Greenland’s Late August Rain Over Melt Ponds is a Glacial Outburst Flood Hazard

Glacial melt ponding on steep ice faces. Above freezing temperatures for an extended period. Storms delivering rainfall to the glacier surface.

These three events are a bad combination and one that, until recently, we’ve never seen before for Greenland. It is a set of circumstances directly arising from a human-driven warming of the great ice sheet. And it is one that risks a highly violent and energetic event in which melt ponds over-top and glaciers are flushed and ripped apart by surges of water rushing for scores of miles over and through the ice sheet. Major melt pulse events called glacier outburst floods that can result in catastrophically large volumes of water and broken ice chunks issuing from the towering, melting glaciers of Greenland and Antarctica.

It’s a risk we face now, as the circumstances driving the risk of such an event are present today.

Rain over Ice on August 21, 2014

Over the past four days a high amplitude wave in the Jet Stream and coordinate domes of high pressure over Greenland have delivered well above average temperatures for the great Northern Hemisphere ice sheet. Near and just to the east of the Jakobshavn glacier on the West Coast of Greenland, temperatures have ranged between 5 and 10 degrees Celsius above average.

Greenland Temperatures August 21Rain over Greenland Melt Ponds on August 21, 2014

(GFS temperature and rainfall analysis for Greenland on August 21, 2014. Note the above freezing temperatures and rainfall over the region of the Jacobshavn Glacier for today. Image source: University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer.)

What this means is a persistence of average temperatures in the range of 34-40 degrees (F) over large sections of Greenland’s Jakobshavn glacier. Melt level readings over a region that has now experienced ongoing surface ponding for more than 60 days.

But these warm temperatures, providing yet more heat forcing to melt the ice, aren’t the only extreme weather factor for the Jakobshavn glacier today. For today has brought with it a warm, wet over-riding airmass emerging from Baffin Bay and the Atlantic Ocean to the south. The warm air, coming into contact with the cooler glacier air is condensing and disgorging a series of rainstorms, dumping above-freezing water into the Jakobshavn’s already swelling pools.

Some of these effects are directly visible in the LANCE MODIS satellite imagery provided by NASA.

Glacial melt ponds are indicated in the satellite shot below by light-to-dark blue splotches on the glacier surface. Shallow surface melt ponding and pooling is indicated by a thin skein of light blue. In the left frame below, you can see the extensive and large melt ponds in the region of the Jakobshavn Glacier on August 18, 2014. For reference, the largest of these ponds are between 2 and 4 kilometers across. Also note the pale blue color of the ice near the larger ponds, indicating extensive smaller ponds in the region.

In the right frame, we have today’s LANCE-MODIS satellite shot. You will note that the entire frame is covered by cloud but that you can still see the blue undertone of the melting glacier below the rain-bearing clouds.

Melt Ponds, Jakobshavn August 18Rain over Melt Ponds

(LANCE MODIS satellite shot of the Jakobshavn Glacier on August 18 [left frame] and August 20 [right frame]. Note the widespread melt ponds and blue ice indicating smaller ponds over the glacier structure. Image source: LANCE MODIS.)

Assessing Glacial Outburst Flood Risk

Some day, as Greenland continues to warm under the human heat forcing and as more hot air invasions ride up over the ice sheet, a period of warmth followed by rainstorms may well set off a major outburst flood event. The water content in melt ponds over the glacier may well be far greater than what we see now and a series of over topping events, starting higher on the ice sheet and magnifying toward the ice sheet base, would set of a chain of events leading to such a flood.

Risks for this kind of event today may well be moderate to low. The glaciers at this point are craggy and much of the flood waters shunt through holes in the ice to water pockets or to the glacier base. But eventually, as the glacier contains more water through subsequent years of melt, flooding and damming will be more prevalent throughout the ice sheet. And so risks will likely be on the rise.

Other than similar events occurring in the Himilayas, we don’t really have much of a context by which to judge risk for large Greenland outburst flood events. We do know that melt ponding is now quite extensive in this region and we do know that the glacier itself is rather unstable — moving with rapid speed toward the ocean and containing pockets of melted water from past melt pond formation over the last two decades.

For today, I’m pointing out the current rainfall over ice and melt ponding event as part of a larger and dangerous trend, one that is likely to play a primary role in the pace and violence of Greenland melt going forward.

zodiac on greenland melt pond

(Photograph of a zodiac on the surface of one of Greenland’s very large melt ponds. Image source: Earth Observatory.)

Links:

University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer

LANCE MODIS

The Glacial Megaflood

Leave a comment

168 Comments

  1. How on earth do you sleep well at night?

    Reply
    • It used to be that Stephen King would keep me awake at night. Horror stories don’t scare me anymore. Climate change does, though.

      Reply
    • Griffin

       /  August 21, 2014

      Shoot, I don’t sleep at night and I just read this blog, not have to sift through mountains of data for hours to write it! I also find it incredibly addicting and strangely soothing. This stuff is happening around me if I know why or not. By reading this fascinating blog and the incredibly worthwhile comments of it’s readers, I learn more about what is going on here than I do anywhere else. I might be scared, but at least now I have a much better idea of what is coming. I also know that I am not alone in feeling the urge to do something to educate those around me. Everyone here, and especially Robert, helps me to stand strong in my convictions that the time to change is now. I have changed, and I would like to think that the creation of climate activists is one of the best compliments the blog can have. The fear has been put to work.

      Reply
      • Apneaman

         /  August 22, 2014

        ” I also find it incredibly addicting” It’s because your getting dopamine hits, Griffin. Perfectly normal human reaction. To be a real addiction it would have to negatively affect other important areas of your life, especially your relationships and health.

        Reply
      • Griffin

         /  August 23, 2014

        Thanks Apneaman. It’s good to know it’s normal. It sure does keep me coming back for more. I think it has been a positive influence in my relationships. Reading this blog is a sure fire way to be reminded that I need to smile and enjoy today, because tomorrow might really suck.

        Reply
    • I didn’t sleep well for a time, then I became depressed, then looked closely at Kurzweil’s singularity (bargaining), then became angry (was cured of that by asking myself, “Who are you going to shoot?”).

      A population in overshoot shrinks.

      Reply
      • I have 7kw of PV solar capacity installed at my place, but the smartest thing I ever did was install solar thermal for heating the house, shop, and greenhouse. Solar thermal technology whether you use vacuum tubes or the simpler flat copper plates is wonderful.

        Reply
  2. Damn, that’s serious.

    Reply
  3. A quibble:

    “Other than similar events occurring in the Himilayas, … ” should be “Other than similar events occurring in the Himilayas, and Andes …”

    _______
    “GLOF, in the scientific vernacular, is short for glacial lake outburst flood , or as it is known in Icelandic jökulhaup: the sudden expulsion of meltwater from a glacier. This one had come in the summer of 1986 when a glacial lake breached its ice dam. Prior to 1986, big coihue groves had occupied much of this valley floor. What remains are busted-up tree stumps all tilted downstream in the direction of the flow.”

    Childs, Craig (2012-10-02). Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Everending Earth (p. 46). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

    Reply
    • Definitely a quibble. The Himalaya events provide somewhat comparable scale and are directly related to climate change. The Icelandic events often coincide with volcanic outbursts, but that is likely changing as well. In any case, we haven’t seen anything like what could happen in Greenland.

      Reply
  4. Mark from New England

     /  August 21, 2014

    If you didn’t tell us (and we don’t look too closely), that water picture could be of the Caribbean. A bit colder and fresher though.

    Reply
  5. Things are rapidly unfolding. Thanks for being quick with the posts, Robert. And thanks, to those commenting. It’s rapid response problem solving at its finest.

    Reply
    • Am going to be camping in Shenandoah for my anniversary. Will be in for comments now and then. Otherwise back on Monday🙂

      Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  August 22, 2014

        Have a great time. We’ve got plenty to discuss for a bit…

        Reply
      • You deserve it– some of my group are in Richmond for the weekend to work on VA’s problems, how to recruit new people, especially young people, into the movement. I always advise everyone I meet to read your blog. Have fun but don’t break a leg ’cause my son-in-law who does high angle rescue is at the OBX!

        Reply
        • 🙂

          Thanks Joni and congrats for the great work! Hope all went well with the recruiting.

          It poured at Big Meadows so my wife and I were soaked, but had a ball nonetheless.

  6. james cole

     /  August 21, 2014

    A few years ago on a return trip from Sweden after visiting family, my Iceland Air flight took the usual flight path over Greenland in early Sept. These glacial melt lakes and rivers dominated the entire landscape of glacier. The turquoise blue waters are simply breathtaking in their beauty on the white background. A beautiful sight that hides the deadly evidence those water represent to us all.
    Since my first visit to Europe was way back in the late 1980’s I have first hand experience to compare Greenland circa 1988 with Greenland circa 2010. My flights have always been in September so the times match up and the differences I have seen are not calendar related. I have pictures taken of the Greenland Glaciers inland expanse in the late 80’s. What I saw was white expanse. I don’t recall melt lakes, but they must have existed but not the part I was seeing. But now in these days, the entire surface is nothing but these melt lakes and rivers. Too many to ever count. There is no doubt form eyewitness evidence that Greenland is undergoing a huge melt, and that it is very recent.
    The pace at which this is happening is nothing like I read about in early days global warming science! Talk was of 2100 we would see the start of major melt up there.

    One question. Is it true that in the late 1800’s, perhaps 1880’s, that a scientist using basic physics predicted the CO2 and it’s global warming impact as a real possibility? I heard a quick mention on the radio about this , but had missed the real program. The scientist on the radio seemed to be saying that someone early as 1800’s did the science , as far as it was possible at that date, and predicted the fossil fuel impacts even then.

    Reply
    • Griffin

       /  August 21, 2014

      My goodness, your story is amazing. I can’t imagine the memories you have of flying over Greenland. Thanks for sharing that. Svante Arrhenius is the scientist you may be thinking of.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svante_Arrhenius

      Reply
      • Interestingly Arrhenius also argued that they should consider putting coal seams on fire deliberately to fill the atmosphere with more CO2 so that climate would improve in Sweden. I guess his wishes came true, it only took some serious effort from industrial civilization.

        Reply
    • My first trip with a stop over in Greenland was around 1972 in June. It was bitterly cold, cloud covered and I saw one shrub for foliage. It reminded me of central British Columbia in early December or mid-February.

      Reply
    • James, regarding the CO2 prediction you are correct. It was the early 1800’s initially. I’m sure someone else has great details on it (I don’t). Tell that to Rush! (bloody liberals have been conspiring for 200 yrs with them evil scientists!).

      I always respect the laws of physics.

      Reply
    • Yes. That would be Arhenius. He also provided the basis for understanding climate sensitivity to CO2 heat forcing. Although, then he believed it would take thousands of years for humans to observably affect the atmosphere.

      Reply
      • I guess if Arrhenius has the capability to hear Albert Bartlett lecture on humanities inability to understand the exponential formula, he might have changed his views on humanities effect. I doubt people back then would think that there would be 7 billion people on the planet now and the insane growth of fossil fuel extraction and burning.

        Reply
    • lesliegraham1

       /  August 23, 2014

      Tyndall was (I think) the first person to show that CO2 blocked infra red in the 1850’s.
      Arrhenius is more famous for calculating the global warming that would result from a doubling of CO2. He did that in 1896.
      But way before that it was a French dude by name of Jean Fourier who figured out that there must be some kind of ‘blanket’ effect caused by something in Earth’s atmosphere.
      That was in around 1820 IIRC
      All of these scientists started the great global warming swindle and only did the work to qualify for enough grant money to each buy a Ferrari, Tens of thousands of climate scientists in almost every country in the world have been faking the data ever since to get fund their lavish lifestyles. Fortunately they have finaly been rumbled by the fossil-fuel industry.

      Reply
  7. Looking at the melt extent on nsidc (which I am many of you folks have watched over the months) we see the peaks and valleys.

    I wonder how those peaks & valleys correlate to the behavior of the jet stream. And if in fact they do correlate to the motion and shifts of the jet stream, it could be back cast calculated through historical data to determine a trend.

    If the peaks occur during points where the jet stream pushes warm air up over the ice, and the valleys occur during the opposing jet stream dips then a ratio of localized jet stream pattern versus melt may exist. Amplitude, coverage and heat content of the upwelling peaks providing variables for input (some of). These would then be calculated such that melt extent is the base output (value/ratio to verify the back cast).

    Then the variables which are the inputs probably have historical data and trends. The trends could be applied for forward casting.

    If that resulted in a progression which has a trend, then perhaps a bit of coarse forecasting could be done for at least vulnerability. There of course could be no concrete projection (date/time/amount) as locations of peaks & hollows of the jet stream would be difficult to fore cast at best, impossible most likely. But a seasonal impact may be estimated, or at least a short term premonition.

    Furthermore, if a trend can be determined for the annual (or 10 yr step) for the delta shift in the jet stream behavior (peak, dip, heat content), that could provide another variable to back cast as well as forecast.

    Such a project would of course require further refinement via ocean heat impact, negative feedback due to melt etc…. but if one was twiddling with those variables then they are well onto something.

    Wish I had that kind of data & a zippy computer to feed these things, the code for such a thing I could barf out in my sleep.

    Just a thought.

    Good article Robert,those peaks have been troublesome, especially as one leaves both side of that bell curve. A sustained peak midpoint in the season could be a bad thing.

    Reply
  8. wili

     /  August 22, 2014

    “Arctic sea ice influenced force of Gulf Stream”

    “The force of the Gulf Stream was significantly influenced by the sea ice situation in the Fram Strait in the past 30,000 years. On the basis of biomarkers in deposits on the seafloor, geologists managed for the first time to reconstruct when and how the marine region between Greenland and Svalbard was covered with ice in the past and in what way the Gulf Stream reacted when the sea ice cover suddenly broke up.”

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140821115841.htm?utm_source=feedburner

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  August 22, 2014

      wili –

      That’s a hell of a paper, nice catch.

      Reply
      • wili

         /  August 22, 2014

        Thanks, COBob. More here on the interaction between ocean, ice and climate over the eons: https://www.skepticalscience.com/ancient-ocean-currents-changed-ice-ages.html

        “…the deep ocean currents that move heat around the globe stalled or may have stopped at that time, possibly due to expanding ice cover in the Northern Hemisphere.

        “The research is a breakthrough in understanding a major change in the rhythm of Earth’s climate, and shows that the ocean played a central role,” says Candace Major, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s Division of Ocean Sciences.”

        Reply
  9. Colorado Bob

     /  August 22, 2014

    Sweden floods at ‘catastrophic levels’

    Floodwaters in parts of central Sweden are said by emergency workers to be at “catastrophic levels”, with more rain expected to make things worse by the weekend.

    http://www.euronews.com/2014/08/21/sweden-floods-at-catastrophic-levels/

    Reply
    • Problem is that in Norway and Sweden, media are not calling these by their real name, the effect of climate change. There have been some movement within insurance companies though as they have put forward statistics showing a great rise in damage from flooded basements and whatnot. A lot of the “contrarians” (really AGW deniers) keep saying that this is because people are building houses in the wrong places… duh. The problem is that these places have never experienced these kinds of rainfalls, and certainly some areas have been hit by floods more times in this past decade than the 100 years before.

      I wonder when people will wake up…

      Reply
  10. Colorado Bob

     /  August 22, 2014

    (LANCE MODIS satellite shot of the Jakobshavn Glacier on August 18 [left frame]

    Note the ‘dark ice’ in this shot .

    Reply
  11. Colorado Bob

     /  August 22, 2014

    Aqua/MODIS
    2014/232
    08/20/2014
    17:40 UTC

    Fires in central Brazil

    Reply
  12. 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.

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-08/uom-sct081514.php

    Reply
  13. Colorado Bob

     /  August 22, 2014

    It’s still raining in Japan –

    The Japan Meteorological Agency recorded 217.5 millimeters, or more than eight inches, of rain in three hours in Hiroshima city’s Asakita Ward, the largest amount of rainfall seen in the area since records began in 1976. The region experienced floods and mudslides of a similar scale in 1999 that killed 31 people.

    http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/08/20/unusually-wet-summer-brings-floods-landslides-across-japan/

    Reply
  14. Colorado Bob

     /  August 22, 2014

    The study indicates that Neanderthals died out in Europe 10,000 years earlier than previously thought – between 41,000 and 39,000 years ago. This is the most accurate date obtained so far for the extinction, and it coincides with the start of a very cold period in Europe.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-28693371

    This cold period was a 10C drop in just a decade .

    Reply
    • Mark from New England

       /  August 22, 2014

      What a sudden drop! Is that the ‘Younger Dryas’ period of renewed glaciation, or is that later?

      Reply
    • That was a regional change though, due to a circulation change? Although admittedly over a large region and a profound effect in that region. Some people think it might have happened in under a year, if memory serves. A lesson about the potential scope for truly abrupt and far reaching changes in the climate even without being an accurate analog for the modern day case.

      Reply
  15. Bernard

     /  August 22, 2014

    “Climate change is driving the Greenland Ice Sheet to melt, which is contributing to sea level rise. But imagine that the same amount of water melting from Greenland each year is being lost in California and the rest of the West because of the epic drought there.”

    “What happens? The land in the West begins to rise.”

    “But, Jacob said, the significance of the study is that it shows a new way for scientists to estimate total water loss during times of drought, which would be more difficult to estimate without being able to detect how much the land is being uplifted in dry years.”

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/epic-drought-in-west-is-literally-moving-mountains/

    Are we going to see an increase in tremors in this region?

    Reply
  16. Kevin Jones

     /  August 22, 2014

    Hmmmm, Benard. Greenland has seen an upsurge in ice quakes… Drought quakes?

    Reply
    • Bernard

       /  August 22, 2014

      The reason I made that last comment is because CA is known for its underground activity, anything on this scale (groundwater consumption in Ca.) will probably have an impact.

      But the reason I posted the link in the first place is to indicate that legislation in Cal. re groundwater management (restricted access to documents) will possibly become less of a nuissance for the scientific community if they have this tool.

      Reply
  17. Kevin Jones

     /  August 22, 2014

    Nothing is nothing. Inuit saying

    Reply
  18. Has the Atlantic Ocean Stalled Global Warming?
    New research suggests that heat trapped by atmospheric greenhouse gases is getting buried in the Atlantic.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/08/140821-global-warming-hiatus-climate-change-ocean-science/

    Reply
  19. eugene

     /  August 22, 2014

    I flew over Greenland, 3-4 times, in the mid 1970s, at about 25,000, and saw nothing but white. Was an awesome sight. I attended my first climate change talk in 1982 so have been watching this for some time. I was in Nome, AK, late 1990s and was told things “greened up” two weeks earlier than in the past. Lived in Alaska-mid 90s to mid 2000s- and saw plenty of changes going on there. Beetle kill of American west/BC is a mind blower in itself.

    Some time ago, I stopped trying to talk to people about climate change. Just made them mad and I got tired of arguing. In the process, I decided this is all a done deal so now just watch. I now live in northern Minnesota where climate change is scarcely talked about. I find it very difficult for people to think in the abstract so to speak. If it’s not happening in their front yard, it ain’t happening. Me telling stories of what I’ve seen has zero impact. Like others, I come here daily to find others who see it coming. I appreciate the input of others.

    Reply
    • From what I understand, the beetle kill is now in the Yukon Territory. I’m with you on not discussing this with folks who don’t understand.

      Reply
    • Griffin

       /  August 22, 2014

      It would be great to here some of your stories of how things have changed Eugene. So many folks on here have seen amazing changes. I can only speak for myself but I really enjoy hearing them. They are the real stories of the change we are seeing every day and they never get old for me.

      Reply
    • Apneaman

       /  August 23, 2014

      I hear ya, Eugene. Does not go down well on that first and only date either. Maybe someone could start a dating site “Doomer-Singles.com”

      Reply
  20. Colorado Bob

     /  August 22, 2014

    Indonesia’s forests so damaged they burn whether or not there’s drought

    The research, led by David Gaveau of the Center for International Forestry Research in Indonesia, assessed greenhouse gas emissions from fires that burned for a week in June 2013. While the fires were short-lived and almost entirely (82 percent) concentrated on already deforested lands representing less than 2 percent of Indonesia’s land mass they released 172 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, or up to 10 percent of the country’s annual greenhouse gas emissions. The reason for the large emissions was 84 percent of the burning occurred on peatlands, which store massive amounts of carbon in their soils.

    Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2014/0821-deforested-forest-fires-riau.html#ZG5K5jfwSfQeEU9e.99

    Reply
  21. Kevin Jones

     /  August 22, 2014

    Griffin. Here’s one. In mid-January ’07 I took a walk from a rural shack through the woods to a 5 acre pond. Thought of bringing my ice skates. (Southwestern NH). Warm, blustery, absolutely bare ground. When I arrived at the shore the pond was 90% ice-free–just a skimming at the south end where the trees shaded the low sun angle. I pushed off in the neighborhood canoe and spent a couple hours letting the breeze push me around,even into the 1/4″ ice and back out. Strange beyond words. Any other year at that time of it I should have been able to walk across. GISS shows Jan. 2007 the warmest global surface temp avg. yet. +.93C. (Eastern US +2-4C)

    Reply
    • Griffin

       /  August 23, 2014

      Warm winters scare me to death. Spring only gets one chance a year and I am very nervous about a bloom that is far too early. I was one of the few happy ones around here last year with the dreaded “polar vortex” being around. I knew the ticks were taking it in the shorts and the moose stood a chance for the first time in a while. I can’t imagine canoeing in NH in January. Such a clear signal of things being very wrong right at home. In some way you must have shared some of the same feelings as those in the far north that have taken to boats at times that their forefathers would never have thought possible.

      Reply
      • The polar vortex should shift to Greenland as time moves forward, this will probably bring some cooling to regions closer to Greenland. But there is a hot-cold battle zone that sets up along a line from Minnesota to the Southeast/Mid Atlantic, then shifts northward as time moves on.

        Reply
  22. Colorado Bob

     /  August 22, 2014

    CHICAGO (STMW) – Heavy rains have caused major flooding across much of the Chicago area overnight, especially near Midway International Airport, and in suburbs just south of Midway. At least one southwest suburban school district was forced to cancel classes at all its schools.

    According to the National Weather Service, 4.5 inches fell at Midway between midnight and 6 a.m.; with most of that rain — 3.6 inches — falling in a 40 minute span starting shortly after 2 a.m.

    http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2014/08/22/extensive-flooding-causes-major-delays-on-roads-cta-pace/

    Reply
  23. Kevin Jones

     /  August 22, 2014

    Lunch time at the banquet of consequences, Colorado Bob.

    Reply
  24. wili

     /  August 22, 2014

    Apologies if this was already posted and I missed it. As predicted, the Greenland ice sheet is now undergoing remarkable melt for this time of year: http://nsidc.org/greenland-today/
    Well over 2 standard deviations beyond the 1981-2010 average.

    Reply
  25. If you look at null school & surface winds on climate reanalyzer it looks like quite the cyclonic wind structure just below Greenland. Also, if you look at the jet stream, it’s pretty much destroyed or non existent over N America & Russia.

    Reply
  26. Colorado Bob

     /  August 22, 2014

    atop a heap of useful data
    Posted on August 16, 2014 by Jason Box

    Camp Dark Snow spanned the 2014 Greenland melt season, with 59 days camping, 17 June to 14 August. We had very few logistical snags and our science objectives were met. We had strings of clear sky days, followed by rain, sometimes heavy, to evaluate the time evolution of ice reflectivity.
    We managed 26 UAV missions that fill the intermediate scale between our point measurements and that from satellite. Marek delivered a heavy box of ice samples to Copenhagen. On camp for most days, Karen developed a regular 2 day routine that has delivered for example 2,262 spectral reflectance point measurements as part of 29 surveys. The count of microbiological cell counts is staggering.
    Coptering over moulins produced some video useful in communicating a video we call “follow the water” I presented at the AGU in 2013 and that will appear soon as a from Peter Sinclair. Several videos are in production to be shared in coming days, weeks, months.

    http://darksnow.org/

    Reply
  27. Colorado Bob

     /  August 22, 2014

    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.

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

    Reply
    • Those people up there gathering this epic data are amazing.
      The geophysical dominoes are falling one by one, damn.

      Reply
    • ” Levels as high as 2367 ppb were reached at an altitude of 36,850 ft (11,232 m).”

      I read that article twice, and am still left with more questions than answers.

      ===============================================================

      How much methane was released in order to generate those kinds of readings that high in the atmosphere?

      Is this a newly observed phenomenon? Or has this occurred on this scale and was observed previously?

      What effect would that volume of methane have on local temperature?

      What effect would that volume of methane have on global temperature? And how slow/quick?

      Is there an underwater crater now?

      Do climate models have a variable (allowance) for these type of events?

      I have been seeing the latest news sound bite today that “the pause” will continue another 10 years. What impact does this event have on that claim?

      If one of these outbursts occur during the winter under the ice, what in the hell will it do?

      ===================================================================

      Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  August 23, 2014

        Andy –
        Hell of set of questions . The real take away is that part of the Earth is changing the fastest. I have long thought as a work of fiction , a ship sailing into one of these releases and touching off an explosion and the sea continues to burn for weeks.

        I was in a gasoline vapor fire once in Utah , we had fire under 120 lbs. of 60% high velocity nitropel. When the vapors ignite , it makes a “wump” sound . And all the vapor is consumed in a flash. Then any thing wet with gasoline is burning.

        That night, my helper at the bar told me :
        “Bob, I was gonna run , and I saw you fighting the fire, and I stayed.”

        And I said:
        “Whip, you couldn’t have run far enough, parts of the drill would have removed your head.”

        Reply
      • It’s pretty clear that some methane, on the order of probably less than a megaton (0.5 Mt approx), hit the atmosphere in this region during this time. Not catastrophic, but does show a decent amount of methane venting from the ESAS region.

        We’ve been getting local methane emissions from the Arctic for some time, probably at least a few decades. Since the pheonomena hasn’t been studied, we don’t know how much the overall Arctic is increasing emissions. Studies from point sources such as methane lakes indicate an increasing trend of emissions. And estimates for total emissions from the ESAS region keep rising based on Shakhova’s findings.

        If this was a large release, say in the multi-megaton to gigaton range, you’d see spikes to many times current atmospheric concentrations. So it’s cause for concern but not, in a single event, catastrophic as yet.

        Reply
    • Pretty strong pulse for the region…

      Reply
  28. Colorado Bob

     /  August 23, 2014

    Heavy Rainfall Trends


    Yet another phenomenally intense rainfall event has occurred in the U.S. this morning (August 22nd) when 3.95” of rain in one hour was measured by a COOP observer at a site 3 miles southwest of Chicago’s Midway Airport. The return period for such at Midway Airport (according to NOAA’s ‘Precipitation Frequency Data Server’) is once in 500 years. This is similar to the Baltimore, Detroit, and Islip, New York events last week (although the Islip event was probably more in the range of once in a 1000 years). Brian Brettschneider of Borealis Scientific LLC has kindly offered this guest blog today featuring research he has done on heavy rainfall trends for 207 sites across the U.S. for a homogenous POR of 1949-2013.

    Link

    Reply
  29. I know that we need to stop burning carbon now. Once (If) that is achieved we still have the hangover.
    Is there a way we could we sequester the atmospheric carbon naturally? It really is something everyone can get involved in. I am not saying that it fixes everything and we are back to living in Wonderland, but it is a good simple start. Or am I dealing in Hopium?

    http://preppingforexile.blogspot.com/2014/08/fixing-permafrost-problem.html
    Love to hear some opinions.

    Reply
    • I have faith in human ingenuity, and I think as a species we can reduce the danger (we are committed to damage, but not total yet). We will exhaust all options before we do the right thing unfortunately.

      My thought on fixing this involves engineering fast growing plant species for different locales. Using something like Kudzu which grows at an insane rate which has been modified with some genetic sequences from mosses (or algae) which are very efficient at carbon removal/retention. Additional modifications to survive in such conditions as brackish water, low water, high heat, variable temperature ranges etc… These being allowed to spread in areas that have been compromised for human habitation. Use robots (solar powered) to remove dead material for disposal (burying perhaps).

      It’s a slower process than some giant machine that doesn’t exist, or pumping chemicals into the atmosphere. However I cringe when I see those proposals as I wonder what the side effect of more crap in the atmosphere is.

      I think only nature can fix this, but we can help.

      Reply
      • Griffin

         /  August 23, 2014

        Good point. I am sure that if energy (funding) was applied to the field of rapid vegetation growth for carbon sequestration, good things would come of it. We certainly have the holes in the ground to bury it in, and plenty of compromised land and ocean area in which to grow it too.

        Reply
      • Probably results in rather bad outcomes. Kudzu is already a forest destroyer. Imagine something more virulent.

        Reply
    • First, stop emissions. We will not stop emissions by emitting more. We would stop emissions by not burning carbon. We would not burn carbon to make solar panels, we would not burn carbon to make wind mills, we would not burn carbon in a box, or with a fox … we would not burn carbon Sam I Am.

      Given the above fiction – your plan works if the stuff (switch grass, hemp, the plants you recommended whatever) is grown using animal muscle and no commercial fertilizer and then returned to the soil. Otherwise, it is nonsense even if done in New South Wales.

      Reply
      • It is not nonsense if it gives time to transition to other energy sources, as the net effect of our choices can be a significant carbon sink. Particularly with soil enhancement. In that case we buy us time to move across to other strategies. We know that a transition, may involve more emissions, but by offsetting those we don’t make the situation worse.
        A lot of these solutions can be done with existing practices. The choice to purchase bamboo products over wood increases carbon sequestration dramatically with no increased emissions what is wrong with that?
        The enhancing of soil involves applying biochar and inoculation at the time of tilling the soil. It means few changes to practices again with large effect both in sequestration and yield.
        The choice to buy hemp products over cotton or synthetic fibres, is a simple one that immediately increases carbon sequestration on the scale of tonnes per ha.
        Given that people can do this in their backyard, I really fail to see the problem. Well there is actually a problem, this makes people personally responsible for our climate because we know that we can make a change, but we are guilty if we purchase differently. Much easier to blame the establishment. However, the establishment would not exist in its present form if we did not participate in its abomination.
        I know that there are other issues such as energy supply, but there are choices we can make there too. We just need to learn to choose differently and we need to buy some time for the situation to change. You have to start somewhere.

        Reply
        • Now hemp is a great natural carbon capture and storage medium. It is also an excellent source of biomass and raw material.

      • And here we go again…

        Pin. If we switch to renewables for power generation the net carbon emission is 90-95 percent less even if you use the current manufacturing chain.

        If we use biomass instead of coal to make steel, the net carbon emission is another 2-3 percent less.

        And if we equip the biomass/steel manufacturing operation with CCS, the net carbon emission is another 1-2 percent less.

        At that point, it’s not too hard to eliminate all the other carbon imputs in the manufacturing chain and make the whole process carbon negative.

        Now, will we produce as much steel? Probably not. But we could do to use less steel and recycle more.

        Reply
    • Actually Paul (now that I have vented), all “we” would need to do is look to our neighbors the Amish and Mennonites. No diesel, no fertilizer except for manure, and the grain stubble is returned to the earth thus sequestering the carbon. If you want to be fashionable, call it permaculture.

      (Yes, I know permaculture implies trees. It also implies that you live in the UK or in Appalachia. I live in a high mountain desert – no trees. I imagine that your world is a little short on hazel nut trees as well.)

      Reply
    • Go vegan universally and let about a third of the world’s ag land go back to forests, grasslands. This also reduces emissions from ruminants.

      Reduce human population over time and therefore land use.

      Use of biochar for agriculture is one method that is often advanced for increasing soil carbon capture.

      Reply
  30. I apologize to all since I fell back into anger again yesterday, and when I am angry, I have a mean streak. This is what set me back:

    I picked up the local newspaper and read the headline – New Solar Project in (mytown). “Great”, said i. Then I looked down into the article. They will produce 57 mw on 320 acres. “Great”, said i. Make some clean power and retire some farm land. In mytown there is more land than water, so farming less land makes sense. But then, my brain kicked in:

    320 acres is a half section, so on one square mile they could produce 104 mw. If the sun shines an average of 10 hours per day, they would make 1040 mw hours per day and about 380,000 megawatt hours per year per square mile. The world (per wikipedia) uses 19,320,236,620 MW h/yr and so, using real world data current world power production could be accomplished by paving over only about 51,000 square miles. An area the size of Alabama or Greece.

    At the current rate of growth (~4%) we would need:
    102000 square miles by 2032 (the size of the UK and Estonia)
    204000 square miles by 2050 (the size of spain)

    3,000,000 square miles of solar panels by 2122 (an area the size of Europe) with no end in sight.

    Growth is the problem.

    Reply
    • On average, about 1% of the total surface area is required to meet energy needs by 2050 if it’s all reliant on solar. Total rooftop area globally is more than sufficient.

      By comparison, the US highway system alone covers 40,000 square miles.

      Of course, solar is not going to be the only energy source. So you add in wind, hydro, biomass, probably some nuclear.

      As for growth. We hit negative population growth by mid century under current policies. We can and probably should hit that point sooner due to current impacts exceeding regenerative capacity.

      As for growth in energy consumption. I think it is more than doable to push greater reduction in net energy consumption per capita with a variety of measures.

      Reply
  31. Iceland Announces ‘Code Red’ Volcano Warning
    VOA News
    August 23, 2014 3:47 PM

    Iceland has raised the warning for aircraft to code red, its highest level, after a small volcanic eruption that has triggered fears that ash in the atmosphere could disrupt air travel.

    Iceland’s meteorological authority said on Saturday that an eruption has been detected beneath a glacier at the Bardarbunga volcano, where a series of earthquakes took place earlier this week.

    The “code red” warning signifies that an eruption is imminent or in progress. The Associated Press reports that aviation authorities have declared a no-fly zone around the volcano, but have not shut down Icelandic airspace.

    http://www.voanews.com/content/iceland-announces-code-red-volcano-warning/2425914.html

    Reply
  32. Kevin Jones

     /  August 23, 2014

    Well, Robert. Wonderfully engaged commentators. May I offer this?
    “Our mistake when we started the Anthropocene was to fail to notice that inadvertently we were the catalyst of the reaction between the carbon of coal and the oxygen of the air. I like to think of us as like the bacteria Bacillus subtilis, which feed on the new damp grass of a haystack; as they eat, the heat from their metabolism adds to that from the inorganic aerial oxidation of the grass. Deep in the stack and well insulated by the hay, these two heat sources raise the temperature and positive feedback accelerates the rise in temperature until the grass is hot enough to burst into flame, an example of so-called spontaneous combustion.”
    Before I reveal this author, allow me to remind those less scientifically literate, that had he not invented the electron capture device which led to the discovery of the atmospheric accumulation of long-lived CFC’s, which led other investigators to the science which predicted massive stratospheric ozone depletion before it was noticed,we’d all be too blind to read this. thank you, James Lovelock (age 95 excerpted from A Rough Ride to the Future 2014) I owe you my life. (in this I am not alone)

    Reply
    • Right, we owe him a great deal. Thanks for the reminder.
      And here’s a connection with the great work of Rachel Carson.

      ‘James Lovelock is the author of approximately 200 scientific papers, distributed almost equally among topics in Medicine, Biology, Instrument Science and Geophysiology. He has filed more than 50 patents, mostly for detectors for use in chemical analysis. One of these, the electron capture detector, was important in the development of environmental awareness. It revealed for the first time the ubiquitous distribution of pesticide residues and other halogen bearing chemicals. This information enabled Rachel Carson to write her book, Silent Spring, often said to have initiated the awareness of environmental disturbance. Later it enabled the discovery of the presence of PCB’s in the natural environment. More recently the electron capture detector was responsible for the discovery of the global distribution of nitrous oxide and of the chlorofluorocarbons, both of which are important in the stratospheric chemistry of ozone. Some of his inventions were adopted by NASA in their programme of planetary exploration. He was awarded by NASA three certificates of recognition for these.’

      Reply
  33. Kevin Jones

     /  August 23, 2014

    p.s. hat tip to Mark from New England who through discussion reminded me of my gratitude to the giants of yesteryear and the great ones who stood, others who stand and young ones climbing upon their shoulders…

    Reply
  34. Kevin Jones

     /  August 24, 2014

    Interesting piece just published in the New York Times by Robert Jay Lifton. The Climate Swerve. I will be at the United Nations HQ in NYC on the 21st of Sept. And I can think of one hundred reasons not to be. But I’m going…

    Reply
  35. Colorado Bob

     /  August 24, 2014

    Climate change and the methane crisis: Q & A with Harold Hensel

    In an interview with Harold Hensel, member of The Arctic Methane Emergency Group, I explore some serious questions about the rising threat of this deadly gas. Not only is methane being released in record amounts from thawing permafrost and under the oceans, but it also recently blew out of the earth in Siberia in at least 3 well documented events, creating massive craters that look like something right out of a Sci-Fi movie.

    http://www.examiner.com/article/climate-change-and-the-methane-crisis-q-a-with-harold-hensel

    Reply
  36. Side news:
    Inquiry into Galileo launch anomaly to focus on Fregat
    European and Russian engineers are studying the cause of Friday’s botched launch of two Galileo navigation satellites, with the initial focus of the investigation on the Soyuz rocket’s Russian-made Fregat upper stage, Arianespace announced Saturday.
    “According to the initial analyses, an anomaly is thought to have occurred during the flight phase involving the Fregat upper stage, causing the satellites to be injected into a noncompliant orbit,”
    http://spaceflightnow.com/soyuz/vs09/140823update/#.U_lnPGO0eLs

    Reply
  37. cowpoke

     /  August 24, 2014

    Please bare with me(complete buffoonery alert). If a planet like ours had a good pop of methane/volcanic/energetic release – Is there anyway that can alter the place the Earth holds in its orbit?

    Bobs Q & A with Harold Hensel got me daynightmaring. f-it, post comment.😉

    http://www.examiner.com/article/climate-change-and-the-methane-crisis-q-a-with-harold-hensel

    Reply
  38. Kevin Jones

     /  August 24, 2014

    Early reports of a 6.0 magnitude quake near San Francisco. Dare I ask Droughtguake?

    Reply
    • Griffin

       /  August 24, 2014

      I was wondering the same thing. I am sure that is not easy to pin down. I also wonder how it could not have at least some link to the massive load changes brought about by the depletion of the aquifers.

      Reply
      • Land changes/subsistence due to loss of water or change in ground water structures can add stress to faults. It would require a bit of active investigation to establish a causal link, though.

        Reply
      • Bernard

         /  August 26, 2014

        The epicenter is 6 to 7 miles below the surface, unlikely to be triggered by the movements caused by drought.

        Reply
  39. Behind the mysterious holes in Siberia

    Reply
  40. Eric Thurston

     /  August 24, 2014

    A hopeful editorial in the NYTimes: The Climate Swerve
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/24/opinion/sunday/the-climate-swerve.html

    Reply
  41. Colorado Bob

     /  August 24, 2014

    Numerous methane leaks found on Atlantic sea floor

    And up through the ground came a bubbling greenhouse gas. Researchers have discovered 570 plumes of methane percolating up from the sea floor off the eastern coast of the United States, a surprisingly high number of seeps in a relatively quiescent part of the ocean. The seeps suggest that methane’s contribution to climate change has been underestimated in some models. And because most of the seeps lie at depths where small changes in temperature could be releasing the methane, it is possible that climate change itself could be playing a role in turning some of them on.

    http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/2014/08/numerous-methane-leaks-found-atlantic-sea-floor

    Reply
    • Thanks, Colorado Bob. It’s well written. These few sentences on ocean acidification caught my eye:

      ‘Even in the more likely event that aerobic microbes devour the methane while still in the ocean, it is converted to carbon dioxide, which leads to ocean acidification. Some scientists have implicated runaway methane hydrate releases in the catastrophic extinctions of marine life at the Permian-Triassic boundary, 252 million years ago.’

      Reply
    • Griffin

       /  August 24, 2014

      “It only becomes interesting if you have a catastrophic release” Yeah, nothing to worry about there unless we started to see that the deep Atlantic was holding massive amounts of accumulated heat…oh crap. The same publication, on last Thursday, told us that very thing.
      Makes me wonder…
      http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/2014/08/earths-missing-heat-may-be-hiding-deep-atlantic

      Reply
  42. http://www.climatecodered.org

    “To minimise climate change damage and avoid reaching 2°C — by which time many significant tipping points and carbon cycle feedbacks will likely have been triggered — it is necessary for a global emergency response which aims to de-carbonise as fast as humanly possible, plus build large carbon drawdown capacity, to try and keep warming below 1.5°C and then return to the Holocene zone.

    Many participants in global discussions and debates say such a scale of action is not possible in a non-disruptive manner within the current political-economic frame. If this is the case, we face a choice of challenging this frame, or accepting that we must fail in our goal.”

    Reply
    • Phil

       /  August 25, 2014

      Off course, they fail to realise how disruptive doing nothing will be and the costs of doing nothing will heavily outweigh the costs of doing something over the medium term. Also, the longer you wait, the greater the disruption will be – both climatically and economically.

      I have seen some recent work by Stern who shows that key economic models do not adequately factor in the costs of climate change and of doing nothing – a key go to model apparently used widely including by the IPCC apparently said there was little impact on the economy for warming of as much as 16 degrees – which, as Stern has pointed out is, problematical given that extinction seems to becomes a very distinct possibility at 6 degrees warming.

      Mainstrewam economics is not good at factoring in constraihnts from physical environment which is interesting given that the definitioj used in furst year economics was about maximising welfare (or satisfying wants) subject to resources scarcity. The latter part of the definition has somehow seemed to have left the economics building in recent times now with the advent of unlimited growth.

      Reply
  43. RWood

     /  August 24, 2014

    Pardon my simplistic thinking, but I combine this:
    The key to the slowdown in global warming in recent years could lie in the depths of the Atlantic and Southern oceans where excess heat is being stored
    (http://www.climatecentral.org/news/atlantic-holds-key-to-global-warming-hiatus-17930 )
    with the comments made in the Science Magazine article:
    [measurement of] a swath off the coast of North Carolina to Massachusetts = an entire margin

    “These little bits of bubbling here or there will not make a memorable impact,” [Jens Greinert, who heads the deep-sea monitoring unit at GEOMAR] says. He is more interested in what will happen as the world warms. “It becomes interesting only if you have a catastrophic release,” he says.

    Please allay my conclusion…

    Reply
    • Griffin

       /  August 24, 2014

      I guess I was not the only one to come to this conclusion!! I had just replied to Colorado Bob ‘s post before I had read yours!!

      Reply
      • RWood

         /  August 25, 2014

        Yes, mindfulness — and even if the methane welkins aren’t much now, what of the effects of the heat on the Gulf Current, and that increase of the melt from Greenland? I’m encouraged that there are sufficient knowledgeable people here to explain these phenomena.

        Reply
    • You hit a runaway if the contribution is more than about 20% current human year-on-year for many centuries. You don’t need a catastrophic release to have a problem.

      Reply
  44. dave person

     /  August 25, 2014

    Hi Andy,
    Referring to your comment about human ingenuity, I have no faith in human ingenuity when it comes to systemic and nonlinear problems. Humans are great at defining a single issue and solving it. They are poor when it comes to understanding systems and nonlinear dynamics, which characterize most of nature, and usually we cannot cope effectively. We solve a singular problem only to create more problems because of unintended consequences. In the past, those consequences were unimportant because the human ecological footprint was small, but no longer. I have been an ecological scientist with over 30 years of experience on the front lines of science and policy. I am tired and I have little optimism left.

    Reply
    • Mark from New England

       /  August 27, 2014

      Dave – what is your specialty as an ecological scientist? Just curious. I tend to agree with your assessment of humanity’s inability to think in terms of systems and take the long view.

      Reply
      • People like Dave, you and myself can think long term. So the question to really ask is who doesn’t, and why?

        Reply
      • We also have active policy misinformers in the comments thread…

        Reply
      • You have to think about this in context, and then the anecdote evaporates. If what Dave, Mikkel, and Pin are saying is true, then the clean air act and clean water act would have never worked, the Montreal protocol would have never worked, and corporate average fuel efficiency would not be rising. Policy works and that’s where the effort of willpower should be aimed.

        I’ll be taking down the anti-policy meme along with the climate change denier meme from now on. I think it serves to undermine understanding and generate destructive confusion. Of course, it is directly aimed to prey on the doubt imposed by a difficult to deal with large scale problem like climate change.

        Sad to say that the effort is likely driven by monetary interests and for many of the same reasons that monetary interests drive climate change denial.

        Reply
        • Can you clarify what you mean by anti-policy? I am understanding it to mean against advocating change through government policy, it that correct?
          If so, it seems to me that there is a difference between denying climate change and arguing about how the problem should be approached.

        • Considering that the only effective actions against large-scale problems have been government policy based, I’d find that point to be rather nonsensical. We can say, in theory, that mass individual action without government leadership would help. But when has mass individual action without such leadership really happened?

          It would be like saying — ‘well, individual use of CFCs is a problem and individuals should solve it by not using hair spray and refrigerators.’

          Or ‘smokers should just quit, we don’t need any kind of education campaign for the public and doctors.’

          Or ‘the Delaware River is burning, industry should just choose to stop dumping crap into it. We don’t need a clean water act.’

          Or ‘slave owners should just release slaves, we don’t need legal abolition.’

          I’ve never seen an approach like this that worked.

          In any case, climate change denial is directly aimed at preventing policy action. And I don’t believe I am wrong in lumping those who fight policy action into the same boat, even if they don’t deny climate change. They’re still contributing to the problem.

          And the notion that policy doesn’t work is just silly. The prime reason for policy failure is loss of political will. We could have a policy that cut fossil fuel emissions by 80 percent globally by 2020 if we had the political will and it could most certainly be done. Would there be consequences? Hell yes. But we could do it with the right laws and if we needed to in an emergency.

          And we are probably in an emergency.

          You don’t tell people to put out their own house fires. That’s the way cities end up being engulfed by firestorms. And you don’t say ‘hey you — consumer who’s been trained all their life to consume stuff, who needs a car to get to your job, who, if they want to see relatives overseas, needs to take a plane, you just need to stop doing that all on your own and it’s all your fault if the world goes to hell in a handbasket if you don’t.’ That’s just idiocy and it will never work. You need leadership, law and coordinated government action. And this ideology against government policy action is just plain stupid. It’s as wrong headed as climate change denial and it feeds from the same kind of misinformation stream.

          I’m not going to support it here anymore. So if you’re against government policy action, take that crap elsewhere.

        • Fair enough.
          The biological forms of mass populations all have inherent laws that govern their action. There has been artificial life modeling demonstrating that flocking (birds, fish etc) can be reduced to 3 simple rules;
          Separation – avoid crowding neighbors (short range repulsion)
          Alignment – steer towards average heading of neighbors
          Cohesion – steer towards average position of neighbors (long range attraction)

          The problem with society (and 7 billion of us is a mass) is that we have individuals doing whatever the hell they feel like. The result is not akin to flocking (moving towards a common goal), but more like bumper cars. In lieu of people’s inherent inability to move towards a common goal for humanity, policy is essential.

          Personally I feel that man’s evolution has been too short as a mass population species to eradicate those traits that place the individual above the group. The selfish gene. Therefore , we are about to feel the full force of evolutionary pressure as the dynamics of our ecosystem change. It won’t be fun.

        • We either choose to impose that pressure on the group as a whole via laws/policy/enforced behavior change or we open ourselves up to the law of the jungle. I prefer the former as human-based problem solving en mass coincides with self-sacrifice and evolution of the group as a whole as opposed to nasty and random individual selection.

          That 7 billion number is too high and we will be lucky if we only hit 8 billion. So a part of any policy consideration dealing with climate change should also deal with population restraint measures. Although, demographically speaking, we probably hit peak at mid century. My opinion is that we might well need more population restraint before then.

          That said, a huge amount can be done by changing inputs and consumption habits — less meat, elimination of fossil fuel use/burning/emission, going net negative carbon-wise, etc.

  45. Wade

     /  August 25, 2014

    From the NY Times. Methane Is Discovered Seeping From Seafloor Off East Coast: nyti.ms/1p66gVv

    Reply
  46. cowpoke

     /  August 25, 2014

    a little late night Nate.

    Reply
  47. Gerald Spezio

     /  August 25, 2014

    Nate, the Koch boys like themselves a whole lot, & they hang out with people of “like thoughts.”
    I am happy that you are making out very well by living on only 40K per yr.
    You haven’t said much.

    Reply
  48. Gerald Spezio

     /  August 25, 2014

    An addition from Colo Bob’s above link, especially the last sentence.

    Jens Greinert, who heads the deep-sea monitoring unit at GEOMAR, downplays the effect of the new seeps on the atmosphere or ocean chemistry because the magnitude of the releases is dwarfed by human-associated inputs, such as livestock, or even other marine sites. “These little bits of bubbling here or there will not make a memorable impact,” Greinert says. He is more interested in what will happen as the world warms. “It becomes interesting only if you have a catastrophic release,” he says.

    Reply
  49. Scotland is building what it calls the world’s biggest tidal array in the Pentland Firth in northern Scotland, the country’s government announced last week.

    Once built, the tidal array is projected to provide enough electricity to power 175,000 homes, and will also create up to 100 jobs. Construction is slated to begin later this year, and the first phase will install four 1.5-megawatt turbines that will start supplying power to the grid in 2016. Overall, the project will involve installing up to 269 turbines on the seafloor, which will capture the energy of ocean tides.

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/08/25/3475122/worlds-biggest-tidal-array-scotland/

    Reply
  50. Caltech and The Feynman Lectures Website are pleased to present this online edition of The Feynman Lectures on Physics. Now, anyone with internet access and a web browser can enjoy reading a high quality up-to-date copy of Feynman’s legendary lectures.

    http://feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/

    Reply
  51. Ken Barrows

     /  August 26, 2014

    Lordy, lordy, read about all the new Boeing orders! $100+ trillion in fossil fuel infrastructure worldwide and now we’re stuck with a bunch of fossil fuel planes for a couple of decades!

    Reply
    • All current aircraft can be run on biodiesel…

      Reply
      • Ken Barrows

         /  August 27, 2014

        So, in theory, switching all planes to biodiesel will be great? No impact on food prices? No rush to bring more land into production?

        Reply
        • I’m responding to the false notion that airplanes require fossil fuels only to run.

          If you wish to leap into the hypothetical, we can cut global meat production by 10-20% to free up the needed land, or rely on more on second gen biofuels and algae farms that require less land area. So no, we don’t need to necessarily cut down more trees to add more farmland.

          That said, vastly expanding the global air fleet is probably not a good idea at this point, unless we look at other options for air travel.

  52. Colorado Bob

     /  August 26, 2014

    As much as 242 millimeters (9.5 inches) of rain fell today in parts of Busan and about 270 millimeters in nearby Changwon as of 4 p.m. local time, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration. More heavy rain is forecast.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-25/south-korea-floods-landslides-leave-at-least-one-person-dead.html

    Reply
    • Greg Smith

       /  August 26, 2014

      Note that the Nuclear Reactor had to be shut down: “Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. was forced to halt operations at its Kori No. 2 nuclear reactor after rain seeped into a water-intake facility, spokeswoman Choi Si Ye said by phone.

      Reply
  53. cowpoke

     /  August 26, 2014

    Here are some historical weather reconstructions that might keep some of you busy for a while.

    I’m curious to see if you guys can see and difference in ‘kink’ between then and now. Some pretty good Arctic data collected as most of the historical readings are from the Northern Hemisphere.

    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/weather-animation-data-visualization-17940

    Reply
    • Progress of weather systems was more rapid, overall far less wavy jet stream pattern with fewer north-south/ south-north air invasions. Current persistence in patterns is far longer. Blocking high off west coast is now stronger.

      Reply
    • RE polar vortex…

      Warm air invasions of the high Arctic practically non existent in this series. Overall far more southerly projection of the NH jet. Cross polar air flows are brief and far less common. Polar vortex less wobbly.

      Reply
  54. ivice

     /  August 26, 2014

    This record melt and permafrost craters come at a solar minimum- if You can even call that, when the sun is literally covered with 3 to 4 sunspots.
    Either we had damn luck this year or the cosmos is trying to give us another chance to avoid exterminating ourselves.
    Hell, what to expect during a solar maximum melting…

    http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/sunspots/

    Is permafrost melting likely to cause more earthquakes/ volcano eruptions on the territories lying along fracture ridges?

    Reply
    • We are at solar maximum for this cycle:

      It’s a somewhat weak maximum, though.

      In any case, solar variance has very little impact compared to overall human ghg forcing.

      Reply
  55. Just wondering what has to happen to get the jet stream pattern moving again– you said it had been stuck for 16 months? Arctic temps dropping a lot? And why would they? Not that I want heat and drought in the Shenandoah Valley….

    Reply
    • A storm cold core somewhere in the Arctic and warming at the tropics would rev the Jet Stream up again. We expect this to happen as the Greenland Ice Sheet melt ramps up. Then you probably end up with a rather viciously strong Jet Stream and one that is a bit lop sided as well. For now, though, we are in the doldrums.

      Reply
  56. Nepal at risk as more extreme weather events loom

    According to the Meteorological Forecasting Division (MFD), more than 150 mm of rainfall was recorded in eight different districts of the midwestern region during a short period of just 24 hours ending at 8:45 in the morning of August 15. In other regions of the country, no more than 100 mm rainfall was recorded during that same period.

    “If 150 mm rainfall is recorded in some particular area in such a short period, we generally anticipate devastating flooding,” says Gautam. “But, in some places like Surkhet, even more than 400 mm of rainfall was recorded around that same time. It was something we never witnessed before. Even the elderly people in our community do not remember if they had witnessed such a heavy downpour before.”

    http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=81718

    Reply
  57. Colorado Bob

     /  August 27, 2014

    Food shortage within next decade due to climate change, warns draft UN report

    A leaked draft of United Nations report reveals that food shortage is also imminent within the next decade because of climate change, as the warming climate has already reduced grain production by several percentage points and the situation could even get worse if emission of greenhouse gases, which the report described to be at its highest in history and likely unprecedented in the last 800,000 years, remains unchecked.

    Link

    Reply
  58. “OVER a quarter of people say their belief in man-made climate change has been stregnthened by the storms which battered the Cornish coastline last winter.”

    Interesting poll results here, which reveal changing attitudes in the UK

    Read more: http://www.cornishman.co.uk/Belief-man-climate-change-driven-winter-s-storms/story-22833292-detail/story.html#ixzz3Bb2tGjHj
    Read more at http://www.cornishman.co.uk/Belief-man-climate-change-driven-winter-s-storms/story-22833292-detail/story.html#rljlmgJXDApJpi3s.99
    http://www.cornishman.co.uk/Belief-man-climate-change-driven-winter-s-storms/story-22833292-detail/story.html

    Reply
  59. California drought to worsen, Nasa predicts

    California has been hit by its worst drought in a century, leaving hundreds of households and landowners without water.Authorities are drilling deeper and more often in search of ground water, but with little success.Now experts say the problem is set to worsen, with Nasa scientists predicting the dry conditions could become “the new normal”.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-28955153

    Reply
  60. Colorado Bob

     /  August 27, 2014

    Iceland’s Seabird Colonies Are Vanishing, With “Massive” Chick Deaths
    Climate and ocean changes blamed for huge losses of puffins, kittiwakes, and terns.

    Alarmed scientists have returned from fieldwork throughout the North Atlantic with sobering descriptions of massive chick die-offs and colonies abandoned with eggs still in the nests.

    “Mass mortality of kittiwakes is evident,” said Freydis Vigfusdottir, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Exeter in Cornwall, England. “You can see in the late summer lots of ‘chick pancakes’ in the nest.”

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/08/140827-seabird-puffin-tern-iceland-ocean-climate-change-science-winged-warning/?google_editors_picks=true

    Reply
  61. Colorado Bob

     /  August 27, 2014

    The devastating spread of the mountain pine beetle

    A native to the pine forests of western North America, at lower-density population levels, the mountain pine beetle has played an important role in lodgepole and ponderosa pine forest renewal. It’s only when populations reach epidemic levels that we see large-scale mortality of forests, says Cooke.

    “This is exactly what happened during the first part of the 2000s,” she notes, “when conducive climatic conditions enabled mountain pine beetle population levels to soar to epidemic and even hyperepidemic levels in B.C.’s central interior.”

    By 2006, the mountain pine beetle had breached the Rocky Mountain barrier in a big way, flying and being carried in air currents over long distances to establish in the Peace River district of northwestern Alberta. Here, the lodgepole pine that makes up much of the historic habitat for mountain pine beetle hybridizes with jack pine, a species whose range stretches all the way to the Maritime provinces. Given this fresh territory, it only took a few years for the mountain pine beetle to spread eastward across this hybrid zone in Alberta, successfully establishing in genetically pure jack pine and knocking at the doorstep of Saskatchewan’s northern forests. In the last couple of years, mountain pine beetle has even spread northward as far as the 60th parallel.

    Read more at: Link

    Reply
  62. Colorado Bob

     /  August 27, 2014

    Monarch butterflies plummet 90 percent, need protection

    Monarch butterflies are dying off fast, with 90 percent gone in the last 20 years, and they urgently need endangered species protection, a coalition of environmental and health groups said Tuesday.

    The cause of their decline is the rapid loss of milkweed, the plant on which they feed and breed, largely due to due to herbicide spraying on genetically engineered corn and soybeans on Midwestern US farmland, they said in a petition to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

    Parasites, climate change and loss of natural habitat areas are also leading factors in the plummeting numbers of the black and orange butterflies.

    Link

    Reply
    • Sad.

      My wife and I see these often on our trips to Shenandoah. They really are epic voyagers. I honestly can’t believe they’re not already protected.

      Reply
  1. Severe Risk Later Today - Sunday Sizzle - Relief Next Week | Paul Douglas Weather ServicesPaul Douglas Weather Services

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