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Arctic Methane Emergency Group - AMEG - Arctic Sea Ice - Methane Release - Planetary Emergency http://www.ameg.me/index.php 2018-01-23T02:11:14+00:00 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management Submission by the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG) to the Environment Audit Committee’s Inquiry on Arctic Sustainability 2017-08-30T11:43:19+00:00 2017-08-30T11:43:19+00:00 http://www.ameg.me/index.php/2-ameg/59-submission-by-the-arctic-methane-emergency-group-ameg-to-the-environment-audit-committee-s-inquiry-on-arctic-sustainability editor nickbreeze@gmail.com <div class="feed-description"><p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/files/1999/08/asina_N_iqr_timeseries.png" width="625" alt="Arctic sea Ice Extent" /></span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Dear EAC members,</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">AMEG submitted evidence to the EAC five years ago, in early 2012.&nbsp; Since then the Arctic situation has deteriorated markedly, much as we had predicted.&nbsp; But we now have a much clearer understanding of how the Arctic is getting locked into a low albedo state and the implications, particularly the effect of weather extremes on food security and the effect of sea-level rise on low-lying cities and conurbations, thanks a great deal to the work of Sir David King (currently the UK’s Special Representative for Climate Change).&nbsp; We now have a much clearer idea of what needs to be done and can be done to cool the Arctic and save the sea ice.&nbsp; But most importantly we now recognise the exciting possibility of reversing climate change and restoring the Earth System to a sustainable state for the benefit of future generations.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">In our submission, we have assumed that the EAC is capable of digesting and appreciating our scientific and technical points.&nbsp; The EAC contains talented people with diverse backgrounds and expertise, some of whom may find our submission baffling.&nbsp; Whereas you (the EAC) are used to considering the geo-political dimension of problems, we have gone into the scientific dimension of the Arctic situation and proposed an engineering solution.&nbsp; We have given relatively little consideration to geo-political dimension.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Therefore, given the shorter time for the EAC to deliberate on evidence due to the snap General Election, the gravity of the situation as we see it, and the huge change in policy we are proposing, we suggest making a more thorough presentation of our case to you after June 8th in a setting where you feel free to ask detailed questions having studied our written submission.&nbsp;<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">You should then be able to fulfil your duty of environment audit seriously: to grapple with the reality of an existential threat and recommend action to stave it off. &nbsp;&nbsp;As far as we know, you are the only committee in the world tasked to consider such threats and capable of responding without political bias.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">With “business as usual” (BAU) the world is heading for the dangerous global warming of 2°C by 2040, even without the Arctic contribution of heat and methane.&nbsp; With the Arctic in the process of switching to a seasonally sea-ice-free state within a decade, and with the risk of the Arctic getting locked irreversibly into this state, the urgency for action to save the sea ice could not be greater.&nbsp; If we consider food security alone, the Arctic with its perennial sea ice has been crucial for world agriculture to be viable for at least two reasons:</span></p> <ol class="ol1"> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">It has kept the jet air streams (see “Introduction” below) within the behaviour range which makes agriculture viable; whereas with BAU, the jet air streams will&nbsp;very likely be well out of this range by 2025 if not sooner.</span></li> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">It has kept&nbsp;gigatons of&nbsp;methane from entering the atmosphere and causing a runaway warming&nbsp;that would make agriculture unviable; whereas with BAU, such devastating methane releases could, quite conceivably, happen within a decade or two.</span></li> </ol> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">So, therefore, if we don't restore the ice, we are making an incredibly reckless and immoral gamble&nbsp;regarding the viability of&nbsp;world agriculture, and, by extension, the viability of&nbsp;our civilization.</span><hr title="EAC letter from AMEG" class="system-pagebreak" /></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>Preface</b></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Our account of climate change and the Arctic is based on an understanding of how the Earth System operates and the essential role of the Arctic in controlling climate.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Hopefully our account can bring people with hitherto different views on climate change together, unified in agreement on the action we propose to cool the Arctic and save the sea ice.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>This action has the potential to reverse climate change if executed with great urgency and in parallel with concerted action to reduce the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>There could be huge benefits in food production and food security, with reduced costs from weather extremes.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">We reject the view that the Earth System is intrinsically stable and would return to the old norm if CO2 emissions were halted.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The Arctic is a crucial component of the Earth System and the part which can change most rapidly because it contains a switch mechanism*.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>We have learnt that, within just a few decades, the Arctic can switch from a state where there is perennial sea ice to a state where the sea ice is seasonal, with no sea ice for part of the year.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Effectively, mankind’s greenhouse gas emissions have been sufficient to operate the switch, and the switchover to seasonal ice will soon be complete.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Nevertheless our group (AMEG) has studied the forces at play, and we believe that the switchover can be reversed by suitable intervention.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>We have two key messages for the committee: that completion of the switchover would be catastrophic and that rapid intervention is essential to prevent a complete switchover.</span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p3"><span class="s1">*The sea ice provides feedback.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>This feedback acts like the spring of an old-fashioned mechanical light switch.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>When the switch lever is operated, at first the springs act against the movement, but at a critical point (the tipping point) the springs start reinforce the movement and then the operation is completed very quickly.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>So it is with the Arctic.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The main feedback is provided by the sea ice.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>As it retreats, sunshine is absorbed by the open water, heating the water to a considerable depth because of its transparency and releasing the heat to melt the sea ice from below in a positive (mutually reinforcing) feedback.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>But the open water also allows heat from the surface to radiate into space, which cools the water, encouraging ice to form in a negative (stabilising) feedback. <span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>Executive summary</b></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">A complete rethink is required on government policy towards the Arctic and towards climate change generally.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Over the past thirty years, rapid warming in the Arctic has been the main driver of climate change in the Northern Hemisphere, through a disruption of weather patterns.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>This disruption will get worse as warm water from the Atlantic penetrates further and further across the Arctic Ocean, melting the sea ice as it goes.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Current policy for renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions comes too late to save the sea ice.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>To prevent dangerous climate change, the Arctic has to be refrozen such as to restore the reflective power of snow and sea ice.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Recent climate change can potentially be reversed with prompt intervention on a large scale.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>This has to be a priority for the international community.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>We recommend that the UK government takes a lead in initiating and coordinating the international response as a matter of policy.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The rapid warming and melting in the Arctic has other adverse repercussions: on sea level rise as the Greenland Ice Sheet melts; on methane as permafrost thaws; and on global warming as the extra heat absorbed by the Arctic contributes to global warming. These repercussions add urgency for cooling the Arctic but also for reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. <span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p class="p1">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><hr title="EAC Introduction" class="system-pagebreak" /></p> <p class="p1">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>Introduction</b></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The accepted wisdom is that climate change is a direct result of carbon emissions and the greenhouse warming they cause.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Thus it is conventionally argued that reducing emissions to zero would halt global warming and climate change.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Indeed climate change is often equated with CO2 emissions.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>But this is a gross oversimplification as it ignores two problems.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>It ignores the legacy CO2 in the atmosphere which has a lifetime of many decades and will continue warming the planet long after CO2 emissions cease.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>And it ignores what is happening in the Arctic which we’ll discuss first. <span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The Arctic is having a huge effect on climate change through a complex interaction between various processes which is important to understand.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The rapid warming of the Arctic over the past thirty years has reduced the temperature gradient between Arctic and tropics.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>This gradient helps to keep the bands of weather systems in place.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>(There are three bands in the Northern Hemisphere, each with prevailing winds: easterlies in the subtropics; westerlies at mid-latitude; and easterlies in the Arctic and sub-Arctic.)<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The boundaries between these bands are marked by jet streams, which form patterns called Rossby waves which progress eastwards round the planet.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>As the gradient is reduced the waves meander more to north and south.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>They also tend to get stuck.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The combination of meandering and stickiness has led to an increase in weather extremes over the past thirty years.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The jet stream tendency to get stuck is made worse by global warming, such as to make the extreme weather longer lasting.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Global warming tends also to make extreme droughts and floods more intense by providing increased heat and humidity in the atmosphere.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Thus the climate change we have been seeing recently is due to a combination of global warming and even more rapid warming in the Arctic, with the recent El Niño making matters worse.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The legacy CO2 problem means that, to reduce CO2 climate forcing, CO2 has to be removed from the atmosphere faster than it is being added through the burning of fossil fuels.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The Arctic problem concerns rapid warming of the region causing melting of snow and sea ice which in turn causes warming in a mutually reinforcing feedback loop or ‘vicious cycle’: as the highly reflective snow and sea ice melt, they expose less reflective land and sea surfaces which absorb extra heat tending to cause further melt.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>This submission is focussed on the Arctic problem.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>Overview</b></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The Arctic has long been known as a key component of the Earth System for controlling temperature and climate, which have oscillated dramatically over the past few million years.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>But for the past few thousand years there has been a balance of albedo (snow and ice reflectivity) between the north and south Polar Regions, which has kept a symmetric arrangement of weather patterns in place, ensuring a constant climate for everywhere on the planet.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Ice sheets have remained stable, so that the sea level has also remained constant.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>However within the last three decades, this balance has been upset by rapid Arctic warming, with potentially dire consequences for the constancy of climate and sea level on which our modern civilisation depends.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Rapid Arctic warming was almost certainly triggered by the global warming caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (though a reduction in the cooling effect of SO2 emissions may also have had a role).</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Recent research on past Earth System behaviour, backed by good observational evidence, suggests that the Arctic is now in the process of switching from a high albedo state, with the Arctic’s ocean covered with sea ice throughout the year, to a low albedo state, with the ocean losing almost all of its ice by the end of each summer and with much reduced snow on land.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Since a completion of this switching process is liable to lock the Arctic into a permanently low albedo state with potentially catastrophic repercussions on climate and sea level, discussed below, everything possible has to be done to prevent completion.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The international community must pull together to solve this problem, while there is chance of success.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>It will involve large-scale interventions, hitherto considered unnecessary and risky by environmentalists, oblivious to the extremely dangerous situation which calls for the most drastic of actions.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>We urge the committee to regard this situation as representing the true reality for the purpose of this inquiry; even if absolute certainty about the danger has not been established.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>It is necessary to act on the precautionary principle if there is any doubt about the magnitude about this danger.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The UK can take a lead in promoting the necessary measures and interventions to cool the Arctic and save the sea ice.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>These interventions will help to reduce the number and/or severity of weather extremes, thereby reducing damage from storms, floods, heatwaves, and droughts in the medium term, or great importance to the UK’s economy.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>In the longer term, the Arctic albedo should be restored and greenhouse levels brought down to near pre-industrial levels, so that climate is restored to the old norm for everywhere on the planet.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>This is the ultimate sustainable future for the Arctic, to which all governments must aspire, including our own.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The government’s environment policy framework should be redrafted to reflect this.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">However there is much positive benefit from an international collaboration to save the sea ice and reduce the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>This is an unprecedented opportunity for countries to work together to restore climate, increase food production and reduce conflict in the world.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The UK could take a leading role.</span></p> <p class="p1">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><hr title="Call for evidence" class="system-pagebreak" /></p> <p class="p1">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>The call for evidence</b></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The call of evidence asks for answers to a number of points.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>These two in particular are addressed in our submission:</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">Has the UK’s policy framework on the Arctic helped it achieve its vision of ensuing ‘policies are developed on the basis of sound science with full regard to the environment, and where only responsible development takes place’? Is the framework still fit for purpose in light of environmental and geopolitical changes?</span></li> </ul> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">What are the most significant environmental changes taking place in the Arctic, what is changing and what does it mean for the Arctic and the UK?</span></li> </ul> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>Previous warnings ignored</b></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Unfortunately the government chose to largely ignore key points of evidence about the rapidity of sea ice retreat and attendant consequences provided by Peter Wadhams and AMEG for the predecessor committee, meeting in spring 2012.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Instead they chose to act on the basis that the sea ice would last this century, following the projections of climate models provided by the Met Office Hadley Centre.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>These models have been thoroughly discredited since the projections diverge from observed trends far more than could be allowed by natural variability.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The dramatic record retreat of sea ice in September 2012 apparently came as a complete surprise to the Met Office, despite the minimum volume being precisely on the data point predicted according to an exponential downward trend.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Most climate scientists now accept that the Arctic Ocean could be seasonally “free” of sea ice (i.e. with extent less than one million square kilometres at the end of summer) within a decade or two.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The government also chose to ignore the mounting emissions of methane gas from the Arctic seabed, preferring to believe models suggesting that such emissions could not possibly grow to dangerous levels.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Unfortunately the models were based on unsound assumptions about the source of the methane.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Recent research suggests that Arctic methane emissions could rise to the gigaton level, at which methane starts to dominate over CO2 as the main greenhouse gas climate forcing agent.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Thus the government rejected our urgent calls for intervention to save the situation.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Instead the government proposed that the Met Office should be responsible for overseeing intervention, when the Met Office had just claimed that intervention was not needed!<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Far from adopting the precautionary principle, the government chose to believe the comforting view that all was well in the Arctic, and that it was ripe for exploitation.</span></p> <p class="p1"><hr title="Changes in Arctic and Impacts" class="system-pagebreak" /></p> <p class="p1">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>Changes in the Arctic and their impact</b></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">We are glad that the committee recognise that a new look is required at the policy framework, in the light of recent scientific evidence, because there is much new evidence to support our assertion that the Arctic is in a process of dangerous and potentially irreversible meltdown – a switch to a low albedo state.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The Arctic continues to warm much faster than the global average of 0.2C per decade.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The El Niño caused a surge in global warming but an even greater surge in Arctic warming.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Huge changes are in progress, as warm water from the Atlantic is flowing further and further into the Arctic Ocean, reaching as far as Novaya Zemlya. <span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Svalbard has been free of sea ice this winter, which is unprecedented. <span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Storm systems have reached to central Arctic, breaking up the sea ice and mixing the low salinity water on the surface with higher salinity water below.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>All this suggests that the Arctic is rapidly heading for a low albedo state.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Once the Arctic Ocean has an anticlockwise gyre of surface water, in place of a clockwise gyre of sea ice, the switch to low albedo state will be complete.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>In the past, air has descended at the poles producing a prevailing north-easterly wind at high latitudes.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Now air will rise over the ocean, being warmer than surrounding land masses.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Air will probably be sucked in between Greenland and Norway, as we have seen with storm tracks and a meandering jet stream.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>A new pattern of air circulation could be established for the Northern Hemisphere, affecting climate as far as the tropics or even into the Southern Hemisphere, as the thermal balance between hemispheres is upset.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Longer spells of stuck weather can be expected.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>In particular floods could be even worse for the UK, with a meandering jet stream picking up moisture from tropical oceans and dumping it consistently in the same region, as happened recently.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The cost of flood damage, and the cost of building ever greater defences against floods, has escalated in the UK as in the US and elsewhere.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The problem for London, with rising flood risk from the extreme rain, storm surge and higher sea level (see below), is humongous.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Meanwhile other processes are at work in the Arctic as it continues warming.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) is melting ever faster.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>It is showing alarming signs of disintegration with an increase in icequakes and a huge crack in the ice opening up inland from the west coast.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Recent evidence suggests that past disintegration of the GIS, at the end of the Eemian, caused mega-tsunamis, as huge blocks of ice slammed into the sea.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>This is a potential hazard for the UK, especially nuclear power stations in the Bristol Channel where tsunami waves would be amplified.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>There is strong evidence that a tsunami struck the Bristol Channel in 1607, and yet there appear to be no plans in case a tsunami struck again.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The GIS meltwater is increasing to the point of causing a cold anomaly in the North Atlantic.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) has been thoroughly disrupted, both as a result of a combination of increased meltwater and a loss of the subduction vortexes in the Greenland Sea as sea ice has retreated.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>A profound weakening of AMOC has huge implications for warming of the Southern Ocean and discharge of Antarctic glaciers, some of which are beyond their tipping point.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Thus one way or other, the continued warming of the Arctic is liable to produce massive sea level rise – perhaps as much as the half metre per decade (as recorded for the huge meltwater pulses which occurred following the last glacial maximum).<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Such sea level rise would be devastating for low-lying cities such as London. Sir David King has calculated that a rise of 0.3 to 0.4 metres would be devastating for many major cities around the world.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>On current trends, sea level could rise 0.5 metres by 2040 or 2050.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Then there is the methane to be considered.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Emissions from thawing land permafrost are growing remorselessly but we are even more concerned about emissions from subsea permafrost.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>There are more than two millions square kilometres of subsea permafrost where former frozen land has been inundated as sea levels rose following the last glacial maximum, some 20,000 years ago.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Methane emissions from the Arctic Ocean’s continental shelf off Siberia have grown alarmingly since our 2011 report to the EAC, as observed by the Russian scientists, Shakhova and Semiletov. Where formerly they were seeing plumes of bubbles of a few metres diameter, they are now seeing plumes a kilometre across and more.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>This has happened as the temperature at the seabed has risen by as much as 7C.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>So it can be assumed that the permafrost beneath the seabed is being thawed from above by warm seawater and from below by geothermal heat.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Any methane hydrate caged by permafrost is liable to disassociate, releasing methane gas.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The permafrost is become perforated in many places.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Any methane gas beneath the permafrost is liable to escape through perforations in the permafrost.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Thus the methane may be coming from hydrate in the permafrost or from methane trapped beneath the permafrost or both.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>In any case, the situation is serious because of the hundreds if not thousands of gigatons of methane stored in permafrost and beneath it.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Because methane is such a potent greenhouse gas, a release of a tiny fraction (just one gigaton per annum) from the vast store of methane could double the rate of global warming from 0.2C per decade to 0.4C per decade.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Such an outburst is thus a huge risk to humanity.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>Climate restoration</b></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p3"><span class="s1">The Arctic which we love for its beauty and wild life is melting away in front of our eyes.&nbsp; And nothing is being done about it!&nbsp; Does it really matter?<br /> <br /> The loss of an entire ecosystem is one thing; the effect on the rest of the planet is another.&nbsp; The Arctic snow and ice acts as a giant mirror to reflect sunshine back into space and keep the Arctic frozen.&nbsp; This has huge benefits for the rest of the planet:<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <ul> <li class="li3"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">the Arctic cools water from the Atlantic and circulates it round the whole planet;<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></li> <li class="li3"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">the Arctic keeps the Greenland Ice Sheet frozen, thus preventing 7 metres of sea level rise if it all melted;</span></li> <li class="li3"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">the Arctic keeps an ice and permafrost lid on vast quantities of the natural gas, methane, thus preventing this potent greenhouse gas from causing a catastrophic surge in global warming;</span></li> <li class="li3"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">above all, the Arctic keeps weather systems in place such that climates around the world stay constant.</span></li> </ul> <p class="p3"><span class="s1">The Arctic has provided these benefits for thousands of years, but we do not expect it to continue.&nbsp; Changes are already happening as the Arctic warms much faster than the rest of the planet.&nbsp; For example, floods, droughts and other weather extremes are becoming more common.&nbsp; The whole situation will get worse as time goes on.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> However the rot can be stopped if we act now.&nbsp; We must refreeze the Arctic, starting with the sea ice.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Here are some techniques which could be used:</span></p> <ul> <li class="li3"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">water flowing into the Arctic can be cooled using a marine cloud brightening technique: spray devices produce a mist of fine seawater droplets; these evaporate producing microscopic particles which are wafted into clouds by natural air circulation; the particles act as cloud condensation nuclei which have the effect of brightening the top of the cloud and cooling the water beneath; the cooled water flows into the Arctic;</span></li> <li class="li3"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">sea ice can be thickened so it doesn't melt away in summer: the use of “ice shields” has been proposed;</span></li> <li class="li3"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">snow can be created to reflect more sunshine back into space: the seeding of clouds to produce snow has been proposed.</span></li> </ul> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">An urgent task is to develop these techniques and prepare for large-scale deployment.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Modelling, trialling, evaluation and monitoring will play essential roles in successful deployment of selected technologies.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Other restorative action is needed, because the rest of the planet is also warming and our oceans are dying.&nbsp; Again there are several techniques available.&nbsp; One possibility is to restore life in the oceans, using plant-like algae and nutrients.&nbsp; This will remove CO2 from the air which has been causing the planet to warm.<br /> <br /> Conventional wisdom says that climate change is all about reducing our carbon emissions, but this is only half the story!&nbsp; We need restorative action as well to actively remove CO2 from the atmosphere, to actively suppress methane emissions and, even more urgently, to refreeze the Arctic.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Full climate restoration for the safety and wellbeing of future generations will require a significant international response to reduce climate forcing from all major sources.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>We recommend that the total climate forcing should be halved by 2030: restoring Arctic albedo, removing CO2 from the atmosphere and suppressing methane emissions.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>At the same time, the fertility of soils and oceans needs to be maintained or increased to feed a growing population.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>This is a huge challenge but also a huge opportunity for investment.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>It is suggested that the government might lean on the fossil fuel industry to provide much of the required funding.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>They also have considerable engineering expertise to offer. <span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Note that international collaboration with the UK in climate restoration should be considered a force for good, since everyone benefits.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>As the old norms are restored, crop yields will grow and the conflict arising from famine should subside, e.g. in NE Africa and the Middle East.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Thus there will be a peace dividend from climate restoration, which could be a point of pride for the UK, assuming we participate.</span></p> <p class="p1">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><hr title="New policy for Arctic" class="system-pagebreak" /></p> <p class="p1">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>A new policy framework for the Arctic</b></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Our society has become very dependent both on a stable climate for crop production and on a stable sea level for maintaining fertile estuarine land and huge low-lying conurbations.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The effects of climate system disruption and multiple bread-basket failure would be amplified by socio-political feedbacks to aggravate the situation, making widespread famine and mass migration (or attempted migration) almost inevitable.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The cost of defending against sea level rise of half a metre or more would be prohibitive.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The risks from Arctic meltdown are so high that this meltdown must be prevented on any reasonable precautionary principle. <span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>As a matter of risk management, the banking and insurance industries should join with government to ensure there is funding to make climate restoration a profitable and successful business.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">A significant pro-active response is demanded from the international community.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>What should the UK do in these demanding circumstances, when the US can no longer be relied upon to take climate change seriously?<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Fortunately the UK has considerable scientific credibility in these matters.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>It also has outstanding technical and engineering expertise.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The following actions are proposed, with as much as possible in parallel: <span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <ul> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">a climate restoration plan should be quickly agreed by a multi-disciplinary group of experts, recognising the enormity of the crisis facing us all;</span></li> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">relevant processes and timescales should be quantified, to add detail to the plan;</span></li> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">the crisis should be acknowledged by government, preferably in a joint statement with a number of other governments to underpin credibility and demonstrate a collaborative spirit;<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></li> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">a programme of public education should be initiated, to explain the situation and what is being done about it;<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></li> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">restoration of the Arctic and its albedo should be made a top priority for research, development, modelling and monitoring;</span></li> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">there should be a cessation of all exploitation of the Arctic which might jeopardise restoration;</span></li> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">there should be support for fast-track pilot projects to demonstrate appropriate technology;</span></li> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">business should be informed of investment opportunities;</span></li> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">funding avenues should be found, especially through the fossil fuel industry, for developing new technologies and for scaling up production and deployment of selected technologies, as necessary to ensure success through the profit motive.</span></li> </ul> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">A key factor in climate restoration is how much cooling power will be required to reverse the warming effect of processes in progress, especially the albedo loss due to retreat of snow and ice.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>It is estimated that current albedo loss is equivalent to a globally averaged 0.5 watts per square metre, which, multiplied by the area of the planet, gives a current heating power of 0.25 petawatts focussed in the Arctic.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>But if the sea ice disappears during summer, this could quadruple to 1 petawatt.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>However this albedo loss will be mostly offset by increased cooling from thermal radiation, as open water radiates more effectively than sea ice.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The offset value is unknown, and must be an important consideration for research as it is critical for quantifying intervention parameters.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">John Nissen,</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Chair Arctic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG)</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Submitted on behalf of AMEG, 2017-04-24</span></p></div> <div class="feed-description"><p class="p1"><span class="s1"><img src="http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/files/1999/08/asina_N_iqr_timeseries.png" width="625" alt="Arctic sea Ice Extent" /></span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Dear EAC members,</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">AMEG submitted evidence to the EAC five years ago, in early 2012.&nbsp; Since then the Arctic situation has deteriorated markedly, much as we had predicted.&nbsp; But we now have a much clearer understanding of how the Arctic is getting locked into a low albedo state and the implications, particularly the effect of weather extremes on food security and the effect of sea-level rise on low-lying cities and conurbations, thanks a great deal to the work of Sir David King (currently the UK’s Special Representative for Climate Change).&nbsp; We now have a much clearer idea of what needs to be done and can be done to cool the Arctic and save the sea ice.&nbsp; But most importantly we now recognise the exciting possibility of reversing climate change and restoring the Earth System to a sustainable state for the benefit of future generations.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">In our submission, we have assumed that the EAC is capable of digesting and appreciating our scientific and technical points.&nbsp; The EAC contains talented people with diverse backgrounds and expertise, some of whom may find our submission baffling.&nbsp; Whereas you (the EAC) are used to considering the geo-political dimension of problems, we have gone into the scientific dimension of the Arctic situation and proposed an engineering solution.&nbsp; We have given relatively little consideration to geo-political dimension.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Therefore, given the shorter time for the EAC to deliberate on evidence due to the snap General Election, the gravity of the situation as we see it, and the huge change in policy we are proposing, we suggest making a more thorough presentation of our case to you after June 8th in a setting where you feel free to ask detailed questions having studied our written submission.&nbsp;<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">You should then be able to fulfil your duty of environment audit seriously: to grapple with the reality of an existential threat and recommend action to stave it off. &nbsp;&nbsp;As far as we know, you are the only committee in the world tasked to consider such threats and capable of responding without political bias.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">With “business as usual” (BAU) the world is heading for the dangerous global warming of 2°C by 2040, even without the Arctic contribution of heat and methane.&nbsp; With the Arctic in the process of switching to a seasonally sea-ice-free state within a decade, and with the risk of the Arctic getting locked irreversibly into this state, the urgency for action to save the sea ice could not be greater.&nbsp; If we consider food security alone, the Arctic with its perennial sea ice has been crucial for world agriculture to be viable for at least two reasons:</span></p> <ol class="ol1"> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">It has kept the jet air streams (see “Introduction” below) within the behaviour range which makes agriculture viable; whereas with BAU, the jet air streams will&nbsp;very likely be well out of this range by 2025 if not sooner.</span></li> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">It has kept&nbsp;gigatons of&nbsp;methane from entering the atmosphere and causing a runaway warming&nbsp;that would make agriculture unviable; whereas with BAU, such devastating methane releases could, quite conceivably, happen within a decade or two.</span></li> </ol> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">So, therefore, if we don't restore the ice, we are making an incredibly reckless and immoral gamble&nbsp;regarding the viability of&nbsp;world agriculture, and, by extension, the viability of&nbsp;our civilization.</span><hr title="EAC letter from AMEG" class="system-pagebreak" /></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>Preface</b></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Our account of climate change and the Arctic is based on an understanding of how the Earth System operates and the essential role of the Arctic in controlling climate.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Hopefully our account can bring people with hitherto different views on climate change together, unified in agreement on the action we propose to cool the Arctic and save the sea ice.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>This action has the potential to reverse climate change if executed with great urgency and in parallel with concerted action to reduce the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>There could be huge benefits in food production and food security, with reduced costs from weather extremes.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">We reject the view that the Earth System is intrinsically stable and would return to the old norm if CO2 emissions were halted.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The Arctic is a crucial component of the Earth System and the part which can change most rapidly because it contains a switch mechanism*.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>We have learnt that, within just a few decades, the Arctic can switch from a state where there is perennial sea ice to a state where the sea ice is seasonal, with no sea ice for part of the year.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Effectively, mankind’s greenhouse gas emissions have been sufficient to operate the switch, and the switchover to seasonal ice will soon be complete.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Nevertheless our group (AMEG) has studied the forces at play, and we believe that the switchover can be reversed by suitable intervention.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>We have two key messages for the committee: that completion of the switchover would be catastrophic and that rapid intervention is essential to prevent a complete switchover.</span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p3"><span class="s1">*The sea ice provides feedback.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>This feedback acts like the spring of an old-fashioned mechanical light switch.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>When the switch lever is operated, at first the springs act against the movement, but at a critical point (the tipping point) the springs start reinforce the movement and then the operation is completed very quickly.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>So it is with the Arctic.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The main feedback is provided by the sea ice.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>As it retreats, sunshine is absorbed by the open water, heating the water to a considerable depth because of its transparency and releasing the heat to melt the sea ice from below in a positive (mutually reinforcing) feedback.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>But the open water also allows heat from the surface to radiate into space, which cools the water, encouraging ice to form in a negative (stabilising) feedback. <span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>Executive summary</b></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">A complete rethink is required on government policy towards the Arctic and towards climate change generally.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Over the past thirty years, rapid warming in the Arctic has been the main driver of climate change in the Northern Hemisphere, through a disruption of weather patterns.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>This disruption will get worse as warm water from the Atlantic penetrates further and further across the Arctic Ocean, melting the sea ice as it goes.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Current policy for renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions comes too late to save the sea ice.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>To prevent dangerous climate change, the Arctic has to be refrozen such as to restore the reflective power of snow and sea ice.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Recent climate change can potentially be reversed with prompt intervention on a large scale.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>This has to be a priority for the international community.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>We recommend that the UK government takes a lead in initiating and coordinating the international response as a matter of policy.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The rapid warming and melting in the Arctic has other adverse repercussions: on sea level rise as the Greenland Ice Sheet melts; on methane as permafrost thaws; and on global warming as the extra heat absorbed by the Arctic contributes to global warming. These repercussions add urgency for cooling the Arctic but also for reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. <span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p class="p1">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><hr title="EAC Introduction" class="system-pagebreak" /></p> <p class="p1">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>Introduction</b></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The accepted wisdom is that climate change is a direct result of carbon emissions and the greenhouse warming they cause.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Thus it is conventionally argued that reducing emissions to zero would halt global warming and climate change.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Indeed climate change is often equated with CO2 emissions.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>But this is a gross oversimplification as it ignores two problems.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>It ignores the legacy CO2 in the atmosphere which has a lifetime of many decades and will continue warming the planet long after CO2 emissions cease.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>And it ignores what is happening in the Arctic which we’ll discuss first. <span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The Arctic is having a huge effect on climate change through a complex interaction between various processes which is important to understand.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The rapid warming of the Arctic over the past thirty years has reduced the temperature gradient between Arctic and tropics.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>This gradient helps to keep the bands of weather systems in place.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>(There are three bands in the Northern Hemisphere, each with prevailing winds: easterlies in the subtropics; westerlies at mid-latitude; and easterlies in the Arctic and sub-Arctic.)<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The boundaries between these bands are marked by jet streams, which form patterns called Rossby waves which progress eastwards round the planet.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>As the gradient is reduced the waves meander more to north and south.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>They also tend to get stuck.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The combination of meandering and stickiness has led to an increase in weather extremes over the past thirty years.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The jet stream tendency to get stuck is made worse by global warming, such as to make the extreme weather longer lasting.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Global warming tends also to make extreme droughts and floods more intense by providing increased heat and humidity in the atmosphere.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Thus the climate change we have been seeing recently is due to a combination of global warming and even more rapid warming in the Arctic, with the recent El Niño making matters worse.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The legacy CO2 problem means that, to reduce CO2 climate forcing, CO2 has to be removed from the atmosphere faster than it is being added through the burning of fossil fuels.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The Arctic problem concerns rapid warming of the region causing melting of snow and sea ice which in turn causes warming in a mutually reinforcing feedback loop or ‘vicious cycle’: as the highly reflective snow and sea ice melt, they expose less reflective land and sea surfaces which absorb extra heat tending to cause further melt.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>This submission is focussed on the Arctic problem.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>Overview</b></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The Arctic has long been known as a key component of the Earth System for controlling temperature and climate, which have oscillated dramatically over the past few million years.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>But for the past few thousand years there has been a balance of albedo (snow and ice reflectivity) between the north and south Polar Regions, which has kept a symmetric arrangement of weather patterns in place, ensuring a constant climate for everywhere on the planet.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Ice sheets have remained stable, so that the sea level has also remained constant.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>However within the last three decades, this balance has been upset by rapid Arctic warming, with potentially dire consequences for the constancy of climate and sea level on which our modern civilisation depends.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Rapid Arctic warming was almost certainly triggered by the global warming caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (though a reduction in the cooling effect of SO2 emissions may also have had a role).</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Recent research on past Earth System behaviour, backed by good observational evidence, suggests that the Arctic is now in the process of switching from a high albedo state, with the Arctic’s ocean covered with sea ice throughout the year, to a low albedo state, with the ocean losing almost all of its ice by the end of each summer and with much reduced snow on land.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Since a completion of this switching process is liable to lock the Arctic into a permanently low albedo state with potentially catastrophic repercussions on climate and sea level, discussed below, everything possible has to be done to prevent completion.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The international community must pull together to solve this problem, while there is chance of success.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>It will involve large-scale interventions, hitherto considered unnecessary and risky by environmentalists, oblivious to the extremely dangerous situation which calls for the most drastic of actions.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>We urge the committee to regard this situation as representing the true reality for the purpose of this inquiry; even if absolute certainty about the danger has not been established.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>It is necessary to act on the precautionary principle if there is any doubt about the magnitude about this danger.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The UK can take a lead in promoting the necessary measures and interventions to cool the Arctic and save the sea ice.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>These interventions will help to reduce the number and/or severity of weather extremes, thereby reducing damage from storms, floods, heatwaves, and droughts in the medium term, or great importance to the UK’s economy.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>In the longer term, the Arctic albedo should be restored and greenhouse levels brought down to near pre-industrial levels, so that climate is restored to the old norm for everywhere on the planet.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>This is the ultimate sustainable future for the Arctic, to which all governments must aspire, including our own.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The government’s environment policy framework should be redrafted to reflect this.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">However there is much positive benefit from an international collaboration to save the sea ice and reduce the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>This is an unprecedented opportunity for countries to work together to restore climate, increase food production and reduce conflict in the world.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The UK could take a leading role.</span></p> <p class="p1">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><hr title="Call for evidence" class="system-pagebreak" /></p> <p class="p1">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>The call for evidence</b></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The call of evidence asks for answers to a number of points.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>These two in particular are addressed in our submission:</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">Has the UK’s policy framework on the Arctic helped it achieve its vision of ensuing ‘policies are developed on the basis of sound science with full regard to the environment, and where only responsible development takes place’? Is the framework still fit for purpose in light of environmental and geopolitical changes?</span></li> </ul> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">What are the most significant environmental changes taking place in the Arctic, what is changing and what does it mean for the Arctic and the UK?</span></li> </ul> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>Previous warnings ignored</b></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Unfortunately the government chose to largely ignore key points of evidence about the rapidity of sea ice retreat and attendant consequences provided by Peter Wadhams and AMEG for the predecessor committee, meeting in spring 2012.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Instead they chose to act on the basis that the sea ice would last this century, following the projections of climate models provided by the Met Office Hadley Centre.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>These models have been thoroughly discredited since the projections diverge from observed trends far more than could be allowed by natural variability.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The dramatic record retreat of sea ice in September 2012 apparently came as a complete surprise to the Met Office, despite the minimum volume being precisely on the data point predicted according to an exponential downward trend.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Most climate scientists now accept that the Arctic Ocean could be seasonally “free” of sea ice (i.e. with extent less than one million square kilometres at the end of summer) within a decade or two.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The government also chose to ignore the mounting emissions of methane gas from the Arctic seabed, preferring to believe models suggesting that such emissions could not possibly grow to dangerous levels.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Unfortunately the models were based on unsound assumptions about the source of the methane.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Recent research suggests that Arctic methane emissions could rise to the gigaton level, at which methane starts to dominate over CO2 as the main greenhouse gas climate forcing agent.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Thus the government rejected our urgent calls for intervention to save the situation.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Instead the government proposed that the Met Office should be responsible for overseeing intervention, when the Met Office had just claimed that intervention was not needed!<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Far from adopting the precautionary principle, the government chose to believe the comforting view that all was well in the Arctic, and that it was ripe for exploitation.</span></p> <p class="p1"><hr title="Changes in Arctic and Impacts" class="system-pagebreak" /></p> <p class="p1">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>Changes in the Arctic and their impact</b></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">We are glad that the committee recognise that a new look is required at the policy framework, in the light of recent scientific evidence, because there is much new evidence to support our assertion that the Arctic is in a process of dangerous and potentially irreversible meltdown – a switch to a low albedo state.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The Arctic continues to warm much faster than the global average of 0.2C per decade.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The El Niño caused a surge in global warming but an even greater surge in Arctic warming.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Huge changes are in progress, as warm water from the Atlantic is flowing further and further into the Arctic Ocean, reaching as far as Novaya Zemlya. <span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Svalbard has been free of sea ice this winter, which is unprecedented. <span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Storm systems have reached to central Arctic, breaking up the sea ice and mixing the low salinity water on the surface with higher salinity water below.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>All this suggests that the Arctic is rapidly heading for a low albedo state.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Once the Arctic Ocean has an anticlockwise gyre of surface water, in place of a clockwise gyre of sea ice, the switch to low albedo state will be complete.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>In the past, air has descended at the poles producing a prevailing north-easterly wind at high latitudes.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Now air will rise over the ocean, being warmer than surrounding land masses.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Air will probably be sucked in between Greenland and Norway, as we have seen with storm tracks and a meandering jet stream.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>A new pattern of air circulation could be established for the Northern Hemisphere, affecting climate as far as the tropics or even into the Southern Hemisphere, as the thermal balance between hemispheres is upset.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Longer spells of stuck weather can be expected.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>In particular floods could be even worse for the UK, with a meandering jet stream picking up moisture from tropical oceans and dumping it consistently in the same region, as happened recently.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The cost of flood damage, and the cost of building ever greater defences against floods, has escalated in the UK as in the US and elsewhere.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The problem for London, with rising flood risk from the extreme rain, storm surge and higher sea level (see below), is humongous.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Meanwhile other processes are at work in the Arctic as it continues warming.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) is melting ever faster.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>It is showing alarming signs of disintegration with an increase in icequakes and a huge crack in the ice opening up inland from the west coast.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Recent evidence suggests that past disintegration of the GIS, at the end of the Eemian, caused mega-tsunamis, as huge blocks of ice slammed into the sea.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>This is a potential hazard for the UK, especially nuclear power stations in the Bristol Channel where tsunami waves would be amplified.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>There is strong evidence that a tsunami struck the Bristol Channel in 1607, and yet there appear to be no plans in case a tsunami struck again.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The GIS meltwater is increasing to the point of causing a cold anomaly in the North Atlantic.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) has been thoroughly disrupted, both as a result of a combination of increased meltwater and a loss of the subduction vortexes in the Greenland Sea as sea ice has retreated.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>A profound weakening of AMOC has huge implications for warming of the Southern Ocean and discharge of Antarctic glaciers, some of which are beyond their tipping point.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Thus one way or other, the continued warming of the Arctic is liable to produce massive sea level rise – perhaps as much as the half metre per decade (as recorded for the huge meltwater pulses which occurred following the last glacial maximum).<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Such sea level rise would be devastating for low-lying cities such as London. Sir David King has calculated that a rise of 0.3 to 0.4 metres would be devastating for many major cities around the world.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>On current trends, sea level could rise 0.5 metres by 2040 or 2050.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Then there is the methane to be considered.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Emissions from thawing land permafrost are growing remorselessly but we are even more concerned about emissions from subsea permafrost.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>There are more than two millions square kilometres of subsea permafrost where former frozen land has been inundated as sea levels rose following the last glacial maximum, some 20,000 years ago.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Methane emissions from the Arctic Ocean’s continental shelf off Siberia have grown alarmingly since our 2011 report to the EAC, as observed by the Russian scientists, Shakhova and Semiletov. Where formerly they were seeing plumes of bubbles of a few metres diameter, they are now seeing plumes a kilometre across and more.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>This has happened as the temperature at the seabed has risen by as much as 7C.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>So it can be assumed that the permafrost beneath the seabed is being thawed from above by warm seawater and from below by geothermal heat.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Any methane hydrate caged by permafrost is liable to disassociate, releasing methane gas.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The permafrost is become perforated in many places.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Any methane gas beneath the permafrost is liable to escape through perforations in the permafrost.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Thus the methane may be coming from hydrate in the permafrost or from methane trapped beneath the permafrost or both.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>In any case, the situation is serious because of the hundreds if not thousands of gigatons of methane stored in permafrost and beneath it.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Because methane is such a potent greenhouse gas, a release of a tiny fraction (just one gigaton per annum) from the vast store of methane could double the rate of global warming from 0.2C per decade to 0.4C per decade.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Such an outburst is thus a huge risk to humanity.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>Climate restoration</b></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p3"><span class="s1">The Arctic which we love for its beauty and wild life is melting away in front of our eyes.&nbsp; And nothing is being done about it!&nbsp; Does it really matter?<br /> <br /> The loss of an entire ecosystem is one thing; the effect on the rest of the planet is another.&nbsp; The Arctic snow and ice acts as a giant mirror to reflect sunshine back into space and keep the Arctic frozen.&nbsp; This has huge benefits for the rest of the planet:<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <ul> <li class="li3"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">the Arctic cools water from the Atlantic and circulates it round the whole planet;<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></li> <li class="li3"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">the Arctic keeps the Greenland Ice Sheet frozen, thus preventing 7 metres of sea level rise if it all melted;</span></li> <li class="li3"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">the Arctic keeps an ice and permafrost lid on vast quantities of the natural gas, methane, thus preventing this potent greenhouse gas from causing a catastrophic surge in global warming;</span></li> <li class="li3"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">above all, the Arctic keeps weather systems in place such that climates around the world stay constant.</span></li> </ul> <p class="p3"><span class="s1">The Arctic has provided these benefits for thousands of years, but we do not expect it to continue.&nbsp; Changes are already happening as the Arctic warms much faster than the rest of the planet.&nbsp; For example, floods, droughts and other weather extremes are becoming more common.&nbsp; The whole situation will get worse as time goes on.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> However the rot can be stopped if we act now.&nbsp; We must refreeze the Arctic, starting with the sea ice.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Here are some techniques which could be used:</span></p> <ul> <li class="li3"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">water flowing into the Arctic can be cooled using a marine cloud brightening technique: spray devices produce a mist of fine seawater droplets; these evaporate producing microscopic particles which are wafted into clouds by natural air circulation; the particles act as cloud condensation nuclei which have the effect of brightening the top of the cloud and cooling the water beneath; the cooled water flows into the Arctic;</span></li> <li class="li3"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">sea ice can be thickened so it doesn't melt away in summer: the use of “ice shields” has been proposed;</span></li> <li class="li3"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">snow can be created to reflect more sunshine back into space: the seeding of clouds to produce snow has been proposed.</span></li> </ul> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">An urgent task is to develop these techniques and prepare for large-scale deployment.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Modelling, trialling, evaluation and monitoring will play essential roles in successful deployment of selected technologies.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Other restorative action is needed, because the rest of the planet is also warming and our oceans are dying.&nbsp; Again there are several techniques available.&nbsp; One possibility is to restore life in the oceans, using plant-like algae and nutrients.&nbsp; This will remove CO2 from the air which has been causing the planet to warm.<br /> <br /> Conventional wisdom says that climate change is all about reducing our carbon emissions, but this is only half the story!&nbsp; We need restorative action as well to actively remove CO2 from the atmosphere, to actively suppress methane emissions and, even more urgently, to refreeze the Arctic.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Full climate restoration for the safety and wellbeing of future generations will require a significant international response to reduce climate forcing from all major sources.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>We recommend that the total climate forcing should be halved by 2030: restoring Arctic albedo, removing CO2 from the atmosphere and suppressing methane emissions.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>At the same time, the fertility of soils and oceans needs to be maintained or increased to feed a growing population.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>This is a huge challenge but also a huge opportunity for investment.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>It is suggested that the government might lean on the fossil fuel industry to provide much of the required funding.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>They also have considerable engineering expertise to offer. <span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Note that international collaboration with the UK in climate restoration should be considered a force for good, since everyone benefits.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>As the old norms are restored, crop yields will grow and the conflict arising from famine should subside, e.g. in NE Africa and the Middle East.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Thus there will be a peace dividend from climate restoration, which could be a point of pride for the UK, assuming we participate.</span></p> <p class="p1">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><hr title="New policy for Arctic" class="system-pagebreak" /></p> <p class="p1">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>A new policy framework for the Arctic</b></span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Our society has become very dependent both on a stable climate for crop production and on a stable sea level for maintaining fertile estuarine land and huge low-lying conurbations.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The effects of climate system disruption and multiple bread-basket failure would be amplified by socio-political feedbacks to aggravate the situation, making widespread famine and mass migration (or attempted migration) almost inevitable.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The cost of defending against sea level rise of half a metre or more would be prohibitive.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The risks from Arctic meltdown are so high that this meltdown must be prevented on any reasonable precautionary principle. <span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>As a matter of risk management, the banking and insurance industries should join with government to ensure there is funding to make climate restoration a profitable and successful business.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">A significant pro-active response is demanded from the international community.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>What should the UK do in these demanding circumstances, when the US can no longer be relied upon to take climate change seriously?<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>Fortunately the UK has considerable scientific credibility in these matters.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>It also has outstanding technical and engineering expertise.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The following actions are proposed, with as much as possible in parallel: <span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <ul> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">a climate restoration plan should be quickly agreed by a multi-disciplinary group of experts, recognising the enormity of the crisis facing us all;</span></li> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">relevant processes and timescales should be quantified, to add detail to the plan;</span></li> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">the crisis should be acknowledged by government, preferably in a joint statement with a number of other governments to underpin credibility and demonstrate a collaborative spirit;<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></li> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">a programme of public education should be initiated, to explain the situation and what is being done about it;<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></li> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">restoration of the Arctic and its albedo should be made a top priority for research, development, modelling and monitoring;</span></li> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">there should be a cessation of all exploitation of the Arctic which might jeopardise restoration;</span></li> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">there should be support for fast-track pilot projects to demonstrate appropriate technology;</span></li> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">business should be informed of investment opportunities;</span></li> <li class="li1"><span class="s2"></span><span class="s1">funding avenues should be found, especially through the fossil fuel industry, for developing new technologies and for scaling up production and deployment of selected technologies, as necessary to ensure success through the profit motive.</span></li> </ul> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">A key factor in climate restoration is how much cooling power will be required to reverse the warming effect of processes in progress, especially the albedo loss due to retreat of snow and ice.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>It is estimated that current albedo loss is equivalent to a globally averaged 0.5 watts per square metre, which, multiplied by the area of the planet, gives a current heating power of 0.25 petawatts focussed in the Arctic.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>But if the sea ice disappears during summer, this could quadruple to 1 petawatt.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>However this albedo loss will be mostly offset by increased cooling from thermal radiation, as open water radiates more effectively than sea ice.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp; </span>The offset value is unknown, and must be an important consideration for research as it is critical for quantifying intervention parameters.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">John Nissen,</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Chair Arctic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG)</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Submitted on behalf of AMEG, 2017-04-24</span></p></div> AMEG Chairman, John Nissen In Press Conference In Lima at COP20 2014-12-06T11:08:36+00:00 2014-12-06T11:08:36+00:00 http://www.ameg.me/index.php/2-ameg/58-ameg-chairman-john-nissen-in-press-conference-in-lima-at-cop20 editor nickbreeze@gmail.com <div class="feed-description"><p><a title="AMEG LIMA COP20" href="http://unfccc6.meta-fusion.com/cop20/events/2014-12-04-12-30-abibimman-foundation-united-planet-faith-science-initiative/abibimman-foundation-united-planet-faith-science-initiative-2" target="_blank"><img src="images/press-conf.jpg" alt="press-conf" width="600" height="340" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>AMEG Chairman, John Nissen, gives a sincere overview of the Arctic risk that humanity faces at the COP20 in Lima. Thanks go to Stuart Scott of <a href="http://www.upfsi.org">www.upfsi.org</a>&nbsp;and AMEG member scientist, Paul Beckwith.</p></div> <div class="feed-description"><p><a title="AMEG LIMA COP20" href="http://unfccc6.meta-fusion.com/cop20/events/2014-12-04-12-30-abibimman-foundation-united-planet-faith-science-initiative/abibimman-foundation-united-planet-faith-science-initiative-2" target="_blank"><img src="images/press-conf.jpg" alt="press-conf" width="600" height="340" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>AMEG Chairman, John Nissen, gives a sincere overview of the Arctic risk that humanity faces at the COP20 in Lima. Thanks go to Stuart Scott of <a href="http://www.upfsi.org">www.upfsi.org</a>&nbsp;and AMEG member scientist, Paul Beckwith.</p></div> THURSDAY DEC. 4 2014 - Press Conference Room 2, COP-20, Lima 2014-12-03T09:23:56+00:00 2014-12-03T09:23:56+00:00 http://www.ameg.me/index.php/2-ameg/56-thursday-dec-4-2014-press-conference-room-2-cop-20-lima editor nickbreeze@gmail.com <div class="feed-description"><p><strong>PRESS CONFERENCE ANNOUNCEMENT</strong><br /><strong>Arctic Methane Emergency Group</strong></p> <p><br /><strong>FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: </strong><br /><strong>
TIME: Thursday, December 4, 2014, 12:00-12:30 PM</strong><br /><br /></p> <p><strong>SUBJECT:</strong> Arctic meltdown: a catastrophic threat to our survival<br /> AMEG calls for rapid refreezing of the Arctic to halt runaway melting</p> <p>WHO: John Nissen, Chair AMEG, supported by Professor Peter Wadhams, Cambridge University, co-founder of AMEG and world-renowned expert on Arctic sea ice, with Paul Beckwith, AMEG blogger.</p> <p><strong>SUMMARY:</strong><br />There is strong evidence of advanced acceleration in: <br /> • Arctic warming and sea ice decline in a vicious cycle<br /> • Substantial ice loss in Greenland with potential massive loss due to unstable glaciers<br /> • Disruption of jet stream behaviour, with abrupt climate change leading to crop failures, rising food prices and conflict in the Northern Hemisphere<br /> • Rapid emissions of methane from the Arctic seabed, permafrost and tundra.</p> <p>The tipping point for the Arctic sea ice has already passed.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><br />Our conclusions are:</strong> <br /> <br />• The meltdown is accelerating and could become unstoppable as early as Sept 2015 <br /> • Immediate action must be taken to refreeze the Arctic to halt runaway melting<br /> • Greenhouse gas emissions reduction, however drastic, cannot solve this problem<br /> • Calculations show that powerful interventions are needed to cool the Arctic <br /> • Any delay escalates the risk of failure<br /> • Arctic meltdown is a catastrophic threat for civilisation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>AMEG therefore calls for the immediate setting up of a task force, specifically mandated to ensure that the Arctic is cooled as quickly and safely as possible.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Contact: John Nissen, Chairman, AMEG, <a href="mailto:johnnissen2003@gmail.com">johnnissen2003@gmail.com</a></strong></p></div> <div class="feed-description"><p><strong>PRESS CONFERENCE ANNOUNCEMENT</strong><br /><strong>Arctic Methane Emergency Group</strong></p> <p><br /><strong>FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: </strong><br /><strong>
TIME: Thursday, December 4, 2014, 12:00-12:30 PM</strong><br /><br /></p> <p><strong>SUBJECT:</strong> Arctic meltdown: a catastrophic threat to our survival<br /> AMEG calls for rapid refreezing of the Arctic to halt runaway melting</p> <p>WHO: John Nissen, Chair AMEG, supported by Professor Peter Wadhams, Cambridge University, co-founder of AMEG and world-renowned expert on Arctic sea ice, with Paul Beckwith, AMEG blogger.</p> <p><strong>SUMMARY:</strong><br />There is strong evidence of advanced acceleration in: <br /> • Arctic warming and sea ice decline in a vicious cycle<br /> • Substantial ice loss in Greenland with potential massive loss due to unstable glaciers<br /> • Disruption of jet stream behaviour, with abrupt climate change leading to crop failures, rising food prices and conflict in the Northern Hemisphere<br /> • Rapid emissions of methane from the Arctic seabed, permafrost and tundra.</p> <p>The tipping point for the Arctic sea ice has already passed.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><br />Our conclusions are:</strong> <br /> <br />• The meltdown is accelerating and could become unstoppable as early as Sept 2015 <br /> • Immediate action must be taken to refreeze the Arctic to halt runaway melting<br /> • Greenhouse gas emissions reduction, however drastic, cannot solve this problem<br /> • Calculations show that powerful interventions are needed to cool the Arctic <br /> • Any delay escalates the risk of failure<br /> • Arctic meltdown is a catastrophic threat for civilisation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>AMEG therefore calls for the immediate setting up of a task force, specifically mandated to ensure that the Arctic is cooled as quickly and safely as possible.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Contact: John Nissen, Chairman, AMEG, <a href="mailto:johnnissen2003@gmail.com">johnnissen2003@gmail.com</a></strong></p></div> Urgent Message to Governments from the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, AMEG 2014-05-08T08:36:59+00:00 2014-05-08T08:36:59+00:00 http://www.ameg.me/index.php/2-ameg/53-urgent-message-to-governments-from-the-arctic-methane-emergency-group-ameg John Nissen AMEG <div class="feed-description"><p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>AMEG’s Declaration</b></span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><br /> <b>Governments must get a grip on a situation which IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has ignored.&nbsp; A strategy of mitigation and adaptation is doomed to fail.&nbsp; It will be impossible to adapt to the worst consequences of global warming, as IPCC suggests. &nbsp;</b></span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b>The Arctic must be cooled, ASAP, to prevent the sea ice disappearing with disastrous global consequences. &nbsp; Rapid warming in the Arctic, as sea ice retreats, has already disrupted the jet stream.&nbsp; The resulting escalation in weather extremes is causing a food crisis which must be addressed before the existing conflicts in Asia and Africa spread more widely.</b></span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b>Dangerous global warming and ocean acidification must be prevented by reducing the level of CO2 in the atmosphere, especially by improved agricultural practice, thereby addressing the food crisis at the same time.</b></span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b>This is an unprecedented opportunity for international collaboration for common purpose.</b></span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b>1. &nbsp; The Arctic is rapidly heading for meltdown.&nbsp; </b>As snow and sea ice retreat, exposing land and sea with lower albedo (i.e. less reflectiveness), more solar energy is absorbed, thus leading to further melting and retreat in a vicious cycle.&nbsp; This cycle has been self-sustaining for many years – we are well past the tipping point.&nbsp; There is no sign of any natural process to break the cycle.</span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b>2.&nbsp;&nbsp; As the extent of snow and sea ice has been plummeting, even while global warming has stalled, Arctic albedo loss has rapidly overtaken CO2 as the main driver of climate change in the Northern Hemisphere, as witness the escalation of weather extremes.&nbsp;</b> The Arctic has warmed well above global average, resulting in a reduction of the temperature gradient between tropics and pole, this in turn reducing the strength of the polar jet stream, with increased meandering and a tendency to get stuck in blocking patterns.&nbsp; This explains the recent escalation of weather extremes in the form of long periods of weather of one kind such as the months of high rain the UK has experienced this past winter 2013-14, and the protracted extreme cold in the US over the same period, crop failures and an upward trend in the world food price index.<br /> <b><br /> 3.&nbsp;&nbsp; While land and subsea permafrost thaws ever faster, methane could become the dominant climate forcing agent.&nbsp; </b>Emissions threaten to break through the gigaton-per-year level within twenty years.&nbsp; AMEG has been continuing its research into the situation.&nbsp; A recent paper, co-authored by Peter Wadhams, a founder member of AMEG, has used the Stern Review economic model to show that the economic cost of a 50 megaton release of methane from the Arctic Ocean seabed will cost $60 trillion.&nbsp; Research in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf has suggested that such a vast release of methane was possible, and continued exponential increase of methane could, within 20 years, reach a level where methane dominated over CO2 in global warming.&nbsp; Some researchers warn of a 50 gigaton burst being possible “at any time”.</span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b>4.&nbsp; </b></span><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><span class="s2"><b>Therefore, urgent and strenuous efforts are needed ASAP to cool the Arctic, halt snow and sea ice decline, and suppress methane.</b></span><span class="s1"><b> &nbsp;</b></span></span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b>5.&nbsp; Techniques exist for cooling on the necessary scale.&nbsp;</b> Both the brightening of low-level clouds and the production of a reflective haze in the stratosphere are techniques based on natural phenomena which have been studied extensively.&nbsp; Various methane suppression techniques have been proposed.&nbsp; However, all these techniques require technology development and testing before deployment.</span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b><br /> 6.&nbsp; Ocean acidification threatens to devastate the marine food chain.&nbsp; </b>Atmospheric CO2 must be reduced to a safe level within twenty years or less.</span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b>7.&nbsp; Therefore, CO2 must be removed from the atmosphere faster than it is put in. </b>&nbsp; The rate of removal should be increased until it is around double the rate of emissions and the CO2 level has fallen sufficiently to avoid dangerous ocean acidification. Funds could be raised by having a levy on carbon taken out of the ground, specifically to fund the return of carbon to the ground.</span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b>8.&nbsp; CO2 can be removed from the atmosphere utilising the photosynthesis of plants and certain algae to produce biomass.&nbsp; </b>The carbon of this biomass must then be kept from returning to the atmosphere, e.g. by pyrolytic conversion to biochar. &nbsp; This process of capture and sequestration has to be massively scaled in order for the CO2 removal rate to exceed CO2 emission rate.&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b>9. </b></span><span class="s2"><b>The profound economic, social, security and political impacts of the abrupt climate change, being witnessed as an escalation of climate extremes and crop failures, must be addressed.</b></span><span class="s1"><b>&nbsp; </b>The underlying price of food as indicated by the food price index is already above the crisis level, leading to the food riots we have observed in several countries where income is insufficient to buy daily needs.</span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b><br /> These are unprecedented opportunities for international collaboration in the interests of every country, every section of the community, rich and poor alike.&nbsp; </b>The necessary actions of cooling the Arctic, suppressing methane and CO2 removal present enormous engineering and logistical challenges. <b>&nbsp; </b>The objectives should be achievable without any revolution or radical change in the way we live. &nbsp; In fact the solutions to the challenges are not only affordable but can be of great economic benefit in the long run.</span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b>There is no excuse for procrastination. We must see action now<br /> </b></span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Current situation and gross omissions from IPCC</span></p> <p class="p4">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">The IPCC WG1, WG2 and WG3 assessment reports (AR5) make no mention of the downward trend in sea ice volume, and rely on models which fail to properly capture the processes of warming and melting.&nbsp; Furthermore they fail to mention the strong evidence that Arctic warming is already a driver of climate change in the Northern Hemisphere, compounding the effects of global warming.</span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">Arctic warming and sea ice retreat is already having a serious impact on climate change across the Northern Hemisphere, which is affecting food production, food prices and food security. The latest WG2 report claims that the Arctic sea ice will be subject to ‘very high risks with an additional warming of 2 degrees C’. In fact, the September sea ice volume is already down 75% with a trend to zero by September 2016, suggests that the Arctic is heading for complete meltdown, which would be a planetary catastrophe. The loss of Arctic ecosystems and the climate implications of ice disappearance are in fact acute risks NOW as both ice and ice-dependent species are set to disappear within a matter of years.</span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">These are catastrophic omissions.&nbsp; AR5 is supposed to provide the best analysis of the state of the planet and its future climate, on which governments can base policy for protection of citizens. &nbsp; These omissions are leading governments into a false sense of security about the future of our planet.&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">The only clear policy deduction from AR5 concerns the reduction of CO2 emissions by keeping within a carbon budget.&nbsp; Reductions alone have no chance of preventing catastrophes arising from Arctic meltdown.&nbsp; Intervention to cool the Arctic is an absolute requirement to prevent such catastrophes.&nbsp; There is no realistic alternative.</span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">The concept of a carbon budget, espoused in AR5, hides the short-term consequences of various powerful feedback processes which get zero or scant attention in AR5.&nbsp; In particular, snow and sea ice albedo feedback seems to be totally ignored in the budget.&nbsp; And the mounting concentration of methane in the atmosphere is ignored.&nbsp; The real truth is that the carbon budget has already been spent.&nbsp; WG3’s limit of 450 ppm for CO2 equivalent has already been passed, even without taking into account albedo loss.</span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">Governments must also address ocean acidification, whose threat has also been ignored in AR5.&nbsp; There is no alternative but to start a major campaign for CO2 removal (CDR).&nbsp; The latest WG3 assessment report suggests CDR as a possibility for offsetting emissions, but only in so far as for keeping within their carbon budgets of 450ppm CO2e and above, which would have catastrophic consequences for humanity, even without all the other overlooked positive feedbacks described above. CDR must be adopted, being the only possibility in order to stop the existing contribution to global warming of CO2 and ocean acidification.</span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><br /></span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">Meanwhile there is the threat of Arctic methane emissions to burst above the gigaton level, totally ignored in AR5.&nbsp; And the AR5 projections of sea level rise are hopelessly optimistic if the sea ice disappears as rapidly as the trend indicates.</span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><br /></span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><a href="index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=54&amp;catid=2&amp;Itemid=107">About the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, AMEG</a></span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p></div> <div class="feed-description"><p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>AMEG’s Declaration</b></span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><br /> <b>Governments must get a grip on a situation which IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has ignored.&nbsp; A strategy of mitigation and adaptation is doomed to fail.&nbsp; It will be impossible to adapt to the worst consequences of global warming, as IPCC suggests. &nbsp;</b></span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b>The Arctic must be cooled, ASAP, to prevent the sea ice disappearing with disastrous global consequences. &nbsp; Rapid warming in the Arctic, as sea ice retreats, has already disrupted the jet stream.&nbsp; The resulting escalation in weather extremes is causing a food crisis which must be addressed before the existing conflicts in Asia and Africa spread more widely.</b></span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b>Dangerous global warming and ocean acidification must be prevented by reducing the level of CO2 in the atmosphere, especially by improved agricultural practice, thereby addressing the food crisis at the same time.</b></span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b>This is an unprecedented opportunity for international collaboration for common purpose.</b></span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b>1. &nbsp; The Arctic is rapidly heading for meltdown.&nbsp; </b>As snow and sea ice retreat, exposing land and sea with lower albedo (i.e. less reflectiveness), more solar energy is absorbed, thus leading to further melting and retreat in a vicious cycle.&nbsp; This cycle has been self-sustaining for many years – we are well past the tipping point.&nbsp; There is no sign of any natural process to break the cycle.</span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b>2.&nbsp;&nbsp; As the extent of snow and sea ice has been plummeting, even while global warming has stalled, Arctic albedo loss has rapidly overtaken CO2 as the main driver of climate change in the Northern Hemisphere, as witness the escalation of weather extremes.&nbsp;</b> The Arctic has warmed well above global average, resulting in a reduction of the temperature gradient between tropics and pole, this in turn reducing the strength of the polar jet stream, with increased meandering and a tendency to get stuck in blocking patterns.&nbsp; This explains the recent escalation of weather extremes in the form of long periods of weather of one kind such as the months of high rain the UK has experienced this past winter 2013-14, and the protracted extreme cold in the US over the same period, crop failures and an upward trend in the world food price index.<br /> <b><br /> 3.&nbsp;&nbsp; While land and subsea permafrost thaws ever faster, methane could become the dominant climate forcing agent.&nbsp; </b>Emissions threaten to break through the gigaton-per-year level within twenty years.&nbsp; AMEG has been continuing its research into the situation.&nbsp; A recent paper, co-authored by Peter Wadhams, a founder member of AMEG, has used the Stern Review economic model to show that the economic cost of a 50 megaton release of methane from the Arctic Ocean seabed will cost $60 trillion.&nbsp; Research in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf has suggested that such a vast release of methane was possible, and continued exponential increase of methane could, within 20 years, reach a level where methane dominated over CO2 in global warming.&nbsp; Some researchers warn of a 50 gigaton burst being possible “at any time”.</span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b>4.&nbsp; </b></span><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><span class="s2"><b>Therefore, urgent and strenuous efforts are needed ASAP to cool the Arctic, halt snow and sea ice decline, and suppress methane.</b></span><span class="s1"><b> &nbsp;</b></span></span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b>5.&nbsp; Techniques exist for cooling on the necessary scale.&nbsp;</b> Both the brightening of low-level clouds and the production of a reflective haze in the stratosphere are techniques based on natural phenomena which have been studied extensively.&nbsp; Various methane suppression techniques have been proposed.&nbsp; However, all these techniques require technology development and testing before deployment.</span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b><br /> 6.&nbsp; Ocean acidification threatens to devastate the marine food chain.&nbsp; </b>Atmospheric CO2 must be reduced to a safe level within twenty years or less.</span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b>7.&nbsp; Therefore, CO2 must be removed from the atmosphere faster than it is put in. </b>&nbsp; The rate of removal should be increased until it is around double the rate of emissions and the CO2 level has fallen sufficiently to avoid dangerous ocean acidification. Funds could be raised by having a levy on carbon taken out of the ground, specifically to fund the return of carbon to the ground.</span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b>8.&nbsp; CO2 can be removed from the atmosphere utilising the photosynthesis of plants and certain algae to produce biomass.&nbsp; </b>The carbon of this biomass must then be kept from returning to the atmosphere, e.g. by pyrolytic conversion to biochar. &nbsp; This process of capture and sequestration has to be massively scaled in order for the CO2 removal rate to exceed CO2 emission rate.&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b>9. </b></span><span class="s2"><b>The profound economic, social, security and political impacts of the abrupt climate change, being witnessed as an escalation of climate extremes and crop failures, must be addressed.</b></span><span class="s1"><b>&nbsp; </b>The underlying price of food as indicated by the food price index is already above the crisis level, leading to the food riots we have observed in several countries where income is insufficient to buy daily needs.</span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b><br /> These are unprecedented opportunities for international collaboration in the interests of every country, every section of the community, rich and poor alike.&nbsp; </b>The necessary actions of cooling the Arctic, suppressing methane and CO2 removal present enormous engineering and logistical challenges. <b>&nbsp; </b>The objectives should be achievable without any revolution or radical change in the way we live. &nbsp; In fact the solutions to the challenges are not only affordable but can be of great economic benefit in the long run.</span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><b>There is no excuse for procrastination. We must see action now<br /> </b></span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Current situation and gross omissions from IPCC</span></p> <p class="p4">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">The IPCC WG1, WG2 and WG3 assessment reports (AR5) make no mention of the downward trend in sea ice volume, and rely on models which fail to properly capture the processes of warming and melting.&nbsp; Furthermore they fail to mention the strong evidence that Arctic warming is already a driver of climate change in the Northern Hemisphere, compounding the effects of global warming.</span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">Arctic warming and sea ice retreat is already having a serious impact on climate change across the Northern Hemisphere, which is affecting food production, food prices and food security. The latest WG2 report claims that the Arctic sea ice will be subject to ‘very high risks with an additional warming of 2 degrees C’. In fact, the September sea ice volume is already down 75% with a trend to zero by September 2016, suggests that the Arctic is heading for complete meltdown, which would be a planetary catastrophe. The loss of Arctic ecosystems and the climate implications of ice disappearance are in fact acute risks NOW as both ice and ice-dependent species are set to disappear within a matter of years.</span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">These are catastrophic omissions.&nbsp; AR5 is supposed to provide the best analysis of the state of the planet and its future climate, on which governments can base policy for protection of citizens. &nbsp; These omissions are leading governments into a false sense of security about the future of our planet.&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">The only clear policy deduction from AR5 concerns the reduction of CO2 emissions by keeping within a carbon budget.&nbsp; Reductions alone have no chance of preventing catastrophes arising from Arctic meltdown.&nbsp; Intervention to cool the Arctic is an absolute requirement to prevent such catastrophes.&nbsp; There is no realistic alternative.</span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">The concept of a carbon budget, espoused in AR5, hides the short-term consequences of various powerful feedback processes which get zero or scant attention in AR5.&nbsp; In particular, snow and sea ice albedo feedback seems to be totally ignored in the budget.&nbsp; And the mounting concentration of methane in the atmosphere is ignored.&nbsp; The real truth is that the carbon budget has already been spent.&nbsp; WG3’s limit of 450 ppm for CO2 equivalent has already been passed, even without taking into account albedo loss.</span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">Governments must also address ocean acidification, whose threat has also been ignored in AR5.&nbsp; There is no alternative but to start a major campaign for CO2 removal (CDR).&nbsp; The latest WG3 assessment report suggests CDR as a possibility for offsetting emissions, but only in so far as for keeping within their carbon budgets of 450ppm CO2e and above, which would have catastrophic consequences for humanity, even without all the other overlooked positive feedbacks described above. CDR must be adopted, being the only possibility in order to stop the existing contribution to global warming of CO2 and ocean acidification.</span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><br /></span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">Meanwhile there is the threat of Arctic methane emissions to burst above the gigaton level, totally ignored in AR5.&nbsp; And the AR5 projections of sea level rise are hopelessly optimistic if the sea ice disappears as rapidly as the trend indicates.</span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><br /></span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><a href="index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=54&amp;catid=2&amp;Itemid=107">About the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, AMEG</a></span></p> <p class="p3">&nbsp;</p></div>