Today’s NOAA Image: Cold Continents/Warm Arctic continues

December 22, 2010

A quick glance at this NOAA generated image shows how the Arctic warming/continental cooling situation remains over North America and Eurasia.

If you compare this to my recent postings on the topic, you’ll see that the arctic warm anomaly is even more extreme in the current 5 day average, covering a wider area and especially intense around the Northern Canada/Hudson Bay area.

Meanwhile, further reporting on the issue helps clarify some of the paradox.

The culprit, according to a new study, is the Arctic’s receding surface ice, which at current rates of decline could to disappear entirely during summer months by century’s end.

The mechanism uncovered triples the chances that future winters in Europe and north Asia will be similarly inclement, the study reports.

Rising temperatures in the Arctic – increasing at two to three times the global average – have peeled back the region’s floating ice cover by 20 percent over the last three decades.

This has allowed more of the Sun’s radiative force to be absorbed by dark-blue sea rather than bounced back into space by reflective ice and snow, accelerating the warming process.

More critically for weather patterns, it has also created a massive source of heat during the winter months.

“Say the ocean is at zero degrees Celsius,” said Stefan Rahmstorf, a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

“That is a lot warmer than the overlying air in the polar area in winter, so you get a major heat flow heating up the atmosphere from below which you don’t have when it is covered by ice. That’s a massive change,” he told AFP in an interview.

The result, according to a modelling study published earlier this month the Journal of Geophysical Research, is a strong high-pressure system over the newly-exposed sea which brings cold polar air, swirling counter-clockwise, into Europe.



Update: Joe Romm points to this image from the Danish Meteorological Institute, showing dramatic warming of Arctic temps.

6 Responses to “Today’s NOAA Image: Cold Continents/Warm Arctic continues”


  1. […] the graph above shows, the pattern that has been in effect over the last month continues, with cold arctic air flowing out of polar […]


  2. […] polar regions. For two winters in a row, unusual and striking weather systems have aligned to spill winter cold out of the arctic, where in most years it has historically been bottled up, and draw warm air up into the northern […]


  3. […] polar regions. For two winters in a row, unusual and striking weather systems have aligned to spill winter cold out of the arctic, where in most years it has historically been bottled up, and draw warm air up into the northern […]


  4. […] polar regions. For two winters in a row, unusual and striking weather systems have aligned to spill winter cold out of the arctic, where in most years it has historically been bottled up, and draw warm air up into the northern […]


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