We are now witnessing the fastest growth rates of the entire record of CO2 measurements. This record-breaking growth is an expected consequence of the near record-breaking fossil fuel usage combined with the largest El Niño event in several decades.|
The very recent bump up in CO2 levels recorded at Mauna Loa Observatory is not entirely unexpected because there is often significant uptick in CO2 near the beginning of April before concentrations peak in May. This bump presumably reflects the fact that soils start to warm well before vegetation greens up in spring. The soil warming allows CO2 to be emitted as organic matter such as compost decomposes. In a matter of weeks this soil emission will be offset by photosynthetic uptake, as the vegetation starts to turn on.
|The bump is also getting a boost from the El Niño phenomenon, which is causing additional anomalous emissions from tropical forests through drought and fires. Still, the levels last week were a bit higher, maybe by a part per million or two, than I would have projected even taking El Niño into account. I’m frankly not sure what is causing this, but I would not expect it reflects anything other than an unusual blob of air that temporarily settled over the central Pacific. It is clear that other sites around the world where CO2 is measured are showing the El Niño boost, but I haven’t consulted the most recent data to see if they show anything special over the last few weeks. The bump last week was seen on both the NOAA and Scripps analyzers at Mauna Loa.|
|Co2 Levels exceeded 409 parts per million for the first time in recorded history this month.|
|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.
|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.|
|Arctic sea ice hit its lowest annual maximum on record as of March 24, after the hottest winter ever seen in the Arctic. The sea ice maximum was even lower than the record level seen last year, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado. |
According to the NSIDC, the sea ice extent on March 24 was 5.607 million square miles, or 14.52 million square kilometers. This was 431,000 square miles, or 1.12 million square kilometers below the 1981-2010 average. This is about the size of the states of Texas, Arizona and Kansas combined.
|Temperature anomalies this winter were off the charts. Temperatures in the lower atmosphere from December through February were above average everywhere in the Arctic.|
|Some areas saw temperatures during the period average about 6 degrees Celsius, or 11 degrees Fahrenheit, above average.|
Since the start of the satellite era in 1979, there has been a loss of 620,000 square miles of wintertime sea ice cover, which is about twice the size of Texas.
|On March 17 a roughly 2,000-square-mile block of ice broke off in the Arctic Ocean.|
The chunk, which sits in the Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia, took two days to separate from the surrounding ice. The Earth is now emerging from its warmest winter on record. The Northern Hemisphere past an alarming 2-degree-Celsius average temperature for the first time. At this rate, most of the Arctic ice may be gone over the summer. This would be the first time this has happened in human history.
| The human fossil fuel emission is unprecedented on geological timescales. The best science can’t find any time in all of Earth’s geological history that produced a rate of atmospheric carbon accumulation equal to the one that’s happening now.|
A new study recently published in Nature sheds more light on this. Scientists had to look far back in time. All the way back when the last of the Dinosaurs were dying off about 55-66 million years ago. The most recent Hothouse Mass Extinction Event in the geological record is called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum or PETM. It’s an extreme period of rapid warming that occurred at the boundary between these two periods of Earth's history about 55.8 million years ago.
|The PETM was bad. It set off a mass extinction in the oceans which wiped out half of all shellfish through the varied impacts of anoxia, acidification and coral bleaching. Its heat forcing was enough to reverse ocean circulation and set up a stratified ocean. |
Peatlands and forests went up in flames. Extreme surface temperatures forced a mass poleward migration. Scientists found that the large carbon emission occurred over the course of about 4,000 years. This spike in atmospheric carbon coincided with a 5 degree Celsius spike in global temperatures in a 4,000 to 12,000 year time period. This implies a rate of warming of at most around 0.12 degrees Celsius every 100 years.
|Expected human warming of between 1.5 and 5 degrees Celsius this century is therefore at least 15 to more than 200 times faster than during the PETM extinction event. On average, over the PETM extinction event, rates of atmospheric carbon accumulation were found to be in the range of about 1.1 billion tons per year. By comparison, human carbon emissions during 2014 were about ten times this level at around 10 billion tons.|
The rate of emission could jump to as high as 25 billion tons of carbon per year by 2050.
|Rainbow trout live in the coldest part of the river. As river levels drop the water heats and the trout have to go lower and lower looking for their ideal temperature of about 12 degrees Celsius.|
Large trout, the older and wiser, push the young ones out of the cooler spot. There just isn't enough space for them all. The older trout are going to make sure they get to their 11-year lifetime.
|Experts agree there are three things that we must do to fight climate change. The first is to use less fossil fuel. Second, we have to deal with the carbon we have. And we must slow global population growth. That's the tough one.|
The older trout have the same issues that we have. The river is dividing into the haves and have-nots. There's not enough cool water for everybody, and whats left is running out.
|Carrying capacity refers to the maximum abundance of a species that can be sustained within a given habitat. When an ideal population is at equilibrium with the carrying capacity of its environment, the birth and death rates are equal, and size of the population does not change. Populations larger than the carrying capacity are not sustainable, and will degrade their habitat.|
|Humans have benefited greatly through active management of Earth's carrying capacity. An enormously greater number of Earth's species have not fared as well, having been made extinct as a consequence of ecological changes associated with the use and management of the environment by humans. In general, any increase in the carrying capacity of the environment for one species will negatively affect other species.|
Symptoms of environmental deterioration include the extinction crisis, decreased soil fertility, desertification, deforestation, fishery declines, pollution, and increased competition among nations for scarce resources. Many scientists believe that the sustainable limits of Earth's carrying capacity for humanity has already been exceeded.
The Holocene Extinction, sometimes called the Sixth Extinction, is a name used to describe the currently ongoing extinction event of species during the present Holocene epoch (since around 10,000 BCE) mainly due to human activity. The large number of extinctions span numerous families of plants and animals including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and arthropods. Although 875 extinctions occurring between 1500 and 2009 have been documented, the vast majority are undocumented.
World Population Density
|February’s higher than normal temperatures mark the fifth straight month that global average temperatures were more than 1°C above average. |
Parts of the Arctic were 16°C above average, reaching temperatures more often seen in June. In addition, the region likely saw its lowest February sea ice levels since records began being kept.
|Toronto hit a new record March 12, 2016 of 18 C. Normal seasonal temperatures are around 4 C. The story is similar in the interior of British Columbia with the Thompson-Okanagan breaking high temperature records last week. Recent temperatures in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were upwards of 17 C, where the average high temperature for this time of year is usually zero.|
Today in Winnipeg record-smashing temperatures are 12 C, which easily surpasses the old record of 6.7 C set in 1964.
|Temperatures in February 2016 had the largest departure from average of any month in NASA's records since 1880.|
|The February 2016 land and ocean temperature anomaly was 1.35°C (2.43°F) above the average temperature in the period from 1951 to 1980.|
February stands out for its unusual heat more than any other month in the modern climate record.
|Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide last year rose by the biggest margin since records began, according to a US federal science agency.|
Carbon dioxide levels are increasing faster than they have in hundreds of thousands of years. CO2 levels have increased over 40% since 1880.
|The last time the Earth experienced such a sustained CO2 rise was between 11,000 and 17,000 years ago, in which period CO2 jumped by 80ppm. Today’s rate is 200 times faster than that. Scientists have plotted global CO2 levels since 1958 in what is known as the Keeling Curve.|
It was the fourth year in a row that carbon dioxide concentrations grew by more than 2 parts per million, with an annual growth rate of 3.05 parts per million in 2015. The spike comes in the same year that Earth reached an ominous global warming milestone -- scientists last year measured the highest atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide ever recorded.
|Federal meteorologists say the winter that has just ended was the hottest in U.S. records. The average temperature for the Lower 48 from December through February - known as meteorological winter - was 36.8 degrees, 4.6 degrees above normal.|
It breaks the record set in 1999-2000. Every state in the Lower 48 had winters at least 1.7 degrees warmer than normal. Alaska was 10.6 degrees warmer than normal. Records go back to 1895.
February's unusually warm temperatures mark the fifth month that global average temperatures were more than 1°C above average. The overall temperature at our planet's surface was 1.13°C above the 1951-1980 average in January.
|Energy use per person is on track to rise sixfold by 2050 across the world, according to researchers from Queensland and Griffith universities.|
Using a “global energy tracker” which predicts average world temperatures could climb 1.5C above pre-industrial levels by 2020, new modelling using long-term average projections on economic growth, population growth and energy use per person, points to a 2C rise by 2030.
|On the heels of the hottest year ever recorded, and the hottest January, February 2016 temperatures may have been as much as 1.44 C hotter than the 1951 to 1980 NASA baseline.|
Converting to departures from 1880s values, if these preliminary figures prove correct, the figure could be an extreme 1.66 C hotter than 1880s levels for February.
|Record high global temperatures are centered on the Arctic — a region that is very sensitive to warming and one that produces a number of amplifying feedback loops such as accelerating Arctic sea ice and snow melt, albedo loss, and permafrost thaw. |
Global ocean heat accumulation has been on a high ramp since the late 1990s with 50 percent of the total heat accumulation occurring in the 18 years from 1997 though 2015. Since more than 90 percent of the greenhouse gas heat forcing ends up in the world ocean system, this measure is probably the most accurate picture of our rapidly warming world. Such a swift accumulation of heat in the world’s oceans guarantees that the atmosphere will respond.
|Such atmospheric heat has not been experienced on Earth in at least 150,000 years. The speed at which global temperatures are rising is much more rapid than anything seen during any interglacial period for the last 3 million years and is probably even more rapid than the warming seen during extinction events.|
Global mean surface temperature change from 1880 to 2015, relative to the 1951–1980 mean
|It's another two weeks to NOAA and NASA releasing the official numbers on February's global temperatures, but the data is already revealing just how extreme the month was.|
While the global anomalies seen in the animation may not match the official numbers from NOAA and NASA, due to differences in calculations, the overall pattern is consistent enough for comparison.
|According to the latest report from the NSIDC: "February 2016 sea ice extent was the lowest in the satellite record at 14.22 million square kilometers (5.48 million square miles)."|
|Sea levels on Earth are rising several times faster than they have in the past 2,800 years and are accelerating because of man-made global warming. |
Until the 1880s, the fastest seas rose was about three to 1 to 1.5 inches a century. In the 20th century the world's seas rose 5.5 inches. Since 1993 the rate has soared to a foot per century. Two different studies published Monday said by 2100 that the world's oceans will rise between 11 to 52 inches.
|2015 was the hottest year in recorded history and the winter of 2016, for the Arctic, has been the hottest during any period of record keeping and probably the hottest in at least 150,000 years.|
Sea ice is retreating. The permafrost is thawing. The glaciers are melting. And the flow of the Jet Stream appears to be weakening.
|Before 1700, levels of carbon dioxide were about 280 ppm. Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have reached the 400 ppm theshold.|
Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere. It traps 29 times more heat than carbon dioxide. Global methane levels have risen past 1800 parts per billion (ppb), the highest value in at least 800,000 years.
|Frozen methane clathrate deposits found at the bottom of seabeds and in permafrost is a natural source of greenhouse gases. Significant amounts of methane is being released into the atmosphere from methane clathrate deposits found in the Arctic.|
The warming of methane clathrate releases more methane into the atmosphere creating more global warming. This positive feedback feeds additional methane release. This cycle repeats ... a feedback loop.
Siberian Methane blow hole
|Temperatures in January 2016 over the Arctic Ocean were 7.3°C (13.1°F) higher than in 1951-1980, according to NASA. These high temperatures go hand in hand with sea ice extent. Arctic sea ice extent this year is the lowest in the satellite record.|
Extremely low sea ice extent is fueling fears this year's Arctic ice maximum extent was already been reached. A much higher ocean temperature is behind both the low sea ice extent and the high temperature anomalies.
|Earth’s 2015 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).|
|On February 20th 2015, for about 12 hours, the NOAA METOP measure recorded a major atmospheric methane spike in the range of 3,096 parts per billion at 20,000 feet. This was the highest methane reading ever recorded and the first time any measurement has exceeded the 3,000 parts per billion threshold.|
This far exceeds the global atmospheric average of around 1830 parts per billion.
|The mammoth methane gas leak that spewed uncontrollably from a damaged well in California’s Aliso Canyon was finally capped last week. The Aliso Canyon leak thrust an estimated 96,000 metric tons of potent methane, and other noxious substances, into the atmosphere at a rate of 58,000 kilograms of methane per hour. |
In Texas, researchers estimate around 60,000 kilograms are spewed every hour by over 25,000 natural gas wells in operation on the Barnett Shale. This amounts to around 544,000 tons of methane every year. Texas is dealing with a comparable disaster that has been overlooked by officials and the media because the state’s methane emanates from a powerful industry.
|Global average abundances of the major, well-mixed, long-lived greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, CFC-12 and CFC-11 - from the NOAA|
|A vast expanse of permafrost has started to thaw for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago. It is caused by the recent 3+°C rise in local temperature over the past 40 years - more than four times the global average. Peat bogs cover an area of a million square miles (or almost a quarter of the earth's land surface) to a depth of 25 meters.|