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A Winter Forecast Based On The Gulf Stream...for 1881-82


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Posted
  • Location: Irlam
  • Location: Irlam

A correspondent writes: "The past summer has been unusually cold in the Arctic Seas to the eastward of Greenland. The Dutch Arctic exploring ship Willem Barents has been unable to approach Spitzbergen, Novaya Zemlya or even the Bear Islands, on the account of the barrier of ice which has surrounded them. Indeed, the Arctic ice has remained unbroken this summer as far south as a point only 10 miles north of Iceland. Now if anyone will refer to one of the Keith Johnston's excellent charts of ocean currents, he will find that there is a constant stream of water moving from the East Greenland coast in a southerly direction and that after following the coast of North America for a considerable distance, it becomes merged in the Gulf Stream. Every one knows that it is to the warmth of this stream that we owe the comparatively mild winters which we enjoy in this country. Manchester is the same latitude as Labrador or the Hudson Bay, at a point 900 miles north of New York, and this fact alone may help the imagination to realise how vast is the benefit which we derive from the ameliorating influence of this great ocean current. Well, it is obvious that when the waters poured into this current from the Polar regions are unusually cold and mingled with icebergs, the Gulf Stream is likely to be so much the cooler. And the thought which occurs to me is this: If the past summer has been so cold in the Arctic regions as to prevent the ice from breaking up and floating southward, the cooling effect of the Arctic current upon the Gulf Stream must have been greatly diminished. Hence we are likely to have, I infer, an unusually mild winter. Of course, when the wind is blowing from the east or north, the tempering effect of this assumed higher temperature of the Gulf Stream must be very small indeed, but it appears exceedingly probable that whenever westerly winds prevail, we shall have very mild weather, and that on the whole, the coming winter is likely to be comparatively warm. I do not profess to be an accomplished or even a very well-informed meteorologist, but the inference which I have drawn from the facts presented to my mind seems so reasonable, that I have no hestitation in seeking to make it public."

Manchester Guardian

The CET of winter 1881-82?

5.1

Ripley's Believe it or Not! :o

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

It does seem to involve a different logic than most global climate forecasts, a closer ice margin would usually suggest colder weather patterns, but also, his assumption that the region he describes will be contributing less southward flowing melting ice has limited relevance since the Gulf Stream would be more influenced by trends much further west, but perhaps he assumed the case to be universal. I think he just got lucky with that one, noting also the winter of 1881-82 generally mild in eastern North America too.

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Posted
  • Location: Derbyshire Peak District. 290 mts a.s.l.
  • Weather Preferences: Anything extreme
  • Location: Derbyshire Peak District. 290 mts a.s.l.

It could also have been argued the that the large amount of arctic ice persisting throughout the summer would be responsible for a deep and early pool of very cold air to develop once the sun was on its way south, and that this pool of cold air would be likely to break south at intervals, increasing the chance of north or north easterly winds and resulting in some very cold weather.

I'd agree with Roger that he was lucky with that forecast but it's interesting to see the thought processes at work.

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