Due to the warming of the North Atlantic, the Gulf Stream has moved into far northern waters, causing a rise in ocean temperatures that threaten to melt billions of tons of methane hydrate frozen on the sea floor. Methane freezes as 47F, and if North Atlantic subsurface temperatures rise, the hydrates will melt into gas and rise into the atmosphere. This will result in alterations of weather patterns on a scale never before encountered in modern human experience.
The instability of the Gulf Stream has also caused the strangest summer weather patterns ever seen to develop in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and has caused violent weather throughout the whole North Atlantic complex.
In the United States, a tremendous storm complex that has become known as Superstorm Sandy brought devastation to the northeastern states, especially New York and New Jersey, where upwards of 50 billion dollars worth of damage was done and over a hundred people lost their lives. Vast numbers of people were without power for days after the storm, and full recovery will take years. At one point the tropical storm, which collided with two cold-weather systems that were crossing the area at the time, extended for a thousand miles from edge to edge. It was not the most powerful storm to strike the region, but it was the largest, and among the largest storms ever recorded.
It was caused by the fact that the northward-drifting Gulf Stream allowed tropical weather patterns to extend much farther north than is normal for the season.
Extreme summer temperatures developed in the high arctic in mid 2012 as even relatively small increases in atmospheric methane led to what will be a record arctic summer. Meanwhile, drought affected the middle of the North American continent, resulting in reduced crop yields which may lead to food shortages in marginal economies in the winter and spring.
The most important climate change skeptic, Dr. Richard Mueller of the University of California at Berkeley, publicly changed his position and stated that he now feels that the studies connecting human carbon dioxide emissions to global warming are correct.
However, a mixed picture regarding CO2 emissions appeared, as it became clear that the world's major emitter, the United States, released less of the gas into the atmosphere in 2011 than it had since 1991. This change is due to a massive reduction in the use of coal, as copious quantities of natural gas are becoming available as a substitute.
At the same time, the extraordinarily hot arctic summer, which included a generalized melt of Greenland, has undoubtedly accelerated methane and nitrous oxide emissions from tundra, and methane emissions from undersea hydrates, which are now melting due to the warming of the arctic ocean.
This situation will lead to a period of climate chaos, and no existing models are prepared to predict based on such extremes, with CO2 levels dropping while methane levels explode in the high arctic.
Greenland melts are a cyclic feature. They take place approximately every 150 years. The last one recorded in ice cores took place in 1889. They last a single season. However, this one has been accompanied by accelerating glacial movement all across the continent, and should it emerge again in the summer of 2013, it will signal a generalized collapse of arctic climate.
Increasing stratospheric temperatures have reduced its temperature differential with the lower atmosphere, which has caused the northern jet stream to become unstable and start to 'wobble.' This situation will continue and worsen until and if the differential is restored and, if extremes are reached, will lead to the collapse of both the jet stream and, as the northern ocean heats, oceanic circulation. Such a situation is profoundly unpredictable, but would certainly cause an initial decline in surface air circulation and the immediate suffocation of significant population areas, primarily those like Tehran, Mexico City, Los Angeles and many Asian cities that are located in valleys or surrounded by mountains.
At present, the decline of temperature differentials between the troposphere and the stratosphere has led to fewer small scale thunderstorms and rainfalls, but when humid air is forced up into the very high reaches of the stratosphere, unusually powerful storm systems. One of many such systems that have developed over the last few years was the 'land hurricane' that struck the eastern United States in the spring of 2012.
READING THE CLIMATE WATCH INDEX: The index is oriented toward the Northern Hemisphere. It checks ice, sea water warmth and current flow, and weather conditions at key points in the arctic. There is also a reading of solar activity, as there is some indication of a relationship between solar storms and weather changes on earth. In general, abnormally high arctic temperatures and low Gulf Stream flow in the winter will mean that the jet stream will be looping far north and south, causing violent weather in the middle latitudes. Extreme summer heat in the arctic will result in more heat further south, and a radical temperature differential between north and south will bring heavy weather across continental areas of Europe and North America. But weather and climate are very complex, and these are never more than probabilities. Movement of the jet stream into the high arctic due to abnormally warm North Atlantic water temperatures during the September--April period indicates probable violent weather in Europe and eastern North America.