Arctic Heatwave Sizzles Northeastern Europe With 92 Degree Temperatures, Mangled Jet Stream Hosts Record Canadian Floods, and the Persistent Arctic Cyclone is Coring Through the North Pole

It’s your typical abnormal summer day in the Arctic. The Arctic heatwave flares again, Canada tries to recover from violent record floods, and a Persistent Arctic Cyclone that began in late May is continuing to core a hole through the sea ice near the North Pole.

The Arctic Heatwave Moves to Eastern Europe

An Arctic heatwave that has skipped from Scandinavia to Alaska to Central Siberia, pushing temperatures in this polar region into the 80s and 90s (Fahrenheit), has now re-emerged to plague Eastern Europe. Temperatures in the middle 80s are once again emerging in Finland, an area that blazed with anomalous 80 degree temperatures in early June. But areas north of the Arctic Circle in nearby Russia are, this time, receiving the real baking. There, highs in the region of Archangel, near the Arctic Ocean, reached 92 degrees Fahrenheit. Out over the Kara Sea, just north of these record-hot conditions, an area still choked with sea ice experienced near 70 degree temperatures today.

Average temperatures for most of these regions range from the 40s to the 60s. So current conditions are about 20 to, in some cases, nearly 30 degrees above average.

Arctic Heatwave June 24

(Image source: Uni Koeln)

In the above weather map, provided by Uni Koeln, we can see today’s record high temperatures showing up in pink in the lower right-hand corner of the map. Note the instances of 32 and even 34 degree Celsius temperatures (which converts to 90 and 92 degrees Fahrenheit respectively).

We can also see that some of last week’s fires over Siberia, which I described here, have been put out by a massive rainstorm now dousing the region. The storm emerged as a trough surged down from the Arctic and over Siberia, setting off large storms.

Extreme Jet Stream Sets Off Floods in Canada, Forcing 100,000 to Evacuate

During the middle of last week, the convergence of two upper-level flows of the Jet Stream set off very unstable conditions over Alberta, Canada. A cut-off upper level low stalled, trapped beneath a long-period blocking pattern and dumped rain on Alberta and regions of Central Canada from Wednesday through Monday. Consistent moderate-to-heavy rainfall fell in some areas for up to 16 hours without stop. By the weekend, many places had set one day records as a swath of 2 to 7 inch rainfall blanketed a broad region. Many areas, including Calgary, received their highest rainfall totals ever recorded.

Contributing to the problem was hard, frozen ground and ongoing mountain melt filling up streams and rivers. This combination of impenetrable ground, snow melt, and ongoing, record rainfall resulted in massive floods that turned streams into torrents, roads into rapids, and stadiums into lakes. In total, more than 100,000 people were forced to abandon their homes.

This particular event is likely to see damages well in excess of 1 billion dollars and could rival the record 22 billion dollar floods that rocked Europe just last month. Jeff Masters, at WeatherUnderGround, speculates that the 2013 Canadian floods may be the most costly in that country’s history. Given the massive impact of this major flood, damage totals may exceed previous record flood impacts, at around 800 million, by well more than an order of magnitude.

Persistent Arctic Cyclone Cutting Through the Central Sea Ice

PAC 2013 June 24

(Image source: DMI)

Lastly, a Persistent Arctic Cyclone that began in late May, and has now composed numerous storms remaining in place over the Central Arctic for about a month, continues to cut a hole into the sea ice near the North Pole. The above image, provided by DMI, shows PAC composed of an old low near the Canadian Archipelago and a new, stronger low that just entered the Central Arctic.

Lowest pressures are now about 990 mb, which is somewhat stronger than the storm that lingered over the Arctic this weekend.

Impacts to central sea ice appear to be ongoing even as somewhat rapid edge melt continues. The latest model assessment and forecast from the US Navy shows a widening and thinning area of broken ice near the North Pole, one that displays much greater losses than those seen earlier in the month. A band of open or nearly open water has now emerged just on the Russian side of the 180 degree East line. As you can see, model forecasts show this area of open water continuing to widen over this coming week.

PAC2013modelforecastJul1

(Image source: US Navy)

Meanwhile, some of the thickest sea ice is also showing the corrosive impacts of these ongoing storms. In the image above, you can clearly see the invasion of ice thinner than 2 meters where 2.5, 3, and 3.5 meter ice previously dominated. In fact, in later sequences, it appears that a knife of much thinner ice begins to drive down through the relatively small pack of remaining thick ice.

The Central Arctic is extraordinarily cloudy today. So it is not possible to verify these Navy observations with visual shots. That said, the Navy projections have been both consistent and confirmed in the other monitors since early-to-mid June.

****

Any one of these extreme weather events — a heatwave in Arctic Europe, immense floods never before seen in Canada, and an anomalous storm coring through the thickest sea ice — would be evidence that human caused climate change has radically altered the weather. Instead, we have all three occurring over the span of as many days. It is a pace of extreme events that is both troubling and astounding. And each has been affected by the sea ice loss, ocean, ice sheet, and atmospheric warming, loss of summer snow cover, and extreme changes to the circum-polar Jet Stream brought about by human caused climate change.

We are in the age of extreme weather brought on by our fossil fuel use. If we are to have any hope of preventing the very worst impacts, we need to drastically begin reducing CO2 and related greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.

Links:

Calgary Flood May be Most Expensive In Canadian History

Uni Koeln

DMI

US Navy

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29 Comments

  1. T.O.O

     /  June 25, 2013

    Robert,
    I would expect the worst case scenario to be that the hottest weather gets sucked up into the Central Arctic for a week or two just as the PAC pulls eastward and drags the thick archipelago ice out through Fram Straight. This then would unblock Greenland land ice sheets which would then begin sliding out into the ocean over the next few years.

    Any comments on this?

    Reply
    • I think it’s a plausible speculation. A little more likely now than at the beginning of June, but still probably not highly likely. That said, the weather has been both weird and scary.

      If we lose summer sea ice, we lose a strong insulator to those ice sheets. More heat is free to go to work on them. So we’d definitely expect to see a stronger melt pulse. In such an event, the weather really, really starts to go haywire.

      Should we see such rapid melt, we’re probably looking at 3 to 5 meters of sea level rise by the end of this century, probably a little more than 1 meter by mid century. Vicious stuff.

      Reply
  2. I’ve been reading your posts on the Arctic Sea Ice blog with great interest. Thanks for your wide ranging overview and perspective here.

    I’m coming from the viewpoint that we are now passing the ‘tipping point’ that so many of us have been working to prevent for so long. The first Great Melt of 2007 is the point which will be viewed as the beginning of seasonal disruption – and hence agricultural collapse – in the Northern Hemisphere.

    In human terms this is a long slow process of ‘tipping’ that will probably not be completely apparent until we see extended ice-free periods in the Arctic, c2020, but then I suppose a pinhead looks big from the perspective of a bacterium.

    Wouldn’t that be an ironic twist? 2020, the time when the world has decided it’s finally going to, maybe if they can be bothered, get around to doing something about climate change will likely be the same time that all hope of avoiding runaway Global Heating will have evaporated…

    Reply
    • Those tipping points are lurking out there like traps and pit-falls, as you’re wise to pint out. And it would be terrible, Jeff. A terrible and vicious irony.

      Reply
  3. You’re doing such a great job of keeping on top of this stuff that I’m going to put an icon on my site linking to here.

    Reply
    • Thanks🙂

      Can you tell me how to do that on word-press? There are a few sites I’d like to link including yours.

      Reply
      • There’s probably several ways to do that, but here are my steps:
        1.) after going into your “dashboard”, upload the icon into your “media library”.
        2.) go into “edit” for the image icon you just uploaded, then copy the url for that image which should be in the upper right area of the edit screen.
        3.) then go to the “widgets” tab which is under the “appearance” tab of your “dashboard”
        4.) grab and drag “image” widget to the “sidebar widgets area” and drop it into the place that you want it
        5.) then open that image tab up and paste the url of the image icon into the area that says “image url”
        6.) then type in the url that you want that icon to link to, under “Link URL (when the image is clicked)”
        7.) then hit “save” and close that image widget tab

        Here is the widget I created on my site to link to yours:

        Reply
  4. I know this is a morbid subject, but I wonder if you’d write a dystopian novel on what the world will be like in one hundred years. I don’t think you’d have to stray too far from the facts.

    Reply
  5. T.O.O

     /  June 25, 2013

    xraymike79,
    If you like dystopia, have you heard of INTRUSION by Ken Macleod? Well written and wide reaching.

    Reply
    • Just read the synopsis on Wiki. Sounds interesting. In that novel the government apparently gives all the information that they have in order for its citizenry to “make the right choices”. At this point in history, I think I’d op for that rather that the obfuscation and cover-ups that characterize our present day reality.

      Reply
      • T.O.O

         /  June 25, 2013

        There are plenty of “uncomfortable” scenarios that play out — all plausible and though provoking. For example, if a woman could take a pill to prevent birth defects and childhood diseases, does the husband have the right to compel her to take it? And if she doesn’t, should her kid have the right to be in day care with “healthy” kids?

        Reply
    • Haven’t read INTRUSION, yet. One of my favs is ‘Soft Apocalypse.’ Very salient.

      Reply
  6. Yes, just use my icon for the widget link…

    Reply
  7. if this keeps up, they’re be growing grapes in england.

    Reply
  8. Thomas Diprima

     /  June 26, 2013

    Its probably too late to reverse things……..we’ll need our brightest minds, along with new age technologies to cope.

    Reply
  9. Nelson RSA

     /  June 27, 2013

    Hi Robert. My name here, just a little tribute to a great man… I’m from South Africa.

    Your posts have become an important update on recent weather developments to me lately, because they have helped me understand the weird weather in Central Europe, where I now live.

    Winter lasted much longer than usual, then it rained a lot, then it was too hot, then it rained for what seemed like weeks on end. Y’all heard about the floods. Now it has been down to 8°C at night and not over about 15 for more than a week and it is just not getting much warmer, since Arctic air is being sucked in from direction of Greenland, it seems to me?

    In a conversation with a casual acquaintance today, I spoke with a gut feeling and said, “…when Greenland melts in 5 years….”.

    So what if the North Pole climate tips that soon, what will the effect be on the Southern Hemisphere, in particular the southern part of Africa? The South seems to be much less researched, or at least surely much less publicized, but it would be of vital interest to man how long the Antarctic jet stream and the ice there will hold, after the North tips over into a winter ice cover across all the continents, and a sudden summer thaw, bringing floods, more heat and droughts.

    Will the southern continents stay moderate, or will they have extreme weather parallel to the north is my question I guess…

    Reply
    • Thanks for the concern, the excellent questions, and your tribute to a great man, Nelson.

      I’ll do my best to answer your questions as best I can and point you in the right direction.

      1. Is the Greenland air mass being pushed east into Western and Central Europe, creating extreme conditions there?

      Yes. This has been the consistent pattern, with few breaks since winter and it would result in persistent stormy and cooler weather.

      The same jet that has been ‘stuck’ in this configuration the swings rapidly north into Scandinavia and Northeastern Europe, resulting in repeated heat waves. Today, this pattern exploded into powerful thunderstorms which included numerous instances of hail and strong winds.

      2. Will Greenland send a large melt pulse within 5 years that creates conditions similar to a Heinrich Event?

      It could probably be argued that Europe experienced a mini Heinrich event this winter. However, a large enough pulse to create a ‘Storms of My Grandchildren’ type of event is probably too soon.

      That said, the speed with which the weather has become more violent is a serious concern and ice sheet melt rates are happening at rates that are faster than predicted. So that’s not to say that a larger pulse than the 2012 melt occurring within five years wouldn’t spell serious trouble for northern hemisphere weather.

      It’s worth noting that it will probably take centuries for Greenland to completely melt out. The issue is that these melt pulses will be increasingly volatile and dangerous events.

      3. Southern Hemisphere climate instability…

      According to paleoclimate, West Antarctic ice sheet collapse and Greenland ice sheet collapse occurs over roughly the same period. That said, the Arctic, which is surrounded by temperature volatile continents and the Antarctic, which is surrounded by more climatologically stable water are two entirely different animals.

      We already see this in the expansion of Antarctic sea ice above a protective meltwater cap even as Arctic sea ice recedes despite major Greenland freshwater melt flows.

      So it is possible that the Southern Hemisphere may not see major jet stream alteration until the ocean and atmospheric heat accumulation begin to erode the ice. Alternately, a major melt pulse from the west Antarctic ice sheet could play havoc with Southern Hemisphere weather by resulting in a Heinrich style event there.

      I’ll see if I can get a hold of some research to give you a more complete response.

      Hope this helps.

      Reply
  10. nelsonrsa

     /  June 29, 2013

    Your response was very informative, plus it made me read up on Heinrich events and on the thickness of the land ice sheets.

    It is good to know that Greenland, with 2-3 km ice thickness, will be reflecting sunrays for a while yet, even if the Arctic has less and less ice in summer. Let’s hope there won’t be too much soot landing on that ice surface…

    It would be funny if coal power plants were deliberately promoted in the future in order to keep global dimming going, thereby sacrificing the Greenland ice for the bigger chunk of ice: Antarctica’s ice from the ground to the surface, at its max. thickness, would completely cover the Alps, the highest peak topped by 142m of ice.

    Thanks for the “Warm Storm” analysis, the diagrams are fascinating. It really seems the jet stream has gone crazy! Do we know what the northern jet stream used to do in summer before the big melt started?

    Reply
    • Large waves, ripples and meanders were much more rare. The Jet usually traveled around the Northern Hemisphere making a gradual rippling pattern like the edge of a stylized punch bowl.

      The jet stream is all over the place now. It has cut off upper level lows that last for weeks or months along with blocking highs that last for the same period, or longer. The large amplitude wave over the US Southwest has lasted for nearly a year now. The influx trough from Greenland to Europe has persisted since winter. These kinds of exaggered loops, giant waves, and elongations are not at all normal.

      If you want to understand more, please look up the pioneering work of Dr. Jennifer Francis from Rutgers.

      Reply
  1. With ‘Warm Storm’ at Its Heart and Heatwaves Rushing in From The Sides, Arctic Sea Braces for Major Blow | robertscribbler
  2. IBI Watch 6/30/13 | IBI Watch
  3. North Pole Melting: Ice Camera 2 Swims as Camera 1 Gets its Feet Wet | robertscribbler
  4. Drought, Burning Rings of Fire out West, Severe Flooding in the East: How Climate Change and a Mangled Jet Stream Wrecked US Weather | robertscribbler

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