A freak heatwave has pushed the North Pole temperature to above freezing, about 20°C above average.
An Arctic monitoring point 300 kilometres from the Pole that had been recording -37°C on Monday had shot up to -8°C by Wednesday.
Winter began on both sides of the Atlantic with exceptional warmth. This image shows the temperature anomaly (in Fahrenheit) over the USA from 1-19 December:
At the Austrian ski resort of Grossarltal there was a stark difference in the snow conditions compared with the previous year:
It shows 10°C heat reaching right into the Arctic. And that means rain. To robertscribbler rain in winter means the end of winter as he knew it:
As the first front of warm air proceeded over the ice pack to the north of Svalbard, the rains fell through 35-40 degree (F) air temperatures. It splattered upon Arctic Ocean ice that rarely even sees rain during summer-time. Its soft pitter-patter a whisper that may well be the sound to mark the end of a geological age.
For we just don’t see rain over Arctic sea ice north of Greenland during Winter time. Or we used to not. But the warmth that liquid water falling through the black of what should be a bone-cold polar night represents something ominous. Something ushered to our world by human fossil fuel industry’s tremendous emission of heat trapping gasses. Gasses that in the range of 400 ppm CO2 and 485 ppm CO2e are now strong enough to begin to roll back the grip of Winter. Gasses, that if they keep being burned until we hit a range between 550-650 ppm CO2 (or equivalent) will likely be powerful enough to wipe out Winter as we know it entirely over the course of long and tumultuous years of painful transition.
What does the beginning of the end of Winter sound like? It’s the soft splash of rain over Arctic Ocean sea ice during what should be its coldest season.
Inevitably the question of links with climate change will be raised. This article takes a look.
- climate change has increased the chances of Desmond-like storms by about 40 per cent – give or take a rather large margin of error.
And with each degree of temperature rise the atmosphere can hold 7% more water.
Other than that you’ll have to wait and see. Is this the new normal? No, ‘normal weather’ is a thing of the past.
You’ll be happy to know that there is no trend in the numbers of category 5 global tropical cyclones, although the numbers in the last two years have been high. But then Desmond, Eva and Frank were extratropical cyclones, and I’ve not seen the numbers for them.
Update: I’ve added here the mean anomaly for the Australian temperatures for 2015, from this BOM site. The reference temperature is the 1961-1990 period, which would of course already contain considerable warming:
Update 2: In view of the comments I’ve added an image of the early October temperature anomalies from this post by two Australian scientists: