If I had to name one website that does the best reporting on Arctic sea ice, its disappearance and the implications thereof, it would have to be Climate Central. Climate Progress is an excellent source as well, but Climate Central doesn't let even the tiniest detail escape. Its senior science writers Andrew Freedman and Michael D. Lemonick cover everything people need to know about one of the major current events on our planet.
Take for instance Lemonick's latest article on this GRL research paper discussing the Great Arctic Cyclone of 2012. I'm using the name, coined first I believe at the time by commenter R. Gates, but I won't be comfortable with it until I haven't seen a repeat in the next couple of melting seasons. Things are usually called Great in hindsight, but what if we see more Great Arctic Cyclones pop up in coming years? Will the next one be called the Similarly Great Arctic Cyclone of XXXX, or worse, the Even Greater Arctic Cyclone of XXXX? But I digress...
Great it definitely was. We assumed as much, but now it has been confirmed by Simmonds et al. that the GAC-2012 is the most extreme Arctic summer storm on record. It even ranks 13th when you add all those fierce winter cyclones. Mind you, since 1979 no fewer than 19,625 Arctic storms have been recorded.
One other interesting piece of info from this paper is that apparently "the authors couldn’t establish that the unusually large areas of open ocean contributed to the storm’s intensity". I would think that all that open water - that was exceptionally warm around that time - acting as fuel for the cyclone is a no-brainer, but it seems it's not as easy to establish a link. Here's an image of DMI SST anomalies at the time of the storm that was used for ASI 2012 update 9. I can't help but think that all of that red must have had something to do with the intensity and longevity of this freak storm.
I guess we all remember how this monster looked (via AtmosNews):
Lemonick, however, wrote an even more interesting article around two weeks ago, called Arctic Storms: A Climate Danger Nobody’s Talking About. It's about Polar lows, winter storms, a phenomenon I learned about while researching back in August what kind of a storm the Great Arctic Cyclone actually was.
Here's the first half of his excellent article:
Summer and fall are hurricane season, but for the storms known as polar lows, prime time falls in the dead of winter, when frigid air blows off sea ice to collide with warmer, moister air in the North Atlantic. Polar lows are a lot smaller and weaker than hurricanes, they’re generally shorter-lived, and the only danger they generally pose is to shipping and oil rigs.
However, according to a new study in Nature Geoscience, the dozens of polar lows that roil the Greenland, Iceland and Norwegian seas every year may have an effect on the climate of North America and Europe. And if polar lows move northward with the changing climate, as some studies have predicted, winters in both places could become colder, even as the planet warms.
As if that weren’t bad enough, a northward displacement of these Arctic storms could also raise sea level higher along America’s mid-Atlantic coast than the average increase of 3 feet or so projected for the world as a whole by 2100.
It all has to do with the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), a vast conveyer belt of sea water that includes the Gulf Stream. Warm equatorial water travels up along the U.S. East Coast, and then peels off toward the northeast to bathe England and Western Europe with relatively balmy water and air. Without this current’s moderating influence, Madrid, for example, which is as far north as Chicago, would be a lot colder.
Read the rest at the lieu de provenance. Here's a video I found when looking for info while GAC-2012 was raging, explaining Polar lows:
Great storms, small storms, it all seems to be changing.
And if it does, it's probably not going to be good.