Saturday, April 05, 2014

Arctic Ice Extent Fifth Lowest On Record

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) announced on March 21 that the total amount of ice cover for the Arctic peaked at 5.7 million square miles, or 282,000 square miles below the 1981-to-2010 average. This is the fifth-lowest winter ice cover extent since satellite records began in 1978. The lowest maximum extent recorded was in 2011 at 5.65 million square miles of ice cover. In September 2012 an 18 percent loss over previous years left it covered by less ice than ever before. In the latest IPCC report, the world’s leading climate scientists confirmed that Arctic summer sea ice was declining at rates much faster than predicted by most models. Arctic sea ice extent has been trending dramatically downwards for the last four decades as the scientific consensus confirms anthropogenic causes as the catalyst.



Per NSIDC this is explanation of late season surge in extent and slight increase in volume:

"The late-season surge in extent came as the Arctic Oscillation turned strongly positive the second week of March. This was associated with unusually low sea level pressure in the eastern Arctic and the northern North Atlantic. The pattern of surface winds helped to spread out the ice pack in the Barents Sea where the ice cover had been anomalously low all winter. Northeasterly winds also helped push the ice pack southwards in the Bering Sea, another site of persistently low extent earlier in the 2013 to 2014 Arctic winter. Air temperatures however remained unusually high throughout the Arctic during the second half of March, at 2 to 6 degrees Celsius (4 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1981 to 2010 average."

Another explanation of the low extent was an overall milder winter in the Arctic (with record breaking temperatures seen in Alaska) as colder air was pushed into the South to Canada and the United States. In February, temperatures were 7.2° to 14.4°F above normal for much of the Arctic.

This then also brings attention to the increased amounts of methane over the Arctic Ocean and the positive feedbacks put into motion from the continued overall decline in Arctic sea ice:



Earthquakes In The Arctic Ocean

Excerpt:

"As discussed in many previous posts, the Arctic has become warmer than it used to be and temperatures in the Arctic are rising several times faster than global temperatures. This decreases the temperature difference between the areas to the north and to the south of the Jet Stream, which in turn decreases the speed at which the Jet Stream circumnavigates the globe, making the Jet Stream more wavier and increasing opportunities for cold air to descend from the Arctic and for warm air to enter the Arctic.

Snip



These wild temperature swings may be causing even further damage, on top of the methane eruptions from the heights of Greenland. Look at the above map, showing earthquakes that hit the Arctic in March 2014.

BTW, above map doesn't show all earthquakes that occured in the Arctic Ocean in March 2014. An earthquake with a magnitude of 4.5 on the Richter scale hit the Gakkel Ridge on March 6, 2014.

Importantly, above map shows a number of earthquakes that occurred far away from faultlines, including a M4.6 earthquake that hit Baffin Bay and a M4.5 earthquake that hit the Labrador Sea. These earthquakes are unlikely to have resulted from movement in tectonic plates. Instead, temperature swings over Greenland may have triggered these events, by causing a succession of compression and expansion swings of the Greenland ice mass, which in turn caused pressure changes that were felt in the crust surrounding the Greenland Ice Sheet.

Glaciers could be the key to make this happen. Glaciers typically move smoothly and gradually. It could be, however, that such wide temperature swings are causing glaciers to come to a halt, temporarily, causing pressure to build up over a day or so, to then suddenly start moving again with a shock. Intense cold can literally freeze a glacier in its track, to be shocked into moving again as temperatures rise abruptly by 40°C or so. This can send shockwaves through the ice sheet into the crust and trigger earthquakes in areas prone to destabilization. The same mechanism could explain the high methane concentrations over the heights of Greenland and Antarctica.

Ominously, patterns of earthquakes can be indicators of bigger earthquakes yet to come.

This situation looks set to get a lot worse. Extreme weather events and wild temperature swings look set to become more likely to occur and hit Greenland with ever greater ferocity. Earthquakes could reveberate around the Arctic Ocean and destabilize methane held in the form of free gas and hydrates in sediments underneath the Arctic Ocean.

Meanwhile, as pollution clouds from North America move (due to the Coriolis Effect) over the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf Stream continues to warm up and carry warmer water into the Arctic Ocean, further increasing the likelihood of methane eruptions from the Arctic seafloor."

End of excerpt.

My thanks to Arctic News for these informative and necessary reports. It is obvious this is not going to be covered by the US media.

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Also see:

Scientists Sound Alarm On Climate

Methane Levels Continue To Destabilize-Yet Silence

Arctic Ice Reaches Annual Mimimum

The "Polar Vortex" Freezing Us Today Due In Part To Global Warming

Arctic Ocean Leaking Methane At Alarming Rate

Methane Feedback and Abrupt Climate Change: How Far Are We From It?

Methane Feedback and Abrupt Climate Change (Part 2)

The Arctic, Humanity's Barometer

Major Loss In Arctic Sea Ice Volume-It Does Effect You

Arctic Melting-Tipping Point That Should Matter To All Of Us

And yet, millions upon millions of barrels of oil are excavated each day - and we continue to burn it even knowing the consequences. Talk about living in denial.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

California Drought: San Joaquin Valley Sinking As Farmers Race To Tap Aquifer



California Drought: San Joaquin Valley sinking as farmers race to tap aquifer

"PIXLEY – So wet was the San Joaquin Valley of Steve Arthur's childhood that a single 240-foot-deep well could quench the thirst of an arid farm.

Now his massive rig, bucking and belching, must drill 1,200 feet deep in search of ever-more-elusive water to sustain this wheat farm north of Bakersfield. As he drills, his phone rings with three new appeals for help.

"Everybody is starting to panic," said Arthur, whose Fresno-based well-drilling company just bought its ninth rig, off the Wyoming oil fields. "Without water, this valley can't survive."

When water doesn't fall from the sky or flow from reservoirs, there's only one place to find it: underground. So, three years into a devastating drought, thirsty Californians are draining the precious aquifer beneath the nation's most productive farmland like never before, pitting neighbor against neighbor in a perverse race to the bottom.

The rush to drill is driven not just by historically dry conditions, but by a host of other factors that promote short-term consumption over long-term survival -- new, more moisture-demanding crops; improved drilling technologies; and a surge of corporate investors seeking profits for agricultural ventures.

Now those forces are renewing an age-old problem of environmental degradation: Decades ago, overpumping sunk half of the entire San Joaquin Valley, in one area as much as 28 feet. Today new areas are subsiding, some almost a foot each year, damaging bridges and vital canals.

Yet in California, one of the few states that doesn't regulate how much water can be pumped from underground, even this hasn't been enough to create a consensus to stop.

"It's our savings account, and we're draining it," said Phil Isenberg of the Public Policy Institute of California, a former Sacramento mayor and assemblyman. "At some point, there will be none left."

End of excerpt



snip

"The trends are alarming, the politics complex, but the science is rather simple: The Central Valley -- from Redding to Bakersfield -- is consuming twice as much groundwater as nature is returning through rain and snow.

The rate of water loss over the past two years is the largest since the University of California started using NASA satellites to measure underground water reserves in 2003. The Central Valley's reserves are shrinking by 800 billion gallons a year -- enough to supply every resident of California with water for seven months, according to Jay Famiglietti, director of the University of California Center for Hydrologic Modeling.

"We may only be a few decades away from hitting bottom," said Famiglietti, considered one of the leading experts on state water policy.

However, little is being done to control it. States such as Kansas and even Texas prevent unlimited pumping of groundwater. But California has failed to regulate how much groundwater is pumped, leaving it up to the courts to settle disputes over excessive use, according to Barton H. "Buzz" Thompson Jr., professor of natural resources law at Stanford University.

Overpumping not only lowers the water table and collapses land at the surface, but it also lowers water quality and requires more power to pump. River flows are lower, and shallow wells are exhausted.

Farmers have long relied on the government's engineering marvel of aqueducts to bring surface water from giant reservoirs in the north to the south. However, the federally run Central Valley Project allotted farmers only 20 percent of their share last year -- and none this year. Officials who manage the State Water Project, California's other major water system, have also said that they will not be releasing any water for farmers, a first in the system's 54-year history.

So with the drought cutting off their deliveries, farmers say they must rely on the only source left. Those who can afford the $200,000 to $600,000 price tag are digging deeper and deeper to tap into a once-unreachable aquifer. Many are taking out loans, betting on crop yields to break even.

"I've got some of the best land in the nation -- 50 feet of topsoil -- that is sitting vacant if I can't get water," said Thomas Kaljian, of Los Banos, who owns almond orchards on the San Joaquin Valley's west side. "This is the breadbasket of the nation, and we're strangling it."

End of excerpt



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"It's our savings account, and we're draining it," said Phil Isenberg of the Public Policy Institute of California, a former Sacramento mayor and assemblyman. "At some point, there will be none left."

And some dare say this is not a manmade crisis? Greed, selfishness, consumption will be the undoing of California. Can you even imagine a Silicon Valley company "agricultural" venture to open up an ALMOND farm? Do you really feel sorry for greedy opportunists like this who now think they should get first dibs on water with this mindset? : Rain...gone. Surface water...gone. Aquifers...going...but let's just keep overpumping to maintain OUR lifestyle without giving a damn for anyone else and to hell with climate change or any other considerations, you know, like the future.

How about people try to do without almonds now in exchange for perhaps saving some water for our children to drink? For fish to live in? How about growing something not so water intensive? How about smart irrigation and having the moral will to just take your share? Talk about the need for a paradigm shift in perception.

It is coming to a full head here. When you drill for water, you take ALL OF IT, not just the water directly under your land! The deeper you go the worse it gets for everyone...and then...it all sinks. This is also a primer for a world in climate change induced drought. Take a good look and hope that when the end of the water is near we don't start hearing gunshots...but then of course, Agent Orange DOW Chemical (that is big into reverse osmosis and probably applauding this) can come to the rescue and make the population pay through the nose for some desalinated Pacific Ocean water that hopefully hasn't then been irradiated or FRACKED. Tell me again how we humans have "evolved."

Also see:

Devastating Drought Continues To Plague California

California Drought: 17 Communities Could Run Out of Water Within 60 To 120 days/Updates

Monday, March 31, 2014

IPCC: Climate Change Increasing Risk of Hunger, Thirst, Disease, Refugees and War

UPDATE:4-23-14: IPCC Report Leaves Hopes Hanging On Fantasy Technology

It would appear I am not the only one who shares the opinion that solutions cited are weak and counterproductive.

UPDATE:4-14-14: IPCC: Working Group III: Mitigation Of Climate Change

Unfortunately, the IPCC has chosen to suggest mitigation solutions (we also need to ADAPT and plan for massive amounts of climate refugees falling victim to rising seas) that will only exacerbate the crisis as it gives impetus for fossil fuel companies to continue with business as usual even knowing that we must leave them in the ground in order to avoid cataclysm. Suggesting CCS (carbon capture and sequestration) is a fool's errand as is even suggesting nuclear (water intensive energy sources are not going to sustain a world in drought!- and hello,-Fukushima?) Biomass is polluting and produces black carbon. There was mention of afforestation but not in concert with Sustainable Agriculture on a wide scale-we need sinks, sinks and more sinks. Also telling us to "fix leaks in pipes transporting fuel" is not a solution. LEAVING IT IN THE GROUND IS.

People in the developing world (who BTW need contraception and education with us NOT going to the dark side of this) as well as everywhere else must also have access to solar on a massive scale NOW, as well as access to seeds they can save, an end to the privatization of their lives (including their water) and NO corporate GMO monoculture seeds especially if we care about biodiversity. How about we also stop consuming so much so unequally on the whole? Too much emphasis on tech fixes not enough emphasis on humanity and the moral will needed as well.

These suggestions on the whole just give more leeway for corporations to continue business as usual especially regarding time frames of emission output and corresponding PPM in relation to emissions timelags/feedbacks which I did not see mentioned. Suppose it is time to take out the countdown clock.

At a time when urgency must prevail we get suggestions that give the impression we now have the rest of this century to get our act together intimating that when push comes to shove even they are afraid to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and the governments in collusion with them. We need a specific transition time frame regarding renewables in concert with resource depletion rates in order to meet the gap of peak oil which will occur before 2050. Refusing to discuss this is only dooming us down the line.

Also see:

Nine Ways To Slow Climate Change

In other words, we are screwed so here are some ways to make us look like we did something so we can tell our grandchildren we tried while still not having to take moral responsibility for our fossil fuel addiction. I weep for the future if this is the best we can do.

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IPCC: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability



This report released today really doesn't tell us anything new. However, it does warn us more starkly that our belief that we can continue to walk the path we are on and avoid catastrophic consequences is more than ill founded, it is a definite betrayal to ourselves, all species and those to come.

It also tells me that the solutions are not hard. They are the ones we have always had right before our eyes. Humility and respect for Earth that translates into smarter more efficient ways of farming, building, protecting and nourishing our Earth which in turn will then protect and nourish us.

I have stated this many times before and will state it again: Sustainable Agriculture is the key to our continued survival as well as massive tree planting and a transition to renewable energy that excludes all fossil fuels in time to meet the peak oil curve and to conserve water.

Technology cannot save us, humanity will.

Tropical Cyclone Hellen Crushing Parts of Madagascar

UPDATE: 4-1-14: Tropical Cyclone Hellen: Worst Case Scenario Avoided in Madagascar

Good news. Still looking for more information.

Tropical Cyclone Hellen Crushing Parts of Madagascar

"In the southwestern Indian Ocean today (March 31, 2014), a powerful cyclone is bringing dangerous storm surge, violent winds, and heavy rain that could result in flooding and mudslides in Madagascar, an island country in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of southeastern Africa. Tropical Cyclone Hellen peaked on March 30 with sustained winds around 150 miles per hour (240 km per hour). Hellen is a slow moving cyclone, so flooding will be a significant issue through Wednesday, April 2.



Bottom line: Although the storm’s wind intensity and satellite appearance indicates a weaker storm, we warn you to not be fooled. Tropical Cyclone Hellen will still be a formidable storm capable of producing widespread flooding and a significant storm surge as high as 15 to 25 feet in Madagascar. Meteorologists said Hellen was likely to be “one of the most powerful tropical cyclones ever seen over the northern channel [of the southwestern India Ocean] since the satellite era (1967).”

End of excerpt.

Dangerous Category 4 Hellen Nears Madagascar

I will update when I find more information. Prayers for people there to remain safe especially in light of projected storm surge.

Humanitarian Disaster in the Sahara

Algeria has stranded 13,000 migrants in the Sahara forcing them to walk across it in response to EU directive to North Africa to lessen mi...