Did Föhn Winds Just Melt Two Miles of East Antarctic Surface Ice in One Day? 

UPDATE — Cloud Shadows and Bluish Coloration

Layer analysis of the November 27 MODIS satellite image in bands M  1-12 reveals two cloud shadows near the suspect melt pond (an issue that commentators Hendrick and Sammy raise in discussion below). The separate true color image provides comparison and generates the impression that the suspect melt pond is simply a remnant cloud shadow from the kidney-shaped cloud in the M 1-12 band image.

cloud-shadow-vs-suspect-melt-pondnon-corrected-radiance

The cloud shadows move from frame-to-frame providing a further negative confirmation.

Though it is now certain that the large blue blotch in this satellite image is not a melt pond, a bluish coloration appearing over a broad swath of the above region in both the November 27 and November 28 image frames appears to indicate the presence of surface melt. So the downsloping wind related warming may well have produced a more subtle surface melt for this region of East Antarctica.

UPDATE 2 — Small Melt Ponds Visible in Hi Res Satellite Imagery

High resolution satellite imagery confirms surface melt in the region of recent föhn wind activity on November 27 through 28. Note the ponding and bluing in this close-up shot from the S2A instrument.

small-melt-ponds-bluing

(Surface melt visible along the Scott Coast in East Antarctica. Edge of frame for the above image is approximately two miles. Hat tip to Darvince, Tealight and the Arctic Sea Ice Forum. )

So it appears that this abnormal weather/climate event did result in springtime melt in East Antarctica — if not at the scale initially feared. Still rather concerning.

*****

It’s right there in the satellite image. A swatch of blue that seems to indicate an approximate 2-mile long melt lake formed over the surface of East Antarctica in just one day. If confirmed, this event would be both odd and concerning. A part of the rising signal that melt stresses for the largest mass of land ice on the planet are rapidly increasing.

melt-pond-scott-coast-antarctica-november-27-2016

(Possible large melt lake on the surface of an ice shelf along the Scott Coast appears in this NASA satellite image. The melt lake seems to have formed after just one day during which föhn winds ran downslope from the Transantarctic Mountain Range — providing a potential period of rapid heating of the glacier surface.)

Surface Melt Now Showing Up in East Antarctica

While scientists and environmentalists are understandably concerned about ocean warming melting the undersides of sea-fronting West Antarctic glaciers — resulting in risks for rapid sea level rise for the near future, another consequence of global warming is also starting have a more visible impact on the frozen and now thawing continent. Surface melt, which was hitherto unheard of for most of East Antarctica, is now starting to pop up with increasing frequency.

East Antarctica, according to Stewart Jamieson, a glaciologist at Durham University in the U.K., is “the part of the continent where people have for quite a long time assumed that it’s relatively stable, there’s not a huge amount of change, it’s very, very cold, and so, it’s only very recently that the first supraglacial lakes, on top of the ice, were identified.”

But now, even in austral springtime, we find evidence of surface melt in the satellite record.

On November 27, 2016, what looks like an approximate 2 mile long melt pond appeared in a section of ice shelf along the Scott Coast and just North of the Drygalski Ice Tongue in the region of McMurdo Sound. The suspect lake — which is visible as a light blue swatch at center mass in the NASA-MODIS satellite image above — suddenly showed up in the November 27 satellite image along a region where only white ice was visible before. And it appears in a region of East Antarctica that, before human-forced warming altered the typically-stable Antarctic climate, had rarely, if ever, seen surface melt.

near-freezing-temps-scott-coast-fohn-winds

(Near melting point temperatures appear along the Scott Coast in conjunction with an apparent föhn wind event. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

The pond shows up coordinate with recorded near 0 C surface temperatures in the GFS monitor for November 26-27 and along with evidence of downsloping (föhn) winds. GFS indicators show downsloping winds gusting to in excess of 50 mph over the period. Such winds have the potential in increase surface temperatures by as much as 14 degrees Celsius in a matter of minutes. And they have, increasingly, produced surface glacial melt events in regions of Greenland and Antarctica during recent years.

Surface Melt as a Feature of Glacial Destabilization

Supraglacial lake is just another word for a surface glacial melt lake. And these new lakes pose a big issue for ice sheet stability. Surface melt lakes are darker than white glacier surfaces. They act as lenses that focus sunlight. And the comparatively warm waters of these lakes can flood into the glacier itself — increasing the overall heat energy of the ice mass.

nasa-greenland-surface-melt

(A NASA researcher investigates a surface melt pond in Greenland. During recent years, these climate change related features have become more common in Antarctica. Image source: NASA.)

But water at the glacier surface doesn’t just sit there. It often bores down into the ice sheet — producing impacts for months and years after the surface lake’s formation. Sub surface lakes can form in the shadow of surface ponds. Transferring heat into the glacier year after year. In other cases, water from these lakes punches all the way to the glacier’s base. There the added lubrication of water speeds the glacier’s flow. All of these processes generate stresses and make glaciers less stable. And it is the presence of surface melt ponds that has been responsible for so much of Greenland’s speeding melt during recent years.

Now, a similar process is impacting the largest concentration of land ice on the planet. And while Greenland holds enough ice to raise sea levels by around 21 feet, East Antarctica contains enough to lift the world’s oceans by about 195 feet. Surface melt there, as a result, produces considerably more risk to the coastal cities of the world.

 

Links:

NASA-MODIS (#ThanksNASA)

These Stunning Blue Lakes Give us New Reason to Worry About Antarctica

Earth Nullschool

New Maps Chart Greenland Glaciers’ Melting Risk

Hat tip to Shawn Redmond (and a special thanks for being the first here to ID the rather odd apparent melt pond forming along the Scott Coast.)

Leave a comment

101 Comments

  1. climatehawk1

     /  November 28, 2016

    Tweet scheduled.

    Reply
  2. coloradobob

     /  November 28, 2016

    Accelerated ice shelf rifting and retreat at Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica
    Authors
    Seongsu Jeong,
    Ian M. Howat,
    Jeremy N. Bassis
    First published: 28 November 2016

    Abstract

    Pine Island Glacier has undergone several major iceberg calving events over the past decades. These typically occurred when a rift at the heavily fractured shear margin propagated across the width of the ice shelf. This type of calving is common on polar ice shelves, with no clear connection to ocean-ice dynamic forcing. In contrast, we report on the recent development of multiple rifts initiating from basal crevasses in the center of the ice shelf, resulted in calving further upglacier than previously observed. Coincident with rift formation was the sudden disintegration of the ice mélange that filled the northern shear margin, resulting in ice sheet detachment from this margin. Examination of ice velocity suggests that this internal rifting resulted from the combination of a change in ice shelf stress regime caused by disintegration of the mélange and intensified melting within basal crevasses, both of which may be linked to ocean forcing.

    Link

    Reply
    • Marcusblanc

       /  November 29, 2016

      Is that a flying PIG?

      Hot off the presses as well, nice work CB.

      Reply
      • coloradobob

         /  November 29, 2016

        I just turned on the computer, Shawn did the really nice work.

        Here’s a flying PIG from the past –

        Reply
    • Abel Adamski

       /  November 29, 2016

      I believe Pine Island is actually a simmering Volcano.occasionally venting some magma which has never seemed to have much of an impact on the glacier. Last Australian expedition had some good footage of lava oozing down as they sailed past
      There are quite a number of active and simmering volcano’s in Antarctica, including the worlds tallest.

      Antarctica is a very delicate place , move the mass too much and not just rotational/tectonic changes , but also rebound from ice mass loss leading to increasing subsurface geothermal fluidity.

      The rate of change

      Increasing geothermal activity due to mass balance changes. ?

      Reply
  3. Tom

     /  November 28, 2016

    For those of you who don’t feign to know what foehn winds are:
    (wiki)
    Föhn winds can raise temperatures by as much as 14 °C (25 °F)[1] in just a matter of minutes.

    Winds of this type are also called “snow-eaters” for their ability to make snow melt or sublimate rapidly. This snow-removing ability is caused not only by warmer temperatures, but also the low relative humidity of the air mass having been stripped of moisture by orographic precipitation coming over the mountain(s).

    [further down]
    The German word “Fön” (without the “H”, but pronounced the same way), a genericized trademark, also means “hairdryer,” and the form “phon” is used in French-speaking parts of Switzerland and in Italy to mean “hairdryer” as well.

    Reply
  4. coloradobob

     /  November 28, 2016

    Zephyr is another wind that eats snow and ice
    In Greek mythology, Zephyrus was the personification of the west wind and the bringer of light spring and early summer breezes; his Roman equivalent was Favonius (hence the adjective favonian, pertaining to the west wind)

    Reply
    • Warm winds.. Warm rains… and the glaciers of the world tremble.

      Reply
    • Andy_in_SD

       /  November 29, 2016

      Chinook winds as well. For anyone who has spent time Calgary, AB, they occur from time to time and would be familiar with them.

      Reply
      • Oale

         /  November 29, 2016

        Chinook is pretty much the same as Foehn, both may rise the temperatures by 15°C (27F) overnight pretty easily.

        Reply
  5. Shawn Redmond

     /  November 28, 2016

    Thanks for the hat tip RS. The thing about this that is most worrisome is the potential SLR that may be stepped up. With our backs being pressed against the wall due to limits to growth, an increasing rate of SLR will exasperate the refugee issue. Here in Nova Scotia the rise will be less than the southern US but a meter globally will still be a lot. I realize the ocean isn’t a bathtub so SLR won’t be even due to many factors, but retreat so far does not seem to be in the vocabulary of our politicians. The financial losses many will suffer will be staggering. When the insurance industry will no longer insure the at risk real estate, will the government cover you or the bank? If these properties are no longer saleable the bank won’t accept the losses based on their past performances, i.e. 2008. After all they’re to big to fail! Where do the displaced in our own countries (western rich) go. With no money for lost investments and possibly no work prospects. Here in N.S. the thought to move approx. a dozen and a half families out of a flood prone area has been met with a resounding “go for it” by all sides and yet the monies are slow in coming. A royal pain for those without homes. In Florida do you suppose “The Donald” will have to wait as long for compensation as the poor smuck with the flooded three bedroom bungalow down the street. Will he see any at all or will it just go to the bank and leave her/him with nothing? Nothing to sell and no money for relocating. We are looking at trillions of stranded assets, Trillions. The banks aren’t going to take the hit. Denial is focusing the hit on John and Jane Doe. We have to start planning this retreat on our own. Here in N.S. when I look around the province and see the amount of infrastructure that a half metre will render useless it is just jaw dropping. Lots of buildings on ground plenty high but kilometres of road to get there are less than half a metre above average high tides (not to mention storm surges and spring tides). When the emergency services say, “we can’t guarantee service” due to the fact that they can’t see the road surface because of the breeze, even though the surface is only under fifteen centimetres of water and your well is not even affected. When this starts happening any where in North America insurance will out pace any value in flood plain real estate.It has already started actually. One or two well placed storms will likely take out what is left of FEMA at 24 billion in debt and rising. It is the home grown refugees that will likely cause the most social upheaval for us if we’re not ready for it. Fail to plan, plan to fail. We have to change the way we think!

    Reply
    • Well, we could absolutely fund FEMA and disaster response efforts and quite a lot of other things if we got our priorities straight…

      In any case, thanks for the sharp eyes, Shawn.

      Reply
      • Shawn Redmond

         /  November 29, 2016

        Thanks again Robert. Our priorities are straight, I think, its getting our respective governments in line. A task that is proving daunting to say the least. I think there is a minority that isn’t the one percenters who believe in the rape and pillage mentality of the the one percenters mentioned. Talking to the average person they seem to think there is a better way. It just needs to have a little light shone on it.

        Reply
        • Shawn Redmond

           /  November 29, 2016

          Still kicking this thing around. It maybe a red herring. Cloud shadows a distinct possibility. This would be a good thing.

  6. coloradobob

     /  November 28, 2016

    The Pine Island Glacier, which is believed to have been thinning for at least 70 years, is particularly vulnerable because it slopes downward inland, leading to the creation of “valleys” that lie below sea level.

    “The really troubling thing is that there are many of these valleys further up-glacier. If they are actually sites of weakness that are prone to rifting, we could potentially see more accelerated ice loss in Antarctica,” Howat said. “This kind of rifting behavior provides another mechanism for rapid retreat of these glaciers, adding to the probability that we may see significant collapse of West Antarctica in our lifetimes.”

    Link

    Reply
  7. Seasonal, winter weather in Southern Arizona deserts… since Nov. 19, this week is all low 60s and rain possibilities. Rain last night and some patchy fog, unusual but does happen. Big cooldown is about 3 weeks late this fall. Will be interested in seeing how long “winter” lasts through January 2017.

    May you all enjou holiday season, Sheri

    Reply
    • Thanks, Sheri. Best regards. Looks to me like a lot of ridging over the Pacific which may cause some back and forth, normal to abnormal conditions this winter. Should warm up if AO goes positive as the warm air slot will tend to expand at that time.

      Reply
  8. coloradobob

     /  November 29, 2016

    No solar plant will ever have these back end costs –

    Japan Fukushima nuclear plant ‘clean-up costs double’

    Japan’s government estimates the cost of cleaning up radioactive contamination and compensating victims of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster has more than doubled, reports say.
    The latest estimate from the trade ministry put the expected cost at some 20 trillion yen ($180bn, £142bn).
    The original estimate was for $50bn, which was increased to $100bn three years later.

    Link

    Reply
    • coloradobob

       /  November 29, 2016

      Japan Fukushima nuclear plant ‘clean-up costs double’

      This is just getting started. These numbers are just a drop in the bucket. That “Too cheap to meter” sales pitch seems rather hollow now.

      Reply
      • Shawn Redmond

         /  November 29, 2016

        Not to worry CB the Chinese have a fix! “Two Chinese firms plan to build a solar power plant in the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, which has been off limits since a devastating explosion contaminated the region with deadly radiation in 1986.”
        http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-solar-chernobyl-idUSKBN13G0DM
        And with enough thrust pigs fly just fine.

        Reply
        • I hope the Chinese won´t. Like many other places that got humans too scared to go there (other example is the militarized frontier between the Coreas), the exclusion zone around Chernobil became a wildlife haven, with rising populations of many endangered animals. Scientists feared at first that it would become a population sink, but it seems that human presence is more damaging for most species than mere radioativity, and species with less than 30 years of lifespan are clearly recovering in the area (for the more long lived species, the data is not so clear or negative).

    • Bernard

       /  November 29, 2016

      coloradobob, your comment made me curious as to how the cost broke down per kWh.

      Note: I am, in no way, saying this means the monumental screw-up at Fukushima (seriously, they had 20+ years of warnings the plant was vulnerable to a tsunami!) is acceptable, it’s just a look at the numbers.

      So: Wikipedia has some numbers for LCOE in Japan: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source#Japan

      It has solar at ¥49 per kWh (I assume the incremental cost for a solar array, with every kWh generated being ‘sold’), nuclear at ¥5-6, though there’s also an argument that nuclear should be more like ¥15/kWh – *including disaster insurance liability*. But let’s just say solar ¥49, nuclear ¥15.

      Now, the cleanup of Fukushima Daiichi is said to cost ¥20 trillion. Lets assume this isn’t covered by the disaster insurance liability in the ¥15 figure. Wikipedia also has electricity production numbers for this power station, here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_Daiichi_Nuclear_Power_Plant#Operating_history
      The table here states that the plant produced a total of 883,000 GWh of electricity from 1970-2010. Dividing appropriately (and assuming I haven’t screwed the basic arithmetic, as I often seem to manage to do), I get ¥22 per kWh for the total remediation cost. Add this to the ¥15 LCOE above, and you get ¥37/kWh, still 23% cheaper than solar.

      Caveats:
      1) the solar figure is likely to be wrong, given the reduction in solar panel prices over the past few years, so solar is likely to be much cheaper, in that respect
      2) the solar figure makes no allowance for additional storage & other infrastructure required to provide a reliable 24/7 electricity supply (throwing some wind in helps reduce this significantly, but doesn’t eliminate it). If you just consider average capacity factor (~15% in Japan for solar & wind), this could easily multiply the solar cost per kWh by six times or more
      3) an argument could be made that the nuclear LCOE (including Fukushima costs) should be calculated across the entire nuclear industry in Japan, not just one plant, which would bring the cleanup cost per kWh down by a factor of 10-12 or so.

      TL;DR: a back-of-the-envelope calc suggests that even with enormous costs associated with the Fukushima clean-up, nuclear plants have delivered cheaper electricity (purely in dollar terms)in Japan than solar is capable of, and quite possibly cheaper than wind, even if you disregard system costs to turn solar/wind into a reliable 24/7 grid supply.

      Of course, when non-monetary costs are included (or given a reasonable value), nuclear power as implemented in Japan is probably more expensive. If you ask me, the more I learn about boiling water reactors (like those at Fukushima Daiichi), the more I think they should be banned worldwide… they’re like an accident waiting to happen, with their requirement for active cooling for months after a shutdown, and their design (with the toroidal ‘wet well’) seems to make them vulnerable to damage.

      All of which is completely off the main topic of this post, which is scary enough! That’s an awful lot of meltwater… all of which is gone the following day, according to Worldview – probably drained through the ice shelf, I’d guess.

      Reply
  9. coloradobob

     /  November 29, 2016

    Mining projects, big plantations mean Bolivia’s drought hurts more: campaigners

    Campaigners also say large-scale agriculture projects, like soya and sugar cane plantations, which started in the late 1990s, have cut down Bolivia’s forests and guzzled water.

    “The big agricultural companies use water like its their own private resource,” said Gonzalo Colque, head of Tierra Foundation, a Bolivian non-governmental environment group.

    Morales has said the current crisis is an opportunity to “plan large investments” to adapt to climate change.

    Link

    Reply
    • coloradobob

       /  November 29, 2016

      “In recent years, there has been a big increase in conflicts over water in both rural and urban areas, which compete over water resources, and between indigenous groups in rural areas,” he said.

      “It’s a combination of water infrastructure that’s obsolete, poor mismanagement of the public water companies and rapid population growth in urban areas. It’s a dangerous combination.”

      Reply
    • It’s a compounding problem when corporate interests suck up water that is needed for major population centers. Similar issues in numerous regions not just isolated to South America.

      Reply
  10. coloradobob

     /  November 29, 2016

    Thirsty Somalis Trek 60 KM for Water as Drought and Conflict Bite

    NAIROBI —
    A second poor rainy season in Somalia has pushed livestock herders in the drought-hit Puntland region to trek an average of 60 km (40 miles) to fetch drinking water, aid agencies said on Monday, calling for rapid action to prevent renewed famine.

    Five million Somalis, or more than four out of ten people, do not have enough to eat because of poor rains and fighting between the Islamist militant group al Shabab and Somalia’s African Union-backed government.

    Link

    Reply
  11. coloradobob

     /  November 29, 2016

    Now back to the breathless reports on how much crap we bought online today.

    Reply
    • And how Trump tweeted something really stupid and unbelievable.

      Reply
      • coloradobob

         /  November 29, 2016

        Sahel Countries in Race Against Time to Regreen Africa’s Spreading Desert

        ‘Battle against time’

        “It’s a battle against time, because dryland forests are disappearing and climate change is really happening — and more droughts and floods will not make the work easy,” said Nora Berrahmouni, forestry officer for drylands at FAO.

        “People need to work hard and quickly to make sure that land is restored and becomes more productive, and supports livelihoods,” she told Reuters.

        Some 60 million Africans could be forced to leave their homes within five years as their land turns to desert, while two-thirds of the continent’s arable land could be lost by 2025 due to growing desertification, according to the United Nations.

        Link

        Reply
  12. coloradobob

     /  November 29, 2016

    “Get ready little lady, hell is comin’ to breakfast”

    Lone Wati

    Reply
  13. Hilary

     /  November 29, 2016

    In case there are some Scribblers who haven’t caught up with this program on Antarctic science yet, the 3rd episode is showing on 29 Nov US time:
    http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/continent-7-antarctica/

    Or if like me you don’t have access to the Nat Geo channel the 1st 2 episodes are available on youtube:
    Episode 1

    Lots of action out with the hard working scientists + excellent explanations & graphics to help illustrate points made. Episode 1 films a team working laying electronics into ice at 4000m on Mt Erebus, biologists in a inflatable endeavouring to attach a electronic monitoring tag to a whale & out on a convoy travelling -carefully- over a crevasse field on the Ross & McMurdo ice shelves.
    (Having had the privilege myself of spending 2 weeks at NZ’s Scott Base (from where this filming is based) and staying out on the ice with scientists, visiting the historic explorerers huts + a helo trip up into the Dry Valleys area, naturally this is a must see for me!)

    Reply
  14. Andy_in_SD

     /  November 29, 2016

    Not a headline one thinks of as we are almost in December…

    Tennessee wildfires threaten resort towns of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/11/28/tennessee-wildfires-evacuation-gatlinburg/94580940/

    Reply
    • Ryan in New England

       /  November 29, 2016

      Sorry Andy, I posted another link about this before I noticed this link of yours. A remarkable situation developing in Tennessee😦

      Reply
      • Andy_in_SD

         /  November 29, 2016

        don”t sweat it Ryan, it just means too much is occurring too fast

        Reply
  15. Hilary

     /  November 29, 2016

    Excellent interview with leading NZ climate scientist, Professor James Renwick, of Victoria University, (also covers what’s happening with Antarctic sea ice too):
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/201825553/what's-going-on-in-the-arctic

    This radio program has a MUCH bigger audience than the ones seeing & hearing Guy McP currently vising NZ with his “10 years max before humans are extinct so no point in doing anything except enjoy life” themes. Fortunately there is plenty of skepticism around about this, I’d hate people to take this as a reason to carry on BAU, which in my low socioeconomic neighbourhood = party party party!
    re. “Prof’s prediction – human extinction in 10 years”
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/the-country/news/article.cfm?c_id=16&objectid=11756300

    Reply
  16. Abel Adamski

     /  November 29, 2016

    https://cosmosmagazine.com/climate/trees-and-plants-reached-peak-carbon-10-years-ago

    Trees and plants have had enough. For the past few decades they’ve obliged us by guzzling ever-greater amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide every year – but now they’ve gone on a diet.
    New data shows ‘peak carbon’, when vegetation consumed its largest carbon dioxide feast, occurred in 2006, and since then appetite has been decreasing.
    “It’s the first evidence that we are tipping over the edge potentially towards runaway or irreversible climate change,” says James Curran, former chief executive of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and co-author of the study published in the journal Weather.
    The news has come as a shock. Previous estimates indicated that peak carbon would not be reached until at least 2030.
    Instead, the new data reveals that trees and plants are already 10 years beyond peak carbon. In 2014 alone, the shortfall in carbon absorption was equivalent to a year’s worth of human-produced emissions from China.

    Reply
    • Ryan in New England

       /  November 29, 2016

      That is a terrifying tipping point, and a perfect example of how we are further down this road than most people think.

      Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  November 29, 2016

        That is very concerning. Carbon absorption by plants will likely drop off rapidly with increasing heat and drought.

        Reply
    • mulga mumblebrain

       /  November 29, 2016

      Meanwhile the denialist psychotics still screech that CO2 is ‘plant food’, and the more the merrier. What does surprise me is how quiescent and impotent those in the know remain. While evil imbeciles become daily more fanatic in their efforts to destroy life on Earth, for money and ideological gratification, the rational and human fraction of humanity still wrings its hands impotently, and puts its trust in politicians who lie about everything, and always end up serving the money power. You can see, I suppose, how easy it was to run the extermination camps under Nazism, only, of course, this time the gas-chamber is global in extent.

      Reply
  17. Abel Adamski

     /  November 29, 2016

    It is interesting what went into creating the world conducive to life as we know it.
    Strangely the Sumerian creation of the solar system mythology nailed it pretty much to a T

    The invader planet that struck earth – the mythology identifies that as Venus which is why its rotation is dfferent than all other planets.

    Then about 4.5 Billion years ago the planet that was in the slot where the asteroid belt is now was destroyed by a rogue planet .
    It is the massive meteor and asteroid showers earth was pummeled with 4.5 billion years ago that replenished our carbon and gave us the surface metals that we have mined and needed.
    All of earths heavy elements as with all forming planets were drawn by gravity to the core in the molten ball

    https://cosmosmagazine.com/geoscience/planet-smash-delivered-carbon-to-earth-4-4-billion-years-ago-study

    If carbon sizzled away during the planet’s early days, where did life come from? Researchers in the US and China have an explanation

    Reply
  18. Really weird… tweaking the settings slightly on EOSDIS it seems another big melt pond suddenly appears on land on the same day (there’s a small one NE and another large one due N). All three are not there the day before… https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov/?p=antarctic&l=MODIS_Aqua_CorrectedReflectance_TrueColor,MODIS_Terra_CorrectedReflectance_TrueColor(hidden),Graticule,AMSR2_Sea_Ice_Concentration_12km(hidden),Coastlines&t=2016-11-27&z=3&v=392091.840259023,-1620629.859000016,607131.840259023,-1507605.859000016

    Reply
  19. mhmm, all three gone just as quickly as they came on the 28th; cloud shadows maybe?

    Reply
  20. Suzanne

     /  November 29, 2016

    “Serious Changes Possible for National Security Policies on Climate Change”
    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/serious-changes-possible-for-national-security-policies-on-climate-change/

    The military and intelligence communities may soon turn a blinder eye toward some climate change-related threats, indicated by President-Elect Donald Trump’s recent choices of climate-change skeptics for national security jobs, along with his own dismissive comments. But though experts say Trump and his team could roll back some recent initiatives, the momentum of bureaucracy, along with a military need to take the long view, mean climate-related plans are unlikely to be abandoned entirely.

    Reply
    • Abel Adamski

       /  November 29, 2016

      Bitten bums focus attention

      Reply
    • mulga mumblebrain

       /  November 29, 2016

      Military and intelligence recognition of climate destabilisation only amounts to studying its efficacy in undermining target states, as the USA did in regard to Syria after its long drought.

      Reply
      • Not correct. The military does stability and support assessments for impacted states as well. This is particularly true with the Pacific region. RE Syria — Assad has long been seen as a threat. However, U.S. action there was never intended to develop extremists like ISIS, although interference may have had some knock on impacts to this effect. It is worth noting that US military humanitarian concern for Syria has grown considerably as instability worsened and efforts under Obama have been intended to quell cascading impacts to the already stressed civilian populace.

        Reply
  21. Ryan in New England

     /  November 29, 2016

    Here we are about to start December, and the Smoky Mountains are literally smoking.

    A massive wildfire in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has forced evacuations in and around the Tennessee resort towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
    At least 30 structures were on fire in Gatlinburg over Monday night, according to WVLT, the CBS station in Knoxville. Mandatory evacuations were ordered and the National Guard was mobilized to Sevier County.
    Dolly Parton’s Dollywood resort in Pigeon Forge was also evacuated, although the fire had not yet reached the property, the station reported.
    “We were just told by the Gatlinburg Fire Department that they had told everybody in Gatlinburg to get out,” Judy Tucker, director of Sevier County’s E-911 call center, told the Knoxville News Sentinel. “… No one’s getting through to anyone. Phones are ringing and not being answered anywhere. It’s chaos.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tennessee-fire-evacuations-gatlinburg_us_583d32c0e4b04b66c01b9ffc

    Reply
  22. Suzanne

     /  November 29, 2016

    Record Coral kill off on Great Barrier Reef..
    http://phys.org/news/2016-11-coral-kill-off-great-barrier-reef.html
    A mass bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef this year killed more corals than ever before, scientists said Tuesday, sounding the alarm over the delicate ecosystem.

    The 2,300-kilometre (1,400-mile) long reef—the world’s biggest—suffered its most severe bleaching in recorded history, due to warming sea temperatures during March and April, with the northern third bearing the brunt.

    Follow-up underwater surveys, backing earlier aerial studies, have revealed a 700-kilometre stretch of reefs in the less-accessible north lost two-thirds of shallow-water corals in the past eight to nine months.

    “Most of the losses in 2016 have occurred in the northern, most-pristine part of the Great Barrier Reef,” said Terry Hughes, head of the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.

    Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-11-coral-kill-off-great-barrier-reef.html#jCp

    Reply
    • mulga mumblebrain

       /  November 29, 2016

      And Pauline Hansen and her hyper-denialist comrade, Roberts,( a coal engineer who repeats like a demented parrot, that ‘ There is no empirical evidence of global warming’,) whose racist, moronic, One Nation (don’t you love the bumpkin fascism of these cretins)Party holds the balance of power in our Senate, went to an unaffected (for now) section of the reef, in the lower Great Barrier Reef, and cackled that the entire G.B.Reef was fine, there was no bleaching, and the whole thing was a conspiracy by the UN. If you think Trump is an imbecile, I’ll put ours up against yours any day.

      Reply
      • Abel Adamski

         /  November 30, 2016

        What the media fail to tell you is that where she went is at a major resort island where 10’s of thousands of tourists have visited over the years and they all know the reality that at that section of the GBR the coral reefs are far further from land and deeper than where the photo op happened. After all so many of them would have taken a reef tour to that farther deeper location.
        That is apart from the fact it is in what is recognised as the relatively unscarred this time southern section of the reef

        Raises the point, who are the morons. ?

        Reply
  23. Fully 20m of sea level rise equivalent of ice in the EAIS is comprised of marine ice sheets resting on submarine basins as much as 1500m below sea level.

    “East Antarctic meltwater ponds seen for first time

    Published on Sep 27, 2016
    Previously thought to be barely affected by the formation of meltwater ponds, new research has shown East Antarctica experienced large numbers of supraglacial lakes developing during the summer months of every year between 2000 and 2013.

    Ice shelves act as buttresses for the glaciers behind which drain the ice sheets. The surface melting observed in East Antarctica enhances hydro-fracturing of these shelves which are being melted from below as well by warming oceans.

    Reply
  24. I recently had an email exchange with the glaciologists Richard Alley and Eric Rignot, and NASA’s former lead climate scientist James Hansen

    It was regarding Thwaites Glacier, the weak underbelly of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) where 3m of sea level rise worth of ice is hanging onto mountain tops by its fingernails (and according to Alley, where debris evidence indicates in the past a section of the ice sheet has jumped and moved quickly after losing its grip on land).

    I’d asked them about the Scripps Oceanographic Institute professor Jeremey Jackson’s statement at the US Naval War College in 2015 that in a few decades the WAIS could “break” and deliver 10 feet of sea level rise “in a few years.”

    Alley’s response”I ąm cautiously optimistic that it would be
    decades, not years, but there are some large unknowns.”

    Hansen’s response, “The details remain unclear, but whether multimeter sea level rise occurs over a few decades or a few years probably doesn’t matter too much — it means loss of coastal cities in either case — it is hard to imagine construction of barriers to keep out rising sea level in most places.”

    And Rignot, “It would take a century to break up Thwaites completely. Its basin and surrounding basins contain 3 feet of global sea level change but its collapse would entrain the collapse of the remainder of west antarctica which contains 10 feet of sea level change. That whole process would take of the order of 1-2 centuries, not decades, not years. 10 feet of sea level change in a few years is impossible.”

    Given the uncertainty among experts as to the time scales involved for future sea level rise rates, we need to be a lot more careful than we’ve been.

    Alley gives a very interesting talk on sea level rise from 2012. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4oMsfa_30Q

    Reply
    • It’s a real concern. If, for example, you have West Antarctica, Greenland, and East Antarctica all contributing, then Century and decadal sea level rise rates can get pretty rough. I think that Rignot is right in that individual glacial basins like Thwaites and PIG will probably take a bit longer. But if you have multiple large basins responding in the same way, the net SLR picture on a global scale can look rather bad. There’s a bit of risk that things go faster than expected RE glaciers. That said, I think I should probably update the above with a caveat or two. Best.

      Reply
  25. richardhendricks

     /  November 29, 2016

    I think these are cloud shadows, as Sammy said above. Look at the link and you can see the clouds to the right of the dark shadows. The clouds are white on the right half and dark on the left half, as expected for where the shadows are on the ground. The cloud for the northern shadow is a bit hard to see against the topography, but the bottom cloud is clear as a kidney-shaped structure.

    Reply
    • Possible. There are quite a lot of clouds in the Nov 28 and 29 images so we have no second pass confirmation.

      Reply
      • richardhendricks

         /  November 29, 2016


        Not possible, definite. I think we’re screwed, climate-wise, but those are definitely cloud shadows.

        Reply
    • Just wanted to thank you again for the follow-up. For my part, it’s a bit of a relief that this was a false positive and, at absolute worst, produced more minor surface melt.

      Reply
  26. Just a general note — the suspect melt lake remains unconfirmed. Two passes by MODIS on Nov 28 and 29 show cloud cover over the suspect region. Will update post once solid confirmation/non-confirmation is given.

    Reply
  27. June

     /  November 29, 2016

    Just wow…the man is ignorant of the constitution and supreme court decisions about right to protest, and it looks like he will govern by impulsive, throw-red-meat to the right wingers, tweets. I don’t think he could formulate a thoughtful, nuanced thought if his life depended on it. The NY Times had no mention of it, but at least the Washington Post did. Even Scalia upheld the right to burn the flag as a form of protest, and another Supreme Court decision rejected the use of stripping citizenship as a form of criminal punishment.

    Trump proposes stripping citizenship from political protesters

    https://thinkprogress.org/trump-citizenship-flag-40df1ef1da6a#.4kszqo5p4

    Reply
  28. This came up on Fukushima a month ago, and since others have brought it up in this thread I thought I’d add more…dang it all anyway.

    Fukushima Cover Up
    by Robert Hunziker

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/10/31/fukushima-cover-up/

    It is literally impossible for the world community to get a clear understanding of, and truth about, the Fukushima nuclear disaster. This statement is based upon The Feature article in Columbia Journalism Review (“CJR”) d/d October 25, 2016 entitled: “Sinking a Bold Foray Into Watchdog Journalism in Japan” by Martin Fackler.

    The scandalous subject matter of the article is frightening to its core. Essentially, it paints a picture of upending and abolishing a 3-year attempt by one of Japan’s oldest and most liberal/intellectual newspapers, The Asahi Shimbun (circ. 6.6 mln) in its effort of “watchdog journalism” of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. In the end, the newspaper’s special watchdog division suffered un-preannounced abrupt closure.

    The CJR article, whether intentionally or not, is an indictment of right wing political control of media throughout the world. The story is, moreover, extraordinarily scary and of deepest concern because no sources can be counted on for accurate, truthful reporting of an incident as powerful and deadly dangerous as the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima. Lest anybody in class forgets, three nuclear reactors at Fukushima Diiachi Nuclear Power Plant experienced 100% meltdown, aka The China Syndrome over five years ago.

    The molten cores of those reactors melted down to a stage called corium, which is a lumpy hunk of irradiating radionuclides so deadly that robotic cameras are zapped! The radioactivity is powerful, deadly and possessed of frightening longevity, 100s of years. Again for those who missed class, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) has no idea where those masses of sizzling hot radioactive goo are today. Did they burrow into the ground? Nobody knows, but it is known that those blobs of radioactivity are extraordinarily dangerous, as in deathly, erratically spewing radioactivity “who knows where”?

    Fukushima is a national/worldwide emergency that is the worst kept secret ever because everybody knows it is happening; it is current; it is alive; it is deadly; it has killed (as explained in several prior articles) and will kill many more as well as maim countless people over many decades (a description of radiation’s gruesomeness follows later on in this article).

    Yet, the Abe administration is talking to Olympic officials about conducting Olympic events, like baseball, in Fukushima for Tokyo 2020. Are they nuts, going off the deep end, gone mad, out of control? After all, TEPCO readily admits (1) the Fukushima cleanup will take decades to complete, if ever completed, and (2) nobody knows the whereabouts of the worlds most deadly radioactive blobs of sizzling hot masses of death and destruction, begging the question: Why is there a Chernobyl Exclusion Zone of 1,000 square miles after one nuclear meltdown 30 years ago, but yet Fukushima, with three meltdowns, each more severe than Chernobyl, is already being repopulated? It doesn’t compute!

    The short answer is the Abe administration claims the radioactivity is being cleaned up. A much longer answer eschews the Abe administration by explaining the near impossibility of cleaning up radioactivity throughout the countryside. There are, after all, independent organizations with boots on the ground in Fukushima (documented in prior articles) that tell the truth, having measured dangerous levels of radiation throughout the region where clean up crews supposedly cleaned up.

    The Columbia Journalism Review article, intentionally or not, paints a picture of “journalism by government decree” in Japan, which gainsays any kind of real journalism. It’s faux journalism, kinda like reading The Daily Disneyworld Journal & Times.

    Based upon the CJR article: “The hastiness of the Asahi’s retreat raised fresh doubts about whether such watchdog journalism— an inherently risky enterprise that seeks to expose and debunk, and challenge the powerful—is even possible in Japan’s big national media, which are deeply tied to the nation’s political establishment.”

    Japan’s journalists belong to “press clubs,” which are exclusively restricted to the big boys (and girls) from major media outlets, where stories are hand-fed according to government officialdom, period. It is the news, period! No questions asked, and this is how Asahi got into trouble. They set up a unit of 30-journalists to tell the truth about Fukushima and along the way won awards for journalism, until it suddenly, abruptly stopped. A big mystery ensues….

    According to the CJR article, “The Investigative Reporting Section [Asahi] proved an instant success, winning Japan’s top journalism award two years in a row for its exposure of official cover-ups and shoddy decontamination work around the nuclear plant.”

    Furthermore, according to the CJR article: “The abrupt about-face by the Asahi, a 137-year-old newspaper with 2,400 journalists that has been postwar Japan’s liberal media flagship, was an early victory for the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which had sought to silence critical voices as it moved to roll back Japan’s postwar pacifism, and restart its nuclear industry.”

    And, furthermore, the truth be told: “In Japanese journalism, scoops usually just mean learning from the ministry officials today what they intend to do tomorrow,’ says Makoto Watanabe, a former reporter in the section who quit the Asahi in March because he felt blocked from doing investigative reporting. ‘We came up with different scoops that were unwelcome in the Prime Minister’s Office.”

    It comes as no surprise that Reporters Without Borders lowered Japan’s rating from 11th in 2010 (but one has to wonder how they ever got that high) to 72nd in this years annual ranking of global press freedoms, released on April 20, 2016.

    Koichi Nakano, a professor of politics at Sophia University in Tokyo, says: “Emasculating the Asahi allowed Abe to impose a grim new conformity on the media world.”

    When considering the awards Asahi won during its short foray into investigative journalism, like Japan’s equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for reporting about a gag-order on scientists after the Fukushima disaster and the government’s failure to release information about radiation to evacuating residents, now that Asahi has been forced to put a lid on “investigative journalism” and it must toe the line in “press clubs,” any and all information about the dangers or status of Fukushima are ipso facto suspect!

    The world is dead silent on credible information about the world’s biggest disaster! (Which causes one to stop and think… really a lot.)

    The evidence is abundantly clear that there is no trustworthy source of information about the world’s biggest nuclear disaster, and likely one of the biggest dangers to the planet in human history. However, time will tell as radiation exposure takes years to show up in the human body. It’s a silent killer but cumulates over time. Fukushima radiation goes on and on, but nobody knows what to do. To say the situation is scandalous is such a gross understatement that it is difficult to take it as seriously as it really should be taken. But, it is scandalous, not just in Japan but for the entire planet.

    After all, consider this, 30 years after the fact, horribly deformed Chernobyl Children are found in over 300 asylums in the Belarus backwoods deep in the countryside. Equally as bad but maybe more odious, as of today, Chernobyl radiation (since 1986) is already affecting 2nd generation kids.

    According to USA Today, Chernobyl’s Legacy: Kids With Bodies Ravaged by Disaster, April 17, 2016: “There are 2,397,863 people registered with Ukraine’s health ministry to receive ongoing Chernobyl-related health care. Of these, 453,391 are children — none born at the time of the accident. Their parents were children in 1986. These children have a range of illnesses: respiratory, digestive, musculoskeletal, eye diseases, blood diseases, cancer, congenital malformations, genetic abnormalities, trauma.”

    It’s taken 30 years for the world, via an article in USA Today, to begin to understand how devastating, over decades, not over a few years, radiation exposure is to people. It is a silent killer that cumulates in the body over time and passes from generation to generation to generation, endless destruction that cannot be stopped!

    Reply
  29. coloradobob

     /  November 29, 2016

    Save Our Snowmen | A Film About Climate Change

    Reply
  30. Cate

     /  November 29, 2016

    It’s just—-I can’t—even.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/federal-cabinet-trudeau-pipeline-decisions-1.3872828

    Darkness is gathering in the North.

    Reply
    • June

       /  November 29, 2016

      Another “leader” leading us right over the cliff, Cate. And in the article he says Canada will still be a climate leader. The hypocrisy is breathtaking. You were right…talking one thing, doing another.

      Reply
      • Cate

         /  November 29, 2016

        June, it’s always been two sides of his mouth—a forked tongue—with him.

        The sad thing is, I believe his heart in the right place, but he is taking orders from his corporate masters. You could almost see the desperation on his face as he made the announcement, almost as if he wanted to shout, “Don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger, this is not my decision, it’s theirs, they’re making me do it.” He was mouthing words that he didn’t believe. And yet, he followed orders. The layers of lies, the depth of deceit, is breathtaking.

        Reply
    • Hmm. Looks like Trudeau canceled one pipeline, which is decent news, and then approved two more, which is bad news. A silver lining is that one of the approved pipelines will face a stiff uphill battle. Still not looking very good.

      I am still hammering away at this info-dense global drought report. Trying to winnow it down a bit.

      Reply
      • Cate

         /  November 30, 2016

        Oh, he’ll get a big pushback on this. We are hearing “Standing Rock North”.

        Reply
        • Thank goodness. In the current age, I think we should try to support a more formal network for supporting fellow environmentalists around the world. This, in my opinion, should include organizations and groups aimed at legally and physically protecting protesters on the ground. I shudder to think what may happen if an ‘armed mob’ of right wingers in this country actively confronts an environmental group and law enforcement just looks the other way. The climate is getting pretty bad. We need more than traditional structures to protect us.

  31. Ryan in New England

     /  November 30, 2016

    I accidentally posted this as a reply to the Richard Alley video above. It’s a video of a frightening evacuation through the Tennessee wildfires.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tennessee-wildfire-video_us_583da84ee4b0860d61167bdf

    Reply
  32. Darvince

     /  November 30, 2016

    While the supposed melt pond was actually a cloud shadow, there was still a massive increase in melt concentration across the glacier due to exactly what you speculated:
    http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,622.msg95329.html#msg95329

    Reply
  33. Geert

     /  November 30, 2016

    Hi Robert, thank you for this website. It makes clear a lot what’s going on on this planet.
    The Netherlands and Belgium have made a 6 part movie called ‘If the dikes break’, trying to have made a realistic view of what happens if by a superstorm the dykes/dikes in the Netherlands and Belgium (the low countries) break, and when a call for evacuation comes to late… Maybe it will be translated in English in future.

    I’ve seen the first 4 parts, and it is pretty scaring, realising what I know what will happen in soon future with coastal areas.
    Half of the Netherlands lays below Atlantic Sealevel, 10 million people live there (of Total population of 17 million).
    What came very nearby ‘home’ was what was Said in part three of the movie where it said ‘the village of Waddinxveen does not exist anymore’… the village of about 30,000 inhabitants, 4 to 7 meters below sealevel nowadays, the village where I also live at this moment…

    if sealevel will rise with 3 meters the Netherlands must withdraw and leave behind more than half of its country… and of course would be bankrupt.

    Reply
  34. Amazing! Expecting worst!

    Reply
  1. In Antarctic Summer, Signs of Accelerating Melt | Climate Denial Crock of the Week

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