Read more at:Link

    • I believe it.
      But I hope it makes on the local newscasts? You know, “Traffic and weather, up next.” 30 seconds of weather with traffic up first. Ha.Traffic is killing the weather.
      I wonder if airline pilots will ever wake up to all this, and raise hell. Probably not, they’re jobs are part of the fossil fuel problem.

    • Phase two is when the Jet gets amped up. We’re in the doldrums now, if you could call it that.

  19. Colorado Bob

     /  August 22, 2014

    Sunlight controls the fate of carbon released from thawing Arctic permafrost

    ANN ARBOR—Just how much Arctic permafrost will thaw in the future and how fast heat-trapping carbon dioxide will be released from those warming soils is a topic of lively debate among climate scientists.

    To answer those questions, scientists need to understand the mechanisms that control the conversion of organic soil carbon into carbon dioxide gas. Until now, researchers believed that bacteria were largely responsible.

    But in a study scheduled for online publication in Science on Aug. 21, University of Michigan researchers show for the first time that sunlight, not microbial activity, dominates the production of carbon dioxide in Arctic inland waters.

    “Our results suggest that sunlight, rather than biological processes, controls the fate of carbon released from thawing permafrost soils into Arctic surface waters,” said aquatic geochemist Rose Cory, first author of the Science paper and an assistant professor in the U-M Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

    Last year, the same team reported in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences that recently exposed carbon from thawed Alaskan permafrost is extremely sensitive to sunlight and can quickly be converted to carbon dioxide. Taken together, the two studies suggest that “we’re likely to see more carbon dioxide released from thawing permafrost than people had previously believed,” Cory said.

    “We’re able to say that because we now know that sunlight plays a key role and that carbon released from thawing permafrost is readily converted to carbon dioxide once it’s exposed to sunlight,” she said.


    • Colorado Bob

       /  August 22, 2014

      To test that assumption, Cory and her colleagues analyzed water samples collected from 135 lakes and 73 rivers on the North Slope of Alaska over a three-year period. They compared the levels of sunlight-induced carbon processing—also called photodegradation, photochemical oxidation or photochemical processing—to carbon conversion due to bacterial respiration.

      They found that photodegradation of carbon exceeded bacterial respiration by up to 19-fold, accounting for 70-to-95 percent of the carbon processed in Arctic lakes and rivers. They determined that photochemical processing of soil carbon accounts for about one-third of all the carbon dioxide released from surface waters in the Arctic.

      • Colorado Bob

         /  August 22, 2014

        In virtually all of the freshwater systems they measured, however, sunlight was always faster than bacteria at converting the organic carbon into CO2.

        “This is because most of the fresh water in the Arctic is shallow, meaning sunlight can reach the bottom of any river – and most lakes – so that no dissolved organic carbon is kept in the dark,” said Crump, an associate professor in Oregon State’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. “Also, there is little shading of rivers and lakes in the Arctic because there are no trees.”

        Another factor limiting the microbial contribution is that bacteria grow more slowly in these cold, nutrient-rich waters.

        “Light, therefore, can have a tremendous effect on organic matter,” University of Michigan’s Cory pointed out.

  1. At Least 20-75 Feet of Sea Level Rise Already Locked In — Putting Climate Central’s Surging Seas Into Context | robertscribbler

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