What The Snow Says

I was reading this article about Snowzilla at WUWT:


and it had this graph in it of North American Snow Extent:

North America Snow Extent

North America Snow Extent

OK, I’m staring at it and notice first off that the trend line is rising. These kinds of graphs can be subject to ‘end effects’ where if you take a period shorter than one cycle you get various ’tilts’ from sampling a cycle at less than a full period. Even over a period, you can get biases (for example, if you sample with 1.5 periods and are careful to pick it so you get 1/4 low 1/2 hi 1/2 low 1/4 high you will get a nice uptrend line). So you look at partial cycles and check for that. We were cold through the 60’s and most of the ’70s. We were hot for the ’80s & ’90s, and in 2000 the PDO flipped back to cold.

Look at that graph again, and look for the “Start to about 1980” drop in temps and rise in snow (up to the first two lines that spike up – click on the graph for a larger clearer version). Then look for the “late ’70s to 2000 rise in temps / drop in snow” as rough half cycles.

Now look at that rise from 2000 to date. It’s quite a spike of cold and snow. The last 4 years are all over the trend line and all over 17.

The only other period on the graph that comes close is 1982-86 where 4 go ‘over the line’ but with a dud in the middle. I’d like to get the data for this chart and make a 3 segments graph with 3 fit lines. (If anyone else knows where to get it, that would be an interesting “Dig Here!”) For now, a visual estimate makes it look to me like we are having snow extent increase at a rate not seen in all of the last cycle and that it is clearly an opposite behaviour from the “hot” 1970-2000 interval. If that ‘drop’ from about 1987 to 2000 was due to warming, then the rise from 2000 to date is an indicator of cooling.

So for all those AGW Warmers saying “hot is making it snow more”, one question:

WHY did it snow less in the 1970-2000 interval and only reverse trend to more as the PDO turned cold?

At best you can make the case that the snow is ‘trendless’ over very long terms as it has high year to year variablity (but that, too, means AGW is a mindless ‘explanation’ of snow); at worst, we are headed to one heck of a lot more snow in the next decade as the sun continues it’s low energy state.

Subscribe to feed

About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in AGW and Weather News Events and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to What The Snow Says

  1. mt says:

    I would look at the arctic oscillation against NH snow cover




    A negative AO allows for cold arctic air to flow south, setting up for generating and maintaining snow cover. There are obviously a lot of factors that would go into snow cover, but the AO seems to (by eye) correlate fairly well with snow cover. 1980/81 are exceptions, but generally negative through early 70’s, positive in the mid 70’s, negative late 70’s through mid 80’s, then sharply positive trending negative.

  2. George says:

    We don’t know if it is trendless over very long terms because we only came out of the LIA in the 1800’s. If you go back far enough in time, you end up falling into the LIA which was an extraordinary event.

    My guess is that there really isn’t much of a “normal”. Climate looks to vary from significantly warm periods to significantly cold periods. The 60 year PDO cycles just don’t accumulate enough repetitions in either of those kinds of periods to be noticed by itself.

  3. Tim Clark says:

    EM: I couldn’t open this link embedded in this paragraph. Came from Eric’s blog: “Eruptions”. Looked interesting.

    Climate and volcanoes: There is strong evidence of the direct effect that volcanism can have on climate. So, it should be no surprise that there are a couple of “interesting” articles I noticed this morning that are trying to connect the cold winter and bad storms with volcanic activity. The first links ash from the six active volcanoes in Kamchatka with causing the Arctic to become colder and the Arctic winds pushing southward.

  4. George says:

    There have been some eruptions in Kamchatka but not nearly enough for stratospheric injection to take place. The tropopause is around 8km altitude at those latitudes this time of year and the ash plumes are only around 4km. It takes stratospheric injection of material to have any significant impact on climate globally. The thing is that the stratosphere doesn’t work like the troposphere. The higher you go, the warmer the atmosphere gets. So the higher up something gets into the stratosphere, the warmer it becomes. It gets difficult for it to precipitate out as most clouds don’t penetrate the tropopause and the stratosphere is pretty dry. What clouds form in the stratosphere (nacreous clouds) generally only form in winter and don’t result in precipitation.

    Once stuff gets injected into the stratosphere, it can remain there for a long time. Tropospheric volcanic emissions are washed out very quickly. The thing with the tropopause being so low in the winter near the poles is that a plinian eruption at high latitude injects more material into the stratosphere than does an eruption closer to the equator where the tropopause might be 16km above the surface.

    A Pinatubo-sized eruption happening on Kamchatka would have a much greater impact than one happening in Indonesia or the Philippines because more material will be injected into the stratosphere at Kamchatka (or Alaska or Iceland).

  5. George says:

    Actually, a better way of putting it that it takes a much smaller volcano to inject as much material into the stratosphere at high latitude (particularly in winter). The eruption column of Pinatubo was 35 kilometers so it just blasted right through the tropopause.

  6. John F. Hultquist says:

    Short term (personal formative years and recent lifetime) data are what most folks process. That’s why they get so agitated about a couple or more years of anything unusual. If you point out that the trend they see is not unprecedented, but part of long-cycled patterns their eyes glaze over. They have no sense of history about this stuff.

    I took a history of Europe class in college many years ago. Mostly it consisted of learning dates of events and the big shots involved (kings, queens, generals, and so on). I promptly forgot most of it.

    I much prefer the sort of information provided in the link below (I think the date is late 1970s). It fits with my notion that plants integrate climate, even though they do not measure and record temperature.

    Click to access Arctic29-1-38.pdf

    Historical Aspects of the Northern Canadian Treeline
    ABSTRACT “From palynological studies it appears that northernmost dwarf spruces of the tundra and parts of the forest-tundra boundary may be relicts from times of prior warmth, and if klled might not regenerate. This disequilibrium may help explain the partial incongruence of modern climatic limits with the present forest edge. Seedlings established as a result of recent warming should therefore be found within the northernmost woodlands rather than in the southern tundra.

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    @John F Hultquist:

    I agree on the plants thing. Plants never lie… sometimes we don’t know how to listen to them properly, but they are very honest.

    Once, long ago, I read of a lone tree, a Cypress I think, somewhere in the Sahara. A leftover from when the place had been well watered. The roots were some hundreds of feet deep and into a watertable that could not be reached by any new growth. It was a “left over” testimonial to times gone by, waiting for rains to return so it’s seeds could grow.

    I’ve wished, from time to time, that I could gather some seeds from it and propagate them elsewhere. It deserves a reward for it’s stubbornness…. I hope it is still alive.

    I fear it may have been this one:


    but I hope it was one of these:


    Ah well, so much to do, so little time…

    but yes, trees tell us what was by the way the adults persist after the seeds fail to take root…

    An interesting bit from that last link with implications for tree rings as climatology tools:

    A recent study by Abdoun has shown that young cypress trees can take quick advantage of even extremely brief wet cycles—even winter hoarfrost and summer morning dew—sometimes adding more than one ring per year and adding radial growth at a rate up to 10 times faster than older trees. She also found that, in some cases, trees temporarily stop growing annual rings altogether, which is perhaps a genetic adaptation to periods of severe drought.

    And old trees, just like old humans, slow down considerably: Abdoun’s carbon-14 analysis showed that a tree in Wadi Tichouinet estimated to be 2200 years old, with a trunk radius of 63 centimeters (25″), has taken three-quarters of its life just to grow the last one-third of its width.
    A tree in Wadi InGharouhane is thought to have taken 1130 years to add just 25 centimeters (10″) to its radius. These widely varied growth patterns, dependent upon microhabitat fluctuations, make it difficult to correlate rings in different trees to specific years. One tree may benefit from rain runoff coursing through the sandy soil it is rooted in, while a tree very nearby may miss even a quick sip.

  8. Cold Lynx says:

    If You got some time available. Please run Gistemp if You still have it up and running with the same kind of syntetic trend as in this wonderful thread.:

    I would not be surprised if You get about the same result.

  9. John F. Hultquist says:

    I’ve received free issues of Saudi Aramco World (out of Houston, TX) for many years. This is a great publication with interesting articles and fantastic photos. The one you link to is the late summer 2007 issue. In the same issue is a piece by Frank L. Holt, titled “I, Obelisk” and written in the first person (of the Obelisk). He did others like it.

    From your link, go to the “About Us” section and from there to subscriptions. I have used their material in college classes and find this a great resource. It maintains very high quality and is one of the magazines I keep for many years.

  10. ES says:

    That chart of to AO Index that mt posted on 7 February 2011 at 7:27 pm is interesting. It shows that JFM 2010 was the second lowest since 1950. Maybe 2011 will beat them all.

  11. Tim Clark says:

    @ George:
    Actually there were some injections above 50,000 ft over the course of the last two years. The post I referenced was not linking stratospheric injections to weather, rather lower level effects on winds.

    Also, equatorial eruptions that reach the stratosphere reflect higher levels of incoming radiation, and have a greater effect than higher latitude eruptions per volume.

  12. Pascvaks says:

    Ref – LGL on 7 February 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Thanks for link. Interesting how NA Fall Snowfall is trending up and NA Spring Snowfall is trending down. Wish they had data on SH and SA as well.

  13. David says:

    WSJ Article, the weather is NOT getting more extreme.

    “So we were surprised that none of the three major indices of climate variability that we used show a trend of increased circulation going back to 1871.”


  14. E.M.Smith says:

    Anyone who thinks the weather is getting more extreme has not lived very long or has a ver poor history education.

    If nothing else, just “Dustbowl” and “1800 And Froze To Death” ought to be enough… of course, one could also look back at Napoleon and his little Russian Affair… or at the years of bad weather leading up to The Potato Famine… and The French “Let them eat cake” Revolution / bread riots…

    What was exceptional was the 2 or maybe almost 3 decades of exceptionally nice warm and stable weather. It was “way worse” in the 1950s and 1960s in my personal experience. So at most we’re going back to “normal”.

    FWIW, the “most creepy” thing about this is the correlation of social disorder / empire collapse with Grand Solar Minima. And here we are with Mr. Sleepy Sun and we’ve got Tunisia and Egypt gone in days with Algeria, Jordan, and Yemen in the shopping cart…

    One can only hope that someone with a history degree is writing a “Brief” on this for Mr. Obama and the Dimocrats like Pelosi … SOMETHING makes folks very much grumpier during these times. I have no idea if it’s just food riots or something more “Cosmic”; but this is definitely NOT the time for Dear Leader to be taking a “let them eat cake” attitude and push an energy and productivity dropping price increasing agenda…

    In my more fantastic visions of the future this is eactly how W.W. III starts up. Revolution in the Arab / Muslim world, attacks on Israel, Europe fuel cut off and with a crop failure (and Suez not letting wheat nor oil through) followed by a bunch of Russian Bear and Chinese troups headed down through the “Northern part of the Trouble Regions” to stake out some new “living room” as it gets way cold back home. Europe, The East, and Islam all converging on Israel and Saudi / Egypt.

    Then the nukes start…

    And, of course, the USA can’t possibly just sit back on our side of the world saying “Gee, sure like those two nice big oceans… can I get back to you on that WWIII thing?”. No, we stick our nose in it at the first opportunity… and every one thereafter…

    So I try very much to ignore that scenario. It’s a “Kobayashi Maru” and I don’t “do” kobayashi maru …

    That it is among the most likely as I see the world really does not help… but I have hope that we can avoid it by applying intelligence and good moral character 8-{

    “But Hope is not a strategy. -E.M.Smith”

    FWIW, I think South America will come out of it all OK, as will Australia (modulo a bit of an invasion from South East Asia and Indonesia…)

    With any luck we can hold things together until 2050 or so when the warm times start to come back a bit…

    Things I try not to think about… while watching the snows fall and the drifts build and food prices of staples skyrocket and reports of crop failures from multiple parts of the world and revolutions and…

  15. George says:

    Interesting water vapor loop:


    Looks like one of those atmospheric “rivers” about to head into California.

  16. E.M.Smith says:

    Yeah, as the Jet Stream Loops wobble back and forth we get alternate drench / rain vs “Hey, Spring already?”

    Right now I’ve got fruit trees flowering and radishes sprouted and onions making flowers and…. next week it will likely be winter again…

    Welcome to California…

Comments are closed.