Increasing Winter Cold in Recent Years and the Arctic

By Joseph D’Aleo, CCM

A new study led by the Georgia Institute of Technology attempted to support a relationship reported in recent years (Overland) between melting ice in the Arctic regions and widespread cold outbreaks in the Northern Hemisphere.

“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.”

They used the two extreme winters of 2009/10 and 2010/11 across the Northern Hemisphere as evidence to support this relationship. Extreme northern hemisphere winters with frigid cold and deep snows do occur, often in clusters and historically we will show have related to changing large scale circulation patterns. They dominated in the Mini and Little Ice Ages.

Since they have occurred in the past, one has to look at natural factors and natural circulations.

Both winters were characterized by a strong negative North Atlantic and Arctic Oscillations. These ‘wildcards’ are well known by forecasters to override or amplify the patterns associated with factors like ENSO.

Indeed the winter of 2009/10 was a moderately strong El Nino and the winter of 2010/11 a very strong La Nina (by some measures the second strongest in the last century). Yet the patterns associated with the two winters was nearly identical. And very much in line with a negative NAO/AO.

image

In the positive stage of the AO and NAO as we saw this November, December and first part of January, a tight polar vortex leads to westerly winds into North America from the Pacific and from the Atlantic into Europe. Mild conditions prevail as they did (and continue in the US) this year.

The negative NAO/AO on the other hand leads to polar high pressure forcing cold air to mid latitudes. In North America the cold air is forced south.

In Europe, the high latitude “blocking” high pressure allows frigid Siberian air west. Indeed both North America and Europe were hard hit with cold from the blocking in 2009/10 and 2010/11 despite the strong El Nino in one year and La Nina in the second.

image

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The two winters across the hemisphere ranked #2 (2009/10) and #3 among the winters of greatest winter snow extent behind only the legendary 1977/78 and just ahead of 2007/08 and 2002/03. Thus 4 of the top 5 snowiest years on record have occurred in the last decade.

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Even with the lack of snow in the lower 48 states this year, hemispheric snowcover is ABOVE normal again.

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Until the scurrying around to find an excuse for the cold and snow when the forecast was for decreasing cold and snow in middle latitudes as late as 2007, they settled on diminished arctic ice forcing a negative AO/NAO. This was despite the fact that the climate models predicted with warming, an increased AO.

image

SUMMER ARCTIC TEMPERTURES, BLOCKING AND COLD WINTERS

As for the idea that CO2 through arctic ice reduction and a warm arctic was responsible for the blocking, we looked at the standardized NAO winter values for winters since 1950. (CPC)

image

Above: December to February NAO (STD)

You can see from the composite of these very blocky years, the pattern is virtually identical to that of 2009/10, 2010/11 in December to February. To show an ‘independent data ‘ set, I eliminated 2009/10 and 2010/11 in the second chart – with little change in the results.

image

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What about arctic water temperatures in August and September of those years. Was the arctic warm in those identical years leading to the blocky following winters? NO! Not according to NCEP reanalysis. It was cold in the late summer and early fall throughout the arctic.

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NATURAL CAUSES

There are few natural causes discussed in the peer review literature relating to high latitude blocking. The two that appeared to play a role the last two cold winters were the high latitude volcanoes and very low solar activity.
HIGH LATITUDE VOLCANOES

Climatologists may disagree on how much the recent global warming is natural or manmade but there is general agreement that volcanism constitutes a wildcard in climate, producing significant global scale cooling for at least a few years following a major eruption. However, there are some interesting seasonal and regional variations of the effects.

Oman and Robock (2005) and others have shown that though major volcanic eruptions seem to have their greatest cooling effect in the summer months, the location of the volcano determines whether the winters are colder or warmer over large parts of North America and Eurasia. According to their modeling, tropical region volcanoes like El Chichon and Pinatubo actually produce a warming in winter due to a tendency for a more positive North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Arctic Oscillation (AO).

Oman found high latitude volcanoes like Katmai (Alaska in 1912) instead favored the negative phase of the Arctic and North Atlantic Oscillationsand cold winters. In the negative phase, the jet stream winds buckled and forced cold air south from Canada into the eastern United States and west from Siberia into Europe. They also favored a cooling of middle and higher latitudes the year round of that atmosphere and a weakening of the summer monsoon in India.

Several high latitude volcanoes have erupted – Kasatochi in Alaska in 2008, Mt. Redoubt in Alaska and Sarychev in Russia in 2009 and Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland in 2010.

In addition to the strong blocking observed in 2009/10 and early in 2010/11, the Indian monsoon season was erratic in 2009 and again in 2011.

SOLAR CYCLES

Also important to the NAO/AO is low solar activity. Though solar irradiance varies slightly over the 11 year cycle, radiation at longer UV wavelengths are known to increase by several (6-8% or more) percent with still larger changes (factor of two or more) at extremely short UV and X-ray wavelengths (Baldwin and Dunkerton, JAS 2004).

Energetic flares increase the UV radiation by 16%. Ozone in the stratosphere absorbs this excess energy and this heat has been shown to propagate downward and affect the general circulation in the troposphere. Shindell (1999) used a climate model that included ozone chemistry to reproduce this warming during high flux (high UV) years. Labitzke and Van Loon (1988) and later Labitzke in numerous papers has shown that high flux (which correlates very well with UV) produces a warming in low and middle latitudes in winter in the stratosphere with subsequent dynamical and radiative coupling to the troposphere. The researchers show that at solar minimum, a weakened polar circulation (negative AO/NAO) was more likely when the Quasi Biennial Oscillation was easterly (as in 2000/10).

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Shindell used this ozone chemistry based modeling to demonstrate how the lack of UV might have contributed to the cold of the Maunder Minimum. Their model showed when the sun was quiet in 1680, it was much colder than when it became active again one hundred years later. “During this period, very few sunspots appeared on the surface of the Sun, and the overall brightness of the Sun decreased slightly. Already in the midst of a colder-than-average period called the Little Ice Age, Europe and North America went into a deep freeze: alpine glaciers extended over valley farmland; sea ice crept south from the Arctic; and the famous canals in the Netherlands froze regularly – an event that is rare today.”

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Writing in Environmental Research Letters (2010), Mike Lockwood et al. have verified that solar activity does seem to have a direct correlation with Earth’s climate by influencing North Atlantic blocking (NAO) as Shindell has shown. The reason that the scope of the study is limited to that area, or at most Europe, is that it is one of the few regions that there is a reliable, continuous temperature record going back to the Little Ice Age.

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They noted further “solar activity during the current sunspot minimum has fallen to levels unknown since the start of the 20th century. The Maunder minimum (about 1650–1700) was a prolonged episode of low solar activity which coincided with more severe winters in the United Kingdom and continental Europe. Motivated by recent relatively cold winters in the UK, we investigate the possible connection with solar activity. We identify regionally anomalous cold winters by detrending the Central England temperature (CET) record using reconstructions of the northern hemisphere mean temperature.

We show that cold winter excursions from the hemispheric trend occur more commonly in the UK during low solar activity, consistent with the solar influence on the occurrence of persistent blocking events in the eastern Atlantic. We stress that this is a regional and seasonal effect relating to European winters and not a global effect. Average solar activity has declined rapidly since 1985 and cosmogenic isotopes suggest an 8% chance of a return to Maunder minimum conditions within the next 50 years (Lockwood 2010 Proc. R. Soc. A 466 303–29): the results presented here indicate that, despite hemispheric warming, the UK and Europe could experience more cold winters than during recent decades.”

The last extended solar minimum was the deepest and longest in over a century.

The 2009/10 winter with a record negative arctic oscillation and persistent negative NAO was the coldest in the UK and the southeastern United States since 1977/78, coldest in Scotland since 1962/63, coldest ever recorded in parts of Siberia. Coldest weather since 1971/72 was reported in parts of North China. December 2010 was the second coldest December in the CET since 1659 in the Little Ice Age.

The decadal changes in the United States are impressive. These numbers will drop after this warm rebound winter for the lower 48 states.

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It seems a steady stream of the tenets of the WG movement has been failing in recent years – 15 years of non warming, slowing and even falling sea levels, no increases in the ocean heat content, colder winters and increasing hemispheric snows, the missing hot spot in the tropics mid troposphere, a troposphere warming much slower than the surface when models suggest the opposite, increasing (7 out last 10) ENSO events being La Nina when we were promised a permanent El Nino, record high polar bear populations, recovering Kilimanjaro ice and no Himalayan ice loss, and on and on. In every case, papers that attempt to make these changes ‘consistent’ with global warming are rushed through peer (‘pal’) review and the all too compliant media are quick to promote them to save the ‘cause’.

When they lose these turning points they turn to trying to hype the never ending stream of extreme weather as evidence of climate disruption. The extremes cluster for the same natural reasons (last year’s extremes can be blamed on the second strongest La Nina in the last century in 2010/11). Many of us who have spent decades looking at data and natural causes for these weather changes or regimes and virtually always can find them. The only constant in nature is that weather and climate will change.

Having taught a course at Georgia Tech and worked on my doctorate there while Director of Meteorology at The Weather Channel, I have an attachment for Georgia Tech’s program and have enormous respect for Judith Curry who maintains an open mind and wonderfully balanced blog on climate.

REFERENCES:

Baldwin, M.P., Dunkerton, T.J.: (2004) The solar cycle and stratospheric-tropsospheric dynamical coupling, JAS 2004

Labitzke, K., The global signal of the 11-year sunspot cycle in the stratosphere: Differences between solar maxima and minima, Meteorol. Zeitschift, 10, 83–90, 2001.

Lockwood, M., Harrison, R.G., Woollings T., and Solanki, S.K., (2010) Are cold winters in Europe associated with low solar activity? Environ. Res. Lett. 5 (April-June 2010) 024001 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/5/2/024001

Oman, L., A. Robock, G. Stenchikov, G. A. Schmidt, and R. Ruedy (2005), Climatic response to high-latitude volcanic eruptions, J. Geophys. Res., 110,

Overland, J. E., and M. Wang, 2010: Large-scale atmospheric circulation changes associated with the recent loss of Arctic sea ice. Tellus, 62A, 1.9.

Rauthe, M., Hense, A. and Paeth, H. (2004), A model intercomparison study of climate change-signals in extratropical circulation. International Journal of Climatology, 24: 643–662

Shindell, D.T., D. Rind, N. Balachandran, J. Lean, and P. Lonergan, Solar cycle variability, ozone, and climate, Science, 284, 305–308, 1999a.

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37 Responses to Increasing Winter Cold in Recent Years and the Arctic

  1. Max Hugoson says:

    A Christmas Carol is a novella by English author Charles Dickens first published by Chapman & Hall on 19 December 1843—–

    Illustration clearly shows TINY TIM being carried. 1810 date is WRONG.

    Winters WERE STILL HARSH circa 1840 in London.

    Max

    REPLY: Joe fixed it, thanks – Anthony

  2. MarkW says:

    2011 has been a relatively warm and snow free year in N. America. Does this mean the Arctic refroze this year?

  3. SteveSadlov says:

    Cold is warm, up is down, war is peace …

    Strange times indeed. Tear down The Ministry of Truth!

  4. Jimbo says:

    Mild conditions prevail as they did (and continue in the US) this year.

    But Michael Mann blamed global warming – while ignoring the killer, yes killer cold and snow in Europe.

    Expect warmercolder winters because of the greenhouse effect. Snowfall is now just a thing of the past. Warmists want it both ways.;>)

  5. Anything is possible says:

    Significant cold spells in the UK and western Europe also occurred in Jan-Feb 1979, December 1981, February 1983, January 1985, February 1986, January 1987 and February 1991. All since satellites started measuring Arctic sea ice.

    If Curry et al. did not study these events to see if they too supported their hypothesis, that strikes me as being somewhat negligent.

    If they DID study them, only to omit them from their paper because they didn’t support their hypothesis, that would be far, far worse……

    I’m not making any specific accusations here, but I’d be very interested to know what the authors actually did.

  6. Paul Vaughan says:

    The way I look at it, the count on Judith Curry is 0-2, there’s a fastball coming straight down the middle, and she looks to be asleep at the plate. Not looking good.

  7. Günther says:

    Mr d’Aleo, do you think that the rapid decline of Arctic sea ice (especially in the area of the Barents and Kara Seas) has no influence on NH weather patterns whatsoever? Could it have an influence if summer minimum extent/area would drop below 1 million km2?

  8. Anything is possible says:

    Ah. “Ran simulations”

    A strange thing to do IMO, when you have actual “living, breathing real-life” data at your disposal……

    Looks like a case of “All models are wrong, some are useful but you should not feel obliged to use them for every single study.”

  9. If we get too much more of this “global warming” that we’ve been seeing in the wintertime, I’m concerned we may start to see significant damage to crop yields.

    RTF

  10. phlogiston says:

    The only constant in nature is that weather and climate will change.

    Mark Twain once said “climate is what you expect, weather is what you get”.

  11. Mycroft says:

    What will it take for the “TEAM” to realise thats it not all about CO2….there’l come a time when they will be left alone,wilst otherslead the research on climate,a small sad cabal of men tied to an ideology.

  12. MAVukcevic says:

    It is going to be along time before even the most ardent climate scientists workout what is going in the North Atlantic:
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/CET-NVa.htm
    Sometimes I feel sorry for these guys.

  13. TM says:

    Natural climate changes happen, but is it so wrong to consider that 0.9 Watt’s per meter squared extra energy the earth is receiving due to anthropogenic emissions might affect climate? It is true that we see warming of the surface oceans – check the SST records and you’ll see an expanding Caribbean warm pool, for example, and increased SST’s in the Indian Ocean. The extra energy has to go somewhere – if not the air, than the ocean – and we do observe rising temperatures in both.

  14. Anymoose says:

    I am having trouble believing that summer ice melt in the Arctic causes winter snowfall in the temperate zone. It is especially tough to believe that the minimum Arctic ice coverage during the summer of 2007 had anything to do with heavy snows in the Northern Hemisphere during the winters of 2009-10 and 2010-11. Where is the moisture hiding after evaporation from the surface during the summer months? Lake effect snow is well known in the Great Lakes states, but the evaporated moisture is deposited immediately when the winds experience adiabatic cooling when they cross the land. There is no delay of several months or years before it shows up.

  15. robmcn says:

    What is extremely odd is these climate scientists will not notice how horrendous winter 2011/2012 has been across Europe, as the English speaking MSM are silent about it. Yet winter 2010/2011 was well recognized in the MSM only because the UK was so unable to deal with it and once it became big news in the UK media, it spread like wildfire across to the US, as some sort of horrendous weather event. Yet the winters before that were absolutely horrendous and unprecedented across China and Asia, yet not a single climate scientist noticed.

    Climate scientists may pretend to study global weather events, but at the end of the day it truly is just basic observational analysis from what they see in the English speaking MSM. The Church of Hollywood Science doesn’t know that there is climate outside of the English speaking West. And why? Because they know they only need to appeal to those English speaking locations where they can attract funding, so that is where the junk science is focused on.

  16. Interstellar Bill says:

    TM:
    where do you get that 0.9 W/sq m number?
    Do you mean the colding of the CO2 line?
    That’s not extra energy coming in, but less going out, allegedly.

    Before you bandy such a figure about,
    look at the satellite IR record,
    which shows the CO2 line is no colder than 30 yrs ago.

    Right now there is NO CO2 forcing, globally, and no ‘extra energy’.

    Your warm pools and other such cherry-picking are LOCAL only.

  17. clipe says:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/12/05/has-charles-dickens-shaped-our-perception-of-climate-change/

    “The Pickwick Papers” is Charles Dickens’ first novel. It was published in 1837 and was a great success. It has been translated into many languages since then and is read with interest all over the world. Everybody enjoys the amusing adventures of Mr Pickwick, his servant Sam Weller and the members of the famous Pickwick Club. Here is an extract from the novel.

    One fine winter day Mr Wardle, in whose house Mr Pickwick and his friends were staying, said:
    “What d’you say to an hour on the ice?” Everybody thought it was a good idea.
    “You skate, Winkle, don’t you?” (Mr Wardle had often heard Mr Winkle say that he went in for sports.)
    “Ye — yes, oh yes”, replied Mr Winkle. “But I — I — am rather out of practice.”

    http://lengish.com/texts/text-75.html

    Sam helped Mr Winkle to rise. Then Mr Pickwick walked a short distance away from the rest of the party, asking Mr Winkle to follow him, and said in a low voice:
    “You are a great liar, sir.”
    With these words Mr Pickwick turned slowly away from Mr Winkle and joined his friends.

  18. 1DandyTroll says:

    Was the snow extent corrected for todays higher resolution compared to 1967 measured snow extent?

    In the biggning of the 80’s, after Hansenians stopped shreiking about a new ice age, Northern europe still worried about it, because of all the snow and long winters, which isn’t exactly reflected in the Winter Northern Hemisphere Snow Extent graph.

  19. John F. Hultquist says:

    There is a multi-colored map in the post with the coterminous 48 US states showing change in winter temperatures. This map could use some source info or an explanation.
    ——————————

    MarkW says:
    March 2, 2012 at 11:55 am
    “2011 has been a relatively warm and snow free year in N. America. . . .

    Maybe you live in a “relatively warm and snow free” part of N. America. Others respectively disagree.
    Cold:
    http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/harshest-cold-spell-in-years-f/60867
    Snow:
    http://www.adn.com/2012/01/10/2256990/cordova-short-of-shovels-as-snow.html

    Then there is the 4 feet of snow in Washington State’s North Cascades over the past week:
    http://www.skitown.com/resortguide/conditions.cfm/wa08/Mt.Baker

    This will change so – It says from Thur. March 1: 51 inches, past 5 days.

    And the current DOT web-cam at Snoqualmie Summit:
    http://www.wsdot.com/traffic/Cameras/default.aspx?cam=1100

  20. Rosco says:

    Hey – snow and ice may be nice to look at, skiing is obviously popular and polar bears and penguins tolerate the cold – but to my way of thinking I’d rather go there to look at it rather than have it come here.

    Call me old fashioned but I think a little warming is preferable to some cooling and the calamity that will accompany that.

  21. DocMartyn says:

    The street of London 1840 were covered with straw and horse manure, today with Tarmack and concrete. I suspect the Albedo’s, heat capacity, latent heat and insulating properties are somewhat different,
    London of 1840 was a different city from 1940, both are very different from London 2012.

  22. Jesse says:

    Warm today, cold tomorrow. Maybe some rain or snow. With luck the night will be dark and the day will be light. From my observations, neither man nor machine can predict weather or climate more than a few days down the road.

  23. Adam Gallon says:

    TM says:
    March 2, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    The answer is, out into space, radiated away.

  24. Mike Nicholson says:

    Just an observation, but in case no body has already mentioned it, here in the U. K. this winter has been extremely mild.
    As I said, just an observation.

  25. Irpsit says:

    The winters in the Little Ice Age were much colder than these last winters. Expect the canals and rivers in Amsterdam, London and Venice to freeze much more regularly and for longer. Expect much widespread snow in Mediterranean countries. These events have so far been short-lived, we know from the 18th century that these snow events were long-lived in Portugal, Spain, Italy.

    You also forgot one of the largest polar eruptions in recent years: that of Grimsvotn in May 2011, with approximately 0.7-0.8 km3 . This poor guy was so ignored but much more powerful than the famous Eyjafjallajokull one year before. Expect the cooling to increase next winters.

  26. William Astley says:

    It appears we are going to experience the cooling phase of a Dansgaard-Oeshger cycle (also referred to as a Bond cycle. The past cycles of warming and cooling correlate with cosmogenic isotope changes which are caused by solar cycle changes. (i.e. There is smoking gun evidence that these serial climate warming and cooling cycles are caused by solar magnetic cycle changes. The question is not if the sun causes the past warming and cooling cycles, but rather how.) The warming and the cooling is greatest at high latitudes which indicates there is solar modulation of high alitude clouds in addition to modulation of low alitude clouds.

    Comment: High altitude clouds warm due to the greenhouse effect of their ice crystals. A reduction in high altitude clouds cools particularly at high latitudes, particularly in the winter. Increases in ions causes a reduction of high altitude clouds and an increase in low alitude clouds. (How the solar magnetic cycle change modulates ions in the atmosphere is also interesting. A hint to how and why solar cycle changes affect ions in the atmosphere is the fact that there is a significant lag time in the change in solar cycle and the start of the cooling. That is evidence of a time period for the ionosphere and planet to equalize to the change. i.e. The delay is 10 to 12 years not a few months or a couple of years.) The modulation of high altitude and low altitude clouds explains why the arctic warmed more than the rest of the planet in the late 20th century and why it will cool more than the rest of the planet due to the solar cycle 24 abrupt cycle interruption. The effect of this cycle change is opposite in the Antarctic which is called the polar see-saw. (i.e. Antarctic cools when the Arctic warms.) Note this is exactly what was observed in the late 20th century. It is curious that there were no comments from the paleoclimatologists concerning past warming and cooling cycles.

    It will be interesting to listen to the extreme AGW paradigm supporters as they try to come up with an explanation for the cooling. It will be also interesting to see at which point in time the media captulates, with the focus changing to the global cooling issue.

    See this link for a copy of a graph from Richard Alley’s paper that shows the Bond warming and cooling cycles in that are captured in the Greenland Ice core temperature data. (figure 3)

    http://www.climate4you.com/

    Fig.3. The upper panel shows the air temperature at the summit of the Greenland Ice Sheet, reconstructed by Alley (2000) from GISP2 ice core data. The time scale shows years before modern time, which is shown at the right hand side of the diagram. The rapid temperature rise to the left indicate the final part of the even more pronounced temperature increase following the last ice age. The temperature scale at the right hand side of the upper panel suggests a very approximate comparison with the global average temperature (see comment below). The GISP2 record ends around 1855, and the red dotted line indicate the approximate temperature increase since then. The small reddish bar in the lower right indicate the extension of the longest global temperature record (since 1850), based on meteorological observations (HadCRUT3). The lower panel shows the past atmospheric CO2 content, as found from the EPICA Dome C Ice Core in the Antarctic (Monnin et al. 2004). The Dome C atmospheric CO2 record ends in the year 1777.

    http://www.hindawi.com/journals/amet/aip/543146.pdf

    Solar activity and Svalbard temperatures

    The long temperature series at Svalbard (Longyearbyen) show large variations and a positive trend since its start in 1912. During this period solar activity has increased, as indicated by shorter solar cycles. The temperature at Svalbard is negatively correlated with the length of the solar cycle. The strongest negative correlation is found with lags 10–12 years. The relations between the length of a solar cycle and the mean temperature in the following cycle are used to model Svalbard annual mean temperature and seasonal temperature variations.

    These models can be applied as forecasting models. We predict an annual mean temperature decrease for Svalbard of 3.5 to 2oC from solar cycle 23 to solar cycle 24 (2009–‐20) and a decrease in the winter temperature of ≈6 oC.

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2002/2000PA000571.shtml

    On the 1470-year pacing of Dansgaard-Oeschger warm events
    The oxygen isotope record from the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 (GISP2) ice core was reanalyzed in the frequency and time domains. The prominent 1470-year spectral peak, which has been associated with the occurrence of Dansgaard-Oeschger interstadial events, is solely caused by Dansgaard-Oeschger events 5, 6, and 7. This result emphasizes the nonstationary character of the oxygen isotope time series. Nevertheless, a fundamental pacing period of ∼1470 years seems to control the timing of the onset of the Dansgaard-Oeschger events. A trapezoidal time series model is introduced which provides a template for the pacing of the Dansgaard-Oeschger events. Statistical analysis indicates only a ≤3% probability that the number of matches between observed and template-derived onsets of Dansgaard-Oeschger events between 13 and 46 kyr B.P. resulted by chance. During this interval the spacing of the Dansgaard-Oeschger onsets varied by ±20% around the fundamental 1470-year period and multiples thereof. The pacing seems unaffected by variations in the strength of North Atlantic Deep Water formation, suggesting that the thermohaline circulation was not the primary controlling factor of the pacing period.

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2003/2003GL017115.shtml

    Timing of abrupt climate change: A precise clock by Stefan Rahmstorf
    Many paleoclimatic data reveal a approx. 1,500 year cyclicity of unknown origin. A crucial question is how stable and regular this cycle is. An analysis of the GISP2 ice core record from Greenland reveals that abrupt climate events appear to be paced by a 1,470-year cycle with a period that is probably stable to within a few percent; with 95% confidence the period is maintained to better than 12% over at least 23 cycles. This highly precise clock points to an origin outside the Earth system; oscillatory modes within the Earth system can be expected to be far more irregular in period.

  27. Alexej Buergin says:

    “Günther says:
    March 2, 2012 at 12:51 pm
    … the rapid decline of Arctic sea ice …”

    DMI at the moment has the greatest extent since 2005, Nansen Center the greatest since 2007. Since you are an Umlaut-Gunther, my advice to you is to never believe anything about climate that comes from the vicinity of Berlin or Bremen.

  28. Matt Skaggs says:

    As we come to understand these persistent circulation patterns better, I am seeing some support for the Hockey Team assertion that hot and cold in Europe, where most of the records happen to be, does not correlate to global temperature. Specifically, when Europe goes in deep freeze, us folks in the US Pacific Northwest seem to get anomalously warm weather. I am curious as to whether anyone would argue to the contrary.

  29. John F. Hultquist says:

    Matt Skaggs says:
    March 3, 2012 at 7:48 am
    “. . . when Europe goes in deep freeze, us folks in the US Pacific Northwest seem to get anomalously warm weather.

    This seems to be one of those things that is frequently true but not always. One would have to define geographic regions (What part or parts of Europe?) and then settle on how a region-wide temperature comparison could be done.
    The US PNW (in a general sense) can get “weather” from the southwest direction (the Pineapple Express –moist/warm), from the west (off the north Pacific Ocean – moist/cool), or from the continental Arctic (winter: dry and cold).
    Which we get depends (usually) on the large atmospheric waves, called Rossby Waves, having only a small number of loops of large sizes. So, for example, if the loop is bringing arctic-cold-air to Bellingham and heading toward the Gulf States – that loop will next carry warmer/moist air to Boston. Number and sizes establish the pattern. So, say that loop then passes west of Greenland and then takes a right turn into NW Europe. Then the PNW is cold, as is N. Europe, while the NE USA is warm. The loops can shift eastward and the pattern changes.
    http://www.eumetcal.org.uk/euromet/courses/english/nwp/n2d00/n2d00009.htm
    —————————-
    I’ll take a pass on “correlate to global temperature” insofar as I don’t know what that means.

  30. Brian D says:

    You can say bye-bye to those trends on the NCDC map east of the Rockies. Very mild winter. Linear trends move quite easily on short time scales, especially when an endpoint moves in an extreme direction up or down. In this case it will be on the up.

  31. Brian D says:

    But as warm as it was this winter east of the Rockies and up in Canada, globally temps seem to be on a downward trend. I’m expecting a -0.2 anomaly for UAH for Feb. At least in that vicinity. We’ll see.

  32. Brian D says:

    Oops. UAH out with -0.12. Hadn’t got down the list of posts until just now. Oh well, my -0.2 shot down. Better guess next time.

  33. Beesaman says:

    Just been reading the interesting accounts of the Ziegler Polar Expedition of 1901-05 Fighting the Polar Ice by Anthony Fiala Commander of the Ziegler Polar Expedition (or rather the rescue of it). Something that struck me as evidence of variability in Arctic ice cover in that area was the passage found on page 200:

    ‘Doctor Nansen’s ship, the Fram, reached her highest
    latitude north of one of that group — Rudolph Island —
    and in the two years we spent at Teplitz Bay both
    September and October of 1903 and 1904 were char-
    acterised by large stretches of open water to the north
    of the islands.

    Norwegian sealers and whalers speak of a great
    open sea north of Spitzbergen and between that group
    and the Franz Josef Archipelago in which they have
    sailed during certain seasons.’

    Full text available at:

    http://www.archive.org/stream/fightingpolarice00fialuoft/fightingpolarice00fialuoft_djvu.txt (last accessed 5/2/12)

    Also Ziegler recounts large open stretches of water that prevented him from succeeding in his last attempts at moving North.

    The actual rescue of the party also recounts open water.

    http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=2&res=9A00E0D61738EF32A25751C1A96E9C946497D6CF&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

    Maybe more historical records need to be reviewed to fill in the gaps and end this idea of some sort of ‘golden age’ of ice cover in the Arctic.

  34. Matt G says:

    Roughly a 3.4 w/m2 increase is caused by just one percent decrease in global cloud levels (from thick cloud cover to completely clear) Doesn’t take much to see where claimed values for CO2 around 1 w/m2 actually come from. If anybody thinks CO2 has caused these global cloud levels to fall, then how? The feedback for CO2 requires water vapor and therefore evidence of this occuring as expected ,would show a increase in water vapor and increase in global cloud levels (neither happend during this 17 year warming period)

  35. handjive says:

    “Scientists have been able to reconstruct abnormal climate patterns that occurred during the 9th and 10th centuries in Iraq by examining and analyzing ancient manuscripts written by Islamic writers during the Islamic Golden Age.

    “Climate information recovered from these ancient sources mainly refers to extreme events which impacted wider society such as droughts and floods,” said Domínguez-Castro. “However, they also document conditions which were rarely experienced in ancient Baghdad such as hailstorms, the freezing of rivers or even cases of snow.”

    The manuscripts documented an increase of cold weather occurrences in the first half of the 10th century, including a sharp drop in temperatures during July 920 AD and three incidents of snowfall in 908, 944 and 1007.
    The only other record of snow occurred in modern Baghdad in 2008.”

    http://www.archaeologydaily.com/news/201203028004/Ancient-Arabic-Manuscripts-Help-Scientists-Reconstruct-Past-Climate.html

    Skeptical Science graph of comparing cO2 emissions:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Comparing-CO2-emissions-to-CO2-levels.html

    What caused the floods, drought, snow & freezing as documented?
    Are these climate extremes the same sort we experience today?
    If they are different, why?

  36. DennisA says:

    There is always some interesting stuff at Alaska Climate Research Center, Here
    100 years of climate in Alaska:
    http://climate.gi.alaska.edu/papers/Arctic62-3-295.pdf
    The variance between CO2 and temperature is low, with a value of 0.24; in other words, 24% of the observed temperature change can be explained radiatively by increasing CO2 values. Of course, there are other important radiative processes besides those associated with CO2, such as changes in cloud type and amount. The PDO index correlates somewhat better with the observed temperature change, with a value of 0.37. Furthermore, we carried out multiple regression analyses with both CO2 and the PDO index.
    The combined parameters resulted in the higher value of 0.45. In other words, the combination of increasing CO2 and the observed circulation changes expressed by the PDO could explain 45% of the observed temperature change of Fairbanks.
    Naturally, the increased CO2 could have also affected the circulation index; (of course!) however, the statistical evidence is weak, with a variance value of only 0.14 between CO2 concentration and the PDO index. In conclusion, the variation in the mean annual temperature of Fairbanks correlates poorly with the increasing CO2 values and somewhat better with the PDO index. Even combined, CO2 and the PDO index can explain only slightly less than half of the observed variation.

    Record cold temperatures in January
    http://climate.gi.alaska.edu/Summary/current_sum.html
    January summary:

    The mean of the 20 stations gave a deviation of -­14.2°F, indeed a very large value.
    It is interesting to note that November had temperature far below the expected values, while December was much above normal, and for most stations, substantially warmer than November. Now January is, like to November, below normal again. However the January deviations are even more extreme than those observed in either of the previous two months.
    Many new temperature records were set during the month. Only two were new daily maximums, and both of those were for Kodiak (on the 10th and 11th). The rest were record cold values. From both the mean monthly values and from the frequency of the new daily new minima – compared against data that can go back for more than a century – it can be seen that January 2012 was an exceptionally cold month.

    The magnitude at which the old records were broken is also good indication of this, e.g. the new minimum temperature for Annette on the 19th January was 10°F lower than the previous one from 1972, and the minimum in Bettles on the last day of the month was -61°F, a substantial 8°F lower than the previous value.

    Bethel, with a mean monthly temperature of -17.3°F had not only the coldest January on record, but also the coldest month ever recorded. The old record low for January had been -13.3°F set in back in 1934. Bettles had an average monthly temperature of frigid -35.6°F, 1.6°F lower than the previous record from 1971.

    Three of the last four days of January had a low temperature of -60°F or lower, each setting new daily records. The average monthly temperature for Galena was -32.6°F, compared to the previous record of -31.4°F set in 1971, and on January 29th observed the 3rd lowest temperature (-65°F) ever seen in Galena. Homer also experienced a new record cold January at 9.0°F, outdoing the 1947 record of 9.4°F. For Nome, it was the coldest January on record at an average of -16.6°F, 1.4°F colder than the old record in 1989.

    It was also the 2nd coldest month recorded, only falling behind February 1990s -17.2°F. Further, the mean January temperatures of Cold Bay +18.2°F tied the old record low from 1956.

    In Tanana it was the second coldest January, and the coldest month in over 100 years, averaging -32.6°F compared with 1906s record of -36.6°F. likewise in Kotzebue it was the second coldest January since 1929, with an average temperature of -22.6°F, 5.1°F warmer than the 1939s coldest January on record.

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