Warning From Scientists — Halt Fossil Fuel Burning Fast or Age of Superstorms, 3-20 Foot Sea Level Rise is Coming Soon

First the good news. James Hansen, one of the world’s most recognized climate scientists, along with 13 of his well-decorated fellows believe that there’s a way out of this hothouse mess we’re brewing for ourselves. It’s a point that’s often missed in media reports on their most recent paper — Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise, and Superstorms. A paper that focuses on just two of the very serious troubles we’ll be visiting on ourselves in short order if we don’t heed their advice.

The way out? Reduce global carbon emissions by 6% each year and manage the biosphere such that it draws carbon down to 350 ppm levels or below through the early 22nd Century. To Hansen and colleagues this involves a scaling carbon fee and dividend or a similarly ramping carbon tax to rapidly dis-incentivize carbon use on a global scale. Do that and we might be relatively safe. Safe, at least in the sense of not setting off a catastrophe never before seen on the face of the Earth. That’s pretty good news. Pretty good news when we consider that some of the best climate scientists in the world see an exit window to a hothouse nightmare we’re already starting to visit upon ourselves.

The bad news? According to Hansen and colleagues, even if we just continue to burn fossil fuels and dump carbon into the atmosphere at a ‘moderate’ pace some of the terrifically catastrophic impacts of human caused climate change are not too far off.

A Moderate Pace of Burning

The new Hansen paper takes a look into both our geological past and our climate future in an attempt to give us an idea what may be in store. In this scenario, model, and paleoclimate based study, Hansen and colleagues assume two things about global human civilization. The first assumption is that we don’t follow the worst case, business as usual carbon emissions policies that lead to around 1000 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere by 2100. It is instead assumed that some effort is given to reducing coal, oil, and gas consumption. That some renewable energy, increased efficiency and behavior changes replace a significant portion of future fossil fuel emissions. But the most effective solution — a complete transition away from fossil fuel burning over the next few decades — fails.

A1B1

(A1B is a ‘moderate’ emissions scenario that, according to model essays, is likely to see between 2.5 and 3.5 C warming by the end of this Century and around 700 ppm of CO2 accumulation. That is, without the kind of major ice sheet response indicated in the new Hansen study. Image source: Knutti and Sedlacek.)

As a result, we end up with around 700 parts per million carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 2100. In such a case we’ve followed what the IPCC community terms as the A1B or ‘moderate’ fossil fuel emissions scenario.

A Question of Melt Rate Doubling Time

It is in this context that the Hansen paper attempts to determine a key factor that will have wide-ranging impacts on ocean health, the continued existence and lifespan of coastal cities, and on the severity of the weather itself. That factor is captured by a single simple question — if we continue a moderate pace of fossil fuel burning, then how rapidly will ice sheet and ice shelf melt double?

To Hansen this is a critical question. One he has already done quite a bit of work to answer over recent years. And according to his findings it looks as if land ice melt rates for both Greenland and West Antarctica could now be doubling every 5-20 years. It’s a doubling rate that may find a historical allegory in the milder yet still intense glacial outflows of times long past. And it’s something that, according to Hansen, is being directly driven by an extreme pace of human-based greenhouse gas accumulation.

The Eemian — Significant Sea Level Rise and Terrible Storms Under Far Lower CO2 Forcing

To this point, Hansen’s new paper takes a dive into the paleoclimate study of an ice age interglacial that bears some stunning similarities to our own, human warmed, time period. He looks at the Eemian, a warm period that occurred 130,000 to 115,000 years ago. A period that featured temperatures in the range of 1-2 C above 1880s values (we’re in the process of hitting 1 C above 1880s values this year). A period in which CO2 levels were in the range of 285 parts per million (about 15 parts per million higher than the Holocene average before humans spiked that level to 400 parts per million during recent years). And a period that, according to Hansen’s broad study of past research, included numerous Heinrich type glacial outburst and melt events.

Back then, at 285 parts per million CO2 levels, seas were as much as 5-9 meters (16 to 30 feet) higher than they are today. The global climate, on the other hand, was much stormier. For two Heinrich type events that Hansen investigated were found to have dramatic impacts on severe storms in the North Atlantic during the Eemian. Hansen found large boulders propelled up onto the islands of Bermuda and the Bahamas by what appear to be powerful storm waves. Hansen also noted chevron shaped wave channels carved into the calcified sand beds in the Bahama Island Chain.

Heinrich Event

(Heinrich events included major glacial outflows like the one seen here at Jacobshavn, Greenland. Note the significant ice volume outflow through the channel at center frame. Also note the white dots in Baffin Bay indicating ice berg discharge. For reference, bottom edge of frame is about 100 miles. In past Heinrich Events outflows like the one seen above hit high gear as glaciers released armadas of ice bergs into the oceans which generated ocean and atmospheric changes. As the ice bergs melted, they deposited rocks on the sea bed. These piles of ice raft debris then became a signature geological feature of Heinrich events in the ancient past. Image source: LANCE MODIS.)

It paints an overall picture of very stormy weather in the North Atlantic as a result of these Heinrich ice sheet melt episodes affecting Greenland and West Antarctica. These melt events drove fresh water out into the North Atlantic and the Southern Ocean at the rate of about 0.5 to 1 meters of sea level rise per century. The expanding cold, fresh water along the surface zones in the upper latitude waters shut off heat exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere by generating a stratified ocean state. This fresh water wedge interrupted the plunging of heavier, salt-laden waters in the North Atlantic and the Southern Ocean. A loss of heat exchange that resulted in the cooling of airs directly over the fresh water outflow pools.

Meanwhile, since heavy, saltier waters were no long diving to the ocean bottom in these regions — broader ocean circulation was interrupted. As a result, heat from the equator was no longer traveling poleward. The equator warmed. The cold, fresh water outflow regions cooled. And this high temperature gradient subsequently became a powerful storm generator — providing extreme baroclinic potential energies for the storms that likely reshaped the ocean bottom and deposited massive boulders upon islands throughout the North Atlantic.

It’s worth noting that the 5-9 meter sea level rise during the Eemian occurred in the context of global temperatures that are now similar to our own (1-2 C above 1880s values). But it’s also worth considering that the underlying CO2 and greenhouse gas conditions for the current age are far, far worse. Peak global CO2 during the Eemian never hit higher that 285 parts per million. For the Anthropocene age we are now leaving the 400 parts per million CO2 level in the dust. Meanwhile, the pace at which we are warming is also more than 10 times faster than the pace of warming to peak Eemian heat values. And it’s these two factors — an extreme greenhouse gas overburden combined with a very rapid pace of warming that has Hansen and colleagues very concerned about our climate situation over the next 10-80 years.

Land Ice Below Sea Level — Amplifying Feedback For Melt

Turning to the current day, there’s a growing number of reasons why we should be concerned that rapid land ice melt, large fresh water outflow to oceans, and resulting superstorms could be in our future. First, we’ve learned that the topography of Greenland and Antarctica include numerous channels that tunnel deep into its great glaciers at depths well below sea level. When oceans warm, and they’re warming as you read this, the submerged, sea-facing slopes of glaciers are confronted with more and more heat gnawing away at their under-bellies. Just a 0.1 C increase in water temperature can melt away a meter of ice over the course of a year. Multiply that by glaciers with faces that are submerged hundreds of feet deep whose sea fronting cliffs extend for many miles and you can end up with quite a lot of melt due to very little warming. As more of the undersides of glaciers melt, more of the water tunnels inland and large masses of ice are rafted away from the central ice exposing still more of the land anchored ice to a warming ocean flood.

image

(Image from Hansen Paper shows how land ice melt generates ocean stratification which is an amplifying feedback that enables ocean bottom warming and more land ice melt. Note — AABW stands for Antarctic bottom water, NADW — North Atlantic down welling. Image source: Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise, and Superstorms)

As bad as this dynamic may sound, the process includes one more wrinkle that makes it even worse. As the undersides of ice shelves erode and more fresh water laden ice bergs are pulled out into the ocean, these ice bergs begin to melt en mass. This massive ice melt develops into an enormous and expanding pool of fresh water at the surface. And its this troublesome demon that traps heat in the deeper ocean levels. So, in other words, as the ice from the land glaciers floats away and melts it traps and focuses more heat at the base of these great glaciers. It’s an amplifying feedback. A very serious kind that doesn’t even require the human forced kick to create severe trouble. One that during the Eemian really wrecked the weather and caused massive surges in ocean height.

It’s a process that Hansen and his colleagues believe make both Greenland and West Antarctica very vulnerable. A process that could, when combined with the high velocity human heat forcing, produce melt rates that double every 20, 10 or even every 5 years. But of the two — Greenland or Antarctica — which is worst off?

Greenland topography

(Topographic map of Greenland sans its great ice sheet. Most of central Greenland’s mass is now below sea level. It’s a basin that now holds a miles high ice mountain. Various channels allow ocean water access to the central ice mass should the channel openings melt due to warming oceans. Such an invasion could set off a rapid sea level rise driven by Greenland melt. Image source: Livescience.)

Greenland, for its part, is little more than a great Archipelago held together by its stunning ice mass. Remove the ice and the interior of Greenland would flood, leaving a ring of islands as a final remnant. Though deep, most of these channels run up slope. And this feature, according to the Hansen study, may be one saving grace for potential Greenland ice melt pace. Up slope channels limit the impact of basal melt by serving to check rates of catastrophic destabilization. So though Greenland is certainly vulnerable to ice melt due to the fact that many channels cut hundreds of feet below sea level and into the island’s glacial heart, it is not as vulnerable as West Antarctica.

There, many channels cut deeper beneath the Antarctic ice mass. But not only are they below sea level by hundreds of feet as with Greenland, they slope down. They slope down and not for just a little ways under the ice sheet — some of these ocean heat skids extend in down-sloping fashion for hundreds of miles beneath the Antarctic ice. The result is a kind of skid, that once unlocked by initial melt, can continue to expose larger and large chunks of bottom ice to the warming ocean. Allowing, ultimately, the creation of new warming seas underneath the ice and floating it away in very rapid fashion.

In West Antarctica, ice shelves facing the Weddell and Ross seas both feature these dangerous retrograde slopes. In East Antarctica, the Totten Glacier is likewise vulnerable as are many other glaciers surrounding the vast periphery of Antarctica.

Retrograde slope Ross ice shelf

(Retrograde slopes behind ice sheet grounding lines are just one reason why Antarctic land ice is so unstable. Image source: Ice Sheet Mass Balance and Climate Change.)

Finally, in addition to being surrounded by the warming, deeper waters of the Southern Ocean, in addition to featuring dangerous retrograde slopes that channel warming sea water further and further inland and beneath the ice sheets, West Antarctica itself sits on a geological hot bed. Though not mentioned in the Hansen study, recent work also highlighted that West Antarctica rests atop a geologically active zone that had formed numerous sub-glacial lakes warmed by geological activity. This added geological heat makes West Antarctica that much less stable — an instability that when given the shove of human heated oceans is leading the Larsen B Ice Shelf to completely collapse by 2020. It makes Antarctic land ice that much more vulnerable to the added heat human beings are forcing into the oceans and opens up the ominous possibility that melt rate doubling times for West Antarctica could become quite extreme indeed.

Modeling Land Ice Melt’s Impact in the 21st Century — Facing A Coming Age of Superstorms

So what does all this mean? In the worst case (5-10 year melt rate doubling times), it’s possibly 3 meters of sea level rise by mid Century, perhaps 7 meters by end Century under business as usual fossil fuel emissions. Even in the more moderate cases (10-20 year melt rate doubling times), 1 meter of sea level rise by mid Century and 3 meters or more of sea level rise by end Century is not entirely out of the question, according to Hansen’s new research. These potentials are markedly different than the more conservative rates outlined by IPCC which is still calling for a less than 1 meter sea level rise under even the worst case human carbon emissions scenarios (1000 parts per million CO2, in the range of 1200 ppm CO2e).

So much fresh water hitting the oceans would cause a rapid stratification. A rapid loss of ocean to atmosphere heat exchange in the regions impacted. A train wreck of heat backing up at the equator. Such a train wreck would result in temperature extremes and gradient differences that would make the Eemian Heinrich events (mentioned above) seem moderate and slow by comparison.

Hansen has been working on global atmospheric models for tracking these events for a number of years now. And this new study is an improvement on his earlier, model-driven “Storms of My Grandchildren” work. Hansen’s new model runs are imperfect simulations of what may happen given large melt pulses from Greenland and Antarctica. The models, according to Hansen, mix the ocean water too much, reducing the overall impacts of stratification through the mechanism of the fresh water wedge. However, even with this imperfection, the temperature gradients displayed by these models are absolutely stunning. A clear warning to anyone who still wants to keep burning fossil fuels that they’re really grabbing the dragon by the tail.

image

(A mid range simulation including 10-20 year melt rate doubling times and 6 feet of sea level rise by 2080 — half Greenland, half Antarctica — shows enormous weather impacts in the form of a severe, superstorm generating, temperature gradient. Image source: Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise, Superstorms.)

In the above image we can see just one of these model runs. The model assumes a 10-20 year doubling time for rate of land ice melt. It contributes equal portions of melt from Greenland in the north and Antarctica in the south. Greenhouse gas accumulation is considered to be along the moderate case A1B track. By 2080 we have about six feet of sea level rise globally and about 600 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere. The more rapid rate of melt has put a temporary damper on the rate of global atmospheric warming which has dipped to 1.11 C above 1880s values (just slightly higher than today). But much of this cooling is localized to the Southern Ocean and to an extreme cold pool in the North Atlantic between Northwestern Europe and Greenland.

There a massive outflow of fresh water has shut down the ocean’s ability to exchange heat with the atmosphere. AMOC has been vastly weakened. The Gulf Stream is backed up along the US East Coast and into the Gulf of Mexico. Heat is building in the Arctic opposite Greenland and all along the Equator. Temperature anomalies in the range of 17 degrees Celsius below average occur over the ocean fresh water pool. This drop is enough to generate year round winter like conditions in the cold pool region even as other sections of the atmosphere around it continue to warm or retain severe excess heat.

Energy imbalance at the top of the atmosphere rockets to between 2 and 4 Watts per meter squared. What this means is that, in failing to ventilate heat to the atmosphere in the North Atlantic and Southern Ocean, the world ocean system has continued to accumulate a massive amount of heat. Heat that is now going to work warming the ocean bottom and hitting the bases of the already rapidly melting land ice.

Sandy

(More superstorms in our future. If Hansen’s new research is correct storms like Sandy will grow both more powerful and more common as Greenland dumps ever increasing volumes of fresh water into the North Atlantic. Image Source: NASA.)

For the North Atlantic, it is the greatest of understatements to say that an area of perpetual winter surrounded by warming airs and sitting atop a warming deep ocean is a major storm generator. Summer time temperature deltas between the center of the cold pool will range from near zero C to 20s, 30s and 40s C over nearby ocean and continental land masses. It’s like taking the High Arctic and shifting it to Scotland while all the adjacent airs warm. Temperature gradient and baroclinic (pressure gradient) energy for storm generation will be on the order of something that modern humans have never experienced. The potential for superstorms in this model simulation will, notably be quite high.

Final Notes — Superstorm Conditions Could Emerge Sooner than Models Indicate

The point to consider here is that large scale land ice melt sets in place forces that result in a weather wip-lash of epic proportion. It’s been the heart of Hansen’s work for many decades and it’s an issue that we really need to consider as time goes forward. A dwindling time for response that may well be much shorter than even Hansen’s models indicate. First, ice sheet vulnerability may well be higher than IPCC officials imagine and we could well be on a slope of melt rate doublings in the range of 5-20 years now.

global sea level change

(Global sea level rise keeps hitting a steeper and steeper slope. Image source: Dr. James Hansen, Columbia University)

Second, Hansen’s models likely capture the atmospheric impact of such large-scale land ice melt later than would happen in the real world. This later capture is due to the fact that his low resolution models mix the ocean heat more with the atmosphere than would occur under the kinds of ocean stratification events that we are likely to see due to these doubling times. Third, and finally we return again to the paleoclimate time of the Eemian where there is ample evidence that a mere 0.5 to 1 meter per century rate of sea level rise due to melting Greenland and West Antarctic ice during that time set in place conditions to generate superstorms with high enough peak intensity to deposit massive boulders upon islands in the Atlantic and to carve the impression of gigantic, long-period waves into the sea bed.

Anyone reading this work and considering the notion that some of the greatest scientific minds this age has birthed could be right is immediately confronted with the realization that the gargantuan forces we are playing with are not to be trifled with. And yet, the trifling continues despite the wise and well considered scientific warning to relent.

Links:

Hansen Paper: Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise and Superstorms

Dr. James Hansen, Columbia University, Former NASA GISS Lead Scientist

Knutti and Sedlacek: Robustness and Uncertainties in Climate Model Projections

The Eemian

LANCE MODIS

Livescience — Topographic Map of Greenland Sans Ice Sheet

Ice Sheet Mass Balance and Climate Change

NASA: 10,000 Year Old Ice Shelf to Collapse by 2020

IPCC Sea Level Change

NASA Earth Data

Storms of My Grandchildren

 

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217 Comments

  1. Colorado Bob

     /  July 24, 2015

    From the last thread I forget who posted it :

    Paul Beckwith: Can global sea level rise 7 meters by 2070?

    Beckwith comments on the new Hansen paper-

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  July 24, 2015

      HT –
      humortra

      Reply
    • A point to consider is that SLR is more likely to pulse than be exponential. The exponential studies give us an idea where things might be headed. But it’s more likely to progress through a process of destabilization, exponential increase, massive melt pulse, then pause before hitting another similar ramp.

      I didn’t include this commentary as I thought we’d let the Hansen Paper stand on its own merits.

      Good points by Paul here, though. If we hit a pure exponential or if the size of the destabilization is large enough then, yeah. The potentials can hit pretty high. My opinion is still in the range of 6-9 feet by end century. Could certainly be worse, though.

      Reply
      • Six to nine feet. Such a SLR would wipe out South Florida as a place to live or even visit, and make a mockery of New Orleans’ new 100-year-hurricane-capable Federal Levee System.

        Reply
        • Yep. We might have three feet if we can get off fossil fuels quick enough. I’m somewhat doubtful given the current science coming in on glacier stability, though. In any case, cessation of burning now is still a far better future than the alternative. Humans have dealt with sea level rise before. It’s a huge blow to everything. But we might be able to manage if we plan and respond well. What we’ve not dealt with is a terribly stormy and geologically rapid transition to a hothouse Canfield Ocean world. Nor do we want to.

        • Well to me it looks like we’ll see more than 9 feet by century’s end. Even with the 1-meter IPCC SLR, Venice will be 4 meters BSL because down there, the land is expected to subside by 3 meters or 10 feet..

        • 3 feet SLR translates to 4-5 feet for US East Coast. Even the best case looks bad. We are unlikely to get the best case…

        • What about the US Gulf Coast — just as high?😮

        • I read an article some years back (I can’t find it) written by one of the Udalls, in which he suggested that the only realistic thing to do about preserving any of New Orleans would be to turn the French Quarter into a walled island.

        • Now that’s to the point.

      • I meant Venice, LA. Venice, Italy will probably be even worse off; it frequently gets 2-foot floods in St Mark’s Square now.

        Reply
      • @Miep, I have seen studies that even with a stable-state sea-level, New Orleans by 2050 or 2100 at the latest would be a walled polder surrounded by an enlarged Gulf of Mexico.

        As for walling off the French Quarter, do you recall the study suggesting landfilling within the walls to elevate the neighborhood?

        Reply
  2. Colorado Bob

     /  July 24, 2015

    Record Ocean Temperatures Threaten Hawaii’s Coral Reefs

    By: Jeff Masters ,

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=3053#commenttop

    Reply
  3. Outstanding article. I think of all the climate bloggers out there Robert’s synopsis, as usual, will be best. I made a contribution to Robert and would encourage others to do the same – he really is doing an amazing job!

    Reply
  4. wili

     /  July 24, 2015

    Thanks for another stunningly good treatment of a complex paper. I’m disappointed that some of Hansen’s colleagues seem to be trying to pour cold water on this (Trenberth, Schmidt…). NYT’s Revkin has a typically poohpoohing piece out on it.
    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/23/whiplash-warning-when-climate-science-is-publicized-before-peer-review-and-publication/

    At least the quote included there from Alley points out:

    “if the IPCC most-likely value proves to be in error, the future rate of rise is more-likely to be higher rather than lower. In this as in many aspects of the climate-change problem, the distribution of possible impacts of a warming world is skewed, with a long tail on the costly side.

    This in turn means that focusing on the most-likely rise from the IPCC rather than the full distribution will tend to underestimate the full challenges we face, rather than overestimating them.

    And, if someone believes that uncertainties in scientific understanding justify a wait-and-see attitude toward global warming, looking at the distribution of uncertainties suggests a serious reconsideration.”

    Reply
    • Thank goodness we have folks like Hansen out there. Otherwise, we’d be struggling through this world where IPCC’s conservative values give more excuse for higher carbon emissions. That’s the real issue here. You under-estimate the impacts, the policy moves too slow and everyone risks taking a huge bite in the rear in a few years. You then have this litany of ‘worse than expected’ impacts. Impacts we could have prevented if we were more aggressive. That’s not the side of this crisis I want to be on. You really don’t want to fiddle with climate change. If IPCC is right on SLR, which I find to be unlikely due to the fact that we don’t even have a dynamic ice sheet model that can produce good melt rates, and due to the fact that hitting 1-2 C warming in Paleoclimate usually results in rapid destabilization and Heinrich Events, then what harm does it do to transition faster. We get a cleaner world that runs on renewable energy sources that become ever cheaper. For my part, I’d call that a bonus.

      Reply
      • wili

         /  July 24, 2015

        It’s all about risk assessment. If the Hansen paper can be shown to present a credible risk of relatively abrupt sea level rise, that scenario should be what we plan for, just as we put on our seat belts every time we get in the car, even though there is a low probability of a crash on any particular trip.

        Pretty much everywhere else in life, we don’t prepare for the most likely outcomes; we prepare for the unlikely but reasonably possible outcomes that would be catastrophic if not prepared for. That’s what insurance is all about, for Pete’s sake.

        Why isn’t this stunningly obvious principle, which we apply nearly everywhere else, not what we are applying in this, the very most important of impacts to prepare for!?

        Reply
      • Ike Bottema

         /  August 1, 2015

        wili, yes agreed it’s all about risk assessment. The trouble with the seat belt analogy though, is that putting on a seat beat costs nothing but a couple of seconds. Removing fossil fuels from the possible sources of energy costs much more.

        Reply
    • Have to say I agree RE risk assessment. For my part, the risk is more than credible. I’d call it likely if we keep burning fossil fuels and possible (to a lesser extent) even if we stop soon. And the seat belt analogy is an excellent one. We need seat belts for our climate and energy policies. We don’t have them currently.

      Reply
  5. wili

     /  July 24, 2015

    So besides being called ‘speculative’ (how can models of a very uncertain future be anything but?), the paper has been criticized for being (when it’s not being ‘speculative’) unoriginal.

    What would you say is the newest significant thing here?

    I had heard of ocean stratification before, but I hadn’t seen it connected to dynamics leading to slr in quite this way before–so that was relatively new to me.

    But then I don’t read absolutely every paper that comes out on the subject, so maybe this is already well worn territory in the science.

    Reply
    • Well, for what it’s worth, I’ve written a few of my own ‘speculative pieces’ here about how ocean stratification and the fresh water wedge can melt the under bellies of glaciers. My work is not science directly — more observational threat analysis. So Hansen and others are more than welcome to incorporate it into science without a mention directly to me. I haven’t seen much in the way of science on that particular bit prior to this one and I do read a lot of papers.

      The word ‘unoriginal’ in my opinion is thus more an ad hominen attack. As is the word speculative. IPCC is equally speculative that their own slow rates of sea level rise will bear out. They extrapolate based on a narrow consensus and a not fully informed by the physical mechanisms at play understanding of what’s going on with the great land ice sheets. Our understanding grows, but so does the human heat forcing and the rate of destabilization. My view of their partially informed consensus extrapolations are that they are potentially too conservative. They’ve shifted a bit closer to a more true consensus of sea level rise estimates. But the real range, if a true consensus was used would be 3-9 or possibly 3-12 feet as many scientists see more sea level rise and not less.

      Reply
      • wili

         /  July 24, 2015

        Yeah, rather than hurling these slanders, it would be much more useful for the scientific community and for the world for some of these other experts to point out exactly where they think the ‘speculation’ is likely to have it wrong.

        What is really unoriginal is pointing out that these findings are outside of what the IPCC concluded, as, for example, Schmidt does. Well, duh. They themselves point this out. That’s kind of the point of the paper. That says nothing about whether it is good science or not.

        Reply
    • The IPCC guys have gotten defensive. They’re in the middle and they take hits from all sides. I try to give them slack unless they get too hard edged — as they did with Shakhova and Simeletov (note pretty much all science on the issue of methane has now been silenced by the adversarial nature of the mainstream science to that particular outlier, a sad outcome for another risk related issue).

      Reply
  6. A few years ago, I heard Jim Hansen speak. It was a small group in a church. You may know that he has grandchildren that he loves dearly. During the talk, he mentioned the kids and choked back tears. It broke my heart. This guy knows what he’s talking about but he’s being ignored. He will go down in history as the climate change “Paul Revere” but unlike the Colonists, nobody listened to him. We are living in the Age of Stupid.

    As always, thank you, Robert. Great work.

    Reply
    • I agree. Climate change Paul Revere. The man has heart and a genius intellect too. We’d be immensely ignorant not to listen to this amazing combination of compassion and foresight wrapped together in one man.

      Reply
  7. Reblogged this on The Secular Jurist and commented:
    Wake up, people! This is our imminent future!

    Reply
  8. Nuwan

     /  July 24, 2015

    How about near term arctic melt potential? (until end of this month)

    Reply
    • Sea ice…

      I will be posting another update early next week. As predicted in my previous post, we have hit or diverged below the 2014 line in most of the major measures now. With two and a half more days left to this week, I’m confident more of the laggard measures will follow suit.

      The observed and predicted influx of heat into the Pacific side (both air and water) has had and continues to have serious impacts on sea ice integrity. The ESS is particularly hobbled with most of the ice now melted or in a rapidly melting state. Laptev has shown significant losses due to the action of the persistent high. This will likely intensify as the high moves to the Siberian side.

      Storms and heat entering the Beaufort and CAA are knocking the thick ice off grounding lines north of the CAA and so we see a widening polynya there.

      Those are a few observations that I’ll expand on in my Monday or Tuesday sea ice update.

      Best Nuwan and tell Goddard he’s a chump.

      Reply
  9. wili

     /  July 24, 2015

    Shared on fb, linked and quoted on POForums and neven’s Arctic Sea Ice Forums, and linked at RealClimate.

    Spread the word, folks; keep spreadin’ the word.

    Reply
  10. Colorado Bob

     /  July 24, 2015

    Well I finally read the post , (I spread it around first) . I’ve been reading these observations for sometime now, This is your best one yet. Any layman can understand this. And that is your gift.

    Well done young sky walker.

    Reply
    • You got me grinning from ear to ear with that one, Bob. I put a boatload of work into this piece over the past few days. Not the least of which was reading the Hansen Paper as a kind of crash course. Reminded me of the work we used to do at Janes.

      So thanks for the kind words, Obi-Wan😉

      Reply
  11. Colorado Bob

     /  July 24, 2015

    A word about these storms in the past –

    This is Dinosaur National Monument :on the Utah / Colorado border. :

    There are thousands of bones from hundreds of animals all piled in what was once a bend in river . Think about a flood that killed all these animals In days. And the bodies all piled up on a sand bar as the flood receded.

    We have no idea just how big storms in record were, but trust me your singles on your roof won’t make the cut.

    Reply
  12. Maria

     /  July 24, 2015

    Hi Robert, thank you for this thorough discussion of Dr. Hansen’s paper. I’ve been reading here for about 2 months and can’t thank you enough for what you and the other posters here do to contribute to the “laymen’s” knowledge re: climate change.

    I’ve been wanting to donate for the past 2 days and each time paypal, after giving them all the information, takes me to a page that essentially says that the payment did not go thru and requests that I go back to the original page(yours) and begin all over. Which I have done without success.

    I noted upthread that someone else was able to make a contribution. Any ideas re: why my transactions are not going thru?

    Reply
    • If you are in another country sometimes trying to donate through a blog setup can hang up. If Robert can give you his PayPal address you should be able to do it directly.

      Reply
    • Thanks for the kind thoughts, Maria. I’m very glad we’ve all been able to help RE understanding climate change. There’s quite a lot of confusion over the issue to be sure and any part we can play to help make it easier to understand is good work, in my view. So thanks again.

      RE PayPal. … I honestly don’t know? Perhaps try again on a different computer?

      Reply
    • Also, do you actually have a PayPal account? I don’t know what happens when you try to use PayPal without a paypal account. They run you through verification processes when you set one up.

      Reply
  13. Maria

     /  July 24, 2015

    Thanks Robert and Miep. I’m in the USA and I don’t have a paypal acct— generally they let you make donations without one. I’ll try setting one up and see how that goes….

    Reply
    • Okay, only other suggestion I have is whether you’re trying to do this from a mobile device and Robert doesn’t have mobile devices enabled. I ran into trouble with that recently.

      Reply
      • Nope, Miep. Via my laptop. I appreciate your efforts to troubleshoot. I’ll keep you posted.

        Reply
  14. Maria

     /  July 24, 2015

    PS: Miep. Re; whether I’m in another country, maybe Paypal doesn’t recognize the Republic of California.😉

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  July 24, 2015

      Ha, Ha , Ha.

      Reply
    • LOL, Robert. Or perhaps a gallon of water as collateral😉 I established an account and that seems to have resolved the issue. You should be seeing the payment soon? Great.

      Reply
  15. Colorado Bob

     /  July 24, 2015

    RS –
    My great friend in Colorado before the net once said :
    “If you don’t toot your own horn , no one else will”. You seem to have advanced that idea.

    Reply
    • I tend to take the long view. Doing good work is its own reward and it’s too much goddamn work tooting my own horn (boring too).

      Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  July 24, 2015

        No, if one has goal , then one uses all their assents. Period.

        Reply
        • All guns are certainly on line for this fight, as you can probably tell. The choice between research and self promo is a pretty easy one to make.

  16. Tom

     /  July 24, 2015

    Robert gets a big “toot” from me – this article was exceptional and i’ll be spreading it around (like i do many of your posts). You are a superb researcher Robert.

    Reply
    • Cheers, Tom and best wishes. I really appreciate the kind words. Put a lot of elbow grease into this one so it’s good to know it worked out. Got a lot more work to do, though.

      Reply
  17. Is the vertical scale on that Greenland topographic map exaggerated? The mountains seem too high to be possible.

    Reply
  18. Phil

     /  July 24, 2015

    More from Trenberth. Seems he is really going after Hansen. Certainly seems to discount the value of Paleo evidence and also the model used by Hansen. In some regards, similar to his attitude towards Francis’s research – see link below.

    https://theconversation.com/study-predicts-multi-meter-sea-level-rise-this-century-but-not-everyone-agrees-45139

    My understanding was that IPCC dumped down on SLR – excluding a lot of statistical based research that pointed to possibility of higher sea level rise because their ‘go to’ climate models could not simulate that type of increase. In that case, they concluded that it must be the statistical models that are at fault or dubious and not their models and modellers (Trenberth is a part of the latter community). The overall similarity in the treatment by these scientists of arctic specialists and methane issue is also striking.

    Reply
    • They bet a lot on a few models, and do a lot of PR work to gloss over potential holes. Sad to see these kinds of fractures. But modern science is not immune to it. We know our knowledge isn’t perfect. But we have a good idea of the trend and the potential range. So why not look at the broader context of that range of risk and include it?

      Reply
      • Phil

         /  July 25, 2015

        I found Trenberth’s views on using Paleo evidence very interesting, essentially inferring that because of uncertainty over estimating time/dates scales involved and also using proxy measures for climate variables of interest implies that using Paleo evidence is quite suspect.

        I do not think Schmidt and Alley, for example, would agree with that proposition. Also it would bring into question more generally the whole debate about climate sensitivity inferred from the Paleo record.

        Reply
        • I find the paleoclimate data to be much clearer and a good back-check for any new report that comes out. In my view, folks ignore the paleoclimate data at risk of ending up dreadfully wrong.

      • mikkel

         /  July 25, 2015

        A comment below that post says, “Where sea levels will end up is already pretty straightforward, as set out by Dutton et al’s 2015 review Sea-level rise due to polar ice-sheet mass lossduring past warm periods; with atmospheric CO2 at Pliocene-like levels, we must expect sea levels to get there also, ie 6-20 metres above present.

        The issue for us is how quickly sea levels will approach those levels.”

        And Trenberth replies “This is correct. The issue is less whether sea level will go up but when. I often say it will happen sooner or later. Jim has suggested that things could run away and it could happen much sooner, but I do not find the arguments convincing. That does not mean though, that we (all the people on Earth) should not do all we can to slow down and stop climate change.”

        So I wouldn’t say he’s discounting paleo completely (perhaps just the dynamics that RS talks about — which is the only place I’ve ever read about them).

        Arguing about whether 3-5m is likely this century while agreeing with 6-20m over a few centuries seems to be missing the point.

        Reply
      • RE Mikkel’s comment. It does seem to me that Trenberth is a bit more moderate regarding treatment of Hansen’s work than he has been with Dr. Francis, for example. And he doesn’t close the door entirely to the notion that SLR may runaway, just that this is not his view. I’d call that a pretty honest and worthy statement overall.

        Reply
    • Abel Adamski

       /  July 26, 2015

      I am interested into what happened to the centre of rotation Pole shift due to changes in surface mass distribution caused by glacier/land ice melt research.
      Will also shift equatorial bulge and cause tectonic/geological and Volcanic activity.
      https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24755-earths-poles-are-shifting-because-of-climate-change/#.U17X045ELzI
      Not much else published since 2013 as far as I can see

      Beginning to wonder if there isn’t a fear of spooking the horses whilst the important people make preparations tp protect themselves and their families

      Reply
  19. Loni

     /  July 24, 2015

    Another excellent post Robert, and thank you for the time that this must have required.
    One observation and several questions: The global sea temp graph, above the Superstorm Sandy photo, shows the eastern Pacific WITHOUT the super heated blobs. I do hope that is in our future.

    Paul Beckwith posted a video on this report where he shared that the superstorms would be packing 30 meter waves. If we were to see a major uptick in these storms, is their ability to ‘mix’ ocean waters negligible? In other words, ocean stratification will take place regardless and in spite of what these storms can do?

    In the process of the stratifications, how do the oceans planktons fair? They’re already taking it on the chin, if I remember right, down by 40%. And that’s where we get most of our oxygen, not to mention that they’re a food basic.

    The Greenland topography image is very interesting. What is happening with the melt ponds? Those are happening above the interior basin, right? If so, do they drain down through the depths of the ice cap? If so, that water is going to build up there until it finds a breach, and it will have some pressure to it, and probably some heat as well, right? This dynamic will also provide some rebound effect on the land mass I assume.

    Reply
  20. I put together an animation of Null School’s Pacific SSTAs from 2015 Jan-July 23rd. Wish I could do an overlay of the Jet Stream winds at 250 hPa. Love to see how ocean heat and the jet stream is interacting/reinforcing particularly in relation to NE Pacific Blob anomaly. Also around May-June seems like a pulses of heat start telegraphing from Japan and little further south to the Blob and then up into the Arctic.

    Reply
  21. Colorado Bob

     /  July 25, 2015

    The world I have saved –

    VLJ Embraer Phenom 100 Landing at Narsarsuaq Airport in Greenland

    VLJ Embraer Phenom 100 Landing at Narsarsuaq Airport in Greenland

    Reply
  22. James Burton

     /  July 25, 2015

    Starting CO2 emissions down on a quick glide slope of 6% a year would challenge the fossil fuel energy giants like never before. We would in fact be telling them that we are finished with their energy source and making the change in an emergency manner. Given how far Global Warming has progressed, 6% seems rational enough. We can all hear the screams of horror from the lobbyist army camped out around Capital Hill. The Fossil Fuel Industry has had it all it’s own way for as long as any of us can remember. Gutting their golden Goose would be a shocking event. Though why big Fossil Fuel Companies can’t make the switch to developing and producing the new energy sources we need is beyond me! Perhaps, it would leave the quarterly profit reports in bad shape for a few years before their new technologies came on line and the cash flow kicked positive.
    Why are we told we can’t switch, when we know we can? Stupidity? Greed? Ignorance? Suicide Wish? Death Cult? God only knows.
    As I have grown older, I have seen America turn from a great “can do country” to a nation where all we hear is “can’t do”. Our forefathers would be disgusted with the lack of vision and initiative.

    Reply
    • Loni

       /  July 25, 2015

      Indeed James, I can see the next President of the United States being put into a position of having to declare Martial Law, just to get things moving, such as carbon reduction and forcing the Yucca Mountain nuke repository into use, as we decommission and move our low lying, flood threatened nuke plants.
      We have effectively ‘kicked this can’ down the road far enough, that our options now range from bad to worse.

      Reply
    • Very well said, James. Have to say that I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment.

      Reply
    • Sunkensheep

       /  July 25, 2015

      Two words “Stranded Assets”.
      Firstly, there is an assumption that huge quantities of “known reserves” will be dug up, sold on and burnt. This is what Trillions of dollars worth of bits of paper derive their value from. Acknowledging, publicly that these must be left in the ground would make the GFC look like a cakewalk.

      Secondly the FF czars know they only have so long before they will be banned from pulling the stuff out of the ground. They are pushing forward projects as fast as possible in order to “build up” the value of their companies attract maximum investor funds before they retire to Bermuda, leaving behind worthless credit notes [a few techno-utopians want to retire to a spaceship, leaving behind a worthless plannet]. It’s a bit like stealing everything from the office on your way out.

      The company directors and the banks that fund them are doing this because their job description (and legislated mandate) is “create the highest possible returns for our shareholders and investors”. They are not acting in a deliberately evil way, just bureaucratically indifferent while following society’s orders.

      Reply
      • James Burton

         /  July 27, 2015

        Brilliant post! Yes, you have gotten right to the heart of the matter. Something I overlooked when brainstorming my post. Of course the whole financial system is hostage to the wealth attached to fossil fuel reserves. In a sense, that money and obligations are already in “full play” inside the casino financial economy. Bank books, hedge funds and the derivatives markets are all HOSTAGE to the reserves of the fossil fuel companies. Thus, change is impossible.

        Reply
        • The financial system is only hostage to stranded assets if they are unwound in the form of a bubble type crash and if that bubble bursting crashes the rest of the system. The current system is less vulnerable due to deleveraging. Investor flight isn’t so bad as long as investors are confident enough to invest in something else. In this case, capital flight is going to renewables. Of course the sectors and nations that are not able to decouple from fossil fuels will suffer the resource curse as the asset they’ve be the farm on goes down. Of course, this was preventable even ten years ago with proper planning. Now, some sectors and some countries will probably take a hard hit unless they are quite nimble.

          For a decent allegory, look at the economy of the South and how it fared post civil war. That’s what will happen to sectors that are unable to decouple from fossil fuels. The sectors that already have a large renewable foundation, on the other hand, will thrive.

        • Interesting, that’s the one fact that gives me some hope. Every investor hopes to get out the door before the building collapses, so focusing on stranded assets seems like the key to discouraging investment in fossil fuel enterprises and redirecting it toward activities that will prosper in a low- or no-carbon future.

        • Also, if we focus on stranded assets now, it provides more of an organized walk toward the door than a panicked stampeed. I think we’re starting to see that now.

      • Spike

         /  July 27, 2015

        If you’d invested in some coal companies 4 years ago you’d have lost well over 90% of your cash currently. A ray of hope in these dark times to see polluters really taking a hit.

        Reply
        • It’s malinvestment. People in those assets are going to lose money. Capital flight is the obvious response. This creates jolts, but not as bad as if the flight occurs all on one day or in one year. We’re in a ten to twenty year trend that started a few years ago. It’s ramping up now. And there’s going to be a huge shift of wealth and power involved. Contrary to what some are saying, this is not the end of the world. It’s just the end of business as usual. And that’s a good thing.

  23. Gordo

     /  July 25, 2015

    interesting link on major Asian fire
    http://pyrocb.ssec.wisc.edu/

    Reply
  24. Griffin

     /  July 25, 2015

    Robert, thank you. I truly appreciate the work you have done for us. I have a lot of nasty things that I want to say to the oft quoted scientists that have discredited this paper but you have shown how to take the high road and provide true analysis. Great work.

    Reply
  25. Reblogged this on GarryRogers Nature Conservation and Science Fiction (#EcoSciFi) and commented:
    According to this review of the latest climate model simulations, there is an immediate need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Otherwise, rising sea level, massive storms, and permanent winter in Great Britain are only a few of the changes we can expect. Recommended reading.

    Reply
  26. Colorado Bob

     /  July 25, 2015

    Tomorrow is 50 years,
    Bob said –

    :Get born, get blessed, 20 years of schooling and they put on the day shift,

    Reply
    • Don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows..

      Reply
    • labmonkey2

       /  July 25, 2015

      I’ve been high and I’ve been low – don’t know which way to go.
      Birth. School. Work. Death.

      Reply
      • I like that. When I was a young person in the 1980’s I used to listen to punk rock radio in west Los Angeles. There was a cut they were fond of that entirely constituted some guy howling “Work” over and over again and then at the end “Die.” Same basic concept.

        Reply
      • labmonkey2

         /  July 25, 2015

        The American way of Life. Then Rinse & Repeat.
        We’ve lost all concept of, and connection to, The Earth – Our Earth.

        Reply
    • Abel Adamski

       /  July 28, 2015

      It is a fitting comment on the world today even though the original subject was Apartheid
      It’s a Strange Strange world we live in Master Jack

      Reply
  27. Reblogged this on Spirit In Action.

    Reply
  28. Colorado Bob

     /  July 25, 2015

    Bob Dylan out lived his myth. What a hoot. . We’ll need some of his blood for our experiments.

    Reply
    • Hard rain’s gonna fall. Can’t say he didn’t warn us.

      My father started warning me about what was coming down fifty years ago. We live in interesting times. I miss boredom. You can do a lot with boredom.

      Reply
    • Bob grows on me more and with the years.

      Reply
  29. Colorado Bob

     /  July 25, 2015

    Here we go –
    The date: July 25, 1965. The event: the Newport Folk Festival. Backed by guitarist Al Cooper and other members of the Paul Butterfield Blues band, along with pianist Berry Goldberg, an earnest 24-year-old Bob Dylan took the stage, an uncommon sight hanging from his shoulder: an electric guitar. The rising star had a major surprise planned for the audience, but he had no clue of the controversy he was about to stir.

    http://folkmusic.about.com/od/bobdylan/a/Bob-Dylan-Goes-Electric.htm

    Reply
  30. Colorado Bob

     /  July 25, 2015

    50 years ago – Tomorrow……………………

    bob dylan like a rolling stone

    Reply
    • I like “Positively Fourth Street” a lot. It kind of expresses how I feel about this whole corporate culture.

      Reply
  31. Colorado Bob

     /  July 25, 2015

    Thee Butterfield . Blues Band , East West –

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  July 25, 2015

      Eliven Bishop with the greatest picker of the 20th century,

      Mike Bloomfield.

      Reply
  32. Colorado Bob

     /  July 25, 2015

    Bloomfield, Kooper, Stills / Season Of The Witch

    Bloomfield, is as dead as boot. His music will never die. This is the coolest music ever made.

    Reply
  33. Harquebus

     /  July 25, 2015

    Will increased storm activity mix ocean waters as is being claimed is happening in the tropical Western Pacific and around Antartica?

    Reply
  34. Baker

     /  July 25, 2015

    @Robert: For further understanding I have a few questions.
    How much warming would we “need” to produce a -17 K anomaly (is it for 2080? But -17 K is compared to a much higher mean than the 1880s?). Would it really mean seeing snow on Scotlands shores in summer? What would it mean in winter (concerning Europe)?
    How strong could be the wind gusts during superstorms?
    There could already be signs of these enhanced temperatur gradients.. Year-to-date 2015 was record coldest south of Greenland and July was very hot in continental Europe. For example Norway or Wales were quite cool. At the moment, we have an unusual storm in
    mid-summer in central Europe. Thank you in advance.

    Reply
    • Sunkensheep

       /  July 25, 2015

      That -17k would represent a reversal of recent polar amplification. One could expect a cross between the Southern Ocean “furious fifties” and hurricane Sandy, or just regular “winter storms” to occur during summer in unusual latitudes.

      Ocean height data suggests this slowdown is already occurring, with heat building in the Pacific and Indian oceans, and a cold pool forming around Southern Greenland.

      I don’t know if this is just exaggeration of an existing ocean oscillation, or the start of a runaway trend as described by this paper.

      It certainly appers that 2012 released a pulse of Greenland meltwater that created the blob and reversed a number of regional climate trends.

      Reply
  35. Colorado Bob

     /  July 25, 2015

    Everyone play Mike, He was so great. And no one remembers him..

    Reply
  36. Colorado Bob

     /  July 25, 2015

    Mike Bloomfield/Al Kooper ” Dear. Mr. Fantasy ” live

    Reply
    • labmonkey2

       /  July 25, 2015

      Excellent! Although I do enjoy the Winwood version, too.

      Those were some good days, even though I had just been drafted into the Army (’72). I was lucky enough to spend the entire 3 years (minus 7 week basic at Ft Knox), in Colorado Springs. Saw a few shows at Red Rocks back then; ZZ Top at The Big Mac in Denver; some group pretending to be Fleetwood Mac in the Springs (forget the venue – was downtown).
      Anyway, I see we share a similar love for music. Certainly don’t know where I’d be without it.

      Reply
  37. Colorado Bob

     /  July 25, 2015

    “Dear. Mr. Fantasy ”

    Lyrics:

    Dear Mister Fantasy play us a tune / Something to make us all happy
    Do anything take us out of this gloom
    Sing a song, play guitar, make it snappy
    You are the one who can make us all laugh
    But doing that you break out in tears
    Please don’t be sad if it was a straight mind you had
    We wouldn’t have known you all these years

    Reply
  38. Colorado Bob

     /  July 25, 2015

    Let’s close out with Buddy –

    Blind Faith – Well Alright

    Reply
  39. Colorado Bob

     /  July 25, 2015

    I play these songs so I don’t drive my head into a wall. I hope they do the same thing for you.

    Reply
  40. danabanana

     /  July 25, 2015

    Robert. thanks for another great post. Imo this paper is spot on and I only need to look here to see it happening already:

    Needles to say that the UK is at the front line and as such we are already having a taste. A month’s worth of rain fell overnight and another bunch due tomorrow. A series of lows have come and gone over the British isles for the last month and there seems to be no end in sight. The first year that these barrage of lows were obvious in UK was in 2012 with its record wettest summer. Then the winter 2013/14 storms that pounded Wales and southern England followed. The center of this low generating engine seems to be over the pool of cold water coming from Greenland which would match what is described in the paper.

    Reply
    • Greenland is ramping up for pulse # 2. May be a few years yet. But note the warm water on the west side in Baffin Bay region.

      Reply
    • Mblanc

       /  July 28, 2015

      I’ve got a really bad feeling about this. That feeling has been building up over the last few months,

      Every time I see an anomaly map these days, I can’t help feeling that we in the UK are right in the firing line of Greenland ice melt, and the firing might have already started.

      Reply
      • Yeah, that’s a rough outcome. But you guys are certainly in the firing line. Winter of 2013-2014 was the first big shot. I suppose the silver lining is that the Scots will make a lot of electricity from wind. That is, if they can build the turbines strong enough. But it will almost certainly get worse. Hopefully we can rapidly transition away from fossil fuels and prevent the very worst of it.

        Reply
  41. Ryan in New England

     /  July 25, 2015

    Wonderful job summarizing the recent report from Hansen et al, Robert! Many thanks!!

    Reply
  42. climatehawk1

     /  July 25, 2015

    Tweet scheduled.

    Reply
  43. Spike

     /  July 25, 2015

    Great article – saved me a lot of time and brain ache trying to slog through the paper which I can now dip into at leisure.

    That sea level rise graph for the 20th century in your article interests me, as it shows actual documented behavior of the Earth system under moderate warming. It looks as though annual rise was 0.8mm at the start of the 20th century, and 3.2mm at the end. So it approximately quadrupled in a century. So with moderate forcing and warming, the doubling rate was 50 years.

    But we know that the party only really kicked into overdrive in the 1970s in terms of carbon flux, so a shortening of the doubling time to 20 years or less doesn’t look too outlandish if the system responds more strongly to the stronger forcing we have now initiated.

    Reply
    • Good analysis, Spike. It’s also worth considering that the ramp up to glacial melt at the end of the last ice age didn’t really steepen until we hit about 1 C to 2 C warming. We are in that range now.

      Somewhat OT: coal, oil, and gas are seeing major capital flight at this time. Huge losses in all the markets.

      Reply
      • Robert and Spike – when I read the paper I was a bit disappointed they did not get, or at least I do not think they did, Watson’s bias correction post 1993 into that graph as I think it really makes a great deal of sense.

        Reply
      • Abel Adamski

         /  July 28, 2015

        Robert, re temp rise.
        An interesting article from left field
        http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/15822/20150727/mosses-unexpectedly-release-greenhouse-gasses-more-powerful-c02.htm

        To quote
        “The high release rates of nitrous oxide were remarkable,” added Bettina Weber, who led the investigation.

        She explained that, while “the methane emissions of cryptogamic covers were negligible on a global scale,” the N20 results only grew more worrying as temperatures hiked.

        “Generally, we could demonstrate that N20 and CH4 emissions strongly increase from temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius,” Weber said.

        She and her colleagues added that even if these emissions are natural, they may serve as an unconsidered ‘vicious cycle’ mechanism for hastening global warming.”

        Ouch another feedback we didn’t see coming, many more in the pipeline I am sure

        Reply
        • Ouch is right. NOx bites. Harmful to plants generally as well. That’s a bad 1-2 hit there. Will have to dig more into this one. My general view is you don’t want to mess with amplifying feedbacks and that the pace of human warming adds a whole new dimension to the issue.

      • Abel Adamski

         /  July 29, 2015

        An addendum for NO2
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02y8717
        “A new study has found that emissions of nitrous oxide — also known as laughing gas — in the US have been underestimated. It’s significant because the gas is a major contributor to global warming and the destruction of the ozone layer. Emissions of nitrous oxide from agriculture in some locations are underestimated by 40%, according to the new research — suggesting the gas is a bigger problem than previously thought”

        Reply
  44. – High surf warnings for south facing shore of Hawaii Islands due to storm east of New Zealand. This caught my eye as usual storm and fetch surf usually hits the north shore due to energetic weather in Gulf of Alaska.
    Robert, is there any notable connection with current ocean temp anomalies, the blob ,El Nino, RRR, etc.?

    mauitvnewscom blog

    EVENT: The National Weather Service has CONTINUED the HIGH SURF ADVISORY for SOUTH FACING SHORES of MAUI COUNTY in effect from 6 a.m., Saturday through 6 a.m., Monday.
    A High Surf Advisory means that high surf will affect beaches in the advisory area, producing rip currents and localized beach erosion.
    EFFECTS: A slow moving storm that was located just east of New Zealand earlier this week generated a large south-southwest swell that will build during the next 24 hours. Surf is expected to exceed the south shore advisory level by Saturday morning and remain high into Monday.

    Reply
  45. Likely a stupid question, but this is a forgiving crowd.:)

    With regard to the generation of strong storm systems due to large temperature differentials, what the relationship to absolute temperatures, ie, more energy in the whole system?

    Right now, and for quite a time to come, we have large amounts of ice to melt, which will do two things – generate large temperature differentials, but also keep overall air and water temps a lot lower. ( In terms I can appreciate [let me tell you!] when the ice finishes melting, your Scotch on the rocks get warmer a whole lot faster). When that ice becomes less and less, temperature differentials will get less and less. But… the temperatures are really going to shoot up. With higher temperatures, can we expect this pattern of superstorms to continue despite smaller temperature gradients?

    Reply
    • The time of ice melt is the time of severe storms. The primary reasons include:

      1. Large swings in global temperature due to periods of heat build up in the atmosphere and cut off of ocean to atmosphere heat exchange during abrupt melt events. The result would be to load the atmosphere with moisture and wring it out at periodic intervals.
      2. The high T and pressure differences that occurring during ice melt episodes provide substantial baroclinic energy for storms. Something that is well outside the context of the Holocene.
      3. Even if the atmosphere temporarily cools due to melt pulses inhibiting ocean to atmosphere heat exchange, the energy imbalance at the top of the atmosphere increases. What this means is that during this period, the atmosphere is rapidly accumulating energy, which can go to increasing storm potentials in an unstable atmosphere further.
      4. Once the ice melts, however, instability is removed from the system. Temperature differentials between pole and southerly regions become more uniform. There may be extra heat energy in the system but an increasingly stagnant atmosphere and ocean have fewer mechanisms for tapping that potential energy. Strong storms still rage along the equator due to immense heat potentials there. But that is more of an exception than the rule. Essentially, once you melt all the ice, you end up in a stagnant hothouse/Canfield or stratified ocean environment. And the danger of that world is that it is too hot and too toxic for much of the life we see today. Hot cesspool is a good way to think of how things progress once the ice sheets are gone.

      Also, someone above asked about storms as potential ocean mixers. First, they are no substitute for deep water formation. In the North Atlantic now we have heavy, saltier water plunging all the way to the ocean bottom in a massive current. This plunge is 1,000s of feet and is enough to drive an entire world ocean circulation and top and bottom water mixing. Put fresh water into that flow and you cut off that mixing. Now, even the most powerful of storms only mixes the top layers of the ocean — perhaps at most to 300-500 feet. That kind of mixing is not enough to re-invigorate gas and heat exchange on the global scale such that thermo-haline circulation is replaced. Compared to the great ocean conveyer, these storms would be like ripples on the surface — not providing the mixing and ventalation that was previously generated. Anyone who understands anything about ocean science knows this. You shut down thermo-haline and you end up with a stratified ocean. Cooler fresh water surface and a hot, ugly, deadly ocean bottom. These big fresh water pulses start that process and it’s a very stormy process at first. That is until the ice sheets have melted. Then you’re living in a world of stagnant air and water.

      Reply
  46. Colorado Bob

     /  July 25, 2015

    China’s restive Xinjiang region scorched by heatwave as record temperatures drag on

    Record high temperatures will continue to scorch areas in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region over the next three days, the National Meteorological centre (NMC) said Saturday.

    Temperatures will rise above 35 degrees Celsius in most areas of Xinjiang and the southern part will see record high temperatures of 44 to 47 degrees, said the NMC.

    http://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/1843631/chinas-restive-xinjiang-region-scorched-heatwave-record

    Reply
  47. Colorado Bob

     /  July 25, 2015

    Netherlands’ worst July storm kills one, causes transport chaos

    With gusts of up to 121 kmh in coastal regions, it was the most violent July storm in the Netherlands since records began in 1901.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/25/us-dutch-storm-idUSKCN0PZ0K520150725

    Reply
    • Mark from New England

       /  July 26, 2015

      It begins…. (actually, it has begun for some years now😦

      Reply
  48. USA SOUTH DROUGHT

    Drought invades Charlotte region

    Charlotte has had 36 days this year at 90 degrees or more

    Voluntary water restrictions are in place

    If drought worsens, mandatory restrictions to come
    http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article28671448.html

    Reply
  49. Nicely put together. Thank you.

    Reply
  50. Griffin

     /  July 26, 2015

    Hi Robert! I have been watching the melt ponds in eastern Greenland this year. I was pretty surprised to be able to see some disappear from one day to the next. So I decided to make a movie of them. Using satellite pics from the NASA Worldview website, this is the look of three weeks in July. The area of the pics is just southeast of Jakobshavn. Each frame is one day.
    If you watch closely, it is easy to see some of the ponds disappear.
    https://m.youtube.com/?reload=2&rdm=1cgidg1ec#/watch?v=juVBH_mYo0U

    Reply
    • That’s really good work, Griffin. The ones disappearing are likely emptying into the ice sheet. A few studies related to ice bridge have been able to use advanced sensors to track the melt pulses down through the ice. The effect is kind of a reverse bubble.

      Reply
  51. Ryan in New England

     /  July 26, 2015

    Good piece by Jeff Masters. Hawaii is facing a severe coral bleaching event, for the second consecutive year. The oceans are becoming so warm and acidifying so quickly that corals will most likely be gone in the lifetime of young people. A tragic loss that will have profound impacts across the globe.

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=3053

    Reply
  52. Jay M

     /  July 26, 2015

    were the boulders deposited because the islands were underwater compared to current sea levels via heinrich events? interesting information regarding records of scouring wave uncovered
    rapid sea level rise seems to depend on Glacial lakes, Greenland perhaps?

    Reply
  53. Andy in SD

     /  July 26, 2015

    A Superb article with lots of research done on water issues in the Middle East. This is extremely worth the read. An eye opener.
    ==============================================
    “Doha has just three days’ supply”: are water shortages the biggest threat to the Middle East?

    Burning oil to make water to make oil. Saudi Arabia alone burns 1.5m barrels of oil every day to desalinate water, an amount equivalent to the daily oil consumption of Italy.

    The Yemeni capital is expected to be the first city in the world to run out of economically viable water supplies, potentially by 2017.
    ================================================

    Again, this is a fantastic read.

    http://www.citymetric.com/horizons/doha-has-just-three-days-supply-are-water-shortages-biggest-threat-middle-east-1234

    Reply
    • These people are all in big trouble if we stop burning fossil fuel. What will they have left to trade for food and water?

      It’s amazing they have agriculture at all. Makes much more sense to import your water in the form of food than grow it yourself when it’s in such short supply.

      Reply
      • Andy in SD

         /  July 26, 2015

        I was left puzzled about the prospect of relying on a non-renewable energy source for such a critical need. No matter what, depletion occurs. And then what? With those huge populations, there is no way to switch energy sources on a dime. And people don’t do well without water.

        I didn’t realize how tenuous the whole thing is in that region, the scope, scale and proximity to disaster.

        Reply
      • There’s a thriving mixed economy in many sections of the Middle East. You’d be surprised what they could do without oil. It’s water that’s more important. And they could certainly run desalination on solar.

        Besides, a six percent per year global adjustment is not ‘on a dime.’

        Reply
      • Andy in SD

         /  July 26, 2015

        My “on a dime” is more along the thought of if they do nothing until the they can’t power the water desalination with oil. Then time is their enemy.

        However, reading up on their endeavors, the wealthy middle east states are very aggressive with zero carbon energy expansion (solar etc..). They are not farting around throwing snowballs in their version of congress, or being paid off by Aramaco for a few bucks to back stab their nation (what used to be called treason, but now seems to be considered patriotic?).

        They are a lot smarter than our media allows us to realize.

        Reply
    • Abel Adamski

       /  July 26, 2015

      Egypt is slowly starting to join the dots, as the article points out the subject is effectively unknown or ignored in the everyday middle east. The only comment highlights the ignorance
      http://egyptianstreets.com/2015/07/26/egypt-to-witness-grave-consequences-within-10-years-if-global-warming-endures/

      Reply
  54. Reblogged this on Damn the Matrix.

    Reply
  55. Maria

     /  July 26, 2015

    My Pleasure, Robert. Here’s a pic of the Morro Bay Rock with the now decommissioned “Stacks.”

    Reply
  56. Ralph

     /  July 26, 2015

    This looks like a bit of westerly wind burst fun happening north of the Solomons early to mid next week: http://earth.nullschool.net/#2015/07/30/0600Z/wind/surface/level/orthographic=-196.23,-0.19,761
    Odds on for the current El Nino beating 97/98 now? I certainly wouldn’t bet against that.

    Reply
    • Phil

       /  July 27, 2015

      Good catch. That WWB seems to be now developing on earth null school. Will be interesting to see its strength and duration.

      Reply
      • Continuation of the same WWB that began earlier this month. Kelvin Wave is hitting the peak values we saw in March. Now to see if it ramps higher.

        Reply
  57. danabanana

     /  July 26, 2015

    OT. and now this… :/

    http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/science/article4507949.ece

    “A Cambridge professor has said that assassins may have murdered scientists who were seeking to reveal how rapidly global warming was melting Arctic ice.”

    Reply
  58. Great article. This layperson, just lurking and learning, visits every day. I just tested the raven’s paypal and it worked fine from this distant land.

    Reply
  59. Ryan in New England

     /  July 26, 2015

    Strongest July storm ever to hit the Netherlands…

    http://www.wunderground.com/news/amsterdam-netherlands-germany-wind-storm-zeljko

    Reply
  60. Ryan in New England

     /  July 26, 2015

    Rainfall records broken in parts of Japan. One location saw 4.5 inches in one hour.

    http://www.wunderground.com/news/typhoon-halola-japan-forecast-landfall

    Reply
  61. Olive oil prices surge due to drought and disease in Spain and Italy

    Producers say this year’s harvests are worst they have seen, as consumer demand begins to outstrip supply

    The Italian government has declared a “state of calamity” in the provinces of Lecce and Brindisi on the heel of the country, where olive groves are being attacked by a bacterial disease nicknamed “olive ebola” . Up to 1m centuries-old olive trees could be felled in one of the most picturesque tourist spots of Italy in an attempt to contain the problem.

    The cost of the raw material has been increasing for two years as crops have been hit by drought in Spain, the world’s biggest producer of the oil, and the bacterial disease Xylella fastidiosa, which is destroying trees in Italy.
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/24/olive-oil-prices-surge-drought-disease-spain-italy?CMP=ema_565

    Reply
    • – Remember too that trees do intercept toxic aerosol pollutants which do stress and damage all biota including olive trees, pine, redwoods, avocado — you name it. Heat from global warming or any other cause generally potentiates chemical reactions in the VOCs which comprise much FF aerosol pollution which trees do intercept whether they like it or not.

      ” An average-sized tree can absorb 141 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.

      Trees absorb other pollutants such as ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulates. These chemicals, especially ozone, are ingredients in smog.”
      https://instaar.colorado.edu/outreach/trees-and-vocs/trees_and_air_quality.html

      Reply
  62. #Faith leaders issue global “Call to Conscience” on #climate http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/07/faith-leaders-issue-global-call-to-conscience-on-climate/ via @IPSnews #globalwarming #divest

    Reply
    • – CAN climatologist did mention hot E PAC “Pacific blob”.

      “Is it climate change? I don’t know. It may just be a fluke, it may just be something coincidental, it’s hard to say,” says David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada.

      He says although many people have associated the lack of rain in the region with El Niño — a climate event that happens when warm water in the Pacific Ocean interacts with the atmosphere — it may actually be connected to a mass of warm water in the Pacific Ocean that originated in the Gulf of Alaska and moved down the coast to British Columbia. It’s been dubbed the “Pacific blob”.

      Reply
      • The Lower Mainland and Lower Island (My turf for 13 years) just across the Strait Of Juan de Fuca from the Olympic Peninsula where rainforest are burning, is in extreme condition.

        Reply
      • Typical halfassed science communication. All weather events are taking place within a changing climate and cannot be somehow separated from that context.

        Reply
        • Have to say I agree with CH 1 on this point. The splitting hairs is a bit silly. Both the climate and the weather have changed and operate under new baseline conditions.

      • – More FF CC drastic and rapid impacts on agriculture:

        “In B.C.’s Fraser Valley farmers are doubly fraught by hot, dry conditions, with crops that are ripening so fast they can’t be harvested and unirrigated fields burned brown by unrelenting sun. Farmers have left tonnes of perfect berries, corn, peas and beans in the field to rot because they are all ripening at the same time, according to Tom Baumann, an agriculture professor at the University of the Fraser Valley.

        Chilliwack farmer Ian Sparkes left 240,000 ears of ripe corn in the field after his staggered showings all ripened at the same time.

        “I just can’t sell it all,” said Sparkes, who has about two dozen farm stands.”

        Reply
      • ch1, I’m not sure what your comment, “Typical halfassed science communication. All weather events are taking place within a changing…” adds to the reportage of an unfolding crisis.

        Reply
        • I was referring to this comment: “‘Is it climate change? I don’t know. IT MAY JUST BE A FLUKE, IT MAY JUST BE COINCIDENTAL, it’s hard to say,’ says David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada.” [emphasis mine] At this point in the evolution of global climate change, all climatologists should give serious consideration to including the sentence I wrote: “All weather events are taking place within a changing climate and cannot be somehow separated from that context.” I see it is not as clear as it should be–my bad. How’s this? “All weather events are taking place within the context of human-caused global climate change and cannot be somehow separated from that context.” Is that more clear? If the people intimately connected with the science cannot do better than “maybe a fluke or coincidence,” it’s hard to see how we’re going to move the needle on hard policy choices.

      • OK, but it is what was said after the “fluke” statement (just a lead in) that I pointing out. Following that was a strong statement about the “pacific blob” and its power and movement in the E PAC — and its connection with extreme regional weather events. I haven’t seen many MSM talk of this.

        Reply
        • I see what you are saying. Thanks for elaborating. I’m a retired communications pro, and often react to what I think is unfortunate phrasing on this issue.

      • – Ps We here in the PNW, with the Pacific blob, the RRR, etc. are under an atmospheric magnifying glass We are going through very rapid and extreme climate and weather chaos.
        Events are outpacing language’s ability to keep up.
        I live here — and it’s frightening to witness.

        Reply
      • 0725 PNW

        Warm river water lethal to spawning salmon

        ssociated Press
        Published:
        July 27, 2015 8:57AM
        Efforts by management teams to cool flows below 70 degrees by releasing cold water from selected reservoirs are continuing in an attempt to prevent similar fish kills among chinook salmon and steelhead, which migrate later in the summer from the Pacific Ocean.

        BOISE, Idaho (AP) — More than a quarter million sockeye salmon returning from the ocean to spawn are either dead or dying in the Columbia River and its tributaries due to warming water temperatures.

        Federal and state fisheries biologists say the warm water is lethal for the cold-water species and is wiping out at least half of this year’s return of 500,000 fish.

        “We had a really big migration of sockeye,” said Ritchie Graves of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “The thing that really hurts is we’re going to lose a majority of those fish.”

        He said up to 80 percent of the population could ultimately perish.

        http://www.capitalpress.com/Water/20150727/warm-river-water-lethal-to-spawning-salmon

        Reply
      • Good points, DT. It can certainly be hard to keep RE good communication. Also wanted to point out that the RRR is slowly getting squashed. Cooler water south of the Bering now. Starting to look like a stormy Fall is on the way.

        Reply
  63. Colorado Bob

     /  July 26, 2015

    Shocking oil spill scenes from Siberia: but is there a way to a cleaner future?

    These disturbing pollution cases show the toll suffered by Siberia as one of the world’s foremost oil producing regions on which our nation’s health and economic well-being depends.

    Shot over a number of years, these haunting images show the damage to wildlife and nature from oil spills often resulting from the rupture of old pipelines. There are rivers and lakes of oil, frequently in some of the remotest and inaccessible places.

    Greenpeace Russia’s volunteers have worked to highlight the problem, and here the organisations offers its solutions to avoiding such scenes deadly scenes in future.

    We run this story after recent weeks have seen a serious oil spill – and one that seemed hard to halt, never mind clean up – in the energy city of Nefteyugansk. In this case, oil gushed into floodwater of the Ob River, the seventh largest in the world.

    Link

    Reply
    • It’s good to see environmentalism getting some legs in Russia. I hope it’s quick enough to help get them out of an impending oil crash. They need to diversify their economy and quick.

      Reply
  64. Colorado Bob

     /  July 27, 2015


    Ice-Age 2: Weak Sun Will Not Cause Ice Age

    By: Dr. Ricky Rood ,

    Links to earlier in series
    Ice-Age 1: There’s a Mini-Ice Age Coming? Good Timing!

    The Daily Mail held out some bait on global-warming obfuscation, reporting that scientists warning of a mini-Ice Age. I want to explore this article in a number of ways, and I want to see if we can think about how to manage the influence of the article. Thanks for the excellent comments on the previous blog.

    Here is the blog from Professor Mike Liemohn.

    Dr. Rood asked me, a space physicist in the same department at the University of Michigan as him, to comment on the recent media report like the one here of an impending Little Ice Age. While we are in solar maximum, when Sun’s magnetic activity is high and sunspots are seen across its surface, this particular solar maximum has been quite small. There are some solar physicists predicting that the next few solar maxima will also be small, with the Sun entering an extended interval of very low magnetic activity, called a Maunder State. We have only seen this once before, in the 1600s shortly after Galileo invented the telescope and people began keeping routine and reliable sunspot records. For nearly 70 years in the 1600s, the sunspot cycle was very small, often going months without any spots at all.

    Link

    Reply
  65. Blog by Hansen…

    Disastrous Sea Level Rise Is an Issue for Today’s Public — Not Next Millennium’s

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-james-hansen/multi-meter-sea-level-rise-is-an-issue-for-todays-public_b_7875828.html

    Reply
  66. Comment by Prof. David Archer on Hansen et al’s new paper…

    http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/15/C5209/2015/acpd-15-C5209-2015.pdf

    Reply
    • These are excellent comments from Dr. Archer and well worth reading. The critiques provide avenues for further work. But the real upshot is that Dr. Archer sees the ice sheet melt, ocean stratification, bottom warming feedback as an identifiable mechanism for the exponential increase in glacial melts seen during Heinrich events in paleoclimate and as a potential for the same (or worse has Hansen implies) under human forced climates in the future.

      Archer’s view on this is not to be taken lightly and could have serious implications for modeling work on the issue going forward. In other words, it looks like we might get a few good dynamic ice sheet destabilization models after all, now that this physical mechanism is more well accepted.

      Reply
      • Spike

         /  July 27, 2015

        Agree those are interesting comments particularly on the temperature impact. As a Brit I was dismayed to see the regional changes in my area of the world and to think about the potential impact on winters, on floods, on harvests and on storms. I note the Eemian storms moved 6m diameter boulders weighing 2 300 tonnes. Another one of those papers that makes me apprehensive for this little island’s future.

        Reply
  67. Beneath Alaskan Wildfires, A Hidden Threat: Long-Frozen Carbon’s Thaw

    http://www.kplu.org/post/beneath-alaskan-wildfires-hidden-threat-long-frozen-carbons-thaw

    Reply
  68. Beneath Alaskan Wildfires, A Hidden Threat: Long-Frozen Carbon’s Thaw

    http://www.kplu.org/post/beneath-alaskan-wildfires-hidden-threat-long-frozen-carbons-thaw

    Reply
  69. 0725 PNW WILDFIRES HOMO SAP IGNITION SOURCES

    Sheriff: 100-acre wildfire started by men shooting propane bottles

    Cowlitz County deputies arrested brothers Adrian and Nathan Taylor (23 and 21, respectively), and their friend 22-year-old Michael Estrada-Cardenas.

    The men were firing a 9mm pistol, a 12-gauge shotgun, and a .223 caliber A/R rifle at some 16-ounce propane bottles, officials said. The men told deputies that they “put out the flames and left,” but there were still some burning embers on the ground.
    http://www.katu.com/news/local/Sheriff-3-men-start-Colvin-Creek-wildfire-near-Woodland-by-shooting-propane-bottles-318536991.html

    Reply
  70. New Orleans doesn’t look so good now…

    Reply
    • Robert in New Orleans

       /  July 27, 2015

      New Orleans is dead city walking, people here either deny it or are ignorant about it IMHO.:-/

      Reply
      • Like Bob says, hell is coming to breakfast. It will be a lot of work to save some of these coastal cities. May not be possible for some even with an all out effort. But we may as well try.

        Reply
      • Yes, a zombie city. Miami and the rest of South Florida, OTOH, are toast. It is utterly impossible to prevent SLR from fouling their water supply and then flooding them out even if they build levees, thanks to the porous limestone underneath.

        Reply
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