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For The Arctic Ocean Above 80 North, It’s Still Summer in November

It’s going to be the hottest year on record — by a long shot. Just ask Gavin Schmidt at a NASA that the climate change denying Trump Administration has now imperiled. But in one region — the Arctic — the rate of heat accumulation has been outrageously extreme. And it is there that this new record warmth could inflict some of the worst damage to an increasingly fragile Earth System.

Summer Heat During Fall Above 80 North

For in the Arctic Ocean above the 80 degree north latitude line which encircles the crest of our world, temperatures today are around 17 degrees Celsius above average. These are the warmest temperatures for this region ever recorded. And they include numerous locations in which temperatures spike to well above 20 C (36 F) warmer than average.

meant_2016

(Temperatures above the 80 degree north latitude line during mid November are about equal to what you would typically expect for late summer. This record warmth in the Arctic is notably severe and could produce serious near term climate and weather impacts. Image source: DMI.)

Taken in total, this region — one that includes the North Pole — is currently experiencing temperatures that it would typically see from September 15 through 21. In other words, it’s about as warm now, on November 14th, in the zone surrounding the North Pole as it typically is during the last week of summer.

It wouldn’t be quite so bad if temperatures had simply rocketed to new highs on this particular day as part of a wild temperature swing. Unfortunately, readings instead have remained consistently high throughout autumn. They have levitated off the baseline 1958-2002 average range for the better part of 80 days. And as temperatures maintained near late summer or early fall averages, the departure from normal (represented by the green line in the graph above) has continued to intensify throughout November. Such long-term maintenance of high temperatures risks producing some severe lasting impacts on both the Arctic and the global environment.

The North Pole’s Big Red Hole

The temperature range we see now is nothing less than astonishing and, to this particular observer, terrifying. A huge hole has been blown in the heart of what should be the building cold of winter. And if it doesn’t reform soon, it will have some serious knock-on climate effects to include worsening atmospheric circulation changes, related increasingly extreme weather, impacts to growing seasons, impacts to sea ice, impacts to Greenland ice, and impacts to life in the Arctic and beyond.

sections-of-arctic-ocean-warm-enough-to-melt-in-late-fall

(Today, large swaths of the Arctic Ocean are expected to see temperatures hit 20 C [36 F] + warmer than normal. These temperatures are so high that recently ice-covered sections will, over the next five days, experience temperatures between -2 C and 0 C — or warm enough to produce temporary melt. Such a condition has never been witnessed to the extent that it is now so late in the year. A clear sign that global warming is starting to bite deeper than we had hoped. Image source: Climate Reanalyzer. Note — the map shows temperature departures above [red shift] and below [blue shift] the, already warmer than normal, 1979-2000 baseline average.)

This record fall warmth appears to be part of an ever-more-pervasive ‘death of winter’ type scenario related to human-caused global warming. And unless temperatures in the Arctic revert back toward base-line pretty soon, we are at increasing risk of hitting some state-change tipping points. In particular, these center around a nearer term loss of Arctic Ocean ice than expected. An event that could happen this year if we experience an anomalously warm winter followed by a similarly warm summer — but one that many experts expect to hold off until the 2030s. An alteration that, longer term, under the continued fossil fuel burning presently promoted by the Trump Administration, basically removes winter as a season pretty much altogether (at least as we know it).

I sincerely hope that we see a return to baseline temperature conditions in the Arctic soon. But as the days roll by, this seems less and less likely. Warm winds keep flowing in both from the Barents and the Bering. And the centers of coldest Northern Hemisphere regions are well displaced toward Siberia and Greenland. If this situation continues, implications for summer sea ice during 2017 could be pretty rough (more on this in the follow-on post). And it’s at the point where we hit ice-free summer states in the Arctic Ocean that some very radical regional, hemispheric, and global changes (which produce even worse effects than some of the bad outcomes we’ve already seen) will be well underway.

Links:

Climate of Gavin

Cires1 80 North Temperature Anomaly

DMI

Jennifer Francis on Jet Stream Changes due to Sea Ice Loss

Climate Reanalyzer

The Trump Administration’s Anti-Climate, Pro-Fossil Fuels Agenda

From the Bering to Maine Hot Oceans are Killing the Puffin

(UPDATED)

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Warm Arctic Storms Aim to Unfreeze the North Pole Again — That’s 55 Degrees (F) Above Normal For January

It’s worth re-stating. The Starks were wrong. Winter isn’t coming. Winter, as we know it, is dying. Dying one tenth of a degree of global oceanic and atmospheric warming at a time. Steadily dying with each ton of heat-trapping greenhouse gasses emitted through our vastly irresponsible and terrifyingly massive burning of fossil fuels.

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According to UCAR reanalysis, it’s something that’s only happened three times during December in the entire temperature record for the North Pole since the late 1940s. Four times now that a record warm surge of air hit that highest point of Northern Hemisphere Latitude during late December of 2015. An event that was influenced by the very destructive Winter Storm Frank. A combination of weather variables that, by themselves, was odd and rare enough. But what may be about to happen next week is even more rare. Because we’ve never, not once, seen this kind of heat set up at the North Pole during January.

UCAR North Pole

(UCAR’s North Pole temperature data record since 1948 per Bob Henson shows no above freezing days at the North Pole during January through late April. But it could happen next week.)

Disturbingly, what we’re seeing now starting to take shape is another warm air invasion of the Arctic with the potential to bring above-freezing temperatures to the North Pole during the long polar night. An odd and highly abnormal event that may again take place this Winter in just a few more days. If it does happen it will be yet another case of a never-before-seen warming event occurring in a record hot world.

North Pole May Unfreeze A Second Time This Winter

According to Global Forecast Systems model reanalysis by Earth Nullschool, it appears that a record warm Earth atmosphere and ocean system is again taking aim at the High Arctic. Another synoptic daisy chain of storms funneling warm, south-to-north winds — dredging them up from the tropics, flinging them across thousands of miles of North Atlantic Ocean waters, driving them up over Svalbard and toward the North Pole — is predicted to set up by early morning Monday.

image

(Temperatures are predicted to warm into a new record range for the North Pole by late Tuesday. Readings that strike very close to freezing at the North Pole now appear in the most recent Global Forecast System model summary by Earth Nullschool. If temperatures in this region do hit above freezing, it will be an unprecedented event. Image source: Earth Nullschool. )

The anchor of these dervishes of Equator-to-Pole heat transfer is the very Winter Storm Jonas that just crippled the Eastern US with record snowfall amounts and storm surges that have beaten some of the highest seas seen during Superstorm Sandy. A second, hurricane force low in the range of 950 mb is predicted to set up between Iceland and Greenland. But the tip of this spear of record atmospheric heat pointed directly at the Arctic is a third, but somewhat milder 990 mb, storm.

And it is this northern low that will draw a leading edge of record warmth into the Arctic. An anomalous, ocean-originating heat front that will spread its pall of air warm enough to melt sea ice during Winter north of Svalbard tomorrow. A swath of near and above-freezing temperatures spreading inexorably Pole-ward. Reinforced by the supporting lows and the synoptic wave of warmth in train, this storm is predicted to drive near or slightly above freezing temperatures into the region of 90 North Latitude by late Tuesday or early Wednesday. An event that would be unprecedented, at least in modern meteorological reckoning. One that may well be unprecedented for the whole of the Holocene.

Conditions in Context — Another Summer-Type Heatwave For The Arctic During the Long Dark of Winter

Another Wave of Extreme Arctic Heat

(Another wave of extreme, above average temperatures for the Arctic is on the way. Image source: Climate Reanlyzer.)

To put such extraordinary temperatures into context, this predicted record polar warmth is in the range of 55 degrees (F) above normal for January. And for such a typically frigid region, these temperatures are more usual for June, July, or August. Or, to make another comparison, for Gaithersburg, Maryland it would be like seeing readings above 94 degrees (F) for the same Winter day. A summer heatwave in the midst of what should be a season of cold. That’s what’s predicted for a region that will not see a single ray of sunlight until April.

Heat trapping gasses with the ability to re-radiate the sun’s energy in the dark of night or in the depths of Winter are now having a profound impact on our world. It’s something that should really be keeping us up at night. At the very least, it’s something that on Tuesday may push the North Pole up above freezing on a, black as night, January day.

Links:

Warm Arctic Storm to Push Temps Above Freezing at North Pole During Winter

The Storm that Will Unfreeze the North Pole

Climate Reanlyzer

Earth Nullschool

Bob Henson

UCAR Climate Reanalysis

Hat Tip to Greg

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