Antarctic Heat Heralds Hottest September in the NASA Record

September 2014 Hottest on Record

(Global temperature anomaly map for September of 2014. Note extraordinary bands of very strong positive temperature anomaly ranging the globe with hottest zones at or near the poles. Image source: NASA GISS.)

Another hottest month on record for the global climate. And this one is a bit of a doozey.

According to NASA GISS, September of 2014 saw global surface temperatures that were 0.77 C hotter than the 20th Century average. This record beats out 2005 by a rather strong 0.04 C margin and represents the 3rd month in the GISS record for 2014 that was either the hottest or tied for the hottest (May, August and September).

Ocean surface heat and anomalous warmth at the poles were deciding factors for the new September record with very few regions of the global ocean surface showing cooler than average temps and with extraordinary heat at the poles, especially in Antarctica. This southern polar zone experienced average monthly temperatures as much as 8.7 above the global average across a relatively broad zone. Both East and West Antarctica observed this very strong polar amplification with East Antarctica experiencing the peak anomalies.

zonal anomalies map september 2014

(Zonal anomalies by Latitude in the NASA GISS measure. Image source: NASA GISS.)

The zonal anomalies map for September of 2014 showed no latitudinal zone experiencing cooler than 20th Century average conditions. A rather extraordinary feature considering most months show cooler than 20th Century average conditions along at least some latitudes.

Most extreme heating occurred at or near the poles with the 75-80 degree South Latitude zone showing an extraordinary +3.4 C departure from the global norm and the 80-90 degree North Latitude zone showing a strong +1.75 degree positive anomaly.

The only zone showing near 20th Century average temperatures was the heat sink region of 55 to 60 degrees South Latitude in the Southern Ocean. In this climate region a strong storm track combines with an expanding fresh water wedge issuing from melting Antarctic glaciers to force down-welling and atmosphere to ocean heat capture. A heat capture that was alluded to in a recent scientific paper which found the upper Southern Ocean contained between 24 and 55 percent more heat than expected.

This heat sink region, featuring an expanding fresh water wedge has been instrumental in somewhat higher than normal Antarctic sea ice totals. An impact that is, ironically, driven both by Antarctic continental ice melt together with an increasing storminess in the Southern Ocean and waters more heavily laden with salt issuing from the equatorial zone. A highly unstable confluence that results in local surface cooling as the ocean takes a heavy dose from the human riled heat engine.

Conditions in Context

No El Nino yet, despite two warm Kelvin waves and somewhat favorable atmospheric conditions throughout the months of August and September. But sea surface temperature in the Equatorial Pacific region remain somewhat hotter than normal — bending toward the warm side of ENSO neutral. Overall ocean surface warmth, however, was extraordinary throughout September, pushing well above the global average and ranging, in GFS models, from 0.7 C to 1.2 C above the already hotter than normal 1979 to 2000 average.

Overall, three more record or near record hot months would put 2014 in serious contention for hottest year on record (2014 is running 0.65 C hotter than average, the global record is 0.67 C above average for 2010). A rather odd result considering we still see no El Nino and almost every recent hottest year has been spurred on by this powerful atmospheric variability driver. A record hot year in 2014 with no El Nino could well be an indication that the human forcing is beginning to over-ride natural variability and that the ENSO signal, though still very powerful, is becoming more and more muted by an increasingly substantial human heat forcing.

Links:

NASA GISS

It’s Worse Than We Thought — New Study Finds that Earth is Warming Far Faster Than Expected

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110 Comments

  1. Kevin Jones

     /  October 11, 2014

    Very well done, Robert.

    Reply
  2. Colorado Bob

     /  October 11, 2014

    Unseasonable weather conditions in Japan in August 2014
    After 30 July 2014, cloudy and rainy conditions were prominent nationwide except in
    Okinawa/Amami and the Kanto region.
    The monthly precipitation ratio to the normal averaged over the Pacific side of western Japan for August 2014 was 301%, which was the highest since 1946 when collection of the area -averaged statistical data referenced here began. Monthly precipitation ratios were also significantly above normal in northern Japan and on the Sea of Japan side of eastern and western Japan. Heavy rain was brought by two typhoons, fronts and moist air flow, resulting in record -high precipitation at observation stations from Hokkaido in the north to
    Kyushu in the south.
    The monthly sunshine duration ratio to the normal averaged over the Pacific side of western Japan was
    54%, which was the lowest since 1946. The ratio averaged over the Sea of Japan side of western Japan was 42%, which was the second lowest after 1980, and the figure was also significantly below normal over
    eastern Japan.

    http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/tcc/tcc/news/press_20140903.pdf

    Reply
  3. Colorado Bob

     /  October 11, 2014

    Hottest March-June On Record Globally, Reports Japan Meteorological Agency

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/07/15/3460555/hottest-march-june-jma/

    Reply
    • And the other measures are coming in… Looks like 2014 will be hottest in at least one measure. On the current track, we might break them all.

      Reply
  4. Colorado Bob

     /  October 11, 2014

    Not Just California: Droughts Extend Across Americas

    Say “drought” and Americans are likely to think California, but the Golden State is hardly alone when looking across the Western Hemisphere: A dry spell has killed cattle and wiped out crops in Central America, parts of Colombia have seen rioting over scarce water, and southern Brazil is facing its worst dry spell in 50 years.

    In the U.S., the few who have taken notice of this wider water scarcity include a former director of the U.S. Geological Survey. Now editor-in-chief of the journal Science, Marcia McNutt last month penned an editorial highlighting what she called “a drought of crisis proportions” across the Americas.

    Worst hit has been Central America, where drought has created food shortages for 2.5 million people, most of them “subsistence farmers and families in highly food-insecure areas,” says Miguel Barreto, regional program manager for the U.N.’s World Food Program.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/not-just-california-droughts-extend-across-americas-n220376

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  October 11, 2014

      Droughts, and along with them plant diseases, are happening more frequently, says Lorena Aguilar, regional technical manager for the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, funded by USAID.

      “The previous two years saw drought and this is the third,” she says, adding that this year was also the driest for most of Central America in 30 years of recordkeeping.

      Reply
    • Expanding dry zones in the US west and tropics are certainly linked to climate change as is increasing precipitation in some regions (primarily near the poles) coupled with decreasing precip in other areas.

      The writer of this article should see:

      http://www.climatehotmap.org/global-warming-effects/drought.html

      And read the references.

      In addition, the higher temperatures increase the rate of evaporation making drought onset more sudden and drought instances more intense where they do occur.

      Reply
    • Nicaragua has just had a deluge after it’s drought in some areas:

      http://floodlist.com/america/378-mm-rain-floods-nicaragua

      Reply
  5. Colorado Bob

     /  October 11, 2014

    Climate change forcing fish stocks north: study
    Study looks at distribution of 802 commercially exploited fish species, including cod and halibut

    A study has produced the strongest evidence yet that climate change is forcing hundreds of valuable fish species toward the poles.

    The paper, published in the ICES Journal of Marine Science on Friday, concludes that Canadian and Arctic waters may end up with more species and greater abundance.

    But fisheries in the tropics, where people depend more heavily on seafood, may become hollowed out.

    “The variety of species available for fisheries in the tropics will decrease,” said co-author William Cheung of the University of British Columbia.

    “It may be good news for the Arctic — our projections are that the Arctic will be a hot spot for species invasion. There will be more variety of fish species available for the Arctic region.”

    Previous studies have suggested that warming ocean waters will affect the distribution of fish stocks. Cheung’s paper gives the clearest and broadest picture yet of those effects.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/climate-change-forcing-fish-stocks-north-study-1.2796207

    Reply
  6. Colorado Bob

     /  October 12, 2014

    This Dutch Wunderkind Now Has the Funds to Build His Ocean Cleanup Machine

    Dutch wunderkind Boyan Slat turned 20 this year. He also closed on $2 million in crowdfunding to build cleanup contraptions designed to intercept and remove plastic refuse from the ocean.

    The world’s oceans contain millions of tons of garbage, much of it plastic debris that collects in gyres that span hundreds of miles. Slat, an aeronautical engineer and founder of the Ocean Cleanup, has been contemplating how best to attack this problem since the age of 16.

    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-09-16/this-dutch-wunderkind-now-has-the-funds-to-build-his-ocean-cleanup-machine

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  October 12, 2014

      In June, Slat, together with a team of about 70 scientists and engineers, released a 530-page feasibility study (pdf) that explains the technology and explores questions of legality, costs, environmental impact, and potential pitfalls. The Ocean Cleanup also kicked off a campaign to raise $2 million to construct and test large-scale pilots.

      Yesterday, Slat’s team announced that the funding goal had been achieved in 100 days with support from more than 38,000 donors in 160 countries. They expect the first pilot to be deployed within a year, and they plan to have a fully operational offshore cleanup array in three years.

      Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  October 12, 2014

        My house is full of plastic bags , because I know that sea turtles see them as jelly fish, (one of their primary food sources) . I’m a 1,000 miles from nearest ocean . But it’s also full of plastic bags, because my trees are catching them in the wind. This really pisses me off.

        (I’m going make something from them.)

        Paradise Lost: Filmmakers Document the Maldives’ Trash Island (PHOTOS)

        http://www.weather.com/travel/thilafushi-trash-island-maldives-20140930

        This tertiary oil curse is one that needs more exposure . We heat oceans with oil , we acidify the oceans with oil, we strangle the oceans with oil.

        “Better living through chemistry”
        The Dow Chemical tag line I remember as kid. That made every plastic product seem good , since 1957.

        Well here’s what all that wrought :
        https://s3.amazonaws.com/ksr/assets/000/054/205/1f84aeff54027154ac0c2a9606ad158a_large.jpg?1341291239

        I don’t like balloons being released into sky either. First we’re wasting a very useful gas, which is extremely rare. And sea turtles see them as jelly fish when they fall to Earth.

        Reply
  7. Colorado Bob

     /  October 12, 2014

    RS –
    Trapped in the 2 link filter .

    Reply
  8. Colorado Bob

     /  October 12, 2014

    A dead Albatross chick from Midway Island .

    Reply
  9. Colorado Bob

     /  October 12, 2014

    A dead Albatross chick from Midway Island .

    Reply
  10. Colorado Bob

     /  October 12, 2014

    Midway Island will have the first plastic beaches, on Earth. That is to say the “sand” on Midway will be tiny grains of plastic. Not coral, not land , but man made sand, all of it will plastic

    Midway Island is most remote place in the North Pacific . And it’s beaches are about to be made-up Bic Lighters.

    Think about that , you drop a Bic Lighter and it goes down a storm sewer. It’s well designed . And all of it is lighter than water .
    It’s like a plastic bottle cap . For us it’s moment in time, for Nature, it’s a unknown . She has no answers.
    The Earth is 4.6 Billion years old, the Age of Plastic just over 70 years. And we’re Killing Albatross chicks with pop bottle caps . On the one of the most distant places on Earth.

    Reply
  11. Colorado Bob, Sad pictures, not even sure how to feel anymore.

    These record temperatures are in a sense a tipping point. With summer gone and peak arctic amplification arriving for October and November, this really is the end of the surface pause (that never really was but who cares). NOAA and JMA will very very likely be the warmest on record for 2014 even NASA ties for 1st/2nd. I’m busy tonight, but I will do some number crunching over these numbers if someone else doesn’t do it for me.

    Awesome post Robert, thanks as always for producing such good posts so quickly and often, few can compete with you on this kind of reporting and analysis.

    Reply
  12. Colorado Bob

     /  October 12, 2014

    Midway Island will have the first plastic beaches, on Earth.

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  October 12, 2014

      It’s a real same , given how much human pain was spent over it. And now its just dump for fools.

      Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  October 12, 2014

        The Battle of Midway , changed the 20th century . At the time , the largest birds in the world lived on the island . The Albatross, They were a huge problem . Now they are gone , in the numbers that slowed man’s power to make war.

        Everything that slows man’s power to make war is gone.

        Reply
      • Well, another ‘precious’ product of fossil fuels. We can do better than this.

        Reply
  13. Colorado Bob

     /  October 12, 2014

    RS –
    “Better Living Through Chemistry” .

    Reply
  14. Colorado Bob

     /  October 12, 2014

    Freak Out! is the debut album by American band The Mothers of Invention, released June 27, 1966 on Verve Records.

    I played this album in my homeroom in the spring of 1967. It took some time before Frank Zappa got noticed .

    Mothers of Invention – Trouble Comin’ Everyday
    With Berkley protests from 66.

    Reply
    • Excellent find there, Bob. Amazing compilation of footage.

      Just read through the drought article you posted. Funny how they mention that only a few have taken notice of these wide-ranging droughts. They’ve focused on The Americas. But the situation is global.

      And, yes, they include the usual waffling over whether climate change has an impact. Well, the GCMs show many of these regions drying out and we have quite a few papers pointing to climate change for a number of these regional droughts.

      So the article takes a very soft hand to what is an increasingly severe problem. And, well, we’ve been tracking the global drought situation here for some time…

      In any case, they could at least mention that a combination of drought and climate change are in the process of taking down the Amazon — which is a critical moisture sink for so many of the countries in question…

      Reply
  15. Colorado Bob

     /  October 12, 2014

    No way delay , that trouble comin’ everyday .

    Reply
  16. Colorado Bob

     /  October 12, 2014

    Later on he did this, the Vietnam War was still going on :

    Frank Zappa – Billy The Mountain

    Reply
  17. Colorado Bob

     /  October 12, 2014

    Sometimes, it’s good to leave the the grind. Otherwise , we all blow our brains out.

    Reply
  18. Colorado Bob

     /  October 12, 2014

    Sorry for hogging the thread. But everyone needs to see “Billy the Mountain” it’s a classic from the past written by Zappa, and it satire bears on our world , nearly 40 years later.

    Reply
  19. Colorado Bob

     /  October 12, 2014

    God do I miss Frank Zappa .

    Reply
    • Right on CB. I remember digging Freak Out: Help I’m Rock…
      The Mothers played my high school in ’66. Let’s say they ‘taxed’ our standard issue sound system.
      “October 15, 1966: Auditorium, San Marcos High School, Santa Barbara, CA
      For years it was thought that this show never happenend due to inadequate PA system but now the pomoter of the show, Jim Salzer, reports it was actually played.”
      – rockprosopography102.blogspot.com
      Thanks for the memory check.
      Next time a climate break is needed I have something to add.
      DT

      Reply
  20. So if we do get an El Nino next or afterwards, it may kick up a pretty good mess with a lot of heat churning back out to the atmosphere. Seems like we’re running on borrowed time.

    Reply
    • It would ratchet the screws a bit tighter for some regions. Heavy rain or drought. That’s the trend and El Niño pushes it further along. Neither side of that extreme is especially good for crops.

      Reply
  21. The jet stream, at least over this part of the world, looks like the proverbial train wreck.
    Cars spread all over the place.

    Reply
    • West ridge still a permanent feature. Siberia Jet diversion blown clear across the Arctic to Greenland. Oddly deep upper level trough on the European side of the Atlantic about to get a kick as the storm track amps up.

      Reply
  22. That recent French rainfall was more extraordinary than I’d picked up on according to this article

    http://m.rte.ie/news/2014/0930/648964-france-weather/

    I am just reading David Beerling’s book Emerald Planet, which I highly recommend. It’s a paleobotanists review of the last 540 million years of plant life on Earth, filled with fascinating stuff about past climates. In one chapter he looks at the end Triassic extinctions, and figures these were likely climate change related due to a CO2 greenhouse. In another he looks at the Eocene hothouse, and reckons that the models have a tough job explaining how we got palm trees and crocodiles at the poles – we must be missing some feedbacks. One disturbing feedback he mentions is increased methane release from wetlands as they warm. I hadn’t realised how extreme this effect is and will post the work I found.

    Not for the first time I am left thinking that we should pay closer attention to the paleo specialists.

    Reply
    • Yup a 25 fold increase in CH4 release going from 5C to 25C in this study.

      http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0039614

      Reply
      • Thanks for this, Spike. An important bit to keep in mind as the Arctic keeps heating up. Worth noting that we see 30+ C all the way to the Arctic Ocean during summer these days.

        Reply
    • bernard

       /  October 12, 2014

      Spike, the downpours in S. France, N. Italy and the countries N.E. of Italy have been an almost weekly event this summer.

      This is the next installment:

      Whenever you see a region marked with “2” on estofex it’s going to flood, likely followed by some attention from international press. These day-ahead maps have been incredibly accurate so far.

      Reply
    • One thing that makes science slow to change is that it tends more toward a single view dominating and less toward active collaboration. The peer review process facilitates collaboration, but there is a weakness in the process in which a powerful dogma can over-ride and exclude important elements.

      One of my past jobs was to get scientists/experts of various separate disciplines to work together. But there’s an institutional bias and perceived hierarchy to contend with in any such collaborative effort that can throw a wrench in the works, reducing communication between branches of science into little more than finger pointing and trench warfare.

      Ignoring paleoclimate now, which some branches of the sciences appear to be doing, is a very dangerous prospect in the current world. And it’s one of the reasons I keep bringing it up here. If you’re looking at an emerging threat, you can’t afford to bow to dogmatic memes and absolutist views that cut off access to whole strings of evidence.

      Reply
    • bill h

       /  October 12, 2014

      Ironic that it’s the AGW-hating “Daily Fail” that’s reporting on this twice-in-three-years catastrophe. You’d have thought they’s keep quiet about these increasingly frequent events. However, in the UK articles on the weather seem to be what keeps the down-market press in business. The endless moronic weather “forecasts” appearing on the front page of the Daily Express are a case in point.

      Reply
      • They’re crowding out news that is actually relevant to climate change by posting out of context disaster news and by lampooning threats…

        Reply
    • Saw this earlier. Parts of Europe got hammered this week.

      Reply
    • wili

       /  October 12, 2014

      Apocalyptic floods cause major car pile-up in Italian city of Genova:

      https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BzliLL-IUAAKJiW.jpg:large

      Reply
  23. Most excellently well done, Robert. Looks like the “hiatus” is over — if there ever was one. Because to me, the rise in temperatures since 1978 clearly show the 1998 spike as an outlier, caused by a strong El Niño.

    Reply
    • We would have had a real hiatus if the human forcing wasn’t so strong. Instead, we still hit new temperature records.

      Reply
    • Looks like we probably have a hottest year on record for the NOAA and JMA measures. NASA is still up in the air but is well within range to challenge the old records now.

      Reply
      • I decided to learn more about El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) — i.e. other than living with them for about 40 yrs in the PNW and in So. Cal.
        This 3:48 ScienceAtNASA video has some nice info and visuals to show how and why they happen, or not.

        Reply
  24. Kevin Jones

     /  October 12, 2014

    Not at all to quibble, but to clarify re: hottest months this year vs ’10, ’05 and all time

    http//www.columbia.edu/~mhs119/Temperature/T_moreFigs/2014vs2010+2005.pdf

    Reply
  25. Economy Sidebar of Note — Money does get their attention:

    ‘U.S. and UK to test big bank collapse in joint model run

    Oct 10 (Reuters) – Regulators from the United States and the United Kingdom will get together in a war room next week to see if they can cope with any possible fall-out when the next big bank topples over, the two countries said on Friday.

    Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, on Monday will run a joint exercise simulating how they would prop up a large bank with operations in both countries that has landed in trouble.’
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/10/banks-regulations-collapse-idUSL2N0S52LK20141010

    Reply
  26. Rapid increase in the risk of extreme summer heat in Eastern China

    “We estimate that anthropogenic influence has caused a more than 60-fold increase in the likelihood of the extreme warm 2013 summer since the early 1950s, and project that similarly hot summers will become even more frequent in the future, with fully 50% of summers being hotter than the 2013 summer in two decades even under the moderate RCP4.5 emissions scenario. ”

    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate2410.html

    Reply
  27. ICYMI El Niño ENSO: The wonderful folks at Scripps have an Experimental Climate Prediction Center.
    http://meteora.ucsd.edu/~pierce/elnino/pictures.html

    Reply
    • dtlange, Thanks for that link, things will get real interesting this fall (or they won’t) in terms of El nino.

      On a related note. I listened to the recent talk by Jennifer Francis on arctic amplification and jet steam changes in relation to blocking patterns, arctic sea ice loss etc. In her Q&A session she mentioned in passing that she things we may have transitioned into the positive phase of the PDO in the last couple of months. While this isn’t such a shock, it is interesting to hear someone in her field make such a comment.

      Reply
      • bassman, I think this may be the talk. “Jennifer Francis – Karen Malpede: Arctic Warming Causing Climate Change” It is after a performance of the play, Extreme Whether, written and directed by Karen Malpede — sounds interesting. And recently put up on Youtube Oct. 5.
        Here’s a bit from THEATER THREE COLLABORATIVE about the play: “Extreme Whether poses a bitter debate over the future of the planet but becomes a meditation on the sublime in nature. Written in a mix of prose and poetry, with invective, humor and a full musical score, Extreme Whether sets the battle over global warming within a single family as a challenge to the American family at this moment of ecological crisis.”

        Reply
  28. A six minute Antarctic glacial melting Tube “Meltwater Pulse 2B”. Various views from Hansen, Rignot (NASA), et al. Good graphics. June, 2014 from Yale Climate Connections, formerly The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media.

    Reply
  29. View from Climate Reanalyzer showing areas of warm air in Antarctica and parts of Australia.

    Reply
  30. MUSICAL INTERLUDE:
    Happy Columbus Day, all is well with Whitey on the Moon.🙂

    Reply
  31. RWood

     /  October 13, 2014

    Making “boiling hot” available to many more, from the Mother Jones article:
    Environment Canada, a government department, declined to make their lead researcher for the study, Zhang Xuebin, available for interview, and did not respond to written questions—a practice that appears consistent with widely reported policies that bar government researchers, including climate scientists, from discussing their work with journalists. A survey last year of 4000 Canadian researchers revealed widespread “muzzling” of federal scientists.

    Reply
    • I would sure like to see some civil disobedience from them.

      Reply
    • The petro state is denying free speech to its scientists… How much more evidence do we need that fossil fuel reliance results in the establishment of oppressive governments that are incapable of positive change?

      Reply
  32. Torrential rain causes deadly flash flooding in Genoa, Italy

    Over 17 inches of rain in 24 hours fell near Genoa, Italy on Thursday and Friday

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2014/10/10/torrential-rain-causes-deadly-flash-flooding-in-genoa-italy-video/

    Reply
  33. Jay M

     /  October 14, 2014

    Minas Gerais is powerhouse of Brazil–Sao Paulo is one of those megalopolis cities like ciudad de mexico–test case of human reaction to the limitations of nature. Can we retreat?

    Reply
    • If the reservoir crashes, my bet is the city empties pretty quickly of those who can move. Then, you end up with an ugly stratification between those with and without access to water.

      They could organize to deal with the situation otherwise. And I hope they do.

      Reply
  34. Jay M

     /  October 14, 2014

    makes you wonder if the clearcut of american timber didn’t contribute to the fall off in rain that destroyed the dry farming in the Dakotas

    Reply
    • The forests of Lebanon were mythically lush between 500-1000 BC. What happened to them? Same thing that happened to the America forests. Same thing that’s happening to the rain forests now.

      Reply
      • wili

         /  October 14, 2014

        What happened to them? Empire! The combined building of the Persian and the Athenian fleets largely from this source was a particularly damaging blow, iirc.

        Reply
  35. wili

     /  October 14, 2014

    robert, have you seen this: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/10/10/1418075111

    As I read it, slr rose over 4 m per century at some points after the last ice age. Is there a good reason to think it would be less this time, given the large and growing size/power of the forcing now?

    Reply
    • It depends on how many glaciers we put into irreversible destabilization at the same time. It depends on the peak outflow of those glaciers, when that peak outflow hits, how long it takes to ramp up to peak outflow, and the simultaneous nature of the peak outflow.

      The so-slow pace of warming during this 4 meter per century pace isn’t very comforting. Nor is all that extra heat in the Southern Ocean and the fact that we are warming so much faster now. My opinion is that we are looking at 3-9 feet this century. But this is a starting position that will depend on observed rate of glacier response, sea level rise, and the instances of excession conditions upon and beneath the ice.

      If we do warm so rapidly, we are almost certainly looking at a handful of centuries in which most of the melt takes place. Whether we ramp up to, say 8-16 meters per century, that this pace of heating may imply so soon is certainly up in the air. I don’t see much in the science directly pointing to this as yet, but we may want to take a good hard look.

      I’ll do some back of the napkin crunching to see what kind of preliminary scenarios I can come up with.

      Reply
      • wili

         /  October 14, 2014

        Thanks, r, for this and for everything you do.

        Reply
        • OK. Worked on this a bit last night.

          For our back of the napkin analysis, let’s consider that temperature and not time is the primary function determining glacial melt.

          For context we are looking at the period from 18,000 years BP when glacier melt really started to ramp up to about 7,000 BP when glacial melt subsided.

          For values, we will assume a 4.5 C total temperature increase (global) — which is in about the mid range (though some proxies indicate a 4 C increase). We will also assume a 360 foot sea level rise (total) over the period (and implied large volume of ice available to melt).

          Using these basic measures we find a relatively moderate sea level rise of 35 feet over the period from 18 KY BP to 15 KY BP during which temperatures rose by about 1 degree C. This pace of SLR is roughly 1 foot per century and is roughly consistent with SLR observed from the period of 1880 to 2000 in which about 0.6 C of warming occurred. Since only about 250 feet worth of sea level rise remains in the ice now, that it takes about 5.5 C to melt all ice on Earth (paleoclimate proxy), and all other things being artificially equal in our rough estimate, we could assume 18 feet of sea level rise for the first 1 C of warming.

          Now, at warming past 1 C, things start to get interesting, or even a bit scary. For what we observe here is meltwater pulse 1A in which seas rise by about 100 feet over the course of 1,000 years between about 15 KY BP and 14 KY BP. During this time, warming advances by another +1.5 C above the end ice age average. And this is the period featuring the melt enhancing ocean stratification that our new study identifies. Assuming that temperature again equals melt we end up with the next 1.5 C of warming equaling another 100 feet of SLR. Compared to the ice that is presently available to melt, the rough modern comparison would be about 50 feet of SLR.

          So for 2.5 C you end up with roughly 135 feet of SLR (antiquated) and 68 feet of SLR (modern) — at first blush. Because for the next period, from 14 KY BP to 12 KY BP, we have no temperature increase. But during this period we observe another 50 feet of SLR. So for the total SLR at 2.5 C warming we end up with 185 feet of SLR (antiquated) and 92.5 feet of SLR (modern).

          During this period, we observe that the rate of sea level rise and glacial outflow during pulse 1A was enough to put a temporary halt on temperature increases. So we assume that this feedback would also come into play during modern times, perhaps putting a break on ff based temperature increases during periods of rapid glacial outflow which would also feature localized cooling in or near regions experiencing melt (as we may well be seeing in the Southern Ocean now). This negative feedback cooling mechanism is driven by large wedges of fresh water issuing from the melting glaciers and preventing ocean to atmosphere heat transfer coupled with other aspects of the iceberg cooling effect. Note that in this observed instance warming is temporarily halted, but not reversed.

          These observations are consistent with what we know about Heinrich Events.

          So to reiterate, using the ice age proxy of observed sea level rise we get 92 feet SLR at 2.5 C warming in the modern equivalent after likely numerous Heinrich type events.

          Moving forward, sea level rise flattens for a bit from 12 KY BP to 11 KY BP and then continues along a pretty steady ramp from 11 KY to 7 KY. This period makes up the final 2 C warming and includes another 175 feet SLR (antiquated) and 87 feet (modern).

          So at 4.5 C warming, we end up with 180 feet SLR in the modern day.

          Now within these observations we can add a few caveats. The first is that the glacial response to warming is probably not instant. The second is that glacial response to warming, in instances where SLR approaches 10 feet per century, likely has a negative feedback effect — slowing rates of warming during periods of rapid glacial outflow.

          Now, let’s consider that the pace of human warming is 10 times faster (at least) and that the accumulated forcing on the glaciers scales accordingly. This is a completely artificial simulation, but let’s just consider it for a moment. Then assuming no lag in glacial response due to other factors, you could hit a 0.5 to 1 meter per decade SLR by mid century with warming hovering in the range of +1.5 to +2.5 C. By end century, if the ghg forcing is 1000 ppm CO2e, the rate of SLR could jump to more than 1 meter per decade with temperatures maintained within the same range. In essence, the heat engine is going into the upper ocean and the function is to melt about 120 feet of SLR worth of the most vulnerable ice until melt rates drop and heating ramps up again.

          This back of the napkin analysis of course assumes that the atmosphere ocean system preferentially warms the upper 700 meters of ocean and then preferentially delivers that energy to the ice sheets. Atmospheric warming, in this consideration is assumed to lag as the warming goes first into the oceans and the ice sheets.

  36. wili

     /  October 15, 2014

    Wow. Thanks for that analysis, rs.

    ” you could hit a 0.5 to 1 meter per decade SLR by mid century with warming hovering in the range of +1.5 to +2.5 C.

    By end century, if the ghg forcing is 1000 ppm CO2e, the rate of SLR could jump to more than 1 meter per decade with temperatures maintained within the same range.”

    I’ll have to mull that for a while before responding.

    Again, wow…and…thanks…I guess…

    Reply
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