Arctic Emergency: Top Scientists Explain How Arctic Warming is Wrecking Our Weather and Pushing World To Rapidly Cross Climate Tipping Points

(Must-watch video that includes direct observation and analysis of Arctic tipping points provided by a number of the world’s top climate scientists.)

You don’t want to mess with Arctic warming. It’s an engine of destruction straining to be set loose. A mad burning beast of a thing. One whose fires we are now in the process of stoking to dangerous extremes.

Don’t believe me? Then just listen to top scientists like Dr. Jennifer Francis, Dr. Jason Box, Dr. Jeff Masters, Dr. Natalia Shakhova, Dr. Igor Semiletov, Dr. Peter Wadhams, Dr. James Hansen, Dr. Steve Vavrus, Dr. Ron Prinn, Dr. Kevin Schaefer, Dr. Nikita Zimov, Dr. Jorien Vonk, and a growing list of many, many more (also see above video).

An Arctic that Appears on the Verge of Large Carbon Emissions Adding to an Already Dangerous Human Warming

At issue is the fact that the Arctic is very sensitive to global heat forcing. And any small warming there can rapidly trigger a number of feedbacks that generate more warming for the Arctic and the globe. These feedbacks include but are not limited to:

Snow and sea ice melt resulting in darker surfaces absorbing more sunlight during summer times, a warming global ocean system transporting a high percentage of the added heat north and southward along the ocean bottom and at the surface, rising temperatures in the Arctic slowing and increasing the waviness of the Jet Stream which generates more south to north transfer of temperate and tropical warmth into the Arctic together with a greater export of Arctic cold to the lower latitudes, added greenhouse gasses resulting in much warmer Arctic winters during the times of darkness when greenhouse gas trapping of long wave radiation is most efficient, and an increasing release of carbon from stores sequestered in the Arctic for millions of years, adding to the overall greenhouse gas burden in this, very sensitive, region.

Many of these feedbacks and resulting weather alterations are now in play.

We have observed sea ice reductions of up to 80 percent in total volume losses together with major snow cover reductions since the 1970s. We have observed substantial and growing releases of methane from the Arctic environment in the form of emissions in the region of the submerged permafrost on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. We have witnessed strange methane emissions emerging in the smoke of major wildfires that have spread over large regions of the Arctic during summer. We’ve seen very troubling emissions in the form of methane eruptions coming from the permafrost and possibly reaching as deep as the methane clathrate layer beneath the permafrost. We’ve seen increasing methane releases from permafrost melt lakes. And we’ve seen increasing CO2 emissions from the dry decay of permafrost and from the direct burning of permafrost and boreal forests by Arctic wildfires.

Trio of Siberian Wildfires August 3, 2014

(Trio of massive Siberian Wildfires raging on August 3, 2014. Burn scar size ranges from 90 to 350+ square miles. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

In total, according to scientists in the above video, under an unmitigated and continuously rising heat forcing from human greenhouse gas emissions, the Arctic could release 120 gigatons of carbon or more by the end of this century. Given that humans now dump 13 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere each year, the Arctic emission would be like adding another decade of current human emissions on top of an already rapidly warming system. Even worse, a significant portion of the Arctic¬† carbon emission could appear in the form of methane — a gas that traps heat far more rapidly than CO2, equaling a heat forcing that is about 60 times CO2 by volume.

A Call From Scientists For Rapid Mitigation

It is important to note that, though strange and terrifying as they may be, current Arctic feedbacks and related carbon emissions are minor when compared to the changes we will unlock if we continue to release greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Under BAU, it is possible that we will set in place a regime of Arctic carbon emissions that is equal to 30% or more of the current human greenhouse gas emission. This sizeable release would likely then last for centuries until much of the Arctic carbon store of 1,500+ gigatons locked in permafrost and untold other gigatons locked in clathrates were exhausted. Such releases would result in a mini-runaway that could lock in dangerous hothouse climate conditions for millions of years to come.

Due to the extreme nature of the current situation, some damage is now unavoidable, as we probably hit at least 2-3 C warming long term even if human greenhouse gas emissions suddenly halt. But major damage can still be prevented through direct and coordinated action on the part of nations.  For this reason, climate scientists are calling for an 80% or greater reduction in near term human greenhouse gas emissions. A strong direct urging from some of the best scientists in the world and one that we should take very seriously as it is becoming increasingly obvious that the Arctic is now in the process of crossing a number of extremely dangerous tipping points.

I implore you to watch the above video and to do everything in your power to support policies that rapidly draw down the human greenhouse gas emission. Our timeframe window for effective response is rapidly closing and we need swift, direct action now.

Links:

Arctic Emergency — Scientists Speak

The Arctic Methane Monster Exhales

LANCE-MODIS

 

 

 

 

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Open Climate Question For Next Presidential Debate: How Will You Deal With What NASA Scientists Are Calling a Global Climate Emergency?

This year, James Hansen, head of NASA’s GISS division warned that the world is experiencing a global climate emergency. Around the world, scientists are making increasingly dire warnings about what is happening to our climate. Links between extreme weather and our production of greenhouse gasses have been firmly established. The human driven heating is causing the Arctic sea ice to disappear, perhaps in as soon as a few years. The US has just experienced 12 years of extraordinarily dry conditions and a year of record drought. And the world is teetering on the edge of a climate-change driven food crisis.

Yet this year’s Presidential debates have been stunningly silent on the issue of climate change. In our politics, denial of the events occurring just outside are becoming increasingly loud and shrill. And millions and millions of dollars in oil, gas, and coal campaign contributions are enforcing an unprecedented silence on an issue of growing emergency and immediacy even as they encourage an increased exploitation of the very fuels that are causing our climate nightmare.

Within 10-20 years it is possible that the American grain belt will be well on its way to becoming a desert. Within 10 years, it is likely that the Arctic sea ice will be gone and a very intense period of ice melt will begin for Greenland, greatly accelerating the rate of sea level rise. Within 30 years, it is likely that the world’s oceans will be highly acidic, less likely to produce food for humans, and almost entirely devoid of corals. By the end of this century, it is likely that much of the world will be rendered a wasteland by 1000 ppm CO2. All this if we continue down the path of unmitigated extraction and burning of fossil fuels.

So it is for this reason that I’m submitting a simple, direct question for the prospective leader of the United States for the next four years in the upcoming Presidential Debate:

Please address the issue of what climate scientists have identified as an ongoing, climate change induced US drought and growing prospects for world hunger. Please address the issue of shrinking Arctic sea ice, more than 50% smaller than in the 1980s, record Greenland ice melt, and what appears to be increasing risk of rapid ocean rise. Please explain how you will avoid a devastating rise to 1000 ppm CO2 by the end of this century. Please address how you will deal with what NASA scientists are calling a global climate emergency.

If you agree with this question, please feel free to either copy, paste, and re-post it or to link, share, or re-tweet this blog. If you would like to ask an open climate question of your own, please do so on any social network of your choosing. The idea is to spread the word in the best way possible. So please participate in some way! Please let your voice be heard!

This is a question we are all currently involved in answering. And if we stay silent, then the answer is we will do nothing and the worst events are almost certain to occur. But if we speak up. If we make our voices heard, they still have a chance to make a difference. To stop the worst impacts of a climate change nightmare caused by our ever-increasing burning of fossil fuels.

Please also take part by signing this Change.org Petition for a Presidential debate question on climate change:

http://www.change.org/petitions/ask-about-climate-change-at-the-presidential-debates

Best to you all! And please don’t forget to lift your voices and BE HEARD!

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