Warm, Southerly Winds Gust to Hurricane Force Over Greenland in Staggering Early Season Heatwave — Temperatures Now Hitting up to 41 Degrees (F) Above Average at Summit

The wavy, crazy Jet Stream.

Over the past few years, it’s become more and more clear that a human-forced heating of the Arctic has basically driven the Jet Stream mad. Big loops, omega blocks, and huge ridges and troughs have all become a feature of the new climate we’re experiencing. Related to these features have been a number of superstorms, severe droughts, ocean hot and cold pools, and extreme rainfall events.

Trough US East Coast Ridge Greenland

(The Jet Stream once again mangled. A strong trough shoved cool air over the US East Coast this weekend as a facing ridge prepared to hurl a bulge of extreme warmth up and over Greenland on Monday. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

As we have  seen with Sandy, the Pacific Hot Blob, the UK floods, The California Drought, the record Alaska and Canadian Wildfire Seasons of 2015, the Russian Heatwave and Fires of 2011, the Pakistan Floods of 2011, and so, so many more extreme weather events, these new climate features present a risk of generating extraordinary or never before seen weather. Intense storms, extreme winds, and extreme cold flashes and heatwaves can all be generated as the result of such mangled weather patterns. And for much of the North Atlantic this past weekend, such abnormal conditions dominated. The US East Coast experienced a freak cold flash, the UK was pummeled by yet one more unseasonable gale, but perhaps worst of all — a head of extraordinarily warm air roared northward, riding upon gale to hurricane force winds, setting sights on Greenland.

Cool Flash for Eastern US, Extreme Heat for Greenland

This past weekend, the US weather news was all awash with comments on Winter-like conditions in April for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic US as a deep trough tore down from the Canadian Archipelago and Hudson Bay. The trough brought with it snow flurries, freeze warnings, and rather cold conditions for April to this region of the US. Temperatures ranged from 10-20 degrees (F) below average for this area. But compared to what was setting up to happen in the ridge zone over the Atlantic, the East Coast cool spell was quite mild considering the relative extreme heat readying for a Greenland invasion.

The warm wind pulse began in the North Atlantic in a tropical region near 26 North, 55 West. This warm air flooded in train over thousands of miles of open ocean. Running northward, it roared along the back of a high pressure system centered over the Mid Atlantic Ridge and in front of two strong lows — one centered near Newfoundland and a second over southwestern Baffin Bay.

In places, the pressure gradient between the lows and highs was so tightly packed that the northward flowing airs hit hurricane force. Off the southwest tip of Greenland, winds consistently achieved hurricane force gusts. And these winds flowed on northward, bringing with them a surge of above freezing temperatures to much of Baffin Bay and a large section of Western Greenland.

By 10:00 UTC, Monday, April 11th — Thule, on the Northwest Coast of Greenland near the Nares Strait was experiencing sustained southerly winds along the northern edge of this warm air pulse at 45 mph with gusts hitting a hurricane force 75 mph. Temperatures for Thule by that time had hit 34 degrees (F) or about 32 degrees (F ) above average.

Extreme Greenland Heatwave

(Extreme Arctic heat strikes Greenland on April 11, 2016. There readings for a large area hit a range 36 degrees Fahrenheit or more above average for a large region over Baffin Bay and Greenland. This extreme pulse of unseasonable warm air contributed to overall temperature departures of +4.75 C (8.55 F) above average for the Arctic. A very high departure for this region of the world at this time of year and an extension to a period of record Arctic warmth in 2016. Image source: Climate Reanalyzer.)

Further south, Nuuk was experiencing 45 F readings (or about 20 F above average) coordinate with heavy rain and strong southerly winds. Yet further south, in Kangerlussuaq near the southwest coast of Greenland, temperatures spiked to 61 F — or 36 F above the average April 11 reading of 25 F.

Perhaps more remarkable and disturbing were the predicted extreme readings at Summit Greenland — expected to hit 21 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday or about 41 degrees (F) above a typical daily high of -20 (F) for this time of year. It’s worth noting that in July average high temperatures for Summit Greenland usually range near 12 degrees (F). So current expected highs for April 11, 2016 are nearly 10 degrees warmer than a normal July day. By comparison, if such an extreme high temperature departure were to have occurred in my hometown of Gaithersburg, MD on the same date (April 11th), readings would have exceeded a remarkable 106 Degrees Fahrenheit.

Year of Record Arctic Warmth Continues

The recent warm, wet wind outbreak over Greenland is but one more odd event in a year of extreme warmth for the Arctic. Warm wind invasions over the North Atlantic, Barents, Baffin Bay, Greenland Sea, Western Europe, Alaska, Western Canada, the Barents, and sections of Central Asia have been a persistent feature throughout both Winter and Spring. Meanwhile, consistent temperature spikes to near freezing or above freezing over the Arctic Ocean and related waters have contributed to Arctic sea ice hitting new seasonal lows.

Freezing Degree Days NOAA

(Arctic heat has been literally off-the charts for the region above 80 degrees North during 2016. This area has now experienced nearly 1,000 fewer freezing degree days than during a typical year of the already warmer than normal 1980-2010 period. Extreme Arctic warmth of this kind has negative impacts both to the health of Arctic sea ice and to that of the various glacier systems in Greenland, Svalbard and Northern Canada. Image source: NOAA/CFSv2/CFSR.)

Overall, the Arctic has experienced unprecedented warmth for 2016. In reference to this fact, NOAA measures recording freezing degree days indicate that both the Arctic and the High Arctic above 80 degrees North Latitude are experiencing their warmest year ever recorded. These new extreme high temperatures are achieving an extraordinary departure above previous temperature measures and are a feature of the highest anomalies occurring over any portion of a record warm world. In other words, if you were to look for the region of the world that’s being hit hardest by a human-forced warming spurred on by rampant fossil fuel burning, the Arctic would light up like a fireworks display on the 4th of July.

Tropical heat, in the form of a record El Nino generated warmth, has tended to transfer pole-ward in the Northern Hemisphere during 2016 due to various weaknesses in the Jet Stream. A primary region for this transfer has occurred over the North Atlantic and Europe with secondary transfer zones over the Eastern Pacific, Western North America, and over a shifting zone throughout Northern Asia.

An extraordinary polar amplification of this kind — one that includes Equator-to-Pole heat transfers — risks hitting or increasing the intensity of a number of harmful climate tipping points. These include the amplifying feedbacks of increasing rates of sea ice melt and Arctic carbon store response. In addition, extreme warmth over Greenland risks further glacial destabilization, increasing rates of sea level rise, and increasing weather instability in the North Atlantic.

Links:

Earth Nullschool

Climate Reanalyzer

Thule Air Base Weather Statistics

Thule Air Base Current Weather Conditions

Nuuk Greenland Weather

Nuuk Climatology

Kangerlussuaq Average Temperatures

Kangerlussuaq Weather

Summit Greenland Weather

Summit Greenland Climatology

NOAA/CFSv2/CFSR

Hat Tip to Kevin Jones

Scientific Hat Tip to Dr. James Hansen

Scientific Hat Tip to Dr. Jennifer Francis

Scientific Hat Tip to Dr. Jeff Masters

 

 

 

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45 Comments

  1. Loni

     /  April 11, 2016

    Good to have you back, Robert, I’m sure you enjoyed a well deserved break.

    But I see the world has not been behaving in your absence. My God, it must feel like a blast furnace in Greenland right now, those temps are stunning.

    Reply
    • For many of these locations, near or above freezing temperatures may as well be a blast furnace. When you consider that Summit Greenland averages significantly below freezing year round, a 21 F reading in April is extraordinary.

      Reply
  2. Any explanation for the increased sea ice readings from the past couple days? Glitch in the machine?

    Reply
  3. Kevin Jones

     /  April 11, 2016

    Super excellent report, Robert. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Thx, Kevin. It’s good to be back. The world appears to continue dragging its feet on climate response. Primarily due to monied/FF interest influence. We’re hitting climate chop now. Summer of 2016 looking rough.

      Reply
  4. Griffin

     /  April 11, 2016

    Outstanding post Robert. It’s good to see you out in front of this incredible story.
    On a related note, have you noticed that th Keeling Curve has reported above 409 for several days? I seem to recall that we were expecting 407 in May…

    Reply
    • Kevin Jones

       /  April 11, 2016

      Ha! I was gonna correct you, Griffin, when I realized I couldn’t! Scripps is showing last three days averages above 409 ppm CO2. This is ~+3ppm above their ‘expected’ (blue shading) value for dates….. dammit.

      Reply
    • These are very strong high daily readings. Expected weekly and monthly averages for April and May were in the range of 407-408 ppm which is 3 to 4 ppm higher than 2015 peaks. We could go higher hitting 408 or at worst 409 considering the blow to the ocean carbon sink this year.

      Given the currently intense daily peaks we may see jumps to 411 or higher. The revised 407-409 range for weekly and monthly values is probably appropriate for April and May at this time.

      Here’s the most recent CO2 article — https://robertscribbler.com/2016/02/05/co2-rockets-to-405-6-ppm-a-level-not-seen-in-15-million-years/

      Reply
      • Kevin Jones

         /  April 11, 2016

        A time to pace
        A time to brace…

        Reply
      • Kevin Jones

         /  April 11, 2016

        When Keeling began with his new manometer taking readings in the mountains of California in 1955 he kept getting 315 ppm……just 61 years ago.

        Reply
      • Griffin

         /  April 11, 2016

        Well, I wish you could have corrected those readings as well Kevin. That would have made me feel better!
        Imagine if you could have stood next to Dr. Keeling in those mountains and told him that we would be close to 100ppm higher in just those 61 years. It seems unimaginable.

        Reply
  5. Looks like we past some sort of threshold here. After the 1998 El Nino, the Arctic didn’t suffer at the same rate. However further El Nino’s did harm the Arctic in a bigger way. Seems like El Nino’s nowadays can transfer heat more easily into the the Arctic than ever before. If things line up, this year could be a very nasty one.

    Reply
  6. Andy in SD

     /  April 11, 2016

    It looks like you can see some melt in the satellite shot along the vertical center line here.

    http://www.arctic.io/explorer/8/2016-04-10/9-N63.12549-W50.18143

    Then if you zoom out, you can see the clouds painting the trail of that heat laden freight train roaring up the west side.

    Reply
    • Looks like we’re seeing June melt for at least a few days in April. Given the pattern and the heat, I’d say that a 2012 challenge is in the works. Early days yet, but the trend from the winter appears to have settled in.

      Elsewhere, it’s still below freezing in the Beaufort, but that breakage doesn’t bode well for this time of year.

      Reply
  7. climatehawk1

     /  April 11, 2016

    Retweeted.

    Reply
    • Amen. I also saw recently that a coalition that includes 19,000 communities is fighting to push the Clean Power Plan through the Supreme Court. That and it looks like Colorado is considering a fracking ban.

      Reply
  8. Reblogged this on GarryRogers Nature Conservation and commented:
    And now . . . more juice for the N. Atlantic cool pool. Thanks Robert for the information. And thanks to all the commenting climatologists for your insights and additions. Required reading.

    Reply
  9. Colorado Bob

     /  April 11, 2016

    Bhubaneswar, India

    That 114.44 F number yesterday had a RH of 90%. They’ve closed the schools until April 20th. The body count in India the last week is at 128.
    The farming Greenland crowd needs to read up on “wet bulb temperatures”. Because it seems to be killing farmers in India, at rather good clip.

    Reply
  10. James Cole

     /  April 11, 2016

    This post goes well with the Hansen post before it. This heat wave over Greenland is just the fuel to feed cold fresh water into the cool pool and make a greater contrast to the warm waters adjacent.
    Years ago the idea of Greenland melting and resulting in a giant storm machine seemed far fetched to me, but now it is all as clear as can be. Hansen has had great vision, and is being proven right.
    The sinking waters that power the ocean currents will surely slow some more with this latest insult.

    Reply
    • Cate

       /  April 12, 2016

      According to Environment Canada’s ice reports for the east coast, the waters just NE of Newfoundland are already crawling with icebergs—these bergs are in addition to the normal drift ice that comes down on the Labrador Current in spring in these parts. All those icebergs, though, whew—and so early! All headed straight for meltdown in the cool pool.

      Reply
    • There’s a lot of observational evidence to support a broad brush set of links to Hansen’s findings. What we see in the natural world has developed a decent degree of synergy with that line of science.

      Reply
  11. – GOES – I think the top right of frame shows a very long cloud train stretching from low latitudes going up to Greenland. Even Google Maps shows it.

    Reply
  12. Colorado Bob

     /  April 11, 2016

    Speaking of other heat waves Fairbanks, AK , the beat goes on.55.6 °F

    Reply
  13. Ryan in New England

     /  April 11, 2016

    Great post, Robert! And it’s great to have you back🙂 This heat in Greenland is just plain nuts. Every record event seems to be more unbelievable than the last, and more troubling. The worst part of these profound change is that most people are blissfully unaware, and worse, many who are aware are unconcerned. Personally, this is the kind of thing that keeps me up worrying at night.

    Reply
    • 🙂 Thanks Ryan.

      It seems to me that the mainstream media only reports the bare minimum necessary to remain relevant to the situation. The weather reports this weekend were what I would label as irresponsible. I mean, any meteorologist with a pair of eyes could have seen the heat train building north toward Greenland. And it absolutely has relevance to east coast cities that want to stay above water.

      Reply
  14. Ryan in New England

     /  April 11, 2016

    This just breaks my heart and wounds my soul. Florida is destroying North America’s only tract of coral reef in order to dredge the channel to allow for the new super-tankers that will soon be passing through the enlarged Panama canal. It’s almost like we’re intentionally trying to kill the biosphere. I don’t think we could be more effective if we made it our goal.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/02/150226-miami-biscayne-bay-florida-coral-dredging-channels-environment/

    Reply
  15. Syd Bridges

     /  April 12, 2016

    I wonder how much Greenland ice will melt this year. It could easily surpass the 570 Gtons of 2012. It certainly looks as though the Greenland Cold Pool will be re-enforced this year. This promises many more storms for the British Isles, Snowmaggedons, and eastern seaboard sea level rise in the pipeline.

    With our heads still spinning from the greatest party in history-and the majority still buried firmly in the sand-surely that can’t be an irate Mother Nature striding determinedly towards us to present the bill?

    Reply
  16. June

     /  April 12, 2016

    Great post, as usual putting things in context. It is disconcerting, to say the least, to see the accelerating speed and amplitude of the changes.

    Here’s another study showing that assumptions that plants will adapt quickly to climate change might be faulty.

    “Selection pressures push plants over adaption cliff”

    Summary:
    “New simulations of plant evolution over the last 3000 years have revealed an unexpected limit to how far useful crops can be pushed to adapt before they suffer population collapse. The result has significant implications for how growers, breeders and scientists help agriculture and horticulture respond to quickening climate change.”

    “In terms of our future the limits to sudden evolutionary change may restrict our ability to breed traits into crops to keep pace with rapid climate change. Faced with such challenges we may have to be more open to changing the range of things we choose to grow if our climate changes rather than pushing what we currently grow beyond its limits.”

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160411082740.htm

    Reply
  17. sidd

     /  April 12, 2016

    and here is the melt spike

    Reply
  18. The implications of a strengthening North Atlantic cool pool are massive. But what I’m trying to better understand are the implications of a concurrently strengthening North Pacific cool pool. As El Nino fades and as the ridge either does or doesn’t aggressively rebuild, does the same dipole situation set up in the North Pacific and, if so, where do the staggering storms spin to? Modeling all of that in my head is beyond my capacity.

    Reply
    • The hot blob NE PAC persists in the form of an arc of 1-3 C above average SSTs stretching from Hawaii to the West Coast of North America to Alaska. So the blob still looks like it’s holding on. There’s some cooler water in the Central North Pacific but this is a feature of the trough/ridge pattern there.

      Reply

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