"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Posts Tagged ‘Ocean Warming’

One Photo Shows That We Have Destroyed Nature: Polar Bears Seen Killing & Eating Dolphins That Have Been Forced North By Global Warming

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2015 at 4:26 pm

Image shows apparently very hungry bears eating dolphins for the first time, before freezing the leftovers in the snow.

Oldspeak:”The worlds oceans are boiling, acidifying and deoxygenating. As a result dolphins are ending up in the fucking arctic ocean that used to be covered in ice to avoid the conditions in the tropics. Polar bears whose habitats are rapidly shrinking and food sources dying off, likely because the Ocean is turning into a fucking toxic soup, have had to resort to eating those dolphins and saving their carcasses for later in the snow. Yeeaaaaaah. That’s normal.O_o Just another day in paradise kids, nothin to see here! LOOK! There’s a Church Shooting! OOOH! Donald Trump is running for president. OMG that white woman thinks she’s black! Enjoy your regularly scheduled Infotainment.” -OSJ

By Andrew Griffin @ The U.K. Independent:

It marks the first time that bears have been seen killing and eating dolphins. Usually, the dolphins only go up north during the warmer summer — but this year they have arrived in spring.

The bears catch the dolphins in a similar way to the seals that they usually eat. Both animals keep holes in the ice which they use to come up and breathe from — at which point, if the bear is lucky, it will snatch them up and eat them.

The researchers observed the behaviour for the first time last year. At least six different bears have been seen eating the dolphins since then, scientists write in a new report, ‘White-beaked dolphins trapped in the ice and eaten by polar bears’.

After eating the dolphin, the bear seemed to cover it with ice so that it could be kept for later. Such behaviour is rare in polar bears, and could be a result of the animals not having enough to eat.

The authors of the study describe the bear as having “clearly visible ribs” and being “very skinny”.

The habitat of polar bears is shrinking drastically as the Arctic warms. As such, scientists expect to be able to observe them much less in the coming years.

The same global warming appears to be trapping the dolphins, leaving them stuck and so able to be caught by the bears.

“We suggest [the dolphins] were trapped in the ice after strong northerly winds the days before, and possibly killed when forced to surface for air at a small opening in the ice,” the authors of the study write. White-beaked dolphins tend to travel north to Svalbard during the warmer summer, but haven’t been reported so far north in the early Spring.

Usually, the Svalbard fjords and coast is covered by ice. But in the winter of 2013 and 2014, when the dolphins and bears were first seen together, they were ice free.

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As The World Burns: 2015 On Pace To Be Hottest Year Ever Recorded; The Latest Global Temperature Data Are Breaking Records

In Uncategorized on June 16, 2015 at 9:02 pm
Road markings appear distorted as the asphalt starts to melt due to the high temperature in New Delhi, India, 27 May 2015.

Road markings appear distorted as the asphalt starts to melt due to the high temperature in New Delhi, India, 27 May 2015. Photograph: Harish Tyagi/EPA

Oldspeak:”I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise.” –The Narrator, Fight Club

By John Abraham @ The Guardian:

Just today, NASA released its global temperature data for the month of May 2015. It was a scorching 0.71°C (1.3°F) above the long-term average. It is also the hottest first five months of any year ever recorded. As we look at climate patterns over the next year or so, it is likely that this year will set a new all-time record. In fact, as of now, 2015 is a whopping 0.1°C (0.17°F) hotter than last year, which itself was the hottest year on record.

Below, NASA’s annual temperatures are shown. Each year’s results are shown as black dots. Some years are warmer, some are cooler and we never want to put too much emphasis on any single year’s temperature. I have added a star to show where 2015 is so far this year, simply off the chart. The last 12 months are at record levels as well. So far June has been very hot as well, likely to end up warmer than May.

Global surface temperature estimates from NASA GISS.
Global surface temperature estimates from NASA GISS.

So why talk about month temperatures or even annual temperatures? Isn’t climate about long-term trends?

First, there has been a lot of discussion of the so-called ‘pause.’ As I have pointed out many times here and in my own research, there has been no pause at all. We know this first by looking at the rate of energy gain within the oceans. But other recent publications, like ones I’ve written about have taken account of instrument and measurement quality and they too find no pause.

Second, there has been a lot of discussion of why models were running hotter than surface air temperatures. There was a real divergence for a while with most models suggesting more warming. Well with 2014 and 2015, we see that the models and actual surface temperatures are in very close agreement.

When we combine surface temperatures with ocean heat content, as seen below, a clear picture emerges. Warming is continuing at a rapid rate.

Global ocean heat content estimates from NOAA.
Global ocean heat content estimates from NOAA.

There is an emerging view that the so-called surface warming slowdown was caused from poor instrument coverage around the globe, volcanic eruptions, and a multi-year oscillation in the oceans. The issue of instrument coverage is being fixed as we speak.

But, any short term fluctuations can only temporarily influence the long term trend. In the ocean heat content image above, you might notice a slight change in the trend around 2005. The trend change has since disappeared; it was associated with the ocean oscillations I mentioned earlier.

The recent warming skyrocket has put the contrarians in a bad position. In 2013, when contrarian Christopher Monckton repeated a claim that temperatures might decrease by 0.5°C in two years, I challenged him to a $1000 bet. He never took that bet, but we can see he would have lost handily if he had.

More recently, contrarian Judith Curry was reported as warning about decades of cooling (or perhaps lack of warming) stretching out to the 2030s. We see that this prediction is not looking very likely. Other contrarians have made similar predictions and it makes one wonder how much evidence will have to pile up before they climb down.

Just a few months ago, Roy Spencer (another climate contrarian) claimed, “We are probably past the point of reaching a new peak temperature anomaly from the current El Niño, suggesting it was rather weak.” While it remains to be seen whether or not he is correct, his own data have shown an uptick in temperatures, and the most recent months have continued the very warm trend. Barring something really unusual, the trend will continue until the end of this year.

I asked climate expert Dr. Joe Romm, Founding Editor of Climate Progress for his thoughts. He reminds us,

Historically, the global temperature trend-line is more like a staircase than a ramp. It now appears we are headed for a step-jump in global temperatures that scientists have been expecting.

Let’s hope his prediction is wrong, but let’s plan for it to be correct.

U.S. West Coast Sardine Population Collapses, 91% Decline Prompting Ban On Commercial Fishing 2 Months Early

In Uncategorized on April 21, 2015 at 8:32 pm

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Oldspeak:”This is a huge step,this is one of the most lucrative fisheries in California, so to completely shut it down is a huge deal… We believe the harm has been irreparable and will already have ramifications for decades to come… We’ve basically reduced the carrying capacity of the ecosystem to support the populations of other species that depend on sardines. The more fish we take, the more it is going to make that situation even worse.” Geoffrey Shester, California campaign director for Oceana

The collapse this year is the latest in a series of alarming die-offs, sicknesses and population declines in the ocean ecosystem along the West Coast. Anchovies, which thrive in cold water, have also declined over the past decade due largely to fluctuating ocean temperatures and a lack of zooplankton, their food of choice…The number of herring seen in San Francisco Bay has fluctuated wildly, reaching a historic low in 2009….Record numbers of starving sea lions have recently been washing up on beaches in California because there aren’t enough sardines and anchovies for pups to eat. Fisheries scientists estimate that 70 percent of sea lion pups will die this year due to a lack of food…Brown pelicans, too, have suffered from mass reproductive failures and are turning up sick and dead in California and Oregon. A 2010 study by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Geological Survey and other scientific organizations found that many of the starving and emaciated pelicans are eating worms and other prey inconsistent with their normal diet of anchovies and sardines.” -Peter Fimrite

“Utterly unsurprising, given the reality:Phytoplankton — which form the base of ocean food chains — have declined 40 percent since 1950..The trend is linked to warming of the surface of the oceans….The die-off could affect climate, fisheries and ocean health…In oceans around the world, there has been a surprisingly large and extensive decline in phytoplankton — the tiny algae that keep marine food webs afloat. So when the most abundant and essential part of the ocean food wed starts dying off, you’re gonna see things like this. The fact that humans are overfishing is just accelerating the inevitable. The real story here is the entire marine food web is in the process of collapse. Expect to see more stories like this as time passes and conditions worsen.” -OSJ

By Peter Fimrite @ The San Francisco Gate:

The sardine population along the West Coast has collapsed due to changing ocean conditions and other factors, including allegations of overfishing, prompting regulators Monday to cancel fishing next season and schedule a vote this week on an immediate emergency ban.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council agreed to close the fishery from Mexico to the Canadian border starting July 1, when the 2015 season begins, after federal scientists documented a 91 percent decline in sardine numbers along the West Coast since 2007.

The council, a 19-member policymaking organization made up of fishery representatives from California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho, scheduled a vote Wednesday on whether to take the bigger step of immediately halting sardine fishing. The current season would go until June 30 or until between 3,000 and 4,000 metric tons of the schooling fish are hauled out of the water, fulfilling this season’s quota.

“This is a huge step,” said Geoffrey Shester, the California campaign director for Oceana, an international conservation organization that has been fighting for eight years to lower the annual sardine take and implement stricter regulations. “This is one of the most lucrative fisheries in California, so to completely shut it down is a huge deal.”

Causes of crisis

A lack of spawning caused by unfavorable ocean conditions was blamed for the decline, but fishery biologists say faulty abundance estimates contributed by allowing regulators to set sardine fishing limits too high. It was a problem that scientists have been warning fishery managers about since 2012, Shester said.

“There’s a management failure here,” said Shester, whose group filed a lawsuit in 2011 demanding action. A judge refused to hear the case on grounds that it was not filed in a timely fashion, but the case is now on appeal.

“They didn’t respond fast enough to the decline,” said Shester, who blamed overfishing for worsening an already bad situation. “Now we find ourselves in a crisis situation.”

Don McIsaac, the management council executive director, said sardine populations often fluctuate, and cold water over the past three or four years has lowered the birth rate.

“Sardines like warm water,” McIsaac said, adding that staff biologists ruled out overfishing as a cause. “Their spawning plummets when it gets cold.”

The dilemma harkens back to the mid-1950s when the Monterey Bay canneries of author John Steinbeck fame began failing, mostly as a result of overfishing. Stiff quotas and catch limits required by the 1976 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act helped save the sardines. The population of the tiny epipelagic fish increased throughout the 1990s.

Monterey Bay is once again the Bay Area hub of sardine fishing, but the oily pilchards can also be caught off the coast of San Francisco. Huge quantities of the nutrient-rich fish are hauled up at the Channel Islands in Southern California and along the Oregon coast, where fishermen are now catching as much as 65 tons a day of the schooling pescados. The only spot where sardines are known to be currently spawning is off the coast of Oregon.

The sardine fleet has been known to bring in between $10 million and $20 million in annual revenue from sales in recent decades, Shester said.

Sardines are mostly sold for bait. The fish are generally frozen in big blocks for use in commercial long-line fishing and for feed at Australian and Japanese blue fin tuna farms. There are some efforts, including among local Indian tribes, to promote it as a healthy local delicacy.

Severe downturn

The sardine population peaked in about 2007, according to a March 19 report issued by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But things recently took a turn for the worse. This season’s quota was set at 23,293 metric tons based on biomass estimates calculated last year, but the National Marine Fisheries Service report concluded the estimates were “unrealistically high.” The sardine population, it said, is about 26 percent lower than the estimates because of a lack of spawning due to poor ocean conditions in 2014.

Sardine numbers — which can only be measured using their collective weight — have dropped from 1,037,000 metric tons in 2007 to 96,688 metric tons, a 91 percent decline, the report said.

“We believe the harm has been irreparable and will already have ramifications for decades to come,” Shester said. “We’ve basically reduced the carrying capacity of the ecosystem to support the populations of other species that depend on sardines. The more fish we take, the more it is going to make that situation even worse.”

The collapse this year is the latest in a series of alarming die-offs, sicknesses and population declines in the ocean ecosystem along the West Coast. Anchovies, which thrive in cold water, have also declined over the past decade due largely to fluctuating ocean temperatures and a lack of zooplankton, their food of choice.

The number of herring seen in San Francisco Bay has fluctuated wildly, reaching a historic low in 2009.

Record numbers of starving sea lions have recently been washing up on beaches in California because there aren’t enough sardines and anchovies for pups to eat. Fisheries scientists estimate that 70 percent of sea lion pups will die this year due to a lack of food.

Sick pelicans

Brown pelicans, too, have suffered from mass reproductive failures and are turning up sick and dead in California and Oregon. A 2010 study by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Geological Survey and other scientific organizations found that many of the starving and emaciated pelicans are eating worms and other prey inconsistent with their normal diet of anchovies and sardines.

Strange diseases have also been proliferating in the sea. Large numbers of sea lions have recently been found convulsing with seizures caused by a neurotoxin found in algae blooms or red tides. The blooms suddenly proliferate for unknown reasons, cover large areas and infuse shellfish, mussels, anchovies, sardines and other filter feeders with toxins that are then consumed by sea lions.

The number of epileptic sea lions has been growing for at least a decade, according to researchers.

The fishery management council, which is required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act to close ocean fishing if the number of fish do not reach conservation objectives, did not place limits on the sardine trade that supplies recreational fishers with bait. Nor are there additional limits on the quota for anchovies, which are also in decline, Shester said.

The council allows up to 7,000 metric tons of sardines to be caught annually as bycatch, meaning it is not the targeted fish. That includes 1,000 metric tons granted to the Quinault Indian Nation, along the port of Washington. Mistakenly netted sardines cannot make up more than 40 percent of a single catch, according to the rules.

“It’s a serious situation,” McIsaac said of the closure. “It’s a great disappointment and financial hardship on many ports up and down the coast, but this is being done to try to make things better.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Peter Fimrite is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: pfimrite@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @pfimrite

Climate Change Driving Decline In Arctic Sea Ice Coverage; Results In Record Low Extent For Winter. Ice Retreat Proceeding Faster Than Models Expect

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2015 at 2:19 pm
Melting sea ice off western Alaska, on February 4, 2014. Alaska lies to the east in this image, and Russia to the west. The Bering Strait, covered with ice, lies between to two. South of the Bering Strait, the waters are known as the Bering Sea. To the north lies the Chukchi Sea. Melting sea ice off western Alaska, on February 4, 2014

Melting sea ice off western Alaska. Photograph: MODIS/Aqua/NASA

Oldspeak: This seems to be a recurring theme in the scientific analysis of this ever-accelerating extinction event. The rate of change is underestimated by climate models. Probably due to the fact that the models don’t include all the factors that are contributing to the changes. In all probability, there are factors we have no idea about that are yielding impacts that are unknown to us. Considering this in the context that “We are experiencing change 200 to 300 times faster than any of the previous major extinction events.“, makes this reality all the more dire, uncertain and unpredictable. In my view, the Achilles Heel in our scientific analysis of this event is attempting to study everything separately. Failing to account for the interconnectedness of All. Using the same science and technology that created the problem in an attempt to understand it. An exercise in futility, when it all comes down to it.” -OSJ

Arctic sea ice has hit a record low for its maximum extent in winter, which scientists said was a result of climate change and abnormal weather patterns.

The US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) said on Thursday that at its peak the ice covered just over 14.5m sq km of the northern seas. This was 130,000 sq km smaller than the previous lowest maximum in 2011.

The peak occurred on 25 February, which the NSIDC’s senior research scientist Ted Scambos said was “very early but not unprecedented”.

Climate change is driving declining ice coverage in the Arctic, with a recent study finding it has also become significantly thinner, down 65% since 1975.

Scambos said northern oceans have progressively warmed because of climate change. This winter, the warmer seas combined with mild weather to create exceptionally poor conditions for the annual freeze.

“[The record low extent] is significant, in that it shows that the Arctic is being seriously impacted by our warming climate,” said Scambos. “In general, sea ice retreat has proceeded faster than modelling expects in the Arctic, although models are catching up.”

Bob Ward, at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at LSE, said: “This is further evidence that global warming and its impacts have not stopped despite the inaccurate and misleading claims of climate change ‘sceptics’.

“Over the past few weeks, there has been an increase in the amount of misinformation from climate change ‘sceptics’ in the UK and elsewhere which is intended to mislead the public and policy-makers into believing that the effects of global warming on the polar regions are absent or negligible.”

The most pronounced deviation from the 1981-2010 average cover was in the Bering and Okhotsk seas in the northern Pacific. There, the ice edge was 100-200km further north than in a normal year.

After March the summer thaw will begin, with the ice retreating towards its summer minimum, which usually occurs in September. The summer ice cover in the Arctic is also on a long-term decline, although Scambos says a low winter maximum does not necessarily indicate a low minimum is on the way.

The loss of ice from the Arctic has raised questions over when the region will experience its first ice-free summer. Scambos said he expects the summer minimum to dip below 1m sq km (386,100 sq miles) within the next 15 years. At this stage, he said, the Arctic will be profoundly changed.

“A less than 1m sq km summer would mean that the north pole would be open water, that a broad seaway would exist north of Siberia and that major ecosystems and fauna would be severely impacted. My own guess is that we will reach this level around 2030.”

The absence of sea ice and abnormally mild weather affects communities and wildlife in the Arctic circle, which are adapted to extreme conditions.

In Svalbard, Kim Holmén, the international director of the Norwegian Polar Institute, said the fjords there remained unfrozen and instead of the normal snowfall the island experienced rain which froze when it hit the ground.

“Much of Svalbard is covered with ice on land, which is a fatal state for the reindeer. When the landscape is covered by ice they can’t move around and they can’t eat.”

Too much ice on the land and none in the sea has also made life difficult for the 2,600 people who live on Svalbard.

“This iced landscape is miserable to travel across on your snowmobile and your skis,” said Holmén. “We can’t ride our snowmobiles across the fjord so there are places where people want to go that they can’t go. We have had tragic events with avalanches. Living in Svalbard we’ve always had avalanches but we’ve had one casualty this winter. Some of the risks are changing because we have more icing events.”

He said this type of weather is expected to become normal under a changing climate.

“This winter is an example of what we believe will become more common and has profound influence on the reindeer and the ptarmigan [a species of bird] and other creatures that roam the land,” he said.

This week, on the opposite side of the Arctic Ocean, Alaska’s Iditarod sled race was forced to shift its start 362km (225 miles) further north due to a lack of snow. This has only happened once before in the race’s 43-year history, in 2003.

Meanwhile, the NSIDC said ice floes surrounding Antarctica reached a relatively high summer minimum on 20 February. The extent of ice was 1.38m sq km, the fourth largest on record. Antarctic sea ice has confounded some scientific modelling by growing in recent years. There are several theories why the extent of the ice is growing despite a general warming trend across the southern continent.

“This is a matter of considerable debate,” said Scambos. “The important thing to say is that the Antarctic is most definitely seeing the effects of warming and circulation changes – it is participating in ‘global warming’ in its own way. There are several effects in play. Primarily it seems that increased strength in low-pressure areas near the Ross and Weddell seas are pushing ice outward from the continent.”

63.5°F In Antarctica: Warmest Temperature Ever Recorded; 14 Years Of Rain In 1 Day In Chile

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2015 at 1:10 pm

Argentina’s Esperanza Base on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula: the hottest place in Antarctica. Image credit: Wikipedia.

Oldspeak: “How bout that. 63 degrees at the south fucking pole 45 degrees in New York on March 24th, 2015. And a desert in Chile got a 14 years worth of rain in 24 hours. Whew. With each passing day, bizzaro world continues to manifest in all its life extinguishing splendor, with heat records being set world-wide… The canaries in the coal mine that are the Arctic and Antarctic are disintergrating faster and faster, yet ignored by all but a few. At some point, ignoring will be impossible. Interesting times we live in eh? Only Love remains.” -OSJ

By Jeff Masters & Bob Henson @ Weather Underground:

The warmest temperature ever recorded on the continent of Antarctica may have occurred on Tuesday, March 24, 2015, when the mercury shot up to 63.5°F (17.5°C) at Argentina’s Esperanza Base on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. According to weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera, the previous hottest temperature recorded in Antarctica was 63.3°F (17.4°C) set just one day previously at Argentina’s Marambio Base, on a small islet just off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Prior to this week’s remarkable heat wave, the hottest known temperature in Antarctica was the 62.8°F (17.1°C) recorded at Esperanza Base on April 24, 1961. (The World Meteorological Organization—WMO—has not yet certified that this week’s temperatures are all-time weather records for Antarctica, though the Argentinian weather service has verified that the temperatures measured at Esperanza Base and Marambio Base were the highest ever measured at each site.) A new all-time temperature record for an entire continent is a rare event, and Weather Underground’s weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, has full details in his latest post.

The Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest warming spots on Earth. A 2012 Climate Central post by Michael Lemonick documented how while the Earth as a whole warmed up by 1.3°F between 1900 and 2011, the Antarctic Peninsula warmed by 5°, forcing massive ice shelves to disintegrate and penguin colonies to collapse. A 2012 paper in Nature found that the recent warming is faster than 99.7% of any other given 100-year period in the last 2000 years.

New all-time national and territorial heat records set or tied in 2015
So far in 2015, five nations or territories have tied or set all-time records for their hottest temperature in recorded history. For comparison, only two nations or territories did so in 2014, and nine did in 2013. The most all-time national heat records in a year was nineteen in 2010 (21 records at the time, but two have been broken since.) Since 2010, 46 nations or territories (out of a total of 235) have set or tied all-time heat records, and four have set all-time cold temperature records. Since each of those years ranked as one of the top twelve warmest years in Earth’s recorded history, this sort of disparity in national heat and cold records is to be expected. Most nations do not maintain official databases of extreme temperature records, so the national temperature records reported here are in many cases not official. I use as my source for international weather records Maximiliano Herrera, one of the world’s top climatologists, who maintains a comprehensive list of extreme temperature records for every nation in the world on his website. If you reproduce this list of extremes, please cite Maximiliano Herrera as the primary source of the weather records. Wunderground’s weather historian Christopher C. Burt maintains a database of these national heat and cold records for 235 nations and territories on wunderground.com’s extremes page. Here are the national heat and cold records set so far in 2015:

Antarctica set a new territorial heat record of 17.5°C (63.5°F) at Esperanza Base on March 24. Previous record: 17.4°C (63.3°F) at Marambio Base, set the previous day.
Equatorial Guinea set a new national heat record of 35.5°C (95.9°F) at Bata on March 17. Previous record:  35.3°C (95.5°F) at Malabo in February 1957.
Ghana tied the national record of highest temperature with 43.0°C (109.4°F)  at Navrongo on February 12.
Wallis and Futuna Territory (France) set a new territorial heat record with 35.5°C (95.9°F) on January 19 at Futuna Airport.
Samoa tied its national heat record with 36.5°C (97.7°F) on January 20 at Asau. Previously record: same location, in December 1977.

Residents watch the rising flood waters of the Copiapo River, in Copiapo, Chile, Wednesday, March 25, 2015. Unusually heavy thunderstorms and torrential rains that began on Tuesday have caused destructive flooding that has killed seven and left nineteen others missing. (AP Photo/Aton Chile)

Amazing rains in the Chilean desert
Unwelcome rains fell this week in Earth’s driest place–Chile’s Atacama Desert–causing destructive flooding that has left seven people dead and at nineteen others missing. Antofagasta, which averaged just 3.8 mm of precipitation per year between 1970 – 2000, and has a long-term average of 1.7 mm of precipitation per year, received a deluge of 24.4 mm (0.96 inches) during the 24 hour period ending at 8 am EDT March 26. That’s over fourteen years of rain in one day! The rains were due to an unusually strong and persistent “cut-off” low pressure system that was trapped over Chile by the exceptionally strong ridge of high pressure that brought the warmest temperatures on record to Antarctica early in the week. A cold front associated with the cut-off low hit the Andes Mountains, dumping rains over soils with very little vegetation (due to the dry climate.) Unusually warm ocean temperatures approximately 1°C (1.8°F) above average off of the coast meant that high amounts of water vapor were available to fuel the storm and generate exceptionally heavy rains. Heavy precipitation events are common in Chile during El Niño events, like we are experiencing now. El Niño brings warmer than average waters to the Pacific coast of South America where Chile lies.

Sea Level Rise Is Accelerating Faster Than Projections: Drinking Water Supply Threatened In South Florida

In Uncategorized on March 2, 2015 at 7:51 pm
Map of the Miami area, where colors indicate the depth to the water table. A lot of area is covered by 0-4 feet, including all of Miami Beach.

Map of the Miami area, where colors indicate the depth to the water table. A lot of area is covered by 0-4 feet, including all of Miami Beach. Keren Bolter, Florida Atlantic University

Oldspeak: “Given that as Guy McPherson so eloquently stated “In the past 30 years, we haven’t done SHIT about climate change. NOTHING.”; this news is pretty unsurprising. When you consider, the international body that is influencing climate policy is working from data that is often years old and doing nothing but kicking the can down the road, as though that were an option, news like this will become more common, and more devastating to human industrial civilization. Meanwhile, playgrounds and condos and malls are being built in coastal areas right now, as though they won’t be under water in a few years. The popular opinion of abrupt climate change seems at this time to be as New Jersey’s Bloviator-In-Chief Chris Christie bellowed “We’re stronger than the storm.”
Leisure cruise and global shipping routes are being plotted through the soon to be ice free arctic. As though there will be a life sustaining climate and sufficient resources to support an ever growing industrial civilization. Major countries are staking claims to fossil fuel resources under the ice. As though the disappearance of the ice and drilling in the sea bed won’t cause unknown disruptions, melting and off-gassing of the methane clathrates in the sea bed that will lead to catastrophic warming and extinction at any time. We’re living and breathing denial and it’s terminal. Our time is short. In that time lets be present to what is going on in the world today.” -OSJ

By Neel V. Patel @ Wired:

You don’t have to look 85 years into the future to see what a sinking world looks like—you only need to look as far as Miami.

Climate scientists have been warning the world about sea level rise for years, pleading with governments to cut back on carbon lest all our coastal cities go the way of Venice. In 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its fifth Assessment Report, predicting that oceans would rise more than 3 feet by 2100. Those projections make for some alarming visions of the future—cities water-logged, monuments submerged, islands created.

But the flooding is already happening in Florida. At the University of Miami’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Brian McNoldy and other researchers have been accumulating sea level data from Virginia Key (a small island just south of Miami Beach) since 1996. Over those nineteen years, sea levels around the Miami coast have already gone up 3.7 inches. In a post updated yesterday, McNoldy highlights three big problems that follow from those numbers—and they should worry all of us.

First: Sea level rise is accelerating—perhaps faster than the IPCC has projected. When McNoldy tracked the average daily high water mark, when flooding events are most likely to occur, he saw it increase over time—but he also saw the rate of that increase go up. The last five years saw an average increase of 1.27 inches of water per year. If that rate holds steady for the next 50 years (and if McNoldy is right, it will only get worse), high tide levels in Miami would go up over five feet.

Second: Predictions about day-to-day tide levels are less accurate than ever, threatening the city’s ability to plan for weather events. Tidal predictions are made through what’s called “astronomical factors”—essentially the moon’s orbit around the earth. But these don’t take into account factors like weather or sea level rise—so as climate change exacerbates sea level rise, tidal predictions will be more and more unreliable. While water levels in May 1996 typically were close to predicted values, McNoldy observed that the same values in May 2014 were consistently higher than predicted. That kind of discrepancy can’t be caused by weather alone.

Third: Besides creating higher risks of flooding, sea level rise is creating an unexpected danger: saltwater intrusion into aquifers used to extract freshwater. Almost 90 percent of south Florida’s drinking water is supplied by porous limestone aquifers. As sea levels rise, the saltwater exerts more pressure on the fresh water in the aquifer, and fresh water is pushed off further from the coast. Already, some cities have shut down wells because of saltwater contamination.

Based on what scientists can glean from sea level data from the past 20,000 years, McNoldy estimates that the world could still have up to 100 feet of sea level rise to go. He believes even if humans were to slow down or stop the man-made factors contributing to climate change, “we’re already pretty well committed to significant sea level rise. We would be more prudent to consider how to adapt to those conditions.”

Warming Oceans Speeding Up Cycle of Climate Change

In Uncategorized on January 13, 2015 at 12:09 am
https://i0.wp.com/www.truthdig.com/images/eartothegrounduploads/CROP-Arctic_ice_floe.jpg

Sun on the water, as Arctic ice increasingly melts, is part of the “positive feedback” process warming the oceans and reducing CO2 storage. Photo by Paul Gierszewski via Wikimedia Commons

 

Oldspeak: “Yep. The worlds oceans are locked into an irreversible non-linear positive feedback loop. It is accelerating. As the oceans warm, their ability to sequester CO2 diminishes and more and more of the potent greenhouse gas methane bubbles towards the surface as the deep water begins to warm. Human actions cannot reverse or decrease what has been started. These are observable, ongoing, and ever increasing impacts. They will continue to worsen. As time passes the changes will become impossible to ignore. We would do well to acknowledge and accept our fate. Only the Love remains…” -OSJ

By Tim Radford @ Climate News Network:

LONDON—The warming oceans could start to return more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere as the planet warms, according to new research.

And since 70% of the planet is covered by clear blue water, anything that reduces the oceans’ capacity to soak up and sequester carbon could only make climate change more certain and more swift.

It is a process that engineers call “positive feedback”. And under such a cycle of feedback, the world will continue to get even warmer, accelerating the process yet again.

Many such studies are, in essence, computer simulations. But Chris Marsay—a marine biochemist at the UK’s National Oceanography Centre in Southampton—and colleagues based their results on experiments at sea.

Sediment traps

They report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they examined sediment traps in the North Atlantic to work out what happens to organic carbon—the tissue of the living things that exploit photosynthesis, directly or indirectly, to convert carbon dioxide—as it sinks to the depths.

Sooner or later, much of this stuff gets released into the sea water as carbon dioxide. This is sometimes called the ocean’s biological carbon pump. In deep, cold waters, the process is slow. In warmer, shallower waters, it accelerates.

And as there is evidence that the ocean is responding to atmospheric changes in temperature, both at the surface and at depth, the study suggests that “predicted future increases in ocean temperatures will result in reduced CO2 storage by the oceans”.

The research was conducted on a small scale, in a limited stretch of ocean, so the conclusion is still provisional—and, like all good science, will be confirmed by replication. But it is yet another instance of the self-sustaining momentum of global warming.

Such positive feedbacks are already at work in high latitudes. Ice reflects sunlight, and therefore the sun’s heat. So as the Arctic ice sheet steadily diminishes over the decades, more and more blue water is available to absorb heat—and accelerate warming.

“The world is at a crossroads in terms of climate health and climate change”

The same gradual warming has started to release another greenhouse gas trapped at the ocean’s edge. Natural “marsh gas”, or methane, is stored in huge masses, “frozen” as methane hydrate in cold continental shelves.

Methane exists in much smaller quantities than carbon dioxide, and has a shorter life in the atmosphere, but is far more potent, volume for volume, as a greenhouse gas.

Researchers at the Arctic University of Norway in Tromso reported last month in Geophysical Research Letters that once-frozen methane gas was leaking from thawing ocean floor off Siberia. Some of this thaw is natural, and perhaps inevitable. But some is connected with human influence and could accelerate.

Alexei Portnov, a geophysicists at the university’s Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Climate and Environment  says: “If the temperature of the oceans increases by two degrees, as suggested by some reports, it will accelerate the thawing to the extreme. A warming climate could lead to an explosive gas release from the shallow areas.”

Biological origin

Arctic methane, like ocean organic carbon, has a biological origin. It is released by decaying vegetation under marshy conditions and tends to form as a kind of ice at low temperatures and high pressures, much of it along continental shelves that, at the height of the Ice Ages, were above sea level.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature also reminded the world last month that the ocean plays a vital role in climate, and that plankton, fish and crustaceans could be considered as “mobile carbon units”.

In this sense, the fish in the sea are not just suppers waiting to be caught, but are important parts of the planetary climate system. The healthier the oceans, and the richer they are in living things, the more effective they become at soaking up atmospheric carbon.

“The world is at a crossroads in terms of climate health and climate change,” said Dan Laffoley, vice-chairman of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, introducing a new report on the marine role in the carbon cycle.

“Neglect the ocean and wonder why our actions are not effective, or manage and restore the ocean to boost food security and reduce the impact of climate change. The choice should be an easy one.”

 

Sea Change: The Ecological Disaster That Nobody Sees

In Uncategorized on September 28, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Sea Change: The Ecological Disaster That Nobody SeesOldspeak: “The ocean is alive; it is a living minestrone soup with an even greater diversity of life than on the land, It is where most of our oxygen is created and carbon is taken out of the atmosphere. With every breath you take, you need to thank the ocean… .The ocean drives climate and weather, It is a planetary life-support system that we have taken for granted . . . We simply must protect the machinery, the natural systems upon which our life depends.” –Sylvia Earle, former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) chief scientist.

Experts warn that we are currently facing an extinction event in the oceans which may rival the “Great Death” of the Permian age 250 million years ago, when 95 percent of marine species died out due to a combination of warming, acidification, loss of oxygen and habitat – all conditions that are rife today…. Within the past half century the oceans have been transformed from the planet’s most productive bioregion into arguably its most abused and critically endangered…. Trillions of microscopic ocean plants called phytoplankton contribute seasonally between 50 to 85 percent of the oxygen in earth’s atmosphere, far more than all of the world’s forests combined. Nobody knows for certain how plankton will adapt to warming seas. But one study published in the United Kingdom last year suggested, worryingly, that changes in the temperature and chemical composition of the oceans would make these critical organisms less productive. Planktonremoves carbon from the atmosphere during the process of photosynthesis. Fewer plankton will mean less oxygen and more of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which will further intensify “a vicious cycle of climate change…Equally scary is the prospect that, as some researchers speculate, changes in ocean temperature may melt a frozen form of methane called “clathrates,” which is ubiquitous under the planet’s continental shelves. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 20 times as potent in the short term as carbon dioxide. If these vast reserves bubble up into the atmosphere, it will truly be “game over” for the climate as we know it… But up to now, there has been little political will to tackle the tough issues that are leading to a death by a thousand cuts for the seas around us. The Global Ocean Commission reports that the toothless international treaties that purport to regulate human use of the oceans have failed utterly to protect them.” -Richard Schiffmann

“So basically, we’re running out of air. As time passes and conditions worsen, our air supply will steadily lessen, as greenhouse gasses further intensify. Our oceans in less than 50 years have been transformed from our planets most productive bioregion, into its most abused and critically endangered. Our oceans are the true lungs of the ecology. And they are boiling, acidifying, and dying. This cannot be stopped by human actions. While our attention is being directed toward manufactured threats like ISIS, Russia, and Ebola, We’re slowly and surely suffocating our way to extinction. Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick……” -OSJ

By Richard Schiffmann @ Truthout:

On September 21, in what is being advance-billed as the largest climate march in history, thousands of protesters will converge on New York City to focus public attention on the slow-motion train wreck of global warming. But while Americans are becoming increasingly aware that our industrial civilization is destabilizing the earth’s climate, fewer know about another environmental disaster-in-the-making: the crisis of the global oceans.

Experts warn that we are currently facing an extinction event in the oceans which may rival the “Great Death” of the Permian age 250 million years ago, when 95 percent of marine species died out due to a combination of warming, acidification, loss of oxygen and habitat – all conditions that are rife today.

Within the past half century the oceans have been transformed from the planet’s most productive bioregion into arguably its most abused and critically endangered. That is the conclusion of a report issued earlier this summer by the Global Ocean Commission, a private think tank consisting of marine scientists, diplomats and business people, which makes policy recommendations to governments.

The report catalogues a grim laundry list of environmental ills. Commercial fish stocks worldwide are being overexploited and are close to collapse; coral reefs are dying due to ocean acidification – and may be gone by midcentury; vast dead zones are proliferating in the Baltic and the Gulf of Mexico caused by an influx of nitrogen and phosphorous from petroleum-based fertilizers; non-biodegradable plastic trash – everything from tiny micro-plastic beads to plastic bags and discarded fishing gear – is choking many coastal nurseries where fish spawn; and increased oil and gas drilling in deep waters is spewing pollution and posing the risk of catastrophic spills like the Deepwater Horizon disaster which dumped an estimated 4.2 million barrels of petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico during a five-month period in 2010.

Yet these worrying trends have failed to spark public indignation. It may be a matter of “out of sight, out of mind.”

“If fish were trees, and we saw them being clear-cut, we would be upset,” renowned oceanographer Carl Safina observed in an interview with Truthout. “But the ocean is invisible to most people, an alien world.” It is hard for those of us who only see ocean life when it ends up on our dinner plates to get worked up about its destruction, Safina said.

Nevertheless, this world under the waves is vital to our survival, according to Sylvia Earle, former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) chief scientist. “The ocean is alive; it is a living minestrone soup with an even greater diversity of life than on the land,” Earle told Truthout. “It is where most of our oxygen is created and carbon is taken out of the atmosphere. With every breath you take, you need to thank the ocean.”

Trillions of microscopic ocean plants called phytoplankton contribute seasonally between 50 to 85 percent of the oxygen in earth’s atmosphere, far more than all of the world’s forests combined. Nobody knows for certain how plankton will adapt to warming seas. But one study published in the United Kingdom last year suggested, worryingly, that changes in the temperature and chemical composition of the oceans would make these critical organisms less productive. Planktonremoves carbon from the atmosphere during the process of photosynthesis. Fewer plankton will mean less oxygen and more of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which will further intensify “a vicious cycle of climate change,” according to the study’s authors.

Equally scary is the prospect that, as some researchers speculate, changes in ocean temperature may melt a frozen form of methane called “clathrates,” which is ubiquitous under the planet’s continental shelves. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 20 times as potent in the short term as carbon dioxide. If these vast reserves bubble up into the atmosphere, it will truly be “game over” for the climate as we know it.

“The ocean drives climate and weather,” Earle said. “It is a planetary life-support system that we have taken for granted . . . We simply must protect the machinery, the natural systems upon which our life depends.”

But up to now, there has been little political will to tackle the tough issues that are leading to a death by a thousand cuts for the seas around us. The Global Ocean Commission reports that the toothless international treaties that purport to regulate human use of the oceans have failed utterly to protect them.

In an email to Truthout, former UK Foreign Minister David Miliband, a co-chair of the commission, wrote bluntly that the high seas are “a failed state . . . beyond the jurisdiction of any government, where governance and policing are effectively non-existent and anarchy rules the waves.” Miliband insists that the open ocean beyond national boundaries needs to be brought under the rule of international law. At present, global treaties make nonbinding recommendations, which are routinely violated by nations and commercial enterprises.

Perhaps not surprisingly, it is the wealthy countries that are disproportionally to blame for the ocean’s woes. According to the commission, the freedom of the seas is being “exploited by those with the money and ability to do so, with little sense of responsibility or social justice.”

One way this is happening is the chronic over-harvesting of the high seas by massive, technologically advanced ships largely from countries like France, Spain, Denmark, Japan and South Korea (the United States is actually a relatively minor player with a lower yearly catch than many far smaller countries). These floating factories frequently employ highly destructive methods like bottom trawling,the practice of dragging a heavy net on the bottom of the ocean, a process which can destroy ancient deep sea coral colonies and other fragile ecosystems.

Other questionable practices include fishing out of season and the use of cyanide and underwater explosives that stun or kill all marine life over vast swaths of the sea. Indiscriminate trawl nets and long-line fishing take untold thousands of sea birds, turtles, marine mammals and non-target fish species (called bycatch) daily, according to Earle. “It is like using a bulldozer to catch songbirds. You simply throw away the trees and all the rest.”

The results have been catastrophic. In 1950, less than 1 percent of fish species were overexploited or close to collapse. Today, that number has swollen to 87 percent, according to the Global Ocean Commission report. Not only are there “too many boats trying to catch too few fish,” but this overfishing is being abetted in many cases by government fossil fuel subsidies, which have driven an otherwise flagging industry into dangerous overdrive.

The irony is that, while the productivity of commercial fishing has never been lower, and boats need to go ever farther to catch fewer fish, the number of vessels exploiting the ocean has never been higher. While affluent countries spend tens of millions of their tax dollars to prop up their national fishing industries, coastal fisheries in the global south are being depleted and some fisher folk are barely able to survive on their diminished catches, as I discovered during a recent reporting trip to Barbados. They simply can’t compete with the big commercial fleets that are operating with impunity just beyond their territorial boundaries.

This problem is exacerbated in Barbados and elsewhere in the Caribbean by the rapid coral die-off. Instead of the thriving reefs that one would have seen only a few years back, there are now ghost forests of bleached white skeletons covered in slime. As the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide increasingly gets absorbed by the ocean’s surface waters, it creates carbonic acid, which changes the pH of the sea, making it more difficult for coral polyps and other shell-forming organisms to produce their rigid homes.

When corals die (Earle said fully half of the world’s reefs are already gone, or in steep decline) the fish and other organisms that breed among them die off as well. Equally important, reefs are an invaluable line of defense against storm surges and destructive waves. Without these natural seawalls, beach erosion and damage to low-lying coastal areas during hurricanes can spiral out of control.

Human-made physical changes to the world’s coastlines pose another threat. Productive natural hatcheries like mangrove swamps, mudflats and salt marshes are being cleared in many areas to make way for coastal development, barrier islands are dredged to build ship channels, and freshwater streams, which fish use to spawn, are blocked by dams.

In his eloquent book Running Silver, marine biologist John Waldman writes that in East Coast streams, where our forebears could “walk dry-shod on the backs” of schools of striped bass, shad, sturgeon and other fish during their spring migrations, today’s runs are as low as 2 percent of what they once were. In some cases, they’ve disappeared entirely. Cold-loving fish like salmon and cod are leaving their traditional ranges and heading toward the poles in search of cooler waters.

Amid this rising tide of bad news, however, there are some glimmers of hope. Carl Safina told Truthout that the US coastal fish populations were in free fall “until about 1998 when the Sustainable Fisheries Act went into effect [which sets strict fishing quotas]. We saw a recovery of inshore species which are wholly managed by US law and policy, at the same time as there was a continuing decline of the big offshore species like shark, tuna and many billfish in international waters.”

The challenge, as Safina sees it, is to bring the rule of law that has worked for some US fisheries to the high seas, which he calls “the Wild West in the space age.” We need something like a UN peacekeeper force for the open oceans, he said, to enforce treaties, clamp down on illegal fishing and draft strict environmental regulations.As a model for what he has in mind, Safina points to regional multination fishery boards (like those which already manage and set quotas for fisheries shared by the United States and Canada.) As this kind of international cooperation spreads, we’ll have a fighting chance to save imperiled species that are currently being fished to exhaustion. Safina alsosaid we need to stop fishing some critical areas to give them an opportunity to recover.

President Obama was clearly thinking along these lines when he announced in June the creation of the largest marine sanctuary on earth, a no-fishing and drilling zone comprising 782,000 square miles of open ocean surrounding small, unpopulated US territories in the South Pacific. Pacific island nations like the Cook and Kiribati quickly followed suit, banning fishing in their own territorial waters.

Sylvia Earle told Truthout that these are big steps in the right direction: “Here’s the good news: places where fish are protected, where we stop the killing, if enough resilience is there, these systems can be returned to abundance. It’s happened in the Florida Keys; it’s happened in protected areas off the coast of Chile, in Mexico, where grouper, snapper and sharks are making a reappearance.”

Still, until we address climate change and pollution, and find a way to establish justice and accountability on the high seas, the prospects for the world’s largest ecosystem remain grim.

 

 

 

 

NOAA Report: Summer 2014 Hottest On Record, 2014 On Pace To Be Hottest Ever. World’s Oceans Account For Most Heat Rise.

In Uncategorized on September 22, 2014 at 8:25 pm

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/service/global/map-percentile-mntp/201406-201408.gif

Oldspeak: “All the conditions that existed in Earth’s previous 5 mass extinctions, exist right now. Today. No other extinction event has progressed as rapidly as the one we’re bearing witness to. The oceans are heating & dying at an unprecedented rate.  We have zero ability to stop what is happening.  We must accept this. I can’t say it better than the esteemed eco-pirate Captain Paul Watson:

The world is full of ecological fools who deny ecological reality. The world is full of mindless mobs of morons obsessed with petty trivialities or distracted by fantasies ranging from silly religions to entertainment.

What the world is lacking are ecological engineers and warriors ready and willing to address the threats to our planet and especially to our oceans.

What the great majority of people do not understand is this: unless we stop the degradation of our oceans, marine ecological systems will begin collapsing and when enough of them fail, the oceans will die.

And if the oceans die, then civilization collapses and we all die.

It’s as simple as that….

One thing for certain however is that we are running out of time.”

TICK, TICK, TICK, TICK, TICK, TICK….

By NOAA National Climatic Data Center:

 

Global Highlights

  • The combined average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces for August 2014 was record high for the month, at 0.75°C (1.35°F) above the 20th century average of 15.6°C (60.1°F), topping the previous record set in 1998.
  • The global land surface temperature was 0.99°C (1.78°F) above the 20th century average of 13.8°C (56.9°F), the second highest on record for August, behind 1998.
  • For the ocean, the August global sea surface temperature was 0.65°C (1.17°F) above the 20th century average of 16.4°C (61.4°F). This record high departure from average not only beats the previous August record set in 2005 by 0.08°C (0.14°F), but also beats the previous all-time record set just two months ago in June 2014 by 0.03°C (0.05°F).
  • The combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for the June–August period was also record high for this period, at 0.71°C (1.28°F) above the 20th century average of 16.4°C (61.5°F), beating the previous record set in 1998.
  • The June–August worldwide land surface temperature was 0.91°C (1.64°F) above the 20th century average, the fifth highest on record for this period. The global ocean surface temperature for the same period was 0.63°C (1.13°F) above the 20th century average, the highest on record for June–August. This beats the previous record set in 2009 by 0.04°C (0.07°F).
  • The combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for January–August (year-to-date) was 0.68°C (1.22°F) above the 20th century average of 14.0°C (57.3°F), the third highest for this eight-month period on record.

Supplemental Information

Introduction

Temperature anomalies and percentiles are shown on the gridded maps below. The anomaly map on the left is a product of a merged land surface temperature (Global Historical Climatology Network, GHCN) and sea surface temperature (ERSST.v3b) anomaly analysis developed by Smith et al. (2008). Temperature anomalies for land and ocean are analyzed separately and then merged to form the global analysis. For more information, please visit NCDC’s Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page. The maps on the right are percentile maps that complement the information provided by the anomaly maps. These provide additional information by placing the temperature anomaly observed for a specific place and time period into historical perspective, showing how the most current month, season, or year compares with the past.

The most current data may be accessed via the Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page.

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Temperatures

In the atmosphere, 500-millibar height pressure anomalies correlate well with temperatures at the Earth’s surface. The average position of the upper-level ridges of high pressure and troughs of low pressure—depicted by positive and negative 500-millibar height anomalies on the August 2014 and June 2014–August 2014 maps—is generally reflected by areas of positive and negative temperature anomalies at the surface, respectively.

August

With records dating back to 1880, the global temperature across the world’s land and ocean surfaces for August 2014 was 0.75°C (1.35°F) higher than the 20th century average of 15.6°C (60.1°F). This makes August 2014 the warmest August on record for the globe since records began in 1880, beating the previous record set in 1998. Nine of the 10 warmest Augusts on record have occurred during the 21st century. Additionally, August 2014 marked the 38th consecutive August with a temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average global temperature for August occurred in 1976. The departure from average for the month was also record high for the Northern Hemisphere, at 0.92°C (1.66°F) above average. The Southern Hemisphere temperature was 0.56°C (1.01°F) above average, the fourth highest on record for this part of the world.

Globally, the average land surface temperature was the second highest on record for August behind only 1998, at 0.99°C (1.78°F) above the 20th century average. Warmer than average temperatures were evident over most of the global land surfaces, except for parts of the United States and western Europe, northern Siberia, parts of eastern Asia and much of central Australia stretching north. Overall, 26 countries across every continent except Antarctica had at least one station reporting a record high temperature for August. The United States and the Russian Federation each had stations that reported record warm temperatures as well as at least one station with a record cold temperature for the month. One station in Antarctica also reported a record cold August temperature for its 30-year period of record. The period of record varies by station.

Select national information is highlighted below. (Please note that different countries report anomalies with respect to different base periods. The information provided here is based directly upon these data):

  • Averaged across the country, Australia was only 0.06°C (0.11°F) above its 1961–1990 average; however, there were some large variations between regions. Western Australia had its fifth highest maximum August temperature on record (10th highest average temperature) while the Northern Territory had its fourth lowest minimum August temperature on record (also fourth lowest average temperature).
  • Following a record warm July, August was a bit more temperate in Norway, although still warm compared to normal, with a monthly temperature that was 1.0°C (1.8°F) higher than the 1961–1990 long-term average for the country.
  • The United Kingdom had its coolest August since 1993, with a temperature 1.0°C (1.8°F) below its 1981–2010 average. This ended a streak of eight consecutive warmer-than average months.
  • August was 1.1°C (2.0°F) cooler than the 1981–2010 average in Austria, marking the country’s coolest August since 2006. The high alpine regions were 1.5°C (2.7°F) cooler than average.

The average August temperature for the global oceans was record high for the month, at 0.65°C (1.17°F) above the 20th century average, beating the previous record set in 2005 by 0.08°C (0.14°F). It was also the highest departure from average for any month in the 135-year record, beating the previous record set just two months ago in June 2014 by 0.03°C (0.05°F). Record warmth was observed across much of the central and western equatorial Pacific along with sections scattered across the eastern Pacific and regions of the western Indian Ocean, particularly notable in the waters east of Madagascar. After cooling briefly in July, ocean temperatures in the Niño 3.4 region—the area where ENSO conditions are monitored—began warming once again. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center estimates that there is a 60–65 percent chance that El Niño conditions will develop during the Northern Hemisphere fall and winter. This forecast focuses on the ocean surface temperatures between 5°N and 5°S latitude and 170°W to 120°W longitude.

August Anomaly Rank
(out of 135 years)
Records
°C °F Year(s) °C °F
Global
Land +0.99 ± 0.24 +1.78 ± 0.43 Warmest 2nd 1998 +1.03 +1.85
Coolest 134th 1912 -0.75 -1.35
Ocean +0.65 ± 0.05 +1.17 ± 0.09 Warmest 1st 2014 +0.65 +1.17
Coolest 135th 1910, 1911 -0.45 -0.81
Land and Ocean +0.75 ± 0.12 +1.35 ± 0.22 Warmest 1st 2014 +0.75 +1.35
Coolest 135th 1912 -0.51 -0.92
Northern Hemisphere
Land +1.07 ± 0.21 +1.93 ± 0.38 Warmest 1st 2010, 2014 +1.07 +1.93
Coolest 135th 1912 -0.94 -1.69
Ties: 2010
Ocean +0.84 ± 0.04 +1.51 ± 0.07 Warmest 1st 2014 +0.84 +1.51
Coolest 135th 1913 -0.57 -1.03
Land and Ocean +0.92 ± 0.15 +1.66 ± 0.27 Warmest 1st 2014 +0.92 +1.66
Coolest 135th 1912 -0.65 -1.17
Southern Hemisphere
Land +0.80 ± 0.12 +1.44 ± 0.22 Warmest 7th 2009 +1.37 +2.47
Coolest 129th 1891 -0.78 -1.40
Ocean +0.51 ± 0.06 +0.92 ± 0.11 Warmest 4th 1998 +0.57 +1.03
Coolest 132nd 1911 -0.48 -0.86
Ties: 2003, 2005, 2013
Land and Ocean +0.56 ± 0.06 +1.01 ± 0.11 Warmest 4th 2009 +0.67 +1.21
Coolest 132nd 1911 -0.51 -0.92
Ties: 1997

The most current data August be accessed via the Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page.

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Seasonal (June–August)

June–August 2014, at 0.71°C (1.28°F) higher than the 20th century average, was the warmest such period across global land and ocean surfaces since record keeping began in 1880, edging out the previous record set in 1998. The global ocean temperature was a major contributor to the global average, as its departure from average for the period was also highest on record, at 0.63°C (1.13°F) above average. The average temperature across land surfaces was not far behind, at fifth highest for June–August. Regionally, the Northern Hemisphere temperature across land and oceans combined was also record high for its summer season, while the Southern Hemisphere temperature was fourth highest for its winter season.

Select national information is highlighted below. (Please note that different countries report anomalies with respect to different base periods. The information provided here is based directly upon these data):

  • Winter (June–August) was warmer than average for Australia; however, while the maximum temperature was 0.68°C (1.22°F) above average, the minimum temperature was 0.14°C (0.25°F) below average, making for a greater-than-average daily temperature range. The highest maximum temperature anomalies were observed in the states of Tasmania (second highest on record) and Western Australia (tied for third highest on record). The Northern Territory had below-average winter maximum and minimum temperatures, with the average temperature tying as the 33rd coolest winter temperature in its 105-year period of record.
  • Summer 2014 was 0.2°C (0.4°F) higher than the 1981–2010 average for Austria, but it also marked the coolest June–August for the country since 2005. The north and east were 0.4–0.7°C (0.7–1.3°F) above average while most other regions were near average.
  • The summer temperature for Norway was 1.9°C (3.4°F) above its 1961–1990 average. Western Norway, Trøndelag, and Nordland saw temperatues 2–3°C (4–5°F) above their long-term averages.
  • Summer in Denmark was 1.6°C (2.9°F) warmer than its 1961–1990 average and 0.4°C (0.7°F) warmer than the more recent 2001–2010 average. The second highest July temperature on record contributed to the summer warmth.
June–August Anomaly Rank
(out of 135 years)
Records
°C °F Year(s) °C °F
Global
Land +0.91 ± 0.20 +1.64 ± 0.36 Warmest 5th 2010 +1.02 +1.84
Coolest 131st 1885 -0.58 -1.04
Ocean +0.63 ± 0.05 +1.13 ± 0.09 Warmest 1st 2014 +0.63 +1.13
Coolest 135th 1911 -0.48 -0.86
Land and Ocean +0.71 ± 0.12 +1.28 ± 0.22 Warmest 1st 2014 +0.71 +1.28
Coolest 135th 1911 -0.46 -0.83
Northern Hemisphere
Land +0.94 ± 0.18 +1.69 ± 0.32 Warmest 5th 2010 +1.17 +2.11
Coolest 131st 1884 -0.68 -1.22
Ties: 2006
Ocean +0.76 ± 0.05 +1.37 ± 0.09 Warmest 1st 2014 +0.76 +1.37
Coolest 135th 1913 -0.54 -0.97
Land and Ocean +0.83 ± 0.15 +1.49 ± 0.27 Warmest 1st 2014 +0.83 +1.49
Coolest 135th 1913 -0.50 -0.90
Southern Hemisphere
Land +0.80 ± 0.12 +1.44 ± 0.22 Warmest 5th 2005 +1.01 +1.82
Coolest 131st 1911 -0.70 -1.26
Ocean +0.53 ± 0.06 +0.95 ± 0.11 Warmest 4th 1998 +0.59 +1.06
Coolest 132nd 1911 -0.50 -0.90
Ties: 2002
Land and Ocean +0.57 ± 0.07 +1.03 ± 0.13 Warmest 4th 1998 +0.65 +1.17
Coolest 132nd 1911 -0.53 -0.95

The most current data August be accessed via the Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page.

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Year-to-date (January–August)

The first eight months of 2014 (January–August) were the third warmest such period on record across the world’s land and ocean surfaces, with an average temperature that was 0.68°C (1.22°F) above the 20th century average of 57.3°F (14.0°C). If 2014 maintains this temperature departure from average for the remainder of the year, it will be the warmest year on record.

The average global sea surface temperature tied with 2010 as the second highest for January–August in the 135-year period of record, behind 1998, while the average land surface temperature was the fifth highest.

January–August Anomaly Rank
(out of 135 years)
Records
°C °F Year(s) °C °F
Global
Land +1.01 ± 0.23 +1.82 ± 0.41 Warmest 5th 2007 +1.14 +2.05
Coolest 131st 1885, 1893 -0.68 -1.22
Ocean +0.55 ± 0.05 +0.99 ± 0.09 Warmest 2nd 1998 +0.57 +1.03
Coolest 134th 1911 -0.50 -0.90
Ties: 2010
Land and Ocean +0.68 ± 0.11 +1.22 ± 0.20 Warmest 3rd 1998, 2010 +0.70 +1.26
Coolest 133rd 1911 -0.51 -0.92
Northern Hemisphere
Land +1.08 ± 0.28 +1.94 ± 0.50 Warmest 5th 2007 +1.29 +2.32
Coolest 131st 1893 -0.78 -1.40
Ocean +0.61 ± 0.07 +1.10 ± 0.13 Warmest 1st 2014 +0.61 +1.10
Coolest 135th 1910 -0.49 -0.88
Land and Ocean +0.79 ± 0.17 +1.42 ± 0.31 Warmest 2nd 2010 +0.81 +1.46
Coolest 134th 1893, 1913 -0.51 -0.92
Southern Hemisphere
Land +0.84 ± 0.15 +1.51 ± 0.27 Warmest 6th 2005 +1.00 +1.80
Coolest 130th 1917 -0.77 -1.39
Ocean +0.52 ± 0.05 +0.94 ± 0.09 Warmest 5th 1998 +0.60 +1.08
Coolest 131st 1911 -0.52 -0.94
Land and Ocean +0.57 ± 0.07 +1.03 ± 0.13 Warmest 3rd 1998 +0.66 +1.19
Coolest 133rd 1911 -0.54 -0.97
Ties: 2002, 2003, 2005

The most current data August be accessed via the Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page.

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Precipitation

August

The maps below represent precipitation percent of normal (left) and precipitation percentiles (right) based on the GHCN dataset of land surface stations using a base period of 1961–1990. As is typical, August precipitation anomalies varied significantly around the world. As indicated by the August precipitation percentiles map below, extreme wetness was observed across part of the central United States, parts of northern Europe, central Siberia, Japan, and eastern Australia. Much of Japan received heavy rainfall from Typhoons Nakri and Halong during the first half of the month. Extreme dryness was scattered across small regions of each of the major continents.

Select national information is highlighted below. (Please note that different countries report anomalies with respect to different base periods. The information provided here is based directly upon these data):

Seasonal (June–August)

The maps below represent precipitation percent of normal (left) and precipitation percentiles (right) based on the GHCN dataset of land surface stations using a base period of 1961–1990. As is typical, precipitation anomalies during June 2014–August 2014 varied significantly around the world.

  • According to the India Meteorological Department, the Southwest Monsoon brought just 82 percent of the long-term (1951–2000) average rainfall to the country from June 1 to August 27. All regions were below average. Northwest India received just 66 percent of its average amount for the period, while the South Peninsula was closest to its long-term average among all regions, at 89 percent of average. By the end of August, the monsoon trough was generally near the Himalayan foothills.
  • In France, even with a drier than average June, total summer (June–August) precipitation was more than 140 percent of average, marking one of the 10 wettest summers since national records began in 1959. It was the wettest July–August period on record.

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References

Peterson, T.C. and R.S. Vose, 1997: An Overview of the Global Historical Climatology Network Database. Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc., 78, 2837-2849.

Quayle, R.G., T.C. Peterson, A.N. Basist, and C. S. Godfrey, 1999: An operational near-real-time global temperature index. Geophys. Res. Lett., 26, 333-335.

Smith, T.M. and R.W. Reynolds, 2005: A global merged land air and sea surface temperature reconstruction based on historical observations (1880-1997), J. Clim., 18, 2021-2036.

Smith et al., 2008, Improvements to NOAA’s Historical Merged Land-Ocean Surface Temperature Analysis (1880-2006), J. Climate., 21, 2283-2293.

 

Scientists Discover Hundreds Of Methane Leaks Bubbling From The Floor Of The Atlantic Ocean… Again.

In Uncategorized on August 29, 2014 at 8:16 pm

underwater-bubblesOldspeak: “Fast on the heels of news of a gigantic chasm of a methane blow hole opening in the permafrost in Siberia, we see this.  Not sure why this is surprising any more. We’ve gone from zero gas seeps in these areas off the U.S. east coast to the largest seeps in the atlantic since the mid 2000s. Methane hydrates are being released from countless, unknown numbers of leaks all over the planet.  The most disturbing lines in this article for me are “about 40 of the leaks they detected came from depths of over 3,300 feet, likely originating from deeper reservoirs below the initial sediments that make up the sea floor. If that’s the case, those reservoirs could be a target for extraction by fossil fuel companies…” Translation: the bottom of the deep dark ocean is too hot too keep methane hydrates frozen, and energy corporations are licking their chops. As ocean warming increases, we’ll see more and more and more of these leaks discovered. Climate scientists view them with concern. Energy conglomerates view them as profit. Meanwhile, we have no idea which of these deep reservoirs of gas will become the catastrophic release; The methane time bomb that will release 50 or more gigatons of methane in to the atmosphere & collapse human civilization. Only time will tell. And there’s nothing we can do to defuse it. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick….” –OSJ

By Jeff Spross @ Climate Progress:

In what could be a clue to the future effects of climate change, scientists have discovered a huge collection of methane leaks from the ocean floor off the United States’ eastern seaboard.

Their work, published Sunday in Nature Geoscience, used a research vessel equipped with sonar to map a 94,000-square-kilometer area that arcs from North Carolina up to Massachusetts. Within that expanse, according to Scientific American, they discovered around 570 separate plumes of bubbles rising from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. And while the scientists haven’t yet collected samples, the bubbles’ sources suggest they contain methane.

The study is surprising, because such leaks are usually found atop known methane reservoirs — or above active tectonic regions — and scientists had previously thought very few such leaks were to be found in that area of the Atlantic shelf. “This is the first time anyone has systematically mapped an entire margin,” Christian Berndt, a marine geophysicist at GEOMAR in Kiel, Germany, who was not involved in the study, told Science Magazine. “They found that there was much more methane coming out than was suspected beforehand.”

Methane is a greenhouse gas, far more potent on a pound-for-pound basis than carbon dioxide. But at 90 metric tons per ear, the methane being released by the 570 leaks is dwarfed by the annual releases from human industrial and agricultural activity, as well as other natural sources. Still, the researchers estimate there could around 30,000 more of the leaks all over the world.

There’s also the possibility that climate change and alterations to ocean temperatures could lead to far bigger releases.

“These little bits of bubbling here or there will not make a memorable impact,” Jens Greinert, who heads the deep-sea monitoring unit at GEOMAR, told Science Magazine. “It becomes interesting only if you have a catastrophic release.”

Carolyn Ruppel of the United States Geological Survey, one of the study’s co-authors, told the New York Times that about 40 of the leaks they detected came from depths of over 3,300 feet, likely originating from deeper reservoirs below the initial sediments that make up the sea floor. If that’s the case, those reservoirs could be a target for extraction by fossil fuel companies, though more research will be needed to confirm. But most of the leaks came from 800 to 2,000 feet down, and pictures Ruppel and her colleagues were able to take with a submersible show that most of the methane is likely trapped in ice structures called hydrates in the initial sediments at the seabed.

That raises the possibility that the hydrates, which are extremely sensitive to changes in temperature, are being melted by warming waters. That heat could be brought by natural cycles and variability — or by climate change. Another twist is that most of the methane is absorbed by the ocean long before it breaches the surface. The process reacts with oxygen and releases carbon dioxide, which in turn increases the acidification of the ocean in the vicinity. So there’s the possibility that warming waters from climate change could release more methane, thus further speeding up the ocean acidification that is itself being driven largely by humanity’s carbon dioxide emissions.

But with the current evidence, what connection can be drawn to climate change — if any at all — remains unclear. The undersea pictures taken by the research team suggest at least some of the methane leaks have been active for hundreds of years or even a millennia.

“It highlights a really key area where we can test some of the more radical hypotheses about climate change,” John Kessler, a professor at the University of Rochester who was not involved in the research, told the New York Times. “How will those release rates accelerate as bottom temperature warms, or how will they decelerate if there are some cooling events?”

“We don’t really have all of the answers. But this is a great place to try to find them.”