Greenland Ice Facing an Early Melt Season (and new records)

An interesting article by the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), detailing this year’s extraordinarily warm arctic winter and accelerating Greenland melt rates.

20160412.. Unusually Early Greenland Melt (Danish Meteorological Institute, PolarPortal.dk)

(click on image to view article at polarportal.dk)

Given that the mainstream media (and the airlines and other industries that buy services from the media) continue to downplay and ignore these developments, here is a simple list of what this plausibly means re our planetary future:

  1. melting Greenland ice is creating a lens of cold fresh water, accumulating in the northern Atlantic; this is shunting the warm-water Gulf Stream, which backs up against the cold lens and is forced to dive under the cold fresh water.
  2. the result, in climate terms, is a developing configuration with an area of very warm water adjacent to an area of very cold water; this configuration tends to intensify weather patterns, creating a high frequency of weather events with stronger winds and larger rainfalls/flooding (sort of like turning up the heat under a tea kettle; water that had been warm but quiescent now starts to circulate and bubble).
  3. other climate change results include an intensified north-south flow of weather patterns that causes rapid temperature fluctuations from unseasonably warm to killing frosts; on a local level, this will potentially destroy trees and other perennial plants, while also reducing our ability to produce needed annual food crops.
  4. the ice melt from both Arctic and Antarctic regions will increase the volume of water in our oceans, which in turn will cause tens of meters of sea level rise; major cities (and airports) will be flooded, including: London, New York, Miami, Shanghai, Bangkok, Rome, Buenos Aires, and many more. Hundreds of millions of people will be displaced; extraordinary acreages of the most productive farmland will be lost.

The connection to aviation comes in these ways:

  • First, the evident root cause of this climate change is the collective (and excessive) consumption of fossil fuels by all of humanity.
  • Some forms of fossil fuel consumption are more necessary, while some are more discretionary. While heating homes and providing electricity are relatively ‘necessary’ across the globe, flying for business or pleasure is a very discretionary activity.
  • The per capita rate of fossil fuel consumption is not even close to level; while some populations consume almost no fossil fuels, other populations are ‘off the charts’ due to daily commutes, air travel, suburban sprawl, etc.
  • Aviation is extraordinarily dependent on fossil fuels, in that we are nowhere close to developing alternative energy sources that can efficiently power scheduled passenger or cargo flights.
  • there is no other common human activity that consumes fossil fuels – and generates CO2 and other pollutants – at a faster rate than does aviation. The per capita pollution rate is particularly intense for business jet (bizjet) operations. Instead of tax laws that incentivize acquisition and use of bizjets, we need tax laws that strongly disincentivize.
  • The conversion of farmlands from growing food to growing aviation biofuels is absurd, unjust, and ultimately undermines security across vast regions of the world.
  • The combustion of fossil fuels at higher altitudes is believed to create significant air pollutants, including soot that precipitates onto areas of polar ice, thus further accelerating ice melt and sea level rise.

See also:

Ask John Kerry to Advocate for an Aviation Emissions Cap

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has initiated a letter campaign, seeking to get U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to press for a global cap on international aviation emissions. Here is a screen-capture, linked to a WWF webpage with further info and a quick signup to join the letter campaign.

(click on image to view campaign webpage at WorldWildlife.org)

(click on image to view campaign webpage at WorldWildlife.org)

Fossil Fuel Campaign Contributions: ‘I Am So Sick’

On the campaign trail, candidate Hillary Clinton lost her cool in this quick exchange, caught on video:

citizen: “Thank you for tackling climate change. Will you act on your words and reject future fossil fuel money in your campaign?” 

20160331scp.. 'I am So SICK!'

Hillary: “I do not have… I have money from people who work for fossil fuel companies. I am so sick… I AM SO SICK of the Sanders campaign lying about me. I’m sick of it.”

Hillary then walks on, and resumes working the crowd.

20160331.. 'I'm the Greenpeace Activist who Asked HRC to Pledge rejecting FF money'(E.Resnick-Day, Greenpeace)

(click on image to view a PDF copy of the Greenpeace blog post)

The citizen was Eva Resnick-Day, and she followed up with a blog post about the incident. Eva is NOT affiliated with the Sanders campaign, but works for Greenpeace and is an activist for both democracy and climate action. Given the emerging reality of climate change, and also given the total reliance of aviation on FOSSIL FUELS, it is critical that our future political leaders can recognize the problems and initiate plans to fix the problems. It is also critical that our leaders guide us away from what appears to be a trend toward fascism dressed up as a self-serving ‘collaboration’ between bureaucrats, elected officials and corporate interests … such as we see with today’s matured ‘Av-Gov Complex’.

Hillary’s ‘I am so sick!’ reaction, and her evident intent to continue business as usual is simply unacceptable.


See also:
  • 4/1/2016 – copy of an email sent out by BernieSanders.com. Includes a link to a petition asking candidate Clinton to pledge to reject fossil fuel campaign donations.

Arctic Sea Ice Continues Decaying to Record Lows

Slowly, the mainstream media is coming around to cease enabling denialism of climate change and anthropogenic global warming. An initial watermark was the revelation last year that Exxon Mobil had spent decades hiding research results and giving millions to entities that worked to seed doubt. A more recent watermark is found by simply looking at the Arctic sea ice decline. We reasonably assess polar sea ice decline in three ways: areal extent of the ice, thickness of the ice, and age-distribution of the ice. The latter two parameters are of course closely related.

Here are two graphics depicting the extraordinarily rapid destruction of the Arctic ice that has existed throughout human history, providing a stabilizing base for our weather patterns. The embedded video shows a time-lapse simulation of daily Arctic sea ice extent from September 2015 onward. The JPEG below compiles four images, at 8-year intervals from 1990 to 2014, showing the near-disappearance of all ice more than 2-years old.

SOURCE: NSIDC via Climate Central and Ecowatch.com (click on image to view a 22-second video with weekly ice conditions over the 1990-2015 timeframe)

SOURCE: NSIDC via Climate Central and Ecowatch.com (click on image to view a 22-second video with weekly ice conditions over the 1990-2015 timeframe)

Aviation, especially by residents of the most ‘advanced’ economies, makes a substantial contribution to this sea ice decline, both in generated greenhouse gasses and in dark soot that accumulates on the ice and then accelerates summer melting.

Research suggests that our continued excessive fossil fuel consumption is the root cause of this rapid polar ice decline and related phenomena of global warming, weather intensification, and regional instabilities. Further, that if trends continue, we will soon be urgently seeking ways to stop generating greenhouse gasses such as CO2. This distills down to a problem of hyper-consumption, and in solving the problem one of the easiest targets is aviation. So, perhaps in the next few years we might see a stiff carbon tax on all aviation fuels, to discourage excessive flying in all forms: commercial airline passengers, subsidized bizjets (for business, as well as for golf junkets), and even small plane recreational flying.


See also:
  • 2/21/2016 – What Happens if Arctic Ice Seasonally Disappears?
  • 2/9/2016 – ICAO Announces New CO2 Rules … Their Proposal is All Hype & Offers Little Meaningful Progress
  • 7/24/2015 – Arctic Ice Melt on a Tear in Recent Weeks
  • 12/9/2014 – Oceans Will Rise more Quickly as Antarctic Ice Melt Accelerates
  • 10/9/2012 – Is Arctic ice melting faster than expected?

What Happens if Arctic Ice Seasonally Disappears?

No Winter For the Arctic in 2016 — NASA Marks Hottest January Ever Recorded is a recent Post at RobertScribbler.com. As usual, the blogger does a considerable amount of research and presents some fascinating graphics. One graphic in this Post was particularly compelling:

20160221cpy.. chart showing 2016 2m temps north of 80N, plotted over 1980-2010 distribution

(This chart shows temperature distributions by date, based on NOAA data for the years 1980 through 2010. Note the gray bands related to temperature probabilities: a wide light gray band shows all values, a narrower medium gray band shows a 15-85% probability range, a narrower darker gray band shows a 30-70% probability range, and the thick black line shows the median value for 1980 through 2010. Data for the year 2016 is superimposed in red; notice how it plots far warmer than the median. The thin red box at the top, across the May-October portion of the curve, and the orange vertical lines were added by aiREFORM.)

The compelling part of this graphic is in the center: that thin, flat line at the top, during the summer months. It shows that, for a few months of the year, Arctic temperatures steady out right at the freezing point, 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The thin/flat line also begs the question: why? And, a few follow-up questions, such as: will it always be this way, or will it eventually change, and how will those changes impact our environment across the planet?

The answers seem obvious, and troubling. On a hot day, if we get a beverage with ice, the temperature of that liquid hovers at freezing, so long as there remains at least a little ice in the water. When the ice is gone, though, the temperature of our refreshing liquid rapidly mimics the air temperature. So, the flat area at the top of this chart, generally for the 3-month period from June through August, shows almost zero temperature variation – just a steady 32 degrees Fahrenheit. It appears that the melting of Arctic ice provides a moderating effect, steadying air temperatures right at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take away that ice and what will happen? There will no longer be a moderating effect. In fact, we reasonably should see a pair of short transition periods, in the Spring and Fall, when patterns of solar energy and air temperatures cause weeks of transition between ice and water. But, between these transition periods, when the ice is fully melted, the energy buffering related to daily water phase changes from liquid to solid and back to liquid is gone, so there can no longer be a moderating effect. And, additionally, it seems likely that the time-window during which Arctic temperatures can substantially exceed freezing will lengthen, spanning not just 3-months but eventually to even 7-months, from April through October.

How will this impact our environment? Logically, it means the entire hemisphere becomes at play in the weather system during the ice-free months. The stabilizing effect that has always existed, throughout the entire history of humankind, will be gone. Weather systems, needed to distribute energy excesses in equatorial regions, will now play out with greater intensity, higher frequency, and over the full distance from equator to pole. Longer seasons for hurricanes and tornadoes; stronger weather changes that can destroy crops and even kill perennials (forests, orchards, berries, grapes).

Big Oil and others, including the Av-Gov Complex, would like us all to believe otherwise: just keep on consuming, indeed consume even more per person; fly even more, and buy even more products shipped by air. And, they are getting lots of help from the captured agencies and bought-up elected officials in today’s corrupt system. But, then again, all of the Av-Gov Complex players do personally benefit when aviation impacts are maximized along with revenues and profits….


See also:
  • ‘How Far Can We Get Without Flying?’ – a Yes! Magazine article by Peter Kalmus, a JPL climate scientist, who doesn’t just quit flying, he also writes to help others who want to reduce their carbon footprint. Click here to view a scrollable PDF copy.

Arctic Sea Ice Setting Multiple New Record Lows in 2016

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), in Boulder, CO, updates a webpage each day, showing the measured sea ice extent for both the Arctic and Antarctic polar regions. The data is presented via a user-customizable chart, called the ‘Charctic Interactive Sea Ice Graph’. Here is a screen-cap of a recent chart, with additional content added by aiREFORM.com:20160218scp.. Peak date arctic sea ice extent

This chart shows daily Arctic sea ice extent for selected years (2006, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016) for the calendar window from approximately January 15th through March 26th each year. The  color-codes for the lines representing each year are noted in the index; the heavy black line (highest plot) represents an average for all years 1981-2010. The gray background band represents a range of +/-2 standard deviations for the 1981-2010 dataset.

For each calendar year, there is a date at which the peak Arctic sea ice extent is reached. Following that date, sea ice extent declines until reaching an annual cyclical bottom, typically in mid- to late- September. Vertical red lines have been added to help see the dates of peak sea ice extent. The ‘average’ date for peak ice, as suggested by the 1981-2010 average plot, is March 13th. Note that the peak for 2015 was the earliest on record: February 25th. Now, for this year, as of February 17th, the Arctic sea ice extent is 14.203 square kilometers. We are at an all-time low record, and nearly 2% below last year, when we had 14.469 square kilometers extent.

So far this year, the sea ice extent has set new records for three different time periods: January 3-9, February 2-6, and for the past week (starting on February 11). This data offers yet one more indicator suggesting that we are imposing very rapid and very significant warming onto our planet, with a consequence of accelerated polar ice melting.


See also:

Airport Weather Observations (METARs) for Winter Storm Jonas

20160124cpy.. Winter Storm Jonas snow depth map (WeatherChannel)A storm for the record books, Jonas is also understood to be an indication of storms to come. And, it is not a stretch to understand the cause and effect – the link between these extreme weather events and our energy consumption habits:

  • excessive fossil fuel consumption, causes…
    • …excessive greenhouse gas accumulation, causes…
      • …geologically rapid and substantial temperature increases, causes…
        •  …a more energized weather system, with more heat energy and larger amounts of water vapor, causes…
          • …more violently-interacting air masses (hence, intensified weather).

So, in the course of just a few human generations, we are literally destroying the habitability of our waters and our air. And aviation is very much at the heart of this problem. Not only is aviation arguably the poster-child of excessive and arbitrary energy consumption, but this industry also relies heavily on fossil fuel consumption (and it does us no real benefit to take food crops out of production to grow biofuels for aviation!). Thus, our best political leaders (if we have any?!) will take note: aviation is perhaps the most logical first target within the transportation sector, for meaningful action to address our growing problem of excessive atmospheric CO2.

Weather & Aviation

Aviation safety has always depended on accurate and detailed weather predictions and observations. The international system for recording weather observations is METAR. METAR observations are recorded at least once per hour at most U.S. airports, and more frequently when conditions are changing or marginal. Although the intricate coding may feel a bit ‘geeky’, it is not difficult to learn to read METARs; see Reference Materials for Decoding METARs.

July 22, 2013: Dangerous crosswinds and tailwinds contributed to this high-speed landing and nose gear collapse for a Southwest KLGA arrival.

METARs are also an excellent resource to use, to help predict the flow configurations and thus the likely impacts on your home or community, as caused by your local airport. ATC constantly refers to METARs to make runway change decisions. In most cases, ATC selects a runway configuration that is aligned into the wind, to maximize safety. At some of the most congested airports though (LGA and JFK come to mind), FAA’s failure to stop excessive airline scheduling has created barriers to runway changes, and has thus created unsafe landing conditions. These conditions have contributed to incidents, sometimes with injuries or worse. One example: the July 22, 2013 crash of Southwest Flight #345 while landing at La Guardia.

DIY: Viewing METARs Online

Most of the larger snow-impacted airports include snowfall and accumulated snow depth in their METAR observations. The METAR observations, recorded 3-times per hour during most of this weather event, offer a fascinating and precise insight into the weather severity.

Here is a summary of snowfall totals and snow history for the ten largest commercial service airports, listed from north to south. For each airport, three blue links include the aiREFORM airport page, the current METAR (showing the last 168 observations), and the NOAA forecast:

[KBOS] — Boston-Logan Airport
Snowfall first reported at 1:54pm Saturday, ended 11-hours later at 12:04am Sunday. Snow Depth not recorded. Peak winds 35 gusting to 45.METARForecast
[KPVD] — Providence Airport
Snowfall first reported at 12:30pm Saturday, ended 10-hours later at 10:16pm Saturday. Snow Depth not recorded. Peak winds 29 gusting to 38.METARForecast
[KISP] — Long Island / Islip Airport
Snowfall first reported at 11:56pm Friday, ended 29-hours later at 4:56am Sunday. Snow Depth reached 23-inches. Peak winds 36 gusting to 52.METARForecast
[KLGA] — LaGuardia Airport
Snowfall first reported at 10:30pm Friday, ended 28-hours later at 2:45am Sunday. Snow Depth reached 28-inches. Peak winds 32 gusting to 48.METARForecast
[KJFK] — JFK Airport
Snowfall first reported at 9:49pm Friday, ended 27-hours later at 2:51am Sunday. Snow Depth reached 30-inches. Peak winds 33 gusting to 46.METARForecast
[KEWR] — Newark Airport
Snowfall first reported at 9:28pm Friday, ended 29-hours later at 2:51am Sunday. Snow Depth reached 21-inches. Peak winds 30 gusting to 39.METARForecast
[KPHL] — Philadelpia Airport
Snowfall first reported at 6:34pm Friday, ended 28-hours later at 10:19pm Saturday. Snow Depth not recorded. Peak winds 31 gusting to 49.METARForecast
[BWI] — Baltimore-Washington Airport
Snowfall first reported at 1:38pm Friday, ended 35-hours later at 12:54am Sunday. Snow Depth reached 27-inches. Peak winds 23 gusting to 37.METARForecast
[KIAD] — Washington-Dulles Airport
Snowfall first reported at 12:52pm Friday, ended 35-hours later at 11:52pm Saturday. Snow Depth reached 23-inches. Peak winds 28 gusting to 46.METARForecast
[KDCA] — Washington-Reagan Airport
Snowfall first reported at 12:59pm Friday, ended 36-hours later at 12:52 am Sunday. Snow Depth reached 18-inches. Peak winds 29 gusting to 43.METARForecast

And, here is a compilation of the METARs for all ten airports, converted into a scrollable PDF file:

This pop-out view is scrollable, and the PDF copy may be downloaded.

Next Up: The Melting

The initial snowfall and winds are just Part One of this weather event. Part Two will soon play out, as the accumulated snowfall melts and eventually flows away. Depending on how much (and how quickly) temperatures warm up, and how much rain falls onto the accumulated snow, there may be local flooding, ponding, and other problems. Airport conditions could remain untenable for many days.


See also:

Arctic Sea Ice Extent: Flat-lining in Mid-Winter?

One of the most important measures of significant climate change is Arctic sea ice extent. Associated with the recent extreme/weird weather events during the last week of 2015, we had an intense low pressure system with hurricane force winds blow north over Iceland, and heating the North Pole surface air to above freezing. This happened, of course, during a time of year when the North Pole is normally in the middle of a 6-month stretch of cold darkness, spanning from the Fall Equinox to the Spring Equinox.

20160105scp.. Arctic Sea Ice Extent (graph 2005-2015, crossing year)One consequence of this warm air blast is that Arctic sea ice extent flat-lined at 12.8 million square kilometers (of surface area with at least 15% ice coverage). To the right is a graph showing sea ice extent, with colored lines depicting the years from 2005-2016. This graph actually fuses two smaller graph fragments, both copied from NSIDC; on the left half is the graph for the last days of the year, and on the right is the graph for the first days of the year. The light gray background represents two standard deviations below the 1981-2010 average value (thick black line, near the top of the graph).

The right end of the flat red line marks January 4th. This is a record low sea ice extent, even below the previous record for 2011 (orange line). A significant concern with this low ice level is that, come Spring, there may be far less accumulated ice to melt, in both area extent and ice thickness. This may result in a rapid melt off, setting new low records through the Summer, beating the previous low records set in 2012. The minimal Arctic sea ice extent reliably occurs around September 15th each year.

A worthwhile discussion of the recent weather events was covered by a panel at the weekly show, HashtagVOA. Featured panelists included Robert Fanney (RobertScribbler blog), Dr. Jeff Masters (WeatherUnderground), and Dr. Steven Amstrup (Polar Bears International). Here’s an embed of the 30-minute video:


See also:
  • 1/5/2016 – Post by Sam Carana, at the Arctic-News blog. Includes image-set showing downward trend in sea-ice thickness, on the fourth of January, from 2012 to 2015 and on to 2016.

Aviation Emissions were Not Part of the COP21 Negotiations

COP21, the international negotiations in Paris, aimed at bringing nations together to minimize the potentially dangerous impacts of anthropogenic climate change, closed one week ago. There has now been enough time for the details of the agreement to be assessed. One early publication is a simple infographic by euractiv.com. Here is a screen-capture of the last panel in their infographic:

(click on image to view full infographic at online source, euractiv.com)

(click on image to view full infographic at online source, euractiv.com)

The omission of the aviation sector is noted on the left side, and the attached yellow post-it has this comment: “International shipping and aviation emit as much as entire wealthy nations, but they’re not bound by the COP21 deal. These emissions won’t be covered by reductions being discussed at COP21, because they don’t happen within the boundaries of any specific countries. They’re also projected to rise dramatically by 2050.”

Since FAA and most other world aviation regulators are moving slowly (if at all?) on climate change, and since COP21 is trusting the industry will self-regulate, we need the aviation industry leaders to take charge. They need to work toward a steep carbon tax, and they need to discover ways to significantly improve their energy efficiency. Air travel is better than it was in the gas-guzzling days when jet travel began, but air travel remains as the fastest way for a human being to create CO2.

If aviation industry leaders do not act promptly, they very soon may be looking at substantially scaling back their industry. Perhaps even within a decade. It would not be surprising to see flying become a mode of travel used only out of extreme need; to see aviation vacations become a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ event.

[QUOTE]: A Blogger with Doubts about COP21

Aside

Quote:

“…What is going on in Paris this week is not serious, nor is it hopeful, nor even meaningful. Just call it bread and circuses, without the bread.”

– Conclusion in an 11/30 blog by Tom Lewis, at DailyImpact.net

Click here to read the original blog post.

Thousands of delegates – and well over a hundred heads of state – all flew to Paris for COP21. Did they fly just to make an appearance, saying one thing but acting another? Or, did they fly with authentic intent, to get down to business and finally (after two+ decades of senseless delays!) take real action to address the looming climate change problem? Time will tell.


See also: