Massive drifts and late-melting snowpack

Guest Post by Verity Jones

While the MSM is all hot under the collar about the Killer heat wave in the mid-East US, not a mention about the massive snow accumulation in the Western USA this year. It’s not just a few roads being late to open due to the excessive snow clearance effort (WUWT: here and here), the snowpack is way above average this year. Good news for water supply; bad news for riverside communities.

Just take a look at the extent of this – the Snotel map from 5th June below shows percent of normal snow-water equivalent. The measurements are mostly off the scale, which if you’ll note only goes up to 140% of normal. From the lack of blue and green dots, I’m taking it that the red ones are errors.

Map from: NRCS Google Earth SNOTEL Data Layer

From mid-May there has been concern in many areas over the amount of snow and the potential for flooding, but instead of melting rapidly the snowpack has persisted, and even continued to accumulate. As of 9th June almost all states listed here (with the exception of Alaska, Arizona and New Mexico, which have much less than normal) are showing vast excesses of snow for the time of year. For example Utah:

And a different format depiction for Wyoming:

Accumulated Snow Water Equivalent for Wyoming river basins (8th June). Source: http://www.wrds.uwyo.edu/wrds/nrcs/snowmap/snowmap.html

Below is yet another way of looking at it – here for the Upper Colorado (link: http://snowpack.water-data.com/uppercolorado/index.php), specifically the feed into Lake Powell. Now this really made me sit up. The levels were ticking along a bit above average until just after mid-April, then they began to rise, and rise, and rise. This says two possible things are happening – either more snow has been falling, and/or temperatures are just not rising enough to melt what is there. Either scenario says ‘cold’.

On 5th June:

“April 15th is the date of maximum snowpack and basinwide snowpack is currently 66.6% of the April 15th average
Snowpack is 277.9% of the June 5th average.”

Of course you just know that when the melt really does get going you just know that all that snow and the ensuing flooding will be blamed on CAGW.

This got me thinking – at what rate does snow melt? I mean we’ve got some truly gargantuan snow drifts in places – how likely is it that significant proportions of them will remain in places that have not retained snow in summer for years?

The last slide in this EPA presentation gives ranges for melt rate with a degree-day factor. The range seems to be 0.07-0.150 inches per day per degree F. These are estimates for a variety of conditions ranging from partially forested/shaded areas to open sun on a prairie. Although some are quite specific, they are still estimates. Now if we take the example of a 22ft drift in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park (Road opens way late due to massive snow) and look up appropriate degree day figures for the region used with this range of melt rate, perhaps we can get an idea of the potential for residual snow pack at the end of the summer.

Using the U. S. degree-day mapping calculator (Coop, L. B. 2010. . Version 4.0. Oregon State University Integrated Plant Protection Center Web Site Publication E.10-04-1: http://uspest.org/cgi-bin/usmapmaker.pl), the following map is for Colorado, calculated between now and the end of September for a 32F base:

Key

For the higher altitudes we have 1500-2600 degree days before we might expect reasonable additions if not accumulations of snow again, but, still using guestimates for the actual melt rate it seemed sensible to work with a range:

Starting at 264 inches (22 ft) 8th June, the table shows the estimated snow depth remaining on 30th September depending on the assumed melt rate and number of degree days (above 32F).

[Update: The table above was produced on the assumption that the melt rates referred to depth of snow.  Having covered a lot more background reading on this today I think I should have read the melt rate as “inches SWE/day*F”. Current rates of melting from the NOAA summary table are 0.1-1.6 inches SWE/day.  For a 22ft starting snowpack (estimated as 150 inches SWE) my back-of-envelope calculation suggests melt rates would need to be sustained at >1.25 inches SWE/day to remove this depth of snow by the end of September.]

This suggests to me that at higher altitudes there’ll be significant snow ‘left behind’ this year. Those white patches on the distant mountains will be a welcome return for many – cameras at the ready folks!

More than that though, what effect will this have on local/regional temperatures? There would be increased albedo in the mountains where the snow is retained, and potential for cold air drainage as well as depressed river temperatures from prolonged snowmelt over the summer. These effects might be small, and it is, after all, just one unusual year.

Although this is “just weather”, what if we start to have more ‘higher than average’ years now that the PDO has flipped to a cold phase? High pass road opening dates are well documented in Washington State and, having plotted these for the Chinook Pass and North Cascades Highway, I had previously speculated Is the PDO correlated to road openings?

With many analyses suggesting cooler times are on the way, this year may be exceptional in recent experience, but how many “just one year”s would it take for us to notice the effects?

(Updated from post http://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/where-snows-dont-melt/)

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114 thoughts on “Massive drifts and late-melting snowpack

  1. Great post! For anyone who wonders how glaciers form, this is it. Now, I am not saying that we are looking at a new period of glaciation. After all, I lived through the panic fed by the presently Warmista back in the 1970s. However, I will say that there is just as much empirical evidence for a new period of glaciation as there is for global warming. Wake up and smell the coffee, MSM.

  2. Verity,

    So, I’m not the only one feeling the abnormally cooler temperatures this summer. Odd hot spit but mostly well below average temperatures.

  3. I wish I could figure out how to send pictures – you will have to head up to Lassen and see for yourself. There are piles of snow in the visitor’s center parking lot 20 feet high.

    We parked near the trail to Mt. Broke-off. Hiked up that winding hill with our snow boards – Oma says “schnaybort!” – slow going in boots, let me tell you what! We followed some cross country skier’s tracks. We hiked and hiked, and hiked some more! Finally, when I was so tired I could hardly put one boot in front of the other, I stopped and surveyed the panorama – Lassen is almost completely covered in snow. The caldera is white and hung with waterfalls. After taking that in, I strapped in for about a 30 second ride down to the road. So worth it! The snow was “corny”, it was a swell ride, all the way to the bottom. Skittered across a gaping hole – we could hear the creek running down there, but we couldn’t see it! We rested at the bottom, and when we got cold, we hiked up again.

    One year after a spring like this, we boarded the summit in October. We’ve seen people sledding at Lake Helen in their shorts and tank tops in August. It’s a hit and miss situation, some years, rain has ruined the snow by now, and it’s all melted and pitty, mostly gone by July. Other years, it is an alpine wonderland, flowers blooming in late August, etc.

    This year, we plan to board Diamond Peak for Father’s Day – Cowabunga! Then we’re headed to Sugar Bowl for Fourth of July – Mount Disney lift will be open til noon – bring your sunscreen!

  4. Snowpack seems to be the ‘cool’ topic of choice at the moment. Seems I’m not the only one with raised eyebrows surrounding the events talking place in western half of the U.S.
    Already, we have one guy attributing these events to climate change.
    Peter Fimrite, a Chronicle staff writer, asked Mike Pechner, a meteorologist from the Bay Area, to ascribe the cause of the over 90 record levels of snowpack.
    Pechner, responds saying, “I think it’s climate change.”
    If you care to read more about what I’ve discovered what the IPCC had or hadn’t predicted regarding these events and other facts and newsworthy notes on the subject, please click here.

  5. We all know it is because of a warming world…..yea right.
    I am watching Lake Powell fill up.

  6. Jason Bair says:
    June 11, 2011 at 7:01 am
    “Its already being blamed on Climate change. The video mentions warmer air holds more moisture an blaming this on La Nina.”

    Maybe. But how does it keep the snow from melting? I guess that will be in the next IPCC report.

  7. Living in Colorado, I can tell you the spring was both cold & wet in the central mtns, leading to the high snowpack #s. It’s melting down now & many of the rivers have flood warnings going

  8. nc says:
    June 11, 2011 at 7:54 am

    I guess you are suggesting that you have presented confirming evidence for manmade global warming? Well, maybe. However, there is a fierce and strict asymmetry in Scientific Method: confirming instances can increase confidence in a hypothesis or theory but one disconfirming instance, one falsification, can require abandonment of one or more hypotheses. So, all the attention, especially of the MSM, should be on that Western snow pack because it promises to falsify one or more hypotheses of manmade global warming theory. (Well, if pro-AGW folks had a theory. They are so confused that they cannot articulate one.) Still, the MSM should get to work and get to the Western slope, the place where all the drama in climate is found at this time.

  9. Thanks, great report, Verity!

    Yep – this sure is Climate Change! Not warming – cooling.
    There must be something we can do with all those CAGW believers, to enhance our CO2 output …

  10. Another key factor is snow melt rates is the height of the sun. I am sure many of you on this site who live in snowy areas have noticed that in mid winter, with low sun angles, that temps can be in the mid to upper 30s, even low 40s & the snow doesn’t melt very fast. On the flip side, when you get a late season snow ( as we commonly do in the front range of Colorado) , and the sun is high in the sky, even if temps are in the 20s, the snow melts fast because of the high sun angles. It would interesting to know what is assumed in the table provided in this post.

  11. Continuing on from the last observation, I think it stands to reason that for western glaciation to occur, cold temps are not enough. There must be abundant snowfall as well. This is consistent with the massive glacial lakes & huge alluvial fans developed throughout the Great Basin during the Pleistocene. It also explains how glaciers in the wasatch range extended all the way down to lake bonneville. Today, average summer highs in salt lake city reach 91 deg f in July. Even avg temps dropped 30-40 degrees during a glacial episode, temps in the 50-60 degree range with a high sun angle will melt a ton of snow, again suggesting you need to have a lot of snow to develop features seen in the geologic record. This is a hypothesis I would like to test someday when I have more time.

    What’s the point of all of this? I think this last winters pattern gives a lot of insight on how glacial periods in north america might operate. It may all hinge on behavior in the Pacific. if we were to have a series of ” super la ninas” imbedded in an extended & extremely strong cold pdo phase ( or maybe a permanent cold phase) & you had winter after winter like this last one ( or even colder & snowier) snows would begin to accumulate & glaciers would begin to grow. Look at the pattern for the rest of north america as well. Most areas that were covered by continental glaciation also had big snow years this year. For as wet as the western mtns were, the colorado front range was exceptionally dry – as it was during the Pleistocene, as evidenced by the wind driven deflation lakes. Again, I think gives some insight on how glacial periods may operate.

    So, I am NOT suggesting we are entering a new glacial period but I am saying I think this past winter gives a lot insight into how glacial weather patterns in north america may operate. It also says to me that this pattern looks nothing like global warming but looks a lot like global cooling

  12. Here’s a tabular SNOTEL report as of Friday June 10 of western US snowpack. The next to the last column on the right, Percent of Average Snow Water Equivalent, is the telling one. Scroll down to Montana, for example, to see why all of the states along the Missouri River (Montana, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri are in for a very very soggy summer all the way through August: http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/snotelanom/snotelbasin

  13. nc … yes there was fire in Slave Lake. However:

    “The snow is still 135 per cent above average for late May.
    The melt combined with additional flakes are keeping snow levels consistently high.
    “It’s some of the most snow I’ve seen for this time of year in the last eight years,” says Campbell.
    “This is an incredible amount of snow to be up here this late in the year. Usually we are lucky to see these depths in February.””

    http://www.globaltvbc.com/Officials+fear+flooding+record+Alberta+snowpack+melts/4869981/story.html

  14. Look,
    any time there is something “unusual” with regard to weather, meaning within the short memory span of the average person, there is an insatiable urge to blame it on something as when you find something amiss in your living room and the dog or the kids gets targeted. Any unseen or unexplained action must always have an assigned cause and a new one will be invented regardless how remote the connection, and if it has been in the news, it will be labeled to cover it. I remember when they were doing atmospheric testing in the 50’s and of course anything remotely occurring in “unusual” weather was conveniently blamed on the Nukes. People were happy with that. It is never going to change, only the target of the cause.

  15. The earlier thread on declining snow pack blamed AGW. This heavy snow pack is blamed on AGW, AGW can do anything but good.

  16. @ Jeff L.
    “It would interesting to know what is assumed in the table provided in this post.”

    A starting snow pack of 22ft/264 inches was assumed – this was the height of the report from Rocky Mountain NP. I assumed that any air temperature above 32F has the potential to melt snow, but obviously direct sun/wind/rain will be a factor too that isn’t formally accounted for. The degree day estimates were from a 32F base for 8th June to 30th September. You can see the colours of the various degree days against the topography of the map.

    So the table says that in a location which experiences 1800 degree days [days x (degrees-32F)], depending on the actual melt rate that occurs (from the range of estimates), we might expect up to 138 inches of snow remaining on 30th Sept 2011. On the other hand there might be none, if melt rates were at the top end of the range. If they are somewhere in the middle, there is a good change that the bigger drifts will still be there to greet the snows in the Fall.

  17. Oh Oh my bad I posted without explaining, MSM was pointing out the dryness in that area of Alberta as a reault of GW while leaving out the snow and low temperatures in other areas.

  18. @Jeff L.
    “So, I am NOT suggesting we are entering a new glacial period but I am saying I think this past winter gives a lot insight into how glacial weather patterns in north america may operate. It also says to me that this pattern looks nothing like global warming but looks a lot like global cooling”

    My thoughts exactly! If climate is cyclical – even small cycles in current times, we will be in a ‘growth’ phase but it may take some time for the effects to be noticeable.

  19. Lake Powell is receiving sufficient water from snowmelt such that the lake level is increasing at a rate of approximately one foot per day. The link below shows the lake level over the past 150 days. Wasn’t it a sure sign of global warming that Lake Powell’s level was decreasing? Hmmmmm…

    For non-US readers, Lake Powell is a man-made lake on the Colorado River, created by Glen Canyon Dam. Lake Mead and Hoover Dam are downstream on the same river. The Grand Canyon lies between the two lakes.

    http://lakepowell.water-data.com/

  20. Lake Powell would likely be anticipating capacity now if they hadn’t started dumping water into Lake Mead in February. http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=14224491 Lake Mead is finally getting ahead of the decadal drought although well behind its historic average for this date and Lake Powell is just about at its historic average, but they are saving space for a huge melt anticipated since January. Of course the environmentalists were angered. When are they not?

  21. The test of any scientific theory is not in the number of times it has been shown to be right. A stopped clock if right twice a day. The test of any theory lies in the number of times it has been shown to be wrong.

    In every other branch of science, when the predictions of a theory do not match observations, then that is strong evidence that the theory is wrong. This argues strongly that Climate Science is not science. It is Astrology.

    Like Astrology, Climate Science predicts the future, then counts the number of times it is right as proof. Read your horoscope, it will often be correct. According to the rules of Climate Science, this would prove that Astrology is able to predict the future.

  22. Really glad you mentioned the Upper Colorado River Basin in your report. Some people still seemed confused about where all the moisture comes from that falls as snow over this region, and what conditions it takes to evaporate all that moisture. Even more seemed confused about the true picture of La Nina, assuming somehow that this “cooling” of the equatorial Pacific means the whole Pacific is somehow cooling, when nothing could be further from the truth, as in even less know is the fact that La Nina is the period in the ENSO cycle that the Pacific is actually absorbing more net heat, and El Nina is the time of discharge of that heat. But back to the Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB) and snow pack. Recent studies are showing a strong correlation between WARMER waters in a specific region of the Pacific and a higher snow pack in the UCRB,and this region has nothing to do with the ENSO cycle or the PDO. To quote the extract from this report, it says:

    “A “non-ENSO/non-PDO” Pacific Ocean SST region between 34°N–24°S and 150°E–160°W was identified as being the primary driver of UCRB snowpack.”

    This is very important. Note, it is NOT the cooler waters immediately off the west coast of the U.S. associated with La NIna that have anything to do with snow pack in the UCRB, but rather a WARMER area of the Pacific,much further away, where the warm waters can evaporate more moisture that is then carried across the Pacific to fall on the UCRB as snow in the winter.

    Well, of course, this past winter, wouldn’t you know it…we had a very warm area of the Pacific, exactly in the region identified in this study…and look what we got in the UCRB. The full report on the association between this warm region of the Pacific and snow pack in the UCRB can be found here:

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2010/2009WR008053.shtml

    This study was only done for the UCRB, but since the storm tracks that come into the UCRB often come in from the Pacific NW, it would not surprise me if there would be an association between snowfall in other areas of the western U.S. and this warm region of the Pacific.

  23. Mammoth Mountain will be open until July 4 for skiing/snowbarding, they would be open longer if the USFS let them… They currently have a base of 8-16ft and the total snowfall for the year is so far 669in. That makes this the highest snowfall year on record for them (since 1969-70), with the next highest being 578 in 2005-06. So that got me thinking and I looked up the snowfall history for Mammoth since 1969, which can be done here http://tinyurl.com/3ucye3v
    (scroll down and click on History in the middle of the screen, then scroll to the bottom of that and click on “Previous Years”)
    The top 4 snowiest years on record (40 year record), with snowfalls all over 550+ inches, occured between 2004 and 2011…with 5 of the top 10 in that time period…!

    What was that quote about kids wont know what snow is again??

  24. Climate change is warmer air is more moisture is more clouds is less direct sunlight is more snow surviving summer.?

  25. pat says:
    June 11, 2011 at 9:27 am

    The earlier thread on declining snow pack blamed AGW. This heavy snow pack is blamed on AGW, AGW can do anything but good.
    _____

    Leaving aside the issue of AGW for a moment, please see my post about the WARMER region of the Pacific ocean and increased snow pack levels in the Upper Colorado River Basin. It takes greater evaporation to get greater snowfall, and greater evaporation can only come from warmer, not cooler waters. See this report:

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2010/2009WR008053.shtml

  26. Ed Caryl says:
    June 11, 2011 at 8:19 am

    It looks like the glaciers will return to Glacier National Park.
    _____
    You are mistaking weather for climate. Glaciers come and go with changes in climate, not a season or two of heavy snowfall. I suggest you do some research on glacial growth and realized the big difference between heavy snowfall in once season, and the long-term summer cooling trend necessary to create glaciers.

  27. Verity,
    Thanks for the reply. In reviewing your linked EPA doc, they do include a latitude dependent radiation factor in their equations, which would address my original concern. Given the latitude & elevation of the original photo, the range of your initial calculation could probably be narrowed from the calculation based on degree days alone.

  28. Roger Sowell says on June 11, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Lake Powell is receiving sufficient water from snowmelt such that the lake level is increasing at a rate of approximately one foot per day. The link below shows the lake level over the past 150 days. Wasn’t it a sure sign of global warming that Lake Powell’s level was decreasing? Hmmmmm…

    When Lake Powell’s level is decreasing it is a sign of global warming climate change and that we are all doomed.

    When Lake Powell’s level is increasing it is a sign of global warming climate change and that we are all doomed.

    When Lake Powell’s level is constant it is a sign of global warming climate change and that we are all doomed.

    I think that about sums it up.

  29. “I remember when they were doing atmospheric testing in the 50′s and of course anything remotely occurring in “unusual” weather was conveniently blamed on the Nukes. People were happy with that. It is never going to change, only the target of the cause.”

    The longer you observe the weather, the more likely you are to see extreme events. For example, if you observe the weather for 1 year, you are not likely to see a 1 in 100 year storm. If you observe the weather for 100 years, you are more likely to observe such a storm.

    Thus, the longer you keep records, the more it will look like the weather is becoming more extreme, and thus the climate is changing. Of course the climate isn’t changing. What is changing is the length of time you keep records. What we are seeing is statistical nonsense dressed up as “Climate Science”.

  30. You are right Jeff, but that abundant snowfall is caused by warmer,not cooler ocean tempertures, as this report demonstrates:

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2010/2009WR008053.shtml

    But more to the point, glacial growth as studied in tens of thousands of years of ice cores shows that years of heavy snowfall are not associated with glacial advance, and if fact, there is a negative correlation between the two…i.e. warmer periods see heavier snowfall but less glacial growth. Why would this be? Simple: it takes warmer ocean waters to get more precip that leads to to heavier snowfall in winter. But in summer, the warmer water is associated with warmer summer temps that melt all the snow (and then some), and you get no glacial growth. Bottom line: the idea that heavy winter snows are associated with glaical growth is simply wrong. Average winter snows with cooler summers are more indicative of the conditions of glacial expansion over the longer term.

  31. The Oregon snow pack is clearly not related to an increase warm moist air. Mt Bachelor closed Memorial Day with a 160 inch base. Sure, we had record snows, but they didn’t melt in the spring. Our May average was about four degrees below the historical monthly average, and on closing weekend on the mountain we had 24 degrees with 14 inches of powder. The mountain receives occasional January rain, That didn’t happen this year, and this spring really stands out as a cold one.

  32. @ R Gates
    Obviously, for net accumulation , snowfall has to be > snowmelt each year, resulting in glaciers. The question is do you achieve this: through more ppt, cooler melt season temps or some combination of both. IMHO, we have seen some of both in the western US this year & I think this is consistent with observed geologic data that shows the western US was considerably wetter on the Pleistocene than now, thus this winter may offer a small insight into ice age processes in the western US.

    In sighting glacial core studies over 1000s of yrs, I would assume you are looking at continental glaciers as that is the most likely location to find datasets of that length. The data sited of less snow & colder temps isn’t a surprise to me for that setting in that current arctic areas as essentially frozen deserts. However, all my comments were only meant to apply to alpine glacial systems of the western US. Maybe I should have made that more clear in my initial post.

  33. @ R Gates
    BTW, forgot to mention, I do like your cited study with a warm N PAC source region. I think it is reasonably well supported. However, that warm source region is associated with la Nina conditions & la ninas are stronger & more common with a cold pdo & a cold pdo is strongly associated with cooler global temps. So, cooler global temps & this warm N Pac source region aren’t inconsistent.

    What this really illustrates is how meaningless a global mean temp is as it applies to your local or regional weather. is a perfect case in point.

  34. R. Gates says:
    June 11, 2011 at 11:28 am
    “Bottom line: the idea that heavy winter snows are associated with glaical growth is simply wrong. Average winter snows with cooler summers are more indicative of the conditions of glacial expansion over the longer term.”

    As usual, you do not realize that your position implies that heavy winter snows are never accompanied by cool summers. Warmista just make up stuff. You just made up the universal generalization “For all periods of winter and summer, heavy snowfall in winter is followed by a summer warm enough to melt the snow.” There is no way you could know that the claim is true.

  35. Hey R. Gates,
    Thanks for pointing out an example of the effects of Local (not global) Warming!
    And, what is it that is causing the “WARMER region of the Pacific ocean”?
    Is it anthropogenic OCO or is it cyclical variation in the circulation patterns of the Pacific Ocean?

  36. R. Gates,
    Stop muddying the waters, please. It’s been very cold and wet spring in Colorado and other Western states.
    To avoid any doubt, I repeat: COLD, not only wet.
    Do some “research” yourself next time, with the thermometer on your veranda.

  37. While other threads were about snow fall, this thread is focused on snow MELTING.
    Note again the caption below the SWE graph:
    * On 5th June: “April 15th is the date of maximum snowpack and basinwide snowpack is currently 66.6% of the April 15th average
    and now the web site (click on the SWE graph) it says –
    * On 11th June: “April 15th is the date of maximum snowpack and basinwide snowpack is currently 44.42% of the April 15th average”
    The snow is melting, just not as fast as “normal”. From the 5th to the 11th, the snowpack went from 66% of max to 44% of max. So it is going down, but going down more slowly than in a normal year. The rest of the article describes estimates and factors which affect melting.

    With that in mind, I am thinking that cooler waters off coast in the Pacific (a la cool PDO) probably does affect the melt rate more than the “warm spot” farther out in the Pacific which may have brought the snow in the first place per R. Gates: June 11, 2011 at 10:08 am.

  38. Doug says:
    June 11, 2011 at 11:48 am

    The Oregon snow pack is clearly not related to an increase warm moist air. Mt Bachelor closed Memorial Day with a 160 inch base. Sure, we had record snows, but they didn’t melt in the spring. Our May average was about four degrees below the historical monthly average, and on closing weekend on the mountain we had 24 degrees with 14 inches of powder. The mountain receives occasional January rain, That didn’t happen this year, and this spring really stands out as a cold one.
    ____
    Once more, the source of the warm pacific water that evaporates and forms into storms that follow the jet stream and bring snows to Oregon is not off the coast of Oregon. The moisture bearing weather patterns for the western U.S. are dictated by exchanges between the ocean and atmosphere thousands of miles away from Oregon. But make no mistake…it is warmer waters, not cooler, far out in the Pacific that will ultimately decide how much moisture falls in Oregon. The local temperatures in Oregon will dictate if moisture comes in as rain or snow in any given region of the state, but the storms that dump that moisture were spawned by ocean-atmosphere exchanges far out in the Pacific, away from the Oregon cost..

  39. R. Gates says:
    June 11, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    The waters that fed the La Nina storms over the PNW were BELOW normal SST’s. They were below normal for quite some time, and this warmer is wetter stuff is nothing more than a Warmist contrivance.
    It is also the same snowpack as 1982-83 fed by an El Nino.
    Proof: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ensostuff/ensoyears.shtml
    Your theory is wrong, R. Gates, and fails to hold it’s water.
    The big snowpack is more a function of the failure of the Sun to warm the Tropics (as seen in UAH data) and drive the Jet Streams back to where they normally resisde, and a like failure to move the stuck weather patterns West to East.
    Has nothing at all to do with Antropogenic anything.

  40. there is enough snow above one of our largest reservoirs to fill it twice here in southeastern Idaho they are dumping so much water out of it to prep for the melt that there are some bridges that might get washed out.

  41. Just yesterday I cancelled my five day rental of a forest service cabin in the Snowy Range,between Laramie and Saratoga, scheduled for 21 – 25 June. I reserved the cabin in January this year. Today there is still over six foot of snow at the cabin. This much snow this late is just unheard of. I was planning fishing poles not ski poles. Not a surprise the North Platte river is flooding.

  42. Alexander Feht says:
    June 11, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    R. Gates,
    Stop muddying the waters, please. It’s been very cold and wet spring in Colorado and other Western states.
    To avoid any doubt, I repeat: COLD, not only wet.
    Do some “research” yourself next time, with the thermometer on your veranda.
    ______
    Nice expression when talking about moisture, snow fall, snow melt: “stop muddying the waters…” Very clever!

    Anyway, the point of all my previous discussion is that you can’t really look at local conditions to understand where the moisture comes from the creates all this lovely snow accumulation that seems to have gotten some folks all excited about. You really need to look far out in the Pacific (not right off the coast) to see the origin of the moisture that has nicely fallen on the mountains of the west. Different regions of the Pacific are associated with different regions of the Western U.S. to a very high level of correlation (as per this study: http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2010/2009WR008053.shtml)

    Now then, it is going to be generally true that cooler waters in the regions of the Pacific Ocean associated with the generation of the storms that actually bring the moisture to any particular region of the western U.S. will mean less moisture is evaporated and warmer waters will mean more moisture.

    In Colorado, the east slope this past winter was generally quite while the mountains (at least the northern and central mountains) got a way above average snow. This has to do with the storm track generally not allowing low pressure systems to set up in the southern part of the state, which will tend to bring in moisture to the eastern part of the state.

    Finally, it seems few here are really talking about why the western US. was generally cold this spring, nor where that flow of cold air comes from. Certainly, it isn’t coming from the deserts of the southwest. In checking the past three months we can easily see that the entire west, Pacific NW, and up into Canada is cooler than normal. See this chart:
    http://iridl.ldeo.columbia.edu/maproom/.Global/.Atm_Temp/Persistence.html

    But what you’ll also notice on this chart, is that this is in fact one of the few regions of the the planet that is cooler than normal over the past 3 months, with the other significant region being Northern Australia. The Western U.S. has had a nearly constant flow of cooler air from the sub-arctic region pushing south, while during this same time, and not surprisingly, the Arctic has been seeing normal to higher than normal temps in general, but especially over the Asian side. But what is most clear by looking at the above persistence chart is that the entire N. Hemisphere has not been cool and that the the Western U.S. being cool is actually the exception rather than the rule. Combine these cooler than normal temps with the warm region of the Pacific that generates much of the moisture for areas of the west like the Upper Colorado River Basin…and well, you”re probably going to get more snow.

    But right now, I can tell you, because I live here, that the biggest concern is potential flooding and the dangers of heavy stream flows from all the snow that is melting. And as this live camera from high in the Rockies shows, yes, there is some snow left, but it is melting, and we’ve got a long hot summer ahead:

    http://tiny.cc/yrj6h

    In closing, reports of a pending glacial advance due to a season of heavy snow in the western U.S. are greatly exaggerated…

  43. Cold here in NE Oregon. Early May in near mid June . Roses and Lilacs are way behind.
    Above average snow pack glad it’s not too warm as the flooding would be interesting.
    Reminds me of the early:” ICEEE AGGGEE! Were gonna die fer sure! “era….

  44. Jeff L says:
    June 11, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    @ R Gates
    BTW, forgot to mention, I do like your cited study with a warm N PAC source region. I think it is reasonably well supported. However, that warm source region is associated with la Nina conditions & la ninas are stronger & more common with a cold pdo & a cold pdo is strongly associated with cooler global temps. So, cooler global temps & this warm N Pac source region aren’t inconsistent.

    What this really illustrates is how meaningless a global mean temp is as it applies to your local or regional weather. is a perfect case in point.
    ______

    I wouldn’t disagree that global temps are meaningless when looking at local or regional weather, but then again, I am more a student of the climate rather than the weather, and when it comes to climate, global temps are quite meaningful and useful. Do keep in mind though, that the reason that El Nino periods are warmer is that the oceans are releasing stored up heat to the atmosphere, and so, during La Nina’s, they are cooler because the oceans are storing heat, and so the ENSO cycle is one of charging and discharging heat from the oceans, but there is no NET HEAT created by ENSO acting over time, and this is exactly their point…they act as a thermostat to keep the oceans heat within a range. That, in fact, is why the increase in ocean heat content over the past 40 years is so interesting. It would appear that, despite the ENSO cycle of charge-discharge of ocean heat, that some other factor is at play, forcing ocean heat content higher over the longer-term.

  45. rbateman says:
    June 11, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    R. Gates says:
    June 11, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    The waters that fed the La Nina storms over the PNW were BELOW normal SST’s. They were below normal for quite some time, and this warmer is wetter stuff is nothing more than a Warmist contrivance.
    It is also the same snowpack as 1982-83 fed by an El Nino.
    Proof: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ensostuff/ensoyears.shtml
    Your theory is wrong, R. Gates, and fails to hold it’s water.
    The big snowpack is more a function of the failure of the Sun to warm the Tropics (as seen in UAH data) and drive the Jet Streams back to where they normally resisde, and a like failure to move the stuck weather patterns West to East.
    Has nothing at all to do with Antropogenic anything.
    _______
    I’d rather go with what scientific studies like this show:

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2010/2009WR008053.shtml

    Rather than listen to your preconceptions. To suggest that a big snow pack in the western U.S. is a result of the “failure of the sun to warm the tropics” is so absurd as to be laughable. During La NIna episodes (and you can put this question to any of your skeptical “experts”on ENSO) the ocean is in fact storing more heat than it is losing, and so there is no “failure of the sun” to warm…if such a thing were possible in any case. Moreover, La Nina patterns create warmer waters in some regions of the Pacific and cooler ones in others, and this is really a function of wind and pressure. It was La Nina that brought the heavy rains to Australia this past season, and that’s because of the abnormally WARM water that was pushed up by the La Nina conditions to the eastern side of Australia. But as the study referenced above clearly shows, it is warmer temperatures of water far out in the Pacific that have a high-degree of influence on how much snow falls in the Upper Colorado River Basin….but if you prefer, you can think it is all caused by the “failure of the sun to warm the tropics”.

  46. During La NIna episodes (and you can put this question to any of your skeptical “experts”on ENSO) the ocean is in fact storing more heat than it is losing
    If it’s storing more than it’s losing, it’s clearly on the cooler side.
    So, the ocean, as you say, was not involved in putting excess “heat” into the atmosphere to support your warmer air mass theory.
    And…It was La Nina that brought the heavy rains to Australia this past season, and that’s because of the abnormally WARM water that was pushed up by the La Nina conditions to the eastern side of Australia.
    on the opposite side of the Pacific were the cooler waters that fed the excessive snowpack.
    Finally but if you prefer, you can think it is all caused by the “failure of the sun to warm the tropics
    I prefer to debate on the merits of the actual data, not somebody elses studies. I can paddle my own boat, thank you.

  47. OK RGates, I get it. Our unusual moisture is climate. Our unusual cold is weather. Just like record breaking hot/cold spells, one needs to know how to assign the blame.

  48. I’m not sure why you claim the MSM has ignored the unusually deep snowpack in the west. I’ve seen several stories and videos about the snowpack, everything from skiing open until the 4th of July in California and Utah, to the flood risk that is still to come.

    So is your view biased or did you just not bother to look?

    At Mammoth Mountain in California’s Sierra Nevada, there is hope the mountain will stay open for skiing and snowboarding well into August this year. It looks like the top of the mountain should have plenty of snow barring an extended heatwave.

    If nothing else, the waterfalls in Yosemite will be spectacular this month – another story being covered by the MSM!

  49. Anyone looking for a nice science fair project? In addition to temperature (and sun angle and wind), I think dew point is a major factor in snow melt rate.

    If the dew point is below freezing, then I’ve seen temperatures in the 50s (10-15C) be fairly kind to snow, but if the dew point is above freezing, then water condenses on the snow and most of that latent heat goes into melting snow.

    A meteorological truism refers to “snow-eating fog,” but that may have cause and effect backwards. I think it’s a sign that moist air is being cooled by the snow and the water vapor that doesn’t condense on the snow condenses when chilled air mixes with unchilled.

  50. Back in ’97 Yosemite National Park had a “once in 500” year flood event when some late, heavy snows were melted suddenly all at once by a warm spring rain. They had to evacuate Yosemite Valley that time.

    This year the snowpack is deep enough to make that flood look like a puppy peeing on a rock. And the melt has only just begun.

  51. Spartan79 says:
    June 11, 2011 at 8:59 am

    As someone living in Omaha I can tell you we are keeping a very close eye out on the Missouri river, it is way high at the moment and yes we are talking about what will happen when the snow melts

  52. @Bill Jamison
    “So is your view biased or did you just not bother to look?”

    As I am in the UK, my view is very definately biased to what I pick up as major stories in the MSM. News in the UK (unlike the US in my experience) has a high proportion of international news, and much of our media seems biased – the ‘warm’ stories get through.

  53. [I posted the following in Tips and Notes yesterday, but it seems apropos here, raising the old weather vs. climate question, among other issues.]

    I found myself listening to NPR this morning, and lo and behold! Here’s a report on a new historical study of snowpack in the Rockies, a favorite topic here on WUWT. What have they discovered, by the magic of tree rings? Twentieth-century global warming!

    Thinning Snows In Rockies Tied To Global Warming

    by RICHARD HARRIS

    . . . Looking back through many centuries of tree rings, Pederson and his colleagues are now able to put the recent decades of reduced snowpack in historical context.

    “The 20th century, across the northern Rockies, looks quite low, on average, compared to the amount of snow that was there over the past millennium,” Pederson says. His group’s results are published in the current issue of Science magazine.

    Part of the reason for the diminished snowpack is the recent global warming trend. He can see the fingerprints of that in the data. Higher temperatures mean that precipitation over the mountains is increasingly falling as rain instead of snow. And even when it falls as snow, it doesn’t stick around as long.

    “After we get the delivery of snow, we’re oftentimes seeing warmer air masses coming in afterward,” he says. “So even if it’s dropped as snow, everything’s warmer, so it tends to melt faster once the snow is delivered.”
    “Here in the western U.S., where we rely really heavily on snowmelt for summer water supply, anything that impacts the snowpack can also cause a drought,” says Phil Mote, a climate scientist at Oregon State University. “And what this paper shows is the warming of the 20th century and beyond is already affecting and will profoundly affect the frequency of droughts in the West, simply by whittling away at the snowpack” . . .

    . . . He finds the new report persuasive in its link to global warming.

    “It’s sort of ironic to be talking about this this year, when the Columbia River is at flood stage in Portland,” Mote says. But that underscores the fact that you can’t judge the climate by a single year, or even a few decades. That’s why the latest research looked back hundreds of years to show that what’s happening today really is likely a departure from natural variation. . .

    http://www.npr.org/2011/06/10/137088287/thinning-snows-in-rockies-tied-to-global-warming

    /Mr Lynn

  54. either more snow has been falling, and/or temperatures are just not rising enough to melt what is there. Either scenario says ‘cold’.
    ———-
    So is this conclusion based on the ever popular around here ” snow is not water vapor, it’s crystallized cold” theory. Are in fact these record snows accompanied by record cold temperatures?

    I am betting not since, for example, during the ice ages conditions were very dry and snow accumulation rates were slow.

  55. Here’s an interesting site to watch as the melt season progresses:

    http://www.crh.noaa.gov/crh/?n=mo-river-flooding-2011

    I was hacking around the internet looking for information on U.S. aquifers. This spring the reservoirs in the west are filling up, rivers are swelling and flooding, and I can’t help but wonder where all the water goes besides downstream and eventually to the sea. When we have a wet year like this, does the water find it’s way into the aquifers? I am not versed at all in geology or hydrology but I live in a parched, dry state (Arizona) and just wonder if all this water goes somewhere underground.

  56. Dennis Cox says:
    June 11, 2011 at 4:20 pm
    Back in ’97 Yosemite National Park had a “once in 500″ year flood event when some late, heavy snows were melted suddenly all at once by a warm spring rain. They had to evacuate Yosemite Valley that time.

    The record snowpack is an accident looking for a place to happen, with full reservoirs up & down the state. Not to mention the entire PNW + Northern Rockies, Northern Plains. For whom the sudden melting tolls?

  57. Mr Lynn says:
    June 11, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Take in a few of the 2,000 year or 1,000 year tree-ring studies available for the PNW or Rockies.
    You’ll find great variety in the wild swings to extremes. You’ll also find those wild fluctuations occuring in the cool periods as well as the warm periods. For every year of drought, there’s a year of flood.
    It’s proof of natural variations. We have witnessed but a small portion of what nature can serve up in our puny 160 years out West.
    Oh, the amplitude of it all !!

  58. R. Gates,

    I asked you to stop it, not to amplify it to 1000 dB.
    Global temperatures were down this spring, it wasn’t a “local” Western US phenomenon.
    As they were down during the last 10 years.
    Your case is closed, you just don’t want to believe it.

  59. Alexander Feht says:
    June 11, 2011 at 8:49 pm
    R. Gates,

    I asked you to stop it, not to amplify it to 1000 dB.
    Global temperatures were down this spring, it wasn’t a “local” Western US phenomenon.
    As they were down during the last 10 years.
    Your case is closed, you just don’t want to believe it.
    ——–
    ? I Should believe you over the data? With the notable exception of parts of the western and northwesten U.S. and the northern part of Ausfralia, the planet has been generally pretty warm these past few months. Sorry you can’t grasp what the scientific literature is telling you…but higher precipitation rates are associated with warmer, not cooler water, and the storms that bring moisture to many parts of the west are not associated with the local temperatures at all, but are dictated by sea surface temps far out in the Pacific…at least that’s what the research tells us…but who needs research anyway?

  60. The only interesting question now –
    Is this just a normal part of the 60 year cycle, with climate just entering the cooler half?
    OR
    Is there a real change in the sunspot cycle which will bring a new little ice age?

    Happy times either way – I do hate the cold even more than the heat.

  61. Dennis Cox says:
    June 11, 2011 at 4:20 pm
    Back in ’97 Yosemite National Park had a “once in 500″ year flood event when some late, heavy snows were melted suddenly all at once by a warm spring rain. They had to evacuate Yosemite Valley that time.”

    The 97 flood was January 1st, not late at all. It was however a warm southern storm, pineapple express.

  62. @Dennis Cox

    The record flood in Yosemite was in January 1997. It was due to heavy snows that fell in late December being rapidly melted by the warm rains that raised snow levels up over 10,000 feet. I got stuck up at Lake Tahoe in the same floods and it is definitely an experience I’ll never forget. One of the disc jockeys for a Lake Tahoe radio station played “Flood” by Jars of Clay immediately following the Emergency Broadcast System alert. I thought it was funny, not sure if other people did. It took me two days to get out of Lake Tahoe and back to the SF Bay area due to roads being closed. What a mess!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1997_Merced_River_flood

  63. @R. Gates, its not just northern Australia that’s colder than normal, just take a look at the Aus BOM’s version of the last 3 months and about 90% has been colder than the 61-90 mean, and its about the same for the last 6 months BTW. And don’t we know it, it’s bl**dy freezing down here! That’s a pretty convoluted map of warm and cold areas you found there.
    http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/awap/temp/index.jsp?colour=colour&time=latest&step=0&map=meananom&period=3month&area=nat

  64. I don’t agree with you, Gates. I do agree with Pamela that higher evaporation rates result from choppy oceans created by higher wind. Sharpened temperature gradients create that wind. This was the strongest La Nina in 50 years of satellite observation so changing the wind spawning temperature gradients. The stratosphere volcano eruptions near the polar regions with stratosphere eruptions lacking elsewhere will sharpen the gradients and create windy conditions, made the La Nina imho.

  65. R. Gates,
    Did you say you live in the front range, CO? Turn to the West (where the sun goes down) and look at the snow. Go to Lookout Rd., south of Niwot, facing west and find the bowl that has not melted off for four years. I have pictures. Why don’t you know this?

    I haven’t been able to can tomatoes for four years as the yields are so small. Why? Not hot enough and too much wind. Five years ago, I canned a gazillion quarts and supplied all my neighbors with fresh tomatoes. I’m getting great raspberry crops though :) The cooler temps have prevented the spinach and lettuce from going to flower but the leaves are tough, thick and damaged by wind. I’m hoping to do better this year.

    These are things I can understand. I don’t understand your abstract and therefore, I’m not interested in buying the report as I expect I wouldn’t understand it either. What is a Singular Value Decomposition (SVD)? Your global map shows global temps that fall in the lower range and higher range as compared to a 29 year base period (1969-1990). I don’t understand why a very short base period ending 21 years ago is used. I guess it makes the map color up they way AGW businesses like to see it.

    I know that submissions to AGU are plentiful. I don’t understand why the abstract lists the authors names and schools but not their credentials. Are they students? Yes, I’m ignorant. I’ve never heard of the IRI, who describe themselves thusly: “We use a science-based approach to enhance society’s capability to understand, anticipate and manage the impacts of climate in order to improve human welfare and the environment, especially in developing countries”. Is this a good resource for climate change information?

    If you wish to convince those who pay the bills (that would be me, for one) and vote, please don’t present abstracts and graphs without saying what makes the authors experts and why you believe their results are valid. Try to remember that most citizens have their hands full doing what they do and can’t become experts at everything. If you want to baffle with bs, as it appears you do, mission accomplished.

  66. “Your global map shows global temps that fall in the lower range and higher range as compared to a 29 year base period (1969-1990). I don’t understand why a very short base period ending 21 years ago is used”

    29 year base period should (obviously) read 21 years.

  67. Accurate reports of observations are far better than the model outputs that politicians want us to believe. Over summer snowpack- that’s how glaciers start. Will Colorado soon be called ‘The Glacier State’?

  68. R Gates writes:

    But what you’ll also notice on this chart, is that this is in fact one of the few regions of the the planet that is cooler than normal over the past 3 months, with the other significant region being Northern Australia.

    Really? I guess that’s why this is the first time in the last decade I’m in mid-June and STILL have not turned on my air conditioner here in Shanghai. We’re sitting at 20 deg C and rain today, when it should be somewhere in the mid 30s. It’s been freakishly cool in Shanghai ever since last October – even had several “snowstorms” (Shanghainese consider a 2cm dusting to be a snowstorm) and a non-existent Spring.

  69. R. Gates,

    As I type it now, at 5:30 in the morning, June 12th, it’s 0 (zero) degrees Celsius in South Colorado, 15 miles from the New Mexico border, not exactly up in the skies (altitude 6200 feet). This sure is going to slow down the snow melt higher in the mountains, don’t you think? What “warm patch in the Pacific” could be responsible for that?

  70. Sounds in big form what the UK is getting in miniature – extremes in different directions in different parts of the country.

    Our spring here was incredibly wet (Scotland) or incredibly dry (south eastern part of UK).

    Now they’ve called it as a drought, the rain’s starting down south. Go short on grains, long on fruits over here……

    Some folks apparently think that snow in the UK in June signals an ice age. Last time I remember that I lived in Scotland and in summer 1989, after the mildest winter in decades, a serious dump of snow down to 500m happened in mid-June. I walked the plateaux of the big mountains that weekend and it was like a perfect March day in the Scottish mountains. It was freak weather, but it didn’t signal an ice age.

    Isn’t it about time for a sophisticated discussion of biphasic flip-flops in different geographies when PDO etc flip?

    Because with our drought in NW Europe, you may well find more rain in SE Europe. And North Africa. And Iberia.

    Swings and roundabouts, swings and roundabouts.

    Because the glaciers of Europe took a real pasting in April this year – unprecedented heat. Rockies look different.

    It usually balances out.

    When it doesn’t, of course is when little ice ages come along. Or end.

    Now the models I’d be interested in seeing are those which loo to see what parameters over-ride normal damping signals.

  71. Shanghai Dan says on June 12, 2011 at 3:00 am

    R Gates writes:

    But what you’ll also notice on this chart, is that this is in fact one of the few regions of the the planet that is cooler than normal over the past 3 months, with the other significant region being Northern Australia.

    Really? I guess that’s why this is the first time in the last decade I’m in mid-June and STILL have not turned on my air conditioner here in Shanghai. We’re sitting at 20 deg C and rain today, when it should be somewhere in the mid 30s. It’s been freakishly cool in Shanghai ever since last October – even had several “snowstorms” (Shanghainese consider a 2cm dusting to be a snowstorm) and a non-existent Spring.

    Please do not be so harsh on R Gates because after all he has informed us that we humans are responsible for the acceleration of the hydrological cycle through stepping on the gas pedal, CO2, and presumably, if we are not careful we will crash when all that excess momentum meets something with greater mass or whatever (I am having trouble figuring out all the appropriate analogies as you can see but I am sure R Gates has it figured out.)

    BTW, 你为什么住在上海?

  72. In general, anecdotal reports about weather are very valuable when studying weather patterns, and if those reports last many many decades, they can even be valuable when studying climate. But weather so variable and so subject to the little changes that can force things one way or another in a system existing in spatio-temperal chaos, that even in the midst of a general drought you can get a rain storm, or a cool day in the middle of a heat wave, or visa versa.

    I know I’m in the vast minority here WUWT for believing that is more likely than not that AGW (on some level or another is happening). Please note, I’ve never been a proponent of C-AGW, and have never talked about radical plans to tax anyone or the take away your beloved SUV’s. But having studied every facet of this issue for quite a long time (both the scientific, political, and economic facets mind you) I have come to the conclusion that it is more likely than not that some level of AGW is happening.

    But what I’ve noticed is that BOTH sides of the issue seem to want to use anecdotal weather events to prove their cases, and in doing so, they simply prove how little they really grasp the larger context of the issue, and moreover, they actually do more damage to their case. Let me give an example from both sides, beginning with the “warmist” stance. In 2007, Arctic sea ice dropped to lows not seen in the modern satellite era, Now whether they had been that low in the past few hundred or thousand years in not completely known, and those who show pictures of submarines coming up in open water in the 1950’s or insist the Vikings sailed across an open Arctic ocean etc. are simply grasping at straws IMO. But when the sea ice dropped so much in 2007, you saw some “warmists” insist that we’d see an ice free Arctic by 2013 etc. This was of course completely irresponsible, and displayed a lack of understanding the full dynamics of why 2007 was so low. 2007 was so low because of a combination of extreme weather events that favored ice extent reduction on top of a longer-term downward trend. Sure enough, the sea ice did not drop so severely in 2008 and 2009. This is example of confusing weather extremes with climate trends. But make no mistake, the longer-term trend for Arctic Sea ice is downward, and even the GCM’s needed to be revised to show that it was more likely than not that we’d see an ice free summer arctic ocean far sooner than the previously estimated time of 2100 to 2200…probably more like 2030 or so.
    On the skeptics side, we had some severe winters in parts of the N. Hemisphere such as Europe and the east coast of the U.S. the past few years and suddenly there are talks of a pending new “little ice age” or a return to glacial conditions, etc. As it turns out, some of the primary reason for the extreme weather may very well be related back to the lower arctic sea ice conditions and way the greater open water in the arctic could affect atmospheric circulation patterns. We do know that cold air was been shunted right from the Arctic over Europe and at the very same time Greenland was seeing temperatures 20C above normal. The point is, you can’t take weather events or anecdotes over a few years and translate that into anything meaningful in terms of the long-term climate. Not to pick on him specifically, but here’s an example:

    John Marshall says:
    June 12, 2011 at 2:29 am

    Accurate reports of observations are far better than the model outputs that politicians want us to believe. Over summer snowpack- that’s how glaciers start. Will Colorado soon be called ‘The Glacier State’?

    _____
    A few years of higher snowfall in Colorado mountains hardly qualifies to give a trend returning to glacial conditions. Thinking so and saying so simply confuses the issue of weather and climate. Is it possible that due to a quiet Maunder Minimum type of sun that we could see a new “Little Ice Age” period. Absolutely. But a year or two of anecdotal weather is hardly enough information to go by. We do have indications that the sun is going through a quiet period, and some suggestions made that we could go through a few solar cycles of a nearly blank sun (solar cycle 25 and 26?) But no one knows for sure. Also, something that could be factor (though skeptics won’t admit it) is that we’ve got 40% more CO2 in the atmosphere than we had during the Maunder Minimum or even Dalton minimum. How might this affect the nature of a cool period?

    I think one great advantage that I have is that I really could care less about the political aspects of AGW (though I am far from ignorant of them). I care about the science, and so when so one post a politically charged response to my posting of scientific studies, etc. It tells me were not talking on the same level, and I tend to ignore them.

  73. Well thank goodness…
    ….that fact that neither side knows enough to prove or predict anything
    means the science is not settled ;)

    No science has had more time and money put into it than medical.
    Yet, everyone is aware that medical can’t predict anything either.

    …and no one is elevating a bunch of glorified weathermen to the status of medical

  74. Richard Sharpe says:
    June 12, 2011 at 8:00 am

    “Please do not be so harsh on R Gates because after all he has informed us that we humans are responsible for the acceleration of the hydrological cycle through stepping on the gas pedal, CO2…”

    _____
    Nice analogy and probably quite accurate. Scientific studies would tend to indicate this is exactly the case:

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2010/10/global-warming-river-flows-oceans-climate-disruption.html

    The heavy western snow pack is a perfect example, BTW. But then, people would have to really care about the science and not the political spin to understand that cooler periods in earths history (such as glacials) tend to be cool and dry, and that when it warms, the hydrological cycles accelerates, and (over hundreds of thousands of years) this will serve to keep CO2 in a range.

    Another bit of science that some who really care about the science should study is the difference between condensing and non-condensing GH gases. Water vapor is more potent a GH gas, but quickly condenses from a cooling atmosphere, and so, of course, regions of the planet like Antarctica, that is essentially still in a glacial period, is one of the coldest and driest places on earth, water vapor is almost non-existent in the middle of Antarctica and it is a dessert in term of how much precipitation actually falls. CO2 however, as a non-condensing GH gas remains in a fairly constant range in warmer and cooler climates, and is the rock-weathering carbon cycle that helps to keep CO2 in that range. Very fascinating stuff…some of you might do yourself a huge educational service to pull yourself away from your favorite political pundit long enough to actually study these things…

  75. I think food is about to be a large issue. Cold returning early this fall? Crops planted way late, flooding. I heard somewhere that 16% of farmlands in Iowa under water. A lot of corn planted so late they cannot get crop insurance on it. Stunted crops in England from lack of rain.

  76. Ed Mertin says:
    June 12, 2011 at 9:37 am

    I think food is about to be a large issue. Cold returning early this fall? Crops planted way late, flooding. I heard somewhere that 16% of farmlands in Iowa under water. A lot of corn planted so late they cannot get crop insurance on it. Stunted crops in England from lack of rain.
    _____
    Excellent discussion about this right now at Judith Curry’s blog. http://www.judithcurry.com

  77. Has anyone noticed when scientific facts and research are used to supports a position certain people resort to ad hominems…i.e. calling people “ratty”.

  78. I asked:
    “What is a Singular Value Decomposition (SVD)?”

    “Your global map shows global temps that fall in the lower range and higher range as compared to a 29 (correction: 21) year base period (1969-1990). I don’t understand why a very short base period ending 21 years ago is used.”

    “I know that submissions to AGU are plentiful. I don’t understand why the abstract lists the authors names and schools but not their credentials. Are they students?”

    “I’ve never heard of the IRI… Is this a good resource for climate change information?”

    You replied, “I care about the science, and so when so one post a politically charged response to my posting of scientific studies, etc. It tells me were not talking on the same level, and I tend to ignore them.”

    Did you think my questions were “politically charged” and that’s why you didn’t respond? Okay. I found the answers to my last two questions and have shared them so you will know, if you are asked again. How about returning the favor and taking a stab at my first two questions. Please?

    Oubeidillah A. Aziz, (Graduate Research Assistant)
    Glenn A. Tootle, P.E., M.ASCE
    Steve Gray, Ph.D., Wyoming State Climatologist
    Thomas C. Piechota, Ph.D. UCLA, P.E.

    IRI (International Research Institute for Climate and Society) joined the Earth Institute in 2005. Email addresses of the principals are all at Columbia.edu It has 124 active projects or collaborations, which are publicly funded beginning in October, 2009.

    Governance:
    Dr. R.K. Pachauri (Board Chair), Director General, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)
    Mr. Kazuo Aichi, Former Director General, Global Environmental Action (GEA), member of the House of Representatives, Japan, for 24 years, State Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Minister of the Environment, and Minister for the State of Defense.
    Mr. Jan Egeland, Director, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI)
    Mr. Chiang-Lin Hsin, Director General, Central Weather Bureau, Taiwan
    Prof. Nay Htun, Executive Director for Asia and Pacific, University for Peace
    Dr. Chester Koblinsky, Director, NOAA Office of Global Programs
    Mr. Michael McElroy, Gilbert Butler Professor of Environmental Studies and Director, Center for the Environment at Harvard University
    Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Earth Institute, Columbia University
    Sir Crispin Tickell, Director, Policy Foresight Programme, James Martin Institute for Science and Civilization, Oxford University
    Dr. Ching-Yen Tsay, National Policy Advisor to the President, Taiwan Republic of China
    Rt. Hon. Simon Upton, Chairman, OECD Round Table on Sustainable Development Stephen E. Zebiak, Director General, The International Research Institute for Climate and Society

  79. R Gates: “CO2 however, as a non-condensing GH gas remains in a fairly constant range in warmer and cooler climates”

    And yet … arid places like Anarctica and deserts can get very cold and/or have huge diurnal temperature ranges. As opposed to moist regions. Its almost like CO2 has no effect.

  80. The only comment that Mr. Gates points out I agree with is “I think food is about to be a large issue.” His assertion that AGW is real, is only found in urban heat islands. And for those who point to satellite data, it is software controlled, therefore is not in my opinion reliable when considering the agency that is behind the script writing.

    Most moisture for the western US states and Canadian west is from the Pacific, regardless of whether the ocean is warmer or colder. The rest is from drying surface moisture such as snow pack, and/or lake affect, which originally came from the ocean.

    For most of us, we can in general simply assess our climate by our seasonal change in weather. There are two basic premise for climate 1) dry continental air mass, and 2) moist ocean air mass. When the two collide, we see the nastiness of Mr. Dry meets Mr. Wet. If the weather is colder, it is not a climate change, we continue to still have the premise of western moisture from the Pacific and dry continental air masses making our weather. As the moist Pacific air moves east across the continent it interacts dry continental air and with the gulf air mass; another moist oceanic air mass.

    If the globe temperature is warming, the air masses still create the weather; they are just warmer. Same for if the globe cools, we still endure with two types of climate from the two basic types of air mass. And you can go to any region of the planet and assess the climates affect on weather by the simple interaction between the battle of land air mass with oceanic air mass.

    If I live on a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific, the climate will always be humid warm and tropical. Pick any spot on the globe and track the air masses to see which generally controls the climate and the resulting weather will be the result of that climate.

    Now we see a coolness by the jet stream being more southern combined with a colder PDO combined with La Nina and there just isn’t enough CO2 make squat difference or any other feared green house gas…except the one we are all talking about: snow pack from excessive amounts dihydrogen monxide. eeeek

  81. R. Gates says:
    June 12, 2011 at 11:23 am
    ‘Has anyone noticed when scientific facts and research are used to supports a position certain people resort to ad hominems…i.e. calling people “ratty”.’

    Gates, you are a troll who has no idea that he is a troll. You are a very good troll. However, my guess is that you do not want that distinction at all.

  82. Laurie says:
    June 12, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    I asked:
    “What is a Singular Value Decomposition (SVD)?”

    Answer: This is rather complex matrix mathematics, and if you’re into that, I would suggest you check out:

    http://mathworld.wolfram.com/SingularValueDecomposition.html

    But in terms of the unique way it was applied to find the region of the pacific that was most associated with the the snow pack in the Upper Colorado River Basin, essentially they broke the Pacific Ocean down into a matrix of regions, then using regression analysis (looking at past data) they identified the region. Again, this was a very unique, but quite legitimate use of SVD, and as such is rather unique in climate studies, and should open up many other fields for similar applications.

    “Your global map shows global temps that fall in the lower range and higher range as compared to a 29 (correction: 21) year base period (1969-1990). I don’t understand why a very short base period ending 21 years ago is used.”

    Don’t know the full answer to that and it may require more research, but if true, it may be based on data that is reliable with known margins of error. I will have to look into this a bit more.

  83. R. Gates says:
    June 12, 2011 at 9:10 am

    The heavy western snowpack is a perfect example of empirical data that conflicts with the warming causes cooling theory about precipitation. The previous El Nino (warm moist air) in a cool PDO did not place anywhere near the snowpack that this years La Nina (cold moist air) did in a cool PDO. This years snowpack resembles that of the 1982-3 El Nino in a warm PDO.
    Weather and Climate are not the easy one trace gas fits all slam-dunk.
    Worse yet, the exceptional snowpack is not melting like it did in 1983, which is another hallmark of cooling.
    Proof of cooling: http://www.intelliweather.net/imagery/intelliweather/tempcity_nat_120x90.jpg
    It just doesn’t want to go away.
    Sorry R.Gates, nothing personal, but it appears that the warming might have run out of gas.

  84. The new ice age is already here. :>(

    1971 – S. H. Schneider et al.
    It is found that, although the addition of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does increase the surface temperature, the rate of temperature increase diminishes with increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. For aerosols, however, the net effect of increase in density is to reduce the surface temperature of Earth…………………….If sustained over a period of several years, such a temperature decrease over the whole globe is believed to be sufficient to trigger an ice age.
    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/173/3992/138.abstract

    Werrrre allll doooomed!

  85. Here is further sad evidence for the declining snowpack in the US.

    NYT – 10 June, 2011
    What’s to Be Done With 15 Feet of Snow in June? Utah Knows
    Snowbird has announced that it will be open for snow sports three days a week until July 4. And it could stay open even later.

  86. Sublimation is a significant factor in late season snow/ice dissipation in the Rockies and here in Washington State. It goes straight from frozen solid water to water vapor and is carried out of the area where it provides shade and rainfall. The north/south orientation of the mountain ranges in the western states exposes the slopes to direct solar energy from early morning till late afternoon. There is less water to refreeze overnight.

  87. Another factor is the angle of the snow relative to the sun and the direction the snow faces. Past the middle of August any slope facing North or NE will not see much snow melt. This will also enhance the radiative cooling and albedo of those areas.

  88. R. Gates,
    Thank you for the link. I’ll give it a try. I’ll also watch for your answer to my second question and appreciate the follow up.

  89. Checked the link and found it to be well beyond my compreshension. I’ll ask my son-in-law about it, as he graduated summa cum laude, UCB, in both his majors, math and computers. I’ve found that the very knowledgable are able to explain things in a way most people can understand. Most confusing are those who have only a little knowledge of the subject.

  90. Jimbo says:
    June 12, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    If Scheider was correct, then all that is required is a few years of sustained volcanoes popping off around the globe to get the next Ice Age started. Sounds too simple. Probably needs the right conditions to get started. Are we there yet?

  91. ClimateForAll says:
    June 11, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Snowpack seems to be the ‘cool’ topic of choice at the moment. Seems I’m not the only one with raised eyebrows surrounding the events talking place in western half of the U.S.
    Already, we have one guy attributing these events to climate change.
    Peter Fimrite, a Chronicle staff writer, asked Mike Pechner, a meteorologist from the Bay Area, to ascribe the cause of the over 90 record levels of snowpack.
    Pechner, responds saying, “I think it’s climate change.”

    It takes a village idiot to raise an eyebrow at the Denver Post. http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_18244011

    The super-abundant, heavy snowfalls of this recent winter might calm most people genuinely fretting the global warming menace. Not Joey Bunch, whose Friday headline reads, “Abundant snowpack is “a small blip” after decades of decline. Mr. Bunch goes on:

    The Rocky Mountains’ winter snow is gradually being replaced by spring rain, and it’s likely to get worse in the decades to come, a government study released Thursday indicates.

    The U.S. Geological Survey found Rocky Mountain snowpacks have declined 30 to 60 percent in parts of the Rockies over the past three decades, bucking a centuries-long trend.

    This year, northern Colorado snowpack was abundant — two to three times its 30-year average — and a cool May could push the end of the spring runoff into July, forecasters have said.

    “This year’s gains are only a small blip on a century-long snowpack decline,” the USGS said in announcing its findings.

    The dire long-term forecast cites warmer springs, earlier snowmelts and shifting winter storm patterns, all possible byproducts of global warming caused by greenhouse-gas emissions, according to the USGS.

    The warmers have doubled down in recent months, and I don’t see a republican candidate on the horizon who is going to give them a run for their money.

  92. Theo Goodwin says:
    June 12, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Gates, you are a troll who has no idea that he is a troll. You are a very good troll. However, my guess is that you do not want that distinction at all.
    ————-
    Define “troll” and “very good troll”.

    Is this supposed to be an “agreement club” where everyone comes and agrees with some standard position? I realize I am in the minority here on WUWT, and upset many skeptics with my perspective, but I think I am generally polite and try to stick to the science and even avoid the underlying political messages that many posters here carry on about. As I’ve said repeatedly here…I care about the science and the truths it can reveal to us. When I read a post here that gets the science wrong or the facts wrong, I speak up. If that makes me a troll, even a ” very good” troll, then I’ll gladly accept that title.

  93. R. Gates is completely right about warm water in the Pacific evaporating and being driven by the jetstream into cold air regions to fall as snow. This is a pattern that happens pretty much every time there’s a La Nina, as the band of cold equatorial water pushes out warm water towards the north Pacific where the jetstream can grab it. Nothing about this is a surprise or unusual at all. In Washington this is referred to as the “Pineapple Express”.

    What is unusual is that there was such a mass of cold air as to cool down that warm jetstream not only enough to drive huge snow falls, but to keep that influx of warm air cold enough to greatly reduce snow melt. That’s the real story. Jetstream dynamics can have a big effect on that, but it is unusual for cold air over the continental US to overpower the jetstream so thoroughly.

    But please, people, stop hammering R. Gates about this warm Pacific water. That part is absolutely natural Pacific fluctuations.

  94. Ged says:

    “…stop hammering R. Gates about this warm Pacific water. That part is absolutely natural Pacific fluctuations.”

    But Gates believes it isn’t natural. Well, maybe not completely. 75% of him believes it’s caused by humans.☺

  95. great for the mountain states, but we really need our water back.
    Thanks,
    The Great State of Texas

  96. R. Gates,
    Any information on my question?
    “Your global map shows global temps that fall in the lower range and higher range as compared to a 29 (correction: 21) year base period (1969-1990). I don’t understand why a very short base period ending 21 years ago is used.”

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