Sea ice decline posited to be driving snowier NH winters

From Georgia Tech, the science press release that gave us the best-warming-headline-evah thanks to media spin, likely started by BBC’s Richard Black. It is worth noting that this study cites data from such a short time from 2009-2011. Surely if any skeptical paper used such a short time period for a climatic conclusion, the paper would be laughed at and derided as the the worst kind of cherry picking. But, there’s a difference here, this paper is about synoptic scale events, in seasonal time periods, so while on one hand Arctic sea ice decline is said to be a climatic scale event (which I and others believe is driven by Asian industrialization soot and wind patterns rather than temperature), synoptic effects leading to snowier winters in the northern hemisphere is a seasonal scale event. Still, as the maxim we are constantly reminded of goes, correlation does not necessarily equal causation. The circumpolar vortex is a complex thing, like a pulsating amoeba, the lobes of high and lows can be pushed around by regional effects, so the idea isn’t totally implausible. But, I’m reserving judgment on the synoptic effects of sea ice loss on NH winter weather patterns until I see more examples. – Anthony

Arctic Sea Ice Decline May be Driving Snowy Winters Seen in Recent Years

Maps showing the differences in snow cover relative to the long-term average for the winters of (left) 2009-2010 and (right) 2010-2011. During these two winters, the Northern Hemisphere measured its second and third largest snow cover levels on record. (Credit: Jiping Liu) click to enlarge

A new study led by the Georgia Institute of Technology provides further evidence of a relationship between melting ice in the Arctic regions and widespread cold outbreaks in the Northern Hemisphere. The study’s findings could be used to improve seasonal forecasting of snow and temperature anomalies across northern continents.

Since the level of Arctic sea ice set a new record low in 2007, significantly above-normal winter snow cover has been seen in large parts of the northern United States, northwestern and central Europe, and northern and central China. During the winters of 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, the Northern Hemisphere measured its second and third largest snow cover levels on record.

“Our study demonstrates that the decrease in Arctic sea ice area is linked to changes in the winter Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation,” said Judith Curry, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech. “The circulation changes result in more frequent episodes of atmospheric blocking patterns, which lead to increased cold surges and snow over large parts of the northern continents.”

The study was published on Feb. 27, 2012 in the online early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research was supported by NASA and the National Science Foundation.

In this study, scientists from Georgia Tech, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Columbia University expanded on previous research by combining observational data and model simulations to explore the link between unusually large snowfall amounts in the Northern Hemisphere in recent winters and diminishing Arctic sea ice.

The researchers analyzed observational data collected between 1979 and 2010 and found that a decrease in autumn Arctic sea ice of 1 million square kilometers — the size of the surface area of Egypt — corresponded to significantly above-normal winter snow cover in large parts of the northern United States, northwestern and central Europe, and northern and central China.

The analysis revealed two major factors that could be contributing to the unusually large snowfall in recent winters — changes in atmospheric circulation and changes in atmospheric water vapor content — which are both linked to diminishing Arctic sea ice. Strong warming in the Arctic through the late summer and autumn appears to be enhancing the melting of sea ice.

“We think the recent snowy winters could be caused by the retreating Arctic ice altering atmospheric circulation patterns by weakening westerly winds, increasing the amplitude of the jet stream and increasing the amount of moisture in the atmosphere,” explained Jiping Liu, a senior research scientist in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech. “These pattern changes enhance blocking patterns that favor more frequent movement of cold air masses to middle and lower latitudes, leading to increased heavy snowfall in Europe and the Northeast and Midwest regions of the United States.”

Diminishing Arctic sea ice can cause changes in atmospheric circulation that lead to a circulation pattern that is different than the “negative phase” of the Arctic Oscillation.

In addition to analyzing observational data, the researchers also assessed the impact of the diminishing Arctic sea ice on atmospheric circulation by comparing the results of model simulations run with different sea ice distribution. They ran one experiment that assumed seasonally varying Arctic sea ice and utilized sea ice concentration data collected between 1979 and 2010. Another simulation incorporated prescribed sea ice loss in autumn and winter based on satellite-derived Arctic sea ice concentrations.

The simulations showed that diminishing Arctic sea ice induced a significant surface warming in the Arctic Ocean and Greenland/northeastern Canada, and cooling over northern North America, Europe, Siberia and eastern Asia. The models also showed above-normal winter snowfall in large parts of the northern United States, central Europe, and northern and central China.

The consistent relationships seen in the model simulations and observational data illustrate that the rapid loss of sea ice in summer and delayed recovery of sea ice in autumn modulates snow cover, winter temperature and the frequency of cold air outbreaks in northern mid-latitudes.

Huijun Wang and Mirong Song of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Atmospheric Physics and Radley Horton from the Columbia University Center for Climate Systems Research also contributed to this work.

This project was supported by the NASA Energy and Water Cycle Study and the National Science Foundation (NSF) (Award No. ANT-0838920). The content is solely the responsibility of the principal investigators and does not necessarily represent the official views of NASA or the NSF. 

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98 Responses to Sea ice decline posited to be driving snowier NH winters

  1. Josh says:

    How’s that for negative feedback then ;-)

  2. Alan the Brit says:

    So, question. What evidence do they have to show that this sort of thing hasn’t always been going on? They only have 31 years ish of observational data, which for a climate event imho is insignificant! Also as noted they actually only cite two winters to suit their case! What caused the extremely cold winters of the ealry 1960s in northern Europe for example?

  3. cassandraclub says:

    A beautiful negative feedback.
    More snow -> increased reflection of sunlight -> cooling

  4. TomRude says:

    Judith Curry, and the tail wags the dog too… Really, this makes no sense at all… Check where the scandinavian blocage was in 1963 and the sea ice extent. And Read Leroux!

  5. David Schofield says:

    I wonder what all the people and organisations that planned for milder wetter winters on the past 20 years advice are going to make of this? Like Otter Farm in Devon who became a ‘Mediterranean’ farm to highlight our warming climate – from their website;
    “The Otter Farm blog is a window into what’s happening at the UK’s only climate change farm – where we’ve planting olives, peaches, pecans, persimmons, apricots, szechuan pepper, vines and much more.”

    They’re stuffed then!

  6. Dave in Canmore says:

    “We think the recent snowy winters could be caused by the retreating Arctic ice”

    Providing a mechanism to backstop this statement would have been nice. Perhaps in the paper they explain just HOW this happens. Considering such a mechanism is the basis for the entire claim that a warmer world is making it snowier, its omission is telling.

  7. It is almost as if Richard Black is having a laugh at everyone’s expense.

    I’m not the real Richard Black of course, but you can follow me if you want a giggle…..

  8. Pingo says:

    Either its nonsense or a huge negative feedback. Which one is it watermelons?

  9. TomRude says:

    Dave , Right on!

  10. Kelvin Vaughan says:

    Now we know what causes Ice Ages, it’s when the world gets a lot hotter and the poles melt.

  11. gator69 says:

    I used to play with models. Then I had to get a job and actually be a productive citizen.

  12. Tom C says:

    As is typical of the warmists, they take the predominate weather pattern of the most recent winter, reproduce it in a climate model loaded with global warming algorithm signals, then announce that their results are completely consistent with “what we expect from global warming.” No surprise here.

    In 2006-07 winter, the warm December drew posts from RealClimate describing the ‘new normal’ of US winter climate – as expected from climate models, of course, as they showed warmer winters and warmer nights.
    Another competing study that winter was that there would be a disproportionately higher number of ice storms, as well, as it would no longer be cold enough aloft for snow crystallization to occur but still cold enough at the surface, for now, for freezing rain. They put that “for now” caveat there to imply that eventually there will be no freezing rain either as it will simply be too warm for even that as well. If you remember, there were some devastating ice storms that winter.

    Then came the 2007-08 winter and temperatures dropped below the 30-year satellite mean (later calculated) fueled by La Nina. Record snowfalls across the northern US states. The corresponding cold drew silence from the warmists but one was brave enough to speak up, James Hansen. He claimed that by the winter of 2008-09 there would be a “super el nino” and a new global temperature record high. What happened? Another La Nina.

    Then in the winter of 2008-09 La Nina brought more records, London snow in October, -50°F in Maine…and record snowfall across a wide swath of the northern US states, again. This is when “more water vapor means more snow where it’s still cold enough to snow” started. That particular weather was fed into climate models, which lo-and-behold, yielded the intended results. Heavy snowfall was now completely consistent with the climate models, only now the heavy snow would be confined to the north, and ever more so in the coming years, with much less snow, if any at all, to the south – like in areas around the Mid-Atlantic States… Then came the winter of 2009-10.

    This was the winter of snowmaggedon. And snowpocalypse. What ever happened to the snowfall only occurring in the north? These were record breaking snowstorms in the Mid-Atlantic States, in Oklahoma (along with -31°F all-time state record lows – a region just recently graded zone 6 by the USDA BTW) where they were no longer supposed to occur. What’s the excuse this time? El Nino…

    Then the winter of 2010-11 came. Blizzard after blizzard in NYC left snowbound by Bloomberg. Record snowfall in Philadelphia…again. But there’s La Nina this time around. I thought El Nino combined with record water vapor was the reason for the record snowfall so far south, which wasn’t supposed to occur anymore? What is it this time?
    The arctic oscillation…
    The last two years there’s been a record negative arctic oscillation because of the reduced sea-ice we were told. The consequence of global warming… Record high atmospheric heights over Greenland and eastern Canada, right where climate models said they would be. This is causing a “warm-arctic/cold-continents regime” bringing about record snowfalls further south.

    Now we’re at this winter. Near-record postive arctic oscillation, vortex core centered over Baffin Bay much of the winter, exactly opposite of the previous two winters in the western hemisphere. Why is it so mild? Polar vortex stronger than normal? No….
    Why then?
    Global warming, of course…

  13. John from CA says:

    Alan the Brit says:
    February 28, 2012 at 7:35 am
    ============
    If there is a natural recurring cycle (which there is) and if we’re at the top of the 60 year cycle (which we appear to be but it varies in duration from epoch to epoch) then rolling the “way-back” machine to the top of the last similar temperature epoch (about 120 years ago — 60 years would also be interesting) should show a similar pattern of snowfall.

    Were there similar conditions in the Arctic and NH snowfall around 1892 and 1952 plus or minus a few years?

  14. cui bono says:

    So AGW leads to colder winters. Or, taken to its logical conclusion…..

    “After examination of longer timescales, it has been suggested that the increasing Pleistocene climate variability may be interpreted as a signal that the near geological future might bring a transition from glacial–interglacial oscillations to a stable state characterized by permanent mid-latitude Northern Hemisphere glaciation.”

    Crowley, T. J. & Hyde, W. T. 2008
    http://www.geos.ed.ac.uk/homes/tcrowley/crowley_Nature08_iceages.pdf

    I’m at 51.2N. Send icepicks! I repeat, icepicks!

  15. John from CA says:

    John from CA says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    February 28, 2012 at 8:31 am
    ============
    Alan the Brit,
    There are so many natural feedbacks and forces at work (chaotic climate system), its unlikely we’ll see an exact match in trend but its a very interesting question and points to our overall understanding of the climate system. If hind casting falls, forecasting is equally flawed?

  16. Tim Ball says:

    I am being sued for comments in an article titled, “Corruption of Climate Science has created 30 lost years”. The supposed offending lines have been deleted in the following version. http://drtimball.com/2011/corruption-of-climate-science-has-created-30-lost-years/

    The article by Curry et al speaks directly to my claim and concern. There is nothing new about the finding in their paper. As early as 1817 the pattern of shifting arctic ice due to changes in circulation were recorded in a letter from the President of the Royal Society to the British Admiralty notes, “It will without doubt have come to your Lordship’s knowledge that a considerable change of climate inexplicable at present to us must have taken place in the Circumpolar Regions, by which the severity of the cold that has for centuries past enclosed the seas in the high northern latitudes in an impenetrable barrier of ice has been during the last two years greatly abated… This, with information of a similar nature derived from other sources; the unusual abundance of ice islands that have during the last two summers been brought by currents from Davies Streights into the Atlantic.” The cause was changes in the circumpolar vortex triggered by eruption of Tambora in 1815 and the subsequent “Year without a Summer.” However, as we examined and wrote about in the symposium on the impact of that event available here: http://books.google.ca/books/about/The_Year_without_a_summer.html?id=0SZRAAAAMAAJ&redir_esc=y

    The concept of planetary waves called Rossby Waves has been in the literature since their identification in 1939. Hubert Lamb’s work developed data and map reconstructions of their impact on cyclone creation and patterns in the middle latitudes, especially in his classic 1977 volume; Climate Present, Past and Future, particularly pages 440 to 549.

    I have written several articles in the recent past explaining the changing pattern of the Rossby Waves and their influence on midlatitude weather. I even proposed a possible mechanism to explain the changes from Zonal Flow to Meridional Flow;
    http://drtimball.com/2012/what-causes-el-nino-la-nina-ipcc-doesnt-know-but-builds-models-and-makes-projections-anyway/
    Historic correlations show increased Meridional flow as the Circumpolar Vortex expands with a cooling trend. Often the Wave amplitude increases and “blocking” occurs creating prolonged patterns of weather that are problematic for flora, fauna and humans.

    When are we going to get rid of the IPCC and its stultifying restrictions on climate research? Sadly it has spawned a whole new group of “skeptics” or appeasers who deal with every new alarmism without putting it in the context of known climatology. Very few people know much about climatology. Specialists in certain areas attach themselves to individual events or phenomena and claim to have made great new discoveries.

    As a matter of empirical interest I have been advising farmers for forty years of the pattern of Rossby Waves and their normal migration creating weather patterns that change on a 4 to 6 week basis. Under increased Meridional patterns this becomes an 8 to 10 week change with worryingly long and damaging wet and dry or cold and warm periods.

    One thing the 1816 study showed was that not every region had year with “no summer”. See my two articles on this in the Symposium publication and in the world map reproduced in a workshop to indicate the patterns of extreme weather. The IPCC focussed on a very narrow issue, CO2, and through national weather agencies directed research funding to one side of climate science.

    People publishing papers on climate in future can save a lot of time by making themselves fully familiar with the literature; unlike the IPCC. I have tried to help but all it does is bring lawsuits – maybe they explain the contradiction between being accused of lack of qualifications, misinformed and not being a “working climatologist” and yet such a threat.

  17. RobertInAz says:

    My thought had always been that less sea ice means more heat escape in the Winter. An negative feedback.

  18. Urederra says:

    And why Europe did not have a cold 2007-08 winter after the “all time record Artic ice melt” during the summer of 2007?

  19. P. Solar says:

    Increased areas of exposed water, more solar absorbed, more evaporation.
    => more latent and sensible heat transferred to lower troposphere, hence to space; more cloud, more reflected sunlight, more precipitation as snow.

    More snow , more ice, reduced surface absorption.

    Sounds like a pretty clear negative feedback reaction.

    Whatever you want to attribute the initial rise to, CO2 cosmic rays or Chinese soot, That seems like a clear demonstration that water cycle provides as strong negative feedback not the positive one assumed by IPCC modellers.

  20. Gary Pearse says:

    At least recent papers, although desperately trying to recover from the funk of the stalled warming, are not mentioning carbon dioxide any more. I guess old CO2 has let them down over the past 15 years. My tried and tested formula for understanding recent weather is to look back 50-60 years.

  21. RACookPE1978 says:

    “Summer” arctic sea ice minimums occur in mid-September, right at the equinox, at what is now just a little over 4 x 10^6 km^2. At that time, the highest solar incidence angle (at noon each day) is only 10 degrees above the horizon. Less than 20% of the inbound solar energy can be absorbed – even on clear days! – by direct sunlight, and what can get through the clouds as diffuse radiation is reflected first by those same clouds. (If you have a clear day with no clouds, you have very little wind and now waves, and so what little radiation gets through the air is reflected by the water’s surface. If you have a cloudy day and thus diffuse radiation – which does get absorbed by water’s “dark” surface – is present, then those same clouds reflect the sun’s energy before it can get down to the surface. CAGW faces a lose-lose situation in the high Arctic at the equinoxes!

    Actual air masses vary during the day at 80 north as the sun moves across the southern skies, but vary between 3.5 and 11 air masses. As at sunset even in the tropics, so little sun light gets through this much thicker atmosphere at 80 north in mid-Sept that you can look directly at the sun at almost all hours of the day with little effect. Obviously, myths of 24 hour daylight are wrong: at the time when Arctic ice is at a minimum, there is (at most) only 12 hours when the sun is even above the horizon, and only 2-4 hours each day when it is higher than 6 degrees above the horizon.

    This 4 million km2 minimum sea ice extent corresponds to a “circle” or polar ice cap centered at the north pole and extending down only as far south as latitude 79.6 north. (The actual cap at minimum extents is very slightly offset towards Nome and the Bering Strait, and a very little bit of mid-summer ice ioccurs east of Greenland, but this is an excellent approximation.)

    All other northern sea ice has already disappeared in today’s world. Therefore, any climatic changes due to polar ice extent changes have already happened. That is, if Arctic evaporation increases with increased sea ice loss, then – south of latitude 80 north – there has been NO change in sea ice extents and thus no change in evaporation amounts since the last Ice Age when sea levels were 300 feet lower and glaciers covered Chicago and Lake Michigan.

    What changes have taken place since sea ice extents began being measured in the mid-70′s is a drop from (perhaps) 5.0 million km2 to 4.5 km^2 in the latitudes of 78 north to 79 north. If the writers can explain how snow levels have increased worldwide ( or at least at a substantial number of longitude arcs east and west of 0.0 through 45 west?) at latitudes from 57 north through 80 north based on increased evaporation and global wind changes (?) at 78 north, then they may be on to something.

    A “change in the polar ice cap” that explains ANY other event of ANY other magnitude must begin by explaining what changes to today’s (1970 through 2010) ice coverages happen at that latitude – NOT at Greenland’s latitude 20 degrees further south!). Further, any such change due to polar ice loss MUST include increased evaporation heat loss and absorptive radiative physics of what little sunlight gets through the increased atmospheric mass at 80+ north, and what is not reflected of off low incident clouds.)

    Note that the DMI HAS measured Arctic temperatures since 1958. And, since 1958, as sea ice extents have declined, actual measured Arctic temperatures DURING THE ONLY SEASON WHEN THE SUN IS SHINING – and therefore during the only period when sunlight can be absorbed by the newly exposed water – have declined. Not a lot, but they have actually declined. (Hansen’s well-trained NASA-GI$$ Arctic temperature reconstructions get around this inconvenient fact by extrapolating mid-tundra Canadian Arctic temperatures north as much as 1200 km across the arctic ocean, and then further hide the summer temperature decline by only using the yearly-smoothed averaged value. Mid-winter arctic temperatures – which may have increased – are irrelevant to mid-summer albedo feedbacks above 80 north. )

    Note separately that the CAGW mytheme of catastrophic sea ice melting feedback requires an assumption that one-summer’s ice extent means more (or less) sea ice extent happens the next summer. But, since 2007, that myth is exploded: sea ice minimums one summer do NOT extrapolate across the winter to the next summer. There is NO feedback, each season -whether increasing or decreasing – stands on its own. Note also however that for 30+ years sea ice minimum extents have decreased: But that decrease has continued at the same steady rate DESPITE a constant global temperature for the past 15 years, and was steadily decreasing during a 25year increase in global temperatures. Therefore, minimum Arctic sea ice extents are CANNOT (yet) be used as a demonstration or proof of ANY assumed global temperature change.

    However, in part, we have demonstrated with the actual numbers using the DMI data that Dr Curry’s hypothesis “may” be right: decreased late-summer Arctic sea ice minimums increase arctic water exposure in mid-September. This in turn increases evaporation heat losses while mid-September arctic sunlight (at 80 north) is too little and too low and passing through through too much air mass to increase heat absorption. Thus, Arctic air temperatures have decreased during the same period.

    But snow levels in regions as much as 20 degrees further south across Europe and mid-Greenland? Not demonstrated. Yet.

  22. MAVukcevic says:

    Anthony’s intro:
    …so while on one hand Arctic sea ice decline is said to be a climatic scale event (which I and others believe is driven by Asian industrialization soot and wind patterns rather than temperature)

    Josh says: February 28, 2012 at 7:30 am
    How’s that for negative feedback then ;-)

    My research agrees with the above
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/EAA.htm
    no support by NASA though, so don’t expect the too much in a way of explanation.

  23. Rhys Jaggar says:

    Being a UK resident of 47 years, I can tell you that the following winters were cold and/or snowy in UK/Europe:

    1. 1947.
    2. 1962/3.
    3. 1979.
    4. 1981/2.
    5. 1984/5.
    6. 1985/6.
    7. 1986/7.

    Evidence:
    1. December 1981 saw 1ft of snow in the Thames valley before Christmas and UK record low temperatures. Snow arrived in the valleys of Austria in the last week of October and didn’t leave until late April – 8 weeks odd more than average.
    2. 1984/5 Christmas/New Year was so cold in the Alps that as soon as the sun went down, the ski slopes emptied like that. It’s the only time in 30 years of ski-ing that I wanted TWO vin chauds to warm up coming off the slopes. Our fuel in the coach home solidified outside Grenoble and we had to cut the tank to inject anti-freeze. I’ve never seen that happen before or since. We returned to find snow on the roads in the UK.
    3. 1985/6 I was at Uni in Cambridge and the Cam river froze for 6 weeks between January and late February.
    4. 1986/7 saw blizzards in Glasgow for 1 week solid in the first week of January. We broke open the river at 200m above sea-level with ice axes to get water to boil for tea on a mountaineering trip.

    I have no idea what the state of arctic ice was at those times………..but it’s surely a piece of research that any competent researcher could do in one week – get the temperature data for the past 50 years, then get the arctic sea ice data for similar periods.

  24. Matthew W. says:

    Dave in Canmore says:
    February 28, 2012 at 8:10 am
    “We think the recent snowy winters could be caused by the retreating Arctic ice”
    Providing a mechanism
    ==========================
    They did provide the “mechanism”
    “we think”

    Goes right along with their hubris.

  25. marchesarosa says:

    Isn’t this similar to Herman Alexander Pope’s hypothesis of negative feedback equilibrium covered on Judith Curry’s blog here?

    http://judithcurry.com/2011/11/18/ipcc-special-report-on-extreme-events/#comment-140275

  26. pat says:

    I reserve opinion on this. But note that of the USA winter weather patterns, only two would accommodate the hypothesis, and those are the more uncommon.
    http://fox12weather.wordpress.com/winter-patterns/#
    Note that when you use this feature, to escape the blowup, there is an “esc” button in upper right hand corner.

  27. DesertYote says:

    Beringia was woodland forest and grassland/steep during that last glaciation. Just something to ponder. OTH, stating that Increasing arctic ice could cause warmer NH winters, would be just as relevant as the spin-full headline.

  28. matthew says:

    What is quite refreshing from the press release, is there is no reference to “climate”. From this press release, it seems clear that the research is focused on the level of arctic ice in the autumn, and what the weather patterns are like in the Northern Hemisphere during the following winter. While some might spin it, Georgia Tech doesn’t seem to do that.

  29. 1DandyTroll says:

    Apparently the arctic didn’t retreat enough this time around since Scandinavia hardly got any snow at all, nor was it especially cold for too long. Too bad it doesn’t seem to fit the snowiest and coldest winters neither, so maybe they ought not include all of europe.

  30. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    …and found that a decrease in autumn Arctic sea ice of 1 million square kilometers — the size of the surface area of Egypt…

    Because merely saying “as big as Egypt” isn’t scientifically precise enough. Of course “surface area” would include the proper adding up of all the sides of all those Egyptian mountains and valleys, etc, which may actually be too large. From here comes the “flat” measurement with some common reference units:

    Covering 1,001,449 km2, Egypt has a land area about the same as that of Texas and New Mexico combined, four times bigger than that of the United Kingdom, and twice as big as that of France.

    Sadly they neglected to include the conversions to American football fields and Olympic-sized swimming pools, although the latter more often refers to a unit of volume.

    Wow, a million square kilometers. That’s impressive. That’s almost the size of Gleick’s, Black’s, and Connolley’s egos combined.

  31. LucVC says:

    Climate science has turned into peer reviewed comedy. It no longer scares their public but it scares the hell out of stand up comedians.

  32. FerdinandAkin says:

    I am going to plagiarize a post from someone else on this blog a few months ago.

    If we use this theory as a thought experiment and carry it out to its furthest point –
    Global warming induced by Carbon Dioxide will warm the Arctic Ocean until it becomes a bubbling cauldron surrounded by a doughnut of snow.

  33. Sparks says:

    A massive cooling took place during northern hemispheric winters over the past 5 years, this coincided with a solar cycle which Sun Spot Numbers fell to zero for any length of time since approximately 1934, there were 5 previous solar cycles which Sun Spot Numbers fell to zero for any length of time since 1866 resulting in over all cooler winters, compare this to the cycles from 1954 to 2012 when there have been just one solar cycle which Sun Spot Numbers fell to zero for any length of time and that was in 2008, the physical solar effects indicated by a cycle of sun spot number is more plausible for any warming/cooling of northern hemispheric winters, snowier NH winters apparently still coincide Colder NH winters.

    Anthropogenic Global warming => Sea ice decline => snowier NH winters

  34. John from CA says:

    The history of British winters
    http://www.netweather.tv/index.cgi?action=winter-history;sess=

    As a whole, the mid 1800s [were] very snowy (the little ice age ending), but the nearer the end of the century came, the smaller the snowfalls grew, until the early 1900s, they were little or average, emulating the 90′s. It looks as though the ends and beginnings of centuries record little snow, whereas the middle two quarters receive lots. The pattern continues. 1909-15 recorded little or average snowfalls, nothing really to write home about, other than a few falls of up to 2.5 ft, but no real consistency in the cold/snowy periods. London came away with practically no snowfall in 1912-13, whereas Northern Britain was quite snowy. This decade was far from good for snow lovers! I bet they started talking of no more snow for the UK again, as we are doing now. Shows how wrong they were…

    The snow drought ended abruptly in 1916, with enormous falls of snow in the mountains, 10ft in the Pennines, Black Mountains, and the High Peak District. Several general falls of snow recorded. A very snowy year.

    1946-47: The year you’ve most probably been waiting for! One of the snowiest winters to date, probably the worst since 1814 (see part 5). Snow fell on the 19th December in Southern England. Then there was a notable mild spell, extremely mild in parts, with 14c being reached by day. Then from the 22nd January, it began! There was continuous snow cover from this date, right up till 17th March! Late January saw 7 inches of snow in South West England and the Scilly Isles (unusual). Early February saw the turn of the Midlands (Southern) and East Anglia, while Northern England, North Wales and Eastern Scotland saw snow in late February. In early March there was a blizzard in England and Wales, with 1ft widely, and 5ft accumulated on the hills! 12th March saw snow for the Border Country. 1946-47 was strange, because it started up late, and lasted a long time. I think 2003-04 will mirror 1947 in lots of ways, mainly in terms of snowfall, but not so extreme and long lasting. Very snowy.

  35. John from CA says:

    GSL — Rutgers University Global Snow Lab
    http://climate.rutgers.edu/snowcover/

    Fall Northern Hemisphere Snow Extent
    http://climate.rutgers.edu/snowcover/chart_seasonal.php?ui_set=nhland&ui_season=4

  36. Rich says:

    From the BBC article
    “The picture is further complicated by the involvement of the Arctic Oscillation, a natural variation of air pressure that also changes northern weather.
    Dr Len Shaffrey, University of Reading: “This is very early days for this research”
    The oscillation is not understood well enough to predict – and even if it were, any pattern it has may be changing due to escalating greenhouse gas concentrations.”

    At last, I now know what it feels to be “gobsmacked”.

  37. suyts says:

    Interesting…. this explains why there’s no amplified response in the last 10 years or so…..
    http://suyts.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/polar-amplification-earths-response-to-sea-ice-albedo-feedback/
    Well, no response at all…. temp wise.

  38. RACookPE1978 says:

    At 23 north (average) Egypt is too far north to compare on Hansen-Mann’s favorite Mercator map projections – which are required to imply that the Arctic Ocean and Greenland’s ice cap are larger than South America and Africa combined!

    Of the equatorial countries, Tanzania (slightly smaller at roughly 800,000 km2) or Angola (slightly larger at 1246700 km2) gives a better contrast. Northern Territory (Australia) is also slightly larger at 1,200,000 km2 at about 15 south. Maybe we should “average” Egypt and South Australia: also at 1,000,000 km2 but balancing Egypt at 23 south.

  39. John from CA says:

    After looking at Rutgers Snowfall trend analysis, which you can see by clicking the posted link, and as a fan of the whole Sea Ice saga for several years, a number of issues jump to mind if Sea Ice in the Arctic is being used as the smoking gun.

    The snow fall trends show a fairly flat Fall trend, Winter increase in the US, and an overall Spring decline long before the Sea Ice record began. So it seems logical to conclude that the average used for Sea Ice extent and its implied implication on climate is “fubar”.

    Personal opinion from the John Q. Public POV and possibly incorrect.

  40. Gil Dewart says:

    Note some more of the attendant feedback effects: open water means more CO2 absorption; more snow on existing sea ice means higher albedo; more snow on in-feeding river basins means fresher surface water and higher freezing temperatures; increased convection over open water and possibly more surface snow being blown back into it; etc.

  41. MAVukcevic says:

    There are some odd things about the Atlantic; while the North is well organised the South is a mess:
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/AOT.htm
    (one idea: the north has a strong earth’s magnetic field holding under control currents, while in the south the field is the weakest anywhere on the globe (the SA anomaly), so the currents are less regulated)
    The Equator-Arctic has a strong mutual coupling, while there is none in for the Equator-Antarctica.
    Could be a coincidence that up to 1980 Arctic was ‘inversely’ retracing its own steps from 62 years earlier?
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/EAA.htm
    but even stranger coincidence (if it is that) so it does the Equator (following the Arctic from 62 years earlier), except when the Arctic broke off in 1980 (possibly due to volcanic ash) the Equator carried on for the full stretch to the present time.
    Could this be the Scafetta’s 60 year cycle?
    60 years is far too long for a negative feedback, but the oceanic tide 60 year half-cycle is feasible.
    Until these events are clearly understood, the climate scientists don’t stand a chance to separate natural cycles from other climatic drivers, whatever they may be.

  42. Matt G says:

    Technically an ice free Arctic could cause an ice age giving the precipition needed to build glaciers around dry regions of the Arctic and sub-Arctic. At the same time more energy from the ocean is lost to space forever, increasing the risk of the globe cooling. But this only applies in the reasoning that the initial warm period would cause snowier winters later in the NH. While there are snowier winters from this, the world itself can’t continue to warm, the likely senario would be future cooling, that may not never recover from. (human life time, hundreds of years or even a major ice age depending where in the sun’s cycle) This is not alarmist because it is only the real mechanism that can describe how ice ages start. Not suprsing then that many peak warm periods (warmer than today) rapidly descend into a major ice age.

    Whether less ice causes colder and snowier winters for the NH is not supported by the data since satellites began. There have been far more winters that have been mild during low period of sea ice than cold ones. While the Arctic ice was at high levels there were still very cold and snowy winters and mild winters. The general trend of declining sea ice has been milder winters in the NH, not cold and snowy. The only change over the last few winters that this research has been claiming, is the much longer solar minimum.

  43. Sparks says:

    MAVukcevic says:
    February 28, 2012 at 11:17 am

    “…Until these events are clearly understood, the climate scientists don’t stand a chance to separate natural cycles from other climatic drivers, whatever they may be.”

    Isn’t that the funniest most comical part of warmology studied under the field of climatology by fanatical warmologists! the car get’s invented before the wheel, the cart gets put before the horse and the tail wags the dog etc…

  44. Bart says:

    Very interesting comments, especially from Tim Ball and RACookPE1978. First I have read of Rossby waves.

    Dr. Ball: given the apparent ~60 year cyclic component in the global average temperature metric, would you suspect the source of this oscillation could be a Rossby wave?

  45. John from CA says:

    MAVukcevic says:
    February 28, 2012 at 11:17 am
    ==========
    The cycles emerged from numerous studies on behalf of pragmatic concerns. The pragmatic concern was where to find fish (flavor and species of choice). The oceans apparently modulate the climate in a variety of ways.

    From nearly every country that borders the seas and oceans, we have numerous studies related to the natural climate patterns and the influence on the species of choice.

    My hands down favorite is from Russia but the US and Australia all confirm the same cycles in differing geographic ways.

    Did the IPCC mess-up the feedbacks or are they guilty of a lack of insight related to natural forces and the cycles?

    Is a study related to one small aspect of the climate system guilty of the same?

  46. It’s warmer than we thought in the Arctic. GHCN’s adjustments for Iceland and Greenland also extend to Norway and Russia.

    http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/iceland-adjustments-spread-to-norway-and-russia/#more-876

  47. Bart says:

    Bart says:
    February 28, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    “Dr. Ball: given the apparent ~60 year cyclic component in the global average temperature metric, would you suspect the source of this oscillation could be a Rossby wave?”

    Perhaps as in slide #18 here.

  48. RockyRoad says:

    EVERYTHING is consistent with “Global Warming” (meaning the earth’s recovery from the Little Ice Age, which seems to be continuing in fits and spurts): My garden’s success, the snowpack in the mountains, the amount of rainfall from a summer thunder storm–all these and everything else is a manifestation of the weather (integrated over a designated time span = “climate”). The only way to get paid for something so mundane is to ascribe CAGW characteristics to it, which contributes to our declining economy on a global basis. But hey, “climate scientists” need a job, don’t they?

  49. Bart says:

    Bart says:
    February 28, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Just a perhaps interesting observation: the ~60 year temperature cycle waveform bears a strong resemblance to single sided limit cycles such as are established for East-West stationkeeping of geosynchronous satellites (Figure 3b inverted).

    Perhaps there is a phenomenon whereby the Rossby wave propagates with westward group velocity, then rebounds upon landfall with eastward momentum, which gradually reverses back westward until it meets landfall again in an endlessly repeating cycle?

  50. Geoff Sharp says:

    Diminishing Arctic sea ice can cause changes in atmospheric circulation that lead to a circulation pattern that is different than the “negative phase” of the Arctic Oscillation.

    The jet stream changes over the past few years are evidence of this as the AO/AAO patterns now seem to be only affecting the position of the undulation and not the undulation itself. The authors need to look at solar atmospheric effects along with observing the southern jet stream which cannot be affected by their theory as the south is gaining in ice extent.

  51. Latitude says:

    First there would have to be more open water….
    …and there’s not

    http://www.real-science.com/worse-thought-2

  52. pat says:

    speaking of “wind”…

    28 Feb: Bishop Hill: In The News
    The Guardian reports on the vast risk-free profits made by wealthy titled landowners as a result of the windfarm revolution that the Guardian itself has done so much to bring about through its incessant harping on about the dangers of climate change….

    Mike Post comments:

    - According to the Guardian story, there are currently 4.5 GW of wind power installed in the UK. From the screenshot that I took of the neta website at 12.55 on the freezing cold 6 February 2012, wind power over the UK had provided a mere 45 MW over the half hour from 12.00 to 12.30. This electricity, produced by ALL the wind generators in the UK was sufficient to power just 15,000 3KW kettles. It was just 1% of the reported total UK installed wind capacity and 0.1% of the country’s requirement!
    \”Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad\”
    It is also noteworthy that the environmental editor makes the fundamental error of confusing power with energy -

    Mike Post comments again:

    - It is actually worse than I thought! The Guardian’s figure of 4.5 gigawatts of installed wind power capacity did not include off-shore. The total capacity including off-shore (according to Wikipedia) is 5.9 gigawatts. So at midday on 6 February the UK’s wind power stations were producing 0.763% of total installed wind capacity. -
    http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2012/2/28/in-the-news-today.html

  53. suyts says:

    Latitude says:
    February 28, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    First there would have to be more open water….
    …and there’s not
    http://www.real-science.com/worse-thought-2
    =============================================
    Exactly…. the decrease of NH sea ice isn’t as prominent during the winter months. So, are they positing that low September ice causes Dec and January snow? What happened in 06? Or what happened in 84….. and how come with a few outliers there isn’t really much of a discernible trend for the snow cover from Sep-Apr for 30 years?

    I hope those guys did that free gratis…….

  54. Philip Bradley says:

    (which I and others believe is driven by Asian industrialization soot and wind patterns rather than temperature),

    I have a different theory.

    Aerosols (more precisely particulates such as black carbon) are deposited on the ice surface and change the albedo. When snow/ice is accumulating their effect is short lived because they are covered by the new snow/ice, but when there is net melting they accumulate on the surface, resulting in a much larger albedo change effect and accelerated ice melt.

    Here is what I think happened in the Arctic.

    Over many decades prior to the 1970s particulates from northern hemisphere primarily coal burning accumulated in multi-year sea ice.

    From the 1970s particulates progressively reduced, a process that sharply accelerated with the fall of the Soviet Union.

    This resulted in less ‘near horizon’ particulate haze and aerosol seeded clouds. In the Arctic summer the sun is near the horizon almost all the time and the reduced particulates would result in a marked increase in solar insolation (sunlight reaching the ground).

    This increased solar insolation starts net ice melting (on an annual basis), which starts to bring the decades of particulates accumulated in the ice to the surface, reducing the albedo and accelerating the melt. A positive feedback that continues until the ice melts completely over several years. Obviously ice will be of different thickness, with different amounts of particulates and in different locations, so it doesn’t all melt at the same rate.

    This theory predicts that once all the old ice melts we should start to see net ice accumulation, which has yet to occur to any significant degree. Although there are indications it has started.

  55. Auto says:

    =========================
    MAVukcevic says:

    February 28, 2012 at 11:17 am

    There are some odd things about the Atlantic; while the North is well organised the South is a mess:
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/AOT.htm
    (one idea: the north has a strong earth’s magnetic field holding under control currents, while in the south the field is the weakest anywhere on the globe (the SA anomaly), so the currents are less regulated)
    The Equator-Arctic has a strong mutual coupling, while there is none in for the Equator-Antarctica.
    Could be a coincidence that up to 1980 Arctic was ‘inversely’ retracing its own steps from 62 years earlier?
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/EAA.htm
    but even stranger coincidence (if it is that) so it does the Equator (following the Arctic from 62 years earlier), except when the Arctic broke off in 1980 (possibly due to volcanic ash) the Equator carried on for the full stretch to the present time.
    Could this be the Scafetta’s 60 year cycle?
    60 years is far too long for a negative feedback, but the oceanic tide 60 year half-cycle is feasible.
    Until these events are clearly understood, the climate scientists don’t stand a chance to separate natural cycles from other climatic drivers, whatever they may be.
    ===================================

    A few of your commentators got in before me – but I would like to highlight – by repetition – the last paragraph of that quote: -

    ————
    Until these events are clearly understood, the climate scientists don’t stand a chance to separate natural cycles from other climatic drivers, whatever they may be.

    ————

    In the UK, we have perhaps 150 years of (reasonably) accurate weather records, and another century or more of tolerably accurate qualitative records.
    IMHO, that is simply not enough to be dogmatic about multi-century cycles [if such do exist, of course!].
    We have some causes. We have some effects. Do we have all of either. I seriously, severely, doubt that.
    And do we understand all – that is ALL – the interlinkages and correlations?
    ALL of them?
    I suggest not.
    But you may disagree. . . .

  56. jack morrow says:

    They have to show something for all their salaries and grants.

  57. Birdieshooter says:

    And if the snow cover continues to be below normal like it seems to be in the Midwest this year, what are we to make of that?

  58. Micky H Corbett says:

    Anthony, I do remember you had a post up about a possible link between the Sun, I believe the stratosphere and milder winters. It was one of those posts I read around late summer thinking that’s a novel idea. There may have been an oscillation in there as well.
    Goes to show you how much I remember.
    But anyway I think the prediction was that this year the winter would be milder for the NH?

  59. MAVukcevic says:

    Auto says:
    …………….
    The ‘Equator-Arctic delayed negative coupling’ is more complex than just a cycle.
    For clarity I have added second graph in the
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/EAA.htm
    As you can clearly see, the Equator anomaly values (1955 – 2011) are retracing (as close as it can be expected over such long period of time) the inverted Arctic anomaly of precisely 62 years earlier. I have no idea how that could happen unless there is tidal cycle.

  60. H.R. says:

    RockyRoad says:
    February 28, 2012 at 12:56 pm
    EVERYTHING is consistent with “Global Warming” (meaning the earth’s recovery from the Little Ice Age, which seems to be continuing in fits and spurts): My garden’s success, the snowpack in the mountains, the amount of rainfall from a summer thunder storm–all these and everything else is a manifestation of the weather (integrated over a designated time span = “climate”). The only way to get paid for something so mundane is to ascribe CAGW characteristics to it, which contributes to our declining economy on a global basis. But hey, “climate scientists” need a job, don’t they? (emphasis, mine)
    ===================================================================
    Rocky, I’m thinking taxpayers might be better off if they got paid to break shop windows. It’s still a waste of money but at least we’d have lots of shiny new windows, eh?

  61. majormike1 says:

    Intrusion of tepid Atlantic water into the Arctic probably precipitates each ice age by reducing sea ice, thereby providing increased humidity to prevailing winds to deposit vast snowfalls on North America. Leading climate scientists in the 1950′s held this view. Go to my blog for details:
    http://strongasanoxandnearlyassmart.blogspot.com/2011/07/scientists-predict-another-ice-age-is.html

    The study cited in my blog is by Drs. Maurice Ewing and William L. Donn. Dr. Ewing was as one of America’s leading oceanographers and geophysicists, its top authority on the world beneath the sea. He was President of the American Geophysical Union and director of Columbia University’s Lamont Geological Observatory, he had personally designed much of the equipment then used in underseas exploration.

    His colleague, Dr. Donn, was Associate Professor of Geology, Brooklyn College, and Chief Scientist, U.S. Atlantic Island Observatories Program for the Inter- national Geophysical Year.

  62. AndiC says:

    Whilst I sympathise with those in the scientific community wanting to explain the recent cold spells that saw chaos in the NH (eg Heathrow fiasco, no grit for roads etc), it fails to explain everything.

    I have lived in Wellington New Zealand for nearly quarter of a century, and last winter (August time) saw only the second time I have ever seen snow down to sea-level, but not just snow to sea-level – this lot stayed on the ground and broke records throughout New Zealand – even Auckland saw snow

    So, OK, northern jet-stream strays – but what of SH?

    I am waiting to see if Wellington gets record snows again this coming winter (NH summer)

    Andy

  63. JRR Canada says:

    I ‘ve got to go with the rise in pirates causing global warming, Hat tip to original commentor. For sure this warm/cold conjecture has best headline ever. Whats next? Lying creates trust?Honesty is found in deliberate deceptions?I keep thinking these sellers of climatic certitude should never point a shotgun near their feet..

  64. Anything is possible says:

    majormike1 says:
    February 28, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    That’s what I call negative feedback!

    Well worth a read. Thanks.

  65. Zeke says:

    “During the winters of 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, the Northern Hemisphere measured its second and third largest snow cover levels on record.”

    On record? Would thumbing through a European history book be too much trouble? Has the taxpayer really been forced to fund these wild fairy stories picked out of the blue. They can come back when they have attempted to demonstrate with physical evidence and hindcast in their computer models how the Arctic Ice melting caused the Thames to freeze over for months, or caused Napoleon’s or Germany’s invading armies to freeze.

    “The study’s findings could be used to improve seasonal forecasting of snow and temperature anomalies across northern continents.”

    Adding insult to injury as over 500 Europeans freeze to death, the study is now “useful” for seasonal forecasting of snow “anomalies” and temperature “anomalies.” What Europeans need are coal plants to keep people alive in the record freezing weather, and during heat waves. But offering to predict more “anomalies” is the ploy of disgusting con artists who are convincing Europeans that they need to change the weather, rather than simply power their homes with legitimate uninterupted power sources.

  66. Retired Engineer John says:

    It would appear that whatever mechanism that brought warm air to the arctic and melted the ice is now bringing moist air to the Northern parts of the globe. The sun is not a factor since it is Arctic night. The view to space is now refreezing the ice with the rate dependent on humidity and cloud cover. Normally the humidity is very low in the polar regions and the heat loss is high. As quickly as the ice froze solid the mechanism described was no longer active. I would think that only early snowfalls would be candidates.

  67. Doug Proctor says:

    Anthony -

    You say that you believe Asian industrialization soot is a component of Arctic sea-ice decline. What proportion and what sort of radiative equivalent power do you give to the soot?

    Soot on new ice disappears with each melt but accumulates on multi-year ice. I’ve seen the effect of minor dirt on glaciers and winter snow in the Rockies, so I know the effect is real. I am more than surprised that the Asian soot would have much of an effect, however. If so, simple ice-cores of still existing multi-year ice would settle the matter. Do these exist with the data to show the effect is real, or is it in modelling that the effect is significant?

    I’m afflicted with the Nullius In Verba problem.

  68. Paul Vaughan says:

    Snow Depth Climatology Animation:
    http://i39.tinypic.com/2yywnlh.png

  69. Jantar says:

    Without having yet read all the comments, it appears to me that many people on here who like to call themselves scientists haven’t correctly read what Judith Curry actually said.

    “Our study demonstrates that the decrease in Arctic sea ice area is linked to changes in the winter Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation,” said Judith Curry, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech. “The circulation changes result in more frequent episodes of atmospheric blocking patterns, which lead to increased cold surges and snow over large parts of the northern continents.”

    Note that the effects of “decrease in Arctic sea ice area” and “changes in the winter Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation” are linked. She has not suggested that one causes the other. Now go to the sea ice page availble on the site and look at the ice circulation. It is obvious that the changed circulation pattern is associated with less ice in northern europe and more ice in the Bearing sea.

    I haven’t seen any claim in that paper that less ice is due to global warming or to anthropogenic causes.

  70. So the larger sea ice amount of the 1970′s caused the the big winters of the 1970′s? That would be the opposite of the conclusion of this study, wouldn’t it? Those folk at the Georgia Institute of Technology shoulda thunka that. But then if they had brought that up they might have thrown a wrench into the NASA money they got.

  71. Philip Bradley says:

    Global warming causing cooling isn’t as nonsensical as it sounds.

    It’s possible that under certain circumstances negative feedbacks could exceed the original forcing. Resulting in a period of cooing following a period of warming.

    Warming causes Arctic ice melt, causing increased evaporation from the Arctic ocean, which causes more cloud and snowfall at lower latitudes like Europe. The clouds and snow result in increased albedo and cooling. This effect could extent over several years, or perhaps much longer. In effect, a period of warming triggers a cooling period.

    Note, as I explained earlier I think Arctic ice melt results primarily from decreased aerosols/articulates and not warming. But the above mechanism would work irrespective of the cause of ice melt.

  72. ironargonaut says:

    if true, presumably one could work the conclusion backwards. Snowy winters in the NH are an indicator of artic sea ice extent. Therfore, if we want to know if artic melting before 1979 was equal to or less then current melting all we need to do is find a snowier winter.

    Perhaps this will “prove” that current melting is not unprecedented. Try this line on the authors and see if they backtrack from there conclusion.

  73. Brian H says:

    marchesarosa says:
    February 28, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Isn’t this similar to Herman Alexander Pope’s hypothesis of negative feedback equilibrium covered on Judith Curry’s blog here?

    http://judithcurry.com/2011/11/18/ipcc-special-report-on-extreme-events/#comment-140275

    Pope suggests that the sensitive reactions of the climate to Arctic Ice coverage is a negative feedback system (a “governor”?) responsible for the unusual duration of the rather benign interglacial we are experiencing, and suggests that it is likely to keep us in that narrow band for the foreseeable future.

  74. Philip Bradley

    Your idea was thought of after the fact. The ‘travesty’ lost warming is inspiring all kinds of new “global warming” hypothesēs that were not part of the original global warming hypothesis. In other words, your ‘science’ is awful.

    Cooling is the new warming, as they say.

  75. majormike1 says:

    Earlier I commented:

    “Intrusion of tepid Atlantic water into the Arctic probably precipitates each ice age by reducing sea ice, thereby providing increased humidity to prevailing winds to deposit vast snowfalls on North America. Leading climate scientists in the 1950′s held this view. Go to my blog for details:
    http://strongasanoxandnearlyassmart.blogspot.com/2011/07/scientists-predict-another-ice-age-is.html

    As the ice cap increased, the sea level fell about 120 meters until the relatively shallow Arctic Ocean blocked the intrusion of the tepid Atlantic currents, and the ice age ended. Rapid warming ensued, sea levels rose, and the stage was set for the onset of the next ice age.

    It’s nice to have a theory that doesn’t present one set of conditions in the 2000′s, and an opposite set in the 1970′s.

  76. Peter Plail says:

    I thought the minimum point for sea ice occurred in 2007 and since then, by definition, it hasn’t declined. This would seem to immediately invalidate their theory about the period 2009 to 2011.

  77. Michael T in Craster , UK says:

    Ahh – now this was Black’s cause of jetstream shift and colder winters back in October last year……strange innit?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15199065

  78. John Marshall says:

    This winter in the UK has been mild, apart from a couple of cold weeks with a -18C record low. Black’s writeup makes no mention of the record cold and snow in central/eastern Europe.

  79. Peter Stroud says:

    At least they didn’t blame the reduced Arctic ice for the cold and wet Australian Summer. Give them time.

  80. Philip Bradley says:

    Amino Acids in Meteorites says:
    February 28, 2012 at 11:15 pm
    Philip Bradley

    Your idea was thought of after the fact.

    I don’t know why when I propose plausible physical mechanisms for observations, I get labelled as a ‘Warmist’.

    I actually think that perhaps half of the warming since the 1970s is is due to reduced aerosols with some contribution from GCRs.

  81. JohnH says:

    The logic of these colder winters fails when you read the statement

    ‘ The researchers also found that the extra evaporation from the Arctic Ocean makes the air more humid, with some of the additional water content falling out as snow.’

    and then look at the UK rainfall records for the recent cold periods, they show low rainfall, a few inches of snow melts to relativily nothing in rainfall terms.

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/2010/december.html

    It was exceptionally cold across the UK, with mean temperatures some 5 °C below the 1971-2000 average, and the coldest December in over 100 years.

    December was, however, generally drier and sunnier than normal. Less than a third of the average rainfall was recorded over most of Wales, western England and western Scotland.

  82. Ian W says:

    An example of the logic of what had been a good university:

    When the refrigerator light goes out – the refrigerator is colder. Therefore the refrigerator light should be disabled to keep the refrigerator colder.

    Refrigerator door?? what’s the door got to do with it?

    When the arctic ice extent is low – it is probable that the winds of the polar vortex and stratospheric warming events made it so. When the winds are of the type that leads to low ice extent and when there is a sudden stratospheric warming then there is more snow in Northern temperate latitudes.

    Its the old common causation trap yet again.

  83. ImranCan says:

    I mean, even if you buy into the theory and accept there is an effect, the “ice loss” is an area around the circumference …. and not that much … we are talking about the difference between 2004,5,6 and then 2007,8,9 etc. Can this small difference really be having the driver effect on winter climate in the NH ???

  84. Pamela Gray says:

    All that is needed is one stretch of data when low ice did not result in more snow. Judith makes the same mistake that sun worshippers do. They will not seek out, in all seriousness, even one incident when their pet correlation falls apart and the hypothesis fails, and if they do, they generally shy away from putting that finding in their conclusion. Judith, I am disappointed that you would stretch your case so thin a gnat would break through the gossamer fabric.

  85. Ron Manley says:

    One of the reasons so much attention is paid to Arctic sea ice is the albedo effect. Ice reflects a lot more radiation than the sea. There is therefore a positive feedback effect – less ice, more heat absorbed, less ice …An interesting side effect of this study, if it is correct, suggests that the loss of reflectance of sea ice is compensated by increased snow cover. After all sea water and the boreal forests, where most snow lies, have a similar albedo. I’ve done a few calculations which show that this effect is however quite limited and that after allowing for sun angle effective area of snow and ice has continued to decline.
    http://www.climatedata.info/Discussions/Discussions/opinions.php

  86. RACookPE1978 says:

    suyts says:
    February 28, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Interesting…. this explains why there’s no amplified response in the last 10 years or so…..
    http://suyts.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/polar-amplification-earths-response-to-sea-ice-albedo-feedback/

    A few things to note about that study of sea ice albedo in Hudson’s Bay. And, by the way, thank you for posting that topic at your site.

    Hudson Bay is a large, roughly circular, enclosed bay whose center is at 60 north latitude. That far “south” its center is at the same latitude as the extreme southern tip of Greenland, well below the Arctic Circle. (Expressed differently, it is as far south as the Arctic Ocean’s mid-September minimum ice extent as Miami is from the frozen rivers and lakes of upstate New York.)

    Hudson Bay is completely ice freeze at minimum sea ice extent in today’s world. It doesn’t matter what the change in albedo of water and ice is at that latitude in that bay at that time of year! All of it has melted each summer, and all will re-freeze the next winter.

    This does not mean the data is wrong, nor the observations incorrect. It does mean that they are irrelevant to today’s Arctic sea ice extents.

    Further, At 60 north latitude, the sun’s angle of incidence is much higher at all times f the year than it is at the edge of the Arctic minimum sea ice extent. The 20 degrees in solar ray angle between Hudson Bay’s 55-65 (average 60) latitude and the Arctic’s 80-90 (average 85) latitude means a lot when water’s albedo is being used to calculate absorption of energy.

    At 30 degrees incidence angle, less than 10 percent of inbound light is reflected. (The remaining 90% is absorbed. Air mass losses of the inbound radiant energy at 60 north are (roughly) only 20% greater than at the equator.
    At 5 degrees incidence angle, less than 5% of the direct radiant heat energy is absorbed, and the remaining 95% is reflected back off of smooth water. Air mass losses of the inbound direct solar rays are between 3 and 11 times what they are at the equator.

    Remember too that radiative heat loss remains the same at both latitudes since the ocean (or ice) radiates heat directly “up” from either surface directly to space. Air mass = 1.0 just like at the equator.

  87. Philip Bradley

    It makes one stand out when they say man is the cause of any change in climate. One should consider first that changes in climate are natural. Why? Because there is scientific evidence that the changes in climate that have happened in the last 32 years are from natural changes, natural cycles, mainly PDO and solar activity. These natural changes have always happened.

    It is peculiar that one would immediately talk about the activities of man being the cause of changes in climate especially since there still is not evidence that man’s activities have the power to do so. Those who immediately bring up man’s activities changing climate do so without scientific proof. They are just using hypothesis. And all of these hypothesis still do not have data backing them. In fact there are peer reviewed works showing these hypothesis have errors.

    So the question is why would one NOT assume you are a global warmist? You have the classic earmarks of one.

  88. don rehberg says:

    I know there has been a lot going on latlely, but why no sea ice updates anymore? And the sea ice page has been left to rot, with most graphs either not working at all or refuse to load. Sea ice got me interested in the whole “warming” thing and I miss the “nail biting” updates!

  89. RACookPE1978 says:

    No sea ice updates lately?

    Well, it “has” been just a “little bit” busy lately. 8<)

    More seriously, with the loss of the scanning satellite last year (October?), the daily updates to the most common extents graph were lost. With that loss, it is a bit more difficult to "generate excitement" and tension over Arctic sea ice minimums – the only thing that the CAGW community is hyper about since that is the only they can claim is actually declining.

    But, to be fair, Arctic sea ice extents are now (mid-late February) nearing the sinusoiad top of their annual peak. That peak is constrained strongly by the small size of the Arctic Ocean: There simply is little additional room doe sea ice to increase since the whole ocean is already frozen out to Greenland, Canada's northern arc of islands, the Northwest Territory and Nunavut arctic shore, Alaska and Siberia. Sure, sea ice can slowly increase down the east coast of Greenland and small regions around Iceland, but that's not very exciting to watch creep up the charts. The Baltic is nearly all covered – it is difficult to greatly increase sea ice area right now. Max extent will be mid-March to early April.

    CAGW extremists are not interest in and don't care about max sea ice extents. They can't use that number for propaganda (just as they can't use the Antarctic's sea ice increases for propaganda). So, it is not a case of "Who cares?" but rather "Few care."

  90. phlogiston says:

    Michael T in Craster , UK says:
    February 29, 2012 at 1:42 am
    Ahh – now this was Black’s cause of jetstream shift and colder winters back in October last year……strange innit?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15199065

    This post-hoc scrabbling for explanations is something the AGW community is going to have to get used to. We are sure to see a lot more such creativity in the months/years ahead.

  91. Paul Vaughan says:

    @MAVukcevic (February 28, 2012 at 11:17 am)

    ACC

  92. MAVukcevic says:

    Paul Vaughan says:
    …….
    Far fetched for the Antarctic Circumpolar Current?

  93. Julienne Stroeve says:

    Another paper that looked at the statistical links between more open water in September and increased snowfall in winter is: Ghatak, D., A. Frei, G. Gong, J. Stroeve, and D. Robinson, 2010. On the emergence of an Arctic amplification signal in terrestrial Arctic snow extent, J. Geophys. Res., 115, D24105, doi:10.1029/2010JD014007. We also recently published a paper looking at the links between sea ice loss and NH precipitation in autumn: Stroeve, J.C., M.C. Serreze and D.N. Kindig, (2011). Attribution of recent changes in autumn cyclone associated precipitation in the Arctic, Tellus, DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0870.2011.00515.x.

    In the latter study we stated that it’s premature to conclude attribution of recent autumn precipitation increases to reduced ice cover, in part because the observational record of anomalously low sea ice conditions is relatively short. However, many modeling studies do find a link between increased autumn/winter snow cover over Siberia as the Arctic Ocean becomes more ice-free in future climate scenarios (see papers by Clara Deser at NCAR for example).

    It’s important to remember that in the last few years, areas of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas that used to be ice-covered by October or November now stay open until early winter. On the Atlantic side of the Arctic, parts of the Barents Sea that formerly had high sea ice concentrations by December are now open throughout the winter. Lack of an insulating sea ice cover in these areas is promoting large energy fluxes from the ocean to the atmosphere during autumn and winter (this is recognized as one of the primary drivers of Arctic amplification – Screen and Simmonds, 2010; Serreze and Barry, 2011).

    There is growing evidence that this surface-based warming, through reducing static stability of the lower troposphere, allowing for high water vapor content and altering horizontal temperature gradients can effect weather conditions both within and beyond the Arctic Ocean [e.g. Budikova, 2009; Francis et al., 2009; Liu et al., 2012; Overland and Wang, 2010; Porter et al., 2012]. The new Curry et al paper is yet another paper showing how sea ice loss can affect weather and precipitation patterns.

  94. RACookPE1978 says:

    Julienne Stroeve says:
    March 1, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Thank you for your interest, your reply here, and your research.

    My question then: At latitudes from 80 north to the pole, during the actual interval of minimum sea ice extents near the autumn equinox, if the net heat loss from any square meter of the Arctic Ocean is greater when the sea ice is missing (when it is melted) than when it is present, then how can the Arctic be assumed to enter any period of “runaway global warming” when (or of) the all of the ice melts?

    Evaporative losses and radiative losses from the open Arctic ocean are greater than heat gain from the sun’s radiation into open water due to the great reflectivity of direct radiation from the sun at September’s low incidence angles. Diffuse radiation will be absorbed by the open ocean, but those same clouds causing the diffuse radiation will reflect much of that inbound radiation first.

    Earlier in the year, and at lower latitudes of the earth, yes, absolutely yes – the sun’ rays do heat open water more than ice-covered water due to water’s low albedo. But, so what?

    That (potential) case of increased radiation absorption in open water does NOT happen in the specific locations where the arctic sea ice actually is right now. And, where the assumed positive feedback could happen, there is no additional ice to melt.

    Therefore, it (any positive feedback from any potential additional sea ice meltdown) cannot happen in today’s world. It is like extremists worrying about vast quantities of fresh cold water being released into the Atlantic Ocean and shutting down or reversing the ocean’s currents. Yes, IF there were mile-thick glaciers covering Chicago and central Canada, then their meltwater could suddenly flow into the Atlantic. But there are no glaciers covering Chicago right now (though some may argue covering Chicago with a mile of ice might be a good idea) and so there can be no potential fresh water meltdown affecting the Atlantic Ocean during any potential continued global warming.

  95. Julienne Stroeve

    When there was a larger ice cover in the Arctic in the 1970′s there were big winters. That would be the opposite of your assertion. The 70′s are famous for big winters—causing “The Coming Ice Age” scare. This hypothesis needs to be more carefully examined, especially since the infamous alarmist name “Surreze” is in them.

    But he’s your boss, isn’t he.

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