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CryoSatApp: Ice Data at Your Fingertips

Discover ESA's ice mission, track it in real time and obtain the latest measurements with the new CryoSat application. CryoSat is measuring the thickness of polar sea ice and monitoring changes in the ice sheets that blanket Greenland and Antarctica.

The CryoSat iPhone and iPad application - or CryoSatApp - is now available at Apple's App Store. CryoSatApp's main menu provides access to four sections: mission description, a 3D model of the satellite, position tracking and data visualisation.


I hope they get some good looking graphs of ice thickness out there as well before the melting season starts!

Jeff Hamilton

The Global Sea Ice Area anomaly (Cryosphere Today) has just gone POSITIVE for the first time since August 2010!


Arctic 4 Jan - 11.884 km2 = -0.531
Antarctic 4 Jan - 5.104 km2 = +0.557

PS First post for me. I've been lingering since the summer. Great work everybody and Neven especially - Cheers!


Thanks a lot for this, Jeff! I'll do a post on this in a day or two when the graphs catch up. 2011 was the first full year to have no positive anomaly for Global SIA.

Andrew Xnn

I see that December Arctic sea ice extent is the 3rd lowest on record AND that's extent, so thickness and volume is an open question.

Dec 2010 was the lowest extent on record.


PIOMAS updated again, fixing yesterday's glitch.

My graphs from this data, first daily ice volume:


The daily ice volume that was at record low (for the date) for most of 2011 is now in a close race with 2010. At the end of 2011, the ice volume is at second place: 14.407 (14.361 in 2010).

Monthly average ice volume, with exponential trends:


Similar to my remarks above, the 2011 Oktober, November and December data points fall above the projected trends. The other months were on or below.

We will see is this in itself is going to be a new trend.

Climate Changes

What is not looking too dissimilar to 2011 is the current Ozone above the Arctic. Compare to other previous years. Seems like we are heading for another 'hole' this year?


People can use protection, but what about the fauna? surely wild life will suffer with this increase of UV rays. We're going to face so many problems that I find hard to see a way to solve them other than the Geo approach :\

Climate Changes

...and of course what implications a yearly Ozone depleted area may have on the Arctic ice/sea.

Chris Reynolds

Hi Neven,

As discussed on the AO Index page you linked to the AO index is determined by the 'likeness' of the pressure fields to the Loading Pattern of the AO. That goes well outside the Arctic. In any case with the pressure over the Arctic being a mix of high (Siberian) and low (the rest) the balance is neutral - and the index is near neutral.

I have it on good authority that a repeat of 2009/10 is rather unlikely. That does not rule out some typical winter cold snaps. If the AO goes -ve we may just see that. But I'm not expecting a harsh winter.

Here in the UK it's been W I N D Y ! ;)

Re NSIDC - The direct link between cold winters and the Arctic looks dead in the water to me. Cohen's recent work as discussed at my blog blows Overland's direct linkage out of the water. The link is more subtle, with Siberian snowfall being the critical intermediate step.

Aaron Lewis

You want special weather? Try California, we are off the charts - dry. While it has not really shown up in the big picture (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) yet, this season has been very dry (http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/products/PLOT_SWC.pdf). This should be our wet season, and there is no rain in the models.

Drought in California will combine with the drought in Texas to raise food prices world wide. The price of hay has doubled in the last month, and ranchers are starting to sell off their herds. Even a big blizzard in New England would be cheaper.

We have one weather system. More heat in that weather system changes all the weather, everywhere.

I Ballantinegray1

Seeing as CH4 destroys Ozone do we think the recent uptick in polar CH4 emissions may link into the continued decline of ozone over the pole? Even if not there are far more folk to be exposed to heightened U.V. levels over Spring than in the Southern hemispheres spring? I wonder how much of a splash the news of this coming springs 'hole' will cause and whether we see a causal link to AGW being touted?

Timothy Chase

I Ballantinegray1 wrote:

Seeing as CH4 destroys Ozone do we think the recent uptick in polar CH4 emissions may link into the continued decline of ozone over the pole?
The uptick in methane seems to have been outliers, possibly due to instrumental error, although there is the resumption of a rising trend in methane the past few years, so it is possible that may have an effect.

A large part of what caused last year's ozone hole was a stronger polar vortex, December of 2010 through March 2011. Currently the Arctic Oscillation is strongly positive, indicating a strong polar vortex, which is currently making for a warm dry winter throughout much of the United States and Europe.
I Ballantinegray1 wrote:

Even if not there are far more folk to be exposed to heightened U.V. levels over Spring than in the Southern hemispheres spring?

This was a point made in a paper regarding last years hole. The authors also stressed its mobility.

They stated:

Although the Arctic polar vortex is smaller than its Antarctic counterpart, it is also much more mobile, often moving over densely populated lower latitudes, where UV radiation is more intense than near the pole. By mid-April 2011, the lower stratospheric vortex had shifted off the pole and sat over central Russia, remaining intact and enclosing total ozone values less than 275 DU through late April (Figure 5). Significant increases in surface UV radiation were associated with these low ozone levels. For example, under a lobe of the vortex extending south over Mongolia on 22 April, the clear sky UV index (UVI, a commonly used metric for gauging the impact of surface UV radiation on human skin) at 48°N, 98°E was 8.60, compared to the long-term average of 5.36, an anomaly roughly seven times the standard deviation. The 22 April value was close to the highest UVI at that location in mid-summer. On 17 April, a tongue of vortex air extended over the Alps. Even though this tongue had experienced some in-mixing of extra-vortex air, the UVI at Arosa (46.8°N, 9.7°E) increased to 7.4, about four standard deviations above the long-term mean. UVIs exceeding 7 can cause sunburn within minutes.

Manney, G.L., et al., 2011, Unprecedented Arctic ozone loss in 2011, Nature (2011)(Subscription Required)

The Antarctic ozone hole puts people in the southern most parts of South America at much greater rise for skin cancer and cataracts. I would assume that with more intense solar radiation at lower latitudes even a hole that isn't as severe as that Antarctic will pose as great or a greater threat, particularly as the hole is capable of reaching more densely populated areas. This is directly relevant, even to people living in the US lower 48. For example, Seattle is at 47.62°N and the hole wandered as low as 46.8°N in 2011, resulting in dangerously high ultraviolet radiation levels at that latitude.
I Ballantinegray1 wrote:

I wonder how much of a splash the news of this coming springs 'hole' will cause and whether we see a causal link to AGW being touted?
I believe it is global warming related.

With the Antarctic Polar Vortex, I remember reading that it has become stronger due to the temperature differential between the troposphere and the stratosphere. In part, stratospheric cooling is due to the increased levels of carbon dioxide making the upper stratosphere a better emitter/radiator of thermal energy, the troposphere a better absorber (“good absorbers are good emitters”), with the net effect of carbon dioxide being that of an emitter above the effective radiating altitude but absorber below.

As such, while one year to the next is weather, with rising levels of carbon dioxide and the cumulative effect of higher levels on temperature over time, it would make sense if we saw a trend towards stronger polar vortexes in the Winter and Spring. As the vortex serves to isolate the polar atmosphere from the rest of the atmosphere a strengthened vortex will amplify the cooling effect of higher levels of carbon dioxide on the stratosphere, although I would presume that being largely driven by the temperature differential between the stratosphere and troposphere it will tend to cool the lower stratosphere more so than the high.

Similarly, the warming effect on the stratosphere of ozone (due to the absorption of ultraviolet radiation and thermalization of the energy through collision) takes place primarily in the lower stratosphere, and thus the cooling effect of ozone depletion has been primarily in the lower stratosphere. However, the level of CFCs in the stratosphere has been gradually decreasing. As such, the CFCs alone do not explain the ozone loss during the Spring. Increased levels of ice clouds providing a surface for and activating CFCs does.

But this is due to lower temperatures in the stratosphere. So if there is a trend towards greater ozone loss what is driving it in large part is likely rising levels of carbon dioxide with the consequent lower temperatures in the stratosphere, higher temperatures in the troposphere, and with cooling due to a stronger polar vortex and ozone loss serving to amplify the cooling effect of rising levels of carbon dioxide on the stratosphere.

To me at least, it seems that we are dealing with some sort of threshold behavior and that we can expect the Arctic hole to become more common, at least for as long as CFC levels remain high enough.


Arctic seas minimum 2011
I love maps. I wondered what geography was meant when referring to seas in last two years of entries on Neven’s blog. So while I was shaping up my CAD map I introduced CT’s coloured pic and resized the resulting area’s to any reliable data I could find on the Internet.
I like the map as it looks now and thought I’d present it on the blog. To be able to read the data, follow the link. I introduced the MODIS-originating boundaries for the minimum low concentration ice and CT’s boundary for high concentration ice.
With that, it’s easy to see that the remaining sea ice is almost restricted to the Central Arctic Basin, measuring 4.42 million square km. In this area, MODIS reflects high concentration ice over 2.33 million sq.km, while CT does for 3.07 (excluding small pockets elsewhere).
For comparison, total sea ice stands for 4.5 million sq.km’s on this map, excluding 4 pockets left in the Canadian Archipelago.
Remarkable too is that the Barentsz-, Kara-, Laptev- and Chukchi Seas were practically icefree.


On 25 september I commented on a long warm fall for Europe (or Snowmageddon?) in relation to the very low sea ice minimum in the Barentsz-/Kara Sea region and the high SST anomalies over there.
On 9 november I could do a follow-up on the strong blocking over Europe.
Today I think I’m entitled to state that ‘the long warm fall’ for Europe has lasted into winter 2012. Blocking through November was followed by strong jet-stream weather through December. Today, I saw roses, Althaea’s still developing new flowers on last year’s branches. OTOH Pulmonaria’s, Euonymus, Willows and most spring bulbs are starting to flower.
You could say last fall never stopped. Or spring is six weeks early.
Weather? Or climate? Where’s the cold? Quite bitter in the Beaufort-Chukchi region, Alaska and north-east Siberia. Not on the Atlantic side. Svalbard, Franz-Josef Land and Ostrov Vize reflect that. I think this NH winter fits right in the ever warming trend, though the pattern in warmth distribution is confusing.


Werther, that map looks very nice. Do you think you could send me a larger version? It might come in handy.

Timothy Chase

RE I Ballantinegray1

The link between climate change and the arctic ozone hole is acknowledged here by researcher Kimberly Strong:

The researchers say ozone-destroying chlorine compounds in the atmosphere played a role. The chemicals have been banned internationally under the Montreal Protocol, but are so "long-lived" they are expected to linger in the atmosphere for decades.

Researchers also suspect climate change contributed. While temperatures at Earth's surface are climbing, there is a cooling trend in the stratosphere that has been linked to increasing greenhouse gases. And the cold temperatures can create stratospheric clouds that destroy ozone.

"There are these competing processes," says Strong, who expects to be busy for the next decade or two measuring how things play out in the upper atmosphere.

Disappearing ozone remains a mystery
Margaret Munro, Postmedia News Jan 7, 2012

However, she seems to think that it is unlikely to occur again:

"Things just came together," Strong says. "The vortex was very stable. It was very cold. Conditions were just right."

"I don't think we are going to see another ozone hole," Strong says. "But you always have to expect the unexpected."


A Noaa page states that the polar vortex was the strongest in either hemisphere over the past thirty years:

The persistently cold temperatures were linked to the strength of the polar vortex, a high-altitude cyclone of very cold air and swirling winds. The circling winds formed a barrier that prevented Arctic air (and the ozone-depleting gases) from escaping the region. A vortex forms in both polar regions each winter season. The vortex that encircled the North Pole region this past winter was the strongest polar vortex seen in either hemisphere in the last thirty years.

Unusually Chilly Stratosphere Behind 2011′s Record Arctic Ozone Hole, Tuesday, October 18, 2011

They also link the ozone depletion to greenhouse gases cooling the stratosphere.

Anyway, if the researchers seem to think a similar hole is unlikely this year, they are probably right.

Hans Verbeek

Russian (!!) tanker Rena set to supply Nome (Alaska) with fuel encountered sea-ice in the Bering Sea.
The early winter is becoming expensive for Alaskans.

Chris Biscan

MYI has been smoked this year. Absolutely devestated so far.


Yea, I am sure there is some ridging in there. But also a ton of transport out the Fram.

Andrew Xnn

Nice animation Chris;

Suspect "ambiguous" should be more prevelant. Noticed multi-year ice appearing off the coast of Baffin Island. So, the final frame is probably over stating the extent of multi-year ice.

So far, this winter has shown itself to be very different than last. If we accept the premise that last year the polar vortex was at a 30 year anomaly, then this winter may be more of the norm.

Climate Changes

"A Noaa page states that the polar vortex was the strongest in either hemisphere over the past thirty years"

Wouldn't the polar vortex get stronger as the warming continues?
I understood that the PV's strengh steemed from the temp diference bewteen the inside and the outside of the vortex and that it is only when the sun returns to the arctic and warms the air inside that the difference bewteen the two airs lessens thus 'breaking' the vortex. So in the one hand colder stratospheric conditions above the Arctic result of GW, on the other warmer air outside the artic circle, recipe for stronger PV's?

Stratospheric temperature is decreasing and that is in turn creating a perfect breeding ground for PSC's. Whether the recent increase of these clouds and their raggedy edges (NLC's) has a relation with increased atmospheric vapour is still being debated but I don't think nature gives concessions for debates.

"However, the level of CFCs in the stratosphere has been gradually decreasing. As such, the CFCs alone do not explain the ozone loss during the Spring. Increased levels of ice clouds providing a surface for and activating CFCs does."

Yes, CFC levels are not increasing dramatically but they are not out of the picture yet. Production and supply of CFC's is not banned on its entirety. Some countries are under a phase out and some products are allowed to use CFC's for maintenance purposes. Also old fridges, freezers, air con and cooling systems in some less resourceful countries are dumped out without control.

Replacement HFC's were brought to us by the same company that gave us CFC's (DuPont) and to be honest, their environmental record is apalling to say the least. HFC's are not 100% Ozone friendly either but they do have a shorter atmospheric lifespan and contribute to warming instead.


Interesting graphic Chris. Are other images available e.g. from a year ago?


has much more multiyear ice surviving.

That does allow comparison to 1 Nov to 30 May dates for several years but I cannot see how to do a direct link other than

and change the date.

This has much more MY ice now than 2 Jan 2008. I wonder if circumstances are changing what counts as MY ice? Even if the images are consistent and there really is that much more MY ice extent than this time in 2008, it surely isn't as thick. Perhaps more likely is this source doesn't adequately account for movement of ice whereas your does?


Nice animation, Chris! I'll be comparing things to previous years in a month or so.

In the meantime, here's a piece I wrote about the Arctic Oscillation which I keep re-reading, because I keep forgetting how things work. A positive AO in winter does indeed make for more MY ice transport through Fram, but as we can see also makes for very cold conditions on the Canadian side of the Arctic.

And in a post from May 2011 called Ice Age I compared images from AARI for the period 2008-2011 (in May). Right-click and view to see the other two years as well:

Right now my gut is saying that we'll see something that will be dubbed 'recovery!!!' in some parts of the internets this melting season, ie close to 2009 minimum extent. But I try to be extra careful to appear neutral. :-P

Does anyone have an idea how this winter is progressing? Melting is a bit easier to make sense of.


PS I've watched 6 out of 7 parts of Frozen Planet with my daughter now ("The Arctic is where the penguins are, right?" "No, that's where the icebears are. The penguins are in the Antarctic."). Awesome imagery, literally awe-inspiring. Will watch the forbidden episode later this week when the curtains are drawn.

Timothy Chase

AJP wrote:

Wouldn't the polar vortex get stronger as the warming continues?

I would expect so, but Kimberly Strong was quoted by the Leaderpost reporter Margaret Munro:

"Things just came together," Strong says. "The vortex was very stable. It was very cold. Conditions were just right."
I don't know for sure, but by "stable", I would assume that she meant that either the vortex didn't move early on, and thus was able to focus its effects in one spot prior to its meandering trip that took it further south than Seattle, or simply that once it gained strength it remained strong. In either case, this may be unusual and unpredictable, with a fair amount of "natural variation," much like the behavior of a hurricane.

Regarding this natural variability, Manney (2011) states:

The Arctic winter stratosphere exhibits striking interannual variability. The last decade in the Arctic has included the four most dynamically active (hence among the warmest) winters in the past 32 years and also, now, the two coldest winters with most chlorine activation and largest ozone loss, extending the previously noted trend over the past 45 years of the coldest winters getting colder.

Manney, G.L., et al., 2011, Unprecedented Arctic ozone loss in 2011, Nature (2011)(Subscription Required)

At the same time, they seem somewhat less reticent:

Arctic chemical ozone destruction in 2011 rivaled that in some Antarctic ozone holes despite much milder temperatures, raising the possibility of yet more severe depletion as lower stratospheric temperatures decrease. Since our present understanding of what drives variability and long-term changes in the Arctic winter stratosphere is limited, we have no ability to predict, even at the start of a season, whether conditions similar to or more extreme than those in 2011 will be realized in any given winter.

Manney (2011)

... but Strong expressed uncertainty as well. Currently, though, while the index has been strongly positive, it is weakening. You can see some of the effects of this in the change in the weather that is sweeping the United States at the moment, with cold air coming in from Canada.

AJP wrote:

Whether the recent increase of these clouds and their raggedy edges (NLC's) has a relation with increased atmospheric vapour is still being debated but I don't think nature gives concessions for debates.
I would certainly expect it to, but it is my understanding that the rise in water vapor took place only over two or three years. I would have to look it up though.

AJP wrote:

Yes, CFC levels are not increasing dramatically but they are not out of the picture yet. Production and supply of CFC's is not banned on its entirety.
It was my impression that they had actually expected the Arctic Ozone Hole to begin closing up over the next few years (even though it hasn't actually shown signs of this), and given this, I had assumed that CFC concentrations in the stratosphere were diminishing. I might want to research that.

HFC's are not 100% Ozone friendly either but they do have a shorter atmospheric lifespan and contribute to warming instead.
At least they didn't go with bromoflorocarbons.

Please see:

If bromofluorocarbons had been used, rather than chlorofluorocarbons, as refrigerant gases by industry from the 1930s onward, human health would have paid a heavy toll, for the destructive power of bromine on the ozone of the stratosphere is one hundred times greater than that of chlorine. It was only by chance-the relative properties of the two gases having been unknown when chlorofluorocarbons were first introduced for industrial purposes-that mankind escaped a major ecological catastrophe. The Dutch chemist Paul Crutzen, a Nobel laureate, points out that the use of bromofluorocarbons would have led not merely to a seasonal reduction in the concentration of stratospheric ozone (which filters out the dangerous ultraviolet rays of the sun) over an uninhabited part of the earth (the Antarctic), but to a permanent and worldwide reduction, with far-reaching consequences in the form of skin cancers and cataracts.

An excerpt from
The Middle Path: Avoiding Environmental Catastrophe, by Eric Lambin

... Paul Crutzen had mentioned this in 1995 -- which was the same year that he received the Nobel Prize -- and it sounded just like the sort of detail one might include in a Nobel lecture, so I checked...
Furthermore, while the establishment of an instability in the Ox-ClOx system requires chlorine activation by heterogeneous reactions on solid or supercooled liquid particles, this is not required for inorganic bromine, which is normally largely present in its activated forms due to gas phase photochemical reactions. This makes bromine on an atom to atom basis almost a hundred times more dangerous for ozone than chlorine (78, 52). This brings up the nightmarish thought that if the chemical industry had developed organobromine compounds instead of the CFCs - or alternatively, if chlorine chemistry would have run more like that of bromine - then without any preparedness, we would have been faced with a catastrophic ozone hole everywhere and at all seasons during the 1970s, probably before the atmospheric chemists had developed the necessary knowledge to identify the problem and the appropriate techniques for the necessary critical measurements. Noting that nobody had given any thought to the atmospheric consequences of the release of Cl or Br before 1974, I can only conclude that mankind has been extremely lucky, that Cl activation can only occur under very special circumstances. This shows that we should always be on our guard for the potential consequences of the release of new products into the environment. Continued surveillance of the composition of the stratosphere, therefore, remains a matter of high priority for many years ahead.

My Life With O3, NOx and Other YZOXs
Nobel Lecture, December 8, 1995, by Paul Crutzen, pg. 214 (pdf pg. 26)
http://nobelprize.org/ (pdf)


Right now my gut is saying that we'll see something that will be dubbed 'recovery!!!' in some parts of the internets this melting season, ie close to 2009 minimum extent. But I try to be extra careful to appear neutral. :-P

Neven, I know this is a long shot prediction, but I would concur with your gut feelings...
My own " gut feelings" is based on the following observations/ expectations:
- Sea Ice is much thicker and much more extensive in areas such as the Bering, Chucksi seas, which means that it will take longer to melt
- AO is known to be very fickle and unpredictable but it seems to be stuck on positive this Winter which means that we may see a late onset of melting next Spring.
But again as you often remind us, nothing is certain in the Arctic !


With the effects of the Atlantic Interdecadal Oscillation on max mode now, I think it is clear the continuous warming will affect the sea ice in that sector most. In fact, I’d break for study of the AO/NAO concerted bifurcations of the North Atlantic Drift. Last year, it benefitted anomalously warm SST’s around Greenland. This time, the lot seems to go right up to Svalbard and into the Barentsz Sea. It’s not that it appears as red hot anomaly, but it’s consistent and widespread.
As during the positive NAO period during the ninetees, it could result in large MYI loss through Fram Strait (think 200 km³). It could also appear as soon as sunlight returns, through very thin ice in the whole Fram-NorthPole-Severnaya Zemlya sector. Almost a million km² of what was left there last year could be on the verge of collapse during 2012. OTOH, yes, the cold on the other side could prevent this to become the ‘final blow’.
The whole interaction is nicely complicated. Freshening upper layers, the halocline, eddies, tropo- and stratospheric circulation, to mention some, make it impossible to figure out what path this is going. FI, there could be a break for the Greenland Icesheet , due to present cold and warmth/moisture induced snowfall. But the focus for change can easily go to the Russian arctic this year (Novaya Zemlya-Taymir).
A hunch based on this: 1 million lost Atlantic side / 700 MK saved Bering side. Another fight against 2007 for extent. Another loss, relentlessly, on volume. But no international headlines (yet).


BTW, full sight over Antarctica these days. No guessing in the dark.
I think the Larsen A/B fast ice is on the verge of ‘passing away’.
Let’s watch, though we’re supposed to be ‘Arcties’, how the shelves over there take the sun’s punch!


Timothy Chase wrote
"It was my impression that they had actually expected the Arctic Ozone Hole to begin closing up over the next few years (even though it hasn't actually shown signs of this), and given this, I had assumed that CFC concentrations in the stratosphere were diminishing. I might want to research that."


"success in reducing the growth of atmospheric concentrations of CFCs, and seems to have lead to at least a leveling off of ozone depletion over most of the planet. Full recovery is not expected for a few decades though."

I thought I had read something on realclimate to indicate circa 60 - 80 years for CFCs to fall sufficiently to allow ozone hole to substantially recovery but I cannot find it and my memory may be faulty.



1-3 (p34-62) of above gives lifetimes for lots of halocarbon compounds. I found that via


P72 onwards has graphs suggesting peak concentrations were around 1998 but some are not declining very steeply upto 2010

Timothy Chase

Crandles, the bit you quoted from Real Climate seems like the stuff I had remembered. The UN scientific assessment you link to gives the days, weeks, and years that various ozone destroying chemicals remain in the atmosphere. This gives me a couple thoughts.

We are worried that the load of CFCs diminishes only very slowly, and yet the conditions under which it destroys the ozone layer are fairly special.

Quoting from Paul Crutzen's Nobel speech:

Furthermore, while the establishment of an instability in the Ox-ClOx system requires chlorine activation by heterogeneous reactions on solid or supercooled liquid particles, this is not required for inorganic bromine, which is normally largely present in its activated forms due to gas phase photochemical reactions.
CFCs are long-lived, like BFCs would have been, but they require the activation on clouds and are able to destroy ozone only during early spring sunlight, while the temperatures has yet to melt away the stratospheric ice clouds.

As increased atmospheric concentrations result in more of these clouds and extend their lifetime by lowering stratospheric temperatures, this poses an increasing threat since stratospheric temperatures will continue to fall with greater CO2 concentrations that, for a while, may more than compensate for the declining concentrations of CFCs, increasing the danger.

The other ozone destroying chemicals are likely similar to bromine in the sense that they won't require the stratospheric ice clouds for activation, and are thus able to destroy ozone as long as there is sunlight. By regulating the release of these other ozone-destroying chemicals, we might be able to reduce this risk, but by how much? This is presumably what the Equivalent Effective Stratospheric Chlorine calculation is about, or at least, could be used for. We might be able to manage this risk. A bit like we might buy some time in lowering CO2 emissions by reducing the emissions of other greenhouse gases (e.g., methane or nitrous oxide) or even black carbon, even though the atmospheric lifetime on the other gases are much shorter.

At the same time, the parallels and differences between anthropogenic global warming and CFC/BFC stratospheric ozone depletion are somewhat striking. CFCs and BFCs are, like carbon dioxide, long-lived The full catastrophic effects of their being released into the atmosphere in large quantities are in the somewhat distant future, although some of those effects are being experienced even now. With CFCs, we were releasing them for decades with no knowledge of their ill effects. With carbon dioxide, we released it into the atmosphere with little knowledge of the effects.

In the case of CFCs, once we became aware of its effects, we were largely able to limit the damages. Had we been using BFCs, the consequences might very well have been much more devastating without our knowing anything until it was too late. A real nightmare scenario, one that might have meant the end of modern civilization.

When we became aware of how CFCs damaged the ozone layer the industries that produced and used them started a disinformation campaign, but one that was limited in its scope as they just wanted to buy time to switch to other chemicals. With CO2 it is a different story. The disinformation campaign is on-going. They will push the ideas that warming is due to the sun, that the quantities of carbon dioxide that we release are too small to have much of an effect, or they will deny that carbon dioxide has its well-known radiative properties.

It seems to me this link between ozone depletion and the radiative properties could be used for educational purposes. The fact that it cools the stratosphere highlights the fact that what we are dealing with is an enhanced greenhouse effect, not increased solar radiance. Despite the fact that our emissions are small compared to the atmosphere itself, both CFCs/BFCs and carbon dioxide clearly do have very significant effects, and left unchecked, the consequences for human civilization might have been devastating with BFCs, could have been devastating in the case of CFCs, and may still be devastating in the case of CO2.

Then there is the issue of ignorance, the most catastrophic could very well have been locked in before anyone knew what was being set in motion. In the case of CFCs, we figured out what was going on and were able to avert disaster, although there was a somewhat limited campaign to deny the effects.

But in the case of CO2, the disinformation campaign in the United States is essentially unlimited. It has even overtaken one of the two major parties and in that party has been made a de facto requirement for being their candidate for the highest office in the land. In what is still quite arguably the most powerful nation on earth. A country that has been largely responsible for blocking effective action in limiting CO2 emissions.

In the case of CO2, many of the future catastrophic consequences are already locked in. And it offers another nightmare scenario. One in which a deliberate, large scale disinformation campaign is left unchecked. Where the potential consequences although differing in many respects, are on roughly the same scale as what would have been involved in a world where we had chosen to use BFCs rather than CFCs.


I see the big difference between the two as the cost/economic implications. For CFCs' the cost and preparation time were relatively small. In addition it was pratical to pretty much just ban CFCs and this would have effect of stopping accelerating effects within a few years. These effects combined to make banning them a clear decision on cost benefit grounds. Ethical and moral consideration just made it even more clear cut. With economics simply settled, it was mainly a matter of negotiating the timetable to introduction of the ban. This was really just a matter of how long to identify and gear up production of alternatives.

Unfortunately, AGW is a much harder problem to deal with: A complete ban isn't practical, heavy taxation is costly economically, and the benefit to action now doesn't come for decades so economic thinking discounts that benefit heavily.

To justify action economically it is necessary to show that no action is risky so future gdp should be discounted heavily if no action is taken but less heavily if risk reducing action is taken. (This is equivalent to justifying an unusually low discount rate.)

If that economic argument can be won then we still have timetable to introduction of the necessary taxation issues as we had for CFCs but multiplied many times to represent the higher economic costs and benefits at stake and the greater difficulties of introducing taxation (big government disliked) rather than a simple ban.

Climate Changes

You're right to say that there is an economic argument but what the economic system is doing to the environment? :\ We know what we need to do but nothing will change until those who hugely benefit from fossil fuels and other pollutants pack it in and let other techs flourish. The Sun's energy can be harvested at a massive scale... we are capable of building huge engineering projects so is not like we do not have the know how or the space to do it.

The CFC issue was no different from cigarette smoking. They knew it was harmful and highly addictive but still got advertised and sold for someones profit. They even used medical professional looking people to tell you that as well as make you look cool, it was good for your throat. Same for this particular company and its subsidiaries. This is a big Corp with a record of controversy, from the CFC issue to the lobbying for the banning of Hemp (Cannabis) to dominate the fiber market with Oil based Nylon. It is beggars belief that some politicos and Chief Execs use AGW denialism to their advantage creating confusion and animosity amongst people but it does happen, misinformation, as in the cigarettes or your examples, is nothing new:) It is unfortunate that most of those who are in the position to make changes at a big scale are too ignorant and/or corrupt to care.

We are starting to see the changes and all we can do is observe as they happen. Inside maybe keep the little hope that those changes are temporary and next year it will be back to 'normal'. In truth and looking and the numbers it doesn't look like going back is possible in my lifetime.

Timothy Chase

Crandles wrote:

Unfortunately, AGW is a much harder problem to deal with...
Wouldn't argue for their equivalency. But the comparisons and contrasts throw some light on the latter.

And the actual physical linkage that appears to exist between greenhouse gases cooling the stratosphere, supporting the existence of polar stratospheric clouds that support the photolytic destruction of ozone helps. Furthermore, it gives you a chance to stress that this is something that is already having consequences, that it is beginning to affect the developed world in a way that affects them more viscerally than the specter of famine (namely, skin cancer and to a lesser extent, cataracts, and with an unpredictability that drought, which becomes largely endemic, doesn't have), and that "Its the sun" just doesn't cut it.

Still, I would want to stress that drought and famine are greater foes than sporadic exposure to high levels of ultraviolet radiation. Even if you argue that we can reduce the likelihood of an ozone hole in the northern hemisphere by regulating the use of other ozone destroying chemicals, assuming the numbers support this, you are still getting people to look at and accept the fact that there is an issue, to accept its basis in physics -- or at least think about it more seriously than before. In a board game like chess, it helps if when you move a piece you are able to make that move count strategically in several ways at once. The same is true of discussions.

Crandles wrote:

A complete ban isn't practical, ...
I wouldn't argue for a complete ban, obviously. Then again, obviously we are still using some ozone-depleting chemicals, so it isn't like there was a complete ban there, either.

Crandles wrote:

... heavy taxation is costly economically, and the benefit to action now doesn't come for decades so economic thinking discounts that benefit heavily.
I wouldn't argue for heavy taxation, although I would argue for gradually raising the rate of taxation. But are you familiar with Hansen's tax and dividend approach? It seems to me that it might knock a lot of the political support out from under the fossil fuel industry. Regardless, even with CFCs, industry argued that regulation and bans would cripple the economy. They exaggerated the economic consequences.

Fossil fuels have followed suit. Solar is getting competitive.

Here are a few stories from over at Romm's:

Germany Installed 3 GW of Solar PV in December — The U.S. Installed 1.7 GW in All of 2011
And the Germans did it at roughly half the price.
By Stephen Lacey on Jan 10, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Solar Power Much Cheaper to Produce Than Most Analysts Realize, Study Finds
Solar Industry Growth has Produced Steadily Falling Prices
By Joe Romm, Dec 11, 2011 at 10:22 am

China’s New Plan for Solar Power Supremacy
by Melanie Hart, Sep 9, 2011 at 7:24 am

The fossil fuel industries downplay the alternative in renewables. They deny the existence of subsides to their own industries. They fund a campaign to deny the science since they know that once the science is accepted it is going to be a lot harder to stop progress.

The biggest costs are going to fall on companies that are heavily invested in fossil fuel. They will fund a disinformation campaign so long as it is cost efficient, reducing the costs to their companies whatever the cost to the economy as a whole. Market externalities don't concern them anymore than lung cancer or stillbirths gave pause to Brown and Williams or Phillip Morris.

Meanwhile, a large part of what will make renewables more competitive and attract capital for more innovation will be economies of scale. Some firm government support could go along way there and could help keep us competitive with other countries. Alternatively, we might set the example of how fossil fuel industries can fight back. Canada seems to have learned that lesson.


Another difference is in the politics.

If the economic case is clear the 'political will' will usually follow.

Usually not always as the economic case for a minimalist government may be clear enough but if getting a minamalist government involves politicians voting to reduce their own importance....

Other causes could perhaps involve a government too susceptible to lobbying.

With a clear cut economic case like CFCs I would suggest the disinformation campaign is mere politicaling over the timetable and politicians will listen to scientists over lobbyists for facts. I would suggest that any disinformation over CFCs was probably mainly aimed at public to reduce pressure on politicians for action rather than directly at politicians.

If the economic case about GW is more debateable then politicians will probably give lobbyists greater weight and consideration over economic matters. Disinformation can target both public and politicians particularly if the goverment is prone to lobbying (as in the US).


Yes, I am aware of the revenue neutral approach. I have probably linked to


before now.

>"In a board game like chess, it helps if when you move a piece you are able to make that move count strategically in several ways at once. The same is true of discussions."

Yes I agree it is useful and have used CFC's along with road building and quarrying as examples recently here:

(though that argument seems to be with a strange libertarian environmentalist if such opposites can be held by a single person rather than a AGW denialist.)

Timothy Chase

crandles wrote:

If the economic case is clear the 'political will' will usually follow.
Perhaps, but on what time table? I think it is pretty clear what the economic case is for smoking. The science was fairly clear-cut in the late 1960s. Lung cancer, stillbirths, emphysema, heart disease. There doesn't seem to be a single organ that isn't affected by cigarette smoking, and we have yet to actually ban it across the board or simply in the presence of small children.

There are organizations that are devoted to making sure that neither the scientific nor economic case is clear cut. They engage in a game of cartesian doubt in which they seek to always show that for any given conclusion to which they are opposed there is always reason for doubt. And like Descartes, in principle they could continue the game indefinitely. Like young earth creationists, who no matter the weight of the scientific evidence will never be convinced that humans are a product of evolution.

Here is a list that I have created:

Blowing Smoke: 32 Organizations...
Thirty-two organizations that are part of Exxon's disinformation network that also participated in in the disinformation campaign surrounding tobacco. Using the same techniques and oftentimes the same people. And when the science starts making things difficult for them they will often try to shift the topic of conversation from science to ideology, arguing in essence, the consequences are irrelevant because to regulate one thing or another would be a violation of property rights, individual rights or personal freedom. Many are involved in other areas where science weighs against the unregulated use various products. Dioxins, asbestos, lead in gasoline and paint, DDT, and CFCs. Over two thirds of them appear to make use of libertarian ideology that is opposed to regulation as a matter of principle. Political fervor keeps down business costs.

crandles wrote:

Usually not always as the economic case for a minimalist government may be clear enough but if getting a minamalist government involves politicians voting to reduce their own importance....
Minimalist government... What criteria does one use to determine what is or is not part of a minimalist government, or to put it another way, the role of government? "Minimal" suggests that it is the minimal government necessary for attaining some goal. So what is that goal? Is a police force required? Some would argue otherwise. That competing gangs of policemen could be hired to by groups to protect their rights. But who decides when different gangs are enforcing different sets of laws? Would a minimal government include a military? Would it enforce sanitation laws? Would it provide for a sewage system? Disease control? Innoculations? Would all roads be privately-owned? Would there be any public schooling? If all schooling were private, would parents have complete say over what their children were taught? Or could one make a good case for cult indoctrination being a form of child abuse? Would there be any laws concerning age of consent?

And how can the case for a minimalist government be clear cut if it isn't clear what a minimalist government is? If some people think that government should be or do something more? Do businesses have the right to deny their employees or customers of the information that the businesses possess concerning the risks associated with the use of their products? So it would seem if the standards are laissez faire. Then again, perhaps this is itself a form of externality in which the businesses are violating the rights of those that incure the costs due to undisclosed risks. One could compare it to consensual sex in which one of the participants fails to disclose the fact that they are infected with a disease, and that in itself may make the act one of assault in the eyes of many. Being infected doesn't necessarily mean that you will infect the other person, but presumably the fact that you are infected should be disclosed.

crandles wrote:

With a clear cut economic case like CFCs I would suggest the disinformation campaign is mere politicaling over the timetable and politicians will listen to scientists over lobbyists for facts.
Or one might argue that the only reason why CFCs seem clearcut is the fact that no one is arguing about them any more. Well, almost no one. There are a few hold-outs of the libertarian junk-science persuasion.

crandles wrote:

I would suggest that any disinformation over CFCs was probably mainly aimed at public to reduce pressure on politicians for action rather than directly at politicians.
And what do you think has happened to the politicians that are running to be the Republican candidate for president? Romney? Gingrich? Although in all fairness this has been to impose pressure rather than reduce it.

In any case, I understand a bit about where libertarians are coming from. Atlas is still my favorite novel. I read Human Action and Knowledge and Decisions cover to cover. I was a member of the Objectivist movement for thirteen years, founder of The Objectivist Ring, and at my core I still consider myself Objectivist. But while I lean libertarian, I do not consider myself a libertarian. Regardless, what we do in the next five to ten years will determine what investments are made in coal plants, shale, tar sands, synthetic oil and the like, investments that will have a lifetime of decades, in many cases over half a century.

The fuel that is used will only become more difficult to reach and of lower grade the longer this continues as businesses will always go after the easier to reach, higher grade fuel first, and as such, non-traditional fossil fuels will only become more carbon intensive as time goes on. The investments will lock us into decades of emissions, and as more is emitted, the climate will become more erratic, leaving us in near constant crisis mode, lurching from one disaster to another, without the resources to switch to renewables or heal the climate.

What we do over the next decade or so will determine much of the course of the rest of this century, and given the physics involved, what we do in this century will largely determine the world that humanity will live in for over a hundred thousand years, more than ten times that anything we might term human civilization has existed on the face of this earth. Far longer than the existence of any living ideology. The crisis we face rises above politics and requires individuals of good will to set their differences aside.


>"What criteria does one use to determine what is or is not part of a minimalist government"

As an example I was thinking of Sir Arthur Kennedy's governorship of Hong Kong.

Yes the boundaries are not clear but I think your examples are all within the remit of a minamalist government. Yes lobbyists can try to argue "how can the case for a minimalist government be clear cut if it isn't clear what a minimalist government is?" but do quibbles over the boundaries really completely blunt the argument for a 'do as little as possible' government? (The opposite being a government that tries to increase its own importance through grand plans.) Did Hong Kong prosper or not?

Timothy Chase

Yes, Hong Kong prospered. In all fairness, so did Singapore. And looking at just the opposites leaves a vast spectrum unexplored in between. But for me, these were the yang and the yin of the Orient.

I visited both during the 1980s. My two favorite cities. Of the two I preferred Hong Kong. I hated seeing it handed over to the government that gave us Tienanmen Square.

Jeffrey Davis

The argument against doing something to change AGW based on economics is just lunacy for two reasons. First, the possibility of simply wiping out a good chunk of civilization is too great. The NPV of that scenario is what exactly? Second, the same people who make those kinds of declarations -- that it would cost too much to address AGW head-on -- tell us things like "economic bubbles don't exist." The recent crisis has demonstrated that right wing economics is just political rhetoric with bad charts.

Bob Wallace

Also the cost of electricity will rise slower if we include a lot of solar and wind rather than continue to rely on fossil fuels. Coal is already our most expensive source if we include externalities. Natural gas, while it's cheap now, almost certainly won't stay cheap.

We're going to have to replace coal and nuclear plants as they wear out. We would be far ahead to replace with generation that doesn't require fuel.

Driving an EV (or a PHEV for the electric miles) costs less than $0.03 per mile. Driving a 40 MPG ICEV on $4/gallon gas costs over $0.10/mile.


Why not just set an arbitrary price per barrel for oil, say $250 and then start monkey wrenching infrastructure until it hits that price?

It is the only way anything is going to change. Politicians are too corrupt and/or bought to every change. If the issue is really about saving the world, there isn't anything more important.

If you disagree, please explain how you justify the loss of life from following the existing path.


What if it turns out that oil can be extracted and the carbon sequestered for less than $250? Aren't you going to do enormous damage to the economy for no good reason?

I think we want it announced that there will be a revenue neutral tax on (fossil fuel carbon emissions less any sequestrations). This tax should be ramped up slowly over quite a few years to allow businesses time to prepare. The tax can be avoided by sequestering equivalent carbon to emissions. As the tax gets higher, sequestration will start happening and at increasing rates. By the time the sequestration is approaching an adequate level, we will be in a better position to judge what is an adequate rate of sequestration.

>"If the issue is really about saving the world, there isn't anything more important."

What if most people think we can save the world in/over a decade or two timescale rather than having to do it now?


Good luck with politicians and anything involving the words carbon and tax in the same sentence.

Oh, so your informed opinion is that we can wait. Why not save the world now and sort out the economy over the next two decades?

Seriously, stop measuring the economy in terms of money. Measure it in terms of happiness, freedom, peace. If you think there is any chance that this situation will evolve in those terms going down the big oil controlled politician route, well I admire your optimism but I don't think there is any evidence to match it.


The reactions I hear from climate scientists to any suggestion that we have less than 10 years to save the world seems to me to be more disagreement than agreement. So, obviously I think this is evidence on my side. Besides which, I think we have essentially zero chance of putting all the measures necessary in place within 10 years. I am not arguing for do nothing for 10 or 20 years, I am saying the measures need to be brought in slowly over that sort of period.

>"Seriously, stop measuring the economy in terms of money. Measure it in terms of happiness, freedom, peace."

Good luck with that too. I agree it would be desirable to be able to do this, but being able to ??? making it happen ??? Also if you need such radical overhaul of economics to get economics to give the answer you think is appropriate, isn't this a sign that maybe your 'correct answer' may need another few reality checks?

I don't think we should be thinking the seriousness of climate change is at a human extinction level event unless you are looking at seriously remote possibilities. So otherwise the worst case from climate change is to completely wreck civilisation.

Compared to this how serious would banning fossil fuel use be to economies and hence to civilisation? Probably not quite as bad but we could bring it on much earlier. In my opinion the earier makes it as bad if not worse. So I think immediately banning fossil fuel use would be a cure that is worse than the disease.

Ruling out extreme action at that extreme immediate action end of the scale as a cure worse than the disease, does not mean I don't want action to begin at a more serious rate than it has so far.


Alaska in deep freeze according to this source ! I also heard on the local news that the Healy had to cut through 8 feet ice to let the tanker through to Nome. I bet sea ice will be lingering a bit longer in the Bering Sea this coming spring !

Chris Reynolds


It's no surprise given then high AO index that's typified this winter. From this page:
Which is a useful short reference about the AO (though perhaps not for the beginner).

"In the high phase of the index, the jet is shifted towards higher latitude, the polar vortex is intensified, and cold air is walled off in the polar vortex."

So unlike the last couple of years the polar vortex makes good conditions for ice growth. Although Fram Strait export is increased, in the Beaufort/Chucki/Siberia sectors ice should grow thicker due to colder conditions.

Also of interest regarding the discussion about Arctic stratospheric ozone:

"In addition to these features, low ozone values occur in the high latitude stratosphere during the high index phase[of the AO]. The low values can be understood as a consequence of a reduction in the strength of the stratospheric Lagrangian mean circulation[Brewer Dobson]. The Lagrangian mean circulation transports ozone from the tropical stratosphere to the pole, so any reduction of the circulation serves to deplete ozone at high latitudes"


I do not see in the current extreme weather conditions in Alaska, anything else but an oscillation around a general trend. I understand that there could still be some very cold winters even in a generally warming Arctic. However this also works the other way: One unusually mild winter or even a string of unusually mild winters might also be interpreted as an oscillation. We may have to wait another 15 or 20 years before we can confirm the warming pattern observed in the Arctic since the 1990s. I have read somewhere ( the Alaska climate research center website ) that since 1977 little additional warming had occurred in Alaska except for Barrow. The interpretation given is as follows:
"The stepwise shift appearing in the temperature data in 1976 corresponds to a phase shift of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation from a negative phase to a positive phase. Synoptic conditions with the positive phase tend to consist of increased southerly flow and warm air advection into Alaska during the winter, resulting in positive temperature anomalies."


>"I also heard on the local news that the Healy had to cut through 8 feet ice to let the tanker through to Nome."

8 feet is not much for a pressure ridge and I doubt typical thickness can be 8 feet. Your bet seems pretty safe though.

Over on the other side, sun has not yet risen on Murmansk but by 5 Feb it will get 5hr 42 min of daylight. There is bound to be more ice forming north of Novaya Zemlya but South/SW of NZ is perhaps in a race against arriving sunlight?

Peter Ellis

Compared to this how serious would banning fossil fuel use be to economies and hence to civilisation?

It depends how parochial you want to be. Detrimental effects from cutting fossil fuels apply predominantly to humans (and our domesticated species). Detrimental effects from continued emissions affect every species on the planet.

If we really are "Damned if we do, damned if we don't" as far as human civilisation goes, then presumably it behooves us not to take the rest of the globe down with us.

I don't think it will come to that. But we certainly should be willing to accept some pain as a species (and major changes in Westernised civilisation in particular) to spare everything else from our greed. One way or another, Western materialism has to go.

Chris Reynolds


I don't think the warming in the Arctic will desist and I see no reason for seeing it as part of a cyclical climate phenomena.

Polyakov (2001) has claimed that the Arctic warming was part of a natural 60 year climate cycle based on data from 1875 to 2000. However Johannessen in a 2008 paper argues (convincingly in my opinion) that the 1930s warming was an outcome of internal variability whereas the recent warming is due to forced variability (AGW) - models show events similar to the 1930s warming but at different times, however models consistently reproduce the recent warming at the observed time. Overland shows that the recent warming is of a different nature to the 1930s warming.

In my opinion the argument about cycles is 'aliasing' the recent anthropogenic warming as a continuation of suggested natural cycles based on datasets being too short. i.e. counting the 1930s warming and the recent warming as positive deviations of an osciallation - which is wrong.

Furthermore Screen & Simmonds 2010 show that the recent Arctic (temperature) Amplification is primarily driven by the loss of Arctic sea-ice, not, as reported by Graverson, due to changes in atmospheric heat transport.

The changes in the Arctic Oscillation are interesting. In the 1990s the positive AO period was initially attributed to cooling of the stratosphere due to CO2 increases. However that positive pattern did not persist. Recently Dr Cohen of MIT has shown that the advance rate of Siberian snowfall accounts for 71% of the variance of the AO. In his most recent (unpublished) paper he shows how reduced sea-ice is linked to Siberian snowfall trends and thence increasing the occurrence of negative AO events - such events are connected to cold outbreaks and blocking high patterns that bring cold winters to the northern hemisphere mid lattitudes. This is what happened in 2009/10, and to a lesser degree in 2010/11.


I don't follow the US too much, but this winter I'll be surprised if we see persistent negative AO excursions. This winter will continue to be typified by positve AO index and mild weather for Western Europe and the UK. NOAA's ensemble projectios have tending to under-shoot since November.

UK Met Office are already saying this weekend's cold snap will warm by mid week.

Andrew Xnn

Our destiny...

Kevin McKinney

Yes, there's a lot of that. CBC (Canada) is frequently doing stories on phenological changes, novel studies around AGW, ice loss, etc., etc., and certain of the 'usual suspects' there won't even talk about the subject at hand--it's Climategate 2, 'it's warming but there's insufficient evidence to say why,' and all sorts of foolishness--anything but look facts in the face.

Michael Fliss

Many good photos from the Healy AloftConn of the ice in Nome's harbor and of the Russian tanker Renda as it prepares to deliver diesel fuel and gasoline to the town.


Climate Changes


If this is correct (and I personally fear it may be) we'd better get used to slap on UV sunscreen creams before venturing for a walk.

Also here's a link to a blog for the 'winter' snow so far ( 322.1" of snow in Valdez?) with mention of the lake effect and some figures from 2011.


Climate Changes

PSC's are returning to the Arctic skies. Spaceweather has a few pictures taken in the last 3 days:

Scroll down for the pics and comment. I think it that with all the changes going on in the Arctic at all levels, PSC's must have also changed either in intensity and/or area.


Thats a lot of high pressure building.


That must give a negative AO.


Thats a lot of high pressure building.

Is it a false reading again - compare



I think that link is 5 days old. The dmi is current.


Crandles, are you sure? ECMWF is showing high pressure areas over Bering with 1055 hPa, which is pretty hefty.


Sorry ignore me, I'm being an idiot.


Never mind that. I'm an idiot too.

The question is: what is this huge high going to do? Is it going to push the ice in the Bering Sea even further out, causing our friends on the other side of the mirror to declare another (Pyrrhic) victory?


Fortunately strong southerly wind east of Svalbard are, I think, in same direction as currents so it shouldn't cause as much mixing as if currents were in opposite direction.

Re high - I have no idea; ChrisR didn't think much of the link I gave (14 Jan 14:23 GMT) which suggested that such a high pressure area means "WOW, SOMETHING HUGE IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN". That was predicted on 9th Jan so it seems to be panning out so far but that doesn't mean much.


Hi all,

The 2011 NOAA Arctic report card is out @



...as of course was previously discussed in the thread cunningly entitled "Arctic Report Card 2011", below?

Is the idiocy prize still up for grabs?


I thought I had posted this but either it didn't stick or was removed (doubtful); anyway, trying again:

Quoting Crandle: "I don't think we should be thinking the seriousness of climate change is at a human extinction level event unless you are looking at seriously remote possibilities. So otherwise the worst case from climate change is to completely wreck civilisation."

A extinction level event isn't really relevent. The point is how do we justify killing millions/billions of people. The argument that we have time isn't correct; it is playing chicken with the environment, comfortable in the knowledge that the first to die will be the Somalis, the Eithiopians, etc of the world, the ones that don't count economically in Crandle's 'traditional' economics.

Regarding the point about measuring happiness, etc instead of money: my intent was that using market arguments regarding cost are false because markets measure relative costs not absolute ones. A coke is more expensive in JFK airport than in Equador because of supply and demand, etc.. However if that coke is spilled, the loss of happiness to the consumer is roughly the same. So it is not correct from an absolute basis to say spilling a coke in NY is 10 times worse than spilling a coke in Equador. Similarly, measuring global warming by market value is false. The cost of a human life should be equal whether it is Somalian, Chinese, etc.. I think we all agree on that.

But that is where the sharp edge of global warming is hitting. Give each human life a dollar value, even a realtively cheap value. Give all the things that make up a life a dollar value: friendships, time with family, peace of mind per day, etc.. Then figure out the cost of sitting on our hands versus taking action right now. (This, by the way, is traditional economics, there is nothing fancy about this, it isn't a new system, it was in the first few chapters of every economics text I ever read, it is just that western economics drops it quickly to get to the dismal stuff.)

The idea of monkey wrenching oil to $250 per barrel, or $300, $400, etc. is that it still uses the good parts of economics: market forces, local knowledge, etc. without forcing any framework on anyone. If we wait, it will be war time type controls and many dead just to get to the same place.

I think there is no moral reason or justification to wait. I also think a lot of the arguments in Crandles response do sound like something out of WUWT. Sorry but they sound full of half truths and truisms.


I cannot emphasize enough that I do want more action on climate not delays.

I have made clear my position that we could do too much too fast.

The other question is the way it is or should be sold. Do we

1. Say that tradition/western economics is wrong and needs to be corrected to get the answer we know is correct. This sounds worringly like a faith based belief where if the answer doesn't come out right then the methodology is wrong and needs adjusting.

or do we

2. Say that even with dubious relative cost calculations instead of absolute measures of happyness, friendship..., traditional economics comes out in favour of more action.

Or both or something else?

Complete focus on the climate problems of BAU with no consideration of economic problems that could arise through taking corrective action does not seem correct to me.

Talk about having to get away from Western consumerism makes it seem that the cost of corrective action is going to be enormous. This seems to me to be shooting ourselves in the foot. We need plans that show it won't be enormously costly. While the numbers in Stern are not huge, there seems a lack of more detailed plans.

OK my talk of banning fossil fuels causing civilisation to collapse is also shooting ourselves in the foot. So I should probably remark: Consider the cost of building an aircraft carrier in one month instead of a more normal 3 years. I think it would either be impossible or the cost would be enormously higher. So just because the cost could be crippling if we tried to do it too quickly does not mean the cost could be quite affordable if done at a slower pace.

>"I think there is no moral reason or justification to wait."

How does this sound to someone who thinks you are/might be 'one of those crazy tree hugging enviromentalists'? Does it sound like, "We cannot justify the cost so we are having to resort to moral blackmail"?

Does 2 above sound better or worse?

Should we embrace economics and use it or say it is wrong?

If embracing economics causes arguments to sound full of half truths and truisms and make the whole thing sound dodgy then perhaps we shouldn't. If it is just me, then maybe I shouldn't be trying to argue anything. I doubt you just don't want to hear the message I am trying to give, (but it is easy to let your reaction to messages influence your assessment of the quality of the arguments). Of those choices, I would guess it is probably me. Ho hum, time to me to shut up.

Wayne Kernochan

Sigh ... I might as well weigh in on this debate, as I'm far more an expert on the economics than the science (which is not to say I'm a true expert).

Start from Hansen's "if we use up all the oil, gas, coal, there's a small possibility [of end of all life on earth]. If we also use up all the oil shale and tar sands, I view it as likely."

Now understand that the key to locked-in global warming in economic terms is that it is global. Typically, a global economy over time will adapt very well to disasters in one place by shifting growth temporarily or permanently to another region. In this case, business as usual will lead us to a point where that is not possible.

Now add the findings of an Indian economist on what to do in the aftermath of a disaster -- don't give them money, give them jobs and then pay them. In either case, the government has to do this -- local business is gone. In a global economy in the same situation, global business cannot help a global disaster from which they suffer -- government must create jobs to jump-start business.

We know that with business as usual, over the next 60-80 years we will arrive at a climate in which only a strip in upper Canada, one in mid-Siberia, and one in upper Argentina will be cool enough, with the right amounts of rainfall (although violent), and away from the rising seas. Between now and then, staying in the same place will mean increasing inefficiency in legacy heating/cooling systems. Meanwhile, many ecosystems will be dying out before they can reach the new "promised land" -- which, by the way, in Siberia will have a lot of mosquito-laden peat bogs in it -- removing support for existing food-growing elsewhere, and making the movement of food-growing yet more expensive. And over this span, with the increase in water vapor in the atmosphere, it appears that the cost of disasters worldwide will steadily ramp up, to 10-100 times their present $100-billion level per year, reducing the global economy's growth rate eventually by 2-5% yearly.

Business' initial reaction will be, as usual, achieving allocational efficiency with the existing infrastructure by "temporary" surges in use of existing fuels, because they are still cheaper in many cases. The recent increase in income inequality, especially in the US, means that the rich now have unusual power in governments, which they will use to cut government "taxes" further or prevent them being raised, starving governments of adequate money to handle the unrest ensuing everywhere. In other words, as systems analysis is shown, the global economy will behave like a process stretched beyond its limits -- at first, it adapts superbly, so that all seems well, and then it suffers major decreases which governments are unable to counter adequately to jump-start recovery, because they have been starved of money. All that continuing business as usual does is increase the size of the failure.

Yvan Dutil

Hot from the press:

Arctic warming, increasing snow cover and widespread boreal winter cooling



Different topic: AIRS Arctic Methane Maps.

Chris R has gotten permission from Dr. Yurganov to assemble and post the past annual AIRS 400 mb methane maps on restricted Youtube.

The maps are presented monthly and compared from 2002-2011.

The link is:


My appreciation to Dr. Yurganov for the data, it is sobering.

Wayne Kernochan

P.S. The second part of my post was delayed due to some problems with posting. - w

Wayne Kernochan

Whatever answer there is must involve ensuring that almost all tar sands and oil shale, and some oil/gas/coal is off limits for thousands of years, until CO2 in the atmosphere has decreased adequately. As for avoiding the 4-6-billion-person deaths I have mentioned, that is a matter primarily of implementing immediately primarily solar -- because it doesn't need to be moved, and doesn't depend on a water supply -- including replacement for existing infrastructure -- worldwide. That, in turn, both decreases the ultimate warming somewhat and increases the chances that the global economy will be able to adjust in the future without military-style economies and with ultimate food-growing areas able to support more people.

There are two models in history for how to do this successfully. One is simply a global acceptance of limits -- in business, particularly. That is, we don't build second stories of buildings without walls, although it's cheaper, because we understand that gravity exists -- it's a limit so ingrained in our mind that we almost never do business without it. The same could be done via business accounting in which failure to decrease carbon emissions at a certain rate, for both the business and its customers, without gaming the system by selling high-pollution business units, leads to such high "carbon money" losses that the business will shortly be bankrupt.

The other alternative is World War II in America, in which everyone accepts 50% of previous calories and a command-and-control economy strictly focuses on implementing solar all over the world, with allies and enemies -- including ourselves -- and a planned military campaign of fossil-fuel "conquest" by soldiers implementing solar infrastructure city by city, block by block, region by region.

I am not saying these are the only solutions. I am saying that solutions such as the ones you propose and others typically discussed (which often are based on the wrong idea that global warming beyond 2 degrees C is very unlikely) are unlikely to be adequate, and these would do the job, and therefore, the cost in lives of these in lives, economic impact, and human suffering, whatever the inefficiencies and mistakes, is very likely to be far less than said proposed solutions.

Wayne Kernochan

(to be placed in front of previous post) Note that technology is part of this cycle as well, and therefore will very likely not come along to save us all. As government and business money decreases, so does the amount to be spent on anything but business as usual and dealing with the immediate emergencies. Meanwhile, the costs of moving to, say, solar relative to staying with oil do not change as much, because these come with infrastructure, too, and staying with the existing oil/utility delivery system is more likely than ever to be cheaper than spending the money to advance the technology and then build new infrastructure for it. The worse off the economy, the less likely a technology fix and the more likely increased demand for oil, gas, coal, tar sands, and oil shale to adapt to disasters, in a "vicious circle."

The final stage in this process is that, as has happened frequently in history, the rich will view the government as unable to protect them, and will create their own "gated communities" complete with police force/military -- and the military, seeing their power, will demand a large cut of the money. Military are notoriously bad at running an economy -- see Egypt for a modern example -- and so the economy will take a further downward dip. The question then becomes, how many people initially can this vastly shrunken, inefficient economy initially support with a much smaller food-growing area and little spending on technological advance -- and the answer is, probably less than a billion. That means the rest of the 7-billion-odd in the world die. Including at least half of us in the rich part of the world, and half of the rich -- because they aren't military.

Wayne Kernochan

(cont.) Now let's get back to Hansen. During this process, as noted, not only will there be pressures to adapt to disasters by doubling down on existing oil/gas/coal use, as China and the US are doing, but also to decrease spending on non-carbon-polluting or carbon-mitigation strategies, like coal sequestration or solar. That plus the increasing price (no, according to Hotelling's principle costs don't skyrocket) of oil, coal, and gas as they run out will make oil shale and tar sands using existing infrastructure more attractive, as in western Canada right now. And that, in turn, steadily increases the risk of ending life on earth.

Wayne Kernochan

(cont.) For the last twenty years, we have been running an experiment on business and government adaptation to this reality. So far, as in the US, adaptation using business and "technology will save us" alone has slowed the rise in carbon emissions but not stopped them -- we are still well within the bounds of "business as usual." Market-oriented government restrictions via "cap and trade" in Europe, once you adjust for shifting of emissions elsewhere (as, for example, in Norway), means that emissions are slightly down in Europe -- nowhere near enough to escape from the process I have described. Adding the two together, while the chance of the end of life on earth remains very small, it has increased a hundred-fold over the same 20 years. The proposed solutions in these blog comments, on balance, and unless a not-yet-apparent technology can be implemented successfully, globally, within the next 40 years, may increase the chances of the end of life on earth within the next 40 years to 15% rather than to 30% if we do nothing. And, by the way, in most realistic scenarios, a nuclear war will be less devastating than 6-billion-lost but will make the end of life on earth ultimately more likely, as we spend down oil etc. feverishly in order to survive.



Read an economics text book. Most start by explaining how happiness can't be measured even though it would be great. They then move into the various definitions they will use: GDP, GNP, inflation, etc.. It is not that western economics is wrong, it is just that it moves to market forces, equilibriums, etc. because equilibriums (given a LOT of data abstractions) are calculable.

I am NOT saying western economics is wrong (although it skips technology - but that is another question). I am just saying that thinking in terms of markets, etc. is wrong in this case. How much is hte price of our lives? Our families? If you want to calculate growth, etc. fine, then use market, etc economics. If you want to calculate costs, then you have to factor in the human cost somehow. For me it is much higher than the loss of a a lifestyle (at to the extent that that lifestyle is based on consumerism.)

Somehow you equate my sentence ["I think there is no moral reason or justification to wait."] with the sentence you wrote ["We cannot justify the cost so we are having to resort to moral blackmail"]

I honestly have no idea what you are going on about. Stuff like that is A Watts territory: re-phrase and take apart the rephrase. The phrase is simple and straightforward (I thought). There is no moral reason or justification for waiting: many people will die if we wait. Calling a moral argument "moral blackmail" is just spin. By definition, what other consequences of moral arguments are there?

As for the rest, I have really tried to make sense of it. I can't. All i get out of it is that we should wait because maybe it will cost less in a few years (?). If that was your argument... maybe. None of us can see the future perfectly. I just think, as I said, that your position is playing chicken with the future.

I just don't want to play chicken in the hopes that we can repair the world in an orderly and cost saving manner. I think we are better off kick starting this while there is time to make mistakes and recover. To me, monkey wrenching is the only way to make this process work faster. I have hugged a few trees in my time, perhaps a love of nature does push me farther to the conservative on the political spectrum than you, but I really couldn't care less.

Al Rodger

Maybe it's coz I've been bashing on about climate change for getting on 2 decades now, but I'm not as doom laden as I'm hearing here. My view probably hasn't changed that much over the years, although the urgency of the situation certainly has.
I'm still optimistic that once the message sinks in about energy consumption and carbon pollution, not just in the population but in industry and in politics, things will start to happen and emissions will shrink. Until that time, reducing emissions is an up-hill struggle.

There is still time to stop the death of billions, the collapse of the world economy, climate wars to secure resources, civilisation crumbling about our ears. There is still time, in my opinion, but we are starting to push our luck. It's a good reason to worry but it's not at the point where it's scary yet.

Kevin McKinney

Well, it's scary for me, Al. But hopefully your judgment is better than mine.


The incredible Pat Farmer should arrive in South Pole this January 18 or 19, finishing his unbelievable race from North Pole to South Pole - running 2 marathons per day, everyday.

His web site and videos are on http://poletopolerun.com/ .

Nothing is impossible.

If you admire and support this man, please consider donating to the Red Cross from his site - Clean Water Projects met my deep agreement.


Arctic Ocean and Sea Ice Change "Non-linearly"

Eddy Carmack, Arctic Oceanographer, Alaska Marine Science Symposium - opening speaker.

“Are we approaching a tipping point -- a new state?” Carmack said to several hundred scientists gathered at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium in the Hotel Captain Cook ballroom. “In the Arctic, the non-linear future is here.”



Carmack's latest research summary can be found at Nature Geoscience:



Repost from above: AIRS Arctic Methane Maps.

Chris R has gotten permission from Dr. Yurganov to assemble and post the monthly AIRS 400 mb methane maps on restricted Youtube.

The maps are presented monthly and compared from 2002-2011.

The link is:


My appreciation to Dr. Yurganov for the data, it is sobering.

Artful Dodger

For Immediate Release
January 18, 2012
Statement by the President on the Keystone XL Pipeline


Rob Dekker

Neven, I got a bit upset when you were singled out to be censored by von Storch on Klimazwiebel last month (after Meichsner's 'AfricaGate' smear article and the lawsuit against Rahmstorf), so I actually decided to find out what Klimazwiebel posters have to say about AfricaGate and Meichsner's inability to find Arnell 2004 as the scientific source, as well as von Storch' attempt of "extended peer review" of Arnell 2004.

That effort turned out to be interesting and entertaining at times, and became the thread with the most comments on Klimazwiebel for as far back as I can see.

So, for your entertainment, here it is :


If you have the time, and are interested in how people with extrapolated anti-science opinions think, and possibly how to respond, read the whole thing.

Rob Dekker

Well, that's interesting. My latest comment on that thread got posted, and then removed after half an hour or so. Allow me to post it here, in case it got censored out permanently :

Hans, welcome back to the discussion, and thank you for your response.

This is the first time that I actively engage on your blog, and it has been a very interesting (and at time entertaining) experience. I am always interested in to get to the core of the misconceptions and assumptions that cloud our opinions, and have tried to weed out the truth from the bias and opinions, as I hope you see witnessed on this blog.
And there have been many opinions expressed on this thread, indeed.

I recommend that you read all of the posts on this thread. There are some stunningly explicit allegations and agressive opinions expressed against the Pachauri, the IPCC and Arnell, expressed with very little (or in the case of troll Yeph, no) evidence in their support. I have tried my best and spent significant effort to separate facts from opinions and in some cases was able to reveal even how to get to the core of some of the extrapolated opinions expressed here.

I certainly are not declaring myself the holder of truth as you suggest, but would like to note that not everything is opinion.

For example, now that we know for a fact that the IPCC statement (which I quoted in post 133), is sustained by Arnell 2004, (table 11 actually), which opinions regarding allegations against the IPCC and Pachauri personally, as expressed by Meichsner and various commenters on this blog do you still find credible and which ones not ?


Thanks, Rob. I haven't visited KlimaZwiebel for a few weeks now, so I didn't know this discussion was going on. I'll read it.


Arctic Oscillation - Going Negative?

Given the following, it seems we might be headed for negative Arctic Oscillation for at least several days or perhaps weeks.

The NOAA MRF AO shows this forecast:


Additionally, the surface temp anamoly has shifted from negative surface temp anamolies to the positives as of 01/19/12 on the ERSL PSD data runs at surface and 1000 mb over the East Siberian Sea areas.

This may slow sea ice extent increase in the Russian East/Bering Sea over the next few days or weeks. Thus the recent drop in sea ice extent exhibited in the Cryosphere data may persist.


If so we may enter the summer melt season with a 2007 or 2011 range of Arctic sea ice extent.

Given that the ENSO is anticipated to shift to neutral in March-May and perhaps to El Nino in July-September, we may get close to another Arctic Sea ice minimum this summer. (See the weekly discussion pdf, slides 27-29.


This may cause a repeat of this past fall's stronger methane release from the ESEA.

Andrew Xnn

2011 State of the Climate report is now available from the National Climatic Data Center:



Warmest La Nina year on record; 11th warmest overall.

2nd wettest year (behind 2010).

Warmer-than-average temperatures occurred during 2011 for most of the world's surface. The greatest above-average annual temperature anomalies occurred across the Northern Hemisphere high latitude land areas, particularly central and northern Russia, Scandinavia, and Canada. Also noteworthy, it was warmer than average across the eastern half of the United States, Mexico, most of Europe and Africa, and the north central Pacific Ocean.

Temperatures were below normal across the eastern and central Pacific Ocean, west central North America, and north and central Australia.

In December, a strong positive Arctic Oscillation kept polar air contained to the very high northern latitudes and much warmer-than-normal temperatures were observed in lower, but still high, northern latitudes. Alaska reported its third warmest December on record and Northern Norway had its 10th warmest December in the 112-year period of record. In Europe, the UK had its sixth warmest December on record. This is more than 5°C (9°F) warmer than the record cold of the previous December (2010), when the Arctic Oscillation was strongly negative.

Artful Dodger

Hi Neven,

You may consider updating the Arctic Sea Ice Graphs page for 2012 to include this static link to 80N temps:




>"Given that the ENSO is anticipated to shift to neutral in March-May and perhaps to El Nino in July-September, we may get close to another Arctic Sea ice minimum this summer."

If this has any effect at all, then I suggest that there is a lag of more than 5 months so it is likely a good effect of cooler temperatures during melt season.


Re graph page - I would suggest wherever possible it is nice to have comparison to last year so
in addition (and next to)

instead of 11 but it may be difficult to have that next to
with the last 4 digits changing weekly

Changing 4 digits for month and day daily might be easier but still too difficult? eg


next to

with 0122 always changing to yesterdays date.

I think you could do that changing refs daily automatically using some programming with something like ODBiC but maybe the internet host has to make that sort of thing available.


Arctic Ocean freshwater bulge detected

UK scientists have detected a huge dome of freshwater that is developing in the western Arctic Ocean.

The bulge is some 8,000 cubic km in size and has risen by about 15cm since 2002.

The team thinks it may be the result of strong winds whipping up a great clockwise current in the northern polar region called the Beaufort Gyre.

This would force the water together, raising sea surface height, the group tells the journal Nature Geoscience.

"In the western Arctic, the Beaufort Gyre is driven by a permanent anti-cyclonic wind circulation. It drives the water, forcing it to pile up in the centre of gyre, and this domes the sea surface," explained lead author Dr Katharine Giles from the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) at University College London.



is a web page not a picture. They haven't updated their 'latest' pic since the new year.


Lodger, Crandles, I'll update the Graphs page soon. :-)


I've updated the DMI temp graph and got rid of that annoying PIPS-up. I have to remove those IJIS graphs, but it still hurts too much to let go.

Here's a very cool article on Operation IceBridge (currently doing its thing in the Antarctic).


Regarding the IJIS-JAXA graphs. Does anybody know anything about their plan for 2012? Have they given up altogether or do they plan to move to SSMI or another system?

Rob Dekker

Last October/November, a crack was discovered on Pine Island Glacier (PIG), which would calve off a whopping 60 km off this immense ice flow "in the next couple of months", taking out something like a good chunk of this largest and most productive glacier system on the planet.

Does anyone have any more info on the developments on PIG ?


Regarding the IJIS-JAXA graphs:

I have no idea if they are just waiting for AMSR2 but it is due to go up with GCOM-W1.

Launch of GCOM-W1 is proposed for February 2012. They were hoping for an overlap period of at least 1 year with AMSR. Without that overlap period (or with it), I have no idea how long it will take for calibration etc prior to releasing new numbers.



L. Hamilton

Just in case anyone wondered ...
As of Jan 22, CT North area is 4th-lowest for the date,

Mean daily gain so far in January has been slower than average,

More area than 2011, but not by much,

Kevin McKinney

"I've updated the DMI temp graph and got rid of that annoying PIPS-up."

Yay! Thanks, Neven.

And thanks to L. Hamilton for the update, too.


Oh my, a daily SIA bar graph. Larry, you are outdoing yourself! I'm going to use that one, and make a special section for long-term Arctic graphs, that'll include all your other great graphs.

Artful Dodger

Whoa, look at the 60-day drift map for Nares Strait! Whooosh goes the buoy!



I have updated and rearranged the graphs on the Arctic daily graphs page (removed IJIS, sniff :-( ). I have also added a new page with long-term graphs (will add more graphs later).

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