The Day That Not a Single Snowflake Hit My House

Navy computer model said we'd have a foot of snow at my house near Greenwich Cove in Rhode Island. Not a single snowfall fell.

Navy computer model said we’d have a foot of snow at my house near Greenwich Cove in Rhode Island. Not a single snowfall fell.

On a day when I had already accepted that my location near Greenwich Cove in Rhode Island would not be favored for snow, I had nonetheless looked forward to the inevitable interludes of wet flakes mixing in here or there.

At least, that’s what made sense, given the soundings of the various levels of the atmosphere, and given what most meteorologists had thought would happen. I mean, the Navy computer model printed out nearly a foot of snow for my house less than 24 hours before the nor’easter started its way up the coast, and the model has handled nor’easters pretty well in the last

It got as cold here, 35 degrees, as it did in nearby places where plenty of snow fell, by the way. But by some miracle, for nothing else could achieve it, not a single snowflake fell at my family’s location. Several million raindrops fell both here and everywhere my car needed to go. But, again, not one fell at the family homestead.

What this felt like:

  • Coming downstairs on Christmas morning and finding no presents
  • Going to the bank and finding that the account was cleaned out
  • Getting unexpected bad news about the health of someone held dear

I will recover, eventually, from the experience. Miracles are supposed to make us happy, after all. And it really did take some doing for the atmosphere not to let one unmelted snowflake reach the ground here yesterday.

The people on the weather board that I frequent were talking about the snow flooding down from the sky all day – in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. Just wasn’t meant to be here. Maybe next time.

As a post script: Just took the dog for his first walk of the day, and saw no fewer than four snowflakes, tiny ones, tumble from the sky. Did they make me feel any better? Yes, yes they did.

Posted in snow, weather | Tagged , ,

UNISYS pulls down map showing dramatic ocean cooling

UNISYS ocean cooling not real

As some have jested in the climate blogosphere, UNISYS’ recent SST anomaly map looked like the onset of an ice age. UNISYS has pulled the product down for the time being, citing data processing issues.

Many around the climate blogosphere have noted that UNISYS’ recent sea surface temperature anomalies were showing radically different values from various NOAA products.

I decided to reach out to UNISYS directly to find out what might be behind the discrepancies, mentioning that it was confusing that UNISYS was showing Hudson Bay cold, water off the East Coast of Russia frigid, and most of the Northern Hemisphere dramatically cooler than 6 weeks ago, when NOAA was showing nothing of the kind.

UNISYS’ weather program manager, Brian Hughes, sent along the following response:

After further thought and additional analysis, I’ve asked that the images be taken down temporarily.

NOAA map of ocean temps is accurate

NOAA SST anomaly map for October 31, 2014. The values represented on the map are accurate.

What originally appeared to be a simple color bar/enhancement table issue looks to be an issue with our anomaly product itself. I took more looks at areas where our product is indicating cooler than normal, the corresponding NOAA product appears to show warmer. That tells me something is off with our processing.

In July, we had to switch to the higher resolution RTG-SST product as the input because we had been using a legacy SST product from NOAAPort that NWS discontinued in June. The SST anomaly product may be suffering from amplified cooling as we transition into NH winter, an error not originally seen when we first switched in the summer.

The dataset used to process and create the anomaly appears to also be an issue, perhaps our software is not calculating the correct temp since the switch to the RTG-SST hires.

We are going to evaluate this and work on a solution.

Posted in global cooling, NOAA, sea surface temperature | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Antarctica’s sea ice sets all-time record for second day in row – how high can it go?

As discussed in Don't Sell Your Coat, Antarctica's sea ice is confounding climatologists who predicted that it would decline in the era of manmade global warming.

The year 2014’s ice is plotted on this graph of satellite-derived sea ice area in yellow. Antarctica’s impressively expanding sea ice is doing something that climatologists said wouldn’t happen: grow.

UPDATE as of 9/21/14, 9:58 am: When I posted this the headline the other day with the words “how high can it go” I didn’t imagine that we would see the ice flirt with the 17 million square kilometer threshold, but that is what has happened. As of Sunday, September 21, the most recent Antarctic sea ice area as measured by satellite now stands at 16.80 million square kilometers. I will ask again: How high can it go? Both NASA’s Walt Meiers and Gavin Schmidt have not responded to requests for comment.

For the second day in a row, sea ice area in the Southern Hemisphere has set its all-time record maximum. The new record is 16.48 million square kilometers. The previous record, set yesterday, was 16.39 million square kilometers.

Prior to the last two days, the previous record for sea ice ringing Antarctica was 16.23 million square kilometers, which occurred in 2007, and which I wrote about in my book.

Unlike Arctic sea ice, Antarctic sea ice has steadily increased in spatial coverage throughout the period of satellite measurement that started in 1979.

The increasing resilience of Antarctic sea ice, an accordion-like fringe collapsing and expanding seasonally around the southernmost continent, has surprised scientists, including a group attempting to visit Antarctica during the Southern Hemisphere summer earlier this year. The group’s vessel, the Akademik Shokalskiy, was caught by the ice, as were the vessels of two rescue parties sent to free the researchers.

The Antarctic sea ice has set a slew of records during 2014.

In June and July, records were set for greatest ever deviation from normal – what scientists refer to as an anomaly.

The year began with the sea ice setting a record for the calendar date, and it has set more than 100 such daily records since then.

Generally speaking, climatologists have downplayed the significance of Southern Hemisphere sea increasing during the past four decades, arguing that it may in fact result from manmade global warming via a number of possible mechanisms that have been posited, and that, whatever is causing it, the increase in ice is no counter-proof of global warming.

There is no disputing that the overwhelming number of global circulation models, the computer models climatologists rely upon to give the public information about the most likely future of the ocean-atmosphere system, originally predicted diminished Antarctic sea ice.

The incorrect predictions include NASA’s own computer model, as overseen by now-retired James Hansen, at the time the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, one of the premier climate research groups around the globe.

Hansen’s successor at the helm of Goddard, mathematician Gavin Schmidt, did not respond to requests for comment.

Talking About the Weather also reached out to NASA’s Walt Meier, who has been on the record previously, indicating that Southern Hemisphere sea ice is less important to climate than Northern Hemisphere ice, that it shows significant regional variation around the Antarctic continent, and that examining the metric known as global sea ice, an anomaly figure derived by adding the anomalies of the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere, is an act without scientific merit.

If and when Meier responds to today’s all-time record for Southern Hemisphere sea ice, I will add his comment.

Antarctica’s sea ice is almost surely not done making headlines, if not history, in 2014.

Posted in Antarctic sea ice, Antarctica, don't sell your coat, Gavin Schmidt, GISS | Tagged , ,

Were there Signs of Cooling? Yes, There Were

Earliest snowfall in South Dakota history - just another reason not to sell your coat. Best book about climate change.

Earliest snowfall in South Dakota history – just another reason not to sell your coat.

South Dakota’s earliest-ever recorded snowfall today is the kind of lovely weather morsel that both sides of the climate debate have been feasting on for decades.

“It’s hot!” one side yells.

“It’s cold!” the other side yells.

“It’s getting hotter!” the warm side yells.

“It’s getting colder!” the cool side yells.

During all this time, and all this debate, during the feasting on individual weather events like today’s, it has become a commonplace that those arguing that manmade global warming is a clear and present danger are allowed – by the media, most of the populous, and by themselves – to point to individual weather events as proof that the heat they’re so concerned with is swamping the system.

And conversely it’s a commonplace that those arguing that the planet is demonstrably within historic bounds, climate-wise, are not allowed – by the media, most of the populous, and sometimes even by themselves – to point to individual weather events to show that heat is not swamping the system.

Certainly, when it comes to taxpayer-funded media outlets like NPR and PBS, not to mention the newspapers of record for our country (The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and The Washington Post), the traditional big-three television networks’ news programs, and nearly every university in the country, the conviction is there that only fools and those who are corrupt would ever argue on the side of skepticism about global warming.

Most people who follow climate closely wouldn’t quibble with any of that.

Well, if the solar physicists, oceanographers, geologists, and meteorologists who not only dispute catastrophic global warming but argue that we’re on the verge of some form – presumably mild – of global cooling are right, the question will emerge:

Were there signs of the cooling before it took place?

The answer to that question will be: Yes, there were. Here are some of them:

  • Steadily increasing Antarctic sea ice from 1979 to present
  • Cooling temperatures at the South Pole for the past 50 years
  • Increased winter snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere during the last decade
  • A dramatic increase in wintry weather in the UK during the past decade
  • Frozen water mains bursting in northern Michigan during the 2013-’14 winter
  • Snow in Baghdad
  • Snow in Cairo
  • The U.S. electric grid very nearly failing during winter 2013-’14 during the polar vortex
  • The Great Lakes being frozen more deeply and longer than ever recorded
  • A pause in global warming of 17 years, going on 18 years, according to NASA satellite measurement
  • And, finally, today’s earliest-ever snow in South Dakota

Do these constitute proof of global cooling as of September 11, 2014? Absolutely not!

What they will constitute, if the cooling indeed materializes, are signs that could have been noticed to indicate that cooling was a possibility, if open-mindedness and independent thinking had been allowed, let alone encouraged, by the scientific, journalistic, and political establishment of the United States, the United Kingdom, and many (though not all) countries of the world.

Time will tell.

Posted in best book about global warming, best book on climate change, global cooling, global warming, south dakota snow | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

White House desk made from ship used in Franklin search

A fascinating side story, that of the Resolute desk, from the best book on climate change.

Clockwise from left: JFK Jr. plays while his father works; Obama makes a call; Caroline Kennedy plays on the Resolute desk.

With today’s announcement that one of the two ships used by Sir John Franklin in his ill-fated quest to navigate the Northwest Passage in 1845 has been located, more people may come to learn of a fascinating side story.

That story has to do with the fact that the primary desk used by the President of the United States comes from ship timbers in one of the vessels sent by the British to search for Franklin and his crew.

Most of the search trips merely compounded the tragedy of the Franklin Expedition, but not the one whose timbers would eventually be used for what is now called the Resolute desk. It’s a story that I relate in my book:

Not all of the Franklin-rescuing trips ended in tragedy. The best-known of the many individual ships, British and American, to seek the fate of, or potentially rescue, the Franklin expedition was the Resolute, captained by Henry Kellett. Part of a four-ship flotilla led by Edward Belcher, Kellett’s ship became frozen in sea ice deep in the Canadian Archipelago in the fall of 1852, remaining trapped for two winters. When the ice showed no sign of releasing his ship, Kellett led his men on sleds to another of the expedition’s ships that was bound fast. Captain Belcher, in the end, decided that all hands should be transferred to the only ship that had managed to find open water. The decision to abandon Resolute led to a court martial in which both captains were acquitted.

As it turned out, moving pack ice carried the abandoned ship 1,200 miles, from Dealy Island down into Davis Strait, between Baffin Island and Greenland. It was there that the crew of an American whaler, George Henry, noted it. The Americans were able to free Resolute, re-rig it, and sail it to New London, Connecticut. Although the British waived all rights to the ship, an American merchant, Henry Grinnell, convinced the U.S. government to restore Resolute to immaculate condition and sail it back to England as a friendship gesture. The ship was presented to Queen Victoria at a ceremony held in Cowes harbor on the Island of Wight on December 17, 1856. A couple of decades later, the British government had a desk made from the timbers of the by-then decommissioned Resolute and presented that desk in 1880 to President Rutherford Hayes. It has been the principal desk used by U.S. presidents in the Oval Office ever since.

While we like to imagine that the efforts to exploit Arctic waters are somehow “new,” I learned while researching Don’t Sell Your Coat that the Arctic has been navigated, historically, far more than it is fashionable to believe.

The Resolute desk is proof of the longstanding western obsession with the Arctic and a literal relic of a fascinating piece of history between the United States and Britain.

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Antarctic sea ice hits second all-time record in a week

A graph of the latest all-time record of Southern Hemisphere sea ice area, expressed as an anomaly, courtesy of The Cryosphere Today.

A graph of the latest all-time record of Southern Hemisphere sea ice area, expressed as an anomaly, courtesy of The Cryosphere Today.

Antarctic sea ice has hit its second all-time record maximum this week. The new record is 2.112 million square kilometers above normal. Until the weekend just past, the previous record had been 1.840 million square kilometers above normal, a mark hit on December 20, 2007, as I reported here, and also covered in my book.

Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, responded to e-mail questions and also spoke by telephone about the new record sea ice growth in the Southern Hemisphere, indicating that, somewhat counter-intuitively, the sea ice growth was specifically due to global warming.

Serreze

Serreze

“The primary reason for this is the nature of the circulation of the Southern Ocean  – water heated in high southern latitudes is carried equatorward, to be replaced by colder waters upwelling from below, which inhibits ice loss,” Serreze wrote in an e-mail. “Upon this natural oceanic thermostat, one will see the effects of natural climate variations, [the rise] appears to be best explained by shifts in atmospheric circulation although a number of other factors are also likely involved.”

There was one part of his response that was hard for me to understand. What would heat the water at high latitudes, those closest to the South Pole?   (I also didn’t understand why he was talking about ice loss being inhibited when what was happening was the record growth of ice.)

Over the phone, I asked Serreze if he could clarify what was heating the water. His full response is below:

What we’re talking about is water that is 60 degrees south and more southerly than that, and so the basic thing is you have got surrounding the Antarctic continent a band of fairly strong and somewhat steady west-east winds, which they call the Roaring 40s, but then you’ve got this thing called the coriolis force, which wants to turn things to the left. What happens is that water at the high latitudes, what happens is that as we heat that water, you set up what’s called an Ekman drift, which at the surface transports that water from the high southern latitudes toward the equator.

What happens is you have to set up a continuity that has to occur so that what happens is that there’s an upwelling of cold waters from below, there’s a whole circulation loop where water sinks in the lower southern latitudes, then there’s a return flow that brings the same amount of mass to the higher latitudes. 

Basically, what happens is that in the Arctic you can warm that surface water up and it doesn’t get transported away. It stays there, and it helps melt more ice, but in the Antarctic, the water gets carried away. 

I thanked Serreze for his response but told him that I still didn’t know what heated the water at high latitudes. Was it, simply, global warming?

“Exactly!” he said.

“How many degrees is the water heated, before it is transported toward the equator?” I asked.

“I don’t have data on that,” Serreze said. He indicated that Marika Holland, a sea ice specialist and climate modeler at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, would possibly have some data as well as, perhaps, a fuller description of the mechanism warming the water nearest Antarctica and the associated growth of sea ice.

Holland did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Gavin Schmidt, director of Goddard Institute for Space Studies, also did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

 

 

Posted in Antarctic sea ice, Antarctica, best book on climate change, best book on global warming, don't sell your coat, Gavin Schmidt, global warming, Marika Holland, Mark Serreze, Record sea ice, Southern Hemisphere sea ice | Tagged , | 137 Comments

Antarctica sets new record for sea ice

Antarctic sea ice has set a new all-time record maximum over the weekend of June 28-29, 2014.

Antarctic sea ice has set a new all-time record maximum over the weekend of June 28-29, 2014.

The sea ice surrounding Antarctica, which, as I reported in my book, has been steadily increasing throughout the period of satellite measurement that began in 1979, has hit a new all-time record high for areal coverage.

The new record anomaly for Southern Hemisphere sea ice, the ice encircling the southernmost continent, is 2.074 million square kilometers and was posted for the first time by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s The Cryosphere Today early Sunday morning.

It was not immediately apparent whether the record had occurred on Friday or Saturday. Requests for comment to Bill Chapman, who runs The Cryosphere Today, were not immediately returned.

The previous record anomaly for Southern Hemisphere sea ice area was 1.840 million square kilometers and occurred on December 20, 2007. Continue reading

Posted in Antarctic sea ice, Climate change, computer models, don't sell your coat, global warming, harold ambler, sea ice, walt meier | Tagged , , , , , , | 38 Comments

I am a nature-loving person

As a surfer, my love of nature is at the center of my life.

As a surfer, my love of nature is at the center of my life.

If you’ve read my book on climate change, then you know that the first piece of writing of mine to gather any attention was a letter I penned in fourth grade to the prime minister of Japan, begging his country to desist from whale hunting.

If you had managed to read every word I’ve written since then, you would come away with the inevitable and accurate impression that I love the planet I was born on, including and especially the oceans girdling it and the skies above it.

If you had watched me, somehow, throughout the course of my life, you would have to notice, as well, that it makes me happy to pick up trash, and that I rejoice when I witness environmental success stories, such as the marked ecological improvement of America’s waterways during the last two generations.

Thus, for those with minds disposed to contemplation and hearts disposed to compassion, you can imagine how painful it has been to be typed as a hateful, anti-environment tool of Big Oil or some other right-wing power.

I am no one’s tool.

I report on the scientists who have a different view on climate than James Hansen and Michael Mann, and there are far more such scientists than most people have any idea of — far more. I did not create skeptical climate science. I did not fabricate one iota of what I have reported on. And I have not been made a nature hater by reporting on it, either.

I feed birds, stare at the sky a lot, surf, and generally adore creation.

I love this Earth. And I’m going to love it forever.

Posted in Climate change, climate skeptic, Harold Ambler climate author, Harold Ambler environmentalist, nature lover, skeptical environmentalist | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Apology accepted: an update

Needlessly expensive electric power is a beautiful site to some. This Somers, Connecticut solar "farm" is a case in point.

Needlessly expensive electric power is a beautiful sight to some. This Somers, Connecticut solar “farm” is a case in point.

In 2009, a few weeks before Obama was inaugurated for his first term in the White House, I wrote this in The Huffington Post: “You are probably wondering whether President-elect Obama owes the world an apology for his actions regarding global warming. The answer is, not yet.”

My, how times have changed. Since I wrote those naïve words, not only have the president and I both grown considerably grayer, but he has done far more to join Al Gore in the ranks of destructive climate charlatans than most people realize. He decided, unilaterally, to make the creation of coal-fired power plants so expensive as to be non-starters, never worrying for a moment what jacked-up energy prices would do to working people and those on fixed incomes. For working people, pricy electricity makes life more stressful, palpably so. When $50 one way or the other can destroy your monthly budget, you notice when feel-good energy production costs your family – your kids – a pair of sneakers they needed two months ago or a prescription co-pay that you simply have to come up with.

It’s personal at that point.

Progressives love to talk about taking care of the little guy. And so long as the little guy is driving a Prius and making $70,000 a year at a union job, they really do. If he’s driving a third-hand pickup truck 17 miles each way to his second job at the convenience store, then progressives warm fuzzies don’t really enter the equation. Oh, well. Let them eat Prius cake, or something to that effect.

Obama has consistently talked the talk, throughout his four years in office, and as his second term gets under way in earnest, he’s also walking the walk – to green la-la-land, that is. Gorgeous New England farms covered with solar panels that belong in the desert Southwest (if they belong anywhere, which they don’t), domestically produced coal getting shipped to China (where it’s burned less cleanly than at home), thousands of acres of near-shore Atlantic waters littered with obtrusive, bird-killing windmills requiring redundant power generation systems because they’re unreliable (particularly when power is most needed), these are a few of my favorite things. Oh, no, wait. These are a few of President Obama’s favorite things. And guess what else? The dog is about to bite, and you’re about to be feeling sad.

Why? Because you are caught up in a glorious swindle, an impeccable lie, a howler. This is the notion that by walking away from conventional power generation as an individual and a part of your nation, you are “greening” the planet, or saving humanity, or some such. Once again, what you’re really doing is killing people needlessly, but this is at most an irrelevant detail, if you really, deeply love Mother Earth and know little or nothing about Earth’s climate history.

So, yeah, President Obama owes me an apology for his climate shenanigans at this point, just as he owes one to you. Does he think he’s pulling a fast one on the American people? I have no way of knowing that. And I don’t particularly care. What I do I care about are the president’s actions. And on climate, particularly, his actions are destructive.

Posted in Barack Obama, fuel poverty, solar power | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

NOAA map of February temperatures less than accurate?

NOAA's map of February temperatures across the United States got New England all wrong. It wasn't "near normal," at all, as the people of the region can well attest. Oh, and the data, too: Hartford, CT, as an example was actually 5.1 degrees below normal.

NOAA’s map of February temperatures across the United States got New England all wrong. It wasn’t “near normal,” at all, as the people of the region can well attest. Oh, and the data, too: Hartford, CT, as an example was actually 5.1 degrees below normal.

 

 

 

 

(Update two: Thanks to Tamino for the correction. Boston’s mean was warmer and Hartford’s colder than I had originally. I have updated the numbers. See bottom of post for first update.)

As the map above shows, NOAA seems to have struggled in creating a temperature map that accurately conveys what New Englanders recently experienced: a frigid February. Hartford was 5.5 degrees below normal for the month; Boston was 2.7 degrees below normal. Providence was 3.5 degrees below normal for the month. And yet all three locations fall within the “near normal” portion of NOAA’s map. What’s up with that?

Continue reading

Posted in February temperature 2014, NOAA, NWS | Tagged , , , | 44 Comments