Now that the Great Acceleration dictates the biosphere with ever more intensity, sudden changes in the ecosystem are causing climate scientists to stop and ponder what’s happening to our planet, like never before… hmm!
The Great Acceleration: “Only after 1945 did human actions become genuine driving forces behind crucial Earth systems,” (J.R.McNeill/Peter Engelke, The Great Acceleration, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, London, 2014, pg. 208).
Abrupt changes outside the boundaries of natural variability are signs of climate fatigue, Mother Nature overwhelmed, defeated, breaking down. It’s happening fast and faster yet mostly on the fringes of the ecosystem with fewest people, other than, on occasion, a handful of scientists.
For example, for the first time ever, a team of UK scientists discovered 8,000 blue lakes formed in East Antarctica. The suddenness of so many blue lakes on surface surprised and bewildered scientists. (Source: Emily S. Langley, et al, Seasoned Evolution of Supraglacial Lakes on an East Antarctic Outlet Glacier, Geophysical Research Letters, Aug. 24, 2016)
According to the UK team: “Supraglacial lakes are known to influence ice melt and ice flow on the Greenland ice sheet and potentially cause ice shelf disintegration on the Antarctica Peninsula.” That is likely not good news. Antarctica is a continent covered by 200 feet of sea level contained in ice. Heavens to Betsy, until only recently scientists thought East Antarctica was stable!
Meantime, West Antarctica has blown a gasket three times in a row, big-time fractures within only two decades, most recently July 12th, 2017 when one of the largest icebergs of all time broke off Larsen C Ice Shelf. Previously, Larsen B Ice Shelf collapsed in 2002, and before that Larsen A Ice Shelf collapsed in 1995. Now, the National Geographic Atlas is forced to redraw Antarctica.
Larsen C has a big distinction “measuring about 2,200 square miles, it is among the largest icebergs in history to break off from the continent.” (Source: Hannah Lang, Our Antarctica Maps Show the Larsen Ice Shelf’s Stunning Decades-Long Decline, National Geographic, July 15, 2017).
Furthermore “Sea ice in Antarctica has hit a worrisome milestone, reaching its lowest recorded extent this week according to data from the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center. The daily ice area recorded on Tuesday represents an all-time low: 2.25 million square kilometers (872,204 square miles).” (Source: Christina Nunez, Antarctica’s Sea Ice Shrinks to New Record Low, National Geographic, Feb. 15, 2017). Is that global warming hard at work or is it natural variability?
Throughout millennia ice shelf calving is a recognized part of natural variability but then again, it usually happens in geologic time of hundreds-to-thousands-to-millions of years rather than Great Acceleration time with three massive fractures in only two decades. That’s ice sheets in the Indy 500.
Another nasty big time wake-up call, hidden monster of the depths, is thawing permafrost. Russian scientists have identified 7,000 “alternative pingos” in Siberia (Source: “Russian Scientists Find 7,000 Siberian Hills Possibly Filled with Explosive Gas,” The Washington Post, March 27, 2017). Vladimir E. Romanovsky, geophysicist at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks claims: “This is really a new thing to permafrost science. It has not been reported in the literature before,” Romanovsky estimates there could be as many as 100,000 “alternative pingos” across the entire Arctic permafrost.
Additionally, there is new evidence of threat by subsea permafrost, which could set off Runaway Global Warming (“RGW”) recently revealed in an interview with Dr. Natalia Shakhova and Dr. Igor Semiletov (International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Akasofu Building, Fairbanks, Alaska) about their paper published in Nature Communication Journal, Current Rates and Mechanisms of Subsea Permafrost Degradation in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, Article No. 15872 June 22, 2017. This is esoteric research that is not found in typical models of future climate behavior. It is an example of what can go wrong much faster than ever anticipated.
According to Dr. Shakova: “As we showed in our articles, in the ESAS (East Siberian Arctic Shelf), in some places, subsea permafrost is reaching the thaw point. In other areas it could have reached this point already. And what can happen then? The most important consequence could be in terms of growing methane emissions… a linear trend becomes exponential. This edge between it being linear and becoming exponential is very fine and lies between frozen and thawed states of subsea permafrost. This is what we call the turning point…. Following the logic of our investigation and all the evidence that we accumulated so far, it makes me think that we are very near this point. And in this particular point, each year matters. This is the big difference between being on the linear trend where hundreds and thousands of years matter, and being on the exponential where each year matters.”
According to Dr. Shakova, only a fraction of the gas emissions released from subsea permafrost of ESAS is enough to “alter the climate on our planet drastically.” That prognostication is nastier than regular nasty wake-up calls. It fits the prescription for colossal temperature increases of up to 15-18 degrees and massive agricultural burn off within only 10 years as suggested by a group of scientists that think outside the box, non-mainstreamers.
Speaking of various types of permafrost (1) permafrost in ESAS subsea, or (2) permafrost on land in Siberia, or (3) Alaska permafrost there’s a new discovery that is spooky, downright spooky. Aircraft measurements of CO2 and CH4, as well as confirmation of those measurements from scientific measuring devices on towers in Barrow, Alaska show that over the course of two years Alaska emitted the equivalent of 220 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from biological sources alone, not anthropogenic (Source: Elaine Hannah, Alaska’s Thawing Soils Cause Huge Carbon Dioxide Emissions Into The Air, Science World Report, May 12, 2017).
That is equivalent to all the emissions from the U.S. commercial sector per annum. Why is that happening? Alaska is hot, that’s why, and it may be a climate tipping point that self-perpetuates global warming, no human hands needed, or in the nasty colloquial, the start of Runaway Global Warming. That’s as bad as nasty climate wake-up calls get, nature overtaking anthropogenic global warming duties.
What could be worse than incipient Runaway Global Warming?
Answer: Impending Nuclear War.