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Dan Ellis-Jones
Perth, Australia
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Hi everyone, I'm a long time lurker, and I'm going a little OT, but not sure where to ask this otherwise. Looking at the Climate Reanalyzer forecasts over the last month or so, there is seemingly extreme heat in Siberia and Northern Canada/Alaska. The question is, how extreme are these temperatures? Are they way out of the norm, where the norm is 20th century, not post 2007. I know CR shows the anomolies, but I suppose I'm looking for a reality check. Are great swathes of the lands around the Arctic Ocean seriously close to 20C (or even more) hotter than normal, day after day after day? If so, surely permafrost is a thing of the past? And if permafrost is a thing of the past, doesn't that mean we are too?
Toggle Commented Jul 5, 2016 on ASI 2016 update 3: crunch time at Arctic Sea Ice
Susan - Yes, I'm aware of Jennifer Francis' work. But thanks for the links! And I remember talking about the effect of ice melt on weather/jet stream almost a decade ago when I worked in the Western Australian Office of Climate Change, back when most people thought Arctic ice melt was highly unlikely in the 21st C. What I was referring to was the REALLY weird pattern of the jet stream over the last month or so. It really seems to have forgotten what it's meant to be doing! I understand the 'long term' (decade or so) change in the jet stream, but about a month or so ago, it was relatively strong and, although wavey, still within normal bounds. Now it seems to be slow, broken, wavey and curling back on itself. Thanks Jai - I'll take a look at your links. It'll be interesting to see how the next month pans out with regards to the jet stream and thus the weather. Noticed that Climate Reanalyzer is predicting vast swathes of the Arctic Ocean will rise above freezing air temps for much of next week. In fact a huge area over the North Pole is predicted to be in positive territory. Also, quite a bit of western Russian looks like it'll have 30c+ temps for a few days at least next week - which might be interesting for wildfires. Alaska and northern Canada also get some pretty warm pulses too. Is this being forecast by other sources?
Toggle Commented May 30, 2014 on Greenland 2013 in review at Arctic Sea Ice
This is a bit OT, sorry. I've been looking at the NH Jet Stream for a while now, and it's looking quite ill. Could one of you clever chaps with more experience than me give your impression of what's going on? Is this normal for this time of year (new normal), or is it very wavey and highly sporadic, and slow? And what might be the consequences of this - blocking highs, warm/cold air masses where they shouldn't be? I really wish I did a meteorology degree!
Toggle Commented May 29, 2014 on Greenland 2013 in review at Arctic Sea Ice
Always interesting discussions on here! Looking at the climate sensitivity and impacts of various levels of CO2, can someone tell me if this is only CO2 forcing, or if it's total GHG forcing, and thus we should be looking at the CO2-e figure? If it's CO2-e, which I have an inkling it should be, then we're already almost at 480ppm, and will be within the year. Or, if it's not, then what are the predicted temp increases for differing levels of CO2-e? If Sam is correct - "Even were we magically able to hold things to a 150 vppm rise (425 vppm from our current 400), we are headed to more than a 4 degC temperature rise. " But the measure isn't CO2, but GHG total forcing, then 5C increase, here we come, as we're actually over 200vppm increase right now. Brains trust... thoughts please!
I'm interested to hear everyone talk about an El Nino with such certainty. The Bureau of Meteorology in Australia, where I get most of my SH weather/climate info from, is very cautious about an El Nino - at least out till about May/June. It's stating that neutral conditions are likely to persist through our Autumn (M/A/M), with only a 50/50 chance of something developing afterwards. See If that is the case, then it will be too late for a significant influence on the ASI this year. I'm not sure whether a 2-year neutral phase is normal, and if there is any correlation between the length of neutral conditions and the magnitude of the next phase - whether the neutral conditions 'store up' a rebound effect? Any ideas? I would like more work done on that persistent warm spot in NE Pacific. Some more solid ideas on why it's there, and what's causing it. The conspiracy lot are pointing to Fukushima (another radioactive water leak discovered today!), but it seems unlikely. The article by an Australian yachtsman who sailed from Australia to Osaka and then on to USA was very telling. I believe that there is a connection there. Read the Guardian's take on it: As for a local weather report, it's been quite interesting in Perth! Hottest night ever, and quite a lot of warm temps in a row, and a devastating bush fire. No rain this year as yet - but that's normal, but the mild Christmas period was not normal, nor was the heatwave early in December. We've been close to using those new colours on the heat map in inland areas! (50C+)
Toggle Commented Jan 20, 2014 on Looking for winter weirdness 2014 at Arctic Sea Ice
Hi All, I think it's now time to agree to disagree on the issue of metrics for heat/energy accumulation. I vote we should use cow farts! It IS Christmas, after all! (and we may not have too many 'normal' ones left - if Wadhams et al are correct.) More on-topic, although not completely... I'm very interested in the notion of the 3 cells merging into one. Are there still data/observations to suggest a collapse of the Hadley cell? Any of you more learned folk able to give an idea of the consequences of such an outcome? Also, nice to see the jet stream is still acting wavily and erratically. Down here in Australia, Perth has recorded 3 of its hottest spring seasons in the last 4 years, with October and November this year being hottest on record, I believe. Also, there is a potential swing towards a new La Nina forming. Very early days yet though. Additionally, anyone know what's going on with the SST in the northern Pacific? It seems there's a large area that's been consistently 3 or 4C above normal. Andy - as a policy maker (but not a decision maker - we aren't the same thing!), we will inevitably panic and try to work something out to provide our elected masters with something tangible to rectify the situation. Sadly as anyone who understands climate science knows, it'll be way too late. I worked on increasing the energy efficiency standards of new buildings, which I have accomplished (not single-handedly!), but we had to talk about financial benefits instead of CC due to the colour of our political masters. It's all about political will. It will be a very 'interesting' few years with the new Federal Government in Australia, which seems to have read the Tea Party policy handbook! We will wait and see. Not only that - but currently the English (which I am) are being thumped by the Aussies in the Ashes (cricket). It's making me... terse...
Toggle Commented Dec 6, 2013 on PIOMAS December 2013 at Arctic Sea Ice
Hi John, The difference is that there is a confusion over the metric. You are right in saying that there was 9.7 (give or take) gigatonnes of carbon (C) released into the atmosphere. However, to turn that into a measure of CO2, you need to multiply the amount of carbon (C) by 3.664, as 1kgC = 3.664kg of carbon dioxide (CO2). So 9.7GtC equates to about 35.5GtCO2. And of course that doesn't take into account the other GHGs. Which brings me to a question - can someone tell me where to get a reliable measure of CO2-e? This metric seems to have disappeared recently. Is it not a robust measure anymore, or is it just too scary to talk about!? :)
Toggle Commented Nov 27, 2013 on And the wind cries methane at Arctic Sea Ice
MarkH Although I think those that understand the science (I try not to use the terms believer/denialist - it's science, not religion) can be overly vehement about their positions, which is understandable as it's the future of the planet/human civilisation that we're talking about, I accept that there are various details that are not well understood, and so there are some holes in the AGW argument (but I don't think they take away from the overall message). My personal soap box on the issue of CO2 concentration is the RATE of change. It is unprecedented outside of a cataclysm. This is a huge test of the planet's ability to adapt and set up a new equilibrium. The rate of change is an issue that is not often discussed. I've been looking at the trends in CO2, and we're tracking way over 2ppmv a year at the moment - and at times over 3ppmv. So 500ppm CO2 is only 40-50 years away at the current rate - sooner if the rate continues to climb. We’ve pushed the pendulum hard, and who knows where it will end up, or when it’ll stop swinging. Another thing I've noticed is the lack of discussion of CO2-e (as opposed to just CO2). I remember that 450ppm CO2-e was a point at which tipping points and/or 2C was highly likely. Well, we're way over that now, and no one seems to talk about it. Especially with the increase in methane that seems to be occurring (although I've not seen recent global measures of methane concentration). So, in answer to your point about CO2 being good for plant growth - yes it is, and then very quickly it'll be detrimental as it will increase temperatures and reduce their yields and growth as they choke on the too-high levels that will happen a couple of decades later.
Rob Dekker (and all those who agree with the 'hiatus' hypothesis) Please see my post earlier on this thread (Sorry don't know how to link to it!) I really don't think that there has been an unusual 'hiatus'. As I said, if you either disregard 1998, or smooth it to something more reasonable, due to it's outlier nature, then you'll see that the increase in temps in the 90's is not that different to increase in the 2000's. If you take a trend line from further back, it still fits. Sorry, I know this isn't on-topic!
@Werther I was of the same mind, but the conversation went on too long, so I took the bait. I did try to refrain from commenting on this! At least I've put some real facts out there on the 'hiatus'. You never know who might be reading this blog! :) It's a pity that the shutdown is stopping some timely data on the refreeze. I read somewhere that it'll be hard for the USA to know what the economic impact of the shutdown was because no one's collecting the economic data at the moment!
Sorry, but I've been ropeable (lovely Aussie expression) about this 'hiatus' rubbish. Here is the global average temp (in degrees F) from 1990, sourced from NASA's Goddard Institute. You will see that 2005 and 2010 both beat 1998. And remember that 1998 was an EXTREME outlier, and 2005 and 2010 were both neutral or La Nina years, where global temps should be cooler. 1990 57.90 1991 57.87 1992 57.52 1993 57.54 1994 57.70 1995 57.96 1996 57.78 1997 58.01 1998 58.30 1999 57.90 2000 57.92 2001 58.14 2002 58.28 2003 58.26 2004 58.14 2005 58.37 2006 58.26 2007 58.32 2008 58.08 2009 58.26 2010 58.39 2011 58.17 2012 58.21 If you graph these figures, and take out 1998 as an outlier (I've put it at 58.00F, so consistent, but still a warm 1990's year) what you get is something more akin to a step-change from 1990's to 2000's, where the 1990's were quite flat, and the 2000's are quite flat, but consistently up by about 0.4/0.5F. I am no scientist, nor a statistician, but it seems that this is a total furphy (another great Aussie expression, meaning an improbable story) and I'm utterly amazed at the reporting and the fact that it seems some mainstream scientists are giving it some credence.
Thanks LRC - Just to clarify, I'm not a scientist/modeller myself, but I've worked with some scientists on trying to make the scientific outputs more accessible/understandable to policy makers and developers (that's me) and the general public (oh, that's me too!). I've said on this blog before, that I think there is a definite trend where the more we know, the more we realise we don't know, and are surprised at how the real world reacts (This is a truism for most things!). But much more often than not, the real world reacts quicker and more severely than the models predicted. And, yes, the models don't (aren't meant to) predict how each year will play out. And it depends on what the model is trying to determine. The models predicting the ENSO status are almost always on the money, for instance. I would recommend the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website for some great background info - Also, on weird weather - eastern Austrlia has had bush fires and record high temps already this season - remembering Sept is the SH equivalent of March. Imagine having wildfires in California/Arizona in March!
Toggle Commented Sep 16, 2013 on Pinpointing the minimum at Arctic Sea Ice
OK, NJSnowFan, I've been holding my tongue as responding to you is just a waste of time, but I'm doing this to make myself feel better. I've worked with climate modellers in Australia. Firstly, they will admit that their models don't always get it right... This is a brief simplification of their process… Before they publish any findings, they develop and test the model for months and years. Then they put in historic data to get the model to predict climate/weather that's already happened... so 1980's data to predict 1990/2000's weather/climate. They then adjust the model to provide an accurate picture that can be relied upon if there is any discrepancy. Once the model accurately predicts past weather, they will undertake a huge number of runs with minor changes to the inputs and see what they give. Then after all that they finally publish outputs that are the average of all the runs they've made. I think if you did some proper research you will find that many models are very close to real life outcomes. Those that are off tend to present the situation as much less severe than reality - eg the speed and extent of Arctic sea ice loss is a good deal worse/quicker than most models have predicted. So, they don't always get it right, but that's not a reason to think that the planet isn't warming, and that GHGs aren't going change our climate. The models are just predictive tools. Deniers are predictable tools (not that I'm saying you're a denier NJSnowFan - just speaking generally).
Toggle Commented Sep 16, 2013 on Pinpointing the minimum at Arctic Sea Ice
I've just posted on the (UK) Telegraph article in the comments. It's just such nonsense it drives me slightly crazy! :) It doesn't help that it's come on the heels of the Australian Liberal Party (conservative)government win, which will 'stop the carbon tax'. As I alluded to in my comments on the Telegraph site - I'm not sure if/who has stated that the warming tend has 'paused' - it hasn't. 1998 was a hugly anomalous, and 2005 and 2010 were within a hair's breath of 1998 - without El Nino playing a part. I do think we know a great deal less about planetary and even polar climate than we think, and that there is a much greater desire (within the systems) for systems to return to normal. Negative feedbacks (I believe) will pop up more an more - in unexpected places. But I think it's clear we'll hit a point soon where a new normal is reached that is very different to the current one. The RATE of change is the killer (and unprecedented). I seriously doubt that runaway GW is possible - the planet - over billions of years, has ALWAYS corrected itself - just not in human timeframes. Human civilisation (certainly globalisation) is on borrowed time, however!
Toggle Commented Sep 10, 2013 on IPCC crisis meeting at Arctic Sea Ice
Stevegeneral999, I agree with you whole-heartedly. I think this particular post has less easily defined boundaries from which to fall 'off-topic'. I would doubt that many people reading this blog would disagree that the desire for perpetual economic growth is one of the root cuases that has led us to watching the Arctic sea ice melt in front of our eyes. But this is a scientifically-based blog, and the social ramifications are hard to predict and not really part of this blog - maybe we should start another one on the potential consequences of an ice-free Arctic? But there are many others out there on this stuff too. It would be wonderful to tap into the immense talent pool that Neven and the regular posters provide, but for a learned and respectful discussion on what could be in store as far as society's survival is concerned. As a government policy gonk, this could be invaluable. Joining the dots is vital for the presentation I'm working on about ASI. Being in Australia, relating what's happening at the other end of the world to regular suburbanites is an interetsting exercise!
Toggle Commented Aug 16, 2013 on Perception of the Arctic 2 at Arctic Sea Ice
Kate & Bob (and everyone else!) I live on the western side of Australia and you both have a point. Australia has become quite 'right-leaning' politically - and the media agenda is dictated by the Murdoch press - we only have 1 national newspaper, and it's Murdoch's! But our national energy use and intensity is dropping. The total annual reduction in electricity on our major grid was over 4 TWh (2.2%) and the reduction in associated emissions was about 11 Mt CO2-e (6.3%) in the 12 months to July 2013. Of this emissions reduction, about 40% is through fall in demand and 60% to the shift in generation mix to lower emission sources. So change is happening! However we export a massive amount of GHG through our exports of FF. I can't remember the proportion of China's coal that comes from Australia, but it's somewhere between loads and figgin massive amounts. Looking at the policies for the upcoming election here, and having worked on national committees on energy efficiency and on state-level energy efficiency in buildings, I know that the political priorities are (not surprisingly) protecting the economy - and that is done in a conservative manner - i.e. the economy is run on FF, and the way we've done it is the only cost-effective way of continuing. I speak to people on a daily basis about making their homes more energy efficient, and increasingly the requirements are being seen as a massive impost to their freedoms, not a way of protecting the planet. But it's obvious to me that we are starting to see some really disturbing effects of rapidly rising GHG levels, which are now looking to have moved towards 3ppm increase per year, throwing out all/most modelling and projections. The 'mega-trends' that are converging (financial crash, resource depelation, AGW etc) are going to unravel our societies like a caught thread on a jumper. But at least we're building more roads!
Toggle Commented Aug 15, 2013 on Perception of the Arctic 2 at Arctic Sea Ice
Hans - I can see what you're getting at, but I'm not as sure as you are (but of course respect your opinion!). If the ice sheet is 2km-3km thick, and the ground underneath is only, say 500m high, then there is a huge amount of ice sitting on top, which COULD go crashing into the sea, causing a gigantic wave to funnel through the CAA, or across the NA and funnelling up the Scandinavian fjords – now that would be interesting! That's assuming that I think that a massive chunk of ice would break and fall into the sea. I'm not so sure, again. It would take very quick and very extreme warming to provide such instability. I have no scientific back-up on that, just using my logic! I completely agree with jonthed. If we've learnt nothing else from the scientific modelling and predictions over the last few decades, is that natural systems are fiendishly complex and will do what they will - more often than not quicker than we expected. Mere super-computer models can go jump. This would be far more comforting if there was a higher percentage of the models OVER-estimating the impacts – but I feel they mostly under-estimate them. I think the future of the GIS is best found in the Paleo-glaciology books - What happened to glaciers under similar conditions in the distant past? This gives a higher chance of telling us the outcomes of the multitude of positive and negative feedbacks that are in play, instead of just guessing (informed or otherwise) about their outcomes now. The fatal flaw in that is the likelihood that we are really in unprecedented times, so we have no paleo records that align with anything like todays conditions (with such a massive and rapid rise in GHGs – I think the rate of change is not discussed enough). But I also warn that we (as a species) tend to over-emphasise the current time, and think 'today' is unique, for instance believing we are the cleverest incarnation of humans ever - which I very much doubt!
George, The cost of replacing everything - in a similar manner to insurance - is impossible. We don't have enough resources to incrementally increase the amount of 'things' needed for the growing population as it is - which (assuming climate change/Arctic ice melt doesn't get us first) will stop civilisation before the end of the century (or at least as we know it). However, there are a couple of silver bullet technologies that might aid us, and prolong our way of life. I'm not sure what I think of these, and if they're realistic. But don't under-estimate the desire of the political and economic 'elites' to keep everything from going pop. I believe the ingenuity of human beings coupled with insanely rich vested interests can work to keep everything going, until they can't! But currently we are in not only a carbon-constrained world, but an oil-constrained world. There's just not enough cheap oil in the ground, and running through the pipes, to allow global growth like we saw for most of the last decade. This is a permanent fixture (thankfully for the climate!). We've eaten all the low hanging fruit, the middle hanging fruit is just about gone, and all we have left is the mouldy, shrivelled, difficult-to-get fruit that's being decimated by the prevailing climate. Once that's gone... ?
Toggle Commented Jul 26, 2013 on Arctic time bombs at Arctic Sea Ice
Klon - a very interesting piece of research regarding the Greenland Ice Sheet. If the inland ice in 2007-2008 was moving at 1.5 times the rate it was in 2000-2001, then with the increased melting in the last 5 or so years, including the virtually total surface melt of last year, the volumes of warmer melt water now under the entire GIS would be massively increased. It would be intriguing to know if the flow rate has increased as well. Living in Perth, Australia, sea level rise is important to us. We have some of the largest annual increases in SL in the world (or so I've been told) at 9mm per year. To me, it's starting to be visible. We sit at or even a little under seal level, and winter tides are increasingly high, with storm surges innundating the freeway along the river. I've worked in Climate Change policy for close to 10 years, and about 90% of all the science I've read over that time has said 'things are worse than expected'. IOCI - a scientific research group in Western Australia looked at our climate and impacts, and found that observations have been about 50% worse (more impact, quicker) than their very well developed models. ...and then I went and read about peak oil! whoops!
Toggle Commented Jul 26, 2013 on Arctic time bombs at Arctic Sea Ice
A-team - Correct me if I'm wrong (and I might be as the page isn't loading due to trying to see it on my work computer which is pretty rubbish), but the ice at the top of the image (Beaufort Sea) is very well fractured. Forgive my ignorance, but is this true colour? If so, it's a beautiful example of the difference in albedo of soild MYI and fractured FYI. It'll be very interetsting to see what's left once the storm clears.
Toggle Commented Jul 25, 2013 on Second storm at Arctic Sea Ice
Dan Ellis-Jones is now following Andy Lee Robinson
Jul 18, 2013
Looks like summer has arrived in Barrow. I've been watching the webcam and conditions there for a few weeks. I think it's melting out about on schedule - maybe a little late. The 3-day and 10-day animations are very informative, and give an interesting look at how sea ice reacts to changing conditions. The forecast (depending on where you look) says that it'll be above 10C and raining on Sunday - with a possibility of it being 15C+. Warm rain like that should probably wash out what's left. I have high expectations for Barrow to be (virtually) ice-free on Monday! I've noticed (being a newbie at all this!) that there is often very little swell/wave action in the Arctic, even in what seems to be stormy weather. Am I just looking at the wrong webcams at the wrong times, or is this a result of it being at the point of least rotation of the earth, or something of that ilk?
I know this is TOTALLY off topic, and probably off blog too - but has anyone noticed the continuous huge temperature anomalies in the Antarctic? It is winter down there (I'm in Perth AUS, so enjoying the cool weather - but unusually dry), but it's still a persistent and significant anomaly. It can be seen on the surface temperature anomaly maps in the graphs section. Anyone have any information/opinion on this? I’m thinking it might just be the difference between -50C and -30C, but it’s certainly interesting for us Southern Hemisphere folks! The current concentration in the Arctic is obviously lower over a much larger area than in recent years, judging by CT comparisons. But we've been waiting for 'the cliff' for a while now, and although it seems to be ramping up, every day we wait is another day less for rapid ice loss to catch up with 2012. And thank whatever belief system you have for that! But I get a feeling that we might wake up one morning and have lost a gigantic section of ice at some point in the next month. Also, I’d be interested to know if the very high temps over Alaska/Siberia are affecting the methane/CO2 levels in those areas yet – and if the native bears are having lovely, unusually warm, baths in the big rivers flowing into the Arctic basin!
As for my prediction... after reading comments, looking at weather patterns, witnessing the more average start of the melt season but taking into account the 'slushie' conditions of the ice... Sept average will be 4.4m km2 September low will be 4.1m km2 But my instinct is that it will counfound us all, but I'm not sure if that's by much less or much more ice loss than most expect.
Phil263 Yes, I agree with you on being cautious. I've been an avid reader of this blog for a few months now, and I'm a little concerned that there is an element of (totally unintended) 'Doom Porn'. I think the effect of looking at the melt season in the minutiae that this blog does can seem like we/you are almost urging the Arctic to melt out. I absolutely believe that this isn't the case for anyone who reads or posts here. I think it might be worth mentioning from time to time that we WANT to see the Arctic ice to bounce back. The reason this blog looks at each and every development is that there is an underlying reality that IF we are seeing a melt out of Arctic ice, the consequences are dire. The better and earlier we are informed, the greater our chance to adapt to a new climatic world. Frankly, I want the deniers to be right, but I can't ignore the science and the observations that point to dangerous changes to our climate, and thus our natural environment which is the basis of human existence (including the economy) on earth. Sadly it looks like the deniers are wrong.