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Global warming is making North American winters harsher


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Initial post: Nov 18, 2012 4:52:05 PM PST
Ehkzu says:
From the December 2012 issue of Scientific American:

"Loss of Arctic sea ice is stacking the deck in favor of harsh winter weather in the U.S. and Europe."

"In Brief:

"Global warming has increased the loss of sea ice in the Actic, which has altered atmospheric conditions that influence winter weather in the U.S. and Europe.

"The changes lead to invasions of Arctic air into the middle latitudes, increasing the likelihood of severe winter outbreaks, which occurred in the easter U.S. and northern Europe in 2010 and 2011 and in eastern Europe in January 2012.

"The deck may be stacked for harsh outbreaks during the 2012-2013 winter in North America and Europe."

This article was researched, written and printed long before Megatorm Sandy trashed the northeastern seaboard. It points out that Arctic sea ice melting is accelerating rapidly--at the extreme end of the most pessimistic estimates of global warming by climate scientists.

Note that the article doesn't mention the debate about whether there's global warming, or whether human activities are seriously affecting it. That's because there's no debate to discuss within the world of science--any more than there's a debate about Newtonian mechanics, or evolution, or the age of the Earth.

The only debate is in the boardrooms of oil and coal producers as to how to fool Americans who understand nothing about science into thinking there's a debate within the scientific community, just as their friends in the tobacco industry did the same kind of thing and thus, with the aid of politicians in their pay, delayed the onset of regulation for several very profitable decades.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2012 7:09:15 PM PST
barbW says:
does the article say what the mechanism will be?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2012 9:27:31 PM PST
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Nov 19, 2012 9:07:17 AM PST
D. Vicks says:
Besides burning fosil fuels what can we do to stop the destruction of our environment?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 9:46:49 AM PST
barbW says:
we can try to re-absorb the greenhouse gases, but the cost will be astronomical <almost as high as doing nothing>...

All tech-civs in the Galaxy face this eventuality, and very few solve it in time?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2012 6:46:47 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 20, 2012 6:48:38 AM PST
Ehkzu

Yes, this could increase the frequency &/or severity of extratropical cyclones like Sandy or the Perfect Storm of 1991. More weather systems from the north could mix with storms from the south, causing more & larger storms.

Remember a few years ago, when climatologists were predicting the North Sea icepack would be gone in summer by 2050? Then it was 2030. Now it's 2020, & the raw (volume, which is what matters) data makes it look more like 2015 or 2016.

https://sites.google.com/site/arctischepinguin/home/piomas/

Another reference on the subject of the thread:

http://www.tos.org/oceanography/archive/25-2_greene.pdf

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2012 10:28:46 AM PST
barbW says:
Your post, in reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2012 7:09:15 PM PST
werranth413 says:
does the article say what the mechanism will be?

Hi Reader,
OK, that was my question <above>, and now I've had time to scan the paper (25-2_greene.pdf).

It indicates that the thinking is that -- the ice-free, darker seas will reflect less sunlight and this will cause higher pressure circulations, which in turn will allow the denser arctic air to 'fall' to the south. These outbreaks of dense, cold air will collide with air to the south and set up active weather boundaries (cold fronts) when they advect under a supportive upper air pattern. Such temperature contrasts often will strengthen a cold core low that happens to be flowing along from west to east and then look out! the signature blizzard pattern grows with a well defined development (which organizes and concentrates and intensifies the winds and snow).

To explain how surface heating causes higher pressure circulations would require me to get even more verbose than the above explanation. LoL

Posted on Jan 1, 2013 3:41:10 AM PST
Acts5v29 says:
I wondered if one of our american cousins could comment on this year's blizzards and simultaneous tornadoes and compare this with their experience in previous years

Posted on Jan 1, 2013 3:47:16 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 3, 2013 4:55:46 AM PST
freedom4all says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 2, 2013 5:43:36 PM PST
barb: does the article say what the mechanism will be?

TSNTPW: Here you go

Arctic Warming is Altering Weather Patterns, Study Shows

A "study, by Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University and Stephen Vavrus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, ties rapid Arctic climate change to high-impact, extreme weather events in the U.S. and Europe.

The study shows that by changing the temperature balance between the Arctic and mid-latitudes, rapid Arctic warming is altering the course of the jet stream, which steers weather systems from west to east around the hemisphere. The Arctic has been warming about twice as fast as the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, due to a combination of human emissions of greenhouse gases and unique feedbacks built into the Arctic climate system.

The jet stream, the study says, is becoming "wavier," with steeper troughs and higher ridges. Weather systems are progressing more slowly, raising the chances for long-duration extreme events, like droughts, floods, and heat waves.

"[The] tendency for weather to hang around longer is going to favor extreme weather conditions that are related to persistent weather patterns," said Francis, the study's lead author.

One does not have to look hard to find an example of an extreme event that resulted from a huge, slow-moving swing in the jet stream. It was a stuck or "blocking weather pattern" - with a massive dome of high pressure parked across the eastern U.S. for more than a week - that led to the remarkable March heat wave that sent temperatures in the Midwest and Northeast soaring into the 80s. In some locations, temperatures spiked to more than 40 degrees above average for that time of year.

The strong area of high pressure shunted the jet stream far north into Canada. At one point during the heat wave, a jetliner flying at 30,000 feet could've hitched a ride on the jet stream from Texas straight north to Hudson Bay, Canada. In the U.S., more than 14,000 warm-weather records (record-warm daytime highs and record-warm overnight lows) were set or tied during the month of March, compared to about 700 cold records.

According to the study, Arctic climate change may increase the odds that such high-impact, blocking weather patterns will occur. The study cites examples of other patterns that led to extreme events that also may bear Arctic fingerprints, including the 2011 Texas drought and heat wave, which cost the state's agricultural sector a staggering $7.62 billion - making it the most expensive one-year drought in that state's history.

In addition, the study also mentions jet stream configurations that led to heavy snows in the Northeast and Europe during recent winters. Such events are also "consistent" with the study's findings, according to the paper.

The reasons why the Arctic is heating up so quickly, a phenomenon known as "Arctic amplification," has to do with factors that are unique to the Arctic environment, involving feedbacks between sea ice, snow, water vapor, and clouds. As the area warms in response to manmade greenhouse gases, melting ice and snow allow exposed land and water to absorb more of the Sun's heat, which melts more ice and snow, and so on. A relatively small amount of initial warming can be greatly magnified in the Far North.

The temperature contrast between the frigid Arctic and the milder mid-latitudes is what drives the powerful jet stream winds, which are so important for determining day-to-day weather conditions.

In addition to making the jet stream have more pronounced north/south swings, the reduced temperature gradient between northern and southern areas is causing the westerly component of upper-level winds to slow, especially during the fall when extra heating in the Arctic is exceptionally strong.

The westerly component of upper-level winds during the fall has weakened by about 14 percent since 1979, the study found.

A slight slowdown in the jet stream may not sound like a big deal. After all, jet stream winds have been clocked at upwards of 200 mph. But it turns out that slowing of the jet stream influences its shape and the motion of individual storm systems.

Weaker westerly winds causes the big north/south swings in the jet stream to move more slowly from west to east, making weather conditions in a given location more persistent than they used to be. "That means that whatever weather you're experiencing now is going to tend to hang around longer because the passage of those waves is really what causes the weather to change," Francis said.

The study contains a stark warning about future weather patterns, given projections showing that Arctic climate change is likely to accelerate in coming years. "As the Arctic sea ice cover continues to disappear and the snow cover melts ever earlier over vast regions of Eurasia and North America, it is expected that large-scale circulation patterns throughout the northern hemisphere will become increasingly influenced by Arctic amplification," the study reports.

In other words, rapid Arctic warming is expected to exert a growing influence on the weather far beyond the Arctic Circle, for many years to come. "

http://www.climatecentral.org/news/arctic-warming-is-altering-weather-patterns-study-shows

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 2, 2013 6:48:50 PM PST
barbW says:
Again, these articles don't offer the irrefutable step by step mechanisms up front. They need to be more convincing.

"The jet stream, the study says, is becoming "wavier," with steeper troughs and higher ridges."

heh, very scientific..

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 6:51:09 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 3, 2013 6:51:48 AM PST
It assumes a person knows what is going on in the Arctic
-- which is melting even faster than predicted.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYaubXBfVqo

Same in the Antarctic

New York Times
By JUSTIN GILLIS
Published: December 23, 2012
"West Antarctica has warmed much more than scientists had thought over the last half century, new research suggests, an ominous finding given that the huge ice sheet there may be vulnerable to long-term collapse, with potentially drastic effects on sea levels.
A paper released Sunday by the journal Nature Geoscience reports that the temperature at a research station in the middle of West Antarctica has warmed by 4.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1958. That is roughly twice as much as scientists previously thought and three times the overall rate of global warming, making central West Antarctica one of the fastest-warming regions on earth."

The complete article is at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/24/science/earth/west-antarctica-warming-faster-than-thought-study-finds.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&smid=tw-nytimes

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 8:03:56 AM PST
barb

There is a link to the original scientific paper (in Geophysical Research Letters) in the article TS-NTPW posted. This is just the abstract; it looks like you'd have to pay if you wanted the whole article.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2012GL051000/abstract

Yes, the language is scientific.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 9:49:17 AM PST
barbW says:
the abstract doesn't say

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 9:49:58 AM PST
barbW says:
these articles are probably not convincing to even an educated denier

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 12:22:55 PM PST
Barb: these articles are probably not convincing to even an educated denier

TSNTPW: There are no educated deniers. All of them are right winger or Libertarians -- and about the same % as Creationists. Roy Spencer for example is also a Creationist.

from Scientific American

<<Climate Expertise Lacking among Global Warming Contrarians

A majority of scientists who dispute global warming lack the climatological expertise to do so
By David Biello June 22, 2010 37

The new analysis, published June 21 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, surveyed 908 researchers publishing in scientific journals from around the world on the subject and found that not only were those in the unconvinced camp less expert in the field, they were also less likely to be trained in the climate science.

"A physicist or geologist with a PhD is a scientist, but not a climate scientist and thus their opinions on complex climatological issues is not likely to be expert opinion," says William Anderegg, lead author of the analysis and a biologist-in-training at Stanford University. "Cardiologists, for example, don't prescribe chemotherapies for cancer, nor do oncologists claim expertise at heart surgery-they are all doctors, of course, but not experts outside of a narrow specialty."

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=climate-expertise-lacking-among-global-warming-contrarians

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 1:47:25 PM PST
barbW says:
these articles are probably not convincing (as to why winters will be harsher) to even an educated denier, but if the pop science writers would include the science behind the outcomes (instead of merely observation, measurement, possible trend) even a creationist physicist would have to accommodate the atmospheric physics. An article on new physics can be just a fluff piece, because there's plenty of in-depth info readily available, but where do you go to brush up on dynamic meteorology? Who's even learned the basics in global atmospheric circulations for a science degree?

Also;
It's not just North American winters, but central European winters too to a lesser degree, -- and it's also a factor in European killer heat waves in the summer (because of this AO phenomenon -- Europe is often at a more unlucky longitude than most of the US). A negative AO will longitudinally elongate Rossby Waves throughout the year. What causes the negative AO? The creationist physicist or engineer will want to know. ;)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 3:19:47 PM PST
but if the pop science writers would include the science behind the outcomes (instead of merely observation, measurement, possible trend) even a creationist physicist would have to accommodate the atmospheric physics.

TSNTPW: If that were true, they wouldn't be a Creationist instead of an Evolutionist, would they? Roy Spencer finds evolution to be "evil".
Need a citation.

And in general global warming also predicts harsher weather, including stronger ice storms. This is a 2006 science article on it, which includes the mechanisms.

<<Harder Rain, More Snow

Meteorologists See Future of Increasingly Extreme Weather Events

http://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/2006/0205-harder_rain_more_snow.htm

February 1, 2006 - While raising average global temperatures, climate change could also bring more snow, harder rain, or heat waves, meteorologists say. Computer models based on climate data from nine countries indicate every place on the planet will be hit with extreme weather events, including coastal storms and floods.
,,,
BACKGROUND: Storms will dump heavier rain and more snow around the world as earth's climate continues to warm in the next 100 years, according to several leading computer models. A new study by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) explains how and where warmer oceans and atmosphere will produce more intense precipitation.

WHAT NCAR FOUND: Both the oceans and the atmosphere are warming as greenhouse gases build. Warmer sea surfaces boost evaporation, while warmer air holds more moisture. As this soggy air moves from the oceans to the land, it dumps extra rain per storm.

WHAT CAUSES RAIN AND SNOW: Rain and snow are two forms of precipitation, along with sleet, hail, dew and fog. Rising warm air carries water vapor high into the sky, where it cools and condenses into water droplets. Some vapor freezes into tiny ice crystals, which can attract cooled water drops to form snowflakes. As snowflakes fall, they meet warmer air and melt into raindrops, unless temperatures are below freezing close to the ground: then we get snow.

The American Meteorological Society contributed to the information in the TV portion of this report.>>

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 3:50:28 PM PST
barbW says:
"This is a 2006 science article on it, which includes the mechanisms."

Really? This is exactly what I'm talking about. What mechanisms? It's fluff. Warmer seas boost evaporation? Then why are we expecting more droughts?

You're not a denier. Can you put the mechanisms into your own words using this article? If you can't, how do you expect a denier to be convinced by these articles? You'll need a mechanism that explains both less and more precipitation (it's not in the article).

I'm saying these news clips are an impediment to understanding, because even the reporters don't seem to know what the science is. If I'm wrong then write out what you've gathered from it. I might be wrong. Maybe people smarter than me are getting the scientific rationale, even though it's not in the articles(?) In any case, I think this is a big problem. The public isn't getting it.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 6:10:57 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 3, 2013 6:12:19 PM PST
Barb: Really? This is exactly what I'm talking about. What mechanisms? It's fluff. Warmer seas boost evaporation? Then why are we expecting more droughts?

TSNTPW: Obviously if the temperature is warmer, there is more evaporation of moisture in the soil. So unless there is MORE rain in every region, you won't break even.

Crop yields are also very much affected by heat waves from the increased temperatures.

Remember the corn failures last summer in the midwest US?
Many scientists worry this is just the beginning.

There are a lot of articles on this topic in the science magazines. Yes, sadly the general media (and definitely not the lies of FOX covers it]. One can find it in the NY Times - science section.

Like you said, the public doesn't read much science.
I fear the country will pay for that now -- especially the next generation.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 6:21:19 PM PST
barbW says:
TSNTPW: Obviously if the temperature is warmer, there is more evaporation of moisture in the soil. So unless there is MORE rain in every region, you won't break even.

That's an interesting assumption. That's why the public thinks there will be more droughts? Evaporation rates go up and the rain will be channeled into narrower regions? How much will evaporation rates go up in every region?

There again, this is what's disappointing to me. The global temps rise by less than a degree and people assume evaporation rates will go up significantly in every region. You got this from the empty articles. It's not your fault.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 6:43:29 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 4, 2013 3:15:12 PM PST
Barb: That's an interesting assumption. That's why the public thinks there will be more droughts? Evaporation rates go up and the rain will be channeled into narrower regions? How much will evaporation rates go up in every region?

There again, this is what's disappointing to me. The global temps rise by less than a degree and people assume evaporation rates will go up significantly in every region. You got this from the empty articles. It's not your fault.

TSNTPW: Oh I see the problem. GLOBAL temperature averages are extremely stable.

Your error is that a global average 1 degree is not the same thing as weather temperature.

Proof:

The difference between the little Ice Age (1600s) and today was only a difference in global temperatures of 1 to 1.5 degree C.

You can see it on the first graph here where they are plotting proxy temperatures across time.

Notice the Y axis - temperature anomaly [which means change in or delta temperature] across time.

Today the Y axis has a reading of .4 and the Little Ice Age had a Y value of -.8, a difference of only 1.2 degrees.

Weather is the variation around the average global temperature [climate].

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hockey_stick_controversy

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 6:45:41 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 4, 2013 6:18:52 AM PST
barb

You can't change the laws of physics; a slight increase in temperature means much higher rates of evaporation. And don't forget, the best modeling says temps will be >4º C higher when CO2 levels are doubled from pre-industrial levels. At the rate we're going, we could easily hit that by 2100.

What you call an "assumption" is predicted by the laws of physics. Also note that there are now more than 40 independent climate models, & virtually all predict more droughts. Of course they differ in location, timing, severity, etc, but the fact that more droughts will occur is difficult to refute.

If you're so convinced the climatologists are wrong, you should read some of the original journal articles & see if they are designing their models in reasonable ways. You can see if they're all suffering from GIGO. Personally I believe that the large number of independent models helps to control for error. Plus they're constantly refining them as more data come in.

AGW/CC theory has already made ~17-20 correct predictions (depending on how you count them), which is remarkable considering the earth's climate is a very complex system (which no one disputes). This is a review article on droughts:

http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/adai/papers/Dai-drought_WIRES2010.pdf

This is an article from New Scientist:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11462-climate-change-a-guide-for-the-perplexed.html

This is a list of the correct predictions (& one retrodiction) the models have made:

http://bartonpaullevenson.com/ModelsReliable.html

Edit: In the Eemian (~124 Kya), when temps were ~1-2º C warmer than today, sea level was 5 meters higher. In the Pliocene (~3 Mya), temps were ~2-3º higher & sea level was ~25 meters higher.

A rise of more than 4º C would almost certainly set off the methane "clathrate gun," meaning temps would go to ~7º higher. There'd be no way to avoid an ice-free earth with sea level ~75 meters (~240 feet) higher. It might take a few centuries for all the ice to melt, but once it got started it'd be very, very difficult to stop it. Ice sheets form slowly but melt quickly.

Further edit: I forgot to address your previous point. By driving Arctic systems further south, you may significantly increase the rate & severity of extratropical cyclones like Sandy & the Perfect Storm of 1991. Systems from the north mix with those from the south, causing huge, powerful storms.

This explains a bit about the Arctic Oscillation:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arctic_oscillation

Also the AMDO:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Multi-decadal_Oscillation

Posted on Jan 4, 2013 5:52:18 AM PST
Brian Curtis says:
Deniers, by definition, cannot and will not be convinced by ANY amount of evidence. Deniers have taken an emotional, faith-based position that they defend against all assaults; mere evidence has no chance of penetrating such a blockade.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 6:16:22 AM PST
Brian C

I always hope there are lurkers with open minds...
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Discussion in:  Science forum
Participants:  13
Total posts:  73
Initial post:  Nov 18, 2012
Latest post:  Jan 5, 2013

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