NASA Map Shows Large Portions of Greenland are Melting from Below

During recent years, as human fossil-fuel emissions have forced the Earth to warm, observations of Greenland’s surface has indicated a rising rate of melt. What has been less well-observed is melt rates beneath the ice and near the ice base. This is important because the pooling of water beneath the great ice sheet can help speed its movement toward ocean outlets, along with accumulating heat at the base of the ice — which can also quicken the pace of overall melt.

A new scientific study headed by NASA researchers has developed one of the first comprehensive maps of melt along Greenland’s basal zone, where the ice contacts the ground surface. What they have found is that large portions of Greenland are melting from below:

Greenland basal thaw map

(New, first-of-its-kind map shows extensive melt along the Greenland ice sheet base. Melt in this region is a sign that heat is building up beneath the ice as well as on top. Image source: NASA.)

This mapping study found that wide expanses of northern Greenland and pretty much all of southern Greenland are now experiencing melt at the ice sheet base. As the interior of Greenland has a cracked-bowl topography — with land bowing down into a central trough and numerous furrows connecting the ice sheet with the ocean — understanding where liquid water and heat are pooling at the bottom of the ice sheet will help scientists to get a better idea of how Greenland’s glaciers will respond to human-forced warming.

Joe MacGregor, lead study author and glaciologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland recently noted:

“We’re ultimately interested in understanding how the ice sheet flows and how it will behave in the future. If the ice at its bottom is at the melting-point temperature, or thawed, then there could be enough liquid water there for the ice to flow faster and affect how quickly it responds to climate change.”

Geothermal Melt, Ice Sheet Heat Accumulation, and Climate Change

Melt along the base of the Greenland ice sheet has long been influenced by heat welling up from or trapped near the Earth’s surface. The heavy, thick ice sheet densely packs the ground and rocks under it, which generates and amplifies geothermal hot-spots beneath Greenland. In addition, the ice creates a kind of insulating layer which locks that ground heat in. As a result, the bottom of the ice sheet is often tens of degrees warmer than its top.

Alone, this blanketing effect is enough to generate some melt along the bottom of Greenland. But now that the surface is melting more and more, heat transport from the ice surface to the bottom via liquid water funneling down to pool below is a more common occurrence.

Subglacial lake recharges due to surface melt Greenland

(Recharge of subglacial lake by surface melt near the Flade Isblink ice cap is an example of how surface melt can interact with basal melt, driving the formation of water at the ice sheet base. Image source: Nature.)

The way this heat transfer works is that rising temperatures over Greenland form more extensive surface lakes and melt ponds during the increasingly warm summers (and sometimes briefly during other periods). Often, the meltwater will find a crack in the ice and flow down to the ice interior. Sometimes the water remains suspended in the middle layers between the surface and the ice sheet base as a kind of heat bubble. At other times, the water will bore all the way down to the ground where it can form into pools or subglacial lakes.

At Flade Isblink in northeastern Greenland, such a filling of a subglacial lake was observed during the 2011 and 2012 melt years. As Greenland warms, such instances are likely to become more common. In this way, melt at the surface can add to the amount of heat trapped below the ice sheet — forming a kind of synergistic melt process.

The new NASA study helps our understanding of how such a process might unfold by showing the current extent of subsurface melt. The study combined physical models with observations to create this larger picture of bottom melt, telling a dramatic story of the opening period of human-forced Greenland melt, in which sub-surface melt is already very extensive.

Conditions in Context — The Level of Atmospheric Greenhouse Gasses is Now About Equal to Where They Were When the Greenland Ice Sheet First Formed

In context, the Greenland ice sheet is the largest repository of land ice remaining in the Northern Hemisphere. Covering a vast region of 1,710,000 square kilometers and rising up to 3 kilometers high at its tallest point, this ice sheet contains fully 2,850,000 cubic kilometers of ice. If all this ice melted, it would raise the world’s sea levels by around 7.2 meters (nearly 24 feet).

This enormous mountain of ice astride Greenland began to form about 11 to 18 million years ago during the Middle Miocene climate epoch. Back then, atmospheric carbon dioxide ranged from 405 to 500 parts per million. This decline from earlier, higher CO2 concentrations was allowing the world to cool enough to begin to support glacial ice in this region (around 4 C warmer than 1880s values).

Greenland_Mass_Balance

(Losses of Greenland mass from the surface zone have been accelerating during recent years. This loss has primarily been driven by human-forced warming of the Arctic. Though the North Atlantic Oscillation can generate melt variability by driving warm air flows toward or away from Greenland, the overall long-term driver has been a rapid warming of the Arctic region due to fossil-fuel emissions. Though we have a pretty good understanding of surface melt, our understanding of melt at the base of the ice sheet and heat accumulation there is less complete. Such an understanding may help us to predict future ice sheet behavior. Image source: Skeptical Science.)

Back then, Greenland’s ice was far smaller, far less extensive. It was a baby ice sheet that would grow into a behemoth as the Miocene cooled into the Pliocene — when CO2 levels fell to around 390 to 405 ppm — and then into the various ice ages and interglacials that followed (featuring atmospheric CO2 in the range of around 180 ppm during ice ages and around 275 ppm during interglacials).

Now, human fossil-fuel burning has put the ice sheet in a great global-warming time machine. With atmospheric CO2 levels hitting Middle Miocene ranges of 407.5 ppm at Mauna Loa this year, an accumulation of enough heat to significantly melt large portions of Greenland’s ice is a very real and growing concern. Exactly how that melt may unfold is still a big scientific mystery, but the risks are growing along with the heat and the new NASA basal melt study helps to shed a little light.

Links:

First Map of Thawed Areas Under Greenland Ice Sheet

NASA Maps Thawed Areas Under the Greenland Ice Sheet

Recharge of Subglacial Lake by Surface Melt Water in Northeast Greenland

Pliocene

Middle Miocene

Greenland Ice Sheet

Hat tip to Colorado Bob

Leave a comment

113 Comments

  1. climatehawk1

     /  August 9, 2016

    Tweet scheduled.

    Reply
  2. Colorado Bob

     /  August 9, 2016

    Greenland without the ice –

    Reply
    • Melt would tend to collect at the center or flush out through the channels. Greenland has its own tricky topography. It’s also more vulnerable to melt related swings in the weather. My opinion is that melt pulse may become a relatively common term in a decade or two. Especially if we don’t get our act together RE emissions.

      Reply
      • Cate

         /  August 9, 2016

        Someone—a scientist, wish I could remember who—compared Greenland’s topography to a waffle iron. Antarctica, by contrast, is more like a “greased griddle”, smooth and sloping. The implication was that the Greenland’s ice sheet might get stuck a bit more and tend to melt out, whereas the Antarctic sheet could just slide off….in a big rush. Ker-splash. Yikes.

        Reply
        • Edward

           /  August 9, 2016

          I believe that was Richard Alley, Department of Geo-sciences, Penn State

        • Mulga Mumblebrain

           /  August 10, 2016

          Here we face directly south to Antarctica, and the lemmings are rushing to buy sea-front property. When the mega-tsunami strikes, we might be OK, inland and 300 metres up-I hope.

        • lesliegraham1

           /  August 10, 2016

          Richard Alley also says that the melt water lakes that often drain through to the bottom of the ice in minutes have little to no lasting effect on the speed of the glacier’s travel toward the ocean.
          It speeds up locally for a short time but then returns to it’s original speed.
          This is due to the underlying topography being very rough.

          At 42:20.

        • lesliegraham1

           /  August 10, 2016

          Oooops! Make that at 31.05

        • Dr Alley makes some great points here.

          Overall, Greenland is not as vulnerable to basal melt from the warming oceans as Antarctica — whose reverse slope topographic features run many miles inland. That said, it’s certainly not immune with three large channels at the Jakobshavn, Zachariae, and Petermann glaciers. These run below sea level for a long ways inland but feature jagged terrain and an upward slope. The reverse slope features in Antarctica are more disturbing and the current consensus is that they generate a higher destabilization risk. However, these three Greenland basal zones are likely to prove to be weak spots that a warming ocean can and will exploit. So it’s not a question of Greenland being not vulnerable and Antarctica being vulnerable. It’s a question of Greenland being vulnerable to basal melt intrusion and Antarctica featuring some pretty ridiculous vulnerability.

          Greenland Melt Pond/Lake Formation A Separate Issue

          The central topography is a separate issue in that it creates a catchment basin for glacial melt. An area where large melt ponds can form and combine as the ice sheet gains heat. This is a separate feature that is unrelated to the ocean channel topography mentioned above. Large glacial melt pond formation in this central basin presents its own ice sheet destabilization risks — namely generating large glacial lakes behind unstable dam features and overtopping and spillage into the various ocean outlet melt channels which would speed glacial movement. This particular outburst flood risk potential due to propensity for glacial pond and lake formation is a somewhat unique risk feature for Greenland given its current (and growing) greater vulnerability to surface melt.

          Basal Lubrication Speeds Glacial Flows — Topography Determines How Much

          In any case, we have numerous observations where liquid water at glacier bases speeds glacial movement. Please see:

          http://www.livescience.com/38244-greenland-melt-speeds-ice-flow.html

          In addition, the model study in the post above found a correlation between increased rates of glacier movement as water lubricated the basal regions. This is true even in cases where topography is jagged due to the fill and overspill dynamic. So it’s not a question of whether basal lubrication increases glacial speed. It’s an issue of how much.

      • lesliegraham1

         /  August 11, 2016

        Thanks for taking the time to compose such a detailed reply Robert. Frustratingly I couldn’t find a link to the actual study being quoted in the (very interesting) livescience report you linked to, so I can’t really offer any comment on their findings.
        Livescience really should know better.

        Reply
  3. Colorado Bob

     /  August 9, 2016

    Haboob Sweeps Through Phoenix; Cars Stranded By Flooding in Tucson

    Heavy rain flooded parts of Tucson, Arizona, on Tuesday morning, leaving at least one car stranded up to its roof in water as the fast-moving currents quickly swamped roads.

    Two inches of rain or more were reported in some parts of the city as the storms zeroed in on an area with a low threshold for flooding, according to local storm reports

    https://weather.com/safety/floods/news/phoenix-dust-storm-tucson-flooding-news

    Reply
  4. Colorado Bob

     /  August 9, 2016

    I gotta think at some point this water is going to jack the ice sheet up in places , “crack it”, as well as grease it bottom. I seem to remember observations about this on a local basis , when a melt lake drains.

    Reply
    • I think these are good points.

      Generally, the sub glacial lakes will tend to fill and then overtop. This would send a pulse of water down hill. If it encounters a step or wall feature, it would cause the ice above to bulge before it again over-topped the catchment — speeding ice movement down hill as it went.

      If there’s a lot of ponding, over-topping, and draining activity below, you could see the ice sheet both bulging and sagging as the basal region became more dynamic due to the added heat.

      Reply
  5. Colorado Bob

     /  August 9, 2016

    Harris Co. official: ‘People enjoy floods’

    Comments from a Harris County Commissioner aren’t sitting well with some people.

    Precinct 3 Commissioner Steve Radack recently said some people want to get flooded so they can cash in, and he’s not backing down from his comments.

    Radack says this was one minute of a 90-minute community meeting in Cypress last Thursday night. However, to the audience of flood victims, it didn’t go over well.

    http://www.khou.com/news/local/harris-co-official-people-enjoy-floods-1/291405102

    Reply
  6. Colorado Bob

     /  August 9, 2016

    Killer article, with an amazing picture –

    California plans to log its drought-killed trees

    Looking north from Blue Canyon near Shaver Lake, copper-colored forests blanket mountain slopes that stretch ridge after ridge to the horizon. The patches of fading green that dappled these hillsides last fall have merged into an unbroken cover of rust-needled pines. At dusk, when the winds die down, an eerie stillness gives way to the muffled sound of munching as beetles chomp through one tree after another, thousands after thousands.

    This is the look — and the sound — of drought.

    https://www.hcn.org/issues/48.13/california-plans-to-log-its-drought-killed-trees

    Reply
    • The photo is of Bass Lake, near Oakhurst, California. I’m originally from Mariposa, about 35 miles away. We went swimming there, when I was a kid.

      It was really green. It looks totally different, now. I knew about the drought, and the dead trees, but somehow didn’t make the connection to Bass Lake.

      I’m really shocked- I felt it in the pit of my stomach, looking at that picture. It looks totally different.

      Logging and replanting is a good idea, I think- better than waiting for a big fire to burn it all down. A better choice might be to pelletize it and burn it in converted coal or natural gas fired power plants. Global warming keeps leaving us with a menu of bad choices.

      Instead of substantive ideas with how to deal with a destabilizing climate, Donald Trump is making ambiguous statements apparently hinting that Hillary Clinton and her Supreme Court picks might be shot, if she becomes President.

      What a vile man. This guy is scum, in my opinion.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/10/opinion/trumps-ambiguous-wink-wink-to-second-amendment-people.html?_r=0

      Reply
    • So sad. Replanting may help, if there’s rain. The dice appear to be loaded against such rainfall. And as time moves forward, the negative dice-loading just gets worse.

      Reply
  7. Jacob

     /  August 9, 2016

    Israel, the Water Superpower —

    “Israel’s advancements in desalination and water efficiency are case studies that policymakers across the world must consider as they evaluate how to provide enough fresh water for citizens and businesses.”

    http://www.triplepundit.com/2016/08/israel-water-superpower/?ref=yfp

    Here in California and the rest of the southwest we need to take notes and spend the money to create a massive desalination infrastructure of our own.

    Reply
    • Mulga Mumblebrain

       /  August 10, 2016

      And, when in doubt, Israel just steals it from the Palestinians. I reckon Canada’s water rightly belongs to its southern neighbours, too, but the dispossession will be more ‘amicable’.

      Reply
    • Wow 58 cents per cubic meter – that’s certainly cheap enough for municipal water, I think. Most cities in California charge their customers more, right now. Figure 2.83 cubic meters per 100 cubic feet. East LA seems to charge their customers about twice that:

      https://www.calwater.com/rates/water-charge-estimator/#

      Desalination takes energy – but if solar supplies the energy this could be close to carbon neutral, depending on how the solar cells and desalination components are produced.

      Reply
      • There’s a lot of minerals in seawater. We can co-produce salts and lithium this way and reduce outlet pipe impacts if we’re smart about it.

        Reply
  8. Colorado Bob

     /  August 9, 2016

    “create a massive desalination infrastructure of our own.”

    Jacob ,
    This looks great on paper, but these plants discharge a huge amount of concentrated brine back into the ocean. It’s so salty that nothing can live in it. Remember , everything has a price. The great law of physics. Remember , everything has a price.

    Reply
    • Jacob

       /  August 9, 2016

      Understood, CB. Perhaps I’m naïve to think humanity can (or is collectively willing to try to) figure out a way to get rid of the brine “cleanly”. I suppose the evidence to the contrary (about our willingness to clean things up) overwhelming speaks for itself. Like we can bury anything, or put anything in the ocean/atmosphere and it will just magically disappear.

      Allowing for an admittedly fantastic/ridiculous imaginary suggestion … The only thing I can figure to theoretically and truly get rid of brine, among other toxic/deadly/etc. wastes without harming the Earth is to send that waste toward the sun and let the sun do its thing. How to cleanly get it off the planet without it exploding all over the atmosphere is quite the tricky task. One beyond my low level education and laughable financial status.

      Reply
    • Interestingly enough, this concentrated brine is denser than seawater, and might carry CO2 down into deeper water if discharged in sufficient quantity, like the Adriatic carbon pump:

      The continental shelf carbon pump in the northern Adriatic Sea (Mediterranean Sea): Influence of wintertime variability.

      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304380015003300

      I noticed this by the persistent low CO2 area in the Adriatic between Italy and Greece, seen on Earth.nullschool, and apparently it’s a known phenomenon with a known cause- heavy brine created by evaporation sinking and carrying CO2 down into the deep ocean.

      Of course this leads to long term ocean acidification (everything has a price) but it does pump some CO2 out of the air, temporarily.

      Reply
      • Make that between Italy and Croatia, the persistent carbon sink.

        Reply
        • Syd Bridges

           /  August 10, 2016

          One thing that worries me about discharging concentrated brine back into the sea is that it may well speed up ocean stratification. Also, I have a suspicion that the archaeobacteria that could produce hydrogen sulphide are more likely to be tolerant to high salt than their oxygen breathing competitors.

        • Hi Syd-

          Dunno about the archaeobacteria. Not sure about the stratification, in the Adriatic the brine seems to encourage deep circulation.

          The Adriatic seems to be both a carbon sequestration pump and also a very productive area in terms of sea life:

          “The northern Adriatic Sea, a marginal sea of the Mediterranean, is both a highly productive shelf area and a dense water formation site. The combination of productivity and dense water formation on the shelf (i.e., the continental shelf carbon pump process) enhances the vertical transport of carbon into the interior of the Mediterranean Sea contributing to the atmospheric CO2 sequestration.”

          I would think that brine sinking down would encourage oxygenation of the deep water and discourage hydrogen sulfide production. Don’t know.

          Let me read this whole paper and get back to you guys:
          http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304380015003300

          Of course, the brine produced by evaporation in the Adriatic has to be a lot less concentrated the brine from reverse osmosis desalination. So, desalination brine would likely have to be diluted something like 1:10 in sea water before discharging it, I think, even if we were trying to create a carbon pump.

          Likely drying the brine for the minerals and the lithium is the best answer, like Robert was saying.

          But ever since I read about he Adriatic carbon pump I’ve been wondering if we could use solar ponds to produce brine to get more of these going. And there is the long term concern about ocean acidification, of course, that argues against creating dense water carbon pumps.

    • So the attempted solution to this is to pump the brine into a brine flat. The flat allows the salt and minerals to deposit on land as the remaining water evaporates out. In my view, the brine is a resource — sea salt and lithium are two co-production commodities that come to mind. Lithium being useful in energy storage and electric transport batteries…

      I think it’s possible to work to save these communities by providing them with desalinated water while also adding regulations and resource management strategies that take the brine pipe out and replace it with something more positive that makes use of the resources in the brine.

      Reply
  9. Cate

     /  August 9, 2016

    Wild blue mussels in the Gulf of Maine may be in trouble because of warming waters.

    “After comparing contemporary survey data with 40 years of historical benchmarks, Cascade Sorte, assistant professor of ecology & evolutionary biology at UCI, and colleagues from around the U.S. report that the blue mussel numbers have declined by more than 60 percent along the gulf coastline, which stretches from Cape Cod north to the Canadian border. The mussels used to cover as much as two-thirds of the intertidal zone, but they now cover less than 15 percent”

    “The Earth is in the midst of a biodiversity crisis,” Sorte said, “and the Gulf of Maine is one of the fastest-warming areas of the global ocean, so the impacts of ocean warming are likely to happen much sooner there….The shoreline looks completely different than it used to,” Sorte said. “Where mussels were one of the most abundant and iconic species, now barnacles and algae dominate. The local inhabitants see these changes happening before their eyes.”

    “The lesson so far …. is that key foundation species are disappearing, and this can lead to regime shifts and large-scale, even catastrophic, changes in the ecosystem,” Sorte said.

    https://news.uci.edu/research/why-are-new-englands-wild-blue-mussels-disappearing/

    Reply
    • – This is applicable in so many ways: “…key foundation species are disappearing, and this can lead to regime shifts and large-scale, even catastrophic, changes in the ecosystem” .

      Reply
  10. Colorado Bob

     /  August 9, 2016

    Trump’s loaded words fuel campaign freefall

    At a rally in North Carolina on Tuesday, Trump applied his signature sarcasm to a political third rail, stating that “the Second Amendment” may be the only way to stop Clinton from getting to appoint federal judges if she defeats him in November.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/donald-trump-campaign-statements-

    Reply
  11. Greg

     /  August 9, 2016

    Robert, is it accurate to say we are actually leaving the middle Miocene equivalent as the co2e is approaching the 500 ppm level?

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  August 10, 2016

      Greg
      I followed the collapse of the forests on the Valence Caldera in New Mexico.
      14 years ago.

      These are the oldest trees, and strongest trees in the Southwest. They are all gone.

      They did not grow back.

      Reply
    • Tricky, complex question, really. This due to how we measure ECS and exclude slow feedbacks.

      From a transient climate sensitivity (TCS) perspective (short term, fast feedback warming), absolutely. From a 100 year climate sensitivity issue, probably. From a long term climate sensitivity perspective — no if we stop burning fossil fuels and if the carbon stores (methane and CO2) behave themselves for the most part.

      The issue is that methane makes up about 70 ppm of that CO2e. Methane is short-lived and if humans stop emitting it, a big chunk drops out pretty quick unless it is re-supplied by Earth System feedbacks.

      For simplicity I’ve been using CO2 as the baseline due to its longer term global warming potential (GWP). But that’s probably too conservative and not entirely accurate either. For the 500 year timeframe, you could probably knock about 40 ppm off the current 490 CO2e for GWP. So to have a high confidence that we’ve left the Miocene and entered the Oligocene from a long-term, GWP perspective, then you probably need to get to 540 CO2e.

      Note that we hit that threshold in about 15 years at current rates of GHG additions.

      Communicating this complexity presents a number of problems. What I’ll continue to do is break it out into the CO2 and CO2e figures. Note that we’re about 18 years away from hitting the Eocene boundary threshold at 550 ppm in the full CO2e measure.

      Reply
  12. Griffin

     /  August 10, 2016

    Great photo here.

    Reply
  13. Jay M

     /  August 10, 2016

    Isn’t this what we saw with the Laurentide, ice accumulations blown away by the summer breeze?

    Reply
    • One really hot year could produce bad outcomes (warm winds and significant rainfall over the ice sheet). The dice are loading up more and more in that direction now. This particular risk is tough to handle scientifically from an ice sheet dynamic perspective — which takes past observations and attempts to apply it to future projections.

      Reply
  14. Colorado Bob

     /  August 10, 2016

    This is the top of Greenland , I’ve been watching it as well. we’re about to melt out the top .

    Terra/MODIS
    2016/222
    08/09/2016
    19:20 UTC

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  August 10, 2016

      Blue water around Greenland is in the cards. This year. The ice at the top is shattered.

      Reply
      • Cate

         /  August 10, 2016

        As we speak, the Northabout is attempting to be the first to sail right around the Arctic Ocean in a single season.

        Maybe her next voyage will be to sail around Greenland.

        Reply
    • There’s a pretty strong storm on the way for the Central Arctic in the GFS model (ECMWF doesn’t agree). A rather strong warm air slot feeding into it is expected to set up over the CAA (if the GFS bears out). Depending on how and whether this unfolds, it could certainly give the sea ice a bit of a nudge away from parts of the CAA, if not Greenland itself.

      Reply
  15. – Colorado Bob / August 10, 2016

    I followed the collapse of the forests on the Valence Caldera in New Mexico.
    14 years ago.

    – Bob, you’ve been at this for a while now.
    Is there a ‘first’ observation, or change, of climate or natural cycle that got your alarm bells ringing?
    Or, a ‘second’ that confirmed the first.
    Thx
    DT

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  August 10, 2016

      DtL –
      Pinon trees fueled the fires at Chaco Canyon. Their roofs were were hundreds of miles away. They hauled over 50,000 logs to build it. These were big trees .

      When this world collapsed , the Aztecs show up in Mexico.

      Reply
    • John S

       /  August 10, 2016

      DtL
      Late 70’s a study of 3000 beaches worldwide found 2997 had a net loss of sand, 3 gained sand.

      The engineers in our student household immediately concluded HEAT…its the only way that much of the ocean engine could be revving up.

      Wish I could remember that study whatever it was, have spent the next 40 years waiting for contrary evidence…still waiting…now living in a murdoch world run by psychopaths and other sub-humans.

      My solace is the viewpoint we can flip this in a moment when humanity’s consciousness reaches its own tipping point.

      Thank you Robert, you are one of those with their shoulder to the wheel.

      I turned my back through the 80’s, early 90’s, despair at the unyielding disinterest. It is activists like yourself that have brought me back to the fray. This is too important to not join the battle.

      As Eldridge Cleaver timelessly noted ‘There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.’

      Reply
      • Thank you, John. There’s just too many people I care for. There’s too much at stake. Every shoulder is needed at the wheel now. For my part, I promise to keep doing my best for you guys.

        Reply
  16. – USA – West Coast – So Cal

    Reply
  17. – Fire – Portugal

    Reply
    • PlazaRed

       /  August 10, 2016

      At least 4 people reported dead in these Madeira fires now, major problems with houses and a 5 star hotel burnt down.
      About 8% of the Spanish Canary Island of La Palma destroyed by fires last week.
      Over 300 wildfires in Mainland Portugal many out of control. Also a lot of fires on their Northern boarder with Spain where there are also many wildfires fires burning in the north west.
      Heavy rains in the Valencia area of Spain up to 80 liters per sq meter or about 3+ inches but moving away to the north east.

      Reply
    • Madeira wildfires: Three dead as flames reach Funchal

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-37030217

      Reply
  18. Jay M

     /  August 10, 2016

    East coast NA moisture Monday PM

    Reply
  19. – Venezuela – The mad thirst for oil .
    – Lake Maracaibo has for many years been a pincushion oil rigs. Many foreign owners doing the plundering as well.
    (The father of my first wife (1970-80) worked for Phillips Petroleum in that area.)

    Oil Smuggling Brings Environmental Disaster to Venezuela’s Economic Ruin

    The economic disaster in Venezuela caused by tumbling petroleum prices—oil production is the main industry—is also behind an environmental one. Lake Maracaibo, which sustains the Añu indigenous group, is being contaminated by oil spills and the leaky drilling infrastructure, all made worse by rampant gas smuggling. Pulitzer Center grantees Nadja Drost and Bruno Federico report on this problem for the NewsHour.

    – Transcript [partial]

    Smuggler (through translator): Sometimes, drivers will be tied up and killed. It happens to helpers, too. Soldiers get shot down, and whoever falls, falls.

    Nadja Drost: In order to traverse this frontier land with their contraband goods, smugglers have to pay off everyone, from authorities to rebels and other armed groups from the Colombian side.

    Smuggler (through translator): You pay the military, the national guard, the police, the intelligence agency, military intelligence. You even pay the Colombian guerrillas. Everyone eats from this.

    Smuggler (through translator): If you don’t pay, you will get shot, at the least.

    Nadja Drost:We arrive at a lake, where workers line up empty barrels to tow across, where they will get filled at a rudimentary gas station, loaded onto trucks and continue their journey to the other side of the border. Many people live off this trade, including the military’s national guard, who we see inspecting every vehicle, except for trucks with contraband gasoline, at a checkpoint a mere 10 miles before a closed border crossing. As we peer out from behind our tinted windows, a local accompanying us explains how contraband gets across here.

    Smuggler (through translator): Those civilians are the moscas.

    Nadja Drost: Moscas, flies, the name given to civilians buzzing around on motorbikes who act as a link between smugglers and whichever group they have to pay off. Here, it’s the military.
    http://pulitzercenter.org/reporting/oil-smuggling-brings-environmental-disaster-venezuelas-economic-ruin?utm_content=buffer7c6f4&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    Reply
    • Greg

       /  August 10, 2016

      Oil/FF corrupts and scars everything. Spoke with a brother of a friend on a visit from Venezuela. He said security forces were going house to house and robbing and worse. He wants to get out as fast as he can.

      Reply
  20. USA – Florida – Purple rain totals indicate 14 inches.

    David Roth ‏@DRmetwatch 2h2 hours ago

    Five day totals, as of 22z

    Reply
  21. Colorado Bob

     /  August 10, 2016

    Oil has made life better ?

    Reply
  22. – – FYI
    – It may take a well rested set of eyes to read the graph — it is quite detailed. I just had a quick look.

    – This Very, Very Detailed Chart Shows How All The Energy In The U.S. Is Used

    Take a master’s level course in improving your energy literacy, down to the half a percent of our energy that we use to fly military jets.

    Saul Griffith likes numbers. The serial entrepreneur and MacArthur genius once calculated the carbon footprint of every single action in his life—from buying underwear to paying taxes. Now he and a group of colleagues at Otherlab, his San Francisco-based company, have mapped out something else in obsessive detail: all of the energy used in America.

    “I think we may be the first three or four people to read every footnote in every energy agency document ever produced,” Griffith said at a recent talk when he presented the new flowchart—which is still in a somewhat rough iteration—at an event run by Reinvent, a company that brings innovators together to talk about how to reshape the world.
    http://www.fastcoexist.com/3062630/visualizing/this-very-very-detailed-chart-shows-how-all-the-energy-in-the-us-is-used

    Reply
    • Jay M

       /  August 10, 2016

      if you guys realized that the kerosine cut feeds the jets

      Reply
      • wili

         /  August 10, 2016

        Why would you assume that we don’t know that well known fact. Why is it relevant, in your eyes?

        Reply
    • Greg

       /  August 10, 2016

      “To really solve this, we have to solve a lot of things at a deep infrastructure level. You need to be civically engaged.”

      Reply
  23. Last Remaining Native Mussel In New Mexico Proposed For Protection Under The Endangered Species Act

    Commentary: Once abundant throughout rivers in southern New Mexico and the Rio Grande basin in Texas and Mexico, the Texas hornshell, a freshwater mussel, has experienced a dramatic decline. Today, it is the only native mussel remaining in New Mexico and is scarce in Texas, occupying only 15% of its historical U.S. range. Habitat fragmentation and loss as a result of impoundments and reduced water quality and quantity are negatively impacting the Texas hornshell and other freshwater mussels across the Southwest.
    http://krwg.org/post/last-remaining-native-mussel-new-mexico-proposed-protection-under-endangered-species-act

    Reply
  24. Colorado Bob

     /  August 10, 2016

    There is our question.

    Reply
  25. Andy_in_SD

     /  August 10, 2016

    For those that think humans are the brightest, and can come up with a genius fix (so we don’t have to do anything thus a no effort magic unicorn fix), I offer a cautionary tale. A genetically modified version of a bacteria which is present in the root system of every single plant in the world, which unfortunately kills it’s host (the plant) almost went to market (or got loose) in the early 90’s. The end result would have been the extermination of all plant life on the plant once propagation was complete. Like rabbits in Australia (or other such genius ideas) the consequences often outweigh the intended benefit.

    The article also does a great job of covering the why’s of our addiction to fertilizers and pesticidesas well, and how that is generally a self defeating activity as it destroys the soil.

    Klebsiella planticola– The Deadly Genetically Engineered Bacteria that Almost Got Away: A Cautionary Tale

    “In the early 1990s a European genetic engineering company was
    preparing to field test and then commercialize on a major scale a
    genetically engineered soil bacteria called Klebsiella planticola…..”

    http://online.sfsu.edu/rone/GEessays/Klebsiellaplanticola.html

    Reply
  26. Greg

     /  August 10, 2016

    I’m beginning to think Gaia is sending us a hint or two. Next thing you know, she’s going to start burning the fossil fuels below our feet to spite us. Oh wait she’s already been doing that in Centralia, Pennsylvania:

    Reply
    • Andy_in_SD

       /  August 10, 2016

      “The road melted in 09, so we repaved it”
      “Then the road melted in 11, so we repaved it”
      “Then the road melted in 12, so we repaved it”
      “Then the road melted in 13, so we repaved it”
      “Then the road melted in 14, so we repaved it”
      “Then the road melted in 15, so we repaved it”
      “Now the damn road is melting in 16”
      “What are you going to do?”
      “Repave it”

      Reply
  27. Jeremy

     /  August 10, 2016

    Humans Are Poisoning The Ocean—And It’s Poisoning Us Back

    The study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) discovered that a deadly variety of bacteria known as vibriois spreading rapidly throughout the Atlantic as a result of hotter ocean temperatures.

    Marine ecologist Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, who was not involved in the research, described the shift to theWashington Post as “an ecosystem-level effect of climate change”:

    http://www.countercurrents.org/2016/08/10/humans-are-poisoning-the-ocean-and-its-poisoning-us-back/

    Reply
  28. Greg

     /  August 10, 2016

    Makes sense. Why have a roof and then solar panels on your roof? Why not have your roof be solar panels? Another innovation taking place.
    http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Elon-Musk-raise-the-solar-roof-9132569.php

    Reply
  29. Greg

     /  August 10, 2016

    Precipitation in the next 7 days for the United States and Northern Mexico. A graphic from Jeff Masters latest post on Atmospheric rivers I’ll link to below

    Reply
  30. Cate

     /  August 10, 2016

    CBC, Canada’s self-hyping public broadcaster, maintains its record for reporting on “unusual” weather without once mentioning the words “climate change.”

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/summer-weather-canada-1.3713790

    “One of the reasons for the warm weather is El Nino, which saw a band of warm air travel along the Pacific coast.” Any other reasons for the extreme weather are routinely ignored by the CBC. What will they do when the weather gets worse and there’s no El Nino to blame it on?

    Meanwhile, Nova Scotia is on fire, Manitoba has had more tornadoes in July than they normally have in a year, Fort Mac had flash floods after 85 mm (about 3.5″) of rain fell in 2 hours, southern Ontario is under yet another day of heat warnings with the Humidex in Toronto forecast to go as high as 44C, and the list goes on.

    Reply
    • Andy_in_SD

       /  August 10, 2016

      44C heat index in TO?

      And nobody is concerned? That is the tragedy.

      Reply
      • Greg

         /  August 10, 2016

        Tornado in Manitoba too. Dog got out away from owner and is alright by the way.

        Reply
      • Cate

         /  August 10, 2016

        Andy, I think people are concerned. But no-one wants to talk about it. No-one wants to face up to what it means because the kind of trimming our carbon footprint requires is simply too painful to think about: what? Give up our monster gas-guzzling pickup trucks?? Stop flying everywhere just because we can? No. Way.

        We are in full-on ostrich mode up here.

        Reply
  31. Cate

     /  August 10, 2016

    2014, but still relevant: the first circumnavigation of the Greenland ice sheet—by kite! Important new data was collected which augments info from Greenland’s weather stations.

    “On April 10, Dixie Dansercoer (Belgium) and Eric McNair-Landry (Canada) began the Greenland ICE Expedition. Their goal: to be the first unassisted, non-motorized team to circumnavigate the Greenland icecap. At 23:35pm on June 3rd, on Day 55 of this ground-breaking expedition, they did just that….

    “As with every Polar Circles expedition, a sportive goal is not enough to complete such a rigorous adventure. Dixie and Eric carried scientific equipment with them to collect much needed data on global warming for global climate experts – this information will be used in ground-breaking research which affects us all. The research will be monitored and managed by a dedicated scientific research committee…

    “The atmospheric circulation over Greenland, which affects the air temperature and ice melt, is strongly controlled by katabatic winds – downslope flows of cold air over the ice sheet. Knowledge on the katabatic winds is incomplete due to rarity of observations. Observations from Greenland are mostly available from weather stations, where measurements are made in the lowermost 10 m of the atmosphere. Upper level observations are only made at six locations, which, except of the Summit station, are all located in the coastal zone. Finally, observations of the snowpack erosion by wind (occurring in winter/spring) have not been yet performed over Greenland until now.”

    http://www.deme-group.com/news/expedition-greenland-ice-makes-history-1st-circumnavigation-greenland-icecap

    Reply
  32. 12volt dan

     /  August 10, 2016

    I’m wondering how this heat wave is going to affect the corn belt production in the US? is it a problem yet ?

    Reply
  33. Kevin Jones

     /  August 10, 2016

    I”m not that familiar with Corpernicus ECMWF but they tweet Earth’s average surface temp sets absolute new record for July [.0.19 higher than previous record]

    Reply
    • Kevin Jones

       /  August 10, 2016

      Sorry for lack of link. Sticky machine. Copernicus ECMWF (@Copernicus
      ECMWF)| Twitter has link. I just learned that they and JMA monthly reports deal with absolute surface temperatures, compared to Hadley, NASA and NOAA doing monthly deviations. JMA and ECMWF closely agree, they say. NASA and JMA aren’t that far apart as I recall. Will be unhappily surprised if NASA comes in with new record high July anomaly……

      Reply
  34. Kevin Jones

     /  August 10, 2016

    Well, I just had a revelation.. I was heretofore unaware that anyone looked at absolute surface temperature. ECMWF explains that the northern hemisphere in July with it’s large land area which is mostly snow free at this time causes the Earth to be some 3C warmer than in January. (I recall the northern hemisphere is near 50% land as the southern is only 10-15%or so…) This also helps explain through polar wintertime amplification why NASA monthly data show greatest warming anomalies in winter and least in summer. Probably old news to some here…..

    Reply
  35. 12volt dan

     /  August 10, 2016

    I found this on the corn belt forecasts

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/48610120

    Massive US Drought Leads to Worst Fears for Corn Crop
    Patti Domm | @pattidomm
    Friday, 10 Aug 2012 | 11:36 AM ETCNBC.com

    The worst fears for the U.S. corn crop are being realized, as the government now expects the lowest yield in 17 years and a total crop about a third smaller than what was projected at the start of the growing season.
    An underdeveloped ear of corn lays amongst corn plants damaged by extreme heat and drought conditions in a field in Carmi, Illinois.
    Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
    An underdeveloped ear of corn lays amongst corn plants damaged by extreme heat and drought conditions in a field in Carmi, Illinois.

    “The massive crop problems that everyone has been estimating and fearing have come true,” said Randy Mittelstaedt, director of research at R.J. O’Brien.

    With corn prices at a record, the shrinking crop has significant implications for global food supply and consumers, as the livestock industry, food processors and ethanol producers respond to less supply at higher prices. New crop (December) corn futures hit a high of $8.34 per bushel overnight, and corn has increased nearly 50 percent since the beginning of June. On Friday, corn was trading off its highs in late morning, and soybean prices were up about 1.5 percent.

    “We had our second worst drought in almost 30 years this year. The market’s reacted and the market will be able to recover and get back to normal pricing but not until the middle of next year,” said Rich Nelson, director of research at Allendale. “For the general consumers, (it means) higher meat prices, higher dairy and higher egg prices.”

    more at link

    Reply
  36. danabanana

     /  August 10, 2016

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/p1386c/p1386c.pdf

    One of the Glaciers (Nioghalvfjerdsbræ?) on the NE coast has sped up discharge to the sea considerably in the last week.

    Reply
  37. Greg

     /  August 10, 2016

    Portugal’s Madeira island’s capital Funchal fighting a wildfire burning into the city under hot weather and high winds. Residents fled in panic and 3 lost lives. Other parts of Portugal fighting fires as well. Smoky in Lisbon.

    Reply
  38. Reply
  39. Spike

     /  August 10, 2016

    Portugal burning

    Reply
  40. “The abandoned ice sheet base at Camp Century, Greenland, in a warming climate:
    In 1959 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built Camp Century beneath the surface of the northwestern Greenland Ice Sheet. There they studied the feasibility of deploying ballistic missiles within the ice sheet. The base and its wastes were abandoned with minimal decommissioning in 1967, under the assumption they would be preserved for eternity by perpetually accumulating snowfall. Here we show that a transition in ice sheet surface mass balance at Camp Century from net accumulation to net ablation is plausible within the next 75 years, under a business-as-usual anthropogenic emissions scenario (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5). Net ablation would guarantee the eventual remobilization of physical, chemical, biological, and radiological wastes abandoned at the site. While Camp Century and four other contemporaneous ice sheet bases were legally established under a Danish-U.S. treaty, the potential remobilization of their abandoned wastes, previously regarded as sequestered, represents an entirely new pathway of political dispute resulting from climate change.”
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2016GL069688/full

    Reply
  41. Greg

     /  August 10, 2016

    How we get electricity is changing and not just the sources but how it is delivered. A story below about the battle for the 21st century for a forward looking traditional(ComEd) and a renewables company (SolarCity). Instead of piping electricity to your home or business a platform architecture will allow utilities to use their infrastructure, which connects to almost everyone, to create a market that customers can access to buy and sell energy and energy services (like storage). In such a model, “the ultimate Uber,” utilities will be compensated with fees on transactions and charges for services they provide:
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2016/08/09/solarcity-and-comed-discover-shared-vision-for-utilities-future/#3ea829c0e918

    Reply
  42. Greg

     /  August 10, 2016

    “The writing on the wall for the coal industry is clear,” wrote Joshua Pearce, a study co-author and associate professor of materials science and engineering at Michigan Technological University, in Harvard Business Review. “Young coal workers, in particular, should consider retraining for a job in solar now.” One Year of Coal CEO Pay Could Retrain Every US Miner to Work in the Solar Industry
    http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/one-year-of-coal-ceo-pay-could-retrain-all-workers-for-solar-industry

    Reply
  43. Greg

     /  August 10, 2016

    Mark your calendars and, I presume, sign up, if available where you live. Hat tip to Joe Romm we know that on October 01st National Geographic will air a second season of Years of Living Dangerously. A spectacular and star studded (David Letterman!) foray into Climate Change around the world.

    Reply
  44. Fears of starvation, disease after deadly Sudan floods

    Government estimates that more than 80,000 people have been affected by flooding that has killed 76 people so far.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/08/sudan-floods-160805164516083.html

    Reply
  45. Kevin Jones

     /  August 12, 2016

    Stand with Scientists: Tell the AGU to Drop Exxon Sponsorship

    https://act.climatetruth.org/sign/AGU?source=sci

    Reply
    • Kevin Jones

       /  August 12, 2016

      Come on all! They’re only 1,046 shy of 20,000 hoped for signatures!

      Reply
  46. Oale

     /  August 15, 2016

    Entirely possible this is mow allowed to be possible. I’d say Trump is of a different opinion along with other republicans.

    Reply

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