Red Snow: Swelling algae incursion is red-lining glacial ice melt

“Watch out where the Huskies go, and don’t you eat that yellow snow!”
F. Zappa (Don’t You Eat the Yellow Snow 1974)

The accuracy of the original set of global warming predictions from more than 40 years ago was shocking when you consider the complexity of the science involved. But there is one caveat: the early researchers now believe they were too conservative in their global warming estimates, both in terms of scale and speed. Global warming has begun and it is going to be worse, sooner, than first predicted.

The primary effects of change are currently found in the polar regions, particularly the Arctic, a region that is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. As the ice sheets and ocean ice break apart, they drive related events that serve to reinforce and accelerate global warming. Meanwhile, the melting permafrost is releasing increasing quantities of methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2.

We have documented those feedback effects here. Bu there are other drivers that are less obvious.

Red snow or watermelon snow is a less well known global warming factor that is both a cause and an effect of the deteriorating situation in the Arctic. The phenomenon is caused by an exploding population of red/pink algae on the snowfields of Alaska and Greenland and elsewhere in the region.

This bizarre phenomenon makes it appear as if someone has sprinkled red dye on the snow fields, but the actual cause is two algae species Chlamydomonas nivalis and C. nivalis. Other than the startling visual effects, the blanket of microbes serves to accelerate ice melt on the glacier by decreasing snow reflectivity and increasing sunlight absorption. Published in a September issue of Nature Geoscience, the latest research shows that the algae cover accounts for 10% – 15% of total snow melt.

In this sense, watermelon snow is related to Frank Zappa’s admonition: “Watch out where the huskies go and don’t you eat that yellow snow.” Different cause, same effect.

Algae blooms are not new to the region, but warming temperatures are causing larger incursions from year to year. This in turn generates another positive feedback loop because more algae grows as the quantity of ice water increases and the range of the algae expands.

When increased algae cover melts the snow off the ice field, it also serves to accelerate  melting because ice reflects less sunlight than clean snow. More warming.

The overall effect is similar to that of black soot deposits, which are also increasing the rate of melt in the Arctic.

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Wildfires Consume Napa & Sonoma Counties As Thousands Flee

21 dead and 150 missing as multiple wildfires race across freeways, farmland and forests in famous wine region

21 Die Over 150 Missing As Fast Moving Wildfires Consume Napa & Sonoma Counties

20,000 evacuated their homes and businesses burned as wildfires consumed upwards of 100,000 acres and 2500 structures in Napa and Sonoma Counties, CA. The pre-dawn skies were filled with flame and smoke as citizens fled multiple, out-of-control fires, driven by winds up to 70 MPH.

A number of wineries have been torched, although many of the grape crops had already been harvested.

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Rising CO2 Levels Are Depleting Plant Nutrients

As Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Increases, Plants Produce More Carbohydrates But Fewer Vitamins and Minerals

Global warming, ocean acidification and rising seas levels are well known effects of rapidly rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere, tracking the elevation of carbon dioxide levels from 280 PPM to 410 PPM over the past 250 years.

Less well known at this point is the effect higher CO2 levels are having on plants: the carbon junk food effect if you will. According to a growing body of research, more CO2 in the atmosphere shifts glucose production into overdrive, but at the expense of nutritional components. That means food is less nutritious – marginally at this point, but with ominous possibilities for the future of people who eat.

Ironically, this phenomenon is the real world scientific manifestation of a bogus climate denier argument: “well, I thought trees breathed CO2 and produce oxygen, so global warming should be a good thing.”

This nonsense is from the same school of stupid as “I wouldn’t mind a little more warmer weather.” In reality, that kind of smirky reasoning is driven by millions of dollars of campaign contributions from fossil fuel interests. Ain’t that true, Lamar?

On Earth, every thing with leaves on is producing increased levels of sugars (carbohydrates, glucose) as CO2 levels go up, an outcome expected by our knowledge of photosynthesis. In a sense, more CO2 is overfeeding green vegetation and accelerating photosynthesis. But as carbohydrate production increases, other nutrients in the food supply are diluted. This is similar to the “empty calories” alarm that has already been sounded about the fast food nation we live in: plenty of calories but fewer nutrients create the treadmill of obesity.

Agricultural researchers have noted for decades that foods consumed by humans have been getting less nutritious. Ongoing commercial and academic studies of fruits and vegetable production for the past half century prove without a doubt that calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin C and protein content has been dropping. Until recently, the assumption among scientists was that higher yield agricultural practices were the cause (it is expected that higher yield crops will be less nutritious).

At present levels, the estimated drop is a seemingly unalarming 2-4%, depending what part of the plant is consumed. However, we also know that the decadeslong forced trend toward more sugar in foods is responsible for the epidemic of diabetes and obesity in America and, increasingly, the world as a whole.

It should also be noted that atmospheric CO2 levels are accelerating quickly and will reach 550 PPM within the next several decades (AKA the hockey stick). At that point, the nutritional content of food with be an issue.

If any food is growing at all at that point.

This post distills content from the Guardian, Politico, and the Genetic Literacy Project and the original article published in Science.

Posted in Nutrient Depletion in Plants | Comments Off

110,000 Displaced By Nigeria Floods

August – September Rains/Floods Devastate Benue State In Nigeria

Over 110,000 Nigerians fled their homes because of major flooding in the central state of Benue. The flooding follows two weeks of record rains.

At least three people are dead, but the process of tallying casualties and damage has not yet begun.

Nigeria’s economy has not yet fully recovered from a nationwide inundation across 30 of its 36 states in 2011. The dead numbered in the hundreds and two million people were left homeless.

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106F Heat Record In San Francisco Just The Tip of the Iceberg

The cool, foggy City by the Bay hit 106F on Friday, breaking the all time record set in 2000 (103) and the hottest in 150 years of record keeping. The normal temps of this time of year is 70.


The record was not an isolated event this summer, as locations around the world confirmed that disturbing trend Al Gore talks about from time to time, the one that Republicans say is not happening.

  • Iran 128.7F: Late June saw the highest temperature ever recorded in Iran. Some
  • Spain 116F: Spain broke the national record for highest temperature on a single day in Mid-July.
  • Pakistan 128.3F The City of Turbat tied the all time national record for Pakistan.
  • Shanghai 105.6F: The world’s populous city hit it’s highest temp in July.
  • Death Valley, CA World Record! Not to be outdone, Death Valley broke its own record for the hottest month ever recorded on the planet Earth.
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East Antarctica: Totten Ice Shelf Thinning From Below

A major Antarctic ice sheet, once believed to be stable, is anything but…

Warming waters from the southern Indian Ocean are slipping under the Totten Ice Shelf in East Antarctica and thinning the ledge from below. The Totten Shelf, which sits on on the coast and floats on the waster, holds back the massive East Antarctic glacier, an ice sheet about the size of the continental United States.

Because the ice shelf appeared to be stable when observed from about, scientists believed that the ice shelf and the sheet behind it were stable. Recent observations on the ground suggest that the shelf has been thinning for the past few decades.

The Totten shelf appears to be following the same basic scenario as the Larsen A, B and C shelves, all of which have collapsed in the past 20 years.


Ice shelves are a sort of hybrid between the vast ice sheets that cover Greenland and Antarctica and sea ice, which floats in the polar regions. What makes ice shelves interesting to scientists is the fact that they serve to hold back the continent-sized glaciers behind them. When ice shelves collapse, as the Larsen C shelf did earlier in 2017, the glaciers behind them “speed up”, accelerating their flow into the oceans. When land ice flows into the sea and melts, it contributes significantly to sea level rise because the water/ice has not previously been in the ocean.

If the East Antarctica ice sheet melted, it would raise sea levels globally up to 60 feet.

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Massive Mountain Tidal Waves Threaten Villages As Peruvian Glaciers Collapse

High in the Peruvian Andes, Lake Palcacocha is the poster child for global warming-driven glacier collapse disasters

At the top of the mountain is Lake Palcacocha and the dwindling glacier that feeds it. In the lake is several billions gallons of ice water. An avalanche into the lake would generate a 100 ft high wave that would destroy the dam below and bury the city of Huaraz and it’s 200,000 residents. Along with the water would come trees, mud and everything else on the mountainside.

The phenomenon, a growing threat globally, is known as Glacial Lake Outburst Floods, or GLOF.

There is historical documentation of the looming danger. In 1941, the dam collapsed and sent a tidal wave down the mountain, killing thousands in Huaraz.  Now the city has ten times more residents and the dam is holding back 30 x more water due to the increase in glacier melt.

This scenario is repeated across a score of mountain ranges around the Andes nation: as the glaciers that provide water for Peru collapse under the onslaught of global warming, large chunks of these ice caps break off and crash down. Depending on the terrain, a high percentage of them are poised to collapse into high altitude lakes, some of which are held back by dams.

The recipe for a spectacular disaster is easy to see and the government has taken some steps to engineer early warning systems for downstream villages.  Many of the dams that collect glacier runoff have been fitted with emergency warning systems that warn of rupture, but an avalanche causing an overflow would happen too quickly to prevent large scale damage and death.

Unfortunately, some of the equipment has been dismantled and destroyed by villagers, who believe the gringo machines are responsible for the drought. They do not believe in global warming. Sound familiar?

A slower moving catastrophe is also in the making: the country is running out of water as runoff from the glaciers dries up. Where once there was snow, only bare rock shows now. Along with global warming comes a disruption in weather patterns, as the country endures yet another extended drought.

“We have glaciers across 19 mountain ranges. They are all shrinking.” – Marco Zapata of Peru’s Institute for Glacier Research.

There are ways that the danger could be reduced while at the same time improving long term water supplies, but government corruption and the resulting suspicion on the part of the citizens has thus far prevented any changes.

At some point there will be a multi-billion dollar disaster and something may or may not happen.


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US Coastal Naval Bases Going Under – Fast

“From the tactical side our bases and stations on the coast are going underwater.” – Ret. Marine Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney

According to the latest warning from the US Military, the world’s largest naval base is (and has been) under severe threat of a rapidly rising Atlantic Ocean. The Norfolk /Hampton Roads Naval Yards is now closed multiple time a year due to severe flooding in the area. The tidal gauge that NOAA has operated at Sewell’s Point, VA since 1927 shows 15 inches of increase. the rate is accelerating. Another 4 to 7 inches of sea level rise is expected by 2030.

Hampton Roads is the only place in the world the Navy builds aircraft carriers.

The Navy is taking the situation seriously enough that serious discussion of moving multiple coastal bases is underway. On a global scale, a 2016 Navy Times article reported that 128 military bases are at risk from sea level rise.

According to Brig. Gen. Cheney’ testimony before Congress in July, “Climate change is already affecting security both at home and around the world, so we must make sure that we take the greenhouse gas emissions from energy into account, lest we trade increased energy security today for a warmer, more unstable world in the future.”

Of course, the way forward is somewhat unclear due to the fact that the Trump Administration is opposed to global warming.

Sea level rise and coastal flooding represent a well-documented threat to national security. After General Cheney’s testimony, the Trump administration rolled back a regulation that would have provided assistance “improve the resilience of communities and federal assets against the impacts of flooding.”

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Mountainslide Engulfs Congo Fishing Village After Deluge


200+ people have were killed Wednesday by a massive landslide in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Tora, a fishing village on the coast of Lake Albert in Ituri province was engulfed as the side of a mountain cascaded down and engulfed the houses.

The disaster comes after more than 400 people were killed by a massive mudslide in Freetown, Sierra Leone on Monday.

Calling these large scale catastrophes mountain slides or land slides give the casual reader the impression that they are random acts of nature. But as is so often the case, this event and the one that killed hundreds in Sierra Leone earlier in the week are creations of humankind, combined with global warming, which is also a creation of humankind. The immediate cause of the earth collapse was combination of extreme rainfall and deforestation. There is nothing to hold the soil on the mountainside, and it collapses into the valley. People live under these conditions because they have no choice.

The DRC is already in the midst of a major humanitarian crisis, with close to 8 million people living on the brink of starvation.

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Extreme Wildfires: The New Normal

British Columbia, Northern California, France, Spain, Greece, Croatia, Siberia, Montenegro, Portugal

More than 1,000 wildfires threatened beaches and neighborhoods in Rome and the port of Ostia in central Italy.

10,000 residents and vacationers were evacuated from beaches and campsites in the Riviera and coastal Southern France.

Forest fires in Siberia grew by 1,000 hectares in one day, now covering a total of 24,000 hectares. Also affected are the regions of Sakhalin, Kamchatka, Buryatia and Krasnoyarsk Regions.

About 20 forest fires are burning across the western Peloponnese in Greece.

Adriatic coastal areas in Croatia and Montenegro are consumed by wildfires as high temps and winds drive torch tens of thousands of acres across Southern Europe.

At least 200 forest fires followed May flooding in central British Columbia, as more than 14,000 people are forced to evacuate.

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