Saturday, July 25, 2015

Arctic Ocean Temperatures Keep Rising

People's emissions are causing the planet to heat up and more than 93% of this heat goes into the oceans.

People have measured ocean temperatures for a long time. Reliable records go back to at least 1880. Ever since records began, the oceans were colder than they are now. NOAA analysis shows that, on the Northern Hemisphere, the 20th century average for June is 16.4°C (61.5°F). In June 2015, it was a record 0.87°C (1.57°F) higher.

Back in history, there have been times when it was warmer. The last time when it was warmer than today, during the Eemian Period, peak temperature was only a few tenths of a degree higher than today, according to the IPCC. In those days, there was huge melting, accompanied by extreme storms and sea levels that were 5 to 9 m higher than today.


In many ways, the situation now already looks worse than it was in the Eemian. "The warm Atlantic surface current was weaker in the high latitude during the Eemian than today", says Henning Bauch. Furthermore, as illustrated by above image, contained in ocean temperature data from 1880 for the Northern Hemisphere is a polynomial trendline that points at a rise of almost 2°C by 2030. This indicates that temperatures across the Arctic Ocean could soon be even higher than the peak temperature was back in the Eemian Period. Indeed, the Arctic Ocean temperature is rising at a terrifying pace, the more so given that there seems to be no end in sight soon for this rise. 


This rise of almost 2°C by 2030 is not limited to the month of June. As the image below shows, it applies to the 12-months period from July 2014 to June 2015 as well.

In some places, the Arctic Ocean is already very warm. Sea surface temperatures around North America have increased to very high levels and they are threatening to further raise the temperature of the Arctic Ocean.

The Arctic sea ice is on the verge of collapse, as discussed in earlier posts such as this one and this one. This dramatic decline of the sea ice in 2015 is the result of a combination of factors, including:

  1. High levels of greenhouse gases over the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the screenshot below showing high carbon dioxide concentrations over the Arctic (from NASA video).



    Furthermore, methane levels are very high over the Arctic. An earlier image shows methane levels on July 17, 2015 (pm), as high as 2512 parts per billion and high methane levels north of Greenland, which also showed on an earlier image at this post.

  2. High levels of ocean heat in the North Atlantic, as illustrated by the image below showing high sea surface temperatures off the east coast of North America; much of this ocean heat will be carried by the Gulf Stream into the Arctic Ocean over the next few months.


  3. High sea surface temperatures in the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the image below.

  4. High air temperatures over North America and Russia extending over the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the image below showing a location well inside the Arctic Circle where temperatures as high as 37.1°C (98.78°F) were recorded on July 2, 2015. (green circle).


  5. Wildfires triggered by these heatwaves resulting in darkening compounds settling on snow and ice, making it more prone to melting, as illustrated by the image below showing smoke reaching high up into the Beaufort Sea on July 22, 2015.


  6. Very warm river water running into the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the image below, showing sea surface temperatures as high as 19°C (66.2°F) off the coast of Alaska on July 19, 2015. 

The danger is that collapse of the sea ice will further accelerate warming in the Arctic, as sunlight that was previously reflected back into space and heat that previously went into melting then will all be absorbed by the Arctic. Furthermore, more open waters will increase the possibility of storms that can mix surface heat down to the bottom of the seafloor, and destabilize sediments that contain large amounts of methane in hydrates and free gas.

Such feedbacks are further discussed at the feedbacks page, including the danger that further warming of the Arctic Ocean will unleash huge methane eruptions from the Arctic Ocean seafloor, in turn driving temperatures up even higher and causing more intense wildfires, heatwaves and further extreme weather events.

The image below shows a non-linear trend that is contained in the temperature data that NASA has gathered over the years, as described in an earlier post. A polynomial trendline points at global temperature anomalies of over 4°C by 2060. Even worse, a polynomial trend for the Arctic shows temperature anomalies of over 4°C by 2020, 6°C by 2030 and 15°C by 2050, threatening to cause major feedbacks to kick in, including albedo changes and methane releases that will trigger runaway global warming that looks set to eventually catch up with accelerated warming in the Arctic and result in global temperature anomalies of 16°C by 2052.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as discussed at the Climate Plan.


People's emissions are causing the planet to heat up and more than 93% of this heat goes into the oceans. People have...

Posted by Sam Carana on Saturday, July 25, 2015

Friday, July 24, 2015

Thick Sea Ice Dislodged

As the comparison image below shows, the last bit of thick sea ice has become dislodged from its location in the Canadian Archipelago and is forecast to be floating along with the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. The left panel shows the situation on July 19, 2015, while the right panel shows a forecast for July 31, 2015, run on July 23, 2015.


One reason for this development is of course the heavy melting that has taken place in this area. But what has made this thick sea ice move so strongly? The reason for that is that the wind has been persistently pushing this thick ice in this direction, for about one month now, as illustrated by the Naval Research Laboratory animation below.


The Naval Research Laboratory animation below shows sea ice thickness over a 30-day timespan, including a forecast up to 31 July, 2015, run July 23, 2015.


The screenshot below from arctic-io shows the sea ice on July 23, 2015, with an inset showing a rotated outcut from a Naval Research Laboratory ice thickness map for that date.
[ click on image to enlarge ]
The animation below shows a 5-day forecast of ice speed and drift up to July 27, 2015, starting from and run on July 23, 2015.


Furthermore, there has been a lot of smoke from wildfires in North America for some time. The image below shows smoke reaching far into the Beaufort Sea on July 22, 2015.



When smoke settles on snow and ice, it decreases albedo and makes it more prone to melting.

Seismic activity could also have contributed to this development. As the snow and ice cover on land disappears, isostatic rebound occurs, i.e. the land moves upward. Furthermore, an earthquake with a magnitude of 3.6 on the Richter scale was registered in Baffin Bay on July 22, 2015.


Above animation shows the last bit of thick sea ice becoming dislodged from its location in the Canadian Archipelago, from July 21, 2015, through to July 24, 2015.


Albert Kallio comments: "The more ice moves, the more heat it can pick up from the ocean - and melt. Also, the overturning of sea water in the ocean increases in the increasingly open sea areas - bringing heat up to the surface - and into contact with ice that then melts faster."

[ hat tip to Patrick McNulty for contributions to this post ] 



The last bit of thick sea ice has become dislodged from its location in the Canadian Archipelago and is forecast to be...
Posted by Sam Carana on Friday, July 24, 2015

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ocean Temperatures At Record High

Of all the excess heat that results from people's emissions, 93.4% goes into oceans. Accordingly, ocean heat has strongly increased over the years.

NOAA analysis shows that, for the oceans on the Northern Hemisphere, the June 2015 sea surface temperature was at a record high 0.87°C (1.57°F) above the 20th century average of 16.4°C (61.5°F), as also illustrated by the graph below.


The most recent 12-month period, July 2014–June 2015, also broke the record (set just last month) for the all-time warmest 12-month period in the 135-year period of record. 


As the above image shows, sea surface temperature anomalies around North America are very high, threatening to further raise temperatures of the Arctic Ocean, which already has very high sea surface temperatures, as also illustrated by the image below. 


As the image below shows, sea surface temperatures as high as 19°C (66.2°F) were recorded in the Bering Strait on July 19, 2015.



The snow depth comparison below shows the situation on July 20, 2015, on the left and a forecast for July 27, 2015, on the right. The green lines indicate areas where sea ice is at melting point. Note the decline of snow cover on Greenland and the Himalayas.


As the continued snow decline on Greenland also illustrates, high temperatures can be expected to keep causing further decline of the snow and ice cover for many weeks to come, given that the minimum sea ice extent is typically reached about half September.

As the image below shows, sea surface temperatures as high as 10.1°C (50.1°F) were recorded in Baffin Bay, off the west coast of Greenland, on July 20, 2015.


The danger is that these high temperatures will cause the Arctic sea ice to collapse and unleash huge methane eruptions from the Arctic Ocean's seafloor, in turn driving temperatures up even higher and causing more extreme weather events, wildfires, etc. 

The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as discussed at the Climate Plan



For the oceans on the Northern Hemisphere, the June 2015 sea surface temperature was at a record high 0.87°C (1.57°F)...
Posted by Sam Carana on Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Arctic Sea Ice Collapse Threatens - Update 1

The image below compares the Arctic sea ice thickness (in m) on July 15, for the years from 2012 (left panel) to 2015 (right panel), using Naval Research Laboratory images.

Click on image to enlarge
The image below compares the Arctic sea ice concentration (in %) on July 18, for the years from 2012 (left panel) to 2015 (right panel), using Naval Research Laboratory images.


Above images show the dramatic decline of the sea ice in 2015, both in thickness and in concentration.

In terms of thickness, sea ice has been reduced by more than one meter in many places, such as north of Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago, all in the time span of just one month.

The dramatic fall in sea ice concentration also becomes apparent when comparing recent sea ice concentration (July 18, 2015, above right) with sea ice concentration back in May 2015 (image right, May 1, 2015).

This dramatic decline of the sea ice in 2015 is the result of a combination of factors, including:

  1. High levels of greenhouse gases over the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the image below, showing that on July 17, 2015 (pm), levels as high as 2512 parts per billion were recorded at 6,041 m (19,820 ft) altitude, while mean methane levels were 1830 parts per billion at this altitude.
  2. High levels of ocean heat, as illustrated by the image below showing high sea surface temperatures off the east coast of North America; much of this ocean heat will be carried by the Gulf Stream into the Arctic Ocean over the next few months.
  3. High air temperatures over North America and Siberia extending over the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the image below showing a temperature of 23.1°C (73.7°F), recorded on July 19, 2015, at Banks Island, in the Canadian Archipelago (green circle).
  4. Wildfires triggered by these heatwaves resulting in darkening compounds settling on snow and ice, as illustrated by the image below showing smoke covering a wide area on July 19, 2015, from the east Siberia over North America to the southern tip of Greenland.
  5. Very warm river water running into the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the image below, showing sea surface temperatures as high as 19°C (66.2°F) off the coast of Alaska on July 12-15, 2015.
The image below shows the already very high sea surface temperature anomalies as at July 18, 2015.

The Climate Reanalyzer image below shows the high sea surface temperature anomalies in the Pacific Ocean, and where water enter the Arctic Ocean through the Bering Strait, on July 19, 2015.



With still two months of melting to go before the sea ice can be expected to reach its minimum for 2015, the threat of sea ice collapse is ominous. The Arctic-News Blog has been warning for years about the growing chance of a collapse of the sea ice, in which case huge amounts of sunlight that previously were reflected back into space, as well as heat that previously went into melting the ice, will then instead have to be absorbed by the water, resulting in a dramatic rise of sea surface temperatures.

More open water will then come with an increased chance of storms that can cause high sea surface temperatures to be mixed down all the way to seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, which in many cases is less than 50 m (164 ft) deep. This is the case for the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, where experts estimate that huge amounts of methane are contained in subsea sediments. Already now, sea surface temperatures as high as 10°C (~50°F) are recorded there, as illustrated by the image below.


Massive amounts of ocean heat will be carried by the Gulf Stream into the Arctic Ocean over the next few months. The combined result of high sea surface temperatures being mixed down to the seafloor and the ocean heat entering the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans can be expected to result in dramatic methane eruptions from the Arctic Ocean seafloor by October 2015.

The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as discussed at the Climate Plan.



Arctic sea ice thickness on July 15, compared over the years 2012 through to 2015. Already virtually all the thick sea...

Posted by Sam Carana on Thursday, July 16, 2015

Friday, July 10, 2015

Arctic Sea Ice Collapse Threatens

The image below compares the Arctic sea ice thickness on July 14, 2012 (left panel) and on July 14, 2015 (right panel), using Naval Research Laboratory images.


The Naval Research Laboratory's 30-day animation below shows how this situation developed, ending with a forecast for July 17, 2015, run on July 9, 2015.


The dramatic decline of the sea ice, especially north of North America, is the result of a combination of factors, including:

  • very high levels of greenhouse gases over the Arctic Ocean
  • very high levels of ocean heat 
  • heatwaves over North America and Siberia extending high air temperatures over the Arctic Ocean
  • wildfires triggered by these heatwaves resulting in darkening compounds settling on snow and ice
  • very warm river water running into the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the image below.  


With still two months of melting to go before the sea ice can be expected to reach its minimum for 2015, the threat of sea ice collapse is ominous. The Arctic-News Blog has been warning for years about the growing chance of a collapse of the sea ice, in which case huge amounts of sunlight that previously were reflected back into space, as well as heat that previously went into melting the ice, will then instead have to be absorbed by the water, resulting in a dramatic rise of sea surface temperatures.

The image below shows the already very high sea surface temperature anomalies as at July 10, 2015.


More open water will then come with an increased chance of storms that can cause high sea surface temperatures to be mixed down all the way to seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, which in many cases is less than 50 m (164 ft) deep.

Meanwhile, ocean heat is accumulating off the coast of North America, as illustrated by the image below showing sea surface temperature as high as 31.8°C (89.24°F) on July 8-9, 2015.


Massive amounts of ocean heat will be carried by the Gulf Stream into the Arctic Ocean over the next few months. The combined result of high sea surface temperatures being mixed down to the seafloor and the ocean heat entering the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans can be expected to result in dramatic methane eruptions from the Arctic Ocean seafloor by October 2015.

Currently, methane levels are high, especially north of Greenland, as illustrated by the image below showing that on July 10, 2015 (am), levels as high as 2416 parts per billion were recorded at 6,041 m (19,820 ft) altitude, while mean methane levels also reached 1831 parts per billion at this altitude.


The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as discussed at the Climate Plan.





ARCTIC SEA ICE COLLAPSE THREATENSThis image compares the Arctic sea ice thickness on July 14, 2012 (left panel) and on...
Posted by Sam Carana on Friday, July 10, 2015

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Fracturing of the Jet Stream

Earlier this month, the jet stream was forecast to move over the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia on July 8, 2015, 12:00 UTC, in one, strong, long stream of wind, as discussed in the previous post and depicted below.


The situation has meanwhile been adjusted in a more recent forecast. This recent forecast shows the jet stream getting fractured over Siberia on July 8, 2015, 12:00 UTC, resulting in a sequence of vertical wind streams. This is a new development, rather unknown to the forecasting model that works on the basis of the jet stream flowing horizontally in one strong and narrow stream around the globe.


A further forecast has been added in the bottom panel, i.e. for July 12, 2015, 12:00 UTC, showing the jet stream moving well over the Arctic Ocean in two places, over the East Siberian Sea and over the Canadian Archipelago.

Fracturing of the jet stream and alignment along longitude, rather than latitude, is a worrying development. It is the most extreme form of what is described at Feedbacks in the Arctic as the "Open Doors" feedback or feedback #10, a feedback that makes it easier for warm air to move into the Arctic and for cold air move out of the Arctic, each of which will further contribute to a smaller temperature difference between the Equator and the North Pole, thus further changing the jet stream, in a self-reinforcing spiral.

The jet stream used to act as a barrier, keeping cold air in the Arctic and keeping temperate air in the temperate zone. As the jet stream fractures, more extreme weather - including more intense heatwaves - can be expected.

The result is further acceleration of warming in the Arctic, due to direct sunlight, due to warm wind carried north as the jet stream changes, due to warm water from rivers flowing into the Arctic Ocean, due to soot from wildfires settling on the snow and ice, causing their further demise, etc.

The image below illustrates the impact of warm river water. Off the coast of Anadyr, in East Siberia, waters reached a temperature of 15.4°C (59.7°F) on July 5, 2015, a 9.2°C (16.6°F) anomaly.


The image below also shows the impact of warm water from rivers in Alaska. Major melting took place on St Lawrence Island, as evident by the low sea surface temperatures around the Island on July 2, 2015 (left panel), while by July 6, 2015, much of this colder water had mixed with the warmer water moving up the Bering Strait from the Pacific Ocean and with the warm river water from Siberia and Alaska.



The Naval Research Laboratory's 30-day animation below illustrates the dramatic fall in sea ice thickness.


The image below shows sea surface temperatures in the Arctic as at July 7, 2015.


With ocean heat at very high levels, the danger is that, as temperatures keep rising, further methane hydrates will get destabilized and further amounts of methane will be released in the Arctic. High methane levels have already been showing up for years over the Arctic Ocean, indicating that methane releases from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean are already taking place.


Above image shows that, on July 6, 2015, high methane levels show up north of Greenland (yellow oval). This could be a result of the heavy melting that is taking place on Greenland, exposing methane hydrates contained in the ice there. Hydrate destabilization on Greenland is discussed as feedback#21 at Feedbacks in the Arctic. Loss of ice mass on Greenland has fallen dramatically over the years and looks set to get even worse, as illustrated by the image below.

Dramatic ice mass loss on Greenland looks set to get even worse. See also discussion at the Controversy page.
Over the next few months, waters in the Arctic Ocean can be expected to further warm up and sea ice to further decline, all making that the situation can only be expected to worsen.
The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as discussed at the Climate Plan.



Sea surface temperatures in the Arctic as at July 7, 2015. http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2015/07/fracturing-of-the-jet-stream.html
Posted by Sam Carana on Wednesday, July 8, 2015