Gail Combs Notices The Cold and The Clock

Over on WUWT, down in comments on sea level rise, is a rather interesting statement by Gail Combs. Including references. In particular, what I found very interesting (though I’m not sure exactly how to interpret it) is the following graph:

Length of Arctic Melt Season

Length of Arctic Melt Season

So, I presume it is shorter due to the return of the cold, and not running out of ice (as the ice cap didn’t completely leave). Yet it would be good to find out more about exactly what it means. Does it really mean that it got cold sooner?

I also really hope that ‘plunge’ recently is NOT the start of a long term trend…

So, the comment, in full and in context:

Begin Quote

My prediction is it will drop by the end of the century.

….The ice melted back partially, and there followed a long ‘middling’ phase in which the climate oscillated between warmer and colder conditions, often in sudden jumps. During some parts of this phase, conditions in the tropics may have been moister than they are at present, and at other times they were drier….

For the time period between 115,000 and 14,000 years ago, 24 of these short lived warm events have so far been recognized from the Greenland ice core data (where they are called ‘Dansgaard-Oeschger events’), although many lesser warming events also occurred (Dansgaard et al. 1993). From the speed of the climate changes recorded in the Greenland ice cap (Dansgaard et al. 1989), and by observation of the speed of change in sedimentation conditions on land, it is widely believed that the complete ‘jump’ in climate occurred over only a few decades. The interstadials lasted for varying spans of time, usually a few centuries to about 2,000 years, before an equally rapid cooling returned conditions to their previous state. Recent study of high-resolution deep sea cores (Bond et al. 1997) suggests that for at least the last 30,000 years, interstadials tended to occur at the warmer points of a background north Atlantic (and global?) temperature cycle which had a periodicity of around 1500 years.

A quick background to the last ice age

So the ice core and deep sea core data show sudden jumps in temperature. The Greenland Ice coregraph shows peaks not plateaus for the warming spikes.

Everyone looks at the amount of ice in the Arctic. No one bothers to look at the real indicator the length of the melt season or the increase in fall snow cover in the northern hemisphere

North America Snow Anomalies

North America Snow Anomalies

or the August 06, 2012, Endless Winter for Alaska’s Mountains This Year [ Actual link missing in the comment, but I think I found the same story and link it down below. -E.M.Smith ]

…Department of Agriculture Snow Survey Supervisor Rick McClure. He said that it’s unusual to see snow still remaining in some of the mountains that surround Anchorage….May, June and July have all seen colder monthly averages, with July making the cut as the seventh-coldest July in history….. Adding the record-shattering snowfall into the mix, it’s possible the melt of last year’s snow could overlap with new snow falls that can occur as early as September.

Add in a quiet sun and the oceans going to the cooling mode I do not think sea level rise is in the cards.

NH solar energy overlay of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice core temperatures:”

Watts as Leading Indicator of cold

Watts as Leading Indicator of cold

The paleo solar insolation is plotted from here

End Quote

Not looking like a shortage of snow in North America…

I’d seen a prediction for cold and snow in the UK. I’d seen some reports of it starting. I’d been thinking of making a posting of it. And here Gail not only covers the point, but brings in some interesting data sources and a very interesting graph. Kudos and a h/t. Well done!

Ok the ‘weather bits’:

The snow shows up in the UK:

First, as a prediction some days back.

Cold Snowy Britain:

MINUS 20C? Britain faces coldest winter for 100 years as Big Freeze follows floods with wind so strong it blows water upwards
Temperatures to plummet to minus 3°C this week and could fall as low as 20°C in December
Fears that snow blizzards could close roads and shut down rail networks as winter takes hold
But torrential rain which has deluged country and swamped St Asaph in North Wales will finally ease

By Vanessa Allen

PUBLISHED: 21:00 EST, 27 November 2012 | UPDATED: 19:06 EST, 28 November 2012

Britain will shiver tonight as temperatures plummet in the first taste of what promises to be one of our coldest winters for a century.

The cold snap is expected to last until the end of the week, creating dangerous conditions on the roads and adding to the misery of those already battling floods.

Temperatures could fall to as low as minus 3°c (27°f) in some places, with snow already falling in the Pennines. In Saltburn, North Yorkshire, northerly winds have become so strong that they are pushing water back up a cliff.

Yes, I have been sitting on that article for the last week waiting for something interesting to happen to back it up…

Then the reality starts:–lot-chaos-airports-roads-hit-inch-falls.html

Thursday, Dec 06 2012 6AM

A little snow… and a lot of chaos: Airports and roads are hit as less than an inch falls

Southern England, the Midlands, the North East, Wales and Scotland were hit by brief snow shower early yesterday

More than 40 flights cancelled in brief closures at five major airports and delays of up to three hours

Sleet, frost and ice caused traffic chaos with ten-car pile-up on the London-bound A299 in Whitstable, Kent

Disruption on trains with rail replacement buses in operation and services cancelled and delayed

Last night council bosses admitted they had been caught out by the winter weather

One wonders how they were ‘caught out’ when it had been predicted fairly far in advance… Perhaps they are believers in “Global Warming”…

By Emma Reynolds, Paul Sims and Keith Gladdis

PUBLISHED: 03:17 EST, 5 December 2012 | UPDATED: 20:40 EST, 5 December 2012

A dusting of snow caused chaos at airports and on roads yesterday as council bosses admitted they had been caught out by the winter weather.

Southern England, the Midlands, the North East, Wales and Scotland were hit by a brief snow shower early in the morning after forecasters warned temperatures would plunge to minus 8C.

In most places the snow amounted to less than an inch but it grounded more than 40 flights, closed schools and left major roads in gridlock.
Five airports, including Stansted and Luton, closed temporarily, leaving passengers stranded.

But that’s not all…
It’s been cold ‘down under’ the last couple of years:

Wintry weather brings snow to Australia in midsummer
Australia normally experiences temperatures of 86F (30C) at this time of year, but the chances of a rare white Christmas have increased after plunging temperatures and snow swept across the east of the country.

By Bonnie Malkin, Sydney

11:24AM GMT 20 Dec 2010

Freezing winds from Antarctica, blown up to Australia by a low-pressure system in the Southern Ocean, gave the country a taste of the conditions that are causing havoc across Europe.

Some 11 inches of snow fell at the ski fields in New South Wales, raising the prospect that parts of the country could experience a white Christmas.

“It’s white, everything is white,” Michelle Lovius, the general manager of the Kosciuszko Chalet Hotel at Charlotte Pass, said.

“First thing this morning everything was just very still, very peaceful and every single thing was just blanketed in a thick cover of white.”

At the ski fields, children in Father Christmas hats, who would usually be sunning themselves on the grassy slopes, made snowballs and rode on sleds.

Miss Lovius said such a large amount of snow was unusual for early December, normally the peak of the wild flower season in the mountainous region.

This year I’ve found a ‘Ski Report’ with snow still on the slopes:

Snow Reports and Snow Forecasts for Australia. Covering the period from Thursday 6th December 2012 to Thursday 13th December 2012.

170 cm Thredbo
105 cm Perisher Blue

South Africa having a bit of late snow this year:

Snow Forecast : WC 24th/25th November 2012
24/11/2012 Snow Predictions

It would appear that winter is not over in the Western Cape, with light snow being predicted over the high ground of the Western Cape this evening, and in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

“The most likely period for snow over the SW-Cape mountains is overnight (Sat 24th into Sun 25th), with the freezing level is likely to be down as low as 1500m by this evening (15Z). If snow does fall it is likely to be rather light, due to limited moisture. ” – extracted from Storm Chasing South Africa

So looks like the Southern Hemisphere cold is not leaving, even while the Northern Hemisphere snows begin in earnest. I think it will be increasingly difficult to hide THIS decline… I’d be interested in finding out if this summer is abnormally cool in the Southern Hemisphere anywhere.

Alaska Aug 2012 endless winter:

Endless Winter for Alaska’s Mountains This Year
By Samantha Kramer, Staff Writer
August 06, 2012; 8:38 PM

There aren’t many places you can go to in the United States to see snow in August, and usually, even Anchorage, Alaska, isn’t one of them.

But the city is still dealing with leftover snow from last winter in its bordering mountain ranges. The all-time record snowfall of 133.6 inches last winter – just over 11 feet – could give Anchorage an endless winter.
The combination of heavy snowfall and a cool spring caused the lingering snow, said United States Department of Agriculture Snow Survey Supervisor Rick McClure. He said that it’s unusual to see snow still remaining in some of the mountains that surround Anchorage.

“Most of the time snow melts in the mountains, unless it’s a glacier or snowfield,” McClure said. “We’ve had snow in 4,000-feet elevations that usually melts by early June stay until that time in July. It’s very rare to see snow in the mountains that close to the solstice.”

So add it all together and what have you got?

IMHO, 1998 was what on stock charts is called a ‘blow off top’. An “outside tickmark” that spikes way high, but punctuates the end of a trend and hard reversal the other way. We’re headed down now. Briefly this solar cycle held the line almost flat as the sun tried to ‘ramp up’, but now that we’re past peak (what there is of it) in this cycle, it’s dropping. Fast.

As the “W/m^2” are below that where a glacial is ‘quasi stable’ (that is, it can be colder and hold there) all it takes is some nice white that doesn’t go away fast and the net accumulation of snow starts… then doesn’t leave. IFF we are very lucky, that won’t happen on THIS dip, and we’ve got to the next one (in another 179 or so years) and get another nice ‘warm pop’ before the Big Plunge. If we are not lucky, the albedo change sticks and we are on a 100,000 year trip into the ice box, starting now. (The good thing is that it takes so long we ought to have plenty of time to adjust. The bad thing is that, like the Little Ice Age, you can have rapid cold spikes.)

So there you have it. Cold. Not hot. Not “Global Warming”. Snow. Snow in the UK. Snow in North America. And even Snow in Australia in summer just two years ago.

I think it’s going to be a long cold decade ahead…

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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...
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26 Responses to Gail Combs Notices The Cold and The Clock

  1. crosspatch says:

    I don’t think there’s ,much risk at the moment of a return of last year’s snow conditions to Anchorage. We seem to have a much more zonal flow across the Eastern Pacific and not the high arching flow over a persistent coastal ridge that we saw last year. So the atmospheric river is hitting British Columbia and Washington as usual rather than arching up to Anchorage. But the interior of Alaska is very cold this winter. They already hit -50F at Chicken, Alaska. Fairbanks was -38F this morning, i think.

  2. sabretoothed says:

    So how come suddenly a non linear system has become a linear system, and what happened to the Butterfly effect? Now a computer can predict an infinite number of variables 50 years into the future?

  3. crosspatch says:

    If you look at the water vapor loop from GOES, you can see a little ridge trying to form about halfway between HI and CA but just doesn’t have the oomph to push the jet up over Alaska. If we go back into a La Nina condition, we might see that but right now we are ENSO neutral so I expect a more zonal flow than last year.

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    Looks like they had unusual snow in South Africa this last winter:

    12:53PM BST 08 Aug 2012

    The snowfall was the first in Johannesburg in five years and the heaviest since 1981. Newspapers ran front-page photographs of snow-clad palm trees and a lion sitting disconsolately in its enclosure at Johannesburg zoo with snow gathering in its mane.

    So about 30 years ago it snowed this much… Hmmm… Sure sounds like 1/2 of a 60 year cycle to me ;-)

    More snow reports here:

  5. R. de Haan says:

    Watch Bastardi’s 12/1 prediction at Weatherbell, the video screen at the right. Brutal winter for Europe and the USA. “This is how the little ice age started in Europe”

  6. Otter says:

    IMHO, 1998 was what on stock charts is called a ‘blow off top’. An “outside tickmark” that spikes way high, but punctuates the end of a trend and hard reversal the other way.

    Don Easterbrook has an interesting chart on page 4 of this pdf

    Click to access naepenewslettersepoct2012.pdf

    and the first thing that struck me was, there seems to be a temperature Spike, right before each downturn in temperatures. I would say that fits your thinking. However, unless Steve Goddard can find similar instances of massive ice and snow accumulations re: what happened in Alaska this year, in the recent past (say, the 50s), I think you may unfortunately be right, that we are drifting into a Serious downturn in temperatures.

  7. John Robertson says:

    Jumps in the ice, in the arctic is one explanation for the loss of the Franklin Expedition.
    The suspicion being that the ships were trapped against the islands by pack ice.The wind held the ice there. Admiralties records indicated the years of the loss/disappearance were cooler than the years before and after.
    If arctic ice and temperatures are driven by currents in the ocean, like pulses of pacific heat coming in thro the Bering Strait, then step changes would be the norm.
    Sudden warming or cooling would be expected if the concept Bob Tisdale describes is correct.
    Thats my current take away from, Who Turned on the Heat, but I am still rereading, too much info to understand all at once.
    Is there an online animation of the ocean currents?Did I miss an animate button in the text?
    Dr Browns WUWT posting has the answer I guess, wait and learn?

  8. crosspatch says:

    Saw someone on Twitter yesterday reporting 3C in Canberra. Seems unusually cool for almost summer.

  9. sabretoothed says: With high-altitude mountains in Himachal Pradesh experiencing up to 100 cm fresh snowfall in November month after 10 years, the abundance of snow on mountains has rejuvenated nearly one thousand glaciers and has ensured uninterrupted supply of water for drinking, irrigation and hydel projects.

    Even after years of research on glaciers and climate of Himalayas, scientists have failed to learn the pattern of the weather here. While scanty snowfall and rising temperature in last decade had sparked the possibilities of fast shrinking of glaciers, good spells of snowfall in last three years have changed the trend with glaciers almost growing to their original size. Some scientists say that despite heavy snowfall in winters, the extreme heat in summers is causing the melting of the glaciers with abnormal speed and others say extreme cold in winters is neutralizing the minor effect of risen temperature in summer. Overall, speed of melting of glaciers has reduced over the past few years only due to good snowfall in winter months.

  10. LG says:

    Robert W. Felix, of keeps track of winter stories in both hemispheres.

    Here’s a sample of of stories for Winter 2012-2013 Most recent at the top.

  11. Terry Jackson says:

    The mountains on the East/Southern (Prince William Sound) side of the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska still had an impressive amount of snow patches in mid August the last two years, north of the Harding Icefield. Easily visible on clear days from 20 miles away. In 2007 there was a large fire, the last two years you could not have started a fire with napalm. And the last two summers have been notably cooler, few days over 65, let alone 70.

  12. My relatives in the UK have been complaining about this little cold snap. Two of them compared it with 1947. I told them that freeze started in mid February and lasted for six weeks. It is not at all likely that this “event” will last even half that long.

    FWIW the devastating freeze of 1947 was followed by an exceptionally hot summer.

  13. Chiefio,
    I hope you are wrong when you suggest a sharp dip in global tempeatures. Two of the last three winters here in Florida were so cold that I started looking into the possibility of moving at least another 500 miles south.

  14. Sera says:

    500 miles south puts you in Santa Clara, Cuba. So, now you have to worry about the hurricanes and infrastructure. Let’s all move to Texas and have a chili cook off.

  15. P.G. Sharrow says:

    I don’t know about moving to Texas, Sera. It is filling up with former Californians and New Yorkers! and Texicans are sometimes hard to take. Maybe Deseret is the place to go, Mormons are a strange Christian cult but they do make good neighbors. :-) and they don’t have tornadoes or hurricanes. Deseret also has a better selection of climate zones. pg

  16. John F. Hultquist says:

    You need to work on a post with good news and a happy story about the future. Dismal science, demographics is destiny, Washington is clueless, and the climate is heading into a big freeze – please, enough!
    Just kidding. This is a good post with interesting info.

    “minus 3°c (27°f)”

    That is just where I like it. It makes the difference between mud and hard on the surface at this time of year. Currently it is 34° F. (1° C.) just before 9 A.M. with heavy clouds and a little snow. Very likely the ground’s surface will be hard most of the day. To the west, lots of snow in the Cascades. I guess it is what the region is used to. These conditions cause hardly a ripple in the fabric of life here.

    The USA begins winter officially on the Dec. Solstice, still a couple of weeks away. Others start on the 1st. I guess the greater the N/S latitude spread of the country the less sense this date thing makes. I’m just north of the 47th Parallel. Miami, FL is near the 25th. In Europe that is from northern Switzerland to the central Sahara. It all adds a bit of confusion to a discussion of the seasons.

  17. Susan S. says:

    Interesting to say the least, looking at the different things happening around the world today. Doesn’t surprise me, with the cold temps in other parts of the world. What I can say about the weather in my neck of the woods, winter came too early from my point of view.

  18. R. de Haan says:

    Jet Stream penetrating deep into the African continent;sess=

  19. E.M.Smith says:

    @R. de Haan:

    Whoa! How often does that happen? Are we likely to see something like a repeat of the North African snow we saw last year?


    And I find myself once again falling behind on my own blog…. 4 AM and not catching up… Sigh.

    I’ll try harder tomorrow, er, today, er, this afternoon ;-)

  20. LG says:

    Down to -50C: Russians freeze to death as strongest-in-decades winter hits

    Published: 19 December, 2012, 19:00

  21. E.M.Smith says:


    I think Russia is not going to be signing up for any more “Global Warming” nonsense.

    It will be interesting to see how much gas they have left over to export to Ukraine and the EU…

  22. Gail Combs says:

    The person who originated that Arctic graph is Greg Goodman in a comment at:

  23. NZ Willy says:

    The reduced Arctic melting season was just because so much ice had melted by end-August, so the September rump was small and well-offset to the far north and so not able to be melted by the south-sinking September sun.

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