Climate Change Chronicles: Warmest November in recorded history


If we keep breaking these records we're going to break the planet:

Scientists with the Copernicus Climate Change Service said that global temperatures in November were 0.1 degree Celsius (about 0.2 degree Fahrenheit) above the previous record-holders, in 2016 and 2019. November 2020 was 0.8 degree Celsius (or 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the average from 1981 to 2010.

Warm conditions persisted over large swaths of the planet, with temperatures the highest above average across Northern Europe and Siberia, as well as the Arctic Ocean. Much of the United States was warmer than average as well.

Considering that Northern Europe, Siberia, and Northern Canada have massive quantities of methane stored in the permafrost, saying this is "not good news" is a huge understatement. As if that were not enough, we're only a few weeks away from the auctioning of oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR):

The Trump administration has announced plans to sell oil and gas leasing rights next month for a section of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), a move that environmental and Indigenous groups said threatened the sprawling wildlife reserve in Alaska. In a statement on Thursday, the United States Bureau of Land Management said the lease sale for the ANWR coastal plain would be conducted via livestream on January 6, just days before the inauguration of US President-elect Joe Biden.

President Donald Trump authorised oil and gas exploration in the ANWR coastal plain in 2017 despite widespread and long-standing opposition from wildlife conservation advocates, Indigenous communities and some US legislators.

“Any oil companies that bid on lease sales for the coastal plain of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge should brace themselves for an uphill legal battle fraught with high costs and reputational risks,” the group’s president and CEO, Jamie Rappaport Clark, said in a statement. “Defenders will not stand by as the government despoils lands sacred to Indigenous people, wipes out one of the most imperiled polar bear populations in the US and industrializes the crown jewel of the national wildlife refuge system.”

Environmentalists and wildlife advocates have successfully defended this area for decades, and hopefully this will get tied up (and reversed) in court. But it's not just the habitats we should be concerned about. Fugitive methane emissions from drilling activities (including pipelines) are bad enough in temperate regions. It would be worse under these conditions, and that additional methane would add to that being released via melting permafrost. A combination punch the Arctic just can't take.

Back to the OP for a summary of Arctic warming problems:

The Copernicus service scientists said the warm conditions in the Arctic last month had slowed the freeze-up of ice in the Arctic Ocean. The extent of sea-ice coverage was the second lowest for a November since satellites began observing the region in 1979. A slower freeze-up could lead to thinner ice and thus more melting in the late spring and summer.

The Arctic has been extraordinarily warm for much of the year, part of a long-term trend in which the region is warming significantly faster than other areas of the world. The warmth contributed to extensive wildfires in Siberia during the summer and led to the second-lowest minimum sea-ice extent for a September, the end of the summer melting season.

Happy Monday.