Scientists are floored and we should be too.
The global heat and especially the extremely high temperature
departures we’ve seen in the Arctic over the past month are
flat-out unprecedented. It’s freakish-strange. And what it
looks like, to this particular observer, is that the seasonality of
our world is changing. What we’re witnessing, at this time — it
looks like the beginning of the end for Winter as we know it.
January on Record — But the Arctic is Just Outlandish
record warm world in January shows extreme Arctic heat. NASA’s
global temperature anomaly map above hints that tropical heat —
spiked by a record El Nino — traveled northward and into the Arctic
through weaknesses in the Jet Stream over Western North America and
Western Europe. Image source — NASA
the world was hot as a whole — with El Nino heat dominating the
tropical zones — the furthest above average temperature extremes
concentrated at the very roof of our world. There, in the Arctic
lands of now-thawing glacial ice and permafrost — over Siberia,
over Northern Canada, over Northern Greenland and all throughout the
Arctic Ocean zone above 70 North Latitude — temperatures averaged
between 4 and 13 degrees Celsius above normal. That’s between 7 and
23 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than usual for the extraordinary period
of an entire month.
January through February of 2016, the region of 80 North Latitude and
northward has experienced its warmest conditions ever recorded.
Temperatures have remained in a range of -25 to -15 C for the zone —
a set of temperatures more typical to those of mid to late April.
Image source: NOAA.)
amplitude waves in the Jet Stream — one over Western North America
and a second over Europe — transfer lower-Latitude heat into the
Arctic during an El Nino year on February 7, 2016. As polar
amplification cranked up to new extremes during the record hot months
of December and January, it appeared that El Nino’s ability to
strengthen the Jet Stream and thus separate Equatorial heat from the
colder Pole had been compromised. Image source: Earth
these events are no longer just hypothetical. The sea ice is
retreating. The permafrost is thawing. The glaciers are melting. And
the flow of the Jet Stream appears to be weakening.
what if all that building polar warmth due to human fossil fuel
burning had yet one more added effect? What if that hot stone tossed
into the river of atmospheric circulation that we call El Nino could
somehow transfer its build-up of tropical heat all the way to the
Pole? What if the Jet Stream flow in the Northern Hemisphere had
grown so weak that even a warm-up in the tropics due to a
record-strong El Nino couldn’t significantly (through increasing
Equator to Pole heat differential) speed it up. What if those new
ridge zones stretched all the way into the Arctic — shoving
tropical heat into the far north during El Nino events? During times
when the globe, as a whole was at its hottest? During a period when
heat and moisture at the surface of the Pacific Ocean was exploring a
new peak due to a combination of human-forced warming and El Nino
hitting the top of the natural variability cycle?
if, somehow, that peak in tropical heat could run from the Equator
all the way to the Pole?
we would see then is an acceleration of the dangerous Arctic changes
described above. What we would see is a coupling of the global
warming related polar amplification signal with the top of the
natural variability warm scale that is El Nino. And for the
non-Winter in the Arctic that was the first month and a half of 2016
that’s what it appears we’ve just experienced.
scientists are floored. Well, they should be. We should all be.