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back to article Melting Arctic leads to snowy winters

Georgia Tech has lobbed a small grenade into the climate change debate, with a study suggesting a correlation between melting Arctic pack ice and snowy winters in the Northern Hemisphere. The study, announced February 27, notes that above-average snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has been measured each year since 2007 (when …

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Meh

Well...

This is not a paradox. This is irony.

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FAIL

Love the way they wait until AFTER we have had the snowy winters to decide that....

Guess that means - since Winter in Scotland has not been as extreme snow wise as the last few years - the icecap isn't melting and therefore Global Warming must have stopped?

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Observations

It is always convenient when observations happen after the fact.

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You must have been hibernating the previous two winters Andrew - only this one was pathetic, the other two seemed to last for months.

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In the mountains north of Madrid, there has been hardly any snow this winter, and certainly less than the last 8 years. I normally have to break out the snow chains a few times, and snowmen tend to hang around for longer than a month.

Perhaps "Northern hemisphere" is rather a large area to generalise about weather? It seems to me that what's happened is that the UK got it all this year; and given the way that el niño and la niña tend to move precipitation around, maybe there is a cause and effect there. (However I think we still don't know the cause for el niño and la niña, so maybe fresh water injection into the ocean may play a part.)

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Re: Observations

"It is always convenient when observations happen after the fact"

Unless you're working on OPERA...

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Headmaster

Re: Observations

well you cant exactly observe anything until it IS happening, therefore you cant publish your observations until after the event !!

you can hypothesise your theory and then observe to see if your hypothesis is correct, or at least can't be disproved.

and that is indeed how science works.....

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Re: Observations

So observations should happen before the fact now? Brilliant, you've disproved special relativity and should be out making millions and inventing time travel not plying the climate deniers trade on supposed science blogs.

There is a method allowing climate observations to be proposed before the fact, they're called "climate models". You'd say they were junk as well I expect and get to whinge either way :)

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Anonymous Coward

Junk climate models

In 2005 Columbia University ran 9 climate models used by the IPCC. Every one of them predicted less winter snowfall.

Magically, after 7 years of increasing snowfall, these models have a few of their parameters tweaked and now predict increasing snowfall.

So yes, I would say the climate models are junk. They have no predictive ability and the parameters can be tweaked to show whatever you want. Whether it is rain, drought, high temperature, low temperature, more snow, less snow, just tweak them parameters and it fulfils your preconceived ideas.

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Which is exactly what I said - this winter has been mild and therefore global warming must of stopped. In the Borders the 4 winters preceding this one have been the worst we have seen for a long time.

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FAIL

Re: Observations

My point was simple -

we are constantly informed that the weather patterns of a few years are called WEATHER, the weather patterns over decades are called CLIMATE.

But now - magically - a few years worth of bad winters and suddenly it's proof of climate change.

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Anonymous Coward

so is the world getting warmer...

or is the cool just moving around?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: so is the world getting warmer...

Both, it's getting warmer and moving around. While Europe got buried in snow it's been rather scarce in many parts of Canada for years now.

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Re: so is the world getting warmer...

It’s a common misperception that global warming will mean that you will be able to grow pineapples in the Outer Hebrides, however initially the big difference will be more extreme weather as where will be more energy in the weather systems .

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Holmes

Oh Jesus

How long have you been told this is coming? It's easy really...you melt the ice...it changes the ocean's currents, a new ice age begins. Not hard. I have been telling you guys that the u.k. was going to be first for at least 3 years now. The only reason that island is habitable is becaus of the heat the oceans bring it. This isn't a surprise. Read a book already.

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Stop

Nurse! Nurse!!

He's stopped taking the tablets and he's shagging the vacuum cleaner again!

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or, watch the movie

'The day after tomorrow' - bilbo baggins was right all along ;-)

But, I agree - let's no longer call it global warming, let's call it global climate change...

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let's call it global climate change...

the 'global climate change' that's been an ongoing, ever-changing, natural process ever since the dirtball first acquired a 'climate'?

Sure.

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Re: or, watch the movie

Oh no, it's not even climate change anymore. It's 'moving to a low carbon economy'. Do keep up!

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Anonymous Coward

Oh Darwin...

you get my thumbs up Nanners....except for the "oh Jesus" in the heading.

As its a scientific matter under discussion then we are best leaving religion out of it as science and religion are mutually exclusive.

I therefore propose that the exclamation of "oh Jesus" should be replace with "oh Darwin" as it was he that really stuck it to the bible bashers in the best way possible !

and without a Darwin Icon, i will remain AC

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Holmes

What Am I Missing?

According to the article, Arctic ice loss was at its highest level in 2007.

Which is another way of saying that Arctic ice levels have been <i>increasing</i> since 2007.

Now we find that Northern Hemisphere winters have been becoming more severe during that same period but somehow we manage to conclude that the severe winters we see now are due to low Arctic ice levels 5 years ago?

Would it not be better to assume that the same thing that is currently increasing the Arctic ice levels is also responsible for the increasing severity of winters?

Or, to put it simply for the window lickers in the back row, <b>It is currently getting colder in the Northern hemisphere which causes Arctic ice to grow and winters to be more severe</b>

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Boffin

Re: What Am I Missing?

The article states that Arctic sea ice reached a minimum in 2007; this does not say anything about what has happened since then other than that it has not gotten as low again yet. You've assumed it's been continuously increasing for the last five years, which is not the case. The years with the lowest minimum sea ice extent are, in order: 2007, 2011, 2008, 2010, 2009, 2005, 2006, 2002, 2004, 1995. While 2007 was the absolute minimum, every year since then has still been lower than the previous record (2005).

(Data: http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/archives/index.html)

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Re: What Am I Missing?

Pretty much everything i'd say.... There are clues as to the analysis of cause and effect in some of the quotes from Georgia Tech et al such as

“Our study demonstrates that the decrease in Arctic sea ice area is linked to changes in the winter Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation,” said Judith Curry [..]. “The circulation changes result in more frequent episodes of atmospheric blocking patterns, which lead to increased cold surges and snow over large parts of the northern continents.”

or

"The researchers analyzed observational data collected between 1979 and 2010 and found that a decrease in autumn Arctic sea ice of 1 million square kilometers [..] corresponded to significantly above-normal winter snow cover in large parts of the northern United States, [NW] and central Europe, and northern and central China.

The analysis revealed two major factors that could be contributing to the unusually large snowfall in recent winters [..] which are both linked to diminishing Arctic sea ice. Strong warming in the Arctic through the late summer and autumn appears to be enhancing the melting of sea ice."

or

“We think the recent snowy winters could be caused by the retreating Arctic ice altering atmospheric circulation patterns by weakening westerly winds, increasing the amplitude of the jet stream and increasing the amount of moisture in the atmosphere,” explained Jiping Liu [..] “These pattern changes enhance blocking patterns that favor more frequent movement of cold air masses to middle and lower latitudes, leading to increased heavy snowfall in Europe and [..] the United States.”

or

"The simulations showed that diminishing Arctic sea ice induced a significant surface warming in the Arctic Ocean and Greenland/northeastern Canada, and cooling over northern North America, Europe, Siberia and eastern Asia. The models also showed above-normal winter snowfall in large parts of the northern United States, central Europe, and [N] and central China."

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Q: What Am I Missing? A: A brain apparently

"According to the article, Arctic ice loss was at its highest level in 2007.

Which is another way of saying that Arctic ice levels have been <i>increasing</i> since 2007."

No. For starters, the amount of loss has to depend on how much there is to lose - how much ice was lain down in winter. Less ice created in winter due to warming leaves less ice to melt. Overall the amount of sea ice has been in steady decline summer or winter. It's only the rate of loss that changes, not the loss overall.

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tgm
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Re: What Am I Missing?

"Which is another way of saying that Arctic ice levels have been <i>increasing</i> since 2007."

Err, no.

If I place three bets and I lose on all of them, if the first loss was the biggest, it doesn't mean the rest of my losses since then are somehow magically turned into winnings, does it?

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Facepalm

Let's just keep making shit up after the fact to explain anything that doesn't fit our "theory".

Ain't "science" grand?

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Anonymous Coward

For the record you're only allowed to finger quotes "science" and "theory" when referring specifically to Creationism , as there is very little of either in it.

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that is scientific theory

You have just described almost exactly how science works, as opposed to un-science which is "just keep googling shit until we find stuff on the internet that fits your preconceived world-view"

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Re: that is scientific theory

Ah, the Andrew Orlowski approach.

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Re: Re: that is scientific theory

There appears to be an assumption that the decreasing ice cover in the Arctic is all the result of the warming that has occurred, and not at least in part due to natural variation.. Historical records from ship voyages would indicate that there have been periods where summer Arctic ice cover has been at least as low as it is currently.

For the last decade or more we've been told that cold winters were a thing of the past. But now we're told they're a consequence of warming. Well, if the predictions of the consequences of warming are *this* good, how can we rely on anything else we're told about what might happen as temperatures rise.

Remember, the basic physics says that without feedback effects, a doubling of CO2 should give ~1c rise in global temperature. The rest of the IPCC predicted rise is FEEDBACK. We are a some way from being able to *accurately* estimate the actual rise in global temps we'll see from a doubling of CO2, and even further away from providing predictions of what that means in terms of the weather we'll get.

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Re: Oh dear.

It's too complex an idea to present to the hateradio crew, but global warming can cause temporary cooling in different areas. When you pump more energy into a chaotic system, as in global warming, you get more Extremes, which includes extreme cold, snow, and storms. That doesn't mean it's getting colder all over. Just that you tend to notice extremes a lot more. It's also a matter of PR. If the cold takes place in the civilized West we hear a lot about it. It if gets extremely hot in some godforsaken third world area, we don't. They could be dying like flies of 140 degree weather in some part of Africa and all we'd hear about is a cold winter in Massachussetts.

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@cybervigilante

"If the cold takes place in the civilized West we hear a lot about it. It if gets extremely hot in some godforsaken third world area, we don't. They could be dying like flies of 140 degree weather in some part of Africa and all we'd hear about is a cold winter in Massachussetts."

You might also go with snow in Algiers and Kabal.

While Afghanistan is noted for its wide temperature ranges this is a bit less common in the capital of Algeria.

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Linux

Re: Oh dear.

The Paradox is that Global Warming makes it colder some places. Carry on.

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WTF?

Re: Oh dear.

If you're going to claim that Curry is a denier, then I think you really ought to get up off your arse and show one thing she's posted that shows her denying that climate change/global warming is happening. Or provide a clear definition of what you actually mean by denier...

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Re: Re: Oh dear.

It's not a paradox, that word has only been used because the author of the Reg article is easily confused. Overall the planet warms. That leads to ice melting where ice is, and those cold flows disrupt the weather in geographically proximate locations (like the USA and Europe) causing extreme winters. Not rocket science kids. In fact it sounds suspiciously like logic.

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FAIL

Re: Oh dear.

Quick tell the IPCC Curry has been an editor on the last couple of assessment reprots and is a reviewer on the upcoming one

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Happy

Well that seems all a little strange.

Didn't we read recently reports claiming that the Arctic ice is not vanishing as fast as had been alleged? Or am I simply confused by all the conflicting reports/arguments? On a personal note I live in a town well north of the Arctic circle on a island just off the Norwegian mainland well known for being the nation's largest "snow hole" (to translate the local nickname literally) and I cannot say that we have noticed any increase over the last decade and a half or so (though God knows we get enough anyway - perhaps its about time the rest of you guys had your share :-P).

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EWI

Re: Well that seems all a little strange.

"Didn't we read recently reports claiming that the Arctic ice is not vanishing as fast as had been alleged? Or am I simply confused by all the conflicting reports/arguments?"

I think you're referring to this:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/antarctica-gaining-ice.htm

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Headmaster

Pedantry

"The moisture lost to the Arctic in the form of melting sea ice has to end up somewhere" - that would be the Arctic Ocean. More exposed ocean water does mean more evaporation and eventually precipitation, but there isn't necessarily any relationship between the quantity of sea ice lost and the increased quantity of precipitation.

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Re: Pedantry

It is not just the quantities and balance if evaporation and perceiptitation but also the changes in temperature gradients in different seasons. If the Artic ice melts due to an increase in mean temperature in the region then both ocean currents, likew the Gulf Stream and major air currents, like the jet streams, may change in both velocity and direction. Hence areas such as the UK and north west Eurpoe will find that an increase in global mean temperature can easily result in a decrease in local mean winter temperature. No paradox, no inconsistency, just the application of knowledge and current scientific models.

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everyone talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it

While everyone is arguing about global warming - largely for political, nonscientific reasons, nothing is done. I have a feeling our descendants will be cursing us, saying "Those a**holes!"

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Don't breed then - no descendants to be cursing you then ;)

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another topic for hateradio

Oh well, something more for corporate-paid Hateradio blatherers and the climate-denier morons who repeat its memes, to jump on. Science is now determined not by truth or experiment, but by politics

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Re: another topic for hateradio

"Science is now determined not by truth or experiment, but by politics"

Funny, that's what the right has been saying for at least the past two decades...

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WTF?

Snowy winters?

We had much more snow than this when I was a boy.

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Big Brother

Re: Snowy winters?

Please report to room 101 for re-education

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Holmes

Re: Snowy winters?

You were shorter then.

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Re: Snowy winters?

I agree but now we get large snow falls and then it melts in a week or two. When I was a kid, the snow wouldn't melt until spring. So we had more snow on the ground but less snow fall over all. Last year my city was shut down because of a blizzard which hasn't happened since 1979, which was more about blowing snow, than snow fall like last year.

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