Hansen 2016 got through peer-review — “Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms”

If this should prove to be right, it’s serious.

I’m not an expert on all the topics brought together in the paper, but I never saw stronger scientific writing than what I now read in the peer-reviewed publication, and the topics I do know are represented correctly.

Update 2018-09-03 by Aengenheyster et al. 2018: For »reaching the 1.5 K target […] MM would be required to start in 2018 for a probability of 67%.« MM means getting a 2% increase of the share of renewables every year. This is still a 33% risk of failure!

Update: Hansen 2017: Young people's burden: requirement of negative CO₂ emissions — a last, desperate chance to prevent what is shown in the paper linked below.

Even if you don’t think you get new information from the paper, if you have an interest in scientific writing, I strongly suggest reading the paper:

It is long. And great. And Open Access.

If you don’t want to read that much, you can watch James Hansen explain the gist himself:


AUTHOR = {Hansen, J. and Sato, M. and Hearty, P. and Ruedy, R. and Kelley, M. and Masson-Delmotte, V. and Russell, G. and Tselioudis, G. and Cao, J. and Rignot, E. and Velicogna, I. and Tormey, B. and Donovan, B. and Kandiano, E. and von Schuckmann, K. and Kharecha, P. and Legrande, A. N. and Bauer, M. and Lo, K.-W.},
TITLE = {Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data,
climate modeling, and modern observations that 2 °C global warming
could be dangerous},
JOURNAL = {Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics},
VOLUME = {16},
YEAR = {2016},
NUMBER = {6},
PAGES = {3761--3812},
URL = {http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/16/3761/2016/},
DOI = {10.5194/acp-16-3761-2016},
We use numerical climate simulations, paleoclimate data, and
modern observations to study the effect of growing ice melt from
Antarctica and Greenland. Meltwater tends to stabilize the ocean
column, inducing amplifying feedbacks that increase subsurface
ocean warming and ice shelf melting. Cold meltwater and induced
dynamical effects cause ocean surface cooling in the Southern
Ocean and North Atlantic, thus increasing Earth's energy
imbalance and heat flux into most of the global ocean's
surface. Southern Ocean surface cooling, while lower latitudes
are warming, increases precipitation on the Southern Ocean,
increasing ocean stratification, slowing deepwater formation, and
increasing ice sheet mass loss. These feedbacks make ice sheets
in contact with the ocean vulnerable to accelerating
disintegration. We hypothesize that ice mass loss from the most
vulnerable ice, sufficient to raise sea level several meters, is
better approximated as exponential than by a more linear
response. Doubling times of 10, 20 or 40 years yield multi-meter
sea level rise in about 50, 100 or 200 years. Recent ice melt
doubling times are near the lower end of the 10–40-year range,
but the record is too short to confirm the nature of the
response. The feedbacks, including subsurface ocean warming, help
explain paleoclimate data and point to a dominant Southern Ocean
role in controlling atmospheric CO2, which in turn exercised
tight control on global temperature and sea level. The
millennial (500–2000-year) timescale of deep-ocean ventilation
affects the timescale for natural CO2 change and thus the
timescale for paleo-global climate, ice sheet, and sea level
changes, but this paleo-millennial timescale should not be
misinterpreted as the timescale for ice sheet response to a
rapid, large, human-made climate forcing. These climate feedbacks
aid interpretation of events late in the prior interglacial, when
sea level rose to +6–9 m with evidence of extreme storms while
Earth was less than 1 °C warmer than today. Ice melt cooling of
the North Atlantic and Southern oceans increases atmospheric
temperature gradients, eddy kinetic energy and baroclinicity,
thus driving more powerful storms. The modeling, paleoclimate
evidence, and ongoing observations together imply that 2 °C
global warming above the preindustrial level could be
dangerous. Continued high fossil fuel emissions this century are
predicted to yield (1) cooling of the Southern Ocean, especially
in the Western Hemisphere; (2) slowing of the Southern Ocean
overturning circulation, warming of the ice shelves, and growing
ice sheet mass loss; (3) slowdown and eventual shutdown of the
Atlantic overturning circulation with cooling of the North
Atlantic region; (4) increasingly powerful storms; and (5)
nonlinearly growing sea level rise, reaching several meters over
a timescale of 50–150 years. These predictions, especially the
cooling in the Southern Ocean and North Atlantic with markedly
reduced warming or even cooling in Europe, differ fundamentally
from existing climate change assessments. We discuss observations
and modeling studies needed to refute or clarify these

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