Climate clippings 194

1. Methane emissions spiking

The Global Methane Budget 2016 has been released, and the news is not good.

    CSIRO researcher Dr Pep Canadell said it was the most comprehensive modelling to date and revealed a potentially dangerous climate wildcard.

    “Methane emissions were stable for quite a few years at the end of the 2000s. But they’ve begun to grow much faster, in fact 10 times faster, since 2007,” said Dr Canadell, who is also the executive director of the Global Carbon Project.

CO2 makes up about 80% of the atmospheric greenhouse gases, with methane the biggest of the rest. Here is the relevant graph of growth since 2005:

The graph shows the possible trajectory for all the IPCC climate scenarios, with the black line showing actual observations.

The main concern is with agriculture, and within that enteric fermentation from ruminants and manure.

The real problem here is that while carbon which came from the atmosphere to create feed is being returned to the atmosphere, and could therefore be considered a cycle, it is returned in a form that has a greenhouse effect 100 times that of CO2 in the first year, tapering down to 20% as a long-term effect after 100 years. Here’s the relevant graph I have on file. The reference is Dessus, 2008, from memory:

2. Totten Glacier losing ice

Australian scientists have been able to investigate the process of warm Antarctic seawater coming in contact with the base of the giant Totten Glacier in East Antarctica:

The trick now is to track what’s happening and predict the future.

At Climate Central they put this study of melting from below with another that showed melting from above to warn that the giant is awakening.

What is happening at Felton Valley?

Felton Valley is a patch of beautiful farming land about 30km SW of Toowoomba which became famous because there is a rich coal seam under the fertile land. The Friends of Felton site is frozen at 21 August 2012, when then premier Campbell Newman confirmed in writing that the mining lease had been rescinded.

Late at night recently I heard on talkback radio that a property that had been resumed had been purchased by someone after the Newman edict, had built a magnificent home on it only to find that it would now be resumed again by a new mining lease.

I don’t know that the resumption has actually happened. It seems that a different company has a “mining development lease” which has been renewed by the current Labor government.

It seems that the Australian Rail Track Corporation is looking at sending the Melbourne-Brisbane Inland Rail line straight through the middle of the valley.

Not what the doctor ordered!

4. Global sea ice has reached a record low – should we be worried?

That is the question investigated by New Scientist. It’s about a startling graph made by a character called Wipneus on a blog of the sum of the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice extent:

The graph is accurate, but is actually caused by short-term weather events. In the Arctic the cold air that usually sits over the pole has flowed south over Siberia, while warmer air has flowed north. This has resulted in temperatures an astonishing 20°C warmer than usual. Indeed I just heard on the radio that Arctic temperatures are 30°C above normal. See also here. For a while in November the sea ice was melting when it should be forming, but is forming slower than usual this season.

In the Antarctic, melting starts early and is at record levels.

So it’s weather rather than climate, so should we be worried? It’s the kind of thing that is happening more frequently. It’s not just worrying, it’s quite alarming!

Here’s how the global temperatures are tracking for 2016:

At least January 2017 looks like being below January this year.

5. Trump watch

First, states are asking Trump to kill the Clean Energy Plan:

    Officials in 24 states have urged U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to kill the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s strategy to combat climate change and shut down coal-fired power plants.

Secondly, people are worried about killing off public information websites such as NASA’s online climate portal and the US Environmental Protection Agency’s climate website:

    Websites maintained by the federal government are among the first online stops for the general public — from students, local policymakers and everyone else — to learn about climate change. There is rising concern among scientists and climate communications experts that those websites may be among the first to be deleted, politicized or degraded with inaccurate climate information after President-elect Donald Trump takes office in January, all of which would impact the public’s understanding of the science and urgency of climate change.

I’ll leave you to read, if you wish, David Spratt’s post From White House to madhouse: climate denial in the era of Donald Trump, which is mainly about Michael Mann’s book “The Madhouse effect: How climate change denial is threatening our planet, destroying our politics and driving us crazy”.

Elsewhere there is Graham Readfearn’s post United states of denial: forces behind Trump have run Australia’s climate policy for years, which is about the state of denial in both countries.