This press release was in Eurekalert today, and it reads to be part of a larger warming trend in the Arctic. But, not so fast, these “Meteorologists” should know better.
Arctic Ny Alesund sees rapid warming, but not the warmest
The Arctic plays an important role in the global climate system, and it warmups faster than the whole Earth. Scientists from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics(IAP), Chinese Academy of Sciences, analyze the in-situ air temperature at Ny Alesund (78°55’1.2N, 11°55’58.8E), where the Chinese Arctic station Yellow River locates and warns the fast warmup in the Arctic, but also points out this February isn’t the warmest there.
The IAP team finds this region has the fastest warmup in the Arctic, and highest temperature in the recent warm wave. The analysis shows the daily mean temperature (DMT) reached 3.3 degrees C, with a maximum temperature of 4.4 degrees C, on 26 February, 2018, much higher than the other regions of the Arctic and even the lower latitudes. According to the annual report of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of USA reported by the media, “The Arctic saw the warmest temperatures ever recorded in 2016”.
However, this is not the highest DMT in the historic February, according to the IAP team. The DMT at Ny Alesund has the record of 3.5 degrees C, and a maximum temperature of 4.9 degrees C on 5 February, 2017. The analysis warns a rapid warmup in February at Ny Alesund, and the highest DMT in February has increased 11.1 degrees C since 1998, with a trend of 3.2 degrees C in every 10 years. In recent 10 years, the highest DMT in February exceeded 0 degrees C 8 times, possibly related to the change of the north Atlantic current.
Ok that’s what the press release says, let’s look at some climatology and real-world data from Feb 26, 2018. First a little about the location from Wikipedia:
Ny-Ålesund (“New Ålesund”) is a research town in Oscar II Land on the island of Spitsbergen in Svalbard, Norway. It is situated on the Brøgger peninsula (Brøggerhalvøya) and on the shore of the bay of Kongsfjorden. The company town is owned and operated by Kings Bay, who provide facilities for permanent research institutes from ten countries. The town is ultimately owned by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and is not incorporated. Ny-Ålesund has an all-year permanent population of 30 to 35, with the summer population reaching 120.
Now, the climatology. From this paper: “Changes in Winter Warming Events in the Nordic Arctic Region” by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Journal of Climate, May 2016.
From the first line of the abstract:
In recent years extreme winter warming events have been reported in arctic areas. These events are characterized as extraordinarily warm weather episodes, occasionally combined with intense rainfall, causing ecological disturbance and challenges for arctic societies and infrastructure.
Later they mention:
“… we define warming events as extraordinarily warm weather episodes occurring during the winter season, occasionally combined with intense rainfall.”
Looking at the temperature climatology of Ny Alesund, we find this graph, figure 2B. Warmest temperatures occur in summer as would be expected. This event on Feb 26, 2018 clearly was an outlier weather event.
And this table from the paper highlights the length of the records there. only going back to 1974, yellow highlight mine:
Now from Weather Underground archives, this graphical report for Feb 26, 2018:
Note the magenta arrows in the graph above. The high temperature event occurs at the same time as the peak wind of 29 mph. Note also the wind direction at that time from the graph, SSW to SW in general. Note the very next day in the graph, Tuesday, the wind direction changes, the wind speed drops, and the barometric pressure drops – all indications of a frontal passage (which produced warm southwest winds ahead of the front). Note also the rain event in the table (another indication of a warm frontal passage ).
This was a winter weather weather event, pure and simple. Just as defined in the 2016 Journal of Climate paper I cite. Very likely it was a Foehn Wind, known to cause rapid heating from downslope winds.
A föhn or foehn (UK: /fɜːrn/, US: /feɪn/) is a type of dry, warm, down-slope wind that occurs in the lee (downwind side) of a mountain range.
Here is a Google Earth map showing the wind vector for that day overlaid on the satellite image for Ny Alesund. The path of winds would be upslop, over and down the slope on the mountain near the outpost.
This picture from the harbor via Wikipedia clearly shows mountains close to Ny Alesund, and with the wind vector we see for Feb 26th, it was clearly a Foehn Wind.
Even more important is the length of record there, very short, only back to 1974. You can’t conclude much from such a short record. There’s probably even warmer Foehn Wind events in the past that were never recorded becuase there was nobody there to measure and write about it.
Yet somehow this was a noteworthy event that needed a press release to feed some red meat to the climateers for “warmest ever”, even though it was actually second warmest is a very, very, short climatic record. And they make no mention of what caused that warm event, which is disingenuous and non-scientific.
I call bullshit.
Note: about 15 minutes after publications some additional clarifying words and sentences were added, along with some typo corrections – Anthony