Top Scientist — Threat of Catastrophic Permafrost Thaw is “Real and Imminent”

There’s a lot of carbon stored in the Arctic’s thawing permafrost. According to our best estimates, it’s in the range of 1,300 billion tons (see Climate Change and the Permafrost Feedback). That’s more than twice the amount of carbon already emitted by fossil fuels globally since the 1880s. And the sad irony is that continuing to burn fossil fuels risks passing a tipping point beyond which rapid destabilization and release of those carbon stores becomes locked in.

permafrost_map

(Global permafrost coverage as recorded by the World Meteorological Organization. A 2 C global warming threshold is generally thought to be the point at which enough of the Arctic permafrost will go into catastrophic destabilization, to result in a global warming amplifying feedback that then thaws all or most of the rest. The 2 C threshold was chosen because it is the bottom boundary of the Pliocene — a time when this permafrost store formation began. However, there may be some risk that enough of the store could become unstable at lesser levels of warming — crossing the tipping point sooner than expected. Image source: WMO.)

At issue is the fact that most of this carbon has been stored during the past 2 million year period of ice ages and interglacials. Due to human fossil fuel burning, we are now entering a period in which the Arctic is becoming warmer than at any time in at least the past 110,000 years. And with atmospheric CO2 levels now hitting and exceeding concentrations last seen during the Pliocene of 2-3 million years ago, large swaths of that carbon store may be in jeopardy of rapidly thawing. Such a thaw would release yet more CO2 and heat trapping methane into the atmosphere.

It’s something to worry over even if you’re not one of those, like Sam Carana, who’s concerned about a potential catastrophic methane release. And it doesn’t take a climate scientist to tell you that we’ve already seen some disturbing increases in methane emissions from thermokarst lakes, from permafrost regions themselves, through the permafrost and duff-destroying mechanisms of Arctic wildfires, from submerged seabed tundra in the ESS, and from the odd new features we’re now calling methane blowholes.

smoke-from-siberian-tundra-fires-august-1-2014

(Are large Siberian fires like this outbreak on August 1 of 2014 indicative that the Arctic permafrost carbon stores are nearing a critical tipping point? Top scientists think we should find out as quickly as possible. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

Top Woods Hole Scientist Calls for Tipping Points Investigation

With so much carbon stored in the permafrost, any level of warming that begins to unlock significant volumes of its massive store can result in passing a climate change point of no return. Setting off amplifying feedbacks that do not stop until much or all of that carbon is released and we’ve been propelled into new, much hotter, climate states. Given the fact that we are already starting to enter the range of Eemian temperatures — a period in which the world was as warm or warmer than now, but the Arctic stayed reasonably cooler — it’s more than reasonable to assume that such a danger is already upon us.

Today, a noted Woods Hole Scientist by the name of Dr. Max Holmes called such a threat “real and imminent” stating:

“The release of greenhouse gasses resulting from thawing Arctic permafrost could have catastrophic global consequences. The United States must lead a large-scale effort to find the tipping point – at what level of warming will the cycle of warming and permafrost thawing become impossible to stop. The real and imminent threat posed by permafrost thawing must be communicated clearly and broadly to the general public and the policy community.”

Dr. Holmes was joined by other Woods Hole scientists in issuing this call for more research into what they now consider a growing and immediate threat (see full press release here).

The generally accepted ‘tipping point’ for large permafrost store release tends to be in the range of 2 degrees Celsius. The problem is we’ve already emitted enough CO2, methane and other greenhouse gasses to warm the Earth by 2-4 degrees Celsius long term and by around 1.4 to 1.9 degrees Celsius this Century. So it appears we already have a good deal of momentum toward the accepted permafrost thaw and related carbon release tipping point. Dr. Holmes’  and his Woods Hole colleagues are calling for a focused effort to more accurately nail down that tipping point. To give us a better idea how close we really are and to provide a sense of urgency for avoiding what could best be described as a terrible brand of trouble.

Links:

US Scientists Warn Leaders of the Dangers of Thawing Permafrost

Climate Change and the Permafrost Carbon Feedback

World Meteorological Organization

Appropriate Concern Over Catastrophic Methane Release

LANCE-MODIS

Hat tip to Redskylite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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139 Comments

  1. – My Oh my. Things are happening fairly quickly these days… Must be buoyant with irony.🙂
    So many warnings — and so many intentionally deaf ears.

    Irony number one: ” The United States must lead a large-scale effort to find the tipping point…”

    Isn’t just that been happening all along with the US creating the tipping point while moving the fulcrum? You know, piling more, and more, weight on the trapdoor of the climate gallows.

    – Not to weight our concerns with cynicism here — but very glad to hear the alarm being sounded.

    Reply
    • – “Real and Imminent” or “Clear and Present”.

      “Mr President.”
      “Yes.”
      “It’s here.”
      “What’s here?”
      “The ‘C’ word. The one we were alerted to 30, 40, or more, years ago.”
      “Climate change? Funny the subject never even came up in the last two Presidential Debates. Was I there?”
      “Yes, Mr. President. You were there.”
      “…”

      Reply
    • Tom

       /  August 28, 2015

      uh . . we passed the tipping point years ago.

      Reply
  2. Do not know how much time Max Holmes has spent in the Arctic, but Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov have spent so many decades in the Arctic that they could be honorary polar bears.

    Based on making direct observations Dr. Shakhova had stated some years ago that a 50 Gt “burp” of methane could happen at any time.

    And Dr. Paul Beckwith thinks that a 5°C to 6°C global temperature rise is likely in a decade or two.

    Reply
    • 5-6 C in two decades is unlikely, Robin. 0.5 C to 1 C over the same period would be bad enough. BAU rates of fossil fuel burning gets us to 2 C by 2036 under more sensitive climate scenarios. See Mann.

      For reference the current decadal rate of increase is 0.15 to 0.2 C which is more than 20 times faster than at the end of the last ice age.

      I’ve written extensively about S&S. This isn’t a coverage contest.

      Reply
      • While one’s informed opinion is it’s “unlikely”, the paleoclimatic evidence says it is entirely possible.

        According to a recently published paper in the June 19th issue of Science Express, it was revealed:

        “The ice core showed the Northern Hemisphere briefly emerged from the last ice age some 14,700 years ago with a 22-degree-Fahrenheit spike in just 50 years, then plunged back into icy conditions before abruptly warming again about 11,700 years ago. Startlingly, the Greenland ice core evidence showed that a massive ‘reorganization’ of atmospheric circulation in the Northern Hemisphere coincided with each temperature spurt, with each reorganization taking just one or two years, said the study authors.” [my emphasis]

        Of course too, one can parse Beckwith’s “global temperature rise” opinion against the article’s “Northern Hemisphere” temperature rise evidence, as well as whether or not this will happen in ‘a’ or ‘next’ decade or two.

        The relevant point is — of which this is but one bit of alarming evidence among some other alarming paleoclimatic studies — that very abrupt (e.g. in 20 years +/-) climatic changes have occurred in the past. And while they may prove to be unlikely in our time (which we can all pray is the case), they are quite possible; especially given the massive climatic events (the CO2 induced 1ºC climatic atmospheric & oceanic facts of the matter as told here) that are happening way ahead of and outside the computer modeling box of most all previous forecasts. In short, our present level of ‘comprehensive knowledge’ as to what will or will not ‘very abruptly’ happen is woefully lacking. That’s one ‘opinion’ I’m sure we can agree on.

        Also, while I certainly understand and sympathize with a desire to down play any doomerist (“we’re toast”) sentiment, and respect all you are doing to report on what is happening (already bad enough) and what we are coming to better understand — yet still not realistically addressing with any worthy sense of urgency via public policy and media coverage — one can hope your informed opinion is correct. But that doesn’t make go away any and all the real and potentially alarmist evidence to the contrary.

        Of course, this is just my opinion and in no way meant to disparage yours. But one I felt necessary to express. I’m otherwise in complete agreement that we need to stop burning fossil fuels ASAP!

        Reply
        • True. But you have to consider the necessary conditions. Right now we have warming bumping up against the inertia provided by increasingly rapid ice melt. We have to get over the barrier of Heinrich Events and related ocean surface cooling in the regions impacted before we see rapid atmospheric warming of this kind. Even large methane releases drive a maximum of 0.5 C per decade warming and in the face of that surface temperature negative feedback. In other words, those ice sheets sit in the way of such a massive spike in atmospheric temperature. And what we should be doing is anticipating a melt acceleration coupled with a warming plateau in the atmosphere and severe storms by mid century. Or, more specifically — wild swings in temperature as glacial melt discharges ramp up in the face of a rising energy imbalance.

          The net effect is likely to be a rippling plateau around 2 C as the ice sheets go down. That’s the nature of the geophysical state we’re in right now. You really can’t ignore those ice sheets when it comes to atmospheric warming rates.

    • Sunkensheep

       /  August 30, 2015

      Sensible heat would pose a problem with that. 5C in two decades would be unimaginable. Huge energy imbalance would be required, weather would make absolutely no sense, response of earth’s systems would no longer resemble anything in paleoclimate.

      1C over the next two decades under BAU is what I am expecting (could still destabilize permafrost though.)

      Reply
  3. LJR

     /  August 27, 2015

    It occurs to me that one of our very serious problems is that we have been dredging up carbon from places where normally it would remain safely sequestered for eons. Doesn’t this mean that we have created a situation where all this relatively accessible permafrost, etc. carbon can add CO2 to what should have remained buried? In other words, we have totally disrupted what would be a normal reshuffling by adding CO2 from sources that normal climate changes would not be able to access.

    Even surface level coal is pretty stable and doesn’t ignite and burn. CO2 from oil a mile down would normally never be part of a climatological shift.

    I think we may be in a lot worse situation than we have yet to grasp no matter how we play our remaining deuces and threes.

    Reply
    • Absolutely, LJR. Digging up old carbon and dumping it into the atmosphere is a huge problem.

      Reply
    • James Burton

       /  August 28, 2015

      Good post. I agree totally. The long term natural carbon cycle of the planet is huge and very complex. Carbon hides in many different places, and nature puts it there. I try to explain the Carbon Cycle to people who will listen, so few people understand even the basics of it. We are victims, as you just said, of digging up the old carbon and putting it back into the atmosphere in a totally unnatural way. Natural forces maintain earth as very habitable for life forms, we disrupted the natural way, and that forces the atmosphere into a state that is not conducive to present life forms, and US!

      Reply
  4. Reblogged this on GarryRogers Nature Conservation and Science Fiction (#EcoSciFi) and commented:
    Unmeasured dangers rising up and still nothing effective from our governments. More members of the U. S. House and Senate need to speak up and add weight to the President’s calls for action.

    Reply
  5. climatehawk1

     /  August 27, 2015

    Tweeting.

    Reply
  6. PlazaRed

     /  August 27, 2015

    3 states of comment:-
    Positive.
    Negative.
    Realistic.

    The realistic comment is that its all just like a line of dominos now, in my opinion being realistic, the first domino is falling and about to hit the next one, then the line all falls down.
    Being realistic I don’t think that anything can be done to stop the warming now as the greenhouse gases locked up in the land and permafrost are going to get out into the air, probably some from beneath the water as well.

    To be positive would be to assume that the CO2 will be reduced and even largely diminished but there are too many players on the board for that and everybody wants transport and electricity, along with a lot of other things.

    Being negative would lead us to thinking that there is nothing we can do about it, so better just carry along as if nothing is happening. Its time to approach the problem of getting the gases out of the air and probably nobody knows yet if that can be done, or how on Earth to do it.

    Realism is going to be the byword of the next few decades.
    I think that all the time scales are too long and that even 10 years from now significant changes will be apparent to even the blind who at the moment refuse to see.

    Reply
    • What’s realistic is to stop fossil fuel burning as rapidly as possible. Denial prevents us from applying realistic policy goals.

      Reply
  7. Loni

     /  August 27, 2015

    Well, no sense castigating late arrivals I suppose, but I hope what made them late is that they’ve been dragging trunk loads of solutions and money behind them. Because if all they’re doing is showing up to start fretting………those seats are taken already. (I think it was Harold Hensel who said, maybe a year or so ago, ‘The time for studies is over, what we need now is action.’)

    I’m sure those of us who have been following your writings Robert would agree, what we need are ideas flyin’ around like baseballs at spring training, financing that would make the U.S. defense department jealous, and folks with the power and balls to get something moving.

    As robindatta mentioned in quoting Dr. Shakhova, a 50gt release could happen at any time. (Actually, it was Dr. Semiletov who interrupted Natalia Shakhova with those words, as she was explaining the time frame, “we’re not talking 100 years or 50 years”, and he added from off camera, “any time.”, at which point Dr. Shakhova took a noticeable deep breathe, as if to regain composure. Anyone watching that video could see at that point just what trouble we were/are in.

    With all due respect to Dr Holmes and the good crew at Woods Hole………it’s burning……..we need ice, and lots of it……NOW.

    Reply
  8. entropicman

     /  August 27, 2015

    In years past permafrost thawing was expected to lead to slow carbon release. It was even left out of the CMIP5 models as insignificant.

    Now we are seeing unexpected rapid carbon release in CO2 from wildfires and methane from explosive pingo’s.

    It is good to see that the possible consequences are being studied at last.

    Reply
  9. Watching Rising Seas From Space
    NASA JPL
    Uploaded on Aug 25, 2015

    Reply
    • Tom

       /  August 28, 2015

      They’re still using the “bath tub” analogy talk about heat as the primary driver and don’t even mention the huge gravitational effects that ice sheet melting exhibit. See the following for more current information:

      Jerry Mitrovica, Harvard University

      Reply
      • James Burton

         /  August 28, 2015

        Much thanks for that!

        Reply
      • James Burton

         /  August 28, 2015

        Fascinating talk actually. If Greenland melts down, sea levels in the north fall due to loss of gravitational pull from the mass of ice. While sea levels rise south of a 2,000 kilometer line. More water overall, but the loss of a great gravitational force pulling water towards the Greenland coast. Even Scotland would see it’s sea level fall in a scenario of Greenland Ice Sheet collapse. Who says physics isn’t fun! But sea level rise closer to the equator would be massive!

        Reply
  10. PlazaRed

     /  August 27, 2015

    I think that the only possibility of people stopping burning fossil fuels would be if they were restricted by governments and I really cant see that happening as it would be political suicide for the party concerned.
    With gas, (petrol type gas,) the price is now dropping even in Europe its about 20% cheaper than last year, this is going to encourage more use of it via driving about.
    With coal, the demand for electricity is so huge that it is going to take decades to convert and as a lot of power is needed in the winter when sunlight is not available a lot of the time, then wind seems to be the only major contender as an alternative power supply.

    Agriculture creates a lot of pollution via burning its waste products.
    Shipping and general transport are major consumers of fossil fuels.
    Wild fires are evidence of droughts and also intentional burning.
    There are just so many forms of pollution of the air, I cant seem to see a way to even keep their use stable as there always seems to be new ways to find and burn them.

    I don’t really know how anybody is going to peacefully get people to stop using fossil fuels.
    This is the problem with them, Humans find them too convenient.

    Reply
    • Steven Blaisdell

       /  August 28, 2015

      “…restricted by government…”
      Not so sure about that. As has been said many times, a WWII scale investment in non-fossil fuel electricity production could eliminate ~40% of US CO2. If we include an incentivized transition to electric cars and light trucks in our 21st century Manhattan Project, add another ~16% reduction. While these figures are just for the US, remember the US is responsible for 19% of global emissions. If you add in an international, CCC style reforestation and land use project you could reduce global emissions ~10%. I guess my point is, instead of certain to be resisted government restriction, we could – theoretically – just “build a better model,” which any red blooded American can get behind (although a bug fat gas tax and a hefty carbon tax are also necessary). But what’s needed is to build excitement for a “new future,” or a “new tomorrow”; a ‘make America great again” message of optimism and hope. The problem, of course, is News Corp and its minions. But I think even those reptiles are vulnerable to a national movement of can-do optimism.
      China, on the other hand, appears to be using state power to refashion its power sector away from coal. Whatever works. As James Hansen said, the primary goal is to leave any remaining coal in the ground, and levy an inviolable carbon tax. From his mouth to our ears.

      Reply
      • I see way too many Americans, on a daily basis, worshiping their internal combustion engines and their big vehicles, to believe that the oft-cited WWII effort has any chance of getting off the ground here.

        I can’t even gain any traction in convincing a group of relatively smart people in a cohort of mine (people who play competitive Scrabble) not to travel internationally or cruise to play, and not to keep adding tournaments to the docket that encourage long-distance travel.

        Reply
        • I don’t worry about the views of everyday Americans so much as the forces that drive those views. The well, as it were, has been tainted for a long time. It takes leadership to change this.

      • Cheers Steve. Great to see some straight talk on this issue. I have to say I’m in the same boat as you. If we look at dealing with climate change as fashioning better, more resilient, more high quality economic and energy systems it’s a much stronger sell. The problem with our age of laissez faire free market capitalism is that quality advancement has been sacrificed on the alter of the all mighty profit motive. We need a quality motive, a better life motive, a better future motive. Profit motive is a pit of despair.

        Reply
  11. T-rev

     /  August 27, 2015

    Long time reader never posted. I see the point made often that it’s deniers that are “to blame” for no effective action on mitigation but study after study I read states deniers are a very small minority and the vast majority want action on mitigation. The study below shows Australia to be the highest in denial at 18%

    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/australia-tops-the-world-for-climate-change-denial-study-20150717-gierns.html

    Taking that study at face value, it seems to me blaming a small minority for our inaction is a cop-out, either the vast majority are lying, they’re hypocrites or some combination ? The vast majority neither seem to mitigate their personal emissions eg stop flying for holidays (tourism accounts for more than 80% of air traffic apparently and total flying emissions rank on about the same level as all of Germany’s), or vote for politicians who will enact legislation to cut emissions (and drag the recalcitrant deniers with them).

    Isn’t it time for the vast majority to ‘fess up that they’re the problem, we’re just not yet prepared to do what needs to be done, as we don’t reeeaaallllly see it as a problem (like a smoker who keep smoking), perhaps that’s just another form of “denial” I guess ?

    I don’t fly for holidays, use solar only for electricity, cut back on goods consumption and meat consumption and cycle don’t drive. I am not saying these are answers for everyone but they do keep my CO2e emissions very low, each person can easily figure out how to cut their emissions significantly with very little effort, that combined with voting for politicians who support mitigation is really all we needs to do and all anyone can be expected to do.

    Reply
    • And what percentage of those deniers are running the Aussie government? Abbott counts, I would think. Here, the Congress is full of them. And you can bet we’d be much further along without them having gummed up the works for 40+ years.

      Climate policy makes a huge difference. A critical difference. Apparently you’re not getting that. Policy gets those who don’t know what’s going on to contribute. Policy moves everybody. A few superlatives ain’t going to cut it. Focusing solely on abstinence doesn’t help much at all.

      Climate change deniers and fossil fuel industry cheerleaders are getting in the way of effective policy that can rapidly reduce emissions and prevent harm. And that is why they are certainly deserving of blame. So long as they can prevent a majority of people from doing what you already do, then we have a serious problem.

      Reply
      • mikkel

         /  August 28, 2015

        Yes but the larger point is that vast majorities of people do want climate policies to be enacted (or at least say they do) and yet they aren’t be. I think perhaps the issue is the formation of a global “single issue” party that focuses exclusively on addressing climate change. It’d be like the Pirate Party in having shared ethos and branding.

        Of course single issue is in quotes because in reality its policies address every part of life; it’s more everything issue within a singular context.

        Reply
      • mikkel

         /  August 28, 2015

        Wow I was not paying attention while writing my comment. I meant to say that a possible way to address it is by forming a political party in each country that had globally shared vision and branding. It would be a more holistic Green Party, because it wouldn’t have the historical baggage that the Greens seem to be dragged down by.

        Robert, I’m getting a lot more sympathetic to your point about policy having to be the primary focus, simply because of the number of people I’ve talked to and read about who desperately want to live differently but feel trapped into their patterns in order to survive.

        Reply
        • I don’t know if we need a new party, per sey. Just a way to coordinate all the various concerned groups — environmentalists, greens, scientists, renewable energy supporters, sustainability supporters, anti-pollution folks, futurists etc. There’s really a potential for a very broad coalition on this issue, especially when you leverage the basic desire for problem avoidance and improved quality of life. Climate change as threat to life and quality of life is an extraordinary motivator. But on the back end, we revitalize a view of a better future that everyone can take part in. A future in which we work together to confront climate change rather than become divided and fight over diminishing resources.

          Policy enables people to work together. It reduces the power of those solely motivated by profit. It helps to free the captive consumer and it generates a far broader awareness through societal participation. It reaches down to the level of the individual and helps to establish the social moralities we need to survive this mess. Glad to see you’re reconsidering, Mikkel. Warmest regards to you and great to see you posting again.

      • Matt

         /  August 28, 2015

        Yes Robert, Abbott can count and he is on a knife edge! When he became the Liberal leader before the last election he did so with a majority of 1 within his own party. That is, 1 vote was the difference between a moderate progressive Liberal who publicly stated their support of AGW science and implementing an ETS to combat it (Malcolm Turnbull), and that of a far right extremist nut job in Abbott, destined to force our country into the dark ages!
        The silver lining is that Abbott and his merry band of Liberals are being hammered in the polls and if this continues he will be a goner before the next election cycle (Turnbull will take the reins if this occurs). This will set the country up for a bi-partisan approach to an ETS and eventual progress on reducing emissions. However the clock is ticking as we all know too well.
        The next possible trigger for a leadership challenge could well come on 19th of September when one of our electorates (Canning, in Western Australia) is due for a by-election (due to the death of its member). The Liberal party hold this seat by 11%, if they lose it there will be many scared party members willing to ditch him in order to save their own political hide!

        Reply
        • I’d really like to see him go. Australia is on the verge of becoming a solar powerhouse. A few more years of sound policy is really all it takes.

    • Greg

       /  August 28, 2015

      I know we are watching Erika heading towards the mainland. In the meantime she has hit Dominica hard. At least 12 dead and a lot of devastation. High rainfall amounts.

      http://www.wunderground.com/news/tropical-storm-erika-preparations-caribbean-florida-impacts

      Reply
    • Sunkensheep

       /  August 30, 2015

      There are two very important things to know about Australia. One is that our mainstream media, even that not run by Murdoch or mining magnates, is extremely censored. Guests are explicitly told what they may not speak about, and anyone who rocks the boat too much finds themselves cast out.

      The second is the public service, where abuse of power is rife, and those who point out internal problems find themselves subject to bullying and are sometimes “found” (through contrived means) to be mentally ill. It is not acceptable to deliver bad news or criticism to the minister when their policy isn’t working. The group of elites who form the advisors to government also hold a narrow consensus view of how things should be done.

      Reply
  12. – Bees and Scott Hoffman Black of the Xerces Society here in PDX.

    Pesticides Killing Bees: Study Shows What ‘Everybody’s Suspected’

    Expert Scott Black explains why bees are the canaries in the ecological coal mine

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/pesticides-killing-bees-study-shows-what-everybodys-suspected-20150826

    Reply
    • From the article:

      The U.S. Geological Survey just published a report about neonicotinoids being in streams all over the country.

      The USGS study simply says that these chemicals are found in half the streams we’ve sampled. … the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with their meta-analysis of 800 studies showing that these chemicals are really a problem for pollinators and other beneficial insects, and they’re a huge problem for aquatic insects. Neonics are easily transported from soil into water, and they’re very toxic to aquatic organisms that make up the base of the food chain for fish and for the birds who eat the insects. What’s really interesting is that there are almost no studies coming out that are saying these chemicals are safe.

      Reply
  13. – A person of character, this Robert Angus Smith.

    ‘Acid Rain Was Discovered Way Earlier Than You Probably Think’

    Robert Angus Smith was born in the early 1800s, and had two major interests: religion and chemistry. …

    When Smith came back to the UK, he studied sanitation and got various temporary positions, one of which led him to Manchester, England. The soot pollution in the air troubled him, as did the occasional times when he was asked to be an “expert witness” in cases of chemical contamination, with the understanding that his job was to give favorable testimony, not the truth. What bothered him most was the fact that the rain in Manchester was slightly, but noticeably, acidic. In 1852 he began spreading word about this phenomenon, which he called “acid rain.”

    His scrupulous refusal to provide biased testimony, and his passionate work in what was then known as sanitation, and now known as environmentalism, never got him the big bucks, but they did get him a position as an “Alkali Inspector.” They also laid the groundwork that would kickstart the global movement against pollution a century later, when “acid rain” became a household word.

    http://io9.com/acid-rain-was-discovered-way-earlier-than-you-probably-1725574764

    Reply
    • I love these kinds of stories. People of conviction have the power to change things if they’re willing to stand on principle. It’s corruption that leads to cynicism and systemic failure. We can change things if we have conviction and refuse to give ‘biased testimony.’

      Reply
      • Isn’t that the truth — conviction, principle — without them we are empty. It really isn’t that hard to live by. It only hurts for a little while — then after that you are strong in ways you never thought possible.

        Reply
      • Steven Blaisdell

         /  August 28, 2015

        Corruption and fear.

        Reply
      • Steven Blaisdell, I don’t get your connection. ?

        Reply
  14. – #CrudeAwakening
    surfertoday.com/environment

    Surf activists paddle out to oil platform off Santa Barbara

    A group of surfers and water sports enthusiasts paddled out more than five miles to an oil platform located off Santa Barbara.

    The event supported by Surfrider Foundation and Patagonia aimed to protest and raise awareness about the dangers of offshore drilling, three months after the Refugio Oil Spill, which sent 140,000 gallons of thick crude oil to marine protected areas, and beaches.

    Reply
  15. Andy in SD

     /  August 28, 2015

    Lots of data on permafrost temperature changes over time. I had a link way way back on a thread regarding NWT permafrost deltas and it looked very bad indeed. I’ll see if I can re-find it.

    Data like this graph shows a sobering trend.

    Reply
    • Andy in SD

       /  August 28, 2015

      Permafrost Temperature 1978 to 2008 Deadhorse, Northern Alaska

      Reply
    • uilyam

       /  August 28, 2015

      Andy: “Data like this graph shows a sobering trend.”

      Okay, let’s see if this is so. I pulled and saved the image. I printed it full-size on A4 paper. I carefully measured the data points at about 23.14 meters (estimating the nearest tenth of a millimeter on my printout). This is the second data point from the top for 2005 (i.e., the closest to the surface with a large number data points).

      I plugged my measurements into an Excel spreadsheet and did a linear fit. It has a slope of 0.467 degrees C per decade (R-squared is 0.9608 with 8 data points). At this rate of linear temperature increase, we would go above zero degrees C (i.e., melting) at a depth of about 20 meters in 2045.

      I do indeed find this sobering.

      Reply
      • Andy in SD

         /  August 28, 2015

        uilyam, I’ll try to find the NWT data. It is very well done.

        Reply
    • Fantastic research by Andy on this one. And, yeah, a really nasty trend.

      Reply
  16. Andy in SD

     /  August 28, 2015

    Another side effect of the temperature change is the welcome mat for invasive species. A significant player in this is the spruce beetle. It has devastated enormous swaths of BC and is now doing it’s thing in Alaska & Yukon.

    The cold winters that killed spruce beetles has reduced, warm periods where they propagate, spread and consume has increased.

    As the trees are weakened and many die, they become forest fire kindling. Also, their ecology changes such that species that thrive in those forest leave -or- die.

    Reply
  17. Reblogged this on The Secular Jurist and commented:
    “A 2 C global warming threshold is generally thought to be the point at which enough of the Arctic permafrost will go into catastrophic destabilization, to result in a global warming amplifying feedback that then thaws all or most of the rest.”

    Reply
  18. This piece is worth it for the permafrost map alone. The big discontinuity of permafrost in central Asia is very interesting.

    Reply
    • wili

       /  August 28, 2015

      ? Do you mean the space between Siberia and the Himalayas, which is mostly desert? Why would you be surprised by that? I agree that the map is cool. But in some ways it understates the maximum depth of permafrost. It marks points that are more than 10 meters thick (~33 feet). But there are places that are nearly a mile thick. It will obviously take a while for all of that to melt, but there is a heck of a lot of carbon up there in total, more than exists in all terrestrial life on the planet.

      “In areas of continuous permafrost and harsh winters, the depth of the permafrost can be as much as 1,493 m (4,898 ft) in the northern Lena and Yana River basins in Siberia.[8] Permafrost can also store carbon, both as peat and as methane. The most recent work investigating the permafrost carbon pool size estimates that 1400–1700 Gt of carbon is stored in permafrost soils worldwide.[9] This large carbon pool represents more carbon than currently exists in all living things and twice as much carbon as exists in the atmosphere.”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permafrost

      Reply
  19. Matt

     /  August 28, 2015

    On a differing topic, is anyone tracking TS Erika? She only has wind speeds to this point of 40kt and could possibly dissipate, but if she survives into the Bahamas then she has a massive pool of energy to draw from and her forecast track surely couldn’t be much worse for Florida in terms of tidal surge? I am amazed at her presentation on the NOAA Tropical AVN animation given the amount of shear/land interaction at present!
    I am surprised that no one here has jumped on this before me🙂 am i missing or overstating the potential risk of this storm??? I think if I were living in Florida, I would be packing and planning a short holiday inland!!! Very happy to be schooled if i have this completely wrong🙂

    Reply
    • redskylite

       /  August 28, 2015

      On target for the keys, I’ve also just noticed that Tropical Storm Jimena has just has just become Hurricane Jimena, not threatening land right now, but could hit around Hawaii later on . . . should be rough in that part of the Pacific right now with Ignacio ahead of it.

      Reply
    • Suzanne

       /  August 28, 2015

      Those of us in S. Florida have been watching this very “fickle” storm for several days. The experts cannot get a handle on this storm….Each time they run the models, the tracks and intensity predictions change…big time. So much variability in the models this close is not that common. Dr. Jeff Master’s over a Weather Underground is still thinking TS Erika will not keep it together over the mountains of Hispaniola….but no one here is taking any chances. Gov. Scott just declared a State of Emergency here as a “just in case” measure.

      What is really concerning me is that if Erika keeps it together…she may come and “stay” for awhile here in Florida and “dump” a ton of rain on us…too much too quickly. We will see.

      And that is your tropical update from S. Florida…:)

      Reply
    • Keeping an eye on it, Matt… Lots of balls in the air at the moment. But the Gulf Stream is very hot currently. If shear calms down and land doesn’t tear it apart, this will be a matter of concern.

      Reply
      • – It is possible Gov. Scott is just getting to the front of the line for Federal relief dollars even as he expunges ‘climate change’ from his government. But Floridians need to take care.

        Florida Gov. Rick Scott declares state of emergency as Tropical Storm Erika nears shore; Tampa braces for heavy rainfall

        “If we get a lot of rain there, that’s probably one of our biggest concerns,” said Scott, who urged Tampa Bay residents to prepare for a deluge. “You need three days of water, three days of food.”

        Jeff Masters of Weather Underground said even if Erika weakens, already soggy Tampa and St. Petersburg could get socked with three and six inches of rain.

        “You should look for some of the worst flooding you’ve seen there over the past five years,” Masters told The Tampa Bay Times.
        http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/tropical-storm-erika-lashes-puerto-rico-article-1.2340251

        Reply
      • – Business in Florida:

        ws/2015/08/28/tampa-bay-flood
        Tampa Bay flood-affected businesses can get emergency financing and loans

        Gov. Rick Scott has activated Florida’s Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, in an effort to help businesses and families recover from severe storms and flooding in the Tampa area in early August.

        Reply
  20. – The vagaries of weather forecasts in the age of climate change. Interesting contexts here in NWS forecast for PDX 0828-29.

    – Me, if I’m really curious, I’ll check the doppler base reflectivity and the sat infrared — and then watch monitor the sky. And if possible watch wildlife behavior for clues.
    NWS:

    “A Fall-like low pressure system will move through Tonight through Saturday, bringing the most rain with a single weather system our area has seen since March.”

    ” … ON THE GFS AND ECMWF AS THE SURFACE LOW
    MOVES THROUGH…GIVING SUPPORT TO THE HIGH WIND. ALL IN ALL…THIS
    LOOKS QUITE WET…THOUGH THE WINDY SYSTEM FRIDAY NIGHT AND SATURDAY
    MORNING MIGHT NOT BE QUITE AS WET AS PREVIOUS EXPECTED.”

    ###

    Reply
  21. – PNW Wildfires

    – BEWARE: of any official body with a title that ties two diametrically opposed set of values.
    As in ‘U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.’
    This sort thing has too much traction which is why fossil fuels always wins — always. As we have seen. The fix is in. Or, at least, all is tainted.

    ‘Senate hearing on wildfires urged to help bolster firefighting capabilities’

    Lawmakers were urged to boost federal funding for local wildfire prevention efforts at a meeting in Seattle on Thursday during a summer that has seen scores of major blazes across the drought-parched West.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/08/28/us-usa-wildfires-idUSKCN0QV29Y20150828

    Reply
  22. redskylite

     /  August 28, 2015

    Just been reading the Scientific American magazine , and it seems the albedo affect of a white roof can make a big temperature difference in Summer. Living in a sub-tropical climate I use minimal heating in winter (just 1 economy wall mounted heat panel) and use a couple of electric fans in summer to keep comfortable. It really seems to be getting more and more uncomfortable in Summer. Maybe I should consider painting my black roof white, rather than going for an a/c unit.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-cities-can-beat-the-heat/

    Reply
    • redskylite

       /  August 28, 2015

      Moody Blues:Never Comes The Day . . .

      Reply
    • Scott

       /  August 28, 2015

      Many of my clients are converting their commercial buildings to white roofs. The incremental cost of a white roof over black is more than compensated by the savings in air conditioning.

      Reply
    • Skylight, thanks for the Scientific American link: among other things, the non-even temp rise stood out for me. Louisville, KY’s temps have climbed 4C since 1961(they lost 54K trees, yearly) and it’s the fastest warming heat island in the US. They’re in the process of becoming a test lab for heat management using the various measures the SA piece describes.

      Extra points for the Moody Blues😉 Love them but I don’t have any of their music anymore…

      Despite all of the heat-related risks that cities face in the future, few have put heat-management plans in place. Louisville in Kentucky is one: it will soon become the first major US city to develop an urban heat-adaptation plan, says Stone, who is leading the project. The effort is driven by necessity. Louisville has the fastest warming urban heat island in the United States, and temperatures there have climbed by more than 4 °C since 1961. Part of the problem is that the city has lost 54,000 trees per year to insects, ice storms and lack of care.

      Stone is now collecting the baseline data that most cities lacked before embracing cooling steps. He is travelling around Louisville measuring tree cover, finding hot spots and identifying areas with vulnerable residents. The next step is to create a blueprint that combines cool roofs, green roofs, tree plantings and cool paving materials that could change the fate of the city’s most at-risk residents. Stone is starting with modest but realistic assumptions in his modelling: the conversion of just 100 buildings to green roofs, for example. At the same time, the city hopes to increase its number of trees.

      If Louisville implements the strategies that Stone recommends, it could become a testing ground that will reveal how changes to a city’s physical surface alter the urban heat island—and its pioneering programme could point the way for other cities to follow.

      Reply
  23. Colorado Bob

     /  August 28, 2015

    Disappearing sea ice forces thousands of walruses to haul out on the coast of Alaska

    With the sea ice they depend on for hunting and habitat disappearing at the end of the Arctic melt season, thousands of walruses have once again hauled out onto the northwestern Alaskan shoreline near Point Lay, Alaska. The haul out was revealed by photographer Gary Braasch in photographs dated Aug. 23 and confirmed to Mashable by the U.S. Geological Survey.

    Such haul out events, which can be dangerous for walruses since they can be trampled to death when gathered so tightly together and scarce amounts of food on land, have become another symbol of global warming’s growing footprint in the Arctic.

    http://mashable.com/2015/08/27/walrus-haul-out-alaska/

    Reply
  24. Colorado Bob

     /  August 28, 2015

    Today at 10 a.m. PDT (1 p.m. EDT, 1700 UTC), NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will host a live TV program about agency research into how and why the massive Greenland ice sheet is changing.

    At 10 a.m. PDT (1 p.m. EDT) on Friday, Aug. 28, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will host a live TV program about agency research into how and why the massive Greenland ice sheet is changing. The event features scientists actively conducting field work in Greenland, along with extensive video footage of their work performed over this summer.

    Panelists include:

    — Tom Wagner, cryosphere program scientist with NASA’s Earth Science Division
    — Laurence Smith, chair of the University of California, Los Angeles Department of Geography
    — Mike Bevis, professor of geodynamics at Ohio State University in Columbus
    — Sophie Nowicki, physical scientist at Goddard
    — Josh Willis, JPL

    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=4696

    Reply
  25. Colorado Bob

     /  August 28, 2015

    North Korean floods wreak severe damage – video

    Footage has emerged of devastation caused by torrential rain in the special economic zone near border with Russia and China

    Link

    Reply
  26. redskylite

     /  August 28, 2015

    Coastal Louisiana in the spotlight – interesting piece from NOAA ..

    Coastal Louisiana is losing land at an alarming rate—the equivalent of one football field per hour. According to 60 years of tidal gauge records from NOAA, sea level in Southeast Louisiana is rising at a rate of three feet every one hundred years due to a combination of global sea level rise and subsidence—the settling and sinking of soil over time.

    Built to Last: Climate Data Ensure Oil Supply Route in Gulf of Mexico

    https://www.climate.gov/news-features/climate-case-studies/built-last-climate-data-ensure-oil-supply-route-gulf-mexico

    Reply
  27. Wharf Rat

     /  August 28, 2015

    Purple Waves Puzzle Oregon Coast Scientists, Officials
    http://www.beachconnection.net/news/wpurple082615_510.php

    Reply
    • Leland Palmer

       /  August 28, 2015

      Well Peter Ward did talk about purple sulfur metabolizing bacteria in his book Under a Green Sky. Such bacteria would start to grow under anoxic conditions that might exist there due to the recent red tide. Ward actually predicted purple oceans if we trigger an extinction event by global warming.
      Another idea- red tide organisms color mixed with blue water color by additive color mixing, as would be appropriate for light transmitted through a wave, resulting in magenta, a purplish color.

      Reply
      • “Another report from Neskowin said the purple waves had a funky smell to it”

        I wonder if ‘funky smell’ means hydrogen sulfide, rotten egg-type smell?

        Reply
      • entropicman

         /  August 28, 2015

        That colour looks familiar. Are they anaerobic photosynthetic bacteria?

        Reply
      • Leland Palmer

         /  August 29, 2015

        The funky smell could be hydrogen sulfide, I think. Purple bacteria might tend to associate with hydrogen sulfide, Anaerobic conditions are associated with both of them. I think that’s what Ward said, anaerobic photosynthetic bacteria.

        But the oceans would tend to smell funky due to the red tide anyway, I think. Additive color mixing, which is the appropriate system of color mixing for either lights or transparent colors, means that blue plus red makes magenta, a purplish color. So the blue color of the water could combine with the red of the red tide organisms to make magenta, but only when seen by light transmitted through the ocean wave. The foam could look purplish due to the same phenomenon, but with scattered light bouncing around within the foam.

        Somebody really needs to get a sample. We don’t want to make a mistake about this, or jump to conclusions, because this could be a very important finding. Are we starting to see a glimpse of things to come, with oceans full of green and purple bacteria? Or is this just an optical phenomenon?

        Reply
      • Leland Palmer

         /  August 29, 2015

        So far as I know, though, purple waves are not a known phenomenon associated with a red tide. If it’s an optical phenomenon, it should be common in other red tides, I think. Google might tell us.

        Reply
    • Wow. Just wow… Reports of a ‘funky smell.’ I wish they’d be more specific. It’s critical really.

      Reply
      • It’s critical all right but we have so many unprecedented events that we have limited ability to describe in these bizarre contexts. As in, What the YUK is going on here?
        Yikes!🙂

        Reply
      • – Idle Thought Dept.:
        That particular shade or hue of purple sure resembles that of ocean dwelling jellyfish.
        Jellyfish do gather in groups. The ocean is now a chemical bath of our making — it’s acidic too.
        The ocean chemistry has drastically changed causing JF to proliferate in areas.
        There could be no connection at all — just a certain pigment in common.
        I’m always on the lookout for visual clues like coloration.
        OUT

        Reply
        • The one thing the scientists did note was that the jellies had nothing to do with the water being purple. I haven’t seen any instances, present or paleoclimate, of jellies causing a change in water coloration. The purple sulfur bacteria, however, is well known for it.

  28. “The United States must lead a large-scale effort to find the tipping point – at what level of warming will the cycle of warming and permafrost thawing become impossible to stop.”

    This implication in the above statement is that this cycle of warming and permafrost thawing is possible to stop. It’s not. It like popping to top on a can of beer, once it’s popped, you can’t stop the carbonation from escaping or put it back in the can. I’m all for communicating the severity of the threat clearly and broadly to the general public, but to imply that humans have the power to stop it from worsening is disingenuous & magical thinking. People need to be informed that we’re in a damned if we do, damned if we don’t situation at this time. That this is a beyond human scale global calamity that cannot be mitigated and its worst effects cannot be avoided.

    Reply
    • Doug

       /  August 28, 2015

      Wrong. Read the IPCC reports.

      Reply
      • IPCC is a perception management organization. Nothing more. Very little of what they publish is based in reality. It’s based in political/legal wrangling over what facts and observations they are and are not allowed to disclose to the general public or each other for that matter.

        Reply
    • Leland Palmer

       /  August 28, 2015

      Oh, it’s hard to say if we’re truly in an unstoppable situation. I don’t think so. For one thing, we could implement BECCS – Biomass Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage and start actively putting carbon back underground.
      But even for BECCS, we’re running out of time.

      Reply
      • We definitely need to get moving. BECCS is one of many potential mitigations. And we need to get a number of them rolling forward along with and after a total cessation of fossil fuel burning, in my view.

        Reply
      • Leland Palmer

         /  September 1, 2015

        Hi Robert

        The significant thing about BECCS is that it can have a big impact, because it is kind of a “triple whammy” – it impacts the math of the global warming problem in three ways simultaneously.

        First, it puts carbon back underground. Second, it displaces fossil fuel use. Third, it generates useful electricity, which could displace still more fossil fuel use, especially if the electricity was used to power electric vehicles.

        It could also be retrofitted to existing coal fired power plants along with solar thermal assist, taking those decades of high CO2 emissions for coal fired plants out of the equation. It is roughly cost competitive with coal, and there are studies that say it could be cost competitive with a price on carbon of 50 dollars per ton. Biomass supply and transport are problems – but they are solvable, I think.

        It does all this at the cost of polluting the deep underground with supercritical CO2, though. For me, this seems like a good trade – I’ll take it – at least our descendants would still be around to clean it up, if leakage occurs. MIneral carbonation in basalt could combine the CO2 with calcium, magnesium, and iron in the basalt to make carbonates, resulting in true geological time scale carbon storage.

        The government should just buy or seize the coal fired power plants, and maybe the natural gas power plants too, and just do this by fiat, I think.

        We’re running out of time – BECCS is limited by the rate at which carbon can be put back underground. When positive feedbacks become greater than the rate at which carbon can be put back underground, the system starts to go totally out of control, I think.

        Reply
      • Leland Palmer

         /  September 1, 2015

        Here’s a link to a paper by Peter Read and Jonathon Lermitt. Bio-energy with carbon storage (BECS): a sequential decision approach to the threat of abrupt climate change. This was written something like 15 years ago.

        http://stabilisation.metoffice.com/Read_Lermit.pdf

        “Modeling shows that, using BECS [Bio-Energy with Carbon Storage – LP], and under strong assumptions appropriate to imminent ACC [Abrupt Climate Change – LP]
        preindustrial CO2 levels can be restored by mid-century.”

        Reply
    • Actually, there’s quite a bit of evidence that now is the critical time period and that there is still a high potential to keep the runaway genie in the bottle. A rapid mitigation, according to a consensus of Arctic researchers, results in about a 1 gt of carbon per year release from the Arctic stores. It’s a rate of release that could be mitigated by human atmospheric carbon capture and land use changes. But we have to be quick.

      Of course, this view is not as refined as it could be. Hence Holmes very responsible call for a closer look. But this notion that we’re in this inevitable exponential temperature increase path now, with no hope of mitigation, is far, far outside anything in the science. A kind of unjustifiable nihilism. And nihilism doesn’t live here…

      Reply
      • Doug

         /  August 28, 2015

        Exactly. But Doomers don’t like to hear that Robert.

        Reply
        • I’m tired of the nihilists. Can’t work with them. I seek to elevate those who are action oriented. People who both identify potential problems as they arise together with mitigations, responses and solutions. Though I lean heavily toward threat ID in my own work, I am very focused on action as an end goal. So anyone promoting action here gets props from me.

    • I think this is a mischaracterization of IPCC’s vetting process and purpose. There is certainly political wrangling about what gets published [such as issues on methane and the rate of Himalayan glacier melt] and recommendations RE end warming rates [2 C vs 1.5 C etc]. And this is due to the fact that its findings are both consensus and politically driven. The result is that IPCC is likely to be conservative on some issues. Perhaps overly conservative to the point of being blind sided by risks now and then.

      However, it’s a process that we can choose to participate in. We do this by pointing out the potential risks that IPCC has overlooked. IPCC, is not the enemy. But it is not perfect either. And the fact that it’s been so heavily targeted by the fossil fuel industry cheerleaders is an indication of how effective a policy tool it can be. They want IPCC discredited and pushed to ever more conservative reports. Sadly, you’re helping the oil industry in this regard…

      Reply
  29. Wharf Rat

     /  August 28, 2015

    Typhoon Goni strikes Russia’s east coast

    27/08 03:45 CET

    Russia’s far-eastern maritime territory has been hit by a super-powerful Typhoon Goni.

    Strong winds and lashing rain began pummeling the port city of Vladivostok late Wednesday night.

    The typhoon has already ripped through Japan’s Okinawa prefecture.causing landslides and flooding injuring 26 people.

    http://www.euronews.com/2015/08/27/typhoon-goni-strikes-russia-s-east-coast/

    .

    HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Jimena quickly intensified into a Category 1 hurricane overnight as it tracks toward the Hawaiian islands to the east of Hurricane Ignacio

    http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/29886744/forecasters-track-newly-formed-tropical-depression-in-east-pacific

    Reply
  30. Andy in SD

     /  August 28, 2015

    Looking at the cyclone remnant in the Arctic, it seems to be holding it’s shape still with some gusting up to 40 mph. Concurrently extent has dipped below -2 std dev.

    Reply
  31. Colorado Bob

     /  August 28, 2015

    Thousands homeless as floods wreak havoc in Pakistan

    This year, the monsoon rains coupled with flooding caused by outbursts from glacial lakes in Pakistan’s northern mountain ranges, have so far affected about 1.52 million people, taking 219 lives and damaging about 24,000 houses in over 4,000 villages in the provinces of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, Sindh and Baluchistan and the state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. This is the sixth year in a row that Pakistan has experienced bad flooding.

    – See more at: Link

    Reply
  32. Colorado Bob

     /  August 28, 2015

    B.C. drought just part of ‘extreme weather’ story, says water expert

    Other side of coin is massive rainstorms and the havoc they bring

    “They’re not just droughts, but massive rainstorms as well,” he said.

    Schreier, a specialist in water management, examined airport records going back to their inception in 1937.

    He found just 80 millimetres had fallen at Vancouver airport from April through July, 30 mm less than the previous low in 1975, while Abbotsford was 25 mm lower than the 155 mm that fell during the same period in 1950.

    Link

    Reply
  33. Colorado Bob

     /  August 28, 2015

    European ‘extreme weather belt’ linked to worst drought since 2003

    A swathe of central Europe has suffered the most severe drought since 2003 in what EU climate experts see as a harbinger of climate changes to come.

    Rainless weeks and relentless heat desiccated a vast tract of central European land separating the continent’s drier south from its wetter north between 1 April and 31 July, according to a report by the European drought observatory (EDO).

    Link

    Reply
  34. I listened to the NASA presentation on Greenland ice melt that CB pointed to up thread. Interesting discussion—esp for those like myself who are new arrivals to following and learning(in depth) about all the different elements in this very dynamic and complex system that results in warming.

    Learning more re: the Grace Mission stood out: They’re quite proud of it—–can measure sea levels with accuracy of within in an inch…….2.54cm.

    Reply
  35. File under: WILDFIRE IGNITION SOURCE HOMO SAP MACHINA🙂

    ‘Smaller Lake County wildfires likely caused by equipment’
    pressdemocrat.com/news

    The two most recent wildfires in Lake County appear to have been ignited by equipment, Cal Fire has reported.

    Officials did not specify what kind of equipment sparked the Grade and Peterson fires because the findings are preliminary and the fire investigations are continuing.

    The findings support the department’s contention that most wildfires are caused by people.

    All kinds of equipment, from mowers and trimmers with metal blades, to anything with a hot motor, including cars, can spark fires under dry conditions, fire officials said.

    ###

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for posting this, DT……..I’m going to pass it on to my landlord who I’ve had to beg(really)—-and be thought of as an alarmist—–when I asked him not to mow the now-dessicated grass lawns of my rental.

      Reply
      • Ps Two of Santa Barbara’s most destructive wildfires were caused by power tools.
        Today, in PDX I saw a lacky mowing a swath of dried up lawn bit all resulted in a bunch of dust kicked up and mix with horrible engine pollution.

        – See EPA mower graphic = 40 cars worth of emission pollution. Everyone should factor in these ‘nonessential’ uses of fossil fuels when calling for emissions and extraction reductions. I have huge V-8 engines being used to clean our carpets, diesel engines to shred paper documents, or power compressors to steam clean (blast and scour) black soot and toxic ‘grime’ and black sooty bubble gum off of sidewalks, and medical buildings.

        EPA Statistics: Gas Mowers represent 5% of U.S. Air Pollution

        Each weekend, about 54 million Americans mow their lawns, using 800 million gallons of gas per year and producing tons of air pollutants. Garden equipment engines, which have had unregulated emissions until the late 1990’s, emit high levels of carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides, producing up to 5% of the nation’s air pollution and a good deal more in metropolitan areas.

        – { But worse, we have thousands of mostly Latinos and Latino immigrants (most have fled their homelands due to climate change, or US drugs-guns-violence industry, etc.
        A ruthless fossil fuel-power tool bunch are behind this destructive bit slavery. BTW, power tools damage all biota they come into contact with, as well as their phytotoxic emissions. All to make an are look ‘neat’ but very un-natural.)

        Reply
      • ” I have SEEN huge V-8″

        Reply
      • – AND WORST IF ALL: Power blowers that blow, blast and scour black soot and other toxic dust and debris that cover all sidewalks, asphalt streets and parking lots. All with columns of of extremely hot dry air moving at tornado and hurricane speed. Total destruction — and a suspended cloud of particulate which will just settle back on the landscape while the operator, the tool manufacturer, and the gas and oil interests cash their checks — and a child has an asthma attack due to breathing the dust.
        That is what confronts us. It’s pervasive — and is permitted, or encouraged, by the US Congress.

        Reply
      • See EPA mower graphic = 40 cars worth of emission pollution.

        Passing this info around too. I went electric when living back east because of the awful nausea I experience when around power tool fumes and subsequently learned how polluting they are. I also distributed masks last week to the Mexican workers that are working on a house remodel on my street. First time I made that effort. They eagerly accepted them. That their bosses profiting hugely don’t give them this bare minimum protection……oy.

        Reply
  36. – Alex Smith, and his village are fleeing the fire just across the border in BC.
    – This news piece focuses on timber harvesting and carbon credits though. Very interesting, it is.

    ‘Washington state wildfires pose added threat for tribes’
    LA Times

    The worst wildfire season in Washington state history could be particularly devastating to the people who have lived here between the Cascade Range and the Rocky Mountains since long before the region became part of the United States.

    Like other communities in the rural hills and valleys here, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation — 12 tribes forced onto a reservation in 1872 — are fighting to protect their lives, homes and businesses. Yet while most are battling to confine the blaze to the wildlands outside their communities, for the tribes, the vast, drought-stricken forests are almost equally precious — and not just because they regard the natural world as sacred.
    http://www.trbimg.com/img-55d73c09/turbine/la-na-washington-wildfires-pictures-20150820-013/750/750×422

    Reply
  37. – The Guardian and Reuters:

    Wildfires rage around Russia’s Lake Baikal – video
    – Caption:
    Wildfires destroy forest around the world’s oldest and deepest fresh-water lake, Lake Baikal in Russia. By Thursday over 25,000 hectares of forest had been affected by the fire, as planes drop water to try and combat the flames. Tourists have been evacuated from camping sites and hotels located in the areas affected by the fire hotels located in the areas affected by the fire.
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2015/aug/28/wildfires-rage-around-russias-lake-baikal-video

    Reply
  38. – File under: OREGON USA ABSURDITIES IN A TIME OF CLIMATE CHANGE🙂
    – First the headlines:

    ‘Oregon’s drought expands’

    ‘Drought likely adding to influx of Oregon residents ‘

    Reply
    • – Now the stories:

      Oregon’s drought expands

      Oregon’s drought has grown dramatically over the past week, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

      Sixty-seven percent of the state — now including the entire northeast corner — is in extreme drought, up from 50 percent last week. The rest of the state remains in severe drought.

      The federal tracking site has a six-level scale: no drought, abnormally dry, and moderate, severe, extreme and exceptional drought.

      It’s the fourth consecutive year of drought for Oregon and the West.

      Oregon’s snowpack last year was the lowest on record, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service said in June.

      Reply
    • ‘Drought likely adding to influx of Oregon residents’

      Nearly three-quarters of new Oregon residents come from western states, many of which are suffering from severe water shortages.

      Moving company United Van Lines even found that Oregon was the top moving destination in 2014.
      Study: Portland traffic 12th worst in U.S.
      We can look around and see the new faces, but how many people are actually moving to Oregon?

      In 2010, for example, only around 7,000 people moved to Oregon. By 2014 that number had jumped to 32,000 people.

      Reply
      • They’re moving to Oregon. But what happens now that Oregon’s starting to dry out and burn?

        Reply
      • – Right, Robert. It’s a terrible situation, and likely to get worse. Sad too that Oregon’s gov and chambers of commerce has open arms for anyone with money to spend.
        – Also:
        oregonlive.com/travel 0826

        Oregon shows big travel, tourism gains; 2015 on record pace

        Big increases in visitors to Oregon coastal state parks and a July with 91 percent lodging occupancy in central Portland make 2015 shape up as a record year for Oregon travel and tourism.

        And why shouldn’t it? Oregon’s population is approaching the 4 million milestone, the economy is comparatively strong, unemployment is down, gas is relatively cheap and people are traveling [BURNING CC FF “gas”].

        Reply
  39. Dan B

     /  August 28, 2015

    Here in Washington state wildfires have consumed 1200 square miles to date, about the size of Rhode Island. The forecast is for rain and high winds across the state. Winds will arrive ahead of the rain so it’s possible we’ll have rapid expansion of the fires.

    Statewide NPR has been covering the fires with a strong climate change message. This is a great relief since it’s been crickets to date. One of the stories was about a man who’s an expert on climate change. His home is in a beautiful area in northern Puget Sound a place called Chuckanut Drive. There is one road that winds along steep hillsides overlooking the sound. He’s deliberating moving or at least putting together an evacuation plan for his family. The announcer was disturbed by this story. I was shouting at the radio, “It’s realism not alarmism!” I’d love to get Peter Ward on NPR. Now there’s someone alarming (and a credible scientist).

    Reply
    • Thanks for the update, Dan. Have some rather insane videos of the fires there as well. It’s great to see that NPR has picked the ball up again (after having dropped it for so long).

      And you’re right. It is realism, not alarmism.

      Reply
  40. Colorado Bob

     /  August 28, 2015

    Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record ‘by a mile’, experts say

    It will mean that the three warmest years since records began in 1880 – 2015, 2014 and 2010 – happened in the past five years, and nine out of the 10 warmest years have all occurred in the 21st century. It demonstrates that global warming is getting worse and underlines the importance of the international meeting in Paris in December to discuss a new legally binding agreement on climate change.

    Link

    Reply
  41. – WINK WINK TIME:

    ” A Secret Service detail is rumored to be checking out surf conditions at Point Barrow, AK. in preparation for Obama’s upcoming tour of Alaska. ” – DT LANGE

    – END OF WINK:
    Greenpeace is anticipating several hundred people to rally during Obama’s visit to Alaska.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Greenpeace is anticipating several hundred people to rally during US President Barack Obama’s visit to Alaska to participate in an international conference on Arctic cooperation on August 31, Greenpeace spokesperson Travis Nichols told Sputnik.

    Read more: http://sputniknews.com/us/20150828/1026285464.html#ixzz3k9ZrvTDF

    Reply
  42. – SERIOUS STUFF NOW:

    – The Secret Service is going to BE very busy up there. No kidding. I keep thinking of 1963 Dallas, TX. No kidding.

    – Related and Revealing Obama Tours Alaska Headlines:

    ‘On Energy, Obama’s Got No Friends In Alaska
    Environmentalists don’t like permits for offshore drilling, while state officials want to see more.’
    #

    ‘How Obama Can Be the New Teddy Roosevelt

    President Obama is about to visit Alaska. The state is already suffering from climate change—the president needs to be an advocate for the Arctic.’

    #

    ‘President Obama in Alaska
    Obama’s Alaska plans include Native roundtable, Exit Glacier hike
    White House officials on Friday confirmed new details about President Barack Obama’s travels in Alaska, including glacier viewing and plans to interact with Alaskans to discuss climate change and economic issues.’

    #

    ‘Alaskans wonder if their state is exhibit or target for Obama’
    – [Nasty stuff here — AK casting themselves as victims of ‘regulation’. Watch out.]

    #

    ‘Native Alaskans tout Arctic energy development before president’s visit

    WASHINGTON — Native Alaskans are delivering a welcome message as President Barack Obama travels to the state, asking him to “continue to support Arctic energy development.”
    The Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, which represents some 12,000 Alaska natives and holds the rights to about 5 million North Slope acres, is running a 30-second television ad across the state stressing the importance of energy development in the state.’

    – That was from Fuel Fix.

    ‘About Fuel Fix

    FuelFix.com is your daily must-read source for news and analysis on the energy business. Anchored by business reporters at the Houston Chronicle and other Hearst Newspapers…’

    – [Hearst (WR), pre Fox ‘News’, was known for its ‘Yellow Journalism’. Link to come. note too that FuelFix is expressing ‘sympathy’ for ‘Native’ Alaskans.] Yellow journalism link to follow.

    OUT

    Reply
    • – Yellow journalism link:

      ‘The “Yellow Fever” of Journalism

      Yellow Journalism is a term first coined during the famous newspaper wars between William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer II.

      Pulitzer’s paper the New York World and Hearst’s New York Journal changed the content of newspapers adding more sensationalized stories and increasing the use of drawings and cartoons.’

      Many historians believe that Hearst in particular played a major role in the American involvement with Cuba during the Spanish-American War. Hearst saw the war as a prime opportunity to boost his newspaper sales. He was the first newspaper to station a team of reporters in Cuba to monitor the events happening there. Hearst published articles of brutality, cruelty and inadequate care to sway public opinion regarding America’s involvement in the war.

      [Sound famiiar?]

      OUT

      http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/spring04/vance/yellowjournalism.html

      Reply
  43. Abel Adamski

     /  August 29, 2015

    Just a minor addition from a Canadian Financial paper
    http://business.financialpost.com/news/agriculture/how-global-warming-is-impacting-the-canadian-economy

    Canada is maybe one of the last places that come to mind when you think about heat waves and drought. Think again.

    With 2015 on pace to break last year’s record for the planet’s hottest year, the snowy Great White North has learned it’s not immune to global warming.

    Western Canada, home to glaciers and source of some of the world’s longest rivers, has been hit by wildfires and dry spells from British Columbia’s Pacific Coast to the prairies in Saskatchewan. The thaw in the Rocky Mountains came too early, before enough snow accumulated to feed streams in the summer. Vancouver, known for its rainy weather, has had to restrict water use much like drought-struck California.

    “This is what Canada looks like without the cold,” John Pomeroy, a University of Saskatchewan researcher, said in an interview from Canmore, Alberta, where he studies water basins in the Rockies. “We’ve really built our western Canadian society around the water from the snowpack.”

    …………..

    In British Columbia’s case, misery may love company: Its neighbours to the south, Washington state and Idaho, as well as Oregon, Nevada and California, all are similarly suffering drought-induced water stress. Residents of Vancouver, more accustomed to regular rainfall than dryness, now face fines of $300 to $500 for illegal watering. They may need to get used to it in years to come if drought issues become the new norm even in Canada.

    “It’s surprising how many communities are unprepared for climate change,” said Kevin Hanna, a professor at the University of British Columbia. “We’re setting ourselves up for more interesting weather.”

    Reply
  44. Brian Dodge

     /  September 1, 2015

    “… methane blowholes.” My preferred term is clathrate gun bullet holes. Large caliber. Full automatic. Once pulled, the trigger locks ON.

    Reply
  45. Can I ask if you have come across any research into the effect thaw may have on diazotroph (free living N-fixing bacteria) populations and if /how that may influence the rate of CO2 evolution…. (15 years ago I read some of Lal et al (2000) on the contribution of CO2 from wet land draining. In that paper Lal estimated that 1/3rd of elevated atmospheric CO2 originated from the draining of wetlands (Europe and N.America). Those wetlands amounted to 10% of global peat reserves; the other 90% being the stepps.)… I have assumed that once the thaw came, that the rate of CO2 evolution would then be determined by the proliferation of diazotrophs …. (btw, great site very pleased to have stumbled across it)

    Reply
  1. Sea Level More Than a Foot Higher off US East Coast | post mortem analysis
  2. Top Scientist — Threat of Catastrophic Permafrost Thaw is “Real and Imminent” | robertscribbler | The Fall of the Human Empire
  3. Obama’s Arctic Hypocrisy | Halitics
  4. New Study — Risk of Significant Methane Release From East Siberian Arctic Shelf Still Growing | robertscribbler

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