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North Atlantic Warm Pool as a Signal of Gulf Stream Slowdown

Over the past few years we’ve seen very warm sea surface temperatures in the Gulf Stream off the U.S. East Coast. This heat traffic jam is an indicator of reduced energy transfer into the North Atlantic. In other words, there’s a strong observational signal that the Gulf Stream is slowing down.

(A much warmer than normal pool of water off the U.S. East Coast juxtaposed to an intense cool pool south of Greenland is a climate indicator of Gulf Stream slowdown.)

The development of a cool pool near Greenland, and associated with Greenland melt, is a further indicator of this trend. Recently, the near East Coast warm pool has enlarged and intensified. Meanwhile, the strength of the Greenland cool pool has also increased even as cold water currents issuing from Greenland appear to have sped up.

As noted above, Greenland melt is a major apparent driver. As glaciers speed up and calve more and more ice bergs, more fresh water enters the region around Greenland. This fresh water acts as a lens which cools off the ocean surface. It also serves as a cap, pushing down-welling water further south.

(Floods of ice bergs from melting Greenland glaciers like Jacobshavn have the potential to produce a climate and ocean circulation train wreck in the North Atlantic. Some indicators show that we are in the early stages of this disruptive process. Image source: NASA Worldview.)

The net effect is that the North Atlantic Ocean Conveyor acts as if a great wrench has been thrown into the works. The region around Greenland cools as areas further south heat up. A scenario that is also likely to generate more intense storms across the North Atlantic and over adjacent lands in Europe, North America and Greenland.

Recent scientific studies indicate that the North Atlantic circulation has slowed down by about 15 percent on decadal time scales. And it appears that this slow-down is showing up clearly in the North Atlantic sea surface temperature profile.

(A severe dipole anomaly for sea surface temperatures has developed in the North Atlantic. This is an observational indicator that Greenland melt is impacting North Atlantic Ocean circulation. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

The combined indicators point toward serious systemic changes taking place in the region of the North Atlantic. Changes that are having knock-on effects to local climates — like enhancing the deepness of troughs over Eastern North America and lending higher atmospheric potentials that spike storm intensity. Meanwhile, considerable ocean conveyor slow-down risks a serious degradation of global ocean health.

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63 Comments

  1. Thank you for this post. I’m curious to know what do you think this means for the Atlantic Hurricane Season this year? Do you think this warm spot will stay put or will it migrate?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • We are coming out of La Nina. That warm pool is not in the zone for typical tropical cyclone formation. However, near tropical temperatures have migrated northward with it. If it stays in place, it will enable hurricanes that do form to maintain higher intensity much further north. Which could spell bad news for locations along the U.S. East Coast.

      Worth noting that La Nina years tend to produce more hurricanes. We had a terrible year during 2017. Lets hope we don’t see a repeat.

      Added instability does also tend to provide more punch for storm development.

      The silver lining is that, so far, ITCZ sea surface temperatures have been a bit cooler than during 2017. Lets hope it stays that way.

      Liked by 3 people

      Reply
  2. Kevin

     /  May 21, 2018

    Anyone else starting to think that Guy McPherson is right?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Jim

       /  May 21, 2018

      In the sense that he predicts that humans will be extinct in 10 years? I certainly believe we need to address climate change with all due urgency, but no, I don’t think climate change is going to wipe the human species out by 2028. The rate of change is simply not that quick. I agree with Guy’s philosophy that “Nature Bats Last”, but I suspect his over-reaction to the rate of change probably leads to more ridicule than benefit. That’s just my take. I’m sure Robert will chime in with this view.
      ~ Jim

      Liked by 2 people

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      • rhymeswithgoalie

         /  May 22, 2018

        With my best gallows humor, I like to cheerily point out that we could lose 99.998% of the human population and still have a viable gene pool for the species. Oh joy.

        Liked by 3 people

        Reply
    • Guy McPherson would be far more credible if his timetable was correlated to once atmospheric CO2e from human emissions and feedbacks hits a range between 1,000 and 2,000 ppm and if he removed the word ‘inevitable’ from his vocabulary.

      Right now, he’s an idiot standing on an infinitesimal shred of evidence — the worst kind. Further, he distracts from helpful action. Which makes him as bad as a climate change denier.

      Liked by 4 people

      Reply
    • I think we should focus instead on the climate scientists like Rahmstorf, Francis, Mann, and Hansen (and others), who are being proven correct as we speak.

      Liked by 4 people

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    • bostonblorp

       /  May 23, 2018

      My problem with Guy isn’t his doomsday prognostications it’s the certitude with which he makes them and the overly precise timetable. There’s a lot of hand-waving that takes place between “melted Arctic” and “loss of human habitat.” In between are a smattering of references to methane releases, nuclear meltdowns, crop failures and so on.

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  3. DJ LX

     /  May 21, 2018

    I don’t entirely rule out McPherson’s scenario – there could be a huge release of methane that triggers catastrophic runaway climate change. At the same time, I’d be surprised if it plays out that quickly (i.e., 2026) . Because we may still be in a position that our collective actions can salvage a biosphere hospitable to complex life, we need to keep fighting.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    • I’ll bet Guy McPherson 10,000 dollars that the world will not see a catastrophic methane release in the range of 50 GT by 2026. Chance of that is practically nil. More likely that Earth will be struck by an asteroid in the same timeframe.

      We might see some increases in Arctic methane emission in the multi MT range by that time. But the forcing provided by 1.4 C approx warming by that time will not be enough to provoke a ‘doomsday release’ of the kind McPherson and others substancelessly preach about. What we learn by looking back into deep time is that if heat is the trigger, it tends to take quite a lot of heat. 4 C above present at least and more likely in the range of 6 C to 8C with a high uncertainty. What is certain is that present temperature ranges comparable to Eemian aren’t nearly enough. McPherson’s info is about as useful as that provided by chemtrail theorists and of approximately the same lack-quality.

      Liked by 3 people

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      • DJ

         /  May 22, 2018

        Well, it’s a good bet, first because you’re probably right, and second, because if he’s right, you most likely won’t have to pay 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        • I’d still have to pay. 50 GT would be quite nasty for the local North if it was an atmospheric release over a short span. However, for the globe, it means approx + 800 ppm CO2e over the course of one decade and a related temperature spike of approx 2 C. Though bad, we’d still be around to see it.

          Liked by 1 person

      • bostonblorp

         /  May 23, 2018

        I wish I shared your certainty. It seems highly unlikely to me that methane release would follow a bland linear model correlating directly to some formula governing the rate of heat transfer into the sediments.

        Dr. Shakhova, in an interview last year: “If there could be an outburst like a gigatonne release, I don’t know if I can exclude this scenario, and what would be the argument to exclude this scenario?”

        http://envisionation.co.uk/index.php/nick-breeze/203-subsea-permafrost-on-east-siberian-arctic-shelf-now-in-accelerated-decline

        The whole interview is worth a read.

        Let’s hope we start getting some data and answers soon – perhaps from the recent expedition on the Korean Araon reasearch vessel. Just to put it on people’s radar http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/business/2017/09/28/0504000000AEN20170928003900320.html

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        Reply
        • This is not a simple linearity vs exponential argument.

          No evidence presently exists in the global monitor that we are now building up to a major methane release in the Arctic. The present rate of methane add to the atmosphere is lower than in the 80s and 90s. And a portion of that add is coming from the tropics and from new fracking operations. IF such a major release were imminent, we would see a signal over the Arctic. We do not.

          A mere 50 million ton increase in annual methane emissions over the Arctic would show up as a bright spot in the monitors. And we would definitely see a serious signal if the Arctic were ramping up to a 50 GT release in the near term timeframe of one decade or so. There is feedback, but it is much smaller an indicator than we would see in an exponential ramp up.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks Robert for you reasoned reply. I’m 48. I’m guessing things will be bad, but your response and work lets me think that it’ll still be worth living past 100. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • So the thing to remember is that what’s far more dangerous and imminently harmful is the present rate of fossil fuel burning — which is pretty catastrophic this Century if it continues.

          Arctic methane feedback is one of many climate unknowns that could come back to haunt us. But in my opinion, the risk is much lower at this time for methane. If we cross 4 C, I think we may have some serious problems in this regard and for various other global carbon feedbacks in general. And 2 C doesn’t look great from the larger feedback angle (but this is less a methane hydrate release issue than it is a general carbon feedback issue). However, based on paleoclimate, it looks like the particular risk to methane stores (at least for larger releases) comes at the higher end of the temperature spectrum. And I find the doomsday predictions at 1.1 to 1.2 C initial warming to be highly implausible.

          In other words, we’re in trouble because => fossil fuel burning. And we should worry about that the most.

          Liked by 3 people

        • Methane madness

           /  May 27, 2018

          Ten years ago Shakovha and others observed the appearance of hundreds of kilometer wide geyser’s of Methane over the Chutchki sea floor, these would seem to be a reasonable signal of increasing instability.
          A further 2c rise I would expect to speed up the collapse of the Ross ice shelf (the last 2 years has seen it’s first rainfall) which then leads to the rapid collapse of the WAIS, which then leads to the release of a kilometers worth of Isostatic rebound and the associated tectonic activity, my guess being megavolcano along the Transantarctic mountain range, similar to Siberian traps event

          Like

  4. rhymeswithgoalie

     /  May 21, 2018

    “As glaciers like Svalbard speed up….”
    Er, Svalbard’s an Arctic island with a bunch of glaciers, not a glacier itself.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  5. wili

     /  May 22, 2018

    Plutocrats now worth 9.2 trillion:

    “surged by 24 percent to a record level of $9.2 trillion,” in 2017.

    ” the richest 10 billionaires own a combined $663 billion”

    “dramatic improvement in extreme wealth creation” in the United States due to “buoyant equity markets and robust corporate earnings.”

    “The United States is home to the most billionaires of any country in the world and accounts for 34 percent of billionaire wealth worldwide. New York maintained its position as the top billionaire city, home to 103 billionaires.”

    “In 2017, Wealth-X published a report on the world’s “ultra high net worth” population, which includes individuals whose net worth is over $30 million. According to this report, the world’s “ultra wealthy”—some 250,000 people worldwide—owned a combined $25 trillion, including $9.6 trillion in liquid cash alone. ”

    For just one fifth of the total wealth of the 10 richest people in the world, the following social needs could be immediately addressed:

    * The provision of housing for all 634,000 homeless people in the US: $20 billion

    * The provision of food to 862 million malnourished people worldwide: $30 billion

    * Reduction by half of the total number of people without access to clean water: $11 billion

    * Education for every child who doesn’t receive one: $26 billion

    * Free maternal and prenatal care for every mother in the developing world: $13 billion

    * Treatment and vaccination to prevent 4 million malaria deaths: $6 billion

    * Replacement of the toxic water infrastructure of Flint, Michigan with a safe and clean system: $1.5 billion

    * Immediate $20,000 bonuses to all 3.1 million teachers in the US: $62 billion

    Total cost: $169.5 billion.

    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/05/21/pers-m21.html

    Thanks to sidd at asif for this.

    In a world with this kind of extreme inequality in wealth = power, it is looking less and less likely to me that we will make rational global decisions to secure a survivable (for the 99.99%) future.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    • This comparison shows how much we sacrifice for the expansion of the super rich. Some will use their money charitably. But many others, like the Kochs, Murdochs, Trumps and Mercers, will use it in a corrupt manner that inflicts harm on the rest of us.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  6. Robert,
    Appreciate the post and nice video. That was very fast. Frightens me. Noted Earth Nullschool in the last couple of days, SSTA in the Caspian (+ 6.6C), Black Sea (+6.1C) and eastern Mediterranean (4.1C). I don’t think the little fishes in the Black Sea are all going to make it out through the Bosporus.

    Liked by 3 people

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  7. Abel Adamski

     /  May 22, 2018

    Whilst the story is on the surface about the Dark Underbelly of some humans and political expediency, it highlights the future risk as the globe warms. Wet Bulb 35C or close, a young European that had not had time to acclimatize, even then acclimatization can only be within a limited biological range
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/may/21/death-in-the-sun-australias-88-day-law-leaves-backpackers-exploited-and-exposed

    Martin Hand knew something was wrong as he watched a fellow backpacker stagger down the road in the searing heat of a Queensland summer.

    Hand, a British traveller, had been picking pumpkins on a farm near Ayr, a small country town 10km (6 miles) from the coast, along with other young backpackers including a 27-year-old Belgian, Olivier “Max” Caramin.

    The day was hot – the temperature had reached 35C – and the field where they were working was in a bowl; very humid with no breeze. Nor was there any shade on the trailer that was used to take the boxes of picked pumpkins to the shed.

    “It was really hard to cool down,” Hand says. “We told [Max] to get into the shade of the trailer, but then I seen Max run past me. His complexion was completely different to when I last saw him, his eyes were crosseyed and he was running like newborn deer, with his arms and legs all wobbling.

    “I said what the fuck’s going on? I knew it was serious.”

    Caramin got 50 to 80 metres up the road before he collapsed. His breathing was laboured. His colleagues did everything they could think of to cool him down while they waited for the ambulance.

    “It was clear,” says Hand, “that Max was in a very bad way.”

    Hand recalls that Caramin had already said he could not go on picking, despite earning the ire of the farmer earlier in the day for not working fast enough. The crew had also told the farmer they wanted to stop picking at seven trailers but, according to Hand, the farmer insisted they pick an eighth – their normal quota.

    Caramin died in Townsville hospital hours after collapsing on that day last November. The coroner is awaiting a final report from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland before deciding whether the matter should proceed to inquest.

    The Belgian had been on the farm for just three days, undertaking farm work required by the Australian government if young foreigners wish to extend their working holiday visa by a year.

    Designed to provide seasonal workers for farmers, the 88-day rule requires that backpackers spend their time in regional areas in specific jobs such as fruit picking and packing, trimming vines, working in tree farming, or working in mining or construction.

    Liked by 3 people

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  8. Jim

     /  May 22, 2018

    This article reminded me of the sea level effects of a slowing AMOC – mainly that the northeast US will see faster than average sea level changes as that extra water “stalls” off the east coast. As Bob Henson pointed out a couple of months ago, another 1.2″ of sea level rise combined with an unfortunately timed Nor’easter has the potential to flood 6% of Boston. At the present rate of SLR we could witness that scenario within a decade. Boston city officials concede that will lead to billions of dollars of property damage.

    So we have more thermal energy off the east coast affecting storm intensity and possibly frequency, more rapid US East Coast SLR due to a slowing of the AMOC, changes to ocean/fishery health, and altered weather in Europe. Force multipliers of the negative kind.

    https://www.sierraclub.org/sites/www.sierraclub.org/files/sce/massachusetts-chapter/2018/Boston%20Sea%20Level%20Rise%20and%20Gulf%20Stream.pdf

    Liked by 2 people

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    • rhymeswithgoalie

       /  May 22, 2018

      A note to inlanders: Coastal (brackish or salt water) flooding does significantly more damage than river or rain-bomb floods. Metal fittings and electrical systems become damaged or effectively aged by salt water. (NY subways that flooded during Sandy have been having frequent failures from salt-corroded electrical systems.)

      Liked by 3 people

      Reply
    • The U.S. East Coast is one of the key regions of concern for climate change in that increased storm potential and sea level rise are a rather dangerous combo. The effect of Greenland melt may blunt some of the direct warming for this zone in the range of 1.5 to 2.5 C. However, the other impacts look quite serious.

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  9. That “cold blob” in the North Atlantic is already showing a negative impact on the weather here in Ireland.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    • Baker

       /  May 22, 2018

      Can we already link the slowdown to current weather patterns?
      Nevertheless, the warm pool and dipole clearly look as something that could only be an error (but it isn’t), high anomalies spanning areas of a few times the state of California.. Even more staggering and disturbing than in 2015 to 2017.

      Wet, cloudy, windy in Ireland and abnormally warm / hot weather in continental Europe in April and May is also a result of a dipole structure (showing in geopotential heights) similar to the pattern in the graphic.
      Whole Europe experienced the hottest April on record (e.g. in Germany/Austria since at least the 18th century)..

      The Scandinavian blocking high led to cold temperatures in February and March, now it’s the opposite because of the season – similar to what you, Robert, discussed in your last Gulf Stream post.
      Big question: Will it stay like that for the whole summer? – I’d guess the negative anomaly shifts east in the course of the summer..
      There are very high SST anomalies in the Baltic Sea, Black/Caspian Sea to the Eastern Mediterranean… Reminds me a bit of 2010: https://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/2010/sst2003-2010.png.

      But seriously, how high (I mean: low) are the odds for experiencing a record warm April followed by a record hot May by itself (and even more as rhetorical question) AND that it isn’t caused by human-forced global warming?? Once in the whole lifetime of Earth (4.6 billion years)? The “anti”-arguments continue to lose their never-genuine credibility…

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  10. Abel Adamski

     /  May 22, 2018

    A slight digression back to Tesla, an interesting article covering an area that is quite anti EV’s – Car Dealers. They actually work hard to discourage EV Sales , also mechanics and workshops also do all they can to bad mouth EV’s.
    In both cases it is because the servicing and maintenance costs of EV’s is negligible and that is where their income come from.
    The comments are worth a read
    https://reneweconomy.com.au/car-dealers-dont-want-sell-electric-vehicles-35648/

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    • So for those of us who follow EVs, this has been a subject of discussion for some time. Dealers appear to be highly prejudiced against EVs in a number of regions. In the U.S., it started with the Volt and has continued on to today.

      This is an institutional bias that seems to pervade much of the traditional auto industry. One recent commenter on a clean energy blog equivocated it to horse sellers and tackle and harness shops selling automobiles. There’s a bit of a disconnect because EVs really are quite different despite looking the same.

      It’s also one reason why Tesla supporters tend to be suspicious when OEMs claim that they’ll build a large number of EVs. Due to institutional bias and actions like attacking CAFE standards, they already have a strike against them in the clean energy community. What we want is a genuine push to support EVs, not the development of token models that are not promoted in a systemic and honest way.

      For clean energy, Tesla is the total package. But I’m somewhat heartened to see automakers like BMW putting their feet into clean energy aspects like batteries while, apparently, making an honest effort to increase sales of existing EVs. Major markets like California, parts of Europe, China and India are providing large EV pushes in the coming years. And, I think, the subsidies that are out there have knock on benefits to society that stretch from health to climate and reducing air and water pollution. If societies are smart, they will continue to incentivize them — replacing fossil fuel subsidies with EV incentives and the like.

      Liked by 1 person

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      • Abel Adamski

         /  May 22, 2018

        Just for the two cents worth.
        The Car that Prince Harry left the wedding in – that 50 year old E Type Jag is a factory converted EV. (Note Jag is now a Tata Company (Indian)).
        That Jaguar conversion kit can be retrofitted to most old Jags and variants can be retrofitted to classic cars or even much loved modern vehicles once petrol becomes ridiculous and less readily available. Love your Mustang – convert it

        Liked by 2 people

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  11. Abel Adamski

     /  May 22, 2018

    Revisiting South Australia – on track to 75% RE regardless of the LNP Government.
    This is how the Electricity Market and incumbent Energy company is planning ahead
    https://reneweconomy.com.au/cheap-condensers-to-displace-gas-as-renewable-energy-back-up-29544/
    Cheap condensers to displace gas as renewable energy back-up
    South Australia transmission company ElectraNet says it has found a cheaper solution that using the state’s gas plants to provide system strength to the local grid, which is now dominated by wind and solar.

    ElectraNet says it proposes to install three “synchronous condensers” in key areas of the state – at a cost of around $80 million – to ensure that gas-fired generators will no longer need to be switched on just to ensure the grid remains stable.
    At the instigation of AEMO, EectraNet conducted a tender of gas generators for the provision of system strength, but the offers were too expensive.
    The Tesla big battery near the Hornsdale wind farm has already changed the way operators and owners are thinking about the management of the grid, now that they have at hand technology which is faster and more accurate than conventional plant, and is slashing prices.
    Now, ElectaNet has found that using synchronous generators is cheaper than contracting with existing generators which currently also provide inertia and system strength essentially for free.
    “It suggests that the cost of providing these services is quite manageable, and cheaper compared to the current practice of issuing directions to gas generators in South Australia,” says Dylan McConnell, from the Climate and Energy College in Melbourne.

    The use of synchronous condensers and its ability to reduce the need to rely on conventional generation is an important consideration as South Australia heads towards a market share of 75 per cent wind and solar by 2025.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Australia is a good case for high renewable penetration in a large electrical grid. Despite much kicking and screaming by coal and gas interests, it’s happening. And it’s happening without much of a hitch. The Tesla plant that was used to balance South Australia’s grid represented just 3 percent of production capacity there. Just goes to show that high penetration grids don’t need too much. Although, as we get close to 100 percent renewables, a higher level of storage and rapid response will be needed. Thankfully, that option is arriving and is becoming less expensive over time.

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  12. Abel Adamski

     /  May 22, 2018

    Desperately trying to keep FF Generators relevant
    https://qz.com/1283166/drax-power-station-will-build-a-negative-emissions-plant/
    The Drax power station, Britain’s largest CO2 emitter, is launching a trial of “negative emissions” technology.

    Drax has six power-generating units. Until 2013, they all burned coal but three of them have since been converted to burn wood. The switch-up came after the UK government’s big crackdown on coal power, after the 2008 Climate Change Act legally committed the country to steeply reduce its emissions.

    Burning wood also produces carbon dioxide, but, according to policy set by the European Union, of which the UK remains a part of still, the process is considered carbon neutral. The reasoning is that the carbon dioxide produced in burning wood is the same amount that was captured when the tree was growing. So, in principle, if the wood is sourced from a forest that is grown sustainably—replacing each tree that gets chopped down to be burned—then the total emissions from the process will be zero.
    But scientists are still debating the details. As Quartz previously explained:
    The carbon dioxide released by burning trees, some experts say, is not recaptured back by new trees for many years. In that period, the greenhouse gases released will have contributed to heating up the planet—a process that cannot be negated by the new trees. In addition, felling a tree tends to release carbon that’s been trapped by the soil surrounding the plant.
    Regardless of the debate on wood’s carbon neutrality, the new technology Drax is trialing could be a big win for the environment. Simply put, negative-emissions technology is a way to pull carbon dioxide from the air—that is, reducing the amount of carbon dioxide that already exists and thus negating some of its impact on warming the planet.

    “But a lot will be driven by politics, rather than technology,” Rayner says. The UK government is looking to restart its efforts to build carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology in the country. That Drax is committing some money towards the technology already makes it more likely to capture some of the subsidies that might become available in the near future. And, as it did when it converted its coal units to burn wood, Drax will certainly need government money to scale up carbon-capture technology, which can cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build.

    If Drax succeeds, it would have built Europe’s first BECCS plant. But the title of the first “negative-emissions plant” belongs to a smaller project in Iceland. There a startup called Climeworks is capturing carbon dioxide directly from the air, but at present it only puts away about 50 metric tons in a year—about the same as the emissions of US household or 10 Indian households.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • We’ll probably want to have some BECCS if we can manage to make it effective. But we need to be careful as these plants pose a deforestation risk. It’s unlikely that we could safely maintain more than 1 in 10 as BECCS from wood burning. Probably even less. Of course these plants are pretty expensive, haven’t demonstrated much learning curve, and will need to be subsidized.

      A small plant that captures the amount of carbon emitted by one househould (even as a pilot) isn’t really impressive. We’ll have to advance beyond that if we’re going have much impact.

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  13. Andy_in_SD

     /  May 22, 2018

    Humans Are Just 0.01% of Life on Earth, But We Still Annihilated The Rest of It

    https://www.sciencealert.com/humans-are-just-0-01-of-life-earth-but-we-annihilated-rest-biomass-animals-mammals-plants

    Liked by 1 person

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  14. Thank you Robert for all your work.

    Liked by 2 people

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  15. Abel Adamski

     /  May 22, 2018

    One to think about, if only publications would facilitate it, or even Google News Aggregator
    Sorry no link, from a subscription copyrighted service

    Erik Hagerman might be your hero.
    He’s 53 and lives on a pig farm in rural Ohio.
    Alone.
    But that’s not what makes him special. Immediately after the 2016 presidential election, Mr. Hagerman turned off all access to current events.

    Other than following the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team (which he watches on mute), his only touch with daily life outside of his immediate surroundings is reading weather reports and following real estate listings.

    The New York Times called Mr. Hagerman the most ignorant man in America. And he likes it that way.

    Hagerman used to follow the news. As a corporate leader at Nike, he was just as plugged in as the next guy. But he chose to check out of corporate life a while back to focus on art, and then he checked out altogether. The fact that, because of his wealth, he got to choose this course, makes him controversial.

    I don’t agree with him. Hiding from current events means avoiding information, thoughts, and conversations that can shape your views as a citizen.

    But I totally get why he wants to block out the world!

    I avoid President Trump’s tweets, as well as the rejoinders and analysis from newscasters. I’m much more interested in actions and policies.

    I skim most of the stories in the papers, skipping over the veiled editorialising that passes for news. Mr. Hagerman chose to check out because he was distraught over Trump’s election. I want to check out because I’m tired of reporters — in print and on the air — foisting their opinions on me.

    Maybe we should take a different tack.

    As consumers, we have the power to sway opinions. We rank restaurants on Yelp!, service providers on Google Reviews, and we get hounded by everyone from auto dealers to doctors to complete surveys.

    We should develop an app with a ranking system for news stories. Not a simple up/down, or one through five, but a real ranking system.

    We could evaluate stories in real time on three positive metrics — new information, relevance to topic, and probability that the information will add to our understanding — on a scale from one (not very useful or new) to nine (totally awesome information). Then we could add a fourth category, political slant, where total bias gets you a zero and even-handed or no bias gets a nine.

    As I read news stories online, I could simply add my ranking afterward. Perhaps the news is old (1), but the topic is on point (8) and adds a dimension to the conversation (8), and yet the writing is heavily tilted politically (1). The score would be 1881.

    You might be thinking this leads to bias by the reader, but we can handle that. If the readers are a reflection of the nation, then normalising the results should eliminate bias. The reported score would be the median, not the average.

    Then we could take it a step farther, posting each number in a colour to reflect dispersion (how far the answers strayed from the median). We could use green for tightly clustered results, showing most people agree, and then rising red as answers disperse from the median, showing dissension.

    After just a few hundred readers, each story should have a ranking that accurately tells the rest of us if the news piece is worth our time, and what to watch out for, along with a mixture of colour to let us know how much readers agree on the review.

    New information is big and quick, so a high first number should grab our attention. If the second and third numbers are high, then we can take our time and circle back, giving the article more thought. If the last number is low, then we know to read with a sceptical eye.

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  16. wili

     /  May 22, 2018

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/22/death-toll-climbs-in-karachi-heatwave

    “at least 65 people have died in Pakistani city as temperatures exceed 40C “

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  17. wili

     /  May 22, 2018

    GRACE-FO has been delivered safely to orbit. It will be good to be getting the gravity data again. Pity it will take 6 months or so to get everything up and running and calibrated.

    The GRACE data has been a huge tool for understanding climate change and sea level rise.

    confirmation of success:

    (Thanks to ghoti at asif for this)

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  18. Erik Frederiksen

     /  May 22, 2018

    James Hansen’s 2016 paper Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise and Superstorms caught some flak at the time, but his projections for faster sea level rise than consensus estimates, and his idea that deep ocean ventilation shutdown is more sensitive to freshwater input from the ice sheets than the models indicated seem to be very much supported by more recent studies.

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  19. wili

     /  May 23, 2018

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  20. wili

     /  May 23, 2018

    In other news, the US is running out of bombs!

    ” … the industrial base of the munitions sector is particularly strained …”

    “Some suppliers have dropped out entirely …Other key suppliers are foreign-owned …”

    ” … as the U.S. is expending munitions at a rapid rate … ”

    “As to diversity in the industrial base, well ― there isn’t any, with the authors concluding that Raytheon and Lockheed Martin account for about 97 percent of the DoD’s munitions and missile procurement funding.”

    https://www.defensenews.com/pentagon/2018/05/22/the-us-is-running-out-of-bombs-and-it-may-soon-struggle-to-make-more/

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  21. Andy_in_SD

     /  May 23, 2018

    Environment Agency warns of serious water deficits for England
    ================================================

    England is facing significant water supply shortages by 2050 unless rapid action is taken to reduce water use and wastage, the Environment Agency has warned.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-44215418

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  22. Andy_in_SD

     /  May 23, 2018

    How to waste an insane amount of energy and create absolutely nothing of true value or use whatsoever.

    Bitcoin is consuming as much energy as the country of Ireland.

    https://theoutline.com/post/4561/bitcoin-is-consuming-as-much-energy-as-the-country-of-ireland?zd=1&zi=33azy3al

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    • Abel Adamski

       /  May 23, 2018

      Blockchain technology is being used in commercial financial transactions now (as separate from bitcoin)- simplified and not as processing intensive – going mainstream and there is talk of the IMF using a blockchain version of Special Drawing Rights to create a Global Currency to become the default currency replacing the Petro Dollar.
      With blockchain tech , every transaction is recorded in the chain, and the chain can include regulatory verifications etc, thus making a house purchase for example a single step. Overseas transactions, once again a single step in minutes or an hour or so instead of several days, unlike your Dollar transactions – you can see the attraction for industry, banking and especially Governments. I believe in Sweden now even cafe’s may not accept cash as there are no banks nearby to process it, transactions are more and more electronic. Without the mark of the beast you will not be able to buy or sell. Wasn’t that written somewhere.

      The Australian Stock exchange is going to a block chain settlement system, all the regulatories , verification’s, buyer seller and financial details are built automatically into the chain and the transaction and settlement occurs in minutes instead of 2 days.

      Bitcoin is just what got the ball rolling, it is actually a currency and for the Markets and Government etc becoming irrelevant, however the anarchists and speculators will ride it for ever. However there are only a fixed total number of bitcoin
      However it is Ether and PowerLedger etc that are the commercial/industrial workhorses, that is what they were designed for.
      Bitcoin may die but the blockchain and AI are here to stay.
      Just consider all the ramifications and risks, the AI scares the bejeezus out of me. Already AI machines are operating at levels and doing things humans cannot understand, so where to go – whatever suits the AI – humanity and the planet don’t matter as long as the machines have their energy source and raw material availability

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  23. More jazz…

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  24. kassy

     /  May 23, 2018

    Parts Of Europe Could Become Windier In A 1.5˚C World

    A new study has concluded that the United Kingdom and large swathes of northern Europe could become windier if global temperature levels rise to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels, resulting in far-reaching implications for wind energy generation.

    The researchers combined their HAAPI data with 282 onshore wind turbines collected over 11 years, and found that a northward shift in the Atlantic jet stream would lead to a significant increase in surface winds over the UK and northern Europe, but be accompanied by a parallel reduction over Southern Europe. For the UK, the British Antarctic Survey team concluded that there could be a 10% increase in UK onshore wind energy generation — the equivalent of powering an extra 700,000 homes each year based on current installed onshore wind capacity.

    Across the North Sea into northern Europe, the researchers’ results pointed to an increase in wind over large areas of Germany, Poland, and Lithuania, making these locations more viable for onshore wind development.

    “In future, nine months of the year could see UK wind turbines generating electricity at levels currently only seen in winter,” said lead author and climate modeller Dr Scott Hosking at the British Antarctic Survey. “Future summers could see the largest increase in wind generation. Therefore, wind could provide a greater proportion of the UK’s energy mix than has been previously assumed.”

    Interestingly, there will also be seasonal variations in the changes, according to the researchers. For example, in the UK, wind energy production during spring and autumn in a 1.5˚C world would result in wind energy becoming as productive as it is currently during the peak of winter, while summer winds will increase to represent levels currently seen in spring and autumn.

    https://cleantechnica.com/2018/05/22/parts-of-europe-could-become-windier-in-a-1-5%CB%9Ac-world/

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  25. Robert, I like your new format with the short video!

    While I agree with you, Robert, on the use of hyperbole and certitude on the part of Guy McPherson, and how that reduces his credibility, I think his message is that we are in times of exponential (or abrupt) climate change, that there may be unanticipated effects, and those effects may be much worse than in scenarios previously envisioned. Indeed the history of climate change science stands for this proposition in that what actually happens is usually worse than was previously anticipated. Look at the recent developments in Antarctica’s ice, look at the changes in our knowledge about the jet stream, look at all of the recent changes in anticipated sea level rise. Of course, timing of additional new and possibly abrupt changes is a bit of a casino. Also Guy’s perspective as a conservation biologist is important. Changes are happening frequently enough that two unexpected events could occur simultaneously causing untold havoc. The view that we are in uncharted territory needs to remain to challenge the current linear orthodoxy if for no other reason to keep everyone on their toes.

    I agree a methane outburst is not likely to happen unless there is greater temp rise, at least that’s the way it looks going by paleoclimatology. Still the speed of the current warming and the change in atmospheric chemistry may not have existed in Earth’s previous history. After all we are releasing millions of years of sequestered carbon over a period of just a few hundred years. However if the methane is just barely stable, does not the speed of change itself come into play (especially at the margin, and how big is that margin anyway)? Even though the historical methane burps happened at higher temps, the stability of the last 11000 years might mean that the stability of the methane is equilibrated to current conditions.

    Personally, I think the main short-term major disaster possibility is in the field of crop failures. I think it is unlikely that the entire world would have a crop failure at once, but as a world we are on the margin with respect to having enough food for 7.6 billion people, and it would not take much to create significantly more instability. Look at Arab Spring.

    Because my point of view is in between yours and McPherson’s, I think we have major ethical problems facing us as we try to balance the rights and needs of individuals, the requirements for civilized or even enduring society, and the survival of the human species. Many folks’ visions of dealing with climate change and dealing with various inequities at the same time may turn out to be a luxury we can’t afford if the survival of the species is in question (whether it be in 10, 100 or 200 years). But this direction of inquiry has many possible dark routes. We need to do some thinking about this in advance. Currently I do not think our moral, ethical tools are up to the task.

    McPherson’s voice is another important voice (despite the faults you perceive he has) because the path we are now traveling is not well lit, doesn’t have clear signs, isn’t indicated well on the maps and may have serious potholes right around the next corner.

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  26. Robert in New Orleans

     /  May 23, 2018

    The Russian Navy just released video of a ripple launch of SLBMs from a submerged ballistic missile submarine. Normally I would not consider this to be a big deal, but I noticed that launch point in the White Sea is notable for what is not in the picture…sea ice of any kind. As the sea ice continues to melt the Russians are losing the ability to hide their Boomers under the sea ice for at least part of the year. And if the Russians think that is bad, wait until the US Navy sends a full carrier battle group into the Arctic Ocean and conducts training exercises off of the northern coast of Russia.

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    • Abel Adamski

       /  May 24, 2018

      Following on from the item Wili posted above and following the links, the US Military/Industrial complex has more issues than just munitions materials, especially going forward, worth following and reading other articles on that site.
      https://www.defensenews.com/opinion/2018/05/02/americas-critical-minerals-problem-has-gone-from-bad-to-worse/
      America’s critical minerals problem has gone from bad to worse
      China is America’s “sole source for rare earth minerals.”
      According to the United States Geological Survey, the United States relies on Chinese imports for at least 20 minerals and has little or no capacity to mine, refine, and process its own minerals from start to finish. As a recent executive order on critical minerals makes clear, this “strategic vulnerability” poses a significant national security risk.

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      • Abel Adamski

         /  May 24, 2018

        One that impacts the US Industrial base, due to Conservative education programs and funding, the scions of the Wealthy do not do engineering of any flavor degrees or physics degrees, they do finance and management and law degrees.
        The US Industrial advantage was built over decades of cheap tertiary education in the 50’s 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s that provided the skill base. That was then , now it is a different story.
        https://www.defensenews.com/pentagon/2018/05/22/americas-industrial-base-is-at-risk-and-the-military-may-feel-the-consequences/
        However, long-term trends “continue to threaten the health of the industrial base, limit innovation, and reduce U.S. competitiveness in the global markets,” the report states.

        The greatest challenge that could harm domestic defense capabilities is the demographics of the workforce. Only 39 percent of the current workforce is under the age of 45. And while jobs in the aerospace and defense sectors are seen positively by the majority of young professionals, only 1.5 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds in the U.S. have a science degree.

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      • Abel Adamski

         /  May 24, 2018

        The Republican Hawks and budget scrooges whilst wasting money on Porkbarrelling for their donors benefit.
        https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2017/02/06/grounded-nearly-two-thirds-of-us-navys-strike-fighters-cant-fly/
        WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy’s F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet strike fighters are the tip of the spear, embodying most of the fierce striking power of the aircraft carrier strike group. But nearly two-thirds of the fleet’s strike fighters can’t fly — grounded because they’re either undergoing maintenance or simply waiting for parts or their turn in line on the aviation depot backlog.
        Overall, more than half the Navy’s aircraft are grounded, most because there isn’t enough money to fix them.
        Additionally, there isn’t enough money to fix the fleet’s ships, and the backlog of ships needing work continues to grow. Overhauls — “availabilities” in Navy parlance — are being canceled or deferred, and when ships do come in they need longer to refit. Every carrier overall for at least three years has run long, and some submarines are out of service for prolonged periods, as much as four years or more. One submarine, the Boise, has lost its diving certification and can’t operate pending shipyard work.

        Even if the budget top line is increased, Navy leaders say, the immediate need is for maintenance money, not new ship construction. A supplemental Navy list of unfunded requirements for 2017 that was sent to Congress in early January and is still being revised made it clear that maintenance needs are paramount.

        “Our priorities are unambiguously focused on readiness — those things required to get planes in the air, ships and subs at sea, sailors trained and ready,” a Navy official declared. “No new starts.”

        The dire situation of naval aviation is sobering. According to the Navy, 53 percent of all Navy aircraft can’t fly — about 1,700 combat aircraft, patrol, and transport planes and helicopters. Not all are due to budget problems — at any given time, about one-fourth to one-third of aircraft are out of service for regular maintenance. But the 53 percent figure represents about twice the historic norm.

        The strike fighter situation is even more acute and more remarkable since the aircraft are vitally important to projecting the fleet’s combat power. Sixty-two percent of F/A-18s are out of service; 27 percent in major depot work; and 35 percent simply awaiting maintenance or parts, the Navy said.

        With training and flying hour funds cut, the Navy’s aircrews are struggling to maintain even minimum flying requirements, the senior Navy source said. Retention is becoming a problem, too. In 2013, 17 percent of flying officers declined department head tours after being selected. The percentage grew to 29 percent in 2016.

        All at a time when the US is presenting a more aggressive and warlike front

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  27. Abel Adamski

     /  May 24, 2018

    https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/rice-carbon-dioxide-emissions-less-nutritious-stunt-growth-children-health-a8365556.html
    Carbon dioxide pollution is making rice less nutritious and could stunt growth in millions of children, finds study

    Experiments on staple crop for two billion people reveal ‘underappreciated risk of burning of fossil fuels and deforestation’
    When grown under the higher carbon dioxide conditions expected in the second half of this century – between 568 and 590 ppm – scientists found that levels of protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins all took a nosedive.
    Although carbon dioxide is one of the raw materials plants use to power themselves via photosynthesis, it seems that too much of it is not necessarily a good thing.
    This study presented the first evidence that B vitamin levels decrease under these conditions. The biggest decline – of more than 30 per cent – was seen in vitamin B9 or folate, which is often taken as a supplement by pregnant women to reduce the risk of birth defects.
    Scientists also recorded an average reduction of around 10 per cent in protein and iron, and 5 per cent in zinc.
    “Rice is not just a major source of calories, but also proteins and vitamins for many people in developing countries and for poorer communities within developed countries,” said Professor Kazuhiko Kobayashi of the University of Tokyo.

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