Coldest ever temperature recorded on Earth found in Antarctica

Press Release: Landsat 8 helps unveil the coldest place on Earth

Sastrugi snow formations on the surface of the snow in East Antarctica

Sastrugi stick out from the snow surface in this photo near Plateau Station in East Antarctica. Most of Antartica looks quite flat, despite the subtle domes, hills, and hollows. —Credit: Atsuhiro Muto

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Scientists recently recorded the lowest temperatures on Earth at a desolate and remote ice plateau in East Antarctica, trumping a record set in 1983 and uncovering a new puzzle about the ice-covered continent.

Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), and his team found temperatures from −92 to −94 degrees Celsius (−134 to −137 degrees Fahrenheit) in a 1,000-kilometer long swath on the highest section of the East Antarctic ice divide.

The measurements were made between 2003 and 2013 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor on board NASA’s Aqua satellite and during the 2013 Southern Hemisphere winter by Landsat 8, a new satellite launched early this year by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey.

“I’ve never been in conditions that cold and I hope I never am,” Scambos said. “I am told that every breath is painful and you have to be extremely careful not to freeze part of your throat or lungs when inhaling.”

The record temperatures are several degrees colder than the previous record of −89.2 degrees Celsius (−128.6 degrees Fahrenheit) measured on July 21, 1983 at the Vostok Research Station in East Antarctica. They are far colder than the lowest recorded temperature in the United States, measured at −62 degrees Celsius (−79.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in Alaska, in northern Asia at -68 degrees Celsius (−90.4 degrees Fahrenheit), or even at the summit of the Greenland Ice Sheet at -75 degrees Celsius (−103 degrees Fahrenheit).

Scambos said the record temperatures were found in several 5 by 10 kilometer (3 by 6 mile) pockets where the topography forms small hollows of a few meters deep (2 to 4 meters, or 6 to 13 feet). These hollows are present just off the ice ridge that runs between Dome Argus and Dome Fuji—the ice dome summits of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. Antarctic bases sit on each of the sites and are generally not occupied during Antarctic winters.

Under clear winter skies in these areas, cold air forms near the snow surface. Because the cold air is denser than the air above it, it begins to move downhill. The air collects in the nearby hollows and chills still further, if conditions are favorable.

“The record-breaking conditions seem to happen when a wind pattern or an atmospheric pressure gradient tries to move the air back uphill, pushing against the air that was sliding down,” Scambos said. “This allows the air in the low hollows to remain there longer and cool even further under the clear, extremely dry sky conditions,” Scambos said. “When the cold air lingers in these pockets it reaches ultra-low temperatures.”

“Any gardener knows that clear skies and dry air in spring or winter lead to the coldest temperatures at night,” Scambos said. “The thing is, here in the United States and most of Canada, we don’t get a night that lasts three or four or six months long for things to really chill down under extended clear sky conditions.”

Centuries-old ice cracks

Scambos and his team spotted the record low temperatures while working on a related study on unusual cracks on East Antarctica’s ice surface that he suspects are several hundred years old.

“The cracks are probably thermal cracks—the temperature gets so low in winter that the upper layer of the snow actually shrinks to the point that the surface cracks in order to accommodate the cold and the reduction in volume,” Scambos said. “That led us to wonder what the temperature range was. So, we started hunting for the coldest places using data from three satellite sensors.”

More than 30 years of data from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) on the NOAA Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite (POES) series gave Scambos a good perspective on what the pattern of low temperatures looked like across Antarctica.

“Landsat 8 is still a new sensor, but preliminary work shows its ability to map the cold pockets in detail,” Scambos said. “It’s showing how even small hummocks stick up through the cold air.”

Scambos suspected they would find one area that got extremely cold. Instead they found a large strip at high altitude where several spots regularly reach record low temperatures. Furthermore, dozens of these extremely cold areas reached about the same minimum temperatures of −92 to −94 degrees Celsius (−134 to −137 degrees Fahrenheit) on most years.

“This is like saying that on the coldest day of the year a whole strip of land from International Falls, Minnesota to Duluth, Minnesota to Great Falls, Montana reached the exact same temperature, and more than once,” Scambos said. “And that’s a little odd.”

Map of the coldest temperature measurements in Antarctica

This image shows the location of record low temperature measurements for Antarctica. The red dots show where the record satellite-measured surface temperatures and the earlier record low air temperature occurred. Shades of gray are a compilation of the lowest MODIS-sensor land surface temperature readings made by NASA’s Aqua satellite during 2003-2013, with darker grays representing the coldest areas. Landsat 8 thermal images acquired in July and August of 2013 provided more detail on the coldest areas (purple squares). Elevation of the Antarctic surface is shown in green lines, and a blue lines provide an outline of the Antarctic continent, its islands, and the edge of its floating ice sheet.
—Credit: Ted Scambos, National Snow and Ice Data Center

The scientists suspect that a layer in the atmosphere above the ice plateau reaches a certain minimum temperature and is preventing the ice plateau’s surface from getting any colder.

A physical limit

“There seems to be a physical limit to how cold it can get in this high plateau area and how much heat can escape,” Scambos said. Although an extremely cold place, Antarctica’s surface radiates heat or energy out into space, especially when the atmosphere is dry and free of clouds.

“The levels of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, traces of water vapor and other gases in the air may impose a more or less uniform limit on how much heat can radiate from the surface,” Scambos said.

Scambos and his team will continue to refine their map of Earth’s coldest places using Landsat 8 data. “It’s a remarkable satellite and we’ve repeatedly been impressed with how well it works, not just for mapping temperature but for mapping crops and forests and glaciers all over the world,” Scambos said.

“The uses for Landsat 8 data are broad and diverse,” said James Irons, Landsat 8 project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “And Scambos’ work is an example of some of the intriguing science that can be done using Landsat 8.”

In the longer term, Scambos and his team will try to design weather stations and set them up in the area where the record temperatures occur to confirm the data from Landsat 8 and MODIS. Currently, most of the automated weather stations in the vicinity do not work properly in the dead of winter.

“The research bases there don’t have people that stay through the winter to make temperature measurements,” Scambos said. “We will need to investigate electronics that can survive those temperatures.”

View the NASA animation:

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160 Responses to Coldest ever temperature recorded on Earth found in Antarctica

  1. crabalocker says:

    I bet there will be no hype like there was for Death Valley this past summer.

  2. HGW xx/7 says:

    I am waiting for this to flash up on the television. I just know they are going to give this the unbiased coverage it deserves. You know, bring on a few skeptic meteorologists, show how there are hot and cold records all the time, that it doesn’t prove anything, but it should draw the alarmists’ view into question. Maybe parents around the world, at least for tonight, can put their kids to bed, telling them AGW isn’t hiding under the bed for them…

    I think I will be waiting a while.

  3. A.D. Everard says:

    That is COLD. They won’t be popular, looking for cold areas when climate-fretfuls are searching for the missing heat. Good on ‘em.

    It’s interesting that the plateau seems to reach a minimum temperature.

  4. Thanks Anthony. Good article.
    That’s cold! This global warming is killing us (at least those of us who could be in Antarctica).

  5. Bob Grise says:

    This is the smoking gun we have all been waiting for – Iron clad proof that man made global WARMING is occurring!!! :-)

  6. Jenn Oates says:

    Brrrrrrrrrrr!

    I can’t even imagine it.

  7. Tom Trevor says:

    “The levels of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, traces of water vapor and other gases in the air may impose a more or less uniform limit on how much heat can radiate from the surface,” Scambos said.”
    =============================================================================
    Even at -137℉ we have to bring up that nasty greenhouse effect.

  8. noaaprogrammer says:

    These Antarctic records make the -27 degrees F the other night in Redmond, Oregon look balmy!

  9. DonV says:

    “30 years” of data? No atmospheric water vapor, or clouds to contaminate atmospheric radiation of heat to space? Seems like a very logical set of historical data to prove or disprove the primary contribution of CO2 to global warming. Show us the data! I strongly suspect you will NOT find any CO2 signature signal in the 30 year temp trends. Therefore, I strongly suspect you will not be seeing this “30 years” of temp data any time soon either. Just this hint that what we suspect is true – a world record COLD temperature, when CO2 is at its highest level.

  10. Ed Mertin says:

    Space is as cold as 2.725 K; which works out to -270.425 C or -454.765 F.
    Scambos said. “We will need to investigate electronics that can survive those temperatures.”
    NASA sends spacecraft and satellites into temperatures a lot colder than −92 to −94 degrees Celsius (−134 to −137 degrees Fahrenheit) How do they survive?

  11. It is headlining on Drudge Report, so likely will get covered tomorrow.

  12. Zap says:

    They could check my ex wife – where the heart is supposed to be located. There really is no explanation for how cold that location is.

  13. TomRude says:

    The CBC in Canada reported it…

  14. Brian H says:

    Nope, no CO2 there. Unless you count dry ice. It congeals at -109.3°F or -78.5°C!! So they should look for it piling up on that plateau.

  15. imoira says:

    This news could cool enthusiasm at the AGU meeting. Oh, maybe not.

  16. Allan MacRae says:

    The coldest I’ve experienced is about -50C, not counting the wind chill.

    But it is usually not windy at -50C, at least where I’ve been.

    When you walk on packed snow, it makes a high-pitched squeaking sound – the colder it is, the higher the pitch.

    And the boogers freeze inside your nose…

  17. Lewis P Buckingham says:

    Brian H says:
    December 9, 2013 at 10:08 pm My thoughts too.
    Could CO2 be sublimating in layers in Antarctica? A new way to study climate with a suitable ice/CO2 core.

  18. As Trenberth and Fasullo said:
    “Global warming has not stopped; it is merely manifested in different ways”

    So there yah go… the record cold is irrefutable proof of global warming.

    Do I have to say it? I guess I should: /sarc

    :)

  19. Max™ says:

    If it would help you imagine it better, I’m pretty sure that is cold enough to freeze your breath (and you can hear if fall if it’s quiet), mercury, a bottle of pure CO2 at less than 600~700 millibars, a few of the noble gases under similar conditions as the CO2, oh, and a bottle of nail polish remover!

  20. davidmhoffer says:

    −92 to −94 degrees Celsius (−134 to −137 degrees Fahrenheit) in a 1,000-kilometer long swath on the highest section of the East Antarctic ice divide.

    Don’t get excited folks, they’ll be explaining to us shortly that the colding is regional.

    Would like to see if that kriging or whatever silliness it was they used to calculate temps where there are no thermometers predicted this.

  21. timetochooseagain says:

    Brian H, I believe that figure is for “standard” atmospheric pressure at sea level. Keep in mind this is a high elevation location with significantly reduced surface pressure. I imagine that shifts that number lower.

  22. Janice Moore says:

    “… they’ll be explaining to us shortly that the colding is regional.” davidmhoffer

    LOL. Yes, using that kriging junk science (from Cowtan and Way) where they “interpolated” between ONE point. (eye roll)

    Further to my response to you a couple days ago… I checked out your website not long ago and was so impressed that I was about to urge you to write a post for WUWT. Before doing that, I checked out whether you were already a WUWT article writer and discovered, not to my surprise, that you are. With your EXCELLENT communication/writing ability, your encyclopedic wealth of knowledge, and super-sharp debate skills, I hope that you will post more articles. You are not only a fine de facto scientist, you are a natural at teaching (even possessing the great patience which that job requires).

    Well, just wanted to let you know, fwiw, that I admire your abilities as one of WUWT’s heavy hitters for truth in science.

    With gratitude that you are here,

    Janice

  23. I think the most pressing issue here is how much this evidence could effect calculating global temperature mean. Moving forward, would GiSS do any reconstructions and/or GCM recalculations?

  24. nevket240 says:

    http://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/new-mark-set-for-the-coldest-temperature-ever-recorded/story-e6frflp0-1226779779754

    Their cheek in immeasureable. ‘Unprecedented Global Warming’ with a fabricated data set then they admit there are places on Earth they haven’t recorded temps. Money plays trciks with the mind i think.
    regards

  25. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Brian H says:
    December 9, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    Nope, no CO2 there. Unless you count dry ice. It congeals at -109.3°F or -78.5°C!! So they should look for it piling up on that plateau.

    timetochooseagain says:
    December 9, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Brian H, I believe that figure is for “standard” atmospheric pressure at sea level. Keep in mind this is a high elevation location with significantly reduced surface pressure. I imagine that shifts that number lower.

    The location is at about 10,000 ft elevation, which drops the pressure to about 70% of sea level. This drops the solidification temperature from the -78.5°C Brian reports to about -82°C.

    So Brian is still right, if the temperature is correct it’s enough to freeze CO2. I do find it odd that there would be natural CO2 “snow” and “dry ice” at the surface … what a magical world!

    w.

  26. Max™ says:

    <blockquote.Brian H, I believe that figure is for “standard” atmospheric pressure at sea level. Keep in mind this is a high elevation location with significantly reduced surface pressure. I imagine that shifts that number lower. ~timetochooseagain
    At ~2.8 km the pressure drops under 700 millibars easily, so work from there?

    The value is also for pure CO2, not a mixture with 0.04% CO2 and an accordingly lower vapor pressure.

  27. Stonyground says:

    This story was reported on the BBC breakfast news. I also followed the link provided by DavidS. In both cases there was a total lack of CAGW spin. Is this a first for the BBC?

  28. mark.r says:

    This is how they try to explain the cold away.

    “Just because one spot on Earth has set records for cold that has little to do with global warming because it is one spot in one place”, said Waleed Abdalati, an ice scientist at the University of Colorado and NASA’s former chief scientist

    http://news.yahoo.com/cold-dis-comfort-antarctica-set-record-135-8-231816344–politics.html

  29. Patrick says:
    December 9, 2013 at 10:28 pm. It’s not Prince Harry’s race. HRH is supporting a team of limbless veterans wounded in our Joint war, sorry, nation-building exercise, in Afghanistan

  30. (cont) would that the scions of America’s Great and Good show as much respect to those wounded in your politicians’ great endeavour.

  31. ES says:

    There was a story out today, before they announced the record that conforms that CO2 transforms from a gas into dry ice at -78.5°C

    http://www.weather.com/news/antarctica-sets-cold-record-20131209

    However, it won’t be in the Guinness Book of World Records because these were satellite measured, not from thermometers.

    http://www.weather.com/news/antarctica-sets-cold-record-20131209

  32. jono1066 says:

    I ran an experiment last night.
    my kitchen is now in a real state, food all over the floor, milk bottles standing in the sink and cabbage leaves on the worktop, at least I managed to get all the food out of the fridge, which was a good start.
    After 15 minutes the data logger showed -15 inside and there was just enough room, so by sitting sideways I could close the door. even the light went out so it really felt like the antarctic winter.
    After an hour or so (I left my watch outside just in case it froze to my wrist) even the oxygen levels had decreased and I found it slightly difficult to breath, (I didnt check the percantage but i imagine it was close to an equivalent 10,000 feet) and terminated this first stage test.

    My garage is in a real mess as well now as the chest freezer had to be brought in to play, luckily its a large one and the kitchen fridge fitted neatly inside, (I had to take the hinges off both doors, bolt them together and arrange to close them using gravity.The hole cut in the side to get the cooling coil out can be repaired with a bit of foam after christmas.
    Result of test 2.
    It was still just as dark which suprised me as I thought it would have been twice as dark, I can fudge that data as its subjective so its ok. Now the temperature came down to minus 33 (thats -15 on the fridge and -18 on the freezer just in case someone asks me to provide the raw data) Now that was cold, my jeans froze solid and I need to remember to leave the silk boxer short off and put some uwarmer clothes on for test 3.
    Test 3
    my friend has a cold store so we are going to get the fridge and freezer over their next week to continue, will report back but getting down to -90 is going to be a little challenge, I`m now waiting to see if the guiness book of records got my letter asking for funding.

    Carpe diem

  33. jones says:

    This merely a local weather variation…..

  34. SAMURAI says:

    “The levels of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, traces of water vapor and other gases in the air may impose a more or less uniform limit on how much heat can radiate from the surface,” Scambos said.”

    A yes, one must never forget to mention the evil and omnipotent CO2 molecule, which controls Earth’s global: tipping points, warming trends, cooling trends, stasis periods, record cold temps, record warm temps, normal temps, etc., etc., etc.,…

    When the CAGW theory finally ends up in the trash bin of history, won’t it be wonderful to read an article on climate that DOESN’T feel the need kowtow to the CAGW gatekeepers?

  35. Jimmy Haigh. says:

    I’m sure there was a thread a few years ago when someone mentioned it was cold enough to freeze CO2. Something to do with partial pressures meant that it wouldn’t happen on the Earth’s surface if I recall correctly.

  36. george e. smith. says:

    Well I’ve got every confidence that their satellite knows its Temperatures very accurately. But I would much rather somebody actually put a Thermometer in that cold depression with the cold air, and read the number.

    And at 400 ppm of well mixed CO2 in the atmosphere, and at a high altitude, you can probably count the number of molecules of dry ice on your fingers and toes. Even at 0.1 atmospheres of CO2 vapor pressure, you need to get below -100 deg C.

    I really know the answer to this one; ask Phil ! We were ready to start WW-III over CO2 snow mining rights in Antarctica.

    So nyet on the carbonic flakes !

    PS: the trick to understanding the sublimation transition for CO2, is that at equilibrium, the rate of CO2 molecules (the hot ones) leaving the solid surface is equal to the rate at which atmospheric CO2 molecules crash on the surface and stick. So it’s how many CARBON DIOXIDE molecules are close to the surface and pushing on it. No other molecules in the atmosphere can become dry (CO2) ice, so mox nix what the total atmosphere pressure is; only the CO2 partial pressure matters.

  37. Patrick says:

    “grumpyoldmanuk says:

    December 10, 2013 at 12:08 am”

    True however, in Aussie MSM he is the main focus point and not the points you mention, which, is the real reason for the event.

  38. Eric Simpson says:

    My Real Science comment on this:

    Ok, I’m going to approach this new satellite based -91.2°C cold record with caution, as apparently some Russians scientists are: http://rt.com/news/antarctica-temperature-record-questioned-922/

    Lol though on this from excerpt from the rt link above: “Kunlun station is season-inhabited for a reason: CO2 transforms from a gas into dry ice at -78.5°C so at such temperatures the human body turns into a frozen statue within a matter of minutes.”

  39. High Treason says:

    Well there is your geo-engineering solution. Pump air down to Antarctica to sublimate out the CO2 as dry ice.Now we do not need to listen to the eco-Nazis who say we must stop using fossil fuels and return to the stone age, when the technology of the day could only support about 10 million humans.

  40. Max™ says:

    ^Yup, there isn’t enough CO2 for it to freeze until you get a good deal colder than that.

  41. Dr Burns says:

    I assume the record is after adjustment and homogenization?
    No one uses real data these days.

  42. Peter Miller says:

    Presumably this temperature is pre-GISS manipulation.

    Once these temperature figures are officially ‘homogenised’, then it’s anyone’s guess what they will end up being.

  43. ronald says:

    Hope the prins has his long underwear whit him.
    It’s cold out there.

    Now i know what it is they put at average 0.6 degrees Celsius a month on top of the average temperature. They need to do this to get global warming. From the year 2000 on they put in total 7.8 degrees Celsius on top of the temperature. In the end it’s snooted out whit the long year average but even then this is absurd.

    I was working on a thing to look at what happens if you alter the data so it looks more like reality but for now it wont work because of the messing around whit the data. I can’t simply believe that the average global temperature is 14 degrees. Only chancing the data up cane make it that warm.

  44. cynical_scientist says:

    CO2 at those temperatures would be dry ice.

  45. Alan the Brit says:

    Stonyground says:
    December 10, 2013 at 12:01 am

    In short, YES!

  46. Khwarizmi says:

    Freezing CO2:
    “Partial pressure refers to the amount of force (which is basically equivalent to weight in the Earth’s atmosphere) that the gas exerts in air. At such a low partial pressure, a temperature of less than about -140 C is needed for carbon dioxide gas to be converted to solid carbon dioxide.” etc:

    http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/env99/env188.htm

  47. King of Cool says:

    The Australian Antarctic resupply ship Aurora Australis arrived back in Hobart 07 Dec three weeks behind schedule after encountering heavy sea ice into and out of Davis base.

    Not a skerrick about this on the ABC but don’t we all deserve to know whether this is the new norm?

    http://www.antarctica.gov.au/media/news/2013/aurora-australis-back-home-after-delay-in-icy-seas

  48. tty says:

    “It congeals at -109.3°F or -78.5°C!! So they should look for it piling up on that plateau.”

    No. That temperature applies for pure CO2 at 1 atmosphere pressure. There is only 0.04 % CO2 in the atmosphere, so the partial pressure is only 0.0004 atmospheres (even less actually because of the altitude) so even -94 degrees is far to warm for CO2 to congeal.

  49. George Lawson says:

    As the Aqua satellite is only 30 years old, and the Landsat 8 was launched only this year, the “coldest ever” statement has surely to be read within that context.

  50. EternalOptimist says:

    What a fantastic way to sequester carbon dioxide. We need to build a new continent, right next to Antartica, low lying , to get the full atmospheric pressure and with lots of hollows. Shallow and cracked, we could call it Trenberthica

  51. Max™ says:

    A database has been established for MODIS thermal band radiance values from accurate atmospheric transfer simulations for a wide range of atmospheric and surface conditions. Based on this simulated database, a look-up table and interpolation scheme has been developed for comprehensive studies of the effects of surface temperature and emissivity, atmospheric water vapor, and temperature profiles on MODIS TIR band radiance, and for the development and error analysis of LST algorithms for different land surface situations, with the goal of 1°K LST accuracy.

    Existing spectral emissivity measurement data of terrestrial materials show that the band average emissivities in MODIS bands 31 and 32 are relatively stable and known within approximately 0.01 for some land cover types including dense evergreen canopies, lake surface, snow, and most soils.

    http://modis.gsfc.nasa.gov/data/atbd/atbd_mod11.pdf

    In case people were curious if the scientist mentioned in the RT story has any credibility, no they apparently do not. Arguing that a luminance temperature measurement made under what are effectively ideal conditions for said measurements (no solar reflection to deal with, minimal water vapor, zero cloud cover) are less trustworthy than virtually any type of ground based measurements is ridiculous.

    Oh, and as has been pointed out several times by myself and others, the freezing point of pure CO2 at 1,000 millibars is a lot higher than the freezing point of barely any CO2 at ~700 millibars.

  52. H.R. says:

    On the bright side, at those temperatures, your ice cream will never melt on the way home from the store.

  53. M Courtney says:

    Yes, WUWT covered the idea of CO2 freezing in Antarctica back in 2009. It was wrong then and is wrong now.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/06/09/co2-condensation-in-antarctica-at-113f/

    Simply put, there isn’t much CO2 in the atmosphere – it’s a trace gas – and so it won’t bash into the surface quick enough to replace those CO2 molecules that pop back into the gas phase.

    Phase diagram here:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/06/13/results-lab-experiment-regarding-co2-snow-in-antarctica-at-113%C2%B0f-80-5%C2%B0c-not-possible/

    This story is one of the first signs of the weakness of crowd-sourced science. It needs further study from a media science perspective, not a thermodynamic viewpoint.

  54. bobl says:

    It strikes me that CO2 could well precipitate as CO2 frost, since the CO2 will exist in a range of kinetic energies, much the same way it forms frost on Mars. I’d love to see an experiment to test for CO2 frost.

  55. johnmarshall says:

    The presence of so called greenhouse gasses will help COOL the atmosphere. This plateau is over 2000m high so will be around 19C cooler than the sea level temperature due to the DALR. Whatever, it is COLD and remember this is during the Antarctic SUMMER so it could get colder in winter.

  56. Samuel C Cogar says:

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    December 9, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    I do find it odd that there would be natural CO2 “snow” and “dry ice” at the surface … what a magical world!
    ————

    OH MY, MY, …. another “what if” associated with glacial ice core research.

    ==========================

    tty says:
    December 10, 2013 at 1:33 am

    No. That temperature applies for pure CO2 at 1 atmosphere pressure. There is only 0.04 % CO2 in the atmosphere, so the partial pressure is only 0.0004 atmospheres (even less actually because of the altitude) so even -94 degrees is far to warm for CO2 to congeal.
    ————

    But, … but, ….. but, …… quoting article:

    Under clear winter skies in these areas, cold air forms near the snow surface. Because the cold air is denser than the air above it, it begins to move downhill. The air collects in the nearby hollows and chills still further, if conditions are favorable.

    Just what is the % of CO2 (ppm) in the dense air that collects at the surface or in the nearby hollows?

    That would be a $64 million question ….. given the fact that ice core CO2 proxy data covers the past 100K+ years.

  57. Stephen Skinner says:

    ronald mentioned averages at 1:18 am. Is this temperature data added into the global temp sets that tell us the averages? It strikes me that a few sources or data like this could skew average temps down. But then again there are no standards for establishing average global temps as there are such as the equivalent for Weights and Measures.

  58. If this happened in August 2010, (the record cold) why is it just being reported on now???
    I guess it takes the warmists over 3 years to read a thermometer.

  59. Bill Illis says:

    Considering how cold these temperatures are recorded on “Domes” of ice piled more than 4 kms high containing ice that may be more than 1 million years old near the bottom of the dome …

    … there is probably little ice melt going on here.

  60. rogerknights says:

    How does this affect Steig et al.?

  61. Max™ says:

    1. The record happened in August 2010, Antarctic winter, not summer, johnmarshall.

    2. The ppm of CO2 in the hollows isn’t going to change enough that I would even hazard trying to work it out, gases just don’t work that way, Samuel C Cogar.

    3. The data has been collected and archived no doubt, and it was during a more recent examination that these lows were found in the records, including the new data from the sat launched recently apparently, J Philip Peterson.

    Sometimes there isn’t anyone interested enough to sit and sift through data for stuff like this, or no one free, or funding isn’t available, or any number of other reasons why it is good to have stuff archived and available, even if it isn’t immediately put to use. These satellites produce a HUGE volume of data as they map the entire surface of the planet every couple of days.

  62. RobL says:

    Temperatures that low could be very useful for some industrial processes – like separation of Neon, Argon, Krypton and Xenon and manufacture of bulk Liquid Nitrogen and Liquid Oxygen (needed by many industries such as steel manufacture). It also makes for highly efficient power production – good for things like aluminium smelting and steel production.

    You do need to compress the air a lot but usefully there is very little water vapour to remove and much smaller amounts of energy are required for compression and cooling at -90°C (even at elevation this cold air is much denser than at 25°C sea level. Current production for these trace gases is worth several hundred million dollars per year (mostly as a byproduct of LN2 and LO2 production) and requires liquefaction of something like 50-100 cubic kilometres of air and many GW of power – so could be big savings.

    Would preferably use a nice big nuclear reactor to power it.

  63. philjourdan says:

    Searching for new data is what keeps science going. It is good to see that not all science related to Climate has stagnated due to the team spiking data they do not like.

  64. Unprecedented extreme weather. We’re doomed.

  65. Doug Huffman says:

    From the AP story at Drudge, “Scambos said. But he said scientists do routinely make naked 100 degree below zero dashes outside in the South Pole, so people can survive that temperature for about three minutes.” When will we try a hard vacuum, as Jim LeBlanc did in an early space-suit test?

  66. John M says:

    Here we go again.

    For the “CO2 snow crowd”, as others have pointed out, it’s the partial pressure of CO2 that matters.

    Think in terms of water vapor and dew point. Just because it’s below freezing doesn’t mean it’s going to snow.

  67. Andrewmharding says:

    “The air collects in the nearby hollows and chills still further, if conditions are favorable” Favourable is not the adjective I would use to describe -90 Celsius!

  68. wsbriggs says:

    As many have pointed out, there isn’t a blizzard of CO2. The coldest molecules of CO2 do stick to the surface, and they can be covered by any of a number of other cold molecules, including a few lonely, random H2O molecules. Sublimation will keep surfaces of CO2 from forming, but there will be more CO2 on the ground than in the air, just tike there’s more H2O on the ground than there is in the air. It’s just nature following the partial pressure curve.

  69. John M says:
    December 10, 2013 at 5:14 am

    In addition:
    And just because it is below 100°C (or 212°F), that doesn’t mean that all water in the atmosphere is condensed out as rain…

  70. steverichards1984 says:

    I find it interesting that they said “most of the automated weather stations in the vicinity do not work properly in the dead of winter.”

    How have we measured temperatures at the poles prior to satellite data availability, and what effect could this have on global averages if included?

  71. Richard says:

    These temps are so incredible that you would think the msm would mention it as … well interesting news.

    No mention of the snow storms and low temps in the US either.

  72. Evgueni Kretchetov says:

    May I humbly suggest that this spot will be chosen as the next venue for the Climate Change summit – after all it is a record setter.
    The cold outside should invigorate and concentrate the mind of the delegates.
    Usually they choose lovely warm places such as Durban, and maybe that is why they never achieve any agreement – the sunshine, beaches, mohitos….

  73. more soylent green! says:

    Gosh, if this isn’t a sign that the man-climate ‘pocalypse is upon us, I don’t know what is!

  74. Jeff Norman says:

    ” SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Scientists recently recorded the lowest temperatures on Earth”

    This opening line from the article brought to mind the famous quote: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco”, from Samuel Clemens or Jack London or whomever said it first.

  75. JR says:

    “Just because one spot on Earth has set records for cold that has little to do with global warming because it is one spot in one place, said Waleed Abdalati, an ice scientist at the University of Colorado and NASA’s former chief scientist. Both Abdalati, who wasn’t part of the measurement team, and Scambos said this is likely an unusual random reading in a place that hasn’t been measured much before and could have been colder or hotter in the past and we wouldn’t know.”

    But it is OK to draw warming conclusions from the Arctic using that analysis…./sarc

  76. CAL says:

    It does not seem at all strange that the temperature is around -93C minimum and is similar wherever you look. The plateau is quite near the tropopause which has a temperature around -90C. Above the tropopause the temperature of the air starts to increase again. It is hard to see how the land could get much colder when it is surrounded by such a “warm” blanket. As has been pointed out by others the air above will still have CO2 in it, given the very low partial pressure ( below 0.3 millibars ), and even though it is “very dry” the partial pressure of water will be similar. These molecules will be radiating energy downwards as well as upwards keeping the surface from cooling any more.

  77. steverichards1984 says:
    December 10, 2013 at 5:52 am

    I find it interesting that they said “most of the automated weather stations in the vicinity do not work properly in the dead of winter.”

    The problem is the batteries: no battery works below -50°C and heating costs a lot of energy. Solar cells don’t give help during 6 months of darkness and wind energy only helps when there is wind, which in general is not the case for the coldest periods.

    How have we measured temperatures at the poles prior to satellite data availability, and what effect could this have on global averages if included?

    There are a few stations which are manned year round, which can keep their equipment inside the buildings with the probe outside. I don’t know if these data were/are included in global averages.

  78. PaulH says:

    I guess Al Gore recently visited Antarctica. ;-)

  79. Frank says:

    @A.D.Everard said: “That is COLD. They won’t be popular, looking for cold areas when climate-fretfuls are searching for the missing heat. Good on ‘em.”

    The upside for the warmists is they can measure it next year. If it’s -115, they can do press releases announcing an unprecedented heat wave in Antarctica.

  80. Bill_W says:

    This needs to be incorporated into the global average temperature and then smoothed into adjacent regions ASAP.

  81. Mike Smith says:

    −134 to −137 degrees Fahrenheit and the polar ice is melting?

  82. Slacko says:

    johnmarshall says:
    December 10, 2013 at 3:25 am

    … and remember this is during the Antarctic SUMMER so it could get colder in winter.

    Nope! Look at the map. The records dates are in July and August, the Antarctic WINTER.

  83. ferd berple says:

    “The levels of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, traces of water vapor and other gases in the air may impose a more or less uniform limit on how much heat can radiate from the surface,” Scambos said.
    =====================
    How can the Antarctic be cold when there is (as calculated by NASA) on average 340W/m2 of back radiation due to GHG reaching the surface 24hrs/day 365day/year?

    This is about the same amount as incoming from the sun (what a co-incidence), so why is the Antarctic so much colder than any other place with all this back radiation from CO2 reaching the surface?

    Could it be that H2O, not CO2, is the primary GHG?

  84. ferdberple says:

    Peter Miller says:
    December 10, 2013 at 1:11 am
    Once these temperature figures are officially ‘homogenised’, then it’s anyone’s guess what they will end up being.
    ================
    homogenized = warmer.

  85. michael hart says:

    “Under clear winter skies in these areas, cold air forms near the snow surface.”

    :) It’s not known for its barbecue-summers either.

  86. ferdberple says:

    More than 30 years of data from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) on the NOAA Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite (POES) series gave Scambos a good perspective on what the pattern of low temperatures looked like across Antarctica.
    ==========================
    So why don’t we use this data instead of a few widely spaced thermometers to calculated polar temperatures? Why does the satellite temperature record not have high resolution polar coverage if the data is available? Why do we even bother with surface thermometer readings, given the poor job they do in providing coverage?

  87. beng says:

    Maybe the geo-engineering kooks can set up a CO2 “snow” ski resort at the highest elevation in central Antarctica. The snow-machines would use CO2 cylinders instead of water.

  88. Slacko says:

    jono1066 says:
    December 10, 2013 at 12:17 am

    After 15 minutes the data logger showed -15 inside …
    … Now the temperature came down to minus 33 (thats -15 on the fridge and -18 on the freezer just in case someone asks me to provide the raw data)

    Yeah, I know what you mean. Today it was 32°C outside and 26°C in the house. That’s 58°C.
    (i.e. I’m betting your data logger didn’t show -33°C because your freezer thermostat won’t go down that far.)

  89. ferdberple says:

    “Just because one spot on Earth has set records for cold that has little to do with global warming because it is one spot in one place”, said Waleed Abdalati, an ice scientist at the University of Colorado and NASA’s former chief scientist
    ====================
    yet, almost all the warming is at the north pole. an area where there are few thermometers and poor satellite coverage. even though we now find out there is high resolution data covering 30 years.

    so how, if the warming is mostly at one spot – the Arctic – how can this have much to do with global warming? Doesn’t the fact that most of the warming is only in one place, at one of the poles, doesn’t this argue strongly that this cannot be the result of well mixed CO2?

    Doesn’t this argue that whatever is happening at the North Pole, it must be something related to the North Pole, not to the earth globally? For example, maybe what we are seeing in the Arctic is related to the very high rate of movement of the magnetic north pole. Much faster than at any time previously recorded.

    Is it not much more likely that localized warming at the North Pole is somehow related to other changes at the North Pole, rather then the result of well mixed CO2? How does the well mixed CO2 know to only affect the North Pole but not the South?

  90. Todd says:

    As was linked above, Seth Borenstein is covering this, if only to provide damage control for the cult, noting that record cold doesn’t disprove global warming.

  91. David says:

    … you have to be extremely careful not to freeze part of your throat or lungs when inhaling.

    I’m guessing that writing your name in the snow is probably out then.

  92. Rod Everson says:

    Didn’t read all the comments, so maybe someone’s already asked this:

    If they can use this satellite to measure temps in the inaccessible (in winter) areas of Antarctica then why do they have to “fill in” with math algorithms all those North Pole areas that are missing real temp data? Why not just get the satellite readings for all the areas missing land-based data, instead of essentially using educated guesses?

    Maybe the satellite coverage is not available in the north?

  93. William Sears says:

    As others have already pointed out it is the partial pressure of carbon dioxide that matters in the phase diagram and not the total air pressure. This is a repeat of a discussion from a few years ago. I find that problems such as this are useful indicators as to whether one truly accepts the atomic (statistical) nature of matter, gasses in particular. If you do not, you think that it is reasonable for the air molecules to coordinate their individual motions so as to knock back any solid carbon dioxide molecule in order to prevent it from subliming (Maxwell’s Demon). If you do, you realize that sublimation and condensation are ongoing processes that have to balance on the phase equilibrium line to give a lasting amount of solid. If there is not enough vapor phase to get there the solid disappears, or does not form to begin with.

  94. Steve Oregon says:

    Nitrogen liquefies between -321 F and -346 F. Now that’s cold.
    But would anyone drink it? Yes.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9637665/Teenager-who-lost-stomach-after-drinking-liquid-nitrogen-cocktail-speaks-of-her-ordeal.html

  95. mpainter says:

    ferdberple says:

    December 10, 2013 at 7:30 am

    yet, almost all the warming is at the north pole. an area where there are few thermometers and poor satellite coverage. even though we now find out there is high resolution data covering 30 years.

    so how, if the warming is mostly at one spot – the Arctic – how can this have much to do with global warming? Doesn’t the fact that most of the warming is only in one place, at one of the poles, doesn’t this argue strongly that this cannot be the result of well mixed CO2?
    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Arctic warming has to do with warmer oceans which mean a greater volume of the Gulf Stream circulates into the Arctic Ocean. Thus your lower summer’s end sea ice extent. But now a new equilibrium obtains and the ice minimum will fluctuate as it has the last 4-5 years. There will be no “death spiral”.

    By the way, CO2 cannot warm the ocean. Sea surface temperature is determined solely by insolation; the greenhouse effect has no effect on SST. So much for AGW.

  96. wbrozek says:

    I thought that one reason that the poles would warm more than the rest of the globe is because there are so few water vapor molecules to compete with the CO2 in terms of absorbing and re-radiating certain wavelengths of radiation. It does not look like the CO2 is really that potent.

  97. Greg says:

    More missing heat! That is the ls the final proof, if any was still needed. Only anthropogenic global warming could make it THAT COLD. That is totally unprecedented in all of recorded history.

    Clear proof that CO2 is “toxic”.

  98. Richard M says:

    One of the potential causes of the bi-polar seesaw is variations in the speed of the MOC. When running faster more heat is transported to the Arctic and more cold upwelling occurs around Antarctica. Just the opposite when it slows. The MOC variations on longer scales are likely responsible for the RWP, dark age cooling, MWP, LIA and our current warming.

    If this satellite data is available for both poles it would certainly help understand the recent changes that are only guessed at today. I wonder if Dr. Spencer is aware of this data? Wouldn’t it be nice if this could be included in UAH and RSS data sets.

  99. Dr. Lurtz says:

    They assumed that the heat [keeping the temperatures from getting colder] is coming from the land. Did they take land temperatures? Where is the heat coming from? The land, the atmosphere, those deep not frozen lakes?

    This is why we have trouble understand heat flow around the planet: assumptions.

  100. Richard M says:

    wbrozek says:
    December 10, 2013 at 8:27 am
    I thought that one reason that the poles would warm more than the rest of the globe is because there are so few water vapor molecules to compete with the CO2 in terms of absorbing and re-radiating certain wavelengths of radiation. It does not look like the CO2 is really that potent.

    I initially thought the same thing but I don’t think this helps. The troposphere is non-existent at this location. Hence, the atmosphere above the surface is really the stratosphere. And, AGW predicts cooling of the stratosphere.

  101. Craig Moore says:

    It’s been so cold that the dog had to be chiseled off the lamp post.

  102. Craig Moore says:

    It’s bee so cold that warmist words at the AGU froze in midair and had to put them in a frying pan to thaw so we hear what they were talking about.

  103. Robert Brown says:

    Several comments. Space is not at “3 K”. Space has no temperature, it is a vacuum. Its RADIATIVE temperature is 3 K, which means that anything unheated that is warmer than this will radiate energy away until it reaches equilibrium with this temperature.

    On the other hand, vacuum itself is an “insulator” in the sense that it completely blocks three out of four heat transfer mechanisms: conduction, convection and (assuming a sealed satellite) latent heat — it loses heat ONLY through radiation. Exposed to night sky at a vacuum far from any star, objects cool towards 3 K but they cool more and more slowly the colder they get and it can take a very long time for a large object with a small surface to volume ration to cool. Brown dwarf stars, for example, have no mechanism for producing heat (other than very slow gravitational collapse, perhaps) but will still be “hot” tens of billions of years from now, long after our sun will have burned out and exploded.

    Satellites can be kept warm quite easily, as they are exposed to direct sunlight which (close to the Earth) has a radiance of ~1400 W/m^2. This is large enough that the problem can easily be not heating up too much in direct sunlight, as the cooling rate from the shadow side of a satellite will be much smaller than the heating rate. However, both sunlight and LWIR are easily reflected from shiny metal foil. Hence the invention of “space blankets” — metal coated mylar. Interpose one between the satellite and the sun and it blocks (most of) the heat gain, reflecting the energy without itself heating up much. Interpose one between the satellite and the rest of space and it blocks (most of) the heat loss by reflecting outgoing LWIR back to the satellite. Mount the reflectors on movable shrouds, and you can regulate the temperature of the satellite to stay cool in direct sun or retain heat when one is e.g. in the Earth’s shadow or on a foray through the solar system that takes it first close to the sun and then out into the outer darkness. Up close to the sun, one may even need “radiator” panels — panels shielded from the sun and designed (high surface to volume ratio) to efficiently radiate heat away, perhaps from a compressed fluid as part of an active refrigeration cycle.

    As long as such a satellite is sufficiently close to the sun, solar panels can perform the dual function of providing electrical energy and blocking/reflecting sunlight from the satellite body proper, and one may even need a shielded radiator as noted to keep the satellite cool. Out among the outer planets, where sunlight is weak and nothing changes fast, a satellite needs an internal power supply and needs to conserve the heat it produces. IIRC, satellites destined for the long dark often carry radioisotope (thermal) generators that have very long lifetimes. Basically, things like Plutonium Oxide are mixed up at a subcritical size that produces enough heat from alpha decay that it actually glows a dull red, then surrounded by a solid state thermocouple that directly generates electricity as the heat flows from this heat source to actively cooled surrounding coolant gas. The satellite conserves as much of the waste heat as it needs to to keep the electronics (which also release heat on their own in operation) happy and radiates the rest away.

    Second — regarding the “pegging” of the temperatures close to -100 C — it is worth noting that the sublimation temperature of CO_2 at 1 atmosphere is considerably warmer than this — around -79 C. Up on the plateau the air pressure will be something less than 1 atm (although I didn’t see what it is in the article above) and so the gas-solid coexistence temperature is likely to be very close to the observed temperature. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the cause of the consistent “clipping” of the temperature is that CO_2 is misting out of the atmosphere at that temperature in these pockets, accumulating as CO_2 “snow” that further accretes CO_2 frost on the surfaces. There is an infinite supply of CO_2 (replenished rapidly by diffusion) and so latent heat clips the temperature unless/until the atmosphere is completely stripped of CO_2 (which never happens).

    This could easily be tested, of course. Simply grab a sample of the surrounding surface snow after the temperature has held steady at the CO_2 freezing point for a week or two and measure its CO_2 concentration when it melts.

    It is at least plausible that this process “clips” the Earth’s low temperature during glacial eras, and is one of the processes responsible for the dip of atmospheric CO_2 to near the extinction levels of at least some plants during the Wisconsin. It could also easily be a major factor in the rapid warm up during the initial stages of interglacials — as soon as high arctic and antarctic reservoirs warm up enough to fail to re-freeze CO_2 in the long winter night, the active GHE could easily provide rapid positive feedback and reduce the CO_2 deposition zones, releasing massive amounts of CO_2 to the atmosphere extremely rapidly (but not until well after the warming was underway elsewhere, as this is likely to be relevant only inside the arctic circle or VERY high up — Greenland, Antarctica, and perhaps parts of Alaska and Siberia).

    Of course, this opens up a lot of questions. The upper troposphere is around -80C, which would be cold enough to deposit CO_2 if it were at 1 atm, but is safely too warm at a couple tenths of a bar over most of the Earth. However, if the polar circulations alter and trap cold, inverted air over deposition cells such as the ones below, the troposphere can further cool, extending the depth of the deposition layer and conceivably actually starting to deplete the atmosphere of CO_2 locally. Note that it doesn’t even have to fall to the surface — all the CO_2 has to do is start to clump — stick together when one CO_2 molecule collides with another — and even microscopic flecks of solid CO_2 so small that they never have time to fall out are removed from the GHG equation as the clumps no longer have the same spectrum as isolated CO_2 molecules. Polar cooling could well be nonlinear once atmospheric temperatures reach the deposition point, at which point the atmosphere becomes unstable if it is not well-mixed.

    Ordinarily, of course, it is quite stable. The tropopause is where the atmosphere inverts, with a warmer stratosphere over a coolest tropopause atop a DALR from the surface. But when the surface itself becomes very cold, instabilities can easily form and this is one of them that is at least plausible, although before I believed too much in my own prose I’d want to see a measurement of increased CO_2 deposition in the surface snow of the cold zones and/or direct measurements of atmospheric deposition in the air immediately above them. But this too could be a contributor to the relatively rapid END of interglacials. If periods of deposition are interspersed with periods of heavy snowfall, concentrated CO_2 could get systematically locked up in increasing glacial ice even if it re-sublimates as the falling snow warms it back up above the deposition point.

    rgb

  104. rgbatduke says:

    The problem is the batteries: no battery works below -50°C and heating costs a lot of energy. Solar cells don’t give help during 6 months of darkness and wind energy only helps when there is wind, which in general is not the case for the coldest periods.

    It’s times like this that Plutonium can be your best friend. Nothing like a gentle PuOxide fire to keep your toes toasty and gear powered up for the next few thousand years.

    Shame about that pesky alpha radiation, though. Fortunately, it is pretty easy to shield.

    rgb

  105. Svend Ferdinandsen says:

    It can not be the levels in itself that sets the limit. It can only be the combination of the gasses and that they are as cold as the surface.
    “The levels of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, traces of water vapor and other gases in the air may impose a more or less uniform limit on how much heat can radiate from the surface,” Scambos said.
    He should know the connection, so how can it be that he does not spell it out correctly.

  106. William Sears says:

    rgb,

    Why are you referring to total and not partial pressure?

  107. rgbatduke says:

    I initially thought the same thing but I don’t think this helps. The troposphere is non-existent at this location. Hence, the atmosphere above the surface is really the stratosphere. And, AGW predicts cooling of the stratosphere.

    This is vastly oversimplified. It is true that the atmosphere is often inverted over peak surface cold, so that the atmosphere is warmer above the ground than the ground is, but that isn’t quite the same thing as saying that there is no troposphere, and it certainly has nothing to do with AGW predictions of cooling of the “stratosphere” if you choose to call the inverted troposphere the stratosphere.

    The question of cooling arises when the troposphere, that is effectively opaque to in-band LWIR from ground level up to within a km or so of the tropopause, becomes transparent to in-band LWIR as the absolute density of GHG molecules falls below the levels required to keep the mean free path of upward-directed LWIR photons smaller than the distance to infinity. Near the ground the mean free path is order meters and in-band photons “diffuse” around in the gas, directed down (back to Earth) almost as often as they are directed up, ascending in a random walk of increasing stride as they go up to where the GHGs are less dense.

    In the actual stratosphere, most upward-directed LWIR photons escape. Oxygen and Nitrogen don’t have much bandwidth in the relevant blackbody regime, so they do not contribute much to radiative cooling, but (especially) CO_2 and Ozone and water vapor do and as they are heated by collisions with O_2 and N_2 (cooling the O_2 and N_2 in the process) they radiate away a lot of the heat. Hence cooling.

    In the lower atmosphere — whatever you want to name it — this does not happen. Sure, O_2 and N_2 collide with CO_2 near the surface, but the LWIR the CO_2 radiates away has an even chance of being returned to the surface and has to diffuse all the way to the tropopause before it has a good chance of being radiated away from the Earth. The plain old GHE still works, in other words, as long as the mean free path of the relevant in-band photons is smaller than the optical depth of the atmosphere overhead.

    rgb

  108. timetochooseagain says:

    Thanks everyone for your efforts to set the chemistry record straight on whether that cold weather could cause significant solidifying of CO2. I didn’t realize it was the *partial* pressure that mattered, but I knew pressure would make the difference.

  109. Edim says:

    The bulk of the atmosphere (N2 and O2) is the surface insulator and thus the real GHG (air). The radiatively active gases, especially water vapor are atmospheric ‘coolants’ or ‘radiators’. H20 is also a very effective surface ‘coolant’ or ‘evaporator’.

  110. Edim says:

    H2O, sorry..

  111. Jenn Oates says:

    No, I think the coldest temperature ever recorded on the planet is IN MY CLASSROOM RIGHT THIS MINUTE.

    Or at least it seems like it…

    I posted a link to this story on the book of faces last night and oh, my…it was not appreciated very much by a certain subset of those on my list of friends. They just do not want to hear about this, or the recovery of ice in the north, or cold temps anywhere at all, actually.

    It tastes sweet to me, though.

  112. Day By Day says:

    ClimateForAll says:

    I think the most pressing issue here is how much this evidence could effect calculating global temperature mean. Moving forward, would GiSS do any reconstructions and/or GCM recalculations?

    I agree–factor it in. Of interest is that the coldest temps are between -134 and -137–isn’t that the same for the highest temps ever recorded? between +134 and +139?

    Kinda of a balance there don’t ya think?

  113. CodeTech says:

    Last week, while Alberta was struggling with lows in the -30C’s, some dimwit started spreading the rumor that Alberta currently had the lowest temperatures on the planet. I seriously wonder what planet these people live on. It was laughably easy to find many places far colder than we were.

    And STILL some refused to believe it.

  114. rgbatduke says:

    rgb,

    Why are you referring to total and not partial pressure?

    Because I’m not certain which one is relevant in this context. Bear in mind that the last chemistry class I took was in 1974 and Richard Nixon was (IIRC) still president:-)

    At the molecular level one is balancing nucleation and growth. Colder means that when two CO_2 molecules hit and stick together they have a longer lifetime stuck. Higher pressure means that they have a better chance of losing their surplus energy when they first collide, because energy has to be conserved and the collision is inelastic (meaning there is leftover energy when they are stuck that has to be lost as “heat”). It cannot easily be lost via radiation as the lifetimes are too long. It can (and in general will) be lost in molecular collisions with the surroundings, but those collisions don’t have to be with CO_2 molecules, they can be with anything.

    So yes the probability of a CO_2 molecule encountering another CO_2 molecule definitely increases with partial pressure, the probability of two CO_2 molecules that collide and stick together will remain stuck increases with increasing absolute pressure/density and decreasing temperature of the surrounding gas. The same thing happens with water vapor — water vapor is constantly nucleating tiny droplets consisting of more than one water molecule, but these droplets have a finite lifetime because the surface to volume ratio isn’t favorable when the relative humidity is less than 100%. One thing that I think may be de facto neglected in climate science is that molecules that are stuck together in these finite-lifetime nucleations are pulled out of the effective GHG concentration. That is, the mean concentration may be unchanged, but if 50% of the molecules are stuck to other molecules then one’s assumptions about mean free path and the molecular bands involved are no longer correct.

    The question then is: what is the lifetime of a microcrystal of solid CO_2 in the atmosphere and how does it scale with particle size, absolute pressure, partial pressure, and temperature? I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, but I do know that large blocks of CO_2 are comparatively stable when they are cooled well below -78 C even in 1 atmosphere air with only a tiny CO_2 concentration, just as large blocks of ice — like glaciers — are comparatively stable to sublimation losses at 1 atmosphere even when the air above has almost no humidity at all as long as the temperature is well below the freezing point. I also know that even when the humidity is well below 100%, a cold night can cause water vapor in the upper atmosphere to deposit out directly into ice crystals, causing rings around the moon and so on. I suspect that the equations for nucleation and growth of those crystals are quite different from those for the formation of water droplets.

    Finally, I’m not at all certain that this process would be relevant in the upper atmosphere — the whole point there is that absolute CO_2 density there becomes so low that collisions of any sort with other CO_2 molecules is probably pretty unlikely. But at the surface of the snow, one has all of those lovely ice-crystal corners with high polarizability and strong local fields that can nucleate CO_2 deposition as easily as the deposition of additional water molecules. That is, the local conditions may strongly favor growth even of very small CO_2 crystals because they can get a boost from polar molecule water ice. And of course other aerosols in the air can conceivably do the same thing that they do for water vapor and water ice crystals — form a growth-favoring nucleation site for microcrystalline CO_2 deposition once the temperatures are sufficiently below the freezing point at 1 atmosphere absolute pressure.

    But all of this is pure speculation on my part, of course. However, I like it as an explanation for the apparent temperature clipping better than some unknown atmospheric radiative clipping that produces a sharp temperature. Constant temperature during a period of nominal energy loss smacks of latent heat and phase transition. So what in the atmosphere is undergoing a phase transition around -100C? Not O_2. Not N_2. Not Argon (all of them far colder to the liquid transition, let alone the solid transition). Not even Ozone. Only CO_2, of the substantive components of the atmosphere. So it isn’t a completely insane speculation. Otherwise, good luck with coming up with some sort of radiative-physics-wu magic that permits the surface to cool to “exactly” -93C plus or minus one degree but then stops working. Latent heat can easily explain why it stops working — at that temperature all of the lost heat converts gaseous CO_2 to solid CO_2, warming the surrounding air to maintain the temperature. What else can?

    (And yes, “what else can” doesn’t imply that there isn’t anything else that might be able to do the job and isn’t itself an argument for the hypothesis. It is, however, a genuine question that requires an answer at some point. In the meantime, it would be SO easy to test empirically with a sample of the surface snow, the atmosphere immediately above the surface snow, and a bit of hardware that it is scarcely worth arguing about the hypothesis on molecular chemistry grounds in the meantime…:-)

    rgb

  115. philjourdan says:

    @RGBatDuke – “Bear in mind that the last chemistry class I took was in 1974 and Richard Nixon was (IIRC) still president:-)”

    That depends. Did you take it in the spring or fall? ;-)

  116. _Jim says:

    Robert Brown says December 10, 2013 at 8:47 am

    I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the cause of the consistent “clipping” of the temperature is that CO_2 is misting out of the atmosphere at that temperature in these pockets, accumulating as CO_2 “snow” that further accretes CO_2 frost on the surfaces. There is an infinite supply of CO_2 (replenished rapidly by diffusion) and so latent heat clips the temperature unless/until the atmosphere is completely stripped of CO_2 (which never happens).

    This could easily be tested, of course. Simply grab a sample of the surrounding surface snow after the temperature has held steady at the CO_2 freezing point for a week or two and measure its CO_2 concentration when it melts.

    It is at least plausible that this process “clips” the Earth’s low temperature during glacial eras, and is one of the processes responsible for the dip of atmospheric CO_2 to near the extinction levels of at least some plants during the Wisconsin. It could also easily be a major factor in the rapid warm up during the initial stages of interglacials — as soon as high arctic and antarctic reservoirs warm up enough to fail to re-freeze CO_2 in the long winter night, the active GHE could easily provide rapid positive feedback and reduce the CO_2 deposition zones, releasing massive amounts of CO_2 to the atmosphere extremely rapidly (but not until well after the warming was underway elsewhere …

    Very interesting perspective; I thought this part bore repeating. And thank you for making the that very informative post.

    .

  117. rgbatduke says:

    Spring:-) The next to last chemistry class I ever took was in the fall of 1973. The US got out of the Viet Nam War on my 18th birthday that year, which was good from my point of view as my draft number was 55 and I was not thrilled at the prospect of involuntary servitude in an unwinnable war that was maintained (as the “CAGW of the day”) as a way of transferring large amounts of money from taxpayer pockets into the pockets of the “military-industrial complex”. I’ve read that $0.50 of every dollar spent on the Viet Nam war was stolen, diverted, used as payoffs in inflated contracts, or otherwise vanished into thin air. Pickings are slim for the MIC these days (although they still feast every decade or so on things like the Iraq war) and I suspect that they’ve diversified into the global warming business. One also wonders whether or not Carbon Trading can be used as a scheme to launder money. Oh, wait, of course it can, and already is being so used. Probably not yet competing with barbershops and restaurants at the end of the universe, but anything implemented non-uniformly across an international community with little to no oversight and with the nominal purpose of transferring money from haves to have nots has infinite potential for transforming billions of dollars in e.g. drug money into nice, clean carbon trading profits (or for that matter, into tax write off losses that similarly result in nice clean money).

    The pirates of one generation are often the wealthy entrepreneurs and upstanding citizens of the next, once they manage to wash their sins away in the blood of the lamb at the local cash-only laundromat. Off topic, sure, but perhaps not so much as all that.

    rgb

  118. Doug Jones says:

    rgbatduke, it really is just the partial pressure that matters. Water will condense or frost out as long as the partial pressure in the diluent gas is greater than the vapor pressure of the liquid or solid phase. At the interface there will be a continuous exchange of molecules as some sublime, others frost out.

    With CO2, the same equilibrium statistics will apply. If you had a bag full of pure CO2, yes it would freeze- but the same CO2 diluted to 400 ppm will not produce any frost. The partial pressure of CO2 is not high enough to allow frost to form, just as air with partial pressure of water below the vapor pressure will not form frost.

    To put numbers on it:

    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=vapor+pressure+of+co2+at+136K

    Vapor pressure of CO at 136K: 931uBar

    On the Antarctic plateau at ~2km altitude, the atmospheric pressure is about 0.8 Bar, so
    Partial pressure of CO2: 800,000 uBar x 400e-6 = 320 uBar

    So even at 136K. air is very “dry” with respect to CO2 and no condensation can occur.

  119. I got the notice by email through my Digg account. Here’s what it said in my email:

    Note the little subhead above the main title saying, “Yes, Global Warming is still real.”

    Glad they cleared that up.

  120. _Jim says:

    Doug Jones says December 10, 2013 at 11:07 am

    rgbatduke, it really is just the partial pressure that matters.

    So there we have it; at what partial pressure (at the temperature given above) and then translating that to xxx ppm on that plateau could we expect to see CO2 ‘frost’ appearing?

    .

  121. Prof Sir David King, when he was the UK ‘government scientist’, predicted that by 2100 “the only habitable continent will be Anarctica.”

  122. mountainape5 says:

    In reality they are setting up new thermometers in that plateau so they can claim warming next year and get the $$$.

  123. george e. smith says:

    Seems like some are not convinced that it is CO2 partial pressure that matters in condensation from the vapor phase.
    N2 and O2 molecules cannot condense into CO2 dry ice, no matter how many of them are present.

    For a small volume of “dry ice” the volume and molecule count goes as the cube of diameter. which establishes how many molecules there are at the high energy end of the M-B distribution, to be able to sublime off the surface. The collection of atmospheric CO2 molecules, depends on the surface area, not the volume.

    So the smaller the volume of a dry ice flake, the faster it will sublime, and the slower it will accumulate new CO2 from the atmosphere. So in theory, there is a maximum size that a dry ice blob can grow to at some Temperature below the triple point. I’m guessing that the size is likely too small to be visible.

  124. rgbatduke says:

    So even at 136K. air is very “dry” with respect to CO2 and no condensation can occur.

    Well, maybe, for pure CO_2 with little to no other gas present, such as in the atmosphere of mars (where dry ice snowfall has recently been observed at just 14x the partial pressure of CO_2 on Earth) and where the adiabatic heating produced by the phase transition limits the temperature drop precisely they way I suggest might happen above in Antarctica. But just as aerosols modulate the critical dynamics of nucleation and growth of water droplets, so might they modulate the critical dynamics of nucleation and growth of CO_2 microcrystals.

    Note well I’m not talking about the falling out of huge amounts of CO_2 snow. I’m talking about the possibility that — just as frost lines forms preferentially and at partial pressures too low to actually support “snow” on defects (e.g. scratches) in a cold surface because the local electrochemistry causes surface adsorption potentials to be lowered enough to permit nucleation and limited growth — it may be that snow and ice crystals themselves produce a similarly favorable “defect rich” environment that can collect CO_2 deposition in air where direct deposition is unstable. It would certainly explain the apparently “fixed” lowest temperature, but hey, the observations so far are nearly anecdotal in scope and it may be that in five years they’ll observe a much broader range of lowest temperatures.

    I’ve done a fair amount of work simulating critical phenomena, and the big questions are what is the size distribution function and mean lifetime of microparticle condensates that are ALWAYS forming and breaking up in a gas, as functions of the temperature and partial pressure and composition of any background gas, not whether or not one has reached a macroscopic critical point or a critical size where droplet growth is favored over decay (as is the relevant case for water droplet condensation into clouds). The presence of bare ions of any sort in the atmosphere is enough to shift the distributions significantly for polar water — I have no good feel for what non-polar CO_2 will do. However, I think it is safe to say that the critical temperature you suggest above is a lower bound, and probably doesn’t take into account any sort of heterogeneous surface chemistry that might favor deposition. Note well that there has been a recent paper suggesting that we sequester solid CO_2 in the Antarctic because a block of solid CO_2 has a very, very long lifetime at -90 C and 1 atmosphere — that was the entire point of their argument.

    Either way, I certainly won’t argue — perhaps the hypothesis is implausible and there is some other reason the temperatures are clipping or none at all (because the clipping is an anecdotal accident, not a real effect). It would still be so easy to check experimentally, though. Well, easy if you allow for the fact that one has to travel a long ways and work in extremely dangerous conditions to take the samples in the first place…;-)

    But for all that, it is a lot simpler than travelling to Mars. And wouldn’t it be cool if we could observe spontaneous CO_2 deposition on Earth, catalyzed by surface chemistry or aerosol chemistry to be sure, but even so it would have a potentially large impact on our perceptions of things like the Ordovician-Silurian transition, when an ice age occurred with Mars-like CO_2 partial pressures in the Earth’s atmosphere.

    rgb

  125. sean says:

    “Oh Oh… Its worse than we thought. A new record low – the ice age is coming. We are all going to freeze, and starve, and the ocean is going to rise, after turning into three mile thick glaciers, and wipe our New York city. This is a clear sign that global warming has stopped stopping and has started again with a vengeance. The increase in CO2 emissions by mann is causing this cold spot in the antarctic, just like the models will predict after we tweak a few of the algorithms” — Dr Chick. Little, Senior Climate Seance Holder, Penn State

    About Dr. Little – This Nobel prize winning peer of Dr Mann is acknowledged by every one I asked in Penn State’s physics dept staff lounge at 4 am last night as the worlds best climate grant writer. His work with tree rings is legendary in his own mind, and the cause of many laws suits against jealous deniers who don’t understand that consensus means the debate is over..

  126. Gunga Din says:

    One thing this makes clear, if it took 3 years to realize what the globes lowest recorded temperature is (was?) then we have no idea what the actual “global temperature” is now or was or will be or what effect Man had or has or will ever have on it.

  127. Paul Westhaver says:

    When the temperature sunk into my head I started looking up the boiling temperatures etc of gases. and CO2 is solid at temp < -78C. So I knew you guys would be talking about that.

    So now we can pump all the CO2 to Dome A and form dry ice naturally and just stack it up like firewood. :)

    Is there anyway to industrialize this? :)

  128. William Sears says:

    rgb,

    I understand what you are getting at now and agree that it is possible and maybe even plausible. This would involve very small amounts, maybe even a chemisorbed mono layer, but then there is a lot of surface area on snow. I have done work on adsorption of water vapour on various surfaces and changes in latent heat are seen as additional layers are adsorbed. However usually the relative and not absolute humidity is the important variable. More research is needed. :)

    wms

  129. John M says:

    _Jim says:
    December 10, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    … at what partial pressure (at the temperature given above) and then translating that to xxx ppm on that plateau could we expect to see CO2 ‘frost’ appearing?

    According to this curve , the vapor pressure of CO2 at ~-92ºC is about 250 torr. I’m not sure what the nominal atmospheric pressure on the Antarctic plateau is, but given its latitude and altitude, let’s call it ~550 torr. That means that for simple thermodynamic conditions, air content of CO2 would have to be about 45% (450,000 ppm) in order to solidify as a bulk solid.

    Relative to Robert’s comment about Mars, based on Mars’ atmospheric composition of 96% CO2, average atmospheric pressure of 600 Pa (4.5 torr), and polar temperatures of about -125ºC, one can see why CO2 snow forms on Mars (but just barely).

    The numbers quoted above are based on some quick googling. Remember, you get what you pay for. :)

  130. DonV says:

    Brian, Willis, everyone who has been discussing CO2 condensation/solidification at such a low partial pressure. . . . interesting discussion and thoughts. Made me do a lot of thinking. . . and my mind went in a wierd direction.

    Ozone solidifies at only 10 degrees lower! Since no one has been actually measuring the surface temp over the years, and since ultra low temps would create a self perpetuating sink if auto-solidification plus radiation to space of the latent heat loss occurred . . . could this be an alternative explanation for the fluctuating “ozone” hole over the continent? Could we also actually have a “CO2″ hole?

    This location and these unique conditions just beg for detailed atmospheric gas concentration measurements on the ground! You don’t have to release weather balloons you just have to extend a jar on a long pole out of your igloo with your 14 layer gloves on, wait a little while, remotely cap the jar, then haul it back in and sample what you “captured” with a good Mass Spec in a vacuum chamber!

    And Paul Westhaver, that is where my thoughts went next. What an ideal location for an air liquifaction plant. Raw material is most of the way already there! Course the energy to ship the final product to customers would most likely make it a non-starter, but at the very least, this site is ideal for “ultra” cold research.

  131. DonV says:

    Another thought . . . CO2 is quite a bit more dense than the other naturally occuring atmospheric gases, so at this low a temperature, it has to have a higher partial pressure down at the bottom of depressions than what one would normally expect at this elevation. I would expect CO2 to pool underneath other gasses driving up it’s natural concentration and partial pressure. And every molecule that condenses, releases latent heat which can radiate directly to space – no water to interfere – dropping the local temp even more. I wonder if the temp limit observed might just be due to both ozone and CO2 concentrations reaching near zero, thus stopping the latent heat loss driven cooling.

  132. Max™ says:

    Oh, a simple explanation for the temperature floor effect?

    The stratosphere even at the poles rarely drops below 178K (~-95 Celsius), so getting temperatures below the tropopause to drop further would seem to be thermodynamically unfavorable, as most of the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere should now be capable of losing energy to the surface, wouldn’t it?

  133. Khwarizmi says:

    rgb
    Note well that there has been a recent paper suggesting that we sequester solid CO_2 in the Antarctic because a block of solid CO_2 has a very, very long lifetime at -90 C and 1 atmosphere — that was the entire point of their argument.
    = = = =

    a) What exactly did they suggest we do with the sequestered CO2 throughout summer?
    b) What does a “a very, very, long lifetime,” mean?

    quote:
    =========
    Bottom line, 40g of dry ice placed in an open container at -82C completely sublimated overnight, while 27g of dry ice placed in a zip top bag retained 90% of its mass.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/06/13/results-lab-experiment-regarding-co2-snow-in-antarctica-at-113%C2%B0f-80-5%C2%B0c-not-possible/

    ========

  134. bushbunny says:

    Come on all you scientists, don’t volcanoes have an effect on global temps too. And there are a few in Antarctica. Terrestrial and sub marine.

  135. _Jim says:

    John M says December 10, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    Relative to Robert’s comment about Mars, based on Mars’ atmospheric composition of 96% CO2, average atmospheric pressure of 600 Pa (4.5 torr), and polar temperatures of about -125ºC, one can see why CO2 snow forms on Mars (but just barely).

    Interesting …. possible exemplification of a ‘temperature floor’ effect involving CO2?

    .

  136. _Jim says:

    Max™ says December 10, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Oh, a simple explanation for the temperature floor effect?

    The stratosphere even at the poles rarely drops below 178K (~-95 Celsius), so getting temperatures below the tropopause to drop further would seem to be thermodynamically unfavorable, as most of the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere should now be capable of losing energy to the surface, wouldn’t it?

    Judging from a couple Mark 1 eye-balled mid-chart values, a 20:1 ratio exists between the densities of those two levels (@tropopause and mid-stratosphere) based on pressure alone; an elevated stratospheric temperature would reduce density of that layer further (since it would not seem to be constrained) … meaning the specific heat of the stratosphere could still be less than that at the tropopause … if my logic and reading of the graphs/charts holds …

    .

  137. pat says:

    another opinion:

    10 Dec: Russia Today: Minus credibility? Antarctic record low temperature disputed
    One Russian scientist calls this into question, pointing out the new record was made using remote measurements…
    Yet it would be too early and inaccurate to recognize the temperature record now, Vyacheslav Martyanov, the head of the Russian Antarctic Expedition’s logistics center, told RIA Novosti.
    “It is incorrect to declare a temperature record based on satellite data,” Martyanov said, explaining that AVHRR and MODIS are measuring the so-called ‘luminance temperature’, which does not fully correlate with true meteorological conditions and must be confirmed by observations on the ground.
    “Air temperature is measured according to standards, at the height of 2 meters above the ground, like they do at meteorological observing stations, therefore recognizing a temperature measured by remote sensing is unrealistic,” Martyanov said…
    Still, there is a solid chance to beat the 30-year-old record, believes Russian scientist, and it could be done by Chinese scientists at Kunlun stationed opened in 2009.
    “It is uninhabited in winter time, but if they put a [automatic] meteorological station there – they can register a temperatures lower than at Vostok station,” Vyacheslav Martyanovtold RIA Novosti.
    Kunlun station is situated in Antarctica’s highest region known as Dome A (Dome Argus)…
    Dome A is located some 600 meters higher than Vostok station and scientists believe that temperature here might fall as low as -102°C (-152F)…

    http://rt.com/news/antarctica-temperature-record-questioned-922/

    ——————————————————————————–

  138. rgbatduke says:

    So the smaller the volume of a dry ice flake, the faster it will sublime, and the slower it will accumulate new CO2 from the atmosphere. So in theory, there is a maximum size that a dry ice blob can grow to at some Temperature below the triple point. I’m guessing that the size is likely too small to be visible.

    And I would completely agree. Too small to be visible is not too small to have an impact on air temperatures or on the net GHE, and the size is almost certainly variable with ionic nucleation sites. In fact, I found a recent dissertation on adsorption and desorption of interstellar ices on dust grain analogue surfaces. The physics is not simple. Bear in mind that -93 C is 180 K — that’s pretty cold.

    So now we can pump all the CO2 to Dome A and form dry ice naturally and just stack it up like firewood. :)

    You laugh, but this is a no-shit-sherlock proposal that was recently examined in a peer-reviewed scientific paper. Solar powered CO_2 precipitators in the antarctic that would deposit solid CO_2 and move it deep into the glacial ice where it would presumably sit for a long, long time, safely sequestered. I didn’t read the paper as I’ve already got several unread science fiction novels on my tablet to go through first.

    rgb

  139. bushbunny says:

    Well, there you go, eh? So if a mini ice age occurs in the Northern Hemisphere again, don’t throw away your Ugg boots? Yet!

  140. goldminor says:

    King of Cool says:
    December 10, 2013 at 1:29 am

    The Australian Antarctic resupply ship Aurora Australis arrived back in Hobart 07 Dec three weeks behind schedule after encountering heavy sea ice into and out of Davis base.
    ———————————————————————————————————-
    The Antarctic sea ice index is still showing record or near record ice every day. over the last 60 days. The sea ice anomalies are above average for ice concentration also. There are two large sections of the perimeter that are 50% above average concentration. So not only is the sea ice extent still high, the concentration is also high. Is it possible that the Antarctic sea ice might start retaining a growing amount of that ice from year to year? Could this be a part of the mechanism for the cooling phase that occures with the advent of one of the long term cycles? I would think that such a late melt at those latitudes would add some extra cooling.

  141. Lewis P Buckingham says:

    rgbatduke says:
    December 10, 2013 at 9:50 pm
    Just a bit more lateral thinking. CO2 trapped in air pockets in freezing ice would tend to be
    compressed as the ice froze thus increasing the partial pressure of CO2 within the trapped air.

    This would not increase the total initial amount of CO2 in the ice, but would make desublimation of CO2 more possible.

  142. Samuel C Cogar says:

    Max™ says:
    December 10, 2013 at 4:41 am

    2. The ppm of CO2 in the hollows isn’t going to change enough that I would even hazard trying to work it out, gases just don’t work that way, Samuel C Cogar.
    —————

    Are you telling me that said denser air at the surface does not contain a greater number of CO2 molecules per unit volume ….. and which is subject to being “trapped” by either fresh snowfall or blowing snow …. and subsequently being “counted” by ice core researchers …. thus resulting in a highly inflated atmospheric CO2 ppm estimate?

    And I was wondering, how does one know if the “layer of ice” …. in the ice core ….. was the result of a snowfall(s) or the result of wind-blown snow?
    ——————-

    And I liked what Robert B said so I will include the following:

    Robert Brown says:
    December 10, 2013 at 8:47 am

    I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the cause of the consistent “clipping” of the temperature is that CO_2 is misting out of the atmosphere at that temperature in these pockets, accumulating as CO_2 “snow” that further accretes CO_2 frost on the surfaces.

    This could easily be tested, of course. Simply grab a sample of the surrounding surface snow after the temperature has held steady at the CO_2 freezing point for a week or two and measure its CO_2 concentration when it melts.

  143. philjourdan says:

    @RGBatDuke – you got a year on me. But then of course they ended the draft after 1974. As my number that year was 310 that year, I was less “concerned” than you. But alas the fall of 74 was also the last Chemistry class I took. So you think Taking Chemistry is cause for presidents resigning? ;-)

  144. Gary Pearse says:

    “The measurements were made between 2003 and 2013″

    And, pray, why were they not reported until now!!! Shameful.

  145. G. Karst says:

    rgbatduke says:
    December 10, 2013 at 8:54 am

    Shame about that pesky alpha radiation, though. Fortunately, it is pretty easy to shield.

    rgb

    A sheet of heavy construction paper would suffice as shielding. Can’t get any easier than that! GK

  146. Max™ says:

    Are you telling me that said denser air at the surface does not contain a greater number of CO2 molecules per unit volume ….. and which is subject to being “trapped” by either fresh snowfall or blowing snow …. and subsequently being “counted” by ice core researchers …. thus resulting in a highly inflated atmospheric CO2 ppm estimate?

    And I was wondering, how does one know if the “layer of ice” …. in the ice core ….. was the result of a snowfall(s) or the result of wind-blown snow? ~Samuel C Cogar

    The air pressure at that altitude is around 600~700 millibars anyways, and gases diffuse so any instantaneous increase in concentration represents a decrease elsewhere, so it is unlikely to be anything more than a brief fluctuation.

    Additionally the CO2 and other gases trapped in ice cores are generally able to mix with the atmosphere freely until the snow is compressed to a certain point and traps bubbles.

    Wind blown snow will probably be lighter, while the layers compacted into ice are generally from the year before and had some melting occur on top, letting water filter down inside and glue the snow together more effectively until sufficient accumulation compresses it into ice.

    ____________

    On a lark I decided to work out what latitudes would get solar heating in the stratosphere even in winter.

    Go go gadget trig! Take the polar radius to be ~6350 km, then a 90 degree tangent from the arctic circle intersects a cone from the center of the planet with sides ~6400 km long around 75 Degrees South.

    Everywhere further north than there can receive stratospheric heating during the local winter, locations further south are unlikely to get direct solar heating in the stratosphere outside of spring/summer/fall.

    The domes and ridges in the story are around 77~79 S, hence the regular plunge in stratosphere temperatures, and I find it unlikely to be coincidental that the stratosphere and these surface cold traps both drop to almost the same temperature before bottoming out.

  147. Chris R. says:

    To rgbatduke & G. Karst:

    The plutonium-238-powered RTGs on the Voyager space probes
    are still going strong!

  148. The coldest place on earth is not quite cold enough to solidify CO2. But this discussion leads me to wonder whether solid CO2 is likely a part of the Snowball Earth geography. This potential CO2 phase transition during ice ages can answer some puzzles about paleoatmospheres.

    See WUWT Oct 6, ‘2013 We Must Get Rid of the Carboniferous Warm Period

    Willis’ chart makes clear how the partial pressure of CO2 affects the temperature of sublimation. Could the glaciation of the Proterozoic and Ordovician have had conditions where a CO2 rich atmosphere (partial pressures of 0.1 to 2.0 atmospheres) could lean out precipitating dry-ice onto the thick ice caps? (rgbatduke at 2:11 pm also mentions the Ordovician-Silurian transition in the context of possible CO2 deposition and sublimation).

    I can imagine that once the dry ice sublimes, a positive feedback can occur by raising the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and raising temperature to compensate for the raising of the sublimation temperature at higher partial pressures. So the Silurian and Carboniferous could have had thick atmospheres, rich in CO2. Perhaps CO2 was sublimating at the poles while plant life was burying carbon into the massive coal beds of the Carboniferous age.

    The source for all that carbon in Carboniferous coal has been a puzzle for me. The gigantism of flora and fauna in the Carboniferous and Mesozoic, particularly with respect to large fliers, leads me to challenge the assumption of near-constant atmospheric pressure. A big problem is once the atmosphere is at 1 to 2 atm in the Cambrian, how can you reach 5 atm in the later Paleozoic? Is a dry-ice reservoir on the polar ice caps a potential way of parking a large CO2 source?

    The counter argument is that it would have to exist (at least on and off) almost half a billion years between Snowball (or earlier) and the Carboniferous and maybe the late Mesozoic. More CO2 would have to freeze out during the polar winters than could sublime in the summers. Latent heat budgets coupled with IR radiation and emissivity of dry ice might hold some surprises.

  149. RE: Philip Mulholland :Oct 8, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Studies of the fossil flora at Rancho La Brea Tar Pits in California suggest that during the depths of the last ice age, the land plants were suffering from CO2 deprivation.

    How would it be possible for CO2 concentrations to fall during an ice age when growing seasons are short and growing regions are restricted to the lower latitudes? Do we have algal blooms in the tropical oceans sequestering carbon. If so, how does the CO2 return when it warms? Can that much more CO2 be dissolved in the oceans with today the bulk of the oceans are only a couple degrees above freezing?

    Is it possible that CO2 was solidifying on the high ice caps as recently as the Paleocene Ice Ages? Solid CO2 would acting as a reservoir to quickly sublime CO2 back into the atmosphere when the warming is started?

    The solidification of CO2 at partial pressures less than 0.0004 atm may require colder surface temperatures than can be attained, even on a 3-4 mile high ice plateaus in the depth of an ice age. Given the cold temps reported today, is it out of the question?

    (Thinking out loud…) Alternatively, could CO2 snow nucleate on cold-dust particles a mile or two in the atmosphere? Then fall to bring a colder regional downdraft to the surface? Hmmm…. we’d have to see layers of dust particles left behind after the CO2 sublimes. We probably don’t see that.

  150. Samuel C Cogar says:

    Max™ says:
    December 11, 2013 at 11:24 am

    The air pressure at that altitude is around 600~700 millibars anyways, and gases diffuse so any instantaneous increase in concentration represents a decrease elsewhere, so it is unlikely to be anything more than a brief fluctuation.

    Additionally the CO2 and other gases trapped in ice cores are generally able to mix with the atmosphere freely until the snow is compressed to a certain point and traps bubbles.

    Wind blown snow will probably be lighter, while the layers compacted into ice are generally from the year before and had some melting occur on top, letting water filter down inside and glue the snow together more effectively until sufficient accumulation compresses it into ice.
    ————-

    Your obfuscations simply amaze me.

    And it is obvious to me that you have never traveled or lived in “snow country” and thus have never experienced the “effects” of wind-blown snow, …… specifically in relation to its potential for creating “drifts” and/or accumulating mass quantities in surface depressions. .

  151. Max™ says:

    Has nothing to do with obfuscation, gas diffusion is a thing which involves the statistics of large numbers of molecules, so there can be local increases and decreases in concentration, freshly wind blown snow hasn’t been compacted for a year like the layers which remain after a prior melt season, water filtering down into the lower layers and freezing is indeed a significant part of the process by which gas bubbles become sequestered in ice, and though it has no relevance to my point because your anecdotes regarding “the effects of wind-blown snow” don’t matter*, and anyways you’re just a little mistaken as I’ve been through all but a handful of the 48 contiguous states and experienced feet of snowfall a few times in my life.

    *”The plural of anecdote is not data.”

  152. Samuel C Cogar says:

    …. freshly wind blown snow hasn’t been compacted for a year like the layers which remain after a prior melt season, water filtering down into the lower layers and freezing is indeed ….

    And just what is the temperature of the snowpack that resides on the surface of glaciers in Antarctica?

    Is it >1C or 33F?

  153. Max™ says:

    Yes yes, I was repeating rote facts from a powerpoint I did on the McMurdo Dry Valleys last term, and accidentally included the mechanisms involved there, nonetheless there is a layer of snow which has been compressed enough to trap bubbles and there are layers above them which have not. Meltwater interferes with this process in ways by tainting the lower layers as it more rapidly mixes and traps gases after refreezing.

  154. Lewis P Buckingham says:

    Stephen Rasey says:
    December 11, 2013 at 11:57 am
    Laterally looking for a mechanism that would increase the pp of CO2 so that it may desublime at temperatures available in the Antarctic atmosphere over time, such as now or as suggested by others, during glaciations.
    My suggestion is that as ice forms, eg in ice crystals,trapped dissolved CO2 would be compressed as the crystal, ie snowflake, formed and further froze, so reaching gaseous CO2’s triple point.

  155. Samuel C Cogar says:

    Max™ , it matters little whether you have trapped air bubbles or meltwater ….. because the meltwater will absorb the CO2 from the air bubble thus creating carbonic acid.

    Every raindrop that fall to the earth’s surface contains carbonic acid.

  156. Norm says:

    I am surprised the CBC mentioned the record cold temp. They are vewy vewy quiet on the arctic ice being at 1990 levels, and of course the Anarctic growing every year, and other record cold temps around the world

  157. Brian H says:

    Just been reading up on methanogenic archaea, active from +10°C to – 15°C. My shaky faith in ice core bubble analysis just got futher shook. That’s a wide transition band for CO2 and H2O to get morphed into CH4. Snowing and icing are far from the passive processes postulated by Climate Fabulists.

  158. Samuel C Cogar says:

    My shaky faith in ice core bubble analysis just got futher shook.
    ————–

    Ice core CO2 Proxy Records are as ….. highly questionable …. as is the 1st 100 years of Surface Temperature Records.

    Said recorded surface temperatures were NEVER meant to be used for “calculating average monthly or yearly temperatures” for future scientific purposes, therefore there was no need or desire to insure their accuracy. A +- 2 to 3 degree variance to actual was surely sufficient enough for what they were being used for.

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