Tag: Climate of the Arctic

More new tomorrows.

New world order goes to ramming speed!

We spent some enjoyable time with neighbours Dordie and Bill yesterday afternoon from where my sub-heading quote comes.  Perhaps, a tad tongue-in-cheek, but only a tad!

Yesterday, the bulk of my post The new tomorrows consisted of a powerful essay from William deBuys ‘Phoenix in the Climate Crosshairs‘, courtesy of TomDispatch.  It painted in very stark terms the impact of climate change on the metropolitan city of Phoenix in Arizona; a city of over 4 million people, indeed home to more than two-thirds of Arizona’s population.

So, today, I wanted to wander through some other aspects of this new world order.

Here’s a recent item on Climate Crocks examining the changes in March’s weather, 2013 vs 2012.  From which I quote:

Much Different March. Same Reason?

Dittohead reasoning: “So when it’s warm, you blame it on climate change. When its cold, you blame it on climate change. It can’t be both.”

Well, yeah, it can, kinda.

Meteo people weigh in.

7Weather Blog WHDH-TV:

I think we’ve passed the point of tolerance with these ceaseless storms. Gone are the days when viewers would flood our inboxes with pretty pictures of their pets and kids frolicing in the snow. Constant cleanup has made us snippy and short – even a few plow guys have hoisted the white flag. The holidays are long past, the winter is stale, and the people just want spring…

…and accountability.  Instead of pictures, I get questions in my inbox. “Why are we getting so much snow? Why did it turn on a dime? And when will it stop?”

Those are fair questions. But with the limits of the long range (10-14 day) forecasts, I’m not ready to answer the last question. We may sail out of this in April, but so far the first week of the month isn’t looking much different from the first week in March. The ultimate question is why.

The jetstream has taken on an odd path. [my emphasis]

Now just look at this:

Forecast sea level pressure departures from average from the GFS computer model. This shows the large area of unusually high atmospheric pressure over Greenland.Image from Weatherbell
Forecast sea level pressure departures from average from the GFS computer model. This shows the large area of unusually high atmospheric pressure over Greenland.
Image from Weatherbell

Later on that article says:

Recent research suggests that rapid Arctic climate change, namely the loss of sea ice cover, may be contributing to blocking patterns like we’re seeing right now. That rapid decline in Arctic sea ice since the beginning of the satellite record in 1979 may be altering weather patterns both in the Far North and across the U.S.. Some studies have shown that sea ice loss favors atmospheric blocking patterns such as the pattern currently in place, while others have not shown statistically significant changes in blocking patterns across the Northern Hemisphere, at least not yet. Arctic sea ice extent declined to a record low during the 2012 melt season.

The last Winter in North-West Europe has been ‘interesting’, to say the least!  A follow-up to that Climate Crock’s essay reports:

study published in 2012 showed that by changing the temperature balance between the Arctic and mid-latitudes, rapid Arctic warming is altering the course of the jet stream, which steers weather systems from west to east around the northern hemisphere. The Arctic has been warming about twice as fast as the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, due to a combination of human emissions of greenhouse gases and unique feedbacks built into the Arctic climate system. The jet stream, the study said, is becoming “wavier,” with steeper troughs and higher ridges.

A new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters shows that reduced sea ice cover can favor colder and stormier winters in the northern midlatitudes

Did you fully take in that paragraph?  The one about “The Arctic has been warming about twice as fast as the rest of the Northern Hemisphere …“?

The other great ‘river’ in the North Atlantic is the thermohaline circulation or to put it in more familiar terms: The Gulf Stream.  Has that been changing?  You bet! In more ways than one might expect.

Here’s a snippet from an item from last October’s issue of Nature journal:

Recent changes to the Gulf Stream causing widespread gas hydrate destabilization

The Gulf Stream is an ocean current that modulates climate in the Northern Hemisphere by transporting warm waters from the Gulf of Mexico into the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans. A changing Gulf Stream has the potential to thaw and convert hundreds of gigatonnes of frozen methane hydrate trapped below the sea floor into methane gas, increasing the risk of slope failure and methane release.

How the Gulf Stream changes with time and what effect these changes have on methane hydrate stability is unclear. Here, using seismic data combined with thermal models, we show that recent changes in intermediate-depth ocean temperature associated with the Gulf Stream are rapidly destabilizing methane hydrate along a broad swathe of the North American margin.

As the diagram below shows all too clearly, the cold waters from above the Arctic circle directly affect the Gulf Stream.


From the website of the National Snow & Ice Data Center:

Average sea ice extent for February 2013 was 14.66 million square kilometers (5.66 million square miles). This is 980,000 square kilometers (378,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average for the month, and is the seventh-lowest February extent in the satellite record.

Less ice means more cold water. QED!

OK, moving on.

We met recently with Wayne over at Rogue Valley Firewood here in Merlin.  Not to buy more firewood but because Wayne has started into hugelkultur.  Jean and I hadn’t heard of the term before.  Come back to that in a moment.

In musing with Wayne about how rapidly life is changing for us all, he spoke of the consequence of rising fuel prices and the rising costs of putting petrol (OK, he used the word ‘gas’!) in one’s car.  Wayne pointed out the obvious.  That the inevitable effect of those rising costs would be to steadily reduce one’s range for ‘affordable’ car journeys.  Many people will no longer be able to afford to drive longer distances.

In other words, local will increasingly become more relevant to daily life.  Or to use a better word than local, community will return to the centre stage of our world.  And of all the things important to a community, none is more so than access to food.

Back to Hugelkultur. Watch this video:

Wayne is committed to seeing just what can be grown for the local community of Merlin using this form of raised garden bed.  You can read more here.

Is this just a piece of fun?  Most definitely not!

Here’s a recent item from Grist.

This sobering map shows you all of America’s food deserts

By Sarah Laskow

The USDA’s new Food Access Research Atlas is a map of all the places in the country where people live in food deserts — places where it’s difficult to access fresh food.


More details here.

The message that hits me from that map is the consequence for millions of people, especially those in rural areas or unable to afford a car, when it comes to getting hold of fresh food.  Another reason why community food programs are going to be a feature of the new tomorrows.

Finally, take a look at a recent item on Paul Gilding’s blogsite.

Paul Gilding

Paul is an independent writer, advisor and advocate for action on climate change and sustainability. He recently published Victory at Hand for the Climate Movement? From which I offer:

There are signs the climate movement could be on the verge of a remarkable and surprising victory. If we read the current context correctly, and if the movement can adjust its strategy to capture the opportunity presented, it could usher in the fastest and most dramatic economic transformation in history. This would include the removal of the oil, coal and gas industries from the economy in just a few decades and their replacement with new industries and, for the most part, entirely new companies. It would be the greatest transfer of wealth and power between industries and countries the world has ever seen.

To understand this incredible potential we first have to step back and understand the unique structure of this social change movement, which may rank among the most influential in history. It is simplistic to characterise it as an alliance of grass roots organisations and activists pitched against a rich and well connected adversary. While that is part of the story, it is more accurately understood as an idea whose tentacles reach into every tier of government, the world’s largest companies and financial institutions, and throughout the academic and science communities.

Because of this, it is winning the battle from within: Its core arguments and ideas are clearly right; being endorsed by the world’s top science bodies and any significant organisation that has examined them.

Read the full article here.

Strikes me that in one very important way, we will be reverting to how our ancient hunter-gatherer ancestors lived.  I mean reverting to living our lives as relatively small interdependent communities almost exclusively at the local level.

Guess what!  Yet another aspect of learning from dogs.  In the wild, dogs live in groups of about 50 animals with clear boundaries to their territory.  Just like the ancestors of the domesticated dog and the wild dog: The grey wolf Canis Lupus.

Grey wolf Canis Lupus
Grey wolf Canis Lupus

See you all tomorrow!