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The Indian Hot Season Began Two Months Early This Year — And the Worst is Yet to Come

Simulations indicate an all-round warming, associated with increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, over the Indian subcontinent… — Climate Change and India

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In India, it was still February. The hot season was supposed to begin two months later in April. But temperatures in some coastal provinces had already rocketed to above 100 degrees F (38 C).

Late February temperatures for Konkan hit as high as 104 F (40 C) even as Mumbai and Ratnagiri hit 100 F (38 C).

According to Indian meteorological sources, there are no weather records of temperatures hitting such high marks so fast at any time in at least the past 20 years. Temperatures in late February and March for this region hit a range that is more typical of the height of the hot season from April to May. And when one considers the fact that India has experienced extreme heat and drought for at least the past two years running, the present context is notably disturbing.

(For India, a heatwave that came two months early has already reached an extreme intensity. Yesterday, most of the country saw temperatures above 104 F [40 C] with some locations hitting as high as 113 F [45 C]. Over the coming weeks, this heat is likely to become even more intense. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

If temperatures started out hot, they’ve only grown hotter. By late March, Nagpur had hit as high as 109 F (43 C ) on Tuesday of last week — its thirteenth straight day of highs above 104 F (40 C). Last week New Dehli saw the end of an 8 day streak of 100 F (38 C) + readings. And places like Bhira were already imposing noon curfews to protect residents from the heat. By April 5, most of the country was experiencing above 100 F (38 C) readings (see above graphic).

Worst Still To Come

Despite precautions to prevent death and injury that began as early as March 8, heat mortality is already a problem. As of March 30th, two deaths had already been reported. And though the mortality is now no-where near the tragedies of past years as 2,000 souls were lost to heat during 2015 and 700 were lost during 2016, the early appearance of killing heat in 2017 does not bode well.

India Heatwave

(Predicted temperature anomalies for April through June of 2017 shows that a severe heatwave is on the way. Image source: Hindustan Times.)

According to meteorological reports, this early heat has set the stage for very extreme conditions from June through April:

The India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) seasonal forecast shows the worst is yet to come, as vast swathes of the country are set to reel under scorching heat from April to June before the monsoon arrives…The forecast is a reflection of the searing heat in most parts of India, including the national capital, since March. New Delhi endured its hottest March in seven years this season, and the mercury is refusing to relent.

As with recent years, and with El Nino emerging in the Equatorial Pacific, there is also now some risk that the Indian Monsoon will again be delayed. So we could end up with a situation where the hot season starts early, becomes very intense in April-June, and ends late.

Conditions in Context

With the Earth now 1.1 to 1.2 C warmer than 1880s values, the climate of India has already changed. Glaciers and snowpacks in the Himalayas are less extensive. Heatwaves and droughts are more intense. And the summer monsoon is often delayed.

(Present extreme heat, drought, and lengthening of the hot season is consistent with the expected impacts of human forced climate change to India. The above graphic lists additional expected impacts for the state. Image source: Climate Change and India.)

Almost every year now, there is news of crippling heat and drought. By late April of 2016, the combination of extreme heat and drought generated severe water stress for 330 million people. This year, the progression of extreme heat and drought has occurred far earlier than normal. And these severe conditions related to human-forced climate change set a very hot and grim stage for India during 2017. As a result, the risk of heat mortality, water stress, crop damage and other heatwave and drought related impacts is very high for India as we enter the months of April and May — when conditions tend to be at their hottest.

Unfortunately, since so much carbon has already been emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere from fossil fuel burning, droughts and heatwaves are likely to continue to become more and more intense for India over at least the next two decades. And the longer large volumes of carbon continue to hit the atmosphere, the worse and worse the situation for India becomes.

(UPDATED)

Links:

Early Heat Grips India

India Heatwave Turns Deadly

India and Climate Change

Earth Nullschool

Hat tip to Ryan in New England

Hat tip to Spike

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Scores of City-Sized Siberian Wildfires Spew 2,500 Mile-Long Plume of Smoke Over Northern Hemisphere

Today’s satellite pass by NASA’s LANCE MODIS array tells a dire story that practically no one in the global mainstream media is talking about. Northern and Central Siberia is burning. Scores of massive fires, some the size of cities and small states, are throwing off a great pall of smoke 2,500 miles long.

The vast boreal forests are lighting off like climate-change-enhanced natural fireworks. The tundra and permafrost lands — some of them frozen for hundreds of thousands to millions of years — are thawing and igniting. But for all of the loudly roaring fires, most of the major media reporting agencies have thus far produced only deafening silence.

Country-Sized Swath of Siberia is Covered With Wildfires

Massive Siberian Wildfires

(Large sections of Russia and Eastern Europe are blanketed by smoke from massive Siberian wildfires in today’s LANCE MODIS satellite shot.)

Imagine an enormous rectangle. At its northwestern end is the Yamal Peninsula and the shores of the Arctic Ocean. At its southeastern end is Lake Baikal, nearly 2,000 miles away. The vast expanse between is littered with fires. Some of these fires are relatively small. But others are vast, sporting firefronts 20-25 miles wide and revealing individual burn scars that, according to unconfirmed satellite analysis, appear to cover as much as 400 square miles of land.

And it’s not just a case of a smattering of these fires burning across the broad region. Rather, these massive fires are burning in multiple clusters, some of which would easily cover a region the size of the US state of South Carolina. The below image is a 300-by-220-mile box showing a section of North Central Arctic Siberia between north latitudes 58.5 and 66.2. Note that a significant portion of the land area in this satellite capture is covered by very large fires.

South Carolina Sized Siberian Region covered in smoke and flame

(Extensive swath of fires burn over North Central Siberia. Image shows a 300-by-220-mile area. Image source: LANCE MODIS.)

These very large fires are vigorously burning in a contiguous permafrost zone of Siberia. During recent years, as human fossil-fuel burning has continued to warm the Earth, such fires have become more and more common. Burning not only forest, the fires have also consumed duff, peat, and, increasingly, recently thawed sections of the permafrost. Though these fires are now in the process of activating a very large northern carbon store, and though such an event represents a dangerous amplifying feedback to human-forced warming, their occurrence and extent has been greatly underreported by the Russian government.

Fires Burning Near Yamal, Frozen Methane Deposits, Fossil Fuel Production Infrastructure

Further north, even the typically hard-frozen tundra regions are burning. Near the town of Nuya, along Obskaya Bay just east of Yamal, Russia and located in the fossil fuel development zone between north latitudes 66 and 67.3, enormous fires are raging. Like the recent Fort McMurray fire, these blazes appear to be burning near fossil fuel infrastructure and development zones.

Fires near Nuya Russia

(Large fires on the shores of Obskaya Bay in Northwestern Russia on July 18, 2016. Image source: LANCE MODIS.)

The Yamal region was also the location of the recent, and controversial, methane blowholes. The region sits over large gas deposits, some of which are in the form of clathrate. And some of the previously stable frozen deposits appear to be facing an increasing release pressure due to thawing, the invasion of warm liquid water into the subterranean environment, and, at the near-surface region, lightning strikes (which were previously unheard of in this zone) and wildfire pressure.

Up to 40-F-Above-Average Temperatures Blanket the Northern Fire Zone

Today, a good number of these fires burn north of the farthest northern extent of the Siberian tree line in 77 to 86 degrees F (25 to 30 C) temperatures. For some regions, these temperatures are 30 to 40 degrees F (17 to 22 C) above average. At the northwestern end of the vast, fire-marred range that now covers a land area larger than most countries, temperatures near the Arctic Ocean shore at 70.9° N, 81.4° E are 86 degrees F (30 C) — about 40 degrees F (22 C) above average. Not far away, the wildfires in the above image burn.

86 Degrees Near Arctic Ocean

(Extreme heat in the range of 30 to 40 degrees F above average temperatures [17 to 22 C] near Arctic Ocean shores greatly increases Arctic wildfire risk. Such extreme heat is related to human-forced climate change. As the Arctic warms at a rate two to three times faster than the rest of the globe, such fire-hazard and related potential for worsening amplifying feedbacks is also likely to increase. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

Despite increasing prevalence and extent, Siberian wildfires have continued to be underreported during recent years, despite the fact that out of all major Arctic permafrost and boreal forest regions — Alaska, Canada, and Siberia — Siberia has shown the visibly greatest increase in wildfire frequency and extent. This is likely due, in part, to a now-documented underreporting of wildfire extent by the Russian government.

Links/Attribution/Statements

Earth Nullschool

LANCE MODIS

Yamal Map

Methane Blow Holes

Russia Significantly Under-Reporting Wildfires

Hat tip to Colorado Bob

Hat tip to DT Lange

Hat tip to Jim Benison

Mangled Jet Stream, River of Moisture Set to Deliver Extreme Flooding to Mississippi Valley

The potential rainfall totals for a broad region centering just west of the Mississippi River Valley are absolutely extraordinary. For even a strong spring storm, this event may hit unprecedented levels. It’s the kind of abnormal event we’ve now come to expect in a world driven 1 C + warmer than 1880s levels by a merciless burning of fossil fuels that just won’t quit.

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Mangled Jet Stream Aims River of Moisture at Central US and Gulf Coasts

Over the past few weeks, a record warm El Nino has been slowly cooling down in the Equatorial Pacific. One of the top three strongest events on record, this particular warming of sea surfaces in the Pacific coincided with never before seen global heat as atmospheric CO2 levels spiked to above 405 parts per million on some days during February and March. The record warm sea surface and atmosphere held a never before seen excess of water vapor and moisture in suspension — primarily over the Equatorial Ocean zones. And as the world hit peak temperatures during early March and began to back off a little, some of that massive excess of moisture was bound to wring out somewhere.

For such events, all you really need is a trigger. And over the past two days, forecast models have been predicting an insane dip in the Jet Stream. Today, we got it. A raging storm track over the Northeast Pacific roared its 200+ mph upper level winds down over the Western US and Mexico. It drew deep from a rich, record global warming intensified, low Latitude moisture flood as its tail end reached all the way to the Equator itself. This insanely deep trough then turned north, aiming an unprecedented atmospheric moisture flood fire-hose style at the storm-tossed airs above the Mississippi River Valley.

Huge Dip in the Jet Stream March 8

(An extreme dip in the Jet Stream stretching through the Western US and all the way to the Equator is aiming both Pacific and Gulf moisture at the Mississippi River Valley today. The severe storms that are now firing and that are predicted to continue over the next three days may result in an unprecedented flooding event. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

Severe storms are now firing off along a line stretching from the Gulf Coast to Nebraska. Coastal flooding, gale force winds, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and hail are all expected as part of what can best be described as an epic storm system. But perhaps the most dangerous feature of the whole event is the severe rainfall totals that are expected to accumulate over the next three days.

Foot of Rain or More over Mississippi River Valley in the Next Three Days

Rain that is expected to be extraordinarily intense and long lasting. Reports from the Weather Channel indicated the risk for rainfall rates in the range of 3 inches an hour in some of the heaviest storm cells. Meanwhile, model runs earlier today indicated a potential for as much as 20 Inches of rain for some regions over the next 72 hours. Official NOAA models are now indicating nearly a foot in peak rainfall regions in Eastern Texas and Western Louisiana with the potential for greater than five inches along a broad swath running from the Gulf Coast through to Illinois.

72 Hour rainfall totals NOAA NCEP

(NOAA predicts very extreme rainfall totals over a broad region of the Mississippi River Valley during the next three days. Image source: NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center.)

According to NBC news reports, more than 15 million Americans are falling under risk of flooding from this very severe weather system. One that has been compared with the South Carolina floods of 2015 due to its potential to produce severe rains. But one that is also much wider in coverage — capable of impacts over a far broader region.

In addition, those flooding rains will fall all over the Mississippi River Valley — resulting in an extreme threat of very severe flooding all along this great river and its tributaries. As such, we are likely to be dealing with a flood situation for many days after the initial rain event tapers off. With Spring on the way, with so much moisture still bleeding off the Pacific, with a record level of global warming greatly amping up the hydrological cycle, and with a trough development tendency setting up for this region — this particular extreme rainfall event may, sadly, be but the first of many this season.

Links:

Earth Nullschool

NOAA El Nino

NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center

The Roof is On Fire

Models Predict Big Jet Stream Dip

National Weather Service Radar Loop

National Weather Service Alerts Map

The Weather Network

The Weather Channel

Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana Face Drenching, Possible Tornadoes

Hat Tip to DT Lange

Hat Tip to Anthony Sagliani

Human-Baked Baffin Bay Takes Biggest Bite Yet out of The Greenland Ice Sheet

You wouldn’t generally think of ocean temperatures in the range of 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (5 to 10 degrees Celsius) as hot. But to the great sea-fronting glaciers of Greenland it may as well be boiling.

Greenland Ice Sheet in Hot Water

All it takes is 32 degree F (0 C) water to begin melting the ice. And for each 1 degree increase above that margin, melt rates will dramatically ramp higher. Though a typical summer will push ice to melt at the Greenland seafront ice edge, this year, especially near Baffin Bay, the melt pressure has been extraordinary.

Ever since late June, 40-50 degree F sea surface temperatures have dominated the ice edge zone. For most regions that’s temperatures in the range of 4-11 degrees Fahrenheit (2-6 C) above average. The kind of heat that really risks a rapid melt along the ice margin.

Above Normal Sea Surface Temperatures Near Greenland

(Sunday, August 16 sea surface temperature anomalies as provided by NOAA.)

A latent heat that sits at the surface, gnawing away at the ice, waiting for a fresh water flood. And when the fresh water does come, that hotter, saltier, heavier water is forced downward beneath the lighter fresh water outflow. At this point, the hotter waters are locked below the surface where they go to work eating away at the glacier base. Notably, the only region within Baffin Bay where we currently see cooler surface water is in the major glacier melt zone near Jakobshavn. It’s an indication that ice melt from a major glacier outflow there is cooling the surface waters even as it pulls the surface heat downward and toward the glacial base.

This glacial melt heat conveyor is the kind of process we are seeing more and more frequently near the great ice sheets as fossil fuel industry has continued its harmful emissions. And, it’s a process that, this week took a huge chunk out of one of the world’s fastest moving ice masses.

Huge Chunk of Jakobshavn Breaks Off

According to reports from The Arctic Ice Blog, the Jakobshavn glacier sent its biggest chunk of ice on record floating off into Baffin on August 16 of 2015. For a glacier that drains 6.5 percent of the Greenland Ice Sheet and that has been known to release icebergs the size of Lower Manhattan, that’s really saying something.

You can see this amazing and rather chilling calving event in action in the August 14 to August 16 satellite imagery comparison developed by Espen Olsen below:

Espen Jakobshavn

(Jakobshavn experiences what is likely it’s largest calving event yet on Sunday, August 16, 2015. Image source: Espen Olson.)

Here we see the ice-choked Baffin Bay waters rapidly surging inland and taking up more of the Jakobshavn’s traditional outflow channel. What we do not see in this image, but what clearly happened, was that an ice mass hundreds of meters tall and covering an area of about 12.5 square kilometers was shattered into flinders as warming ocean waters invaded the Greenland Ice Sheet. Waters that will deliver still more heat to the ice. Waters that seek for the very heart of Greenland — a below sea level basin topped with 2-3 kilometer tall mountains of ice.

Back in the 19th Century, the Jakobshavn Fjord was half full of grounded Greenland ice. A long tongue of the glacier extended on outward through the channel. As of 2015, the Fjord is now completely full of water and ocean-bound ice bergs. The ocean itself has begun to invade the much larger ice masses beyond the Fjord. The broader inland mass of the Jakobshavn Glacier which is now directly in contact with the rising seas (indicated as Jakobshavn Isbrae on the maps above and below).

Jakobshavn Melt Progression

(Warming waters from Baffin Bay have driven through the ice in the Jakobshavn Fjord and are now boring into the thicker ice masses of Jakobshavn Ibrae. An impact that has serious implications for global sea level rise. Image source: The Arctic Sea Ice Blog and Espen Olsen.)

The inland-retreating Isbrae itself is a vast field of giant ice sheets. Massive tilting escarpments of luminous ice that, in the current age of fossil fuel forced warming, often cup great 1-3 kilometer long melt ponds in their wildly varied topography. It’s a single region that, in total, may hold about 1.5 feet of global sea level rise locked away in a rapidly melting ice pack. And Jakobshavn is just one of many regions (together containing about 15-20 feet worth of sea level rise) that are currently undergoing rapid melt due to the invasions of warming ocean waters.

Links:

NOAA

The Arctic Ice Blog

Espen Olson

A-Team

LANCE-MODIS

“Standing on the Shores of Disaster” Global Average CO2 Exceeds 400 PPM In March

“This may not be our climate rubicon, but we’re certainly standing on the shores of disaster, 400 ppm is well past the point of safety which many scientists put at 350 ppm.” Jamie Henn, co-founder and communications director of 350.org in an interview to Huffington Post on May 6.

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New reports out from NOAA today showed that in March of this year global average CO2 levels broke the 400 parts per million monthly average for the first time in the climate record. These levels, which include a measure of all global readings, are the highest seen by the inhabitants of Earth in at least three million years.

NOAA CO2

(Global average CO2 levels exceed 400 parts per million for the first time in March. Image source: NOAA.)

The Mauna Loa measure, which we’ve been using for record keeping here, first exceeded the 400 ppm threshold back in 2013, with monthly averages hitting 401.8 ppm in May of 2014. This year, Mauna Loa daily measures began exceeding 400 parts per million in January and have hit as high as 404.8 parts per million in recent weeks.

Southern Hemisphere averages lag those in the Northern Hemisphere, which accounts for the global average delay.

This inauspicious milestone comes with a massive burning of fossil fuels that now dumps more than 10 billion tons of carbon (37 billion tons of CO2 equivalent) into the atmosphere every year. It’s a ridiculous rate of burning — likely one that is six times faster than at any time in the deep history of Earth.

“This marks the fact that humans burning fossil fuels have caused global carbon dioxide concentrations to rise more than 120ppm since pre-industrial times,” Pieter Tans, lead scientist of NOAA’s greenhouse gas network, said in an interview to  The Guardian Wednesday. “Half of that rise has occurred since 1980.”

This is a level far exceeding the 350 parts per million safe limit recommended by scientists. A level that, if maintained, is enough to warm the world by 2-3 degrees Celsius long term and cause enough ice to destabilize and slide into the ocean to raise sea levels by 60 feet or more. And if you add in all the other greenhouse gasses, the problem looks even worse — with about 484 parts per million of CO2 equivalent gasses circulating and trapping heat in the Earth atmosphere.

The problem is that once the CO2 is in the atmosphere and oceans, it takes a long time to become sequestered. It generates extra heat for decades, centuries and millennia. Tackling this issue not only involves rapidly moving to a zero carbon civilization. It involves changing the way we do business in a manner that is less disruptive to Earth systems. In a way that allows for the carbon sinks to vitalize and take up a portion of the massive volumes of carbon we’ve emitted.

But we’re nowhere near achieving that goal. Though carbon emissions stabilized in 2014 due to rapid adoption of renewable energy sources, continuing to emit at current rates is a recipe for disaster. What we need is a very rapid draw down to zero emissions.

Links:

Global Carbon Dioxide Levels Topped 400 Parts Per Million in March

Carbon Dioxide Levels Break 400 Part Per Million Milestone

NOAA’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory

350.org

A Faustian Bargain on the Short Road to Hell

Hat Tip to Greg

Unsettling CO2 Spike: Hourly Levels Hit Near 404 PPM on January 13, 2015

CO2 Spike

Yesterday, at about the same time I was penning this article describing how CO2 levels were likely to exceed 400 PPM for most of 2015, a rather significant and abrupt CO2 spike was taking place at the Mauna Loa Observatory.

For on the evening of January 13, 2015, CO2 levels suddenly rocketed to nearly 404 parts per million.

The sudden upswing was certainly unexpected and rather significant — mimicking only the highest levels during 2014. These spikes came fully four months ahead of typical atmospheric CO2 peaks and seem rather ominous in the graph.

CO2 levels can be variable in the hourly measure. But this inflection was particularly strong — following a very high daily reading of 401.23 PPM on the 12th. Somewhat odd and rather early CO2 increases for 2015. A trend we will have to continue to watch.

Links:

The Keeling Curve

2014 Hottest Year on Record Amidst Ocean Heat Spikes and Arctic Wildfires

According to Japan’s Meteorological Agency, 2014 set new inauspicious marks as the hottest year in the global climate record since measures began in 1891.

Temperatures rocketed to 0.27 C above the 1981-2010 average, 0.63 C above the 20th Century average and showed a severe pace of warming of 0.70 C per Century. By comparison, the end of the last ice age featured century scale warming at the rate of 0.04 to 0.05 C every 100 years. So the current rate of warming, according to the JMA measure, is 14-17 times faster. A rapid warm-up driving increasingly severe weather and geophysical changes.

2014 Hottest Year on Record

(JMA measure shows 2014 was hottest year on record. Image source JMA.)

NOAA is also expected to show 2014 as hottest year on record. NASA is likely to show 2014 as 1rst, 2nd or 3rd hottest.

2014, according to JMA, was the first record breaker since the super El Nino year of 1998 with 2014 beating out 1998 by 0.05 degrees C. However, the JMA measure also showed that all ten hottest years on record occurred since 1998. Perhaps more telling is the fact that the JMA measure reveals no hiatus in the pace of global atmospheric temperature increase with all years since 1998 at or above the trend line.

Ocean Heat but No El Nino

World ocean surface temperature spikes were the primary driver of the new global surface temperature record with NOAA’s measure showing a majority of months as hottest ever recorded for the world ocean. North Pacific and North Atlantic Ocean temperatures were particularly hot — with a West Coast heat pool driving ocean dead zone events and starfish die-offs alike. In this region and off the US East Coast, Ocean temperature anomalies regularly topped 4 degrees Celisus above average. An extraordinary degree of heat that, in some cases, saw tropical fish species heading into Arctic waters for solace from the record warmth.

Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly global August 29, 2014

(Extraordinary Sea Surface Temperature spikes occurred in late August and mid October, with most of 2014 showing extreme ocean heating. Image source: Climate Reanalyzer.)

El Nino threatened throughout much of the year. But despite a warming near the Equatorial Pacific temperature thresholds failed to fully tip into El Nino. An ominous sign considering that El Nino is the hot phase of atmospheric and surface temperature variability — which may mean that the next El Nino will drive a global high temperature departure even more extreme than 2014’s record setting value.

Severe Weather, Climate Extremes During Hottest Year

2014 also featured some of the worst weather on record with the US experiencing extraordinary dipole anomalies coincident with polar vortex collapse events and severe Arctic warming. Across the Atlantic, the UK experienced both its stormiest winter on record and its hottest year on record. A year hotter than any since 1649 for that nation.

Throughout the world severe droughts ravaged wide regions with the US Southwest still in the grips of the worst multi-year drought in 1,200 years. This year’s California drought was the most recent iteration of this severe event featuring a ridiculously resilient high pressure ridge that has continued to rob California of much of its typical seasonal moisture.

Amazon drying and wildfires also made news this year amidst a severe drought gripping the Sao Paulo megalopolis in Southeastern Brazil. The ongoing drought has shut off monsoonal moisture, forced residents to ration water, and threatens to put city water officials in the position of turning to use of mud for municipal water supplies.

Glaciologists identified massive sections of Antarctic land ice that had reached the point of irreversible collapse. Many of these researchers pointed toward an expanding pool of warm bottom water undermining sea facing glaciers as the culprit for this increasingly rapid glacial melt. A set of circumstances that creates a higher risk of more rapidly rising seas.

To this point, the City of Miami began a combined program of installing pumps to rid streets of flooding at times of high tide and has assessed a property tax to begin its efforts to fight the surge of waters set off by human caused climate change. New studies also found high risk areas such as Hampton Roads in Virginia now featured tens of thousands of properties under such serious threat of flooding that only FEMA will provide them with insurance — a number that will continue to increase along with the sea levels (globally at 3.3 millimeters of increase per year but as high as 7-8 mm per year in some regions).

Ominous Signs the Permafrost is Starting to Disgorge its Carbon Store

Sections of Siberia and Canada experienced extraordinary warmth during winter and spring of 2014 — setting off severe early season wildfires that raged well into late summer. These megafires continue the trend of recent years in which massive blazes rip through the Siberian tundra region disgorging methane and CO2 laden smoke plumes that then encircle the Northern Hemisphere.

For the Northwest Territories of Canada, this past summer represented its worst fire year ever recorded with massive blazes forming towering pyrocumulus clouds over vast burning regions of Arctic permafrost. A fitting backdrop for the Mordor-like activities of Alberta tar sands extraction.

very-intense-fires-burning-in-yakutia

(Very intense wildfires, some the size of smalls states as seen above in the LANCE MODIS shot from July of 2014, raged through Siberian tundra this summer. For reference the bottom edge of frame is 120 miles. Image source: LANCE MODIS.)

In all, about 1,300 gigatons of carbon are stored in the now thawing permafrost, a region Joe Romm is calling the permamelt (perhaps permaburn is a better term). And a human enhanced warming of the Arctic appears to be speeding that carbon’s rate of release into the atmosphere. An impact that could further accelerate human-caused warming. An ignominious circumstance leading to more record warm years and related global climate extremes to come. One that adds urgency to the need to rapidly transition away from fossil fuel burning and human activities that dump massive volumes of carbon into the atmosphere.

Links:

JMA Global Average Surface Temperatures Reach New Record in 2014

2014 Was The Hottest Year By Far

Met Office Confirms 2014 was Hottest Year on Record for UK

LANCE MODIS

2014’s Unprecedented Arctic Wildfires

The Climate Reanalyzer

Antarctic Heat Heralds Hottest September in the NASA Record

September 2014 Hottest on Record

(Global temperature anomaly map for September of 2014. Note extraordinary bands of very strong positive temperature anomaly ranging the globe with hottest zones at or near the poles. Image source: NASA GISS.)

Another hottest month on record for the global climate. And this one is a bit of a doozey.

According to NASA GISS, September of 2014 saw global surface temperatures that were 0.77 C hotter than the 20th Century average. This record beats out 2005 by a rather strong 0.04 C margin and represents the 3rd month in the GISS record for 2014 that was either the hottest or tied for the hottest (May, August and September).

Ocean surface heat and anomalous warmth at the poles were deciding factors for the new September record with very few regions of the global ocean surface showing cooler than average temps and with extraordinary heat at the poles, especially in Antarctica. This southern polar zone experienced average monthly temperatures as much as 8.7 above the global average across a relatively broad zone. Both East and West Antarctica observed this very strong polar amplification with East Antarctica experiencing the peak anomalies.

zonal anomalies map september 2014

(Zonal anomalies by Latitude in the NASA GISS measure. Image source: NASA GISS.)

The zonal anomalies map for September of 2014 showed no latitudinal zone experiencing cooler than 20th Century average conditions. A rather extraordinary feature considering most months show cooler than 20th Century average conditions along at least some latitudes.

Most extreme heating occurred at or near the poles with the 75-80 degree South Latitude zone showing an extraordinary +3.4 C departure from the global norm and the 80-90 degree North Latitude zone showing a strong +1.75 degree positive anomaly.

The only zone showing near 20th Century average temperatures was the heat sink region of 55 to 60 degrees South Latitude in the Southern Ocean. In this climate region a strong storm track combines with an expanding fresh water wedge issuing from melting Antarctic glaciers to force down-welling and atmosphere to ocean heat capture. A heat capture that was alluded to in a recent scientific paper which found the upper Southern Ocean contained between 24 and 55 percent more heat than expected.

This heat sink region, featuring an expanding fresh water wedge has been instrumental in somewhat higher than normal Antarctic sea ice totals. An impact that is, ironically, driven both by Antarctic continental ice melt together with an increasing storminess in the Southern Ocean and waters more heavily laden with salt issuing from the equatorial zone. A highly unstable confluence that results in local surface cooling as the ocean takes a heavy dose from the human riled heat engine.

Conditions in Context

No El Nino yet, despite two warm Kelvin waves and somewhat favorable atmospheric conditions throughout the months of August and September. But sea surface temperature in the Equatorial Pacific region remain somewhat hotter than normal — bending toward the warm side of ENSO neutral. Overall ocean surface warmth, however, was extraordinary throughout September, pushing well above the global average and ranging, in GFS models, from 0.7 C to 1.2 C above the already hotter than normal 1979 to 2000 average.

Overall, three more record or near record hot months would put 2014 in serious contention for hottest year on record (2014 is running 0.65 C hotter than average, the global record is 0.67 C above average for 2010). A rather odd result considering we still see no El Nino and almost every recent hottest year has been spurred on by this powerful atmospheric variability driver. A record hot year in 2014 with no El Nino could well be an indication that the human forcing is beginning to over-ride natural variability and that the ENSO signal, though still very powerful, is becoming more and more muted by an increasingly substantial human heat forcing.

Links:

NASA GISS

It’s Worse Than We Thought — New Study Finds that Earth is Warming Far Faster Than Expected

Hothouse Rains for Kashmir: Worst Flooding in More Than 60 Years Puts 450 Villages Under Water

Kasmir Floods September 5

(The hurricane over land like signature that has become all-too-common during recent years as the Earth has continued to warm is plainly visible over the Kashmir region on September 5 of 2014. A multi-day flooding event that is now the worst for this Central Asian state in more than 60 years. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

On Tuesday, a bank of thunderstorms fed by an atmospheric river of moisture off the Arabian Sea exploded into a mountain of cloud over Kashmir in Central Asia. The rains swept in and continued through Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A terrible flooding rain that has now killed 160 people, forced the evacuation of 2,500 villages and buried more than 450 villages under waters rising high enough to cover the hills.

River flooding has been so intense that flood level gauges have simply been buried, with towns and cities throughout the region facing catastrophic damage. In Srinagar, a Kashmiri city of 1.2 million souls, the situation today was dire. Union Minister Ragnath Singe, visited the scene earlier today but had to cancel an aerial tour due to ongoing severe weather keeping flights grounded:

“If there is so much devastation in the city, I wonder what would be the situation like in rural areas. I want to assure the people and the government of Jammu and Kashmir that the central government stands beside you in your hour of crisis and we extend all necessary help to you,” Singe noted.

The flood toll now includes more than 50 bridges, hundreds of kilometers of roads, and the loss of numerous power plants and sub stations due to inundation. Vast destruction of food crops is also underway, though with the rains still ongoing it is impossible to provide a full tally.

Minister Singe, amid assurances of full-scale mobilization to aid disaster victims and prevent loss of life has made a plea for 25,000 tents and 40,000 blankets to help provide shelter and care for the swelling ranks of refugees from this ongoing catastrophe.

Conditions in Context

Reported Instances of Extreme Weather since 1988
(Reported instances of extreme weather since 1988. Image source: University of Nottingham.)

Human-caused climate change greatly amplifies the conditions that lead to more intense rainfall and flooding events. For each 1 degree Celsius of temperature increase, the hydrological cycle intensifies by 8 percent. So evaporation events and rainfall events grow ever more intense as the world warms.

Though storms, on aggregate, dump 8 percent more rain, and evaporation sucks 8 percent more moisture up from the lands and ground, the uneven nature of weather results in a powerful amplification of extreme events. So what you end up with is both far more powerful severe storm systems and far more intense and rapidly asserting drought conditions.

We see these increasingly more dangerous events now at 0.85 C warming above the 1880s average. And we have locked in about 1.9 C warming this century and 3.8 C long-term warming due to the gasses we’ve already emitted. But continued fossil fuel burning will make the situation considerably worse.

Links:

Jammu and Kashmir Flood Toll Climbs to 160

Jammu and Kashmir Floods are Worst in Six Decades

LANCE-MODIS

University of Nottingham

How Climate Change Spurs Severe Weather

Hat-tip to Colorado Bob

March to Stop Climate Disruption: “This is the Most Fateful Battle in Human History, We Will Fight it Together”

Climate change is more than just an environmental issue. It’s an issue that defines how we live, where we will life, and whether or not our children and our grandchildren will live. For billions of innocent creatures across this world it’s an issue of extinction or continued survival. The human animal included.

It is the most critical justice issue of our time and of all time. For it determines whether or not there is a time after.

We cannot allow the forces now in the process of ravaging our world, the forces that are taking away our future, to proceed unchecked. And so we must send out this wide-ranging call for action. We must light the beacons on the mountains and hillsides and we must call all responsible people together so that their voices will drown out the all too-strong and oppressive forces calling for silence.

We must be heard. Life demands it. Love for our children demands it.

The cause could not be more urgent. For time is swiftly running out.

We must act! We must act! We must ACT!!

Or we will be consigned to the dust by our own and ever-too-violent hand.

Disruption and The People’s Climate March

“This is the most fateful battle in history and we will fight it together!” — Bill McKibben

I urge you all to join me in going to New York for The People’s Climate March on September 21st. And I urge you to join with me in watching what is likely to be the most significant independent documentary film ever released — Disruption — which will begin airing tomorrow (see trailer above).

the wheel of time is empty and the book of life is blank

(Who drew this mysterious and chilling pictogram during Renaissance times? The Wheel of Time is Empty and the Book of Life is blank. Of the triple goddess, the fates, only the Crone and the Mother remain, implying that the Virgin, representing future life, is gone. As for the skeletal Hart, I will leave that riddle to you. …This is a fate that is unacceptable.)

We must send a strong message that we will not longer stand quietly by as our climate continues to rapidly degrade and as our future is swept away. The time to languish in a steadily decaying comfort is at an end. The time to sit by as prospects fall and more of the primordial terrors of the world are unleashed is at an end.

Justice demands that our voices be heard and that our voices be so loud as to turn every ear and so defiant as to demand an answer. The right answer. The only answer to climate change — climate action.

Join with me in fighting to save life, in fighting to save our civilization, in fighting to save history.

Links:

The People’s Climate March

Disruption

Methane Monster’s Grumbling Goes Global: 570 Methane Plumes Discovered on Atlantic Ocean Sea Floor

Greenhouse gas concentrations spike — heating the atmosphere and the deep ocean after a period of glaciation during which vast stores of carbon accumulated. Massive volumes of this carbon lay dormant — trapped in frozen ground and in clathrates on the sea bed. As the ocean and airs warm, these carbon stores release causing a massive spike of additional greenhouse gasses to hit the atmosphere and setting off ever-more-rampant heating. The cycle continues until much of these carbon stores out-gas, pushing the Earth into a hothouse state.

Sound chillingly familiar?

What I’ve just described is the process that most scientists believe occurred during the worst mass extinction event in the geological past — the Permian Extinction. A hothouse event that killed 95% of life in the oceans and 70% of life on land. And what humans are now doing to the Earth’s airs and waters through CO2 and related greenhouse gas emissions may well be shockingly similar.

Large methane release over East Siberian Sea August 2014

(Substantial methane release from the East Siberian Sea surface during early August likely in the range of 0.5 to 1 megatons points toward both atmospheric methane overburden and likely carbon store instability and large scale out-gassing in the Arctic. Image credit: Sam Carana and NOAA.)

From the Arctic tundra to the Arctic Ocean sea bed to the Atlantic Ocean, we have growing evidence of methane and CO2 releases from carbon stores that may well be at the start of just such a large scale feedback. Time and time again, we see evidence of significant (but not yet catastrophic) emissions from Arctic methane stores (see image above). With each passing year, the methane overburden in the Arctic air grows. And we have had increasing evidence of a growing volume of releases from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf sea bed, to the methane emitting melt lakes proliferating over the thawing permafrost, to the chilling and terrifying methane blow holes discovered this year in Siberia.

As of 2011, many Arctic scientists believed that human-caused heating could set off methane and CO2 emissions from that region equivalent to between 10 and 35 percent or more of current human fossil fuel burning by the end of this century. The lower boundary of this range is with rapid reductions in human greenhouse gas emissions, the upper boundary is under business as usual. Such a 35 percent equivalent emission, happening year on year for centuries, would be more than enough to push Earth into a runaway hothouse scenario without any further human greenhouse gas releases. And it is this scenario, or the even more chilling worse case of very rapidly ramping Arctic methane outbursts, that we should be very concerned about.

Atlantic Methane Hydrate Destabilization off US East Coast

Unfortunately, the vast carbon store in the Arctic is not the only potential source of heating feedback carbon release. For around the world, upon and beneath the ocean sea bed, billions of tons of methane lay stored in clathrate structures. These stores are separate from the large carbon deposits in the Arctic. But they are no less dangerous.

In 2012, Nature issued a study that found a store of clathrates composing billions of tons of methane was now destabilizing off the US East Coast. The study predicted large-scale releases in the multi-gigaton range from the southern region of the East Coast methane clathrate store due both to changes in the Gulf Stream circulation and to warming bottom waters — both impacts set off by human-caused climate change. The study was uncertain how fast such a release could occur, but noted that the eventual release was likely due to wide-scale clathrate degradation associated with ocean bottom warming.

Methane Seep off US East Coast

(Methane Seep off US East Coast. Image source: Nature.)

This year, research vessels returned to the region and found 570 plumes of methane venting from destabilized clathrate stores there. This result was surprising due to the fact that only three methane seep sources had previously been identified. The plumes were discovered in 50 to 1,500 meters of water, with most of the seeps occurring at between 250 and 600 meters depth, along a zone stretching from Cape Hatteras to Georges Bank. The seeps ranged in age from recent to 100 or even 1000 or more years old. Overall, the prevalence of seeps was more widespread than expected.

“This is the first time anyone has systematically mapped an entire margin,” Christian Berndt, a marine geophysicist at GEOMAR in Kiel, Germany, who was not involved in the study, said in an interview to Science Magazine. “They found that there was much more methane coming out than was suspected beforehand.”

Currently, only a small amount of the methane being released from the sea bed off the US East Coast is likely hitting the atmosphere and is probably not contributing anywhere near the volume of known emission sources from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. Most of the gas is just absorbed by the water column, increasing acidification in the region and contributing to anoxia. But the known clathrate store off the US East Coast is very significant and large scale releases could result in much more widespread anoxia, acidification, and provide a substantial atmospheric heating feedback to human-caused warming. Very large and catastrophic outbursts could also result in slope collapse and generate tsunamis along the US East Coast. A concern that researchers may also need to further investigate.

Overall, as much as 300 to 400 gigatons of methane could be at risk and even a fraction of this store hitting the atmosphere would cause serious and lasting harm.

Overall, it is estimated that at least 30,000 methane seeps like the ones recently discovered off the US East Coast may now be active with potentially 10,000 in the East Coast region now under investigation. The current study provides a good base line for further exploration of what may well be a rather significant problem going forward.

“It highlights a really key area where we can test some of the more radical hypotheses about climate change,” said John Kessler, a professor at the University of Rochester, in an interview with the New York Times. “How will those release rates accelerate as bottom temperature warms?”

The acceleration would indeed have to be substantial to add to the already significant and troubling Arctic methane and CO2 release. But the sea bed stores are vast and the rate of human warming is very rapid. So the global ocean clathrate store is something to keep under close watch and the discovery of yet one more source that is already emitting at faster than expected rates is not at all comforting.

Links:

Widespread Methane Leakage From Sea Floor on Northern US Atlantic Margin

From Glaciation to Hothouse — Why the Permian Extinction is Pertinent to Human Warming

Recent Changes to the Gulf Stream Causing Widespread Hydrate Gas Destabilization

New Study Shows East Coast Hydrates Destabilizing

High Risk of Permafrost Thaw

Sam Carana

NOAA

Scientists Discover Hundreds of Methane Leaks Bubbling Up From the Atlantic Sea Floor

Sea Level Rise Found to Cause Slope Collapse, Tsunamis, Methane Release

Exceptional Drought Blankets 58 Percent of California; Reservoirs Missing One Year’s Worth of Water

For California, the punishment just won’t stop.

Human warming and a climate change induced blocking pattern have withered California under record drought conditions for the better part of three years now. A vicious trend that worsened again in recent days with yet another jump in drought severity as exceptional drought conditions surged to cover a majority of the state.

Previous week’s values of 36 percent exceptional drought coverage rocketed to 58 percent in just one week. Exceptional drought is the highest drought category for the US Drought Monitor, representing the most extreme conditions in the measure. So most of the state is now sweltering under the nation’s worst drought category with the remainder covered by extreme and severe drought:

California Drought July 29

(US Drought Monitor map of California showing 58 percent of the state covered in exceptional drought [brick red], 23 percent covered in extreme drought [red], and the rest covered in severe drought [orange]. California is now entering its fourth month of 100% drought coverage after more than three years of abnormally dry conditions.)

One hundred percent drought coverage with worsening conditions has been the prevailing pattern ever since May when drought first surged to blanket the entire state. Since that time, conditions have been steadily worsening with agricultural regions drying out, farmers, communities and industries forced to further deplete limited ground water supplies, and with reservoirs dropping despite best efforts by federal and state officials to conserve.

As a result, state supplies are being hammered. For, according to a report released today by the National Drought Mitigation Center, the state is “short more than one year’s worth of reservoir water, or 11.6 million acre-feet, for this time of year.” In other words, if a year’s worth of rain fell over the state tomorrow, it would barely be enough to bring reservoir levels back to normal.

So far, drought effects have been mitigated, mostly through the above-mentioned reliance on ground water supplies. But it remains questionable how long such activities can continue. And despite even these efforts thousands of agricultural workers have been laid off amidst a 2 billion dollar loss for the state’s food industry.

As ground water and reservoir levels continue to drop, officials have grown more anxious to enforce conservation measures. To this point, fines in excess of 500 dollars have been levied for residents hosing sidewalks and driveways, for excessively watering their lawns, or for other water intensive practices. To this end, many municipalities have hired ‘water police’ to patrol neighborhoods and enforce water conservation measures.

Climate Change and A Mangled Jet Stream

Recent scientific studies have made a strong link between the historic California drought and ongoing changes to Earth’s climate resulting from human greenhouse gas emissions. Many of these changes involve heat-driven alterations to Earth’s atmospheric circulation. For as the Earth warms, it does so unevenly. In regions near the pole, and especially above 60 North, temperatures have risen by, on average, about 0.5 degrees Celsius per decade since the 1980s. This heating has pulled the Jet Stream along with prevailing weather patterns northward.

Sierra Nevada No Snow July 25

(A Sierra Nevada mountain range featuring glaciers turned brown and sweltering under temperatures as high as 70 degrees on July 25, 2014. For 2013 to 2014, the Sierra Nevadas have been mostly devoid of the reservoir-restoring snows that California typically relies upon. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

This more rapid heating of the far north has also resulted in a reduction of the north-south temperature differential. In the past, a high difference in temperature from north to south helped drive a prevailing wind pattern called the Jet Stream which kept weather systems moving across the Northern Hemisphere. But as the difference between north and south temperatures dropped, weather systems tended to stall. High amplitude waves tended to form in the Jet Stream and blocking patterns tended to emerge more often.

For California, the upshot has been the increasing prevalence of a ridge and blocking high pressure system deflecting storms away from the California coast. The pattern, which began to take hold three years ago, has been an almost constant feature for the past 16 months. And the result has been one of the worst droughts California has ever seen.

In May, a new scientific study linked the anomalous blocking pattern, the California Drought and human caused climate change stating:

The 2013–2014 California drought was initiated by an anomalous high-amplitude ridge system. The anomalous ridge was investigated using reanalysis data and the Community Earth System Model (CESM). It was found that the ridge emerged from continual sources of Rossby wave energy in the western North Pacific starting in late summer and subsequently intensified into winter. The ridge generated a surge of wave energy downwind and deepened further the trough over the northeast U.S., forming a dipole. The dipole and associated circulation pattern is not linked directly with either El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) or Pacific Decadal Oscillation; instead, it is correlated with a type of ENSO precursor. The connection between the dipole and ENSO precursor has become stronger since the 1970s, and this is attributed to increased greenhouse gas loading as simulated by the CESM. (emphasis added)

This climate change induced blocking pattern has also been associated with numerous warm air invasions of the Northern Hemisphere polar region, the most recent of which occurred yesterday.

Models Show Worsening Drought Conditions Under Human-Caused Climate Change

Unfortunately for California, the US Southwest, and for a growing portion of the country, the most recent drought may be just one in a string of many increasingly worsening events to come. Climate models predict a wholesale drying out of the US Southwest and Central US under an intensifying regime that has already begun to take hold. By mid-century conditions are expected to be quite extreme indeed:

Advance of drought

(NCAR model study of global precipitation under moderate warming throughout the 21st Century. The scale is based on the Palmer Drought Severity index with values of -4 and lower at exceptional drought. Under this model run, most of the US is blanketed by exceptional drought conditions. Overall, drought is expected to originate in the south and central US and then expand north and eastward as human caused warming intensifies.)

For Californians suffering under a three year long drought, such long-range forecasts indicate that the worst may be yet to come. For the short-to-middle-term, the west coast blocking pattern remains in place and shows little sign of movement. For the long-term, unless human greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly reduced, droughts of this intensity grow more and more likely.

But Californians are not alone, as model predictions show most of the US coming under an increasing regime of drought as human-caused warming intensifies throughout the 21st Century. Drought emerging now in the US Southwest is expected to expand north and eastward, eventually taking root and reaching an extreme intensity in the Central US. The front of drought then rides into the US Southeast and Mid-Atlantic as, by mid-to-late century, it surges northward into Canada.

The lesson to take from this is that few in the US are spared a fate of worsening drought spurred by human-caused climate change. And with climate change clearly linked to the California drought, we may be getting a bit of the bitter taste of what’s still to come.

UPDATE: US Drought Monitor now reports that the California Drought is now the worst in state history and that soil moisture levels are nearing zero for much of the state.

Links:

California Drought Crisis Reaches Worst Level As it Spreads North

US Drought Monitor

National Drought Mitigation Center

Probable Causes of the Abnormal Ridge Accompanying the 2013-2014 California Drought

LANCE-MODIS

NCAR

Jet Stream So Weak Winds are Running From Pacific to Atlantic Across the North Pole

 

 

 

A letter from Edward Snowden’s father and his lawyer, Bruce Fein, to President Obama:

Edward in his concern for and defense of human rights is a patriot, not only to America, but to all the meek, innocent, and powerless members of our race.

Some have named Edward a traitor in taint of treason. But this act is only to bully those people of conscience, who would stand with Edward, in support of basic human justice. And so it is all the more necessary that we stand in solidarity with him in defiance of unjust action through a secret government.

A blanket surveillance of its populace is ever the terrible right hand of tyrannical rule. We, as a people who lust for justice, should never accept so shameful a power.

misebogland

 

Bruce Fein & Associates, Inc.
722 12th Street, N.W., 4th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20005
Phone: 703-963-4968
bruce@thelichfieldgroup.com

July 26, 2013
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Re: Civil Disobedience, Edward J. Snowden, and the Constitution

Dear Mr. President:

You are acutely aware that the history of liberty is a history of civil disobedience to unjust laws or practices. As Edmund Burke sermonized, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Civil disobedience is not the first, but the last option. Henry David Thoreau wrote with profound restraint in Civil Disobedience: “If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank…

View original post 1,192 more words

Voter Suppression Didn’t Work, So Grasping Republicans Turn to Undermining Democracy

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The United States is endowed with a democracy that remains the envy of the world. Now, a group of republicans, embittered after a stinging defeat during the 2012 election, seeks to undermine that democracy in order to rig the electoral college in their favor.

Republican state legislators in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia are attempting to change state election rules so as to apportion electoral college votes to counties rather than the entire state. The result of this cherry-picking is that democratic presidential candidates would have to win the popular vote by 6 percent or more (a landslide) in order to edge out republicans in the electoral college.

The reason has to do with demographics. Most democrats concentrate in or near cities. So republican success in re-apportioning electoral college votes to counties would result in a tipping of the scales dramatically against democratic candidates. It would also result in a virtual nullification of the popular vote in elections. Popular vote totals would count less while where the votes came from would count more.

This kind of manipulation, funny games, and distortion is entirely normal for the current republican party. The same party that sand-bagged voting rights in an attempt to suppress the vote in key battleground states. The result was lines in which voters waited, in many cases, all day to exercise their right to vote. Other republican funny business has included purging voter rolls, multiple attempts at voter intimidation (almost always struck down in court), publishing fallacious information about voting dates in official public documents, and questionable instances of monkeying with voting machines.

The most recent attempts at voter disenfranchisement through fiddling with the electoral college system is just one more example of the sense of entitlement many republicans seem to have. They don’t believe they need to win on issues or to appeal to the hopes, needs and concerns of a broad segment of the American people. Instead, any means to win seems justified to their increasingly myopic world-view.

Links:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2013/01/25/170276794/some-in-gop-want-new-electoral-college-rules

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-25/republicans-split-over-electoral-college-change-proposals.html

 

No One Left Behind — FEMA Establishes Disaster Relief Centers on Staten Island

Today FEMA established two disaster relief locations on Staten Island. FEMA is providing food, water and supplies from a relief location at Miller Field in Dorp. A second center is being established at Mount Loretto in Pleasant Plains.

Any Staten Island resident in need of assistance can call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or contact FEMA via this link: http://www.disasterassistance.gov/.

Today FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino traveled with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to Staten Island to meet with officials about response and recovery efforts, reports CNN.com.

Unfortunately, without access to the Internet, many Staten Island residents do not realize help has already arrived. If you are a Staten Island resident with access to the Internet and come across this information, please pass it along.

LINKS:

http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2012/11/the_feds_heed_staten_islands_s.html

Global Warming Assaults World’s Grain Belts, Oceans; UN Says Food Crisis to Follow if Heat, Dryness, Damage Don’t End Soon

Persistent and wide-spread drought is likely to spawn a worldwide food crisis if global warming induced drought conditions don’t let up soon, the UN warned in a statement this week.

US agriculture saw its lowest yields in 50 years due to an ongoing and historic drought still impacting 64% of the contiguous US. The result is that the US is now consuming more than it produces and since the US is a major food exporter, this condition is contributing to increasingly tight food supplies worldwide. In addition, an ongoing drought in the Ukraine and Kazakhstan is resulting in the loss of 25% of the wheat crop there. This region supplies a full quarter of the world’s wheat so the combined US and Euro-Asian droughts have resulted in severe impacts to world food security.

Overall, world food consumption has surpassed production for the 6th time in 11 years. The result has been a gradual eroding of world food storage from an average of 107 days forward demand ten years ago to 74 days forward demand now. The downward spiral of food reserves has resulted in a very tenuous situation. According to UN Food and Agriculture Senior Economist Abdolreza Abbassian, there is “no room for unexpected events next year.”

Yet unexpected events continue apace. The US drought is still ongoing and poses a major threat to US winter wheat production. Drought in Euro-Asia appears to be ongoing as well. In Texas, farmers and ranchers remain wary of rebuilding in the face of an ongoing drought this year and following a devastating drought last year. Meanwhile, long-term climate models point to global warming resulting in expanding drought zones over many of the world’s most productive regions.

In general, the world’s nations and leaders are sleep walking into a major and ongoing food crisis that will likely worsen in coming years. The conditions for global warming induced drought firmly established themselves over the past decade and are now growing more and more extreme. It becomes more and more likely, as the world heats up, that each year to follow will result in drought. It also becomes more likely that these years will exhibit very extreme, far outside the norm, drought conditions that have devastating impacts to regions, nations and the world.

Furthermore, ocean food production is also being severely impacted. Fisheries are under stress, the size of fish is falling and a combination of factors including ocean heating, ocean acidification and agricultural run-off is devastating the world’s most productive oceanic zones. A third of the world’s fisheries are over-exploited resulting in falling production, another half are at the limit at which they can be produced sustainably. Fully forty percent of the world’s coral reefs have been destroyed or degraded. Vital mangrove forests, critical nurseries to many species of fish, have lost 35% of their previous coverage. Lastly, 400 dead zones have appeared in the world’s productive coastal waters. These dead zones provide no means to support ocean life and result in mass fish kills each year.

A new report published by the United Nations, entitled Avoiding Future Famines grimly notes that the ecological basis for human agriculture and food production is rapidly eroding.  “The environment has been more of an afterthought in the debate about food security” says Prof Joe Alcamo, Chief Scientist of the United Nations Environment Programme – which has produced the report together with the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Bank, the World Food Programme and Washington’s World Resources Institute. “This is the first time that the scientific community has given us a complete picture of how the ecological basis of the food system is not only shaky but being really undermined”. The Telegraph

As falling world food supplies show, a growing environmental and climate crisis is at hand. It is a crisis that will not let up anytime soon. And it is a crisis that continues to be made worse by our burning of fossil fuels. Cessation and scaling back of fossil fuel burning is necessary to prevent a persistent, ongoing and increasingly severe world food crisis. In addition, numerous responses including increased food storage during years of plenty, increased land management practices to mitigate and reduce the effects of drought, protection of vital fisheries, mangroves, and healthy ocean environments, increased use of drought-hardy food varieties, and various activities to aid in increasing the productivity of shrinking agricultural bases will be necessary to address the world’s ongoing and likely to worsen food crisis.

All that said, it will become less and less possible to adapt to what is a persistent and growing crisis if the issue of the world’s carbon emissions is not addressed. Again, as noted above, the world’s political and industrial leaders are sleep walking into a crisis of their own making. And that crisis, sadly, appears to be growing worse by the year.

Links:

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/issue/

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/geoffreylean/100185356/food-the-crisis-behind-the-crisis-isnt-getting-enough-attention/

 

Large Tropical Storm Isaac Churns In Caribbean, May Rain on Republican Convention

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Forming over the tropical Atlantic early this week, Tropical Storm Isaac is a large system that models project may impact the Tampa Bay region just as the republican convention kicks off.

The ninth storm of a busy hurricane season, Isaac is currently spinning out massive thunderstorms as it plows through open water. According to the National Hurricane Center, Isaac is forecast to rapidly strengthen over the next 48 hours and could become a hurricane within that time-frame.

Forecast weather tracks bring the storm to the coast of Florida early next week, with some long-range tracks bringing it over the Tampa Bay region by sometime Monday or Tuesday.

Some researchers have linked the increase in hurricane frequency and intensity over the past few decades to ongoing global warming and the warmer oceans that result. Model studies have shown that higher temperatures do result in the most intense storms being more severe but conclusions have been mixed on storm number.

Many republicans deny that human beings are causing global warming. They are the representatives of political interests who have manufactured a false debate over the existence of human-caused climate change. Just this week, three oil company-funded specialists published an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal with the goal of appealing for a longer period of non-action on climate change. All of these individuals have received oil company funding. One of them is a former oil company executive.

The Journal and sources like it, however, have treated these individuals as if they were climate change experts. Nothing could be further from the truth. Two of the authors have never published a peer-reviewed paper on climate change. The third, one of the last remaining scientists who deny global warming, has been consistently proven incorrect by both data and observation.

Sadly, the Journal, since its acquisition by Newscorp, has become the mouthpiece for such nonsense. Even worse, the republican party, which once contained a number of members who recognized the validity of climate science, has since been gobbled up by oil company special interests bent on creating a cloud of silence, inaction, and misinformation over the issue.

Now a storm forms over hotter than average seas, plows through hotter than average air, and sets its sights on a land parched by climate-change induced drought. As republicans and their oil company allies gather in Tampa, let us hope that a climate-enhanced storm doesn’t cause them undue inconvenience or discomfort. We wouldn’t want the oil companies’ servants to be hampered by something so trivial as climate, after all.

Links:

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/text/refresh/MIATCPAT4+shtml/221908.shtml

Arctic Sea Ice Continues Inexorable Plunge Toward New Record Lows

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Today, Arctic sea ice continued its record plunge. Measurements for sea ice area from Cryosphere Today were 2,968,000 square kilometers or just 63,000 square kilometers above the all time record low. At the current rate of melt, it is likely this record will be breached within the next few days.

Looking at the image above reveals an ailing Arctic ice sheet bearing the scars of multiple large holes and fringed by thin and dispersed sections of ice. With a month of melt still remaining, the sheet appears to have very little in the way of resiliency for new weather impacts coming down the pipe.

Sea ice extent also continued its rapid decline with the Japanese Space Agency showing 4,800,000 square kilometers of sea ice extent, about equal to the third lowest measurement set in 2008.

Image

Meanwhile, a very strong high pressure system has formed directly over the North Pole. This weather pattern tends to draw winds in from the south and lead to sea ice compaction into a smaller mass as well as melt along the fringes. This weather pattern was the dominant one that led to such low sea ice values in 2007. So a shift to this pattern for end of summer 2012 is likely to enhance melt and shrink sea ice even further.

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Please help support our continuing efforts.

Links:

http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/cgi-bin/seaice-monitor.cgi

http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/

http://www.weatherbellmodels.com/weather/ecmwf/2012081700/arctic/ecm_mslp_arctic_11.png

London Scientist: Satellite Data Shows Arctic May Experience Ice Free Summers Within 10 Years

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Dr. Seymore Laxon at University College London’s Center for Polar Observation and Modelling stated on BBC News today that Arctic Ice is melting faster than scientists had previously warned. Scientists headed by Laxon analyzed satellite data from the European Space Agency Cryosat to determine sea ice volume trends. They found that since 2004, the Arctic is losing 900 cubic km of sea ice on average each year. By the end of summer 2011, only 7000 cubic kilometers of sea ice remained.

These preliminary results showed that, if current melt rates continue, the Arctic could see ice free periods during summer starting in less than 10 years.

“We have to be cautious until our data has been properly analysed as part of a climate model, but this does suggest that the Arctic might be ice-free in summer for a day at least by the end of the decade,” Laxon told BBC News.

These ice loss rates are troubling for many reasons. First, the rate of loss is more than 50% greater than scientists had previously estimated. Further, loss of large areas of ice coverage reduce albedo (reflectivity). Darker ocean areas absorb more sunlight than white, reflective sea ice. And though many have been callous to the loss of key species in the Arctic, increasing rates of ice loss could drive many species to extinction or unexpected and radical adaptation.

The Polar Science Center has also provided sea ice volume data that shows ice free periods during summer could occur within less than ten years. The statement by Laxon is the first secondary confirmation of this report.

Links:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19244895

https://robertscribbler.wordpress.com/2012/03/18/arctic-sea-ice-melt-methane-release-shows-amplifying-feedbacks-from-human-caused-climate-change/

July 2012: Hottest Month Since Record-Keeping Began in 1895

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According to a recent report by NOAA, July 2012 was the hottest month since record-keeping began back in 1895. NOAA data showed that the average temperature for the United States was 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit, .2 degrees hotter than the previous record set back in July of 1936.

The hottest month on record coincides with the hottest 12 month period ever recorded in the United States. The heat, which has spurred drought conditions over 63 percent of the United States, has had a severe impact on US Agriculture.

NASA scientist James Hansen and other climate scientists have repeatedly warned that heating events such as this year’s US drought, the Texas drought of 2011, and the Russian drought of 2010, are likely to become more common as human-caused global warming intensifies. A few days ago, NASA published a paper showing that extreme temperature events are currently likely to occur with ten year frequency. In the 1951-1980 period, comparable events were likely to occur only once every 300 years.

A number of newspapers have made statements to the effect that we should hope that atmospheric conditions change soon. And though, eventually, this drought will end, unless something is done about worldwide human greenhouse gas emissions, these kinds of extreme events will continue to recur and worsen.

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