Fire in the Land of Ice: Massive Wildfires Rage Over Greenland and Siberia

Like never before, regions we typically associate with cold and ice are being over-run by wildfires. It’s a situation brought on by human-caused climate change. For our continued burning of fossil fuels is causing the Arctic to warm twice as fast as the rest of the globe. Under this oppressive influx of heat, the permafrost is thawing. And the fragile plants, frozen lands, and soils dependent on much cooler conditions simply cannot cope. Increasingly, and on greater and greater scales, they are burning.

(Large Greenland fire captured by NASA’s Earth Observatory on August 7th.)

This past week, an outlandish wildfire ignited about 100 miles southwest of Ilulissat near the western coast of Greenland. The fire, visible by satellite, cast a long smoke plume even as it exploded into fierce intensity. The odd blaze subsequently generated a rash of expert chatter among Arctic observers on twitter even as news sources like NPR scrambled for contextual information.

Due to typically very low fire incidence, Greenland lacks a national forest fire information center. However, widespread satellite reports and news based observation provide a pretty clear context for this odd event. According to news reports from NPR, the fire itself is a complex of multiple blazes — the largest of which has expanded to 3,000 acres. It’s a massive forest fire. And it’s exceptionally odd seeing such a blaze light up in typically-frozen Greenland.

(Time lapse of massive Greenland wildfire provided by Meteos.)

The fire ignited as temperatures rose to near 70 degrees (F) across the region. A range that is well above average for this Arctic zone. And brisk, down-sloping winds likely helped to speed the fire’s initial rapid expansion.

Fires do occur at times in Greenland. But they are usually rare and small. This year’s fires, on the other hand, have been exceptional. Preliminary satellite observation indicates that as much as 8 times the typical number of active fires have ignited so far in Greenland during 2017. And there is every indication that this particular fire complex is the largest ever recorded on an island that is mostly blanketed by thousands of feet of ice.

(Analysis of active wildfire pixels in Greenland satellite analysis indicates a substantially increased rate of burning in 2017.)

The fire itself is burning through peatlands — which contain deep, carbon-rich soils. In many regions, thawed permafrost ultimately becomes peat. In addition, peat itself is very sensitive to climate change related warming. For as exceptional heat dries the peat, it becomes a deep, dense fuel for fires. When the fires ultimately come, they can eat far into the peat soils — burning 3 feet or more beneath the ground.

Though not as bad as fossil fuel burning for the climate system, peat fires do provide a troubling amplifying feedback to human-caused climate change if they become widespread and if large permafrost zones thaw into peat and subsequently burn. One researcher noted to the New York Times last year that: “It’s carbon that has accumulated over several thousands of years. If it were to be released, the global CO2 concentration would be much higher.”

(Fires burning near the melting Greenland Ice Sheet are likely in a recently thawed permafrost zone. Permafrost contains a massive carbon store that if released will further exacerbate human-caused warming. Wildfires are one mechanism promoting that release. And as Arctic lands thaw and warm, more large fires are popping up across the Arctic. Image source: NASA Worldview.)

Jessica L. McCarty, an Assistant Professor of Geography at Miami University provides further context regarding the massive Greenland fires:

“They are likely occurring in areas of degraded permafrost, which are predicted to have high thaw rates between now and 2050 with some evidence of current melt near Sisimiut. Fires in the High Northern Latitudes release significant CO2, CH4, N20, and black carbon. A fire this close to the Greenland Ice Shelf is likely to deposit additional black carbon on the ice, further speeding up the melt.”

Siberian Wildfires Now Extremely Intense

In many places throughout the Arctic, rapidly warmed and dried peatlands, forests and previously frozen permafrost zones are also burning. In Siberia the inky smoke plumes from massive fires today stretch for nearly 2,000 miles. Numerous fire complexes that dwarf the odd Greenland blaze are plainly visible in the satellite picture.

(The smoke plume in this image would blanket most of Greenland. Massive wildfires belch giant plumes of inky smoke over Siberia and the Arctic Ocean on August 9th. For reference, bottom edge of frame is 1,200 miles. Image source: NASA Worldview.)

The fires come with extreme heat along a high pressure ridge zone stretching from Lake Baikal all the way to the shores of the Arctic Ocean. Today, temperatures in this Arctic and near Arctic region are ranging from 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit or as much as 35 degrees (F) above average.

With so much Arctic warming and thawing now ongoing, massive fires have become a frequent occurrence during summertime in Siberia recently. And this year, Russia has resorted to cloud seeding in an apparently fruitless attempt to suppress the enormous blazes.

Most of today’s fires are burning in Yakutia — which contains one of the largest global stores of permafrost carbon in the world. During recent years, permafrost has more and more rapidly thawed through this zone — providing a larger and larger store of peat-like fuels for the kinds of fires we are seeing today.

Links:

NASA Worldview

A Massive Wildfire is Now Burning in Greenland

Wildfire in Greenland

Wildfires are Burning in Greenland

Greenland Hit by Largest Wildfire on Record

Making Rain to Extinguish Wildfires

Hat tip to Andy in San Diego

Hat tip to Vic

Hat tip to Greg

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68 Comments

  1. eleggua

     /  August 9, 2017
    Reply
  2. eleggua

     /  August 9, 2017
    Reply
  3. eleggua

     /  August 9, 2017
    Reply
  4. Hallyx

     /  August 9, 2017

    Apropos the pre-penultimate thread (You sure are fast, Robert.):

    “New York banned high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking) two years ago, in a victory for persistent anti-fracking activists and a potential precedent for other states. Now, however, the state is poised to begin operating a power plant that will make fracking infrastructure fully operational throughout the state, completely undermining the ban.”

    (When will they ever learn?)

    http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/41547-new-york-s-fracking-ban-was-supposed-to-set-a-precedent-but-gov-cuomo-is-going-back-on-his-word

    Reply
  5. Hallyx

     /  August 9, 2017

    “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”

    http://www.terradaily.com/reports/US_to_join_climate_talks_despite_Paris_accord_exit_999.html

    Didn’t they pull something similar in Tokyo?

    Reply
    • ‘Use fossil fuels more cleanly…’

      No such animal exists. If you are honest about dealing with climate change, you must honestly commit to leaving fossil fuels in the ground.

      Reply
  6. Suzanne

     /  August 9, 2017

    Front page NY Times online this afternoon…”The Sea Level Did, in Fact, Rise Faster in the Southeast U.S.”

    For people in the southeastern United States, and especially in Florida, who feel that annoying tidal flooding has sneaked up on them in recent years, it turns out to be true. And scientists have a new explanation.

    In a paper published online Wednesday, University of Florida researchers calculated that from 2011 to 2015, the sea level along the American coastline south of Cape Hatteras rose six times faster than the long-term rate of global increase.

    Reply
    • Interesting…

      Reply
      • eleggua

         /  August 10, 2017

        http://page99test.blogspot.com/2012/06/bill-mcguires-waking-giant.html

        Bill McGuire, author of ‘Waking The Giant: How a Changing Climate Triggers Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Volcanoes’:

        “As global sea levels rose by 130m, bending of the crust around the ocean margins increased the frequency of earthquakes on coastal faults like California’s San Andreas, and at the same time forced magma out of volcanoes located close to the ocean…
        Hidden away in deepest Alaska, Pavlof is a fussy volcano that prefers to erupt between September and December.

        The reason for this seems to be that at this time of the year, local wind patterns act to drive up adjacent sea levels adjacent by around 17cm – about the span of an outstretched hand. The extra load exerted by this small rise is sufficient to bend the crust under the volcano so as to squeeze out available magma like toothpaste out of a tube.”

        Reply
  7. wili

     /  August 9, 2017

    Somehow I find that fire in Greenland to particularly…disturbing. Signs of things to come. Thanks again for highlighting these important and troubling developments.

    Reply
    • I’m definitely with you there. Imagine a year when there are fires all around the outer and deglaciated rim of Greenland. I don’t think that is particularly too speculative in a 2 to 3 C world.

      Reply
  8. bostonblorp

     /  August 9, 2017

    Just a layman thinking out loud.. but if the likes of Greenland and other tundra-rich places are warming, what would be the effect of trying to seed vast forests by plane such that trees could start making use of this bio-matter and potentially draw down some CO2 while they are growing. Or at least offset some of the released carbon.

    I have to imagine it would take centuries for natural forest propagation to reach into the former tundra. As far as geoengineering goes this seems less hazardous than iron fertilization or sulfide spraying.

    Reply
    • Assisted northward flora propagation… Sounds like a good idea to me so long as the new species aren’t too aggressive and create a considerable otherwise negative impact. It would certainly help to sequester some of that permafrost carbon. Worth taking a good look at. It seems to me at first blush that the benefits would probably outweigh the negatives.

      Reply
    • Greg

       /  August 9, 2017

      But would likely then just become even better fuel with greater surface area exposed to oxygen, dry out the peat through evapotranspiration, and just get consumed in the coming fires, unfortunately.

      Reply
      • Possible that such an effort would be futile or even have harmful results. I don’t know the present state of the research on use of forests to sequester peat carbon in the Arctic. If there are species that would tend to keep more of this carbon locked away and reduce the overall feedback, then it would be worthwhile. But, as with most projects of this kind, you need strong research to back it up. You don’t want to just go acting without knowing what the consequences are going to be. But if there’s a possibility you could blunt feedbacks through land management (and there’s a decent amount of evidence that certain practices do help to keep carbon sequestered in lower latitude regions), then I think it’s worth looking at.

        It’s worth noting that such practices only tend to work within marginal ranges. For example, good land management in Africa, Indonesia, Brazil and Southeast Asia might prevent the loss of tropical rainforest and tropical peatland carbon to the atmosphere in the 1 to 2 C warming range. But when you get into the 2-4 C warming range, the effectiveness of these practices becomes questionable due to the higher overall impact of building heat. It’s possible that the effectiveness of similar land management in the Arctic would be reduced by the overall more rapid pace of warming there. But I think it’s worth taking a look at.

        Reply
  9. redskylite

     /  August 9, 2017

    R.S Many thanks for thoroughly highlighting this item of news, and pulling together sources and illustrations to present a the best and complete coverage. It caught my eye and I’ve translated and read local Greenland newspaper reports – the size of the fire is very unusual and outside the memories of the local fire department. It is yet another “Canary in the coal mine”, no folk stories of smoldering peat fires even in the day’s of the Viking “Eric the Red” in the fabled Medieval Warm Period. It does prove a threat to the reindeer and hunters, and the rising smoke most be yet another major threat to the albedo of the great Greenland ice-sheet. I just hope this registers as being abnormal to the public at large – and they don’t just dismiss it as “fires happen – so what?”.

    Attached B.B.C’s World News’s treatment of the news item.

    ‘Unusual’ Greenland wildfires linked to peat

    New images have been released of wildfires that continue to burn close to the Greenland ice sheet, on the country’s west coast.
    Fires are rare on an island where 80% of the land is covered by ice up to 3km thick in places.
    However, satellites have observed smoke and flames north-east of a town called Sisimiut since 31 July.
    Experts believe at least two fires are burning in peat that may have dried out as temperatures have risen.
    A song of fire and ice?
    Researchers say that across Greenland there is now less surface water than in the past, which could be making vegetation more susceptible to fire.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-40877099

    Reply
    • redskylite

       /  August 9, 2017

      Good coverage of the Greenland fire in the “Time” magazine too. Glad to see this item is being picked up by responsible media. If it’s “worrisome” to enough people we might accelerate on the considerable action already being taken. I hope.

      “Fires like the ones now raging may accelerate warming in two ways. They could deposit more dark soot on the surface of Greenland’s abundant ice, which will then absorb more heat, leading to more melting, Weber says. The fires will also increase the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas normally locked up in the permafrost, Veraverbeke says.

      The Greenland blazes “fit into this pattern [of warming], and it’s worrisome,” he adds.”

      http://www.newsweek.com/fire-greenland-climate-change-global-warming-648818

      Reply
    • It’s actually gotten very widespread coverage. So kudos to all the agencies that jumped in to report on this event.

      Reply
  10. redskylite

     /  August 9, 2017

    OOps – Sincerely sorry for the senior moment got Time and Newsweek mixed up.

    Reply
  11. Hilary

     /  August 9, 2017

    Sorry OT but I am sure of interest here. Thanks for all your work R.S.
    From NZ: Free screenings of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Sequel sponsored by Z petrol stations
    There seems a deep irony at work when a petrol retailer bankrolls screenings of a movie about climate change.
    New Zealand’s biggest petrol station chain, Z Energy, is paying for free screenings of Al Gore’s new climate change documentary An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.
    Z Energy, which runs more than 200 petrol stations around the country, has partnered with Paramount Pictures to offer 3000 free tickets to opening-night screenings of An Inconvenient Sequel”
    The company’s chief executive, Mike Bennetts, said the free screenings were aimed at sparking a nationwide conversation about climate change.
    “Z believes climate change is one of the greatest problems facing our world and we all have a role – companies, governments and individuals alike – to play in solving it, starting in our own backyards,” he said.
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/film/95446534/free-screenings-of-al-gores-an-inconvenient-sequel-sponsored-by-z-petrol-stations

    Hilary

    Reply
    • Robert McLachlan

       /  August 10, 2017

      Wow, thanks for that Hilary. Just booked my tickets at https://www.movietimes.nz/ais.

      Reply
    • Does Z plan to shift from petrol stations to EV charging stations? If they are concerned about climate change, then adding responses to their business plan is the most effective thing they can do. As for a petrol station company sponsoring Gore’s movie… This kind of thing happens all the time. Gore’s movie sends to right message. People are concerned about climate change. And economic actors that contribute to the problem often buy add space and promotions for these messages as a way of saying ‘it’s not really our fault.’ In truth, if they’re not working to change their profit motive and business plans away from carbon-emission-based activities, then buying a few tickets to a movie about climate change isn’t really helping at all.

      In any case, I doubt Z is really all that buddy-buddy with Gore. The economic interests benefitting from fossil fuels have lambasted and attacked Gore since jump. It’s more that Z can probably see this wave of public anger and outrage rising up over climate change related issues. The ticket purchase is a CYA moment. At least that’s what it looks like to me.

      Reply
  12. Greg

     /  August 9, 2017

    “A wise person would realize that if we crush it instead, it will be unable to change. That the fragmented bits would reactionarily cling to the old ways of doing things (fossil fuel burning). Wisdom involves finding the third way forward.” RS previous article
    Wise words.
    May civilization hold its center and enable us to evolve and find the third way. Capitalism has crushed its rivals so far but the externalities show, among many many other ways, as fires in Greenland’s tundra. Can environmentalists/ conservationists/climate hawks carry the new banner and show a way of life that fits the third way?

    Reply
    • I hope so. I think we’ll tend to need a decent sized tent to do it effectively. This involves including some capitalists and pushing them toward capitalizing wind, solar, and EVs. In other words, this sets the more harmful brand of capitalism up for a fall. But this doesn’t mean that we sacrifice our larger values along the way. More that we look at ways to use the market to our advantage. To pick the right kinds of winners and to short sell those who are causing the harm.

      Reply
  13. Andy_in_SD

     /  August 10, 2017

    One of the items this year that has caught my eye is how close we are to the 2012 trend line, but without any mega storms like the one that year. The heat waves are now the new normal, thus in a short 5 years we are to the point where an anomalous trend line begins to behave as being in the median range.

    Reply
    • Andy_in_SD

       /  August 10, 2017

      The same can be said about the spike in the Greenland sheet melt. What were significant outliers that elicited a raised eyebrow are now not even noticed. Again, this year being in the range of the new normal, these previous outliers are not note worthy. Heat domes and/or clear days is all now that is needed to cause these spikes.

      Reply
      • Whachamacallit

         /  August 11, 2017

        Andy: That Greenland Ice Sheet graph in particular made me realize how much my baseline shifted. I was looking at it earlier in the year, and my thought was “What’s going on? The ice sheet’s barely melting!”

        That’s probably a really bad sign.

        Reply
    • PIOMAS is right on the 2012 trend line. The ice is just very thin and spread out by consistent stormy weather near the pole generating a huge amount of ice dispersal.

      Also, we are seeing multiple 970 mb storms this year in the Arctic. This week, the Beaufort, the Laptev, the ESS, and regions on the Siberian side of Svalbard will all see 40 -55 mph winds and 10 foot seas. It might not just be one big storm. But it is getting awfully stormy up there.

      Reply
  14. Robert, Thanks for timely use of the headline – but more importantly for continuing to emphasize that there is far more changing in the former lands of ice than people care to realize. It has been your posts that have connected each year the growing fire season around the pole – at ever higher latitudes.

    I was very pleased to see that Earth Nullschool added particulates to their database this June. Now that too is a measurement that can be readily researched over time.

    Particulates Earth Nullschool

    Reply
  15. eleggua

     /  August 10, 2017

    ‘Early-season storms one indicator of active Atlantic hurricane season ahead
    Above-normal season likely with 14 to 19 named storms’
    August 9, 2017 NOAA

    http://www.noaa.gov/media-release/early-season-storms-one-indicator-of-active-atlantic-hurricane-season-ahead

    “Forecasters now say there is a 60-percent chance of an above-normal season (compared to the May prediction of 45 percent chance), with 14-19 named storms (increased from the May predicted range of 11-17) and 2-5 major hurricanes (increased from the May predicted range of 2-4). A prediction for 5-9 hurricanes remains unchanged from the intial May outlook. “

    Reply
  16. Thanks for a great post, Robert.
    Fires in peat are clearly not a good thing.
    The BC fires continue ablaze. Here is an Earth Nullschool snap with CO levels @ 13,701. I could hardly believe it.
    https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/chem/surface/level/overlay=cosc/orthographic=-121.09,51.81,3000/loc=-123.427,52.255

    Reply
    • Leland Palmer

       /  August 10, 2017

      Hi-
      Our Earth Nullschool links are set to current conditions, so they will constantly update, and might not show other people what we saw. Here’s a CO map from a few hours ago, with a specific date in the URL that will not change (use the back arrows)

      https://earth.nullschool.net/#2017/08/09/1800Z/chem/surface/level/overlay=cosc/orthographic=-121.09,51.81,3000/loc=-124.024,52.251

      Shows CO at 25,000 ppb. I think that’s not very healthy, although most people wouldn’t get CO poisoning, I think, unless they have respiratory problems.

      CO levels of twenty five ppm, in the open air, assuming that Earth NS / NASA is calibrated correctly at such high levels.

      Will we get to the point where cities in the midst of forests or peat like some cities in Canada are in danger of CO poisoning, from huge wildfires or peat fires? Peat fires would probably be worse- less oxygen from a smoldering fire means more CO, I guess.

      Reply
      • Leland,
        Thanks for the clarification. I didn’t know how to freeze the finding. But now @ 25 ppm! That’s just insane. Reading along Jeff Boutillier’s comment and will continue there.

        Reply
    • I live on Vancouver Isl . Port Alberni, the valley has been filled with smoke for over a week , close to two . Can see outlines of surrounding mountains , people are getting sore throats , the sun is half blotted out, looks fiery red through the smoke . Had our hand glider trip cancelled due to poor vision . Lived on the Isl. for 49 out of 49 years. This is a first from a fire that far away. Brutal to say the least .

      Reply
      • Jeff
        I really hate to hear that you there are suffering from the smoke. It seems Leland’s worry is not misplaced. Levels of CO per EarthNullschool now are 390 in Port Alberni, 212 in Raleigh, and 218 in Toronto. On Google Earth, Port Alberni appears to be in a valley oriented NW/NE, so actual levels on the ground might vary due to inversions and wind conditions.
        There is certainly suspicion that enough low level exposure to CO can be toxic. My nephew is on the Highway Patrol and it is very much of an issue for him.

        Reply
        • Leland Palmer

           /  August 11, 2017

          Yes, if you look up the health effects of carbon monoxide, it’s a real can of worms. This is low level transient CO exposure, though. Still, one of the health effects of CO is creating brain lesions in fetuses, although recorded cases of this are mostly due to high level acute CO poisoning.

          Still, if I was a pregnant woman (not possible for several reasons), I might go stay with relatives or in a motel outside the smoke plume for a few days until conditions return to normal. Not really sure what the risks are.

  17. Leland Palmer

     /  August 10, 2017

    Nasty Carbon monoxide map for Siberia on Earth Nullschool:
    https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/chem/surface/level/overlay=cosc/orthographic=105.88,63.90,1192/loc=-155.471,19.586

    Shows the magnitude and large number of fires in Siberia.

    Reply
    • Leland Palmer

       /  August 10, 2017

      But the Siberia CO2 map shows what shouldn’t surprise me but did:

      https://earth.nullschool.net/#2017/08/08/2230Z/chem/surface/level/overlay=co2sc/orthographic=105.27,64.85,1192/loc=125.984,52.423

      Siberia is still valiantly sucking down CO2 levels. Of course, this is the peak CO2 absorbing season for Siberia, late summer in the northern hemisphere. Thinking that Earth Nullschool might not be reporting faithfully, I checked the reading for Hawaii against the real results for Mauna Loa, (411 ppm Earth NS and 405 ppm actual Mauna Loa) and Earth Nullschool is a little high, if anything. So the low Siberia and China numbers that go as low as 370-380 ppm, probably during the late afternoon are apparently close to correct.

      If we could just reduce our emissions, Earth would save us, it looks like. We already knew that, of course. It’s heartbreaking to see it struggle valiantly against a rising tide of CO2.

      Reply
  18. Spike

     /  August 10, 2017

    The comment about tree seeding interested me – I’ve long favoured the massive reforestation of N England and Scotland for reasons of flood mitigation and to replace S England when the inevitable droughts and fires add to the losses caused by humans. I remembered this report from a few years ago showing nature is getting on with it in the tundra in Europe.

    https://www.livescience.com/20704-arctic-tundra-trees-shrubs.html

    Reply
  19. Hi Robert, and to all –
    In the video (link below) describing the PETM environment and his experiences studying the phenomenon, at 00:46:50, Dr. Scott Wing, from the Smithsonian Museum, mentions an interesting and important calculation: 200,000,000 million years’ worth of organic material has been burned in the form of fossil fuels in the last 160 years. I find that difficult to absorb…

    So, I divided it out to a per year and per day and I got the figure of 1,250,000 years’ worth is burned PER YEAR, and 3,424 years’ worth of organic material is burned as fossil fuels EACH DAY! Call it almost 3,500 years’ worth burned EVERY DAY… Lordy-lordy!

    So, I thought this would be a good fact(oid)/calculation, or any of the three, to include at some point in your articles to get across the idea of the vast quantities of fossil fuels used each day/year or since the Industrial Revolution began.
    ——————-
    Video: “The Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum 56 Mil yrs ago (PETM)” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbgMArpl8YE
    (The above 200,000,000 years burned in 160 years is mentioned at 00:46:40 to 00:47:15. The video in its entirety is very informative, also.)

    Regards…

    Reply
    • Thanks for this very useful illustration. It’s one reason why I keep beating the ‘stop fossil fuel burning’ drum beat. There is no way out unless we halt that particularly destructive activity. It really is just insane how harmful digging up all that old carbon and burning it is. It’s really the absolute worst thing we could be doing for our climate. We could cut down all the world’s forests and burn them up and it still wouldn’t be as bad as present fossil fuel burning. Of course, we need our forests. But we also need to be very urgent about cutting fossil fuel use rapidly.

      Reply
    • humanistruth

       /  August 12, 2017

      I reviewed Dr Wing’s lecture. His exact words were, “Somebody calculated recently under the graph here, the colored part, probably represents about 200,000,000 years worth of fossil fuel accumulation, that’s been burned in 160 years.” I have been unable to locate the original source to which he casually refers, to verify this. Please help me out. This ratio is surreal and must be vetted. It sounds like “The Great Sieve”.

      Reply
  20. bostonblorp

     /  August 10, 2017

    Apologies if this has already been covered.
    Investment behemoth Schroders ($500B under management) made some climate predictions looking at a complex of socio, political, technical and economic factors.

    Summary article with slightly alarmist headline:
    https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/433yg9/global-investment-firm-warns-78-degrees-of-global-warming-is-possible

    The dashboard itself: http://www.schroders.com/en/us/tp-us/economic-views/economic-views2/climate-progress-dashboard-forecasts-global-warming-of-more-than-4c/

    2.8C rise predicted this century even if existing pledges are met. BAU gets us 8C.

    I’d be curious to hear any opinions as to the credibility of their approach.

    Reply
    • Looks pretty solid. The range I’m looking at is 3 C if all present Paris commitments are enacted. 5-9 C is a solid BAU range. Present path is probably around 4 C, but will move depending on what nations do or fail to do. For example, China halting its renewable build out, Germany sticking to coal, the UK reneging on petrol vehicle bans, strengthening continued regulatory capture by fossil fuels, the US shifting back to coal and sabotaging Paris, sabotage of the EV revolution by industry and others, and sandbagging wind and solar would all put us solidly back on the BAU path.

      Reply
  21. E

     /  August 10, 2017

    Question, If I may, any studies on how increased cloudcover due to higher amounts of moisture in atmosphere and weaking of jet stream,( particularity noticable in the midwest U.S.) are masking effects of warming? Or other effects? Also the same goes for smoke I assume albeit to lesser degree. For instance I know that some food crops with not fruit sufficiently and may have reduced flowing. Thanks

    Reply
    • Cloud cover is complicated. The added water vapor is a positive feedback. The added lower level clouds during summer is a negative feedback. The added lower level clouds during fall, spring and winter is a positive feedback (in the Arctic). The added upper level clouds are a positive feedback.

      Smoke is also complicated. White smoke is a negative feedback. Cloud condensation nuclei forming white low level clouds is a negative feedback, Black and brown carbon particulate and aerosols produces by fires is a positive feedback.

      The net effect on the Arctic from clouds and fires is probably more warming overall once all the variables are added in.

      Reply
  22. E

     /  August 10, 2017

    Then also positive feedback at night, as evidenced in temp records over last decade of higher daily lows. Most warming signatures can be seen in overnight lows in the midwest.
    Overall I would say the positive feedback outweighs the negative 9/10.

    Wondering how it plays out in weather patterns though? And reginal climate shifts…
    Multiple multiplicities…

    Local and regional changes seem more acutely impactful and important to most Earth systems, being that most things are impacted most directly on a local level.

    Reply
    • 9/10 might be a bit too strong. But it’s probably positive overall for the Arctic.

      The larger weather pattern issue is energy transfer from the lower latitudes into the Arctic which has become very apparent during fall, spring and winter.

      Reply
  23. eleggua

     /  August 10, 2017

    ‘Planet marks new highs for heat, pollutants, sea level in 2016: report’
    August 10, 2017

    https://phys.org/news/2017-08-planet-highs-pollutants-sea.html

    “”The major indicators of climate change continued to reflect trends consistent with a warming planet,” it added, noting that several markers—such as land and ocean temperatures, sea level and greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere—broke records set just one year earlier.”
    “The entire 280-page report is available online.”

    Reply
  24. eleggua

     /  August 10, 2017

    2016: new climate change records

    Reply
  25. Suzanne

     /  August 11, 2017

    Front page at NYTimes..”North Korea Aside, Guam Faces Another Threat: Climate Change”

    Reply
  26. Hatrack

     /  August 14, 2017

    Thanks, Robert, again for a fascinating post. Cross-posted to Democratic Underground.

    Reply

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