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The Washington Post & The “Super Hot” Arctic

By Paul Homewood | Not A Lot Of People Know That | November 20, 2016

meanT_2016

Daily mean temperature and climate north of the 80th northern parallel, as a function of the day of year.

http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php

There has been much excitement about much of the Arctic being warmer than usual at the moment.

The Washington Post describes it as “insane”. (The 36 degrees is Fahrenheit, by the way).

image

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/11/17/the-north-pole-is-an-insane-36-degrees-warmer-than-normal-as-winter-descends/?utm_term=.5ff31de316a8

Chris Mooney is well known for biased and misleading reporting where climate change is concerned, but it is always sad to see otherwise respectable meteorologists such as Jason Samenow, one of the Capital Weather Gang, roped in as well, something that has become more frequent in recent years.

The simple reality, as Samenow should know, is that such departures above “normal” are not unusual during the colder months in the Arctic.

DMI have records back to 1954 for Arctic temperatures, and a quick trawl uncovers several similar instances, for instance 1972, 1974 and 1976:

meanT_1972

meanT_1974

meanT_1976

http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php

 

The only difference was that these occurrences took place in January/February, rather than November. We should bear in mind that the 1970s were a time of expanding Arctic ice.

The Washington Post article actually explains what has been going on:

The Arctic is super-hot, even as a vast area of cold polar air has been displaced over Siberia…..

It’s about 20C [36 degrees Fahrenheit] warmer than normal over most of the Arctic Ocean, along with cold anomalies of about the same magnitude over north-central Asia,” Jennifer Francis, an Arctic specialist at Rutgers University, said by email Wednesday.

“The Arctic warmth is the result of a combination of record-low sea-ice extent for this time of year, probably very thin ice, and plenty of warm/moist air from lower latitudes being driven northward by a very wavy jet stream.”

 

imrs.php

 

 

The key is the comment about warm/moist air. Because of latent heat, when that moist air turns back to water, heat is given off, thus warming the atmosphere disproportionately.

Jennifer Francis has long claimed that the “wavy jetstream” is caused by melting Arctic ice. Yet HH Lamb found the same phenomenon in the 1960s and 70s, and believed it was caused by a colder Arctic!

Indeed, if we check out the GISS global temperature maps for the three years I have highlighted above, 1972, 1974 and 1976, we find very similar weather patterns, with very cold polar air displaced over Siberia and North America, along with warm air invading the Arctic.

 

amaps

1974amaps

am1976aps

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/maps/

The truth is that there is nothing unusual or unprecedented going on here. It is simply weather.

November 20, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

ExxonMobil, Rosneft start joint Arctic drilling exempt from sanctions

RT | August 9, 2014

US oil giant ExxonMobil and Russia’s Rosneft will continue joint exploitation of the Russian Arctic despite Western sanctions, the American company said as the two giants launched exploration drilling in the Kara Sea.

“Our cooperation is a long-term one. We see great benefits here and are ready to continue working here with your agreement,” Glenn Waller, ExxonMobil’s lead manager in Russia, told President Vladimir Putin during a videoconference call.

The Russian leader hailed the exploration project as an example of mutually beneficial cooperation that strengthens global energy security.

Rosneft head Igor Sechin said the launch of the Universitetskaya-1 well drill is one of the most important events for the company this year.

“We hope that this work will discover a new oil reserve here in the Kara Sea. The development of the Arctic shelf would have a big and positive effect for the Russian economy,” he said.

Optimistic company forecasts put oil reserves in the Kara Sea as high as 13 billion tons, more than in the Gulf of Mexico, or the whole of Saudi Arabia.

The drilling is being done by the West Alpha oilrig, built by Norway’s North Atlantic Drilling. It has a deadweight of 30,700 tons and can drill wells in the shelf up to 7 km deep.

The rig was equipped with an advanced iceberg warning system, which tracks potentially dangerous icebergs, giving enough time for either support ships to tow them away, or for the rig itself to seal off the well and evacuate to safety.

Rosneft is one of the Russian companies targeted by Western nations, imposed to punish Moscow for its stance over the Ukrainian crisis. Russia’s retaliation so far has been to ban the import of foodstuffs from the countries that approved anti-Russian sanctions.

August 9, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Video | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lakes For Sale, Partially Thawed, N=20

By Willis Eschenbach | Watts Up With That? | February 5, 2014

Anthony pointed out the selling of over-hyped claims of the “dramatic thinning” of Arctic ice here. The title of the underlying scientific study is much more prosaic, Response of ice cover on shallow lakes of the North Slope of Alaska to contemporary climate conditions (1950–2011): radar remote-sensing and numerical modeling data analysis.  (PDF). To their credit, the authors make no such claims of drama in their text, which is generally quite appropriately restrained.

Here is their complete “dramatic” dataset of the lakes around Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost point in the US:

percentage barrow lakes partially thawedFigure 1. Percentage of lakes in the low-lying tundra around Barrow, Alaska that are partially thawed in late April, 1992-2011. Photo Source.

It’s an interesting study. They noted that partially thawed lakes look very different on radar than when the same lakes are frozen solid. As a result, they’ve collected solid data that is not affected by urban warming. So … what’s not to like in the study? Let me start with what is to like in the study.

I do like the accuracy of the measurements. It’s an interesting metric, with very objective criteria. I like that they listed the data in their paper, and showed photos for each of the years. I like that they didn’t try to project the results out to 2080.

What I didn’t like is where their study went from there. After collecting all that great data, they immediately sent out for that perennial favorite, a global climate model … not my style at all.

So rather than pointing out that their study is models all the way down, I figured I’d just show the kind of analysis that I would do if I were handed the lake thawing data.

First thing I’d need for the analysis? MORE DATA. Piles and piles of data. So I went out and I dug up two datasets—Barrow temperature, and Barrow snow depths. I started with just the temperature, but it turns out that the correlation between temperature and the lake thawing isn’t all that good. It doesn’t explain much, the best correlation is with temperatures in December, 4 months prior to the thawing, at a correlation of 0.68. However, at least it gives a good idea of what’s been going on, because we have good records clear back to 1920.

how cold is winter in point barrowFigure 2. Winter temperatures in Point Barrow (pale blue line) and the 17 year Gaussian average of the data. Photo source http://www.panoramio.com/photo/63484316

I note in passing that Barrow has a well-documented Urban Heat Island that is at its strongest in winter … and despite that, the 1930s and 1940s both had warmer winters than the last decade. I also note in this context of winter-business-as-usual that the study says:

Climate-driven changes have significantly impacted high-latitude environments over recent decades, changes that are predicted to continue or even accelerate in the near future as projected by global climate models …

… but I digress.

So the next obvious suspect for a correlation with the lake thawing is the snow depth. It’s an odd fact of nature that snow is a good insulator. It both slows down heat transfer by insulating the surface, and it keeps the wind from contacting the ice.

So I looked at the average snow depth data (scroll down to “Custom Monthly Listing” in sidebar) … but it’s not all that good at emulating the ice thawing either—in fact it’s worse. With snow depth, the best correlation with average snow depth is only 0.51, again with December coming out on top. So, having investigated single variables to try to emulate the lake thawing, I turned to the combination of snow depth and temperature … not much luck there either. In fact, the only way I could get a good correlation was to use the combination of the Nov-Dec-Jan average temperature, and the December snow depth. This gave me a correlation of 0.81, and a p-value of 0.001 … which turns out to be just barely significant. Here’s the emulation:

emulation barrow lake thawing shortFigure 3. Emulation of Barrow lake thawing. Observations (thick red line) compares well with the emulation (thin green line). Correlation is 0.81, p-value is .0010.

Now … why did I say that a p-value of 0.001 is “barely significant”, when the usual level is a p-value of 0.05? Well … because I looked at so many possibilities before finding what I sought. All up, I looked at maybe 40 possibilities before finding this one. If you want to establish significance at the level of a p-value of 0.05, and you look at 40 datasets before finding it, you need to find something with a p-value less than 1-10(LOG(0.95)/N, where N is the number of datasets you looked at. For N=40, that gives a required p-value of better than 0.0013 … so with a p-value of 0.0010, my emulation just made it under the wire.

Next, I looked at what that same emulation would look like over the whole period 1950-2013 for which we have records, and not just the period 1992-2011 of the study (the “N=20″ of the title). Figure 4 shows that result.

emulation barrow lake thawing longFigure 4. Exactly as in Figure 3, but covering the entire period of record.

OK … not a lot going on there. Now, those who follow my work know that I’m quite skeptical of this kind of modeling, particularly with such a short record. What I do to test that is first to find a model with an acceptable p-value. Then I take a look at both the emulation shown above, along with the same emulation using just the first half of the data to fit the parameters, and then the same thing using just the second half of the data. Figure 5 shows that result:

emulation barrow lake thawing long plusFigure 5. As in Figure 4, but showing the emulation based solely on the first half of the data (light blue), and that based solely on the second half (dark blue)

As emulations go, in my experience that’s not bad. The general shape of the emulation is well maintained, and neither of the two half-data emulations go far off of the rails, as is all too common with this type of analysis.

So that’s how I’d analyze the data, at least to begin with. My conclusions?

Well, my first conclusion has nothing to do with the lakes. It has to do with Figure 2, which shows that there is nothing out of the ordinary happening to Barrow winter temperatures. So whatever you might want to blame the lake thawing on, it’s not the local temperature. It’s hasn’t much changed over almost a century, it just goes up for a while and then down for a while.

The second conclusion is that the changes in the lake thawing dates over the period of study are not “dramatic”. In fact, they are boringly mundane. The only thing “dramatic” is the press release, which is no surprise.

The third conclusion is that I wouldn’t trust my emulation of lake thawing all that far … the problem is that with  N=20, we have so little data that any conclusions and any emulations will be fraught with uncertainty. Heck, look at Figure 1 … up until a few years before the end of the data there was not even much trend. It’s just too short to conclude much of anything.

Next, I wouldn’t trust their “CLIMo Lake Ice Model” much further than I’d trust my emulation above. Again, the underlying problem is lack of data … but to that you have to add the unknown performance of the CLIMo model.

Finally, while the authors were restrained in their study, they cut loose in their quotes for the press release, viz:

“We’ve found that the thickness of the ice has decreased tremendously in response to climate warming in the region,” said lead author Cristina Surdu, a PhD student of Professor Claude Duguay in Waterloo’s Department of Geography and Environmental Management. “When we saw the actual numbers we were shocked at how dramatic the change has been. It’s basically more than a foot of ice by the end of winter.”

and

“Prior to starting our analysis, we were expecting to find a decline in ice thickness and grounded ice based on our examination of temperature and precipitation records of the past five decades from the Barrow meteorological station,” said Surdu, “At the end of the analysis, when looking at trend analysis results, we were stunned to observe such a dramatic ice decline during a period of only 20 years.”

I see nothing “stunning” or “dramatic” in their results at all. Overall, it’s quite ho-hum.

My warmest regards to all, it’s bucketing down rain here after a long period of drought, life is good.

February 6, 2014 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment