What we are seeing, here and now, is the transformation of the atmospheric physics of this planet.
This great dissolution, of ice and certainties, is happening so much faster than most climate scientists predicted...
The melting disperses another belief: that the temperate parts of the world – where most of the rich nations are located – will be hit last and least, while the poorer nations will be hit first and worst. New knowledge of the way in which the destruction of the Arctic sea ice affects northern Europe and North America suggests that this is no longer true. A paper published earlier this year in Geophysical Research Letters shows that Arctic warming is likely to be responsible for the extremes now hammering the once-temperate nations.
The north polar jet stream is an air current several hundred kilometres wide, travelling eastwards around the hemisphere. It functions as a barrier, separating the cold, wet weather to the north from the warmer, drier weather to the south. Many of the variations in our weather are caused by great travelling meanders – or Rossby waves – in the jet stream.
Arctic heating, the paper shows, both slows the Rossby waves and makes them steeper and wider. Instead of moving on rapidly, the weather gets stuck. Regions to the south of the stalled meander wait for weeks or months for rain; regions to the north (or underneath it) wait for weeks or months for a break from the rain. Instead of a benign succession of sunshine and showers, we get droughts or floods.
The warming of the Arctic appears to be changing the trajectory of the jet stream in certain seasons, leading to more persistent weather patterns. The solid line represents a typical jet stream trajectory, and the dashed line represents the expected northward elongation of the waves in the jet stream in response to Arctic warming. Image and description from Linking Weird Weather to Rapid Warming of the Arctic
Peter Sinclair has put together an excellent video for the Yale Forum on why even the modest 1°C warming we’ve seen over the past century can cause a disproportionally large shift in our weather systems.
This video explains what happens with Rossby waves as the planet warms, though the name isn't used.
It's relevant today, since part of why Sandy is a frankenstorm is that a high pressure area over Greenland is three standard deviations above normal.
Thank you Ruth for posting this important video.
Yes, that is correct - that just a 1°C warming can affect the ecosystem. Many people not versed in science just don't understand how fragile the ecosystem really is.
The merger of Sandy with "a vortex center associated with an extra-tropical storm", turns out to mean that one of the deep Rossby waves bringing cold air from the Arctic will "dance" with Sandy, in what's called the Fujiwhara Effect. It's like two spinning vortices in a river orbiting around one another and then merging. Here's an animation.
Central and Eastern US residents, get ready for cold!
See this computer model prediction of Feb 2013 weather.
Yes, it's Climate Change. Here's the story:
... a “sudden stratospheric warming event,” started on Jan. 6, but is something that is just beginning to have an effect on weather patterns across North America and Europe.
Sudden stratospheric warming events occur when large atmospheric waves, known as Rossby waves, extend beyond the troposphere where most weather occurs, and into the stratosphere. This vertical transport of energy can set a complex process into motion that leads to the breakdown of the high altitude cold low pressure area that typically spins above the North Pole during the winter, which is known as the polar vortex.
The polar vortex plays a major role in determining how much Arctic air spills southward toward the mid-latitudes. When there is a strong polar vortex, cold air tends to stay bottled up in the Arctic. However, when the vortex weakens or is disrupted, like a spinning top that suddenly starts wobbling, it can cause polar air masses to surge south, while the Arctic experiences milder-than-average temperatures.
During the ongoing stratospheric warming event, the polar vortex split in two, allowing polar air to spill out from the Arctic, as if a refrigerator door were suddenly opened.
As the polar stratosphere warms, high pressure builds over the Arctic, causing the polar jet stream to weaken. At the same time, the midlatitude jet stream strengthens, while also becoming wavier, with deeper troughs and ridges corresponding to more intense storms and high pressure areas.
When the vortex becomes dislodged from the pole, Cohen said, it can lead to a flow of air that is more north to south than west to east. “So when the warm air rushes the pole it displaces the cold air over the pole and forces it equatorward,” Cohen said.
This has major implications for U.S. winter weather. [emphasis mine]
Bundle up, folks.
We know that melting Arctic Ice is behind the Rossby wave blocking patterns that give us alternating drought and flood. That regime is going to worsen until it switches to a new more horrific one. After glacial melt from Greenland reaches a tipping point, ice bergs will flood the North Atlantic. Meanwhile the tropics will be warmer. The increased temperature difference will drive continent-size fronts as strong as hurricanes.
By that time, I should be gone. Good luck to the next generation. It sounds like a disaster movie.
Such a climate regime of more persistent patterns of either extreme wet, cold, stormy weather or extreme warm, dry, drought conditions is likely to amplify as sea ice continues to recede and melt out. These conditions will probably worsen until glacial melt from Greenland reaches a tipping point. Once this tipping point is reached, cold ice bergs will invade the North Atlantic, pushing the cold air pole south and concentrating much colder air around the region of Greenland and the North Atlantic. At the same time that the North Atlantic becomes colder, the tropics become warmer. The result is a rapid acceleration of the polar jet in the region of the Atlantic Ocean. The large temperature differentials caused by this new climate state are likely to drive very powerful storms. It was the potential for such conditions to emerge by or after the mid 21rst Century that inspired Dr. James Hansen to write his ground breaking book “The Storms of My Grandchildren.”
After the current blocking pattern regime switches to the rapid Greenland ice melt regime, Dr. Hansen warns of the potential for ‘continent size frontal storms that pack the strength of hurricanes.’ Such storms would make Sandy seem like kitten’s play. [emphasis mine]
The UK is experiencing another blocking event from the wavier jet stream.
The Met Office predicted a month's worth of rain in a day and colder than usual conditions across the UK this week.
“It certainly looks like the jet stream will remain further south than normal for the next nine days.
“Last summer’s unsettled weather was also due to the jet stream being further south than normal.”
One theory is that the jet stream is being pushed south by melting ice from the Arctic, caused by climate change.
Global warming also means warmer seas, that means more water evaporating, and hence more moisture in the air and heavier rainfall when it does come.
After last year’s summer the Met Office, warned climate change could mean more wet cold summers.
Rossby waves causing weather whiplash.
The jet is continually rippling with U-shaped troughs of low pressure that allow cold air to spill southwards. The troughs are counterbalanced by upside-down-U-shaped ridges of high pressure that bring warm air northwards. When these ridges and troughs grow to unusually large amplitude, record extremes of both cold and heat occur adjacent to each other.
Sioux City, Iowa ... hit an astonishing 106° yesterday. Not only was this their hottest temperature ever measured in the month of May, but only two June days in recorded history have been hotter (June, 10, 1933: 107° and June 21, 1988: 108°.) On May 12th they registered 29°, and thus had a 77° rise over 56 hours (from 6 a.m. May 12 to 1:30 p.m May 14.) [emphasis mine]
"Instead of a benign succession of sunshine and showers, we get droughts or floods."
"By Yale Climate Forum – February 2013 – Video
"One of the most feared of climate change "feedbacks" is the potential release of greenhouse gases by melting arctic permafrost soils. New research indicates a critical threshold of that feedback effect could be closer than we once thought. Dr. Kevin Schaefer explains the issue."
I have concern that some of those interviewed us the "if" word instead of the "when" word. It is no longer if global warming is occurring and if it is human made, over which we have some control. However, compounding the problems are the natural processes that release methane or CO2, over which we have no control.
I think we have all been concerned about the role the Chamber of Commerce has taken in the past, denying that global warming occurs and is human made. That appears to be changing now. Why? Because of the extremely high cost of doing business with the changing weather patterns. Perhaps they get the picture and know that we can no longer do business as usual.
"How do large corporations positioning themselves as leaders in environmental sustainability handle differences with their Washington trade associations’ opposition to climate and energy policies to cut carbon emissions?
"LAGUNA NIGUEL, CALIF. – In 2009 the U.S. Chamber of Commerce saw some big name departures. Apple and Mohawk Paper resigned their memberships because they were at odds with the Chamber’s position against reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Utility companies Pacific Gas & Electric, PNM Resources, and Exelon also quit, and Nike resigned from the Chamber’s board, but not from its membership.
"These were big names, but it wasn’t a mass departure. Many folks stayed. Despite adopting environmental sustainability practices to reduce their climate footprints, limit water use, and improve energy efficiency, large corporate leaders in sustainability continue to be affiliated with organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Legislative Exchange Council, both of which oppose climate policies and renewable energy standards. How do business sustainability leaders tolerate such core differences?
"Much has changed since 2009. Many business leaders no longer question climate change as an economic imperative. That debate is over, and so too is much of the science debate. Look no further than the recent “FORTUNE Brainstorm Green” conference for evidence: CEOs and senior executives from General Motors, Procter & Gamble, General Mills, and other Fortune 500 companies participated in a three-day session focusing on innovative approaches to corporate sustainability, energy, and investments in the future economy. Additionally, GM is among 40 companies now calling for the White House and Congress to act on global warming. GM’s bold gesture signing the Climate Declaration, an initiative of a business coalition group at Ceres, prompted much discussion among senior executives attending the “Brainstorm Green” conference.
|CERES President Lubber: Costs from storm damages a wakeup call for business interests.|
"Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, says the financial burden from climate and related storm damage is a wakeup call for the business sector."
May 15, 2013
This is somewhat encouraging, Joan. Thanks for posting it.