No El Nino — But March of 2017 Was the Second Hottest Ever Recorded

According to today’s report from NASA’s global temperature monitor, March of 2017 was the second hottest such month recorded in the 137 year climate record.

Temperatures for the month were 1.12 C hotter than NASA’s 20th Century baseline and 1.34 C hotter than 1880s averages. These warm temperatures likely represent a climate state not seen on Earth since at least the Eemian climate epoch of 115,000 years ago. They are also now in a range that is producing serious geophysical changes such as glacial melt, sea level rise, sea ice melt, more extreme weather, and declining ocean health.

(Temperature anomaly distributions during March of 2017 is indicative of continued, global warming related polar amplification. Image source: NASA.)

Much of the excess heat during March, as has been the case with many recent months, has focused at the poles. The northern polar region in particular saw considerable above average temperatures with extreme +4-12 C anomalies focusing over Siberia and the Russian side of the Arctic Ocean. 2-4 C above average conditions, meanwhile, blanketed much of Antarctica.

A key benchmark — sea surface temperatures in the central Equatorial Pacific — remained near average. Typically, warmer than normal temperatures in this region associated with El Nino tend to help push the world to new high temperature marks as the warm side of natural variability combines with the considerable effects of 405 ppm CO2 levels (along with other greenhouse gasses).

(The highest global CO2 levels in 4-15 million years is the primary driver of the present global warming event. During April through May, seasonal atmospheric CO2 levels peak. But since the mid 19th Century global CO2 levels have risen from 280 parts per million to the present average of 405 parts per million — primarily due to fossil fuel burning. Image source: The Copernicus Observatory.)

But despite near average ocean temperatures in this zone and a lack of El Nino conditions, March of 2017 was just 0.16 C cooler than the record warm March of 2016 and fully 0.2 C warmer than the, now third warmest, March of 2010.

NOAA models still predict that El Nino is about 50 percent likely to form during late summer — which could help to push 2017 temps into an even warmer range. But high uncertainty remains in this forecast. All that said, even without El Nino, the first three months of 2017 have averaged 1.26 C hotter than 1880s averages — which is 0.06 C warmer than the 1.2 C departure for the whole of the record-hot year of 2016. In other words, the first three months of 2017 were a hair hotter than the record hot 2016 annual averages. And with no El Nino providing an assist to these temperatures, it’s pretty clear that the world has entered a new, hot territory and left the tamer past decades far behind.

Links:

NASA GISS

The Copernicus Observatory

NOAA’s El Nino Diagnostic Discussion

Hat tip to Cate

Hat tip to Entropicman

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134 Comments

  1. Adam

     /  April 14, 2017

    Dear. Fucking. God.

    Reply
  2. Vic

     /  April 14, 2017

    In the words of the late Edgar Mitchell, NASA astronaut and sixth person to walk on the moon :

    “From out there on the Moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.'”

    Reply
    • Suzanne

       /  April 15, 2017

      It is comments like these that wish we had a “like” button. I couldn’t agree more with that quote from Edgar Mitchell. Thank you.

      Reply
  3. It’s getting closer – beginning to feel quite palpable, the point at which Homo sapiens will no longer be able to proceed quite as smugly as we have been.

    Reply
    • wpNS Alito

       /  April 15, 2017

      The fundamental challenge of reversing AGW: If it’s everybody’s problem, it’s nobody’s problem. Someone else will deal with it. Meanwhile we’ll focus on the mortgage, home care of parent with Alzheimer’s, nephew’s drug problem, feeding the poor, reversing false convictions, fighting AIDS, Creationism taught in schools, supporting MSF or maybe just enjoying the new Golden Age of Television.

      Reply
      • Agreed. It’s the fossil fuel industries’ problem, and that of their shills. Representations to the contrary are just disinformation.

        Do what you can. Be politically active, and ask your representatives to zero in on these folks. Cut your carbon footprint. Direct your purchases and investments toward companies that are acting on climate–every time you buy a product, you vote.

        Reply
    • Steven Blaisdell

       /  April 18, 2017

      Yessir.

      Reply
  4. Just for fun, here is my added comment as I shared this article:

    Welcome to another episode of “As The Bell Tolls”
    The banality of existential demise: As any climate nerd would know, the periodic “El Nino” periods, when Pacific Ocean winds suck heat temporarily stored (the oceans “grab” most of the excess heat generated by global warming at first) in the oceans to the surface, are when Earth’s temperatures really crank up.
    Thus, during the 2015/16 El Nino, Earth’s temps ratcheted up to about 1.2C above pre-fossil fuel times, the warmest temps in about 115,000 years (from where they had been sitting for about a decade at about 0.9 above)
    In 2017, we have not been in an El Nino period, but…..so far we are at about 1.26C above. This may indicate that the warming is becoming less dependent on the periodic El Ninos. THIS, assuming that we seemed to be a species that somehow cared about such things, would be quite bad news.
    Only a matter of some years – possibly in the single digits – before lfe will no longer be able to proceed quite so smugly as it still does for many of us. Smoke ’em if you got ’em

    Reply
  5. Erik Frederiksen

     /  April 15, 2017

    An article today in the Guardian about Greenland’s ice sheet, linked to at the bottom.

    This study found that the Jacobshavn Isbrae glacier on Greenland sits on reverse-sloped submarine ground, conditions which lead to Marine Ice Sheet Instability, or irreversible collapse.

    But this glacier drains, if memory serves, only around 1/2m of sea level rise equivalent of ice. Much of the Greenland ice sheet rests on gnarly bedrock so glaciologists can’t figure out how the ice can fall into the ocean, much has to wait to melt.

    Antarctica has around 22m worth of ice similarly situated, except in West Antarctica there’s 3.3m of ice which rests on smooth topography with a very wide channel for a lot of ice to rapidly move through.

    Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is 120km wide and the next stop after it gets off the stabilizing ledge it’s on is the Trans Antarctic Mountains.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2017/apr/14/new-study-shows-worrisome-signs-for-greenland-ice#comments

    Reply
  6. Andy_in_SD

     /  April 15, 2017

    Next El Nino may well push us into some serious new territory unfortunately.

    These effects may get amplified (image from FAO).

    Reply
  7. Erik Frederiksen

     /  April 15, 2017

    “the world has entered a new, hot territory” Temperature continues to ratchet up. We’ll be in “new, hot territory” for some time now because as the climate keeps changing, everything is new.

    Adaptation strategies tend to try to adapt to a new climate state. But due to things like long term carbon cycles and ice sheet response time we won’t have a new stable climate state to try to adapt to for many millennia.

    For example, with sea level rise, if all fossil fuels were to be combusted and the CO2 released to the atmosphere we’d be looking at several meters per century for 1000 years.

    Where would we relocate coastal cities, ports and naval facilities? We’ve already risked several meters this century with the W Antarctic regardless of what our future emissions are.

    Reply
    • Andy_in_SD

       /  April 15, 2017

      The big issue is the food chain. We can move a naval facility, we can’t move a coral reef. Nature will punish us for this.

      Reply
      • Cate

         /  April 15, 2017

        Andy, spot on. The food chain, and by extension, the food supply, seems to be largely ignored in all the focus on SLR and mitigation against flooding, etc. Climate change in its beginning stages is melting the cryosphere and causing noticeable weather extremes that are already affecting crops in certain areas, not to mention contributing to the worst famine we have seen on the planet in modern times. And we ain’t seen nothing yet. When climate change really gets going, we won’t be worrying so much about SLR and building dikes and so on. We’ll be wondering how the hell we’re going to survive as the food supply gets blasted. This is yet another huge elephant in the room.

        #KeepItInTheGround !

        Reply
        • yep – food and water, food and water….all else will pale in comparison (though relocating many millions of folks due to SLR is not small thing!!)

        • Erik Frederiksen

           /  April 15, 2017

          Food insecurity will likely be a problem, it already is, before large fast sea level rise.

          The problem is that the impacts on fisheries and agriculture will weaken us substantially by the time we then have to face the task of retreat from the coastal areas.

      • Bill Everett

         /  April 21, 2017

        Some corals can be transplanted. Unfortunately, very few people are interested in assisting nature to adapt to the changes we have already produced, and too many people are interested in worsening the problems. Sad.

        Reply
  8. Penny Laskey

     /  April 15, 2017

    Good talk by Kevin Anderson on 9th March, 2017 at http://www.climate-series.eng.cam.ac.uk/ccls-2017/lecture-3
    He believes technology alone can not deliver on the Paris budgets and so we need Marshall-style transition in supply technologies, plus rapid penetration of more efficient end-use technologies, plus profound shift in behaviour and practices, plus development of economic models to fit these purposes.
    He reminds us of the imbalance- if the top 10% of global emitters reduced their carbon footprint to that of the average EU citizen then global CO2 emissions would be cut 33%.
    He finishes with a quote from Robert Unger: ‘the greatest obstacle to transforming the world is that we lack the clarity and imagination to conceive that it could be different’.

    I want to thank Robert and all his Scribblers. Where else does this cornucopia of CC info exist!?!

    As for the depressing side of it all- and I just finished ‘The Road’ by Corman McCarthy- PHEW!
    Well, Colorado Bob- the saying ‘the universe is not only stranger than we understand but stranger than we can understand’ gives me some tranquillity- maybe when we reach the other side (and I hope you can hang around a while yet) it will be chock-full of all these species we are busily shouldering aside!

    Reply
    • We need to rapidly deploy the renewable energy systems that we have now. We are presently capable of hitting near zero carbon emissions. Adding renewables adds efficiency. But we could certainly add still more. In addition, we will need some form of atmospheric carbon removal. We have a few methods that are in the pilot stage.

      Kevin has, in the past, and in my view, tended to understate our capabilities. And has, in my view, been overly critical of BECCS and other atmospheric carbon capture techniques that are now available:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bio-energy_with_carbon_capture_and_storage

      But to be clear most of the problem can and must be dealt with by transitioning away from fossil fuels and adding in energy efficiencies.

      Reply
    • Kevin has also been overly critical, in my view, of the Paris Climate Summit — oddly joining up with those that support the very dangerous solar radiation management technology in his critiques (later, though, he clairified his position against SRM, but this was somewhat after the fact).

      To be clear, Paris was an advance in previous policy positions on climate change. It’s useful to say it did not go far enough and needs to be improved. But it should be celebrated for its ambition to fully transition away from fossil fuel burning by mid century and to attempt to hit the 1.5 C target.

      Furthermore, this criticism of ‘technology’ is too much of a blanket argument. Different people think of technology in different ways. We should simply focus on methods that work — deployment of wind and solar, increasing efficiencies, adding helpful policies that encourage a change and reduction in harmful consumption, working on deploying atmospheric carbon capture, and above all halting harmful fossil fuel burning and keeping these substances in the ground.

      Finally, I absolutely agree with Kevin’s statements to the point that social change toward more equality is not only helpful in dealing with the climate crisis — it is a big part of dealing with the problem. The wealthiest individuals produce 10,000 to 100,000 or more times the carbon emissions of a subsistence farmer for example. Yet the subsistence farmer will be harmed first by early climate impacts. Inequality, both nationally and globally, have driven harmful consumption and hoarding by those at the top of economic spectrums. More equal societies are not only more fair, they tend to consume less and in a less harmful fashion. This is likely in no small part driven by cultural values. If community and quality of life are emphasized over the accumulation of material goods, then individual behavior becomes far more benevolent to the earth system and the climate.

      I think Kevin intends well. But I think we need to be careful in that proponents of climate change response do not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good and form a kind of circular firing squad. We all have slightly different views, but I think we can and should all get together to support policy advances like Paris (while pushing for greater advances), to support the IPCC (while providing helpful critiques on gray areas or contentious points), and to absolutely support the energy transition — without which there is no way we will get to net zero carbon.

      Reply
    • Vaughn Anderson

       /  April 16, 2017

      Penny, I also read “The Road”: A timely tale set at the edge of human survival. I would not want to experience events like those described in the book.

      Reply
    • synaxis

       /  April 16, 2017

      Glad to hear that other folks are reading The Road (which I read for the first time last fall). I think that ideally the novel should be read within 48 hours followed by the film (DVD). The screenplay helps too (link following). It’s a staggering depiction of the dystopia that could be ahead in the event of runaway climate change.

      http://www.imsdb.com/scripts/Road,-The.html

      Reply
    • I urge folks also to check “Drawdown,” edited by Paul Hawken. Just out, but he has a long record in sustainability and is a very sharp guy. Subtitle is “The most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming.” I’ve ordered a copy. More info here: http://www.drawdown.org/:

      Blurb: “Drawdown maps, measures, models, and describes the 100 most substantive solutions to global warming. For each solution, we describe its history, the carbon impact it provides, the relative cost and savings, the path to adoption, and how it works. The goal of the research that informs Drawdown is to determine if we can reverse the buildup of atmospheric carbon within thirty years. All solutions modeled are already in place, well understood, analyzed based on peer-reviewed science, and are expanding around the world.”

      Reply
  9. John McCormick

     /  April 15, 2017

    Robert, thanks for replying to my suggestion you visit Chris Mooney to discuss how to win the message battle. You replied “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.”

    Let me add another suggestion. Ask Michael Mann to join you. Talk about Mooney’s boss and owner of the Post and Amazon. Talk about the richest man in the world paying Chris to report on global warming. Talk about creating a cable program and magazine devoted entirely to global warming; what to know, how to act. Give him a proposal and back it up with political and activist support. This is possible. He has the money and obviously bought into believing the crisis is upon us. Who else has the money and mechanics to shut down the denial press?

    You are “on fire” and we depend upon you for more. And, there is a world audience that needs this information. Your commitment alone should sell these big ideas to Mr. Bezos.

    Reply
    • coloradobob

       /  April 15, 2017
      Reply
    • Cate

       /  April 15, 2017

      Jeff Bezos? Seriously? The founder of Blue Origin? The guy who wants to see “millions of people living and working in space”? Who’s sunk $500 million and who knows how much more into developing space travel to “evacuate humans” (his words, not mine)? LOL

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Origin

      Reply
      • John McCormick

         /  April 15, 2017

        Cate, George Bezos publishes global warming articles in the Washington Post. Period.

        If we can’t find a way to leverage his wealth and investment then we are ignoring a possibility regardless of how we may feel about how he spends his fortune.

        I say thanks George Bezos for broadening the Post’s focus to include article about the global warming crisis.

        We need more creative thinking and less vitriol.

        Reply
        • Cate

           /  April 15, 2017

          John, forgive me for mistaking George for Jeff. It wasn’t clear from your post to whom you were referring. My “vitriol” referred to Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and space-entrepreneur extraordinaire. I know nothing about George Bezos. But I happen to think that those to whom much has been given have much to give back—a very old-fashioned and unfashionable notion, I admit, that is now considered outlandishly naive. The thing is, if George Bezos has that much money, and assuming that publishing climate change stories indicates real concern about the issues, perhaps it’s time for him—and certainly up to him—to “leverage” a bit of that wealth in the cause of climate change action. Why would he wait any longer to be convinced? Can he not read and think for himself? What more proof might he want?

  10. climatehawk1

     /  April 15, 2017

    Tweet scheduled.

    Reply
  11. Paul

     /  April 15, 2017

    Here’s an article with a nice summary about circumstantial evidence for abrupt climate change and an explanation of several feedback loops that may be contributing to the recent spike in warming. These include forest die back, Greenland glacial meltwater affecting the Gulf Stream, and loss of Northern Hemisphere snow cover. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/40204-abrupt-climate-change-is-happening-faster-than-before

    Reply
  12. wharf rat

     /  April 16, 2017

    Arctic ice in retreat
    NASA’s airborne survey shows how global warming is transforming the Arctic
    http://mashable.com/2017/04/13/arctic-meltdown-nasa-photos-changing-ice/#kYhVQxG8NPqB

    Reply
  13. coloradobob

     /  April 16, 2017

    The World’s Most Polluted River Revealed in Photos
    A recent high court ruling in India that gives the Ganges personhood status may lead to environmental redemption.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/04/ganges-river-photos-giulio-di-sturco/?google_editors_picks=true

    Reply
    • coloradobob

       /  April 16, 2017

      Hindus around the world have worshipped the river for centuries, their beliefs stemming from the story of the self-cleaning river god Genga. The same cleansing properties cannot be said for the river itself, whose waters are poisoned by millions of gallons of industrial effluents and raw sewage every day. Not to mention the hundreds of bodies that are cremated, or sometimes simply wrapped in muslin, and tossed into the river daily.

      But things are changing for the “Ganga Mata,” or divine mother, after a recent high court ruling in India. The Uttarakhand High Court has declared the Ganges and its main tributary, the Yamuna, “living persons.”

      Reply
      • wili

         /  April 16, 2017

        In the Mahabharata, the river is a goddess. A wonderful story early in that epic about her is that she fell in love with a mortal king and so decided to become temporarily mortal to wed him. As it happened, a whole class of gods (the Vasus ‘the Good Ones”) had been condemned by a particularly powerful Brahman, Vasishta, to be born into mortal bodies. They sheepishly approach Ganga and ask that she might be their mother so that she could quickly kill them after their births so that they could return to their immortal bodies. She laughingly agrees, but of course something goes wrong with the last one, and he lives to be the Methuselah of Indic lore, Bhishma, wisest of the wise.

        If only our government granted citizen standing to some of our rivers, streams, mountains…as they have foolishly granted citizen status to corporations (and soon fetuses?), and have allowed money to have the same protected status as speech.

        Reply
        • coloradobob

           /  April 16, 2017

          wili –
          Great comment , I would have been a very Hindu, I couldn’t get past the father , the son, and the holely ghost.

        • wili

           /  April 16, 2017

          Me neither. Maybe if they did a bit more with that ghost thing, it might have been more appealing. When you look at early Greek, Hindu or even Buddhist mythologies, they are so much richer than the mere holy trinity. At least the Catholics have a bunch of saints with some pretty interesting stories (many of whom, of course, represent pre-Christian deities themselves).

  14. wili

     /  April 16, 2017

    Here is a list just posted by ASLR at neven’s site that some might find useful (sorry for its substantial length):

    28 references [not including either von der Heydt et. al. 2016 nor Friedrich et al (2016)] that either directly, or indirectly, indicate that climate sensitivity is most likely significantly higher than the range summarized by AR5:

    1. The linked reference analyses the CMIP3&5 results to conclude the ECS is likely 3.9C +/- 0.45C:

    Chengxing Zhai, Jonathan H. Jiang & Hui Su (2015), “Long-term cloud change imprinted in seasonal cloud variation: More evidence of high climate sensitivity”, Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1002/2015GL065911

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL065911/full

    2. The linked reference provides findings from CMIP5 of the continued poleward expansion of the Hadley Cell with continued global warming; which in-turn supports the idea that ECS is greater than 3C:

    Lijun Tao, Yongyun Hu & Jiping Liu (May 2016), “Anthropogenic forcing on the Hadley circulation in CMIP5 simulations”, Climate Dynamics, Volume 46, Issue 9, pp 3337-3350 DOI: 10.1007/s00382-015-2772-1

    http://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00382-015-2772-1

    3. The linked reference presents new paleo evidence about the Eocene. While the authors emphasize that their findings support the IPCC interpretation for climate sensitivity, when looking at the attached Fig 4 panel f, it appears to me that this is only the case if one averages ECS over the entire Eocene; while if one focuses on the Early Eocene Climate Optimum (EECO) which CO₂ levels were higher than in current modern times, it appear that ECS was higher (around 4C) than the IPCC AR5 assumes (considering that we are increasing CO2 concentrations faster now that during the EECO this gives me concern rather than reassurance).

    Eleni Anagnostou, Eleanor H. John, Kirsty M. Edgar, Gavin L. Foster, Andy Ridgwell, Gordon N. Inglis, Richard D. Pancost, Daniel J. Lunt & Paul N. Pearson (2016), “Changing atmospheric CO2 concentration was the primary driver of early Cenozoic climate”, Nature, doi:10.1038/nature17423

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature17423.html

    4. Tan et al (2016) indicates that ECS may well be between 5.0 and 5.3C.

    Ivy Tan, Trude Storelvmo & Mark D. Zelinka (08 Apr 2016), “Observational constraints on mixed-phase clouds imply higher climate sensitivity”, Science, Vol. 352, Issue 6282, pp. 224-227, DOI: 10.1126/science.aad5300

    http://science.sciencemag.org/content/352/6282/224

    5. According to the IPCC AR5 report: “The transient climate response is likely in the range of 1.0°C to 2.5°C (high confidence) and extremely unlikely greater than 3°C”; however, the linked reference uses only observed data to indicate that TCR is 2.0 +/- 0.8C. Thus AR5 has once again erred on the side of least drama.

    T. Storelvmo, T. Leirvik, U. Lohmann, P. C. B. Phillips & M. Wild (2016), “Disentangling greenhouse warming and aerosol cooling to reveal Earth’s climate sensitivity”, Nature Geoscience, doi:10.1038/ngeo2670

    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo2670.html

    6. The linked reference reassesses ECS from CMIP3 &5 and find an ensemble-mean of 3.9C, and I note that CMIP3&5 likely err on the side of least drama as they ignore several important non-linear slow feedbacks that could be accelerated by global warming:

    Chengxing Zhai, Jonathan H. Jiang, Hui Su (2015), “Long-term cloud change imprinted in seasonal cloud variation: More evidence of high climate sensitivity”, Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1002/2015GL065911

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL065911/full

    7. The linked reference could not make it more clear that paleo-evidence from inter-glacial periods indicates that ECS is meaningfully higher than 3C and that climate models are commonly under predicting the magnitude of coming climate change.

    Dana L. Royer (2016), “Climate Sensitivity in the Geologic Past”, Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Vol. 44

    http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-earth-100815-024150?src=recsys

    8. Thompson indicates that ECS has a 95%CL range of from 3C to 6.3C, with a best estimate of 4C, and Sherwood (2014) has a higher value still:

    Climate sensitivity by Roy Thompson published by Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, DOI: 10.1017/S1755691015000213

    http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=10061758&fileId=S1755691015000213

    9. Tian (2015) indicates that the double-ITCZ bias constrains ECS to its high end (around 4.0C):

    Tian, B. (2015), “Spread of model climate sensitivity linked to double-Intertropical Convergence Zone bias”, Geophys. Res. Lett., 42, doi:10.1002/2015GL064119.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL064119/abstract

    10. Sherwood et al (2014), which found that ECS cannot be less than 3C, and is likely currently in the 4.1C range. Also, everyone should remember that the effective ECS is not a constant, and models project that following a BAU pathway will result in the effective ECS increasing this century:

    Sherwood, S.C., Bony, S. and Dufresne, J.-L., (2014) “Spread in model climate sensitivity traced to atmospheric convective mixing”, Nature; Volume: 505, pp 37–42, doi:10.1038/nature12829

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v505/n7481/full/nature12829.html

    11. The linked reference studies numerous climate models and finds that: “… those that simulate the present-day climate best even point to a best estimate of ECS in the range of 3–4.5°C.”
    Reto Knutti, Maria A. A. Rugenstein (2015), “Feedbacks, climate sensitivity and the limits of linear models”, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2015.0146

    http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/373/2054/20150146

    12. The linked reference indicates that the cloud feedback from tropical land is robustly positive. As AR5 did not know whether this contribution to climate sensitivity was positive or negative, this clearly indicates that AR5 errs on the side of least drama with regard to both TCR & ECS:

    Youichi Kamae, Tomoo Ogura, Masahiro Watanabe, Shang-Ping Xie and Hiroaki Ueda (8 March 2016), “Robust cloud feedback over tropical land in a warming climate”, Atmospheres, DOI: 10.1002/2015JD024525

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015JD024525/abstract

    13. Graeme L. Stephens, Brian H. Kahn and Mark Richardson (5 May, 2016), “The Super Greenhouse effect in a changing climate”, Journal of Climate, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0234.1

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0234.1

    14. The linked reference assumes different degrees of nonlinearity for climate feedback mechanisms and concludes that such nonlinearity for positive feedback represents a Black Swan risk that linear climate models cannot recognize:

    Jonah Bloch-Johnson, Raymond T. Pierrehumbert & Dorian S. Abbot (24 June 2015), “Feedback temperature dependence determines the risk of high warming”, Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1002/2015GL064240

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL064240/full

    15. While the linked (open access) reference has many appropriate qualifying statements and disclaimers, it notes that the AR5 paleo estimates of ECS were linear approximations that change when non-linear issues are considered. In particular the find for the specific ECS, S[CO2,LI], during the Pleistocence (ie the most recent 2 million years) that:
    “During Pleistocene intermediate glaciated climates and interglacial periods, S[CO2,LI] is on average ~ 45 % larger than during Pleistocene full glacial conditions.”

    Therefore, researchers such as James Hansen who relied on paleo findings that during recent full glacial periods ECS was about 3.0C, did not know that during interglacial periods this value would be 45% larger, or 4.35C.

    Köhler, P., de Boer, B., von der Heydt, A. S., Stap, L. B., and van de Wal, R. S. W. (2015), “On the state dependency of the equilibrium climate sensitivity during the last 5 million years”, Clim. Past, 11, 1801-1823, doi:10.5194/cp-11-1801-2015.

    http://www.clim-past.net/11/1801/2015/cp-11-1801-2015.html
    http://www.clim-past.net/11/1801/2015/cp-11-1801-2015.pdf

    16. The linked reference implies that climate sensitivity (ESS) could be much higher than previously assumed:

    Jagniecki,Elliot A. et al. (2015), “Eocene atmospheric CO2from the nahcolite proxy”, Geology, http://dx.doi.org/10.1130/G36886.1

    http://geology.gsapubs.org/content/early/2015/10/23/G36886.1

    17. The linked open access reference identifies three constraints on low cloud formation that suggest that cloud feedback is more positive than previously thought. If verified this would mean that both TCR and ECS (and ESS) are larger than previously thought:

    Stephen A. Klein and Alex Hall (26 October 2015), “Emergent Constraints for Cloud Feedbacks”, Climate Feedbacks (M Zelinka, Section Editor), Current Climate Change Reports, pp 1-12, DOI 10.1007/s40641-015-0027-1

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs40641-015-0027-1

    18. The linked article indicates that values of TCR based on observed climate change are likely underestimated:

    J. M. Gregory, T. Andrews and P. Good (5 October 2015), “The inconstancy of the transient climate response parameter under increasing CO₂”, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2014.0417

    http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/373/2054/20140417

    19. The linked reference indicates that most current climate models underestimate climate sensitivity:

    J. T. Fasullo, B. M. Sanderson & K. E. Trenberth (2015), “Recent Progress in Constraining Climate Sensitivity With Model Ensembles”, Current Climate Change Reports, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 268-275, DOI 10.1007/s40641-015-0021-7

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40641-015-0021-7?wt_mc=email.event.1.SEM.ArticleAuthorOnlineFirst

    20. The linked reference indicates that studies that assuming linearity of climate sensitivity likely underestimate the risk of high warming.

    Jonah Bloch-Johnson, Raymond T. Pierrehumbert and Dorian S. Abbot (June 2015), “Feedback temperature dependence determines the risk of high warming”, Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1002/2015GL064240

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL064240/abstract

    21. The linked reference indicates that new research (from PlioMIP2) demonstrates that the climate sensitivity for the Pliocene was higher than previously believed (from PlioMIP1):

    Kamae, Y., Yoshida, K., and Ueda, H.: Sensitivity of Pliocene climate simulations in MRI-CGCM2.3 to respective boundary conditions, Clim. Past, 12, 1619-1634, doi:10.5194/cp-12-1619-2016, 2016.

    http://www.clim-past.net/12/1619/2016/

    http://www.clim-past.net/12/1619/2016/cp-12-1619-2016.pdf

    22. The linked reference indicates that corrected recent observations indicate that the most likely value of ECS may be as high as 4.6C (see attached plot of the time dependent curve):

    Kyle C. Armour (27 June 2016), “Projection and prediction: Climate sensitivity on the rise”, Nature Climate Change, doi:10.1038/nclimate3079

    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate3079.html

    23. The linked reference indicates that the climate responses (climate sensitivities) projected by advanced climate models generally match observations when apple to apple comparisons are made. This is a useful finding as advanced climate models generally indicate that climate sensitivity values are towards the high end of the IPCC climate sensitivity range:

    Mark Richardson, Kevin Cowtan, Ed Hawkins & Martin B. Stolpe (2016), “Reconciled climate response estimates from climate models and the energy budget of Earth”, Nature Climate Change, doi:10.1038/nclimate3066

    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate3066.html

    24. The linked reference discusses paleodata to indicate that climate sensitivity increased from 3.3 – 5.6 (mean of 4.45k) at the beginning of the PETM up to 3.7 – 6.5 K (mean of 5.1K) near the peak of the PETM; and that if we burn only the easily accessible carbon reserves then GMST could increase by about 10C. I note these climate sensitivity values are much higher than those inherent in the CMIP5 projections:

    Gary Shaffer, Matthew Huber, Roberto Rondanelli & Jens Olaf Pepke Pedersen (23 June 2016), “Deep-time evidence for climate sensitivity increase with warming”, Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1002/2016GL069243

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2016GL069243/full

    25. The linked Reuters article notes that NASA reported that a new satellite-based method have located 39 unreported sources of anthropogenic emissions that, when accounted for, increase our previously estimated amount of sulfur dioxide by about 12 percent of all such anthropogenic emissions from 2005 to 2014. This indicates that the CMIP5 projections also underestimated the impact of this negative forcing source; which raises the prospect that climate sensitivity (ECS) is likely higher than the CMIP5 models indicate, and the linked Zhai et al (2015) reference analyses of the CMIP3&5 results conclude that the ECS is likely 3.9C +/- 0.45C:

    Chengxing Zhai, Jonathan H. Jiang & Hui Su (2015), “Long-term cloud change imprinted in seasonal cloud variation: More evidence of high climate sensitivity”, Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1002/2015GL065911

    http://in.reuters.com/article/us-nasa-pollution-idINKCN0YO1PW

    26. The linked reference uses an information-theoretic weighting of climate models by how well they reproduce the satellite measured deseasonlized covariance of shortwave cloud reflection, indicates a most likely value of ECS of 4.0C; which indicates that AR5 errs on the side of least drama:

    Florent Brient & Tapio Schneider (2016), “Constraints on climate sensitivity from space-based measurements of low-cloud reflection”, Journal of Climate, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0897.1

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0897.1

    27. The linked article indicates that the contribution of sea-ice loss to Arctic Amplification is regulated by the PDO and that in positive PDO phases (like we are in now) there should be less Arctic Amplification. Thus the fact that we are currently experiencing high Arctic Amplification during a period of highly positive PDO values gives cause for concern that climate sensitivity may be higher than considered by AR5:

    James A. Screen & Jennifer A. Francis (2016), “Contribution of sea-ice loss to Arctic amplification is regulated by Pacific Ocean decadal variability”, Nature Climate Change, DOI: 10.1038/nclimate3011

    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate3011.html

    28. The linked reference uses an information-theoretic weighting of climate models by how well they reproduce the satellite measured deseasonlized covariance of shortwave cloud reflection, indicates a most likely value of ECS of 4.0C. As this satellite data is certainly biased by the recent acceleration of natural aerosol emissions associated with the increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration, the actually ECS is likely higher than 4.0C, as will become apparent if climate change reduces future plant activity. Unfortunately, the envisioned upgrades to the Paris Pact do not have any contingency for addressing such high values (4 to 4.5C) of ECS (including accelerting NET):

    Florent Brient & Tapio Schneider (2016), “Constraints on climate sensitivity from space-based measurements of low-cloud reflection”, Journal of Climate, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0897.1

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0897.1

    And for those who do not like to read, I provide the two attached images of high equilibrium climate sensitivity, with the first based on paleo data, and the second based on modern observations.

    Reply
    • Just saw this. Post cleared. Thanks for the detailed list.

      Reply
      • wili

         /  April 17, 2017

        Thanks for clearing this, rs. And sorry about the length, but it seemed like info that you and others might appreciate seeing in one place.

        Sorry also to not make clearer at the beginning that each of these is a study that indicates that Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS) –the amount the global atmosphere is likely to heat up with a doubling of CO2 in the intermediate term–is likely to be higher than the 3 degrees C generally assumed in many (most?) models.

        Again, people should correct me if I get any of this wrong, but my understanding (from a weak memory and a glance at wiki ‘-) ) is that ECS is intermediate between Transient Climate Response (TCR), that deals with climate response over periods of up to 50 – 100 years, on the one hand, and Earth System Sensitivity (ESS), that accommodates time frames long enough to account for albedo response from the melting of entire ice sheet (and is therefore generally/always higher than ECS), on the other.

        (I post this info, probably well known to all here, mostly to help me remember it, since the alphabet soup of climate acronyms sometimes leaves me a bit dazed! :))

        Reply
        • It’s good to have access to the base scientific info. So it’s very helpful.

          It’s worth noting that ECS is probably most valid on timescales ranging to around 100 years. If paleoclimate proxy data is correct, we can expect nearly double the warming over the long term (500 + years) as the Earth System changes in response to the initial heat forcing. So the Earth System Sensitivity (ESS) is likely to be 5-6 C for each doubling of CO2 (or equivalent).

          Neither ECS nor ESS take into account for carbon feedbacks which would change the base forcing and push warming further. ECS tends to account for fast feedbacks such as added water vapor (a powerful greenhouse gas) due to warming. ESS tends to account for albedo change from loss of ice sheets and other longer term effects. It is worth noting that some ESS effects are happening on faster timescales than expected due to the fact that ice sheets and sea ice appear to be more sensitive than initially thought. In my view, this was likely to happen given the fact that we are presently warming at 30 times faster than the end of the last ice age and we are accumulating greenhouse gas forcing at a rate between 100 and 200 times faster. You’ve got a situation where cascading effects are forcing changes that are far outside of the pace that typically occurs in the natural context — even during the worst hothouse extinction events.

          In the end, past, present, and future fossil fuel burning is a plague on all our houses.

        • wili

           /  April 17, 2017

          Thanks for the clarification, rs.

          “… cascading effects are forcing changes that are far outside of the pace that typically occurs in the natural context…” That is about the most succinct and to-the-point summation of our situation I have yet seen.

        • We’re experiencing climate change on yearly and decadal timescales. In the past, the changes we have seen from 1970 to now, tended to take 1,000 to 3,000 years.

        • Bill Everett

           /  April 21, 2017

          @wili – “Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS) –the amount the global atmosphere is likely to heat up with a doubling of CO2 in the intermediate term–is likely to be higher than the 3 degrees C generally ASSUMED in many (most?) models.”

          It is a minor point, but I am not aware of any working climate model that assumes a climate sensitivity. Certainly, there can be simple toy models (the kind you write down on a single sheet of paper and calculate the results with paper and pencil) that have climate sensitivity as an input. The working models reported in the IPCC reports are so complicated that I don’t think any person fully understands one of them; it takes very large teams of specialist with a division of labor (and a division of full understanding). These models require significant time on supercomputers to run a simulation. Climate sensitivity, for example, can be one of the end results of running a simulation under certain conditions including a doubling of the CO2 concentration. You find out what temperature change the model shows under the CO2 doubling.

          If you are interested, you can look at some data displays of some of the results of some of the models used for the IPCC AR5 report. I quote the desciption:

          “AR5 Climate Models form the basis for the best estimates of climate impacts and sensitivities in the upcoming IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. This browser-based map making and data analysis system allows you to make and examine maps and even make movies of various properties from the a suite of different climate models from around the world. The model results available here are only a small subset of the AR5 model output archive. We have monthly mean values of just a few of the variables from two scenarios.

          “For years before 2006 the Historical climate forcing is used, which is a reconstruction of both the anthropogenic and the natural climate forcings. For years after this, the RCP8.5 scenario is taking to represent ‘business as usual’. Temperature trends from these two scenarios can be compared with ‘Historical (Natural only)’ forcing and a low-emission future scenario, ‘RCP2.6’, in the Time Series Browser.”

          There are eleven GCM models in this application: bcc-csm1-1, BNU-ESM, CanESM2, CCSM4, CNRM-CM5, CSIRO-Mk3-6-0, GISS-E2-H, IPSL-CMSA-LR, MIROC-ESM, MRI-CGCM3, and NorESM1-M.

          The variables you can look at are, for example, Surface Temperature, Atmospheric Temperature, Specific Humidity, Cloud Fraction, Precipitation, Leaf Area Index, Soil Moisture, Total Runoff, and Snow Cover.

          You can choose the Annual Mean or one of the twelve months of the year as a plot setting. You can also choose Snapshot or a 2-, 5-, or 10-year Average.

          http://climatemodels.uchicago.edu/maps/

    • Wili
      Appreciate the information. These ECSs are edging closer and closer to a Vostok extrapolation, an ice age baseline. #24 on a non-ice age baseline really takes the wind out of your sails.

      Reply
      • John McCormick

         /  April 17, 2017

        Wili, that is an extraordinary post you gave us. It is an autopsy on the death of civilization and all life forms. It is coming at us faster than ever assumed.

        Reply
      • wili

         /  April 17, 2017

        I just sat Seder for my first time with some friends. At one point, we recounted each of God’s miracles in saving the Jews and recited after each (in Hebrew), “this alone [would be sufficient for God to deserve our deepest thanks]” or something like that.

        I think about that when I look over this list now…any one of these by itself would be more than sobering. Together, they paint a pretty clear picture that we are in for much worse than most of the standard models are predicting.

        Reply
        • Aspera

           /  April 17, 2017

          Yes. Same here. The word recited is Dayenu and means approximately “this alone would have been sufficient.”

          But to remain sane and prompt my taking action now, I combine it with the Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Elders) saying that “It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it.”

  15. coloradobob

     /  April 16, 2017

    Watching people die on U-Tube

    There has been another terrible flash flood event, this time in Northwest Iran. I was reading the google news feed on it earlier today I was trying to see what the conditions were , that is how fast, and wide did it rain. Then I made the mistake of clicking on the U-Tube links.

    Then I went on the Aljazeera site , where I clicked on the comments, there were two .

    The first said, “Shia kafir pigs deserve to disappear” with a keyboard smiley face. .
    The second informed me I could make a thousand dollars a day sitting at my keyboard.

    And there it was ignorance, and greed on the same grim page.

    The death toll is at 40 with 2 dozen missing.

    Reply
  16. coloradobob

     /  April 16, 2017

    The of time, the end of our world. The end heros

    Reply
  17. coloradobob

     /  April 16, 2017

    I am so bankrupt, I am so poor. I’m so lost. I am so alone.

    Reply
  18. coloradobob

     /  April 16, 2017

    “Life is a funny old dog” you never know where it will bite you.

    Reply
  19. Robert E Prue

     /  April 16, 2017

    Does anyone have a notion on James Hansens’ carbon fee and dividend idea? Seems reasonable but would it do what designed to do? Is such a fee/dividend a good idea or not?

    Reply
    • Cate

       /  April 16, 2017

      Robert, the Citizens’ Climate Lobby has much more info on carbon fee and dividend.

      https://citizensclimatelobby.org/carbon-fee-and-dividend/

      Reply
    • Spike

       /  April 16, 2017

      Personally I think it’s a great idea from a climate and social justice viewpoint esp given Kevin Anderson’s point about the GHG emissions of the wealthy. I’ve long supported Universal Basic Income and a Carbon Tax would go some way to financing it. But it wouldn’t be a panacea.

      Reply
    • It’s generally helpful. But it would need to be supported by other policies (such as cutting the ridiculous 650 billion dollar per year global fossil fuel subsidy). Not a silver bullet per se.

      Reply
  20. wili

     /  April 16, 2017

    “Soaring beyond 100: Early heat wave that bakes India is a sign of what’s to come”

    India could act like a canary in a coal mine to show the rest of the world the coming impacts of climate change

    http://www.salon.com/2017/04/15/soaring-beyond-100-early-heat-wave-that-bakes-india-is-a-sign-of-what-will-to-come_partner/

    (thnx to aslr at neven’s site for the link and text)

    Reply
  21. Cate

     /  April 16, 2017

    http://climatenewsnetwork.net/slice-greenland-ice-melts-oblivion/

    Interesting article on the mechanics of Greenland ice loss, comparing coastal glaciers with the main ice sheet. At higher altitudes the ice is still relatively safe, but the melting line is moving higher, towards the buik of the ice mass.

    In coastal areas, “…20 years ago, the firn, or older snow, became saturated, freezing right through, and more summer meltwater now runs to the sea. The rate of increase varies from 17% to 74%, and the icecaps each year are losing three times the mass loss measured in 1997.”

    Reply
  22. Cate

     /  April 16, 2017

    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/donald-trump-kathleen-hartnett-white-climate-skeptic-job-237172

    “President Donald Trump may tap a vocal critic of climate change science to serve as the highest-ranking environmental official in the White House. Kathleen Hartnett White, who says carbon emissions are harmless and should not be regulated, is a top contender to run the Council on Environmental Quality, the White House’s in-house environmental policy shop, sources close to the administration told POLITICO.
    Adding White to the administration would be a major win for Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, and other hard-line conservatives in the White House, who have been feuding behind the scenes for weeks with the more moderate forces in the West Wing over issues like climate change. And her nomination could appease Trump’s climate skeptic supporters, who have criticized EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for hesitating to revisit his agency’s conclusion that global warming threatens public health.”

    Reply
  23. Cate

     /  April 16, 2017

    Severe Weather Europe shares a heads-up from Tropical Tidbits today, warning of very cold temps in Europe through to the end of April. Not good for spring crops.

    “Evolution of powerful cold outbreak across Europe through the next days, starting tomorrow and results in much below average period this coming week. It appears likely that yet another cold blast will follow this one, arriving early next week and as can be seen on the animation, unusually cold to very cold weather could extend until the end of April! This week will bring a significant drop in tempratures and damaging frost for fruits, vegetables and other agricultures in the morning, especially after Wednesday (until Saturday).”

    FB link with GFS animation (I don’t know how to copy that on its own):

    Reply
    • Cate

       /  April 16, 2017

      Oh cool! there ’tis. 🙂

      Reply
    • Another 85 degree day here in Gaithersburg.

      Reply
    • That developing Dipole between cold Europe, hot Siberia is just amazing. Watch out for rain bombs in Europe this spring as a result. The big flood of cool comes also with a high risk of a major sea ice export through the Fram. So far, to cold pole has hung out over Greenland. This is a very potentially stormy pattern for Europe. The kind of pattern we would tend to expect more of as ice sheet response picks up.

      Reply
  24. Cate

     /  April 16, 2017

    What better way to spend Easter morning, munching chocolate eggs and catching up on climate news, with four feet of snow in the yard, at least another 6 inches due by Monday night, and a forecast of below-average daytime temps (but above average night-time temps) right to the end of the month. Happy spring, folks. 🙂 How’s it going in your neck of the woods?

    Reply
    • unnaturalfx

       /  April 16, 2017

      It is amazing how much we knew even back in the 80s , Models ,predictions , consensus all pointing to the same thing. Of course we have better tech. satellites , computing power now,but, the greatest minds of our time knew then, and just like today, the world leaders ignored them . Carl Sagan was an amazing man , N. C. state university speech given in 1990 is a brief rundown on prophesies ,climate change and such . http://climatestate.com/2017/04/12/carl-sagan-on-climate-as-an-emerging-issue-1990/ . We where warned a very long time ago . Have a happy Easter everyone .

      Reply
    • unnaturalfx

       /  April 16, 2017

      Here in B C the sun is shinning and the lawnmowers are out in full force . Cate for Empiress and the world would survive 🙂

      Reply
    • charles macinnis

       /  April 16, 2017

      we had two feet on the ground only ten days ago ,now all gone and tilling gardens , and drying fast

      Reply
    • Frasersgrove

       /  April 16, 2017

      Yet here in Manitoba all the snow is gone, the rivers and lakes have mostly melted in the south, and I saw a garter snake on the 10th. Our weather has gone bipolar.

      Reply
    • June

       /  April 17, 2017

      Here in Maine, Portland broke a record for today, hitting 85 degrees. It was the second warmest high temp for the month of April. Tomorrow should be back into the 50’s, which is normal for this time of year.

      Reply
  25. Bob

     /  April 16, 2017

    Seems as if we have not reached the bottom of the barrel yet. Even the sacred NYT has fallen to the dark side by employing on of the worst climate deniers in the US. And that really says something. https://thinkprogress.org/new-york-times-defends-hiring-extreme-climate-denier-millions-agree-with-him-1655c23a524c

    Reply
    • So we had this nice period when the NYT actually did a decent job on climate change. Now they’re back to confusing people by creating false balance.

      Reply
  26. Allan Begg

     /  April 16, 2017

    The heat is ON !

    Reply
  27. Cate

     /  April 17, 2017

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/it-scares-me-permafrost-thaw-in-canadian-arctic-sign-of-global-trend-1.4069173

    “Scientists in the Northwest Territories, Alaska and Siberia are now realizing that as the ground under them melts, it will not only make life harder for the people living in the Arctic, but will in fact speed up climate change around the globe…
    The thaw is destroying buildings, forcing construction crews to change their methods. Buildings used to be hoisted on stilts sunk five or six metres into the ground. Nowadays, said McDonald, “they’re finding that they have to go down in the 15- or 20-metre range to get a stable enough foundation.”
    For decades, the community of Tuktoyaktuk, on the shore of the Arctic Ocean, has relied on an ice road from Inuvik in winter. But because of warmer temperatures, the road’s season is shorter and faces periodic closures as the ice shifts and becomes unstable….”

    …and more of the same, with a whole section on methane. All well and good, but where are the analytical voices? Where are the experts who can explain why this is happening? This is all reported in typical CBC fashion, that is, descriptively, avoiding any reference to the fact of human cause in the form of GHG accumulation. Does the CBC think that human cause is still up for debate? No, I think the CBC ignores the fact of human cause because the implications are too enormous, too dangerous, and too political: it’s a hornet’s nest they do not want to poke. But with on-going grade-school level reporting like this, our public broadcaster is failing, miserably, to bring the complete picture of our drastic situation–and what might be done about it— before the public eye.

    Reply
    • Thanks for this, Cate. Great follow-on to Andy’s earlier post. An annual event now. And it really is a hornet’s nest — one we should have confronted yesterday.

      Reply
    • And how safe is it healthwise to be living next to or in thawing permafrost – what CO2 and methane concentrations will you get wafting into your face?

      Reply
      • Peak atmospheric CO2 and methane concentrations often appear in these permafrost regions — probably due to combined local fossil fuel industry emissions and the fact that the Arctic environment is becoming less of a sink and starting to provide its own emission sources. But I think the larger hazards at this time come from the new threat of fires, loss of thawing land to rising oceans, and various forms of land subsidence. The fires, combined with permafrost thaw, can generate a real air quality hazard as we saw last year in parts of Russia.

        Reply
  28. Cate

     /  April 17, 2017

    YESSS! Thank you, Bill McKibben! You have articulated what I have always felt about Trudeau. His hypocrisy is far more dangerous than Trump’s straight-up denial.

    “….Canada, which represents one-half of 1% of the planet’s population, is claiming the right to sell the oil that will use up a third of the earth’s remaining carbon budget. Trump is a creep and a danger and unpleasant to look at, but at least he’s not a stunning hypocrite.

    This having-your-cake-and-burning-it-too is central to Canada’s self-image/energy policy. McKenna, confronted by Canada’s veteran environmentalist David Suzuki, said tartly “we have an incredible climate change plan that includes putting a price on carbon pollution, also investing in clean innovation. But we also know we need to get our natural resources to market and we’re doing both”. Right. ”

    Having our cake and burning it too: spot on!

    Reply
      • Bill just struck exactly the right tone here. If we’re going to any shot at hitting below 1.5, 2, or even 2.5 or 3 C this Century, we are going to need politicians who are far more adamant about doing the right thing than Trudeau or Turnbull. What this amounts to is, as someone here said earlier, is spinelessness. We need politicians with backbones who are willing to face down destructive industries — not to coddle them.

        And while Trump playing the fossil fuel version of Captain Ahab looks far worse, it doesn’t do to have two yellow-bellied leaders unable to make the necessary climate choices occupying seats of power in Australia and Canada.

        McKibben stands on principle here. And he does so very gracefully. Thanks for sharing the article, Cate. And thanks as well for sharing your views here.

        Reply
    • Trudeau’s promise to burn all 193 billion barrels is a promise to inflict a terrible and potentially insurmountable crisis on us all. We can argue whether or not he is as bad as Trump (Trudeau doesn’t attack the science, he just greenwashes and delays necessary action). But what we can agree on is the fact that Trudeau, by promising to burn fossil fuels in this manner and by failing to advance renewable energy adoption rapidly enough is perpetrating a great deal of harm on us all.

      Climate leadership is presently lacking among many of the major western powers — U.S., Australia, Canada, Britian. And it’s going to hurt us all very dearly in the end.

      Reply
  29. wharf rat

     /  April 17, 2017

    Arctic Update
    It’s been more than two months since my last update on basin-wide Arctic warmth, but not much has changed; even the remarkable cold spell in Arctic Canada in early March didn’t put a dent in the overall high-latitude temperature anomaly. According to the mean temperature from my set of 19 long-term surface observing sites, both February and March were more than 4°C warmer than the 1981-2010 normal. The coolest of the last 6 months relative to normal was December, at “only” 3.4°C above normal.

    http://ak-wx.blogspot.ca/2017/04/arctic-update.html#comment-form

    Reply
  30. Mike S

     /  April 17, 2017

    The hot places are getting a lot hotter than they used to be also.

    Some stats for Phoenix, Arizona

    Average high temperature (F) for the month of March:

    74.5 1951-1980 normal used by NWS
    76.9 1981-2010 normal used by NWS

    76.1 average for 1991-2000
    82.2 average for 2011-2017; a 6-degree increase just since the 90’s.

    We can cherry-pick a few unusually cool days like January 20 or unusually hot days like we had in the middle of March, but it’s more important to look at averages over a long period of time. Those temperature averages here are definitely soaring.

    Reply
  31. Stephen

     /  April 17, 2017

    I don’t know if any has posted/heard about this, but apparently the Petermann Glacier has a crack running down the center of its ice shelf. It holds enough ice to raise sea level one foot.

    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=.f71b0c20f9c8#comments

    Reply
    • A similar event at Jackobshavn eventually resulted in at least a doubling of that glacier’s movement toward the ocean. Seeing the same thing at Petermann is a very bad sign — especially considering the likely impacts to sea level rise.

      Reply
  32. unnaturalfx

     /  April 17, 2017

    A bit O T again however this is an interesting read : https://phys.org/news/2017-04-methane-seeps-canadian-high-arctic.html . Cretaceous climate warming led to a significant methane release from the seafloor, indicating potential for similar destabilization of gas hydrates under modern global warming. A field campaign on the remote Ellef Ringnes Island, Canadian High Arctic, discovered an astounding number of methane seep mounds in Cretaceous age sediments.
    Seep mounds are carbonate deposits, often hosting unique fauna, which form at sites of methane leakage into the seafloor. Over 130 were found covering over 10,000 square kilometers of the Cretaceous sea floor. They occurred over a very short time interval immediately following onset of Cretaceous global warming, suggesting that the warming destabilized gas hydrates and released a large burb of methane. Given that methane has 20 times the impact of CO2 as a greenhouse gas, such a release could have accelerated global warming at that time. This discovery supports concerns of potential destabilization of modern methane hydrates.
    Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-04-methane-seeps-canadian-high-arctic.html#jCp

    Reply
  33. June

     /  April 17, 2017

    BP is still struggling to get control of an Alaska North Slope well that has been leaking natural gas since Friday

    A damaged BP well on Alaska’s North Slope is no longer spraying crude oil, although workers still haven’t been able to stop the uncontrolled venting of natural gas from the well.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/04/16/bp-is-still-struggling-to-get-control-of-an-alaska-north-slope-well-that-has-been-leaking-natural-gas-since-friday/?utm_term=.b4588f1c9067

    Reply
    • Thanks for the update, June. Yet more proof, if we needed any, that continuing to coddle fossil fuels keeps producing negative impacts across the board. In an age where renewable energy is more and more widely available and easy to access there is no excuse for events like this one.

      Reply
  34. Cate

     /  April 17, 2017

    CBC is on fire? Here’s an astonishing story of a river in the north changing its course in a phenomenon called river piracy because of “contemporary” climate change. (Say what?)

    Sadly, though, as usual, not a word about human cause. Failing to mention human cause is dangerous and irresponsible because it fosters the notion that “contemporary” climate change is completely natural and there’s nothing to do but adapt. As is evident from FB on comments on this and other climate stories on CBC, this is a very prevalent notion in Canada, where only 60% of people “believe” that human activity causes climate change.

    Shame on our public broadcaster for abdicating its responsibility to tell the whole truth.

    From the article:

    “While the event is academically exciting for the scientists, they warn that the cause of the river piracy is quite serious.”Climate change is happening, is affecting us and it’s not just about far-off islands in the South Pacific. It’s not just about sea-level rise for them,” said Shugar. “The effects can be very rapid and can be somewhat unanticipated.Climate change may bring new changes that we’re not even really thinking about.”

    Check out the amazing photos.

    Reply
  35. wili

     /  April 17, 2017

    (Thanks again to ASLR for link and text)

    The remaining carbon budget from 2015 may be as low as 590 GtCO2; and as CO₂-e emissions are around 50GtCO2 (which exceeds RCP 8.5 50%CL), it is easy to see that assuming ECS is 3C we could readily exceed the 2C limit by around 2030, or if ECS is 4C then we could exceed 2.7C by around 2032 to 2035, if we continue on our current BAU pathway for another 16 to 19 years.

    Joeri Rogelj, Michiel Schaeffer, Pierre Friedlingstein, Nathan P. Gillett, Detlef P. van Vuuren, Keywan Riahi, Myles Allen & Reto Knutti (2016) “Differences between carbon budget estimates unravelled”, Nature Climate Change, Volume: 6, Pages: 245–252, doi:10.1038/nclimate2868

    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v6/n3/full/nclimate2868.html

    Reply
    • wili

       /  April 17, 2017

      And yet another from the same source:

      “Humans on the verge of causing Earth’s fastest climate change in 50m years” (& the following linked associated paper) compare our current radiative forcings with paleo-conditions. Such a comparison is useful for calibrating ESMs.

      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2017/apr/17/humans-on-the-verge-of-causing-earths-fastest-climate-change-in-50m-years

      Extract: “A new study published in Nature Communications looks at changes in solar activity and carbon dioxide levels over the past 420 million years. The authors found that on our current path, by mid-century humans will be causing the fastest climate change in approximately 50 million years, and if we burn all available fossil fuels, we’ll cause the fastest change in the entire 420 million year record.”

      Reply
      • wili

         /  April 17, 2017

        See also the referenced paper at:

        https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms14845

        Reply
      • If we keep burning fossil fuels, it will be the fastest and worst climate change the Earth has seen in probably half a billion years. The PETM looks tame compared to what the fossil fuel industry and related carbon emissions are doing.

        Reply
      • “Humans on the verge of causing Earth’s fastest climate change in 50m years”

        I’m not a “Skeptic” but wasn’t there an incredibly rapid warm up that took place within a hundred years after the last ice age? I mentioned the rapid warm up issue with a Skeptic and I got a good dressing down from him. I checked it out and he was right. Not that it excuses anything since we basically went from a cold age to a warm age back then but we’re now going from a warm age into a hot age.

        I would eliminate the word “fastest” and replace it with the word warmest.

        Reply
        • At the end of the last ice age, it took 10,000 years for the world to warm by approximately 4 degrees Celsius. The average rate of warming was 0.004 C per decade. We are now warming by 0.15 C per decade. The present rate of warming is more than 30 times faster than at the end of the last ice age. There was no period at the end of the last ice age that came anywhere close to matching the 1.2 C warm up we’ve experienced within approximately 120 years and nothing at all to match the approx 0.8 C warming we’ve experienced over the last 50 years. Nothing that can clearly be perceived by the sciences compares to the present velocity of warming or to the present velocity of greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere.

        • Take a look at the blue vertical line — that represents 1880 to about 2008. Nothing compares. The red vertical line is what happens if we keep burning fossil fuels this Century.

          As for ‘skeptics.’ Skeptic is a fake term used to lend legitimacy to climate change denial which is an illegitimate and unscientific failure to recognize obvious present changes in the climate system.

        • Occasionally, we’ll still get a live climate change denier slipping through the filter– as we see with Geo here. The above post was suspect for a number of reasons.

          1. It started off with a bald misrepresentation of facts.
          2. It presented climate change deniers as coming from a position of legitimate authority.
          3. It based its suppositions on unlinked, conjectural, or factless claims.

          After responding to Geo and disproving his points, I allowed him to make a follow-up post to moderation (I wasn’t going to let him troll the comments page openly) in which case he resorted to:

          4. Cherry picking the fastest periods within ice age warming (which were still about 15 times slower than present warming in any case). Which:
          5. Shifted the argument off of its original claim which had already been disproven. And:
          6. Deceptively and underhandedly played on my sense of fairness to allow him to make his counter-point, despite the fact that his original point had already been proven brazenly false. Which:
          7. Belied an amazing level of dishonesty and manipulative use of language.

          And so, another one bites the dust…

        • wili

           /  April 17, 2017

          I think ‘concern troll’ is the right term here.

        • Yep. Concern troll it is. The attempt to appear to ask a legitimate question while continuously injecting false memes as the conversation extends.

    • I think Mann came in about right with the likely worst case being 2 C by 2036 assuming a high climate sensitivity and a worst case or near worst case fossil fuel burning scenario. The more likely scenario is exceeding 1.5 C by the early to mid 2030s on the near BAU path considering the fact that immediate to 100 year sensitivity is probably not 4 C.

      Worth noting that we continue to plateau burning at 2014 levels. So a three year plateau and we have the opportunity to start reducing ghg emissions in a rather short timeframe. If that begins to happen, we will back off the near-term extreme warming thresholds a bit. But it’s imperative that such drop-offs happen now. Continued human greenhouse gas emission increases lock us into breaching 1.5 and 2 C thresholds on very short time scales (1-3 decades).

      Reply
      • wili

         /  April 17, 2017

        In case some don’t know, this is the Mann article to which robert refers. Well worth a read (or re-read), and do click on the graphs to get the full effects.

        https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/earth-will-cross-the-climate-danger-threshold-by-2036/

        It came out three years (and nearly three weeks) ago, so some of the wording now sounds even more ominous, like:

        “To avoid the threshold, nations will have to keep carbon dioxide levels below 405 parts per million.”

        Sooo, we’ve pretty well blown past that guardrail already! :/

        Reply
        • Oh, yeah. We definitely blew through that guard-rail. I think that was previously defined as the 1.5 C boundary limit. It does seem that the goal posts keep moving on that one. In my opinion, we are probably going to overshoot 1.5 C significantly even in the best case scenario. We’ve probably already locked in enough to hit very close to 2 C even if emissions stop on a dime now.

          405 ppm CO2 was the peak for Pliocene values in which temperatures averaged between 2-3 C warmer than Holocene averages. 405 ppm CO2 likely corresponds with 1.5 C warming in one Century and 3 C warming longer term (500 year +). Present CO2e forcing for 2017 is 493 ppm approx which correlates to 2 C approx 1 Century warming and 4 C approx long term warming. Approximately 70 ppm of that CO2e forcing comes from methane — which would tend to fall out rapidly with the halt of natural gas burning and coal extraction activities. This, in the stop on a dime scenario, would probably bring us closer to 450 ppm CO2e at stabilization 1 decade following a 5 year cold turkey shut down (approx).

          That’s not going to happen under any present policies. I think the best we could probably rationally hope for is a stabilization at around 550 ppm CO2e by mid Century which would imply 2.5 C warming this Century and 5 C warming long term.

          This is why we have to figure out how to pull carbon out of the atmosphere following an energy transition. Thankfully, we do have some pilot projects for this. But I think this will be very challenging and that we will be doing very well to hit 1-2 billion tons of carbon draw down per year by mid to late century (some are more optimistic — saying 10 billion tons per year is possible, but I think this is pretty outlandish. I hope I’m wrong.)

        • If we hit am Arctic Blue Ocean event without the expected cloud negative feedbacks, we will have a CO2 independent temperature jump through the albedo change (together with chaos in the Northern Hemisphere climate system). Great, and very worrying thread by Tealight on this over on ASIF.

          https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,1749.msg107578.html#new

          Daily updated values:

          https://sites.google.com/site/cryospherecomputing/warming-potential/graphs

          2016 really stands out versus the previous years, interesting to see if 2017 confirms a fundamental change with an albedo flip.

        • Present albedo loss in Arctic = approx 25 percent of the CO2 heat forcing. So, yes, we’re getting some of that Earth System change now. Worth noting that most of this heat is first going into oceans and glaciers. So the atmospheric gain will tend to lag for some time.

          https://robertscribbler.com/2014/02/20/amplifying-feedbacks-and-the-arctic-heat-scream-study-finds-polar-albedo-falling-at-twice-expected-rate-added-heat-equal-to-25-of-co2-forcing/

          Wrote about this back in 2012.

  36. Vaughn Anderson

     /  April 17, 2017

    The national Hurricane Center has given the low pressure system in the central Atlantic Ocean a 30% chance to develop into a subtropical storm. The potential for these “out of season” storms seems to be happening more frequently.

    http://www.nhc.noaa.gov

    Reply
  37. coloradobob

     /  April 17, 2017

    As renowned climate scientist Wallace Broecker once said, “The climate system is an angry beast, and we are poking at it with sticks.”

    As this new study shows, our poking sticks are getting bigger and bigger, and we’re poking the beast faster and faster. Meanwhile, climate deniers are egging us on because the beast has been angered in the past, and we’re not sure just how soon it will decide to maul us.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2017/apr/17/humans-on-the-verge-of-causing-earths-fastest-climate-change-in-50m-years

    Reply
  38. coloradobob

     /  April 17, 2017

    Glacier shape influences susceptibility to thinning
    April 17, 2017

    Of the 16 glaciers researchers investigated in West Greenland, the study found four that are the most susceptible to thinning: Rink Isbræ, Umiamako Isbræ, Jakobshavn Isbræ and Sermeq Silardleq. ……………………
    Just how susceptible a glacier is to thinning depends on its thickness and surface slope, features that are influenced by the landscape under the glacier. In general, thinning spreads more easily across thick and flat glaciers and is hindered by thin and steep portions of glaciers.
    The research revealed that most glaciers are susceptible to thinning between 10 and 30 miles inland. For Jakobshavn, however, the risk of thinning reaches over 150 miles inland—almost one-third of the way across the Greenland Ice Sheet.

    https://phys.org/news/2017-04-glacier-susceptibility-thinning.html#jCp

    Reply
  39. Erik Frederiksen

     /  April 17, 2017

    “In the blink of a geological eye, climate change has helped reverse the flow of water melting from a glacier in Canada’s Yukon, a hijacking that scientists call “river piracy.”

    This engaging term refers to one river capturing and diverting the flow of another. It occurred last spring at the Kaskawulsh Glacier, one of Canada’s largest, with a suddenness that startled scientists.

    A process that would ordinarily take thousands of years – or more – happened in just a few months in 2016.”

    Reply
  40. Warmer ocean waters and increased acidification act together to dissolve the shells of some sea creatures. The warmer waters make the creatures change their body chemistry, adding more magnesium, which then predisposes them to being dissolved by acidic waters. “They were trying to grow but were dissolving at the same time” – a pretty sad image.

    https://phys.org/news/2017-04-canary-kelp-forest-sea-creature.html

    Reply
  41. Bob

     /  April 20, 2017

    Another record set in March, the warmest non el nino month on record, 1.8 deg C
    https://thinkprogress.org/march-set-remarkable-global-warming-record-dfa2349c84c5

    Reply
  42. Sheri

     /  May 10, 2017

    Well, we are quite cooked aren’t we, or the oven is just preheating.

    Reply

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