May Marks 8th Consecutive Record Hot Month in NASA’s Global Temperature Measure

According to NASA, the world has just experienced another record hot month.

May of 2016 was the warmest May since record keeping began for NASA 137 years ago. It is now the 8th record hot month in row. In other words, since October, every month has been the hottest such month ever recorded (October vs October comparison, November vs November etc). And May’s record is just the most recent high mark during a period that has now vastly exceeded all previous measures for global temperature tracking.

The month itself was 0.93 C above NASA’s 1951-1980 baseline measure. It’s the first month since October that readings fell below the 1 C anomaly mark. A range that before 2015 had never before been breached in the 136 year climate record and likely during all of the approximate 12,000 year period that marks the Holocene geological epoch.

It’s a reading that is fully 1.15 C above 1880s averages. A very warm measure in its own right but one that is thankfully somewhat removed from the 1.55 C monthly peak back during February of 2016. To this point, it’s worth noting that hitting 1.5 C above 1880s temps in the annual measure is the first major temperature break that scientists consider to be seriously threatening to human civilization and the life support systems of planet Earth. And we’re getting close to that mark now. However, considering the fact that El Nino is now transitioning toward La Nina, it appears that 2016 averages may peak closer to 1.2 C.

May Was Hot Pretty Much Everywhere

Geospatially, hottest readings again centered near the Poles. Particularly, a region of the Barents Sea experienced temperatures above 4 C hotter than average for the month in the north. More disturbingly, in the south, a region of 4 to 9.4 C above average readings dominated a large zone over West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula. This area is of particular concern due to numerous destabilized ice masses that are now accelerating toward the Southern Ocean and that have the ability to dramatically raise global sea levels over rather short time intervals.

Global Temperature record again set in May

(Another picture of a record warm month globally provided by NASA. This time, highest above normal temperatures centered over the near polar regions of the Barents Sea and the vulnerable and rapidly destabilizing ice sheets of West Antarctica. Image source: NASA GISS.)

Overall, extents of above average readings covered most areas of the globe. Exceptions included the North Atlantic cool pool southeast of Greenland that has been prevalent now for the better part of two years, a storm and trough related cool pool in the North Central Pacific, and storm and trough related cool zones over the Central US, Central Asia, and the Southern half of South America. Storms in these regions generated record rainfall amounts over Texas, Argentina and Russia during the month as global temperatures fell from El Nino peaks and some of the record atmospheric moisture load was wrung out.

Analysis of the May Global Zonal Anomalies Map finds that polar amplification dominated — resulting in peak temperature readings in zones near 75 North and 75 South Latitude.

NASA zonal anomalies May 2016

(Hot poles, cooler, stormy mid-Latitudes is a sign that climate and weather impacts related to human-caused climate change are starting to ramp up. Image source: NASA GISS.)

Cooler readings in the mid 40s North Latitude and mid 50s South Latitude indicates that the climate change related deep trough zones are starting to get more fully involved (highlighted by various severe and record flooding events occurring around the world during this time).

As climate change advances and global temperatures push toward the 2 C mark, we can expect more heavy involvement in storm generation as the Poles continue to more rapidly warm and as ice sheets speed destabilization — generating the powerful regional climate variations and greater atmospheric moisture loading that greatly amps up peak storm potential energy.

Looks Like 2016 is Settling into a Range near 1.2 C Above 1880s

On the whole, the first six months of the climate year starting in December have averaged 1.36 C above 1880s readings. A strong departure that the second half of the year will almost certainly not repeat. Given current guidance along with a developing transition to La Nina, temperatures should fall into a range between 0.95 and 1.15 C above 1880s for the second half of the climate year.

A 1.2 C annual 2016 departure is firmly within the range of estimates for global temperatures that occurred within the Eemian climate period around 115,000 years ago. At that time, global ocean levels were between 16 and 25 feet higher than they are today. And if such warm temperatures continue for any significant duration, we could expect oceans to at least rise by as much (especially considering the fact that about 15-20 feet worth of sea level rise is locked into the ice of glaciers that are now in the process of heading into the global ocean).

We’re Well Behind the Curve in Providing Adequate Mitigations to a Rapidly Worsening Climate Situation

Atmospheric CO2 levels peaked at 407.7 parts per million in May as well. A jump of about 3.8 parts per million above peak readings during May of 2015. A new record that not only represents the highest levels of atmospheric carbon ever experienced by human beings (and likely the highest ever seen in the past 15 million years), but one that also marks a record rate of accumulation. A combined overburden and unprecedented rate of increase in heat trapping gasses that now represents a very serious global hazard.

If carbon dioxide levels were to remain so high we could expect global temperatures to, over the course of 300-500 years, hit near 3 C above 1880s levels and oceans to rise by as much as 60-120 feet. Adding in methane and other greenhouse gasses — current CO2 equivalent for all global heating gas estimates are now in the range of 490 parts per million. Enough to warm the Earth by about 4.6 C over hundreds of years and to, among other things, eventually raise oceans by 120 t0 200 feet.

Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide The Keeling Curve

(Record May temperatures coincided with record levels of atmospheric CO2. We haven’t seen such high levels of CO2 since the Middle Miocene Climate epoch — a period that occurred 15 million years ago. Image source: The Keeling Curve.)

Continued human fossil fuel burning makes an already bad climate situation worse. The rate of emission from human sources is probably at least ten times faster than the build-up of heat trapping gasses that set off the last hothouse mass extinction event — the PETM — about 55 million years ago. In addition, an Earth System response in the range of 10-30+ percent of the human emission each year is possible by the end of this Century. A dangerous amplifying feedback whose emergence grows more likely the longer human beings continue to add heat to the global atmosphere and ocean system.

May of 2016, therefore, is just the most recent heat record along a path toward an ever-worsening global climate situation. Current rising rates of renewable energy and efficiency adoption do provide a growing mitigation effort to combat the harmful systemic problem of fossil fuel burning and a related very high rate of human carbon emission. But the fact that we are, at best, looking at a decades-long energy transition and an eventual dropping of the human emission to near zero by 2030 to 2050, means that climate hazards will continue to rise for some time to come (an absolute practical best case will probably achieve 450 ppm CO2 and 550 ppm CO2e at peak — very dangerous levels of heat trapping gasses that we’ll want to reduce at the most rapid rates possible). In addition, serious challenges both to the rate of energy transition and carbon emissions cuts coming from various political and economic powers around the world threaten to either push the time of hitting zero carbon emissions back or to remove the possibility of such a necessary mitigation altogether.


GISS Global Temperature Analysis

Eemian Sea Level Rise

Holocene Geological Epoch

The Keeling Curve

Ten Times Faster Than a Hothouse Extinction

Hat Tip to Kevin Jones

Leave a comment


  1. climatehawk1

     /  June 13, 2016

    Tweet scheduled.

  2. Colorado Bob

     /  June 13, 2016

    Record rainfall turns Nuku’alofa into lakes

    Exceptionally heavy, unseasonal rainfall fell across Tongatapu on June 10-11 causing flooding in Nuku’alofa, and turning the capital into a city of lakes, during what is supposed to be the “dry season”.

    Fua’amotu recorded 273.1mm of rainfall in the 24 hours between 1:00pm Friday and 1:00pm Saturday 11 June, according to Tonga Met. No rainfall for a 24 hour period in June has exceeded this amount in the last 36 years of records.

    This is more than three times above the rainfall expected for the whole month of June – when total monthly rainfall historically averages around 79mm. It was also approaching the record rainfall levels for the year brought to Tonga by Cyclone Winston in February when 293.8mm fell in Vava’u in a 24 hour period, during the wet season.

    It was also unusual because the rainfall forecast for June to August 2016 was for continuing drier than normal conditions for most of Tonga, when Tongans were warned to conserve water.

  3. Reblogging tomorrow at Fin des Voies Rapides.

  4. Colorado Bob

     /  June 13, 2016

    El Niño Has Pushed Our Planet Past a Major Climate Milestone

    This past year was special. As Gizmodo reported in March, carbon concentrations at Mauna Loa rose 3.76 ppm between February 2015 and February 2016; the single largest jump in recorded history. The previous record rise, of 2.82 ppm, occurred during the 1997-1998 El Niño. In both cases, scientists believe that emissions spiked due to a combination of warming and drying in the tropics, which can accelerate soil carbon decomposition, and large, drought-fueled fires.

    The result is that atmospheric CO2 levels have been hovering comfortably above 400 ppm—a level that was unprecedented in our records until 2013—for months. While CO2 levels may dip below 400 ppm this fall, a study published today in Nature Climate Change finds that 2016 is now on track for an atmospheric average of 404.45 plus or minus 0.53 ppm. In other words, it’ll be the first year in the history of our species that we can truly say we’ve been living in a 400 ppm world.

    • The Middle Miocene boundary is 405 ppm CO2. This is the last year that average CO2 levels will be below that range.

      As for Fall, the typical range from peak May to trough September is around 7.5 ppm CO2. If that holds the September average will be just a hair above 400 ppm. We’ll have days below. But it’s possible that we’ve already seen the last month below 400 ppm CO2.

  5. Ryan in New England

     /  June 13, 2016

    More skeletons emerge from fossil fuel’s closet. Peabody Energy’s court filings reveal they’ve funded dozens of groups peddling climate change denial. From the article;

    The funding spanned trade associations, corporate lobby groups, and industry front groups as well as conservative thinktanks and was exposed in court filings last month.

    Peabody, the world’s biggest private sector publicly traded coal company, was long known as an outlier even among fossil fuel companies for its public rejection of climate science and action. But its funding of climate denial groups was only exposed in disclosures after the coal titan was forced to seek bankruptcy protection in April, under competition from cheap natural gas.

    Environmental campaigners said they had not known for certain that the company was funding an array of climate denial groups – and that the breadth of that funding took them by surprise.

    • Why should anyone be surprised? It’s been a full court press since jump on the issue of climate change.

      What I’d like to see is a full disclosure on the methodology of climate change denial organizations. In other words, the typical kinds of communications they supported in order to reinforce climate change denial.

      In any case, ‘competition by natural gas’ wasn’t the only thing that brought down coal. 99 percent of all new electrical energy during the first quarter came from renewables. And the falling cost of solar is absolutely helping to push down the price of both coal and natural gas through competition.

    • Ryan in New England

       /  June 13, 2016

      Great post Robert. And to think just last year we were talking about how hot 2015 was shaping up to be. Now 2015 seems almost quaint compared to the havoc that’s been unleashed so far in 2016. Staying up to date on climate change can sometimes cause a similar sensation to mission creep. Every month, every year it gets a little bit worse, with new records being broken constantly, and “new normals” delivered with each change of the seasons. From time to time I like to look back to what things were like when I was still a child, during the last years of a relatively stable climate. Things have deteriorated quite a bit since then, and it seems to me we are transitioning to a far different climate.

      • Thx, Ryan.

        Looking at the comparisons, we find that a 1.2 C above 1880s reading for 2016 would be about 0.13 C hotter than 2015. That’s a pretty big jump for a single year especially after 2014 was record hottest and 2015 was record hottest.

        We will probably back off from 2016 temps in 2017 and 2018. The next El Nino, though, will put up another challenge to the new high mark.

        Overall, PDO remains positive. If we’re in a positive PDO trend the step up will inevitably be stronger than average. I think we’ll see rates of warming for this coming decade that are greater than the 1999 to 2013 period.

        We’ve just also come through a period of record human emissions. So the rate of warming over the next two to three decades would get a bump up as a result.

        Cuts in carbon emissions due to rising rates of renewable energy adoption may help us draw down the massive volume of carbon hitting the atmosphere sooner than expected. Paris had pushed for a peak in global carbon emissions by 2030. If we start doing it now — and China is driving to implement some big cuts, we could start to have an effect on the decadal rate of warming by the 2030s if we’re aggressive enough. Right now, there’s a lot of uncertainty. I could say we live in exciting times if the consequences of failing to act weren’t so dire.

    • Andy in SD

       /  June 13, 2016

      Peabody lobbyist once put it, doing “the Lord’s work.”

      Another article on the same thing….

    • Mulga Mumblebrain

       /  June 14, 2016

      Anthropogenic climate destabilisation denialism is almost totally a Rightwing and capitalist conspiracy against human existence. That is the bed-rock on which any effort to save our species must be built.

      • So I’d say that the republican party used to be a bit more rational. I’ve always admired the view of George Shultz, for instance. There was this notion, which is now completely rarefied, that markets had to be balanced with social goods. This grew up out of the experience of the Great Depression and gave us such republican leaders as Eisenhower.

        The republican party as a whole now has been basically devoured by what I’d term John Birch Society thinking. It’s the kind of free market ideology that lead to the Great Depression but now it’s pushing toward a great die-off.

        Markets can recover from excess and anarchy over the course of human timeframes. But the Earth System cannot recover from a hothouse event on any timescale reasonable to human beings. So we’ve got to do what’s really never been done before with a free market crash. We’ve got to prevent the worst of the catastrophe from happening in the first place, not react after the fact.

        With republicans, this involves pointing out the various glaring instances over the course of our history in which a dominant market anarchy political and economic system resulted in various harmful and systemic collapses. Basically, monetary authoritarianism fails every time due to its inherently unsustainable nature.

        • Quote: Basically, monetary authoritarianism fails every time due to its inherently unsustainable nature.
          Bull’s eye! We can look anywhere in history and that statement holds solid.

  6. Colorado Bob

     /  June 13, 2016

    Lake Erie’s Toxic Algae Bloom Forecast for Summer 2016

    The harmful blooms have a notorious history. In 2011, toxic algae in the open waters of Lake Erie’s Western Basin were 50 times higher than the World Health Organization limit for safe body contact. That same year, levels were 1,200 times higher than the limit for safe drinking water, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In August 2014, toxic algae shuttered the Toledo, Ohio drinking water treatment plant for several days, leading to advisories against the use of tap water in the city. The bloom also led to warnings for Pelee Island, Ontario residents not to use lake water. In total, more than 500,000 people were impacted. And the summer of 2015 produced the largest algae bloom in Lake Erie in 100 years. While it didn’t reach earlier toxicity levels, the bloom covered 300 square miles.


    • Central US is heating up rather badly at the moment. Looks like that’s where the Jet appears to be settling in for the Summer. If so, it’s not great news for Lake Erie.

      • Colorado Bob

         /  June 13, 2016

        Weekend mega-ridge will create ‘very dangerous heat’ and topple records in Arizona

        All-time records for high temperatures could be broken over the weekend in parts of Arizona and Southern California as a mega-ridge of high pressure strengthens over the Southwest. Afternoon temperatures could reach 120 degrees in the hottest locations, and forecasters are asking people to have a plan for how to stay cool.


        • Thanks for this, Bob. You and DT did some good coverage on this in the last post as well. Been watching it in the models myself and it looks like a real bastard. The ridge is predicted to run all the way from the Central Pacific through the Central US. It’s nuts. Just nuts. It’s as if a section of the Southwest the size of Nevada and including California’s Central Valley were predicted to experience Death Valley like conditions.

        • “Weekend mega-ridge will create ‘very dangerous heat’ and topple records in Arizona”

          Scheduling tweet on this, thanks.

      • Reply
      • Reply
      • Reply
      • – And, it’s only June. The grid will be taxed to the max. Air pollution will be felt by many. Calif’s ‘salad bowl’ Central Valley may wilt.
        Lake Mead will evaporate — I suppose with the low water levels all of those exposed high walls of rock will heat up as well.
        This ridge is like a slow acting climate bomb affecting millions of people and other biota.
        PDX is cool for now but will only be on the perimeter of of this ridge — so far.
        – TALLY HO

  7. Paul from NSW

     /  June 13, 2016

    Great article, but I am a bit confused with this;
    ” But the fact that we are, at best, looking at a decades long energy transition and an eventual dropping of the human emission to near zero by 2030 to 2050,”
    With 400 million Indians about to get electricity from predominantly coal fired plants and a forecast of 2 billion cars on the road by 2035 how are human emissions going to drop to near zero? I can see a transition to electric vehicles by those that can afford it, but its hard to see the masses in Africa and Asia making a significant change in that time frame.

    From here

    The report sees coal demand outside China modestly increasing through 2020 as the structural decline in Europe and the United States is more than offset by growth in India and Southeast Asia. The Indian government’s push for universal energy access and an expansion of manufacturing will drive electricity growth. In addition to India’s ambitious renewable targets (175 GW of renewables by 2022, of which 100 GW are solar PV), coal will provide a significant share of the additional power requirements – as much as 60% through 2020. Indeed, preliminary data show India overtaking China as the world’s largest coal importer this year.

    The region with the highest growth rate in coal use in the outlook period is in Southeast Asia, where Indonesia, Viet Nam, Malaysia and Philippines among others plan to underpin their power generation with new coal power plants. Unfortunately, around half of the new coal-fired generation capacity under development in the region still uses inefficient subcritical technologies.

    • The only way is if policy continues to advance — carbon tax, etc, and the rate of renewable energy adoption continues to increase.

      We’re at a point right now, due to the falling price of wind and solar, where we have the opportunity to rapidly replace the use of fossil fuels. We’re at the point now where we can change national plans and curtail coal use on a broad basis globally. And we must do that if we’re in any way concerned about the health and well-being of pretty much everyone living on the Earth.

    • In any case, global fossil fuel use was nearly flat in 2015. If we can peak fossil fuel use in 2015-2020, then we’ve got a shot. And I think we should try for it. The time to act is now.

  8. Ryan in New England

     /  June 13, 2016

    Good piece by Noam Chomsky.

    In all of the extensive media coverage of the Paris conference, perhaps the most important sentences were these, buried near the end of a long New York Times analysis: “Traditionally, negotiators have sought to forge a legally binding treaty that needed ratification by the governments of the participating countries to have force. There is no way to get that in this case, because of the United States. A treaty would be dead on arrival on Capitol Hill without the required two-thirds majority vote in the Republican-controlled Senate. So the voluntary plans are taking the place of mandatory, top-down targets.” And voluntary plans are a guarantee of failure.

    “Because of the United States.” More precisely, because of the Republican Party, which by now is becoming a real danger to decent human survival.

    The conclusions are underscored in another Times piece on the Paris agreement. At the end of a long story lauding the achievement, the article notes that the system created at the conference “depends heavily on the views of the future world leaders who will carry out those policies. In the United States, every Republican candidate running for president in 2016 has publicly questioned or denied the science of climate change, and has voiced opposition to Mr. Obama’s climate change policies. In the Senate, Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, who has led the charge against Mr. Obama’s climate change agenda, said, ‘Before his international partners pop the champagne, they should remember that this is an unattainable deal based on a domestic energy plan that is likely illegal, that half the states have sued to halt, and that Congress has already voted to reject.’”

    • I wouldn’t call a voluntary plan a guarantee of failure. I would definitely give it the label — less likely to succeed.

      The key here is that we got the best treaty we could get given the internal political situation of various countries. In the US, the republican party is absolutely obstructing positive action on climate change. They are absolutely preventing stronger climate policies than Paris. In fact, this is what Paris critics should have said from jump. It’s not that the Paris Climate Summit failed. It’s that republicans in the US forced Paris to take a route that was less likely to succeed. It’s that republicans, and those like them around the world, continue to make it impossible to set up a binding treaty on the issue of climate change. And so long as we, as voters and constituents in democratic nations allow them to retain power, then this situation will not change and we will have to fight climate change by other, less effective means.

      • Ryan in New England

         /  June 14, 2016

        I find Republicans blocking global action to be embarrassing, infuriating, and a testament to how much our country has declined since our scientific high water mark in the middle 20th century. When we respected scientists and intellectuals, and took the words of experts over ignorant know-nothings we had a scientifically literate population with a significant number of children dreaming of being scientists and changing the world. We went from riding horses to walking on the moon in a handful of decades. We went from campfires and candles to manipulating and understanding (somewhat) the behavior of atoms in a single human lifetime. Now we have a population that mostly dreams of being rich and famous, and they only want to change the world by buying and consuming everything in it (I know there are great kids out there and they’re not all bad), and instead of idolizing brilliant scientists Donald Trump is held in high regard and looked at as something to aspire to. And so we find ourselves in a situation where the America is again leading the world, just not in the way we used to. The world is trying to move towards a sustainable future, and we single handedly have prevented them from doing so. It’s pathetic that a country that used to be synonymous with scientific progress now leads the world in science denial and ignorance.

  9. Decades ago, long before climate change was a main feature of concern but particulate pollution was, it was my hope that “fossil” fuels would simply run out by the turn of the century. That eventuality would have taken the matter it out of the hands of the kleptocrats but it was not to be. Now irresponsible and unwise man has to take responsibility and develop wisdom and that too isn’t happening. While in my personal life I’ve drastically cut down my own consumerism, I’ve taken a more placid role of observer. Beating your head against a cement wall may temporarily unfocus from the madness but it doesn’t change anything, except leave one with a serious headache. People do not lack information, they lack motivation. People are trained to ignore the obvious in favour of belief and they’ll believe that which claims the higher power, has the prettiest pictures, the loudest and most constant advertising couched in the best of promises.

    • Action is imperative. And group action is the most likely avenue to a successful mitigation and response effort.

      It’s most helpful and effective, however, to focus that action on the path that is most likely to succeed given present circumstances. Arguing with people whose minds cannot be changed is not an effective use of time. Focusing your efforts toward people who don’t have a fixed mindset and who are open to being further enlightened is a very effective use of time. Being able to discern between the two is an ability we need to hone.

      In addition, acting individually (reduce or eliminate harmful consumption), politically (vote the republicans out of office and join a climate NGO like, and economically (divest from fossil fuels) is absolutely effective action.

      In the end, if you know what’s going on and you’re not doing something about it, then you’re basically making the problem worse. Active involvement by all people who understand the nature of the problem is absolutely necessary for a successful response to human caused climate change. And we absolutely have a number of tools available to us now that would help to reduce the severity of the situation if we simply gather the collective will to use them.

  10. Colorado Bob

     /  June 14, 2016

    The methane gun …………….

    From DTL”s link last page –

    First accounts of the gaping fissure in the earth – found by reindeer herders, who were almost swallowed up by the crater – reported that it was around <b.4 metres in width and 'about 100 metres' deep.

    If that’s not gun barrel, then the Chinese didn’t invent gun power.

  11. Colorado Bob

     /  June 14, 2016

    I still can’t get my head around this , a 12 foot hole, 300 feet deep.

    I am reminded of a Canadian that drilled bore holes around Churchill . a few years back. At 70 to to 90 feet the earth was just barely frozen.

  12. Colorado Bob

     /  June 14, 2016

    The Frozen Fortress of the North , is just a thin shell.

  13. June

     /  June 14, 2016

    New NCAR study

    “Future summers could regularly be hotter than the hottest on record”

    If climate change continues on its current trajectory, the probability that any summer between 2061 and 2080 will be warmer than the hottest on record is 80 percent across the world’s land areas, according to a new study. If greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, however, that probability drops to 41 percent, according to the study.

    • This is a good example of the difference between bad climate outcomes and terrible climate outcomes. Nearly half of all the world facing summers hottest than the hottest ones ever currently recorded is pretty nasty. But make that 80 percent of the Earth’s surface and you’re starting to get a hint of what it means to make the Earth uninhabitable for human beings. Cutting emissions is absolutely essential to a future scenario in which it is even possible for human civilization to survive.

  14. Will abrupt climate disruption disrupt and crash industrial civilisation before voluntary transition has a significant effect?

  15. Colorado Bob

     /  June 14, 2016

    Cream – Crossroads HD

  16. June

     /  June 14, 2016

    The end of the pristine Arctic has begun.

    “This summer, an extravagant cruise ship voyage will make history, and it’s starting in Alaska…A luxury vessel, the $350 million Crystal Serenity can carry up to 1,070 passengers and 655 crew members, and measures 820 feet long.

    On Aug. 16, the ship, full of creature comforts, will set out to travel through one of the world’s harshest sea routes — the icy and isolated waters of the Northwest Passage through the Arctic Ocean. It will wind through narrow waters in far northern Canada as it sails for the first time from Seward to New York City — a 32-day voyage geared toward affluent world travelers.”

  17. June

     /  June 14, 2016

    Interesting new forecast by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. It lays out 8 big shifts coming to power markets. One is that natural gas won’t become a ” bridge fuel” because costs for wind and solar are falling so fast.

    “The World Nears Peak Fossil Fuels for Electricity”

    Coal and gas will begin their terminal decline in less than a decade, according to a new BNEF analysis

  18. – Air pollution: everyone must remember that our mostly fossil fuel air pollution is by definition and constitution: toxic, phytotoxic — neurotoxic.

    – And we, as a so called modern society, allow our children to sit down in front of a TV, eating junk food, breathing dirty air. And we build an economy on it. This must be changed.

    Air pollution linked to increased mental illness in children

    New research is first to establish the link and builds on other evidence that children are particularly vulnerable to even low levels of pollution

    A major new study has linked air pollution to increased mental illness in children, even at low levels of pollution.

    The new research found that relatively small increases in air pollution were associated with a significant increase in treated psychiatric problems. It is the first study to establish the link but is consistent with a growing body of evidence that air pollution can affect mental and cognitive health and that children are particularly vulnerable to poor air quality.

    The research, published in the peer-reviewed journal BMJ Open, examined the pollution exposure of more than 500,000 under-18s in Sweden and compared this with records of medicines prescribed for mental illnesses, ranging from sedatives to anti-psychotics.

  19. Robert Dennholtz

     /  June 14, 2016

    Irkutsk temperature 84F at 3 PM local time.

    • For reference, Irkutsk is on the shores of Lake Baikal in Russia:

      Irkutsk location

      Normal temperature for Irkutsk at this time of year is 68 F (20 C). Forecast for tomorrow is 86 F (30 C).

  20. Ryan in New England

     /  June 14, 2016

    Here is another grim milestone to add to the list…

    Human-caused climate change appears to have driven the Great Barrier Reef’s only endemic mammal species into the history books, with the Bramble Cay melomys, a small rodent that lives on a tiny island in the eastern Torres Strait, being completely wiped-out from its only known location.

    It is also the first recorded extinction of a mammal anywhere in the world thought to be primarily due to human-caused climate change.

    • Oh man is that just rough. Poor little guy… I just hate this could not even begin to describe how I feel right now.

      First, big fish, crustacean, and coral die-offs and now a land mammal extinction. It’s worth noting that mammals represent a very small percentage of the total species inhabiting the Earth. So if mammals are starting to become involved — especially land mammals — then we’re already in an event of geological significance.

      Early outliers. If we don’t get this thing under wraps soon the list is going to be very long.

  21. Ryan in New England

     /  June 14, 2016

    Coal and gas to begin (or continue) terminal decline…

    A stunning new forecast on “peak fossil fuels for electricity” by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) concludes that “coal and gas will begin their terminal decline in less than a decade.”

    It’s been clear for a while that coal demand is plateauing, if it hasn’t already peaked. But BNEF explains that of the “eight massive shifts coming soon to power markets,” #1 is “There Will Be No Golden Age of Gas.”

    Here is the core finding of BNEF’s “annual long-term view of how the world’s power markets will evolve in the future,” their New Energy Outlook (NEO):

    Cheaper coal and cheaper gas will not derail the transformation and decarbonisation of the world’s power systems. By 2040, zero-emission energy sources will make up 60% of installed capacity. Wind and solar will account for 64% of the 8.6TW [1 Terawatt = 1,000 Gigawatts] of new power generating capacity added worldwide over the next 25 years, and for almost 60% of the $11.4 trillion invested.

    • So, I have to say that a few people may just owe me a mea culpa 😉

      The cool heads over at Bloomberg confirm a good deal of what we’ve been saying here all along.

      1. Renewable energy is a resource that benefits from manufacturing economies of scale. The energy source is free and abundant (coming from continuously self-replenishing sources like the wind and the sun) and the issue is just lowering the cost of capturing it and increasing the efficiency with which that energy is captured and stored (when needed).
      2. Fossil fuel energy is a finite resource that is dependent upon extractive mining. It will therefore never benefit from the kind of positive learning curves that renewables are capable of achieving. In addition, the economic viability of fossil fuel markets depends on annual growth in consumption. Even if fossil fuel demand is flat, prices fall to points where extraction in certain regions becomes unsustainable. Fossil fuel industry’s flaw is that its particular economic model requires growth in consumption and the promise of high or rising prices. This is partly due to the increasing difficulty of extraction over time. But the other part is based on the unrealistic (and what could arguably be termed as harmful) expectations of the industry itself.
      3. Cheaper coal and cheaper gas, therefore, means that less gas and will be extracted. What it means is the curtailment of access to harder to reach sources. This is the economic force that falling renewable energy prices applies and it’s enough to begin to flatten the fossil fuel growth curve and, ultimately to begin to bend it down.
      4. Once this begins to happen, the fossil fuel industry is put on death ground. What this means is that its only alternative is to attempt to protect legacy assets by asserting political control. This is happening across the world at this time. The risk is that through the assertion of political control, the fossil fuel industry will be able to artificially delay an energy switch. The fossil fuel industry has refused various outs to this scenario. Most industries have not invested in renewables (because, primarily, the industry cannot imagine economic models that do not rely on resource domination based business models). The vast majority of the fossil fuel industry fought against the kinds of carbon taxes that would enable transitions to more sustainable uses for fossil fuel energy early on (CCS etc). Now, the most effective method for carbon sequestration economically is simply to switch to renewables and leave the fossil fuels in the ground. Ultimately, through both its climate change denial efforts and through its active opposition to policies that would have ultimately increased FF viability, the FF industry painted itself into a corner. And now it’s using the political control lever in a desperate attempt to get out. And we’d better hope that it does not succeed.
      5. The Bloomberg forecast is still a bad one from the perspective of climate change. Peaking gas and coal soon is a great achievement. And hitting 60 percent penetration of zero carbon energy sources for electricity by 2040 is a huge feat. However, it implies also hitting 435 to 460 ppm CO2 and around 510 to 570 ppm CO2e (depending on human methane emissions tracks and Earth System feedbacks) by that time as well. If vehicle transportation follows a similar track but lags by a decade then we might shave off another 5 ppm CO2 and 7 ppm CO2e from these ranges. That would be huge progress, and far better than the path that implies continued fossil fuel burning growth. But it’s also still a pretty rough ride.

      I’d think that in general, we’d want to try to run ahead of forecasts (as with Scotland above).

      • Ryan in New England

         /  June 14, 2016

        Thank you for such an in depth comment, Robert 🙂

  22. Spike

     /  June 14, 2016

    Harbin in China hit by huge hailstorm.

    “China has had its heaviest rainfall in 43 years between March and June, which is typically called the flood season.

    The season has seen an average rainfall of 178 mm nationwide, an increase of 22 percent from last year, according to National Climate Centre.”

    • Spike

       /  June 14, 2016

      China’s national flood control authorities have put in force emergency response measures in preparation for heavy rainfall forecast up to Friday along the Gan, Xiang and Xi rivers in central and southern areas of the country.
      It is also the first flood control emergency response launched this summer, with the authorities describing the flood control situation as “grim”.
      Torrential rain is expected to hit a vast area of over 1 million sq km, more than one 10th of the country’s territory, in provinces including Guizhou, Hunan, Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong and the Guangxi region, according to the Central Meteorological Administration.

    • Bob’s been talking for years (probably decades) about the issue of increased atmospheric convection and rising cloud heights. If you have taller storms, you end up with worsening hail events.

  23. Spike

     /  June 14, 2016

    An abundance of aerosol particles in the atmosphere can increase the lifespans of large storm clouds by delaying rainfall, making the clouds grow larger and live longer, and producing more extreme storms when the rain finally does come, according to new research from The University of Texas at Austin.

    • The word here is — cloud condensation nuclei… Fossil fuel burning and the increasing prevalence of wildfires (associated with climate change) can, by loading up the atmosphere with excess moisture and particulate create one hell of an atmospheric stew for storms. Add in polar amplification, ice sheet melt and increasing temperature deltas between various regions and you’ve got the age of storms that Hansen warned about.

  24. redskylite

     /  June 14, 2016

    RS – Many thanks for that brilliant and timely analysis of NASA GISS Monthly temperature anomalies statistics. The included monthly zonal anomalies maps really highlights the polar amplification effects North and South, which has also been the subject of recent confirming studies.

    A warm and hopeful letter to the Washington Post from the Dalai Lama today, a very interesting read, from a great religious figure of our times.

    “A further source of hope is the genuine cooperation among the world’s nations toward a common goal evident in the Paris accord on climate change. When global warming threatens the health of this planet that is our only home, it is only by considering the larger global interest that local and national interests will be met.

    I have a personal connection to this issue because Tibet is the world’s highest plateau and is an epicenter of global climate change, warming nearly three times as fast as the rest of the world. It is the largest repository of water outside the two poles and the source of the Earth’s most extensive river system, critical to the world’s 10 most densely populated nations.”

    • What Paris represented were the responsible people of the world deciding to act. It represented a recognition that if we know what’s happening, we have an obligation to do something even if we cannot convince some of our peers to act with us. It was the decision to, if need be, drag the people who disagree with us (kicking and screaming if necessary) toward that responsible action. At its basis, this kind of action is an act of love. For at its basis, it is an effort to save lives and prevent harm on a global scale.

      I could see where the Dalai Lama would find hope in such a sentiment. But, from the trenches, I can also say that the outcome is far from certain and that, at this time, we need to redouble our efforts.

  25. wili

     /  June 14, 2016

    Here’s some (rare) good news:
    “India won’t need extra power plants for next three years”

    “…The country can manage for the next three years with existing plants that are currently under-utilised, and those that are under construction and upcoming renewable energy projects, assessment made by the power ministry for reviewing the National Electricity Policy shows…

    India has power plants with capacity to generate 300 GW. These are operating at 64% capacity because of inability of state distribution utilities to purchase electricity and sluggish economic growth.”

    • There we go. If we keep building out renewables and keep adding in efficiencies, eventually the demand curve will go negative for base load fossil fuel power. We can even head this off at the pass in India.

      Sustainable growth is slower, but it’s more real, more lasting. And it doesn’t include the externalities that result in existential threats to cities and to national stability.

      In a slow growth situation it’s also pretty necessary to ensure a more equal distribution of resources. I hope India and the world are prepared for this as without it we’ll have more enflamed and worsening instances of social unrest (and the kind of political characters that prey on the fear that results).

  26. Antarctic Discovery Reveals Larsen C Ice Shelf Weakness


    Researchers report discovery of a massive subsurface ice layer, at least 16 km across, several kilometres long and tens of metres deep, located in an area of intense melting and intermittent ponding on the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica which may suggest the ice shelf is even more fragile than thought. This image is from the research paper published in Nature Communications. Cabinet Inlet basemap and surface ponding. Location map of Cabinet Inlet study site on Larsen C Ice Shelf based on MODIS data from 3rd December 2014. (a) Main figure location in Antarctica (red box). (b) Landsat expansion of Cabinet Inlet from 31st December 2001, showing surface ponding (dark patches) and the locations of the borehole (yellow dot) and 200-MHz GPR transects (red lines). Courtesy: authors and Nature Communications.

  27. WMO: May 2016 Sets New Records

    From the World Meteorological Organization

    Global temperature records were broken yet again in May 2016, according to data just released by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which also reported that it was the hottest (northern hemisphere) spring on record.

    The heat has been especially pronounced in the Arctic, resulting in a very early onset of the annual melting of Arctic sea ice and the Greenland ice sheet. Snow cover in the northern hemisphere was exceptionally low.

    The record temperatures in May were accompanied by other extreme events, including very heavy precipitation in parts of Europe and the southern USA, and widespread and severe coral reef bleaching.

    “The state of the climate so far this year gives us much cause for alarm,” said David Carlson, Director of the World Climate Research Programme. “Exceptionally high temperatures. Ice melt rates in March and May that we don’t normally see until July. Once-in-a-generation rainfall events. The super El Niño is only partly to blame. Abnormal is the new normal.”

    “The rapid changes in the Arctic are of particular concern. What happens in the Arctic affects the rest of the globe. The question is will the rate of change continue? Will it accelerate? We are in uncharted territory.”

    – World Meteorological Organization news release highlights new record highs for global surface temperatures and record lows for ice and snow cover in May 2016. Graphic shows Australian mean temperature deciles for autumn 2016. Areas which are warmest on record are shown in dark orange. Australia had its warmest autumn on record at 1.86°C above average, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. Courtesy: Bureau of Meteorology

    • Thanks for this, TDG. Just read through the report as well.

      The dry soil rate of carbon release looks to jibe well with past instances where warming and drying has produced heightened CO2 release from soils. We see this particularly in the tropics during strong El Nino events. I’m surprised that we haven’t made this connection with the Arctic before.

      In any case, it’s a good study that nails down proportional release rates in wet vs dry soil. But we still don’t have a very clear picture of the overall potential rate of release.

  28. Reply
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  30. June

     /  June 15, 2016

    “World’s Banks Driving Climate Chaos with Hundreds of Billions in Extreme Energy Financing”

    Wall Street continues to back the most polluting fossil fuel industries “at the expense of some of the most vulnerable communities on the planet,” states new report.

    The report, $horting the Climate: Fossil Fuel Finance Report Card 2016 (pdf), put forth by Rainforest Action Network (RAN), BankTrack, Sierra Club, and Oil Change International, evaluates the private global banking industry based on its financing for fossil fuels…

    According to the report’s analysis of the last three years, Citigroup, topping the list with $24.06 billion of coal power plant funding, and Bank of America “are the Western world’s coal banks.” At the same time, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, and Bank of America—with a respective $37.7 billion, $26.49 billion and $24.85 billion in high-risk financing—”are the bankers of extreme oil and gas…

    …So big extreme fossil fuel investments are massive bets that governments won’t stop climate change.”

  1. May Marks 8th Consecutive Record Hot Month in NASA’s Global Temperature Measure | robertscribbler | GarryRogers Nature Conservation

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