“Massive” Arctic Heat Dome Sets Up to Bake Sea Ice

There’s a massive heat dome building over an Arctic sea ice pack that is looking increasingly fragile in both model forecasts and observations. In short, very bad weather for sea ice is rapidly settling in even as the ice pack, despite recent place gains in some measures, is looking increasingly weak.

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First the somewhat good news… Arctic sea ice extent has backed off to about 8th lowest on record. Arctic sea ice area is at about 4th lowest on record. And Arctic sea ice volume, according to DMI, is in the range of 3rd lowest on record (PIOMAS looks even better). This report may sound rather bad, but when compared with  late May and early June when sea ice extent measures were at or near new record lows the data could arguably be characterized as an improvement. Yeah, there’s been some big area drops recently, but all in all, not too terrible, right?

Probably wrong… Because the Arctic is gearing up for a very powerful heat wave over the coming week. One that is likely to spike maximum summer temperatures in the High Arctic, a region that seldom shows much variance on the side of hot or cold at this time of year, by 0.5 to 1.5 C above average. A heatwave my somewhat more reserved fellow ice observer, Neven, has called ‘HUGE’ (note that Neven seldom uses caps lock) and is characterizing as something he’s not seen in all of his five years of sea ice observation. From The Arctic Sea Ice Blog Today:

However, there is one big difference compared to last year and that’s heat. Despite a very cold start, there have been several outbreaks of warm air over the ice, slowly but radically shifting the balance between extent and area data. The impact is felt on the surface of the ice pack, but doesn’t translate directly into a decrease. Not yet. In theory, it should percolate through after a while, especially if the heat persists. And right now the Arctic sea ice pack is undergoing a massive heat wave which shows no signs of letting up.

I find myself in agreement with Neven. The massive heat build in the Arctic predicted for this week is likely to be a significant event with potentially wide-ranging impact. But to understand why, it helps to get an overall picture of the broader context in which this particular heatwave is occurring. And that context includes two other stories as well — the story of human-forced climate change and the story of a still developing and potentially monstrous El Nino.

Ocean Warming Injects Heat into the Arctic

To get an idea how warming in the Equatorial Pacific and over-all greenhouse gas based warming can have such a far-flung impact, particularly on the currently building Arctic heatwave, it always helps to take a look at the behavior of the circumpolar Jet Stream. Large areas of persistently warmed water, like the one we have seen now for two years over the Eastern Pacific, have a tendency to generate high amplitude ridges in the Jet. Ridges that serve as open avenues for heat transport into the Arctic. Specifically yesterday a huge pulse of heat was traveling north along just such a high amplitude and ocean-warmed ridge:

Jet Stream July 6 2015

(Amazing high amplitude Jet Stream wave punching all the way through to the High Arctic on the back of the Eastern Pacific’s Ridiculously Resilient Ridge. Image source: Climate Reanalyzer.)

Our particular heat transporter should by now be very familiar — a ridiculously resilient ridge (RRR) — extending northward and buttressed by multiple high pressure cells stubbornly entrenched over abnormally hot water in the Eastern Pacific. Yesterday (Monday, July 6) the ridge elongated. South to north winds over-riding northward flowing warm, salty ocean water. Running up through Alaska, the heat pulse set off all-time daily highs in places like Anchorage (81 degrees and breaking the record set in 1972). The heat then spilled into the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort Seas where it met with adjoining, though lesser heat pulses over-riding Greenland and the Laptev. A gathering pocket of hot, thick air that is now pooling in the so-called sea ice ‘safe zone’ just north of Greenland.’ A precursor to the very intense high pressure cell we see developing now.

But before we go on to tell the tale of our gathering Arctic heatwave we should first take a closer look at ocean surface temperatures. As these give us a rather clear picture of the Arctic’s current vulnerability — providing for us a hint as to why heat will intensify most strongly to the north of the Canadian Archipelago and Greenland. For it is ocean surface heat that built the road that warm air followed:

Warm water plume invades Arctic

(Heat plume running all the way from Equator to Pole clearly reflected in this July 6 NOAA/ESRL SSTA anomaly map.)

Taking a look at NOAA’s July 6 Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly (SSTA) map, we find a massive plume of much warmer than normal (1971-2000) waters extending up from a plainly visible El Nino pattern, all throughout a large sweep of the Eastern Tropical Pacific. Moving northward, these steamy waters spill into two hot blobs off the Mexican, US, and Canadian coasts — a heat pool that again punches up through the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. An Equator to Pole expanse of ominously hot water that is enabling both sea ice melt in the regions directly impacted as well as a broader invasion of warmth into even the sea ice’s most secure haunts.

Heat Directly North of Greenland, Canadian Archipelago

Warmth that today aided in the formation of an Arctic high pressure ridge hitting significant heights of 1030 to 1035 mb directly between the Pole and Greenland. At 1245 Eastern Standard Time, the ridge had already intensified to 1032 mb. And for at least the next seven days both the GFS and the Euro model shows a 1025 to 1035 mb high pressure cell dominating the same region.

imageimage

(Left frame shows strong, 1032 mb high pressure system settling in to the region just north of Greenland on July 7. By July 10 [right frame], this ridge is predicted to have greatly warmed the Central Arctic zone between Greenland and the Pole. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

This persistent ridge will remove cloud cover in a large area between North America and the Pole. Sunlight, at its seasonally most intense, will multiply already widespread melt ponds on the sea ice surface. The combined solar forcing and loss of albedo will push surface temperatures higher as the ridge remains in place. And by Friday a broad band of 2-4 C temperatures is predicted to form in a bulge over the Arctic Ocean north of Greenland and the Pole. Abnormally warm temperatures and direct sunlight that will, over the next week, increase melt pressure over the last remnant of thick sea ice left to the Arctic.

In addition to reducing cloud formation and enhancing the melt-forcing impact of sunlight on the sea ice, high pressure cells in this region will have a couple of further influences. First, they will tend to compact the sea ice overall — drawing in the fringe ice while generating warm water upwelling at the ice edge. And second, the clockwise motion of air circulating around a strong high pressure cell will nudge sea ice out of the Central Arctic toward the gateway of the Fram Strait. Add in the significant impact due to reduced cloud formation allowing sunlight to contact sea ice during a period of peak solar radiative forcing and we end up with a substantial overall blow to the sea ice.

Arctic temperature anomaly

(Extraordinary high temperature anomalies are predicted for the Arctic from July 7-17. A departure more typical for winter when human greenhouse gasses have the greatest heat-amplifying impact. Image Source: meteomodel.)

Taking a look at the meteomodel anomaly map above, we find a very extreme warming of the Central Arctic predicted over the next ten days. A heat pulse to rival 2012 for this period. A melt multiplying heatwave that is predicted to push anomalies for the entire Arctic above +1.5 C beyond the early July average. A polar amplification similar to what is typically a winter manifestation of human emissions-driven anomalous warmth — this time anomalously occurring during a period when heat for the region is approaching peak intensity.

Impacts to Sea Ice Could Be Substantial

In the face of this oncoming weather, ice pack strength would be a deciding factor lending resiliency during melt-promoting conditions or a shift to a much more rapid rate of decline. Though some indicators, including a seemingly slower rate of decline during late June, may point toward more ice resiliency, a growing number of satellite reports and model analysis hint at a general and overall weakness throughout the ice pack.

This weakness can best be described as model indication of thin or low concentration ice, already widespread melt ponding, and visual indication of ice weakness in the satellite shot.

GLBb Holy Shit Model

(The US Navy’s GLBb model has always been unfriendly to sea ice. But other models are now starting to agree. Image source: US Navy.)

For low concentration ice, no model is more stark than the US Navy’s experimental GLBb sea ice thickness ensemble. I colloquially think of this as the ‘holy crap’ sea ice model. This label due to the fact that if sea ice state is really as bad as the model indicates, then the ice is basically toast. Starting in June, this model displayed a great overall weakness in the sea ice and, according to its analysis, the situation has progressed from bad to worse with most of the remaining Arctic Ice possessing a thickness of 1.2 meters or less. Easily thin enough for any nudge by weather to really start rapidly bringing the ice down and opening up very large expanses of open ocean.

If the GLBb ‘holy crap’ model were the only sea ice model making us want to say ‘holy crap!’ then we could probably breathe a bit easier. Unfortunately, another US Navy model is now also tending to elicit this response in reaction to its predictions for the next 7 days and more specifically for the next 3 days:

Arctic Sea Ice Concentration TodayArctic sea ice concentration forecast

(The US Navy’s ARCc sea ice concentration model predicts a very rapid rate of sea ice decline over the next few days. Image source US Navy.)

The top image in this up and down comparison shows the US Navy’s ARCc model’s interpretation of sea ice concentration for July 6 of 2015. Note the extensive green regions showing a 40-50 percent sea ice concentration. It’s a huge swath of ice including large sections of the Chukchi, the Beaufort the ESS, the Laptev, as well as remaining ice in the Kara Sea, and Baffin and Hudson Bay. Now watch what happens to those large sections of lower concentration ice from July 7 to July 10 in the ARCc model 30 day history and forecast summary. Almost all that green is wiped off the map. It’s like losing about 1 million square kilometers of extent and 600,000 kilometers of area in just 72 hours. Or about 10,000 square kilometers of ice per hour. A precipitous fall that would mark an extraordinary and likely unprecedented rate of loss should it emerge as the Navy model predicts.

But you know what they say about models — no model is perfect and every model ends up wrong in some manner or another. So the question here is — how likely is it that the Navy models could be correct or incorrect this time?

To try and tease this answer out we could also look at other sea ice concentration maps. Notably all the major ones including Cryosphere Today, Uni Bremen, and NSIDC currently show sea ice looking either thin or very thin. Specifically, Uni Bremen has shown some amazing contrast over the past 48 hours:

Uni Bremen July 5Uni Bremen July 6

(AMSR2 model analysis of sea ice surface state shows very rapid thinning in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas during the past 24 hours. Image source: Uni Bremen)

The left image in the above comparison is from the AMSR2 model analysis for Arctic sea ice concentration on July 5. The right image is the same analysis but for July 6. Note the substantial change in the sea ice concentration for the Beaufort and Chukchi seas over just one day. A change that is consistent with the pulse of warm air and water riding up through the Eastern Pacific and through Alaska, the Bering and the Chukchi. Another holy crap moment, and not at all of the good variety. To say the least, a similar response north of Greenland and the CAA would be devastating.

Moving away from models and back to observations we find that from the satellite vantage the entire Arctic Ocean displays an ice pack in various shades of azure. By color analysis alone we can readily see that the 2015 ice (July 6 MODIS image) is far more melt pond embedded than 2014 or 2013. 2012 is a tough comparison due to NASA-MODIS’s format change from that year. But the widespread melt ponding alone hints at a reduced resiliency for the ice when compared with recent years.

Arctic Ice Pack July 6

(Arctic sea ice turns blue color characteristic of widespread proliferation of melt ponds on July 6. Also note very thin and diffuse sea ice in the Beaufort and Chukchi. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

Turning to the Chukchi and Beaufort, we see a visible confirmation of the weakness indicated in the US Navy and Uni Bremen models. Beneath the smoldering outflow of the Alaskan fires we can plainly see the decayed state of ice. The floes greatly disassociated with widening gaps appearing between diminishing ice clusters.

As satellite gives us an overall view of the Arctic from above, local observations can help provide a sense of the sea ice state at the surface. During recent years, cameras mounted on buoys throughout the Arctic have provided us with a first-hand account of the story of Northern Hemisphere sea ice decline. And during recent days almost every camera-based buoy has shown an extensive expansion of melt ponds and open water. (Extensive melt ponding extends as far north as the Pole).

In the swiftly thinning ice pack of the Beaufort even the contrast of a single day can be quite stark.

Beaufort Open WaterBeaufort Open Water Waves

(Warm storm kicks up under the gradient imposed by a building heat dome of the Arctic. Top and bottom frame provides a stark tale of impacts in just one 24-hour period. Image source: USIABP.)

In the above top-bottom comparison of RACS#2 ice buoy photos we find that wide but placid areas of sunlit open water in the Beaufort Sea on July 6th (top frame) have rapidly transformed to wind-driven 1-2 foot waves whipped up by 15-25 mile per hour winds on July 7th (bottom frame) in association with a tightening gradient around the strengthening high pressure in the Central Arctic. Waves of this kind can deliver a significant amount of melt forcing to the ice — mixing cooler surface waters with warmer waters below as well as rocking through the ice floes with a rain of incessant, ice-breaking blows.

Conditions in Context: Rapid Melt Likely On the Way

Increasing model agreement indicating rapid sea ice melt, observations of sea ice weakness via satellite and buoy based systems throughout the Arctic, and predictions of a substantial Arctic heatwave all point toward a high and rising risk of rapid sea ice melt. Larger global trends, particularly heat transport from the Equatorial Pacific all the way to the northern Polar zone through the mechanisms of El Nino, human based greenhouse gas heat forcing, and the associated Ridiculously Resilient Ridge, heighten this risk even further. Finally, a wide array of observations indicate that such rapid melt is already starting to set in. Given this increasing agreement and confluence, it appears that the late June ice dispersal is likely over and that serious trouble for Arctic sea ice has now set in and will remain in play for at least the next seven days.

Links:

The Arctic Sea Ice Blog

Cryosphere Today

Uni Bremen

NSIDC

The Polar Science Center

NOAA/ESRL

Earth Nullschool

US Navy

LANCE-MODIS

Hat Tip to Neven

Hat Tip to Frivolous

Hat Tip to Jim Hunt

Hat Tip to Climate Hawk

 

 

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104 Comments

  1. Colorado Bob

     /  July 7, 2015

    Rainforest Fire in Washington May Be Ominous Sign

    The Queets rain forest in Washington state’s Olympic National Park is the American jungle — one of the last remnants of the primeval temperate rain forests that once stretched from southern Oregon to southeast Alaska. But now, that precious ecosystem may be endangered by fires, due to climate change and a punishing drought that has affected even the normally moist Pacific Northwest.

    Fires have burned holes into some of the trunks of the centuries-old Sitka spruce and western hemlock trees, causing the massive trees — some of them up to 250 feet tall — to come crashing to the ground, the Seattle Times reports.

    Link

    Reply
    • Terrible, Bob. Just terrible. Draw a triangle from Oregon to the Mackenzie Delta to the Bering Sea coast of Alaska and there you have an epic fire hotzone for this summer. Everyone there has exited the Holocene and entered the Fire Age… I don’t like it. 3.1 million Acres burned in Alaska already and I really, really don’t like it.

      Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  July 7, 2015

        Forest fires: A disaster of historic proportions

        Forest fire season has hit Canada early, and it has hit Canada hard. As of Monday more than 2 million hectares of forest were on fire, thousands were on the run, several battalions’ worth of soldiers were being scrambled to Saskatchewan and even B.C.’s famously moist rainforests had become dry enough to be torn through by flames. National Post reporter Tristin Hopper reports that with searing temperatures and bone-dry conditions forecast for the immediate future, it may just be the beginning:

        http://www.thestarphoenix.com/Forest+fires+disaster+historic+proportions/11194028/story.html

        Reply
    • Oh and methane spike to 2475 ppb (1827 atmospheric average) to boot… All this crap is just ridiculous. Can we please stop burning fossil fuels so we can start dealing with the problem already?

      Reply
      • I think you ought to be expecting to chronicle far worse to come? There isn’t any rational reason for optimism on the grand scale at this point, surely? There wasn’t to me years ago…

        Greatly appreciate your efforts though, you’re one of the few sources I still bother to check.

        Reply
      • danabanana

         /  July 8, 2015

        I’m with ccgwebmaster on this. Your despair reminds me of where I was 6 years ago. Back then I reached the limit of optimism and hope. This is why.

        Science clearly tells us what will happen if we add more CO2 to the earth’s system.
        It has been known for over 100 years.
        Eminent scientists have repeatedly spoken about the consequences.
        … and most important, the observable Data speaks for itself.

        In spite of this, politicians are not taking action. Instead they are still openly supporting the FF industry. Subsidies cut on Renewables but maintained on FF. FF corps looking at the Artic with rapacious intent.

        So either they (the rulers of the world) are well aware of consequences and thus allowing for the loss of coastal cities or waiting for a total war (West vs BRICS perhaps?) or they are counting on Geo-Engineering or they are actually really that stupid but I don’t believe the later is true.

        Most of us already do what we can at our level by reducing our consumption to only needs, not to wants as well as making changes to our energy consumption and transport. Others like yourself, neven, J Box, J. Francis, P. Wadhams, J Hansen do a fantastic job of keeping us informed, and for that I thank you.🙂

        Reply
        • Dana —

          Just because I’m frustrated doesn’t mean I’m going to drink the doom hemlock. If we really want to shut down fossil fuels, we need to focus directly on that. Seems to me the doom mindset has fed directly into (mostly harmful, expensive, exploitative, and unable to address the larger problem) geo-engineering stopgaps or into an overall malaise that has (probably mostly unintentionally) enabled continued FF consumption more than anything.

          Despite slow and torturous progress on emissions reduction, we do have a continued failure of leadership (especially in places like Canada and Australia). In my view, the best thing we could do is throw the fossil fuel cheerleaders out. But that effort involves a combined engaged public and a going directly after the source of fossil fuel money and media influence in the political and public opinion shaping fields of play. Divestment is helping, the broader campaigns are helping. But right now they’re not yet working fast enough.

          In any case, we should realize that the power of the fossil fuel industry makes this a rather heavy lift. Big oil is many times more powerful than big tobacco ever was. It’s more on the order of the 19th Century struggle to end slavery in the US. But in this case, the economic scale of the issue is global.

          Despite all this, I think we are nearing a number of tipping points for fossil fuel viability. There’s a huge shift in investment away from fossil fuels. The cost of wind and solar just keeps falling. Falling to the point now that detractors have started to spread the meme that these fuels are ‘too cheap’ (I find this utterly laughable considering the earlier cost and EROEI arguments). In addition, it’s becoming increasingly clear that switching away from fossil fuels is a moral issue as well as an existential one and despite an irresponsible silence on the part of many mainstream media sources, the issue of human forced warming is growing in importance to the public.

          So yeah, the situation is ugly, but there are trends that provide a reason to continue to push a sea change in the way we do business. And despite the power of fossil fuels as an industry and a political and media force, they aren’t so powerful as to dominate everything (as some seem to think). To this point, we still have a number of strengths and options at our disposal. But we have to move really fast if we’re going to avoid an additional 1.5 to 7 C warming this Century (on top of what’s already locked in). That’s what’s at stake now, the very bad to absolutely terrible outcomes. We’ve already probably locked in the tough to pretty bad stuff that comes with 1.4 (pretty optimistic) to 3 (very pessimistic) C warming this Century under even a rapid all out response.

      • “When the End of Human Civilization Is Your Day Job”

        “Among many climate scientists, gloom has set in. Things are worse than we think, but they can’t really talk about it.”

        http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a36228/ballad-of-the-sad-climatologists-0815/

        Reply
    • Dave Person

       /  July 7, 2015

      HI Folks,
      So you guys know. The U.S. Forest Service is in the midst of cutting down much of the remaining old growth temperate rainforest in Southeast Alaska. Their motive is to salvage the decaying timber industry in Alaska and satisfy the Alaska Congressional delegation, which will try to transfer the land to state or private ownership if the Forest Service does not cut it. This is one of the great natural resource disasters of our time and it makes me so pessimistic about addressing climate change because the entire economics of the situation requires federal subsidies and makes no economic or scientific sense. The Tongass National Forest is the largest and arguably most important national forest in North America for many reasons. There is no sustainable rationale for it except to prop up local industry for the very short term, yet it has never been stopped. It is like Kabuki theater – the outcome is preordained and nothing can stop it. It sucks and any U.S. citizen should be ashamed that their own government is culpable and incurable.

      dave

      Reply
      • Is the Human species or at least a majority of them so suicidal, I am beginning to wonder

        Reply
      • Ann

         /  July 8, 2015

        I live where Trans Mountain is digging in a new pipeline from the tar sands to the coast of B.C. to sell the worst oil on earth, dilbit (diluted bitumen) to China. They’re going right through my orchard and vegetable gardens. There’s nothing I can do to stop it. I’m devastated. Work will begin in 2016. I imagine them working their excavators and bulldozers in the smoke from forest fires, unable to see in front of them. Is this the definition of irony?

        Reply
  2. Impressive post, Robert. Thank you for your work,

    Reply
    • Thank you for the kind thoughts. I promise to keep doing my best for you guys. Nearly cracked my skull doing this one. And I do very much appreciate your good work as well.

      Reply
  3. Colorado Bob

     /  July 7, 2015

    This Aqua/MODIS shot yesterday is very informative for this post, note where the smoke is blowing :

    Fires and smoke in northern Alaska

    I’ll go look at today’s passes.

    Reply
  4. Robert In New Orleans

     /  July 7, 2015

    Ice Cave collapses in Washington State because of the heat, but of course no mention of you know what by the media.:-/

    http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/three-injure-after-washington-state-ice-caves-collapse-again-n387756

    Reply
  5. climatehawk1

     /  July 7, 2015

    Tweet scheduled, proof sent.

    Reply
  6. Colorado Bob

     /  July 7, 2015

    There’s one good thing so far this summer , Siberia is quite.

    Reply
    • True. Relatively so. But the big burning there usually doesn’t really get going until late July. Big trough through the eastern side too. Ridge out west doesn’t look too promising, though.

      Reply
    • Bob — that big high is already torquing the ice. In this case, the July 7 MODIS shot shows a big section separating away from its firm base in Greenland and the CAA. If that continues we’ll see an unprecedentedly large polynya appear where the remaining thick ice is supposed to be located. Worse, we could have the whole central ice pack just break off and start floating free. That would be a first ever event. One that would not bode well for the ice by season’s end.

      Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  July 7, 2015

        Yep –
        I looked at several shots at the 250 meter resolution , from Siberia across to Greenland. nothing but rotten ice .

        Reply
      • Robert In New Orleans

         /  July 8, 2015

        I have a saying that goes: Anything is possible, but the real question is how probable can it be? In this case I think the Arctic Ice has a real chance this year of folding up like a cheap accordion by September.

        Reply
  7. John Baldwin

     /  July 7, 2015

    Robert,

    I’ve been reading your informative and carefully researched climate change posts for several months. Two thoughts: 1) Independently, you may be documenting key climate tipping factors that ultimately will lead to the end of this civilization. In this regard, I trust you are keeping a separate, non-electronic record for safe keeping. 2) You may be sowing the seeds of a grand and sweeping novel; in the tradition of the superb Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars series. Sometimes, it takes a story narrative for people to listen, cooperate, and take action. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for the kind thoughts, John. For my own part, I sincerely hope we are not looking at the end for us — a transformation to a better civilization in the face of crisis would be my vote. But, yes, these are existential issues and ones that are out of context to the current way of doing business. So there is risk, primarily in failure of leadership and in paralysis of leadership by current corporate power brokers. I am too innately hopeful to consign myself to inevitability, but in the tracking of these larger trends there is a clear imperative to tell the truth as is.

      With regards to a larger work of fiction related to the crisis, I think this is a superb notion and just such a project may already be in the works😉. I do keep hard copies as well as a safeguard.

      Best to you and thank you again for your kind thoughts. I sincerely hope we can somehow prevent a degree of the harm that is coming to so many who did little or nothing to contribute to this crisis.

      Reply
  8. Colorado Bob

     /  July 7, 2015

    Geneva smashes records with temps nudging 40C

    The mercury rose to almost 40C in Geneva on Tuesday, smashing weather records, as other cities in western Switzerland also recorded historic highs on the seventh day of a sizzling heatwave set to give way to thunderstorms and cooler conditions on Wednesday.

    http://www.thelocal.ch/20150707/geneva-smashes-records-with-temps-nudging-40c

    Reply
  9. Colorado Bob

     /  July 7, 2015

    Reply
  10. Quick edit, Robert. Paragraph under jet stream graphic: Yesterday (Monday, June 6)- JULY 6.

    Reply
  11. I tweeted this important post to Democracy Now, Robert.

    Reply
    • Thanks, DT. Very much appreciated! Also great and informative comments on the NW fire and air quality situation. How are things in PDX?

      Reply
      • Dan B

         /  July 7, 2015

        Robert; Seattle report: The sky here is cloudless. It’s light grey to white, no sign of blue anywhere. Cascade mountains are almost completely hidden by the haze. The haze is keeping the temperature down. It’s only supposed to get to 84 degrees F today. The forecast is for showers over the weekend which may give us lightning – scary. Old growth trees are starting to die.

        Reply
  12. Great, well researched post, Robert. Thank you. Something to watch very closely this week.

    Also, have you, or any of your readers, been following the SST anomaly off of George’s Bank (just to the east) in the Gulf Stream? Was 11.5F above normal last evening, and was near 80F (same as the Carolina Coast). Does anyone know if there is a potential teleconnection pattern with a very hot northern Gulf Stream and other areas in the Arctic? (There was some research that a hot zone near PNG was teleconnected to Alaska ice melt in 2012 I believe…was wondering if the Gulf Stream had such known teleconnection). Or any research/analysis on potential conveyor belt ramifications?

    Reply
    • Hello Mehmet and thank you for the kind post. For my part, I think the warming in that region is due to a Gulf Stream back-up. A substantial fresh water pulse from Greenland has switched AMO to negative and this is in turn disrupting northward propagation of the Gulf Stream beyond the Georges Bank region. The result is a temperature dipole with hot waters backing up southward along the North American coast and colder waters forming near the southern tip of Greenland. This also reduces bottom water formation and is a key aspect of AMOC weakening as reported by Rahmstorff earlier this year.

      These enormous anomalies have been in place since last Fall and had an impact on the severe weather we saw in the US Northeast during that time. The next large Greenland melt pulse will likely serve to amplify this condition, further weakening AMOC and helping to push the North Atlantic more to a “Storms” type scenario.

      Reply
  13. Jeremy

     /  July 7, 2015

    Not the best source for science stories but one that stood out in the Daily Fascist was this:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3152508/Are-shrubs-causing-global-warming-Arctic-plant-growth-changing-heat-sun-reflected-space.html

    Bit counter intuitive, more plant growth less CO2 but seems it reduces albedo and warms the permafrost, oh and ground squirrels and beavers are the cause of global warming!

    Brilliant science journalism by the way Robert.

    Reply
  14. Colorado Bob

     /  July 7, 2015

    Two Maps Show Greenland’s Sudden Melt Season Onset

    It appears that Greenland’s melt season is making up for lost time.

    After a cool spring kept Greenland’s massive ice sheet mostly solid, a (comparatively) warm late June and early July have turned half the ice sheet’s surface into liquid, well outside the range of normal for this time of year.

    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/maps-greenlands-melt-season-19196

    Reply
  15. Scarey that the photo confirmed the model! CT graph shows ice loss following 2014’s.

    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/arctic.sea.ice.interactive.html

    Reply
  16. Colorado Bob

     /  July 7, 2015

    On a happy note Ringo is 75 years old today –

    Reply
  17. Colorado Bob

     /  July 7, 2015

    The Beatles – With A Little Help From My Friends

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  July 7, 2015

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBDF04fQKtQThe Beatles – With A Little Help From My Friends

      Reply
      • Thanks for that, Bob. Great tunes.

        Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  July 7, 2015

        It’s grim work , We all need to be reminded that people are basically good. Weather Underground has just banned me for the same post.

        For only “less than an hour” , usually it’s 3 days.

        Reply
      • Are you kidding, Bob? That will get you banned!? I occasionally see comments from deniers at that site. I hope the site’s managers are as harsh with those comments. Personally, I think you’re a wonderful contributor and add lots to the conversation. I always enjoy your comments, Bob🙂

        Reply
  18. Colorado Bob

     /  July 7, 2015

    One more –

    Reply
  19. Colorado Bob

     /  July 7, 2015

    One more to raise our hearts –

    herb alpert – rise 1979

    Reply
  20. Colorado Bob

     /  July 7, 2015

    Back to being a grim faitheist.

    Reply
  21. labmonkery2

     /  July 8, 2015

    Looks like Hell’s not just coming for breakfast…it’s also staying for lunch AND dinner.
    Another ‘nail in the coffin’ of humanity, for sure.
    I echo your request to stop ff burning, but lament that our society and the world at large, are not yet ready to part with that energy source – too lucrative and too easy to obtain (stick a straw in the ground and PRESTO!).
    And as most on this blog have stated in the past, we certainly do appreciate your extensive research and distillation of these events. Too bad we have the attention span of a dog…SQUIRREL?!?!? and cannot come together to address this problem.
    As a fan of SciFi with the likes of Asimov, Heinlein, and the Tom Swift series during my ‘formative years,’ and remembering that when there was any sort of calamitous calamity to befall mankind, there was an almost instantaneous and collective response to mitigate. Even if that required inventing a new technology, he said with a sunny smile. I do hope that we’re not too late with a remedy.

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  July 8, 2015

      Looks like Hell’s not just coming for breakfast…it’s also staying for lunch AND dinner.

      Reply
  22. Colorado Bob

     /  July 8, 2015

    Bernie Sanders’ Plan To Make Solar Power More Accessible

    On Tuesday, Vermont Senator and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders introduced legislation aimed at making it easier for low-income families to take advantage of solar power. The bill, called the “Low Income Solar Act,” came the same day that the Obama Administration announced a similar program aimed at installing 300 megawatts of renewable energy in federally subsidized housing by 2020.

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/07/07/3677745/bernie-sanders-introduces-solar-legislation/

    Reply
    • Nice! Gotta love Bernie. That guy really has a heart. Solar for low income addresses so, so many wrongs. Free the captive consumer and aid in reducing the impact of pollution which, as with so much else, hurts the poor the most. What the conservatives keep failing to understand is that the more the least wealthy among us suffer, the more we all suffer.

      Go Bernie, and good job Obama.

      Reply
  23. labmonkery2

     /  July 8, 2015

    Quicksilver Messenger Service – What About Me – perfectly poignant.

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  July 8, 2015

      Nobody remembers these guys . What a perfect song.

      Reply
      • Ann

         /  July 8, 2015

        Bob: *I* remember those guys. I went to every Fillmore concert where Quicksilver played. Great music.

        Reply
      • Quicksilver was the best dance band.
        Mona (1969) – Quicksilver Messenger Service

        Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  July 8, 2015

      labmonkery2

      I bought this alum in a Sears store for $ 2,50 .

      Reply
      • labmonkery2

         /  July 8, 2015

        I still have my vinyl collection, including most of their albums. They don’t get much play these days, but I do have a QMS channel on my Pandora feed. Brings back a lot of memories – if I could still remember them…😉

        Reply
    • Wharf Rat

       /  July 8, 2015

      Reply
  24. Griffin

     /  July 8, 2015

    Incredible post Robert. It would be easy to glance at the models and make a predictive post, but as always, you have gone much further in depth. It is this reason why you are, in my humble opinion, the very best reporter of our unfolding saga. Like many who frequent this blog, I spend an inordinate amount of time reading articles and blog posts about climate. Really none of them compare to what you put together in yours. Your posts, and the following that you have created and allow to contribute, have made this space the go-to location for what has happened on a daily basis on our planet. Thank you again for keeping us learning. I try to pass on what I learn here and use it to educate those around me as to the true severity of our situation. I know that is something that you would hope would be done. Cheers.

    Reply
    • It’s not just about seeing. It’s about understanding, personal growth, and grasping the clear notion that what we each do makes a difference. You, Griffin, and each honest heart here, you make me a better person, improve my ability. I strive to give that good gift back.

      Also, thanks again for your observation the other day. Perhaps, due to your good eye and the attention we were able to call to it, research will be directed that way as well.

      In my opinion, cooperative effort, when it takes root, beats exploitative effort every time. Let’s make it real and reduce this miserable fate one good, helping mind at a time.

      Reply
    • Steven Blaisdell

       /  July 8, 2015

      Seconded.

      Reply
  25. Colorado Bob

     /  July 8, 2015

    labmonkery2

    In world of jackasses it’s good to be the burr under the blanket.

    Many thanks for that post.

    Reply
  26. Reblogged this on jpratt27.

    Reply
  27. Hello Robert.Excellent article! Thanks for your work, it’s very well done and much appreciated.
    I have a CO2e question. I don’t know if you know how to calculate them but I saw it ltely and it read 480.
    I know the result of that equation depends much on the value according to life span of methane. Since what really matters is what’s going to happen in the next 5 or 10 years, what would be the value of CO2e, if you know the answer…

    Have a nice day
    Jack

    Reply
    • The methane currently in the atmosphere would have to stick around for hundreds of years to have its full CO2e impact. Were that to happen and were all else remain constant the total effect would be in the range of 500 to 540 CO2e. It’s worth noting that full cessation of the human emission knocks about 400-600 ppb in just 8 years with continued declines barring a rather substantial carbon store response as methane.

      Reply
  28. Andy in San Diego

     /  July 8, 2015

    Anyone else stop and take note of the scope / scale and frequency of these events compared to just 10 years ago?

    Reply
    • It’s something I think of often, Andy. Since about 2005 (a remarkable year meteorologically) it seems that the frequency and scale of every event has really taken off. Back in the early 2000s I used to think that we would see the deniers shut up once disasters starting becoming more frequent and AGW starts to affect the general population. How wrong I was! The speed at which things are unfolding is disturbing, and the denier crowd is shouting as loud as ever. Sadly, the media is completely silent as our beautiful world crumbles around us. Crazy times we live in.

      Reply
    • We should try to put together a broader assessment. But the rate of wildfire increase in the north, the ever increasing number of natural disaster refugees, and the Munich RE numbers alone should give pause.

      Reply
  29. Andy in San Diego

     /  July 8, 2015

    Reinforcements from as far away as Australia and New Zealand have been recruited to fight hundreds of forest fires in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan.

    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/07/07/australian-new-zealand-crews-join-efforts-to-battle-canadian-forest-fires.html

    Reply
    • Matt

       /  July 8, 2015

      No Worries Andy, us lovely people here in Australia just love to send our fire crews over to help! especially now that Tony Abbott has declared that AGW doesn’t exist in Australia!! we don’t need them any moore🙂 Not only that but we have a new shiny policy, burn all the forest first!, yes that’s right, the best way to beat those pesky summer fires is to burn the crap out of anything standing prior to the season starting. So if you guys need any help with that Damn AGW thing or to beat off those pesky greenies, just give old Tony a call, he will fix it!! he can even send over his commissioner for wind farms to help out🙂

      Reply
    • 3.25 million acres burned in Alaska so far… Record fire season with record warm global temperatures and an El Nino that has already broken records in some measures…

      Reply
  30. Fractal

     /  July 8, 2015

    We’re headed into the spark season here in the PNW. We were able to dodge a significant bullet with the 4th of July fireworks bans and the stage 1 restrictions in NW Montana, but we’re sitting at high risk until real precip takes hold.

    As noted in other comments, the particulates that were once the Northwest’s forests fill the skies each day now

    IMSR Summary
    July 7th, 2015
    risk

    National Preparedness Level
    Level 3
    National Fire Activity
    Initial attack activity: Moderate (229 new fires)
    New large incidents: 11
    Large fires contained: 6
    Uncontained large fires: 28
    Area Command Teams committed: 0

    Source:
    Incident Management Situation Report

    Reply
    • Yes. Horizon to horizon, the skies over PDX are now colored a murky white to light gray.
      One has to wonder if we will ever see ‘clear’ skies again.

      Reply
  31. Colorado Bob

     /  July 8, 2015

    RS-

    Let’s go. Tine to step up.

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  July 8, 2015

      Hammer and claw.

      Reply
    • I’m doing what I can at the moment. Will crack my head against the wall and see if there’s anything else organizationally that might help out. Ever read — “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress?”

      The idea is to help, not hurt. To transform, not tear down. And to, for God’s sake, not trade one form of exploitative domination for another.

      Reply
      • Haha, absolutely. You got a sentient computer that can shut off the oil wells?🙂 Seriously, just keep doing what you are doing–it’s a very valuable service and is as much or more than anyone else I’m seeing. Hope I’m getting you more eyeballs.

        Reply
        • Don’t I wish! And the fictional notion of dropping wheat sleds on FF producers from orbit looks like a conceptually less destructive option than simply letting them continue to pump the climate wrecking crud out. At least the civilization in the book developed a counter-culture to prevent the collapse once they saw it coming. They fought for survival when they knew they had to. The nations of the world are imbecilic if they are not doing the same.

          And you absolutely help. Very, very much appreciated.

        • I like it! “Bojemoi!” But should we be humane and give them warning before the rocks drop?

        • Absolutely. Captive workers and captive consumers alike. The only ones to blame here are the greedy decision makers at the wheel driving us all off the cliff.

  32. Fantastic post, Robert! Thank you for such an in depth and extensive piece. It’s really frightening to witness what’s happening in the Arctic. And it’s unbelievable that the general public has no clue that we are fundamentally altering the planet in such profound ways.

    Reply
  33. Tom

     /  July 8, 2015

    Wednesday, July 8, 2015
    Fracturing of the Jet Stream

    http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2015/07/fracturing-of-the-jet-stream.html

    Earlier this month, the jet stream was forecast to move over the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia on July 12, 2015, 12:00 UTC, in one, strong, long stream of wind, as discussed in the previous post and depicted below.

    The situation has meanwhile been adjusted in a more recent forecast. This recent forecast shows the jet stream getting fractured over Siberia on July 8, 2015, 12:00 UTC, resulting in a sequence of vertical wind streams. This is a new development, rather unknown to the forecasting model that works on the basis of the jet stream flowing horizontally in one strong and narrow stream around the globe. [lots more]

    Great job, Robert and crew.

    Reply
  34. Tom

     /  July 8, 2015

    El Nino Gets Reinforced by Cyclones as Event to Last Until 2016

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-07/el-nino-gets-reinforced-by-cyclones-as-event-to-last-until-2016

    [quotes]

    The El Nino forming across the Pacific has been turbocharged by a series of tropical cyclones that helped to shift the direction of trade winds, potentially adding to warming that’s evoking parallels with the record 1997-98 event.

    Several cyclones, including a rare storm in the Southern Hemisphere this month, resulted in a strong reversal of trade winds near the equator, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said on its website on Tuesday. That’s set to increase temperatures below the surface, which then may raise sea-surface temperatures further in the coming months, it said in a fortnightly update.

    [and]

    The “El Nino will persist until at least the end of 2015,” the Australian bureau said. “Models also indicate that further warming is likely. Historically, El Nino reaches its peak strength during the late spring or early summer,” it said, referring to seasons in the southern hemisphere.

    Reply
  35. Andy in San Diego

     /  July 8, 2015

    Melt ponds forming around Petermann Glacier in the past 2 weeks. They’re really grown in the past week tying into Roberts post.

    http://www.arctic.io/explorer/8/2015-07-07/9-N80.77668-W54.87899

    Further south by Jacobshavn Glacier, the melt ponds are forming further inland onto the ice sheet. Number and size growning

    Reply
  36. Ouse M.D.

     /  July 8, 2015

    Remember, according to the Atomic Scientists in 2015:
    It is 3 Minutes to Midnight

    http://thebulletin.org/press-release/press-release-it-now-3-minutes-midnight7950

    1)Climate Change
    2)Nuclear Tensions

    Can You connect the dots?

    Reply
  37. June Roullard

     /  July 8, 2015

    Story about current coral bleaching event in today’s Guardian.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/07/six-percent-of-worlds-coral-could-be-lost-in-current-mass-bleaching-say-scientists

    “NOAA predicts third-ever global bleaching event could cause a 6% global reduction in coral reefs in less than two years. More than a third of coral reefs affected may be destroyed forever”

    Reply
  38. james cole

     /  July 8, 2015

    All that is happening in Alaska and Canada is truly bad enough to digest. The next shoe to drop to really take this to a global scale disaster would be for Brazil’s Amazon to enter a very bad fire cycle. The looming El Nino, if I am not mistaken, is probably going to bring the Amazon a major dry period. With fire already operating to new dynamics inside the Amazon, a prolonged dry spell could not help but cause a very serious fire outbreak.
    When the story of Global Warming hit the media in the 80’s, one thing they harped on was the threat to the Amazon Rain Forest. They predicted Global Warming could and would threaten it’s future as the earth’s lungs. Is this the next fire disaster we will read about? Australia too would be major dry in an El Nino, so it’s a given the bush fires will rage there.
    When Alaska, Siberia, Canada, Australia and Brazil all experience the same terrible climate induced fires, will the politicians and media just ignore it all, like always.

    Reply
    • The Amazon is already in a six month drought — likely due to a combined impact from this long-period El Nino development, deforestation, and the constant insult of ramping global temperatures.

      Reply
    • Amazon is already in a fire cycle. A human provoked one: deforesting is up since our forest code laws were changed in Brasil, and the main “tool” used in deforesting is fire.

      Reply
      • As a curiosity, when did they change? Post financial crisis? Seems like a lot of very bad and counter-productive practices came about at that time. It’s worth noting that the Amazon would have been far more resilient to warming without the current deforestation. That said, warming alone, especially beyond 2 C would have been a serious blow. For the Amazon, now, it’s the combined impact of that old human-caused stripping of the Earth bare with the newer and more pervasive forced shift in atmospheric temperatures to levels that support less and less life.

        Reply
      • Hi Robert,
        2008 wasn’t as bad in Brasil as 2015 is being, and then our economy was stil going reasonably well. The president then, Lula, was much smarter than his sucessor, Dilma (I don’t like neither, but Lula is an intelligent politician, I must admit. I just wish he had chosen his sucessor better), and while not great in environmental pratices, he kept, at first, two great environmental ministers (Marina Silva and Carlos Minc), both of which had different styles, but meant business and got results. Our deforestation rates were falling in 2008, and kept falling until 2012-2013.

        Some economic factors were crucial to that fall. The deforestation-soy boycott by Europe ranks first in my list, but the recession elsewhere also contributed to the fall: it meant lower prices for commodities, and less foreing investors buying land. As the economic pillars of deforestation here are illegal land selling (the main pillar), illegal wood selling and soy farming, low prices on those impact deforestation for less. Note: though just deforested areas are used for “cattle ranching”, the cattle is used more as a ferrament of deforestation. Between bovines eating new baby trees and brachiaria grass smothering them, new trees can’t grow back in “pastures” made of newly deforested land. If cattle is not added to those areas, the forest will take them back in 2-3 years, right after being cut and burned. If cattle is added, after one year or two, even fallow land won’t grown back for 10-12 years. The “cattle ranching” used is incredible cruel to the cattle (bovines weren’t meant for the amazonian climate, and aren’t given shelter nor suplemental feed), and highly unproductive (1 famished cow per 10-15 hectares), so, though meat is sold from these poor beasts, the cattle ranch business isn’t lucrative enough to estimulate deforestation by itself.

        Besides that, our government was activily trying to lower deforestation then, mainly using two big operations: Arco de Fogo (Arch of Fire), a conjunt operation with our Federal Police _ PF, where I work_, our rangers _ IBAMA and a special squadron of our army _Força Nacional, to investigate and punish deforestation crimes in the most deforested counties in Amazon; and Arco Verde (Green Arch), an administrative operation of IBAMA, our agricultural research agency EMBRAPA and the enviromental secretaries in the diferent counties, to regularize land titles and train farmers in agroforestry.

        Our president changed to Dilma (same party, obscure politician until Lula choose her as sucessor). Dilma isn’t a wily fox like Lula, and she clashed with a lot of old congressmen and senators. She needed political allies, and choose the big agribusiness lobby as the one she liked best, supporting their call for a new Forest Code law. Some say that the Forest Code started being resented after so many years (some parts of it were older than our atual Constitution) because it was being enforced for the first time, with Arco de Fogo and Arco Verde.

        The new, agribusiness aproved Forest Code is from May/2012. The changes it brought took a few months to take hold, but since then, deforestation is steadly going up (http://imazon.org.br/publications/?lang=en). Dilma’s diplomatic insistence and last “environmental offering” to reduce deforestation to zero “liquid” till 2030 (instead of simply 0… actually, the offer made don’t even ammounts to enforcing the current agribusiness aproved law) are also agribusiness aproved.

        Arco de Fogo and Arco Verde, which were crucial to diminish the deforestation rates before, are being… well, they haven’t been cancelled, as it would be bad press, but they are no longer working (people are moved around and instead of going after environmental crimes, they’re kept in an office doing bureucratic work).

        Even the recession, which has now hit Brasil hard, isn’t being a factor to diminish the deforestation rates, as once it would, as commodities prices are up and the soy boycott has been removed. And the main opositor to Dilma, Aécio Neves, is also a friend of big agribusiness (I really hope Marina Silva reacts and present herself as an effectual 3rd way, but she disappeared from the media since the last elections). So, things are looking very bleak here.

        Reply
  39. This is the first multi-source credible analysis that places all of the dynamics in a vivid, yet ugly and urgently alarming story. Great work. We are so screwed.

    Reply
  1. This is Hands-Down the Best Analysis of Arctic Ice Collapse Conditions That I Have Read | Planet in Distress
  2. June Snow Melt Brings July Arctic Sea Ice Collapse | robertscribbler

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