The Present Threat to Coastal Cities From Antarctic and Greenland Melt

GR: With rising global temperature and increasing threat of rapid glacial melt, Scribbler concludes:

“The only way to lower this risk [coastal city inundation] is to rapidly reduce to zero the amount of carbon hitting the atmosphere from human sources while ultimately learning how to pull carbon out of the atmosphere. The present most rapid pathway for carbon emissions reductions involves an urgent build-out of renewable and non-carbon based energy systems to replace all fossil fuels with a focus on wind, solar, and electrical vehicle economies of scale and production chains. Added to various drives for sustainable cities and increasing efficiency, such a push could achieve an 80 percent or greater reduction in carbon emissions on the 2-3 decade timescale with net negative carbon emissions by mid Century. For cities on the coast, choosing whether or not to support such a set of actions is ultimately an existential one.” –RobertScribbler (The Present Threat to Coastal Cities From Antarctic and Greenland Melt | robertscribbler)

We Still Have Time to Restore Our Climate. But the Climate Time Bomb Is Ticking

GR: The article below describes the current state of our changing climate, the disasters facing us, and the things we could do to save ourselves. Like David Wallace-Wells, Carlin leaves the sugar-coating off. There is some optimism here, but Carlin doesn’t minimize the difficulties. In fact, he makes it clear that the ticking has grown so loud it should be drowning out most other concerns. Recommended.

“A recent New York Magazine article about the climate ruin we are facing, by David Wallace Wells, has caused a furor for describing the catastrophes that could happen to our planet by the end of the century if we do not mitigate the harms to our climate and reverse course. This op-ed by guest contributor Alex Carlin contends that those crises could happen much sooner, and he details steps he believes could help forestall disaster.

“Yes, Virginia, we still have time to restore our climate. But the Climate Time Bomb is undeniably ticking–and Trump has pulled out of the Paris agreement.

What Should We Do To Restore Our ClImate?

“Trump climate policy is blind and deaf to the fact that the Climate Bomb can cause millions—or even potentially billions—of deaths by mid-century. I believe Trump’s rogue refusal to defuse the Bomb is an unfathomably heinous crime against humanity.

“While the Paris agreement focuses on lowering CO2 emissions, there is a second indispensable task we must also perform to defuse The Bomb: restoring the Arctic ice.

“For thousands of years, the frozen Arctic has been keeping our climate hospitable—until now. The Arctic is a critical part of the earth’s mechanism for controlling the planet’s temperature and climate.

“But ominously, the Arctic Ocean has nearly finished changing from a state of “perennial ice”–covered with sea ice in the winter and never substantially ice free in the summer–to a state of “seasonal ice”–substantially ice free in the summer.

“Completing this switchover would herald the biggest change in the global ecosystem since before the start of human civilization, and it would have a devastating impact.

“Billions of people will face the risk of death in this century from adverse climate change outcomes such as starvation, heat stress, resource wars and disease if we don’t restore the perennial ice.

Next: Mass Starvation

–Alex Carlin (Continue reading: We Still Have Time to Restore Our Climate. But the Climate Time Bomb Is Ticking).

Zero Arctic Sea Ice Very Likely By 2020 !

GR: Zero Arctic sea ice will have dramatic (no, dramatic isn’t strong enough) or should I say traumatic effects on weather. Learn more about what’s just around the corner with these educational videos by Paul Beckwith.

“There is a very high probability that the Arctic sea ice will essentially vanish by the end of summer melt in 2020 or earlier. The ice-free duration would likely be less than one-month in September for this first “blue-ocean” event.” –Paul Beckwith.

Antarctica Is Melting, and Giant Ice Cracks Are Just the Start

GR: Glaciers are melting at the North Pole, the South Pole, and in mountains around the planet. Sea level is rising. If we stop adding greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere now, melting might stop within a few centuries. At that point, sea level will be more than 30 feet higher than it is now. If we continue to add greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere, we can expect 70 feet of sea-level rise before stability is reached. Stability at that point will occur because we will have stopped producing greenhouse gases–we will have little working technology left. Cutting emissions immediately is the only way we might limit the rise to 30 feet.

In East Antarctica, Australian researchers probe for crevasses on Totten Glacier—another one that has begun to look vulnerable—before deploying instruments to measure how fast it’s moving and thinning (photo by Camille Seaman).

As you will see as you read this article, critical measurements are underway to determine how fast the ice is melting. It is expensive to make the measurements that will give us the ability to predict and plan for rising sea level. Less money than presidential trips to Florida to play golf, but substantial amounts nevertheless. This is just the type of necessary spending the Trump administration (actually the corporatists controlling Congress) is intent on ending. Isn’t this a crime against nature and humanity?

Melting Antarctic Glaciers

(The following story appears in the July 2017 issue of National Geographic Magazine.)

“The massive iceberg poised to break off the Larsen C Ice Shelf may be a harbinger of a continent-wide collapse that would swamp coastal cities around the world.

“Seen from above, the Pine Island Ice Shelf is a slow-motion train wreck. Its buckled surface is scarred by thousands of large crevasses. Its edges are shredded by rifts a quarter mile across. In 2015 and 2016 a 225-square-mile chunk of it broke off the end and drifted away on the Amundsen Sea. The water there has warmed by more than a degree Fahrenheit over the past few decades, and the rate at which ice is melting and calving has quadrupled.

“On the Antarctic Peninsula, the warming has been far greater—nearly five degrees on average. That’s why a Delaware-size iceberg is poised to break off the Larsen C Ice Shelf and why smaller ice shelves on the peninsula have long since disintegrated entirely into the waters of the Weddell Sea. But around the Amundsen Sea, a thousand miles to the southwest on the Pacific coast of Antarctica, the glaciers are far larger and the stakes far higher. They affect the entire planet.

A startling sunset reddens the Lemaire Channel, off the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. The continent’s coastal ice is crumbling as the sea and air around it warm (photo by Camille Seaman).

 

“These are the fastest retreating glaciers on the face of the Earth,” says Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Rignot has studied the region for more than two decades, using radar from aircraft and satellites, and he believes the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is only a matter of time. The question is whether it will take 500 years or fewer than a hundred—and whether humanity will have time to prepare.

“We have to get these numbers right,” Rignot says. “But we have to be careful not to waste too much time doing that.”

“Getting the predictions right requires measurements that can be made only by going to the ice. In December 2012 a red-and-white Twin Otter plane skimmed low over the Pine Island Ice Shelf. The pilot dragged the plane’s skis through the snow, then lifted off and circled back to make sure he hadn’t uncovered any crevasses. After the plane landed, a single person disembarked. Tethered to the plane by a rope and harness, he probed the snow with an eight-foot rod.” –Douglas Fox–Photographs by Camille Seaman. (This story appears in the July 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine. Continue: Antarctica Is Melting, and Giant Ice Cracks Are Just the Start.)

The west side of the Antarctic Peninsula is warming several times faster than the rest of the planet. Ninety percent of its 674 glaciers are now in retreat and are calving more icebergs into the sea, like this one in Andvord Bay (photo by Camille Seaman).

Worrisome first quarter of 2017 climate trends – Yale Climate Connections

GR: Here’s a handy summary of global temperature, sea ice, and coral reef changes so far in 2017.

“With the first quarter of 2017 now past, the year is shaping up to be one of climate extremes: high temperatures, low sea ice, and coral bleaching.

“The year is shaping up to be one of #climate extremes: high temps, low sea ice, and coral bleaching.”

“Global surface temperatures continue to increase in-line with climate model predictions, and the world has now experienced an increased global temperature of about 0.8 degrees C (1.5 degrees F) since 1970. Temperatures for the first three months of the year were actually warmer than the 2016 average, and there is a reasonable chance that 2017 for a fourth consecutive year will be the warmest on record.

“Global sea ice extent is near historic lows in the Arctic and Antarctic, and Arctic sea ice volume has also been decreasing as it ages and thins, with less new ice to replace it. The Great Barrier Reef experienced an unprecedented second consecutive year of coral bleaching, the only major coral bleaching on record to have occurred other than in an El Niño year.

Temperature

“Global surface temperatures were surprisingly warm in the first quarter of 2017. Despite the end of the large 2015/2016 El Niño, temperatures remained high with January, February, and March each being the second warmest on record, after 2016.” –Zeke Hausfather (Continue reading: Worrisome first quarter of 2017 climate trends – Yale Climate Connections).

An Armada of Icebergs Has Just Invaded The North Atlantic

GR: Swarms of icebergs are another symptom of global warming that we meet as we cross the threshold of accelerated change. RobertScribbler reports on the complex connections and dangers in many posts. Here’s a sample.

“I have about a decade of experience with the Ice Patrol, and in my time here, and talking with people who have been here longer, I’ve never seen anything like this or heard of anything like this before,” — Gabrielle McGrath, Coast Guard Commander of the US Ice Patrol.

“A Heinrich event is a phenomenon in which large armadas of icebergs break off from glaciers and traverse the North Atlantic.” — Commons

“Consider the situation during past ice sheet disintegrations. In melt-water pulse 1A, about 14,000 years ago, sea level rose about 20 meters in approximately 400 years (Kienast et al., 2003). That is an average of 1 meter of sea level rise every 20 years.” — Dr. James Hansen.

“This week an unprecedented 481 icebergs swarmed into the shipping lanes of a storm-tossed North Atlantic. Strong hurricane force winds had ripped these bergs from their sea ice moored haven of Baffin Bay and thrust them into the ocean waters off Newfoundland. The week before, there were only 37 such icebergs in the Atlantic’s far northern waters. And the new number this week is nearly 6 times the annual average for this time of year at 83. To be very clear, there is no record, at present, of such a large surge of icebergs entering these waters in so short a period at any time in the modern reckoning.

(Many glaciers along the periphery of Greenland have passed the point of no return. In other words, at present temperatures, these glaciers will completely melt. In the past, such major melting events have released ‘armadas of icebergs’ into the North Atlantic in instances called Heinrich Events. Video source: Chasing Ice.)

Likely Precursor to a Heinrich Event

–RobertScribbler (Continue reading: An Armada of Icebergs Has Just Invaded The North Atlantic | robertscribbler.)

This week, a massive swarm of icebergs that calved from Greenland and entered Baffin Bay have been kicked into the North Atlantic by a powerful storm system. To be clear, this is the kind of thing you’d expect at the start of a Heinrich Event. Image source: U.S. Coastguard.

Antarctic Sea Ice Hits New All-Time Record Low | robertscribbler

GR:  Here’s an update on climate-change developments in Antarctica. As in the Arctic, sea ice is melting. Losing sea ice increases solar heat absorption by open water and changes pressure systems. If this accelerates as it has at the North Pole, we have one more factor contributing to wildfires, weather extremes, and impacts on wild plants and animals.

“During late February, Antarctic sea ice breached the previous all-time record low for extent coverage since measurements began in 1978. And in the following days, sea ice extent measures near the South Pole have continued to creep lower, gradually extending into unprecedented ranges.

More above average temperatures predicted this week for Antarctica may extend sea ice record lows somewhat before refreeze sets in. Image source: Climate Reanalyzer.

“Hitherto unseen global heat — driven primarily by human fossil fuel emissions — appears to be the chief contributor to this melting. During 2016, global average surface temperatures rose to 1.2 degrees Celsius above 1880s ranges. This global reading likely represents the warmest surface temperatures the world has experienced in the last 115,000 years. At the same time, the global ocean system has been rapidly accumulating warmth and transferring it through the surface and deep layers of the world’s waters.

“Such pervasive heat is producing an ongoing trend of considerable sea ice melt in the Arctic — a trend that has been in place since record-keeping began in 1978. One that, all by itself, is strong enough to drag global sea ice measures lower and lower. The warmth is also producing land ice melt around the world — including glaciers in Antarctica, Greenland and across numerous mountain ranges.” –Robert Scribbler (Continue reading:  Antarctic Sea Ice Hits New All-Time Record Low | robertscribbler.)

Global warming produced an identifiable global sea ice melt trend during the post year 2000 period. By 2016, that trend had become glaringly obvious. See final paragraph for further discussion. Image source: Wipneus.

The Winter of Blazing Discontent Continues in the Arctic

GR:  Climate change in action. We are losing the polar ice cap and that is changing Earth’s climate right now. Nothing good will come of it.

“Weird. Strange. Extreme. Unprecedented. These are some of the words that describe what’s been happening in the Arctic over the past year as surge after surge of warm air have stalled, and at times reversed, sea ice pack growth. And the unfortunate string of superlatives is set to continue this week.

The animation shows projected polar temperature anomalies through Feb. 13, 2017.

“Arctic sea ice is already sitting at a record low for this time of year and a powerful North Atlantic storm is expected to open the flood gates and send more warmth pouring into the region from the lower latitudes. By Thursday, it could reach up to 50°F above normal. In absolute temperature, that’s near the freezing point and could further spur a decline in sea ice.

Right now, “A massive storm is swirling toward Europe. It’s a weather maker in itself, churning up waves as high as 46 feet and pressure dropping as low as is typical for a Category 4 hurricane as of Monday. The storm is to the southeast of Greenland and its massive comma shape has made for stunning satellite imagery. The storm is expected to weaken as it approaches Europe, but it will conspire with a high pressure system over the continent to send a stream of warm air into the Arctic through the Greenland Sea.

“Temperatures are forecast to reach the melting point in Svalbard, Norway, an island between the Greenland and Karas Seas. The North Pole could also approach the melting point on Thursday.

“It’s just the latest signal that the Arctic is in the middle of a profound change. Sea ice extent has dropped precipitously as has the amount of old ice, which is less prone to breakup. Beyond sea ice, Greenland’s ice sheet is also melting away and pushing sea levels higher, large fires are much more common and intense in boreal forests and other ecosystem changes are causing the earth to hyperventilate.

“Together, these all indicate that the Arctic is in crisis. It’s the most dramatic example of how carbon pollution is reshaping the planet and scientists are racing to understand what comes next.” –Brian Kahn (More:  The Winter of Blazing Discontent Continues in the Arctic | Climate Central.)

‘Beyond the extreme’: Scientists marvel at ‘increasingly non-natural’ Arctic warmth

GR:  Declining ice, warming oceans, and fading polar high pressure are supporting frequent flows of warm air from the south. Scientists and weather forecasters did not expect this consequence of global warming to come so soon. They do not know what to expect next.

Arctic temperature difference from normal during January. (WeatherBell.com)

“The Arctic is so warm and has been this warm for so long that scientists are struggling to explain it and are in disbelief. The climate of the Arctic is known to oscillate wildly, but scientists say this warmth is so extreme that humans surely have their hands in it and may well be changing how it operates.

“Temperatures are far warmer than ever observed in modern records, and sea ice extent keeps setting record lows.

“2016 was the warmest year on record in the Arctic, and 2017 has picked up right where it left off. “Arctic extreme (relative) warmth continues,” Ryan Maue, a meteorologist with WeatherBell Analytics, tweeted on Wednesday, referring to January’s temperatures.

“Veteran Arctic climate scientists are stunned.

“[A]fter studying the Arctic and its climate for three and a half decades, I have concluded that what has happened over the last year goes beyond even the extreme,” wrote Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., in an essay for Earth magazine.

“At the North Pole, the mercury has rocketed to near the melting point twice since November, and another huge flux of warmth is projected by models next week. Their simulations predict some places in the high Arctic will rise over 50 degrees above normal.

GFS model temperature forecast difference from normal next Feb. 8 over Arctic. (WeatherBell.com)

“What happens next in the Arctic is anyone’s guess. But Penn State’s Titley, who said we are “headed into a new unknown” is concerned: “Science is still trying to figure out the details. We do know that 2017 will almost certainly start with the weakest, thinnest, smallest arctic ice pack in recorded history. So we are one step closer to living with an ice-free arctic in the summer, and probably sooner than we think.” –Jason Samenow (More:  ‘Beyond the extreme’: Scientists marvel at ‘increasingly non-natural’ Arctic warmth – The Washington Post.)

Warm Air Invades Arctic Again, Slowing Sea Ice Growth

GR:  Southerly movement of cold air balances northerly movement of warm air. The added warmth is melting polar sea ice, increasing humidity, trapping more heat, and strengthening the incursions of warm air north and cold air south. We expect this positive feedback to grow stronger with each passing year. Periods of record winter freezes alternating with record winter warmth will allow earlier spring blooms and will more often freeze spring flowers. Crops will fail, migrating wildlife will be confused, and nature will lose another step in its battle to survive the onslaught of human impact.

“A surge of warm air and stormy weather has once again invaded the Arctic, sending temperatures soaring and stagnating winter sea ice growth. These repeated incursions have helped keep sea ice area at record low levels for much of the freeze season, and have even contributed to an exceptional cold season retreat.

Sea ice area during the winter freeze-up (in blue) as compared to the long-term average (in gray). Periodic incursions of warm, stormy weather, along with persistent winter warmth, have kept sea ice at record low levels for much of the winter. Credit: NSIDC

“These recent record lows are part of a clear downward spiral of Arctic sea ice caused by regional temperature rise that is happening at twice the global pace, fueled by continued greenhouse gas emissions.2016, the hottest year on record for the planet, was something of an exclamation point on that Arctic trend, with seven months of record low sea ice levels, as well as record high air temperatures in the region.“

“2016 is the most anomalous year we have seen yet and it appears to be continuing,” Julienne Stroeve, of the U.S. National Snow & Ice Data Center and the University College London, said in an email. “This is not going to look good going into the melt season.”

“This decades-long decline in sea ice has repercussions for native communities and for the Arctic ecosystem, of which the sea ice is a vital component. It is also exposing the fragile region to more shipping and other commercial activity and could be altering weather patterns over parts of the Northern Hemisphere.” –Andrea Thompson (Continue reading:  Warm Air Invades Arctic Again, Slowing Sea Ice Growth | Climate Central.)