Wrecked Pacific Storm Track Now Runs From Equator to Arctic Ocean

There’s something not quite right going on in the Pacific.

In the northeast of that great ocean, the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge just keeps growing. A gigantic high pressure cell spreading out to encompass the entire region from the Aleutians to just off the California Coast. This giant, implacable system has lasted now for the better part of two years.  A mountain of atmospheric inertia towering over a deadly, human-warmed, hot pool of Pacific Ocean water.

A Not Normal Storm Track

To the west of our monstrous ridge runs an abnormal storm track. Firing off just north of the Equator and south and east of Japan, the track is fed by tropical systems swinging north and eastward. Merging frontal storms with the warm core cyclones, this storm track runs up along the boundary of the Northwest Pacific and into the Bering. Many of these storms end up bottled there. But a few surge over into the Chukchi and East Siberian seas. In this way, heat and moisture that originated in the tropics is eventually delivered to the Arctic. Exactly the kind of south to north heat and storm potential energy delivery that Dr. Jennifer Francis has been warning us about.

Over the next few days, this storm, heat, and moisture conveyor belt will continue to lend energy to systems firing off over the Pacific side of the Arctic. These storms will generate winds of 25 to 35 miles per hour with higher gusts. They’ll send swells in the range of 4-7 feet rippling across the still ice-smattered waters. And they’ll fling rain, sleet, freezing rain and snow over the still melting ice. An unsettled pattern featuring cold-core systems with an intensity comparable to tropical depressions but firing off in the chill boundary zones along the sea ice melt edge.

Ridge Forms South-to-North Storm Conveyor Belt


(Pacific storm track runs from just north of the Equator and on up into the Chukchi in this GFS model forecast for high [white] and low [purple]  pressure systems on Sunday, August 16th. Is this the track that El Nino generated storms take as the world warms? If so, there’s more trouble in store for the Arctic. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

Then, according to GFS model runs, things start to get interesting. By Sunday, August 16th our massive Northeast Pacific Ridge starts to really flex its muscles. It heightens to a near 1040 mb high pressure cell and links arms across the Arctic with a 1030 mb high over the Central Arctic Basin and another 1030 mb high over the Barents. In other words, the ridge forms a transpolar daisy chain. And on the left side of this transpolar ridge, the storm and moisture conveyor running toward the Arctic boundary kicks up a notch. Double barrel cyclones fire off in the region of 15 degrees North Latitude spawning from the very strong atmospheric feedback of our monstrous-looking El Nino. Three more storms run in train from 30 North to just past the 70 degree line in the Chukchi.

And all run along a diagonal northeasterly track aimed directly at the Arctic’s thawing heart.

It’s a new, odd storm track. One that, depending on the strength and orientation of the Arctic high either ends in the Bering, or runs all the way to the Pole itself. A heat and moisture delivery system that begins to take form in August but that, during recent years, has churned along through Fall, Winter and Spring. It’s a pattern that in 2015 is fed both by the global warming related hot pool in the Northeast Pacific and an El Nino still plowing toward off-the-charts strong. And due to the immense energy of the weather and climate systems involved it’s an anomalous pattern that risks an extreme storm potential energy delivery running from Equator to Arctic.


Earth Nullschool

Global Forecast System Model

Hot Pacific Ocean Runs Bloody

The Ridiculously Resilient Ridge

How Climate Change Wrecks the Jet Stream, Amps up the Hydrological Cycle to Generate Extreme Weather

Leave a comment


  1. climatehawk1

     /  August 12, 2015

    Tweet scheduled.

  2. Andy in SD

     /  August 12, 2015

    How frequently or infrequently did these highs connect over the region in the past? Curious if this is something that happened frequently, occasionally, or is it new and part of the changes we are now beginning to experience with no precedent in our recorded data.

    • Lately, it’s a feature that happens more and more often. A linking between the warming over the Barents, the Arctic High and the RRR. It’s one feature of the polar vortex implosions we’ve seen during Winter. When it happens during summer, you can get this weird south to north wind and weather feature. I’ve tracked it before RE surface winds. This is the first time I’ve seen a significant signal with regards to a heightened summer storm track or one that appears to have a teleconnection with an El Nino feedback. The issue with El Nino is that it would tend to flatten the storm track and drive it more from west to east, not north to south. But the amplification of warming in the Pacific Hot Blob appears to have, at least temporarily, over-ridden that impact.

  3. Robert, “In the northwest of that great ocean…encompass the entire region from the Aleutians to just off the California Coast.
    Do you mean ‘northwest’ landmass wise? Fore it is the NE PAC ocean that is referenced.

  4. This is huge and the best news I’ve seen in a while:

    “Narendra Modi’s chief economic advisor has urged the prime minister to radically change India’s approach to UN climate talks, according to a report in the Business Standard.

    “It has obtained what it says is a letter from Arvind Subramanian to Modi and finance minister Arun Jaitley, which calls on the government to drop demands for climate finance from rich countries.

    “’Obtaining finance cannot be a vital interest for us. In pressing this issue India might score polemical victories, but not a substantive one,’ he reportedly wrote.

    “’Are the commitments of cash-strapped advanced countries plausible? After all, the US cannot muster the will and ability to contribute a few hundred million dollars (chump change really) to increasing the International Monetary Fund’s resources.’

    “Subramanian, who was appointed chief advisor in October 2014 after a career with the IMF and Washington DC think tanks, also stressed the need to prioritise greenhouse gas cuts.”

    • That’s a huge shift if the developing world gets on to fast tracking zero carbon emissions. The demand, in the past, was used as an excuse not to rapidly adopt new energy. But with the price of renewables in free fall and with the developed world increasingly failing to lead, a vacuum has opened up for the developing world to fill. So the question, to me, is will we let them leave us in the dust. Or will we up the ante by firming our commitments and contributions — thus gaining a piece of the renewable action guaranteed to take place in the developing world?

      Good news, indeed!

      • Abel Adamski

         /  August 12, 2015

        An interesting point raised elsewhere
        “China has had a continental scale irrigation project since 2001 to move naturally desalinated water from typhoons that falls on south and east coasts where it is not needed and uses canals, tunnels, pipelines, pumping stations, and reservoirs to move water to the north, center, and west where it is needed. The plan ends by 2020 to let China feed its 1.5 billion people.
        China has indoor warehouse farms in cities under construction, and 2 million of them will let China feed 1.5 billion people by 2025 with exports. My partners and I designed and built the farms and raised US food sales by 915% from 1.1.2010 to 6.30.2015. Deniers help China take over US food supplies. Grab people by their stomachs, and their hearts and minds follow.”

        I will expand (I did in my response), but in furtherence
        People have been sniggering at China’s inland Ghost Cities ( complete in every way, infrastructure, plumbing, power, fibre communications, factories, offices, even equipped restaurants and cafe’s, just add people)
        Now add in the Coal Power plants they are building and immediately mothballing
        China has huge coal reserves yet has preferred to buy foreign coal, thus saving their coal reserves.
        China is a leader in renewables research and thorium reactor research

        I suspect they are preparing for the age of storms, they have some very smart people and I am sure they read your site and also respect the same scientists and researchers.

        Their internal climate refugees have prepared accommodation and facilities.
        What a Nation that is not enslaved by the evil and greedy can achieve, and the denialists deride them

        • 2 million indoor vertical farms? Wow. Looks like someone there may have read Growth Shock…

          You know the nice thing about indoor vertical farms? No pesticides and it lets you regrow forests on agricultural land.

      • Eric Thurston

         /  August 13, 2015

        I think this view of China is somewhat PollyAnna-ish and perhaps misleading. Here is a link to another viewpoint of the situation in China:

        Maybe I’m too pessimistic, but I think the Truth-Out article is closer to the truth. China is actually a mess.

      • Abel Adamski

         /  August 13, 2015

        Eric, true to a large degree. And their pollution is a real problem. Maybe why the vertical farms and pipelines. They will have some bad times short to medium term and that corruption and rapaciousness – the US would be no different without the EPA and Government regulations the Tea Party wish to dismantle.
        There are going to be major adjustments, but core components of infrastructure and resiliency is there.
        Their military is not to be sneezed at, one of their super subs surfaced in the middle of the 7th fleet to the shock of the US Navy, they were not even aware they were anywhere near.
        Their fighters would clear the skies of the F35’s Australia is buying by breakfast

        Don’t forget as an interpreter told me, life is cheap and there are too many Chinese.
        China is buying up land like crazy around the World, Australia is talking about a special zone in the North, China will be encouraged to set up large enterprises, they insist on their own workers , service organisations etc. They are buying large swathes of “Agricultural land” as well as residential which is in so many cases left vacant with the grass growing (A$2Mill home in a prime waterside location with it’s own private jetty {Mates neighbours} vacant, untouched with weeds and grass growing wild, shrubs and gardens untended)

        So don’t just think of China as a location.

        It is not just the climate change itself, it is also the geopolitical consequences

      • Sunkensheep

         /  August 16, 2015

        Yes, quite possible that fossil fuelled infrastructure could become an albatross around the neck of “First World” nations. Particularly if it becomes practicable for developing countries to apply economic sanctions against us (or any high per capita FF burner). This is one of the scenarios that has the FF lobby running scared, and so pouring money into PR focused on NGOs and decision makers (and possibly right into the pockets of those decision makers too).

    • redskylite

       /  August 12, 2015

      TAlso heartening news from India, may be a very small dent on restoring our Carbon balance, but at least they care and are giving good efforts in the right direction . . .

      Indian border guards join hands to fight global warming, plants 400,000 saplings within 30 minutes

  5. – Further south the West Coast weather headline on the LA Times.

    Heat wave arriving as 2 weather systems clash over Southern California

    …A spinning low-pressure system about 300 miles west of Eureka is being pushed out by a high-pressure system and a heat wave that originated in Texas, said meteorologist Joe Dandrea.
    The combination of the two has created an unusual situation between 10,000- and 20,000 feet in the air, Dandrea said. The two competing weather patterns are allowing monsoonal moisture that originated in the Gulf of Mexico to flow up from Arizona…×338

    • High wet bulb readings closing in on SOCAL. Will need to keep an eye on this one. Thanks for the heads up, DT.

      • ‘Tropical Fish Caught Off Santa Barbara Coast’

        Warm Waters Bring Blue Fin Tuna to Southern California Bight

      • Yeah, with high wet bulbs, people will feel like they’re jogging in a Jacuzzi while wearing a wetsuit.
        It would do me in, I’m sure.

    • L Racine

       /  August 13, 2015

      Yeah I saw that too.. but it gets better yet, if you go to nullschool and click on 250hPa and move the date to Aug 16… it gets CRAZER yet!! Grab a load of what the upper winds are doing over central America…. heading west and then South crossing the equator…

  6. – I like this graphic referencing the PNW in this Mashable piece.

    ‘Global warming seen lurking behind this summer’s deadly heat waves’

    It’s been a cruel, cruel summer for millions of people across the Northern Hemisphere. Extreme heat has been blamed for thousands of deaths from India to Egypt, on northward into Europe and west to the Pacific Northwest cities of Seattle and Portland. Even Japan and Hong Kong have set all-time high temperature records and passed historical heat wave markers.

    The most recent heat has occurred in parts of Europe, the Middle East and East Asia. On Aug. 7, for example, Berlin hit 102 degrees Fahrenheit, or 38.9 degrees Celsius, breaking its all-time hottest temperature record of 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, or 38.6 degrees Celsius.

    • – It really does feel like being under a magnifier. A toxic atmosphere variety.

      Link to mashable

    • Blog post (in German) by an eminent climate scientist, Stefan Rahmstorf, on the same topic:

      • ch1, how do I translate from the Deutsch?

        • The browser I use is Chrome, which automatically offers to use Google Translate on pages that are not in English. Alternatively, you could copy and paste the text into the program, which can be found at Here is the translated text (I hope :)):

          Extremely hot!
          August 12, 2015 by Stefan Rahmstorf in general , climate data

          Extreme heat will most strongly to – the show data interpretations. This increase is a logical result of global warming.

          Europe is currently experiencing the second major heat wave this summer. On 5 July, according to the German Weather Service , a never before measured in Germany temperature reached 40.3 ° C in Kitzingen. But a month later, on August 7, this century record has been relisted. The Washington Post spoke of a historical record heatwave. As the following chart shows, the focus of the temperature anomaly is now higher than Eastern Europe.

          GFS 025deg_NH-SAT2_T2_anom

          Fig. 1 Temperature deviation from the average 1979-2000. Source: Climate Reanalyzer

          In a single heat wave one might even speculate whether it could possibly be simply due to chance of the weather. If you look at the temperature data, however, in their entirety to be immediately clear that extreme heat and strong increases systematically for decades. This shows the following graphic.


          Fig. 2 Percentage of global land area where the temperatures were a month, two or three standard deviations above the average from 1950 to 1980 local climate. Two standard deviations (orange) could be described as “very hot”, three standard deviations (dark red) as “extremely hot”. Source: Coumou and Robinson 2013,

          After that it was from 1950-1980 in each month, typically on 1 to 3% of the land very hot (orange), now this is true for 10 to 20% of the land to. Extremely hot (red) it was until 1980 almost never, now constantly prevail on a few percent of the land area such exceptional conditions.

          This increase in extreme heat is easy to explain the global warming trend. Suppose the following: the average temperature rises as observed, the random weather variations around this average around remain the same. That is, the statistical distribution function of temperature shifts towards warmer, but retains its previous form. Then you can easily calculate the extent to which heat extremes should increase. The observed increase is consistent with this simple assumption.

          What is the role of the (incidentally, first predicted by our institute ) El Niño, which currently prevails in the tropical Pacific? A glance at Fig. 2 suggests that particularly accumulate in years after an El Niño heat extremes, ie 1983, 1998 and 2010. On the other hand is also evident that El Niño is not the dominant effect here. So the El Niño in 2005 left virtually no traces in the statistics. And in the years 1950-1980, in which it has of course been many El Niño events, there was never as much heat as today in every “normal” year without El Niño. The main reason for the current accumulation of heat is so simple that we caused global warming.

          Related Links

          An analysis of the frequency of monthly heat records provide Coumou et al. 2013 . There we show that such records occur about five times already as many times, as would be the case by chance in a stationary climate.

          Our range of articles “Climate Records”
          Nature Climate Change: “A Decade of extreme weather”


          D. Coumou, and A. Robinson, “Historic and future increase in the global land area affected by extreme heat Monthly”, Environ. Res. Lett. , vol. 8, pp. 034 018, 2013.

        • Thanks for this, CH1.

        • De nada, least I could do. I join others in their gratitude for your excellent work.

    • Andy in SD

       /  August 13, 2015

      It is like a giant magnifying glass and you are all ants…

  7. Reblogged this on GarryRogers Nature Conservation and Science Fiction (#EcoSciFi) and commented:
    This post generates big questions: Will this system grow year by year until energy delivery to the pole is a permanent global pattern. Are the latitudinal winds and Hadley Cells doomed? Do our global-warming models include the consequences?

  8. redskylite

     /  August 12, 2015

    Keeping a watch on Arctic ice, a danger that Walrus’s may be in trouble again this year… Washington Post …

  9. Colorado Bob

     /  August 12, 2015

    Big questions ?

    Big answer :
    “Heat seeks cold”
    We all grew up in a world where the heat cork screwed north around the Earth. And water vapor made big storms at 35,000 feet. Today the heat drives directly to the coldest place it can find, and water vapor is going to 50,000 feet to release it’s heat load. The only thing slowing this at the South Pole is the ACC , and it’s shrinking ever closer to the coast of the last great cold. When we melt the last ice cube in the North, the attack on Antarctica will be truly world shaking.

    • Bob– just a quick query. You having any trouble with EOSDIS worldview at the moment? It won’t load images and I’m wonder if it’s isolated just to me or if it’s an issue with the site.

  10. Abel Adamski

     /  August 12, 2015

    I have an item in moderation
    (forgot and included two links)
    With your background you may find it interesting, especially when foreign currency holdings and recent devaluations are taken into account.
    the old world thinking has misinterpreted as usual, thjey may think the proverbial will be hitting the fan sooner than later.

    Evolution is survival of the fittest, not the ,most powerful or biggest

    • And, as any forest or coral reef will tell you, the fittest are those most adept at cooperation, resource sharing, and teamwork.

    • Colorado Bob

       /  August 13, 2015

      Evolution is survival of the fittest.

      First it kills the old, and the weak . Just watch the heat death numbers. It’s not killing 19 year-old-men in Japan, it’s killing 3 old women living together , with no air conditioning.

      • Human beings live as long as they do because having older individuals provides a benefit. And sometimes the seemingly weakest members are the strongest supports for the group.

      • So when the young and the old die, you actually lose resiliency. You lose sight of the past and its lessons and you lose lose little bits of the future. Survivors of such traumas are often deeply scarred and less able to manage stress in daily life. A victim of heat injury, for example, though surviving, will be less fit, more susceptible to heat injury the next time around. Surviving trauma is not a sign of fitness. Avoiding that trauma altogether is.

      • Colorado Bob

         /  August 13, 2015

        We call this idea “wisdom” It’s out of fashion , but it still holds up.

  11. Colorado Bob

     /  August 13, 2015

    ‘Future generations’ sue Obama administration over climate change

    One kid says that his family’s farm has been damaged by drought and wildfire. Another says that his childhood home has been devalued by rising sea levels. A third alleges an assault on his whole culture as man-made climate change upends the natural world.


  12. And so we could see extratropical cyclones coming out of the Arctic into Europe! Or Canada.

    This is not good and nothing good will come of this. How humans respond may bring a different story but NOT if we as a species only REACT, and in the wrong way.

    • And the ones entering Canada may scream all the way down to the US Gulf Coast before entering the Atlantic and becoming hurricanes bound for the UK.

      • Maybe not hurricanes. But, yeah, that’s the roller coaster ride we’re looking forward to if that monster block doesn’t give way.

  13. -I dedicate Michael Shreve’s 1969 energetic and precision druming to Robert and his work on RS.
    Keep in mind that Shreve’s right foot is keeping one rhythm (one assigned task), his right – another. His right hand ,one — his left hand another. All working towards the same goal — all supporting the other with equal precision. And all with the brain keeping order to it (vetting).
    I’ve played a bit of drums. There is nothing like the brain-body-sensory ‘high’ you feel after a good workout.
    Here’s for Robert.
    Take it away Santana…

    • Shucks, DT. You da bomb! 😉 you guys all are!

      • Mark from OZ

         /  August 13, 2015

        Such a great site RS and so much to learn and be learned. Some days the emotions about what is occurring just come bubbling up and they’re out of step-unlike Shreve above and music is all that can help restore the ‘beat’.
        Mind passing this on to DT whose contribs are so naturally helpful like CO Bob’s who’d surely recognize the sun and rock in the background. Some days, more than others, this journey can only be described as ‘bittersweet’.
        Many, thanks amigo!

        BHT at Red Rocks Canyon, CO 2008-live ‘Bittersweet’

  14. Weather Demos:
    Warm Air Rises – Cold Water Sinks, Warm Water Rises

    • Actually, there’s a bit of a wrinkle here. The problem with cold fresh water is that it floats over warm salt water. A little physical property that means some big trouble for ocean health when glaciers really start moving.

      But, yeah, this is a great illustration of what we’re seeing in grand form over the Pacific.

  15. Colorado Bob

     /  August 13, 2015

    RS –
    I’ve been on the web as long as any layman. In 1997 I was emailing my mother from a 18 wheeler at Glenn Haven Bay. She was over joyed, ………………….our ancestors had shipwrecked there.. In 2000 I watched B-15 break off from Antarctica.

    This gave me an idea that I could watch the world. And that;s what I have done.

    Now , watching you and your readers, I would coin a new term –

    Scribblers , we are Scribblers now.

    Today a Heartland thread said people aren’t dying from climate change. I posted every event I could find.

    I am a

  16. Colorado Bob

     /  August 13, 2015

    I am a Scribbler.

    • And I lift my glass of Shenadoah brown to you sir. A fine friend and a good heart and one I am proud to have shared the company of thought with these years. We may only be here as ghosts on the wire, but we do the work of good spirits, you and I and everyone here.

  17. ‘Wildfires push plants to move north’

    As California wildfires burn tree canopies and forest floors, plants commonly found in more southern areas of the western United States are moving in.

    For example, a forest floor strewn with lupine and violets—typically found in places like Northern California and Canada—may be replaced with flowers and shrubs more often seen in drier southern climates, such as manzanita and monkey flower.

    “The plants we’re finding underneath our forests are becoming more like those seen in Mexico and Southern California,” says lead author Jens Stevens, a postdoctoral scholar with the John Muir Institute of the Environment at the University of California, Davis.

  18. – PNW 2015 record a month and a half sooner than previous 2009 record.

    ‘Portland closes-in on record number of 90-degree days’

    If Portland reaches or exceeds 90 degrees on Wednesday that would tie all-time record of 24 set back in 2009.

    The record was set on Sept. 22, 2009, just minutes after the autumnal equinox made it officially fall.

    According the National Weather Service in Portland, there were 9 days in June when the temperature reached or exceeded 90 degrees in June; 12 in days July; and 2 in August. The average is 12.

  19. Colorado Bob

     /  August 13, 2015

    I still believe, people need sound tracks , as do their work –

    The Call-Let The Day Begin

    • You know I like the music. Song of life.

    • So just a general question. Have you guys taken a look at the Jet Stream on the Southern Hemisphere side? Wow what a mess. Some of these upper level storm tracks feature winds at 235 mph +. And the whole hemisphere is just covered in high speed, high amplitude upper level wind flows. Makes you wonder if the North/south energy imbalance is starting to come into play.

      • Abel Adamski

         /  August 13, 2015

        That is concerning, especially as we have limited understanding of what it will translate to at sea level (especially for us in Oz)

      • Sunkensheep

         /  August 16, 2015

        Yes, it’s contributing to a rather cool winter in southern Aus. A little extra energy means Southern Ocean weather systems can give those blocking highs a kick. We can attribute a little of it to improvments in Antarctic ozone conditions, but there is nothing to suggest this is particularly abnormal.

        Earth nullschool also shows a surprising amount of meridional flow over the equator and ITCZ currently.

  20. Apneaman

     /  August 13, 2015
  21. redskylite

     /  August 13, 2015

    Climate Change gives Canada forestry angst . . . .

    Canada’s boreal forest, which stretches across the north of the country, is one of the world’s largest intact forests. According to Tague, it may be particularly vulnerable as you move further north.

    “The increase in temperature is greater at greater latitudes,” Tague says. “A cold drought is not the same as a warm drought.”

  22. redskylite

     /  August 13, 2015

    The Supernatural – John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers – From A Hard Road, 1967.

  23. Spike

     /  August 13, 2015

    Bad floods hit Italy – looks like yet another extreme rainfall event

  24. Leland Palmer

     /  August 13, 2015

    Damn. Emergent behavior of a complex system transferring heat from a hot reservoir to a colder one, maybe.

    It seems like nature will find a way to transfer heat, through mass flow, if by no other means, if the thermal gradient is sufficient. There’s a lesson here for icecaps…and maybe for methane hydrate deposits. We’ve learned the icecap lesson…I hope we never have to learn the methane hydrate lesson. My heart hopes there is no methane hydrate lesson to be learned…but my head tells me that there is.

    The hydrates are convoluted, and are riddled with “triple point” chimneys that may be susceptible to gas driven pumping, and that certainly allow mass flow of methane as a gas from the entire depth of the deposit. These chimneys are at equilibrium, and so are extremely sensitive to temperature. Do we really expect them to stay stable, under even one degree C of bottom water warming?

    I hope so. But, I know better, I think.

    • I think we’ll have some feedback from that system. The questions, to my mind are how much and how swiftly we can limit that feedback. We’ve had periods relatively recently when the world was in the current temperature range globally (150,000 years ago). So you’d think the carbon stores that become vulnerable now are ones that were generally laid down since that time. In addition, the energy imbance and ultimate trajectory of warming play a part, as does the pace of warming which may destabilize stores more rapidly than otherwise. So the ultimate 2-3.4 C warming implied by the 420 CO2e (when you count aerosols) is concerning in that it implies possible destabilization vulnerability to 2-5 million year old carbon stores.

      I think we really need to try to get out of that range of forcing as swiftly as possible. A ten percent human emissions equivalent carbon store response is probably something we can handle. But getting to 20-30 percent + feedback implies a bit of a runaway. That’s something we really should do our best to avoid.

      • Leland Palmer

         /  August 13, 2015

        Hi Robert-

        Yes, the rate of change is important, I think. If the methane has time to be oxidized into CO2 and get sequestered as carbonate by the rock weathering cycle, no problem.

        It’s when the atmospheric and oceanic oxidation capacities of the atmosphere and individual ocean basins become overwhelmed that the strong methane associated feedback kicks in, I think.

        That’s one reason I tend to doubt the line of reasoning that says “well if CO2 levels and temperatures were as xxx range in the past, we’ll see xxx effects”. It’s a historical, path dependent, velocity dependent system, I think.

        If we go too rapidly from one level to another, we could access carbon stores older than those that the system accessed before at the same CO2 or temperature level, because the strong methane associated positive feedback loops were not activated then. The system has inertia, and will likely blow past the 150,000 year levels before it stabilizes. Methane concentrations 150,000 years ago peaked at about 700 ppb, according to the ice core data I’ve seen.

        We’re at at least 2.5 times that now, mostly due to rice culture and animal husbandry, and natural processes, not Arctic emissions. But I’m not sure that matters. If we activate the strong methane associated positive feedback loops that were active during the End Permian, we may access carbon stores older than 250 million years old – we may dissociate all of the methane hydrate this time and do it all within a couple of hundred years, because the sun is hotter now and because our human greenhouse forcing is unnaturally non-random. That’s what I worry about.

        Much food for thought.

        Thanks so much for all your fine work.

        • Leland. Just to note. The largest single methane emissions contributor is fossil fuel production. The second largest single contributor is industrial livestock farming. Remove fossil fuels and you take out 33 percent of the human methane emission. Remove large scale meat farming and you seriously winnow down the 27 percent represented by that harmful industry. Rice, landfills, and biomass compose the rest which can show reductions due to changes. But taking down fossil fuels alone implies a 300-400 ppb drop in atmospheric levels over a couple of decades.

          So, as always, ignoring fossil fuels is not a very good idea.

      • “The largest single methane emissions contributor is fossil fuel production. The second largest single contributor is industrial livestock farming. Remove fossil fuels and you take out 33 percent…”
        – Absolutely, Robert. That is the majority of the controllable methane pyramid. It is the gaseous “smoking gun” that is currently pointed at our collective heads, and hearts.

  25. Kiribati’s 100,000 people live on 32 atolls in the central Pacific, most of which are less than 6m above sea level and are suffering coastal erosion as the world’s ice caps melt.

    ELEANOR HALL: So if nothing changes, how long will it be before your country may be completely under water?

    PRESIDENT ANOTE TONG: The story has already begun. Communities are beginning to move. More communities will begin to move very shortly and so it has begun and I think whether the question you ask is: when will it all be underwater? I really don’t know but I can guarantee you that the damage is already beginning and I believe in 10, 20 years, certainly within 20 years we will see a radical change and I think we cannot really afford to wait. We have to begin to act now.

  26. eugene

     /  August 13, 2015

    An old saying: Closing the barn door after the horse got out. I think we have unleashed an unstoppable monster. I attended my first climate change talk in 1982, lived in Alaska for many yrs and long ago, accepted the inevitable. Doomer to many, realist to me.

    • Just make sure an unrealistic nihilism doesn’t escape the wide open barn door, Eugene.

      We’ve certainly set up some bad impacts. But there are more bad impacts that are certainly escapeable at this time. Under current forcing, there’s a chance we get some bad feedbacks. But the likelihood of hitting a mini runaway relies on a nearly pure exponential carbon feedback trend. And that generally is not something we see in nature.

      Ramp, increased velocity, spike, decline, new equilibrium. That’s usually the shape of it.

      So yeah, some bad stuff has run out the barn door. But you’d better close it quick or more bad stuff is coming.

  27. Brian#2

     /  August 13, 2015

    Dying California Forests Offer Glimpse Into Climate Change

    “Every year over the last decade and a half, the U.S. Geological Survey has descended on Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks in California to give 17,000 trees a physical. But in a growing number of cases, what’s starting off as a check-up is turning into an autopsy.

    The cause of death is usually insects or fungus, but researchers suspect it’s almost always because of one culprit: lack of water.

    Normally, only about two per cent of the trees in their study areas die. But this year, that number has grown to 13 per cent.”

  28. Greg

     /  August 13, 2015

    Twin typhoons developing in Pacific with low wind sheer and plenty of hot water. Not good news for Saipan which was just hit by Soudelor and is reeling.

  29. Greg

     /  August 13, 2015

    New NREL (national renewable energy laboratory) data dramatically increases the case for transition to wind energy in the United States (and elsewhere by implication) based on improvements in turbine technology and cost reductions. It argues for the clear replacement of coal and natural gas. “Older studies such as the Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study are now obsolete… the new NREL data significantly strengthens the case for increasing the rate of expansion of wind power in the U.S. energy portfolio.

  30. “Analysis of a global survey finds that more than a third of the world’s adults have never heard of climate change. For some countries, such as South Africa, Bangladesh and Nigeria, this rises to more than two-thirds of the adult population.”

    Policy is in the hands of governments. Worldwide, how many politicians get elected by putting climate change at the top of their agenda? Almost none?

    When less than 40% of the population of a country like Bangladesh are even aware of the concept of climate change, they will have no chance of confronting the crises that await them.

    We can only try to ensure that the law makers and opinion makers are better informed than the people they represent.

  31. wili

     /  August 13, 2015

    It looks like the southern route of the NW Passage has now opened up.

    Does anyone have a record of when it has opened up in the last few years? This seems like it would be a record early date.

    Of course, I’m not sure if there is an official source that declares when these things happen. Any ideas?

  32. Abel Adamski

     /  August 22, 2015

    The atmospherics are changing, when will the ocean currents
    “”Synchronization of two major ocean systems can amplify the transport of heat toward the polar regions and cause larger fluctuations in northern hemisphere climate,” said Summer Praetorius, a doctoral student in marine geology at Oregon State and lead author on the Science paper. “This is consistent with theoretical predictions of what happens when Earth’s climate reaches a tipping point.”

    “That doesn’t necessarily mean that the same thing will happen in the future,” she pointed out, “but we cannot rule out that possibility.”

    The study found that synchronization of the two regional systems began as climate was gradually warming. After synchronization, the researchers detected wild variability that amplified the changes and accelerated into an abrupt warming event of several degrees within a few decades.”

    “A tipping point for climate change “may be crossed in an instant,” Mix noted, “but the actual response of the Earth’s system may play out over centuries or even thousands of years during a period of dynamic adjustment.”

    “Understanding those dynamics requires that we look at examples from the past,” Mix said. “If we really do cross such a boundary in the future, we should probably take a long-term perspective and realize that change will become the new normal. It may be a wild ride.”

    Added Praetorius: “Our study does suggest that the synchronization of the two major ocean systems is a potential early warning system to begin looking for the tipping point.”

    The patterns are changing and the oceans warming

  1. Monster El Nino Turns Typhoon Eyes Toward Arctic | robertscribbler

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