Support the Arctic Sea Ice Forum and Blog

Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Topics - wili

Pages: [1]
Consequences / 2018 Droughts
« on: January 12, 2018, 07:03:15 AM »
The World’s First Major City to Run Out of Water May Have Just Over Three Months Left
    It’s the height of summer in Cape Town, and the southwesternmost region of South Africa is gripped by a catastrophic water shortage. Unless the city adopts widespread rationing, the government says, the taps “will be turned off” on April 22, 2018, because there will be no more water to deliver.

        ... “It’s not an impending crisis—we’re deep, deep, deep in crisis.”

Cape Town, South Africa, Is Running Out of Water

Cape Town, home to more than 4 million, is in the midst of the worst drought to hit South Africa in more than 100 years.

City officials say they will “turn off the tap” in April when dam levels are expected to reach 13.5 percent of capacity.

The situation is dire. Dams supplying the city with usable water dropped this week to 29.7 percent, the city of Cape Town posted to Facebook on Wednesday. Only 19.7 percent of the water is usable. Several times a day, the city encourages residents via social media to conserve water.

Mayor De Lille says she hopes it won’t come down to Day Zero, but the city is already planning for that eventuality. Should the city be forced to turn off the taps, 200 water stations guarded by police and the military will be set up to ration out roughly 6.6 gallons (25 liters) of water per day per resident.

Cape Town isn’t the only city dealing with water issues in a warming world.

The World Wildlife Fund estimates two-thirds of the world may face water shortages by 2025 as droughts become more frequent because of global warming.

thnx to vox at poforums for these

Policy and solutions / Media (Lack of) CC Coverage
« on: December 07, 2017, 09:03:42 PM »
Apologies if there is already a thread on this, but I couldn't find it. Mods, please feel free to merge with any relevant existing thread.

Climate change is the story you missed in 2017. And the media is to blame

Some of Trump’s tweets generate more national coverage than devastating disasters. As the weather gets worse, we need journalism to get better

makes disasters like hurricanes worse, or how Donald Trump threw paper towels at Puerto Ricans?

If you answered the latter, you have plenty of company. Academic Jennifer Good analyzed two weeks of hurricane coverage during the height of hurricane season on eight major TV networks, and found that about 60% of the stories included the word Trump, and only about 5% mentioned climate change.

Consequences / Venezuala SHUT DOWN for a Week--No Electricity
« on: March 17, 2016, 08:35:22 PM »
Venezuela to Shut Down for a Week to Cope With Electricity Crisis

The Guri dam, which is the source of 65% of all of Venezuela’s electricity, is less than four meters from reaching the level where power generation will be impossible, according to experts interviewed by Latin American Herald Tribune.

As GW proceeds, we will see such things more and more, both because of drought depriving damns of the power that drives hydro, and because water sources will become too hot to cool nuclear power plants.

Yet another reason that these are not the best bets for major investments for our energy future.

The roots of Venezuela's horrific electricity crisis:
The country is shutting down for an entire week after a series of rolling blackouts.

I know that this should go in surface temperatures, but these are pretty stunning milestones to fall so soon after the COP21 agreement that aimed to keep the earth below these limits.

Yes, these are monthly and daily, not yearly records yet. And the daily 2C was for the Northern Hemisphere.

I still find these records terrifying and stunning.

Update, March 3, 2016: Since this post was originally published, the heat wave has continued. As of Thursday morning, it appears that average temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere have breached the 2 degrees Celsius above “normal” mark for the first time in recorded history, and likely the first time since human civilization began thousands of years ago. That mark has long been held (somewhat arbitrarily) as the point above which climate change may begin to become "dangerous" to humanity. It's now arrived—though very briefly—much more quickly than anticipated. This is a milestone moment for our species. Climate change deserves our greatest possible attention.

February of 2016 Was 1.5 to 1.7 C Above 1880s Averages

Nick Stokes, a retired climate scientist and blogger over at Moyhu, published an analysis of the recently released preliminary data from NCAR and the indicator is just absolutely off the charts high. According to this analysis, February temperatures may have been as much as 1.44 C hotter than the 1951 to 1980 NASA baseline. Converting to departures from 1880s values, if these preliminary estimates prove correct, would put the GISS figure at an extreme 1.66 C hotter than 1880s levels for February. If GISS runs 0.1 C cooler than NCAR conversions, as it has over the past few months, then the 1880 to February 2016 temperature rise would be about 1.56 C. Both are insanely high jumps that hint 2016 could be quite a bit warmer than even 2015.

Consequences / CC and Terrorism
« on: November 16, 2015, 05:12:07 PM »

Why Climate Change and Terrorism Are Connected

This seemed particularly topical given recent events.

Drought in Syria has contributed to instability

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders used the terrorist attacks in Paris to call for action to address climate change at a primary debate Saturday. But, while the plea attracted ridicule across the political spectrum, many academics and national security experts agree that climate change contributes to an uncertain world where terrorism can thrive.

Consequences / Hot Earth Dreams--The Future In A Hot World
« on: November 16, 2015, 02:45:01 AM »

The introduction and first five chapters of this book are provided here for free. The book is an attempt to lay out what the world will look like in a century, in a couple millennia, and in a few hundreds of thousands of years, under worst case GW scenarios.

I would be interested in what others think about some of his prognoses. WRT topics most relevant to this site, he seems to be, to my mind, a bit optimistic or understated (uninformed?) about the potential consequences of methane releases from both sea beds and from permafrost (the latter of which he doesn't seem to even mention). But he has rather...advanced...ideas about aslr (ASLR, please take note!).

I would be most interested in peoples thoughts and critiques. I'd rather hear others' points first before sharing many of my own. Is anyone else planning on working on a book like this. It seems to me that some of us here could do a somewhat better job of some parts of this, at least.

Arctic Background / Pollution in the Arctic
« on: November 07, 2015, 08:17:26 PM »
(Mods, please merge this if there is already a thread on this general topic.)

One of the changes we will see as things melt and thaw in the Arctic is new toxins entering the system, or at least in newly high levels of concentration. And of course there will be many other sources of pollution as oil exploration and shipping increase, wildfires rage, and other pollutants make their way to the top of the world. While obviously something that will affect the wildlife there, it seemed to me to be a discreet topic worthy of its own thread. Here's one article to kick it off:

Arctic Mercury Pollution To Increase as Permafrost Thaws

Thawing Arctic permafrost may well unleash a new wave of toxic mercury pollution, say scientists, contributing to ongoing mercury poisoning issues in parts of the region.

Mercury poisoning harms wildlife and causes developmental and neurological damage in human fetuses and children.

These soils were frozen year round as recently as 10 to 20 years ago, but now thaw and re-freeze annually, said lead author Dwayne Elias, a microbiologist with the Oak Ridge National Laboratories, a federally-owned research center in the United States.

As the freeze-thaw cycle continues in coming years, he said, bacteria that contain the genes needed to convert inorganic mercury to its toxic form, called methyl mercury, will “wake up from being dormant for thousands and thousands of years.”

Groundwater will transport this methyl mercury into rivers and streams that game animals such as moose and caribou drink from, he said. Those water flows will also carry the mercury into coastal habitats of marine mammals and fish.


An unprecedented analysis of North Pacific ocean circulation over the past 1.2 million years has found that sea ice formation in coastal regions is a key driver of deep ocean circulation, influencing climate on regional and global scales.

Coastal sea ice formation takes place on relatively small scales, however, and is not captured well in global climate models, according to scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who conducted the study.

A paper on the new findings will be published in a future issue of the journal Paleoceanography and is currently available online.

“We have identified an important process that current global climate models don’t adequately capture. Coastal sea ice formation may be important to future climate change because the arctic and subarctic regions are warming at twice the rate of other parts of the world,” said first author Karla Knudson, a graduate student in Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz.

This seemed like pretty big news, relevant to what we follow here, so worthy of its own thread.

Consequences / 2015 wildfire season
« on: July 14, 2015, 02:03:22 AM »
We're already approaching record-breaking territory--nearly 12 million acres in Alaska and Canada so far--and there's plenty more to burn. I couldn't find a thread on this, but there's been a lot going on, and more to come.

The smoke, soot, and ultimately CO2 can have various effects on ice melt, as well, so it seems particularly important to have a thread keeping track of not only the fires, but also their immediate and long term consequences, and the broader contexts...

To kick it off, here's something from the SkS facebook page:

The stunning statistic that puts this year’s Alaskan wildfires in perspective

Every day they update the numbers. And every day, the number of acres burned in Alaska seems to leap higher yet again.

As of Monday, it is at 4,447,182.2 acres, according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center — a total that puts the 2015 wildfire season in sixth place overall among worst seasons on record. It’s very likely to move into fifth place by Tuesday — and it’s still just mid-July. There is a long way to go.

According to the Center, 2015 is now well ahead of the rate of burn seen in the worst year ever, 2004, when  6,590,140 acres burned in 701 fires. “Fire acreage totals are more than 14 days ahead of 2004”...

But it isn’t just Alaska — even more acres have burned this year across Canada. As of Sunday, 2,924,503.01 hectares had burned in 4,921 fires — and a hectare is much bigger than an acre. In fact, it’s about 2.47 of them. Thus, some 7,223,522 acres had burned in Canada as of Sunday. In Canada, too, wildfire activity this year is well above average levels.

Overall, the 2015 Canadian and Alaskan fire seasons have seen 11,670,704 acres burned so far, based on these numbers. (Which are always growing larger.) ...

Alaska is 80 percent underlain by permafrost, and Canada is 50 percent underlain by it.

 These frozen soils now have a large number of fires burning atop them, and when permafrost thaws, it can begin to release carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, worsening global warming.

Policy and solutions / DEADLINE 2018: No New Carbon Infrastructure
« on: July 06, 2015, 06:27:56 PM »

A Hard Deadline: We Must Stop Building New Carbon Infrastructure by 2018

    In only three years there will be enough fossil fuel-burning stuff—cars, homes, factories, power plants, etc.—built to blow through our carbon budget for a 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise. Never mind staying below a safer, saner 1.5°C of global warming. The relentless laws of physics have given us a hard, non-negotiable deadline, making G7 statements about a fossil fuel-phase out by 2100 or a weak deal at the UN climate talks in Paris irrelevant.

    “By 2018, no new cars, homes, schools, factories, or electrical power plants should be built anywhere in the world, ever again unless they’re either replacements for old ones or are carbon neutral?

    Are you sure I worked that out right?” I asked Steve Davis of the University of California, co-author of a new climate study.

    “We didn’t go that far in our study. But yes, your numbers are broadly correct. That’s what this study means,” Davis told me...

    ...if we continue to build new fossil fuel burning stuff at the average rate of the last five years, we’ll make enough new carbon commitments to blow through our 2°C carbon budget sometime in 2018.

    “Is that really where we are?” I asked Davis.

    There was a pause, and I could hear the happy sounds of children playing from his end of the phone. Eventually Davis said “yes, that’s where we find ourselves.”...

    ...I sent out emails to leading scientists in different countries practically begging them to tell me I screwed up the math or something. “It’s a different way of looking at where we are but you’ve got it right,” they said.

    2018 is less than three years away and hardly anyone is talking about this.

Arctic sea ice / Arctic Sea Ice Loss--Reversible?
« on: April 29, 2015, 04:26:35 PM »
Arctic Sea Ice Loss Likely To Be Reversible
Scenarios of a sea ice tipping point leading to a permanently ice-free Arctic Ocean were based on oversimplified arguments

They created a model that bridged the gap between the process models and the GCMs, and they used it to determine what caused sea ice tipping points to occur in some models but not in others.

“We found that two key physical processes, which were often overlooked in previous process models, were actually essential for accurately describing whether sea ice loss is reversible,” said Eisenman, a professor of climate dynamics at Scripps Oceanography. “One relates to how heat moves from the tropics to the poles and the other is associated with the seasonal cycle. None of the relevant previous process modeling studies had included both of these factors, which led them to spuriously identify a tipping point that did not correspond to the real world.”

“Our results show that the basis for a sea ice tipping point doesn’t hold up when these additional processes are considered,” said Wagner. “In other words, no tipping point is likely to devour what’s left of the Arctic summer sea ice. So if global warming does soon melt all the Arctic sea ice, at least we can expect to get it back if we somehow manage to cool the planet back down again.”


Consequences / Limits To Growth Predicts Collapse in 2015
« on: April 08, 2015, 06:25:31 PM »


The Limits to Growth “standard run” (or business-as-usual, BAU) scenario produced about forty years ago aligns well with historical data that has been updated in this paper. The BAU scenario results in collapse of the global economy and environment (where standards of living fall at rates faster than they have historically risen due to disruption of normal economic functions), subsequently forcing population down.

Although the modeled fall in population occurs after about 2030—with death rates rising from 2020 onward, reversing contemporary trends—the general onset of collapse first appears at about 2015 when per capita industrial output begins a sharp decline.

Obviously, these dates were never intended to be precise to the year. Still, the fact that such a prescient study pinpoints this year as the one where long-term collapse gets underway in earnest is...notable.

(Thanks to hank at realclimate for this link.)

Arctic Background / Brief lecture by Box on Arctic conditions
« on: March 22, 2015, 08:41:19 PM »
"Jason Box at Economist Arctic Summit 2015"

Includes a list of feedbacks not currently in most major climate models.

Consequences / We're Totally F**ked: Albert Bates' Year in Review 2014
« on: January 13, 2015, 10:39:02 PM »

Published on Jan 4, 2015

There is a really angry beast at the gates. A hundred thousand years ago it gave us an extraordinary gift, and by delicately, respectfully, reverently abiding within a dance of life and death with that gift, we won an extraordinary, unprecedented run of the perfect global climate for mammalian life, capped by 12000 years of exceptionally good days. And what did we do? We blew it off for an infatuation with muscle cars and motorcycles.

Here then is what we learned about our future in 2014.

Consequences / GW Migration / Climate Refugees
« on: January 08, 2015, 10:04:49 PM »
I saw this article and I didn't notice a thread for it to fit well into, so I thought I'd start this one. There already are, and there will be more and more, climate refugees as effects become more and more intense and permanently devastating.

Prepare for rising migration driven by climate change, governments told

Governments should plan for increased relocations for millions of people likely to be displaced by natural disasters and extreme weather linked to global warming, scientists warn. Projections by leading climate scientists of rising sea levels, heatwaves, floods and droughts linked to global warming are likely to oblige millions of people to move out of harm’s way, with some never able to return.

    ... Chaloka Beyani, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, told Reuters that governments should step up planning for migrants.

    “For the future we are looking more to planned relocations for people who are prone to frequent hazards,” he said.

    ... Climate change also added reasons for people to leave home by disrupting food and water supplies. “Access to resources, constrained by climatic factors, breeds conflict,” he said.

Is your area most likely to be a place where such refugees are flowing out of or into. If the latter, what will the likely response to potentially huge waves of such refugees likely be?

Consequences / 2015 El Niño?
« on: November 14, 2014, 10:34:57 AM »
Since I started the 2014 thread, I guess that makes it my responsibility to start the new one. Thanks though to sleepy for pointing out that the old thread was becoming quickly irrelevant.

Lord D. Vader posted a graph that showed very high predicted values for mid 2015: the mid-range dashed line near +2 with a clutch of models at +3 or above.

What do we think about latest NOAA forecast for NINO3.4-index? Answer: highly interesting!!!

But the current graph on the NOAA PDF (p.26) shows more a moderate upswing over that period. The latter seems to be a corrected version.

Can any veteran El Nino watchers tell us whether such corrections are frequent at that site (or just illuminate us as to what is going on with this discrepancy)?

Consequences / IPCC possible scenario: 9 C over next century or so
« on: October 15, 2014, 04:45:38 AM »


This seems about as addle brained as most of the mainstream stuff on CO2 emissions reduction, but it may provide a point to start useful discussions. Also, having been presented to the UN, it is presumably getting more attention internationally than the humble ramblings of posters to these threads :(:

A draft of the report, called the “Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project,” was delivered to the United Nations on Tuesday. It was developed by researchers working in the 15 countries that have the highest CO2 emissions and shows how each of those countries could rapidly reduce its emissions by 2050.

International negotiators looking to strike a climate deal have agreed to try to limit warming to 2°C. And scientists have outlined how much more carbon we can emit to likely keep warming below 2°C, calling it a carbon budget. It’s just like a household budget except going over it could increase the likelihood of major sea level rise, an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme heat events, and a rapid decline in Arctic sea ice.

I don't want to post the whole article here, but there is much to criticize. Rather than doing all that myself here right away, I though others might like to have at it, first.

What do you see as the weaknesses (and strengths, if you find any) of this report?

Here's the link to the executive summary for the main report:

ETA: Here's at least one passage that seems...realistic:

The IPCC AR5 Working Group 3 (WG3) calculates that in the absence of additional commitments to reduce GHG emissions, the world is on a trajectory to an increase in global mean temperature of 3.7°C to 4.8°C compared to pre-industrial levels. When accounting for full climate uncertainty, this range extends from 2.5°C to 7.8°C by the end of the century.

When even as conservative and toned down a group as IPCC is talking about basically 8 degrees C rise by 2100, you know we are truly in deep, deep trouble.

Here's the largish pdf for the full report (218 pages):

ETA again: on page 34, they have a nice little formula:

CO2 emissions = Population x (GDP/Population) x (Energy/GDP) x (CO2/Energy)

It is the first and last of the element on the right side of the equation that are most talked about. Some insiders do talk about the 'carbon intensity' of the economy. But really it should be blindingly obvious that the only one of these elements that can be changed essentially instantly is the second--GDP/Population. Since it has become clear that increasing this number does not necessarily increase happiness, this clearly is where we should be making the most and fastest changes, with some care to do so in ways that do the least substantial harm. But instead they take as assumed a 'rising trajectory' of GDP/Population, since as the economist (that many of these experts seem to be), increasing the GDP/Population ration is the highest of all conceivable values in the universe...

Antarctica / Antarctic ecosystems
« on: June 23, 2014, 06:36:04 PM »
I think we have a thread somewhere on changing sea life in the Arctic, so I thought I'd start one on the Antarctic, but include land species/ecosystems, inspired (if that's the right word) by this recent piece:

Icebergs Strip Away Rich Antarctic Habitat

A once-rich habitat in the Antarctic has become an impoverished zone as icebergs, increasingly breaking free from the surrounding sea ice because of global warming, scour the shallow-water rocks and boulders on which a diversity of creatures cling to life.

A report in the journal Current Biology says that researchers who carried out a survey dive in 2013 at Lagoon Island, off the West Antarctic Peninsula, discovered that “no live mega or macro-fauna can be found, the first time this has been observed there, despite being regularly visited by scientific divers since 1997”.

David Barnes, of the British Antarctic Survey, and colleagues report that boulders on the seabed near the Rothera research station had once been richly encrusted with creatures that competed for living space. Now such rocks might only support a single species.

(Mods, please merge or set this in more appropriate place if this isn't it.)


As climate change melts Arctic permafrost and releases large amounts of methane into the atmosphere, it is creating a feedback loop that is "certain to trigger additional warming," according to the lead scientist of a new study investigating Arctic methane emissions.

The study released this week examined 71 wetlands across the globe and found that melting permafrost is creating wetlands known as fens, which are unexpectedly emitting large quantities of methane. Over a 100-year timeframe, methane is about 35 times as potent as a climate change-driving greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and over 20 years, it's 84 times more potent.
(Schindel et al. 2006 puts that last figure at 105.)

...a spike in global methane concentrations in the atmosphere seen since 2007 can be traced back to the formation of fens in areas where permafrost once existed...

“Methane emissions are one example of a positive feedback between ecosystems and the climate system,” Turetsky said. “The permafrost carbon feedback is one of the important and likely consequences of climate change, and it is certain to trigger additional warming.”

“Even if we ceased all human emissions, permafrost would continue to thaw and release carbon into the atmosphere,” Turetsky said. “Instead of reducing emissions, we currently are on track with the most dire scenario considered by the IPCC. There is no way to capture emissions from thawing permafrost as this carbon is released from soils across large regions of land in very remote spaces.”

..."It's not to say at some point it won't become an issue," Schmidt said, adding that there is evidence of many "methane burps" across the globe in the very distant past.

"The planet is very capable of surprising us," he said.

Policy and solutions / The Degrowth Imperative
« on: April 24, 2014, 07:54:06 PM »
The linked video is a presentation by ecologist William Rees on the concept of and necessity for economic degrowth.

However unlikely to happen, it seems the most humane plan if it could be carried out. It is essentially a planned collapse followed by a stable-state economy. Most of the talk is about where we are and how we got here. It's a bit bumpy at the beginning, so be patient.

Much of the question period is quite good, too.

This from sidd at RC. Apologies if it's already been posted elsewhere:

New paper on DEM and mass waste for Greenland and Antarctica from Cryosat-2

Greenland: Mass loss doubled in between the periods 2003-2008 and 2011-2012
The latter period saw rates of 353 +/- 29 Km^3/yr or approx 1mm/yr sea level rise

My rough estimation is that this rate (or a bit worse) of increase would lead to more than a meter of sea level rise by about mid century. Should we expect then the rate to keep accelerating till it's all gone? Or will the rate rise then fall again in a Gaussian bell curve?

Consequences / Flora and Fauna Changes in a Thawing Arctic Ocean
« on: February 27, 2014, 12:55:17 AM »
I couldn't figure out which thread to put this in so I started this one. But it could be a place to keep track of all the shifts in biological life that are and will be going on in the Arctic Ocean as it warms and becomes more ice free.

Whales Moving Into Thawed Arctic Ocean

Microphones submerged in the waters of the Bering Strait recorded an increasing number of whale calls from 2009 to 2012, including some from whales that normally live further south. The whales may have expanded north as the Arctic warmed and the animals’ populations recovered from hunting.

The increase in whale numbers coincided with more ship traffic in the region. More shipping could lead to whales being injured or killed in collisions and interfere with whale communications.


This looks to be a good series of articles from an excellent site that seemed particularly relevant here and worthy of our consideration.

A Historical Perspective on Arctic Warming: Part One
Posted on 28 January 2014 by robert way

During her most recent Senate testimony, Dr. Judith Curry (Georgia Tech) repeated one of the most common misconceptions found in the blogosphere, that the Arctic was warmer than present during the 1940s. This period - known as the Early Century Warm Period (ECWP) - coincides with observations of reduced Arctic sea ice cover and allowed for more widespread ship navigation than during the late 1800s and early 1900s (Johanessen et al. 2004)....

...Based on the data presented above there is virtually no evidence that Arctic air temperatures were greater than present during any previous period of the last century. This is clearly a case where the IPCC should consider amending its text to provide a more accurate picture of Arctic temperature changes. In Part Two the Early Century Warm Period will be discussed in the context of its causes and origins.

Policy and solutions / Warming Arctic: A Hyper-Strategic Crisis
« on: January 24, 2014, 11:01:45 PM »
...Because of climate change, the Arctic is warming and melting. This new environmental status attracts the attention and strategies of the Russian, Chinese, U.S. and others governments, as well as those of energy, mining and fishing companies (Klare, The Race for What’s Left, 2012). However, basically, this new geophysical situation is triggering what is the mother of all strategic crisis: the long planetary hyper-strategic crisis.

The rapid and expanding melting of the summer ice cap and the warming of the Arctic Sea and surrounding land turns the region into a new attractor, given the huge reserves in oil, gas and other geological resources...

However, this raises a major question: Are these “Arctic grand strategies” not threatened by the new environmental situation of the Arctic, even if that very change is precisely the reason for their existence and development? Arctic warming might be the environmental global change moment of the “paradoxical logic of strategy” (Edward Luttwak, Strategy: the logic of war and peace, 1987), when strategies designed to successfully attain a certain set of goals are turning into strategies leading to failure.

The interaction between the Arctic and global warming is something new in human strategic history, because it turns the meeting of geography and geophysics in this region into a new, strange power of geophysical nature, which we shall name here the “Arctic environmental power”, which exercises itself on a planetary scale, with massive consequences....

In other words, Arctic warming is the strategic equivalent of an undeclared and permanent global geo-economic and geophysical war on globalization and nations, through the multiplication of extreme weather events and ocean acidification, and their combined cascades of social, economic and political effects.

I frankly don't know what to make of this. A lot of it seems to be stating the obvious. It is certainly a good idea to think about the consequences of all the changes that are happening in the Arctic--geo-political, economic, military, well as ecological--in some kind of holistic way, but this piece seems to me to just barely scratch the surface.

Anyway, since it has an Arctic focus, it does seem worth a thread here. Perhaps others can make more of it than I can right now? What are the best insights? What dots aren't being connected here?

Consequences / 2014 El Nino?
« on: January 19, 2014, 09:05:59 PM »
We may be on the way to a major El Nino event:

Meanwhile, there is new info on the likelihood and consequences of more "super-El Nino's" as GW proceeds apace:
Climate Change Could Double Likelihood of Super El Ninos[/size]

Under greenhouse warming the eastern equatorial Pacific warms faster than the surrounding regions . . . making it easier to have maximum SST (sea surface temperatures) in the eastern equatorial Pacific, and hence more occurrences of extreme El Nino events

(I know that this topic has come up on various threads, but it seemed of great enough potential consequence--globally and for the Arctic--to warrant it's own thread.)

Consequences / California weather extremes and climate
« on: January 18, 2014, 06:04:24 AM »
I'm starting a new thread for this rather than just putting it in thread weird weather. If CA were a country, it would be the 9th largest economy in the world.

And it's running out of water.

One town, Willits, has 60 days before it's completely out of water.

San Juan, with over a quarter million people, is in a "Stage 5" water emergency--residents are asked to cut back their in door water consumption by 50%.

Right now, there is no end in sight.

I'm thinking mass migrations are about to happen. But all the surrounding states are in various levels of drought as well.

Here's a link to one story in the MSM:

But I'm more interested in hearing from any folks in that area--how are things looking? How nervous are people about the situation? Are you thinking of leaving?...

Science / What level of CO2 Prevents Ice Ages From Happening?
« on: January 16, 2014, 03:43:19 PM »
A paper last fall by A. Abe-Ouchi, F. Saito, K. Kawamura, M. E. Raymo, J. Okuno, K. Takahashi, and H. Blatter addresses this question.

Insolation-driven 100,000-year glacial cycles and hysteresis of ice-sheet volume

Nature, Vol 500, August 8, 2013, p. 190.

Modeling produces a time plot of ice volume changes over the last 400,000 years that is a close approximation of the usual temperature or [CO2] plots over that period. An especially interesting feature of the modeling results is that if [CO2] is kept constant at 220 ppm across the entire time period, the model still produces the 100 ka ice age cycle with nearly the same curve shape.

 If [CO2] is kept constant 260 ppm, the ice ages completely disappear.

If [CO2] is kept constant at 160 ppm, the ice age frequency is much higher and interglacials are much colder.

These results indicate that [CO2] is critical to gross climate behavior, but that whether [CO2] precedes or lags temperature is not particularly important in ice age-interglacial periodicity and intensity. It also suggests that at 400 ppm of [CO2] descent into another ice age will not be possible.

So the answer seems to be that, if CO2 does not go below 260 ppm, iceages cannot form, no matter what part of the Milankovitch cycle you're in.

(Apologies if this has already been posted here. Thanks to TCFlood at RealClimate for pointing this paper out.)

Two titans of the sustainability movement (for lack of a better word) have gone head to head over how to proceed from here (or at least about how to think about the process). Holmgren is the top permaculture guru and Hopkins the father of the Transition Towns movement.

One really has to read through each position to understand where they are coming from, but briefly:

Holmgren sees the only hope of having anything like a livable planet left after industrialization is to intentionally crash the planetary financial economy. He thinks the global financial system is now fragile enough that a relatively small part of the middle class could bring about it collapse by basically opting out--disengaging from most of the financial economy.

The latter is a good thing to do for all sorts of reasons anyway, and it is these positive reasons that Hopkins would like to emphasize rather than promoting local resilience and permaculture (which now have mostly positive associations, to the extent they have even been heard of in the larger culture) as a means of collapse. Hopkins thinks there are still positive things to get out of the system, and the goal should be to extend the influence of the nascent local organizations up into the city and state levels, in hopes that these in turn can put pressure on national and international levels of governance to do the right thing. He also emphasizes the importance of employing the Buddhist dictum of "skillful means."

The whole discussion brings up many issues battered about around here and on other fora, but here we have major leaders of these alternative movements expressing them openly.

The link to the original Holmgren piece, "Crash on Demand," is here:

Hopkins response " careful what you wish for" is here:

Nicole Foss has also chimed in here:

And I see there is another piece now at the Resilience blog that seems to be related (though I haven't read it yet) called "Economic descent, hopefully with skillful means" here:

Lots to chew on and discuss. Enjoy.

Science / Is Climate Change Already Dangerous (Yes)
« on: January 11, 2014, 05:12:52 AM »
Here's a pretty good overview of the latest science (up to September 2013) on our current predicament:

The whole thing is only 23 pages, and the second chapter is on the Arctic.

It feature's Wipneus's PIOMAS graph, among other things.

One point connected to plans for carbon emissions reductions:

Steinacher, Joos et al. explore the interaction of targets in emissions reductions, focussing on the 2ºC temperature goal. They find that when multiple climate targets are set (such as food production capacity, ocean acidity, atmospheric temperature), “allowable cumulative emissions are greatly reduced from those inferred from the temperature target alone”. In fact, “When we consider all targets jointly, CO2 emissions have to be cut twice as much as if we only want to meet the 2ºC target.”

Policy and solutions / Green Capitalism: The God That Failed
« on: January 10, 2014, 07:20:24 AM »
No amount of "green capitalism" will be able to ensure the profound changes we must urgently make to prevent the collapse of civilization from the catastrophic impacts of global warming.

Agree or disagree, the track record for "green capitalism" is dismal indeed. The most damning passage, to me, was the investigation of the greenest of all green capital venture: Interface carpet tile manufacturer.

Interface has "cut waste sent to landfills by more than half while continuing to increase production," "reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30%," "reduced energy intensity by 45%," while "over 25% of raw materials used in interface carpet are recycled and biobased materials in 2007" and non-sustainable materials consumed per unit of product have declined from 10.2 pounds per square yard in 1996 to 8.6 poujnds per square yard in 2008.(82) Read that last sentence again.

Make no mistake: These are impressive, even heroic, industrial-environmental achievements. But if, after more than a dozen years of sustained effort, the most environmentally dedicated large company in the United States, if not the entire world, can manage to cut non-sustainable inputs from 10.2 pounds per square yard to only 8.6 pounds per square yard of finished product, to inject a mere 25 percent recycled and biobased feedstock into its production process, so still requiring 75 percent of new, mostly petroleum-based nonsustainable feedstock in every unit of production, then the inescapable conclusion must be that even the greenest businesses are also on course to "destroy the world."

Naomi Kline, iirc, has concluded that science itself is essentially telling us that an immediate global revolution against industrial capitalism is a requirement for any possibility of future complex life on earth.

Wadya'll think?

Policy and solutions / Creating a viable future path for civilization
« on: January 10, 2014, 05:49:55 AM »
While I have some problems with some elements of this guy's approach (as I would with pretty much anyone's), I do think he is hitting many of the themes often brought up here, with an added psychological dimension we don't always fully address here. The full title of the piece is:

Hope in the Face of Disaster – Creating a sustainable, viable, future path for civilization

(I'll say right up front that I usually avoid any work that has either the words 'hope' or 'sustainable' in the title, since they are usually bs.)


Taking a long term view, this paper explores the many crises that civilization and humanity will face over the coming decades some of which are already starting to have an impact. The paper proposes a central cause to these crises and particularly explores the widespread psychological inertia in the face of these vast problems. Some potential constructive choices that individuals, communities and nations could yet make are outlined.

So what do I like about it? For one, some of the metaphors, for example in the "Where is civilization heading section" :

Like the philosopher in the story at the beginning it is useful to take a moment to climb the ‘tallest tree’ and to consider where civilisation is heading. Unfortunately the long term vista is not pleasant. Under the current business as usual economic model we are facing into a series of interrelated crises and global problems that are already beginning to have an impact.

Having spent much of my childhood in or near the tops of trees, I appreciate the metaphor, and it really gets to how little heed we have given to those who have bothered to actually climb the damn knowledge trees to figure out what is coming at us.

Much in the "Why is no one listening?" section is particularly good, too. It is a bit disappointing to see the Kubler-Ross stuff trotted out without much reflection, but that's kind of to be expected, and it is not altogether unuseful here.

The big conflict for me is between: "Honestly Accepting Reality" and "Creating a Positive Vision"--basically the more honest I am about reality to people, the less I am able to create a vision that will look positive. But still, the author has some very quotable statements in the latter section:

Unless we inspire people to act immediately, even a chance of a sustainable future will be lost. Every day that is passed without changing course makes a survival future less likely. We also have to be realistic about what is achievable. While we cannot avoid two degrees of warming, (which though catastrophic might be survivable) we can do a lot now to avoid four degrees (which will result in wide-spread collapse for human society).

Ultimately, my main problem is with the word "hope." He seems to use it in a different way than is it's common (often manipulative, political) use. For example his V. Havel quote: "Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out." I'm not sure what the Czech word is here, but for most people I know of 'hope' does indeed imply that something can turn out well, and specifically well for the person expressing hope. Hence the absurdity of Kafka's dictum: "There is hope, but not for us."

I think we do, indeed, need a word to express "certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out," but 'hope' does not seem to be a good candidate, to me. Of course, words change meaning all the time, and maybe that can be a new meaning for 'hope'--let's just say I am not very 'hopeful' that such a meaning change can happen quickly without massive confusion.

The other point about 'hope' is that it, like 'success' and many others, is a scalar/empty word. It has no meaning without context--hope for what? There is certainly hope to reduce one's contribution to the problem by some degree. Hope to form community, to come to a clearer understanding of our predicament...But by itself, "hope," like "success," defaults in meaning to "hope" that we can continue BAU.

But I do encourage people to read the whole thing and come up with their own ideas of what is valuable and what is problematic here, practically as well as semantically.

Consequences / Climate Change and Loss of Species
« on: December 27, 2013, 08:00:10 PM »
I was looking for a place to put this post, but I didn't see a thread of this type and it seems like a kinda important one. Call me a misanthrope, but the even greater tragedy than the collapse of world civilization imho is the loss of creation itself--of the rich diversity of complex life that was the world we inherited and are now destroying. So it seems worthwhile to start one thread devoted to this, to me, central consequence of GW, especially as this is in the midst of being accelerated and exacerbated by Arctic feedbacks. (Neven, please merge this with the appropriate thread if there is already one and I missed it.)

The particular article that got my attention involves an effect that I would never have thought of--as air temperatures increase, some bats will find it harder to hear their own frequencies.

Climate Change May Bode Ill for Bat Populations

As temperatures rise, bats that make the highest frequency squeaks could be at a disadvantage, the authors report. This is because warmer air is more likely to attenuate sound, and therefore limit the range at which a hungry bat can pinpoint its next mouthful.

(So maybe McPherson needs to change the name of his blog to "Nature's Bats DON'T Last":) :(  :'( )

Here's a good (if longish) film on the current mass extinction event to get the conversation going:

Call of Life--Facing the Mass Extinction

Arctic sea ice / Extreme Weather Linked to Vanishing Cryosphere
« on: December 09, 2013, 12:33:44 PM »

Study Adds to Arctic Warming, Extreme Weather Debate

The study, published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change, is the first to find correlations between rapid Arctic warming and extreme summer weather events, since previous research had focused on the links between Arctic warming and fall and winter weather patterns.

Extreme summer weather in northern mid-latitudes linked to a vanishing cryosphere

 Qiuhong Tang,   
Xuejun Zhang   
& Jennifer A. Francis

The past decade has seen an exceptional number of unprecedented summer extreme weather events in northern mid-latitudes, along with record declines in both summer Arctic sea ice and snow cover on high-latitude land. The underlying mechanisms that link the shrinking cryosphere with summer extreme weather, however, remain unclear.

Here, we combine satellite observations of early summer snow cover and summer sea-ice extent with atmospheric reanalysis data to demonstrate associations between summer weather patterns in mid-latitudes and losses of snow and sea ice.

Results suggest that the atmospheric circulation responds differently to changes in the ice and snow extents, with a stronger response to sea-ice loss, even though its reduction is half as large as that for the snow cover.

Atmospheric changes associated with the combined snow/ice reductions reveal widespread upper-level height increases, weaker upper-level zonal winds at high latitudes, a more amplified upper-level pattern, and a general northward shift in the jet stream.

More frequent extreme summer heat events over mid-latitude continents are linked with reduced sea ice and snow through these circulation changes.

(My emphases and formatting.)

Much to ponder here, both from the abstract (and accompanying graphs) and from the excellent CC article (first link).

Science / Scientists Warn about Abrupt Climate Impacts
« on: December 03, 2013, 11:38:30 PM »

Gradual Climate Changes Could Cause Sudden Impacts

Abrupt shifts in the climate have already begun, with more possible by the end of this century according to a report released Tuesday by the National Research Council. At the same time, even gradual changes to the climate could lead to more unforeseen, sudden impacts. The report recommends creating an early warning system, instead of simply reacting to the changes.

Greenhouse gas emissions from human activities have already altered the climate. Most changes have been gradual, but the possibility of abrupt shifts concerns the scientific community. Anthony Barnosky, a paleoecologist at University of California, Berkeley, likened gradual changes to being able to see the road while driving. With unexpected changes, the “road drops out from under you,” he said at a press conference...

When they get down to enumerating impacts, Arctic sea ice loss comes up first:

...The new report highlights shifts that are of growing concern. The precipitous decline of summer Arctic sea ice since 1979, but particularly over the past decade, is one of the most notable sudden changes already occurring. That trend is likely to continue and have a cascade effect on ecosystems in the region as well as impacting shipping, oil and natural gas exploration, and national security.

While changes in the Arctic might be most visible, it’s changes in the globe’s lower latitudes and oceans that are of equal or greater concern, Alley said. Those areas are where the majority of people and animals live and most of the world’s food is produced.

The current rate of climate change is one most likely not seen in 65 million years. The rate of warming is likely to increase in the coming century, and that means some species, particularly those in mountainous regions, might not be able to adapt fast enough or they’ll simply run out of room to migrate...

“Our food is already heat stressed. If we move to unprecedented levels (of warmth), what does that do for eating?”...

...Sea level rise is also a gradual shift that could have a big consequences for coastal communities. In the U.S., coastal communities contributed $6.6 trillion to the national GDP in 2011 and population density along the coast is four times greater than inland. Globally, sea level has risen about 9 inches since 1880, but the rate of change varies based on local conditions.

Slow and steady changes in the ocean’s height can cause major damage to coastal infrastructure. Alley used New York’s subway system during Superstorm Sandy as an example....

... The Famine Early Warning Systems Network, which was created in the wake of the East Africa famine in the mid-1980s, and a drought warning system in the U.S. both provide lessons of how an abrupt climate change early warning system could function.

By following these and other examples, the authors envision a tool that would give decision makers a timeframe to take proactive measures for what they call “inevitable surprises” rather than reacting to them.

Perhaps the very act of getting people prepared for the now "inevitable surprises" we are facing will help wake them up to what we've been doing to the basic functioning systems of the planet--kind of like the people who went around before major hurricanes and asked that the people who refused to leave mark their limbs with indelible markers so the parts of their dismembered body could be identified after the storm for proper burial.


This is from the RC coverage of the study:

Sea-level rise: What the experts expect

In the long run, sea-level rise will be one of the most serious consequences of global warming. But how fast will sea levels rise? Model simulations are still associated with considerable uncertainty – too complex and varied are the processes that contribute to the increase. A just-published survey of 90 sea-level experts from 18 countries now reveals what amount of sea-level rise the wider expert community expects. With successful, strong mitigation measures, the experts expect a likely rise of 40-60 cm in this century and 60-100 cm by the year 2300. With unmitigated warming, however, the likely range is 70-120 cm by 2100 and two to three meters by the year 2300.

Here's the link to "highlights" from the original--abstract, graphs, and comments on graphs:

To see what a 3 m rise would mean to various locations, here's a rough, interactive tool (but please post links to any sites that do this better):

To me, the survey misses the point Richard Alley and others have been trying to make wrt slr. Even if it is a remote possibility, it is important to know what the physically possible highest-end possibilities are, just as you wear a seat belt even though chance of being in a crash in any particular car trip are generally rather tiny.

Here’s the relevant Alley lecture, afaics, “Slip Slidin’ Away”:

Arctic sea ice / Who has the best data and what are they saying?
« on: October 30, 2013, 10:00:08 PM »
Hank at RC had an interesting insight that I think is worth considering here (though he, in his typical humble way, says we should wait till climate scientists weigh in to know it's worth):

I’ve been wondering why the two climate scientists associated with their respective Navy submarine operations are on record expecting the Arctic sea ice to go away sooner.

It makes sense to me logically that they could have access to information that’s kept secret — and be able to disclose conclusions but not the reasoning.

EOS for 8 October 2013 in their brief back page items (p. 372) mentions

Dokken et al., Paleoceanography, doi:10.1002/palo.20042, 2013

which suggests the past record of extremely fast Greenland temperature increases (“DO events”) could be caused by a breakdown of the layering of Nordic seas: sea ice, then cold fresh water, then below that salt water — and the salt water is circulating so when warmer ocean water moves into that area it first replaces cold bottom layer salt water. Eventually it “breaks the halocline” and the warmth reaches the sea ice, which disappears.

So where’s the halocline, and is it changing?

Well, ask the submariners (and check whatever can be told or inferred from data collected by the no doubt extensive secret monitoring gear the nuclear-capable Navy departments must have spread all across the Arctic ocean over the past 40 years).

I know submariners use the halocline — and any other difference in water salinity or density — to hide, and to channel sound. So do whales and dolphins, of course. But if anyone’s able to ask them, it’d be the Navy.

(Decades ago when I was a marine biology student, a lecturer told us how all the various marine biology labs got their echo-sounding equipment from their countries’ Navy people, and the gear given the scientists had cut-outs to prevent them from working in the frequencies useful for detecting submarines. But each of the nations had cut out different bands, so the marine biologists would get together annually and trade records to fill in the gaps in their pictures)

In response to my further inquiry, he added:

Maslowski and Wadhams

‘oogled, plenty available, e.g.

Apr 29, 2012 – Wadhams, P., N Hughes and J Rodrigues (2011). Arctic sea ice thickness characteristics in winter 2004 and 2007 from submarine sonar …

Just sayin’ — I have to wonder how much more data the Navies of the planet have accumulated, over 50 years of travel and stationkeeping under the Arctic ice.


Science / Tipping point for polar ice cap may have come in 2012
« on: October 19, 2013, 04:29:42 AM »
Tipping point for polar ice cap may have come in 2012

This year may have granted a slight reprieve for vanishing Arctic sea ice, but evidence gathered to date shows that summer shrinkage will likely continue its downward spiral in future years, according to a new paper published in the Oct. 4 edition of the journal Geography Compass.
The paper, by Kent State University doctoral candidate Thomas Ballinger and Jeffrey Rogers, a geography professor at Ohio State University, synthesizes information about weather, ocean currents and ice conditions in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas between 2007 through 2012, a six-year period of severe melt. Conditions in those seas appear to have changed for good, the paper says.

“Dramatic reduction in late summer sea ice on these seas occurring in 2007 and subsequent years now appears to be a persistent and permanent feature of the summer Arctic environment,” it says.


Science / RC: 5th IPCC report's SLR estimates still too low
« on: October 17, 2013, 03:34:36 AM »
Sea level in the 5th IPCC report

by Stephan Rahmstorf

The take away really seems to be in the last two sections:

Coastal protection professionals require a plausible upper limit for planning purposes, since coastal infrastructure needs to survive also in the worst case situation. A dike that is only “likely” to be good enough is not the kind of safety level that coastal engineers want to provide; they want to be pretty damn certain that a dike will not break. Rightly so.

The range up to 98 cm is the IPCC’s “likely” range, i.e. the risk of exceeding 98 cm is considered to be 17%, and IPCC adds in the SPM that “several tenths of a meter of sea level rise during the 21st century” could be added to this if a collapse of marine-based sectors of the Antarctic ice sheet is initiated. It is thus clear that a meter is not the upper limit.

It is one of the fundamental philosophical problems with IPCC (causing much debate already in conjunction with the 4th report) that it refuses to provide an upper limit for sea-level rise, unlike other assessments (e.g. the sea-level rise scenarios of NOAA (which we discussed here) or the guidelines of the US Army Corps of Engineers). This would be an important part of assessing the risk of climate change, which is the IPCC’s role (**). Anders Levermann (one of the lead authors of the IPCC sea level chapter) describes it thus:

    In the latest assessment report of the IPCC we did not provide such an upper limit, but we allow the creative reader to construct it. The likely range of sea level rise in 2100 for the highest climate change scenario is 52 to 98 centimeters (20 to 38 inches.). However, the report notes that should sectors of the marine-based ice sheets of Antarctic collapse, sea level could rise by an additional several tenths of a meter during the 21st century. Thus, looking at the upper value of the likely range, you end up with an estimate for the upper limit between 1.2 meters and, say, 1.5 meters. That is the upper limit of global mean sea-level that coastal protection might need for the coming century.


For the past six years since publication of the AR4, the UN global climate negotiations were conducted on the basis that even without serious mitigation policies global sea-level would rise only between 18 and 59 cm, with perhaps 10 or 20 cm more due to ice dynamics. Now they are being told that the best estimate for unmitigated emissions is 74 cm, and even with the most stringent mitigation efforts, sea level rise could exceed 60 cm by the end of century. It is basically too late to implement measures that would very likely prevent half a meter rise in sea level. Early mitigation is the key to avoiding higher sea level rise, given the slow response time of sea level (Schaeffer et al. 2012). This is where the “conservative” estimates of IPCC, seen by some as a virtue, have lulled policy makers into a false sense of security, with the price having to be paid later by those living in vulnerable coastal areas.

Is the IPCC AR5 now the final word on process-based sea-level modelling? I don’t think so. I see several reasons that suggest that process models are still not fully mature, and that in future they might continue to evolve towards higher sea-level projections.

1. Although with some good will one can say the process models are now consistent with the past observed sea-level rise (the error margins overlap), the process models remain somewhat at the low end in comparison to observational data.

2. Efforts to model sea-level changes in Earth history tend to show an underestimation of past sea-level changes. E.g., the sea-level high stand in the Pliocene is not captured by current ice sheet models. Evidence shows that even the East Antarctic Ice Sheet – which is very stable in models – lost significant amounts of ice in the Pliocene.

3. Some of the most recent ice sheet modelling efforts that I have seen discussed at conferences – the kind of results that came too late for inclusion in the IPCC report – point to the possibility of larger sea-level rise in future. We should keep an eye out for the upcoming scientific papers on this.

4. Greenland might melt faster than current models capture, due to the “dark snow” effect. Jason Box, a glaciologist who studies this issue, has said:

    There was controversy after AR4 that sea level rise estimates were too low. Now, we have the same problem for AR5 [that they are still too low].

Thus, I would not be surprised if the process-based models will have closed in further on the semi-empirical models by the time the next IPCC report gets published. But whether this is true or not: in any case sea-level rise is going to be a very serious problem for the future, made worse by every ton of CO2 that we emit. And it is not going to stop in the year 2100 either. By 2300, for unmitigated emissions IPCC projects between 1 and more than 3 meters of rise.

(My emphases.)


Science / Fifth IPCC assessment report released
« on: September 27, 2013, 12:40:09 PM »
The IPCC 5th assessment report has been released. Here's a link to the first part (thanks to dorlomen at POForums for the link):

Hansen Study: Climate Sensitivity Is High, Burning All Fossil Fuels Would Make Most Of Planet ‘Uninhabitable’

James Hansen, the country’s most prescient climatologist, is out with another must-read paper, “Climate sensitivity, sea level and atmospheric carbon dioxide.” The paper, co-authored by a number of Hansen’s former colleagues at NASA, is an antidote to the rosy scenarios the mainstream media have recently been pushing.

    The key findings are

    The Earth’s actual sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 levels from preindustrial levels (to 550 ppm) — including slow feedbacks — is likely to be larger than 3–4°C (5.4-7.2°F).
    Given that we are headed towards a tripling (820 ppm) or quadrupling (1100 ppm) of atmospheric CO2 levels, inaction is untenable.
    “Burning all fossil fuels” would warm land areas on average about 20°C (36°F) and warm the poles a stunning 30°C (54°F). This “would make most of the planet uninhabitable by humans, thus calling into question strategies that emphasize adaptation to climate change.”

    Burning all or even most fossil fuels would be a true scorched Earth policy.

    Given that James Hansen has been right about global warming for more than 3 decades, his climate warnings need to be taken seriously...

    if we ultimately burn all of fossil fuels, Hansen et al find almost unimaginable consequences:

    Our calculated global warming in this case is 16°C, with warming at the poles approximately 30°C. Calculated warming over land areas averages approximately 20°C. Such temperatures would eliminate grain production in almost all agricultural regions in the world. Increased stratospheric water vapour would diminish the stratospheric ozone layer.

    More ominously, global warming of that magnitude would make most of the planet uninhabitable by humans. The human body generates about 100 W of metabolic heat that must be carried away to maintain a core body temperature near 37°C, which implies that sustained wet bulb temperatures above 35°C can result in lethal hyperthermia...

    A warming of 10–12°C would put most of today’s world population in regions with wet a bulb temperature above 35°C….

    ...we are headed towards CO2 levels in 2100 last seen when the Earth was 29°F (16°C) hotter.

Scientists Call for Overhaul of U.N. Climate Reports

International scientists are calling for an overhaul of the United Nations' "blockbuster" climate reports ahead of the delivery of the next big assessment.

The reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are compiled by hundreds of scientists and are considered the definitive assessment of global climate risks, with the next big report due to be released in Stockholm this month.

But the IPCC's core mission is now under challenge from the very scientists who compiled those reports, as well as some governments.

..."Should we be doing these major assessments every five years or so, or should we be doing more targeted assessments that policymakers need? It's not so clear."

The governing body of the IPCC will discuss its future at a meeting in the Georgian resort town of Batumi in October and later in Berlin, a spokesman said.

"What sort or products should the IPCC be producing, over what kind of time scale? Do we need this blockbuster report every six or seven years or do we need more frequent reports? That is the sort of thing that is going to be discussed there," IPCC spokesman Jonathan Lynn said.

So is this the end of IPCC? Is that a good thing or not? What would be the best thing to replace it with?

Consequences / Toward a complete list of climate feedbacks
« on: August 25, 2013, 07:56:54 PM »
These are both consequences and causes of further GW. (If mods want to shift this to the Science section, that's fine.) I have been trying to assemble as complete as possible a list of climate feedbacks as I have come across them over the years. This is a brief list, without citations attached, but I could supply those easily in most cases if anyone is interested.

I would love to hear people's comments, additions, critiques...Obviously some of these are both more major and more certain than others. Ultimately it would be good to try to rank them, but that difficulte (impossible?) task will have to wait. For now I just want to know if I am missing any major ones, or if people think any I have here are completely off (or wrong sign!).


charney = “fast” feedbacks:
--albedo change with loss of land and sea ice and snow (stops when all snow and ice gone)
--water vapor
--cloud (both ways?)
--lapse rate (though this may also cut both ways?)

non-charney “slow” feedbacks:
   carbon feedbacks
--forests, grasslands, peat dry up and burn/die>CO2
--“  “    get bugs/diseases, die>termites>methane; die>burn
--soils, already weakened from above, wash away with increasingly extreme downpours, leaving no medium for plant that could absorb CO2 to grow
--terrestrial soils dry up>CO2 methane “If the bank of carbon held in the world’s soils were to drop by just 0.3 percent, the release would equal a year’s worth of fossil fuel emissions”
--permafrost melts—release CO2&methane from new bacterial activity/ free methane from deeper reservoirs, starts to (net) release rather than absorb (sink) C
--melting Greenland and Antarctic icecap uncovers same
--feedback combo: Each extreme weather event leads to less CO2 absorption, leads to more warming, leads to more extreme weather events, leads to....
--sea bed permafrost, clathrates, free methane
--sea surface increased activity of methanogens
--newly flooded areas from sea level rise become new swamps—more methane
--as atmospheric humidity increases with global warming, the amount of high troposphere ice particles will increase, and as these ice particles generally serve to reduce the rate of methane oxidation; this implies that with increasing global warming, the global warming potential, GWP, of the methane in the atmosphere over the Antarctic will increase.
--Rising CO2 In Atmosphere Also Speeds Carbon Loss From Forest Soils
--newly ice-free Arctic ocean erodes islands and coastlines releasing carbon in soils
--warming ice encourages dark cryophilic bacteria which alters albedo
--Trees excude CO2 rather than taking it in
--Sudden switch from a three cell NoHem system to a one cell system because of loss of temp differential between equator and No Pole. One cell will transport heat from equator to pole much more efficiently.
--if methane reaches a big enough level in the atmosphere, its average time aloft starts going up, because saturation point is reached to where there's not enough OH around in the atmosphere so that methane can be split apart that way
--warmer ocean absorbs less CO2
--warmer oceans kill phytoplankton that otherwise sequester CO2
--draw downs behind damns during (CC induced) droughts increases methane release

--drought, an expected outcome of GW, can increase intensity of heatwaves
--end of change of state--when all ice gone in a region, no more heat sucked up by its melting
--newly open Arctic Ocean evaporates more H2O (a GHG) (but open ocean can also absorb more CO2)
-- Stripping of Oxygen from the Oceans
--melting permafrost releases NOX
--accelerating albedo shift with black carbon (soot) concentrating on surface as melt goes on
--accelerating albedo shift with more trees growing in the tundra; now happening faster than once thought, since many ‘shrubs’ native to and widespread throughout the tundra grow into trees as conditions warm
--uplift from isostatic rebound as Gr icesheet melts changes angle to greater slope down which ice slides faster
--similar activity could cause local earthquakes which may increase collapse of fragile ice
--Loss of GIS accelerating as highest areas melt down to lower, warmer areas, not only increasing sea level (see above), but also hastening the time when there will be no more ice cap to absorb hundreds of quintillions of joules of energy as it melts (see above)
--More wild fires also means more soot in the air which further changes albedo of ice and snow, leading further to the effects mentioned immediately above
-- Bigger storms from GW cause updrafts to carry moisture all the way into the stratosphere, reducing ozone and creating more ghg (water vapor) into part of the atmosphere that has very little of it.
--Hadley cells shift "so that air is being pulled along the earths surface from mid latitudes towards the Arctic... more soot and dust will accumulate on the remaining ice including on Greenland."
--Reversal of the Polar Vortex
"Putting together the above information, we see what powers the polar vortex.  As the Arctic air radiates heat into space, it sinks, sucking high altitude air toward the poles.  Coriolis effect skews this flow of air to the right so at high latitudes, on the surface of the earth there are North East winds (flowing towards the South West).    With more and more heat being absorbed by an ice free Arctic ocean and transmitted to the air, this circulation pattern should reverse.  This would be expected to bring a huge flux of warm air from the south which would exacerbate the effect and cause sudden extremely warmer conditions in the Arctic for the months in question. These will be South West winds (flowing toward the North East)”
--As beetles and other diseases move north aided by GW, the number of sick trees increases rapidly. The levels of methane these emit can be high enough to ignite
-- mixing has an immediate effect upon ice through churning rather than the longer term greenhouse effects from bubbling methane, which of course opens up more water which, through albedo, warms up the water, which radiates down to liberate more methane…
--Loss of GIS and other ice sheets (as well as other shifts in water on land –drying and flooding…) lead to tectonic shifts and increased eruptions of volcanoes—releasing carbon that leads to likely longer-term warming (though their aerosols and other particles will lead to a temporary cooling).
--Oceans that grow more acidic through Man's fossil fuel burning emissions, can amplify global warming by releasing less of a gas that helps shield Earth from radiation (Thanks to johnm33 for just posting this one on the science thread, though as ccg points out, it is unclear if they are talking about direct aerosol shielding, or about increased cloud formation.)

Human responses:
--geo—engineering attempts gone bad
--more and more people moving to avoid consequences of GW—refugees, both burning oil to move and burning ff to build new cities…
--more and more ff-fueled infrastructure built (sea walls, etc) to stave off effects of GW…
--aerosol—as we turn away from coal in response to GW (and clean up aerosol pollution from those that remain), the ‘aerosol parasol’ goes away causing and essentially immediate global temp increase of .5 – 2 degrees C. (see below)
--rush to ever dirtier sources with lower EROEI—tar sands, low grade coal, deepwater oil…
--Rivers dry, barges can’t haul material—more sent by more ff intensive truck and rail
--newly ice-free Arctic leads/has lead to more ff extraction/burning as well as new oil spills, and perhaps activity that further accelerates methane hydrate (and other methane) release

Negative (=damping) Feedbacks (and related dynamics)
--black body radiation ^4, Planck and all that
--clouds (?)
--weathering of rock, mountains; the reaction SiO3 + CO2 > CaCO3 + SiO2 (?)  runs faster in  a warmer climate (but this effect is limited by the amount of exposed rock available, so it is a very slow feedback)
--ocean absorption
--same enhanced in Arctic by loss of sea ice
--a more ice-free Arctic may directly absorb more CO2 into its waters
--desertification alters albedo so more light reflected into space(?)
--increased biological activity in warming permafrost and tundra (overwhelmed by other factors?)
--lapse rate--as heat and moisture get distributed more evenly through the whole air column, it can more easily be radiated into space (help needed here)
--Loss of GIS and other ice sheets (as well as other shifts in water on land –drying and flooding…) lead to tectonic shifts and increased eruptions of volcanoes—whose aerosols and other particles will lead to a (temporary) cooling (but likely longer-term warming).
----flooding and deepening of continental shelves increases the activity of the ‘continental shelf pump’ which moves particulate carbon off of the shelf (where it might eventually get back into the atmosphere) down into the deep sea, where it is likely to remain for a very long time.
--SLR increases pressure on subsea clathrates keeping them stable (but not as fast as ocean temperatures increase?)
--some plants growing faster with increased atmospheric CO2 (overwhelmed by predominantly negative effects of GW on plant growth?)

Human response(??)
--as major impacts kick in, global PTB or general population wakes up and drastically decrease ff burning...(dream on)
--planting native grasses in mid latitudes, trees in tropics, terra-preta (?)
--geo-engineering (very likely to very wrong—best in other side)
--eating less meat, traveling less (esp by plane), consuming less, make fewer babies…
--alt energy, because of promotion through policy, economic tipping points, or a combination, rapidly replace nearly all ffs (are we seeing the beginnings of this??)
--major breakthroughs in C sequestration technology that can be rapidly built out with minimal use of ff (but this could prompt 'moral hazard' behavior, and in any case seems rather a techno-fantasy than an even remote likelihood)
--revolution (could go either way?)
--grimmer—gw leads to widespread shortages of basic food supplies—mass starvation, fewer using ff-powered machines…; econ collapse…same (BUT economic collapse also could lead to big drop in coal plant emissions—good in the long run, but in the short run, this would quickly bring down aerosol emissions. Aerosols have been working as a “parasol,” blocking sunlight from entering the lower troposphere, so keeping us perhaps 2 degrees C cooler. So with this removed, we could see a sudden increase of 2 degrees, which could set off other positive feedbacks discussed above.)


Please add more of your own in any category (or create a new category!?), or critique any of the above.



Consequences / Effects on Arctic Wildlife
« on: August 10, 2013, 06:22:12 PM »
I was looking for an appropriate thread to put this link in and was surprised not to find anything on general effects of ice loss and warming on Arctic wildlife. Effects on, for example, polar bears is often the first thing mentioned in the popular press, so maybe people were trying to avoid the cliche?

Anyway, here's the latest from Climate Central:

Arctic’s Rapid Sea Ice Loss Threatens Wildlife

The loss of Arctic sea ice is bad news for the Pacific walrus, and for polar bears: the walrus has further to swim to dig for clams on the sea floor, and the polar bear has less chance of catching seals. But the real problems begin at the base of the food chain.

Since the end of the last century, more than two million square kilometers of sea ice have disappeared, and the loss of summer ice is accelerating. Researchers call this “a stunning loss of habitat for sea ice algae and sub-ice plankton which together account for 57 percent of the total annual primary production in the Arctic Ocean.”...

Permafrost / Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« on: May 02, 2013, 08:16:06 PM »
I don't know if this should be here or in the 'Science' thread, but it strikes me that this is a very important recent paper that was discussed on a number of climate science forums, and would be worthwhile discussing here.

Significant contribution to climate warming from the permafrost carbon feedback

    Andrew H. MacDougall,   
    Christopher A. Avis   
    & Andrew J. Weaver

    Nature Geoscience
    5, 719–721


Permafrost soils contain an estimated 1,700 Pg of carbon, almost twice the present atmospheric carbon pool1. As permafrost soils thaw owing to climate warming, respiration of organic matter within these soils will transfer carbon to the atmosphere, potentially leading to a positive feedback2. Models in which the carbon cycle is uncoupled from the atmosphere, together with one-dimensional models, suggest that permafrost soils could release 7–138 Pg carbon by 2100 (refs 3, 4).

Here, we use a coupled global climate model to quantify the magnitude of the warming generated by the feedback between permafrost carbon release and climate. According to our simulations, permafrost soils will release between 68 and 508 Pg carbon by 2100.

We show that the additional surface warming generated by the feedback between permafrost carbon and climate is independent of the pathway of anthropogenic emissions followed in the twenty-first century.

We estimate that this feedback could result in an additional warming of 0.13–1.69 °C by 2300. We further show that the upper bound for the strength of the feedback is reached under the less intensive emissions pathways. We suggest that permafrost carbon release could lead to significant warming, even under less intensive emissions trajectories.

I would appreciate it if someone with greater skills than I have in that direction could cut and past the figures from the article linked above.

Here is the coverage by Skeptical Science of the piece (from which I stole my subject headline):

It was also covered nicely by Kathy (whose very appropriate imho response was "oh shit!") at Climate Sight:

The otherwise-staid Tamino used "Oh Shit" as the title for his entry on this same article (and maybe is the one I should have used here):

If people have other links to discussions on the topic, please include them. I will just give a bit of a summarizing quote from Kate here:

As a result of the thawing permafrost, the land switched from a carbon sink (net CO2 absorber) to a carbon source (net CO2 emitter) decades earlier than it would have otherwise – before 2100 for every DEP. The ocean kept absorbing carbon, but in some scenarios the carbon source of the land outweighed the carbon sink of the ocean. That is, even without human emissions, the land was emitting more CO2 than the ocean could soak up.

Concentrations kept climbing indefinitely, even if human emissions suddenly dropped to zero.

This is the part of the paper that made me want to hide under my desk.

This scenario wasn’t too hard to reach, either – if climate sensitivity was greater than 3°C warming per doubling of CO2 (about a 50% chance, as 3°C is the median estimate by scientists today), and people followed DEP 8.5 to at least 2013 before stopping all emissions (a very intense scenario, but I wouldn’t underestimate our ability to dig up fossil fuels and burn them really fast), permafrost thaw ensured that CO2 concentrations kept rising on their own in a self-sustaining loop...
As if that weren’t enough, the paper goes on to list a whole bunch of reasons why their values are likely underestimates...

This paper went in my mental “oh shit” folder, because it made me realize that we are starting to lose control over the climate system.

No matter what path we follow – even if we manage slightly negative emissions, i.e. artificially removing CO2 from the atmosphere – this model suggests we’ve got an extra 0.25°C in the pipeline due to permafrost.

(My emphases.)

(Mods, please move this to science, if that is the appropriate thread.)

Pages: [1]