In mid-November of 2015 Earth exceeded a critical climate threshold. CO2 levels passed the 400 parts per million (ppm) threshold for the final time in countless millennia to come. Never again, after this month, for the next 10,000 years and more, will these levels ever fall below 400ppm. The consequences of this will be unimaginably dire.
Robertscribbler, a blog favored by many climate scientists, notes that:
In total, Greenland holds enough ice to raise seas by 23 feet. And, in the geological past, just 1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius worth of temperature increase above Holocene averages was enough to melt much or all of it. Currently, human warming by Greenhouse gasses has pushed global average surface temperatures into a range about 1 degree Celsius hotter than the 1880s. It's a temperature running into ranges that are now comparable with the Eemian -- the interglacial period that occurred between 115,000 to 130,000 years ago. A period when oceans were about 13 to 20 feet higher than they are today. But perhaps even more concerning is the fact that global greenhouse gas concentrations in the range of 400 ppm CO2 and 485 ppm CO2e are enough now to warm the Earth by 2 to 4 degrees Celsius long-term. It's a heat forcing that would likely spell the end for Greenland's ice if it remained in place for any significant period. A heat forcing more comparable with Pliocene and Miocene ranges when the world's glaciers were even more greatly reduced and seas were 30 to 130+ feet higher than they are presently. (1)
We ALREADY have sufficient future warming "locked in" as a consequence of past and present emissions to ensure a 4 to 7 degree Fahrenheit (F) temperature rise in the coming decades! These estimates are based upon unrealistically conservative assumptions, originating with the politically influenced UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). For example, IPCC forecasts willfully omit the effects of atmospheric methane. The reason given for this, is that methane release is not well understood, so its corresponding contribution to overall warming are not yet quantifiable.
The above graph is courtesy of Sam Carana at Arctic News.
Using NASA supplied data, the above graph depicts the remorseless rise of methane levels in our atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse (heat trapping) gas, up to 100 times more powerful than CO2 over a period of months to several years. Frozen methane is now sublimating (transitioning from ice directly to gas) at an accelerating rate from shallow areas of the Arctic ocean--particularly the Lapatev Sea. This sublimation process is driven by rapidly warming air, and especially, sea temperatures.
What the actual data actually show is terrifying. Consider the corresponding rise in methane levels in the atmosphere:The above graph is courtesy of Sam Carana at Arctic News.
Additionally carbon trapped in Arctic permafrost is also rapidly melting. This carbon is released as both CO2 and methane. A recent study by Researchers at Cambridge University and the University of Colorado states that:
As carbon dioxide and methane are
released from melting Arctic permafrost in coming decades, University of
Cambridge and University of Colorado say that the resulting economic damage
from increased greenhouse gas emissions could add up to at least $43 trillion
by the end of the next (22nd) century--on top of previous estimates. These
scientists modeled that economic impact in a recent letter in the journal Nature Climate Change. (2)
Note that this permafrost release is on top of, additive to, the methane releases originating in the Arctic seabed! All of this is excluded from the IPCC forecasts! Actual temperature rises in the next few decades, if not sooner, will exceed 10 degrees F, and could approach 20 degrees F!
Consequentially, "weather weirding" is now occurring. Robertscribbler observes:
So why are the poles still tending to remain
very warm even as the Equator warms? The first answer is that high greenhouse
gas concentrations from human fossil fuel emissions tend to preferentially warm
these regions. This is due to the fact that greenhouse gasses have their
greatest warming impact during times of darkness or when the sun is at a low
angle. Compounding this impact for the Arctic is the fact that a high
overburden of both CO2 and methane hangs over the region -- possibly due to
heightening emissions from thawing permafrost, increasing forest fires, and
increasing ocean-to-atmosphere carbon fluxes. A second answer is that the
overall atmospheric impacts of the current Monster El Nino may not have come
into full swing yet. We do still have a very warm pool of water in the
Northeastern Pacific and this warm pool has tended to somewhat resist the polar
wind field intensifying effects of a strong El Nino. This warm pool has also
given the current El Nino a springboard upon which to further intensify. So the
push and pull between these two hot water zones may not be over yet. All in
all, this pattern points to more and more weather weirding on tap for this winter.
Jet Streams and storm tracks may run further to the north as a result --
especially in the areas of the Pacific Northwest and in Northern Europe.
Troughs may also tend to dig a bit deeper along the Central and Eastern US and
on out into the North Atlantic. This is not exactly the forecast we would
expect with such a strongly positive Arctic Oscillation. But the related cool
air pool has retreated so far north as to, at least for now, not fully result
in a strong El Nino + strong Arctic Oscillation related weather pattern.
Instead, for now, what we are seeing is a weird kind of hybrid weather pattern
that appears to be incorporating the influences of a Monster El Nino, of
ongoing polar amplification, of the cool pool in the North Atlantic, of the
abnormally warm Barents Sea, and of the Hot Blob still firmly entrenched in the
Northeastern Pacific. (3)
Concurrent with this, the rise in ocean levels is now unstoppable. A U.C. Irvine led study has found that Jacobshavn Glacier in Greenland is now melting at an accelerating rate as it is being warmed from above by warm air, and below, by warm waters. This ONE glacier ALONE has the mass needed to raise global seal level by about 18 inches!(4) The same process has made the collapse and melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet unstoppable. (5) Sea levels will, consequentially, rise at an ever accelerating rate. A one foot sea level rise will render all of South Florida--including Miami--uninhabitable. This because the entire water table will become brackish to salty as ocean waters flood the low lying peninsula. This event is not very far off.