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Crandles, In my (and doubtless others) opinion, hope is only helpful when it can accomplish something meaningful. Otherwise it is a terrible wasted effort that assuages our fears while giving us a false belief and stalling us from actions that might be meaningful. I believe David is correct in his original assertion. The year on year rises in CO2 levels are increasing. As CO2, methane and nitrous oxide (and other greenhouse gases) rise, they are triggering self reinforcing feedback loops that are and will for a time lead to even greater rises in level as natural reservoirs release their retained gases. This is particularly true of the seabed methane and the CO2 and methane in the tundra. Each of these are massive sources. And they are breaking down even as we while away our time chatting about it. People need to know and understand just how dire the situation is. There are things we can and should do. These actions 'may' slow the transition. And that might be critically important not just for man but for whole ecosystems and entire phyla of creatures. We cannot now stop the transition that we have invoked by our actions and by our collective ignorance and arrogance. It is far too late for that. From the data, it appears that the last time we could have stopped this transition was about the time Carter was the US President. Had we gone all in to stop carbon emissions and population growth then, we might have stopped it. Now, well now all we can do is slow the rate of change and try to adapt as the whole of the world goes through one of the greatest extinction events in all of geologically recorded history. We can perhaps by our actions slow things and save some of that that would otherwise be lost. But we can only do that if we act massively and immediately. And we simply won't do that. So hope is useless at this point. Fear on the other hand, fear may serve us. Sam
Rob, At every step along the way, science, physics, the accepted model has grossly under predicted the rates of change. This is not at all surprising. The origin of the failure is the omission of large critically important factors and feedbacks, as well as a general paucity of data to derive appropriate models. What models we have are getting better with every passing year. Yet, with every passing month we learn more that we didn't know that bears directly on the problem and that highlights yet more positive self reinforcing feedbacks. If you insist on only using confirmed and validated models to tell you where we are going, your first indication of disaster will be the moment you fly off the cliff or smash headlong into a wall. The IPCC consensus is woefully out of date, to the point of uselessness. More recent developments are better, yet the ice continues to surprise us collectively. The steps from here to the future are plain and obvious. The questions are ones of timing and precedence. What comes first? What comes next? What do the timings of those arrivals tell us about the future. As far as the science goes, it hasn't been good. We have had a truly immense application of type 1/2 errors (which depending on the framing of the question). We have collectively bolloxed it up by falsely and wrongly presuming we know all we need to know to accurately project future behavior. In point of fact we have almost uniformly gotten that absence of important and critical knowledge wrong in a systematic way that underrepresents the rate of change and collapse. The coming reorganization of the atmosphere is yet another of these. That it has already begun is plain as day. Exactly how that works, we don't have even the basics to predict with any fidelity. What little we can project is already starting. Hang on tight. The ride is going to be bumpy.
Bobcobb, In the battle between El Niño and the Blob/RRR, El Niño prevailed. El Niño is now dead. La Niña appears to be forming quickly. The ridge though not solid as before is also reforming. In the past month it has risen, rotated, fallen, rerisen ... It will be back presently. Do try to think in more than the present moment.
Bobcobb, What should be absolutely clear to everyone by now is that we are inexorably headed for a blue ocean event. Whether that starts this year or sometime between now and 2023 is of little to no significance. What matters is that we are going there. With record high atmospheric CO2 (over 408 ppm at Mauna Loa this year, and rapidly approaching exceeding 400 ppm globally year round), and record stunningly high methane levels, and continuing increases in releases of both, there is at this point likely no chance that over the next decade or three that we won't succeed at having an essentially ice free Arctic winter. As the Arctic continues to warm and as we lose power in the cold pole of the atmospheric heat engine, we quickly reach a point of destabilization of the atmospheric circulation systems. We are dangerously close to that now. We see tell tale signs of that now with the destabilization of the jet streams, the slowing of these, vastly greater oscillation of these and formation of things like the ridiculously resilient ridge that are already wreaking havoc globally. Should we (when we) finally do cross that boundary, we cross a state transition. Everything changes after that. We lack even the most fundamental information to be able to adequately model what happens after that. We can paint the picture in broad strokes. But we certainly cannot adequately model the fine details or timing of the events to follow. We can get a reasonable idea of the end state -> an equable climate world. But the transition likely will be neither smooth nor comfortable. We should have avoided even the smallest possibility of such a thing with everything we have. Instead, our collective lack of ability to recognize and accept the consequences of our actions sends us on our way there at breakneck speed. And we won't have to wait long for the answers.
Rob, From the looks of the extensive shattered fracturing of the ice in the central Arctic and the fracturing bands now extending all along the shores of the islands from Banks to Ellesmere (especially in the last 12 hours), I rather suspect that melt ponds won't be much of an issue this year (if any issue at all). The ice simply appears unable to support them. The heatwave that is just beginning should have spectacular consequences to the ice. On other notes... I find it hard to imagine given the difficulties in setting up and supporting the runway for Barneo Ice camp this year that there will be many more years left for Barneo. Add to that the need to abandon staging through Svalbard and shifting to Franz Josef Land instead, and the conditions even for next years base look grim. I doubt we will see the ice go below 1 million km2 this year. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it reach between 2 and 2.5. And I would be very surprised if it fails to go below 3. This is shaping up to be a spectacularly bad year for the arctic ice. For the better part of ten years now, we have collectively struggled with understanding whether the ice decline would proceed uniformly in some manner (linear or exponential), whether it might at some point fall off of a cliff and do a state transition, or whether other factors might cause the end to go more slowly and taper off. We are very near the time of transition to an ice free Arctic in September. So far the uniform smooth transition (somewhat exponential) seems to be the winner, with the normal and expected annual random variations making it hard to cleanly tell any of these as being the answer. At this point, we are so close, that I suspect that noise in the data wins out in the end. And I don't think it matters all that much anyway. The difference between 2010 and 2020 is a blink in the recorded history of man. It is very small compared to the last 400 years. And it is even moderately small in the period during which we have burned over 95% of the fossil fuels consumed so far. The difference between these only looks big if we look in terms of the last decade or so since we began seeing the bulk of the ice melt. I would suggest that whether the 1 million km2 threshold is crossed this year, next year, or not until 2023 makes absolutely no difference at all in real terms. By waiting until we have reached even our present state before dramatically ending fossil fuel use we have sealed our collective fates. There is no turning back now.
The entire ice sheet is rotating counter clockwise westward just above Canada at a rate of 17 km per day. Stunning.
Neven, I think what may be confusing some readers is that often 'calving' often is ice falling into oceans. With no ocean in the close up it isn't obvious what's happening. In this case, the Greenland ice sheet is to the right. The glacial channel is to the left. The structure of the glacier has slowly failed backing up the channel to the point it is now over the ridge in the subsurface that separates the main ice sheet from the channel. And it appears the breakup of the glacier may now have moved farther right past the ridge into the main ice cover for Greenland. This is important, as that ridge entry to the channel is a choke point slowing the ice. If the failure and melting move landward from there potentially melting could occur more quickly. The ice is failing from left to right within your red circle across the lip of the ridge. Sam
Toggle Commented Aug 17, 2015 on Jakobshavn record retreat at Arctic Sea Ice
I have wondered for some time now whether this set of observations combined with the loss of deltaT between the equator and the pole shutting down the jet streams as we know them might offer an explanation of the equable climate quandary. As heats builds up and the ice melts leaving warmer conditions through the arctic night, it would seem to make sense to me that it may lead to a warm Arctic Ocean in the summer that results in evaporation and cloud formation that acts as a heavy blanket over the arctic through the winter. As summer breaks and the sun returns to the arctic, the clouds warm and disappear. The ocean is then heated through the summer. Winter returns, the atmosphere cools, and condensation clouds return once again to blanket the arctic holding the heat in. I am not a 'cloud guy', so I am out of my depth here. But it does seem like a plausible logical progression. Sam
Toggle Commented Aug 12, 2015 on A wetter and warmer Arctic at Arctic Sea Ice
Stunning! http://1.usa.gov/1P8yQze I am reminded of 2001 A Space Odyssey and the character Dave Bowman's quote: "My God, It's full of stars!" Looking at Wipneus' excellent plots, we appear on track to equal 2012. The tale will be told in late August when the central Arctic comes in (or not). But looking at the ice yesterday on Aqua, where there should have been 4 meter ice, there is Swiss cheese instead. Looking at the Beaufort, there is an ice slushy or worse. It's hard to image now how 2015 won't equal or beat 2012. It's equally hard for me to imagine a recovery this winter sifficient to prevent 2016 from being that first year of an essentially ice free arctic. This is bolstered by the monster El Niño that just continues to build and build and build, with yet another thermal wave coming. It looks like it will truly be a monster. Then add in the apparent shutdown of the end of the Gulf Stream as it redirects flow toward the Mediterranean leaving an immense cold pool in the North Atlantic Ocean and the impact of that on the dipole, the immense "blob" in the Pacific and its impact on the jet streams and flows into the Arctic, and all of these together make 2016 look to be THE year. And if not, the prelude or penultimate melt out to it.
Toggle Commented Aug 6, 2015 on ASI 2015 update 5: late momentum at Arctic Sea Ice
Phillip, I couldn't agree more. It appears clear at this point that all of the ice thickness/volume models have become completely unreliable and frankly unusable. They don't agree with one another in huge ways. And as you note, they don't match observed reality. But then the extent models aren't much better. The Danish effort is the worst. What looks like an up trend in ice is in reality the shattering of the sheet. And this points out another huge issue, namely that of relying on metrics to be surrogates for reality and forgetting that they are simply metrics. The bases for the metrics can completely fall apart, as is happening with extent, and as a result be rendered not just of low utility, but as in the DMI plots, become downright misleading. Sam Sam
Toggle Commented Aug 6, 2015 on ASI 2015 update 5: late momentum at Arctic Sea Ice
Also, the ice all over western Greenland is looking very bad, with extensive lakes and 'rivers' feeding them. http://1.usa.gov/1I4NCG3 Sam
Toggle Commented Jul 16, 2015 on PIOMAS July 2015 at Arctic Sea Ice
As everyone has noted, this is a fascinating (and terrifying) melt year. I am somewhat surprised that no one has made note of the calving of the last of the thick hard land fast ice off of Ellesmere on July 2. Perhaps that has come up in the forum. http://1.usa.gov/1I4MEcC The shelf that calved is almost exactly the area of the U.S. State of Delaware. It is sliding westward and quickly beginning to break up. In the last day, there has been a sudden shift and rapid breakup has begun in the Northwest passage at both ends too. http://1.usa.gov/1I4N2YD And from the looks of it, the Siberian Seaway is very close to opening across its entire length. There is a lot of broken ice and ice fields still blocking the way to open navigation, but I don't see any firm ice sheets on the route. Sam
Toggle Commented Jul 16, 2015 on PIOMAS July 2015 at Arctic Sea Ice
Wow. The minor fracture off Ellesemere is now a major fracture that extends all the way from the Beaufort Sea to the Atlantic. http://1.usa.gov/1LUvmyJ The thick land fast ice is now completely free to move with the wind and currents. The last remaining piece that had only narrow fractures was the part over Ellesmere. Not any more. This should be an amazing melt year.
I agree that in terms of global warming, the barycentric argument is grasping at straws to try to in some way excuse continued inaction and profit making while the world burns. However, we should not then throw the baby out with the wash water just because that is a bad argument. Doing so would echo the opposition to J. Harlan Bretz noting the factual and extremely important evidence of massive cataclysmic floods on the Columbia Ricer on the basis that flood catastrophism is religion and we are doing science. That was foolish and wrong headed. I believe we would be equally foolish and wrong headed to discard barycentric astrophysical arguments on the basis of fallacious arguments trying to avoid blaming humanity for global warming. Likewise, reducing the arguments to gravitational tidal affects is also wrong. The complex orbital dynamics clearly occur and cannot be avoided in a multi body system. Gravity and resulting accelerations are important. But so too are conservation of linear and angular momentum (both orbital and body rotations) and the first, second and third order moments of inertia and the complex impacts on these. These lead to complex changes in torque and rotational accelerations, as well as drifting changes in the orbital parameters of all of the bodies involved. In the near term, these will at the least appear to average out. Howeve, the situation is made more complex by the non average deviation from baseline and most importantly by fluid dynamics. This is especially true for that big gaseous object we call the Sun. It is abundantly clear that the combined orbital oscillations of the Sun, Jupiter and Saturn, and to a lesser degree the other planets drive the solar atmospheric circulation. Even minor torque changes disrupt that systems stability and gaseous distribution and flows, as well as the main solar sun spot cycle. Holding those minor imbalances for years creates a bias that moves a lot of parameters. It is not at all surprising this results in major impacts in the solar atmosphere, and consequently to earth in a variety of ways. The end effect is quite observable in the solar minima cycle in sun spots. This is less dramatic than the main cycle, but none the less important, as some minima can lead to a very quiescent sun for prolonged periods. And, that can have somewhat large climatic effects (e.g. The little ice age). Even though we are smack in a solar minima, that is not happening now. Let me repeat, that has happened before, but is not happening now. This minima is a relatively mild minima, which serves to lengthen and lessen the expected cycle. The reality is much more complex though and will extend over two to three cycles. What I do find interesting are two things. First, a good understanding of these cycles and their effects could lead to a vastly better retrospective model of the past, which could iron out some of the minor discrepancies or more properly irregularities that exist between observations and the modeling (which include the larger 22,000 - 25,000 year cycles of precession, insulation, movement if the nodes, oscillation of the polar tilt, etc...). Second, I am perplexed that so many astronomers seem to be either completely unaware that this issue exists, or adamantly opposed to it based on what appear at least to be either anti religious, anti political or overly simplified physics arguments. It us all too easy to try to simplify the complex orbital systems to simple gravitational effects. And I am sympathetic to a degree, as the arguments of the denialists do often seem like a never ending barrage of gibberish. The Suns orbit is so perturbed by the planets, that it is quite fair to say that much of the time, the Sun itself orbits the vacant barycenter of our solar system. At other times the barycenter is near the center of the Sun. And as anyone who has ever played on or around the center of a merry go round can attest, moving in, over and out of the center can have huge dynamic affects and in the case of humans can result in severe vomiting. Now what does any of this have to do with the polar melt? Well, I would argue that during the little ice age it had a significant impact deepening the freeze and altering climate and weather. I would argue that it is having a very small effect during this minima. Worse, whatever effect it is having is serving to mask the effects of human caused global warming, meaning that it is leading to a lessening of the warming impacts at the worst possible time. In no way is it, or can it, lead to a sharp increase in warming as we are seeing since the 1960s or so. What it can do is provide a slightly dampening of the apparent warming, leading politicians and profiteers and denialists to rage for more inaction all the while momentum builds and a faster rate of change is locked in for the future. And I again emphasize that this is a mild solar minima. Sam
Also unnoticed in the press, the daily average CO2 levels measured at Mauna Loa exceeded 404 ppm for the last two days for the first time in human history. (404.17 and 404.01). We are at or near the peak for the year. Next year we will blow through 405 and 406 and may flirt with 407. When you combine that with methane and nitrogen oxides, the levels are much higher, unsustainably higher, which bodes ill for the ice. Sam
Toggle Commented May 18, 2015 on Bill McKibben nails it at Arctic Sea Ice
The lake was lost in 2002 with the ice breaking up off Ellesmere. That repeated in 2003 and 2010. http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=45463 The jet stream in the meantime has gotten very strange over North America. It is projected to get stranger with a strengthening cyclonic flow at 250 hpa, and a deep and deepening ridge over the pacific. http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/isobaric/250hPa/orthographic=-119.51,52.46,525 http://earth.nullschool.net/#2015/05/22/0900Z/wind/isobaric/250hPa/orthographic=-119.51,52.46,525 Winds are driving heat north into the arctic. That is projected to continue as well. For the moment, surface winds are pushing the ice back on shore competing with the gyre. The projection reverses that in the days to come. http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/surface/level/overlay=temp/orthographic=-118.14,70.18,1245 http://earth.nullschool.net/#2015/05/22/0900Z/wind/surface/level/overlay=temp/orthographic=-118.14,70.18,1245
Toggle Commented May 18, 2015 on Bill McKibben nails it at Arctic Sea Ice
The ice first fractured open on April 22 all the way to Ellesmere. A separate rupture started building from the Greenland side. And within days a minor fracture opened all the way across. That was when I commented about the fracture clean across the top of Ellesmere. The western end then opened and fractured (shattered really) seaward of Banks island as the gyre sheared open ice all across several seas from just west of Ellesmere all the way to Alaska. But as you note, in the last week this has become a pretty spectacular breakup from Banks island to the western end of Ellesmere, with continued movement on the fracture off Ellesmere. This region is the home to the last of the land fast thick ice. If we get a substantial melt in general and breakup this year, it looks conceivable that this ice could be moved seaward and become subject to much faster melt. It's definitely worth tracking. I don't remember this happening before. I remember watching in horror as the ice off Ellesmere fractured for the first time draining an annual lake with a unique ecosystem estimated to be thousands of years old. I do not remember what year that was. It might have been as early as 98-99 or as late as 07. But that was likely the first time. Now it has fractured several times, though I do not recall anything quite like this. Sam
Toggle Commented May 17, 2015 on Bill McKibben nails it at Arctic Sea Ice
We have a new development. The thick ice has broken up north of Banks island for much of the last decade entering the arctic summer. Now, the thick ice is breaking up north and east of Prince Patrick island and coming ungrounded. http://1.usa.gov/1dawGCj It did that in 2012 - in mid August. Did this happen in 2007 as well? How unusual is this, especially this early? Sam
Toggle Commented May 17, 2015 on Bill McKibben nails it at Arctic Sea Ice
Bryant, You seem to be making the fundamental error of believing that this is an argument about beliefs and that that is what is important. Nature doesn't give a rip what anyone thinks or believes. It operates on fundamental principles with a total disregard to thoughts, beliefs and feelings. This isn't about an argument in a class on rhetoric. This is about the fundamental realities of the world that immediately threaten the continued existence of our species on earth. There is no chaining oneself to poles going on. This isn't rhetoric. It is scientific speculation on where we are precisely at this moment and where we are headed. There are of course great unknowns in that. However, erring at all in our understanding of this can lead us to continue actions that have a very high risk of ending the existence of the vast majority of species currently extant on earth, including humans. Let us get very real here for a moment. The atmospheric changes resulting from human emissions of CO2, methane and nitrogen oxides have now caused oceanic and atmospheric changes that are dramatically changing atmospheric and oceanic circulation. This has directly caused the beginning of a perpetual drought in California that will depopulate most of the state in the next several years. Following that we can reaaonably expect to see the same happen across a swath from the Oregon California border east to Iowa and south through Texas. This will become the great American desert comparable to the Sahara. In time temperature rise will render Dallas and Houston with climates similar to present day Death Valley. The people from that region have already waited too long. The crops are failing. Their mass exposus will reverse the exodus of the dust bowl with titanic societal changes in the east, if that is where they end up. At the same time, the changed jet stream is for a time dragging the remaining arctic cold southward over the eastern U.S. This isn't as massive a change as the locals perceived it to be. And it will not last. But, just now it shapes the thinking of the people who live there and who dominate U.S. and world politics. That couldn't come at a worst time for sanity. The bulk of the world gets it. It is only a small but important set of people in the U.A. who do not. Ask the people of São Paulo or Australians in general. They now know what climate drought feels like and how that can rapidly change and destroy whole nations. The declining great oceanic circulation in the North Atlantic is already shifting the northern end of the Gulf Stream and cutting off that flow of heat to Europe. In the next several years that will change climate and weather there immensely. But in what ways? The jet stream motive force is the heat differential from pole to equator. As that declines the driving force is falling. At first that has slowed the jets and made them erratic. Now it appears to be making the early steps to something else as chaos has begun to develop in the jet streams over Asia. And the western Antarctic has now begun unstoppable terminal collapse. The next three decades are going to be an exciting, harsh and amazing experience. Though some in the U.S. desperately want to frame this as a debate over beliefs, it is none of that. This is a global crisis greater than ever faced by man. And yet we are treating it as a freahman debate club argument. Grow up. Wake up. Get real.
Toggle Commented May 14, 2015 on Bill McKibben nails it at Arctic Sea Ice
Correction... We are headed at breakneck speed back to the Eocene.
Toggle Commented May 14, 2015 on Bill McKibben nails it at Arctic Sea Ice
Bryant, Tonyjuggler, Have you completely lost your ability to reason? The arctic is nearing terminal meltdown. The climate system on the whole is on the verge of a state change as a result which will be cataclysmic for most species on earth including humans. Drilling anywhere and continuing to increase emissions in the face of all that is freaking nuts, unless of course you have a death wish for all of humanity. But to go that one better and support drilling in one of the most sensitive and difficult places on the whole freaking planet - I am flabbergasted by the over the top level of stupid that requires. There will be no possible cleanup from a spill or blowout in the arctic. Choosing to drill anyway and risk that is blow out the gaskets madness. Then to just add one more level of icing on the cake, the liklihood of failure in the arctic is orders of magnitude greater than anywhere else. And as to strict regulations.... Bah humbug. There is no such thing. No one will go to jail. No person will be fined and lose their personal fortune. There will be no accountability. The regulators are fully cooptedn by the industry. And the politicians are cuddled up in their pockets. Reason is fine and wonderful. But it is near to meaningless anymore. We have likely blown through dozens of points of no return, and as a consequence we are headed inexorably to a world unlike anything humanity has ever known. We are headed to the Eemian at break neck speed and now for good measure we've decided to strap the biggest rocket we can find to our ass and light it off, to see what'll happen. Here, hold my beer. Watch this.... Being polite, saying kind words to the psychopaths so they like you is a sure enough ticket on the ride to hell.
Toggle Commented May 14, 2015 on Bill McKibben nails it at Arctic Sea Ice
Oh also, this years El Niño is shaping up to be a monster. More than that, the blob in the eastern pacific is developing a swooping tail. This pattern is also beginning to show up in other ocean basins. At the same time, the polar and mid latitude jets are becoming rapidly more confused and chaotic, especially over Asia. Some years ago I asked how close we might be to an atmospheric reorganization from a three cell system to a single cell system. That resulted in some fascinating discussions and a first order thermodynamic analysis that suggested that we are very close. I am curious, does anyone here know if that work has been extended and refined to get some idea what conditions may trigger the reorganization? Is the chaos we are beginning to see the first signs of that, or is it something else? Will the first years of ice free arctic summer be enough? Or will it take perennial I've free conditions to trigger it? Sam
Toggle Commented May 13, 2015 on 2014/2015 Winter analysis at Arctic Sea Ice
If El Niños are key, and looking at the plot of El Niño/La Niña year intensities, this years melt may be epic. In the recent past 2007 and 2012 do at least on first glance appear to correlate to intense melts. http://ggweather.com/enso/oni.htm Sam
Toggle Commented May 13, 2015 on 2014/2015 Winter analysis at Arctic Sea Ice
Very sad news indeed. http://www.explorersweb.com/polar/news.php?url=polar-skiers-missing-on-the-arctic-ice_1430393292
Toggle Commented Apr 30, 2015 on EGU2015, my impressions at Arctic Sea Ice
Pjie2 It's all relative to the size scale of the area in question. Would you prefer shattered, crushed or pounded? Sam
Toggle Commented Apr 24, 2015 on CryoSat-2 sea ice thickness maps at Arctic Sea Ice