Sunday, February 12, 2017

What Do Australia and the Arctic Have in Common?

What do they have in common? Well this year Australia, in the height of the southern hemisphere summer, and the Arctic, in the blackout of northern hemisphere winter, are both being hammered by recurrent heatwaves.

The "Land Down Under" has been sweltering under record summer heatwaves with some places hitting temperatures in the high 40s Celsius.

The "Great White North" is now in the throes of the third, "Dark of Winter" heatwave of the season with temperatures spiking to 30 C above normal.

This Arctic heatwave is/was considered a once-a-decade event only, with three events in just this one winter, that's no longer the case.

Everyone agrees that "something is very, very wrong with the Arctic climate," as Mashable's science editor tweeted on Wednesday. Scientists know that the meltdown results from the complex interaction of players including emissions-driven climate change, warm air and water, and shrinking ice area. Divvying up blame is tough, but the general trends are clear.

Normally, this time of year is winter in the arctic, although you might not know it from this week’s balmy 40-degree [F] temperatures in Svalbard, an island halfway between Norway and the North Pole. With weather typically in the single digits or teens, now is the time for sea ice to refreeze after the summer melt.

But that’s not happening. Sea ice raised eyebrows by halting in October, and then caused alarm by melting in November. Melting, despite the six-month perma-night of an arctic sun that never rises.

“The ridiculously warm temperatures in the Arctic during October and November this year are off the charts over our 68 years of measurements,” Jennifer Francis, a climate scientist at Rutgers University who studies the Arctic, told Climate Central.

Scientists suspect this year’s meager sea ice covering may be contributing to the barrage of heat waves. "As that sea ice moves northward, there’s a huge reservoir of heat over the north Atlantic," atmospheric physics expert Kent Moore of the University of Toronto told the Washington Post. "As we lose the sea ice, it allows essentially this reservoir of warmth to move closer to the pole."


Northern PoV said...

clathrate gun

Funny, I first read this term over 20 years ago in a decent SF book:

While the trigger in the book was a nuclear explosion it alerted me to this issue - but of course back then I had no idea that a different trigger was already being pulled cause: carbon was at ....... 350 ppm and Bill McKibben was unknown.

Northern PoV said...

Hey -
Looking at tRump and tRudeau hugging and smiling brought this great quote to mind...

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”
― George Orwell, Animal Farm