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The Washington Post & The “Super Hot” Arctic

November 20, 2016

By Paul Homewood  



Daily mean temperature and climate north of the 80th northern parallel, as a function of the day of year.


There has been much excitement about much of the Arctic being warmer than usual at the moment.


The Washington Post describes it as “insane”. (The 36 degrees is Fahrenheit, by the way).




Chris Mooney is well known for biased and misleading reporting where climate change is concerned, but it is always sad to see otherwise respectable meteorologists such as Jason Samenow, one of the Capital Weather Gang, roped in as well, something that has become more frequent in recent years.

The simple reality, as Samenow should know, is that such departures above “normal” are not unusual during the colder months in the Arctic.

DMI have records back to 1954 for Arctic temperatures, and a quick trawl uncovers several similar instances, for instance 1972, 1974 and 1976:






The only difference was that these occurrences took place in January/February, rather than November. We should bear in mind that the 1970s were a time of expanding Arctic ice.


The Washington Post article actually explains what has been going on:


The Arctic is super-hot, even as a vast area of cold polar air has been displaced over Siberia…..


It’s about 20C [36 degrees Fahrenheit] warmer than normal over most of the Arctic Ocean, along with cold anomalies of about the same magnitude over north-central Asia,” Jennifer Francis, an Arctic specialist at Rutgers University, said by email Wednesday.

“The Arctic warmth is the result of a combination of record-low sea-ice extent for this time of year, probably very thin ice, and plenty of warm/moist air from lower latitudes being driven northward by a very wavy jet stream.”





The key is the comment about warm/moist air. Because of latent heat, when that moist air turns back to water, heat is given off, thus warming the atmosphere disproportionately.


Jennifer Francis has long claimed that the “wavy jetstream” is caused by melting Arctic ice. Yet HH Lamb found the same phenomenon in the 1960s and 70s, and believed it was caused by a colder Arctic!

Indeed, if we check out the GISS global temperature maps for the three years I have highlighted above, 1972, 1974 and 1976, we find very similar weather patterns, with very cold polar air displaced over Siberia and North America, along with warm air invading the Arctic.






The truth is that there is nothing unusual or unprecedented going on here. It is simply weather.

  1. Mr GrimNasty permalink
    November 20, 2016 1:15 pm

    I don’t think there is much doubt that the situation is unique in the observed history, but as you/they say the cold has not disappeared, it is merely displaced – insanely cold in Russia/Asia.
    The El Nino was unique, the QBO has behaved uniquely………. Some will undoubtedly blame man-made climate change, but random ‘weather’ is equally possible. Our window of observational records is so short, and the possibility of massive departures from the ‘norm’ in a chaotic system always possible.
    My worry is that if the situation doesn’t resolve, we could well have the mythical ice free Arctic this coming summer, and it will take years to show that it was a random one-off, and of course the dangerous man-made climate change industry will milk it for all it’s worth.

    • A C Osborn permalink
      November 20, 2016 3:15 pm

      With the quiet sun I don’t think we will need to worry about that.
      The energy from El Nino which passed through the atmosphere straight out to space has now left the system.
      The seas need recharging before we can get another one, in the mean time the Earth is cooling fast.
      Cold Records and Record snow in many places and it is only November.

      • November 20, 2016 5:07 pm

        A round-robin email from my old rugby club in Central Scotland this morning: all today’s youth fixtures were cancelled because the pitches were frozen.
        Pretty well unheard of in November!

      • Athelstan permalink
        November 21, 2016 9:47 am

        Anecdotally of course, 4-5″ of snow on the Pennines in November ain’t so unusual but the coolness of November is something to reckon, having played lots of outdoor sport since early youth and working outdoors, winter is here and sneaked in so early. We are experiencing [non scientific guesswork] av’ temps somewhat akin to a normal…..late December, in fact I’d be willing to bet that Jan 2016 will not have been much colder [warmer?] than is, our current November av’ T’s.
        I don’t like it, the portents much Mike but we’ll see, after all, this is Britain and if you wait a minute, see how the weather changes and…………………… all that luverly global warming just might come back?!

        Nature, she loves to tease us – our supreme arrogance.

  2. November 20, 2016 1:15 pm

    Really excellent analysis.
    Thank you.

  3. November 20, 2016 1:55 pm

    I wonder why the headline wasn’t “Siberia is an insane 36 degrees colder than normal”?

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      November 20, 2016 2:46 pm

      Great comment! I’ve a feeling it’s like Tuesday – the day after tomorrow…./s

    • David Richardson permalink
      November 20, 2016 6:07 pm

      Yes I made a similar point yesterday over at The NoTricksZone Phillip.

      The MSM are blind to cold events of which the last few years have provided quite a stack, especially in Asia, but elsewhere as well, even in the Southern Hemisphere.

      It will follow the usual pattern, 5 to 10 years of denial, followed by grudging acceptance, while Climate Science works how to sell cold as caused by warming.

    • AndyG55 permalink
      November 20, 2016 9:43 pm

      And that cold cell is gradually moving eastwards.

      Europe .. good luck.. I hope your electricity systems can take the strain.

      Very little wind, iced up blades, solar panels covered in ice.

      Is there enough REAL energy supply left?

      Time will tell.

      • AndyG55 permalink
        November 20, 2016 9:44 pm

        DOH!!.. I meant moving WESTWARD

      • November 21, 2016 10:33 am

        Trouble is you lot are upside down, downunder Andy!!!!

  4. Broadlands permalink
    November 20, 2016 1:57 pm

    I think it’s worth noting that the ENSO and the jet streams, along with volcanoes and earthquakes, are not subject to alteration by some added CO2. Certainly, trying to remove CO2 will have no effect… but that’s the “garden path” down which we are moving. How many years from now will we begin to see the results? All this scary forecasting is getting tiresome in its repetition. As stated above, nothing really unusual or unprecedented is happening.

  5. Newsel permalink
    November 20, 2016 2:06 pm

    A(nother) year of the Polar Vortex? The 3 maps shown above would tend to support the Polar Vortex “map” being shown in this article.

    • November 20, 2016 3:17 pm

      I’d already bookmarked the Telegraph article. The Met Office hasn’t predicted anything other than a 30% chance of a colder-than-average winter. Note that when the “Science Editor” actually quotes a Met Office scientist, he doesn’t mention the Polar Vortex at all.

      “Professor Adam Scaife, head of long-range prediction at the Met Office Hadley Centre, said: “There is an increased risk of cold snaps between now and Christmas.
      “Several factors, including tropical rainfall, are known to drive UK and European winter conditions: following a strong El Nino last year, the tropics are now influenced by a weak La Niña and unusual rainfall conditions in the Indian Ocean.
      “Historical weather observations and our latest computer model simulations agree that these factors are increasing the risk of a cold start to winter for the UK.”

      The Telegraph, Daily Star, Daily Mirror, Daily Express all claimed similar earlier this month, that the Met Office winter forecast said that cold Arctic air was to plunge the UK into snowmageddon, or something similar. Even their readers gave them stick in the comments.

      The actual forecast is here:

  6. Ben Vorlich permalink
    November 20, 2016 2:27 pm

    Caleb over at Sunrise’s Swansong is a long term Arctic and Arctic Sea Ice watcher. He has been posting on the weather system stalled over the pole for some months now. Dubbed Ralph by Caleb, he names most things he blogs about, it has been fascinating reading about the ebb and flow of how the system has maintained itself or been maintained.

    He covers a lot of stuff other than climate and that is normally worth reading too.

  7. Dung permalink
    November 20, 2016 2:41 pm

    @ Broadlands

    If they actually succeed in removing CO2 from the atmosphere then it really will create a catastrophic event; the end of all life on our planet ^.^

    • Broadlands permalink
      November 20, 2016 3:35 pm

      Dung… “They” don’t want to remove it all, just 100 billion tons of it. Not to worry… the sea ice will return next month… Hadley just said “There is an increased risk of cold snaps between now and Christmas.”. The Great Barrier Reef will have to wait until later after they decide where to put 100,000 million tons of compressed CO2 and then how to get it all done with “alternative” energy. Sounds simple doesn’t it?

  8. mwhite permalink
    November 20, 2016 2:51 pm

    A wavy or meridinal jetstream, according to Piers Corbyn is more comman durring low solar activity.

  9. jim permalink
    November 20, 2016 2:54 pm

    You have to remember, they are not fixated on survival of mankind, but limits. That is why prominent scientists, say we have to get out of, off of earth. Others, claim, save earth, by forcing carbon depletion, them first please, I don’t think they realize what they mutter.

  10. AlecM permalink
    November 20, 2016 4:48 pm

    The real issue is that the warm N. Pole is because earlier this year we had the hot N. Pacific, a response by that ocean to a hot El Nino.

    That energy, via latent heat, is now heading to Space by a combination of extra precipitation and extra radiation as humidity falls. This process is how the planet cools, hence ~1.2 K mean global temperature fall.since the Spring. Also the 2nd highest ever recorded NH hemisphere snow cover from the higher than average autumn precipitation.

    This high snow cover with low albedo means that humidity will be below normal thus increasing radiative flux to space in the H2O bands. A very cold winter is on the way.

  11. November 20, 2016 5:25 pm

    It would be nice if the bellybucking, pointy-haired, Big City clueless wonders
    learned how an “air conditioner” or “heat pump” works.

    You take nice, warm Hawaiian tropical air and
    …… put it in a “dark place where the sun don’t shine”.

    Measuring the output side of a heat pump is “interesting” in how much energy is being transferred out of the system
    but I view averaging it with the input side is “less than honest”.

  12. John F. Hultquist permalink
    November 20, 2016 6:05 pm

    This is excellent:
    DMI have records back to 1954 for Arctic temperatures, and a quick trawl uncovers several similar instances, for instance 1972, 1974 and 1976:
    Thank you for making this so clear.

    Several years ago when I saw a reference to a spike in Arctic temperatures, I spent time looking at these charts. Now it is about like the neighbor’s barking dog. I don’t pay much attention. It helps that I have a basic science background so latent and sensible heat are not unknown terms. Seems they are unknown to many CAGW types.

    I do have a nit to pick, though, with this:
    The key is the comment about warm/moist air. Because of latent heat, when that moist air turns back to water, …

    In the interest of accuracy “moist air” is the atmosphere with a relatively high amount of water vapor (gas) and it is this one gas that changes its state to liquid or solid. This is a small percentage of the gaseous atmosphere, or air.

  13. RAH permalink
    November 20, 2016 8:50 pm

    It really is funny how wrapped around the axle they get about the WEATHER at the poles and the ever changing sea ice extent, volume, area, and age. BTW it may be warmer than average in the Artic right now but it sure as hell is still well below freezing so who ever claimed it’s “super hot” there is a moron.

    • AndyG55 permalink
      November 21, 2016 4:50 am

      The Russian sea ice charts show a LOT more older ice than in 2012.. its just the refreeze around the edges that is currently stalled, because all the really COLD stuff is over northern Russia instead.

      Did I mention that it seems to be moving WEST towards Europe. I hope the depleted electricity power supplies of most of Europe can cope. I don’t imagine blackouts when the temperature is -30C or something will be very nice. !!

  14. November 20, 2016 10:03 pm

    Reblogged this on Climatism.

  15. The Old Bloke permalink
    November 20, 2016 10:07 pm

    Minus 10 in Scotland tonight folks and thanks for running the thread Paul.

  16. tom0mason permalink
    November 20, 2016 10:48 pm

    As Eurasia freezes, impacting people and resources, the media heightens the anxiety over the ice at the North Pole and their dumb ‘Save the Polar Bear’ hokum. The polar bears have survived there for quite a while, and will continue surviving.
    Ice at the North Pole a meaningless metric that indicates little more than the temperature of the water the ice is in. Why the fascination with the ice? So the public are distracted away from the true stories of the real misery.
    Main stream Media (MSM) gleefully ignore the fact of real people suffering, real people frozen to death because for them the only ‘noble cause’ is saving life that is not human, as these natural events occur.

    No global warming so the public must be distracted with something — bread and circuses.

    • Broadlands permalink
      November 21, 2016 2:16 am

      Yes… those poor and cute polar bears….

      “The current scientific consensus places the worldwide polar bear population between 20,000 and 25,000 animals. Prior to the 1973 worldwide restriction on commercial polar bear hunting, that number was dramatically lower, so low that a meeting of polar bear specialists in 1965 concluded that extinction was a real possibility. Some reports even estimated the number of bears as low as 5,000 worldwide. Yet by 1990, Ian Stirling — at the time, the senior research scientist for the Canadian Wildlife Service and a professor of zoology at the University of Alberta; basically, one of the most respected polar bear scientists on the planet — felt comfortable answering the question as to whether polar bears are an endangered species by stating flatly: “They are not.” He went on to say that “the world population of polar bears is certainly greater than 20,000 and could be as high as 40,000 … I am inclined toward the upper end of that range.” Although old studies are sketchy, clearly more polar bears are alive today than there were 50 years ago, an essentially heartening fact that has not managed to pierce the public consciousness.”

      Indeed, the public is still worried..because of the media’s fascination? Or because one or two vocal activists keep the media?

  17. HotScot permalink
    November 21, 2016 12:20 am

    Ice, lovely in a G&T, useless for anything else other than sports injuries and boring scientists holes…….sorry, scientists boring holes.

    Same thing really.

  18. songhees permalink
    November 21, 2016 4:35 am

    I would like to tell you of my latest book, “Human Caused Global Warming”.
    The Biggest Deception in History.
    Available on ‘’ and ‘Indigo/Chapters’.
    Trial date for Dr Michael Mann vs Dr Tim Ball, February 20th, 2017.

  19. tom0mason permalink
    November 21, 2016 5:23 am

    From all the forecasts I’ve looked at for the Christmas/New Year period, looks like Europe and UK is going to a rough, stormy and cold time of it.
    In particular I’ve found this guy to be fairly good at short term forecasts…

  20. November 21, 2016 1:43 pm

    I’ve been explaining all this for some time:

    The warmer Arctic is a consequence of solar induced jet stream changes which affects global cloudiness.

    After a while the accelerated loss of energy to space from the Arctic plus the reduction of sunshine reaching the oceans due to increased cloudiness will cool the whole system so that sea ice begins to increase once more.

    • November 21, 2016 3:40 pm

      I’m glad to see you’ve got it right – it’s the weather systems/climate zones which dictate the track of the jet streams, not the other way round, as many scientists and most journalists obviously think. I’m preparing a post on this sort of cause/effect misunderstanding. Similar misunderstanding on the polar vortices: “Polar vortex to bring Arctic weather to the UK” etc. Something has to cause jet streams and vortices to move. They don’t have minds of their own.

  21. November 21, 2016 5:58 pm

    ‘There has been much excitement about much of the Arctic being warmer than usual at the moment.’

    Therefore it’s not usually that warm at this time of year, so it’s just a weather event unless it stays that way for a long time. Next!

  22. tom0mason permalink
    November 22, 2016 3:13 am

    Where are the records for the amount of Arctic ice over the centuries?
    Ice records that could prove Hansen’s assumption that Arctic sea ice is a good proxy for indicating global temperature trends.

    Since when did local temperature effects, both atmospheric and oceanic, on ice volumes become an indicator of global temperatures?

    Where are the studies and research attempting to prove Arctic ice amounts vary directly with global temperatures?

  23. Frank Hudek permalink
    November 22, 2016 7:17 pm

    I do notice on the graphs of the 70’s anomaly years, large sections of those years were spent at or below the average curve. I looked at the graphs over the last 10 years and periods of dipping below the average are few and far between. This present year has been consistently above the average curve as compared to the 70’s data.

    • December 2, 2016 4:52 am

      This is a good observation. I’ve noticed the same thing. I think it may be due to the fact we are still in the “warm” AMO, whilst the 1970’s were more in the influence of the “cold” AMO. But I’m not sure, and likely it is best to conclude little and observe a lot.

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