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  • Correcting the underestimation in the current IPCC future average global temperature projections...

     

     

    It is useful to now update the IPCC’s (the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,) four most recent 2014 average global temperature and time frame predictions while compensating for their known and regular underestimations of about 25-40%. Please keep in mind the IPCC’s 2014 prediction scenarios also do not include any calculations or adjustments for crossing more global warming tipping points during their prediction scenario periods...

    Here is what the IPCC’s temperature and arrival date estimates might look like if their underestimation bias were corrected: 

    In IPCC Scenario 1, their most optimistic projection, they say we will have only a 2° Celsius increase by 2100 (3.6° Fahrenheit). (Please note that in all 4 graphs below, CS stands for Climageddon Scenario and the 25% and 40% are underestimation correction levels for the 4 IPCC prediction levels.)

    At the 25% underestimation level, this means that we will reach 2.5° Celsius (4.5° Fahrenheit) about 21 years sooner than they predict will occur—at about 2079. This puts us in the later part of Phase 1 of the Climageddon Scenario, or more likely, in the beginning of Phase 2.

    Correcting_IPCC_Prediction_Scenarios-01.png

    At the 40% underestimation level, we will reach 2.9° Celsius (5.2°+ Fahrenheit) roughly 34 years sooner than they predict—at about 2066. This puts us somewhere within Phase 2 of the Climageddon Scenario.  

    In IPCC Scenario 2, their more likely projection, they say we will have only a 3° Celsius increase by 2100 (5.4° Fahrenheit). 

    At the 25% underestimation level, this means we will reach 3.5° Celsius (6.9° Fahrenheit) about 21 years sooner than they predict—at about 2079. This puts us in or near Phase 3 of the Climageddon Scenario.  

    At the 40% underestimation level, we will reach 4.2° Celsius (7.5° Fahrenheit) about 34 years sooner than they predict—at about 2066. This puts us in or near Phase 4 of the Climageddon Scenario.

    Correcting_IPCC_Prediction_Scenarios-02.png

     

    In IPCC Scenario 3, their less optimistic projection, they say we will have only a 4° Celsius increase by 2100 (7.2°+ Fahrenheit). 

    At the 25% underestimation level, this means we will reach 5° Celsius (about 9° Fahrenheit)21 years sooner than they predict—at about 2079. This puts us in or near the chaos and collapse of Phase 5 of the Climageddon Scenario.  

    At the 40% underestimation level, we will reach 5.6° Celsius (10° Fahrenheit) 34 years soonerthan they predict—at about 2066. This also puts us in or closer to phase 5 of the Climageddon Scenario.

    Correcting_IPCC_Prediction_Scenarios-03.png

    In IPCC Scenario 4, their least optimistic projection, they say we will have only a 6° or more Celsius increase by 2100 (10.8°+ Fahrenheit). A 6° Celsius increase in average global temperature is the end of most human life as we know it.

    At the 25% underestimation level, this means that we will reach 7.8° Celsius (about 13.5°Fahrenheit) at about 2079. This will put us well into Phase 5 of the Climageddon Scenario.  

    At the 40% underestimation level, we will reach 8.4° Celsius (about 15° Fahrenheit) —at about 2066. This could put us in Phase 5 of the Climageddon Scenario faster than anyone is ready for. 

    Correcting_IPCC_Prediction_Scenarios-04.png

     

    (Please note: In the four corrected IPCC graphs above, we are using recalculated temperature estimates to extrapolate approximate placement positions for the graph’s new projected timelines. Rather than show the precise new time frames of a particular recalculated temperature, these four graphs illustrate relative differences from the IPCC’s predicted temperatures and time frames. These four graphs additionally point toward how unanticipated higher temperatures will also dramatically accelerate consequence arrival times and increase consequence severity. It is difficult to precisely recalculate new timeframes with temperature calculations only, and because there is always a delay in the actual time that it takes to get to higher temperatures because of inertia and momentum factors in climate systems and subsystems.)

    March 11, 2018

     
    PS: How are you protecting your family and assets from the intensifying consequences of global warming? 
     
     
     

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  • This dire ocean scenario is a stark reminder of why the world is trying to stop climate change...

    Rolling waves driven by Cyclone Christian appear in the Elbe estuary near the North Sea close to Brunsbuettel, northern Germany, on Oct. 28, 2013. (Christian Charisius/European Pressphoto Agency)

     

    Scientists on Thursday published an alarming scenario for what could happen to the planet’s oceans and fisheries by the year 2300 if very high levels of global warming are allowed to continue...

    The good news is that it’s eminently avoidable and a very long way off from happening. The bad news is that, according to the concerned authors, it highlights a new vulnerability that could arise in a severely disrupted climate system — and becomes a real possibility if rampant global warming continues well beyond this century.

    The study finds that in a future world of extreme warming, after Antarctic sea ice collapses and oceans are altered, large volumes of essential nutrients could become trapped in the Southern Ocean. That could impair the growth of tiny marine organisms that form the base of the food chain in other parts of the world ocean, thus triggering a 20 percent decline in fishery yields overall, including a 60 percent drop in the Atlantic.

    This would occur because the Southern Ocean near Antarctica is a key site of “upwelling,” in which deep ocean waters, which have picked up such nutrients as phosphorous and nitrogen from the depths (which end up there after marine organisms die and their bodies sink), rise and deliver that biological bounty to the surface. Then, the nutrients enter the global ocean circulation and are carried northward to more moderate climes.

    But if warming gets severe enough, Southern Ocean upwelling can be suppressed by warm ocean surface waters. Meanwhile, many of the nutrients that do manage to rise will be consumed by the increasingly active biology of the mostly ice-free ocean around Antarctica — leaving far fewer nutrients for the rest of the world.

    In this case, as organisms in the Southern Ocean die, more nutrients again sink to the bottom of that ocean, and stay there.

    “So you have nutrients building up in the deep ocean, down where the biology can’t use them or get to them,” said Keith Moore, the lead author of the study in Science and a professor at the University of California at Irvine.

    The researchers concede that the picture they paint is dire — and requires very high levels of warming that might never materialize. The temperature of the Antarctic Ocean in the scenario, for instance, would be 6 degrees Celsius (10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than it is now, and the sea ice ringing Antarctica would be almost entirely gone.

    The computer modeling study also uses a worst-case scenario for the burning of fossil fuels to the year 2100 and even beyond it, ultimately triggering atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide just below 2,000 parts per million. That’s far in excess of the current level around 410 parts per million. It’s questionable that humanity would let things get that bad, and growing numbers of wind and solar installations and electric cars suggest that in future decades, we’ll be powering key aspects of life without fossil fuels.

    Still, the authors said, it’s worth probing such extremes to understand how the climate system works, and they noted that for now, a high emissions scenario remains possible.

    “These simulations paint a fairly dire picture of what I think will be catastrophic changes in the context of unmitigated climate warming,” said Matthew Long, one of the study’s authors and an oceanographer at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. “Along the path to those very catastrophic events, we may cross thresholds that we don’t know about. And so, I think it’s important for people to reflect on the impact we’re having on the world’s ocean and consider that in the context of action to mitigate climate warming.”

    A researcher who was not involved in the study but reviewed it for The Washington Post, oceanographer Lynne Talley of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said she found the scenario plausible if warming is strong enough.

    “Maybe they’ve got an extreme answer here, but all the pieces are what you’d expect to happen in a more moderate forcing,” Talley said.

    An accompanying essay in Science, by ocean experts Charlotte Laufkotter and Nicolas Gruber of the University of Bern and ETH Zurich, respectively, in Switzerland, added that “the mere possibility of a future Southern Ocean nutrient-trapping scenario is highly concerning, warranting dedicated efforts to further our understanding of the unique role of the Southern Ocean in the global climate system.”

    Fortunately, the study assumes as its premise a level of global warming that we in the present have ample opportunity to prevent.

    If you think that the Paris climate agreement will work, holding the warming of the planet to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and bringing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations back down before they get much past 450 parts per million, then you can safely assume that such things will not occur.

    On the other hand, if you don’t think the world can manage economic and population growth in the coming decades without a continual or even growing reliance on fossil fuels, this extreme scenario may be hard to get out of your mind.

    Moore also said that he thinks the scenario presented in the study could at least begin to kick in at a lower temperature than the extreme ones in the paper. He said he’ll start to worry at a global temperature rise around 2.5 degrees Celsius (4.5 degrees Fahrenheit), when a lot of floating Antarctic sea ice could start to go.

    “We don’t know exactly where that tipping point is,” Moore said. The study thus reinforces the importance of the Paris climate goals.

    In the end, Long said, there is a value in describing what the worst-case scenario actually is — even if it is never actually realized.

    “Human-driven climate warming is driving changes in the ocean that are epic in the context of Earth history,” he said. “They’re commensurate with some of the biggest, most fundamental reorganizations of the life support system of the planet. The scenario is unlikely, yet action remains stalled.”

     
    March 9, 2018
     

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  • The Arctic is sending us a powerful message about climate change. It’s time for us to listen...

    The Beast brought cold air from Siberia to cities unfamiliar with such harsh winter conditions, such as Rome. Image: REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

     

    Arctic scientists aren’t usually afraid of a little cold. Windy conditions don’t usually get us howling. The beasts we pay attention to are usually polar bears. But last week’s “Beast from the East” triggered a few anxious conversations...

    Social media memes aside, our problem isn’t this one extreme weather event per se. Our key fear is that the Beast isn’t really from the East – its birthplace was farther north.

    Compelling scientific evidence suggests that the Beast actually comes from the high Arctic, and it’s not the only weather monster to emerge from that region.

    As some media reports have identified, alongside the freezing conditions in Europe, we’re simultaneously seeing exceptional warming happening over the Arctic. While the Beast screams and howls outside our windows in Europe, the Arctic is 20 degrees Celsius (36 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than it should be right now north of 80 degrees North.

    Arctic near-surface air temperatures north of 80N. Image: Zack Labe, UC Irvine

    The Arctic has had warm spells before. So what’s the big deal? The big deal is that scientists have been monitoring the Arctic for decades and have conclusively shown a long-term, significant warming trend. In fact, it’s warming more than twice as fast as the rest of the globe. This warming is accompanied by other major Arctic-wide changes in the ocean, atmosphere and land.

    The most dramatic changes, though, are with Arctic sea ice – the ice that floats on top of the Arctic Ocean. The summer sea ice extent, for instance, is well-known to be in rapid decline: the 11 lowest extents have all occurred in the past 11 years. Winter sea ice, too, is now following the same track, with this year’s winter ice extent at its lowest value ever, beating the previous record that happened only last winter.

    Image: National Snow and Ice Data Center

    In 2017, the Arctic winter ice set the lowest level on record, but we’ve broken that record again. This is not the gold medal we want to win.

    This is all bad news for the Arctic ecosystem and the people that live there. But the really bad news is that scientists have recently linked rapid Arctic warming to extreme weather farther south. Be it frigid cold spells, prolonged floods, persistent warmth, or long dry spells, it’s the persistence of weather patterns that is the connection, according to research. When weather conditions stick around a long time, extreme events can happen, hammering away at the world as we know it. That cold Beast from the East may be lurking for longer because the Arctic is so darn warm.

    Right now there’s a so-called 'blocking high' parked over Greenland that’s causing the jet stream to shoot northward towards the North Pole east of Greenland, with a hair-pin southward turn over Europe. It’s bringing the heat into the Arctic and the cold into Europe. Scientists know this because we measure it in detail every few hours. See for yourself!

     Jet stream on 25 Feb 2018. Yellow arrow shows winds flowing from southern North Atlantic to the North Pole then down into central Europe.

    Jet stream on 25 Feb 2018. Yellow arrow shows winds flowing from southern North Atlantic to the North Pole then down into central Europe.

    To understand the real impact of the Beast (and its future brethren), we need to understand the bigger picture: the influences of the Arctic on our weather and its impacts on societies everywhere. The Beast started out as too much warmth in the Arctic, which displaced the cold air into Siberia, which then oozed eastward into cities unfamiliar with such harsh winter conditions: Rome, London, Zagreb.

    It’s critical that world leaders understand this global process that starts with excessive greenhouse gases and causes Arctic sea ice to melt. Diminished summer sea ice is connected to winter weather through complex processes that create “memory” in the system. And we’re seeing an expression of that connection now. Scientists expect further Arctic warming will make all sorts of weather conditions in many geographic locations stick around longer – be it hot, cold, wet or dry – any of which can become extreme. We are concerned that things are only going to get worse because we are still dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

    The real nightmare begins if those quirks, or anomalies, in the Arctic are happening more often, and it looks like they are. Persistent cold spells, particularly in central and eastern Asia, have become more frequent. From mid December 2017 through to mid January 2018, western North America experienced record-breaking high temperatures, drought, and low snow-pack, while the east was cold and snowy. A similar pattern prevailed in Eurasia.

    Global risk experts agree. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report, extreme weather is the number one risk in terms of likelihood, and the number two in terms of impact. The Beast is to be expected, and we have reason to fear.

    Top 5 global risks in terms of likelihood. Image: World Economic Forum Global Risk Report

    Is it fair to say that the Arctic is a barometer of global risk? We think so because it all comes down to physics – a warmer Arctic means thinner sea ice, an earlier melt, a later freeze-up, and a greater likelihood of extreme weather events throughout the Northern hemisphere. And that brings more trouble down the road.

    We’ve set up the Arctic Basecamp at Davos for two years running, to raise awareness of the drastic change underway in the Arctic and the risks that it poses to all of us. The basecamp is a creative and immersive environment that gives attendees the opportunity to learn about both the damage being done to the polar regions, and the technology solutions that are reducing carbon emissions.

    As scientists, we need to bring the facts, the hardcore evidence, into discussions of global risks. And then global climate leaders like Christiana Figueres (former executive secretary of the the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and leaders from business, politics and civil society can bring the solutions. The Arctic Basecamp draws on research from Mission2020, a global campaign to accelerate action on climate change, enabling the world to reach a turning point on greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and creating the conditions in which all of the sustainable development goals can be achieved.

    If we were on the main stage this week, we would say very simply: urgency, urgency, urgency. The Beast reminds us that extreme weather brings unpredictability and risks.

    We’re only three months into 2018. Yet we’ve already seen a parched California, a frigid eastern US, two “storms of the century” in New England, and a record-breaking heatwave in Florida. On the other side of the world, ski races at the Olympics had to be postponed because it was so cold and windy. Then comes the Beast from the East. The increasing frequency of extreme weather events is entirely consistent with scientific expectations. And this is costing us all a lot of money, and more importantly, lives.

    In the US, 2017 was the most expensive year ever for extreme weather events, racking up costs of over $300 billion in destruction and disruption. Not all of it can be tied to the Arctic, of course, but increasingly extreme weather in the northern hemisphere is.

    How bad could it get? We don’t really know. We see these kinds of bizarre conditions happening more often. But predictability of when and where they will happen is still not very good. It’s one thing knowing there will be greater frequency of extreme weather, it’s another to predict the when, where, and how bad.

    What’s our message to world leaders? The disease that’s causing all these symptoms is our addiction to fossil fuels. And to slow down the disease’s progression, there’s really only one treatment: to cut our carbon emissions any way we can do it. We need to bend the emissions curve by 2020, or we may face a bigger Beast.

    Sign up for the Global Warming Blog for free by clicking here. In your email you will receive critical news, research and the warning signs for the next global warming disaster.

    Click here to learn how global warming has become irreversible and what you can do to protect your family and assets.

    Click here to learn about the most disruptive new book on global warming facts and research. Climageddon, The Global warming Emergency and How to Survive it.

    To share this blog post: Go to the original shorter version of this post. Look to lower right for the large green Share button.

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  • Explainer: The polar vortex, climate change and the ‘Beast from the East’...

    COLD SNAP: Dave Throup tweeted this picture of the Beast from the East, predicted to bring cold weather to the county next week. Picture: @DaveThroupEA

     

    This is a re-post from Carbon Brief by Robert McSweeney

    While much of Europe is shivering in subzero temperatures, the Arctic and eastern US have basked in unseasonably warm conditions in recent weeks...

    Arctic temperatures during February hit record highs, including nine separate days where temperatures were above zero. This is more than 30C warmer than expected for an Arctic winter.

    Numerous news reports have pointed the finger at the “polar vortex” for this unusual combination of weather extremes. Some have suggested that climate change is making these events more likely, driven by declining Arctic sea ice.

    So what is the polar vortex? How does it affect mid-latitude weather? And what role – if any – is climate change playing?

    ‘Beast from the East’

    Many of the news headlines this week have been dominated by two sides of the same story. On one hand, the “Beast from the East” has swept across Europe, bringing freezing conditions and blizzards, leaving transport systems at a standstill in many countries.

    Selection of 'Beast from the east' headline coverage. Credit: Tom Prater, Carbon Brief

    Selection of ‘Beast from the east’ headline coverage. Credit: Tom Prater, Carbon Brief

    Temperatures across Germany tumbled to below -10C; homeless people in Brussels were detained overnight if they refused shelter; and roofs of dozens of houses collapsed under the weight of snow in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Snow even made a rare appearance in Rome.

    On the other hand, a “warm air intrusion” has brought extraordinarily mild conditions to the Arctic.

    Despite being in perpetual winter darkness, Arctic temperatures have soared in recent weeks. Siberia have been as much as 35C above average this month, reported the Guardian, while the northernmost tip of Greenland has already experienced 61 hours above freezing in 2018 – “more than three times as many hours as in any previous year”.

    These unusual weather extremes are two sides of the same coin. The culprit is a circulation pattern up in the stratosphere called the polar vortex, which has – temporarily – split into two, allowing warm air into the Arctic and pushing a blast of cold air over Europe.

    But such warm Arctic conditions have concerned scientists. Cape Morris Jesup, Greenland’s most northerly point, “has been consistently and extraordinarily warm for the last week or so”, says Dr Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist at the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI). She tells Carbon Brief:

    “The DMI weather station recorded 10 consecutive days where the temperature was at least 0C or warmer for some or all of the day. This is the 3rd time in the record it has happened – the others were 2011 and 2017 – but the persistence of this weather event, as well as the magnitude of the warming is what has made it so unusual.”

    The warming has also been boosted by foehn-effect winds, which have pushed ice away from the coast of Greenland and created open water, Mottram adds.

    The warm Arctic conditions have seen sea ice melt when it is supposed to be growing through the winter. Arctic sea ice in January hit a new record low for the month, while InsideClimate News reported last week that “in just eight days in mid-February, nearly a third of the sea ice covering the Bering Sea off Alaska’s west coast disappeared”.

    Newspaper reports have speculated on the role that human-caused climate change could be playing – and whether the conditions are a sign of things to come. Wednesday’s Guardian, for example, led its frontpage with the headline, “Arctic heatwave triggers climate meltdown fears”.

    But the potential link between the climate change, the polar vortex and mid-latitude weather is a complicated, uncertain and – at times – contentious one.

    Front page from The Guardian, 28 February 2018

    Front page from The Guardian, 28 February 2018

    What is the polar vortex?

    The term “polar vortex” is “perhaps an unfortunate use of words”, says Dr James Screen, assistant professor in climate science at the University of Exeter. He tells Carbon Brief:

    “Most atmospheric scientists would say, I think, that the polar vortex is a specific feature of the wintertime stratospheric circulation (more fully, the stratospheric polar vortex). In recent times, the terminology has increasingly been used to describe the tropospheric circulation.”

    That needs a bit of unpacking. The first thing to note is that the polar vortex is in the stratosphere, around 8km above the Earth’s surface at the poles.

    The stratospheric polar vortex is a low-pressure weather system that sits over the Arctic (there is an equivalent one over the Antarctic). Its main feature is the strong west-to-east winds which encircle the north pole. These winds are known as the “polar night jet” because they only appear during the dark Arctic winter.

    The polar night jet forms a boundary between the very cold Arctic air and the warmer air over the mid-latitudes.

    Illustration of the stratospheric (blue) and tropospheric (red) polar vortices. Source: Waugh et al. (2017). © American Meteorological Society. Used with permission.

    Illustration of the stratospheric (blue) and tropospheric (red) polar vortices. Source: Waugh et al. (2017). © American Meteorological Society. Used with permission.

    As Screen pointed out earlier, the stratospheric polar vortex is often confused with a second vortex – this time in the troposphere.

    The tropospheric polar vortex is a year-round feature of mid-latitude weather, driven by the temperature difference between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes. Its boundary winds are more commonly known as the jet stream. As seen in the illustration above, it is much larger than its namesake in the stratosphere.

    The position and strength of the jet stream have a big impact on mid-latitude weather. When the jet stream is strong, its fast-flowing winds provides a barrier between the cold air over the Arctic and the milder air further south. When it weakens, the jet stream slows and can develop kinks. This allows the cold Arctic air to spill out into the mid-latitudes and for warmer air to spill in – as has been the case recently.

    The science behind the polar vortex. Credit: NOAA

    The science behind the polar vortex. Credit: NOAA

    The strength and position of the jet stream can be gauged by a metric called the Arctic Oscillation (AO). When the AO is positive, the jet stream is strong. When it’s negative, the jet stream is weak.

    The similar names and characteristics of the two polar vortices can cause confusion, says Screen:

    “Typically, ‘polar vortex’ was reserved for the stratospheric, but now it seems ‘polar vortex’ is being used to essentially describe the jet stream”.

    The distinction is important when it comes to talking about what has been happening to the weather this week and the potential impacts of climate change (more on that later).

    Sudden stratospheric warming

    The trigger for this week’s unusual weather started with a “sudden stratospheric warming” event.

    Sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) occurs when something knocks the stratospheric polar vortex out of kilter. This can be caused by large weather patterns in the troposphere.

    The resulting wobbles in the polar night jet can cause the circulation to slow down, reverse in direction and even split into two separate vortices. This allows air to collapse in over the Arctic, compressing the atmosphere and causing temperatures to rise dramatically in the stratosphere – by as much as 50C in just a couple of days.

    When this happens, the knock-on impacts for the troposphere can mean the usual westerly winds that swirl around the mid-latitudes also reverse and become easterlies. This might take a few days or weeks to materialise.About two weeks ago, the stratospheric polar vortex weakened and then split into two. You can see this happen in the clip below. The fast-flowing winds shown by the purple lines wrench from neat single circle into two vortices swirling side-by-side.

    What is being seen now is consequence of the split, explains Mottram:

    “This has allowed warmer air to move up into the high Arctic Ocean and, at the same time, the remnants of the high pressure are now lodged over Scandinavia, bringing cold air to northern Europe and the Labrador Sea – so southwest Greenland is actually very, very cold and [Greenland’s capital city] Nuuk will probably have a below-average temperature this month.”

    This is a classic weather pattern that occurs throughout the observed record, says Mottram. However, this time around, the pattern has been deeper and longer than normal, prompting the question of whether climate change is playing a part – particularly as research has shown an increasing frequency and duration of Arctic “winter warming events”, where daily temperatures peak above -10C.

    Mottram says scientists do not yet have enough data about these events to say for sure whether these conditions are related to climate change, or that they will occur more frequently. However, such a warm Arctic could have had a helping hand, Mottram adds:

    “It’s probably safe to say, though, that the warming associated with this event has been boosted by climate change to an extent. We see these warming spikes all the way through the record, but the baseline is shifting upwards. The atmosphere is warmer and so is the ocean.”

    However, as well as background warming, some researchers argue that the rapid decline in Arctic sea ice is making extreme mid-latitude weather more likely.

    Arctic amplification

    Temperatures in the Arctic are increasing around three times as fast as the global average – a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification.

    One of the main reasons is the loss of sea ice in the region. As Arctic sea ice melts, energy from the sun that would have been reflected away is instead absorbed by the ocean.

    Monthly January Arctic sea ice extent for 1979 to 2018, showing a decline of 3.3% per decade. Note: the y-axis does not start at zero. Credit: NSIDC

    Monthly January Arctic sea ice extent for 1979 to 2018, showing a decline of 3.3% per decade. Note: the y-axis does not start at zero. Credit: NSIDC

    The links between Arctic amplification and mid-latitude weather has become a prominent topic of climate research. Just last month, the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences published a special issue on the subject.

    Scientists have put forward various mechanisms for how the two could be connected. For example, as the Arctic warms rapidly, the temperature difference between the Arctic and mid-latitudes declines. This could be weakening the jet stream, causing it to meander more and allow cold air to be pulled down to the mid-latitudes.

    At the same time, some climate model projections suggest that while declining sea ice could amplify year-to-year variability in mid-latitude weather in the near-term, total variability will ultimately decrease under high emissions scenarios with major loss of summer sea ice.

    The weakening of the stratospheric polar vortex is a possible route for Arctic amplification to influence mid-latitude weather, Screen explains:

    “It has been argued that Arctic sea ice loss has weakened the polar stratospheric vortex and that this might make the negative AO [a weakened jet stream] and severe winters more likely.”

    However, this theory is still “contentious”, he adds.

    Roma, Italy. 26th Feb, 2018. People walk by the ancient Colosseum during a snowfall in Rome. Credit: CrowdSpark/Alamy Live News. M5X5B2

    Roma, Italy. 26th Feb, 2018. People walk by the ancient Colosseum during a snowfall in Rome. Credit: CrowdSpark/Alamy Live News.

    Other scientists are more certain. Prof Jennifer Francis, a research professor in the department of marine and coastal sciences at Rutgers University, tells Carbon Brief “there’s definitely a connection”:

    “At least a dozen studies now have made the link between sea ice loss – especially in the Barents and Kara seas – to the jet stream into the stratospheric polar vortex and back to mid-latitude weather”.

    The process starts with sea ice loss allowing Arctic waters to absorb more heat from the sun during summer, explains Francis. This warmth slows ice formation in the Barents and Kara seas in early winter.

    There is usually a bulge in the jet stream over this region, says Francis. The warming creates an area of high pressure just to the east of the bulge, along with stronger cold winds from the Arctic going into central and eastern Asia, she explains:

    “This effectively creates a larger north-south wave in the jet stream, which under the right conditions, transfers wave energy upward into the stratosphere. When large pulses of wave energy go into the stratospheric polar vortex, the vortex can be disrupted from its usual circular shape centered over the pole.”

    This can, therefore, be the trigger for a sudden stratospheric warming event and, in turn, unusual weather in the mid-latitudes.

    One of the studies that has made this link was published last month in the Bulletin of the American Meteorology Society (BAMS). Led by PhD researcher Marlene Kretschmerat the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the study identifies seven different “states” that the stratospheric polar vortex displayed during winter (January-February) over 1979-2015.

    Of these states, the frequency of a “weak distorted” vortex has increased from around three days per winter during 1979-96 to seven days during 1998-2015, the paper finds, while days of a “strong” vortex have declined from “from approximately 12 days per season to just six days”.

    A weak vortex is usually “accompanied by subsequent cold extremes in midlatitude Eurasia”, the study notes.

    In an earlier journal paper, Marlene Kretschmer’s research also identified sea ice cover in the Barents and Kara seas ice as “important external drivers” of mid-latitude weather patterns in winter.

    But despite the flurry of work in this area, the “research in understanding the stratospheric pathway from Arctic Amplification and sea ice is still very young”, notes Zack Labe, a PhD candidate in climate science at the University of California at Irvine.

    Indeed, there is “still significant research ongoing in understanding the dynamical relationships between stratosphere-troposphere interactions”, Labe tells Carbon Brief.

    As such, for the time being, there is “not a clear consensus on how sea ice and Arctic amplification may affect the polar vortex”, he concludes.

    Posted on 7 March 2018 by Guest Author

    source: https://skepticalscience.com/

    original story HERE

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  • Fisheries output to plunge unless global warming reeled in...

    FILE PHOTO: A Man stands on his fishing boat in the harbour of Ajaccio on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier/File Photo

     

    Global fisheries output will slump by 20 percent by 2300 and by 60 percent in the worst-hit North Atlantic region if governments fail to slow long-term global warming, a U.S. team of scientists said on Thursday...

    Most studies of climate risks extend to 2100 and overlook extra “catastrophic effects” such as the projected slump in ocean life that would only emerge in coming centuries, they said.

    Unchecked long-term warming would thaw sea ice around Antarctica and disrupt ocean currents, winds and the growth of tiny plankton, the report found. Worldwide, ever more nutrients would sink to the ocean depths, away from fish near the surface.

    “Marine ecosystems worldwide will be increasingly starved for nutrients,” lead author J. Keith Moore of the University of California, Irvine, told Reuters of the findings published in the journal Science.

    The shifts would cut the productivity of fisheries in 2300 by an average 20 percent and by 60 percent in the North Atlantic, where a normal upwelling of nutrients from deeper waters would be most reduced, according to computer simulations.

    Exceptions would be the Southern Ocean near Antarctica and in the Arctic Ocean around the North Pole where higher temperatures and shrinking ice, allowing more sunlight to reach the water, would boost the growth of tiny plants.

    FILE PHOTO: Fish lie in a fish tank on the Boulogne sur Mer based trawler "La Fregate" off the coast of northern France, August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo

    Moore said such long-term projections involve many uncertainties but add to existing concerns about more heat waves, downpours and droughts that mainstream scientists link to a build-up of man-made greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

    “We need to be thinking 1,000 years into the future, not 100 years,” he wrote in an email. “Global warming isn’t a problem our children can solve - it will be too late.”

    Global fisheries output will slump by 20 percent by 2300 and by 60 percent in the worst-hit North Atlantic region if governments fail to slow long-term global warming, a US team of scientists said on Thursday (08/03).(Reuters Photo/Pascal Rossignol)

    The study assumed greenhouse gases will continue to build up in the atmosphere, boosting average surface temperatures by 9.6 degrees Celsius (17 Fahrenheit) by 2300.

    That would be far above goals set in 2015 by almost 200 nations under the Paris climate agreement to limit warming to “well below” 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial times by phasing out fossil fuels this century.

    The report did not factor in other risks, such as an acidification of the oceans caused by the build-up of carbon dioxide that could undermine the ability of creatures such as lobsters and oysters to build protective shells.

    Charlotte Laufkoetter, a scientist at the University of Bern who was not involved in the study, praised the findings as based on the best existing science, despite the difficulty of projecting so far into the future.

    “There are of course several uncertainties - circulation in the Southern Ocean is very difficult to model,” she told Reuters.

    March 8, 2018 / 1:06 PM

    Summary of the study: here; Reporting by Alister Doyle; Editing by Mark Potter

     
     
    original story HERE

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  • 2018 SKS WEEKLY CLIMATE CHANGE & GLOBAL WARMING NEWS ROUNDUP #10...

     

    Severe flooding in Carlisle, north-west England, December 2015. Photograph: Andrew Yates/Reuters

     

    A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook page during the past week. 

    Editor's Pick:

    Climate change threatens ability of insurers to manage risk.

    Extreme weather is driving up uninsured losses and insurers must use investments to fund global warming resilience, says study...

    The ability of the global insurance industry to manage society’s risks is being threatened by climate change, according to a new report.

    The report finds that more frequent extreme weather events are driving up uninsured losses and making some assets uninsurable.

    The analysis, by a coalition of the world’s biggest insurers, concluded that the “protection gap” – the difference between the costs of natural disasters and the amount insured – has quadrupled to $100bn (£79bn) a year since the 1980s.

    Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, warns in the new report that: “Over time, the adverse effects of climate change could threaten economic resilience and financial stability [and] insurers are currently at the forefront.”

    The ClimateWise coalition of 29 insurers, including Allianz, Aon, Aviva, Lloyd’s, Prudential, Swiss Re and Zurich, conclude that the industry must use more of its $30tn of investments to help fund increased resilience of society to floods, storms and heatwaves. 

    Climate change threatens ability of insurers to manage risk by Damian Carrington, Climate, Guardian, Mar 7, 2018 


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    Posted on 10 March 2018 by John Hartz

    source: https://skepticalscience.com/

    original story HERE

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  • 9 questions about climate change you were too embarrassed to ask...

    (NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring)

     

    Basic answers to basic questions about global warming and the future climate...

    There is a decisive and growing fissure in America right now as climate change science and federal climate change policy move steadily in opposite directions.

    In his first year in office, President Donald Trump has shirked all responsibility on the issue, rejecting or beginning to dismantle President Obama’s signature climate policies: the Paris climate agreement and the Clean Power Plan, the main domestic policy for limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

    Trump has appointed to key positions more than 20 climate change skeptics, including Scott Pruitt and Rick Perry to lead the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. And officials at these and other science agencies have been removing the words “climate change” from government websites and press releases.

    Meanwhile, the science of climate change is growing ever more robust as researchers zero in on how the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are radically altering Earth’s systems and shaping the future.

    Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations now top 408 parts per million, a threshold the planet hasn’t seen in millions of years. This year, Arctic sea ice is at the lowest extent on record and has been declining faster than it has in 1,500 years.

    The big questions now are how these changes will reverberate throughout the rest of the world, and what we should do about them. The answers bridge decades of research across geology, economics, and social science, which have been confounded by uncertainty and obscured by jargon. That’s why it can be a bit daunting to join the discussion for the first time, or to revisit the conversation after a hiatus.

    To help, we’ve provided some answers to some fundamentals about climate change you may have been afraid to ask.

    1) What is global warming?

    In short: The world is getting hotter, and humans are responsible.

    Yes, the planet’s temperature has changed before, but it’s the rise in average temperature of the Earth's climate system since the late 19th century, the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, that’s important here. Temperatures over land and ocean have gone up 0.8° to 1° Celsius (1.4° to 1.8° Fahrenheit), on average, in that span:

    NASA Earth Observatory

    Many people use the term “climate change” to describe this rise in temperatures and the associated effects on the Earth's climate. (The shift from the term “global warming” to “climate change” was also part of a deliberate messaging effort by a Republican pollster to undermine support for environmental regulations.)

    Like detectives solving a murder, climate scientists have found humanity’s fingerprints all over the planet’s warming, with the bulk of the evidence pointing to the extra greenhouse gases humans have put into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide trap heat at the Earth’s surface, preventing that heat from escaping back out into space too quickly. So when we burn coal or oil for energy or cut down forests, thereby adding even more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, the planet warms up.

    Global warming also refers to what scientists think will happen in the future if humans keep adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

    Though there is a constant stream of new studies on climate change, the most robust aggregation of the science remains the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fifth assessment report from 2013. The IPCC is convened by the United Nations, and the report draws on more than 800 expert authors. It projects that temperatures could rise at least 2°C (3.6°F) by the end of the century under many plausible scenarios — and possibly 4°C or more. A more recent study by scientists in the United Kingdom found a narrower range of expected temperatures if atmospheric carbon dioxide doubled, rising between 2.2°C and 3.4°C.

    Many experts consider 2°C of warming to be unacceptably high, increasing the risk of deadly heat waves, droughts, flooding, and extinctions. Rising temperatures will drive up global sea levels as the world’s glaciers and ice sheets melt. Further global warming could affect everything from our ability to grow food to the spread of disease.

    Avoiding drastic global warming would likely require a complete overhaul of our energy system. Fossil fuels currently provide just over 80 percent of the world’s energy. To zero out emissions this century, we’d have to replace most of that with low-carbon sources like wind, solar, nuclear, geothermal, or carbon capture.

    Beyond that, we may have to electrify everything that uses energy and start pulling greenhouse gases straight from the air.

    That’s a staggering task, and there are huge technological and political hurdles standing in the way. As such, the world's nations have been slow to act on global warming — many of the existing targets for curbing greenhouse gas emissions are too weak, yet many countries are falling short of even these modest goals.

    2) How do we know global warming is real?

    The simplest way is through temperature measurements. Agencies in the United States, Europe, and Japan have independently analyzed historical temperature data and reached the same conclusion: The Earth’s average surface temperature has risen roughly 0.8° Celsius (1.4° Fahrenheit) since the early 20th century.

    But that’s not the only clue. Scientists have also noted that glaciers and ice sheets around the world are melting. Satellite observations since the 1970s have shown warming in the lower atmosphere. There’s more heat in the ocean, causing water to expand and sea levels to rise. Plants are flowering earlier in many parts of the world. There’s more humidity in the atmosphere. Here’s a summary from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

    NOAA

    These are all signs that the Earth really is getting warmer — and that it’s not just a glitch in the thermometers. That explains why climate scientists say things like, “Warming in the climate system is unequivocal.” They’re really confident about this one.

    3) How do we know humans are causing global warming?

    Climate scientists say they are more than 95 percent certain that human influence has been the dominant cause of global warming since 1950. They’re about as sure of this as they are that cigarette smoke causes cancer.

    Why are they so confident? In part because they have a good grasp on how greenhouse gases can warm the planet, in part because the theory fits the available evidence, and in part because alternate theories have been ruled out. Let's break it down in six steps:

    1) Scientists have long known that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere — such as carbon dioxide, methane, or water vapor — absorb certain frequencies of infrared radiation and scatter them back toward the Earth. These gases essentially prevent heat from escaping too quickly back into space, trapping that radiation at the surface and keeping the planet warm.

    2) Climate scientists also know that concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have grown significantly since the Industrial Revolution. Carbon dioxide has risen 45 percent. Methane has risen more than 200 percent. Through some relatively straightforward chemistry and physics, scientists can trace these increases to human activities like burning oil, gas, and coal.

    3) So it stands to reason that more greenhouse gases would lead to more heat. And indeed, satellite measurements have shown that less infrared radiation is escaping out into space over time and instead returning to the Earth’s surface. That’s strong evidence that the greenhouse effect is increasing.

     

    4) There are other human fingerprints that suggest increased greenhouse gases are warming the planet. For instance, back in the 1960s, simple climate models predicted that global warming caused by more carbon dioxide would lead to cooling in the upper atmosphere (because the heat is getting trapped at the surface). Later satellite measurements confirmed exactly that. Here are a few other similar predictions that have also been confirmed.

    Skeptical Science

    5) Meanwhile, climate scientists have ruled out other explanations for the rise in average temperatures over the past century. To take one example: Solar activity can shift from year to year, affecting the Earth's climate. But satellite data shows that total solar irradiance has declined slightly in the past 35 years, even as the Earth has warmed.

    6) More recent calculations have shown that it’s impossible to explain the temperature rise we’ve seen in the past century without taking the increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into account. Natural causes, like the sun or volcanoes, have an influence, but they’re not sufficient by themselves.

    Ultimately, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that most of the warming since 1951 has been due to human activities. The Earth’s climate can certainly fluctuate from year to year due to natural forces (including oscillations in the Pacific Ocean, such as El Niño). But greenhouse gases are driving the larger upward trend in temperatures.

    And as the Climate Science Special Report, released by 13 US federal agencies in November 2017, put it, “For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”

    More: This chart breaks down all the different factors affecting the Earth’s average temperature. And there’s much more detail in the IPCC’s report, particularly this section and this one.

    4) How has global warming affected the world so far?

    Here’s a list of ongoing changes that climate scientists have concluded are likely linked to global warming, as detailed by the IPCC here and here.

    Higher temperatures: Every continent has warmed substantially since the 1950s. There are more hot days and fewer cold days, on average, and the hot days are hotter.

    Heavier storms and floods: The world’s atmosphere can hold more moisture as it warms. As a result, the overall number of heavier storms has increased since the mid-20th century, particularly in North America and Europe (though there’s plenty of regional variation). Scientists reported in December that at least 18 percent of Hurricane Harvey’s record-setting rainfall over Houston in August was due to climate change.

    Heat waves: Heat waves have become longer and more frequent around the world over the past 50 years, particularly in Europe, Asia, and Australia.

    Shrinking sea ice: The extent of sea ice in the Arctic, always at its maximum in winter, has shrunk since 1979, by 3.3 percent per decade. Summer sea ice has dwindled even more rapidly, by 13.2 percent per decade. Antarctica has seen recent years with record growth in sea ice, but it’s a very different environment than the Arctic, and the losses in the north far exceed any gains at the South Pole, so total global sea ice is on the decline:

     

    Global, Arctic and Antarctic Sea Ice Area Spiral February 2018

    Shrinking glaciers and ice sheets: Glaciers around the world have, on average, been losing ice since the 1970s. In some areas, that is reducing the amount of available freshwater. The ice sheet on Greenland, which would raise global sea levels by 25 feet if it all melted, is declining, with some sections experiencing a sudden surge in the melt rate. The Antarctic ice sheet is also getting smaller, but at a much slower rate.

    Sea level rise: Global sea levels rose 9.8 inches (25 centimeters) in the 19th and 20th centuries, after 2,000 years of relatively little change, and the pace is speeding up. Sea level rise is caused by both the thermal expansion of the oceans — as water warms up, it expands — and the melting of glaciers and ice sheets (but not sea ice).

    Food supply: A hotter climate can be both good for crops (it lengthens the growing season, and more carbon dioxide can increase photosynthesis) and bad for crops (excess heat can damage plants). The IPCC found that global warming was currently benefiting crops in some high-latitude areas but that negative effects are becoming increasingly common worldwide. In areas like California, crop yields are estimated to decline 40 percent by 2050.

    Shifting species: Many land and marine species have had to shift their geographic ranges in response to warmer temperatures. So far, several extinctions have been linked to global warming, such as certain frog species in Central America.

    Debated impacts

    Here are a few other ways the Earth’s climate has been changing — but scientists are still debating whether and how they’re linked to global warming:

    Droughts have become more frequent and more intense in some parts of the world — such as the American Southwest, Mediterranean Europe, and West Africa — though it’s hard to identify a clear global trend. In other parts of the world, such as the Midwestern United States and Northwestern Australia, droughts appear to have become less frequent. A recent study shows that, globally, the time between droughts is shrinking and more areas are affected by drought and taking longer to recover from them.

    Hurricanes have clearly become more intense in the North Atlantic Ocean since 1970, the IPCC says. But it’s less clear whether global warming is driving this. 2017 was an exceptionally bad year for Atlantic hurricanes in terms of strength and damage. And while scientists are still uncertain whether they were a fluke or part of a trend, they are warning we should treat it as a baseline year. There doesn’t yet seem to be any clear trajectory for tropical cyclones worldwide.

    5) What impacts will global warming have in the future?

    It depends on how much the planet actually heats up. The changes associated with 4° Celsius (or 7.2º Fahrenheit) of warming are expected to be more dramatic than the changes associated with 2°C of warming.

    Here’s a basic rundown of big impacts we can expect if global warming continues, via the IPCC (here and here).

    Hotter temperatures: If emissions keep rising unchecked, then global average surface temperatures will be at least 2ºC higher (3.6ºF) than preindustrial levels by 2100 — and possibly 3ºC or 4ºC or more.

    Higher sea level rise: The expert consensus is that global sea levels will rise somewhere between 0.2 and 2 meters by the end of the century if global warming continues unchecked (that’s between 0.6 and 6.6 feet). That’s a wide range, reflecting some of the uncertainties scientists have in how ice will melt. In specific regions like the Eastern United States, sea level rise could be even higher, and around the world, the rate of rise is accelerating.

    Heat waves: A hotter planet will mean more frequent and severe heat waves.

    Droughts and floods: Across the globe, wet seasons are expected to become wetter, and dry seasons drier. As the IPCC puts it, the world will see “more intense downpours, leading to more floods, yet longer dry periods between rain events, leading to more drought.”

    Hurricanes: It’s not yet clear what impact global warming will have on tropical cyclones. The IPCC said it was likely that tropical cyclones would get stronger as the oceans heat up, with faster winds and heavier rainfall. But the overall number of hurricanes in many regions was likely to “either decrease or remain essentially unchanged.”

    Heavier storm surges: Higher sea levels will increase the risk of storm surges and flooding when storms do hit.

    Agriculture: In many parts of the world, the mix of increased heat and drought is expected to make food production more difficult. The IPCC concluded that global warming of 1°C or more could start hurting crop yields for wheat, corn, and rice by the 2030s, especially in the tropics. (This wouldn’t be uniform, however; some crops may benefit from mild warming, such as winter wheat in the United States.)

     

    Extinctions: As the world warms, many plant and animal species will need to shift habitats at a rapid rate to maintain their current conditions. Some species will be able to keep up; others likely won’t. The Great Barrier Reef, for instance, may not be able to recover from major recent bleaching events linked to climate change. The National Research Council has estimated that a mass extinction event “could conceivably occur before the year 2100.”

    Long-term changes: Most of the projected changes above will occur in the 21st century. But temperatures will keep rising after that if greenhouse gas levels aren’t stabilized. That increases the risk of more drastic longer-term shifts. One example: If West Antarctica’s ice sheet started crumbling, that could push sea levels up significantly. The National Research Council in 2013 deemed many of these rapid climate surprises unlikely this century but a real possibility further into the future.

    6) What happens if the world heats up more drastically — say, 4°C?

    The risks of climate change would rise considerably if temperatures rose 4° Celsius (7.2° Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels — something that’s possible if greenhouse gas emissions keep rising at their current rate.

    The IPCC says 4°C of global warming could lead to “substantial species extinctions,” “large risks to global and regional food security,” and the risk of irreversibly destabilizing Greenland’s massive ice sheet.

    One huge concern is food production: A growing number of studies suggest it would become significantly more difficult for the world to grow food with 3°C or 4°C of global warming. Countries like Bangladesh, Egypt, Vietnam, and parts of Africa could see large tracts of farmland turn unusable due to rising seas. Scientists are also concerned about crops are crops getting less nutritious due to rising CO2.

    And humans could struggle to adapt to these conditions. Many people might think the impacts of 4°C of warming will simply be twice as bad as those of 2°C. But as a 2013 World Bank report argued, that’s not necessarily true. Impacts may interact with each other in unpredictable ways. Current agriculture models, for instance, don’t have a good sense of what will happen to crops if increased heat waves, droughts, new pests and diseases, and other changes all start to combine.

    “Given that uncertainty remains about the full nature and scale of impacts,” the World Bank report said, “there is also no certainty that adaptation to a 4°C world is possible.” Its conclusion was blunt: “The projected 4°C warming simply must not be allowed to occur.”

    7) What do climate models say about the warming that could actually happen in the coming decades?

    That depends on your faith in humanity.

    Climate models depend on not only complicated physics but the intricacies of human behavior over the entire planet.

    Generally, the more greenhouse gases humanity pumps into the atmosphere, the warmer it will get. But scientists aren’t certain how sensitive the global climate system is to increases in greenhouse gases. And just how much we might emit over the coming decades remains an open question, depending on advances in technology and international efforts to cut emissions.

    The IPCC groups these scenarios into four categories of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations known as Representative Concentration Pathways. They serve as standard benchmarks for evaluating climate models, but they also have some assumptions baked in.

    RCP 2.6, also called RCP 3PD, is the scenario with very low greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. It bets on declining oil use, a population of 9 billion by 2100, increasing energy efficiency, and emissions holding steady until 2020, at which point they’ll decline and even go negative by 2100. This is, to put it mildly, very optimistic.

    The next tier up is RCP 4.5, which still banks on ambitious reductions in emissions but anticipates an inflection point in the emissions rate around 2040. RCP 6 expects emissions to increase 75 percent above today’s levels before peaking and declining around 2060 as the world continues to rely heavily on fossil fuels.

    The highest tier, RCP 8.5, is the business-as-usual scenario, with no policy changes. It expects a global population of 12 billion and triple the rate of carbon dioxide emissions compared to today by 2100.

    Here’s how greenhouse gas emissions under each scenario stack up next to each other:

    Skeptical Science

    And here’s what that means for global average temperatures, assuming that a doubling of carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere leads to 3°C of warming:

    Skeptical Science

    As you can see, only RCP 3PD is the only trajectory that keeps the planet below 2°C of warming. Recall what it would take to keep emissions in line with this pathway and you’ll understand the enormity of the challenge of meeting this goal.

    8) How do we stop global warming?

    The world’s nations would need to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by a lot. And even that wouldn’t stop all global warming.

    For example, let’s say we wanted to limit global warming to below 2°C. To do that, the IPCC has calculated that annual greenhouse gas emissions would need to drop at least 40 to 70 percent by midcentury.

    Emissions would then have to keep falling until humans were hardly emitting any extra greenhouse gases by the end of the century. We’d also likely need to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

    Cutting emissions that sharply is a daunting task. Right now, the world gets 87 percent of its primary energy from fossil fuels: oil, gas, and coal. By contrast, just 13 percent of the world’s primary energy is “low carbon”: a little bit of wind and solar power, some nuclear power plants, a bunch of hydroelectric dams. That’s one reason global emissions keep rising each year.

    To stay below 2°C, that would all need to change radically. By 2050, the IPCC notes, the world would need to triple or even quadruple the share of clean energy it uses — and keep scaling it up thereafter. Second, we’d have to get dramatically more efficient at using energy in our homes, buildings, and cars. And stop cutting down forests. And reduce emissions from agriculture and from industrial processes like cement manufacturing.

    The IPCC also notes that this task becomes even more difficult the longer we put it off, because carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will keep piling up in the atmosphere in the meantime, and the cuts necessary to stay below the 2°C limit become more severe.

    9) What are we actually doing to fight climate change?

    A global problem requires global action, but with climate change, there is a yawning gap between ambition and action.

    The main international effort is the 2015 Paris climate accord, of which the United States is the only country in the world that wants out. The deal was hammered out over weeks of tense negotiations and weighs in at 31 pages. What it does is actually pretty simple.

    The backbone is the global target of keeping global average temperatures from rising 2°C (compared to temperatures before the Industrial Revolution) by the end of the century. Beyond 2 degrees, we risk dramatically higher seas, changes in weather patterns, food and water crises, and an overall more hostile world.

    Critics have argued that the 2-degree mark is arbitrary, or even too low, to make a difference. But it’s a starting point, a goal that, before Paris, the world was on track to wildly miss.

    (Javier Zarracina/Vox)

    Paris is voluntary

    To accomplish this 2-degree goal, the accord states that countries should strive to reach peak emissions “as soon as possible.” (Currently, we’re on track to hit peak emissions around 2030 or later, which will likely be too late.)

    But the agreement doesn’t detail exactly how these countries should do that. Instead, it provides a framework for getting momentum going on greenhouse gas reduction, with some oversight and accountability. For the US, the pledge involves 26 to 28 percent reductions by 2025. (Under Trump’s current policies, that goal is impossible.)

    There’s also no defined punishment for breaking it. The idea is to create a culture of accountability (and maybe some peer pressure) to get countries to step up their climate game.

    In 2020, delegates are supposed to reconvene and provide updates about their emission pledges and report on how they’re becoming more aggressive on accomplishing the 2-degree goal.

    However, many countries are already falling behind on their climate change commitments, and some, like Germany, are giving up on their near-term targets.

    Paris asks richer countries to help out poorer countries

    There’s a fundamental inequality when it comes to global emissions. Rich countries have plundered and burned huge amounts of fossil fuels and gotten rich from them. Poor countries seeking to grow their economies are now being admonished for using the same fuels. Many low-lying poor countries also will be among the first to bear the worst impacts of climate change.

    The main vehicle for rectifying this is the Green Climate Fund, via which richer countries, like the US, are supposed to send $100 billion a year in aid and financing by 2020 to the poorer countries. The United States’ share was $3 billion, but with President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris accord, this goal is unlikely to be met.

    The agreement matters because we absolutely need momentum on this issue

    The Paris agreement is largely symbolic, and it will live on even though Trump is aiming to pull the US out. But, as Jim Tankersley wrote for Vox, “the accord will be weakened, and, much more importantly, so will the fragile international coalition” around climate change.

    But the Paris accord isn’t the only international climate policy game in town

    There are regional international climate efforts like the European Union’s Emissions Trading System. However, the most effective global policy at keeping warming in check to date doesn’t have to do with climate change, at least on the surface.

    The 1987 Montreal Protocol, which was convened by countries to halt the destruction of the ozone layer, had a major side effect of averting warming. In fact, it’s been the single most effective effort humanity has undertaken to fight climate change. Since many of the substances that eat away at the ozone layer are potent heat-trappers, limiting emissions of gases like chlorofluorocarbons has an outsize effect.

    The Economist

    And the Trump administration doesn’t appear as hostile to Montreal as it does to Paris. The White House may send the 2016 Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to the Senate for ratification, giving the new regulations the force of law. If implemented, the amendment would avert 0.5°C of warming by 2100.

    By Brad Plumer, Brian Resnick, and Umair Irfan

    Mar 7, 2018, 8:28am EST

    Further reading:

    Avoiding catastrophic climate change isn’t impossible yet. Just incredibly hard.

    Reckoning with climate change will demand ugly tradeoffs from environmentalists — and everyone else

    Show this cartoon to anyone who doubts we need huge action on climate change

    It’s time to start talking about “negative” carbon dioxide emissions

    A history of the 2°C global warming target

    Scientists made a detailed “roadmap” for meeting the Paris climate goals. It’s eye-opening

    source: https://www.vox.com/

    original story HERE

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  • Why the world's wealthiest individuals and corporations are responsible for the escalating global warming emergency and saving us from extinction...

     Anne Ward Penguin

     

    In both moral and practical terms the world’s wealthy are responsible to fix our current global warming nightmare...

    When we talk about who is responsible for global warming, we need to think about it in two distinct ways—moral or ethical responsibility (climate justice as it is often called) and practical responsibility (someone who has responsibility and can do something about it).

    Moral and ethical responsibility is a relatively simple concept:

    The more you created or contributed to the problem, the greater your moral responsibility for fixing it...

    The moral or ethical responsibility for resolving global warming lies proportionately with those individuals, corporations, and nations that have created the fossil fuel burning global warming problem since the First Industrial Revolution in the 1880s. While this is morally true, in practical terms it presents a considerable challenge.

    We could spend many more decades we do not have trying to determine or litigate the proper proportion of moral and ethical global warming responsibility for every nation, corporation, and individual on earth. Next, we would have to try to enforce that moral and ethical responsibility on the nations, corporations, and individuals all over the planet. This alone could take many decades, if it could even be done.

    This presents another imposing dilemma. Because many of these individuals, corporations, and nations have varying and frequently conflicting cultural, religious, or other value criteria and definitions for responsibility, morality, ethics, and justice, finding some kind of agreed upon determination of the common and universal meaning of moral and ethical responsibility is all but impossible within the dwindling time window for meaningful control we need.

    In other words, as wonderful, fair, and reasonable as it sounds to simply enforce moral and ethical responsibility proportionately on all of the creators of global warming to achieve true climate justice, the practicality nightmare is that we could still be arguing about implementing such enforcement issues many decades from now long after we have tumbled past our current state of irreversible global warming into extinction.

    If we can't successfully take a moral and ethical responsibility approach to solve the global warming emergency in the time that is left, we need to find another approach. The Job One Plan proposes the practical responsibility approach.

    Practical responsibility in the context of global warming is defined by several factors:

    1. Who has enough influence and power to create the verifiable and enforceable global warming remedial laws or treaties in time to slow and lessen the 20 worst consequences of our current irreversible global warming and prevent extinction.

    2. Who has the most to gain or lose.

    3. Who has good reasons for also bearing at least some additional moral and ethical responsibility.

    4. What will take into practical account the unbearable reality that we do not have enough time left to bottom-up educate the masses about the incredibly complex and difficult issues of global warming as a complex adaptive climate system. We also do not have enough time left to slowly build political will person-by-person from the bottom up until the growing public will finally demands that its self-interested politicians create these critical new laws or treaties.

    So this then leads us to the 600-trillion-dollar question: Who has the greatest practical responsibility for resolving global warming? You and I as average individuals do have moral and ethical responsibility for global warming to the degree that we have contributed to it in our lifetimes, but we do not hold much effective practical responsibility for resolving it, as we have so little real influence in the necessary areas.

    Because the United Nations, the IPCC, and our national governments have failed so horribly over the last 30+ years, the 5 key entities that now bear the greatest practical responsibility for resolving the global warming emergency in order of priority are:

    1. the world's wealthiest nations
    2. the world's wealthiest corporations
    3. the world's wealthiest individuals
    4. the world's wealthiest celebrities
    5. the world’s intelligence agencies (as discussed in the Job one plan)

    To explain the reasons for this, we must first explain what this does not mean. We are not talking about the world's wealthiest nations, corporations, individuals, and celebrities individually setting up new companies and/or research projects to find new technological and non-technological solutions to global warming. That will never work in time without globally enforceable and verifiable warming reduction laws or new treaties and a global Fee and Dividend program already in place.

    This also does not mean that the world's wealthiest nations, corporations, individuals, and celebrities cannot privately invest in global warming remedial solutions; it just means we can't exclusively or primarily rely on their individual or private wealth to solve the global warming problem.That being said, there is successful experience the world's wealthiest nations and corporations can bring to the table to help other national governments plan and execute the largest energy generation transition project in human history.

    As far as the world's wealthiest celebrities are concerned, their importance in educating the masses about the seriousness of the emergency and the necessity of the changes we must all endure cannot be overestimated. The celebrities of the world command the attention needed to be successful.

    We also have to be diligent

    From many experiences over the last 30 years, we have learned that some of the world's wealthiest nations, corporations, and individuals greenwash their political and profit-making activities to make themselves look like good citizens while not actually doing anything. Their real motivation for the greenwashing remains to increase profits, often in some other area of their existing carbon-polluting activities. For more information on greenwashing, see this article by Tim McDonnell.

    Greenwashing allows wealthy nations, individuals, and corporations to look like good global citizens in public while continuing to do business and pollute as usual. In the Job One collective action steps we steer away from this fatal flaw that, unfortunately, too many previous big environmental groups have embarrassingly fallen prey to.

    Wealthy nations, individuals, and corporations should not be allowed to greenwash. Rather they need to be educated and inspired to use their influence and control to get the politicians of their respective nations to enact the necessary global warming remedial laws or treaties previously mentioned. If they try to greenwash with insincere and hypocritical actions, they need to be exposed.

    While not ignoring the greenwashing risk—in fact, being vigilant about it instead—it’s still true that the world's wealthiest corporations, individuals, and celebrities without a doubt have the necessary influence and control to get the attention and/or compliance of the world's political leaders to create and enforce the new laws or treaties that must be enacted if we are going to survive.

    The reason they should or will want to use that influence is because they are the ones who have the most to gain or lose. These wealth-endowed entities control 90 percent or more of the world's wealth and assets. They do in fact have the very most to gain or lose as escalating global warming continues, the consequences of irreversible global warming worsen and  extinction looms closer.

    As we move into more of the 20 worst consequences of irreversible global warming, millions and then hundreds of millions of their citizens or customers or fans (not to mention themselves) will begin to suffer and die. First weak and then stronger national economies will begin to crash. As national economies crash, so will governments.

    Normal business as we have known it will become impossible to conduct because the safe, stable, and consistent environment needed for any kind of reliable and continuous manufacturing, supply distribution, retail, or other business operations will be so unpredictable and so disrupted that maintaining a continually profitable business of any kind will be all but impossible.

    Irreversible global warming is a no-win game for everyone, no matter how much wealth you have. The wealthy corporations, individuals,, and celebrities who are already buying land and facilities in northern countries will eventually not be safe there. Mass migrations of desperate, aggressive, and armed climagees (climate refugees) and national armies will eventually overrun any and all border security measures, angrily take their fair share of what's left, and punish anyone who by either commission or omission had any significant part in letting this horrific global warming meltdown and catastrophe occur.

    Eventually even the private security companies of the ultra-wealthy corporations, individuals, and celebrities will eventually turn against their affluent bosses, realizing that they now live in a late-phase Climageddon Scenario world where only firepower and military-style personal training determine survival, final ownership, and safety. Worse yet, and worth repeating, the climagee survivors of the most painful and devastating catastrophe in human history will be so angry and traumatized they will seek a horrible vengeance on everyone and anyone they hold responsible for causing or contributing to the catastrophe, or for failing to act when they reasonably could have prevented the worst of it.

    In their unimaginable anger and pain, some of the remaining climagee survivors who desperately fight their way into the remaining temporarily safe zones, like some survivors of the Holocaust, will relentlessly hunt down anyone who they believe knew about the escalating global warming emergency and had the influence or resources to address it, but did not. Things will be even worse for wealthy corporations, individuals or celebrities who acted to protect only themselves, did nothing, or intentionally sought to profit from the escalating global warming catastrophes and chaos as they developed.

    When those individuals are identified by the enraged climagee survivors for their unconscionable commissions and omissions, it is highly likely that all their wealth will be removed from them as well as from their trusts, heirs, and businesses. They will be imprisoned for what will be defined later in the history of the global warming emergency as crimes against humanity and the future.

    It gets even worse for the world’s wealthy

    As if the proceeding was not enough to convince the world's wealthiest corporations, individuals and celebrities they need to do everything they can to slow and lessen global warming so they will survive, there is still more. The fate of those who move to the temporarily safe global warming zones near the 45th fifth parallel north or south will also have to to deal with four other devastating realities:

    1.Decommissioning hundreds of nuclear reactors in global warming unsafe zones between the 45th parallel north and south which will no longer be able to be kept secure or maintained by stable or functioning governments. If these nuclear reactors melt down or go critical, it will not matter where you are in the world. No location will be safe from fallout and radiation that will go on for centuries! (On a lesser note, the same holds true for all toxic chemicals and biological and chemical weapons stored within the global warming unsafe zones. Once those zones are generally abandoned, these commodities will slowly leak out and affect areas far beyond their original locations.)

    2.How to solve the critical food production issue above the 45th parallel north or below the 45th parallel south where the soil quality and seasonal sunlight will be grossly inadequate to grow enough food for the massive migrating populations using traditional or existing methods.

    3.If the northern countries do not allow enough individuals from the global warming safe zones to migrate, there will not be enough human genetic diversity to survive the waves of new diseases that will occur in the far north or far south because of unknown pathogens released from the melting permafrost (which humanity has never seen before) as well as from the existing pathogens that are always mutating.

    4.How to quickly move enough of the world’s key infrastructure for modern civilization to continue into the global warming safe zones above the 45th parallel north or below the 45th parallel south. All of this must be done within about two decades using the relative stability which many parts of the world will still have while global warming escalates.

     

    At some point, the world's wealthiest corporations individuals and celebrities will recognize their money and power won't save them from this monster. They will realize that we either cooperate and work together or die together.

    They will understand that irreversible global warming will last from centuries to thousands of years. They will understand that at this point, all we can do is slow and lessen it enough so that some of us will survive as long as we do not let carbon parts per million in the atmosphere cross 600 ppm.

    As of March 2018, we are at 408 ppm carbon. Once we cross the carbon 500 ppm level, ALL ice and ALL glaciers on Earth will go into complete meltdown.

    Crossing the carbon 500 ppm threshold has happened repeatedly in Earth's geological history. When this occurred, the sea level inevitably rose to the 70 meters (230 feet) range. At our current annual carbon ppm emission rates, we will reach this catastrophic carbon 500 ppm range by 2042.

    If we cross that carbon level of 500 ppm, our average global temperature will soar to 4°C (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit). At 4°C, a large portion of humanity will die of starvation (or of increased heat's other related consequences), and governments and societies will collapse in most areas of the world.

    If we cross the carbon 500 ppm battle line, we will continue crossing more of the 11 critical global warming tipping points within the climate’s many systems and subsystems, at an even faster rate. Because of this and other factors, it is highly probable we will reach carbon 600 ppm within 25-30 years.

    The carbon 600 ppm level will raise the average global temperature to 5°C (9 degrees Fahrenheit) and will initiate massive methane releases from ocean coastal shelves and permafrost. Because methane is 86 times more potent than carbon as a greenhouse gas, this will once again rapidly spike average global temperatures and bring about the extinction of most of humanity.

    As we reach the carbon 500 and 600 ppm levels, we will cross into the most dangerous phases of the Climageddon Scenario model for predicting future climate changes with all of its unconscionable 20 worst consequences.

    Noblesse oblige and the global warming emergency

    Another component of their moral and ethical obligation resides within the concept of “wealth obliges,” similar to the old French concept of noblesse oblige. The updated concept of noblesse oblige also implies the moral and ethical obligation that possessing great wealth extends beyond mere economic influence, comforts, and privileges. It also requires the person or entity who holds such status to take on reasonable and rational social and leadership responsibilities to promote and protect the common well-being. Under this updated concept that wealth obliges, the world's wealthiest nations, corporations, individuals and celebrities are in fact more morally and ethically bound to act and lead.

    Two Last Factors

    1. The world’s wealthiest corporations, individuals and celebrities have good reasons for bearing more moral and ethical responsibility. This is because they have caused measurably more fossil fuel pollution in the creation and maintenance of their vast wealth than any of the rest of us, and because they continue to use vastly more fossil fuels in the maintenance of their current jet-setting luxury lifestyles and business activities.
    2. There isn’t enough time for anyone else with sufficient influence over the world’s politicians to remedy the situation. Yes, we really are out of time.

     

    We should have started making the necessary changes 30 years ago. Now there is no one else available with the necessary levels of immediate controlling influence over self-interested politicians than the world's wealthiest corporations, individuals, and celebrities.

    To solve escalating global warming before we cross more global warming tipping points, we need to act at levels of effective coordinated global action and mobilize like we’ve never seen before in human history. We simply do not have adequate time left to build a movement of individual citizens from the bottom up as was done in the past to influence our politicians to pass the new laws or treaties to resolve this rapidly escalating emergency.

    If you are not one of the world’s wealthiest individuals, corporations, or celebrities and you are not a high-ranking member of an intelligence agency cognizant of the damage being created, you now know you are not the one who is primarily responsible to fix this mess.

    From the research and editorial team at Job One for Humanity

    End Notes

    1. Tim McDonnell. "The fossil fuel industry is bankrolling the Paris Climate talks." Mother Jones. December 2, 2015. http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/12/climate-change-summit-par...

    source: http://www.joboneforhumanity.org/#_=_

    March 9, 2018

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  • WANNA LIMIT GLOBAL WARMING TO 1.5°C? BETTER GET CRACKING...

                 Coal: it’s not an option. Kym Farnik

     

    Analysis breaks down what it would take—and it’s a lot...

    One surprise in the international Paris Agreement on greenhouse gas emissions was the addition of the aspirational goal of limiting global warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius. Nations have long stated that their aim was to avoid exceeding 2-degree warming (though they've largely failed to follow through with actions that would make that possible), and so scientists have studied that scenario in great detail. But nobody had been promising to keep this a 1.5-degree world, so the information was lacking.

    A new study led by Joeri Rogelj of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis digs into this problem, providing a breakdown of plausible scenarios that will form the basis of future research efforts. This work uses computer models of the global economy to simulate the costs and effects of things like transitioning away from fossil fuels at different paces.

    Scenario building

    The simulations rely on a set of five scenarios that represent different socioeconomic futures. This includes idealistic scenarios like a world built around sustainability, with a global population of just 7 billion at the end of this century, rather than the expected 10 billion. At the other extreme, there's an all-consuming world in which energy demand grows rapidly and is fulfilled almost entirely by fossil fuels. This system is a little easier to wrap your head around than scenarios based purely on greenhouse gas concentrations because you can picture what these worlds are really like.

    For each of these five worlds, the researchers essentially work out whether their models can find a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep the world below 1.5 degrees of warming in 2100—even if it peaks a couple tenths of a degree above that before coming back down.

    Given that our options for limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius already require hey-maybe-the-glass-is-actually-full optimism, it should come as no surprise that 1.5-degree scenarios involve herculean transformations of our behavior. Global emissions would have to peak within the next few years and then drop like a rock—reaching zero around the 2060s. At our current rate of emissions, we would probably emit the maximum allowable total of greenhouse gas in less than a decade.

    To avoid that, the use of coal to generate electricity would have to disappear before 2050, with the use of oil ending soon after. Renewable electricity from sources like solar and wind would have to account for 60-80 percent of our generation by mid-century. The role of natural gas varies widely among the different model simulations, spanning everything from more than doubling to declining by 80 percent.

    These scenarios also require a crutch that is commonly invoked even though it has yet to be employed at a significant scale: running biofuel power plants, capturing the emitted CO2, and storing it underground. Because the crops used as biofuels get their carbon from the atmosphere, this takes atmospheric CO2 and shoves it in the ground while generating electricity along the way. This is not without drawbacks, chief among them the need for agricultural land that might otherwise be used for food crops.

    Capturing carbon

    This technique (and others that removed carbon dioxide from the air) has to be employed in a big way to make the numbers work in these scenarios. Reducing net emissions (released minus removed) to zero isn’t even good enough—we’d have to remove more than we emit in the latter half of this century. By 2100, we could need to have removed up to 30 years’ worth of CO2 at today’s emission rate. That would be a massive deployment of carbon dioxide removal techniques alongside a revolution in the energy sector.

    If you compare this to the actions required to meet the no-more-than-2-degrees-warming goal, more carbon dioxide removal is only part of it. The emissions cuts are stronger and faster, which means they’re more expensive. And it’s not just the sources of energy that have to change—there has to be more efficiency and less energy demand, too.

    In general, the researchers say that there are some general socioeconomic trends in these scenarios. Scenarios that limit warming to 1.5 degrees see major shifts toward renewable sources of electricity, less energy use overall, and significant carbon dioxide renewal. The scenarios that fail to hit this goal, on the other hand, feature energy-intensive economic growth, more geographic inequality, and a hodgepodge of uncoordinated, short-term climate policies.

    The researchers say their work shows that “multiple technologically salient options are available,” but this obviously doesn’t mean any of them are likely to come to pass. The picture painted is one of razor-thin margins for error. Even capturing all the CO2 coming out of existing fossil fuel power plants wouldn’t be good enough, because the mere production of fossil fuels leaks too much greenhouse gas.

    There’s simply no escaping the fact that things would have to change immediately if we want that 1.5—or 2-degree—future, regardless of the goals set at international negotiations. The world has dithered too long for an easy fix to still be on the table.

    Nature Climate Change, 2018. DOI: 10.1038/s41558-018-0091-3  (About DOIs).

    - 3/7/2018, 5:20 PM

    Scott K. Johnson Scott is a hydrogeologist and educator who has been covering the geosciences for Ars since 2011. Email scott.johnson@arstechnica.com // Twitter @SJvatn
     
     
    original story HERE

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  • SEA LEVEL RISE WILL RAPIDLY WORSEN COASTAL FLOODING IN COMING DECADES, NOAA WARNS...

       The nuisance flooding that accompanies seasonal high tides in parts of the Miami area will become more common as sea level rises. Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

     

    A new report shows how vulnerable U.S. coastal areas are to rising seas, with some flooding daily by 2100. San Francisco faces a double whammy: it's also sinking...

    Coastal communities should expect much more frequent flooding in coming decades as sea levels rise, according to a new federal report. Many places that are dry now could flood every day by the end of the century.

    The report, published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, projects the impact of sea level rise on coastal flooding along the nation's shorelines and says it's already having an effect, particularly on the East Coast. In the Southeast, the average number of days with high-tide floods has more than doubled since 2000, to three per year, while the number in the Northeast has increased by about 75 percent, to six per year.

    "We're seeing an accelerated increase up and down most of the Atlantic Seaboard," said William V. Sweet, an oceanographer at NOAA and the lead author of the report. "That's not a good place to be, because impacts are going to become chronic rather quickly."

    While Miami currently experiences only a few days of high-tide flooding per year, for example, it should expect 10 days each year by the early 2030s under an intermediate scenario for sea level rise. Just a decade later, that number could triple. And flooding would likely occur every other day by 2060.

    Flood Risk Varies Region to Region

    It doesn't take a scientist to tell you that rising seas will worsen coastal flooding, but the new report shows how the effects will vary greatly across different regions.

    The Northeast currently experiences the most frequent flooding, largely because of regular winter storms—including a recent series of storms that has caused flood damage across the region.

    In places where the weather is relatively calm most of the year and the difference between low and high tides is smaller, such as Southeast, coastal flooding is not yet as frequent. But those same factors that create a relatively constant water level mean that once flooding begins, it will worsen more quickly. This is what we're seeing now in places like Miami and Charleston, South Carolina, where tidal flooding is quickly becoming more than just a nuisance.

    By mid-century, the Western Gulf of Mexico should expect to have 80 to 185 days of flooding per year, and the coastal Northeast should expect 45 to 130 days. The Southeast and the Eastern Gulf of Mexico will likely experience between 25 and 85 days per year, and the West Coast fewer still.

    By the end of the century, though, the gap narrows or disappears, with most of the East and Gulf coasts experiencing flooding at least every other day under a lower estimate of rising seas, and every day under a higher one.

    Sinking San Francisco

    The report uses two scenarios—an "intermediate low" of about 1.5 feet by 2100 and an intermediate of about 3 feet. The two represent the lower and upper bounds of what's likely to occur, Sweet said, though the actual rise could be far greater if greenhouse gas emissions don't fall later this century or if Antarctic ice sheets begin to collapse.

    Even under the more moderate scenarios, however, flooding could still be worse than NOAA projects in some places. Land is sinking across many coastal areas, and while broader regional rates are generally well known and incorporated into sea level rise estimates—it's part of why the Northeast is experiencing higher relative sea level rise—subsidence can vary greatly on a more local level.

    A separate study, published Wednesday in Science Advances, uses satellite data to examine subsidence across the San Francisco Bay Area. It found that most places are sinking at a rate of less than 2 millimeters per year, but that certain spots, including San Francisco International Airport, are sinking at up to 10 millimeters per year. Add this all up, the authors write, and rising seas could actually inundate perhaps twice as much land as expected in the Bay Area. Many other coastal cities, including Tokyo, Jakarta, and the Hampton Roads region of Virginia, have similar problems with subsidence.

    What Can Cities Do?

    Of course, the actual impact of flooding will depend on how cities adapt, such as by building seawalls, flood gates or abandoning some low-lying spots. New York, Miami, Norfolk, Virginia, and other coastal cities have already begun to implement some measures, such as requiring that new buildings be elevated a certain amount—called freeboard—above the flood level, generally between 1 and 3 feet.

    Sweet said the NOAA report shows how vulnerable most places are to rising seas. He found that minor coastal flooding generally occurs when waters rise about 1.5 feet above normal, and damaging flooding occurs with less than 3 feet of water.

    "It's kind of laid bare America's infrastructure," he said. "There's really not that much freeboard separating our infrastructure from sea levels."

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