Friday, December 7, 2012

AMEG Strategic Plan


AMEG Strategic Plan

This strategic plan was prepared by the independent policy group, AMEG (the Arctic Methane Emergency Group), comprising a multidisciplinary team of leading scientific experts, system engineers, communicators and concerned citizens.


The purpose of this document is firstly to warn the world of the extreme and imminent danger of global famine and ensuing strife created by rapid Arctic warming and precipitous sea ice retreat, and secondly to provide a strategic plan for handling this situation.

The international community is totally unprepared for the speed of change in the Arctic, the dramatic effects on global climate and the dire repercussions on food production.

The tendency among scientists and the media has been to ignore or understate the seriousness of the situation in the Arctic.  AMEG is using best available evidence and best available explanations for the processes at work.  These processes include a number of vicious cycles which are growing in power exponentially, involving ocean, atmosphere, sea ice, snow, permafrost and methane.  If these cycles are allowed to continue, the end result will be runaway global warming.

The situation is so urgent that, unless appropriate action is taken within a few months, the window of opportunity will be lost.  Adaptation to the consequences will be impossible, as famine spreads inexorably to all countries.

The situation is of unprecedented danger in the history of civilisation.  Humans are not psychologically prepared to deal with such mortal danger except by suppressing thoughts of it.  But we, as a human society, have to “get a grip” if we are to survive.

The good news is that AMEG believes that the emergency situation can be handled, but only if faced squarely and treated with focus, determination and urgency.  The international community must not only tackle the effects of a growing number and severity of weather extremes, tantamount to abrupt climate change, but must also tackle the underlying cause: a vicious cycle of Arctic warming and sea ice retreat.

Peoples of the world must be told the truth about the extreme danger that we all face.  Then there is a unique opportunity for all nations to pull together to fight the common “enemy”, which is the vicious cycle of Arctic warming and sea ice retreat.

Governments of the world must not pretend that there is no immediate crisis.  They must understand the chain reaction of cause and effect, and collaborate to protect all citizens.


Abrupt climate change is upon us.  Extreme weather events are on the increase. Farmers are in despair.  Food prices are rising.  The UN climate change policy simply based on emissions reduction cannot deal with the immediate danger.  The UN and member governments should have acted years ago to avert the crisis now unfolding.  What has been happening in the Arctic has been completely overlooked, and now only drastic action to cool the Arctic has any chance of rescuing humanity.

A key factor is the Arctic sea ice, whose reflection of sunshine keeps the planet cool.  Remove the sea ice, and not only does the planet start to overheat, but the whole climate is suddenly changed.  The global weather systems, on whose predictability farmers rely, are dependent for their stability on there being a temperature gradient between tropics and the poles.  Remove the snow and ice at one pole, and the weather systems go awry and we have “global weirding”.  Furthermore, the weather systems get stuck in one place, and we get weather extremes: long spells of hot/dry weather with drought, or long spells of cold/wet weather with floods.

This global weirding has started with a vengeance.  The sea ice is rapidly disappearing.  The behaviour of the polar jet stream is disrupted.  Extreme weather events occur more often and with greater ferocity.  And the food price index climbs and climbs.

There is an obvious relationship between strife and food – if you starve a nation they will fight to get food.  This relationship has been pinned down by an organisation called the Complex Systems Institute, CSI.  They show that the food riots break out when the food price index rises above a certain critical level.  An example was the Arab Spring.

Figure 1 ~ A trend line analysis of CSI data

Figure 1 adds trend lines to the CSI data, the Rabobank Report forecast for UN FAO Food Price Index for June 2013 and the potential repeat of 2008 and 2011 at the elevated levels resulting from the overall underlying trend of line 1.

The current index is above the critical level.  Because of extreme weather events this year, the index is expected to rise again in 2013.  The UN’s food watchdog, the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation), forecast that the index will rise even further in 2014.  

Meanwhile the insurance industry is worried by the trend towards greater number and strength of extreme weather events, including hurricanes.  Note that Sandy’s cost was greatly amplified by the diversion westward at it approached the coast off New York.  Sandy had hit a jet stream blocking pattern.  The loss of Arctic sea ice is leading to this kind of unusual event become more frequent.  The insurers are worried, but governments should be even more worried, because extreme weather events will drive the food price index even higher.

The critical situation

Figure 2 ~ Connecting the dots and breaking the chain

As the sea ice retreats, exposed water absorbs more sunshine, heating the water and causing further melt of the sea ice in a vicious cycle.  This appears to be the dominant positive feedback loop in the Arctic, although snow retreat may contribute nearly as much to the warming of the Arctic generally in a second feedback loop.

A further feedback loop is ominous: as the Arctic warms, the thawing of land and subsea permafrost allows the discharge of growing quantities of the potent greenhouse gas, methane, which in turn causes further warming in a vicious cycle.  This cycle is not yet noticeable.  However there is over a trillion tons of carbon stored in permafrost in the form of organic material, which is liable to decompose anaerobically to form methane.  And the permafrost forms the cap on an even larger carbon store already in the form of methane.  Most scientists now accept that Northern Hemisphere land permafrost will thaw entirely this century.  There is the potential for the release of enough methane into the atmosphere to cause runaway global warming, with temperatures rising well over ten degrees C.

The most immediate negative impact of these cycles and the resultant rapid warming of the Arctic atmosphere is a disruption of polar jet stream from its normal behaviour, such that there are more frequent and more severe weather extremes experienced in the Northern Hemisphere.  This impact has grown so conspicuously over the past few years that we can honestly say that we are now experiencing abrupt climate change.  The result of this climate change is widespread crop failure and an ever deepening food crisis.

A measure of the worsening situation is the food price index.  This has spikes when the price of oil rises, but the underlying value has been rising steadily since 2006.  Today, the index is slightly more than the critical price level above which food riots are liable to break out – an example having been the Arab Spring.  Largely as a result of the crop failures this year, the FAO forecast that the index will rise higher in 2013 and higher again in 2014.  If the trend in weather extremes continues, then these figures could prove optimistic.  With a billion people on the edge of starvation today, we could see 2 billion by this time next year.  It will be a humanitarian disaster.  Furthermore, social unrest will rise, and economic growth and stability compromised in the developed and developing countries.

However there are longer term impacts and threats of Arctic warming, in particular (i) Greenland Ice Sheet destabilisation, (ii) accelerated methane discharge, (iii) loss of biodiversity and habitat, and (iv) heat absorption making it more difficult to keep to global warming targets.

As the snow and sea ice retreat from their levels in the 70s, more solar energy is absorbed.  Taking the 70s as the baseline (zero forcing), this year's retreat produced as much as 0.4 petawatts of climate forcing averaged over the year.  Much of this heat energy is retained in the Arctic, causing ice to melt and sea and land temperatures to rise.  As temperatures rise, there will be slightly more thermal radiation into space, dissipating some of this energy.  However most of this heat energy will slowly dissipate across the planet - and 0.4 petawatts is equivalent to half the forcing producing by anthropogenic CO2 emissions (1.6 watts per square metre).  Peter Wadhams has estimated that the sea ice retreat by itself is equivalent to the forcing from 20 years of CO2 emissions, thus making it much more difficult for the global temperature to be kept below the so-called safe limit of 2 degrees warming.

However these long term effects are somewhat academic, if the immediate impact is to raise food prices far above a safe level.

It is much easier to think about and quantify the longer term impacts of Arctic warming than the more immediate impacts.  This is a trap for the unwary.  Therefore AMEG is trying to bring the world's attention to the immediate impacts, as they turn out to be colossal even this year, and are likely to be worse in 2013 and even worse than that in 2014.

It is clear that abrupt climate change has started, but not in the way we had been told to expect.  Yes, there would be more climate extremes as the planet heated, but we were expecting a linear or near linear behaviour of the climate system, with gradual temperature change over the century.  Instead we have striking non-linearity, with exponential growth in frequency and severity of climate extremes.  This non-linearity is almost certain to have arisen from the exponential decline in sea ice, as shown in the PIOMAS sea ice volume trend.  The trend is for September ice to fall to zero by 2015.  Thus we can expect one month without sea ice in 2015, with the possibility for this event in 2014 or even in 2013.

Apart from volcanic eruptions and earthquakes with their step changes of state, the behaviour of the sea ice is possibly the most non-linear part of the Earth System because the melting is a threshold process.  Until recently it was not well understood how the retreat of sea ice could cause a commensurate increase in weather extremes.  But now it has become clear.

The retreat of sea ice is causing a non-linear rise in Arctic temperature, so that it is now rising at about 1 degree per decade, which is about 6x faster than global warming, reckoned to be rising at between 0.16 and 0.17 degree per decade.  The temperature gradient between the tropics and the Arctic has reduced significantly over the past decade, as a result of this so-called ‘Arctic amplification of global warming’.

It now appears that the polar jet stream behaviour is critically dependent on this gradient.  As the gradient diminishes, the jet stream meanders more, with greater amplitude of the Rossby waves and therefore with peaks further north and troughs further south.  This effect alone produces weather extremes - hot weather further north than normal and cold weather further south than normal.

But as well as meandering more, the jet stream is also tending to get stuck in so-called 'blocking patterns', where, instead of moving gradually eastwards, the jet stream wave peak or wave trough stays in much the same place for months.  This blocking may be due to stationary highs over land mass and lows over ocean, with the jet stream weaving round them.  Here we may be a witnessing of a dynamic interaction between the effects of Arctic amplification and global warming.

Note that there was a similar dynamic interaction in the case of Sandy.  Ocean surface warmed by global warming lent strength to the hurricane and provided a northerly storm track up the coast; and then a sharp left turn over New York was prompted by meeting a jet stream blocking pattern.

As a climate scientist, one might have expected a reduced gradient between tropics and pole to have some effect on weather systems, because there is less energy to drive them.  The normal pattern comprises 3 bands of weather systems around the planet for each hemisphere, with each band having 'cells' of circulating air.  The air rises at the tropics, falls at the next boundary, rises at the next, and falls at the pole.  There has to be an odd number of bands, so that there is air rising at the equator and falling at the poles.  The jet streams are at the boundary between the bands.

As the temperature gradient between tropics and pole reduces, one would expect the weather systems to spread in a chaotic manner, meandering more wildly.  This is exactly what has been observed.

The sticking of the jet stream must be associated with non-uniformities of surface topology and heat distribution.  Thus highs and/or lows are getting stuck over some feature or other, while the jet stream meanders around them.

Thus there is a reasonable explanation for how we are getting weather extremes, simply as a result of a reduced temperature gradient between Arctic and tropics.   Another argument that has been given, most notably by Professor Hansen, is that the extreme weather events are simply a result of global warming - i.e. a general rise in temperature over the whole surface of the planet.  Global warming can indeed explain a gradual increase in the average intensity of storms (whose energy is derived from sea surface warming) and in the peaks of temperature for heat waves.  But global warming does not explain the observed meandering of the jet stream and associated weather extremes, both hot/dry and cold/wet, whereas the warming of the Arctic can explain these observations.  Furthermore the non-linear warming of the Arctic can explain the non-linear increase of extreme events.

Since this hypothesis seems reasonable, it is fitting that the precautionary principle should be applied when it comes to trends.  The forecasting of extreme events must take into account the trend towards more extreme events as the Arctic warms.  And the Arctic is liable to be warm about twice as fast in 2015 as it in 2012, because of sea ice retreat.

This all adds up to a picture of abrupt climate change in the Arctic, now spreading to the Northern Hemisphere and soon to afflict the whole planet.  These changes must be halted and then reversed.  Meanwhile the effect on food security must be handled before the whole situation gets much worse.

Handling the food crisis

What should a country do, when faced by such a grave food crisis?  The immediate response may be to become introspective and try and insulate the country from what is happening in the rest of the world.  For a country like the UK, this is difficult, because of importing 40% of food and much of its energy requirements, such as natural gas from Kuwait.  For the US, self-sufficiency has been a goal for energy, but there is a food problem from weather extremes, which particularly seem to affect the country.

For countries which have been net exporters of basic foodstuffs, the response may be to halt exports, as Russia did for wheat recently to protect its citizens but pushing up the food price index in the process.  If this type of response is widespread, then a vicious cycle of food price increase and protectionism could develop, with a stifling of world trade and an increase in strife between countries.

But what people must not do is to ignore the non-linear trends and blame the weather extremes either on random fluctuations or on essentially linear effects such as global warming.  The danger is that governments will do nothing at all to address the underlying cause of the linearity, which lies in the vicious cycle of Arctic warming and sea ice retreat.

We believe that a sensible strategy is two-fold: to deal with the symptoms of the disease and the cause of the disease.

The most conspicuous symptoms are floods, droughts, food price increase, security of food supply and food shortages.  Less conspicuous are the effects of food price increase on global unrest and the spread of disease among humans, animals and plants.  Water shortages may also be a growing issue in many countries. The changing frequency, severity, path and predictability of tropical storms (hurricanes, typhoons, monsoons, etc) will be a major issue for many countries, especially those with large coastal conurbations and those who depend on regular monsoons. Coastal regions and cities that have hitherto been immune to such storms may suffer great damage, as happened with Sandy to New York and could happen to Dubai.

Countries which rely heavily on one crop for income are liable to be heavily hit by weather changes.

By studying trends, one can estimate how quickly the situation is likely to deteriorate.  One can see an exponential rise in extreme weather events, and the food price index is liable to follow this trend because of reduced agricultural productivity.

The price of food is dependent on a number of factors besides agricultural productivity, and these are under human control.

The policy of “food for fuel” has undoubtedly driven up the price of food, so this policy needs to be changed.  Biofuel can still be part of policy, but must come from sustainable sources and without competing with food. For example biofuel from the biochar process can actually benefit food production, because the residue from heating biomass and producing the biofuel is a form of charcoal that can be used for improving soils, water retention, and crop yields.

An important factor in the price of food is the price of oil, because of use of oil in agriculture, not only for farm machinery and food transport but also for artificial fertiliser.   Unfortunately much oil comes from countries where much of the population is on the bread line, so the social unrest from food price increase can shut down access to the oil which further pushes up the cost of food in a vicious cycle.

Speculation on the price of oil can be a major factor in producing spikes in the food price index, so this needs to be discouraged in some way.  Similarly speculation on food commodities needs to be discouraged.

Perhaps the most important factor is management of food stocks, seed stocks, planting practice (use of monoculture, GM crops, etc.), timing of planting and irrigation.  The timing becomes increasingly problematic as global weirding increases and weather becomes more unpredictable.  There needs to be advice to farmers on how to cope – e.g. by judicious diversification and reduced reliance on single crop planting.

Cooling the Arctic

Dealing with the underlying cause of the climate extremes turns out to be even more important than dealing with the consequences on food security, because the underlying cause is a process which is gaining momentum and could become unstoppable in 2013.

In effect, we are approaching a point of no return, after which it will be impossible to rescue the situation.

The speed of action is required because of the speed of sea ice retreat.  All indications are that there will be a major collapse of sea ice next year, with a new record minimum.  And September 2015 is likely to be virtually sea ice free.

This is the inescapable evidence from the PIOMAS sea ice volume data.

Even if there were no danger from passing a point of no return, rapid action would be worthwhile because of the financial and human cost of the abrupt climate change.

The only chance of halting this abrupt climate change in its tracks is to cool the Arctic, and prevent Arctic amplification disrupting the jet stream more than it is at the moment.  Delay to such action would cost around a trillion dollars per year and put a billion people into starvation.

Figure 3 ~ The trend analysis of PIOMAS data

The target should be to prevent a new record low of sea ice extent next year (2013).  This involves providing sufficient cooling power into the Arctic to offset the warming which has built up as the sea ice has retreated.  This warming is due to the “albedo flip effect” and is estimated as being up to 0.4 petawatts averaged over the year.  This warming has to be countered by an equal cooling power, if the target is to be met.

This is a colossal engineering and logistics challenge.  A war effort on developing, testing and deploying geoengineering techniques would be justified to meet the target.

Cloud effects that could be exploited to cool the Arctic

Clouds have effects in opposite directions: reflecting sunshine back into space and reflecting thermal radiation back to Earth.  The former cools, the latter heats.  Geoengineering tries to enhance the former and/or diminish the latter, to alter the balance towards cooling.  The balance is critically dependent on the droplet size: there is an optimum size for reflecting sunlight, as for the particles to make white paint.  Particles much larger than this will reflect thermal radiation strongly.

When the sun is high in the sky, the balance is towards cooling by reflection of sunlight; but when the sun is low in the sky, the balance is towards heating by reflection of thermal radiation.  Thus techniques for cloud brightening tend not to work well in winter at high latitudes.  

Clouds also can produce snow which will generally increase albedo to around 0.85 where it falls; whereas rain will generally reduce albedo by melting any snow and by forming puddles or pools on land or ice surfaces.  However, rain or snow falling through a dusty atmosphere can darken the surface on which it falls.  Hence the black carbon from tundra fires may have some sunshine reflecting effect while in the atmosphere, but then reduce albedo when it’s washed out.

There are a number of different things to do with clouds: create them (typically as a haze), brighten them, extend their life, reduce them by precipitation (rain or snow), or reduce them by evaporation.  

Perhaps the simplest form of geoengineering is to create a haze.  Particles or fine droplets of haze in the troposphere tend to get washed out of the air within days or weeks, whereas if they are in the stratosphere they can last for months or even a few years, depending on their initial altitude and latitude.  The stratosphere Brewer-Dobson meridional circulation has air slowly moving in an arc from lower latitudes to higher latitudes, see

By judicial choice of quantity, altitude and latitude for injection of aerosols, one can obtain a much longer cooling effect in the stratosphere than in the troposphere. Thus one needs much less aerosol in the stratosphere to produce the equivalent effect in the troposphere.  Note that the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 produced a global cooling of 0.5 degrees C over a period of two years.

Providing cloud condensation nuclei (CNN) of the right size can brighten clouds without significantly affecting their lifetime. Sulphate aerosol in the troposphere produce both a reflective haze and CNN. These combined effects from aerosol ‘pollution’ have masked global warming by as much as 75%.  If all coal-fired power stations were shut down, there would be a significant decrease in aerosol cooling and an upward leap in the rate of global warming.

Three preferred cooling techniques

A combination of three cooling techniques is proposed, to give flexibility in deployment and maximise the chances of success:
  • stratospheric aerosols to reflect sunlight;
  • cloud brightening to reflect more sunlight;
  • cloud removal to allow thermal radiation into space.

The first technique mimics the action of large volcanoes such as Mt Pinatubo which erupted in 1991 and had a cooling effect of 0.5 degrees C over 2 years due to the sulphate aerosols it produced in the stratosphere.  However larger particles in the aerosol are liable to reflect thermal radiation from the planet surface, hence having a warming effect.  To avoid this, there is an advantage in using TiO2 particles, as used in white paint.  These can be engineered to a constant size, and coated to produce required properties, such as not sticking to one another. Large quantities could be dispersed at high latitudes in the lower stratosphere either using stratotankers or balloons, to have an effect lasting a few months during spring, summer and early autumn.  Due to circulating winds, the aerosol will spread around the latitude where it has been injected.

Cloud brightening is a technique whereby a very fine salt spray is produced from special spray nozzles mounted on a ship, and gets wafted up to clouds where it increases their reflective power.  Whereas stratospheric particles can provide blanket cooling at particular latitudes, the brightening technique can be used to cool particular locations, using sophisticated modelling to decide when and where is best to do the spraying.

The third cooling techniques involves removing certain high clouds during the months of little or no sunshine when they are having a net blanketing effect – reflecting heat back to the ground.

Additional techniques should be considered for more local cooling, especially by increasing surface albedo; for example one could increase snowfall over land or brighten water by injection of tiny bubbles. Another technique is to break up the sea ice in autumn and winter, which has the effect of thickening the ice and producing what looks like multi-year ice.  A very promising approach is to reduce currents carrying water into the Arctic Ocean, in particular the partial damming of the Bering Strait.

Note that all the above techniques are expected to enhance the Arctic ecosystem, which is in danger of sharp decline as a result of sea ice collapse.

Local measures to save the sea ice

There are a number of physical ways to reduce loss of sea ice:
  • corral the ice when it is liable to break up and float into warmer waters
  • reduce wave action at the edges
  • replace or cool warmer surface water using colder water from beneath
  • thicken the ice by shoving ice on the water onto other ice
  • thicken the ice by adding water on top to freeze
  • thicken the ice by adding snow (which may also brighten it)
  • add a layer of white granules or reflecting sheet.

The last of these can also be used for retaining snow.  It could be used on the Greenland Ice Sheet to preserve snow and ice.  (AMEG founder member, Professor Peter Wadhams, has co-authored a paper on the subject, to be presented at AGU.  He has also done work on how tabular icebergs break off at the edges.)

Pulling out all the stops, whatever

There is one thing that we do know can produce an appropriate amount of cooling power: the sulphate aerosol in the troposphere, as emitted from coal-fired power stations and from ship bunker fuel.  This aerosol has offset CO2 warming by around 75% in the past century.  There should be a temporary suspension of initiatives and regulations to suppress these emissions, while they are having a significant cooling effect in the Northern Hemisphere, unless human health is at risk.

Much attention should be given to short-lived climate forcing agents, such as methane.  There should be a moratorium on drilling in the Arctic, as proposed by the UK Environment Audit Committee in their report “Protecting the Arctic”, September 2012.

Measures to reduce black carbon should be taken.  There should be teams of fire-fighters set up to take prompt action on tundra fires, which produce black carbon, methane and carbon monoxide – all undesirable.

More direct means to deal with weather anomalies

Cloud brightening and wave pump technology can be used to cool the surface of the sea in specific areas.  This technology holds promise to reduce the power of hurricanes and other storms, but might also be used to produce precipitation where needed or dampen oscillations of the planet’s climate system, e.g. ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation).

More direct means to deal with methane emissions

AMEG realises that there is a problem of growing methane emissions from the high latitude wetlands and from permafrost which is thawing, both on land and under the sea bed.  Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, so we have been investigating how to suppress methane and methane production.  We have some valuable ideas, based on use of diatoms in water treatment.  The water treatment means that fish can thrive where previously the water was brackish.  Thus, not only is methane suppressed, but fish farming becomes possible on a very large scale at very low cost.   Increasing food production is going to become paramount in a warming world with a growing population.

Modelling and monitoring

Essential to all geoengineering deployment is good modelling of the climate system. Unfortunately, none of the global climate models deal with the speed of events in the Arctic.  It is essential to have a good understanding of the processes at work.  Part of the war effort to meet the geoengineering target must be devoted to improving the models.

Similarly there must be adequate monitoring facilities to ascertain the effects of geoengineering, and prevent inadvertent negative impacts.  Some satellites which could supply appropriate monitoring are nearing the end of life or coming out of service, so must be replaced as quickly as possible.

Not an end to the story

Cooling the Arctic is not the only step that is required to save civilisation from fatal consequences of mankind’s interference with the Earth System, but it is prerequisite.  Assuming the sea ice is restored, global temperatures could still rise too high, oceans acidify too much or rainforests dry out and burn down.  AMEG supports efforts to deal with such matters.

But cooling the Arctic is the first emergency response strategy.


This is in two parts: firstly interventions for adjustment/restoration/repair of critical Earth System components, especially in the Arctic; and secondly the food crisis, especially the  politics of dealing with the situation such to avoid vicious cycles that could jeopardise stability of food production or lead to panic among peoples.

Something akin to a war room needs to be set up, bring experts from all the relevant fields, in order to brainstorm on the problems and possible ways forward.

Interventions in the Earth System

These interventions can be viewed as adjustments, restoration and repair of critical Earth System components.  Examples include cooling the Arctic, restoring the sea ice and returning polar jet stream behaviour to a more acceptable mode.

For each intervention there may need to be modelling to predict effects and effectiveness and to anticipate problems arising. Correspondingly there needs to be observations, monitoring and measuring of results.  The observation of process and the measurement data obtained should be fed back into the models to improve them.

As for appropriate interventions, there are a number of things to do immediately in parallel:

  1. Consider practices and regulations that are having, or risk having, a heating effect on the Arctic.  A postponement of drilling in the Arctic would be sensible, because of inevitable escape of methane but also because of the risk of blowout with or without oil spill. 
  2. Try to maintain or even enhance the current cooling effect from currently emitted sulphate aerosols in the troposphere at mid to high northern latitudes.  For example the regulation to ban bunker fuel for ships should be relaxed while encouraging continued use of bunker fuel where the resulting aerosol emissions might be beneficial.  Reduction of sulphate aerosol ‘pollution’ will be unpopular with many environment groups, but the priority to cool the Arctic has to be established.
  3. Establish the positive and negative net forcing from contrails, and encourage flight paths of commercial airplanes to reduce positive or increase negative net forcing.  The ban on polar flights, lifted recently, should be reintroduced.
  4. Reduce black carbon into Arctic.  Make for preparedness to fight tundra fires in Arctic and sub-Arctic. 
  5. Find ways to remove black carbon from coal fired power stations, while allowing or compensating for the cooling effect that their aerosol emissions would be producing without the scrubbing out of sulphur compounds.

Geoengineering actions for enhancing the reflection of sunlight back into space and for increasing the thermal energy emitted into space.

  1. Prepare the supply and logistics for spraying aerosol precursor in large quantities, preferably into the lower stratosphere, for deployment by next March or April (not sooner because the risk of ozone depletion).  Of course, possible negative impacts have to be considered before large scale deployment, but it is worth being fully prepared for such deployment on the assumption that this technique can be made to work effectively.
  2. Develop and test the deployment of suitably reflective particles, of such materials as TiO2, as alternative or supplement to sulphate aerosol.  Prepare for large scale deployment.   
  3. Finance the development of, and deployment capability for, marine cloud brightening, with a view to deployment on a large scale in spring 2013 - assuming that is the earliest conceivable time.  The main technical problem seems to be with the jets, so experts from major companies in the ink-jet technology field need to be brought in.  Boats and land installations need to be kitted out.
  4. Finance the development and deployment capability for cirrus cloud removal, since this is a promising technique.  Suitable chemicals need to be identified/confirmed, with stock-piling of these cloud seeding chemicals.  Aircraft need to be kitted out to spray these chemicals.
  5. Finance brainstorming sessions for geoengineering, with top scientists and engineers, such as to suggest further measures, improvements to above techniques and the development of other intervention ideas.
  6. Finance the research and trials of all promising techniques for helping to cool the Arctic, including the three geoengineering techniques above.  Update Earth System models to deal with the actualities of sea ice retreat, such that the effects of different techniques can be modelled and optimum joint deployment strategies established.

Measures to reduce more specific risks from Arctic warming:

  1. Finance the research and trials of promising techniques for dealing with methane, especially the reduction of methane from wetlands draining into the Arctic.  Use of diatoms to promote methanotrophs (and healthy conditions for fish) is one such technique.
  2. Finance the research and trials of promising techniques for dealing with surface melt of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) and for reducing the speed of ice mass discharge.  The latter is accelerated by warm water at the sea termination of glaciers; therefore consideration should be given to techniques to cool this water.
  3. Consider techniques for reducing Arctic storms and their strength.  Techniques should be developed for reducing the frequency and severity of tropical storms, such as to minimise damage, especially to agriculture and low-lying conurbations.
  4. Consider techniques for un-sticking of blocked weather patterns.
  5. Consider techniques for improving surface albedo of sea, lakes, snow and ice by brightening water with bubbles, covering snow and ice with white granules or sheets to prolong albedo, draining pools on ice, forming ice on pools, depositing snow on ice (as fresh snow has a higher albedo) and on land, discouraging growth of plants with low albedo, etc.  

Note that a new idea for improving surface albedo has been suggested in a paper to the AGU 2012, supported by AMEG founder member, Peter Wadhams..  His research on iceberg calving has led to ideas for reducing discharge of ice from the GIS.

A word of warning about finance of research, development and field trials: it is important that the results of such activities are independent, unbiased and free from financial interest.

Food security actions

Immediate actions to be initiated:

  1. Overall there is an immediate requirement for all major governments to establish an emergency ‘watchdog’ committee for internal and world food security issues. This committee should have direct access to the leadership of individual nations and include their UN Ambassador. The associated costs, in terms of humanitarian impacts alone, should warrant this move. When the assessed cost of the potentially associated national economic factors are weighed, there should be little disagreement regarding the necessity for establishing this ‘watchdog’ committee.
  2. The US Renewable Fuels Standard (“RFS”), a provision of the US Energy Policy Act of 2005, should be evaluated for a temporary stay. Depending entirely on the US corn harvest, this could transfer between 4 to 5 billion bushels back to the food market. That would reduce upward price pressure in the cereals markets and further assist by suppressing speculation in that area of food commodities.
  3. The European Renewable Energy Directive 2009/28/EC should similarly be reviewed and measures put in place to temporarily divert all relevant crops from the fuel to the food market.
  4. In both cases outlined in points 3 & 4 the emphasis should be on ‘temporary emergency measures’ and should only be applicable to crops that can be diverted to the food chain.
  5. A general directive should be agreed between all nations at the UN to prohibit the sale of OTC derivatives, in any nation, by any ‘seller’, that have any content relative to food commodities. This action will assist in dissuading institutional investors speculating in food commodities.
  6. If the crisis deepens point 4 should be further reinforced by prohibiting futures contracts in food commodities being sold to any entity who will not take actual delivery of the contracted goods. Great care will be necessary with this proposal as it is known that hedge funds, and investment banks, have established warehousing to control certain commodity pricing. Typical examples are the attempted 2010 cornering of the world cocoa market by a UK hedge fund and the current Goldman Sachs control of the US aluminium market.
  7. An alternative international seed bank must be created to provide seeds for subsistence farmers; ones that are devoid of the ‘terminator’ gene. In periods of high crop failure the inability to harvest seeds for the coming year has a crippling impact on subsistence farmers. Note that it is estimated 160,000 Indian farmers alone have committed suicide since 1967 due in part to this situation.

Following the launch of AMEG’s ‘Strategic Plan’ the above actions will be communicated to all world leaders and relevant parties in the form of an ‘Essential Action Plan’ to match the pending circumstances of the change in the world’s weather patterns.

For further details, see the website of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group at or contact AMEG Chair John Nissen at:


  1. A 'Coalition of the Willing' needs to be enlisted of governments willing to sign up for specific and focused tasks that are achievable such as corralling icebergs, preventing calving by ice repair, spraying aerosols, spraying seawater.

    There should be a jobs list with the task, the area to be modified, the time frame of action, and intensity of the modification. Even small governments might take a lead in some area. Perhaps Russia or China (which has a lot to lose from climate change) who have the capability to take the lead will choose to do so to become the global hero.

    AMEG needs to make immediate and specific requests in diplomatic initiatives to the most likely candidates among countries to begin the sign up process for Arctic action.

    --John Munter
    Warba, MN

  2. One failing of plan is that world governments don't include all the world's peoples as citizens and many hold strong biases toward generally a chosen sector..
    For instance, China's treatment of Tibet and the peoples there. For instance the Muslim peoples of Burma's border region with Bangladesh. For instance the Native Peoples of the Land of Papua, western half -island of New Guinea, under Indonesian Control.. But also in favoritism. For instance wealth accumulation by the 400 richest people in the US now holding as much wealth as the bottom half of the population if I remember correctly..
    Wealth concentration and power fortifications, both monetary and with the consumer lifestyle so engrained; forced upon us and by human nature to the point where habit makes Action Plan hard to proceed.
    But immediate action is needed like immediately to keep Earth alive and we go into this perfect storm without change to monetary system at great peril.

    1. I entirely agree, Dale. That Obama has just given the US airlines a pass on paying the Euro carbon taxes they are trying to assess on planes coming and going from Europe is not a good sign for the XL pipeline either.

      Thats why we should start from the bottom and target the 43 nations of the Alliance of Small Island States that was specifically created in 1990 to combat climate change. We should get their endorsement immediately and request that they use their diplomatic forces in the UN and elsewhere to lobby European and Arab countries in support of rapid funding and deployment of Arctic amelioration techniques. The carbon industries have had their way with uncontrolled experiments on the planet for centuries. Its almost too late for arctic amelioration experiments. The 43 countries of AOSIS form 20% of UN countries.

      Beyond lobbying world governments and fund raising, AOSIS should be urged to take immediate, direct action even if it is only symbolic in order to get the global conversation started. The media loves hopeless Don Quixote efforts. If every island nation kicked in a couple of hundred thousand bucks maybe they could rent a boat for a few months and spray sea water into the atmosphere or something comparable. And, some of the island nations are bigger like Cuba and Singapore.

      AOSIS should then form a larger consortium with the MENA countries--those arid and semi-arid ones in Middle East and North Africa. We have had 3 decades of too many droughts there so they are already feeling the impacts. It was in 1980 we started raising money for that terrible drought in the Horn of Africa. These poor African countries are the ones to put their arm on their Arab brethren will all the oil revenues.

      China can be leveraged too. Are they just in Africa to get the natural resources for cheap prices or are they willing to help out countries under the climate gun there? Bangladesh, a neighbor of China, and a hugely over-populated country is slated too lose a quarter of its land area including its rice growing delta from sea level rise. China, itself, will lose a lot of delta rice-growing potential. Half its population and 70% of its cities are along the coast. Inland it has huge deserts--one of which is already choking Peking.

      If all these marginalized countries want some climate change reparations before its too late they need to prime the pump by tackling global climate themselves and changing the global conversation thats been dominated too long by the self-satisfied ignorance and greed of the 1%.

      --John Munter
      Warba, MN

  3. A great plan. Hope it was well received and will be acted upon.

    1. It is a great plan, Harold, in being large and flexible with some science behind it and being fueled by the necessity to respond the Arctic crisis.

      It really needs to be broken up into manageable objectives. One gets the impression that it is hoped the Pentagon and NATO will see the national security implications and hop to it.

      We could take a lead from Bill McKibbon in his 'Do the Math' tour of college campuses to divest from fossil fuels. I am sure for him this tour is not an end in itself. How long did it take to rid South Africa of Apartheid? What he is doing is building an activist base of students as we did during the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements of half a century ago of kids who have open minds, free time, and less fear about getting arrested than their parents in XL pipeline civil disobediance.

      In the same way we can't just wait for Obama to make an executive decision from his ivory tower. We need to enlist lobbyists on our behalf. The Alliance of Small Island States would be a primary target since they are states already committed to climate change action.

      In like manner an AMEG liaison should be set up with the Network of African Science Academies made up of 13 mostly West and North African countries in the drought zone who have already gone on record in 2007 in a statement affirming humans and fossil fuels are a driver for climate change. How soon can this group endorse AMEG's plan? Each of those thirteen separate academies should be lobbied about pushing this in the Network.

      Once these academies are on board they can lobby their governments. These governments then can lobby larger pan-African groups like CAHOSCC--'Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change', OPEC, NATO, the UN. This doesn't have to take forever. It just takes some drivers whether government or not to become really alarmed and convicted of the absolute justice of some of this oil money and high carbon use countries employed to save the planet and their continent from the imminent danger of becoming dessicated.

      --John Munter
      Warba, MN USA

    2. John, What you suggest is too slow to keep Earth alive.. Here is info to an eye opener of how Methane is transported from Arctic on breaking Sea surface and how it forms an expanding heat trapping veil of Danger.
      I'd put a link up to this on Pacific Scoop in New Zealand to express what is happening in the world and to link a whole slew of items in one short comment, which was somehow magically able to be posted v snuffed..
      There is presently a game on in full swing 2C if Earth can be kept alive
      There are efforts to stop progress in full swing as well..
      There is conflict on line and a showdown happening but I figure if we stir the soup well enough and fast enough truth will win out 2C Life..

    3. That is a frightening article, Dale. Thanks. Since we are not able to yet define the methane veil above the ozone layer is it possible that methane is more than or a lot more than 100 x worse than CO2 over a twenty year period?

      The article also brings up another issue in passing. Could we lose the entire ozone layer with the amount of methane soon to be constantly exploding indefinitely from the Arctic? Couldn't that be added to the above analysis as a logical outcome over an undefined time-frame? Maybe somebody has an educated guess on the above questions.

      What I suggest about a strategic plan is too slow to keep earth alive? I always knew we would transition seemlessly from a consciousness of 'its no problem' to 'nothing can be done' but we have to try.

      AMEG as i ken it is made up of scientists and some activists in limited arenas. What we need are advocates and embassadors working in large arenas like the Island Nations embassadors and the African drought zone embassadors to leverage money from OPEC-Arab countries and from China and support from Europe and NATO.

      Personally, I don't think these countries will respond to an email. People in high positions are followers and not leaders. Clinton and Obama as presidents were perfect examples. Obama will apologize someday over climate just like Bill Clinton is apologizing over allowing the genocide in Rwanda.

      These countries need a specific plan and a constituency demanding it happen and then they will consider it. The plan we have is bit on the general and nebulous side. You have to spell it out and maybe that is the next step in negotiating some action in more intimate formats. People like to see "if we have 100 planes spraying 400 million tons of whatever over a 2 month period, we can create a cloud cover that will drop the temperature 6-16 degrees F and would create from 1-3 meters of snow which would buy the Arctic another year and only cost 25 million dollars. What a deal." Obviously, this would probably be impossible to formulate in a believable way but something approaching it would sure be nice. In lieu of this we need passion on the part of countries most effected to say: "Look, forget the caution, we need amelioration experiments now!

      John Munter
      Warba, MN USA

    4. In tandem with working with the African Academy of Sciences, AMEG should be working closely with the African Union which in Doha was radical enough to call for a reduction in CO2 allowing for only a 1.5 degree C increase in temps so Africa won't "burn". They blame the flooding affecting 1/3 of Nigeria on climate change as well as the severe drought in the Horn of Africa.

      Africa has been looking to the West for climate reparations as well as aide but they should be lobbying China to fund AMEG's program. African "no strings attached" aide from China has been of longstanding and is booming. They built the railroad in between Zambia and Tanzania and gifted the African Union with their headquarters building in Addis Ababa and have currently surpassed the annual aide of the World Development Bank. Even in poor Malawi with few resources China wants they built their Parliament building, a soccer stadium, and a 100$ million hotel and conference center. Sino-African trade is 160 Billion $ a year and growing 44% a year and investment is projected to reach 50 billion by 2015. Many of the recipient countries are in the drougt belt like Niger, Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Algeria, and Uganda.

      China could also use some good press with their penchant for supporting dictators, giving jobs with poor pay and working conditions, and their strong anti-union practices violating laws of the countries they work in even in their drive to extract resources.

      Now, with the failure of Doha for any immediate action the African Union needs to look elsewhere and quickly to stave off a scorched continent.

      --John Munter
      Warba, MN USA


    5. Arab funding in Africa goes through a bank called 'Badea'. With its five year plans and careful planning it probably isn't conducive to short-term experimental missions in the Arctic so Arab governments and monarchies should be approached: Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Saudia Arabia, Qatar, and UAE.

      Regardless, it is instructive to look at Badea. Their current 5 year plan calls for spending a billion dollars on "sustainable development", "poverty reduction", and "diversifying its interventions". They spend 192 m. annually with 40-50% on 'infrastructure' and 25-30% on 'food security'.

      Over the last third of a century they have built airports linking the Maldives Islands--One would think the Maldives could make a further request on Arctic amelioration experiments to keep the airports above water. They have funded coffee plantations in Burundi, grain silo's in Yemen and Niger, irrigation projects in Bangladesh, Senegal, and Sudan, universities in Niger and Uganda, as well as mines, ports,roads,hospitals, railroads,livestock developmenr, hospitals, hotels, homes, fertilizer plants,electrification, bridges, sugar factories, textile plants,and water projects. Badea has given over a billion dollars over time just in paving 127 roads in sub Saharan Africa.

      Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and UAE have given historically 5% of the their GNP which could be considered over 10% if 'depetion of capital' is considered.

      Clearly the Doha talks have been a failure for the MENA countries of 'Middle East and North Africa. new temperature records have been set in recent years of 126 and 128 degrees F. Its time to look elsewhere.

      John Munter
      Warba, MN USA

    6. India should be especially approached for funding with their tremendous sensitivity to climate change in every aspect.

      India has 1/3 of the worlds poor with unprecedented heat waves since 2010 and climate models now projecting a 4-7 degree C increase in temperature this century at current emission rates.

      Storm surges and cyclones could devastate Mumbai and Chennai. Wheat production will drop 4-5 million tons per one degree C increase in temps. Erratic monsoons could alternate floods and droughts. Deltas would be lost. 70% of summer flow of the Ganges coming from glacial meltwater is at risk.

      In addition, India feels the true bite of the climate change problem since 83% of their energy comes from fossil fuels and 70% from coal making them the fourth leading contributor globally. This is, perhaps, one reason thay have followed the lead of China in investing in thorium nuclear energy which is a nuclear power that is much safer in that the plants will not melt down and will produce much less toxic waste.

      India has also a severe ethical crisis brewing with the problem of Bangladesh on its borders that is slated to loose a quarter of its land area to sea level rise. Foreseeing the problem of climate refugees, India has encircled Bangladesh with a double barbed wire fence and border guards in recent years.

      While holy cows wander the streets, wedding parties have been shot to death trying to sneak over the fence totalling over 300 people so far. When sea level and storm surge rises occur, the fence will not be defensible from a desperate 134 million population whose rice growing areas have been halved. India will be forced to allow resettlement on their soil or to engage in a genocidal extermination of masses of people who have no options. They must now be acutely aware of this approaching dilemma.

      India should be one country that should jump at the chance at funding Arctic climate amelioration experiments to slow down warming at any cost.

      --John Munter
      Warba, MN USA


    7. An important ally in an Arctic melting amelioration plan could be the Bolivarian Alliance for the America's (ALBA) consisting of Cuba, Venezuela, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Antigua and Barbuda, and St Vincent and the Grenadines totalling about 70 million people and 600 Billion in GNP.

      They have called for only a 1 degree C increase in temperature and worked with the African Union and the Group of 77 (which actually consists of 130 countries) in a united climate change position in climate talks.

      Alba is funded by oil money from Chavez, have an Alba Bank funded to a billion dollars, just bought a satellite from China for 400 million dollars, and are creating their own currency and economic integration zone.

      ALBA also would have influence on China which is aggressively pursuing the natural resources of the Alliance.

      --John Munter
      Warba, MN USA


    8. Another group of countries just formed in the Doha talks frustrated at the lack of progress on emissions and green funding. They are AILAC--Association of Independent latin American and Caribbean States. They consist of Columbia,Costa Rica, Chile, Peru,Guatamala, and Panama that had a voice in the Doha talks but will be pursuing their own low carbon development ideas.

      --John Munter
      Warba, MN USA


    9. Whether the AMEG plan gains currency or not over the next few months a more comprehensive one should be devised as either a next step or as a new attempt to engage in an urgent global effort at intelligent conversation.

      Many efforts need to be begun simultaneously and cannot wait for arctic cooling success because of the lead time involved in development projects.

      This is particularly true for safe thorium nuclear power plants that should be sited to replace all current nuclear and fossil fuel facilities. The public is entirely ignorant of this issue while India is currently siting their first one and hope to even sell many to many third world countries like Viet-Nam. China has announced they are going it alone in a thorium race to world dominance in that category.

      Another area of critical focus in Indonesia which is the third largest emitter of CO2 with the loss of 2 million ha of rain forest a year. Much of this cut over land is not replanted. If it were replanted in fast growing tree species it would reduce the pressure on the remaining forest by driving the world paper prices down as well as sequestering CO2.

      The food plan part of AMEG's plan has some good suggestions in retarding speculation using derivatives, switching plant stocks from fuel to food, and providing and alternatives to terminator seeds but is not adequate. There should be a world-wide effort using university agricultural extension services to plant trees and shrubs for food--trees and shrubs that can grow on sand dunes, whose roots go down 20 meters, or absorb water from sea breezes and fix nitrogen in the soil. Trees can not only fix nitrogen, and moisture, provide shade, and sequester carbon in the roots and above ground and provide medicine, protein, fruit, and oil but act as a carbon 'store' for people and animals utilizing their leaves and wood in times of need.

      It is not well recognized that much of the earths carbon is locked up in dry land soils and so a special effort should be made on dry land farming techniques that preserve the soil such as plowing around trees rather than over them.

      Trees can grow in deserts, nuclear energy can be safe, the earth can be managed sustainably and efforts should be begun immediately. Intelligent conversation is the first step.

      --John Munter
      Warba, MN USA


    10. A comprehensive Plan of Action is essential for a 'full court press' on climate change to engage a 'Coalition of the Willing'.

      This commentator gets the impression the current Plan of Action is top-heavy with a top-down bias with the assumption that the managerial classes will act altruisticly and with reason based on science. Who will fund rock-grinding? Is this just the next great carbon tax idea that gets stonewalled? Feebates are a great idea and may be revenue neutral but there are ingrained interests which like cheap fertilizer.

      An alternative--rather additional--approach I have been suggesting is a bottom-up approach. This is not because it is immediately comprehensive but because it is based on self-interest that galvanizes the passion that primes the pump and creates the squeaky wheel that induces more change.

      It is China and India who recently have gone from the bottom up who are spending many billions on thorium reactor technology that sceptics think is an unproven commercial idea.

      It is the Island Nations and third world countries who are the most impacted and the most robust proponents of climate action.

      And, it is, paradoxically, the subsistence farmers of the world who have the greatest incentive and most immediate and realistic potential to sequester carbon.

      Those of us who are my age remember the terrible Sahelian droughts of the seventies and eighties with pictures of starving children and blowing sand dunes in a dessicated landscape. Trees had been always owned by government and so they were all cut down by starving people to sell in towns for food. What farmers realized was that they needed trees to survive in times of drought so they began plowing AROUND trees rather than over them. Governments in Niger began allowing people in Niger the sense of ownership of their trees.

      Because of the action of subsistence farmers in Niger, the country now has 7.4 million new tree covered acres. In fact, despite the burgeoning population, there are more trees where people are than where they are not. Some aid groups did plant some acacia trees on sand dunes threatening towns but there are no large scale forest or tree farm plantings.

      Trees have trasformed lives in Niger and serve as a carbon bank where people can harvest them sustainably by selling the leaves, branches, pods, bark, and fruit that preserves carbon in soils from strong Sahelian winds and keeps moisture in the ground and literally changes the climate:

      Research has shown that dry land root biomass equals above ground biomass--making planting trees in deserts the optimal place to sequester CO2 underground.

      Subsistence farmers have proven that a little money spent on tree nurseries and technical assistance would be well spent and well received in re-greening the earth. They would not be themselves sufficient to absorb enough carbon needed to prevent climate catastrophes but are an essential component in tripping climate change in its tracks in a warming world that is already running away from us.

      --John Munter
      Warba, MN USA

    11. John Munter, there's no top-down bias about the feebates I propose; they are best implemented locally and constitute the most effective way to help more trees to grow.
      Cheers, Sam Carana

  4. The most urgent thing that needs to be done is preparation of a "science pack" that is easy to read and understand for a huge campaign of mass emailings to politicians, media, enviromental orgs and lobbygroups worldwide.

    Theres some good stuff on arctic-news, but improvements can be made. we should have a webpage where articles/papers can be voted on and ranked in order of ability to convince the less than scientifically literate.

    Theres little point getting too distracted with talk on how to reduce human CO2 emissions until we have succeeded in reversing the arctic seaice crash. As geoengineering for this will be an ongoing annual commitment until CO2 is back in the region of 280ppm we do need a plan to pump carbon out of the atmosphere and the sea (where 60% of the 500 Gton total human contribution is residing.
    Currently estimates are 56.4 billion tonnes C/yr (53.8%), for terrestrial primary production, and 48.5 billion tonnes C/yr for oceanic primary production. This translates to about 426 gC/m²/yr average for land production (excluding areas with permanent ice cover), and 140 gC/m²/yr for the oceans.
    -Trees or plants in deserts grow very slowly, and only at all in places with underground water sources. even multiplying this by 10 would have no effect with regards to co2 pumpdown. Furthermore the reduction in windblown dust from cultivation of Globally deserts are 50 million square km with biomass productivity only 3g Carbon per square meter for a total of 0.15 Gtons of Carbon per year.
    arid areas and the prolonging of the growing season of grasses in arid areas by CO2 increases has resulted in the amount of natural wind-borne iron-carrying dust falling dramatically, 30% over the past 30 years alone. Satellites since the 1970's have recorded the loss of 17% of ocean plant life in the North Atlantic, 26% in the North Pacific, and horrifyingly 50% in the sub-tropical tropical oceans. This needs to be reversed so greening the deserts is a bad idea.

    -Tropical rainforests have globally 8 million square km with biomass productivity of 2000g Carbon per square meter for a total of 16 Gtons of Carbon per year. Doubling this area would only get near an extra 16 Gtons of annual carbon pulldown after 1 to 2 decades and with studies showing drought stress already turning Amazon and stheast asian rainforests now net CO2 producers rather than removers no gains might occur at all.

    -Temperate forests have globally 19 million square km with biomass productivity of 1,250g Carbon per square meter for a total of 24 Gtons of Carbon per year. Doubling this area would only get near an extra 24 Gtons of annual carbon pulldown after 1 to 2 decades, and then would need a further 20 years to remove the 500 Gton existing carbon debt, and thats assuming that 100percent of carbon taken in by these trees can be kept away from consumers and decomposers.

  5. -The Oceans have globally 350 million square km with average biomass productivity of 140 gC/m²/yr for a total of 48.5 Gtons of Carbon per year. This is heavily weighted towards coastal areas at present. The open Oceans are 311 million sqkm with average biomass productivity of 125 gC/m²/yr and a total of 39 Gtons of Carbon per year, however as can be clearly seen on (map of the earth showing primary (photosynthetic) productivity) some 80% of the ocean are so isolated from (primarily trace iron) land sourced nutrient imputs that their productivity is about 1/100 of the most productive oceanic zones. Phytoplankton productivity can be as high as 10000 gC/m²/yr in nutrient rich areas. Mostly the issue in the deep oceans is trace iron depletion and 1ton of iron fert can produce 10-100 million tonC of new biomass. In the currently near sterile central oceans the absence of an existing foodchain would ensure most of this Carbon will die and sink to the ocean floor.
    Doubling the productivity of the oceans could pump down the global 500 Gton Carbon burden in as little as 5 years and is possible, affordable, already very well studied.
    What carbon makes it into the foodchain increases the carbon stored in the marine ecosystem, increases food for us.
    Tech exists for extracting algae from even dilute sources, eg/
    These guys have algae extraction, biofuel refinement systems going with sewage pond sources and a pilot project completed in removing algae and with it excess nutrient from a large degraded lake system.

  6. John Munter you are completely wrong about thorium nuclear. Thorium is not a fissionable nuclear fuel. It must be "bred" into uranium 233 with reactor neutrons to be fissionable. This is very simular to breeding plutonium 239 from uranium 238. Both of these STILL THEORETICAL nuclear cycles require reprocessing of fuel to prepare rods with U233 or Pu239 contents high enough, and side reaction products low enough, to be used as fuel. The reprocessing alone is at least an order of magnitude more dangerous than conventional reactors with historically many serious meltdowns, fires, leaks etc from weapon Pu extraction, and the fuel, the waste products etc are far more radioactive than conventional u235 nuclear.
    Thorium is 10x as abundant as uranium, this is why china and india are interested. If they understood how dangerous it is they wouldn't be. Like you John they have been suckered by big nuclear spin doctoring.

  7. Oceanic desolate zone at 80% of 311 million sqkm is 249 million sqkm. 50 GtonsC/249million = 201 tonsC per sqkm per year = 200g C per sqmeter per year average. With prime coastal Aquatic enviroment like estuarys and coral reefs producing 10x that at 2000+ gC/sqm it would seem very achievable to increase the deep ocean productivity this much.
    At the low figure of 1 million tonC/1ton Fe we would annualy need 50GtC/1MtC= 50000 tons of iron dust -bugger all.
    However as can be seen on the front page graphic of:
    The benefits of iron fert alone are only achievable in the Nutrient Rich Iron depleted zones of the southern ocean to 35degr sth, the equatorial oceans to 20degr sth and 10degr nth, and the nth pacific from 40 degr nth. These areas can easily be stimulated urgently.
    The rest of the desolate zones need nitrogen and phosphorus. Rather than using mined phosphates and co2 producing urea for nitrogen I'm going to suggest good old fashioned blood and bone. Antarctic krill have a total fresh biomass of up to 500million tons. This will increase several times over when we iron fert the southern ocean. Some of this surplus krill can be harvested and used for: a) puree and fert the low nutrient desolate zones. b)dried and burned for power plants to replace coal and gas, pref with carbon capture eg/biochar, and krill oil for biodiesel, c.)Food to replace massively methane emitting beef/sheep/goats and reforest this pastoral land with temperate forest.
    I slipped a mindcog above (sniggers at self) I substituted double marine production for increase in marine production. 10yr results not 5yr.

    Glacial period windblown dust fert is said to be 50x current level, invalidating any concerns about ecosystems damage.

  8. One further advantage of ocean fert is that phytoplankton release dimethyl sulphide. DMS promotes cloud seeding and helps via albedo.

    Krill are looking very good for getting phytoplankton produced carbon to seafloor or depth.
    -Approximately every 13 to 20 days, krill shed their chitinous exoskeleton which is rich in stable CaCO3.
    -Krill are very untidy feeders, and often spit out aggregates of phytoplankton (spit balls) containing thousands of cells sticking together.
    - They produce fecal strings that still contain significant amounts of carbon and the glass shells of the diatoms.

    These are all heavy and sink very fast into the abyss.

    Quote wikipedia: "If the phytoplankton is consumed by other [than krill] components of the pelagic ecosystem, most of the carbon remains in the upper strata. There is speculation that this process is one of the largest biofeedback mechanisms of the planet, maybe the most sizable of all, driven by a gigantic biomass"

    Two other ways to fertilise surface waters of the oceanic desolate zones:
    -Wave pumped chimneys. Tested already, these pump nutrient rich deep benthic water via wave power. We would however need millions of these due to scale limitations imposed by ocean wavelengths.
    -Chimneys driven by submarine volcanism. An idea I was looking at 10 yrs ago (dibs on the carbon credits, giggles, could make me a trillionaire) this could quickly fill the oceanic gyres of the desolate zones with all the deep benthic and volcano enriched nutrients needed. We could then seed them with the best diatoms and suitable higher temp krill species such as nth pacific, common in the sea of Japan. It would be possible to multiply world krill population 100x, to the region of 50 Gtons, making them the biggest living carbon store on the planet.