Cold Snap For US? It’s the Global Warming-Induced COLLAPSING Polar Vortex, Stupid

Polar Jet Stream Configuration January 8

(Current Polar Jet Stream Configuration. Note the powerful Rossby-Wave zonal flow associated with the 9 month old Pacific Blocking Pattern continuing to flood the Arctic with warmer air and disrupting/collapsing the seasonal polar vortex while shoving Arctic air south over Canada and the US. Image source: University of Washington.)

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A massive rash of human-warming induced extreme weather sweeps across the US and, not surprisingly, the mainstream media has gotten its climate change messaging somewhat wrong again..

In a rather admirable attempt to show how human caused warming is creating and influencing the recent spate of extreme weather, numerous articles have all implicated the, now much renowned, polar vortex in a massive, 20-year, cold snap gripping much of the nation.

Over and over, media reports are the same: Polar Vortex Grips Nation!

Two Sides to The Polar Vortex Story: Human Warming and A Disrupted Arctic Cyclone

In all honesty, it’s hard not to chuckle at how the media has gotten the story somewhat wrong. A polar vortex is, in essence, a semi-permanent storm or cyclone that forms in the high Arctic during winter months. The existence of a polar vortex in the high Arctic is a normal condition. And the meteorological features it creates tend to trap colder air in its swiftly circling winds. Such a condition results in very cold temperatures in the far north, while warmer conditions tend to prevail much further south. The net result is keeping Arctic cold locked in the Arctic where it belongs as, usually, the storm centers in the Arctic Ocean near the North Pole.

But this winter, as in recent winters, something a bit out of the ordinary happened. The polar vortex shifted southward as it unraveled, causing the current US cold snap. And since these powerful Arctic cyclones pack quite a punch the related effects have been extraordinary and extreme — powerful winter storms, school and business closings due to the cold, and freak freezing episodes all over the US.

All that said, the anomalous movements and impacts of the polar vortex during 2014 are only half of the story. The other half involves how human-caused warming is directly influencing the vortex, altering its course and intensity, pushing it far beyond the limits of its typical Arctic confines.

Increasing Arctic heat resulting from loss of sea ice, worldwide ocean warming, and amplifying feedbacks to human warming have opened the door to more and more warm air invasions into the high Arctic. During winter time, the net effect of these warm air invasions is to disrupt the polar vortex, resulting in its more frequent weakening and collapse all while periodically shoving its storm center south.

In the current diversion and collapse, the polar vortex was severely disrupted while being shoved into the lower latitudes crossing Canada and the Continental US. The result was a rash of extremes not seen in the US in at least 20 years.

An Evolving Scientific Awareness of Human Warming’s Devastating Impacts

As early as 2001, scientific studies had found evidence for a correlation between weakening of the polar vortex and periodic cold conditions in the temperate latitudes (see NASA study here). Meanwhile, further studies (see links below) in recent years established a link between declining Arctic sea ice and Jet Stream configurations that brought on polar vortex weakening and collapse.

rossby wave 2

(Normal Jet Stream Pattern A vs disrupted Rossby-type pattern C. During winter, C is often the result of warmer air disrupting, weakening and/or collapsing the polar vortex. Image source: Commons.)

When the polar vortex weakens or collapses, warm air is drawn into its core. This causes an unwinding of the storm system and a displacement of its cold air and energy further south. The storm, as it unwinds, flings a powerful cold front to the south, driving bone-chilling Arctic air into some temperate regions even as the High Arctic takes on an unusual degree of heat (for the Arctic during winter time).

Current heat anomaly maps clearly display this condition:

Global anomaly temps

(Image source: NOAA)

Note the prevailing, much warmer than average conditions over much of the Arctic, with cooler than average conditions over the US due to collapse and anomalous movement of the polar vortex. This was the very severe winter storm and extreme weather producing pattern that we warned of earlier in December.

Disruptions of the polar vortex have been predicted by climate scientists such as Dr. Jennifer Francis, Dr. James Hansen, and Dr. Jeff Masters, among others, who have warned of more extreme weather caused by, among other things, loss of polar sea ice. Dr. Hansen, in particular, has warned of very intense storms as Arctic melt continues to ramp up and more of the Arctic’s cold is pushed episodically southward where it will inevitably confront the warming temperate and tropical zones. In the end, Hansen warns of frontal systems packing the strength of hurricanes large enough to span entire continents. These are the powerful effects of continued Arctic warming and of which the current polar vortex collapse is but a symptom.

Let us all hope we are not unwise enough to push the climate system far enough to generate the kinds of storms Hansen fears. To that dark and not so distant future, what we are seeing now is merely prelude.

Links:

Evidence Linking Arctic Amplification to Extreme Weather in the Mid-Latitudes

A Link Between Reduced Barents-Kara Sea Ice and Winter Extremes over Northern Continents

Arctic Ice Loss Amplified Superstorm Sandy Violence

Stratospheric Harbingers of Anomalous Weather

NOAA

University of Washington

Winter 2013-2014: Sea Ice Loss Locks Jet Stream into Severe Winter Storm Pattern For Most of US

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81 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on The Secular Jurist and commented:
    This is a much more thorough examination of the current cold weather conditions in North America than I have posted over the past week. Please read.

    Reply
  2. Reblogged this on There Are So Many Things Wrong With This and commented:
    Robertscribbler’s blog is very much worth reading if you are concerned with climate disruption. Colorado Bob’s many comments and links are as well.

    Reply
  3. Let’s not kid ourselves here. We are unwise enough to hit the ‘go’ button and continue the assault on this planet until it no longer sustains us. Meanwhile, we need to continue to drive our high powered vehicles and we need more energy and to continue with hydraulic fracturing. So, it’s all good. No sweat.

    Thanks for reblogging this one Robert, but we’ll never take heed of the warnings. We’re just too arrogant, you know.

    Reply
  4. climatestate

     /  January 9, 2014

    Via the White House “The Polar Vortex Explained in 2 Minutes” http://climatestate.com/2014/01/09/the-polar-vortex-explained-in-2-minutes/

    Reply
  5. climatestate

     /  January 9, 2014

    Btw Robert, check out this neat WP plug-in for sharing content. http://wordpress.org/plugins/repostus/

    Reply
  6. sadly, almost all articles on this phenom have utterly failed to mention a word about SSW’s:
    http://www.haystack.mit.edu/ssw/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/2009GRL_Chau.pdf

    The dynamics of the stratosphere sudden warming phenomenon is discussed in terms of the interaction of vertically propagating planetary waves with zonal winds. If global-scale disturbances are generated in the troposphere, they propagate upward into the stratosphere, where the waves act to decelerate the polar night jet through the induction of a meridional circulation. Thus, the distortion and the break-down of the polar vortex occur. If the disturbance is intense and persists, the westerly jet may eventually disappear and an easterly wind may replace it. Then “critical layer interaction” takes place. Further intensification of the easterly wind and rapid warming of the polar air are expected to occur as well as weakening of the disturbance. The model is verified by numerical integrations of the adiabatic-geostrophic potential vorticity equation. Computed results possess features similar to those observed in sudden warming phenomena.
    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/1520-0469(1971)028%3C1479%3AADMOTS%3E2.0.CO%3B2

    from the always accurate and erudite andrew: http://theweathercentre.blogspot.com/2013/12/sudden-stratospheric-warming-incoming.html

    http://acdb-ext.gsfc.nasa.gov/Data_services/met/metdata/annual/merra/t60_90n_10_2013_merra.pdf

    Reply
    • SSW and tropopause expansion are cutting edge science when it comes to understanding the human-caused climate disruption. Thanks for these references.

      I don’t know why your comment got caught in auto-moderation. I’ll have to look at my settings, but I think wordpress requires my permission for posts with lots of links. In any case, hope all is repaired.

      Warmest regards.

      Reply
    • JG –
      RE the SSW –
      Lots of discussion on Neven’s latest thread about that :
      Looking for winter weirdness 2014
      http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2014/01/looking-for-winter-weirdness-2014.html

      Reply
      • TY bob…i tend to check in with andrew’s weather centre, have been neglecting neven i am afraid, but only because andrew is active on FB too. i started following both around spring of 2012 when the arctic had that massive shelf break off & the rapid 75% melt.

        Reply
  7. Greg Smith

     /  January 9, 2014

    Robert, I have numerous friends who are in need of educating on this subject, myself included. I don’t know how to explain to them previous cold events, which were more common previous to the 1990’s. I can’t tell them that global warming weakened the polar vortex then as it is negates the argument that warming is increasing if these cold events are in fact decreasing yet warming explains some of these arctic cold snaps. Obviously, a simple explanation that does not include global warming is necessary. What is the simple model to explain previously common arctic blasts this far south back in the 1980’s and before, thank you.

    Reply
    • i do my best here, greg: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WeirdWeather/ you pose a good question, and one it would behoove those of us doing research to understand and share info on. i think, again, the SSW/chlorofluorocarbons is a highly important and under-discussed aspect. i’m happy people are finally discussing the PV in the first place, but, we definitely need further illumination on the feedbacks that are a part of the SSW/PV cycles. i post this stuff….now if people would just take the time to read about it instead of the disinfo crap circulating… google: ‘sudden stratospheric warming,’ ‘nacreous clouds,’ ‘ozone hole,’ in tandem with, ‘polar vortex.’ when you start looking at all returns since time began (heh), you see that there were a few notable PV events, late 80’s, 2002, big gaps between but we are now seeing the events recur YEARLY. to say this ‘has happened before’ doesn’t really mean shyte….fact is, it is happening regularly now, with increasing impact….i follow global weather events rabidly in the group, and i can tell you, this winter is already WAY ahead of last year in terms of extremes and general indicators.

      Reply
    • Global warming, at this time, is predominantly centered on the Arctic. Sometimes the increasing warm air in the Arctic pushes its cold air out, driving it south (Rossby wave/ collapsing polar vortex episodes). In the end, these cold episodes are not enough to exceed what was a ‘normal’ 10-20 year cold snap during the last century. (I think this explanation is simple enough. For more detail, see below.)

      Storminess, on the other hand, is not to be confused with cold. And storminess will likely be far, far worse than during the last century, especially as time moves forward. We might see 100, 150 or record shattering snow and ice events in combination with these cold outbursts. This is due to increased atmospheric moisture (warming related) and to the high temperature differences in close proximity. When you have an atmosphere loaded with moisture and temperatures ranging between 60 and -30 over a 500 to 1000 mile interval, the results can be explosive. During summer, this and other features can bring about serious record rainfall events.

      Not only is the energy for these storms extraordinary and unprecedented, but the blocking (fixed) nature of the jet stream over certain zones means that such strong storms have the potential to occur over and over again across the same region.

      What must be made perfectly clear is that all these changes and events are directly influenced and/or caused by human warming. We wouldn’t see these atmospheric changes if we we’re shoving the climate system in such a forceful and extraordinarily rapid manner.

      Last of all, regarding temperatures… By comparison, regions of the world are now experiencing their hottest temperatures ever with increasing regularity (seasonal 100 and 150 year records are now commonplace). And the world tends to break its highest recorded temperature about once every five years (under current trends). So these Arctic cold snaps, while seemingly extraordinary, occur in the context of increasing overall warmth.

      Simple enough?

      Unfortunately, this gets more complex when Greenland ice begins its more rapid melt phase.

      Note that I haven’t included higher atmosphere heat transfer dynamics (SSW/TW). These systems are more complex and I’m working on a logos means for simplifying their implications. Suffice it to say that warming in the troposphere periodically injects heat into the stratosphere which then is transferred, through upper air launching patterns, into the Arctic. The result is an upper air dynamic that also disrupts the seasonal polar vortex.

      In short, it’s warm air, at the surface or at the upper levels, that is causing these disruptions and extreme weather events.

      Reply
  8. Robert – a pleasure to see an accurate description of the dynamics of the present mayhem. Here in the UK serial massive storms have been removing ancient rock formations weighing thousands of tonnes.

    Friend Willi posted a link to a global wind-flow live graphic that is worth seeing – click on ‘Earth’ for options; try 500mPa height for a good view of the jetstream, and click on graphic to drag it round to the preferred view.
    http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/isobaric/1000hPa/orthographic=-4.14,57.16,420

    All the best,

    Lewis

    Reply
  9. Not a Historic Cold Wave
    As notable as this week’s cold wave was–bringing the coldest air seen since 1996 or 1994 over much of the nation–the event failed to set any monthly or all-time record low minimum temperature records at airports and cooperative observing stations monitored by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. As wunderground’s weather historian Christopher C. Burt summed it up for me, “The only significant thing about the cold wave is how long it has been since a cold wave of this force has hit for some portions of the country–18 years, to be specific. Prior to 1996, cold waves of this intensity occurred pretty much every 5-10 years. In the 19th century, they occurred every year or two (since 1835). Something that, unlike the cold wave, is a truly unprecedented is the dry spell in California and Oregon, which is causing unprecedented winter wildfires in Northern California.” Part of the reason that this week’s cold wave did not set any all-time or monthly cold records is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so in a warming climate. As Andrew Freedman of Climate Central wrote in a blog post yesterday, “While the cold temperatures have been unusual and even deadly, climate data shows that intense cold such as this event is now occurring far less frequently in the continental U.S. than it used to. This is largely related to winter warming trends due to man-made global warming and natural climate variability.” For example, in Detroit during the 1970s, there were an average of 7.9 nights with temperatures below zero. But this decade, that number has been closer to two nights.

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2606

    Reply
    • Thanks for that, Bob. I hope you can read my comments, since Robert doesn’t post them. If not, perhaps I’ll find you elsewhere.

      Reply
    • Absolutely. We see freak 100 and 150 year flood and heat events with regularity. This was ‘only’ a 20 year cold event. But when compared to the warming norm it seems much colder than usual.

      Reply
  10. Tom

     /  January 9, 2014

    Great post Robert. As to your conclusion and “hope” I’m afraid it’s too late now for that, as at least two dozen irreversible positive feedback loops have now kicked in and will amplify storms, cause longer droughts, more floods and many other knock-on effects (oh, like the ability to grow food).

    You’re probably familiar with this post by Guy McPherson, but for other readers, scroll down to the Positive feedbacks section to see the current list (which gets added to regularly any more):

    http://guymcpherson.com/2013/01/climate-change-summary-and-update/

    Reply
  11. Gerald Spezio

     /  January 9, 2014

    Robert, “symptom” & “prelude” are too mild & approach denial-ism.
    This is not a time for word-smithing & euphemisms; although if we are doomed, what is wrong with word-smithing?
    Soon, nothing will matter, & our only choice will be how we die.
    Many won’t get to choose – sorry Milton Friedman.
    Confronting the end of human civilization & our own inevitable deaths is not for the hesitant.

    Even cheerful doomer Guy McPherson continues to fly & produce tons of CO2 in order to lecture about the perils of our fossil fuel fired industrial civilization.

    Drinking excessive amounts of booze is a behavior & it will kill you.
    Many only need the signal for drinking or snorting themselves to death.
    Cocaine might be nice, & thank you Robert Frost.

    Reply
  12. Gerald Spezio

     /  January 9, 2014

    Paul Ehrlich espoused the population bomb for decades.

    Too much fucking by the poor & downtrodden was the problem.

    Paul said that the poor MUST cut back on their excessive fucking & baby making.

    Now, he advocates a “new ethic” to stop runaway burning of fossil fuels & the destruction of the planet.

    Although Ehrlich passes as a scientist & is NOT a malicious fellow; he is also an philosophical idealist.

    Idealists claim to change behavior by changing ideas.

    Intellectuals like Paul get the new ideas & pass them on to the proles.

    In a recent blog on the website of the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere, Ehrlich called for scientists to “quickly generate a global ethical movement agreeing to change human actions for the benefit of our descendants.”

    AND QUICKLY …

    Yeah Paul, new ethics & new ideas will put the kibosh on the old ethics & the old ideas.

    Shazam – free shoes for all earthly pilgrims.

    It’s all in your head – you understand?

    Quit doin it, or you will go blind or more worser.

    Reply
  13. how come everyone elses’ comments got moderated and posted and not mine, about the SSW’s? it’s highly relevant. i hope this isn’t going to be a trend, as i would like to continue sharing your articles in my group (700+ members).

    Reply
  14. Gerald Spezio

     /  January 9, 2014

    THERE IS NO SUCH PHENOMENA IN SCIENCE AS THE SPONTANEOUS GENERATION OF MAGGOTS, or anything else.

    Genuine & sincere scientists would never endorse such UN-scientific drivel such as the spontaneous generation of maggots.

    But the very same serious scientists routinely & seriously advocate the spontaneous generation of world changing ideas.

    In philosophical idealism mysterious world changing ideas age are spontaneously generated in the mysterious “minds” of deep thinking AUTONOMOUS intellectuals.

    THESE ALL POWERFUL & ALL CAUSATIVE IDEAS DO NOT HAVE ANY HISTORY.

    Being spontaneously generated – they are autonomous products of autonomous humans.

    Nobody knows where these ideas come from; but we all know that they cause everything.

    Voila, because of the new ideas, especially ethical ideas, everything changes & quickly too.

    It’s so freakin easy – just change your mind.

    Everything comes from the mysterious MIND!

    First comes MIND – then food, clothing, & shelter, or no?

    Reply
  15. james cole

     /  January 9, 2014

    As Colorado Bob pointed out, extreme as this cold was, it set few records. I am living proof. I live in extreme North Eastern Minnesota. This is a famous cold spot. I know for a fact, as I was alive then, that the temperatures of this cold snap came nowhere near record cold. In fact, were it 30 years ago, we would call this typical normal January weather. It is that simple, 30 years ago, this weather would not make the news, it was normal. -20F was an every winter experience. -30 was not abnormal. -35 to -40 was a cold snap here in 1970. We have had rapid warming here, so much so that a temperature below 0 degrees F is now very rare. The great arctic vortex is a faint shadow of what happened every January in NE Minnesota. The bloody fools in media and the oil company PR firms are all over this as proof of global cooling. What a joke these people are. Sick joke that is!

    Reply
    • Absolutely. Even though it’s a major cold snap, it’s only the coldest in about 20 years. Meanwhile, we see regular 100 and 150 year heat and flood events with all-tiime records falling with high frequency. The scale is, most certainly, tipped toward heat.

      Reply
  16. ‘A Catastrophe’: Why 100,000 Dead Bats Rained Down on Australia — and a Warning to Locals
    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/01/09/a-catastrophe-why-100000-dead-bats-rained-down-on-australia-and-a-warning-to-locals/

    Lots of pictures, very grim.

    Reply
  17. Kangaroos collapsing from heat exhaustion

    In Queensland, there are reports of a large number of parrots, kangaroos and emus that have been found dead
    http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/auckland/news/nbint/1566587105-kangaroos-collapsing-from-heat-exhaustion

    Reply
  18. Worst heatwave ever in Argentina leaves seven people dead

    An exceptionally hot week caused the death of vulnerable people in Argentina and left the country’s capital Buenos Aires without power for days, as temperatures hit 45C in some regions.
    http://blueandgreentomorrow.com/2014/01/04/worst-heatwave-ever-in-argentina-leaves-seven-people-dead/

    Reply
  19. The month of December was one of the mildest in a century in the Nordic countries, according to meteorologists, with temperatures exceeding their normal seasonal average by four to five degrees Celsius in Norway and Finland.
    http://www.dawn.com/news/1079274/northern-europe-sees-unusually-mild-december

    Reply
  20. Thanks for bringing so much clarity to this. They keep on saying it’s ‘just’ weather. One article I read, in one paragraph said the cold was setting records, in another that the pattern was ‘not out of the ordinary’. Some folks (esp if it’s Murdoch’s Times) will say ANYTHING!

    Reply
    • The illusion of prosperity through a ‘richness’ of unconventional fuels (fracked oil and gas, tar sands etc), continues to blind many media moguls and their business associates to the rising dangers of human-caused climate change. They do not read or understand the science or they feel that their severe risk taking is worth the current reward. A heightened public understanding of climate change is, therefore, a direct threat to the business models of many powerful people. This situation is entirely their (the business magnates) fault and responsibility. They could have invested in other sources, other businesses that were less harmful. But they did not.

      Like any other industry that profits from harm, they will do everything they can to influence media and government to water down or not speak publicly about risks. Since many of these individuals own or have ties with powerful media orgs, and since they are ever active in politics, the warning signal is muted and disrupted (without them, there would be no such thing as climate change denial, for instance).

      In short, it is likely that the power of the fossil fuel special interests is an order of magnitude greater than that of the cigarette industry.

      So that’s what we face, if we want to get any word out on this. Not hopeless. But very difficult and fraught with tricks, spin and obstacles.

      Reply
  21. Thanks for this post! Here in NY, we’re definately feeling the effects of this weather system.

    Reply
  22. If the displacement of the cold air over the US means warmer air in the Arctic, presumably that will slow the thickening of the sea ice and potentially mean a lower base for next years melt season…

    Reply
    • We’ll see. Sea ice extent is near record low levels for this time of year now. I am thinking we are looking at a low (15-20%) chance of near zero ice this year (end summer). If we get some hot winds coming in from the continents, it will be a very bad year for sea ice.

      Reply
      • If you’re familiar with Neven’s blog or forum, no doubt there will be plenty of speculation and graphs as usual. My observation is that it’s rather hard to assign a percentage with much confidence – I can’t help but feel that if even last year had a weather pattern similar to 2007, it might have destroyed all or most of the ice. We haven’t really had an exceptionally unhelpful weather pattern in the years since then (and 2007 marked the loss of a lot of multi-year ice, resilience now gone from the system). In 2012 for the new record the weather was pretty neutral if memory serves and last year the weather favoured ice retention (last year also provided a brief respite in terms of global harvests). Regardless the earliest stages of the effects are already here with reasonable grounds to suppose much worse may be around the corner in the near future.

        As a species, a global civilisation and individuals – the danger is that most of us are merely chasing the curve. If there is a mass demand for action in the later stages, it will be for solutions that are no longer adequate (there will be no solutions for the masses). Or maybe I’m just pitching myself so far ahead of that curve as to be in the realms of insanity?

        Reply
        • I put the percent at 15-20 as any one very bad year (weather wise) could wipe out all or most of the ice. Still low, but now possible on a one in five to seven year time-frame.

          I do keep track of Neven’s blog. He’s made some excellent contributions and the readers/commenters are fantastic.

          I agree with your chasing the curve assessment. My opinion is that nothing less than full scale mitigation can do much help at this time. We need a very rapid draw down and, after that, we might need some rather expensive and difficult additional action as well.

          I think we need to look at the current 400 ppm as an initial forcing. I don’t think we’ve adequately taken into account the Earth system response to forcings and that’s what keeps me awake at night.

          Insanity. Human ghg emissions 150 times that of volcanoes and at least six times that of the worst natural ghg emission in the geological record… that’s insanity. Any rational, thinking person will tend to get a bit out on the curve once one begins to understand how devastating that emission could be.

  23. Tom

     /  January 10, 2014

    http://www.dailyimpact.net/2014/01/09/methane-feedback-instant-planetary-emergency/

    Methane Feedback: “Instant Planetary Emergency”

    (concludes with)

    And British scientist John Nissen, chairman of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, suggests that if the summer sea ice loss passes “the point of no return,” and “catastrophic Arctic methane feedbacks” kick in, we’ll be in an “instant planetary emergency.” That point of no return for Arctic Sea ice has in all probability already been passed. US Navy researchers expect the Arctic to be free of ice and warming rapidly in two years.

    While the leaders of the world swing hysterically from branch to branch, hooting about a cold day in winter refuting all of climate science, on every front the planetary emergencies accumulate and accelerate. Anyone who has not acquired a sanctuary and begun to hone the skills of self-sustainable living, does not understand the situation.

    [I’m not sure the author understands the situation either as “self-sustainable living” is tantamount to hopium imho.]

    Reply
  24. Gerald Spezio

     /  January 10, 2014

    Tom, I”ll say … who doesn’t understand the situation

    Anyone who has not acquired a sanctuary and begun to hone the skills of self-sustainable living, does not understand the situation.

    Paul Ehrlich & Michael Mann are intelligent & knowledgeable scietists.

    They surely understand the situation; but they both sincerely advocate “NEW ETHICS” as a solution.

    I learned the most powerful lesson of my inquiring life from scientific materialist Marvin Harris in 1986.

    “The proposition that ideas guide behavior, but not the reverse, is the mother error of contemporary anthropological theories.” Theories of Culture in Post-modern Times, Marvin Harris, p, 22.

    “Down through the ages nothing has appeared more certain (& self evident) to the untutored, as well as to learned men & women, than the concept that ideas (& ethics & morality) guide behavior.” ibid. p, 25

    “Explanations of cultural behavior that start from the premise that ideas guide behavior, but not the reverse, are doomed to being dead ends.”ibid p. 27

    “Only when behavior is brought into the picture & rooted in material conditions can we understand the forces that compel the thinking of certain thoughts rather than others.” ibid p. 27

    Next solution from sincere believers in ideation – breathairian-ism?

    Reply
  25. Increasing toxicity of algal blooms tied to nutrient enrichment and climate change

    http://yottafire.com/2014/01/increasing-toxicity-algal-blooms-tied-nutrient-enrichment-climate-change/

    Reply
  26. last night :
    The heaviest rain fell in a corridor from Delray to Hypoluxo. An incredible 22.21 inches of rain was recorded at a Weather Underground weather station near Hypoluxo. Boynton Beach saw an impressive 17.72 inches of rain.
    http://www.wunderground.com/news/flash-flooding-strikes-palm-beach-county-fla-20140110

    Reply
    • Heat over-riding much of Eastern US. There’s a huge moisture flow involved as well.

      Unrelated — big ‘warm-up in the high Arctic over the past couple of days. Sea ice extent remains near record lows for this time of year.

      Reply
  27. Stu Ostro’s Meteorology Blog

    Polar Vortex, Global Warming, and Cold Weather

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/stuostro/comment.html?entrynum=30#commenttop

    Stu does polar vortex 101 a great source for anyone who never heard of the vortex before January 1ST .

    Reply
  28. Half a million in Kosovo facing water shortage

    An unusually dry winter has left water reservoirs in Kosovo perilously low. If rain or snow does not come soon almost half a million people will face severe water shortages, but experts say such crises are avoidable.
    http://www.dw.de/half-a-million-in-kosovo-facing-water-shortage/a-17352442

    Reply
    • Models show the Sahara expands north into southern Europe. So, avoidable is a relative term. Relative to time and to how high those CO2 values go.

      Speaking of which, readings were at 398.5 ppm CO2 today and we still have 4 and a half months before we hit yearly maximum. Over the past year, CO2 values rose by around 3 ppm. A repeat increase to around 402.5 (max) might indicate a new, more rapid trend. Such a signal would indicate the stores are nearing full and we have feedbacks to human emission pushing yearly values higher.

      Reply
  29. Like the old bumpersticker says:

    “It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber”

    Reply
  30. Wind power generated largest part of Spain’s electricity in 2013 Last updated on 6 January 2014, 3:49 pm Wind generated 21.1% of Spain’s energy in 2013, while coal-fired power plants declined by 4.7% –
    The Texans have just completed their grid link to their big wind farms.

    Who could have imagined that the Spanish and the Texans are in a race to see who makes 25% of their electricity from the wind.

    But that’s the bet this year.
    Who would have thought that Spain would get 20% of their electric power from the wind first ? And use it to power one of the most advanced electric train systems on the planet ?

    The first “Weekend-up Date”

    Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead

    Reply
    • Now that is good news. But what we need is China doing the same while consuming less meat. Hell, zero global meat consumption would be a huge help.

      Reply
  31. Gerald Spezio

     /  January 11, 2014

    Chinese beachgoers walk by an algae-covered public beach in Qingdao, China, in July 2013. The seas off China have been hit by their largest-ever growth of algae, ocean officials say, with waves of green growth washing onto the shores. Photo: AFP / Getty Images

    Beachgoers in China walk by an algae-covered public beach in Qingdao, China, in July 2013. The seas off China have been hit by their largest-ever growth of algae, ocean officials say, with waves of green growth washing onto the shores. Photo: AFP / Getty Images

    Algae proliferation costs are ‘in the billions’ – ‘By fertilizing the planet, we end up fertilizing everything’

    Late summer plankton bloom covers Lake Ontario, one of North America’s Great Lakes. Microscopic cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, have reached such large concentrations and color the water to such an extent that the change is visible from orbit. Photo: ISS Expedition 36 crew / NASA

    Late summer plankton bloom covers Lake Ontario, one of North America’s Great Lakes. Microscopic cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, have reached such large concentrations and color the water to such an extent that the change is visible from orbit. Photo: ISS Expedition 36 crew / NASA

    Image of the Day: Satellite view of algae bloom on Lake Ontario, 24 August 2013

    The waters of Lake Erie seem to glow green in this image taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite on 26 September 2013. The color comes from a toxic algae bloom, which has been growing in the lake since mid July. Photo: LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC

    The waters of Lake Erie seem to glow green in this image taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite on 26 September 2013. The color comes from a toxic algae bloom, which has been growing in the lake since mid July. Photo: LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC

    Image of the Day: Satellite view of toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie, 26 September 2013

    Reply
  32. Gerald Spezio

     /  January 11, 2014

    The gruesome pitchas of cyanobacteria blooms are here;
    http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2014/01/50-doomiest-images-of-2013.html

    Reply
  33. Vic

     /  January 13, 2014

    Australia is currently experiencing its second major heatwave for the year, following on from 2013 which was its hottest year since records began. Against this backdrop, the country has voted in an extreme right wing government intent on expanding fossil fuel mining whilst abolishing environmental protections that have been in place for decades and launching an almost frenzied attack on anything that looks like climate action.

    Let this be a lesson to other countries – never let Rupert Murdoch control 70% of your print media like we did here. Unsurprisingly enough, it was the right wing politicians when they were last in power who relaxed the countrys media ownership laws allowing Murdoch to gain a controlling interest in our democracy.

    Meanwhile, to the east, a slumbering giant is showing signs of awakening…
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-09/lower-rainfall-predicted-as-early-signs-point-to-el-nino-return/5192182

    Reply
  34. Nancy

     /  January 13, 2014

    Robert, as usual, thank you for the excellent explanation.

    It appears that we are reaching a dangerous tipping point. The Arctic is the signal (although most people are completely unaware of the condition of the ice up there). Is it time for geo-engineering? You can read or listen to a good debate between a two scientists on NPR’s “Living on Earth”. As scary as it sounds, I am in favor of experimentation…..since it is clear we haven’t begun to reduce emissions.
    http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.html?programID=14-P13-00002&segmentID=4

    Also, there is a two-day meeting at Tufts in March about the warming Arctic. If you want more information, I’d be happy to post it. It is open to the public.

    Reply
    • Geo-engineering is the chemo-therapy of the climate system. It may reduce the impacts of the ‘cancer’ but it still poisons the patient. Without full scale mitigation, we don’t have a prayer.

      Reply
    • I’d like to caveat my former statement by saying that I think geo-engineering may be needed. But I don’t have to like it very much. And if we don’t deal with the cause of the problem (human emissions, overpopulation, bad use of resources etc), it will be very much like giving chemo to a smoker for her lung cancer… May provide some temporary or short lived respite, but unlikely to stop the disease.

      Reply
  35. Carol

     /  January 15, 2014

    One thing confuses me about the polar blocking effect for N. America: Wouldn’t it have just as much chance to keep the cold air in the Arctic and allow warm air to flow up from the tropics into the northern tier of the country (as the other way around)? I’m thinking of the 2011-2012 winter when we virtually had no winter here in southern Wisconsin. Any help would be appreciated.

    Reply
    • The high amplitude wave pattern brings warmer air further north and colder air further south. The net effect is that the difference in temperature between the poles and the southern latitudes decreases with cold/warm being displaced more east-west than north-south.

      The pattern is caused by warming, not the opposite. In other words, warm air invasions of the Arctic cause the high amplitude pattern. The Jet Stream wouldn’t slow down without the warmth and it wouldn’t exhibit so many high amplitude waves.

      In essence:

      Horse=Warming
      Cart= High Amplitude Waves and Blocking Patterns

      Reply
      • Carol

         /  January 15, 2014

        Thanks for shedding some light on this for me. I had been thinking that it would depend on where the peaks and troughs of the “lazy” jet stream landed on the globe. I had also been hoping that we could get some mild winters out of this looming catastrophe! But I guess that’s not something to take to the bank.

        Reply
        • Oh, you’ll get either milder winters or stormy, cold ones. Eventually, the mild winters won’t seem like winter at all and with them will probably come drought and fire hazard (see California this year).

  36. First time commenter here, but how long, in your most severe projections, does the earth have until we notice a doomsday effect? I don’t see the US oil/gas companies bending to the need to reduce emissions and burning through fossil fuels. I don’t see that happening, or other countries doing that either. I’m a 25 year old in IT who has zero understanding of the current climate conditions past/present/future. Thanks to you and everyone else who have tried to shed light on this for people like me.

    Reply
  1. Another Week of Climate Disruption News, January 12, 2014 – A Few Things Ill Considered
  2. Beneath the Cracking, Melting Ice, the Arctic Methane Monster Continues its Ominous Rumbles | robertscribbler
  3. This is What Human-Caused Climate Change Looks Like: Arctic to Warm, West Coast to Bake, Polar Vortex to Collapse and Flood Eastern US With Arctic Air | robertscribbler
  4. Polar Vortex to Collapse and Flood Eastern US With Arctic Air | ClimateState
  5. Arctic ‘Heat Wave’ to Rip Polar Vortex in Half, Shatter Alaska’s All-Time Record High for January? | robertscribbler
  6. Arctic ‘Heat Wave’ to Rip Polar Vortex in Half, Shatter Alaska’s All-Time Record High for January? | 2 Degrees Centigrade
  7. Can Polar Vortex Disprove Climate change? | Clean Energy Action
  8. The latest on global warming. - Page 20
  9. Dr Jennifer Francis and the Year-Long Blocking Pattern | robertscribbler
  10. Arctic Heatwaves Rise to Threaten Sea Ice as Lake Baikal Wildfires Reignite | robertscribbler

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