Guest essay by David Archibald
A visit to the weather station at the airport is the highlight of any trip to Svalbard. Of course that weather station has been the subject of attention on WUWT here.
Above: The Svalbard weather station at the airport
Figure 1 below shows the closest point the public can now get to the Svalbard weather station, the gate at the airport:
Figure 1: David Archibald, Professor Ole Humlum and Professor Jan-Erik Solheim at the closest point the public can get to the Svalbard Airport weather station which is 140 metres southeast of this point.
Professor Humlum was able to provide details of the siting problems particular to Arctic airport weather stations. For example, at one stage one of the airlines had a flight that got into Svalbard from Tromso on the Norwegian mainland in the late afternoon and then returned to Tromso at 5.00 am the following morning. To keep the aircraft warm overnight, the crew would leave the auxiliary power unit (APU) running. If the wind was blowing from the northwest, this would affect the temperature recorded by the weather station. This was an armed meteorological expedition as shown in Figure 2 following:
Figure 2: Professor Humlum carrying the expedition’s Remington rifle
Why an armed expedition? The island of Svalbard is infested with “warmers” (/sarc – the rifle actually for polar bears) . Note that the rifle wasn’t left in the vehicle. Poor visibility from falling snow meant that one may not be aware of a threat until you are directly upon it.
Figure 3 following shows a warmer nesting site encountered by the expedition:
Figure 3: Permafrost carbon dioxide injection project on Svalbard
This facility was founded on the peculiar notion that carbon dioxide could be stored under the permafrost layer. All the signage is in English no doubt because the Norwegian authorities are too embarrassed to have this inane project signposted in Norwegian. There is no source of carbon dioxide on Svalbard and any injected at the site would have to be transported from one thousand kilometres south on the Norwegian mainland.
As well as being an armed expedition, this was a sustainable expedition with provisioning including local produce of seal meat, whale meat and reindeer. Why go to Svalbard in the first place? It is quite apparent now that ground zero in climate change is not the coral reefs of the Maldives, the delta mouth islands of Bangladesh or anywhere else tropical and third world. It is here, hard up against the Arctic Circle. In fact Svalbard is going to get polar amplification really bad, as shown by Figure 4:
Figure 4: Projected average summer, annual and winter temperatures for Svalbard over Solar Cycle 24 (from Solheim, Stordahl and Humlum, 2011, Solar activity and Svalbard temperatures)
As Figure 4 shows, the average winter temperature over Solar Cycle 24 will be 6.0ºC colder than that over Solar Cycle 23. The economic effects of climate change have already been felt on the Norwegian mainland. Figure 5 shows Norwegian wheat imports and Norway’s domestic attempts are growing wheat:
Figure 5: Norwegian wheat imports and domestic production 1960 – 2012
What is apparent from Figure 5 is that domestic wheat production started replacing imports of the grain from the mid-1970s. From 2007, imports doubled as humid weather at harvest causing fungal infections of the crop and precluded most of it from being used for human consumption. Thus the end of the Modern Warm Period is sharply defined by Norwegian wheat statistics. Norway’s weather is driven by the sea temperature to its west, which also peaked in 2006 as shown by Figure 6:
Figure 6: Ocean heat in the Atlantic Ocean (0-60 West, 30-65 North) from Climate4you.com
Figure 6 shows that the fall in temperature of the Atlantic Ocean to the west of Norway from the peak in 2006 has been just as fast as the rise from 1990. When will the cooling stop and at what level?