Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are accelerating. As illustrated by the image below, a linear trend hardly catches the acceleration, while a polynomial trend does make a better fit. The polynomial trend points at CO₂ levels of 437 ppm by 2026.
|EPA animation: more extreme heat|
Ocean warming is accelerating on the Northern Hemisphere, as illustrated by above image, and a warmer Atlantic Ocean will push ever warmer water into the Arctic Ocean, further speeding up the decline of the sea ice and of permafrost.
|[ click on images to enlarge ]|
|[ for original image, see 2011 AGU poster ]|
A recently-published study warns that permafrost loss is likely to be 4 million km² (about 1.5 million mi²) for each 1°C (1.8°F) temperature rise, about 20% higher than previous studies. Temperatures may well rise even faster, due to numerous self-reinforcing feedback loops that speed up the changes and due to interaction between the individual warming elements behind the changes.
|[ Arctic sea ice, gone by Sept. 2017? ]|
Higher temperatures on land will make warmer water from rivers enter the Arctic Ocean and trigger wildfires resulting in huge emissions including black carbon that can settle on sea ice.
Given the speed at which many feedbacks and the interaction between warming elements can occur, Arctic sea ice volume may decline even more rapidly than the image on the right may suggest.
|[ Record sea ice volume anomalies since end 2016 ]|
Ominously, sea ice volume anomalies have been at record levels for time of year since end 2016 (Wipneus graph right, PIOMAS data).
As the Gulf Stream pushes warmer water into the Arctic Ocean, there will no longer be a large buffer of sea ice there to consume the heat, as was common for the entire human history.
Moreover, forecasts are that temperatures will keep rising throughout 2017 and beyond.
reports that seven of eight models indicate that sea surface temperatures will exceed El Niño thresholds during the second half of 2017.
The image on the right, by the ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts), indicates an El Niño that is gaining strength.
For more than half a year now, global sea ice extent has been way below what it used to be, meaning that a huge amount of sunlight that was previously reflected back into space, is now instead getting absorbed by Earth, as the graph below shows.
|[ Graph by Wipneus ]|
|The Buffer has gone, feedback #14 on the Feedbacks page|
|[ click on image to enlarge ]|
As the image on the right shows, a polynomial trend based on NOAA July 1983 to January 2017 global monthly mean methane data, points at twice as much methane by 2034. Stronger methane releases from the seafloor could make such a doubling occur much earlier.
Meanwhile, methane levels as high as 2592 ppb were recorded on April 17, 2017, as shown by the image below. The image doesn't specify the source of the high reading, but the magenta-colored area over the East Siberian Sea (top right) looks very threatening.
We already are in the Sixth Mass Extinction Event, given the rate at which species are currently disappearing from Earth. When taking into account the many elements that are contributing to warming, a potential warming of 10°C (18°F) could take place, leading to a rapid mass extinction of many species, including humans.
|[ Graph from: Which Trend is Best? ]|
The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as described at the Climate Plan.
• Climate Plan
• How much warming have humans caused?
• Accelerating growth in CO₂ levels in the atmosphere
• An observation-based constraint on permafrost loss as a function of global warming, by Chadburn et al. (2017)
• Reduction of forest soil respiration in response to nitrogen deposition, by Janssens et al. (2010)
• Methane Erupting From Arctic Ocean Seafloor
• Warning of mass extinction of species, including humans, within one decade