Greenland, Antarctica, South America, the Himalayas – it’s all going, the ice is leaving the Earth. This is a whirl-wind roundup of new science with Ottawa climate expert Paul Beckwith. We talk pollution (is it saving us?), vanishing glaciers, Tasmanian dry lightening fires, James Hansen’s latest, tech to draw down carbon dioxide, and why this scientist made 500 videos to educate and warn the public via YouTube. Catch up quick, with this week’s Radio Ecoshock.
We are witnessing the end of the age of ice on Earth.
It sounds great doesn’t it? – especially during blustery February in the Northern Hemisphere. Cancel the celebrations though. Sea level rise is going to be wicked this century, and for centuries after that. We will redraw the maps, withdraw from our ports, lose the weather we need for agriculture, and maybe regroup into tribes that will survive. It’s news that good, and new revelations from climate science are coming in so fast, no single scientist or radio host can keep track of it all. It is like standing in front of a fire-hose.
In this program, we are going to surf some of the highlights with our favorite climate generalist, Paul Beckwith. Paul has a Masters degrees and an engineering degree. He taught climate science at two Canadian Universities. Now he is without a doubt, the world’s biggest climate teacher on YouTube, with over 500 videos full of charts, satellite images, and explanations of the bizarre unfolding of climate change. We are going to cover the whole wild world, from the South Pole through Australia to Europe, North America, all the way to the North Pole. From Ottawa Canada, we welcome Paul Beckwith back to Radio Ecoshock.
THE POLAR VORTEX AND THE WINTER OF CLIMATE CHANGE
When we think of global warming, we imagine hot days, way too hot days and fires. But now it’s time to talk about what I called “The Winter of Climate Change”. Paul and I discuss what is the new winter going to be like. Remember too: a while back we had pro meteorologist Judah Cohen on the air. He said the term “polar vortex” really only applies to events in the Stratosphere, but now it has been stolen and popularized by TV weather forecasters. What we are really describing is a blast of super-cold Arctic air escaping lower down to the mid-latitudes, partly due to a weak and wavering Jet Stream.
If there is global warming, people from the California Mountains to upper New York State to Britain and Moscow are all asking: why are we digging out from so much snow? For me the real story behind these mega-snow storm events is extreme precipitation events, enabled by greater moisture absorption in the warmer atmosphere, but happening when the temperature happens to be below zero. Both oceans and lakes are getting warmer which leads to big snowfall events.
In Paul’s YouTube videos, he have often talks about the whip-saw events where temperatures can shift as much as 70 degrees Fahrenheit, 21 degrees C, within 24 hours. This is very hard on human infrastructure, but it’s really toxic to plants. I worry we’ll see tree die-off, and lost perennials from those sub-zero chills followed by spring-like warmth the next day. I guess we’ll find out.
There was just another case of that in the southern Australian island of Tasmania. About a week ago photos in the Tasmanian highlands showed giant forest fires on the horizon, during record hot heat. Fast forward to Tuesday 12th, and you would see an unusual summer snow storm at the same spot! Whipsaw.
FOR EUROPEAN AND RUSSIAN LISTENERS
Our listeners in the United Kingdom may complain about snow last month, but they had it easy compared to folks in Germany, Eastern Europe, and over to Moscow. Horrendous snow storms have buried some cities and countryside. Scientists explain that the Baltic Sea is abnormally warm, which lofts more moisture into the air. If it’s winter, that comes down as snow. Global warming can create more snow, and that drives some trolls crazy.
(I saw a perfect graphic on the Net: the Titanic is tilting way up in the air, as the bow goes under the water. Trump and the deniers are holding on near the stern, saying “If the ship is sinking, why are we two hundred feet in the air?” That kind of explains it. These days, global warming deniers have to get their doubts in quickly, because the sudden melt and spring-like temperature can follow up two days later. There isn’t as much time for “the winter shows global warming isn’t real” propaganda…]
Let me explain my simplistic model of the sudden intrusion of Arctic air further south. Some of my ideas come from previous interviews with Paul. Until the 1960’s, the greater difference between Polar air and tropical air kept the Jet Stream mostly moving directly across continents, West to East, like a fence or barrier between the coldest air and the sub-tropics where the majority of the world’s people live. In the Northern Hemisphere, that fence broke down, likely due to a warmer Arctic.
ICE SHEET LOSS
In a minute, we are going to take a whirl-wind tour of the great ice sheets melting around the world. But first a note on the big picture, and why you need to care. There is new science out, literally just published saying, “Melting ice sheets may cause ‘climate chaos’ according to new modeling” and “Current international climate policies do not take into account full effects on global climate”. I have an interview coming out next week with Nick Golledge in New Zealand, , the lead author. It’s very important.
In the program I read from the press release by McGill University in Canada, because this will impact many listeners:
“Warming in Eastern Canada and cooling in Northwestern Europe
Professor Natalya Gomez, from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at McGill contributed to the study by modeling projected changes to water levels around the globe as ice melts into the ocean. The ice sheet simulations suggest that the fastest increase in the rise of sea levels is likely to occur between 2065 and 2075. Melting ice sheets will affect water temperatures and circulation patterns in the world’s oceans, which will in turn affect air temperatures – in a complex ice-ocean-atmosphere feedback loop.
“Water levels would not simply rise like a bathtub,” says Gomez. “Some areas in the world, such as the island nations in the Pacific, would experience a large rise in sea level, while close to the ice sheets the sea level would actually fall.”
However, the effects of ice sheet melt are far more widespread than simply leading to changes in sea levels. As warmer melt water enters the oceans, for example in the North Atlantic Ocean, major ocean currents such as the Gulf Stream will be significantly weakened. This will lead to warmer air temperatures in the high Arctic, Eastern Canada and Central America, and cooler temperatures over northwestern Europe on the other side of the Atlantic.”
Paul Beckwith and I briefly discuss the reduction in lake ice in North America. An assistant professor at the University of Toronto just published on the “Widespread loss of lake ice around the Northern Hemisphere in a warming world“. That will affect snow down-wind from those lakes, but what else? Ecological systems, species loss, invasive species? We have some science about what the loss of sea ice does, but I wonder about the loss of lake ice.
A TOUR OF ICE SHEET LOSS
[1 GREENLAND ]
Let’s take a grand tour of ice sheet loss, one place at a time. Just out on January 21st, new science finds, quote: “Greenland ice melting four times faster than in 2003, study finds. Southwest part of the island could be major contributor to sea level rise.”
Lead author Michael Bevis of Ohio State University says:
“…in the case of Greenland, global warming has brought summertime temperatures in a significant portion of Greenland close to the melting point, and the North Atlantic Oscillation has provided the extra push that caused large areas of ice to melt“.
Find that paper published in PNAS, February 5 2019, here.
[2 ANTARCTICA ]
ANTARCTICA LOSING SIX TIMES MORE ICE MASS ANNUALLY NOW, THAN 40 YEARS AGO
“Antarctica losing six times more ice mass annually now, than 40 years ago”. This comes from Dr. Eric Rignot, Chair of Earth System Science at University of California, Irvine, and Senior Research Scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. In 2014, Eric and his team shocked the world when they reported melting in a section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is “unstoppable”.
The new paper is “Four decades of Antarctic Ice Sheet mass balance from 1979–2017“, released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on January 14, 2019.
We likewise we see warmer seas – even a degree can make a big difference – flowing around and under Antarctica, leading to major ice loss, some of it hidden from view, like the gigantic hollowed-out cavern under the Thwaites Glacier, described by NASA’s Eric Rignot.
Paul Beckwith covered Eric Rignot and that Thwaites cavern in two YouTube videos posted right away, February 4. He’s like a science news service too! Find that blog here, and the videos: Part 1, and Part 2.
Two part video posted Feb 4
[3 HIMALAYAS ]
Published February 4 2019 by YaleEnvironment360
“One-third of the ice in the Himalayas and Hindu Kush mountains will be lost due to rising temperatures by the end of the century, even if nations take aggressive measures to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, according to a landmark new report by more than 200 scientists.
The Hindu Kush/Himalaya region, along with the Tibetan Plateau, are often referred to as the world’s ‘Third Pole’ behind Antarctica and the Arctic. These glaciated regions are a major source of water for nearly 2 billion people, with rivers that originate in the mountains supplying drinking water and supporting agriculture in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China.
‘This is the climate crisis you haven’t heard of,’ Philippus Wester, a water and climate scientist at the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), said in a statement. “Global warming is on track to transform the frigid, glacier-covered mountain peaks of the [Hindu Kush/Himalaya] cutting across eight countries to bare rocks in a little less than a century.”
The report is: “The Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment, Mountains, Climate Change, Sustainability and People”. It is an open access book online. You can download the .pdf from this page.
In that report, the scientists found that if nations drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions and keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees F), the Hindu Kush/Himalaya range will lose one-third of its ice by 2100.
* A temperature rise of 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) would lead to 50 percent of the ice being lost and
* global temperature increases of 4 to 5 degrees C rise (7 to 9 degrees F) would melt two-thirds of the region’s glaciers, the report said.
* The region has already lost 15 percent of its ice since the 1970s.
As the ice melts, river flows will increase up to 2060, resulting in frequent flooding events, according to this report. After 2060, river flows will decline, reducing drinking water supplies, hydroelectric capacity, and crop irrigation.
The 600-page report was requested by the eight nations included in the Hindu Kush/Himalaya range, which runs nearly 2,200 miles from Afghanistan to Myanmar. It was worked on by 210 scientists over a five-year period, and reviewed by another 125 researchers.
[4 SOUTHERN TIP OF SOUTH AMERICA]
SOUTH CHILE ICE IN MELT DOWN AT 90 F (32 C)
“Extreme Temperature Diary-February 5th, 2019/ Topic: Just Set: Southern Most 90F Reading Ever Recorded On Earth” posted February 5, 2019 by guyonclimate_mi5tor.
“It’s come to my attention that we recently had another heat wave in the Southern Hemisphere with historic ramifications. Instead of Australia this heat episode came from Chile and Argentina across the southernmost area of South America. In fact, we may have seen the most southern occurrence of 32C (90F) ever observed reported on 2/4/2019 at Porvenir, Chile. I’m getting this information from Etienne Kapikian from France:
Southernmost 30°C and 32°C ever recorded on earth (4 Feb 2019)
30.8°C Rio Grande (Argentina, 53.80°S) all-time record for #TierraDelFuego province
32.5°C Porvenir (Chile, 53.25°S) all-time record for Magallanes region in the Meteochile network (+local T>33°C in 2ndary network) https://t.co/uSbhKvrJs7
— Etienne Kapikian (@EKMeteo) February 5, 2019
They had to close schools and government buildings which are not designed to cope with temperatures like 87 deg F. A local “beach” which is generally the cold front facing Antarctica, and populated by penguins, was not populated by stunned humans, some of whom do not own a bathing suit. Of course the water is still too cold to go in.”
A comment on that post says:
“I have been to Argentinian and Chilean Patagonia. 38 ºC at Southern Ice Field glaciers like Perito Moreno, Viedma, Upsala or Grey is incredibly scary. SIF is the 3rd largest reservoir of ice on the planet after Antarctica and Greenland.”
HEAT RECORDS AND PREDICTIONS
[AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND AND TASMAN SEA]
Let us leave the end of the ice age, and the shivering cold behind. We can always head to Australia and New Zealand where the beach weather is great this time of year. A little too much of a good thing though…
We should add that the island of Tasmania was under a heat wave. People mistakenly think Tasmania is tropical, but it is the closest part of Australia to Antarctica. The weather should be very temperate if not cold and wet there, most of the year. Tasmania has world-class forests that have not burned in thousands of years, until the last few years. Like me in British Columbia, Tasmanians have felt the terror of wildfires that plague the rest of Australia, now that every year is a fire year. No where is safe anymore…
New Zealand has also been whacked with hot weather, and wildfires. It’s been way too hot for the people of the capital Wellington, where few people have air-conditioners. The seas around New Zealand, the Tasman Sea, has been way, way too hot. It is going to affect the sea life around New Zealand I think.
THE HOT SEAS
“The oceans are the hottest they’ve been since we started measuring — which means we should prepare for more disastrous flooding and storms” by Aylin Woodward Jan. 16, 2019. She refers to this Letter published in Nature Climate Change on January 18, 2016: “Industrial-era global ocean heat uptake doubles in recent decades.” Lead author Peter J. Gleckler and his team write:
“Our model-based analysis suggests that nearly half of the industrial-era increases in global OHC have occurred in recent decades, with over a third of the accumulated heat occurring below 700 m[eters] and steadily rising.”
BUT WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL…FAST SCIENCE CAN MAKE MISTAKES (RARELY)
Chris Mooney in the Washington Post writes: “A major study claimed the oceans were warming much faster than previously thought. But researchers now say they can’t necessarily make that claim.”
I was set to interview the lead author of that study, Laure Resplandy from Princeton, for Radio Ecoshock, but while we waited to set a date, the error was discovered. We both let the interview drop. But that doesn’t limit or disprove other new science on the increase in ocean heating, or the physical observations in some areas, like the seas around Australia, where biological systems like coral are already reacting to excess heating, by dying off.
Plus, doesn’t this show the scientific method working? You publish and everyone in the very competitive and skeptical scientific world gets to take a crack at your work. Scientists are as much a crew of disprovers as provers.
“HOTTER WORLD! “THE WARMEST FIVE YEARS IN THE RECORD ARE JUST THE LAST FIVE YEARS,”
“…the warmest five years in the record are just the last five years,” Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.”
David Freeman of NBCNews writes: “The average global surface temperature has risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) since the 1880s, NASA data showed. NOAA, which uses different baselines and analyzes the data differently, found that global temperatures in 2018 were 1.42 degrees F (0.79 degrees C) above the 20th century average.”
So we are already two degrees above pre-industrial! What happened to 1.5 Even if we suddenly agree to start counting from “the 20th century average” (and why would we do that ) – we are almost at 1.5 now (1.42) – and that still doesn’t count how much from global dimming! (Next week I’ll be talking with expert Robert Allen about new science on global dimming. I’ll ask him how much heat will be added if and when we clean up air pollution.)
In this program Paul carefully counts out the various temperature records from 1750 to 2016 and concludes total warming since 1750 by 2016 reached between 1.47 and 1.57 degrees – already about the Paris aspirational goal. He bases most of that count on the new James Hansen accounting. But that does not include at least .5 degree C more coming, as we clean up air pollution. Have we already emitted enough to take us to 2 degrees C sooner, rather than later?
Paul tells us James Hansen also points out that land temperatures are rising three times faster than the ocean is warming. So we experience much more heat than the “global mean average” used by the IPCC and so much of the media. Then Paul raises another beauty led by Hansen and a big group of scientists that we all should read: The 2017 paper “Young People’s Burden, Requirement of Negative CO2 Emissions“. If you live and breathe, that is essential reading. It takes a few seconds to load.
NEW JAMES HANSEN PAPER “Global Temperature in 2018 and Beyond”
At points in this interview, Paul refers to James Hansen’s blockbuster new paper “Global Temperature in 2018 and Beyond“. I ask Paul to give us a couple of highlights from that paper, but it’s loaded with important science. You can read the full paper, with no pay barriers (it’s free) here as an online .pdf.
By the way, there’s some bad news for my North American listeners in this paper, and in another new paper I’ll be discussing next week. Due to a number of factors, from ice-sheet melt to changing ocean currents, it looks like the East of the United States and Canada could have colder winters more often than the rest of the world. As the world warms, factors in the climate system conspire to open that Arctic ice-box, and it pours down into North America. That’s what the scientists say.
CHANGING THE CENTER OF POLAR COLD
Paul suggests you search for “Arctic Monsoon”, because he says “we are going into this monsoon-type world”. Then he tips us to a video he made on idea that the center of cold is shifting in the Arctic east toward Greenland. In February 2019, almost 22,000 people watched that video. Here is Paul’s theory: if there no ice year round, which will happen sooner of later, the center of cold would be center of Greenland at 83 deg N. Latitude. Paul says that change in the center of Polar cold could drag the Jet Stream, making North America “the coldest hold-out”. “The patterns that we see will be completely re-written,” Paul says, when the Blue Ocean event comes.
WORLD HEADING FOR WARMEST DECADE
“Climate change: World heading for warmest decade, says Met Office” by Matt McGrath, Environment correspondent BBC News, 6 February 2019.
“In the next five years there’s also a chance we’ll see a year in which the average global temperature rise could be greater than 1.5C.”
‘We’ve just made this year’s forecasts and they go out to 2023 and what they suggest is rapid warming globally,’ Prof Adam Scaife, head of long term forecasting at the Met Office, told BBC News.
‘By looking at individual years in that forecast we can now see for the first time, there is a risk of a temporary, and I repeat temporary, exceedance of the all-important 1.5C threshold level set out in the Paris climate agreement.'”
Of course that is followed by a spew of denial from Daily Mail readers. One says:
“All rubbish ! Multiple volcanos are going off all over the world as we speak’ that i more green house has than we create in a lifetime. It’s all lies folks“. Funny, the scientists don’t see a rash of volcanoes causing this. Another hits the classic: “Just out of interest – where are the grants coming from that make scientists so wealthy that they’re happy to lie about their findings?”
But are these real posts or Russian bots? Who knows?
AEROSOLS, THE CLEAN-UP, AND RECENT HOT YEARS…
The revelation of actual heating due to a partial cleanup of the worst forms of pollution (less global dimming) competing with new science suggesting smog will be worse under global warming due to (a) climate change leading to meteorological patterns increasing smog effects (like more dry days even between extreme rainfall events in China, per Yangyang Xu). Next week I’ll be interviewing Robert J. Allen, lead author of the paper “Enhanced land–sea warming contrast elevates aerosol pollution in a warmer world.”
Then, adding to the confusion over the role of aerosols and global dimming, I know of an unpublished study, still under review, that claims most of the warming in the last five years, certainly driven by our emissions, is being suddenly revealed as a result of air-pollution control measures, principally but not exclusively in China. I hope to interview the lead author once it clears peer-review.
STEP UP, NEVER BACK
Paul Beckwith spent a few years investigating abrupt climate change. Scientific studies show that has happened in the past. Is it happening now? Or is this just the start of a steep on ramp? We discuss.
My developing hunch is that a combination of climate pressures, smaller and larger, can push us up a step in heating. Even if some of those pressures are natural cycles, in the ocean or wherever, which may revert back toward a cooling phase, once we breach a level or warming, other forces and reactions set in which make it very unlikely that we can ever go back to the formal cooler “normal” or anything like it. Barring a meteor strike, or a string of volcano eruptions that don’t stop for a few hundred or thousand years, can you see any way for us to go “back”, once we take a step toward more heating?
ACTION – CITIES DECLARING CLIMATE EMERGENCY
In 2015, I interviewed Psychologist Margaret Klein Salamon on movement to mobilize to save the climate. (My other guest that week was Paul Beckwith). Margaret has been very busy ever since. Check out her web site at theclimatepsychologist.com Given the disaster as the U.S. Federal level, the emergency mobilizers have changed strategy to get cities signing on.
JANUARY 29, 2019
The Climate Mobilization launched our City by City strategy after the 2016 election of Donald Trump, knowing that we wouldn’t have leadership from Washington D.C. to mobilize our economy and society to transition from fossil fuels. In recent weeks we’ve seen declarations from Vancouver, Canada, Hayward, California, and Cornwall and Lambeth in the United Kingdom.”
Global News, also January 29, 2019, reports Halifax joins Vancouver as 2nd Canadian city to declare a climate emergency.
But Vancouver sets a date far too late: (from the climatemobilization.org blog)
“The resolution sets the target date for completing the changeover at 2050, far too late to effectively ensure a safe climate. We urge the city of Vancouver to study this target further and accelerate their timeline to accomplish the transition by 2030.”
We live in amazing times. We have super science arriving daily to explain how this planet really works. And we find all that just as we realize we are wrecking our only home.
You have been listening to the amazing Paul Beckwith. Sure he’s taught climate science at two Canadian Universities. Paul has his Masters degree and another in engineering. He plays top level chess, and plays with cats. But for all of us now, Paul is the master professor of climate science on You tube. He recently reached 500 YouTube videos posted, 99% on climate science.
You can get your own education, for free, or find out about any worrying headline on climate, at Paul’s You tube channel. The best access point for Paul’s work is his web site at paulbeckwith.net, or his Facebook feed at paul.beckwith.9. Be sure and support Paul’s planet-wide climate teaching if you can.
NOTE THIS COOL VIDEO FOR THOSE DOWN-UNDER, AND NEWS FROM THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE
Mayhem Down Under: Atacama Desert Waterfall; Argentinian Heatwaves; Tasmanian Dry Lightning Fires
Published on Feb 7, 2019
Climate Mayhem is hitting many regions in the Southern Hemisphere. A misconception is that the bottom of the planet is more immune from rapid climate disruption due to its remoteness from the Arctic. Even many 1 Percenters and 0.1 Percenters are confused, and preparing Bug-Out places in New Zealand; they are sadly mistaken. I discuss torrential rains and waterfalls in the Atacama Desert in Chile (driest Desert in world); heatwaves at the Southern tip of Argentina, and unprecedented wildfires from “dry lightning” in old-growth pristine forests in Tasmania.
and GERMANE TO THIS INTERVIEW
“Global Average Temperature Rising About 3x Faster Over Land Than Water”
Thank you for listening again this week. If you feel motivated to support my work with Radio Ecoshock, you can find easy details on how to donate here.