Arctic Ice Melt on a Tear in Recent Weeks

Thus far in 2015, we have set new records for low Arctic sea-ice extent, during three timeframes:

  • March 4 through March 22,
  • April 6 through April 10, and
  • May 18 through June 9.

For the past two weeks, melt rate has accelerated and we may be setting up for another record to begin in the next month. The chart below shows sea-ice extent for each of the years 2011 through 2015. The all-time record year was 2012, marked with a black-dashed line. The gray shaded area shows +/- two standard deviations from the 1981-2010 average (black line). The gold line (1980) has been added for reference, showing when we were well above the average, and also showing the ongoing downward trend in Arctic sea ice.

(click on image to view current arctic ice data at NSIDC.org)

(click on image to view current arctic ice data at NSIDC.org)

While it can not be predicted how low this year’s sea-ice extent will fall, we do know that melt will continue for nearly two more months. The melt-season reliably ends in mid-September, when new seasonal ice begins to form.

The Two Sides at Santa Monica: ‘For Aviation’ vs. ‘Against Aviation Lead Pollution’

On July 1st, neighbors of the Santa Monica Airport hope to see a measure of local airport control FINALLY restored. Pilot groups are concerned about this, fearing business jets may have to use nearby airports with longer/safer runways, and maybe even seeing a full closure of the airport [KSMO] to become a park. The pilots feel a need to promote their activity and the survival of their airport, despite the fact that it is the largest source of lead in the local airshed. So, they recently got a reporter to post a nice (some might say ‘fluffy’?) pro-aviation article in the local paper.

The issues at Santa Monica go far beyond toxic lead pollution, but this article and the comments it generated offer a clear insight into just how far apart the parties are. One side completely ignores a serious health impact while doing a ‘rah! rah!’ campaign for aviation; the other side says, ‘wait a minute, you are poisoning our children!’

For the record, the lead is used by the smaller planes and helicopters, particularly those used for flight instruction. The lead is NOT used by the business jets; they are powered by ‘Jet fuel’, which produces a different set of serious air quality problems, including particulates.

Here is a JPEG copy. Check it out, and then be sure to read the reader comments that follow the online article (one is copied below):20150610scp.. Third-graders go plane crazy at Santa Monica Airport (J.Bates, SantaMonicaDailyPress, 1p)

Here is one of the reader comments:

“As a parent, I wish they had disclosed the HEALTH RISKS to our CHILDREN from the visit to the SANTA MONICA AIRORT. Currently, leaded AVGAS (used by the aircraft at this airport) is the largest source of lead air pollution in the US, causing emissions of over 500 tons of lead per year. Recent research has found that children living and going to school near general aviation airports have higher blood lead levels than children living farther away, and studies have linked high childhood lead levels to a host of serious health problems.”

See also:

Global Warming Denialism Is as Wrong as FAA’s NextGen

There is so much work to do, just trying to stay on top of FAA’s full frontal assault. Over the past three years, and under the guise of ‘safety and efficiency’, FAA has begun imposing NextGenHell and OAPMfraud, and thus destroying quality of life in residential neighborhoods across the nation. [NOTE, added 12/10/2016: FAA has frequently amended their webpages after issues have been raised in aiREFORM Posts; a copy of the FAA webpage connected to the ‘OAPMfraud’ link above is archived here.]

New Posts by aiREFORM will soon discuss the OAPMFraud issue, and will also cover impacts around Atlanta [KATL], the Bay Area [KSFO], Boston [BOS], Charlotte [KCLT], Chicago [KORD], Minneapolis [KMSP], Seattle [KSEA], and other emerging NextGenHell Impact Zones.

But other important news is happening, and it is quite related. For example, the rain events and deadly flooding, particularly in Texas, are indicative of what we can expect when we seed more intense weather by adding more water vapor (melted ice) and more energy (higher air temperatures, including enhanced solar energy absorption by much higher CO2 levels) to our changing atmosphere.

The Arctic Ice situation continues to worsen.

20150525.. NSIDC ArcticIce graph showing 5 days record low (w markups)

NSIDC Arctic Sea Ice Extent graph for 5/25/2015. Gray band is +/- 2SD’s off the mean value (solid black line). Dashed black line is 2012. Dark blue line is 2015. The year holding the record low value is labeled in orange, at bottom. Note that the current 2015 value is more than two standard deviations below the historical mean. (click on image to view current graph at NSIDC)

Ten days ago, an aiREFORM Post offered a pair of graphs showing low Arctic sea ice extent. The Post also noted that 2015 looks likely to set many new records. Well, we are now five days into a third new record this year.

Thus far in 2015, new low-records for Arctic Sea Ice Extent have been set from March 4th through March 22nd, April 4th through April 10th, and May 20th onward. And worse, not only is the sea ice extent plummeting, but weather and other conditions stand to keep it plummeting, maybe even accelerate it. For example, loss of white sea ice is replaced by dark open water, which tends to reflect less and absorb much more of the energy (thus, heating). This is an example of ‘positive feedback’ with negative climatological consequences.

Here are two ClimateReAnalyzer images, for May 26, 2015:20150526scp.. Arctic Sea Ice Extent and Air Temp Anomaly (ClimateReAnalyzer)

In both images, the North Pole is depicted by the crossing dashed lines (main meridians) centered and a third of the way down from the top. These modified satellite images are updated daily at their website (once you are at the website, note that the words listed to the left of the globe are all links to images; click on ‘Sea Ice & Snow‘ to view the left image, and click on ‘Temperature Anomaly‘ to view the right image).

The left image shows ‘Sea Ice Extent’. Open water is dark blue, 100% ice is solid white, and partial melt is in darker white shades. A thin cyan line marks the average sea ice extent for the years 1979-2000.

The right image shows ‘Temperature Anomaly’ for air temperature at 2-meter height above the surface. Colors grade toward warm extremes (brown) and cold extremes (blue). The anomaly values are relative to a baseline for temperatures during the 1979-2000 timeframe. The predominant brown shows that the Arctic Ocean is substantially warmed, with areas near the North Pole at 10-degrees+ Fahrenheit above normal.

It’s Global Warming, and it is Anthropogenic

These images, when compared with past Sea Ice Extent images, destroy the claims by those who deny Global Warming. 20150526scp.. Arctic Sea Ice Extent year 2000 gray(ClimateReAnalyzer)Here are two earlier images, for the same date in 2000 and in 2012.

The year 2000 was chosen because it most closely matches the ‘average 1979-2000’ graph (see the solid black line).

The year 2012 was chosen because it was the blockbuster year with the most records and the lowest readings during human history (see the dashed black line in the large graph near the top of this Post).20000526scp.. Arctic Sea Ice Extent (ClimateReAnalyzer)20120526scp.. Arctic Sea Ice Extent (ClimateReAnalyzer)

Look particularly at two map features: terrain snow cover, and open water. The terrain snow cover is a light gray overlay of brown land, and has clearly declined in Alaska, across northern Canada, and in the Rocky Mountains, from 2000 to 2012 to 2015. Likewise, the dark blue ‘open sea water’ has extended far northward, including:

  • the Bering Sea is now nearly ice free, and earlier melting in the Chukchi Sea north of the Bering Straits.
  • earlier open water in the lowest latitudes of the Beaufort Sea, around the MacKenzie River delta.
  • recession of the northern tips of both the Greenland Sea and the Barents Sea, north of Europe.
  • earlier meltoff of both Hudson Bay and Baffin Bay.

See also:

2015: A Record Year for Arctic Ice Melt?

The two graphs below are produced by the National Snow and Ice Data Center, in Boulder, CO. The full graph is updated daily, and can be viewed (and customized) at the NSIDC website. In this Post, aiREFORM has selected the record-low years (2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015), and zoomed in to create detailed screen-captures, presented below to allow a closer analysis. Continue reading

Transparency in Santa Monica: Video of the May 12 City Council Proceedings

20150512scp.. Santa Monica City Council video & agenda item 13-C [KSMO]

(click on image to view video of the City Council meeting) .. (link updated 7-14-2015)

The Santa Monica City Council held a regular session on Tuesday, May 12th. They heard six citizen comments, had a discussion, then voted unanimously to pass Item 13-C.

One of the more interesting comments was by Mayor Kevin McKeown, noting FAA’s uncooperative attitude. He discussed a 5/11/2015 letter he had sent to Congressman Lieu’s office, which included this: “…(you stated) FAA has told you that it will be only in ‘listening mode’ at the meeting … that is a serious disappointment as it suggest that the FAA will not be prepared to engage in meaningful dialogue about community concern or possible solutions … given the gravity of this situation, the FAA’s merely listening is less than satisfactory.”

Below is a brief timeline listing speakers and times within the video. Click on the image to open a separate window with a video of the City Council meeting. Coverage of this item spans 28-miniutes, beginning at video time 2:05:00.

02:05:00 Mayor Kevin McKeown opens discussion.
02:05:37 Short presentation by Councilor Terry O’Day.
02:07:20 Comments by Mayor McKeown. He discusses a meeting has been set for July 8, but FAA insists they will be in ‘listening-only mode’.
02:08:40 Comments by City Attorney Marsha Jones Moutrie.
02:12:29 Mayor McKeown calls first of six public speakers
02:12:50 Denise Barton offers citizen comment.
02:14:25 People of California offers citizen comment.
02:15:34 Jerry Rubin offers citizen comment.
02:17:20 Joe Schmitz offers citizen comment. Discusses ‘greenwashing’, in the context of FAA’s delayed removal of lead from aviation fuel.
02:19:36 Martin Rubin offers citizen comment.
02:21:25 Suzanne Paulson offers citizen comment.
02:23:35 Mike Feinstein offers citizen comment.
02:25:05 Mayor McKeown closes public hearing portion, opens the matter for Council discussion.
02:25:15 Discussion by Councilor O’Day. Offers a motion to direct staff to proceed.
02:26:33 Comments by Mayor pro tempore Tony Vasquez.
02:27:10 Comments by Mayor McKeown, largely focused on the conflict between FAA authority and the local authority, in managing the airport while serving the needs and welfare of the local community. Asks the City Attorney to comment on specific details.
02:29:25 City Attorney Moutrie provides her comments.
02:32:10 Further comments by Mayor McKeown. He notes the substantial air quality improvements that were measured a few years ago when the runway was closed for extended maintenance repairs. Here is the quote: “I’ll point out – I think it was five years ago – we had to close the runway for a few days to do some repaving and we asked the air quality management district to do some air quality studies. We found during the few days that the runway was shut down that particulate matter in the immediate vicinity was reduce by a factor of 12 to 17 times. So a very demonstrable impact of on-going aircraft operations that we can go forward with.”
02:33:00 VOTE: unanimous approval.

5/12/2015: Airport Pollution on the Agenda at Next Santa Monica City Council Meeting

In a regular session, scheduled to begin at 5:30PM on May 12th, the Santa Monica City Council will be considering an item related to air pollution at the Santa Monica Airport [KSMO]. At Item 13-C on the Meeting Agenda, Councilmember Terry O’Day is asking the Council to consider directing staff to prepare an ordinance and leasing standards that would limit allowable emissions of air pollutants from aircraft and other sources at the Santa Monica airport. A PDF copy of the DRAFT Ordinance can be viewed in a scrollable box on page two of this aiREFORM Post.

For those wanting to research the background, here are links to past documents. They shed some light on the extent of the KSMO air pollution problem:

ANALYSIS: Three Decades of Aviation Noise Politics May be Bracing for Impact

The news this year has been abuzz with Aviation Noise articles, and it does not appear to be slowing down.

Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Judith LaBuda heard closing arguments in a Boulder, CO trial, where impacted residents are seeking relief from the noise of Mile-Hi Skydiving Center, operating out of Longmont’s Vance Brand Airport [KLMO].

On the East Coast and the West Coast (in East Hampton, NY, and in Santa Monica, CA), citizens have ‘Just Said No’ to FAA grants for decades to get out from under ‘grant obligations’ and try to regain local control of their airports. They are now working diligently to finish their trek, to ensure local officials will not cave to late pressures from FAA and the industry. For once, they hope to see their local officials act to manage aviation noise and preserve ‘quality of life’. At East Hampton [KHTO], residents want relief from noisy commuter helicopters. At Santa Monica [KSMO], the biggest noise offender is also commercial, in the form of charter jets using a too-short runway, and also spraying soot and jet blast onto neighboring homes.

And, of course, there are the ongoing (and growing!) NextGen debacles impacting hundreds of thousands of sleep-deprived residents. Phoenix, Chicago, and New York have generated lots of big stories; Charlotte, Minneapolis, Seattle, Boston, Palo Alto, … the list will grow on. At each impacted community, millions of taxpayer dollars are used by FAA to attractively (and fraudulently) ‘green-wrap’ the debacle, and always stated as ‘in collaboration with industry stakeholders’. And, in case you missed it, FAA even wished everyone a Happy Earth Day!

Lots of news, but very little progress. Such is the politics of FAA and aviation noise.

Censorship in Colorado

As an example of how intensely political aviation noise is becoming, a conservative-leaning paper in Longmont recently censored out a reader comment. The paper, TimesCall.com, has generally been doing an excellent job of covering the citizens’ lawsuit against aviation operator Mile-Hi Skydiving. And their articles provide a ripe forum for people to express their views. As has come to be the standard in today’s online forums, the views are hugely polarized and sometimes downright rude and uncivil.

So, here’s a short overview of what happened at TimesCall.com. A person using the tag ‘JustSayinEP’ (Estes Park?) had made a comment which was promptly deleted by the website administrator. But, before the deletion, another person using the tag ‘Querty123’ responded, questioning if ‘JustSayinEP’ was threatening to use a rocket launcher to shoot down the main offending Mile-Hi Skydiving airplane, the loud white/purple Twin Otter. ‘JustSayinEP’ then promptly replied, and within his reply noted the content TimesCall.com had censored. To their credit, TimesCall.com did not censor this follow-up. Thus, we are all able to plausibly reconstruct their justification for the censorship. Here’s a screen-capture showing the comment thread (orange-box added by aiReform.com):

(click on image to read original article and reader comments at TimesCall.com)

(click on image to read original article and reader comments at TimesCall.com)

The censored comment included lyrics from Bruce Cockburn’s 1984 song about oppression in Guatemala, ‘If I had a Rocket Launcher’. The opening stanza of the song lyrics includes, “Here comes the helicopter, second time today, everybody scatters and hopes it goes away, how many kids they’ve murdered only God can say….” The second stanza includes, “I don’t believe in guarded borders and I don’t believe in hate, I don’t believe in generals or their stinking torture states….” See the full lyrics here; the song is short and simple, and the lyrics webpage has lots more information about how the song came to be written.

Here are two embedded YouTube videos. Take your pick (or, better, listen to both). The first is the video at the link posted by ‘JustSayinEP’, which has video images showing the human face in Guatemala; the second video is an acoustic version, on a stage in Canada, that many find more artistically impressive:

Both videos present a great song. This song is NOT intended to stir up violence. It is clearly intended to stir up PEOPLE, to get us to CARE ENOUGH to take non-violent action, to right an obvious wrong. As Bruce Cockburn explained about his new song, in a late 1984 interview, “this is not a call to arms. This is, this is a cry….”

A cry. In 1984, and again in 2015.

Which is why it seems surprising that TimesCall.com would see fit to censor it.

The Politics Go Back to Ronald Reagan

The deeper story gets into politics, and reveals some of the oppressive dark-side of aviation. Mr. Cockburn wrote this song more than thirty years ago, early in the Reagan Administration. Two of the biggest presidential moves on aviation were done by President Reagan in 1981. In August, he fired most of the FAA air traffic controllers, for their strike, an action that still resonates with labor today. Earlier in the year he had persuaded Congress to support his proposal to shut down the Office of Noise Abatement and Control (ONAC) at EPA, an action hugely relevant to the NextGen implementation debacles.

That was Reagan’s first year, 1981. In early 1982, in Central America, General José Efraín Ríos Montt staged a military coup and became President of Guatemala. He had distant support from a few other nations, including the Reagan administration, and he used aviation as perhaps his most powerful tool of oppression. Bruce Cockburn visited the Guatemalan refuge camps in the Mexican state of Chiapas, during the Montt dictatorship. He saw the way helicopters routinely ignored national borders to fly menacingly over and sometimes fire into refugee camps. An avowed pacifist, he was outraged by the inhumane oppression he saw, so he wrote this song. And, thankfully for the Guatemalan people, the presidency of General Montt was short-lived; it ended in August 1983.

Mr. Cockburn’s song does a fantastic job of illustrating the simple fact that people who are oppressed need relief from their oppression. No matter how peaceful people are, if a state of oppression is sustained, it is only right to stand firm and resist. The individual standing against oppression was once at the heart of our national identity. If the oppressor denies the oppressed effective recourse, in due time some may feel compelled toward violent action to retake their freedom. We took up arms against the British, and that crystallized our national identity. We all want to avoid violence, which is why we want to believe we have an open press and deliberative Courts, the essential nonviolent venues for maintaining civility. But history has shown, if the press and the Courts fail, peace too will soon fail. Thus, we MUST have a strong press and reliable Courts, openly covering the NextGen noise debacles, and justly deciding cases like the one in Boulder.

In the big picture, if we truly want a happy and peaceful world, we have to start with preserving basic quality of life, which includes vigorously guarding against oppression.

Noise is oppression.

Noise is oppression. Not as horrific and potentially lethal as an armed helicopter, but still oppressive. And bureaucratic inaction, as FAA consistently shows, doesn’t just frustrate the noise-oppressed; it also scuttles their chance for relief from other venues, such as when Courts reflexively defer to FAA, ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT FAA IS DOING ITS LEGISLATED DUTY. Which, by the way, FAA is NOT.

For reasons unknown, FAA has completely abandoned their federal responsibility to manage aviation noise. Some would conclude it is easily explained, if you simply understand that FAA today is a captured regulatory agency, existing solely to serve the industry.

In essence, the only difference between an aviation lobbyist and an FAA official in Washington is that the latter is still making small contributions into their federal retirement pension. So, as it stands today, if the airlines want political cover to add a few more million in annual profits by making early turns to climb out over Phoenix and Flushing, FAA provides that cover. Complaining citizens are just beaten down and ignored.

Today’s Noise Politics: On a Collision Course?

Today, NextGen noise is Oppression, and FAA is the intransigent Oppressor. Near NextGen airports, where new procedures are being implemented without needed environmental reviews and citizen input, ‘We the People’ are now ‘We the Oppressed’.

The current situation has become so untenable that in New York, U.S. Representative Grace Meng is advocating for a different agency to take over where FAA is failing. She wants to mend some of the errors of 1981, by resuming funding for the Office of Noise Abatement and Control (ONAC). And she wants EPA to run it, because, as she says, “(FAA) has failed to convince me and the public that it can objectively handle the problems caused by noise pollution. The EPA is better suited to study the consequences of noise pollution and propose measures to ameliorate this ongoing problem….” The proposal is presented in Congresswoman Meng’s 4/30/2015 letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

Her concerns are echoed in Arizona Senator John McCain’s 4/30/2015 letter to Administrator Huerta, seeking resolution of the Phoenix NextGen debacle.

ANALYSIS: The ‘Mogas’ Study at KHIO, by KB Environmental Sciences

This Post offers an analysis of a 59-page study funded by the Port of Portland, to investigate the potential and feasibility to sell unleaded aviation fuel at the Hillsboro Airport [KHIO]. It includes some background on the leaded fuel issue, followed by a look at (and critique of) the KB ‘Mogas’ Study.

Background

The Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, and included guidance for the removal of toxic lead from transportation fuels. It took more than two decades for EPA to completely phase out lead in automotive fuel, as was accomplished in 1996. But, although there are far fewer aircraft and fueling locations (and thus the change for aviation should have been faster and easier to accomplish), it has now been 45-years, yet lead remains in the most commonly used General Aviation (GA) fuel: 100LL, commonly called Avgas.

Many aircraft have been modified to safely use unleaded fuel, commonly called Mogas. The problem, though, is that while mogas is widely available from wholesalers, very few airports have invested in the above-ground storage tanks and/or fuel trucks needed to offer this less hazardous fuel choice. Thus, even busy GA airports do not offer mogas. Such is the case today at the Hillsboro Airport [KHIO], west of Portland, OR.

20150204scp.. PoP Aternatives to Lead in Aviation Fuel [KHIO]For the past few years, lead has been a focused issue at the Hillsboro Airport. The airport is owned/operated by the Port of Portland (PoP). It is common throughout the U.S. for airport authorities to appoint citizen groups, which ostensibly assures the community is involved in airport impact decisions. In reality, though, PoP and other airport authorities tend to stack the membership of these groups so as to assure they vote favorably for the airport uses (and against the airport neighbors). At Hillsboro, PoP created the Hillsboro Airport Roundtable Exchange (HARE). Many airport neighbors feel that HARE is strongly aligned with the aviation interests at KHIO, particularly Hillsboro Aviation.

The KB ‘Mogas’ Study’s Summary:

At some point in the recent past, the Port of Portland hired a consultant to prepare a study related to the KHIO avgas/mogas issue. They hired KB Environmental Sciences, based in Tampa Bay, FL (and with offices in Washington, DC and Seattle) to do a study. KB is one of a handful of companies who make lots of money doing studies that are use by the aviation status quo to sustain practices and delay change. KB’s 59-page report was completed last December, and just recently made public. Here is the bullet list from the Executive Summary page:

…to read the study summary and the aiREFORM analysis,
please see page two of this Post…

Seven Months above 400ppm

We’re already back above 400 parts per million of CO2 in our atmosphere.

Last year, we hit this mark in early April. This year, we are two months earlier. Given the clear trends since Keeling first started measuring atmosphere CO2 in the late 1950’s, we can expect to briefly pass below 400ppm next Fall, then pass above 400ppm late in 2015, never to fall below again.

The text below was posted a year ago, and it still applies…

Geologists are confident that, going back to at least 800,000 years ago, the CO2 in our Earth atmosphere has never exceeded 300ppm … or at least not until AFTER mankind started creating CO2 by burning coal, oil and natural gas. When measurements were started in Mauno Loa, in 1958, the annual peak for CO2 was 315ppm. As shown by the graph below, for the past week, the daily average has remained above 400ppm.

20150130scp.. KeelingCurve holding at 400+
So, the pressing question is:

…when (and how) will we get control
of our addiction to fossil fuels?

See also:
  • The Scripps Institution of Oceanography updates this online graph everyday.