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Chris, Ah, there is the problem. The models based on the proven short term factors assert a 3 degC rise per 275 vppm CO2 rise. The paleoclimate record records a 10-12 degC rise per 100vppm rise, 9 times higher. Granted, this relationship is over a limited range and extrapolation far beyond it is highly unreliable. Still, as Dr. Hansen notes, the rise is extremely likely to be very much higher and the climate sensitivity is likely very much higher than 3 degC for a 275 vppm rise, and more likely 8 degC (or more). Anything above a 3-4 degree C rise is likely to be catastrophic. We have to limit to much less than this. Even at 8 degC per 275 vppm, we are headed much higher. On the current trajectory to 600-1,000 vppm, we are headed for unimaginable changes. Even were we magically able to hold things to a 150 vppm rise (425 vppm from our current 400), we are headed to more than a 4 degC temperature rise. At those temperatures, the Greenland and West Antarctic ice are toast. Sam
My point in mentioning the anoxic purple oceans was its shock value. We are all too often complacent in the extreme. We underestimate impacts and effects by relying only on those things we can prove and disregarding the observed past. Dr. Hansen has done a good job of highlighting that, though few actual hear or heed his admonition. The reality will be much more severe and will happen vastly sooner than the models predict. It is precisely the things the models exclude that will bite us in the collective ass. As Kevin notes, there is evidence this has happened before. It requires a larger deviation than we want to hope will happen from current conditions. However, we not only underestimate the impacts and effects of our emissions at our great peril, we instead collectively sigh and increase our bad actions. We have now I believe passed several points of no return. Whatever we do globally, the system is headed to new conditions. No matter what we do we will lose all of the arctic ice. The tundra will collapse and thaw releasing its 1,600+ GT of Carbon with much of that as methane. The atmosphere will reorganize its behavior to adapt to the lessened differential temperature gradient from equator to pole. This will likely mean the loss of the three band system to be replaced by something else. The northern parts of the oceanic conveyor will stall with millennia long implications to the oceans and from them back to the land. Agriculture will never in human history be the same. Perhaps our successors will see climates like those that allowed agriculture to florish. We will not in all likelihood. As to the cat 6 hurricanes.... We have already seen at least one in the Atlantic and upwards of a dozen in the Pacific. The definitions do not recognize them as such, though the formulas are eaisily extended. Likewise we have already seen Tornados that are off the top end of the Fujita scale and that begin a new form of massive systems that have a dozen giant tornados beneath and beside them that scour a mile wide swath of land. Again, the definitions being based on damage fail, as once all structures are gone the scale goes no higher. But when the systems literarily Hoover up the ground, we have entered new territory. Likewise the giant subtropical lows that are every bit as powerful as large hurricanes are outside the definitional bounds of our systems. We collectively need to be shocked out of our blind complacency. We are sleep walking into a buzz saw. I do not know how much any change we make can change the dynamics of the system changes. We might be able to slow some aspects. That may in turn give us some time to adapt and to save some aspects of civilization.
Ding ding ding ding ding ... Jai wins the prize. And what's behind door number 2? Well Alex we have a complete reorganization of atmospheric circulation. We have the halting of large sections of the oceanic conveyor. We have the end of agriculture as we know it. We have the end of civilization to go with that. As an added special bonus, we have a massive global extinction event. We cannot guarantee it will be the largest extinction event, but with just a little more effort it could be. And just for fun, we have thrown in an extra special prize; anoxic purple oceans and category 6 hurricanes!
The earth tool is new and beautiful. It is a little deceiving in being a static image of a very dynamic process. It, like all of the tools, is also deceiving in not showing anything about the vertical dimension. E.g. If ocean temperatures change the density and movement of air vertically, it can act like hills and valleys redirecting flows. In addition, the rolling movement of the Hadley, Ferrel and Polar cells can only really be understood if you see the rising and falling currents of air. I have yet to find any of the web site imagery that depicts that, and better yet, the three dimensional flows. Like you, I haven't followed this particular way of looking at things for long. We didn't have good visual tools, or at least I didn't know of them, or how to interpret what they showed if I saw them. So, I don't now well what to look for yet. You are likely right that it is a seasonal phenomena. I have heard all sorts of speculation about La Niña, El Niño, ... I haven't a clue. What I do see is a strengthening of both the cool anomaly at the equator and the warm anomalies at the tropics, which is what La Niñas look like. Whether that is coming or going, others here can much better answer. I am more looking at the large scale patterns and trying to understand what they might mean in the context of everything else we have seen here. And then to try to understand cause and effect or simple correlation, and any hints at short, intermediate and long term trends or projections.
Toggle Commented Feb 16, 2014 on Looking for winter weirdness 2014 at Arctic Sea Ice
Ok, I am confused. What I was interpreting as the southern equivalent of the northern 10 hPa circulation, clearly isn't. That appears instead to be entirely absent. The large near equatorial circulation appears to be exactly that, a counter rotating band that is likely associated with equatorial flow. We see counter rotating bands on the gas giants. Is this like that? And why are we seeing the high atmosphere circulations only at the North Pole? Pardon my error. Sam
Toggle Commented Feb 16, 2014 on Looking for winter weirdness 2014 at Arctic Sea Ice
John, It has been this way for better than a month. When it started, it formed a huge two lobed figure eight core with twin counter rotating vortices adjacent to the center. One of these is gone now and the other is flattened. The lobe over Greenland has strengthened and the lobe over Asia is smaller. Every bit as stunning, turn the globe over and look to the south. The southern high altitude circulation has moved north to the equator and is and has been a perfect circle through all of this. We seem to have entered a huge asymmetry period north and south. I suspect two things. First that Chris' northern cold pole over Greenland is setting up as a permanent feature. If true, England and Scandinavia are going to stay wet for quite a long time without many years with summers. The circulating lows around Greenland may well pull more summer hurricanes into the Northeastern US and winter cold blasts pulling arctic air down until the arctic ice is gone. Second, that the shift from a three band atmospheric system to a single northern band and a three band southern setup is well underway. The shift is happening in an amazing way though. The unstable two band system (up flow over the North Pole) instead appears as the two lobed flow we are now seeing. The imbalance also seems to show up with the southern bands pushing northward somewhat. Add to that the now seemingly permanent blocking high in the northeast Pacific creating the huge oscillations in the Rossby waves and forcing one of two bifurcated flow patterns either sending heat north into Alaska, or south around it and rains into the Pacific Northwest from the Pineapple Express. La Niña should only strengthen that as the warm bands at the tropics strengthen. It is going to be fascinating to watch the transformation as the arctic ice declines and vanishes over the next decade. We all get ringside seats. I wonder what we'll see as the oceanic conveyor slows in the northern oceans? What will that do to the oceans, and then the atmosphere? Will we see purple anoxic oceans in our lifetimes? Will we see the formation of the great American central desert in that same period? How sudden will those transformations be? Sam
Toggle Commented Feb 16, 2014 on Looking for winter weirdness 2014 at Arctic Sea Ice
Here are a couple more links that make it a lot clearer what is happening. most recent day SST anomaly 30 day loop The ocean thermal plots of trends in anomalies ties in so well with the specific location of the major pacific anomaly (in the plots above) - and then how that then ties to the blocking ridge diverting the jet stream. It's amazing to watch an extratropical low south of Alaska go splat against the invisible barrier in the sky. Those storms would normally spin out of the gulf of Alaska across the Pacific northwest bringing wave after wave of rain to the region. Now, they are smeared and sheered out of existence leaving California deep in drought, and Oregon dry. It is hard to imagine how this gets anything but progressively more difficult in the years to come. The U of W plots of the 250 mb flows show the east coast getting whacked hard again now, then a bitterly cold lull followed by likely getting whacked hard again about the 26-28th. The Rutgers plots show the past in better detail in the enhanced water vapor plots, and clearly show the extratropical low getting smashed Sam
Toggle Commented Jan 22, 2014 on Looking for winter weirdness 2014 at Arctic Sea Ice
Another interesting tidbit. I have watched the El Nino/La Nina cycle for almost 20 years now. In the last 15 years something odd has happened quite often. El Nino shows up as warm oceans off the South American coast that then moves in Kelvin waves Westward across the pacific until it crashes into Asia. As this relatively hot band develops, two cold bands develop with it at the tropics. La Nina does the opposite. Cold spreads across the equator, and warmth spreads in a band at the tropics. In the last 15 years, often the northern band has failed to respond. Rather than being cold with El Nino and warm with La Nina, it has been warm with both. This has to be connected to the northern hemisphere heating and the polar melt in some way. The traditional indices don't capture this, as they monitor the equator only. Sam
I have been watching this develop with keen interest, and I think I begin to see a pattern. See what you all think. Firstly, the folks at the Univ. of Washington have some amazing weather products. One in particular seems to be especially good at identifying the jet streams AND predicting its behavior over the next week. I see several consistent patterns that seem to be developing as the northern hemisphere temperature differential driving force falls. 1) The jet streams stabilize over the asian continent (old pattern) 2) A large body of added oceanic warmth has developed and persisted off of the west coast of the U.S. centered about 135 degrees longitude. This is creating a blocking pattern in the atmosphere. 3) The jets encounter this block and are forced to go mostly north, but sometimes south of the block. In years gone by, this lead to deluge rains in Los Angeles. 4) This diversion then creates an oscillation that ripples across North America and Europe driving the deep oscillations and intrusions of arctic air down over the continent, and very warm air up into Alaska. 5) This is then causing the polar and main jets to merge for much of the journey around the pole. 6) This also leads to new circulations over Canada, Greenland and Europe driving more heat northward and more cold southward in cycles. 7) This also stabilizes the frequency plot of undulations in the jet. 8) There appears to be a similar though weaker blocking pattern developing over the mid north - to north Atlantic. 9) This is driving lots of cold and rain into England and lots of heat into Scandinavia. 10) Finally over central Europe, the continental land mass and southern mountains stabilize the flows again to return back to the Pacific with intense cold over eastern Siberia. 11) There also appears to be another ripple that pulls warmth northward over the Bering straits. 12) This also seems to be driving all sorts of weather changes across the continental U.S. and Europe. Am I seeing things? Or is this a real and developing pattern? Is the oceanic warmth in the northeastern Pacific also then the reason for the many wild changes we have seen in the ocean ecosystems there? E.g. the huge sardine explosion and mammals and birds in California waters, coupled with the starfish die off from Oregon north into Canadian waters. Sam
SH, "What is most amazing is how close we are to this collapse." Actually, this isn't surprising at all. It is another aspect of our collectives inability to understand exponentials. In exponential growth to a limit, the crash isn't immediately apparent (linear thinking) until the situation involves some significant fraction of the problem, often 50% or more. By that point, it is far too late to do anything about the problem. Whether it is algae in a lake, yeast in a dish, or any other problem. The problem isn't obviously apparent, until no solution can work, other than plateau and in short order collapse and death of the system. What makes this all so much worse is that we humans only appear to use science, the scientific method, and related tools. In reality, we rely on rhetoric to decide things. We start by deciding what we want, then apply rhetoric to select arguments from science and all sorts of other fields to bolster our arguments. The problem of course doesn't care what we want or desire. It is operating on physical principles and no amount of argument by us will change that. However, since we generally do not understand that and instead argue based on desires, we don't 'see' the problem until it eats us. Sad.
Toggle Commented Dec 1, 2013 on In memoriam: Albert A. Bartlett at Arctic Sea Ice
VaughnA, If anything, it looks to me like the Ferrel and polar cells have merged, squishing the Ferrel cell out of existence. I have been looking for any imagery or analysis tools that might tell us whether the air column is rising or falling across large areas, but to no avail. I haven't followed this for anywhere near long enough to have any idea whether what I am seeing is part of a normal annual pattern, or something new, or a complete lack of understanding on my part. If the Ferrel cell is indeed gone, then at least as an argument, we might be seeing air rising over the pole, cooling in the upper atmosphere, flowing south and then diving on the north side of the now unitary jet stream to then flow north near the surface, and cooling everything north of there. Is that reflected in ground based data, or satellite data? Or is it refuted? I do not know. As a first blush thought model it suggests things we might look for, but little else. If true, or if some variation on the idea is true, it is hard to imagine how a two cell (or any even number cell) system could be stable. If it isn't, then this might be the temporary step to reach the single cell, jet steam free, equible climate. But that suggestion stands on the shoulders of way to many uncertain speculations to stand much scrutiny. Sam
Osteopop1000, Whistling in the dark, hoping the bears don't bite I see. One data point does not a trend make. Annual variation is expected. As many noted, just applying probabilities to the observed exponential downward trend to zero with observed annual variation, the probabilities suggested a high liklihood for a bounce this year. Seeing the changing states of the ice and atmosphere, others of us climbed out on a limb thinking that we were seeing signs of a state change here at the very end of the ice. Not so. Despite all these signs, the changes are behaving as statistics suggests they should. On balance that still means an ice free Arctic summer (<1% I've) in 2015 plus or minus a year or two.
Quality is the key now. Despite this being a bizarre rebound year, the ice quality is crap. The standard indexes of area and extent have become highly deceptive. With the extensive fracturing and thinning of the remaining ice, and that ice pulling off Ellesmere, next year and the year after should be breathtaking. So, now we wait for the inevitable.
Toggle Commented Aug 31, 2013 on Hole at Arctic Sea Ice
Apologies... The Apple i-whatever's seem to just love substituting i's for o's. e.g. "if" for "of" and "fir" for "for"....
Toggle Commented Aug 29, 2013 on Hole at Arctic Sea Ice
This isn't the right place for this, but then I don't know where the right place might be. In thinking about the various differences this year and trying to puzzle out causes, I keep going back to the atmospheric influences. First I look to the jet stream and the changes there, and about how the two jets seem to be merging. But then, I also keep thinking there is something else controlling. The folks at the University of Washingtin have some amazing tools for trying to sort out what may be happening. In particular, I think the Rossby number must be important (or the related vorticy). I also think the solar minima we are currently passing through is key (on the decadal not yearly scale). I wonder whether anyone has a good tracking site for telling whether the atmosphere is rising or falling, to get some idea whether the polar and Ferrell cells may be merging. The plots of pressure height divided by vorticity in particular looks to be important fir the fracturing of the ice north if Ellesmere. So, thoughts anyone/everyone? Sam
Toggle Commented Aug 29, 2013 on Hole at Arctic Sea Ice
Hans, I wish I did. I wish we did. There isn't monitoring of this that I have been able to find. About the only thing I can go by is he secondary indication, the huge reduction in Ice transport down the northeast side of Greenland. The cold fresh water comes from the ice melt. As the volume of ice transported goes down, it seems apparent that he diving flows of cold fresh water have to be declining. Once the ice is gone in the summer, that flow will clearly be gone in the summer.
Toggle Commented Aug 25, 2013 on Hole at Arctic Sea Ice
Neven, Far from it. I have been watching the ice since the first MODIS images were posted. There have always been cracks and polynyas, shear fronts and pressure ridges. But this is different. I watched in horror as the ice pulled away from Ellesmere draining a lake system that formed on the ice annually and which had a unique ecosystem estimated to be at least 3,000 years old. I watched too along with all of you as the Northwest passage and Siberian Sea routes opened for the first time in recorded history, and then when both opened simultaneously allowing the first circumnavigation of the arctic sea, by a sailboat no less. And I have watched as we all have here as the conditions got worse and worse with the expected variations from year to year. But the extensive fracturing of the MYI combined with the ice pulling away from Ellesmere and with large open areas and a sea of icebergs near and at the pole. This is new. With the extensive and wide fractures, the ice no longer has integrity. Sure, there was shear fracturing before. And that led to massive ice ridges under and above the ice that submarines and ice breakers in particular had to watch out for. But this isn't that. This is different. The ice is pulling apart in all directions. This year we are too late in the season for that to mean much. However, I see it as a harbinger of the next two seasons, the two seasons where we should see the end of the summer ice play out. The annual vagueries and variations will no doubt confuse and confound us as they always do. But the path is inevitable. Once the summer ice is gone, the consequences to atmospheric circulation should begin to kick into high gear. The familiar cell and jet stream system will likely break down as the energetic driving force disappears. What that will be replaced by is anyone's guess. We will very soon find out. Then too, the diving flows of fresh water melt in the northern Atlantic have already begun failing. With that goes the driving forces for a large segment of the great oceanic circulation. That too will have massive global impacts. Precisely how that plays out we do not yet know. That too we will soon learn.
Toggle Commented Aug 25, 2013 on Hole at Arctic Sea Ice
Even more amazing. Look toward Ellesmere today from the pole. Tell me this year isn't stunning, and that the setup for next summers melt isn't unprecedented.,-607104,-143104,-442240&products=baselayers,MODIS_Terra_CorrectedReflectance_TrueColor~overlays,arctic_coastlines_3413&time=2013-08-23&switch=arctic
Toggle Commented Aug 24, 2013 on Hole at Arctic Sea Ice
Looking at the real climate piece and the 2.3 m/C and the, likely 6 C rise we are baking into the system, we look to be in for a 14 + meter sea level rise. I wouldn't expect it to stop there. More likely, Greenland and West Antarctica will go ice free. The real question is how rapidly that will happen. We have been so poor in predicting things so far, and we know from slower natural warmings that there have been much larger rises in less than the limit of or ability to resolve then at 1000 years. I would expect then that the rise will be substantially complete in 200 - 300 years as a guess.
Toggle Commented Aug 15, 2013 on Perception of the Arctic 2 at Arctic Sea Ice
Susan, No emotion here, just decades of first hand experience. The costs are the final and most definitive nail in nuclears cophin. Even then, the costs and impacts will continue for centuries.
Toggle Commented Aug 15, 2013 on Perception of the Arctic 2 at Arctic Sea Ice
The two James see the world ending frightening aspects of climate change, and the ever seductive massive power densities of nuclear and are seduced by it. No surprises there. That some are seduced by the siren song does not mean that it will work. That way lie the shoales and rocks. It provides no escape, only a different disaster.
Toggle Commented Aug 15, 2013 on Perception of the Arctic 2 at Arctic Sea Ice
Wal, The CO2 emissions from mining, milling, processing, enrichment, construction, deconstruction, dismantlement, reprocessing, vitrification, deep burial, and more make fission as much a dead end, trap, or pipe dream as fusion. There is no answer there; and even if there were, it certainly wouldn't be in time to meet the need. And that doesn't even begin to count the enormous costs from both routine emissions of radioactive materials on health (noble gases, iodines, C14, T) or the much larger emissions from catastrophic failures like Chernobyl, Fukushima, and others to come, or even the more routine failures like TMI, Fermi, and a dozen others; nor the dead end costs of plants like Phenix and Super Phenix, nor the less direct costs of losing hundreds or thousands of hectares for centuries as has become all too common. Neither does that count the enormous distortions of law and culture as rules are changed following accidents, allowing massive exposures, as even nations cannot deal with the enormous costs and implications of doing anything else. More, as the reactor fleets age, the rules are bent yet again to allow heavily fractured, corroded, eroded, dying systems to run to failure, and concrete to crumble to dust under the relentless bombardment of billions upon tens of billions of sieverts of radiation dose and more; creating yet larger risks of catastrophes on scales not yet imagined. And no, thorium reactors are not an answer; especially not thorium breeders, as Shippingport demonstrated. Neither are molten salt reactors with their witches brew of beryllium salts an answer. These are yet more pipe dreams that turn to nightmares to haunt our futures. No, thank you. Fission not and radiate me not, for there is not but illusory gain there to be had. Worse yet, no matter the choice of reactor or fuel, the fissiles left behind become a nightmare for billions as those who would wage war extract them for weapons; weapons that are all too easily made. We already have a thousand tons of plutonium in the world; enough for a quarter million or more Nagasaki's. Before we are done, we will have many times that. Plutonium ages even "better" than the finest wines, making yet better bomb materials as the millennia pass. And there is no getting rid of the stuff. Burying it deep with radioactive waste is no guarantee, as it outlasts its radioactive relatives. Burning it in reactors is no answer, as that only compounds the problem and makes the economics vastly worse, the emissions a nightmare, and the difficulties soar. And there are no better answers than these. U-233 as a byproduct from thorium is in some ways even "better" yet. For it combines the reduced critical mass like plutonium, with a low spontaneous fission neutron generation rate making trivial to build gun assemblies easy. And no U-232 is no significant deterrent, despite the problems it creates. No, fission not. There is no answer there. Sam
Toggle Commented Aug 15, 2013 on Perception of the Arctic 2 at Arctic Sea Ice
Jai, Firstly, thankyou. Please succeed. Secondly, the ice is going. Time is short, very short, very very short.
Toggle Commented Aug 14, 2013 on Perception of the Arctic 2 at Arctic Sea Ice
Connie, At best (least heating) we are following A1F1. However, that and all of the models ignore completely several devastating known positive feedbacks. Several of these are now kicking in. Among them the current largest is the breakdown of the tundra and permafrost. That will ultimately lead to the release of something like 1,600+ gigatons of carbon. Much of that is now releasing as methane, CO2's evil little sister. As the warmth is moving down into the oceans, the stability line for methane clathrates is moving deeper. As this proceeds, methane clathrate is boiling (slowly for now) out of the sediment. This is most evident in the arctic. But it will not stop there. Like the tundra collapse, this too is releasing massive amounts of methane. Before it is done, it will dwarf the releases from the land. As all this progresses, and as the arctic sheet melts, the heat engine is breaking own. That has already led to chaotic weather across most of the northern hemisphere. If, as now appears likely, we are In the beginnings of a shift from a three cell (Hadley, Ferrell, and Polar) system with two jet streams at the boundaries to a single cell (Hadley only) system whose behavior we do not understand at all, the changes will be even greater and faster. Agriculture as we have known it will likely be impossible in the northern hemisphere within a decade and for at least several decades there after. What happens after that is unknowable. Whole biomes will be lost as the climatic bands we have known dramatically reorganize on timescales that most plants and animals will not be able to adapt to. As all this happens, the great oceanic circulation will dramatically shift as the diving current if melt from the arctic is lost. As with the atmospheric circulation changes, it is unknowable what happens next. Our best information and hints will come from deep geohistory with sediment cores from the land and cleans and places like lake El Gygytgyn. There are few of these that I've us reliable clues. But what they do tell us, is the that he world will look nothing like anything man has ever known. And all of this is happening several orders of magnitude faster than anything we can reliably see in all of earths long history. For us to significantly affect this, we must prevent warming from leading to ice free arctic summer conditions. Since that is coming I only two years or so, preventing that is now impossible. And so we are no longer in control. If we go all in on every possible mitigation, reducing fuel use to the maximum degree physically possible, all that will happen is that we will slightly slow the transition. Enjoy the ride. It's going to get bumpy.
Toggle Commented Aug 14, 2013 on Perception of the Arctic 2 at Arctic Sea Ice
Alas, we humans are terminally myopic. We make hippopatami look farsighted and wise. As several here note, converting to alternative energy sources is all upside. And it is necessary. However it is not sufficient. Even saying that implies to some that then there is some answer or answers that is sufficient. And we poor humans want to believe that. Believing anything else leads to despair and worse. But the truth of it is that we have crossed the Rubicon. We have gone beyond the points of no return in several ways. There is no going back. There is no bridge to the desired past. Whatever we do now will only slightly change the trajectory of our headlong flight into oblivion. Most among us have yet to glimpse that, let alone embrace that, and then ask - ok, what do we do now? Worse, many of our kind have horse blinders on and feel the sting of the economic whip. For them, there is no choice but to gallop headlong forward as fast as possible. They do not see the abyss just ahead. As a result, they do not care. They cannot care. The whip bites their haunches harder and harder with each new stride. More of the same. Ever more of the same. If only we run faster yet, all will be well. The truth, the reality, the world crashing danger is beyond their ken. So here we are morbidly watching in fascination at the majesty of the Earth's intricate systems and balancing forces in action. We have an armchair seat to one of the greatest transitions mama earth can accomplish. We get to watch the changing of a geologic epoch in real time and at break neck speed. Woo hoo! Hang on to your hats. You might be one of the (un)lucky survivors...
Toggle Commented Aug 14, 2013 on Perception of the Arctic 2 at Arctic Sea Ice