Claim: Severity of North Pacific storms at highest point in over 1,200 years

From DARTMOUTH COLLEGE

Warmer tropical waters impact weather from Alaska to Florida

The intensification of winter storm activity in Alaska and Northwestern Canada started close to 300 years ago and is unprecedented in magnitude and duration over the past millennium, according to a new study from Dartmouth College.

The research, an analysis of sea salt sodium levels in mountain ice cores, finds that warming sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean have intensified the Aleutian Low pressure system that drives storm activity in the North Pacific.


Ice cores from Mount Hunter in Alaska’s Denali National Park and Mount Logan in Canada were used in an analysis of over 1,000 years of history of the Aleutian Low pressure system that drives storm activity in the North Pacific. CREDIT Bradley Markle

The current period of storm intensification is found to have begun in 1741. According to researchers, additional future warming of tropical Pacific waters – due in part to human activity – should continue the long-term storminess trend.

“The North Pacific is very sensitive to what happens in the tropics,” said Erich Osterberg, an assistant professor of earth sciences at Dartmouth College. “It is more stormy in Alaska now than at any time in the last 1200 years, and that is driven by tropical ocean warming.”

While the Aleutian Low pressure system sits over Southcentral Alaska in the winter, it can impact weather across the North American continent.

“Storminess in the North Pacific not only impacts Alaska and Northwestern Canada, it creates colder, wetter and stormier weather as far away as Florida,” said Osterberg.

The analysis focuses on two ice cores drilled in 2013 from Mount Hunter in Alaska’s Denali National Park, and an older ice core from Canada’s Mount Logan. The ice cores, each measuring over 600-feet long, offer glimpses into over a thousand years of climate history in the North Pacific through sea salt blown into the atmosphere by winter ocean storms.

The two ice cores from Denali benefited from high levels of snowfall, providing what Osterberg says is “amazing reproducibility” of the climate record and giving the researchers exceptional confidence in the study results.

“That’s the other remarkable thing about this research,” said Osterberg, “not only are we seeing strong agreement between the two Denali cores, we are finding the same story of intensified storminess recorded in ice cores collected 13 years and 400 miles apart.”

While 1741 is noted as the year the current intensification began, the paper also references an increase in storminess in the year 1825. According to the paper, warmer tropical waters since the mid-18th century can be the result of both natural variability and human-driven climate changes.

Comparison of the composite North Pacific ice core sodium record with the Eastern tropical Pacific record (Conroy et al. 2009) and the Western tropical Pacific record (Abram et al., 2016). CREDIT Dartmouth College

“There is no doubt that warming tropical ocean temperatures over the last 50 years is mostly caused by human activity,” said Osterberg, “a really interesting question is when you go back over hundreds of years, how much of that is anthropogenic?”

Beyond human activity, tropical sea surface temperatures further back in time are affected by volcanic eruptions, changes in the intensity of sunlight and natural events like El Niño.

“The reality of the science is that our changing climate is driven by human causes on top of natural cycles, and we have to disentangle these things,” said Osterberg. “This becomes even more critical when predicting climate change over a specific region like Alaska instead of the whole globe averaged together.”

Researchers are still waiting to analyze the last 10 meters of the Denali ice cores. The remaining portions could offer information on thousands more years of climate history, but are so compressed that they will require the use of advanced laser tools.

The paper was published last month in Geophysical Research Letters.

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52 thoughts on “Claim: Severity of North Pacific storms at highest point in over 1,200 years

  1. Going to keep an eye on the comments here for the next few days, as people read the paper (knee deep in alligators myself right through the weekend). But just eyeballing the extracted graph – I don’t even see a correlation here. Especially interesting at the 2000 mark, where their EastPac SST does a hockey schtick – and their “storm intensity index” nosedives. (Their WestPac anomaly reconstruction to storm intensity also doesn’t look too good, especially in the 19th century.)

    • You’ve made a good point here. The overall trend in storms is up over the last 1200 years, and the overall trend for SST is up over the same period. That could EASILY show a spurious correlation. In addition, proxies are going to smear out short periods of jumps in temperatures and hurricane frequency, The only “Real” data we have is from the mid 1700s to present. Before that, it’s proxies against proxies.

      • North Pacific storms, like extratropical cyclones in general, are powered mostly by horizontal temperature gradients. Guess what that means, now that the Arctic is warming faster than the tropics – less windy North Pacific storms and nor’easters.

    • Robert, so did I … but I, for one, am not going to say sorry or apologize for my reaction or comment to such an article. In fact, I am of the belief — and, I suspect that you have a similar belief — that it is the onus of these immoral and corrupt warmist scaremongers who must apologize and seek forgiveness from the rational freedom-loving world.

  2. “There is no doubt that warming tropical ocean temperatures over the last 50 years is mostly caused by human activity”. There is lots of doubt. The sun is what warms the oceans and the amount of energy from the sun reaching the tropical oceans is dependent on the cloudiness. CO2 is irrelevant.

    • “There is no doubt” …only if you fervently believe. The Osterberg is quoted in the article: “The reality of the science is that our changing climate is driven by human causes on top of natural cycles, and we have to disentangle these things,” The conclusion is foreordained: Humans cause climate change. Natural climate cycles are not responsible for change. They have to be disentangled from the causal agent, Man.

    • The beginning of his quote is interesting. But the end is interesting too.

      “a really interesting question is when you go back over hundreds of years, how much of that is anthropogenic?”

      So he is implying that humans may have significantly affected the warming going back ‘hundreds’ of years.

      • ddpalmer, good catch!

        I suspect that the author is referring to the vulgar scourge against so much of the continental flora and fauna as perpetrated by Paleolithic, Neolithic and near-current day indigenous humans … via their widely practiced slash and burn methods with its severe negative environmental impact. Such “sins” were employed on a regular basis; not only by the earlier hunter-gatherers but even more so by our later [Neolithic] sedentary agricultural societies.

    • Yes. Exactly how did a trivial rise in a small fraction of the infrared radiative gases in the atmosphere result in warmer oceans given the miniscule penetration of infrared into ocean surfaces. It almost seems the implication is that our twentieth century sins of industrialization must have reached back in time to begin this horrific burst of weather.

  3. Certain words trigger my bullshitometer .
    Unprecedented
    Suggests
    Models
    Hottest ever
    Coldest ever
    More acidic
    Etc etc

    • Robert, yes, most certainly agree.

      Additionally, my “click-off” media reading/listening/viewing trigger goes off whenever I see such “red flag” terms and phrases such as “97% consensus”, “acidification”, “theory” when describing AGW phenomenon [when the proper scientific term must be “hypothesis”], ad nauseum …

    • bullshitometer? i have one and the article had a few passages that went of the scale…

  4. If we look at the figure, the peak in winter storm record is higher at the starting period of the graph. There is no human factor in the winter storm record. Only thing is we have the observations for the current period, estimated [ice core data] for the past.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

  5. This paper goes against observations in the Atlantic. The colder Little Ice Age was very stormy. link

    The other problem is that salt doesn’t stay put in ice. link For instance, multi year sea ice is drinkable because the salt has migrated out.

    Can you drink melted sea ice?

    New ice is usually very salty because it contains concentrated droplets called brine that are trapped in pockets between the ice crystals, and so it would not make good drinking water. As ice ages, the brine eventually drains through the ice, and by the time it becomes multi year ice, nearly all of the brine is gone. Most multi year ice is fresh enough that someone could drink its melted water. In fact, multi year ice often supplies the fresh water needed for polar expeditions. link

    Trying to judge storminess by the amount of salt trapped in the ice seems to suffer from a fatal flaw.

    • Good news for exotic cocktail drinkers then! Perhaps a cube or two of Greenland Scruch, Antarctic Acidic or Himalayan Highspot with your Jack Daniels. Decisions, decisions!
      All freshly flown in by CO2 spewing airplanes. Gore will suffer a meltdown

    • I think there’s a difference between brine in the ice that froze from sea water and the sea salt aerosol that gets deposited on a growing glacier. Just because brine solution drains out of the floating ice doesn’t mean that deposited salt in a glacier does the same.

    • And if brine can find its way out, what about CO2?

      Is ice data truly reliable as to the CO2 historic levels?

  6. Quoting part of quoted quote in above article, to wit:

    “It is more stormy in Alaska now than at any time in the last 1200 years, and that is driven by tropical ocean warming.”

    OH MY, MY, …… and as the “ tropical ocean warming” continues unabated, ……. then the quantity of atmospheric CO2 being ingassed by the warming water ( Henry’s Law) continues to decrease ……… resulting in an annual increase of 2 to 3 ppm in atmospheric CO2 quantities as defined by the Keeling Curve Graph.

  7. Intensification of storms in 1741 and 1825 were not caused by man as we were a small number in those years, less than 2 billion and without fossil fuels. Anthropogenic warming is not pointed to as a even a minimal cause of weather effect until after WW II when use of fossil fuels began to even be considered as possible cause of climate change. Ice cores may be straight and long, but interpretation by this “expert” is short-sighted and false.

  8. “changing climate is driven by human causes on top of natural cycles” just as the weight of an elephant also includes the fea on his back. We want the flea to go on a diet instead of watching what the elephant eats.

  9. This is amazing. The ultra smart researchers at Dartmouth College have been able to identify the exact year (1741) that the Northern Pacific started to recover from the Little Ice Age!

  10. Their ability to correct for ionic permeability in ice over centuries is deserving of a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. This is assuming they did discover and applied their method to these data.

  11. So, they started with the conclusion that humans cause climate change and created a “study” to support that conclusion. OK, whatever.

  12. “Earth sciences”, huh. Warmist iseology, confirmation bias, herd behavior, plus the threat of very negative consequences if you were to find anything outside the Warmunist doctrine.

  13. “The reality of the science ….”

    …. is, of course, that the tropical ocean warming is caused by downwelling back radiation into the ocean from CO2 at 408 ppm on a background of 40,000 ppm of water vapor versus CO2 at 280 ppm on a background of 40,000 ppm of water vapor.

    How many orders of magnitude is it possible for climate “scientists” to be off by – 10, 20, 50, 100 ???

  14. “Researchers are still waiting to analyze the last 10 meters of the Denali ice cores. The remaining portions could offer information on thousands more years of climate history, but are so compressed that they will require the use of

    advanced laser tools.”

    So the climatebleeders will add even more advanced anthropogenic technical enhanced contributions to climatohorribillies.

    hypocrisy pays.

  15. Sensing the beginning of anthropogenic global warming, astronomer Anders Celsius introduced the Centigrade temperature scale on December 25, 1741 as his gift to Gaia.

  16. Well, they obviously are making something up because they didnt bother to compare their (proxy) data with NOAA observational data, Unless of course they used the typical trick of splicing the NOAA observations onto the end of the proxy data once it reached an era where observation data was available. I bet the NOAA observations disagree with their proxy data.

  17. Cold water fosters more storms, warm water does not. The current hurricane season, and last year’s as well, should show that. This entire notion of warm SST being responsible for killer storms came out of a novel written in the ’70s, Cat 5, when Florida was experiencing a charming hurricane drought! No matter hard you try, you can’t have it both ways!

    PMK

  18. Looks like the “no major hurricane to hit the USA” streak is certainly in jeopardy. Thanks Harvey.

  19. Junk science. Concluding that data from three ice cores from the the same area, essentially a point source and a blink of the eye in time, mark a high point in North Pacific storm activity is ludicrous. Compared to what? Any significance is this observation eludes me. This study is one sample point from an 11.300 year inter-glacial period. Much ado about nothing.

  20. The increase in storminess all took place from 1650-1900, and has either flatlined or decreased since then. Without the peak around 1998 there would be an obvious decreasing trend since 1900.

  21. Making predictions about the future is hard. And so, apparently, is making predictions about the past!

  22. CET shows the most rapidly warming period in the entire record from 1659 ( including today) occurred between 1710 and 1739 .

    Then there was just about the most severe winter ever in 1740 heralding another general downturn

    The paper mentions 1741. Seems too much of a coincidence, even though they are practically on opposite sides of the world

    Tonyb

  23. Whilst I find this study to be interesting may I use a mining analogy, which I’ve done before? If you are trying to develop a mine, 2 core holes will never do it. Depending on the size and type of the deposit you might need hundreds if not thousands of core holes, and other type of drillholes. These core are then logged for rock type and other characteristics and analyised, often for about 30 elements. This create a large database, which is then subjected to sophisticated geostatistical analysis. This can be year of work by a team of people.

    So how do scientists reasonably expect to make their interesting claims based on such a tiny amount of data? Yes if might be logistically difficult to drill core holes in Alaska, but there are mines up that way where thousands of drillholes will probably be found. Apart from such limited data, spacially there is just insufficient coverage to make any really valid claim. 2 x 600 foot holes in one location and an older third hole in another would never make a mine and this paucity of data and its coverage also should never make a serious scientific claim.

  24. “While 1741 is noted as the year the current intensification began, the paper also references an increase in storminess in the year 1825. According to the paper, warmer tropical waters since the mid-18th century can be the result of both natural variability and human-driven climate changes.”

    It is clear, the age of exploration and expanding shipping caused the friction of many hulls on the water to increase the SST. A human caused global warming effect prior to the increase in CO2. Thus resulting in the storminess increasing over the subsequent centuries.

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