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Messages - wili

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2551
Consequences / Re: Climate Change Impacts - US Agriculture
« on: June 13, 2013, 09:55:25 PM »
Thanks for those links, fd and ds.

That last article has a take-away line at the end:

Quote
Given our understanding of megadroughts over the Great Plains as well as recent climate predictions for increased warmth and drought over this area, future reactivation of the dunes seems likely.

Wouldn't that meant that the Nebraska sand hills and similar formations along the high plains will destabilize and start blowing across the landscape, turning the middle of the US into a Sahara.

ETA: The latest Drought Monitor shows a Long-Term, highest-level (Exceptional) drought persisting right over the central Sand Hills area.

http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/archive.html

A poster at the Malthusia site from the shorter-term exceptional drought area in NM said that all the grass is dead in his area, and most of the bushes and trees are either dead or dying.

I can't imagine that things are better in the officially Long Term Exceptional Drought area over the Sand Hills.

If anyone lives in that area, perhaps they could report in, but I am guessing that these giant sand dunes are right now in the process of destabilizing. The next step will be for winds to start blowing them around the plains, killing everything they land on.

2552
ccg said:
Quote
There is a very large difference between significant depopulation and total extinction. Extinction remains an unlikely near future outcome for our species and there are very few things capable of rapidly wiping out literally our whole species.

Likely true, but we should also remember that humans are, after all, only one species.

Hundreds to thousands of species are currently going extinct every day.

We are not immune.

2553
Consequences / Re: When and how bad?
« on: June 12, 2013, 11:19:49 PM »
Quote
Thanks for that

You are most welcome. I stumbled across that bit chasing after something else.

I hope you keep kicking around here for a while. I do appreciate your perspective.

2554
Consequences / Re: When and how bad?
« on: June 08, 2013, 06:52:48 PM »
Well put, ccg.

Especially important for our discussions here is what Wadhams says from about 14:15 to about 15:40:

The net result of a warming tundra is not an increase in potential agricultural productive capacity; just the opposite. As we have already seen, GW does not mean steady, even warming, but rather disruptions of climactic systems such that you have greater and greater extremes that persist for longer and longer periods: biblical flooding, parching droughts that last for years, intense cold snaps, and super heatwaves.

None of these are conducive to agriculture.

Also worth reading very carefully if you missed it when it was posted over at the blog are these observation from someone who has done extensive work in this area:

Quote
In another lifetime, as my first adult scientist experience, I studied arctic ecology at/near Barrow, AK in the early 70's. A primary interest was the distribution of plant types by microclimates and ecotones/ecoclines... There's a whole nother language.

The simple summary: It's complicated.

The high arctic is?was a desert, with less than 8 inches of precip per year, on very flat plains, where a meter high ridge line can be seen three to four miles away. Whole plant communities are determined by height above the permafrost/water table level. That interface is not only the primary source of liquid water, but also the place where nutrients are found. Nobody grows in the winter, which is/was 9 months/yr. We took aerial photos of the plants in full summer, and could map out the microelevation changes by colors of the plant communities.

At that point in time, the local ecology was still relatively stable, kind of the end stage of 'the old days', I'm guessing.

Major limiting factors include water, nutrients, and winter cold. Shrubs look more like trees where they are protected by being buried under the snow in winter (a drainage cut along a river bank) - being above the snow exposes to brutal winds and the occasional browsing caribou herd.

Northern forests are limited in extent at the edges by the arctic winds, and have to expand from center out, creating a critical mass wind buffer as they go (almost entirely by underground tillering from older plants - not much useful plant sex in the far north).

In the winter, everything is white with frost or snow, and there's no sun anyway. The albedo effects are limited to the summer growing season, which is pretty short, though one impact here is any extension on that season length. The albedo impacts permafrost depth, which is a huge issue, since there lies all those nutrients, water, and that sequestered carbon.

In summer, the ground above the permafrost is saturated with water, and is mostly peat of some form (all that carbon), with variable density. You can't drive vehicles over most of this without destroying the surface, leaving linear tracks of black water that become rivers over time as the albedo melts the sidewalls...

Muskeg is the swampy forestland that extends fingers up from the south. That ground is similarly saturated over frozen peat, with short stubby fir trees that point every which way around the dead that lie in herringboned disarray. You can't walk in that stuff, let alone drive through. Roads are major messes, that re-route water, and require constant maintenance (and turn to jelly with earthquakes). Off road vehicles tear the place to pieces, see above.

Not gonna be much agriculture in that world, except as slow encroachment from the edges.

Posted by: pjmattheis | April 04, 2013 at 15:15

http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2013/04/a-drastically-greener-arctic-to-come.html#comments

One more note: we now have what Neven has dubbed a "Persistent Arctic Cyclone" that shows no signs of dissipating in the foreseeable future. Is there a chance that this kind of massive swirling vortex at the top of the world is going to become an essentially permanent feature of the earth's climactic system, at least during the spring through fall?

If so, how the heck is that going to effect conditions in mid latitudes and beyond?? (WAGs are welcome, as that is almost all we have to go on these days in this brave new climactic world.)

...
NB--In the above video, the other three are very reputable climate scientists and Arctic experts, but Wasdell is not. Not to say that he doesn't have some good 'big picture' perspectives to contribute, but he does sometimes seem to be a bit off or out of date on some details. And of course there are other 'experts' who have other perspectives, but no one reputable that I have heard thinks that there is nothing to worry about from the Arctic, especially in the longish term.

2555
Consequences / Re: When and how bad?
« on: June 08, 2013, 04:46:26 PM »
We've had an unusually long interglacial period that has allowed (relative) warmth to penetrate deep into these deposits. Much of it is now may be on a hair trigger--right on the verge of release. But it may be that these science, some of whom have studies this area of the Arctic about as long as anyone has, are all wrong. There is certainly a range of opinion among Arctic specialists about how quickly these deposits would take to be released into the atmosphere. But do we always want to bet that it is always the most optimistic estimates that are right? Do you do that in other areas of life?

Another point about ice cores is that methane, since it is such a small molecule (relative to CO2, for example), can more easily migrate away from the part of the ice where it was originally captured iirc. So it is harder to detect large methane spikes in that record than in others. Not surprisingly, we do not have perfect knowledge of what went on in the past. Some (not saying anyone does here) would choose to see such sorts of uncertainty to mean that probably nothing shocking or sudden or catastrophic ever happened in the past, and furthermore, that that means nothing catastrophic can happen now or in the future. Others of us find uncertainty to be more...anxiety producing. Each to his own, I guess.

2556
jdallen, I thought you had a really good point above about the possibility that the broken-up ice this year, agitated as it has been by this long-lasting cyclone, could be stirring up warmer, saltier water from below up to the surface.

I don't know if there is any evidence that this has been happening anywhere yet, but it certainly seems a reasonable possibility to me, one I hadn't considered this spring. I remember discussions of the phenomenon during the great Arctic cyclone of 2012. Thanks for reminding us.

2557
Consequences / Re: When and how bad?
« on: June 07, 2013, 10:50:54 PM »
"temperature increases can trigger major shifts in climate patterns. If a climate shift for a region turns out to be really nasty, there is no way to change it back."

You got that part right!

Some more points to consider:


2558
Consequences / Re: Weird Weather
« on: June 07, 2013, 01:02:00 AM »
Wow, that's hot!

Meanwhile, the first named tropical depression has hit Florida and is currently very visible (and beautiful, in its own way) on the wind map:

http://hint.fm/wind/

2559
I'm not sure why few people think there could be another '07-like mega-melt or worse again.

Does anyone think the ice is stronger now than then? Is it not, instead, much weaker, thinner, saltier, slushier, more full of air holes, more fractured with leads...and as the melt season proceeds, more covered with pools of water?

A few extra bad storms, bright days, periods of accelerated transport out the Fram, or combinations of the above, and we'll be near, at or beyond the amount of melt we saw in '07.

Of course, at best, we likely have only a very few more years for a repeat of '07 to be possible--after that there will be too little ice at minimum for that large of a drop again. :(

2560
Science / Re: Mauna Loa CO2
« on: June 05, 2013, 06:58:49 AM »
Flooding is taking its toll in Europe, too.

Quote
Climate chaos hits central Europe - 500 year floods.
Flooding rages on in parts of central Europe

    "The Danube River, which is one of three that join in Passau, rose to a level of 12.8 meters (42 feet) late on Monday, leaving much of the city under water. This is considerably higher that the worst flood in living memory, when the Danube in Passau reached 12.2 meters in 1954, and the worst the city has experienced in more than 500 years, according to Germany's DPA news agency."

http://www.dw.de/flooding-rages-on-in-parts-of-central-europe/a-16856840

2561
Science / Re: Mauna Loa CO2
« on: June 04, 2013, 06:39:47 AM »
Thanks to Tanada over at POForums for catching this:

"NOAA has done their weekly update, the week off May 26 is officially over 400 ppm. 400.03 to be precise.

http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/weekly.html "

2562
Consequences / Re: When and how bad?
« on: June 01, 2013, 03:21:09 AM »
Thanks for bringing this important issue up here, fmb.

As Neven noted on the blog, snow cover has a bigger effect on mid-latitiude weather during spring and (early?) summer than does sea ice extent. There are large areas of negative snow-cover anomaly, especially over northern Siberia.

I do think that if we see a really big loss over the next few weeks due to this event, it may have an effect on weather further south before the end of the Summer.

In light of the current cyclone, many commenters over at the blog seem to be revising downward their estimates for sea ice coverage minimum in September, what do people think the specific consequences would be in the next 12 months if we approach or fall below the 1 million sq k extent mark?


2563
Will the wind from this event be washing salt water from whatever leads are open onto the surface of the ice? If so, is this likely to have a major effect on the melt behavior during the rest of the melt season?

Thanks ahead of time for any discussion and insight on this issue.

2565
Consequences / Re: When and how bad?
« on: May 23, 2013, 04:33:53 AM »
 "there isn't evidence that a warmer world has less agricultural production potential and there is plenty of contrary evidence"

There is, you just don't want to hear it, for some reason.

The standard figure is that for every degree centigrade of temperature increase, we will see about a 10% decrease in total food production.

Note that the last few decades have seen the introduction of the 'Green Revolution' that brought about higher yields through careful breeding of high yield seeds, but also massive inputs of NPK and ff-driven mechanization. The advances and advantages from these strategies have just about played themselves out.

We are now at the second highest price for food for this time of year in modern history, after 2011. Food stores are at historical lows. Maybe we'll luck out and dodge a bunch of climate bullets in the next few years. But the imminent collapse of the Arctic sea ice cap does not bode well for relatively stable climates prevailing in the Northern Hemisphere (where most land is and where most ag takes place.)

Way too much cold or heat, rain or drought, for way too long is what will likely become the norm in most of the major ag regions in the world. If that sounds like a good formula for bumper crops, go long on ag stocks.

2566
Consequences / Re: Weird Weather
« on: May 23, 2013, 04:10:41 AM »
Thanks for these thoughtful reflections, gge. Perhaps it is the accumulation of stories and reflections like these that will ultimately have more force than all the science and modeling.

2567
Science / Re: Mauna Loa CO2
« on: May 23, 2013, 04:05:46 AM »
Thanks, Jim. What's your link for those daily average numbers, exactly?

2568
Consequences / Re: Weird Weather
« on: May 21, 2013, 01:53:54 PM »
Thanks to prokaryotes at cp for this link:

Humid air and the Jet Stream help to fuel more intense thunderstorms/tornadoes

http://climatestate.com/2013/05/21/humid-air-and-the-jet-stream-help-to-fuel-more-intense-thunderstormstornadoes/

2569
Science / Re: Study: Global warming is slowing down...
« on: May 21, 2013, 01:44:39 PM »
That's pretty much what I got from the CP coverage of the story:

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/05/20/2034261/we-would-all-like-climate-sensitivity-to-be-lower-but-it-isnt-says-lead-scientist-of-new-study/

‘We Would All Like Climate Sensitivity To Be Lower But It Isn’t’ Says Lead Scientist Of New Study

"The researchers say the difference between the lower short-term estimate and the more consistent long-term picture can be explained by the fact that the heat from the last decade has been absorbed into and is being stored by the world’s oceans."

2570
Consequences / Re: When and how bad?
« on: May 21, 2013, 01:39:13 PM »
"producing food further north is presently limited by the cold climate"

That, of course, is not the only limit in most places.

2571
Science / Re: Mauna Loa CO2
« on: May 21, 2013, 04:44:39 AM »
Four of the last 7 days were above 400, so we may have our first week with an average above 400, too!

http://bluemoon.ucsd.edu/co2_400/mlo_one_week.png

2572
Consequences / Re: Weather "whiplash" and agriculture
« on: May 21, 2013, 04:11:16 AM »
Some pretty bad 'whiplash' going on in OK:

Vast Oklahoma Tornado Kills at Least 51

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/21/us/tornado-oklahoma.html

2573
Consequences / Re: When and how bad?
« on: May 18, 2013, 10:54:06 PM »
Can we avoid throwing names like "defeatism" around, here, please.

There are very legitimate concerns about geo-engineering, and frankly the more quickly its proponents dismiss such concerns as 'defeatism,' the less confident I am that they are on solid ground.

Laurent, I was referring to my paltry attempt to convert most of my postage-stamp-size lot over to native grasses and forbs, many of which keep 90% or so of their mass in the root system. I also do a bit of guerrilla gardening of the same species.

I don't pretend that this is any great part of the solution. Just one more tiny, tiny wedgelet.

2574
Consequences / Re: When and how bad?
« on: May 17, 2013, 11:43:28 PM »
Thanks for the clarification, Lewis.

I assume that you don't think that all geo-engineering schemes are equally viable. Perhaps you could give an ordered list of those you think have the best chances of working and the least possibility of major unintended consequences. Clearly, the worst kind of Geo-E is the sort that we are doing--dumping massive quantities of carbon into the atmosphere, apparently at ever greater rates. You clearly think that cloud whitening and bio-char sit at or near the other end of that spectrum. It would be useful as at least a starting point to have one person who has looked into them to lay out the range of possibilities and their relative viability, even though we know that much more research will be needed for most of them. Thanks ahead of time.

For the record, I count myself as one who is generally skeptical of most geo-engineering schemes--they generally strike me as hubris attempting to solve the problems of hubris, a good recipe for solutions causing problems that will need further solutions. But biological 'sequestration' certainly seems a reasonable thing to pursue (which I actually do in my own small way). And I'm open to hear about others, particularly if they are easily stoppable/reversable if negative, unforeseen consequences ensue.

2575
Thanks for the clarification, Chris.

2576
Policy and solutions / Re: China to lead the way?
« on: May 17, 2013, 06:23:43 PM »
"yet with 1.4 billion people - by no means equivalent to the western nations (yet)"

I'm pretty sure they surpassed EU percapita emissions sometime last year, but I'd have to do some searching to verify that.

What we all have to learn from places like China is how pre-modern (and some current) farmers there and elsewhere sustained productive fields for over four millennia (see see the excellent book:
Farmers of Forty Centuries: Organic Farming in China, Korea, and Japan).

This, to me, is the main truly amazing achievement of the East, and an astounding example of real-world, long-term sustainability (even if intensive early farming in China did probably wipe out some local eco-systems at first). That book, by the way, has just recently been translated into Chinese, and may, somewhat ironically, help the Chinese themselves recognize the value of these earlier practices, and perhaps help move them away from the worst practices of industrial farming.

2577
Consequences / Re: When and how bad?
« on: May 17, 2013, 06:07:53 PM »
"astroturf opposition to Geo-E"

Lewis, I agree with most of your positions, here and elsewhere. I would just point out that not all opposition to Geo-E can be properly characterized as "astroturf."

2578
Policy and solutions / Re: China to lead the way?
« on: May 17, 2013, 06:03:29 PM »
"Europe and the US had an easier time hitting peak CO2.  We had our dirty plants on line so as we replaced the ones that wore out we got "credit".  We exported some of our dirtiest manufacturing.

...

I think we need to recognize the role played by those opposed to renewable energy in countries #11, #12 and #14.  How about we focus our anger on those who are actually slowing our progress? "

Well, we can certainly agree on these points. I did not intend to express any anger in my last post, and I apologize if it came off that way.

China's environmental problems are certainly gargantuan, and, as I said, there are certainly people high up in the power structure that recognize crucial features of these problems and have been trying to come to terms with them. There, like here, they are facing powerful competing interests.

My brother (head of a major international env/ag/trade organization) is on his way to China to interview leaders and academics about many of these issues, so I may have more to report on their plans and progress soon.

2579
Policy and solutions / Re: China to lead the way?
« on: May 17, 2013, 03:57:53 PM »
Historically, the US has been responsible for about 28% of all ghgs, higher than any other single country, iirc. We were at the forefront of research on solar in the '70's then pretty much dropped the ball. Recently our (and EU's) official carbon use has been going down, but some of that is because we export coal and manufacturing. Without going into more off-topic discussion, Jim is mostly on target, but note that no one is saying that the US has never done anything important on the environmental front.

As A4R pointed out, China is now the highest emitter as a country (but not per capita--thanks for that list, Bob. What the hell is going on with Luxemburg??).

China built thousands of coal-fired power plants in the last couple decades, and whatever "leadership" they may take now, unless they rapidly close these, they are going to continue to be major contributors to the problem. They are also greatly increasing their meat consumption, mostly through huge industrial operations that are major sources of CO2 and methane.

There are certainly people near the top of the power structure there that want to start moving in the direction of doing something more like the right thing. They took serious steps toward incorporating environmental considerations in their computation of their GDP, but then this effort was suddenly dropped, probably as they realized that incorporating environmental damage would take a big bite out of their much-touted growth rate.

Cheap solar is a major part of what China is offering the world, but even here, many think it would ultimately be better and lower-carbon for different areas to develop their own solar manufacturing capacity and supply their own local areas.

2580
The format was fine for me, too.

What accounts for the increase in the speeds of the currents? Does this further support the idea that more warm Atlantic water is getting into the Arctic?

2581
Science / Re: Mauna Loa CO2
« on: May 15, 2013, 09:56:55 PM »
The average from the most recent week may well exceed the previous two reported weeks, but it doesn't look like it is going to be above 400. That leaves next week as probably the last one that could break that weekly record. I'm kinda doubting it at this point. The leaves are really coming out, finally, here in MN, so I think the Northern Hemisphere CO2 uptake cycle is really about to go into full gear. I'm not sure what type of lag time there is for that signal to reach Mauna Loa.

2582
Pmt, thanks for the graphic, even with your caveats.

That looks like a pretty reasonable probability spread--a wide range of possibilities, but with a fattish tail on the low end and a sharp drop off on the high end. My own inclinations would be to make the low tail a bit fatter yet, but maybe that is what you are saying a proper statistical approach would do?

2583
Arctic background / Re: Arctic climate sensitivity: 8C/400ppm CO2
« on: May 14, 2013, 12:39:39 PM »
This is also being discussed over at CP:

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/05/12/1993531/climate-sensitivity-stunner-last-time-co2-levels-hit-400-parts-per-million-the-arctic-was-14f-warmer/

In the video, she discusses the march of shrubs and trees into the previously treeless parts of the tundra. How much of a factor is this biological response in the temperature lag time?

I know here in MN, the forested eastern part of the state can be as much as 20 degrees F warmer than the relatively treeless eastern half sometimes in winter, even when no weather front divides them, and that difference has been attributed to difference in albedo.

2584
Science / Re: Mauna Loa CO2
« on: May 14, 2013, 12:29:09 PM »
Thanks, AD.

The most recent weekly figure is down slightly from the previous one--399.52 vs. 399.58 iirc:

http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/weekly.html

That's still for the week of May 5, so we have another week or maybe two of further growth.

The spike the Jim pointed out has been followed by another gap in the data.

http://bluemoon.ucsd.edu/co2_400/mlo_one_week.png

Does anyone know if the 'sequester' is hampering the ability of these stations to keep up repairs, etc?

2585
Consequences / Re: When and how bad?
« on: May 14, 2013, 12:19:46 PM »
The fact is that you were right the first time. If we had seriously rethought and right-scaled modern society after the first earth day, that was likely about the last time we could have put any kind of effective breaks on the juggernaut we are now riding into hell. Just because it wasn't visible to you, doesn't mean the following decades were benign. They set in place the dynamics--especially in the oceans and in the Arctic, for changes that are now profound and unstoppable.

As Hansen pointed out in his TED talk, we are now dropping the equivalent of nearly a half a million Hiroshima-obliterating atomic bombs of energy on the planet every day. Most of that energy is going into the ocean. It is not possible to get that energy back out of the oceans, nor to de-acidify it. It is not possible to stop the melt of the Greenland Ice Sheet or the permafrost or the Arctic sea ice or the seabed clathrates....in spite of some pretty wild schemes that have been proposed.

It might have been possible to avert these things if we really started thirty, forty, fifty years ago to mightily scale back the amount of carbon (and other nasties) we were spewing into the system.

But instead we spewed ever more every year and every decade.

Now there is no way of putting the genie back in the bottle, and there is lots more global heating to come just from the CO2 and methane we've already crammed into the system. As Richard Alley put it, Greenland is still responding to the level of CO2 increases from decades ago.

In a way, the fact that the system has this lag time from cause to consequence has helped trick us into thinking that we can just merrily go on crapping in our own nest and nothing bad will happen, at least not within our life time.

But as others have pointed out, bad things now are happening.

Modern industrial civilization has grown by dumping most of it's problems onto future generations--essentially it has been a society at war with its own future, a war it has overwhelmingly 'won.'

We are now in the process of moving from the side that won the war against the future, into that conquered, decimated, annihilated future.

It's not getting any prettier from here.

2586
Science / Re: Carbon Cycle
« on: May 13, 2013, 07:12:11 PM »
This from Boa05att at the blog:

http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2013/05/greenland-snow-drought-spells-trouble.html#comments

Quote

A new paleoclimate study in Science suggests that climate sensitivity in the arctic is even higher than previously thought, and that the GIS was likely to have frequently been in an almost ice free state.

' “One of our major findings is that the Arctic was very warm in the Pliocene [~ 5.3 to 2.6 million years ago] when others have suggestedatmospheric CO2 was very much like levels we see today. This could tell us where we are going in the near future. In other words, the Earth system response to small changes in carbon dioxide is bigger than suggested by earlier models,” the authors state. '

Press release:
http://www.umass.edu/newsoffice/ice-free-arctic-may-be-our-future-say-umass-amherst-international-researchers

See this excellent talk for a presentation of the results:


This is also being vigorously discussed over at CP:

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/05/12/1993531/climate-sensitivity-stunner-last-time-co2-levels-hit-400-parts-per-million-the-arctic-was-14f-warmer/

2587
Consequences / Re: When and how bad?
« on: May 13, 2013, 11:20:43 AM »
I agree with SH that this is a great discussion and I'm learning a lot. Just a couple whiny nit-picks for now :)

Above Jim said:

"I had decided that we only had about 20-25 years before there were going to be catastrophic problems if we didn't act.  Well, largely, we didn't."

The logic of:

"Because something didn't happen in the past at them quick pace one thought it would, means that it won' happen soon in the future"

...isn't...really...logic.

"Still waiting for those building problems to over take us."

As others have pointed out, this depends largely on who we mean by "us."



2588
Arctic sea ice / Re: Arctic Ocean 'acidifying rapidly'
« on: May 13, 2013, 10:59:23 AM »
Since this is, after all, an Arctic Sea Ice Forum, I was wondering if anyone knew how acidification of sea water by carbonic might effect ice formation and melt? I could find nothing on the web in my first feeble attempts. (This is not, of course, to downplay the role it is likely to have on the food chain there.)

2589
Consequences / Re: US Drought Monitor
« on: May 11, 2013, 04:43:31 AM »
Great graphic, L.

It looks as if the US drought continues it's pattern of weakening on the east side, while spreading and strengthening in the west--with drought and abnormally dry conditions now almost all the way up the Pacific coast, even into Washington state.

http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

El Nino's persistent refusal to show up this year presumably means that relief for the drought in the West will not come any time soon?

2590
Consequences / Re: When and how bad?
« on: May 11, 2013, 04:33:04 AM »
Jim, I hope you're right about timing and resilience. Old farm equipment can be quite long lasting and easily repaired. Is this also true of most modern equipment?

The Ogallala is already running low in some areas, irrc. The last two years were only a tiny taste of the mega-droughts that are on our doorstep.

Keep in mind that, contrary to what denialists may say, most scientists are extremely reticent, and tend to down play dire predictions. Also, in some famous cases, models of future developments turned out to be universally and enormously optimistic--Arctic Sea Ice Death Spiral, anyone?

Specifically, models have not been incorporating a soon-to-be essentially ice free Arctic. Nor do they factor in carbon cycles. So there is plenty of reason to assume that most published projections of time-frames for an increasingly chaotic climate are optimistic.

ccg, please don't assume that I consider my self worthy of pretty much anything. And certainly, the young and the poor generally don't deserve what we have handed to them. But as a species, we certainly seem to have done a remarkably effective job of smashing everything up. Perhaps it should be posed as whether Industrial Civilization has deserved the right to be perpetuated.

2591
Science / Re: Mauna Loa CO2
« on: May 11, 2013, 04:09:46 AM »
NPR just reported on the milestone. Has anyone else heard any MSM coverage?

On a separate note, up thread there was discussion of CO2 readings being higher in the Arctic. Is this primarily due to higher levels of methane in the area, since methane so rapidly oxidizes into CO2? Or is it because of melting permafrost yielding large quantities of carbon dioxide? Or other reasons?

2592
Consequences / Re: When and how bad?
« on: May 10, 2013, 04:56:24 PM »
Like many others, I mostly agree with Agres' well worded post. (Any relation to '03 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Peter Agre?)

Few doomsteads or local areas are truly self-sufficient, and when supply chains break down as they will, repairs of crucial components (not to mention any new purchases of tech) become...problematic.

We have already seen large occasional weather extremes--mega-heat waves, mega-droughts, mega-floods, massive crop loss--some of which were arguably cemtral causes of major political disruptions (Russia heat wave '10 with consequent stoppage of wheat export--Egypt was their largest importer, iirc > Arab Spring).

These weather extremes will become essentially permanent features, with political consequences that will be predictable in being more and more disruptive to a larger and larger part of global society, but unpredictable in exactly where, when and how hard they fall.

ccg, the numbers for most of the rest of the Middle East / North Africa are comparable to Egypt's figures; some worse (Yemen, iirc), some better. South Asia is another region that has very high populations and major future problems with falling aquifers, rising sea levels, probable shifts in monsoon patters that will prove catastrophic...

Is Europe going to absorb the potentially billions of climate refugees from these regions? Russia? Canada? US?

Jim, you may be right, but those projections seem a tad optimistic to me. Most of the plains states in the US are already in long-term drought. Perhaps they will get some relief later this year. But at some point the stalled systems that caused this drought will stall even longer, and will remain in place for more than one growing season over much of the most productive ag areas of the US (and elsewhere). As a former farmer, perhaps you can enlighten us city-dwellers about what happens when farm fields get essentially no rain for over two years.

A larger point we might consider is whether we as a species have earned the right to be one of the few species to squeeze through the mass extinction bottle neck we have created. Do we deserve to survive the sh!t storm we have created?

These are not questions we generally want to consider, of course.

2593
Science / Re: Mauna Loa CO2
« on: May 08, 2013, 02:42:27 PM »
Thanks, c. That's pretty much what I figured, though it is interesting that it sometimes peaks that early.

In North America, at least, the spring is quite late, so land-plant uptake may be a bit later than normal, though I haven't been following the timing of spring in Eurasia this year.

2594
Science / Re: Mauna Loa CO2
« on: May 08, 2013, 12:56:51 AM »
Is there an average date for the yearly peak? It looks like one happened on the 3rd at about 399.9, with a gradual lowering in the following couple days. But I know that this could just be random variation.

2595
Science / Re: Mauna Loa CO2
« on: May 03, 2013, 01:50:55 PM »
Hourly and daily average continue to hover north of 399, so the next weekly average will certainly be in this range. We have one to two more weeks before the usual highest week, so a 400+ weekly average still seems very possible.

http://bluemoon.ucsd.edu/co2_400/mlo_one_week.png

2596
Permafrost / Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« on: May 03, 2013, 01:40:54 PM »
Thanks for the added info and links. It is my (feeble) understanding that it is uncertain exactly how much of the carbon released from permafrost will be as methane rather than CO2. The MacDougal study only considers CO2.


2597
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.

http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v5/n10/full/ngeo1573.html

Significant contribution to climate warming from the permafrost carbon feedback


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

    Nature Geoscience
    5, 719–721
    (2012)

Abstract:

Quote
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):

http://www.skepticalscience.com/Macdougall.html

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

http://climatesight.org/2012/10/02/permafrost-projections/

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):

http://tamino.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/oh-shit/

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:

Quote
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.)

2598
I'm not sure how permanently people have to be displaced from their homes to be considered refugees. Certainly many refugees from wars do or intend to eventually return to their homes (if there is anything left of them).

Your comments on Phoenix made me think about how they might adapt to such conditions. In an energy constrained world, I imagine it would mean living mostly underground--so do refugees from the surface of the planet into caves or under-ground dwellings count?

----

Meanwhile, we seem to be having climate whiplash here in MN--snow fall records for this time of year have just been smashed in many places--up to 15 inches of heavy snow in a few hours. Could there be an Arctic connection?

2599
Science / Re: Mauna Loa CO2
« on: May 02, 2013, 02:28:45 AM »
Latest recorded week average at Mauna Loa: 398.68, but as Crandle notes, that is based on only two day's worth of data.

http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/weekly.html

The daily and hourly data from the last week in April (presumably the title is supposed to read "Week Ending April 30" not "...May 30") suggests that the average for that week will be well above 399.

http://bluemoon.ucsd.edu/co2_400/mlo_one_week.png

But again, there is a large data gap from noon on the 26th to noon on the 29th.

Too bad that they are having such (instrument, I presume) problems at such a crucial moment.

2600
Consequences / Re: Sea Level Rise by 2100 (POLL)
« on: April 30, 2013, 05:25:24 PM »
I put over 3m, mostly for reasons similar to those A4R states above.

The most likely  (rather than max) rise I would put at 2 m (global average, much higher in some places.) It turns out CO2 actually weakens ice structures, so it is not just the warming we have to worry about, and studies based just on warming or on past warming events are going to be conservative.

But I do think that Vergent and John are right about increased precipitation of snow from an increasingly ice-free Arctic. It is already happening, imho. In Minnesota, we have had the longest and snowiest winter in a long time, and more snow is predicted for Thursday--that will be record matching or breaking late snow in many places. This after years of earlier and earlier melt off, culminating in last year's "Summer in March."

I have to assume that this is because the vast new areas of melt in the Arctic set up a pattern of increasing snow, that worked its way down to our latitude. I can't help but assume that the expected even-greater Arctic sea ice loss this September will lead to an even longer and snowier winter next year. That may push snow falls into June. Would a totally ice free Arctic push snow fall all the way into July and August? I don't know. I tend to assume that the very high sun would quickly melt everything away by the time we got that late. But the sun is as high now as it is in mid-August, and yet there are still piles of snow here and there.

This is a climate tug of war, and I expect that over-all gw will eventually win, and we will return to summers in March and winterless winters. But, as always, predicting the timing is difficult.

And, as they say, winter is coming.

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