Climate models of the past failed to take into account how permafrost thaw and a warming Antarctica and Arctic could accelerate global warming issues.
While I’ve been writing about the Coronavirus recently since it’s a pressing global event, there’s another under-reported event happening that I’d like to discuss with you today.
A recent study published on Monday in Nature Geoscience says projections of how much carbon would be released by this kind of slow-and-steady thawing overlook a less well-known process whereby certain types of icy terrain disintegrate suddenly. But it is Antarctica having a weird period in the Winter of 2020.
When Greta Thunberg is dueling with Trump, it’s also because a few climate models are now predicting an unprecedented and alarming spike in temperatures — perhaps as much as 5 degrees Celsius.
So why should that matter to me, you are thinking. Consider this, on February 7th it was warmer in Antarctica than it was in Louisiana and Florida! That’s not normal, by the way.
A new record was just set of 18.3 degrees Celsius, which for us in America is 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Nobody much cares about a hashtag as obscure as #Antarctica2020, am I right? But nature is telling us our time on the planet is about to change.
Antarctica just registered its hottest temperature ever and a zoonotic transmission of a new virus is the planet’s way of saying things will change.
We have to consider what events like this mean for the big picture of humanity’s place in the galaxy and our long-term survival. A species can become extinct rather abruptly even after having a successful journey through the gates of survival. Humanity appears to be at a reckoning point.
The new record overtook the older one that was recorded by the Argentine research base Esperanza, which is located on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Melt in Antarctica is also accentuating due to warmer water.
“The reading is impressive as it’s only five years since the previous record was set and this is almost one degree centigrade higher,” James Renwick, a climate scientist at Victoria University of Wellington, told The Guardian.
The entire ecosystem is connected, of course. The evidence is mixed as to whether this not-so-permanent permafrost has started to vent significant quantities of methane or CO2. However whether Siberia, the Arctic or Antarctica, the signs in 2020 do not look good. The virus. if it’s a pandemic, will be a not so subtle reminder that our way of life isn’t necessarily healthy.
You see, I don’t see these three events as isolated incidents. I see the Planet is trying to tell us something.
#Antártida | Nuevo récord de temperaturas 🌡️
Este mediodía la Base #Esperanza registró un nuevo récord histórico (desde 1961) de temperatura, con 18,3°C. Con este valor se supera el récord anterior de 17,5°C del 24 en marzo de 2015. Y no fue el único récord… pic.twitter.com/rhKsPFytCb
— SMN Argentina (@SMN_Argentina) February 6, 2020
One Tweet can put the world on notice. But the real world is changing.
Temperatures on the Antarctic continent have risen by almost 3C over the past 50 years. In the next 10 years this should accelerate further. This is very fast considering what the Planet considers “time”. Remember that Antarctica contains around 90 percent of all of the ice on Earth — enough to raise sea levels another 200 feet.
The climate is changing, yet so many still believe that it’s not or that it’s just a hoax. People are afraid of a new virus but not what the Planet is telling us in not so subtle hints. Entire generations have been idle about this problem, which is scaling to conditions that could impact the future global economy.
The amount of ice lost annually from the Antarctic ice sheet increased at least six-fold between 1979 and 2017. People aren’t good at long-term dangers. We don’t prioritize what doesn’t cause panic and immediate concern, in a world where politicians are bribed, corruption is rampant and the ultra wealthy don’t want to lose their kingdoms, always wanting more influence.
Last July, the Arctic region hit its own record temperature of 21C, logged by a base at the northern tip of Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic. If both sides of the world are showing such radical signs of temperature change, we have to prepare for rising sea levels much faster than previously anticipated.
The reality is for my generation of GenZ, a handful of climate projections are predicting much higher rise in global temperatures than scientists have seen in previous models. We used to worry about 2 degree changes, but what about 5 degrees?
A 2-degree rise in temperature could lead sea level to jump, coral reefs to die, and water to become dangerously scarce in some parts of the world. Some models right now predict a 5-degree rise (Bloomberg).
Climate migration, dire economic impacts and oceans changing are just some of the scenarios we’ll see within our lifetime, not to mention the usual new super storms, forest fires and so forth, basically worse each decade. So whose models are these?
The Dark Side of Climate Change Models
A higher warming estimate “probably isn’t the right answer,” said Klaus Wyser, senior researcher at the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute. His model produced a result of about 4.3°C warming, a 30% jump over its previous update. Scientists are of course urging caution.
These academics aren’t doomsday conspiracy leaders, you know. About a fifth of new climate-model results published in the past year have indicated similarly stark global temperature spikes, according to Bloomberg. The UK based Met Office Hadley Centre predicted 5.5 degrees of warming, the US Department of Energy calculated a 5.3° degree jump, French scientists estimated a 4.9 degree increase, and a model from Canadian scientists predicted the largest rise: 5.6 degrees.
Like the new virus, we don’t fully understand or know what we are up against. The changes of the models show just how naive we have been all along.
The climate models estimate “climate sensitivity,” which tells scientists how much warmer the planet will get as a result of rising CO₂ concentrations. For four decades, the expected temperature rise if CO2 levels double has been about 3 degrees.
The Paris accord of 2015, just 5 years ago, where countries pledged to reduce carbon emissions in order to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees, now seems totally out of date and nearly irrelevant. We’ve already passed those thresholds of inaction.
Volcanoes below Antarctica’s Ice sheet could blow, thus making for what would occur in hundreds of years occur almost immediately. This however, is not common knowledge.
If you are a coral reef, a penguin or a polar bear or someone born after 2040, your life could be very different. Nature is warning us and we’re more afraid of pandemics than the outcome of our own species for our children.
Two researchers recently suggested that the world is currently on a pathway to warm 3°C by 2100. But that estimate could be as low as 1.9°C or as high as 4.4°C, depending on how sensitive the real world climate turns out to actually be. Time will tell, but people are in for some karma.