Arctic ‘Heat Wave’ to Rip Polar Vortex in Half, Shatter Alaska’s All-Time Record High for January?

62 Degrees Fahrenheit. That’s the all time record high for anywhere in the state of Alaska for the month of January. 57 Degrees Fahrenheit. That’s the temperature measured earlier this week in southern Alaska.

And forecasts call for warmer weather from Friday through Monday…

Across Alaska, temperatures are as much a 30 degrees above average for this time of year. This record winter warmth has pushed Alaska’s average temperature, according to reports from Anchorage, to 24 degrees Fahrenheit. By comparison, the lower 48, hundreds of miles to the south, is experiencing average temperatures of 22 degrees Fahrenheit. Though 24 degrees is not typically seen as a heat wave, readings in the upper 50s and lower 60s for Alaska in January may as well be. If these same temperature extremes were occurring during summer, some parts of Alaska would be experiencing a 90+ degree scorcher.

Mangled Jet Stream, Anomalous 10 Month Blocking Pattern to Blame

What we are witnessing is what amounts to a ten month long warm air invasion of the Arctic, with Alaska at ground zero. Human-caused global warming has resulted in an amplification of polar temperatures well above the typical average. Now the region is experiencing readings that range of 15-30 degrees warmer than normal.

This massive temperature increase (also associated with a reduction of land and sea ice) is causing a weakening in the polar Jet Stream which is allowing more warm air to invade the Arctic from the south. Early last spring, a weakness in the Jet resulted in a powerful and extraordinarily persistent blocking pattern forming over Alaska. Warm air flooded continuously up and over Alaska, occasionally penetrating deep into the Arctic Ocean region. Heat wave after heat wave impacted Alaska, which set numerous all-time record high temperatures during the summer of 2013.

This anomalous heat flooded in and spilled out around the Arctic Circle, disgorging so much hot air that the term ‘Arctic Heat Wave’ became common parlance. Now, this historic and extraordinary pattern has continued for 1o months running. A kind of persistence that may well give new meaning to the term blocking pattern.

south to north weather pattern Alaska

(Image source: NASA)

The wave pattern stretches so high into the upper latitudes that what we are seeing is weather systems more often rise up from the south and travel northward over Alaska and into the Arctic, than proceed in their typical east-west progression.
The west-east weather train is broken. And a strange south-north train from equator to Arctic is instead set in place.

In the above image sequence, provided by NASA, the heat and associated moisture flow all the way from the equatorial region near Hawaii, up over thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean waters before flooding on through Alaska and into the high Arctic. The extraordinarily powerful and persistent blocking pattern has linked the deep tropics to the high Arctic in unprecedented and anomalous fashion. Especially when one considers that the current pattern has lasted for almost an entire year.

This it the kind of extreme weather pattern that Dr. Jennifer Francis warned about. The kind of pattern Dr. Jeff Masters continues to point out in his cutting edge blog — Weather Underground. In my view, we ignore Dr. Francis and Dr. Masters at our risk. Their observations hold true to what is happening now and they are very useful tools for predicting the weather of a world in which human global warming has now become the primary driver of the world’s climate. Without the actual and ongoing context that is human warming, the few meteorologists still associated with climate change deniers scramble to find the increasingly rare analogs in past climate that match today’s extreme weather. But there is no analog to warmest ever temperatures in Alaska and polar temperatures that are now hotter than they were at any time over at least the past 44,000 years. And there is certainly no analog to CO2 levels higher than they’ve been at any time during the past 4.5 million years.

For this is the disrupted Jet Stream pattern not only directly responsible for the anomalous Arctic heat Alaska is now experiencing. It is also the cause of colder air being driven out of the Arctic and southward over the US, causing multiple cold snaps and extreme winter weather events in the lower 48. For the warm air influx, both at the surface and at the upper levels of the atmosphere, result in multiple polar vortex collapse events.

Polar Vortex to be Ripped in Half

And we are in the midst of just such a polar vortex collapse now. Over the past week, warmer air has flooded the high Arctic, weakening the polar vortex as the center of cold air began to split and streamed down over the continents. By Monday, these warm wedges of air, driving up over both Svalbard in the east and Alaska in the west, will have completely separated the polar vortex into two disassociated cold centers.

In essence, the polar vortex will have been ripped in half by a pincer style warm air invasion from the south. Who knew that atmospheric warming would come to mimic the battlefield tactics of Germans rumbling over the fields of France during World War II? But here we are:

Polar Vortex Ripped in Half

(Image source: University of Washington)

In the above image, we can plainly see the much warmer than normal air wedge driving up from the south and over Alaska in association with the now, ten month old, blocking pattern and related Rossby wave feature over the Pacific and North America. A second, albeit weaker, wedge drives in over Europe and across Svalbard. The net result is a ‘pincer’ of warm air invading the Arctic and cutting the polar vortex in half.

Note that one cold air vortex is predicted to be centered over Eastern Canada near Hudson Bay (Monday). The other is shown to be driven south to Russian Kamchatka near the Sea of Okhotsk. Perhaps coincidentally, this cold air core is very close to the Amur region of Russia and China that experienced a 150 year flood event just this summer. A flood event also associated with anomalous Jet Stream patterns linking polar, temperate, ocean and monsoonal storm patterns (see Song of Flood and Fire and Requiem for Flooded Cities).

Under this pattern the Arctic and especially Alaska will continue to experience record or near-record warmth, while the lower 48 continues to suffer the repeated blows of extreme winter weather as the conditions that are supposed to be affecting the Polar region are instead mercilessly driven southward by a human caused warming and polar vortex collapse event.


Jet Stream Flip Flop: Alaska is Warmer than Lower 48 Again

Sea Ice Loss Locks Jet Stream into Severe Winter Storm Pattern for Much of US

The Arctic Heatwave: Greenland, Siberia, Alaska Heat Domes and a Mangled Jet Stream

From Archangel to Alaska, Heat Waves Now Flank the Central Arctic


Dr. Jennifer Francis, Top Climatologists, Explain how Global Warming Wrecks the Jet Stream and Amps up the Hydrological Cycle to Produce Extreme Weather

Weather Underground

Arctic Temperatures Now Hottest Seen in at Least 44,000 Years

Cold Snap for the US? It’s the Collapsing Polar Vortex, Stupid.

University of Washington

A Song of Flood and Fire

A Requiem for Flooded Cities

Hat tip to Colorado Bob

Leave a comment


  1. Reblogged this on The Secular Jurist and commented:
    “What we are witnessing is what amounts to a ten month long warm air invasion of the Arctic, with Alaska at ground zero. Human-caused global warming has resulted in an amplification of polar temperatures well above the typical average. Now the region is experiencing readings that range of 15-30 degrees warmer than normal.” Wake up, people!

  2. Mark R. Elsis |

     /  January 23, 2014

    2013 Continues Long-Term Warming Trend

  3. uknowispeaksense

     /  January 23, 2014

    Reblogged this on uknowispeaksense.

  4. “The west-east weather train is broken. And a strange south-north train from equator to Arctic is instead set in place.”

    I’d bet you could put in one classroom the number of people beyond climate scientists that understand how extreme a danger this is. I’m not convinced even a majority of climate scientists *really* understand this given their scientific reticence. It’s taken them 7 years to accept polar changes, methane, etc. are all changing as fast as they are.

    • The sciences will need to incorporate risk into their understanding of climate science. The pace of climate change will probably outpace the rate of understanding and discovery otherwise.

      • Been telling Gavin, et al., over at RealClimate that since, oh, 2007. They *still* don’t quite understand what I mean.

        • Poor Gavin and David are invested in the accuracy of the, very useful, climate models they worked so hard to perfect. Unfortunately, there is a huge stake riding on them being absolutely correct. And so they are unwittingly caught up in that stake.

          Risk is liberating, because you don’t have to be absolutely correct. You note the dangers on the horizon and you establish potentials for their emergence. Ironically, because there is a non-attachment to outcomes and a reduction of the ego of certainty, predictions based on risk tend to be more accurate than those based on supposed certainty.

          I suppose it was the extraordinarily surprising and model defying loss of sea ice in 2007 that made you a gadfly to poor David and Gavin? A bit of a shock, that one.

      • mikkel

         /  January 24, 2014

        Climate science (and economics) needs to reach out immediately and interface with control systems science.

        I saw a documentary by Adam Curtis about the beginning of the nuclear age in which they talked about the reactor model at Fukushima. The inventor said it was designed for sub/ship sized reactors and should never be used at the utility level because it was fundamentally unstable at that size without cooling; but they went with it because it was the cheapest (and probably also because it leaves around a lot of plutonium/uranium that can be quickly refined into weapons, so that the military could say they were disarming under the arms treaties yet be able to jump back at a moments notice).

        Anyway, to make it “safer” they through up a bunch of “redundant” safety systems. The engineers that did this were interviewed on camera and said that there was no proof they would work, but there was no proof they wouldn’t work either.

        With brief research, I determined that the redundant systems were highly coupled and the failure in one would likely cause a chain reaction to take down the others.

        This documentary was made in 1992 ( and I watched it in 2008.

        Lo and behold, Fukushima happened and immediately the whole nuclear industry said that it was safe because of all the systems. Knowing several people inside the industry, this wasn’t just propaganda — they literally believed the models that “proved” it would work [the assumptions and caveats the original engineers made were long forgotten, which is quite interesting commentary on how things are systematized in formal education.]

        On the contrary, I wrote that there was a large likelihood of partial or even complete melt down as the systems would fall in a chain reaction, and that the nuclear apologists were destroying the industry. In reality, only a small percentage of reactors have this instability and the next gen of reactors are fundamentally stable no matter what — so by refusing to entertain failure they would accidentally paint the whole system with a broad brush and destroy all faith.

        Well we can see what happened.

        In any case, I often wrote about global warming and one of the commenters asked how I could believe the global warming models but not the reactor models. Easy, I said, the reactor models need to be completely correct in order to avert catastrophe, while the global warming models merely need to show we have a high likelihood of destabilization. If the GW models were being used to try to base concrete decisions on (we’ll build a city here because they weather will be OK) then I would highly object, but as gross tools for “uh oh this is bad” they are fine.

        This nuance is definitely lost on the Real Climate types.

        • “If the GW models were being used to try to base concrete decisions on (we’ll build a city here because they weather will be OK) then I would highly object, but as gross tools for “uh oh this is bad” they are fine.”

          Oh, but apparently they are! At least in regions that aren’t filled to the brim with climate change deniers like North Carolina. That’s what all the ‘adaptability’ buzz is based on — using climate models for planning so that people can be prepared.

          A recent article in the NYT talked about the business ‘opportunity’ that was climate change. A close friend sent the article to me and my reply was ‘how can you generate wealth under climate change when climate change destroys a majority of the primary bases of wealth and livelihood?’ Maybe at 2 C or less, but that’s not what we’re looking at except under the most optimistic, response driven, scenarios.

          I wonder if Gavin and Archer wrote many of the models that such ‘adaptation’ systems will be based upon? If so, then they have an outside interest in defending their validity which may well be a conflict of interest.

          That is pure speculation. But it would go far to explain behavior.

          “Climate science (and economics) needs to reach out immediately and interface with control systems science.”

          Absolutely. And, as in the case of Fukushima and the notion of the big business of adaptability above, safety needs to be the primary consideration. Not money. Not military power. None of the usual tricks that come with gamesmanship.

          You game climate change and she bites back far worse than Fukushima ever did.

  5. james cole

     /  January 24, 2014

    Haven’t we also set some records for warmest La Nina years on record a few years back? La Nina should be a general cooling effect, yet we still saw warmth that is untypical of La Nina years, as if Global Warming mostly overrode the La Nina effect.
    Great noise was made in the press the last few years over the end of global warming, i.e. the stop in temperature rises. I read all kinds of claims for things like no air temperature warming for over a decade for example. The corporate media and corporate press has been all over this “stop in temperature rise story”. In fact, some corporate news papers are still running forms of this story, and the failure of science to account for this lack of warming. These denial stories come at a time when melting glaciers, arctic sea ice, tundra, subtropical glaciers and Greenland has been off the charts. And do not forget the spate of epic typhoons the last few years. Australia was hit by Yasi, a storm beyond any recorded in history down under. Fact that it scored a bulls eye on an unpopulated coastal area put this record storm off the front pages. If you just sit back and accumulate record everything, all to the up side, and can’t show anything to the record down side, then the overall bias or trend is UP. Warmer and warmer.
    Since this 10 month arctic heatwave has made little to no press, that must mean the silence is deliberate. Denial Media has run out of anything worthy of publishing, so they have gone silent. I wonder, what does the coming Arctic summer have in store for sea ice? Is this blocking pattern flooding warm air north going to be enough to take out most all the sea ice? If not this year, then perhaps next? What will the corporate media do or say if science goes north and comes back with records of near total sea ice melt? I want to see how the corporate media handles that on!
    Lastly, in my reading of the global warming science that makes the public sphere, I have noticed an end to the tired old saw about holding the temperature rise to a 2C increase if we only take a few CO2 reduction measures. That seems sensible, because 2C has been baked into the cake for a LONG time already. If, and I say IF, the arctic sea ice does for all practical purposes go to near zero in the next couple years, have the figures been run on how much extra heat the open arctic waters will add to overall global warming. I mean how big will that feedback be?

    • The idea of deep ocean water being warmer than the surface is so counter-intuitive that most people don’t even consider it. That is where the heat has gone to some extent, and it won’t stay down there forever.

    • Last year was a La Nina year and it was still the 8th hottest on record. I’d hardly call that a cooling influence. And you, as well as I, know that global warming most certainly did not stop. The media is just eating up the fossil fueled malinformation.

      Depending on how sensitive the Earth system is, we might be able to hold warming to 2 C if we can somehow manage to stabilize CO2 at 400 ppm. But we’re at that number now. So the hope to stabilize at 2 C is a hope based on a cold turkey approach.

      The problem is that the current human forcing is just the initial push to the climate system. We don’t know how rapidly and powerfully the Earth system will respond. And most climate models do not take into account the response of systems like ice sheets, sea ice, albedo effect and methane release. Those that do put us at 2-3 C warming in the 400 to 450 ppm CO2 range and at 4-5 C at around 500 ppm.

      In short, the 2 C number is a very difficult target and is one that is probably not based on entirely accurate assumptions. If the sea ice goes soon, we probably end up with at least 2 C even if we put the breaks on now. So the best case mitigation is probably still a rather rough ride. But it is still much more desirable that what happens if we do nothing at all.

      These are all great points, by the way. Thanks for your numerous insights.

      • What is the effect south of the equator?

      • The southern ocean still chugs away as a long term, but failing heat sink. The freshening of water and ice outflows mask ocean warming in the deep south as warmth pools at the bottom only to upwell and eat at the ice sheets. Australia is caught in a pool of ocean heat and suffers the dire consequences. Jet Stream changes are less pronounced as south polar amplification lags north polar amplification by 2-3 decades. Nonetheless, droughts and storm/rainfall events grow more intense as powerful heat domes and rivers of moisture bully the southern hemisphere climate zones. The big pool of heat in the western Pacific looms and grows, waiting to do its damage. Ice sheets destabilize in Antarctica whispering of Heinrich events to come, perhaps by around mid-century.

      • “Depending on how sensitive the Earth system is, we might be able to hold warming to 2 C if we can somehow manage to stabilize CO2 at 400 ppm. But we’re at that number now. So the hope to stabilize at 2 C is a hope based on a cold turkey approach. ”

        Papers published this year put paid to any hope of a BAU 2C scenario and a stop emissions now 2C scenario. Climate sensitivity was found to be on the high end. (Really, Sherlock? You mean all the effects that are decades if not centuries ahead of schedule at a 3C sensitivity didn’t clue you in years ago? Huh…) 2C, my friends, is a dream in anything but an intentional decarbonizing scenario. This means massive simplification for OECD nations, a different kind of economy altogether and a world ruled by principles of sustainable design extracted from natural processes.

        The good news is, this is simple to do. Very, very simple. Sustainable systems are hallmarked by ultra simplicity.

        As for what the mark is? Check the Arctic Sea Ice graph that goes all the way back to pre-1900. Notice where the ice started responding: 1953. Notice what the CO2 ppm was at that time: 315. Then consider there is about a 30-year lag in the climate system. That means the conditions to melt the ice were essentially in place around 1920…. when CO2 was at about 300 ppm.

        Add one more rather obvious observation: The planet, in all it’s passive wisdom, never was above 300 ppm during the 3 million years or so of the Ice age. After around 30 inter-glacials, CO2 had never risen above 300 ppm during any of them.

        Heed nature and understand what she is telling you.

        • The clouds study simply validated what we knew all along RE paleoclimate.

          A 400 ppm CO2 world, according to that analysis, is 2-3 C warmer. So if we go cold turkey, and if sensitivity ends up being on the low end of paleoclimate, and if all the cards line up right, we get 2 C.

          Not very likely. But still possible.

          With a rapid reduction we may get 3 C, if the gods are kind, and that might be something we can adapt to. Maybe.

          4 C is probably at the edge of human limits and one with lots of terror baked in aside. All the major current forests burn away at this point. Pretty bad stuff.

          So with mitigation response that either rapidly or eventually gets rid of fossil fuels we’re probably looking at 2-4 C long-term warming. And that means climate horrors emerge and we get the world that scientists feared and that it’s a crap shoot as to whether or not we make it through.

          BAU, on the other hand, is like playing Russian Roulette with all the chambers loaded.

    • “Is this blocking pattern flooding warm air north going to be enough to take out most all the sea ice? If not this year, then perhaps next?”

      Depends. The counter to our cold winters in the midwest and east has been a positive Arctic Oscillation in the summers, keeping cold air bottled up in the Arctic. Our cold winters are not just the blocking high off the west coast. A lot of that flows through Alaska and Canada rather than the Arctic proper. In the falls and winters the last three years now the Arctic Oscillation has gone negative – related to this blocking, almost certainly – allowing all the Arctic air to flow south.

      What we saw last year was enough warmth to almost melt away the last of the thick multi-year ice, but enough cooling to allow a new record to not be achieved. However, the reason for this may not be what you think. Two thirds of Arctic Sea Ice melt comes from bottom melt, not atmospheric temps. Basically, the rapidly increasing ocean temps are still eating away at the ice even though the top melt was somewhat mitigated by cold summer air temps.

      • This is a good assessment.

        My view is it will take a kick of warm air over-riding the continents to bring about a catastrophic melt year. The warm air, at this time, comes from the oceans, which are more moderate. So a change in pattern would be needed.

        As Perm notes, the bottom melt and ocean heating is ongoing. But working against this trend is a freshening of Arctic surface waters that raise freezing temperatures. The balance is fragile and easily disturbed by all the heat moving around. Storms not longer reliably restore ice.

        My opinion is risk of near zero/zero sea ice for this year is still low — 15%. But we shall see as winter and spring progress. If the blocking pattern shifts east, things could look much worse.

        In any case the ongoing trend of heat moving into the Arctic continues. So melt risks increase year on year as the forcing, feedbacks, and driving amplifiers (lewis) build up.

    • mikkel

       /  January 24, 2014

      Yeah it’s tragically hilarious how the media is pouncing on the “pause” meme even as the glaciers and sea ice are disappearing at mind boggling rates — not to mention 100+ year floods and droughts are happening with such frequency that it is impossible to remember them all.

      • Harry

         /  January 24, 2014

        USA Today and The Daily Mail are both managing to chronicle the freakish warmth in Alaska without a single mention of AGW or even climate change, just references to ‘kinks in the jet stream’. Depressing.

  6. lewiscleverdon

     /  January 24, 2014

    Robert – thanks for this. The evidence of a fundamental and intensifying disruption of the Jetstream seems incontrovertible – by any rational observer.

    On the offchance it hasn’t already been coined, I’d like to propose a new term that is required to make sense of the feedback implications of that disruption. The term is “Driven Amplifyer” and it refers to the action of at least three major phenomena: Polar Ozone Loss, Migration of Rainfall, and Climate Destabilization (due to Jetstream disruption). All three are directly involved in accelerating a range of the eight main interactive feedbacks on AGW, and all three are themselves directly driven by the acceleration of one or more of those feedbacks, but none of them themselves provide either GHG outputs or a forcing – hence the name “Driven Amplifyer”.

    The value of the term is in considering the direct interactions of the feedbacks – via a host of coupling mechanisms – such as ASI loss generating warmer winds accelerating Permafrost melt 1500kms across the tundra. Those direct interactions generate an entirely different outcome for the feedbacks than the indirect interaction via timelagged warming from each one then driving all others. Accounting the direct feedback couplings, and those with the Driven Amplifyers, give a rate of acceleration that reflects the action of an integrated organic system rather than 11 disparate entities.

    Once this perspective is more widely comprehended, its implications for both CO2 ppm and global temperature under the Best Case of global Emissions Control will bring people to face the need for additional mitigation measures ASAP – specifically Carbon Recovery and Albedo Restoration. The urgency of campaigning for the necessary UNFCCC governance of their research – which is the vital first step – can hardly be overstated.



    • Warmest regards Lewis and thank you for the suggestion.

      My focus is explaining these forces at a level that tells a relatively easy to understand story. So I prefer to show, rather than tell, if it were. That said, I admire the technical merit and elegant precision of the term Driver Amplifier and will see what I can do to communicate its implications.

      Carbon recovery and albedo restoration may certainly be needed (as I believe we discussed before). My opinion is that without emissions mitigation/control we don’t have a hope in hell.

      My warmest regards to you Lewis and please keep up the great work. Also, thank you for your very insightful and well thought out comment. I’m also involved in grappling with Amplifiers, feedbacks, and forcings. And it can be quite a beast. So any help is greatly appreciated.

  7. Also there’s a dire impact on California thanks to the blocking high. We have had no rain this year and there’s not much chance in the long term forecast . This is the key time for snowfall in the Sierras to fill the reservoirs in Spring, and we are at 20 or so percent of normal .

    • The return to El Nino will probably change that. But you might have to wait for a while longer. When the change comes, the rainfall could be catastrophic, sorry to say.

      • California Geographer

         /  January 24, 2014

        Hi, I’m new here and just found this site after some digging. Its very refreshing to see these topics being discussed since they are not found in the mainstream news. I’d would love to hear more about the potential impacts to the west coast if the jet stream continues to hover to the north of us. We are already bone dry and there is no rain in sight as the rainy season is fading fast. Cherry blossoms are in full bloom in mid January, so things are obviously not right. We are in our 3rd year of drought, and although CA officially declared drought last week, the severity of the problem has not received the attention it deserves. There’s been speculation this drought could last another year, another decade or even a hundred years. There’s evidence in the geologic record that prolonged, decades long droughts have occurred in the past – when the west coast was sparsely populated. Now with 38 million people in CA alone, there will be dire social and economic consequences if we are in fact moving into a prolonged dry period.

        • You’re absolutely correct about this matter not receiving enough attention in the mainstream press. California is one of the largest economies in the world and it cannot run without water.

          What is happening may be influenced by the cyclical nature of climate. But the primary driver is overall warming which, unfortunately, pushes California to be even drier than historical patterns reveal. So if we are hitting a 100 year dry pattern, it will be made worse by climate change. My opinion, based on some scientific insights we’ve received recently, is that the current drought is primarily influenced by polar amplification related changes to the Jet Stream in concert with a long running La Nina/ENSO neutral dominated phase.

          That said, the warming Pacific is bleeding quite a lot of moisture. So if/when El Nino does return, there will probably be rain. Unfortunately, this rain may be very, very intense and long lasting. Moreso than California is used to. We could hope for a weak El Nino, which would probably be the most helpful condition at this time.

          With dry season approaching, I am thinking that we are looking forward to at least another 8-12 months of drought. If the blocking pattern persists, it will likely remain both abnormally hot and abnormally dry for the duration.

  8. Speaking of slow moving systems doing crazy things , this thing began on January 14, Phys.Org has been following it closely :

    NASA still watching an amazingly stubborn, strong tropical low: System 94S

  9. Phil

     /  January 24, 2014

    In response to Colorado Bob comments on 94S, another cyclone that spent a considerable amount of time over land (in Queensland Australia) and seemed to maintained reasonable structure was Cyclone Oswald in January 2013. From memory, it followed a land based track from far North Queensland (e.g. around Cairns) right down over Brisbane into New South Wales. Usually, when they are over land, they become rain depressions and quickly lose structure.

  10. coopgeek

     /  January 24, 2014

    Thanks for your attention to this Robert. I just discovered your blog and it looks like you might be interested in the intersection between the science of what’s happening and the social/economic impacts. I’ll be sure to poke around in your previous posts.

    I’m located in California so I’m predictably preoccupied by our drought portion of this tremendous shift. My own blog is generally focused on cooperative economics and solutions, but this week I was moved to attempt some writing on the weather. We need to get serious about how these changes are going to play out, and I’m shifting my writing to focus on what the weather changes are doing and how we might respond to them from the grassroots.

    I’m at

    • This is fantastic work, and much needed. I sincerely hope you’re able to organize more people to do the work that is increasingly needed. I admire your efforts. Please redouble them!

      My own expertise lies in risk analysis and communication of risk. My background is in emerging threats. Also a writer of sci-fi, I believe I can provide a decent context of the possibilities involved in the major climate shift that is now underway.

      We have another poster, Mikkel, who is talented with organization. Possessing little of these talents myself, I admire those who do.

      Warmest regards, best wishes and good luck!


      • coopgeek

         /  January 24, 2014

        Thanks for the encouragement. I’ve now gone back through your recent posts, and I’m impressed by your work assembling a case for climate change as a current event. I think this will be a nice complement to my own writing. I dabbled in the science a bit for my latest post, but I’d be just as happy to send my readers your direction in the future. I’ll keep an eye out for Mikkel too.

        • Please feel free to post your own links to the comments section as you like. I am happy to support the free flow of knowledge opinions and ideas, especially when it comes to helping those, like you, who work so hard for solutions.


    • coopgeek,

      I took a look at your blog and applaud your research and activism. I want to offer a simpler lens for you to view things through, however. We start with a question (Rhetorical, since I am speaking alone, of course!), “What is the great enemy, the driver, of all problems we face?” The answer is simple: Growth. As some of the comments already above make clear, GHGs have to not only fall, they must be sequestered to bring atmospheric CO2 below 300 ppm. that is where the natural balance of the planet is, and is, in fact, the very high end of what the planet naturally does without our influence.

      Quite a challenge! Not just to hold CO2 at 400, but go backwards 100 ppm? Daunting. Frightening. Paralyzing? No, liberating! Consider having five possible responses to a serious problem that must be addressed. Too many choices with no one clearly delineated as *the* best solution – because “best” depends on values, beliefs, desire for wealth, ideologies, etc. – is paralyzing either because nothing gets done or what does get done solves the problem for nobody. However, if the parameters are such that the problem is an existential threat, a possible extinction/destruction of everything and only one solution addresses that, now you have a clear path forward, though it may take some work to make people understand the solution really does exist and really can be achieved.

      That is where we are. 400 ppm? Suicide. 350? Massive disruption/suicide. There really is one answer only: < 300 ppm. Given how massively energy intensive the OECD is, and even much lesser economies are, we cannot just reduce carbon emissions, we must reverse them. Going backwards 100 ppm clearly means we must, globally, go to a massively simplified global socioeconomic system.

      As regards co-ops, what is their great weakness considering the above? While a co-op is egalitarian, what is its one great weakness? Profit. It seeks profit. Profit equals growth. There are no two ways about this. Why? Profit is asking for more resources to come back to you than you used to create output. ANY growth, however, is ultimately untenable. (I refer you to Dr. Albert Bartlett if not already familiar.)

      Thus, a shift in thinking is necessary and can take one of two forms. To keep the concept of co-ops as productive cooperative groups, then they must embrace the non-growth ethos and move from profit-based to production and exchange-based. The use of "exchange" here is not accidental. If a community determines it has resources available to sustainably produce, say, ropes, but not other things it uses of necessity, then it must exchange rope for other things. But, it only needs what it needs and only needs to replace an equivalent amount of resources. It does not need to accumulate wealth in the form of $ or stuffs. It needs to meet the needs of the community.

      Better still, is to organize in terms of community, not economic groups. This should be obvious, but may not be, Sustainability will require that resources be managed based on ecological definitions of organizational units: neighborhood/town/small city; smaller watershed/large city/area; bio-region/large watershed; continent. The resources that impact only a given defined unit are managed at that level. E.g. management of Colorado River water involves multiple states and two countries. Abandoned homes in your neighborhood? Only your neighborhood. Etc.

      So, I suggest a shift from economic groupings to all-community-based economics.

      • coopgeek

         /  January 24, 2014

        Thanks, permoccupy. I absolutely agree with you on the centrality of growth as an issue. It is simply not compatible with a finite planet – the details of our destination still remain to be worked out, but the end result is clear.

        I’ll take advantage of Robert’s gracious offer to let me post more links, to offer this older writing about how sustainability must go beyond technical equilibrium (e.g. the production processes must be non-destructive in the long run) to economic sustainability. That is, as long as wealth concentration is not addressed nothing is truly sustainable – it’ll just be those 85 wealthiest people trying to sell each other organic champagne and yachts with salvaged granite countertops.

        I’m painfully aware of how far short co-ops generally fall in reaching technical sustainability, but I think they’re our best bet at moving to the community level of economic organizing. There are some promising developments toward sustainable systems in Italy, for example. And it seems like top-down organizing (including national currencies) is inherently inefficient and based on hypercomplex structures that are unlikely to survive the changes now unfolding.

        PS: My name is Andrew, by the way, what’s yours?

  11. More on that stuck system in the Philippines –

    Manila: Floods forced thousands to flee their homes on Friday, as the death toll rose to 56 in the southern Philippines region of Mindanao.

    Sources said at least 35,000 people in the predominantly Muslim region braved waist-high water to leave flooded villages, bringing to 1.14 million the number of people displaced in 14 days of continuous torrential rains, brought about by tropical depression Lingling.

    The storm was spotted in the Pacific Ocean, 230km off Davao City in the southern Philippines on Friday, authorities said.

    Lingling has been pouring rains previously only on four southern regions

  12. Alvean

     /  January 24, 2014

    Thanks for the scholarly comments. I found it all very illuminating, and i researched terms I did not know (I’m not a scientist) so that was very educational. Once again, thanks.

  13. One of the best things about WU is the Wunder Map.
    Much discussion of the warmth in Alaska, and the cold in the Deep South .
    There is a station a the top of Svalbard, Norway called Grahuken , it’s 80.06 N lat. 26 feet above sea level.

    The current temp. is 34F degrees. In the dark in January. Less than 10 degrees from the North Pole.

    Here’s the link :

  14. If this were happening in the summer, we’d have another record ice breakup and melt in the Arctic. Too bad it is on our plate now, with snow and ice in Houston being the meal of the day.

    Hang in there – in two years we’ll get our Arctic record open again, and all this will be forgotten!

  15. Top quality work here from Robert, and some of the best comments I’ve seen. I wonder if some of you came over from Climate Progress, which suffered badly as commenters left following a remake that made the site less useful (in my opinion).

    I hope all of you are following Paul Beckwith on Facebook, and in his Radio Ecoshock interview. Paul is the best scientists speaking out about the Arctic and changes to the Jet Stream.

    Alex, Radio Ecoshock

  16. Warm temps blamed for massive avalanche that cut off Alaskan town

    The 50-mile stretch of rural road might not be reopened for a week, and observers say a collapse of this magnitude appears unprecedented for the area.

    “This avalanche cycle is a historically significant event,” said Sarah Carter, education coordinator and forecaster with the Alaska Avalanche Information Center in Valdez.

    She said it’s not uncommon to see avalanches, but the abnormal, above-freezing temperatures over the past 10 days – coupled with the rainfall – have weakened the snow pack.

    • Aqua/MODIS
      22:00 UTC

      Sediment along the southern coast of Alaska

      • Record warmth and precipitation in Alaska
        As of January 26, 13.83″ of precipitation had fallen in Valdez during the month of January. This is more than 8″ above average for this point in the month, and close to the all-time record for January precipitation of 15.18″, set in 2001 (records go back to 1972.) With more rain on the way Monday and Tuesday, this record could easily fall. Numerous locations in Southeast Alaska have beaten their rainiest January day on record marks.

        Wunderground’s weather historian Christopher C. Burt has much more detail on the record Alaska January warmth in his latest post, Record Warmth in Alaska Contrasts Cold Wave in Eastern U.S. A few highlights:

        – Temperatures of up to 40° above normal occurred across the interior and West Coast of Alaska on Sunday. Bolio Lake Range Complex in Fort Greely, Alaska, located about 100 miles southeast of Fairbanks, hit 60°. This is only 2° short of the all-time state January heat record of 62° set at Petersburg in 1981.

        – At 10pm local time Sunday in Homer, Alaska, the temperature was 54°. This was warmer than any location in the contiguous U.S., except for Southern Florida and Southern California. The 55° high in Homer on Sunday broke their all-time monthly record by 4°.

        – All-time January heat records have been set in 2014 in Nome, Denali Park, Palmer, Homer, Alyseka, Seward, and Talkeetna.

        • So we have one hell of a confirmation. Thanks for the reports. Both you and weather underground on the ball as usual!

      • Holy cow! Alaska experiencing major glacial melt in the midst of winter.

    • Fantastic story, Bob. Microcosm of things to come. Ie major rainfall events over large glaciers = very bad glacial outburst floods.

  17. Record Warmth in Alaska Contrasts Cold Wave in Eastern U.S.

    As the eastern half of the U.S. goes into the deep freeze (as outlined in Jeff Masters’ blog today, the flip side is the record warmth that California and Alaska have been experiencing (for two straight weeks now). All-time monthly records for warmth have been set at numerous locations in both states, something that cannot yet be said to have occurred during the cold waves this month in the eastern U.S.

  18. The 30 day anomaly for Longyearbyen, Svalbard is now at +10.1 C. That is truly mindgobbling! Also at the smaller island, Hopen (situated south-east of Svalbard), the anomaly is lingering Close to + 10 C above normal, while the status at Jan Mayen, situated between Island and Svalbard is having “only” +7 C above normal.

    I notice that seaice the last month have crept closer upon Svalbard, but like last Winter, Sea Ice most likely won’t encircle this Archipelago of Islands this Winter either. On the other hand, a long Cold spring is still able to stir Things up!

    Posted by: Christoffer Ladstein


  1. The Neverending Deluge: Pacific Heat + Fixed Jet Stream Parks Anomalous January Cyclone Lingling Over Philippines For Two Weeks | robertscribbler
  2. Polar Vortex Ripped in Half by Anomalous Jet Stream, High Arctic Experiencing 32 Degree F Above Average Temperatures Over Broad Region | robertscribbler
  3. Another Week in the Ecological Crisis, January 26, 2014 – A Few Things Ill Considered
  4. Arctic Heat Wave Sets off Hottest Ever Winter-Time Temperatures, Major Melt, Disasters for Coastal and Interior Alaska | robertscribbler
  5. Global Warming & Alaska’s Winter Heatwave | Garry Rogers Conservation and Science Fiction: #EcoSciFi
  6. Arctic Warmth in Early February Sees 200,000 Square Kilometers of Sea Ice Lost, Greenland Melt as New Study Finds Massive Glacier Triples its Seaward Velocity | robertscribbler
  7. A Tale of Two Ice Caps: New Study Shows Human Warming Takes Out 56% of Antarctic Sea Ice by 2050 | robertscribbler
  8. Record Hot Arctic: NOAA’s 2015 Report Card Shows Signs of Failing Climates | robertscribbler

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: