The Permafrost is Thawing 20 Percent Faster Than Previously Thought

Even in a world at 1 to 1.2 C warmer than 19th Century averages the permafrost is in trouble.

Already, vast thawed lands are starting to release carbon dioxide and methane. Thermokarst lakes bubble with the stuff. And pingos are now starting to erupt as the ice relinquishes the soils of Siberia. Russians, ironically concerned about the safety of an oil and gas infrastructure that helped to precipitate the warming in the first place, are starting to install seismographs to detect these new warming-induced eruptions from the thawed lands. Meanwhile, each new summer brings with it ridiculously warm temperatures, never before seen Arctic thunderstorms, and epic wildfires that rage over these growing piles of peat-like carbon laid down during the course of millions of years of glaciation — but now unlocked in just years and decades by an unnatural thaw.

Permafrost Thawing at 20 Percent Faster Rate Than We Previously Thought

Back in the late 1800s, permafrost covered about 17 million square kilometers of the Northern Hemisphere. In less than 150 years, that extent has been reduced by 2 million square kilometers due to the warming that has, to date, been produced by fossil fuel burning and related carbon emissions. Even worse, according to the new research, present temperatures alone are enough to, this Century, push permafrost coverage back to 12.5 million square kilometers.

That’s about 1/4 of the world’s permafrost gone due to just 1 to 1.2 degrees Celsius of global warming.

(A new study shows that 2 C worth of warming nearly cuts preindustrial permafrost extent in half to around 9 million square kilometers. Warming to 6 C above 1880s averages, which will occur so long as fossil fuel burning continues, will wipe out nearly all of the Northern Hemisphere’s permafrost. These thaw rates are about 20 percent more than previously estimated. Image source: An observation-based constraint on permafrost loss as a function of global warming.)

Warm the world by just another degree Celsius to 2 C above 1880s averages and, according to the new research, we’ll end up thawing another 3.5 million square kilometers of frozen ground to an ultimately reduced area of around 9 million square kilometers — cutting the Northern Hemisphere’s original permafrost coverage nearly in half.

Still More Urgency For Rapid Cuts to Fossil Fuel Burning

This newly identified permafrost thaw rate in response to human-forced warming is much faster than previously expected — representing a 20 percent acceleration compared to past permafrost thaw model estimates. And since the frozen ground of the world contains 1.2 to 1.4 trillion tons of carbon locked away over the course of millions of years, so rapid a thaw has big implications in a world warmed by fossil fuel burning.

(Wildfires burn through Siberia during August of 2014. Thawing permafrost lays bare billions of tons of carbon that can then be subject to release by microbes and the warming elements. Bacteria can break down the carbon — releasing methane and CO2. Thawed permafrost also forms a peat-like layer that can burn as more extensive fires rage across the heating Arctic. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

Back in 2015, scientists estimated that about 100 billion tons of permafrost carbon would hit the atmosphere over the course of the 21st Century due to human-forced warming. This warming feedback is equivalent to about 10 years of present fossil fuel emissions. Add an estimated 20 percent extrapolated from a faster than expected thaw to that rate and you end up with roughly 120 billion tons of carbon — or 12 years of present emissions bubbling and bursting up out of that previously frozen ground (approximately 40 ppm of CO2e heat forcing as feedback to the present warming).

It’s just another scientific finding of warming-related geophysical impacts occurring on timescales that were faster than previously expected. Still more added proof, as if we required any, that the need for cutting human fossil fuel emissions couldn’t be greater or more urgent. And when seismographs are now being constructed to detect permafrost methane bursts due to pingo detonations, it’s becoming more and more clear that we do not want to precipitate any more volatile Arctic thaw than we’ve already locked in.

Links:

An observation-based constraint on permafrost loss as a function of global warming

Climate Change and the Permafrost Carbon Feedback

LANCE-MODIS

First Seismic Sensor Installed to Detect New Risk of Exploding Pingos

Hat tip to Ryan in New England

Hat tip to Wili

Hat tip to Unnaturalfx

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140 Comments

  1. Cate

     /  April 13, 2017

    *puffpuffpuffpuffpuff* Robert you are on fire! I’m racing just to keep up.

    Did you see this from NOAA today—the ENSO update and El Nino prospects:

    https://www.climate.gov/news-features/blogs/enso/april-2017-enso-update-tropical-pacific-ocean-conflict

    Reply
    • Thanks for this, Cate. A very helpful analysis from NOAA. The strong warming in Nino 1 and 2 would always require atmospheric coupling (continued westerly wind bursts) to get to El Nino by late summer. The trades are strong at this time, which is suppressing warm Kelvin Wave development. That said, the models appear to favor enough of a switch to push a weak to moderate El Nino this year. As NOAA notes, we are still in the high uncertainty period. And it’s worth considering the fact that the models have been trending toward weaker El Nino for a few weeks now.

      Reply
  2. Keith Antonysen

     /  April 13, 2017

    Anton Vaks et al studied caves in permafrost areas, caves where permafrost is intermittent, and caves where no permafrost had occurred. Caves had no stalactites or stalagmites where caves were in permafrost areas, growth of these structures were found to be cyclic in areas where intermittent permafrost existed, and displayed continual growth in non permafrost areas.
    Vaks et al came to the conclusion that permafrost begins to thaw when the temperature is 1.5C above that experienced in pre-Industrial times.

    Reply
  3. Cate

     /  April 13, 2017

    Sun cuts loose from the frozen…..

    Reply
  4. Cate

     /  April 13, 2017

    The NYT has hired an extreme flat-earther to report on climate.

    https://thinkprogress.org/new-york-times-hires-extreme-climate-denier-after-hyping-itself-as-antidote-to-fake-news-441826c4071d

    Joe Romm writes:
    “Bret Stephens was most recently deputy editorial page editor for Rupert Murdoch’s deeply conservative and climate-denying Wall Street Journal, where, in 2015, he wrote that climate change — along with hunger in America, campus rape statistics, and institutionalized racism— are “imaginary enemies.” He will now take those views to the New York Times.

    Stephens is unusually extreme and divisive even for a climate science denier, also comparing scientists and those who accept their findings to Stalinists, anti-semites, and communists.”

    Just when you think it can’t possibly get any worse.

    Reply
    • Been watching this blow up in social media. Really makes them look disingenuous. I will think twice before promoting them in the future because of this.

      Reply
    • Bill Everett

       /  April 17, 2017

      I was an NYT subscriber for the last 6 years, but …

      You are now chatting with ‘Samrin’
      Samrin
      at 10:22, Apr 17:
      Good morning, thank you for contacting The New York Times, how may i help you today?
      Bill Everett
      at 10:23, Apr 17:
      I am canceling my subscription.
      Samrin
      at 10:23, Apr 17:
      I can see that you are under NYTimes: Web + Smartphone Apps and currently paying $15.00 every 4 weeks. Would it help if we offer you the Basic Digital Package for $7.50 every 4 weeks for 52 weeks? It can give you access to web, smartphone and tablet.
      Bill Everett
      at 10:24, Apr 17:
      No. It would help if the NYT fires Bret Stephens.
      Samrin
      at 10:25, Apr 17:
      No worries, I will now proceed to your request. I will also go ahead and relay your comment to the respective department.
      Bill Everett
      at 10:25, Apr 17:
      Thank you. Have a nice day.
      Samrin
      at 10:26, Apr 17:
      I am pleased to inform you that your cancellation has been successful and a confirmation email shall be sent to you shortly.
      Samrin
      at 10:26, Apr 17:
      You’re welcome. Thank you for contacting The New York Times, have a wonderful day!

      Reply
      • So there’s no one at NYT you can contact in order to submit a complaint? So sad.

        Reply
        • Bill Everett

           /  April 17, 2017

          I think there is someone you could submit a complaint to. But I thought canceling my subscription was a little stronger than just complaining. In the cancellation form that I completed before the chat, I chose “other” from the short list of reasons for canceling and gave the reason as the hiring of Bret Stephens. I also shared Joe Romm’s article on my Facebook page and added the same comment that I posted here to that Facebook post. I have done so in the hope that perhaps a few (or more) might imitate my behavior if they haven’t thought of it and done so already.

  5. Vaughn Anderson

     /  April 13, 2017

    Robert first thanks for your recent well referenced, timely, and informative articles explaining human induced climate change. It has been a bit of a challenge to keep up with reading them at this pace so I can only imagine the effort and time that goes into writing them.

    Possibly the increased rate of permafrost thawing is from the heat produced by microbe metabolism in the thawed/thawing permafrost. I posted this link in your March 2017 article on permafrost. I think it is worth being reminded that this is a likely accelerator of permafrost thawing.

    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v5/n6/full/nclimate2590.html?message-global=remove

    Several other commenters in the March article also posted additional links. Microbes sound, at least in some instances, like throwing gasoline on a fire.

    Reply
  6. Jefferson Airplane!

    Reply
  7. coloradobob

     /  April 13, 2017

    Tragic Barrier Reef as you’ve never seen it after Debbie reduced it to rubble
    ALARMING images from an underwater expedition show just how devastating Cyclone Debbie was, and damage that won’t be fixed for decades, if ever.

    http://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/natural-wonders/tragic-barrier-reef-as-youve-never-seen-it-after-debbie-reduced-it-to-rubble/news-story/4fe66356bfcfaa8bf503a7d77e15db78

    Reply
  8. coloradobob

     /  April 13, 2017

    Intensity of catastrophic storms has increased in Europe since 1990

    12.4.2017 12:00

    FMI researchers showed that storm-induced forest damage went through a change point in 1990. After 1990 the worst storms have been 3.5 times as catastrophic as before, mainly because of climate change.

    The Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) has investigated intense large scale storms based on their impacts on primary forest damage in Europe over the period 1951 – 2010. It was already known that storm-induced primary damage has grown in that period, but it was considered to be mainly due to increase in total growing stock and forest management practices, such as preference for Norway spruce. However, the FMI researchers found that storm-induced forest damage went through a statistically significant change point in 1990. “After 1990 the worst storms have been 3.5 times as catastrophic as before. This type of change cannot be caused by a change in forest management practices. Instead it is related to a change in storm climate”, says Head of Unit Hilppa Gregow from FMI.

    http://en.ilmatieteenlaitos.fi/press-release/340237021

    Reply
    • Thanks for this, Bob. Excellent work by the scientists here.

      Reply
    • climatehawk1

       /  April 14, 2017

      Scheduling tweet on this, thanks.

      Reply
    • Spike

       /  April 14, 2017

      Great find – the Storms of his Grandchildren beginning to show up. Anecdotally this seems to chime with the large numbers of fallen trees I notice when I’m out in the UK countryside in recent years. Can’t recall seeing as many before.

      Reply
  9. Erik Frederiksen

     /  April 14, 2017

    One Danish study a year or two ago found that microbial action during permafrost decomposition generates enough heat that the authors of the study posited it could lead to a runaway situation.

    Another study I read about suggested these microbes are more efficient than previously thought at transferring the locked up carbon to the atmosphere.

    Reply
    • The permafrost is one gigantic heap of thawing compost. That’s not really something fun to think about. According to the study above, we’ve already thawed about 2 million square kilometers from the 1880s to now. At 1 C warming, we’re already bound to thaw another 2.5 million square kilometers. And if we ht 2 C that total jumps to 8 million square kilometers. That’s a lot of compost.

      Reply
    • Spike

       /  April 14, 2017

      I read an article about paleoclimate and soil yesterday, ? in Science Advances. I haven’t been able to find it to post here, but as I recall it showed that soil carbon is essentially dependant on local climatic conditions over millennia. The soil is very slow to accumulate carbon, but can lose it quite rapidly as those bugs get to work.

      Reply
      • Bluesky

         /  April 14, 2017

        Eric, you said earlier that ‘Seawalls will not stop the sea level rise that is coming, retreat from most coastal areas will be necessary.’

        So dikes can not withstand the incomming sea level rise or what? This week, Robert was talking about 10 feet in 2050 as a worst case scenario. What’s your thoughts on this Erik and Robert? Are dikes and seawalls not strong enough to hold sea level rise back?

        Reply
  10. John McCormick

     /  April 14, 2017

    Robert, you described the turning point we are approaching with no hope of sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere. I thought sea level rise was the show stopper. No., it is the extreme accumulation of global warming gases with temperatures going to the extreme.

    Robert, maybe it is time you and Chris Mooney talked about a cable show to tell an audience what you are telling us in this blog..

    Reply
    • Well, John, we do have some hope of sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere. It’s just not likely to be able to scale too much beyond 1-2 billion tons of carbon per year. So we really want to work as hard as we can to limit the Earth system response. And to do that we need to switch to renewables ASAP.

      I’d be happy to have a sit-down with Chris to discuss the dire situation that we’re in and the needed responses. So thanks for the suggestion.

      Reply
      • coloradobob

         /  April 14, 2017

        Sustainable Energy

        Is There a Better Way to Sequester Carbon Dioxide Hiding in Plain Sight?

        Natural carbon sequestration in the mountains of Oman could help scientists develop new ways to store the greenhouse gas underground.

        https://www.technologyreview.com/s/604195/is-there-a-better-way-to-sequester-carbon-dioxide-hiding-in-plain-sight/

        Reply
        • It’s basically looking like enhanced weathering techniques are the best path forward. I still think this tech has a way to go. But we will need atmospheric capture at some point. In all honesty, there should be a requirement for any new fossil fuel project to be CCS (and not the enhanced extraction CCS that just basically ends up netting more carbon to the atmosphere). It basically includes the cost of carbon in the tech by making that requirement.

        • coloradobob

           /  April 14, 2017

          Scientists seek holy grail of climate change in Oman’s hills

          The sultanate boasts the largest exposed sections of the Earth’s mantle, thrust up by plate tectonics millions of years ago. The mantle contains peridotite, a rock that reacts with the carbon in air and water to form marble and limestone.

          “Every single magnesium atom in these rocks has made friends with the carbon dioxide to form solid limestone, magnesium carbonate, plus quartz,” he said as he patted a rust-colored boulder in the Wadi Mansah valley.

          “There’s about a billion tons of CO2 in this mountain,” he said, pointing off to the east.

          Rain and springs pull carbon from the exposed mantle to form stalactites and stalagmites in mountain caves. Natural pools develop surface scum of white carbonate. Scratch off this thin white film, Kelemen said, and it’ll grow back in a day.

          “For a geologist this is supersonic,” he said.

          http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2017/Apr-13/401849-scientists-seek-holy-grail-of-climate-change-in-omans-hills.ashx

        • I wouldn’t call this the holy grail. I mean we already have the holy grail in the form of cheap wind and solar. It’s just that the fossil fuel special interests keep throwing up barriers to deploy it. More the holy grail for trying to save a failing and obviously very corrupt industry.

        • coloradobob

           /  April 14, 2017

          Mission accomplished? GOP plan guts research on floods, water pollution

          Apparently, we haven’t been giving the Iowa Legislature enough credit. While we’ve all been focused on legislation that solves non-existent problems in Iowa, lawmakers must have been quietly solving some major problems that have plagued the state for decades.

          At least, that’s the conclusion Republican lawmakers must be intending to send with their budget proposal. They must want Iowans to think they have magically saved Iowa from future flooding and agriculture-related water pollution without even lifting a finger.

          “We can just declare victory and go home,” dead-panned Mark Rasmussen, director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. “I’m looking for my special flight jacket that says ‘Mission Accomplished.’”

          http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/kathie-obradovich/2017/04/12/mission-accomplished-gop-plan-guts-research-floods-water-pollution/100378908/

        • GOP declares an end to all problems as argument for defunding critical government programs. The insanity just never ends, does it?

        • No, it doesn’t. Bill Maher explains why, in very simple terms, here:
          http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/videos/a54389/bill-maher-republicans/

          (Bill Maher Explains the New Republican Philosophy: ‘What Would a Dick Do?’)

          I can just see it now–bracelets, necklaces, etc., engraved “WWDD?”

        • … and how could I forget the infinite focus on non-existent problems such as voter fraud? WWDD?

  11. I am in San Diego for a family emergency and am reading here for,some distraction.
    Has there been any into on how warm March 2017 was? I checked giss/nasa website but didnt see anything there yet.

    Thanks Robert for the articles.

    Reply
    • I sincerely hope all is well, Sheri. Thoughts and best wishes for your and yours…

      Early indicators for March were that it was most likely to hit 2nd warmest on record according to GFS and other model reanalysis.

      Reply
    • Just checked. Still not updated in the NASA record.

      Reply
    • coloradobob

       /  April 14, 2017

      Sheri
      The only thing to do with hard times is to just go through them.
      Courage.

      Reply
  12. Erik Frederiksen

     /  April 14, 2017

    I tried to find something I’d referred to in the past on the NSIDC website and at first when I couldn’t find it I panicked thinking that Trump had had it deleted.

    Well, since I did find it I’ll post it here.

    “But if the Earth continues to warm, and a lot of permafrost thaws out, the Arctic could become an overall source of carbon to the atmosphere, instead of a sink. This is what scientists refer to as a “tipping point.” We say that something has reached a tipping point when it switches from a relatively stable state to an unstoppable cycle. In this case, the Arctic would change from a carbon sink to a carbon source. If the Arctic permafrost releases more carbon than it absorbs, it would start a cycle where the extra carbon in the atmosphere leads to increased warming. The increased warming means more permafrost thawing and methane release.”

    https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/frozenground/methane.html

    Reply
    • I think we’re in that process now. That we need to do more work to identify where we are and how close that particular tipping point is and whether or not we’ve already crossed it.

      Reply
    • Erik Frederiksen

       /  April 14, 2017

      I think so too. It’s likely to be a slow, but perhaps inexorable process. More likely immediate concerns are changes in climatic zones and sea level rise.

      Reply
      • coloradobob

         /  April 14, 2017

        ” It’s likely to be a slow, but perhaps inexorable process.”
        Inexorable yes, I think it’ll hit us like a cross town bus.

        Reply
  13. Andy_in_SD

     /  April 14, 2017

    Another bad winter for ice roads. They opened late, closed early.

    Dettah ice road to open Saturday, nearly 3 weeks late

    “We haven’t seen this in the last 20 years,” said Michael Conway, regional superintendent of the North Slave region with the territory’s Department of Transportation.

    “This year we had some very warm weather in November and even into December,” he explained. “The last couple of years, the weather has been extremely warm, and that certainly affects ice growth.”

    http://www.myyellowknifenow.com/19655/dettah-ice-road-to-open-saturday-nearly-three-weeks-late/

    Reply
    • Thanks for this, Andy. The thaw this year is a bit slower in NW Canada than last. But considering conditions over the Arctic Ocean itself, one wonders how long that will last.

      Reply
      • Andy_in_SD

         /  April 14, 2017

        I used to drive Hay River to Yellowknife much earlier than these things are now opening. Perhaps there is some historical road season data that may provide a snapshot of the trend. I’ll check around.

        Reply
    • Andy_in_SD

       /  April 14, 2017

      Note: The 3 weeks late article is from Jan 5th. The road is now closed as of last Friday. A very short season.

      Having lived there, drove ice roads on rivers & lakes in the early 80’s winters, this is a crazy short season again.

      http://www.myyellowknifenow.com/22965/stay-off-road-says-gnwt-illegal-ice-road-drivers/

      Reply
      • Andy_in_SD

         /  April 14, 2017

        Not sure if anyone wants to go through the open /close dates. But here is the data going back into the early 90’s.

        http://www.dot.gov.nt.ca/Documents

        One thing that struck me right away. We could drive across Great Slave Lake (not around it) from Hay River, directly to Yellowknife in January in the early 80’s. That Ice road does not exist anymore, they don’t plow / grade / prep it for use. That implies the lake never sets up any more with a good enough base to run a road.

        Reply
    • coloradobob

       /  April 14, 2017

      Andy good catch .
      These ice roads are a real Achilles Heel for the Far North. So many of them use frozen lakes and rivers , and rotten ice is a real killer for the drivers.

      Reply
      • coloradobob

         /  April 14, 2017

        Ice Road Truckers: Cancelled or Returning for Season 11?

        http://tvseriesfinale.com/tv-show/ice-road-truckers-cancelled-returning-season-11/

        Irony …………..

        Reply
      • Andy_in_SD

         /  April 14, 2017

        Been there, deep sixed a Camaro going across Hay River in Old Town in 81. If the car did not get stuck on a submerged chunk of ice so only 1 foot of water got into the interior… it would have been under the ice and out into Great Slave Lake. Was a bitch to get out of there….

        Reply
        • coloradobob

           /  April 14, 2017

          Now we know why you’re in San Diego.

        • Andy_in_SD

           /  April 14, 2017

          Spend your winters working a lead mine, summers working the boats on the MacKenzie River as a young guy. Not much better or worse than the sh*tholes you’ve worked in. It did drive me to bank my money which then paid 100% for my education and the rest is history, in San Diego….

        • coloradobob

           /  April 14, 2017

          I was a grass hopper , I made enough money to buy New Deal, Texas , but I pissed it away so fast. My retirement plan was to die at 40.

          An insight into the wisdom I possess .

  14. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Erik Frederiksen –
    This one has stuck in my head ever since I read it , it’s 8 years old, but time has only reinforced it’s conclusions . At the time I boiled it down to this :

    ” As a system nears a tipping point , it tends to move to the extremes, there it gets stuck, before wildly swinging to the other extreme. ”
    When the tipping point comes , a new state takes over, at the extreme.

    The California drought comes to mind as a prime example. If the hypothesis is correct , ( And I think it is. ) the mother of all droughts is coming to California.

    I urge anyone who has not read this , to do so.

    Tipping Points: What Wall Street and Nature Have in Common
    By Clara Moskowitz | September 2, 2009

    Warning signs

    One of the common warning signs of an impending tipping point is when a system takes longer to recover to equilibrium after it is disturbed. Most systems exist in temporarily stable states of equilibrium. If the system is perturbed by some force and pushed in a new direction, it usually moves back toward equilibrium quickly. But if the system is approaching a tipping point, it tends to take longer to recover its balance.

    Another universal warning sign is when fluctuations in the system slow down. For example, in a climate approaching a tipping point, the weather tends to look more similar day to day leading up to the big change. In a brain before an epileptic seizure, neighboring patches of neurons look more like each other than they would in a regular brain. Prior to major economic change, stock markets in different areas start to act similarly to each other.

    http://www.livescience.com/7874-tipping-points-wall-street-nature-common.html

    Reply
    • coloradobob

       /  April 14, 2017

      While fluctuations take longer in these systems, they often are greater in magnitude. That is, under normal circumstances fluctuations tend to be short and small. When a drastic transition approaches, conditions fluctuate between greater extremes, and the fluctuations take longer to pass.

      “Close to a tipping point the system becomes more inert,” Scheffer said. “If you displace it, there is less of a tendency to come to its own equilibrium value.”

      Reply
      • coloradobob

         /  April 14, 2017

        The researchers reviewed data from many different types of systems, including ecological systems such as the Earth’s climate and ocean patterns, economic systems such as global stock market patterns, as well as medical systems in the human body such as asthma attacks, epileptic seizures and migraines.

        Reply
    • wharf rat

       /  April 14, 2017

      “the mother of all droughts is coming to California.”
      Right now, we’re having the mother of all rainy seasons, which has broken the worst drought in 1000 years; weather whiplash.

      RECORD BROKEN! Northern Sierra 8-station index now has wettest water year on record at 89.7″ surpassing old record of 1982-1983!

      https://twitter.com/CA_DWR?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

      My paper said town had 92.90 inches as of a week ago Wed. New figures out today. My son’s neighbor had 93 inches last month, and somebody in the little town to the west was reporting 135″. I can believe that; Branscomb (and I both) got 120 inches in ’97-’98.

      Reply
  15. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    I am glad that RS put up with my BS all these years . I am glad that so many of us have seen my point . We cannot mine this grimm vain of despair without relief.

    No one can stay underground for ever.

    Now a completely goofy song …………..

    Reply
    • We don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good here, Bob. I think we’ve all learned quite a lot from you. At least I can say that for myself.

      Reply
  16. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    now we really see

    Reply
  17. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Music , and art better than words .

    Reply
  18. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Children Of The Sun

    Reply
  19. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Hell comes to breakfast , the world spins faster. My plan to die at 40 was really bad idea. I am 27 years past my plan.

    Reply
  20. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Reply
  21. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    As fools go , I am a very old one.

    Reply
  22. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Now let us all think – From an an old fool ………………. Old wisdom . Very old wisdom.

    Reply
  23. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    A very old fool.

    Reply
  24. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Reply
  25. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Reply
  26. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Reply
  27. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Reply
  28. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Reply
  29. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Now back to our bloody work

    Reply
  30. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    It’s a Beautiful Day-Bulgaria

    Reply
  31. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Reply
  32. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    We are a flock of poor fools , God help us all.

    Reply
  33. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Any one ever heard this ?

    Bo Diddley – Who Do You Love

    Reply
  34. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Any one ever heard this ?

    Reply
    • wharf rat

       /  April 14, 2017

      IIRC, I went out and bought a kazoo so I could play along. Then I went back, and bought my first harmonica.

      have another hit of fresh air

      Reply
  35. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Reply
  36. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

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  37. Robert E Prue

     /  April 14, 2017

    Jack up the atmospheric co2 by 2 sevenths in 60 years and the climate system goes bonkers. What can I say?

    Reply
  38. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

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  39. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    The last and the best tonight …………………

    Reply
  40. Robert E Prue

     /  April 14, 2017

    Maybe a rapid reduction in ff plus plant a whole lotta trees. Paint everything white. It’s difficult to wrap ones head around. Soon, Trump and Kim Jong un are about to have a gun fight at the OK corral. I’m very concerned about the fate of civilization right now

    Reply
  41. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Reply
  42. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Reply
  43. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Reply
  44. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    I parked my turnip out back.

    Reply
  45. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Reply
  46. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Reply
  47. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Reply
  48. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Reply
  49. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    We blew a gasket on the Grapevine.

    Reply
  50. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Reply
  51. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Reply
  52. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Reply
  53. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    None of this will solve us. , none of this will cure us, none of this will save us. But some of it may cheer us.
    And we are running on empty when it comes to cheer.

    Reply
  54. Ryan in New England

     /  April 14, 2017

    Robert, you’ve been really cranking out some great writing! And thank you for the hat tip, it is always an honor for me 🙂

    Here’s a piece by Jeff Masters about the drought in Somalia.

    https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/rainy-season-starting-late-dire-somalia-drought-areas

    Somalia, site of the world’s deadliest weather-related disaster of the past 34 years–the 2010 – 2011 drought and famine, which killed 258,000 people—is under dire threat again, thanks to a multi-year drought that has gripped Eastern Africa since the second half of 2015. After the rains of the main March – June rainy season were deficient in 2016, the important “short” rains of October – November 2016 essentially failed, causing crop failures and severe food shortages. Insurance broker Aon Benfield estimated damages from the drought of $1.9 billion, with $825 million of that total for Somalia, based on the U.N. appeal for that amount of money in aid for the region. During March, at least 136 people died of hunger in Somalia due to the drought, according to the International Business Times, and hundreds more have died in a cholera outbreak this year.

    Reply
    • Ryan in New England

       /  April 14, 2017

      I find it to be ridiculous that thousands of children can die of starvation in Africa and America doesn’t care one bit, but a couple dozen die in Syria and a military intervention is required. The hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy of America is clear for all to see.

      Reply
      • coloradobob

         /  April 14, 2017

        Ryan in New England

        A guy gets pulled off a jet here, it goes on for days, in “depth”. And not one word about what Dr. Masters said.

        We really deserve what is coming to us.

        Reply
        • Vaughn Anderson

           /  April 14, 2017

          Ryan, Colorado, we do deserve it. On my Facebook page I sometimes discuss climate change and effects, provide links to articles, etc. I usually have up to 3 or 4 of my friends respond. I post something stupid or funny and maybe 20 respond….go figure…not that I post that much on Facebook.

          I think you are on to something about swings from equilibrium in the weather. Two years ago under the RRR I had 23″ of rain all year at my location. Last year I had 74″. This year so far closing in on 48″. Normal for a year ranges between 40″ to 45″. The changes also seem to occur suddenly. It is dry, dry, dry for an extended period…months to years; now it has been very wet for nearly 2 years. Will it switch back to dry? “Normal” does not seem to be in the cards.

  55. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    I for one, am a old beaten dog. . And burnt up. As well.
    Lord do I pray there are younger dogs with sharper teeth than me.

    Reply
  56. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Madness, madness ………

    Reply
  57. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Reply
  58. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    What Have I Done? – The Bridge on the River Kwai

    Reply
  59. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Colonel Saito
    Let me remind you of General Yamashita’s motto: be happy in your work.

    Reply
  60. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Colonel Saito: Do you know what will happen to me if the bridge is not built on time?
    Colonel Nicholson: I haven’t the foggiest.
    Colonel Saito: I’ll have to kill myself. What would you do if you were me?
    Colonel Nicholson: I suppose if I were you… I’d have to kill myself.
    Colonel Nicholson: [raising the glass of scotch he previously declined] Cheers!

    Reply
  61. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    A 60 year old movie. Stuck in my 7 year old head.

    Reply
    • coloradobob

       /  April 14, 2017

      Commander Shears: You make me sick with your heroics! There’s a stench of death about you. You carry it in your pack like the plague. Explosives and L-pills – they go well together, don’t they? And with you it’s just one thing or the other: destroy a bridge or destroy yourself. This is just a game, this war! You and Colonel Nicholson, you’re two of a kind, crazy with courage. For what? How to die like a gentleman, how to die by the rules – when the only important thing is how to live like a human being!… I’m not going to leave you here to die, Warden, because I don’t care about your bridge and I don’t care about your rules. If we go on, we go on together.

      Reply
  62. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Colonel Saito: I am Colonel Saito. In the name of His Imperial Majesty, I welcome you. I am the commanding officer of this camp, which is Camp 16 along the great railroad which will soon connect Bangkok with Rangoon. You British prisoners have been chosen to build a bridge across the River Kwai. It will be pleasant work, requiring skill, and officers will work as well as men. The Japanese Army cannot have idle mouths to feed. If you work hard, you will be treated well, but if you do not work hard, you will be punished!

    Reply
  63. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Be happy in your work.

    Reply
  64. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    Colonel Saito: I hate the British! You are defeated but you have no shame. You are stubborn but you have no pride. You endure but you have no courage.

    Reply
  65. coloradobob

     /  April 14, 2017

    [after speaking with Nicholson and Saito, neither of whom will relent]
    Major Clipton: Are they both mad? Or am I going mad? Or is it the sun?

    Reply
    • wili

       /  April 16, 2017

      We are all pretty much engaged, madly and busily, in building the ‘bridge over the river kwai.’ Some like rs are at least also trying to point out the consequences of our collective actions in aiding and abetting the enemy.

      Thanks, bob, for reminding me of this stunning and stunningly still relevant film.

      Reply
  66. ecocurious

     /  April 14, 2017

    How much control can we really exert over the planet-warming smog already in play? Were we to cut our carbon emission to a minimum, how much warming and CO2ppm is already locked into the system? Are there already feedback systems in place that would make our CO2 reductions irrelevant?
    What is the timelag between CO2 leaving the tailpipe of a car and CO2 reaching the upper atmosphere, where it becomes an effective greenhouse gas?
    The methane feedback system seems poised to overwhelm the problems of CO2 that we wish to talk ‘back from the ledge.’
    Can someone answer my questions with some data?

    Reply
    • If we halt all fossil fuel burning on a dime, we might limit warming to 1.5-1.8 C this Century as methane falls out and 3 to 3.5 C long term. If we add a decent amount of atmospheric carbon capture, it appears that would could restabilize a holocene like climate over 50-200 years. If the biosphere carbon feedback is in the range of 1 billion tons of CO2e or less, it’s a manageable problem. If it ranges to 2-4 billion tons of CO2e per year, then we have more of a problem with a potential runaway. When it comes to carbon feedbacks, the least harmful method of dealing with them is atmospheric carbon capture through various means, the most potentially harmful method is the solar radiation management form of geo-engineering.

      The data is based on paleoclimate proxy evidence: Pliocene CO2 and related temperatures — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pliocene_climate

      … and equlibrium climate sensitivity models which provide a good analysis for this Century — https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/ch19s19-4-2-2.html

      For BECCS (which is just one form of atmospheric carbon capture) we have: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bio-energy_with_carbon_capture_and_storage

      And for solar radiation management we have: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_radiation_management

      Take a good look at the limitations and risks for solar radiation management (which probably should include a very large warning label).

      Reply
      • Erik Frederiksen

         /  April 14, 2017

        “We might limit long term warming to 3-3.5C”

        “The global average temperature in the mid-Pliocene (3.3 Ma–3 Ma) was 2–3 °C higher than today, global sea level 25m higher”

        Seems we need to develop tech to remove a lot of CO2 from the atmosphere.

        Reply
        • At 410 ppm CO2 atmospheric we are on the top end of the Pliocene (3 C) and the bottom end of the Miocene (3-5 C) with regards to atmospheric forcing. Hence the 3-3.5 C proxy range for the long term.

      • ecocurious

         /  April 15, 2017

        Just one following question: if we have already achieved 410ppmv, which seems to be on the high margin of Pliocene levels, why don’t we already have global temps equal to Plioccene norms? Or are we in a phase of ‘climate catch-up?’
        I looked at SRM– the entry-level human cooperation, cost, long-term effort and scalding downside (should it suffer system failure) point to improbability. It’s our standard to put a bandaid on the problem and not solve the core issues of Gaia-cidal growth.

        Reply
        • Bill Everett

           /  April 17, 2017

          Atmospheric CO2 is the main thermostat for the global temperature. I am not aware of any thermostat system that is instantaneous. There is a reason why many cookbook recipes begin with “preheat oven to …” It takes time for the oven to reach the temperature that you set on the thermostat. For the oven, the time to equlibrium (when the temperature is in a stable relationship with the thermostat can be measured in minutes, maybe 10 to 30 minutes). For the earth system, the time to reach equilibrium is on the order of a few centuries. The rate of warming in the earth system roughly depends on the difference between the current temperature and the thermostat setting (CO2 concentration in the atmosphere). This means that warming rate is faster at the beginning and slows down to very slow during the last century in reaching equilibrium.

          There are uncertainties regarding the equilibrium temperature for 410 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere. There is virtually universal agreement that the equilibrium temperature for 410 ppm CO2 in the stmosphere is TOO HIGH for our current human civilization.

          We need to turn the CO2 thermostat down. Reducing our CO2 emissions means turning up the thermostat not so fast. Not good enough. Eliminating our CO2 emissions (zero emissions) means not changing the thermostat by human activity. Nature may have crossed some tipping points and is helping to turn the thermostat up a bit. In any case, not good enough. We need to TO TURN THE THERMOSTAT DOWN. Turning the thermostat down means negative emissions (removing CO2 from the atmosphere).

          Finally, if we eliminated our emissions and starting pulling CO2 from the atmosphere such that the concentration began to decrease from 410 ppm, then the globe would continue to warm until the global temperature matched the CO2 thermostat setting. Of course, the globe would warm more and more slowly as the atmospheric CO2 concentration decreased.

  67. Suzanne

     /  April 14, 2017

    OMG…no words…Today at the Washington Post…
    “Scott Pruitt calls for an EXIT from the Paris Climate Agreement”
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/04/14/trumps-epa-chief-scott-pruitt-calls-for-an-exit-to-the-paris-climate-agreement/?tid=hybrid_experimentrandom_1_na

    President Trump’s top environment official called for an “exit” from the historic Paris agreement Thursday, the first time such a high-ranking administration official has so explicitly disavowed the agreement endorsed by nearly 200 countries to fight climate change.

    Speaking with “Fox & Friends,” Pruitt commented, “Paris is something that we need to really look at closely. It’s something we need to exit in my opinion.”

    “It’s a bad deal for America,” Pruitt continued. “It was an America second, third, or fourth kind of approach. China and India had no obligations under the agreement until 2030. We front-loaded all of our costs.”

    Reply
  68. Bluesky

     /  April 14, 2017

    Hi. Can dikes/seawalls withstand against the incoming sea level rise in the future? This week, you Robert was talking about 10 feet in 2050 as a worst case scenario for miami. Is this also the case for europe, 10 feet in 2050 worst case? Are dikes and seawalls strong enough to hold back the sea level rise?

    Reply
    • Suzanne

       /  April 14, 2017

      Will NOT work in S. Fl because of our limestone soil. Right now the salt water is coming in from underneath…not just over the sea walls.

      Reply
  69. Suzanne

     /  April 14, 2017

    At the WP..”Scientists just found a strange and worrying crack in one of Greenland’s biggest glaciers:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/04/14/scientists-just-found-a-strange-and-worrying-crack-in-one-of-greenlands-biggest-glaciers/?utm_term=.f679192a03b9

    Scientists examining satellite images of one of Greenland’s largest glaciers believe they have found an unexpected new crack in its floating ice shelf that could contribute to a dramatic break in coming years.

    Reply
  70. wili

     /  April 15, 2017

    Deeply honored to get two hat tips in a row. Thanks for your prodigious output, rs!

    Reply
  1. The Permafrost is Thawing 20 Percent Faster Than Previously Thought – General LEFTY

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