Snowy NE U.S. gets a break

February 17th, 2014 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

This morning’s NASA MODIS image of the northeast U.S., true color (which I’ve enhanced a little…click for large version).

40 Responses to “Snowy NE U.S. gets a break”

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  1. RW says:

    It’s about time. Been a long and cold winter – we need some relief.

  2. Bill Sparling says:

    Seems silly season is continuing regardless:

    ‘Darker’ Arctic means Earth is absorbing more heat: study

    Read more:

    Seth Borenstein, The Associated Press
    Published Monday, February 17, 2014 4:26PM EST

    WASHINGTON — The Arctic isn’t nearly as bright and white as it used to be because of more ice melting in the ocean, and that’s turning out to be a global problem, a new study says.

    With more dark, open water in the summer, less of the sun’s heat is reflected back into space. So the entire Earth is absorbing more heat than expected, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    That extra absorbed energy is so big that it measures about one-quarter of the entire heat-trapping effect of carbon dioxide, said the study’s lead author, Ian Eisenman, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California.

    The Arctic grew eight per cent darker between 1979 and 2011, Eisenman found, measuring how much sunlight is reflected back into space.

    “Basically, it means more warming,” Eisenman said in an interview.

    The North Pole region is an ocean that mostly is crusted at the top with ice that shrinks in the summer and grows back in the fall. At its peak melt in September, the ice has shrunk on average by nearly 35,000 square miles — about the size of Maine — per year since 1979.

    Snow-covered ice reflects several times more heat than dark, open ocean, which replaces the ice when it melts, Eisenman said.

    As more summer sunlight dumps into the ocean, the water gets warmer, and ittakes longer forice to form again in the fall, Jason Box of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland said in an email. He was not part of the study.

    While earlier studies used computer models, Eisenman said his is the first to use satellite measurements to gauge sunlight reflection and to take into account cloud cover. The results show the darkening is as much as two to three times bigger than previous estimates, he said.

    Box and University of Colorado ice scientist Waleed Abdalati, who was not part of the research, called the work important in understanding how much heat is getting trapped on Earth.

    Great Lakes nearly covered with ice for first time in 20 years

    Read more:

    Not to mention that little tantrum of Kerry’s:
    Climate change world’s ‘most fearsome’ weapon of mass destruction: Kerry

    Read more:
    Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
    Published Sunday, February 16, 2014 3:48AM EST
    Last Updated Sunday, February 16, 2014 10:40AM EST
    JAKARTA, Indonesia — Climate change may be the world’s “most fearsome” weapon of mass destruction and urgent global action is needed to combat it, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday, comparing those who deny its existence or question its causes to people who insist the Earth is flat.

    In a speech to Indonesian students, civic leaders and government officials in Jakarta, Kerry laid into climate change skeptics, accusing them of using shoddy science and scientists to delay measures needed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases at the risk of imperiling the planet. He also went after those who dispute who is responsible for such emissions, arguing that everyone and every country must take responsibility and act immediately.

    “We simply don’t have time to let a few loud interest groups hijack the climate conversation,” he said, referring to what he called “big companies” that “don’t want to change and spend a lot of money” to act to reduce the risks. He later singled out big oil and coal concerns as the primary offenders.
    “We should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists and science and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific facts,” Kerry told the audience gathered at a U.S. Embassy-run American Center in a Jakarta shopping mall. “Nor should we allow any room for those who think that the costs associated with doing the right thing outweigh the benefits.”

    “The science is unequivocal, and those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand,” Kerry said. “We don’t have time for a meeting anywhere of the Flat Earth Society,”

    Kerry, saying that 97 per cent of scientists who have weighed in on the issue agree that the phenomenon is real, argued that the cost of inaction to environments and economies will far outweigh the significant expense of reducing greenhouse gas emissions that trap solar heat in the atmosphere and contribute to the Earth’s rising temperatures.

    He outlined a litany of recent weather disasters, particularly flooding and typhoons in Asia, and their impact on commerce, agriculture, fishing and daily living conditions for billions of people.

    “This city, this country, this region, is really on the front lines of climate change,” Kerry said. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that your entire way of life here is at risk.”

    He added: “In a sense, climate change can now be considered the world’s largest weapon of mass destruction, perhaps even, the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.”

    The solution, Kerry said, is a new global energy policy that shifts reliance from fossil fuels to cleaner technologies. He noted the President Barack Obama is championing such a shift and encouraged others to appeal to their leaders to join.

    The speech came a day after Kerry won an agreement with China to co-operate more closely with the U.S. on combatting climate change. American officials hope that will help encourage other nations, including developing countries like Indonesia and India, to follow suit.

    Just after Kerry departed Beijing on Saturday, the U.S. and China issued a joint statement saying they had agreed on steps to carry out commitments to curb greenhouse gases, including reducing vehicle emissions, improving energy efficiency of buildings and other measures.

    China and the United States are the biggest sources of emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that cause the atmosphere to trap solar heat and alter the climate. Scientists warn such changes are already leading to drought, wildfires, rising sea levels, melting polar ice, plant and animal extinctions and other extreme conditions.

    Beijing and Washington launched the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group last year. They promised progress in five areas: reducing vehicle emissions; advanced electric power grids; capturing and storing carbon emissions; gathering greenhouse gas data; and building efficiency.

    Kerry was in Indonesia on the last leg of a three-nation tour of Asia that started in South Korea and then China. After leaving Indonesia on Monday, he will travel on to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

    Before giving his climate change speech on Sunday, Kerry toured Jakarta’s massive Istiqlal Mosque, one of the largest in the world, to pay his respects to Indonesia’s Muslim majority population.

    These absolutely prove the old Paraprosdokians that “Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak” and “You are never too old to learn somethign stupid.”

    • Hops says:

      Those of you who view climate change through the lens of politics have it all wrong. This isn’t about Al Gore or John Kerry, or any sort of left-wing plot among scientists all over the world.

      The questions are

      1. How fast and ultimately how much will it warm?
      2. Do you care about future generations?
      3. Do you care about people in places that will be devastated by even small changes in sea level or rainfall?
      4. Do you believe that technology can deliver improved efficiency and new sources of energy that maintain a high standard of living without burning fossil fuels, especially coal?

      My view:
      1. Too complex to predict with certainty; could be more or less than modeled, and perhaps less at first and more later as positive feedbacks kick in.
      2. Yes. My kids are among them.
      3. If nothing else, we need to consider how instability in other parts of the world affect us — e.g., military involvement in destabilized regions.
      4. Yes, I see solar and battery technology following a typical technology cost curve. Putting a price on carbon (instead of income) just brings the curve down faster and mitigates some climate damage. I think the true “alarmists” are those who think getting away from fossil fuels is such a problem.

      • Fonzie says:

        What about the question of how much of said warming is natural verses man made?

        • Hops says:

          Let’s let the CO2 concentration stabilize for a few hundred years, and if it keeps on warming, I’ll admit it’s natural.

          But seriously, I don’t see any reason not to trust Muller’s analysis that the obvious correlation is with CO2 and nothing else that has been proposed.

          • Fonzie says:

            We had warming a hundred years ago; isn’t that enough to admit that it (at least) could be natural?

          • Hops says:

            Maybe the “natural” forcings were positive then, but are negative now, and the only reason temperatures haven’t risen more is due to the other forcings being negative, so if said natural forcings revert to a positive phase, warming will accelerate…

          • Fonzie says:

            Which gets back to my original question of how much of the warming is natural verses man made…

          • Hops says:

            People who have invested far more education and time into that question than I have say “most of it.” Looking at charts of previous temperatures, however unsatisfying the proxy records may be, it seems that warming was slow, and with the rise of CO2, is now relatively fast, which matches what one would expect from a rise in greenhouse gases.

            Anyway, my investments in insulation and a more efficient HVAC system have paid big returns, in addition to a relative lowering of my CO2 footprint. Cutting my commute has made me apathetic to the price of gas, and I’m going to experiment with a little solar soon.

            Apparently there was recently a little-reported terrorist attack on an electrical substation in California that makes some level of independence from the coal-fired grid even more attractive.

          • Fonzie says:

            It wasn’t warming slow a hundred years ago… was it?

          • Ritchie Cunningham says:

            Hops, it would seem that the fundamental difference between you and Fonz is that you still have blind faith in “people who… say” and fonzie does not. Why should any one keep believing the words of people who’ve been wrong over and over again? And if they are wrong about obvious things then how many things which are not so obvious are they wrong about, too?

          • Curt says:

            Hops, you’ve been had by the paleoclimatologists, the professional wrestlers of science (they go through the motions of being real scientists, but they’re not).

            All of their “hockey stick” plots are variants of the same bogus trick. By selection or weighting, find any data series that roughly correlate with 20th century temperature trends. Use some average of these series to “predict” the temperature in the pre-instrumental period. Try a whole bunch of statistics, publish those few that look sort of good.

            Of course, since the proxies are never perfect, and often have no validity at all, it is a matter of chance which you weight heavily or select at all. Out side of the instrumental period, the partial or total randomness of these proxies means any variations largely cancel each other out. The result of this phenomenon is that, in these studies, the rates of change in the pre-instrumental period is guaranteed to be less than that of the instrumental period.

            There is absolutely no evidence from these studies that the difference in rates of change is related to anything but this statistical phenomenon.

      • Aaron S says:

        Hops during the last interglacial (125kyrs ago) sea level peaked at more than 20 feet greater than today bc of orbital forcing. This interglacial sea level could naturally peak much higher than modern… Natural climate change is real. The models do a poor job evaluating solar activity bc little is known about the relationship between the earths climate and the suns state, but empirical data shows that the sun includes multiple forcings of earths climate that are either not in the models or are underrepresented. So no I don’t believe the models have it all figured out.

  3. lewis says:

    Obviously the Great Lakes freezing over is a result of the lessening of the reflection of heat from the darkened polar region. Since the heat had to go somewhere, it decided to go into the deeper parts of the Great Lakes, leaving the surface colder and thus frozen.

    (make no mistake, I’m applying for a grant from the US Government to study alcohol consumption in people who have left the labor force because they can get heath insurance subsidies by not working)

  4. I’ll tell you what, if this AGW-induced polar vortex thingamajig continues indefinitely, my idea of forming a National Curling League in the U.S. just might get some legs. In gratitude, if it does get off the ground, and I hope it does, we’ll make Al Gore our first League Commissioner if he promises to reduce his carbon footprint from 1,567,649 gigatons to zero.

    Despite what others say, I love Curling. Really, I do. It’s the only Olympic winter sport I’ll bother to watch.

  5. Seriously, what’s not to like?

    If AGW makes more of the above, I’m a believer again. Go Polar Vortex!!

    Cold is the new warm.

  6. Hops says:

    Is there any way to use the satellite data sets to test the hypothesis that a warming Arctic is resulting in a more meandering jet stream? Does it have adequate spatial and temporal resolution?

    • Bill Sparling says:

      Good question, even if the arctic is NOT warming.

      • Hops says:

        According those data sets to which Dr. Spencer posts links, the Arctic is warming rather dramatically.

        Prove me wrong.

        • Massimo PORZIO says:

          From 1958 up today, I just see that for the seasonal maximum there have been no changes at all.

          The minimum seems to have wide changes year by year but still I don’t see that dramatic warming, since 1974 was similar to this year and 2013 was very similar top 1958.
          I know that this is the age of people who worry about few tenths of Kelvins and on that predict wide temperature changes in future, but if the danger for the Arctic sea ice is really all in those sub zero temperatures fluctuation, I don’t see any reason to concern about.

          Have a nice day.


          • Fonzie says:

            Massimo, what part of Italy are you from? My grand pop was from San Marco…

          • Massimo PORZIO says:

            Hi Fonzie (if I’m not wrong also the “Happy days” character was from Italian ancestors 🙂 ),
            I’m from a small town just 48km (30miles) west of Milan.
            I’m just 15 minutes from Malpensa International Airport.

            Do you know in which province (county) San Marco was?

            Have a nice day.


          • Fonzie says:

            You must be an avid skier (being not too far from Switzerland)? San Marco is in the province of Benevento… Grandpop came through Ellis Island (New York) in 1922 and settled in Allentown, Pennsylvania. His last name was Papa (as is mine). The character of fonzie (arthur herbert fonzarelli) was actually played by a Jewish actor named Henry Winkler…

          • Hops says:

            It’s not just the peak that counts, it’s the total anomaly over time, which is dramatic.

            Look at 2014 so far!

          • Massimo PORZIO says:

            Hi Fonzie,
            I found two San Marco small towns in Benevento province, one is San Marco ai monti which is closer to Benevento and San Marco dei Cavoti about 30km North from Benevento both are in the lovely landscapes of Apennines mountains.
            No, unluckily I’m not a skiers at all, even if I work in a small town 40km North from my hometown, on the first hills very close to the Alps, and from my office windows I can see the Monte Rosa (4,634 m (15,203 ft)9 the 2nd highest mountain in europe after Monte Bianco, which from my window is hidden by other mountains.
            About your last name, the only Papa I remember is actor Alfredo Papa who was very famous as TV anchorman here in Italy in middle 80s and 90s. He was also very appreciated for his imitations of our prime minister of those times.

            Have a great days.


        • Lewis Guignard says:

          HOPS – a minor response: The only question which matters, which you have not stated so far as I can see, is: Can the actions of man control the weather?

          It is amusing to tell me that by controlling CO2 emissions the weather will return or remain at some stable level. (whatever that means) The historical facts in opposition to such are great. The coming and going of the ice ages for instance. The variance in weather during the interim for another. To be concerned about the sudden changes is only the imagination of man wishing for safety.

          The reason we have problems with the sea levels rising is because man, in his inherent stupidity, built next to the ocean. Let us take Miami or New York or New Orleans. Knowing that the sea-levels were 200 to 300 feet lower only 20,000 years ago would lead one to understand they might go higher. The glaciers have melted, but not completely and Ohio is not under ice any more Dorothy. In the meantime the Kerryites would tell the glaciers to STOP MELTING. Maybe we should put signs up in front of them, telling them they’re to quit melting, they might cause New Orleans to drown.

          Another question to me, and not addressed in this forum that I’ve noticed, is where did all those hydrocarbons in the Earth come from. Where did the coal, methane and oil come from? Was that Carbon in the atmosphere at one time? If so, what was the concentration? HOW DID ANIMALS AND PLANTS SURVIVE?

          I, sir, am not fearful, except of man himself. While we may build tall buildings, we cannot leap them at a single bound, even though we can put men on the moon. (and I have grandchildren)But we do have a tendency to use our power (government) to abuse others. (See Kerryites)

          Using the hydrocarbons has given us great benefits. I enjoy them and am alive today because of them, and enjoy my instant on heating and lights. What, sir, would you have us do which would enhance our lives? Because of all the things you propose, none would assure us of moderate weather, where crops grow with regular and just the right amount of rain and sunshine. Weather will be weather and Dr. Spencer will post pictures and information about same on the internet, made possible by the oxidation of mined hydrocarbons, the fission of unstable atoms and other, more modest means.

          And people who have studied these matters will discuss them, and share information with people like me, who are just trying to understand something beyond my expertise, but who have come to the realization: weather is. And a most interesting thing it is. But not easily controllable or understood.

          Lewis Guignard – supporting Dr. Spencer’s Flat Earth Society

          • Hops says:

            Lewis, this concept of Kerryite is a figment of your imagination. There is no one running around worrying about climate change because John Kerry says so. Nor is there any left-wing conspiracy. There is just a problem and various views on the severity and desired response.

            I think those who oppose taking action (1) underestimate the net impact of warming that is rapid relative to the ability of ecosystems and societies to adapt and (2) exaggerate the economic implications of a gradual shift toward greater efficiency and more use of renewable energy.

            Our current trajectory is that in our children’s lifetimes, just when climate change is playing havoc with infrastructure, fossil fuels will suffer dramatic decline, and they’ll be screwed if we haven’t invested in efficiency and renewables.

          • Fonzie says:

            They won’t be screwed if we’re not causing warming in the first place…

          • Massimo PORZIO says:

            Hi Hops.
            About arctic, under the point of view of an engineer who I am, the only valuable thing I see in those annual plots is the very efficient accumulation of energy due to the water change of state. In fact, without the huge energy needed to melt the ice, I expected to see a quasi-sinusoidal shape in those plots superimposed at the “noise” related to weather events, that we can see below zero Celsius.

            About the “unprecedented” melt of these days:


            Read “The changing Arctic” chapter…
            And note: it was 1922!

            Have a nice day


        • NoFreeWind says:

          Shocking News – you are right.
          Sure it is warming, just like it did 70 years ago.

          page 4

  7. Is there any way to use the satellite data sets to test the hypothesis that a warming Arctic is resulting in a more meandering jet stream?

    A meandering jet stream could be meandering for a myriad of reasons, not just, or even, a warming Arctic that isn’t warming depending on who you ask.

    Does it have adequate spatial and temporal resolution?

    Not sure if it does, but I bet it’s got four on the floor.

  8. Bill Sparling says:

    If the arctic is in so much “trouble”, then how do you explain the fact that the permanent sea ice accumulation is GROWING not shrinking? Facts only please. A nd for the record, the fundamental problem really is political-as is all human issues.

  9. Ansgar John says:

    Re: Jetstream. Science is often counter-intuitive, so I wouldn´t dismiss this out of hand, but it does seem silly at first glance…-> `it is colder because it is hotter´

  10. Lewis said: Can the actions of man control the weather?

    Certainly not in any precise way, but human behavior can, via drastic measures, steer it in certain directions, and the more dire and desperate the AGW message becomes, the more dire and desperate the measures presented to steer the weather/climate.

    Don’t laugh, but the more fringe elements of AGW advocacy are entertaining all manner of ideas on how to mitigate the imminent catastrophe they predict. Soon enough, they’ll be contemplating a limited nuclear conflagration in order to induce a limited nuclear winter. Sound absurd? Of course it is but look how absurd it’s become in the last twenty years. Now project out another twenty. As Frank said, You Ain’t See Nothing Yet…The Best Is Yet To Come.

    For some, and increasingly that some is no longer just a few, paradise is no people…or very few people. Curtis LeMay is making a comeback. He was ahead of his time.

    • Bill Sparling says:

      No bet. I have already heard formsome of the more radical warmists, who also happen to be prominent eccolobby nuts, that are openly advocating sever changes to human geography and politics to reduce human populations. Tactics beign discussed include mass sterilizations, cutting off food supplies, engineered epidemics, and even (as you mention) a “limited” nuclear strike on selected world targets.

      Anyone who seriously thinks genocide is an acceptable option is not fit to breath free air. Unfortunately, the “laws” that govern free societies do not allow for them to be confined where they belong…in a room with padded wallpaper.

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