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Temperature rise threatens to accelerate even more

Global temperature

The above image, from an earlier post, shows that the February 2024 temperature was 1.76°C above 1885-1915, potentially 2.75°C above pre-industrial (bright yellow inset right). The image was created by Sam Carana for with an April 2024 screenshot. The red line (6 months Lowess smoothing) highlights the Regime Change that may have occurred in 2023.

The image below, created with Climate Reanalyzer content, shows that June 2024 was substantially hotter than June 2023, which is significant since we’re not in an El Niño anymore. Moreover, monthly temperatures are also rising.

According to Copernicus, the global-average temperature for the past 12 months (July 2023 – June 2024) has been more than 1.5°C above the 1850-1900 average. Carlo Buontempo, Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), adds: “June marks the 13th consecutive month of record-breaking global temperatures, and the 12th in a row above 1.5°C with respect to pre-industrial. This is more than a statistical oddity and it highlights a large and continuing shift in our climate.” Note that anomalies from a genuinely pre-industrial base could be much higher, as the image at the top discusses.

Sea surface temperature

For more than a year, sea surface temperatures have been much higher than in any previous year on record, as illustrated by the image below.

Feedbacks and further developments

Higher temperatures come with feedbacks, as illustrated by the image below, from an earlier post.

The danger is that feedbacks and further developments will accelerate the temperature rise even more. Critical in this respect is the condition of Arctic sea ice. 

Arctic sea ice decline

The image below, adapted from the Danish Metereological Institute, indicates that Arctic sea ice volume is at a record low for the time of year, as it has been for most of the year. At the same time, sea ice extent is still relatively large; Arctic sea ice extent was 3% below average in June 2024, close to the values observed most years since 2010, according to Copernicus. The implication is that sea ice must be very thin. 

The combination image below, from an earlier post and adapted from the University of Bremen, indicates that most of the thicker sea ice has melted in the course of June 2024, and that the latent heat buffer may be gone soon.

Latent heat buffer

Sea ice constitutes a buffer that consumes ocean heat; the temperature of the water will not rise as long as there is ice, but once all ice has melted, further heat will raise the temperature of the water. 

The amount of energy absorbed by melting ice is as much as it takes to heat an equivalent mass of water from zero to 80°C. 

Loss of the latent heat buffer threatens to strongly heat up the Arctic Ocean, and this increases the danger that further heat will reach methane hydrates at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, causing them to get destabilized resulting in eruption of methane from these hydrates and from free gas underneath that was previously sealed by the hydrates. 

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