Canada sees staggering mildness as planet’s high-pressure record is “obliterated”

Ostro explains how global warming is changing the weather

Temperature anomalies in North America, 12.10-1.11

Surface temperature anomalies for the period 17 December 2010 to 15 January 2011 show impressive warmth across the Canadian Arctic….

The largest anomalies here exceed 21°C (37.8°F) above average, which are very large values to be sustained for an entire month.

The disinformers and many in the media love to focus on where it is cold in the winter.  It has been cool where many people live.  Brr!

Unfortunately for homo sapiens, it’s been staggeringly warm where the ice is.  I’ll do a post on Greenland shortly, but the NSF-sponsored researchers at UCAR/NCAR  have posted some staggering data on just how warm it has been in northern Canada:

To put this picture into even sharper focus, let’s take a look at Coral Harbour, located at the northwest corner of Hudson Bay in the province of Nunavut. On a typical mid-January day, the town drops to a low of -34°C (-29.2°F) and reaches a high of just -26°C (-14.8°F). Compare that to what Coral Harbour actually experienced in the first twelve days of January 2011, as reported by Environment Canada (see table at left).

  • After New Year’s Day, the town went 11 days without getting down to its average daily high.
  • On the 6th of the month, the low temperature was -3.7°C (25.3°F). That’s a remarkable 30°C (54°F) above average.
  • On both the 5th and 6th, Coral Harbor inched above the freezing mark. Before this year, temperatures above 0°C (32°F) had never been recorded in the entire three months of January, February, and March.

The extremes have been just as impressive when you look high in the atmosphere above these areas. Typically the midpoint of the atmosphere’s mass””the 500-millibar (500 hPa) level””rests around 5 kilometers (3 miles) above sea level during the Arctic midwinter. In mid-December, a vast bubble of high pressure formed in the vicinity of Greenland. At the center of this high, the 500-mb surface rose to more than 5.8 kilometers, a sign of remarkably mild air below. Stu Ostro (The Weather Channel) found that this was the most extreme 500-mb anomaly anywhere on the planet in weather analyses dating back to 1948. Details are at the conclusion of Ostro’s year-end blog post.

Farther west, a separate monster high developed over Alaska last week. According to Richard Thoman (National Weather Service, Fairbanks), the 500-mb height over both Nome and Kotzebue rose to 582 decameters (5.82 km). That’s not only a January record: those are the highest values ever observed at those points outside of June, July, and August.

Previously I wrote about how Weather Channel expert Stu Ostro discussed Georgia’s record-smashing global-warming-type deluge:  “Nevertheless, there’s a straightforward connection in the way the changing climate “set the table” for what happened this September in Atlanta and elsewhere. It behooves us to understand not only theoretical expected increases in heavy precipitation (via relatively slow/linear changes in temperatures, evaporation, and atmospheric moisture) but also how changing circulation patterns are already squeezing out that moisture in extreme doses and affecting weather in other ways.”

In January, Ostro explained at great length in a long PPT, “A connection between global warming and synoptic meteorology,” which is a must-read for wonks.  In December, Stu Ostro explained:

HOLY 500 MILLIBAR HEIGHT ANOMALY, BATMAN!In recent years, I’ve documented many cases of strong ridges of high pressure aloft which have contributed to temperature and/or precipitation extremes, as those pressures aloft have risen in recent decades in tandem with the warming of the atmosphere.

Well, recently the atmosphere outdid itself. At the peak of the pattern which begat the wild weather in Europe and the U.S., the biggest departure from average pressure aloft in the database (which goes back to 1948) anywhere on the planet occurred over Greenland on December 15. Then the next day that record was smashed. And the previous record for December at this level, a few miles above the Earth’s surface, was completely obliterated.

This image is simply a copy and paste from a spreadsheet which ranked all of the departures in that database. (Technically they’re “positive 500 millibar height anomalies.”) But what it represents is significant.

[Data source: ESRL; NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis 1]

The UCAR/NCAR analysis continues:

The year the sea forgot to freeze

Arctic sea ice extent, 12.21.10

Large areas of open water persisted across much of the area between Greenland and Canada on 21 December 2010. (Image courtesy Cryosphere Today.)

Why so freakishly mild?  One factor that both feeds and is fed by the warmth is the highly unusual amount of open water across seas that are normally frozen by late November. On the winter solstice (December 21), Hudson Bay was little more than half frozen (see map at right).

Similarly, a large swath of the Baffin/Newfoundland Sea fell weeks behind schedule in freezing up. As evident in the charts at bottom, these bodies of water remain in catch-up mode. Around the south part of Baffin Island, “the boats were still in the water during the first week of January,” says David Phillips, a senior climatologist with Environment Canada. “The Meteorological Service of Canada was still writing marine forecasts as of 7 January, well beyond anything we have ever done.”

Storm after storm sweeping up the East Coast in recent weeks has pumped warm Atlantic air across eastern Canada, helping postpone the freeze-up even further and allowing temperatures over land to soar far above average.

According to Philips, the implications for people in the far north have been widespread. Nunavut’s capital, Iqaluit, had to cancel its year-end snowmobile run on Frobisher Bay for the first time. “Last New Year’s Eve, the big story was ice breaking up,” says Phillips. “This year there was no ice to break up.” Worst of all, he adds, “it’s impossible for many people in parts of the eastern Arctic to safely get on the ice to hunt much-needed food for their families””for the second winter in a row. Never before have we seen weather impact a way of life in so many small and big ways.”

Now imagine how warm it is going to be in the Arctic when during these kinds of heat waves are compounded by several decades of global warming:

Graphic of chnage in temperature

How could the Greenland ice sheet possibly survive?

61 Responses to Canada sees staggering mildness as planet’s high-pressure record is “obliterated”

  1. Nell says:

    “it’s impossible for many people in parts of the eastern Arctic to safely get on the ice to hunt much-needed food for their families—for the second winter in a row

    How do you define abrupt climate change?

    According to the Committee on Abrupt Climate Change of the National Research Council[1][9]:

    There are essentially two definitions of abrupt climate change:

    In terms of physics, it is a transition of the climate system into a different mode on a time scale that is faster than the responsible forcing.
    In terms of impacts, “an abrupt change is one that takes place so rapidly and unexpectedly that human or natural systems have difficulty adapting to it“.
    These definitions are complementary: the former gives some insight into how abrupt climate change comes about ; the latter explains why there is so much research devoted to it, why it inspires catastrophe movies, and may even be the reason why you are reading this page.


    How can I be anything but an alarmist?

  2. nan says:

    How can people continue to deny information like this?! It’s mind-boggling! They will only believe and make changes to their lifestyles once it hits them in the pocket – $5+ a gallon gas, expensive utilities, increased food prices. By then it will be way too late…..

  3. Wyoming says:

    a quick check on WeatherUnderground for temps in Greenland.

    of the 32 stations showing current temperature.

    8 above freezing
    14 others above 20 deg F
    1 at 46 deg F
    low out of all was only -19F

    next thing they are going to tell us is that the WAIS has a crack in it

  4. NeilT says:

    When talking to people about the impacts of AGW, I regularly talk about the most significant impacts, in the arctic, are beeing seen in winter. The very visible summer changes are more a manifestation of the damage done in winter rather than any huge changes in summer weather.

    The press, on the other hand, like to sensationalise short term -100 degree temperatures….

  5. Colorado Bob says:

    WAIS has a crack in it ………

    Anartctic Sea Ice Extent :

  6. Esop says:

    Most of Europe is way above average and has been for pretty much all of January. Areas close to the Arctic circle are seeing 40F+ temps with heavy rain.
    I predicted the cold weather to end right at New Year, based on statistics from 1989, when European winter weather went nuts, due to global warming. In 18 of 23 winters since 1989, a cold December turned into a warm January.
    Professional disinformers, like Bastardi and Corbyn, predicted a brutally cold January for Europe. These failed predictions were based on their ridiculously anti-scientific catastrophic Global Gooling theory, also known as cGC.
    These guys can’t even get a simple weekly forecast right, so it would be adviseable not to listen to their rants about predicted global cooling.

    Funny how the European media basically stopped reporting on the temperatures when they went way above average, since they were reporting temperatures slightly below average on the front page of the papers back in December.

  7. Esop says:

    #4 (Bob): That is highly interesting. Looks like it could beat the record minimum. I wonder of Watts & Co will report on that, as they seem to hold the Antarctic sea ice in high regard, reporting on it rather often.

  8. cervantes says:

    Unfortunately, we must acknowledge a serious political problem here. In the United States, most people are experiencing an unusually harsh winter — not just lots of snow, but below normal temperatures as well. Same was true last winter. It’s not just a question of what the disinformers and the media focus on. Most people’s picture of reality and decision heuristics are far more powerfully influenced by direct personal experience than by abstract arguments or reports about what is happening in distant places with which they have no connection. Under the circumstances, convincing Americans that this problem even exists, let alone that it is urgent, is extremely difficult. In fact, many people are likely to start wishing for warming.

    There is a hypothesis, increasingly popular, that this pattern will actually continue in coming years. It’s a huge challenge.

  9. Spaceman Spiff says:

    In Raymond T. Pierrehumbert’s recent featured article in Physics Today “Infrared radiation and planetary temperature” (an excellent tutorial), he uses the phrase global climate disruption. That seems to sum it up better than any other 3 word phrase.

  10. Re.: “…Coral Harbour, located at the northwest corner of Hudson Bay in the province of Nunavut…”

    Nunavut is NOT a province… it is a territory…

  11. Michael T. says:

    Esop #5

    NSIDC shows the map of Antarctic Sea Ice Extent for 01/22/2011:

    The sea ice appears to be very low in many places especially around the WAIS.

  12. Spaceman Spiff says:

    …at least unless/until it becomes “global climate catastrophe”, a few decades down the road.

  13. Wyoming says:

    I have this picture in my mind of the poor Antarctic researcher standing next to a large crevase and looking across it at his plane as he slowly drifts away.

    But in all seriousness I really do wonder what is going on underneath that mass of ice. With much warmer ocean temps than normal flowing underneath parts of the WAIS we might find ourselves a little shocked to learn that there is a lot less ice mass down there than we think. Changing ocean currents and warm water could do some significant erosion that would occur unseen until some critical event.

  14. Barry says:

    cervantes (#6), I think you are correct that the meme “i’m cold so no global warming problem” is a strong one in many people’s minds.

    This is caused by the unfortunate labeling of the problem in the early days as “global warming” instead of the more accurate “abrupt global climate changes”.

    As Hansen points out in his book, he unwittingly fed this beast in his early Senate testimony where he emphasized the hot and dry aspects more that the wet aspects. He talks about how he tried for years to correct this imbalance in the public’s mind in later testimony…but this never got above the radar compared to other aspects like the Bush White House rewriting his testimony.

    The solution is, as Spaceman Spiff points out in #7, to redefine the problem with a more accurate term that reflects the “effects people will feel” rather than just the underlying forcing that “the climate feels”.

    In my writings and talking to people I now use phrases like:

    — “climate destabilization caused by fossil fuel pollution”
    — “fossil fueled weather extremes”
    — “extreme weather driven by our destabilizing of the climate”
    — “climate is acting like an aggressive drunkard”
    — “global warming is destabilizing our climate and leading to more extreme and unpredictable weather.”

    People care about extreme weather events in their lives a great deal. This is very true for the people suffering extreme cold events as well.

    The best thing people can do who are in the “extreme cold” regions right now is to communicate as broadly as they can how these extreme weather events are being driven by fossil fuel pollution and how these will just get worse as time goes on.

  15. Colorado Bob says:

    The last 8 days in the US temperature records (out of 5,539 stations with at least 30 years of data) –
    Highs vs Lows
    Day –
    198 to 80
    272 to 76

  16. Barry says:

    Alaska, in near total darkness 24/7, is creating absolute high pressure readings equal to the summer time when the sun is blasting nearly 24/7.

    Wow. Just Wow.

    As Hansen says the danger we face is from “the nearness of tipping points”.

    Clearly the Arctic is tipping away from the climate and weather patterns humanity built our global infrastructure and agriculture to work in. And it is doing it non-linearly.

    Are there really NO Republicans that are willing to anything at all to try to stop this in time?!? It is totally immoral to block action on climate pollution at this point. How they live with themselves is beyond comprehension.

  17. Peter M says:

    Cervantes, I agree with you, since we in New England are suffering from prolonged record cold and record snowfall, at this point of the winter season.

    It becomes very difficult for many in the population (even here in New England, the most progressive part of the nation) to believe that AGW is a problem We should be concerned about.

    Some people look at me as if I have a ‘problem with reality’. I do not know what the long term forecast is from the NOAA for the northeast, but I am frankly tired of winter.

    Its this kind of weather anomaly that hurts our cause- and may in fact delay the movement to reduce C02 emissions.

  18. John Mason says:

    Been posting on the same thing over here since late November. The UK low anomalies were nowhere near as spectacular as the high-latitude warm anomalies.

    On a similar tack, the TM airmass that advected over the UK on January 12-13 had (Camborne 00z ascent) the tropopause at >11800m with a PWAT value of 28.82. These are both notable values for January. This is normally the season for low-topped thunderstorms that can give +ve C-G lightning superbolts, because of the reduced distance between the anvil and the ground surface.

    I have a friend who works at the Black Angel Pb-Zn mine in W Greenland. Glacier-melt has exposed the big new orebody that looks likely to keep that mine going in its second lease of life – until that happened its existence was apparently unknown.

    Welcome to the New Reality!

    Cheers – John

  19. fj3 says:

    It seems obvious that there will be scary local dramatic weather and climate changes and events most likely in the next 2 or 3 years. Even the end of decade stuff seems too conservative.

  20. NeilT says:

    “WAIS has a crack in it ……… ”

    Just a crack? How about not there at all….

    After the ice bridge broke away the Main portion of the Wilkins ice shelf started the breakout which was predicted.

    And it continues………

  21. mickey says:

    I think as some mentioned people tend to look at what the weather is like where they live. And I should note although Canada is quite mild this winter on a land weighted basis, most of the major populations are averaging close to normal and over the past two weeks, pretty much every area east of the Rockies has either been hit (in the case of the Prairies) or is being hit in the case of Eastern Canada by a major cold wave. In Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal, highs this weekend will struggle to reach -20C.

    As for Europe, most forecasts show it being near or slightly below normal for the remainder of the month, so this January will probably be average to slightly above but not enough to cancel out the December cold which was -5C below normal while this month will probably be about +1C above normal. Thus the winter will still probably come out as colder than normal even if 2 out of the 3 months were slightly above (at least using the meteorological winter Dec-Feb, if you use seasonal December 21st to March 21st then Europe may have a mild one). Besides I think one should not let their own views cloud their predictions on weather as you can still have unusually cold weather even with global warming and likewise it is also possible to have unusually mild weather if you were to have global cooling. Besides Bastardi unlike Corbyn predicted a cold winter in Southeastern Europe, but an average winter in Northwestern Europe and based on past La Ninas that seems like the most logical prediction as I believe that is what happened in both 2008 and in 1999 where Northwestern Europe had a mild winter but Souteastern Europe a cold one.

  22. Tom Gray says:

    @Peter M, what record cold? I live in New England too (Vermont), and it’s been a slightly chilly winter so far, but nothing in the realm of records to my knowledge and certainly not “prolonged record cold.”–Tom Gray, consultant to American Wind Energy Association

  23. mickey says:

    I should also add, I wonder if the record temperatures were due to the late freeze as once Hudson Bay froze over temperatures dropped to more normal levels. Northeastern Canada and Greenland are around the same latitude as Scandinavia yet about 20C (36F) colder. One of the differences is the ocean doesn’t freeze around Scandinavia in the winter but does in Greenland and Northeastern Canada. I would think if it didn’t freeze over, their winters would be much like Scandinavia and likewise Scandinavia would have significantly colder winters if the ocean did freeze over.

  24. peter whitehead says:

    One of easier ways to get across to folks is to concentrate on something visual, so the sea ice graph at

    is useful. I keep using it in every media comment section I can slightly justify it. As it MAY be going to give a record ‘lowest maximum’ this season, it’s good to keep putting it out there. If it DOES do that, we need to try to get mainstream media to notice it. Of course the zombies will say that in the past Vikings sailed across the North Pole every winter, but some people are in their own alternative universe.

  25. dbmetzger says:

    And lakes are popping up in the darnest places.
    “Inland Sea” Moves Across Australia
    A vast lake almost 55-miles long will spread over the Australian state of Victoria during the next 10 days. Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan says the floods will rank as one of the most costly disasters in the country’s history.

  26. Leif says:

    Many of you may of missed this January, 18 event, as it is mostly an ocean event. However the unusual high currently over Alaska could be associated.

    And who can forget the “Frankenstorm” of last year! (Cliff Mass Archives, mid-Jan+, last.)

  27. paulm says:

    “Lets HOPE its a blip”
    paper by Flanner et al in Nature Geosciences tries to estimate the so called ‘cryosphere albedo feedback’ since 1979.

    The authors find that the total effect is 0.33-1.07 W m-2 K-1 with a best estimate of 0.62 W m-2 K-1, significantly higher than climate models’ 0.25 W m-2 K-1. Models have underestimated the darkening of the Northern Hemisphere and therefore how much global warming we’re ultimately in for.

    Perhaps the first snow and ice melted more quickly than expected and eventually we’ll run out of the easy to melt bits, or maybe the decline in Arctic sea ice will halt for ~30 years to bring it back in line with models. However, if the current pattern holds then this would boost the best estimate of global warming temperature rises by about 20% – here’s hoping it’s just a blip!

  28. Spaceman Spiff wrote:

    In Raymond T. Pierrehumbert’s recent featured article in Physics Today “Infrared radiation and planetary temperature” (an excellent tutorial), he uses the phrase global climate disruption. That seems to sum it up better than any other 3 word phrase.

    I agree about the tutorial. And I also find “global climate disruption” preferable to “global warming” or “climate change.” The former focuses too much on temperature and the later sounds like something gradual or what you personally might might experience moving from Washington to Oregon.

    The biggest difference under global climate disruption is the acceleration of the hydrological cycle. Rate of evaporation and precipitation increases by 8% for every degree Celsius and doubles for every 10°C. The Hadley Cells expand, moving the dry subtropical region (where air subsides after losing its moisture) poleward.

    Land warms more quickly than ocean, causing the continental interiors to dry out. Droughts become more common when there is little precipitation due to the higher rate of evaporation but higher atmospheric moisture content results in stronger storms and greater flooding when precipitation occurs.

    Furthermore, the term “disruption” gets at the fact that the change isn’t gradual or even, and that there may even be areas that at times will experience cold snaps as the result of changes in atmospheric circulation. It comes closer to communicating the changes in weather extremes.

    Even the heat waves will be more deadly not as the result of simply temperature but temperature and humidity, with the nights refusing to cool down that would otherwise give those suffering through the heatwaves a badly needed break, and with humidity reducing the body’s ability to cool through sweating and evaporation. One recent paper found that the combination of higher temperatures and humidity during summers might actually render large parts of the world uninhabitable and have a greater effect than rising sea levels.

  29. Steve Bloom says:

    Similar to the familair “climate is what you expect, weather is what you get,” I propose:

    “Global warming is what you want, global climate disruption is what you get.”

  30. Aubrey Enoch says:

    The Energy Collective has a pod-caste entitled, “Is There Hope for Solar?”. Can you imagine? As if there was any other “hope”. We call PV, Wind, and Hydro renewable energy when they are all solar energy. As long as we let the fossil energy interests make up the story the way that they want to tell it, they will continues to obscure the fact that sunshine is the only income we’ve got and there is plenty of it to power our world.
    They have oil and coal to sell and they plan to sell every last drop.
    What is the comparison of money spent on research in electricity storage (as in improving on hundred year old lead/acid battery technology) and the money spent on carbon sequestration? That fraction might put some numbers on the extent of the effort to suppress solar. As long as the masses remain ignorant of the true nature of solar they will accept carbon combustion as a necessity. We can maintain civilization on solar power, but we’re getting nowhere calling it “renewable”.
    These temperatures in this post are staggering.
    We’ve got to make Solar Income and Negawatt the words of 2011.
    Is there hope for solar? ……..What planet are they from?
    Sunshine is the only income we’ve got.

  31. Utah climate watcher says:

    I just want to thank all of you habitual commentors. I read the comments and learn as much from your links as from the artcles themselves.

    I also foward the most significant articles to all the science literate folks on my e-mail list asking them to forward them on; hoping that spreading informatin will cause someone who makes policy to notice.

    Great job to all of you.

  32. Tom Gray says:

    Turns out I am mistaken–instead of slightly chilly here in Vermont, it’s actually been a bit above normal. So far in January, average high 28F, average low 10F, compared with historic average high 27F, low 7F. I’d add that from comments I’ve seen from friends on Facebook, I think that after a few warmer winters, people tend to forget how cold it is here normally. In any event, the numbers bear me out–no sign of “prolonged record cold” here, although there is some talk that tonight (tomorrow morning, actually) may see a record low for the date. Personally, I kind of doubt it, as the existing record for Jan. 24 is -28F. –Tom Gray, consultant to American Wind Energy Association

  33. Bruce says:

    @Peter and @Tom:
    Though New England is experiencing wicked cold this weekend, I’ve been struck at how the temperature has hovered around freezing, not remaining well below freezing. I have a hunch that on average, it will be a mild winter for NE, but people will remember the deep cold and the snow. People remember extreme days, not average days.
    I am even more struck at minor coastal flooding, in storms and in my personal observation. We’re seeing high tides reach higher than folk remember. Only high enough to raise comment, not alarm, but a bad harbinger.

  34. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #28: “Rate of evaporation and precipitation increases by 8% for every degree Celsius and doubles for every 10°C.”

    Timothy, I don’t think this is correct. I’ve been spending time tracking down the sources for this information over the last couple of days and haven’t been able to find an up-to-date single source, but AFAICT:

    — Atmospheric water vapor (globally averaged) increases by 7% per degree C increase. This is from the physics (Clausius-Clapeyron) and so is quite firm. (I got it from a Trenberth paper, but very recently I’ve seen him say 8% for the last 30 or 40 years, so maybe there’s been an adjustment.)

    — Precipitation intensity increases by ~4% (I think based on measurements; per the Copenhagen Diagnosis this increase should be a little higher). Drought increases as well, although I don’t have a global figure for that.

    — Overall precip. has increased only 1-2% (not stat sig, but not expected to be).

    If Joe has the information to clarify any of this (or can email Trenberth to get it), that would be great. These figures have become very topical of late, and seem likely to stay that way.

  35. Villabolo says:

    Is Negative Arctic Oscillation here to stay for the next decade or more? How quickly will it accelerate the Arctic “death spiral”?

    Whatever happens is not going to be good for crops. I seriously suggest survivalist preparations and strategies while there’s time.

  36. fj3 says:

    National Wildlife Federation: Study – Loss of sunlight reflectivity in arctic is double what was originally thought:

  37. Deborah Stark says:

    Re: Bruce | Post #34

    “…..We’re seeing high tides reach higher than folk remember. Only high enough to raise comment, not alarm, but a bad harbinger…..”


    Storm surges, if concurrent with high tide, are doing noticeably more damage these days.


    Boston resident

  38. Michael T. says:

    Vilabolo @36,

    I don’t think this variability is here to stay forever. Looking at the AO Index graph you see it fluctuates from negative to positive often over the entire record with little long-term change. However the last couple of winters it has been extremely negative causing these cold winter anomalies in middle latitude regions. It’s possible that this pattern could shift toward more negative phase but I don’t think it’s likely the norm going forward. I think the the odds are that the next couple of winters we’ll see a return to somewhat warmer winters in many of these regions in Europe and the U.S.

    I posted links below to the AO Index graph and to Hansen’s climate graph/maps page:

    Observed AO Index, 1950-2010

    James Hansen’s global temperature page

  39. Paulm says:

    yes 25#,

    This unprecidented global flooding of such a wide global scope is going to be contributing to more evaporation and downpours as the water sits there and the land heats back up.

    We have already seen this in the flooding of Victoria,auz. It has been recognized that the flood water in se queensland has contributed to the deluse in the Victoria region. (I can’t find the link right now.)

    This again is another form of warming feedback which will accelerate the process.

    I am convinced that we are over the edge now for extreme events. The obious threshold being the 1998/2005/2010 global temp.

    And are probably over for multi-meter melt of the ice sheets if you consider feedbacks which are missing from the models like the one above and the albedo warming under estimate in the models.

  40. The largest anomalies (across the Canadian Arctic…) exceed 21°C (37.8°F) above average, which are very large values to be sustained for an entire month.

    Hey. Chill. It’s probably just the Urban Heat Island effect. I’m sure that climate boffin Anthony Watts’ surface stations project can easily account for this. It accounts for pretty much everything else, apparently…

    Hey, when is that paper of his being published?

  41. Villabolo says:

    @17 Peter M says:

    It becomes very difficult for many in the population (even here in New England, the most progressive part of the nation) to believe that AGW is a problem We should be concerned about.

    Some people look at me as if I have a ‘problem with reality’. I do not know what the long term forecast is from the NOAA for the northeast, but I am frankly tired of winter.

    Its this kind of weather anomaly that hurts our cause- and may in fact delay the movement to reduce C02 emissions.

    Simple remedy, though it will have to be done with mindless repetition.

    Carry an anomaly image in your back pocket and upon presenting it to Mr/Ms “Reality” explain that red means hotter than average and blue means cooler than average.

    At first the contrast and quantity of the colors will give an unconscious signal that something is wrong with their ‘reality’. As soon as you give a short verbal presentation, the visually obvious will register in their conscious mind.

    The following should suffice:

    “Only a small portion of the Earth was bluer, that is cooler than normal but look at how much of it is white-neutral-to dark red which is much hotter up to umpteen degrees above normal.”

  42. riverat says:

    #31 …they will continues to obscure the fact that sunshine is the only income we’ve got…

    I like that analogy. By burning fossil fuels we’re spending our solar energy savings while throwing away our daily income of solar energy. That’s not a sustainable strategy.

  43. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I think that it is about time to admit that anthropogenic climate disruption is proceeding far more rapidly than even the most pessimistic prognostications of even recent years. Moreover it is clear that we have passed a number of ‘tipping-points’ and points of no return, such as the situation in the Arctic. Barring a miracle we are stuffed. Possibly if, starting yesterday, every country abolished its militaries and turned those trillions over entirely to decarbonisation of the atmosphere, we might have a long-shot chance. Of course, what will happen, in a year or two when even the craziest denialists have given up and the denialist industry thought controllers have retired to spend their loot, change their appearance and take on new identities (to avoid the pitch-fork mobs), is that some hare-brained geo-engineering lunacy will be pushed, by Rightwing cornutopian techno-optimists, with catastrophic consequences. I’m just constantly amazed at my crazy luck to be alive when Homo sapiens does itself in.

  44. Villabolo says:

    @43 Mulga Mumblebrain:

    Thank you Mulga. I couldn’t have said it better myself. You have a good reading on the pulse of the political, the social as well as the scientific aspects of this issue.

  45. From Peru says:

    Not only are Air temperatures in Canada/Greenland unseasonably warm, also the SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES (SST):

    This is of course bad news to the Greenland Ice Sheet, as warm ocean temperatures melt the glacier terminations. This greatly accelerates the flow of outlet glaciers, the main driver of glacier loss in the Greenland and Antartic ice sheets (an increase of summer surface ice and snow melt also contributes, but this is only in summer. Acceleration of glacier flow occurs year round)

    There is also the other (warm) side of a extreme negative North Atlantic Oscillation: very warm SST in the Tropical Atlantic, specially in the African side:

    This is a result of a weak (or as in late November 2010, even absent) Azores High, that results in weak east-west Trade Winds, so that warm water stays in the Tropical Atlantic, instead of being trasported to the North.

    This last thing results, if the anomaly persist until Spring and Summer, in a very active North Atlantic hurricane season and drought in the Amazon Rainforest.

    If the NAO behaves as last year, this is very bad news to the North Americans (Katrinas, Ritas, Igors, …) and to the Amazon.

    If all this is a result of Arctic sea ice melt, we can say:



  46. dhogaza says:

    “The largest anomalies (across the Canadian Arctic…) exceed 21°C (37.8°F) above average, which are very large values to be sustained for an entire month.

    Hey. Chill. It’s probably just the Urban Heat Island effect. I’m sure that climate boffin Anthony Watts’ surface stations project can easily account for this. It accounts for pretty much everything else, apparently…”

    Naw, it’s the polar bear dens. Haven’t you heard? Polar bear numbers have been greatly increasing since management switched from an open unlimited season to a controlled hunt in the US and Canada!

    A lot more bears means a lot more bears generating heat!

  47. Catchblue22 says:

    Watching the way the denial movement seems to be able to deny pretty much any evidence that contradicts them, I am forced to begin viewing them as people who are trying to leave the Enlightenment behind. They are acting against the intellectual heritage that has made the West great. They are in effect abandoning reason itself. How else can I view this when they repeat well refuted statements, when they commit nearly every logical fallacy in an introductory logic textbook.

    This is more than simply a scientific dispute. This is a war against the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. It is war against Democracy. It is a war against the idea that all members of the public have the right to know the Truth.

    To quote Aristotle:
    “The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold. “

  48. Deborah Stark says:

    Re: Post #44 | Mulga Mumblebrain
    January 23, 2011 at 7:32 pm


  49. Colorado Bob says:

    I want you all to follow this rule :

    Reduce the distance of your next bite of food.

    Your food rides in a “tractor-trailer” , every bite rides 1,500 miles.

    This whole paradigm is as dead as “Buddy Holly” . This year is about to make this very clear.

    My solution :
    Get 10 of your friends, cough-up a $100.00 bucks each, and plant a garden. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

  50. Colorado Bob says:

    This Great Greenland Heat Wave is a real corker, it was 46F on the southwest coast there on Nov. 19th, three days later on the 22nd, …. it hit 57F.

    Nothing makes rotten ice like 57F & Greenland wind speeds.

  51. Colorado Bob says:

    Ask Allen when the last time it was 57F on Nov. 22nd in Greenland in the beginning heat wave that ran to Jan. 2nd. Then it drifted west.

    This is the Russian Heat Wave , it never really ever left. Like the Giant Red Spot on Jupiter.

  52. Bruced says:

    paulm – sorry mate but down here in Aus we don’t believe in climate change. That includes politicians, unions, press, industry, the general public and, sadly, much of academia. Our economic future is safely mapped out selling coal and iron ore to China. So please, no mention of climate change! Anyone knowing the story of the Magic Pudding will know what Aus politics is based on and that reality is strictly forbidden. (for those not so well-educated the story tells of a magic pudding which, no matter how often it is eaten, always reforms in order to be eaten again. )

  53. Colorado Bob says:

    The giant lows, the giant highs ……… Jupiter. Straight line winds in between .
    Not one reason in the world why that can’t happen. Driving it all … the “hypertropics” pumping out warm water vapor to the poles.

    That is a heat pump.

  54. Paulm says:

    53 Bruced,
    Its like much else where. I however believe that people now know. They know that the climate is warming and changing. They know that its seems to be changing for the worst. They know that we are the real cause. They know that the climate scientist were and are right and things will be getting worse.

    They however are not prepared to leave the comort of fossil fuels and so the self-deception is there. They admit to the warming, they admit that it has something to do with us. But they refuse to believe that they are responsible the for outcomes and that they can do anything about it….

    It’s a moral issue…though. People have to and will face up to their responsibilities of a civil society. Will they do it in time though?

    >Yes, our lives must be an expression of what we most deeply value.
    >Yes, we can and must make conscience-driven choices about how we spend our money and time.
    >Yes, we must provide a safe and thriving future for our children.

  55. Mike Lizzi says:

    @Villabolo wrote:
    “Carry an anomaly image in your back pocket.”

    But don’t carry the image at the start of this article or you will be accused of bias. A map like that is highly distorted and shows the arctic far larger than it really is. Remember Greenland is only 27% the size of the lower 48 states. If the anomoly were painted on a globe, the percentage of red would be much much smaller.

  56. PSU Grad says:

    Interesting NY Times article on just this topic. Looks like it’ll be in Tuesday’s print issue.

  57. Roger B. says:

    I monitor temperatures throughout northern North America and the large positive deviations in the north got started in August 2009. For the period August 1, 2009 through December 31, 2010 (518 days), here are some temperature deviations relative to the 1971-2000 averages for a few communities:

    Iqaluit, Nunuvut ….. +8.1 F (4.5 C)
    Churchill, Manitoba .. +6.9 F (3.8 C)
    Goose Bay, NFL ……. +6.4 F (3.6 C)
    Yellowknife, NWT ….. +5.7 F (3.2 C)
    Moosonee, Ontario …. +5.6 F (3.1 C)
    Sault Ste. Marie, MI . +3.9 F (2.2 C)
    Prudhoe Bay, AK …… +3.7 F (2.1 C)

    With the exception of Sault Ste. Marie, the rest are running above average in January 2011 through Jan. 23 with Iqaluit running 22.3 F (12.4 C) above the 1971-2000 average.

    Roger Blanchard
    Sault Ste. Marie, MI

  58. Steve H says:

    @ PSU Grad
    Interesting article, but they really laid on thick the “doubt”. Unfortunately, the idea that AGW will cause freakish, temporary weather cycles which will bedevil the public’s want for testable predictions of near-term weather outcomes resulting from warming was neglected. Hinted at, perhaps, but not really called out as climate chaos.

  59. Villabolo says:

    @56 Mike Lizzi says:

    @Villabolo wrote:

    “Carry an anomaly image in your back pocket.”

    “But don’t carry the image at the start of this article or you will be accused of bias. A map like that is highly distorted and shows the arctic far larger than it really is. Remember Greenland is only 27% the size of the lower 48 states. If the anomoly were painted on a globe, the percentage of red would be much much smaller.”

    Unfortunately, a polar image won’t show much. Unless these image are transferred over to Dymaxion map format they will be the only ones we have.

    Of course the images used in this article use the same unavoidably distorted format.

  60. kermit says:

    I was raised in a back country church in the US. Just to add to Mulga’s astute summary of our near future: there are tens of millions of Americans who think that Jesus will soon return, the world will descend into chaos, and the True Believers will rise into the sky to join Jesus in Heaven. They will be disappointed at first that they didn’t leave the chaos behind immediately, but they will readjust their myths so that they are still the righteous ones, waiting to be picked on by the Happy Sky Express. These folks reject science, have an infinite capacity to deny the evidence, and have an internal map of reality that consists solely of non sequitors. They may be fearless, many will hate us mostly rational folks, and already are delusional by nature and nurture.

    So watch your back.