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Showing posts from May, 2015

Arctic Methane Skyrocketing

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The map below shows observatories in the Arctic. 'Arctic methane skyrocketing' is the title of a video by Paul Beckwith discussing recent rises in methane levels in the Arctic. Paul's description: "I discuss how ground level flask measurements of methane have been spiking upwards over the last few years. I analyze the implications to the breakdown of climate stability, causing jet stream fracturing and weather regime change. I believe that this behaviour will rapidly worsen as Arctic temperature amplification continues, leading our planet to a much warmer and unrecognizable climate over the next 5 to 10 years." Below are some NOAA images showing methane levels (surface flasks) recorded at Arctic observatories. Below is an image showing hourly average in situ measurements at Barrow, Alaska, including one very high reading, from an earlier post . The image below shows sea surface temperature anomalies in the Arctic on May 30, 2015. The situation is dire and calls

Arctic Sea Ice in Uncharted Territory

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On May 27, 2015, Arctic sea ice extent was merely 11.973 million square kilometers, a record low for the time of the year since satellite started measurements in 1979. This fall in sea ice extent follows heat waves in Alaska and the north of Canada, as illustrated by the image below. Temperature in Alaska on the afternoon of May 23, 2015, when a temperature  of 91°F (32.78°C)  was r ecorded in Eagle .  High temperatures extended over the Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea. The image below shows the difference in sea surface temperatures between May 13, 2015, and May 23, 2015. The large amounts of meltwater flowing into Beaufort Sea and the Chukchi Sea is illustrated by the image below, showing the difference in sea surface salinity between May 17, 2015, and May 24, 2015. Sea ice has retreated dramatically in the Chukchi Sea and the Beaufort Sea, and in Baffin Bay, with high sea surface temperature showing up where rivers flow into the Arctic Ocean and where the Gulf Stream carries warm water

Sleeping Giant in the Arctic

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Huge amounts of carbon are contained in sediments, soils and vegetation in the Arctic. Rising temperatures in the Arctic threaten to cause much of this carbon to be released to the atmosphere. On May 23, 2015, temperatures in Alaska were as high as 91°F (32.78°C), as illustrated by the image below. [ image credit: US National Weather Service Alaska ] High temperatures were reached at the city of Eagle , located on the southern bank of the Yukon River, at an elevation of 853 ft (260 m). High temperatures at such a location will cause meltwater, aggravating the situation well beyond the local area. A bank of permafrost thaws near the Kolyma River in Siberia. Credit: University of Georgia Carbon contained in soils will thus become increasingly exposed under the combined impact of rising temperatures and the associated growing amounts of meltwater. The meltwater can additionally cause erosion further downstream, thus making carbon at many locations become more prone to be consumed by micr

Arctic Sea Ice At Historic Low

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On May 20, 2015, Arctic sea ice extent was only 12.425 million square km, a record low for the time of the year since satellite measurements began in 1979. As the Arctic Sea Ice is at a historic low, Alaska faces temperatures as high as 31°C (87.8°F), as illustrated by the image below. How is it possible for temperatures to get so high at locations so close to the North Pole? Typhoon Dolphin Dr. Michael Ventrice, Operational Scientist at The Weather Channel Professional Division points at two typhoons, Noul and Dolphin, that recently hit the western Pacific Ocean. These typhoons do have some impact. Importantly, global warming is increasing the strength of cyclones. In other words, a greater impact of cyclones on the jet stream can be expected as a feedback of global warming. Furthermore, global warming is directly changing the path followed by the North Polar Jet Stream, from a relatively straight path at a latitude of 60°N to a wildly meandering path that at some places merges with

Mackenzie River Warming

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On May 12, 2015, a temperature of 80.1°F (or 26.7°C) was recorded in the north of Canada, at a location just north of latitude 63°N. High temperatures in such locations are very worrying, for a number of reasons, including: They are examples of heatwaves that can increasingly extend far to the north, all the way into the Arctic Ocean, speeding up warming of the Arctic Ocean seabed and threatening to unleash huge methane eruptions.   They set the scene for wildfires that emit not only greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, but also pollutants such as carbon monoxide (that depletes hydroxyl that could otherwise break down methane) and black carbon (that when settling on ice causes it to absorb more sunlight).  They cause warming of the water of rivers that end up in the Arctic Ocean, thus resulting in additional sea ice decline and warming of the Arctic Ocean seabed.  The image below shows increased sea surface temperature anomalies in the area of the Beaufort Sea where the

Monthly CO2 Levels Above 400ppm

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For the first time since modern records began, monthly mean carbon dioxide levels were above 400 parts per million (ppm), as illustrated by the NOAA image below. NOAA just released the mean global carbon dioxide level for March 2015, which was 400.83 ppm. Arctic Ocean hit hard Carbon dioxide concentrations can be especially high, i.e. well over 410 ppm, at higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, as illustrated by the NOAA image below. This can contribute to very high temperature anomalies over the Arctic Ocean and thus increase the risk of huge amounts of methane erupting from the Arctic Ocean seafloor.  Image contributed by Harold Hensel Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide levels have risen non-linearly, as illustrated by the image below. Need for Comprehensive and Effective Action As many posts at this blog have warned, emissions by people and the numerous feedbacks are threatening to push Earth into runaway global warming. This calls for comprehensiv