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“It’s Crazy” Says Mark Serreze

March 10, 2018

By Paul Homewood




According to Mark Serreze, who claims to be a scientist working at NSIDC, “It’s just crazy, crazy stuff. These heat waves – I’ve never seen anything like this”

He was of course talking about the fact that Arctic temperatures weren’t quite as glacial as they usually are in the winter just gone.

If he had been a proper scientist, he would have known that massive swings in the climate of the Arctic are not uncommon.


In 2006, Kenneth Drinkwater published this paper, about what has been called “The Warming in the North”:





During the 1920s and 1930s, there was a dramatic warming of the northern North Atlantic Ocean. Warmer-than-normal sea temperatures, reduced sea ice conditions and enhanced Atlantic inflow in northern regions continued through to the 1950s and 1960s, with the timing of the decline to colder temperatures varying with location. Ecosystem changes associated with the warm period included a general northward movement of fish. Boreal species of fish such as cod, haddock and herring expanded farther north while colder-water species such as capelin and polar cod retreated northward. The maximum recorded movement involved cod, which spread approximately 1200 km northward along West Greenland. Migration patterns of “warmer water” species also changed with earlier arrivals and later departures. New spawning sites were observed farther north for several species or stocks while for others the relative contribution from northern spawning sites increased. Some southern species of fish that were unknown in northern areas prior to the warming event became occasional, and in some cases, frequent visitors. Higher recruitment and growth led to increased biomass of important commercial species such as cod and herring in many regions of the northern North Atlantic. Benthos associated with Atlantic waters spread northward off Western Svalbard and eastward into the eastern Barents Sea. Based on increased phytoplankton and zooplankton production in several areas, it is argued that bottom-up processes were the primary cause of these changes. The warming in the 1920s and 1930s is considered to constitute the most significant regime shift experienced in the North Atlantic in the 20th century.


All of the factors were present then that we see now – warmer sea temperatures, reduced sea ice, enhanced Atlantic inflow, and ecosystem changes.


The Introduction offers more detail:

In the 1920s and 1930s, there was a dramatic warming of the air and ocean temperatures in the northern North Atlantic and the high Arctic, with the largest changes occurring north of 60oN (Rogers, 1985; Polyakov et al., 2003; Johannessen et al., 2004). This led to reduced ice cover in the Arctic and subarctic regions and higher sea temperatures. Jensen and Hansen (1931) and later Jensen (1939, 1949) documented the expansion of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus) along the west coast of Greenland in response to the changes in the ocean climate. Other species were also observed to have undergone significant abundance and distributional changes. This was a clear case of an environmentally driven ecosystem response that became of paramount interest for fishery researchers at the time. This interest lead to the first scientific meeting by ICES on climate change held in 1948 at Copenhagen (ICES, 1949) entitled Climate Changes in the Arctic in Relation to Plants and Animals. Ahlmann (1949), in his introductory address, noted that the warming had broad geographic extent with significant effects in the region: increasing air temperatures, receding glaciers, decreasing Arctic ice extent and thickness, decreasing water levels in lakes through increased evaporation, and high sea-level elevations due to melting ice.

This warming event was associated with atmospheric changes causing increased transfer of heat from low to high latitudes (Brooks, 1938; Ahlmann, 1949; Rogers, 1985). Indeed, increased southerly winds pumped warm air into the northern North Atlantic and also into the Arctic. Overland et al. (2004) showed that the Icelandic Low was located farther to the east than usual in the 1930s with the result that Northern Europe was subsequently warmed by winds from the southeast. This is in strong contrast to its normal warming from the southwest associated with a positive North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) phase. In the Northwest Atlantic, a high-pressure system over Greenland caused warm southerly flow over Baffin Bay (Overland et al., 2004). Bengtsson et al. (2004) proposed that the temperature increase was related to enhanced wind-driven oceanic inflow into the Barents Sea with an associated sea-ice retreat. Through feedback mechanisms, this in turn generated and enhanced the cyclonic low pressure in the region and created a strong surface heat flux over the ice-free areas, a mechanism previously proposed by A ˚ dlandsvik and Loeng (1991). Modelling studies suggest that these changes might be caused by internal, non-linear dynamics of the atmosphere (Delworth and Knutson, 2000; Bengtsson et al., 2004).


Interestingly Drinkwater states (my bold):

Given the earlier reviews noted above, why is a new review needed? First, new information has become available, most noticeably on phytoplankton and zooplankton, as well as on the response of fish stocks such as capelin (Mallotus villotus) and herring (Clupea harengus). Second, our understanding and knowledge of some of the physical and biological processes have increased so we are in a better position to determine what likely happened. Finally, while many fisheries scientists working during that era were familiar with the event, many of today’s marine ecologists and fisheries scientists have either forgotten or do not know about it. This needs to be rectified given the important lessons it can teach us about what to expect under future climate change.


He describes the physical changes:

In the North Atlantic (Fig. 1), air temperatures through the latter part of the 19th century and the early 20th century were relatively cool compared to years since then. During the 1920s, and especially after 1925, average air temperatures began to rise rapidly and continued to do so through the 1930s (Fig. 2a–f). Mean annual air temperatures increased by approximately 0.5–1 C and the cumulative sums of anomalies varied from 1.5 to 6 C between 1920 and 1940 with the higher values occurring in West Greenland and Iceland. Farther south along the east coast of Canada and the northeastern United States, as well as in much of southern Europe, no such temperature increase occurred (Fig. 2g–h). However, even farther south, for example around Cape Hatteras and at Funchal in Madeira off the west coast of Africa, the large temperature increase was also observed (Fig. 2i–j). Throughout the remainder of this paper, only the changes associated with rise in temperatures in the most northern regions of North Atlantic are considered.

Through the 1940s and 1950s air temperatures in the northern most regions varied but generally remained relatively high (e.g. at Nuuk in West Greenland, Fig. 3). Thereafter, there was a rapid cooling trend with the exact timing of the decline varying spatially. In the Northwest Atlantic, warm conditions remained through most of the 1960s whereas in the Northeast Atlantic they began declining slightly earlier. The high temperatures recorded during the warm period from 1930–1960 match, and in some cases exceed, the present day warming (Johannessen et al., 2004).




And reminds us that they were intimately connected with sea temperatures:

Sea temperatures also rose in the northern North Atlantic (Fig. 4). Jensen (1939) documented the increase in sea surface temperatures (SSTs) off West Greenland while Scherhag (1937) and Smed (1947, 1949) did the same for several areas of the northern North Atlantic. Smed’s (1947) analysis showed the largest increase was off West Greenland and Norway, although no data from north of the Arctic Circle were analyzed (see also Beverton and Lee, 1965). A significant but lower sea surface temperature increase was observed off southwest Iceland (Fig. 4; Thomsen, 1937). The increase at the Faroes was of the order 0.5 C and occurred in the early 1930s (Ta˚ning, 1953), somewhat later than many other locations but consistent with the later rise in air temperatures observed at this site (Fig. 2). Sea temperatures also rose farther south in the North Sea, the English Channel and the Baltic Sea (Beverton and Lee, 1965). Scherhag (1937) reported that Gulf Stream temperatures were approximately 0.4 C higher in 1926–1933 compared to 1912–1918.



And it was not just sea surface temperatures:

The rise in ocean temperatures was not restricted to the surface waters. Jensen (1939) and Dunbar (1946) documented subsurface temperature increases down to 500 m in the waters off West Greenland. On the other side of the Atlantic, the annual average temperature of the top 200 m in the Kola section in the Barents Sea (Fig. 1) shows a sharp rise during the 1920s of over 0.5 C and remained high through to the early 1960s before declining (Fig. 5).



The fact that subsurface temperatures were rising in Arctic waters is hugely significant, as it shows it as not just a surface event. Once warm waters enter the Arctic basin, they tend to stay a long time, just circulating around the gyres. This is evidenced by the fact that Arctic temperatures remained high until the early 1960s.

And, unsurprisingly, all of this had a marked effect on sea ice:

There was a marked reduction in sea-ice extent that accompanied the warming. Polar ice or ‘‘storis’’ commonly flows from East Greenland around Cape Farewell and along West Greenland. The northernmost position of the storis off West Greenland, by month, and the number of months storis appeared between October and the following September, for the years 1899/1900 to 1971/1972 were listed by Valeur (1976). May is typically the month with the maximum northerly extent of storis. During the period 1899/1900 to 1925/1926 the ice penetrated farther north during May and lasted almost 2 months longer than for the period 1926/1927 to 1960/1961 (Fig. 6). Off Iceland, in the 1920s and 1930s, the ice edge retreated northward such that ice was observed along the north coast for only a couple of weeks each year compared to 12–14 weeks in the late 1800s (Lamb and Johnson, 1959; Schell, 1961). In the Barents Sea, the ice edge moved north and east (Beverton and Lee, 1965). Around Svalbard it retreated an average distance of some 150 miles northward in the late summer (Brooks, 1938). These retractions began in the Barents Sea and the Kara Sea in 1920 (Ahlmann, 1949).



I suggest Mark Serreze studies a bit of Arctic history.

The only crazy thing about all of this is that anybody pays any attention to the charlatan.

  1. Joe Public permalink
    March 10, 2018 1:58 pm

    “It’s just crazy, crazy stuff,” said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, who has been studying the Arctic since 1982. “These heat waves – I’ve never seen anything like this.”

    “…. since 1982.”

    • rckkrgrd permalink
      March 10, 2018 10:12 pm

      Must be a millenial

  2. MrGrimNasty permalink
    March 10, 2018 2:39 pm

    Even crazier, according to DMI, the surface temperature has dropped almost 20C in the last few days, as cold as it’s been all winter – when the temperatures would normally be starting to rise. It’s too crazy, I can’t take any more (climate activists masquerading at scientists that is).

  3. Gamecock permalink
    March 10, 2018 2:41 pm

    ‘If he had been a proper scientist, he would have known that massive swings in the climate of the Arctic are not uncommon.’

    Grrrr . . . WEATHER, not climate.

  4. roger permalink
    March 10, 2018 2:57 pm

    Meanwhile on Sky news today we were unequivocally told that the Barrier Reef of the Seychelles is in danger of dying as it did in 1998 and again in 2016.
    Fortunately the Marine Graduates of our illustrious universities are on site and growing plugs of corals to reseed said reef.
    Sea temperatures are to blame and are rising inexorably due to climate change and AGW.
    Not a mention in the lengthy voice over of El Nino.
    Blatant lies from start to finish

    • March 10, 2018 3:19 pm

      The only thing that can cause sea temperatures to rise is increased sunlight due to reduced cloudiness. But of course we are told increased CO2 causes increased moisture in the atmosphere, hence increased cloudiness. Hence the increased sea temperatures are due to anti-climate change.

  5. Ben Vorlich permalink
    March 10, 2018 3:16 pm

    With respect to fish populations moving and changing.
    I remember reading that the whitefish population in the North Sea showed a huge increase in the years prior to the Common Fisheries Policy being implemented. As far as I remember the fish population was the highest for the 20th century, and fell back to normal levels after Britain had joined the EU. I think there had been a significant investment in boats and equipment which became redundant as fish populations fell, due to what had become over fishing, As far as i remember there was no theory as to what caused the changes, Had this event happened today Climate Change would be number one culprit.

    I cannot find the link nor remember the technical name for this population change to search for it,

    • bob permalink
      March 12, 2018 2:13 pm

      Heres a path to fish vs climate. Interesting that fish stocks tend to improve as it gets warmer (1920s,30s,40s) (more plankton) and decline as it gets colder (1960s,70s,80s).

      Comparison of the response of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) in the high-latitude regions of the North…
      October 2009 · Deep Sea Research Part II Topical Studies in Oceanography

      Concern about future anthropogenic warming has lead to demands for information on what might happen to fish and fisheries under various climate-change scenarios. One suggestion has been to use past events as a proxy for what will happen in the future. In this paper a comparison between the responses of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) to two major warm periods in the North Atlantic during the 20th century is carried out to determine how reliable the past might be as a predictor of the future. The first warm period began during the 1920s, remained relatively warm through the 1960s, and was limited primarily to the northern regions (>60°N). The second warm period, which again covered the northern regions but also extended farther south (30°N), began in the 1990s and has continued into the present century. During the earlier warm period, the most northern of the cod stocks (West Greenland, Icelandic, and Northeast Arctic cod in the Barents Sea) increased in abundance, individual growth was high, recruitment was strong, and their distribution spread northward. Available plankton data suggest that these cod responses were driven by bottom-up processes. Fishing pressure increased during this period of high cod abundance and the northern cod stocks began to decline, as early as the 1950s in the Barents Sea but during the 1960s elsewhere. Individual growth declined as temperatures cooled and the cod distributions retracted southward. During the warming in the 1990s, the spawning stock biomass of cod in the Barents Sea again increased, recruitment rose, and the stock spread northward, but the individual growth did not improve significantly. Cod off West Greenland also have shown signs of improving recruitment and increasing biomass, albeit they are still very low in comparison to the earlier warming period. The abundance of Icelandic cod, on the other hand, has remained low through the recent warm period and spawning stock biomass and total biomass are at levels near the lowest on record. The different responses of cod to the two warm events, in particular the reduced cod production during the recent warm period, are attributed to the effects of intense fishing pressure and possibly related ecosystem changes.

  6. Broadlands permalink
    March 10, 2018 4:44 pm

    This is an interesting read about “Animal Weather Prophets”…back in 1920…the period Drinkwater was discussing. Take your pick and spin the needle?

  7. AndyG55 permalink
    March 10, 2018 8:50 pm

    DMI 1976 vs 2018

  8. AndyG55 permalink
    March 10, 2018 8:57 pm

    According to NSIDC, current Arctic sea ice extent is above that of 2015, 2017.

    I find this QUITE REMARKABLE considering how much cold air has been pumped down over the rest of the Northern Hemisphere.

    Still, extent is WAY above the Holocene norm, in the top 10% of extents, actually.

    Its only been more extensive during the short 400-500 years of the LIA and a bit either side, plus a spike in the late 1970s.

    We really do live in a COLDER period of the current interglacial.

  9. March 10, 2018 10:29 pm

    Reblogged this on Roald J. Larsen.

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