Sea ice decline posited to be driving snowier NH winters

From Georgia Tech, the science press release that gave us the best-warming-headline-evah thanks to media spin, likely started by BBC’s Richard Black. It is worth noting that this study cites data from such a short time from 2009-2011. Surely if any skeptical paper used such a short time period for a climatic conclusion, the paper would be laughed at and derided as the the worst kind of cherry picking. But, there’s a difference here, this paper is about synoptic scale events, in seasonal time periods, so while on one hand Arctic sea ice decline is said to be a climatic scale event (which I and others believe is driven by Asian industrialization soot and wind patterns rather than temperature), synoptic effects leading to snowier winters in the northern hemisphere is a seasonal scale event. Still, as the maxim we are constantly reminded of goes, correlation does not necessarily equal causation. The circumpolar vortex is a complex thing, like a pulsating amoeba, the lobes of high and lows can be pushed around by regional effects, so the idea isn’t totally implausible. But, I’m reserving judgment on the synoptic effects of sea ice loss on NH winter weather patterns until I see more examples. – Anthony

Arctic Sea Ice Decline May be Driving Snowy Winters Seen in Recent Years

Maps showing the differences in snow cover relative to the long-term average for the winters of (left) 2009-2010 and (right) 2010-2011. During these two winters, the Northern Hemisphere measured its second and third largest snow cover levels on record. (Credit: Jiping Liu) click to enlarge

A new study led by the Georgia Institute of Technology provides further evidence of a relationship between melting ice in the Arctic regions and widespread cold outbreaks in the Northern Hemisphere. The study’s findings could be used to improve seasonal forecasting of snow and temperature anomalies across northern continents.

Since the level of Arctic sea ice set a new record low in 2007, significantly above-normal winter snow cover has been seen in large parts of the northern United States, northwestern and central Europe, and northern and central China. During the winters of 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, the Northern Hemisphere measured its second and third largest snow cover levels on record.

“Our study demonstrates that the decrease in Arctic sea ice area is linked to changes in the winter Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation,” said Judith Curry, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech. “The circulation changes result in more frequent episodes of atmospheric blocking patterns, which lead to increased cold surges and snow over large parts of the northern continents.”

The study was published on Feb. 27, 2012 in the online early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research was supported by NASA and the National Science Foundation.

In this study, scientists from Georgia Tech, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Columbia University expanded on previous research by combining observational data and model simulations to explore the link between unusually large snowfall amounts in the Northern Hemisphere in recent winters and diminishing Arctic sea ice.

The researchers analyzed observational data collected between 1979 and 2010 and found that a decrease in autumn Arctic sea ice of 1 million square kilometers — the size of the surface area of Egypt — corresponded to significantly above-normal winter snow cover in large parts of the northern United States, northwestern and central Europe, and northern and central China.

The analysis revealed two major factors that could be contributing to the unusually large snowfall in recent winters — changes in atmospheric circulation and changes in atmospheric water vapor content — which are both linked to diminishing Arctic sea ice. Strong warming in the Arctic through the late summer and autumn appears to be enhancing the melting of sea ice.

“We think the recent snowy winters could be caused by the retreating Arctic ice altering atmospheric circulation patterns by weakening westerly winds, increasing the amplitude of the jet stream and increasing the amount of moisture in the atmosphere,” explained Jiping Liu, a senior research scientist in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech. “These pattern changes enhance blocking patterns that favor more frequent movement of cold air masses to middle and lower latitudes, leading to increased heavy snowfall in Europe and the Northeast and Midwest regions of the United States.”

Diminishing Arctic sea ice can cause changes in atmospheric circulation that lead to a circulation pattern that is different than the “negative phase” of the Arctic Oscillation.

In addition to analyzing observational data, the researchers also assessed the impact of the diminishing Arctic sea ice on atmospheric circulation by comparing the results of model simulations run with different sea ice distribution. They ran one experiment that assumed seasonally varying Arctic sea ice and utilized sea ice concentration data collected between 1979 and 2010. Another simulation incorporated prescribed sea ice loss in autumn and winter based on satellite-derived Arctic sea ice concentrations.

The simulations showed that diminishing Arctic sea ice induced a significant surface warming in the Arctic Ocean and Greenland/northeastern Canada, and cooling over northern North America, Europe, Siberia and eastern Asia. The models also showed above-normal winter snowfall in large parts of the northern United States, central Europe, and northern and central China.

The consistent relationships seen in the model simulations and observational data illustrate that the rapid loss of sea ice in summer and delayed recovery of sea ice in autumn modulates snow cover, winter temperature and the frequency of cold air outbreaks in northern mid-latitudes.

Huijun Wang and Mirong Song of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Atmospheric Physics and Radley Horton from the Columbia University Center for Climate Systems Research also contributed to this work.

This project was supported by the NASA Energy and Water Cycle Study and the National Science Foundation (NSF) (Award No. ANT-0838920). The content is solely the responsibility of the principal investigators and does not necessarily represent the official views of NASA or the NSF. 

Research News & Publications Office

Georgia Institute of Technology

75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314

Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA


newest oldest most voted
Notify of

How’s that for negative feedback then 😉

Alan the Brit

So, question. What evidence do they have to show that this sort of thing hasn’t always been going on? They only have 31 years ish of observational data, which for a climate event imho is insignificant! Also as noted they actually only cite two winters to suit their case! What caused the extremely cold winters of the ealry 1960s in northern Europe for example?


A beautiful negative feedback.
More snow -> increased reflection of sunlight -> cooling


Judith Curry, and the tail wags the dog too… Really, this makes no sense at all… Check where the scandinavian blocage was in 1963 and the sea ice extent. And Read Leroux!

David Schofield

I wonder what all the people and organisations that planned for milder wetter winters on the past 20 years advice are going to make of this? Like Otter Farm in Devon who became a ‘Mediterranean’ farm to highlight our warming climate – from their website;
“The Otter Farm blog is a window into what’s happening at the UK’s only climate change farm – where we’ve planting olives, peaches, pecans, persimmons, apricots, szechuan pepper, vines and much more.”
They’re stuffed then!

Dave in Canmore

“We think the recent snowy winters could be caused by the retreating Arctic ice”
Providing a mechanism to backstop this statement would have been nice. Perhaps in the paper they explain just HOW this happens. Considering such a mechanism is the basis for the entire claim that a warmer world is making it snowier, its omission is telling.

It is almost as if Richard Black is having a laugh at everyone’s expense.
I’m not the real Richard Black of course, but you can follow me if you want a giggle…..


Either its nonsense or a huge negative feedback. Which one is it watermelons?


Dave , Right on!

Kelvin Vaughan

Now we know what causes Ice Ages, it’s when the world gets a lot hotter and the poles melt.

I used to play with models. Then I had to get a job and actually be a productive citizen.

Tom C

As is typical of the warmists, they take the predominate weather pattern of the most recent winter, reproduce it in a climate model loaded with global warming algorithm signals, then announce that their results are completely consistent with “what we expect from global warming.” No surprise here.
In 2006-07 winter, the warm December drew posts from RealClimate describing the ‘new normal’ of US winter climate – as expected from climate models, of course, as they showed warmer winters and warmer nights.
Another competing study that winter was that there would be a disproportionately higher number of ice storms, as well, as it would no longer be cold enough aloft for snow crystallization to occur but still cold enough at the surface, for now, for freezing rain. They put that “for now” caveat there to imply that eventually there will be no freezing rain either as it will simply be too warm for even that as well. If you remember, there were some devastating ice storms that winter.
Then came the 2007-08 winter and temperatures dropped below the 30-year satellite mean (later calculated) fueled by La Nina. Record snowfalls across the northern US states. The corresponding cold drew silence from the warmists but one was brave enough to speak up, James Hansen. He claimed that by the winter of 2008-09 there would be a “super el nino” and a new global temperature record high. What happened? Another La Nina.
Then in the winter of 2008-09 La Nina brought more records, London snow in October, -50°F in Maine…and record snowfall across a wide swath of the northern US states, again. This is when “more water vapor means more snow where it’s still cold enough to snow” started. That particular weather was fed into climate models, which lo-and-behold, yielded the intended results. Heavy snowfall was now completely consistent with the climate models, only now the heavy snow would be confined to the north, and ever more so in the coming years, with much less snow, if any at all, to the south – like in areas around the Mid-Atlantic States… Then came the winter of 2009-10.
This was the winter of snowmaggedon. And snowpocalypse. What ever happened to the snowfall only occurring in the north? These were record breaking snowstorms in the Mid-Atlantic States, in Oklahoma (along with -31°F all-time state record lows – a region just recently graded zone 6 by the USDA BTW) where they were no longer supposed to occur. What’s the excuse this time? El Nino…
Then the winter of 2010-11 came. Blizzard after blizzard in NYC left snowbound by Bloomberg. Record snowfall in Philadelphia…again. But there’s La Nina this time around. I thought El Nino combined with record water vapor was the reason for the record snowfall so far south, which wasn’t supposed to occur anymore? What is it this time?
The arctic oscillation…
The last two years there’s been a record negative arctic oscillation because of the reduced sea-ice we were told. The consequence of global warming… Record high atmospheric heights over Greenland and eastern Canada, right where climate models said they would be. This is causing a “warm-arctic/cold-continents regime” bringing about record snowfalls further south.
Now we’re at this winter. Near-record postive arctic oscillation, vortex core centered over Baffin Bay much of the winter, exactly opposite of the previous two winters in the western hemisphere. Why is it so mild? Polar vortex stronger than normal? No….
Why then?
Global warming, of course…

John from CA

Alan the Brit says:
February 28, 2012 at 7:35 am
If there is a natural recurring cycle (which there is) and if we’re at the top of the 60 year cycle (which we appear to be but it varies in duration from epoch to epoch) then rolling the “way-back” machine to the top of the last similar temperature epoch (about 120 years ago — 60 years would also be interesting) should show a similar pattern of snowfall.
Were there similar conditions in the Arctic and NH snowfall around 1892 and 1952 plus or minus a few years?

cui bono

So AGW leads to colder winters. Or, taken to its logical conclusion…..
“After examination of longer timescales, it has been suggested that the increasing Pleistocene climate variability may be interpreted as a signal that the near geological future might bring a transition from glacial–interglacial oscillations to a stable state characterized by permanent mid-latitude Northern Hemisphere glaciation.”
Crowley, T. J. & Hyde, W. T. 2008
I’m at 51.2N. Send icepicks! I repeat, icepicks!

John from CA

John from CA says:
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
February 28, 2012 at 8:31 am
Alan the Brit,
There are so many natural feedbacks and forces at work (chaotic climate system), its unlikely we’ll see an exact match in trend but its a very interesting question and points to our overall understanding of the climate system. If hind casting falls, forecasting is equally flawed?

Tim Ball

I am being sued for comments in an article titled, “Corruption of Climate Science has created 30 lost years”. The supposed offending lines have been deleted in the following version.
The article by Curry et al speaks directly to my claim and concern. There is nothing new about the finding in their paper. As early as 1817 the pattern of shifting arctic ice due to changes in circulation were recorded in a letter from the President of the Royal Society to the British Admiralty notes, “It will without doubt have come to your Lordship’s knowledge that a considerable change of climate inexplicable at present to us must have taken place in the Circumpolar Regions, by which the severity of the cold that has for centuries past enclosed the seas in the high northern latitudes in an impenetrable barrier of ice has been during the last two years greatly abated… This, with information of a similar nature derived from other sources; the unusual abundance of ice islands that have during the last two summers been brought by currents from Davies Streights into the Atlantic.” The cause was changes in the circumpolar vortex triggered by eruption of Tambora in 1815 and the subsequent “Year without a Summer.” However, as we examined and wrote about in the symposium on the impact of that event available here:
The concept of planetary waves called Rossby Waves has been in the literature since their identification in 1939. Hubert Lamb’s work developed data and map reconstructions of their impact on cyclone creation and patterns in the middle latitudes, especially in his classic 1977 volume; Climate Present, Past and Future, particularly pages 440 to 549.
I have written several articles in the recent past explaining the changing pattern of the Rossby Waves and their influence on midlatitude weather. I even proposed a possible mechanism to explain the changes from Zonal Flow to Meridional Flow;
Historic correlations show increased Meridional flow as the Circumpolar Vortex expands with a cooling trend. Often the Wave amplitude increases and “blocking” occurs creating prolonged patterns of weather that are problematic for flora, fauna and humans.
When are we going to get rid of the IPCC and its stultifying restrictions on climate research? Sadly it has spawned a whole new group of “skeptics” or appeasers who deal with every new alarmism without putting it in the context of known climatology. Very few people know much about climatology. Specialists in certain areas attach themselves to individual events or phenomena and claim to have made great new discoveries.
As a matter of empirical interest I have been advising farmers for forty years of the pattern of Rossby Waves and their normal migration creating weather patterns that change on a 4 to 6 week basis. Under increased Meridional patterns this becomes an 8 to 10 week change with worryingly long and damaging wet and dry or cold and warm periods.
One thing the 1816 study showed was that not every region had year with “no summer”. See my two articles on this in the Symposium publication and in the world map reproduced in a workshop to indicate the patterns of extreme weather. The IPCC focussed on a very narrow issue, CO2, and through national weather agencies directed research funding to one side of climate science.
People publishing papers on climate in future can save a lot of time by making themselves fully familiar with the literature; unlike the IPCC. I have tried to help but all it does is bring lawsuits – maybe they explain the contradiction between being accused of lack of qualifications, misinformed and not being a “working climatologist” and yet such a threat.


My thought had always been that less sea ice means more heat escape in the Winter. An negative feedback.


And why Europe did not have a cold 2007-08 winter after the “all time record Artic ice melt” during the summer of 2007?

P. Solar

Increased areas of exposed water, more solar absorbed, more evaporation.
=> more latent and sensible heat transferred to lower troposphere, hence to space; more cloud, more reflected sunlight, more precipitation as snow.
More snow , more ice, reduced surface absorption.
Sounds like a pretty clear negative feedback reaction.
Whatever you want to attribute the initial rise to, CO2 cosmic rays or Chinese soot, That seems like a clear demonstration that water cycle provides as strong negative feedback not the positive one assumed by IPCC modellers.

Gary Pearse

At least recent papers, although desperately trying to recover from the funk of the stalled warming, are not mentioning carbon dioxide any more. I guess old CO2 has let them down over the past 15 years. My tried and tested formula for understanding recent weather is to look back 50-60 years.


“Summer” arctic sea ice minimums occur in mid-September, right at the equinox, at what is now just a little over 4 x 10^6 km^2. At that time, the highest solar incidence angle (at noon each day) is only 10 degrees above the horizon. Less than 20% of the inbound solar energy can be absorbed – even on clear days! – by direct sunlight, and what can get through the clouds as diffuse radiation is reflected first by those same clouds. (If you have a clear day with no clouds, you have very little wind and now waves, and so what little radiation gets through the air is reflected by the water’s surface. If you have a cloudy day and thus diffuse radiation – which does get absorbed by water’s “dark” surface – is present, then those same clouds reflect the sun’s energy before it can get down to the surface. CAGW faces a lose-lose situation in the high Arctic at the equinoxes!
Actual air masses vary during the day at 80 north as the sun moves across the southern skies, but vary between 3.5 and 11 air masses. As at sunset even in the tropics, so little sun light gets through this much thicker atmosphere at 80 north in mid-Sept that you can look directly at the sun at almost all hours of the day with little effect. Obviously, myths of 24 hour daylight are wrong: at the time when Arctic ice is at a minimum, there is (at most) only 12 hours when the sun is even above the horizon, and only 2-4 hours each day when it is higher than 6 degrees above the horizon.
This 4 million km2 minimum sea ice extent corresponds to a “circle” or polar ice cap centered at the north pole and extending down only as far south as latitude 79.6 north. (The actual cap at minimum extents is very slightly offset towards Nome and the Bering Strait, and a very little bit of mid-summer ice ioccurs east of Greenland, but this is an excellent approximation.)
All other northern sea ice has already disappeared in today’s world. Therefore, any climatic changes due to polar ice extent changes have already happened. That is, if Arctic evaporation increases with increased sea ice loss, then – south of latitude 80 north – there has been NO change in sea ice extents and thus no change in evaporation amounts since the last Ice Age when sea levels were 300 feet lower and glaciers covered Chicago and Lake Michigan.
What changes have taken place since sea ice extents began being measured in the mid-70’s is a drop from (perhaps) 5.0 million km2 to 4.5 km^2 in the latitudes of 78 north to 79 north. If the writers can explain how snow levels have increased worldwide ( or at least at a substantial number of longitude arcs east and west of 0.0 through 45 west?) at latitudes from 57 north through 80 north based on increased evaporation and global wind changes (?) at 78 north, then they may be on to something.
A “change in the polar ice cap” that explains ANY other event of ANY other magnitude must begin by explaining what changes to today’s (1970 through 2010) ice coverages happen at that latitude – NOT at Greenland’s latitude 20 degrees further south!). Further, any such change due to polar ice loss MUST include increased evaporation heat loss and absorptive radiative physics of what little sunlight gets through the increased atmospheric mass at 80+ north, and what is not reflected of off low incident clouds.)
Note that the DMI HAS measured Arctic temperatures since 1958. And, since 1958, as sea ice extents have declined, actual measured Arctic temperatures DURING THE ONLY SEASON WHEN THE SUN IS SHINING – and therefore during the only period when sunlight can be absorbed by the newly exposed water – have declined. Not a lot, but they have actually declined. (Hansen’s well-trained NASA-GI$$ Arctic temperature reconstructions get around this inconvenient fact by extrapolating mid-tundra Canadian Arctic temperatures north as much as 1200 km across the arctic ocean, and then further hide the summer temperature decline by only using the yearly-smoothed averaged value. Mid-winter arctic temperatures – which may have increased – are irrelevant to mid-summer albedo feedbacks above 80 north. )
Note separately that the CAGW mytheme of catastrophic sea ice melting feedback requires an assumption that one-summer’s ice extent means more (or less) sea ice extent happens the next summer. But, since 2007, that myth is exploded: sea ice minimums one summer do NOT extrapolate across the winter to the next summer. There is NO feedback, each season -whether increasing or decreasing – stands on its own. Note also however that for 30+ years sea ice minimum extents have decreased: But that decrease has continued at the same steady rate DESPITE a constant global temperature for the past 15 years, and was steadily decreasing during a 25year increase in global temperatures. Therefore, minimum Arctic sea ice extents are CANNOT (yet) be used as a demonstration or proof of ANY assumed global temperature change.
However, in part, we have demonstrated with the actual numbers using the DMI data that Dr Curry’s hypothesis “may” be right: decreased late-summer Arctic sea ice minimums increase arctic water exposure in mid-September. This in turn increases evaporation heat losses while mid-September arctic sunlight (at 80 north) is too little and too low and passing through through too much air mass to increase heat absorption. Thus, Arctic air temperatures have decreased during the same period.
But snow levels in regions as much as 20 degrees further south across Europe and mid-Greenland? Not demonstrated. Yet.

Tim Ball – who is suing you?
In other news, Michael Mann is doing the most boring Q&A ever on the Guardian site:

Anthony’s intro:
…so while on one hand Arctic sea ice decline is said to be a climatic scale event (which I and others believe is driven by Asian industrialization soot and wind patterns rather than temperature)
Josh says: February 28, 2012 at 7:30 am
How’s that for negative feedback then 😉
My research agrees with the above
no support by NASA though, so don’t expect the too much in a way of explanation.

Rhys Jaggar

Being a UK resident of 47 years, I can tell you that the following winters were cold and/or snowy in UK/Europe:
1. 1947.
2. 1962/3.
3. 1979.
4. 1981/2.
5. 1984/5.
6. 1985/6.
7. 1986/7.
1. December 1981 saw 1ft of snow in the Thames valley before Christmas and UK record low temperatures. Snow arrived in the valleys of Austria in the last week of October and didn’t leave until late April – 8 weeks odd more than average.
2. 1984/5 Christmas/New Year was so cold in the Alps that as soon as the sun went down, the ski slopes emptied like that. It’s the only time in 30 years of ski-ing that I wanted TWO vin chauds to warm up coming off the slopes. Our fuel in the coach home solidified outside Grenoble and we had to cut the tank to inject anti-freeze. I’ve never seen that happen before or since. We returned to find snow on the roads in the UK.
3. 1985/6 I was at Uni in Cambridge and the Cam river froze for 6 weeks between January and late February.
4. 1986/7 saw blizzards in Glasgow for 1 week solid in the first week of January. We broke open the river at 200m above sea-level with ice axes to get water to boil for tea on a mountaineering trip.
I have no idea what the state of arctic ice was at those times………..but it’s surely a piece of research that any competent researcher could do in one week – get the temperature data for the past 50 years, then get the arctic sea ice data for similar periods.

Dave in Canmore says:
February 28, 2012 at 8:10 am
“We think the recent snowy winters could be caused by the retreating Arctic ice”
Providing a mechanism
They did provide the “mechanism”
“we think”
Goes right along with their hubris.

Isn’t this similar to Herman Alexander Pope’s hypothesis of negative feedback equilibrium covered on Judith Curry’s blog here?


I reserve opinion on this. But note that of the USA winter weather patterns, only two would accommodate the hypothesis, and those are the more uncommon.
Note that when you use this feature, to escape the blowup, there is an “esc” button in upper right hand corner.


Beringia was woodland forest and grassland/steep during that last glaciation. Just something to ponder. OTH, stating that Increasing arctic ice could cause warmer NH winters, would be just as relevant as the spin-full headline.


What is quite refreshing from the press release, is there is no reference to “climate”. From this press release, it seems clear that the research is focused on the level of arctic ice in the autumn, and what the weather patterns are like in the Northern Hemisphere during the following winter. While some might spin it, Georgia Tech doesn’t seem to do that.


Apparently the arctic didn’t retreat enough this time around since Scandinavia hardly got any snow at all, nor was it especially cold for too long. Too bad it doesn’t seem to fit the snowiest and coldest winters neither, so maybe they ought not include all of europe.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

…and found that a decrease in autumn Arctic sea ice of 1 million square kilometers — the size of the surface area of Egypt…
Because merely saying “as big as Egypt” isn’t scientifically precise enough. Of course “surface area” would include the proper adding up of all the sides of all those Egyptian mountains and valleys, etc, which may actually be too large. From here comes the “flat” measurement with some common reference units:
Covering 1,001,449 km2, Egypt has a land area about the same as that of Texas and New Mexico combined, four times bigger than that of the United Kingdom, and twice as big as that of France.
Sadly they neglected to include the conversions to American football fields and Olympic-sized swimming pools, although the latter more often refers to a unit of volume.
Wow, a million square kilometers. That’s impressive. That’s almost the size of Gleick’s, Black’s, and Connolley’s egos combined.


Climate science has turned into peer reviewed comedy. It no longer scares their public but it scares the hell out of stand up comedians.


I am going to plagiarize a post from someone else on this blog a few months ago.
If we use this theory as a thought experiment and carry it out to its furthest point –
Global warming induced by Carbon Dioxide will warm the Arctic Ocean until it becomes a bubbling cauldron surrounded by a doughnut of snow.


A massive cooling took place during northern hemispheric winters over the past 5 years, this coincided with a solar cycle which Sun Spot Numbers fell to zero for any length of time since approximately 1934, there were 5 previous solar cycles which Sun Spot Numbers fell to zero for any length of time since 1866 resulting in over all cooler winters, compare this to the cycles from 1954 to 2012 when there have been just one solar cycle which Sun Spot Numbers fell to zero for any length of time and that was in 2008, the physical solar effects indicated by a cycle of sun spot number is more plausible for any warming/cooling of northern hemispheric winters, snowier NH winters apparently still coincide Colder NH winters.
Anthropogenic Global warming => Sea ice decline => snowier NH winters

John from CA

The history of British winters;sess=
As a whole, the mid 1800s [were] very snowy (the little ice age ending), but the nearer the end of the century came, the smaller the snowfalls grew, until the early 1900s, they were little or average, emulating the 90’s. It looks as though the ends and beginnings of centuries record little snow, whereas the middle two quarters receive lots. The pattern continues. 1909-15 recorded little or average snowfalls, nothing really to write home about, other than a few falls of up to 2.5 ft, but no real consistency in the cold/snowy periods. London came away with practically no snowfall in 1912-13, whereas Northern Britain was quite snowy. This decade was far from good for snow lovers! I bet they started talking of no more snow for the UK again, as we are doing now. Shows how wrong they were…
The snow drought ended abruptly in 1916, with enormous falls of snow in the mountains, 10ft in the Pennines, Black Mountains, and the High Peak District. Several general falls of snow recorded. A very snowy year.
1946-47: The year you’ve most probably been waiting for! One of the snowiest winters to date, probably the worst since 1814 (see part 5). Snow fell on the 19th December in Southern England. Then there was a notable mild spell, extremely mild in parts, with 14c being reached by day. Then from the 22nd January, it began! There was continuous snow cover from this date, right up till 17th March! Late January saw 7 inches of snow in South West England and the Scilly Isles (unusual). Early February saw the turn of the Midlands (Southern) and East Anglia, while Northern England, North Wales and Eastern Scotland saw snow in late February. In early March there was a blizzard in England and Wales, with 1ft widely, and 5ft accumulated on the hills! 12th March saw snow for the Border Country. 1946-47 was strange, because it started up late, and lasted a long time. I think 2003-04 will mirror 1947 in lots of ways, mainly in terms of snowfall, but not so extreme and long lasting. Very snowy.

John from CA

GSL — Rutgers University Global Snow Lab
Fall Northern Hemisphere Snow Extent


From the BBC article
“The picture is further complicated by the involvement of the Arctic Oscillation, a natural variation of air pressure that also changes northern weather.
Dr Len Shaffrey, University of Reading: “This is very early days for this research”
The oscillation is not understood well enough to predict – and even if it were, any pattern it has may be changing due to escalating greenhouse gas concentrations.”
At last, I now know what it feels to be “gobsmacked”.

Interesting…. this explains why there’s no amplified response in the last 10 years or so…..
Well, no response at all…. temp wise.


At 23 north (average) Egypt is too far north to compare on Hansen-Mann’s favorite Mercator map projections – which are required to imply that the Arctic Ocean and Greenland’s ice cap are larger than South America and Africa combined!
Of the equatorial countries, Tanzania (slightly smaller at roughly 800,000 km2) or Angola (slightly larger at 1246700 km2) gives a better contrast. Northern Territory (Australia) is also slightly larger at 1,200,000 km2 at about 15 south. Maybe we should “average” Egypt and South Australia: also at 1,000,000 km2 but balancing Egypt at 23 south.

John from CA

After looking at Rutgers Snowfall trend analysis, which you can see by clicking the posted link, and as a fan of the whole Sea Ice saga for several years, a number of issues jump to mind if Sea Ice in the Arctic is being used as the smoking gun.
The snow fall trends show a fairly flat Fall trend, Winter increase in the US, and an overall Spring decline long before the Sea Ice record began. So it seems logical to conclude that the average used for Sea Ice extent and its implied implication on climate is “fubar”.
Personal opinion from the John Q. Public POV and possibly incorrect.

Gil Dewart

Note some more of the attendant feedback effects: open water means more CO2 absorption; more snow on existing sea ice means higher albedo; more snow on in-feeding river basins means fresher surface water and higher freezing temperatures; increased convection over open water and possibly more surface snow being blown back into it; etc.

There are some odd things about the Atlantic; while the North is well organised the South is a mess:
(one idea: the north has a strong earth’s magnetic field holding under control currents, while in the south the field is the weakest anywhere on the globe (the SA anomaly), so the currents are less regulated)
The Equator-Arctic has a strong mutual coupling, while there is none in for the Equator-Antarctica.
Could be a coincidence that up to 1980 Arctic was ‘inversely’ retracing its own steps from 62 years earlier?
but even stranger coincidence (if it is that) so it does the Equator (following the Arctic from 62 years earlier), except when the Arctic broke off in 1980 (possibly due to volcanic ash) the Equator carried on for the full stretch to the present time.
Could this be the Scafetta’s 60 year cycle?
60 years is far too long for a negative feedback, but the oceanic tide 60 year half-cycle is feasible.
Until these events are clearly understood, the climate scientists don’t stand a chance to separate natural cycles from other climatic drivers, whatever they may be.

Matt G

Technically an ice free Arctic could cause an ice age giving the precipition needed to build glaciers around dry regions of the Arctic and sub-Arctic. At the same time more energy from the ocean is lost to space forever, increasing the risk of the globe cooling. But this only applies in the reasoning that the initial warm period would cause snowier winters later in the NH. While there are snowier winters from this, the world itself can’t continue to warm, the likely senario would be future cooling, that may not never recover from. (human life time, hundreds of years or even a major ice age depending where in the sun’s cycle) This is not alarmist because it is only the real mechanism that can describe how ice ages start. Not suprsing then that many peak warm periods (warmer than today) rapidly descend into a major ice age.
Whether less ice causes colder and snowier winters for the NH is not supported by the data since satellites began. There have been far more winters that have been mild during low period of sea ice than cold ones. While the Arctic ice was at high levels there were still very cold and snowy winters and mild winters. The general trend of declining sea ice has been milder winters in the NH, not cold and snowy. The only change over the last few winters that this research has been claiming, is the much longer solar minimum.


MAVukcevic says:
February 28, 2012 at 11:17 am
“…Until these events are clearly understood, the climate scientists don’t stand a chance to separate natural cycles from other climatic drivers, whatever they may be.”
Isn’t that the funniest most comical part of warmology studied under the field of climatology by fanatical warmologists! the car get’s invented before the wheel, the cart gets put before the horse and the tail wags the dog etc…


Very interesting comments, especially from Tim Ball and RACookPE1978. First I have read of Rossby waves.
Dr. Ball: given the apparent ~60 year cyclic component in the global average temperature metric, would you suspect the source of this oscillation could be a Rossby wave?

John from CA

MAVukcevic says:
February 28, 2012 at 11:17 am
The cycles emerged from numerous studies on behalf of pragmatic concerns. The pragmatic concern was where to find fish (flavor and species of choice). The oceans apparently modulate the climate in a variety of ways.
From nearly every country that borders the seas and oceans, we have numerous studies related to the natural climate patterns and the influence on the species of choice.
My hands down favorite is from Russia but the US and Australia all confirm the same cycles in differing geographic ways.
Did the IPCC mess-up the feedbacks or are they guilty of a lack of insight related to natural forces and the cycles?
Is a study related to one small aspect of the climate system guilty of the same?

It’s warmer than we thought in the Arctic. GHCN’s adjustments for Iceland and Greenland also extend to Norway and Russia.


Bart says:
February 28, 2012 at 12:01 pm
“Dr. Ball: given the apparent ~60 year cyclic component in the global average temperature metric, would you suspect the source of this oscillation could be a Rossby wave?”
Perhaps as in slide #18 here.