Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Match to Gasoline. Another Climate Change Surprise.

The match is lightning. The gasoline is the rich, peat-like fuel we still call tundra even as it is thawing and drying out.  Beneath the tundra lies permafrost that holds massive amounts of greenhouse gases, both CO2 and methane.

We're all familiar with lightning and thunderstorms. They're pretty common in our latitudes with our warm and humid atmosphere. What makes them common at our latitude is what has made them extremely rare in the northern latitudes of the Arctic. Until now.

The US National Weather Service in Alaska has detected lightning at the north pole.
The lightning at the North Pole was observed after climate experts have spent weeks recording higher-than-average temperatures in the Arctic. The warming globe is causing sea ice in the region to disappear at a higher rate than ever recorded, as Common Dreams reported last month. The melting ice in turn is contributing to a warmer Arctic. 
As the Washington Post reported, the lighting denotes "that the atmosphere near the pole was unstable enough, with sufficient warm and moist air in the lower atmosphere, to give rise to thunderstorms." 
"The probability of this kind of event occurring would increase as the sea ice extent retreats farther and farther north in the summertime," Alex Young, a meteorologist with the NWS in Fairbanks, told Wired.

Before the lightning was recorded, climate scientists were concerned about wildfires that have been burning in Greenland for more than a month. 
"The lightning strikes near the North Pole come during one of the most extreme Arctic ice melt years on record," the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang tweeted, summarizing meteorologists' alarm over recent weather in the planet's far northern region. "There's currently no sea ice in Alaskan waters, and Arctic-wide sea ice is plummeting to one of the five lowest levels on record."
...UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain warned that lightning strikes in the Arctic could be part of a new pattern of climate changes as the planet's sea ice continue to melt. 
"Scientists already knew the Arctic was going to change much more rapidly than the rest of the world, and yet we've still been surprised at the rate of change we've been observing," Swain told Wired. "I think there's potential for nasty surprises coming out of the Arctic."
This summer has also witnessed the spread of wildfires deep inside the Arctic Circle. A small amount of smoke from fires in Siberia reached British Columbia.


Northern PoV said...

The Siberian fire was bigger than the EU apparently.
The trigger for Runaway Global Warming? Or was that last year?
But don't think twice it's alright.

The Mound of Sound said...

Who knows, NPoV? It is beginning to feel that we're no longer the master of all we survey. More like we're now just along for the ride. It's a bit disturbing.

Anonymous said...

According to Brian Giesbrecht....a retired Judge, who posted his hype in papers in Alberta this morning...August, 14, 2019. "the melting of ice in our Canadian North is a good thing for Canada. Canada exports huge amount of water to the United States and all over the world. Whole lakes are shipped in every direction by means of our vast and efficient agricultural system. And the world is a better place because of it." He goes on to say, "Canadians should begin to look at water as a commodity - the blue gold that it is. And our water - our blue gold- can make us rich." Make who rich? This indicates Mr. Judge Brian doesn't know the first thing about what is happening in the North. Although our resources are large, from 1971 to 2004 the freshwater supply decreased in southern Canada, where 98% of the population lives. Over the same period, water yield, or the average annual renewable freshwater supply, fell by 9%. Annually, this represents an average loss of 3.5 billion cubic metres, the equivalent of 1.4 million Olympic-sized swimming pools—almost as much water as was supplied to Canada's entire residential population in 2005.

Water yield is the result of precipitation and melted ice that flow over and under the ground, eventually reaching rivers and lakes. For most of the country, water yield peaks in the spring as snow and ice melt and precipitation increases, whereas demand for water increases in the summer. The Mendocino Cannabis Policy Council, along with the Emerald Growers Association, has polled numerous cannabis cultivators about their water usage.Using Fish and Wildlife numbers, which most farmers consider too high, six gallons a day for the peak growing season of 150 days of summer means 900 gallons per plant, which is the same as a 3.75-pound plant for 240 days in our 1:1:1 formula, which would require about two gallons per eighth-ounce. If there were 400 sun-grown plants in an acre, 26,000 plants need 65 acres. If one were allowed to grow 400 plants per acre using 900 gal per plant it would need 360,000 gal per acre per season or 1.1 acre feet water. One doesn't have to wonder why the City of Medicine Hat has reduced the watering of Parks and green spaces. Mr. needs to get himself on the correct curve regarding "water". Anyong

John's aghast said...

A bit disturbing! Makes my switch to an EV seem a fruitless gesture.
But it's not all bad. Means I can't afford to winter in Mexico and that
flight will save a little GHG too.

The Mound of Sound said...

My god, Anyong, I can only imagine how such an ideologue performed on the bench. However, it is Alberta. I wonder if he knows that the Wild Rose is water insecure.

The Mound of Sound said...

Hey, John, what did you get? What sort of range?