Saturday, January 9, 2016

Global IASI Mean Methane Smashes to New Record Spike High

On January 8, 2016, 12-24 hr, the EUMETSAT METOP 1-B IASI instrument measured a global mean methane spike of 2963 ppb during the 12-24 hr period. 

This spike spears through the previous highest 12 hour reading set on April 25, 2015 of 2845 ppb by an almost 5 percent increase.

What is concerning is that in addition to being unusual, this comes on the heels of the recent January 2, 2016 spike to 2745 ppb, which until yesterday, had been the second highest reading in the METOP IASI record since December, 2012.

Time will tell if the increasing level of spikes and global means continues at an accelerating rate. but these are surprising and sobering numbers.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Preliminary NOAA ESRL 2015 Global Mean CO2 Just Under 400 ppm

The NOAA ESRL Global Monitoring Division has not yet released its official global CO2 annual mean on its website, but it has provided the basis for a preliminary figure. The data section at the bottom of the page shows that 2014's annual global CO2 mean was 397.16 ppm. However ESRL has released the preliminary annual mean growth rate for 2015 which is 2.73 ppm.
The math gives us 399.89 ppm for a preliminary global annual mean for 2015.

The problem is, we will likely easily pass a annual global mean of 400 ppm in 2016, and given continued El Nino and other warming factors - perhaps even 402 ppm.

Hopefully the next few days or weeks will see the official update become public.


Ed Dlugokencky and Pieter Tans, NOAA/ESRL (

ESRL Global Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide:

ESRL Global Annual Means Data:

ESRL Global Annual Means Growth Data:

Southern Africa Drought Fuels Food Insecurity for Millions

While Ethiopia has been getting headlines about drought and food scarcity, the larger problem is the scorching Southern Africa is under as it bakes in drought - in some areas the wort in 80 years. Dam levels are dropping, some are already dry. Water scarcity is increasing, and power rationing is in place in many countries. Crop failures are rampant across South Africa, Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique. 

Source: Maps of the

The Climate Prediction Center rainfall anomalies for the last 6 months portray the mounting dire situation. Rain shortfalls in many areas are 100-200 mm. the Democratic Republic of Congo has some areas with a decline of 300 mm, much in central tropical forest areas.
Source: CPC

 As a percent of normal, some areas have received less than 50% of normal rainfall.
Source: CPC

The situation has not eased during the last 30 days, in fact it has gotten worse. The October to January rainfall anomalies depict some areas getting as low as 5% of normal precipitation, during what should normally be a rainy season.
 Source: CPC

The impacts on surface water storage in South Africa reveal dropping reservoirs and water restrictions in major cities, plus water being tankered to outlying areas. Some dams are already at critical levels.

South Africa has just announced that it will have to import up to 5 million tons of corn to get through the next season. According to Yahoo-Reuters, Jannie de Villiers, Chief Executive of Grain SA stated today, "We can now, with a lot of confidence, say we are in a disaster in the maize belt,"  

"We will be lucky if we produce 5 million tonnes this year and then we will need to import 5 million tonnes. This is the sort of scenario that we are looking at."

AS Bloomberg reported, impacts have been a 250% increase in corn prices, much of the spike coming in November and December.

The result is that millions are already in stages of deepening hunger. Zambia's government has banned government sales of corn to Zimbabwe, which has maybe 8 weeks of grain left to feed the country, not enough for the developing crisis. This leaves 1.5 million Zimbabweans facing severe food insecurity in the next two months, in addition to those already malnourished across the country.


Africa Rainfall and Temp Anomalies:

South Africa Water Storage Status:





Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Up in Smoke: US Fire Acreage a Record Smashing 10.1 million Acres

The US National Interagency Fire Center just updated its annual totals for fires and acres burned for 2015. As of December 30, the total fires were 68,151 which consumed 10,125,149 acres . This new record is 251,404 acres more than the prior set in 2006. 

Source: National Interagency Fire Center:

For comparison, the 2015 fire area burned almost equals Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island combined, or an area larger than Switzerland.

Most acres burned in Alaska, a total of 5,146,541 acres or almost 51% of those reported. A Nasa image from September 1, 2015 reveals the scars.

The trend for increasing acreage torched is even more pronounced from 1,323,666 in 1983 to 10,125,149 in 2015 - a 764% increase in 32 years.

So what does this mean?

It means we have experienced millions of tons of black carbon or soot, CO2 and methane being released into the atmosphere from US fires alone, which added to the acceleration of warming in the near and distant future. 

We have experienced more forest and tundra being changed from carbon sinks into sources for green house gases. 

More permafrost is being exposed to warming in future years as peat rich soils are scorched away. The Alaskan fires are becoming more severe. A 2011 article, “Recent Acceleration of Biomass Burning and Carbon Losses in Alaskan Forests and Peatlands” in Nature Geoscience, stated the implications well.

“Soil carbon losses will increase dramatically if warming continues to affect the thawing of permafrost, exposing deeper carbon pools to rapid loss through burning,” they wrote. “In turn, deeper burning events are likely to further accelerate permafrost degradation, potentially triggering a positive feedback between permafrost thaw and severe fire activity.  Such feedback has significant implications for greenhouse gas emissions in northern regions.” Source: Frequent, Severe Fires Turn Alaskan Forests into a Carbon Production Line,

This is only part of the global forest fires trend of adding to the natural sourced increases in CO2 and CH4 release. See: Climate-induced variations in global wildfire danger from 1979 to 2013, Nature Communications, July 14, 2015:


National Interagency Fire Center:

Alaska Interagency Coordination Center - Alaska Acres Burned:

US State sizes in acres:

Country Sizes in Sq Km:

Total Wildland Fires and Acres (1960-2015)
Figures prior to 1983 may be revised as NICC verifies historical data.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Atmospheric Methane Spike to 2745 ppb at 586 mb

On January 2, 2016, 12-24 hrs, the METOP 2-A satellite reported a methane spike of 2745 ppb at 586 mb - approximately 14,385 feet or 4,834 meters. This is the second highest spike I've seen in the OSPO Metop IASI imagery since December, 2012.

While it is tempting to speculate where this spike occurred, in reality the image only narrows a location to an area colored in pink, which are above readings 1950 ppb. It is not anticipated that the spike represents anything more than a momentary concentration. These usually dissipate within in 24 hours. 
The highest methane concentration recorded by the METOP IASI instrument as depicted in the OSPO imagery occurred on April 25, 2015, 0-12 hr at 586 mb and registered 2845 ppb at 586 mb. 

Far more troubling is not the momentary blips in methane readings, but the major jump in global mean methane that has occurred in the last two years.

More on that in an upcoming post.