The Arctic Oscillation Index goes strongly negative

In the last month, the Arctic Oscillation Index (AO) has gone strongly negative. You can see that it headed to its negative peak right about the time the Copenhagen Climate Conference started, so it is no wonder that they ironically experienced cold and snow there. It is also a setup for the record snow and cold Canada and the USA has seen recently.

click to enlarge

Source: NOAA Climate Predication Center Daily AO Index

With this change happening, the setup for an increased Arctic Sea Ice Maximum is enhanced this year, likely to happen sometime around March 1st, 2010.

NSIDC has an interesting writeup and graphic on the AO:

Image from NSIDC: artwork by J. Wallace, University of Washington

From NSIDC:

The Arctic Oscillation refers to opposing atmospheric pressure patterns in northern middle and high latitudes.

The oscillation exhibits a “negative phase” with relatively high pressure over the polar region and low pressure at midlatitudes (about 45 degrees North), and a “positive phase” in which the pattern is reversed. In the positive phase, higher pressure at midlatitudes drives ocean storms farther north, and changes in the circulation pattern bring wetter weather to Alaska, Scotland and Scandinavia, as well as drier conditions to the western United States and the Mediterranean. In the positive phase, frigid winter air does not extend as far into the middle of North America as it would during the negative phase of the oscillation. This keeps much of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains warmer than normal, but leaves Greenland and Newfoundland colder than usual. Weather patterns in the negative phase are in general “opposite” to those of the positive phase, as illustrated below.

Over most of the past century, the Arctic Oscillation alternated between its positive and negative phases. Starting in the 1970s, however, the oscillation has tended to stay in the positive phase, causing lower than normal arctic air pressure and higher than normal temperatures in much of the United States and northern Eurasia.

As we see in this graph below, we’ve seen more red (positive) than blue (negative) phases of the AO in the last 30–40 years. Whether this is short period negative excursion or the start of a longer trend is unknown.

Click to enlarge - The standardized 3-month running mean value of the AO index. The departures are standardized using the 1950-2000 base period statistics.

Source: NOAA Climate Prediction Center

There are other indicators recently of a flip in patterns, notable is the Pacific Decadal Oscillation which changed last year, but we also see the North Atlantic Oscillation in a negative phase as well. Whether it will remain negative or not we’ll soon know, but note that it has been negative the majority of time since August 31st.

click to enlarge

Source: NOAA Climate Prediction Center

Since 2000, it has seen a fair amount of negative time also:

click to enlarge

Source: NOAA Climate Prediction Center

The climate change seems to be changing now.

h/t to Werner Weber

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Kevin Kilty

Well, whadya’ know. Just as Pamela Gray said a few threads ago.

So this would suggest the possibility of an extended cooling period?

Evan Jones

Yes, the North Atlantic Oscillation and the Arctic Oscillation (a/k/a Northern Annular Mode) are believed to be linked. If both go over to full negative phase, it will add a cooling influence to current climate.
The AO has been in overall positive (warm) phase since 1989 and the NOA since around 2001. Based on past patterns, they would be expected to remain in warm mode for another decade or two, but if they do a major early shift, all bets are off.

Mark

This is very interesting stuff… Thanks Anthony!

DirkH

I’m in Germany. I want my warm winters back. I hate those arctic blasts. It nearly made me crash my car last week. Look at the way that arrow points over Europe. It’s the wrong direction now!

Evan Jones

So this would suggest the possibility of an extended cooling period?
If there is an early shift in NOA/AO and if the PDO has genuinely turned negative, yes, there is a distinct possibility.
The NOA/AO is the atmospheric component. If the oceanic component (the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation) follows along, that will be another indication.

mark in austin

wow…how quickly might we see fruit of this? it would be so funny if we reached a new IJIS maximum in march. any chance of this?

Adam from Kansas

So if trade wind strength is influenced by the AO, does that mean ENSO is also influenced? As a major driver of ENSO changes is driven by the trade wind strength which is influenced by the AO?

Weather is NOT climate.
-10 F in Minneapolis tonight.
BURRRRrrrrr……
Max

Methow Ken

WRT the NSIDC graphic on the AO; specifically the negative phase:
Oh; WONDERFUL:
The big, black ”cold” arrow diving down thru the middle of North America in the negative phase goes right thru northern ND; which is where I will be for the next few months. Last winter it got down to minus 41.7 degrees BELOW zero F. one morning. Wonder what we have to look forward to in ND in 2010 (we already had a pretty good approximation of an old-time 3-day blizzard). . . .

R. Craigen

The NSIDC graphic suggests that during negative phase AO, Britain should experience sunny, cool, dry weather. But it has had much the opposite. Are we to take it that the arrow shown coming over Europe has, in this negative cycle, moved farther to the West than normal? Perhaps a test of this would be what is happening in Iceland and Greenland? Given the way “normal” weather patterns vary, one would expect the sunny, dry weather to be realised farther out in the North Atlantic area. Or perhaps the NSIDC graphic is full of S*&*% or so wildly general as to be almost useless for the purposes of interpreting the current phase change.

DirkH

BTW Mojib Latif , german Climatologist in Kiel, has predicted something like this with a computer model that incorporates the thermohaline convection. He’s a convinced warmist and warns that this will give us only a break before rapid warming happens (no surprise there).

Peter of Sydney

How come all this cooling around much of the world over the recent few months is not reflected in the official surface temperature readings as reported by NASA? I smell a rat.

MattN

Medium-range models have us VERY cold here in NC a few days after New Year’s.

geo

Would this be a good thread to note that “natural variation” as an explanation is something I still find unsatisfying, even if accurate? To me, it still is just hiding another deeper level of detailed processes that we still don’t understand. There must be a process or group of processes that is/are susceptible to understanding that causes “natural variation”, and would thus would be at least predictable if understood. Or in other words, *why* did the AO just turn negative, and I don’t want to here “natural variation” as the answer, even if it is an accurate one. If you ask me “what is 2+2?” and I answer “Not less than 3 and not more than 10”, then I’ve given you an accurate answer. . .but not the best one that should be able to be arrived at.

Barry L.

Seems they were bang on (from 2003):
Quote,
Finally and importantly, it should be noted that the factors appear to have recently changed to modes favoring a cooling. If so, the recent winters of 2000/01 (coldest ever November and December for the United States) and 2002/03 (one of the coldest in the eastern states in many decades) could be sign of things to come.
Global Cooling About to “Kick-in”?
An Alernative View on Climate Change
http://www.biblelife.org/globalwarming-kick-in.pdf

Pamela Gray

I would surmise that a mix of warm ocean and cold atmospheric conditions with the right “negative” bent would result in a build-up of snow and a regrowth of glaciers over time. If everything turned cold, then rivers would freeze, precip would dry up, and many areas will be ice-locked. Larger water sources would continue to build up and create large ice dams. If a thaw then took place, we would have severe flooding in many areas. An all cold scenario is not to be wished for, especially if followed by warmth and rain.

shellback

Watts up with the south pacific? (SST anomilies)
This looks very strange to me. I don’t have the time right now to dig
through NOAA archives, but the Gulf Stream looks peculiar also.
Interesting times eh?

What would be really interesting is seeing a 3d volumetric time series in fine resolution of the entire atmosphere and ocean currents. I wonder if this is even possible given the current set of data collected from the various satellites and other data collection equipment in play today. This fine resolution volumetric visualization mapped onto Google Earth in real time or near real time would enable people, just about anyone, to see a detailed map aka representation of what is going on with the planet at any given moment in time. Correlate the upper atmosphere and solar winds and influence of the moon as Piers Corbyn alleges would also be fascinating.
It sure looks like Piers Corbyn called it right using a forecasting model based upon the Arctic Oscillation Index and comprehension of the diagram you show above. Cold blowing across Europe and Canada/USA in the NO graphic as Piers forecast. Fascinating.
pwl
http://pathstoknowledge.net/2009/12/28/long-term-weather-forecasting-with-piers-corbyn

Pamela Gray

I am also guessing that the jet stream, pressed upon by El Nino and trand wind behavior, would bring about some variation in the predictions globally portrayed above under a negative AO.

Manfred

the picture on the right looks exactly like Corbin’s long term prognosis, with cold in the US and much of europe and storms in mediterranean europe.
the questions are,
how Corbin predicted the shape of the AO in advance,
and, why the hadley center has not been able to do so, let alone attributing AO variability as a or THE major factor of european warming in1979-2000 ?

photon without a Higgs

This is very bad news for those who say Arctic ice is in a ‘death spiral’.
REPLY: The diagnosis was wrong, it just had a bad case of a cold. -Anthony

geo (20:05:53) :
Would this be a good thread to note that “natural variation” as an explanation is something I still find unsatisfying, even if accurate? To me, it still is just hiding another deeper level of detailed processes that we still don’t understand. There must be a process or group of processes that is/are susceptible to understanding that causes “natural variation”, and would thus would be at least predictable if understood. Or in other words, *why* did the AO just turn negative, and I don’t want to here “natural variation” as the answer, even if it is an accurate one. If you ask me “what is 2+2?” and I answer “Not less than 3 and not more than 10″, then I’ve given you an accurate answer. . .but not the best one that should be able to be arrived at.

Well when people say Natural Variation it is in contrast to Anthropological Global Warming… That is not to say that there are not definitive mechanisms that we are not learning about and peeling away from climate science. TO be honest the true sad story is that AGW and it’s backers have pretty much hijacked the real science funding that was going about and peeling back the first real layers of understanding that we were developing. that is not to say that it is not still going on only that the true scientists that are studying have to homage to the great AGW story in order to get funding.
As far as the ‘Natural Variation’ goes it is all about peeling back layer upon layer of complexity. Nothing in the climate system does not touch something else but the feedback and responses to any added variable are fluid in nature. Meaning hat there are SO MANY VARIABLES to account for. This is one of the reasons why CO2 is a scapegoat rather then anything else. Just because in physics it says CO2 retains heat better then say nitrogen does not mean that by introducing CO2 into the atmosphere we will have an overall warmer climate… It also does not mean we will not have a warmer climate… You have to account for Solar radiance, tidal flux, oceanic currents, magnetic resonance, cosmic rays?, Tectonic movement, solar wind, cloud cover, evaporation, solar winds, UHI, and probably a few tens of things we have not learned enough about to ask the correct questions about. So while someone else may be able to answer your question as to what mechanism CAUSED the arctic to get colder I welcome the response, but what we have learned at the vary least is the cause and effect of when it does this and the knowledge that it does in fact change. I know that may not seem like a great answer but it is all I got, anyone else?

Bob Shapiro

“Source: NOAA Climate Predication Center Daily AO Index”
Is the 1st source supposed to be a more logical forecast center?

John Blake

Over the last 1.8-million years, cyclical Pleistocene ice ages have averaged some 102,000 years interspersed with median 12,250-year interglacial epochs. Since the Pleistocene Era is barely one-seventh through its statistically-alotted span, this well-defined pattern should recur for another 12 – 14 million years.
Though Earth’s latest ice age lasted from about 116,400 – 14,400 years-before-present (YBP), continental ice sheets did not fully recede prior to c. BC 8800 (10,800 YBP). Our current Holocene Interglacial Epoch, however, was set back 1,500 years to BC 7300 by a so-called Younger Dryas “cold shock” induced by cometary/meteorite debris impacting Earth from Sol’s enveloping Oort Cloud (qv). Though Earth’s Long Summer should have ended about AD 500, coincident with the Fall of Rome, odds now are that the Holocene was due to end about AD 2000 + (12,250 – 12,300) = AD 1950. As warmth rebounds from the 500-year Little Ice Age that ended c. 1850 – ’90, Earth enters on a 70-year “dead sun” Maunder Minimum which may well tip the planet to Ice Time once again.
Milankovich orbital cycles, various intra-solar and cosmic radiation factors are all very well, but Ice Ages are at bottom geophysical phenomena tied to Wegener’s “continental drift”, aka plate tectonics. When Gondwanaland clumped all Earth’s landmasses together at the South Pole, pre-Cambrian ice ages lasted up to 500-million years. For some 300-million years before the Pleistocene, continental dispositions precluded freezing because most lay in temperate zones. Now that North and South American continents wall off eastern from western hemispheres, interfering with deep-ocean currents that drive atmospheric convection circulation, it seems that landmass configuration lends itself to oscillating temperature regimes.
Like botany, climatology is a classificatory rather than experimental science– hindsight derives data which may serve to formulate hypotheses, but Lorenz’s Chaos Theory renders linear extrapolations mathematically impossible for complex systems. So we rely on cyclical phenomena, alternating peaks and troughs of varying amplitude and frequency that cancel and reinforce at intervals to produce extended stable periods, which in fact are no such thing.
Given Luddite sociopaths’ willful sabotage of the U.S. energy economy since early 1970s, we can only hope that Ice Time will be deferred a few more centuries. But as contrary evidence accumulates, odds of that grow very slim. And what will Cock Robin do then, poor thing?

photon without a Higgs

REPLY: The diagnosis was wrong, it just had a bad case of a cold. -Anthony
————————–
Like the doctor who orders emergency heart surgery for a case of indigestion?

crosspatch

“The NSIDC graphic suggests that during negative phase AO, Britain should experience sunny, cool, dry weather. ”
It would depend. I believe that graph shows the extreme states. So if the jet is South of you, the storm track would be into Spain and Northern France. But it doesn’t switch from maximum positive to maximum negative, it varies between the two. So right now it would seem that the storm track is across England. If it were to go more negative, you would see the jet drop South of you and you would be sunnier and drier.

Mapou

Can someone please explain in simple language what the implications are with respect to the AGW hypothesis.

geo

Innocentious (21:14:18) :
You make a good point about AGW research funding crowding out other climate research.
I just sometimes feel a need to raise the flag of science against accepting “natural variation” as a sufficient explanation –I just get a little hackle-raising going against the “Posoiden Is Angry” feeling it evokes.

Squidly

OT .. I know this is OT, but I ran into this through a post from over at the AirVent. This is a Finnish TV broadcast concerning ClimateGate. I highly recommend watching (sub-titles). I wish someone would broadcast this kind of thing in the media here in the US.
(3 Parts)
http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=Gunnon1#p/u/0/unKZhr3JMhA

photon without a Higgs

Charlie Martin (19:25:46) :
So this would suggest the possibility of an extended cooling period?
One thing we can see is that those who forecast a cold winter in the US look right. They are Joe Bastardi, Piers Corbyn, and The Farmers Almanac.

Roger Knights

the setup for an increased Arctic Sea Ice Maximum is enhanced this year, likely to happen sometime around March 1st, 2010.

Can someone point me to the site that is the most generally accepted source(s) (by AWGers) for daily listings of arctic ice extent? TIA.

Michael

So, what does the varying density of the upper and lower atmosphere during solar max and solar min have to do with it. The density of the atmosphere does change due to the intensities of the magnetospheres of the earth and sun during these periods, does it not?

AndyW

The Arctic Dipole pattern will have to be taken into consideration too I suppose for estimates on maxima. Currently it is not very active it seems.
Andy

Michael

Is it sort of like a plunger effect, pushing the cold down to lower latitudes when we get into these periods of solar minimum?

Snowguy716

This strongly negative AO has been a surprise. There has been a very strong bout of stratospheric warming over much of northern Eurasia as well as North America and the north Atlantic with strong cooling over the high Arctic and at lower latitudes.
The El Niño has also had an effect… the weaker trade winds has no doubt also weakened the polar jet stream, allowing it to buckle more.. which kind of reinforces the negative AO. Also, the amplified southern jet means more uplift in the southern U.S., so cold air is drawn southward from the relatively high pressure up north in Canada.
It could be a sign of a weaker sun… the stratosphere overall is very cold but the lack of energy input from the sun easily could be causing the winds in the stratosphere to snag which would create larger areas of anomalies.
Who knows… but this does appear to have an extraterrestrial signature to it… whether it’s the sun, or alignment of planets.. who knows.
Either way, the AO has clearly been more negative since the mid 1990s than it was during the 80s and early 90s… so to suggest that it is somehow going more positive thanks to GHG warming is ridiculous.

Austin

There is still snow in the shade in North Texas with more due tomorrow.
Looking at the models, I see some extremely cold air forming in the Arctic. Ten years of looking at these models, I don’t recall seeing such a large pool of -50 c air before. And given that these models have underdone actual temps by 3-5 degrees C, I wonder if its underdone and if the models themselves cannot go any colder anyways.

el gordo

Does anyone know what the NAO, AO and PDO were doing in the hard winter of 1780?

John F. Hultquist

Mapou (21:36:00) : You wrote: “Can someone please explain in simple language what the implications are with respect to the AGW hypothesis.”
If AGW were a legitimate scientific hypothesis it would have died years ago. This too would be enough to kill it.
However, AGW is more religion-like than it is science. So the answer to your question –it seems to me- is “Not a thing!”

photon without a Higgs

Peter of Sydney (19:53:38) :
How come all this cooling around much of the world over the recent few months is not reflected in the official surface temperature readings as reported by NASA? I smell a rat.
He has poor taste in clothes too.
JK 😉

savethesharks

Evan Jones “The NOA/AO is the atmospheric component. If the oceanic component (the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation) follows along, that will be another indication.”
Well the AO and the NAO definitely are tandem with one another. However, the AMO is its own beast (possibly linked, however with ENSO and PDO ).
WE are on the crest of the multi-decadal AMO….so, of statistics are to be believed, it will be a few years before it turns negative….
http://digitaldiatribes.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/amoraw200908.png
Great post here. Truly….the AO and the NAO are like fraternal twins: they are still twins. And you know how twins behave.
Chris
Norfolk, VA, USA

savethesharks

Austin (22:17:36) :
There is still snow in the shade in North Texas with more due tomorrow.
Looking at the models, I see some extremely cold air forming in the Arctic. Ten years of looking at these models, I don’t recall seeing such a large pool of -50 c air before. And given that these models have underdone actual temps by 3-5 degrees C, I wonder if its underdone and if the models themselves cannot go any colder anyways.

It is interesting how Mother Nature really does snap back. Years and years of positive height anomalies and hot HOT temps over TX and OK….are finally getting their payback….in the opposite direction.
The rubber band theory at work. Interesting times for the big D and the OKC.
Chris
Norfolk, VA, USA

wayne

Anyone know? In a negative AO do the weaker tradewinds off of the Sahara tend to keep most huricanes in the Atlantic and east of the gulf. Weaker also?

Michael

Oil and corn rise as winter bites
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/dcccd322-f3be-11de-ac55-00144feab49a.html
Even the liberal media must acknowledge the cold when oil prices respond to it.
Crude Oil Rises in New York as Cold Weather Boosts U.S. Demand
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2009-12-28/crude-oil-rises-in-new-york-as-cold-weather-boosts-u-s-demand.html
And how about the homeless in Florida and homeless shelters being prepared?
Homeless Shelters Prepped For Cold Weather Tonight
http://cbs4.com/local/broward.county.cold.2.1393675.html

kadaka

photon without a Higgs (21:07:59) :
This is very bad news for those who say Arctic ice is in a ‘death spiral’.
REPLY: The diagnosis was wrong, it just had a bad case of a cold. -Anthony

The Arctic had a fever!

Eggsuckindog

Forget the Artic, its cold as hell in Florida

Timothy

Roger Knights:
If you want the daily data for Northern Hemisphere ice extent, you can go to the IJIS website:
http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm
Also, want to see how the NA ice is doing compared to the 1979-2000 mean?
http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/
Click on the daily image update.
Cheers!

Mark T

Max Hugoson (19:46:33) :

Weather is NOT climate.
-10 F in Minneapolis tonight.
BURRRRrrrrr……

Thank God, eh? Because if it were, you’d be [snip]
Mark

Just posted comments in the thread, “The Unbearable Complexity of Climate” down about #140 or so detailing my ideas on the driving mechanisms, and periods of “The natural variability cycles”, and how to define them to be usable in weather and climate forecasts.
A long term BETA forecast method using these cyclic patterns to generate daily maps from 2008 through the end of 2013, (data tabled in August of 2007, started producing the maps in September of 2008).
Natural analog forecast @ http://www.aerology.com/national.aspx
I have not the computing power, or data base needed to add these decade long cycles, into the process I am already using, to define how these patterns are also coupled into the rest of the process. But would love to give it a go, when time and money becomes available.
Richard Holle

snowmaneasy

Roger Knights here is the site…(21:49:57)…goes back to 2002 only but…
http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm
The best way to appreciate the data is to download it and plot it yourself…I have been doing this for some time now…..what I do is plot it as a surface….I assume a “six month gap” between years and plot it like a “membrane”….this way you can actually see the variations better…