New Extreme Climate to Hurl More Rain Bombs at Texas, Light off Another Record West Coast Heatwave

They call them rain bombs. A new breed of severe storm fueled by a record hot atmosphere. One capable of dumping 2-4 inches of rainfall an hour and generating voracious flash floods that can devour homes and cars in just minutes. And in southeast Texas, the rain bombs have been going off like gangbusters.

In this week’s most recent iteration of flaring, climate change induced, storms, a region north of Houston and south of Dallas saw flood after flood after flood. Now, hundreds of people have been forced to abandon inundated homes, thousands of cars have been submerged, and seven people are dead. Rainfall totals for the region over the past seven days have averaged between 7 and 10 inches. But local amounts in the most intense bombification zones have come in at 16, 19, and even as high as 30 inches in Washington County. All time record rainfall totals that might be associated with a powerful hurricane. Floods that would typically happen only once every 500 years. But in the new moisture-laden atmosphere of a record warm world, a garden variety thunderstorm now has enough atmospheric oomph to frequently set off what were once multi-century floods.

Rain bombs over Texas 3

(Rain bombs again explode over Texas in a huge complex of storms on Tuesday afternoon in this GOES enhanced satellite shot. It’s all part of the same stormy weather pattern — associated with a trough and an upper level low — that over the past five days produced another round of record flooding over Texas. And it’s expected to remain in place through the end of this week. With more severe storms firing and 4-8 inches of additional rainfall on the way for some sections of soggy Texas, it appears that still more extreme flooding is likely. Image source: NOAA.)

It’s under these new, freakish, conditions that the Brazos River is today expected to crest at 53.5 feet — its highest level ever recorded. And this crest is predicted to push a flood of 8-9 feet into neighboring communities. Extreme flooding that local officials say Texans are not at all prepared for. In total, more than 40,000 people have been urged to evacuate. But with the worst flooding still on the way, the situation is still very fluid.

In isolation, the current Texas floods would be an extreme record disaster worthy of the weather history books. But it is just one of three such severe rainfall events to strike southeastern Texas since April. And, unfortunately, more storms are on the way as a strong ridge of high pressure out west is expected to generate another deep Central US trough and related rain bomb inducing storm pattern over the next five days.

West Coast Turns up the Heat

As parts of Texas face never-before-seen flooding, the US West Coast is staring down the gullet of an extraordinary surge of heat. A gigantic blob of hot ocean water off that region of the world is feeding the growth of a powerful atmospheric wave. And once the ridge of this wave really starts to swell northward on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, record hot temperatures are bound to explode all over the US West Coast and on up into Canada.

image

(Sea surface temperature anomalies on May 31, 2016. Extremely hot sea surface temperatures over a vast area stretching from the Equator to Alaska and all along the US West Coast enhance the development of strong ridges in the Jet Stream that have tended to spur extreme heatwaves over the past few years. Ocean temperatures over this zone now range between 1 and 6 C above normal late 20th Century values. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

In Fresno, the mercury is expected to rocket to 108 degrees Fahrenheit by Saturday — or about 18 degrees above normal for early June. Sacramento is expected to see 106 F readings at the same time — which is around 20 degrees above average for that Central California location. Further north, temperatures are also expected to skyrocket with Portland predicted to strike near 98 F on Sunday and Spokane calling for 96 F. In fire-ravaged Fort McMurray, the mercury is expected to top out at 85 F on the same day.

This expansive bulge of heat is expected to cover pretty much all of Western North American. Rising from the Desert Southwest, it is predicted to run through Oregon and Washington, rise up through Canada, and touch even the shores of the rapidly thawing Arctic Ocean.

Conditions in the Context of Human Caused Climate Change

The broader conditions fueling both record rain and potential record high temperatures over the North American West are the same. A record hot global atmosphere is one that is burdened with more heat and moisture than ever before. One that will inevitably produce more extreme rainfall and heatwaves than we are used to.

Locally, additional features related to a fossil fuel based warming of the world further contribute to the problem. Over the Northwestern Pacific, sea surface temperatures ranging from 1-6 degrees Celsius above average (2 to 10 F) generate a tendency for heatwaves and strong high pressure formation. These systems have often taken in all of the US West even as they’ve extended on up into Canada and Alaska. Adding to the problem is sea ice loss over the Arctic Ocean — which as of today is seeing the lowest ice extent ever recorded for this time of year. This sea ice loss tends to aid in Arctic warming which weakens the Jet Stream, which in turn tends to meander — creating these exaggerated trough and ridge patterns that have been associated with so much extreme weather recently.

image

(Earth Nullschool map of Jet Stream wind pattern predicted for early June 5, 2016. A powerful ridge expected to form over the US West Coast is predicted to drive record heatwave conditions there by this weekend even as a facing trough will again spike the risk for extreme rainfall events over Southeastern Texas. This Jet Stream feature and related severe weather conditions — ranging from severe heat to floods — is now influenced by numerous effects currently emerging as human-forced climate change worsens. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

Large, hot ridges forming in one region tend to generate deep, stormy troughs in another. And the ridge over the US West has resulted in the formation of a related trough and unsettled weather pattern over the South-Central US centering on Southeast Texas. This trough has pulled cold, unstable air into the upper levels of the atmosphere over Texas even as it fed upon an uncanny volume of moisture streaming in off the abnormally hot waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific Ocean.

The results? Well, we’ve already experienced them in the form of record floods for Texas, periods of record heat for the Western US, and a never-before-seen May wildfire outbreak in Alberta, Canada. This week, the overall pattern is again expected to ramp into high gear — which is likely to produce possibly never-before seen June heat out west and more extreme flooding for Texas.

Links:

Texas Floods Force Evacuations

Texas Floods: More Rain is Coming

Death Toll Rises to Seven in Texas Floods

Hundreds of Homes Destroyed in Texas Floods

Observed Precipitation NOAA

NOAA/National Hurricane Center

Weather.com Local Forecasts

US Climate Data

Earth Nullschool

 

Dishonest Donald Denies The Ongoing California Drought as Lake Mead Hits New All-Time Record Low

We now find that under the current amount of warming, the probability of a severe drought year has approximately doubled. — Park Williams, assistant research professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute

There is no California Drought. — Donald Trump

The drought is not over. — Association of California Water Agencies

*****

An understanding of basic reality. Accepting that reality as true. And responding to that reality in a mature, adult manner. One would think that these qualities would serve as the given assumed prerequisites necessary for someone to serve as President of the United States. But in these most basic of qualifications for sanity, honesty and much less for serving as any kind of leader of worth and effectiveness, Donald Trump has demonstrated that he is both sorely and entirely lacking.

For contrary to the lack-reality talk-talk of the republican party’s most recent great embarrassment, an estimated 34 million of California’s 38.8 million population still suffered under drought conditions as of Thursday last week. This figure, provided by the US Drought Monitor, marked the most recent extension of a drought that has lasted since 2013 in a state that in the entire period of 2007 through 2016 has only experienced two drought-free years. One year of which — 2015 — was the driest in all of the state’s long history. A set of facts that anyone concerned with the health of this country, much less someone running for the position of the highest office in the land, should be intimately familiar with.

California Drought

(According to the US Drought Monitor, 86 percent of California is now suffering under drought conditions. Conditions that have dominated the state since 2013 and that during 2015 inflicted the most intensely dry conditions California has ever experienced. Image source: US Drought Monitor.)

Climate change is the primary driver of the extreme southwestern drying which has had such a severe impact on California. As the Arctic has warmed, the Jet Stream has shifted northward taking with it a procession of moisture-bearing weather systems. The result is that the probability of extreme drought in the region has at least doubled when compared to the middle 20th Century.

Though strong El Ninos typically bring increased levels of rainfall to California, this year’s powerful event failed to provide even normal rainfall over more than half of the state. This failure of rains during a year when above average precipitation would be expected is but one more blow in a long, long series. But worse is likely still to come as a La Nina — a condition traditionally associated with dry weather in California — is on the way. And further on down the pipe, more warming due to the human burning of fossil fuels that Trump supports means that drought conditions will only continue to intensify unless a miraculous effort is somehow undertaken. Under these stark conditions, many observers are now wondering if the California drought will ever come to an end.

Lake Mead Hits New Record Low

Upstream along the Colorado River, there’s still more to be concerned about. For a waterway that 25 million people depend upon is now entering its 16th year of drought. The river feeds one of the US’s largest reservoirs — Lake Mead. But the giant, man-made lake keeps hitting record low levels year after year. A great white ring shows the previous high water mark from decades past over the now greatly shrunken reserve. Water officials are today relegated to making increasingly dubious assurances that the reservoir will be able to meet needs next year (2017) or maybe the following. But the future on into the early 2020s is ever less certain.

Lake Mead shrinkage

(NASA Earth Observatory shows the extraordinary shrinkage of Lake Mead from 2000 through 2015. Also note the very rapid growth of water-hungry Las Vegas directly to the west of the imperiled reservoir. Image source: Earth Observatory.)

As of last week, Lake Mead’s water levels had fallen below 1074 feet above sea level. This represents just 37 percent of the reservoir’s capacity. If levels remain below 1075 feet through to January 1, a number of required water restrictions will ripple through the Colorado River system forcing states like Arizona, Nevada and California to endure cutbacks. It’s a situation that may not happen this year, but one that grows more and more likely each following year as the Colorado River continues to dry out.

In total, more than 25 million people depend upon Lake Mead’s water. And the drought along the Colorado River that is shrinking the lake combines with endemic drying in California to create a context of ongoing and worsening water resource stress over the US Southwest. A drying driven on by the human-forced warming of our world and by the very fossil fuel burning that Trump is preparing to double down on should he be elected President.

It’s a worsening reality that will call for hard choices and bold efforts if the communities of this threatened US region are to survive and prosper. A set of choices requiring a firm grasp of the tough new realities now settling in and a willingness to chose renewable energy systems that will not worsen water stress and that will not continue to enflame an already tough climate situation.

But the presumptive leader of the republican party brazenly spouts ignorance of even a simpleton’s understanding of the powerful and dangerous climate forces now at work. A bald lack of basic knowledge that would put tens of millions throughout the US Southwest at risk due to what is sure to be a devastating resource mismanagement, an ill-timed return to dangerous fuels, and an utter lack of climate disaster preparedness should Trump be elected. A serious deficiency in the kinds of urgently needed national leadership skills in the current day coupled with a denial of simple realities that should cause pretty much everyone to question whether the man possesses even the most rudimentary qualifications for serving as President of the United States.

Links:

United States Drought Monitor

Lake Mead Drops to Record Low

Contribution of Anthropogenic Warming to California Drought

Watch Lake Mead Dramatically Shrink

Association of California Water Agencies

Hat Tip to Genomik

Hat Tip to DT Lange

Fire in the Sky — More Than 330,000 Lightning Strikes Hit Europe in Just Eight Hours

“Whatever happened to normal weather? Earth has always experienced epic storms, debilitating drought, and biblical floods. But lately it seems the treadmill of disruptive weather has been set to fast-forward.”Paul Douglas.

*****

A cold, unstable air mass aloft. A record atmospheric moisture load due to human-caused climate change. Add in 80 degree or warmer surface temperatures and these three ingredients can spark some seriously epic thunderstorms. Such was the case across Europe today as towering thunderheads exploded into the skies, raining more than 330,000 bolts of lightning down upon the continent.

Lightning Strikes Europe

(Extreme lightning strikes in excess of 330,000 impacts were recorded over the course of 8 hours on Friday. The strikes resulted in numerous extreme weather related casualty events across Europe. Image source: Simon Cardy.)

The blasts of nature’s fury hammered a wide region stretching from Portugal through France and the UK, into the Alps, Italy, Germany and Denmark and on through Southwestern Poland. A rash that has injured dozens across Europe resulting in at least one death.

In Poland, a mountain hiker lost his life to one strike. Three more people were injured by lightning in the same region. A nearby flash flood related to the storms also resulted in a drowning.

In Germany, a bolt from the blue sky — likely coming from a towering storm in the area — injured 30 people at a soccer field. Three were listed as seriously injured including the referee who had to be revived in the helicopter en-route to the hospital.

In Paris, 8 children and 3 adults were struck by lightning in the midst of a birthday celebration at a park in northwest Paris. As the thunderstorm rolled in, children sheltered under a nearby tree whose higher branches attracted a lightning strike. According to a report from The Guardian, one child from this group remained in serious condition.

Conditions in Context — Global Warming Expected to Increase Lightning Strikes

A widespread storm outbreak of this kind generating such a high number of lightning strikes and related casualties in a single day is not a normal event for the European Continent. That said, this type of event is likely to become more frequent due to a greenhouse gas related warming of our world.

Lightning Strikes to Increase with Global Warming

(Lightning strikes are expected to increase as a result of global warming according to a 2014 study in Science.)

Added atmospheric moisture content — which increases by about 7 to 8 percent per degree Celsius of global temperature rise — generates more storm clouds with higher tops. These clouds, in turn, produce an increase in the number of overall lightning strikes. According to a Science study published during 2014, lightning strikes are expected to increase by 50 percent in the United States alone due to the human-forced warming of our world. Europe, which sits between numerous unstable air masses — the Arctic Ocean air mass to the north, the Greenland air mass to the northwest, and the rapidly changing North Atlantic air mass — is likely to see ramping climate instability even as overall atmospheric moisture levels and storm-generating potentials increase.

Links:

Lightning Strikes Kill One Injure Dozens Across Europe

Lightning Strikes Projected to Increase Due to Global Warming

Simon Cardy’s Twitter Feed

Meteorologists are Seeing Global Warming’s Effect on Weather

Hat tip to Spike

Hat tip to DT Lange

 

Multi-Day ‘Siege of Storms’ Follows Exxon Shareholder Meeting

A multi-day siege of severe thunderstorms morphed into a major flash flood event in parts of Texas, Kansas, and other states late Thursday into Friday, and more severe weather is expected into Friday night.Weather Underground.

*****

It was a stifling hot and humid day that set the scene for the Exxon shareholder meeting this week. There, in Dallas, Texas on Wednesday, oil company CEO Rex Tillerson found himself besieged by environmentalists enraged over his company’s decades-long campaign to misinform the public on climate change and by shareholders concerned about the company’s future prospects. But what the climate change denying oil company CEO, and even NOAA weather forecasters, didn’t know was that an extreme rainfall event worsened by the very smoke and fumes emitted by Exxon was starting to gather over Southeast Texas — not far from where the shareholder proceedings were taking place.

Protestors Ice Sculpture Exxon Knew

(Protesters urge stockholders to dump Exxon in a push for accountability over Exxon’s deceptive language and media campaigns related to emissions-based climate change. Image source: Exxon Facing Heat Over Climate Change.)

At the meeting, Rex Tillerson, set to retire in 2017, spewed out his usual pro-fossil-fuel rhetoric — defending the myth that oil represents the inevitable mainstay of global energy and concocting various straw-man arguments imagining oil protesters filling up cars with gasoline or flying jet airplanes to join in an array of embittered protests surrounding this week’s shareholder meeting. Rallying the board of directors, Tillerson managed to deflect numerous shareholder attempts to positively modify Exxon’s behavior with regards to fossil fuel emissions and responses to climate change. Outside the meeting, protestors called for keeping oil reserves in the ground, urged Exxon to transition to a non-fossil fuel based energy company and acknowledge and prepare for climate change, or urged Exxon investors to dump stock holdings in response to the company’s decades-long-effort to stifle effective climate action.

Outside the meeting, a 13 foot long ice statue spelling out the words — #ExxonKnew — rapidly melted in the sweltering heat of an atmosphere roiled by the powerful climate-altering forces fossil fuel entities like Exxon had already unleashed upon the airs of our world.

‘Siege of Storms’ Batters Texas

By Thursday, the day after Exxon’s shareholder meeting, an expansive trough had extended down from Canada and over Texas. Exploiting this hole in an increasingly weakened Jet Stream cool, Arctic airs plunged south. Crossing the Great Plains into Texas, this unstable atmospheric mass came directly into confrontation with a super-heated, moist flow rising off the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific Ocean.

Texas Rain Event

(Very heavy storms firing off over Southeastern Texas have dumped record amounts of rainfall over portions of the state and set off a flash flood emergency. Image source: NOAA.)

Both the big Jet Stream dip and the extreme moisture content in the airs over Texas were not normal. Both were new features enabled by a human-forced (Exxon-forced) warming of the world. For with global temperatures early this year spiking to 1.4 C above 1880s values, the planetary atmosphere is now enabled to contain about a ten percent higher moisture load than during the late 19th Century. It’s a weird new atmosphere that is now capable of producing storms with previously unimaginable heights of 70,000 feet over temperate Latitudes. And as the current El Nino fades and a temporary 0.2 to 0.4 C dip in global temperatures takes place in the cyclical transition to La Nina, some of that added, unprecedented excess of atmospheric moisture is bound to fall out in the form of never-before-seen rainfall events.

The storms resulting from what can best be described as a climate mangled by fossil fuel emissions produced rainfall of an extreme, record-shattering intensity in a region between Houston, Waco, and Austin over Thursday and on into Friday. In Brenham, 65 miles to the northwest of Houston, the 24 hour record for rainfall was shattered as 17 inches inundated local roads and communities. According to Weather Underground reports, one weather observer recorded 19.14 inches of rain after having to empty an overflowing gauge. In Bastrop County, emergency crews were overwhelmed by calls for water rescues as vehicles were rapidly submerged in the heavy flood. Now, at least one person is presumed dead and five people are missing in yet one more tragic storm and flood event sparking off in a record warm world.

Houston Severe Storms

(National Weather Service Radar shows severe storms and extreme rainfall sweeping into the Houston region at 4:30 PM EST. Widespread reports of severe flooding have prompted emergency officials to urge residents to stay home and avoid life-threatening severe weather conditions. Image source: National Weather Service Doppler Radar.)

Both satellite and weather radar show massive storms continuing to fire over this region. And GFS model forecasts indicate a strong likelihood for continued severe thunderstorm formation over Texas on into both Saturday and Sunday even as heavy rainfall propagates eastward over the Mississippi River Valley and Southeastern US. So this extreme event — a ‘multi-day siege of storms’ enabled by climate change — isn’t over by a long shot. A heavy punch of incessant flooding that is already prompting warnings of rivers over-topping banks all throughout and downstream of the affected region.

Unpredictable Severe Storms — Another Black Irony of Climate Change Denial

This most recent extreme rainfall event’s occurrence immediately following Exxon’s shareholder meeting is yet one more odd and ironic coincidence of human-caused climate change. A black irony similar to that of the Fort McMurray fires.

But perhaps even more disturbing than its coinciding with the Exxon shareholder meeting was the storm’s unpredictable nature. As noted above, a basic understanding of atmospheric physics in a warming world points toward an increasing risk of extreme rainfall events as El Nino transitions to La Nina. This risk is particularly severe in the new elongated trough patterns that have tended to form due to polar amplification and sea ice loss in the Arctic. However, current weather forecasting appears to be completely unaware of or unwilling to report on this new risk.

NOAA precipitation forecast dramatically undershot

(The NOAA precipitation forecast issued on May 25 just before Thursday and Friday’s extreme rainfall event failed to capture any indication that a 17-19 + inch rainfall event was on the way. An indicator that warming related extreme rainfall potentials may not be fully plugged in to current forecast models. Image source: NOAA.)

To this point — NOAA weather forecasts earlier this week had identified some risk of severe rainfall over this region. But the forecasts had only predicted around 3 inches of rainfall in the most heavily affected areas. The forecast therefore undershot Thursday rainfall intensity by 14-16 inches. And this makes it look like the current weather models are having some serious difficultly keeping up with the human-forced atmospheric changes that are now fully in swing. Combine this with current weather media’s near complete blindness (there are noted exceptions — Weather Underground included) to factors related to human-caused climate change and we have what could best be described as a hazardous degree of under-reporting on climate related risk factors. And the result is a great underutilization of a vast array of weather sensors and scientific talent that would be capable of providing helpful and life-saving information if only they were enabled to. But media-wide, we’re still living and acting as if climate change doesn’t affect the weather.

As a result, pretty much everyone — drivers, emergency responders, government officials, weather forecasters — were caught off-guard by this particular storm system’s severity and the numerous flash floods that resulted. So it’s pretty clear that the language of denial that started in places like the board-rooms at Exxon has become pretty much all-pervasive. A situation that will need to change if we’re going to effectively respond to the ever-more-severe events that are surely coming down the pipe.

Links:

Smoke and Fumes

Exxon Mobile CEO Defends Emissions of Smoke and Fumes

Divest From Deception

Exxon Facing Heat Over Climate Change

NOAA

National Weather Service Doppler Radar

Scientific Hat tip to Dr. Jeff Masters at Weather Underground

Hat tip to Cate

Hat tip to Ryan in New England

Hat tip to Greg

Hat tip to DT Lange

Atlantic Tropical Storm Bonnie May Become Second 2016 Cyclone to Form Before Hurricane Season Start

Ocean temperatures off the East Coast of the US are extraordinarily warm for this time of year. A region of water in the Gulf Stream 100 miles off Virginia Beach now features sea surface temperatures of 81 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees (F) above average. To the south and east, in a stormy zone between Bermuda and the Bahamas, temperatures are around 77 degrees Fahrenheit or 4 degrees above average. Readings more typical of July and not at all usual for May in this region of the world ocean.

image

(Extremely warm sea surface temperatures ranging from 75 to 82 Fahrenheit off the US East Coast contain enough heat potential energy to support tropical storm and hurricane development during late May. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

Ocean heat is a primary driver of tropical cyclone formation. And record warm 2016 land and ocean surfaces contributed to the January formation of hurricane Alex in the Northeastern Atlantic this year. An unprecedented January-forming hurricane that organized five months before the typical start of hurricane season on June 1.  Now, a low pressure center swirling between the Bahamas and Bermuda on Thursday appears to be developing tropical or subtropical characteristics in what may become Bonnie — the second named tropical cyclone of 2016 — over the next few days.

Weather statements from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) at 2:55 PM Eastern Standard Time noted that conditions would become more favorable for tropical cyclone development over the next 24-48 hours. And the Center predicted that a tropical cyclone was 60 percent likely to form over the next two days and 70 percent likely to form over the coming five. The NHC also warned that all coastal interests from Georgia to North Carolina should monitor the progress of this developing low.

Bonnie Begins to Organize

(An area of disturbed weather in the lower right hand portion of this image may form into tropical storm Bonnie over the next two to five days. Image source: The National Hurricane Center.)

Current satellite imagery indicates high, cold cloud tops associated with thunderstorm formation north of the low’s center of circulation. Forecast models indicate a west-northwest storm track that ultimately brings the low on shore near the North Carolina – South Carolina border on early Sunday morning. Models then predict that the low will stall out, hovering over the coastal Carolinas for the next 3-4 days.

If Bonnie does reach tropical storm strength it will only be the fifth time two tropical storm or hurricane strength cyclones have ever formed before June 1 since record keeping began in 1794. It’s also worth noting that the January formation of Hurricane Alex already makes the 2016 season one for the record books. Increasing ocean surface temperatures across almost all basins due to a fossil-fuel emissions based warming of the world is likely to result in a higher likelihood of such out-of-season storms all while increasing the potential maximum strength of the strongest storms. And recent events in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans seem to bear out these predicted trends.

Links:

The National Hurricane Center

Earth Nullschool

Alex Now an Unprecedented Atlantic Hurricane in January

List of Off-Season Atlantic Hurricanes

Tottering Totten and the Coming Multi-Meter Sea Level Rise

A new scientific study has found that the Totten Glacier is fundamentally unstable and could significantly contribute to a possible multi-meter sea level rise this Century under mid-range and worst case warming scenarios.

*****

408 Parts per million CO2. 490 parts per million CO2e. This is the amount of heat-trapping CO2 and total CO2 equivalent for all heat-trapping gasses now in the Earth’s atmosphere. Two measures representing numerous grave potential consequences.

We’re Locking in 120-190 Feet of Sea Level Rise Long Term

Looking at the first number — 408 parts per million CO2 — we find that the last time global levels of this potent heat-trapping gas were so high was during the Middle Miocene Climate Optimum of 15-17 million years ago. During this time, the Greenland Ice Sheet did not exist. East Antarctic glacial ice was similarly scarce. And the towering glaciers of West Antarctica were greatly reduced. Overall, global sea levels were 120 to 190 feet higher than they are today. Meanwhile, atmospheric temperatures were between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius hotter than those experienced during the late 19th Century.

Antarctica Below Sea Level

(Large sections of Antarctica rest below sea level. A physical feature that renders substantial portions of Antarctica’s glaciers very vulnerable to rising ocean temperatures. Since the latent heat content of water is substantially higher than that of air, even comparatively small ocean temperature increases can cause significant melt in sea-facing glaciers and in below sea level glacial basins. Image source: Potential Antarctic Ice Sheet Retreat Driven by Hydrofracturing and Ice Cliff Failure.)

Hitting the 408 ppm CO2 threshold this year catapults the current push for global climate transitions outside of the Pliocene context of 3 to 5 million years ago (topping out at 405 parts per million CO2) and places it in the bottom to mid-range of the Middle Miocene context (300 to 500 parts per million CO2). The 490 ppm CO2e number — due to added atmospheric heating contributions from human-emitted gasses like methane, chlorofluorocarbons, NOx compounds, and others — is enough to catapult our current climate context into the upper Middle Miocene range.

If global greenhouse gasses were to stabilize in this range long-term (for a period of hundreds of years), we would expect the Earth’s climate and ocean states to become more and more like those experienced 15-17 million years ago. Unfortunately, atmospheric concentrations of heat trapping gasses are still rapidly rising due to an increasingly dangerous emission coming from global fossil fuel burning. In addition, risks are rising that the Earth System will begin to contribute its own substantial amounts of carbon — possibly enough to raise the CO2e number by around 50 to 150 ppm over the next few centuries. Two contributions — one we control and another we do not — that risk swiftly pushing the global climate context into a 550 to 650 ppm CO2e range that is enough to eventually melt all the glacial ice on the planet.

Glacial Inertia vs Lightning Rates of Warming

It’s a tough climate state. A context that many scientists are still having difficulty coming to grips with. First, the global glacier research community is still looking at the world’s potential future ice melt in Pliocene and Eemian contexts. This makes some sense given the fact that current atmospheric warming in the range of 0.9 to 1.3 C above 1880s values is more in line with those two climate epochs (the Eemian saw seas 10-20 feet higher than today and the Pliocene saw seas at 25-75 feet higher). But it doesn’t take into account the underlying heat forcing and the likely climate end-state.

Second, we don’t really have a good grasp on how fast or slow glaciers will respond to the added heat we’re putting into the Earth System. We do know that at the end of the last ice age, melting glaciers contributed as much as 10 feet of sea level rise per Century. But this was during a time of comparatively slow global temperature increase at the rate of about 0.05 C per Century — not the current rate in the range of 1.5 to 2 C per Century, which is 30 to 40 times faster.

10 Feet of Sea Level Rise South Florida

(What 10 feet of sea level rise would do to South Florida. Given the increasing vulnerability of glaciers around the world to human-forced warming, there’s a rising risk that seas could rise by 10 feet before the end of this Century. Image source: Climate Central.)

In early studies, much weight has been given to glacial inertia. And older climate models did not include dynamic ice sheet vulnerabilities — like high latent-heat ocean water coming into contact with the submerged faces of sea-fronting glaciers, the ability of surface melt water to break up glaciers by pooling into cracks and forcing them apart (hydrofracturing), or the innate rigidity and frailty of steep ice cliffs which render them susceptible to rapid toppling. But now, new studies are starting to take these physical melt-amplifying processes into account and the emerging picture is one in which glacial melt and sea level rise may end up coming on at rates far more rapid than previously feared.

Overall, when taking a look at these newly realized ice-sheet weaknesses, it’s worth noting that the total heat forcing impacting the world’s ocean, air, and glacial systems is now rising into a range that is much more in line with Middle Miocene values. And that global temperatures are now increasing at a lightning rate that appears to be unprecedented in at least the past 60 million years.

Tottering Totten

It’s in this dynamic, rapidly changing, and arguably quite dangerous climate context that new revelations about the stability of one of East Antarctica’s largest glaciers have begun to emerge. In size, the Totten Glacier is immense — covering an area the size of California in mountains of ice stretching as high as two and a half miles. If all of Totten were to melt, it would be enough to raise seas by around 11 to 13 feet — or about as much as if half of the entire Greenland Ice Sheet went down.

Edge of the Totten Glacier

(The Totten Glacier, at lower edge of frame, faces a warming Southern Ocean. How rapidly this great mass of ice melts will, along with the destabilization of numerous other glaciers around the world due to a human-forced warming, determine the fates of numerous coastal cities and island nations during this Century and on into the future. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

Last year, a study found that warm, deep circumpolar water was beginning to approach ice faces of the Totten Glacier plunging 1 mile below the surface of the Southern Ocean. The study observed a rapid thinning that appeared to have been driven by this new influx of warmer ocean water near the glacier base:

Totten Glacier… has the largest thinning rate in East Antarctica. Thinning may be driven by enhanced basal meltingWarm modified Circumpolar Deep Water, which has been linked to glacier retreat in West Antarctica, has been observed in summer and winter on the nearby continental shelf beneath 400 to 500 m of cool Antarctic Surface Water…We identify entrances to the ice-shelf cavity below depths of 400 to 500 m that could allow intrusions of warm water if the vertical structure of inflow is similar to nearby observations. Radar sounding reveals a previously unknown inland trough that connects the main ice-shelf cavity to the ocean. If thinning trends continue, a larger water body over the trough could potentially allow more warm water into the cavity, which may, eventually, lead to destabilization of the low-lying region between Totten Glacier and the similarly deep glacier flowing into the Reynolds Trough (emphasis added).

Observed increasing melt rates for such a huge slab of ice in Eastern Antarctica was generally seen as a pretty big deal among glacial scientists and a flurry of additional research soon followed. By last week, a model study had found that Totten alone could produce nearly a meter of sea level rise before the end of this Century if global warming forces ocean waters to heat up by 2 C or more near the Totten Glacier. The study also found that 5 C worth of local ocean warming would be enough to force nearly 3 meters worth of sea level rise from this single large glacier over a relatively short time-frame.

Donald D. Blankenship, lead principal investigator for the new ICECAP study noted:

“Totten Glacier’s catchment is covered by nearly 2½ miles of ice, filling a California-sized sub-ice basin that reaches depths of over one mile below sea level. This study shows that this system could have a large impact on sea level in a short period of time.”

Like many large glaciers around the world, a huge portion of Totten’s ice sits below sea level. This feature makes the glacier very vulnerable to ocean warming. Water carries far more latent heat than air and just a slight rise in local ocean water temperature can contribute to rapid ice loss. Totten itself rests in three large below sea level basins. And study authors found that 2 C to 5 C warming of local ocean waters with somewhat greater local air temperature increases was capable of flooding these basins in stages — forcing Totten’s glacial ice to flow out into the Southern Ocean and provide significant contributions to sea level rise.

Unfortunately, Totten is just one of many large glacial systems that are now destabilizing across Antarctica. And researchers are now beginning to identify significant potential sea level rise contributions from Antarctica alone (ranging from two feet to nearly two meters) before the end of this Century. In New Scientist, during March, Antarctic researcher Rob Deconto notes:

“Today we’re measuring global sea level rise in millimetres per year. We’re talking about the potential for centimetres per year just from [ice loss in] Antarctica.”

Centimeters per year sea level rise is about ten times faster than current rates and implies 100 year increases — once it gets going — in the range of 2 to 3 meters. Such increased melt does not include Greenland’s own potential sea level rise contribution. Nor does it include sea level rise from other glacial melt and ocean thermal expansion. As such, it appears that multi-meter sea level rise is becoming a more and more distinct possibility this Century. Furthermore, the paleoclimate context is now pointing toward catastrophic levels of overall melt and sea level rise if global greenhouse gasses aren’t somehow stabilized and then swiftly reduced.

Links:

Repeated Large-Scale Retreat and Advance of Totten Glacier Indicated by Inland Bed Erosion

The Totten Glacier

The Human-Warmed Southern Ocean Threatens Major Melt for East Antarctica

Fundamentally Unstable — Scientists Confirm Their Fears About East Antarctica’s Biggest Glacier

Potential Antarctic Ice Sheet Retreat Driven by Hydrofracturing and Ice Cliff Failure

Unstable East Antarctic Glacier Has Contributed to Sea Level Rise in the Past

Sea Levels Set to Rise Far More Rapidly Than Expected

Unexpected Antarctic Melt Could Trigger 2 Meter Sea Level Rise

Entering the Middle Miocene

The Middle Miocene

LANCE MODIS

Wet Bulb Near 35 C — Heatwave Mass Casualties Strike India Amidst Never-Before-Seen High Temperatures

Never-before-seen high temperatures and high humidity are resulting in thousands of heat injuries and hundreds of heat deaths across India. In some places, wet bulb readings appear to be approaching 35 C — a level of latent heat never endured by humans before fossil fuel burning forced global temperatures to rapidly warm. A reading widely-recognized as the limit of human physical endurance and one whose more frequent excession would commit the human race to enduring an increasing number of episodes of killing heat. A boundary that scientists like Dr. James Hansen warned would be exceeded if a human-forced warming of the world was not halted.

*****

And it is in this newly dangerous climate context that temperatures near 125 degrees Fahrenheit settled in over India’s border region with Pakistan yesterday. A blistering wave of crippling heat hitting never-before-seen readings over that highly-populated nation. In Phalodi, India, the mercury rocketed to 123.8 degrees Fahrenheit (51 degrees Celsius). This reading exceeded India’s previous all-time record high for any location which stood at 123.1 degrees Fahrenheit (50.6 degrees Celsius) set on May 25, 1886. Across the border in Pakistan, temperatures crossed “critical” thresholds this week, hitting 124.7 degrees Fahrenheit (51.5 degrees Celsius) Thursday in the city of Jacobabad as officials in that state issued health warnings to the public.

image

(Temperatures rocketed to 123-125 F along India’s border with Pakistan on Thursday. These are the hottest temperatures ever recorded for this region of the world. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

Closer to the coast, temperatures rose as high as 107 degrees Fahrenheit (42 C). In the city of Surat, hospitals were strained by an influx of people suffering from heat injuries. People afflicted with giddiness, unconsciousness, dehydration, a bloody nose, abdominal pain, chest pain, and other heat related injuries flooded local health care facilities with emergency calls. As of Thursday, SMIMER hospital had reported 1,226 calls related to heat casualties since the start of May.

Local Surat weather services reported periods when temperatures spiked to 38-42 C and humidity — supplied by moisture flooding off the heating Arabian Sea — remained near 65 percent. These are wet bulb readings in the range of 32 to 34.4 C — a combination of heat and humidity that is very dangerous to anyone exposed for even brief periods.

340 Heat Deaths in Dehli

Across India, the story of heat casualties was much the same. Though no official national estimate of heat related injuries or deaths has yet been given, the current heatwave and related drought is far worse than that experienced during 2015 when 2500 people lost their lives in the excessive heat. But it’s reasonable to assume that heat injuries across India now number in the tens of thousands with tragic heat deaths likely now numbering in the hundreds to thousands.

In the capital city of Delhi, reports were coming in that the homeless population — swelled by farmers who lost their livelihoods due to a crippling three-year-drought — was suffering hundreds of heat-related deaths. As of Thursday, official estimates identified 340 total heat deaths among this increasingly vulnerable population.

Severe Drought and Record Heat — Conditions Consistent with Human-Caused Climate Change

Heat building into extreme record ranges and mounting heat casualties come as India suffers what is likely its worst drought on record. Last month, international water monitors identified 330 million people suffering from water shortages across India. As a result, the government has been forced to resort to extreme measures — posting guards at dwindling reservoirs, sending water trains to provide people in hard-hit regions with a life-saving ration of water, and planning to divert water from the greatly shrunken Ganges to aid parched regions.

Extreme heat of this kind, wet bulb temperatures approaching 35 C, heatwave mass casualties, and a never-before-seen drought are all conditions related to a human-forced warming of the globe. Though El Nino, during the 20th Century, brought with it a cyclical heat, a potential monsoonal weakening, and an increased risk of drought, the severity of the crisis now afflicting India is too great to be pinned on El Nino alone. India has now suffered three years of delayed monsoons — delays which began before the current El Nino took hold. Water levels in the Himalayas are low due to a decadal warming that has forced snow packs to retreat which has, in its turn, left India’s rivers increasingly vulnerable to drying. And global temperatures hitting in the range of 1.3 C above 1880s levels are absolutely adding intensity to the current heatwave and dryness.

Links:

Wet Bulb at 35 C

Heatwave Mass Casualties Strike India in 2015

Heatwave Injuries Mount in Surat

Earth Nullschool

India Shatters All-Time Hottest Temperature Record on Thursday

India Temperature Records

Hat Tip to DT Lange

Hat Tip to Colorado Bob

 

 

 

 

 

Fort McMurray Fire — Zero Percent Contained, 1.2 Million Acres in Size, and Crossing Border into Saskatchewan

The Fort McMurray Fire just keeps growing. A global warming fueled beast whose explosive expansion even the best efforts of more than 2,000 firefighters have been helpless to check.

*****

By mid-afternoon Thursday, reports were coming in that the Fort McMurray Fire had again grown larger. Jumping to 1.2 million acres in size, or about 2,000 square miles, the blaze leapt the border into Saskachewan even as it ran through forested lands surrounding crippled tar sand facilities. It’s a fire now approaching twice the size of Rhode Island. A single inferno that, by itself, has now consumed more land than every fire that burned throughout the whole of Alberta during 2015.

animation_may_18

(Continued explosive growth of the Fort McMurray Fire shown graphically in the animation about. Image source: Natural Resources Canada.)

The fire has now encroached upon five towns and cities including Fort McMurray, Anzac, Lenarthur, Kinosis, and Cheeham. Tar Sands facilities encompassed by the blaze include Nexen’s Kinosis facility, CNOOC’s Long Lake, and Suncor’s Base Plant. Numerous other tar sands facilities now lie near the fire’s potential lines of further expansion. You can see the insane rate of growth for this fire in the animation above provided by the Natural Resources board of Canada.

Fort McMurray Continues to Prepare For Residents Return Despite Terrible Conditions

As the fire again expanded this week, reports coming out of Fort McMurray showed periods of horrendous air quality. Measures hit as high as 51 on Wednesday — which is five times a level that is considered ‘unsafe.’ Fires also ignited in a condo complex Thursday after a mysterious explosion claimed another Fort McMurray home on Tuesday. Embers falling from nearby large fires may have been the cause, but officials have so far provided no conclusive ignition source. For safety, emergency responders again shut off gas utilities in the city. Officials put on a brave face despite all the continued adversity, claiming that efforts to ready for a return of people to their homes were progressing.

Fire at Zero Percent Containment

Despite what is a massive firefighting effort, the enormous blaze remains zero percent contained. Firefighters have seen some success, however, in keeping fires from burning buildings in and around Fort McMurray through the constant application of water and through the building of enormous defensive fire breaks. With many trees near Fort McMurray and tar sands facilities already consumed by fire and with winds expected to shift toward the North and West, the blazes are expected to mostly move away from structures by Thursday evening. A welcome relief after fires on Tuesday and Wednesday burned down worker barracks in the tar sands production zone.

Fort McMurray Fire Thursday

(Massive pall of smoke visible over Fort McMurray Fire in Saskatchewan and Alberta. For reference, bottom edge of frame is 250 miles. Image source: LANCE MODIS.)

With cooler weather and a 60 percent chance of rain today, fire conditions may abate somewhat. Rain predicted on Saturday could also aid in firefighting efforts. However, it is likely that this massive fire will continue to burn over Alberta and Saskatchewan throughout a good part of the summer.

Conditions in the Context of Human-Caused Climate Change

Fossil fuel burning is the primary source of the currently extreme carbon emissions that are now fueling the wrenching climate changes and increasingly severe wildfires in Canada. And such burning will almost certainly push 2016 to new record hot global temperatures in the range of 1.3 C above 1880s values. These new temperature extremes have contributed to a combination of factors including a comparatively rapid warming of Canada, permafrost thaw, tree death, and strong ridge formation that have all lead to a greater potential for dangerous wildfires.

Fort McMurray itself now sits firmly under a northbound flow of airs invading the polar region. Such powerful meridional flows feature much warmer than normal air temperatures and heightened risk for drought and wildfires. These zones have formed over recent years due to a weakening of the Jet Stream — which has been set off by sea ice loss and an assymetric warming of the High Arctic. Such polar amplification has also set off permafrost thaw, aided in pine beetle expansion northward toward and into the Arctic zone, and generated temperatures hotter than the range in which boreal forests typically survive and grow. Permafrost thaw combines with tree death to produce added fuels for fires even as warming provides more lightning strike ignition sources. This combination of global warming related factors has resulted in large wildfires occurring in the Arctic at 10 times their mid 20th Century ignition rate and is aiding in a greatly increased risk of fire throughout the boreal forest zone.

Links:

Fort McMurray Fire Crosses Border into Saskatchewan

LANCE MODIS

Natural Resources Canada

Hat tip to Greg

Hat tip to DT Lange

Hat tip to Wili

Hat tip to Colorado Bob

Climate Change Denying Donald Trump Aims to Scrap Landmark Paris Treaty

“Earth’s 2015 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880.” — NASA.

“America’s leadership in Paris has put the world on the path to a clean energy future that will create jobs and save lives.” — Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters.

“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” — Donald Trump.

****

In late 2015, at the Paris Climate Summit (COP 21), the world made history by agreeing to rapid carbon emissions reductions in an effort to prevent catastrophic climate change. The Summit, which has earned criticism from climate activists claiming its resulting treaty doesn’t go far enough and attacks from a fossil fuel industry which would necessarily be phased out as the global community pushes for a transition to low and zero carbon energy sources, forged the strongest international climate treaty yet. As such, it represented a huge leap forward in global climate policy.

(“You’ve Been Trumped” Trailer highlights Trump’s bullying of the Scottish people and fighting to take down wind farms in his push to build a golf course in Scotland. See also — Injurious to the American People.)

As the treaty was being hammered out in Paris, COP 21 quickly became a central topic of debate in the 2016 US Presidential Election. Republicans, who have made a brand name out of pandering for fossil fuel corporate campaign dollars by making ever-more outrageous public professions of climate change denial, practically tripped over each other in their efforts to denounce the treaty.

Ted Cruz, the main contender to Trump, held what could best be described as a circus of climate change denial on the floor of Congress while the Paris Summit was unfolding. Chris Christie — who was still in the race at the time, but now appears to be Trump’s most likely VP candidate — blithely stated “There’s no climate crisis.” Not to be outdone, Trump coined a new conspiracy theory. Fanning both the flames of climate change denial and US workers’ fears of losing jobs to the Chinese he outrageously claimed “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” As if all the climate scientists in the world were somehow involved in some sort of secret deal with the Chinese to wreck US manufacturing. As if wind, solar and electric vehicles didn’t represent a massive new avenue for US manufacturing growth and a potential for jobs expansion not seen since the middle of the 20th Century.

Today, as the Presidential Primaries began to enter their final races, Trump apparently decided that his blanket assertion that climate scientists were involved in shady deals with the Chinese probably wasn’t going to cut it. Making a herculean effort to issue a more serious statement on Paris, Trump today claimed that he would seek to renegotiate the treaty or to withdraw from it altogether. Since the US has already committed to the treaty — pledging to reduce carbon emissions by between 26 and 28 percent through 2030 — Trump’s new claims could be taken only slightly more seriously than his earlier Chinese global conspiracy allegations. For even in the event that he is elected, he would have difficulty withdrawing as that process would take five years and much of the action had already been locked in.

NASA temperature graph

(As this NASA graphic shows, 2015 was the hottest year on record. If current trends hold, 2016 will be significantly hotter at near 1.3 C above the 1880-1899 preindustrial baseline. Donald Trump doesn’t believe the scientists at NASA are telling the truth. And he has pledged to attempt to withdraw or renegotiate a critical international agreement aimed at reducing the rate of future temperature increases. Image source: NASA.)

What we should seriously consider, however, is Trump’s potential to wreck a path of ongoing emissions reductions that has been carefully crafted over the past 8 years. Trump’s statements should instead be interpreted as a signaled intent to harm the spirit of global cooperation on carbon emissions reductions that the US — in its Paris leadership during late 2015 — engendered. Trump casts blame on the Chinese, makes false claims that US commitments already in place are hurtful to the US economy, and appears ready to open a war on ramping rates of renewable energy adoption in the US. Harmful words considering the fact that renewable energy now creates five times more jobs than coal and that hundreds of US cities rely on healthy oceans, stable coastlines and predictable growing seasons for their own economic well-being.

Regarding Trump’s statement, Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, said today in the Guardian:

“This is another example of Trump’s dangerous lack of judgement and the very real impacts it could have for all of us. Trump now not only denies the science of climate change, but also the politics and economics of it. America’s leadership in Paris has put the world on the path to a clean energy future that will create jobs and save lives. Fortunately, Trump’s rhetoric is not going to stop the Paris agreement, nor should it given the benefits of action and the costs of ignorance.”

Trump’s words engender and epitomize what has been an ongoing effort by him, and his republican allies, to spread climate ignorance and to prevent helpful climate action. In essence, Trump is pledging to block what is now a building global effort to save lives and prevent harm. An effort that every person of conscience and right mind should now be undertaking.

Links:

Injurious to the American People

Cruz Takes a Stand Against Science

Chris Christie: There’s No Climate Change

Trump Paris Statement Shows that 2016 is Most Important Election Yet

NASA

Trump Wouldn’t be Able to Derail Paris Deal

Hat Tip to Colorado Bob

Hat Tip to Caroline

Key Hothouse Gas to Rise at Record Rate, Hit Near 408 Parts Per Million in 2016

For 2016 it appears that monthly concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) will hit a new peak near 408 parts per million at the Mauna Loa Observatory in April or May. Not only is this the highest concentration of this key heat-trapping gas ever recorded at Mauna Loa, but it is also the high water mark of what is likely to be the most rapid rate of annual CO2 increase ever seen.

Atmospheric CO2 407-408 ppm

(Atmospheric CO2 keeps being pushed into record ranges by a massive ongoing fossil fuel emission. Global hothouse gas levels are now high enough to begin resulting in various catastrophic changes such as rapid sea level rise, glacial destabilization, increasing instances of droughts, floods and wildfires, and declining ocean health. Image source: The Keeling Curve.)

By 2014, a Century and a half of global fossil fuel burning had dumped an egregious amount of carbon into the world’s airs — forcing atmospheric CO2 levels to rise from about 275 parts per million in the mid 19th Century to a peak of around 401.5 parts per million during that year. By May of 2015, atmospheric CO2 levels peaked at around 403.8 parts per million. And by April of 2016, the monthly average concentrations of this heat-trapping gas had rocketed to near 407.6 parts per million. As atmospheric CO2 readings typically peak in May, we can expect a final top monthly average this year to range between 407.6 to 408 ppm — or 3.8 to 4.2 parts per million higher than during the same time in 2015. A total overall increase of around 133 parts per million since the 19th Century. A level of atmospheric carbon that — if it is maintained — is enough to increase global temperatures by nearly 3 degrees Celsius over the coming decades and centuries.

On the Edge of 1.5 C

(Atmospheric CO2 levels now approaching 410 parts per million are pushing global temperatures dangerously close to the 1.5 C threshold identified by scientists as marking a the first series of civilization-endangering climate tipping points. Maintaining CO2 levels near 410 parts per million risks 3 C warming long term. Continuing carbon emissions makes an already bad situation dramatically worse. Image source: Climate Central.)

These are now the highest atmospheric CO2 levels seen in the last 23 million years. And an annual rate of CO2 increase approaching 4 parts per million is unheard of for any time period in any geological record — even during the Permian hothouse extinction event which wiped out about 90 percent of life in the oceans and 75 percent of life on land. This very rapid rate of atmospheric CO2 increase is being spurred on by a fossil fuel based carbon emission now in the range of 13 billion tons each year (of which CO2 is the vast majority). That’s a rate of carbon addition more than ten times faster than the carbon spike that set off the Paleocene-Eocene hothouse mass extinction about 55 million years ago. A very dangerous rate of carbon accumulation that will generate increasingly severe and harmful geophysical changes over the coming years, decades and centuries. An event that, if it continues, could well be termed the mother of all carbon spikes.

New Record Rate of Increase For Hothouse Gas Concentrations as CO2 Emissions Level Off

Peak-to-peak rates of increase do not capture the full annual average accumulation, but it is an indicator. And for 2016, it appears the annual measure will jump by at least 3.5 parts per million. Previous record rises occurred last year (in 2015) and in 1998 when atmospheric carbon dioxide jumped by about 3 parts per million. Over the past decade, carbon dioxide has accumulated by about 2.2 parts per million each year. So, by any context, 2016 is looking pretty bad in that we’ll almost certainly see a new record pace of greenhouse gas accumulation.

Totten Glacier Plug in Antarctic Bathtub

(A recent study in Nature Geoscience found that continued fossil fuel burning and accumulation of atmospheric greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide risks the irreversible destabilization of Totten Glacier which would result in rapid sea level rise this Century. In total, the Totten Glacier covers an area the size of the southeastern US, is more than a mile thick and, if melted, would raise sea levels by 11 feet. Researchers found that the mouth of the Totten Glacier — holding back this gigantic pile of ice — is rapidly melting now. Image source: Nature Geoscience and The Washington Post.)

The causes of this amazing and dangerous jump in atmospheric CO2 rest entirely at the feet of the global fossil fuel industry — which continues to push through its various political allies and media agencies for expanded and extended burning of coal, oil, and gas. But despite numerous attempts by that destructive industry to stifle the pace of renewable energy adoption and to stymie efforts to increase energy efficiency, both efficiency and renewables have advanced and rates of carbon emission leveled off during 2014 and 2015.

What the industry has achieved, however, is continued delay of a more rapid rate of renewable energy adoption which has resulted in global carbon emissions maintaining at current record high ranges. And such a huge dump of carbon into the atmosphere and oceans would have inevitably resulted in new record rates of atmospheric CO2 increase being hit eventually.

IEA global carbon emissions

(Global CO2 emissions leveled off in a record range near 32 billion tons per year during 2014 and 2015. Increasing rates of renewable energy adoption and improvements in energy efficiency helped to drive this trend. However, 32 billion tons of CO2 each year [approximately 8 billion tons of the total 13 billion tons of carbon hitting the air each year when the molecular weight of non-carbon atoms such as oxygen is removed] is likely the most rapid pace of atmospheric CO2 accumulation in all of the deep history of the Earth. A stark statistic that lends urgency to rapidly drawing such a high annual emission rate down. Image source: International Energy Agency — Decoupling of Global Emissions and Economic Growth Confirmed.)

This year, a strong El Nino reduced the ability of oceans to uptake such a massive volume of pollution belching from the world’s smokestack and tailpipes. A variable warming of waters that put a lid on what is an already fading ocean carbon sink. In addition, comparatively small but significant carbon contributions in the form of increasing global wildfires, ramping permafrost thaw and burning, and increasing methane seeps now provide a visible amplifying feedback to the massive and unprecedented human greenhouse gas emission. A feedback that is bound to rapidly worsen if the literally insane human fossil fuel emission does not stop soon.

Links:

The Keeling Curve

Entering the Middle Miocene

Ten Times Faster Than a Hothouse Extinction

Decoupling of Global Emissions and Economic Growth Confirmed

Climate Central

Hat tip to Meteorology Meg

Hat tip to DT Lange

The Beast Growls — Warming-Induced Wildfire Again Doubles in Size, Burns Tar Sands Workers’ Camp

On Monday, strong southerly winds and freakishly hot temperatures near 80 degrees (F) combined to fan the still-raging Fort McMurray Fire in Alberta, Canada. The monstrous, climate change enhanced, blaze swelled. And by the end of the day it had expanded to cover more than 354,000 hectares, 1,360 square miles, or an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.

In a little more than a week, a fire that emergency response personnel are calling ‘The Beast’ had once again doubled in size.

The Beast Growls

(The Fort McMurray Fire again exploded on Monday — invading tar sands facilities even as the eastern sections of the fire came to within 7 kilometers of the Saskatchewan border. Image source: LANCE MODIS.)

As the fire expanded, it swept north and east. Casting off choking, dense smoke, the fire spiked air quality ratings to 38 (a 10 is considered dangerous), forcing emergency response personnel, workers, and those few people now inhabiting the blackened town of Fort McMurray to wear particulate filtration masks. The bad air quality caused some officials to speculate that the return of more than 80,000 residents to the town could be delayed. The evacuees had been forced from their homes by the fires during early May — a wave of climate change refugees that have now faced a three week period of dislocation. But any thought of residents returning was swiftly overwhelmed by the rapidly-expanding fire itself.

8,000 More Evacuations, Oil Worker Camp Burned

As the town of Fort McMurray choked in the smoke of resurgent fires, walls of flame moving north and east again threatened tar sands facilities. Firefighters scrambled to widen fire breaks as fires moving as fast as 40 kilometers per hour leapt defensive lines and entered some of the industrial sections.

Ironically-named Travis Fairweather, a wildfire information officer, described the completely untenable situation:

“Yesterday the fire was showing extreme behaviour and lots of smoke in the air. We had to pull the firefighters off the line because it was so dangerous out there.”

The entire industrial zone fell swiftly under threat and by late Monday more than 8,000 tar sands workers from a total of 19 camps had been ordered to evacuate. By Tuesday morning, the Blacksand Lodge — a temporary residence for oil workers manning tar sands facilities located 35 kilometers to the north of Fort McMurrary — had succumbed to the flames. A large facility, the Blacksand camp provided 665 residential units for workers. In total, it’s estimated that about 6,000 workers remain in tar sands facilities and emergency responders are coordinating to organize an air evacuation if necessary.

Fort McMurray fire extent May 16

(Fort McMurray Fire extent with hotspots as of early Monday on May 16. The region affected by the fire as of this time was truly vast — stretching nearly 50 miles long and 30 miles wide. Through late Wednesday, the massive blaze is likely to again claim more ground. Image source: Wildfire Today.)

Fire Situation to Remain Extreme on Tuesday and Wednesday

Southerly winds and far above average air temperatures are again expected to worsen fire conditions on Tuesday and Wednesday. Highs are predicted to hit near 80 in Fort McMurray on both days and dry conditions are expected to dominate. So continued rapid growth of the McMurray Fire over this period is likely. With fires now on three sides of the industrial zone and within sections of the tar sands facilites, we can expect a continued threat to the oil production zone over at least the next 48 hours.

Long range forecasts indicate that warmer than normal conditions are likely to continue over the next week. However, rainfall predicted on Thursday and Saturday could again slow the fire’s growth — giving firefighters another shot at containing this massive blaze. It’s worth noting, though, that the fire is now so large and intense that it will likely take weeks to months to extinguish.

Extreme Fires in the Context of Human-Caused Climate Change

Overall, more than 530,000 hectares have now burned throughout Canada. This total is more than 24 times the amount of land consumed in fires by this time last year. During the 20th Century, large May burn extents of the kind Canada is experiencing during 2016 were unheard of. For much of Canada — May tended to be a cool month featuring temperatures in the 40s, 50s and 60s (F). Not the 70s and 80s (F) that have tended to crop up so frequently this year. Fires tended to be sparse and small — if they ignited at all. But the heat, a growing number of dead trees, and a thawing zone of carbon-rich and flammable permafrost have all added to the fire danger. Evidence that a very rapid pace of warming and related damage to Canada’s forests is having an extraordinary and dangerous impact.

Over the coming seven days, abnormal 60-70 degree (F) temperatures are expected to expand throughout even the far northwestern regions of Canada — reaching all the way to where the Arctic Ocean meets the Mackenzie Delta and spiking fire hazards within that thawing permafrost zone. Such huge extents of extreme fire hazard over northern and far-northern regions that typically experience much, much cooler weather is a feature that is absolutely consistent with effects resulting from human-forced warming. A warming that continues to be made worse by the extraction of carbon-based fuels like those unearthed at the tar sands facilities now endangered by the very fires of climate change they helped to ignite.

Links:

Notely Addresses Extreme Conditions Facing Fort McMurray Firefighters

On a Scale of 1 to 10 Air Pollution, Fort McMurray is a 38

Map of Tar Sands Facilities Forced to Evacuate by Fort McMurray Fire

LANCE MODIS

Canada Interagency Fire Center

The Arsonists of Fort McMurray Have a Name

Wildfire Today

Hat tip to DT Lange

Hat tip to Colorado Bob

Hat tip to Greg

Hat tip to Redsky

NASA — World Just Had Seven Months Straight of Record-Shattering Global Heat

It’s not just that we’re seeing record global heat. It’s that 2016’s jump in global temperatures may be the biggest single-year spike ever recorded. It’s that the world may never again see annual temperatures below 1 C above preindustrial averages. And it’s that this high level of heat, and a related spiking of atmospheric greenhouse gasses due to fossil fuel emissions, is now enough to begin inflicting serious harm upon both the natural world and human civilization.

Seven Straight Months of Record Heat

Last month was the hottest April in the global climate record. Not only was it the hottest such month ever recorded — it smashed the previous record by the largest margin ever recorded. And this April has now become the seventh month in a row in an unbroken chain of record global heat.

Stephan Rahmstorf Temperature anomaly

(When graphed, this is what the hottest April on record looks like when compared to other Aprils. Note the sharp upward spike at the end of the long warming progression. Yeah, that’s for April of 2016. Image source: Dr. Stephan Rahmstorf. Data source: NASA GISS.)

According to NASA GISS, global temperatures in April were 1.11 degrees Celsius (C) hotter than its 20th Century baseline average. When compared to preindustrial readings (NASA 1880s), temperatures have globally heated by a total of +1.33 C. And that’s a really big jump in global heat, especially when one considers the context of the last seven months. When one looks at that, it appears that global temperatures are racing higher with a fearful speed.

About this raging pace of warming, Andy Pitman, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of New South Wales in Australia recently noted in the Guardian:

“The interesting thing is the scale at which we’re breaking records. It’s clearly all heading in the wrong direction. Climate scientists have been warning about this since at least the 1980s. And it’s been bloody obvious since the 2000s.”

Record Atmospheric Carbon dioxide levels

(Record atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, as seen in this Sunday May 15 Copernicus Observatory graphic, are the primary force driving an amazing spike in global temperatures during 2016. Image source: The Copernicus Observatory.)

Though 2016 is likely to be a record hot year, overall readings have moderated somewhat since earlier this year as El Nino has begun to fade. But that doesn’t mean we’re out of the danger zone. Quite to the contrary, we’re racing toward climate thresholds at a never-before-seen pace. And that’s really worrisome. Peak monthly readings this year hit a ridiculous +1.55 C above 1880s averages at the height of El Nino during February. And April’s current monthly record is now tied with January of 2016 in the NASA measure. In total, the first four months of 2016 now average +1.43 C above 1880s baselines or uncomfortably close to the +1.5  C mark established by scientists as the first of many increasingly dangerous climate thresholds.

According to Pitman:

“The 1.5C target, it’s wishful thinking. I don’t know if you’d get 1.5C if you stopped emissions today. There’s inertia in the system. It’s [now] putting intense pressure on 2C.”

And when mainstream scientists start to say things like that, it’s really time for the rest of us to take notice.

A Record Hot World Made by Fossil Fuel Burning and Consistent With Scientific Predictions

Looking at where the globe warmed the most, we find greatest extreme temperature departures during April were again centered over the climatologically vulnerable Arctic. Alaska, Northwest Canada, the Beaufort Sea, a huge section of Central Siberia, the West Coast of Greenland, the Laptev and Kara Seas, and a section of North Africa all experienced monthly temperatures in the range of 4 to 6.5 degrees Celsius above average. Monthly ranges that are screaming-hot. A notably larger region experienced significant heat with temperatures ranging from 2-4 C above NASA’s 20th Century baseline. Overall, almost every region of the world experienced above average readings — with the noted exceptions linked to extreme trough zones related to climate change altered weather patterns and ocean cool pools induced by warming-related glacial melt.

Record Global Heat April

(NASA’s picture of a world with a severe and worsening fever during a record hot April of 2016. Image source: NASA GISS.)

These counter-trend regions include the Greenland melt zone of the North Atlantic cool pool, the trough zone over Hudson Bay, the trough zone over the Northwest Pacific, and the oceanic heat sink zone that is the stormy Southern Ocean. Observed amplification of warming in the Northern Polar Region together with formation of the North Atlantic cool pool and the activation of the heat sink zone in the Southern Ocean are all consistent with global warming related patterns predicted by climate models and resulting from human fossil fuel burning pushing atmospheric CO2 levels well above 400 parts per million during recent years.

Record Heat Spurs Unprecedented Climate Disasters

This pattern of record global heat has brought with it numerous climate change related disasters. Across the Equatorial regions of the world, drought and hunger crises have flared. These have grown particularly intense in Africa and Asia. In Africa, tens of millions of people are now on the verge of famine. In India, 330 million people are under water stress due to what is likely the worst drought that nation has ever experienced. Australia has seen 93 percent its Great Barrier Reef succumb to a heat-related coral bleaching. And since the ocean heat in that region of the world has tipped into a range that will force more and more frequent bleaching events, it’s questionable if the great reef will even survive the next few decades.

Pittman in the Guardian again:

“The thing that’s causing that warming, is going up and up and up. So the cool ocean temperatures we will get with a La Niña are warmer than we’d ever seen more than a few decades ago … This is a full-scale punching of the reef system on an ongoing basis with some occasionally really nasty kicks and it isn’t going to recover.”

In Florida, ocean acidification due to fossil fuel emissions is providing its own punches and kicks to that state’s largest coastal reef. A different effect from warming, acidification is a chemical change caused by ocean waters becoming over-burdened with carbon. Kind of like a constant acid rain on the reef that causes the limestone it’s made out of to dissolve.

And if the above impacts aren’t enough to keep you awake at night, unprecedented May wildfires also forced the emptying of an entire city in Canada. Islands around the world are being swallowed by rising oceans due to ice sheet melt and thermal expansion. Cities along the US Atlantic and Gulf Coasts are experiencing ever-worsening tidal flooding events. Glacial melt in Greenland and Antarctica is accelerating. And the Arctic sea ice is so thin and melting so fast that some are questioning if any of it will survive come September.

La Nina is Coming, But it Won’t Help Much

It’s worth noting that global atmospheric temperatures will temporarily cool down from 2016 peaks as La Nina is predicted to settle in by this Fall. However, greenhouse gasses are so high and Earth’s energy balance so intense that the global ocean, ice and atmospheric system is still accumulating heat at an unprecedented rate. As La Nina kicks in, this extra heat will mostly go into the oceans and the ice as the atmosphere cools down a little — preparing for the next big push as El Nino builds once more.

global-warming-since-1850

(Global warming spirals toward dangerous climate thresholds. Graphic by climate scientist Ed Hawkins.)

This natural variability-based shift toward La Nina shouldn’t really be looked at as good news. A massive plume of moisture has risen off the global oceans during the current heat spike and as global temperatures cool, there’s increasing risk of very large flood events of a kind we’re not really used to. La Nina also produces drought zones — in particular over an already-suffering California — and the added warming from rising global temperatures will add to drought intensity in such regions as well.

With global temperatures predicted to hit around 1.3 C above preindustrial averages for all of 2016, it’s doubtful that the world will ever even again see one year in which temperatures fall below the 1 C climate threshold. And that means faster glacial ice melt, worsening wildfires, more disruption to growing seasons and crops, more extreme storms and rainfall events, faster rates of sea level rise, expanding drought zones, more mass casualty inducing heatwaves, expanding ranges for tropical diseases, increasing ranges for harmful invasive species, and a plethora of other problems. Over recent years, we’ve tipped the scales into dangerous climate change. And with global temperatures increasing so rapidly, we’re getting into deeper and deeper trouble.

In the end, our best hope for abating these worsening conditions is to rapidly reduce global carbon emissions to zero or net negative. Until we do that, there’s going to be a ramping scale of worsening impacts coming on down the pipe.

Links:

NASA GISS

Dr. Stephan Rahmstorf

April Breaks Global Temperature Record

The Copernicus Observatory

Ed Hawkins

Hat tip to Suzanne

Hat tip to Colorado Bob

Hat tip to DT Lange

 

 

Trudeau, Canadian Media Mum as Threat From Climate Change Induced Wildfires Grows

To say that this spring has produced an insane, unprecedented early start to wildfire season in Canada would be a monster understatement. In fact, the area of land burned over Canada is now 22 times greater than for the same period last year.

Nearly 2000 Square Miles Have Burned in Canada So Far — And It’s Not Even Summer Yet

By this time (May 16) last year (2015), during the start of what was then one of the worst fire seasons in Canadian history, a total of about 23,000 hectares of land had burned. This year (2016), a total of about 500,000 hectares (1930 square miles) had burned by the same day. That’s about 22 times more land burned than during the same period last year when fire season started abnormally early and ultimately burned much, much more than average.

wildfires burn across northwester Canada

(Wildfires burn across Central and Northwestern Canada on May 15 in this LANCE MODIS satellite shot. Hotspots , indicated by the red dots, in the image are visible in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Massive smoke plumes swirl over the region, drifting either north toward the thawing Arctic or south toward the United States. For reference, bottom edge of frame is 700 miles. Image source: LANCE MODIS.)

And this year, for the first time in Canadian History, a monster wildfire has forced the emptying of a city of 90,000 people — destroying 2,400 structures, damaging another 500 more, and threatening the infrastructure of the tar sands mines. An unconventional fossil fuel facility that Dr. James Hansen has called ‘one of the largest carbon bombs on the planet.’ A hothouse carbon extraction zone the size of Florida that has greatly contributed to the force of the fires that are now threatening the lives and livelihoods of people across Canada.

The massive extent and city-engulfing nature of these fires is evidence-in-plain-sight that a human-forced warming of the planet is taking a ridiculous toll on the forests and infrastructure of Canada. And the threatening of the tar sands facilities themselves by the new, uncanny fires has been called a black irony by those of us who’ve fought so hard to prevent global climate disasters that are now flaring up with increasing frequency and force. For evidence of ‘the arsonists of Fort McMurray’ sprawls as a ruination of a once-beautiful forested region just north of the burned city itself. There, the very fossil fuel industry that lit the fires of climate change now raging across the North, has constructed a vast carbon extraction and burning effort. Stripping the Earth bare in a great wasteland that is clearly visible in even the low resolution shots captured by satellites passing far overhead.

Stripped and barren lands of Canada's Tar Sands

(The stripped and barren lands of Canada’s tar sands as seen from the LANCE MODIS satellite on May 15th with the Fort McMurray Fire continuing to encroach from the south. For reference, bottom edge of frame is 55 miles.)

The fact that Canada, under Steven Harper and related governments for the past two decades, has cast its lot with this destructive industry is plainly visible — not only in the wasted landscapes and dying and burning forests — but in that country’s stunned and inadequate responses to a disaster that it has largely contributed to. In light of this fact, one would be hard-pressed to find the words ‘climate change’ printed in the mainstream Canadian media. And any statements exploring what is now an obvious link between the tar sands industry and what is an ongoing and increasing fire emergency are also notably absent.

In contrast, much has been said about rebuilding. About getting the climate-destroying tar sands production back on line. And Justin Trudeau — who was elected on a public mandate to do something about the increasing harms caused by human forced warming — has basically betrayed the trust of this broad constituency by first attempting to shame those concerned about climate change into silence and then refusing to answer questions on the issue of climate change over the past few weeks.

Trudeau, and much of the Canadian media at large, seem to be treating this disaster in isolation. To be pretending that this disaster is a fluke. And to be blithely ignoring a trend of worsening fires due to warming that is as clear as the blazing hot skies over the Canadian Northwest. A behavior that runs directly in line with climate change denial. And a behavior that is putting a growing number of Canadian citizens directly into harm’s way.

Fort McMurray Fires Resurgent

While morally-compromised Canadian politicians rest on their laurels and fail to commit to an energy transition that is imperative to the safety of global civilization, the Fort McMurray Fire itself has once again grown to new intensity. Over the weekend, temperatures in Alberta again spiked to record warm ranges as dryness set in. These conditions, combined with moderate winds to stoke the fires which once more erupted — filling the skies of the tar sands production region with the smokes of Nature enraged.

Fort McMurray Fire May 15

(The Beast again grows larger in this May 15 LANCE MODIS satellite shot. For reference, bottom edge of frame is 65 miles.)

Fires again drifted northward — expanding around the southern flank of the tar sands production facilities. And an ominous cloud of a tell-tale steely gray hangs over the fossil fuel production zone itself. Meanwhile, to the south, a broad fire-front continued to run out and away from the Lake Gregoire region. Further to the east, fires are expanding toward the Alberta border with Saskatchewan as the closest hot spot has flared within 11 kilometers of the demarcation line. And once more, large pyrocumulus clouds appear to be billowing up into the baked Alberta air.

In total, this immense fire is now about 250,000 hectares in size (965 square miles). Having grown 90,000 hectares (350 square miles) since last weekend, the blaze, which many now call The Beast, has over the past seven days expanded by 60 percent. The fire now shows every sign of exploding once again despite an intense effort by more than 1,000 firefighters.

Over the coming week, high temperatures in Alberta are expected range from the upper 60s to middle 80s. Meanwhile, extreme heat is predicted to expand over most of Northwestern Canada with 70 degree readings reaching the Arctic Ocean’s shores.

North America weather forecast

(Heat builds as fire danger for Canada again spikes during the week of May 16 to May 22. Readings in the 70s and 80s are expected to cover a broad swath of Central, Western, and Northern Canada with 70 degree readings stretching all the way to the shores of the Arctic Ocean. Image source: Climate Reanalyzer.)

There has been practically zero coverage in the broader Canadian Media — over the past two days — about what in the satellite analysis and in the coming forecast appears to be a fire situation that is again worsening and growing more dangerous. The Canadian Fire Agency and the weather forecasters have duly reported the risks. But the media response has been ominously and irresponsibly silent. In contrast, most sources continue to report as if the crisis is over and winding down. As if there aren’t still four months of fire season ahead. And as if human-forced climate change isn’t turning the boreal forests and permafrost zones of our world into a very dangerous fire-trap. Meanwhile, 2016 fire dangers are on the rise, not only for Alberta and Fort McMurray, but for almost all of Central and Northwestern Canada.

UPDATE 10:30 PM, May 16: As of Monday evening, news reports from Bloomberg indicated that the Fort McMurray Fire had again grown — this time swelling to 1,100 square miles (285,000 hectares) or about the size of Rhode Island. Winds from the south up to 25 miles per hour and abnormally hot temperatures caused fires to swell as they moved northward. By afternoon, one blaze had approached to within a kilometer of an Enbridge transportation hub, forcing the evacuation of another 4,000 workers from that tar sands facility. Firefighters worked to widen fire breaks protecting the terminal as emergency personnel considered spraying down equipment to keep the wildfire from spreading into it.

Fort McMurray Fires Monday

(Fort McMurray Fire expanding as it spread northward toward tar sands facilities on Monday, May 16. Image source: LANCE MODIS.)

Updated reports also indicate that nearly 2,000 personnel are now involved in combating Alberta wildfires. Heavy smoke emitting from the flames contributed to terrible air quality conditions (nearly four times worse than levels considered harmful) leading to recommendations from officials that people avoid the Fort McMurray and the surrounding area.

Links:

LANCE MODIS

Canada Interagency Fire Center

Climate Reanalyzer

NASA’s Hansen Explains Decision to Join Keystone XL Protests

The Arsonists of Fort McMurray Have a Name

Fort McMurray and the Fires of Climate Change

Can Justin Trudeau See the Forest Fire for the Trees?

Besieged by the Fires of Denial

Fort McMurray Fire Nears Enbridge Terminal Near Tar Sands Facilities

Hat tip to Cate

Hat tip to Andy in San Diego

Hat tip to DT Lange

Polar Heatwave Digs in as Arctic Sea Ice Crashes — Blue Ocean Event Looking More and More Likely

We’ve never seen May heat like what’s being predicted in the Arctic over the next seven days. A shot of warm airs blowing northward over Siberia that are expected to generate a warm front that takes in nearly the entire Arctic Ocean. A weather pattern that, if it emerges, will completely compromise the central region of polar cold that has traditionally driven Northern Hemisphere weather patterns.

*****

This week, a huge pulse of warm air rose up over Northwest Canada and Alaska. Invading the Beaufort, it drove a broad warm front which forced near or above freezing temperatures over between 1/4 to 1/3 of the Arctic Ocean zone. Regions from the East Siberian Sea, through the Chukchi, into the Beaufort, and including a chunk of the polar zone above the 80th parallel all experienced these anomalously warm readings. By Friday, air temperature anomalies in the entire Arctic zone above 66 North were about 3 C above average and in a large section of the hot zone centered on the Beaufort temperatures ranged between 10-15 C above average. For the Arctic, it appeared that June had arrived a month early.

Arctic sea ice May 12 2016

(Abundant Arctic snow and sea ice melt on May 12 provides a visible record of a region compromised by the heat of human-forced climate change. Large land regions — such as Northwest Canada and Alaska — snow free when they should not be. And larger regions of open water appear in the zones that were traditionally covered by sea ice. A bluing over the Chukchi and Beaufort is also indicative of melt pond proliferation. Summer, it appears, has come to the Arctic far too early. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

The effect of all this heat — just the latest hot flare during a record warm 2016 — on the sea ice has been tremendous. Huge areas of dark, ice-free water have opened up. The Bering is practically ice free. The Chukchi is plagued with thin ice, large polynyas, and melt ponds. Baffin Bay and the Barents are greatly reduced. And in the Beaufort a massive 120 to 200 mile wide region of open water continues to expand.

For Arctic Sea Ice Melt, Mid Summer is Happening in May

Pretty much all the major monitors now show Arctic sea ice plummeting deep into record low ranges. The JAXA extent measure yesterday rocketed past the 11.5 million square kilometer mark with barely a blink following multiple days of 100,000 square kilometer losses. DMI looks like the bottom dropped out of its own extent and volume measures. And NSIDC shows Arctic sea ice extent levels widening the gap from previous record lows for this time of year.

Arctic sea ice extent jaxa

(2016 Actic sea ice — indicated by the red line in the JAXA monitor above — continues its record plunge. Record Arctic heat during 2016 has driven a never-before-seen rate of melt for the first four and a half months of this year. If such melt rates continue, there will be very little sea ice left by melt season end in September. Image source: JAXA.)

Overall, not only is the sea ice less extensive and thinner than it has ever been for this time of year, but the rates of loss it is now experiencing are more similar to those that would typically be seen during June and July — not May. In such a context of record heat and melt, current new sea ice extent lows are about 9-10 days ahead of the previous record low, 22-24 days ahead of the 2000s average line, more than a month ahead of the 1990s average line, and fully a month and a half ahead of the 1980s average line. In other words, there is something seriously, seriously wrong with the polar region of our world.

Freakish Warm Front To Cross From Siberia to the Barents

As bad as the current situation is, the coming week looks like it’s setting up to be far worse. A second massive polar warm front is in the process of bulging northward from the region of Eastern Siberia near the East Siberian Sea. This warm front — driven on by an anomalous ridge in the Jet Stream and backed by warm winds flooding up from the East Asian heatwave and wildfire zone — is predicted to bow outward over the coming five days. It is expected to encompass all of the East Siberian Sea and the Laptev, traverse the 80th parallel, continue on past the North Pole, and then flood out into the Barents. Essentially, it’s a warm front that will cross the polar zone in total — completely ignoring the laws of Jet Stream dynamics and basically rupturing what is traditionally an area of cold centering on the Pole.

image

(Warm winds are predicted to be pulled up from Siberia as a high pressure system churns over the Beaufort and a warm front crosses the North Pole — flushing below freezing temperature out of a majority of the Arctic Ocean Basin on May 16th in the GFS model forecast. Note the very large extent of predicted above freezing temperatures in the graphic above. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

In four years of unbroken Arctic observation and threat analysis related to human-caused climate change, I’ve never seen anything like this. And given the odd effects of fossil fuel emissions-forced climate change, I’ve definitely observed some pretty weird stuff. To say this really kinda takes the cake for Arctic weirdness would be an understatement.

Never-Before Seen Conditions Consistent With Human-Forced Climate Change

By May 20, most of the Arctic Ocean is predicted to see near-freezing or above-freezing temperatures. Readings warm enough to promote surface melt of the ice pretty much everywhere and across all basins. Readings that for the entire Arctic region above 66 North are predicted to be 5 C above average. That is one hell of an anomaly. Something that would be odd if we saw it during January (when climate change related seasonal warming has typically taken greater hold). But for May this is absolutely outlandishly hot.

May 20 Crazy Polar anomaly

(Temperatures in the Arctic are expected to hit a +5.04 C anomaly by May 20. Such an amazing amount of heat will generate rapid thaw conditions that were typically only experienced in the middle of summer during previous record warm years. Image source: Climate Reanalyzer.)

These are conditions that even during the previously record warm period of the 2000s normally didn’t take come into play until late June or early July. Conditions that were practically unheard of for any single day at the peak of summer warmth during the 1980s. Conditions now predicted to happen in late May.

This is climate change, folks. Pure and simple. And if such a pattern of extreme heat continues, it may wipe out practically all the ice by the end of this melt season. This week, it looks like that dreaded event will grow still more likely if this predicted insane heat break-out into the Arctic emerges. An event many scientists thought wouldn’t be possible until the 2070s or 2080s as little as ten years ago. A Blue Ocean Event that is now a very real risk for 2016.

Links:

LANCE-MODIS

JAXA

Earth Nullschool

Climate Reanalyzer

Arctic Sea Ice Graphs

The Killer Seas Begin — Mass Marine Death off Chile as Ocean Acidification Begins to Take Down Florida’s Reef

We should be very clear. There is no way to save the beautiful and majestic coral reefs of our world without a rapid cessation of fossil fuel burning. And, if we continue burning fossil fuels, we will not only lose the reefs and corals — we will also turn the world’s oceans into a mass extinction engine.

Chile Mass Sea Life Die Off

(Masses of dead sea life wash up onto Chile’s shores after the worst red tide in history for that nation. As we witness the tragic carnage in Chile, we should remember that the red tide there, the mass coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, and the onset of ocean acidification damage to the Florida Reef are all linked by the same thread — fossil fuel burning and a related heating up of the global climate. Image source: Largest Red Tide in Chilean History.)

Mass Extinction Driven by the Awful Engine of Greed

Killer Seas. That’s what we’re turning the world’s oceans into in our allowing the fossil fuel industry to retain dominance over the world’s energy sources. In allowing them to continue to keep us captive to the burning of high carbon fuels through their corrupting and pervasive political and economic power. We certainly bear some of the blame for apathetically allowing ourselves to be hood-winked and lead about by the noses. But we shouldn’t fault ourselves too much. For the blame mostly rests within the policy-making apparatuses of dominance-based economic systems and in the very few individuals around the world who now hold the keys to that power.

An enforced global injustice set in place by wealthy individuals like the Koch Brothers, Rupert Murdoch and Warren Buffet  — who through a corrupt monetary influence regularly hijack the political process to protect legacy fossil fuel assets and to assault renewable energy industries. Those like the members of the governing board of Exxon Mobile — who have waged a decades-long campaign to misinform the public on the dangers of human-caused climate change. These so-called global elites are the authors of the climate change denial that has now crippled and deeply divided most legislative bodies around the world. The same fossil fuel drug pushers who’ve worked so hard to keep the global economic system addicted to the most damaging and corrupting of energy sources — oil, gas and coal.

These people are the real monsters of the climate crisis. The ones who, often without any kind of visibility or accountability, have done everything they can to ensure that we, the people of an ailing Earth, have less and less power to make the right decisions and to form the kind of political consensus that would actually provide a pathway to leading us out of this worsening global nightmare. And so, whether we individually realize it now or not, we are in the fight of our lives — what is likely to be the most important struggle for justice that the human race has ever undertaken. For as difficult as such a fight will ultimately be — we must fight the fossil fuel interests and win if human civilization and much of life on Earth is to survive.

The Advent of Killer Seas

I don’t usually talk about religion here in this blog. And I’m not what many people would consider to be a religious person. I do not, for example, attend church very often. Nor do I tend to agree with many so-called religious authorities — whom I often see as short-sighted and relying too much on mythical and dogmatic beliefs that are at best failures in logic and at worst the outgrowths of institutional corruption or general backwards-thinking and small-mindedness. But in this particular case — in the case of the killer seas that are starting to plague our world — I cannot help but to often be struck by how one of the deadly sins that the Bible warns of is resulting in so much terrible harm to the Earth, to its creatures, and to her people. And it is impossible to turn away from the clear-sighted and beautifully written moral imperative laid down by the Pope Francis in his Encyclical. A warning that we should all heed and not turn our eyes from.

Nothing is frozen by Miep

(Nothing is Frozen — by Miep. This is what happens when the world loses its ice — Killer Seas. Image source: There are So Many Things Wrong With This.)

For in the book of Revelation, the Bible speaks of a terrible global disaster. One that begins when the seas turn blood-red and a third of all the fish are killed. Many have interpreted this book, this passage, as a kind of inevitable wrath of a literal God coming down from heaven to divide and punish the human race. But I think that this is a false interpretation. A loving, nurturing God is not a God of Wrath. No, that does not ring true to me at all. I think of this passage, this book, instead as a kind of stark warning against the direct and deadly consequences of bad actions. Of what happens to us if we succumb to what the Bible identifies as the sin of greed. For ‘the love of money is the root of all evil.’

The Bible is, after all, a sort of lore of the ancients passed down over hundreds of generations. A book of parables and lessons for how human beings should treat one another in ways that help not only individuals — but the entire race to survive. In this way, the Bible could be seen as an ancient guide for civilization survival. A book that includes numerous passages on how cities and nations can prosper by living in balance with one another and with nature. And one that issues this essential and stark warning to those who do not treat the Earth and her creatures with kindness. For ‘those who destroy the Earth shall be destroyed.’

Well, we’ve already destroyed 2/3 the globe’s predatory fish that humans eat through over-fishing alone. But the kind of ocean-wrecking destruction of callously-over-fishing pales in comparison to what happens when the short-sighted protection of money in the form of ‘legacy fossil fuel assets’ forces the dumping of billions of tons of toxic carbon into the world’s airs and waters. If you do that, then the ocean really does turn blood-red and purple-red. If you do that, you unleash the mass extinction machine that was the killing mechanism in four of the five great die offs in Earth’s deep history. You begin to temp the fates by invoking the names Permian, Triassic, Devonian, and Ordovician. And if you allow the fossil fuel powers to keep on doing it for the sake of their imagined wealth, then you make the oceans so acidic that the skeletons of the fragile and yet ever-so-beautiful and necessary creatures living within the world’s waters dissolve.

Florida’s Coral Reefs Start to Dissolve

Here, we’ve frequently warned of the two-pronged threat posed to global coral reefs as a result of human fossil fuel burning. In the south, as oceans heat up due to fossil fuel emissions, coral bleaching begins to take hold. Becoming more pervasive as temperatures rise into a range between 1 and 2 C above preindustrial averages, by the 2030s about 90 percent of the world’s reefs will fall under threat of ghosting away into whiteness.

This year, we saw some of these stark consequences begin to unfold as the Great Barrier Reef suffered a horrific bleaching event. This kind of event was predicted and expected by ocean researchers. Brave scientists who acted as modern-day prophets in their issuing of warnings to Australian and global governments. Governments which are now, in so many cases, stacked to the gills (due to the corrupting influence of fossil fuel money mentioned earlier) with the political extremists we today call climate change deniers.

The second prong of the threat to global reefs comes in the form of ocean acidification spreading down from the north. Because waters in northern regions of the world are colder, they are able to take in more of the excess greenhouse gasses produced. As more carbon is drawn into these colder waters, their acidity increases to the point that ocean organisms with calcium carbonate skeletons begin to see those skeletons dissolve. And corals are one of many key ocean organisms that possess calcium carbonate skeletal structures.

Carysfort Reef Dissolved Due to Ocean Acidification

(A global ocean acidification front resulting from a rampant burning of fossil fuels is starting to dissolve higher latitude reef systems. The Carysfort Reef — above — has had numerous coral structures completely dismembered due to ocean acidification creeping into this section of the Florida Reef. Image source: Science Daily.)

Until recently, the threat of ocean acidification to reef systems was still thought to be at least a couple of decades off. And many mainstream scientists believed that acidification would not seriously threaten corals until the 2050s. Unfortunately, a new study has found that the United States’ only large reef — stretching from Biscayne Bay to the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary in the Atlantic Ocean — is now starting to waste away due to ocean acidification. A surprising event that researchers are saying is disturbing, unprecedented, and unexpectedly soon.

According to a recent article in National Geographic:

University of Miami scientists called the collapse of the reef’s limestone framework, a critical habitat for fish, “unprecedented” and “cause for alarm.” “Lots of scientists think that ocean acidification is not going to be a problem until 2050 or 2060,” says Chris Langdon, a marine biology professor at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. “This is happening now. We’ve just lost 35 years we thought we had to turn things around.”

In essence, the reef is wasting away. During the Spring and Summer, reef-building corals bloom and produce the calcium carbonate (limestone) structure that is the body of the Florida Reef. During Fall and Winter, however, reef building activity halts and the newly acidified water begins to take limestone away. The study found that the rate of loss now exceeds the rate of gain. The corals aren’t able to keep up, the reef has reached a tipping point, and the limestone structures the corals rely on for life is dissolving.

The Florida Reef is one of the highest Latitude coral reef structures in the world. But if it is starting to succumb to ocean acidification now, it means the progress of the acidification front is presently, during 2016, starting to enter regions the corals inhabit. If fossil fuel burning continues and atmospheric CO2 concentrations — this year peaking at around 408 parts per million at the Mauna Loa Observatory — continue to rise, it won’t be long before a growing portion of the world’s reefs begin to succumb to effects similar to those now destroying the Florida Reef.

And while coral bleaching is a condition that reefs have at least some chance to recover from, acidification is inevitably lethal. Once a certain oceanic carbon concentration is reached, acidification impacts the reef for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, robbing it of the very skeletal structures necessary for coral survival. And since about 1/4 of all the fish in all the world’s oceans (not just the large, predatory fish we eat) rely on coral reef systems for their own life-giving habitats, the loss of coral reefs would truly be a disaster of biblical proportion.

Hot Pacific Ocean Runs Bloody off the Coast of Chile

Back during March, another lethal ocean condition associated with a warming of the world’s waters began to appear in the ocean zone off the southern coast of Chile. There, a massive algae bloom spread over a region where sea surface temperatures were ranging between 1 and 3 C hotter than normal.

Chile Sea Surface Temperatures

(Abnormally warm sea surface temperatures driven by human forced climate change sparked a the largest red tide ever witnessed off the coast of Chile. The image above shows sea surface temperature anomalies as recorded in late March of 2016 by Earth Nullschool.)

The algae bloom — called a red tide — generated toxic levels of domoic acid that subsequently killed off massive amounts of clams, fish, and even marine mammals. Beaches across Chile were littered with dead sea creatures and Chilean officials are now saying that the current red tide is the worst ever to occur off Chile.

The red tide forced Chilean officials to ground the nation’s fishing fleets — sparking mass riots and protests as thousands of poor fishermen lost access to their means of generating a livelihood. The Chilean government has since offered 150 million dollars in aid to the fishermen. But locals say it’s not enough to make ends meet. The severe blow to the fishing industry, which makes up 0.5 percent of Chile’s GDP, will also negatively effect the Chilean economy. This severe red tide has lasted for months now. But recent reports indicate that the bloom is growing larger as more and more sea life succumbs.

As has been the trend with most major media sources this year, El Nino has been linked by BBC and others to this record red tide. But doing so is short-sighted and fails to take into account the larger context of the global climate picture. Warm ocean waters are well known to generate conditions favorable for red tide development. The warmer waters favor a more rapid rate of algae reproduction and allow algae access to a greater range of food sources. Over the past Century, the world has warmed by more than 1 C above preindustrial levels. And this year is the hottest on record — not due to El Nino, but due to a century-long increase in temperatures exploring a new threshold of extreme global heat.

The seas turn red off Chile

(An algae bloom spurred by global warming is turning the waters off Chile blood-red. Poisonous domoic acid and mass fish and sea life killings resulting from this event are wrecking Chile’s fishing industry, ruining the lives of poor fishermen, and damaging Chile’s economy. Image source: Lethal Red Tide.)

In the Northeast Pacific, this record global heat forced waters there to new extremes — setting off a 2015 record red tide together with a chain of related mass mortality events affecting ocean life. An event that is linked, by ocean warming and climate change, to the largest ever red tide in Chile. One that is also linked, by climate change, to the terrible damage inflicted upon the Great Barrier Reef this year due to coral bleaching. One that is linked to ocean acidification now starting to take down the Florida Reef. And since we are taking a moment to engage in establishing links in a chain of evidence, we can draw one last link from all these events to the ongoing fossil fuel emission that is still being vomited into the world’s airs by an industry that is, itself, nothing more than a means for some of the world’s richest people to continue to increase their amount of individually accumulated wealth.

Ultimately, it’s pretty clear that people all over the world have a crucial choice to make —

What’s more important? The ability of a few people to grow their wealth through the continued burning of fossil fuels? Or the preservation of the vitality of the oceans which all life on Earth ultimately depends upon and the prevention of the warming that will transform the life-giving waters into Killer Seas?

To this point, I’ll leave you with the end-note of the recent National Geographic article on corals succumbing to ocean acidification:

“The only way to prevent that is to prevent the build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere.”

Links:

Ocean Acidification Impacting Reefs in the Florida Keys

Predatory Fish Have Declined by Two-Thirds

A Death of Beauty

The Pope’s Encyclical

Awakening the Horrors of the Ancient Hothouse

Chile’s Red Tide Outbreak Widens

Lethal Red Tide

Hot Pacific Ocean Runs Bloody

Warren Buffet’s Disaster Capitalism

Still Disinforming — Exxon Mobile’s Continued Culpability in Climate Change Denial

Earth Nullschool

There are So Many Things Wrong With This

Hat tip to Colorado Bob

Massive Wildfires Erupt Near Russia-China Border — Lake Baikal Blazes Ignite

As human fossil fuel emissions force the world to warm, moisture and precipitation levels are changing. Wet areas become wetter.  Dry areas become drier. Spring and Summer temperatures increase. And earlier spring snow-melt causes soils to remain drier for longer periods, increasing incidents of drought while lengthening the wildfire season. These hot, dry conditions also increase the likelihood that, once wildfires are started by lightning strikes or human error, they will become more intense, larger and long-burning (paraphrase of this Union of Concerned Scientists Report).

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An extreme heatwave and drought in East Asia is now sparking extraordinarily large wildfires in the Amur region of Russia just across the border with China. The massive fires are plainly visible in the LANCE-MODIS satellite shot and include at least four contiguous fire zones. The fires each show very large burn scars with fire-fronts ranging from 10 to 40 miles across.

Massive Wildfires Amur Russia

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(Enormous wildfires burning along the Russia-China border on May 10th. For reference, bottom edge of frame is 600 miles. Image source: LANCE MODIS.)

A very large smoke plume cast off from these blazes is now visible in the MODIS satellite shot. It stretches away from the massive burn scars and on out into the Sea of Japan nearly 1,000 miles away. By comparison, smoke plume analysis hints that the Amur fires together now seem to dwarf the recent massive blaze that burned 2,400 structures in the Canadian town of Fort McMurray over the past week. Yet another instance of extraordinarily large fires burning in a world forced to warm by human fossil fuel emissions.

Thankfully, the Amur fires aren’t currently raging near any large settlements. So it is less likely that widespread loss of life or property has occurred as a result. International news media had no reports on the blazes (as of Tuesday), so little information is now available other than what can be discerned by NASA satellite map analysis.

In context, these fires ignited along a ridge zone that has featured extremely warm and dry temperatures. Rising off a heatwave that began in Southeast Asia, these warm airs are now expanding northward toward the Arctic and will, over the current week, contribute to an amazingly potent heatwave building over the rapidly thawing regions of our world. Ridge development in this zone has been quite persistent and we can expect continued large fires creeping north toward the Arctic.

Lake Baikal Fires Ignite

(Wildfires — indicated by red spots in the above map — are lighting off around the discontinuous permafrost zone near Lake Baikal. During recent years, this region of Russia has suffered from the kind of extreme drought and warming associated with human-caused climate change. Image source: LANCE MODIS.)

This extremely hot and dry zone has also lit off numerous fires in the Lake Baikal region. Representing the furthest southern extent of the Northeast Asian permafrost zone, heat and thaw in the region due to global warming have resulted in increasing fire hazards. As with Northwest Canada, an unholy relationship exists between fires and thawing permafrost. The permafrost as it thaws and dries provides an understory fuel that aids in fire persistence and intensity — sometimes resulting in hotspots that smolder throughout the winter. And the fires can activate more and more of the permafrost layer below — pumping out additional carbon which can worsen the warming trend which ignited the fires in the first place.

For 2016, warm, dry ridge zones have tended to dominate both Western North America and Eastern Asia. And in a world that since the start of 2016 has been nearly 1.5 C above 1880s averages, we have seen a very intense early start to fire season featuring numerous very large fires in these zones. As May progresses into June, risks for even more intense fires increase even as the fire zone advances with the warm airs heading north toward the Arctic.

UPDATE: The Siberian Times is now reporting on large wildfires burning in the Amur region of Russia and near Lake Baikal. The Times relayed social media messages from villagers in the impacted regions stating:

‘Forests are burning!’, ‘Nothing to breathe in Bagdarin village!’, ‘Turka village is on fire!’

Those now familiar with scenes of the Fort McMurray fires will note a striking resemblance in some of the photos coming out from the Times today:

Buryatia Wildfires

(Severe boreal forest wildfire raging near a village in Buryatia, Russia yesterday bears an uncanny resemblance to the Fort McMurray Fire. Image source: The Siberian Times.)

The times notes that 11 structures have burned and more than 50 villagers have been evacuated. In total, more than 2,100 personnel are now involved in firefighting efforts in Amur, near the Trans-Baikal region, and in Buryatia. Russian officials note that some of these fires were ignited when locals burned grass to clear fields for farming. A tradition among Russians, the fire danger is now so intense due to changing conditions brought on by climate change, that officials have outlawed the practice. Resulting wildfires have, over recent years, consumed massive resources. So it’s understandable why Russian authorities are keen to reduce wildfire ignition sources.

That said, it is likely such laws are not enough to prevent the fires — which could also be ignited by lightning from more prevalent storm systems or by smoldering peat bogs which have become more and more involved in permafrost zone fire hazard increases during recent years.

(Article corrected to include an updated geo-location of fires very near the Chinese border, but on the Amur side in Russia.)

Links:

LANCE MODIS

The Copernicus Observatory

As the World Warms, Expect More Wildfires

Warm North Pacific Winds to Usher in Brutal Arctic Heatwave

Wildfires Rage in Siberia and Russian Far East

Hat Tip to Andy in San Diego

Hat Tip to S.E.

“Injurious to the American People” — Republicans to Receive a Well-Deserved Drubbing Over Decades of Climate Change Denial in 2016 Election

Back in 2013, Donald Trump had a bit of a hissy fit. The problem? In his mind, the planned construction of majestic wind turbines off the coast of Scotland would mess up the view from his newly built golf course. So Trump, in typical bellicose Trump fashion, went to war against an elegant and beneficial energy source:

Donald Trump isn’t happy. So, as usual, he’s making a big fuss.

The trouble this time? Not Barack Obama’s birth certificate. No. It’s windmills. In this case eleven wind turbine generators slated to be built in the ocean near a new golf course Trump constructed in Scotland.

The wind mills will provide power for a much as half of local residents and cost only about 400 million dollars. Trump’s golf course will cost 1.2 billion and suck up a goodly portion of its own energy while giving nothing back. One project produces a luxury that many residents of the Scotland coast will be unable to enjoy. Another produces renewable, zero GHG emission power that benefits everyone in the region and has much larger benefits around the globe.

Yet Donald Trump’s hoity-toity 1.2 billion golf course is too good for those helpful turbines. Trump, invoking the royal ‘we,’ says “We will spend whatever monies are necessary to see to it that these huge and unsightly industrial wind turbines are never constructed.”

In the end, Donald Trump engaged in a two-year legal battle to stop these wind turbines. A battle that he ultimately lost. But not only did he lose his fight to kill the turbines — he earned himself the disdain of the Scots and many Britons as well. A Scottish leader dubbed Trump ‘three times a loser.’ And hundreds of thousands of Britons signed a petition to have him banned from coming to the UK.

Turbines in the Gloaming

(Wind turbines in the gloaming. Which would you rather have — these gossamer beauties or another golf course for 1 percenters? Image source: Emaze.)

Trump’s self-destructive tilting at wind turbines would be comical — if this kind of socially and environmentally damaging behavior were not endemic to a vast majority of currently-elected republicans. And, in fact, this episode of Trump’s blindness to public sentiment, self-important ranting, and unfounded ideological attacks on a helpful energy source could well be seen as microcosm to the responses of the republican party to the threat posed by human-caused climate change and to its potential mitigations over at least the past three decades.

Who, after all, was the party of drill, baby, drill, fight to defend coal, attack the EPA, dismantle the Clean Water Act, kill the Clean Air Act? Who was it that fought practically every government support for wind, solar, and electric vehicles? Who was it that attacked every international climate agreement even before the signature ink was drying? Who endlessly harangued the IPCC? Who, again and again, attempted to de-fund NASA and NOAA climate science research initiatives? Who stymied a carbon tax, a gas tax, or any other incentive policy that would help people move away from carbon-based energy sources? Who brought snowballs into the Senate as ‘evidence’ that climate change was a ‘fraud,’ despite more objective proofs for human-caused global warming than for the theory of gravity itself?

Global warming since 1850

(Global heat spiral shows planetary warming since 1850. Once you realize that high levels of climate danger are reached at the 1.5 C and 2 C threshold, this graph really hits you like a sucker punch. But, in order to protect their fossil fuel allies from a much needed energy switch, many republicans are willing to pretend a rapid spiral toward more and worse climate disasters isn’t happening. In other words, they’re willing to put the lives and livelihoods of American citizens at risk for the sake of a single, destructive industry. Image source: Ed Hawkins.)

Who fought Obama’s Clean Power Plan? And who, when their legislative roadblocks failed, drummed up 27 fossil-fuel aligned governors to mount a legal challenge for the plan in the US Supreme Court? If there was ever a party that turned support of fossil fuels and denial of climate change into a brand name, then it was republicans.

And this year appears to be an opportunity for republicans to be paid back in full for their bad climate actions by an increasingly informed and concerned electorate. For according to a report today in the Washington Post, fully 64 percent of Americans are worried either a ‘great deal’ or a ‘fair amount’ about climate change — a number that includes 40 percent of self-identified republican voters. In addition, the cited Gallup poll also found that 65 percent of Americans now believe that climate change is human-caused. That’s still not in line with 97 to 98 percent of scientists — but it’s more than enough to influence an election.

And Hillary Clinton, the current democratic front-runner, appears to be homing in on an issue that may well prove to be the weak underbelly of the republican party this year. Chris Mooney, in the Washington Post today found that:

“The Clinton campaign sees polling showing profound political vulnerability on climate for the Republicans generally and Trump specifically, so the Clinton camp intends to push climate themes aggressively, ” adds Paul Bledsoe, who worked on climate issues in the former Clinton White House and is now an independent energy consultant. “They see GOP climate denial fitting into a larger narrative of Trump and the Republicans being willing to deny factual information injurious to the American public just because it doesn’t fit into Tea Party ideology.  That will be a meta-theme of the campaign, and climate fits into it.”

Clinton earlier today announced her overall climate strategy should she be elected. One that included hopes for a carbon tax, but that looked to pragmatically work with Congress over renewable energy funding initiatives. One that continued to build on initiatives already set in place by Obama. Clinton also hinted that she’d treat climate change as a national and international security issue — setting up a climate situation map in the White House. And though Clinton may not be quite as climate-hawkish as the outspoken and passionate Bernie Sanders (which is one of many reasons why I still hope Bernie wins, but it’s looking increasingly like a long-shot), she is certainly a far cry from the wind-killing Trump or any other potential republican candidate (Ted Cruz or Paul Ryan) for that matter.

Plummeting Price of Solar Energy

(With the price of solar cells falling by more than 99 percent since the 1970s, both wind and solar energy are now competitive with coal and gas. In addition, National Renewable Energy Lab figures indicate that over a 30 year lifespan solar energy system averaged a very strong Energy Return on Energy Invested of between 8 and 18 in most cases and as high as 30 in the highest efficiency, lowest material use modules — competitive with both wind and fossil fuels. On the back of these strong economics, solar has caught up with wind and together the two represented 2/3 of installed new power generation in 2015. Clinton’s stated policies would leverage the strengths of renewable energy systems to help mitigate the harmful effects of climate change. Image source: Commons.)

Trump, for his own part, has stated “I am not a big believer in man-made climate change.” So no climate change response plan. No situation room like Clinton’s. He has pledged to do away with all of Obama’s executive orders (including the Clean Power Plan). And he has pledged to de-fund the EPA (thereby removing the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon emissions). Trump has also pledged to reinvigorate the dirty coal industry and to double down on fracking. In other words, true to his wind-killing history in Scotland, Trump would be a nightmare candidate during a time in which the worst effects of climate change are now starting to ramp up.

If Trump and Clinton become the nominees and Clinton decides to use republicans’ vulnerability to the issue of climate change to the fullest, it’s possible that not only would Trump suffer, but so would many other republicans down-ticket. Republican voters from a growing number of regions (like the key battleground state of Florida — which is at risk of having its southern 1/6th rapidly flooded out by sea level rise) are facing increasingly obvious harms as a result of fossil fuel related warming. So there’s a clear vulnerability here if the climate change message is communicated correctly. And if this is the case — if the Senate returns to Democratic hands and if those concerned about climate change get a shot at the House — then we may not just have to settle for clean energy incentives. We could have a decent shot at a carbon tax.

And to this point — for any republican out there in the woods who is listening — even former Ronald Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz (back from the days when republicans were just a little bit wiser and even-handed than they are today) supports a carbon tax:

“I have long advocated a revenue-neutral carbon tax,” Shultz said. “It’s just there to level the playing field. Because you want sources of energy to compete equally and to bear the costs of what they produce.”

But Shultz comes from an era when respectable republicans didn’t do silly things like go tilting at solar panels and wind turbines.

Links:

Donald Trump’s Money Would be Better Spent Building Wind Farms

The 97 Percent Consensus

He’ll Take the Low Road — Trump’s Tortured History With Scotland

Trump — I’m Still a Birther

Emaze

Ed Hawkins

National Renewable Energy Lab Calls Claims of EROEI Constraints on Solar a Myth

The Growth of Photovoltaics

Hat Tip to Colorado Bob

Hat Tip to TodaysGuestIs

Monster Fort McMurray Fire Slowed Sunday by Light Rain — Despite Progress, Officials Expect Blaze to Burn for Months

“I’ve never seen anything like this. No-one has ever seen anything like this fire, the way it started, the way it spread, the way it traveled. We will be rewriting the book on fighting these fires, this fire will force us to rewrite the book” — Fort McMurray Fire Chief Darby Allen in a News Conference this afternoon.

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On Saturday, the Fort McMurray fire rapidly expanded — threatening the greenhouse gas emitting tar sands facilities north of town and making a race toward the Saskatchewan border. But by Sunday, cooler temperatures and very light rain in some areas (with accumulations of less than 1 mm), helped to stymie what, until that time, was an entirely uncontrollable blaze.

Fire’s Northward Expansion Halted Before Tar Sands Facilities Were Significantly Damaged

Fires ran directly to the boundaries of the Nexen tar sands facility. But heroic efforts by firefighters stopped the blaze there and prevented all but minor damage to structures and to large vessels containing volatile compounds. In total, the massive firefighting effort — now undertaken by more than 500 personnel — was able to check the northward advance of the flames on Saturday. By Sunday and Monday, a shift in the winds toward the west and northwest again drove the fires eastward.

Fort McMurray Fire Map

(The Fort McMurray fire has grown to more than 16 times its original size. Northwest winds continue to push its expansion toward the Saskatchewan border. Cooler weather and very light rains helped slow the fire Sunday. But with no rain in the forecast until May 23rd and with more warm weather on the way, fire conditions may again worsen this week and on into the next. Image source: CBC News Live Updates.)

Current active large fires near Fort McMurray are about 16 miles to the south and west of town between the Athabasca River and Route 63, near the shores of lake Gregorie, and across the Clearwater River just to the north of the Fort McMurray airport. Though still somewhat threatening, overall fire activity in the area is the lowest since Tuesday of last week. Further to the east, large fires continue to burn toward Saskatchewan and, with winds expected to blow off and on out of the northwest over the coming 5 days, it’s likely that this massive blaze will expand outside the borders of Alberta. To this point, the fire edge is now less than 18 miles away from Saskatchewan and winds are still blowing at moderate strength out of the northwest.

The Damage Assessment Begins — No Word on When 90,000 Climate Change Refugees Can Go Home

Overall, officials are reporting that 161,000 hectares have burned so far (or about 620 square miles). Since Tuesday, the area consumed by the flames had grown explosively to roughly 16 times the fire’s original size. Cooler conditions this week should help to keep explosive growth in check. However, by Thursday and Friday, temperatures are again expected to warm — generating an increasing fire hazard for later this week. In addition, weather forecasts call for little to no chance of rain until May 23. So the region is expected to continue to experience extraordinarily dry conditions — conditions that helped contribute to the extreme fire hazard in the first place.

Smoke plume from Fort McMurray Fire Reaches US East Coast

(The vast Fort McMurray Fire has produced an immense smoke plume that has traversed Canada, crossed the Northern and Central US and is now entering the airs over the Atlantic Ocean off the US East Coast. Image source: NOAA.)

Sunday and Monday’s lull in the blaze has allowed officials to begin to take stock of the extreme and extensive damage around Fort McMurray. In addition to the 1,600 structures destroyed by the blaze, many, many buildings were reported damaged. Fort McMurray’s electrical system is completely knocked out — with emergency facilities running on generator power. The city’s water supply — though continuing to flow from the city’s still intact water treatment plant — remains unsafe to drink. Officials will begin releasing photos of the destruction over the next two days and have warned of ‘dramatic images.’ As for the nearly 90,000 people made into climate change refugees by this blaze, there is still no word on when they will be able to return home. And considering such extensive damage and a still active and dangerous fire ranging the region — that answer could be weeks to months (find out how to help the fire victims here).

Impacts to Fort McMurray’s and Canada’s tar sands industry has been notably substantial. In total, more than 1 million barrels per day of oil production is now off line and is expected to remain so for about a month — even if the blaze does not re-emerge to threaten tar sands facilities. In addition, firefighting officials expect it to take months to get this massive fire completely under control. Even with the cooler conditions and very light rains Sunday and Monday, intense hotspots and very strong fire fronts are still expanding outward from the burn scar zone.

Widespread Large Fires in the Upper Latitude Regions of the Northern Hemisphere are Conditions Consistent with Human-Caused Climate Change

Conditions consistent with human-forced climate change remain in effect for Fort McMurray and for most of Northwestern Canada. In total, nearly 150 fires now rage throughout this Arctic country and in Alberta alone an army of more than 1,500 firefighters are now battling 32 wildfires including the Fort McMurry blaze. In British Columbia, 79 strongly active wildfires have completely absorbed that region’s firefighting resources. And on the Ontario-Manitoba border near Winnipeg, a fire exploding to 40,000 hectares has forced more than 125 people to flee and sparked a massive firefighting effort as that blaze grew four times in size since Friday.

Winnipeg Fire with Hotspots

(Another very large fire — now 40,000 hectares in size — threatens the region near Winnipeg. As of Monday, more than 125 people were forced to evacuate due to the rapidly expanding blaze. Above we see this fire along with hotspots as seen by the NASA-MODIS satellite sensor. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

Around the world, wildfires are now erupting in northern regions and permafrost zones along the Mongolia-Russia border and in the area of Lake Baikal — which has suffered from a decadal drought and very severe warming. As May progresses into June, we can expect this fire zone to creep northward — eventually involving much of the permafrost zone itself. And, to this point, a powerful Arctic heatwave will bring with it increasing risks of fire to Alaska and the Northwest Territory as temperatures are expected to rise up to 30 degrees F above average (into the upper 60s and lower 70s F) there later this week.

Overall, human-forced climate change caused by fossil fuel burning greatly increases the frequency and intensity of wildfires by spreading heat and drought into regions where vegetation is unused to such conditions. In Arctic countries like Canada, new fuels come from thawing permafrost which forms a combustible peat-like layer and creates conditions where the ground itself can burn. Such heat and thaw has contributed to much larger wildfires which have become ten times more prevalent in the Arctic since 1950 and as the world has warmed by more than 1 C above 1880s averages. Continuing to burn fossil fuels will further intensify these already extreme conditions. One need not point out that this is the first time an entire Canadian city has been forced to evacuate due to wildfires. But with climate change starting to come into full force, such instances are far more likely to happen again and again — not just in Canada, but around the world.

Links:

CBC Live Fire Updates

Fort McMurray’s Fires and the Dramatic Images to Come

Oil Prices Tumble as Traders Reassess Fort McMurray Fire Impact

Fort McMurray Weather Forecast

Earth Nullschool

NOAA

Warm North Pacific Winds to Usher in Brutal Arctic Heatwave this Week

Canadian Interagency Fire Center

Water Bombers Bring Relief to Expanding Fire Along Ontario-Manitoba Border

The Age of Alaskan Wildfires

LANCE-MODIS

How to Help Fort McMurray Fire Victims

Hat Tip to Andy in San Diego

Hat Tip to DT Lange

Hat Tip to Cate

Warm North Pacific Winds Predicted to Usher in Brutal Arctic Heatwave this Week

Sprawling over the Northeastern Pacific, there’s a big, doggedly-determined high pressure system. One grown to enormous size and influence in a global atmosphere boiling with the heat of fossil-fuel laden airs. A weather system that’s now able to stretch out a long arm of influence into the High Arctic due to an unrelenting northward shove of oppressive record global heat.

Beaufort Sea Ice Shattered

(The Beaufort Sea Ice has been shattered under the weight of a relentless a high pressure system that has dominated this region of the Arctic for about a month. Now, a freak early-season invasion of above-freezing temperatures is set to level another melt-forcing blow at a region that is very sensitive to the worsening impacts of human-caused climate change. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

Extreme Fires, Sea Ice Loss in a Context of Ever-Worsening Climate Change

Beneath the high, much warmer than normal airs have settled in over the Northeast Pacific, over Western Canada, and over Alaska. These much hotter than typical temperatures have provided fuel for a raging start to fire season in such far northern regions. In Canada, nearly a hundred and fifty fires now burn. Sparked by never-before-seen heat and dryness, the worst of these blazes has now consumed 620 square miles of land and more than 1,600 structures around the city of Fort McMurray — forcing about 90,000 people to evacuate and threatening Canada’s hothouse gas emitting tar sands production facilities. Meanwhile, in Alaska, the heat has been lighting off forest fires since as early as February. A month that once only featured a climate of deep chill and heavy snow — but one that in the new, greenhouse gas warmed, world features an ominous winter burning.

The high has also extended it atmospheric influence up into the Polar zone — joining a powerful ridge that has torn away and shattered sea ice across the Central Arctic since at least mid-April. Opening wide areas of dark, heat absorbing water and contributing to never-before-seen low levels of sea ice extent and volume for May.

May Arctic Heatwave Builds

As of Sunday, this lumbering high began a big shift to the west — expanding its influence on into the North-Central Pacific and the Bering Sea. There, it rallied a warm flood of airs in the form of northbound winds. Warm winds now readying to make a big push into the Arctic Ocean later this week.

image

(Huge northward thrust of warm air seen in this Earth Nullschool capture for predicted May 12 conditions. Note the large swath of above-freezing temperatures invading the Arctic Ocean as readings in Northern Alaska and the Northwest Territory of Canada hit the upper 60s and lower 70s. Regions that are typically still covered in snow experiencing conditions that would be somewhat warmer than normal May weather for the US West Coast city of San Fransisco more than 2,000 miles to the south. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

These winds are expected to build northward along a warm frontal zone over Northern Alaska and the southern reaches of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas on Monday. Linking up with two low pressure systems forming over the East Siberian Sea by Wednesday morning, this wave of heat rising out of the Pacific is expected to have expanded into that sea and taken in all of the Chukchi and half of the Beaufort. By Friday, this northward drive of above freezing airs is expected to have taken in about a third of the Arctic Ocean region in total.

Over Alaska and the Northwest Territory near the Mackenzie Delta, temperatures are expected to rise into the upper 60s to upper 70s Fahrenheit (20-25 C). These are temperatures 20-28 degrees F (9-16 C) above average for early-to-mid May and readings seldom seen for this region even during June. Such high temperatures will hasten melt of any remaining snow or ice and spike fire hazards over this Arctic zone.

Extreme warm temperature anomalies over Arctic zones predicted for May 13

(Two lows on the Siberian side of the Arctic and a high over southern Alaska and the Northeast Pacific are predicted to drive an extreme level of heat into the Arctic starting Monday and continuing on through the end of this week. This extraordinary northward thrust of warmth appears set to tip the scales swiftly toward high Arctic thaw conditions that are typically experienced during June. Such a high degree of added heat will have a profound effect on both sea ice and remaining snow cover. Image source: Global and Regional Climate Anomalies.)

Savaging of the Sea Ice to Continue

Over the Arctic Ocean, conditions will arguably be worse. Temperatures in the near coastal waters of the Beaufort Sea could rise to as high as 41 degrees F (5 C) while temperatures in the range of 32-38 F (0 to 3 C) are expected to cover a very wide zone of Arctic waters invading about 600 miles of the thinning sea ice area between the Mackenzie Delta and the North Pole and covering a breadth of around 800 miles from the Canadian Archipelago to the shores of the East Siberian Sea. These temperatures are also 20-28 F (9-16 C) above average and are more like the atmospheric readings one would expect during July over these typically frozen Arctic waters.

It’s not just the high temperatures that are a concern with this invasion of extreme heat running into the Arctic. It’s also its sheer scale — taking in about 30 percent of the Arctic Ocean zone, most of Alaska, a large region of Northeast Siberia, and a big chunk of Northwest Canada. Such a huge warm air injection will be taken in by the larger circulation over the Arctic Ocean and greatly shrink the remaining pool of cooler airs — driving temperatures to push more rapidly above freezing.

Freezing Degree Day Anomaly

(Off-the charts record Arctic heat shows up in a -1012 freezing degree day anomaly during 2016. In an average year, the Arctic experiences about 6,000 freezing degree days. We’ve lost more than 1/6th of that during 2016, which is basically like knocking one month out of the Polar Winter. Image source: CIRES.)

To this point, temperature anomalies above the 66 North Latitude Line are predicted to continue in the range of 2.5 to 3.5 C above average for the entire Arctic region into mid-May during a time of year when readings tend to moderate. In other words, this range is well above average for this time of year and continues a trend of record Arctic heat for 2016 that began during January. One that has now pushed freezing degree days (FDD) to a never-before-seen -1012 anomaly — which is like losing one entire month out of the coldest time of year in the Arctic.

The severe Arctic warmth continues to have a profound impact on Arctic sea ice — pushing measures inexorably into new record low levels. As of today, pretty much all the major extent and volume measures showed sea ice at new record daily lows and indicated a pace of melt at start of season that is absolutely unprecedented. Of particular concern are volume measures which have rapidly closed and overcome the gap between previous record low years.

DMI sea ice

(DMI’s sea ice volume measure enters a new record low range during early May. Note how swiftly comparative sea ice levels have fallen since February and March of this year. In essence, we are currently just below the record low 2012 launching pad all while facing an unprecedented level of heat building up in the Arctic. Image source: DMI.)

In this context of extreme Arctic heat and already record low Arctic sea ice levels, we continue to expect new record lows to be reached by the end of the melt season — pushing past one or more of the low marks set during 2012 and possibly testing near zero sea ice ranges (blue ocean event) of 80 percent volume loss since 1979 and below 750,000 square kilometers of sea ice area and 1.5 million square kilometers of sea ice extent by September of this year.

Links:

Earth Nullschool

Global and Regional Climate Anomalies

CIRES

DMI

The Beaufort Under Relentless Pressure

Canadian Interagency Fire Center

LANCE-MODIS

 

Shift in the Wind May Push Gargantuan Fort McMurray Fire Toward Tar Sands Facilities on Saturday

The Fort McMurray Fire is now so vast that it has both burned through and completely surrounded the city, its airport, and the neighboring community of Anzac 31 miles to the south. Spinning out blazes in a long tail across the green forested land of Canada, the fire now appears to cover about 40 miles of distance and 10 miles of width at its longest and widest points. A secondary fire to the northeast of the main blaze also appears to have lit off. And by the end of Saturday officials now believe the fire could cover an area the size of Rhode Island.

Fort McMurray Fire May 6 v2 NASA

(Fort McMurray Fire as seen from above in the May 6 NASA/LANCE MODIS satellite shot. This huge fire now covers an approximate 10×40 mile swath of land, is throwing off numerous pyrocumulous clouds, and has spawned a secondary large fire to the northeast. In the upper left hand corner of the image above we see the bald landscapes of tar sands facilities. Smoke plume analysis indicates that the northern extent of this monstrous fire is just 3 miles to the south of the nearest tar sands facility in this shot. For purposes of scale, bottom edge of frame is 60 miles. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

Viewing the massive scope and extent of the blaze, one can see why an evacuation convoy of 1,500 vehicles — composed of members of the fire response team and a number of stranded evacuees from the tar sands industrial zone — was unable to flee the region earlier on Friday. BBC News reports indicated that the convoy encountered walls of flames 200 feet high and was forced to turn back to a city that finds itself surrounded with walls of flame on every side. This was the second time in two days that the evacuation convoy attempted to leave the fire zone and the second time that all ways out were found to be blocked by the fires. Thousands of people remain stranded in the fire zone to the north of the blaze and officials say it will take four days to move them once a clear pathway out is found

RCMP reported that by late Friday a third attempt from the convoy, now swelling to 2,500 vehicles, finally made its way south away from the fire zone. This attempt succeeded after encountering very dense smoke and making multiple stops through the burn scar region. Emergency evacuation leaders were concerned about fires encircling the evacuation convoy as it progressed. But fortune prevailed and the train of cars, trucks, and emergency response vehicles made it through. About three more days will be required to move the rest of the evacuees if a clear path out can be found, according to RCMP statements. (For more information on how to help those displaced by the fire look here.).

Hot Winds to Drive Fire Toward Tar Sands Saturday

GFS model forecasts indicate that temperatures will rise into the mid 80s Saturday. Yet another day of record hot readings for a climate change baked Canada. Winds are shifting toward the south. And very dry conditions will continue to worsen the already extreme levels of fire danger. With the fire now burning very close to the Athabasca oil production facility — a section of the tar sands that was evacuated yesterday due to fire encroachment — it appears that these winds will likely drive the fire toward and, possibly, into that industrial section.

Fort McMurray Fire Expansion Map

(Fort McMurray fire expansion map produced by the regional municipality of Wood Buffalo and the Natural Resources Center of Canada shows the freakish rapidity with which the Fort McMurray Fire has expanded. Today, a similar northward expansion toward the tar sands industrial zone is possible.)

Over the past few days, this fire has shown an ability to move very rapidly — covering many miles of ground in just a short period. And officials estimate that the blaze could expand to an enormous 300,000 hectares (750,000 acres or nearly 1,200 square miles or an area roughly the size of Rhode Island) on Saturday. Trees surrounding the barren strip mines of the tar sands facilities provide abundant fuel for these fires and volatile chemicals produced in the facilities add an additional severe hazard. The tar sands soil is laced with bitumen — which is not typically concentrated enough to burn. However, the extreme heat of these fires may cause some of the more concentrated zones to smolder — adding to potential fuels and fire hotspots.

To this point, the biggest concern is over what may happen if the fires do get into the oil facilities. The chemical and gas facilities in the tar sands are among the largest and most volatile in the world. Many single storage units contain enough explosive compounds to generate multi-kiloton scale blasts if their container vessels are breached. And a few facilities are capable of generating enormous explosions. The Nexen Long Lake oil extraction site is one of these. And officials note that, if this particular site were to explode, it could produce a devastating blast capable of leveling trees and structures in a 14 kilometer radius. If this understanding of the officially stated estimate is correct, then it would roughly be equivalent to 30-40 million tons of TNT going off.

“We’re looking at a blast area of about 14 kilometres if that plant were to go,” said Sgt Jack Poitras in an interview with BBC at about 7:00 AM Saturday.

Fort McMurray Weather

(Southwest winds and temperatures in the 80s will worsen fire conditions on Saturday — creating a risk that the Fort McMurray fire will sweep into the tar sands production facilities. By Sunday, another front brings with it the potential for rain — which may help firefighters contain the blaze. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

Given the predicted weather conditions, the available fuels, and the extraordinary scope and force of the ongoing conflagration around Fort McMurray there is risk that fires will invade the tar sands production zone on Saturday. It’s also worth noting that Arctic and Northern Latitude wildfires like the Fort McMurray Fire have had a tendency to burn for a long time during recent years — lasting for many days and sometimes weeks. Adding to the tree fuels, the ground provides its own set of ignitable materials in fires so large and so hot as this one. The top layer of soil contains old leaf litter, organic material and deadfall — a layer about three feet thick that will burn in the most extreme blazes. This region of Alberta also contains deposits of discontinuous permafrost. During recent years, these permafrost zones have thawed more and more with the advance of global warming. Permafrost is carbon rich and produces its own peat-like fuel which can burn and smolder over very long periods. And there is concern that the new fires produced by climate change over Canada may serve as a mechanism for permafrost carbon release.

Record heat and climate change, therefore, provide an explosive combination of new fuels and added ignition sources for fires like the one that is now engulfing so much of this tar sands production zone. And as bad as these fires have been over the past week, Saturday may see the situation again worsen.

After the heat and dangerous wind shift on Saturday, Sunday brings with it cooler conditions and a return of northwesterly winds. Earlier forecasts had indicated a possibility of rain as well. But very dry air in the region is suppressing cloud formation and chances of precipitation are now near zero for Sunday and on through at least the next week. With such a large and hot-burning fire — rain is really the best hope that firefighters have of getting this enormous blaze under control anytime soon.

Links:

LANCE-MODIS

Canadian Wildfire Halts Evacuation Convoy

Fort McMurray Fire Updates

Earth Nullschool

How to help Fort McMurray Evacuees

Fort McMurray’s Fire to Double in Size

Canada’s Huge Fires May Release Carbon Locked in Permafrost

Hat Tip to Kevin Jones

Hat Tip to DT Lange

Hat Tip to TodaysGuestIs

Hat Tip to Vic

Hat Tip to Redsky

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