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R. Gates
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Not posted here in quite some time but read nearly everything Neven posts. Quite a nice discussion going on, especially on the extremes of being too conservative vs. too alarmist in talking about what is going on in the Arctic right now. Also of course, calling a record low year at this point, as we've learned is a fool's errand at best. This is a nonlinear chaotic system, and that cuts both ways. Related to that however, is that clearly some sort of significant black swan event is occuring this year meaning that we are close to a Dragon King event, or a real change of state in the Arctic. It may not occur this year, or it might, again, a chaotic and truly unpredictable event. But this is certainly what being on the edge of a momentous Dragon King event looks like for the Arctic, regardless of the exact year it occurs. This amazing forum that Neven provides is a diary of sorts giving a full accounting of the events leading up to that inevitable true Dragon King event when the Arctic changes forever.
Excellent update Nevin. I'm certainly in agreement about the melt ponding being critical to getting that SW solar warming of the ice earlier in the season as insolation is peaking. I think it is also worth looking at the amount of early season melt along the perimeter, and corresponding higher SST's as more SW can also be absorbed there and that warmer water work to melt the edge of the ice pack. See for example, the high SST's in the Bering being advected and working to melt the ice into the Chukchi:,67.61,2577
Toggle Commented May 20, 2014 on ASI 2014 update 1: melt pond May at Arctic Sea Ice
Francesco, Thanks for mentioning this. Yes, indeed these direct leaks of methane from oil and gas drilling and transmission are far larger than the industry would like to have known. These leaks, going on now worldwide as fracking has exploded around the world, are adding insult to injury in regards to their additional contribution of methane in addition to the permafrost melt, new biological sources being activated by permafrost melt, and methane hydrate destabilization going on globally. While we've mentioned it many times here, I think as serious as CO2 is, methane looms as the issue requiring even more attention right now. Sadly, I am not optimistic this will occur.
Toggle Commented May 18, 2014 on PIOMAS May 2014 at Arctic Sea Ice
It will be interesting to watch what this cyclone does to this still thick spring ice pack. Looks like it may pull in some warmer air for sure, and pull ice further away from the coast off N. Alaska:,86.93,782
Toggle Commented May 7, 2014 on 2013/2014 Winter Analysis at Arctic Sea Ice
Great job on the house Neven, and here's a great quote from you: "If a widespread collapse does occur and AGW is unstoppable and causes yet another mass extinction event, well, you know what? So be it. We all die some day. I'd rather work at overcoming my fear of death, than trying to survive at all costs. If you die, you die. F**k it." ----- Overcoming fear of death and even accepting the inevitable eventuality complete human extinction some day is a healthy release and greatly sharpens an appreciation for the "now". Each moment, each second with family and friends takes on the glow of eternity it should have.
Toggle Commented May 4, 2014 on Getting ready at Arctic Sea Ice
Sorry to interrupt the wonderful flow of conversation here, but this is a big deal. New research just coming out says that we have a lot more to worry about related to methane than just melting Clathrates. It seems certain living microbes that are thawing out in the permafrost actually produce methane in great abundance: The potential methane time bomb just got bigger...
Toggle Commented Mar 10, 2014 on PIOMAS March 2014 at Arctic Sea Ice
"I think that the concept of El Nino creating a "release" of heat from the warm pool is overstated." ----- Respectfully, that's not what data from multiple El Niño events would tell us. We know the thermocline is lowered greatly in the eastern Pacific during an El Niño, and that warm water upwelling increases as the water is upwelled from above the lowered thermocline. This is quite literally a heat pump that sends both latent and sensible heat in larger quantities from ocean to troposphere. This is a big part of the reason for tropospheric temperature spikes during El Niños and the source of much of that heat came from warm water that was originally stored in the IPWP. Very careful measurements off the coast of Peru during El Niños have measured this warm water upwelling and the resultant tropospheric temperature increases that result.
The CA storms were really part of the MJO cycle and not yet related to any future El Niño event that might start later in 2014. But interestingly, both the disturbances we saw in the winter jet stream, these CA storms, and even the mega-typhoon that struck last fall in the Pacific are all related to increased energy being stored in the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool (IPWP). This energy has been gradually building for many decades, with little bits released to the atmosphere in MJO events, El Niño events, and latent heat fluxes that alter the jet stream. It is just one of the consequences of increasing OHC worldwide, with the IPWP being one of the largest single pools for that energy.
"The positive feedbacks always seem to increase more than the negatives though." ------ Such is the nature of a continual net positive forcing on the climate-- especially one as potent as the Human Carbon Volcano (HCV). There are no natural negative feedbacks that operate fast enough to counter the rapidity with which humans are altering the atmosphere by the transfer of carbon from the lithosphere.
Great post Neven. This polar vortex strangeness is quite interesting, and I tend to side with Dr. Francis on the elongation of the Rossby wave activity, but the connection to SSW events and the Brewer-Dobson circulation seems to be totally missed by many experts. Climate models have long forecast an enhancement to the Brewer-Dobson circulation, and part of this enhancement would be a relationship to more SSW events as more energy is moving high in the stratosphere and even the mesopshere. These waves break on the troposphere and cause the warming "bubbles" that move toward the poles. While we've not had a major SSW event yet from the current squeezing and elongation of the Arctic vortex, we have had this cold pulse squeezed out of the Arctic by a warm pulse pushing it from mesospheric and stratospheric levels. Anyone can readily watch this pulse move up at 10 hPa over the past few days: (watch over Asia beginning about Dec. 25-26, as the warm pulse grows rapidly and moves toward the north) As I pointed out in my SSW post last year, as this wave begins to push down over the pole and squeeze and disrupt the polar vortex, simultaneously at the equator, the air is rising and cooling, and this represents a 9000km teleconneted event that is both a massive amount of energy, and confirms global climate models predictions of an enhancement to the Brewer-Dobson Circulation as GH gases increase.
Vortex continues to be squeezed and elongated by the high pressure and temperatures coming up from Asia at 10 hPa: Beginnings of at least a minor SSW event: Will the vortex simply be disrupted, or will it be split, leading to a major SSW event? Stay tuned...
Toggle Commented Jan 5, 2014 on Merry christPIOMAS at Arctic Sea Ice
Currently watching the polar vortex being "squeezed" by at high pressure wave advancing north from Asia, here at 10 hPa: This "squeezing" of the vortex is causing the cold weather outbreaks at the lower latitudes as the vortex becomes elongated from the squeeze. Should the high pressure continue north, it could very well shatter the vortex completely over the pole, causing a classic SSW event.
Toggle Commented Jan 4, 2014 on Merry christPIOMAS at Arctic Sea Ice
Of course Geoff...feel free to.
Toggle Commented Jan 2, 2014 on Merry christPIOMAS at Arctic Sea Ice
Happy New Year everyone. 2014 is set to be a very interesting year for the Earth's climate, with a possible mild El Niño setting up for a bit more latent and sensible heat flux coming from the oceans, and therefore leading to a potential record setting high for global tropospheric temperatures. I gave a brief review of the 2013 Climate Year here:
Toggle Commented Dec 31, 2013 on Merry christPIOMAS at Arctic Sea Ice
Regarding the notion that some of the "pause" in tropospheric sensible heat rise could be energy that is going into the melting of the ice. I think that's pretty likely, but it still pales in comparision to the net energy that the oceans are retaining. I really like the thought process though-- anything that gets us to a more accurate accounting of the human carbon volcano being an issue of energy balance in the Earth system, with sensible heat in the troposphere being only one measurement (or proxy) of this energy, and certainly sensible heat is transformed, or more crudely "sucked out of" the troposphere for the state change of ice to water. If we really want to understand the actual sensitivity of the climate system to the human carbon volcano and a doubling of CO2 (and methane and N2O) then we need to measure all the ways that energy is being added to the system. Toward this end, the most important thing that is going on right now is the early stages of planning for a big expansion of the Argo float program, adding more floats and sending more of them deeper on a consistent basis then ever before.
Toggle Commented Nov 16, 2013 on The 'hiatus' and the Arctic at Arctic Sea Ice
I think Cowtan & Way's analysis seems pretty solid and pretty convincing, but it doesn't mean there was not a "pause" of some fashion in the growth in tropospheric temperatures (really, the increase in tropospheric energy). If this seems on. First, for those who don't know me-- I on the "warmist" side of things. I think it is highly likely that human activity (chiefly the burning of fossil fuels) has been altering Earth's energy balance for many decades. More net energy is being added to Earth's system than is leaving each year specifically because the the massive transfer of carbon from the lithosphere to the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels. I also think that there is a real potential for this "human carbon volcano" as I call it, to have some sort of catastrophic consequences for life on Earth, including humans, if we don't collectively figure out how to turn off this human carbon volcano. Having made my position clear, I do want to explain how Cowtan & Way could have produced some excellent, solid, and valid research, and the "pause" still be real in some fashion. The operative words here are "in some fashion", as what we really care about, when you actually look at the details of what the human carbon volcano is doing, it is an energy balance issue and not a sensible heat in the troposphere issue. Measuring troposphere sensible heat (the metric for the "pause") is only one way of measuring energy in the troposphere, and as such, sensible heat is actually a proxy for energy in the troposphere. Moreover, the measurement of changes in sensible heat in the troposphere has become an even more broadly used proxy (by some less knowledgeable people) for changes of energy in the entire Earth system. We know the use of sensible heat as a proxy for changes in energy in the entire Earth energy system is absolutely wrong for many reasons, but not the least of which is the fact that the changes in the heat content of the oceans vastly dwarf energy in the atmosphere by many orders of magnitude, and the very best data we have tells us that there absolutely was no pause in the increase in energy in the oceans over the past 10, 20, 30 and even 40+ years. On average, the oceans down to about 2000m have been adding somewhere around 0.5 x 10^22 Joules of energy every year for the past 40+ years. We also know that during the past decade or slightly more, there have been 3 major things that have caused a slowdown in the increase in tropospheric sensible heat. They are: 1) a slowdown in the net flow of energy from ocean to atmosphere. Mind you, globally, the net flow of energy from ocean to atmosphere is always very positive, so much so that over 50% of the energy in the atmosphere at any given time has come directly from the ocean in one form or another. But during the last 10 or so years, a cool PDO has slightly decreased this rate of flow. 2) There has been a moderate increase in natural aerosols from a moderate uptick in global volcanic activity. This has been measured directly in the stratospheric optical depth and translates into slightly less solar SW hitting the ground. 3) The sun has been hitting some of the lowest activity levels in at least a century and this has also translated into slightly less energy across many wavelengths reaching Earth. These three things combined have caused a "pause" in the growth of tropospheric sensible heat (excluding the Arctic). What Cowtan & Way have shown is that very likely, if we include the Arctic, this pause is not nearly as great as it might appear, which can be due to the unequal warming of the Arctic from the rising greenhouse gas forcing. But what Cowtan & Way did not measure in their extrapolation (or kriging) efforts was an even more important metric of moist enthalpy. Moist enthalpy of course is a different measurement of tropospheric energy, that takes into account the amount of moisture in the atmosphere at a given temperature, and in fact is a more accurate measurement of energy. Given that the Arctic will typically have much lower moist enthalpy measurements, we must realize that the results of Cowtan & Way actually put too much emphasis on the Arctic in terms of the actual energy content being measured, even if their kriging duplicates temperatures exactly as they occurred in the Arctic. Essentially, the further you go toward the equator, as humidity levels increase, identical temperatures represent more net energy in the atmosphere. Thus, Cowtan & Way might very well be correct (as far as sensible heat goes), but it can also be true (as I highly suspect it is) that the tropospheric "pause" is a real phenomenon in terms of a slowdown in the growth of net energy in the troposphere (for the 3 reasons I've stated). Ultimately though, from a more broad perspective, as long as the human carbon volcano keeps erupting so strongly, we can expect the net energy content of the Earth climate system to continue on the upward climb, and the best overall measurement of this remains the unstoppable growth in ocean heat content.
Toggle Commented Nov 16, 2013 on The 'hiatus' and the Arctic at Arctic Sea Ice
Steve, thanks for that clarification on the species die-off during the PETM. It was, as you point out, really a deeper ocean mass extinction event for the benthic foraminifera.
Toggle Commented Jul 28, 2013 on Arctic time bombs at Arctic Sea Ice
I've been using the term "Human Carbon Volcano" to present a clear picture of what the rapid transfer of carbon from the lithosphere to the atmosphere is like during this particular interglacial. Every tailpipe and smokestack collectively go into making up the HCV, and its forcing effects upon the climate, which have both cooling and warming effects, have a greater net warming effect. No other known interglacials had a similar rapid atmospheric alteration, and the last similar rapid alteration of the atmosphere to this extent was the PETM, which of course saw a huge die-off in species as well. Such a rapid alteration could certainly release a large methane "burp" over the next few decades, or slowly over the next century, but fast or slow, it would only add to the effects of the HCV to the warming side.
Toggle Commented Jul 27, 2013 on Arctic time bombs at Arctic Sea Ice
NeilT said; "R Gates says our minds don't see the nonlinear jumps." ------- Not exactly what I said. We certainly can see dragon-kings after they've happened-- sometimes well after. What I said was that our brains are wired to predict the future by a linear extrapolation of the past, and thus both dragon-king regime changing events are not something our brains are able to process while they are happening and certainly not predict. A sudden methane release, unthinkable 10 years ago, now is in the realm of possible because the Arctic has changed so much and so a big methane release becomes a remote (a black swan) but possible event by linear extrapolation of the past.
Toggle Commented Jul 26, 2013 on Arctic time bombs at Arctic Sea Ice
Doug B. said: "It's interesting to consider that a scant decade or so ago, anybody daring to hypothesize Arctic sea ice reaching its present parlous condition by the year 2013 would also have been citing an extreme worst-case scenario and would have been mocked by more than the usual suspects." _____ This is an excellent point, and one that leads to a larger point-- the current decline in sea ice and rapid changes going on in the Arctic is not predictable from even the recent past i.e. 10 years ago. We are seeing a rapid regime change that no model could predict because it represents a dragon-king, nonlinear disconnect brought about by a combination of positive feedbacks. Unfortunately, our human brains are not wired to recognize such nonlinear jumps for what they are. Our brains are wired to use current smooth linear changes to predict future behavior. The potential rapid release of methane-- rapid from a geological perspective, just as the the release of CO2 has been, is only one of several potential nonlinearities based on the substational kick that the human carbon volcano is giving to the climate. When you kick a chaotic system like the climate this hard, the response will be nonlinear (must be nonlinear in fact.) So while a large methane release is a concern, what might be of even more concern is that the odds are very high that there are other nonlinear repsonse "dragon-king" events that we simply can't know about lurking just over the horizon.
Toggle Commented Jul 26, 2013 on Arctic time bombs at Arctic Sea Ice
In doing a bit more research, we might be a bit narrow in our bid to only think of the Inuit in our naming convention if indeed that is the way we'd like to go. There are many other indiginous groups surrounding the Arctic in addition to the Inuit. See page 12 of this report: Also, I think we would be wise to think about really actually adding a bit more scale and descriptive context to our naming convention, and we may want to consult someone who is an expert in the matter. Some examples would include: 1) Differentiating the type of storm by season as they can have different dynamics. Maybe use something like Arctic Cyclone Akna - 2013S that occurred in the summer or melt season April-September and 2013w that occurred in the winter or ice growth season - October to March. I don't know enough about these storms to know if this would be useful so an expert would be helpful. 2) Differentiating by intensity of central pressure and wind field size (i.e. Arctic Storm Akna - 2013S versus Arctic Cyclone Akna - 2013s. This kind of classification would allow us to catch the smaller storms, that still may be important for example if we get a series of them in a row. Some storms may be short lived but still interesting or some may go on to become full-fledged cyclones and last a week or more. So to summarize: 1) Include more idigenous groups names in addition to the Inuit, or perhaps take a different route entirely if that seems too complicated. 2) Differentiate between seasons the storm is generated (summer vs winter) if that seems useful in capturing some dynamic. Consult an expert for this? 3) Differentiate between "storm" and "cyclone" based on core pressure and wind field size. Again, some expert advice would be good here.
Toggle Commented Jul 25, 2013 on The Naming of Arctic Cyclones at Arctic Sea Ice
Sofouuk, You're right. See the end of my post above.
Toggle Commented Jul 24, 2013 on The Naming of Arctic Cyclones at Arctic Sea Ice
Craig said: "This storm development is precisely why we should be using a more formal naming convention. There's bound to be years where events become more frequent and a range of destructiveness- the need is there to easily recognize a storms' name would help people compare events." ------ Exactly. The naming of storms is actually the best scientific thing to do. It is time this be done.
Toggle Commented Jul 24, 2013 on Second storm at Arctic Sea Ice
Regardless of the reaction of the ICC to the naming if Arctic Cyclones using Inuit names, we've already actually started naming these storms-- GAC-2012 was the first, it just was not necessarily a name that was as "personal" as first names. So really, the horse is already out of the barn in terms of naming Arctic Cyclones-- we just are looking for a more formalized approach such as they use in the naming of low latitude cyclones. Because the next storm may be right around the corner, and we might wait for some time for the ICC to get back to us, I would suggest we choose a another non-Inuit name now. I am also no longer in favor of bring any attention to deniers or oil companies-- as fun as it might be to name something destructive after them. To that end, I would suggest we stay to the higher road, and name the next storm after the first recognized western explorer of the Arctic- or at least one of the first, the Greek Pytheas. This would be, after all our first intentionally named Arctic Cyclone, and so it would be fitting, since we are (most of us) from the Western tradition, to bring a sense of tradition and history with this first intentionally named storm. After that, if the ICC would like to endorse this concept and get on board, we can move over to using a suggested list of names from them, or take some other route. Anyway, just another thought...
Toggle Commented Jul 23, 2013 on The Naming of Arctic Cyclones at Arctic Sea Ice
Love the idea of asking the opinion of the Inuit Circumpolar Council's opinion, and futhermore, should they agree in principal, I would suggest that we actually ask them to pick the first list of 50 names, so that we, on this site, give credit and show solidarity with the ICC. Note this resolution the the ICC passed, might be of some interest, though not directly related to our discussion at hand:
Toggle Commented Jul 22, 2013 on The Naming of Arctic Cyclones at Arctic Sea Ice