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Polar Heatwave Scare Debunked

March 23, 2022

By Paul Homewood


Anthony Watts puts down the latest Antarctic meltdown scare:



This past week two left-leaning media outlets, MSN (via The Washington Post aka WaPo), and the always alarmed UK based The Guardian ran stories saying the Arctic and Antarctic, had experienced “unprecedented” high temperatures. These claims can’t be verified since they were the results from a set of weather model simulations, indicating variations of above normal temperatures for the regions, not actual surface temperatures measured by ground-based weather stations.

The Guardian headline was full of worry courtesy of author Fiona Harvey:

Heatwaves at both of Earth’s poles alarm climate scientists

Antarctic areas reach 40C above normal at same time as north pole regions hit 30C above usual levels

She writes:

Startling heatwaves at both of Earth’s poles are causing alarm among climate scientists, who have warned the “unprecedented” events could signal faster and abrupt climate breakdown.

At the same time, weather stations near the north pole also showed signs of melting, with some temperatures 30C above normal, hitting levels normally attained far later in the year.

At this time of year, the Antarctic should be rapidly cooling after its summer, and the Arctic only slowly emerging from its winter, as days lengthen. For both poles to show such heating at once is unprecedented.

They key phrase here is: “weather stations near the north pole.” The northernmost weather station is Alert, Nunavut and it is 817 km (508 mi) from the North Pole. That’s like trying to gauge the temperature in Indianapolis from a  warmer temperature reading in Atlanta.

MSN/WaPo authors Jason Samenow and Kasha Patel had this flabbergasting headline:

It’s 70 degrees warmer than normal in eastern Antarctica. Scientists are flabbergasted.

The coldest location on the planet has experienced an episode of warm weather this week unlike any ever observed, with temperatures over the eastern Antarctic ice sheet soaring 50 to 90 degrees above normal. The warmth has smashed records and shocked scientists.

“This event is completely unprecedented and upended our expectations about the Antarctic climate system,” said Jonathan Wille, a researcher studying polar meteorology at Université Grenoble Alpes in France, in an email.

“Antarctic climatology has been rewritten,” tweeted Stefano Di Battista, a researcher who has published studies on Antarctic temperatures. He added that such temperature anomalies would have been considered “impossible” and “unthinkable” before they actually occurred.

Both articles mentioned “climate” in the context of blame or contribution to these weather events.

To the uninitiated reading about these “events,” it must surely seem like evidence the planet is on its way to being wrecked from global warming aka “climate change,” and that the polar icecaps are in danger of melting away to nothing.

The reality is entirely different.

The MSN article includes this graphic:

Figure 1 – the image that has scientists “flabbergasted.”

It always pays to read the fine print, and in this case the MSN caption for that Figure 1 image (when you click on it at MSN to enlarge it) is telling:

Simulation of temperature differences from normal centered over Antarctica from the American (GFS) model.

That’s right, it isn’t temperature that actually measured at the surface of that forlorn icecap, it’s a model simulation of temperature from a single climate model, the GFS model.

If we look at that same “model simulation” today, from the same source, all of the sudden that “flabbergasting” image is gone, and temperatures are frigid again as seen in Figure 2 below.

Figure 2 – The same model simulation, just 4 days later.

Once again, the media proves itself incapable of differentiating between short-term model simulations of a weather event from long-term evidence climate change. Indeed, the “flabbergasting” spike in temperature may very well have been nothing but a glitch of mathematics in the model, and not actual weather.

Indeed, science can’t say for sure if the brief spikes in temperature at the poles last week were real or simply a product of one flawed model’s simulation, a glitch in the numerical model output

Verifying actual weather is difficult. There are very few actual surface weather stations on the eastern Antarctic icecap, and none at all at the North Pole. See more at this map.

In the Arctic, it is a similar story after last week’s alarming model simulated “heat wave,” temperatures are back to their frigid normal as seen in Figure 3 below:

Figure 3 – North pole temperatures on Tuesday March 22nd are at -30 to -40°C

Surface weather stations in both the Arctic and the Antarctic are relatively recent developments in meteorology. In the Arctic, the ice floats on the ocean. It is unstable, moves, and breaks up in the spring making it nearly impossible to keep a weather station in one place, much less operational. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) started deploying floating weather stations and web cams in 2002 at the North Pole, but gave up due to “funding constraints” in 2015.

In Antarctica, due to the extremely harsh conditions of temperature, blowing snow, and lack of sunlight to power solar cells, Automated Weather Stations (AWS) are few and far between. Plus, such weather stations have only been present in Antarctica since 1978. The harsh environment often buries these weather stations in snow, leaving them with faulty temperature data, or completely inoperable due to solar panels being covered. The AWS’s have to be dug out of the snow each year.

This is why meteorologists often rely on mathematical simulations of the atmosphere to “guess” the temperatures of the air at the north and south poles – they can’t always trust the actual data to be there or be accurate.

So, in summary we have these points to consider about Arctic and Antarctic weather data:

  • We don’t have actual weather data in many places at the North and South poles.
  • The weather data we do have may be compromised or intermittent due to harsh weather conditions affecting ground based weather stations.
  • Compared to larger 100+ years of climate data for the globe, we have maybe 40 years of data for the poles at best.

Since we have at best 40 years of data and observations from the poles, is science capable of determining if weather events like the one modeled in Antarctica are “unprecedented” or not?

We simply don’t know if they are, because we haven’t been looking that long.

Indeed, science can’t say for sure if the brief spikes in temperature at the poles last week were real or simply a product of one flawed model’s simulation, a glitch in the numerical model output. Even if it were real, one brief spike in temperature is not the same as a long-term climate change, which is defined as a trend of 30 or more years of data.

Yet, somehow, climate scientists are “alarmed” and “flabbergasted” at a single day weather event simulated from a computer model.

Scientists (and journalists) that use those terms might be better off keeping a lid on their opinions until they have real data to confirm their “unprecedented” claims. Carl Sagan rightly opined, paraphrasing Laplace’s principle, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

These researchers, and the corporate media outlets which uncritically parroted their claims, have presented no extraordinary evidence that either Antarctica or the Arctic experienced an unusual spike in warming. Model simulations simply aren’t evidence.

  1. Penda100 permalink
    March 23, 2022 2:11 pm

    Much better to forget about the data (and balanced reporting) when you’ve got a planet to save. And such a pity to miss out on panic headlines, much better to frighten your readers

    • Janice Moore permalink
      March 23, 2022 5:01 pm

      Rather, “… when you’ve got” big income from fooling the public about the need for your permanently negative ROI (without OPM) solar and wind projects and want to keep the money coming.

  2. Gamecock permalink
    March 23, 2022 3:01 pm

    “Startling heatwaves at both of Earth’s poles are causing alarm among climate scientists”

    Climate scientists are emotional train wrecks. They stay frightened all the time. I’m going to call them climate science kittens.

    • Martin Brumby permalink
      March 23, 2022 4:19 pm

      I see where you’re coming from.

      But kittens are pretty feisty.

      Climate “Scientists”? The heat is generated by the conflagration in their pants.

      • robertliddell1 permalink
        March 23, 2022 5:39 pm

        And I like kittens…

      • Matt Dalby permalink
        March 23, 2022 9:25 pm

        If only climate scientists, and alarmists such as Greta, were kittens we could do what we do with irritating, whining kittens. Put them in a sack and drown them in the nearest canal.
        Actually being an animal lover I’d never do that to a kitten, but would quite happily do it to Greta.

    • Matt Dalby permalink
      March 23, 2022 9:26 pm

      If only climate scientists, and alarmists such as Greta, were kittens we could do what we do with irritating, whining kittens. Put them in a sack and drown them in the nearest canal.
      Actually being an animal lover I’d never do that to a kitten, but would quite happily do it to Greta.

    • Hivemind permalink
      March 24, 2022 5:35 am


      • Gerry, England permalink
        March 24, 2022 1:39 pm

        No, that’s unfair to sheep and their higher intellect. Not to mention that sheep serve several useful functions.

      • David Wild permalink
        March 25, 2022 3:13 pm

        Sheep can be trained, it’s just there’s no motivation fr it. On one of our visits to New Zealand, some farmer had trained one of his sheep just like a dog.
        He took it to the local broadcaster (by invitation) and an interviewer (I think they have less intelligence than sheep), asked whether it would poop all over the floor. He, rather snappily, pointed that you wouldn’t expect a well-trained Border Collie to do that, so why expect a trained sheep to do it. And it didn’t. Clearly more intelligent than an interviewer!

  3. Ian Magness permalink
    March 23, 2022 3:03 pm

    “weather stations near the north pole also showed signs of melting, with some temperatures 30C above normal”
    Blimey! Not least as temperatures have actually remained well below zero C at these latitudes, if the weather stations are melting, I reckon they just might need to get new and better ones fit for purpose.

  4. Curious George permalink
    March 23, 2022 3:25 pm

    The Russians have lived in a simulated prosperity for 100 years.

  5. March 23, 2022 3:31 pm

    Reblogged this on Piece of Mindful.

  6. March 23, 2022 5:01 pm

    Their flabbers are so easily ghasted it’s farcical. Do they even look at the overall trends?

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      March 23, 2022 5:15 pm

      I always thought it was ghasts that were flabbered. Maybe that’s where they have been going wrong all these years!

      • March 23, 2022 7:42 pm

        Certainly getting it all back to front and upside down 😆

  7. Martin Brumby permalink
    March 23, 2022 5:05 pm


    Never mind the Russians.

    We’ve lived in a simulated lunatic asylum for at least 25 years. ⁸

  8. Cheshire Red permalink
    March 23, 2022 5:55 pm

    Would it be beyond the realms of possibility to suggest that this was, ahem, a deliberate lie?

    Funny how it seemed to instantly gather hysterical global media headlines, wasn’t it? Meanwhile today – ta-da! – as if by magic everything is back to frigid again.

    Perishing cold and perish the thought. I should be ashamed for even considering it.

  9. March 23, 2022 6:11 pm

    Despite it being totally and utterly raw BLX, my lady partner actually believed it, and griped at me for being ‘cynical’. Frightening the populace into accepting all the global warmin’ CRAP we’re paying £billions to somehow ‘prevent’. IF it wasn’t SO sad, we should all be falling around laughing! Net zero will never happen because we’ll ALL see through it long before!

  10. Phoenix44 permalink
    March 23, 2022 7:07 pm

    Once again we see the media and Alarmists using “normal” when in fact they are looking at the average.

    I don’t know why Meteorology decided to use normal in this way, but it is leading large numbers of people to say and think very stupid things.

  11. March 23, 2022 8:41 pm

    It looks to me more like somebody just missed the minus sign and read temperatures of “-30 to -40” as “+30 to +40”

  12. Coeur de Lion permalink
    March 23, 2022 10:27 pm

    Aargh! Our wind is down to two per cent! Blackout on the way?

  13. Peter permalink
    March 23, 2022 11:55 pm

    “We don’t have actual weather data in many places at the North and South poles.”

    Hardly any ground data, but is satellite data available of that specific day?

    • Adam Gallon permalink
      March 24, 2022 7:12 am

      I believe that the polar regions are a blind spot for the satellites. Also they don’t measure surface temperatures, rather those in the lower troposphere.

      • March 24, 2022 10:33 am

        What the satellites in polar orbit so they survey the entire surface of the rotating globe? There are a range of observations at mutliople altitudes. . From SST’s, LT, MT and UT (I made the last tow acronyms up, but the UAH records include all these altitudes in the around the globe , I believe on a regular pitch. They are calibrated to higher resolution by the simultaneous observations of balloons. JOhn CHristy describes this on You TUbe.

    • norman paul weldon permalink
      March 24, 2022 8:49 am

      The DMI are a good source of information for the Arctic,
      Temperatures for North of 80 degrees are available here:

      There certainly was an increase in temperatures and around 15C above average. The data is sourced from satellite, goes back to 1958. However this is not unprecedented: Take a look at the years 1972 and 1976 when the temperatures there were much lower than present, The rise and fall in temperatures was in the region of 25C over a few days and much more extreme than the recent one.
      Also worth looking at the surface temperatures for the last month, using I/R emissions recorded by satellite. Again shows the sudden rise and fall in temperatures, circa 15C.
      Pretty certainly from an influx of warm air, we have had recently a persistent high pressure over the Baltics and the depressions from the Atlantic pushing up into the Arctic rather than to western Europe. Just weather,

      • Gamecock permalink
        March 29, 2022 6:37 pm

        “The data is sourced from satellite, goes back to 1958.”

        Check that date. We couldn’t get a satellite off the launch pad in 1958.

      • norman paul weldon permalink
        March 30, 2022 8:17 am

        You are correct, although the data does go back to 1958. The explanation of how the values are obtained is to be found here:

        Click to access arctic_mean_temp_data_explanation_newest.pdf

        Satellite data does appear to be used, but is only part of the source and only included once available. And I guess the values for Antarctica are calculated in the same way, That is not the impression one gets from many of the websites giving information, one presumes that data is original, for example Vostok with one source appearing to give data from the station, but another (as in Paul’s later post) showing that there was very limited data actually recorded at the weather station. The more I dig, the more I find we are being misled.

  14. March 24, 2022 11:21 am

    This illuminated phrase got my attention: “Indeed, science can’t say for sure……”

    “Science” does not say a thing, let alone with surety. “Science” is not some little animated entity, running around making pronouncements.. Results from the interpretation of data and observations collected to test an hypothesis by SCIENTISTS (so-called, today) or others constitutes what we call “science”. Oh, and the data must be produced for others to test for, hopefully, similar results.

    When you hear, “Trust the science,” it would properly be “Trust the SCIENTIST.” AND, boys and girls, that is where the rub comes in with today’s crop of so-called “scientists.”

  15. March 24, 2022 11:48 am

    I find it hard to believe there is no independent temperature measurement which would either confirm or deny the stated temperatures.

    It’s all very well saying they were model outputs, but if they actually happened they still actually happened !

    As others have asked, what do the satellites say?

    • norman paul weldon permalink
      March 25, 2022 8:52 am

      The DMI is a good source for Arctic data, look at the graph for temperature north of 80 degrees here:
      You can clearly see the spike in temperature of around 15C above average.
      They also give water/ice surface temperatures for the last month and you can go back to15th/16th March and see the rise in temperature, circa 20C.
      So the rise of 20C above average for the Arctic would appear to have a sound basis. What the report has not done is to put it into context which makes it completely misleading.
      Such events are not unusual, and if you look back as far as 1972 and 1976 in the archives for north of 80 degrees, you will see that around the same time of year there were much greater spikes, at a time when the Arctic ice was much more extensive.
      The cause is the introduction of warm air from Atlantic fronts, caused by a blocking of high pressure over NW Europe, which we have now in the Baltics where I live. Deep depressions therefore travel north into the Arctic rather than west or northwest across Europe.

  16. Sylvia permalink
    March 24, 2022 1:51 pm

    Actually, if you look at the WORLD temperatures for the last 50/60 years it has been COOLING by miniscule increments. They are probably too small for the “warming” fraternity to see or understand so they carry on with their lies !!!

  17. Ben Vorlich permalink
    March 25, 2022 9:10 am

    The MSM are catching up with you slowly

    ‘Green’ power plant that burns wood pellets instead of coal gets £2m a DAY in subsidies, energy firm’s report shows

  18. Coeur de Lion permalink
    March 25, 2022 9:56 am

    O/T again I’m afraid but in this world of gas shortage and energy horrors our blessed windmills are producing ONE POINT NINE NINE PER CENT of our electricity. (Gridwatch 0945 25 March). That’ s four days and counting.

  19. StephenP permalink
    March 25, 2022 10:21 am

    Interesting article in the DT today shows that some data on past years might surface.

  20. jimlemaistre permalink
    March 25, 2022 4:21 pm

    Thank You Paul for your wisdom and for showing that PROOF and REAL SCIENCE have meaning !!!

    This is the answer I just received from Popular Science in response to one of their ridiculous Climate Change articles . . .

    Your comment on Why some climate change adaptations just make things worse has been rejected as it contains content that is in breach of our community guidelines.

    Posted 3/19/2022, 22:19

    Climate Change is a 100% natural phenomenon conveniently ignored by Environmental activists the World over. Looking back to 1750 or 1850 is an infinitesimally small guide to life on Planet Earth. If you or anyone is truly serious about Climate Change , then the whole of the Holocene must be used as a guide and compared to the present.

    CO2 Cradle of Life on Planet Earth | Jim Le Maistre –

    Otherwise everything is based on false supposition, propaganda and inflated Fear Mongering. Today in what is described as ‘An Inter Glacial Period’, The Holocene, we are having a reprieve from the incessant violence brought upon the World by Volcanoes. Planet Earth is warm for only the second time in 250 thousand years. This Warming Period permits Food Production in the Prairies, Europe and China. Places where 10 kilometers of Ice would usually stand. For little more than 10 thousand years Humanity has had it good. Life for 7 billion people is possible. A mere 25 million souls occupied Equatorial regions of the Earth when Volcanoes and Ice Ruled the World. Let us learn to give thanks to Global Warming and learn to respect Nature as the Supreme Ruler of our Climate and of true Climate Change on our Little Blue Planet. Reflect first on the past before making unfounded, exaggerated and historically unfounded statements about Life on Planet Earth.

    Climate Change For the 21 st Century | Jim Le Maistre –

  21. EyeSee permalink
    March 25, 2022 5:40 pm

    Aren’t models real life then? I mean, 500,000 definitely died in the UK directly of Covid as Never Wrong Ferguson modelled.

  22. Chris Morris permalink
    March 25, 2022 6:05 pm

    It is very easy to show the whole story about Antarctica is BS. One only has to go to this website and look at the temperatures on the day of the red map (18th March) There is also a feature there that allows one to see what the temperature range is for any particular month (real climate data). Neither Vostok or South Pole show anything out of the ordinary.
    So yet again, the narrative doesn’t match the facts. If I found it in less than 10 minutes on Google, so anyone else can. And the alarmists are delusional enough to think that it is a “dis-information” campaign that is stopping their message spreading. How about they just acknowledge that people are seeing through their lies?

    • norman paul weldon permalink
      March 26, 2022 8:46 am

      Your website shows that although temperatures at the south pole were near normal, Vostok did actually record a high of -20C on the 18th March, compared with a present temperature of -58C, which would be around normal for the time of year.
      How often this can happen is not clear from the website, but I doubt it is unprecedented.
      Assuming the data to be correct, there does seem to be a basis for the reported temperatures.
      That does not, however, excuse the report which is totally misleading, and obviously written by someone without any clue of the subject.

  23. March 25, 2022 6:34 pm

    I looked for recent reported temperatures for Vostok station and the highest temperature I can find is -20C on Fri Mar 18.

    How exceptional such a temperature is, I have no idea, since historical figures seem thin on the ground.

  24. Chris Morris permalink
    March 25, 2022 7:51 pm

    If you go to the climate averages on that station page, it shows the average high for that month is -52°. However, if you then go to Wikipedia, the highest ever recorded in March at Vostok is -17.7,%286.8%20%C2%B0F%29%2C%20which%20occurred%20on%205%20January%201974.
    So the temperature was well above average, but not record breaking.

    • Chris Morris permalink
      March 26, 2022 4:41 am

      It now looks like the Wikipedia entry was updated straight after the 18th. The previous high was -30° – so the temperature was a lot higher for that day.

  25. REM permalink
    March 26, 2022 8:09 am

    None of the counter argument has appeared in what passes for “mainstream” media these days. Not surprising. The Times editor seems to have shares in windmills as that “newspaper” has had two of its female columnists supporting onshore windmills in the past week (you’re a nimby if you’re against them) and today has two pieces, one in news and one in business, describing how Johnson doesn’t want fracking but does want onshore windmills. This stuff is a big reason why I stopped buying it but can see what they are up to from headers and opening paras on the web site. Perhaps they have accepted the Gates’ Foundation shillings too but are more secretive about it than the FT and the Guardian.

  26. March 27, 2022 4:31 pm

    Snow in a ‘heatwave’…

    A heat wave and snowfall: Why researchers are puzzled by Antarctica’s recent weather
    March 27, 2022

    …temperatures, which reached around 10 degrees Fahrenheit, arrived courtesy of a history-making atmospheric river — a plume of concentrated moisture that flows through the sky. This one brought an incredible dump of snow in the inner reaches of the ice sheet, something quite rare for the area.
    . . .
    Having snowfall during a heat wave might sound counterintuitive, but this is Antarctica, after all, where inland winter temperatures routinely fall beneath 60 degrees below zero.
    . . .
    “It added much more mass to the ice sheet than it took away,” Wille said. “Events like this, they help mitigate some of the sea level rise caused by climate change” by storing water as polar ice.
    [bold added]
    – – –
    Gets ‘warmer’ i.e less bitterly cold, get more snow cover. Polar regions are just different.

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