When Alaska Was Cold

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Temperatures are generally referred to some kind of long-term, often 30-year average. This is called the “climatology”, meaning the long-term average values of various climate variables. For up-to-date analyses, the period of time is usually taken as being the thirty years from 1981-2010. For Alaska, the usual measure for the overall state average uses twenty “first order” stations in Alaska. These have the longest and best records. We all know that the Arctic is warming now, but it hasn’t always been so.

Now, the climatology is the month-by-month average temperatures for that period. And of course, given the general warming of the planet over the last century, there have been some way colder years in Alaska than the modern 1981-2010 average. Here’s the record of one such year, back when Alaska was really cold.

mean monthly temperatures alaska 20 stationsNote just how extraordinarily cold Alaska can get. Ten of the twelve months were below average. And not just a little bit below average either.

The most surprising thing about the year was that January was a full 14°F (8°C) colder than the modern average. It would be unusual for one single temperature station to be that much colder than the climatology. But to have the average of 20 different stations being so very much colder than the climatology? It shows not just how cold Alaska used to be, but how widespread the cold was as well. It was bitterly cold, not just in one single area but covering almost the entire state.

And it was not just a cold January that year either. March was 7°F colder than usual, the summer was below average, and the start of the next winter was quite cold as well. In addition, the ice in the Bering Sea was much more extensive than usual, and snowfall was 30%-50% above normal.

All in all, it was a pretty brutal time for people living the state, back when Alaska was really cold. It’s fortunate that they made tough people back then, and Alaska is full of them. You’d have to say that it was a bad, cold year overall, 2012 … I’m just glad the world is warmer now.

The source document is here.

w.

PS—don’t bother telling me that weather is not climate … because that’s exactly what I’m pointing out, isn’t it. My main issue is that if January 2012 in Alaska had been 14°F above the average, we’d never have heard the end of it … but 14°F below average attracted little notice at all.

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March 9, 2013 6:54 am

And this occured while atmospheric CO2 concentrations were at their highest. Where did all that heat go if CO2 is supposed to be a blanket keeping it from radiating to outer space?

3x2
March 9, 2013 7:24 am

Many new record low temperatures were observed. For example, Bettles in the northern Interior, recorded temperatures at or below -60°F
-60F(-50C) certainly puts things into perspective.
If I have the right place on Google (maps), it has an airport. Nothing else, just an airport. What is it? A mining operation? (sorry – looks really ‘alien’ to a UK resident)

3x2
March 9, 2013 7:30 am

None too far (mouse wheel zoom speaking) from Fairbanks. I guess one needs to be ‘tough people’ to live and work out there. I’m impressed.

3x2
March 9, 2013 7:48 am

Not altogether OT (so forgive me Willis)…some comparisons for UK residents….
Area : England – 50,346 sq miles / Alaska – 663,268 sq miles
Pop. Density : England 1,054.1 per sq mile / Alaska 1.26 per sq mile
Capital of Alaska : Juneau – pop. 32,000 souls
No wonder Alaska looks a bit ‘alien’ to me!

Tim
March 9, 2013 7:55 am

“and snowfall was 30%-50% above normal.”.
Not possible; you only get more snow with higher temperatures. /sarc

Michael Schaefer
March 9, 2013 7:57 am

A zinger, as always, Willis.
But: “Children just won’t know anymore what snow looks like!” – and “By 20XX (you name it) the North Pole will be free of ice!” – you know…

tgmccoy
March 9, 2013 8:11 am

Nice shot Willis, had me going for a while….

bdub
March 9, 2013 8:23 am

“We all know that the Arctic is warming now, but it hasn’t always been so.”
Yeah that sounds like a like a good story, one full of hot air.
“Here’s the record of one such year, back when Alaska was really cold.”
And what year would that be since your figure 2 is for 2012 which you
conveniently left off the bottom of the graphic.

March 9, 2013 9:01 am

“bdub’s comment”
I never cease to be amazed at the propensity of so many members of the human race to parade their own stupidity for all to see.

March 9, 2013 9:53 am

Could you give the details of the stations, please? I’d like to look at the actual values, especially if there are “historical” records, for the whole of 20th century, or a substantial portion thereof. Would KNMI be possible source?

March 9, 2013 10:00 am

In a cooling period, such as now,
http://blogs.24.com/henryp/2012/10/02/best-sine-wave-fit-for-the-drop-in-global-maximum-temperatures/
there is a shift in cloud formation/ condensation southwards (NH) and northwards (SH).
Some places get cooler (Alaska)
others get warmer – a GH effect (from the clouds)
http://blogs.24.com/henryp/2013/02/21/henrys-pool-tables-on-global-warmingcooling/

john robertson
March 9, 2013 10:11 am

Tricky,
I think the cool part of this weather cycle is going to cause self doubt and violent denial in the faithful.
2012 is just the start of their implosion of faith. Must hurt when one realizes they have been “saving the world” by fighting natural cycles.
Our govt funded experts keep insisting that the Arctic is warming like nowhere else on earth, when I look at their measuring methods, few stations, poorly located and calibrated, no satellite monitoring of the high arctic. I smell a bunch of rats.
Environment Canada is a miserable waste of tax dollars, if as they insist, the Arctic is the canary of modern AGW, why is it so poorly monitored?
Any improvement from the mess revealed by FOIA 2010?
I can not get any assurance from EC that their Arctic stations are accurate below -40C or even stay within calibration over the normal arctic temperature range.
Environment Canada, has their own science, see their website, something apparently above and beyond actual empirical science. Its so much easier to smear poor measurements over land and sea to create the numbers an activist bureaucrat desires.
Another public watchdog that has gone mad, rabid and dangerous.

Silver Ralph
March 9, 2013 10:11 am

.
Willis. Sorry, but your punch-line is a bit flat. I missed that you were talking about 2012. Could you make the punch-line a bit more robust and punchy. Thanks.

Billy Liar
March 9, 2013 10:48 am

Nothing to see here. Alaska is just a small region, a bit like Europe in the Little Ice Age.
/sarc
No sarc – you gotta give bdub some credit for knowing it was 2012 without even reading the rest of the post …

Robert Austin
March 9, 2013 10:53 am

Willis a little too subtle for you, Ralphy?
The meme has ever been that the polar regions are the canary in the coal mine, that polar amplification would result in the greatest warming occurring in polar regions. Sure, it’s just weather since the anomaly points in the cold direction. If the anomaly had been in the warm direction, just imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the warmist faction.

March 9, 2013 10:54 am

John Robertson says
Our govt funded experts keep insisting that the Arctic is warming like nowhere else on earth
Henry says
The cooing will affect higher latitudes first, Those enjoyng a warm Gulf stream will be affected a bit later.
In my sample, the 2 Alaskan stations showed severe cooling, as expected,
and this will continue,
http://blogs.24.com/henryp/2013/02/21/henrys-pool-tables-on-global-warmingcooling/
If it was me living there I would pack my bags.

bdub
March 9, 2013 11:12 am

“the period of time is usually taken as being the thirty years from 1981-2010”
“there have been some way colder years in Alaska than the modern 1981-2010 average”
“Here’s the record of one such year”
“back when Alaska was really cold”
“And it was not just a cold January that year either”
“back when Alaska was really cold”
So why not lead the whole thing off with back in 2012 or better yet last year?
I know when someone is trying to mislead the reader and that is exactly
what you are doing.

George McFly
March 9, 2013 1:31 pm

Well done Willis….love your articles and I saw the crunch line coming.
Unfortunately some readers seem to lack a sense of irony….or something

Austin
March 9, 2013 1:44 pm

The cold weather in Alaska is having an impact on local agriculture. And the heavier than normal snowfall this winter will take longer to melt keeping things colder into the spring. Growing seasons are short up there and the extra hours of sunshine really help, but growing degree days are still the limiting factor on plant biochemistry.
The cold in Alaska and Siberia is having an impact on North Pacific SSTs. They are 1-3 degrees below climatology now. They will not warm up much anytime soon.

noloctd
March 9, 2013 2:21 pm

Poor bdub. Even after the clever rhetorical technique is explained, he/she just doesn’t get it. 🙂

rw
March 9, 2013 2:25 pm

w.,
You’re a marvel of kindly comportment! (But don’t tell bdub I said that.)

bdub
March 9, 2013 2:32 pm

So it was a joke? You’re kidding me, right? Simply, WOW.
“Everyone is willing to believe Alaska used to be colder and is now warmer”
Well I guess I’m not “everyone” because I have no such preconceptions.
What makes you think you know what people are willing to believe?
“At the end I stated quite clearly that the year was 2012, last year”
“You’d have to say that it was a bad, cold year overall,
2012 … I’m just glad the world is warmer now. You call that clear I’d hate
to see what is unclear. You certainly didn’t use the words last year nor did
you say anything like ‘believe it or not folks the bad cold year I’m describing is
really 2012!’.
“That was the point, that such a cold year didn’t happen a half century ago.”
“My main issue is that if January 2012 in Alaska had been 14°F above the average
,we’d never have heard the end of it … but 14°F below average attracted little notice at all.”
To bad your “main issues” don’t match.
You stated your real point and that is “the world is warmer now”. Unfortunately
your source document kills that dead. You don’t fool me at all fella.

March 9, 2013 3:06 pm

“NASA scientists say 2012 was the ninth warmest of any year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures. With the exception of 1998, the nine warmest years in the 132-year record all have occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the hottest years on record.”http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012-temps.html. On the matter of global climate, you cannot take data from one relatively small area (and relative to the globe, Alaska is small) and one 12-month period and conclude “so there” about much of anything. It’s bad science, akin to a bad angler catching one small trout from one small stream and “concluding” that trout everywhere are small.

Leg
March 9, 2013 5:16 pm

bDub: Try looking at Willis’ article as if it were a murder mystery on TV. At the last scene or two the answer (murderer) is revealed. Willis just employed the same basic literary device. My question to you: are you a mystery lover, or a sitcom lover? In sitcoms you get an instant punch line and it takes very little thinking. It would be an interesting poll of readers here to determine if they are mystery or sitcom lovers. Science is a mystery.

March 9, 2013 5:22 pm

Willis’s eagle flies again!

Leg
March 9, 2013 5:29 pm

Barbra & Jack
“…global climate, you cannot take data from one relatively small area…”
Reading comprehension is an acquired skill – go back and re-read the article. It is pretty clear that Willis admits precisely what you are pointing out.
Willis: Heh, not that you need it, [but] I am in a “defend Willis” mood today.

trafamadore
March 9, 2013 9:11 pm

Barbra & Jack Donachy says: “NASA scientists say 2012 was the ninth warmest of any year since 1880″
Wilis says: “if you disagree with something I say, please QUOTE MY WORDS. I can defend my own ideas. I cannot defend what some man/woman might imagine about my ideas.”
Come on Willis, don’t be such a baby. Your whole thread is about a local region on a web site on _global_ climate. The Donachy’s comment is more on topic than your post.

Mark Aurel
March 9, 2013 9:33 pm

trafamadore says:
March 9, 2013 at 9:11 pm
Come on Willis, don’t be such a baby. Your whole thread is about a local region on a web site on _global_ climate. The Donachy’s comment is more on topic than your post.
——————————————————————–
So following your strange logic, anything posted on here, even a humorous article or WE’s life experience can be connected to Global_Climate?
Interesting.

James Bull
March 9, 2013 11:56 pm

Willis my mum who hails from Scotland has often used the following phrase when one does not share in a groups understanding. “We’re all out of step except for our (pronounced oor) Jock”. Maybe that can explain bdub difficulty with your tongue in cheek look at Alaska’s “historical” temperatures.
James Bull

Gary Hladik
March 10, 2013 12:27 am

trafamadore says (March 9, 2013 at 9:11 pm): “Your whole thread is about a local region on a web site on _global_ climate.”
I suspect WUWT’s owner would dispute your idea of what his site is all about (hint: check the part of the banner that starts out, “Commentary on puzzling things”).

3x2
March 10, 2013 12:54 am

@trafamadore
Come on Willis, don’t be such a baby. Your whole thread is about a local region on a web site on _global_ climate. The Donachy’s comment is more on topic than your post.
Commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology and recent news by Anthony Watts

Jimbo
March 10, 2013 3:58 am

Here are the rules.
14°F below the average is just the weather in Alaska which is just a small fraction of the globe.
14°F above the average is a sure sign of global warming. It’s worse than we thought.
7°F above the average is a sure sign of global warming. It’s worse than we thought.

DaveS
March 10, 2013 3:37 am

David Johnson says:
March 9, 2013 at 9:01 am
“bdub’s comment”
I never cease to be amazed at the propensity of so many members of the human race to parade their own stupidity for all to see.
————–
Seconded.

Grant
March 10, 2013 8:18 am

Is it just me or are the trolls out in force today looking for any pretext for argument?
Willis is correct that any warm spell is declarative evidence of global warming as is any cold spell, tornado, hurricane, blizzard.
All of it obscures the search for the truth.
I am reminded of the science guy’s CO2 in a jar video that was shown to millions of children as proof of the coming global warming disaster. The purpose of that video was to indoctrinate not educate.

March 10, 2013 10:37 am

Before they started with the carbon dioxide nonsense, people looked at the planets to explain weather cycles, rightly or wrongly.
see here
http://www.cyclesresearchinstitute.org/cycles-astronomy/arnold_theory_order.pdf
to quote from the above paper:
“A Weather Cycle as observed in the Nile Flood cycle, Max rain followed by Min rain, appears discernible with
maximums at 1750, 1860, 1950 and minimums at 1670, 1800, 1900 and a minimum at 1990 predicted.
The range in meters between a plentiful flood and a drought flood seems minor in the numbers but real in consequence….
end quote
According to my table for maxima, I calculate the date where the sun decided to take a nap, as being around 1995.
and not 1990 as William Arnold predicted. please correct me if you think I am wrong.
This is looking at energy-in. I think earth reached its maximum output (means) a few years later, around 1998.
Anyway, look again at my best sine wave plot for my data
http://blogs.24.com/henryp/2012/10/02/best-sine-wave-fit-for-the-drop-in-global-maximum-temperatures/
1900 minimum flooding – end of the warming
1950 maximum flooding – end of cooling
1995 minimum flooding – end of warming.
predicted 2035-2040 – maximum flooding – end of cooling.
Do you see the pertinent correlation with my sine wave?
I really don’t trust the base line of temperatures before 1925 as it seems nobody can supply me with a calibration certificate of thermometer from those days.
Also, the way of recording, meant that you did a reading every 4 hours or so,
which may have affected the average for the day, never mind the fact if people were sick or on leave and the job just did not “get done”

clipe
March 10, 2013 10:57 am

I could be wrong, but I thought I’d left a comment here last night. A few jars and Springing forward might be clouding my memory.
Something to do with Bettles? Mod?

Peter Plail
March 10, 2013 11:47 am

Has anyone noticed how few flowers are in bloom in UK at the moment? I am so used to the meeja commenting on early blooming that I had expected them to notice how late things are this year and draw our attention to it. Silly me.
PS Not off topic as it follows Willis’ theme of howling about high temps and ignoring low ones.

Chuck Nolan
March 10, 2013 4:59 pm

DaveS says:
March 10, 2013 at 3:37 am
David Johnson says:
March 9, 2013 at 9:01 am
“bdub’s comment”
I never cease to be amazed at the propensity of so many members of the human race to parade their own stupidity for all to see.
————–
Seconded.
————-
Where’s a Like Button when you need it?
cn

GregK
March 10, 2013 9:52 pm

Perhaps cold winters, especially in the northern hemisphere, will be the norm….
http://centaur.reading.ac.uk/5903/
The authors are not notably rabid sceptics as far as I can tell, just scientists doing what they do.

March 10, 2013 10:42 pm

“My main issue is that if January 2012 in Alaska had been 14°F above the average, we’d never have heard the end of it … but 14°F below average attracted little notice at all.”
I suppose that is testable. The monthly anomalies in alaska are somewhat erratic ( rail to rail in excess of 5C) so it should be easy to look at the announcements over the past 5 years ( lets say)
and find a time when a single state ( any state, not just alaska, giving you 50 bites at the apple) was called out for its high monthly temperature. Not drought, not tornados, but called out exclusively for its temperature extreme and soley its monthly extreme.
you see if we never would have heard the end of it, we’d still be hearing it and I cant for the life of me remember any time a single state was called out for a single months temperature.. In short, even if we had heard it, we have heard the end of it.
So, there are the words quoted exactly. Next, I’ll show you how much notice the extra cold actually generated.

Don
March 10, 2013 11:00 pm

bdub says: “…”
Stephan Lewandowsky, is that you?

thingadonta
March 10, 2013 11:17 pm

I’d like to see the January graph 24,063 years ago when it was under a mile of ice.

March 10, 2013 11:26 pm

Here is an interesting graph of Anchorage with data of the speed of warming and/or cooling showing an a-c wave from 1942. See below the global chart:
http://blogs.24.com/henryp/2012/10/02/best-sine-wave-fit-for-the-drop-in-global-maximum-temperatures/

KnockJohn
March 11, 2013 3:52 am

Didn’t see Alaske getting much in this story about March 2012 http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/noaa-release-unprecedented-mar/63833 which would seem to illustrate Willis’s point exceedingly well.

KnockJohn
March 11, 2013 3:55 am

Here is a story of unprecedented warmth from March 2012 http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/noaa-release-unprecedented-mar/63833 – Interesting that they don not mention Alaska once. Which would seen to illustrate Willis’s point very well

KnockJohn
March 11, 2013 3:56 am

Sorry – double post due to wordpress – mods please remove one

Brian H
March 14, 2013 11:01 pm

Nice article. I must be too used to Willis’ style though, because I’d twigged that 2012 was the subject by the end of the second para, and had an inkling by the end of the first.
I also instantly noticed, in the comments, that bdub dropped the 4th letter from his moniker. The “m”, of course.

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