The “Beast from the East” that froze Europe last week is actually closer to the Game of Thrones Winter crossing The Wall. The Wall is a jet-stream driven by the temperature difference between the poles and continental Eurasia and North America. As the Arctic warms dramatically that differential disappears and the arctic airmass leaks south. The Vortex that froze northern USA in 2014 in a way that shocked the public at the time, has returned intermittently since and has now hit Northern Europe as well.
This is the atmospheric equivalent of the Gulf Stream that controls the weather in the North Atlantic, carrying warm tropical water up the East Coast of America to the West Coast of England. It is the Gulf Stream that keeps Eastern USA, England and Ireland comparitavely warm. The Ice Ages of pre-history occurred when the gulf stream was turned off.
Following a discussion about the impact of the gulf stream on ocean currents in live science discussions about whether global warming could cause an ice age fuelled hilarity among client skeptics. The notion was at the heart of the 2004 movie, The Day After Tomorrow. It took five years of more considered discussion for this simplistic notion that the planet will fix itself by simply flipping its major settings to engender a more nuanced discussion. Looking back over more than a decade of reporting on the politics of climate change what appears more important than our oversimplification of science in an attempt to get simple and clear explanations is the tendency to see these solutions as saving humanity. Rather than confronting the very real difficulties of the small changes in front of us, we immediately look to the more distant future in an attempt to find grand solutions.
How Climate Change Interacts With the Polar Vortex
The entire region of the Arctic above the 80 degree North Latitude line has been 8.64 degrees Celsius warmer than normal for all of 2018 thus far. This is an extraordinary departure for a region that plays a critical role in how the Earth’s climate system functions. When the Jet Stream winds slow, they tend to meander — forming large ridges and deep troughs. The elongated ridges and troughs eventually break like waves — pushing against the circulation of the Polar Vortex.
Record warmth in the Arctic is unprecedented. The north pole gets no sunlight until March, but an influx of warm air has pushed temperatures in Siberia up by as much as 35C above historical averages this month. Greenland has already experienced 61 hours above freezing in 2018 – more than three times as many hours as in any previous year. The question now is whether this signals a weakening or collapse of the polar vortex, the circle of strong winds that keep the Arctic cold by deflecting other air masses. The vortex depends on the temperature difference between the Arctic and mid-latitudes, but that gap is shrinking because the pole is warming faster than anywhere on Earth. While average temperatures have increased by about 1C, the warming at the pole – closer to 3C – is melting the ice mass.
Stronger storms mean new ‘category six’ scale may be needed
Traditional scale used goes only to five but strength and intensity of storms is increasing, stimulating creating a category six to reflect the increasing severity of tropical cyclones in the wake of warming sea temperatures and climate change.Scientifically, six would be a better description of the strength of 320km/h storms, and it would also better communicate the well-established finding now that climate change is making the strongest storms even stronger,
Climate change will push European cities towards breaking point
Uurgent need to adapt urban areas to cope with floods, droughts and heatwaves. The research highlights the urgent need to design and adapt our cities to cope with these future conditions.They found the British Isles have some of the worst overall flood projections, with the high scenario predicting half of UK cities could see at least a 50% increase on peak river flows.
There is a super-hot sport over the North Pole. It has forced the normal frozen Arctic air to the south, creating this crisis. We should call this the Dragon from the north, not the Beast from the East. The media has not discussed the connection. This is the only so-far-ultimate consequence of warming the planet and the oceans.
the Unusually Warm Arctic Might Scare Your Pants Off
Cities in Europe, meanwhile, are getting hit with unusually cold temperatures and snowfall. That’s days after the U.S. East Coast had record highs.
A Large Area of Open Water Forms North of Greenland During February
Warm winds blowing at up to gale force intensity from the south have assaulted the ice with high waves and above-freezing temperatures for about four days now. The ice edge north of Svalbard is being rapidly beaten back. Perhaps more disturbing, is the fact that the ice pack to the north of Greenland has also now withdrawn — opening up a huge polynya.
The global effect of Arctic melting will create almost as much global warming as already produced by the total rise in atmospheric CO2. Once a temperature threshold is breached, abrupt events follow due to amplifying feedbacks, even within a few years, examples being (1) freeze events which followed temperature peaks during past interglacial peaks due to influx of cold ice-melt water into the north Atlantic Ocean; (2) the Dansgaard–Oeschger warming events during the last glacial period; (3) the Younger dryas stadial freeze and the Laurentian stadial freeze. In some instances it only took a temperature rise of about 1-2 degrees Celsius to trigger extensive ice melt, with a flow of cold melt water into the oceans that triggered abrupt transitions that could occur over a few decades and even few years.
Geoff is an author, publisher and performer dedicated to building an independent media. He worked for Australian Consolidated Press as a Packer editor until starting his own media company in the mid-nineties.
The Generator started life as a radio show on Byron Bay's Bay FM and continues as an umbrella for the Cage, the Cross and Great Notion.