January Arctic Sea Ice Volume is Lowest On Record by a Considerable Margin

Almost continuous warm, moist air invasions of the Arctic during fall and winter of 2016 and 2017 have resulted in the lowest sea ice refreeze rates on record. As a result, the amount of ice covering sections of the Northern Hemisphere ocean is now remarkably lower than during past comparable periods. In other words, we’ve never seen a winter in which Northern Hemisphere sea ice was so weak and reduced.

One key measure, sea ice volume, has shown particular losses when compared to past years. And even taking into account a long term trend of ice losses for the northern polar region that has been ongoing since the 20th Century, the 2016-2017 losses stand out like a flashing red indicator light. A trend directly related to the human-forced warming of our world through fossil fuel burning and related greenhouse gas emissions.

piomas-sea-ice-volume

(Significant sea ice losses during the winter of 2016-2017 show up clearly in the above PIOMAS graph. PIOMAS is a model measure of sea ice volume. And as you can well see when looking at the red line at the left hand side of the graph, the departure from past years is currently quite large. Image source: PIOMAS.)

In the above PIOMAS graph we find that January sea ice volume averaged around 14,000 cubic kilometers. This reading is roughly comparable to the early July average for the period of 1979 through 2016 — a time when the Arctic saw continuous declines in sea ice. The present reading is also about 1,500 cubic kilometers below the previous record low for the month of January set in 2013. And anyone looking at the above graph can well see that the departure is significantly below the trend line (about 8,000 cubic kilometers below the falling 38 year average for this time of year).

It’s worth reiterating that these are the lowest sea ice volumes ever seen for this time of year in the Arctic. A new record that comes after consistent new record lows occurring throughout the past 38 year period.

Presently, approximate 5 C above average temperatures are dominating the region above the 66 North Latitude. Over the coming days, a pair of warm air invasions of the North Pole region near 90 N are expected to push temperatures to more than 30 degrees Celsius above average and to near the melting point on two separate occasions. This pair of, not at all normal, events will likely produce additional sea ice losses in a polar region that is already seeing very unusual low sea ice concentrations, volumes and extents.

image

(Warm storm invasions of the northern polar region that inject high heat content, ice-melting moisture and far above average temperatures into the High Arctic have been a frequent occurrence over recent months. By February 10, GFS models predict that another such storm will push temperatures to more than 30 degrees Celsius above average for the North Pole and surrounding regions. This will produce yet one more powerful blow to sea ice attempting to rebuild in the region. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

After these events roar through, the Jet Stream is predicted to flatten somewhat — allowing cooler air to re-establish over the Central Arctic as warmer air invades the mid-latitudes. As a result, air temperature anomalies in the 66 N and above region are expected to fall back to a range of 1 to 2 C above average in the 7 to 14 day timeframe. Such a return to closer to normal conditions may allow for more short-term bounce-back toward previous record low ranges in the volume measure. But a much longer period of closer to average conditions would be required for a full recovery.

Overall, refreeze season tends to last until April. So some time does remain for a bit of recovery. And we have seen extent measures trend closer to past record lows over recent days. However, considering the massive losses experienced during fall-winter of 2016-2017, two months is unlikely enough time to produce a significant recovery even if cooling to more reasonable above average temperatures were to occur and remain in place for an extended period.

Links:

PIOMAS

Earth Nullschool

Climate Reanalyzer

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108 Comments

  1. Ryan in New England

     /  February 8, 2017

    This is been an absolutely crazy Winter in the Arctic. Well done bringing attention to this, Robert. Even if we have ideal ice forming conditions for the next two months, the melt season will start will severely degraded and reduced ice. When you consider how much of the past 12 months have been spent in record low territory it certainly feels like we are witnessing a tipping point being reached in real time.

    Reply
    • lesliegraham1

       /  February 9, 2017

      There is a lot of annual fluctuation in the Arctic. Too early to tell if this is a ‘tipping point’ or just natural variation on top of the global warming.
      I agree though – it’s been an incredible winter. I’ve been a full-on Arctic sea ice nerd for about 12 years now and I’ve never seen anything even close to these temperatures. Some areas have been 30C warmer (!) than what used to be ‘normal’ – for long periods at that.

      Reply
      • Ryan in New England

         /  February 9, 2017

        You’re absolutely correct about the wild fluctuations from year to year, and the fact that a year or two doesn’t provide enough data to determine whether or not a new trend has emerged, although the long term trend is clear and undeniable. What has really stuck out in my mind (as a self proclaimed sea ice nerd I’m sure you’re well versed in what I’m about to say) has been the heat we’ve been seeing in the Arctic the past year or so. It started in December 2015 when it was above freezing and raining at the North Pole on Christmas. The thought of above freezing temps in the depth of Winter at the pole seemed unthinkable just a couple years ago. And this past Summer saw a great deal of melt, despite unfavorable conditions for melting. And this Winter has been far worse. We’ve seen numerous times when the temperature has risen to the freezing point, with large areas (as you pointed out) experiencing temperatures far above normal. And now we’re at a point where sea ice is having trouble forming in Winter! This years January ice volume is lower than what used to be normal September volumes! A weakened jet stream that allows more heat to be delivered to the Arctic, more heat in the increasingly ice free ocean, and more dark ocean/land absorbing sunlight (when the sun returns) and there just isn’t enough cold left to overcome this heat and preserve the ice.

        The thing about tipping points is that you don’t recognize them until they’ve passed. And we won’t know what this particular year represents until it’s far behind us. All I’m saying is that if we were in the middle of a transition to a radically different Arctic, we would likely see all of the unprecedented changes and conditions that we are currently witnessing.

        Reply
      • I think it’s probably fair to say that we are in a period of very strong polar amplification leading up to ice sheet response. In the 1 to 2 C temperature range, I think there is room for strong positive feedbacks due to albedo loss and some extra kick from carbon sinks/stores. I think we see these feedbacks now in the extreme T deltas we are seeing in the Arctic relative to the rest of the world. Such feedbacks are enough, at least, to wag a number of ENSO teleconnections off their usual baselines as well as produce the ridiculous zonal anomaly signal we see today.

        Once the ice sheets really get involved — at around 1.5 to 2 C — you get a negative feedback at the surface due to the fresh water lens effect. This is considerable enough to temporarily (on a decadal scale) stall surface warming as rate of heat build up in the middle and deep ocean rapidly increases.

        We are in the 1 to 2 C ramp range now.

        Reply
      • mulga mumblebrain

         /  February 10, 2017

        Leslie, we’ve flipped into the Age of Climate Chaos, driven by the heat accumulated in the oceans during the phony hiatus. The seas are DYING, very rapidly, and when they go, battered by warming, pollution, over-fishing, trawling, anoxic ‘dead zones’ etc, so do we.

        Reply
        • lesliegraham1

           /  February 11, 2017

          Well that is pretty much a given and there is ample evidence for this but it is not even remotely relevant to what I said.

          I was merely pointing out that, in my long experience, the Arctic ice extent will make fools of anyone trying to predict what is about to happen even a month or two ahead let alone claims that we have reached a ‘tipping point’.

          There is simply not enough evidence over a long enough period of time to say that this is what is happening now. It might well be but, on the other hand, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Arctic extent and volume increased markedly over the coming decade. The projections for an ice free Arctic are for about 30 or 40 years hence.

          We simply don’t know and making claims and projections that are not supported by evidence or trends plays straight into the hands of the fossil fuel lobby when they don’t occur.

  2. Ryan in New England

     /  February 8, 2017

    A piece by Bill McKibben about the war the Trump team is waging on America, the environment, etc.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/07/trump-administration-white-house-steve-bannon-influence

    Reply
  3. climatehawk1

     /  February 8, 2017

    Tweet scheduled.

    Reply
  4. Andy Lee Robinson

     /  February 8, 2017

    Arctic Death Spiral really shows January’s average volume in context – it is lower now in mid-winter than what most Septembers were in the 80s!

    Reply
  5. Tigertown

     /  February 8, 2017

    Dr. Judah Cohen has predicted another weakening of the vortex later in the month.
    This will most likely mean the cool Arctic air leaving the Arctic and warmer air taking it’s place.
    https://www.aer.com/science-research/climate-weather/arctic-oscillation
    Excerpt;
    “As I wrote previously in the blog, my expectations were for the current SSW/weak PV event to be prolonged with multiple stages despite a quick recovery in the PV predicted by the Global forecast System (GFS). The GFS forecasts have now reversed and are predicting that the PV will not fully recover in the next two weeks and instead will further weaken the third week of February. My expectations for further weakening of the PV were in large part based on our experimental PV forecast model that showed one weakening at the end of January and a second stronger weakening in mid-February. At least based on recent model runs a further weakening of the PV is predicted that could even result in a PV split.”

    Reply
  6. Greg

     /  February 8, 2017

    And does this look like a typical radar image for February? The same line that brought the tornado to New Orleans earlier today, I believe.

    Reply
      • Tigertown

         /  February 8, 2017

        Not to downplay what it did in New Orleans today.

        Reply
        • Shawn Redmond

           /  February 8, 2017

          I don’t see reporting any damage anywhere as down playing TT. On the contrary the more of it that gets reported anywhere the better. If MSM was reporting like it should be they would fill entire cycles with the carnage globally. There is probably more than enough to have entirely new pics/stories of different areas every day, and different causes, within the CC umbrella. Without even going so far as linking CC to our extractive practices, not that they would have to for any that are even a little curious.

          To the topic at hand. The Nares Strait isn’t forming ice bridges this year. With open water, wind and wave action softening the southern edge of the Lincoln Sea and the southern end of the strait, not encouraging. The movement of the ice up and down the strait also seems like new behaviour. No end to the horror stories at both of the poles and everywhere in between.

    • More like late March or early April…

      Reply
  7. earthquakes increasing from ocean level rising.

    Reply
  8. The NSIDC monthly summary for January is up.
    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

    Amazing!

    Reply
  9. And January sea ice extent is hot on its heels (http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/). Barring a serious reversal of trend, I’d be surprised if we’re not in for another record low year – sea ice in the Arctic is in poor shape, there’s virtually no thick multi-year ice left (https://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/hycomARC/navo/arcticictnnowcast.gif)

    Reply
  10. Shawn Redmond

     /  February 8, 2017

    I don’t believe that we can expect any recovery of multi (MYI) year ice ever again which historically the biggest contributor to volume. Moving forward the volume we will see will be one and two year ice. The storms of the past couple of years have broken apart the MYI to the point that it now transports it around the Arctic at will. Export is happening year round. 1 and 2 year ice won’t hold through one melting season if it’s not in the Lincoln Sea close to land. Now,as the MYI is removed, it is unable to stay there as the currents can move the badly fractured ice year round. The past couple of years show an amazing reduction in MYI. The volume growth during the freezing season will be 1st and 2nd year ice only and worth about as much as Hudson’s Bay to the sea ice volume and global climate. As a matter of opinion Hudson’s Bay may well be the last place to lose its winter ice due to the shifting Polar Vortex. If/when the Arctic ocean becomes open and the displaced vortex resides mostly over the continents the Bay and the Canadian Archipelago and possibly some of the Lincoln Sea will likely be the only reliable winter ice left. With the exception of the Lincoln Sea these melt out every summer. With the now normalizing of winter storms over the ocean, the ice that holds through the summer in the Lincoln will easily be moved to the loading docks for export, not allowing build up of MYI. I believe the sluggish behaviour of the global climate sensitivity through the 20th century has humanity thinking this is as fasts it gets. The small, from human perspective, rise in global ocean temperature is proving to be a bigger deal than expected. The next couple of decades are likely to cause great hardships for humanity and give us, collectively, cause to reflect on our place in the universe and our roll on this planet. That roll is not the one of domination that we have, so far, played. Our present path of greed and lust for power will surely lead to the extinction of everything that weighs more than 20kgs.

    Reply
    • Totally agree, Shawn – my guess is the effects will soon be felt more strongly in most households as more frequent food price explosions and food shortages are on the cards due to ruined harvests.

      Reply
    • But then climate deniers will probably find something good in that too:

      (I’ve not mastered the art of adding a picture to the comment)

      Reply
    • Cate

       /  February 8, 2017

      Shawn, I agree re the MYI. It’s not coming back, not without some kind major multi-year cool-down, surely—which I suppose could happen in the form of massive volcanic activity or nuclear winter: one catastrophe averted by another, anyone? The Arctic as we knew it is finished. It’s so hard to face that fact, to wrap one’s head around the implications. You’re right about the role of the worst aspects of human nature in bringing us to this terrible crisis. I can only hope your ultimate forecast is wrong and meanwhile do what I can to support action in the time still available.

      Reply
  11. Abel Adamski

     /  February 8, 2017

    A most interesting and enlightening article on the Conversation.

    http://theconversation.com/meet-el-ninos-cranky-uncle-that-could-send-global-warming-into-hyperdrive-72360

    You’ve probably heard about El Niño, the climate system that brings dry and often hotter weather to Australia over summer.

    You might also know that climate change is likely to intensify drought conditions, which is one of the reasons climate scientists keep talking about the desperate need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the damaging consequences if we don’t.

    El Niño is driven by changes in the Pacific Ocean, and shifts around with its opposite, La Niña, every 2-7 years, in a cycle known as the El Niño Southern Oscillation or ENSO.

    But that’s only part of the story. There’s another important piece of nature’s puzzle in the Pacific Ocean that isn’t often discussed.

    It’s called the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation, or IPO, a name coined by a study which examined how Australia’s rainfall, temperature, river flow and crop yields changed over decades.

    Since El Niño means “the boy” in Spanish, and La Niña “the girl”, we could call the warm phase of the IPO “El Tío” (the uncle) and the negative phase “La Tía” (the auntie).

    These erratic relatives are hard to predict. El Tío and La Tía phases have been compared to a stumbling drunk. And honestly, can anyone predict what a drunk uncle will say at a family gathering?
    .
    .
    n the negative phase of the IPO (La Tía) the surface temperatures of the Pacific Ocean are cooler than usual near the equator and warmer than usual away from the equator.

    Since about the year 2000, some of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases has been getting buried in the deep Pacific Ocean, leading to a slowdown in global warming over about the last 15 years. It appears as though we have a kind auntie, La Tía perhaps, who has been cushioning the blow of global warming. For the time being, anyway.

    The flip side of our kind auntie is our bad-tempered uncle, El Tío. He is partly responsible for periods of accelerated warming, like the period from the late 1970s to the late 1990s.

    The IPO has been in its “kind auntie” phase for well over a decade now. But the IPO could be about to flip over to El Tío. If that happens, it is not good news for global temperatures – they will accelerate upwards.

    Reply
  12. Erik Frederiksen

     /  February 8, 2017

    The following paper from PNAS in 2013 found the loss of albedo from Arctic sea ice melt to be substantially higher than previously thought. And it will strengthen significantly as the sea ice largely goes away in the summer over the next several decades.

    “Using satellite measurements, this analysis directly quantifies how much the Arctic as viewed from space has darkened in response to the recent sea ice retreat. We find that this decline has caused 6.4 ± 0.9 W/m2 of radiative heating since 1979, considerably larger than expectations from models and recent less direct estimates. Averaged globally, this albedo change is equivalent to 25% of the direct forcing from CO2 during the past 30 y.”

    http://www.pnas.org/content/111/9/3322.abstract

    Reply
    • Shawn Redmond

       /  February 8, 2017

      Ouch! I would like to add to that the fact that albedo forcing may soon play a roll in the Antarctic as well. From observation only, looking back over the last few years of sat images I notice that the mountains are growing. What were once small specks at the end of melt season a few years ago, are now quite large looking outcrops by comparison. This will start to make a difference in the not to distant future I would think. The above paper was based on ’79-’11 data, the place has gone to hell in a hand basket since then. Added albedo on the Antarctic continent in all likely hood will be as bad if not worse. The darkening of the mountains and shoreline will only continue to grow as more open ground quickly makes more.

      Reply
  13. wharf rat

     /  February 8, 2017

    Dam … some very impressive numbers..

    Shasta added 130K acre feet yesterday, Oroville almost 160K, Fosom 106K. One I watch is San Luis, which is off-stream storage for XS water coming from the Delta. It’s now 88% of capacity, 1M acre feet above last year.

    http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/current/RES

    it’s gonna be full-tilt boogie for the farmers this year. Unemployment in the Valley should drop. Raining pretty good here at the moment…still…again. I’m prolly close to 70 inches for the season; the last time I checked our weekly paper, town was at 56″, and I get more. 25 miles south of me, Willits just passed their seasonal average. This is from the SF Chronicle…

    http://weather.sfgate.com/auto/sfgate/geo/precip/index.html

    Reply
  14. JPL

     /  February 8, 2017

    “Hoping to jump-start the debate on climate change, a group of high-profile Republicans that includes three former Cabinet secretaries is calling for a substantial new carbon tax, and then to offset the pain higher prices cause the middle class by returning all money raised to American taxpayers.

    The group is meeting Wednesday morning at the White House with Gary Cohn, the former Wall Street executive who is Trump’s top economic adviser. Among the key White House advisers tentatively scheduled to join or at least drop by that meeting are Ivanka Trump, her husband, Jared Kushner, and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. ”

    http://edition.cnn.com/2017/02/07/politics/republicans-climate-change/

    Reply
  15. Jeremy in Wales

     /  February 8, 2017

    At the other end of the world the crack on the Larsen C icesheet is visible on EOSDIS Worldview
    http://go.nasa.gov/2ksabz0
    (not a stunning pictur due to low resolution but you can appreciate the scale)

    Reply
  16. wharf rat

     /  February 8, 2017

    One of the first acts of the newly formed Environmental Protection Agency was to send photographers to document the country. Discover an America before the EPA.

    https://twitter.com/Disco_EPA

    Reply
  17. labmonkey2

     /  February 8, 2017

    Slightly OT but – methane…

    https://secure.npca.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1783#sm.000ikykvb1c2xdbdsak1l2pzeh5vj

    Flaring is getting the big go ahead to resume.
    damn, skippy…..

    Reply
  18. JPL

     /  February 8, 2017

    Jumping back to an awesome RS post from last August, NASA Map Shows Large Portions of Greenland are Melting from Below does it seem reasonable to expect that the arctic sea ice will experience some periods of strength and growth as Greenland succumbs to the changing climate, or are it’s melt outflows and pulses likely to be too little to late? Impossible to answer, I suppose, but interesting to ponder.

    Reply
  19. coloradobob

     /  February 9, 2017

    Massive ice shelf break forces Antarctic researchers to evacuate

    In our NewsHour Shares moment of the day, British researchers have monitored changes in the world’s atmosphere from a remote lab in Antarctica for more than 60 years. Now, for the first time the state-of-the-art facility will close — at least temporarily — after a nearly 30-mile long crack opened up on the ice shelf.

    PBS Newshour video

    Reply
  20. Why the ocean has absorbed more carbon over the past decade. Feb 8, 2017
    U. of California – Santa Barbara https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170208164648.htm

    According to DeVries, this finding may seem counterintuitive. Prevailing scientific wisdom asserts that the deceleration of circulation diminishes the ocean’s ability to absorb anthropogenic CO2 from the atmosphere as surface waters warm and become saturated with CO2.

    “While that is true, there is another effect that appears to be more important in the short term,” DeVries said. “The weaker overturning circulation brings less naturally CO2-rich deep waters to the surface, which limits how much of that gas in the deep ocean escapes to the atmosphere. That causes the ocean to absorb more CO2 from the atmosphere.”

    Reply
  21. coloradobob

     /  February 9, 2017

    SA power crisis: Will there be more blackouts?

    Power deliberately cut amid heatwave
    Analysis: Someone needs to lose their job
    Weather: Adelaide hit 42C — and Moomba 46C
    Gallery: How South Australians are coping with the heatwave
    How the State Government plans to fix our energy crisis

    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/sa-power-crisis-will-there-be-more-blackouts/news-story/82f848efbc42455b9d7c4e1487b04fa5

    Reply
    • cushngtree

       /  February 9, 2017

      Reading through it, it sounds like non-SA powers-that-be are blaming the SA for daring to get 5% of their energy from wind, “and the wind doesn’t blow when it’s that hot, maybe you should fire up that partially dismantled power plant in the north, you suckers” (obviously I’m paraphrasing). However, there also was a gas powered plant the powers-that-be could have put into use, but the orders never came down. Sounds like a “hit the alt-energy people in the face so we can get more coal-powered plants authorized” (so yeah, I’m cynical). That said, geesh! 40+ degrees! That’s over 104 Farenheit. NOT the time for the ac or electric fans (or fridges!) to go down.

      Reply
      • mulga mumblebrain

         /  February 10, 2017

        No cushngtree, you’re not ‘cynical’- you’re spot on. I would bet my life that this ‘load-shedding’ was deliberate and co-ordinated with the coal-worshipping (literally, believe me) Federal regime, who immediately launched a renewed frenzied attack on renewable energy, blaming it on ‘Leftwing ideology’. Meanwhile the country swelters in record heat-waves and the Great Barrier Reef dies. Those who the God wish to destroy they first make mad,.

        Reply
    • Mark in OZ

       /  February 9, 2017

      “It’s my understanding that AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator) was made aware more generation was available and chose not to turn that generation on. Serious questions have to be asked about why we had generation available that wasn’t used.”

      There’s a lot more to the story than most realize. The Herald Sun ( referenced) is one of Uncle Rupe’s ( Murdoch) rags and it is pro big biz,,pro coal, pro gas and entirely ‘anti’ renewable. Multi- nat companies use this broadsheet to shape local opinion.

      Very similar to Enron ( before it grenaded) as the suppliers have excess capacity ( not shortages as suggested) and by withholding this supply at crucial times ( like this) the ‘spot’ price rises fast and they can enter the ‘sweet spot’ of profit nirvana.

      As is always the case when public utilities are sold to private investors ( SA’s network was sold to Chinese / HK interests years ago), the spend for upkeep and maintenance dries up while prices ratchet up like clockwork. Rags like the above will offer considered ‘stories’ (completely spurious) why this is so even though prices should ‘cycle’ up and down (they don’t) and inevitably, the ‘blame’ why AC’s and refrigeration fell down and power was interrupted was the fault of the wind power (renewables).

      It is NOT the renewable power that is to be blamed but the juked delivery mechanism who’s objective is ROI and ROE yet the endless chant of ‘F’n greenies’ helps keep the shareholders ( many are Int’l) quite happy thanks to Uncle Rupe’s efforts.

      One thing many don’t ‘get’ is that the cheapest cost energy is to be used first in the formula for use hierarchy–renewable ( wind) gets first call usually. It’s not the choice of the SA gov’t–it’s the legislated protocol and when these rules were drafted, the energy re-sellers were ramping up production for a demand that never came as renewables got cheaper faster than anyone predicted.

      Having a profit motivated entity in charge of complex power distribution is a failed ‘conservative’ experiment that has been running for about 40 years now. What we ‘see’ is exactly what we ‘expected’.

      These ‘utilities’ were paid for by the people over many years and there’s a long list of corrupt public officials involved here who happily sold out ( because they could) at the ‘urging’ of investors who saw the opportunity to control vast dollar farming empties without much up front cost beyond the cash filled paper bags used to encourage legislative behaviour. If the ‘return’ was so ‘good’ they would have been in line at the beginning when they needed to be built from scratch..

      Reply
      • mulga mumblebrain

         /  February 10, 2017

        Well said, Mark. We now live in one of the very worst countries on Earth, a true kakistocracy (ie ruile by the worst).

        Reply
  22. Jay M

     /  February 9, 2017

    northern hemisphere summer sure to be succinct

    Reply
  23. Vic

     /  February 9, 2017

    Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister in Parliament today juggling a lump of coal. Hey, at least he stopped short of throwing it across the room.

    Reply
    • mulga mumblebrain

       /  February 10, 2017

      Vic, Joyce, the ‘human’ beetroot, didn’t bring the sacred relic into the mad-house. No it was Morronson, our ghastly Treasurer. These fanatics worship coal in a manner reminiscent of those followers of Kali, the Thuggees, who saw murder as a sacrament, to release the suffering masses from the unspeakable burden of existence.

      Reply
  24. Vic

     /  February 9, 2017

    My coal-a-phobia is giving me hell.

    Reply
    • coloradobob

       /  February 9, 2017

      Wow.

      Reply
      • coloradobob

         /  February 9, 2017

        Latest Great Barrier Reef threat: coal dust

        FEBRUARY 8, 2017 —Black coal dust washing up on Australian shores near the Great Barrier Reef is making environmentalists nervous.

        Complaints have triggered an investigation focusing on nearby coal port Hay Point, which exports tens of millions of tons a year to markets all over the world. However, authorities say they can’t yet confirm whether Hay Point is the source of the leak. Coal dust can directly kill coral and damage sea life, according to scientists, but it’s the burning of coal that indirectly poses the greatest risk to Australia’s most famous heritage site.

        http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2017/0208/Latest-Great-Barrier-Reef-threat-coal-dust

        Reply
  25. coloradobob

     /  February 9, 2017

    Crack in an Antarctic ice shelf grew 17 miles in 2 months

    The crack in Larsen C now reaches over 100 miles in length, and some parts of it are as wide as 2 miles. The tip of the rift is currently only about 20 miles from reaching the other end of the ice shelf.

    Once the crack reaches all the way across the ice shelf, the break will create one of the largest icebergs ever recorded, according to Project Midas, a research team that has been monitoring the rift since 2014. Because of the amount of stress the crack is placing on the remaining 20 miles of the shelf, the team expects the break soon.

    “The iceberg is likely to break free within the next few months,” said Adrian Luckman of Swansea University in Wales, who is a lead researcher for Project Midas. “The rift tip has moved from one region of likely softer ice to another, which explains its step-wise progress.”

    http://www.bendbulletin.com/nation/5053534-151/crack-in-an-antarctic-ice-shelf-grew-17

    Reply
    • Wake

       /  February 9, 2017

      Could it be towed somewhere? The saudis could use a little freshwater

      Reply
  26. The best example that the earth is changing! This year 2017 will be the year of changes!

    Reply
  27. coloradobob

     /  February 9, 2017

    Climate change linked to seafood bacteria

    A link between climate change and a new strain of bacteria has helped scientists understand why more seafood lovers are being poisoned.
    Scientists studying oysters along America’s Atlantic Coast have discovered a possible link between climate change and an increase in the number of seafood lovers getting sick from eating shellfish.

    Researchers at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) have found a new strain of the bacteria vibrio parahaemolyticus, the world’s leading culprit of contamination in shellfish that, when eaten, causes diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare cases, people have died from contracting lethal septicaemia.

    Cheryl Whistler and her colleagues discovered the new strain ST631 and detailed their findings in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology and the findings build on earlier studies showing the role climate change is playing in the spread of pathogens like vibrio parahaemolyticus.

    Link

    Reply
  28. coloradobob

     /  February 9, 2017

    EPA Officials Yanked From Alaska Event as Trump Team Weighs In

    Environmental Protection Agency official in Anchorage called the organizer with some news: The agency had been instructed by the White House to slash the number of EPA staffers who could attend.

    “We’ve never had this happen before,” said Kurt Eilo, who has organized the Alaska Forum on the Environment for 19 years. The annual gathering brings together 1,800 people from native communities, government agencies and the public to discuss climate-related issues, including melting permafrost and risks to villages from rising seas.

    There had been 34 EPA staffers registered; in the end, only half were allowed to go. The agency says the late change — including scrapping the travel of some senior staff from Washington — was about saving money for American taxpayers.

    Link

    Reply
  29. coloradobob

     /  February 9, 2017

    NASA Has Finally Built a Computer Chip To Survive on Venus

    You might wonder why Mars gets all the interplanetary attention when Venus, our sister planet, is actually closer. Well, the hellish orb has the hottest surface in the solar system, hotter even than Mercury. Combined with its dense, caustic atmosphere, none of our computers can handle Venus for more than a few hours. Now, scientists think they’ve come up with a solution.

    Link

    Reply
  30. coloradobob

     /  February 9, 2017

    Suburbs Are Increasingly Threatened by Wildfires Due to Climate Change
    Warmer winters, prolonged drought, and other effects of global warming multiply the threat of fire in these communities

    In an analysis of more than 23 million fires, a study published this week in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution finds a cluster of “economically and socially disastrous” fires, or megafires as they’re sometimes called, have scorched suburban neighborhoods, especially across the western U.S. and southeastern Australia.
    More communities could be at risk. Warmer and longer winters, prolonged drought, and other impacts from a changing climate could boost the number of days conducive to extreme fire events by 35 percent, the study found.
    “The finding that climate change increases the seasonal windows of opportunities of high fire danger in the geographic areas where these fires become disasters suggests that climate change is a threat multiplier to the wicked fire problem that these communities face today,” said John Abatzoglou, a co-author of the study and associate professor at the University of Idaho.
    Using MODIS satellite images, the authors created a global database of fire events that occurred between 2002 and 2013. Of the top 478 extreme wildfires — those that exhibited extreme behaviors, such as growing to massive sizes or burning hotter than expected — 30 percent were classified as “disasters,” in that they caused substantial economic or social harms.

    Link

    Reply
  31. Suzanne

     /  February 9, 2017

    At the Guardian…”This is not Over: Dakota Access Pipeline Work Restarts amid Tribe’s Legal Challenges:
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/09/dakota-access-pipeline-cheyenne-river-sioux-legal-action

    Dakota Access pipeline workers have begun the final phase of drilling across the Missouri river despite massive international protests and a legal challenge from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

    The restarting of the drilling operation, which a pipeline spokeswoman confirmed on Thursday morning, began soon after after the US government gave the oil corporation the green light to proceed on Wednesday. The controversial pipeline could be transporting crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois within three months

    Reply
  32. coloradobob

     /  February 9, 2017

    Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said Pelican Point’s second generation unit had been turned on, action the government argues could have been taken to avoid Wednesday’s blackouts.

    Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described the latest SA power crisis as a disgrace and again pointed the finger at the state’s heavy reliance on renewables.

    Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said SA’s energy grid was a basket case and the state government’s incompetence had subjected consumers to third-world conditions.

    Premier Jay Weatherill said South Australians were fed up with a lack of action from the federal government to fix the national electricity market and the government would take dramatic action to take control of the state’s energy future.

    Read more at Link

    Reply
    • coloradobob

       /  February 9, 2017

      So, South Australia has rolling blackouts to the tune of 90,000 customers during a heatwave .
      And : ” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described the latest SA power crisis as a disgrace and again pointed the finger at the state’s heavy reliance on renewables.”

      But the grid operator never called the nat gas “peaking plant” at Pelican Point for it to be started .

      This quacks, and walks like a duck called Eron.

      Reply
      • Mark in OZ

         /  February 9, 2017

        Enron was the ‘pioneer’ in this field and ultimately, they blew the windows out of the laboratory. Many profitable ‘refinements’ have been since pioneered by the corporations that control Strayan political parties.

        “The Australian Energy Regulator has been investigating more than half a dozen “high priced” events, as it is required to do when prices jump above $5,000/MWh. Some of the reports it has already completed make astonishing reading.”

        “Take the events of last November 18 in New South Wales, when the spot price of electricity jumped to more than $11,700/MWh in the mid afternoon, and bids of more than $13,700 were recorded over seven different trading intervals over the course of the afternoon.”

        http://reneweconomy.com.au/high-energy-prices-blame-fossil-fuel-generators-not-renewables-84196/

        Reply
        • mulga mumblebrain

           /  February 10, 2017

          Yep, Mark-pure Enron, but ignored in this bedlam because it is the Market weaving its Magick. Perhaps our centi-millionaire bankster PM Trumble has shares in the price-gougers? As a graduate of the Great Vampire Squid, Goldman Sachs, he’ll know where the easy money is.

  33. coloradobob

     /  February 9, 2017

    Summer in February in the Arctic: temperatures surge 63°F in 24 hours in Northern Greenland
    The temperature at northernmost land station in the world, Kap Morris Jesup, located on the northern coast of Greenland at 83.65°N latitude, soared to a remarkable 35°F (1.5°C) on Wednesday—beating the previous day’s high of -22°F by a shocking 57°, and marking a temperature more typical of June at this frigid location. The mercury skyrocketed an astonishing 63°F (34.8°C) in just 24 hours, from -29°F at 15 UTC February 7 to 33°F at 15 UTC February 8. As summarized by Jason Samenow of the Capital Weather Gang on February 6, the incredible warmth in the Arctic is due to a massive hurricane-force North Atlantic storm that bottomed out on Monday with a central pressure of 932 mb—a common reading in Category 4 hurricanes, and one of lowest pressures ever measured in a storm in this region. (He noted that the strongest North Atlantic winter storms on record—in December 1986 and January 1993—had pressures of 900 and 916 millibars, respectively.) The warm air flowing into the Arctic this week was reinforced by a second massive extratropical storm that pounded Iceland on Wednesday, which brought sustained winds of 61 mph, gusting to 91 mph, to the Reykjavik Airport. Warm air near the freezing point—about 50 to 60°F above average in temperature—likely came close to the North Pole on Thursday morning, according to the latest temperature anomaly maps from the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer website. A drifting buoy located near the Pole, at about 87°N latitude, recorded temperatures above freezing once in November 2016 and once in December 2016, but fell short this time, hitting 23°F on Thursday morning. The warm air in the Arctic this week continues a trend of record to near-record heat seen in the Arctic throughout the winter of 2016 – 2017. The warm air has helped bring about the lowest arctic sea ice extent ever recorded during January, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

    https://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=3555#commenttop

    Reply
  34. coloradobob

     /  February 9, 2017

    What do the Northern tip of Greenland , and South Australia have in common ?

    They both had a heatwave this week.

    Reply
  35. coloradobob

     /  February 9, 2017

    #Lake #Oroville #Spillway #Update Thursday. Both sides have crumbled off. Dam road closed pic.twitter.com/hXqdAWfDkW— bill husa (@billhusa1) February 9, 2017

    Reply
    • coloradobob

       /  February 9, 2017

      Oroville Dam officials find new damage after water releases, as reservoir level climbs

      Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article131579999.html#storylink=cpy

      Reply
    • Griffin

       /  February 9, 2017

      It’s toast!

      Reply
      • Suzanne

         /  February 9, 2017

        OMG!!! A perfect one picture worth a million words…on how Mother Nature is much more powerful than man.

        Reply
      • WTF??? Thanks for this, Griff.

        Reply
        • Shawn Redmond

           /  February 10, 2017

          Oroville >> Oroville Dam operators, quickly running out of options, ramped up releases on the damaged spillway this morning even though a middle section is gone.

          The Department of Water Resources increased water releases down the Oroville Dam spillway Wednesday night in another test of the damaged structure. Flows that had been shut down after a test Wednesday afternoon were increased to 20,000 cubic-feet per second at about 10 p.m., then to 35,000 cfs at about 11 a.m.

          Including the 13,000 cfs that can be moved through the Hyatt Powerhouse underneath the dam, that means about 48,000 cfs of water was running out of the lake and into the Feather River.

          There really isn’t another option. After another day of heavy rain in the foothills today, about 150,000 cfs of water was running into the lake, bringing it to within 18 feet of the top. The lake was rising about 1 foot every two hours, which made the DWR hurry with its inspection and open the spillway gates again.

          http://image.orovillemr.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=NB&Date=20170209&Category=NEWS&ArtNo=209009999&Ref=PH&Item=7&NewTbl=1&exactW=800

        • Well, it’s Saturday, and the dam is right at 100% of capacity. The graph looks really scary, to me – the rate of increase seems very high – don’t see any comparable increase events in the past:

          http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecapp/resapp/getResGraph.action?id=1803402840&orig=no

          The Sacramento Bee is talking 200 million dollars for repairs.

          I’m thinking many of California’s dams will need to have their spillway capacity increased. This drought or deluge phenomenon associated with global warming is going to cost us money, and likely it is cheaper to spend the money up front than wait for crises to develop.

          Don’t know what the butcher’s bill would be if this dam breaks..likely billions and billions of dollars. Nobody is talking about that yet .. but in a few more years, who knows?

        • Shawn Redmond

           /  February 12, 2017

          Thanks for this Leland, I do believe you’re right about the problems getting worse. It may well come to pass sooner as later. Watching the much needed rains and snow coming in to California this winter set me to pondering the possible down sides. With the extra dry ground, dead and dying forrest areas a quick melt out could well be disastrous as the heat returns later on. A slow and prolonged melt would be great for all but it may well be overly optimistic. With the millions of acres of dead forrest, dry hard ground and what looks like an El Nino setting up, even a weak one, along side the heat intrusions in the heartland already! Well need I say more.

        • Shasta dam, California’s largest dam, is now at 96% of capacity:

          http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecapp/resapp/resDetailOrig.action?resid=SHA

          This also looks like the largest most rapid increase in the water levels in the history of the dam.

        • For some reason the hyperlinks aren’t saving all the settings of the graphs.

          To see all of the yearly graphs for an individual reservoir plotted simultaneously, go to

          http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecapp/resapp/getResGraphsMain.action

          Click on a name of one of the individual reservoirs. This will take you to the graph of the individual reservoir. To see all of the data for all of the years plotted simultaneously, click on the top of the list, then scroll down and shift+click on the bottom of the list. Then hit the “draw graph” button.

          To get back to the main reservoir page, click on the “Major Reservoir Current Conditions Graphs” link in light blue small print under the small map of individual reservoir location, in the upper left portion of the page.

        • Shawn Redmond

           /  February 12, 2017

          Thanks again Leland. Looking over the reservoir totals they are mostly in record territory but not over capacity for this calendar date. The Oroville is 78,000+ acre feet over capacity! If this keeps increasing at what point does it become dangerous or is it already? Man you gotta be careful what you wish for you just might get it.

        • Shawn Redmond

           /  February 12, 2017

          Just looking at Climate Reanalyzer it shows clear weather for a couple of days, but starting Wednesday night the 15th it shows rain for Northern Cal. right through the weekend. Not good.

        • Hi Shawn-

          Oh, man the situation is developing quickly, at Oroville dam. Local law enforcement has ordered the evacuation of 130,000 people.

          The ground down the hill from the concrete face of the emergency spillway is eroding. If the ground down the hill from the face of the emergency spillway starts to undermine the concrete face of the emergency spillway, this could cause the failure of the emergency spillway leading to a substantial release of water from the lake, the local law enforcement officials are saying. The emergency spillway has never been used before, and it appears to have a weakness in that the earthen hillside below the emergency spillway is subject to erosion..

          So, they increased the flow of water through the damaged regular spillway to 100,000 cubic feet per second, and the flow of water over the emergency spillway has been reduced. The rate of erosion of the hillside below the emergency spillway has been reduced, and they hope soon there will be no flow of water over the emergency spillway. The concrete structure of the emergency spillway could fail even if there are no additional flows over it though, although that is probably unlikely. They hope to continue rapid release of water to prepare the lake for increased inflows from storms starting on Wednesday.

          If the emergency spillway fails, though, that could result in the release of something like 30 vertical feed of the water in the dam, maybe, officials were speculating. The main structure of the dam appears to be secure, it is the emergency spillway that could start to be undermined, especially if releases over the top of the emergency spillway start up again, due to the storms coming in starting on Wednesday.

        • The California Nevada River Forecast Center is forecasting 2-3 inches of precipitation in the next 6 days over much of the Oroville lake basin. On the right, click on Forecast Precipitation, then check the box for 6 Day Gridded QPF.

          http://www.cnrfc.noaa.gov/ol.php?type=riverReservoir

          There is a lot of snow in the mountains, with some areas with snow water equivalents of 3-4 feet. All of that won’t melt all at once, of course, and the forecast storms on Thursday and Friday are forecast to be colder and cause less snow pack melt than the one forecast for Wednesday, or the ones that created the heavy inflows into the Oroville reservoir in the last couple of weeks.

          All of this seems associated with global warming, to me, and it seems obvious in retrospect that this was going to happen. Heavy precipitation events and warmer storms associated with more southerly storm tracks tied to climate change seem likely to cause events like this. None of us predicted this, I think, but we probably should have.

  36. Suzanne

     /  February 9, 2017

    “Food Security, Forests at Risk Under Trump’s USDA”
    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/food-security-forest-risk-trump-usda-21139

    The USDA’s climate programs extend far beyond farms. As America’s largest forest manager, Perdue will determine the direction of the science conducted by the U.S. Forest Service and whether some of America’s most carbon-dense and diverse forests are clear cut for timber harvesting or managed to sustain and blunt the impacts of climate change.

    “Just about every activity that the USDA regulates is likely to impact climate policy,” said Mark Squillace, a natural resources law professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder. “Forests and soils store vast amounts of carbon. When forests are logged or when they burn, much of that stored carbon is released into the atmosphere. Crop farming also contributes to climate change by releasing large quantities of nitrous oxides, much of it from fertilizers, and animal farming contributes vast amounts of methane especially from ruminant animals.”

    If the USDA dismisses the threat of climate change, “then there is reason for grave concern,” said Michael P. Hoffman, executive director of the Cornell University Institute for Climate Smart Solutions, which focuses on sustainable agriculture.

    Reply
  37. coloradobob

     /  February 9, 2017

    Olive Oil Prices Are Going Through the Roof
    Hoarding oil of a new kind after terrible harvests in Italy, Spain and Greece.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-09/olive-oil-prices-surging-after-bad-weather-in-italy-spain-and-greece

    Reply
    • coloradobob

       /  February 9, 2017

      Bacteria that kills olive trees spreads from Italy to Spain’s Balearic Islands
      The regional government has destroyed 2,000 specimens affected by the disease

      The regional government of the Balearic Islands says Xylella fastidiosa, a bacterium that kills fruit-bearing plants such as olive trees, is now threatening its agricultural sector. In a bid to control its spread, authorities have destroyed some 2,000 fruit trees so far. At the same time, a ban has been imposed on the export of fruit or cuttings from susceptible species such as olives, cherries, grapes and almonds, as well as ornamental fruits.

      http://elpais.com/elpais/2017/02/07/inenglish/1486469919_607372.html

      Reply
      • mulga mumblebrain

         /  February 10, 2017

        We’ll hear a lot more about Xylella in coming years-and others. The agricultural collapse is gathering pace. Here in Australia 90% of farmers are concerned about climate change, yet they still vote for the Nationals, who are owned and controlled by King Coal.

        Reply
    • Scheduling tweet on this, thanks.

      Reply
  38. coloradobob

     /  February 9, 2017

    Dire Straits – The Bug + lyrics

    Reply
  39. Suzanne

     /  February 9, 2017

    Interview today at The Real News with Joe Romm on Sea Level Rise..in particular its impact on my neck of the woods…S.Fl. Worth a watch:

    Reply
  40. coloradobob

     /  February 9, 2017

    Quoting 115. civEngineer:

    Incredible video by the Butte CO sheriff of the Oroville Spillway!
    https://www.facebook.com/bcsonews/videos/77953477 8863469/

    Reply
  41. mulga mumblebrain

     /  February 10, 2017

    Lunacy of the day-scientists building tiny robot drones to take the place of bees as pollinators.

    Reply
  1. January sea ice volume is lowest on record, by a considerable margin « nuclear-news
  2. To February 10 Climate and Nuclear News | Nuclear Australia

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