Climate

Where on Earth is it unusually warm? Greenland and the Arctic Ocean, which is full of rotten ice

New study supports finding that “the amount of [multi-year] sea ice in the northern hemisphere was the lowest on record in 2009”

Arctic warmth

Map of air temperature anomalies for December 2009, at roughly 3,000 feet above surface, Areas in orange and red are warm anomalies, areas in blue and purple are cool.

It’s cold here and in northern Eurasia, but it’s been positively toasty ar0und the Arctic circle — thanks to an extreme negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation, as the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) explained in their online report yesterday.

The temperatures reported by NSIDC show some Arctic anomalies exceeding 7°C (13°F)!  That’s not good news for the kind of re-freezing one wants to see in the otherwise rapidly melting Greenland ice sheet (see Nature: “Dynamic thinning of Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheet ocean margins is more sensitive, pervasive, enduring and important than previously realized”).  It’s also one reason “December 2009 had the fourth-lowest average ice extent for the month since the beginning of satellite records, falling just above the extent for 2007. The linear rate of decline for December is now 3.3% per decade.”

Significantly, a new study, “Perennial pack ice in the southern Beaufort Sea was not as it appeared in the summer of 2009” by Barber et al. finds that all the crowing by the anti-science crowd about the supposed “recovery” of Arctic sea ice was quite premature:

In September 2009 we observed a much different sea icescape in the Southern Beaufort Sea than anticipated, based on remotely sensed products. Radarsat derived ice charts predicted 7 to 9 tenths multi-year (MY) or thick first-year (FY) sea ice throughout most of the Southern Beaufort Sea in the deep water of the Canada Basin. In situ observations found heavily decayed, very small remnant MY and FY floes interspersed with new ice between floes, in melt ponds, thaw holes and growing over negative freeboard older ice. This icescape contained approximately 25% open water, predominantly distributed in between floes or in thaw holes connected to the ocean below. Although this rotten ice regime was quite different that the expected MY regime in terms of ice volume and strength, their near-surface physical properties were found to be sufficiently alike that their radiometric and scattering characteristics were almost identical.

Yes, satellite (and other) measurements of Arctic sea ice extent were apparently deceived.   You might even say that an unfortunate trick of Nature helped hide the decline of Arctic ice:

This case of mistaken identity is physically explained by the factors which contribute to the return to Radarsat-1 from the two surfaces; both ice regimes had similar temperature and salinity profiles in the near-surface volume, both ice types existed with a similar amount of open water between and within the floes, and finally both ice regimes were overlain by similar, recently formed new sea ice in areas of negative freeboard and in open water areas. The fact that these two very different ice regimes could not be differentiated using Radarsat-1 data or in situ C-band scatterometer or microwave radiometer measurements, has significant implications for climate studies and for marine vessel navigation in the Canada Basin.

I had blogged on Barber’s work when it was first reported by Reuters in November (see “Arctic ice reaches historic seasonal low; “We are almost out of multiyear sea ice in the northern hemisphere”):

The multiyear ice covering the Arctic Ocean has effectively vanished”¦.

“I would argue that, from a practical perspective, we almost have a seasonally ice-free Arctic now, because multiyear sea ice is the barrier to the use and development of the Arctic,” said Barber [Canada’s Research Chair in Arctic System Science at the University of Manitoba].

Barber and his team thought they’d find “a huge multiyear ice pack that should have been in the Beaufort Sea” but

Instead, his ice breaker found hundreds of miles of what he called “rotten ice” — 50-cm (20-inch) thin layers of fresh ice covering small chunks of older ice.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my 30 years of working in the high Arctic … it was very dramatic,” he said.

And now we have the Geophysical Research Letters paper by Barber et al., which concludes:

Our results are consistent with ice age estimates (Fowler and Maslanik, http://nsidc.org/news/press/20091005_minimumpr.html) that show the amount of MY sea ice in the northern hemisphere was the lowest on record in 2009 suggesting that MY sea ice continues to diminish rapidly in the Canada Basin even though 2009 areal extent increased over that of 2007 and 2008.

This study suggests that the Arctic continues to lose area — and, more importantly, volume — at a much more rapid pace than any major climate models had suggested.  I’ll end with this figure of mean monthly Ice Volume for the Arctic Ocean from a release by several scientific institutions:

Arctic Volume

I still like my odds on a 90% ice free Arctic by 2020 (see “Another big climate be t “” Of Ice and Men“).  By then, I assume they’ll have figured out how to deal with Nature’s sea-ice-decline-hiding trick — or there will simply be too little ice for anybody to be fooled.

For more, see “Looking for Above Normal Temperatures? They are in the Arctic.

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38 Responses to Where on Earth is it unusually warm? Greenland and the Arctic Ocean, which is full of rotten ice

  1. B Buckner says:

    While the anomalies are strongly positive near the north pole, the actual temperatures are in the minus 20 to minus 30 degrees C range. No melting or toasting there this time of year.

    [JR: Actually, those aren’t the normal average temps over much of Greenland, which is what I’d worry about a lot more.]

  2. Michael hauber says:

    The warmer temperatures over Greenland at this time of year will be good for the ice sheet. This warmth has been due to warm winds off the Atlantic which would be carrying a lot of moisture, and as it is -20 to -30 degrees in Greenland this would result in higher snowfalls and more ice.

  3. B Waterhouse says:

    Is the frequency or severity of the Arctic Oscillation affected by GHG increases?

    If we lose summer arctic ice, do we have to reduce GHG emissions even more to meet 1.5 or 2 degree warming targets?

    What happens to the projections from NASA or Hadley models if zero arctic ice occurs?

  4. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Those volume losses are scary.

    Saying that summer sea ice could be gone by 2013 and that it will be gone by 2030 are not contradictory. It is clear that the sea ice is entering a stage of extreme vulnerability. Eventually the wrong weather system at the wrong time of the year will remove most of the remaining ice.

    It could be that the ice is vulnerable enough for that to happen in thirty months, even if that storm does not happen the summer ice cannot survive more than twenty years.

    Talk about a sucker bet, your money is safe. (Safer than drinking water)

  5. David B. Benson says:

    There is only one problem with this kind of incrementalism: nature does not award points for trying. It neither swoons over recognition of its laws nor bends to the timelines of political reality. It does not bargain with denialists and oil lobbiests, and it does not care about G.D.P. or the fili-buster or approval ratings. The physics that governs climate change is inexorable, and its outcome can be mitigated by only one thing: reducing carbon dioxide emissions. —Katrina vander Heavel, The Nation, January 11/18, 2010.

    [Fourth attempt to post this comment,having added periods and hyphens to fool the spam catcher.]

  6. Methane is one of the main contributing gases to global warming. The following info from the BBC today points out to the danger from the increasing temperatures at the north pole region:

    High Methane release Siberia’s shallow shelf areas
    BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8437703.stm

    “Acting as a giant frozen depository of carbon such as CO2 and methane (often stored as compacted solid gas hydrates), Siberia’s shallow shelf areas are increasingly subjected to warming and are now giving up greater amounts of methane to the sea and to the atmosphere than recorded in the past.

    METHANE HYDRATES
    Methane gas is trapped inside a crystal structure of water-ice
    The gas is released when the ice melts, normally at 0C
    At higher pressure, ie under the ocean, hydrates are stable at higher temperatures
    This undersea permafrost was until recently considered to be stable.
    But now scientists think the release of such a powerful greenhouse gas may accelerate global warming.
    Higher concentrations of atmospheric methane are contributing to global temperature rise; this in turn is projected to cause further permafrost melting and the release of yet more methane in a feedback loop.
    A worst-case scenario is one where the feedback passes a tipping point and billions of tonnes of methane are released suddenly, as has occurred at least once in the Earth’s past.
    Such sudden releases have been linked to rapid increases in global temperatures and could have been a factor in the mass extinction of species. …”

  7. Leif says:

    Just thinking here but: Zero ice cover for a few months would tend to set up “donut” wind conditions with the warm center rising and the cold perimeter , land and thus cold, falling This condition once established might take many months to change. Effectively moving the earths polar air mass, (There will be one no mater how hot it gets) from a gob to a ring?

  8. Tom Yulsman says:

    Joe: According to the National Snow & Ice Data Center update you cite, the anomalous warm temperatures in the Arctic during December (and evidently continuing in some places right now) were due to a natural phenomenon (their characterization, not mine): the Arctic Oscillation. But you fail to mention that, and I think you’ve misled your readers as a result.

    That said, there is no question that natural, short-term climatic fluctuations like those created by the Arctic Oscillation overlie the decadal-scale rise in temperatures caused by human activities. But why hide material from your readers? You rail about inaccuracies by reporters, but yet you are inaccurate yourself. Why exclude the nuance? Is it because nuance doesn’t help sell a political agenda?

    [JR: Utter BS, as all my readers can see in my very first sentence, which clearly states the cause is the AO. In what possible respect have I mislead my readers? Please identify a single sentence that is misleading, as compared to say, your entire comment, which is a cross between misleading and a lie. Please read my posts before commenting on them.

    Seriously, you are straining to come up with criticisms of this blog.]

  9. B Waterhouse says:

    more bad news from arctic – increased methane emissions detected –

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8437703.stm

  10. espiritwater says:

    I don’t understand what motivates people like Tom Yulsman (above)(??!) What kick do they get from saying all their redundant, nonsense? Frankly, it’s getting kind of boring! We CP-readers don’t just read information on this website. We’ve researched the science and know of its validity. Does Tom really think he is going to convince us to the contrary on this issue? What is his goal? It’s like someone still insisting Bush was a good president! Come on! Enough already!

  11. Richard Brenne says:

    Michael Hauber (#2): Interesting point, but isn’t the solidity of the ice more a function of low enough temperatures of water and air to allow solid freezing, while the snow on top is mere icing on the cake (or more caking on the ice)?

    B Waterhouse (or Icehouse?) (#3): Interesting questions, all. I’m in an e-mail discussion between a bunch of NOAA and other climate scientists and meteorologists and NCAR writer Bob Henson was wondering the same thing, if more open water at later dates in the fall has affected the Arctic Oscillation that is causing these cold snaps.

    In the same group the Weather Channel Senior Meteorologist Stu Ostro is studying what we all call the Ostro Effect Hypothesis, which is that warming is somehow (the mechanism is not yet known – any ideas?) creating more 500 milibar high pressure ridges further north over time and that to equalize the pressure these are often associated with cut-off lows like the ones currently covering about the Eastern 2/3 of the U.S., but not nearly as intensely as over Siberia since mid-December, where temperatures have typically been up to 20 degrees F lower than average – and their averages are among Earth’s coldest inhabited places to begin with.

    Leif, your obsession with donuts:) has paid off with what might be an interesting piece of the puzzle. I’d enjoy hearing anyone’s further conjecture. . .

    Also Joe, in your bet do you mean 90 per cent loss of Arctic Ocean sea ice during summer?

    [JR: Yes. If you click on the link, you’ll see the bet.]

  12. Charles says:

    Tom, like Joe I am puzzled by your suggestion that he is misleading. He clearly mentions the AO, but he is also reviewing David Barber’s work on ice volume and extent. I can’t see how Joe is misleading anyone.

    BTW, David Barber is a well known Canada Research Chair on Arctic Systems, one of Canada’s leading scholars on the Arctic. To boot, he is a wonderful lecturer whose presentations are engaging and manage to convey the science is a very personable fashion.

  13. Tom Yulsman says:

    Joe: Thank you for including my comment. I appreciate it.

    Concerning the substance: Respectfully, I’m not straining to come up with ways to criticize the blog. I come her most every day and learn a lot. But in this case, I do believe you have misled your readers — and that this could hurt your credibility somewhat.

    Let me explain: The exclusion of some key things that the NSIDC report said about the Arctic Oscillation potentially misleads your readers into thinking that the anomalously warm temperatures are mostly or wholly a result of global warming. Scientists can’t say that. Here’s what the NSIDC actually said in its update: “The AO is a natural pattern of climate variability.”

    The NSIDC also said this, which you did not mention:

    “While a negative AO leads to warmer temperatures over the Arctic, it also tends to reduce the flow of sea ice out of the Arctic by affecting the winds that can export the ice to warmer waters, where it melts. In this way, a negative AO could help retain some of the second- and third-year ice through the winter, and potentially rebuild some of the older, multiyear ice that has been lost over the past few years. However, we do not yet know if the strongly negative AO will persist through the winter, or what its net effect will be.”

    So one possibility is that the AO will weaken, and next summer’s sea ice extent and thickness could reach record lows, an outcome your post implies. But another possibility is that the AO will not weaken, and the scenario described by the NSIDC will play out, with the result being some rebuilding of older, thicker, multiyear ice. We both know that without mitigation of emissions the long-term trend will be for less and less ice. But if next summer brings a different outcome in the short term, you will lose some credibility for not having mentioned this as a possibility.

    When it comes to the science, I think it’s always best to include the nuance, the complexity, and the uncertainties.

    [JR: I see. So the fact that I didn’t just copy the whole NSIDC post I linked to means I was insufficiently nuanced. Well, I get more complaints my posts are too long than too short. Also, I find it odd that you would hold yourself up as an expert on “nuance,” considering, say, the November 4th you wrote about me. Since you don’t seem to be blogging about me as much these days, however, I’ll just let this slide.

    It’s worth noting there is some question as to whether the AO is in fact influenced by the loss of summer ice, as one of the commenters has noted.

    It is certainly true that sea ice extent might increase in 2010. There are obviously many variables at play. BUT I think it is important to distinguish between an NSIDC post and a peer-reviewed article — the latter would typically have more credibility — though obviously NSIDC has a great deal of credibility with its data reporting and analysis. But a key point I was making in siting that study was that what the NSIDC (and others) have been reporting in terms of multiyear ice (and possibly even sea ice extent) has been an OVER estimate of the actual amount of ice there. I didn’t note, but could, that NSIDC actually referenced the Barber et al. study, so presumably they accept its basic findings.]

  14. From Peru says:

    JR: Have you seen the series about the cold snaps at the WUWT site?

    I posted comments there about the extreme warm anomalies in the Arctic Ocean and South Europe (where people got to the beach in Christmas, that is, in the middle of Italian Winter) and then a bunch of aggressive comments against me apperared.

    I have been wasting my time trying to debate with the crowd of deniers that post their comments at WUWT?

    Finally, after seeing this “Cold Denier’s Paradise” in Western News, really I have to praise the Chinese Media.

    Obama should make spots like the Chinese ones!
    (and give away the fears of complaints about “Chinese-like Communist propaganda”, as China is NOT communist, and is not by a long shot: Instead it is a Capitalist Paradise. If it were not the case, then Western Corporations would not massively re-locate there as they have done the last 20 years)

  15. Matt Janiga says:

    Absolutely the Arctic Oscillation is effected by the recent sea ice loss. Also it is important to note that the heat fluxes from the ocean to the atmosphere don’t shut off just because there is ice. Sea ice strongly reduces these heat fluxes but there is a big difference between those fluxes associated with thick MY ice and thin FY ice.

    Increased heat fluxes associated with thinner ice would tend to increase the arctic surface temperature consistent with the negative AO pattern. Definitely an interesting problem.

    References

    Francis, J.A., W. Chan, D.J. Leathers, J.R. Miller, and D.E. Veron, 2009, “Winter Northern Hemisphere weather patterns remember summer Arctic sea-ice extent”, Geophysical Research Letters, 36, L07503, doi:10.1029/2009GL037274.

    Honda, M., J. Inoue, and S. Yamane, 2009. Influence of low Arctic sea – ice minima on anomalously cold Eurasian winters, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L08707, doi:10.1029/2008GL037079.

    Overland, J. E., M. Wang, and S. Salo, 2008: The recent Arctic warm period. Tellus, 60A, 589.597.

    Richter-Menge, J., and J.E. Overland, Eds., 2009: Arctic Report Card 2009, http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard.

    Simmonds, I., and K. Keay (2009), Extraordinary September Arctic sea ice reductions and their relationships with storm behavior over 1979.2008, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L19715, doi:10.1029/2009GL039810.

    Wu, B., J. Wang, and J. E. Walsh, 2006: Dipole anomaly in the winter Arctic atmosphere and its association with sea ice motion. J. Climate, 19, 210-225.

    Zhang, X., A. Sorteberg, J. Zhang, R. Gerdes, and J. C. Comiso (2008), Recent radical shifts of atmospheric circulations and rapid changes in Arctic climate system, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L22701, doi:10.1029/2008GL035607.

  16. colinc says:

    Joe and Charles (#11), you were both _way_ too kind to Mr. Yulsman! Moreover, Joe, if you are as smart as you think you are, you should see if you can double-down on your bet for a _completely_ (100%) ice-free Arctic by 2015! After all, the graph you’ve presented above, vs the IPCC AR4 “predictions,” coupled with the “reality” of observations since AR4 clearly indicate that the ice will be gone by summer 2012-13. I really can’t comprehend how so many people don’t seem able to grasp the _accelerating_changes_ that are utterly apparent.
    Lief, I’ve really thought most of your comments to Joe’s posts have been quite astute but I’d really like to know how you presume there will be a “polar air mass” after the Arctic ice disappears! Related-rates analysis doesn’t support that in any way. Points of inflection are generally more indicative of a “state-change” rather than a moderation of a current state.

  17. From Peru says:

    JR: how you can describe this &/@º#”@€& posted at WUWT?

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/27/our-current-weather-a-test-for-forecast-models-december-shaping-up-to-be-one-of-the-coldest-on-record-in-the-usa/

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/31/nasa-vs-nasa-which-temperature-anomaly-map-to-believe/

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/30/land-surface-temp/

    I am not sure, but something must be done to prevent “reports” like these from brainwashing the People. Can we permit that these deniers over-charge the public without any response from scientists or from everyone corcerned about Climate Change?

    I think someone should make a blog called “Watts Up With Watts?” or something similar. This Big-media Anti-science Blitskrieg should be countered in some way. I guess we should fight fire with fire.

    [JR: I missed the first post. Watts jumped the shark with that one. I’ll have to blog on it.]

  18. Mossy says:

    Richard, having attempted to research any links between the US cold snap and AGW today, I found your reference about more open water at later dates affecting the Arctic Oscillation, perhaps causing cold snaps, and the Ostra Effect Hypothesis fascinating. And Leif, I like the “donut effect” explanation; maybe you’ve discovered the answer! It all demonstrates the chaotic nature of nature itself, and how one little change can create huge changes in the system. So much to understand, so difficult for the average person to grasp, or even want to grasp, so little time to act…

  19. PeterW says:

    Mossy says: “So much to understand, so difficult for the average person to grasp, or even want to grasp, so little time to act…”

    Exactly. Joe if you haven’t got your book title.

  20. Leif says:

    Colinc, #16; It was just a spur of the moment thought and not fleshed out but when I referred to always being a “Polar Air Mass” no mater how hot it becomes I was referring to the location of the air mass always being colder than the equatorial air mass. It may be 50 C up there but the equator will be 75C as an extreme example. Like wise the land will always radiate heat faster than the water and long winter nights increase the cooling over land. Cold air sinks warm rises. Look at the equator rising, and ~30 degrees N&S the falling air sets up the trade winds. Then you get on the north side of that falling air and the rising moist , (think NW rainfall), westerly flow of the temperate zone and falling again at the poles. That brings the arctic “out flows” that we all bitch about when they reach to our diggings. As falling air from our “new” down fall pattern hits the surface and heads north to its new rising over the “Warm polar ocean,” (32 degrees F? water opposed to 30 below ice 10+feet thick the outside of the falling air mass feeds the north part of the westerly temperate flow. What goes up must come down usually colder than the rising air it displaces. Falling air is dry air by definition. That means different rain patterns over our northern forests and rising air is rainy (or SNOWY) in the true pole. However that precipitation is now falling on open water or what winter ice there may be to melt in the summer. Not watering our temperate forests like they did in the past. We have falling Arctic dry air closer to our population zones instead. Couple this with the huge “potential” energy increase inherent with a warming climate???? ( ~ 30,000 Nuke explosions / day) and it takes a better man than I to figure it out. I am just fishing here.

    Thank you for the complements folks but the reality is that you all set the bar damn high. So thank you all.

  21. Leif says:

    Mossy, # 18: Right here on the Pacific North West coast of Oregon and Washington we have a new “Dead Zone” about the size of New Jersey. (Since 2002) This oxygen starved water is not caused by fertilizer run off like the Mississippi but by a summer wind pattern shift that fails to activate the ocean up-welling. So instead of productive waters that feed fish, crabs, sea birds, etc we have a ~7,000 sq. mile grave yard for the summer months. Needless to say that affects the winter production as well. Very Sad!

  22. Lamont says:

    Watts has been posting more and more utterly unbelievable horse**** over at his blog.

    He’s fallen in love with the 7-day pictures of record cold temperatures and snowfall. He continues to blog about record cold snaps in the continental U.S and ignores the fact that if cold air is blowing down from the arctic, it probably means that the arctic is warming up, due to a negative AO. Now he’s got Spencer on there playing the month-over-month tealeaf reading b.s. with the UAH satellite data, which we know has an artificial annual instrument cycle.

    WUWT is pretty much a car wreck in slow motion. I think Watts must know that 2010 is going to be blisteringly hot and the summer ice melt is probably going to set a record, so he’s just trying to get as much air over the shark this winter as he can.

  23. MarkB says:

    “He continues to blog about record cold snaps in the continental U.S ”

    …while ignoring the warm snaps in the U.S. and everywhere else of course. It’s a pretty basic propaganda tactic. The idea is to get his unsuspecting audience to fervently believe the world is cooling, so they will more readily believe that objective data indicating global mean temperature increasing is fabricated. It’s a bit easier to do this when certain populated regions where many of his readers reside are experiencing cold weather.

    Reading the title on the following article made me shake my head.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100107/ap_on_sc/sci_big_chill

    All in all a fairly good article, but it makes the mistake of not noting the warm regions this week, which are in Africa, the middle east, southern Europe, and Greenland. What is probably depressing is how our society has descended to the point where nearly everyone reading an article that begins with “Experts: Cold snap doesn’t disprove global warming” doesn’t immediately go “no duh…do you think I’m stupid?”. It seems to me that many are. Is America on the decline? Is it an aging population losing brain cells? Is it dubious but widespread elements of the blogosphere and media training legions of often willfully misinformed fanatics? Is it the political shift last year bringing the fanatics out of the woodwork and causing paranoia among certain political elements feeling they are no longer in control? Other?

  24. anarchist606 says:

    Global Warming Denial Bingo – A fun game for all the family!

    Got an uncle who keeps banging on about the global warming hoax every time there is a family gathering? Does your Granddad read the Daily Express and insist on pointing out ‘sceptical’ arguments at dinner? Seen one too many online debates with the same old-same old zombie arguments that global warming is not happening/is happening but is caused by the sun, volcanoes
    or communists? Turn this tiresome pseudo-science into fun with Global Warming Denial Bingo!

    http://tinyurl.com/warmingbingo

  25. Wit's End says:

    I have never been able to click on WUWT link, any more than I could jump into a sceptic system – and plus I don’t want to give that site traffic. There are enough depressing ignoramuses making comments here and elsewhere to get a good idea of what passes for reality there. But to those with the stamina to directly engage the deniers, I salute you!

    Frankly, I find statements like this, from the report linked to above (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8437703.stm ) to be even more scary than blatant, stubborn anti-science denial:

    “Despite the high readings, Professor Gustafsson said that so far there was no cause for alarm, and stressed that further studies were still necessary to determine the exact cause of the methane seepage.”

    No cause for alarm? I have no objections to further studies but geez! I for one am alarmed.

  26. For those who pay attention to the planetary water vapor streams in the atmosphere, it was clear that heat from the equator was(is) being transported to the poles.

    So much heat is going north so fast that the cap of cold air above the pole is being shoved aside.

    In February 2009, the amount of heat was so great that essentially the planet belched it to outer space.

    Have a look at NASA’s animations (they take a long time to load, but it is well worth the wait, except for the fact that it is scary as hell to look at):

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=36972

    Also, a good deal of time, money, effort, and danger could have been spared if the U.S. intelligence (misnomer?) agencies could have released their satellite images of the Arctic sea ice some time ago.

    As the photo recently published in the NYT shows, the sea ice was anything but normal (well, I am leaping to that conclusion, but in fact, it was already pretty clear if one studied existing satellite images daily):

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/05/science/earth/05satellite.html

  27. For those wishing to keep up to date on the extremely abnormally negative Arctic Oscillation, NOAA’s National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center updates this graph daily:

    http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/daily_ao_index/ao_index.html

  28. Richard Brenne says:

    Here are some temperatures, though not from today, but from the February, 1899 under “Blizzard of 1899” in Wikipedia.

    It’d be interesting for a data geek (I know you’re out there and thank you in advance!) to compare these temperatures to those we’re experiencing from this cold snap.

    I doubt that this time the Mississippi River will freeze solid all the way down to New Orleans and also discharge ice into the Gulf of Mexico.

    The point is that as temperatures have risen our bar of expectations has risen with them, so that to us this is the Mother of all Cold Snaps when in fact in the temperature record it’s more of a second cousin.

    Cape May, New Jersey: 0 °F (−17 °C) (coldest temperature ever recorded in Cape May county)
    Tallahassee, Florida: −2 °F (−19 °C) (only recorded instance of a sub-zero Fahrenheit temperature in Florida)
    Diamond, Georgia: −12 °F (−24 °C)
    Atlanta, Georgia: −9 °F (−23 °C) (coldest ever in Atlanta history since at least 1874)
    Sandy Hook, Kentucky: −33 °F (−36 °C)
    Minden, Louisiana: −16 °F (−27 °C)
    Fort Logan, Montana: −61 °F (−51 °C)
    Camp Clark, Nebraska: −47 °F (−44 °C)
    Milligan, Ohio: −39 °F (−39 °C)
    Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania: −39 °F (−39 °C)
    Santuc, South Carolina: −11 °F (−24 °C)
    Erasmus, Tennessee: −30 °F (−34 °C)
    Austin, Texas: −1 °F (−18 °C)
    San Antonio, Texas: +4 °F (−15°C)
    Monterey, Virginia: −29 °F (−34 °C) (all-time state low until 1985)
    Dayton, West Virginia: −35 °F (−37 °C)
    Washington, D.C.: −15 °F (−26 °C) (still the all time low temperature within the District of Columbia)

  29. colinc says:

    Leif, thank you for the clarification and my apologies for the earlier misspelling of your name! (I’ll blame that on dyslexic fingers! :D) I understand now that you were talking about “relative” differentials vs. the “absolute” I was inferring. My bad. Nice work, too, on the “nuke-equivalent” of the present energy imbalance. I think that shows beyond doubt that there should be a concerted effort to develop/improve solar energy conversion systems, from photovoltaic to thermal-concentrators. I heard/read a couple days ago that there is enough solar energy at the Earth’s surface in 1 day to provide the energy demands of the planet for an entire year! Surely, if we can’t do better than we have been, we should change our species-name from “homo sapiens” to “homo absurdis”!

  30. espiritwater says:

    B Waterhouse (#3)asked: “…If we lose summer arctic ice, do we have to reduce GHG emissions even more to meet 1.5 or 2 degree warming targets?”
    ——————————————————————–
    From what I’ve read– once the summer sea ice is gone, temperatures will shoot up dramatically in the Arctic. (Ice reflects most of the sun’s rays, whereas, dark ocean absorbs most of these rays). Estimates are: about 5 C increase warming in the Arctic and .3 C increase in global temperature once the sea ice disappears. The permafrost (already in a state of near collapse and emitting about 50M tons of methane/year) will obviously be affected as will the melting of Greenland…

    Just dawned on me: that’s 5 degrees CELCIUS! That’s a huge increase in temperature! No wonder the authors of the book, “Climate Code Red” wrote: “I am not aware of any well-informed climate scientist who thinks that is is possible to have a safe climate or avoid dangerous climate change with the permanent loss of the Arctic summer sea ice.”

    To answer your question more succinctly, “yes!” The GHG reduction commitments by governments is already way too little…

  31. Leif says:

    Tenny Naumer, #26: A quote from the NY Times that you linked deserves elaboration me thinks.

    “Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, said the agency should be fighting terrorists, “not spying on sea lions.””

    A recent effort by some CP readers, (http://climateprogress.org/2009/12/31/science-the-hottest-decade-ends-maunder-mininum-solar-cycle-24-global-warming/) to understand the “earths radiation imbalance”puts a value of ~ 35,000 W87 Nuclear warheads per day. (Without the radioactive waste to muck up the works, of course.) This is a work in progress and in all fairness that number may fluctuate as “error bars” are refined by peer review. However it is close enough for the girls we go with today. So, on we go…
    The Unites States alone is responsible for ~ 20% of green house gasses. 20% of 35,000 = 7,000 nuclear explosions today! About one every 10 seconds. (Same tomorrow!) Say again, how many from “terrorists”? One begins to wonder, Just who is the bad guy in the picture?

  32. Leif says:

    MarkB, #23: “…not noting the warm regions this week, which are in Africa, the middle east, southern Europe, and Greenland.” Right here in the Pacific North West, latitude 48+, (above the northern most part of Maine), my lilacs are in full bud with vestiges of green leaves already showing. My lawn will need cutting before the end of the month. Buds are developing on my fruit trees. Yesterday high temperature ~ 50 degrees F. We have been in the strong 40’s since before Christmas!

  33. David Lewis says:

    An audio interview with Dr. Barber about their surprise finding of rotten ice where they thought multi year ice would be, aired on Canada’s public radio science show when he returned, is here:

    http://www.cbc.ca/quirks/media/2009-2010/mp3/qq-2009-11-28_01.mp3

  34. dhogaza says:

    Leif, I’m a bit south of you (45+, Portland Oregon) and it’s colder down here. But then again our proximity to the Columbia Gorge lets that arctic cold to the east leak through (strong east winds the last couple of days).

    Still, we were a degree above normal for the high yesterday and, despite that cooling east wind, normal low is 34 and we were at 41.

    And that’s about where it’s been and where it’s supposed to stay throughout the week. Seems that the AO pattern described at NSIDC is holding strong, though this far south in the PNW the temps are just a bit warmer than usual …

  35. Schlonz says:

    Joe, you are way too polite towards your critics. Congrats for the good work so far.

  36. Steve Bloom says:

    Great post, Joe, but 7C is *45*F, not 13F as you have it. Toasty!

    [JR: No, 7C warming is 12.6F warming. You have mixed up a temperature change with absolute temps.]

  37. Steve Bloom says:

    Oops, my bad, you did say anomalies. My reading comprehension lapse aside, I suggest explaining somewhere near the top of the post what anomaly means since the latter is jargon not everyone will be familiar with. Tom Yulsman’s post on this contrasted the -37F at International Falls with the +14F at Baffin Island, which I thought was effective.

  38. H.Neal says:

    I have read with great interest all your comments on this blog, I am not a scientist, just a very interested observer and it comes to mind
    that are we really pushing as much equivalent energy into our atmosphere as ~35,000 W87 nuclear explosions a day? I find this very difficult to believe.
    From everything I’ve read over the past few decades, it seems to me that global warming is in fact occurring and possibly now at an accelerated rate, but that the vast majority of this is completely natural and the idea that we can contermand ~35,000 nuclear explosions a day – well, what we can do to prevent this is equivalent to the proverbial drop in the ocean.
    However, if we want to look somewhere that may go somewhat to explain the above, cosmic radiation has been cited has having a distinct effect on our weather and we as humans do put out (at a lot less individual energy) our own electromagnetic radiation which exists inside our own
    magnetosphere. Our planet is positively bathed in it from Weather satelites to communication devices.
    There is also the highly debated matter of contrails from aircraft, which effectively block some of the suns rays – checkout the no fly period after 9/11.
    I would be very interested to see more inclusion of the effects from these areas when discussing global warming.
    Have there been any studies on the effect of ‘our’ use of electromagnetic radiation on the atmosphere?
    Final note:- I would go with global warming for whatever reason, just because it hopefully, will help clean up our planet and atmosphere from
    our pollution and makes us take note of the damage we are doing to our biosphere.