This Is What’s Happening

Not all rabbits are so easily controlled.

Not all rabbits are so easily controlled.

This is what’s happening: Global sea ice just had its best year, basically a full calendar year with a zero-anomaly, since 2004. Scientists told us that global warming was accelerating at the poles, through the polar amplification process. Part of that, they said (after consulting global circulation models), was that both Arctic and Antarctic sea ice would diminish. When Antarctic sea ice stubbornly refused to shrink as predicted, scientists scrambled for an ex-post-facto explication. This was a little like a magician whose rabbit has jumped off the stage explaining to the audience that this was part of the show.

This is what’s happening: The rabbit’s not coming back on stage.

This is what’s happening: NASA’s Walt Meier and the Climatic Research Unit’s Phil Jones both explained that only the naive are interested in global sea ice.

“A plot of global sea ice is just not informative or useful,” said Meier.

“Adding the Arctic and Antarctic sea-ice extents doesn’t make that much sense as the two regions are at opposite ends of the world and the seasons are opposite,” said Jones.

This is what’s happening: Meier and Jones are two of the foremost experts on climate in 2014.

This is what’s happening: With the Sun nearly as high as it gets in Antarctica at this very moment, Antarctic sea ice is nearly 1.5 million square kilometers above average, reflecting copious sunlight back to space and protecting goodly swaths of the sea from absorbing solar radiation. At the same time, with the Sun below the horizon during the seemingly endless winter night, Arctic sea is slightly more than 0.5 million square kilometers below average. Thus, where the Sun is high, a lot of solar radiation is getting reflected back to space. Where the Sun is below the horizon, no additional solar radiation is getting back to space. Yes, it’s January.

Meier again: “It is scientifically incorrect to directly compare the Arctic [to the Antarctic].”

This is what’s happening: Every time I read Meier’s words I’m more amazed than I was before.

This is what’s happening: In addition to increasing sea ice skirting the southernmost continent, the South Pole itself has been cooling for decades.

This is what’s happening: Russian solar physicists’ predictions of the unfolding solar downturn were significantly more accurate than NASA’s solar physicists.

This is what’s happening: Russian solar physicists suggested that the solar downturn would have important cooling effects on Earth’s ocean-atmosphere system, a.k.a. our climate.

This is what’s happening: Cairo just had its first snow in more than a century.

This is what’s happening: The coldest location in the Lower 48 United States, International Falls, MN, recently set a record for the greatest number of days below minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit in the month of December: 8. During the same month, the temperature rose above freezing for a total of 3 hours.

This is what’s happening: International Falls started the New Year the way it ended the old one, with record cold, with a minimum temp of minus 42 Fahrenheit on January 2.

This is what’s happening: Southern Hemisphere sea ice set an all-time record for December 31.

This is what’s happening: A Russian ship, Akademik Shokalskiy, that routinely travels in the waters encircling Antarctica became stuck in sea ice on December 24 and is still stuck 10 days later. The ship’s passengers — a combination of scientists, journalists, and tourists (with plenty of crossover among groups) — have been rescued by helicopter, at significant peril and expense.

This is what’s happening: As the passengers grew increasingly restless, and likely nervous, and  increasingly interested in the chances of their ship getting free of the ice, they reached out to a prestigious oceanographic institute, namely Scripps, in San Diego, California. Scripp’s staff reached out to a San Diego TV station’s meteorologists for help, one of whom, John Coleman (founding meteorologist of The Weather Channel), reached out to Anthony Watts, the most famous climate blogger in the world, who just happened to have been following the possibly doomed group’s doings for the better part of a week. Watts and fellow skeptic meteorologist and blogger Joe D’Aleo promptly gathered information about the winds that either would or wouldn’t be freeing the Akademik Shokalskiy anytime soon and sent it to the imperiled scientists.

This is what’s happening: According to satellites, Earth’s temperature hasn’t increased in 17 years.

This is what’s happening: So far, the snowiest Northern Hemisphere winter on record was last winter.

This is what’s happening: Thunder Bay, Canada, just “shattered” its previous record for coldest temp on December 31, according to the Canadian meteorology service (part of Environment Canada). The previous record low temperature for the date: -28F. The new record low temperature: -38F.

This is what’s happening. Iceland recorded it’s lowest ever temperature for the month of May in 2013: 0F.

This is what’s happening: the cold snap about to take place in the American midwest will get headlines. And one person, one exceedingly bright person, waking up on Tuesday morning and trying without success to get their car to start will walk back in the house and press click to buy the only book by an American journalist about the possibility of Sun-induced global cooling.

About Harold Ambler

I am a lifelong environmentalist. I started my journalism career at The New Yorker, where I worked as a copy editor. Since then, my own work has appeared in The New York Daily News, The National Review Online, The Atlantic Wire, The Huffington Post, The Berkeley Daily Planet, The Providence Journal, Brown Alumni Monthly, The Narragansett Times, Rhode Island Monthly, and Providence Business News.
This entry was posted in Anthony Watts, don't sell your coat, sea ice, walt meier and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to This Is What’s Happening

  1. John W. Garrett says:

    “Don’t Sell Your Coat” is a great read.

    Thank you for the lovely wordsmithing.

  2. jcales says:

    Having trouble grasping the concept that weather is different than climate? I know it’s difficult, but it should be understood even by those that have ZERO science background; you know, by people like you. Over the last two decades (ending in 2012), there were 13,950 peer reviewed studies published regarding climate change; 24 denied its existence.

    It takes a special person to believe in all of the overwhelmingly refuted fossil fuel propaganda. It takes even more arrogance and audacity to actively promote it if you do not understand basic scientific principles.

    You may want to investigate the difference between ice extent and ice mass, why there is a higher sea ice extent in the Antarctic even as the continent as a whole has been warming, how weather affected the Russian research ship’s peril, and your completely false assertion that it hasn’t warmed in the last 17 years.

    • Well, let’s start from the top. In science, people don’t typically publish their findings anonymously. So, right there, if you’re trying to gain a name for yourself as someone who understands science well, you could start by giving your full name. That would tell people that you have at least that much integrity, and that much underlying confidence in the rather loud arguments that you’re making.

      As for the idea that in the 20 years prior to 2012 only 24 papers were skeptical about AGW or, if you prefer, climate change, you’re revealing how little reading you’ve done in the scientific literature. Thousands of papers have been published that question specific parts of AGW dogma. Things that have been questioned in the peer reviewed literature include: the role of the Sun in climate change, the global nature of the Medieval Warm Period, the open (ice-free) Arctic Ocean during the Holocene Climatic Optimum, the causes of the Little Ice Age, the sensitivity of the climate system to carbon dioxide, the positive and negative feedback mechanisms involving clouds, and on and on.

      You’ll be curious to learn, or not, that there were no peer-reviewed papers predicting the growth of Antarctic sea ice before it began to take place. Just the opposite, global circulation models predicted the demise of sea ice at both poles.

      You’ll be curious to learn, or not, that sea level today (not connected to sea ice, of course), is 15 feet lower than it was during the Eemian interglacial. But you knew that already, right, because you’ve read dozens of peer-reviewed papers about the Eemian. No?

      If you wish to comment here again, you’ll need to give your full name. In the meantime, we’ll leave you to read some actual science, as opposed to what passes for it over at desmogblog.

      • “jcales” has tried to comment for a 2nd time without giving his full name. As he started his commenting career here in impolite fashion, he was told that he could come back when he divulged his full name and showed some manners. The offer still stands.

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