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Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Friday, January 20, 2012

Is it Hot because it's Cold?

Timothy Birdnow

One of the more counterintuitive claims by the Global Warming Alarmists is that a warming of the globe triggers cold weather and heavy snowfall. The argument is that a warmer planet means more water vapor in the atmosphere, which means more winter snow, which reflects more sunlight off the globe, leading to bitterly cold wind patterns coming from the colder parts. It's cold because it's warm, according to Judah Cohen, climate modeler at the consulting firm Atmospheric and Environmental Research in Lexington, Massachusetts, in a 2010 op-ed in the New York Times:

" As global temperatures have warmed and as Arctic sea ice has melted over the past two and a half decades, more moisture has become available to fall as snow over the continents. So the snow cover across Siberia in the fall has steadily increased.

The sun’s energy reflects off the bright white snow and escapes back out to space. As a result, the temperature cools. When snow cover is more abundant in Siberia, it creates an unusually large dome of cold air next to the mountains, and this amplifies the standing waves in the atmosphere, just as a bigger rock in a stream increases the size of the waves of water flowing by."

End excerpt.

I wrote about this at the time, and argued that Cohen was taking the not-so unusual and conflating it in light of Global Warming theory.

I made the following observation:

"Furthermore, what do we mean by unusual weather events? We have had blizzards -- many of them -- in the past, and will continue to have them in the future. What is different is that now we are studying every patch of the globe intently, using satellites (and satellite data has only been available since the end of the '70's) and other high-tech gadgets. Are these really unusual weather patterns or simply things we are only now noticing? For example, Sioux Falls, SD received 21 inches of snow in the blizzard of 1909, and 20 inches in 1917. The snowiest year on their record was 1968, when they received 96 total inches.

You will notice that the year of drastic snow melt in the Arctic -- 1922 -- did not make honorable mention there. In fact, Northern Hemisphere Snow Cover Area (SCA) in winter did rise by the end of the 1920's, not during the melt of 1921, according to the IPCC and as of 2005 was down considerably. If Arctic ice melt is causing more snow, then we should see this happen when the Arctic is ice free. The IPCC's own work shows less snow in spring and summer, I might add."

End excerpt.

Well, Cohen is still at it; this time in a new paper entitled "Arctic warming, increasing snow cover and widespread boreal winter cooling". According to the abstract:

"The most up to date consensus from global climate models predicts warming in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) high latitudes to middle latitudes during boreal winter. However, recent trends in observed NH winter surface temperatures diverge from these projections. For the last two decades, large-scale cooling trends have existed instead across large stretches of eastern North America and northern Eurasia. We argue that this unforeseen trend is probably not due to internal variability alone. Instead, evidence suggests that summer and autumn warming trends are concurrent with increases in high-latitude moisture and an increase in Eurasian snow cover, which dynamically induces large-scale wintertime cooling. Understanding this counterintuitive response to radiative warming of the climate system has the potential for improving climate predictions at seasonal and longer timescales."

End excerpt.

O.K.; so Cohen is still peddling his theory that it's cold because it's hot. Well, one must ask, if a dearth of ice in the Arctic Ocean leads to higher snowfall, which leads to colder weather, what is it that is making this year's warmer weather? Arctic sea ice was well below average this year. See and

Granted, Siberian snow cover was down, but why was it down if Global Warming is in full swing and warmer Arctic temperatures mean higher snowfall?

Please look at this graph. You will note that the deviation in snowfall in Siberia is minimal, meaning that there is neither an excess nor a dearth of snow. (Click on the right arrow to get January data as well.) Cohen's whole argument is predicated on the notion that snowfall in Siberia is critical for North American winters - yet this suggests that a. Arctic Sea Ice has made no difference on Siberian snowfall and b. a dearth of Siberian snowfall is not at the heart of the curren warm winter we are experiencing.

No, the warm winter we are experiencing stems from a strong positive Arctic Oscillation (AO) and a La Nina weather pattern in the Pacific. The strong AO means faster and colder wind patterns circling the Arctic, which in turn prevents cold air from being sucked down to lower latitudes. The La Nina weather pattern pushes warm air northward, rather than sucking cold air south. The combination of the two has caused the cold to stay north (where Alaska has been dumped on by massive snow storms and cold) and has led to tropical air being pulled across North America. Here is a good analysis from Nasa.

If it's cold because it's hot, is it hot because it's cold? Are we experiencing Global Cooling, which is making North America more moderate? Is the future going to feature Saskatchewan becoming the new wine country, with Saskatoonian Chardonnay? Are we going to grow olives in Cody, Wyoming? Is America to become a warm continent? Planetary temperatures HAVe stabilized after all, and it appears the Earth may be moving into a cooling trend. Does that mean warmer winters? According to Cohen's logic it does.

I'm not buying any beachfront property at the Great Slave Lake any time soon.

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