Report: ‘Forget global warming, Alaska is headed for an ice age’

Alex DeMarban


Alaska is going rogue on climate change.

Defiant as ever, the state that gave rise to Sarah Palin is bucking the mainstream yet again: While global temperatures surge hotter and the ice-cap crumbles, the nation’s icebox is getting even icier.

That may not be news to Alaskans coping with another round of 50-below during the coldest winter in two decades, or to the mariners locked out of the Bering Sea this spring by record ice growth.

Then again, it might. The 49th state has long been labeled one of the fastest-warming spots on the planet. But that’s so 20th Century.

In the first decade since 2000, the 49th state cooled 2.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

But now comes cooling. Researchers blame the Decadal Oscillation, an ocean phenomenon that brought chillier surface water temperatures toward Alaska. Some contend the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is harming the state’s king salmon runs, too.

Full story here


Bob Tisdale and I have been working on a special report on this since last week, and I expect to publish it this week. – Anthony


59 thoughts on “Report: ‘Forget global warming, Alaska is headed for an ice age’

  1. You must have mistakenly published the wrong graph, Anthony. That one shows a clear warming
    trend since 1979. The dip from PDO, or any short term trend, doesn’t mean anything. As for heavy Spring ice on the Bering Sea, maybe that ship captain didn’t notice what happened to the Arctic Ice during the summer: it disappeared.

    REPLY: No it is the right graph. But a few hot days in summer verify global warming according to you and your laughable friend Joe Romm. Heh. – Anthony

  2. Interesting. One could restrict observations to only remote stations in North America. No doubt the proximity to ocean temp influence is a factor. On one side of Alaska is Arctic ocean and the other is Pacific ocean. Then there is the general circulation of polar air masses.

  3. Will we southerners in the Lower 48 listen, be informed and take lessons from the Alaskans as they learn to cope with the Modern Minimum?

    A roomie at NRTS in Idaho made igloos as part of his bush-pilot training, and taught us. I’ve been wondering about super-insulating my northern Wisconsin cabin home with dry snow igloo-blocks. They certainly made our igloos snug.

  4. I am sure someone will comment that this is not inconsistent with Anthopogenic Global Warming!

  5. Another thing to forget is the foolish nonsense headlines. My northern experience tells me this is simply business as usual north of 60 and north of 55 too.

  6. BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon and NWT are cooling over the last 15 years as well.

    The last 5 years in BC is .79C colder than it was in the previous 5 years/

  7. Doug Huffman says:
    January 2, 2013 at 7:44 am
    “A roomie at NRTS in Idaho made igloos as part of his bush-pilot training, and taught us. I’ve been wondering about super-insulating my northern Wisconsin cabin home with dry snow igloo-blocks. They certainly made our igloos snug.”

    Good idea. A friend of mine during extreme cold spells would water the outside walls of his house to create an insulation barrier. The frozen water kept out the wind as well as providing additional insolation… It works well!

  8. Mike Roddy says:
    January 2, 2013 at 7:32 am

    “As for heavy Spring ice on the Bering Sea, maybe that ship captain didn’t notice what happened to the Arctic Ice during the summer: it disappeared.”

    Mike, check the current JAXA arctic ice extent chart. The ice is back! Hooray!

    (PS: It was -4 F in my neighborhood this morning. How can this be? I thought the cold and ice had disappeared…[heh])

  9. ENSO just went negative. Just possible that we are headed for a triple-dip La Nina. There is a lot of subsurface cool water along the equatorial Pacific, heightened trades could turn it all up acellerating a La Nina. Happy 2013 everyone!

  10. After the last decade’s results from summer Arctic melts, you would have us believe that Alaska is going through a localized ice age. You might consider with warming conditions, those places which normally get so cold that it stops snowing, more precipitation (in the form of snow) will occur. This is noticed all over the world today. Stop the BS.

  11. @EW3

    >Is Alaska the canary in the mine of global cooling ?

    More like the vulture of global cooling, circling high over N America ready to pick clean the frozen carcass of CAGW.

    As talk turns to how GHG’s have caused this unprecedented cooling we the more rational should be mindful of the needs of others.

  12. The whole globe is cooling, because of SUN. Cooling takes time, and GISS, CRU etc. makes data adjustment for slowing downtrend. Argo data calibrated from satelites and satelites calibrated from Argo – WELL MEASURED.

  13. Anthony

    Didn’t the PDO just recently switch from “warm” to “cold”? These results are indicative of cyclical, natural forcings but do not suggest “Ice Age” yet. if the temps drop below previous lows in the first half of the chart, I’ll concur.


  14. The ignorant Mike Roddy overlooks even regional variations, such as the ice that hampered gray whales’ ability to get their favoured food a couple of times in the past decade. Even with much less total ice extent in the heat of summer there are clogged areas (actually more because remaining ice is more free to get moved around by winds and currents. Think!

  15. Oh noes! The next little ice age is marked down for next year by Dr. Habibullo Abdusamatov.

    Forecasters predict that a new ice age will begin soon. Habibullo Abdusamatov, a scientist from the Pulkovo Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences considers that the sharp drop in temperature will start on the Earth in 2014.

    This good doctor is an Russian astrophysicist, project of the Russian section of the International Space Station, head of Space research laboratory at the Saint Petersburg-based Pulkovo Observatory and Supervisor of the Astrometria. And if anyone screams that he is no climate scientist then neither is the astronomer / physicist Dr. James Hansen of NASA.

  16. Calling this an “ice age” is rather hyperbolic, don’t you think? Regression towards the century mean is not exactly the same thing as plunging below it. Time will tell if the cooling continues or if and where it stabilizes. And Alaska, large as it is, is still a tiny chunk of real estate globally.

    Far more interesting is what effect the PDO is likely to have on mean Pacific Ocean temperatures in its “cooling phase”. That’s because the Pacific Ocean is around 1/3 of the surface area of the planet. Alaska could cool 1-2 C and hardly affect global average temperatures (perhaps a few hundreths of a degree max). If the Pacific SSTs cool 0.6 C, it will drop global averages 0.2 C all by itself, and because a lot of continental weather is “inherited” from air masses locked into the Pacific, it would probably amplify this effect to 0.3C or more.

    I look forward to Bob Tisdale’s analysis on this, as he is the expert on Pacific SSTs and decadal oscillations. I also look forward to learning what will happen to Arctic temperatures if and when the Atlantic oscillation finally changes phase. It seems plausible that the equator will heat up and both poles will cool when that happens (the Earth cools more efficiently when high and low temperatures are areally concentrated, and cools less efficiently the more the incoming heat is mixed and distributed, so really all that it takes to cool the planet is a tiny bit less tropical mixing, a tiny growth of the Ferrel cells at the expense of the Arctic and Hadley cells. Or, as Bob will likely tell us, changes in ENSO which have much the same effect.


    REPLY: I agree it is a bit hyperbolic, but that’s the newspaper’s headline, not mine. – Anthony

  17. Patrick says:
    “Too late to sell it back the Russians, errrm, or someone?”
    Why would we want to do that? Plenty of oil and mineral weath up there. And an important Air Force base as well.

  18. The graph would be consistent with a general change that happened around 1976 and the recent cooling would be consistent with the fact that these cycles tend to last roughly 60 years in period with roughly 30 warm and 30 cool. I don’t see anything surprising in that graph and people in Alaska should prepare for 30-ish years of cooler weather. To what extent the recent weak solar cycle will add any additional change remains to be seen.

  19. Well there are an increasing number of “Sun” specialists who think cold is on the way. And certainly much that correlates well with Earth’s known past. – Interesting times.

    I do enjoy the input of the warmists who turn up here. What amazes me (no it doesn’t really) is the lack of an enquiring mind and the simple regurgitation of out-of-date stuff from Warming Central.

    IPCC AR4 in 2007 told us that we would see increasingly wet and mild NH winters. Well it can’t be that everywhere and it can’t be cold everywhere either. The UK has been pretty wet and average so far this winter, but to add to the recent cold winters in Alaska, you have to add in those in Russia and Eastern Europe. All-time record low is all these areas as well as Scandinavia and parts of north mainland USA and Canada. Of course December 2010 was the coldest for more than 100 years in the UK and the second coldest in the world’s longest temperature record going back to the mid 17th century.

    The much vaunted “extreme” USA summer saw no State break a high record. Much steer droppings about Hurricanes, demonstrably lies.

    All this proves nothing BUT I think if my job depended on pushing the CAGW meme beyond a few years I would be looking for an exit strategy.

  20. Mike Roddy says:
    January 2, 2013 at 7:32 am

    While you are quick to dismiss the drop in temperature as an artifact of PDO, you seem to ignore that the increase in temperature also is an artifact of PDO.

  21. Bill Yarber says:
    January 2, 2013 at 8:51 am

    PDO going into a cold phase at the same time the sun is going into a funk.
    Not good.

  22. CD (@CD153) says:
    January 2, 2013 at 9:40 am

    There are many important bases there.
    Air Force- Elmendorf AFB, Eielson AFB, Clear Air Force Station, Air Station, Kodiak,
    Air Station, Sitka.
    Army- Fort Greely, Fort Richardson, Fort Wainwright.
    Coast Guard- ISC Kodiak, Marine Safety Unit Valdez, USCG Juneau, Marine Safety Office, Anchorage.
    And my personal favorite- The Naval Air Station (NAS) Adak. :)

  23. ****
    Rick says:
    January 2, 2013 at 8:30 am

    You might consider with warming conditions, those places which normally get so cold that it stops snowing, more precipitation (in the form of snow) will occur.

    Funny that — northern Alaska seems dry (& dang cold):

  24. SanityP says:

    January 2, 2013 at 8:33 am

    – I have noticed this most disturbing of trends, all the cold disappears in the summer!


    You obviously didn’t spend the summer in England then.

  25. Mike Roddy says:
    January 2, 2013 at 7:32 am

    You must have mistakenly published the wrong graph, Anthony. That one shows a clear warming
    trend since 1979. The dip from PDO, or any short term trend, doesn’t mean anything. As for heavy Spring ice on the Bering Sea, maybe that ship captain didn’t notice what happened to the Arctic Ice during the summer: it disappeared….
    The 2007 Arctic Ice ‘melt’ was due to winds and the 2012 melt was due to a storm. So says NASA.

    What you SHOULD pay attention to is the length of the Arctic Melt Season which is nose diving and the beginning of winter weather, the October Northern Hemisphere Snow Cover which shows an increase in fall snow cover.

    Warmist keep confusing warm with ‘warming’

    In defense of Milankovitch by Gerard Roe
    …However, Gerard Roe realized a trivial mistake that had previously been done. And a similar mistake is being done by many people all the time – scientists as well as laymen; alarmists as well as skeptics. The problem is that people confuse functions and their derivatives; they say that something is “warm” even though they mean that it’s “getting warmer” or vice versa.

    In this case, the basic correct observation is the following: If you suddenly get more sunshine near the Arctic circle, you don’t immediately change the ice volume. Instead, you increase the rate with which the ice volume is decreasing (ice is melting). Isn’t this comment trivial?

    Nigel Calder knew that this was the right comparison to be made back in 1974.

    So the right quantity that should be compared with the insolation – i.e. the sunshine near the Arctic circle – is not the ice volume itself but its time derivative. No doubt about it.

  26. Daily Mail has picked up the story:

    2 Jan: Daily Mail: What global warming? Alaska is headed for an ice age as scientists report state’s steady temperature decline
    Since 2000, temperatures in Alaska have dropped by 2.4 degrees Fahrenheit
    Scientists reviewed weather reports from 20 climate stations operated by the National Weather Service located across Alaska
    19 of the 20 weather stations reported falling temperatures
    An ocean phenomenon has disrupted a storm regulating system thus allowing cold winter storms to linger longer and bring a deep chill
    Local residents have noticed the colder temps but say its no big deal since they are already bundled up for 20-below zero temperatures

  27. This all reminds me why I am so happy not to be living in Alaska. Things could get really nasty and cold there very soon. Oh, well, time to go to the beach for a swim at Coogee, I think.

  28. Got to love the article’s opening statement:

    “While global temperatures surge hotter and the ice-cap crumbles, the nation’s icebox is getting even icier.”

    Even when an article is covering a newsworthy cooling event, they can’t leave out the propaganda.


    I was looking at the global SST’s and I’m beginning to wonder if rather than another flatish temp year if we might actually see a somewhat significant cooling trend. How will the IPCC’s next assessment handle that? Certainly we appear to be done with a ‘surge hotter’ for a while.

  29. This is bad news for Texas. We are temporarily the second largest state in both land area and population. With every productive person leaving California, we’ll soon have the largest population, but we were counting on global warming to melt off enough of Alaska to make us number one in land area, too.

  30. Can we send all Greenies there? Okay, okay, just the extreme ones. Might be better than jail time – they can sit around outside and have a picnic – no wood-burning, mind – and talk about how… er… warm it… er… isn’t.

  31. Interesting timing on the Alaska Dispatch story a week ago. It followed a couple days the listing of two arctic seal species as threatened due to the impending loss of Arctic Ocean ice due to the scourge of manmade global warming due to carbon dioxide emissions. Of the two species, one currently numbers in the millions and the other in the hundreds of thousands. Both are protected from hunting by everyone except the natives. Sometimes these Bozi (multiple Bozos) don’t take the time to get their stories straight.

    For the ice to all melt while Siberia and AK are seeing temps in the -40s means there is a bodacious temperature inversion sitting on the shoreline between the North Slope and the Arctic Ocean. Funny, nobody has reported such a thing recently (or ever). /sarc

    Cheers –

  32. 2007 had a warm summer, 2008 less so. 2009 on has been cold. 2011/2012 winter set snow fall records in SouthCentral (Anchorage, the Gulf Coast, Kenai Peninsula). Snow accumulation on the Kenai mountains north of the Harding Ice Field was greater than I have ever seen (to 1969).

    Ice Age? The trend is clearly down, in concert with the PDO and solar activity. Check back in around 40 years for the answer.

  33. The increase in the weakest of the Polar jet stream during the summer is likely to lead to a increase in risk of colders winters over the NH landmases. Because it will allow the cold and snow to set in early over the large landmases.

  34. Don’t sell it back to the Russians… go to ANWR, and frack out the energy there… we’re going to need it once the public starts burning wood again to keep warm.

  35. Mario Lento says:
    January 2, 2013 at 8:31 pm
    Don’t sell it back to the Russians… go to ANWR, and frack out the energy there… we’re going to need it once the public starts burning wood again to keep warm.

    Wood, you want wood?

    Come to Kansas and the Great Plains. Woody vegetation has destroyed (and the white man) has destroyed the tall grass prairie.

    And don’t even think of burning your grazing land in the spring like da injuns did. EPA wants to ban that too.

    Bring your 2 cycle chain saw and cut down as much wood as you want. I grow grass. (for moo chow food).

  36. “CD (@CD153) says:

    January 2, 2013 at 9:40 am”

    I was talking with tongue firmly in cheek, I should use the /sarc off tag. But, if this really is a cooling trend of some significance how much of Alaska will be under ice?

  37. Such makes one wonder how much of the difference in temperature trends between different areas may have to do with those doing the reporting. In Alaska, for the source of that plot, there is probably not a CAGW bias among the people involved. Anyway, it is similar in overall pattern to the arctic as a whole in . (Arctic ice trends are no contradiction if seeing the annual average in and longer history in ). That arctic temperature trend is similar, in the period of overlap, to the Northern Hemisphere average in such as the old article from the 1970s at (which predated the CAGW movement and thus would be exceptionally trustworthy for not having intentional CAGW-favoring bias).

    A poster on this site, HenryP, sometimes posts an average of global temperature stations, without questionable adjustments. Although I don’t have quite the same views on prior temperatures before that dataset as he does, his illustration shows well that even global temperatures have been relatively starting to cool after the late 1990s. Likely a Grand Minimum of solar activity may be coming in near-future decades, with consequences as in and and . So that cooling could dramatically increase over the next couple decades and beyond, not just returning to the 1960s but much colder. In any case, we’ll see what happens, as in soon interesting times.

  38. At just under 40°N and 6600ft it’s -13°F this morning in western Colorado, or -25°C. In the last week or two when we heard of -50°C in Siberia, and -17°C in Moscow (50°N) we had -17°F or -27°C. We’re not as cold as Siberia yet, but we’re working on it.

  39. Steve Keohane says:
    January 3, 2013 at 5:35 am

    Steve, we were at -15 F this morning where I live in western New Hampshire. The record low for this date is -16 F. Many places in Vermont were -20 F and below. I’m quite sure many low temperature records in our area were tied or broken.

  40. The map for lows this am from NOAA shows below freezing in all lower 48 states except Florida. Brr. They had to reserve hot red for 60-70s °F. Snow was expected in Southwest Texas and Northern Mexico.

  41. As I have posted before, this Ice Ages look increasingly like polar events. What I mean, is that the climatic warming and cooling is centered on the polar latitudes and not in the tropics.

    I have sat and watched the jetstreams for 25 years, and what we often term as warming and cooling is determined by the lattitudes of the jetstreams (but of course the jetstreams are being influenced by something else – something like the PDO). Thus yes, the northern lattitudes are indeed the canaries of climate.

  42. I’m not surprised at a change in salmon returns in Alaska. Some years ago research in OR showed a strong correlation between salmon returns and the PDO. Returns tended to flip between OR+WA and AK, with BC in between. Returns in BC especially xvaried by type of salmon (e.g. chinook, spring, sockeye).

    In AK they are fond of distinguishing between rivers, “King” are chinook from the King river at the continental end of the Aleutian island chain. Seattle goes agog over salmon from the Copper River which is in the Wrangell Mountains adjacent to YT (its ocean delta is near Prince William Sound), which are sockeye.

    A big hearing by the Canadian government did not achieve more than illuminate several possibilities that are not well recognized. One is small sharks north of Vancouver Island. Contrary to eco-activist claims, fish farms are not to blame (the “Cohen Commission” recommended continuing a moratorium in one area, not extending it to all fish farm).

    There is research correlating north coast salmon returns to water temperatures inland (of course prevailing winds blow evaporated water over land to the east).

    The fish of course aren’t listening to the pontificators and activists – a couple of years ago the sockeye return to the large Fraser River system was the best in several decades. (That’s a very big river system, akin to the Columbis

    Do keep in mind when reading the Alaska Dispatch newspaper articles that the success rate of fish eggs at producing adult salmon is inherently very low at the best of times.

  43. @Silver Ralph:

    Yes, the Ice Age Glacials are more about distribution than overall global cold. At the Gulf Stream sinks further south, the heat doesn’t melt the arctic ice cap, the G.S. also slows and the warm water backs up near Florida. Florida gets added rains (as in summer) from the added warmth (that whole thunderstorm thermostat of Willis picking up the heat flow slack) and even the “Desert Southwest” of the USA gets more rains. So an Ice Age Glacial isn’t all bad. Florida gets about twice as wide, too, as the ice builds up ‘up north’.

    So all you folks in the Frozen North can move south and it will be fine. Oh, takes 100,000 years for the ice to build up, so you have plenty of time. ( It can get cold fast, but the mass transport to make the ice sheet is slow….) Details:

    including citations of papers. Oh, and I suspect that the present shift to cold in Alaska is part of the “bi-polar see saw”, likely driven by lunar tidal cycles. We’ve shifted to a cooling cycle on that and it causes more mixing of surface waters that leads to cold.

    Bottom third or so of this on:

  44. My impression of the question of why fish populations fluctuate/shift is the same as I’ve concluded about climate research – no one really knows.

    And as with climate the ocean is heavily involved. In theory rivers can be monitored, but it is hard to monitor the ocean. As the “Looking for Clues” article says: “ the ocean where everything happens beneath the water and the list of predators is exhaustive.” A fish-eating-fish world it seems.
    People are studying the fish subject. A monitoring network of accoustic sensors is being built – it tracked fish from a tributary of the Columbia all the way to the end of the network at that time – the north end of Vancouver Island.

    The correlation with the PDO that I mentioned is described in the “Looking for Clues” article, with a reference. I am pleased the research has been publicized by a newspaper.

    BTW, apparently “King” salmon frequent more than the King river, but of course “King” is an artificial distinction. Location and identification of various strains may be complicated by Alaska’s extensive use of hatchery fish – do they only use the same river or do they mix? And more than one sub-species may naturally use the same river – it is known that some salmon will return up a different river if water conditions are not good in the one they were born in. Apparently adaptability and perseverance vary with the type of salmon, some will wait for several weeks, others will give give up earlier and stay in the ocean (hopefully to try again next year – salmon do not always return after the same number of years).

  45. Silver Ralph says: January 3, 2013 at 7:52 am

    As I have posted before, this Ice Ages look increasingly like polar events. What I mean, is that the climatic warming and cooling is centered on the polar latitudes and not in the tropics.
    How do you account for the lower snowline worldwide? Mountains everywhere, including the tropics, showed a snowline several thousand feet lower than today, I understand.

  46. Did they really show such a lower snowline (glacier edge) and morraine lines?)

    You’d have to look at the mid-latitude Andes I think- There are no other mountain ranges going north-south in the southern hemisphere that would get glacier ice like New York (low 40’s in latitude) and Chicago and the mid-Appalachians. Seems to me a worldwide Ice Age would require some glacier remnants on the east side of the much of Argentina, maybe as far north as Brazil.

    But Africa?
    Sierra Nevadas? I have never heard of glacier (ice age glacier obviously affecting those mountains. Comparisons in the classic books “always” discuss what affected the writers back in New York City. 8<)

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