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Potential Historic Arctic Warming Scenario in the GFS Model Forecast for Late May

For years, Arctic watchers have been concerned that if May and June ran much warmer than average following an equally severe winter, we could see substantial sea ice losses, severe Arctic fires, and related knock-on global weather effects. This May, temperatures over the Arctic Ocean have run much warmer than average. And in the GFS model forecast, we see a prediction for a historic Arctic temperature spike during late May.

(Discussion of a potentially historic Arctic warming event for late May of 2018. Information for this analysis provided by Climate Reanalyzer, Global and Regional Climate Anomalies, and DMI.)

According to GFS model analysis, temperatures for the entire Arctic region could spike to as high as 3.5 degrees Celsius above average from Saturday, May 26 through Tuesday, May 29th. So much warming, if it does occur, would shatter temperature records around the Arctic and accelerate the summer melt season by 2-4 weeks. It would also elevate Arctic fire potentials while likely increasing upstream severe weather risks to include higher potentials for droughts, heatwaves and severe rainfall events (as we have seen recently across the Eastern U.S.).

The model run indicates three ridge zones feeding much warmer than normal air into the Arctic. The zones hover over Eastern Siberia, Western North America, and Central Europe through the North Atlantic and Barents Sea — pushing wave after wave of warmth into the Arctic Ocean region.

(Three ridges transferring heat into the Arctic are feeding the potential for a major polar temperature spike over the next ten days. Image source: Climate Reanalyzer.)

Over the coming days, this three-pronged flood of warm air could push temperatures over the Arctic Ocean to 2-10 C above average temperatures while Western North America, Eastern Siberia, and the Scandinavian countries could see the mercury climb to 5 to 20 degrees Celsius above average. This translates to 70 to 80 degree (Fahrenheit) temperatures for Eastern Siberia above the Arctic Circle, mid 70s to mid 80s for near Arctic Circle Alaska, and temperatures in the 70s to 80s for Scandinavia. For the Arctic Ocean, it means above freezing temperatures for most zones. Zones that are likely to see more rapid sea ice melt as a result.

Upstream effects include the potential continuation and emergence of fixed severe weather patterns. Extreme heat will tend to intensify for Western North America, while a pattern that favors severe rainfall is likely to remain in place for the Eastern U.S. Meanwhile, South-Central Asia through the Middle East are likely to see very extreme daytime high temperatures. Fire risks will tend to rise from Alberta to the Northwest Territory into Alaska and on through Central and Western Siberia as much warmer than normal temperatures take hold and Arctic lightning storms proliferate.

(Forecast Northern Hemisphere temperature anomaly patterns hint at a hot or unstable late spring pattern for many regions as the pole inters record warm territory. Image source: Climate Reanalyzer.)

It’s worth noting that should such an event occur during late May, it would represent yet another major and historic temperature departure for an Arctic zone that has thus far seen severe winter warming and related loss of sea ice. The concern is that eventually such heating would result in ice free conditions during summer — although when is a subject of some debate.

To this point, it is also worth noting that we should take the present GFS forecast with a bit of a grain of salt. Such amazingly warm temperatures are still 6-10 days away. Forecasts beyond the 3 day are notably fickle. And this particular model has run a bit hot of late. However, it is worth noting that the model has been correct in predicting a much warmer than normal May. And that we have already experienced one historic temperature spike during early May. So a pattern that demonstrates the potential for such extreme warming has clearly taken hold.

 

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34 Comments

  1. Saw this on Earth Nullschool today, never seen before. Large coalesced warm blob in the Atlantic. Hope it is an error, but bears watching. Also giving previous 5 day shot, but that is noticeably less than today’s.
    Today: https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/ocean/primary/waves/overlay=sea_surface_temp_anomaly/orthographic=-50.31,35.98,734/loc=-57.795,42.926
    Five days ago:
    https://earth.nullschool.net/#2018/05/18/0000Z/ocean/primary/waves/overlay=sea_surface_temp_anomaly/orthographic=-45.63,35.39,635/loc=-44.969,34.979

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    • P.S. Svalbard hot blob anomalies (following Leland Palmer) up to 12.3 C.

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      • Leland Palmer

         /  May 21, 2018

        Hi mlp-

        I’m becoming more and more sure that these anomalies, especially in the summer, are not primarily due to the loss of sea ice in the area. As we’ve discussed before, this is the tail end of the Gulf Stream, which has been anomalously warm for several years now.

        The Norwegian government does not seem concerned. But then the Norwegian government is sitting on a trillion dollars of excess oil profits in their sovereign wealth fund – $ 200,000 dollars for each or Norway’s 5 million citizens.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_Pension_Fund_of_Norway#Relationship_to_Sovereignty

        The Norwegian government, while relatively “green” itself, with forward looking policies, is something like the fifth largest oil exporting country on earth. Is is crazy, at this point, to look suspiciously on all cozy oil corporation relationships?

        I’m starting to suspect that Norway is being groomed as a global warming hiding hole, by our financial elite, complete with Doomsday Seed Bank on Svalbard. Writings touting coming Arctic riches on the Council on Foreign Relations website mention the well run Norwegian government approvingly. These writings by Scott Borgerson, a David Rockefeller visiting fellow at the CFR think tank, compare the Arctic Ocean to a new Mediterranean Sea, surrounded by happy prosperous countries, made prosperous by global warming.

        Liked by 1 person

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        • Leland Palmer

           /  May 21, 2018

          Typo alert- “$ 200,000 for each of Norway’s 5 million citizens”.

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        • Thank you, Leland,
          I always appreciate your analyses. That is quite astounding information, mostly new to me. Unfortunately it has a strong ring of logic. Best laid plans of mice and men comes to mind.

          Liked by 1 person

        • The warm pool near Svalbard is both upwelling and sea ice loss related. The Gulf Stream tails off well before Svalbard.

          Liked by 2 people

        • In any case, I haven’t seen much in the way of evidence that Norway is funding/supporting media campaigns to support fossil fuel burning. Quite the opposite. I suppose this could change. But so far, Norway’s actions appear to be rather above board.

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        • Leland Palmer

           /  May 22, 2018

          Well, the North Atlantic Current, a continuation of the Gulf Stream, splits and one branch becomes the Norwegian Current, that flows northward along the coast of Norway, and eventually ends up in splitting and having one branch flow along the west coast of Svalbard, is my understanding.

          Science Daily says the North Atlantic Current becomes chaotic and spends a lot of time being chaotic along the coast of Norway, and so transfers a lot of heat to Norway.

          https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111202091148.htm

          So, my understanding was that a lot of heat in that area was coming from the North Atlantic current. NOAA has a world oceanographic atlas, but I’m still learning how to access that data.

          No, the Norwegian government does not support media campaigns touting fossil fuels, to my knowledge. But Norway does make a lot of money selling a lot of oil, so much so that the Paris negotiators are concerned about the impact of Norway’s oil exports.

          Do you have some references, Robert, about these anomalies being related to upwelling? I’d love to know more about what is going on in this area, and any links would be very much appreciated.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Leland,
          Looking at Norwegian ocean currents again. Here is a map (won’t copy but below is the link) that shows eddy currents in the North Atlantic Drift to the east and west of Svalbard which would roughly correspond to those hot spots. Don’t quite understand why the western one is more extensive, though, since there is a deep trough there, which should allow more dispersion. Unless, of course, as Robert says, it is being blocked by outflowing ice melt.

          https://www.researchgate.net/figure/The-circulation-of-the-Norwegian-Sea-Fig-2-from-Helland-Hansen-Nansen-1909_fig2_265915486.
          Figure 1.2 The circulation of the Norwegian Sea (Fig. 2 from Helland-Hansen & Nansen, 1909).

          Liked by 1 person

    • OK, 26 comments and nobody seems worried about that spotlight in the North Atlantic? It looks like an El Nino. I hope those Argo floats are working.

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      • So there’s a very large hot blob off the U.S. East Coast. In my opinion, this is evidence of Gulf Stream slow-down/back-up. It’s worth writing about. Will see what I can do.

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
  2. Connecticut Gordon

     /  May 20, 2018

    Hi Robert
    I was unsure if you were aware that the 50-day arctic ice forecast model originated a few years ago by Andrew Slater suddenly started up again about a week ago. Even without the warmth you are hinting at the model looks a bit depressing.
    http://cires1.colorado.edu/~aslater/SEAICE/

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    • This model forecasts that we stay in the range of the 2010s. 8.7 million square kilometers by July 10 wouldn’t be too bad, actually. My experience with this model is that it has lagged a bit. Glad to see it up as a reference.

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  3. by this stage of the last 4 seasons gfs was forecasting very warm Arctic in the 2nd week of forecast . it has always failed to materialize . Already we should be above freezing generally in the Arctic if the forecast of a week ago was correct .

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    • GFS has tended to run warm for this time of year during the past 4 years. Though I haven’t seen a mostly above freezing model run for May 21.

      It’s also worth noting that GFS nailed the major temperature spike we experienced in early May. Worth noting that May so far is +1.4 C for the Arctic Ocean as a whole. Today we are at +0.9 C. Also worth noting that the forecast for Saturday has backed off to +2.2 to +2.5 C. I added the caveats for just this reason.

      In any case, May appears to be tracking for a much warmer than normal month for the Arctic for this time of year.

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      Reply
  4. Jai Mitchell

     /  May 20, 2018

    What are the precipitation projections for this event? Will the sea ice get 4-6 inches of new snow across the region in late May?

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  5. This is a very good site for understanding the devastation of sand mining for fracking operations. The sand in this and the other states silica is being mined from are being torn up on scale of mountaintop removal coal mining, if not worse in some cases!!
    LOOK DOWN PICTURES : (Aerial views of Frac Sand mines and plants)
    Frac Sand Mines and Plants are destroying hills, forests, farms and prairie. These companies say that they will reclaim the land (the word “restore” has been used by promoters) when they are through shipping…
    lookdownpictures.com

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  6. Abel Adamski

     /  May 21, 2018

    RS WARNING LABEL — THIS ARTICLE HAS A FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY BIAS AND CONTAINS INACCURACIES/SLANTED MESSAGING

    The problems with Solar Power part 999 subsection 14a.
    https://thewest.com.au/news/wa/rooftop-solar-poses-blackout-threat-to-was-main-power-grid-ng-b88841322z
    Rooftop solar poses blackout threat to WA’s main power grid
    Extraordinary powers designed for emergencies such major power plant failures or bushfires are being triggered to protect WA’s main grid from soaring output generated by rooftop solar panels.
    In comments to a Parliamentary inquiry, the body that runs the south-west electricity system has warned the market can no longer cope with the solar power being pumped out during certain conditions.
    Experts have warned a looming crunch may lead to increased risks of blackouts and higher power costs for consumers.
    There is now almost 1000MW of solar powered generation across the south west interconnected system — the biggest single source on the grid — with about 200,000 installations on households.
    At issue is the uncontrollable way rooftop solar power floods on to the system, which is making it increasingly difficult for the market operator to maintain the high-wire act of keeping the grid “balanced”.
    The Australian Energy Market Operator said the output from solar was so significant at times — particularly on mild, sunny days when demand for electricity was low — it was driving demand to negligible levels.
    As a consequence, AEMO said it was having to occasionally invoke “high risk state” operating procedures to force base-load coal- and gas-fired generators to switch off to prevent the grid from becoming dangerously overloaded.

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    • wili

       /  May 21, 2018

      “…orce base-load coal- and gas-fired generators to switch off…” …and…this is a bad thing??

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      • Brian

         /  May 21, 2018

        It might depending on the restarting sequences. Depending on cycle times, etc, idling might be better than stop-restart cycling (by what metrics, I don’t know, I’m just saying this could be a possibility).

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
      • Abel Adamski

         /  May 21, 2018

        It is a matter of keeping the Grid Frequency and Voltage within parameters for stability.
        To restart a coal station takes some time, Gas less but still appreciable time to fire up and stabilise voltage and frequency. Otherwise keep them idling. still pumping out CO2 , but a lesser ammount with no load, which has it’s own problems
        What they recognise is needed is storage (i.e SA’s Tesla times several) or lots of domestic batteries, which are not cheap for most homes

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        • And if this was the lead, then perhaps we could have had a valid discussion. The article instead flogs solar as the ‘bad boy’ and wrongly portrays coal and gas as the ‘victim.’

          ‘Forced to shut down.’ If it’s coal and gas, then that’s a good thing.

          We have long known that renewable grids require more planning. And a relatively small proportion of battery capacity would be more than enough to balance the Australian grid.

          Like

      • May want read this:

        http://theconversation.com/solar-pv-and-wind-are-on-track-to-replace-all-coal-oil-and-gas-within-two-decades-94033

        “PV and wind are often described as “intermittent” energy sources. But stabilising the grid is relatively straightforward, with the help of storage and high-voltage interconnectors to smooth out local weather effects.

        By far the leading storage technologies are pumped hydro and batteries, with a combined market share of 97%.

        The cost of PV and wind power has been declining rapidly for many decades and is now in the range A$55-70 per megawatt-hour in Australia. This is cheaper than electricity from new-build coal and gas units. There are many reports of PV electricity being produced from very large-scale plants for A$30-50 per MWh.”

        The article Abel posted above is the equivalent to coal and gas operators screaming, pulling hair, and gnashing teeth. But it has little basis in actual facts.

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
    • This is misinformation and has been broadly debunked in a number of sources. Shutting down coal and gas plants is not a crisis except for fossil fuel operators with sunk investments. In other words, they planned poorly and ignored renewable energy based trends. A more nimble grid can easily balance these loads. The recent Tesla battery plant, despite accounting for just 3 percent of grid capacity in the region, was more than adequate to manage a high renewable penetration.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  7. Suzanne

     /  May 21, 2018

    I know I am preaching to the choir here, but it must be said…we must all get out from behind our keyboards and join a group to help “get out the vote”. We must Flip the Congress in November so we can at least try to “slow down” the Trumpster fire, especially at the EPA.

    Here is a short article at Axios that shines a light on what big oil is doing with Pruitt in charge:

    “Some of America’s biggest energy companies are lobbying Washington to change — critics say weaken — oversight of a federal tax credit going to facilities capturing carbon emissions.

    Why it matters: The scramble shows the challenge of tackling climate change piecemeal through the nation’s tax laws in the absence of overarching policy.”

    https://www.axios.com/big-oil-quietly-pushes-change-to-new-carbon-law-4239bfdb-b771-40bc-a200-c6c7899521a2.html

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Absolutely.

      We are seeing the Cambridge Analytica style campaigns start to re-emerge on the web now that we are approaching election season. For democrats, it’s very important not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Voting for candidates that are capable of winning is far preferable to having republicans remain in power.

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  8. John S

     /  May 21, 2018

    Suzanne nice to see you. I live on the other side of the world but I am so grateful for the work that you are doing.
    The spectre of thinking American citizens losing control of their democracy sends chills through the rest of us.Some might argue that has always been the case but this is a whole new level where boneheads are sacking our future as well as looting the present.
    Good luck.

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
  1. My ex wife this morning on her way to church, said to me.  She hates men as much as I hate women.  She lives in the back apartment overlooking the cement pond and I made the mistake of telling her one man told me he has a girl friend that cooks for him.
  2. Potential Historic Arctic Warming Scenario in the GFS Model Forecast for Late May — robertscribbler « Antinuclear
  3. May Arctic Warming Event Follow-up — Not So Bad as Predicted, But Worries Remain for Early June | robertscribbler

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