Courtesy of Washington’s Blog
The following sample of stories from the past year show that much of the world has been experiencing a cold spell:
- Heaviest snowfall in Northern China in six decades (and 2008 was called "the coldest winter in 100 years")
- Britain facing one of the coldest winters in 100 years, experts predict
- Across the South, Midwest, and Eastern seaboard [of the United States], a stubborn “arctic outbreak," tacked onto an already cold return to work for many Americans, augurs what meteorologist at AccuWeather.com are calling “the coldest winter in many people’s memory.”
- Arctic blast cripples country
- Fla. freezes as arctic blast makes its way south‘Brutally cold’ in Midwest — again
- More Snow Coming for Already Frigid Europe
- Arctic chill in South; record snow in East
- Frozen Britain may run short of gas
- China and S Korea gripped by freeze
- Seoul battles heaviest snow in 70 years
- Calgary’s cold weather causes record power demand and a call to conserve
- Peru’s mountain people face fight for survival in a bitter winter
- Avalanches bring misery to the frozen Alps
- The big freeze: Warnings of a Siberian snap
- Record cold wind chills of -50 C recorded overnight in Saskatchewan
- London colder than Antarctica
- Poor burn books to stay warm in chilly India, 55 dead
- Cold streak breaks 1892 record, Saskatoon experiences 24 consecutive days of -25 C
- Record cold weather payouts triggered as temperature hits -11C
- Record-breaking cold -37 in Moose Jaw, Canada
- Temperature in Germany Falls to Minus 34.6 Degrees
- Slovenia with record low temperature -49
- Flint’s 95-year-old record low falls as 19 below zero hits city
- Shocking cold wave drops temps to 40 below zero
- Dutch canals freeze over for the first time in 12 years
- Americans suffer record cold as temperatures plunge to -40C
- Arctic front freezes US, Canada in record cold snap
- Heavy snow causes 6,000 traffic accidents, 24 deaths in Moscow
- Cold snaps 124-year-old record in Fredericton, Canada
- Thailand temperatures are coldest in a decade
- Low temperature ties 1951 record in Hawaii
- Record Low Temperatures in Western Cuba
- Record-breaking cold -50°F temperature reached in Maine
- Snowstorms wreak havoc in the Balkans
- GUINEA: Record cold snap destroys crops, kills hundreds of animals
- ‘Snow bomb’ brings record snowfall across New Brunswick
- 84-year-old cold temperature record falls in Baltimore
- Cuba’s winter among its coldest
- Record-brrrrrrrrreaking cold -34.8 C in Regina, Canada
- Record snowfall (102 inches) a concern in Kotzebue, Alaska
- Australian Ski Resort has it’s earliest start to the season in the resort’s 45-year history
- Melbourne shivers through coldest April in 60 years
- NOAA: April Temperatures Slightly Cooler Than Average for U.S.
- Red Centre shivers in record cold
- Canada frosts the most widespread in recent memory
- Coldest day for 43 years
- Ocean waters off British Columbia coldest in half century
- Chicago has its coolest July 8 in 118 years
- Record Cold in Regina and Estevan Canada: Beats 92-Year-Old Record Low
- Coldest July 21 In Nashville, Tennessee Since 1877
- Antarctic air flow brings record snow fall to the Falkland Islands
- Coldest July ever for Grand Rapids, Michigan
- Coldest July on Record for Huntington, West Virginia
- Coolest July Ever for Fort Wayne, Indiana
- July was coldest on record for International Falls, Minnesota
- That was the coldest July in Dubuque, Iowa Ever
- July sets record for cold 1,100 new low temperatures set
- NOAA: July Temperature Below-Average for the U.S.
- Record snowfall for Cardrona, New Zealand
- NOAA: Summer Temperature Below Average for U.S.
- Denver breaks 104 year old cold temperature record as Arctic chill sets in
- B.C. Interior hit with record-breaking cold snap
- October Cold Snap Sets 82-Year Record in Chicago
- Record-setting cold in Laurel, Montana
- European cold snap kills 4 in Poland, cuts power
- Record cold day ties 1874 record in Baltimore
- Earliest snow on record blankets Poconos, Penn State
- Record-Breaking Early Snowfall In New York, New Jersey
- Friday coldest Oct. 16 in DC in 138 years
- October bringing record cold to Topeka, Kansas
- Coldest October in 64 years
- Beijing’s Heaviest Snow in 54 Years Strands Thousands
- Record snow turns Hebei’s capital into wonderland
- Italian ski resorts killing it with record snow
- Hong Kong shivers in coldest November in more than 120 years
- Whistler blows away November snowfall record
- 2009 – Often Alaska’s coldest spot, Bettles is setting records
- Snow on the French Riviera????
- Earliest snow on record for Houston and New Orleans
- Newfoundland digs out from record snow
- Record cold hits Sacramento
- Enormous winter storm over US
- Epic blizzard wreaks havoc: Blizzard forces school and road closures throughout Midwest
- Record setting cold grips Southwest Saskatchewan
- Record cold, snow envelop Japan Sea coast
- Record snow continues to fall as deadly East Coast storm lingers
- Health Ministry: 27 people froze to death in Ukraine due to current cold wave
- Three people freeze to death in Bosnia
- European weather deaths pass 100
- Record cold conditions kill nine people in Czech Republic
- Record snowfall blankets Moscow
- Winter freeze kills 79 in Poland
- Big freeze brings misery and death to Europe
- Deadly Cold Across Europe and Russia
- Record Levels Of Snowfall Hit City
- 4 more die of cold in UP; toll reaches 18
Highs Versus Lows
On the other hand, the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder argues that – while there have been numerous record lows – there have been more record highs than lows in the past decade, and that the ratio of record highs to record lows has actually increased. See this, this, this and this.
Short-Term Aberration, Or Change in Climate Trend?
Are the current spate of record lows just a short-term aberration, or a change in climate trends?
Those defending the C02 global warming theory argue, of course, that short-term weather fluctuations are irrelevant, and that the long-term trend is runaway warming.
But on Tuesday, the New York Times’ Andrew Revkin presented a less simplistic yet still mainstream view of the issue:
A big driver of the outbreaks of record cold and snow in many spots around the Northern Hemisphere is … the Arctic Oscillation, a pattern of atmospheric pressure that has two phases, positive and negative (somewhat like the more familiar cycle of El Niño and La Niña in the Pacific). A strong negative or positive condition can powerfully influence weather around the northern half of the globe and the behavior of sea ice on the Arctic Ocean.
The blue dot shows an extraordinary negative plunge of the index in December, taking it below any such reading since at least 1950 …
The head of the Beijing Meteorological Bureau asserted that global warming was behind unusual atmospheric patterns (a heap of climate scientists I queried saw no such link). Blogs of those variously called climate realists/skeptics/deniers are hammering on the chilly conditions, presumably in hopes of fending off a new push to close out the climate bill in the Senate.
John Michael Wallace of the University of Washington, one of the climate scientists who first identified the seesaw patterns of pressure around the North Pole and northern mid-latitudes, told me that the steep drop at the moment is likely to be transitory rather than a sign of a new trend in the Northern Hemisphere pressure cycle.
Overall, federal forecasters have said that the warming influence of a persistent El Niño warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean is likely to be a bigger driver of conditions through the full course of this winter …
Michelle L’Heureux, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center, told me there’s simply no explanation for what drives such extremes in the Arctic Oscillation, which she described as both a potent driver of northern latitude conditions and one of the least predictable, and understood, patterns in the atmosphere.
In other words, the mainstream view is that the Arctic Oscillation is driving the cold whether, no one knows what causes the Arctic Oscillation to switch on or off, but it will likely be short-term.
Top Climate Scientists Disagree
One of the leading climate modelers in the world – Professor Mojib Latif of Germany’s Leibniz Institute – disagrees. Professor Latif is the recipient of several international climate-study prizes and a lead author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) who has contributed significantly to the IPCC’s last two five-year reports that have stated unequivocally that man-made greenhouse emissions are causing the planet to warm dangerously.
Specifically, Latif thinks that the cold temperatures could last a decade or two.
In case you didn’t catch it, Latif made a presentation in September which addressed the cooling trend:
Yet last week in Geneva, at the UN’s World Climate Conference--an annual gathering of the so-called "scientific consensus" on man-made climate change --Latif conceded the Earth has not warmed for nearly a decade and that we are likely entering "one or even two decades during which temperatures cool."
The global warming theory has been based all along on the idea that the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans would absorb much of the greenhouse warming caused by a rise in man-made carbon dioxide, then they would let off that heat and warm the atmosphere and the land.
But as Latif pointed out, the Atlantic, and particularly the North Atlantic, has been cooling instead. And it looks set to continue a cooling phase for 10 to 20 more years.
"How much?" he wondered before the assembled delegates. "The jury is still out."
And see this.
Latif believes that after several decades of cooling, then global warming will kick in.
Other climate scientists predict longer periods of cooling. For example, Professor Don Easterbrook from Western Washington University says:
The PDO cool mode has replaced the warm mode in the Pacific Ocean, virtually assuring us of about 30 years of global cooling.
And professor Qing-Bin Lu University of Waterloo argues in a peer-reviewed paper that we will have 50 years of cooling.
Who Is Right?
So who’s right?
I have no idea. But – for now – I’m freezing my tail off.
That raises an interesting question: even if we are projected to have C02-induced global warming in the future, will the current cold snap – if it continues for another year or so – change the long-term climate trend?
p.s. Here’s another article: At -21c UK is as cold as the South Pole: Biggest freeze for 30 years wreaks havoc (and there are 10 more days to come) - Ilene