Coming to Understand Abrupt Climate Change ~ Paul Beckwith
Paul Beckwith ~ I have been telling people for over 2 years about the Arctic albedo collapse reducing polar to equator temperature gradients, physically causing the slowing, waving out and stalling of jet streams, causing extreme weather events to skyrocket. For example, my CMOS presentation in January 2012 was seen by >70,000 (by Aug/2012) and still counting. I have given multiple talks to the public, politicians, scientists. I’ve incessantly tweeted (1200 followers) and facebooked (4000 friends) about these connections. I started blogging frequently with Sierra Club Canada about a year ago, as well as with Arctic News, the Elephant Journal, BoomerWarrior, Canadian Daily, World Daily. Also I have YouTube videos and radio podcasts (EcoShock radio, Gorilla radio, etc.). I have also educated about 200 students on these connections within my climatology & meteorology classes over the last 2 years. In total, I’ve have reached at least 1 million people with this Arctic – jet stream – extreme weather connection.
The public is really coming to understand that we (collectively) are in great trouble…
Abrupt climate change. It is happening today, big time. The northern hemisphere atmospheric circulation system is doing its own thing, without the guidance of a stable jet stream. The jet stream is fractured into meandering and stuck streaked segments, which are hoovering up water vapor and directing it day after day to unlucky localized regions, depositing months or seasons worth of rain in only a few days, turning these locales into water worlds and trashing all infrastructure like houses, roads, train tracks and pipelines and also creating massive sinkholes and catastrophic landslides. And climate change is only getting warmed up.
In the Arctic, methane is coming out of the thawing permafrost. Both on land and under the ocean on the sea floor. The Yedoma permafrost in Siberia is now belching out methane at greatly accelerated rates due to intense warming. The collapsing sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is exposing the open ocean to greatly increased solar absorption and turbulent mixing from wave action due to persistent cyclonic activity. Massive cyclonic activity will trash large portions of the sea ice if positioned to export broken ice via the Fram Strait.
What does it all mean?
We have lost our stable climate. Likely permanently. Rates of change are greatly exceeding anything in the paleorecords. By at least 10x, and more likely >30x. We are heading to a much warmer world. The transition will be brutal for civilization.
Can we avoid this? Stop it? Probably not. Not with climate reality being suppressed by corporations and their government employees in their relentless push for more and more fossil fuel infrastructure and mining and drilling.
Craziness, in a nutshell. Temperatures over land surfaces in the far north have been consistently over 25 C for weeks, due to persistent high pressure atmospheric blocks, leading to clear skies and unblocked solar exposure. Water temperatures in rivers and streams in the far north have resulted in large fish kills as their ecological mortality thresholds have been exceeded. Many other regions are experiencing strange incidences of animal mortality. Mass migrations of animals towards the poles are occurring on land and sea, at startling rates, in an effort for more hospitable surroundings for survival. Shifting food source distributions is causing even hardier, less vulnerable species to be severely stressed. For example, dolphins are being stranded or dying, birds are dropping out of the sky, and new parasites and bacteria are proliferating with warmer temperatures.
In regions of the world undergoing severe droughts the vegetation and soils are drying and fires are exploding in size, frequency, and severity. Especially hard-hit are large regions of the US southwest, southern Europe, and large swaths of Asia. Who knows if forests that are leveled by fire will eventually be reforested; it all depends on what type of climate establishes in the region.
What about coastal regions around the world and sea levels? Not looking too good for the home team. In 2012 Greenland tossed off about 700 Gt (Gt=billion tons) of sea ice, from both melting and calving. As the ice melts, it is darkening from concentrated contaminants being exposed, from much greater areas of low albedo meltwater pools, and from fresh deposits of black carbon ash from northern forest fires. Even more worrying are ominous signs of increasing movement. GPS sensor anchored to the 3 km thick glaciers hundreds of kms from the coast are registering increased sliding. Meltwater moulins are chewing through the ice from the surface to the bedrock and are transporting heat downward, softening up the ice bonded to the bedrock and allowing sliding. Eventually, large chunks will slide into the ocean causing tsunamis and abrupt sea level rises. Many regions of the sea floor around Greenland are scarred from enormous calving episodes in the past.
On a positive note, this knowledge of our changing climate threat is filtering out to greater numbers of the slumbering public that has been brainwashed into lethargy by the protectors of the status quo. As more and more people see the trees dying in their back yards and their cities and houses and roads buckling under unrelenting torrential rains, they are awaking to the threat. And there will be a threshold crossed and a tipping point reached in human behavior with an understanding of the reality of the risks we face. And finally global concerted action. To slash emissions. And change our ways. And retool our economies and reset our priorities. And not take our planet for granted.
Paul Beckwith is a PhD student with the laboratory for paleoclimatology and climatology, department of geography, University of Ottawa. He teaches second year climatology/meteorology as a part-time professor. His thesis topic is “Abrupt climate change in the past and present.” He holds an M.Sc. in laser physics and a B.Eng. in engineering physics.
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