NASA: October 2014 Tied For Hottest on Record

October 2014 Hottest on Record

(October was again a global temperature record setter. Image source: NASA.)

NASA’s monthly global temperature analysis is in and the results are once again record-making. For according to NASA’s global monitor, world temperatures were 0.76 degrees Celsius above the Earth average for the mid 20th Century.

This high temperature departure ties 2005 for hottest in NASA’s 136 year record. A temperature level that global ice core data points toward being hotter than at any time in the past 130,000 years. A record hot month in a string of record hot months for 2014. A resurgence to record high marks amidst an unprecedented spate of rising temperatures that has lasted now for more than a century running.

Global land ocean temperature index

(Global temperatures have risen by more than 1 degree C above their low mark at the start of the 20th Century. It is a human-driven pace of warming 15-20 times faster than at the end of the last ice age. Image source: NASA)

Polar Amplification Again Prominent

As in recent months, hottest temperatures were again focused near the poles. The northern polar region in particular observed much hotter than normal readings with a very large zone experiencing +2 to +5.5 degrees C above average temperatures for the entire month. East Antarctica also saw much warmer than normal temperatures with monthly averages spiking from +2 C to more than 4 C above the 20th Century average.

Overall, much of the world showed hotter than normal temperatures with cooler than normal readings confined to sections of the Southern Ocean and Eastern Europe. Small and isolated pockets of cooler than normal readings were found in diminutive oceanic zones. Meanwhile, the rest of the world experienced warmer than normal to much warmer than normal readings.

zonal readings October

(Zonal temperature departures by latitude. Image source: NASA)

Zonal readings also showed very strong polar amplification in the Northern Hemisphere with surface temperatures averaging at 2.6 degrees Celsius above normal in the region above 75 degrees North Latitude. A spike in temperature to +1.3 C above average was also observed in the region of 80 degrees South Latitude.

The Southern Ocean again appears to be the primary zonal heat sink as the only region showing below average temperatures in the range of -0.38 C below average. As we have seen in previous analysis, this region is currently the principle atmosphere-to-ocean heat transfer band. Ocean heat uptake in this region has been shown through recent studies to have resulted in very rapid warming of the top 700 meters of Southern Hemisphere ocean waters. It has also played a role in the more rapid glacial destabilization observed among Antarctica’s increasingly fragile ice sheets and ice shelves.

Polar Amplification Sees Late Fall Vortex Disruption, Severe Dipole Anomalies

Northern Hemisphere polar amplification is a primary contributor to the polar vortex disruptions and extreme Jet Stream distension we’ve seen since about 2005. Current conditions also indicate an extraordinary dipole again developing with heat pooling in the Arctic near Alaska and in the maritime zone between the Kara Sea and Greenland. Already in November, this has caused an extreme meridonal avection of polar cold air over the continents even as warm air drives north toward the pole over Atlantic and Pacific Ocean regions.

Arctic Anomaly Map

(Warm air invasion of the Arctic forcing temperatures to 1.9 C above average drives polar air over Central Asia and Eastern North America on November 19 of 2014. Such displacements of cold air during Northern Hemisphere winter are directly tied to global-warming related polar amplification. Image source: GFS/University of Maine)

2014 Close to Hottest On Record

Currently, NASA’s global temperature average for the first ten months of 2014 puts the year at 0.664 C above the global average. 2010, the previous hottest year on record, stood between 0.66 and 0.67 degrees hotter than the 20th Century average. So we are now in record-making territory for 2014. Any further months with average temperatures above 0.67 C would continue to cement 2014 as a new record holder.

In any case, the excessive heat for 2014 is at least likely to place it among the top 1-4 hottest years even if November and December show less extreme warm temperature departures. An extraordinary degree of warmth for a year in which official El Nino status has yet to be declared.

With global political leaders retaining an overall laissez faire attitude to positive action on climate change and with powerful fossil fuel interests gaining power in the US Congress (Republicans), it is unfortunately very likely that ongoing massive greenhouse gas emissions in the range of 50 billion tons of CO2 equivalent each year will continue to add more heat to the world’s oceans, atmosphere, and glaciers. As time moves forward, this will vastly increase the risk of catastrophic weather and geophysical change events. We see such events now in Brazil, California and across an expanding range of regions. But these early outliers are mild compared to the potential extremity of events as time moves forward and catastrophic emission rates increase.

As with other brands of risk, including financial risk, the world’s current economic and political leaders have shown a terrible ineptitude in working to prevent catastrophic and destabilizing loss. One hopes that political and economic leaders will wise up. But, currently, there is very little to indicate that urgently needed changes will be forthcoming.

Links:

NASA GISS

GFS/University of Maine

IPCC 2014: Adaptation and Vulnerability

(Note edited to include the Eemian, which is probably still hotter than this monthly average by about 0.8 to 0.9 C at peak warming)

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92 Comments

  1. My right-wing, climate change denying acquaintances in N. America are relishing the cold weather being experienced right now across the eastern US.
    It adds fuel to their denialism.

    “See, the Libtards are wrong. It’s freezing here!”

    One I know just bought a new 7-liter vehicle and drove it around until a full tank of gas was expended “just for fun”.

    We are so doomed its not even funny any more.

    Reply
  2. And gas prices are collapsing. Sheesh!

    Reply
    • Oh yes. And they will thanks to our fracking glut and maniacal drive to access every last drop of unconventional FF. Hate to say that there’s an awful, awful lot of unconvential FF out there. More than enough to wreck things many times over.

      Reply
      • Spike

         /  November 20, 2014

        Yes bad news on fracking in UK too.

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30125028

        Reply
        • So this is the disconnect I’m trying to reconcile:

          1. We have some broad helpful policy measures that have recently come to the fore on the international level. China is moving to peak its coal consumption soon (the most optimistic sources point toward 2016). I’m cautiously hopeful, but will believe it once I see it. Our executive and EPA are pushing for carbon reductions here in the US. And there seems to be some hope for a somewhat strong limit coming out of Paris (possibly a 450 ppm goal).

          2. In the US and other places around the world, unconventional ff exploitation is mercilessly trying to expand. We have Keystone, fracking going global, and various other marginal/unconventional ventures such as Arctic and ultra deep water that the industry keeps taking shots at. India is showing coal expansion for at least the next decade and we haven’t really begun to look at the impact of Africa.

          3. The falling price of alternative energy now makes it a viable competitor with FF in many markets. This has two effects. First it makes the future of FF companies less certain for investors, which is a strike in our favor. Second, when combined with rapidly expanding efficiency measures, it drives the price of FF down. This is a bit of a two edged sword as it makes the FF companies less healthy, but increases consumer dependence on FF by lowering the price (this is the carbon price whip lash phenomena I’ve hinted at RE coal, but that could well be broadened to the entire FF sector).

          4. The above point shows why a rapid transition away from fossil fuel probably necessitates a price on carbon. It would round out the periods where gluts drive prices lower and reduce overall dependency.

          5. So what we instead observe are a variety of forces in conflict. Some leaders are trying to enact more responsible policies by making pledges to reduce carbon emissions (Obama, China, EU etc). They generally move gradually in the right direction (some would say not fast enough). Others are directly working to stymie even these arguably modest actions by attacking or standing in the way of policy advancement. In the US, the current republican legislature is doing everything it can to scuttle domestic efforts — as we can well see with current attacks on the EPA’s authority and ability to regulate carbon. That battle is a microcosm of the larger conflict now ongoing in Australia, in Canada and Europe.

          6. From the point of view of climate, it is worth noting that any new effort to expand or maintain fossil fuel production is a strike against us. The current fossil fuel reserves are enough to easily exceed the 550 to 600 ppm CO2 and the 600-700 ppm CO2e marks. Unconventionals can put us well beyond 900 ppm. Burning 1/3 of what we have on the books still gets us to 450 ppm, and that’s not counting global carbon store response.

          So the challenge is to unwind production and leave the majority of these assets stranded. And since that is becoming plainly obvious to current powerful interests, it is pretty clear we are seeing blow back in the form of political arm twisting and influence peddling of the highest order (current US elections, etc).

          7. Lastly, the broad and somewhat successful effort to misinform the public on the issue of climate change creates its own rather extraordinary hazard. If we are to believe some polls, the issue of climate change is of rather low concern to many. This lack of perception on this key issue is one we will have to challenge again and again going forward — if we’re to continue to make progress.

      • Spike

         /  November 20, 2014

        But hopefully it will prove as ephemeral as the first Polish wells which have failed quickly. If some people lose their shirt on this it would be welcome karma.

        http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-09/fracking-setback-in-poland-dim-hopes-for-less-russian-gas.html

        Reply
        • Now that would be a good outcome. Europe would be better off pushing for less dependence on Russian gas through efficiencies/renewables anyway.

      • Spike

         /  November 20, 2014

        And this is an interesting read by a very successful investor, calling an end to the cheap and easy fossil fuel era and pressing the urgency of renewables deployment. i was particularly struck by the fact that ” Meanwhile, cheap traditional oil, in contrast, becomes increasingly difficult to find both in the U.S. and globally. Last year for example, despite spending nearly $700 billion globally – up from $250 billion in 2005 – the oil industry
        found just 4½ months’ worth of current oil production levels, a 50-year low!”

        http://www.gmo.com/websitecontent/GMO_QtlyLetter_3Q14_full.pdf

        We need more investors to act on this as Norway’s largest pension fund is doing

        http://www.newsinenglish.no/2014/11/19/pension-manager-pulls-out-of-coal/

        Reply
        • One can certainly hope that this bears out. Investors, despite the current glut, have got to be rather disappointed about what are huge sunk costs in many cases chasing ephemeral and tough to reach barrels.

          There does appear to be an end of oil chorus emerging among some investors. If the current glut unwinds in such a manner to leave many assets stranded and permanently inaccessible, then this may be the case. Renewables can help to push down the marginal assets where they live — at the cutting edge of the risk investors are willing to assume.

          These are good moves and reports. But I wouldn’t jump to conclusions too early. Should probably do a full scale ping of the oil industry to get a better idea where the chips lie.

      • Spike

         /  November 20, 2014

        Sorry about last link having paywall. The point is made here:

        Today KLP’s CEO Sverre Thornes announced that: “We are divesting our interests in coal companies in order to highlight the necessity of switching from fossil fuel to renewable energy.” KLP has decided to invest NOK 500 million more in increased renewable energy capacity.

        http://gofossilfree.org/klp-divest-coal/

        Reply
      • Wharf Rat

         /  November 20, 2014

        “And they gas prices) will (collapse) thanks to our fracking glut”

        Only until they go up again

        Is U.S. Oil Production Set To Plummet?

        in the three instances when WTI fell below $85 a barrel since 2011, US output fell up to 200,000 barrels a day in literally a span of eight weeks from a much lower production base than now…

        http://seekingalpha.com/article/2684645-is-u-s-oil-production-set-to-plummet

        Even other news, I’m in Mendocino Co, Cal. I’ve gotten about 1.25 inches of rain in the last 25 hours, and, so far, it feels like a normal year.

        Rat

        Reply
        • So the key, WR, is how rapidly the high cost marginal producers are temporarily capped, how long it takes for the new project chain to lose steam, and whether OPEC decides on price defense or price war.

          Currently, we have a rather long project chain in the US that is currently pushing out more product gains. Also, it appears that OPEC’s stance is one of price war rather than price defense. So this glut will probably tend to range a bit longer than what we’ve seen in the past.

          As for the California drought, the current drought monitor and reports coming from the state still show record dry conditions. At a time when rains should regularly come to California, what I see is ridge after ridge reforming with an occasional break as a storm slips through. This has resulted in a very slight improvement in overall conditions. But it is nowhere near enough to break the drought. The fact that we see only slight improvement in the typically wetter month of November cause for serious concern.

          If El Niño develops more fully, we could see a drought breaker. But that hasn’t happened as yet and reports of still rough conditions keep coming in:

          http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?CA

          São Paul, on the other hand, is facing a terrible situation due to a drought that is now cutting rainy season moisture by 40-50 percent. In that case, an El Niño could spell even more trouble to an area that has already been severely impacted by influences directly related to human caused climate change.

  3. Jacob

     /  November 19, 2014

    Welcome back Robert. We were starting to get worried about you.

    Thanks for another great article.

    Reply
  4. Ouse M.D.

     /  November 19, 2014

    Climate change is a no- go topic in every media and poltical discussion.
    Even amongst colleagues, friends and family- by the way hit me just on the head painfully.
    We are all just “doomsday- sayers”.
    Meanwhile, he exponential function is catching up on all fronts.
    And our politicians and business leaders see the way out in- of course- one thing:
    even more and even more rapid growth.
    There are some pretty nasty lows developing in the Atlantic:

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCG19iQtWRg4iKRlEwMq4cSw

    Reply
    • Cheers, Ouse.

      We have a 949 mb low just south and west of Greenland now. Very deep storm with pressures similar to a Cat 3 hurricane.

      We’d expect such developments given the fact that Greenland and the Atlantic Ocean temp differential is so extraordinary at the moment. We also have a very strong temperature difference between CONUS and the sea surface just off the US east coast. Strong fuel for storms there as well.

      To show the North American dipole, I’m getting temps in Central Alaska and North Texas that are in the same range.

      Reply
  5. Mark from New England

     /  November 19, 2014

    Yes, welcome back Robert! Looking forward to your thoughts on the 2014 US election debacle and the recent developments regarding the Keystone pipeline, as well as getting caught up on the weather.

    Reply
    • I’d be curious to hear your thoughts before going into depth.

      Overall, I think it’s pretty terrible and that we’ve set ourselves back at least two years. That’s if we can contain the damage. If Keystone gets approved and there is no major off-set (huge alt energy investment etc), it’s a terrible blow to reducing catastrophic climate change.

      It’s tough to see things not devolving into all out war between the legislature and the executive. Of course, that would be a far better fate than seeing the executive cave in to pressure.

      Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  November 19, 2014

        Yes, I agree with your points. I too think it’s a huge setback, and the time when elections can influence a positive climate outcome, at least in the US, may be over. I’ve not been impressed by Obama’s previous resolve in standing up to the Republicans, heck by any reasonable standard he’s a moderate Republican.

        Bob Fitrakis over at “Free Press’ and Greg Palast, the independent reporter, have found that the margin by which many Republican Senate candidates ‘won’ their elections was very close to the best estimates of voter disenfranchisement for the particular state – due to more onerous ID requirements, felon purges and other actions taken to make it harder for non-whites and poor people to vote. Sounds like a good hypothesis, but yes, hard to ‘prove’ in the most rigorous fashion.

        In any event, given the huge amount of ‘dark money’ funding negative campaigning this election in the wake of Citizens United, and the ongoing voter suppression in the name of addressing (barely-existent) voter fraud, can we truly say that the US is a democratic-republic anymore? I don’t think we can. It’s a neo-fascist petro (and gas) state, that is increasingly shedding its democratic veneer, as Frank Zappa prophesized back in the 80’s. We’re about to see the back of the wall.

        Perhaps only civil disobedience and non-cooperation, boycotts, etc. may make any difference going forward.

        The recent news about an informal, though non-binding agreement with China is a step in the right direction, though insufficient in itself to save us from climate chaos. Anyhow, those are my two cents.

        Reply
        • The voter suppression machine is extraordinarily effective during years of low voter turnout. A kind of chicken and egg thing. But during the mid-term the impact is outrageous.

          It’s also hard not to add in the fact that mainstream media now almost entirely favors republican issues (Keystone etc). Liberal media sources have been mostly bought out, or marginalized. Flood of corporate adverts and campaign ads combine with an increasingly ill informed media to result in a populace that really doesn’t know which way is up.

          All that said, the mid term is a different beast and other factors will come into play during a general election. The problem is that we really don’t have 20 years for this to work through even a more healthy political process. And I think it’s pretty fair to say that the process is growing more toxic with the increasing influence of money.

    • mikkel

       /  November 19, 2014

      It’s not just the US of course. Here in NZ the Kiwi version of the Wall Street Democrats have majority control. Fortunately, due to MMP and the fact that there is a unicameral parliament elected all at once, the situation doesn’t look quite as dire as in the US. The majorities that the Republicans now hold suggest at least 6 years of control, unless there is some drastically unforeseen event.

      On a personal level though, perhaps it’s for the better. It’s not like any major party’s platform was actually going to be even close to enough to stop things. A full revolution of thought and basic needs is needed.

      In that sense, the recent elections have been positive. I am now hearing from many people that they have decided that since governments keep getting elected that don’t believe in governing, it is up to us to take the power that they are abdicating and start providing for the community directly. Several pioneers that I’ve been trying for years to convince to get their ideas going again have now decided enough is enough and they are going to put everything they have at stake to do so.

      I’ve been approached by several people in retirement who say they have become completely convinced to divest from the traditional finance sector and into permaculture oriented ideas; because it is obvious that there needs to be working models on the ground of permaculture at a community scale so that way we can form a new politics around it.

      Obviously there are terrible things that will happen due to out of control governments, even in spite of this, but it does provide opportunity for rebirth.

      Reply
  6. Kevin Jones

     /  November 19, 2014

    Excellent summary. Thank you. (whew)

    Reply
  7. Apneaman

     /  November 19, 2014

    Hey Robert. Is the lake effect record snow dump related to climate change? I keep thinking of CB’s lesson of heat (lake) chasing cold (Arctic air). No MSM has mentioned climate change.

    Reply
    • We have warm air riding north over the Pacific and invading the Arctic as it over-rides Alaska. We have cold air centered over Greenland and Canada driving down into North America as a result. Both the warm air invasion and cold air displacement are related to climate change via polar amplification. When that cold air hits the relatively warm lakes, we get a huge snow dump.

      I find it almost impossible to claim that this kind of weather extreme is not related to climate change. In short, it wouldn’t have happened without all that extra heat driving north and causing the cold air displacement.

      Reply
      • Phil

         /  November 19, 2014

        If this type of pattern becomes a typical pattern associated with polar amplification in USA, it will make it harder to sell the message of dangers of global warming and climate change in affected states within the USA because the deniers will simply point to abnormally cold conditions and not talk about the abnormally hot conditions occurring simultaneously in the arctic. Is there any prospect for polar vortex conditions to become more prolonged in duration and more severe as climate change ramps up. I would imagine having polar conditions settled quasi permanently over those states all winter might raise public attention.

        However, I suppose drought and summer heatwaves and fires can concentrate opinion but the impacts will probably not be evenly distributed across the states. Were many states electing republicans currently affected by severe drought? I also saw Florida elected a republican, nothwithstanding the impact that sea level rise is expected to have on that state.

        In Australia, the message will probably be simpler being linked ultimately (and over time) to increasing temperatures, droughts, fires, heatwaves, storm intensity and floods, eventually impacting on food prices and production. I can not recall seeing projections raising possibility of southern hemisphere type polar vortex conditions being an issue here.

        Reply
        • In phase II, which we are slowly entering, we see the cold air center become more displaced over Greenland and Canada, especially during winter. This drives extraordinary storms even as the Oceans and then the equator heats up. Depending on rate of ice sheet melt the temperature differences can be very extreme. In the worst case, you end up with a terrible storm track.

          Overall, the west will probably tend toward warming during winter while the central and east will likely cool at first. The hot-cold line becomes a brutal and unstable battle zone and the cold core can unwind into terrible frontal storms.

          Until the cold cores over the continents break and as long as we have the GIS, there will probably be this tendency for cold air displacement over North America during winter. Eventually, though, winter becomes less and less of a season as the Arctic goes through a prolonged warm up and as most of the warming happens during winter itself.

          As for climate change… I wonder what people in the coastal cities will say as the seas continue to rise and as they will probably tend to rise more rapidly than current predictions (3-9 feet rather than 1-3 feet).

      • Mark from New England

         /  November 20, 2014

        Robert,

        You wrote below that “In phase II, which we are slowly entering, we see the cold air center become more displaced over Greenland and Canada, especially during winter. …”

        What are these phases you’re referring to? Phases of arctic amplification, sea ice melt? Of climate change in general?

        If you described them in a previous article, please provide a link. Thanks much.

        Reply
        • Phase I — initial warming and polar amplification.
          Phase II — feedbacks negative and positive come into play. Cold air core shifts away from NH pole. Ice sheets softening/melt intensifies resulting in cold water outflows into oceans/Heinrich conditions. Major weather disruption, powerful storms generated by equatorial warming and meridional cooling as the cold air core destabilizes.
          Phase III — severe erosion and or loss of winter conditions coincident with NH ice sheet loss.

          SH progression is similar but slower due to added inertia of Antarctica (much larger ice sheets) and the cold air core stabilizing over a continental land mass rather than a rapidly warming ocean (NH).

  8. Kevin Jones

     /  November 19, 2014

    And the U of Maine is still showing Lake Ontario above avg. temp

    Reply
    • Heated up quite a bit over the summer, didn’t it? Now it’s going to spend weeks wringing out all that extra heat and moisture into the cold dipole.

      Reply
  9. Yes we’re in spring NZ at present: warm sea currents create clouds and we have mountains to precipitate rain: the earth and sea are warm during day so clouds tend stay up but each night when clouds cool it rains: Huge hail fell at night on orchards developing fruit: grass growing faster than ever seen: same difficulties with politicians blind to it all here.

    Reply
  10. Kevin Jones

     /  November 19, 2014

    Current Toronto temperature 27F Toronto Breaks, a local surfing spot (no fooling) water temp 44F

    Reply
    • And that air further inland is much colder due to local heating influence of the warm lake. Huge differential.

      Thanks for the observations, Kev.

      Toronto breaks. Sounds like an interesting surf local. I bet it’s all ice cream head aches now😉

      Reply
  11. RWood

     /  November 19, 2014

    Here we go on an uninspected roller coaster from the Koch brothers and their minions:
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/11/18/3593645/house-epa-science-advisory-board-bill/?elq=~~eloqua..type–emailfield..syntax–recipientid~~&elqCampaignId=~~eloqua..type–campaign..campaignid–0..fieldname–id~~

    Reply
  12. Kevin Jones

     /  November 19, 2014

    Sorry for the Bogart but to finish this lake effect thought, Weather Underground has yesterday for Toronto tying all time record low for date, November 18, at 19F (2008 being the other)

    Reply
  13. Kevin Jones

     /  November 19, 2014

    Buffalo yesterday with 19F and 30mph gusts over 44F water. A how to make snow experiment. Global Heating a how to lose ice experiment…(and just about every other valuable thing…in due time)

    Reply
  14. Kevin Jones

     /  November 20, 2014

    To clarify: Natural variability of the climate system over months , decades , 100’s of thousands of years is truly fascinating. UN-natural variability such as we are witnessing and with what we are learning is ever more so.

    Reply
  15. joni

     /  November 20, 2014

    Meanwhile, in Miami, there appears to be no end in sight for the current real estate boom. Will all these new towers be flooded out within the next 10 to 20 years along with the hundreds of billions in extant real estate?

    http://www.thenextmiami.com/index.php/miamicentral-supertower-become-one-tallest-u-s/

    Reply
  16. bassman

     /  November 20, 2014

    I keep getting the feeling that with current climate deals agreed and being discussed, we really don’t know how emissions are going to play out over the next decade. Too what extent can a GOP congress derail the?. I’m still not that optimistic.

    Here is why I am pessimistic. Renewables are growing and getting cheaper/more practical every year. However, there is still too much of an “all of the above” strategy that is simply increasing the extraction of carbon fuels right along with renewables. I worry that more renewables will simply complement rather than replace carbon fuels. Am I alone in this thinking?

    Reply
    • It’s good to see these climate deals going forward. But without active work to reduce fossil fuel consumption by working to winnow down the supply chain it ends up helping some, but probably not enough.

      Reply
    • Burgundy

       /  November 20, 2014

      bassman, I’ve commented upon this several times. Renewables are essentially just being added to the energy mix rather than replacing anything. Understandable in the light of falling EROEI where we need ever greater amounts of energy to stay at the same constant level of consumer usage. The ramifications of this are huge.

      Reply
      • In the context of net energy, total EROEI has fallen. True. But we do have rising EROEI from renewables, which tends to color this argument with a bit more nuance than is often suggested.

        Pricing is probably a better direct measure than EROEI as it has the most impact on current markets. In a non renewable glut situation, as we see now, a carbon pricing regime becomes a very useful tool for solidifying renewable energy gains.

        Net FF EROEI will ultimately reflect the balance sheets of the major corps and FF producer states in the form of cost to extract vs profits. We see that now in the current glut scenario. An impact that will ripple through markets. The pressure going forward will be to cap marginal production (bust cycling). But that production comes back if/when demand comes back.

        Under pure laissez faire, there’s a danger this takes out a portion of the renewable market as well, which is why policies to protect gains and price carbon are so important.

        Reply
      • Charles

         /  November 21, 2014

        This is exactly why I cringe when I see people feeling hopeful about renewables. “Yes we can” wean ourselves off FFs, but will we? What does it take to get people to ACT? Perhaps a higher level of fear and despair needs to be felt for enough people to care enough to act and implement the necessary changes. I think we need to focus less on what we could do and more on what we are currently (NOT) doing and where it will lead us. The public is too complacent. The recent elections prove it.

        Reply
        • Well, let’s think about this a little bit.

          Currently renewables are at parity with coal in many southern states. This includes solar. But many southern states have laws that arbitrarily make it very difficult to adopt solar energy. They outlaw solar lease agreements or charge fees for solar users who connect to the grid. Utilities like Duke Energy cling to old coal power plants.

          The result is that states like Florida, which has one of the richest solar resources in the country, has one of the lowest solar adoption rates. The republican governor — Rick Scott — has been instrumental in the suppression of solar energy throughout the state, refusing to adopt standards that would help a more rapid adoption.

          Nonetheless, solar and wind energy installations will exceed even those of natural gas this year when total watts installed are counted.

          It used to be that one could say that economic barriers were keeping solar and wind out. But, now that the economic barriers have mostly fallen, we confront some rather extreme political barriers erected by those ideologically and financially vested in fossil fuels.

          In any case, it is a false notion to conflate renewable energy with fossil fuel energy. They’re quite separate. And one source produces no carbon through its use, even as the other generates the majority of the human-based overburden we see now.

          Malaise and cynicism after an election tilted highly to the republicans’ favor is not at all helpful. Which is why we should continue to do our best to help free the captive consumer. I, for one, will not cede my awareness of very high political and social barriers to renewable adoption continuously erected by those aligned with fossil fuels. So if you’re looking to point the finger of blame, well that’s where it should point.

          In any case, the globe will install over 120 GW of renewable energy this year. That’s quite a bit more renewable energy that previously installed. But, yes, we need to be installing only renewable energy as new energy at this point and we should be looking at early shut downs and replacement of fossil fuel energy sources as well.

          So, yes, I can see why there is some frustration. But let’s not blame the victim.

      • Charles

         /  November 22, 2014

        I wasn’t offering any criticism or blame. What I’m wishing for is a way to get voters less complacent, so that they don’t vote into office the scum that enact the policies you rightfully criticize above.

        We are releasing more and more carbon each year. The elections show us that people are not concerned enough to elect a government that will do anything about it, quite the opposite.

        To add to the weirdness, China, the worst emitter with the worst growth rate, is also leading the charge in renewables.

        You know the definition of insanity. You’re doing a great job informing people on climate change. For my part, I’m typing (comfortably) at 43 degrees indoors using these ideas (http://www.richsoil.com/electric-heat.jsp) as a starting point and working out methods to be more comfortable at colder temps. I drive a little woos car, risking my life in an area where everyone drives monster trucks.

        It’s not enough. Emissions are constantly rising. So, I guess I’m suggesting that bloggers like you emphasize more how much trouble we’re in. Don’t pull the punches.

        But why do you assume that malaise is the result of fear and despair? What I’m trying to say is that fear, despair and dismay can be motivating emotions. For example, fear leads to anger, which is energizing.

        I appreciate the need to educate about renewables, and to have them in place if we ever decide to reduce FF deliberately.

        However, whenever I see articles about the promise of renewables, I worry it leads to false hope. People may go away thinking, “renewables, cool, “they’re on the job!”, nothing to worry about. BAU. Then they vote for a strong economy (as defined by the political scum).

        I don’t know exactly what to suggest. Maybe every article on renewables should end on a pessimistic, cautionary note, which makes it clear that all this wonderful development of renewables is bull$hit if we don’t start reducing our carbon emissions yesterday. I mean, look at the trend. http://www.vancouverobserver.com/blogs/climatesnapshot/climate-failure-kyoto-doha-one-simple-chart What evidence do you have that we’ll start reducing emissions anytime soon?

        Perhaps people don’t need hope, maybe they need to be scared to death.

        BTW, I definitely feel thanks, also, for your detailed work here describing the climate.

        Reply
        • Thanks for the thoughts, Charles. Well worth considering when it comes to messaging.

          Overall, without strong policy directly aimed at reducing carbon emissions on a global level, we don’t hit emissions reductions soon enough. Powerful interests will keep pushing to profit and link economic growth to profitable FF sources and to combat and delay renewable energy adoption and efficiency. Systems based on the old FF, low efficiency, and centralized generation models will provide strong resistance for years or decades to come.

          In addition, India, then Africa following the Chinese growth model, unless derailed and shifted to renewable based energy, will provide net carbon emission additions for decades to come even if the rest of the world manages a leveling off or gradual reduction.

          I couldn’t agree more RE creating a sense of urgency. That’s absolutely necessary. But we need to avoid falling into a state of doomerism. A tough balance to strike.

    • utoutback

       /  November 20, 2014

      You may have noticed that in spite of a glut of oil on the market and prices at 10 year lows the oil producing states are not cutting back on production. This is a historic strategy used to keep the adoption of alternative fuel down. Whenever solar, wind, etc. were being pushed and provided competition the oil states would increase production to lower the cost of a barrel of oil. Ah the market place! It’s killing us.

      Reply
      • Absolutely. The whole strategy has shifted to a price war footing. Carbon pricing is extraordinarily important in such an environment. It really does show how ineffective laissez faire is when dealing with climate change. The market forces will always favor a calcific status quo.

        Reply
  17. bassman

     /  November 20, 2014

    Here is some good commentary about global temps and weather in November for anyone who is interested.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/11/19/dear-snow-trolls-winter-weather-does-not-refute-global-warming/

    Reply
  18. Here in the Western British Iles Mid November anomalous Temps brings out in my Front Yard Reflowering Canna Lilies!! In regards to your concerns about KEYSTONE above ,perhaps even the newly elected Republican CLIMATE VULTURES will soon have to review their adherence to the FF & F( Fracking) Carnival procession if any of the concerns of RichardAmbroseIfans in the Daily Telegraph article STRANDING OF ASSETS slowly but surely seeps into the Corporate Psyche. On an aside note, many thanks to all your SCRIBBLERS for their Posts during your LEAVE(CONTEMPLATIVE) of absence we hope.

    Reply
    • Indeed Belaree. Had much to consider during my hiatus😉. And thanks are certainly warranted to the numerous and very valuable additions in my absence. As ever, all honest thoughts are welcome and very much appreciated.

      Reply
    • Fantastic article. One I hope is correct in its future analysis. Those invested in oil right now certainly face extraordinary risk. Unwinding those assets would be the wiser course and prevent what could well be termed unlimited hazard at the later stage of the game.

      Reply
    • As for the US China deals – they are certainly encouraging. But we aren’t yet near a global price on carbon or a steady framework for keeping within a 450 ppm goal. A goal that still includes a degree of rather dangerous risk, but one that is far, far better than the alternative.

      Reply
  19. Jay M

     /  November 20, 2014

    it’s not as if lake effect snow is rocket science . . .

    Reply
  20. may not be rocket science, but then, science is a dirty word, and the deniers think rockets run on blackpowder and fuses , think math is useless, and still think saving the spotted owls was a mistaske! so narrowly obsessed! grr. I am having trouble, friends. There is a part of me that wants to see N.A. devastated this winter, too see thousands uprooted and cities collapsed. Just to knock sense into some heads. Oh that there was a mark to put on doors, spare this one oh storm…

    Reply
    • Apneaman

       /  November 20, 2014

      Your not the only one thinking and feeling that way Walt. Unfortunately, it’s hard to knock heads that are stuck in the sand.

      Reply
  21. Let my people go…

    There’s no promised land left. Just the boundaries we keep collapsing inward.

    Reply
  22. john byatt

     /  November 20, 2014

    had read 4000 years previously robert, RE This high temperature departure ties 2005 for hottest in NASA’s 136 year record. A temperature level that global ice core data points toward being hotter than at any time in the past 400,000 years.

    Reply
    • John — We are clearly hotter than at any time in the Holocene and well exceed any time during the past 4,000 years:

      A good case can be made for us still being in the top range of the Eemian 120,000 years ago. But the data I’m looking at shows us hitting spikes that are hotter than the entire period referenced by the Vostok Ice core record (400,000 years).

      For reference, we now have monthly spikes in the range of +0.91 to 1.2 C above 1880s values which easily puts us in the top range of the Eemian and probably edges a bit beyond.

      Reply
  23. Spike

     /  November 20, 2014

    Permafrost carbon contributed to end of last Ice Age. Present-day anthropogenic CO2 emissions due to fossil fuels, at approx. ten gigatons of carbon a year, are greater than the release rates of this natural process by a factor of at least ten.

    http://phys.org/news/2014-11-permafrost-soil-source-abrupt-greenhouse.html?utm_source=menu&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=item-menu

    Reply
    • Thanks for that

      Reply
    • The report earlier this month was ground breaking. Still sussing it out. But a slight forcing ultimately led to an extra 100 ppm + CO2 in the atmosphere. The fact that this increase came in bursts that were preceded by methane spikes should be critical to our analysis of carbon store sensitivity to initial forcings.

      We should view the current massive human emission as the initial forcing in part of a larger geophysical event. Working to raise some of these questions now.

      Thanks for this, Spike.

      Reply
  24. Tom

     /  November 20, 2014

    Hey Robert, welcome back! I took the liberty of using this article to counter some clown’s assertion that we’re on the verge of a new ice age, with a link to here.

    All the best

    Reply
  25. Andy in San Diego

     /  November 20, 2014

    Sistema Cantareira (Sao Paolo water supply) is now at 9.9%. This put it 0.8% into dead pool. Rainfall stalled at 90 mm for Nov, normal is ~165mm. The rainy season is not in place as it should be. Dropping at 0.1 to 0.2% per day.

    Welcome back, hope all is good.

    Reply
    • Been watching the sat shots. We have a diminished monsoon hovering mostly to the north of São Paulo and recessed toward the remaining Amazon forested regions. Looks like even these precip bands are less energetic than is typical. Bad news for both the Amazon and São Paulo.

      Reply
  26. Andy in San Diego

     /  November 20, 2014

    Something I’ve been watching for a couple of months is how the melt season starts in Antarctica. Specifically how the thermal density of the surrounding oceans behave. We are aware the high ice extent is influenced heavily by the low salinity (due to run off from the continent & ice shelf melt from the previous melt season).

    The thermal density below the surface and it’s impact on that ocean surface freeze exhibits itself by the increase in surface temperatures and the retraction on the ice extent. Normal or low temps at depth, and we would see a normal delta over time in regards to the melt season. A high sub dermal temperature would cause a quicker melt. Combined with first year ice (high salinity, low density) it would reduce quicker.

    This onset of the southern summer, the acceleration of the southern melt seems pretty quick. From the celebrated high extent (celebrated by deniers) 10 weeks ago, the extent has dropped faster than normal and is now within 2 std dev, and approaching 1981-2000 average at a quick clip. Unless anything changes dramatically, it will cross below that trend line, and plumb the depths in the -2 std dev zone fairly soon.

    The oceans surrounding Antarctica are rocketing rapidly to a positive SSTA, implying a high sub surface thermal density. The surface may have shown low / normals for surface air temps through their winter however what lies below overwhelmed this very quickly.

    One area that caught my eye over a month ago is the ocean below Australia. High air temp anomalies have been rocketing from Australia directly to Antarctica for weeks. Sometimes abating, but returning as the SST & SSTA climbs. This appears to be acting as a hair dryer on an ice cube chiseling away the offshore ice on that side of Antarctica.

    An area of interest to watch will be the onset of the southern winter. Specifically the forcing of the thermal content of the ocean exhibiting itself as a positive SSTA into winter. If one looks at the Arctic, we can see the SSTA is now so strong that winter onset is unable to push it back to the normals. From the southern pending observations, the goal being how that thermal density holds up to the winter onset, and it’s delaying effect of the freeze up. At what point does the SSTA hold on like this?

    Reply
    • One bit of information I’ve been having difficulty reconciling is the difference between the GFS sea ice measure and NSIDC. In the one, sea ice extent is below the 1979 to 2000 average. In the other, we are at +2 SD.

      In any case, SHSI is well worth watching this year. No clear trend as yet, though.

      Reply
  27. Greg Smith

     /  November 20, 2014

    In 2007, Google unveiled its initiative to make renewable energy competitive with coal, called RE<C, it was significant, given Google’s influence, and then they stopped the initiative in 2011. Why? In a piece published yesterday the two leading engineers reveal their thinking. It’s still all about technology and innovation but since google is such an influential company its worth reading. "As we reflected on the project, we came to the conclusion that even if Google and others had led the way toward a wholesale adoption of renewable energy, that switch would not have resulted in significant reductions of carbon dioxide emissions…There’s hope to avert disaster if our society takes a hard look at the true scale of the problem and uses that reckoning to shape its priorities… What’s needed, we concluded, are reliable zero-carbon energy sources so cheap that the operators of power plants and industrial facilities alike have an economic rationale for switching over soon—say, within the next 40 years….imagine what it would take for the utility company that owns that plant to decide to shutter it and build a replacement plant using a zero-carbon energy source. The owner would have to factor in the capital investment for construction and continued costs of operation and maintenance—and still make a profit while generating electricity for less than $0.04/kWh to $0.06/kWh. A distributed, dispatchable power source could prompt a switchover if it could undercut those end-user prices, selling electricity for less than $0.09/kWh to $0.20/kWh in local marketplaces. At such prices, the zero-carbon system would simply be the thrifty choice….Of course, anything that makes fossil fuels more expensive, whether it’s pollution limits or an outright tax on carbon emissions, helps competing energy technologies locally. But industry can simply move manufacturing (and emissions) somewhere else….So rather than depend on politicians’ high ideals to drive change, it’s a safer bet to rely on businesses’ self interest: in other words, the bottom line.
    http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/renewables/what-it-would-really-take-to-reverse-climate-change

    Reply
    • That assumes carbon pricing is only local. It also doesn’t include the cost of moving the plant. Even localized carbon pricing creates renewable/efficiency islands that gradually crowd out fossil fuels. Google’s explanation doesn’t quite jibe.

      Reply
  28. entropicman

     /  November 20, 2014

    The NCDC monthly report is out .

    Same message as NASA.

    Reply
  29. Brian

     /  November 20, 2014

    Speaking of renewables and maybe just to cheer everyone up a little, Britain’s first poo-powered bus takes to the road

    http://phys.org/news/2014-11-britain-poo-powered-bus-road.html

    Reply
  30. Kevin Jones

     /  November 20, 2014

    No Brian, after (too) much effort, I’ve decided not to touch that! 🙂

    Reply
  31. Reblogged this on GarryRogers Nature Conservation and commented:
    At the same time we have developers wiping out habitat (http://bit.ly/1zI2JPk), we have the progress machine spewing out smoke and toxic waste. It’s as if we humans have made a careful analysis and found every possible move we can make to damage our environment.

    Reply

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