NASA on the snow and the mild winter – AGW not mentioned

Despite the wailings at various blogs and news outlets about this mild winter in the USA being the result of global warming, NASA says otherwise. Not a mention of AGW, CO2, or any of that blame game can be found in their summary, just AO patterns and La Niña.

End of Winter: How 2012 Snow Stacks Up

By Ellen Gray NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

The mild winter of 2012 has many people asking, “Where’s the snow?” These two snow cover maps show the difference between snow extent on March 3, 2011, and March 5, 2012. The maps were compiled from data collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA’s Terra satellite.

snow cover map derived from MODIS data

Snow cover map for March 3, 2011. (Image credit: NASA/MODIS)
› Larger image

snow cover map derived from MODIS data

Snow cover map for March 5, 2012. (Image credit: NASA/MODIS)
› Larger image

In 2012, the snow cover is very spotty compared to 2011. In 2011, the Great Lakes were clearly defined by surrounding snow, and snow blanketed the Rocky Mountains, Nevada’s Basin and Range, and the Sierra Nevada all the way into southern California.

In 2012, areas that are usually snow covered are bare, including parts of Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota. The Snake River Plain in southern Idaho is clearly visible. This low-lying valley is the track of the hotspot that is now under Yellowstone National Park. In the east, the Great Lakes area, southern Ontario and the East Coast of the United States have much less snow cover than they did at this time last year.

2012’s relatively light snowfall is the result of two atmospheric processes, according to climatologist Bill Patzert of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. One is the La Niña conditions in the Pacific, which result in less moist air crossing the continental United States. The other is a strong Arctic Oscillation that keeps cold arctic air around the North Pole and away from more southern latitudes.

For a more in-depth explanation, visit: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2012/17jan_missingsnow/

 

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51 thoughts on “NASA on the snow and the mild winter – AGW not mentioned

  1. OFF TOPIC, but timely and important. I always watch the PBS Newshour and consider it among the most reliable news because they usually provide at least two sides to any controversial topic. Tonight they interviewed one of the spokespersons from Climate Central about this new web posting-

    http://www.climatecentral.org/

    Ray Suarez had not done his homework and also did not interview any one else to correct the misinformation about accerating global warming and accelerating sea level rise.
    The Climate Central spokesperson also touted the hindcasting ability of his models which are projecting 2′- 7′ additional sea rise ihe next 100 years. I hope others who watched the program went to their website and commented as I did. I also left a message at the local PBS outlet. IMO, this outrageous misinformation deserves pushback and a correction on the Newshour later this week.

  2. As I said, PBS usuually presents center left and center right. If you are far right or left, you won’t be happy with it. They only presented one side tonight, which is unusuall, and deserves pushback.

  3. Yes refreshing but…

    One is the La Niña conditions in the Pacific, which result in less moist air crossing the continental United States.

    This time last year La Niña was stronger yet more snow. Should they be brave enough to say “we just don’t know enough”?

  4. @doug. – that site is just too hard on a mobile device. Probably reflects the owners Neanderthal attitude to technology as a whole…

  5. “Not a mention of AGW, CO2, or any of that blame game can be found in their summary, just AO patterns and La Niña.” –AW

    Hmm. Such mentionings have been pro forma on many a report, either as a prelude or in the conclusion. Kind of like the mediaeval texts and church instriptions during the plague times, with the memento mori (remember death) obligatory reminder. Memento colefactio globalis ?. Lately, I’ve noticed fewer and fewer mentionings. A trend? Fatigue? Embarrassment over the banality? Whatever it is, maybe we shouldn’t mention it so as not to jinx it.

  6. Heres my well researched rebuttal to NASA / Bill Patzert. “Climate Change cause’s La Nina and Arctic Oscillation…Full Stop”. I expect to have this pal-reviewed and published by tomorrow afternoon.

  7. The other is a strong Arctic Oscillation that keeps cold arctic air around the North Pole and away from more southern latitudes.

    LOL I am sure that Snow in Tunisia in February was just the result of warm air…

  8. I read a watered down version of this in my local paper(Burlington Free Press, Burlington VT, bastion of the Left) and had to go through it again when I didn’t see “Global Warming/Climate Change mentioned at all. Once I confirmed it was absent from the paper, I had my wife triple check just to be sure and promptly fell out of my chair. Take heart all, I think the MSM is weaning itself from the meme becasue the “Cause” is withering day by day.

  9. I wonder what a comparison of February 2011 with February 2012 would look like….just wondering.

  10. MSM manufacturing news:
    Here is an example with
    Environmentalists alarmed after study reveals massive Great Lakes ice loss
    By Sheila Dabu Nonato, Postmedia News

    http://www.canada.com/technology/Environmentalists+alarmed+after+study+reveals+massive+Great+Lakes+loss/6297132/story.html#ixzz1p91r2v1p

    Quoting her article: “According to a February study in the Journal of Climate, Lake Ontario lost the most ice cover (88 per cent), with Lake Superior placing second at 79 per cent over a 38-year period. Lake St. Clair — which is part of the Great Lakes system but is not normally considered one of the Great Lakes — lost the least (37 per cent). Researchers used historical satellite measurements of the Great Lakes’ ice cover from 1973 to 2010.
    The study attributed the overall decrease to global warming.”

    Now is the abstract from the article by Wang, Jia, Xuezhi Bai, Haoguo Hu, Anne Clites, Marie Colton, Brent Lofgren, 2012: Temporal and Spatial Variability of Great Lakes Ice Cover, 1973–2010*. J. Climate, 25, 1318–1329.
    doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/2011JCLI4066.1

    “In this study, temporal and spatial variability of ice cover in the Great Lakes are investigated using historical satellite measurements from 1973 to 2010. The seasonal cycle of ice cover was constructed for all the lakes, including Lake St. Clair. A unique feature found in the seasonal cycle is that the standard deviations (i.e., variability) of ice cover are larger than the climatological means for each lake. This indicates that Great Lakes ice cover experiences large variability in response to predominant natural climate forcing and has poor predictability. Spectral analysis shows that lake ice has both quasi-decadal and interannual periodicities of ~8 and ~4 yr. There was a significant downward trend in ice coverage from 1973 to the present for all of the lakes, with Lake Ontario having the largest, and Lakes Erie and St. Clair having the smallest. The translated total loss in lake ice over the entire 38-yr record varies from 37% in Lake St. Clair (least) to 88% in Lake Ontario (most). The total loss for overall Great Lakes ice coverage is 71%, while Lake Superior places second with a 79% loss. An empirical orthogonal function analysis indicates that a major response of ice cover to atmospheric forcing is in phase in all six lakes, accounting for 80.8% of the total variance. The second mode shows an out-of-phase spatial variability between the upper and lower lakes, accounting for 10.7% of the total variance. The regression of the first EOF-mode time series to sea level pressure, surface air temperature, and surface wind shows that lake ice mainly responds to the combined Arctic Oscillation and El Niño–Southern Oscillation patterns.”

    NO mention of global warming here but of AO and ENSO patterns.
    Sheila Dabu Donato listened to environmentalists and manufactured her line. Shame on you!

  11. I live in Toronto and have been fascinated all winter that the CTV news team has not only been consistently praising the warm weather, but seems intent on refusing to so much as mention AGW. About a week ago they quoted a letter (I believe) from someone saying, “But let’s not forget the serious issue underlying this nice weather.” But after that brief nod, they immediately went back to singing the praises of the mild weather. It’s been surreal. Ever since it became apparent that our winter was going to be warm, I’ve been tensing for the inevitable lectures from the news stations, but there has hardly been so much as a nod towards global warming.

    Needless to say, this has made my mild winter even better.

  12. Peter Kovachev says:
    March 14, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    “Not a mention of AGW, CO2, or any of that blame game can be found in their summary, just AO patterns and La Niña.” –AW

    Hmm. Such mentioning have been pro forma on many a report, either as a prelude or in the conclusion. Kind of like the medieval texts and church inscriptions during the plague times, with the memento mori (remember death) obligatory reminder. Memento colefactio globalis ?. Lately, I’ve noticed fewer and fewer mentionings. A trend? Fatigue? Embarrassment over the banality? Whatever it is, maybe we shouldn’t mention it so as not to jinx it.

    Peter I agree with you the Canadian TV News coverage, but the CBC radio and the Vancouver Sun newspaper seem to cover every alarmist story with such monotony I call it my local warming rag and CBC alarmist central. P.S I listen to the CBC after midnight because I’m a night owl and the newspaper I get for free that’s all it’s worth and knowing what I know about the likes of Mann and the IPPC I will never support an alarmist cause!!

  13. Here’s a chance to listen to Ken Gale’s Eco-Logic of December 13th, 2011 He covers other environmental issues as the show begins, and the forecast portion begins at 8:39 into the show.
    Here’s the link:

    [audio src="http://archive.wbai.org/files/mp3/wbai_111213_200100ecologic.mp3" /]

    You get a 50 minute “before the event” forecast with some decent detail about La Nina too!

  14. [snip - no using the d-word here to label people. Disagree with me if you want, and resubmit sans that labeling but take your slurs and go home if that's what you want to be doing - be as upset as you wish - Anthony Watts]

  15. Hi Anthony,

    I’ve got your snow. Over 10 feet of it in Anchorage, considerably more at my house. We are just a couple of inches short of the all time record. The way I measure how much snow we have had is how much gas I have used to plow my driveway. Last year it was less then 10 gallons. This year, I have used more then 35 gallons. (So far!) I usually love lots of snow, but please, no more!!!

  16. AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
    NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
    923 PM PDT WED MAR 14 2012

    Following the weather forecast:

    .AVALANCHE…A NEARLY CONTINUOUS PARADE OF STORMS BEGAN IN THE
    OLYMPICS AND NORTH WA CASCADES FRIDAY SPREADING TO THE REMAINDER OF THE CASCADES AND MT HOOD AREA SATURDAY. THE STORM TOTAL AMOUNTS OF SNOW ARE VERY IMPRESSIVE WITH MOST AREAS RECEIVING 3 TO 6 FEET OF SNOW IN THE PAST FOUR DAYS WITH MT BAKER GETTING 8 FEET OVER FIVE DAYS!

    THIS HEAVY SNOW IS LOADING BURIED WEAK LAYERS AND IS ALL OVERLYING A CRUST LAYER. THE CRUST LAYER SHOULD ACT AS A SLIDING SURFACE MEANING SLIDES BEGINNING IN NEW SNOW LAYERS MAY THEN REACH THE CRUST NOW BURIED UP TO 5 TO 10 FEET OR MORE IN WIND LOADED TERRAIN.

    AN AVALANCHE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY.

  17. To post the above, I had to log in via WordPress and reset a password.
    I’ve never had to do that before. Did I do something different or why did that happen? The comment is from ‘jhultquist’ while every other comment I’ve made is as John F. Hultquist.

  18. So Anthony, you’re saying that you can insult people on this Website, but I can’t call a spade a spade here. Shocking!

    REPLY: I’m saying you can’t use the d-word as you did, you are welcome to resubmit sans that. Somehow though I don’t think you’ll be able to control your anger and bias there “pierre”.

    UPDATE: On second thought, after reviewing your previous comments here, many of which have been snipped for policy, and seeing how you want to shut down WUWT: “The only legal people that need to be brought are those required to permanently shut down the WUWT Web site for deliberately misinforming people.” 01-25-12

    …let me retract that previous statement and say this instead:

    Get out, you aren’t welcome here. You are now in the troll bin.

    – Anthony

  19. Mt. Baker has had +8 feet of snow fall in the last 5 days, according to our local report from Seattle. Snoqualmie Pass (I-90) has ‘chains required’ for both directions again today. We have had wet flurries of snow falls down to sea level, all over the Puget Sound in the last 3 days.

  20. How does that front that came through at the start of March tie in? I remember all the talk of record snowfall (just because it happened to fall on March 1 or 2, which annoyed me to no end). Did it melt by the date listed? Is the map accurate? I don’t remember if there was a front last year at that time.

    Also, being in South Florida, and never living north of Dallas, TX, are the northern states typically covered in snow constantly over a period of months? I find that hard to believe, but I don’t enjoy the Weather Channel like I used to, so I don’t remember.

  21. Sometimes I get the feeling that the folks at NASA GSFC are slightly embarassed by their more er, flamboyant colleagues over at NASA GISS.

  22. NASA, seem to be rethinking this whole thing;

    This recently appeared on a NASA page:

    “…. because the combined effect of all forcings is less than that of greenhouse gases alone, and much of the greenhouse gas forcing has been “used up” in causing the warming of the past century/b>. It is apparent that the solar forcing is not negligible in comparison with the net climate forcing.….”

    NASA http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2011/

  23. Geography lesson please. In the 2011 image the snow line is perfectly straight across the South Dakota / Nebraska border. Is there something about the geography / topography that would cause that, or simply chance?

  24. There was a pack of snow in SE Europe in February. Much of Europe had low snowcover, western Europe about record low.

  25. Ted G says:
    March 14, 2012 at 7:54 pm
    Peter Kovachev says:
    March 14, 2012 at 5:55 pm
    Peter I agree with you the Canadian TV News coverage, but the CBC radio and the Vancouver Sun newspaper seem to cover every alarmist story with such monotony I call it my local warming rag and CBC alarmist central. P.S I listen to the CBC after midnight because I’m a night owl and the newspaper I get for free that’s all it’s worth and knowing what I know about the likes of Mann and the IPPC I will never support an alarmist cause!!
    ———————————–

    You’re a brave warrior, Ted; I get too frustrated and agitated with the CBC and switch before noticing their climate stories which, on top of their de rigeur trashing of Israel and incessant whining about our Conservative government and our first good prime minister in a long time, they tend to really drive my personal temperatures right through the roof. My wife is a CBC radio junkie…she;s irritated by the politics but likes all those interviews with smart people. She knows she is being propagandized and we joke about our Friday night talks (a.k.a. Peter rants) being de-programming sessions. In any case, that great tax-supported boondoggle of ours needs to be severely chopped down and leashed, as it’s not only costing us an arm and a leg, but has become a dedicated mouthpiece for special interests, mainly the Libs, the NDP and Greens, and that just isn’t cricket.

  26. There’s a good reason why the warmists don’t mention climate change/AGW. Everyone loves the nice warm weather over much of the US. Where’s the disaster? Where’s the problem? At least they are smart enough to realize it would be a PR disaster to tie beautiful weather to something they want people to scare people with.

    I’m sure they are biting their collective tongues. They really, really want to claim it is proof, but all that would accomplish is making people want more global warming.

  27. I can tell you why the omitted the Climate Change buzzwords– because they’re painfully aware that Europe is being hammered. [a href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/story/2012-02-06/europe-weather-snow-cold/52992316/1"]They’re calling it a mini ice-age.[/a]

  28. Climate and Weather are exactly like Wind Power. When the wind is blowing in people’s faces at 20kph, people say look at the energy this could be generating. Of course, when the wind doesn’t blow, the same people say what a nice day; no thought about power generation.

    People experience weather everyday, it is in their face. So if it is warm, it must be due to Global Warming [or UHI]. If it is cold it must be due to Climate Change.

    I feel that Climate can only be observed: Northern Canada, Siberia have a cold climate [but virtually no one lives there]. The middle of the Sahara Desert or Patagonia have a dry climate [but virtually no one lives there].

    So, weather occurs where people live; climate occurs where they don’t live. My conclusion is that a weatherperson only talks about “weather”; never about climate, DUH. Of course, they don’t know the difference.

  29. A couple weeks ago, here in central Pennsylvania, I had to call for fuel oil, talked with the delivery guy. As opposed to normal winters, when they work 52+ hours a week, no Saturdays and no overtime this winter. We agreed it’s averaging, we had a cool wet “summer” followed by this mild winter, it evens out. We both got a chuckle over those blaming it on global warming.

    I mentioned there’s a web site he should see, wattsupwiththat-dot-com. He said: Oh yeah, I’ve gotten stuff off of there.

  30. Not very scientific but,here it goes.All winter (fairly cold ,but not much snow,here in the lower elevations,northwest USA)i’ve had my home sealed up(caulking,window coverings,etc)My heater runs almost all the time.Wish it would run less to save a little money!There are four people inside,all breathing,and adding CO2 to my atmosphere.(it is a trace gas ,right).I dont know if i’m adding enough(it is a trace gas,right).Shouldn’t i be running my heater less?Maybe I could buy a can of CO2 ,add it to my atmosphere,and cut my heating bill in half?Or maybe when i open my door to outer space(the outside)I lose to much heat and CO2? WUWT?

  31. mbur, if your home was indeed perfectly sealed from air changes with the outside, you would suffocate when you used up all of the oxygen.

  32. I do have a few house plants and they’re doing fine.I never did say it was perfectly sealed.Is our planet perfectly sealed?

  33. Little or no snow cover on the Snake River plain isn’t particularily unusual for this time of year .

  34. On a leading meteoroligical website-instantly saw at least 4 references to global warming being behind the early spring warmth and severe weather season in the US-it was so sickening, that I instantly clicked off the site.

  35. What amazes me is that there isn’t really a huge difference between the two. Yes, this year’s appears to be less than last – but considering the vast area of coverage overall difference doesn’t look all that significant.

  36. jhultquist says:
    March 14, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    To post the above, I had to log in via WordPress and reset a password.
    I’ve never had to do that before. Did I do something different or why did that happen? The comment is from ‘jhultquist’ while every other comment I’ve made is as John F. Hultquist.

    Interesting, I got something similar. Said there was already a wordpress account with that email address and to login in order to post. Logged in but it still wouldn’t post. Had to use a non-wordpress email address.

  37. TomB says:
    March 15, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    A butterfly flapped its wings last Saturday on NZ’s South Island.
    ————————————————————————

    It is still alternately raining and snowing in the Cascade Mtns. When the pattern changes to a long warm rain there will be a lot of water on the move. Stand back.

  38. Baa Humbug says:
    March 14, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    This time last year La Niña was stronger yet more snow. Should they be brave enough to say “we just don’t know enough”?

    ;——————————————————————————-

    Typically we have to wait until about until June or July to determine if next ENSO event will be a La Nina or an El Nino.

    Last year was a strong La Niña (high pressure in the Gulf of Alaska was to the east and the Arctic vortex was weak – AO was negative) following a moderate El Nino.

    This winter was a moderate La Nina (high pressure in the Gulf of Alaska was to the west and the Arctic vortex was strong – AO was positive.)

    This typically leads to dry conditions in the West.

    Also, last spring we had a late Arctic vortex which resulted in a mild summer in the West.

    We have a late vortex in the Arctic again this spring so we may being headed for another mild summer.

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