Thursday, June 30, 2016

Jet stream crosses Equator - 'Unprecedented’ say Scientists

On the 28th and 29th the Northern Hemisphere Jet Stream merged with the Southern Hemisphere Jet Stream.

“It’s the very picture of weather wierding due to climate change. Something that would absolutely not happen in a normal world” says Robert Scribbler “Something, that if it continues, basically threatens seasonal integrity.” University of Ottawa climate scientist Paul Beckwith called the new behavior “unprecedented.”

“Welcome to climate chaos. We must declare a global climate emergency.”

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Window for Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change Has Closed

Barring some incredible new carbon capture technology, the window for limiting global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius has closed.

That’s the stark conclusion of a report out in Nature, which finds that the carbon reductions pledges penned into the Paris Agreement are ridiculously inadequate for keeping our climate within a safe and stable boundary.
The Paris Agreement pledged to limit human-caused global warming to less than two degrees Celsius, with a “stretch goal” of keeping our planet’s thermostat from rising more than 1.5 degrees.

But as climate scientists have been saying for many months, global carbon emissions are far off track if we want to meet even the 2 degree goal. The study found that the pledges outlined in the Paris Agreement will likely see global temperatures rise 2.6 to 3.1 degrees Celsius by 2100. A 3 degree uptick in global temperatures would cause sea levels to rise over 20 feet over the next few centuries.

Recently, marine biologists have reminded the public that coral reefs around the world are experiencing catastrophic collapse now.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Hikers dropping like flies in record US heat wave

At least five heat-related fatalities have been reported in Arizona alone since Friday.

The human body isn’t made to withstand extreme heat, and heat stroke can occur when the body temperature exceeds 40 degrees. The early signs: throbbing headache, dizziness, muscle cramps, nausea, disorientation and lack of sweating. Heat exhaustion almost always results in death in a matter of hours if not treated immediately.
Dehydration plays a major factor in death. A body loses about a liter of water each hour while hiking. That number is more than doubled in hot weather. The human body cannot absorb water nearly that quickly, so it’s nearly impossible to replace it even if a hiker is carrying enough.

In other words, each hour, the body can lose 2 liters of water but only replace .5 liters, leaving the body at a 1.5-liter deficit of water each hour.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Record heat scalding the Southwest US

An unusually strong area of high pressure — or heat dome — is leading to historic extremes of heat in the Southwest. Dozens of cities and towns in the Southwest United States set record highs on Sunday — some nearing their hottest days ever recorded. Locations that established daily record highs Sunday included: Yuma (120), Phoenix (118), Tucson (115), Burbank, Calif. (109), Albuquerque (103, tie), and Santa Fe (102).

Several of these temperatures ranked among the hottest ever recorded in their respective locations. Excessive heat warnings blanket much of Southern California, southern Nevada, and southern Arizona.
In Southern California, the National Weather Service in Los Angeles is describing the heat wave as “dangerous” and “deadly”

Hotter-than-normal weather is expected to linger over the Southwest through the week, although its intensity is forecast to drop slightly starting Wednesday.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Greenland Hotter than New York

Greenland experienced the highest temperatures ever recorded on June 9, when air temperature in Nuuk, the capital city, soared to 75 degrees F. The average high for this time of year between 1961 and 1990 was 44 degrees F. Amazingly, that record stood for only one day. On June 10, the temperature in Nuuk reached 24.8 degrees Celsius, or 76.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

All this hot air caused Greenland’s sea ice, which is the size of Texas, to begin thawing nearly six weeks earlier than normal this year. The rapid melting of the ice sheet was so unusual in April that researchers thought their instruments were malfunctioning.
The fate of Greenland's ice, particularly how fast it's melting, is an uncomfortable wild card in climate science. If the entire ice sheet were to melt tomorrow (it won't), global sea level would rise by more than 23 feet, inundating highly populated coastal areas around the world.

Recent studies have predicted a faster melt of Greenland as more information about the instability of key glaciers has come in, leading to the very real possibility of 1 meter, or 3.3 feet, or more of sea level rise worldwide by the year 2100.
This past winter was the warmest on record for the Arctic region. The warmer air and melting ice magnify each other in a feedback loop called Arctic amplification.

This is one reason the Arctic is heating up far faster than other parts of the globe.

Jakobshavn Glacier near the edge of the Greenland ice sheet
Upernavik glacier in Northwest Greenland

Monday, June 13, 2016

Atmosphere hits grim milestone as CO2 levels will never go back

Scientists who measure and forecast the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere said on Monday, June 13 that we may have passed a key turning point. Humans walking the Earth today will probably never live to see carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere once again fall below a level of 400 parts per million.

Carbon dioxide concentrations in the pre-industrial atmosphere were around 280 ppm. But concentrations began to rise with the early growth of industry and continually climbed throughout the 20th century, as documented by the famous Keeling curve, based on observations taken at Mauna Loa dating back to the late 1950s.

Mauna Loa Observatory  |  Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations

June 12, 2016

407.26 ppm

June 12, 2015

402.46 ppm

 Scripps CO2 UCSD
daily mean concentrations  |  ppm = parts per million
The paper predicts that this El Niño will drive a year-to-year rise in average atmospheric concentrations of 3.15 ppm, exceeding the single-year change caused by the last major El Niño, from 1997 to 1998, of 2.9 ppm.

On June 12, concentrations were at 407.26 ppm. They should start to decline soon, according to the seasonal cycle, which reaches a peak in May and a low in September and is driven by the growth of plants in the northern hemisphere.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations will continue to rise even though global greenhouse gas emissions from industry may be leveling off somewhat, the study adds — because each year still represents a net addition to the atmosphere, and carbon dioxide is a very long-lived greenhouse gas.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Wobbly Jet Stream Is Sending the Melting Arctic into 'Uncharted Territory'

The vast northern ice sheet of Greenland melts every summer, pooling lakes of meltwater on its surface, and losing fleets of icebergs from its finger-like glaciers. That's not surprising — it's summer — although in a warming climate, there are reasons to think these melt seasons are getting more intense, pouring more and more freshwater into the ocean. But when a group of scientists looked back at the last summer melt season — 2015 — they found something odd and troubling.

Greenland had shown much more unusual melting in its colder northern stretches than in the warmer south, and that this had occurred because of very strange behavior in the atmosphere above it. During the month of July, an atmospheric phenomenon called a "cutoff high" — a region of high pressure that stayed relatively immobile over the ice sheet, bringing with it sustained sunny conditions — lingered for many days and produced unusual warmth.
Increasing loss of Arctic sea ice is leading to more blocking patterns, which are contributing to the increasing surface melt on Greenland. Accounting for these shifts is crucial to being able to model how much sea level will rise and how fast Greenland's melting is contributing to rising seas.

Changes in the jet stream can explain intense warming in Alaska, the "polar vortex" weather that has frozen parts of the United States, as well as stronger storms in some regions and variations in tropical monsoons. Overall in the summer of 2015, the melt season was about 30 to 40 days longer than average in the western, northwestern and northeastern regions of Greenland. For the first time since 2012, the melt area exceeded more than half the ice sheet.

An extreme melting event in Greenland's ice sheets have scientists worried.

Melt water pours through a channel in Greenland’s ice.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Record high ocean temperatures
Human-forced warming of the globe is expected to increase average surface ocean and land temperatures. It is also expected to generate higher peak readings over larger and larger regions. Such was the case during May of 2016 as a massive expanse of the world's oceans saw temperatures rocket to above 30 degrees Celsius (or 86 degrees Fahrenheit).

32.7 million square kilometers of the world ocean saw temperatures in excess of 30 degrees Celsius during May of 2016.
High temperatures set off a range of harmful ocean conditions — including coral bleaching, lower levels of seawater oxygen, and increased rates of algae growth ... as it dumps copious volumes of high latent heat water vapor into the Earth’s atmosphere.

The new record smashed 2015’s May 30C + extent of about 28.5 million square kilometers — by over 4 million square kilometers. The new 32.7 million square kilometer record extent is about equal in area to the size of Africa and Greenland combined. May’s record 30C extent has almost certainly contributed to extreme rainfall events around the globe during late May and extending into early June.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Lake Mead hits a record low

In late May 2016, Lake Mead – which helps supply water for 25 million people in Nevada, Arizona, and California — declined to its lowest level since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s. California recently eased its sweeping restrictions on water use, signaling that even though much of the state continues to face extraordinary drought, a moderately wet winter has blunted officials’ sense of urgency over water shortages. Overlooked is the state’s enormous reliance on the Colorado River for its water supplies – it is approaching its worst point of crisis in a generation.

The Colorado River provides much of the drinking water for some 19 million of California’s 39 million residents. In San Diego County, water from the river comprises 64 percent of total supplies. On May 18 – the same day the control board lifted its restrictions – Lake Mead reached its lowest point since 1937.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages Lake Mead and distributes Colorado River waters, predicts the reservoir – now 37 percent full – will reach a new low in 2017, part of a steady decline that began more than a decade ago as water users continued to draw far more out of the Colorado River each year than it provides. California is the single largest draw on this resource – using nearly one-third of the entire Colorado River’s flow.

More than 43 percent of California remains in “extreme drought.” California pumped deeply into its groundwater reserves over the past half-decade, depleting supplies. Replenishment will take many wet years – if not centuries. The Colorado Basin has endured roughly 16 years of drought while population continue to grow in the sun-drenched region.

May 2016 Global Temperature: Second Warmest May Ever

May 2016 was the second warmest May in the satellite temperature record, trailing only May 1998 by 0.11 C, according to data analysed by the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). Map shows average temperature anomalies for the lower troposphere in May 2016.

The mean global temperature anomaly – or variance to the long term average – for the lower troposphere during May 2016 was +0.55oC, sharply down on the +0.72oC reported in April 2016, and the +0.73oC in March. Compared to seasonal norms, May 2016 was the eighth warmest month overall since the satellite temperature dataset began in December 1978. The decline from April indicates that El Niño has passed its peak.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Climate change could severely affect the Canadian Prairies

A recent University of Winnipeg study says the Prairies could be the most-affected area in the world over the next few decades. Jeopardizing the Canadian breadbasket makes climate change the most serious threat to food security in Canada and much of the rest of the world.

The report suggests summers in the Prairies will become hotter and longer. Winnipeg could experience 46 days a year of temperatures above 30C. Currently, Winnipeg experiences 11 days of 30-degree weather on average a year.

Palliser's Triangle, delineating prairie soil types in the Prairie provinces
For Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, and Saskatoon, the number of days of 30-degree weather could be up to seven times current averages. Statistics paint a disturbing picture: more heat and less moisture will compromise our agri-food economy. Food will become less affordable, and the ability for some regions to grow food will greatly diminish.

Canada is ranked seventh in the world in cereal production and ninth in meat production; first in canola, second in oats, third in pulses and fourth in barley. Overall, as an agricultural exporting country, Canada ranks sixth.

The Prairies are home to nearly half of Canada’s farms and a much larger share of its cropland and grassland.
Experts predict crop yields could easily drop by more than 50 per cent in the Prairies as a result of climate change.

This means Canadian contribution to global food systems could be seriously endangered.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Australia’s censorship of Unesco climate report ... a Shakespearean tragedy

Bleached coral at Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef
From Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” That lady is the Australian government, which some time in early January saw a draft of a report from the United Nations tentatively entitled “Destinations at Risk: World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate”.

It outlined how many world heritage sites around the world were being compromised by the impacts of climate change. One of the sites highlighted in the draft report was the Great Barrier Reef. The Australian government doth protested, and Unesco obliged. All mention of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef, the Northern Territory’s Kakadu national park and Tasmania’s forests were then removed from the report. All this as the reef’s worst recorded case of mass coral bleaching makes headlines around the world.
Australia's Department of the Environment made two arguments to justify the request for censorship. First the government argued the title of the report “had the potential to cause considerable confusion”. The report was finally published as "World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate". The only confusing aspect is how a report about world heritage sites and climate change now omits one of the world’s most iconic natural wonders that has become a very faded poster child for the impacts of global warming worldwide.

Australia’s second argument was that having the reef featured in the Unesco report was “negative commentary” that “impacted on tourism”. The vast majority of people around the world don’t choose their holiday destinations by consulting Unesco reports.
Mass bleaching has destroyed as much as 35 per cent of the coral on the northern and central Great Barrier Reef, Australian scientists said on Monday. That's a major blow to the World Heritage Site that attracts about $5 billion in tourism each year.

Australian scientists said in March just seven percent of the entire Great Barrier Reef had avoided any damage as a result of bleaching, and they held grave fears particularly for coral on the northern reef. After further aerial surveys and dives to access the damage across 84 reefs in the region, Australian scientists said the impact of the bleaching is far more severe than they had feared.

Australia is one of the largest carbon emitters per capita because of its reliance on coal-fired power plants for electricity.