Saturday, 28 March 2020

Meanwhile, things are not staying the same in the Arctic

Methane, Earthquake and 
Sudden Stratospheric 

Arctic News,
17 March, 2020

On the morning of March 12, 2020, peak methane levels were as high as 2902 ppb (parts per billion) at a pressure level of 469 mb (millibar, equivalent to an altitude of some 6 km (almost 20,000 feet).What did cause this very high peak? The image on the right shows the situation at 695 mb.

High levels of methane, colored in magenta, show up over the oceans at high latitudes north, especially around Greenland and around Svalbard.

The image underneath on the right shows methane even closer to sea level, at 1000 mb. At this altitude, such magenta-colored high levels of methane only show up over an area in between Greenland and Svalbard.

It appears that these high methane levels did originate from this area. What could have triggered this?

The image below shows that an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.6 on the Richter scale hit an area in between Greenland and Svalbard on March 11, 2020, at 21:30:03 (UTC), 2020, at depth of 10 km.

It appears that the earthquake did cause destabilization of sediments at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean in between Greenland and Svalbard, containing methane in the form of hydrates and free gas, with the destabilization resulting in the eruption of methane that subsequently reached the atmosphere.

As illustrated by the image on the right, there were strong differences in pressure in the atmosphere over Greenland on the one hand and over the Arctic Ocean on the other hand, on March 11, 2020, 21:00 UTC.

The next question is if there was something that triggered the earthquake. The image below shows a forecast for March 22, 2020, of conditions in the stratosphere at 10 hPa.

Above image shows a forecast for March 22, 2020, of temperatures as high as 6.2°C or 43.2°F and as low as -68.8°C or -91.9°F at another location at 10 hPa (Polar Vortex), with wind reaching speeds as high as 369 km/h or 229 mph.

The image on the right shows a huge temperature difference between two locations in the stratosphere on March 23, 2020, resulting in wind reaching speeds as high as 341 km/h or 212 mph.

This indicates a strong updraft, carrying huge amounts of relatively warm air from low altitudes over the Arctic up into the stratosphere.

Earlier this year, Arctic sea ice extent was a bit larger than it was in previous years at this time of year. This was followed by a steep fall in extent, as illustrated by the image below.

Since the start of 2020, Arctic sea ice volume has been at a record low for the time of year, as the image on the right shows.

These conditions may have acted as a sink plunger, triggering the earthquake and destabilizing sediments at the seafloor, resulting in the methane eruptions.
More generally, the events reflect a huge and growing overall imbalance in the temperature of the atmosphere, and the added methane releases further contribute to this imbalance.

Meanwhile, sea surface temperatures off the coast of North America on March 18, 2020, were as much as 12.5°C or 22.5°F higher than 1981-2011 (at the green circle on the image on the right).

With sea ice thickness this low, it looks like there will be no buffer left to consume ocean heat that gets carried along the path of the Gulf Stream into the Arctic Ocean, which threatens to further destabilize sediments containing huge amounts of methane, as also discussed in an earlier post.

On top of this, high temperatures keep showing up over the Arctic Ocean in forecasts, as illustrated by the two forecasts below (for March 21, 2020, and for March 31, 2020).

Temperature anomaly forecast for March 21, 2020
Temperature anomaly forecast for March 31, 2020


As said above, it appears that this M4.6 earthquake on March 11, 2020, caused destabilization of sediments at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean in between Greenland and Svalbard.
The image on the right shows that earlier, a M5 earthquake hit an area a bit to the north, i.e. on March 3, 2020.

While not much methane showed up locally following that M5 earthquake, high methane readings were recorded elsewhere over large parts of the Arctic Ocean early March 2020, which could have resulted from destabilization along the fault line that crosses the Arctic Ocean (red line).

The next image on the right shows that earthquakes between Greenland and Svalbard over the past decade did predominantly occur on this fault line.

The high methane readings in between Greenland and Svalbard following the M4.6 earthquake could have occurred for the very reason that this earthquake hit an area outside the fault line, where sediments had until now rarely been shaken.

This could imply there could be huge amounts of methane contained in areas outside the fault line, supporting the above warning that ocean heat that gets carried along the path of the Gulf Stream into the Arctic Ocean threatens to further destabilize sediments containing huge amounts of methane. After all, such destabilization can occur as a result of higher temperatures or changes in pressure, or both.

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


• Arctic Ocean January 2020

• Seismic Events

• Arctic Ocean February 2020

• Climate Plan

Look at where we are with Arctic sea ice extent right now- look at the blue line on the left.


It's time to stop denying how precarious the situation is.

Remember the Paris Agreement? In 2015, politicians pledged to hold the global temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pledged they would try and limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Well, an analysis by Sam Carana shows that it was already more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial when the Paris Agreement was reached.

In Sam Carana's analysis, the year 1750 is used as the baseline for pre-industrial. The analysis shows that we meanwhile have also crossed the 2°C threshold (in February 2020) and that the temperature rise looks set to rapidly drive humans and eventually most if not all species on Earth into extinction.

Yet, our politicians refuse to act!

Indeed, there are indications that the recent rise is part of a trend that points at even higher temperatures in the near future, as also discussed at this analysis page. Polynomial trends can highlight such acceleration better than linear trends. The 1970-2030 trend is calculated over the period from 1880 through to February 2020. The trend points at 3°C getting crossed in 2026. The fact that the January 2020 and February 2020 anomalies are above this trend indicates that the situation might be even worse.

A polynomial trend calculated over a shorter period can highlight short-term variation such as associated with El NiƱo events and can highlight feedbacks that might otherwise be overlooked. The 2010-2022 trend is calculated with 2009-Feb.2020 data. The trend indicates that 2°C was crossed in February 2020, and looks set to keep rising and cross 3°C in 2021, more specifically in January next year, which is less than a year away.

Such a steep rise is in line with unfolding developments that are causing the aerosol masking effect to fall away, such as a decrease in industrial activity due to COVID-19 fears. Much of a potentially huge temperature rise over the next few years could eventuate as a result of a reduction in the cooling now provided by sulfates. In other words, a steep temperature rise could result from a decline in industrial activity that is caused by fears about the spread of a contagious virus.

From Zack Labe

Coronavirus update - 27 March, 2020

US Becomes First Country To

Record 100,000 Cases Of 

COVID-19, 5th Congressman 

Tests Positive: Live Updates

Zero Hedge
27 March, 2020

  • Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock test positive
  • US stock futures turn lower after 3-day rebound
  • US passes 100k cases
  • Italy reports 919 new deaths
  • Global case total nears 538k
  • US case total nears 86k, with ~1300 deaths
  • Trump signs CARES ACT
  • China border closure begins
  • Rhode Islands national guard to round up travelers
  • 1 in 10 Americans say they know somebody with the virus
  • DC mayor advisor dies
  • New York death toll spikes
  • 5th Congressman tests positive
  • South Africa lockdown begins as country confirms first 2 deaths
  • Netherlands reports ~1k new cases, 112 new deaths
  • Hong Kong reports 65 new cases, largest daily jump
  • Singapore makes standing too close to somebody else illegal
  • Bolivia imposes some of world's toughest restrictions
  • North Korea says 2,280 people still in quarantine
  • All of Russia placed on lockdown
  • Hungary PM announces lockdown plans
  • Israel mobilizes army to enforce lockdowns
  • President Xi, Trump promise to "unite" to fight virus during call
*   *   *
Update (1725ET): NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said a rent freeze would be favorable, but would need help from the state.
*   *   *
Update (1700ET): The total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US has surpassed the 100,000 mark, according to Reuters, which cited data fro Johns Hopkins. The most recent US total was 100,040. Italy is second with 86,498 cases and China is third with 81,340 confirmed cases.
The US is the first country to reach this threshold, and it occurs as the White House Task Force begins its latest daily press conference.

*   *   *
Update (1640ET): A fifth American Congressman has tested positive for COVID-19: Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Penn.
Kelly is the fourth member of the House, plus Rand Paul in the Senate makes five.
In other news Trump has officially signed the $2 trillion stimulus package, setting off a scramble to put the money in peoples' hands, he also for the first time invoked his authority under the Defense Production Act to order GM to produce more ventilators more quickly, a move that critics and even other conservatives have complained is mostly for show.
In other news, Ireland has decided to follow Britain by imposing a major lockdown.
*   *   *
Update (1620ET): In other news, as NYC's hospitals fight against a sudden surge in seriously ill COVID-19 patients, Ireland's intensive care units will be at capacity "in a number of days," warned Prime Minister (or Taoiseach as the Irish call him) Leo Varadkar.
Meanwhile, the head of the IMF has said the global economy has entered a recession that could be worse than the 2009 downturn. Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the IMF expects a recovery in 2021, saying it could be a "sizeable rebound", but only if nations succeed in containing the economic fallout.
As more countries impose COVID-19 inspired lockdowns, Bolivia has imposed some of the toughest restrictions in the world. Everyone must stay indoors at all times until April 15, except for one visit a week to the shops between 8 am and noon, with the actual day dependent on the last digit of an individual's national ID number: Monday is 1 or 2, Tuesday is 3 or 4, for example. On the weekends, no one is allowed out at all.
Here's some more on what Rhode Island is doing:
Meanwhile, Trump has signed the CARES ACT.
*  *  *
Update (1605ET): The relatively small and mostly low-profile state of Rhode Island has just marked a milestone in the enforcement of quarantines in the US to battle the onslaught of COVID-19. Gov. Gina Raimondo declared on Friday after reporting the largest 24-hour jump in new cases that all bars and restaurants would be closed, and that the national guard deployed in the state must go door to door in "coastal" communities (eg most of the state) checking for travelers from New York.
In other words, the governor is ordering the national guard to round up all the rich New Yorkers (and other out-of-staters) who thought they could ride out the quarantine at their summer villas by the beach.
As she said, the 14-day mandatory quarantines on travelers from other states "will be enforced," according to Newport Buzz, which quoted Raimondo at her press conference Friday.
*  *  *
Update (1320ET): As more stories out of New York City about people surviving COVID-19 emerge, of course it's a city where a significant chunk of the population work in media, or at least hoped to work in media when they first moved to the city and started bartending six nights a week to pay that massive city apartment rent, which they incidentally will no longer be able to afford, it's becoming increasingly clear: young people can still get really sick from COVID-19.
If you have asthma, COVID-19 can really rock your shit, as one recent NYT personal essay suggested. Now, the WHO is once again hoping to emphasize this fact as it tries to convince the world to follow the lockdowns, even though the organization has in turn said the lockdowns were too much, and not enough, it's warning that young people get COVID-19 at rates even higher than the old. 10% to 15% of COVID-19 patients under the age of 50 experience severe or moderate COVID-19 symptoms, the WHO said.
While case numbers are rising, the virus can still be controlled through aggressive measures, including testing, said WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove during the organization's Friday press conference from Geneva. Officials reminded the public that a vaccine is still at least 12-18 months away, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who also chided the US and other countries and individuals and instead advised them all to refrain from using unproven therapies, because they could be harmful and that may cause shortages of the drugs for diseases they were made for Norway and Spain are enrolling patients for Solidarity trials, which now involve more than 45 countries.
*  *  *
Update (1250ET): A member of DC Mayor Muriel Bowser's legal team died this morning from complications stemming from COVID-19. Mayor Bowser announced the unfortunate news during a Friday press conference and sent her condolences to the family, local media reports.
See a picture of him with the mayor below:
*  *  *
Update (1240ET): Italy reported 919 deaths for Thursday, bringing the national death toll to 9,134, its highest daily jump since the outbreak began.
It also reported another 6k new cases, bringing the national total to 86,498 from 80,539.
Again, it looks like the pace of new deaths is unequivocally beginning to accelerate once again.
Analysts from Deutsche Bank pointed out that the US is "ahead of the curve"...but not in the way it wants to be.
*  *  *
Update (1230ET): New York's coronavirus death toll rose to 519 on Friday, up from 385 the previous day, said Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a press briefing from the Javits Center, which has been converted into a makeshift overflow hospital.
Meanwhile, France has extended its nationwide coronavirus lockdown for another two weeks until April 15, said Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Friday.
The number of confirmed cases in the state climbed to 44,635, Cuomo said, up from 37,258.
"This could of course be further extended if the health situation requires it," he said.
France is struggling with a sudden surge in deaths as the virus rages across Europe.
Slovakia, one of the last countries in Europe to detect cases of COVID-19, said on Friday that trucks carrying non-essential goods would not be allowed to enter the country via border crossings from Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, as Slovakia steps up efforts to suppress the outbreak. This marks Slovakia as one of the first states to really crack down on trade, a step that most haven't felt necessary.
*  *  *
Update (1130ET): Trump is playing the blame game while the rest of the world tries to figure out how the US is going to slow the spread of a virus that already appears to be everywhere
Trump is now blaming the car companies.
*  *  *
Update (10:55ET): As the US adjusts to its newfound position as the biggest outbreak in the world, VP Mike Pence appeared on CNBC for an interview where he offered some clarifications to Trump's insistence that the country get back to work by Easter (April 12).
Pence said this goal was "aspirational", and that all of the country should observe the 2 week quarantine 'social-distancing' period. Once that period is over, the government will figure out whose ready to go back to work and which areas need more targeted resources after a few weeks have passed.
President Trump’s goal to reopen the country by Easter is “aspirational,” VP Mike Pence says. “There’s going to be areas of the country where we need to continue to lean into mitigation efforts.” 
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*  *  *
Update (1020ET): The UK has reported another batch of cases, with its death toll climbing to 759 and 14,579 cases confirmed.
*  *   *
Update (0920ET): UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock, aka the guy who has been reminding everybody in the UK to wash their hands for the past month, has also tested positive for COVID-19.
In hindsight, all those group hugs with BoJo probably weren't a good idea...
Meanwhile, the number of cases in the Netherlands has climbed by 1,172 to 8,603, with 112 new deaths, as the Netherlands joins the group of European countries regularly reporting +~1,000 cases and +~100 deaths a day.
*  *   *
Update (0720ET): Just days after placing his entire country on a strict lockdown, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.
"Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus," Johnson tweeted. "I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus. Together we will beat this."
Johnson was tested on the advice of England's chief medical officer, a spokesman  said.
His symptoms are said to be 'mild' and he will continue to run the country while self-isolating, just as Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has done.
In a twitter message, Johnson seems to be doing okay. "We will get through it," he said in a tweeted video message.
Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus.

I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus.

Together we will beat this.
189K people are talking about this
Johnson is the most high-profile politician to have contracted the virus so far...
Infographic: Coronavirus reaction boosts key UK politicians' popularity | StatistaYou will find more infographics at Statista
...But will his diagnosis help bolster his popularity even more?

Almost equally as important: did Charles's diagnosis help his image?
*  *  *
Just a few short days ago, the Dow was still trading below 20k, Italy still had a higher COVID-19 case count than the US and New York City hospitals still had a few available beds. Just a few days later, everything has changed. US stocks have rallied back, erasing roughly half of their losses since they dropped from record highs, and New York has cemented its position as the worst outbreak in the country, as the virus spread widely during the month of February, when US officials were still sitting on their hands.
Though one Republican Congressman from Kentucky is threatening to delay a vote until the weekend by throwing up another procedural hurdle, by all accounts, the House is preparing to vote on Friday on a $2 trillion stimulus package that will dole out money to out-of-work Americans. At the same time, President Trump has continued to press for parts of the country to "re-open" in the coming days.
According to Johns Hopkins data, the global case total has passed 537,000, meaning more than half a million people around the world have contracted the virus, while the US reported nearly 86k as of Friday morning after the size of the US outbreak surpassed China's for the first time.
Now, Italy, China and the US together have reported more than half of the cases of the virus around the world.
For the last two weeks, China has reported either no new domestic infections, or just one or two domestic infections. Earlier this week, China shut its borders to foreigners to try and prevent a second wave of the outbreak. China's  travel ban affecting all non-resident foreigners is set to begin at midnight local time, or in roughly six hours.
For 2 weeks, reports new cases infected locally as zero or single digits. Health authority says 1 such case in Zhejiang, 54 cases traveled from abroad.  (Concerns high of 2nd wave from overseas & if asymptomatic cases properly reported.)
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The global death total was nearing 26K as of Friday morning, with more than 1,300 deaths counted across the US. According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll 77% of Americans said their lives had been disrupted by the outbreak, while 41% said that somebody in their own community had been impacted, and one in ten Americans claim to personally know somebody who has been infected. Still, Italy's death toll, at roughly 8,200, remains by far the highest in the world. Iran's official death toll, thought to be only a fraction of the real number, is still only ~2,300, after announcing another 144 new deaths Friday morning.
Africa has seen the virus spread far more slowly than many health officials feared, but as of Friday, COVID-19 had been detected in nearly every country on the continent.
South Africa started its official lockdown as of midnight on Friday: the shutdown will impact roughly 57 million citizens in the country. The country, which boasts the most industrialized economy in Africa, reported its first 2 deaths on Friday as well. With more than 1,000 confirmed cases, SA is also home to the largest outbreak in Africa.
Hong Kong reported 65 new coronavirus infections on Friday, its largest daily increase yet, bringing its total confirmed cases to 518, with 41 of the new cases being 'travel-related'. It's the latest disappointing news as the China-ruled city hopes to prevent a travel-related resurgence. In Singapore, which has also seen a jump in travel-related cases, intentionally standing or sitting too close to someone has been made a crime punishable by up to six months in jail or a fine of nearly $7,000.
Russia reported 196 new cases of coronavirus, a daily record, taking its official total for those infected with the disease to 1,036. the country reported another death over the last 24 hours, bringing its total to 4. A lockdown that had been imposed on Moscow earlier this week has now been expanded to cover the entire country. Russia's Interfax news agency cited Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin as asking all Russians to avoid all "non-essential" trips, and to avoid leaving their homes.
As Israel - which has reported roughly 3k cases and 10 deaths - scrambles to stave off an outbreak, the country has deployed about 500 army soldiers to assist police in enforcing the lockdown.
To reduce the number of social contacts, Hungary is joining the 'lockdown' club, imposing restrictions on citizens leaving their homes between March 28 and April 11, PM Viktor Orban said he will present a plan of action to restart the economy in the first half of April.
In North Korea, the government said late Thursday that about 2,280 citizens and two foreigners remain under coronavirus quarantine after authorities released thousands of people in past weeks who were confirmed to have no symptoms.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Trump participated in a call Thursday evening where they agreed to "unite to fight" the coronavirus, according to Chinese state media. Xi told Trump China "wishes to continue sharing all information and experience with the US" according to state broadcaster CCTV, while Trump tweeted that the two leaders were "working closely together".
Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China. Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet. China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!
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Finally, Spain reported 769 deaths on Friday, its largest daily jump in deaths since the beginning of the outbreak. The country also reported 7,871 new cases, with the total climbing to 64,059.
Meanwhile, as US hospitals prepare to face an onslaught of new severe cases and deaths, many while also dealing with shortages of critical equipment like ventilators, as well as personal protective equipment, a Detroit area health system has developed a contingency plan to deny ventilators and intensive care treatment to coronavirus patients with a poor chance of surviving, according to the Washington Post.
In a rare piece of good news, the suburban Washington State hospital that handled the first onslaught of coronavirus patients weeks ago - a crush of seriously ill and dying nursing home residents that signaled the beginning of the national crisis in the US - is now cautiously optimistic that local officials have succeeded in "flattening the curve", as the number of new cases has finally tapered off.