Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Balmy Weather At The Pole

Europe is experiencing a cold winter this year. But where we used to take cold weather for granted -- the North Pole -- something wierd is going on. Jonathan Watts reports that:

The North Pole gets no sunlight until March, but an influx of warm air has pushed temperatures in Siberia up by as much as 35C above historical averages this month. Greenland has already experienced 61 hours above freezing in 2018—more than three times as any previous year.
Seasoned observers have described what is happening as “crazy,” “weird,” and “simply shocking”.
At the world’s most northerly land weather station—Cape Morris Jesup at the northern tip of Greenland—recent temperatures have been, at times, warmer than London and Zurich, which are thousands of miles to the south. Although the recent peak of 6.1C on Sunday was not quite a record, but on the previous two occasions (2011 and 2017) the highs lasted just a few hours before returning closer to the historical average. Last week there were 10 days above freezing for at least part of the day at this weather station, just 440 miles from the north pole.

Climate scientists predicted these radical shifts in climate. But they thought those shifts would occur further into the future. What the pole is telling us is that the collapse of the Polar Vortex may be upon us:

The vortex depends on the temperature difference between the Arctic and mid-latitudes, but that gap is shrinking because the pole is warming faster than anywhere on Earth. While average temperatures have increased by about 1C, the warming at the pole—closer to 3C—is melting the ice mass. According to NASA, Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of 13.2% per decade, leaving more open water and higher temperatures.

If the vortex collapses, we will experience what climate scientists call "warm Arctic, cold continents." Meanwhile, the oceans will continue to rise, flooding population centres that are at or just above sea level.

The evidence keeps piling up -- and we continue to ignore it.

Image: Antinuclear


Lorne said...

A very grim prognosis, Owen, but not a surprise for those who choose to pay attention to the world around them instead of listening to politicians' pleasing platitudes.

Owen Gray said...

The future is indeed grim, Lorne. Unfortunately, there is a large audience for alternative facts.

Toby said...

There's an even a larger audience for no faces at all.

Owen Gray said...

True, Toby. Ignoring facts has become a favourite pastime these days.

opit said...

Must be. I note the fact that solar irradiance being amplified is the purported driver for increased the dark. A physicist online acquaintance noted some years ago that Greenland is subject to vulcanism.
The U.S. ice pack base from the 1950's is being exposed now. Presumably that might have interesting implications about the supposed size of the glacier / icefield over decades. Further vulcanism associated with tidal stresses from orbital mechanics are another idea floating around, which might explain where the heat came from to heat the Arctic Ocean,
The Arctic has been warm before. Data from around, say, 1935 is very hard to access even when you are looking for it.

opit said...

The Aussies note some of that displacement of Arctic cold to Europe ( though the UK is the focus of this piece, other regions such as Kazakistan have had a history of terrible and worse cold in central Asia ) Of course, if one is obsessed with 'global averages' all is business as usual. I never did understand how averages were a useful tool to study deviations from them.

Owen Gray said...

Your're right about aveerages, opit. They really are a poor measure of anything.