One of the most exasperating mistakes made by Alarmists is their refusal to study history. Instead they steadfastly insist all is caused by CO2. For example, history teaches us that summer is followed by winter, but, the next time winter comes around, so blinding is their bias that Alarmists will see the next winter as having a new and alarming cause all prior winters lacked. This time it will be caused by CO2. Not only do they insist they know the cause, but they then invent the cause-and-effect out of whole cloth.
Basically Alarmists follow the rule, “If you can’t blind them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.” When confronted by a plaintive voice that asks, “You said there would be Global Warming, so why is it colder?” they put on a white lab coat to look scientific, hold up an index finger, and basically say, “You can’t understand because you haven’t looked hard at the numbers, and haven’t seen they need to be adjusted, and our adjustments show that actually it is warmer”. Or perhaps, “The increased heat causes more snow in the north, and the increased snow is floating south as bergs, so that the warmer it gets the colder it gets. Understood?” The problem with this ingenious excuse-making is that, when you look back in history, you can see the same thing happened in the past, which begs the question, “What caused it then, and is that cause happening again now?”
Once you study history you become aware of various cycles that influence the weather, (with much debate about how large and how regular the influences are).
Alarmists tend to pooh-pooh all other influences, calling them inconsequential, which seems rather odd, for at the same time they are saying a giant thing like the sun has no effect they are saying a very tiny change in the number of CO2 molecules, parts-per-million, has an enormous effect. Skeptics do not deny CO2 has an effect; the planet is indeed greener; but they question the denial of all other effects and cycles.
Things would be easier if we didn’t have a variable star, but our sun does have its cycles of sunspots. And things would also be easier if those sunspot cycles were neat and tidy, but they tend to be irregular, with the sun shifting from very active sunspot cycles to times when we see a “Quiet Sun”. The sun’s regularity likely creates oscillations in the world’s weather, even as the sun’s irregularity throws the same oscillations out of whack.
The current Quiet Sun seems to be messing with the oscillations between El Ninos and La Ninas, as the El Ninos seem stronger and the La Ninas weaker than expected. (Not that we are all that great at predicting them.) Also the Pacific oscillation (PDO) swung from warm to cold as expected, roughly a decade ago, but then unexpectedly spiked back to warm, and has been taking its sweet time getting back to cold, (though it may be trending that way this summer). Last but not least, the Atlantic oscillation (AMO) is not expected to turn cold for a few more years, but unexpectedly and dramatically shifted in that direction this summer.
The signature of a “cold” AMO is a backwards “C” of colder-than normal waters in the Atlantic. Recently the back of that “C” was broken by a blob of warmer-than-normal water that drifted east and pressed between England and France, but the rest of the “C” remains evident, repressing the development of hurricanes to a certain degree off western Africa, and most especially evident off the northeast coast of Canada and south of Greenland.
The colder water off Canada and Greenland historically leads to colder weather in Northeast Canada, which they have seen this year, with snows even as we had a heatwave not far to their south, in New England. The ice has been much slower to melt out of Hudson Bay than last year. (July 13, 2017 to left, July 13, 2018 to right)
It is a bit embarrassing to Alarmists to have this sea-ice sitting around in July, so they are likely busily inventing a theory from whole cloth even as I type. However all you need to do is study history to see the situation is not “Unprecedented”. A ship from Boston, early in Boston’s history, failed to get through the sea-ice into the bay in 1663, but the Nonsuch successfully entered the bay in 1668 and established the first Hudson Bay Trading Post at the mouth of Rupert River (the current town of Washaganish, Quebec.) So what does that give us; 370 years of history?
The trading posts had to be resupplied, and also furs needed to be onloaded, and we know the ships were not icebreakers. Therefore it is sheer foolishness to suggest the Bay was ice-bound in the past, and only recently has become ice-free. An early aerial picture of Fort York shows they were still using sailing ships as late as 1923.
However the historical record also shows there were occasional grim years when the posts could not be resupplied. If ice-bound years had been too common the enterprise would have become impractical, and perhaps traders would have starved. For the most part the Bay opened up in the summer; excessive sea-ice in July was the exception to the rule, and was likely caused by a cold AMO, just as we are seeing now.
In like manner, the chill is affecting Greenland. In July Greenland is experiencing the height of its melt, and usually gives Alarmists wonderful opportunities to take truly amazing pictures of the yearly phenomenon. At the peak of the melt, Greenland loses roughly 4 gigatons of ice to melting every day. Rivers of melt-water course across the surface of the ice.
In places these torrents plunge down holes called moulins, forming spectacular waterfalls, and then continue on as subterranean rivers.
Ice also flows off Greenland as massive glaciers, and during the summer enormous slabs calve off the ends into the sea, with some bergs “half the size of Manhattan”.
And of course all this melting is fodder for Alarmists, and gives the media a chance to write thrillingly sensational stuff about ice melting and seas rising.
However I think it’s wiser to not get too caught up in the hoopla, although it is fun, once in a while, to run around in circles waving your hands in a tizzy. It’s good exercise. But once you’re done it pays to calm down and catch your breath. And then ask a question or two. “How much ice usually melts? What is normal?”
The map to the right below shows the normal melt for July 14. You notice right away the melting is all at the edges. That is where all the photographs are taken for the newspapers. In the middle of Greenland the altitude is so high, (over 10,000 feet), that it almost never gets above freezing. Judging from the records of ice cores, only once in every 40 years does it get warm enough, on a windless summer day, to soften the snow a little. Not much; not enough to make rivulets or puddles, but enough to make a crust on the snow, when it refreezes, usually within hours. (When this last happened, in 2012 (I think) the media went completely berserk. They reported so inaccurately that you would have thought torrents, even mighty rivers, were coursing across the icecap. The actuality was that the snow softened for a couple hours. [yawn])
The map to the left shows what happened this year, on July 14. It set a record, but went unreported, for it was a record increase of snow, for the date.
What happened was that, likely due the cold AMO, heavy snow punched inland in west-central Greenland, reducing the melt in that area at the same time snow was added. In fact more was added than was subtracted, which means that rather than the icecap losing 4 gigatons, as is normal, it actually gained a little. This shows as the spike in the upper graph below. Notice how the spike moves above the area shaded gray, which shows the historical range, and enters record-setting territory.
The lower graph shows, with the blue line, how Greenland’s icecap is failing to melt much this summer. Usually it loses roughly 200 gigatons, and this year it has lost 5, so far. This is a failure on the part of reality to support the Alarmist’s narrative. (Bad reality. Bad! Go to your room.)
Also notice, in the graph above, how, on an average year, (gray line), Greenland gains more than it loses. It ends the year with nearly 400 gigatons more than it started. (A gigaton is a billion metric tons, and a metric ton is 1000 kilograms.) How many Manhattans is that? In any case, for Greenland to stay in “balance” 400 extra gigatons worth of iceburgs must calve off Greenland’s glaciers.
Lastly notice the red line in the graph above. 2011-2012 was a winter and summer that pleased the Alarmists greatly, for it supported their narrative. Nearly all the winter’s increase melted away that summer. There was a gain, but it was small, only around 25 gigatons. It wouldn’t take many calving icebergs the size of Manhattan to arrive at a net loss. And how many gigatons would it take to rise the oceans a milometer?
I can’t do the math, but I did find this after searching the web a bit: “A one mm increase in sea-level requires about 3.618 × 1014 kg = 361.8 Gt of meltwater”.
In other words, while a billion metric tons might seem like a lot, it is a speck of dust, compared to the enormity of the icecap and the oceans. Greenland’s icecap is estimated to be a total of 2,850,000 cubic kilometers of ice. How many gigatons is that? (You do the math for me, please.)
Therefore even a “good” year (for Alarmists) like 2011-2012 really doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, but last year was a “bad” year. Greenland’s icecap actually gained ice, according to NOAA:
Of course, NOAA speaks of the gain as if it is an exception-to-the-rule, but still it is a failure on the part of Mother Nature to support the narrative. And what tactic does an Alarmist use, when something doesn’t support the narrative?
1.) Change the subject. Turn the camera to where the ice is still melting, to dramatic waterfalls pouring into turquoise moulins. Focus the lens on the spectacular sight of a giant berg calving off a towering glacier. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. Don’t look at the summer snowstorms in Labrador, and the summer trout fishing camps struggling to dig free of snow.
The only problem is people can only be distracted and deflected so long, in which case it is time for…
2.) Invent a theory out of whole cloth. When people notice northern sandpipers can’t even lay their eggs because the snow hasn’t melted, figure out a way to blame the snow on warming. (Hat tip: Brett Keane)
Here is the money-quote: “Senner fears this nonbreeding year in eastern Greenland could herald an alarming trend. Climate Models predict the Arctic atmosphere will hold more moisture as global temperatures rise, he notes. A wetter atmosphere means more snow in winter and spring, potentially causing late snowmelt to interfere with shorebird reproduction. He says the bird populations should be resilient to a single poor breeding year like 2018 but worries what might happen if this year’s catastrophe becomes standard. “Even though things aren’t normally as extreme as the current situation in Greenland,” he says, “this is the kind of thing that seems to be happening more and more frequently across the Arctic””
Balderdash. First, the increase in winter moisture is in air so cold that you are talking about the difference between air that is only very, very dry, rather than very, very, very dry. Second, the amount of snow that falls from that dry atmosphere is small, only inches, and tundra usually swiftly melts such snows under 24-hour or near-24-hour sunshine that can bring heatwaves to the north. Third, the snow is now falling in the summer. I repeat, the summer. Fourth, temperatures are colder over Greenland and eastern Canada because the AMO is cold, not because the planet is a tenth of a degree warmer overall. Fifth, it is also colder at the Pole itself.
I’d like to help Alarmists out, but the simple fact polar temperatures remain so persistently below normal does suggest the Quiet Sun may be supplying less heat. The best I can do is to suggest it may be cloudier at the Pole, due to the low pressure I call “Ralph” reappearing and hanging about. Maybe we can concoct a theory out of whole cloth that explains Ralph is due to Global Warming, and that it is colder at the Pole because it is warmer. That would explain why the the sea-ice, despite having a head-start on other years last winter, is failing to melt as fast as other years.
And it also might explain why the ice is thicker than last year, especially along the coasts of Alaska and East Siberia. (2017 left; 2018 right)
But in the end there is little I can do for the poor Alarmists. It simply is a terrible year for them. All around there are signs of cooling, at least in the short term, but they must continue to genuflect to the emperor of funding, as if he wore clothes when it is increasingly obvious he is butt naked.