China's cold winter linked to Arctic sea ice loss
The unusually cold winter this year in China may be a result of the record loss of Arctic sea ice this summer, Chen Yu, senior engineer of the National Climate Center, told China Daily on Friday.
According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center in the United States, Arctic sea ice shrank to a record low on Sept 16, to an average total area of 3.61 million square kilometers.
"Observation and data analysis showed that Arctic sea ice loss may cause cold and snowy winters in parts of Asia," Chen said.
She explained that when sea ice melts in the Arctic, the water temperature increases. When that happens, the air becomes moister and is more likely to form cold fronts.
According to the China Meteorological Administration, in December most of China suffered colder weather than usual. On Dec 24, frequent cold fronts led to temperatures in 21 monitoring stations hitting record lows.
And the cold weather is going to return. A new round of cold fronts will hit most parts of the country on New Year's Eve, bringing mild to medium snowfalls to Northeast China.
Kang Zhiming, weather forecaster of the National Meteorological Center, said weather models showed the temperature will not rise until late January.
"The weather authorities will keep a close eye on any changes in the weather, especially before Spring Festival, in order to give timely information to transport and related departments, particularly in the event of extreme weather," Kang said.
There are more details with regards to how cold the cold is in this China Daily article from a couple of days ago:
Cities battle against cold front
A cold front has descended on many provincial capitals, with temperatures in some cases hitting well below -20 C, while temperatures in parts of central and eastern areas are predicted to hit record lows, the National Meteorological Center said.
The cold spell has claimed lives and led to calls for public buildings to conserve energy to ensure heating for residential areas.
Temperatures dropped sharply overnight in the north, the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, Fujian and Guangdong provinces, Xinhua News Agency reported.
Many areas experienced the lowest temperatures so far this winter, including parts of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Shandong, Yunnan, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Fujian, Guangdong and Hainan provinces.
Some areas in Inner Mongolia witnessed the mercury falling to -40 C on Saturday and Sunday.
Highways in Yantai, a coastal city in Shandong province, were temporarily closed on Sunday due to heavy snow.
Heavy snow will continue hitting northeastern parts of Shandong province and northwestern parts of Xinjiang through Sunday and Monday.
The lowest temperature recorded in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, was -29 C on Sunday, not much colder than the highest of -22 C. Tuesday is predicted to be the coldest day, when the thermometer is expected to record -33 C.
In the neighboring province of Jilin, the lowest temperatures in the cities of Changchun, Liaoyuan, Tonghua and Baishan could also plunge to -33 C on Tuesday, the center said.
The average temperature in Jilin this winter has been -24 C, 11 to 14 degrees lower than in other years.
There's more. Read the rest of the article here.
If there was so much cold over Russia and China in the past two weeks, where did all the heat go?
Whereas the Central Arctic was very cold for a couple of days, temps have been anomalously high over Baffin Bay and the Canadian Archipelago, and of course between Svalbard and Novaya Zemlya. Luckily winter is still long, otherwise a record early opening of the Northwest Passage would've been a done deal.
One of many consequences of the China cold snap is that steel reinforcement- bar futures fell from a five-month high, according to Bloomberg. This will make it easier to construct ghost towns and phantom malls that boost economic growth. And don't forget: ghost towns don't require much heating.
Even if disappearing Arctic sea ice is causing this cold snap, it also offers opportunities (let's make lots of money). I wanted to blog about this at the end of September, but now seems more appropriate. According to this China Daily article from September 30th the Chinese are eyeing a new shipping route through the Arctic:
Polar Research Institute of China Deputy Director Li Bingrui said the new shipping routes created by the melting ice will cut shipping costs between Europe and Asia.
The receding of the ice cap surrounding the North Pole could open up three routes - the Northwest Passage, crossing the Canadian Arctic; the Northeast Passage, running from Murmansk, Russia, to the Bering Strait; and the Central Arctic Shipping Route, which will run through the North Pole.
Many believe the Central Arctic Shipping Route is the most feasible Arctic shipping route. It is the shortest way through the central Arctic Ocean, the passage through which depends on dramatic reductions of North Pole ice thickness.
Scientists predict that, if the sea ice continues to melt, icebreakers could navigate central Arctic waters before 2020.
The Russians own the Northern Sea Route, so we have to think big.