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Record 22C temperatures in Arctic heatwave


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Posted
  • Location: Western Isles
  • Location: Western Isles

    from the independent newspaper!

    Parts of the Arctic have experienced an unprecedented heatwave this summer, with one research station in the Canadian High Arctic recording temperatures above 20C, about 15C higher than the long-term average. The high temperatures were accompanied by a dramatic melting of Arctic sea ice in September to the lowest levels ever recorded, a further indication of how sensitive this region of the world is to global warming. Scientists from Queen's University in Ontario watched with amazement as their thermometers touched 22C during their July field expedition at the High Arctic camp on Melville Island, usually one of the coldest places in North America.

    "This was exceptional for a place where the normal average temperatures are about 5C. This year we frequently recorded daytime temperatures of between 10C and 15C and on some days it went as high as 22C," said Scott Lamoureux, a professor of geography at Queen's.

    "Even temperatures of 15C are higher than we'd expect and yet we recorded them for between 10 and 12 days during July. We won't know the August and September recordings until next year when we go back there but it appears the region has continued to be warm through the summer."

    http://environment.independent.co.uk/clima...icle3021309.ece

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    Posted
  • Location: Evesham, Worcs, Albion
  • Location: Evesham, Worcs, Albion

    Don't worry. Some parts of the arctic regularly experience 30c in summer; the UK had a +15c temp anomaly in July 2006; Thule, a coastal location further north in the arctic experienced July maxima of 14c same as normal this year; and we don't know how long records have been kept for the location mentioned in the news story.

    The media don't understand the concept of context. They only understand the concept of sensational headlines .....

    (I'm not denying it was rather warm in parts of the arctic this summer - hence the sea ice melt - just that we need to place it in context to understand the significance. People assume the arctic is always freezing. It's not)

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    Posted
  • Location: Darton, Barnsley south yorkshire, 102 M ASL
  • Location: Darton, Barnsley south yorkshire, 102 M ASL
    Don't worry. Some parts of the arctic regularly experience 30c in summer; the UK had a +15c temp anomaly in July 2006; Thule, a coastal location further north in the arctic experienced July maxima of 14c same as normal this year; and we don't know how long records have been kept for the location mentioned in the news story.

    The media don't understand the concept of context. They only understand the concept of sensational headlines .....

    (I'm not denying it was rather warm in parts of the arctic this summer - hence the sea ice melt - just that we need to place it in context to understand the significance. People assume the arctic is always freezing. It's not)

    Well said ;) The media are the biggest rampers of all and I think they have a lot to awnser for.

    I remember a couple of years ago in the daily mail (I think) the headline was "HUMANS TO BE WIPED OFF THE PLANET BY AIDS BY 2035"

    Another fine exsample of lacking gumption by the evil media!

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    Posted
  • Location: Rossland BC Canada
  • Location: Rossland BC Canada

    Actually, there were two weather stations on or close to Melville Island for many years, they were known as Isachsen and Mould Bay. These were radar defence sites during the Cold War. The mean July max temp there was about 4 or 5 C, and 10 C was quite unusual. They were known to be colder than Eureka on Ellesmere Island and about the same as Alert on far northern Ellesmere, at least in summer. Melville Island is a long way north of the mainland, something like 75 N -- further south on larger Victoria Island, Cambridge Bay does regularly have a few very warm days in July, 25-30 C can be expected there. To the east of Melville Island, there is a long-term weather station at Resolute, and it rarely breaks the 10 C mark in July, with a mean max of about 6 C. So this idea of warmth in the arctic being common -- that applies more to large islands and the mainland where the land masses can heat up under the summer sun. These far northern islands are fairly small, and surrounded by freezing cold water if not ice in mid-summer, so low cloud and fog are very frequent, and temperatures tend to stall out at 3, 4 or 5 C for days on end. And that's summer, by late August it is usually back to snow and sub-freezing temps at these locations.

    So in context, I think these temperatures recorded by the Queens University team are quite unusual. I think they are due to this prolonged SE to S flow which brought on this melting of the arctic ice to the west of this location. When I flew home from England on the 12th of July, I noticed that skies were clear from Iceland to northern Saskatchewan, which is very unusual in that region. I also noticed the Foxe Basin had plenty of sea ice, and some of the lakes on the mainland had ice cover, so it would seem that the ice cover was more normal this season in the eastern arctic than the western arctic.

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    Posted
  • Location: Brixton, South London
  • Location: Brixton, South London
    Don't worry. Some parts of the arctic regularly experience 30c in summer; the UK had a +15c temp anomaly in July 2006; Thule, a coastal location further north in the arctic experienced July maxima of 14c same as normal this year; and we don't know how long records have been kept for the location mentioned in the news story.

    The media don't understand the concept of context. They only understand the concept of sensational headlines .....

    (I'm not denying it was rather warm in parts of the arctic this summer - hence the sea ice melt - just that we need to place it in context to understand the significance. People assume the arctic is always freezing. It's not)

    Fair points Essan although it is worth distinguishing between the use of sensationalist headlines to objective nuanced news reports (tedious but not, in my view, exactly a hanging offence) and the Independent's relatively recent habit of continuing such sensationalism in the early parts of the report only to contradict/weaken/modify that stance later in the same report. The use of often misleading and sensationalist headlines on the front page and, worse still, puerile simplistic representations of complex matters through pictograms and a selective use of 'eye catching' statistics has become habitual.

    As regards lack of context the specific point you make is fair although it should be pointed out that after the mandatory sensationalism of the first few paragraphs Dr Meir of USNSIDC states that average anomalies across the whole Arctic region for the entire summer season were 3-4c with parts of the sea off northern Siberia showing an anomaly of 4-5c.

    Several points arise from this:

    1. No averages are cited in respect of Melville Island in summer 2007 but simply cherry-picked eye catching data. Presumably if daily readings are available for the whole of June and July so too are the averages. Mind you the strange vagueness of the number of days recording 15c (10 to 12 days? If reliable recordings have been made the precise number should be clear. If the data is provisional and subject to adjustment that is something that we should know of).

    2. The screaming headline of 22c is especially offensive:

    2.1the implication of paragraph 1 is that this recording was a one off event but in the next paragraph it is stated that 22c was recorded on 'some days': 2 days? more?

    2.2 In addition to Essan's point about the unknown length of records the comparison made between 'normal average temperatures' of 'about 5c' and 'daytime temperatures of between 10 and 15c' and what is clearly a maximum reading of 22c is downright misleading: my guess is that about 5c refers to mean temperatures calculated by averaging daily maxima and minima. If so it is an unsuitable basis to make a comparison with 'daytime' temperatures. Leaving aside the dubious value of the concept of daytime at about 80N in June and July what is meant by 'daytime temperatures of between 10c and 15c'? Are these daily maxima or the range of temperatures on a number of days during the hours that Prof Lamoreux arbitrarily designates as 'daytime'?

    2.3 Focusing on what appears to have been a freakish one off event in July is the equivalent of giving excessive prominence to the Gravesend maxima of 38.1c in an account of August 2003: yes it is doubtless noteable but is wholly unrepresentative of the month as a whole.

    3. The discussion of the significance of readings of 15c is both opaque and limp: 'Even temperatures of 15c are higher than we would expect and yet we recorded them for between 10 and 15 days'.

    3.1 As it is unclear what the average maxima is and the timescale of records we cannot assess the significance of a reading of 15c (assuming it refers to maxima);

    3.2 In addition all climatic averages are drawn from a range of individual readings that will necessarily include those that are higher than expected. In the case of Arctic climatic averages it is by no means unusual for considerable variations to be recorded between average maxima and absolute maxima: e.g. Barrow on the north coast of Alaska has an average January maxima of -23c and an absolute maxima of +1c, an average maxima in July of 8c against an absolute maxima of 26c, Arctic Bay on the north coast of Baffin Island has an average February maxima of -28c against an absolute maxima of +2c.

    3.3 To assess the significance of the 10-12 day recording we need to know not only the matters in 3.1 and 3.2 but also data to show how unusual such a number of days recording 15c are against a robust timeframe.

    4. The sheer stupidity of the Independent's coverage is exemplified by its decision to give prominence to Lamoreux rather than Meir: the latter covers 4 months as against 2 months data and the whole of Arctic nor one small island. The shocking data is that over a 3 month period daily mean temperatures were widely 3-4c above normal and 4-5c above normal in the Siberian Sea (it would have been useful if we could be reassured that those averages were taken over a uniform and robust timescale). To put this into context the exceptional summer of 2003 in a large swathe of western/central continental Europe recorded a positive anomaly averaged over all 3 months of 3.3c based on ECMWF data set against the average for 1958-2000, with Schar reporting an average anomaly for 4 Swiss stations of 5.1c set against an average for 1864-2000 (cited in an article by Black, Blackham, Harrison, Hoskins and Methven of the University of Reading circa 2004/5 who go onto assert that the summer of 2003 was certainly the warmest since 'at the latest' 1500). Of course to make a valid comparison one would need to know the Arctic averages timescale and an indication of how unusual such anomalies were over historical time.

    Incidentally look at the caption to the 3 graphics collectively entitled 'shrinking ice cap': 'Average temperatures recorded for June, July and August were 4c above normal'. No they were 3-4c above normal: this pitiable attempt at spin simply adds insult to injury.

    Moving on to the 2 of the remaining items cited in the report: reduction in ice cover and rain at the North Pole:

    1. Ms Shauer (chief scientist at the Alfred Wenger Institute) took part in a research ship voyage (the 'Polar Stern') in summer 2007 and reports that ice thickness over 'large areas of the arctic' was an average of 1m against an anticipated average of 2m with an increase in the average speed of Polar Stern of 6k/hr as against the anticipated 1-2k/hr. She goes on to say: 'We are in the midst of a phase of dramatic change in the Arctic'. From the context of her experiences of summer 2007 I assume that she regards that season's data as forming at least part of the basis for her assertion. However a quick glance at the data for 2007 set against the preexisting downward but erratic trend from 1997 (faster and less erratic from 2001) shows how hugely anomolous 2007 is and thus how questionable it is to regard it as part of a phase. Ms Schauer may turn out to be right but she cannot assert this without qualification until at least several more years data are to hand: it may be that the altogether gentler (albeit significant) trend from 2001-2006 will be resumed and 2007 will be seen as an extraordinary outlier.

    2. Finally David Carlson, director of the International Polar Year reports that an unnamed scientist had reported rainfall at the North Pole. On its own this doubtless fascinating snippet of information is almost entirely worthless as I have no way of knowing if this is unprecedented, extraordinary or merely highly unusual. Nor, apparently, does Mr Carlson: 'It makes you wonder whether anyone has ever reported rain at the North Pole before'.

    I despair.

    Who to blame? Clearly matters in 1 and 4 are wholly or almost wholly the fault of the paper. It is less clear who and to what extent is to blame for the rest of this mess: are 3 out of the 4 scientists cited above to blame for sloppy summaries of their work, were they mis-reported? Even if all 3 scientists were to blame initially for such sloppiness (a remote possibility?) the paper should have tried to clarify the data and if that was impossible should at least have critically examined it in a separate commentary or better still spiked the report. Without reading the base documents we cannot know.

    Incidentally for another example of the cavalier use of statistics and indolence see the report on Jamie Oliver on page 3. I have read the 3 principal base documents and will open a thread on this elsewhere.

    Regards

    ACB

    Has the paper's notorious financial instability manifested itself in damaging cuts to the quality of its news coverage?

    Edit: have just read Roger's post above: the 5c refers to maxima not daily mean.

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    Posted
  • Location: Redhill, Surrey
  • Weather Preferences: Southerly tracking LPs, heavy snow. Also 25c and calm
  • Location: Redhill, Surrey
    So in context, I think these temperatures recorded by the Queens University team are quite unusual. I think they are due to this prolonged SE to S flow which brought on this melting of the arctic ice to the west of this location. When I flew home from England on the 12th of July, I noticed that skies were clear from Iceland to northern Saskatchewan, which is very unusual in that region. I also noticed the Foxe Basin had plenty of sea ice, and some of the lakes on the mainland had ice cover, so it would seem that the ice cover was more normal this season in the eastern arctic than the western arctic.

    Crikey Roger was it that long ago...where is time going? Can you keep us posted re snowcover due to the open arctic waters your end. You gave an update which was great so will be good to kepp it monitored.

    Guys it may be a bit sensationalist but it's not the sort of temps we would expect.

    BFTP

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    Posted
  • Location: Steeton, W Yorks, 270m ASL
  • Location: Steeton, W Yorks, 270m ASL
    Fair points Essan although it is worth distinguishing between the use of sensationalist headlines to objective nuanced news reports (tedious but not, in my view, exactly a hanging offence) and the Independent's relatively recent habit of continuing such sensationalism in the early parts of the report only to contradict/weaken/modify that stance later in the same report. The use of often misleading and sensationalist headlines on the front page and, worse still, puerile simplistic representations of complex matters through pictograms and a selective use of 'eye catching' statistics has become habitual.

    ...

    ACB

    Has the paper's notorious financial instability manifested itself in damaging cuts to the quality of its news coverage?

    Edit: have just read Roger's post above: the 5c refers to maxima not daily mean.

    I think I originally posted this link up in the environment section, but without any comment, and to be honest I was slightly surprised that it attracted none (perhaps few people routinely follow links). I think I concur with your assessment AC. The independent does rather tend to be the torch bearer for peripheral issues, and the climate change agenda is in the vanguard thereof.

    A couple of 'modifying' observations. I do agree that the more noteworthy stat would be the very big seasonal anomaly - however, given that an average is derived (in most parts of the world) by significant variation around a mean then some very high temperatures would be expected.

    The second point, I guess - and here the Indy has my huge personal sympathy - is that, in a changing situation in any environment, there will always be times when something first happens NOT as a random event, but as a randomly spaced event within the normal scheme of things. Let me give an example; very few people are born with six digits on one or other hand, but it happens very occasionally - this would be judged a freak mutation nowadays: roll forward, perhaps 100,000 years, and imagine a world in which, for whatever reason, many people are born with six digits; any individual occurrence could no longer be considered a rare mutation, so much as part of a new evolution. So it is with climate, and hence a point I have made in each of the recent autumns: if things consider as they are there will come a time, perhaps only a long time after the event, when we will realise that we have seen the last reliable widespread lowland snowfall in the UK. The situation we have at the moment is akin to my six fingers analogy being played out in reverse.

    So, The Indy may appear to be missing the point, but perhaps the real question is whether in pointing to the six-fingered mutant they are simply providing an early view from the crow's nest of a trend to come, or whether they are attribuuing a significance to this 'spike' that really will not stack up when we look back a few years hence.

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    Posted
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire
  • Weather Preferences: Sunshine, convective precipitation, snow, thunderstorms, "episodic" months.
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire

    I've been noticing +10C anomalies in the inner Arctic on and off since around mid-September and flagged them up some time ago, so I'm not too surprised by the news. On 4 October a small area was around 15C above! We need those positive anomalies to taper off towards November if any November northerlies are going to bring the traditional wintry mix of showers.

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    Posted
  • Location: Steeton, W Yorks, 270m ASL
  • Location: Steeton, W Yorks, 270m ASL
    I've been noticing +10C anomalies in the inner Arctic on and off since around mid-September and flagged them up some time ago, so I'm not too surprised by the news. On 4 October a small area was around 15C above! We need those positive anomalies to taper off towards November if any November northerlies are going to bring the traditional wintry mix of showers.

    Although the flippant gene in me is inclined to note that even 'traditional' February northerlies have latterly taken to producing rain showers on occasion.

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    Posted
  • Location: Rossland BC Canada
  • Location: Rossland BC Canada

    Well, I had a look at the daily records for Resolute and Cambridge Bay for July and August, they certainly are a good bit above normal, especially Resolute, possibly 3-4 C deg above normal in July, which is a large anomaly for this climate zone (or any climate zone in July). I think the warmest spell was right about the time I was flying home, because 12-13 July had 18 and 17 C at Resolute, which would very likely be the two warmest days on record there. About 10 days had max temps above 13 C. August was less abnormal, there were one or two rather warm days but the weather cooled off quickly near the end of August and it has been continuously below freezing at Resolute since about 13 September. Snow is slowly accumulating to about 5-10 cms now. As for Cambridge Bay, it looked more like 1 C degree above normal.

    This would all fit any number of theories, I suppose, ranging from mere chance, natural warming, AGW, north magnetic pole drift (away from Resolute, thereby relaxing the arctic vortex more each year now), and my favourite, your summer weather got misplaced.

    Really, really misplaced, but at least I got to look down on it. I so seldom get to look down on anything.

    :):) B) B)

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    Posted
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire
  • Weather Preferences: Sunshine, convective precipitation, snow, thunderstorms, "episodic" months.
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire
    Although the flippant gene in me is inclined to note that even 'traditional' February northerlies have latterly taken to producing rain showers on occasion.

    Unfortunately for snow lovers, a very good point! ;)

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