The arctic air temperature is 36 degrees F warmer than normal
November 18, 2016 6:48 PM   Subscribe

As the Arctic settles into polar night, scientists are noticing that something has gone horribly wrong. Sea ice levels in at the North Pole are at a record low—but even more startlingly, air temperatures are 36° F (20° C) higher than normal across the region. At the same time, north-central Asia is experiencing equally abnormal temperatures, but in the opposite direction. There’s a cold spell looming over Siberia.
posted by Ostara (55 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
This, by the way, is the biggest proof that this is a greenhouse effect going on.

No other phenomenon will cause the poles to warm faster than the tropics.
posted by ocschwar at 7:02 PM on November 18, 2016 [9 favorites]


This is fine.
posted by Rumple at 7:05 PM on November 18, 2016 [22 favorites]


Relax, it's just those goofy Chinese, hoaxing us again...
posted by anguspodgorny at 7:05 PM on November 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


I just can't anymore...
posted by AJScease at 7:10 PM on November 18, 2016


I'm going to fight until there's no fight left, but dammit, I'm glad I do not have kids.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 7:12 PM on November 18, 2016 [39 favorites]


So, how fucked are we? In the precise technical terms of climatology: totally fucked. Super fucked. Our best shot at "only" staring down the barrel at tens to hundreds of millions of dead and displaced was lost on the 8th. Mark my words, it's gonna be billions.
posted by tclark at 7:23 PM on November 18, 2016 [17 favorites]


The scope of the implications of the incoming administration are legion and cover many topics, but none of them will be more disastrous than what they plan on doing re: climate change. Horrifying. And yes, no kids.
posted by hippybear at 7:30 PM on November 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


Us crazy millennials, we got too many trophies when we were young so now we are upset that we will experience catastrophic temperature changes as we grow old.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:33 PM on November 18, 2016 [56 favorites]


My first encounter with existential dread about the future of life on this planet was sudden and sure, with my reading, at age 10, in 1962, of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. As a real nature boy, I was devastated. Just a couple of decades later, the oil companies and some scientists were to begin to signal the Silent Alarm about climate change. However, most of us plebes were not to be informed about it on a regular basis until, what, about twenty years ago?

In any case: 36 degrees? I've been Silently Crying for a couple of days since I read this stat. God help us.

Regarding kids, I have one. She's a Millennial, and a scientist. (Neuro-, but, still...) Her generation is more committed to healing the world than mine was, I think. We were pretty focused on the War in Vietnam and identity politics, for better or for worse.
posted by kozad at 7:40 PM on November 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


no kids

Hey, could we not? Many of us do have kids, and this whistling past the graveyard crap that might make you feel better does not actually help. Shit, if there were more kids than boomers voting we might not be facing quite the same level of climate catastrophe that the Trump administration is promising.

Also, the states will take up the slack. Just ask Washington, Hawaii, California, fucking Vermont, Florida, and on and on about their energy policies and promotion of renewables. It's not a cure but it's a big step in the right direction. We have to keep the damned pressure on as the evidence keeps piling up. It's never too late, because it can always get worse. This is strong evidence that needs to be used as pressure on our officials, publicly traded companies, and citizens to do more and faster.
posted by Existential Dread at 7:42 PM on November 18, 2016 [75 favorites]


The effects of climate change are really noticeable up here at latitude 65. Usually by mid-November it's below zero F consistently. This year, it's been in the teens so far all winter. We only just got temps in the single digits (F, so -20ish C) this week. (Ok, there was one day a month or so ago where it hit -2, but then it warmed right up again.) And we've got maaaybe 3 inches of snow. Fairbanks is an arctic desert, sure, but this is absurd. Usually there's at least enough snow to ski on. It's just bizarre. Last year, temps in Fairbanks didn't even hit -30F. Usually it gets at least to -40F and sometimes colder. It's freaky. It *could* just be seasonal variation...but probably not.
posted by leahwrenn at 7:43 PM on November 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


Some data on arctic wide warmth
posted by leahwrenn at 7:47 PM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


So, how fucked are we? In the precise technical terms of climatology: totally fucked. Super fucked. Our best shot at "only" staring down the barrel at tens to hundreds of millions of dead and displaced was lost on the 8th. Mark my words, it's gonna be billions.

turbofucked is the technical term
posted by Sebmojo at 8:11 PM on November 18, 2016 [14 favorites]


While it's bad, it's not quite as bad as the raw statistic makes it sound. The thing is, we are used to a pattern where the circumpolar vortex keeps a pool of supercold air confined in the arctic during the winter. In the last few years we have seen the vortex destabilize though; this has been the cause of several massive cold fronts sweeping through the US, including two that shut down New Orleans with subfreezing ice storms such as we haven't seen since the 19th century.

But the flipside of that is that if the supercold air isn't contained over the arctic ocean, it has to go somewhere. Right now it seems to have landed in Siberia, which probably really sucks if you happen to live in those regions. The worst thing about that air not being over the arctic ocean is the effect on sea ice, because sea ice is a lot more reflective than open water. But the thing about that while the ice is much thinner than it's ever been, thin ice is just as good as thick ice for reflecting IR back out into space. It's a precarious situation, and possibly still on a knife edge, but the temperature anomaly isn't the real story. The real story is ice cover because that determines whether the arctic starts making climate change even worse by absorbing sunlight into open water. That's not really happening yet, but could be Real Soon Now.

Considering the changes we're already seeing in the jet streams, a melted arctic will probably cause all kinds of chaos in global heat transfer. Yes Virginia, it was global warming that froze New Orleans solid for a few days not long ago. The cold air might not be quite as cold as usual but it's still there and very cold and it will go somewhere. And the turbulent boundaries between warm and cold air tend to form storms.

So we're not all going to die next year, but we might get more days off work due to ice on the roads and other nuisances. The militaries are shitting bricks that ordinary ocean traffic might be able to make it through the arctic soon and a few commercial shippers are thinking about the possibilities. Climate change might break that cool canal we built in Panama, but it might open up another even better route between Europe and Asia if the arctic keeps getting warmer. Danger is opportunity, as ever.
posted by Bringer Tom at 8:12 PM on November 18, 2016 [28 favorites]


Yeah, we're toast...
posted by jim in austin at 8:18 PM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


In completely unrelated news, USGS Announces Largest Oil And Gas Deposit Ever Assessed In U.S.

"On Tuesday, the USGS announced that an area known as the Wolfcamp shale contains 20 billion barrels of oil and 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

That is nearly three times more petroleum than the agency found in North Dakota's Bakken shale in 2013.

As NPR's Jeff Brady reported, the amount of oil in the Wolfcamp shale formation is nearly three times the amount of petroleum products used by the entire country in a year.

The USGS says all 20 billion barrels of oil are "technically recoverable," meaning the oil could be brought to the surface "using currently available technology and industry practices.""
posted by Rumple at 8:22 PM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


I have it on good authority that the waters will recede if you scream THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU at them.
posted by delfin at 8:22 PM on November 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


Also really glad that, having followed this unfolding tragedy, I chose not to have children. It's a terrifying situation, and no one can say we weren't given all the information needed to see it coming.
posted by artemisia at 8:30 PM on November 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


Anybody reading this kids' still have better prospects than the vast majority of children born in all of history. Lets stop guilting people with kids!
posted by Justinian at 8:34 PM on November 18, 2016 [29 favorites]


I'm glad we're having kids because it's going to take ten generations of compassionate stewardship if we hope to repair the earth in 1000 years rather than a million after things fall to pieces.
posted by chortly at 8:46 PM on November 18, 2016 [12 favorites]


In other news, here's an octopus in a Miami Beach parking garage.
posted by Daily Alice at 8:53 PM on November 18, 2016 [6 favorites]


Arctic sea ice is losing its bulwark against warming summers. (NASA animation)
posted by storybored at 8:55 PM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's not all bad if you get to meet octopuses after work.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:55 PM on November 18, 2016 [12 favorites]


Thanks, Bringer Tom, for noting the recent cold spells in New Orleans. However reports of "most extreme X [temperature, precipitation, etc.] in Y years" all mean *this extreme happened before*. Thus *by itself*, any such example doesn't make the case that we are in a fundamentally new climate era. I am an ardent enviro and as horrified as everyone commenting in this thread about the overall reality, just disappointed at the frequent use of "worst in Y years" formulation to make the case.
posted by twsf at 8:58 PM on November 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


2016 is a very, very, very bad year to decide to read Heinlein's Year of the Jackpot.
posted by Sequence at 9:03 PM on November 18, 2016 [6 favorites]


2016 is a very, very, very bad year

QFMFT
posted by hippybear at 9:05 PM on November 18, 2016 [19 favorites]


This was my attempt to get people thinking about it. (Medium, self-link)
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:22 PM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


The historical graph of global sea ice cover suggests that something qualitatively different is happening.
posted by Rumple at 9:38 PM on November 18, 2016 [14 favorites]


Fighting climate change in the Trump era
California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington have signed onto a spinoff of the Paris Climate Agreement. It's called the Under 2 Memorandum of Understanding, or Under 2 MOU for short.

"Under 2" stands for two goals:
  1. under 2 degrees Celsius of global warming, and
  2. under 2 tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted per person per year.
These states have agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 80-95% below 1990 levels by 2050. We've also agreed to share technology and scientific research, expand use of zero-emission vehicles, etc., etc.

And the Under 2 MOU Coalition includes more than just US states... It includes regions and cities around the world!
also btw... re: kids - "As a strategy for dealing with climate change, forgoing kids is garbage. Let me explain... children are not simply inputs to economic production — they're also part of why society exists in the first place." :P
posted by kliuless at 10:40 PM on November 18, 2016 [43 favorites]


Here in Tennessee, our summer lasted well into November. I'm not sure what that means, but it probably isn't good. Last year, we had the warmest, sunniest Christmas in memory. Ugh...
posted by ELF Radio at 11:14 PM on November 18, 2016


Mod note: Getting some flags in here, so just to put a cap on further squabbling, let's leave off with kids / no kids thing. It's a tedious-as-hell irritable derail that we get in every one of these climate change threads, so let's drop it.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:13 AM on November 19, 2016 [21 favorites]


I realized yesterday that with the outsized influence of the United States (population 300m) and Presidential elections (120m total votes) less than 1% of the worlds population told the other 99% to die as painfully and tragically as possible.
posted by Glibpaxman at 3:20 AM on November 19, 2016 [12 favorites]


The “We the People” petitions website operated by the White House removed a petition Tuesday afternoon for Trump to oust climate-change skeptic Myron Ebell from his transition team. The petition had nearly received 100,000 signatures, the threshold for receiving a response from the White House.
posted by adamvasco at 5:17 AM on November 19, 2016 [16 favorites]


Thus *by itself*, any such example doesn't make the case that we are in a fundamentally new climate era.

What most people don't realize is that we don't have to be in a fundamentally new climate era for the weather to be really wacky. Right now masses of air are moving around in unfamiliar ways, but that's just because our familiarity doesn't go that far back. In the 19th century it was common for natural ice floes to be navigational hazards in the Mississippi River at New Orleans in the winter; that has been unheard of in the 20th century, largely because of the tight circumpolar jet stream. On the other hand we broke the record high temperature ever recorded every single day in October this year. But we've only been keeping those records for a century or so, and we know from human history, tree rings, and ice cores that there have been some comparatively extreme swings in the more distant past that did not in fact portend the end of the world.
posted by Bringer Tom at 5:34 AM on November 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


...less than 1% of the worlds population told the other 99% to die as painfully and tragically as possible.

While returning positive ROI to investors, of course.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:03 AM on November 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also, the states will take up the slack. Just ask Washington, Hawaii, California, fucking Vermont, Florida, and on and on about their energy policies and promotion of renewables.

As someone who lives in Miami, I wish I had your confidence that Florida will pick up some slack. Some of the specific parts of Florida might, but the state currently has a governor who has banned the term climate change from reports in state agencies.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 6:57 AM on November 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


The Wolfcamp shale discovery would be a fantastic thing if we had gotten over the whole burning our most important resources thing. Oil is a fantastic feedstock for plastics, fertilizers, and all sorts of chemistry. It doesn't have to be used in a way that dumps carbon in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, we continue to burn one of the most useful and versatile things nature has provided us, because many of us are too stubborn to stop.
posted by wierdo at 6:58 AM on November 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


Today there was a 97,385 square kilometer drop in arctic sea ice extent.
posted by MrVisible at 8:29 AM on November 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


Admiral Nelson aboard the Flying Sub suggests we nuke orbit to disperse the flaming radiation belts.
posted by clavdivs at 8:55 AM on November 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


The historical graph of global sea ice cover suggests that something qualitatively different is happening.

Holy shit. That is terrifying.
posted by biogeo at 9:34 AM on November 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Mod note: A few comments deleted. Again, let's leave off the kids/no kids thing. Not saying it's incorrect, just saying it ends up with a repetitive spiral of grouch that we've seen plenty of times here.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:23 PM on November 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


When I worked for Catholic Charities in the 1980s, I ran the office of Emergency Assistance and one of the charges was to assist people with such problems as not being able to pay for their heating. One lesson I learned is that it didn't matter what we did, we were trumped by the political. My office had (in good times) two thousand a month to help with the supplicants' bills. Then Reagan would cut off assistance to the poor for heating oil which would mean hundreds of thousands less. Reagan also suggested the charities could make up for this. Of course, we couldn't. I used to joke/moan that my job involved saying "no" all day.

My point is, people like Bill Gates will do some very worthwhile work inventing vaccines, solving significant world issues and then a single political change can easily more than undo the benefits. Not addressing global warming causes tropical diseases to spread. If Bill Gates wants to save the world, he'll have to go political.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 2:42 PM on November 19, 2016 [11 favorites]


My dad has come around on climate change... finally. When that has happened you know things are bad.
posted by Justinian at 4:05 PM on November 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


Mod note: Hi mississippi, if you have questions or concerns about moderation, the appropriate place to go is to the contact form or to MetaTalk if you can't resolve it via the contact form. In-thread moderation arguments are never appropriate; you've been here a long time so I expect you know that.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 5:34 PM on November 19, 2016


Houston weather is notoriously awful, but we can usually count on cooler dryer evenings by the beginning of October. Not this year. Our October this year had night time temperatures in the upper 70s. That's insane even by our standards. November has been little better with our first legitimate cool front arriving only this week. This has filled me with a real dread, and I'm already worried about next Summer.
posted by Beholder at 6:44 PM on November 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Hi Ya'll, I'm writing this comment to let you know what I've been up to researching climate change and what I can do to fight it. I don't intend to give you hope. With Trump's presidency, assume we are on course for the 4 degrees Celsius warming by 2060. I'll be in my seventies by then. Read up on that, see how terrible it will be, how inevitable it is. The best we can ask for is a delay until 2100. Cry if you must at that. It took a couple of days for me to stop shaking. Afterwards, I had no hope, only determination. I started to research how to work against climate change if you are in the US. We, unfortunately, can only work at a local level right now. I'm still just starting out, but here's some sources of info on efforts that either fellow MeFites have sent me, or I've discovered myself:

-https://350.org/ for some overview of efforts against climate change.
-Clean Air Task Force http://www.catf.us/, an org working in the field right now
-http://citizensclimatelobby.org/ working to introduce a carbon fee in the US across partisan lines. Over 2,200 people have joined in the last 10 days.
- (RPS)? Find out if there's an effort to get one enacted. Are there any organizations working for that? Support them
-Does your state have any efforts to institute a carbon tax? Are there any organizations working on that? Support them.

Join a local effort. I've decided to focus on citizensclimatelobby. This week I also called the California Energy Commission about their efforts to maintain renewable growth after the outcome of the election. I called the renewable office directly, but they directed me to the public relations office. I called and left a message. They left me a message. This coming week I'll try again. That's what you must do. Try again. Next I plan to engage my legislators about renewables. MeFi has lots of advice about how to do that. Aside from calling, make donations to local efforts. Find out what's going on in your home town. That's my next step. They'll know how to direct your efforts.

Engage your friends and neighbors on the issue and let them know what you're doing, and how they can support the effort. If they don't believe in climate change, know that renewables are good for our nation's energy independence and economy. This is something all Americans can be proud of. We lean liberal here, but know that Republicans are working and have worked on the issue too. It is important to give credit where it is due. "The Texas Renewable Portfolio Standard was originally created by Senate Bill 7 and signed by Governor Bush in 1999." Texas has 10% of its electricity coming from wind power. Texans should be proud of that. I was born a Texan and I'm proud of those windmills I see in West Texas. The farmers who lease their land to get wind power income should be proud of that. It's helping our country achieve energy independence. Bill O'Reilly himself thinks Trump should stick to the Paris Climate Agreement. This should not be a liberal vs. conservative issue.

Standard advice about your personal carbon footprint applies, but your efforts are needed too. I plan to continue my own self education and advocacy on this issue. MeMail me if you're interested in discussing this. I'm already MeMailing a couple of fellow MeFites. We might move to regular e-mail at some point. Share information, and get involved locally!

Finally, here's what brought me peace: watching The Solar System, and seeing at the end that it will fade and die out. Everything will pass, it is destiny. I'm a Christian, and lately I became so self involved that I forgot this. What is incumbent on me as a Christian is to help prevent or relieve as much suffering as I can in my lifetime. For climate change that's both mitigation and adaption. Yes, life may continue at even at 8 °C warmer global average temperature than today, but short term it will be brutal with so much human suffering that we must do our best to stop it. As I said, I offer no hope, just determination.
posted by Mister Cheese at 10:38 PM on November 19, 2016 [22 favorites]


Sorry, realized I botched part of my comment. There should be a section of questions to ask and research about for your home state if you live in the US.

- Does you're state have Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)? Find out if there's an effort to get one enacted. Are there any organizations working for that? Support them
-Does your state have any efforts to institute a carbon tax? Are there any organizations working on that? Support them.
posted by Mister Cheese at 12:00 AM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was wondering about the blandness of this article, no mention of climate change or global warming. Then I saw this at the bottom of the page
"Major funding for NOVA is provided by the David H. Koch Fund for Science"

Eco watch puts it like this
North Pole an Insane 36 Degrees Warmer Than Normal as Region Hits Record Low Sea Ice Extent
posted by adamvasco at 4:04 AM on November 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


The arctic has now lost ice, in the middle of November, for three days in a row.

We're more than a million square kilometers beneath the 2012 total for this date, and 2012 was catastrophic.

If we equal the year with the biggest gains on record, that puts us at about a million km2 underneath 2012 for this summer.

At some point, I think we might need to start planning for what to do if we lose the fight against climate change.
posted by MrVisible at 8:24 AM on November 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


think we might need to start planning for what to do if we lose the fight against climate change.

Who's "we"? If you are are American, many of us elsewhere on the planet would be grateful if you go ahead and obstruct, block, sabotage, convince to the contrary, the climate change deniers who rule the roost at your local, state and national levels. And not forgetting your "climate change is a Chinese hoax" president-elect.
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:52 AM on November 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Even if we do all of those things, and do them perfectly, there's a large and growing probability that we actually can't solve this problem. That we've destabilized the atmosphere of our planet to the point where it's no longer inhabitable

This is looking more and more like a problem that we can't solve. The sooner we start planning for what happens when we fail, the more people we'll be able to save.
posted by MrVisible at 12:40 PM on November 20, 2016


Metafilter: A repetitive spiral of grouch.
posted by twsf at 5:04 AM on November 22, 2016


Phil Plait: What the Heck Is Going on at the North Pole?
posted by homunculus at 10:25 PM on November 23, 2016




Shrinking glaciers cause state-of-emergency drought in Bolivia.
posted by adamvasco at 6:12 AM on November 28, 2016


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