With All This Global Warming, Why is it So Cold?

Written by Eric Haxthausen on . Posted in Learn

Well, this is why we now use the term climate change.

Jeff Masters at the Weather Underground has a good post on what is happening with our weather that is making it so cold. And there is a good graphic at NOAA website that explains it.

The explanation that is gaining currency among climate scientists is that low levels of Arctic sea ice during the summer are causing more heat to be absorbed in the Arctic during the fall, and changing atmospheric circulation patterns, driving cold Arctic air into Europe and the Eastern United States and funneling warm air up into the Arctic regions.

This warm Arctic-cold continents pattern is likened to leaving the refrigerator door open. The room gets colder but the fridge warms up.

This new pattern is very different from the one we are accustomed to — case in point: the atmospheric circulation around the North pole actually reversed for a period of time last winter.

It also has the unfortunate byproduct that it generates a feedback loop that will tend to speed up warming, as it reinforces an atmospheric circulation that drives more warm air into the Arctic, melts more ice, allows darker land and water to absorb more sunlight, further warms the atmosphere in the Arctic, and thereby reinforces the new atmospheric circulation pattern.

So last night we had the unusual effect that the capital of Florida (Tallahassee) was colder (21° F this morning) than the capital of Greenland (with a low of 34° in the capital city Nuuk) or Iceland (43° in Reykjavik).

And as the globe continues to warm, we in DC and our counterparts in London might just need to get used to frigid winters.

Eric Haxthausen is director of U.S. Climate Policy for The Nature Conservancy.

(Image, courtesy of NOAA)

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Comments (24)

  • Elmar Veerman

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    Thank you for explaining, but… If you leave the fridge door open, your room will get warmer, not colder. All the energy it uses, is converted into heat. Feel at the back of the fridge.

    Reply

  • Terry Mock

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    Sustainable Land Development Project Goes Carbon Negative

    “Climate change is inevitable, proceeding and even accelerating.”

    With those alarming opening words, British scientist James Lovelock, author of the new book, “The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning,” is delivering a sobering message to large and influential audiences around the world. He says there’s nothing we can do now but adapt and survive. He claims it is too late for sustainable development and says civilization’s best strategy is “sustainable retreat.” If we stopped burning fossil fuels tomorrow, he explains, it wouldn’t do much. We’ve already released enough carbon over the past hundred years to push us past the point of no return.

    When pushed, Lovelock says, the only way we could do something meaningful to avoid catastrophe is to extract and permanently store CO2 from the atmosphere, in addition to dramatically reducing our emissions. And the approach with the most potential, says Lovelock, is to turn biomass material into charcoal, now re-branded as “biochar,” in a process known as “pyrolysis” and then bury it… http://www.triplepundit.com/2010/09/sldi-project-carbon-negative/

    Reply

  • Wayne b

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    “This warm Arctic-cold continents pattern is likened to leaving the refrigerator door open. The room gets colder but the fridge warms up.”

    Wow! This means that every house with a refrigerator can be air conditioned in the summer, does it?
    Just take out the food and leave the door open. How simple. Oh, but where is that heat that is being removed from the house going? I’d bet that it is being released into the house through the coils and fins on the back of the refrigerator making the room warmer still. Something about the 2nd law of thermodynamics, possibly?

    And, you people wonder why you have very little credibility left.

    Reply

    • David Connell

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      It’s an analogy, perhaps an imperfect one. The point is, the cold air leaves the refrigerator and cools the air outside the door, while at the same time the fridge itself is getting warmer.

      Reply

      • JeffT

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        As the late, great Don Meredith would sing, ‘Turn out the lights, the party’s over.” Close your mouth before all the hot air escapes. AGW is a fraud and the world has finally caught on.

        Reply

      • JVille

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        No, it’s an utterly silly and desperate evasion of the collapsing premises of “climate change….disruption”….whatever it is this week, computer-aided astrology. All of the analogies the AGW proponents put forth are gross oversimplifications trumpeted as absolute truth. The Greenhouse Effect itself is an oversimplification of the multiple and variable factors which drive the earth’s climate, as opposed to a sheet of glass trapping heat in a closed building. The scam is over.

        Reply

      • Kevin

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        An imperfect analogy is also known as a LIE. Real Science is not based on imperfect analogies.

        Reminds me of the old story about the light bulb in your fridge: when you close the door the extreme cold causes it to dim and almost go out. But the electricity flowing through it manages to barely keep it alive. There’s a nice imperfect analogy for you.

        Cheers, Kevin

        Reply

        • Kevin

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          Oh, by the way I used to be a STRONG supporter of the Nature Conservancy, but that stopped after you went down the RABBIT HOLE known as AGW.

          What a shame, you used to do some very good work.

          Reply

      • Willie Wilmette

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        Just when it looked like it was getting cooler!
        2006 was cooler than 2005
        2007 was cooler than 2006
        2008 was cooler than 2007

        Reply

  • Bob Armstrong

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    Face it . You alarmists are clueless with respect to science generally , and the physics of planetary temperature specifically . I have yet to have any “climate scientist’ show me the equations proving they even know how to calculate the temperature of a simple radiantly heated colored ball .

    What I find the greatest irony is over the gas which is the source of available carbon in the biosphere , the molecule out of which along with H2O they themselves are made , and which thus is provably greening the planet .

    Reply

  • John

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    This is getting pathetic. The theory was the world was getting warmer… not colder. That’s why I always write glo-bull warming.

    Glo-bull warming is about about people who live large telling the rest of us how to live small.

    Reply

  • Robert

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    As a 20+ year member of the Nature Conservancy I can’t believe the Nature Conservancy bought into this Global Warming scam. CO2 is a trace gas. Double it or triple it and it’s still a trace gas. The AGW theory has never been proven. The computer models that predict GWing have been show to be faulty at best. They can’t back cast so why should we believe their forecasts. Artic ice is currently above historical averages (what happened to the ice free artic that was predicted?) Antarctic ice is growing. England is setting record cold temperatures. Hell even Cancun set cold weather records during the AGW group hug. And don’t give me that weather versus climate crap. The AGW crowd wants to blame hurricanes on global warming but when we have a lack of hurricanes they say that’s the result of Global warming. Same with droughts and floods. Same with summer heat waves and frigid cold winters. Ocean Acidification, what a crock, the ocean is alkaline. Now they want to call it Climate Change. Well no s**t Sherlock. The climate always changes. Quit wasting my donations on crap like Climate Change.

    Reply

  • GLENNCZ

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    This years weather is simple climate change. The climate has always been changing, cycling through period of warmth and cold. What is occurring right now in Europe and the eastern US is the Arctic Oscillation has gone negative, just like it did back in the 60′s and 70′s. Sadly, the “flat-earthers” are now in charge of the minds of the masses and have many duped that the climate has been stable and the slight increase in warming since the mid 1970′s is unexpected or unprecedented. No It Isn’t! The climate is controlled by the sun and heat or cold released from the Pacific Ocean, and likely also the alignment of the planets. On top of that large volcanic eruptions could dominate the climate.
    Let’s talk FACTS. The sad fact is that we are not being fed constant misinformation by sources which only consider the minuscule rise of CO2 as the source of ALL. CO2 has risen from 3.5 parts per 10,000 to 4.00 parts per 10,000. One half molecule for every 10,000 molecules of air. It is water vapor that is the largest greenhouse gas. Also, very few know that man is only responsible for a very small percentage, about 3%, of all CO2 that is emitted. And most of it is reabsorbed.
    Yes, hard for many to swallow, there is a world-wide conspiracy afoot, and it is all about money, Big Money!

    Reply

  • MLucas

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    I’m a skeptical guy by nature, but I live close to the Great Lakes. To those of you who believe it doesn’t matter whether a large body of water to your north is frozen solid or open water when a the Jack Frost express comes blowing across it in your direction — I invite you to come to my house and shovel the 21″ of snow we just received over at 26 hour period. For you southerners who don’t understand this stuff, if the lake is frozen the air comes across cold and dry. If the lake is free of ice, that same wind comes across as a giant conveyor belt of precipitation…and in winter that means snow and lots of it. So yes, it most certainly matters whether the Arctic Ocean is covered by ice or not.

    How it plays out is another thing — seems unpredictable to me. One would certainly expect more snow, maybe a lot more snow, to fall on polar land masses. If it accumulates enough, it will increase albido, and insulate the ground. Ice Age anyone? But then there are effects of wind patterns, currents and ocean salinity. Expect the unexpected.

    Reply

  • Mary Norton

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    Ireland and England are experiencing terrible cold and snow, which is highly unusual for them this early on. Is this also part of the whole cycle? You speak of East Asia and the Eastern United States, but not much about Ireland, and only a small thing about London.

    What about other parts of the world. Aren’t we seeing global climate change? We have droughts in places that are normally wet and wet in places normally dry, etc.

    I wonder what it will take for people to understand that is Not ‘hooey’, that this is real. And why it is happening is as important right now as, how do we cope with it and how do we minimize it? Can we even really do much? What is best solution to this? It is the poor of this world who are suffering the most. What can an ordinary person do to help?

    Reply

  • RM

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    Wait just a minute! What happened to the fact that warm air, which is lighter, rises and cool air, which is heavier falls? How does the warm air then, all of a sudden, drop down and push the cool air out? Can’t happen!!! What happened to all those cold winters, for all of my life, being the result of cold arctic air ( remember the jet stream?) moving down through Canada and into the U.S.? Now it’s the result of warm air from the arctic?! WHAT A CROCK!!!! The Nature Conservancy is an environmental group. Look them up. They have an agenda, and it is not the accumulation of scientific knowledge. Do your own research, if you want to know the truth about climate.

    Reply

  • D.Clayton

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    “I’d bet that it is being released into the house through the coils and fins on the back of the refrigerator making the room warmer still. Something about the 2nd law of thermodynamics, possibly?
    And, you people wonder why you have very little credibility left.”
    So what you’re saying is things are going to get warmer.

    Reply

    • Tracen

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      Walking in the prenscee of giants here. Cool thinking all around!

      Reply

  • Vince

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    Even if their theory holds water (and that is still uncertain), it doesn’t prove that climate change is anthropogenic in nature. Until empirical evidence from actual observations that hasn’t been altered to fit the theory of AGW is discovered, then AGW is fiction.

    While we are on the subject of (supposed) Arctic warming, is there evidence to suggest that winters in Europe and eastern North America were even more brutal during the Medieval Warm Period than today, when the world was warmer than at present and there was presumably less Arctic ice than at present? How about during the Cretaceous Period or the Paleocene/Eocene Epochs when there were no ice caps at the poles at all, or at least tiny ones in comparison to todays’. Judging from the fossil record, it seems that life was flourishing during these periods despite the lack of ice.

    The AGW believers appear to be getting more and more desperate with their scaremongering. They should just give up. AGW is a walking corpse that really needs to return to the earth and push up autotrophs that will continue to green more of the planet, thanks to CO2, the beneficial trace gas we know, love, and can’t live without.

    Reply

  • Michelle

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    Thank you for the information.
    I heard the oil spill warmed the waters in the Gulf, will this colder climate help balance the water temp?

    Reply

  • Randall

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    Global Warming-cum-Climate Change-cum-Global Climate Disruption.

    What name will they use when THIS one does not pan out ?

    Oh I forgot. Catastrophic Human-Caused Climate Change means every type of weather which doesn’t meet the 500-year average, on a 4-billion year old planet.

    And even if the weather is ‘average’ for too long it’s CHCCC, so we’ve got all the bases covered.

    Reply

  • bob marley

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    What a bunch of crap. So now we don’t know if the Earth is warming or cooling, but OMG we know for sure that man made CO2 emissions are the cause.

    Reply

  • Robert of Ottawa

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    Except that there is nothing abnormal with Arctic Ice, you’ve got a beautiful theory there Mr. Haxthausen.

    Why do you people deny natural climate change?

    Reply

  • Salvatore Del Prete

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    BS, the reason why, the atmospheric circulation is more meridional, with a more negative AO,is twofold, low solar activity, and more high latitude volcanic activity.

    This is a set up, to promote global cooling. In order to have a cold N.H. one needs a warmer then normal Arctic, in contrast to the lower latitudes.

    This circulation pattern we now have, is all being caused by natural processes, and this meridional circulation could set up a positive feedback which will promote further cooling for the N.H ,which is the more meridional the circulation,means more land is likely to be snow covered in latitudes south of the polar regions, the more land covered with snow ,the greater earth’s albedo will be ,especially over the areas where the increase snow cover is happening. The end result is, THE meridional circulation becomes more entrenched and the positive feedback is established for cooling.

    THAT IS THE REAL STORY HERE, NOT WHAT THIS ARTICLE IS TRYING TO CONVEY.

    Reply

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