Tuesday September 29th… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉
Main Topic: Troubled Waters…New Ocean Research Points To Another Tipping Factor
Dear Diary. Before relaying more news on Heatwave Desdemona and western fires, let’s switch things up and discus new ocean research pointing to yet another tipping point. We all know that the surface layer of the oceans is at record warm levels in 2020. If you took introductory physics and/or chemistry you may know that if the surface of a liquid is warmer than its deeper layers, it is stable and not likely to mix.
New research suggests that for our ocean climate this can be a very bad thing, since warmer seas are less apt take uptake more carbon pollution. Here is more from Inside Climate News as introduced by Dr. Michael Mann:
For another perspective here is a Guardian article:
How our warmer oceans are contributing to climate breakdown
A more stable ocean sounds idyllic, but it creates a dangerous feedback loop for our warming planet
Warm ocean surface waters may be the reason for recent typhoons and hurricanes in the US. Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP
Humans have made the oceans more stable, and the result will be more extreme weather and the acceleration of climate change.
You may have heard the phrase “hot air rises”. And it is true: when you heat up air, the warmed air wants to rise, like a hot-air balloon. The rising motion is caused by the changing density of the air, a process scientists refer to as buoyancy.
The same thing is true in the oceans. Warm water is less dense than cold waters. In oceans, water tends to stratify, with warmer, less dense water sitting atop colder, more dense water. We refer to this as a “stable” configuration.
Sometimes the waters are not stable. For example, the upper waters of the ocean can suddenly become heavier. This causes the water to fall from the surface towards the ocean floor. Waters near the ocean floor are then brought up to the surface where mixing occurs.
Not only does water move up and down in the ocean, but currents flow around the world horizontally as well.
The upward and downward motions are common in the North Atlantic, the north Pacific, and in the Indian and Southern oceans. It turns out these water currents have major effects on the entire ocean, as well as the weather.
How would ocean water near the surface suddenly become more heavy? It is to do with the saltiness of the water. The saltier the water is, the more dense it is. Fresher waters are less dense. When warm water forms the top level of the ocean, evaporation of liquid water into the air removes water molecules and increases the saltiness of the water, which then causes the water to fall and mixing to occur. So mixing is affected by both temperature and saltiness.
A new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, of which I was one of the authors, used new techniques to analyse ocean waters using a large collection of data from around the world.
The paper shows that the stratification of the oceans – less dense waters sitting above more dense water – is increasing. In other words, the oceans are become more stable, with less “up-and-down” motion.
The team has shown that the ocean stability has increased by 5.36% in the upper 6,310 metres (20,700ft) of the oceans over the past 50 to 60 years. Our paper shows some of the increased stability of the oceans is due to a warmer ocean surface because of greenhouse gases and human-caused global heating.
But why should we care? This is the big question. Does a more stable ocean matter for humans?
It does, and we will feel the effects. First, when warm waters sit at the ocean surface, they affect weather, particularly typhoons and hurricanes. In fact, warm ocean surface water provides the fuel for these large storms.
A warmer ocean, then, is less able to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Consequently, more of the carbon dioxide we emit will remain in the atmosphere, which will lead to more warming.
In addition, a more stable ocean is less efficient at moving nutrients through its waters. This means animals that require the flow of nutrient-rich waters could be at risk.
There is a final risk – one related to more severe implications in the future. The more stable oceans mean we expect the Earth to warm faster in future because of the weakening mixing that penetrates down to deep oceans, and the lower capability of the ocean to absorb carbon dioxide.
In a terrible twist of fate, the warming we have caused in the past has resulted in a more stable ocean, and that will increase future warming – a feedback loop that keeps getting stronger.
It is not all doom and gloom. The good news is we know why the climate is changing and we know how the oceans are responding. We can do something about this problem – we have the ability to slow down climate change. We just lack the will and leadership.
But if 2020 has shown us anything, it has revealed that humans can change and adapt quickly to situations. There is hope that we can navigate the challenges resulting from a more stable ocean – but we must start immediately.
The day after the election …
… the US withdraws from the Paris climate accord, on 4 November. Five years ago nearly 200 countries committed to a collective global response to tackle the climate crisis. But when Donald Trump took office he announced that the US would leave the Paris agreement. On the one issue that demands a worldwide response to help safeguard the Earth for future generations, the US has chosen to walk away. The president is playing politics with the climate crisis – the most defining issue of our time.
The stakes could scarcely be higher and with your help we can put this issue at the center of our 2020 election coverage. The election will be a referendum on the future of democracy, racial justice, the supreme court and so much more. But hovering over all of these is whether the US will play its role in helping take collective responsibility for the future of the planet.
The period since the Paris agreement was signed has seen the five hottest years on record. If carbon emissions continue substantial climate change is unavoidable. The most impacted communities will also be the most vulnerable. Instead of helping lead this discussion the White House prefers to roll back environmental protections to placate the fossil fuel industry.
High-quality journalism that is grounded in science will be critical for raising awareness of these dangers and driving change. You’ve read more than 29 articles in the last year. Because we believe every one of us deserves equal access to fact-based news and analysis, we’ve decided to keep Guardian journalism free for all readers, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay. This is made possible thanks to the support we receive from readers across America in all 50 states.
If you can, support the Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.
And more links on this subject:
Today I will be listing items from California’s dire fire and Heatwave Desdemona situation below. The most recent items, which I will be updating frequently, will be at the top of this list:
Here are some hot “ET’s” recorded Tuesday from Heatwave Desdemona:
Here is more climate and weather news from Tuesday:
(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)
Now here are some of today’s articles and notes on the horrid COVID-19 pandemic:
(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.)
Guy Walton “The Climate Guy”