Saturday, 29 April 2017

Wildfires in Siberia

Russian village burns to ground as wildfires hit Siberia, state of
emergency declared

28 April, 2017

Rescuers have managed to save all the residents of a Russian village before the settlement located on an island in Irkutsk Region burned to the ground. The spread of wildfires across Siberia has prompted authorities to declare a state of emergency.

Hundreds of people were trapped in the village of Bubnovka surrounded by water as a massive fire was ripping through their homes. Luckily for some 435 residents, local Emergencies Ministry staff were conducting anti-flood drills in the area and rapidly reacted to the incident.

Responding the distress call, they rushed to the scene to evacuate the villagers. Using an air cushion rescue boat, the responders brought people to safety. No one was harmed.

В Иркутской области выгорела деревня из-за пожара в доме. 450 жителей эвакуированы.

Despite efforts by the local team of firefighters, the entire village of 86 houses burned down in the suspected wildfire, the governor’s press service told RIA Novosti.

It was impossible to bring additional [firefighting] forces because of the fact that Bubnovka is located on the island. Gusty winds contributed to the spread of fire,” the governor’s office said.

The Investigative Committee, however, has opened a criminal case to see if any negligence was involved.

According to the investigation, the fire occurred on the territory of the non-residential sector in the village of Bubnovka in the Kirensky district. Because of the strong wind, the fire spread to the entire village,” authorities said in a statement, adding that they will also assess “the actions of officials of the [local] administration.”

The recent spread of wildfires in Siberia has prompted authorities to declare a state of emergency across the entire federal district.

We are introducing an emergency regime for all government bodies and forces of the Unified Russian System for Preventing and Eliminating Emergencies in the Siberian Federal District,” the head of Russia’s Emergencies Ministry, Vladimir Puchkov, announced Friday.

The state of emergency had already been declared in Irkutsk Oblast, as three separate areas of the region were suffering from massive wildfires.

According to the Emergencies Ministry, as a result of the suspected careless handling of the fires, the flames spread to residential houses and buildings in five settlements, destroying at least 78 houses and a convenience store.

Meanwhile, in Zabaykalsky Region, the area of forest fires increased to at least 643 hectares, according to the Emergencies Ministry. Overall fires in Siberia are now ravaging almost 1,500 hectares, according to the Aerial Forest Protection Service Agency, which deals with fire aviation and rescue efforts.

Almost 1,500 hectares of forest are burning on the territory of Siberia,” including Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk and Zabaykalsky regions, as well as Tuva and Buryatia republics, the federal agency said.

Trump responds to North Korean ICBM test

Trump Slams "Disrespectful" North Korea After Unsuccessful Missile-Test, Warns Situation Is "Bad"

28 April, 2017

Update: President Trump has responded...

North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!
*  *  *
Update: President Trump has been briefed. Japanese Cabinet Secretary Yoshida Suga notes that one missile was test-fired and seen to drop within Korean territory - strongly protests the action. US Pacific Command confirms that the missile didn't leave North Korean territory, didn't pose a threat to North America. Furthermore, as AP adds, the launched missile was likely a medium-range KN-17 ballistic missile.
*  *  *
As we detailed earlier, South Korea's Yonhap News reported that North Korea has provoked Trump with yet another ballistic missile test launch, just hours after the US pushed for for more pressure against the Kim Jong-Un regime.

(URGENT) N. Korea test-fires a ballistic missile: S. Korean military.
However it did not fly far: the missile, fired from an area just north of Pyongyang toward the Sea of Japan, flew several minutes before breaking apart. AP reports that a US official says North Korean test was likely of a medium-range ballistic missile; it broke up minutes after launch.

The U.S. Pacific Command confirmed a launch took place at 10:30am Hawaii Time near Pukchang airfield, however the missile did not get to the Sea of Japan and never left North Korean territory, suggesting it failed shortly after launch..

This launch comes just hours after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned on Friday that failure to curb North Korea's nuclear and missile development could lead to 'catastrophic consequences,' while China and Russia cautioned Washington against threatening military force.

Tillerson says North Korea "must dismantle its nuclear missile programs" before U.S. "can even consider talks"

As Reuters reports, Washington has recently lavished praise on Beijing for its efforts to rein in its ally Pyongyang, but Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made clear to the U.N. Security Council it was not only up to China to solve the North Korean problem.

"The key to solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula does not lie in the hands of the Chinese side," Wang told the 15-member council in remarks contradicting the White House belief that it does wield significant influence.
The ministerial meeting of the council, chaired by Tillerson, exposed old divisions between the United States and China on how to deal with North Korea. China wants talks first and action later, while the United States wants North Korea to curtail its nuclear program before such talks start.
"It is necessary to put aside the debate over who should take the first step and stop arguing who is right and who is wrong," Wang told the council. "Now is the time to seriously consider resuming talks."
Tillerson responded: "We will not negotiate our way back to the negotiating table with North Korea, we will not reward their violations of past resolutions, we will not reward their bad behavior with talks."

North Korea did not take part in the meeting.

It seems we just got one step closer to "a major, major conflict."

Abrupt climate change - 10 degrees by 2021

10°C or 18°F warmer by 2021?

24 April, 2017

Skyrocketing emissions

On April 21, 2017, at 15:00 UTC, it was as hot as 46.6°C/115.8°F in Guinea, in West-Africa (at the location marked by the green spot on the map below).

That same time and day, a little bit to the south, at a spot in Sierra Leona, a level of carbon monoxide (CO) of 15.28 parts per million (ppm) was recorded, while the temperature there was 40.6°C or 105.1°F. Earlier that day (at 13:30 UTC), levels of carbon dioxide (CO₂) of 569 ppm and of sulfur dioxide (SO₂) of 149.97 µg/m³ were recorded at that same spot, shown on the bottom left corner of the image below (red marker).

These high emissions carry the signature of wildfires, illustrating the threat of what can occur as temperatures keep rising. Further emissions that come with wildfires are black carbon and methane.

Above image shows methane levels on April 22, 2017, AM, at an altitude corresponding to 218 mb. Methane at this altitude is as high as 2402 ppb (magenta indicates levels of 1950 ppb and higher) and while the image doesn't specify the location of this peak, it looks related to the magenta-colored area over West Africa and this looks related to the wildfires discussed above. This wasn't even the highest level recorded that day. While at lower altitudes even higher methane levels were recorded that morning (as high as 2505 ppb), above image illustrates the contribution wildfires can make to methane growth at higher altitudes.

The table below shows the altitude equivalents in feet (ft), meter (m) and millibar (mb).
57,016 ft
44,690 ft
36,850 ft
30,570 ft
25,544 ft
19,820 ft
14,385 ft
 8,368 ft
1,916 ft
17,378 m
13,621 m
11,232 m
 9,318 m
 7,786 m
 6,041 m
 4,384 m
 2,551 m
 584 m
 74 mb
 147 mb
 218 mb
 293 mb
 367 mb
 469 mb
 586 mb
 742 mb
 945 mb

Above image compares mean methane levels on the morning of April 22 between the years 2013 to 2017, confirming that methane levels are rising most strongly at higher altitudes, say between 6 to 17 km (which is where the Troposphere ends at the Equator), as compared to altitudes closer to sea level. This was discussed in earlier posts such as this one.

Warming oceans

Oceans are hit by high temperatures as well. The image below shows sea surface temperature anomalies (from 1981-2011) on April 21, 2017, at selected locations.

Accelerating temperature rises

The image below illustrates the danger of accelerating temperature rises.

Above image uses trendlines based on data dating back to 1880, which becomes less appropriate as feedbacks start to kick in that accelerate such temperature rises. Indeed, temperatures could rise even faster, due to feedbacks including the following ones:

• Less sunlight getting reflected back into space

As illustrated by the image below, more ocean heat results in less sea ice. This makes that less sunlight gets reflected back into space and instead gets absorbed by the oceans.
[ Graph by Wipneus ]

• More ocean heat escaping from the Arctic Ocean into the atmosphere

discussed before, as less heat is mixed down to deeper layers of oceans, more heat accumulates at or just below the surface. Stronger storms, in combination with the presence of a cold freshwater lid on top of the North Atlantic, increase the possibility that more of this ocean heat gets pushed into the Arctic Ocean, resulting in sea ice loss, which in turn makes that more heat can escape from the Arctic Ocean to the atmosphere, while more clouds over the Arctic Ocean make that less heat can get radiated out into space. As the temperature difference between the Arctic Ocean and the Equator decreases, changes are occurring to the Northern Polar Jet Stream that further speed up warming of the Arctic.
• More heat remaining in atmosphere due to less ocean mixing

As also 
discussed before, warmer water tends to form a layer at the surface that does not mix well with the water below. This stratification reduces the capability of oceans to take up heat and CO₂ from the atmosphere. Less take-up by oceans of CO₂ will result in higher CO₂ levels in the atmosphere, further speeding up global warming. Additionally, 93.4% of global warming currently goes into oceans. The more heat will remain in the atmosphere, the faster the temperature of the atmosphere will rise. As temperatures rise, more wildfires will erupt, adding further emissions, while heat-induced melting of permafrost will also cause more greenhouse gases to enter the atmosphere.

More seafloor methane entering the atmosphere 

The prospect of more heat getting pushed from the Atlantic Ocean into the Arctic Ocean also comes with the danger of destabilization of methane hydrates at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. Importantly, large parts of the Arctic Ocean are very shallow, making it easy for arrival of more ocean heat to warm up these seas and for heat to destabilize sediments at the seafloor that can contain huge amounts of methane, resulting in eruptions of methane from the seafloor, with much the methane entering the atmosphere without getting decomposed by microbes in the water, since many seas are only shallow, as discussed in earlier posts such as this one

These feedbacks are depicted in the yellow boxes on above diagram on the right.
How fast could temperatures rise?
When taking into account the many elements that are contributing to warming, a potential warming of 10°C (18°F) could take place, leading to rapid mass 
extinction of many species, including humans.

[ Graph from: Which Trend is Best? ]

So, how fast could such warming take place? As above image illustrates, it could happen as fast as within the next four years time.

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


• Climate Plan

• Extinction

• How much warming have humans caused?

• Accelerating growth in CO₂ levels in the atmosphere

• Arctic Sea Ice Getting Terribly Thin