Climate related trends

NASA has several interesting trend animations in their Climate Time Machine.

Carbon Dioxide

September 2002:

Time Series: 2002-2016, image #0

This time series shows global changes in the concentration and distribution of carbon dioxide since 2002 at an altitude range of 1.9 to 8 miles. The yellow-to-red regions indicate higher concentrations of CO2, while blue-to-green areas indicate lower concentrations, measured in parts per million.

December 2016:

Time Series: 2002-2016, image #171

Global Temperature

1884:

Time Series: 1884 to 2016, image #0

This color-coded map shows a progression of changing global surface temperatures since 1884. Dark blue indicates areas cooler than average. Dark red indicates areas warmer than average.

2016:

Time Series: 1884 to 2016, image #132

Arctic Sea Ice

1979:

Time Series: 1979-2017, image #0

This visualization shows the annual Arctic sea ice minimum since 1979. At the end of each summer, the sea ice cover reaches its minimum extent, leaving what is called the perennial ice cover. The area of the perennial ice has been steadily decreasing since the satellite record began in 1979

2017:

Time Series: 1979-2017, image #38

Obviously climate and it’s affects will fluctuate, and the climate is affected by more than man-made effects, but the trends and the human influence on them are a concern for the planet that needs ongoing monitoring and also mitigating efforts. The risk is too great to do nothing.

https://climate.nasa.gov/interactives/climate-time-machine

Arctic Sea Ice

Alongside a string of record high world temperatures it shouldn’t be a surprise to see a reduction on Arctic sea ice, especially as the north is warming disproportionately more than the southern hemisphere.

ArcticSeaIceExtent

There was a record minimum in 2012 so 2016 is tracking to break new records.

How Melting Arctic Ice Contributes to Global Warming

Kristina Pistone of NASA’s Ames Research Center…

“The Arctic is a region that’s probably seen some of the most dramatic changes over the past few decades. And I think possibly one of the most iconic images is the decline in the Arctic sea ice.”

She says melting Arctic sea ice is not only a symptom of global warming, it’s also an important contributor because of the “albedo effect.”

So when Arctic sea ice melts, the underlying ocean water absorbs more of the sun’s energy, and heats up. That, in turn, melts more sea ice.

Since 1979, more than 600,000 square miles of winter sea ice has disappeared – an area more than twice as big as Texas.

Pistone says that rate of loss could lead to ice-free summers in the Arctic within the next two decades.

Fractures seen in rapidly melting Arctic sea ice, and it’s only May

Even accounting for the accelerating pace of Arctic climate change, sea ice loss in the Far North is running well ahead of schedule. This may signal a near record or record low sea ice extent to come in September.

Fractures in the ice cover are evident north of Greenland, which Mark Serreze, the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, told Mashable are “quite unusual” for this time of year.

In general, the Arctic has warmed at about twice the rate of the rest of the world, due largely to feedbacks between melting sea ice and the ability of newly-open ocean waters to absorb more heat, and then melt more ice.

So far, the ice is melting at a far faster pace compared to the record sea ice minimum that occurred in 2012.

Arctic sea ice set a record low seasonal maximum in March, and a relentless series of weather systems have pumped unusually mild air into the Arctic as well as milder than average ocean waters

Many studies have shown that the Arctic may be seasonally ice free within the next few decades.

Even for the fast-melting Arctic, 2016 is in ‘uncharted territory’

We’re in record breaking territory no matter how you look at it,” says Jennifer Francis, an Arctic specialist at Rutgers University who has published widely on how Arctic changes affect weather in the mid-latitudes. “The ice is really low, the temperatures are really high, the fire seasons have started earlier,” she says.

Indeed, NASA and other keepers of planetary temperatures have documented staggering warmth in the region this year — not just 1 or 2 degrees Celsius above average, but more than 4 degrees above average across much of the Arctic during the first quarter of this year:

giss-jan-march-2016-temps

So in sum: Scientists fear northern wildfires could be not only worsening, but also accelerating loss of permafrost from frozen northern and Arctic soils — which in turn would amplify global warming. And 2016, they think, could be a banner year for this process.

Granted, the atmosphere (and ocean) always deliver surprises, and as all of these researchers will tell you, there is no crystal ball to tell us what will happen in the Arctic as full summer nears. We only know that this year, five months in, is standing out for dramatic levels of warming, melting — and hints of early burning.

So there is plenty of cause for concern, especially in the northern hemisphere.

In the meantime our run of unusually mild weather seems to have come to an end with temperatures dropping 5+ degrees over the last day or two and a forecast of 10 degree highs through next week, more typical of late autumn.

But that’s irrelevant in the whole scheme of things. Record planet wide temperatures and record low Arctic sea ice extent are causing considerable concern in the climate change world.