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Winter-Spring 2017

The spring of 2017 saw significant arctic melt which flooded the North Pacific and North Atlantic with cool water and diluted salt content. The result of this will be a mild spring and summer in the Northern Hemisphere. There will be dangerous temperature spikes at time, with India and China especially vulnerable. While storm activity will be reduced, when storms do develop, they will characteristically become very violent if cloud tops reach into the upper stratosphere where the warm-to-cold temperature gradient is extreme.

Arctic melt is proceeding much faster than any global warming model anticipated and the collapse of glaciers in Greenland remains an unknown factor. Should a substantial run into the sea occur, sea levels will rise and will not fall again for millennia. When this will happen remains unknown, and the cutting of funding for research makes it unlikely that there will be any warning.

Due to melt that has already occurred, Bangladesh and parts of New Jersey, Louisiana and  southern Florida are now susceptible to catastrophic flooding if powerful storms should approach them.

There is extensive preparation for this contingency taking place in the Netherlands. California has begun exploring how to prepare. The US, Australian and British governments have chosen to deny the existence of the problem.

The Arctic Methane Emergency Group announced that the summer sea ice loss is "catastrophic" and that a planetary emergency is in progress. Leading climatologist Dr. James Hansen has stated that the Superstorm Scenario is now possible in the Atlantic as cold meltwater floods down into the central Atlantic, creating extreme temperature differentials and setting the stage for storms of an intensity never before recorded, but which did take place during the last period of sudden climate change 15,000 years ago. It does not appear that the temperature gradient is extreme enough to cause such a catastrophe, but the trigger point is unknown.

The past shows us that climate can and will "flip" over the course of a single season. When this happens, it will result in an unprecedented calamity, the full extent and effect of which are impossible to predict. But all food growing areas on the planet will be in jeopardy, and the melting of landlocked glaciers will cause a sea level rise too rapid to save highly developed cities in coastal plains around the world.

This situation is developing much faster than even the most pessimistic climate scientists predicted, but climate change denial, primarily in the United States, has prevented any survival planning of any significance. It is now too late for greenhouse gas reductions to affect the situation. For that to have worked, the United States, which has for most of the past hundred years been the primary emitter of CO2, would have had to start acting aggressively no later than 1990. Unfortunately, political leaders, trading on the public's reluctance to face facts and backed by corporations without the slightest awareness of the danger and concerned only with short term profits, made this impossible.

The most vulnerable areas for extremely violent storms are the Caribbean, especially the eastern Caribbean, and the North American Atlantic Coast from Florida to Newfoundland. When true superstorms develop, sheltering will not be an option. Secondarily, western Europe, especially south Atlantic coastal exposures, Eire, and the United Kingdom may be affected, depending on storm tracks.

Evacuation will be the only way to preserve life, and profound destruction of infrastructure in areas struck by this type of weather system will preclude return. It is also probable, judging from the paleoclimate record, that these storms will develop relatively quickly, and maintain organized structure over broad regions. Thus it is not inconceivable that a single storm could, over its history, affect all parts of the globe it could potentially reach.

The situation could still be ameliorated by aggressive planning, including the building of sea walls over broad coastal areas, and an attempt should still be made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in hope of reducing long term impacts as much as possible.

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. 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. Overall, the superstorm index remains unchanged, as recent scientific studies have served as confirming evidence.