Guest post by Jim Steele
Director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University and author of Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism
MSN appears to be a source of climate fear mongering and “fake climate news” based on their story under the headlines Antarctica hits record high temperature at balmy 63.5°F .
The story was accompanied by what can only be a horribly photo-shopped photograph for the unassuming warmunista of a mushroom-shaped ice form teetering on a rocky outcrop.
Supposedly it was photographed on the opposite side of the continent from which the record temperature occurred. Climbing such a structure would be a difficult technical climb for an experienced mountaineer. Furthermore when Adele penguins come ashore to breed they avoid the ice if possible, only crossing snowfields as the seek ice-free breeding territories. Lastly if you magnify the picture 500%, the penguins become extremely pixilated, the ice chunk less so, and the background rocks even less so, a fingerprint of 3 different photographs with different resolution that have been overlain.
MSN reported, “An Argentine research base near the northern tip of the Antarctic peninsula has set a heat record at a balmy 63.5° Fahrenheit (17.5 degrees Celsius), the U.N. weather agency said on Wednesday.” The record was set in 2015 and the WMO report simply confirmed the temperature. The Wunderblog had reported in March 2015, “On March 24th Base Esperanza (under Argentinean administration) located near the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula reported a temperature of 17.5°C (63.5°F). Although this is the warmest temperature ever measured since weather stations became established [in 1953] on the southern continent, it is complicated by what the very definition of ‘Antarctica’ is.
To induce fear over Esperanza’s temperature record MSN writes, “Antarctica locks up 90 percent of the world’s fresh water as ice and would raise sea levels by about 60 meters (200 ft) if it were all to melt, meaning scientists are concerned to know even about extremes around the fringes.”
However high temperatures at Esperanza tell us nothing about climate change, or if there is any threat of melting ice caps or rising sea level. Instead Esperanza presents a prime example of how temperatures can rise dramatically without any increased input of heat. Argentina’s Esperanza weather station is situated on the most extreme equatorward tip of the Antarctic peninsula and its mean monthly temperature for March is -3.6 C. But Esperanza’s location subjects it to episodic warm northwesterly winds which is why it is also infamous for its foehn wind storms that can dramatically increase temperatures by 10 to 40 C degrees in a matter of hours.
This record 17 C (63.5 F) temperature recently recorded, is 20 C above average, and as expected the record temperature is the result of foehn winds. Foehn winds warm temperatures via adiabatic heating (no heat input) as descending winds passing over the nearby mountains warm from adiabatic compression. It is meaningless weather regards penguins. But no mention of foehn winds by MSN.
At least the Wunderblog, was honest about the cause of record warming in 2015 stating,
“A strong high pressure ridge and a Foehn wind led to the record temperatures as Jeff Masters explains here:
This week’s record temperatures were made possible by an unusually extreme jet stream contortion that brought a strong ridge of high pressure over the Antarctic Peninsula, allowing warm air from South America to push southwards over Antarctica. At the surface, west to east blowing winds over the Antarctic Peninsula rose up over the 1,000-foot high mountains just to the west of Esperanza Base, then descended and warmed via adiabatic compression into a warm foehn wind that reached 44 mph (71 km/hr) at 09 UTC on March 24th, near when the maximum temperature was recorded. A similar event also affected Marambio on the 23rd.”
Likewise in the 2016 paper Absence of 21st century warming on Antarctic Peninsula consistent with natural variability researchers with the British Antarctic Survey reported, “The trend in the SAM led to a greater flow of mild, northwesterly air onto the AP [Antarctic Peninsula] with SAT [surface air temperature] on the northeastern side increasing most because of amplification through the foehn effect.”