Both of Earth’s poles are having heatwaves, right now.


David Goldman/AP

Startling heatwaves at both of Earth’s poles are causing alarm among climate scientists, who have warned the “unprecedented” events could signal faster and abrupt climate breakdown.

Temperatures in Antarctica reached record levels at the weekend, an astonishing 40C above normal in places.

At the same time, weather stations near the north pole also showed signs of melting, with some temperatures 30C above normal, hitting levels normally attained far later in the year.

At this time of year, the Antarctic should be rapidly cooling after its summer, and the Arctic only slowly emerging from its winter, as days lengthen. For both poles to show such heating at once is unprecedented.

The rapid rise in temperatures at the poles is a warning of disruption in Earth’s climate systems. Last year, in the first chapter of a comprehensive review of climate science, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of unprecedented warming signals already occurring, resulting in some changes – such as polar melt – that could rapidly become irreversible.

Read it and weep for what we have done. Ignoring what the barons of corporate wealth have done to our planet in their quest for more and more money and power is destroying the only home we have for our species. We can try for stopgap measures. The much harder task will be trying to claw back what commerce has destroyed. Simply as a side effect of greed.

It’s 70 degrees warmer than normal in East Antarctica…

The coldest location on the planet has experienced an episode of warm weather this week unlike any ever observed, with temperatures over the eastern Antarctic ice sheet soaring 50 to 90 degrees above normal. The warmth has smashed records and shocked scientists.

“This event is completely unprecedented and upended our expectations about the Antarctic climate system,” said Jonathan Wille, a researcher studying polar meteorology at Université Grenoble Alpes in France…

“Antarctic climatology has been rewritten,” tweeted Stefano Di Battista, a researcher who has published studies on Antarctic temperatures. He added that such temperature anomalies would have been considered “impossible” and “unthinkable” before they actually occurred.

Parts of eastern Antarctica have seen temperatures hover 70 degrees (40 Celsius) above normal for three days and counting, Wille said. He likened the event to the June heat wave in the Pacific Northwest, which scientists concluded would have been “virtually impossible” without human-caused climate change…

The historically high temperatures in Antarctica follow a pulse of exceptional warmth on the planet’s opposite end. On Wednesday, temperatures near the North Pole catapulted 50 degrees above normal, close to the melting point.

Put it on rewind and play it again and again. Sooner or later, folks in the GOUSA will begin to comprehend this is a legitimate emergency. A positive response is needed.

Humanity must also remove CO2 from the air

Two centuries of burning fossil fuels have put more carbon dioxide, a powerful greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere than nature can remove.

As that CO2 builds up, it traps excess heat near Earth’s surface, causing global warming. There is so much CO2 in the atmosphere now that most scenarios show ending emissions alone won’t be enough to stabilize the climate — humanity will also have to remove CO2 from the air

Technology to remove carbon mechanically is in development and operating at a very small scale, in part because current methods are prohibitively expensive and energy-intensive. But new techniques are being tested this year that could help lower the energy demand and cost…

Since CO2 mixes quickly in the air, it doesn’t matter where in the world the CO2 is removed — the removal has the same impact. So we can place direct air capture technology right where we plan to use or store the CO2.

The method of storage is also important. Storing CO2 for just 60 years or 100 years isn’t good enough. If 100 years from now all that carbon is back in the environment, all we did was take care of ourselves, and our grandkids have to figure it out again. In the meantime, the world’s energy consumption is growing at about two percent per year…

The article proceeds in detail to examine both capture and storage of CO2. Process development is already underway. Production – requiring subsidy to start; but, with capacity to develop into cost efficient and profitable methods – is possible with existing research. More research, concurrent with production, is needed.

Doomed A68 iceberg dumped 1 trillion tons of water into the ocean over 3 years

After the world’s largest iceberg snapped off of the Antarctic Peninsula in July 2017, it drifted north on a three-year death march, shedding an unfathomable amount of meltwater into the sea. Now, a new study of the doomed iceberg (named A68a) reveals just how much water the infamous mega-berg actually lost — and how that could impact the local ecosystem for generations to come…

Using observations from five satellites, the study authors calculated how much the iceberg’s area and thickness changed as it drifted north through Antarctica’s Weddell Sea and into the relatively warm waters of the Scotia Sea. There, while the berg appeared to be headed for a direct collision with South Georgia island, iceberg A68a lost more than 152 billion tons (138 billion metric tons) of fresh water in just three months…

“This is a huge amount of meltwater, and the next thing we want to learn is whether it had a positive or negative impact on the ecosystem around South Georgia,” lead study author Anne Braakmann-Folgmann, a researcher at the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling in the U.K., said in a statement. “Because A68a took a common route across the Drake Passage, we hope to learn more about icebergs taking a similar trajectory, and how they influence the polar oceans.”

And this is just the beginning, folks. As global warming proceeds, processes like these will reoccur. Better start learning about results and side effects.

Past seven years hottest on record

The Copernicus Climate Change Service said 2021 was the fifth-warmest year, with record-breaking heat in some regions.

And the amount of warming gases in our atmosphere continued to increase…

The environmental, human and economic costs of hotter temperatures are already being seen globally.

Europe lived through its warmest summer, and temperature records in western US and Canada were broken by several degrees. Extreme wildfires in July and August burnt almost entire towns to the ground and killed hundreds…

The Copernicus data comes from a constellation of Sentinel satellites that monitor the Earth from orbit, as well as measurements taken at ground level.

Conclusions and comments are mixed. Sentiment is predictably pessimistic. I won’t be around long enough to see much of any progress; BUT, I have sufficient confidence in science and practitioners to hope that reasonable solutions will be found. Hopefully, including not only reduced chemical effects on our atmosphere; but, adequate diminishing population in spite of hangers-on hoping to retain their religious blinders on education and politics.

Colorado just had its worst wildfire ever—in the middle of winter


milehightraveler/Getty

In an unexpected and fiery turn of events, fast-moving wildfire Marshall spread across the state of Colorado last Thursday, pummeling through 6,000 acres in just a few hours. Thousands of people have been rapidly evacuated from counties and towns north of Denver,. As of January 2, three individuals are still missing, including a search for 91-year-old Nadine Turnbull who was last seen in her burning home in Superior.

“It was in [the] blink of an eye. This was a disaster in fast motion, all in the course of half a day,” Governor Jared Polis said in a press conference on December 31. “Nearly 1,000 homes are gone.” Cold, snowy weather over the weekend has since suppressed the fire…

“I have thought it won’t be long before we start experiencing fires like California where flames chase people out of their neighborhoods,” Becky Bolinger, an assistant state climatologist at the center at Colorado State University, told the Denver Post. “I didn’t expect that would happen in December.”

Climate change is essentially keeping our fuels drier longer,” Jennifer Balch, a fire scientist and director of the Earth Lab at CU Boulder, told NPR. “These grasses that were burning—you know, they’ve been baked, essentially, all fall and all winter. On top of that, we didn’t get a lick of moisture.”

On top of tricky climate conditions, population growth poses an especially serious threat for disastrous wildfires. As more people move into what were once uninhabited grasslands, fire-risky activities, like starting a car or having a barbeque, become more common. All the while, local management policies might shift toward suppressing natural flames. Keeping small burns from happening in populated neighborhoods ends up leading to more and more fuel build-up, setting the stage for massive destruction.

Scientists will continue to investigate and research new and added dangers, Something we can’t ignore.

Warming climate -> more bark beetles = more dead trees


Los Alamos National Laboratory

A team of researchers using Los Alamos National Laboratory’s supercomputers developed a model for projecting tree kills by bark beetles as the climate warms.

Looking at forests in California, the team of researchers found that western pine beetle infestations killed 30 percent more trees due to warmer temperatures than they would have killed under drought conditions alone.

While the study focused on California forests, study author Chonggang Xu, a senior LANL scientist, said he anticipates the trend will hold true for forests throughout the western United States, including in New Mexico.

Xu said that the number of trees killed because of warmer temperatures surprised him…

…the western United States is facing a megadrought and climate change models show that drier and hotter conditions will likely impact the region in the future.

This can stress the trees, Xu said, and make them more vulnerable to insect attacks. At the same time, he said bark beetles may be able to complete their life cycle faster, leading to more insects. Warmer winters also mean that fewer beetle eggs die.

The trees are screwed, we’re screwed. Unless we start doing something truly meaningful about the climate disaster.

Climate crisis ain’t getting better, folks!

Tornado damage in Mayfield, Kentucky

The series of tornadoes that ripped through the Midwest and the Southeast United States this weekend adds to another stretch of deadly and potentially unprecedented weather disasters this year, exacerbating the already growing economic toll brought by climate disasters across the country.

And in the wake of this deadly night of extreme weather, which meteorologists and climate scientists say is historic, questions of whether climate change is intensifying tornadoes are beginning to emerge.

In Kentucky, the series of tornadoes uprooted trees, tore down homes and infrastructure, and killed at least 70 people. Gov. Andy Beshear said in a news conference that the tornado event reached a “level of devastation unlike anything I have ever seen,” he said.

But unlike other extreme weather events such as drought, floods and hurricanes, scientific research about the connection between the climate crisis and tornadoes has not been as robust, making the link especially challenging.

Victor Gensini, a professor at Northern Illinois University and one of the top tornado experts, said last night’s outbreak is one of the most remarkable tornado events in US history — and while climate change may have played a part in its violent behavior, it’s not yet clear what that role was.

“When you start putting a lot of these events together, and you start looking at them in the aggregate sense, the statistics are pretty clear that not only has there sort of been a change — a shift, if you will — of where the greatest tornado frequency is happening,” Gensini told CNN. “But these events are becoming perhaps stronger, more frequent and also more variable.”

The easy answer is “time will tell”. The problem with that is the answer is measured in the accumulation of more deadly incidents, more deaths, more destruction. I’d rather our nation reacted too early than sitting around making every pundit happy.