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The climate change runaway chain reaction-like process

By |2021-06-21T01:30:36+01:00June 20th, 2021|

Originally published on

by noreply@blogger.com (Sam Carana) at Arctic News

Amplifying feedbacks leading to accelerated planetary temperatures

by Andrew Glikson

“The paleoclimate record shouts to us that, far from being self-stabilizing, the Earth’s climate
system is an ornery beast which overreacts even to small nudges” (Wally Broecker)

Many climate change models, including by the IPCC, appear to minimize or even neglect the amplifying feedbacks of global warming, which are pushing temperatures upward in a runaway chain reaction-like process, as projected by Wally Broecker and other:

These feedbacks drive a chain reaction of events, accelerating the warming, as follows:

  1. Melting snow and ice expose dark rock surfaces, reducing the albedo of the polar terrains and sea ice in surrounding oceans, enhancing infrared absorption and heating.
  2. Fires create charred low-albedo land surfaces.
  3. An increase in evaporation raises atmospheric vapor levels, enhancing the greenhouse gas effect.
  4. Whereas an increase in plant leaf area enhances photosynthesis and evapotranspiration, creating a cooling effect, the reduction in vegetation in darkened burnt areas works in the opposite direction, warming land surfaces.
Figure 1. The 2021 global climate trends (Hansen, 2021, by permission)

The current acceleration of global warming is reflected by the anomalous rise of temperatures, in particular during 2010-2020 (Hansen 2021, Figure 1 above). Consequently, extensive regions are burning, with 4 to 5 million fires per year counted between about 2004 and 2019. In 2021, global April temperatures are much less than in 2020, due to a moderately strong La Nina effects.

Figure 2. The Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum recorded by benthic plankton isotopic data from sites in the Antarctic, south Atlantic and Pacific (Zachos et al., 2003). The rapid decrease in oxygen isotope ratios is indicative of a large increase in atmospheric temperatures associated with a rise in greenhouse gases CO₂ and CH₄ signifies approximately +5°C warming.
A runaway climate chain reaction-like process triggered by release of methane is believed to have occurred during the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum (PETM), about 55 million years ago (Figures 2 above and 3A below).

Analogies between Anthropocene climate change and major geological climate events reveal the rate of current rise in greenhouse gas levels and temperatures as compared to major geological warming events is alarming. A commonly cited global warming event is the Paleocene-Eocene boundary thermal maximum (PETM) at 55 Ma-ago, reaching +5 degrees Celsius and over 800 ppm CO₂ within a few thousand years (Figures 2 above and 3A below).

Figure 3. (A) Simulated atmospheric CO₂ at and following the Palaeocene-Eocene boundary (after Zeebe et al., 2009);
(B) Global CO₂ and temperature during the last glacial termination (After Shakun et al., 2012) (LGM – Last Glacial Maximum; OD – Older dryas; BA – Bølling–Alerød; YD – Younger dryas). Glikson (2020).
The definitive measure of Anthropocene global warming, i.e. the rise in the atmospheric concentration of CO₂, to date by 49 percent since pre-industrial time (from 280 ppm to currently 419 ppm), is only rarely mentioned by the media or politicians. Nor are the levels of methane and nitrous oxide, which have risen by about 3-fold. To date potential attempts toward climate mitigation and adaptation have failed. There is a heavy price in communicating distressing projections, Cassandra-like, where climate scientists have been threatened, penalized or dismissed, including from major institutions
The triggering of a mass extinction event by the activity of organisms is not unique to the Anthropocene. The end Permian mass extinction, the greatest calamity for life in geologic history, is marked in marine carbonates by a negative δ¹³C shift attributed to oceanic anoxia and the emission of methane (CH₄) and hydrogen sulphide (H₂S) related to the activity of methanogenic algae (“purple” and “green” bacteria) (Ward, 2006; Kump, 2011). As a corollary anthropogenic climate change constitutes a geological/biological process where the originating species (Homo sapiens) has not to date discovered an effective method of controlling the calamitous processes it has triggered.



Andrew Glikson

A/Prof. Andrew Glikson

Earth and Paleo-climate scientist
The University of New South Wales,
Kensington NSW 2052 Australia

Books:
The Asteroid Impact Connection of Planetary Evolution
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9789400763272
The Archaean: Geological and Geochemical Windows into the Early Earth
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319079073
Climate, Fire and Human Evolution: The Deep Time Dimensions of the Anthropocene
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319225111
The Plutocene: Blueprints for a Post-Anthropocene Greenhouse Earth
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319572369
Evolution of the Atmosphere, Fire and the Anthropocene Climate Event Horizon
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9789400773318
From Stars to Brains: Milestones in the Planetary Evolution of Life and Intelligence
https://www.springer.com/us/book/9783030106027
Asteroids Impacts, Crustal Evolution and Related Mineral Systems with Special Reference to Australia
http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319745442
The Event Horizon: Homo Prometheus and the Climate Catastrophe
https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783030547332
Links image top

• Seasonal origin of the thermal maxima at the Holocene and the last interglacial – by Samantha Bova et al. (2021)
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-03155-x

• Could temperatures keep rising? – by Sam Carana (2021)

• Blueprints of future climate trends – by Andrew Glikson (2018)
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/09/blueprints-of-future-climate-trends.html

• Global warming preceded by increasing carbon dioxide concentrations during the last deglaciation – by Jeremy Shakun (2012)
https://www.nature.com/articles/nature10915

• The Last Great Global Warming – by Lee Kump (2011)
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-last-great-global-warming

Could temperatures keep rising?

By |2021-06-13T11:30:23+01:00June 13th, 2021|

Originally published on

by noreply@blogger.com (Sam Carana) at Arctic News

Orbital changes are responsible for Milankovitch cycles that make Earth move in and out of periods of glaciation, or Ice Ages. Summer insolation on the Northern Hemisphere reached a peak some 10,500 years ago, in line with the Milankovitch cycles, and insolation has since gradually decreased.
Summer insolation on the Northern Hemisphere in red and in langleys
per day (left axis, adapted from Walker, 2008). One langley is 1 cal/cm²
(thermochemical calorie per square centimeter), or 41840 J/m² (joules
per square meter), or about 11.622 Wh/m² (watt-hours per square meter).
In blue is the mean annual sea surface temperature, given as the difference
from the temperature over the last 1000 years (right axis, from Bova, 2021).

Snow and ice cover acting as a buffer

While temperatures rose rapidly, especially before the insolation peak was reached, the speed at which temperatures rose was moderated by the snow and ice cover, in a number of ways:

  • snow and ice cause sunlight to get reflected back into space
  • energy from sunlight is consumed in the process of melting snow and ice, and thawing permafrost
  • meltwater from sea ice and runoff from melting glaciers and thawing permafrost cools oceans.
In other words, the snow and ice cover acted as a buffer, moderating the temperature rise. While this buffer has declined over time, it is still exercizing this moderation today, be it that the speed at which this buffer is reducing in size is accelerating, as illustrated by the image below, showing the rise of the sea surface temperature on the Northern Hemisphere. 
[ from earlier post ]

Will the snow and ice cover ever grow back?
More recently, the temperature rise has been fueled by emissions caused by people. While emission of greenhouse gases did rise strongly since the start of the Industrial Revolution, the rise in emission of greenhouse gases by people had already started some 7,000 years ago with the rise in modern agriculture and associated deforestation, as illustrated by the image below, based on Ruddiman et al. (2015).
The temperature has risen accordingly since those times. At the start of the Industrial Revolution, as the image at the top shows, temperatures already had risen by 0.3°C, compared to some 6000 years before the Industrial Revolution started. When also taking into account that the temperature would have fallen naturally (i.e. in the absence of these emissions), the early temperature rise caused by people may well be twice as much. 
Temperatures could keep rising for many years, for a number of reasons:
  • Snow & Ice Cover Loss – A 2016 analysis by Ganapolski et al. suggests that even moderate anthropogenic cumulative carbon dioxide emissions would cause an absence of the snow and ice cover in the next Milankovitch cycle, so there would be no buffer at the next peak in insolation, and temperatures would contine to rise, making the absence of snow and ice a permanent loss.
  • Brighter Sun – The sun is now much brighter than it was in the past and keeps getting brighter.
  • Methane – Due to the rapid temperature rise, there is also little or no time for methane to get decomposed. Methane levels will skyrocket, due to fires, due to decomposition of dying vegetation and due to releases from thawing of terrestrial permafrost and from the seafloor as hydrates destabilize.
  • No sequestration – The rapidity of the rise in greenhouse gases and of the associated temperature rise leaves species little or no time to adapt or move, and leaving no time for sequestration of carbon dioxide by plants and by deposits from other species, nor for formation of methane hydrates at the seafloor of oceans.
  • No weathering – The rapidity of the rise also means that weathering doesn’t have a chance to make a difference. Rapid heating is dwarfing what weathering can do to reduce carbon dioxide levels. 
  • Oceans and Ozone Layer Loss – With a 3°C rise, many species including humans will likely go extinct. A 2013 post warned that, with a 4°C rise, Earth will enter a moist-greenhouse scenario. A 2018 study by Strona & Bradshaw indicates that most life on Earth would disappear with a 5°C rise. As temperatures kept rising, the ozone layer would disappear and the oceans would keep evaporating and eventually disappear into space, further removing elements and conditions that are essential to sustain life on Earth.

Paris Agreement

All this has implications for the interpretation of the Paris Agreement. At the Paris Agreement, politicians pledged to take efforts to ensure that the temperature will not exceed 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

So, what are pre-industrial levels? The ‘pre-‘ in pre-industrial means ‘before’, suggesting that ‘pre-industrial’ refers to levels as they were in times befóre (as opposed to when) the Industrial Revolution started. Carbon dioxide and methane levels actually started to rise markedly about 6000 years ago, as illustrated by above image, based on Ruddiman (2015). 

A huge temperature rise by 2026?

A recent post suggests that the 1.5°C threshold was already crossed in 2012, i.e. well before the Paris Agreement was adopted by the U.N. (in 2015), while there could be a temperature rise of more than 3°C by 2026. 

Such a rise could be facilitated by a number of events and developments, including:
[ from earlier post ]
• The Arctic sea ice latent heat tipping point and the seafloor methane hydrates tipping point look set to get crossed soon (see above image).
• Continued emissions. Politicians are still refusing to take effective action, even as greenhouse gas emissions appear to be accelerating. The warming impact of carbon dioxide reaches its peak a decade after emission, while methane’s impact over a few years is huge.

• Sunspots. We’re currently at a low point in the sunspot cycle. As the image on the right shows, the number of sunspots can be expected to rise as we head toward 2026, and temperatures can be expected to rise accordingly. According to James Hansen et al., the variation of solar irradiance from solar minimum to solar maximum is of the order of 0.25 W/m⁻².

• Temperatures are currently also suppressed by sulfate cooling, and their impact is falling away as we progress with the necessary transition away from fossil fuel and biofuel, toward the use of more wind turbines and solar panels instead. Aerosols typically fall out of the atmosphere within a few weeks, so as the transition progresses, this will cause temperatures to rise over the next few years.
• El Niño events, according to NASA, occur roughly every two to seven years. As temperatures keep rising, ever more frequent strong El Niño events are likely to occur. NOAA anticipates the current La Niña to continue for a while, so it’s likely that a strong El Niño will occur between 2023 and 2025.
• Rising temperatures can cause growth in sources of greenhouse gases and a decrease in sinks, as discussed in an earlier post.
The mass extinction event that we are currently in is rapidly progressing, even faster than the Great Permo-Triassic Extinction, some 250 million years ago, when the temperature rose to about 28°C, i.e. some 14.5°C higher than pre-industrial.
In the video below, Guy McPherson discusses the current mass extinction.

In conclusion, there could be a huge temperature rise by 2026 and with a 3°C rise, humans will likely go extinct, which is a daunting prospect. Even so, the right thing to do is to help avoid the worst things from happening, through comprehensive and effective action as described in the Climate Plan.

Links
• Climate change and ecosystem response in the northern Columbia River basin – A paleoenvironmental perspective – by Ian R. Walker and Marlow G. Pellat (2008)
https://cdnsciencepub.com/doi/10.1139/A08-004
• Vance, R.E. 1987. “Meteorological Records of Historic Droughts as Climatic Analogues for the Holocene.” In N.A. McKinnon and G.S.L. Stuart (eds), Man and the Mid-Holocene Climatic Optimum – Proceedings of the Seventeenth Annual Conference of the Archaeological Association of the University of Calgary. The University of Calgary Archaeological Association, Calgary: 17-32.

• Seasonal origin of the thermal maxima at the Holocene and the last interglacial – by Samantha Bova et al. (2021)
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-03155-x

• Palaeoclimate puzzle explained by seasonal variation (2021)
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00115-x

• Important Climate Change Mystery Solved by Scientists (news release 2021)
https://www.rutgers.edu/news/important-climate-change-mystery-solved-scientists

• Milankovitch (Orbital) Cycles and Their Role in Earth’s Climate – by Alan Buis (NASA news, 2020)
https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2948/milankovitch-orbital-cycles-and-their-role-in-earths-climate

• Milankovitch cycles – Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles

• Insolation changes
https://energyeducation.ca/encyclopedia/Insolation
http://www.geo.umass.edu/faculty/bradley/bradley2003x.pdf

• Late Holocene climate: Natural or anthropogenic? – by William Ruddiman et al. (2015)
https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2015RG000503

• Critical insolation–CO2 relation for diagnosing past and future glacial inception – by Andrey Ganapolski et al. (2016)
https://www.nature.com/articles/nature16494

• Co-extinctions annihilate planetary life during extreme environmental change – by Giovanni Strona & Corey Bradshaw (2018)

• Earth is on the edge of runaway warming

https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2013/04/earth-is-on-the-edge-of-runaway-warming.html

• Paris Agreement
https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement
https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/english_paris_agreement.pdf

• IPCC AR5 Synthesis Report — Figure 2.8
https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/syr/synthesis-report

• IPCC AR5 Report, Summary For Policymakers
https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/WG1AR5_SPM_FINAL.pdf

• Most Important Message Ever
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/07/most-important-message-ever.html

• Radiative forcing of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide: A significant revision of the methane radiative forcing – by M. Etminan et al.
https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2016GL071930

• When Will We Die?
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/06/when-will-we-die.html

• Possible climate transitions from breakup of stratocumulus decks under greenhouse warming – by Tapio Schneider et al.
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0310-1

• A World Without Clouds
https://www.quantamagazine.org/cloud-loss-could-add-8-degrees-to-global-warming-20190225

• How close are we to the temperature tipping point of the terrestrial biosphere? – by Katharyn Duffy et al.

• What Carbon Budget?

Greenhouse gas levels keep rising at accelerating rates

By |2021-06-03T08:28:08+01:00June 3rd, 2021|

Originally published on

by noreply@blogger.com (Sam Carana) at Arctic News

At the Paris Agreement in 2015, politicians pledged to limit the global temperature rise from pre-industrial levels to 1.5°C and promised to stop rises in greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and to make rapid reductions in accordance with best available science, to achieve a balance between people’s emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century. 

Yet, greenhouse gas levels keep rising and the rise appears to be accelerating. 

Carbon Dioxide

Annual growth rates of carbon dioxide (CO₂) have been rising for decades.

The February 2021 global CO₂ level was 415.88 parts per million (ppm), which was 2.96 ppm higher than the February 2020 global CO₂ level. On April 8, 2021, CO₂ levels at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, reached a peak of 421.36 ppm.

Methane
 

The 2020 global annual methane growth rate of 15.85 ppb was the highest on record. The global methane level in January 2021 was 1893.4 ppb, 20 ppb higher than the January 2020 level. 

The image at the top shows a trend indicating that methane could reach a level of 4000 ppb in 2026, which at a 1-year GWP of 200 translates into 800 ppm CO₂e, so just adding this to the current CO₂ level would cause the Clouds Tipping Point at 1200 CO₂e to be crossed, which in itself could raise global temperatures by 8°C, as described in an earlier post
Nitrous Oxide

The 2020 global annual nitrous oxide (N₂O) growth rate of 1.33 ppb was the highest on record. The global N₂O level in January 2021 was 333.9 ppb, 1.4 ppb higher than the January 2020 level. 

Greenhouse gas levels are accelerating, despite promises by politicians to make dramatic cuts in emissions. As it turns out, politicians have not taken the action they promised they would take. 

Of course, when also adding nitrous oxide, the Clouds Tipping Point can get crossed even earlier.

Elements contributing to temperature rise

Next to rising greenhouse gas levels, there are further elements that can contribute to a huge temperature rise soon. 

As illustrated by above image by Nico Sun, the accumulation of energy going into melting the sea ice is at record high for the time of year. 

As illustrated by above combination image, the thickness of the sea ice is now substantially less than it used to be. The image compares June 1, 2021 (left), with June 1, 2015 (right). 

The animation on the right shows that sea ice is getting rapidly thinner, indicating that the buffer constituted by the sea ice underneath the surface is almost gone, meaning that further heat entering the Arctic Ocean will strongly heat up the water.
As described in an earlier post, this can destabilizate methane hydrates in sediments at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, resulting in eruption of methane from these hydrates and from methane that is located in the form of free gas underneath such hydrates. 

Such methane eruptions will first of all heat up the Arctic, resulting in loss of Arctic sea ice’s ability to reflect sunlight back into space (albedo feedback), in disappearing glaciers and in rapidly thawing terrestrial permafrost (and the associated release of greenhouse gases).

This comes with further feedbacks such as changes to the Jet Stream that result in ever more extreme weather including storms and forest fires.

Temperatures can also be expected to rise over the next few years as sulfate cooling decreases. Aerosols can further cause additional warming if more black carbon and brown carbon gets emitted due to more wood getting burned and more forest fires taking place.

Therefore, the 8°C rise as a result of crossing the Clouds Tipping Point would come on top of the warming due to other elements, and the total rise could be as high as 18°C or 32.4°F from preindustrial, as ilustrated by the image on the right, from an earlier post.

In conclusion, there could be a huge temperature rise by 2026.

At a 3°C rise, humans will likely go extinct, making it from some perspectives futile to speculate about what will happen beyond 2026.

Even so, the right thing to do is to help avoid the worst things from happening, through comprehensive and effective action as described in the Climate Plan.

• NOAA: Trends in Greenhouse gases
https://gml.noaa.gov/ccgg/trends

• Overshoot or Omnicide?

• Cryosphere Computing – by Nico Sun
https://cryospherecomputing.tk

• Arctic Ocean invaded by hot, salty water

• Most Important Message Ever
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/07/most-important-message-ever.html

Methane and the mass extinction of species

By |2021-05-30T09:30:49+01:00May 30th, 2021|

Originally published on

by noreply@blogger.com (Sam Carana) at Arctic News

by Andrew Glikson

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.” Noam Chomsky (1998).

The level of atmospheric methane, a poisonous gas considered responsible for major mass extinction events in the past, has nearly tripled during the 20-21st centuries, from ~722 ppb (parts per billion) to above ~1866 ppb, currently reinforced by coal seam gas (CSG) emissions. As the concentration of atmospheric methane from thawing Arctic permafrost, from Arctic sediments and from marshlands worldwide is rising, the hydrocarbon industry, subsidized by governments, is progressively enhancing global warming by extracting coal seam gas in defiance of every international agreement.

Methane (CH₄), a powerful greenhouse gas ~80 times the radiative power of carbon dioxide (CO₂) when fresh, sourced in from anaerobic decomposition in wetlands, rice fields, emission from animals, fermentation, animal waste, biomass burning, charcoal combustion and anaerobic decomposition of organic waste, is enriched by melting of leaking permafrost, leaks from sediments of the continental shelf (Figure 1) and extraction as coal seam gas (CSG). The addition to the atmosphere of even a part of the estimated 1,400 billion tons of carbon (GtC) from Arctic permafrost would destine the Earth to temperatures higher than 4 degrees Celsius and thereby demise of the biosphere life support systems.

During the last and present centuries, global methane concentrations have risen from approximately ~700 parts per billion (ppb) to near-1900 ppb, an increase by a factor of ~2.7, the highest rate in the last 800,000 years.
Since the onset of the Industrial age global emissions of carbon have reached near-600 billion tonnes of carbon (>2100 billion tonnes CO₂) at a rate faster than during the demise of dinosaurs. According to research published in Nature Geoscience, CO₂ is being added to the atmosphere at least ten times faster than during a major warming event about 55 million years ago.

Australia, possessing an abundance of natural gas, namely methane resources, is on track to become the world’s largest exporter. Leaks from hydraulic fracturing (fracking) production wells, transport and residues of combustion are bound to contribute significantly to atmospheric methane. However, despite economic objections, not to mention accelerating global warming, natural gas from coal seam gas, liquefied to -161°C, is favored by the government for domestic use as well as exported around the world.

In the Hunter Valley, NSW, release of methane from open-cut coal mining reached above 3000 ppb. In the US methane released in some coal seam gas fields constitutes between 2 and 17 per cent of the emissions.

While natural gas typically emits between 50 and 60 percent less CO₂ than coal when burned, the drilling and extraction of natural gas from wells, fugitive emissions, leaks from transportation in pipelines result in enrichment of the atmosphere in methane, the main component of natural gas, 34 times stronger than CO₂ at trapping heat over a 100-year period and 86 times stronger over 20 years. So, while natural gas when burned emits less CO₂ than coal, that doesn’t mean that it’s clean – the reason summed up in one word: methane.

Global warming triggered by the massive release of CO₂ may be catastrophic, but release of CH₄ from methane hydrates may be apocalyptic. According to Brand et al. (2016), the release of methane from permafrost and shelf sediment has constituted the ultimate source and cause for the dramatic life-changing global warming. The mass extinction at the end of the Permian 251 million years ago, when 96 percent of species was lost, holds an important lesson for humanity regarding greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, and the life support system of the planet (Brand et al. 2016, Methane Hydrate: Killer cause of Earth’s greatest mass extinction).

The pledge for zero-emissions by 2050 is questioned as governments continue to subsidize, mine and export hydrocarbons. Examples include Saudi-Arabia, the Gulf States, Russia, Norway and Australia. A mostly compliant media highlights a zero-emission pledge, but is reluctant to report the scale of exported emissions as well as the ultimate consequences of the open-ended rise of global temperatures.

Norway, a country committed to domestic clean energy, is conducting large scale drilling for Atlantic and Arctic oil. Australia, the fourth-largest producer of coal, with 6.9% of global production, is the biggest net exporter, with 32% of global exports in 2016. 23 new coal projects are proposed n the Hunter Valley, NSW, with a production capacity equivalent to 15 Adani-sized mines.

Australian electricity generation is dominated by fossil fuel and about 17% renewable energy. Fossil fuel subsidies hit $10.3 billion in 2020-21, about twice the investment in solar energy in 2019-2020. State Governments spent $1.2 billion subsidizing exploration, refurbishing coal ports, railways and power stations and funding “clean coal” research, ignoring the pledge for “zero emissions by 2050”.

The pledge overlooks the global amplifying effects of cumulative greenhouse gases. At the current rate of emissions, atmospheric CO₂ levels would be near 500 ppm CO₂ by 2050, generating warming of the oceans (expelling CO₂), decreased albedo due to melting of ice, release of methane, desiccated vegetation and extensive fires.

Claims of “clean coal”, “clean gas” and “clean hydrogen” ignore the contribution of these methods to the rise in greenhouse gases. Coal seam gas has become an additional source of methane which has an 80 times more powerful greenhouse effect than CO₂. This adds to the methane leaked from Arctic permafrost, with atmospheric methane rising from ~ 600 parts per billion early last century to higher than 2000 ppb. In the Hunter Valley, NSW, release of methane from open-cut coal mining reached above 3000 ppb. In the US, methane released in some coal seam gas fields constitutes between 2 and 17 per cent of the emissions.

The critical index of global warming, rarely mentioned by politicians or the media, is the atmospheric concentration of CO₂. During 2020-2021 CO₂ rose from 416.45 to 419.05 parts per million at a rate of 2.6 ppm/year, a trend unprecedented in the geological record of the last 55 million years. The combined effects of greenhouse gases such as cabon dioxide (CO₂), methane (CH₄) and nitrous oxide (N₂O) have reached near ~500 ppm CO2-equivalent.

Since 1880, the world has warmed by 1.09 degrees Celsius on average, near ~1.5°C on the continents and ~2.2°C in the Arctic, with the five warmest years on record during 2015-2020. Since the 1980s, the wildfire season has lengthened across a quarter of the world’s vegetated surface. As extensive parts of Earth are burning, “forever wars” keep looming. 

It is not clear how tracking toward +4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century can be arrested. A level of +4°C above pre-industrial temperature endangers the very life support systems of the planet. The geological record indicates past global heating events on a scale and rate analogous to the present have led to mass extinctions of species. According to Professor Will Steffen, Australia’s top climate scientist “we are already deep into the trajectory towards collapse”. While many scientists are discouraged by the extreme rate of global heating, it is left to a heroic young girl to warn the world of the greatest calamity since a large asteroid impacted Earth some 66 million years ago.

Andrew Glikson

A/Prof. Andrew Glikson

Earth and Paleo-climate scientist
The University of New South Wales,
Kensington NSW 2052 Australia

Books:
The Asteroid Impact Connection of Planetary Evolution
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9789400763272
The Archaean: Geological and Geochemical Windows into the Early Earth
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319079073
Climate, Fire and Human Evolution: The Deep Time Dimensions of the Anthropocene
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319225111
The Plutocene: Blueprints for a Post-Anthropocene Greenhouse Earth
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319572369
Evolution of the Atmosphere, Fire and the Anthropocene Climate Event Horizon
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9789400773318
From Stars to Brains: Milestones in the Planetary Evolution of Life and Intelligence
https://www.springer.com/us/book/9783030106027
Asteroids Impacts, Crustal Evolution and Related Mineral Systems with Special Reference to Australia
http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319745442
The Event Horizon: Homo Prometheus and the Climate Catastrophe
https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783030547332

Arctic Ocean invaded by hot, salty water

By |2021-05-23T07:31:45+01:00May 23rd, 2021|

Originally published on

by noreply@blogger.com (Sam Carana) at Arctic News

Sea surface temperatures on the Northern Hemisphere have been rising dramatically over the years, as illustrated by above image, indicating that the latent heat tipping point is getting crossed, while the methane hydrates tipping point could get crossed soon, depending on developments.

At the moment, the surface temperature of most of the Arctic ocean’s is still below 0°C.

Heat is entering the Arctic Ocean from the south, as illustrated by the image on the right. Hot, salty water is entering the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic Ocean and it dives underneath the ice, causing the ice to melt from below. 

Sea ice that hasn’t yet survived a summer melt season is referred to as first-year ice. This thin, new ice is vulnerable to melt and disintegration in stormy conditions. Ice that survives a summer melt season can grow thicker and less salty, since snow that thickens the ice contains little salt. Thickness and salt content determine the resistance of the ice to melt. Multiyear ice is more likely to survive temperatures that would melt first-year ice, and to survive waves and winds that would break up first-year ice.
The image on the right shows a forecast of the thickness of the sea ice, run on May 20, 2021 and valid for May 21, 2021. 
An area is visible north of Severnaya Zemlya toward the North Pole where thickness is getting very thin, while there is one spot where the ice has virtually disappeared. 
The spot is likely a melting iceberg, the animation on the right shows that the spot has been there for quite a few days, while the freshwater in this spot appears to result from the melting amidst the salty water. 
Overall, sea ice is getting very thin, indicating that the buffer constituted by the sea ice underneath the surface is almost gone, meaning that further heat entering the Arctic Ocean will strongly heat up the water. 

As the animation underneath on the right shows, freshwater is entering the Arctic Ocean due to runoff from land, i.e. rainwater from rivers, meltwater from glaciers and groundwater runoff from thawing ermafrost. 

At the same time, very salty water is entering the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic Ocean. 

The map below shows how salty and hot water from the Atlantic Ocean enters the Arctic Ocean along two currents, flowing on each side of Svalbard, and meeting at this area north of Severnaya Zemlya where thickness is getting very low. 
The blue color on the map indicates depth (see scale underneath). 

The image below, by Malcolm Light and based on Max & Lowrie (1993), from a recent post, shows vulnerable Arctic Ocean slope and deep water methane hydrates zones below 300 m depth. 

Malcolm Light indicates three areas: 

Area 1. Methane hydrates on the slope;
Area 2. Methane hydrates on the abyssal plane; and
Area 3. Methane hydrates associated with the spreading Gakkel Ridge hydro-thermal activity (the Gakkel Riidge runs in between the northern tip of Greenland and the Laptev Sea). 
The freezing point of freshwater is 0°C or 32°F. For salty water, the freezing point is -2°C or 28.4°F.

During April 2021, sea ice was about 160 cm thick.

In June and July 2021, thickness will fall rapidly, as illustrated by the image on the right by Nico Sun. 
Sea ice acts as a buffer, by consuming energy in the process of melting, thus avoiding that this energy causes a temperature rise of the water. 
As long as there is sea ice in the water, this sea ice will keep absorbing heat as it melts, so the temperature will not rise at the sea surface and remain at zero°C.

The amount of energy that is consumed in the process of melting the ice is as much as it takes to heat an equivalent mass of water from zero°C to 80°C.

The accumulated ice melt energy until now is the highest on record, as illustrated by the image on the right, by Nico Sun.

The image below further illustrate the danger. As the temperature of the water keeps rising, more heat will reach sediments at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean that contain vast amounts of methane, as discussed at this page and in this post.

Ominously, methane levels reached a peak of 2901 ppb at 469 mb on May 13, 2021. 

In the video below, Peter Wadhams analyses Arctic methane.

The video below is an interview with Igor Semiletov by Nick Breeze discussing methane plumes detected during 2020 field research over the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS).

In the video below, Guy McPherson discusses the situation.

In conclusion, temperatures could rise dramatically soon. A 3°C will likely suffice for humans to go extinct, making it in many respects rather futile to speculate about what will happen in the longer term. On the other hand, the right thing to do is to help avoid the worst things from happening, through comprehensive and effective action as described in the Climate Plan.

Links

• NOAA Climate at a Glance

• Danish Meteorological Institute – Arctic temperature
http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php

• Freezing point of water – Climate Change: Arctic sea ice
• Arctic surface temperature

• Arctic sea ice – thickness and salinity – navy.mil
https://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/GLBhycomcice1-12/arctic.html

• CryosphereComputing – by Nico Sun
https://cryospherecomputing.tk

• A 4.5 km resolution Arctic Ocean simulation with the global multi-resolution model FESOM 1.4 – by Qiang Wang et al. 

• Max, M.D. & Lowrie, A. 1993. Natural gas hydrates: Arctic and Nordic Sea potential. In: Vorren, T.O., Bergsager, E., Dahl-Stamnes, A., Holter, E., Johansen, B., Lie, E. & Lund, T.B. Arctic Geology and Petroleum Potential, Proceedings of the Norwegian Petroleum Society Conference, 15-17 August 1990, Tromso, Norway. Norwegian Petroleum Society (NPF), Special Publication 2 Elsevier, Amsterdam, 27-53.

https://www.elsevier.com/books/arctic-geology-and-petroleum-potential/vorren/978-0-444-88943-0

• Extinction by 2027- by Malcolm Light

Extinction by 2027

By |2021-05-18T14:14:10+01:00May 18th, 2021|

Originally published on

by noreply@blogger.com (Sam Carana) at Arctic News

by Malcolm Light

The greatest threat to humanity on Earth is the escalating Arctic atmospheric methane buildup, caused by the destabilization of subsea methane hydrates. This subsea Arctic methane hydrate destabilization will go out of control in 2024 and lead to a catastrophic heatwave by 2026.

While the source region for this subsea methane is in Russian waters, the hot ocean current setting them off is the northern extension of the Gulf Stream – North Atlantic Drift, the “Svalbard Current”, which makes United States and Canadian atmospheric pollution guilty of this looming catastrophic Global Extinction event.

References

Extinction by 2027 – Post by Malcolm Light and comments 
https://www.facebook.com/malcolm.light.50/posts/4013328748745929

Anomalies of methane in the atmosphere over the East Siberian shelf: Is there any sign of methane leakage from shallow shelf hydrates? – by Shakhova, Semiletov, Salyuk and Kosmach (2008) 
http://www.cosis.net/abstracts/EGU2008/01526/EGU2008-A-01526.pdf

Max, M.D. & Lowrie, A. 1993. Natural gas hydrates: Arctic and Nordic Sea potential. In: Vorren, T.O., Bergsager, E., Dahl-Stamnes, A., Holter, E., Johansen, B., Lie, E. & Lund, T.B. Arctic Geology and Petroleum Potential, Proceedings of the Norwegian Petroleum Society Conference, 15-17 August 1990, Tromso, Norway. Norwegian Petroleum Society (NPF), Special Publication 2 Elsevier, Amsterdam, 27-53. 
https://www.elsevier.com/books/arctic-geology-and-petroleum-potential/vorren/978-0-444-88943-0

Lucy-Alamo Projects – Hydroxyl Generation and Atmospheric Methane Destruction 

Overshoot or Omnicide?

By |2021-05-13T15:11:21+01:00March 19th, 2021|

Originally published on

by noreply@blogger.com (Sam Carana) at Arctic News

Questions and Answers with Sam Carana
Above image shows a non-linear blue trend based on 1880-2020 NASA Land+Ocean data that are adjusted 0.78°C to reflect a pre-industrial base, to more fully reflect strong polar warming, and to reflect surface air temperatures over oceans. This blue trend highlights that the 1.5°C threshold was crossed in 2012 (inset), while the 2°C threshold looks set to be crossed next year and a 3°C rise could be reached at the end of 2026.
Overshoot?

The blue trend in the image at the top shows the temperature rise crossing 1.5°C in 2012. Could this have been a temporary overshoot? Could the trend be wrong and could temperatures come down in future, instead of continuing to rise, and could temperatures fall to such extent that this will bring the average temperature rise back to below 1.5°C?
To answer this question, let’s apply the method followed by the IPCC and estimate the average temperature rise over a 30-year period that is centered around the start of 2012, i.e. from 1997 to the end of 2026. The IPPC used a 30-year period in its Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 ºC, while assuming that, for future years, the current multi-decadal warming trend would continue (see image below).
As said, the image at the top shows the temperature rise crossing 1.5°C in 2012. For the average temperature over the 30-year period 1997-2026 to be below 1.5°C, temperatures would have to fall over the next few years. Even if the temperature for 2021 fell to a level as low as it was in 2018 and remained at that same lower level until end 2026, the 1997-2026 average would still be more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial. Furthermore, for temperatures to fall over the next few years, there would need to be a fall in concentrations of greenhouse gases over the next few years, among other things. Instead, greenhouse gas levels appear to be rising steadily, if not at accelerating pace.
What did the IPCC envisage? As the image below shows, the IPCC in AR5 did envisage carbon dioxide under RCP 2.6 to be 421 ppm in 2100, while the combined CO₂e for carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide would be 475 ppm in 2100.

The image below, based on a study by Detlef van Vuuren et al. (2011), pictures pathways for concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, for each of four Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs).
Above image shows that, for RCP 2.6 to apply in the above study, there is little or no room for a rise in these greenhouse gases. In fact, the study shows that methane levels would have to be falling dramatically. At the moment, however, methane concentrations show no signs of falling and instead appear to be following if not exceeding RCP 8.5, as discussed in a recent post and as also illustrated by the images below.
Greenhouse gas levels are rising
As the image below shows, the carbon dioxide (CO₂) level recorded at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, was 421.36 parts per million (ppm) on April 8, 2021. 
The N20 satellite recorded a methane peak of 2862 ppb on the afterrnoon of March 29, 2021, at 487.2 mb, as the image below shows.
A similarly high methane peak was recorded by the MetOp-1 satellite at 469 mb on the morning of April 4, 2021. 
Below are the highest daily mean methane levels recorded by the MetOp-1 satellite at selected altitudes on March 10 or 12, for the years 2013-2021, showing that methane levels are rising, especially at the higher altitude associated with 293 mb. 
Similarly, nitrous oxide levels show no signs of falling, as illustrated by the image below.
Methane grew 15.85 ppb in 2020, how fast could CO₂e rise
Rising greenhouse gas levels and associated feedbacks threaten to cause temperatures to keep rising, in a runaway scenario that cannot be reverted even if emissions by people were cut to zero.
Peaks in greenhouse gas levels could suffice to trigger the clouds feedback, which occurs when a CO₂e threshold of around 1,200 ppm is crossed, and the stratocumulus decks abruptly become unstable and break up into scattered cumulus clouds.

Once the clouds tipping point is crossed, it will be impossible to undo its impact, in line with the nature of a tipping point. In theory, CO₂ levels could come down after the stratocumulus breakup, but the stratocumulus decks would only reform once the CO₂ levels drop below 300 ppm.

recent post repeated the warning that by 2026, there could be an 18°C rise when including the clouds feedback, while humans will likely go extinct with a 3°C rise and most life on Earth will disappear with a 5°C rise. In conclusion, once the clouds feedback gets triggered, it cannot be reverted by people, because by the time the clouds feedback starts kicking in, people would already have disappeared, so there won’t be any people around to keep trying to revert it.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
Methane levels are rising rapidly. The image to the right shows a trend that is based on NOAA 2006-2020 annual gobal mean methane data and that points at a mean of 3893 ppb getting crossed by the end of 2026. 
Why is that value of 3893 ppb important? On April 8, 2021, carbon dioxide reached a peak of 421.36 ppm, i.e. 778.64 ppm away from the clouds tipping point at 1200 ppm, and 778.64 ppm CO₂e translates into 3893 ppb of methane at a 1-year GWP of 200. 

In other words, a methane mean of 3893 ppb alone could cause the clouds tipping point to get crossed, resulting in an abrupt 8°C temperature rise. 
Such a high mean by 2026 cannot be ruled out, given the rapid recent growth in mean annual methane levels (15.85 ppb in 2020, see inset on image). 
Additionally, there are further warming elements than just carbon dioxide and methane, e.g. nitrous oxide and water vapor haven’t yet been included in the CO₂e total.

Moreover, it may not even be necessary for the global mean methane level to reach 3893 ppb. A high methane peak in one single spot may suffice and a peak of 3893 ppb of methane could be reached soon, given that methane just reached a peak of 2862 ppb, while even higher peaks were reached over the past few years, including a peak of 3369 ppb recorded on the afternoon of August 31, 2018

Abrupt stratocumulus cloud shattering 
[ click on images to enlarge ]
Catastrophic crack propagation is what makes a balloon pop. Could low-lying clouds similarly break up and vanish abruptly?

Could peak greenhouse gas concentrations in one spot break up droplets into water vapor, thus raising CO₂e and propagating break-up of more droplets, etc., to shatter entire clouds?

In other words, an extra burst of methane from the seafoor of the Arctic Ocean alone could suffice to trigger the clouds tipping point and abruptly push temperatures up by an additional 8°C.
Omnicide?
This brings the IPCC views and suggestions into question. As discussed above, for the average temperature to come down to below 1.5°C over the period 1997-2026, temperatures would need to fall over the next few years. What again would it take for temperatures to fall over the next few years?
Imagine that all emissions of greenhouse gases by people would end. Even if all emissions of greenhouse gases by people could magically end right now, there would still be little or no prospect for temperatures to fall over the next few years. Reasons for this are listed below, and it is not an exhaustive list since some things are hard to assess, such as whether oceans will be able to keep absorbing as much heat and carbon dioxide as they currently do.
By implication, there is no carbon budget left. Suggesting that there was a carbon budget left, to be divided among polluters and to be consumed over the next few years, that suggestion is irresponsible. Below are some reasons why the temperature is likely to rise over the next few years, rather than fall.
How likely is a rise of more than 3°C by 2026?
• The warming impact of carbon dioxide reaches its peak a decade after emission, while methane’s impact over ten years is huge, so the warming impact of the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere is likely to prevent temperatures from falling and could instead keep raising temperatures for some time to come.
• Temperatures are currently suppressed. We’re in a La Niña period, as illustrated by the image below.
[ click on images to enlarge ]

As NASA describes, El Niño events occur roughly every two to seven years. As temperatures keep rising, ever more frequent strong El Niño events are likely to occur. NOAA anticipates La Niña to re-emerge during the fall or winter 2021/2022, so it’s likely that a strong El Niño will occur between 2023 and 2025. 

• Rising temperatures can cause growth in sources of greenhouse gases and a decrease in sinks. The image below shows how El Niño/La Niña events and growth in CO₂ levels line up. 
• We’re also at a low point in the sunspot cycle. As the image on the right shows, the number of sunspots can be expected to rise as we head toward 2026, and temperatures can be expected to rise accordingly. According to James Hansen et al., the variation of solar irradiance from solar minimum to solar maximum is of the order of 0.25 W/m⁻².
• Add to this the impact of a recent Sudden Stratospheric Warming event. We are currently experiencing the combined impact of three short-term variables that are suppressing the temperature rise, i.e. a Sudden Stratospheric Warming event, a La Niña event and a low in sunspots.
Over the next few years, in the absence of large volcano eruptions and in the absence of Sudden Stratospheric Warming events, a huge amount of heat could build up at surface level. As the temperature impact of the other two short-term variables reverses, i.e. as the sunspot cycle moves toward a peak and a El Niño develops, this could push up temperatures substantially. The world could be set up for a perfect storm by 2026, since sunspots are expected to reach a peak by then and since it takes a few years to move from a La Niña low to the peak of an El Niño period.
• Furthermore, temperatures are currently also suppressed by sulfate cooling. This impact is falling away as we progress with the necessary transition away from fossil fuel and biofuel, toward the use of more wind turbines and solar panels instead. Aerosols typically fall out of the atmosphere within a few weeks, so as the transition progresses, this will cause temperatures to rise over the next few years. Most sulfates are caused by large-scale industrial activity, such as coal-fired power plants and smelters. A significant part of sulphur emissions is also caused by volcanoes. Historically, some 20 volcanoes are actively erupting on any particular day. Of the 49 volcanoes that erupted during 2021, 45 volcanoes were still active with continuing (for at least 3 months) eruptions as at March 12, 2021.
• Also holding back the temperature rise at the moment is the buffer effect of thick sea ice in the Arctic that consumes heat as it melts. As Arctic sea ice thickness declines, more heat will instead warm up the Arctic, resulting in albedo changes, changes to the Jet Stream and possibly trigger huge releases of methane from the seafloor. The rise in ocean temperature on the Northern Hemisphere looks very threatening in this regard (see image on the right) and many of these developments are discussed at the extinction page. There are numerous further feedbacks that look set to start kicking in with growing ferocity as temperatures keep rising, such as releases of greenhouse gases resulting from permafrost thawing and the decline of the snow and ice cover. Some 30 feedbacks affecting the Arctic are discussed at the feedbacks page.
• The conclusion of study after study is that the situation is worse than expected and will get even worse as warming continues. Some examples: a recent study found that the Amazon rainforest is no longer a sink, but has become a source, contributing to warming the planet instead; another study found that soil bacteria release CO₂ that was previously thought to remain trapped by iron; another study found that forest soil carbon does not increase with higher CO₂ levels; another study found that forests’ long-term capacity to store carbon is dropping in regions with extreme annual fires; a recent post discussed a study finding that at higher temperatures, respiration rates continue to rise in contrast to sharply declining rates of photosynthesis, which under business-as-usual emissions would nearly halve the land sink strength by as early as 2040; the post also mentions a study on oceans that finds that, with increased stratification, heat from climate warming less effectively penetrates into the deep ocean, which contributes to further surface warming, while it also reduces the capability of the ocean to store carbon, exacerbating global surface warming; finally, a recent study found that kelp off the Californian coast has collapsed. So, both land and ocean sinks look set to decrease as temperatures keep rising, while a 2020 study points out that the ocean sink will also immediately slow down as future fossil fuel emission cuts drive reduced growth of atmospheric CO₂. 
Where do we go from here?
[ image from earlier post ]
The same blue trend that’s in the image at the top also shows up in the image on the right, from an earlier post, together with a purple trend and a red trend that picture even worse scenarios than the blue trend.
The purple trend is based on 15 recent years (2006-2020), so it can cover a 30-year period (2006-2035) that is centered around end December 2020. As the image shows, the purple trend points at a rise of 10°C by 2026, leaving little or no scope for the current acceleration to slow, let alone for the anomaly to return to below 2°C.

The red trend is based on a dozen recent years (2009-2020) and shows that the 2°C threshold could already have been crossed in 2020, while pointing at a rise of 18°C by 2025.

In conclusion, temperatures could rise by more than 3°C by the end of 2026, as indicated by the blue trend in the image at the top. At that point, humans will likely go extinct, making it in many respects rather futile to speculate about what will happen beyond 2026. On the other hand, the right thing to do is to help avoid the worst things from happening, through comprehensive and effective action as described in the Climate Plan.

Links

• Climate Plan

• NOAA Global Climate Report – February 2021 – Monthly Temperature Anomalies Versus El Niño

• NOAA Northern Hemisphere Ocean Temperature Anomaly

• NOAA Sunspots – solar cycle progression

• Smithsonian Institution – Volcanoes – current eruptions

• IPCC Special Report Global Warming of 1.5 ºC – Summary for Policy Makers

• IPCC AR5 WG1 Summary for Policymakers – Box SPM.1: Representative Concentration Pathways

• The representative concentration pathways: an overview – by Detlef van Vuuren et al. (2011)

• Young people’s burden: requirement of negative CO₂ emissions – by James Hansen et al. (2017)

• 2020: Hottest Year On Record

• What Carbon Budget?

• Most Important Message Ever

• High Temperatures October 2020

• Temperature keep rising

• More Extreme Weather

• Extinction

• Feedbacks

• Sudden Stratospheric Warming

• Possible climate transitions from breakup of stratocumulus decks under greenhouse warming – by Tapio Schneider  et al.

• Iron mineral dissolution releases iron and associated organic carbon during permafrost thaw – by Monique Patzner et al.

• Global maps of twenty-first century forest carbon fluxes – by Nancy Harris et al.

• A trade-off between plant and soil carbon storage under elevated CO2 – by César Terrer et al.

• Forests’ long-term capacity to store carbon is dropping in regions with extreme annual fires

• Decadal changes in fire frequencies shift tree communities and functional traits – by Adam Pellegrini et al.

• NOAA – Annual Mean Growth Rate for Mauna Loa, Hawaii

• NOAA – Trends in Atmospheric Methane

https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends_ch4

• The Climate Data Guide: Nino SST Indices – by Kevin Trenberth & NCAR Staff (Eds)
https://climatedataguide.ucar.edu/climate-data/nino-sst-indices-nino-12-3-34-4-oni-and-tni
• Historical change of El Niño properties sheds light on future changes of extreme El Niño – by Bin Wang et al. 
• NOAA – ENSO: Recent Evolution, Current Status and Predictions, April 12, 2021
https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf

• Upper Ocean Temperatures Hit Record High in 2020 – by Lijing Cheng et al.

• Large-scale shift in the structure of a kelp forest ecosystem co-occurs with an epizootic and marine heatwave – by Meredith McPherson et al.
• External Forcing Explains Recent Decadal Variability of the Ocean Carbon Sink – by Galen McKinley et al. (2020) 
https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2019AV000149

• Maximum warming occurs about one decade after a carbon dioxide emission – by Katharine Ricke et al.

• Blue Ocean Event

• Confirm Methane’s Importance

• FAQs

Confirm Methane's Importance

By |2021-05-13T15:11:35+01:00March 7th, 2021|

Originally published on

by noreply@blogger.com (Sam Carana) at Arctic News

Agriculture, land use and forestry responsible for half of people’s greenhouse gases emissions?

The image on the right updates an image from an earlier post, illustrating the difference between using a Gobal Warming Potential (GWP) for methane of 150 over a few years versus 28 over 100 years. The IPCC in its special report Climate Change and Land assessed the impact of AFOLU (agriculture, forestry, and other land use) versus the impact of fossil fuel, etc., by using a GWP for methane of 28 over 100 years, referring to AR5, an earlier IPCC report. 

Since AR5 was published, a study found methane’s 100-year GWP to be 14% higher than the IPCC value. The image on the right therefore uses a short-term GWP for methane of 171 in the panel on the right-hand side, 14% higher than the 150 used earlier.

When using this 171 GWP for methane and when including pre- and post-production activities in the food system, AFOLU (agriculture, forestry, and other land use) causes about half of people’s 2007-2016 emissions. 

The black bar for methane at a GWP of 171 in the panel on the right-hand side further shows a far greater impact caused by fossil fuel, etc., in particular by the use of natural gas for heating buildings, generating electricity, etc.

Methane’s one-year GWP is 200

The image below shows a trendline that is based on IPCC AR5 data that were similarly updated by 14% and that indicates that methane’s one-year GWP is 200. 

Methane Levels Rising Rapidly

NOAA data show that methane’s global mean for November 2020 was 1891.9 ppb, i.e. 16.3 ppb above the 1875.6 ppb global mean for November 2019. 
Social Cost of Methane
In a January 2021 executive order, President Biden called – among other things – for an update of the ‘social cost of methane’, to take account of climate risk, of environmental justice, and of intergenerational equity, and to have a dollar figure for agencies to use when monetizing the value of changes in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from regulations and other relevant agency actions. 
Of course, it should be painfully clear by now that the unfolding climate collapse is an existential threat, making it obviously and vitally important to act on methane. We simply cannot afford to delay action, we cannot afford to do so financially nor in any other way. So, what can and should be done?

Above suggestion to take strong action was posted Nov. 9, 2020 at facebook

Even when issuing a mandate, e.g., for a rapid transition to clean, renewable energy, the question remains how this is best implemented. To what extent could bans help speed up the necessary transition to clean, renewable energy? Examples are banning cars from entering (parts of) cities, banning the construction of new coal-fired power plants, banning fracking and banning natural gas hookups in new construction.


Image from the 2014 post Biochar Builds Real Assets

The Climate Plan likes local communities to decide what works best in their area, while recommending local feebates as the preferred policy tool. Indeed, fees that are set high enough can effectively ban specific alternatives. Furthermore, instead of using money, local councils could add extra fees to rates for land where soil carbon falls, while using all the revenues for rebates on rates for land where soil carbon rises; that way, biochar effectively becomes a tool to lower rates, while it will also help improve the soil’s fertility, its ability to retain water and to support more vegetation.
That way, real assets are built.

We cannot afford to delay action

Mean global carbon dioxide was 413.28 ppm in November 2020. Mean global methane was 1891.9 ppb in November 2020, which at a 1-year GWP of 200 is 378.38 ppm CO₂e. Together, CO₂ and methane add up to 791.66 ppm CO₂e, which is 408.34 ppm CO₂e away from the 1200 ppm CO₂e clouds tipping point.

This 408.34 ppm CO₂e translates into a methane equivalent of 2042 ppb of methane (again using a 1-year GWP of 200), in other words, it would add about 5 Gt of methane, an amount similar to the methane that is aready in the atmosphere now.

Such a methane burst of about 5 Gt alone could suffice to raise the CO₂e level to 1200 ppm and trigger a further 8°C global temperature rise due to the couds feedback.

How likely is a large methane burst? Remember the warnings by Natalia Shakhova et al., who more than a decade ago concluded abrupt release of ;up to 50 Gt from the vast amounts of methane stored in the form of hydrates and free gas to be highly possible at any time. A recent study found methane leaking from a large pool of deep, preformed methane, indicating a large potential for abrupt future releases.
Keep in mind that the clouds feedback could aso be triggered with a much smaller methane burst, since such an event would also come with a collapse in industrial activity and the associated fall in sulfate cooling, numerous additional feedbacks, and huge rises in greenhouse gas emissions, next to the temperature rise due to such a methane burst itself. The total potential rise in global air temperature at land-ocean surface level from 1750 to 2026 could be 18°C when including the clouds feedback. Also keep in mind that humans will likely go extinct with a 3°C rise and most life on Earth will disappear with a 5°C rise.
High peak levels

Ominously, some very high peak levels were recently recorded by the MetOp-1 satellite in the afternoon at 469 mb, i.e. 2930 ppb on March 3 and 2878 ppb on March 4.
As discussed in an earlier post, next to seafloor methane, there are further warming elements that could contribute to a rapid acceleration of the temperature rise.

Conclusion

The situation is dire and calls for immediate, comprehensive and effective action as described in the Climate Plan.

Links

• Climate Plan
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/climateplan.html

• IPCC special report Climate Change and Land
https://www.ipcc.ch/report/srccl

• IPCC Report Climate Change and Land
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/08/ipcc-report-climate-change-and-land.html

• Radiative forcing of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide: A significant revision of the methane radiative forcing – by Maryam Etminan et al. (2018)
https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2016GL071930

• IPCC keeps feeding the addiction
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2018/10/ipcc-keeps-feeding-the-addiction.html

• How much warming have humans caused?
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2016/05/how-much-warming-have-humans-caused.html

• Most Important Message Ever
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/07/most-important-message-ever.html

• January 2021 executive order by President Biden on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis

• NOAA mean global carbon dioxide
https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/gl_data.html

• Why stronger winds over the North Atlantic are so dangerous
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/02/why-stronger-winds-over-north-atlantic-are-so-dangerous.html

• Feedbacks in the Arctic
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/feedbacks.html

• When will we die?
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/06/when-will-we-die.html

• A rise of 18°C or 32.4°F by 2026?
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/02/a-rise-of-18c-or-324f-by-2026.html

• Methane Hydrates Tipping Point threatens to get crossed
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/08/methane-hydrates-tipping-point-threatens-to-get-crossed.html

• Arctic Hit By Ten Tipping Points
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/04/arctic-hit-by-ten-tipping-points.html

• Crossing the Paris Agreement thresholds
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/crossing.html

• 2°C crossed
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/03/2c-crossed.html

• Most Important Message Ever
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/07/most-important-message-ever.html

• Blue Ocean Event
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2018/09/blue-ocean-event.html

• Record Arctic Warming
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2016/04/record-arctic-warming.html

• There is no time to lose
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/11/there-is-no-time-to-lose.html

• Warning of mass extinction of species, including humans, within one decade
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2017/02/warning-of-mass-extinction-of-species-including-humans-within-one-decade.html

• Extinction
https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/extinction.html

• Frequently Asked Questions: How much methane is stored in hydrates and how much of this could be released, say, within a few years?

• Source apportionment of methane escaping the subsea permafrost system in the outer Eurasian Arctic Shelf – by Julia Steinbach et al.

• 2020: Hottest Year On Record

Snowstorms, the breach of the Arctic vortex and the effects of ice meltwater on the oceans

By |2021-05-13T15:11:45+01:00February 22nd, 2021|

Originally published on

by noreply@blogger.com (Sam Carana) at Arctic News

by Andrew Glikson

Warnings by leading climate scientists regarding the high sensitivity of the atmosphere in response to abrupt compositional changes, such as near-doubling of greenhouse gas concentrations, are now manifest: According to Wallace Broecker, (the “father” of climate science) “The paleoclimate record shouts out to us that, far from being self-stabilizing, the Earth’s climate system is an ornery beast which overreacts to even small nudges, and humans have already given the climate a substantial nudge”. As stated by James Zachos, “The Paleocene hot spell should serve as a reminder of the unpredictable nature of climate”.

As snowstorms such as the Beast from the East (2018) and Storm Darcy (2021) sweep the northern continents, reaching Britain and as far south as Texas and Greece, those who still question the reality and consequences of global climate change, including in governments, may rejoice as if they have a new argument to question global warming.

However, as indicated by the science, these fronts result from a weakened circum-Arctic jet stream boundary due to decreased temperature polarity between the Arctic Circle and high latitude zones in Europe, Russia and North America. The reduced contrast allows migration of masses of cold Arctic air southward and of tropical air northward across the weakened jet stream boundary, indicating a fundamental shift in the global climate pattern (Figure 1).

Figure 1. (A) Extensions from the Arctic polar zone into Europe and North America; (B) Extension into North America; (C) weakening and increasing undulation of the Arctic jet stream boundary (NOAA) allowing intrusion of air masses of contrasted temperature across the boundary.

The weakening of the Arctic boundary is a part of the overall shift of climate zones toward the poles in both hemispheres, documented in detail in Europe (Figure 2). Transient cooling pauses are projected as a result of the flow of cold ice meltwater from Greenland and Antarctica into the oceans, leading to stadial cooling intervals.

Figure 2. Migration of climate zones in Europe during 1981-2010 and under +2°C. Faint pink areas represent advanced warming. (A, left) Agro‐climate zonation of Europe based on growing season length (GSL) and active temperature sum (ATS) obtained as an ensemble median from five different climate model simulations during the baseline period (1981–2010). (B, right) Ensemble median spatial patterns of agro-climate zones migration under 2°C global surface warming according to model RCP8.5. Gray areas represent regions where no change with respect to the baseline period is simulated.
A combination of ice sheet melting and the flow of melt water into the oceans on the one hand, and ongoing warming of tropical continental zones on the other hand, are likely to lead to the following:

  • Storminess due to collisions of cold and warm air masses;
  • As the ice sheets continue to melt, the cold meltwater enhances lower temperatures at shallow ocean levels, as modelled by Hansen et al. (2016) and Bonselaer et al (2018) (Figure 3A), as contrasted with warming at deeper ocean levels over large parts of the oceans. This transiently counterbalances the effects of global warming over the continents arising from the greenhouse effect; 
  • The above processes herald chaotic climate effects, in particular along continental margins and island chains.
Figure 3. A. 2080–2100 meltwater-induced sea-air temperature anomalies relative to the standard RCP8.5 ensemble (Bronselaer et al., 2018), indicating marked cooling of parts of the southern oceans. Hatching indicates where the anomalies are not significant at the 95% level; B. Negative temperature anomalies through the 21st-22nd centuries signifying stadial cooling intervals (Hansen et al., 2016); C. A model of Global warming for 2096, where cold ice melt water occupies large parts of the North Atlantic and circum-Antarctica, raises sea level by about 5 meters and decreases global temperature by -0.33°C (Hansen et al., 2016).
The extreme rate at which the global warming and the shift of climate zones are taking place virtually within a period less than one generation-long, faster than major past warming events such as at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary 56 million years ago, renders the term “climate change” hardly appropriate, since what we are looking at is a sudden and abrupt event

According to Giger (2021) “Tipping points could fundamentally disrupt the planet and produce abrupt change in the climate. A mass methane release could put us on an irreversible path to full land-ice melt, causing sea levels to rise by up to 30 meters. We must take immediate action to reduce global warming and build resilience with these tipping points in mind.”

Computer modelling does not always capture the sensitivity, complexity and feedbacks of the atmosphere-ocean-land system as observed from paleoclimate studies. Many models portray gradual or linear responses of the atmosphere to compositional variations, overlooking self-amplifying effects and transient reversals associated with melting of the ice sheets and cooling of the oceans by the flow of ice melt.

According to Bonselaer et al. (2018) “The climate metrics that we consider lead to substantially different future climate projections when accounting for the effects of meltwater from the Antarctic Ice Sheet. These differences have consequences for climate policy and should be taken into account in future IPCC reports, given recent observational evidence of increasing mass loss from Antarctica” and “However, the effect on climate is not included (by the IPCC) and will not be in the upcoming CMIP6 experimental design. Similarly, the effects of meltwater from the Greenland Ice Sheet have so far not been considered, and could lead to further changes in simulated future climate”. Depending on future warming the effect of Antarctic ice meltwater may extend further, possibly becoming global.

By contrast to ocean cooling, further to NASA’s reported mean land-ocean temperature rise of +1.18°C in March 2020 above pre-industrial temperatures, relative to the 1951-1980 baseline, large parts of the continents, including central Asia, west Africa eastern South America and Australia are warming toward mean temperatures of +2°C and higher. The contrast between cooling of extensive ocean regions and warming of the continental tropics is likely to lead to extreme storminess, in particular along continent-ocean interfaces.

The late 20th century to early 21st century global greenhouse gas levels and regional warming rates have reached a large factor to an order of magnitude faster than warming events of past geological and mass extinction events, with major implications for the nature and speed of extreme weather events.

For these reasons the term “climate change” for the current extreme warming, which is reaching +1.5°C over the continents and more than +3°C over the Arctic over a period shorter than one century, no longer applies.

The world is looking at an extremely rapid shift in the climatic conditions that have allowed civilization to emerge.

Andrew Glikson

A/Prof. Andrew Glikson
Earth and Paleo-climate scientist
The University of New South Wales,
Kensington NSW 2052 Australia

Books:

The Asteroid Impact Connection of Planetary Evolution

The Archaean: Geological and Geochemical Windows into the Early Earth

Climate, Fire and Human Evolution: The Deep Time Dimensions of the Anthropocene

The Plutocene: Blueprints for a Post-Anthropocene Greenhouse Earth

Evolution of the Atmosphere, Fire and the Anthropocene Climate Event Horizon

From Stars to Brains: Milestones in the Planetary Evolution of Life and Intelligence

Asteroids Impacts, Crustal Evolution and Related Mineral Systems with Special Reference to Australia


The extreme rate of global warming: IPCC Oversights of future climate trends

By |2021-05-13T15:11:53+01:00February 12th, 2021|

Originally published on

by noreply@blogger.com (Sam Carana) at Arctic News

by Andrew Glikson

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports and comprehensive summaries of the peer-reviewed literature raise questions regarding the assumptions inherent in computer modelling of future climate changes, including the supposed linearity of future global temperature trends (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Global mean surface temperature increase as a function of cumulative total global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from various lines of evidence. IPCC

Computer modelling does not necessarily capture the sensitivity, complexity and feedbacks of the atmosphere-ocean-land system as observed from paleoclimate studies. Underlying published IPCC computer models appears to be an assumption of mostly gradual or linear responses of the atmosphere to compositional variations. This overlooks self-amplifying effects and transient reversals associated with melting of the ice sheets. 

Leading paleoclimate scientists have issued warnings regarding the high sensitivity of the atmosphere in response to extreme forcing, such as near-doubling of greenhouse gas concentrations: According to Wallace Broecker, “The paleoclimate record shouts out to us that, far from being self-stabilizing, the Earth’s climate system is an ornery beast which overreacts to even small nudges, and humans have already given the climate a substantial nudge”. As stated by James Zachos, “The Paleocene hot spell should serve as a reminder of the unpredictable nature of climate”.

Holocene examples are abrupt stadial cooling events which followed peak warming episodes which trigger a flow of large volumes of ice melt water into the oceans, inducing stadial events. Stadial events can occur within very short time, as are the Younger dryas stadial (12.9-11.7 kyr) (Steffensen et al. 2008) (Figure 2) and the 8.2 kyr Laurentian cooling episode,

Despite the high rates of warming such stadial cooling intervals do not appear to be shown in IPCC models (Figure 1).

Figure 2. The younger dryas stadial cooling (Steffensen et al., 2008). Note the abrupt freeze and thaw boundaries of ~3 years and ~1 year.

Comparisons with paleoclimate warming rates follow: The CO₂ rise interval for the K-T impact is estimated to range from instantaneous to a few 10³ years or a few 10⁴ years (Beerling et al, 2002), or near-instantaneous (Figure 3A). An approximate CO₂ growth range of ~0.114 ppm/year applies to the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) (Figure 3B) and ~0.0116 ppm/year to the Last Glacial Termination (LGT) during 17-11 kyr ago (Figure 3C). Thus the current warming rate of 2 to 3 ppm/year is about or more than 200 times the LGT rate (LGT: 17-11 kyr; ~0.0116 ppm/yr) and 20-30 times faster than the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) rate of ~0.114 ppm/year.


Therefore the term “climate change” for the extreme warming reaching +1.5°C over the continents and more than +3°C over the Arctic over a period of less than 100 years, requires reconsideration.
However, comparisons between the PETM and current global warming may be misleading since, by distinction from the current existence of large ice sheets on Earth, no ice was present about 55 million years ago.
Figure 3. (A) Reconstructed atmospheric CO₂ variations during the Late Cretaceous–early Tertiary, based on –
Stomata indices of fossil leaf cuticles calibrated using inverse regression and stomatal ratios (Beerling et al. 2002);
(B) Simulated atmospheric CO₂ at and after the Palaeocene-Eocene boundary (after Zeebe et al., 2009);
(C) Global CO₂ and temperature during the last glacial termination (After Shakun et al., 2012) (LGM – Last Glacial Maximum; OD – Older dryas; BA – Bølling–Alerød; YD – Younger dryas)

Observed climate complexities leading to the disturbance of linear temperature variations include:

  1. The weakening of climate zone boundaries, such as the circum-Arctic jet stream, allowing cold air and water masses to shift from polar to mid-latitude zones and tropical air masses to penetrate polar zones (Figure 4), induce collisions between air masses of contrasted temperatures and storminess, with major effects on continental margins and island chains.
  2. Amplifying feedbacks, including release of carbon from warming oceans due to reduced CO₂ solubility and therefore reduced intake from the atmosphere, release of methane from permafrost and from marine sediments, desiccated vegetation and extensive bush fires release of CO₂.
  3. The flow of cold ice melt water into the oceans from melting ice sheets—Greenland (Rahmstorf et al., 2015) and Antarctica (Bonselaer et al., 2018)—ensuing in stadial cooling effects, such as the Younger dryas and following peak interglacial phases during the last 800,000 years (Cortese et al., 2007; Glikson, 2019).
Figure 4. Weakening and undulation of the jet stream, shifts of climate zones and penetration of air masses across the weakened climate boundary. NOAA.

In the shorter term such international targets as “zero emissions by 2050” apparently do not include the export of petroleum, coal and gas, thus allowing nations to circumvent domestic emission limits. Australia, the fifth biggest miner and third biggest exporter of fossil fuels, is responsible for about 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

At present the total CO₂+CH₄+N₂O level (mixing ratio) is near 500 ppm CO₂-equivalent (Figure 5). From the current atmospheric CO₂ level of above ~415 ppm, at the rise rate of 2 – 3 ppm/year, by 2050 the global CO₂ level would reach about 500 ppm and the CO₂-equivalent near 600 ppm, raising mean temperatures to near-2°C above preindustrial level, enhancing further breakdown of the large ice sheets and a further rise of sea levels.

Figure 5. Evolution of the CO₂+CH₄+N₂O level (mixing ratio)

Andrew Glikson

Dr Andrew Glikson
Earth and Paleo-climate scientist
ANU Climate Science Institute
ANU Planetary Science Institute
Canberra, Australia

Books:
The Asteroid Impact Connection of Planetary Evolution
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9789400763272
The Archaean: Geological and Geochemical Windows into the Early Earth
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319079073
Climate, Fire and Human Evolution: The Deep Time Dimensions of the Anthropocene
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319225111
The Plutocene: Blueprints for a Post-Anthropocene Greenhouse Earth
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319572369
Evolution of the Atmosphere, Fire and the Anthropocene Climate Event Horizon
http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9789400773318
From Stars to Brains: Milestones in the Planetary Evolution of Life and Intelligence
https://www.springer.com/us/book/9783030106027
Asteroids Impacts, Crustal Evolution and Related Mineral Systems with Special Reference to Australia
http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319745442