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Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet

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Signs of the rise to come

Following the record low Antarctic sea ice extent reached last month, Arctic sea ice extent now looks to be beyond its maximum for the year and looks set to keep falling rapidly over the next few months. 

Ocean heat is at record levels, as illustrated by the image below and as discussed in an earlier post

The image below shows the temperature at the North Pole reaching 0.7°C or 33.3°F (at 1000 hPa, at the green circle) on March 16, 2022, with ocean currents depicted at the background.

How could the temperature at the North Pole get this high, in March? 

As said, ocean heat is at record levels. This is heating up the air over the Atlantic Ocean. At times, huge amounts of heat are getting pushed into the Arctic due to a distorted Jet Stream. The image on the right shows the Jet Stream on the Northern Hemisphere on March 16, 2022, with strong winds at 250 hPa pushing heat from the Atlantic Ocean into the Arctic.

Furthermore, the Gulf Stream is pushing huge amounts of ocean heat toward the Arctic. 

The image below shows that sea surface temperatures were as much as 14.1°C or 25.3°F higher than 1981-2011 off the North American coast (green circle) on March 5, 2022.

The image below shows that, on March 16, 2022, the temperature in the Arctic was 3.5°C higher than 1979-2000. 

The above events could be seen as signs of the strength and the speed of the rise to come.  

The rise to come

The image below indicates that the global temperature difference between the top of an El Niño and the bottom of a La Niña period could be more than half a degree Celsius.

Temperature anomalies of up to 4.1°C (versus 1951-1980) show up over the years at the highest latitudes north, as illustrated by the image on the right, created with a NASA image. These high anomalies show up in particular during El Niño periods. 

We’re currently in the depth of a persistent La Niña, as the next image on the right shows. This will keep suppressing the temperature, until the start of the next El Niño. 

The next El Niño could push temperatures up even more strongly than the average El Niño, for a number of reasons. As the temperature keeps rising, ever more frequent strong El Niño events are likely to occur, as discussed in an earlier post. A 2019 study analyzes how tipping the ENSO into a permanent El Niño can trigger state transitions in global terrestrial ecosystems.

Currently, the temperature rise is additionally suppressed by low sunspots. Within a few years time, sunspots can be expected to reach the peak of their current cycle and observed sunspots are looking stronger than predicted, as described at the sunspots page.

Furthermore, temperatures look set to rise as sulfate aerosols are falling away, while there could be a further rise in temperature as a result of releases of other aerosols with a net warming impact, such as black and brown carbon, which can increase dramatically as more wood burning and forest fires take place. As the temperature of the atmosphere rises, this could increase water vapor while reducing lower clouds decks and further increase the temperature, as described at the clouds feedback page

What could further push up temperatures a lot over the next few years is the compound impact of feedbacks in the Arctic, including decline of the snow and ice cover, releases of greenhouse gases from degrading subsea and terrestrial permafrost, and further distortion of the Jet Stream causing more extreme weather events. 

Conclusion

The situation is dire and calls for the most comprehensive and effective action, as described at the Climate Plan.

Links

• NOAA – ENSO: Recent Evolution, Current Status and Predictions
• Clouds feedback
• Feedbacks in the Arctic

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