Monday Climate

August 25, 2014

648909_9122271_lzFog and quiet this way-early Monday on California’s north coast and modern life continues somewhat unabated.
As the Napa Valley down south of us cleans itself up after a 6.0 earthquake yesterday morning — already estimated to have caused $1 billion in damages — there’s another forest fire to the east that could become another major war zone in the battle against sparks in a way-dry land.

Climate rips even breakfast — the price of hazelnuts (Nutella!) has spiraled upwards of 60 percent; all cereal prices will skyrocket due to droughts all over any farm land everywhere; and “aporkalypse” is now, bacon could become extinct; and coffee, too: ‘To make matters worse, beans grown at higher temperatures don’t develop the blend of aromatic compounds that give coffee its distinctive flavor.
Dude, what about the caffeine content?

(Illustration above found here).

And the problem won’t just rip breakfast, but all day long. Climate-change news just in the last few days has not been good, from the tip-top to the bottomless bottom.
Surprise! Western Antarctica and Greenland are losing massive amounts of ice quicker than earlier figured — a global warning phenomenon is that previous studies on climate situations were generally always underestimated.
Via HuffPost:

Greenland and Antarctica are home to the two largest ice sheets in the world, and a new report released Wednesday says that they are contributing to sea level rise twice as much as they were just five years ago.
Using the European Space Agency’s CryoSat 2 satellite, the Alfred Wegener Institute from Germany has found that western Antarctica and Greenland are losing massive amounts of ice.
“Combined, the two ice sheets are thinning at a rate of 500 cubic kilometres per year,” said glaciologist Dr. Angelika Humbert, one of the authors of the AWI study, in a press release.
“That is the highest speed observed since altimetry satellite records began about 20 years ago.”

This shit is real. And even worse shit — quicker is too fast.
Another surprise! And worse.
Methane seeps off the US East coast — via the BBC with the Brit’s particular understatement: ‘While the vents may not be posing an immediate global warming threat, the sheer number means that our calculations on the potential sources of greenhouse gases may need revising.

No shit, Sherlock (or Dr. Who). Details from Science magazine:

Researchers have discovered 570 plumes of methane percolating up from the sea floor off the eastern coast of the United States, a surprisingly high number of seeps in a relatively quiescent part of the ocean.
The seeps suggest that methane’s contribution to climate change has been underestimated in some models.
And because most of the seeps lie at depths where small changes in temperature could be releasing the methane, it is possible that climate change itself could be playing a role in turning some of them on.
Most of the seeps are thought to be fed by methane stored in hydrates, crystal lattices of water ice that form under low temperatures and high pressures.
Harvesting methane from hydrates in the sea floor has already aroused commercial interests; both Japan and the United States have embarked on pilot extraction projects.
But the hydrates are also significant for climate scientists: This immense reservoir is thought to contain 10 times as much carbon as the atmosphere.
The gas, if it reaches the atmosphere, is far more potent than carbon dioxide as a heat trapper.
Even in the more likely event that aerobic microbes devour the methane while still in the ocean, it is converted to carbon dioxide, which leads to ocean acidification.
Some scientists have implicated runaway methane hydrate releases in the catastrophic extinctions of marine life at the Permian-Triassic boundary, 252 million years ago.

Equipped with a multibeam sonar along its hull, the vessel not only mapped the sea floor along a swath off the coast of North Carolina to Massachusetts, but also recorded reflections in the water column.
Gas bubbles of methane stood out as a distinctive signature.
Most of the seeps were found at depths of 180 to 600 meters along the upper slope of the continental margin.
This is the area where the continental shelf rapidly falls to the 5000-meter-deep abyssal plain of the ocean.
“So far everybody has been looking at small spots. This is the first time anyone has systematically mapped an entire margin,” says Christian Berndt, a marine geophysicist at GEOMAR in Kiel, Germany, who was not involved in the study.
It was also a surprise because seeps are typically found above known methane reservoirs, or above regions of active tectonic activity.
The continental margin was thought to be virtually devoid of seeps—until scientists studied the sonar data.
“They found that there was much more methane coming out than was suspected beforehand,” Berndt says.

Alliterated operative words there, “much more methane” — dire consequences for our environment. Methane is way-heavier than CO2, and could accerlate some bad shit with concentrations of the stuff rising by 150 percent since pre-industrial times as compared to only 40 percent for CO2. Bad news bears.

And a blast from the past — the infamous ozone depletion syndrome
Again from HuffPost:

New research from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center shows that large quantities of a chemical responsible for depleting the ozone layer are still being emitted, even years after an international ban.
New measurements have revealed that despite the Montreal Protocol, which limits the use of a variety of ozone-depleting chemicals, releases of carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) continue.
There should be zero emissions of the compound under the international agreement, but NASA measurements show an average of 39 kilotons are still emitted every year.
That’s about 30 percent of what peak emissions were before the substance was regulated.
The Montreal Protocol, adopted in 1987, phased out the use of ozone-depleting chemicals, including CCl4, over time.
After 2007, its more than 200 signatories reported no new emissions of CCl4.

NASA Goddard atmospheric scientist Qing Liang: “We are not supposed to be seeing this at all. It is now apparent there are either unidentified industrial leakages, large emissions from contaminated sites, or unknown CCl4 sources.”

And that, dude, ain’t good news on a Monday, or any day, really.

(Illustration out front found here).

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