By Paul Homewood
h/t Patsy Lacey
The Conversation has now got involved in the Arctic heatwave scare, with this article by Jonathan Bamber, Professor of Physical Geography, University of Bristol :
On the eve of the summer solstice, something very worrying happened in the Arctic Circle. For the first time in recorded history, temperatures reached 38°C (101°F) in a remote Siberian town – 18°C warmer than the maximum daily average for June in this part of the world, and the all-time temperature record for the region.
New records are being set every year, and not just for maximum temperatures, but for melting ice and wildfires too. That’s because air temperatures across the Arctic have been increasing at a rate that is about twice the global average.
All that heat has consequences. Siberia’s recent heatwave, and high summer temperatures in previous years, have been accelerating the melting of Arctic permafrost. This is the permanently frozen ground which has a thin surface layer that melts and refreezes each year. As temperatures rise, the surface layer gets deeper and structures embedded in it start to fail as the ground beneath them expands and contracts. This is what is partly to blame for the catastrophic oil spill that occurred in Siberia in June 2020, when a fuel reservoir collapsed and released more than 21,000 tonnes of fuel – the largest ever spill in the Arctic.
So what is wrong with the Arctic, and why does climate change here seem so much more severe compared to the rest of the world?
The article goes on in similar vein, talking about albedo, how the computer models forecast all of this and how it is all part of a longer term trend. It concludes:
The Arctic has sometimes been described as the canary in the coal mine for climate breakdown. Well it’s singing pretty loudly right now and it will get louder and louder in years to come.
However, the article ignores some very inconvenient facts.
For a start, as I have already pointed out here, the new temperature record at Verhojansk is only 0.7C higher than the previous record set in 1988. Hardly a sign of apocalypse.
Analysis shows that extremely hot days are not uncommon at Verhojansk, with notable heatwaves occurring in 1988 and 2010. Prior to this summer, the last really hot day was in July 2011, when temperatures reached 34.1C.
The idea that places in the Arctic should not be getting this hot is an emotive one, but not one supported by the evidence.
This analysis alone suggests that there is no longer term trend to more frequent and intense heatwaves there.
A similar picture emerges when we look at average summer temperatures. The warmest summer at Verhojansk was as long ago as 1917! The summers of 2010 and 2011 were also unusually hot, but since then summers have been no hotter than some in the early 20thC:
Returning to this summer, it is worth noting that the claimed record of 38C on July 20th has not even been verified yet, and has actually been removed from the official GHCN database (presumably until it is proved to be genuine – it was, by the way, in the GHCN when I checked earlier this week):
It is surely premature for The Conversation to be rushing to publish articles such as this, when we don’t even know whether the data is correct.
Looking at the Arctic from a wider perspective, we should also recognise that this new “record” replaces the previous one in Alaska of 37.8C, which was set in 1915! An increase of 0.2C in more than a century is hardly a cause for panic.
Bamber also claims that air temperatures across the Arctic have been increasing at a rate that is about twice the global average. However this ignores the cyclical nature of the Arctic climate.
Generally speaking, temperatures across the Arctic were broadly as high in the 1930s and 40s as they are now. In between times, temperatures plunged in the 1960s and 70s, the time when Arctic sea ice also expanded massively:
This cycle is intimately tied in with the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). The data clearly shows that the warming part of the cycle, which began around 1990, has now levelled off. The likelihood is that the Arctic will get much colder when the AMO turns negative again.