Showing posts with label Gulf Stream. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gulf Stream. Show all posts

Monday, 15 February 2016

Arctic sea ice remains at a record low for time of year

For the time of year, Arctic sea ice remains at a record low since satellite records started in 1979, both for area and extent. The image below shows Arctic sea ice area up to February 12, 2016, when area was 12.49061 million square km.


The image below shows Arctic sea ice extent up to February 12, 2016, when extent was 14.186 million square km.


The reason for the record low sea ice is that there is more ocean heat than there used to be. The image below shows that on February 12, 2016, the Arctic Ocean sea surface temperature was as warm as 11.3°C (52.4°F) at a location near Svalbard marked by the green circle, a 10.4°C (18.7°F) anomaly.


The reason for this is that the water off the east coast of North America is much warmer than it used to be.

The Gulf Stream is pushing heat all the way into the Arctic Ocean.

The image below shows that on February 14, 2016, sea surface temperature anomalies (compared to 1981-2011) off the east coast of North America were was as high as 10.1°C or 18.1°F (at the location marked by the green circle).

While sea surface looks cooler (compared to 1981-2011) over a large part of the North Atlantic, an increasing amount of ocean heat appears to be traveling underneath the sea surface all the way into the Arctic Ocean, as discussed at this earlier post.

This spells bad news for the sea ice in 2016, since El Niño is still going strong. Temperatures in January 2016 over the Arctic Ocean were 7.3°C (13.1°F) higher than in 1951-1980, according to NASA data, as illustrated by the graph on the right.

See the Controversy page for discussion
A polynomial trend added to the January land temperature anomaly on the Northern Hemisphere since 1880 shows that a 10°C (18°F) rise could eventuate by the year 2044, as illustrated by the graph on the right. Over the Arctic Ocean, the rise can be expected to be even more dramatic.

As the NASA map below illustrates, the global January 2016 land-ocean temperature anomaly from 1951-1980 was 1.13°C (or over 2°F) and the heat did hit the Arctic Ocean stronger than elsewhere.

In January 2016, it was 1.92°C (3.46°F) warmer on land than in January 1890-1910. Before 1900, temperature had already risen by ~0.3°C (0.54°F), which makes it a joint 2.22°C (4°F) rise. On the Northern Hemisphere, the rise on land was the most profound, with over 10°C (18°F) warming occurring at the highest latitudes.


Meanwhile, methane levels as high as 2539 parts per billion (ppb) were recorded on February 13, 2016, as illustrated by the image below.


The danger is that, as the Arctic Ocean keeps warming, huge amounts of methane will erupt abruptly from its seafloor.

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

Update: Arctic sea ice extent keeps falling. Last year (2015), maximum sea ice extent was reached on February 25. Could it be that maximum extent for this year was already reached on February 9, 2016? The image below illustrates this question. discussed further at the Arctic News group.

discuss this further at the Arctic News group



Arctic sea ice extent keeps falling. Last year (2015), maximum sea ice extent was reached on February 25. Could it be...
Posted by Sam Carana on Monday, February 15, 2016

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Arctic Sea Ice Collapse Threatens - Update 7

The image below shows Arctic sea ice extent, with the blue dot indicating that extent for August 30, 2015, was 4.804 million square kilometers. Satellite records shows that, at this time of the year, extent was only lower in 2007, 2011 and 2012.


There are a number of reasons why sea ice looks set to decrease dramatically over the next few weeks. On above image, extent for 2015 looks set to soon cross the lines for the years 2007 and 2011, while the sea ice today is in an even worse condition than one might conclude when looking at extent alone.

Thick sea ice is virtually absent compared to the situation in the year 2012 around this time of year, as illustrated by the image below that compares sea ice thickness on August 30, 2012 (left) with August 30, 2015 (right).


Furthermore, sea surface temperatures are very high. The North Pacific, on August 31, 2015, was about 1°C (1.8°F) warmer than it was compared to the period from 1971 to 2000, as illustrated by the Climate Reanalyzer image on the right.

As the image below shows, sea surface temperature anomalies are very high around North America, both in the Pacific Ocean and in the Atlantic Ocean.

The image below shows sea surface temperatures on August 30, 2015, indicating that a huge amount of ocean heat has accumulated in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North America.


The Gulf Stream is carrying much of this warm water toward the Arctic Ocean. Additionally, warm water from the Pacific Ocean is entering the Arctic Ocean through the Bering Strait.


Above image below shows sea surface temperature anomalies in the Arctic as at August 31, 2015.




There still are a few weeks to go before sea ice can be expected to reach its minimum, at around half September 2015, while sea currents will continue to carry warmer water into the Arctic Ocean for months to come.

There is a strengthening El Niño, while more open water increases the chance that storms will develop that will push the last remnants of the sea ice out of the Arctic Ocean, as discussed in earlier posts such as this one. Storms can also mix warm surface waters all the way down to the seafloor, as discussed in this earlier post. Typhoons increase this danger. The above image show three typhoons in the Pacific Ocean on 30 August, 2015, and the Climate Reanalyzer image on the right shows them on September 1, 2015.

These typhoons are headed in the direction of the Arctic. The Climate Reanalyzer forecast for September 8, 2015, below shows typhoons in the Pacific Ocean close to the Arctic Ocean, as well as strong wind over the Arctic Ocean.


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

Thick sea ice is virtually absent compared to the situation in the year 2012 around this time of year....
Posted by Sam Carana on Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Watch where the wind blows

The Arctic looks set to be pummeled by strong winds on February 5, 2015, as shown by the Climate Reanalyzer forecast below.


The video below, based on Climate Reanalyzer images, watch the situation unfold over a period of 9 days



Strong winds can increase the transport of warm water into the Arctic Ocean by the Gulf Stream. The video shows strong winds repeatedly developing off the North American east coast and moving along the path of the Gulf Stream, all the way into the Arctic Ocean, all in a matter of days.

Emissions are causing greater warming of the Gulf Stream and the Arctic. As a result, there is less temperature difference between the equator and the Arctic, slowing down the speed at which the jet streams circumnavigate the globe, while the jets can also become wavier, which in turn can cause extreme weather events.

In this case, what fuels these winds is the temperature difference between an area off the east coast of North America where temperatures are much higher than they used to be on the one hand, and an area in Siberia where temperatures are extremely low on the other hand. Wind flows from a warm area to a cold area, and the greater the temperature difference, the stronger the wind will blow.

The image below shows that, on February 3rd, 2015, a sea surface temperature of 21°C (69.8°F) was recorded off the east coast of North America (green circle), which constitutes a 12°C (21.6°F) anomaly. Anomalies as high as 12°C were also recorded on February 4, 2015.

click on image to enlarge
Changes to the jet streams can thus fuel strong winds, and such winds can bring warmer air into the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean. On February 5, 2015, surface temperatures over a large part of the Arctic Ocean were more than 20°C (36°F) warmer compared to what they were from 1985 to 1996.


Extreme weather events, as a result of changes to the jet streams and polar vortex, are depicted as feedback #19 in the diagram below, while storms that bring warmer air into the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean are depicted as feedback #5,

Besides increasing the transport of warm water into the Arctic Ocean and bringing warmer air into the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean, strong winds can also break up the sea ice by sheer brute force of the waves caused by the wind.

Waves as high as 10.61 m (34.81 ft) were recorded south of Greenland on February 4, 2015, while waves as high as 7.05 m (23.13 ft) were recorded on the edge of the Arctic sea ice (east of Svalbard) on February 5, 2015, as shown on the combination image below.



Waves that break up the sea ice into smaller pieces can speed up melting, especially in summer. More wind also means more water evaporation, and warmer air holds more water vapor, so this can result in huge rainstorms that can rapidly devastate the integrity of the ice. Strong winds thus constitute a feedback that can result in more open waters in the Arctic Ocean (feedback #6 on the diagram below).

Furthermore, strong winds can speed up the currents that will eventually move sea ice out of the Arctic Ocean into the Atlantic Ocean (feedback #7). Wavy waters catch more sunlight than still water (feedback #8). Decline of the Arctic snow and ice cover results in more sunlight being absorbed by the Arctic, thus further heating up the water of the Arctic ocean (feedback #1).

The dual image below, with images from Climate Reanalyzer, shows high sea surface temperatures around North America and at the edges of the Arctic sea ice. This contributes to surface temperatures that are 20°C (36 °F) higher than what they used to be in Eastern Siberia. At the same time, temperatures on land elsewhere in Siberia, on the North Pole and in parts of Canada and Greenland can go down to 40 degrees below zero.



Accelerated warming of the Arctic is changing the jet streams, in turn contributing to the likelyhood that such strong winds will hit the Arctic. The high temperature difference between the hot spot off the North American east coast and the cold spot over Siberia fuels such strong winds. The dual images below show the jet stream's elongated path over Greenland. Accordingly, temperature anomalies in Greenland are reaching the top end of the scale.



The big danger is that such strong winds will warm up the Arctic Ocean and cause huge amounts of methane to erupt from its seafloor.

The image below shows that methane levels as high as 2503 ppb were recorded on January 31, 2015.



Such methane eruptions constitute yet another feedback that further contributes to warming in the Arctic. For more feedbacks, see the image below.

from:  climateplan.blogspot.com/p/feedbacks.html

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





Thursday, 4 September 2014

State Of Extreme Emergency

by Malcolm Light

PRESIDENT OBAMA MUST DECLARE A STATE OF EXTREME NATIONAL EMERGENCY AND CEASE ORCHESTRATING A WAR WITH RUSSIA. HE MUST RECALL HIS ENTIRE ARMY AND NAVY PERSONNEL TO THE UNITED STATES TO BEGIN A MASSIVE CONVERSION OF THE US ENERGY SYSTEM TO SOLAR AND WIND POWER. THIS CONVERSION MUST RESULT IN ALL 600 COAL POWER STATIONS AND NUCLEAR STATIONS BEING COMPLETELY SHUT DOWN IN THE NEXT 5 TO 10 YEARS. ALL SURFACE TRANSPORT BOTH PRIVATE AND PUBLIC MUST BE ENTIRELY ELECTRIFIED AND AIR TRANSPORT CONVERTED TO METHANE OR HYDROGEN FUEL. IF THIS IS NOT DONE, HUMANITY WILL BE FACING TOTAL EXTINCTION IN AN ARCTIC METHANE FIRESTORM BETWEEN 2040 AND 2050.


The US and Canada must cut their global emissions of carbon dioxide by 90% in the next 10 to 15 years, otherwise they will be become an instrument of mass destruction of the Earth and its entire human population. Recovery of the United States economy from the financial crisis has been very unsoundly based by the present Administration on an extremely hazardous "all of the above" energy policy that has allowed continent wide gas fracking, coal and oil sand oil mining and the return of widespread drilling to the Gulf. Coast. This large amount of fossil fuel has to be transported and sold which has caused extensive spills, explosions and confrontations with US citizens over fracking and the Keystone XL pipeline. Gas fracking is in the process of destroying the entire aquifer systems of the United States and causing widespread earthquakes. The oil spills are doing the same to the surface river run off.

We are now facing a devastating final show down with Mother Nature, which is being massively accelerated by the filthy extraction of fossil fuels by US and Canada by gas fracking, coal and tar sand mining and continent wide bitumen transport. The United States and other developed nations made a fatal mistake by refusing to sign the original Kyoto protocols. The United States and Canada must now cease all their fossil fuel extraction and go entirely onto renewable energy in the next 10 to 15 years otherwise they will be guilty of planetary ecocide - genocide by the 2050's.

The volume transport of the Gulf Stream has increased by three times since the 1940's due to the rising atmospheric pressure difference set up between the polluted, greenhouse gas rich air above North America and the marine Atlantic Air. The increasingly heated Gulf Stream with its associated high winds and energy rich weather systems then flows NE to Europe where it recently pummeled Great Britain with catastrophic storms. Other branches of the Gulf Stream then enter the Arctic and disassociate the subsea Arctic methane hydrate seals on subsea and deep high - pressure mantle methane reservoirs below the Eurasian Basin- Laptev Sea transition. This is releasing increasing amounts of methane into the atmosphere producing anomalous temperatures, greater than 20°C above average. Over very short time periods of a few days to a few months the atmospheric methane has a global warming potential from 1000 to 100 times that of carbon dioxide.


There are such massive reserves of methane in the subsea Arctic methane hydrates, that if only a few percent of them are disassociated, they will lead to a jump in the average temperature of the Earth's atmosphere by 10°C and produce a "Permian" style major extinction event which will kill us all. The whole northern hemisphere is now covered by a thickening atmospheric methane global warming veil that is spreading southwards at about 1 km a day and it already totally envelopes the United States. A giant hole in the equatorial ozone layer has also been discovered in the west Pacific which acts like an elevator transferring methane from lower altitudes to the stratosphere where it already forms a dense equatorial global warming stratospheric band that is spreading into the Polar regions.


During the last winter, the high Arctic winter temperatures and pressures have displaced the normal freezing Arctic Air south into Canada and the United States producing never before seen, freezing winter storms and massive power failures. When the Arctic ice cap finally melts towards the end of next year, the Arctic sea will be aggressively heated by the sun and the Gulf Stream. The cold Arctic air will then be confined to the Greenland Ice cap and the hot globally warmed Arctic air with its methane will flow south to the United States to further heat up the Gulf Stream, setting up an anticlockwise circulation around Greenland. Under these circumstances Great Britain and Europe must expect even more catastrophic storm systems, hurricane force winds and massive flooding after the end of next year due to a further acceleration in the energy transport of the Gulf Stream. If this process continues unchecked the mean temperature of the atmosphere will rise a further 8° centigrade and we will be facing global deglaciation, a more than 200 feet rise in sea level rise and a major terminal extinction event by the 2050's.



Saturday, 30 August 2014

Warming waters threaten to trigger methane eruptions from Arctic Ocean seafloor


K. Tung / Univ. of Washington. (Top) Global
average surface temperatures, where black dots
are yearly averages. Two flat periods (hiatus)
are separated by rapid warming from 1976-1999.
(Middle) Observations of heat content, compared
to the average, in the north Atlantic Ocean.
(Bottom) Salinity of the seawater in the same
part of the Atlantic. Higher salinity is seen
to coincide with more ocean heat storage.
A new study looks at how, in the 21st century, surface warming slowed as more heat moved deeper into the oceans, specifically the North Atlantic.

Sun-warmed salty water travels north along ocean currents in the Atlantic. When this saltier water reaches the North Atlantic, its greater density causes it to sink. From about 1999, this current began to speed up and draw heat deeper into the ocean.

These huge amounts of heat moving deeper into the Atlantic Ocean are very worrying.

The image below shows that sea surface temperatures have reached extremely high levels on the Northern Hemisphere, where sea surface temperature anomalies as high as 1.78 degrees Celsius were recorded on August 19, 2014.

As discussed in an earlier post, water carried by the Gulf Stream below the surface can be even warmer than surface waters. As the post discusses, high sea surface temperatures west of Svalbard indicate that the Gulf Stream can carry very warm water (warmer than 16°C) at greater depths and is pushing this underneath the sea ice north of Svalbard. Similarly, warm water from greater depth comes to the surface where the Gulf Stream pushes it against the west coast of Novaya Zemlya.


Very warm water is now invading the Arctic Ocean through the Bering Strait from the Pacific Ocean, while very warm water is also traveling on the back of the Gulf Stream from the North Atlantic into the Arctic Ocean.


The danger is that this warm water will destabilize hydrates contained in sediments under the Arctic Ocean and trigger huge methane eruptions.

Rising methane levels over the past few years are ominous in this respect. The image below shows very high mean global methane levels on August 28, 2014, while methane readings as high as 2561 ppb were recorded on that day.

Methane Levels -  see earlier post for a discussion of IPCC/NOAA data

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



References and Related Links

- Varying planetary heat sink led to global-warming slowdown and acceleration
by Xianyao Chen and Ka-Kit Tung.
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/345/6199/897

- Cause of global warming hiatus found deep in the Atlantic Ocean
University of Washington News Release
http://www.washington.edu/news/2014/08/21/cause-of-global-warming-hiatus-found-deep-in-the-atlantic-ocean

- Horrific Methane Eruptions in East Siberian Sea
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2014/08/horrific-methane-eruptions-in-east-siberian-sea.html

- Methane Buildup in the Atmosphere
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2014/04/methane-buildup-in-atmosphere.html

- Climate Plan blog
http://climateplan.blogspot.com



Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Horrific Methane Eruptions in East Siberian Sea

A catastrophe of unimaginable propertions is unfolding in the Arctic Ocean. Huge quantities of methane are erupting from the seafloor of the East Siberian Sea and entering the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean.


As the top image above shows, peak levels as high as 2363 ppb were recorded at an altitude of 19,820 ft (6041 m) on the morning of August 12, 2014. The middle image shows that huge quantities of methane continued to be present over the East Siberian Sea that afternoon, while the bottom image shows that methane levels as high as 2441 ppb were recorded a few days earlier, further indicating that the methane did indeed originate from the seafloor of the East Siberian Sea.

On August 12, 2014, peak methane levels at higher altitudes were even higher than the readings mentioned on above image. Levels as high as 2367 ppb were reached at an altitude of 36,850 ft (11,232 m). Such high levels have become possible as the huge quantities of methane that were released from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean over the period from October 2013 to March 2014, have meanwhile descended to lower latitudes where they show up at higher altitudes.

Methane eruptions from the Arctic Ocean's seafloor helped push up mean global methane levels to readings as high as 1832 ppb on August 12, 2014.

Ironically, the methane started to erupt just as an international team of scientists from Sweden, Russia and the U.S. (SWERUS-C3), visiting the Arctic Ocean to measure methane, had ended their research.

Örjan Gustafsson describes part of their work: “Using the mid-water sonar, we mapped out an area of several kilometers where bubbles were filling the water column from depths of 200 to 500 m. During the preceding 48 h we have performed station work in two areas on the shallow shelf with depths of 60-70m where we discovered over 100 new methane seep sites.”

Örjan Gustafsson adds that “a tongue of relatively warm Atlantic water, with a core at depths of 200–600 m may have warmed up some in recent years. As this Atlantic water, the last remnants of the Gulf Stream, propagates eastward along the upper slope of the East Siberian margin, our SWERUS-C3 program is hypothesizing that this heating may lead to destabilization of upper portion of the slope methane hydrates.”

Schematics of key components of the Arctic climate-cryosphere-carbon system that are addressed by the SWE-C3 Program. a,b) Sonar images of gas plumes in the water column caused by sea floor venting of methane (a: slope west of Svalbard, Westbrook et al., 2009; b: ESAO, Shakhova et al., 2010, Science). c) Coastal erosion of organic-rich Yedoma permafrost, Muostoh Island, SE Laptev Sea. d) multibeam image showing pockmarks from gas venting off the East Siberian shelf. e) distribution of Yedoma permafrost in NE Siberia. f) Atmospheric venting of CH4, CO2. (SWERUS-C3)
Örjan Gustafsson further adds that SWERUS-C3 researchers have on earlier expeditions documented extensive venting of methane from the subsea system to the atmosphere over the East Siberian Arctic Shelf.

In 2010, team members Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov estimated the accumulated methane potential for the Eastern Siberian Arctic Shelf alone to be as follows:
- organic carbon in permafrost of about 500 Gt;
- about 1000 Gt in hydrate deposits; and
- about 700 Gt in free gas beneath the gas hydrate stability zone.

Back in 2008, Shakhova et al. wrote a paper warning that “we consider release of up to 50 Gt of predicted amount of hydrate storage as highly possible for abrupt release at any time.”

Last year, a team of researchers including Professor Peter Wadhams calculated that such a 50 Gt release would cause global damage with a price-tag of $60 trillion.

As Prof Wadhams explains in the video below: “We really have no choice except to seriously consider the use of geoengineering.”



Sea surface temperatures as high as 18.8°C are now recorded at locations where warm water from the Pacific Ocean is threatening to invade the Arctic Ocean.

At the same time, huge amounts of very warm water are carried into the Arctic Ocean by the Gulf Stream through the North Atlantic. The image below illustrates how the Gulf Stream brings very warm water to the edge of the sea ice.

Waters close to Svalbard reached temperatures as high as 62°F (16.4°C) on July 29, 2014 (green circle). Note that the image below shows sea surface temperatures only. At greater depths (say about 300 m), the Gulf Stream is pushing even warmer water through the Greenland Sea than temperatures at the sea surface.

Since the passage west of Svalbard is rather shallow, a lot of this very warm water comes to the surface at that spot, resulting in an anomaly of 11.1°C. The high sea surface temperatures west of Svalbard thus show that the Gulf Stream can carry very warm water (warmer than 16°C) at greater depths and is pushing this underneath the sea ice north of Svalbard. Similarly, warm water from greater depth comes to the surface where the Gulf Stream pushes it against the west coast of Novaya Zemlya.


[ click on image to enlarge ]
As Malcolm Light writes in an earlier post: The West Spitzbergen Current dives under the Arctic ice pack west of Svalbard, continuing as the Yermak Branch (YB on map) into the Nansen Basin, while the Norwegian Current runs along the southern continental shelf of the Arctic Ocean, its hottest core zone at 300 metres depth destabilizing the methane hydrates en route to where the Eurasian Basin meets the Laptev Sea, a region of extreme methane hydrate destabilization and methane emissions.

The images below give an impression of the amount of heat transported into the Arctic Ocean.



The image below gives an idea how methane eruptions from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean could unfold over the coming decades. For more on this image, see this post and this page.


As said, the situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as discussed at the Climate Plan blog at climateplan.blogspot.com and as illustrated by the image below.




Monday, 16 June 2014

Warming of the Arctic Fueling Extreme Weather

Extreme weather

Heavy rains and floods hit Serbia and Bosnia in May 2014, as discussed in an earlier post.

Later in May, further flooding hit central Europe. From May 30 to June 1, 2014, parts of Austria received the amount of rain that normally falls in two-and-half months: 150 to 200 mm (5.9 to 7.9"), with some parts experiencing 250 mm (9.8").

What is fueling this extreme weather? Have a look at the image below.



The image shows a number of feedbacks that are accelerating warming in the Arctic. Feedback #14 refers to (latent) heat that previously went into melting. With the demise of the snow and ice cover, an increasing proportion of this heat gets absorbed and contributes to accelerated warming in the Arctic.

As the sea ice heats up, 2.06 J/g of heat goes into every degree Celsius that the temperature of the ice rises. While the ice is melting, all energy (at 334J/g) goes into changing ice into water and the temperature remains at 0°C (273.15K, 32°F). 

Once all ice has turned into water, all subsequent heat goes into heating up the water, at 4.18 J/g for every degree Celsius that the temperature of water rises.

The amount of energy absorbed by melting ice is as much as it takes to heat an equivalent mass of water from zero to 80°C. The energy required to melt a volume of ice can raise the temperature of the same volume of rock by 150º C.

Currently, the energy equivalent of 1.5 million Hiroshima bombs goes into melting of the Arctic sea ice each year, according to calculations by Sam Carana.

As the ice disappears, this energy will instead be absorbed elsewhere and cause temperatures in the Arctic to rise further, indicated as feedback #14.

This comes on top of the albedo feedback #1 that can on its own more than double the net radiative forcing resulting from the emissions caused by all people of the world, according to calculations by Prof. Peter Wadhams.

Further feedbacks include changes to the polar vortex and jet stream that are in turn causing more extreme weather, as also described in the earlier post Feedbacks in the Arctic.


Global Warming

Higher levels of greenhouse gases are trapping more heat in the atmosphere, resulting in more intense heatwaves in some places, while stronger winds and greater evaporation of water from the sea lead to stronger rainfall in other places. Global warming thus contributes to more extreme weather around the globe.

The Arctic is hit not only by the warming resulting from greenhouse gas emissions, but also by emissions of soot, dust and other compounds that settle on the snow and ice cover and speed up its demise.

As illustrated by the image below, by Nuccitelli et al., most heat goes into the oceans. A substantial amount of heat also goes into the melting of ice.

A lot of ocean heat is transported by the Gulf Stream into the Arctic Ocean. The North Atlantic is hit particularly strongly by pollution from North America, as illustrated by the image below.

[ screenshot from Perdue University's Vulcan animation ]
Heat carried by the Gulf Stream into the Arctic Ocean contributes to high sea surface anomalies in the Arctic, as illustrated by the image below. Arctic sea ice is under threat from heat from the North Atlantic, while heat from the Pacific Ocean that was in part caused by pollution from east-Asia is now threatening to enter the Arctic Ocean through the Bering Strait, as illustrated by the image below that shows areas with sea surface temperature anomalies well over 8 degrees Celsius. 

[ click on image to enlarge ]
Warmer water in the Arctic Ocean in turn causes methane to be released from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, as discussed further below. 


Accelerated Warming in the Arctic

As said, warming hits the Arctic particularly strongly due to feedbacks such as albedo changes caused by the demise of the snow and ice cover in the Arctic. Another feedback is a changing jet stream. The jet stream used to circumnavigate the globe at high speed, separating climate systems that used to be vastly different above and below the jet stream. Accelerated warming in the Arctic is decreasing the temperature difference between the Arctic and the Equator, in turn causing the jet stream to slow down and become wavier. As a result, air can more easily move north to south and visa versa, especially when the jet stream's waves expand vertically and take a long time to move from west to east (i.e. a blocking pattern).

These changes to the jet stream are fueling extreme weather events. In the May/June event, a large loop had developed in the jet stream over Europe and got stuck in place, making a strong southerly wind carry moisture-laden air from the Mediterranean Sea over Central Europe, clashing with colder air flowing down from the north as the jet stream was stuck in such a blocking pattern.

Record May heat hit northern Finland and surrounding regions of Russia and Sweden. Earlier in May (on May 19) an all-time national heat record was set of 91.4°F (33.0°C) in St. Petersburg, Russia, slashing the previous record by a wide margin. This temperature was unprecedented in records in St. Petersburg that started in 1881 and show a previous May record set in 1958 of 87.6°F (30.9°C).

The compilation below shows the jet stream on three days (May 24, 25 and 27), on top of surface temperature anomalies for those days.

[ click on image to enlarge ]

Further illustrating the event is the animation below, showing the jet stream from May 26 to June 11, 2014. Note that this is a 14.5 MB file that may take some time to fully load.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
Methane

Huge methane emissions took place from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean from September 2013 to March 2014. These emissions have meanwhile risen up higher in the atmosphere and have moved closer to the equator.


Compared to June 2013, mean methane levels at higher altitudes are now well over 10 ppb higher at higher altitudes while there has been only little change closer to the ground. Since these mean levels are global means, the difference is even more pronounced at specific locations on the Northern hemisphere, where clouds of methane originating from the Arctic are contributing to the occurence of heat waves.

The contribution of methane to such heatwaves depends on the density of the methane at the time in the atmosphere over the location during such events.

Highest global mean methane levels varied from 1907 ppb to 1812 ppb for the period June 6 to 15, 2014, as illustrated by the image on the right, and peak methane concentration varied a lot from day to day. On June 6, 2014, peak readings as high as 2516 ppb were recorded.

Indicative for what can be the result is the temperature anomaly on May 19, when temperatures went up as high as 91.4°F (33.0°C) in St. Petersburg, Russia, slashing the previous record by a wide margin, of more than 2°C, as described above


Conclusion

The situation is the Arctic is threatening to escalate into runaway warming and urgently requires comprehensive and effective action as discussed at the Climate Plan blog.


References

- May 2014 Global Weather Extremes Summary

- Extreme Jet Stream Pattern Triggers Historic European Floods
http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/extreme-jet-stream-pattern-triggers-historic-european-floods


Related posts

- The Biggest Story of 2013
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-biggest-story-of-2013.html

- Climate Plan
http://climateplan.blogspot.com
- More extreme weather can be expected
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2014/05/more-extreme-weather-can-be-expected.html

- Extreme weather strikes around the globe - update
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2014/02/extreme-weather-strikes-around-the-globe-update.html

- Escalating extreme weather events to hammer humanity (by Paul Beckwith)
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2014/04/escalating-extreme-weather-events-to-hammer-humanity.html

- Our New Climate and Weather (by Paul Beckwith)
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2014/01/our-new-climate-and-weather.html

- Our New Climate and Weather - part 2 (by Paul Beckwith)
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2014/01/our-new-climate-and-weather-part-2.html

- Changes to Polar Vortex affect mile-deep ocean circulation patterns
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2012/09/changes-to-polar-vortex-affect-mile-deep-ocean-circulation-patterns.html

- Polar jet stream appears hugely deformed
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2012/12/polar-jet-stream-appears-hugely-deformed.html