Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Heatwave in Arctic - Pangnirtung hotter that Toronto

Pangnirtung, Nunavut recorded temperatures of 10 C (in the shade) yesterday, according to Environment Canada. The community is located almost 300 kilometres northeast of Iqaluit on Baffin Island, just south of the Arctic Circle.

Seasonal temperatures are usually closer to —7 C. Temperatures in Pangnirtung matched those in Ottawa Tuesday, but soared past downtown Toronto, where temperatures only reached 5 C by mid-afternoon. Pangnirtung residents say warmer and earlier springs are becoming the new normal. "It's like June right now," said Adamie Komoartok.
The temperature in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland is 13 C. As has been detailed here, the Greenland Ice sheet has already started its seasonal melt, some 6 weeks earlier than normal. Typical average for April 27 varies from -2°C to -1°C.

In North Northwest Tiski, Russia. The temperature was 15 degrees Celsius.
The earth has over eons stored greenhouse gasses in forests, the soil and in the oceans. Small rises in temperature can trigger these sinks into becoming sources, and thus tip the scales. Evidence is pointing with growing clarity that global warming is reaching it's 'tipping points'. This is an irreversible moment when the dreaded feedback loop begins.

There is a growing sense of dread ... have humans already have gone too far, and are we helpless to stop abrupt and runaway global warming?

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

30th anniversary of Chernobyl - Update

Tuesday marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which permanently poisoned swathes of eastern Europe and highlighted the shortcomings of the secretive Soviet system.

On April 26, 1986, a botched test at the nuclear plant triggered a meltdown that spewed deadly clouds of atomic material into the atmosphere, forcing tens of thousands from their homes.
More than half a million civilian and military personnel were drafted from across the former Soviet Union as so-called liquidators to clean-up and contain the nuclear fallout. Thirty-one plant workers and firemen died in the immediate aftermath of the accident, most from acute radiation sickness.

Over the next three decades, thousands more have succumbed to radiation-related illnesses.
The anniversary marks the imminent completion of a giant 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) steel-clad arch that will enclose the stricken reactor site and prevent further leaks.

The project was funded with donations from more than 40 governments. The surrounding exclusion zone - 2,600 square km (1,000 square miles) of forest and marshland on the border of Ukraine and Belarus - will remain uninhabitable.
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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Greenland Ice Sheet Melt Unprecedented - Update March hottest ever

On Monday and Tuesday, about 12 percent of the Greenland ice sheet surface area – 656,000 square miles or 1.7 million square kilometers – showed signs of melting ice. It smashed the record for early melting by more than three weeks. Normally, no ice should be melting in Greenland at this time of year. Even in 2012, when 97 percent of Greenland experienced melt, it didn’t have such an early and extensive melt. Stunned scientists said they had to recheck their calculations before releasing the results.
Greenland’s capital, Nuuk, reached 62 degrees (16.6 Celsius) on Monday, smashing the April record high temperature by 6.5 degrees. Inland at Kangerlussuaq, it was 64 degrees (17.8 Celsius), warmer than St. Louis and San Francisco.

Greenland's ice sheet has been losing ice at an average pace of 287 billion metric tons a year, according to NASA. If the entire Greenland ice sheet melted, it could add 20 feet or more to global sea level. Within the next century, Greenland ice melt alone could raise sea level by several feet.

(click to enlarge image)
February smashed the previous record for the warmest February and even became the warmest month ever compared to average, according to NOAA. February temperatures over land and ocean averaged a scorching 2.18 F/1.21 C above the 20th century average.

With records going back to 1880, that makes 1,646 months of data, and February tops them all. But what's even more alarming is that the top four months in terms of heat are the past four, going back to December 2015, and they all top 1 C warmer than the 20th century average. Our 'tipping point' may already have been passed.
Last month marked the hottest March in modern history and the 11th consecutive month in which a monthly global temperature record was broken. Officials at NOAA said that the string of record-setting months is the longest in its 137 years of record-keeping.

The globally-averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for March 2016 was the highest for the month of March in the NOAA global temperature dataset record. Planet-wide, the average temperature was 2.20 degrees Fahrenheit (1.22 Celsius) above the 20th century average of 54.9 F (12.7 C). In the world's waters, temperatures were also on the rise, registering the highest global ocean temperature for March since 1880, and beating out the previous record set last year. The seven highest monthly global ocean temperature departures have all occurred in the past seven months said NOAA.

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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Ice Shelf Collapse in Antarctic

Scientists have reported a large part of the Nansen ice shelf has broken off. Ice shelves are expanses of ice floating in the ocean. They are usually 100 to 900 meters thick. After collapsing, part of the shelf broke into two icebergs, which are now migrating north.

The icebergs are 150 square kilometers and 55 square kilometers in size. The larger one is about the size of Manhattan.

Ice shelves are particularly sensitive to climate change because they can melt from warm air at the surface and warming ocean waters below.
In 2014 a 30 kilometer long crack appeared in the ice shelf with melted glacier water running through it.
The break-up of ice shelves and glaciers worldwide could have a significant impact on sea levels. The phenomenon accelerates the migration and melting of the remaining glaciers in the Antarctic. Sea levels could rise more than 70 meters if all of the glaciers at the South Pole were to melt.