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World Climate Stays in Uncharted Territory as May of 2017 Hits Second Hottest on Record

We’re currently in what should be a relatively considerable temperature trough following a strong 2015-2016 El Nino. But the globe hasn’t really cooled off that much.

In contrast, during the two year period following the 1998 super El Nino, annual global temperature averages subsequently cooled by around 0.2 C to about 0.64 C warmer than 1880s averages as a strong La Nina swept in. This post El Nino cooling provided some respite from harmful global conditions like increasingly prevalent droughts, floods, fires and coral bleaching events set off by the 1998 temperature spike. It did not, however, return the world to anything close to average or normal temperature conditions.

Warming Out of Context

(So far, 2017 temperature averages for the first five months have remained disturbingly close to what should have been an El Nino driven peak in 2016. Temperatures remaining so warm post El Nino are providing little respite from this peak warming. Meanwhile, the longer significant La Nina conditions hold off, the more extreme and out of context the post-2013 period looks from a global weather/climate perspective even relative to the significant warming occurring from the late 1970s through the early 2010s. Note the steep temperature spike following 2013 in the graph above. This should flatten out, step-wise, as La Nina conditions ultimately push against the larger surface warming trend [driven primarily by fossil fuel burning]. We thus await a La Nina stronger than the very weak late 2016 through early 2017 event with bated breath… Image source: NASA.)

During 2015 and 2016, the world was forced to warm much more intensely than during the 1998 event as very high and rising greenhouse gas concentrations (400 ppm CO2 +) met with another strong El Nino and what appeared to be a very widespread ocean surface warming event. Temperatures peaked to a troubling 1.2 C hotter than 1880s averages during 2016. An annual peak nearly 0.4 C warmer than the 1998 temperature spike. But unlike the period following the 1998 event, it appears that 2017 will probably only back off by about 0.1 degrees Celsius at most.

This counter-trend cooling delay is cause for some concern because a larger portion of the global surface heat added in during the 2015-2016 El Nino appears to be remaining in the climate system — which is lengthening some of the impacts of the 2015-2016 temperature spike and putting the world more firmly outside of the weather and climate contexts of the 19th and 20th Centuries.

(2017 temperatures aren’t trailing too far behind 2016’s record spike. A trend that is, so far, considerably warmer than 2015, which was the second hottest year on record. Image source: NASA.)

Record heat, drought, rainfall events, unusual storms, coral bleaching, glacial melt, wildfires, sea ice melt and other effects related to extreme global temperature will, therefore, not abate as much as some would have hoped. Furthermore, though current science does not appear to identify a present perturbation in the ENSO cycle (which may produce more El Ninos as the world warms), monitoring of that cycle for warming-related change at this time seems at least somewhat appropriate.

Second Hottest May on Record

According to NASA, May of 2017 was 0.88 degrees Celsius hotter than its 20th Century baseline — or 1.1 C warmer than 1880s averages when the world first began a considerable warming trend clearly attributable to fossil fuel burning and related human carbon emissions. This reading is just 0.05 C shy of the record warmest May of 2016. It’s also slightly warmer than the now third warmest May (0.01 C warmer) of 2014. And all of the top four warmest Mays in the present NASA record have now occurred since 2014.

(NASA’s second hottest May on record brought above normal temperatures to much of the globe. Disturbingly, the most extreme temperature departures above average occurred in the vulnerable Coastal regions of Antarctica. Small regions including parts of the North Pacific, the Northern Polar Region, the extreme South Atlantic, and the Central U.S. experienced below average temperatures. But these outliers were few and far between. Image source: NASA.)

Add May of 2017 into the present 2017 running average and you get a total of 1.19 C warmer than 1880s conditions. This is the second warmest first five months on record following 2016 at a very considerable 1.38 C above 1880s. It is, however, just about 0.01 C behind 2016’s annual average of 1.2 C above late 19th Century global temperatures.

It’s worth noting that most of the temperature spike attributable to the 2015-2016 El Nino occurred beginning in October of 2015 and ending in April of 2016. Somewhat milder months comparable to April and May 2017 averages followed from June through December of 2016 as a very weak La Nina followed. Since about February, Pacific Ocean conditions warmed into an ENSO neutral state where neither El Nino or La Nina dominated. NOAA’s present forecast calls for ENSO neutral conditions to continue as the Equatorial Pacific slowly cools again. So a continuation of present trends could leave 2017 rather close to the 2016 spike.

Forecast Trends

GFS model guidance for June shows somewhat cooler global conditions than in May. If this trend continues we will likely see the month range from 0.7 to 0.82 C above NASA’s baseline. If the GFS summary is accurate and this meta-analysis is correct, then June of 2017 will likely range between 1st and 4th warmest on record. Meanwhile, ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) neutral conditions should tend to keep 2017 as a whole in the range of 1 C to 1.2 C hotter than 1880s averages — likely beating out 2015 as the second hottest year on record and keeping the globe in what basically amounts to uncharted climate territory.

(UPDATED)

Links:

NASA GISS

NOAA’s Weekly ENSO Report

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47 Comments

  1. climatehawk1

     /  June 19, 2017

    Tweet scheduled.

    Reply
    • Ryan in New England

       /  June 20, 2017

      That was a good read, with some disturbing information.

      As the researchers lay in their tents at night, in the middle of a 4,000-mile arc of coastline that lacked a single permanent outpost, they heard loud pops and bangs coming from the ice. Each morning they saw new cracks, an inch wide and seemingly bottomless, cutting across its surface. During their five weeks of studying it, the ice under their boots thinned by another seven feet.

      Large swaths of West Antarctica are hemorrhaging ice these days. The warming has been the most dramatic on the Antarctic Peninsula, a spine of ice-cloaked mountains that reaches 700 miles up toward the tip of South America. Catching the powerful winds and ocean currents that swirl endlessly around Antarctica, the peninsula gets slammed with warm air and water from farther north. Average annual temperatures on its west side have risen nearly 5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1950—several times faster than the rest of the planet—and the winters have warmed an astonishing 9 degrees. Sea ice now forms only four months a year instead of seven.

      Reply
    • From the article RE Pine Island glacier:

      “and the rate at which ice is melting and calving has quadrupled…”

      RE West Antarctica:

      “These are the fastest retreating glaciers on the face of the Earth,” says Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Rignot has studied the region for more than two decades, using radar from aircraft and satellites, and he believes the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is only a matter of time. The question is whether it will take 500 years or fewer than a hundred—and whether humanity will have time to prepare.

      “We have to get these numbers right,” Rignot says. “But we have to be careful not to waste too much time doing that.”

      RE Totten in East Antarctica:

      The Totten Glacier is the largest coastal outlet in this region. If it collapsed, global sea level could rise 13 feet—“roughly as much as all of West Antarctica,” Rignot points out. “One glacier alone.”

      A good, comprehensive article. One that very accurately highlights a number of valid concerns. I generally think we’ll have a better idea RE speed of ice sheet response as we close in on 1.5 to 2 C. It’s worth noting that 407 ppm CO2 is outside even the Pliocene margin and that 70 feet is probably a bit conservative as a paleoclimate corollary for present ghg forcing, especially when you consider that CO2e for 2017 will probably be 492 ppm after adding in all the other greenhouse gasses. The CO2e corrolary is probably closer to 80-120 feet or more long term.

      We’re in uncharted territory in that the Earth System will probably respond more rapidly to the present forcing than during any time in paleoclimate that we have a reference for considering the speed at which ghg have already built up and at which new forcings to the climate system are being applied.

      It’s worth noting that many of these studies rely on basal melt to determine rate of overall melt. Basal melt is a very strong forcing. But surface melt will also come more and more into play as the westerlies begin to erode, warm, moist air invades more often and liquid precipitation falls over the ice sheets with rising frequency.

      Our best defense is to halt fossil fuel burning as swiftly as possible. We will probably still see considerable damage. But hopefully reaching zero and net negative carbon emissions will give our various civilizations the time they need to respond and adapt. It becomes very difficult to see a world that’s capable of adapting if we keep burning the fossil fuels and hit too much above even present forcing levels. For example, at 550 CO2e, a level we’ll hit in around 15-20 years, there’s reasonably enough forcing to melt most or all of the ice that is presently stored in both Greenland and Antarctica. At that point, you’re talking about 160 to 230 feet of sea level rise long term and decadal and century rates of rise that are very difficult to manage.

      Reply
  2. wili

     /  June 19, 2017

    ECMWF 12z op: 967 hpa bomb cyclone at +144h

    GFS 12z op run: 967 hpa bomb cyclone at +126h

    Looking rather ominous for Arctic ice!

    (thnx to LMV at ASIF)

    Reply
    • Good tracking here. 5-7 day forecast agreement is another indicator. I think the key thing to look at here is the dipole temperature anomaly of the Russian land mass and the Laptev and Kara seas. Add in the instability being injected northward from the Atlantic and it’s like lighting a whole bunch of atmospheric fuses all at the same time. Lots of rolls at the dice for bombification.

      Reply
      • wili

         /  June 19, 2017

        Good points, but I’m not entirely sure of the meaning or significance of “…dipole temperature anomaly of the Russian land mass and the Laptev and Kara seas.” If you could unpack it a bit for the slow of mind, I’d appreciate it! ‘-)

        Is it merely the difference in temps, or how far off from the usual difference in temps, or the difference between the level of anomaly at each location, or something else…

        And does the effect of such a temperature anomaly have to do with how it will affect the winds, or just in direct heating of the area?

        Again, sorry for stupid questions…I’m a bit foggy headed today.

        Reply
        • wili

           /  June 19, 2017

          Ah, I see you are probably referring to the anomaly temp map above. That _is_ quite a contrast. But what affect does it have on the ice, exactly?

        • No direct impact to the ice. The very high temperature differential just considerably increases atmospheric instability which will tend to generate stronger storms. The storms, themselves, draw on the warm air. In essence, it’s an atmospheric battle line which can have some serious impacts to sea ice if there’s enough rain, wind, and warm air involved.

        • wili

           /  June 19, 2017

          Thanks. That makes sense.

  3. wili

     /  June 19, 2017

    Not sure if this has been posted here: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/we_cant_fight_climate_change_if_we_keep_lying_to_ourselves_20170618

    “We Can’t Fight Climate Change if We Keep Lying to Ourselves”

    “…We must see in any act of resistance, even if it appears futile, a moral victory…”

    “…Tens of millions of human beings, especially in the global south, are being herded into the climate furnaces for immolation…”

    “…’a plant-based diet may be the most effective way an individual can stop climate change.’ Adopting such a diet should be our first act of revolt…”

    Reply
    • wili

       /  June 19, 2017

      (2nd page): “The greatest existential crisis of our time is to at once accept the tragic reality before us and find the courage to resist. It is to acknowledge that the world as we know it will become harsher and more difficult, that human suffering will expand, but that we can, if we fight back, perhaps reconfigure our lives and our society to mitigate the worst savagery, dramatically reduce our carbon footprint and save ourselves from complete annihilation.

      The power elites will do nothing to save us.”

      Reply
      • From national, international, state and city, energy transition and climate policy, to institutions divesting from fossil fuels, to individuals voting for positive energy and climate policy, adopting clean energy, and living a more sustainable lifestyle we all have a role to play. In my opinion the greatest single thing an individual can do is to actively resist climate harm in every way possible and this is probably well expressed through voices (acting in protest of fossil fuel and support of clean energy), votes, and by changing consumptive behavior. Going vegan is a big help. But there are so, so many additional actions an individual can take as well. And putting pressure on governments and institutions by speaking out and remaining active has a tremendous long term effect.

        Reply
      • Abel Adamski

         /  June 20, 2017

        From the other side of the fence to see what is happening, all is not what it seems with China and India, they are happily building coal plants in developing Nations whilst touting their efforts internally.
        [snip — see RS commment below]

        The comments in this article are most interesting, presenting counterpoints in an intelligent and informed manner
        https://theconversation.com/to-slow-climate-change-india-joins-the-renewable-energy-revolution-78321

        Reply
  4. Abel Adamski

     /  June 20, 2017

    Relevant the article methinks.

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

    Meet El Niño’s cranky uncle that could send global warming into hyperdrive

    El Niño is driven by changes in the Pacific Ocean, and shifts around with its opposite, La Niña, every 2-7 years, in a cycle known as the El Niño Southern Oscillation or ENSO.
    But that’s only part of the story. There’s another important piece of nature’s puzzle in the Pacific Ocean that isn’t often discussed.
    It’s called the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation, or IPO, a name coined by a study which examined how Australia’s rainfall, temperature, river flow and crop yields changed over decades.
    Since El Niño means “the boy” in Spanish, and La Niña “the girl”, we could call the warm phase of the IPO “El Tío” (the uncle) and the negative phase “La Tía” (the auntie).
    These erratic relatives are hard to predict. El Tío and La Tía phases have been compared to a stumbling drunk. And honestly, can anyone predict what a drunk uncle will say at a family gathering?

    Like ENSO, the IPO is related to the movement of warm water around the Pacific Ocean. Begrudgingly, it shifts its enormous backside around the great Pacific bathtub every 10-30 years, much longer than the 2-7 years of ENSO.
    The IPO’s pattern is similar to ENSO, which has led climate scientists to think that the two are strongly linked. But the IPO operates on much longer timescales.
    We don’t yet have conclusive knowledge of whether the IPO is a specific climate mechanism, and there is a strong school of thought which proposes that it is a combination of several different mechanisms in the ocean and the atmosphere.

    Despite these mysteries, we know that the IPO had an influence on the global warming “hiatus” – the apparent slowdown in global temperature increases over the early 2000s.
    In the negative phase of the IPO (La Tía) the surface temperatures of the Pacific Ocean are cooler than usual near the equator and warmer than usual away from the equator.
    Since about the year 2000, some of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases has been getting buried in the deep Pacific Ocean, leading to a slowdown in global warming over about the last 15 years. It appears as though we have a kind auntie, La Tía perhaps, who has been cushioning the blow of global warming. For the time being, anyway.
    The flip side of our kind auntie is our bad-tempered uncle, El Tío. He is partly responsible for periods of accelerated warming, like the period from the late 1970s to the late 1990s.
    The IPO has been in its “kind auntie” phase for well over a decade now. But the IPO could be about to flip over to El Tío. If that happens, it is not good news for global temperatures – they will accelerate upwards.

    Whatever the case, cranky old El Tío is waiting just around the corner. His big stick is poised, ready to give us a massive hiding: a swift rise in global temperatures over the coming decades.

    And like a big smack, that would be no laughing matter.

    Further reading identifies the Globe went into a La Tia phase approx 2000 and that phase ended approx 2014, lookis like entering a El Tio return of heat from the deep phase.

    I also noted on an article re the UK heat wave, mention was made re caution with the abnormally high UV levels (maybe a Solar Blip as well) just to emphasise lifting the base warming also means higher peaks with the natural cycles

    Reply
    • IPO and PDO are certainly relevant. We’ve been in a positive PDO phase since around 2013-2014 and this appears to be strengthening El Ninos and weakening La Ninas. The question is — is there a kind of ocean-atmosphere hand shake going on between the warming trend and the ENSO cycle itself. I think that’s a pertinent question we need to identify.

      Reply
      • Brian

         /  June 20, 2017

        There’s also a question of whether the old patterns are changing in un-anticipated ways. Remember, El Nino is supposed to bring rains to California, but it was only after El Nino was over, during a weak La Nina, that saw the big rains of this past winter. We’re changing the world too fast to know even what we’re doing. =/

        Reply
        • Good point, Brian. Although, it’s worth pointing out that many of the El Nino associated patterns did emerge overall. The U.S. West Coast has certainly been in flux for some time. And the hot blob associated with the recent major drought was probably more related to climate change than ENSO — which relates to your point.

      • AIUI, part of the dynamic of ENSO modeling and its effect outside the Pacific basin entailed figuring out how the northern jet stream moved weather over the mid-latitudes. Now that we’ve effectively broken the jet stream by warming the Arctic, wouldn’t predictions about the effects of, say, El Nino on the Atlantic hurricane season have to go back to the drawing board?

        Reply
  5. Abel Adamski

     /  June 20, 2017

    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/tropics-in-trouble-as-rising-heat-humidity-push-populations-to-the-edge-study-20170618-gwtr3q.html

    Rising temperatures and humidity will make the world’s tropics increasingly unliveable by pushing more people to the thresholds of their physical tolerance and beyond, a new international study finds.

    As of 2000, about 30 per cent of the world’s population lived in regions where the climate exceeds deadly threshold levels – based on temperature and relatively humidity levels – for at least 20 days a year, researchers publishing in the Nature Climate Change journal estimate.

    Even with the most optimistic scenario for greenhouse gas emissions reductions, that share will rise to about 48 per cent by the end of the century. If so-called business as usual emissions continue, that share would climb to 74 per cent by then, the paper found.

    “You are going to have all of those people in the tropics ‘cooking’ there because they are not going to have any possibility to cope with this [increase in heat and humidity],” said Camilo Mora, the paper’s lead author and an associate professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.

    The research examined studies of 783 cases of excessive human deaths from heatwaves between 1980 and 2014. These included the 70,000 deaths from a huge European heatwave in 2003 and more than 10,000 deaths in Russia in 2010.

    Professor Mora noted that identifying heatwave mortality rates was difficult because the causes – such as heart attacks and other organ failure – may only surface some time after the event.

    “I think there is a huge underestimate of that even in developed countries,” such as in Europe, North America and Australia, he said. For developing nations with poorer record keeping, the deaths could be larger still.

    Reply
  6. Some good news for coffee lovers, maybe.

    Resilience potential of the Ethiopian coffee sector under climate change
    https://www.nature.com/articles/nplants201781
    Using a modelling approach in combination with remote sensing, supported by rigorous ground-truthing, we project changes in suitability for coffee farming under various climate change scenarios, specifically by assessing the exposure of coffee farming to future climatic shifts. We show that 39–59% of the current growing area could experience climatic changes that are large enough to render them unsuitable for coffee farming, in the absence of significant interventions or major influencing factors. Conversely, relocation of coffee areas, in combination with forest conservation or re-establishment, could see at least a fourfold (>400%) increase in suitable coffee farming area. We identify key coffee-growing areas that are susceptible to climate change, as well as those that are climatically resilient.

    Reply
  7. wili

     /  June 20, 2017

    I see Brian Kahn covered some similar territory recently over at Climate Central:

    “May Continues a Ridiculous Warm Streak for the Planet”

    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/may-warm-streak-planet-21542

    Reply
  8. wili

     /  June 20, 2017

    With COBob out for now, and after the recent departure of Greg, I thought a bit of music might be appropriate…pretty much how I’m feeling about our seemingly unstoppable downward spiral these days: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUvxRjYqjEQ

    Reply
    • Greg

       /  June 20, 2017

      I’m not dead yet. 🙂

      Reply
      • wharf rat

         /  June 21, 2017

        Here’s my Dead; I’m somewhere in the audience. Is this my favorite version? I don’t know about now, but it was that night..

        Reply
  9. Keith Antonysen

     /  June 20, 2017

    This is bad news; an earthquake and tsunami has hit Greenland, sad through assumed loss of life and loss of some homes.

    Reply
    • wili

       /  June 20, 2017

      They now think it was a landslide that caused the tsunami

      Reply
      • Keith Antonysen

         /  June 20, 2017

        wili

        There appears to be some confusion in relation to reporting of the matter:

        “Although we have no registered earthquake in the area, the Danish seismological service GEUS has confirmed to the Danish press that a M4.0 earthquake occurred in Greenland. Several villages have been inundated by the water. One of them the village of Illorsuit (see picture).
        The Danish police gives only limited information as they are trying to find out what exactly happened and how many villages sustained damage.
        Shortly after the news reached Denmark, the authorities have requested the population to go for higher ground.”

        I raised the matter as tsunamis in the Arctic are very bad news for the inhabitants, and concern about the impact on sea ice which is already in a poor state.

        Reply
  10. Shawn Redmond

     /  June 20, 2017

    Some interesting developments in the Gulf of Mexico:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2017/06/19/two-tropical-storms-are-close-to-forming-in-the-atlantic-unusually-early-in-the-year/?utm_term=.bd75d08cf5d8
    The following statement from the article is a bit ominous:
    The system is not only developing at an unusually low latitude but also an unusually far east longitude. Only two previous tropical storms in recorded history have developed this far east before July (in the region of the deep tropics between the Lesser Antilles and Africa): One formed on June 24, 1933, and the other on June 19, 1979. The two seasons during which these June storms formed were quite active and included some of the most infamous storms in history.

    Reply
  11. Image of sea surface temperature anomalies in the Pacific from Earthnullschool:

    https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/ocean/surface/currents/overlay=sea_surface_temp_anomaly/orthographic=-157.44,25.59,335

    Like Robert said, not back to Hot Blob conditions associated with the California drought of previous years, but maybe trending in that direction.

    Reply
  12. Image of persistent sea surface temperature anomalies near Svalbard in the North Atlantic from Earthnullschool:

    https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/ocean/surface/currents/overlay=sea_surface_temp_anomaly/orthographic=-10.22,70.63,1340/loc=29.861,75.775

    These sea surface temperature anomalies near Svalbard have been pretty stable for about two years, summer and winter.

    The West Spitsbergen current, along the west coast of Svalbard, is the gateway through which North Atlantic water originating in the Gulf Stream enters the Arctic Ocean, so I read on the web.

    So, the Gulf Stream is anomalously warm, has been for years. Is some of this anomalous warmth now creeping into the Arctic Ocean, via the West Spitsbergen current?

    Reply
    • Leland,

      I would think the answer has to be yes. The really hot Gulf Stream likely flows under the N. Atlantic cold spot, and would be funneled that way. There is a nice little funnel groove in the seabed north of the British Isles that would aid. Also, that Svalbard is almost immediately adjacent to the oceanic ridge could mean extra heat that would help the persistence of those hot spots. (I hope I understood you correctly.)

      That is the N-S ocean path. Do you have any ideas on the N-S atmospheric path? Here is another shot on ENS with paired small jets at max 127km/hr connecting ca. 35N and 20S. I have been seeing this quite a lot lately. Both of these routes must move a lot of heat. If that latest temp spike in Robert’s first graph is related, I hate to think.

      https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/isobaric/250hPa/orthographic=-60.92,18.95,425/loc=-76.692,34.673

      Reply
      • Hi mlparrish-

        Dunno much about the N-S atmospheric path. Jennifer Francis says that the jet stream is getting less stable, with more big persistent loops, that loop further south. Jennifer Francis and other people like her are a better source of information about that stuff than I am. Robert seems to know about such stuff.

        What I read on the web is that the West Spitsbergen current is warmer but saltier than the Arctic ocean water. The water in it comes from the Gulf Stream, then via the North Atlantic Drift, then via the Norwegian current along the west coast of Norway, mixing with some water from the Baltic Sea. Then it passes by Svalbard, and being salty starts to subduct under the fresher Arctic Ocean water, especially if it melts sea ice and makes a layer of fresher water on top. One branch of the West Spitsbergen current enters the Arctic Ocean. Once in the Arctic Ocean it wanders around and ultimately exits in the East Greenland current, close to where it came in.

        The sea surface temperature anomaly to the west of Svalbard might have something to do with the fact that the Arctic sea ice doesn’t cover this area any more. But it persists in the summer months, so I think it must be real.

        What worries me about this hot spot is that it is so stable. It also might add to the delayed freezing events that are predicted to happen decades from now, that are predicted to very suddenly switch the Arctic to an almost ice free state in the winter. That’s ice free in the winter, not in the summer. So it worries me that hot spots like this might be part of delayed freezing events in the winter, that could ratchet down Arctic sea ice very rapidly. I’m afraid that these hot spots might accelerate those delayed freezing events, and that those delayed freezing events might be happening decades ahead of schedule…starting right now.

        I wonder if this temperature anomaly on the surface, right where the West Spitsbergen current is, means that the WSC is delivering hotter water to the Arctic Ocean, where it circulates at a depth of a few hundred meters beneath the surface…adding to sea ice melt on the surface.

        Reply
        • Leland

          That is all too frighteningly reasonable. I could sort of understand the west hot spot (9.2C anomaly today) given the funneling effect of the mid-ocean rise and sea ice, but why the east one, and a little neighboring blob? The continental crust, at least on Google Earth, is rather featureless there. (All those methane hydrates down there, where are the sci fi folks when you need them?)

          It is hard for me to grasp how powerful the warm currents along Norway are. The Lofoten Islands have the climate of Brittany. It must be the reason (I have never been able to find it written) Siberia was not glaciated in the last ice age.

        • Interesting points, ml 🙂

          Although Siberia may not have been glaciated during the last ice age, it apparently was 90,000 years ago, according to the paper:

          Impact of Regional Climatic Change on the Stability of Relic Gas Hydrates

          https://www.researchgate.net/profile/M_Arzhanov/publication/305310131_Impact_of_regional_climatic_change_on_the_stability_of_relic_gas_hydrates/links/57b4225e08aeac317785f04f.pdf

          “This paper estimates the impact of climatic
          changes on the stability of relic GHs using the model
          of heat and moisture transport in the soil and using
          simulations of climate change within the past 100 ka.
          The data on the spatial distribution and thickness of
          the ice sheet were used to assess P,T conditions in the
          Yamal permafrost under glacial maximum about 90 ka
          [10]. In model experiments the ice cover thickness var-
          ied from 50 to 500 m, and the geothermal flux was also
          variable. Based on the calculation results, the upper
          boundary of the GH stability zone could have reached
          the surface in the Yamal Region under climatic condi
          tions corresponding to the glacial maximum about
          90 ka, an ice shield thickness of over 250 m, and a tem-
          perature of the ice at bottom of below –1°C”

          So the possibility of relic gas hydrate under Siberia still exists, alas.

          I don’t know about the sea surface temperature anomaly to the east of Svalbard. It’s been almost as stable as the other one, for the last couple of years, though.

          One problem with a warmer West Spitsbergen Current entering the Arctic Ocean is the possibility increased methane hydrate dissociation if this current touches down in some shallow region of the ESAS (East Siberian Arctic Shelf). So, not only could the warmer water interfere with the formation of the Arctic sea ice, it could also activate methane hydrate dissociation.

        • Again, thanks Leland, and very interesting.
          Now that you have brought them to my attention, I will keep an eye out, too. At some point, what with all the km wide methane plumes on the ESAS reported by S&S, all the other reports of methane erupting seemingly everywhere, the rate of increase of atmospheric methane, which remains rather sedate, will have to increase.

  13. Paul

     /  June 20, 2017

    Yet another unexplained loss of a local fishing industry. This time it’s a relatively small scale, but globally important, cockle bed. Cockles from this area used to be harvested and delivered worldwide. Which may have contributed in a small way to the problem they’ve been having the last decade or so.
    I used to love a plate of cockles and lavabread with vinegar….
    Paul (Swansea, UK)
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-40331455

    Reply

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