Where Rivers Run North

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach [See updates at the end]

In the continental US, most of the rivers run east, west, or south. But in the Yukon and in Alaska, a number of them run north. The Yukon is a most curious river. The source of the Yukon in Lake Bennett in the Yukon Territory is only about forty miles (65 km) from the ocean … but instead of taking the direct route, it flows a total of almost 2000 miles (3200 km) before it finally gets to the ocean near Nome, Alaska.

Along the way, past Fairbanks in Alaska, the Yukon is joined by one of its many tributaries, the Tanana River. Like the Yukon, the Tanana also flows mostly north.

yukon and tanana.png

You can see the Tanana River noted in blue just to the left of Fairbanks.

And why is it significant that the Yukon and Tanana rivers run north? Well, it leads to a curious condition in the springtime. Over the winter, of course, the rivers tend to freeze up solid. In the spring, the south end of both rivers tend to thaw first … and that makes the breaking up of the ice a sudden event, with the mass of water surging downriver and clearing out the ice as it goes.

This is all of interest to climateers because the nights in the far north are so long. Why is the length of the nights relevant? Well, people get bored when it’s dark most of the time, and back in the day there was no TV up north … and as a result, more than a century ago people took to betting on the exact date and time that the rivers would experience “ice-out”, as it is called. Hey, you gotta do something to keep the megrims away …

So simply because humans like to bet, we have a hundred years or so of records of the exact dates of ice out for both the Yukon and the Tanana Rivers. The betting is a pool, with everyone putting in money, and the winner(s) take all. The betting on the Tanana River ice-out is called the Nenana Ice Classic, after the town where the betting takes place. This year the pool on the Nenana Ice Classic is just under a quarter of a megabuck … serious money.

How close to ice-out is the Tanana River? The precise ice-out date and time is determined by putting a tripod out on the rivers and connecting the top of the tripod by a cable to a clock in a tower on shore. Here’s a photo of the tripod and the tower I took when I visited the Tanana River a few years ago … obviously in the summer.

nenana ice classic

The Yukon river tripod is erected on the ice in the river near to Dawson City, Yukon Territory, and the Tanana River tripod is erected on the ice near to Nenana, Alaska.

And all of this is of interest right now because today the Tanana River is just about, nearly, almost, really close to, right on the edge of, ice-out.

As of this morning, here’s the situation on the Tanana River:

nenana tipping point.png

As you can see, the Nenana Ice Classic tripod out on the river ice has tilted precariously … but it hasn’t moved enough yet to stop the clock. Amazingly, I do believe that this is likely the very first photographic evidence of one of those famous “climate tipping points” that we all get warned about … but I digress.

So the ice in Nenana will likely go out today (May 1st) or tomorrow. And on the Yukon? Predictions are that the Yukon ice-out will occur on May 4 this year.

And what does the record of the ice-out dates for the two rivers show? Here you go.

yukon tanana ice out dates to 2017.png

This is a most fascinating record because it is totally unaffected by all of the things that bedevil temperature measurements—changes in station locations, changes in instrumentation, changes in time of observation, urban heat islands, trees growing around the thermometers, parking lots, increases in airport traffic near the station, none of these variables affect the ice-out dates in any meaningful way. It is a pure record of cumulative weather conditions each spring.

You can see the peak of the temperatures about 1940, and the drop in temperature to about 1965. From there, temperatures rise until the 1990s, followed by the infamous plateau in warming up to the present. In fact, it looks a lot like the early GISS global average temperature records, before the drop after the 1940s got mostly erased from the record.

Now, there has been a lot of recent discussion here on WUWT about putative solar effects on the climate. So I thought I’d make a comparison of the temperature as represented by the ice-out dates, and the solar activity as represented by the sunspots.

ice out dates and sunspots.png

I’m sure you can see the problem. The solar activity has generally been decreasing since the peak in about 1958 … but the Arctic has been generally warming since about 1965 up to 1995 or so, and it’s been basically flat since then. Decreasing sunspot activity … increasing temperatures … not a good look for any purported solar influence on climate.

This makes it very hard to argue that sunspot-related variations in solar activity have much effect on arctic temperatures. And this is true even if you believe that there is a decade or so of lag between solar activity and temperature. A lag of a decade is equivalent to moving the black line to the right an amount equal to one of the dotted lines … and that doesn’t improve the fit in any way.

This is another of the many datasets that I’ve looked at that have not shown any sunspot-related signal. Do all of my negative findings show that the sunspot variations don’t affect surface climate datasets? Nope. You can’t prove a negative. It’s just one more in the long list of datasets that do not show any such sunspot-related signal.

Regards to all, spring is here, the ice is melting … well, most places it’s melting …

[UPDATE] My thanks to Dave Burton in the comments, who noted that you can click here for the latest webcam picture …

[UPDATE 2] Here’s how the alarmist Gavin Schmidt, serial failed doomcaster, spins the Nenana data on Twitter …

Gavin Schmidt @ClimateOfGavin · 9h This year will be v. close to trend.gavin on nenana
Unending straight-line warming … who knew? (H/T to Willie Soon)


PS—When you comment on someone’s words, please quote the exact words you are referring to. Misunderstandings are the bane of the intarwebs, and if you quote the exact words we can all understand just what it is that you are discussing.


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Here is a similar record for Torne Älv in Northern Sweden, starting in 1701. Not so very different (it must be turned upside down to be comparable):comment image

Gary Pearse

By the latest data, looks like the Swedish one had a late breakup this year!!


Stand on your head … or use a mirror.


ABBA never broke up! It’s all lies.


The breakup is prognosticated to occur May 8. Northern Sweden had a cold and exceptionally snowy winter.

Latest Nenana image here:

7:22PM EST time 5/1/2018 and the tripod is down.
I didn’t find an official time at the site. $225,000 rides on some bets.

“ddpalmer May 1, 2018 at 4:34 pm”

The article mentions that 42 people got the date and time right back in 2017. That is still $5200 per winner, if that many again chose May this year.

Tom Halla

The first chart does look like the older, less stepped on, versions of the US temperature record. But doing away with the warm period in the 1930’s makes CO2 levels more of a fit for temperature.

Have you ever been a mile down into a gold mine here (in South Africa)
What did you notice?
That elephant in the room has been moving. North east. Quite fast in the last 100 years compared to the previous century. That movement is also solar related. Like a magnetic stirrer effect….
Do you know what I mean?
My data set shows no warming in the SH.
Almost all warming is in the NH.

Smart Rock

I’ve never been down a gold mine in ZA, but I’ve been down lots of gold mines, and nickel mines, and uranium mines, and copper mines in Canada and even a coal mine or two in Scotland (back when they did coal mining). I’ve never seen an elephant in any of those mines, either moving north east or static. In fact, elephants wouldn’t fit in most of the shafts I’ve been down.
If you’re talking about the magnetic pole, why can’t you just say so? And you could also try to explain what your point has to do with gold mines.

smart rock
maybe you noticed that as you go lower into the mine, it gets warmer? And the lower you go, the warmer it gets?
Inside the earth there is a very big smart rock. In fact, it is made of molten iron and it is red hot.
by the movement of the magnetic north pole, we know that that smart rock has been moving:
North east, to be exact. Much more movement in the past 100 years compared to the century before.
hence, my finding of little or no warming in the SH. All warming is in the NH.
The movement of that smart rock inside the earth is probably the biggest reason for the arctic melt.
Hope that helps you understand?


I believe the larger amount of water in the Southern Hemisphere may account for this.

Alan Tomalty

Willis can you put some temp numbers translation to the ice out chart? So that we can compare it exactly to the old GISS anomaly chart.


But what will this do to all the “data free analyses” we have been subject to?


This makes it very hard to argue that sunspot-related variations in solar activity have much effect on arctic temperatures.

It isn’t hard at all.
As you would know if you had researched what others have published about the effect of solar activity on Arctic climate, the effect is opposite. High solar activity drives lower temperatures in the Arctic.
Kobashi, T., Box, J. E., Vinther, B. M., Goto‐Azuma, K., Blunier, T., White, J. W. C., … & Andresen, C. S. (2015). Modern solar maximum forced late twentieth century Greenland cooling. Geophysical Research Letters, 42(14), 5992-5999.
“The abrupt Northern Hemispheric warming at the end of the twentieth century has been attributed to an enhanced greenhouse effect. Yet Greenland and surrounding subpolar North Atlantic remained anomalously cold in 1970s to early 1990s. Here we reconstructed robust Greenland temperature records (North Greenland Ice Core Project and Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2) over the past 2100 years using argon and nitrogen isotopes in air trapped within ice cores and show that this cold anomaly was part of a recursive pattern of antiphase Greenland temperature responses to solar variability with a possible multidecadal lag. We hypothesize that high solar activity during the modern solar maximum (approximately 1950s–1980s) resulted in a cooling over Greenland and surrounding subpolar North Atlantic through the slowdown of Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation with atmospheric feedback processes.”
Kobashi is the biggest expert on Greenland climate. Something acknowledged by your pal, Leif.

Shift the sunspot trace 60 years to the right. Then it fits. (Where have I heard that 60-year number before?)


Red River of the North goes south to north along the Dakotas’ border with Minnesota and thence to Winnepeg or closeby. My understanding is it is the only river in the contiguous U.S. that flows north. I am sure some streams from the Uintahs in Utah flow north to join the Green, but the Red River is a good-sized river.
During the spring the sucker is frozen up in Manitoba but flowing like crazy thru Grand Forks and Fargo. So floods are common over the years.and one really bad one was followed by fire downtown and no fire trucks could get there. Sad.
They built levees and even figured out how to divert water south of town near Fargo, similar to the Bonne Carre Spillway near New Orleans. It is still a problem, but this year it seems to have been “normal”.
Gums sends..


The St. Johns river in Florida flows south to north, and it’s a pretty sizable river.


I doubt the St. John’s River in Florida has an “ice-out” day. Although, it might be historic if it ever froze over.

JG Larson

The New River starts in North Carolina, flows north through Virginia and on to Ohio.


There are numerous U.S. rivers that flow north. Just think southern tributaries of rivers running East-West or vice versa.
Like Missouri, Platte, and Ohio.


Many of the world’s longest and biggest rivers flow north, to include Africa’s Nile, Siberia’s Ob, Lena and Yenisey, the US and Canada’s Red, Canada’s Mackenzie, Oregon’s Willamette (plus Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington’s Snake for its middle course) and California’s San Joaquin River.


The New River begins in NC and flows north thru VA and WV to join the Ohio River and thus the Mississippi River.
The Clinch River begins in VA and flows thru TN into AL and then turns north back thru TN and KY and joins up with the Ohio River and thus the Mississippi River. That one was a hard act to follow but shows up on “nullschool” map. It becomes the Tennessee River ’till Alabama and I’m not sure what it’s called when it goes north thru Tennessee and Kentucky.


An odd one is the Bear River in Utah. It USED to flow north into the Snake, but volcanoes diverted it south to Great Salt Lake.

John F. Hultquist

The Willamette River (150-miles) in Oregon flows north.
Much of the distance of the Snake River is northward; from Mountain Home AFB to Lewiston – in Idaho – about 250mi., crow flies line. More. also north of that.
In Montana, there is the 84 mile Bitterroot River.
None of this has anything to do with the “temperature” or “iceout” aspects of the post.
It is an interesting post.
Sometime back (5, 6, 7 years ?), WUWT had a post on the subject. You can look it up. But I’m not going to.


Tennessee and Cumberland rivers both run north through Tennessee


The Yukon now suffers from pollution and waste water. Its ice thaw timing has been altered by human activity, to include a dam at Whitehorse, YT, finished in 1958:


I can confirm from personal experience that the Yukon River is about as pristine as is possible. The river hosts an annual canoe race (world’s longest, route of the Klondike gold rush) from Whitehorse (just below the dam) to Dawson (the site of the tripod Willis mentions). I paddled it last summer. The reservoir above the dam at Whitehorse is very small relative to the flow of the river and there is roadway or habitation near the river for less than 1% of the distance. The many tributaries downstream of the dam provide most of the flow by the time you get to Dawson. By the way, not sure if this is permitted, but if you are interested in the river or the race my blog is searchable at “Yukon River Quest, can a novice paddle it?”.


The Yukon still suffers from its past history of the “three Ms”: military, mining and manufacturing. Mercury levels are increasing. Urbanization has had an effect as well. But, yes, the Yukon is less polluted than some other big North American rivers, but more than others.
From 2009:
The Yukon River has had a history of pollution from gold mining, military installations, dumps, wastewater, and other sources.
However, the Environmental Protection Agency does not list the Yukon River among its impaired watersheds, and water quality data from the U.S. Geological Survey shows relatively good levels of turbidity, metals, and dissolved oxygen.
The Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council, a cooperative effort of 64 First Nations and tribes in Alaska and Canada, has the goal of making the river and its tributaries safe to drink from again by supplementing and scrutinizing Government data.
I don’t mind your advertising.


How many dams are on the river and what impact do they have? “Then in 1922, the company decided that a dam on the river just below Marsh Lake would help. The dam would release a rush of water in the spring to break up the lake ice and thus speed up the start of navigation. This system wasn’t all that effective in lengthening the shipping season either. By 1953, it didn’t matter. Trucks could now use the road to Mayo and Dawson and the era of the river boats came to an end.”

The natives still haul fuel by boat from Circle to Fort Yukon–at least they were doing it 20 years ago. –AGF

I remember noting once before that Fairbanks is upstream and is a growing town. The Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) there has increased use of brine and chemicals to keep the roads free – see http://www.roadsbridges.com/fighting-ice-last-frontier – I hope there is no run off to pollute the pure water of the river.

Please let us know when the ice in Nenana actually breaks up?


In the state of MN,
Mississippi River runs South
Red River runs North to Winnipeg
Rainy River runs West
Minnesota River runs East

Mark Luhman

Doug then the Mississippi leaves lake Itasca it running west then it shifts North and east in only turns south past Grand Rapids it traveled over a hundred miles at that point, when it passes through Grand Rapids it starts to turn south. One of the main tributaries of the Red river The Otter Tail starts out going south and again goes South a very long ways before turning west. That water only starts to go north in the it confluence with the Bois De Sioux, which as you know is the start of the Red River. Of course Minnesota is unique since it the only place the US where rain falling on it can go three ways. some of that rain goes north to the Arctic ocean other water goes east to the Atlantic and the other goes south to the Gulf of Mexico. In all the other states with continental divides it a two way split. Oh by the way where the three divides meet is in the iron range, it probable has moved a bit due to mining.

Grey Mouser

@ Mark Luhman: au contraire there are numerous places where waters flow into three basins or major watersheds. One that I personally know of is in PA. Waters will flow into the Great Lakes-St Lawrence R basin, into the Ohio River Basin thence to GoM, or into the Susquehanna River basin and thence to the Chesapeake Bay.

Kristi Silber

Mark Luhman,
That’s interesting! I’m a Minnesotan and never thought about that – and didn’t know about rivers going to the Arctic.. Pretty strange to have a continental divide in such a flat state. Thanks for the info.


The Auglaize River in NW Ohio runs north. Our house growing up was on the continental divide. Rain falling on our house went south to the Ohio River. Rain falling on the house to our north went north to Lake Erie via the Auglaize.


There’s many a river
That waters the land
The fair Angelina
Runs glossy and gliding
The crooked Colorado
Runs weaving and winding
The slow San Antonio
It courses the plains
But I never will walk
By the Brazos again


do any of the ice break up records also establish riverflows?
Increased rain increased runoff increased river flow increased melting underneath the ice. How does this dynamic play in?

Ian Magness

Thank you for a very interesting analysis on such a basic dataset. I wish we had something similarly simple and fairly unarguable in Britain – not least to counter the stupid “spring has come forward by 26 days since, whenever” meme that’s been doing the rounds in the MSM of late. Those of us that have actually watched and experienced the outside world for a long time know that “data” is complete rubbish, and a simple dataset of the ice-off type would disprove it easily.

Craig Moore

Don’t overlook the Rivière Rouge du Nord.

At least in Siberia the rivers run to the north–maybe has to do with the cyclic flattening and rounding of the Arctic. –AGF

Reid Smith

The Genesee River in western New York state runs south to north

This is very interesting and another dose of perspective.
Could I ask you to produce a chart with shorter time span to match the satellite era from 1979 to current.
By all means estimate this years.
Arctic sea ice is just a few bus stops up the road, it would be interesting to compare for season trend comparison
Thank you

Gary Pearse

A lot of the rivers run northerly in Canada and one thing that does is when the southern part melts The water has no place to go in a hurry until breakup: the Red River (of the North) coming up from MN and ND not only has the Manitoba end of it frozen but Lake Winnipeg, its final destination is frozen, too. This relatively modest river has caused some of the most newsworthy floods in Fargo, ND and Winnipeg. The 1950 flood led to the construction of the Greater Winnipeg Floodway some 10 years later, a diversion channel around the city that was the second largest excavation in the world in terms of earth moved at the time, after the Panama Canal. It had flood gates to restrict flow in the natural channel and I believe they blasted ice at the lake end.
Working for the Water Branch installing and monitoring observation wells along the right-of-way was my first engineering job. We measured all the farmer’s wells (and advised some on the poor state of repair they were in) so the government could handle claims of damage or failure of wells in the future. During the 1950 flood I was a boy scout and we busied ourselves filling sandbags. The women-folk made sandwiches and coffee and it was the first cup of coffee I had ever had.

Gary Pearse

Err..its the only floods one gets in Fargo and Winnipeg! I meant newsworthy more far afield.


Nome is about 125 miles across Norton Sound from the Yukon Delta:comment image


This is all of interest to climateers because the nights in the far north are so long.

Breakup happens after the equinox. I’m guessing that the real reason that people bet on the breakup is that people will bet on anything.

Eustace Cranch

New River runs north from NC to VA to WV. I grew up practically on its banks in southwest VA. Pulled many nice smallmouth bass and catfish out of it.
Ironically, it’s one of the oldest (if not the oldest) rivers in North America.

I think the issue with the arctic warming is different.
For example: look at the data from the
Elmendorf Air Force Base:
For minima the trend for the past 20 years is -0.0193 K/annum
For maxima the trend for the past 20 years is -0.0137 K/annum
For means the trend for the past 20 years is +0.0075 K/annum
Now what is forcing the means up? It cannot be the sun (maxima) and it cannot be the water/GH gases (minima)?
You see what the problem is?
It must be earth itself that is causing the arctic warming.

that air force base is near to Anchorage.


Being nitpicky….
As noted before by others on this subject,
It’s not a tripod. It’s a double quadrapod.


or double tetrapod, if you prefer.


Double tetrapods:comment imagecomment image
Ten million years apart.


comment imagecomment image
About 360 million years apart.


comment image
OK, these tetrapods aren’t copyrighted.


Sorry. The photo was supposed to be of a lady and a tiger.

Steve Zell

“And why is it significant that the Yukon and Tanana rivers run north? Well, it leads to a curious condition in the springtime. Over the winter, of course, the rivers tend to freeze up solid. In the spring, the south end of both rivers tend to thaw first … and that makes the breaking up of the ice a sudden event, with the mass of water surging downriver and clearing out the ice as it goes.”
From the map, the Yukon River flows mostly north or northwest in Canada, but flows more toward the west in Alaska, as does the Tanana River.
But although the source of the Yukon is to the south of Dawson, it is also at higher elevation, so it is not obvious that the surface of the river always thaws earlier at the source than at Dawson.
Also, the date on which a tripod on the ice tips over isn’t necessarily related only to temperature. If there is a relatively warm but dry spring upstream, the water flow will be slower, and the ice downstream may last longer. If there is a very wet spring upstream, the water flow will be faster, and will tend to break up the ice, even if the weather is not warm. The photo of the tripod also showed a lot of waves, probably due to a crosswind on the river. Wouldn’t wind also tend to tip the tripod over, if the ice is thin?


There are some very fun climate information associated with these Arctic River break-ups.
1) HadCrut Northern Hemisphere data shows an increase in warming temperatures of approximately 0.5 degrees C per century. The Tanana River break-up is occurring approximately 7- 8 days earlier over the past century, less than 1 day per decade.
2) The Yukon River break-up overall trendline is slightly lower than the Tanana break-up showing a 6 day per century increase in break-up dates.
3) The 1940 early break-up on the Tanana is coincident with the 1940 instrumental temperature warming period. However, this warm period is more pronounced in the Tanana River Breakup data and occurred earlier than the 2016 break-up.
4) The 1998 and 2016 early Tanana River break-ups are consistent with the strong El Nina events that occurred during the same years.
5) The Yukon River typically breaks up 2 to 4.5 days later than Tanana. The Tanana River is the largest tributary of the Yukon River from the south. It appears spring thaws arrive here earlier than in the Yukon River at Dawson.


Is it bad form here to correct an obvious typo?
El Niño, not La.


I mean not Niña.


Yes, saw the typo. Should be El Niño.


comment image
It’s a boy!


Are you sure?


This is all Javier’s doing. In his last post he claims that instead of La Nina meaning cooling and El Nino meaning warming, it’s just the opposite.


I know it’s hard to tell from the statue, but I have it on infallible authority that that figure represents the Christ Child. Of course, if He really were born parthenogenetically, He’d have been a little girl.
Javier has it right with regards to ultimate effect, but in terms of original water temperature on the South American coast, the Christ Child is warm and his sister is cold. El Nino’s warm water hitting Peru releases heat to the air, eventually cooling the water.


What your ice out day vs sunspot graph shows is there is a possible ~30-35 year lag in the ice out day to detrended ice-out day 17 year Gaussian averages. Not enough ice-out data of course. We need about 200-240 years more data on that.
Essentially, it may be a delayed phase response (ice out day) is a result of climate responding as in d(sin x)/dt = cos x. The time derivative of the periodic input function is a pi/2 phase shift forward response.
And 2X (30 to 35) years is 60 – 70 year cycle. Examining “Pacing” involves the first derivative wrt time in Earth’s climate.


Gets much colder in winter in the interior of Alaska and much warmer in the summer due to the moderating influence of the ocean along the coast. Should tell folks that this is a clue as to the most powerfull thermostat on the planet, for whatever effect that might have on your data and conclusions.
Also, rivers run north where I live in Wyoming. They run downhill everywhere that I know of, even in the Wind River gorge, where it looks like they run uphill.

Shanghai Dan

Excellent post! But I do have a question: have you validated your data via a model? We all know that without a model to confirm your data, your data is suspect. So get to modeling first, then we can talk about whether or not the ice-out date is valid for climate change studies!


Hi Willis,
Just to be clear, there are hundreds of rivers in North America that flow to the north. The Great Lakes Watershed is full of them!
Water doesn’t pay much attention to compass directions, but it does pay attention to gravity!

J Mac

True dat!

An earlier spring river breakup does not evidence a warming average climate without other data. It is evidence of an earlier spring warming in that area. As such it is only interesting and mostly to local residents.
It has been quite noticeable to most of us oldtimers that spring has been coming earlier and the growing season has been getting longer in our part of Canada.
We have also noticed less hot days in summer and less cold days in winter which indicates a moderating climate but not necessarily an average warming.
Anecdotal, I know, but as much value as river breakup dates which may have many explanations as do our observations.
None of this indicates that the trends will continue and none shows a connection to CO2, in spite of the ridiculous assertion by some that there is no other possible explanation.


The recent warming of the springtime has been happening right across the NH and not only in Canada, which the spring snow extent has shown up clearly.
Any changes during this important time of year has a big role to play within climate overall.

There is no argument that our climate (North America or less than 5% of the earth’s surface) ishas changed. The point is that it is not an indication of a warmer global average and that it is actually a beneficial change in most ways.


As noted above the ice-breakup dates for Torne älv correlate rather well with spring temperatures (R2=0.67) for the period where thermometer data is available (from 1802 on).


The 50 year record of the NH spring snow extent tells much the same story, of a steady warming during the all important springtime.

Alan Tomalty

As usual you alarmists will jump to the next statistic as soon as all your other statistics show no warming. So the latest alarmist stat that argues their case is spring snow extent. See the following
I will quote from the site
“Annual snow cover extent (SCE) over Northern Hemisphere lands averaged 25.8 million square kilometers in 2017. This is 0.7 million sq. km more than the 48-year average, and ranks 2017 as having the 8th most extensive cover on record… ”
Sure the graph has a downward linear trend since 1967 but given enough years and the trend line will go up. The only thing that global warming alarmists have for evidence is short range linear trend estimates of snow extent and fake surface temperature measurements. Basing trillion $ tax policies on this is fraud on the grandest scale. I dont understand greenies. Do they want us to go back to living in caves?
We need more CO2 NOT less

Alan Tomalty

Also see this
“The report from the researchers said that earlier estimates of snow volume for the continent needed to be revised, mainly due to the fact that snow accumulation per year is 50 percent higher than official figures.”


Alan, just wondering, what ‘trillion $ tax policies’ do you claim are happening b/c of this fraud?


Furthermore, I would submit that your assumption:
“fascinating record because it is totally unaffected by all of the things that bedevil temperature measurements—changes in station locations, changes in instrumentation, changes in time of observation, urban heat islands, trees growing around the thermometers, parking lots, increases in airport traffic near the station, none of these variables affect the ice-out dates in any meaningful way. “
Is invalid.
Consider the City of White Horse, as most assuredly its population has increased since 1920 and it has built a modern waste water treatment facility to accomodate growth, including a nice golf course along the River’s edge.
and its sanitary sewage system deposits treated waste water to the adjacent Yukon River.
Read more here:
A Google Maps view of the White Horse sewage lagoon, the Yukon River, and the nice golf course:
Although they don’t release treated lagoon water in winter-spring months, it is held in large lagoons to be released in the summer and fall months, those annual alterations in amount of winter ice build-up from the fall month’s warm lagoon water release to the river is likely significant in its impediment to winter ice accumulation downstream. Essentially the warmer fall water releases show up as a delayed response many hundreds of miles downstream. i.e. earlier ice break-up. It’s an anthropogenic effect like UHI to be sure, but nothing to do with increasing levels in the atmosphere of TheMagicMolecule.
Similarly for Fairbanks and the towns around it to the Chena River, which feeds into the Nenana River.
So like White Horse, Fairbanks has an increasing population over the last 100 years and the addition of modern waste water treatment facilities that dump the warmer lagoon waste water into the Nenana River.
The Golden Heart Utilities Wastewater Treatment Plant serves as the regional treatment plant for the greater Fairbanks area.


In addition there has been a substantial build-up since late 1990’s at Fort Greely and the surrounding town of Delta Junction to support construction and now operations at the National Missile Defense site there.
The missile silo complex is the large white area in this image. North is to the Left, the Nanana-Delta River runs along the perimeters of the installation. The Delta River feeds the Nanana River
NMD Interceptor missile being loaded into a silo at Ft Greely, AK.

Kristi Silber

“Essentially the warmer fall water releases show up as a delayed response many hundreds of miles downstream. i.e. earlier ice break-up”
Isn’t this simply your assertion? You’ve presented no evidence supporting it, and nothing that invalidates Willis’s assertion.
I agree with Willis. It seems extremely unlikely the water release would have the effect you envision unless through some weird complex interaction between nutrients and biota and albedo or something, but that’s sheer fantasy.


Looks like the tower fell fully and the clock is stopped, the rope is down.

It looks like the latest Nenana ice-out was May 20th, 2013 at 2:41 PM, not really that long ago:

Bruce of Newcastle

Looks like a fairly tight correlation with the PDO, which means the ~60 year cycle.


Which correlates well with temperature series, to the extent that those artifacts can be believed. That said, here’s an outdated HadCRUT:comment image
1850-80: Warming
1880-1910: Cooling
1910-40: Warming
1940-70: Cooling
1970-2000: Warming
2000-2030: Cooling (except for the recent El Nino spike).
The 30-year cycles aren’t exact, but close enough for government work.
The past PDO cool phase ended in 1977, for instance.

The Yellow River (Huang He) in China has a long northward loop into colder zones that often ice up in the winter, which in the past caused bad flooding when the ice dams collapsed in the spring. This from Wikipedia: “Another historical source of devastating floods is the collapse of upstream ice dams in Inner Mongolia with an accompanying sudden release of vast quantities of impounded water. There have been 11 such major floods in the past century, each causing tremendous loss of life and property. Nowadays, explosives dropped from aircraft are used to break the ice dams before they become dangerous.”


Interesting. I seem to recall that back in the 40’s or 50’s, various service clubs in northern Wisconsin would put a junked auto on the ice, attached by a cable, and sell chances on ice out. Probably verboten by the EPA now.


The last time I was in Mauston WI in the winter (about 5 years ago) they were still putting a junk card on the Lemonweir river and betting on the day it would fall through the ice.


oops, I meant “…putting a junk car on the iced-over Lemonweir river …”

Here are the historical ice out dates for Nenana Ice Classic:
Which establish that a May 1, date as not unusual.
April, 30 1917 11:30 A.M.
May, 11 1918 9:33 A.M.
May, 3 1919 2:33 P.M.
May, 11 1920 10:46 A.M.
May, 11 1921 6:42 A.M.
May, 12 1922 1:20 P.M.
May, 9 1923 2:00 A.M.
May, 11 1924 3:10 P.M.
May, 7 1925 6:32 P.M.
April, 26 1926 4:03 P.M.
May, 13 1927 5:42 A.M.
May, 6 1928 4:25 P.M.
May, 5 1929 3:41 P.M.
May, 8 1930 7:03 P.M.
May, 10 1931 9:23 A.M.
May, 1 1932 10:15 A.M.
May, 8 1933 7:30 P.M.
April, 30 1934 2:07 P.M.
May, 15 1935 1:32 P.M.
April, 30 1936 12:58 P.M.
May, 12 1937 8:04 P.M.
May, 6 1938 8:14 P.M.
April, 29 1939 1:26 P.M.
April, 20 1940 3:27 P.M.
May, 3 1941 1:50 A.M.
April, 30 1942 1:28 P.M.
April, 28 1943 7:22 P.M.
May, 4 1944 2:08 P.M.
May, 16 1945 9:41 A.M.
May, 5 1946 4:40 P.M.
May, 3 1947 5:53 P.M.
May, 13 1948 11:13 A.M.
May, 14 1949 12:39 P.M.
May, 6 1950 4:14 P.M.
April, 30 1951 5:54 P.M.
May, 12 1952 5:04 P.M.
April, 29 1953 3:54 P.M.
May, 6 1954 6:01 P.M.
May, 9 1955 2:13 P.M.
May, 1 1956 11:24 P.M.
May, 5 1957 9:30 A.M.
April, 29 1958 2:56 P.M.
May, 8 1959 11:26 A.M.
May, 2 1960 7:12 P.M.
May, 5 1961 11:31 A.M.
May, 12 1962 11:23 P.M.
May, 5 1963 6:25 P.M.
May, 20 1964 11:41 A.M.
May, 7 1965 7:01 P.M.
May, 8 1966 12:11 P.M.
May, 4 1967 11:55 A.M.
May, 8 1968 9:26 A.M.
April, 28 1969 12:28 P.M.
May, 4 1970 10:37 A.M.
May, 8 1971 9:31 P.M.
May, 10 1972 11:56 A.M.
May, 4 1973 11:59 A.M.
May, 6 1974 , 3:44 P.M.
May, 10 1975 , 1:49 P.M.
May, 2 1976 , 10:51 A.M.
May, 6 1977 , 12:46 P.M.
April, 30 1978 , 3:18 P.M.
April, 30 1979 , 6:16 P.M.
April, 29 1980 , 1:16 P.M.
April, 30 1981 , 6:44 P.M.
May, 10 1982 , 5:36 P.M.
April, 29 1983 , 6:37 P.M.
May, 9 1984 , 3:33 P.M.
May, 11 1985 , 2:36 P.M.
May, 8 1986 , 10:50 P.M.
May, 5 1987 , 3:11 P.M.
April, 27 1988 , 9:15 A.M.
May, 1 1989 , 8:14 P.M.
April, 24 1990 , 5:19 P.M.
May, 1 1991 , 12:04 A.M.
May, 14 1992 , 6:26 A.M.
April, 23 1993 , 1:01 P.M.
April, 29 1994 , 11:01 P.M.
April, 26 1995 , 1:22 P.M.
May, 5 1996 , 12:32 P.M.
April, 30 1997 , 10:28 A.M.
April, 20 1998 , 4:54 P.M.
April, 29 1999 , 9:47 P.M.
May, 1 2000 , 10:47 A.M.
May, 8 2001 , 1:00 P.M.
May, 7 2002 , 9:27 P.M.
April, 29 2003 , 6:22 P.M.
April, 24 2004 , 2:16 P.M.
April, 28 2005 , 2:01 P.M.
May, 2 2006 , 5:29 P.M.
April, 27 2007 , 3:47 P.M.
May, 6 2008 , 10:53 P.M.
May, 1 2009 , 8:41 P.M.
April, 29 2010 , 9:06 A.M.
May, 4 2011 , 4:24 P.M.
April, 23 2012 , 7:39 P.M.
May, 20 2013 , 2:41 P.M.
April, 25 2014 , 3:48 P.M.
April, 24 2015 , 2:25 P.M.
April, 23 2016 , 3:39 P.M.
May, 1 2017 , 12:00 P.M.

Steven Fraser

The official website now says that ‘Ice went out’ at 1:18 p.m.
Its too bad that Gavin does not account for the variety of timezones, and the various dates/times of the Vernal equinox through the year.

Steve Fraser

….and, the last 30 years are trendless.


And pronounced cooling since 1940.

Intelligent Dasein

It would appear from the ice-out data that people in the ’60s and ’70s could legitimately have worried about global cooling, while in the ’90s it was at least not unreasonable to speculate about global warming. I am no warmist myself, but I have to admit to being a little irritated by the kind of attitude which blithely insists that everything if fine and always will be fine. Sometimes bad things really do happen, so not every concern should just be casually dismissed.


Nothing the least bit out of the ordinary is happening with Earth’s climate. Minor fluctuations in temperature don’t make much difference, except that cooler is worse than warmer.
Earth has been cooling for over 3000 years, since the Minoan Warm Period, heading out of the Holocene interglacial into the next glaciation. That’s what should worry us, although the NH ice sheets probably won’t begin expanding again for thousands of years.
During that long-term cooling, there have of course been warmer, centennial-scale intervals, like the Roman and Medieval WPs, followed by cooler phases, like the Dark Ages Cool Period and Little Ice Age. We are now in the Modern WP, but so far it has been less hot than the Medieval, with was cooler than the Roman, which was cooler than the Minoan. The trend is not our friend.
Within the Modern WP, there have so far been warm and cool cycles on decadal time scales as well. We might be leaving the late 20th century warming for the early 21st century cooling, which would be a bad thing. The first warm cycle of the Modern WP was in the mid-19th century, followed by the late 19th century cooler interval, followed by the early 20th century warming, followed by the mid-20th century cooling, followed by the late 20th century warming.
There is no detectable global human signal in the late 20th century warming, although our activities have definitely had local effects. So, no worries on a planetary basis.

Leo Smith

There is no detectable global human signal in the late 20th century warming, although our activities have definitely had local effects. So, no worries on a planetary basis.

Although its not down to CO2 or any other man made effect, the climate is changing and always has.
And climate change has always had massive impacts on humanity.
So it s a cause for worry. Its just that since we didn’t cause it, attempts to stop it are futile.

John Harmsworth

Too many confounding factors on the Yukon. Looks to me like the Mackenzie is more relevant
, from April 9, 1875 breakup to May 9, 1958. Back to April dates in more recent times.


I agree that its drainage has been less affected by development.

John Harmsworth

Sorry, those dates are quite far South, but dates are available all along the river as it flows North.

Roger Knights

There’s a book from the 1950s called The Rivers Ran East about an adventurer’s search for a hidden stash of gold in the Amazon basin. A page-turner.

The Truckee River is the only exit out of Lake Tahoe and winds its way North and a little East ending at Pyramid Lake in Nevada where much of the water from snow melt on the Eastern side of the Pacific Crest around Lake Tahoe just evaporates away.


Ice dams forming also tend to confound things for the Ice Out… if just the right conditions occur and large segments of ice reach certain bottlenecks along the river’s course, very large and long lasting ice dams can form…. Which cause infrequent but very devastating floods for those unfortunate to be up river of them… It also delays the ice breakup monitor’s verdict.

Alan Tomalty

A New Estimate of North American Mountain Snow Accumulation From Regional Climate Model Simulations
“Despite the importance of mountain snowpack to understanding the water and energy cycles in North America’s montane regions, no reliable mountain snow climatology exists for the entire continent. We present a new estimate of mountain snow water equivalent (SWE) for North America from regional climate model simulations. Climatological peak SWE in North America mountains is 1,006 km3, 2.94 times larger than previous estimates from reanalyses. By combining this mountain SWE value with the best available global product in nonmountain areas, we estimate peak North America SWE of 1,684 km3, 55% greater than previous estimates. In our simulations, the date of maximum SWE varies widely by mountain range, from early March to mid‐April. Though mountains comprise 24% of the continent’s land area, we estimate that they contain ~60% of North American SWE. This new estimate is a suitable benchmark for continental‐ and global‐scale water and energy budget studies.”
The key word here is that they used “simulations” ; code for climate models to discover that there was more snow in the mountains than they thought there was. So do we believe them? The whole point of the study was to plead for money for a special satellite that would just measure snow. I think the skiing industry should kick in a little bit. Maybe some of the trillion $ that is spent on global warming each year could be diverted. This one big global warming hoax plus the Ozone hole hoax has set back science 30 years or more. Not only halted real science research but actually has corrupted it to a point where I muse about its ability to undo all the bad conclusions in all the bad reports that site previously bad reports to justify their conclusions. It pyramids to the point that the whole house of cards could fall. Medical science and the social sciences are in the same boat because of adherence to 2 sigma stats instead of 5 sigma stats.


Alan, total US federal taxes last year were a little over $3 Trillion so it is NOT possible that ‘trillions’ are taxed for AGW. Even when you add state and local taxes in it comes to $6 trillion. According to your ‘trillions’ that would equal 67% of federal taxes or 33% of all taxes, and thats at the low end. So your claim that ‘trillions are spent’ is pure baloney. And the US GDP was a little over $18 Trillion so if you’re claiming trillions are spent in the economy well that’s just business that people participate in and that keeps our economy going. So your claim is just ideological bullshit and completely false.

Gerald the Mole

Willis, Fantatstic. Real science. Shows that you can see a lot by just looking. 73 de