See what Dec 2015 to Feb 2016 looked like, temperature-wise:

image source

2016 started off way hotter than 2015. A sudden jump like this is called a step change. If you expect we'll now cool off to our previous decadal average, forget that. We've "leveled up". 

The current warming surge amounts to what’s called a step change — a practically instantaneous shift in our planet’s climate.

This sudden shift in temperature has arrived because of a confluence of events: Long-term global warming, the multiyear effect of El Niño, and extreme weather — including persistent heat waves at the regional scale.

The major cause of February’s exceptional warmth is global warming,…

El Niño can’t explain all or even most of the current warming spike — especially the warmth in the Arctic.

El Niño warming probably explains about 0.2 degrees Celsius of the current global surge, according to a modeling study from the Met Office (the U.K.’s national meteorological service).

Based on the Met Office’s estimates and my calculations, 2016 will probably be around 1.1 to 1.5 degrees above the 1850-1900 average. An annual breach of 2 degrees could happen as soon as 2030, according to climate model simulations,…

According to a five-year prediction from the Met Office, global temperatures may fall slightly over the next year or two, as the El Niño wanes and temporarily cooler ocean temperatures associated with La Niña take hold. But global warming will make that respite brief: 2018, 2019 and 2020 will likely be warmer than 2015, and the warming trend is expected to continue long after that. Sixteen of the 18 years that followed the last big El Niño (1997-98) were warmer than 1997. [emphasis mine]

When Will The World Really Be 2 Degrees Hotter Than It Used To Be?

Step changes also happen in other climate issues, such as the rate of sea level rise. Sudden jumps in the rate of melt indicate a tipping point was passed, and new self-reinforcements have kicked in.

Doubling times in non linear events often don’t fit a pure exponential curve — instead tending to follow a series of spikes and recessions with major transitional events coming at the end of any ‘curve.’ [emphasis mine]

Our path ahead: major transitional events kicking us into new regimes of change we'll hate.

Dr James Hansen — Human Warming Pushing Seas Toward Exponential Ris...

image source, text mine

Views: 740

Replies to This Discussion

The step change in this Winter's climate is obvious. This is the Accumulated Freezing Degree Days N80 (the Arctic) thru Dec 09.

image source Arctic Sea Ice forum Reply #1310

Here's a sample from commentors FishOutofWater, meddoc, and jai mitchell:


The predictions of the GFS model have become unstable for more than 3 or 4 days out. The ECMWF may be a little better but the models have big time troubles dealing with blocking highs. My head has been spinning watching the different model outputs over the past week.

We are dealing with a situation of unprecedented ocean heat so far north on both the Pacific and Atlantic sides, in the month of December. It's spinning up the storms, pushing more water vapor into atmospheric mid levels where the clouds and water vapor block radiant heat loss. The intense storms, tracking from south to north into the Arctic drive huge wave fetches over the Atlantic into the Arctic. The recent madness over Siberia couldn't generate a fetch but winds were so strong and warm that the ice was driven back from the east Siberian shores.

We're getting feedback on top of feedback and it's giving the weather models hell over forecasts a week out.

Anybody who has confidence in their predictions now is either a liar or a fool, in my opinion. The whole ice/ocean/atmosphere system is changing too fast and has become unstable.

Temperature change in the Arctic this year.

image source

Dwindling November sea ice extent at both poles.

In November 2016, Arctic sea ice extent was 3.2 standard deviations below the 1981–2010 average. The chance of that happening is 1 in 1,000. At the same time, Antarctic sea ice extent was 5.7 standard deviations below its 1981–2010 November average. The chance of that happening is 1 in 100,000,000!

Global sea ice in November: Black swans flock to both poles

Today through the 27th, temperature at the North Pole is predicted to rise to just below freezing, especially the 22nd.

These two images together capture the scrolling window.

image source

Here's some Arctic Sea Ice Forum chatter.

Adam Ash says "...the [Arctic] climate is - - within some pretty distant bounds - potentially in a run-away mode until it hits some limit." Iceismylife replies, "The limit it would hit is melting Greenland's ice..."

There's also a gif showing that now, in darkness, Arctic Sea Ice is exporting some multiyear ice (in red) along the Greenland coast.

Global Sea Ice volume for 2016. Step change clearly visible!

image source

Abrupt Climate Change: there’s strength in the science

Oops! We might lock in 1.5°C rise within a year?

The Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) has stated: “Our window of time to act on climate may be shrinking even faster than previously thought” (6). The MCC has come to the conclusion that with the most pessimistic assessment that carbon emissions will extend temperature up to 1.5C over pre-Industrial levels within a year (7). The optimistic view expressed by the MCC is that it will take  emissions 4 years before the 1.5C mark is reached (8). [emphasis mine]

They cite increased carbon release from soils and the effect of storms on Arctic Sea Ice.

Footnotes refer to this study: Ticking Carbon Clock Warns We Have One Year to Avert Climate Catast... 

Go to The Interactive Clock, and select the 1.5°C option (upper right). You can select the optimistic, medium, or worst case scenarios on the left. <sigh> This doesn't mean that air temperature will be 1.5°C higher in nine months, it means we have nine months to avoid a future of catastrophic and irreversible climate shifts from that temperature.

While the Arctic Sea Ice Extent and Area have inched up to nearly 2016 levels for this time of year, volume is still low. Volume counts the most.

image source


In the Arctic Sea Ice Forum 2016/2017 Freezing Season Discussion, aslan says.

… looking forward, March should be really interesting. An early SFW [Stratospheric Final Warming] seems likely; and going on with the shift in the tropical convection, this could have profound effects for the beginning of the Spring …

In the Year-round ice-free Arctic Discussion, speculation arises as to whether we'll have an ice free Arctic Ocean year round by the end of this decade or not for several decades.

Iceismylife says,

IMO When the Arctic goes ice free year round is a function of how much rebound we get next year. If we get a good ice year or not a really bad one and a bad melt season then it could be several decades until year round ice free.

Global warming is step up slow decline, step up slow decline. If we get sea ice rebound next year then we are at the end of this step up and in for several decades of decline before the next step up.

If we don't get rebound next year then before then end of this decade is possible. Sorry to say that. [emphasis mine]

Shared Humanity adds,

While polar winters have been warming for a couple of decades, this winter has deviated from the trend line in a manner that can only mean one thing. There are special causes that have resulted in this abrupt shift from trend line. I am not sure if this is a special cause, one season type of thing or a phase change which will persist.

as the melt season minimums have declined, the amount of ice freezing has increased such that the freeze season maximums have declined at a slower pace.

With this wildly warm winter, it will be interesting to see if this trend holds true. It might not but I expect that this tendency for more ice to freeze when the minimums are low will continue into the future. [emphasis mine]

At the Arctic Sea Ice Forum, aslan looks for sources of the increased infrared radiation coming down from the atmosphere in the Arctic. He looks at temperature. But the infrared radiation increases are at a steeper slope than blackbody radiation. He looks at precipitable water. Bottom line, these feedbacks are not in Climate Models and suggest a step change will happen when sea ice dimishes to 3M KM2.

... the downward radiation flux, or the infrared emitted by the atmosphere toward Earth surface  ...  Data are for the whole above 69°N ...

We are tempted to say, a warmer atmosphere radiates more energy, so what is the point? 

Actually there is more in this. Relationship between temperature and radiation is not linear,...

... the increasing of water vapor, linked to warming of the temperatures but also to the decrease of Arctic sea ice, is increasing downward radiations.

The major point is that a warming of 20°C or 30°C is not impossible at surface is thus not impossible.

This graph shows the warming of the Arctic layers :

seaicesailor replies;

Pretty scary conclusions. 

Killer graph. That yellow line is showing almost 20 degC of warming! [emphasis mine]

From jdallen:

What aslan has demonstrated is a specific cascading feedback mechanism which I suspect is missing from most if not all model's computations.  If it is, I suspect it has not been modelled effectively enough, as it may be we are seeing a complete dynamic that's neither fully understood or been closely observed.

It may be there are relevant papers we haven't seen, and yes, this implies a pretty scary feedback and an implied tipping pointIf ice drops much below 3M KM2, the additional heat uptake and H2O being injected into the atmosphere combined with that being imported from steady less dramatic changes further south may translate to a rapid state change in atmospheric circulation that no one has envisioned.

The short ride to to that new state will likely be very bumpy.

At the Arctic Sea Ice Forum, administrator Neven opened a new thread on aslan's post (above), so it wouldn't get lost in comments.

aslan replies:

...  when I wrote the post, I never realize the magnitude of the warming. I said 20°C, 30°C, but in my brain no connections happened, I was not aware of what I was writing (the global warming, the weed of the future...). It is when I read you, just minutes ago, that I understand I was speaking about full 20°C in 35 years. And it was like "Salva nos Domine" et "Eleison imas" in my head.

He shares this map, showing Arctic temperature anomalies.

If the reanalysis is not widely in error (really unlikely), yeah there is probably something around 15 - 20°C of warming.

Without trying to put me on the front scene, but I am worry by this change since 2012, when Kara sea remained open in the winter. I discovered Ostrov Vize this winter, and since then Ostrov Vize is one thing that keep me awake in the night. This year, it was localized, but some strong hints about a feedback from the cloud, the water vapor, and the open Ocean, were clearly visible.

I agree with jdallen, models are probably not able to fully simulate the feedbacks which are now at play, and we are probably in for a state change without gloves nor care. There is some papers about the clouds, the water vapor feedback, the permanent inversion in Arctic, but I am not aware of any paper which is really relevant for the last two winters and which anticipate such a fast state change. [emphasis mine]

Ostrov Vize, the island where localized feedbacks from clouds, precipitable water, and open ocean were clearly seen, is shown below.

image source

Once again, academic science moves much more slowly than Climate Destabilization.

Oh-oh! Will every El Nino bump us up into a new climate regime from now on?

No El Nino, But July of 2017 was the Hottest on Record. So What the...

[In 2016] ... the added heat pumped out into the system by both fossil fuel produced greenhouse gasses and the shift to strong El Nino appears to have generated a step change in the global temperature regime. So despite a weak La Nina dominating during fall of 2016, global temperatures remained in a range of 1.06 to 1.21 C above 1880s averages during August through December.

Moving into 2017, overall global temperatures have backed off from the extreme heat seen during 2016. But only a little.

Adding in the record hot July at 1.05 C above 1880s averages, we find that 2017, so far is 1.16 C hotter than 1880s overall for the first seven months. That’s just 0.05 C shy of the record global heat that appeared in 2016. 

... we can probably expect that relative temperature anomalies will again rise as we move away from Northern Hemisphere summer. With departures likely continuing to exceed 1.05 or even 1.1 C above 1880s for most months going forward.

According to NASA’s GISS global temperature monitoring service, July of 2017 was 0.83 C hotter than the NASA 20th Century baseline (1.05 C hotter than 1880s). That’s the hottest July ever recorded in the 137 year global climate record. [emphasis mine, order changed]

image source

In Jet Streams WIDEN and FILL Most of Southern Hemisphere, Paul Beckwith says that 

Jet Stream behavior is taking us to an entirely different regime

This is how jet streams have been visualized.

image source

In the above diagram they're illustrated as orange-colored tubes. Jet streams traditionally formed rings centered on the North Pole.

image source

Interestingly, the How It Works article notes that :

In the southern hemisphere, meanwhile, the jet stream tends to be weakened by a smaller temperature contrast created by the greater expanse of flat, even ocean surface, although it can impact the weather in exactly the same way as the northern jet stream does.

Beckwith points out that the Jet Streams have changed dramatically, not only becoming wavier and slower in the Northern Hemisphere, but also becoming space-filling in both hemispheres, and often crossing the Equator. I've noticed these changes, checking them daily at earth nullschool, as turbulent eddies proliferate kind of fractally.  I've also been astonished by the strengthening of the Southern Hemisphere Jet Streams. Beckwith points out that currently the Southern Jet Streams extend to within about 10 degrees of the Equator. Here's a current screen grab of the Southern Hemisphere from earthnullschool. You can barely see any blue at the edges, where the Equator is.

The Southern Jet Stream used to make a ring--like barrier, keeping the cold air over Antarctica. Now often bumps and whorls appear.

Here's the north right now.

You can see there's less purple, red and pink - the colors of faster wind - than in the South, and even less green. There are so many whirls interrupting the circular flow it's hard to count them. Proliferating whirlpools, turbulent flow, are common now.

My observations too are that noticeable changes have occurred in Jet Stream  behavior, and I've been surprised to not see scientific papers on the subject in the news.

One of the effects of these changes is increasing north-south air exchange, as noted today in the Arctic Sea Ice Forum.

As Beckwith notes, this causes atmospheric rivers of moisture to move into the Arctic. This water vapor not only carries heat, it's a greenhouse gas.




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