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More Fire and Anthrax for the Arctic: Study Finds 21 to 25 Percent of Northern Permafrost Will Thaw at Just 1.5 C of Warming

In the far north, the land is rippling, trembling, subsiding, and blowing up as greenhouse gasses are released from thawing frozen soil. Meanwhile, old diseases are being released from thawing carcasses and presenting a health hazard to locals. Strange processes that are likely to accelerate soon as global warming approaches 1.5 degrees Celsius and between 21 and 25.5 percent of all the vast region of Northern Permafrost thaws out.

(More methane blowholes like this one in Yamal are likely as permafrost thaw accelerates in the coming years and pockets of methane explosively remove the land above. How extensive permafrost thaw becomes is directly dependent on how much fossil fuel human societies decide to burn. Image source: The Siberian Times.)

Arctic Carbon Feedbacks Accelerating

Carbon feedbacks from the thawing permafrost are a serious concern. And they should be. There’s about 1,400 billion tons of carbon locked away in that massive region of frozen ground. More than twice the amount humans have already emitted into the atmosphere. And though frozen permafrost carbon stays locked away, thawed permafrost carbon tends to become biologically active — releasing into soils, the water and the air.

Already, this thawing has generated a worrying effect. During the 20th Century, it was estimated that about 500,000 tons of methane were released from the Siberian land-based permafrost region. By 2003, as this permafrost zone warmed, the annual rate of release was estimated to be 3.8 million tons per year. And by 2013, with still greater warming, the rate of release had grown to 17 million tons per year. This compares to a global emission of methane from all sources — both human and Earth System-based — of about 500 million tons per year.

(Megaslump craters like the one at Batagaika, formed by subsidence, are also a result of permafrost thaw. Such features are likely to grow and proliferate as the Earth warms and permafrost thaw expands.)

That’s a thirty-fold acceleration in the rate of Siberian permafrost methane emission over a little more than one generation. One that occurred as temperatures rose to about 1 C above 1880s averages and into a range not seen for about 150,000 years. It’s a warming that has produced visible and concerning geophysical changes throughout the Arctic permafrost environment. In Siberia, lands are subsiding even as more and more methane and carbon dioxide are leeching out. And in the Yamal region of Arctic Russia, temperatures warming into the upper 80s (30 C+) during summer appear to have set off a rash of methane eruptions from the soil even as ancient reindeer carcasses release anthrax spores into the environment as they thaw. From a report this week in The Guardian:

Long dormant spores of the highly infectious anthrax bacteria frozen in the carcass of an infected reindeer rejuvenated themselves and infected herds of reindeer and eventually local people. More recently, a huge explosion was heard in June in the Yamal Peninsula. Reindeer herders camped nearby saw flames shooting up with pillars of smoke and found a large crater left in the ground. Melting permafrost was again suspected, thawing out dead vegetation and erupting in a blowout of highly flammable methane gas.

21 to 25.5 Percent of Northern Permafrost Set to Thaw over Next Two Decades

In total, 14 methane blow out craters are now identified throughout the Yamal region. A testament to the growing carbon feedback coming from previously frozen and inactive stores.

(Permafrost losses are likely to be quite considerable over the coming decades — which is likely to produce serious knock-on effects for local and global environments. But continued fossil fuel burning through end Century produces more catastrophic results. Image source: Responses and changes in the permafrost and snow water equivalent in the Northern Hemisphere under a scenario of  1.5 C warming.)

But, unfortunately, these kinds of weird, disturbing, and often dangerous changes to northern environments are just a foreshadowing of more to come. For a recent scientific study has found that just 1.5 degrees Celsius worth of warming will force between 21 and 25.5 percent of the northern permafrost to thaw. A process that is already underway, but that will continue to accelerate with each 0.1 degree Celsius of additional warming. The study found that the faster human atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions build up, the more rapidly permafrost would thaw once the 1.5 C threshold was reached. Under a rapid human reduction of greenhouse gasses (RCP 2.6 scenario), permafrost thaw was reduced to 21 percent in the study. But under worst case human fossil fuel emissions (RCP 8.5 scenario), the accelerated rate of warming resulted in 25.5 percent permafrost thaw.

Perhaps more concerning was the fact that the study found that this 1.5 C temperature threshold was reached by as early as 2023 under the worst case fossil fuel burning scenario even as it was held off only to 2027 if rapid fossil fuel burning reductions were achieved. A broader sampling of studies and natural variability hold out some hope that 1.5 C might be pushed back to the early to mid 2030s in the absolute best case. However, considering the amount of human emissions already released and in the pipeline even under the best cases, it appears that crossing the 1.5 C threshold sometime in the near future is unavoidable at this time (barring some unforeseen massive global response and mobilization).

(Permafrost losses under different human emissions scenarios through 2100 show that continued fossil fuel burning results in between 47 and 87 percent loss of permafrost area by 2100 [RCP 4.5 and 8.5]. Image source: Responses and changes in the permafrost and snow water equivalent in the Northern Hemisphere under a scenario of  1.5 C warming.)

Overall, the study found that surface permafrost losses lagged the crossing of the 1.5 C threshold by only about 10 years. And that the lowest emissions scenarios (RCP 2.6) resulted in a leveling off of permafrost losses to 24 percent by 2100. Meanwhile, the worst case human greenhouse gas emissions scenarios (RCP 8.5) resulted in 87 percent permafrost area reductions by 2100.

Risk of Serious Carbon Feedback Far Worse With Fossil Fuel Burning

With so much carbon locked away in permafrost, heightened rates of thaw present a risk that longer term warming might eventually run away as millions and billions of tons of carbon are ultimately liberated. Under moderate to worst case human fossil fuel burning scenarios, it is estimated that permafrost carbon emissions could approach 1 billion tons per year or more. At about 10 percent or more of the present human emission, such a rate of release to the atmosphere is about equivalent to that achieved during the last hyper-thermal event of 55 million years ago (the PETM). Moreover, a heightened response by large methane stores could result in a more immediate warming effect as methane is 28 to 36 times more potent a heat trapping gas than carbon dioxide over Century time scales.

A risk of serious carbon feedbacks that accelerate rates of warming this Century and over the longer term is not inconsiderable even with a 24 percent loss of Permafrost under the best case scenario identified by this study. However, the likelihood of a much more serious feedback under continued fossil fuel burning is far more apparent.

(UPDATED)

Links:

Responses and changes in the permafrost and snow water equivalent in the Northern Hemisphere under a scenario of  1.5 C warming

All Hell Breaks Loose as Tundra Thaws

Permafrost Thaw to Blow Carbon Budget Faster Than We Would Expect

PETM Hyperthermal

Arctic Methane Emissions

RCP Scenarios

Hat tip to Spike

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56 Comments

  1. mr elastomeric

     /  July 26, 2017

    Welp! Guess this supposed to be a positive feedback loop?

    Reply
  2. Greg

     /  July 26, 2017

    The image from Yamal is chilling and should be mandatory viewing by every human being. We should put it next to this one on our bulletin boards:

    and this one:

    Reply
  3. Greg

     /  July 26, 2017

    and Syria’s climate induced mega political crisis:

    Reply
    • This is our reality now. We need to be far wiser to deal with it. Present U.S. presidential and republican political leadership is far from inspiring. It’s good to see that a number of others are stepping up. But will it be enough?

      Reply
      • Andy_in_SD

         /  July 26, 2017

        We are in the classic “it’s over there so it’s not my problem, we would never descend to that” cycle.

        We are not much more than Ozymandias at this juncture.

        Reply
        • Rome has water rationing, Kansas hit death-valley like temperatures last week, Miami and a hundred other coastal communities are being swallowed up by inches and feet. How much is really over there? Sure, you know, I know, we know it’s here too. But the penchant for creating personal delusions is startling.

  4. Greg

     /  July 26, 2017

    And the dying corals:

    Reply
  5. redskylite

     /  July 26, 2017

    As more and more information makes it on N.Z’s national news, (last night they featured the biological growth of algae causing dark snow in the Arctic), I read that Russia has been struggling with abnormal wildfire this year, even TASS reported it. This latest news release from the good old Siberian Times confirms that not all is roses in Siberia right now. Resorting to unusual measure to control the fires and seeking as much help as they can muster.

    Officials resort to artificial rain to tackle raging wildfires in Siberia.

    Clouds are being spiked with a special compound over remote areas of Yakutia to force rain in forest infernos.

    The skies are cannoned from An-26 planes with silver iodide or liquid nitrogen by forestry fire fighters, provoking 50 minutes of rain across a 30 kilometre area.

    An 18,000 hectare fire in Viluisky district is being targeted, some 425 kilometres northwest of regional capital Yakutsk.

    Firefighters are also using explosives to remove obstacles and build mineral lines to block the spread of fires.

    Yakutia has some 12 wildfires.

    http://siberiantimes.com/other/others/features/officials-resort-to-artificial-rain-to-tackle-raging-wildfires-in-siberia/

    Reply
  6. redskylite

     /  July 26, 2017

    I know floods happened before global warming, but warmer air means more water vapor is held, and we keep reading of events like the attached in My Myanmar, you can hear the feeling of utter misery and dispair in the video, it is very sad indeed. We must work for a brighter future, our descendants deserve better.

    Video shows golden Buddhist temple collapsing into Myanmar river amid monsoon floods
    Two people have died and more than 100,000 displaced amid heavy rainfall, officials say.

    Myanmar ranks first as the “most at risk” country in Asia, according to the UN Risk Model.

    The country is vulnerable to a wide range of hazards, including floods, cyclones, earthquakes, landslides and tsunamis.

    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/video-shows-golden-buddhist-temple-collapsing-into-myanmar-river-amid-monsoon-floods-1631724

    Reply
    • wpNSAlito

       /  July 29, 2017

      “I know floods happened before global warming….”
      Remember: flood = rain + terrain
      Humans are pretty damned good at altering terrain to introduce flooding levels beyond what has happened before, so the trick to detecting climate change is to look for *record rain* rather than *record flood*, such as the rain-bomb that hit southern Louisiana in 2016:

      Reply
  7. climatehawk1

     /  July 26, 2017

    Retweeted.

    Reply
  8. redskylite

     /  July 26, 2017

    I’ve read that more and more of these un-welcomed visitors will crop up (because of the rises in temperature), they’re proving to be a menace in parts of Ireland this year.

    “Everyone who is swimming this week in beaches along the East coast should be conscious of these Lion’s Mane jellyfish, which have been brought in with the spring tide in their numbers,” he said.
    “They have the potential to cause an anaphylactic reaction in someone who is stung, if they should be allergic, but much like a bee sting, you don’t know until you’ve been stung.

    “We have seen a number of people hospitalised from this jellyfish and its sting is quite painful and different to other jellyfish found in Irish waters.
    “The sting from their tentacles may last for days after they have died,” he said.

    http://www.independent.ie/life/warning-for-sea-swimmers-as-dangerous-giant-jellyfish-spotted-on-irish-beaches-34896463.html

    Reply
  9. bostonblorp

     /  July 26, 2017

    RS, I struggle with this sentence: “Moreover, a heightened response by large methane stores could result in a more immediate warming effect as methane is 20 times more potent a heat trapping gas than carbon dioxide over Century time scales.”

    If the effect is immediate (let’s say over 10-20 years) then wouldn’t it be more appropriate to factor in the CO2e of CH4 in a similar timeframe? 40x? 60x?

    More broadly I worry (and I’m an uneducated rube by all measures) that the 20x factor has become a standard that is far too generous. The EPA CO2e calculator uses a value of 25 but the website says it have have a GWP as high as 36. https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator

    If CH4 levels are stable to increasing then why give it a discount? Why not use a real time value? Or worse, if CH4 emissions cause a temperature “spike” that result in a multiple of new CH4 being released maybe its CO2e value should be something like 200?

    I hope this isn’t too OT but this method of calculation has bugged me for some time.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the feedback. I’ll look toward making a more inclusive statement. Methane is touchy b/c the GWP is more front loaded, but falls off rapidly due to shorter atmospheric lifespan. Of course, if feedbacks lengthen effective lifespan by adding more methane or if sinks are reduced, then the front loading has an additive effect that is not counted. x20 is a more conservative base. But the x28 to x36 the EPA references is probably more practical. In any case, x20 came from one of my sources. Will work on the wording.

      Reply
      • Allan Barr

         /  July 26, 2017

        I believe they are using 86 X CO2e over a 20 year time frame now. Q? As long as CH4 levels are increasing each year should one not use the day one values? Just read a tweet from N.O.O.A. that said CO2e increased 4 ppm last year to 489. If human emissions are indeed being truthfully reported then it appears forcing from other areas are coming into play now.

        Reply
        • At present atmospheric lifespan of 8 years, and under present atmospheric physics, 86 GWP is impractical as a middle to longer term range b/c the higher value requires an inclining higher level of emission to just maintain a steady atmospheric content. The GWP number is predicated on a 500 year timeframe and CO2 is much longer lasting. Further, paleoclimate indicates that Earth System temperature is primarily governed over the long term by CO2 concentration, though methane is a factor and has the potential to create shorter term erratic wags. Rate of increase is also slower than in past. The x20 GWP is practical over 100 years without some expectation of heat related feedback and/or degradation of sinks. In addition, at higher levels of concentration, competition along the absorption band increases.

      • Abel Adamski

         /  July 26, 2017

        To be honest Robert, I am with bb all the way on this one, I too am a relatively uneducated rube however I see the instantaneous CO2 equivalence of CH4 as in the order of 120x and the Century equivalence of approx 20x, this would be I feel appropriate in the event of a major outgassing pulse event if applied to that extra pulse, however the underlying steady state or incremantally increasing rate would have to be evaluated on its instantaneous CO2 equivalence.

        This to my mind, bearing in mind the patcht global concentrations (more in the Arctic circle go some way to explaining the oft heard phrases of earlier than or sooner than expected

        It has never made logical sense to me

        Reply
        • wili

           /  July 26, 2017

          Some things to keep in mind in this discussion:

          “…if global methane emissions were to increase by factors of 2.5 and 5.2 above current emissions, the indirect contributions to [Radiative Forcing] would be about 250% and 400%, respectively, of the RF that can be attributed to directly emitted methane alone…”

          https://darchive.mblwhoilibrary.org/bitstream/handle/1912/4553/2010GB003845.pdf?sequence=1

          So we’ve go to hope that the folks who are saying a major, rapid methane release from the Arctic is unlikely are right!

        • wili

           /  July 26, 2017

          The global warming potential of methane depends on a number of factors. If concentrations of methane double, the gwp actually does, too. H2S can also destroy the HO radical that breaks down methane (and other things). So we have to hope, for this and other reasons, that we and the Arctic don’t release to much methane too fast, and that Canfield oceans don’t develop too quickly.

        • wili

           /  July 26, 2017

          More here: “increasing levels of methane from 1X to 200X industrial levels increases the half-life of methane from 8.4 years to 42.5”
          http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abs/sc00100w.html

        • OK. Let’s do the math.

          We assume a doubling of CO2e results in 6 C warming long term. The same doubling results in approx 3 C warming in one Century and about 1.5 C warming in a short term horizon. Present methane forcing according to NOAA’s assumed approx 25 to 30 GWP produced about 45 ppm CO2e forcing during 2016. Relative CO2e forcings from CO2 and other greenhouse gasses were 128 and 41 respectively. The resulting temperature departure during a strong El Nino year was 1.21 C.

          This total CO2e forcing was a 214 ppm increase over 275 ppm approx values during 1880. Assuming a 1.5 C/3 C/6 C climate sensitivity for each doubling of CO2e and we would get 1.16 C warming in the short term, 2.32 C warming in the medium term (one Century), and 4.64 C warming in the long term. This puts us very close to the mark.

          Now, if the present total effect of methane on GWP were x86, we would assume a CO2e of 154 (approx). The result would be a total CO2e addition of 323. This, under 1.5/3/6 C climate sensitivity would result in 1.8 C short term warming. We are presently 0.6 C off that mark. If the effective GWP of methane is x120, then you assume a CO2e of 216+169 = 385 addition and 660 total. This would result in 2.1 C present warming. Clearly we are not there so methane GWP in such high ranges for present (if not immediate) timescales is obvious overcounting. A more rational range is for present multi-decadal timescales (but not Century timescales) is probably x25 to x40.

          Further, pretty much all the global temperature models from IPCC and other major monitoring agencies have been mostly correct in their rates of warming prognostication. If methane’s effective GWP was much higher and unaccounted for, we would be hitting some unexpectedly rapid rates of warming. We are not. We are in the range of predicted warming based on the present forcing for this time period.

          So even though we have a x86 approx GWP for methane over 20 years, the shorter atmospheric lifespan of a single methane molecule along its absorption band results in less RF over time — in the range of 20 to 25 over one century timescales under present atmospheric physics. This results in less feedback (water vapor forcing etc) than one would expect even from such a potent up-front loading. That said, it’s pretty clear that scientists are concerned and that there are a number of gray areas that still need to be explored. So we can probably expect revisions and further clarifications on methane GWP as the science evolves.

          https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/MethaneMatters/

        • To wili — methane saturation of x200 would result in serious degradation of its ability to draw in heat along its absorption band. This would reduce its effective GWP relative to its atmospheric lifetime. In any case, we don’t have much evidence of methane hitting 40 ppm in paleoclimate studies (although there are a few worrying hints). If it did, we would be in serious trouble even if the net GWP was x30 due to combined competition and sink degradation.

        • A doubling of global methane would add approx 60 ppm to present CO2e forcing. Resulting in approx 0.32 C short term warming, 0.64 C medium term warming (Century) and 1.28 C long term warming (500 year horizon).

        • From NASA:

          “Carbon dioxide (CO2). A minor but very important component of the atmosphere, carbon dioxide is released through natural processes such as respiration and volcano eruptions and through human activities such as deforestation, land use changes, and burning fossil fuels. Humans have increased atmospheric CO2 concentration by more than a third since the Industrial Revolution began. This is the most important long-lived “forcing” of climate change.

          Methane. A hydrocarbon gas produced both through natural sources and human activities, including the decomposition of wastes in landfills, agriculture, and especially rice cultivation, as well as ruminant digestion and manure management associated with domestic livestock. On a molecule-for-molecule basis, methane is a far more active greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, but also one which is much less abundant in the atmosphere.”

        • CO2 primary control for Earth’s temperature:

          https://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/lacis_01/

        • H2S does have the potential to harm sinks and longer tail warming from methane/BAU based climate change, potential Canfield Oceans should absolutely be a concern. But we don’t have an indication that a x86 to x120 methane GWP is effective at this time as a measure for warming even in near term (multi-decade to 1 Century) ranges even though the immediate effect is in that higher range.

        • wili

           /  July 28, 2017

          Thanks for the added perspective. I was just supplying some scientific papers references to which I happened to have on hand that I though would be relevant. Not trying to make any strong claims myself.

          From what I’ve read, figuring gwp is tricky. As I recall, one scientist said it’s like trying to quantify how much faster liver failure will kill you than loss of kidney function… they are just very different processes moderated by different influence.

          I think one Shindel et alia paper that put the short term forcing at 35 x CO2 and long term at 105 x, for example, was basing this on the fact that a large portion of that CO2 was coming out of coal plants which were also emitting aerosols which in part act to ‘shade’ the earth…so it was based more on a lower forcing for CO2 rather than a higher one for methane. That is just to show how complex these issues can be.

          Thanks again.

  10. Abel Adamski

     /  July 26, 2017

    Interesting, especially the comments
    For what it is worth considering the time span and the Tory Government

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jul/25/britain-to-ban-sale-of-all-diesel-and-petrol-cars-and-vans-from-2040

    Britain to ban sale of all diesel and petrol cars and vans from 2040

    Plans follow French commitment to take polluting vehicles off the road owing to effect of poor air quality on people’s health

    Reply
    • Nice. Thanks for this, Abel.

      Reply
    • These are the ideals I wanted Canada to lead in , as well as outlawing needless plastics ( forks knives, coffee cup lids , etc.) . Instead we hand big oil 3.2 Billion and watch B C continue to burn adding untold amount of CO2 in carbon bombs . I just cant stand our leaders and never could . http://google.org/crisismap/google.com/2017-british-columbia-wildfires. Interactive map on B C fires. We still have Aug. to go .

      Reply
    • Jeremy in Wales

       /  July 26, 2017

      This was good politics but as a commitment it means very little as I am fairly sure the government knows that production will have ceased before 2040 as that is the direction of the automotive industry now. Mini have annouced production of an electric model in Oxford and even future Peugeot and Vauxhall (was GM now owned by the French firm) cars have a chassis designed to take batteries in future. What it covered up was the lack of any real action to reduce particulate and nitrogen dioxide pollution which is killing people now.
      The government here in the UK has already rowed back on electrification of the railways – bi-mode electric and diesel engines – being more inefficient, slower acceleration and reduced passenger capacity and of course continued diesel emissions.

      Reply
    • Yes, it IS interesting. Seems as though there are elements in the British government who see this as an opportunity to exert global leadership, now that Trump has abdicated it. Still early days, but seems like a healthy development.

      Reply
  11. j_menadue

     /  July 26, 2017

    I suspect that 2040 is way too late. This article indicates that our use of FF is still exactly as high percentage-wise as it was in 1987, despite renewables. https://www.axios.com/the-world-needs-clean-coal-but-cant-get-it-2463070285.html

    Reply
    • The article misses a few key points.

      1. It assumes we need coal for base load electricity to balance costs in a renewable grid. We don’t. We just need some form of storage/dispatchable power supply (batteries, pumped hydro etc).
      2. It assumes that carbon capture coal is achievable at low cost. It’s not. Pilot projects appear to have a negative learning curve.
      3. It cherry picks stats with regards to fossil fuel use levels — creating a false impression.
      4. The billions and billions of dollars necessary for carbon capture coal is better spent deploying less expensive renewable energy systems.

      Reply
  12. redskylite

     /  July 26, 2017

    Looking grim in the South of France.

    France wildfires force mass evacuation.

    Wildfires in south-eastern France have forced the evacuation of 10,000 people overnight, officials say.
    Hundreds of firefighters have been deployed to battle the fires near Bormes-les-Mimoses, in the country’s Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region.
    France earlier asked its EU neighbours for more help fighting the fires.
    Some 4,000 hectares (15.4 sq miles) of land have burned along the Mediterranean coast, in the mountainous interior and on the island of Corsica.
    “The evacuations, at least 10,000, followed the progression of the fire,” a fire official was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-40725294

    Reply
  13. redskylite

     /  July 26, 2017

    A great article in Slate, kind of echoes Spikes points earlier on the New York Magazine article which was dimissed by some as being too alarmist.

    “When we look at more mainstream predictions, however, there doesn’t seem to be much reason for hope. Although we are unlikely to experience the “doomsday” scenario described by Wallace-Wells, we will likely see increases that will exacerbate existing inequalities as we experience changes in weather patterns that affect life in coastal cities, the production of food, and global conflicts (as Mann himself explains). Even if things aren’t going to be as bad as the worst-case scenario, the future still isn’t looking good.”

    http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2017/07/why_climate_change_discussions_need_apocalyptic_thinking.html

    Reply
    • I think the conjecture over the Wallace-Wells article has devolved into oversimplification in a number of publications. A good number of the issues Wallace-Wells highlights are a concern by end Century under RCP 4.5 to RCP 8.5 fossil fuel burning.

      1. Parts of the equatorial zone will probably be mostly uninhabitable by humans.
      2. Heatwaves will push temperatures above 35 C (the human limit) over wide regions at 4 C to 7 C warming.
      3. Degradation of ocean health will likely produce very large dead zones. The risk to ocean life is considerable. The risk of hydrogen sulfide venting on a local level is moderate, but something to worry about. This is not a full transition to Canfield Ocean, but it is a more deadly, less life supporting ocean.
      4. Under BAU stresses to resources will tend to act as a conflict multiplier.
      5. Damage to crops and harm to growing seasons will be quite extensive at 4 C to 7C warming.
      6. Disease vectors will move and multiply.

      Other impacts that Wallace-Wells does not address —

      1. Sea level rise will render a large number of coastal regions uninhabitable and force mass migration under BAU. Even just 3 feet would be enough to produce this. However, 4C to 7C warming risks multimeter sea level rise by that time.
      2. Rapid loss of ice from Greenland and Antarctica will produce serious ocean circulation changes and likely very extreme weather related effects on a hemispheric or, at least, regional level.
      3. Increased warming will also tend to produce far more extreme weather conditions in a number of metrics.

      It seems to me that Slate is unconsciously shifting to a more luke-warm view of potential outcomes. This is understandable given how difficult it is to understand the range of impacts that are possible due to warming. But, in my view, the article unintentionally downplays a number of very real risks.

      Reply
    • +1. Glad to see continuing debate on this. I personally think very sad that mainstream climate scientists overreacted. IMHO, knee-jerk reaction, not helpful.

      Reply
  14. Spike

     /  July 26, 2017

    Thanks for the hat tip Robert and for a fine clear explanation of the implications. In the spirit of avoiding doomerism ;-), the takeaway for me is that with vigorous action we could cut century time frame permafrost loss from near total to about a quarter.

    Reply
  15. Abel Adamski

     /  July 26, 2017

    It’s a strange/interesting world. For the sake of an interesting comment in the middle

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/26/climate-change-threatens-himalayan-viagra-fungus-and-a-way-of-life

    But local yarsha hunters have been experiencing a huge drop in the availability of the fungus in recent years.

    Bibek Jhakri, who has also collected the fungus for eight years, said: “I used to find 50-60 yarshas a day during my earlier years, while now finding four to five per day is a matter of luck for me.” He said he was afraid his major source of income won’t last.

    A 2016 study published in the journal Biological Conservation, found a combination of climate change and untimely and over harvesting were to blame for the previous falls. Whereas in future the range of the fungus would be reduced by up to a third because less snow would fall in the pastures and snow would melt earlier in spring.

    High mountains are experiencing a more rapid change in temperature than lower elevations. “There are strong theories that guide the expectation of climate change being comparatively higher in mountains than at sea level,” Nicholas Pepin, a geographer at the University of Portsmouth, told Climate Home.

    Reply
  16. Abel Adamski

     /  July 26, 2017

    [video src="https://dp8hsntg6do36.cloudfront.net/59665905be10340b23000002/ddab1bee-7378-49bc-9014-7a3a04a133b1high.webm" /]

    How Climate Change Is Already Affecting Earth

    Though the planet has only warmed by one-degree Celsius since the Industrial Revolution, climate change’s effect on earth has been anything but subtle. Here are some of the most astonishing developments over the past few years.

    Reply
    • Abel Adamski

       /  July 26, 2017

      Try2
      [video src="https://dp8hsntg6do36.cloudfront.net/59665905be10340b23000002/ddab1bee-7378-49bc-9014-7a3a04a133b1high.webm" /]

      Reply
      • Abel Adamski

         /  July 26, 2017

        remove brackets – added automatically when comment posted

        Reply
    • Not working. Will see what I can do about it.

      Hmm. Does the video have a parent page? That code isn’t applying to the comment page.

      Reply
  17. wili

     /  July 26, 2017

    Nice re-examination of the srl data by tamino here:

    “Sea Level Rise has Accelerated”

    https://tamino.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/sea-level-rise-has-accelerated/

    Reply
  18. wharf rat

     /  July 26, 2017

    California knocks Trump as it extends climate change effort

    Gov. Jerry Brown and his predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, stood side by side Tuesday to cheer the extension of one of the most ambitious programs in the U.S. to reduce fossil fuel pollution, while condemning President Donald Trump’s failure to see climate change as a deadly threat….

    “America is fully in the Paris agreement. There’s only one man that dropped out,” Schwarzenegger said of Trump on Tuesday. “America did not drop out.”

    http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/california-knocks-trump-extends-climate-change-effort-48846229

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  19. Marine cloud brightening, which I find frightening, may be closer than we think. As a testament to its seriousness, and maybe imminence, the authors of this paper “include UW graduate students and faculty in philosophy, atmospheric science and civil engineering who were part of an interdisciplinary UW graduate course on geoengineering — among the first of its kind.”

    Could spraying particles into marine clouds help cool the planet?
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170725154206.htm

    Reply
  20. Leland Palmer

     /  July 27, 2017

    I had an earlier post about the possibility of glacial relic methane hydrate and the Siberian Arctic shelves. That post, awaiting moderation, was poorly researched and contained inaccuracies. Robert, would you please kill it?

    The glacial history of the Siberian arctic shelves is poorly understood according to this review paper:

    http://ac.els-cdn.com/S0277379113002989/1-s2.0-S0277379113002989-main.pdf?_tid=702ae682-72d7-11e7-97ee-00000aacb362&acdnat=1501165708_1dd1df300f5479baa411338e823f3f80

    Apparently sea floor mapping was hard to do there before 2007, due to persistent sea ice cover, and obtaining officially approved access to this area was hard.

    There are a series of ice ages that could have created relic metastable methane hydrate on some of the shallow shelves of the Arctic Ocean. But I need to research this better before posting about it again.

    Reply

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