2013melt

Jason Box’s Meltfactor blog:

We’ve made it to the middle of the melt season 2013. It’s been a roller coaster for Greenland climate in 2013.

The year started out with an astonishing low albedo from a snow drought that made huge melt possible. Yet this was punctuated by the return of snow late April and prolonged low temperatures as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) shifted from persistent negative that had been causing west Greenland temperatures to be abnormally warm while Copenhagen thad its coldest late winter and early spring in decades. The dipole in temperatures between NW Europe and W Greenland has been recognized for more than a century and called the “seesaw” in temperature (van Loon and Rogers, 1978).

Like in 2012, melt came on strong by early June but was shut down again by abnormally low temperatures, accompanied by additional snowfalls [1, Ruth Mottram, Danish Meteorological Institute, personal communication] in some areas, that lasted until mid July. The key difference between 2013 and the previous 6 summers (2007-2012) is the absence of a persistent negative NAO that drove south air over Greenland, heating it while promoting clear skies that maximized the impact of surface darkening through the albedo feedback (Box et al. 2012). With this much of a delayed start, the albedo feedback has not had enough time to produce strong melt. Given now that we are at the mid point of the melt season, it is too late now for 2013 to produce melting anywhere nearly as large as we saw in 2012.

The NASA MODIS data indicate that the 2013 Greenland mid melt season (mid-July) albedo is at its lowest in 4 years; behind 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.(above)

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maverick

It took me days to get a look at the Rolling Stone article from Jeff Goodell, who joined Dark Snow Project for several days in late June. The turnaround was lightning quick for a magazine piece – the issue hit newstands last week.
Unfortunately, not all newstands.
Due to negative reactions around the magazine’s cover shot of the surviving Boston bomber, a number of retailers will not stock this issue.  Makes it pretty tough to find – so I had to subscribe to be able to get behind the paywall when the online version finally came out the other day.

bomberJeff is a great writer, and as a  researcher who’s already done heavy lifting on coal and climate change, a great choice to fill the spot vacated when Bill Mckibben had to drop out of the trip at the last minute. Jeff flew to Kangerlussuaq with us, where we found out we had transport problems – then up to Ilulisat, where we finagled an Air Greenland helo that took us on our first trip  to the ice sheet, along the Ilulisat glacier calving wall.

Which makes it all the more frustrating that Goodell’s great article got lost in the rather overblown kerfuffle over the cover photo.

Redding Record-Searchlight blog:

I am a subscriber to Rolling Stone and now possess one of the most hated issues of a magazine ever published in the history of America. I love Boston. It is one of my favorite cities in the U.S. and out of respect to her citizens who have suffered so much, maybe I should burn this issue. But I’m not going to.

Because inside this particular magazine with the Boston Marathon Bomber’s picture on the cover is an article about Jason Box, a Greenland ice climatologist who has had twenty-four expeditions to Greenland in the last twenty years and “spent more than 1 year camping on the inland ice.”

Box has also “Installed and maintained a network of more than 20 automatic weather stations on Greenland’s inland ice in expeditions spanning 1994-2008.”

Calling him “The Ice Maverick,” Rolling Stone‘s Jeff Goodell wrote, “Greenland’s ice sheets are melting faster than anyone predicted. Climatologist Jason Box has a radical theory why — and even more radical ideas about upending the global warming science establishment.”

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Dr. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers has become one of our most valuable players on the communication side of climate science.

I’m happy to see she had a chance to testify last week before the  Environment and Public Works Committee chaired by Senator Boxer. A worthy way to spend 5 minutes. Good for her, for calling out those she diplomatically refers to as “climate misleaders”.

I have not had the chance to review the whole hearing yet, but as I find other gems, will post here.

PDF of testimony here.

In a walking tour of Nuuk, Greenland’s capital, Jason Box pointed to some modest cottages perched on rocks overlooking the water. “These people are wealthy.” he told us. “That is high end real estate, worth millions.”  It seemed a long way from Manhattan or Malibu – but one does have a sense that some formerly neglected and undesirable places in the world could see a change in coming decades.

Fast CoExist:

Fabulously wealthy British futurist James Martin spoke about climate change at New York’s Lincoln Center and how it will change global population patterns in one of his last public appearances before passing away on June 30 at 79 years of age. Martin, who donated more than $150 million to Oxford University and lived on his own private Bermudan island, believed one of the biggest land booms in history is on its way–and it will happen in less than 100 years.

At the June 15 Global Future 2045 conference, Martin explained that events like Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina will hit major American cities harder and more frequently because of climate change. Scientists and politicians have even come to the conclusion that whole countries such as Mauritius and Tuvalu will need to evacuate due to rising sea levels. But while coastlines in much of the world may suffer, climate change will be a positive development in some areas. Specifically, Canada; northern Europe; Russia; Alaska; Patagonia, Argentina; and southern Africa may all experience real estate booms. These booms, he claimed, will be in “Climate Change Cities” with military fortifications catering to an increasingly displaced global elite.

The idea of climate change-triggered mass migration has been around for a long time. Martin’s idea of climate-change cities centers around migration by the upper and upper middle class, but politicians, charities, and bureaucrats worldwide have quietly (and not so quietly) been gearing up for a torrent of refugees fleeing newly inhabitable lands.

This past June, Pacific Ocean island nations hosted a summit on climate change migration where best practices to evacuate thousands upon thousands of people were discussed. For the guests assembled on the island of Rarotonga, the big question was what happens when sea levels rise to a point where island populations simply can’t support themselves. Instead of being discussed as a science fiction hypothetical, the question was treated with steely reality.

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The most amazing thing about 2012 in the arctic was how un-amazing it was in terms of weather and warming – yet ice last year plunged to a stunning new low, most likely because the ice has become so thin and fragile that even the wear and tear of a normal year are enough to devastate the ice pack.

This year’s melt season has trended only a little below the 1981 – 2010 average up until about mid-june, then taken a dramatic downward turn.  If it does not level off, ice loss will soon match the 2012 pace.

nsidc720

Washington Post:

It’s not clear if 2013 levels will match 2012′s astonishing record low, but – with temperatures over the Arctic Ocean 1-3 degrees above average – the 2013 melt season has picked up in earnest during July.

“During the first two weeks of July, ice extent declined at a rate of 132,000 square kilometers (51,000 square miles) per day. This was 61% faster than the average rate of decline over the period 1981 to 2010 of 82,000 square kilometers (32,000 square miles) per day,” the National Snow and Ice Data Center writes on its website.

Despite this rapid ice loss, the current mid-July 2013 sea ice extent is greater than 2012 at the same time by about 208,000 square miles NSIDC says.

Financial Times  (registration required):

Arctic shipping is set for a record year, underlining how melting sea ice is raising the prospect of an important new route for trade between Asia and Europe that shaves thousands of kilometres off the trip.

As of Friday, the administrators of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) – which follows the north coast of Russia – had granted permission to 204 ships to sail this year. In 2012, only 46 ships sailed the entire length from Europe to Asia, up from four vessels just two years earlier.

Arctic Sea Ice Blog:

Commenter Danp opened a thread on the ASIF a couple of days ago, showing a cleaned up compilation he made of LANCE-MODIS satellite images (like commenter dabize did last year). The result looks very nice indeed, giving us a clear view of the holes on the Atlantic side of the Arctic, near the North Pole:

iceholes

Ice experts weigh in – but those swiss-cheese like holes near the pole appear to be signs that we could see a dramatic disintegration later in the summer.

Arctic Sea Ice Blogger Neven adds the animation shown at the top of this post with this note:

At the same time Dutch blogger Lars Boelen has combined images from the all-new high-resolution sea ice concentration maps that are put out by the University of Hamburg (discussed a couple of weeks ago in this blog post)
To see the most recently updated video, check out Lars’ YouTube channel. He tries to update the video on a daily basis.

Below, last year’s Sea Ice Minimum video:

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Discussed here, along with cautions for the hot season, by Paul Douglas.

ClimateCentral:

The heat wave that has built across the eastern U.S. — roasting cities from Memphis to Washington to Boston in a stifling blanket of heat and humidity — has had one strange characteristic that meteorologists cannot yet explain in a long-term climate context. Rather than moving west to east, as typical weather patterns do in the Northern Hemisphere, weather systems across the country have moved in the opposite direction, like a drunken driver on a dark stretch of highway, drifting from east to west during the past two weeks.

The heat wave that has built across the eastern U.S. — roasting cities from Memphis to Washington to Boston in a stifling blanket of heat and humidity — has had one strange characteristic that meteorologists cannot yet explain in a long-term climate context. Rather than moving west to east, as typical weather patterns do in the Northern Hemisphere, weather systems across the country have moved in the opposite direction, like a drunken driver on a dark stretch of highway, drifting from east to west during the past two weeks.

The air flow heading in the opposite direction across the U.S. is abnormal, as is the strength of the dome of high pressure. In recent years there have been numerous instances of strong and long-duration high pressure areas that have led to extreme weather events, including the Russian heat wave of 2010. According to NOAA, scientists are scheduled to meet at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in September to explore whether such “monster ridges” of high pressure are becoming more frequent or more intense as the atmosphere warms in response to manmade greenhouse gas emissions.

Jon Gottschalck acting chief of the Operational Prediction Branch atNOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, told Climate Central in an email that it’s not yet clear exactly how unusual the recent weather pattern has been, or what has been driving it. “Yes, the evolution you describe of the upper-level low and high pressure ridge moving east to west is definitely unusual. But it is not easy to quantify really how unusual,” he said.

“It would take considerable time to crunch through the data and utilize a methodology to accurately pick events like this that have occurred in the historical record and quantify [them]. From a climate-forcing perspective, there is no clear climate pattern right now that we can point to as a contributing factor and so we can really only attribute this evolution to natural internal variability, at least at this stage.”