New computer is ordered – won’t be here till next week, and given my work/travel schedule, it will take a week or so to get set up. For now, limping along – but I was glad to  find this lecture and QA from Stefan Rahmstorf on the mysterious “cold blob” and impacts on the Gulf stream.  My video on the issue at bottom.

Stefan Rahmstorf in RealClimate:

What is the cause of the cold blob?

In principle, there can be two reasons for a change in ocean temperature: heat exchange through the surface or heat transports within the ocean. Halldór Björnsson of the Icelandic weather service showed in his lecture on Saturday that the short-term temperature fluctuations from year to year correlate with the heat exchange through the sea surface, but that this does not explain the longer-term development of the ‘cold blob’ over decades. He concluded that the latter is caused by changes in the North Atlantic ocean circulation, also called the Gulf Stream System. That’s exactly what one expects. Weather dominates the short-term fluctuations, but the ocean currents dominate the long-term development.

One suggestion that had been made some years ago – that the cooling may be caused by shading the sun by aerosol pollution – did not show up in the discussion on Saturday. In the scientific literature that idea was rapidly contradicted at the time, for good reasons (we discussed this in more detail in our paper).

What evidence speaks for a slowdown of the Gulf Stream System?

The basic problem is the lack of direct, continuous measurements of the key circulation in the Atlantic, the so-called AMOC (Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation). Such measurements are only available since 2004 through a series of moorings at 26°N (RAPID project). For the longer term development, one must therefore use indirect indicators of the flow.

My colleagues Mihai Dima and Gerrit Lohmann of the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany in a 2010 study analysed the patterns of changes in global sea surface temperatures. They were the first to conclude that the AMOC has been weakening since the 1930’s. The evidence for this is the trend towards cooling in the subpolar North Atlantic which anti-correlates with temperatures in the South Atlantic (suggesting reduced heat transport from the South Atlantic to the North Atlantic). In addition, Dima and Lohmann found an anti-correlation to the temperatures off the US East Coast, to the south-west of the ‘cold blob’. This is not seen in Fig. 1 above, since the NASA data use a smoothing radius of 1200 km, but you can see it, for example, in the currently high temperatures in Fig. 2.

The latest high resolution simulations of the GFDL in Princeton show precisely this pattern in response to a CO2 increase in the atmosphere (discussed more in this RealClimate post). In the model the cause is a slowdown of the Gulf Stream system. There are also coral data from the Gulf of Maine off the US coast, which indicate a similar time evolution of water mass changes there as the ‘cold blob’ (discussed further in the same post).

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Above, Eminem’s new “Campaign Speech”.  There is nothing wrong with your screen.
***NSFW*** Audio.

Robinson Meyer in the Atlantic:

Lately I’ve been thinking back to something that John Kerry told The Atlantic’s editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, earlier this year. Asked about the importance of the Middle East to the United States, Kerry answered entirely about the Islamic State.

“Imagine what would happen if we don’t stand and fight [ISIS],” he said:

If we didn’t do that, you could have allies and friends of ours fall. You could have a massive migration into Europe that destroys Europe, leads to the pure destruction of Europe, ends the European project, and everyone runs for cover and you’ve got the 1930s all over again, with nationalism and fascism and other things breaking out. Of course we have an interest in this, a huge interest in this.

The 1930s all over again—Kerry was laying out a prediction in April, but it soundsa little more like description now. Even if America’s current dunderheaded demagogue loses the presidential election, the European project already falters in the United Kingdom, and Russia rumbles with revanchism. Fueled now (as then) by an ailing global economy, far-right nationalism seems ascendant worldwide. It’s hard not to think of the 1930s as the catastrophe which presaged our contemporary tragicomedy.

I write and report on climate change, not a pursuit that usually encourages optimism, but watching all this unfold with the atmosphere in mind has been particularly bleak. For the past few months in particular, I’ve been thinking: Wow, this is all happening way earlier than I thought it would.Spend enough time with some of the worst-case climate scenarios, and you may start to assume, as I did, that a major demagogue would contest the presidency in the next century. I figured that the catastrophic consequences of planetary warming would all but ensure the necessary conditions for such a leader, and I imagined their support coming from a movement motivated by ethnonationalism, economic stagnation, and hatred of immigrants and refugees. I pictured, in other words, something not so far from Trump 2016.

I just assumed it wouldn’t pop up until 2040.

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I included interviews here with David Barber, one of the truly important experts in the area, that I conducted on the first leg of this year’s crowd funded Dark Snow Field work, at a meeting in Lund, Sweden.

You’ll also see Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center

Important points: although this year did not set a new record low for sea ice minimum, the kind of ice loss we did see, and the mechanism of that loss, show that, even in a year when the months of greatest insolation, july and august, were not particularly conducive to melt, we can still see dramatic losses.

Also, important fun fact – although we generally assume that since the ice is melting, it automatically makes human endeavors in polar regions easier and safer. Not so.
Barber points out some counterintuitive processes that make the arctic more unpredictable, and at least for now, just as challenging if not more so than in the past.

I included Andy Lee Robinson’s terrific 3-d graph of sea ice melt in passing, but did not have the most recent version in time for this piece, so am posting that below. Read the rest of this entry »

Actually, misnomer, it’s not the farts we worry about, its the burps.  In any case, they are an important source of greenhouse gases.

Could there be a solution from an unexpected source?

The Conversation:

When Canadian farmer Joe Dorgan noticed about 11 years ago that cattle in a paddock by the sea were more productive than his other cows, he didn’t just rediscover an Ancient Greek and Icelandic practice.

While the Ancient Greeks didn’t have to contend with global warming, it turns out that this practice could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 21st-century livestock farming.

Cows and sheep produce methane, a greenhouse gas that is 28 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Despite misconceptions, most cow methane comes from burps (90%) rather than farts (10%). Livestock produce the equivalent of 5% of human-generated greenhouse gases each year, or five times Australia’s total emissions.

Dorgan’s cattle were eating storm-tossed seaweed. Canadian researchers Rob Kinley and Alan Fredeen have since found that seaweed not only helped improve the cows’ health and growth, but also reduced their methane production by about 20%.

This and other lines of evidence led Kinley, who by then had moved to CSIRO, to team up with other CSIRO scientists and marine algae specialists at James Cook University to test a wide range of seaweeds.

They tested 20 seaweed species and found that they reduce methane production in test-tube samples from cow stomachs by anything from zero to 50%. But to do this required high amounts of seaweed (20% by weight of the sample) which was likely to present digestion issues for animals.

But when the researchers tested a particular type of seaweed collected from Queensland’s coastal waters, they thought their instruments were broken and ran the tests again. It turns out that Asparagopsis taxiformis reduces methane production by more than 99% in the lab. And unlike other seaweeds where the effect diminishes at low doses, this species works at doses of less than 2%.

Asparagopsis produces a compound called bromoform (CHBr₃), which prevents methane production by reacting with vitamin B12 at the last step. This disrupts the enzymes used by gut microbes that produce methane gas as waste during digestion.

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Be careful what you wish for.

I’ve been quiet lately because I’m in Miami Beach for the King Tide flooding, and spending a lot of time in the field shooting.

Torrential Tropical rain hit Miami tonight during high tide, on the eve of the year’s highest tide predicted for tomorrow morning.  All over Miami beach, streets were overflowing their curbs with storm water, as saturday night revelers sought shelter in buildings and under overhangs.

I’ll be out on the streets with camera in the am.

The video above from 2010 is relevant to the current debate because in it, I featured clips from Trump crush “Obama is a demon” Alex Jones, who was already an internet star focusing on right wing conspiracies and climate denial.

It’s clear with the benefit of hindsight that today’s “alt-right” crypto fascist faction of the Republican party was birthed, at least in part, in the fossil fuel funded fever swamps of climate change denial.

A relevant example in current news is the way the right wing is making use of emails hacked from the Democratic party and Clinton campaign staffers.


Conservative media outlets are fabricating the claim that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton “hates everyday Americans” based on a blatant misinterpretation of a leaked email.

Citing a hacked email from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta that was released by WikiLeaks, conservative outlets like Infowars, the Drudge Report, WND, and Gateway Pundit claimed to have proof that Clinton “hates everyday Americans,” when the email in question is clearly about the phrase “everyday Americans,” not actual people. Infowars has since seemingly deleted its article, and Drudge, who was originally linking to the grossly inaccurate Infowars story, is now instead linking to a Daily Caller story that makes clear the discussion was about the cliche “everyday Americans.”

Rush Limbaugh ran with the story on his radio show claiming that in the email Podesta was “admitting that Hillary Clinton has begun to hate everyday Americans.

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I pointed out months ago that climate impacts in Florida could have an impact in swinging Republican climate deniers around – because any pathway to the Presidency becomes difficult, if not impossible, for GOP without Florida.

Al Gore is of course, always well briefed. In his appearance yesterday with Hillary Clinton at a post-Mathew Florida rally, Gore warned as usual of climate change, and Hillary joined in – here, AP fact checks the statements.

AP quotes MIT’s Kerry Emanuel, you can see my interview with Dr. Emanuel and others, above. Below, recent discussions on weather v climate, which if you have not seen, do so now.

AP Fact Check:

MIAMI (AP) — During a campaign rally in Miami Tuesday, Hillary Clinton said Hurricane Matthew was “likely more destructive because of climate change.”

Clinton was campaigning alongside former Vice President Al Gore, who has become a leading climate change activist since leaving politics. She said near record high ocean temperatures “contributed to the torrential rainfall and the flash flooding” from the storm, particularly in the Carolinas.

Clinton also said that rising sea levels mean Matthew’s “storm surge was higher and the flooding was more severe.”

THE FACTS: Clinton is generally right in a big picture way, but scientists who study hurricanes and climate change were not quite as comfortable when it comes to attributing significantly worse harm from a single storm like Matthew.

MIT meteorology professor Kerry Emanuel, an expert on hurricanes and climate, called Clinton’s assessment “a simplification of the truth.”

Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami, said the signs of climate change are only seen in “the long-term average.” Clinton’s statement, he said, was “a little bit strongly worded for a single event.”

But as for the storm surge being worse, Emanuel called that a “no brainer” because sea level is higher.

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