Ag Weather Forum

Cold Wave And Climate Change

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst
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The biggest weather news of this new year 2014 is, of course, the huge and hard-hitting cold wave during the first eight days of January. Questions have been asked in terms of how the cold wave should be interpreted in the climate change perspective. I put that question to my colleague Jeff Johnson, who is the Chief Science Officer for our parent company, Schneider Electric. Jeff is a co-author of a Schneider Electric "white paper" on climate change that was done last fall. His comments are interesting as they pertain to the extremes of weather features that have been so pronounced during the past several years.

"Yes the...extreme cold outbreak is a great example of the more volatile weather patterns that have been observed in recent years. Temperature anomalies with this outbreak, as well as another one that occurred in early December, produced temperatures that were 30-45 degrees Fahrenheit below normal. These types of departures are on the far end of observed anomalies.

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Both of the extreme cold episodes occurred when an upper (atmosphere) ridge (high pressure) built well to the north into the Alaska region. This highly-amplified ridge brought warm air to the north Pacific region, but on its eastern flank northerly jet stream winds drove cold air southward from the Arctic regions of Canada.

Extreme events like this have happened in the past, but we are seeing more of them. A possible cause that is being investigated is that greater warming in the Arctic regions of the globe is slowing the jet stream down in the far northern latitudes and causing more of these highly amplified patterns. Europe, Alaska and Russia experienced these abnormally cold periods in recent winters. This year North America is seeing them instead primarily due to the persistence of the ridge in the northern Pacific-Alaska area."


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Bryce Anderson
1/19/2014 | 6:00 AM CST
Thanks all for comments. I am closing this thread. There will be more opportunities for discussion in later topics.
1/18/2014 | 1:56 PM CST
Jay it is summer in Australia it is hot there in the summer, although exceptionally hot and dry. By the way it is also summer at the south pole where there 2 icebreakers stuck in the thick ice that was not supposed to be there.
Jay Mcginnis
1/18/2014 | 11:20 AM CST
No cliate change? Anyone willing to exchange farms with an Australian right now? Maybe have to slaughter your cow herd because of lack of water and highest temperatures ever recorded? Maybe exchange your wheat crop? Oh maybe we can send them some of that "West Virginia Tea" the "Freedom" coal industry made? Nice world we are making for ourselves isn't it?
1/17/2014 | 5:43 PM CST
They have been caught in to many lies and fudged to many computer model for me to believe they are going be honest about it anymore. Telling a lie loud enough and long enough to make it true is not as easy as it used to be. Marx Lenin Stalin would not like the internet. The Obama regime and his leftist pals have told so many whoppers no one trust them anymore. I have come to the conclusion that they will do and say anything to get their way. That is really quite sad. The old saying follow the money is probably the best advice.
Bryce Anderson
1/17/2014 | 1:59 PM CST
As to the implied question about solar energy variances being responsible for longer-term warming--the White Paper that is the spin-off source for the original blog entry has this comment. "While the number of sunspots can vary quite a bit through the (sunspot) cycle, the amount of energy from the sun varies only minutely, estimated to be only 0.1 percent over the course of the cycle. The current cycle has been unusually weak since the last peak in 2001; even weaker than recent forecasts have projected as it heads into its scheduled peak period later this year." The message in that statement is that the amount of energy from the sun does not change much at all.
Bryce Anderson
1/17/2014 | 1:52 PM CST
Regarding the question of "What the H is climate forcing?"--here is a definition from the National Academies Press. It's long but explains the term well. "A climate forcing can be defined as an imposed perturbation (or change) of Earth's energy balance. Energy flows in from the sun, much of it in the visible wavelengths, and back out again as long-wave infrared (heat) radiation. An increase in the luminosity of the sun, for example, is a positive forcing that tends to make Earth warmer. A very large volcanic eruption, on the other hand, can increase the aerosols (fine particles) in the lower stratosphere (altitudes of 10-15 miles) that reflect sunlight to space and thus reduce the solar energy delivered to Earth's surface. These examples are natural forcings. Human-made forcings result from, for example, the gases and aerosols produced by fossil fuel burning, and alterations of Earth's surface from various changes in land use, such as the conversion of forests into agricultural land. Those gases that absorb infrared radiation, i.e. (in other words), the 'greenhouse gases', tend to prevent this heat radiation from escaping to space, leading eventually to a warming of Earth's surface. The observations of human-induced forcings underlie the current concerns about climate change."
1/17/2014 | 10:08 AM CST
What the H is climate forcing ? New terms, new dates, loads of info from people with several initials in front of or behind their names citing studies funded by the government or some entity that will profit from global warming or endear themselves to some like group. You never hear anything about what the sun has to do with warming which last I checked was what warmed the earth . I knew for sure global warming was a hoax when Al Gore started claiming unbelievers were the same as racist, the statement that is most often used when you know you are wrong.
Bryce Anderson
1/16/2014 | 3:02 PM CST
Regarding Gordon Keyes' comment about James Hansen, the following paragraph from a report titled "Global Temperature Update Through 2012" published Jan 15, 2013 may provide some clarification on recent temperature trends: "Global surface temperature in 2012 was +0.56 degree Celsius (1 degree Fahrenheit) warmer than the 1951-1980 base period average, despite much of the year being affected by a strong La Nina. Global temperature thus continues at a high level that is sufficient to cause a substantial increase in the frequency of extreme warm anomalies. The 5-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade, which we interpret as a combination of natural variability and a slowdown in the growth rate of the net climate forcing." James Hansen co-authored the report along with climate scientists Makiko Sato of Columbia University and Reto Ruedy of the NASA Goddard Institute. You may read the full report at this link:
Bryce Anderson
1/16/2014 | 2:46 PM CST
From the white paper that is the spin-off source of this blog entry is this description of rising temperatures: "Many datasets have been examined in an attempt to construct an accurate record of the planet's historical temperature record, which shows that warmer temperatures have been more prevalent on a global basis. While there is still debate on the methods and quality of some of the measurements, there is clear evidence that the temperature for most areas has shown an increase from the early 20th century to the present time...Estimates show that the global climate has warmed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degree Celsius) since 1901."
1/16/2014 | 12:43 PM CST
Cold Wave and Climate Change sure does sound better than Cold Wave and Global Warming. You folks always change the language when your point starts to go south. James Hansen just retired from NASA or NOAA has said he has not seen any warming in about 10 to 15 years. Others have been caught cooking the books. It is the new religion of the left who have several schemes to profit from it. They have control of your health care now if they can control your energy land use through their precious EPA it will all be complete. With the lying socialist in power that should not take long.
1/16/2014 | 7:45 AM CST
Bruce, you didn't answer my questions. How much has the temperature and sea level increased in the last 15 years, the last 100 years? This data is available. I think the earth is warming. I'd like to know how much.
Bryce Anderson
1/15/2014 | 1:36 PM CST
Drier conditions have not gotten into trade thinking yet--but they will certainly command more respect if the late winter pattern shows no change. Regarding climate change/global warming research--the campaign almost four years ago to discredit the research on temperature change has itself been widely discredited.
1/15/2014 | 11:01 AM CST
The grain producing areas of the Pacific Northwest are in dire need of moisture. We have no snow now and have had none this winter. Precipatation in Ephrata, Washington (Central Washington)was recorded at .01 for this winter so far. We think this is generally the case, al least, in the dry land producing areas of central Washington. Recent 40 mph winds have not helped.
1/15/2014 | 7:28 AM CST
The sun so hot I froze to death. Come on ,how many degees has the earth warmed in the last 15 years, the last 100 years? How much has the oceans raised in the last 15 years, the last 100 years? The pro-globle warming people have admitted in e-mails to each other that they had to lie about their numbers to prove their results. This is not science it's fraud.Why aren't they in jail?