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Major Arctic Warming Event Predicted For the Coming Week

It’s been consistently, abnormally, warm in the Arctic for about as long as any of us can remember. But during recent years, the changes — caused by a massive and ongoing accumulation of heat-trapping gasses in the Earth’s atmosphere — appear to be speeding up.

(Far above normal temperatures are expected to invade the Arctic this week. The likely result will be an acceleration of sea ice melt and retreat. Image source: Global and Regional Climate Anomalies.)

This week, two major warm air invasions — one issuing from Siberia and another rising up through the Fram Strait and extending north of Greenland are expected to bring locally 10-20 C above normal temperatures and accelerate early season sea ice melt in an already reeling Arctic.

Consistent Warmth, Record Low Sea Ice

The farthest north region of our world has just come out of a winter during which sea ice extents consistently entered never before seen daily low ranges. With the advent of spring, sea ice measures have rebounded somewhat from winter record lows. However, according to Japan’s Polar Research Division, we are presently experiencing the second lowest daily sea ice extents since consistent measurements began. Meanwhile, Greenland during April saw an odd early bump in surface melt.

Overall, the pattern has been one of consistent abnormal warmth. And over the coming week, a number of warm air invasions will infringe upon the typically cold early May Arctic — testing new boundaries yet again.

(An ice-free Bering Sea, open water invading the Chukchi, and fractured sea ice over the Beaufort are notable features for melt season start during May of 2018. Image source: NASA.)

Much of the heating action this year has occurred over the Bering and Chukchi seas — which have never seen so much ice lost. Already sea ice is greatly reduced through these regions. Open water extends far into the Chukchi — onward and north of Barrow, Alaska. Still further into regions in which sea ice is typically rock-solid during this time of year, the Beaufort is experiencing its own late April break-up. But the areas that are expected to see the greatest warming over the coming days run closer to Siberia and the Atlantic.

Major Spring Warm Air Invasion

Today, a wedge of above-freezing air is invading the Laptev Sea north of Central Siberia. Strong southerly winds issuing from Central Asia are running north into the Arctic Ocean. They bring with them 10 to 20 C above average temperatures for this time of year — which is enough to push readings as high as 35 degrees F (2 C) over what during the 20th Century would have been a solid fringe of the polar ice cap.

Over the next 24 hours, this leading edge of warm air will spiral on toward the East Siberian Sea — bringing above freezing temperatures and liquid precipitation with it.

(5-Day forecast maximum temperatures show considerable warm air invasions proceeding throughout the Arctic. In many cases, temperatures near the North Pole will be warmer than regions far to the south. An impact of the warming world ocean on the Arctic environment. Image source: Climate Reanalyzer.)

But the main warming event for the Arctic this week will occur in the region of the Fram Strait east of Greenland. A strong low pressure system near Iceland is expected to drive wave after wave of much warmer than normal air north into the Arctic. This warm air thrust will bring with it temperatures in some places that exceed 20 C above average. Overall, Arctic Ocean basin temperatures are expected to average more than 2.3 C warmer than normal for the entire first week of May. Such high temperature departures are particularly notable for this time of year — as Arctic thermal variance tends to moderate during spring and summer.

The system will push above freezing temperatures deep into the Arctic — generating a repeat of the strange flip-flop that has become so common recently where temperatures near the North Pole are much warmer than readings further south. Warmer than freezing temperatures will also over-ride coastal portions of northeastern Greenland in yet another odd aspect of the event.

Warm storm effects including gale force winds and waves of 8-12 feet will provide added effect to above freezing temperatures in impacting the sea ice throughout the Fram Strait and northeast Greenland region. Increased insolation due to sunlight spreading over the region will also add to the overall potential for melt.

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47 Comments

  1. wili

     /  May 1, 2018

    Two stupid questions: Is this gonna be a WACCy thing with a Warm Arcitic and (Relatively) Cold Continent thing? And …. why is the slowing of the AMOC gonna lead to WARMER summers in Europe. I just gotta know so I can explain it to others…thanks

    Liked by 2 people

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    • Dano

       /  May 1, 2018

      Parts of Europe will see warming because of the way a temperature differential will cause the semipermanent Icelandic low to set up, directing warm air from lower latitudes over the western part of the continent.

      Liked by 2 people

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    • Spike

       /  May 1, 2018

      Stefan at Real Climate explained it – it was new to me too! “ It sounds paradoxical when one thinks of the shock-freeze scenario of the Hollywood film The Day After Tomorrow: a study by Duchez et al. (2016) shows that cold in the North Atlantic correlates with summer heat in Europe. This is due to the fact that the heat transport in the Atlantic has not yet decreased strongly enough to cause cooling also over the adjacent land areas – but the cold of the sea surface is sufficient to influence the air pressure distribution. It does that in such a way that an influx of warm air from the south into Europe is encouraged. In summer 2015, the subpolar Atlantic was colder than ever since records began in the 19th century – associated with a heat wave in Europe. Haarsma et al (2015) argue on the basis of model calculations that the weakening of the AMOC will be the main cause of changes in the summer circulation of the atmosphere over Europe in the future. Jackson et al (2015) found that the slowdown could lead to increased storm activity in Central Europe. And a number of studies suggest that if the AMOC weakens, sea levels on the US coast will rise more sharply (e.g. Yin et al. 2009). The impacts are currently being further researched, but a further AMOC slowdown cannot be considered good news. Yet, although the oscillations seen in Fig. 2 suggest the AMOC may well swing up again for a while, a long-term further weakening is what we have to expect if we let global warming continue for much longer.” The whole article is superb as you would expect from such a gifted science communicator.

      Liked by 4 people

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    • Spike

       /  May 1, 2018

      And actually we in the U.K. have been told on several occasions in recent years that abnormal heat here is down to a “Spanish plume” of hot air from Iberia/N Africa, as though naming something explains it, and completely devoid of any context of the broader picture of climate change of course. Mustn’t frighten the horses.

      Liked by 3 people

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      • Paul

         /  May 1, 2018

        Exactly Spike. It was the same with the recent cold air intrusion to the UK, named the ‘Beast from the East’, with no more context/explanation than ‘Siberian air flow’.

        Liked by 2 people

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    • Spike provides a good explanation and references here. I would refer the question to Ramstorf as well. But as a very basic explanation of my understanding of the science:

      1. General global warming increasing the prevalence of summer heatwaves over nearly all continental regions.
      2. Summer jet stream changes due to the N. Atlantic cool pool and minor to moderate AMOC weakening generate more summer ridge patterns emerging through Central Europe and eastern North America.
      3. Result is a hard flip from winter to summer throughout Europe, and Eastern North America.

      It’s worth noting that on average, the Eastern U.S. and Western Europe have still experienced warmer than normal winters relative to the middle 20th Century during recent years. But compared to the warmest regions, the rate of warming is relatively slower. And compared to the most recent decades, the warm trend for some regions has back-slid. Note the persistence of the cool pool during the period:

      Compared to summmer during the recent trend where the summer anomalies through the region are high compared to rest of world:

      Worth noting that the counter trend relative cooler conditions have been more acute for Europe during February and more acute for Eastern N. America during March for the Eastern U.S.

      Liked by 2 people

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    • I got focused on wili’s second question and lost sight of his first.

      Here’s the forecast 5-day anomaly map. And what we see is that the relative warm pole is over the Central Arctic and near Northern Greenland, with the cool poles being forced south into the CAA, Baffin, NE Canada and Southern Greenland. Ironically, the U.S. East Coast is set for a big warm up (the hard switch from winter to summer — we’re mostly skipping spring).

      Liked by 1 person

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      • wili

         /  May 2, 2018

        Thanks to one and all for your patience and intelligence in addressing my barely coherent questions!

        robert wrote: “… hard flip from winter to summer…” We certainly just had that here in Minnesota, even if we can hardly be considered Eastern US. Two weeks ago we had a full on major blizzard. A week later, basically summer conditions (for these parts, anyway), and now it’s downright hot (again, by MN standards!).

        Liked by 2 people

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  2. Mike S

     /  May 1, 2018

    Robert, although I live in AZ now, I grew up in Baltimore many years ago. I think you live somewhere in Maryland.

    I still occasionally check weather conditions in Baltimore out of curiousity. And very often in recent years, temperatures have been averaging a lot less above normal there than here.

    It’s well known that the Arctic is warming faster than any other place on the planet. But do scientists have any idea why the Soutwest US is warming a lot more than the Northeast? There has to be some reason. If you look at global temperature maps, most of the planet is warming almost as much as the Southwest US- but the Northeast US seems like an outlier, with many periods of unusually cold weather. Maybe the question for scientists should be: Why is the Northeast US (including the mid-Atlantic) warming a lot less than most of the rest of the globe?

    Take a look at these temperature departures for the past 2 months, April data is the first 29 days of the month:

    Arizona
    April 2018 DPTR FM NORMAL: +4.9 at PHX (Phoenix)
    April 2018 DPTR FM NORMAL: +6.0 at PRC (Prescott)
    April 2018 DPTR FM NORMAL: +4.6 at FLG (Flagstaff)
    April 2018 DPTR FM NORMAL: +5.7 at TUS (Tucson)
    April 2018 DPTR FM NORMAL: +3.7 at DUG (Douglas)
    Maryland
    April 2018 DPTR FM NORMAL: -1.5 at BWI (Baltimore)

    Arizona
    March 2018 DPTR FM NORMAL: +1.6 at PHX (Phoenix)
    March 2018 DPTR FM NORMAL: +1.2 at PRC (Prescott)
    March 2018 DPTR FM NORMAL: +0.8 at FLG (Flagstaff)
    March 2018 DPTR FM NORMAL: +2.9 at TUS (Tucson)
    March 2018 DPTR FM NORMAL: +1.8 at DUG (Douglas)
    Maryland
    March 2018 DPTR FM NORMAL: -3.4 at BWI (Baltimore)

    Temperatures in Arizona (and nearby states, I’m sure) have been averaging a lot more than 1.1-1.2 degrees C (about 2 degrees F) above long term normals the past couple years- try at least double that.

    Liked by 1 person

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    • Jet Stream heating vulnerabilities?

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    • Robert McLachlan

       /  May 1, 2018

      May not be enough data to identify very recent changes. Longer term, the NE is warming more, and the SE much less. https://tamino.wordpress.com/2018/02/20/us-warmhole/

      Liked by 2 people

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      • Good point. But there appears to at least be a signal in the recent trends, if a bit muddier. I suppose it’s easier to see when you compare the longer range models with the trends we are seeing now.

        Liked by 1 person

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    • So I’ll refer you to the NASA temperature anomaly maps I’ve posted above. It’s not that it’s been cool, on average, in MD during recent years. It’s still warmer than normal relative to the middle 20th Century. However, the rate of warming has been far greater in western N. America during both summer and winter.

      The primary influence is the Jet Stream with ridge patterns tending to dominate the west, while troughs are more prevalent in the east.

      Will add that quite of lot of energy transfer is heading into the Arctic from the Pacific — which is heavily influencing this western warming trend and associated ridge pattern.

      Also worth noting that the location of Greenland and the associated fresh water lens in the N. Atlantic is the primary driver of winter troughs in the east and the west-east dipole that has tended to set up recently.

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      • Mike S

         /  May 2, 2018

        Thanks Robert. The pattern of the western US being more above normal than the eastern US seems to happen maybe 80 percent of the time. Sometimes, not often, it flips, and its cooler than normal in the Southwest and warmer than normal in Maryland and points north. Like today, May 1, it was 10 degrees or more below normal in AZ, and unusually warm in the East. Baltimore was warmer than Phoenix today.

        I know the Jet Stream gets stuck in place with deep ridges and troughs, thats a side effect of GW. A few years ago, a ridge sat on the West coast for literally months, and was dubbed the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge.

        Just so everyone knows, the normals above are recalculated by the NWS every decade, and they are using the 1981-2010 period as the “normal” period now. In Arizona, and most places I’m sure, those normals are about 2 degrees warmer than the 1951-1980 normals, which are in turn maybe a degree warmer than 1880’s averages. So for all those positive departure from normals in Arizona above, add about 3 more degrees to compare the last 2 months to 1880’s averages.

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  3. “A slowing down of ocean circulation in the North Atlantic therefore means that Europe will tend to cool during winter even as it heats up during summer” https://robertscribbler.com/2018/04/23/why-a-15-percent-slow-down-in-north-atlantic-ocean-circulation-is-seriously-bad-news/

    Liked by 2 people

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    • I should have probably added the caveat — ‘compared to the rest of the world.’ But the statement is, overall, correct given an understanding of the climate trends. The trend tends to intensify as AMOC slows down. At some point, it probably breaks further into summer for certain regions as the fresh water lens effect and cool pool intensify.

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  4. Mike S

     /  May 1, 2018

    With the temperature in D.C. often below normal while most of the world is much warmer than normal, we can have antics like this, from 2015:
    Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) Snowball in the Senate (C-SPAN)

    Liked by 2 people

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    • Only during certain months and at certain times. Will refer to the anomaly maps above again to give broader perspective. Though recent cold snaps for the U.S. East have been intense and likely influenced by the cool pool during winter, what we’ve seen is overall warmer than normal conditions so far relative to the middle 20th Century.

      Will add this further comparison for reference:

      For the decade of 2001 to 2010 during Jan-March, both the Eastern U.S. and Europe were relatively warmer compared to the rest of the world. And even though the warming trend, overall continued for the Eastern U.S. during the 2012-2018 timeframe, it slowed relative to the Globe. In parts of Europe, eastern Canada, and the North Atlantic, the seasonal warming trend has halted or reversed. Add in a few strong cold snaps due to the cool pool influence and that’s where you get this sense of ‘it’s cooler in the East.’ Of course the perception is relative. If it’s much hotter in the west but in the East you get these big swings between hot and cold that we are seeing now, then people tend to think the east is cooling even though that hasn’t happened in the longer term trend yet. It has happened for parts of Europe, the N. Atlantic, and parts of Canada, however.

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  5. Mike S

     /  May 1, 2018

    URL in above post was stripped out- just search for “Snowball in the Senate” in Youtube. This makes the climate change deniers seem like 5-year-olds.

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    • Jean Swan

       /  May 1, 2018

      My fellow Oklahomans still love the “religious” Inhofe.Teachers on strike and the legislature would not tax oil/gas until they really just had to ..and they stopped a tax credit for the huge wind energy project…I hate to think of the thousands of cattle who died this year already from fire,as happened about a year ago…

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    • It looks like it’s there now.

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  6. Matt

     /  May 1, 2018

    Completely OT…
    More bad news for Great Barrier Reef….
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2018-05-01/quiet-reefs-coral-bleaching-fish-stocks/9710348
    Not new to many of us here though…..

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  7. kassy

     /  May 1, 2018

    The Arabian Sea’s “Dead Zone” Is Bigger Than Florida, And It’s Still Growing

    The Gulf of Oman plays host to the largest and thickest “dead zone” in the world, but scientists have struggled to study it intensively due to piracy and geopolitical tensions in the region.

    Now, thanks to an alleviation in regional conflict, scientists have finally been able to use remote-controlled submarines to reveal the full extent of the area’s dead zone.

    The data has revealed that this particular dead zone is about the size of the US state of Florida, and it’s still growing.

    Using two submarines in combination with computer simulations, scientists have revealed that since the 1990s, the gulf’s dead zone has experienced a “dramatic increase” in both size and severity.

    According to the recent data, the dead zone is now made up of entirely anoxic or suboxic conditions, which is when no oxygen or very low oxygen is present, respectively.

    more on:
    https://www.sciencealert.com/the-arabian-sea-s-dead-zone-is-bigger-than-florida-and-it-s-still-growing

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. Suzanne

     /  May 1, 2018

    At the WP… “Unprecedented U.S.- British project launches to study the most dangerous glacier”
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/04/30/unprecedented-u-s-british-project-launches-to-study-the-worlds-most-dangerous-glacier/?utm_term=.ac253100650d

    The largest U.S.-British Antarctic mission in seven decades officially launched at an event in Cambridge on Monday, as the two countries pooled dollars and scientific resources for missions to West Antarctica’s Thwaites glacier — a Florida-size ice body that, scientists fear, could flood the world’s coastlines in our lifetimes.

    “For global sea-level change in the next century, this Thwaites glacier is almost the entire story,” said David Holland, a geoscientist at New York University, who will pair with British Antarctic Survey researcher Keith Nicholls to lead one of the six scientific field missions.

    Thwaites is a key part of the reason that recent computer modeling studies have predicted that the Antarctic could double the previously projected rate of sea-level rise during this century. But it is located in an extremely remote area, and the critical region that will determine how fast the glacier retreats — the “grounding line” where ocean, ice and bedrock meet at 2,600-foot depths — remains little studied.

    Liked by 1 person

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  9. Australia has just had its second warmest April on record “with a monthly mean temperature 2.38 °C above average” That is a pretty significant anomaly. From memory, and someone please correct me if I am wrong, the Australian bureau of meteorology uses as its baseline temperature averages from 1961-1990. Here is the link to the bureau’s national summary for April: http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/month/aus/summary.shtml

    Liked by 2 people

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    • Mike S

       /  May 2, 2018

      Thats incredible for an area that large- aren’t they almost as big as the continental US?

      Interesting they use 1961-1990 as the normal period. As I noted above, the U.S. NWS uses the previous 3 decades for “normals”, so they’re using 1981-2010 now. The problem with that is, it masks global warming some, since the normals keep going up every decade. So, a temperature that is 10 degrees above a very long-term normal, like a century’s worth of data, is shown as only 7 degrees above normal, since the averages for the previous few decades are higher than for a really long term.

      Sometimes I think the US NWS should be required to use 1951-1980 as the normal period, and base departures from normal on that period. Then people would REALLY be aware of how advanced global warming has become.

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  10. xheesie

     /  May 2, 2018

    The head of the Egyptian Meteorological Authority has said it is the only government body authorized to make predictions about the country’s weather, and is preparing a draft law to ban unauthorized forecasts.… a draft law… seeks to punish anyone “talking about meteorology”… without consent (of the Egyptian governmental agencies)… it reflects the government’s view that it has a right to regulate any and all information, even information that should be a product of apolitical scientific analysis. The head of the Egyptian Meteorological Authority has said it is the only government body authorized to make predictions about the country’s weather, and is preparing a draft law to ban unauthorized forecasts.

    The country (Egypt) has experienced some unusual and extreme weather in recent weeks…

    Liked by 1 person

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  11. bobinspain

     /  May 2, 2018
    Reply
    • bobinspain

       /  May 2, 2018

      ‘But Nawabshah is hardly the only sweltering locale. A vast area from Eastern Europe to South Asia is under a massive heat dome that’s been building since last week.’

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  1. Major Arctic Warming Event Predicted For the Coming Week – Michelduchaine
  2. Major Arctic Warming Event Predicted For the Coming Week — robertscribbler « Antinuclear

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