Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Arctic Temperatures

My initial start on global warming was due to the work of climate scientists in the 90's.  But one event had a very large impression on me, the Paleocene/Eocene Boundary Thermal Maximum.  At this time 56 million years ago, methane and carbon dioxide bubbled up out of the ocean dramatically increasing atmospheric temperature and acidifying the oceans producing the largest loss of sea life in the history of the planet.  One striking feature of this time was dramatic warming of the Arctic where daytime summer temperatures reached 75 degrees Fahrenheit.  The climate was tropical as far north as Oregon.

It was another 200,000 years before the planet completely recovered from this.  But the most frightening thing is that we are pouring 10 times the greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than what happened then.  And look what is happening to the Arctic.

Spiking Temperatures in the Arctic Startle Scientists

In mid-November, parts of the Arctic were more than 35 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than observed averages, scientists said, and at the pole itself, mean temperatures for the month were 23 degrees above normal. Although conditions later cooled somewhat, the extreme warmth is expected to return, with temperatures forecast to be as much as 27 degrees above normal beginning Thursday.

Record-breaking Arctic warmth ‘extremely unlikely’ without climate change

Exceptionally high temperatures across the Arctic this winter are unprecedented in the modern record, and extremely unlikely to occur were it not for the influence of greenhouse gases, according to new research.
A “heatwave” in mid-November caused some parts of the Arctic to be 15C warmer than usual, with average temperatures for November and December across the Arctic as a whole a full 5C above the long term average, according to the quickfire analysis of this year’s unusual winter.
November-December temperature anomalies showing some Arctic regions up to 10C warmer than usual for this time of year. SourceWorld Weather Attribution.
 The Arctic is the fastest warming place on Earth. Temperatures are rising 2.5 times faster than the Earth as a whole, the analysis explains. Warming is most notable in winter, with satellite estimates of November-December temperatures at the North Pole showing a clear upward trend since 1990.
Temperature measurements taken at ground level further south in the Arctic stretch back much further, to around 1900. At 5C above the 1951-1980 average, Arctic temperatures in November-December 2016 are “unprecedented” in the modern record, say the authors of today’s research. 

North Pole warms near melting point 


Temperatures around the North Pole will almost certainly pass the melting point, 32 degrees Fahrenheit, in the days leading up to Christmas, as global warming wreaks havoc on some of the world’s coldest and iciest climates, scientists say.
“High up into the Arctic and close to the North Pole, the temperatures are very, very possibly above freezing,” Paul Mayewski, professor at the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute, told CBS News Wednesday. He called the current temperatures in the Arctic “remarkable.” 


What can we expect to happen in the next fifty years or so?  We can draw some insight into this from what happened at the Paleocene/Eocene boundary, called the PETM, because something happened then that is very similar to what is happening now.  And what happened then is that the planet warmed up to the point where it was 75 degrees Fahrenheit at the North Pole in the summer, and the oceans acidified causing the largest extinction of sea life in the history of our planet.   Animal life adapted by moving towards the poles.  What likely caused the global warming then was volcanic activity that released carbon dioxide into the atmosphere warming it which then caused methane hydrates to be released from under the oceans.

We are, however, pouring carbon dioxide into the atmosphere far more rapidly

PETM versus modern greenhouse gas emissions

We can't know exactly what is happening now, but from that graph we are forced to conclude that it is very likely to be far worse than what happened then.