The year 2014 is shaping up to be the warmest year on record and the heat is felt most strongly in the polar regions and in the oceans.
warming of the poles is causing jet streams to change, resulting in
more extreme weather events creating havoc around the globe.
shows that the global ocean surface temperature for the year-to-date
(January through to November 2014) was 1.03°F (0.57°C) above
average, the warmest such period on record. The anomaly is even more
pronounced in the Norther Hemisphere, as illustrated by the image
temperatures can show much higher anomalies locally, as illustrated
by the image below. The high sea surface temperatures near Svalbard
give an indication of how warm the current is underneath the surface.
2014 SST anomaly near Svalbard (green circle) Aug 26: 7.3°C, Sep 26: 6.7°C, Oct 26: 5.9°C, Nov 26: 4.2°C, Dec 26: 3.7°C
danger is that ocean temperatures will continue to rise, especially
in the North Atlantic, and that the Gulf Stream will keep carrying
ever warmer water from the North Atlantic into the Arctic Ocean,
where it will destabilize methane hydrates contained in sediments
under the seafloor.
levels are already exceptionally high over the Arctic, as illustrated
by the recent NOAA image below. Since end October 2014, huge
quantities of methane have erupted from the seafloor of the Arctic
Ocean (water temperatures off the coast of North America get very
high in July and it takes a few months for ocean currents to carry
this heat to the Arctic Ocean).
methane eruptions threaten to further accelerate warming in the
Arctic, and cause even more extreme weather events, wildfires and
further emissions, in a spiral of runaway warming
combination image below shows the strength at which methane is
erupting from the Arctic Ocean seafloor. On December 25, 2014,
methane lights up the northern sky like a Christmas tree. The image
shows levels at 6 km (19,820 ft) altitude, as recorded by, from top
to bottom, MetOp-1 am (up to 2277 ppb), MetOp-1 pm (up to 2295 ppb)
and Met-Op-2 am (up to 2336 ppb).
records for December 25, 2014, pm, are incorporated in the animation
below, showing methane concentrations reaching levels of up to 2284
ppb at an altitude of 6 km (19,820 ft) and reaching even higher
levels of up to 2329 ppb at an altitude of 9.3 km (30,570 ft).
troposphere is deepest at tropical latitudes, where it reaches
altitudes of up to 20 km (12 mi), and rather shallow at the polar
regions, where it only reaches altitudes of some 7 km (4.3 mi) in
winter. For high concentrations of methane to show up over the Arctic
Ocean at such a high altitude is a further indication of the strength
of these methane eruptions.
the methane that shows up in the atmosphere is only a fraction of the
methane that is erupting from the seafloor, as part of the methane
will be broken down by microbes as it rises up through the water and
gets stuck under the sea ice.
Naval Research Laboratory animation below shows that, while sea ice
is now covering the entire Arctic ocean, it is in many places less
than one meter thin, while huge chuncks of sea ice are moving along
the edges of Greenland into the Atlantic ocean.
exponential trendline based on sea ice volume observations shows that
sea ice looks set to disappear in 2019, while disappearance in 2015
the margins of a 5% confidence interval,
reflecting natural variability. In other words, extreme weather
events could cause Arctic sea ice to collapse as early as 2015, with
the resulting albedo changes further contributing to the acceleration
of warming in the Arctic and causing further methane eruptions from
the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean.
Calls For Comprehensive And Effective Action
situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action,
as discussed at the Climate