Friday, November 18, 2016

The Arctic's Death Spiral

It's that bastard, Rossby. Blame Rossby.

The Arctic is again overheating a lot like last year. Winter is setting in except it's not, not really.

Something is totally off. The Arctic is super-hot, even as a vast area of cold polar air has been displaced over Siberia...“It’s about 20C [36 degrees Fahrenheit] warmer than normal over most of the Arctic Ocean, along with cold anomalies of about the same magnitude over north-central Asia,” Jennifer Francis, an Arctic specialist at Rutgers University, said by email Wednesday.

Up until October, things were relatively normal—at least, as normal as they can be in the era of record-shattering climate change. In mid-October Arctic temperatures suddenly flattened and then rose, instead of continuing downward as winter progressed. What happened?

“The Arctic warmth is the result of a combination of record-low sea-ice extent for this time of year, probably very thin ice, and plenty of warm/moist air from lower latitudes being driven northward by a very wavy jet stream.” Francis has published research suggesting that the jet stream, which travels from west to east across the Northern Hemisphere in the mid-latitudes, is becoming more wavy and elongated as the Arctic warms faster than the equator does.

Mark Serreze, who heads the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., agrees that something odd is going on....What’s happening, he explains, is sort of a “double whammy.” On the one hand, there is a “very warm underlying ocean” due to the lack of sea ice forming above it. But, at the same time, kinks in the jet stream have allowed warm air to flow northward and frigid Arctic air to descend over Siberia.

Those wavy jet stream things, they're called Rossby Waves. They plunge down toward the tropics, carrying freezing temperatures far to the south, and then soar up into the Arctic, carrying warm air to the polar region.

Last winter's Arctic heatwave triggered cyclonic winds that caused the sea ice to thin about 10 cms. or 4 inches. That meant an earlier spring/summer melt, more exposed ocean water, more heat absorption, a warmer Arctic ocean, a delayed winter freeze - you probably get the idea that this has become a vicious circle, what's being called the Arctic's death spiral. And that, kids, is what's called a natural feedback loop - the very thing we're supposed to be slashing greenhouse gas emissions to avoid triggering. Only it's already well underway.


Northern PoV said...

It could cool off tomorrow. You never know.
However, I'd put money on the bet that we've entered (what you also reference) a new era: Runaway Global Warming rife with 'positive feedback loops'.

Things are dire in the Arctic. What about the other pole?

My brother-in-law calls me a warmist. Two years ago he was ecstatic: the ice pack in the Antarctic had expanded and total global ice cover had increased - proof that my warmist colleagues were suppressing and ignoring contrarian evidence.

So I googled this and couldn't find much.. Was he right - was someone killing the story?

I searched further- and grasped the different dynamics of the two poles:
one is an ocean surrounded by land masses
the other a land mass (10,000 ft high on the eastern side) surrounded by ocean.

The expanded ice pack was single year ice (and likely caused by .... you guessed it, global warming) and not significant in the big picture.

This year Antarctic ice is at a record low (and again perhaps not more significant than the other extreme two years before).

The big new is from the western Antarctic where the on-land glaciers are held in place by the coastal glaciers that sit on the sea bottom. At least one of those has recently lost 1/2 km of thickness as the warm ocean melts it from below.

The Mound of Sound said...

NPoV, it was just a few years ago that we were warned that the Earth had warmed 0.8 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels. Last year it became 1.0C. The World Meteorological Organization has just announced that 2016 saw that reach 1.2C of warming. We've gone almost half a degree Celsius in a handful of years. Much more warming is locked in thanks to our existing atmospheric GHG loading. Yet our pathetic government bleats about the need to keep warming below 1.5C while proposing initiatives that will do next to nothing to slash our carbon footprint.

Anonymous said...

The cherry trees are now in bloom in Victoria.

The Mound of Sound said...

What? How can that be?

Anonymous said...

In BC Christy Clark has stated that she wants the BC Hydro site C project to go beyond the point of no return.
The comment is a pro business statement with total disregard to ecological considerations, first nation considerations, global warming considerations or agricultural considerations.

I ask; is the global warming deniers mission driven by the same selfishness?


Anonymous said...

Sorry off subject.
An example of the establishment.
Harper, Trudeau, May, Clinton Trump, Clark, you name it!!


Anonymous said...

Weather vs climate; will this help?


Anonymous said...

Awww sigh! What to do, what to do? Horses can be lead to water but unfortunately they cannot be made to drink. Just wait till the weather is bad enough...and watch another batch of those yangbans, building underground forts to keep cool while armed guards keep the riff raff away. Anyong