Global Climate Change Now

25/07/2023 (for the last version see 8/07/2023)

What’s this article about, and why is the date important?

As I write this, the average climate for our WHOLE PLANET is changing so freaking fast we can see visibly measurable changes in the averages from one day to the next!

The sudden speed up of changes in several climate indicators at the same time suggests that we may be crossing a critical tipping point in the complex interactions of important temperature related feedbacks controlling the behavior of Earth’s Climate System, as shown in the Featured Image. The speed-up is highlighted by the fact that the average air temperature 2 meters above the surface of our planet is at an all time record (and especially in the satellite era beginning in 1979). These changes will affect the whole 8,000,000,000+ humans and alive today along with all other life on the planet. The charts and maps presented here graphically illustrate measurements of important climate variables up to the last 1 to 4 days.

Fig. 1. ClimateReanalyzer’s Time Series plotting of Earth’s global average temperature at 2 meters above the surface from the NCEP Climate Forecast System (CFS) version 2 (April 2011 – present) and CFS Reanalysis (January 1979 – March 2011). CFS/CFSR is a numerical climate/weather modeling framework that ingests surface, radiosonde, and satellite observations to estimate the state of the atmosphere at hourly time resolution onward from 1 January 1979. The horizontal gridcell resolution is 0.5°x0.5° (~ 55km at 45°N). The time series chart displays area-weighted means for the selected domain. For example, if World is selected, then each daily temperature value on the chart represents the average of all gridcells 90°S–90°N, 0–360°E and accounts for the convergence of longitudes at the poles.

Again, every day since July 3 has been hotter than any maximum temperature recorded for any prior year back to 1979 when these records were compiled.

@EliotJacobson on Twitter shows this data a bit more legibly. The first record high was on 3 July, and daily average temperatures have remained in annual record high regions for a total of 12 ! continuous days through 14 July. The record is now 21 days!

Fig. 2. Progression of global temperatures higher than all time record temperatures back to 1979. ref. Eliot Jacobson.

The time gap between the instants of measurement depicted in the plots and charts and when they were printed are due to time delays between:

  • automatically recording millions of readings from hundreds of thousands of networked physical sensors and more millions of readings from remote sensors on a plethora of artificial satellites whizzing around our revolving planet several times a day (“Intensity of observation”, below, illustrates just how comprehensive the sensor network is);
  • accumulating and assembling the recorded data over the world-wide communications network;
  • proofing, processing and tabulating the received data on the world’s largest supercomputers; reanalyzing and plotting the observations in the form of charts and graphs comprehensible to humans;
  • publishing and publishing these outputs onto the public web, where they are accessible to anyone with a computer and the knowledge to find and understand the representations.

Based on the most recent measurements, the ongoing climate changes are accelerating in directions and speeds that will inevitably be lethal to the human and many other species within another century, more or less, if the changes are not stopped and reversed. These changes are a direct consequence of an unplanned experiment that humans began around 1½ centuries ago to burn geologically significant quantities of fossil carbon (e.g., coal, oil, ‘natural’ gas) into usable energy and greenhouse gases trapping an ever growing proportion of the total solar energy striking Planet Earth.

However, some of the combustion energy released by burning fossil carbon has also fueled an exponential growth of knowledge and technology able to produce the I am showing here. These plots provide the evidence our experiment is changing our global climate system to a state that will have existentially catastrophic consequences for Earth’s complex forms of life. This Hellish state is known as “Hothouse Earth“.

This fact that we now have the tools to actually see the evidence of our likely doom gives me some hope that our still exponentially improving technology may also provide us with the ability to stop further damage caused by our rogue experiment and repair enough of the damage already caused, to allow our species to continue evolving into the foreseeable future.

This raises the unavoidable and fraught question: Do we humans have the political will and capability to marshal and mobilize our technologies to engineer solutions that will allow us to avoid the abyss? This is the single most important issue facing the world today. If we don’t solve it, no other issue matters because — before long — no one will be left to worry about it.

Problematically, the world’s governments are dominated by puppets of the fossil fuel industry and related interests. They are doing as much as they can to PREVENT, DELAY, or MINIMIZE any actions that might hamper fossil fuel’s greed and short term interests for the world to burn yet more fuel. Hoping that we humans can solve this single, most important issue, VoteClimateOne is working to revolutionize our governments by replacing or changing parliamentary puppets to prioritize actions to solve the climate crisis first. Also, I am writing articles such as this to demonstrate and explain why this revolution is so urgent and necessary.

To demonstrate just how rapidly we are currently moving down the road to doom in what will be Earth’s Hothouse Hell, this article will be updated at least once a week until there is evidence of a downward trend to safer readings. We are certainly not seeing them yet!

Measuring progress towards existential catastrophe on Hothouse Earth

The world’s polar regions are critical. Ice and snow covering land and ocean reflects around 90% of the solar energy striking it. As temperature rises, more of the frozen water melts, allowing the exposed earth and water to absorb a much greater proportion of the solar energy during 24 hour-long polar polar daylight (open ocean absorbs ~94% of the energy striking it) , causing polar and global temperatures to rise in a potentially accelerating feedback cycle. In the animated graphic below, this process is clearly visible since the mid 1930s. This particular cycle won’t be broken until the ice is essentially all melted. By then there are several other feedbacks that will likely be in full swing.

Fig. 3. Zonal-mean (averaged over longitude) temperature anomalies for each year from 1900 to 2022. The x-axis is latitude (not scaled by distance), and the y-axis is the temperature anomaly. Data is from Berkeley Earth Surface Temperatures (BEST; http://berkeleyearth.org/data/) using a reference period of 1951-1980. (Zachary Labe 2023. Climate Indicators.

Ocean measurements are critical

Because most humans live on continental land masses, immersed in the atmosphere, most climatologists are primarily concerned with what goes on in the atmosphere. However, because water covers some 70% of our planet’s surface and because of water’s physical properties, around 90% of the excess solar energy striking Earth is absorbed in the World Ocean. Heat is then transported around the planet in currents and is available to be released to drive climate. See below for explanations of how the major heat engines driving Earth’s Climate System interact and work.

Fig. 4. Growing heat content held by our warming Ocean Current to Feb. 2023 (NOAA data)

Because these climate ‘engines’ are complex dynamical systems with many interacting components, where the interactions are often non-linear and sometimes even chaotic (in a mathematical sense their behavior is inherently unpredictable to any statistically define degree. Positive feedbacks in such systems can be potentially destructive because they lead to exponentially growing changes that lead to system breakdown (because infinity is impossible in the real world). Mathematical modeling of the interactions of small sets of variables can provide an appreciation of how such breakdowns may occur. Systems engineering as practiced in large defence engineering projects is based around a MilStd known as Failure Modes Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA) to identify such kinds of failure modes in order to engineer system solutions mitigate or totally avoid circumstances where they might arise.

The charts and maps below show how some measures of the behavior of Global Climate System have been behaving over the last few months and days. I consider these to be critical because they are likely to be evolved in the kinds of positive feedbacks that can grow exponentially to cause systems failure or collapse.

A definition

Many of the charts represent values of particular variables averaged over the surface of the whole Earth (or some specified region) at a specified point or interval of time. Most maps use colors to indicate the value of a specified variable at a specified point or averaged over an interval of time. In most such cases these measures are presented in the form of “anomalies”. An anomaly is the difference between the particular measurement and the long-term ‘baseline’ average for that measure on that day or interval of the year. For example, the graph immediately below uses a 30 year average (from 1971-2000) for its baseline average. Anomaly plots are particularly useful to highlight changes taking place over time.

Critical Variables

Global Sea-Surface Temperature

The global sea surface temperature anomaly broke into all-time record for the day of the year around 15 March, and by the end of March it was an all time record high since 1981, 0.1 °C above the previous record set on 6 March 2015. This value is so extreme, that along with other variables noted below it suggests that the average rate of global warming observed over the last few decades may be shifting into a new regime where the rate of ocean-surface warming is skyrocketing. As at 29 June it is still 0.2 °C above the previous record for that date – with an uptick after 4 days of downward trend).

Fig. 5a. Time series visualizations of daily mean Sea Surface Temperature (SST) up to 23 July. Data from NOAA Optimum Interpolation SST (OISST) version 2.1. OISST is a 0.25°x0.25° gridded dataset that provides estimates of temperature based on a blend of satellite, ship, and buoy observations. The datset spans 1 January 1982 to present with a 1 to 2-day lag from the current day. Data are preliminary for about two weeks until a finalized product is posted by NOAA. This status is identified on the maps by “[preliminary]” appearing in the title, and applies to the time series as well. SST anomalies, which are included in the OISST dataset, are based on 1971–2000 climatology. The time series chart displays area-weighted means for the selected domain. For example, if World 60S-60N is selected, then each daily SST value on the chart represents the average of all ocean gridcells between 60°S and 60°N across all longitudes, and accounts for the convergence of longitudes at the poles. Hide or display individual time series by clicking the year below the chart; Hide All and Show All buttons are at the chart lower right. The map can be switched between SST and SST anomaly by clicking the toggle button at the map top-left. A sea ice mask is applied to the SST and anomaly maps for gridcells where ice concentration is >= 50%
Fig. 5b. Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies. Significant positive heat anomalies exist in normal sinking zones for cooled salty water.
Fig. 5c. Sea Surface Temperatures. ClimateReanalyzer’s SST current SST data can be accessed here.

The North Atlantic’s fever is still has a fever is still growing on 13 July. Warmer than usual water flooding up around southern Greenland right up to the edge of the melting sea-ice, with what looks like cold fresh meltwater flowing out of Baffin Bay along the west side.

Note that the ocean surface temperature is 5 °C right up to the edge of the sea ice, with warmer water than that intruding nearly as far as the ice front in Baffin Bay. The cooler (purple shaded) water flowing down close to the Canadian shoreline has been pushed back into Baffin Bay (between Greenland and Canada. There is no sign in either of the SST maps of ‘cool spots’ which are thought to be the sources of the ‘salty cold water’ forming the deep water branches of the thermohaline circulation in the North Atlantic. In fact, the ocean in these areas seems to be 10-15 °C. Northern Hemisphere ice extents are low for the date but not yet near record lows, unlike the South!

Fig. 6a. Record Sea Surface temperature in North Atlantic for
July 23, only 0.1 °C short of the previous all-time record, set more than a month later last year.
Fig 6b. Sea Surface Temperature distribution in North Atlantic for 23 July 2023.

Global Sea Ice

Antarctic Sea ice

Around the same time the global average sea-surface temperature began to skyrocket, the rate of sea-ice formation around Antarctica slowed — as would be expected if the surrounding ocean was becoming progressively warmer than has ever before been the case for this time of the year.

Fig. 7a. Time series showing he full annual cycle of the melting and freezing of sea ice around Antarctica from Jan 1979 up to 23 July. Seaice.visuals.Earth.
Fig 7b. Time series showing daily anomalies in the extent of sea ice around Antarctica from Jan 1979 up to 23 July highlighting the substantial slowing of freezing. Note differences in scale to 5a. The deviation is 7.12σ. Dark green shading = 3 sigma, light green = 5 sigma.

Sea ice extent anomaly is strongest in the Weddell and Bellingshausen Sea region. With the Indian Ocean region also showing what looks like the beginning of a strong deviation. The illustration is from the article from the Australian Antarctic Program Partnership that discusses the significance of the anomaly.

Fig. 8. Monthly anomalies in Antarctic sea-ice concentration and sea-surface temperatures for June 2023, showing more negative (i.e., reduced ice freezing) than positive anomalies. Note deep red is -70%, and lack of sea ice in Bellingshausen Sea (west of Antarctic Peninsula). Even though Antarctica is in mid-freeze season, Bellingshausen Sea is almost at summer sea-ice levels. (Source: interactive chart accessed at nilas.org). see also Polar View.

Sea ice extent anomaly is strongest in the Weddell Sea (area above the Antarctic Peninsula) and Bellingshausen Sea region (indicated by the arrow above). With the Indian Ocean region also showing what looks like the beginning of a strong deviation. See especially the article from the Australian Antarctic Program Partnership that discusses the significance of the anomaly.

Fig. 9. Color-coded animation displaying the last 2 weeks of the daily sea ice concentrations. Sea ice concentration is the percent areal coverage of ice within the data element (grid cell) in the Southern Hemisphere. These images use data from the AMSR-E/AMSR2 Unified Level-3 12.5 km product. The different shades of gray over land indicate the land elevation with the lightest gray being the highest elevation.

This graphic from NASA Earth Science’s Current State of Sea Ice Cover shows the slow rate of ice formation around Antarctica. The almost complete absence of ice in the Bellingshausen Sea is remarkable. It is only now in the last few days that it is beginning to ice over. There is also significant open water within the extent of the sea ice.

See also:

Is all this part of an early warning that a tipping point is being approached…. Or is it the real thing?

Fig. 10. Based on graphic from Zach Labe

Arctic Sea Ice

So far, melting of the Arctic sea ice has not been particularly exceptional. With regard to sea-ice at both poles, it is also important to consider thickness and volume. Ice that is only a meter or two thick is accumulated over winter when there is no solar heating (sun largely or completely below the horizon) is normally only a year old. Solid ice reflects most of the solar energy heating it. However, the thinner the ice is, the faster it can melt as it begins to heat under the summer sun and possibly even rain(!), to say nothing of warm currents from the tropics. Around the North Pole, all of the bluish and purple ice shown in the map here can disappear fairly quickly as summer continues to leave open ocean to absorb most of the solar energy striking it that will delay freezing in the following winter.

Fig. 11. Thickness of Arctic Sea Ice for the month of July 2023. This is an animated reanalysis and forecast system developed by the US Naval Research Labs, based on the global database. It is one of several oceanographic data plotting visualizations for the Arctic (see System information). Presumably in the light lavender areas the remaining ice could disappear in a few days of warm temperatures.
See also Danish Arctic Research Institution’s Polar Portal for current info on the northern polar region.

Arctic sea ice beginning to thin and break up as far as the North Pole. Shades of blue within the ice cap show regions where less than 100 percent of the quadrangle are covered by ice. (Either due to exposed ocean water or puddles of rain/melt-water on top of the ice). In either case this is bad news for reflectivity of the ice cap.

Fig. 12. Color-coded animation displaying the last 2 weeks from June 25 of the daily sea ice concentrations in the Northern Hemisphere. These images use data from the AMSR-E/AMSR2 Unified Level-3 12.5 km product. The different shades of gray over land indicate the land elevation with the lightest gray being the highest elevation. From Current State of Sea Ice Cover

Atmosphere and land

Jet streams

Fig. 13a. Jet streams in the Southern Hemisphere.
Fig. 13b. Jet streams in the Northern Hemisphere
Fig. 13c. Global distribution of jet streams.

Jet streams are the atmospheric equivalents to major ocean currents that influence all of the other weather systems on the planet to keep them moving latitudinally around the planet. They are driven by temperature differences between the tropical and polar regions of the Earth and Coreolus effects as winds blow towards or away from the poles. Where the temperature differs strongly between poles and equator the jet streams are well organized with high winds. As temperature differences decrease so do the wind speeds, and the streams begin to slowly meander until they may become quite chaotic. Winds less than 60 kt are not considered to be jet streams. At present there has been very little change in the pattern that existed a week and a half ago (as shown in Fig 8b) there are virtually NO jet streams at all in the Northern Hemisphere, and the winds that do exist are completely chaotic — a highly unusual situation. This leaves major heat domes basically motionless, facilitating the buildup and maintenance of record high temperatures.

See: Nature Climate Change, Lenton (2011) Early warning of climate tipping points.

Continental effects

Fig. 14. The taiga biome is found throughout the high northern latitudes, between the tundra and the temperate forest, from about 50°N to 70°N, but with considerable regional variation. (Wikipedia).

Some of the greatest impacts of the disrupted jet stream system are seen over the boreal/taiga forest zones of North America and Eurasia. Arctic tundra and much of the taiga is underlain by carbon rich peat and peaty permafrost soils that are thought to contain at least 2x more carbon than the current amount of carbon in our atmosphere. Depending on circumstances, significant amounts of that carbon can be released in the form of methane, that has more than 80x the greenhouse potential of CO2 over the first 20 years of emission (20x over 100 years). Aside from greenhouse gases emitted by the burning forests and soils, significant amounts of the black carbon ‘ash’ will settle on Arctic snow and ice – speeding their melting when exposed to sunlight. Collectively, at least over the first few years following wildfire, the burning will provide yet another powerful positive feedback to speed snow and ice melting. Over a longer term, re-vegetation will sequester some atmospheric CO2, but only if the forest is not burned again.

Fig. 15. By the end of June Canadian wildfires mainly in boreal forests have burned more area before the fire season is half over than in the previous record for a full year in 1989. Phys Org (30 June 2023). As at 24 July 11,582,531 ha have burned. The graph here, sourced from Natural Resources Canada gives the status as at 15 July. This is literally ‘off the chart’, and represents about 1.1% of Canada’s total land area.

Wildfires not only release the carbon contained in burned forests and tundra, but they can also burn the carbon rich peat soils. furthermore, burning off insulating vegetation and surface litter exposes permafrost to melting and release of CO2 and methane from frozen hydrates.

If the burning releases more greenhouse emissions than can readily be recaptured by re-vegetating forests. These emissions may more than replace any emissions humans cut — providing positive feedback to drive global temperatures still higher. This is one of several crucial tipping points associated with stopping the thermohaline circulation.


Intensity of observation

A hint to how little you can trust claims of reality denying trolls, puppets, and the like, is provided by the number monitoring points that physically monitor the atmosphere at those locations around the surface of the planet we live on used PER DAY.

Atmospheric monitoring

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) for the charts plotted on 6 July 2023 as shown below are based on measurements from 92,702 locations. Note 1: this map does not NOT include ocean monitoring points. Note 2: The DATA COLLECTED EVERY DAY by this web of sensors is available to, used, and interpreted by several different national and institutional climate monitoring centers. In other words, the conclusions are cross checked between different centers many times over. The charts above depict scientific facts, not hunches and personal opinions. For more detail on how the accuracy of the observations is controlled see ECMWF’s Monitoring of the observing system.

Fig. 19. The type and location of 92,702 separate observations used on 6 July 2023 between 3:00 and 9:00 PM for 6 hourly data coverage used by the ECMWF data assimilation system (4DVAR). Each plot shows the available data for a family of observations. The current day’s chart can be downloaded here. SYNOP refers to encoded information collected and transmitted every 6 hours by more than 7600 manned and unmanned meteorological stations and more than 2500 mobile stations around the world and is used for weather forecasting and climatic statistics. SHIP METAR is a format for reporting weather information. A METAR weather report is predominantly used by aircraft pilots, and by meteorologists, who use aggregated METAR information to assist in weather forecasting.

Oceanographic monitoring

Argo

Argo floats profiles physical properties of the surrounding water, minimally ocean temperature, salinity, pressure (i.e., depth). Each float operates on a 10 day cycle, spending most of the cycle ‘resting’ at an intermediate depth. On the 10th day it sinks to a specified depth and begins recording inputs from its sensors as it floats up to the surface. The standard float sinks to a depth of 2 km (2,000 m) and records all the way up to the surface, where it then determines its GPS position to within a few meters and messages a passing relay satellite with its location and profile data before sinking to its resting depth waiting for the next profile position. As shown on the world map here, for June 2023, shows the locations of 3849 profiles received over the month. Of these ~1,400 recorded the profile from 2 km deep in the ocean to the surface. Some floats are designed to sink to the bottom and thus record a profile for the full depth of the ocean. A few include several additional sensors to levels for things like acidity, oxygen, nitrate, light level, and some more I don’t recognize. The Argo system is really quite amazing.

Some even have ice sensors allowing them to operate even in ice-covered waters by warning if they might be fatally damaged by striking ice overhead. For these, if they sense ice, they’ll record the profile in memory, and drop back and rest until the next cycle (which may again prevent surfacing). These interrupted cycles will keep repeating until the float can safely surface — in which case all of the aborted profiles will be messaged to the satellite relay along with the current one (better late than never!)

Fig. 20. Argo floats operational in June 2023. For the latest data see Ocean Ops dashboard

And then there is a plethora of other ocean sensor systems. The full gamut of them shown next. The various different types are named in the legend. Collectively, on 26 June 2023, the ocean sensing system measuring in-situ variables includes 7973 ‘platforms’ (including the different kinds of Argo Floats) and results from 104 ‘cruises’ of ships ranging from specialized oceanographic vessels to fishing boats. Some of these non-Argo systems also record partial or complete (i.e., to the bottom) profiles.

Almost all of the data collected from the range of sensors is freely accessible via the public World Wide Web.

Fig. 21. Location of ocean sensor platforms.

Satellite remote sensing systems

As if the plethora of physical systems for directly measuring weather and climate is not enough. There is now a cloud of satellite-based remote sensing systems buzzing around our planet, making literally millions of observations every day of critical weather and climate variables. NASA EarthData’s What is remote sensing? gives a high level overview of some of the capabilities of these systems. You can be assured that the measurements made by the earth-based and space-based sensing systems are carefully cross calibrated to ensure the various systems are all working together towards a common view of the actual physical reality.


Major heat engine domains of the Earth System

Dynamic changes in the Universe through time are driven by spontaneous flows and transformations of energy from ‘sources’ at high potential to entropy and ‘sinks’ at lower potentials (e.g., water flowing down a hill). This flux can be used to drive other processes through a system of coupled interactions forming a thermodynamic system or heat engine. As governed by the universal physical Laws of Thermodynamics (especially the Second Law), as long as there is a potential difference between source and sink, the flux of energy between them will continue to spontaneously flow through the system/heat engine as long as long as the system’s net entropy production remains positive.

The ‘Earth System’ includes all the shell-like layered components of the planet from the edge of outer space to its center. The three main ones concerning us here from inside out are the geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. The biosphere formed in the interface between atmosphere and geosphere (on the planetary scale) is a microscopically thin turbulent layer of carbonaceous macromolecules and water combined with other elements and molecules exhibiting the properties of life. We humans form part of that biosphere.

The heat engines described here circulate masses of matter that transport heat energy from place to place within the Earth System.

Geosphere

The geosphere comprises Planet Earth’s, solid (‘rocky’) components. The geosphere’s heat engine is based on the geologically slow process of plate tectonics that drives continental drift.

Fig. 22. Geological heat engine at work. Mantle convection may be the main driver behind plate tectonics. Image via University of Sydney.

The plate tectonics engine is driven by the slow radioactive decay of unstable isotopes of elements such as potassium, uranium and thorium remaining from the formation of Earth some 4.5 billion years ago.

Enough heat has and is being generated by this decay to melt the planet’s core and heat and expand the overlying mantle rocks enough to make them less dense and plastic enough for them to form convection cells like you see in a pan of nearly boiling water. Hotter and less dense rocks float up towards Earth’s harder crust and spread out (carrying surface crust and even lighter continental rocks, i.e., ‘plates’) to become cool enough for gravitational force to pull the solidified plates back towards the molten core in subduction zones that also form oceanic trenches.

Heat transported from radioactive decay is released into the hydrosphere and atmosphere from conduction through the crust + hot springs and geysers; by molten basalt lava coming to the surface in oceanic and terrestrial spreading (‘rift zones’); and volcanoes associated with localized ‘hot spots of rising magma or with the rift zones. Lavas associated with the latter type of volcanoes are formed of lighter, lower melting point rocks forming a scum on top of the denser crustal rocks of the drifting plates.

Hydrosphere

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Earth’s hydrosphere is the thin film of water between the geosphere and atmosphere forming the salty Ocean covering around 70% of the planetary surface along with lakes and streams of generally nearly salt-free water serving as feeding tendrils draining water condensed from the land. The hydrosphere also includes a solid component of ice and a gaseous component of vapor. These components have very different properties compared to water and each other.

The liquid component of the hydrospheric heat engine absorbs solar energy in the form of heat warming volumes of water, in the form of latent heat of fusion (i.e., melting of ice) absorbing about 80 cal/gm of ice melted, and latent of vaporization (i.e., turning liquid water into an atmospheric gas) absorbing about 540 cal/gm of water vaporized (6.75 times as much energy as required to melt the gm of ice). The heat absorbed becomes ‘latent’ in that the energy transforms the state from liquid to solid or from liquid to gas without changing the measurable or feel-able (i.e., ‘sensible’) temperature of the mass. When the water vapor condenses or the water freezes, of course the latent energies are released in the form of sensible heat.

Basically, the hydrospheric heat engine is driven by the absorption of excess amounts solar radiation (the source) in equatorial, tropical, and subtropical regions of the planet that is mainly carried by ocean currents towards the polar and sub-polar regions where the an excess of heat energy released from water and freezing ice is carried away from the planet in the form of long-wave infrared radiation to the cold sink of outer space. Many different local, regional, and global ocean currents are involved in moving energy around the planetary sphere. Proportionately, a small amount of geothermal heat energy is absorbed from the geospheric heat engine by water, and larger amounts of heat are exchanged with the atmospheric heat engine(s) in a variety of ways.

Water has some very peculiar properties that play very important roles in the climate system and biospheric systems, especially around the freezing point. Most materials contract and become denser as they cool. This is also true for pure water, down to a temperature of 4 °C when it begins to expand and become less dense until it begins to freeze. Ice at 0°C is even lighter such that it easily floats. This is because water molecules are shaped like boomerangs with the oxygen atom at the apex and the two hydrogen atoms sticking out at angles. When they are warmer they jitter around in a relatively random way, such that warming makes the molecules jitter faster and further, while as they cool the jitter slows and they come closer such that a given number of molecules take up less space. As the jitter slows further at and below 4 °C, molecules tend to spread out some to form a quasi crystalline structure approaching that of ice where they are more or less locked into that structure, where the solid water is significantly lighter than the liquid. The presence of dissolved salts and minerals depresses the freezing temperature. As as ice freezes, crystallization of the water also tends to concentrate and expel dissolved minerals and gases in extra-cold plumes of particularly dense and very cold salty water (i.e., brine) — cold enough that tubes of ice may form from the less salty water around the brine.

Water is also a god solvent, able to carry substantial amounts of gases, (e.g., oxygen, CO2, methane – CH4), salts, carbonates, nitrates, sulfates, metal ions, etc). The ocean carries a lot of salt – enough to play an important role in the ocean circulation system. Oxygen and CO2 play essential roles in living systems, CO2 and carbonates play important roles in interactions between water, the Geosphere and the atmosphere. CO2 and methane in the atmosphere, along with water vapor, are the most important greenhouse gases, etc…..

Fig. 23. A summary of the path of the thermohaline circulation. Blue paths represent deep-water currents, while red paths represent surface currents. This map shows the pattern of thermohaline circulation also known as “meridional overturning circulation”. This collection of currents is responsible for the large-scale exchange of water masses in the ocean, including providing oxygen to the deep ocean. The entire circulation pattern takes ~2000 year. Wikipedia

The principal current system driving ocean heat transport is known as the ‘thermohaline circulation‘. Basically, seawater is warmed in the equatorial, tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It also increases in density due to the evaporation of water vapor into the atmosphere. However, parcels of water are kept hot enough that thermal expansion more than compensates for the densification from becoming saltier. However, as currents carry the hot, salty surface water further towards the poles, the water begins to cool until the warm salty water carrying a full load of oxygen becomes dense enough around 4 °C to sink through layers of still warmish but less salty water, carrying a full load of oxygen down to the bottom of the ocean. The salt in this descending water is diluted by mixing with relatively fresh ice water from terrestrial runoffs, melting glacial and sea ice, etc sourced from zones even closer to the poles than where the dense salty water normally sinks.

The main source of power that drives the thermohaline circulation heat engine is the conversion gravitational potential energy in the sinking masses of water as they sink to the ocean floor this sinking helps to pull surface waters into the ‘sinkhole’. Further assists to the circulation are provided by prevailing atmospheric winds pushing surface waters away from continental shores, pulling up cold, deoxygenated, CO2 and mineral rich deep waters to the surface where they fertilize the blooms of micro-algae that add more oxygen and feed the whole food chains of larger organisms in the oceans.

Atmosphere

Fig. 24. (top) Plan and (bottom) cross-section schematic view representations of the general circulation of the atmosphere. Three main circulations exist between the equator and poles due to solar heating and Earth’s rotation: 1) Hadley cell – Low-latitude air moves toward the equator. Due to solar heating, air near the equator rises vertically and moves poleward in the upper atmosphere. 2) Ferrel cell – A midlatitude mean atmospheric circulation cell. In this cell, the air flows poleward and eastward near the surface and equatorward and westward at higher levels. 3) Polar cell – Air rises, diverges, and travels toward the poles. Once over the poles, the air sinks, forming the polar highs. At the surface, air diverges outward from the polar highs. Surface winds in the polar cell are easterly (polar easterlies). A high pressure band is located at about 30° N/S latitude, leading to dry/hot weather due to descending air motion (subtropical dry zones are indicated in orange in the schematic views). Expanding tropics (indicted by orange arrows) are associated with a poleward shift of the subtropical dry zones. A low pressure band is found at 50°–60° N/S, with rainy and stormy weather in relation to the polar jet stream bands of strong westerly wind in the upper levels of the atmosphere. From Wikipedia Hadley Cell.

The atmosphere includes the gaseous components of Earth’s global heat engine. The transport and transfer of heat energy and the Coriolis effect are the major drivers. The major sources of heat are direct conduction of sensible heat across the atmosphere : ocean/land interface, the conversion of latent heat into sensible heat through the evaporation and condensation of water vapor (mainly from the oceans), and direct solar heating (note: because the atmosphere is largely transparent to most radiation, most solar energy is not captured by the atmosphere itself.)

The diagram here shows how the transport of heat from the Earth’s surface to the top of the atmosphere where it radiates away as infrared to the heat sink of outer space organizes the wind systems into three major cycles. Note that the moisture laden warm air cools as it rises and releases a lot more energy as the water vapor condenses into rain or hail to keep the rising air warmer for longer.

Biosphere

The  Biosphere (“Life”) – the totality of the living components of the planetary sphere, generally residing in the interface between the Atmophere and the Geosphere/Hydrosphere, where living things are characterized by their capacity to self-organize, self-regulate, and self-reproduce their properties of life through time.

Fig. 25. The biosphere of living things (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, via Wikipedia). False colors are used to show seasonal changes in the concentration of chlorophyll over the annual cycle. On land, vegetation appears on a scale from brown (low to zero vegetation) to dark green (lots of vegetation); at the ocean surface, phytoplankton are indicated on a scale from purple (low) to yellow (high) and red (highest). This visualization was created with data from satellites including SeaWiFS, and instruments including the NASA/NOAA Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer.

The biosphere’s “Engine of Life” is predominantly driven by the complexly catalyzed formation of high energy chemical bonds from the capture of solar radiant or activation energy from redox reactions to combine oxygen and carbon to produce high energy carbohydrates (i.e., captured by chlorophyll in photosynthesis) used or ‘burned’ to fuel all kinds of metabolic activities and processes in living things. Living components of the Earth System have and depend for their continued survival and reproduction on their capacity to catalyze all kinds of energy transformations within and between the other Earth Systems. Over time the Engine of Life has profoundly affected the other planetary spheres. A tiny fraction of energy is captured in abyssal depths and deep in the earth through the process of chemosynthesis

Over evolutionary time the emergence and evolution Life has affected major global transformations involving many aspects of Earth’s other subsystems. Evolutionary processes are complexly dynamic and many of them include many potentially powerful positive feedbacks able to drive changes at exponential rates. All life can evolve genetically to live under a wide variety of environmental conditions over multi generational time scales due to natural selection at the genetic level. 

A few species and humans in particular, can evolve culturally at intra-generational timescales to drive changes at exponentially explosive rates to the extent that WE are literally threatening all complex life on the planet with global mass extinction – quite possibly within two or three of our own generations! 

Interpersonal competition to gain ever more personal power from the burning of globally significant quantities of  fossil carbon in less than a century that was accumulated in the geosphere over millions of years by life processes has destabilized Earth’s Climate System. TODAY, we seem to be in the midst of flipping the global climate system from the Glacial-Interglacial Cycle most life has adapted genetically to live under, to the Hothouse Earth regime that very few organisms will be able to survive in without hundreds or thousands of generations or more of genetic adaptation. SEE FEATURED IMAGE!

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

Global Climate Change 8/07/2023

08/07/2023

What’s this article about, and why is the date in the title important?

As I write this, the average climate for our WHOLE PLANET is changing so freaking fast we can see visibly measurable changes in the averages from one day to the next!

The sudden speed up of changes in several climate indicators at the same time suggests that we may be crossing a critical tipping point in the complex interactions of important temperature related feedbacks controlling the behavior of Earth’s Climate System, as shown in the Featured Image. The speed-up is highlighted by the fact that the average air temperature 2 meters above the surface of our planet is at an all time record (and especially in the satellite era beginning in 1979). These changes will affect the whole 8,000,000,000+ humans and alive today along with all other life on the planet. The charts and maps presented here graphically illustrate measurements of important climate variables up to the last 1 to 4 days.

Fig. 1. ClimateReanalyzer’s Time Series plotting of Earth’s global average temperature at 2 meters above the surface from the NCEP Climate Forecast System (CFS) version 2 (April 2011 – present) and CFS Reanalysis (January 1979 – March 2011). CFS/CFSR is a numerical climate/weather modeling framework that ingests surface, radiosonde, and satellite observations to estimate the state of the atmosphere at hourly time resolution onward from 1 January 1979. The horizontal gridcell resolution is 0.5°x0.5° (~ 55km at 45°N). The time series chart displays area-weighted means for the selected domain. For example, if World is selected, then each daily temperature value on the chart represents the average of all gridcells 90°S–90°N, 0–360°E and accounts for the convergence of longitudes at the poles. Hide or display individual time series by clicking the year below the chart

The time gap between the instants of measurement depicted in the plots and charts and when they were printed are due to time delays between:

  • automatically recording millions of readings from hundreds of thousands of networked physical sensors and more millions of readings from remote sensors on a plethora of artificial satellites whizzing around our revolving planet several times a day (“Intensity of observation”, below, illustrates just how comprehensive the sensor network is);
  • accumulating and assembling the recorded data over the world-wide communications network;
  • proofing, processing and tabulating the received data on the world’s largest supercomputers; reanalyzing and plotting the observations in the form of charts and graphs comprehensible to humans;
  • publishing and publishing these outputs onto the public web, where they are accessible to anyone with a computer and the knowledge to find and understand the representations.

Based on the most recent measurements, the ongoing climate changes are accelerating in directions and speeds that will inevitably be lethal to the human and many other species within another century, more or less, if the changes are not stopped and reversed. These changes are a direct consequence of an unplanned experiment that humans began around 1½ centuries ago to burn geologically significant quantities of fossil carbon (e.g., coal, oil, ‘natural’ gas) into usable energy and greenhouse gases trapping an ever growing proportion of the total solar energy striking Planet Earth.

However, some of the combustion energy released by burning fossil carbon has also fueled an exponential growth of knowledge and technology able to produce the I am showing here. These plots provide the evidence our experiment is changing our global climate system to a state that will have existentially catastrophic consequences for Earth’s complex forms of life. This Hellish state is known as “Hothouse Earth“.

This fact that we now have the tools to actually see the evidence of our likely doom gives me some hope that our still exponentially improving technology may also provide us with the ability to stop further damage caused by our rogue experiment and repair enough of the damage already caused, to allow our species to continue evolving into the foreseeable future.

This raises the unavoidable and fraught question: Do we humans have the political will and capability to marshal and mobilize our technologies to engineer solutions that will allow us to avoid the abyss? This is the single most important issue facing the world today. If we don’t solve it, no other issue matters because — before long — no one will be left to worry about it.

Problematically, the world’s governments are dominated by puppets of the fossil fuel industry and related interests. They are doing as much as they can to PREVENT, DELAY, or MINIMIZE any actions that might hamper fossil fuel’s greed and short term interests for the world to burn yet more fuel. Hoping that we humans can solve this single, most important issue, VoteClimateOne is working to revolutionize our governments by replacing or changing parliamentary puppets to prioritize actions to solve the climate crisis first. Also, I am writing articles such as this to demonstrate and explain why this revolution is so urgent and necessary.

To demonstrate just how rapidly we are currently moving down the road to doom in what will be Earth’s Hothouse Hell, this article will be updated at least once a week until there is evidence of a downward trend to safer readings.

Measuring progress towards existential catastrophe on Hothouse Earth

Ocean measurements are critical

Because most humans live on continental land masses, immersed in the atmosphere, most climatologists are primarily concerned with what goes on in the atmosphere. However, because water covers some 70% of our planet’s surface and because of water’s physical properties, around 90% of the excess solar energy striking Earth is absorbed in the World Ocean. Heat is then transported around the planet in currents and is available to be released to drive climate. See below for explanations of how the major heat engines driving Earth’s Climate System interact and work.

Fig. 2. Growing heat content held by our warming Ocean Current to Feb. 2023 (NOAA data)

Because these climate ‘engines’ are complex dynamical systems with many interacting components, where the interactions are often non-linear and sometimes even chaotic (in a mathematical sense their behavior is inherently unpredictable to any statistically define degree. Positive feedbacks in such systems can be potentially destructive because they lead to exponentially growing changes that lead to system breakdown (because infinity is impossible in the real world). Mathematical modeling of the interactions of small sets of variables can provide an appreciation of how such breakdowns may occur. Systems engineering as practiced in large defence engineering projects is based around a MilStd known as Failure Modes Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA) to identify such kinds of failure modes in order to engineer system solutions mitigate or totally avoid circumstances where they might arise.

The charts and maps below show how some measures of the behavior of Global Climate System have been behaving over the last few months and days. I consider these to be critical because they are likely to be evolved in the kinds of positive feedbacks that can grow exponentially to cause systems failure or collapse.

A definition

Many of the charts represent values of particular variables averaged over the surface of the whole Earth (or some specified region) at a specified point or interval of time. Most maps use colors to indicate the value of a specified variable at a specified point or averaged over an interval of time. In most such cases these measures are presented in the form of “anomalies”. An anomaly is the difference between the particular measurement and the long-term ‘baseline’ average for that measure on that day or interval of the year. For example, the graph immediately below uses a 30 year average (from 1971-2000) for its baseline average. Anomaly plots are particularly useful to highlight changes taking place over time.

Critical variables

Global sea-surface temperature

The global sea surface temperature anomaly broke into all-time record for the day of the year around 15 March, and by the end of March it was an all time record high since 1981, 0.1 °C above the previous record set on 6 March 2015. This value is so extreme, that along with other variables noted below it suggests that the average rate of global warming observed over the last few decades may be shifting into a new regime where the rate of ocean-surface warming is skyrocketing. As at 29 June it is still 0.2 °C above the previous record for that date – with an uptick after 4 days of downward trend).

Fig. 3a. This chart provides time series visualizations of daily mean Sea Surface Temperature (SST) up to 4 July from NOAA Optimum Interpolation SST (OISST) version 2.1. OISST is a 0.25°x0.25° gridded dataset that provides estimates of temperature based on a blend of satellite, ship, and buoy observations. The datset spans 1 January 1982 to present with a 1 to 2-day lag from the current day. Data are preliminary for about two weeks until a finalized product is posted by NOAA. This status is identified on the maps by “[preliminary]” appearing in the title, and applies to the time series as well. SST anomalies, which are included in the OISST dataset, are based on 1971–2000 climatology. The time series chart displays area-weighted means for the selected domain. For example, if World 60S-60N is selected, then each daily SST value on the chart represents the average of all ocean gridcells between 60°S and 60°N across all longitudes, and accounts for the convergence of longitudes at the poles. Hide or display individual time series by clicking the year below the chart; Hide All and Show All buttons are at the chart lower right. The map can be switched between SST and SST anomaly by clicking the toggle button at the map top-left. A sea ice mask is applied to the SST and anomaly maps for gridcells where ice concentration is >= 50%
Fig. 3b. Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies
Fig. 3c. Sea Surface Temperatures. ClimateReanalyzer’s SST current SST data can be accessed here.

The North Atlantic still has a fever on 4 July. Warmer than usual water flooding up around southern Greenland right up to the edge of the melting sea-ice, with what looks like cold fresh meltwater flowing out of Baffin Bay along the west side.

Note that the ocean surface temperature is 5 °C right up to the edge of the sea ice, with warmer water than that intruding nearly as far as the ice front in Baffin Bay. Cooler water may be flowing out close to the Canadian shoreline. There is no sign in either of the SST maps of ‘cool spots’ which are thought to be the sources of the ‘salty cold water’ forming the deep water branches of the thermohaline circulation in the North Atlantic. In fact, the ocean in these areas seems to be 10-15 °C. Northern Hemisphere ice extents are low for the date but not yet near record lows, unlike the South!

Fig. 4a. Record Sea Surface temperature in North Atlantic for Jul 4.
Fig 4b. Sea Surface Temperature distribution in North Atlantic.

Sea ice

Around the same time the global average sea-surface temperature began to skyrocket, the rate of sea-ice formation around Antarctica slowed — as would be expected if the surrounding ocean was becoming progressively warmer than has ever before been the case for this time of the year.

Fig. 5a. Time series showing he full annual cycle of the melting and freezing of sea ice around Antarctica from Jan 1979 up to 3 July. Seaice.visuals.Earth.
Fig 5b. Time series showing daily anomalies in the extent of sea ice around Antarctica from Jan 1979 up to 3 July highlighting the substantial slowing of freezing. Note differences in scale to 5a.

Sea ice extent anomaly is strongest in the Weddell and Bellingshausen Sea region. With the Indian Ocean region also showing what looks like the beginning of a strong deviation. The illustration is from the article from the Australian Antarctic Program Partnership that discusses the significance of the anomaly.

Fig. 6. Monthly anomalies in Antarctic sea-ice concentration for early June 2023, showing more negative than positive anomalies. Note colour bar (deep red is -70%), and lack of sea ice in Bellingshausen Sea (arrowed). Even though Antarctica is in mid-freeze season, Bellingshausen Sea is almost at summer sea-ice levels. (Source: nilas.org). see also Polar View.

Sea ice extent anomaly is strongest in the Weddell Sea (area above the Antarctic Peninsula) and Bellingshausen Sea region (indicated by the arrow above). With the Indian Ocean region also showing what looks like the beginning of a strong deviation. See especially the article from the Australian Antarctic Program Partnership that discusses the significance of the anomaly.

Fig. 7. Color-coded animation displaying the last 2 weeks of the daily sea ice concentrations Sea ice concentration is the percent areal coverage of ice within the data element (grid cell) in the Southern Hemisphere. These images use data from the AMSR-E/AMSR2 Unified Level-3 12.5 km product. The different shades of gray over land indicate the land elevation with the lightest gray being the highest elevation.

This graphic from NASA Earth Science’s Current State of Sea Ice Cover shows the slow rate of ice formation around Antarctica. The almost complete absence of ice in the Bellingshausen Sea is remarkable. There is also significant open water within the extent of the sea ice.

See also:

Is all this part of an early warning that a tipping point is being approached…. Or is it the real thing?

Fig. 8. Based on graphic from Zach Labe

So far, melting of the Arctic sea ice has not been particularly exceptional. With regard to sea-ice at both poles, it is also important to consider thickness and volume. Ice that is only a meter or two thick is accumulated in the winter when there is no solar heating (sun largely or completely below the horizon) is normally only a year old. Solid ice reflects most of the solar energy heating it. However, the thinner the ice is, the faster it can melt as it begins to heat under the summer sun and possibly even rain(!), to say nothing of warm currents from the tropics. Around the North Pole, all of the bluish and purple ice shown in the map here can disappear fairly quickly as summer continues to leave open ocean to absorb most of the solar energy striking it that will delay freezing in the following winter. (Danish Arctic Research Institution’s Polar Portal).

Fig. 9. Thickness of Arctic Sea Ice on 5 July 2023. Note the Danish Polar Portal provides an animated time series of changes from 1 Jan 2004.

Jet streams

Fig. 10a. Jet streams in the Southern Hemisphere.
Fig. 10b. Jet streams in the Northern Hemisphere
Fig. 10c. Global distribution of jet streams.

Jet streams are the atmospheric equivalents to major ocean currents that influence all of the other weather systems on the planet to keep them moving latitudinally around the planet. They are driven by temperature differences between the tropical and polar regions of the Earth and Coreolus effects as winds blow towards or away from the poles. Where the temperature differs strongly between poles and equator the jet streams are well organized with high winds. As temperature differences decrease so do the wind speeds, and the streams begin to slowly meander until they may become quite chaotic. Winds less than 60 kt are not considered to be jet streams. At present (as shown in Fig 8b, there are virtually NO jet streams at all in the Northern Hemisphere, and the winds that do exist are completely chaotic — a highly unusual situation. This leaves major heat domes and cold patches basically motionless, facilitating the buildup of record temperatures.

See: Nature Climate Change, Lenton (2011) Early warning of climate tipping points.

Continental effects

Fig. 11. The taiga is found throughout the high northern latitudes, between the tundra and the temperate forest, from about 50°N to 70°N, but with considerable regional variation. (Wikipedia).

Some of the greatest impacts of the disrupted jet stream system are seen over the boreal/taiga forest zones of North America and Eurasia. Arctic tundra and much of the taiga is underlain by carbon rich peat and peaty permafrost soils that are thought to contain at least 2x more carbon than the current amount of carbon in our atmosphere. Depending on circumstances, significant amounts of that carbon can be released in the form of methane, that has more than 80x the greenhouse potential of CO2 over the first 20 years of emission (20x over 100 years).

Fig. 12. By the end of June Canadian wildfires mainly in boreal forests have burned more area before the fire season is half over than in the previous record for a full year in 1989. Phys Org (30 June 2023). As at 6 July 8.782,952 have burned (Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre).

Wildfires not only release the carbon contained in burned forests and tundra, but they can also burn the carbon rich peat soils. furthermore, burning off insulating vegetation and surface litter exposes permafrost to melting and release of CO2 and methane from frozen hydrates.

If the burning releases more greenhouse emissions than can readily be recaptured by re-vegetating forests. These emissions may more than replace any emissions humans cut — providing positive feedback to drive global temperatures still higher. This is one of several crucial tipping points associated with stopping the thermohaline circulation.


Intensity of observation

A hint to how little you can trust claims of reality denying trolls, puppets, and the like, is provided by the number monitoring points that physically monitor the atmosphere at those locations around the surface of the planet we live on used PER DAY.

Atmospheric monitoring

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) for the charts plotted on 6 July 2023 as shown below are based on measurements from 92,702 locations. Note 1: this map does not NOT include ocean monitoring points. Note 2: The DATA COLLECTED EVERY DAY by this web of sensors is available to, used, and interpreted by several different national and institutional climate monitoring centers. In other words, the conclusions are cross checked between different centers many times over. The charts above depict scientific facts, not hunches and personal opinions. For more detail on how the accuracy of the observations is controlled see ECMWF’s Monitoring of the observing system.

Fig. 13. This chart maps the type and location of 92,702 separate observations used on 6 July 2023 between 3:00 and 9:00 PM for 6 hourly data coverage used by the ECMWF data assimilation system (4DVAR). Each plot shows the available data for a family of observations. The current day’s chart can be downloaded here. SYNOP refers to encoded information collected and transmitted every 6 hours by more than 7600 manned and unmanned meteorological stations and more than 2500 mobile stations around the world and is used for weather forecasting and climatic statistics. SHIP METAR is a format for reporting weather information. A METAR weather report is predominantly used by aircraft pilots, and by meteorologists, who use aggregated METAR information to assist in weather forecasting.

Oceanographic monitoring

Argo

Argo floats profiles physical properties of the surrounding water, minimally ocean temperature, salinity, pressure (i.e., depth). Each float operates on a 10 day cycle, spending most of the cycle ‘resting’ at an intermediate depth. On the 10th day it sinks to a specified depth and begins recording inputs from its sensors as it floats up to the surface. The standard float sinks to a depth of 2 km (2,000 m) and records all the way up to the surface, where it then determines its GPS position to within a few meters and messages a passing relay satellite with its location and profile data before sinking to its resting depth waiting for the next profile position. As shown on the world map here, for June 2023, shows the locations of 3849 profiles received over the month. Of these ~1,400 recorded the profile from 2 km deep in the ocean to the surface. Some floats are designed to sink to the bottom and thus record a profile for the full depth of the ocean. A few include several additional sensors to levels for things like acidity, oxygen, nitrate, light level, and some more I don’t recognize. The Argo system is really quite amazing.

Some even have ice sensors allowing them to operate even in ice-covered waters by warning if they might be fatally damaged by striking ice overhead. For these, if they sense ice, they’ll record the profile in memory, and drop back and rest until the next cycle (which may again prevent surfacing). These interrupted cycles will keep repeating until the float can safely surface — in which case all of the aborted profiles will be messaged to the satellite relay along with the current one (better late than never!)

Fig. 14. For the latest data see Ocean Ops dashboard

And then there is a plethora of other ocean sensor systems. The full gamut of them shown next. The various different types are named in the legend. Collectively, on 26 June 2023, the ocean sensing system measuring in-situ variables includes 7973 ‘platforms’ (including the different kinds of Argo Floats) and results from 104 ‘cruises’ of ships ranging from specialized oceanographic vessels to fishing boats. Some of these non-Argo systems also record partial or complete (i.e., to the bottom) profiles.

Almost all of the data collected from the range of sensors is freely accessible via the public World Wide Web.

Fig. 15.

Satellite remote sensing systems

As if the plethora of physical systems for directly measuring weather and climate is not enough. There is now a cloud of satellite-based remote sensing systems buzzing around our planet, making literally millions of observations every day of critical weather and climate variables. NASA EarthData’s What is remote sensing? gives a high level overview of some of the capabilities of these systems. You can be assured that the measurements made by the earth-based and space-based sensing systems are carefully cross calibrated to ensure the various systems are all working together towards a common view of the actual physical reality.


Major heat engine domains of the Earth System

Dynamic changes in the Universe through time are driven by spontaneous flows and transformations of energy from ‘sources’ at high potential to entropy and ‘sinks’ at lower potentials (e.g., water flowing down a hill). This flux can be used to drive other processes through a system of coupled interactions forming a thermodynamic system or heat engine. As governed by the universal physical Laws of Thermodynamics (especially the Second Law), as long as there is a potential difference between source and sink, the flux of energy between them will continue to spontaneously flow through the system/heat engine as long as long as the system’s net entropy production remains positive.

The ‘Earth System’ includes all the shell-like layered components of the planet from the edge of outer space to its center. The three main ones concerning us here from inside out are the geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. The biosphere formed in the interface between atmosphere and geosphere (on the planetary scale) is a microscopically thin turbulent layer of carbonaceous macromolecules and water combined with other elements and molecules exhibiting the properties of life. We humans form part of that biosphere.

The heat engines described here circulate masses of matter that transport heat energy from place to place within the Earth System.

Geosphere

The geosphere comprises Planet Earth’s, solid (‘rocky’) components. The geosphere’s heat engine is based on the geologically slow process of plate tectonics that drives continental drift.

Fig. 16. Geological heat engine at work. Mantle convection may be the main driver behind plate tectonics. Image via University of Sydney.

The plate tectonics engine is driven by the slow radioactive decay of unstable isotopes of elements such as potassium, uranium and thorium remaining from the formation of Earth some 4.5 billion years ago.

Enough heat has and is being generated by this decay to melt the planet’s core and heat and expand the overlying mantle rocks enough to make them less dense and plastic enough for them to form convection cells like you see in a pan of nearly boiling water. Hotter and less dense rocks float up towards Earth’s harder crust and spread out (carrying surface crust and even lighter continental rocks, i.e., ‘plates’) to become cool enough for gravitational force to pull the solidified plates back towards the molten core in subduction zones that also form oceanic trenches.

Heat transported from radioactive decay is released into the hydrosphere and atmosphere from conduction through the crust + hot springs and geysers; by molten basalt lava coming to the surface in oceanic and terrestrial spreading (‘rift zones’); and volcanoes associated with localized ‘hot spots of rising magma or with the rift zones. Lavas associated with the latter type of volcanoes are formed of lighter, lower melting point rocks forming a scum on top of the denser crustal rocks of the drifting plates.

Hydrosphere

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Thermohaline_circulation.svg

Earth’s hydrosphere is the thin film of water between the geosphere and atmosphere forming the salty Ocean covering around 70% of the planetary surface along with lakes and streams of generally nearly salt-free water serving as feeding tendrils draining water condensed from the land. The hydrosphere also includes a solid component of ice and a gaseous component of vapor. These components have very different properties compared to water and each other.

The liquid component of the hydrospheric heat engine absorbs solar energy in the form of heat warming volumes of water, in the form of latent heat of fusion (i.e., melting of ice) absorbing about 80 cal/gm of ice melted, and latent of vaporization (i.e., turning liquid water into an atmospheric gas) absorbing about 540 cal/gm of water vaporized (6.75 times as much energy as required to melt the gm of ice). The heat absorbed becomes ‘latent’ in that the energy transforms the state from liquid to solid or from liquid to gas without changing the measurable or feel-able (i.e., ‘sensible’) temperature of the mass. When the water vapor condenses or the water freezes, of course the latent energies are released in the form of sensible heat.

Basically, the hydrospheric heat engine is driven by the absorption of excess amounts solar radiation (the source) in equatorial, tropical, and subtropical regions of the planet that is mainly carried by ocean currents towards the polar and sub-polar regions where the an excess of heat energy released from water and freezing ice is carried away from the planet in the form of long-wave infrared radiation to the cold sink of outer space. Many different local, regional, and global ocean currents are involved in moving energy around the planetary sphere. Proportionately, a small amount of geothermal heat energy is absorbed from the geospheric heat engine by water, and larger amounts of heat are exchanged with the atmospheric heat engine(s) in a variety of ways.

Water has some very peculiar properties that play very important roles in the climate system and biospheric systems, especially around the freezing point. Most materials contract and become denser as they cool. This is also true for pure water, down to a temperature of 4 °C when it begins to expand and become less dense until it begins to freeze. Ice at 0°C is even lighter such that it easily floats. This is because water molecules are shaped like boomerangs with the oxygen atom at the apex and the two hydrogen atoms sticking out at angles. When they are warmer they jitter around in a relatively random way, such that warming makes the molecules jitter faster and further, while as they cool the jitter slows and they come closer such that a given number of molecules take up less space. As the jitter slows further at and below 4 °C, molecules tend to spread out some to form a quasi crystalline structure approaching that of ice where they are more or less locked into that structure, where the solid water is significantly lighter than the liquid. The presence of dissolved salts and minerals depresses the freezing temperature. As as ice freezes, crystallization of the water also tends to concentrate and expel dissolved minerals and gases in extra-cold plumes of particularly dense and very cold salty water (i.e., brine) — cold enough that tubes of ice may form from the less salty water around the brine.

Water is also a god solvent, able to carry substantial amounts of gases, (e.g., oxygen, CO2, methane – CH4), salts, carbonates, nitrates, sulfates, metal ions, etc). The ocean carries a lot of salt – enough to play an important role in the ocean circulation system. Oxygen and CO2 play essential roles in living systems, CO2 and carbonates play important roles in interactions between water, the Geosphere and the atmosphere. CO2 and methane in the atmosphere, along with water vapor, are the most important greenhouse gases, etc…..

Fig. 17. A summary of the path of the thermohaline circulation. Blue paths represent deep-water currents, while red paths represent surface currents. This map shows the pattern of thermohaline circulation also known as “meridional overturning circulation”. This collection of currents is responsible for the large-scale exchange of water masses in the ocean, including providing oxygen to the deep ocean. The entire circulation pattern takes ~2000 year. Wikipedia

The principal current system driving ocean heat transport is known as the ‘thermohaline circulation‘. Basically, seawater is warmed in the equatorial, tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It also increases in density due to the evaporation of water vapor into the atmosphere. However, parcels of water are kept hot enough that thermal expansion more than compensates for the densification from becoming saltier. However, as currents carry the hot, salty surface water further towards the poles, the water begins to cool until the warm salty water carrying a full load of oxygen becomes dense enough around 4 °C to sink through layers of still warmish but less salty water, carrying a full load of oxygen down to the bottom of the ocean. The salt in this descending water is diluted by mixing with relatively fresh ice water from terrestrial runoffs, melting glacial and sea ice, etc sourced from zones even closer to the poles than where the dense salty water normally sinks.

The main source of power that drives the thermohaline circulation heat engine is the conversion gravitational potential energy in the sinking masses of water as they sink to the ocean floor this sinking helps to pull surface waters into the ‘sinkhole’. Further assists to the circulation are provided by prevailing atmospheric winds pushing surface waters away from continental shores, pulling up cold, deoxygenated, CO2 and mineral rich deep waters to the surface where they fertilize the blooms of micro-algae that add more oxygen and feed the whole food chains of larger organisms in the oceans.

Atmosphere

Fig. 18. (top) Plan and (bottom) cross-section schematic view representations of the general circulation of the atmosphere. Three main circulations exist between the equator and poles due to solar heating and Earth’s rotation: 1) Hadley cell – Low-latitude air moves toward the equator. Due to solar heating, air near the equator rises vertically and moves poleward in the upper atmosphere. 2) Ferrel cell – A midlatitude mean atmospheric circulation cell. In this cell, the air flows poleward and eastward near the surface and equatorward and westward at higher levels. 3) Polar cell – Air rises, diverges, and travels toward the poles. Once over the poles, the air sinks, forming the polar highs. At the surface, air diverges outward from the polar highs. Surface winds in the polar cell are easterly (polar easterlies). A high pressure band is located at about 30° N/S latitude, leading to dry/hot weather due to descending air motion (subtropical dry zones are indicated in orange in the schematic views). Expanding tropics (indicted by orange arrows) are associated with a poleward shift of the subtropical dry zones. A low pressure band is found at 50°–60° N/S, with rainy and stormy weather in relation to the polar jet stream bands of strong westerly wind in the upper levels of the atmosphere. From Wikipedia Hadley Cell.

The atmosphere includes the gaseous components of Earth’s global heat engine. The transport and transfer of heat energy and the Coriolis effect are the major drivers. The major sources of heat are direct conduction of sensible heat across the atmosphere : ocean/land interface, the conversion of latent heat into sensible heat through the evaporation and condensation of water vapor (mainly from the oceans), and direct solar heating (note: because the atmosphere is largely transparent to most radiation, most solar energy is not captured by the atmosphere itself.)

The diagram here shows how the transport of heat from the Earth’s surface to the top of the atmosphere where it radiates away as infrared to the heat sink of outer space organizes the wind systems into three major cycles. Note that the moisture laden warm air cools as it rises and releases a lot more energy as the water vapor condenses into rain or hail to keep the rising air warmer for longer.

Biosphere

The  Biosphere (“Life”) – the totality of the living components of the planetary sphere, generally residing in the interface between the Atmophere and the Geosphere/Hydrosphere, where living things are characterized by their capacity to self-organize, self-regulate, and self-reproduce their properties of life through time.

The “Engine of Life” is predominantly driven by the complexly catalyzed formation of high energy chemical bonds from the capture of solar radiant or activation energy from redox reactions to combine oxygen and carbon to produce high energy carbohydrates used or ‘burned’ to fuel all kinds of metabolic activities and processes in living things. Living components of the Earth System have and depend for their continued survival and reproduction on their capacity to catalyze all kinds of energy transformations within and between the other Earth Systems. Over time the Engine of Life has profoundly affected the other planetary spheres.

Over evolutionary time the emergence and evolution Life has affected major global transformations involving many aspects of Earth’s other subsystems. Evolutionary processes are complexly dynamic and many of them include many potentially powerful positive feedbacks able to drive changes at exponential rates. All life can evolve genetically to live under a wide variety of environmental conditions over multi generational time scales due to natural selection at the genetic level. 

A few species and humans in particular, can evolve culturally at intra-generational timescales to drive changes at exponentially explosive rates to the extent that WE are literally threatening all complex life on the planet with global mass extinction – quite possibly within two or three of our own generations! 

Interpersonal competition to gain ever more personal power from the burning of globally significant quantities of  fossil carbon in less than a century that was accumulated in the geosphere over millions of years by life processes has destabilized Earth’s Climate System. TODAY, we seem to be in the midst of flipping the global climate system from the Glacial-Interglacial Cycle most life has adapted genetically to live under, to the Hothouse Earth regime that very few organisms will be able to survive in without hundreds or thousands of generations or more of genetic adaptation. SEE FEATURED IMAGE!

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

July 2023 Climate extremes

Carbon release through abrupt permafrost thaw https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0526-0

Abstract

The permafrost zone is expected to be a substantial carbon source to the atmosphere, yet large-scale models currently only simulate gradual changes in seasonally thawed soil. Abrupt thaw will probably occur in <20% of the permafrost zone but could affect half of permafrost carbon through collapsing ground, rapid erosion and landslides. Here, we synthesize the best available information and develop inventory models to simulate abrupt thaw impacts on permafrost carbon balance. Emissions across 2.5 million km2 of abrupt thaw could provide a similar climate feedback as gradual thaw emissions from the entire 18 million km2 permafrost region under the warming projection of Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5. While models forecast that gradual thaw may lead to net ecosystem carbon uptake under projections of Representative Concentration Pathway 4.5, abrupt thaw emissions are likely to offset this potential carbon sink. Active hillslope erosional features will occupy 3% of abrupt thaw terrain by 2300 but emit one-third of abrupt thaw carbon losses. Thaw lakes and wetlands are methane hot spots but their carbon release is partially offset by slowly regrowing vegetation. After considering abrupt thaw stabilization, lake drainage and soil carbon uptake by vegetation regrowth, we conclude that models considering only gradual permafrost thaw are substantially underestimating carbon emissions from thawing permafrost.

Past permafrost dynamics can inform future permafrost carbon-climate feedbacks https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-15725-8

Past permafrost dynamics can inform future permafrost carbon-climate feedbacks https://www.nature.com/articles/s43247-023-00886-3

consequences of the climate crisis Is the North Atlantic at the tipping point? https://www-spiegel-de.translate.goog/wissenschaft/natur/klimakrise-steht-der-nordatlantik-vor-dem-kipppunkt-a-25864362-03d3-4907-8300-18e74fc9e8a0?_x_tr_sl=es&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en-US&_x_tr_pto=wapp

https://www.ft.com/content/41efe7f2-5bd5-48fc-96e8-7275f08180fd

Prof. Stefan Rahmstorf

@rahmstorf

Good coverage by the Financial Times on the new study on the risk of Atlantic Ocean circulation instability, citing a number of experts. #AMOC

Includes tweets from known people who have better access to tools than I do.

https://theconversation.com/climate-change-threatens-to-cause-synchronised-harvest-failures-across-the-globe-with-implications-for-australias-food-security-209250

https://berkeleyearth.org/dv/global-temperature-anomaly-from-1850-2022/

https://mailchi.mp/caa/the-climate-dice-are-loaded-now-a-new-frontier

Sourced from Canadian Broadcast Corporation News https://www.cbc.ca/news/climate/climate-heat-models-1.6905606

https://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/satellite/index.uk.php

https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2023/07/13/heatwave-california-arizona-florida-texas-records/

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

Global Climate Change 26/06/2023

What’s this article about, and why is the date in the title important?

As I write this, the average climate for our WHOLE PLANET is changing so freaking fast we can see visibly measurable changes in the averages from one day to the next! These changes affect the whole 8,000,000,000+ humans and alive today along with all other life on the planet. The charts and maps presented here graphically illustrate measurements of important climate variables up to the last 1 to 4 days. The time gap between the instants of measurement depicted in these plots and when they are printed are due to time delas between:

  • automatically recording millions of readings from hundreds of thousands of networked physical sensors and more millions of readings from remote sensors on a plethora of artificial satellites whizzing around our revolving planet several times a day (“Intensity of observation”, below, illustrates just how comprehensive the sensor network is);
  • accumulating and assembling the recorded data over the world-wide communications network;
  • proofing, processing and tabulating the received data on the world’s largest supercomputers; reanalyzing and plotting the observations in the form of charts and graphs comprehensible to humans;
  • publishing and publishing these outputs onto the public web, where they are accessible to anyone with a computer and the knowledge to find and understand the representations.

Most of the ongoing climate changes are accelerating in directions and speeds that will inevitably be lethal to the human and many other species within another century, more or less, if the changes are not stopped and reversed. These changes are a direct consequence of an unplanned experiment that humans began around 1½ centuries ago to burn geologically significant quantities of fossil carbon (e.g., coal, oil, ‘natural’ gas) into usable energy and greenhouse gases trapping a significantly increasingly more of the total solar energy received by Planet Earth.

However, some of the combustion energy released by burning fossil carbon has also fueled an exponential growth of knowledge and technology able to produce the plots below. These plots provide the evidence our experiment is changing our global climate system to a state that will have existentially catastrophic consequences for Earth’s complex forms of life. This Hellish state is known as “Hothouse Earth“.

This fact that we can actually see the evidence of our impending doom gives me some hope that our still exponentially improving technology may provide us with the ability to stop further damage caused by our rogue experiment and repair enough of the damage already caused, to allow our species to continue evolving into the foreseeable future.

This raises the unavoidable and fraught question: Do we humans have the political will and capability to marshal and mobilize our technologies to engineer solutions that will allow us to avoid the abyss? This is the single most important issue facing the world today. If we don’t solve it, no other issue matters because — before long — no one will be left to worry about it.

Currently the world’s governments are dominated by puppets of the fossil fuel industry and related interests. They are doing as much as they can to PREVENT, DELAY, or MINIMIZE any actions that might hamper fossil fuel’s greed and short term interests for the world to burn yet more fuel. Hoping that we humans can solve this single, most important issue, VoteClimateOne is working to revolutionize our governments by replacing or changing parliamentary puppets to prioritize actions to solve the climate crisis first. Also, I am writing articles such as this to demonstrate and explain why this revolution is so urgent and necessary.

To demonstrate just how rapidly we are currently moving down the road to doom in what will be Earth’s Hothouse Hell, this article will be updated at least once a week until there is evidence of a downward trend to safer readings.

Measuring progress towards existential catastrophe on Hothouse Earth

First, some definitions

Many of the charts represent values of particular variables averaged over the surface of the whole Earth (or some specified region) at a specified point or interval of time. Most maps use colors to indicate the value of a specified variable at a specified point or averaged over an interval of time. In most such cases these measures are presented in the form of “anomalies”. An anomaly is the difference between the particular measurement and the long-term ‘baseline’ average for that measure on that day or interval of the year. For example, the graph immediately below uses a 30 year average (from 1982-2011) for its baseline average. Anomaly plots are particularly useful to highlight changes taking place over time.

Major heat engine domains of the Earth System

Dynamic changes in the Universe through time are driven by spontaneous flows and transformations of energy from ‘sources’ at high potential to entropy and ‘sinks’ at lower potentials (e.g., water flowing down a hill). This flux can be used to drive other processes through a system of coupled interactions forming a thermodynamic system or heat engine. As governed by the universal physical Laws of Thermodynamics (especially the Second Law), as long as there is a potential difference between source and sink, the flux of energy between them will continue to spontaneously flow through the system/heat engine as long as long as the system’s net entropy production remains positive.

The ‘Earth System’ includes all the shell-like layered components of the planet from the edge of outer space to its center. The three main ones concerning us here from inside out are the geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. The biosphere formed in the interface between atmosphere and geosphere (on the planetary scale) is a microscopically thin turbulent layer of carbonaceous macromolecules and water combined with other elements and molecules exhibiting the properties of life. We humans form part of that biosphere.

The heat engines described here circulate masses of matter that transport heat energy from place to place within the Earth System.

Geosphere

The geosphere comprises Planet Earth’s, solid (‘rocky’) components. The geosphere’s heat engine is based on the geologically slow process of plate tectonics that drives continental drift.

Geological heat engine at work.

The engine is driven by the slow radioactive decay of unstable isotopes of elements such as potassium, uranium and thorium remaining from the formation of Earth some 4.5 billion years ago. Enough heat has and is being generated by this decay to melt the planet’s core and heat and expand the overlying mantle rocks enough to make them less dense and plastic enough for them to form convection cells like you see in a pan of nearly boiling water. Hotter and less dense rocks float up towards Earth’s harder crust and spread out (carrying surface crust and even lighter continental rocks, i.e., ‘plates’) to become cool enough for gravitational force to pull the solidified plates back towards the molten core in subduction zones that also form oceanic trenches.

Heat transported from radioactive decay is released into the hydrosphere and atmosphere from conduction through the crust + hot springs and geysers; by molten basalt lava coming to the surface in oceanic and terrestrial spreading (‘rift zones’); and volcanoes associated with localized ‘hot spots of rising magma or with the rift zones. Lavas associated with the latter type of volcanoes are formed of lighter, lower melting point rocks forming a scum on top of the denser crustal rocks of the drifting plates.

Hydrosphere

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Thermohaline_circulation.svg

Earth’s hydrosphere is the thin film of water between the geosphere and atmosphere forming the salty Ocean covering around 70% of the planetary surface along with lakes and streams of generally nearly salt-free water serving as feeding tendrils draining water condensed from the land. The hydrosphere also includes a solid component of ice and a gaseous component of vapor. These components have very different properties compared to water and each other.

The liquid component of the hydrospheric heat engine absorbs solar energy in the form of heat warming volumes of water, in the form of latent heat of fusion (i.e., melting of ice) absorbing about 80 cal/gm of ice melted, and latent of vaporization (i.e., turning liquid water into an atmospheric gas) absorbing about 540 cal/gm of water vaporized (6.75 times as much energy as required to melt the gm of ice). The heat absorbed becomes ‘latent’ in that the energy transforms the state from liquid to solid or from liquid to gas without changing the measurable or feel-able (i.e., ‘sensible’) temperature of the mass. When the water vapor condenses or the water freezes, of course the latent energies are released in the form of sensible heat.

Basically, the hydrospheric heat engine is driven by the absorption of excess amounts solar radiation (the source) in equatorial, tropical, and subtropical regions of the planet that is mainly carried by ocean currents towards the polar and sub-polar regions where the an excess of heat energy released from water and freezing ice is carried away from the planet in the form of long-wave infrared radiation to the cold sink of outer space. Many different local, regional, and global ocean currents are involved in moving energy around the planetary sphere. Proportionately, a small amount of geothermal heat energy is absorbed from the geospheric heat engine by water, and larger amounts of heat are exchanged with the atmospheric heat engine(s) in a variety of ways.

Water has some very peculiar properties that play very important roles in the climate system and biospheric systems, especially around the freezing point. Most materials contract and become denser as they cool. This is also true for pure water, down to a temperature of 4 °C when it begins to expand and become less dense until it begins to freeze. Ice at 0°C is even lighter such that it easily floats. This is because water molecules are shaped like boomerangs with the oxygen atom at the apex and the two hydrogen atoms sticking out at angles. When they are warmer they jitter around in a relatively random way, such that warming makes the molecules jitter faster and further, while as they cool the jitter slows and they come closer such that a given number of molecules take up less space. As the jitter slows further at and below 4 °C, molecules tend to spread out some to form a quasi crystalline structure approaching that of ice where they are more or less locked into that structure, where the solid water is significantly lighter than the liquid. The presence of dissolved salts and minerals depresses the freezing temperature. As as ice freezes, crystallization of the water also tends to concentrate and expel dissolved minerals and gases in extra-cold plumes of particularly dense and very cold salty water (i.e., brine) — cold enough that tubes of ice may form from the less salty water around the brine.

Water is also a god solvent, able to carry substantial amounts of gases, (e.g., oxygen, CO2, methane – CH4), salts, carbonates, nitrates, sulfates, metal ions, etc). The ocean carries a lot of salt – enough to play an important role in the ocean circulation system. Oxygen and CO2 play essential roles in living systems, CO2 and carbonates play important roles in interactions between water, the Geosphere and the atmosphere. CO2 and methane in the atmosphere, along with water vapor, are the most important greenhouse gases, etc…..

The principal current system driving ocean heat transport is known as the ‘thermohaline circulation‘. Basically, seawater is warmed in the equatorial, tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It also increases in density due to the evaporation of water vapor into the atmosphere. However, parcels of water are kept hot enough that thermal expansion more than compensates for the densification from becoming saltier. However, as currents carry the hot, salty surface water further towards the poles, the water begins to cool until the warm salty water carrying a full load of oxygen becomes dense enough around 4 °C to sink through layers of still warmish but less salty water, carrying a full load of oxygen down to the bottom of the ocean. The salt in this descending water is diluted by mixing with relatively fresh ice water from terrestrial runoffs, melting glacial and sea ice, etc sourced from zones even closer to the poles than where the dense salty water normally sinks.

The main source of power that drives the thermohaline circulation heat engine is the conversion gravitational potential energy in the sinking masses of water as they sink to the ocean floor this sinking helps to pull surface waters into the ‘sinkhole’. Further assists to the circulation are provided by prevailing atmospheric winds pushing surface waters away from continental shores, pulling up cold, deoxygenated, CO2 and mineral rich deep waters to the surface where they fertilize the blooms of micro-algae that add more oxygen and feed the whole food chains of larger organisms in the oceans.

Atmosphere

Biosphere

The global sea surface temperature anomaly broke into all-time record for the day of the year around 15 March, suggesting that the average rate of warming may be shifting into a new regime where the rate of ocean-surface warming is skyrocketing.

24 June 2023

Sea ice

Around the same time the global average sea-surface temperature began to skyrocket, the rate of sea-ice formation around Antarctica slowed — as would be expected if the surrounding ocean was becoming progressively warmer than has ever before been the case for this time of the year.

Anomalies in the areas covered by polar sea ice on 23 June. Note

Sea ice extent anomaly is strongest in the Weddell Sea region

So far, melting of the Arctic sea ice has not been particularly exceptional. With regard to sea-ice at both poles, it is also important to consider thickness and volume. Ice that is only a meter or two thick is accumulated in the winter when there is no solar heating (sun largely or completely below the horizon) normally only a year old. Solid ice reflects most of the solar energy heating it. However, the thinner the ice is, the faster it can melt as it begins to heat under the summer sun and possibly even rain(!), to say nothing of warm currents from the tropics. Around the North Pole, all of the bluish and purple ice shown in the map below can disappear fairly quickly as summer continues to leave open ocean to absorb most of the solar energy striking it that will delay freezing in the following winter. (Danish Arctic Research Institutions Polar Portal).

Jetstreams

Continental effects

Northern Hemisphere

Plots are from https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/access/monitoring/climate-at-a-glance/global/time-series/nhem/land/all/1/1850-2023

Is all this part of an early warning that a tipping point is being approached…. Or is it the real thing?

See: Lenton (2011) Early warning of climate tipping points

Intensity of observation

A hint to how much you can trust claims of reality denying trolls, puppets, and the like, is provided by the number monitoring points that physically monitor the atmosphere at those locations around the surface of the planet we live on used PER DAY.

Atmospheric monitoring

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) for the charts plotted on 25 June 2023 as shown below are based on measurements from 173,296 locations. Note 1: this map does not NOT include ocean monitoring points. Note 2: The DATA COLLECTED EVERY DAY by this web of sensors is available to, used, and interpreted by several different national and institutional climate monitoring centers. In other words, the conclusions are cross checked between different centers many times over. The charts above depict scientific facts, not hunches and personal opinions.

Oceanographic monitoring

Argo

Argo floats profiles physical properties of the surrounding water, minimally ocean temperature, salinity, pressure (i.e., depth). Each float operates on a 10 day cycle, spending most of the cycle ‘resting’ at an intermediate depth. On the 10th day it sinks to a specified depth and begins recording inputs from its sensors as it floats up to the surface. The standard float sinks to a depth of 2 km (2,000 m) and records all the way up to the surface, where it then determines its GPS position to within a few meters and messages a passing relay satellite with its location and profile data before sinking to its resting depth waiting for the next profile position. As shown on the world map here, printed 26 June 2023, shows the locations of profiles received over the last 10 days (i.e., only the last cycle of currently operational floats): 3,625 profiles. Of these 1,481 recorded the profile from 2 km deep in the ocean to the surface. Some floats are designed to sink to the bottom and thus record a profile for the full depth of the ocean. A few include several additional sensors to levels for things like acidity, oxygen, nitrate, light level, and some more I don’t recognize. The Argo system is really quite amazing.

Some even have ice sensors allowing them to operate even in ice-covered waters by warning if they might be fatally damaged by striking ice overhead. For these, if they sense ice, they’ll record the profile in memory, and drop back and rest until the next cycle (which may again prevent surfacing). These interrupted cycles will keep repeating until the float can safely surface — in which case all of the aborted profiles will be messaged to the satellite relay along with the current one (better late than never!)

And then there is a plethora of other ocean sensor systems. The full gamut of them shown next. The various different types are named in the legend. Collectively, on 26 June 2023, the ocean sensing system measuring in-situ variables includes 7973 ‘platforms’ (including the different kinds of Argo Floats) and results from 104 ‘cruises’ of ships ranging from specialized oceanographic vessels to fishing boats. Some of these non-Argo systems also record partial or complete (i.e., to the bottom) profiles.

And then there are the numerous remote sensing satellite systems………. whose data fill gaps between physical sensors and whose measurements are cross calibrated between physical and remote sensors.

Almost all of the data collected from the range of sensors is freely accessible via the public World Wide Web.

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

Northern globe burning & El Niño is just starting

Northern Hemisphere summer is just starting but heat and wildfire records are already shattered over three continents! Oz + El Niño + summer?

The 6 June 2023 Washington Post gives us a bit of a hint of the kinds of conditions humans are likely to face over the next few years if we fail to stop our accelerating slide down the road to extinction as our global climate system flips from its semistable Glacial/Interglacial cycle to its Hothouse Earth state. We need climate emergency action now!

Smoke billows upward from a planned ignition by firefighters tackling the Donnie Creek Complex wildfire south of British Columbia on Saturday. (B.C. Wildfire Service/Reuters) / from the article

Ian LivingstonDan Stillman and Jason Samenow – 06/06/2023, Washington Post

Extreme heat, wildfires wreaking havoc with hottest months still ahead

The oceans are record warm while heat waves have invaded multiple continents and ice levels are at historic lows.

Spring has only just begun to transition to summer in the Northern Hemisphere, but some of the season’s most odious and dangerous extreme weather is already running rampant.

Prolonged and punishing heat waves in Asia have sent temperatures soaring to 100 degrees as far north as Siberia and above 110 degrees in Thailand and Vietnam, breaking records.

Wildfires are raging in Canada, which has never seen so much land burn so early in the year. They come after a record-warm May.

Extreme conditions extend to the Southern Hemisphere too, where record warmth and historically low sea ice levels linger even as that part of the globe enters winter.

The extremes are all connected to ocean waters that have hovered at record-warm levels for months, boosted by human-caused climate change. The weather chaos could escalate in the coming months as summer temperatures peak and a developing El Niño elevates air and water temperatures worldwide further.

Read the complete article….

Compare what is happening this year in Canada with what was observed by Hall 2016:

See the complete presentation….

And then the 2020 wildfires on the Siberian permafrost and taiga as summarised by Hall 2020:

Apparently the situation this year in early June, which is still very early in the normal temperate and subpolar climate zones of the Northern Hemishere, is already significantly worse than either the whole years of 2016 and 2020.

Where climate change is concerned, in 2023 before the year is halfway finished, indicators of the progress of global warming are already of the map into previously uncharted territories.

This post here only adds to alarms being set off by Climate Sentinel News‘s posts of the last few days (click thumbnails to read the posts):

What can we do to turn off the road to extinction in Hothouse Earth before it is too late?

In a few days VoteClimateOne.org and affiliated organizations will be launching our “Tools for Changing Government Minds”. The need for change is too urgent to depend on replacing people in office. Instead we have to change the minds of the existing people in office. Our launch document(s) will provide access to the tools, explain how to use them, and provide an armory full of nuggets of knowledge to be used as ammunition.

The first nugget to be fired at your local representative from as many different sources as possible is: (again click the thumbnail to open the file):

We need climate emergency action now! to get it started email the link to or post a copy of the document above to your federal and state MPs and senators with your own comments: If they don’t immediately start acting on the climate emergency that they will be history come the next election. Actions must include declaring (or passing legislation) that they recognize that we have to fight an existential emergency and all parliamentarians must get off their arses to shut down all sources of carbon emissions and begin mobilization to develop genuinely globally scalable technologies for capturing carbon from past emissions and safely sequestering the captured carbon in soils or in the deep oceans.

You can start doing this today if you want. You are welcome to link to or download and print any of the Climate Sentinel News posts that will help drive home the points you want to make in your cover note.

The basic idea of the campaign is very simple.

What politician is going to continue working as a puppet for special interests against first a few letters on the climate action theme, then tens, then hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands and possibly even hundreds of thousands specifically addressed to him/her with the message act or else…… The mailing lists exist, we are crafting proforma covering documents, etc..

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

Australian MPs: Act now! Later may be too late!

Human activities are triggering self-reinforcing existential climate risks that are growing more lethal with time — our extinction is likely

Over the last 200 years prodigious amounts of carbon-based fossil fuels (coal, oil, methane) have been burned to produce waste gases (mostly CO₂) and useful energy to drive the Industrial Revolution, our affluence, our toys, our technologies, our wars, and everything that has followed. The fossil carbon humans have extracted from the Earth and burned in an instant of geological time took our planet millions of years to accumulate and store in the geosphere (i.e., rocks & soil). In the same geological instant, the waste gases released from the burning are fundamentally changing Earth’s atmosphere (the air we breathe, etc…). Because of the physical properties of CO₂ molecules and other atmospheric emissions, this has trapped enough additional solar heat in the atmosphere to significantly raise average temperatures around the world. In turn, the added heat is already causing unprecedented climatic disasters. These existential climate risks will only become more frequent and catastrophic as temperatures continue to rise. (See CO2: Past, Present, & Future – one of many dozens of articles covering the same facts, and Climate apocalypse).

However, natural regulatory processes in the climate system have kept the environment stable enough for more than 800,000 years up until the 20th Century – enough time for humans to evolve and develop the social systems, agriculture, technology, and cultural riches we benefit from today.

Image modified from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Atmospheric CO2 levels (blue line) and temperature (red line) from year 1,000 to 1978. Data for CO2 from Vostok ice core, Law Dome ice core, and Mauna Loa air samples. Data for temperature from Vostok ice core. CO2 measured here is in parts per million (ppm = by weight), which is similar to ppmv (by volume).

As shown in the graphs above, the shock to the composition of the atmosphere caused by these human generated changes is increasingly disrupting natural climate regulation. If we do not quickly stop and repair the damage we have done to the atmosphere, then over the next few decades increasingly extreme, frequent and extensive climate changes and catastrophes will be causing more death and destruction to our societies than we have the capacity to repair. In turn, this climate collapse will lead to agricultural, economic and social collapse followed by mass die-offs and probable human extinction within a century or two.

Business as usual cannot cope with a global systems breakdown. Nor can uncoordinated individual actions. However, at least for a few more years before systems breakdown has progressed too far, we should still be able to assemble the technology and knowledge to avoid this doom. Beginning with primitive Victorian era steam-punk technologies backed by a very limited scientific understanding of climate and geophysics, humans took over 150 years to burn enough fossil fuel to accidentally cause the present crisis. Today we have now developed a deep and detailed scientific understanding of how the world works and vastly more powerful technologies. With will, leadership, and cooperation at international, national, state, and local areas we should be able to locate, diagnose and repair aspects of the climate system we have broken to re-stabilize it in a state we can live with.

However, to do this we will have to revolutionise many of our governments. We need to change them from their usual businesses of representing and working for the special interests of their donors, patrons and puppet masters (many of them associated with fossil fuel industries), to a new business of truly representing the needs of the citizens they supposedly represent – – especially in the face of the growing climate crisis.

If you are an MP, you need to join this revolution!

The factual scientific evidence of the consequence we face if we fail to stop and reverse global warming is overwhelming. However, I recognize that a life in politics where almost everything can be ‘negotiated’ does not prepare most politicians to understand the difference between responding to non-negotiable facts of physical reality and the business-as-usual of getting elected/re-elected and trading influence.

In the remainder of this work I present some of the overwhelming evidence of the dangers we face from an increasingly destabilised climate system driven by unrestrained global warming, and why our governments must change and act if we are to have any hope of surviving the existential global crisis this is causing. Because this evidence is based on scientific laws developed over some 400 years of testing and practical use, it is totally independent of whatever people might want to ‘believe’ now about how the world works

Laws of physics, geology, chemistry and biology

The scientific laws of physics and chemistry describe how the universe we live in works, irrespective of anything we humans might want to believe. Because atoms and molecules work the way they do, burning carbon releases ‘greenhouse’ (i.e., heat trapping) gases into the atmosphere. Because the increased concentration of these gases in the atmosphere traps reduces the amount of solar energy leaving our planet, the world is growing warmer.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration‘s (NOAA) Mauna Loa observatory’s records show the longest available continuous series of meticulous(!) measurements of important greenhouse gases. Variation in the two most important gases are shown below. The amount of these gases in the atmosphere increased every year since the recording began (except for methane which showed slight decreases in three out of 5 years beginning in 2000). More importantly, the rate of CO₂ increase has also increased in 5 of the 6 decades in the record (i.e., it’s getting worse even faster now than it was earlier!). These kinds of graphs are based on many discrete observations taken every day for many years at particular locations (in this case Mauna Loa, Hawaii) that are replicated by similar observations from other stable locations around the world (e.g., Cape Grim, Tasmania – see also CSIRO Atmospheric Composition and Chemistry).

NOAA Carbon Cycle Greenhouse Gases / Trends in CO₂ (carbon dioxide) / Trends in CH₄ (methane). The average amounts of gas are plotted (red dots) on a monthly basis. The average increase in the amounts of gas are plotted yearly.  Source gml.noaa.gov.

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere act as a thermal blanket causing the Earth’s temperature to rise by reducing the amount of solar heat lost to space — same heat in, less heat out: inevitably everything covered by the blanket gets warmer. Just how much warmer is measured by the ‘temperature anomaly‘.

It should be no surprise that dumping millions of years worth of carbon accumulation into the atmosphere as greenhouse gases at an accelerating rate over 200 years or so has significantly affected global temperatures.

Berkeley Earth’s Global Temperature Report for 2022 – Posted on by Robert Rohde.
The global mean temperature in 2022 is estimated to have been 1.24 °C (2.24 °F) above the average temperature from 1850-1900, a period often used as a pre-industrial baseline for global temperature targets. This is ~0.03 °C (~0.05 °F) warmer than in 2021. As a result, 2021 is nominally the fifth warmest year to have been directly observed, though the years 2015, 2017, 2018, 2021, and 2022 all cluster closely together relative to their uncertainty estimates. In particular 2022 and 2015 are essentially tied, and 2022 could just as easily be regarded as the 6th warmest year. This global mean temperature in 2022 is equivalent to 0.91 °C (1.64 °F) above the 1951-1980 average, which is often used as a reference period for comparing global climate analyses. The last eight years stand out as the eight warmest years to have been directly observed. (Note: Berkeley Earth’s methodologies and their differences from other groups providing similar global temperature records are described here.)

Around ninety percent of the excess heat Earth absorbs is held in the oceans, and water in its three forms (gas, liquid and ice) is the main transporter for distributing that energy around the planet.

OCEAN HEAT CONTENT CHANGES SINCE 1955 (NOAA)
Data source: Observations from various ocean measurement devices, including conductivity-temperature-depth instruments (CTDs), Argo profiling floats, and eXpendable BathyThermographs (XBTs). Credit: NOAA/NCEI World Ocean Database. A more detailed graph including additional measurements from instrumented mooring arrays, and ice-tethered profilers (ITPs) covers the period 1992 – 2022. Credit NASA ECCO. Covering more than 70% of Earth’s surface, our global ocean has a very high heat capacity. It has absorbed 90% of the warming that has occurred in recent decades due to increasing greenhouse gases, and the top few meters of the ocean store as much heat as Earth’s entire atmosphere.
Note: If you want to grasp how many and what kinds of precision measurements – cross-checked across a variety of measurement platforms go into constructing these graphs, I suggest taking the time to go through one of ECCO’s presentations: ECCO: Integrating Ocean and Water.

Water (= H₂O) is a major component in the climate system and the main carrier of energy driving weather and climate change.

Each of water’s three physical states: water vapour (=gas), liquid water, and frozen water (=ice), together with transitions between the three states, all play important roles in the absorption, storage, transport, and release of heat around the planet. In its own right water vapour is also the most important and variable greenhouse gas.

Of all the natural materials forming the outer layers of the Earth, water has the second highest heat capacity of any known chemical compound. A lot of energy needs to be absorbed or released to warm or cool a quantity of water by even one degree — the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of 1 gm water by 1 °C at standard pressure and temperature has its own name, the calorie. (An old unit of measure, but the easiest to follow here.) This same amount of heat is released when the 1 gm cools by 1°. To raise the temperature of 1.3 sextillion litres just by 1° of the world’s oceans takes the absorption of a humongous amount of heat!

Water (Hydrosphere) and Air (Atmosphere)

Water in the world Ocean

At temperatures above 4 °C, water expands as it warms. In other words, a parcel of water composed of a given number of molecules occupying space expands in volume as it warms from 4 °C to boiling. Thus, as the ocean warms, sea levels rise. Water running off the land from melting glaciers and ice sheets causes sea levels to rise further and faster.

Warmer waters lying over cooler waters of the same salt content tend not to mix. However, as warm salt water evaporates, salt is left behind, making the remaining surface water denser, until it becomes heavier than cooler water below, allowing the warm water to sink and mix with the cooler water. This helps to suck in ocean currents to replace parcels of the cooling saltier water as they become denser and sink into the depths.

Thus, ocean currents are important engines for transporting heat around the globe.

Water in the atmosphere

Boiling or evaporating 1 gm of liquid water to gas (i.e., invisible steam) at one atmosphere of pressure takes approximately 540 calories of energy (= heat of vaporisation/evaporation)! Similarly, when H₂O gas condenses to form visible steam (i.e., a mist of liquid water) the same energy of vaporisation is released as heat.

When liquid water freezes to form solid ice it releases ~80 calories/gm, while 80 calories of energy needs to be extracted from the surrounding environment to freeze 1 gm of liquid water to ice.

The gas laws discovered in the 1800s through practical experience with the thermodynamics of steam and internal combustion engines govern the relationships between temperature, volume, and pressure of gases. As heat energy warms a parcel of gas at a standard pressure, the absorbed energy causes the gas molecules comprising the parcel to move faster – resulting in increased volume (lowering the density of the parcel compared to surrounding parcels that have not changed in temperature). Or, vice versa increasing pressure will cause the gas parcel to heat up. Similarly, cooling gas will shrink in volume (i.e., become more dense) as its temperature decreases, or warming gas will increase its volume becoming less dense as it is heated. This is why parcels of warm air tend to rise in generally cooler air and vice versa.

Finally, another set of laws describes the solubility of water vapour in Earth’s atmosphere, and the solubility of the various gases forming the atmosphere in water. A parcel carrying the maximum concentration of a dissolved material is said to be ‘saturated’. Normally any excess over the point of saturation is precipitated out of the solution. Where precipitation of water vapour in the atmosphere is concerned, the precipitated water is called dew (if it collects on a surface), mist (if the droplets are small enough to remain floating in the atmosphere), rain (if droplets are large enough to fall to the ground) or snow (if it is cold enough for the precipitation of solid water). Hail is precipitated as liquid droplets that coalesce and freeze on the way to the ground. Basically, the capacity for the atmosphere to carry water as dissolved water vapour and the rate at which the vapour evaporates from the liquid increases substantially with temperature.

Note that the process of evaporation absorbs a lot of energy (i.e., the vapour stores the energy that drove the evaporation as latent heat) which is released as sensible heat when the dissolved vapour condenses and precipitates. Warm air can hold a lot of water vapour while cold air can only hold a little vapour. Thus a warm air mass is often able to suck moisture out of vegetation and soils, but as that mass rises in elevation and cools a temperature may be reached where the air is saturated (this is called the ‘dew point‘) and possibly massive amounts of water are precipitated as rain or snow together with the release of huge amounts of latent heat as sensible heat causing the air mass to rise still higher (e.g., into towering anvil topped cumulonimbus clouds). The rising air is liable to suck in high speed winds and possibly even form small and large hail, cyclones, and tornadoes. The higher the temperature of the air mass is when the dew point is reached, the more precipitation, heat and wind is generated.

As global warming increases baseline and average temperatures around the world, the amount of energy contained in parcels of water vapour increases, and thus increases the total amount of energy available to drive extreme weather events.

Water on the land and in the biosphere

Liquid water is a powerful solvent for all kinds of minerals and flows downhill wherever it can. Flowing water is relatively dense, and therefore an important agent for the transport of solid materials ranging from particles of sand to potentially huge boulders and even buildings. Consequently, standing and flowing waters are the major agents of dissolution, erosion and storm damage: especially when combined with storm-force winds.

All living things on Earth are partially comprised of water, with humans being about 60% water and even trees 50% water. The water in and around living things acts a) as a solvent and as a medium of transport for the dissolved gases required for photosynthesis (where this exists) and respiration; b) as a medium of transport for the ions, molecular nutrients and waste products of cellular metabolism and growth; c) as a structural element in the three-dimensional folding of proteins and other macromolecules; and d) as a structural element in the maintenance of hydraulic rigidity of the shapes of cells and vesicles, and even whole organisms. 

Every type of living thing requires the availability of a minimum amount of water of a minimum quality to survive. Conversely, too much water and/or water of the wrong quality (i.e., it may be transporting harmful substances as particles or in solution) or wrong temperature (i.e., the shapes and activities of proteins involved in metabolism unavoidably change with changing temperature) may also kill.

Air in the water

Atmospheric gases (e.g., nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide) are more soluble in cold water than warm water. In other words, cold water can carry a lot more dissolved O₂ and CO₂ than warm water can.

CO₂ is relatively soluble in water because it readily forms carbonic acid. This is important for global warming because the oceans currently absorb about 30% of all global CO₂ emissions, thus slowing the rise of global temperatures due to the greenhouse effect. However, this is bad news for life on Planet Earth for three reasons: First, as the gas is increasingly absorbed into the water some of it turns into carbonic acid. This makes the water more acidic, dissolving calcium from shells and bones – contributing to the die off of plankton, corals, shellfish and bony fish. Secondly, given that CO₂ is the waste product of respiration it slows the respiration of all marine and aquatic organisms. Three, as water temperature rises CO₂ becomes substantially less soluble. This can be catastrophic for global warming because it acts like a time bomb. Rising temperatures drive significant amounts of CO₂ out of solution in the ocean, back into the atmosphere, where it acts as a positive feedback driving global temperatures still higher in a potentially vicious cycle.

O₂’s solubility in water is limited, but dissolved O₂ is critical to life for all complex organisms that respire water. This includes all aquatic or oceanic organisms: many bacteria, most protozoa, single-celled and multicellular algae (net O₂ producers by day, overnight they must extract O₂ at night for respiration) up to whole forests of giant kelp, giant squids, whale-sharks, and the largest whales. In the pre-industrial world O₂ levels in most waters were close to saturation. Any degree of warming beyond what species are adapted to live in reduces the amount of O₂ the water can carry. Species will begin dying when the O₂ levels fall below levels the different species have evolved to tolerate. For example, along the Southern California coast where I grew up, whole forests of giant kelp die off when the ocean temperature rises to around 23 °C. So do the myriad of other species living in those forests that may still be able to respire, because at some to many points in their lifecycles they required something the kelp provided. Other kelp forests around the world, and in Australia are also dying off, e.g., the once rich kelp forests of Tasmania – possibly even more comprehensively than they have in California (e.g., northern Tasmania).

And then there are the horrific die-off events in the rivers and lakes of Australia’s Murray-Darling region, where the combination of blistering heat combined with off-the-charts CO₂ levels is absolutely lethal to whole ecosystems. This year’s event even killed carp that can breathe air!

How will our Atmosphere, Hydro-/Cryo-sphere, Geosphere and Biosphere respond to global warming on the real Planet Earth?

Meteorology, climate science, earth systems science extend the basic laws of physics, chemistry and a little bit of biology into the real world. However, even a brief review of some of the basic laws of physics and chemistry above for water, oxygen, and CO₂ gives some hint of just how complex weather and climate change really are. Earth’s Climate System that generates weather and climate change in the world we live in is a complex dynamical system composed of probably hundreds of variables often interacting with one another in non-linear. Some of these interactions are poorly understood or even unrecognised even by the scientists studying them.

Even though the Earth System is absolutely and fundamentally governed by the physical laws of nature, trying to predict future weather and climate conditions is fraught with difficulties of two kinds. First, complex systems of many variables, where some of the variables have non-linear positive feedback relations with one another, often behave chaotically under some or even many conditions. (See also climate change feedback.) Second, is that some of the variables are probably still unknown to science or not well understood. Even the largest supercomputers in the world capable of performing more than 100 quadrillion calculations per second and working with millions of daily observations from around the world can only make usefully accurate weather predictions out to around 8 days before wandering off into random noise.

For these reasons, predicting the future trends of global warming with a high degree of accuracy and certainty is frankly impossible.  However, what is almost certain is that if we do not stop and reverse the process of global warming there will be major disruptions to all of these systems which will make much of the Earth uninhabitable for complex life.

How trustworthy are the sciences and the warnings?

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) deals with the uncertainties by running large numbers of similar earth/climate system models (ensembles) with slightly varying inputs on supercomputers to forecast possible future trends and their likelihoods. These outputs are analysed statistically to determine frequent trends and the range of uncertainties around these trends. Thus, many believe that the models give us a relatively good idea of how changes in specific environmental variables are likely to change the climate.

Unfortunately, with regard to managing climate risks, the reality is that this approach is too conservative because:

  • It filters out some or all of the instances of chaotic extreme deviations from the likely results because these are usually considered to be consequences of “system breakdown” in what is assumed to be a bad model — even though system breaking ‘exponential blow-ups’ are to be expected in complex dynamical systems. In other words, the bad result where the model ‘breaks down’ may well be a realistically valid prediction of the model.
  • Most scientists agree that the RATE of climate change is increasing with time. However, the delays in knowledge flow between observation of reality and assessment and presentation of results mean that there is a lag built into the IPCC reports.  That is, the delays inherent in analysing and writing up the results, delays in conducting peer review and publishing the original research, conceiving and constructing and running the mathematical models based on those results to forecast the future, analysing and writing up the results of the modelling, delays in publishing these results; and then comes the added time cost to incorporate the published results in an IPCC Report. This IPCC process alone takes a minimum of 2-3 additional years of three drafts, two peer reviews, and a final sign-off by the political appointees of the 170 countries comprising the UN’s World Meteorological Organization. Thus, the years-old input data providing a baseline for the models’ predictions necessarily do not include the array of record-breaking temperature, greenhouse gas, and weather readings associated with the increasingly extreme weather events of the last few years.
  • Finally most IPCC scientists are associated with academic and research institutions funded by governments, where academic progress and promotions depend on not being too novel or controversial (i.e., exhibiting ‘scientific reticence‘). This leads to scientific self-censorship — downplaying alarming findings, reinforced by the need that IPCC Reports require political approvals by government appointees to be published.

The following graphic is the IPCC’s own depiction of their authoring and review process.

The graphic and a comprehensive description of IPCC’s writing and review processes are given in their document, Preparing Reports. In turn, even more detail on how each kind of document is prepared, reviewed and signed off is provided in the IPCC [Documentation] Procedures, according to the the Principles Governing IPCC Work that lay down the role, organisation and procedures of the IPCC. These guiding Principles establish comprehensiveness, objectivity, openness and transparency for all IPCC Work
.

Note, this and other issues with the IPCC’s predictions are examined in detail in my presentation: Some fundamental issues relating to the science underlying climate policy: The IPCC and COP26 couldn’t help but get it wrong.

Thus, when the formal IPCC reports publish their predictions for the future consequences: it follows that this is a gold-standard, scientifically correct but somewhat rose-tinted statement of the best possible outcomes we can hope for from the present state of the escalating climate emergency. The actual future is most likely to be worse, or even more worse. 

Given all of these factors, it is virtually impossible that the IPCC reports are in any way overstating the magnitude and dangers of the climate crisis.  Those who claim the IPCC reports are ‘alarmist’ are seriously misinformed or else aim to be deliberately misleading.

How do we know all of this?

There is a vast array of direct observational evidence from the real world (e.g., the graphs of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations and rising global temperatures presented above) showing that our global climate is already deteriorating at historically and even geologically unprecedented rates. A few recent observations sample this kind of evidence.

Identifying, analysing, and managing climate risks

Most climate scientists have backgrounds in mathematics, physics or geology where they are used to working with well behaved regular systems — not complex dynamical systems with potentially chaotic and unknown variables where the models are inherently fallible in their predictions of the future. Although the mathematical theory of chaos emerged from early attempts to model climate, few have any formal grounding in complex systems or chaos theory. Consequently, they tend to believe their models can predict the future with some degree of statistical accuracy, rather than accepting that models are good for explaining what can happen but not what will or won’t happen.

Scientists (including a few climate scientists) who continue to deny that current climate change is mainly due to human activity are often used to dealing with changes over long periods of time, where natural and well understood processes are more or less adequate to explain how climate has changed in the past.  Many of today’s deniers formed their opinions years ago (e.g. 1980s) when even climate specialists actively debated the extent and causes of climate change.  In people prone to denial, ‘confirmation bias’ then begins to reinforce conclusions, where data fitting their belief is eagerly accepted, but seemingly contradictory data is critically scrutinised and rejected. 

Over time, with the overwhelming additional data supporting unnaturally accelerated climate temperatures on land, air and sea, almost all genuine climate scientists have come to conclude that human activities are in fact changing the climate.  The holdouts are usually in those other disciplines that have a default assumption that natural processes always explain changes in climate.

And then, there are those who have totally unscientific reasons for denying that humans cause climate change.Following on my career as an evolutionary biologist (PhD Harvard 1973) with strong backgrounds in geology, physics, systems sciences (systems ecology, genetic systems, cybernetics), I was employed for 17 years as a knowledge management systems analyst and designer with what became Tenix and then Tenix Defence through the life-cycle of “Australia’s most successful naval surface combatant project – by far” – the ANZAC ship project. I worked very closely with the company’s engineering systems analysts and risk managers (often the same people did both). The ANZAC Project was so successful because the prime contract was performance-based rather than specifications based. We were contracted to deliver for a fixed price certain capabilities and reliabilities in service rather than meticulously detailed products.

Large defence systems – especially like warships and aircraft with their multitudes of subsystems, assemblies and piece parts, are complex dynamical systems that are inherently but unpredictably fallible due to unanticipated dynamics, human errors, or unpredictable failures of critical parts. It was the job of contract analysts, systems engineers, design engineers and knowledge managers (me), to work out a ship design and construction process that could be trusted to meet the customers’ requirements within the negotiated fixed price.

Failure Modes Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA)

The critical analytical tool in Tenix’s success, apparently unknown to climate science, is application of the Military Standard, Failure Modes Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA) within a risk analytical and management framework. Briefly, this involves (1) tabulating all conceivable failures and the potential consequence of the particular failure mode (i.e., its criticality) for every component of the system that might have a detrimental effect on the system’s safety or functionality, (2) preparing at least a matrix for every failure mode showing the approximate likelihood of failure, and (optionally) the likely consequences/costs to the system should the failure occur, and the costs to repair or mitigate the mode.

Applying FMECA to global warming

Should we ignore a risk because its consequences are so severe we fear accepting that it is real?

The following graphic plots an analytical matrix for the risk of human extinction from a failure to stop global warming at a safe global temperature for human survival. A serious analysis of this risk (that is unthinkable to many) demands examining the physical realities associated with each dimension of the matrix and looking for solutions to reduce consequences and likelihood of the risk happening, and to provide the maximum time possible to manage it; or alternatively, to entirely avoid the activities causing the risk. Unfortunately, given that the risk from global warming is associated with the project to power industrial, technological, and population growth by burning fossil fuels that began 150 years ago. Thus we have no choices but to live or die with the consequences arising from this project.

Slides 10 and 76 from Hall (2016). The angst of global warming – our species’ existential risk

Our planning to manage the risk must consider the third dimension — TIME. How much time do we have to manage the risk if we are to avoid its consequences? The possible consequences of the risk are existential – i.e., extinction of human society as we know it or even the entire species. The probability is likely to be certain if we do not stop and reverse global warming. The timescale is imminent, i.e., within the expected lifespan of today’s children.

Should we heed the science and the warnings?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established by the United Nations to research and provide the “best” scientific advice available to governments of the world regarding the science, trends, and likely progress of climate change. The Panel’s staff is selected and overseen by all the member states of the World Meteorological Organization. The peer review is exhaustive and intensive – probably more so than for any other scientific endeavour ever.

For reasons I have detailed it would be virtually impossible for any formal publication of the IPCC to overstate the dangers represented by climate change. Where the IPCC says that even the current trends will be catastrophic if realised, I would say that they are ‘existential’: A word the IPCC rarely uses and never defines.

Most dictionaries (e.g., see OneLook Dictionary Search) only define the word in terms of ‘existentialism’ – a branch of philosophy. In discussion of the climate crisis, in the framework of global catastrophic risk, “an existential danger threatens the very existence of something” (ref. Macmillan Dictionary).

The Wikipedia article on Global Catastrophic Risk defines “existential” in these terms:

Existential risks are defined as “risks that threaten the destruction of humanity’s long-term potential.” The instantiation of an existential risk (an existential catastrophe) would either cause outright human extinction or irreversibly lock in a drastically inferior state of affairs. Existential risks are a subclass of global catastrophic risks, where the damage is not only global but also terminal and permanent, preventing recovery and thereby affecting both current and all future generations.Note: This discussion of definitions may seem to be highly pedantic. It isn’t. It is deadly serious. Humanity faces a serious risk of triggering a global mass extinction event akin to the End Permian event that was “Earth’s most severe known extinction event,[11][12] with the extinction of 57% of biological families, 83% of genera, 81% of marine species[13][14][15] and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species.[16] It is the largest known mass extinction of insects.[17]If you are declaring a state of emergency, it does not help to describe the emergency in soothing terms.

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

More on our warming World Ocean’s revenge…

Following on from my May 22 post, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology is raising warning flags that the impending El Niño will be the worst yet.

There is actually a lot more on the front burner than El Niño. There are signs we may have just crossed a catastrophic ocean tipping point over the last three and a half months. The following thread of tweets and news items summarizes a very scary thread of observational data.

We may have broken Earth’s Thermohaline Circulation.

The data based on millions of satellite observations and hundreds of thousands of Argo Float profiles of ocean temperature, salinity and density suggests that the driver of major ocean currents distributing excess heat around the world has stopped working because it is choked with relatively hot and relatively fresh water.

In 2020 Argo collected 12,000 data profiles each month (400 a day) or around 436,500 profiles a year. Each profile provides for each increment of depth a a record of the variation in ocean temperatures, salinity, and pressure from 2,000 m deep to the surface, together with the precise global positioning coordinates where the probe surfaced.

In the past water flowing into the polar regions was quite salty because a lot of moisture evaporated from the surface in tropical and sub-tropical regions, leaving the salt behind to make the water more dense. However, because the water was hot the density was somewhat lowered due to thermal expansion it stayed on the surface because it floated over the surface of cooler but fresher water. As the salty water flowed into polar regions it cooled enough that even though it was being diluted by precipitation and runoff from melting snow and ice on the land, the cooling and increasingly diluted water become dense enough sink under the warm salty waters drawn towards the poles by the sinking polar waters. This circulation also carried oxygen into the depths and nutrients from the depths towards the surface in areas where deep water wells up to replace the surface water flowing towards the poles in tropical and temperate areas.

Wikipedia: Thermohaline circulation (THC) is a part of the large-scale ocean circulation that is driven by global density gradients created by surface heat and freshwater fluxes.

However, as global average temperatures rise and more heat is trapped in the ocean evaporation everywhere puts more moisture into the air that falls as rain in tropical and subtropical areas, diluting the warmer ocean surface waters. In polar and sub-polar areas the increased moisture greatly increasing the runoff from the land from rain and melting snow and ice, that further dilutes the increasingly diluted ocean surface water flowing into polar regions from tropical and subtropical areas.

The result is that the thermohaline conveyors driving the major ocean currents are probably being choked and possibly being completely stopped by masses of water that are too hot and dilute to sink. Even worse, the warm dilute water washing against the ice sheets and glaciers reaching the ocean melts ice at an increasing rate making the surface waters even fresher.

On 26 May, 2023 we are seeing an all-time low extent of sea ice since the satellite record began in 1979. http://kjpluck.github.io/seaice/

Denmark’s Polar Portal (below) shows the melting of the multi-year Arctic sea ice from its winter peak in June 2004 until now. [Click the picture to load the live site, scroll up to to see the “Sea Ice Thickness and Volume” title. Note the grey slider bar below the map. Click the “Animate Monthly” to load the animation — which will take some time to download the data. You may use the slider to scroll through the series of monthly maps, or you can control buttons below the slider to start and stop the animation or step back or forward one month at a time. The red color represents multi-year ice around 4 meters thick, lavender to blue ice is single year ice less than about 1.5 m thick.]

Note, there is an interesting but deadly physical twist here: As water temperature drops below 4 °C cold/freezing fresh water floats on top of warmer relatively salty water, and freezes-over in the winter at higher temperatures than saltier water. Paradoxically, floating ice and snow accumulating on the surface actually insulates the lower layer of warm salty water from further cooling, where the winter surface temperature may be 20-50 °C below freezing. However, the fronts of large glaciers flowing into the ocean may be grounded hundreds of meters below sea level or floating on even deeper warm water(!). This means they will still be melting rapidly from the bottom up even in the dead of winter when fresh water is freezing. The ice melt dilutes the polar oceans even more – so say nothing of raising sea levels that will, in turn, lead to the floating of glacier fronts, exposing even more areas to melting.

What is happening as I write this warning?

If you follow the threads and commentary attached to these tweets here, the links show what was happening a week ago.

The following Guardian articles highlight the existential risk we are facing.

Melting ice around Antarctica could cause a 40% slowdown of a global deep ocean current by 2050 if current greenhouse gas emissions continue, according to researchers. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images / from the article

Graham Redfearn – 30/03/2023 in The Guardian

Melting Antarctic ice predicted to cause rapid slowdown of deep ocean current by 2050

New research by Australian scientists suggests 40% slowdown in just three decades could alter world’s climate for centuries.

[Actually, the data presented here suggests that as of the last three months or so this stoppage has already begun!]

Melting ice around Antarctica will cause a rapid slowdown of a major global deep ocean current by 2050 that could alter the world’s climate for centuries and accelerate sea level rise, according to scientists behind new research.

The research suggests if greenhouse gas emissions continue at today’s levels, the current in the deepest parts of the ocean could slow down by 40% in only three decades.

This, the scientists said, could generate a cascade of impacts that could push up sea levels, alter weather patterns and starve marine life of a vital source of nutrients.

Read the complete article….
Antarctica’s Larsen B ice shelf. There has never been less ice around the continent than there was last week. Photograph: staphy/Getty Images/iStockphoto / from the article

Graham Redfearn – 05/03/2023 in The Guardian

‘Everyone should be concerned’: Antarctic sea ice reaches lowest levels ever recorded

With the continent holding enough ice to raise sea levels by many metres if it was to melt, polar scientists are scrambling for answers.

For 44 years, satellites have helped scientists track how much ice is floating on the ocean around Antarctica’s 18,000km coastline.

The continent’s fringing waters witness a massive shift each year, with sea ice peaking at about 18m sq km each September before dropping to just above 2m sq km by February.

But across those four decades of satellite observations, there has never been less ice around the continent than there was last week.

“We are seeing less ice everywhere. It’s a circumpolar event.”

In the southern hemisphere summer of 2022, the amount of sea ice dropped to 1.92m sq km on 25 February – an all-time low based on satellite observations that started in 1979.

Read the complete article….
Melting ice in Antarctica has affected a key global ocean current, research suggests. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images / from the article

Donna Lu – 26/05/2023 in The Guardian

Slowing ocean current caused by melting Antarctic ice could have drastic climate impact, study says

The Southern Ocean overturning circulation has ebbed 30% since the 90s, CSIRO scientist claims, leading to higher sea levels and changing weather.

A major global deep ocean current has slowed down by approximately 30% since the 1990s as a result of melting Antarctic ice, which could have critical consequences for Earth’s climate patterns and sea levels, new research suggests.

Known as the Southern Ocean overturning circulation, the global circulation system plays a key role in influencing the Earth’s climate, including rainfall and warming patterns. It also determines how much heat and carbon dioxide the oceans store.

Scientists warn that its slowdown could have drastic impacts, including increasing sea levels, altering weather patterns and depriving marine ecosystems of vital nutrients.

Read the complete article….

Markus Noll – 23/05/2023 in EarthArXiv

Exponential life-threatening rise of the global temperature

Global temperatures are rising. This paper demonstrates for the first time that the global temperature increase has not been linear but is exponential with a doubling time of about 25 years. Both the amount of carbon dioxide produced by the combustion of fossil fuels and the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have also risen exponentially, with a similar doubling time. The exponential trajectories of rising global temperature, carbon dioxide emission, and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration support the idea that all three are entirely man-made. This analysis shows that during the past 70 years, the increasing use of fossil fuels results more from human activities than population growth, and that reducing the use of fossil fuels by 7.6% each year, the “7.6%-scenario”, can prevent annual global temperatures from surpassing pre-industrial temperatures by 1.6°C, a critical threshold to sustaining life on Earth.

Read the complete article….

Driven by exponentially increasing global temperatures, this process is also very likely to be accelerating at an exponential rate (doubling time of about 25 years).

Or worse!

What I think we are seeing in this data is that we have crossed a chaotically discontinuous ‘tipping point’. Prior to March 12, the thermohaline circulation was slowing as surface waters were gradually becoming warmer and more dilute, and thus less dense, decreasing the sinking rate of the cooling warm salty water that was driving the circulation. Around March 12, the surface waters actually became less dense than the deeper waters and thus stopped sinking at all to begin piling up in the polar regions where they would increase the rate of ice melting to be diluted still further.

With no sinking water to keep the the thermohaline circulation working, it has effectively been jammed and we are now in a totally new climate regime that is likely to get a lot hotter, a lot faster.

If this isn’t a climate emergency, I don’t know what is.

As at May 30, the heat anomaly is still growing. The average surface temperature of the World Ocean is a good 0.2 °C hotter than it has been on this day since the satellite records began in 1979; and it is only 0.1 °C cooler than the hottest temperature ever recorded in this era for any time of the year.

Featured Image

Figure from https://twitter.com/LeonSimons8/status/1663936433801887744/photo/1. “Will a Super El Niño materialize like in 1997 and 2015? What will that mean for global Sea Surface Temperatures? And for global and regional weather extremes?” This seems to be answered by https://twitter.com/LeonSimons8/status/1663195220207362048/photo/1

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

A warming ocean will take its revenge on us

Around 90% of the extra heat trapped by the greenhouse layer warms our Ocean to slow rising temperatures. We’ll pay the price.

The climate scientist, Bill McKibben reminded me of this fact in his regular newsletter, The Crucial Years, in his 18 May post, Maybe we should have called this planet ‘Ocean’. His post on ocean warming begins with an earlier version of the graphic here from ClimateReanalizer. These are updated daily, so the record here is only a day or two behind the current reality:

The page provides time series and map visualizations of daily mean Sea Surface Temperature (SST) from the NOAA Optimum Interpolation SST (OISST) dataset version 2.1. OISST is a 0.25°x0.25° gridded dataset that estimates temperatures based on a blend of satellite, ship, and buoy observations. The OISST data product includes SST anomalies based on 1971–2000 climatology from NOAA. The datset spans 1 January 1982 to present with a 1 to 2-day lag from the current day. OISST files are preliminary for about two weeks until a finalized product file is posted by NOAA. This status is identified on the maps with “[preliminary]” showing in the title, and applies to the time series as well. The time series chart displays area-weighted means of the selected domain. For example, if World 60S-60N is selected, then the SST values shown are area-wieghted means for all ocean gridcells between 60°S and 60°N across all longitudes.

Something very troubling is happening on and under the 70 percent of the planet’s surface covered by salt water. We pay far more attention to the air temperature, because we can feel it (and there’s lots to pay attention to, with record temps across Asia, Canada and the Pacific Northwest) but the truly scary numbers from this spring are showing up in the ocean.

If you look at the top chart above , you can see “anomaly” defined. [His chart was for 11 May. Mine, here, is the temperature on 19 May.]That’s the averaged surface temperature of the earth’s oceans, and beginning in mid-March it was suddenly very much hotter than we’ve measured before. In big datasets for big phenomena, change should be small—that’s how statistics work, and that’s why the rest of the graph looks like a plate of spaghetti. That big wide open gap up there between 2023 and the next hottest year (2016) is the kind of thing that freaks scientists out because they’re not quite sure what it means. Except trouble. [My emphasis]

… A little-noticed [but quite important] recent study headed by Katrina von Schuckmann found that “over the past 15 years, the Earth has accumulated almost as much heat as it did in the previous 45 years,” and that 89 percent of that heat has ended up in the seas. That would be terrifying on its own, but coming right now it’s even scarier. That’s because, after six years dipping in and out of La Nina cooling cycles, the earth seems about to enter a strong El Nino phase, with hot water in the Pacific. El Nino heat on top of already record warm oceans will equal—well, havoc, but of exactly what variety can’t be predicted.

Read the complete article….

McKibben’s second graphic (the up to date version is my “Featured Image”) shows a global plot of temperature anomalies (also compared to the same 1971-1980 baseline) for every ¼° – ¼° square of ocean surface. “Area weighting” is applied because ¼° of latitude (the width of the ‘square) becomes much narrower as either pole is approached, reducing the physical surface area encompassed by the lines on the globe.

Earth’s oceans cover around 70% of the globe’s surface. Despite the 2nd or 3rd week of record breaking heat, wildfires and drought in western North America extending from California through the western 2/5ths of North America into the Arctic Ocean and a second belt in northern Eurasia extending from Scandinavia and Finland to western Siberia, the ocean temperatures are relatively even more extreme. And, in fact, the crazy heat in the warming oceans may be the driving force behind the record land temperatures — and may well be triggering what is likely to be the most extreme El Niño event yet in the climate change record.

In any event, this data doesn’t just freak me out. It suggests that the door to Earth’s Hothouse Hell is beginning to open to suck us in.


Is this data reliable enough to support action?

Where the climate record is concerned, From the beginning of the satellite era, our oceanic temperature record is very good indeed, and not just because satellite remote sensing measures virtually every square degree of most of the globe every day, but the satellites’ measurements are calibrated every day against the ‘ground truth’ measurements from many hundreds of Argo floats surfacing each day from their 9-10 days probing the ocean depths. The graphic below shows the physical locations sampled by Argo floats over the previous month. Added to these are more detailed measurements collected by fleets of oceanographic ships and a few special moored buoys that continuously record measurements from the ocean surface to the abyssal ocean bottom.

Supercomputers amalgamate the raw input data and assemble the kinds of human readable outputs that you and I can understand at a glance. Thanks to the exponential growth of measuring technologies and data processing power the accuracy and detail of our scientific understanding of climate and weather extends far beyond anything we could know in past decades.


How is all the additional heat in the warming ocean likely to affect the planet we live on?

Melting ice

As the atmosphere and oceans absorb more solar energy, some of this excess energy will inevitably be absorbed melting ice in the cooler regions of the planet where ice has existed more-or-less in an equilibrium state, e.g., in the form of glaciers, ice sheets, and sea ice. The energy drives the equilibrium states towards more water and less ice.

One very obvious measure of ice melting is the rapidly shrinking area of the Earth’s surface covered by sea ice around the N and S Poles. Since the beginning of the satellite era this has been able to be measured accurately. The Australian Antarctic Program Partnership and the ARC Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science’s 2023 Science Briefing: On Thin Ice explains what is happening around our local polar ocean

The graphics below show the daily extents of sea ice over both polar oceans since the beginning of the satellite era in 1979 as plotted by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center‘s interactive Charctic application.

Record minimums or maximums are updated annually. Therefore, a newly-set record may not be reflected in the chart until after the annual update.
View additional years by clicking the dates in the legend.
Roll your cursor over the line to see daily sea ice extent values.
Zoom in to any area on the chart by clicking and dragging your mouse.
To see a corresponding daily sea ice concentration image, click on a line in the chart. Sea ice extent is derived from sea ice concentration. Images are not available for the average or standard deviation.
When reusing Charctic images or data, please credit “National Snow and Ice Data Center.”
Currently, some functions do not work in Internet Explorer. We recommend using a different browser.
For more information about the data, see About Charctic data.
If you have questions or problems, please contact NSIDC User Services at [email protected].

What is currently happening in the Antarctic Ocean is also freakish and worrisome!

Rising sea levels

Of course, all the melt water released by melting ice has to go somewhere — i.e., adding to the volume of the World Ocean. As this wasn’t enough, as water warms it also expands to raise the sea levels even more. The graph below from the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, plots the rising tide of the swelling ocean since 1993 through June 2022. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate.Gov site’s Climate Change: Global Sea Level also plots the rise, and considers its implications in more detail.

The Conversation’s May 17 article, Global warming to bring record hot year by 2028 – probably our first above 1.5°C limit, looks at these facts and warns us that the time to act is NOW! CSIRO’s State of the Climate/Oceans covers most of the trends I have discussed here and more…

Daily change in global mean sea level, as measured by satellite altimetry, from January 1993 to June 2022 (solid line), the associated uncertainty at 90% confidence level (shading) and the trend (dashed line). The data have been adjusted for glacial isostatic adjustment and have been corrected for the TOPEX-A instrumental drift during 1993–1998. Data source: CMEMS Ocean Monitoring Indicator based on the C3S sea level product. Credit: C3S/ECMWF/CMEMS. 
https://climate.copernicus.eu/climate-indicators/sea-level

Help! We’re sliding down the slope to Earth’s Hothouse Hell! Sound the sirens and mobilize for WW III against global warming and the existential climate crisis!


As is usual for the UN’s climate pronouncements driven by the UN’s IPCC findings that absolutely establish the dangers we face from global warming/heating, even this klaxon warning understates and downplays the magnitude of the crisis we face.

If we fail to mobilize genuinely effective action over the next decade to stop and reverse the warming crisis, our families will have their lives shortened due to increasing climate catastrophes and we will have condemned our entire species to death in Earth’s 6th global mass extinction within a century or two. We don’t have time to take more election cycles to elect new governments. Our existing governments must wake up, smell the smoke, and immediately begin acting to put out the fire before it destroys us all. If you are in government, read Guterres’ message in mind. YOU must act now!

Press Release

SG/SM/21799

16 May 2023

Planet Hurtling towards Hell of Global Heating, Secretary-General Warns Austrian World Summit, Urging Immediate Emissions Cuts, Fair Climate Funding

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the seventh Austrian World Summit, in Vienna today:

I thank the Austrian Government and Arnold Schwarzenegger for this opportunity.  The climate crisis can feel overwhelming.  Disasters and dangers are already mounting, with the poor and marginalized suffering the most, as we hurtle towards the hell of 2.8°C of global heating by the end of the century.

But, amidst all this, I urge you to remember one vital fact:  limiting the rise in global temperature to 1.5°C remains possible.  That is the clear message from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  But, it requires a quantum leap in climate action around the world.

To achieve this, I have proposed an Acceleration Agenda.  This urges all Governments to hit fast-forward on their net-zero deadlines, in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in the light of national circumstances.  It asks leaders of developed countries to commit to reaching net zero as close as possible to 2040 — as Austria has done.  And leaders in emerging economies to do so as close as possible to 2050.

The Acceleration Agenda also urges all countries to step up their climate action, now.  The road map is clear:  phasing out of coal by 2030 in OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries and 2040 in all others; net-zero electricity generation by 2035 in developed countries, and 2040 elsewhere; no more licensing or funding of new fossil-fuel projects; no more subsidizing fossil fuels; and no more fake offsets, which do nothing to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, but which are still being used to justify fossil-fuel expansion today.

We can only reach net zero if we make real and immediate emissions cuts.  If we embrace transparency and accountability.  Relying on carbon credits, shadow markets, or murky accounting means one thing:  failure.  That is why I have asked CEOs to present clear net-zero transition plans, in line with the credibility standard presented by my high-level expert group on net-zero pledges.

And the Acceleration Agenda urges business and Governments to work together to decarbonize vital sectors — from shipping, aviation and steel, to cement, aluminium and agriculture.  This should include interim targets for each sector to pave the way to net zero by 2050.

The Acceleration Agenda also calls for climate justice, including overhauling the priorities and business models of multilateral development banks, so that trillions of dollars in private finance flow to the green economy.

Developed countries must also make good on their financial commitments to developing countries.  And they must operationalize the loss and damage fund, and replenish the Green Climate Fund.  I commend Austria for increasing its pledge to the Green Climate Fund by 23 per cent and urge others to deliver their fair share.

On climate, we have all the tools we need to get the job done. But, if we waste time, we will be out of time.  Let’s accelerate action, now.  Thank you.

Featured Image

Note that about half the surface of Earth’s Ocean is a good 2 °C hotter than the baseline average temperature for this day of the year

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

Utter insanity: they’ll outlaw gravity next

As if a planetary system is going to pay an iota of attention to what Iowa thinks. New law says state regulations must ignore climate change!

The only people who will suffer will be those harmed by and dying from increasingly extreme weather events as a consequence of global warming from the fossil fuel industry’s continued contributions to Earth’s greenhouse layer.

Blind stupidity driven by boundless greed! You have to read the article to understand just how stupid and greedy some American legislators can be…

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

Puppet politics: Majority governments work for themselves

Labor puppets will work to benefit fossil fuel industries’ continued hyper-profitable exploitation come hothouse hell or high water flooding! How do we know this?

In the feature article here, Fake Reform: Jim Chalmers’ itsy-bitsy tax “hit” is a gift for foreign fossil fuel giants, Michael West Media compares the Australian experience with fossil fuel exploitation with the way Norway has managed their resources.

Gas giants are grinning too. Image: Jim Chalmers, AAP / from the article

Michael West – 07/05/2023, Michael West Media

Fake Reform: Jim Chalmers’ itsy-bitsy tax “hit” is a gift for foreign fossil fuel giants

Jim Chalmers’ long-awaited tweaks to the PRRT are the itsy-bitsyest “reforms” about, the equivalent of recycling old Christmas presents with a fancy new bow. Michael West reports on how the Treasurer is merely returning a couple of billion in gas sector subsidies, and only for a while.

“Chalmers slaps $2.4bn tax hit on oil and gas,” cried Murdoch’s The Australian. “$2.4bn gas tax hit on energy giants,” declared the AFR. Santos chief Kevin Gallagher was nowhere to be heard with his “Soviet-style” scaremongering. Is Australia still going the way of Venezuela and Nigeria, Kevin? 

Not on your Nelly. The foreign gas giants are profiteering from Australia’s resources like there is no tomorrow, and paying pocket fluff in tax to boot. Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ long-awaited tweaks to the PRRT are itsy-bitsy, the equivalent of recycling old Christmas presents with a bright new bow, really just “up-fronting” a piddling amount of gas revenue for the next few years, a clawing back of subsidies for a while. 

You know it’s a fake “hit” when the fossil media talks it up as a “hit” but the gas lobbyists from APPEA say it gets “the balance right”. Reality is there is no balance, just ongoing pillage.

Clearly our Government is receiving or expecting to receive some kind of quid pro quo that they think will help them stay in power. Staying in power is clearly more important to the party that has the majority in government than doing whatever is necessary to stop and reverse the carbon emissions currently forcing us all down the road to hothouse hell and global mass extinction.

How else could the robber barons of the FF industries count on our Government helping them to rip off such extraordinary profits from their pillaging of so many Australian non-renewable resources?

In Michael West’s article also see the linked video, “Another year of record fossil fuel subsidies. What’s the scam?“, and the more detailed article, “A tale of two fossil superpowers: what Australia can learn from Norway“.

Following this theme a little further, see the news from Alberta, Canada, that is currently burning to a crisp. This gives some of the evidence demonstrating how FF puppetry works through its ‘influence’ on the media:

The stark reality is that the successful puppetry of the fossil fuel industry to protect and possibly even enhance next year’s earnings is driving us ever faster down the global warming road that leads to human oblivion in the 6th global mass extinction. Even if the heating doesn’t kill us directly, the die-offs of increasing numbers of keystone species, will cause whole ecosystems (including human agricultural systems) to collapse, taking our species along as well.

The weather causing the fires in Alberta today is a sign of the times:

Note: The normal progression of waves in the Jet Stream is from west to east. In this time series, the Jet Stream is so disordered that the eddy is actually moving the heat dome from east to west!

What we are seeing here is the operation of a positive feedback look driven by increasing global temperatures. As the Arctic grows warmer, temperature differences driving the jet streams diminish. This change allows the streams separating frigid polar air from much temperate zone air to slow and meander both far north and south of their normal paths. As demonstrated above, this is how the monster heat dome causing the Alberta fires formed. Amongst other things, slow overall warming accompanied by periodic heatwaves like this over most of the world’s boreal forests has allowed bark beetles, normally killed off every year by winter freezing, to proliferate to the point that they are killing vast numbers of trees. This increases the forests’ vulnerabilities to fires and the ferocity of the fires themselves. Not only does this turn the carbon content of the trees into greenhouse gases, but the fires are often hot enough to ignite the peaty soil to release that carbon as greenhouse gases as well.

The feedback loop is further extended as underlying permafrost exposed by burning off of the insulating layers of vegetation and peat begins to release the vast accumulations of greenhouse gases held as icy gas hydrates.

In sum, fossil fuel interests have convinced (1) our government to protect and even extend fossil fuel’s profits from producing and burning Earth’s carbon stores into energy and greenhouse gases, and (2) our press from advertising the facts of this pillage to the people whose futures will be destroyed by the consequent global warming.

Governments controlled by political parties in majority are easy targets for special interests, especially when the parties operate on the basis that the only issue that matters is to retain control of the government. They will represent the special interests of any person/group/industry they think can help them keep that control before the interests of the people in their electorates or people in general.

To mobilize and coordinate the necessary forces to turn off the downhill road to Earth’s Hothouse Hell, our governments need to work for us humans, not vested interests:

  1. we need to convince our elected and candidate representatives that we will absolutely not vote for them if they put a vested interest before our interests;
  2. that we need to elect enough independents from our own communities who will represent us to ensure that no major political party can form a majority government in its own right.

Item 2 ensures that community interests can veto legislation favoring special interests put up by the party in power.


Featured Image:

A protest against the US government’s decision to exit the Paris climate deal in 2017. ‘Ignorance-building strategies’ by fossil fuel companies have bred climate change scepticism among conservatives in the US and Australia. Photograph: Anthony Anex/EPA | from the Guardian article by Graham Readfearn (08/05/2018), “It’s all about vested interests’: untangling conspiracy, conservatism and climate scepticism“)

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.