00:18 BOULDER, CO SUDDEN WINTER FIRESTORM [Dec 30] Fast moving fires took Colorado by surprise, driving people from their homes with no notice. Fanned by 110 MPH winds and extended drought, the Marshall fire is now was the most destructive in the state’s history. Four of the top five worst wildfires occurred between 2018 and 2021.
00:30 DRAMATIC LIGHTING STRIKE INCREASE IN THE ARCTIC The region around the North Pole (north of 80° latitude) recorded 7,278 lightning hits in 2021, double the number of hits recording for the previous nine years COMBINED. This phenomenon is all the more alarming because this type of weather was rare in the Arctic due to lack of heat convection. Average temperatures in the Arctic are increasing a rate 3 times that of the rest of the planet.
1:57 OCEANS CONTINUED TO ABSORB RECORD AMOUNTS OF HEAT AND CO2: The Earth’s oceans have been absorbing the excess heat created by greenhouse gas emissions for an estimated 20 years. The steady warming is generating today’s extreme weather events such as hurricanes, which intensify much more quickly. the oceans warming eight times faster since the late 1980s than in the three previous decades. According to new 2022 research, extreme heat in the global ocean passed the “point of no return” in 2014.
2:36 THE DOOMSDAY GLACIER The Thwaites Ice Shelf – otherwise known as the Doomsday Glacier – has become more and more unstable in recent years, along with the Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica. These “glaciers” are actually ice shelves, a hybrid coastal formation with one end on the land and the other floating in the warming seas. Ice shelves are a critical feature of both the Arctic and Antarctic because they act as plugs on the trillions of tons of land ice as it moves toward the seas.
The Antarctic ice sheet averages one mile thick and contains about 30% of the planet’s fresh water. It is already responsible for about 4% of sea level rise around the world.
Simply put, if this ice (not to mention more trillions of tons on the Greenland land mass) continue to accelerate into the Southern Ocean, the effect on coastal sea level rise will be catastrophic. Equally catastrophic will be the change in the ocean’s basic chemistry as more fresh water is added.
Fun Fact: the Twaites Glacier is about the size of Great Britain. The rate of melt has doubled in the past two decades.
3:04 RECORD GERMAN FLASH FLOODS In the Rhineland (July 2021) and surrounding countries dealt Germany its costliest natural disaster of all time. The estimated $40 billion in damages far exceeded insurance coverage, which will only pay out on about 25% of the losses. The nation was starkly unprepared for the onslaught of torrential rains, with more than 220 people killed.
3:16 TOXIC SEAWEED INVADES CARIBBEAN Call it seaweed, call it algae, Sargassum has invaded the beaches of the Caribbean Sea in increasing quantities for about a decade. While it is not a new phenomenon, warming waters are driving larger and larger blooms, which are not clogging beaches with sulfurous piles of rotting Sargassum. Insects are attracted to the brown piles, but tourists most definitely are not. The water borne little shop of horrors fouls nets and propeller and kills marine animals such as turtles and dolphins. At one point, Barbadoes declared a national emergency.
3:17 SEA LEAVEL RISE FLORIDA While the focus is generally on the high value high risk coastal properties in Miami & environs, the incursions of salt water inland has begun. The canal infrastructure built to drain high tides and flood water back into the Atlantic are failing because the ocean is now higher than the land the canals are supposed to drain. Following Tropic Storm Eta, floodwaters remained in parts of Broward County for weeks. Said one resident:
“It was pretty scary. I stepped out of house into ankle-deep water. It came three-fourths up the driveway. I’d never seen the water that high. It was scary because I didn’t know if it was going to continue to rise.”